September 30, 2011

What I'm Reading: Allergy Free Surfing

I seem to have been hungrier then usual this past month... Between experiments in the kitchen and surfing for free-from recipes I'm going to have to buy a longer belt! But don't let that put you off reading some of the yum-town good free-from recipes that i've linked to below.
In other news, the web seems a bit scarier then usual with possible food allergy contaminants, buttered hamburger buns and illusive terminology but onwards and upwards because knowledge is power! or so they say...
oh yeah, and don't forget to check out this months eye-candy - yum yum yuuuuummmm!

Food Allergy Talk
Some interesting information on Food Regulation Terminology: (the dangers of so-called dairy-free ice cream)

Once, many moons ago, I was getting a toasted sandwich and I just happened to notice the girl buttering the outside of the bread for better ‘toasting’! This totally freaked me out. It was the first time I had seen such a practice, but it’s more common then I once thought. If you are in the United States and find yourself in a Wendy’s with a milk allergy read this: Wendy's (buttered burger buns)

If I had severe anaphylactic reactions to my food allergies I would probably panic regularly at the thoughts of my allergens being in non-food related products but one must remember that people do live in the world... but maybe think twice before taking a job in some factories... ??
products made from peanuts:
products made from corn
products made from milk
products made from egg

Food Allergy Friendly Product Reviews:
Possibly the best Gluten Free Pasta ever?? Where can we find it?! Also, in the interview portion of the post, some top class ideas for tomato-free pasta! (jovial pasta)

In the Kitchen:
Vegan Cookie Mix Gifted! I love the idea, I love the picture, I love the ingredients, and I would definitely LOVE to receive one!! (punk rock cookie jar mixes)

An absolute must try simple simple simple recipe for dairy free, egg free, soya free, vegan whipped cream! (coconut whipped cream)

I don’t know how it would taste but the picture looks the business! (apple pie cheesecake)

And while we’re in the kitchen lets totally try some of this as well! (pecan pumpkin butter)

A Little Bit of Eye-Candy:
I wish my food photography looked like this! (note: also a great post on food photography equipment):

...and purely for some amazing visual pleasure check out these documentary pics (esp. ‘the traveller’, with the man walking through the birds! OOooo AHHhhhh)

September 28, 2011

Simple Sweet Snacks Free From Common Allergens

When the sweet tooth beckons it can be a hard time if you have food allergies, as you are probably well aware. So, I would like to add to the ever growing list of tempting sweet treats that food allergy sufferers can indulge in when in Dublin or Ireland.

Booja-Booja Organic Ecuadorian Dark Truffles (2 Pack)

Wonderfully free from many allergens and even free from refined sugar! I love the Booja-Booja two packs because although they are not the cheapest sweet on the market they are two lumps of pure heaven and allow to indulge without having to commit to an entire box of truffles. Available in health food stores such as The Hopsack and Nourish

*Dairy Free
*Lactose Free
*Gluten Free
*Wheat Free
*Soya Free
*Corn Free
*Egg Free
*Does not contain nuts (note: but made in an environment containing nuts)
*No Added Sugar
*Cholesterol Free
*Low GI &GL
*The Natural & Organic Awards 2008 Winner: Best Organic Food Product
Ingredients: 100% Raw Cocoa Solids, Raw Agave, Raw Cold-Pressed Coconut Oil, Water from Osmosis, Ecuadorian Cocoa Powder
Nutritional Information per 100g: unavailable

Booja-Booja Organic Italian Hazelnut Truffles (2 Pack)
Yum Yum and Yum. Booja-Booja’s Italian Hazelnut Truffles are the creme de la creme of chocolates, food allergy friendly or not (if you ask me!). I LOOOOOVE these little pieces of glorious heaven. That is all I have to say. (note: Italian Hazelnut flavour does contain sugar)
*Dairy Free
*Lactose Free
*Gluten Free
*Wheat Free
*Corn Free
*Cholesterol Free
*Academy of Chocolate Bronze Winner 2009
Ingredients: Dark Chocolate (Cocoa Solids 55%, Cane Sugar, Soya Lecithin, Vanilla), Coconut Oil, Hazelnuts (18%), Cocoa Powder
Nutritional Information per 100g: unavailable

9 Bar Flax

Available in most health food stores, the 9 Bar Flax with carob coating is quite sweet and quite tasty as well. I like it a lot but find it a good snack despite the sugar content.

