April 28, 2011

Molasses & Manuka Muffins –Dairy Free, Gluten Free, Egg Free & All the Rest

Since I was struck down with my crazy food allergy blood test result I have been spending more and more time in the kitchen trying to satisfy my taste buds’ high demands. I don’t consider myself to be an amazing cook or baker but I do have a general understanding of the way it works and every now and then I strike gold… A few weeks ago, in a moment of craving mixed with a bout of domesticity I found myself in the kitchen mixing and sifting everything I could find that seemed like it might hit the spot while keeping to my food allergy free regime and… Voilà! My very own (brilliant) muffin creation which just happens to be:

- Dairy free
- Egg free
- Gluten free
- Wheat free
- Corn free
- Soya free
- Potato free
- Free from refined sugar (but obviously contains molasses & Manuka honey!)
- Vegetarian

These little cakes of joy turned out to match my personal muffin preferences to perfection! They are super soft on the inside with crispy edges on the top. I’m not sure if the tops of muffins are traditionally supposed to crack as much as these do but it’s my favourite part whether it’s ideal or not! My only word of warning is that due to their extreme softness be sure to use a toothpick to ensure they are baked all the way through and let them cool in the pan for a few minutes before removing them… and do be gentle.

Taste best on the same day of baking. I especially love them when they are still warm from the oven!

Molasses & Manuka Muffins
Yield: 12

¼ cup Pure Sunflower oil (use a good quality brand to avoid overriding flavours)
¼ cup Ground Flax seeds
¾ tsp Vanilla
1 cup Rice flour
¾ cup Tapioca flour
1 cup Ground Almonds
¾ tsp Baking Soda
¾ tsp Baking Powder
Pinch of Salt
½ cup Blackstrap Molasses
1 – 1½ heaped tbsp Manuka Honey (‘heaping’ honey is difficult so just be really generous!)
¾ cup Rice Milk

Preheat the oven to about 180C.
In a small bowl mix the sunflower oil, flax seeds and vanilla and set aside.
In a medium sized bowl combine the rice flour, tapioca flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and ground almonds together.
Add the molasses, Manuka honey, rice milk and the flax, oil & vanilla mixture and stir thoroughly until all ingredients are well combined.
Line a muffin tray with muffin papers and pour the mixture evenly between the cups filling to just under the rim of the paper liners.
Bake for approximately 20 minutes. Test with a toothpick to ensure that the muffins are fully baked, (bake for longer if necessary - until the toothpick comes out clean). The muffins should rise above the papers and crack on the tops forming crispy edges.
When fully baked remove from the oven and let stand for about 5 minutes before removing them from the pan. I find it best to gently twist and then lift them out with the aid of a butter knife.

Eat as soon as they are cool enough to not burn your tongue! –Best enjoyed on the day of baking, but if you can’t eat all 12 in one go, store in a dry airtight container once fully cooled.

April 25, 2011

There’s Allergy Free Food in Them-There-Hills! – Fallon & Byrne

It’s about high time that we talk about Fallon & Byrne. Locals of Dublin will probably be familiar with the high-end luxury grocery store/supermarket that is Fallon & Byrne, located in the city centre on Exchequer St, Dublin 2. At first glance Fallon & Byrne is a beautifully presented large gourmet grocers where the elite do their weekly grocery shopping but take a closer look and you will see that Fallon & Byrne is the place to go to if you are looking for a rare or imported item (especially unusual fruits and vegetables or cheeses), variety, quality or most importantly gourmet foods which are sometimes food allergen free! You might be surprised with what you’ll find if you take the time to browse the shelves and the ingredient lists...
On the ground floor, alongside the grocery department is a café which serves coffee and teas with soya milk upon request (I can personally recommend their amazing Chai Latté on soya milk – Yum!) and although you are not likely to find too much by way of Dairy Free sweet treats to go with your latté, you will find a small selection of Gluten Free goodies such as the Bakewell Slice which is a staple and is marked as Gluten Free. Other GF products that are unlabelled (but identified by the staff) are the Muesli Bar and the Eton Mess. I am also told that there is sometimes a gluten free brownie…

And of course, the main feature of the ground floor is the Food Hall: There are so many different products that you will uncover such as Booja Booja Ice Cream and Murphy’s Mango Sorbet which are both Dairy Free, Gluten Free, Wheat Free, Egg Free, Soya Free and Vegan (Booja Booja’s Vanilla M’Gorilla is also raw). Or perhaps you will fall upon the fabulous luxury chocolate section which is seriously extensive and full of dairy free, gluten free, wheat free and vegan options if you just take the time to uncover them.

