Having travel insurance is incredibly important when you are off on an adventure, it’s kind of like your safety net just incase you need medical help while away from home. But just because you have insurance doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be sensible. Here is some sensible brought to you from my friends at insurancewith.com.
5 Precautions To Take With Your Diet Whilst Travelling
Food is inarguably a major part of travelling, with so many delectable dishes to be discovered around the world. With that being said, it’s crucial to consider your diet and what you’re putting into your body. Here are five precautions to take with your diet whilst travelling.
Be cautious when you first arrive
One of the most important things to bear in mind when travelling is that many dishes are very spicy, especially in hotspots throughout South America and Southeast Asia—so much so, that if you chow down on a particularly hot dish as soon as you arrive, you could find yourself falling ill and ruining the rest of your trip.
Be sure to be sensible with your choice of food when you first arrive at your destination, if they’re known for their particularly spicy cuisine. Work your way up, as your stomach may not be as tolerant to the hotter, more daring dishes as you think it is.
Eat from reputable sources
Although following the crowds isn’t always recommended, it’s worth doing so when it comes to finding the right place to eat. Street food, despite being consistently popular with travelers in nearly every hotspot, is a risky choice if you’re unsure of the safety of certain vendors.
With the risk of cross-contamination, it’s important to be extra careful in case an allergy flares up—or, if you suffer from a condition such as coeliac disease, it could worsen your health if you aren’t careful.
Make sure you ask around and find out the best places to grab a bite to eat. It’s not worth gambling on a spot you’re unsure of if it leads to illness further down the line.
Check what ingredients are in your food
If you suffer from an illness that could be affected by what you eat—diabetes, for example—be careful with your choice of cuisine. Make sure you know exactly what is in each dish, and ensure you aren’t consuming anything that’ll cause any illness or allergy to flare up.
Alcohol and drugs can also affect what you eat, so be sure to remain vigilant of your intake. For allergies, if you’re unsure of the ingredients in a certain dish, be sure to ask the vendor or waiter/waitress. If they’re unable to help you, choose an option you’re sure is safe.
Know your limits
Don’t overindulge on food whilst you travel. Sure, you want to try a bit of everything, but going overboard will have a negative effect on your health and leave you with a lot of work to do once you’re home. This is especially true if you’re prone to heart problems or any other serious illness—things such as drinking alcohol should be avoided as outlined by Insurancewith in order to stay healthy on your travels.
Although it’s a holiday and you likely want to make the most of the newly-found cuisine, eating too much is a common issue with travelers, effectively leaving them with an extra souvenir they may not have planned on bringing home.
Broaden your horizons
Of course, self-restraint is important—but be sure to test your tastebuds and broaden your horizons with the weird and wonderful dishes you’re bound to encounter during your travels.
From tarantulas in Cambodia to balut in the Philippines, all the way through to the rocky mountain oysters of the USA, each and every country around the world has a local delicacy that might test the strength of your stomach. However, it’s all part of the experience, so don’t be afraid to dive in.
Over the last 4 years I have been to the Allergy & Free From Show as a visitor, exhibitor and speaker. As an allergic person I am personally interested & invested in the show and rooting for its continued success and expansion. However there is one thing I’ve noticed that many exhibitors forget. They have forgotten the most important thing about their customers: they have severe food allergies and or coeliac disease.
You might think “that’s ridiculous, how can we forget about our target audience?” Well from personal experience, many businesses do.
As an allergy sufferer I know a business is not catering to my demographic (supposedly your target audience) when they cannot confidently tell me what ingredients are included in the food they are serving or the allergen information. Basically they have forgotten one of the most important parts of allergic living, not to mention not following EU rules.
Why The Allergy & Free From Show is Brilliant
For businesses, exhibitions are a brilliant place to interact with your target audience. If free from customers are your audience, the Allergy & Free From Show gather your ideal customers in one place. That’s why you as a business go to exhibitions after all.
