Looking for free from pasta?

Spaghetti, macaroni, tagliatelle, penne, rigatoni – there are so many different types of pasta
out there, but don’t think that your options are limited for gluten free pasta. We tasted a
selection, and here’s what we thought:

Co-op Free From Fusilli – 8/10
If you’re after a free from pasta that tastes as close as possible to regular pasta, then this one’s for you. It holds its shape unlike other free from products, isn’t too heavy and has a lovely taste – it’s made from maize and rice. It’s packaging also happened to be our favourite.

Free from: gluten and egg. £1.59

Tesco Free From Penne – 6/10
Our highlight with this pasta? The cooking time is only 8-10 minutes, meaning you don’t have to wait long to eat it, although we’d actually recommend going to the lower end of the cooking scale to ensure that perfect al dente effect. What’s more, if you’re adding sauce, don’t forget this will soften the pasta. The pasta has a good thickness and nice taste, and our only negative is that it had slightly crumbled in the packaging.

Free from: gluten, wheat, milk and egg. £1.15

Morrisons Free From Fusilli – 7/10
This fusilli tastes great – the pasta cooked well, although its cooking time is 11-13 minutes, so slightly longer than the others we tasted – the only negative we have about this product.
Free from: gluten. £1.38

Tesco Free From Fusilli – 6/10
Unlike the penne, this Tesco fusilli did slightly disintegrate when it neared the end of its cooking time. Nonetheless, the taste was still good – not our favourite, but still nice. The product definitely required an extra pinch of salt, but all round, it’s a solid choice for a good free from pasta.
Free from: gluten, wheat, milk and egg. £1.15

Did you enjoy our review of gluten free pasta? You can find many more product reviews, all on our blog . You can also follow us on Facebook , Instagram and Twitter for more gluten free product reviews, advice, recipes and much, much more.

Coeliac Awareness Week: Chat with Charlotte from ilumi

Tell us a bit about your diagnosis

My diagnosis story is much like everyone else’s. I went through a period in my late teens when I noticed that I started to feel bloated and uncomfortable when I ate certain foods. Initially I thought it was dairy that upset my stomach, so I made the relevant food swaps and still didn’t feel much better. The fact it could be gluten never crossed my mind!

A couple of months after my 25th birthday I got sick and tired of feeling sick and tired, so for what must have been the 10th time of going to the doctors to complain about stomach aches, headaches, unexplained sickness and increasing anxiety, I found a GP who took me seriously and did the relevant blood tests. A couple of days later he gave me a call to say I tested positive for the antibodies and that I needed to go back.
After a bit of back and forth, results confirmed that I was Coeliac. I found out on the 22nd December – Happy Christmas to me! Of course, it wasn’t all that bad after all. In the months following my diagnosis I began to explore the ways of managing my diet to exclude gluten.

Is there any advice you can share on how you handle symptoms? 

· This may be obvious, but just stop eating gluten. You hear lots of stories of people who ‘can just eat gluten sometimes’, or that ‘just deal with it’. That may work for some people, but definitely not for me – I’ve around 50% bowel damage and no one can really tell you how long it will take to heal so don’t mess with progress.

· It gets better – I promise! After a couple of weeks of not eating gluten, I started to feel better     and the symptoms vanished. You just have to be strong!

· Get your vitamins. My hair used to come out, I used to look pale and ill, and I’ve developed super spotty teenage skin (not a good look in your mid-twenties). I was prescribed vitamins, and quickly saw improvements!

· Don’t be too hard on yourself. I need to make sure I take on this piece of advice more often. Sometimes you can be super strict with yourself, but still find you feel ill and you just can’t work out why. The important thing is to not beat yourself up. If I let feeling ill get me down, it exacerbates my symptoms. Yes, sometimes I think not being able to eat gluten is rubbish, but it’s totally fine (really!). Just take some time to look after yourself.

Any tips you’d like to share?