The most exciting section in Fallon & Byrne (for me) is the baking section which is truly inspiring with loads of exciting mixes and decorative and fun products such as:

- Marshmallow FluffDairy free, Wheat free, Gluten free, Vegetarian (ingredients: corn syrup, sugar, dried egg white, vanillin)
- Willie’s Supreme Cacao, for grating or melting or whatever! – free of basically everything other then er, chocolate, which means caffeine!
- Queen Writing Icing in Black, White Fudge & Chocolate Fudge – Dairy free, Gluten free, Corn free (?), Vegan, Vegetarian
- Guanaja 70% chocolate pieces for cooking – Dairy free, Gluten free, Wheat free, Corn free, Vegetarian, Vegan (ingredients: cocoa beans, sugar, cocoa butter, soya lecithin, vanilla)
- Michel Gluizel mini grammes de chocolate Dark Chocolate Drops for cooking – Dairy free (although has a may contain notice), Gluten free (although has a may contain notice), Egg free, Soya free, Corn free, Vegetarian (ingredients: cocoa, cane sugar, cocoa butter, bourbon vanilla pod)
- Clearspring KUZU of starch thickener – Basically free of everything (ingredients: Kuzu which is a Japanese mountain plant)
- Potato Four
- Sowan’s Gluten free Organic Wholegrain Bread Mix – Gluten free, Wheat free, Corn free, Vegetarian (Ingredients: brown rice flour, potato flour, sesame seeds, bread soda, xanathan gum, sea salt)
- Glebe Farm Brown Bread, White Bread & Pizza Base Mixes – Yeast free, Gluten free, Wheat free, Corn free, Soya free, no added sugar, Dairy free (when mixed with a substitute), Egg free (when mixed with a substitute)
- Hale & Hearty Gluten Free Breadcrumbs & Allergy Friendly Crumble Topping.

Other allergy friendly foods/products stocked in Fallon & Byrne which might be of interest are Yeast Free and Vegetarian Stock cubes, Mrs. Crimbles range (flavoured rice cakes, cheese crackers, macaroons, dutch apple cake, brownies, stem ginger cake), LI Organic Linseed bread, Ener G gluten free, wheat free, soya free, dairy free, egg free, potato free, vegetarian, vegan, kosher bread loaves, Sunrise Seaweed Natural Rice Crackers, Doves Farms Gluten free & Dairy free corn flakes and Gluten Free, Wheat free, Corn free, yeast free Cereal Flakes as well as their Hazelnut and Lemon Zest Cookies Rude Health 100% Puffed Wholegrain Rice cereal, QI Quinoa Bread (note: not vegan due to honey in the leavening process), PzBu Gluten free, Dairy free & Yeast free Pizza base, Delicious Chocolate Tiffin & Macaroons, Hale & Hearty Porridge.

There is also a wine bar in the basement and a full restaurant on the upper floor but that is a log for another day ;)

Also worthy of noting - Fallon & Byrne stock some American products such as Aunt Jemima and Betty Crocker if you are have a hankering... But remember, these products are imports in Europe...

Fallon & Byrne
11 -17 Exchequer Street
Dublin 2
Tel: 01 472 1010
Web: www.fallonandbyrne.com
Opening Times: mon - wed 08:00-21:00; thurs - fri 08:00-22:00; sat 09:00-21:00; sun 11:00–19:00

April 21, 2011

The Worldwide Vegan (Dairy Free & Egg Free!)Bake Sale in Dublin – Take Part May 7th!

This spring marks the 3rd annual Worldwide Vegan Bake Sale. The Bake sale is organized by different groups in loads of countries around the world from Canada and the USA to Taiwan and Uganda! For a full list of participating countries and cities please see the bottom of this log. The Worldwide Vegan Bake Sale is happening everywhere between April 22nd – May 1st but for some reason Dublin is being a bit tardy and not hosting their bake sale until Saturday May 7th 12pm – 2pm . The sale will take place in Temple Bar in the Dublin Exchange, which is a collective art centre on Exchange Street Upper and all proceeds will be divided between the Vegetarian Society of Ireland (to put towards World Vegetarian Day 2011 and The Irish Vegetarian magazine) and World Vision Ireland's Haiti Appeal.

Also really important to mention is that Ireland is actually having two Vegan Bake Sales. The other one is happening in Maynooth, Co. Kildare on Tuesday April 26th from 9:30am – 4pm at the National University of Ireland, Maynooth. The Maynooth Vegan Bake Sale is entirely student run and will be donating all proceeds to the Leinster Animal Rescue. For more information on this bake sale email veggiesoc@nuimsu.com

And all of this of course means Dairy Free, Egg Free, Vegetarian and Vegan baked goods which will not only delight your taste buds but will also help a good cause! So put aside a few extra Euros for some baked good splurging coming up soon!

