July 29, 2011

What I'm Reading: Going Sugar Free; Bloating & FODMAPS; Kitchen Ideas & Some Photographic Eye Candy!

A few links to some of the interesting and occasionally fun things that I have been reading lately on the web. Everything from hidden side-effects and reasons to go Sugar Free; good substitutes for Sugar Free diets; ways of beating bloating and indigestion; possible foods that you might be allergic if you aren't feeling better yet with a crazy but interesting article on cross-reactive foods. Also there are some kitchen tips for using Cilantro (fresh Coriander) and how easy it is to make Raw Nut Butter at home! ... and of course a little bit of eye candy because who doesn't get inspired by beautiful pictures of delicious allergy friendly food!

Sugar & Sweeteners:
A spotlight and reminder of some possible side-effects of sugar. The comments are particularly interesting if you want more than one encounter

A great guest post on the use of sugars and sweeteners (natural and artificial) with info on substitutions helping anyone thinking of, or already trying to live sugar free:

Allergic Reactions, Digestion & Potential Problem Foods:
A helpful encounter with Bloating & FODMAPS:

A bit mad, but interesting and potentially an answer for anyone who is allergic to Gluten and has gone Gluten Free but is not reaping all of the benefits yet:

In the Kitchen:
Making your herby pennies stretch with some simple but helpful tips on using and storing Fresh Cilantro (and now I really want some Twixit Clips but 27 in once bunch seems a bit excessive. Guess I could spread the love with some frugal friends...)

Homemade Nut Butters - trés economical, especially if you buy your nuts in the Asia Market on Drury Street (Dublin 2) - I had read in a book somewhere sometime that you can just keep grinding the nuts in a processor and it will become butter sooner or later but somehow I was doubtful so I was ever so pleased to come across this recipe for homemade RAW nut butter. Moistening is suggested but instead of honey I think maybe flax oil or the likes??

A Little Bit of Eyecandy:
Toungeticklers' pictures are sooo lovely. The recipe is also quite tempting and Dairy Free and Vegan which is a bit of extra allergy fun when we’re talking buttermilk!:

July 27, 2011

A Spoonful of Sugar: Dietary Safety in the Hospital

This past week has been a bit of an unexpected emergency. My Grandmother had been home from the hospital for only 2 or 3 hours (after monitoring some worrisome shortness of breath) when she had a small stroke right in front of us. Even though you know what’s happening it’s hard to not panic, at least a little. She’s a big age and surprisingly strong for her age but strokes are strokes. She really really didn’t want to go back to the hospital but after an hour or so of the ambulance men and my family trying to convince her of the necessity she finally agreed.

The reason I am telling you this is because my grandmother is Diabetic which means that she has to take insulin tablets everyday and follow a Sugar Free diet. Diabetes is a growing concern in the western world as sugar and fat continue to creep into all of our food, unnecessarily, filling every bite. It is also a common disease among the elderly. So one would think that hospitals, of all places, would be completely up-to-scratch when it comes to dietary needs ... Not so, it would seem.

I saw recently that some hospitals have helpful little cards hung over patients to notify the staff of dietary needs such as ‘fasting’ etc. But in the large hospital where my Grandmother was staying there was nothing of this sort. Almost every single meal she was brought had at least one item which was non-diabetic, unsuitable, sugary food. Sometimes it was sugar filled jelly, custard or even ice cream(!) for deserts. White bread with her breakfast. Jams with her tea and even cookies! The one that topped it all off for me was when they would repeatedly bring her her medication and grind up the tablets into non-diabetic yoghurt (aka sugar filled yoghurt).

I think that you would have to search hard to find a clearer example of disorganization. Luckily between my Mom and aunts there was always somebody sitting with her to remind the staff that she is diabetic and likewise they had to take back her meals and replace them almost every single time. It’s fine and was fine because her family were there to protect her and remind the staff but what about all the people who are on their own? Or all the people who are unaware, and fully trusting of the system? And what about all the patients who possibly have food allergies with severe reactions? What procedures are in place? I hate to think about it.

The nurses and hospital staff were very nice to my Grandmother and they were always apologetic and quick to replace the food but I write this today to remind everybody yet again, that you must always be on top of your game. Even when you’re sick in the hospital, no matter what your age. Even when you’re dietary needs, food allergies and/or food restrictions are completely understood ... Even when you remind people daily ... If you are not preparing it yourself you HAVE to be extremely careful and unfortunately, distrusting of all the food you are given.

It is your health, and believe me, nowhere is completely safe.

July 25, 2011

When the Sweet Tooth Calls - A Few Easily Found Allergy-Friendly Options

Sometimes everything can seem so hard if you have food allergies. It can feel like everything has to be bought specially in dedicated shops from dedicated brands at dedicated prices! It can even seem like just running down to the corner shop to pick up something sweet is nothing but a distant memory of another lifetime. But there are things to be found if you keep your eyes peeled and those labels read. You have to learn which shop carries which common place brands and which common place brands are naturally Allergy Friendly.

There are of course, always risks when you are purchasing non-‘dedicated’ allergy friendly items but with a bit of reading between the lines when it comes to deciphering Food Allergy Labels (see Whats in Your Food: Reading & Deciphering Food Labels, Ingredients & Allergens) and some time dedicated to browsing you can usually find something in almost any shop without having to satisfy your nibbles with a not-so-satisfactory apple.

Tesco brand and Tesco Valu brand are great for giving clear cut allergy advice and leaving out the milk, nuts and eggs on many products naturally. But when you need to find something in your local Londis or Centra stores there is still hope on the seemingly grey horizon! Just remember to thoroughly read the ingredient labels (a few times before purchasing) and gauge your allergic reactions accordingly in relation to the warnings.

Below are some regularly available Cookies, Crackers and Granola Bars that may suit your allergen sensitive nibble needs

Important to note: Even if you find a product that is seemingly allergen free remember to regularly read the label because ingredient lists and manufacturing practices are prone to change without notification.

Tesco Jaffa Cakes
- Dairy free (note may contain warning on chocolate portion)
- Vegetarian
- Nut Free Procedures but not guaranteed
Allergy Advice: Contains Wheat, Gluten, Egg, Soya
The plain chocolate in this product may contain milk.
Recipe: No Nuts
Ingredients: Cannot guarantee no nuts
Factory: No Nuts
Ingredients: Glucose-Fructose Syrup, Plain Chocolate (22%), Wheat Flour, Sugar, Egg, Sucrose Syrup, Dextrose, Concentrated Orange Juice (1%), Citric Acid, Humectant (Glycerol), Gelling Agent (Pectin), Raising Agents (Disodium Diphosphate, Sodium Bicarbonate), Acidity Regulator (Trisodium Citrate), Colour (Curcumin). Plain Chocolate Contains: Sugar, Cocoa Mass, Cocoa Butter, Vegetable Fat, Emulsifier (Soya Lecithin)

Jacob’s Jaffa Cake
Not as suitable for dairy free diets as the cakes are made ‘On A Line’ handling many common food allergens.
Allergy Advice: Contains Soya, Gluten, Egg
Produced on a Line Handling Peanut, Milk and in factory handling Tree Nuts but on a different line.
Ingredients: Glucose-Fructose Syrup, Sugar, Plain Chocolate (15%) [Sugar, Cocoa Mass, Cocoa Butter, Emulsifiers (Soya Lecithin, E476), Flavouring], Wheat Flour, Liquid Whole Egg, Potato Starch, Concentrated Orange Juice (8% Orange Juice Equivalent), Humectant, Glycerol, Vegetable Oil, Gelling Agent (Pectin), Acidity Regulators (Citric Acid, Malic Acid, Sodium Citrate), Flavouring, Salt, Raising Agent (Ammonium Bicarbonate), Emulsifier (Mono- and Di-Glycerides of Fatty Acids), Colour (Beta-Carotene).

