November 24, 2010

Informed Food Allergy Shopping - Marks & Spencer

Grocery stores can make me so happy and so angry all in the space of minutes. I hate the crowds, and the aggressive trolley shoppers. I hate the ever changing location of foods and I hate how their home brands are slowly taking over everything... But then, I love how you can get everything in one place (almost!), how you can stay for hours reading every label in intricate detail without annoying the shop keeper and how you can ponder, for ages, exactly what you want without anybody making you feel embarrassed and, I do love having a choice of products... The most contradictory thing about all of this is my love for Marks & Spencer's Food and Wine department. They have all of the bad bits in extreme fashion but despite these Marks is still one the best supermarkets I can find. A couple of things that just keep pulling me into Marks & Spencer time and time again:

- Almost anything you buy will taste great.
- Their amazingly pro-active food allergy friendly labeling practice.

When I shop at Marks I know what I'm buying. They label everything they sell be it from the bakery, the fresh foods or even the beverages! Everything gets labelled with food allergy advice stating if it 'contains' or is 'made in a factory that uses' the following food allergens:

- Nuts
- Sesame
- Cow's Milk
- Ewe's Milk
- Goat's Milk
- Buffalo Milk
- Eggs
- Fish
- Shellfish
- Soya
- Wheat
- Rye
- Barley
- Oats
- Gluten
- Phenylalanine
- Salt Substitute Potassium Chloride
- Sulphites
- Celery
- Mustard

But if that wasn't enough pro-active food allergy friendly behaviour from a large multi-national then hold onto your hat because to top it all off Marks and Spencer also offers one of the best things I can imagine as a food allergy sufferer: Lists of all the foods they sell which are:

- Yeast Free (29 pages)
- Dairy Free (17 pages)
- Egg Free (26 pages)
- Gluten Free (currently being updated)
- Nut Free (26 pages) and
- Soya Free (28 pages)

and even a few combined lists:
- Gluten & Dairy Free
- Nut & Sesame Free
- Soya & Dairy Free

These lists can be requested through their Customer Service Team on 0845 302 1234 or you can obtain them through the following link:
And seriously, what more can you ask for from a grocery store?

Marks & Spencer
15-20 Grafton St
Dublin 2
tel: (01) 679 7855
opening times: mon-wed, fri 09:00-20:00; thurs 09:00-21:00; sat 08:30-20:00; sun 11:00-19:00

Marks Spencer
Jervis Centre (direct entrance to food & wine dept from Upper Liffey St))
24-29 Mary St
Dublin 1
tel:(01) 872 8833
opening times: mon-wed 09:00-19:00; thurs 09:00-21:00; fri 09:00-20:00, sat 08:30-19:00, sun 11:00-19:00

Marks & Spencer
Unit A-B Tallaght Cross
Dublin 24
tel: (01) 452 2908
opening times: mon-wed, sat 09:00-19:00; thurs-fri 09:00-21:00; sun 11:00-18:00

Marks & Spencer
Unit 1-28 Dundrum Town centre
Dublin 14
tel: (01) 299 1300
opening times: mon-wed 09:30-21:00; thurs-fri 09:30-22:00; sat 09:00-19:00; sun 10:00-19:00

Marks & Spencer
Frascati Shopping Centre
Rock Road, Blackrock
Co. Dublin
tel: (01) 205 5110
opening times: mon-wed, sat 08:30-19:00; thurs-fri 08:30-21:00; sun 11:00-18:00

Marks & Spencer
Liffey Valley Centre
Font Hill, Clondalkin
Dublin 22
tel: (01) 616 1800
opening times: mon-tues 09:30-20:00; wed-fri 09:30-21:00; sat 09:00-19:00; sun 11:00-19:00

Marks & Spencer
Unit 182 The Red Mall
The Blanchards Centre, Blanchardtown
Dublin 15
tel: (01) 824 6264
opening times: mon-fri 09:00-21:00; sat 09:00-19:00; sun 11:00-19:00

Marks & Spencer
89 Lower George St
Dun Laoghaire
Co. Dublin
tel: (01) 284 1281
opening times: mon-fri 09:00-20:00; sat 09:00-19:00; sun 11:00-18:00


November 17, 2010

Eating Safe in the City - Coppinger Row

Finding food allergy friendly places to eat is not an easy task and I’m sure you are well aware of how it can become disheartening. Imagine my surprise when a lunch in town went from a 1 rating to a 10!! If that doesn’t make sense to you then I will explain: After viewing the menu of Coppinger Row sufficiently my Mom and I decided that we should be able to mix and match something together from what’s available on the menu that would suit our diets which are both heavily dictated by food allergies.
We were initially disappointed after being seated that some of the items on the outside menu that we were banking on were not listed on our presently available menu. However, after ordering our customized meals (Mom was getting roast chicken with mixed leaves, no dressing, just oil and I was getting the wild boar with mixed leaves, no dressing, just oil and a piece of lemon to squeeze on it because "we have food allergies"). We were then completely shocked when our waiter asked us what foods we were allergic to because the chef likes to know!?!? How wonderfully proactive!…
After a moderate wait we received our respective dishes. At this point I was suddenly disappointed to see a type of gravy on my meat and no lemon but much to my surprise I found that the lemon had been pre-squeezed and mixed into my salad and that the ‘gravy’ was in fact just the juice from the cooking of the meat with port greatly reduced in to order to get an excellent tasty and allergy free sauce that suited my needs! The meat was so tender (as expected) and everything was fresh fresh fresh. My Mom was equally pleased with her simple but tasty food allergy friendly lunch.
If truth be known I was doubtful that everything was allergy free purely because it was so full of flavor! In fact, I was so doubtful about the gravy that after the meal I asked the waiter again and he went back to the chef to confirm and told me everything was as I said... Amazingly I walked away with a full tummy and a happy face.


