Gluten Free Favourites – March 2016

So many things to share this month – it has been a good month for new gluten free discoveries and re-discoveries!

Gluten free favourites - March 2016

Gluten free favourites – March 2016

Stokie Sauce – Laura from Twice as Nice Bakery (see my previous review) told us about this sauce a little while ago and said she was hoping to stock it, so when I last picked up some gluten free oatcakes and saw it on the shelf I had to have some! It’s a really interesting sauce and not at all what I was expecting. It’s thinner in consistency than I thought it would be, and more spicy, but it does work well with oatcakes and I’d definitely recommend giving it a go if you’re in the area.

Gluten free pikelets – another local speciality! When I got my gluten free oatcakes from Twice as Nice I noticed these with them and thought I’d give them a go (they’re both from Weston Coyney Oatcakes). I’ll be honest, when I got home I was wondering if I might regret the purchase as I’m not usually a fan of fruit in things like this (I tried to like hot cross buns this year but just couldn’t!). The pikelets though – well that’s a different matter. There’s only a small amount of fruit and it really helps to sweeten them. I love them with plenty of butter – delicious!

Heck Chicken Italia Sausages – we’ve had these before but I was reminded just how excellent they were when we had them recently. We just had a really simple meal of the sausages, sweet potato mash, and some greens, and it was wonderful. I did try a bit with Stokie Sauce too and it complemented them really well! So much so in fact that I had an oatcake with one of these sausages, some mozarella, and Stokie Sauce – delicious! I love the flavour of these Heck sausages in particular, and they’re nice and smooth too.

Pizza Express Gluten Free Dough Balls – they’ve already had their own blog post so I won’t say too much more but they really are delicious and I can’t wait to go back for more!

Tesco Free From Dough Mix – I didn’t think it would be possible to find a pizza base mix we would enjoy as much as Isabel’s (see previous review) but this really surprised me. It’s easy to make and doesn’t need pre cooking (though does need to prove for half an hour or so). It makes a lovely pizza base with a crunchy crust but a softer middle – the best of both worlds. We’ve had it twice now and both really enjoyed it (yes, it even got the approval of my non-coeliac partner!). We still love the Isabel’s mix when we want something lighter so will probably alternate between the two.

Gianni’s Cheeky Monkey Ice Cream – After learning the leftover Ben And Jerry’s Phish Food had been eaten in secret without me, I came across this ice cream in Aldi which is very similar but less than half the price! It’s chocolate ice cream, with swirls of marshmallow and swirls of caramel sauce, and chocolate monkeys. I think I might actually even prefer this to the Ben and Jerry’s!

What have you been enjoying this month? Any recommendations? 


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Gluten free dough balls at Pizza Express

Yes, you read right – gluten free dough balls! I’m a huge fan of Pizza Express – their gluten free pizzas are great and I love the fact that things are so clearly marked on the menu. However, their gluten free starter and dessert options were definitely lacking. So I was delighted to hear the new menu included gluten free dough balls. I was so excited in fact that I set a date in my calendar and we went to check them out on the day they launched. I must have been the first person to ask for them in the restaurant I visited as the staff had to check they had them and what they needed to do! So, are they any good?


I hadn’t been to Pizza Express before I was diagnosed with coeliac disease so I haven’t had the regular dough balls and to be honest I wasn’t really sure what to expect. I love the Isabel’s dough balls but have cheese in those and the regular Pizza Express ones don’t. They’re basically small bread rolls which are served warm with garlic butter. Pizza Express have said they’ve been working on the gluten free recipe for a long time so I had high expectations, and I’m really pleased to say they definitely met, if not exceeded, those expectations! The dough balls have a lovely light texture and a slightly crisp crust (though not as crisp as a crusty roll). For gluten free bread I thought they were excellent. They held together well; no crumbling. The texture was even throughout with no big holes.