*Dairy Free
*Gluten Free
*Wheat Free
*Lactose Free
*Caffeine Free
*Yeast Free (note: contains sugar)
*Rich in Omega 3 + 6
*Egg Free
*Free from Preservatives
Ingredients: Mixed Seeds (Sunflower, Pumpkin, Sesame, Popy( (49%), Carob Topping (Sugar, Vegetable Fat, Soya, Carob, Emulsifier: Sunflower Lecithin) (15%), Honey, Raw Cane Sugar, Vegetable Oil, Flax Seed (5%), Dehulled Hemp Seed (3%)
Note: may contain traces of nuts

Nutritional Information per 100g:
Energy 2180.0kJ /523kcal
Protein 17.4g
Carbohydrates 33.5g
of which sugars 30.0g
Fat 35.5g
of which saturates 10.0g
mono-unsaturates 9.7g
poly-unsaturates 14.1g
Trans Fatty Acids <0.1g Omega 3 Fatty Acids 1.2g Omega 6 Fatty Acids 12.9g Fibre 6.1g Sodium <0.1g

Sunita Honey Halva with Pistachios

I LOVE halva, in any form. I do think that it is a bit of an acquired taste but not one that takes too much time. Most halva’s are filled to the brim with sugar and are available in asian and indian grocers but Sunita serves the ‘refined sugar free’ well. Available in many health food shops (definitely available in Health Matters) and there is also a version sweetened with grape juice if you can’t have honey.
*Dairy Free
*Lactose Free
*Gluten Free
*Wheat Free
*Corn Free
*Egg Free
*Soya Free
*Free from Refined Sugar (note: contains Honey)
Ingredients: Ground Sesame Seeds (47%), Honey (43%), Pistachios (10%)

Nutritional Information per 100g:
Energy 2303kJ/552kcal
Protein 18.6g
Carbohydrates 42.0g
Fat 34.4g

Harvest Fare Pistachio Bar

If you’re dairy free and in a pinch Harvest Fare Pistachio Bars are available in many convenience stores such as Spar. They are fairly sweet and you’re teeth will know all about it after eating it but they do have their own charm.
*Dairy Free
*Lactose Free
*Egg Free
Ingredients: Pistachios, Glucose Syrup, Sugar, Honey
Nutritional Information per 100g: unavailable

Panda Raspberry Licorice

I’m a purest when its comes to Margaritas and Licorice so Panda’s original licorice flavour is my only love but I have noticed that the Raspberry flavoured licorice seems to have stuck with the public. Available in all Holland & Barrett stores.
*Dairy Free
*Lactose Free
*Corn Free
*Egg Free
Ingredients: Molasses Syrup, Wheat Flour, Raspberry Purée (1.7%), Acidity Regulator (Citric Acid), Natural Flavouring, Black Carrot Juice Concentrate, Licorice Extract

Nutritional Information per 100g:
Energy 1298kJ/307kcal
Protein 3.6g
Carbohydrates 72g
of which sugars 50g
Fat 0.4g
of which saturated fatty acids 0.0g
Fibre 0.9g
Sodium 0.1g

Blackfriars Apple & Sultana Flapjack

Here again I hold Blackfriars Original Flapjacks as trumps but if you need a bit of extra flavour Apple & Sultana might do the trick. It’s tasty no doubt and is not overcome with sugar. Available in most Holland & Barrett stores and some corner stores such as Spar.
*Dairy Free
*Lactose Free
*Egg Free
Ingredients: Oats, Non Hydrogenated Vegetable Margarine (Vegetable Oils & Fats, Water, Salt, Emulsifier E475, Nature Identical Flavourings), Partially Inverted Refiners Syrup, Sultanas 6%, Apple Flavouring (Nature Identical).

Nutritional Information per 100g:
Energy 2001kJ/479kcal
Protein 7.0g
Carbohydrate 54.0g
Fat 26.0g

For More Allergy Free Snacks and Safe Temptations see:

July 25th 2011 When the Sweet-Tooth Calls: A Few Easily Found Allergy-Friendly Options

July 20th 2011 When the Nibbles Gnaw & the Sweet-tooth Aches - ‘Against the Grain’ Gluten Free, Dairy Free & EggFree Cookies

June 9th 2011 Even More Dairy Free, Gluten Free and Allergy Friendly Chocolates

June 2nd 2011 Dairy Free & Soya Free Allergy Friendly Chocolate Chips & Baking Chocolate

April 14th 2011 A Few Dairy Free, Gluten Free, Food Allergy-Friendly Chocolate Bars

Februrary 9th 2011 Did You Know 5 - Food Allergy Friendly Snacks

January 28th 2011 Allergy Free - Did You Know Products - 4

October 5th 2010 Allergy Free - Did You Know Products - 3 [Dairy Free Chocolate]

September 14th 2010 Allergy Free - Did You Know Products - 1

September 26, 2011

LIDL - Dairy Free groceries for the Patient

If you’re looking for cheap groceries then Lidl is a great place to shop. I find the vegetables are always good quality and don’t go off overnight. Even the fruit is often better (taste-wise) than the fruit I get at markets and bigger name grocery stores... Other than that Lidl is an odd place because it is filled to the brim with a bizarre selection of unfamiliar products often packaged in unappealing bargain boxes.

BUT, don’t let the budget appearance put you off. As food allergy shoppers we must leave no stone unturned! I’ve been doing a lot of browsing and label reading in Lidl and although there are not many Gluten Free foods there are a lot of Dairy Free bits and pieces to be found. Some seem completely free while others have ‘may contain’ warnings for the dairy free gamblers who live life on the wild side.