· Eating out. I get a little stressed when going out to eat for fear of being ‘glutened’, but the most important thing is just to let people know you can’t eat gluten. Sometimes I feel a little embarrassed as I feel like waiting staff think I’m just being awkward, but I’d rather feel a little embarrassed for 2 seconds rather than deal with a night of belly ache and sickness any day of the week!

· Be aware of cross contamination. There’s nothing worse than being super good and managing your Coeliac like an absolute pro, to then get sick from using a utensil that’s been used to cook or prepare a gluten filled product. This sadly does mean separate toasters. I usually just cook my bread under the grill to avoid any cross contamination.

· Always read the packaging! Brands are always developing their products, tweaking ingredients, and sometimes gluten just slips in and bam – I’m back to being spotty, sleepy and bloated. Not good.

· If in doubt, bring snacks. I’m a nightmare when I’m hangry, so if I’m heading out for the day I’ll make sure I bring some snacks with me. Supermarkets don’t always have a great free from section (although it’s always improving), so it’s worth bringing a couple of snacks that can help to take the edge off your hunger.

What are your go-to products that make your life just that little bit easier?

My favourite products, but in no particular order:

ilumi cheese sauce – it’s great with veggies and nice with pasta.
Rice/corn cakes – perfect to snack on, great for topping with avocado, tomatoes or cheese andfairly low in calorie.
Marks & Spencer Extremely Chocolatey Millionaire’s Caramel Crispy Mini Bites – these are maybe the nicest sweet treat ever!
Warburton’s gluten free artisan bread – Incredibly delicious, and as close to ‘real’ bread as possible
Goodness Grains Bagels – maybe one of the nicest bagels I’ve eaten outside of New York City.
Gluten free Soy Sauce – I love cooking with fresh foods and I love throwing together a stirfry after the gym, so gluten free soy sauce is a store cupboard must!
Peanut butter and Nutella – I try not to enjoy these two together, but they can take porridge and toast from zero to hero. Peanut butter is also super good stirred into a stirfry to create a satay sauce.
Skinny lager – it’s gluten free, only 89 calories and really tasty. The perfect Friday night treat for me!

Learn more about Coeliac UK’s Awareness week here . Follow us on Facebook , Instagram and Twitter for more taste tests of delicious gluten free products in the future.

Perfect your tea break with a gluten free biscuit

 

Schar Milk Chocolate Nobbles – 7/10Schar
After a digestive? Look no further. These Schar nobbles really are the real deal. Perfectly crunchy with a sweet chocolate-y coating, they’re just the ticket to accompany that mid-afternoon brew. If you’re the dunking type, you’ll be glad to know these won’t leave you with that biscuit residue at the bottom of your mug.
Free from: gluten and wheat. £2.09

 

Prewetts Chocolate Cookies – 8/10Prewetts Cookies
We have a winner, ladies and gentlemen! Indulge in these cookies, and you won’t be disappointed. The milk, white and dark chocolate chunks are absolutely divine, as is the consistency – delightfully crunchy, with just the right amount of crumble.
Free from: gluten. £1.71

 

Bakers Delight Wafer Fingers – 5/10Bakers Wafer Fingers
Our least favourite, but by no means untasty were these wafer fingers. They’re a little light on taste, but make up for it with their carefully created wafer centre. Individually wrapped, they make the perfect on-the-go snack.
Free from: gluten and wheat. £2.29

 

Prewetts Chocoful Biscuits – 6/10Prewetts Cookies
Are you a chocoholic? If so, these are absolutely for you. The creamy, chocolate coating is suitably thick giving a sublime taste, before reaking into a crispy centre.
Free from: gluten. £1.50

 

Nairn’s Oat and Chocolate Chip Biscuits – 5/10
Less of a biscuit and more of a savoury snack, these Nairn’s oat and Nairn's Oats and Chocchocolate biscuits certainly didn’t disappoint. The taste of the holegrain oats shines through and complements the chocolate chips perfectly.
Free from: gluten and wheat. £1.85

 

Did you enjoy our biscuit taste test? Follow us on Facebook , Instagram and
Twitter for more taste tests of delicious gluten free products in the future.