You can not only reach potential new customers but also connect and build a stronger relationship with your current customers. You can also do market research. Many allergy parents and allergy sufferers want to tell you about themselves, their allergies and their needs. Most of the time companies will pay huge amounts of money for focus groups. The information you can gather at the show is a bonus!
Just listen to when I interviewed Elizabeth D Bakes, she confirms that as someone with no allergies herself the Allergy & Free From Shows were invaluable for her business to get to know their customers better!
Why You Are Shooting Yourself in the Foot
As someone with a life threatening allergy, when caterers or businesses “umm” and “ahh” about whether there are nuts in the food or a may contain, my automatic answer is “no, thanks” and I move on to the next place. (And this has happened pretty much every year I have visited the show unfortunately.)
The problem for you as a business is, I will tell my other allergy friends and my customers that your business has no idea what you are talking about and don’t bother trying. In that short interaction you have lost 1 customer for sure, and potentially whoever else I talk to…That could be a lot of customers in a day or a weekend.
I acknowledge I may not be your target audience, but if you are a advertising to be allergy friendly in some way, you need to know the facts of your product.
Even if I cannot eat your product, if you know your product ingredients and allergen information, I will thank you! If it’s not safe I would rather you tell me it’s not safe rather than bend the truth and I end up in hospital. (This is what I tell my coaching clients too.)
If you can be honest about what it is and isn’t free from, I would be more likely to recommend you to someone else I know who might enjoy your products even if I’m allergic. That little bit of preparation to know your product and talk to me, your customer, could have gained you customers.
What it All Comes Down To
It all comes down to trust. As I have just said, if an allergy sufferers cannot trust you they will not buy from you. Although you may be targeting the vegan market primarily, which usually has more disposable income to spend than the allergy community, to discount the allergy community completely simply on this point would be wrong.
The allergy community are the most loyal customers.
1️⃣ For one, allergies are often for life.
2️⃣ Second, when we know a product is safe, we will stick with you.
Two Sides to the Story…
Think about your own life. If you or your child likes a certain food, you will probably buy that brand over another when it’s convenient.
On the other hand, if you are dealing with life threatening allergies, if there is only one brand/product that won’t kill you or your child, you will stick with that product. When your friends, family, colleagues or your child’s school ask what they can buy for you thats safe you will say, “product xyz is safe, buy this one, don’t buy others.” Not only that, for allergy kids people will travel for that safe product, which in business terms means super customer which equals £$€.
This allergy customer could have found your product at the Allergy & Free From Show. They also now trust you because you took that little extra time to prepare and then talk to them. Now they are shouting your praises from the rooftops and tell everyone they know to buy your products. So you can see what a knock on effect just simply being clear on the ingredients and allergen information can do.
See how some of my customers reacted to my chocolate truffles >>>
How You Can Prepare Your Business for Exhibiting at the Allergy and Free From Show
- Know the ingredients of your product.
- Know the allergen information and potential cross-contamination.
- Know how each product is manufactured and potential cross-contamination risks (including supplier line).
- If making fresh food at the exhibition, make sure your staff, after they’ve had a snack break or lunch, do not contaminate the food with allergens!
- Train all your staff working at the exhibition on the above 4 points!
- Have an allergen information sheet easily visible for people to look at.
- Take the time to talk to your customers and answer their questions.
- Be honest and truthful!
I will be speaking at the Allergy & Free From London 2018 on Friday 6th July 3pm on Travelling with Allergies and Sunday 8th July at 3pm about Beat Allergy Anxiety and Building Confidence. Come and say hi after one of my talks or if you see me walking around please introduce yourself 🙂
Alternatively, for more information or to work with me please send me an email.
Over the first half of this year I have done an insane amount of travelling for a combination of work, holiday and moving house. So far my travels have had me in Bulgaria, England, United States and the Caribbean with weather ranging from freezing snow, pouring rain and blistering sunshine.
As all you girls will know, packing can be a bit of a nightmare with just a couple different functions to attend, let alone drastic changes in temperatures. So I try to make life a little easier by staying at self catering accommodation because at least then I don’t have to worry about my food allergies as well as the packing.