Lidl's highlights for me are:
- Goody Special Muesli Luxury Fruit & Nut which is truly top notch, Peanut Free and amazingly affordable for muesli!! (If memory serves me correctly €1.89?!)
- Dulano Beech Smoked Spicy Salami because before I stopped eating Pork cured meats were one of my FAVOURITE things but they're hard to get Dairy Free.
- BelBake Marble Sponge Cake which I forgot to get the ingredients for but definitely contains egg and has a may contain milk warning but if you are a gambler and like maderia cake then this is the cake for you! (Similar to the Belbake Double Chocolate Chip Sponge Cake)

The biggest put off for me are the number of outrageous, hard to pronounce ingredients in many of the ready-made foods such as the 'Sausage Rolls' and the 'Doner Kebabs'!

Also, some of the foods are scary and totally unnatural sounding/looking such as the 'Belbake Pancakes Mix’it' which comes in a bottle and the 'Harvest Basket Instant Mashed Potato with Nutmeg'... Call me old fashioned but mashed potato should not come in a box!

For all you coffee table browsers I’ve listed a few of my findings below in case you like to get your weekly shop done a bit faster and don’t have all day to read food labels in the store!

Belbake Pancakes Mix’it
*Dairy Free Adaptable
wheat flour, sugar whole egg powder, glucose syrup, flavouring, iodised salt (salt, potassium iodate)

Belbake Maderia Sponge
*May contain traces of nuts, peanuts, milk and soya
Sugar; Whole Egg; Wheat Flour; Vegetable Fats; Wheat Starch; Humectant: Glycerol; Rice Flour; Vegetable Oils; Glucose-Fructose Syrup (from wheat); Fat Reduced Cocoa Powder 1%; Raising Agents: Disodium Diphosphate; Sodium Bicarbonate; Acidity Regulator: Sodium Acetates; Salt; Emulsifiers: Monodiglycerides of Fatty Acids: Natural Flavouring.

Bridge Bakery Traditional Tea Brack
*Contains Glutenm Egg and Wheat.
*Made in a factory that handles nuts, soya, milk

Vine Fruits 38%, Tea 24%, Wheat Flour, Sugar, Egg, Mixed Peel (Orange Peel, Glucose Syrup, Lemon Peel, Sugar, Acidity Regulator, Citric Acid, Preservative: Sulphur Dioxide), Molasses, Salt, Mixed Spices, Raising Agent: Sodium Hydrogen Carbonate, Perservative: Potassium Sorbate.

Sausage Rolls
*May contain celery, eggs, milk, milk products, mustard, nuts and soya
Pork, Wheat flour, Water, Margarine (vegetable oils & Fats, Water, Salt, Emulsifier: Mono & Diglycerides of Fatty Acids), Rusk (Wheat Flour, Salt, Ammonium Carbonate), Salt, Seasoning (Flavourings, Diphosphates (E450i, E450iii), Dextrose, Sodium Metabisulphite, Yeast Extract, Sodium Citrate, Antioxidant, Sodium Ascorbate, Colour: Carmines), Dextrin, Dextrose, Roasted Barley Malt Extract, Colour: Annatto

Doner Kebabs
*May contain traces of Celery, Egg, Milk, Mustard and Sesame
Seasoned Cooked Doner Meat (50%): (Lamb (39%), Mutton (39%), Seasoning [Salt, Sugar, Rusk (Wheat Flour, Salt), Wheat Flour, Spices, Stabiliser: Diphosphates; Hydrolysed Vegetable Protein, Herbs, Colour: Paprika Extract; Spice Extracts, Garlic Extract], Rusk [Wheat Flour, Salt, Raising Agent: Ammonium Carbonates], Soya Protein, Lamb Fat0, Pitta Bread (41%) (Wheat Flour, Yeast, Salt, Soya Flour, Wheat Starch, Preservative: Calcium Propionate; Flour Treatment Agent: L-Cysteine Hydrochloride), Chilli Sauce (9%) (Tomato Pureé, Sugar, Spirit Vinegar, Acetic Acid, Salt, Chilli Powder, Thickener: Xanthan Gum; Preservative: Potassium Sorbate; Ground Paprika).

Belbake Double Chocolate Chip Sponge Cake
*Contains Wheat, Gluten Egg and Soya
*May contain traces of nuts, peanuts and milk

Ingredients: Sugar, Whole Egg, Wheat /flour, Vegetable Fats, Vegetable Oils, Fat Reduced Cocoa 3.8%, Rice Flour, Humectant: Glycerol; Glucose-Fructose Syrup (from wheat), Cocoa Mass, Emulsifiers: Mono & Diglycerides of Fatty Acids, Soya Lecithins; Salt, Raising Agents: Disodium Bicarbonate; Acidity Regulator: Sodium Acetates; Citric Acid, Natural Flavouring, Cocoa Butter
Linessa Sorbet - Banana
*Gluten free
*Dairy free (may contain traces of milk)

Water; Banana Pureé; Sugar; Glucose Syrup; Stabliiser: Locust Bean Gum; Thickener: pectins; Citric Acid; Colour: Beta Carotene; Flavouring