Find the best dairy free Easter Egg

 

Booja booja Almond and Sea Salt Caramel Chocolate Truffles – 9/10Booja Booja

The most expensive of all the eggs we tasted, these truffles certainly didn’t   disappoint. With a crunchy shell breaking into a soft and creamy centre, these really are indulgent. Our only negative comment? You only get 3 truffles in each egg, and we definitely could have done with more!
Free from: dairy, gluten and soya. Also organic. £9.99

Celtic Alternative to Milk Chocolate Egg – 6/10Celtic
You’d struggle to believe this egg didn’t contain dairy thanks to its great flavour and taste. The egg may be a little soft so lacks the crunch as you break into the egg, but it makes up for it with just the right amount of cocoa. The addition of 6 choc discs with the egg are an added bonus.
Free from: dairy, wheat, gluten and egg. £5.99

Moo Free Original Organic Easter Egg – 7/10
Thanks to its slightly dark chocolate taste, this is the egg for you if you prefer the daMoorker variety. The chocolate is nice and thick, with a nice sweet taste – it has just the right balance. The eg has good consistency with a satisfying crunchg and the packaging is great for children, with a little story about Mikey Bunny and Hammy Hamster creating the perfect egg for ‘people who can’t eat milk chocolate’.
Free from: dairy, gluten, wheat and soya. £4.25

Looking for some free from cheese?

No one should have to miss out on cheese, so we have tasted the best free from options out there. Get ready for some gouda cheese and grate flavours.

Ocado cheddar style cheese – 7/10

You’d have a hard time believing us if we said this wasn’t regular cheese. Slightly mild, it has
a satisfying taste and looks nice once it is served up, although it is a little crumbly. It’s soft to
touch with just the right colour to it, and we speak with confidence when we say you would
have no idea this dairy free.
Free from: dairy, gluten and wheat. £2.25

Sainsbury’s soft cheese – 5/10
A coconut-based alternative to cheese, this cream cheese resemblance was closer to that of
yoghurt, with a slightly grey tinge. It was soft in texture and carried a similar composition to
that of a regular cream cheese, just with a slightly powdery aftertaste.
Free from: wheat, gluten, milk and egg. £1.80

Violife original block cheese – 6/10
It may be slightly rubbery in touch and taste, but this gives cheese a good run for its money
to say it’s the most accommodating to food allergies. It’s free from just about everything, and
just like the Sainsbury’s options, coconut oil is one of the main ingredients. Thanks to its
great melting abilities, this is the cheese for you if you’re after cheese on toast!
Free from: dairy, soya, gluten, lactose, nuts and preservatives. £2.39

Sainsbury’s cheddar style cheese – 4/10
The least favourite of all the cheeses we tasted, this cheese had a slightly off-putting
aftertaste. It was crumbly to touch, making the slicing of it rather tricky. The texture was nice
and it didn’t taste rubbery, like free from cheese often can. However, for us the taste wasn’t
quite there and the cheese carried a rather distinctive bright yellow colouring.
Free from: wheat, gluten, milk and egg. £2.25

Are you on the lookout for some free from lunch options? iluminate your lunch today and
discover our rice noodle pot range .

Free From Eating Out

We’ve done a roundup of 2017’s winners of the FreeFrom Eating Out Awards.

 

Mommi

Based in Clapham, London, these guys sure know how to run an award-winning establishment that caters for all dietary requirements, and it’s just as well, as they were the ‘Overall winner’ of last year’s awards. All of their staff are trained in allergen management, all of their dishes are gluten free, and all of their food tastes amazing! It doesn’t get much better than that!