What are the benefits of self catering accommodation?
You might think that staying at a hotel is easier, which in some cases it is. You don’t need to cook, you don’t need to clean your room or make your bed. However, you do have to eat on the hotel schedule and what the hotel has chosen to cook. I’m not saying staying at hotels is never a good idea, and I do love staying at a nice hotel on occasion, I’m just saying there are benefits to self catering too.
One of the benefits of self catering accommodation, when you have allergies, is that it allows for flexibility. You can choose to go out if you’ve found somewhere safe to eat, but you always have the fall back option of cooking yourself when you want, how you want and what you want.
Having your own kitchen means you have control over the food that you are eating and how it is being prepared. We all know cross-contamination is a huge risk and one of the risks that can be least understood, so cooking yourself reduces this and gives you more control.
8 Allergy Travel Essentials To Pack When Self Catering
I have done the vast majority of my travelling over the last 10 years, a combination of backpacking in India and across Europe, holidays in France, Bulgaria, USA, and now the Caribbean. Not to mention travelling in England since a kid for school trips and family holidays.
When you are on the road you don’t know exactly what you’ll need or when you’ll need it. When you rent self-catering accommodation they range from fully stocked to the bare basics and you never know what you’ll get where.
So, I now have a few everyday items I like to keep with me while I’m travelling. I have found time and time again I have to buy them and often you can only get big bottles or tins of this stuff which is never practical to haul around, not to mention expensive if you keep having to buy brand new ones.
I’ve also found these items will keep you feeling relaxed and add a little home touch to your holiday travels especially when you’ve had a long day of travelling and have just arrived at your destination.
Here is a list of my travel essentials to keep in your luggage when you’re on the road.
1. Salt and pepper
Some holiday rentals have salt and pepper, others don’t. Recently I’ve decided that I’m taking a little salt and pepper with me while I’m travelling so I can always season my food. It just makes food taste a little bit better when you’ve got few options to season. If you don’t have, or don’t want to buy a big bottle, I sometimes take some sachets from a canteen or cafe where I’ve bought a coffee. They’re often found next to the sugar and cutlery.
2. Your favourite seasoning
This is a home comfort for sure. Bring-a-long a little of your favourite herb or spice mix to add to your dishes. If you’re ever feeling home sick, something that smells or tastes like home is bound to make you feel more at home. Not to mention something you know is allergy safe for you.
3. Sugar sachets
Whether it’s for your tea, coffee or to add to your cooking, a few sachets of sugar have proved incredibly useful over my trips. A steaming sweet cup of coffee after a long day of travelling hits the spot, or I add it to the onions so they caramelise. It really brings out more flavour in a dish. If I’ve forgotten to pack sugar, I grab a few extra packets at a cafe where I get a coffee on my travels and pop them in my handbag for later.
4. Zip lock bags
This is a new edition to my travel bag, but I don’t know why I haven’t thought of it sooner. Always have about 10 zip lock bags handy. Perfect for food storage while travelling, keeping out the creepy crawleys in hot countries and also when you’ve forgotten your see-through toiletries bag for airport security. They also don’t take up much space and depending on the quality you buy have less chance of leakage than cling film.
Recently I’ve found them incredibly useful to make and store my airplane food. I was staying at a hotel on Saba island with a long couple days ahead of travelling to get back to England. I didn’t have a kitchen but could make sandwiches. I didn’t want to buy a whole roll of cling film or foil which I’d just leave behind. The zip lock bags were perfect and reusable!
5. Anti-bacterial wipes
You never know when anti-bacterial wipes will come in handy, but you centainly miss them when you don’t have them. You can get little packets of 10 tissues from most pharmacies and supermarkets. Use to clean your hands, wipe down surfaces and airplane seats, or to clean your feet off after walking barefoot – well, you are on holiday.
