World Vegan Month

It’s World Vegan Day today and it’s the start of World Vegan Month. The annual event  is celebrated across the month of November by vegans around the world as they encourage non-vegans to abstain from eating animal products to show support and celebrate animal rights.

The Day was established in 1994 by Louise Wallis, then President & Chair of The Vegan Society, to commemorate its 50th anniversary and in 2014 the 70th anniversary of the term ‘vegan’.

The ‘World Vegan Society’ which also celebrated its 70th anniversary last year, asks people to ‘take the pledge’ to investigate and learn more about the benefits of a plant-based diet and vegan living.

Taking the 30 day vegan pledge is simple, all you need to do is sign up on the Vegan Society site, and you’ll receive advice on all aspects of a vegan diet – including lots of healthy, easy and unusual vegan recipes to try out, from The Vegan Society.

According to the society, The Vegan Pledge has helped over a thousand people go vegan and stay vegan with its regularly updated tips and support. If you would like to get involved with this great annual celebration of veganism, follow this link.

If you’re planning on going vegan we have a wide range of vegan dishes, sides, sauces, nibbles and banquets available in our online store. Stock up now for World Vegan Month by clicking here.


Gluten Free Gem – Restaurant Review

2 Oxford Place, Leeds

A couple of colleagues & I went out recently to celebrate the launch of the new ilumi noodle pots – all our hard work in the design, recipe development, overcoming production issues and tight deadlines. And where better to go for lunch than a gluten free restaurant! As the brand manager of ilumi, I’m not personally gluten intolerant but this restaurant had such good reviews it was a natural choice while I was working in our Leeds office for the day.  I called to book the table and was asked if I had any other dietary requirements “besides gluten free” – I thought it was refreshing to be asked before even arriving at the door.


A little quirky place just next to the Town Hall, 2 Oxford Place was a welcome sight full of delightful British eccentricities and cosy décor. Dainty teapots, mis-matched tea cups and crystal glassware decorate every available space. My colleague and I got a table near the window which was a treat, (especially in the Autumn sunshine) – I’m not sure the larger tables at the back of the restaurant would have such a bright and airy mealtime.


The menu was wide and varied with a good selection of everything from salads, sandwiches, pies and sharing boards. And all gluten free of course! Alternative dairy-free and vegan menus were also available, which was again, refreshing to know specific dietary requirements were catered for (without the customer having to ask).

I selected the BBQ pulled pork burger with Monterey Jack cheese, while my companion had the Risotto of the Day – a beetroot risotto which (as you can see by the pictures!) was a plateful of pink perfection!  They also featured a soup of the day (Mushroom) and a Quiche of the Day (Tomato and Goats Cheese). My burger came literally oozing out of its’ gluten free “English muffin” (a bun) – you certainly wouldn’t have been able to eat this with your hands! The roll was nicely toasted with a floury appearance (although it obviously wasn’t …!) The burger was a real treat for a Thursday afternoon.


The great thing about this restaurant was the fact that a customer wouldn’t even have to ask or blink twice about ordering something that traditionally would have been unavailable to them – (I’m sure) giving coeliacs and those with a gluten intolerance a sense of freedom and spontaneity when ordering. The other thing about my meal is that I ate a massive burger on a sunny lunchtime without that heavy, sleepy, sluggish feeling afterwards (and I’m writing this about 2 hours after I left the restaurant – and I’m just comfortably full!)


I’d heard on the grapevine that getting a table at this place can be tricky so we were lucky to get a booking – particularly this is meant to be difficult at the weekend. I would suggest this is a great place for a bite to eat at lunch and the afternoon teas would be a relaxed place to get together with a friend or two. If you’re in the Leeds area, it’s definitely recommended – and currently as the #6 best restaurant on Tripadvisor in Leeds, it obviously appeals to more than those with dietary requirements.

Tom Catterick – Interview


Tom Catterick




Fly half


Newcastle Falcons


I started playing rugby when I was about 4 or 5 when my dad took me down to our local club. Since then I’ve never really looked back to be honest, I played pretty much any sport growing up but rugby was the most constant.

I moved school in year 8 to Barnard Castle and it was there where I was picked up by the Newcastle Falcons Academy aged 15.

I continued training at school and with the academy, and then at 18 I signed a contract to go full time with the 1st team, and i’m still here today, enjoying it as much as ever.

Career highlight?