Kanpur Garden Chicken Balti with Pilau Rice
Cooked Pilau Rice (44%): Water, Basmati Rice, Onion, Rapeseed Oil, Garlic Pureé, Salt, Tumeric, Cumin Seeds, Cardamom Seed; Balti Sauce (36%): Water, Onion, Red Peppers, Tomato, Rapeseed Oil, Tomato Pureé, Spinach, Garlic Pureé, Ginger Pureé, Jaggery Sugar, Mango Chutney (Sugar, Mango, Sugarcane Vinegar, Salt, Chilli Powder, Ginger Powder, Garlic Powder), Coriander, Maize Starch; Chicken Stock (contains: Chicken Stock, Yeast Extract, Salt, Lemon Juice Concentrate, White Wine Vinegar, CArrot, Onion, Red Pepper, Rosemary, Bay Pepper, Star Aniseed), Ground Cumin, Salt, Ground Coriander, Ground Chilli, Cumin Seed, Ground Turmeric, Fenugreek; Cooked Chicken Breast (20%): Chicken, Water, Salt

Kanpur Garden Chicken Jalfrezi with Pilau Rice
Cooked Pilau Rice (44%): Water, Basmati Rice, Onion, Rapeseed Oil, Garlic Pureé, Salt, Turmeric, Cumin Seeds, Cardamon Seeds; Jalfrezi Sauce (36%): Onion (6%), Tomato, Water, Red Peppers (4%), Green Peppers (4%), Rapessed Oil, Tomato Pureé, Coriander Stem, Chicken Stock (contains Chick Stock, Yeast Extract, Salt, Lemon Juice Concentrate, White Wine Vinegar, Carrot, Onion, Red Pepper, Rosemary, Bay, Pepper, Star Aniseed), Jaggery Sugar, Garlic Pureé, Chillies, Salt, Ground Cumin, Ground Coriander, Ground Chilli, Garam Masala (Corainder, Cinnamon, Black Pepper, Spices, Ginger, Clove, Spice Extract, Bay Leaf), Cumin Seed, Ground Turmeric; Cooked Chicken Breast (20%): Chicken, Water, Salt

Harvest Basket Instant Mashed Potato with Nutmeg
*May contain traces of milk
Ingredients: Dried Potatoes 97%; Salt; Emulsifier: Mono and Diglycerides of fatty acids; Stabiliser: Sodium Diphosphate; Spice Extracts: Nutmeg, Turmeric; Preservative: Sodium Metabisulphite; Antioxidant: Ascorbyl Palmitate; Citric Acid.

Goody Special Museli Luxury Fruit & Nut
*Contains Nuts, Seeds, Gluten, Wheat, Sulphur Dioxide
*May contain traces of Sesame Seeds

Raisins, Sultanas, Sweet Dried Pineapple (Citric Acid, Sulphur Dioxide), Sweet Dried Banana (Banana, Vegetable Oil, Sugar, Flavouring), Dates, Sweet Dried Papaya (Sulphur Dioxide), Oat Flakes, Barley Flakes, Nuts (Raw Coconut, Almonds, Roasted Hazelnuts, Pecan Nuts), Toasted & Malted Wheat Flakes, Pumpkin Seeds.

Dulano Chorizo Spanish Style
Pork, Iodised Salt, Paprika, Spices, Spice Extracts, Destrose, Perservative: Sodium Nitrite

Dulano Beech Smoked Spicy Salami
*May contain traces of Mustard
Pork, Iodised Salt, Glucose Syrup, Spices, Antioxidants, Ascorbic Acid, Sodium Ascorbate; Perservative: Sodium Nitrate

Bridge Bakery Traditional Tea Brack
*Contains Gluten, Egg and Wheat
*Made in a factory that handles nuts, soya, milk

Ingredients: Vine Fruits 28%, Tea 24%, Wheat flour, Sugar, Egg, Mixed Peel (Orange Peel, Glucose Syrup, Lemon Peel, Sugar, Acidity Regulator: Citric Acid, Perservative: Sulphur Dioxide), Molasses, Salt, Mixed Spices, Raising Agent: Sodium Hydrogen Carbonate, Perservative: Potassium Sorbate.

Rivercote Sliced Rye Bread with Wholegrain
*Contains Gluten, Rye, Sesame and Wheat. Suitable for vegetarians, no added preservatives
Ingredients: Coarse Wholegrain Rye, Water, Natural Sourdough (Wholegrain Rye, Water), Wheat Flour, Salt, Yeast, Sesame Seeds.

p.s. Note: If you can tolerate Goats milk there is some pretty good value cheese in Lidl too:

Goats Cheese
Slices €2.79
Wedge €3.53
Soft €1.99

September 23, 2011

Dairy Free, Soya Free, Vegan Coconut Yoghurt: Fail

Oh Dear...

My planned post for today was going to be all about the amazing Dairy Free, Soya Free Vegan Coconut Yoghurt that I made with my new second-hand, inherited yoghurt maker but the number one thing to remember when substituting recipes and cooking/baking for allergy sensitive eaters is that things don’t always turn out the way you plan... actually, I might even go as far as saying: Things (almost) never go the way you plan, first time 'round at least.