Now that you know all about it you should get your thinking caps on because not only is this a notice to keep the date but it is also an opportunity to preset your oven and get baking something vegan! If you do want to take part and volunteer in the Dublin Bake Sale by baking something or just by helping out on the day email bakesale@vegetarian.ie but please note: if you are planning on baking something you will have to remember that Vegan does not only mean Meat Free, Dairy Free and Egg free, but is Free from ALL animal derived products such as:
- Honey
- Gelatin (from an animal source)
- Rennet
- Lard, etc.

For more information on Veganism and what else the Vegan Society are up to see www.vegansociety.com. A really helpful section on their website is ‘Vegan Baking Tips’ where you will find tips on ‘Eggless Baking’, ‘Non-Dairy Baking’ and ‘Gotcha’s’ which has wonderful tips about different products and where animal derivatives might be lurking… This is also extremely helpful to anyone new to a dairy free or egg free diet, not to mention to anyone considering the Vegan lifestyle…
A list of all the places taking part around the world:
- Argentina: Buenos Aires
- Australia:West End, Brisbane, Queensland; Melbourne, Victoria; Nimbin/Northern Rivers, New South Wales; Sydney, New South Wales
- Austria: Vienna
- Brazil: Maringá, Paraná
- Canada: Calgary, Alberta; Edmonton, Alberta; Okotoks, Alberta; New Westminster, British Columbia (x2); Salt Spring Island, British Columbia; Vancouver, British Columbia (x2); Victoria, British Columbia; Winnipeg, Manitoba; Hamilton, Ontario; London, Ontario; Toronto, Ontario (x2); Montreal, Quebec
- England: Bridport, West Dorset; Bristol (x2); Chester; Colchester, Essex; Looe, Cornwall; Oxford; Leeds; Ramsgate, Kent
- Ireland: Dublin; Maynooth, Kildare
- Italy: Rome
- Norway: Stavanger
- South Africa: Johannesburg
- South Korea: Seoul
- Taiwan: Pingtung, Taipei
- Uganda: Kampala
- USA: Anchorage, Alaska; Peoria, Arizona; Claremont, California, Colton Inland Empire, California; Emeryville, California; Los Angeles, California (x2); Modesto, California; Oakland, California; Sacramento, California, San Diego, California (x2); San Francisco, California; San Jose, California; San Rafael, California; Santa Cruz, California; Santa Monica, California; Ventura, California; Boulder, Colorado; Denver, Colorado (x2); Idaho Springs, Colorado; Palmetto, Florida; Tampa, Florida (x3); Atlanta, Georgia; Honolulu, Hawaii (x2); Chicago, Illinois (x3); Hinsdale, Illinois; Palatine, Illinois; Indianapolis, Indiana; Shawnee Mission, Kansas; Wichita, Kansas; Newport, Kentucky; Baltimore, Maryland (x3); Takoma Park, Maryland; Boston, Massachusetts; Cambridge, Massachusetts, Framingham, Massachusetts; Greenfield, Massachusetts; Worchester, Massachusetts; Livonia, Michigan; Minneapolis, Minnesota; Oxford, Mississippi; St. Louis, Missouri; Bozeman, Montana; Missoula, Montana; Omaha, Nebraska; Las Vegas, Nevada (x2); Montclair, New Jersey (x2); Mount Laurel, New Jersey; Brooklyn, New York (x2); Chatham, New York; New York, New York (x4); Rockville Centre, New York; Salisbury, North Carolina; Akron, Ohio; Cincinnati, Ohio; Portland, Oregon; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Providence, Rhode Island (x2); Austin, Texas; Dallas, Texas; El Paso, Texas; Houston, Texas; San Antonio, Texas; Salt Lake City, Utah; Falls Church, Virginia (x2); Virginia Beach, Virginia; Seattle, Washington (x2); Tacoma, Washington; Barboursville, West Virginia; Charleston, West Virginia; Appleton, Wisconsin; Madison, Wisconsin; Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Oshkosh, Milwaukee;
- Online: Chocolate-Covered Katie

Also, worth a look for purely artist design related fun:
A selection of the different posters which have been produced globally to promote the sale and some of the causes which will receive the proceeds… www.veganbakesale.org

Worldwide Vegan Bake Sale – Dublin
Location: Dublin Exchange, Exchange Street Upper, Temple Bar, Dublin 2
Date: Saturday, May 7th 2011
Time: 12:00 – 14:00
Contact: bakesale@vegetarian.ie