Tesco Rich Tea Biscuits
- Dairy Free
- Egg Free
- Soya Free
- Vegetarian
- Vegan
- Nut Free Procedures but not guaranteed
Allergy Advice: Contains Wheat, Gluten, Sulphites
Recipe: No Nuts
Ingredients: Cannot guarantee Nut Free
Factory: Product made in a Nut Free area, but Nuts used elsewhere
Ingredients: Wheat Flour, Sugar, Vegetable Oil, Barley Malt Extract, Raising Agents (Ammonium Bicarbonate, Sodium Bicarbonate, Disodium Bicarbonate), Glucose Syrup, Salt, Preservative (Sodium Metabisulphite)

Boland’s Rich Tea
- Dairy Free
- Egg Free
- Soya Free
- Vegetarian
- Vegan
- Nut Free Procedures but not guaranteed
Allergy Advice: Contains Wheat, Gluten
Recipe: No Nuts
Ingredients: Cannot guarantee Nut Free
Factory: No Nuts
Ingredients: Wheat Flour, Vegetable Oil, Sugar, Wholemeal Wheat Flour, Raising Agents (Sodium Bicarbonate, Ammonium Bicarbonate), Invert Sugar Syrup, Glucose Syrup, Salt.

Tesco Nice Biscuits
- Dairy Free
- Egg Free
- Vegetarian
- Vegan
Allergy Advice: Contains Wheat, Gluten
Recipe: No Nuts
Ingredients: Cannot guarantee Nut Free
Factory: Product made in a Nut Free area, but Nuts used elsewhere
Ingredients: Wheat Flour, Vegetable Oil, Desiccated Coconut, Partially Inverted Sugar Syrup, Raising Agents (Ammonium Bicarbonate, Sodium Bicarbonate), Salt

Tesco Value Bourbon Creams
- Dairy Free
- Egg Free
- Vegan
- Vegetarian
- Soya Free
Allergy Advice: Contains Wheat, Gluten
Recipe: No Nuts
Ingredients: Cannot guarantee Nut Free
Factory: Product made in a Nut Free area, but Nuts used elsewhere
Ingredients: Wheat Flour, Sugar, Vegetable Oil, Fat Reduced Cocoa Powder, Glucose Syrup, Dextrose, Wheat Starch, Raising Agents (Ammonium Bicarbonate, Sodium Bicarbonate), Salt, Flavouring

Jacob’s Bourbon Creams
Not as suitable for dairy free diets as produced on a line handing milk.
Allergy Advice: Contains Wheat, Produced on a line handling Milk, Sesame and in a factory handling Egg, Soya, Hazelnut but on a different line.
Ingredients: Wheat Flour, Sugar, Partially Hydrogenated Vegetable Oil, Fat Reduced Cocoa Powder, Glucose Syrup, Dextrose, Wheat Starch, Raising Agents (Ammonium Bicarbonate, Sodium Bicarbonate), Salt, Flavouring

Nature Valley Crunchy & More Oats & Berries
- Dairy Free
- Egg Free
- Soya Free (note: may contain warning)
- Gliadin Free (note: oat gluten present & cross-contamination may be an issue)
- Wheat Free (note: oat gluten present & cross-contamination may be an issue)
- Apple Free
- Grape Free
- Vegetarian
Allergy Advice: Contains Oat Gluten. May contain Almond, Hazelnut and Soy Ingredients
Ingredients: Whole Grain Rolled Oats (55%), Sugar, Sunflower Oil, Cranberry Pieces (6%) (Cranberies [51%], Sugar, Sunflower Oil), Honey, Fruit Puree (0.7%) [Strawberry, Blueberry, Blackberry, Raspberry, Sugar], Salt, Molasses, Natural Flavouring, Emulsifier (Sunflower Lecithin), Raising Agent (Sodium Bicarbonate)

Nature Valley Crunchy Ginger Nut Crunch
- Dairy Free
- Egg Free
- Soya Free (note: may contain warning)
- Gliadin Free (note: oat gluten present & cross-contamination may be an issue)
- Wheat Free (note: oat gluten present & cross-contamination may be an issue)
- Apple Free
- Grape Free
- Vegetarian
Allergy Advice: Contains Oat Gluten, May Contain Almond, Hazelnut and Soy Ingredients
Ingredients: Whole Grain Rolled Oats (54%), Sugar, Sunflower Oil, Ginger (3%), Honey, Salt, Molasses, Natural Ginger Flavouring with Other Natural Flavourings, Emulsifier: Sunflower Lecithin, Raising Agent: Sodium Bicarbonate

Nature Valley Crunchy Oats & Chocolate
- Dairy Free
- Egg Free
- Gliadin Free (note: oat gluten present & cross-contamination may be an issue)
- Wheat Free (note: oat gluten present & cross-contamination may be an issue)
- Apple Free
- Grape Free
- Vegetarian
Allergy Advice: Contains Oat Gluten, Soy Ingredients and Traces of Almond, Hazelnut, Peanut and Pecan.
Ingredients: Whole Grain Rolled Oats (51%), Sugar, Sunflower Oil, Chocolate Pieces [Cocoa Mass, Sugar, Emulsifier: Soya Lecithin, Vanilla] (7%), Honey, Salt Molasses, Emulsifier: Soy Lecithin, Vanillin), Natural Flavouring.

Nature Valley Crunchy Canadian Maple Syrup
- Dairy Free
- Egg Free
- Gliadin Free (note: oat gluten present & cross-contamination may be an issue)
- Wheat Free (note: oat gluten present & cross-contamination may be an issue)
- Apple Free
- Grape Free
- Vegetarian
Allergy Advice: Contains Oat Gluten, Soy Ingredients and Traces of Almond, Hazelnut, Peanut and Pecan
Ingredients: Whole Grain Oats (56%), Sugar, Sunflower Oil, Canadian Maple Syrup (2%), Honey, Salt, Natural Flavouring, Emulsifier: Soy Lecithin, Raising Agent: Sodium Bicarbonate, Molasses

Nature Valley Crunchy Oats & Honey
- Dairy Free
- Egg Free
- Gliadin Free (note: oat gluten present & cross-contamination may be an issue)
- Wheat Free (note: oat gluten present & cross-contamination may be an issue)
- Apple Free
- Grape Free
- Vegetarian
Allergy Advice: Contains Oat Gluten, Soy Ingredients & Traces of Almond, Hazelnut, Peanut & Pecan.
Ingredients: Whole Grain Rolled Oats (56%), Sugar, Sunflower Oil, Honey (2%), Salt, Molasses, Emulsifier: Soy Lecithin, Raising Agent: Sodium Bicarbonate

Nature Valley Chewy Mixed Berries
- Dairy Free (note: may contain warning)
- Egg Free
- Soya free (note: may contain warning)
- Apple Free
- Vegetarian
Allergy Advice: Contains Oat & Wheat Gluten, Almond, Sunflower Ingredients and May Contain Barley Gluten, Soy, Milk, Peanut and Tree Nut Ingredients.
Ingredients: Whole Grain Oats (27%), Glucose Syrup, Sugar, Almonds (7.5%), Honey, Wheat Flour, Berry Pieces (4.6%) [Sugar, Cranberries, Blueberry Juice Solids (0.4%), Grape Juice Concentrate, Sunflower Oil], Rice Flour, Fructose, Cranberries (2.3%), Sunflower Kernels, Sunflower Oil, Maltodextrin, Emulsifier: Sunflower Lecithin, Natural Flavourings, Dextrose, Acidity Regulator: Citric Acid, Salt, Elderberry Juice, Antioxidant: Mixed Tocoplserols

Carr’s Water Crackers
- Dairy Free
- Egg Free
- Soya Free
- Corn Free
- Tree Nut Free
- Sugar Free
- Vegetarian
- Vegan
Allergy Advice: Contains Gluten. Produced on a line handling Sesame Seeds
Ingredients: Wheat Flour, Vegetable Oil (Palm), Salt

Jacob’s Cream Crackers
- Dairy Free (note: made is a factory warning)
- Egg Free (note: made is a factory warning)
- Sugar Free
- Vegetarian
- Vegan
Allergy Advice: Contains Wheat (Gluten), Soya. Produced in a factory handling Egg, Milk but on a different line.
Ingredients: Wheat Flour, Vegetable Oil, Emulsifier (Soya Lecithins, Mono- and Di- Glycerides of Fatty Acids), Yeast, Raising Agent (Sodium Bicarbonate).

