The Norton Dog, Suffolk, UK

The Norton Dog is a traditional-looking pub in the tiny village of Norton in Suffolk, except it has a slightly less traditional sign outside.

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Yes, that’s right.  The Norton Dog offers a full gluten free menu at lunch and dinner. I chose a Norton Hog Roast – Old Spot Pork Belly, stuffing, apple sauce and crackling served with a gluten free bun and chips.  Oh my, it was good.  The pork belly literally melted in my mouth.  The apple sauce was tart and cut through the unctuousness of the pork.  I would eat it again right now, if I could.

20180410_212359In the name of research, I made room for dessert.  I chose a chocolate brownie served with cherries and ice cream.  It was rich and satisfying, although I sort of wished that I had shared this with my friend instead of ordering one each.  The chocolate was quite “heady”.

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The food was very good for a pub, but it was the little details that really showed the quality.  My friend ordered tea with dessert.  When the tea arrived, it was loose leafed and the milk came in a little churn.  A whimsical detail and the extra effort involved in using loose leaf tea took that from a regular drink to something a little special.

20180410_212453.jpgIn summary, I love where I live, but I wish I lived a little closer to The Norton Dog.  I wonder if they would consider adding a North Essex pub to their portfolio…

Tolerant Foods Red Lentil Rotini & Violife Prosociano

I have been a bit poorly (that will serve me right for crowing so much about how great I felt doing Veganuary!), but I have not neglected the blog entirely.  In fact, I have been continuing my search for the perfect Allergy Brothers friendly, easy, mid-week meal.  Last week we tried red lentil pasta and vegan parmesan.

Ingredients Tolerant Foods Red Lentil Rotini – Non-GMO, organic red lentils.  That’s it.

Ingredients Violife Prosociano – Water, Coconut oil (17%), Modified starch, Starch, Sea salt, Rice protein, Vegan parmesan flavour, Olive extract, Colour – b-carotene

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I’ll start with reviewing the pasta.  The Allergy Brothers sniffed it and refused to try it.  I poo-pooed their fears , and tucked in.  “This is delicious,” I said.  And it was.  Just like normal pasta, but weirdly filling.  It was easily a meal with just some cheese shavings on.  And then, I had an allergic reaction to it.  The boys are so much better than I am at detecting which things will make us ill!  So if you are not allergic to this then I would recommend it.

The vegan parmesan was pretty good too.  It had a hard texture; this is especially impressive when you consider that vegan cheeses are often a bit soggy.  There was a strong flavour; the smell was too strong for the Allergy Brothers, but this wasn’t for them anyway.  It was really very convincing.  Now the negatives, it is pricey (we paid £4.90 for 235g), but then so is real parmesan.  I also didn’t like the vague ingredients.  What kind of starch?  Rice?  Potato?  What is vegan parmesan flavour?

So in summary, this would indeed be an easy, mid-week meal, but just not for the Allergy Brothers.

a rank of LIdl trolleys.

Don’t discount the Discount Supermarkets! #Lidl Surprise

When we first discovered that the boys had so many allergies, my plan was to take out a second mortgage and shop at Waitrose.  I enjoyed my trip around Waitrose and spent quite a lot of money, but I was really surprised how little there was in the way of Free From foods.

It turns out that the perceived quality of a supermarket is no measure of how good it is for Free From food. Lidl is my secret weapon.  Lidl doesn’t actually have a Free From foods section so you do need to put a bit of time into it.  However, after a few trips around, you will find that there are Free From food bargains in every section.

AProducts from LIdl photographed agsinst some shopping bags

For example, these were the extra products I discovered that boys can eat during one trip.  It doesn’t include all the ingredients we usually buy, such as fruit and vegetables.  It also doesn’t include the extra products that I saved back for individual review.  So that week, I found French fries (which cook really well but don’t have any allergen-containing coating), poppadoms for a Saturday night treat with dinner, soya milk, smoked almonds (which were really, really delicious), salted crisp sticks, and dark chocolate. The dark chocolate was a real find because it’s only ingredients are sugar, cocoa mass, cocoa butter, sunflower lecithin, and vanilla flavouring.  That’s right; a bargain product that doesn’t use soya lecithin.  I  shared a bar with a family that has to avoid soya in all forms, and it’s been a big hit in their household.

Products from Lidl's Greek range next to some shopping bags,

Another fun aspect of shopping at Lidl is that they have some products that are only available for a short period.  These are often themed around food from a certain country.  I was pleased to discover that many of the foods in the Greek range were suitable for the boys.  The little sesame bars are perfect for lunchboxes, and we are already fans of Halva.

You might have also noticed that there are two packets of sausages in that week’s haul too.  British sausages usually contain wheat rusk.  The gluten free sausages that don’t are often very expensive, and they usually contain other ingredients that the Allergy Brothers can’t eat.  Lidl, of course, is a German company so they sell German sausages, which are all meat.  We were spoilt for choice for Free From sausages, although they were not advertised or labelled as that.  To be honest, none of us were very keen on the Bockwurst, but the Bratwurst were very popular with the Allergy Brothers.  I was pleased to discover a quick dinner meal for the boys at a reasonable price.

Also, as a final bonus, you can feel good about shopping at Lidl because they pay their staff well.  Now, that is a #Lidl Surprise that I approve of!

A bargain is good, but a freebie is better!  Don’t forget to enter our giveaway.  Only a few hours left to go before it closes!