After heating and cooling and mixing and fermenting and chilling I got an extra tart/sour yoghurt (yay!) which was super runny (boo!).
I used agar agar, but not the powder, the cellophane look-a-like strands which I ground up in my coffee grinder.
This should not have been a problem but it was... or maybe it was because I diluted it too early.

I also used probiotic capsules to make it ALIVE!

So the overall ingredients were:
3 cups (2 cans) coconut milk
1/2 tsp (4 capsules) vegan probiotics
1.5 tsp agar agar ground
3 tsp water

The result: (I poured it on top of my oat bran and raspberries, in case you're wondering)

BUT have no fear, i am determined to master this and I will share when I do so watch this space, as they say :)

September 21, 2011

Anila’s Curry Sauces: Allergy Free Sauces

As I was browsing the shelves of the Hop Sack, in Rathmines, as per usual, I fell upon a few of Anila’s Curry Sauces. I was surprised that I had not seen them before (maybe it was the new swish packaging that caught my eye) as they have been around for a number of years(??!) Anyway, It is a rare occasion that I find a ready-made food allergy friendly sauce (especially a curry of any description!) which is free from Garlic, Onion, added Sugar, Vinegar AND Dairy! On top of all that, Anila’s sauces are also free from Gluten and are suitable for Vegans! Happy Day say I!

Anila is Hindu, thus explaining the Garlic and Onion Free quality of her sauces and apart from that I will put down the wonderful 'Free From' & 'Un-preserved' qualities down to pure loveliness! ;) So the only thing to do now was try it out!!
Due to my current avoidance of tomato I went with Anila’s award winning Goan Green Curry. Fact be known, most of the curry sauces are award winning but this one came free of the wicked canker sore (mouth ulcer) producing tomato so I skipped home to cook up a storm!

The curry is concentrated so the directions say to add ‘up to’ 1 jar of water to the sauce and put in your vegetables, or meat (chicken or seafood is recommended) and cook for 15-10 minutes for veg or 30 min for meat.

I fried some baby potatos and cauliflower in a pan and then tossed them into a pot with some courgette and a tin of chickpeas and added the sauce plus one jar of water and presto! 20 minutes later I had a Goan Green Feast!
Served with brown basmati (white would obviously be nicer, but it’s not as good for you!) and some poppadoms (usually Gluten Free by nature) and I had an awesome dinner!
If i had it again (because I’m a Pizazz flavour hound) I would have fried some fresh ginger for some added kick and diluted it only half as much. Overall the curry tasted mild but nice and made the house smell like I was an amazing chef!

Anila’s Curry Sauces are:

*Gluten Free
*Wheat Free
*Dairy Free / Milk Free
*Lactose Free
*Nut Free
*Corn Free
*Egg Free
*Soya Free
*No Added Sugar
*Potato Free
*Vinegar Free
*Preservative Free

Goan Green Curry
Ingredients: Fennel, Spinach, Coconut Milk, Sunflower Oil, Rapeseed Oil, Gram Flour, Coriander, Mint, Peppers, Green Mango, Ginger, Green Chillies, Sesame Seeds, Spices, Salt, Lemon Juice
Two Star Gold – Great Taste Awards Winner 2010
Best Vegan Product 2011 – Cook Vegetarian Magazine

Fruity Mild Curry Sauce
Ingredients: Tomatoes, Fennel, Sunflower Oil, Rapeseed Oil, Coconut Milk, Tomato Puree, Mangoes, Red Peppers, Ginger, Green Chillies, Spices, Salt.

Spicy Mild Curry Sauce
Ingredients: Tomatoes, Cabbage, Carrots, Sunflower Oil, Rapeseed Oil, Tomato Puree, Mango Slices, Ginger, Green Chillies, Spices, Salt
Three Star Gold Award Winner in the Great Taste Awards 2007
The Best Speciality Reserve Award 2007.

Mild Curry Korma Sauce
Ingredients: Tomatoes, Fennel, Chickpeas, Creamed Coconut, Coconut Milk, Sunflower Oil, Rapeseed Oil, Tomato Puree, Ginger, Green Chillies, Spices, Salt, Tamarind
Great Taste Awards Winner

Spicy Korma Sauce
Ingredients: Tomatoes, Fennel, Creamed Coconut, Sunflower Oil, Rapeseed Oil, Tomato Puree, Coconut Milk, Green Chillies, Ginger, Spices, Salt
Three Star Gold Award Winner in the Great Taste Awards 2007
FREE-FROM Food Award Winner in 2009

Spicy Medium Curry Sauce
Ingredients: Tomatoes, Fennel, Sunflower Oil, Rapeseed Oil, Tomato Puree, Ground Cashews, Green Chillies, Ginger, Spices, Salt
Great Taste Award Winner

Spicy Hot Curry Sauce
Ingredients: Tomatoes, Celery, Sunflower Oil, Rapeseed Oil, Tomato Puree, Ground Almonds, Green Peppers, Green Chillies, Ginger, Spices, Salt.
Great Taste Award Winner

Hot Methi Curry Sauce
Ingredients: Tomatoes, Fennel, Celery, Sunflower Oil, Rapeseed Oil, Tomato Puree, Gram Flour, Fenugreek (Methi) Leaves 1%, Green Chillies, Ginger, Spices, Salt, Tamarind