Earning my first England age group cap at under 16 level against Wales

Talk us through your weekly schedule…

If we have a game on Saturday our weekly schedule usually starts with a Monday morning meeting about the previous game, one meeting as a team and then separate meeting as forwards and backs.

After the meeting we walk through any little detail changes we think we need to clear up, then its recovery time with food and massages.

Tuesday is the high intensity day where we will do a weights session and two field sessions, the first session we separate into backs and forwards and concentrate on what we need to achieve as a unit and our second session is a team session, usually with a fair bit of contact and a lot of running.

Wednesday is our day to relax and recover from the day before, so some of us head to our gym and get in the pool or Jacuzzi.

Thursday is what we called a moderate intensity day where we have a gym session and one field session that contains pretty much no contact and a little less running.

Friday is a simple team run where we practice some of the plays we want to take into the game the next day. It’s a very short, sharp, high intensity session that lasts no more than 30 mins.

Saturday is game day and Sunday is a day off with some recovery involved.

Tom catterick falcons.jpg 2

Talk us through your diet. What do you eat? why? and how does this effect your performance and recovery?

I like to eat a lot of chicken. It’s simple, easy to cook and tastes pretty good no matter what sauce you have with it. I eat a lot of rice because, once again, it’s very easy to cook and i’m not the heaviest guy so I need to keep my carbs in there to keep my weight on and the energy high.

The last thing you want to do when training a lot is have no energy through cutting out carbs, as it can lead to lower muscle function and increase in injury risk.

As a professional rugby player, which foods are essential in your diet?

Chicken, turkey, pasta , rice and avocado.

Why are these foods essential?

These food are essential for me because it means I have a good balance of protein, carbs and fats.

They allow my body to recover from training and also refuel the energy stores that have been depleted from running around and tackling guys a lot bigger than I am.

If you’ve had an over indulgent summer and you want to get fit and ready for the new season, what do you do? How do you change your diet?

If I’ve had a big summer, the first thing I do is get back into the gym. I start trying to get back into good habits with lifting weights and running. Of course along with that I alter my diet, so that if I’ve put a little bit too much fat on, ill drop my carbs a little and up my fats and protein, still keeping carbs in there but almost always around training times.

When you’re injured how do you adjust your diet to prevent weight gain?

Big thing when your injured is adjusting your portion sizes. If you tend to eat exactly the same amount as you did when you were training with the team that’s when you gain weight. so I adjust my portions, and again, base all my carbs around my training times – very similar to my off season training.

Finally…..who’ll win the world cup?

I’d like to think England can on their home patch!


National Cupcake Week

National Cupcake Week is dedicated to promoting the innovation of the industry and to helping the bakery business boost their sales.

The week, which has been running since 2013, is organised by British Baker magazine which is the only title to cover the whole of the baking industry.

Their aim is to try an encourage and celebrate exotic flavours and creative recipes of cupcakes from all over Britain.

We thought we’d do our bit for the gluten and milk free community and share some of our favourite free from cupcake recipes with you so you can celebrate national cupcake week in style!

– These delightful gluten free vanilla cupcakes come from our neighbours Delicious Alchemy, check out the recipe below:

gf cupcakes

For the cupcakes
1 x 400g Delicious Alchemy vanilla sponge mix
180g unsalted butter or dairy free alternative
3 large eggs
20ml water

For the buttercream
150g unsalted butter or 120g dairy free alternative
300g icing sugar
1½ tbsp milk or dairy free alternative
Sprinkles for decoration
For the cake
Preheat the oven to 180C/160C fan. Line a cupcake tin with 12 paper cases.

Make sure your butter (or dairy free alternative) is soft. Place the vanilla cake mix, butter (or dairy free alternative), eggs and water into a large bowl. Beat together with an electric whisk for 15 seconds. Stop, scrape down the bowl and mix for a further 10 seconds. Divide the mixture between the cupcake cases, filling three-quarters full. Bake for 18-20 minutes until risen and springy to the touch.

Leave to cool in the tin for 3 minutes before lifting out and leaving to cool completely.

For the buttercream
In a large bowl, beat the butter or dairy free alternative with a spatula or electric whisk until it is soft and smooth. Sift in half the icing sugar and mix well until combined. Sift over the remaining icing sugar and mix well, adding the milk or dairy free alternative as required, to create a soft spreadable icing. Beat well to make it light and fluffy.

To decorate
Spoon the icing into a piping bag fitted with a large star or plain nozzle. Pipe swirls of icing onto the top of your cooled cupcakes. Alternatively you can spread it on using a butter knife.

