Lazy Day Tiffins and Slices

This is less of a review and more of a tribute!  The other evening I was at home, the Allergy Brothers were tucked up in bed, and Allergy Dad was working as he does most weekday evenings.  There was an unexpected knock at the door.  My first thought was “it’s Halloween and I haven’t bought treats yet so I better pretend I don’t exist.”  There was a second knock; this time it was louder.  Now, I convinced myself that it was some kind of serial killer or, at best, robber.  There was a third knock; this time even louder.  And I finally realised that if I was going to be murdered in my kitchen then the perpetrator probably wouldn’t be considerate enough to not use the doorbell for fear of waking up the Allergy Brothers.  I was glad I answered the door because it was our friends, P and K, who had decided to do a run of the neighbourhood buying treats for everyone, who is home alone with sleeping little people and can’t sneak out to a shop.  What nice friends!

Two slices of chocolate tiffin on a plate next to the packaging.

For me, they had chosen Lazy Days Foods Free From Tiffin.  These are, as you would expect from such lovely friends, a really good choice.  They are free from gluten, wheat, dairy, egg, and hydrogenated fats.  They are suitable for coeliacs and vegans.  They also have a long best before date.  There are many situations where we have to buy food for large groups of people, such as buying cakes for the whole office on your birthday.  If you want to be very considerate, like P and K, then I would recommend putting an extra packet of Lazy Day Foods tiffin or slices in your supermarket basket as it just might mean that someone can actually have a treat with everyone else and it might make their day a little brighter.

Trick Or Treat With Allergies

This is the first year that the Allergy Brothers have shown any interest in Hallowe’en.  They decided that they would like to have a small party and hand out sweets to the trick or treaters.

Twp Jack O Lanterns with bags of sweets

I wanted to have a range of treats to accommodate as many food needs as possible.  I was surprised how easy it was to find allergen free sweets.  The Monster Mallows are gluten free and it turns out absolutely yummy.  The marshmallow is creamy and chewy, and the chocolate coating actually tasted like nice chocolate; in fact, it reminded me of the caramel taste of Galaxy chocolate.  The Swizzels Monster Treats mix contains soya, but it is otherwise free from gluten, dairy, and egg.  The Swizzels Double Lollies are actually suitable for the Allergy Brothers as they don’t contain soya either.  We also have some glow sticks as non-food treats.

I would love to know about any more of your tips and suggestions for Hallowe’en in the comments!

Amisa Rice Bread With Flax Seeds

Ingredients: Cereals 59% (Kibbled whole rice 37%, Millet 8%, Kibbled buckwheat 6%, Rice thickening flour 4%, Maize grits 4%), Water, Lupin flour, Flax seeds 3%, Salt, Thickener: guar gum, Yeast, Sunflower seeds, Caramel.

Amisa rice bread

My favourite thing about this product was that I looked up exactly what kibbled meant (to chop or grind up coarsely, in case you weren’t sure either) so the ingredients list enlarged my vocabulary.  If you can’t eat any other form of bread then this will be okay toasted well with something strongly flavoured, such as Gentleman’s Relish or Marmite, on it.  If you can eat other forms of bread then eat them instead.

Two slices of Amisa rice bread toasted and buttered on a plate.  One slice has a bite out of it.

Going Dutch for a Day (Gluten free) – Beer!

It’s 5.30.  It’s Friday.  It’s Vrijdagmiddagborrel or Vrijmibo, AKA Friday evening, after work drinkies, AKA Pub Club.  And I have two gluten free beverages to test.

Two bottles of beer, packets of stroopwaffels and speculooosFirstly, Mongozo Premium Pilsener.  Ingredients: Water, Barley malt, Rice, Yeast, Hops.  I picked these bottles up a long time ago at The Free From Show in London.  I wasn’t absolutely sure how a product could contain barley and still be gluten free.  The Mongozo salesman did explain it to me, but he had quite a strong accent and really quite a lot of free samples.  So I don’t understand the process, but I completely trust him because he is my best friend…

Also, while we are at it, let’s clear up some pickiness.  These beers are brewed in Belgium, but it’s for a Dutch company so they are still legit for our Dutch day.  The Pilsener was crisp, mild and fizzy.  It made me feel slightly nauseous as it brought back unpleasant memories of my teenage years.  In summary, it was exactly the same as normal lager, but without the gluten.

The second bottle had got me really excited, because it is a white beer.  I love the flavour of white beer, but it was one of the earliest signs that gluten and me were no longer friends.  One sip would really make me very ill indeed, which was so unfair as I really loved that sip.  The ingredients are water, barley malt, rice, buckwheat, yeast and hops.  My hopes were so high for this product that it seemed inevitable that they would be dashed.  And they weren’t!  This really was a fantastic product.  Light, refreshing, gently hoppy with a hint of sourdough.  If you are ordering for me at the bar, then “mine’s a Mongozo Buckwheat White Beer.”  I am buying myself a case for Christmas.

And on that happy ending, I hope you have enjoyed our wheat free/gluten free day of Dutchness, and I hope you have a great weekend.

