April 27, 2012

Where to buy Dairy Free & Egg Free Treats This Saturday!!

That's right! It's Worldwide Vegan Bake Sale time! Almost a year has passed and Dublin's Vegans are getting together again to do good for the world through animal free baked goods...which of course means, by default, Home baked Dairy Free, Egg Free, Fish Free sweet treats for sale! ...One might ask what typed of baked sweet treats contain Fish but I did recently see 'Free From' marshmallows which used fish gelatin as it's Allergy Free substitute. I didn't really see the point of this substitute when so many people are allergic to fish and corn (which I mistakingly assumed to be the Free From attribute) so you never know...

Anyway, it's late in the week and in the night so I will get straight down to business...

What:   The Worldwide Vegan Bake Sale
Where: The Exchange Dublin, Exchange St Upper, Temple Bar, Dublin 2
When:  Saturday 28 April (tomorrow!) 12:00 - 15:00
Why:    Dogs Aid animal sanctuary

Read all about last year's bakesale in Dublin here

Read about the Dublin Vegan Bakesale here

Read all about the Worldwide bake sale here

It's probably too late for volunteering now but if you want to try anyay email: bakesale@vegetarian.ie

Hope to see you there!!!

April 24, 2012

Check Your Chicken for Hidden Food Allergens!

As I’m sure every person with food allergies and/or intolerances know, it’s the hidden allergens that make life difficult..it’s the unexpected allergens that cause the problems. Once upon a time in Canada a friend of mine asked me to go out with her for chips (french fries) and then said: ‘Oh wait! Is there milk in potatoes?’ ... of course we heartily laughed at the time at this silly question but what she didn’t know was that she wasn’t too far off the mark with this seemingly ridiculous question. It would be like saying ‘Wait! Is there Milk in Chickens?’ But the truth is God only knows how many added ingredients are included in Macdonald’s french fries and likewise, no matter how much like ordinary chicken it looks like, it’s most likely not just chicken.

After the injecting and soaking and who knows what else, chicken (and ham) become pretty toxic on the unexpected allergen scale. So the purpose of today’s post is to draw your attention to the ingredient lists on processed meats.

 Some brands to beware of are

- Flynns Premium Turkey Breast contain: Milk and Potato
- Tesco’s Finest Irish Butter Roast Turkey obviously contain: Milk
- Any Crumbed Ham is obviously Gluten Containing
- Shaw’s Turkey Breast contain: Milk in the form of lactate
- Glenlough Deli Style Chicken Slices contain: Whey Protein, Dextrose and Sodium Lactate
Glenlough Roast Chicken Breast Slices contain: Milk, Gluten, Wheat and Soya

A safe ham to check out is
- Shaws, un-crumbed Ham which is Dairy Free and Gluten Free.
- The Brady Family Ham (un-crumbed) is both Dairy Free and Gluten Free
- Denny Deli Style Roast Chicken Slices are Dairy Free and Gluten Free but contain: Sugar

 Note: Be especially aware when ordering meat fillings in delis where the ingredients are not readily available and the meat is often (almost always) processed.

Don’t you just hate the crazy things ‘they’ do to food?!

April 20, 2012

Free From Food Awards: And The Winners Were...

That’s right, the Free From Food Awards took place during the week and all the top class winners were announced and from the looks of it everyone had a brilliant time! Unfortunately I wasn’t able to get over to London this week to attend the awards (whimper whimper and woe is me’s!) but I can’t WAIT to try out all of the winning, running up and commended products from the categories that I didn’t get to judge myself!!

 So let’s get right into it.... The overall best in show number one winner in this year’s 2012 Free From Food Awards was none other than

... drum roll please....

  Vegusto Mild Aromatic Dairy-free cheese!!!!
You might remember me gushing about a fabulous nut based cheese after the judging was completed so you can imagine how thrilled I am that this manna from heaven swiped the top prize! -so deserving and I just simply can’t wait to start finding Vegusto in some Irish shops!!