I sorely miss coffee when it’s not available, and if I’m honest, I’m a bit of a coffee snob. Instant just won’t do. I’ve started carrying a couple sachets of fresh coffee with me for airplane rides and for my morning coffee after a late arrival and all the shops are shut.
7. Allergy Safe Snacks
Always a good idea to have a few snacks. When my boyfriend and I arrived in Anguilla (Caribbean Island) at 5pm having started travelling at 3am that morning we were hungry. We’d also realised that the Island was much more spread out than we’d anticipated. It was too late to go to the car rental office and the supermarket was too far to walk. Thank fully I had packed a lot of high protein food for us to eat during the day (8 sausages and 6 egg omelette, bananas, a box of gluten free crackers, gluten free cookies and some chocolate). We had just enough left by the time we arrived in Anguilla to have a little snack and then collapse into bed.
I can tell you I was incredibly relieved I’d packed that much, no one is very nice when they are tired and hungry.
I also try to top up my stocks when I find a surprise allergy safe snack at a supermarket. Or at least to be aware of where to go to buy the snacks in preparation for departure. Just like when you’re heading out on holiday, you’re going to need snacks on the way back and when you’re not at home it takes a little longer to prepare.
8. (optional) Dairy free milk portions
I put this as optional because I personally haven’t started carrying these yet, but they are a very recent discovery while I was judging the Free From Food Awards the day before I was off on my USA and Caribbean adventure (posts coming soon). This discovery is UHT dairy free milk individual cartons! For anyone with a dairy allergy who can’t have their cup of tea or coffee without milk, this will be brilliant! There’s never a guarantee that you will find suitable milk, so taking a little supply will be so welcome. They’re also small enough to be taken through security! Wahey!!
So these are my allergy travel essentials when you are self catering. Thank you for reading. I hope you find my list useful!
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I’d love to know what you always have in your allergy travel essentials pack. Please leave a comment below and share your tips!
Summer is coming and that means days out in the sunshine! (*fingers crossed*)
Over the last few months many of you in the Eat Allergy Safe Community have been emailing asking how to stay allergy safe this summer. One particular email asked specifically about Liverpool. (It is also around this time I started writing my Travelling with Allergies Guide – published soon!) A couple weeks later I was asked by the lovely people at Groupon whether I would write about things to do in Liverpool, the stars felt like they were aligning!
Liverpool is one of my favourite cities in England so I thought this was a great opportunity to talk about how I go about planning an allergy safe day out and some of the fun things you can do in Liverpool.
So lets get on with…
Part 1: How to Plan an Allergy Safe Day Out
- Research where you are going
Seems obvious, but it really is the first place to start. If you’re going to a new place don’t assume it will be the same as home. Depending on your allergies you may not find safe foods at take aways or restaurants, unless you know where to look!
Doing some research will also give you a feel for the place and give you an idea of not only what foods you want to try but also what sites you want to see. The docks and museums are my favourite place.
- Make a list of all the things you want to do, places you want to see and restaurants you want to eat at
You probably have a limited amount of time so you will want to fit in as much as possible. Making a list will help you decide the places you most want to visit, and also give you a handy quick reference of where you need to do some allergen menu checking.
When you make your list, remember to note down an email address and or telephone number too.
- Call or email ahead
Remember that list you just made and the contact details noted? Set aside 30 minutes to 1 hour to go through the list calling any of the places you think you may want to eat at.
When you call, you are calling for information first. Tell them you are coming on holiday and doing some research on where might be safe to eat with your allergies and can you just ask them about their allergy policy. This is also the time you can tell them about your specific allergy needs and find out whether they could cater for you or not.
If they say no, don’t be disheartened! It is better for them to be honest with you rather than you have a reaction because they lied!!
Read more about how to tell people about your allergies >>
- Have a schedule/itinerary (optional)
If you want to see lots and lots, having an itinerary listing out how to get places, what time to leave/arrive, where to get tickets, where to eat, along with contact numbers, can be incredibly handy! It takes some of the stress out the day because you know what to do when, and most importantly where you can eat! This means you have more time to relax and enjoy your day out on holiday.