 

David’s Fish and Chips

As we all know, a trip to the seaside isn’t complete without fish and chips. Well, thanks to David’s Fish and Chips, a trip to Devon doesn’t have to be without the mandatory dish. Aside from the warm, friendly welcome you receive upon arrival, they don’t make diners with a dietary requirement feel any different to those without. Their menu features a huge selection and they even have gluten free vinegar, accredited by Coeliac UK. Now that’s what we call service!

 

The Old Queens Head

If you’re looking for a traditional, gluten free pub lunch, then look no further than The Old Queens Head in Buckinghamshire. They have a dedicated GF menu, which they take great pride in –  no dietary requirement is too complicated for them. For once, feeling proud about having a dietary requirement is actually a thing!

Curry Leaf Café

When it comes to curry, they often contain something you probably can’t eat. Well, un-phased by food allergies, if you’re ever in Brighton, you must visit Curry Leaf Café. Their traditional Indian cooking means that a lot of their food is naturally free-from, but even if it’s not, they will happily cater for you, with real confidence and kindness.

 

The Eating House

With fresh ingredients and a guarantee that all dishes are prepared on site, no diet is too daunting for The Eating House in Derbyshire. A designated area within their kitchen is reserved for the preparation of allergen free food to ensure no contamination, and they don’t fall short on dessert, either, with a vast selection of gluten free cakes.

 

Pizza Express

With more and more independent restaurants offering free from dining, it was about time chains joined. Pizza Express have really stepped up to the mark, and make eating delicious Italian food possible. Think you’d have to miss out on their trademark dough balls because you’re gluten free? Think again. Not only do they offer a gluten free variety of dough balls whilst guaranteeing that everything is stored separately, they offer gluten free beers, too.

 

The Star Hotel

Going away and want to stay somewhere that specialises in allergen dining? The Star Hotel in Dumfries & Galloway makes this possible. With a widely free from menu, almost everything is possible, and if it’s not, they’ll try their best, including whipping up gluten free batter so you can enjoy that much-loved pub classic, scampi and chips.

 

Looking for more places nearby? This handy map shows the winning establishments by location, making free from eating out even more convenient. And if you’re looking for something to cook at home, discover our range here.

Which is the best gluten free bread?

When it comes to gluten free, the best bread is one of the most hotly debated topics. Which one is the nicest? Which one tastes the most like ‘normal’ bread? Do some toast better than others Options used to be limited, but now, with just about every well known bread brand and supermarkets introducing a gluten free bread, the choices are aplenty.

 

BFree Soft White Loaf – 6/10BFree
It may not have been the favourite, but BFree has still got a lot to be proud of. You’d be (pleasantly) surprised when eating this if someone told you it was GF – it has a great texture, a nice taste, and it doesn’t fall apart when you try and make it a sandwich. It does, however, come with a slightly different aftertaste – something between sweet and savoury.
Free from: wheat, gluten, egg and dairy free. £3.00  

Schär Wholesome White Loaf – 8/10Schar
A clear favourite, this really was hard to beat. The slices may be a little small compared to your average slice of bread, but it more than makes up for it in taste. It has somewhat of a sweet aftertaste – not something you’d usually expect from bread, but alsosomething that was greatly appreciated. It’s competitively priced, too, giving this bread everything it needs to be a strong contender.
Free from: wheat, gluten and preservative. £2.55

 

Warburtons Brown Farmhouse Loaf – 7/10Warburtons
When you think of bread, the first things that come to mind are crumbiness and crusts, right? Well, Warburtons ticks those boxes. It has the perfect combination of a nice, thick crust with a soft centre and makes a cracking sandwich thanks to its even consistency and lack of flakiness.
Free from: wheat, gluten and milk. £3.05

 

Genius Soft White Sandwich Loaf – 5/10Genius
If toast is your favourite form of bread, then this is the bread for you. With a satisfying texture, the addition of three minutes in a toaster transforms this from any old bread to a toast heaven. Don’t let the colour put you off – it may be a little pale, but a quick sprinkling of your favourite spread does the job.
Free from: wheat, gluten and milk. £2.75

 

Sainsbury’s Deliciously Freefrom Bread – 6/10Sainsbury's
Being the cheapest of the bunch, we were a little apprehensive of this one, but we needn’t have worried. It’s tasty, has a great crust and makes fabulous toast. But that’s not all – it doesn’t carry that dry taste that lots of GF breads do, either, so if you’re after a sandwich and don’t want to compromise, head to Sainsbury’s.
Free from: wheat, gluten and milk. £2.30

 

Has all this talk about bread made you hungry? Why not check out our rice noodle pot range and iluminate your lunch today!