Cream Crackers 50% Less Fat
- Dairy Free
- Egg Free
- Sugar Free
- Vegetarian
- Vegan
Allergy Advice: Contains Wheat
Ingredients: Wheat Flour, Vegetable Oil, Salt, Raising Agent (Sodium Bicarbonate), Yeast

Jacobs Meditteraneo Crackers (Blue)
- Dairy Free (note: made in a factory warning
- Egg Free (note: made in a factory warning)
- Tree Nut Free
- Vegetarian (note: made is a factory warning)
- Vegan (note: made is a factory warning)
Allergy Advice: Contains Wheat. Produced on a line handling Soya, Sesame and in a factory handling Egg, Milk, Hazelnut but on a different line.
Ingredients: Wheat Flour, Vegetable Oil, Salt, Raising Agent (Sodium Bicarbonate), Malt Flour, Yeast

Jacobs Mediterraneo Italian Crackers: Olive Oil & Oregano (Green)
- Dairy Free
- Egg Free
- Soya Free
- Tree Nut Free
- Vegetarian (note: made is a factory warning)
- Vegan (note: made is a factory warning)
Allergy Advice: Contains Wheat. Produced on a line handling Sesame and in a factory handling Soya, Egg, Fish, Milk, Hazelnut, Celery but on a different line.
Ingredients: Wheat Flour, Olive Oil (6%), Vegetable Oil, Barley, Rye, Oats, Salt, Raising Agent (Sodium Bicarbonate), Oregano, Malt Flour, Yeast, Natural Flavourings

July 21, 2011

The Allergy Interviews - Martina Clarke - Vegan

Martina is a 27 year old based in Dublin. Although she doesn't suffer from any food allergies, she and her husband opted to follow a Vegan lifestyle 3 years ago. Just after finishing her thesis for a MA in Psychotherapy she took some time out to tell Survival Guide about her experiences living as a Vegan.

Why and for how long have you been a Vegan, Vegetarian or Raw Vegan?
Well I was a vegetarian for about 3 or 4 years before I became a vegan. I have been vegan about 3 years now and would never look back. I personally think it is a much healthier way of eating, that’s basically it really. I have flirted with Raw Veganism and Macrobiotic but life is hard enough already.

Do you find it difficult to stick to your diet? And if so, why?
Not really, I mean I never really liked meat to begin with so it was nothing for me to give that up to be honest. Going vegan was harder mostly because you have to read everything and take a lot more care with shopping and eating out. However, in terms of the food I found it remarkably simple to change, I wish other dietary changes were so easy

What is your favourite food?
Depends on my mood, chocolate (vegan chocolate of course) is always a firm favourite. On the slightly healthier side of things I am a fan of broccoli and/or cashews. My husband is always making fun of me for it as I manage to sneak them into most dinners I make.

What do you miss the most?
Honestly the simplicity of not having to think about it all. I mean you can't just go out to dinner without having to consider your options carefully or without making alterations to existing menu items. It can be inconvenient meeting friends for food too...

What do your friends and/or family think of your diet choice and how do they deal with it?
Well my husband is also following a vegan diet, so it's all pretty straightforward there. My family just don't get it at all. The idea of not eating meat or drinking a glass of milk with every meal is a foreign concept to them. For the most part they just accept it though. With friends it can be an inconvenience but most just accept it. I don't force my thoughts on veganism on others but if they are interested I will talk to them about it.

Where is your favourite place to eat?
Hmmm, I like a few places, but I have to say Juice, mostly because it is simple for me to see what I am getting before I order. I can order without making adjustments and the food is pretty good.

Do you or have you ever broken your diet? and if so, why?
Not intentionally, but on occasion from not paying attention or due to poor signage you eat something and you realise it has whey or egg or something in it.

How does it feel?
It depends on how much I have eaten. However, I can almost tell within minutes if I have eaten something with dairy in it, I can feel it in my throat and my stomach is temperamental for a while afterwards. It doesn't come up that often though.

How long does it take to get back on track?
Honestly I don't think about it. I just chalk it up to experience and remind myself to be more careful next time.

Have you learnt anything about yourself since abstaining from your unwanted foods?
It is interesting to notice the impact certain foods had on me. I suffered a lot from sinus related problems most of my life and occasionally still do but since cutting out meat and dairy etc I have noticed a huge change in the number of infections etc. I also feel a lot better, more energetic and less prone to illness in general in stark contrast to my pre vegan/veggie days. Going vegan in particular has really made me notice how much dairy in particular was impacting on my health.

If you could give advice to people practicing or considering a vegan/vegetarian/raw diet what would it be?
• Do a lot of reading around it. It is very easy no matter what diet meat or otherwise to be missing out on vital nutrients. So where possible make sure you are getting what you need.
• Make sure you do it in a way that makes sense to you, some prefer to gently remove out problem foods and add in new foods and others like me like to do it over night.
• Go easy on yourself if you slip up, we all do at some point

What is the best source of information and/or help that you have found?
Well I have lots of books, but mostly the internet. Although some books I love around the area are:

On Nutrition:
Plant Based Nutrition and Health – Stephen Walsh PHD

Cookbooks and General Info Books:
The Kind Diet – Alicia Silverstone
Skinny Bitch – Freedman & Barnouin

Can you share with us one of your worst, best and/or funniest experiences as a vegan/vegetarian/raw vegan?
Honestly the funniest thing in general is how little people know about it. But probably the funniest is the conversation I have with my dad on a regular basis. When making dinner and my dad says “I am making some steak, do you want some?” “No Dad, I don’t eat meat”, “Right, how about some chicken?” “No I don’t eat chicken”, “Would you not at least have some Salmon?”, “No I don’t eat fish either, but thanks dad”.

Would you like to share a quick and easy vegan/vegetarian/raw recipe?!
Well this is my adapted recipe from The Kind Diet
• Short Grain Brown Rice
• Shoyu to taste
• Brown Rice Vinegar taste
• Handful of Cashew Nuts
• Lots of Broccoli
• 1 Carrot
• 1 Red Onion
• 1 Leek
• 2 Cloves of Garlic
• Tablespoon of sesame oil

• First boil the Brown Rice for 40mins or so (ok so maybe not so quick)
• Chop the vegetables
• When done Saute the Garlic and Onions, add the leek
• Add in the rice, add shoyu and vinegar to taste
• Add veg and cashews, add more shoyu and vinegar as necessary
• Serve when heated through

If you would like to take part in The Allergy Interviews (all types of Food Allergies or Specific diets like Vegan, Vegetarian, Raw and/or Macrobiotic welcome) you can contact me by leaving a comment below or by emailing me at: aurea.conroy@gmail.com
I’d love to hear from you either way! And enjoy the rest of your weekend – come on sun!

July 20, 2011

When the Nibbles Gnaw & the Sweet-tooth Aches - 'Against the Grain' Gluten Free, Dairy Free & Egg Free Cookies

When browsing my local gourmet grocers, Nolan's Food Fare, I noticed a new product line that I had not seen before: 'Against The Grain' Wheat, Dairy & Gluten Free cookies. The packaging lured me in instantaneously with its clean but modernly elegant lines and after reading the boxes I was very curious and somewhat excited! The 'cookies' advertise as being:

- dairy free
- wheat free
- gluten free
- egg free
- vegan
- vegetarian
- organic
- free from hydrogenated fat
- free from artificial preservatives
- free from artificial flavours
- free from artificial colours
- free from added salt

I also note that they are naturally
- soya free
- oat free
but cross-contamination might be an issue.

Upon closer inspection I found that Against the Grain not only use and support sustainable palm oil but they are also manufactured on the Isle of Mull in Scotland in Island Bakery Organics. Before this week I had never heard of the Isle of Mull or the Island Bakery Organics but after reading all about them on the Against The Grain website I must say that I am thoroughly impressed. If you want it straight from the horse's mouth:

"Island Bakery Organics operate strict procedures to ensure that ATG biscuits meet our exacting standards of quality and allergen control.
To verify that these procedures are working correctly a regime of product testing is in place.  EVERY BATCH of biscuits is tested  at the bakery to verify it meets our gluten-free standards before they are  allowed to leave the bakery In addition samples are also periodically sent for laboratory analysis to verify their wheat, gluten and dairy-free status."