I really enjoyed dipping my dough balls into the garlic butter, and enjoyed the flavour of the bread on its own too. I did wonder if the bread may have garlic in, but I think it’s just in the butter. My partner ordered some ‘regular’ Dough Balls Formaggi (though the ones with cheese) and tried some of the gluten free ones and he said the gluten free ones were very slightly drier in texture but not too noticeable a difference, and he’d happily have the gluten free ones.

I’d definitely recommend trying the gluten free dough balls next time you visit Pizza Express, and I’m sure I’ll be having them again. I just hope they stay on the menu as Pizza Express do change their menu frequently (the Noci are no longer available, or the full size brownie). For now though, I’ll be taking every opportunity to enjoy the gluten free dough balls whilst I can! I’m secretly hoping that if these are successful they may sell them in stores as part of their supermarket range (and gluten free pizzas too) – that would be amazing!

Have you tried the Pizza Express gluten free dough balls? What did you think? 


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 in 2015

I enjoyed a lot of great gluten free things last year and I’d like to share my favourites with you – these are all things I love and highly recommend. There are a lot to share so you might want to get yourself comfy…

Book: Get The Glow by Madeleine Shaw

We have joked to family and friends that this is our bible, which admittedly is a little extreme for a cook book, but we use it very frequently and love pretty much everything we’ve tried for the book (the savoury recipes are better than the sweet ones in our opinion though). It’s not advertised as a gluten free cookbook, but it is gluten free as the author follows a gluten free diet (this is true of a number of recent cook books). Some of our favourite recipes include the ginger steamed fish parcels (really quick and easy to make, hardly any washing up necessary, and delicious!), the chicken schnitzel with sweet potato fries, the ginger beef kebabs and the quinoa burgers. I could go on but I’ll leave it at that for now – at some point I think I’ll write a full review of the book. It’s absolutely fantastic, and we have recommended it to family and friends who now use it too. Madeleine is releasing another book in a few months and I’m very much looking forward to that.

 

Newly discovered brand: Isabel’s Free From

This was a really tricky category as I’ve discovered a few great gluten free brands this year. Isabel’s is a definite highlight though! We really enjoy the pizza base mix (reviewed here) and the dough balls mix – we’ve even shared the dough balls with non-gluten-free family and friends who loved them! The yorkshire pudding mix works brilliantly, both for individual yorkshire puddings (reviewed here) and for toad in the hole (reviewed here). The Easy Pud Chocolate Sponge Mix is very convenient too, so all in all I’m impressed! The thing I like about Isabel’s is that everything is gluten, wheat and dairy free (or can be made dairy free) yet you really can’t tell. It’s not like the products are ‘good for gluten free’ they’re just good generally. With some other brands I feel like my partner is missing out if we share gluten free versions, but with Isabel’s I really don’t. I have a couple more mixes in the store cupboard which I bought at a show last year but haven’t had chance to try yet, but I’m sure they will be fabulous as everything I’ve tried from the brand so far is. The only mishap we’ve had was when we had no eggs in and tried an egg replacement in the yorkshire pudding mix – sadly that didn’t work so well. The instructions on Isabel’s mixes are quite specific but when I follow them they work out well. I also really like the brand’s communication – their social media accounts are great, and whenever I’ve met representatives of the brand at food shows they have been really informative and helpful. Big thumbs up to Isabel’s from me 🙂

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Notable mentions also go to Delicious Alchemy (love their chocolate brownies and their oaty cookies in particular, and again as a brand they do some great stuff on social media as well as having excellent customer service), Kabuto Noodles (especially for their rice pots), and Provena (fantastic chocolate muffin mix, and their oat bread mix is fabulous too).

