Is Prosecco gluten free and vegan?

I am developing our spring and summer cake ranges at the moment. After the success of our gin and tonic cakes, it seemed like a good idea to try another favourite drink in cake form. Prosecco is a delicious and much-loved Italian white wine, which seems perfect for a spring cake.

Let’s start with the good news. Is Prosecco gluten free? I would never say that all Prosecco is 100% gluten free, but I think it is fair to say, it is pretty much gluten free. Obviously, wines aren’t fermented from gluten-containing ingredients, like beer or whisky are, but there are possible sources of gluten contamination. For example, some wine barrels are sealed with a gluten-containing paste. It is possible that this gluten could contaminate the wine inside. However, Prosecco is produced using the Charmat-Martinotti method, which uses steel tanks, rather than casks or fermenting in the bottle. This means Prosecco is cheaper to produce, and removes the potential gluten source of the cask sealant. Hooray!

Photo by Mikes Photos on Pexels.com

Is Prosecco vegan? Maybe. The Charmat-Matinotti method requires clarification of the Prosecco, after the second fermentation. This process is called fining. A fining agent is added to the wine to bond with suspended particles, such as grape fragments, and even soluble substances, such as tannins. Some fining agents are of animal origin: egg whites, casein from milk, gelatin, and isinglass from the swim bladders of fish (as an aside, how did anyone discover this? “Well, Gianni, we’ve tried tiger spleen and armadillo kidney, but it’s not clarifying the wine. Let’s give it one last go with a goldfish swim bladder and see what happens.”) Wines made using animal-origin fining agents may be a concern to vegans. The good news is that there are non-animal alternatives made from minerals, for example bentonite clay or activated charcoal. The only way to know is to check the brand of Prosecco you are buying. Luckily, the fantastic website, Barnivore, has already done the hard work for you. You can be sure that we will check the brands we use to make sure that they are vegan.

Is Prosecco gluten free and vegan? Very probably, and maybe!

Is Gin & Tonic Vegan and Gluten Free?

I don’t know about you, but, in these troubling times, I find comfort in the minutiae of life.  There’s nothing like disappearing down a rabbit hole of information to escape reality.

At the moment, my mind is often preoccupied with thinking about new recipes for The Allergy Brothers Cakes.  I am wondering if it is possible to make a vegan and gluten free gin and tonic cake…  Not for the Allergy Brothers themselves, they are a bit young! Maybe for all the parents contemplating the school summer holidays?  The obvious first question is “is gin and tonic vegan and gluten free?”

Gin is, according to the Oxford Dictionary, “a clear alcoholic spirit distilled from grain or malt and flavoured with juniper berries”.  Grain and malt doesn’t sound very gluten free.  However, as the gluten proteins are removed during the distillation process, all spirits, unless a gluten-containing ingredient is added after distillation, are gluten free.  However, some very, very sensitive individuals might react to gin distilled from grain and malt.  In the UK, Chase’s gin is made from an apple base, and not grain.  However, gin is gluten free enough to get a thumbs up from the Coeliac UK website so I feel confident with sticking with my old favourite, Bombay Sapphire.

Bombay Sapphire is gluten free, but is it vegan?  Luckily, there is a fantastic website called Barnivore that allows you to check whether specific alcoholic drinks are vegan.  Bombay Sapphire is marked as vegan friendly.  A very few gins are not because gelatin is used to remove impurities in the filtration process, because honey is added as a flavouring, or because beeswax is used to seal the casks.

Now to check the tonic water!  Tonic water is just carbonated water with quinine and flavourings and sweeteners added.  It should be naturally gluten free.  It should also be vegan.  However, some vegans are concerned that some tonic waters, particularly American brands, contain High Fructose Corn Syrup.  Some vegan writers felt that this was just a bad product to consume, and were concerned about the level of pollution caused by mass corn production.  I am planning on using Fever Tree tonic water, which is made from Natural Quinine, Cane Sugar, Spring Water, Citric Acid, and Natural Flavours, so my recipe will be HFCS free.

Phew!  Gin and tonic is vegan and gluten free!  I think I might have a glass to celebrate.  Purely, for research, of course.

