Is Prosecco gluten free and vegan?

I am developing our spring and summer cake ranges at the moment. After the success of our gin and tonic cakes, it seemed like a good idea to try another favourite drink in cake form. Prosecco is a delicious and much-loved Italian white wine, which seems perfect for a spring cake.

Let’s start with the good news. Is Prosecco gluten free? I would never say that all Prosecco is 100% gluten free, but I think it is fair to say, it is pretty much gluten free. Obviously, wines aren’t fermented from gluten-containing ingredients, like beer or whisky are, but there are possible sources of gluten contamination. For example, some wine barrels are sealed with a gluten-containing paste. It is possible that this gluten could contaminate the wine inside. However, Prosecco is produced using the Charmat-Martinotti method, which uses steel tanks, rather than casks or fermenting in the bottle. This means Prosecco is cheaper to produce, and removes the potential gluten source of the cask sealant. Hooray!

Photo by Mikes Photos on Pexels.com

Is Prosecco vegan? Maybe. The Charmat-Matinotti method requires clarification of the Prosecco, after the second fermentation. This process is called fining. A fining agent is added to the wine to bond with suspended particles, such as grape fragments, and even soluble substances, such as tannins. Some fining agents are of animal origin: egg whites, casein from milk, gelatin, and isinglass from the swim bladders of fish (as an aside, how did anyone discover this? “Well, Gianni, we’ve tried tiger spleen and armadillo kidney, but it’s not clarifying the wine. Let’s give it one last go with a goldfish swim bladder and see what happens.”) Wines made using animal-origin fining agents may be a concern to vegans. The good news is that there are non-animal alternatives made from minerals, for example bentonite clay or activated charcoal. The only way to know is to check the brand of Prosecco you are buying. Luckily, the fantastic website, Barnivore, has already done the hard work for you. You can be sure that we will check the brands we use to make sure that they are vegan.

Is Prosecco gluten free and vegan? Very probably, and maybe!

The Cost of Multiple Allergies

Last year, I saw an Instagram post by AllergyKid2006 that showed the impact of food allergies on budgets. Another family commented that it becomes even more expensive when there are multiple allergies. Those families live in the USA, but it certainly seems like we pay more to keep the Allergy Brothers safely fed in the UK too. I wondered how much the difference in prices is exactly, so I took a notebook along to my last supermarket shop…

Regular Food

Allergy Brothers’ Equivalent

Asda Soft White Rolls £1

Asda Fusilli 45p

Asda Semi-skinned milk 48p per litre

Fairtrade Dairy Milk chocolate (45g) 60p

Old El Paso Regular tortillas (326g) £1.49

Asda Golden Balls cereal (375g) 89p

Asda Sunflower spread 90p

Radox Kids Bath and Body Wash (400ml) £2.50

Pizza and Pastry Multimix £2.99

Eskal Corn Pasta £2.02

Ecomil Almond Milk £2.49 per litre

Kinnerton Free From Chocolate (85g) £1.30

Old El Paso White corn tortillas (208g) £1.90

Nature’s Path Munch cereal (300g) £3.89

Pure Sunflower Spread £2.35

Jason Chamomile Body Wash (887ml) £10.99

It’s shocking to see the differences in prices. This doesn’t include additional costs, such as petrol used to travel to larger supermarkets or the cost of electricity or gas to bake the bread mixes.

In the UK, gluten free foods used to be prescribed by doctors so people with Coeliac disease could access them for free. This has been restricted since December 2018 to just bread and mixes, although, in some areas, even this has been stopped. The Allergy Brothers have never been eligible for any financial help, as they have allergies, not Coeliac disease; and they are allergic to most of the prescribable breads anyway!

AllergyKid2006 linked to an American not-for-profit organisation called the Food Equality Initiative, which provides free from foods to families in need, who have allergies or Coeliac disease. As food bank use soars in the UK and the NHS stops prescribing safe foods, it seems likely that we are going to need a British equivalent to the Food Equality Initiative or see families really struggling to feed their children safely.

Future of The Allergy Brothers (& GDPR)

The Allergy Brothers has always been a team effort with the boys and I working together to test foods and develop recipes (Allergy Dad is chief cake tester!).  Allergy Wizard is particularly motivated and will tell anyone, who will listen, about the blog.

Recently, we visited our favourite, local whole foods shop, Cornflower in Brightlingsea.  Allergy Wizard was busy talking to Christy, Cornflower’s owner, about our cakes.  She was so impressed by his sales pitch that she gave him some free ingredients to make her some samples.  We were very pleased and surprised when Christy asked if she could stock our cakes.  Yay!

It turns out there are, rightly, lots of hoops to jump through before you can sell food to the public.  I am pleased to say I passed my Level 2 in Food Hygiene and Handling.  My next job is to complete a 92 page document for the Environmental Health Officer!