The runner’s up for this very prestigious #1 award were:
- The Gluten Free Kitchen’s Ovencrust Chicken &amp
- Bacon Pie (Winner of the Pies, flans and ready meals category)
- Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free All Purpose Baking Flour (Joint winner of the Ingredients category)
- Anila’s Sauces Goan Green Sauce (Joint winner of the Ingredients category)
- Daas – Ambre Beer (Winner of the Gluten-free Beer category)
- inSpiral’s Raw Dehydrated Kale Chips: Cheesie Purple Corn (Winner of the Raw food category)

...and the Innovation Award went to:
Bessant & Drury Fine Ice Cream Co. for their Lemon Ice Cream.  

The rest of the categories and their marvellous winners are listed below but if you would like to see all the fun award winning pictures, see who the very generous sponsors were and read some of what the judges had to say about the winners please see the links at the following links!

http://www.freefromfoodawards.co.uk/index.html http://www.freefromfoodawards.co.uk/winners-12-


Dairy-Free Animal Milk, Butter, Yogurt:
Woodlands Dairy Gooseberry & Elderflower with Natural Sheep Milk Yoghurt (would love to be able to try this one out!!)  

Plant 'Milk', Spreads & Cheese:
Joint Winners!
CoYo Natural yoghurt (TOTALLY amazingly yum!!!!)
Vegusto Mild Aromatic Dairy-Free Cheese (I think you already know how I feel about this one!)  

FreeFrom Breakfast Cereals:
Sainsbury’s – FreeFrom Oaty Granola  

Gluten-Free Breads and Bread Mixes:
Fria Grova Dark Seeded Sliced Loaf

Gluten-Free Pasta and Pizza Bases/Mixes:
Farabella Acini di Pepe/Pasta Grains  

Freefrom Foods Manufactured for Food Service:
Joint Winners! 
Red House Foods - Gluten Free Chicken Bites
Sauces of Choice - Sauces for Kids Tikka Sauce  

Freefrom Ingredients:
Joint Winners!
Anila’s Sauces Goan Green Sauce
Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free All Purpose Baking Flour  

Raw Foods and Superfoods:
inSpiral Raw Dehydrated Kale Chips: Cheesie Purple Corn  

Savoury Pies, Sausages & Ready Meals:
Meat-based meal centres: Co-operative Truly Irresistible Minted Lamb Burgers

Pies, Flans & Pizzas: 
Gluten Free Kitchen Ovencrust Chicken & Bacon Pie  

Gluten-Free Savoury Biscuits and Snacks:
Joint Winners: Darling Spuds Tomato, Olive & Oregano Juvela Crostini Bites  

Gluten-Free Scones, Sweet Tarts, Bakewells, Muffins, etc:
Joint Winners!
Sugargrain Almond, Apricot and Tahini Flapjack
Sweetcheeks Almondies  

Gluten-Free Cakes and Mixes:
Joint Winners!
Sweetcheeks Maple & Pecan Cupcakes
The Cake Crusader Gluten, Wheat and Dairy Free Carrot Cake   (I saw these guy's van in Dublin! yum yum yuuummm)

Gluten-Free Puddings, Desserts & Cheesecakes:
Food Heaven Sicilian Lemon Cheesecake  

Dairy/Gluten-Free Chocolate and Snack Bars:
Booja Booja Rum Sozzled Sultana Chocolate Truffles (which I personally LOVED!!)  

