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

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