July 29, 2010

Health Food Café - Art of Eating, Dun Laoghaire

I found this little Health Food Shop/Health Food Café on the weekend which served my food-allergy concerns to a pleasing level. The Art of Eating is a stones throw from the main centre of Dun Laoghaire. It is a teensy little place with only a window bar to sit at for in-house dining but it has a comfortable environment and friendly service.
The dishes on offer were mainly rice and noodle options with a generally Asian feel in a variety of vegetarian, vegan and omnivore. I was a bit confused about the pricing as the main dishes are priced by weight and I didn't really know what I was gauging as the prices weren't clearly displayed.
I had a chicken rice dish and my sister had a tofu rice dish. They tasted of homemade Asian food. My meal consisted of an Americano with soya milk and a small serving of the main course on a side dish sized plate. There is a strong vibe of organic and whole-food as would be expected from a health food store's café but the best part for me was the service. It was really great and approachable and allergy-friendly.
My meal and my sisters meal were both €6.10 each which wasn't amazing value considering the size but it was good quality an full of good flavour.

Art of Eating
Georges Street Upper
Dun Laoghaire
Co. Dublin

For a full list of food allergy friendly dining options please see the 'Restaurant Directory' page located under the main title

July 28, 2010

Vegan Friendly - Govinda's Vegetarian Restaurant!

Many moons ago I was curious to eat in Govinda's Vegetarian Restaurant on Aungier street. I had heard about their good value and tempting menus but to my disappointment I found that every dish on the menu that day had some form of cow's milk. I never returned, understandably... until yesterday, that is. I was meeting a friend for lunch and our requirements were dairy free and good value for money. Surprisingly Govinda's came up trumps! We were ready to look elsewhere should the menu not contain anything dairy free but things have changed over the years.. Not only was there a vegan option on the menu, in fact there were three or four and you can get a bit of everything of all on the one plate!

For those of you who don't know, Govinda's is a Hare Krishna restaurant which is set up in a canteen style with changing dishes each day. The Hare Krishna's are vegetarian but not vegan. Milk is not a problem but eggs are due to the possibility of fertilization. If I were a vegan I would find this soooo frustrating - being so close yet so far away but luckily those days are history. It would seem that Govinda's now serve vegan options on a regular basis much to the delight of both the vegan and the dairy free population... however, the 'sweets of the day' on this occasion were not quite as understanding but i'll keep a keen eye on them.

In addition to our dairy free requirements, our second requirement for this lunch date was value for money and indeed we were satisfied. There are two plate sizes for main courses - 'Regular' at €6.95 and 'Large' at €10.45. I opted for 'Regular' and at first glance I thought I was going to be hungry soon after my meal because the 'Regular' plate is a small side-plate size but boy-oh-boy do they ever pile the food on. So much so in fact that I fear the Large could almost be too much (despite my notoriously large appetite!). The food was good, filling, cheap and of course dairy free. My only regret is that I didn't try out something from their 'Snacks and Nibblers' menu but I suppose I can look forward to that on my next visit.

For more information on Govinda's and their three different locations in Dublin, their locally produced ingredients from their farm in Fermanagh as well as details about their spiritual centre and information on vegetarianism please see their website

44 Aungier Street
Dublin 2
Tel: (01) 475 0309
Web: www.govindas.ie
Opening Hours: Mon-Sat 12:00-21:00

18 Merrion Row
Dublin 2
Tel: (01)661 5095
Web: www.govindas.ie
Opening Hours: Mon-Sat 12:00-21:00

83 Middle Abbey Street
Dublin 1
Tel: (01) 872 7463
Web: www.govindas.ie
Opening Hours: Mon-Sat 12:00-21:00; Sun 12:00-19:00

For a full list of food allergy friendly dining options please see the 'Restaurant Directory' page located under the main title

July 26, 2010

YorkTest & Vegan Bread on the Horizon

I at last (Friday morning) received my FoodScan 113 Food Intolerance Test from YorkTest Laboratories but had to wait ever so patiently until today to prick my finger and send it off. I have no doubt that YorkTest Laboratories manage perfectly well each and every day in getting the results of everyone’s food intolerance tests completed within their 48 hour turnaround but little miss paranoid (aka me) became so worked up over postal times and turnarounds and inaccuracies in tests processed after 48 hours that I couldn’t relax with just the free post envelope as my insurance and so forked out an extra €20.40 for a DHL overnight courier. I know that it was probably unnecessary and excessive but all the literature on food intolerance blood tests stress the importance of the 48 hours so much that I thought better safe than sorry… or worse still – unsure! So it is in the post and on its way to York and I patiently wait once more for the 10 working days to pass until I have my results. Generally I’m like a child on Christmas when waiting for any type of test results but it’s especially true with this one. I am really looking forward to getting a clear and concise guide to my personal food allergies and intolerances and ending all the smoke and mirrors in relation to my digestion problems.
Also on the weekend I had the pleasure of attending the Dun Laoghaire Festival of World Cultures. The weather was lovely and some of the shows were really captivating. Of course one of the main attractions for me is always browsing the different food stands and seeing what’s on offer for us dietary restricted folk and to my delight I fell upon a stall from France airing luxuries from ‘The Baking House’ based in Co. Wicklow. I almost passed them by trying to not torture myself by ogling all of their custard flans and whatnot but to my surprise I found at the end of their spread of buttery rainbow of creations: two different milk free, sugar free, egg free vegan breads - An Apricot Loaf and a Walnut & Date Loaf!
I wasn’t able to sample them this time as I had limited storage space and had just eaten but word on the street is that The Baking House takes a stall at Dun Laoghaire’s famous Peoples’ Park market on Sundays! So I have the market penciled into my diary for Sunday week and hope that the taste matches the appearance of this find!