So... the next time I was longing for something sweet, allergy free but still moderately healthy I went straight Against The Grain's 'sugar free' alternative. The Berry Delicious Cookies are sweetened with apple juice instead of sugar as well as being free from the entire list above.

Upon opening I noted that the 'cookies' were more of a large biscuit in crispiness and texture, perfect for dipping in tea. However, I was not overly impressed with the flavour. Partly due to the berries of choice (cranberries and raspberries) and partly due to the apple juice myself and F both found the cookies a bit too tangy/tart for our taste.

I was a bit surprised as I had read rave reviews and even noted a 2009 Gold Great Taste Award for the Chocolate Chip & Hazelnut variety. I decided to put it down to personal taste and the lack of sugar. So on the next opportunity I purchased some of the sugar filled Ginger Crunches for F and my sister to sample... The verdict: very nice. A slight after-taste from the alternative flours, as usual, more than ideal for dipping, albeit thinner and less uniform than the other cookie flavours and a delayed but strong flavour of true candied ginger which disappointed F (not a ginger lover) and delighted my sister (a true ginger advocate). I must admit that I did take a bite and then spit it out directly just to see for myself without too much sugar ingestion and was left longing for them all evening. I'll try to be less nosy next time and trust my tasters.

I haven't seen Against The Grain in too many stores yet but they are definitely available at Nolan's Food Fare, Terenure and The Organic Supermarket, Blackrock from approx. €3.90 - €4.80 per box.
Against The Grain
web: www.againstthegrainfoods.com
The range of flavours in the Against The Grain range are

Berry Delicious (recommended by Health & Fitness magazine)
Ingredients: Gluten Free flour (contains rice flour, potato starch, buckwheat flour, maize flour), Rice syrup (rice flour, lemon juice), Palm oil, Almonds, Cranberries 7% (apple juice concentrate, sunflower oil), Apple juice Concentrate, Coconut, Raspberries 1.3%, Mixed Spice (contains coriander, nutmeg, ginger, cloves, cinnamon [cassia]), Raising agent (ammonium bicarbonate)
Nutritional Information per 100g:
Energy 2073kJ/495kcal
Protein 5.5g
Carbohydrate 58.9g
of which sugars 14.6g
of which starch 35.8g
Fat 26.5g
of which saturates 10.0g
mono-unsaturated 11.4g
poly-saturated 3.6g
Fibre 5.8g
Sodium less than 0.1g

Chocolate Chip & Hazelnut Cookies (the all round favourite from what I can gather with the Gold Great Taste Award 2009)
Ingredients: Gluten Free flour (rice flour, potato starch, buckwheat flour, maize flour), Rice syrup (rice flour, lemon juice), Hazelnuts 12.1%, Almonds, Palm oil, Sugar, Dark Chocolate 9.9% (sugar, cocoa mass, cocoa butter, sunflower lecithin)
Nutritional Information per 100g:
Energy 2152kJ/514kcal
Protein 7.2g
Carbohydrate 52.5g
of which sugars 28.7g
Fat 31.2g
of which saturates 9.5g
mono-unsaturated 16.4g
poly-unsaturated 4.3g
Fibre 3.2g
Sodium less than 0.1g

Ginger Crunches
Ingredients: Gluten Free flour (rice flour, potato starch, buckwheat flour, maize flour), Palm oil, Rice syrup (rice flour, lemon juice), Sugar, Rice flour, Stem ginger 8.9% (ginger, sugar), Ground ginger 1.2%, molasses, Raising agent (ammonium bicarbonate)
Nutritional Information per 100g:
Energy 1997kJ/474kcal
Protein 2.8g
Carbohydrate 65.6g
of which sugars 29.8g
Fat 23.0g
of which saturates 10.8g
mono-unsaturated 9.0g
poly-unsaturated 3.1g
Fibre 1.2g
Sodium less than 0.1g

Almond Cookies
Ingredients: Gluten Free flour (rice flour, potato starch, buckwheat flour, maize flour), Sugar, Palm oil, Almonds 17.6%, Rice flour, natural Almond flavouring 0.5%
Nutritional Information per 100g:
Energy 2198kJ/523kcal
Protein 6.7g
Carbohydrate 56.4g
of which sugars 23.5g
Fat 30.8g
of which saturates 10.7g
mono-unsaturated 14.3g
poly-unsaturated 5.3g
Fibre 2.9g
Sodium less than 0.1g

Chocolate Orange Cookies (new to the flock)
Ingredients: Gluten Free flour (rice flour, potato starch, buckwheat flour, maize flour), Rice syrup (rice flour, lemon juice), Coconut, Palm oil, Sugar, Dark Chocolate 10% (sugar, cocoa mass, cocoa butter, sunflower lecithin), Cocoa powder, Orange oil 0.2%
Nutritional Information per 100g:
Energy 2127kJ/509kcal
Protein 4.1g
Carbohydrate 56.0g
of which sugars 30.6g
Fat 29.9g
of which saturates 18.4g
mono-unsaturated 8.7g
poly-unsaturated 2.1g
Fibre 6.0g
Sodium less than 0.1g

July 18, 2011

Worth Reading: Good Gut Healing by Kathryn Marsden

If you're prone to a queasy bloated tummy after you eat you should read 'Good Gut Healing'. If you tend towards or suspect bad digestion or poor nutrient absorption or if you're like me and have a growing or seemingly unending list of foods to avoid you should read 'Good Gut Healing'. And likewise, if you suffer from:

- Acid Reflux
- Bloating
- Candida
- Constipation
- Diverticulitis
- Food Allergies
- Gallstones
- Haemorrhoids
- Hiatus Hernia
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome
- Leaky Gut Syndrome
- Ulcers

... you should read 'Good Gut Healing'! I'm not saying that it is a cure all and I am certainly not saying that it will erase your anaphylaxis or even severe food allergies. But it is an extremely interesting, helpful and user friendly read. I have long believed that although anybody can and do have true food allergies to anything (i.e. I believe that my milk allergy is here to stay), that these growing lists of multiple food intolerances and sensitivities are out of control and unnatural. I'm not suggesting that the 30+ foods that my blood test showed as problem foods to be avoided were not actually causing a problem or a reaction. What I am suggesting is that these foods had possibly become a problem for me because something else was amiss, such as my Gut. And that is exactly what led me to Kathryn Marsden. She is the bestselling author of 'The Complete Book of Food Combining' and at least 12 other books dealing with digestion and nutrition.

Good Gut Healing focusses on digestion and how it can be at the root of popular problems such as unexplained weight gain, bloating, IBS and that whole list above. Kathryn Marsden writes in an approachable manner and offers invaluable advice on:

- what not to do
- what to do
- when to do it
- and numerous ways of doing it

Not to mention loads of advice on different brands, quality and storage of foods and supplements as well as accessible 'action plans' for dealing with and healing your specific problem as well as best practice for eliminating foods to test for intolerance.

The most valuable chapters for me are:

Chapter 12 What's Up? Food Allergies (obviously!)
Chapter 21 If You Do Nothing Else... (a pack-it-all in chapter with essential do's and don'ts if you don't have the time or inclination to read the whole book)
Chapter 22. Essential Extras: Fibre Tips (something that everyone should take care with in today's highly refined dietary world)
Chapter 2 The Inside Story (Somewhat enlightening)
Chapter 23 Essential Extras: Food Combining (Especially valuable for bloating, gas and light sensitivities, 'cyclical' allergies and/or intolerances to numerous foods)

It is always good practice to know how your machine works because once you understand it becomes easier to do what is 'right'. F recently got a brand new motorbike. The manual says that it most important to have a full checkup after the first 1000km. Normally I would be less than enthusiastic to follow these directions but as F pointed out: the vehicle is new and previously un-driven. The checkup is therefore essential to ensure that it is running in order and that any loose screws are tightened, etc. Once I understood the reason I professed its urgency and necessity, like a true sheep!