Decorate your cupcakes as desired. We love a scattering of colourful sprinkles.

– Great dairy free chocolate cupcake recipe from the wonderful Recipe Girl:

dairy free cupcakes


3 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups granulated white sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 cup melted coconut oil, cooled (can sub vegetable or canola oil)
2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups cold water
1 cup dairy free mini chocolate chips (I used the “Enjoy Life” brand)


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line cupcake pans with 30 cupcake papers.
Sift the dry ingredients into a large bowl (flour, sugar, salt, baking soda and cocoa powder) and whisk to combine. Add oil, vinegar, vanilla and water to the dry ingredients. Whisk to combine the wet and dry ingredients. Stir in the chocolate chips.
Bake for 18 minutes, or until the cupcakes are firm to the touch in the middles. Let cool completely, and frost with your favorite dairy free icing. See the tips below for my icing recommendation!

– We’ll end with one for the dairy and gluten free cake lovers, we found this recipe on, take a look at how you can make these petit sponge cakes:

gluten and dairy free


180g plain flour
200g sugar
80ml vegetable oil)
240ml water
1 teaspoon gluten free baking powder
1 teaspoon gluten-free bicarbonate of soda
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon vinegar or 1 tablespoon orange juice


Preheat oven to 180°C Oil and line a round cake tin.
Mix the dry ingredients together in a large bowl. Use an egg whisk to aerate- their is no need to sift the dry ingredients.
Using a mixing jug, beat the oil, vinegar, vanilla and water together. Mix well.
Make a well in the flour mix and add the wet mix. Beat this together slowly and when mixed through beat with a wooden spoon for a couple of minutes.
Pour the mixture into the prepared tin. The mixture should be the consistency of a thick batter. Cook 45-60 minutes.
When cooked, remove the cake from the oven and allow the cake to cool in the tin for 5-10 minutes before turning out to cool.
Decorate as desired.



Coeliac Disease Myths

“Coeliac disease is just a food allergy, right?”

As you coeliacs know very well, coeliac disease is an autoimmune condition, like diabetes. Therefore it is not a gluten or wheat allergy neither is it an intolerance to gluten.

“A bit of gluten won’t hurt…”

Well it will, the smallest amount of gluten can cause diarrhea and stomach pain for up to a week. So when your friend thinks that 1 biscuit won’t hurt, don’t listen.

“I don’t have the same symptoms that you did so I mustn’t have coeliac disease…”

Symptoms can range from nausea, sickness, bloating, diarrhea and anemia, however you don’t have to have all the symptoms to have coeliac disease. Experts within the field of coeliac disease recommend that family members should be tested as a proactive approach to diagnosis, as many family members of sufferers are more at risk of developing the condition.

“You can ‘grow out’ of having coeliac disease”

Coeliac disease is a lifelong condition. The gluten-free diet is the only treatment for coeliac disease. If gluten is introduced back into the diet at a later date, the immune system will react and the gut lining will become damaged again.

“I’ve been on a gluten free diet and feel fine, so I mustn’t have coeliac disease…

If you think you may have coeliac disease, as you’re suffering from symptoms DO NOT prescribe yourself to the gluten free diet, you should visit your GP as soon as you can. If you go on a gluten free diet before you’ve been to see a doctor this could prove very detrimental to your diagnosis, as your blood test results will come back negative therefore delaying your treatment, which will lead to further complications.

Living the ‘Free-From’ Lifestyle

‘Free-From’ is one of the largest growing food categories in the world, with a monumental growth over the past 5 years.

The market is reportedly worth a huge £355.1m, and there seems that nothing can stunt ‘Free-From’s’ steady rise, with a year on year growth of 19.9%. []

You’ll also be surprised to know that the majority of gluten free consumers aren’t even immune to gluten or have any food related condition.

This is due to the increase of celebrity endorsement from famous faces such as Miley Cyrus, Victoria Beckham and Gwyneth Paltrow who have all broadcasted the benefits of a gluten-less diet.

But will the boom in ‘Free-From’ products and the increase in availability of the dishes be a positive or a negative for people who suffer from coeliac disease?

Many coeliacs struggle with people who aren’t gluten intolerant as their condition is overshadowed by people looking for a way to lose weight.

Dining out can be a problem, as sufferers asking for amendments or special permutations to be made to their dish, don’t feel like they are taken seriously.

This is because gluten free *lifestylers* will ask for their food to be redesigned and then happily gulp down a few glasses of wheat filled lager.