-wheat free and onion free gravy

-open to customized meals outside of the menu

-good quality fresh food

-vinegar free salad was not a problem

-list of personal food allergies happily received (and actually requested!)

The Coppinger Row venue has seen a few establishments pass though it over the last couple of years so I can only hope that this top quality restaurant manages to stick around.
So food allergy diners please find your way to this laid back but contemporary restaurant for a Mediterranean lunch, dinner or Sunday brunch and help support one of Dublin's few food allergy friendly restaurants!

Coppinger Row
off South William St.
Dublin 2
Tel: (01) 672 9884
Opening Times: Tues-Sat 12:00-17:30 & 18:00-23:00; Sun 12:30-16:00 & 18:00-21:00

November 9, 2010

Nourish - Irish Owned & Family Run

I was surprised to discover that the ‘relatively new’ health food & beauty chain that seems to have swept Dublin since it opened in 2004 is neither new nor foreign. This Irish family owned business has been in operation since 1986! Since its rebranding six years ago, the previously named ‘The General Health Food Store’ has blossomed into the six fleet strong healthfood and beauty chain which is reaching food allergy needs across Dublin.
Nourish is a well stocked shop with an almost equal balance of natural beauty products, nutritional supplements and health food products. The best thing about Nourish is that they haven’t quarantined themselves to the south side of the city centre like most of the competition. As you can see above, out of the three city centre locations TWO are in Dublin 1!! This coupled with their shelf of snack bars
and sweets and raw products makes shopping on the north side with food allergies and/or dietary requirements an easier task should hunger strike without notice.

- Two Dublin 1 locations for north-side shoppers, browsers and tourists
- Wide range of food allergy friendly chocolates and bars
- Large range of vegan products
- Many raw products
- Good choice of natural skin care and beauty products for sensitive skins

The Nourish flagship, located on Wicklow St, is about double the size of the other city centre locations and keeps slightly longer hours than the other branches. The prices in Nourish are slightly higher than some other suppliers but the stock is up to date, the locations are convenient and the variety is so well thought out that I’m sure any quibbles you have will soon be extinguished when you find yourself in
Nourish time after time with your needs met and the Irish market supported.


Nourish Health & Beauty Store
GPO Arcade, Henry Street
Dublin 1
Tel: (01) 874 3290

Nourish Health & Beauty Store
6 Lower Liffey Street
Dublin 1
Tel: (01) 873 4098

Nourish Health & Beauty Store
16 Wicklow St
Dublin 2
Tel: (01) 670 3223

Nourish Health & Beauty Store
Omni Shopping Centre, Santry
Dublin 9
Tel: (01) 862 1392

Nourish Health & Beauty Store
Nutgrove Shopping Centre, Rathfarnham
Dublin 14
Tel: (01) 493 5289

Nourish Health & Beauty Store
Morehampton Rd, Donnybrook
Dublin 4
Tel: (01) 634 9726


November 5, 2010

Sesame Free Hummus - I Found You!

One of the hardest things that i have had to give up since I was told that I can't have sesame seeds is hummus. Some people don't realize that tahini is one of the main ingredients in hummus, next to chickpeas. And of course, tahini as we know, is a sesame seed paste. It is a simple pleasure but one that I weigh upon heavily. I used to eat it on toast, with nachos, with breadsticks, with carrots, on pizza (yes, on pizza - its amazing if you are having a cheese free pizza!!) and basically anything else I could think of. Sometimes I just ate it on its own!
Now that the veil has been lifted on my food allergies and intolerances I've been quietly suffering my hummus withdrawal but the symptoms of desire are not going away this time! Sooo... I decided to try and make a sesame free hummus myself -substituting the tahini for a sunflower seed butter (available in many healthfood shops as an alternative to peanut butter). Below is my result:

Sesame Free Hummus

2 x 250g cans of chickpeas (drained & reserve 100ml of the draining from one can)
2 x lemons (juiced)
75ml extra virgin olive oil
3 x large garlic cloves (chopped)
1 1/2 tbls sunflower seed paste or butter (tahini substitute)
sea salt

Blend the chickpeas with the garlic and reserved water with a hand held or stationary blender for 1-2 minutes or until all the chickpeas have been broken down. Add the lemon juice, olive oil and sunflower seed butter and blend until smooth. Salt to taste and blend again briefly. Serve with nachos, pitta bread, rustic bread or vegetable sticks.