- Double check allergen information with manager/caterer
As you do at home, when eating out or buying food, always double and triple check the allergen and ingredients labelling. This might mean reading a product packet or emailing a restaurant, and talking to the restaurant manager and your server when you arrive.
In the EU, all food whether packaged or open must be able to give ingredients and allergy information, and we have the top 14 allergens.
Read more about my allergy travel hacks >>
- Pack safe snacks
Like you do at home, have an allergy safe snack in your bag. You never know if something unexpected will come up (that’s why its unexpected…) so its best to be prepared. I know I don’t think straight nor am I reasonable when I’m hungry, so having something I can nibble on and keep the hunger pangs at bay really does help keep me calm and meet a challenge head on.
Part 2: Things to Do in Liverpool
Now that you know how to plan a day out, here are some recommendations for restaurants and fun things to do in Liverpool!
For dairy and egg allergy sufferers, there are now lots of vegan food offerings all over the city from small cafes to big chain restaurants. Nuts on the whole aren’t used in typical British food, but could be found in the ‘health’ food salads, and of course desserts are still a mine field.
Red’s True BBQ – many of the menu items don’t contain gluten, and none of the mains items contain nuts (as of when I last went).
Trattoria 51 – said to be incredibly allergy friendly with understanding staff (that’s half the battle!) and a gluten and dairy free menu.
Leaf – really good labelling of gluten free, contains nuts and vegan options. The menu looks delicious and I’ve heard some great recommendations!
Nation-wide Chains: Carluccio’s, Pizza Express, Bella Italia all have a gluten free menu and understanding when I say I have a nut allergy. Many have dairy free options too!
Food on the Go
There isn’t a one shop sells everything that is suitable for allergy sufferers unfortunately, not when you are in a hurry. So food on the go is picnic style. My standard way is grab some cold meats, cheese (there are many dairy free options now too), a take away salad or gluten free sandwich and some fruit and thats lunch. I usually have some leftover, so that’s the afternoon’s snack too. Here’s where I shop:
Marks & Spencers supermarket have without a doubt the best food-on-the-go selection! Their aim is the gluten free market however, their sandwiches don’t have nut warnings, nor do most of the cold meat selections. For nut allergy sufferers, items are clearly marked when they are not suitable.
Tesco supermarket is the next on the list of allergy friendly food on the go. Again, primarily targeted at the gluten free market, but they are starting to add in more dairy and egg free options for desserts and savoury crackers.
Places to Visit
Day at Albert Dock & the Museums
The docks are on the water front and you can see the old industrial architecture has been preserve. The buildings are now how to museums such as the Tate, Beetles Museum and the Maritime Museum. You could easily spend a day just on the Albert Dock and a picnic (if the sun’s shining) overlooking the water is wonderful!
Evening at the Theatre
Liverpool is a metropolitan city with a great night life. Part of that night life is the theatres. Many of the big London shows will tour to Liverpool on their way round the country and you have everything from Shakespeare to Pantomime, Ballet to Opera, and comedy!
Things to Do
If you, or your kids, want a bit more adventure on their holiday, you will find something for even the pickiest! Get involved with activities such as paint-balling, bowling, funfairs, trampolining, treasure hunts and open air bus tours. Groupon on always has some fantastic deals for things to do in Liverpool so make sure click on the “Things to do” title above!
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You don’t always have the luxury of the internet or knowing the local language when you’re backpacking, but even though you have food allergies, this shouldn’t stop you from staying safe. Over the years I’ve developed some travel hacks that kept me safe and prepared when I was out of WIFI or had limited food options.
When you are off on adventure you don’t know what you are going to encounter. You’re going to throw yourself into experiencing a country and it’s culture. But a problem is, sometimes you don’t share a common language or a situation arises you are unprepared for. It happens, don’t worry, but what do you do?