Worldwide Vegan Bake Sale – Maynooth
Location: The National University of Ireland, Maynooth, Co. Kildare
Date: Tuesday April 26th 2011
Time: 09:30 – 16:00
Contact: veggiesoc@nuimsu.com

April 18, 2011

Imagine a Shop Where EVERYTHING was Gluten Free – Ecodirect

I know that half the battle of living food allergy free (for me at least) is going into shops where the shelves are stocked with countless beautiful, tasty looking products which are filled with my problem food allergens. This, highlighted with the power of marketing and package design, can make your weekly shopping experience extra hard, as if it wasn’t hard enough to begin with! One defence is to never go shopping when hungry (I tend to save money that way too!). The other would be to shop in a shop where everything that was sold was food allergy friendly. This probably seems like a mere pipe dream for anyone with allergies but I promise you it’s not!

The first and only shop to sell only gluten free products is a reality: Ecodirect is a Dublin based walk-in & online shop which serves all of Ireland. It’s a brilliant idea and if you happen to be gluten free then lucky you (bet you don’t hear that very often) because Ecodirect will have most if not all of what you are looking for from beer to breads and treats to tonics. They pride themselves on their wide range of gluten free and wheat free breads with brands such as:

- Bezgluten
- Bakery on Main
- Arkat
- Genius
- Lovemore
- Livewell
- Beiker
- Organ
- Dietary Specials
- Gluten Free Foodies
- Whole Earth
- Biona
- La Veneziane

For a next-day delivery of fresh bread call 01 620 5053.

One of the things that I really appreciate about Ecodirect is that they ‘do not stock products containing Spelt, Kamut, etc.’ because if you need to follow a strict gluten free diet then you are probably familiar with the disheartening feeling of seemingly ‘gluten free’ products which contain these ancient forms of wheat. That is not to demerit these grains in any way of course, but it should be recognized that not all gluten free and wheat free diets can tolerate even these ancient forms.
Note for multiple allergy sufferers: The other hugely brilliant thing about Ecodirect is that most of their products list all of the ingredients online – nirvana indeed! So it is very possible to browse the virtual shelves at home and only buy what you can actually eat!

With all good of course comes some bad and the damage is that delivery from this Gluten Free Paradise to your doorstep requires a minimum order of €30 with an additional delivery charge of €5.99 – c’est la vie, as they say… but really it’s not so bad when you think of all the gluten free and wheat free products there are to choose from with categories of:

- Beer, Ale, Pilsner, Cider, Larger (2 options)
- Biscuits & Cookies (13 options)
- Breads (19 options!)
- Cakes & Buns (10 options)
- Cereals, etc (34 options!)
- Confectionary (7 options)
- Crackers (10 options)
- Delicatessen
- Dessert (9 options)
- Drinks (4 options)
- Flour & Mixes (16 options)
- Ingredients (24 options)
- Pasta & Noodles (26 options!)
- Pastry (1 option)
- Pizza (4 options)
- Ready Meals (13 options)
- Sauces & Dips (17 options)
- Snacks & Crisps (20 options)
- Soups (13 options)
- Spreads (2 options)
- Supplements & Tonics (4 options)

Ecodirect Ltd
56 Park West Enterprise Centre
Lavery Avenue
Dublin 12
Tel: 01 620 5053
Web: www.ecodirect.ie
Online shop: www.ecodirect.ie/catalog
Opening Times of Walk-in Shop: mon – fri 09:00-14:30; Note: closed sun, sat & public holidays

April 14, 2011

A Few Dairy Free, Gluten Free, Food Allergy-Friendly Chocolate Bars

I don't know if it's because Easter is so near or becasue I am just back from holidays but I'm thinking about chocolate much more than usual... Especially considering that I'm not even a massive chocolate addict. Either way there seems to be a lot of food allergy friendly chocolate bars appearing in Dublin these days. I could prbably go on for ages about the different brands that I'm seeing but for now I will limit myself to just a few of my most recent indulgences...

Aine Handmade Chocolates: Seville Orange
70% dark chocolate with orange flavour. The orange flavour is full but not too full and the chocolate is rich. Aine also make sugar free gluten free chocolates which are suitable for diabetics (malitol is the sweetener used). The great thing is that Aine Chocolates are Irish and I was surprised to find them to have been in business since 2001! Where have they been? Not on my radar anyway… But with 25 ‘Great Taste’ awards under their belts and endorsements from Rick Stein & the Bridgestone Guide it’s clear that they have indeed been around! Available in Superquinn, Fallon & Byrne (on Exchequer St, Dublin 2) and online www.chocolates.ie
- Dairy free (no warning present but I assume that it is made in a factory which uses milk)
- Gluten free
- Corn free
- Non GMO
- Egg free
- Vegan
- Vegetarian
Ingredients: cocoa mass, sugar, fat reduced cocoa powder, glucose, natural flavour, soya lecithin
Nutritional Information: unavailable

