Free-from Chocolate Advent Calendar

All my daughters’ friends seem to have chocolate advent calendars. We usually have versions with toys behind each window, but since I really want to make sure they feel just like everyone else, I went on a mission to find a free-from variety.

Moo-Free makes one that looks promising, but since it “may contain traces of nuts” it is not good enough if you have a nut/peanut allergy.

Kinnerton make a true nut, dairy and egg free version but you have to be organised enough to pre-order direct from the company. I just wasn’t that organised this year.

This Celtic Chocolates advent calendar is the one we opted for, and was easily available in Holland & Barrett health food stores. It doesn’t have much allergy info on the pack (it simply says ‘contains soya’) but I’ve spoken to the manufacturer and he explained their zero tolerance policy on any nuts entering the factory. He certainly convinced me that Celtic chocolates are as safe as can be. December 1st tomorrow, and we’re ready to go.

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Pom-Bear Original Crisps now milk-free

Pom-bear crisps seem to be a favourite with children (or maybe just the adults that buy them for the children!) but have always been out of bounds to us as even the original, salted flavour contained milk.

It seems that they’ve changed the recipe (but I’d still check the ingredients on every pack, just to be sure) and the original, salted flavour is now milk-free. Nice one Pom-bears! They may not be the healthiest food but one that often appears at children’s parties and places that welcome children – at least we now have one more option (in our very limited selection) of a snack which we can grab and go…

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Dairy and Nut Free Cocoa Powder – found at last

Tesco’s once again comes up trumps with an allergen free cocoa powder.
I’d been buying cocoa powder in Marks and Spencer as it was the safest I’d found but it is still ‘made in a factory that uses milk’. Now Tesco will be the favoured supermarket (again) for cocoa powder… The only warning on the pack is that they cannot guarantee that the ingredients are nut free (although the recipe contains no nuts), but then again that applies to all products.

Update (Oct 2012): I haven’t been able to find this cocoa powder for a while. The only one available from Tesco’s own brand now seems to be the Everyday Value Fat Reduced Cocoa Powder. Bizarrely, this cocoa has no allergy advice on the container – nothing to suggest it does or does not possibly contain milk or nuts. I was a bit nervous to use it, and even phoned the manufacturers. They have confirmed that it is free from any allergen 🙂

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Spicy Corn Salad

It’s the 4th July and in honour of my American readers I’ve decided to give a Brit’s take on a classic American meal – dairy, egg and nut-free of course. I’ve decided on spicy bean burgers, seedy ‘slaw, baked paprika fries and this zingy, spicy corn salad. This will be follow by apple pies or cheesecake – that important decision has yet to be made! All those recipes will follow, but for now it’s the Spicy Corn Salad – an ideal accompaniment to a BBQ.

Spicy Corn Salad (dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, soya-free, gluten-free, sesame-free, vegetarian and vegan)

serves 4 as a side

  • 2 ears of corn
  • 1 red chilli, finely chopped
  • 2 spring onions, finely sliced
  • small handful of coriander, minced
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp lime juice
  • 1/2 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • salt and pepper, to taste

– Shave the kernels off the ears of corn.

– Preheat the olive oil in a frying pan.

– Add the corn, chilli, spring onions and a large pinch of salt. Saute for 5 or so minutes until the corn is cooked through (you may need to taste a kernel)

– Add the other ingredients (except coriander) and thoroughly mix.

– Pour into a decorative bowl and let cool.

– Once cool check the seasoning and stir in the coriander.

Sainsbury’s, this time you did impress (ice lollies part II)

As I’ve mentioned before, Sainsbury’s is normally a complete nightmare to shop in if you are dairy, egg and nut-free, with a complete lack of (or even non existence of) choice in a lot of areas, notably breads, biscuits, crackers, sweet and savoury snacks.

I have to admit there are a couple of things they do well – most notably the Free From Mint Crisps which are delightful but also incredibly expensive (hence the need for homemade Mint Thins!), but all in all it’s a rather depressing experience to shop there.

However, today to continue my ice lolly research I visited my local large Sainbury’s and I was totally overjoyed about the range of ice lollies available that were dairy and nut free. Sadly out freezer is rather iced up and crammed full so I didn’t buy any, but there was a choice! These were all suitable:

Vegan Marshmallows!

As a vegetarian (non-gelatine eating) it’s been a very, very long time since I’ve eaten a marshmallow. I’ve read about vegan marshmallows, but only today managed to find some (in Fuzzi, Winchester). I have to say that as far as i remember they’re pretty authentic, but it was rather bizarre eating something that is normally so un-veggie friendly!

These are made by Sweet Vegan and contain no gelatine or artificial colours or flavours. They’re made from Fair Trade sugar, water, glucose syrup, carrageenan, cornflour, soy protein, confectioner’s sugar and natural bourbon vanilla flavour. They also do other flavours… may have to place an order!

My girls, who do eat conventional marshmallows were also rather partial to them, so I’d say they’re a pretty good, authentic veggie-friendly version. Expensive yes, but also soft, gooey and very marshmallowy – perfect if you’re a veggie/vegan craving some marshmallow pillowy softness 🙂