When life throws a curve ball, you have to remember you have a bat you just need to figure out what to make it from. My backpacking has taken me across Western and Eastern Europe and South India and I always made sure I felt prepared, but while I was on my travels sometimes situations came up that I hadn’t expected. These included deciding to travel to a place not on the original itinerary, I found that my allergy lingo skills weren’t enough or I had limited cooking facilities.
The key to enjoying your travelling is to face challenges head on and find the travel hack way of doing things. So here are some of mine and the stories that go with them:
➡Learn allergen names at the supermarket.
I started doing this while I was travelling around Europe. I realised that I didn’t know all the different names for the different types of nuts but at that point there wasn’t Europe data roaming, or at least as a poor student I didn’t want to pay the exorbitant prices. I didn’t have a dictionary to hand either, so while I was in the supermarket I went to the aisle with all the packets of nuts and I started writing down all the names. I have to thank my Mum for this because she made sure I could recognise all the different nuts I was allergic to in their various forms by taking me to the nut aisle on our family food shops and if she was eating nuts around me, she’d make sure I’d know what they were.
➡Boil eggs in a kettle.
While I was backpacking in India, my friends and I spent our first few weeks teaching in a school for underprivileged children. We were staying on site at the school but there were no cooking facilities. There were a few restaurants around and market stands around but it wasn’t that accessible and on Sundays many weren’t open. So along with buying raw fruit and vegetables that wouldn’t go off overnight in the heat we would also buy eggs and boil them in the kettle that came with the apartment.
➡Have a (portable) cooker if you’re in rural area.
Now living on eggs and fruit and vegetables wasn’t sustainable long term for my friends and I while we were in South India, so we asked the school to get a gas cooker so we could cook. With some persuasion and our monetary contribution the school bought a small outdoor gas cooker and provided some pots, pans, utensils and crockery for us to use. The lesson is, sometimes you just have to ask for the stuff you need to live rather than suffering in silence.
➡If you’re having trouble asking about allergens, ask general questions first then specific ones after.
Depending the country you’re visiting you may need to change the way you ask for information. This may be down to language barrier or they try to tell you what you they think you want to hear rather than telling you the plain facts. In both these cases I find the best way is to ask really general questions so that you can then deduce information and then confirm with a specific followup question.
I made use of this tactic in India, partly because people would want to tell me what they thought I wanted, because sometimes they just didn’t understand what a nut allergy was, and saving face is important in Indian culture.
So when I asked general questions in search of general information, they would be like this:
“What’s this [pointing at food/menu item] made of?”
“What oil do you use?”
“How do you make this dish?”
I’ve found general questions aren’t perceived to need a certain answer and therefore people answer more truthfully because there isn’t a wrong answer.
Then I would follow up with more specific questions related to my allergy and at this point I may or may not introduce the fact I have a nut allergy. These specific questions would include examples like:
“Do you use peanut oil?”
“Do you put cashews in this dish?”
“Do you sprinkle with ground peanuts?”
I get a variety of responses ranging from confident they know what they’re saying to just saying it because they think so. Then the next stage is to say…
“I ask because I am deathly allergic to nuts. So I cannot have peanuts, almonds, cashew, pistachios, hazelnuts, all of them. I have to go to hospital if I have any, even the smallest amount.”
Next, the waiter will usually go talk to the manager or say that they will go check with the kitchen just to be sure. When I order food I also ask that my allergy be written on with my order so that chef knows to be extra careful.
My friends will often ask me questions checking I have my medication, confirm they stab me in the leg if I have a reaction and ask when I would know, in front of the waiter. This is especially helpful if the waiter or person is one of those who is not taking me seriously, it just provides a bit extra support and weight to what I am saying. (It also shows you who your real friends are!)
Want to read more about my backpacking tips? I wrote a quick guide to backpacking over on AllergyTravels.com with what you need to prepare and how I stayed safe traveling around Europe.
My next post for Allergy Awareness Week 2018 is especially for allergy teens. Having allergies as a teen can suck but I say it could be the best thing that ever happened to you! Find out everything in tomorrows post and to make sure you don’t miss it, get it straight to your inbox by signing up to my newsletter (on the sidebar to the right).