The flags of Scotland, The UK, and The Netherlands

Going Dutch for a Day (Wheat free) – Stroopwafels

How is your Dutch day going?  It’s still raining here.  I think it is time for another snack, Molenaartje brand Spelt Stroopwafels.

Ingredients: Spelt flour (gluten), Spelt syrup, Vegetable oil (palm oil, sunflower oil, coconut oil), Rice syrup, Honey, Soy flour, Corn and barley malt syrup, Emulsifier: sunflower lecithin, Sea salt, Raising agent: sodium bicarbonate, Cinnamon, Citric acid.

May contain traces of milk, egg, sesame seeds and nuts.

These stroopwafels are about the size of a coaster.  They consist of two crisp biscuits with a sticky syrup in between.  Stroopwafels are generally very yummy and somewhat addictive.  The spelt version tasted a bit too healthy, but still had a big enough sugar hit. Thanks to that energy boost, I think I can stagger on for another two hours until the next blog, and it’s a favourite of mine.  It’s time for a borrel.  Intrigued?  See you back here at 5.30pm!

Going Dutch for a Day (Gluten free) – Speculoos

We recently had a delivery from Holland At Home so we thought we would have a Dutch day.  Plus, it feels quite Netherlandsy round here.  Firstly, it’s raining a lot at the moment.  Secondly, the landscape in our part of England is very similar to the Netherlands.  This is probably because, thirdly, we are geographically very close to the Netherlands.  This means we have lots of Dutch tourists, which is why we have the Dutch flag flying in our town.  [Sorry for the poor photo.  The Allergy Brothers’ need to get to the playground trumped my need to take a nice photo of the flags.]

The flags of Scotland, The UK, and The Netherlands

If we were in the Netherlands, then it’s probably time for a snack and some coffee.  We tried the gluten free spicy speculoos made by Consenza.

Ingredients – Cane sugar, Corn starch, Butter (milk), Tapioca flour, Potato starch, Egg, Spices (3%)(Cinnamon, Cloves, Coriander, Mace, Nutmeg, Allspice, Ginger), Dextrose, Thickener: guar gum, Lupine flour, Salt.

May contain traces of soy, sesame, and tree nuts.

These biscuits were really very cute as they are shaped like little windmills.  They had a pleasing, lightly spicy flavour, and a soft, cookie like texture.  This is particularly unusual in a gluten free product as these tend to be brittle and crisp. In fact, I was very happy with these speculoos until I got to the last one.  It had an unpleasant fibrous mass attached to it!  I can’t decide if I am glad or nauseated by the fact that it was the last one.  Certainly if it had been the first then I would have thrown the rest away, and I won’t be buying them again!

Oh well, better luck later.  We’ll meet again at 3.30pm for another fortifying snack and some more coffee (we’re going to miss lunch as a blog entry, but we’ll probably make a gluten free cheese toastie to keep to the theme!).

Holland At Home

Allergy Big is, in some ways, very English indeed.  He is a bit awkward about talking to girls, he says sorry often, and he knows that any crisis situation can be improved by having a cup of tea.  However, at breakfast, he likes to go Dutch.  Not in the sense of sharing; in fact, it is the exact opposite.  Allergy Big greatly enjoys his breakfast of rye bread spread with peanut butter and sprinkled with dark chocolate vlokken (a type of chocolate sprinkle made from ribbons of chocolate).  He started eating this when we went on holiday to The Netherlands, and he hasn’t seen a reason to stop.

When our holiday stash ran out, we had to find a source of Dutch breakfast sprinkles.  Luckily, this is not difficult these days, and, after trying a few different online suppliers, we have settled on Holland At Home.  This is an English language website that is an online Dutch supermarket.  The postage and packaging is based on the weight of the products so I like to get my money’s worth by adding on a few extra products to try each time.  This website is not really very good for allergen avoiding as often the ingredients information is missing all together.  Also, the search facility is a bit of a blunt instrument.  For example, if you search for gluten free then you will get gluten free foods, but you will also get other products, like baby wipes, that are technically gluten free, but not really what you were thinking of.

One time, when we ordered from Holland at Home, we found that the packets had been damaged so the contents were rolling around the box, and it wasn’t what we had ordered anyway.  The company dealt with this very quickly and sent us our original order again.  I was happy with this.  Mistakes happen and it is how a company deals with the inevitable mistakes that matters most.  However, I think there may have been a meeting at Holland At Home HQ to discuss how their shoddy packing had let down the whole country’s reputation as the world’s logistic experts because, since then, our order has arrived in almost comical levels of packing materials.

It seems quite innocuous from the outside, and look, they include a free memory game with Dutch images…

20151018_203702

…but, when you turn it over.

A small boy has turned over a large cardboard box, and there are packing peanuts everywhere.

It was enough that Allergy Little could make “packing peanut angels”.  The boys had enormous fun playing snow games with all the packaging materials.

Cardboard box with packing peanuts and boxes of food

We often review products that we have purchased from this website, and we will be having a gluten-free Dutch theme day later in the week!

Aduna Superfood Energy Bars

Well, I’ve messed up here a bit.  I have taken a photo of the Boabab bar, but not the Moringa bar.  I saved the wrapper of the Moringa bar for the ingredients list, and threw away the Baobab bar packaging.  It’s been one of those weeks.

