Coeliac Awareness Week – Chat with Ann from PERK!ER

This week is Coeliac Awareness Week. We had a chat with Ann, co-founder and director at PERK!ER.

Tell us a little about yourself…
I’m Ann, co-founder of PERK!ER with my partner Steve. Our brand name is a mash-up of our surnames Perkins and Turner! We live and work together – it’s a perky partnership!

What are you allergic to and when were you diagnosed?
I’m intolerant to both gluten and dairy; I was diagnosed with the gluten in July 2009 and diagnosed dairy intolerant at the end of 2014.

What was eating like before you realised you had a food allergy?
Looking back I was subconsciously reducing the gluten and dairy in my diet before diagnosis. I ate a lot more salad and vegetables than pasta and bread, for example. I was never really that keen on cheese, cream or milk either, even as a kid. However, I was eating some gluten and dairy pretty much every day. I might have had a splash of milk in my tea, a bit of chocolate, some bread or breakfast cereal, so they were constantly causing me health issues without me even realising. It took me a long time to work out they were the culprits!

What did you have to change; did you find this easy or difficult?
Before when I was eating a little bit of gluten and dairy, I had some health issues and often didn’t feel great, so I actually found it easy to avoid gluten and then dairy. It makes me feel so much better, I feel like myself on a good day every day! Because of this, I would never ever knowingly eat it again.

Finding food that tastes great, is good value and healthy has been challenging for me at times. Eating out is the hardest now – I don’t miss anything at home as I’ve changed my diet to be naturally gluten and dairy free and found new foods and recipes that both Steve and I love.

What was the positive impact to how you felt after diagnosis?
There have been a number of positive impacts for me since diagnosis. Firstly, energy – I feel so much more energized! Before diagnosis I used to get to the end of the week and feel so exhausted. I can now think more clearly, whereas before I had some times when I felt ‘foggy’. I also no longer suffer with severe abdominal pains, like knives going into your guts (yuk!) and headaches – it’s a huge relief.

What are the biggest challenges you face when food shopping?
The hardest time is when I’m on the go. I’m often travelling on business and want to grab a quick, fresh lunch. I find the choice in convenience stores and motorway services really poor, which means I need to carry food around with me most of the time… My bag is always full with plenty of PERK!ER Quinoa bars!

Another challenge is label checking. Every shopping trip I have to read the back of packets to make sure anything new is safe to eat and that the recipes of old favourite’s haven’t changed.

What are the biggest challenges when cooking at home? For example, does everyone in your household eat the same thing?
We pretty much are a dairy and gluten free household now. When we have family and friends over it is always completely gluten and dairy free, but they never notice. In fact, most of the time friends and family ask for the recipes!

How is eating out, where are the best places to go?
For a quick lunch Pod is brilliant. For a longer lunch or dinner my fave’s are Las Iguana’s & Wahaca, and there’s a great Indian and some nice country pubs near us too.

Are there any other day to day challenges that you have not already mentioned?
My family are brilliant – my niece is also gluten free so we all understand about allergen control, but sometimes it’s hard for some friends to cater for me. They want to know for sure they are providing food that’s gluten and dairy free, which can be stressful for them unfortunately. I find it is always worth offering to talk through any concerns they have, bring something to help or cooking a pudding to help take some of the stress away.

What are your go to products/brands that make life easier?
I have quite a few…
• Of course, PERK!ER! Delicious and super-healthy quinoa bars and sprouted bars are firm favourites.
• BFree pitta breads and chia seed wraps are utterly amazing!
• I love almond milk in my tea, so Alpro is a go to brand for me
• Amisa buckwheat crackers are great to take out or have with a salad to add a crunch
• Good Food Company for delicious gluten free and vegan falafels
• Ilumi Spicy Harira Soup
• Explore Asia do a fab range of black bean and edame bean noodles
• Cauldron for tofu, delish grilled with peri-peri spice!
• I love spice so I always have some Nando’s sauces and a cupboard of spices from peri-peri, chipotle, jerk, and herbs to add flavour to veg and protein
• We eat lots of veg and a couple of times a week I’ll roast courgettes, butternut squash, peppers and sweet potatoes with some herbs and spices and have them in the fridge to add to our lunches. Being organized as much as possible definitely helps!