Finding your perfect pie

Christmas isn’t complete without a mince pie, or three, which is why we have taste tested a selection of free from options to help you find your perfect pie this festive season. The results are in…

 

First up, Sainsbury’s – 7/10                                                       IMG-2262

For us, Sainsbury’s took the lead, simply thanks to their variety of mince pies. With both iced and standard mince pies, they cater for the sweet-toothed, and the not so sweet-toothed. The quality of ingredients was high, the filling was juicy and the crust had that oh so perfect crunch. With icing not being the typical topping to a mince pie, we were pleasantly surprised by the perfect balance of sweetness and savoury-ness.

Free from: wheat, gluten and milk. £2.00

 

Up next, Waitrose – 6/10                                                                             IMG_0224 (1)                                                                  

A succulent centre, a crisp crust and a sweet aftertaste made for a very pleasant tasting when it came to the Waitrose mince pie. From the moment you open the packaging, an underlying smell reminds you that Christmas is just around the corner, and thanks to Waitrose, so is a delicious gluten and milk free pie.

Free from: gluten and milk. £2.50

 

Moving on to Aldi – 5/10                                                             IMG-2257

Prepare to get messy, because the Aldi mince pies were more than a little crumbly. Team that with a perfectly tangy filling, a somewhat savoury crust and a light sprinkling of icing sugar, and the result is a tasty and authentic mince pie.

Free from: gluten. £1.49

 

Following on, we have M&S – 6/10                                                     

A firm favourite when it comes to Christmassy nibbles, the M&S mince pies did not disappoint. A festive tasting pastry mixed with the traditional star on the front ticked all of the boxes for us. Our only comment? A lack of filling made the pies feel a little empty.

Free from: gluten. £2.50

 

Tesco – 6/10IMG-2258

With Tesco being the UK’s biggest supermarket, we were pretty hopeful when it came to theirs. Aesthetically pleasing and with an exceptionally tasty filling, the rich and fruity mincemeat instantly transports you to a festive-filled moment.

Free from: wheat, gluten and milk. £1.75

 

Next up, Morrisons – 5/10

With its golden shortcrust pastry, rich mincemeat filling and Christmassy odour, this really is Christmas in a mince pie. It has a sweet taste throughout and is generous in size.

Free from: wheat, gluten and milk. £2.00

 

Last but by no means least, ASDA – 6/10

Packed with plump sultanas and bramley apple with a touch of warming winter spice, these mince pies were a nice treat. The pastry may be a little crumbly, and the topping could perhaps do with an extra sprinkling of sugar, but the overall product is tasty, sweet and adventurous.

Free from: gluten. £1.75

Delicious Dairy Free and Gluten Free Lasagne

For the Bolognese Sauce:

1 tblsp olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
125g mushrooms, sliced
500 g (1lb 2oz) beef mince
500g Passata
2 tbsp tomato puree
1 tsp dried oregano
1 Beef stock cube
100g Fresh Spinach

Cheese Sauce/White Sauce:
2 x Ilumi cheese sauce mix
600mls unsweetened dairy free milk or semi-skimmed milk
(For best results use soya milk)

250g pack of dried Lasagne sheets (Gluten Free)

Optional extras:
Cheese or Dairy free alternative to sprinkle on the top
Why not try swapping the mince for chopped aubergine, peppers and courgette for a meat free alternative.

