Heavenly Free From Foods

Isn’t social media amazing? A few months ago a fellow local coeliac mentioned on Instagram that there was a market stall in our local indoor market which specialised in free from foods. I’ll be honest; I don’t think I’d been into the market since I was a young child and my Nana took me to a greasy spoon cafe there! I’d almost forgotten the market was even there. So during my next trip to Hanley I popped in, and Heavenly Free From Foods is now my first stop of any visit and sometimes has justified a visit specifically to go there! So, what makes this place so amazing?

Heavenly Free From Foods

Heavenly Free From Foods

The variety

When I was first diagnosed with coeliac disease in 2009, many stores didn’t have specific free from foods as it was still an unusual thing to be looking for. My local supermarket at the time had a shelf with some gluten free bread and crackers. Fast forward almost eight years and most supermarkets have half an aisle dedicated to a variety of different free from products and even local convenience stores often have a bay of free from items. Heavenly Free From Foods takes it to a whole new level again though; a store full of free from items! The range is incredibly varied; from flours and baking goods, to pastas and ready meals, frozen foods, cupboard staples and snacks. Product ranges cover a variety of different dietary needs too, including a wide selection of vegetarian and vegan items. So many great brands are sold here; including some you can usually only buy online (Free From Fairy flour is stocked here for example!). We’ve been introduced to loads of new great foods thanks to Heavenly Free From Foods, and are trying more almost every time we go!

As a ‘free from’ store, obviously not everything stocked is gluten free, though most products are clearly labelled and the owner is incredibly knowledgeable about the products he stocks so you can just ask if you’re not sure.

The prices

Any coeliac knows a usual ‘free from’ shop is more expensive than a regular shop and it’s understandable that there is a premium due to the sourcing of ingredients and production processes. The prices at Heavenly Free From Foods reflect this of course, though the prices are comparable to supermarkets despite the fact many of the items are specialist. I know I’d far rather my money go to a local independent store than a supermarket. There are frequently offers on things too; especially items that are close to their best before date (which to be honest I usually don’t pay too much attention too for cupboard items!).

The owner

Saving the best until last! As soon as I stepped into Heavenly Free From Foods I was made to feel so welcome by the owner, Paul. He’s incredibly helpful, and he really knows his stuff when it comes to free from products (we do differ on our views of some products but I accept we all have different tastes!). He’s also just an all round great guy who loves chatting to people who visit the shop, and taking on board their suggestions for new products. I’m pleased to now call him a friend – which considering I only went to the market about 3 months ago is really saying something! Over the summer holidays his daughted is giving him a helping hand too – he was much happier about having a photo taken when she promised to be in it too! 🙂

Where is it?

Hopefully now I’ve introduced you to this great store you want to pay a visit yourself. Heavenly Free From Foods is currently in Hanley Indoor Market but will soon be moving to Merrial St in Newcastle-under-Lyme (which fortunately for me but unfortunately for my bank balance is in walking distance from our home and just a few minutes away from my gym!). If you’re in the area and looking for some interesting free from products, I highly recommend paying a visit. For more information check out the Heavenly Free From Foods Facebook page.

Whilst you’re in the area, do check out some of the other local places we love – my husband Chris recently made a list of some of the local free from offerings we enjoy – see Newcastle-under-Lyme Free From Survival Guide.



Daura Damm – Gluten free beer

As a coeliac, there are quite a few foods and drinks that you have to avoid. People often comment on how much you must miss bread, pizza, cake, biscuits etc. In actual fact it’s fairly easy now (in the UK at least) to get gluten free alternatives to most of these things. One thing that hasn’t been so easy to find until the last couple of years is gluten free beer. I remember going to a Coeliac UK local meeting when I was newly diagnosed and there was a gentleman there who loved beer and most of his social life revolved around beer festivals and CAMRA (Campaign for Real Ale) visits. This poor man had not just received a diagnosis of a lifelong autoimmune disease, he’d also had his social life completely changed. Of course he can still go along to these events, but he won’t be able to have any beer. Fortunately, things have changed in the last few years and I’ve seen more gluten free beer both in supermarkets and in pubs/bars.

I don’t tend to drink alcohol, and when I do I drink fruity ciders or spirits and mixers, but I have been intrigued about gluten free beer as its been years since I tried beer. A few months ago I was contacted by Daura Damm who kindly sent me some samples of their award winning beer to try.