You can find PERK!ER Fruit Berry porridge in our online shop

For more delicious gluten, wheat and dairy free goodies, visit, follow on Twitter @Perkierfoods or Instagram, or like on Facebook!

Gluten Free Fish and Chip Shop Directory

Marshall’s Tynemouth


Every other Thursday Marshall’s Fish & Chip Shop in Tynemouth serves an exclusive gluten free menu.


33 Front Street
NE30 4DZ


Phone: 0191 257 2435

Opening Times:

11:30 am – 8:30 pm Monday -Saturday

11:30am – 6:00pm Sunday
Maguires Fish & Chips

Gluten Free Fish and Chips available on request.

Burnopfield Road,

Rowlands Gill,

Tyne and Wear,


Phone: 01207 542 235

34 Burrowgate,
CA11 7TA
Opening Hours:

Monday:  4:30 – 9:00
Tuesday: 11:30 – 2:00 // 4:30 – 9:00
Wednesday: 11:30 – 2:00 // 4:30 – 9:00
Thursday: 11:30 – 2:00 // 4:30 – 9:00
Friday: 11:30 – 2:00 // 4:30 – 9:00
Saturday: 11:30 – 2:00 // 4:30 – 9:00
Sunday:  4:30 – 8:00

Scotts of Helmsley

scotts helmsley

Scotts’ gluten free dishes are seeing them become a firm favourite with diners suffering from an intolerance to wheat. For more info click here.


6 Bridge St, York,

North Yorkshire

YO62 5BG

Opening Hours:
Mon – Thu 11:30 – 9:00pm
Fri – Sun 11:30 – 9:30pm

Blakeley’s Fish and Chips


Offer a gluten free batter for customers with specific dietary requirements.

Opening Times:

Monday – Friday: 11am – 9:30pm
Saturday: 11am – 8pm
Sunday: 1pm – 5pm


Blakeley’s Fish & Chips
1 Canal Street

Telephone: 01484 713907

Serene Fish and Chips



27 Woodford Avenue

Gants Hill

Ilford Essex

Telephone:  020 8551 5655

Port & Starboard



Chapel Rd,

Indian Queens,

Saint Columb,



Telephone: 01726 860270

Open lunch times:
Restaurant 12.00 pm – 1.45 pm
Take Away 12.00 pm – 2.00 pm

Open evenings:
Monday to Thursday
Restaurant – 4.45pm – 8.00pm
Take away – 4.45pm – 8.30pm

Friday and Saturday
Restaurant – 4.45pm – 8.30pm
Take Away – 4.45pm – 9.00pm

Rossi’s Original Fish & Chips


Rossi’s present a complete gluten free menu.

235-240 Neath Rd,

Telephone: 01792 458406

Allergy Awareness Week – Giving up Milk / Dairy

Karen – Marketing Manager

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“On the first day, breakfast was a real challenge. Yogurt, cereal and butter were all out of the question so I was left with dry toast with marmite. I drank black tea during the day, which I don’t mind, and I also took some earl grey to work with me. However I did have a slight lapse when I returned from work, as I accidentally ate some chocolate without even thinking!

Day 2 wasn’t too bad, I googled ‘dairy free breakfast’ and there was literally 2 options, fruit or eggs. I opted for some bananas on toast. After work I was invited to an Italian restaurant for dinner, however I declined the invitation so I wasn’t faced with the temptation of cheesy pizza or pasta.

As the week went on, and work became busier I didn’t have the time to plan meals, and I began eating out more. This was a real struggle. Trying to find a sandwich at the train station without butter was impossible and there wasn’t much choice in the supermarket either, only the odd wrap to choose from.

I went to Thorpe Park at the weekend and was obviously faced with a lot of fast food eateries. I opted for a Burger King on the Saturday, and I asked for no cheese in my sandwich. I held the queue up for more than 10 minutes as they created my burger, which made me feel very embarrassed.