Liked this post, have a read of my other Allergy Awareness Week 2018 posts:
#1 – What Allergies are NOT
#2 – How to Build Confidence in Your Allergy Kid
Not only was I exhibiting at the Allergy & Free From Show 2017, I also love seeing what it is new in the world of free from food and the Allergy Show is the perfect place to do this.
I’m really excited by some of these companies products! Not only were they delicious but many are started by people who get it. So with out further ado, here is the round up of my favourite products from the show!
The Saucy Affair Raw Sauce Co
The Saucy Affair Raw Sauce Co puts the sass back into the evening. Whether you’re a busy mum, the nonplussed cook, or wanting to serve up a saucy dinner date, you want to know about this company and their saucy sauces.
Run by a lady in a long black evening gown and a masquerade mask, as soon as you approached this stand, you got the feeling there was something special here.
As a foodie, I love to try new flavours. I get irrationally excited about bright colours and exotic smells. I tried every single flavour multiple times (there were 6) and I didn’t get bored.
I personally don’t like using pre-made sauces, most of the time they’re fine hot but rubbish cold or if you eat too much they leave a funny taste in your mouth. Not the case with these sauces. They tasted fresh! I had to admit, I was surprised. What surprised me even more was the ingredients list, fresh fruit and vegetables were used! Barely a tomato in sight AND extra virgin olive oil was on the list!
I could go on, and I will, but I’m saving my full review for a post of its own. Watch this space for a full post and my throw it together dinners featuring these sauces!
I love the name of this company: Forced to be Fussy. I think it sums up what it’s like to have food allergies, intolerances and dietary restrictions. Forced to be Fussy is run by Jenna, a lady with multiple intolerances such as gluten, barley, various nuts, crustaceans and more. She has started a company making allergy friendly baked treats. Gemma was kind enough to ply me with a slice of lemon loaf, a huge chunk of sticky chocolate brownie and a slice of rocky road. For me this was exciting because being allergic to peanuts and tree nuts, and intolerant to gluten and dairy, even at an allergy show there was not much I could eat. But I could eat these!!
Here’s what I and my chief taste tester (a.k.a the boyfriend) thought of these treats:
Chocolate Brownie: My favourite treat out of the three. I devoured this as I was waiting for a train and had barely eaten all day Sunday during the show. It definitely hit the spot. More of a sticky cake brownie and I liked it! There was a fudgy chocolate topping and I was happy to taste that it wasn’t too sweet. I wouldn’t object to an even richer chocolate flavour but that’s my chocoholic preference.
Rocky Road: Great textures! I loved the crunch of the biscuity things, the squidgy marsh mallow and glace cherry textures, they worked really well together. For me I’d prefer a less sweet version, perhaps using a darker chocolate made with xylitol to counteract the sweetness of the marshmallows and glace cherries. Ideal for kids or adults with a sweet tooth.
Lemon Cake: This was tested by my chief taste tester the Monday after the show. It had sat in my bag for almost a day. Sorry Jenna, not presenting your work at its best. However initial thoughts were it felt like it might be stale, but… it didn’t taste like it! Still had a good cake texture. Had a lovely light lemony flavour. It tasted more lemon than it smelt. Chief taste tester gave his approval!
Leggero was suggested to me by Vicki Montague (The Free From Fairy) on Sunday of the show while I was trying to find something to eat. She said they had a great allergy friendly focaccia bread, and oh boy did they?!
They had some samples out of the roasted mediterranean vegetable focaccia and I was sold on that first bite! Vicki said it would be good but I wasn’t expecting it to be that good.
The vegetables were sweet and fresh, the bread itself was spongy and moist, delicious! It was also free from gluten, wheat, nuts, peanuts, eggs and dairy and other allergens too! To show my appreciation I voted with my money and bought one of their huge slices immediately, and at £3 I thought it incredibly reasonable.