Dairy/Gluten-Free Christmas Foods:
Foodamentalists Frangipane mince pies  

Gluten-Free Beer:
Daas Ambre Beer  


 ....Now all that’s left to do over here in Ireland is for all of us to start hounding our local suppliers and health food shops to please please please start stocking some of these amazing Food Allergy Friendly products!!! so get out there and get begging! ;)

April 17, 2012

New Allergy Free Finds in Dalkey's Select Stores

Last Saturday I finally took the trip out to Dalkey Select Stores. I’ve been meaning to do it for aaaaages but something always came up which left me wondering just what does go on down in Dalkey in the famous Select Stores?... So last Saturday I was happily educated with the answer! Select Stores is like a Health Food Shop but is more Food than Supplement... And as all we Food Allergic and Food Intolerant know, where there are ‘healthy’, 'alternative' foods there are sure to be Free From Allergy Friendly products to try! Dalkey Select Stores have a juice bar, a salad bar and savouries (courtesy of Blazing Salads), teas, some warm foods and a few tables amid the piled high shelves and massive windows which come together to make a really comfortable and positive ‘wholefood’ feel. Afterwards I was daydreaming about having my morning porridge in Select Stores, looking out into the waking village (the powerful nut filled porridge comes highly recommended by staff!).

What makes Dalkey Select Stores different and worth the trek, is that rather than being a ‘health food store’ they give me the impression of being more of a ‘lifestyle’ store. Sure, they have a few supplements in stock such as Higher Nature and Patrick Holford but they also have a very large Fruit & Veg section. People really gather in and happily chat away while sipping their smoothies (I got the Miller Mix-up Super Smoothie which I’ll tell you about later!) and munching on their salads and savouries.
image courtesy of F.

The shelves are made for browsing and rambling. Every corner contains something new and even though each section is not extensive, ie: I didn’t see Gluten Free Pizza Bases, but I did see a cross reference of Gluten Free and Spelt based pastas such as Doves Spiral Brown Rice pasta, Brown Rice Udon noodles and Spelt Spinach Tagliatelle. Tucked away in one corner were Health related books, another corner housed a healthy stock of Eco cleaners and up the front was a small natural cosmetics section containing brands such as Trilogy, Faith in Nature, Dr. Haushka, Burts Bees, Green People and Weleda. There were food brands and flavours that I'm yet to elsewhere in Dublin yet like Stevia Sugar Substitute sold by the jar and Ecomil Sesame Milk! There was even a little tasting table set out on the day we arrived with cheeses, bread, crackers and chorizo for sampling different oils and pestos. Of course I couldn’t try any but it all added to the overall happy, content vibe.

Top of the Pops was the cake table up front with Gluten Free Foodie and The Gluten Free Bakery goods (many of which are Dairy Free+ and otherwise Food Allergy Friendly). And of course the Smoothie Bar was a big hit too (see the Juice/Smoothies menu. Note: Many of the smoothies contain yoghurt which can easily be omitted but beware before ordering or accepting any taste testers - I had to abandon the taste tester which was offered to us filled with something pineapple and smelling amazing due to yoghurt ingredients. I was recommended to try the Miller Mix-Up Super Smoothie which sounded horrific but was actually quite tasty, albeit very green.

The Miller Mix-up contains:
and Spirulina

Like I said, it doesn’t read well and if it hadn’t been recommended I NEVER would’ve ventured that direction but it was surprisingly better than expected and a massive size for it’s €5 price tag.

I would definitely recommend Dalkey Select Stores to locals, to day-trippers from the city looking for a resting spot and anybody looking for some unlikely or off the beaten track Allergy Free food products that you won’t find everywhere like the Curry Sauce Co. 9 which I’ll review next!), Jarred Clams, Cottage Cookies Ltd and Gertie’s squares/bars all of which I can’t vouch for other than their newness to the market! Obviously Select Stores isn’t bursting at the seems with Free From foods but there is a nice selection and you are bound to find something you haven’t tried yet.

The only downfall I could say, and it’s a very noteworthy, and somewhat serious one, is that the ingredients listings on the muffins and squares at the smoothie counter can’t be trusted. I almost bought the most amazing looking Spelt muffin only to find out that the ingredients taped to the cover were not what was inside... So do remember to ask the staff to confirm the ingredients before purchasing and eating!!! Other than that F. wanted me to mention that the aisles and definitely not buggy/pram-friendly being very narrow and twisty... which we noticed as we sipped our massive smoothies and watched a family of 5 maneuver themselves through the shelves and tables...