Reflecting on this week of giving up milk and dairy products, I would say I found it very hard to adapt to this lifestyle. I had to plan out what to eat, (as my staple fall back is always pasta and creme fraiche) and I felt very restricted in my diet, particularly at breakfast time. It was extremely difficult to buy pre packed food without milk ingredients, and I found eating out very frustratingly difficult, to the point the where I wouldn’t even go. However I did find that all the food I ate tasted okay, and it did force me make choices and eat things that I wouldn’t have otherwise.

Overall I think this week has definitely made me more conscious of allergens in food, and more empathetic toward allergy sufferers. It was so difficult to eat out or on the go unless you had something prepared, however it did make me eat more fruit, a habit I’ll try and keep up.”

Allergy Awareness Week


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*Where can you find it?*

Celery leaves, seeds, alt, salads, some meat products, root called celeriac, stock cubes and soups.

**Cereal Containing Gluten**

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You’ve got to look out wheat, rye, barley and oats.

*Where can you find it?*

Flour, some types of baking powder, batter, breadcrumbs, bread, cakes, couscous, meat products, pasta, pastry, sauces, soups and fried foods which are dusted with flour.

Check out our [Foods You Might Not Have Known Contain Gluten][1] article for more information.


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*Where can you find it?*

Some Thai and south east Asian curries or salads, shrimp paste, prawns, scampi, crabs, lobster.


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*Where can you find it?*

Cakes, some meat products, mayonnaise, mousses, pasta, quiche, sauces, pastries

Many foods are also glazed with egg, so always check the label.


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*Where can you find it?*

Fish sauces, pizzas, relishes, salad dressings, stock cubes and Worcestershire sauce.


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Lupin is a flower but it can also be found in flour.

*Where can you find it?*

Some types of bread, pastries and pasta.


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*Where can you find it?*

Butter, cheese, cream, milk powders and yogurt.

Many foods are brushed or glazed with milk, and in powdered soups and sauces.


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*Where can you find it?*

Mussels, land snails, squid and whelks, oyster sauce or as an ingredient in fish stews


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*Where can you find it?*

Liquid mustard, mustard powder, mustard seeds fall, breads, curries, marinades, some meat products, salad dressings, sauces and soups.


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Referring to nuts which grow on trees.

*Where can you find it?*

Cashew nuts, almonds, hazelnuts, breads, biscuits, crackers, desserts, nut powders, stir-fried dishes, ice cream, marzipan, nut oils and sauces.


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*Where can you find it?*

Biscuits, cakes, curries, desserts, some sauces, as well as in groundnut oil and peanut flour.

**Sesame seeds**

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*Where can you find it?*

Bread (burger buns), breadsticks, houmous, sesame oil and tahini. They are sometimes toasted and used in salads.


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*Where can you find it?*

Bean curd, edamame beans, miso paste, soya flour or tofu, textured soya protein, ice cream, meat products, sauces and vegetarian products.


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*Where can you find it?*

Raisins, dried apricots, prunes, some meat products, soft drinks, vegetables, wine and beer.

For more information check the [Food Standards Agency site][2]


Choc Chip Shortbread – Lazy Day

ilumi have chosen Lazy Day’s Chocolate Chip Shortbread as the second treat in our Valentines Day offer.

The Scottish shortbread looks as good as it tastes with its crunchy foundation sprinkled with delicious dark chocolate chips.

Free from gluten, wheat, diary and egg, the biscuit is a perfect way to enjoy a Valentines day treat but also recognise your free from needs.

To purchase this unique and tasty product use the code: SWEET30 at the checkout after you’ve spent £30 or more on ilumi products. Plus as part of our Valentines Day promotion, we’ll give you 10% off your order as well as an [extra treat*][1]

Ingredients: Flour (rice, potato, tapioca, corn), dairy-free margarine (vegetable oils, water, salt, emulsifier (mono-& diglycerides), natural vegetable colours (curcumin, annatto), natural flavouring), sugar, chocolate chips 9% (cocoa solids (51%). cocoa mass , sugar, soya lecithin, natural vanilla).