I have to be honest, I discovered I still don’t like beer, but then I wasn’t a fan before so I’m not too surprised. I did find that this tasted much like I remember regular beer to taste like. I gave some samples to family members and friends who do drink beer, and the reviews were pretty good. Most said it tasted just like other regular bottled beers and that they wouldn’t have known it was gluten free if they hadn’t been told. One person absolutely loved it! One person wasn’t a huge fan but then they’re quite fussy about their beer and prefer real ale to bottled beers. Overall, people seemed to like them, and for those who have to follow a gluten free diet but enjoy the taste of beer they seem perfect.

Since trying these I’ve spotted Daura Damm in more and more places so it seems to be becoming much more widely available. As we’re coming into the Christmas season, these would be great to have if you have gluten free guests who like beer joining you. Although I personally don’t like beer, I know many people who do and it’s great that coeliacs and others following gluten free diet can now have an occasional beer if they wish to.

Daura Damm is available from many supermarkets – you’ll usually find it in the free from section rather than the beer section (though this isn’t always the case!).

Gluten Free Favourites – August 2016

August has been a lovely month – my first month of self-employment! This has also coincided with some lovely weather every now and again so I’ve spent some time working (and relaxing!) in the garden, and we’ve had a couple of nice days out too. Food wise we’ve been having quite a lot of great Simply Cook meals, some Tyga curries, and I’ve been experimenting with some of the goodies I got from the Morrisons Free From event 🙂

August 2016 GF favourites.jpeg

Gluten free favourites – August 2016

Gosh! Chickpea, Courgette and Moroccan Spiced Bakes topped with Harissa Peppers – I hadn’t come across this brand until the free from event I went to as Morrisons HQ, and I’m so glad I have now. These are vegan and free of all 14 main allergens, and really tasty, especially the harissa spiced ones. You can get these from some Tesco stores and I believe they are coming to other stores soon (there’s a handy store locator on their website).

Tesco Free From Strawberry and Vanilla Cones – these are just fabulous. We’ve had them before and enjoyed them, but it wasn’t until we tried a competitor’s product that we appreciated just how good these are. The ice cream is lovely and creamy (despite being dairy free!) and the cone stays crisp. They get the thumbs up from everyone, well apart from fussy brothers who complain about the bottom having unexpected strawberry syrup as well as chocolate.

Twice as Nice Bakery Teff Cookies – these are sort of secret as they’re a new product, but they’re so fantastic that I just had to share in my monthly favourites. I’ll be honest, I had to ask Laura at Twice as Nice what teff was and why it’s so great, but once I’d tried the cookie I was sold. So much so I bought another to take home for my partner to try (I’m the greatest girlfriend ever). He agreed; they’re awesome. The flavour is great, but it’s more the texture that surprised me. They hold together really well, but still have that wondrous cookie-ness to them. They’re also vegan but you wouldn’t know it. Fabulous! I didn’t get a photo but Sarah Leanne at Growing Butterfly (who was the inspiration behind the cookies!) posted one on Instagram.

Barnacles Chip Shop – when you’ve had a lovely day in the sunshine and you’re by the seaside there’s nothing better than fish and chips on the seafront. Normally this would be a no no for coeliacs, but fortunately more and more chip shops are offering gluten free options. Barnacles in Llandudno has been offering it for a while and there is such a great selection. I’ll be writing a blog post soon but in the meantime I wanted to mention it in my favourites as the fish, chips and curry sauce I had were amazing.

Genius gluten free pancakes – these were given to me at the Morrisons free from event and to be honest I wasn’t that excited, but they’re brilliant. I simply toasted them for a few minutes and then spread Nutella on them. Such a nice weekend breakfast. It may have been the GBBO effect but they reminded me of jaffa cakes – just needed some marmalade and I would have been sorted!

Veggie enchiladas – I’ve been experimenting with some Newburn Bakehouse products I was sent to try and made some veggie enchiladas with the seeded wraps. I filled them with mixed pepper rice, refried beans, chilli powder and spring onions, and cooked them in salsa, yoghurt and cheese. Really easy to make but filling and delicious!

What have you been loving in August? Any recommendations? 

If you’d like to receive updates from Gluten Free Joeyanne please follow the blog by email or RSS (links on the right hand side) or you can like Gluten Free Joeyanne on Facebook for links to blog posts as well as more regular updates, or Gluten Free Joeyanne on Instagram for photos of gluten free products and meals.