Likewise, I was unaware that saliva is actually pre-digesting your food in your mouth as you chew and that is why seemingly excessive chewing is essential. I had no idea that this saliva digestion is useless for meat and that the only aid you can give it is to break down the chunks with your teeth or that the saliva secretion triggers the rest of your digestive track to get set for a feast. Or even that I should stay at the table for at least 10-15 minutes after eating to allow a peaceful digestion before moving onto the next task. It's a simple thing but once you understand it and the full reasons for it I find myself aware of my poor Speedy Gonzales eating habits and now notice clear and direct links between the way I feel with the way I ate my meal. I've even noticed slight cramping in my stomach if I just read immediately after eating while I'm supposed to be resting! It's crazy but true.

Good Gut Healing: The No-Nonsense Guide to Bowel & Digestive Disorders by Kathryn Marsden

July 15, 2011

A Sunny Day in Malahide with an 'Itsabagel' Allergy Free lunch

Last Saturday the sun was shining again in Dublin (Summer 2011 has been bliss so far!!) so F and I were trailing the house trying to come up with somewhere to go or something to do that would keep us entertained while enjoying the warm gift from the sun god when F struck gold: Pitch & Putt in Malahide! Yes! We would go to Malahide, play Pitch & Putt and hopefully find a food allergy friendly lunch somewhere in the village before maybe take in a stroll along the beach if the clouds stay at bay.
My golfing career has been marked with repeat failures in Nerf Golf, Mini Golf, a Driving Range (where I couldn’t get further than 2 meters!) and now Pitch & Putt. Few things in life are certain but one thing I can guarantee is that I suck at golf. I like to play any game so my failure rates didn’t concern me too much but it can become frustrating when you suck as bad as I do. Anyway, we took the DART from Tara Station to Malahide, walked up to the main street, turned right, walked a few yards and crossed the road for the golf course. There is tennis and cricket there too (I love the look of all the cricket whites on field!) and paths for a stroll all around the castle. €14 later we were both set with a pitcher and a putter each, 4 golf balls, a pack of bamboo tees and a scoring card heading for hole 1 out of 18. F is not awesome at golf but he is at least twice as good as I am. I started to improve around hole 11 or 12 but then I got way hungry and impatient so my score started back on its journey to shame. By hole 18 F had 50 and I was at an impressive 102. But this didn’t matter a toss because it was lunch time at last!!
We strolled around the village, which has a lot of different cafes, restaurants and flower shops. Sadly the health food store has been closed and transformed into a book store but things started to look up when we found an itsabagel branch. If you remember from Surround Yourself in Gluten Free & Dairy Free Cakes, Beauty and Art at IMMA, ‘itsa…’ is an allergy friendly chain. There are Itsabagel branches in Malahide, Fitzwilliam Sq, Arnotts, Sandyford and Dun Laoghaire. They serve gluten free and dairy free cakes with a choice of salads, soups and bagel sandwiches. I had a quick look at the ingredient lists of a few of the other bagel flavours (the bagels are stocked in bulk on shelves and so the ingredients are visible while you wait in line to order) and most of the bagels, if not all contain sugar, maize (corn) and vinegar but they all seemed to be Dairy free (note: always double check before ordering because ingredient lists are prone to change).
F ordered a dairy free vegetarian lentil soup, a vegetarian bagel with goats or feta cheese and a coconut juice. A problem that I have had with bagel bars in the past (esp. the bar in the Dundrum shopping centre) is that they are sometimes unwilling to deviate from the set menu of sandwich options so I was very happy when my alternative request was met with a ‘no problem’. I ordered a dairy free self-designed option of a plain bagel, lettuce, roasted red peppers and hummus. Sadly dessert was not an option for me as I’m refraining from sweets and sugar despite the sugar in my bagel but I did take a browse and just like at IMMA there was a flourless cake and a dairy free option.
We took our lunch out to a super comfy bright green couch which was in an outdoor covered non-smoking patio and sipped, munched and chatted to our hearts content free from potential sun burn and smoke inhalation but happily lapping up the fresh air and warmth (note: there is a large outdoor smoking area just beyond the patio).

After we had lounged for quite long enough F and I headed to the beach where the sandals came off immediately and my feet got naturally pumiced on the sand. The water wasn’t half as cold as I expected so I took the opportunity to walk along the shore and across all of the inlets that I could. The largest one barely made it to my knees (I’m 5’11” for depth reference) so it was an ideal swimming pool for little ones and/or coward feet dippers like me because you could still see the bottom for any potential crabs!

And that was our sunny Allergy friendly day out in Malahide. Itsa… is a great chain which doesn’t feel too mass produced and lets you sit around for ages while you work up your appetite to try one of their allergy free cakes. The branch at IMMA was very helpful and showed me the actual ingredient lists for their cakes so I have no doubt that the Malahide branch could help you out in a similar fashion should you require some extra information.

1 The Diamond, New Street
Co. Dublin
tel: (01) 845 6744
web: www.itsa.ie
Opening Times: Mon - Sat 09:00 - 18:00; Sun 10:00 - 18:00

July 13, 2011

Superquinn – A Small Food Allergy Section but with Many Hidden Treasures

Superquinn is known for their quality foods and prices to match. However, they are working hard to inform the public of their many low prices. Supposedly they match Tesco and Dunnes on 100s of "top selling lines", or so the banner says. My personal interpretation of Superquinn is 'like a Marks and Spencers only with a variety of brands to choose from'. They carry mid- to upper-range products with many average prices spotted between some luxury goods. They also have top class fruit and veg with prices to match the quality.

However, not everything is top dollar: Some of the better value spring water in Dublin like the Superquinn Essentials brand is only €1.89 per 5ltrs and the cheapest Dairy Free Rice Dream Rice Milk in the city is only €2 for Organic and €2.49 for Added Calcium. Rathgar is just down the road from me so I make a special trip for these two items every week in my struggle to keep my food bill down.

But that’s not all. Superquinn has a small but dedicated food allergy free section. As per normal, it caters primarily to gluten free and wheat free diets but there are options on the shelves for all of us. And again I will say, that the dairy free Rice Dream Rice Milk is the cheapest in the city!
- Lifeforce Gluten Free & Dairy Free Museli (Irish!)
- McCambridge Gluten Free Fruit Soda
- Juvela Gluten Free White Sliced Loaf
- Juvela Fibre Sliced Loaf
- Juvela Digestive Biscuits
- The Organic Co. Mini Milk Chocolate Rice Cakes
- Kelkin Gluten Free Jaffa Cakes
- Kelkin Gluten Free Chocolate Flavoured Teacakes
- Kelkin Gluten Free Porridge
- Mrs Crimbles Gluten Free & Wheat Free Chocolate Macaroons (These are Dairy Free too but we have experienced some cross contamination issues on more than one occasion)
- Doves Farms Rice Pasta
- Doves Farm Gluten Free & Wheat Free Baking Powder
- Bunalun & Lifeforce Rice Cakes
- Livwell Gluten Free, Wheat Free & Dairy Free Naan Bread
- Livwell Gluten Free, Wheat Free & Dairy Free Sultana Scones
- Livwell Gluten Free, Wheat Free & Dairy FreeWhite Pita Bread
- Sam Mills Corn Pasta (Pasta d’oro)
- Nanny Care Powdered Goats Milk
- Odlums Gluten Free Tritamyl Self Raising Flour
- Odlums Gluten Free Tritamyl Brown Bread Mix
- Hale & Hearty Wheat Free, Gluten Free & Vegan option Chocolate Brownie Mix
- Glebe Farm Gluten Free Cranberry & Blueberry Muffin Mix
- Bacheldre Watermill Organic Stoneground Plain Unbleached White Flour (beware of cross-contamination with the Odlums Tritamyl)
- Alpro Soya Milk (Organic & Original)
- Alpro Soya Custard
- Alpro Soya Vanilla Pudding
- Rice Dream Rice Milk(Added Calcium, Organic & Vanilla)