Allergy advice: Contains soya. Made in a nut free factory, however they cannot guarantee it is nut free

*Please note this offer is valid until Friday 13th February at 00:00. This offer excludes meal plans, banquets and hampers.


ilumi Complete Winter Recipe Collection


[![Download](/static/admin/img/media-document-logo.png “Download”) **Download the ilumi Winter Recipe Booklet here**](/media/document/5486aebc5f8ea/download “Download”)


Or you can download our full suite of Winter Recipes here – use these easy-to-print recipe cards and pop them in your recipe collection at home. Try an ilumi twist on a classic mid-week meal:

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[![Download](/static/admin/img/media-document-logo.png “Download”) Chilli Cottage Pie](/media/document/547888469c8e6/download “Download”) – make our take on a spicy, warming cottage pie, complete with a smooth sweet potato and parsnip topping.

**Buy the ingredient for [Chilli Con Carne][1] here.**

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[![Download](/static/admin/img/media-document-logo.png “Download”) Venison Casserole](/media/document/5485d49dbb994/download “Download”) with Pancetta & Sloe Gin – use the ilumi gluten-free casserole to fill individual pies with a perfected gluten-free pastry. Great for family and friends (or impressing the neighbours over the festive period!)

**Buy the key ingredient for [Venison Casserole with Pancetta & Sloe Gin][4] here.**

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[![Download](/static/admin/img/media-document-logo.png “Download”) Coq au Vin](/media/document/5485cc2a17476/download “Download”) – ilumi gluten-free Coq au Vin accompanied by more-ish savoury scones. Perfect for dipping and sharing.

**Buy the key ingredient for [Coq au Vin][2] here.**

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[![Download](/static/admin/img/media-document-logo.png “Download”) Pork, Mushroom & Madeira Casserole](/media/document/5478930058c04/download “Download”) – ilumi Pork Casserole with a unique addition of prunes for a sweet touch and crunchy cubed Parmentier potatoes and seasoned wilted spinach.

**Buy the key ingredient for the [Pork, Mushroom & Madeira Casserole][3] here.**

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Christmas Food & Wine matching

Many of us spend hours preparing a great Christmas dinner, yet we rarely think about the wine and refreshments. Anything can end up on the table from that bottle of Chardonnay you got for your birthday last year to that bottle of Prosecco you received from your work colleague following your promotion last year.

If you’re hosting the festive lunch year, we’re sure you’ll want to bang something down on the table that will not only impress but keep everyone at bay (especially if you’ve got most of the family round!). It can be easy to assume that because you’re serving a white meat you should also serve a white wine. However, this doesn’t have to be the case, here’s some tips for those of you who are unsure what wine to go for.

Turkey, like most poultry, is medium weight and is not powerfully favoured; whilst also having a relatively low fat content. Therefore, according to the fine wine merchants [Berry Bros. & Rudd][1] it is best served with either a full-bodied white or a medium-full red wine – or both if you want to spoil your guests for choice.

It’s also worth keeping in mind that most of the flavours from your Christmas lunch come from the accompaniments. Cranberry and redcurrant sauces are fruity and sweet and therefore will not go well with a mellow aged red wine. Instead choose a young, ripe and fruity wine. [Berry Bros. & Rudd][1] have therefore suggested selecting a good quality Californian Zinfandel or a Beaujolais Cru. If perhaps you prefer more traditionally English accompaniments like bread sauce and chipolata sausages, then a full-bodied Chardonnay, white Burgundy or a white southern Rhône will definitely go down a treat.

Wanting to be even more adventurous? Why not try making a festive cocktail – the perfect after dinner treat! Click [HERE][2]for a delicious Winter Pimm’s Punch recipe courtesy of BBC Good Food – we can’t wait to try it – who said Pimm’s had to be reserved exclusively for summer! Or if you prefer a snowball over Christmas click [HERE][3] for a warming flavourful recipe.