Free From at Morrisons: a review of my visit to Morrisons HQ

I was recently invited to attend an event for free from bloggers at Morrisons HQ in Bradford. It’s the first event I’ve been able to attend and despite the nerves, I was really looking forward to it. I wasn’t sure what to expect (all I knew was that it was a free from event at Morrisons HQ!) but had been assured that we’d be given lunch and would be asked for some feedback on free from foods. I can’t describe how strange it is as a coeliac to be able to go out somewhere knowing that you’re going to be able to eat safely and don’t need to carry lots of snacks and have plans of various places you can grab food from in an emergency! After a slight issue with taxis, myself and some other bloggers made it to Hilmore House, the home of Morrisons HQ.

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We were welcomed by Stefanie Downey, the free from buyer for Morrisons. She explained her role and how important it is for her to get customer feedback on current and potential future free from products in Morrisons. We were introduced to some new products which will be launching in a few weeks I believe (more when they’re launched – I really hope they make it to my local store!), and shown how Morrisons decide which free from products to stock and how they should appear in store.

The Morrisons staff were all keen to hear from us so after some interesting discussion, we were taken to the development kitchen for Christmas dinner. Yes, Christmas dinner. In August. The head chef pointed out that by this time of year he’s actually pretty much finished Christmas as all the products have been developed, tested, refined, and are now ready to be produced and packaged and put in stores. For our Christmas dinner we had prawn cocktail (with the sauce being made using free from tomato sauce and free from mayo), traditional roast dinner with turkey and lamb with a peppercorn crust (with gluten free stuffing and Yorkshire puddings), and Christmas pudding with soya cream. We were also given a sample menu which had other options including salted caramel profiteroles (much more to my taste than Christmas pudding so will definitely be looking out for these!). Morrisons have other free from Christmas products planned too, including Christmas spiced cookies which were delicious.

After lunch we had some samples of other foods, including those from free from suppliers such as Genius, Schär, Heck, Gosh, Perk!er, and Alpro (more to come on some of these brands!). I also got to do a 90 second plank to enter a competition! Genius shared some of the difficulties they experience baking gluten free, and had some of the flours and thickeners they use and got us to try them out to see how they respond to being mixed with water. They showed us some really interesting photos of what happens if you use just one of the gluten free flours in place of regular flour, which was fascinating to see! It certainly explains why sometimes you get very dense gluten free bread and sometimes you get one with massive holes in! Genius use a mix of flours to try to make the most of each of the properties, but also explained that this does mean the mixes can sometimes be inconsistent depending on the time of year and the crop. It certainly opened my eyes to another reason why gluten free food can be so much more expensive – not only are the ingredients more expensive and potentially more difficult to source, but there is also more wastage due to inconsistencies. I always really enjoy chatting to free from suppliers about their products, and the people behind the brand.

Genius gluten free bread workshop

Genius gluten free bread workshop

All in all it was a really excellent day. I enjoyed meeting other coeliacs and free from bloggers, learned a lot about how free from products make it to supermarket shelves, ate some yummy food, and was even given some samples to take home. Huge thanks to Morrisons and the other suppliers for being part of a really enjoyable day 🙂

If you’d like to receive updates from Gluten Free Joeyanne please follow the blog by email or RSS (links on the right hand side) or you can like Gluten Free Joeyanne on Facebook for links to blog posts as well as more regular updates, or Gluten Free Joeyanne on Instagram for photos of gluten free products and meals.

Gluten Free Favourites – July 2016

According to my photos from the last month, July involved a lot of eating out! I had some conferences and work events, as well as a few lunchtime and evening meals out to celebrate (I left my job at the end of July and am now freelancing). Here’s a selection of the things I’ve loved in July…

Gluten free favourites - July 2016

Gluten free favourites – July 2016

Leon – I can’t believe Leon hasn’t featured in my monthly favourites yet; I adore Leon! For those who don’t know, Leon is a growing chain of fast food restaurants offering ‘healthier’ choices. Most are in London, but they are expanding and there is one in Birmingham New Street station. The allergens are clearly marked on the menu and many of the options are gluten free. I usually have a rice box with brown rice, coleslaw, plus whatever main choice I fancy. During July I visited Leon three times (twice in London, once in Birmingham), and had the sweet potato falafel, and Sicilian chicken meatballs – these were amazing so I had them twice! Leon also have gluten free cakes (from Honeybuns) – the lemon ginger crunch is really good.

Gluten Free Pizza at Amalfi White – we visited friends who live in Melbourne (the one near Derby, UK, not the one in Australia) in July, and went for a meal at Amalfi White. They have a gluten free menu with quite a lot of variety, and staff are very knowledgeable. I chose the Italiano wood fired pizza which was quite honestly one of the most amazing topping combinations I’ve ever had – it had chicken, pancetta, bolognese, goat’s cheese, red chilli, and basil pesto. It sounds like far too much for one pizza but it’s so good. I did have to take half of it home as it was massive but it really was amazing!