Maybe I would be having a better week if I ate more food like these bars?  These bars are raw bars with a source of protein.  They are gluten free, wheat free, and contain no dairy ingredients.  Their big selling point is the presence of African superfoods, Moringa and Baobab fruit.

Let’s start with the Moringa Green Superleaf Energy bar.  Ingredients – Dates, Cashew nuts, Dried mango, Apple juice, Rice protein, Moringa leaf powder, Ground ginger.  (Made in a facility also handling other nuts, sesame seeds, gluten, milk and soya.)

I wasn’t very impressed with my first bite of this bar.  It tasted uncompromisingly leafy and green.  However, once I was used to this, it was actually quite a pleasant bar.  If getting more super foods, like Moringa, in your diet is important to you then there are certainly worse ways to do it than this bar.

Aduna Baobab Bar

The reason I didn’t keep the Baobab bar wrapper is because I actually threw half the bar away.  This is very unusual for me.  I just found the bar too tangy, tart and sour.  Baobab fruit is not my thing.

Thank you to Suma, the whole food suppliers and workers’ cooperative, for providing the free samples.  These were provided with no expectation of a review.

Thank You!

Thanks to everyone who liked, commented, and shared our giveaway.  We went old skool and actually put the names on bits of card and then chose one from the jar.  Congratulations to Nicola, who will have the box of goodies arriving at her door soon.

A kilner jar filled with colourful, illustrated cards.

Also, does anyone know the collective noun for blog followers?  A party of followers?  A hug of followers?  An ego boost of followers?!  I will have to investigate as I will soon need this knowledge because our blog followers have been steadily increasing.  Thank you so much for choosing to follow our blog.  When I was a child, one of my favourite games was to make magazines and newspapers (The Oink Times ran for several editions; it was the newspaper of an imaginary pig community!).  Having a blog has allowed me to recapture that childish pleasure, but with the added excitement of actual, real readers.  So thank you!

The Brook Inn, Washbrook, Suffolk

Allergy Dad and I have decided that our best bet for some quality time is to go out to lunch together (date lunch rather than date night).  For our inaugural date lunch, we decided to head for The Brook Inn in the small village of Washbrook.  The Brook Inn is, to all intents and purposes, a fairly regular pub that serves food, just like you would find in any village or town, except for one thing: this pub is accredited by the Coeliac Society as a gluten-free caterer.

The Brook Inn exterior.

The Brook Inn street sign.The pub itself is fairly standard.  The interior was halfway between standard British pub (dark wood furniture, horse brasses, vinyl placemats), and Scandinavian modern (off white walls, light coloured soft furnishings).  I found this a bit confusing.  I would prefer that it jumped whole heartedly in one direction or the other.  I don’t mind which, well I would prefer Scandinavian modern actually,  but the combination made it seem like it was a bit unfinished.  However, the dining room was full for a Wednesday lunchtime with several bookings so the atmosphere was convivial.

The sheer novelty of being able to choose from many options on the menu was exciting.  Some items are gluten-containing, such as pies, some items can be either, such as burgers, and some items are gluten-free, such as fish and chips.  I decided to order the Tempura-battered prawns, as I thought this might present an interesting challenge to the chef.  These came with chips and a salad (because this is a British pub and everything must be served with chips or, at least, some form of potato!).  Allergy Dad and I ordered two side orders to share: some gluten-free onion rings, and some gluten-free garlic bread.

20151007_122912Allergy Dad really enjoyed the garlic bread.  There’s a piece missing from the photo because he couldn’t wait to try it.  He also enjoyed his meal.  I was impressed by the crisp, lightness of the tempura batter as I was sceptical that you could get that texture from gluten-free batter.  Unfortunately, I found the batter rather bland.  The meal portions were very generous so I grew tired of eating the batter.  In the end, I just released the prawns and left the batter.  This was probably not helped by the fact that the onion rings used the same batter so I had ended up ordering rather a samey meal.  The chips were thick and crispy, and the salad was good too.

20151007_122856Onion rings

I was quite full, but, in order to write a complete review, I decided to selflessly try a dessert.  The entire dessert menu was gluten free.  I chose a baked white chocolate cheesecake.  This came with dark chocolate drops and sauce, and a plum compote.  It was good to eat some seasonal fruit, but I was not entirely convinced that the plum compote worked well with the white chocolate.  Maybe something like a ginger cheesecake would have worked better and brought in some earthier, Autumnal flavours.  Certainly, the cheesecake itself was excellent with a rich, crisp biscuit base that I would not have guessed was gluten free from the flavour and texture.  Unfortunately, I was very full so could not finish my generous wedge of cheesecake.

20151007_132243

The bill worked out as £20 ish per person for a main course, side order, dessert, and soft drinks.  We were happy to add a generous tip as the waitress had been helpful and polite without being overzealous.  It didn’t feel like we were being charged a premium for eating gluten free.  We will definitely return because the range of gluten free options was so good, but I think I will choose the lighter lunch options so I am not overwhelmed by the portion size, and less battered food.