July 22, 2010

Food Allergy Friendly: Caramel Choices

Oh my goodness... As I type the most wonderful dairy free, wheat free, gluten free, and egg free sugary sweet is melting on my tongue. I feel like a child in Ireland on summer holidays and tucking into a box of roses (the sky is just about as grey as it was then too! haha).
Now, the reality of the matter is that there is only one flavour in my box and that I'm not going to get sick after these ones! A vegan friend had been telling me to try these little parcels of goodness after she had discovered them but I was either off sugar or they were out of stock, blah, blah, and blah - BUT, at last the day has come!
They are one of the few genuine alternatives to milk chocolate that I have come across which don't compromise on taste. Added bonus is that they're all Irish!
There were 12 in the box. I have just scoffed four and will have to race over to my dairy free sister's house with the next one (before I eat them all) because she needs cheering up after a mishap with a 'supposedly' dairy free brownie - further investigation needs to be done on the brownie front...

Brand: Choices Dairy Free Confectionery
Variety: Caramel Flavoured Choices

Ingredients: Sugar, Cocoa Butter, Fondant (Sugar, Glucose Syrup, Water) Cocoa Mass, Rice Powder (Rice Syrup, Rice Starch, Rice Flour), Invert Syrup, Inulin, Water, Coconut Oil, Natural Flavourings, Emulsifier (Soya Lecithin)


*dairy free
*wheat free
*gluten free
*egg free

Price: €2.99
Local Dublin Supplier: Restore Health Food Store

July 21, 2010

Food Allergy Friendly: Dorset Cereals - Pistachio & Pumpkin Seed Chunky Slice

Ok, I was starving when i was taking the picture of this bar and I have to say that a gooey texture is always a seller for me. I enjoy sticky consistencies and the pistachio & pumpkin seed chunky slice is definitely sticky-gooey. My mouth was watering in anticipation of the moment of truth... And the outcome? It’s nice. It’s quite sweet (possibly too sweet for many) but it has an underlying hearty feel which counteracts the sweetness in my view. Rather than a snack I would put it in the category of dessert bar or a healthier option coffee bar but i would definitely count it as a potential if sugar were not a problem (note: the refined sugar levels are low but still in there..)

Brand: Dorset Cereals
Variety: Delicious Pistachio & Pumpkin Seed Chunky Slice

Ingredients: chopped sultanas (21%), agave nectar (14%), toasted and malted spelt flakes (12%) (spelt, sugar, salt, malt), toasted and malted oat flakes (11%) (oat flakes, malt), pistachios (10%), chopped dates (9%), finely ground hazelnuts (6%), pumpkin seeds (5%), sunflower seeds (4%)


*dairy free

Price: €1.69
Local Dublin suppliers: The Hopsack

July 20, 2010

The Big Test

I’m just back from Sweden and the ball is rolling! I have eaten all the food that I’m allergic or intolerant to. It was hard and continues to be hard. It always seems easy in theory and even gleefully bold in the beginning (Herräng’s famous brownies and banana bread and ice cream, Stockholm’s amazing array of pastries, the best creamy vegetable soup ever, brown breads, pizza and sour cream, cheeses, Kek chocolate bars, etc, etc, etc..) but I feel SO bad by the end of it that I can’t WAIT to get back on the band wagon... I miss my band wagon…
You may ask Why Did You Do It? Especially when I am always preaching how you should stick to your food intolerant/allergic diet at all costs but I promise I have a genuine and useful motivation: After many food allergy tests with their differing and sometimes confusing results I have decided to bite the bullet and get the ‘big one’. After doing my research (and not having €1000s of euro to contribute to a personalized consultant –least of all a car to bring me to their obscure locations) I have settled on the somewhat cheaper alternative of £265, ‘FoodScan 113 Food Intolerance’ test supplied by YorkTest, http://www.yorktest.com/ which tests for allergies and intolerances to 113 foods. I have seen wonderful results in friends and I have read similar reports. The main attraction is the means of communicating the results. It seems that you take a blood test (supplied through the post by YorkTest) and return it to their laboratories in a specified time frame after which they send you a breakdown of the level/intensity of intolerances to each food tested. Personally I feel that the varying intensity of the intolerances will be hugely beneficial in my day-to-day life and I’m QUITE excited about the results! In addition they supply two phone consultations and are the only food intolerance test endorsed by Allergy UK!
Anywho, back to the deal: to get the most accurate results I have read that it is important to be consuming all food types (if possible) before taking a food allergy test in order to get the most accurate results. Supposedly if you haven’t consumed a problem food in a long time it might not register on your test and seeing that I don’t have any life threatening allergies I opted for obtaining the most accurate results and have been ‘indulging’. However, the outcome of this is currently a sore throat, coughing, mucous and headaches, oh those damn sinus headaches! Not to mention the lethargy and muscle pains, stomach cramps and grey face and general lack of motivation and personality dullness and disturbed sleep patterns and ‘yuck’ feeling in my mouth…
BUT, I have been at this for a few days and on Sunday night officially ordered the test. I’m expecting the test to arrive on Wednesday or Thursday and then I think that I will complete and return it on the following Monday to ensure that it gets back in the required time frame. I just can’t WAIT to get it because once that blood is in the post I can go back to my ‘regular diet’ until I get the big results and kick this wee illness in the be-hind!
Well that’s it for now – Talk soon!
Hej Hej ;)