Supermarket: Marks and Spencer

Gluten free festive sandwich and drink from M&S

Gluten free festive sandwich and drink from M&S

For a while now I’ve been enjoying the gluten free range from M&S – their sandwiches are my go to choice when I’m travelling, and I love their party ranges of buffet food. During 2015 though they just kept delivering great new products. There are the individual cake options you can get from most train station M&S Simply Food stores, and I love the fact they switch these up every so often – in the last few months to my knowledge there’s been a caramel pecan bar, a brownie, a fudge cake (with edible stars!), and a shortbread millionaire bar. The sandwich selection is expanding, and there are also healthier snacks too; I like the prawns with a sweet chilli dip for example. I also really like that many of their crisps are gluten free – just recently I picked up a small bag of ‘Made Without Wheat’ tortilla chips with my sandwich, and many of the regular range of crisps and snacks are gluten free too. I really like their multipacks of Cool Mini Tortillas, and the new baked Pea Snaps they do are really unique! The thing I love about M&S is their labelling – of course they have a really good ‘Made Without Wheat’ range, but lots of items within the store are clearly marked as gluten free (one example being their Hot Chocolate Fudge Pudding which is a firm favourite of ours!). For Christmas most of their food was gluten free (including things like pigs in blankets and stuffings) which makes it easier for families with coeliacs to all eat the same delicious food.

Notable mentions go to Holland and Barrett who stock some great gluten free brands (mostly online rather than in store), Waitrose who have vastly improved their gluten free offering, Ocado who have a huge range of gluten free products and brands, and Tesco for ensuring plenty of gluten free Christmas food items (I tried chestnut stuffing for the first time thanks to Tesco!).

Specialist store: Freego 

There are a few online stores who offer gluten free items, but Freego stand out to me. For a start, everything is gluten free which makes it really easy for coeliacs, and they sell some items that you can’t get elsewhere in the UK. They spend time finding and testing gluten free brands from around the world and then trying to bring the best ones to customers. We particularly enjoyed the Luce’s Artisan bread mix and definitely intend to try more of this brand. Freego have a great range of naturally gluten free grains too, and some unusual ingredients that can otherwise be hard to find. They cater for many different dietary needs via categories on their website which is very easy to use. You can see some other items we tried in my review of Freego. I certainly intend to use Freego again in future for stocking up on store cupboard essentials (and the odd treat!).

Restaurant: Pizza Express

There are more and more restaurant chains as well as independents who cater for those with a gluten free diet, but my most visited place during 2015 was Pizza Express. I really like their gluten free pizzas, and they have some interesting topping combinations with regular new seasonal menus. There’s usually starter and dessert options too, and although they’re perhaps not the most exciting (salads, risottos, brownie, and ice cream), I’ve not yet had a disappointing meal at Pizza Express – and I’ve tried lots of different branches! The area we’ve moved to didn’t used to have a Pizza Express but one opened up the week before we moved, so I imagine we’ll still be visiting Pizza Express (in fact we’ve already tried our new local one and it was great). They’re always a safe option when I’m travelling, and with the discounts (we have a Tastecard) they’re great value too. I also really like that many of the gluten free options are vegetarian which is really refreshing. The current gluten free menu is available online.

Notable mentions go to Zizzi (their chocolate melt is amazing!), Prezzo (enjoyed a lovely pasta dish here whilst travelling, sadly there isn’t one near us), The Cowshed in Pattingham (our go to local restaurant from last year), and Mothertown Fish and Chips (our new local chippie).

Savoury recipe: Simply Cook Jerk Chicken and Coconut Rice

Simply Cook Jerk Chicken and Coconut Rice

Simply Cook Jerk Chicken and Coconut Rice

It was really tricky to choose just one recipe and if I went on frequency of cooking I think it would have to be the ginger steamed fish parcels from Get The Glow which we have probably once a fortnight, but then I remembered the wonderful jerk chicken with coconut rice from Simply Cook. I haven’t yet blogged about Simply Cook but do intend to – they send you recipes and sauces/spices/stocks (four recipes per box) to make really interesting dishes, many of which are gluten free. The advantage of this over other boxes is that you can buy the ingredients so it can help you stick to a budget, or you can exclude ingredients you don’t like. We tried a box earlier last year, and since then have re-ordered our favourites which include the jerk chicken with coconut rice. You bake the chicken in the seasoning with lime, and then cook the rice with onion, stock, coconut rice, and black beans. The flavour combination is amazing – I’d never have thought of putting these together yet they work so well. The coconut rice is a revelation too – it’s delicious! I’d definitely recommend this meal (and most of the other Simply Cook dishes we’ve tried to be honest). I do plan to write a full review of Simply Cook as we really like it, but in the meantime if you’d like to try it out yourself I have a referral link which means you can get your first box for £1. We did this initially and I promise it only costs £1 – if you don’t like it or don’t want to be tied into a subscription you can turn off the subscriptions and just purchase boxes when you wish to (this is what we do as we prefer to choose the recipes and don’t want to have them every month).