Method

Gently heat the oil in a large frying pan with a lid.
Fry the onion for 5 minutes, until softened, stirring often. Add garlic and sliced mushrooms and cook for 5 more minutes

Turn up the heat to medium, add the minced beef and fry until evenly browned.

Add the passata, tomato puree, oregano and beef stock cube. Bring to a boil stirring constantly then reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the spinach leaves for the last 5 minutes of cooking. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

For the cheese sauce: Empty the contents of the sachet into a medium sized saucepan. Gradually add 600mls of unsweetened dairy free milk or semi-skimmed milk into the pan and mix until smooth. Bring to the boil, stirring continuously, reduce heat and simmer for 2 minutes until the sauce has thickened

Pre-heat oven to 180°C / 350°F / 160°C Fan oven / Gas mark 4.

Take a baking dish about 25 x  20cm (10″” x 8″”) in size. Spoon a third of the bolognese sauce over the base, and then spoon a quarter of the cheese sauce over the bolognese. Cover with a single layer of lasagne sheets then repeat this layering of the bolognese, cheese sauce and pasta twice more. Top with the remaining cheese sauce and season with finely ground black pepper. Bake for 35min to 40 minutes, until golden.

Serve with a simple side salad!

 

6 Healthy Coconut Halloween Treats

Halloween signals the start to a season of fun and good food. With talks of Christmas (eek!) circulating round the office (and at bedtimes) it’s an exciting occasion to start getting creative in the kitchen.

As much as Halloween is often a sugar laden occasion, it’s not great for those who are trying to eat healthily, gluten free and attempting to keep their kids from bouncing around the room all night.

If you’re worrying about the amount of sugar, processed food and generally ‘bad for your health’ snacks that you or your children will be scoffing this Halloween, then why not host your own Halloween party? You can surprise your spooky guests with treats, cakes and snacks made with nutritious ingredients and less sugar.

Our favourite Halloween recipes all contain the one common ingredient: coconut. These recipes have swapped out unhealthy fats and sugars and replaced them with coconut products.

Here’s how you can make some super, healthy Halloween treats, just by switching up your baking ingredients:

Coconut oil is an awesome replacement for butter or cooking oil

* Coconut cream is your new healthy cake frosting

* Coconut flakes are easy to bake in the oven and sprinkled on the top of puddings or in gluten free snacks

Desiccated coconut adds a naturally delicious taste to cakes, bites and trifles

Try out these 6 gluten free, healthy coconut Halloween treats.

Your kids will never be able to tell the difference!

#1 Bounty’s chocolates are a traditional childhood favourite. Their coconutty sweetness, mixed with creamy milk chocolate, is a guilty Friday night indulgence for some. These good for you homemade Halloween mounds are an alternative, nutritious and sugar free snack. Easy to make and ideal for a quick Halloween bite.

#2 Blood orange and creamy coconut are a unique Halloween mix. Prepare these sugar free popsicles the night before your party, and you’re good to go!

#3 These maple and pecan Halloween treats from Deliciously Ella are made with coconut oil for a healthier Halloween snack.

#4 Macaroons are always a party favourite. This recipe used honey instead of sugar and swaps out butter for coconut oil. Ghoulish dairy free goodness!

#5 Banana, chocolate and coconut. Yummy! These coconut cream topped chocolate cakes, are perfect for a healthier Halloween party.

#6 Popcorn is always a winner. Make use of that popcorn machine that’s never been opened with this pumpkin spiced popcorn.

What’s best about using coconuts for your diet friendly Halloween treats is you won’t be left with flour or sugar that you’ll never use. You can easily utilise any leftover coconut products in cereals, on top of yogurts and for everyday cooking!

Emily Rose Dallara is a copywriter and content marketer for the food and health industry. She founded a street food business in her early twenties and is passionate about helping others lead a balanced life through her blog pressupsandprosecco.com. Twitter: @emrosedallara  Instagram: @emrosedallara