Also in Anila’s repertoire (Note: The free from attributes differ from above):

Available at the Hopsack, The Swan Centre, Rathmines, Dublin 6

September 19, 2011

KC Peaches: Wholefoods with Allergy Free Options

The idea behind KC Peaches is simply ‘healthy wholefoods’ (what a novelty! I love the present trend towards healthy living!!) There are self-serve hot foods, and cold foods as well as a made-to-order sandwich bar which also makes salads from the huge range of exciting toppings and fillings with grilled portobello mushrooms, homemade olive tapenade, homemade hummus and avocado in its seemingly endless list!
The staff were SOoooo helpful and didn’t grumble at all when I asked the ingredients of three different toppings! My server asked me if my sandwich was vegetarian, which gets a different meat free chopping board (alleluia!) and apart from questioning the staff all of the hot and cold pre-made dishes have the ingredients listed under the name of each one... Now, I did notice that some things were left out such as the grated carrots which obviously contained sesame seeds but the provided information takes half of the questioning away and the staff are so helpful that I have no doubt you will be able to find something to tempt your allergy sensitive, free from palates! (Note: I found that most the hot dishes contained dairy but there are a lot of different options elsewhere)

And what would lunch be without a sweet ending you ask? KC Peaches covers this as well with a 4th/5th counter serving baked goods.

I spotted 2 or 3 gluten free options which said that they were baked in a gluten free kitchen (hip hip!)

And to top it all off I delighted in a soya chai latte with, get this.... agave nectar! That's right, agave, honey and sugar are all available to self sweeten your beverage.... It is a small touch but the Agave was my favourite part...the pure novelty if it!

And if you want it straight from the horses mouth:

‘We say no to muffin mixes, artificial ingredients, preservatives, food additives and more because we care about the food you eat.  Sure, it takes a little longer for our kitchen to chop fresh herbs, roast our own sandwich meats and source special baking ingredients, but it means our food tastes better and is better for you.
In addition to serving only whole foods – no additives, preservatives, artificial flavours or colours – we also care about having something for everyone.  Thus, we offer one of the largest selections of gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan and vegetarian food in Dublin.’

The damage is that although it won’t literally cost you an arm and a leg KC Peaches is a bit more pricey then your average café. I had a toasted ciabatta sandwich with two spreads, grilled portobello mushrooms and grilled red peppers with a small self serve salad plate for 8.50 and a chai latte with soya milk for €3.35. F had a large hot plate for €9.50, an iced tea (sugar free! sweetened with apple juice) for €3 and a dessert for €3.50 which definitely added up.

On layout, there are so many food bars and people that it can seem a little confusing when you walk in but just shake it off and start browsing around. When you order your sandwich, salad, coffee or sweet you pay for it and your order will be served to your table. For self-serve foods, just pay, sit and eat. There is ample seating on the ground floor, in the basement and upstairs.

KC Peaches also offers catering.

When I first saw KC Peaches I was convinced that it was a chain restaurant. I decided that it was definitely either American or English. But I was delighted (and not so shocked) when I found out that KC Peaches was actually an Irish business owned by an American born (Seattle, WA) and Irish born locally based pair. Also, all the bread is sourced from Dublin’s own Bretzel Bakery - so happy days all around because i love to support Irish owned businesses! ... although I do see KC Peaches becoming a chain in the not too distant future! But that will be ok too :)

KC Peaches
28/29 Nassau Street
Dublin 2
Tel: (01) 633 6879
Opening Times: Mon-Fri 08:00 - 20:00; Sat 09:00 - 19:00; Sun 09:00 - 18:00

Unit 10A
Trinity Enterprise Centre
Pearse Street Dublin 2
Tel: (01) 677 0333
Opening Times: Mon-Fri 08:00-20:00; Sat 10:00-16:00; Sun 11:00-16:00


September 16, 2011

Eating Allergy Free in West Cork: Glengarriff, Bantry & Castletownbere

If you have food allergies you probably know how much planning is needed to have a smooth trip away from home...research, supplies, planning, suitable accommodation, pre-made snacks, possibly even language skills depending on your location...but sometimes trips can be spontaneous and there is very little time to prepare which can make your break-away a bit more of an adventure than you might want.

F announced with only a couple days notice that he booked four days off and that we were going to go camping somewhere on the West coast, the somewhere yet to be confirmed. So, with one day left before heading out he decided on Glengarriff, west county Cork. F. arranged the trains and buses and camping site while I planned possible lunch options and packed up my camping gear. The trip was not to be hard-core camping, so restaurants were allowed which made it easier or maybe harder, I haven’t decided yet! ;)

My findings:
First, despite Ireland being a small island, I have to comment on far away from Dublin Glengarriff is: a 3 hour train journey followed by a 2.5 hour bus journey and a 2km walk to our campsite with a couple of hours in layovers in Cork and Bantry reminds you just how remote west cork can be, but it’s always worth it! The West is my favourite part of Ireland and west cork is no exception. Everything is so beautiful and the people are so lovely. It’s hard to not imagine that you are in a film as you roam across the rugged landscape or tuck into a cozy pub to hide from a rain shower! ...But with all of this remote wild life comes the downer: eating allergy free is not always a walk in the park... but it was manageable!