Sweet recipe: Bakewell tart

Bakewell Tart (made from Phil Vickery recipe)

Bakewell Tart (made from Phil Vickery recipe)

This was a tough decision too as we have a number of recipes we make on a fairly regular basis, but the Bakewell tart is probably our favourite. It’s a Phil Vickery recipe from the Seriously Good! Gluten Free Cooking (made with Coeliac UK) – the recipe is also available online. We’ve made the pastry from scratch (following the recipe fully), and we’ve also used ready made shortcrust pastry for the base, leaving it as is or adding in the citrus flavour as in the recipe. All variants work well and it’s a recipe we turn to often when we have visitors (though sadly last time we burnt it a little as we’re still getting used to the oven in our new place!).

Notable mentions go to the chocolate chip cookie recipe from Louise at Slice of Heaven Gluten Free Cake Studio, the coffee and walnut sponge from Glutafin, the soft centered chocolate pudding from Glutafin, and the oatmeal and vanilla cookie recipe from Michael McCamley’s Gluten Free Baking.

Blogger: Gluten Free B

There are a number of gluten free blogs I follow; some of which have been blogging for a while, others I’ve only discovered fairly recently. I tend to prefer following bloggers who have coeliac disease as I know they understand what it’s like, though I do follow a couple who choose to be gluten free. I really like to read posts about living with coeliac disease (and quite enjoy writing them too to be honest – as difficult as it was, I found it useful to express my feelings on what it’s like being coeliac when you are the sort of person who prefers to blend into the background, so you may see more of these types of posts  on my blog in future). I also like to learn about ingredients I haven’t used, discover new recipes, places to eat out, and new products I might want to try. Carly is someone I’ve followed for a while on both her blog and social media, and during 2015 I’ve enjoyed seeing her adapt things to be mostly dairy free (due to her daughter needing avoid milk and eggs), seeing her produce some fabulous recipes and gluten free baking competition entries, and seeing her photography develop. She also released a gluten free and dairy free cook book which looks fantastic – I haven’t had chance to try it myself yet. She runs the ‘Fruit is not a Pudding’ blog too which I just love – I really enjoyed seeing the entries for the Christmas Fruit is not a Pudding competition. I’ve never met Carly but seem to share many of the same views as her, and really appreciate her support and friendliness (towards me and others). She recently blogged about how the gluten free trend seems to be at a peak and gluten free blogging has changed (see Have we reached peak gluten free?), and it’s given me a lot of food for thought – I’ve been having similar ponderings about my own blogging. I hope Carly does continue to blog because I really enjoy reading her posts, seeing what she has been working on, and seeing her cooking and focus change over time. I’m totally envious of her photography (check out her Instagram feed), and really admire her ethics and golden rules of social media, many of which are the same as mine – though I’m not averse to sharing photos of my breakfast as I love me some yoghurt and granola! Gluten free blogging, as with other types of blogging, has definitely changed, but I hope as bloggers we can continue to provide a useful resource for other coeliacs.

All in all, 2015 was an excellent year for gluten free discoveries and development. We moved at the end of 2015 and the town we have moved to has had a gluten free bakery and a lounge bar with a gluten free menu, both of which opened in the last few weeks. I look forward to sharing more reviews of places to eat and gluten free products via the blog in future, as well as some posts about being coeliac. I enjoy sharing my favourites too so may make this sort of blog post on a more frequent basis. I hope you found it useful 🙂

What were your gluten free favourites in 2015?