I don’t know if this is feasible, but we are going to give it our best shot.  The Allergy Brothers will become a food producing company.20180524_122818

And now for the compulsory GDPR information!  If you subscribe to the blog or you leave a comment then you will have typed in your name and email address.  This information stays with WordPress (our website publisher) and we do not have access to that information.

Thank you, if you have subscribed.  We will still be updating the blog, but not as often.  We will also be updating our Instagram regularly too.

Planet Organic – New Shops

You may remember that I was recently very impressed by my online shopping experience using Planet Organic.  In fact, I was so impressed that I joined their Affiliate programme (so this post contains affiliate links, which don’t change the price for you, but help to support this website financially).

The Planet Organic Shop now has new ways of shopping by diet.  There is a gluten free shop, and I was really impressed that this included groceries and a health and beauty section.  People often forget that products, which go on the outside of your body, can cause a reaction.

Planet Organic also have a new Planet Organic Living website.  I was particularly pleased by the products in the Picnicware and Lunchboxes section.  The Allergy Brothers almost always have to take packed food with them wherever they go.  I do feel quite guilty about how many single use packaging materials we use.  I think the Beeswax Wraps, sturdy, metal elephant lunch boxes and these metal reuseable straws would be particularly useful for us.



Happy Birthday, Allergy Dad! (Vegan, GF)

I think it is fair to say that cake decorating is not my forté.  This always presents a bit of a problem because lots of cake decorating cheats have wheat, rice flour or coconut oil in their ingredients so the Allergy Brothers can’t eat them.

Allergy Dad is a big fan of the colour black.  He has an entirely monochromatic wardrobe.  I did think about making a cake with activated charcoal as an ingredient.  Unfortunately, I discovered that activated charcoal can decrease the effectiveness of medication by absorbing it.  This would be a bad idea for the whole family!

I was really pleased to find these edible black rose cake decorations online.  They are vegan, gluten free and Allergy Brother friendly.  I would definitely use this seller – Simply Toppers – again.  The roses looked beautiful, and I was amazed that they had packed them so carefully that they arrived in perfect condition.  In fact, Simply Toppers sell lots of other really nice cupcake decorations so I will probably be cheating by using their products again.
I used our regular chocolate cake recipe and Allergy Dad was able to have a cake he deserved, but that the Allergy Brothers could still eat.  Happy Birthday, Allergy Dad!

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Planet Organic

I recently had an Allergy Mum fail.  We started to run out of Ecomil Almond milk.  Normally, we buy this from a wholesaler, but, for various reasons to do with deliveries and school runs, we have to do this in the school holidays.  It was clear that Allergy Little was going to run out of his favourite breakfast drink before the next school holiday.  I had a google about and discovered a company that was new to me – Planet Organic.


I was really amazed by the range of non-dairy products that they stocked.  I was able to buy some products that I didn’t even know existed – Ecomil Chufa nut milk, Ecomil Béchamel Cream, and Ecomil Cashew Nut Cream.  When our order arrived, I was also pleased how well the products were packed.  We buy a lot of food online and it can be a bit of a lottery whether delicate products actually get to you in one piece, but the whole Planet Organic order was really carefully packed.  At the risk of sounding like Victor Kiam in the Remington razor advert (showing my age a bit there – here’s a link for the young ones among you, who have no idea what I am burbling about), I was so impressed that I joined the Affiliate programme.  If you feel like checking out this company, then any purchases you make (at no cost to you) will help support this website.

Vegan Cheese Omelette!

Recently, Allergy Little had to have a day off school because he had a cold.  Obviously, I wasn’t pleased that he was ill, but it was nice to have my cooking wingman back for the day.  It was like the beginnings of this blog when he was at home during the day while Allergy Big was at school. Enough reminiscing…

Allergy Little and I decided to try Terra Vegane’s Egg-free Omelette Mix, which we bought from The Veggie Stuff website.  The ingredients of the mix are Potato Starch, Cassava Starch, Chick Pea Flour, Amaranth Flour, Sunflower Oil, Nutritional Yeast, Corn Starch, Baking Agent (Potassium-Tartrate, Sodium Bicarbonate), Turmeric, Kala-Namak Salt.

The mix is easy to prepare as you simply mix 4 tbsp of omelette mix with 4 tbsp. water.  Allergy Little and I were very surprised by how eggy and sulphurous this smelt, as eggy as an egg mayonnaise sandwich left in a plastic lunchbox on a hot coach on a summer term school trip.  Luckily, the smell quickly disappeared.

We cooked the omelette mix in a little olive oil, and used Vegamigo Pizza Melty vegan cheese as the filling.  And what we ended up with was pretty impressive.  It’s not exactly like a fluffy egg omelette, but nonetheless it tasted good and not at all like it had smelt on mixing.  The texture is different too as the cassava flour makes it a little doughy.  However, judged on its own merits, and not as a fake cheese omelette, it was very good.