Have you been to Dalkey Select Stores? What do you think? What is your favourite smoothie!?

Dalkey Select Stores
1 Railway Road
Dalkey, Co. Dublin
Tel: 01 285 9611
web: www.selectstores.com
opening Times: Mon - Fri 07:30 -18:30; Sat 08:00 - 18:00; Sun 10:00 - 17:00; closed Bank holidays. Juice bar closes 1hour before closing

April 13, 2012

Getting Your Dairy Free Chocoholic Fix

Personally I’m not a chocoholic. I would rather a creamy sweet pastry any day over a bar of plain chocolate but I do understand that chocolate has it’s place and in the Dairy Free and Vegan world chocoholics can find it difficult to get their fix. Alongside the amazing Moo Free pralines (I’m all about the fillings!) I wrote about earlier this week my multiple Easter bunnies also supplied me with a bounty of flavoured dark chocolate bars. Out of the mix there were some definite gems and some average fare. Please note: All of the chocolate bars reviewed here have ‘May contain traces’ warnings for Milk and Gluten at least so depending on your own Food Allergy/Intolerance sensitivities see below for a brief synopsis of each...

Dolfin Chocolat Noir: Oranges Ameres d’Espagne
Dark chocolate with bitter orange. A perfect size for a dark chocolate bar and the packaging really makes you feel like you’re indulging in a little piece of luxury. The flavour was nice and just strong enough without becoming overbearing. Definitely worth picking up. Available in Fallon & Byrne on Exchequer Street. And it's got a goat on the package!! :)

- Dairy Free (note: may contain traces warning)
- Gluten Free (note: may contain traces warning)
- Wheat Free (note: may contain traces of Gluten warning)
- Peanut Free
- Vegetarian
- Vegan (note: may contain traces warnings)
- Egg Free
- Corn Free

Ingredients: Cocoa mass, sugar, orange (5%), cocoa butter, emulsifier: soy lecithin, natural orange flavour, natural vanilla. Cocoa solids - 60%
Allergen Information: Contains Soy. May contain traces of Milk, Tree Nuts, and Gluten

Nutritional Information per 100g:
Energy 152kcal/632Kj
Protein 2g
Carbohydrates 13.56g
of which sugars 12.2g
Fat 9.97g
Fibre 2.89g
Sodium 4.75mg

Dolfin Chocolat Noir: Citron & Gingembre du Sri Lanka
Dark chocolate with lemon and ginger. My favourite of the two Dolfin bars that I received, despite the goat pic. The flavour was perfect and that bit unusual which is always appreciated. I liked this one so much I wished I had saved it for last! Available in Fallon & Byrne on Exchequer Street.

- Dairy Free (note: may contain traces warning)
- Gluten Free (note: may contain traces warning)
- Wheat Free (note: may contain traces of Gluten warning)
- Peanut Free
- Vegetarian
- Vegan (note: may contain traces warnings)
- Egg Free
- Corn Free

Ingredients: Cocoa mass, sugar, lemon (5%), cocoa butter, ginger, emulsifier: soy lecithin, natural vanilla. Cocoa solids - 60%
Allergen Information: Contains Soy. May contain traces of Milk, Tree Nuts, and Gluten

Nutritional Information per 100g:
Energy 149kcal/620Kj
Protein 2.13g
Carbohydrates 13.56g
of which sugars 10.8g
Fat 10g
Fibre 3.36g
Sodium 1.34mg

Butlers Almond & Orange
Dark chocolate. A good standard bar. The flavour was nice and I do love when nuts are included, despite their food allergy un-friendliness, especially with dark chocolate because they can soften the blow from the strength of the cocoa. I wish that I had lingered a bit more over this one, but instead I scoffed it down like I would a milk chocolate bar. Available in Tesco

- Dairy Free (note: may contain traces warning)
- Gluten Free (note: may contain traces warning)
- Wheat Free (note: may contain traces of Gluten warning)
- Vegetarian
- Vegan (note: may contain traces warnings)
- Egg Free