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. 

Top gluten free discoveries in 2014

I’ve been gluten free for just over 5 years now – I received my coeliac disease diagnosis on 31st December 2009. Things have got a whole lot better in that relatively short time – both from a health perspective (I’m generally a lot better health wise now) and from a product availability perspective. When I was first diagnosed, our local supermarket had a couple of shelves of ‘free from’ food, but it now has a whole section. Eating out was initially really tricky, but is a lot easier now. I’m constantly finding out about new gluten free developments, and thought I’d take the opportunity to highlight some of my favourite discoveries from 2014.

Granola

Mare Rossa gluten free pizza

Nature’s Path Nice and Nobbly Granola with vanilla yoghurt

I’ve never been much of a breakfast person, but that’s all changed this year thanks to my discovery of granola. I often have yoghurt (Rachel’s Organic Vanilla is my favourite) with some granola. I’ve tried lots of different types of gluten free granolas this year and my favourites so far are Nature’s Path Nice and Nobbly Blueberry, Raspberry and Strawberry and Udi’s Almond Vanilla. I also sometimes snack on granola, and Nature’s Paths Granola Nice and Nobbly Blueberry, Raspberry and Strawberry was fantastic when we were travelling in America last summer (I even managed to find another bag in Walmart to replace what I’d eaten!).

Waitrose Free From Blondies

I added the Waitrose Love Life Gluten Free Millionaire Blondies to an Ocado order on a bit of a whim once, and am delighted I did! The base is similar to chocolate brownies but uses white chocolate, and they have a layer of caramel and chocolate on top. They are delicious, and my non-coeliac partner loves these too.

Genius Hearty White Bloomer

I’ve actually only had the Genius Hearty White Bloomer once as I don’t eat bread often enough to justify having a bloomer (I’m not sure if it freezes well). I bought this around my birthday and had slices of it in buffet style with smokey cheese spread or some smoked ham. It’s really nice and soft and my Dad and sister (who both love ‘normal’ bread) enjoyed it almost as much as I did. When a non-coeliac goes back for more of a gluten free product that’s always a sign to me that it’s a good product overall rather than just the best of a not-so-great bunch!

Pizza Express

Mare Rossa gluten free pizza

Mare Rossa gluten free pizza

I’ve become a fairly frequent visitor to Pizza Express this year. I travel quite a bit with work and Pizza Express is one chain I feel I can trust to have a safe gluten free meal at so I’ve been to quite a few different ones around the country. I also have a Tastecard so can get 2 meals for the price of 1, and they also often have good deals online. I really like their gluten free pizzas, and also love some of the other dishes too. It’s nice to be able to have a dessert too and they sometimes have seasonal options that are gluten free. Their latest menu is my favourite yet – last month I had Melanzanine as a starter, and the most amazing pizza ever for my main. It was a seafood pizza with smoked salmon, prawns, and a lobster bisque sauce (the Mare Rossa for anyone interested in trying it!). I really hope they keep this on their menu as it’s so delicious; I’m salivating just at the memory!

Starbucks Limited Edition Turkey and Cranberry Wrap

The end of the 2014 was a good time for new discoveries for me. I found a few new products to try over the festive season and the festive wraps from Starbucks and Costa were a very welcome development. I’ve found some of the wrap options from coffee shops a bit naff to be honest (I don’t like the Starbucks peppers and humous one they did), but the Limited Edition Turkey and Bacon Wrap was so good. It had stuffing (which I wasn’t expecting considering its gluten free and stuffing isn’t usually gluten free), and cranberry sauce which added a hint of sweetness. The bacon was a smoked bacon and you could really taste that coming through. It became a bit of a staple lunch when I was travelling in November/December as again it was really easy to find. Costa had a similar wrap but nowhere near as nice I didn’t think, and not as easy to eat.

These are just the top few highlights of 2014 for me, but there have been a number of very welcome developments in the gluten free world, and I’m looking forward to testing more out in the coming months and years. What have been your top discoveries in 2014?