This one gadget changed my gluten free, vegan lunches for the better!

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If your New Year’s resolution is to eat better then this post is for you!  It’s really hard to eat healthy, gluten free lunches in the winter.  Salad doesn’t seem right on a cold, sleeting day, gluten free bread doesn’t make great sandwiches, and gluten free pasta doesn’t work in pasta salads.  This is why I am so glad that a friend introduced me to a soup maker.  I do not use lots of gadgets in the kitchen, but I love my soup maker.  All you do is put the chopped up ingredients in the soup maker, and press a button.  Then you can go away and carry on with something else while it cooks and blends your soup.  My soup maker (Tefal BL841140 Easy Soup and Smoothie Maker, Stainless Steel, White) even has a keep warm function so I can have my lunch when I am ready for it.

This is my favourite recipe to cook in my soup maker.  You need to make sure all the vegetables are chopped to approximately the same size.

Ingredients

2 shallots, peeled and chopped

400g leeks, trimmed and chopped

300g potatoes, peeled if necessary and cubed

1 Knorr vegetable stock pot

1 carton of Alpro soya single cream

You just put all the ingredients in the soup maker.  I find it works best if you put the stock pot half way up the soup maker so it doesn’t get stuck to the bottom or wrapped around the blender at the top.  My soup maker has a minimum liquid level so I add a bit of water to take it to that level.  Choose the creamed soup option and off you go!

Obviously, if you work from home, like Allergy Dad does, then this works really well, but equally you could set this going in the morning and take your fresh soup in a flask with you.  This soup maker (Morphy Richards 501018 Soup and Smoothie Maker, 1.6 Litre, 1160 Watt, Red) looks like an absolute bargain.

Vegan Cheese Showdown

The holiday season has all sorts of associations for different people.  Rather shallowly and greedily, one of the things I love about Christmas is the food, especially cheese.  I was really pleased to see some new (to me) vegan cheeses on the Veggie Stuff website.  So, without further ado, it’s a vegan cheese showdown <hum the Rocky theme tune here>.

The two cheeses are Jeezini Intens and Green Vie Smoked Gouda flavour.

Obviously, the most important criteria on this site is ingredients.  The Green Vie’s ingredients are “Water, Coconut Oil (Non-Hydrogenated) (24%), Modified starch, Sea Salt, Vegan Flavourings, Smoke Flavouring, Colour: Natural Beta Carotene, Preservative: Sorbic Acid, Vitamin B12”.  The Jeezini ‘s ingredients are “Water, Plant Based Fats (Shea Kernal Oil, Coconut Oil) (23%), Modified Starch, Starch, Sea Salt, Vegan Flavour (Contains Soya Bean Oil), Olive Extract, Colour: B-carotene.”  They are both free from dairy, gluten, lactose, and palm oil.  The Green Vie brand is also soya free, while the Jeezini includes soybean oil.

Round One to Green Vie on points

Now, price – the Green Vie was £2.85 for 180g and the Jeezini Intens was £3.50 for 200g.

Round Two to Green Vie on points

Finally, it’s the taste test.  Recklessly, and despite all my previous experience with vegan cheese, I decided to try a slice uncooked.  The Jeezini was not good; it had that weird soapy taste that vegan cheese often has.  The Green Vie tasted really good.  To be fair, the Veggie Stuff website had a tip about the Jeezini “Best served at room temperature, as the flavour and texture is improved when warmer. This cheese alternative melts very well, ideally under direct heat like grilling or also zapped in a microwave.”  I grilled the cheeses on a wrap.  The Green Vie was still really good.  I am afraid that the Veggie Stuff website and I will have to agree to disagree.  Heating the Jeezini just made it stinkier and soapier.  At this stage, I decided to take The Green Vie Smoked Gouda to the ultimate level – the mighty crisp sandwich.  Some of the cheese and crushed Pom Bears in a wrap turned out to be the crowning glory of this taste test.  The Jeezini was consigned to the rubbish bin, which as I am both frugal and greedy gives you an idea of how bad it really was.

Round Three – win by knock out to Green Vie.

 

Veggie Stuff website

I needed to buy a couple of store cupboard staples (Orgran Apple and Cinnamon pancake mix, and Vegamigo pizza cheese).  It seemed sensible to look for one website that sold both these products, and so I came across the Veggie stuff website.  Really glad I did.  Fantastic website with a really wide range of vegan products.

I found some new Allergy Brother-friendly products: an omelette mix and a cream substitute.  Also, they have a really wide range of vegan cheeses.  I found two brands that I have never tried before so I will be testing those in a head-to-head comparison!  Looking forward to reviewing products from this extensive website.