Ingredients: Plain Chocolate (84%) (cocoa mass, sugar, cocoa butter, emulsifier: soy lecithin, flavouring: natural vanilla), roasted almond pieces (6%), candied orange pieces (4.5%) (orange peel, corn syrup, cane sugar, acidifier: citric acid), dried pineapple pieces, orange flavouring. Cocoa solids - 58%
Allergen Information: Contains Soy and Nuts. May contain traces of Milk and Gluten

Nutritional Information per 100g:

Tesco Finest: Swiss Plain Chocolate with Mint
From the horses mouth: Chocolate made from premium grade cocoa beans sourced from South America and Africa. Smooth dark chocolate blended with mint and peppermint extracts producing a refreshing mint and deep cocoa taste. Personally, I found it to be fine. There are a lot of dark chocolate mint flavoured bars and I didn’t find this one to offer anything extra special. It was my least favourite of the lot. I was also surprised that this bar had the least % cocoa solids because it was tasted the strongest by my standards. Available in Tesco

- Dairy Free (note: may contain traces warning)
- Gluten Free (note: may contain traces warning)
- Wheat Free (note: may contain traces of Gluten warning)
- Vegetarian
- Vegan (note: may contain traces warnings)
- Egg Free
- Corn Free

Ingredients: Cocoa mass, sugar, lemon (5%), cocoa butter, ginger, emulsifier: soy lecithin, natural vanilla. Cocoa solids - 55%
Allergen Information: Contains Soy. May contain traces of Milk, Tree Nuts, and Gluten

Nutritional Information per 100g:
Energy 149kcal/620Kj
Protein 2.13g
Carbohydrates 13.56g
of which sugars 10.8g
Fat 10g
Fibre 3.36g
Sodium 1.34mg

April 11, 2012

Moo Free’s Vegan Pralines Rock My World!

I hope you all had a very lovely Easter. Mine was Sugar filled and very hyper. The various Easter bunnies in my life (aka: F. my Mom and my Sister) all brought me a whole range of Dairy Free treats. F. even made Dairy Free, Gluten Free, Refined Sugar Free and Caffeine Free Indian Sweets which were actually the best thing since sliced bread and a true relief after all of the Refined Sugar Filled chocolates and cakes (I hope to get the recipe from him so I can make them again and again and share it with you too!) but on the topic of store bought Dairy Free, Gluten Free, Vegan chocolates I have to say that I was actually blown away by Moo Free’s Dairy Free Chocolate Pralines. It was like Moo Free looked into my Dairy Free soul and asked what it wished for in a chocolate and then served it on a platter. The box was beautiful, the ribbon was perfect and the taste was sublime. If I was to compare them to anything it would hands down be Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups but without the Diary and without the Peanuts and seriously, I ask you, can you imagine anything better?

At €9.50 a box Moo Free’s Chocolate Pralines don’t come cheap but I believe that the Food Restricted world might just be understanding my needs a bit more and for that I’ll fork out €9.50 any day!
P.S. if you’ve never tried Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups then imagine a creamy (faux milk) chocolate exterior filled with a soft golden brown hazelnut and walnut filling resembling a sweetened nut butter similar to the taste of HEAVEN... and I’m not alone on this one because Moo Free’s Vegan Chocolate Pralines have won the Best Vegan Cake or Sweet at the 2011 VegFest awards and the 2011 FreeFrom Innovation Award too!

- Dairy Free
- Gluten Free
- Wheat Free
- Soya Free (note: may contain traces)
- Egg Free
- Peanut Free (note: contains walnut, hazelnut, sunflower)
- Corn free
- Vegan
- Vegetarian

The Easter Bunny spotted these glorious pieces of heaven in the Fruit n' Nut Place in Portlaoise, Co. Laois. i haven't actually spotted them in Dublin myself but my eyes will be peeled for them now!! ...and if you have seen then prey, share!