Elsewhere in the shop...
Like everything in Superquinn there seems to be numerous places where like products reside so have a good look around and you might be surprised with all the different allergy friendly items you will find. Hidden among the other produce you are likely to discover some more dedicated allergy friendly foods as well as many naturally food allergy friendlies like:
- Pure Soya Spread
- Alpro Soya Yoghurt
- Little Dish readymade Chicken Risotto, Fish Pie & Cottage Pie all with no added salt or sugar
- Linwoods Hemp, Flax and seed mixes
- Hodgins Gluten Free White Pudding (also Dairy Free, Soya Free & Egg Free)
- A few different types of Dairy free hummous. Note: Galbert’s contains corn in the form of xanthan gum and Florentin’s is labeled as vegan despite the lactic acid in the ingredients (must be from a non-dairy source)
- Stewed Nourish Your Soul Dairy Free, Gluten Free, Wheat Free & Soya Free Thai Green Chicken, Hungarian Goulash & Chorizo Chickpea & Pork Stew (contains celery) stews.
- Cauldron Firm Tofu at €2.99 for 396g
- Bombay Pantry Readymade meals which are gluten free with dairy free options
- Heinz Gluten Free Farley’s Rusks Baby biscuits
- Organix Gluten Free & Dairy Free Fruit Baby Pots which only contain the fruits listed and Asorbic Acid
- Cow & Gate no added milk, egg, soya, Gluten free & Vegetarian baby foods
- Rol Pesto for €3.99 which is one of the few naturally dairy free, vegan Pesto on the market containing only extra virgin olive oil, basil, pine seeds (tree nuts), salt & garlic
- Aíne Zesty Lime & Aíne Seville Orange Dairy Free & Gluten Free chocolate bars
- Celtic Dairy Free Fine Dark Chocolate
- As well as Lindt 70% & Butlers 70% dark chocolate
- Naturally Gluten & Wheat Free Don Antonio Polenta & Porcini Mushrooms mix at €3.89 for 450g containing only maize meal, mushrooms, parsley, chives & garlic

Recently I’ve been indulging in some of their beautiful fresh apricots. Apricots can are so often mealy and yuck when you bite into them that I think the extra €€ is worthwhile for that juice soft flesh... yum

web: www.superquinn.ie

Ballinteer Avenue
Ballinteer, Dublin 16
tel: (01) 298 9131
Opening Times: Mon - Fri 08:00 - 21:00; Sat 08:00 - 21:00; Sun 09:00 - 20:00

Balckrock Shopping Centre
Blackrock, Co. Dublin
tel: (01) 283 1511
Opening Times: Mon - Fri 08:00 - 21: 00; Sat 08:00 - 20:00; Sun 09:00 - 20:00

Main Street, Blanchardstown
Dublin 15
tel: (01) 821 0611
Opening Times: Mon - Wed 08:00 - 21:00; Thurs - Fri 08:00 - 22:00; Sat 08:00 - 21:00; Sun 09:00 - 20:00

Castle Street, Bray
Co. Wicklow
tel: \901) 286 7779
Opening Times: Mon - Wed 08:00 - 21:00; Thurs - Fri 08:00 - 22:00; Sat 08:00 - 20:00; Sun 09:00 - 19:00

Kennedy Avenue, Carlow
Co. Carlow
tel: (059) 913 0077
Openint Times: Won - Wed 08:00 - 19:00; Thurs - Fri 08:00 - 21:00; Sat 08:00 - 19:00; Sun 10:00 - 18:00

Charlesland, Greystones
Co. Wicklow
tel: (01) 287 8040
Opening Times: Mon - Sun 08:00 - 22:00

Emmet Street, Conmel
Co. Tipperary
tel: (052) 612 7222
Opening Times: Mon - Wed 08:00 - 19:00; Thurs - Fri 08:00 - 21:00; Sat 08:00 - 19:00; Sun 10:00 - 18:00

Mckee Avenue, Finglas
Dublin 11
tel: (01) 834 1182
Opening Times: Mon - Tues 08:30 - 19:00; Wed 08:30 - 21:00; Sat 08:00 - 19:00; Sun 10:00 - 18:00

Unit 9A - C, Heuston South Quarter
St. Johns Road West
Dublin 8
tel: (01) 640 0990
Opening Times: Mon - Fri 08:00 - 22:00; Sat 08:00 - 21:00; Sun 09:00 - 21:00

Market Cross Centre, James' Street
Kilkenny, Co. Kikenny
tel: (056) 775 2444
Opening Times: Mon - Wed 08:00 - 19:00; Thurs - Fri 08:00 - 21:00; Sat 08:00 - 19:00; Sun 10:00 - 18:00

Knocklyon Road, Templeogue
Dublin 16
tel: (01) 494 2421
Opening Times: Mon - Fri 08:00 - 21:00; Sat 08:00 - 21:00; Sun 09:00 - 20:00

Dublin Road, Castletroy
Limerick, Co. Limerick
tel: (061) 501140
Opening Times: Mon - Wed 08:00 - 21:00; Thurs - Fri 08:00 - 22:00; Sat 08:00 - 20:00; Sun 10:00 - 19:00

Newcastle Road, Lucan
Co. Dublin
tel: (01) 624 0277
Opening Times: Mon - Fri 08:00 - 22:00; Sat 08:00 - 21:00; Sun 09:00 - 20:00

Northside Shopping Centre, Coolock
Dublin 17
tel: (01) 847 7111
Opening Times: Mon - Wed 08:30 - 19:00; Thurs - Fri 08:30 - 21:00; Sat 08:30 - 19:00; Sun 10:00 - 18:00

Unit 1, Portlaoise Shopping Centre
Abbeyleix Road, Portlaoise
Co. Laois
tel: (057) 868 8728
Opening Times: Mon - Wed 08:30 - 20:00; Thurs - Fri 08:30 - 21:00; Sat 08:30 - 19:00; Sun 09:00 - 19:00

31 - 33 Ranelagh Road, Ranelagh
Dublin 6
tel: (01) 496 4270
Opening Times: Mon - Sat 07:00 - 22:00; Sun 08:00 - 22:00

The Village, Rathborne
Ashtown, Dublin 15
tel: (01) 899 6960
Opening Times: Mon - Sat 08:00 - 22:00; Sun 09:00 - 21:00

13 Highfield Rd, Rathgar
Dublin 6
tel: (01) 496 4430
Opening Times: Mon - Thurs 08:00 - 21:00; Fri - Sat 08:00 - 22:00; Sun 09:00 - 21:00

Sundrive Road, Kimmage
Dublin 12
tel: (01) 492 1844
Opening Times: Mon - Fri 08:00 - 22:00; Sat 08:00 - 20:00; Sun 09:00 - 20:00

Sutton Cross, Sutton
Dublin 13
tel: (01) 832 2744
Opening Times: Mon - Wed 08:00 - 21:00; Thurs - Fri 08:00 - 22:00; Sat 08:00 - 21:00; Sun 09:00 - 22:00

The Pavillion Shopping Centre, Swords
Co. Dublin
tel: (01) 890 7074
Opening Times: Mon - Wed 09:00 - 21:00; Thurs - Fri 09:00 - 22:00; Sat 08:00 - 20:00; Sun 09:00 - 19:00

Tyrrelstown Shopping Centre
Dublin 15
tel: (01) 827 4004
Opening Times: 08:00 - 22:00

Dublin 12
tel: (01) 450 5565
Opening Times: Mon - Wed 08:00 - 21:00; Thurs - Fri 08:00 - 22:00; Sat 08:00 - 20:00; Sun 09:00 - 19:00

Kilbarry Centre, Tramore Road
Waterford, Co. Waterford
tel: (051) 370040
Opening Times: Mon - Wed 08:00 - 21:00; Thurs - Fri 08:00 - 22:00; Sat 08:00 - 20:00; Sun 09:00 - 19:00

July 11, 2011

Dairy Free & Gluten Free Chutneys with many Corn Free & other Allergy Friendly Options

Good-day Fair Readers! Today I want to write a note about Ireland’s very own ‘Janet’s Country Fayre’.
In the last decade or so we have seen a huge surge in homemade and natural products but Janet Drew, proprietor of Janet’s Country Fayre, has been firmly seated on the artisan bandwagon mixing up a tasty storm of chutneys and relishes since 1994, well before artisan products reached their present popularity. I dislike the word 'artisan' because I feel like it is often used purely to justify a hefty price tag but true or false as that may be, a return to wholesome, handmade and pure produce is rarely a bad thing (especially if you want simple food allergy free ingredients!). Janet’s chutneys and relishes were one of the first to step away from mass production and return to great taste and good quality and her brand has been growing steadily ever since but if you doubt her ability you should note that Janet has also received a whole rake of awards such as:
- 2011 Irish Food Writer’s Guild (Beetroot Blush)
- 2008 Blas na hÉireann National Irish Food Awards (Hamburger Relish)
- 2007 Australian Macadamia Society Best in Category (Macadamia & Parsley Pesto)
- 2006 Great Taste Awards (5 Gold Medals, 1 Silver and a Harvey Nichols listing)
- Bridgestone Irish Food Guide

This general corner of the world have always liked their chutneys, and rightly so because they’re fabulous! But crikey, who even knew that Sweet Pepper Chutney was originally Janet Drew’s idea?! …And, incidentally has since become the most copied ‘artisan’ products originating in Ireland?! – Power to the Emerald Isle!