Aine Handmade Chocolates: Zesty Lime
70% dark chocolate with flakes of zesty lime flavour. This is a strange chocolate flavour to come by but it really is quite lovely and seems to be gaining in popularity with chocolatiers. The lime flavour reminds me of a favoured lime filled hard chocolate coated sweet we used to get in Canada years ago which also happened to be dairy free so top marks from me on taste and nostalgia! Another quality about this bar that I really enjoy is how the bar chips away in layers... again, this may sound strange but I have always loved eating food which has little oddities like this… As the ‘flavour and filling hog’ that I am I would love if there were more flakes of ‘zesty lime’ but even with the present amount it is still some pretty good stuff so tuck in all you dark chocolate fans. Available in Superquinn, Fallon & Byrne (on Exchequer St, Dublin 2) and online www. chocolates.ie. Other Dairy free & gluten free flavours available from Aine Chocolates are Mint Crisp and Roasted Hazelnut (all the dark chocolate flavours except the Wild Raspberry are dairy free).
- Dairy free (no warning present but I assume that it is made in a factory which uses milk)
- Gluten free
- Corn free
- Non GMO
- Egg free
- vegan
- vegetarian
Ingredients: cocoa mass, sugar, fat reduced cocoa powder, glucose, natural flavour, soya lecithin
Nutritional Information: unavailable

Moo Free: Scrummy Organic Dairy Free Chocolate
Moo Free is popping up everywhere lately and it’s a good thing because they are some of the few ‘faux milk’ chocolates on the market which are also soya free! I wrote about their Easter eggs on The Easter Bunny Can Lay Dairy Free, Soya Free & Gluten Free Eggs!. The chocolate bars are generally the same idea. Affordable at under €2 (although I’ve noticed some severe price differences between stockists) and as good as any of the popular milk chocolates. Moo Free is quite sweet if you’re not used to mainstream sugar levels but it’s a good substitute…so good in fact that you might forget that it’s a substitute! Moo Free were even shortlisted for 3 Free From awards this year! A couple places you can pick one up is in Rathmines’ The Hopsack and Terenure’s Nolan’s FoodFare.
- Dairy free
- Soya free (note: potential cross-contamination issues - may contain traces)
- Egg free
- Vegan
- Vegetarian
- Gluten free(note: potential cross-contamination issues - may contain traces)
- Wheat free(note: potential cross-contamination issues - may contain traces)
- Corn free
- Organic
- Fair trade sugar & cocoa
Ingredients: organic sugar, organic cocoa butter, organic rice powder, organic cocoa mass, emulsifier: sunflower lecithin, natural flavouring. Contains cocoa solids 42% min.
Nutritional Information: unavailable

Plamil: Organic Dairy Free alternative to Milk Chocolate
A guaranteed Nut free chocolate (which can be hard to find!). Similar to Moo Free chocolate in that it is also one of the few dairy free ‘milk’ chocolate bars which is also soya free. Plamil have a large range of chocolates www.plamilfoods.co.uk among which you will find dairy free dark chocolate and even dairy free & sugar free dark chocolate in one. They were also crowned ‘Top Ethical Brand’ in 2009. You can find Plamil products in most healthfood stores and a full range of the chocolates can be found in The Sweet Life in Georges Arcade.

- Dairy free
- Nut free
- Egg free
- Wheat free
- Gluten free
- Soya free
- Corn free
- Vegan
- Vegetarian
- Organic
- Fairtrade
- GMO free
Ingredients: Fairtrade Raw cane sugar (35%), Fairtrade Cocoa Butter, Rice Powder (rice syrup powder, rice starch, rice flour), Fairtrade Cocoa mass, Emulsifier: Sunflower Lecithin
Nutritional Information per 100g:
Energy 240kJ/577kcal
Protein 2.7g
Carbohydrate 54.6g
Fat 39.2g

Ó Conaill Chocolatiers: Finest Handmade Irish Dark Chocolate Bar 70%
Another Irish brand coming from Carrigaline, Co. Cork. I came across Ó Conaill the other day in Fallon and Byrne and was delighted to see their Irish nationality and gluten free and dairy free claims! The dark 70% bar is some pretty heavy duty stuff so definitely one for Dark chocolate lovers. Even I can’t eat it all in one sitting which is rare…. but I’m working on it! Ó Conaill chocolate is all handmade and uses traditional methods and I must admit that with the brown paper and gold foil wrapping I feel like a Victorian child with my first chocolate bar which is great fun! There are two sizes of the 70% bar of large and extra large coming in at about €2.75 and €5.75 respectively. Available in Fallon & Byrne (Exchequer St, Dublin 2).
- Dairy free
- Gluten free
- Wheat free
- Egg free
- Vegan
- Vegetarian
Ingredients: Cocoa butter, cocoa mass, sugar, soya lecithin, cocoa solids 70% min.
Nutritional Information: unavailable