Glengarriff is a small fishing village of about 800 people located on Bantry Bay. Although I didn’t indulge in any of the local seafood it is meant to be fresh and tasty and straight from Bantry Bay. The village does a big tourist trade so there is no scarcity of restaurants, hotels and B&B’s. On whole, milk definitely seemed to be a problem ingredient, as per usual, with the irish tendency to slip it into everything and vegetarian options were mildly uninspiring but gluten free diets had a bit more of a presence.

The best bet for coeliac/gluten free diets was definitely The Glen Chinese Restaurant located on the main street. More than half of the menu was marked as coeliac friendly (note: the menu asks you to notify the staff if you require one of the gluten free options) but obviously soy allergies would be a major problem here. Apart from the sauces, there are large pieces of tofu in many dishes. As expected, there are also numerous vegetarian options. The Glen Restaurant also offer takeaway (tel: 027 63947).
The only other place I saw that labelled their menu with a Coeliac/Gluten Free option was The Park Bistro (part of the Glengarriff Park Hotel) which offered the Soup of the Day and the Chicken & Vegetable Stir Fry as Coeliac/Gluten Free. The food looked fabulous and tasted a cut above the rest. However, many of the fried vegetables at The Park Bistro were done in butter but the kitchen was able to accommodate my Dairy Free needs with little hassle albeit a bit of prompting.

I had a hard time staying Dairy Free at the Rainbow restaurant because all of their sauces had some form of milk powder so I would be extra weary here, despite the staff being very helpful. I ended up with a vegetable stir fry which was quite large but uninteresting.

I didn’t get out to the stately Eccles hotel so I can’t advise on the options there.

Our bus had a stop-over in Bantry which is a sizable town of 3,000 people. It is a good place to pick up a few essentials before delving further into the village life of the west.

Briggs Supervalu, located nearby the Bus Eireann stop was a sizable general grocery shop with a small allergy free section carrying popular items such as Dairy Free milks and Gluten Free products, etc. My saving grace for breakfasts was actually a box of Australian made Carman’s Fruit-Free Muesli (also Sugar Free, apart from honey) and a 3 pack of rice milk lunchable sized cartons found in Briggs. I also got some lovely dried figs which tasted great with the jar of cashew nut butter that I threw into my rucksack as I was leaving the house!

The thing about the West is that the opening hours, holidays and general operation of businesses are completely unpredictable. I love this part, and hate it at the same time! It can force you to take life a little bit easier, helping to follow suit, relax and slow down, but it can also cause you to miss out when you are on a time schedule based on buses and public transport!

Also in Bantry was a shop I would have loved to get into called Organico (web: but I didn’t find it immediately and the rest is history. It seems to be an organic vegetable store with health foods, a café and a bakery which specialises in spelt bread.

F and I fell prey to the famous Glengarriff question of: ‘Is there a cash machine here?’ To which the answer is a big fat, but apologetic, 'No'! Our solution (being car-less) was to rent bikes with our last euros (€35 for 2 bikes for one day at The Black Cat) and cycle the coast to Castletownbere.
Bantry was a closer option but we were told that Castletownbere was only 22.5km away. A long enough distance but somewhat do-able. I was encouraged after having read an advert for a health food store at the end of the line and the promising coastline views... Most important to note is that the distance was NOT 22.5km. It was, in fact, 35km!!! (a big difference). There was a WICKED hill leaving Glengarriff which made for a sailing decent at the end of the journey but this cycle (there and back totalling 70km over 6 hours) was definitely not for the weak! At the top of the very last hill I whimpered to F to ask for a break where my legs literally almost gave out from under me!
But what did we find? The beauty of west cork definitely unveiled itself with stunning views and amazing weather but what is more important, there were two health shops in Castletownbere! The population is only about 800 but there definitely seemed to be a good bustling vibe in the town.
The first shop/healthy takeaway Taste Food & Wine Shop (tel: 027 71943) was closed due to holidays (?!) but seemed to have some healthier options inside and offered pre-made takeaway foods such as Hummus and Beetroot Wraps with Harissa paste, salad leaves and sun blush tomatoes or freshly baked Spelt, Apple, Almond & Cinnamon muffins. They seem to sell a lot organic produce with an organic vegetable market on Thursday afternoon. I can’t guarantee allergy-free foods but I would hazard a guess that it’s a good place to try for some.
Also in Castletownbere is Loop de Loop (tel: 027 70770), more of a traditional health food shop. Loop de Loop stocks a great selection of Dairy Free milks, Gluten Free flours, Swedish Glacé Dairy Free and Gluten Free ice creams, a range of cereals, Le pain des fleurs crackersbreads, Dairy Free margarines, tempeh, tofu, a Sugar Free Vegetarian pre-made jelly (Jellivita, sweetened with apple juice) that I hadn't seen before and many other allergy friendly options.
I also noted some cookie mixes by Angel Foods, some of which were Wheat Free, Gluten Free and possibly Dairy Free adaptable. There wasn’t much in the way of Sugar Free sweet foods but Loop de Loop was still a great centre with a small café, juice bar and fair trade gifts.