But let‘s get to the important part: As a consumer with food allergies I know that crazy, and unnecessary common food allergens crop up in ingredient lists all the time. This is especially the case with chutneys, relishes and dressings where you will regularly see gluten or corn in the form of starch and thickeners or dairy such as lactic acid stuck in to so many of the condiments you want to try. And that’s what brings me to Janet’s Country Fayre...

I LOVE quick, snappy and most importantly, readable, ingredient lists. It is the dream of food allergy sufferers everywhere. No questions – No deciphering – No mystery translations – and funny enough, the best tasting products usually have easy to read ingredient lists! So why do they do it?! Janet’s chutneys and relishes don’t even have additives or excessive amouts of added fat, like so many mass produced sauces and yet she keeps winning awards for great taste, the shop keepers tell me that they are hugely popular and the customers say that they taste the biz! The most foreign sounding Janet’s Country Fayre gets is using xanthan gum as a stabilizer in the Summer Sunshine Dressing. Xanthan does of course contain corn but corn is by no means, in all of the products.

Almost all (or at least, every one that I checked) is

- Dairy Free &
- Gluten Free

So, Janet’s Country Fayre is definitely an allergy friendly brand where you will hopefully find something tempting to dress up your dinner. The only problem you might run into is with multiple food allergies. If you are allergic to one or two of the following:

- Tomatoes
- Onions
- Apples or
- Vinegar

You should be able to find a couple products to suite your diet but if you have to refrain from all of them, like me, sadly you will not find anything. There seems to be at least one culprit in each product (all being typical chutney ingredients) but there are definitely options if your ‘free-from’ list is shorter. The selection is not endless but it is diverse: Beetroot Blush, Chutney for Cheese & Wine, Cranberry Chutney, Fig & Apricot Chutney, Mango Chutney, Ploughman’s Chutney, Scrummy Plum Chutney, Spiced Apricot, Cucumber Pickle, Sweet Pepper Relish, Hamburger Relish, Really Good Brown Sauce, Really Good Ketchup, Smart Ass Sauce, Pasta Sauce, Cranberry Sauce, Tomato & Chili Salsa, Special Vinaigrette, Summer Sunshine, Red Onion Marmalade. I love some of the hilarious names like ‘Smart Ass’ and ‘Really Good ...’ which really make me want to try them out!

Some typical ingredient lists read like this:

Spiced Apricot: Apricots, wine vinegar, sugar, coriander, allspice berries

Mango Chutney: Mango, pineapple, apple, onions, wine vinegar, demerea sugar, chilli, ginger, nutmeg, garlic

Beetroot Blush: apples, onions, wine vinegar, sugar, orange juice

Ploughmans Chutney: tomatoes, courgettes, onions, apples, sultanas, dates, wine vinegar, pepper, sugar, fresh ginger, cayenne pepper, mustard seed

And finally, where can you get them and for how much? Prices range from €3.90 – 4.50 and they are available in locations all over Ireland. There are no less than 29 stockists in Dublin alone:
Fresh, Camden St; Supervalu, Churchtown; Nolan’s, Clontarf; The Butler’s Pantry, Clontarf; Dun Laoghaire Farmer’s Market, Dun Laoghaire; Fallon & Byrne, Exchequer St; Lovin Caterine, Francis St; Honest 2 Goodness, Glasnevin; Cavistons, Glasthule; Wrights of Howth, Howth; Supervalu, Kilester; The Bretzel Bakery, Lennox St; Collins Butchers, Lucan; Plantagen Garden Works, Malahide; Mortons, Ranelagh; Ennis Butchers, Rialto; Get Fresh, Rosemount S.C. Rathfarnham; P.M. O’Loughlin Foods, Shankhill; Olive Delicatessan, Skerries; Food Game, South Lotts Rd; Sheridan’s Cheesemongers, Sth Anne St; The Butler’s Pantry, Temple Hill; Supervalu, The Rise, Mt Merrion; Lawor’s Butchers, Uppr Rathmines Rd; Winnie’s Craft & Café, Booterstown; Rowans Delicatessan, Rathfarnham; Shiels Londis, Malahide; Thomas’s, Foxrock

And 103 stockists spread across the rest of the country (28 in Cork, 3 in Carlow, 1 in Clare, 2 in Cavan, 2 in Donegal, 5 in Galway, 9 in Kerry, 5 in Kildare, 1 in Limerick, 2 in Longford/Leitrim, 6 in Mayo, 9 in Meath, 1 in Offaly, 3 in Roscommon, 1 in Sligo, 3 in Tipperary, 3 in Waterford, 4 in Westmeath, 10 in Wexford, 5 in Wicklow)

For full details of shops and towns that stock Janet’s Country Fayre products see the Outlets page on the Janet’s Country Fayre’s website.

Janet’s Country Fayre
Location: 13B Bullford Business Campus, Kilcoole, Co. Wicklow
Tel: (01) 201 8008
Web: http: www.janetscountryfayre.com
Email: janet@janetsco

July 8, 2011

The Weekly Shop: Keeping My Food Allergy Free Bill Under €50

The Goal: a €40 grocery bill!
After speaking with a friend of mine I was motivated to try and reduce my grocery bill yet again. M says that she spends €40 a week on groceries. As I look at her with admiration and respect I note that she’s slender and fit, but definitely not ill or anemic so I reckon that she’s not actually starving herself to keep within her budget. I know that she loves olives and cheese (goats, feta, etc) and so I conclude that she is either a master shopper or she is lying to me! Or maybe she’s misjudging her bill?? The truth is most likely that I’m a rubbish shopper - sigh - either way; a €40 grocery bill for one week is my ultimate goal.

The Prediction: €65
After making a list of what I need and want to buy (the want as opposed to the need could be my problem area!) I ring my bill-calculating-master of a mother to give me a prediction. She says that my list will probably cost me €65 – DAMN IT!!
This time I’m not going to spend all day going from shop to shop. Word on the street is that you never really save much doing that anyway but I do have a couple different brands I like so my shops this week are:

- The Hopsack (H)
- Restore (R)
- Evergreen, Wexford St (E)
- Tesco (T)
- Lidl (L)
- Superquinn (S)
- Nolan’s Food Fare (N)

The Result: I won the battle but I lost the war…. I just barely beat my Mom’s prediction of €65 but I GROSSLY failed on the ultimate goal, un-surprisingly, by spending €61.70 overall.

My List:
- Chickpeas x 1can – T €0.85
- Butternut squash – S €2.29
- Linseeds, whole (500g)– H €2.41
- Carrot x 1 – E €0.17
- Courgette x 1 – E €0.75
- Pear puree x 2pkts – H €3.50
- Oat bran (250g) – R €2.63
- Fresh mint leaves – E €1.99
- Dates (250g)– R €2.32
- Sugar snap peas – E €3.00
- Soya cheese – H €2.15
- Soya yoghurt x 1lrg tub – H €1.69
- Rice milk x 2 – S €4.49
- Brown bread (pan) x 1 – S €1.69
- Vitamin A (A & D tablets) – H €7.15
- Spinach – E €1.99
- Water x 2 (5ltr bottles) – S €3.78
- Lemon x 1 – T €0.45
- Frozen blueberries x 2 (500g) – L €5.98
- Firm tofu (200g) – N €2.30
- Fruit x 7portions – E €? (the four plums were €1.02
- Lettuce – E €?
- Pumpkin seeds (100g) – R €1.16
- Sunflower seeds (250g) – R €1.55
- Potatoes – E €?
- Oat cakes – H €1.99

Where I saved:
- I got raspberries instead of blueberries because I saw a good deal in Lidl.
- I saved a bundle by buying whole linseeds which I can grind at home in my electric coffee grinder. Not only are they a fraction of the cost of pre-ground flax (note: the bags are WAY cheaper than the boxes if you’re buying whole seeds!) and they will keep better too because I can grind them when I want them – woo who!
- Instead of my beloved medjool dates I got plain simple pitted dates. They will serve their purpose without the added €€ even if they aren’t liquid amazing manna from the heavens like their cousin Medjool.