It was only after I bought a slice I found out they were a restaurant! A gluten free Italian one at that too. I had a quick chat to one of the guys working the stand and he gave me their business card, which came in a really pretty oyster card holder. It was while I was on the train that I realised what a perfect idea this was. I had been meaning to buy a new holder for my oyster card (which used to be held together with sellotape, but had split ages ago). The Leggero business card is still in the holder with my oyster card to remind me to go have a meal there next time I’m in London!
I think this lady is actually a fairy. She has created a flour blend that I seriously think is the best on the market. So far it is better all round flour than all the big brands I’ve tried. Vicki Montague, a.k.a The Free From Fairy, has developed a gluten free, rice free wholegrain flour blend that you can use for anything and everything. Cakes, biscuits, breads, and pastry! For anyone who has struggled with gluten free baking (and also needs egg, dairy and nut free bakes too) then you need to get your hands on this flour! She sells directly from her website and until the end of July has a give away of a FREE supply of flour for 6 months! Click here to enter! (I mean it, click here now!)
Functional Foods Company is run by Alessandra Bester who is out to combine allergy safe and superfoods. She is an inspirational lady who has developed this delicious treats through helping her autistic son eat again. At the show she sampling her delicious citrus truffles. They were absolutely delicious. She gave me a little box to share with my Mum containing all the new treats. I have to say they were bursting with flavour! From citrus to rose flavours, it was summer and spring in a box! I am not usually a fan of rose flavour either but I was pleasantly surprised by this one. Alessandra is also an incredibly motivated and warm person, I can’t wait to see how her company develops over the next year!
Plamil Foods So Free Chocolate is the new branding of Plamil chocolate. I have been a fan of Plamil for the last 7 years when I discovered that they made chocolate in a nut free factory. Their past chocolate bars were ok, but often had a powdery texture. I still enjoyed them and bought them but I have to say, they have really up-ed their game with the new So Free bars! They have fixed the texture problem, the chocolate is now incredibly smooth and a pleasure to experience the melting on your tongue, the flavours are brighter and it is just like eating one of the big brand chocolate bars like Lindt. I also love their new branding. It is adding a sexiness to allergy friendly chocolate that I haven’t seen in the allergy niche before. Well done Plamil!!
Newburn Bakehouse, the free from arm of Warburtons, have been really innovating when it comes to their free from product selection. I was given a packet of their gluten free crumpets to try. When I was eating wheat and gluten, I wasn’t big fan of crumpets. I always thought they tasted a bit weird. The only way I would eat them was if they were very toasted. As such my expectations for free from crumpets were kind of low. On the Saturday of the show I was so hungry that I just needed a quick snack, the only thing I had available were these crumpets, so I thought, I’ll just eat one of these for now. I was quite surprised I liked them. I like them better than wheat flour crumpets! Pleasant spongey texture, mild flavour, reminded me of a think kind of pancake texture. I enjoyed them so much I had them toasted with me breakfast the next morning.
I am impressed by Genius. I like their bread and think it is some of the consistently better textured bread that has been on the supermarket shelves over the last few years. I interviewed Genius founder Lucinda Bruce-Gardyne on the podcast a few months. Hearing the story of Genius makes you realise that even though it’s one of the bigger companies it still has a similar story. For Lucinda her sons are her inspiration. When she found out her youngest was extremely intolerant to gluten, she got in the kitchen and started experimenting.
I didn’t get to try as much as I wanted of their new products, but what impressed me is that Lucinda’s staff understood cross contamination risks. They knew about the allergens on their stand, unlike some others I had visited. I was offered some of their blueberry muffin to try. So as a good allergy kid, I asked about whether they had nuts in or not and if they had been cut in the same place as the nut containing biscuits being sampled. I was very pleased that immediately I was told, no. The biscuits were cut up at the front in their own special area and the muffins where chopped in the back kitchen with separate knives and boards. No hesitation, and this made me feel a lot better, both about the company and about trying the product. The blueberry muffin was also very yummy, light texture and not too sweet.