Cheshire Farm Ice Cream – I went to a food festival in July and although I wasn’t expecting there to be a lot of gluten free food, I was disappointed at how little there was I could try. One highlight however was Cheshire Farm Ice Cream who had a van with loads of different flavoured ice creams, many of which were gluten free. The staff were really clued up and had a full list of allergens, and were very aware of cross contamination issues too. I was able to have my ice cream in a tub rather than a cone (though apparently they do provide gluten free cones at their farm!). I chose one scoop of honeycomb ice cream and one scoop of sticky toffee pudding ice cream (which I was amazed was gluten free!). The sticky toffee pudding was quite possible the best ice cream I have ever tasted. I’ll definitely be seeking this out again!

Harissa-Spiced Chicken Burger – the last few times we’ve eaten at Cappello Lounge my partner has had the Harissa-Spiced Chicken Burger so not wanting to copy, I’ve tried other things. The most recent time we visited however I took the plunge and chose to go for the gluten free version of the Harissa-Spiced Chicken Burger. I’ve been missing out! The chicken was really succulent and the flavours amazing – it has red pepper mayo and pimento soft cheese and is just lovely. I adore the fries there too so all in all an excellent meal! I’ve previously reviewed Cappello Lounge and would highly recommend the Loungers chain for gluten free.

What have you been loving in July? Any recommendations? 

If you’d like to receive updates from Gluten Free Joeyanne please follow the blog by email or RSS (links on the right hand side) or you can like Gluten Free Joeyanne on Facebook for links to blog posts as well as more regular updates, or Gluten Free Joeyanne on Instagram for photos of gluten free products and meals.

Gluten Free Favourites – June 2016

Summer is always a fairly travel-heavy time of year for me as it’s conference season, and this year has been no exception. In June I headed to Philadelphia for the Special Library Association Conference (where I gave a talk on my leadership journey over afternoon tea – all terribly British!). I’ve also been to a conference in one of my favourite UK cities; Manchester. Both of those have influenced my favourites for the month!

Gluten Free Favourites - June 2016

Gluten Free Favourites – June 2016

Hershey Special Dark Chocolate – I’m not generally a fan of US chocolate, but whilst I was there I went on a post-conference trip to Hershey and did a chocolate taste test. It took a bit of quick detective work whilst I was there but fortunately all the ones we tried were gluten free. I was pleasantly surprised that I actually really liked the Hershey Special Dark Chocolate. It’s not as bitter as dark chocolate I’ve had before, and is lovely and smooth (whereas the Hershey milk chocolate I really don’t like!). You only need a tiny piece or two to satisfy a chocolate craving. I’m not sure if we get these Hershey bars over here but I’ll certainly look out for them in future.

Sahale Nuts – another find from the US, this time something I stumbled upon in a convenience store across the street from my hotel. I was looking for gluten free snacks I could carry with me and found these snack sized packs of nuts. I tried the Pomegranate Vanilla Flavoured Cashews first and absolutely loved them, and on my next visit I picked up the same again and the Honey Almond Glazed Mix. I liked them both but the Pomegranate Vanilla Flavoured Cashews are my favourite. Sahale are sadly tricky to find in the UK but I’m hoping to see if any other brands have similar products. Do you have any recommendations of snack sized packs of flavoured nuts?

Dough Pizza Kitchen – If you’re ever visiting Manchester (UK) you have to go to Dough. Even if you’re not gluten free you should, but it’s brilliant for coeliacs (and those who are dairy free too). Dough is an independent Italian restaurant serving pizza (surprise!), pasta, gnocchi, and more. I went out for dinner there when I arrived for my conference, and had Sweet Potato Bites to start, Gnocchi for main, and Chocolate Brownie Sundae for dessert (which was massive – I couldn’t manage it all!). I’ve had the gluten free pizza from there before which is also excellent. Highly recommend visiting Dough.

Simply Cook – We’ve been cooking from scratch a bit more this month, but with my travel schedule it’s quite tricky to plan to always have the right ingredients in without them going out of date! Simply Cook makes this so easy – you only need a few key ingredients for each meal as the spices/pastes/mixes etc. are provided for you. The meals are always quick to cook (usually around 20-30 minutes), and we’ve loved every one we’ve tried so far. We currently have a monthly gluten free subscription, but have also recommended it to family and friends who don’t need the gluten free options. It really does deserve its own blog post but in the meantime if you’d like to try Simply Cook, you can use this referral link to get your first box for £1.