April 11, 2011

A Dairy Free & Egg Free City-Break to The Sound of Salzburg, Austria

After weeks of trying to guess the location of F’s surprise mystery city-break I was amazed that his last ridiculously easy hint of ‘the city is literally filled with the sound of music’ was not actually a trick hint and that the location was in fact the infamous and entirely beautiful Austrian city of Salzburg! (On the off chance that you're interested or would like to tempt your travel bugs I’ve posted a couple of my tourist shots at the end of this log).
I was somewhat nervous about my food allergies and how I was going to manage the weekend maintaining at least a dairy free and egg free existence without any pre-planning but it all turned out easier than anticipated. It even started off with a few interesting finds like Lufthansa airport offering complementary Rooibos tea, herbal teas, green tea and lemon juice sachets with hot water in Frankfurt airport and the Austrian airlines having ‘Soletti Happy Mix’ crackers as their in flight snack which were naturally dairy free and egg free...

The best find in Salzburg was The Heart of Joy Café. As much as I genuinely enjoy trying out all of the new and exciting local foods and wading my way through foreign language menus while trying to avoid my food allergy enemies sometimes towards the end of a holiday it’s just really nice to have a laid back sunny meal in a healthy café where you’re not weighed down with meats and grease and indigestion. It’s especially magnificent when you can do all of this with the added pleasure of not having to guess about the menu! ...and that is exactly what The Heart of Joy offers:

- Dairy free
- Egg free
- Gluten free (minimal)
- Sugar free
- Vegetarian
- Vegan

F and I shared a beautiful hearty lentil ‘soup’ (Indische Bio-Linsen mit Bio-Reis und Salat) which was more of a main course and I had a delicious vegan Wurst bagel (Wurst [vegan] Seitan, Tomate, Salat, Senf) with a desert of apple cake made with ‘Dinkel’ which I believe to be either Spelt or similar to Spelt (Dinkel – Apfelkuchen vegan und zuckerfrei) which all tasted so wonderfully healthy and fresh.
The waiter, who was extremely lovely, also told me that despite his not being a huge fan of vegan food that the vegan chocolate cake was his favourite of all but that it was sadly sold out for the day – sigh. The best bit was that the whole thing (1xsoup & salad, 2x bagel sandwiches, 1xcake and 1x mango lassi drink) all came to just about €20.

Elsewhere in Salzburg:
Reformhaus Martin was a great little health food shop that we fell upon. Located in the new city (North of the river) on the lower part of Linzer Gasse which is, in essence, the ‘Henry Street’ of Salzburg (for all you Dublin residents). This large health food shop is part of a 20 strong Austrian chain and has all of the food allergy friendly products that you are likely to need during your stay in Salzburg. Among other things I was delighted to see a good selection of dairy free milks, and an entire Gluten free section (gluten frei) which even had Gluten free beer so you don’t have to feel left out … I tried out some really nice Provamel soya yoghurt ‘Lime with Lemon balm’ which I had never seen before and F uncovered some gummy bears made with honey which were a slow burner but heartily enjoyed by the end of the package! There was also a small salad/juice bar in the shop but I didn’t get the opportunity to try it out.
We also came across another centrally located health food store in the old city (south of the river), Mayreder’s Reformhaus - Verwaltung which looked quite large and beautifully
decorated inside (as was everything) with garlands. I didn’t get a chance to browse around inside though because it was surprisingly closed before 4:30 on Saturday! ... Which was the same for one of the few Spar market ‘convenience’ stores which we found – oh the joys of travelling ;) but there was an advertisement for diabetic foods. Also, please note that I’m not 100% sure about the name of this shop. From what I could figure out it seemed to be independent but there was a logo which matched Reformhaus Martin – possibly a health food group association? or potentially recently bought out?? Sorry to not know more...