This kind of behaviour has lead to generalisation’s to be made about the ‘Free-From’ lifestyle, as many consider it just another annoying celebrity induced fad.

However, there is another side to the coin, as there are genuine reasons why non-ceoliacs would cut gluten out of their lives.

There are many family members of coeliacs who have turned to a gluten free diet to try and de-stigmatise their partner, child or sibling.

Also, many people trying this diet have a non-coeliac gluten sensitivity – they feel lethargic and moody after eating the protein, so therefore have a medical obligation to try alternatives.

Either way, coeliac or non-coeliac the ‘Free-From’ category has taken off, and with the sector being predicted to be worth over £538m by 2018, we can see this debate going on for a little while longer.

National Curry week: Get your curry in a hurry

As those brisk winter days draw near, there is no better way to warm yourself up than with a fragrant aromatic curry. Here at ilumi we have over 10 different varieties under our belt (including two award winners), [National Curry Week][1] is the perfect excuse to broaden your horizons and give them a try! Not only are all of our meals gluten, nut and dairy free they’re also low in both fat and calories – a guilt-free worry-free takeaway.

The majority of you will probably be most familiar with Indian Curry – in name, if not in taste. An Indian curry traditionally contains a mixture of cumin, turmeric and coriander, but plenty more levels of seasoning and spices will probably make up your local favourite. It’s difficult to categorise all the different regional variations under one umbrella, so we won’t begin to try!

Here are our favourite ilumi Indian curries:

[Lamb Rogan Josh][2]

[Kerala Chicken Curry][3]

[Vegetable and Chickpea Jalfrezi][4]

[Cardamom Chicken][5]

South East Asian flavours are becoming a huge part of the UK restaurant scene, which comes as no surprise considering the cuisine is not only tasty but healthful and attractive too! South East Asian Curry is packed full of Thai flavours often including lemon grass, chili, lime juices and fish sauce. Traditionally hotter & more fragrant than Indian curries.

Try our authentic ilumi varieties:

[Aromatic Thai Red Chicken Curry][6]

[Geng Gari Curry][7]

[South Vietnamese Fish Curry][8]

[Chicken Laksa][9]

[Chicken Massaman Curry][10]

Don’t forget we also have a number of tasty side dishes to complete a curry feast – try spicy or plain rice, chickpea mixes or lentil dhal.


Delicious warming meals for autumn!

October is here and those crisp autumn mornings have arrived. The leaves are starting to change colour, temperatures have dipped and that brisk breeze is slowly setting in.

As the first signs of the colder season sneak in, summer feels like a distant memory. However all is not lost! There’s plenty of things to love about autumn; open fires and hot drinks replace sunburn, insect repellent and stifling humidity! At last we can finally feel the benefit of a heart-warming meal whilst curled up in front of the television – and that’s exactly where we come in!

We’ve devised a list of our top 5 ilumi comforting meals that will help keep you warm this autumn:

[Coq au Vin][1] – This classic rustic French dish has stood the test of time. We’ve given our version a little ilumi twist by combining Alec Mercer’s tender free-range chicken with a medium bodied Beaujolais wine, then adding authentic Italian pancetta to give the perfect touch of smokiness.

[Tender Pork with Suffolk Cider and Wholegrain Mustard][2] – Our Head Recipe Developer, Annette, describes our Tender Pork as a “hug of a dish”. When served with crushed potatoes, it make for a warming and genuinely filling meal, perfect for a chilly October evening.

[Beef Casserole][3] – Casseroles are the ultimate winter signature dish – guaranteed to make you feel full and warm. Our version combines slow cooked beef in a fresh beef stock, red wine and thyme gravy with diced potato and chunky vegetables.

[Lamb in Gluten Free Ale with Haricot Beans][4] – We’ve combined our tender Lamb with Yorkshire Against the Grain Gluten Free Ale to create a deep, rich flavour that evokes chilli autumn evenings spent by the fire – we recommend serving with mashed potato and wilted spinach!

[Beef Meatballs in Tomato Sauce][5] – A moreish family friendly dish. Deliciously seasoned minced beef balls in a hearty chunky tomato sauce. Perfect paired with our [Doves Farm Brown Rice Spaghetti][6].

These warming dishes are ideal as a hearty filling work lunch, a convenient family dinner, or a guilt-free substitute to the usual Saturday night takeaway. Best enjoyed curled up on the sofa, in front of the fire armed with the TV remote in one hand and a glass of wine in the other!

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