Home-made Gluten Free Goujons/Nuggets

This is a very multi-purpose method.  You can use it to coat tofu, white fish, chicken, quorn, etc.  I used turkey strips.  I haven’t provided exact amounts of ingredients because the quantities will vary each time.  If your children like cooking and getting a bit messy then they will love making this recipe.

Ingredients

Something to coat in batter (tofu, white fish, quorn, chicken, turkey, vegetables, etc)

Gluten free seasoned flour (I used cornflour with salt and pepper; you add extra herbs, spices, or chilli)

Gram flour

Unsweetened cereal (I used cornflakes; Rice Krispies or spelt flakes would work as well)

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C.
  2. Cut whatever you are battering into appropriate size pieces.
  3. Prepare your coatings.  You will need a bowl of seasoned, gluten free flour, a bowl of gram flour mixed with water to the consistency of egg, and a bowl of your crushed cereal.
  4. Prepare a baking tray with baking parchment.
  5. Coat the item in the gluten free, seasoned flour, then the gram flour batter, and finally roll it in the cereal so it is completely coated.  Place the item on the baking tray.20180116_172846
  6. Bake the goujons/nuggets for 20 minutes or until you are sure that the inside is fully cooked through.20180116_163814

 

 

Decadent Saffron and Mushroom Soup

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I love soups because they are frugal and healthy, but sometimes it’s nice to be a bit extravagant.  This soup fits the bill.  Saffron is the world’s most expensive spice, but it adds a beautiful colour and an earthy, but fresh flavour.  I enhanced the earthiness with some Portobello mushrooms, and then added more richness with some almond cream.

I made the soup in my soup maker. You need to make sure all the vegetables are chopped to approximately the same size

Ingredients
2 shallots, peeled and chopped

2-3 large Portobello mushrooms, peeled and chopped

3 small potatoes, peeled if necessary and cubed

1 Knorr vegetable stock pot or stock of your choice

1 carton of Ecomil Organic Almond Cream 200 ml
1 carton of almond milk (I used Ecomil Organic Sugar Free Natural Almond Drink)

1 pinch of saffron

1. Chop all the vegetables to roughly the same size.
2. Put all the ingredients, except the almond milk,  in your soup maker.
3. Add almond milk up to the minimum liquid level
4. Choose the blended soup option.
5. Get on with something else.
6. Come back to your decadent Saffron and Mushroom soup because you are so very worth it!

NuGo Dark Peanut Butter Cup

Ingredients – Dark chocolate (Unsweetened chocolate, Cane sugar, Cocoa butter), Non-GMO soy crisp (Non-GMO soy protein isolate, Tapioca starch, Salt), Tapioca syrup, Agave syrup, Non-GMO Brown crisp rice, Ground peanuts, Peanut flour, Rice bran, Gum acacia, Peanut oil, Natural flavour, Soy lecithin, Salt.

Contains Peanut and Soy.  Manufactured on equipment that also processes products containing tree nuts, milk, and egg.  Product is produced under Kosher supervision and is certified Pareve.

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I was pulling a late night working on my lap top and decided I needed something to give me an energy boost.  This definitely hit the spot. There was a generous layer of dark chocolate, and it was pretty sugary.  The NuGo bar was crispy and light too.  This bar fulfilled all my requirements and fuelled me for another hour with my nose to the spreadsheet grindstone.

 

Twp Jack O Lanterns with bags of sweets

Trick Or Treat With Allergies

This is the first year that the Allergy Brothers have shown any interest in Hallowe’en.  They decided that they would like to have a small party and hand out sweets to the trick or treaters.

Twp Jack O Lanterns with bags of sweets

I wanted to have a range of treats to accommodate as many food needs as possible.  I was surprised how easy it was to find allergen free sweets.  The Monster Mallows are gluten free and it turns out absolutely yummy.  The marshmallow is creamy and chewy, and the chocolate coating actually tasted like nice chocolate; in fact, it reminded me of the caramel taste of Galaxy chocolate.  The Swizzels Monster Treats mix contains soya, but it is otherwise free from gluten, dairy, and egg.  The Swizzels Double Lollies are actually suitable for the Allergy Brothers as they don’t contain soya either.  We also have some glow sticks as non-food treats.

I would love to know about any more of your tips and suggestions for Hallowe’en in the comments!