Where I screwed up:
- I totally didn’t need soya cheese.
- Vitamins are expensive! I also didn’t really need them (note: Vit A is no longer available on its own in Ireland so I got Vit A & D). These two items (A & soya cheese) would have saved me €9.30!!!
- I only got the potatoes because Lidl was out of their great value Butternut Squash but then I found the squash for a moderate deal in Superquinn… ah well.
- I got 2 packs of sugar snap peas because I succumbed to a ‘deal’ – note: it is not a deal if you don’t need it
- I definitely could have got more tofu for my money in the Asia Market on Drury St.
- My fruit choices always drive the bill up.
- I also can’t figure out some of the items on the Evergreen bill – something cost €0.48 that I can’t figure and I’m just generally confused about the ‘Open Fruit’ items...

What I have learnt this week: My problem is not so much where I shop. It is what I buy. If you notice, the most expensive items on my list are ‘allergy-specific’ products. I believe that the key to budget food-allergy-free shopping to not substitute with allergy-dedicated products which can often cost the moon. True, if I could eat any fruit or vegetable, etc I could tighten the ropes a lot by buying things bananas, apples, raisins and cabbage instead of apricots, peaches, dates and butternut squash but I think it’s the ‘cheeses’ and ‘yoghurts’ that hike up the bill in the long run... that and also I just buy (and possibly eat!) way too much and have an addiction to ‘nice’ food.


Next time I will plan out an ultimate bargain-budget Food Allergy Free grocery list and see if I’m not crying all week due to lack of taste.

Until next time, Happy Shopping!

July 6, 2011

A Few Changes to Survival Guide: Dublin with Food Allergies

Only minor changes, but I thought that I’d let you know all the same…

First of all, Today is Wednesday! and if you pay attention to little details you will probably know that I usually post on Mondays, Thursdays and recently Saturdays as well. This has all been well and good but I sometimes struggle when trying to get the Saturday post out on time because it’s the weekend and the world has been released! Sooo... I am re-jigging my posting habits to Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays so I can focus (I tend to get more done when I’m swamped!)

Second, I’ve added some new blogs to my ‘Web Excursions’ column on the lower right of the page. I noticed that it was quite out of date and far from in-line with my favourite blogs. I plan to organize them soon into topic groupings in hopes of making browsing these wonderful sources more user-friendly.

Third, a change that I made a while ago was the addition of pictures to the 'Culinary Creations' page for ease of finding. I also plan to do something similar with the 'Shops Short List' and the 'Restaurant Directory' pages, so you can watch out for that.

And that’s about all for now…
If there are any changes or additions you would like to see on Survival Guide... or even just specific topics, restaurants, products, substitutes or events or even additional allergies you would like me to cover I’d love to hear about it and would definitely consider any/all of your recommendations. Likewise, if you have any questions I’d love to help. As usual, you can leave a comment below or you can email me at aurea.conroy@gmail.com

July 4, 2011

Gino’s Handmade Italian Gelato – Fresh Dairy Free Gelato – UPDATE!


Today is JUST the kind of day that will have Grafton Street’s new resident, Gino’s Handmade Italian Gelato, bursting at the seams with hot sun kissed customers looking to cool themselves with creamy smooth Gelato! ...If you have been following (last Thursday’s post), you will know that the food allergy information for Gino’s is not really clear cut and I was waiting on an answer from the head office about their soya based gelati and if there are any dairy free, gluten free and/or egg free options. Corn free is also one of our big concerns.

Soooo, although I haven’t had a complete answer on all of our food allergy concerns, Gino’s was very kind as to comment on Thursday’s post with the following:

"Hi all. Ginos offers different types of products. Some are made with no milk, others are soya based. The sorbets are made using water, but taste smooth like Gelato. Our problem is we are cautious about answers we give to people about products because the same machines are used to make all products, so technically there could accidentally be a trace amount of milk, sugar, or nuts in any of the servings. I apologize for our lack of information available on all of this but we are at the early stages of the opening of this shop. Our staff need to be trained. I will commit to having better information available on our web site in the next two weeks. I will also focus our attention on providing some beautiful soya based products and coming soon is a gelato suitable for diabetics. Thanks for your support."

So what does this all mean? Well, I suppose that it means the same as 'Made on a line that produces' food warnings. It’s understandable that all of Gino’s Gelati and Sorbets would be produced in the same machine, considering the size of the shop and the promise for freshly made products (Although it would be dreamy if they could make the sorbets or soya based flavours on one machine and the dairy-rich ones on another, but that might not be possible..and nuts and soya allergies would still be a problem - oh we have SO many food allergies in the world! - sigh). All we can hope for is that the machines are thoroughly washed in between flavours but cross-contamination is obviously something to be aware of. A lovely thing that I noticed is that each flavour on display has its own scoop for serving so this definitely minimizes some of the cross-contamination potential but do please beware, especially if you have anaphylactic reactions, of what Gino’s have told us.

Anyway, hope this helped! And thank You Gino's for sharing this information with us! -I look forward to your updated website.

Gino’s Homemade Italian Gelato
34B Grafton Street
Dublin 1
tel: (01) 201 1703
web: www.ginosgelato.com
facebook: http://www.facebook.com/ginosgelato

July 2, 2011

An Allergy Safe Day Out - Bray Head

Over the last month or so I have reviewed two food allergy friendly restaurant /cafe locations in southern Dublin (more commonly known as Wicklow!). And now that the sun is thinking of shining again I think that a hassle-free food-allergy-friendly day out is in order! What I suggest is this:
First get a one-way ‘Dart’ ticket to Greystones and have a lovely light lunch in The Happy Pear. The food is wholesome and definitely packed with taste! But don’t eat too much or you won’t be able for the rest of the day!

After wandering around and exploring Greystones, which is a picture perfect little town, head down to the temporarily ghastly construction site on the waterfront (change can be ugly before its pretty!) and find the entry to the Bray Head Walk. At first it seems like you’re going somewhere prohibited, but there is a map at the start so fear not, it’s the right direction!

And start your easy and very enjoyable hike to Bray. The walk takes you around Bray Head skirting the coast all the way. It’s really beautiful and the terrain is quite easy to handle.

The walk takes about 2 hours at a steady, but not too fast, pace. But even giving yourself time to rest along the way and take in the scenery it still should not take you more than 3 hours from start to finish at the absolute most.

There are a few different routes which are marked out on the Bray map but if you are travelling from Greystones to Bray, as you come around the head you will find a stairway going up the hill – this should bring you to a potential diversion path, still leading to your final destination of Bray (factor in more times if you plan on choosing this alternative route).

Once you come down into Bray and take time for a stroll down the promenade or walk along the shore you should be ready to head over to Shelby’s for an allergy-friendly dinner!

Most people I know do the walk in the reverse direction, from Bray to Greystones but if you do that you’ll miss out on dinner in Shelby’s at the end! (Reservation is advised).

When you've finished licking your fingers (discreetly!) head to the Bray Dart Station and get a one-way ticket back to town.

Last Darts from Bray (at time of writing):
Mon - Sat 22:55 All Stations to Malahide; 23:20 All Stations to Connolly
Sun 23:13 All Stations to Howth; 23:30 All Stations to Connolly
Last Darts from Greystones (at time of writing):
Mon - Sat 22:00 All Stations to Malahide; 22:30 All Stations to Howth
Sun 22:25 All Stations to Howth; 23:03 All Stations to Howth

The Happy Pear serves Vegetarian, Vegan, Dairy Free, Gluten Free, Sugar Free, Raw, GMO Free, Organic foods

Shelby’s Brasserie serves Dairy Free, Gluten Free and Vegetarian dishes on request