Chocolate Organic sugar, organic cocoa butter, organic rice powder, organic cocoa mass, emulsifier (sunflower lecithin) & natural flavouring. Contains cocoa solids 42% minimum. Made with fair trade sugar & cocoa.
Praline filling Sugar, hazelnuts (49.5%), walnut oil, emulsifier (sunflower lecithin)

Nutritional information per 100g:
Energy 2370 kj / 569 kcal
Protein 5.2g
Carbohydrates 52.1g
of which sugars 41.4g
Fat 36.9g
of which saturates 14.73g
Fibre 3.8g
Sodium trace

April 4, 2012

When it comes to Food Allergies ‘The Pig’s Tale’ is on the Pig’s Back

During the good weather (which is now like a dream as snow is threatened for the wicklow mountains and hail pelts down on me as I run for my lunch in the city) my father and I took a drive out to Wexford. We took a beautiful walk along the beach in Courtown as the surf was coming in and then went looking for a suitable feeding venue. As chance would have it we randomly decided to drive into Gorey and fell upon ‘The Pigs Tale’. It’s unassuming on the outside and didn’t lead me to believe in any way that they would cater specifically for Food Allergies but we decided to go in anyway, as it was Sunday and looked relatively modern.

Much to my surprise, as I opened my menu, I saw a host of clearly marked Gluten Free options (17 in total, including all 3 of the pork specialities)! And as I scanned the menu I spotted on the last page, a large statement claiming that they cater to Vegetarian, Gluten Free and Dairy Free diets if diners would ‘please inform [their] server if [they] have any dietary requirements’. At this point I knew that I had gotten very lucky.

The Dairy Free options were not marked out but the waiter seemed fully knowledgable and easily directed me to my choices with some customisation. The Vegetarian selection, however was quite slim with a very ‘run of the mill’ selection of one soup, one bruchetta with salad and a pasta dish. I would say that all three of these options might be Vegan adaptable (I would recommend calling ahead to confirm this) but I did feel that it didn't really qualify as ‘catering to Vegetarian diets’ which are quite common place these days.

My father, who is a famous steak eater got the Gluten Free Flame Grilled 10oz Irish Sirloin Steak which is 28 day dry aged and is served with a Flat Mushroom topped with red Onion Marmalade, homemade thick hand cut chips and with a choice of Peppercorn sauce or Garlic Butter and I got the Homemade Garlic & Basil Tempura Fish of the Day served with handcut chips, grilled Lemon customised to be Dairy Free which involved a simple switch from the the Mint Puree which contained Dairy, to a side salad. Both looked great and tasted quite nice in a traditional modern Irish/Mediterranean cuisine style.

The overall Food Allergy Free highlights for me was one, to see that outside of having dedicated Gluten Free options that menu items such as the Cannellini Bean, Tomato & Red Onion Bruchetta and the Mussels, lightly steamed in Garlic & Bacon both had the option of Gluten Free ciabatta instead of just omitting the problem item and leaving a lacking dish. The other highlight was that The Pig’s Tale are dedicated to locally sourced food - All of their suppliers are named on the menu with everything being sourced within Ireland, sometimes as local as fish from Gorey and meat from Enniscorthy.

The downfall, other than the slim Vegetarian pickings, was that the restaurant, which is seemingly new lacked a certain je ne sais quoi, which I feel is often the case with modern Irish interiors and on a Food Allergy level that the lunch menu is not as Free From Friendly with only two salads labelled as Gluten Free. But all in all we had a lovely meal, the staff were completely accepting of our dietary needs and were happily and easily able to direct us to suitable choices and in general, how much more luck can I ask for? - randomly driving into a town and picking a restaurant based on it’s door sign and fall upon an Allergy Friendly environment, completely willing to adapt and cater to our needs?!

The Pig’s Tale
95 Main Street
Co. Wexford
tel: 053 948 4440
web: www.thepigstale.ie
Opening Times: Sun - Thurs: 12:30 - 15:30 & 17:00 - 21:00; Fri - Sat 12:30 - 15:30 & 17:00 - 22:00