Needless to say, my legs were aching like CRAZY yesterday after our previous 70km cycle but I was glad for our spontaneous camping trip and I think that everybody should jump at the chance to visit the west coast of Ireland!

September 14, 2011

A Super Easy & Super Healthy Snack: Kale Chips!

I had been hearing about Kale Chips everywhere I went lately and was dying to try my own hand at it despite being somewhat weary of anything made from kale (one of my childhood/adolescent/teenage most hated foods) when much to my surprise I called into my friend S. only to find a big glorious bowl of her first attempt!...the verdict: YUM-TOWN! I couldn’t believe how tasty they were. The kale was there, no doubt, but it was nothing like the horror of my youth! so salty and crispy that I struggled hard, and possibly lost the battle of not devouring the entire bowl myself!

S. assured me that it was one of the most simple things she had made and boy, was she right!

Literally all that needs to be done is:

1. Preheat the oven to 180C
2. Wash and spin dry the kale
3. Toss in the oil of your choice & season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
4. Place on a baking tray & bake in the preheated oven for 15 minutes, tossing them at the 7 minute mark.

My first attempt turned out great except for being a bit heavy on the salt so season lightly! On my most recent attempt I seasoned them with a very light dusting of hot chilli powder, in addition to the sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. I actually think that the seasoning possibilities are endless and I can't wait to try out more flavours!

The only problem that you could possibly have with this super easy and super healthy snack is the necessity to brush your teeth directly after eating because those crispy little flakes get EVERYWHERE!

If you are still unsure about this amazing snack let me try to reassure you:
Kale in addition to being one of the more affordable vegetables, is a form of cabbage and is also known as borecole
This of course makes it sound pretty yuck but after making it into the above chips you can laugh your tummy full in the knowledge that you are filling your body with a total super food which is a great source of:
- Beta Carotene
- Vitamin K
- Vitamin C
- Magnesium
- Kutein
- Zeaxanthin
- Dietary Fibre
- Calcium
- Indole-3-carbinol
- Sulforaphane
- Carotenoids
- Isothiocyanates
- Over 45 different Flavonoids

...and If you want to get on the Kale bandwagon but can't get your hands on the curly green stuff I have found it in Superquinn and Lidl and S. tells me that she found hers in the Temple Bar food market.

September 12, 2011

Free-From-Foods at the RDS Rude Health Show

So I hope that everyone, who could, got out to the RDS Rude Health Show on the weekend. I ventured out on Saturday afternoon and had a really great day! There were SO many stalls and although it was shockingly warm and packed to the brim with people I braced the closeness and managed to make my way around all the stalls at least twice as well as listen to Patrick Holford’s lecture which, although being un-surprisingly heavy on supplements and brand dropping, still had some very interesting and valuable information.

There were so, so, so many gluten free and dairy free foods, not to mention egg free, vegetarian, vegan, raw and even sugar free ones too. Susan Jane White demonstrated how to make raw brownies which were amazingly sweet and tasty as well as being sugar free (seriously lovely!) and everywhere had samples to try, and great deals to be had. The best deal for me was at the Meridian stand which was selling their nut butters 3 for €5.00!

There were loads of familiar brands as well as some new ones. Some were launching new lines or flavours such as Provamel’s new Apple yoghurt and Lemon Balm yoghurt finally coming to Ireland or a whole line of flavoured Manuka Honey. Probably the best way to describe everything is to just show you some pictures from the different food stalls so you can keep you eye out when you are roaming Ireland looking for some tasty free from food!

The Foods of Athenry
The Galway based bakery selling gluten free, dairy free, egg free and sugar free baked goods. Unfortunately the company recently had a fire in the bakery so they are only beginning to start suppling again. Look out for them in and around Galway for now.

Healthy Habits Café & Store
A Café and store selling Wheat Free, Gluten Free, Dairy Free and Vegan foods. I'm SO excited to get down to Wicklow town to review this place!

The Happy Pear
Greystones' Happy Pear were selling all sorts of lovely hummus, bread, snacks and salads.

The Happy Pear Living Foods
The folks at The Happy Pear were also juicing Wheat Grass Juice for free samples. I was really surprised to find that it was actually quite sweet by nature as well as smelling very like a lawn! I also tried a sunflower seed sprout which had a hint of the seed to the taste - quite nice.

Natasha’s Living Foods
The local food fare resident selling a range of raw sweets and snacks

Pukka Ayurveda
Selling herbs, foods and teas as well as launching a new skincare line. Pukka's packaging is famously covetable!

The Soul Food Co.
Caterers and Teachers, offering cooking classes in a range of topics such as 'Low GI', 'Gluten Free', '20 Meals in 20 Minutes' and 'Food For Your Mood'

Seed & Bean Chocolate Co
Sampling a whole range of unusual top quality chocolate flavours from Pumpkin Seeds to Great Taste winning Lavender

And that was a severely condensed taster of the 2011 Rude Health Show!!
Until next time, Happy Hunting!