Other little gastronomic things that crossed my path in Salzburg:
- Almost all of the fresh breads seemed to be egg and dairy free (note: not the case with the sweet breads sadly but as expected).
- Becel Margarine (available in the Spar market convenience shop in the old town) which was a vegetarian, dairy free spread (frei von milchbestandteilen: Free from dairy ingredients) that was also preservative free and hardened-fat free
- In the restaurant on the hill attached to the Mdm (Modern Museum of Art) you can enjoy a coffee etc. with soya (soja) milk if you like while taking in the glorious view!
- The ever popular Ritter Sport Marzipan chocolate square bars which are naturally dairy free, egg free and gluten & wheat free (note: may contain traces of peanuts, walnuts, wheat and dairy products as Ritter Sport uses all these ingredients to make their other delicious flavours).
- And last but certainly not least was the infamous original Austrian Neapolitaner wafer chocolates. I LOVE Manner which I believe F discovered to a shocking degree! Manner Original hazelnut neapolitaner, like Ritter Sport is naturally dairy free, egg free and vegetarian but also contains the warning: ‘may contain traces of other nuts and milk solids’. The best value Manner came from the dedicated shop/café on the Residenzplatz where you could get a pack of four for less than €3. And there you could also get the apricot, vanilla and lemon Manner varieties which are all also naturally dairy free, egg free and vegetarian. The Lemon ones taste like Jacob’s Lemon Cream Puffs only with more filling!

In general people seemed pretty understanding. We even did an out-of-character and ridiculously touristy Mozart dinner concert in the oldest restaurant in Europe, St. Peter’s (serving since 803 AD!) with a set menu and the staff had no problems is altering the menu with a few hours notice to meet my dairy free and egg free needs and F got a brilliant Vegetarian risotto and salad. And up on the northern part of the city we went to a small Italian/Pakistani restaurant (strange mix of cuisine, I know) which happily worked around my needs with no advance notice at all... But then again I suppose that Salzburg is used to every sort of person coming their way with 8 million tourists a year!

For non-food related interests, I've posted a couple of my tourist images below – I hope you enjoy...

Heart of Joy Vegetarian Café
Location: Franz-Josef Strasse 3, 5020 – Salzburg, Austria (located on the Northern side of Franz-Josef Strasse on the Mirabellgarten/Western end of the street)
Web: www.heartofjoy.at
Tel: +43-662-890-773
Opening Times: Mon-Sun 08:00-18:00

Health Food Shops
Reformhaus Martin
Linzer Gasse 4
5020 Salzburg
Tel. +43 (0)662/87 07 29
web: www.reformhaus-martin.at
Opening Times: Mon-Fri 08.30-18.30; Sat 09.00-18.00

Mayreder’s Reformhaus – Verwaltung
Universitatsplatz 13,
5020 Salzburg
Tel: +43 662 843 1290
Opening Times: not completely sure but definitely closing at 4:30 on Saturdays)

April 7, 2011

Let The GF, WF, DF & V’s Eat Cake! –Hale & Hearty (A Personal Flop but I Have Hope)

I have been drooling over the Hale & Hearty home-bake mixes lately. I was impressed with their pastas and am quite attracted to all of the packaging (the pictures on the boxes look yum!). The only problem is that we were never a family that bought cake mixes and somehow I have a preconceived notion that any cake that comes premixed in a box is ‘bad’ for you… If we are completely honest here I think that the truth is that cake in general is a bit of a sugar-fest luxury and when you’re talking about a Hale & Hearty food allergy-friendly ‘free from’ cake mix then the balance is a little more favourable!

Our Hale & Hearty cake mix of choice was the Classic Vanilla Sponge Mix.My Mom and I were trying to make a food allergy friendly birthday cake for my sister and this mix is:

- Gluten free
- Wheat free
- Soya free
- GMO free
- Potato free
- Dairy free adaptable
- Egg free adaptable
- Vegan adaptable
- Organic

I was delighted with how many ‘free from’ dietary requirements that the mix met and adapting the cake into Dairy free would be no problem at all in my opinion (just substitute dairy free margarine for the butter which usually works a treat) but I must admit that the Vegan recipe seemed to be a little bit of a stretch and unfortunately that was the one we had to use due to my current egg free existence.

The regular recipe asked for four eggs and 175g butter whereas the vegan recipe only needed 150g margarine and instead of eggs asked for 150ml water, soya milk or rice milk. We opted for our usual rice milk.
Although the cake tasted good it was quite dense. The dairy free ‘butter icing’ & jam filling I made just squished right out when we tried to cut it and the top layer kept sliding around on top!
All of this of course was not helped by the fact that I attempted to make a somewhat runny royal icing with the view to pouring it over top and letting it aesthetically dribble down the edges but, despite my Mother telling me over and over again, I still managed to make the icing far too runny so it actually poured right off of the cake and onto the plate. In a desperate act of covering up my head-strong mistake I keep spooning up the fallen icing and putting it back on top so the outcome was a saturated top layer which was far sweeter than intended (note: the cake was already dense before the icing soaked in but you can imagine the outcome!).
Obviously I haven’t tried the regular recipe but I do have high hopes for it. I believe that the addition of the eggs would really help the density of the cake and make it close to what was ‘intended’. The flavour is quite nice even without the eggs and the mess of icing and despite the shocking appearance of our cake we were still quite happy to gobble it up.