Delicious Alchemy Rice Flake Porridge – As much as I love yoghurt and granola, occasionally I like to have something different for breakfast. Just recently I’ve been really enjoying the Delicious Alchemy Rice Flake Porridge (made with either rice milk or almond milk) with some jam. Our local supermarket has loads of mini individual serving size jars of jam so I’ve been trying all the different flavours; my favourite so far is cherries and berries. The rice flake porridge is a great gluten free alternative to porridge and with a fruity jam it satisfies my sweet cravings.

What have you been loving in June? Any recommendations? 

If you’d like to receive updates from Gluten Free Joeyanne please follow the blog by email or RSS (links on the right hand side) or you can like Gluten Free Joeyanne on Facebook for links to blog posts as well as more regular updates, or Gluten Free Joeyanne on Instagram for photos of gluten free products and meals.

Delicious Alchemy Gluten Free Granola

If you’ve read my previous blog posts you’ll know how much of a fan I am of Delicious Alchemy. Every product I’ve tried from their range has been fantastic in terms of being easy to make and tasting delicious, and not just for me but for non-coeliacs too (see my birthday cake which I featured in my May favourites for example). I’ve always been really impressed with their communication too; their social media channels are brilliant and I highly recommend following them on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.

I was delighted when they emailed last month to let me know they were releasing a new product, and even more delighted to learn it was granola! I have yoghurt and granola most mornings for breakfast and have tried many gluten free granolas (with mixed success!) so was really looking forward to trying the Delicious Alchemy version. They kindly sent me a sample of the Wonderfully Nutty Granola to review (it was sent free of charge but this does not in any way affect my views).

Delicious Alchemy Wonderfully Nutty Granola and Fruity Muesli

Delicious Alchemy Wonderfully Nutty Granola and Fruity Muesli

The first thing I noticed was the focus on ‘nutty’ which is something that until fairly recently would have put me off, but over the last couple of years I have grown to love nuts so this intrigued me. Most granolas with nuts tend to have fruit as a main flavour with nuts as a supplementary flavour but the nuts are the main feature in this one. The granola contains:

  • Oats (gluten free of course)
  • Almonds
  • Hazelnuts
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Honey
  • Raisins
  • Pumpkin seeds

I’m not a huge fan of sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds but everything else sounded great. There aren’t any unusual preservatives in the ingredients list either which is always good to see.

To test the flavour of the granola, I tried it with my favourite vanilla yoghurt (Rachel’s Organic). The granola has some nice larger clusters as well as individual nuts and seeds, which is always something I like in my granola (they’re all bite sized so no need to break it down further). One thing I really don’t like in granola is when it’s not crunchy, and I’m pleased to say this one is 🙂

Delicious Alchemy Wonderfully Nutty Granola (with Rachel's Organic Vanilla Yoghurt)

Delicious Alchemy Wonderfully Nutty Granola (with Rachel’s Organic Vanilla Yoghurt)

The flavour is good – not too sweet but there is an element of sweetness with the honey and raisins (and it also has concentrated grape juice too). I wondered if a different yoghurt may complement it better than vanilla, so tried it with a Greek yoghurt with honey. This is a really great combination and one I’d definitely recommend!

So, would I buy the granola? Yes, I would. It’s not my favourite granola – that honour goes to Nature’s Path’s Nice and Nobbly Berry Granola – but it’s not as sweet and I think it’s probably better as an everyday breakfast whereas the Nature’s Path one is more of a treat.

Delicious Alchemy Wonderfully Nutty Granola is available direct from Delicious Alchemy and retails for £3.00. Delicious Alchemy have also kindly given me a discount code to share with you which gives you free delivery if you order the granola from their website for delivery to UK mainland before 31st July: GFJADA16.

I was intrigued to see on the back of the pack that there is also a berry granola but I haven’t seen that anywhere and it’s not on the website yet. I hope I find it soon as I’d really like to try that one.

Have you tried the Delicious Alchemy Wonderfully Nutty Granola? What did you think? Have you found the Wonderfully Berry Granola anywhere yet?

If you’d like to receive updates from Gluten Free Joeyanne please follow the blog by email or RSS (links on the right hand side) or you can like Gluten Free Joeyanne on Facebook for links to blog posts as well as more regular updates, or Gluten Free Joeyanne on Instagram for photos of gluten free products and meals.