The cake mix is about €3.50 and the full ingredients are: wholemeal rice flour, corn flour, raw cane sugar, baking powder (raising agent: sodium bicarbonate, cream of tartar, cornflour), carob bean gum, pure bourbon vanilla, sea salt.

Nutritional Information per 100g:
Energy 1562kJ/368kcal
Protein 2.7g
Carbohydrate 87.1g
of which sugars 31.6g
Fat 1.0g
of which saturates 0.2g
monosaturates 0.2g
polysaturates 0.3g
Fibre 1.2g
Sodium 0.4g

Other Hale & Hearty Mixes:
- 4 Grain Pancake Mix
- Whoelgrain Crumble Mix
- Quick & Easy Falafel Mix
- Multi-Seed Bread Mix
- Classic Chocolate Cake Mix
- Rich Chocolate Brownie Mix
- Savoury Veggie Fritter Mix

Web: www.halenhearty.co.uk

April 1, 2011

The Sweet Life – Sugar Free, Dairy Free, Gluten Free & Retro Sweets!

La dolce vita indeed. Whether you are visiting Dublin and have food allergies or not you should try to find your way to George’s Street Arcade which is located between South Great Georges Street and Drury Street. The Victorian George's Street Arcade is one of the more alternative shopping venues of Dublin with great variety and atmosphere. It has been operating solidly since 1894 and has about 50 units supplying everything from retro clothing, music and antique books to cafes, hairdressers and tarot readings - check out their website for some interesting history, location and shop listings.
On a more food allergy friendly note let’s talk about ‘The Sweet Life’ which is located inside the arcade on one of the middle stalls. Any passer-by might get drawn in by the lure of brightly coloured sweets which brings on a nostalgia of youth with all the ‘old’ candies and sweets available like Wham Bars, Sherbert Fountain and Mint Crisp but we dietary restricted folk will be drawn in by all the food allergy friendly sweets inside!
- Dairy free
- Gluten free
- No added sugar
- Sugar free

Like Restore Health Food Store, which I wrote about last week, The Sweet Life stock the Dairy free Caramel Choices and the 'Choc n’ Orange', 'Chocolate' and 'Choc n’ Crispie' bars from the same brand which are Gluten free as well. Also in the Dairy free category are
- Celtic Dark chocolate
- Celtic mint crisp dark chocolate
- Plamil dairy free chocolate bars (orange, milk, mint and sugar free)as well as the chocolate drops which are great for food allergy friendly baking because they are free from dairy, eggs, gluten and soya to name but a few.

In addition to all of the ‘listed’ Dairy free items it is also good to note that many of the retro sweets are naturally Dairy free as well such as the
- Refresher bars
- Stingers
- Double Dip
- Nougat

The Sweet Life also has Stockley’s ‘Cinder Toffee’ which looks like the delicious honeycomb inside of Cadbury's 'Crunchy' chocolate bars. I was quickly glancing at the ingredients and I do believe that they are Dairy free but some things sound too good to be true so you should probably double check before indulging - but I’d almost put money on it! I was also told that The Sweet Life is expecting their ‘Choices’ Dairy free and Gluten free Easter eggs to be arriving any day now so I will be interested to see what they look like too!

On the Gluten Free side of things many of the chocolates listed above are GF as well but the most interesting thing to note is that many of the retro sweets are Gluten free like the
- Pips
- Pineapple chunks
- Pear drops
- Tutti Frutti

But if you get dazzled by all of the brightly coloured produce just ask for advice because the ‘sweet keeper’ is very helpful and will guide you through what you can and can’t have. An oddity to note is that the Bon Bons are only sometimes Gluten free. It seems that the supplier is in the process of changing over to Gluten Free (which is brilliant news) and so it depends on which stock is received… I don’t know about cross-contamination in the factory or in the sweet jars in The Sweet Life but the proprietor seems very aware of the needs so maybe just ask if you are in doubt.

In addition to the above there is also a Diabetic section which carries a range of Cavalier chocolate bars as well as a whole slew of Sugar free de Bron sweets such as
- Cherry gums
- Wine gums
- Fruit & Juice Toffees
- Sweet Licorice
- Jelly Bears
- Strawberry Cream
- Fruit Gums
- Peppermint

but don’t forget to Brush your teeth!

The Sweet Life
Stall 9, George’s Street Arcade
South Great George’s Street
Dublin 2
Web: www.myspace.com/thesweetlifedublin
Opening Times: mon-sat 10:00-18:00