Cornetto (GF, vegan)

Sorry for the lack of blog posting.  We have been very busy behind the scenes with some exciting new projects, and also enjoying having some holiday time with the Allergy Brothers.  There has even been some almost summery weather for a day or two, which fully justified testing these new Cornettos/Cornetti.  When I saw them in the supermarket, I let out a very audible squee of delight.

INGREDIENTS

Water, sugar, vegetable oils (coconut, sunflower), glucose syrup, glucose-fructose syrup, maize starch, corn flour, HAZLENUTS (1.5%), fat reduced cocoa powder, SOY extract (1%), emulsifiers (mono- and di-glycerides of fatty acids, sunflower lecithin, ammonium phosphatides), stabilisers (guar gum, locust bean gum, carrageenan), flavourings, salt.  May contain: milk.

So was my delight premature?  This might be a me thing, but I think the best bit of a Cornetto is the chocolate at the bottom of the cone: practical (it stops any melted ice cream running out) and delicious.  I am pleased to say that the gluten free cone is very crisp and tastes like a nicer waffle cone. The dairy free chocolate is acceptable. I was a bit concerned about the actual ice cream because coconut is an ingredient and it can give me an allergic reaction.  I can only guess from the lack of reaction and the fact that there was no noticeable coconut flavour that there really isn’t much coconut in this.  In fact, it tasted like not very nice, cheap ice cream.  A bit disappointing, really.  Why didn’t they use the same recipe as Swedish Glace ice cream, which is made by the same parent company (Walls, well ultimately Unilever) as Cornettos?

May we recommend Booja Booja icecreams instead?

Cream of Mushroom Soup (GF, DF, Vegan)

As much as I adore my beloved soupmaker, I had kind of hoped to be moving out of comforting, hot soup season and into Spring.  Clearly, the weather has other ideas.  This soup was inspired by two new products: Ecomil Béchamel almond cream and Knorr Mushroom stock pots.

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 mushroom stock pot or stock of your choice
1 carton of Ecomil Bechamel Cream 200 ml
1 carton of almond milk (I used Ecomil Organic Sugar Free Natural Almond Drink)

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. Leave the soupmaker to do its thing, and come back to your food hug! Deeply flavoured and delicious cream of mushroom soup.

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A secret weapon for gluten free/vegan eating on the road!

The Allergy Family recently made the journey from our home in the South East of England to visit family in Yorkshire.  We travelled along the M1/A1, which is the main route up the middle of England.  Usually, it is hard for us to eat in motorway service stations.  We were very pleased to discover a new chain of restaurants, El Mexicana, which has  several branches around the UK, including several service stations.  It is possible to eat gluten free, vegan, and even gluten free and vegan there easily.

You start by choosing your base; both the salad and corn tortillas are gluten free.  You then add your filling, with a choice of chicken, pulled pork, beef, and two vegetarian options.  You add the extras that you want rice, refried beans, cheese, sour cream, etc.  Finally, it is topped with a salsa of your choice.

 

20180307_135309The front tortilla in the photograph above is vegan and gluten free.  The base is a corn tortilla.  The filling is vegetable chilli with rice, pinto beans, onions, peppers and lettuce.  It is topped with tomatillo salsa.  It tasted amazing.  Fresh and flavourful.  I really can’t understand why there was a queue for McDonald’s when I could walk straight up to the counter here and get something much healthier that tasted so much better.

Unfortunately, their gluten control was a little variable.  We visited two branches: Peterborough and Cambridge.  The staff member at the Cambridge branch took great care.  She put on fresh gloves to make our order and wrapped the tortillas in foil so that when they went in the griddle they didn’t touch the same metal surfaces as the wheat products.  The staff member at Peterborough was clearly new to the job and wasn’t quite sure what she was doing generally.  She didn’t know to put the tortillas in foil before heating them, for example.  At both branches, the corn tortillas were stored in a separate sealed box away from the wheat products.

Thanks, El Mexicana, for making it a little easier for us to visit our family!

Allergy Mum and the Quest for the Holy Granola

The Allergy Brothers are creatures of habit and so they have their breakfast routine perfectly honed.  Allergy Little has almond milk mixed with chocolate Nesquik powder (surprisingly dairy free), and Nature’s Path Chocolate Munch.  Allergy Big likes to start the day with corn wraps filled with peanut butter and Dutch breakfast sprinkles.  I am still searching for my breakfast nirvana….

I really like Granola because of its versatility.  I like that you can have a bowl of it for breakfast, and then snack on the clumps later in the day.  I decided to start my quest for my perfect granola close to home with Essex-based company, The Moral Munch.  I tried their Super-seeded date and cacao granola.  It’s suitable for vegans, but I completely forgot that the oats were not gluten free.  Delicious and recommended, but not for me.

I decided to take a leaf out of Allergy Little’s book and try a Nature’s Path product, specifically their Nice and Nobbly Pumpkin Seed, Almond and Raisin Granola.  This product is gluten free and vegan.  It is incredibly sweet (raw cane sugar is listed as the second largest ingredient after gluten-free oats), but really quite moreish.  I was happily snacking away on the granola (straight from the packet while watching TV; I am classy) when I realised that I didn’t feel that great and that my snacking hand was really hurting.  I was surprised to see that my skin was having a reaction to one of the ingredients.  I suspect coconut, as it is an Allergy Brother allergen.

I have come to the conclusion that my perfect granola is not out there as a ready-to-buy product.  I am going to have to make my own granola, and so my quest for the holy granola continues…

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What the food is Xanthan Gum?

I recently had a complete baking fail.  I had a terrible migraine, but it was Cake Friday!  I knew the Allergy Brothers would be disappointed if I didn’t make them their Friday afternoon chocolate cake.  Unfortunately, in my bleary-eyed state, I reached for the Xanthan Gum packet rather than the baking powder packet; in my defence, they are the same shape.  Even more unfortunately, I noticed that the cake mixture had a very strange texture, but my overwhelmed brain couldn’t work out why so I baked it anyway.  The Allergy Brothers were not impressed to discover that I had basically cooked them a large, round, brown-coloured piece of chewing gum.  It was beyond horrible.  It did make me wonder “what is Xanthan gum?” though!  This is what I found out.

Is Xanthan gum a natural product?

No, Xanthan gum is a food additive, that is produced by fermenting a carbohydrate (a substance that contains sugar) with Xanthomonas campestris bacteria, then processing it.

Why is Xanthan gum used in food products?

Xanthan gum is often used to replace the effects of gluten in gluten-free baking.  Gluten is stretchy and gives gluten-containing baked goods a nice, airy texture.

Xanthan gum can also be used to add thickness, keep textures from changing, and hold ingredients in place.

Is Xanthan gum safe to eat?

It seems so.  Both animal and human studies  suggest that the worst side effects seem to be a bit of wind and laxative effects.  However, infants under the age of one year should not be given formula thickened with Xanthan-gum based products because of an increased risk of necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC).

Can Xanthan gum cause allergic reactions?

Potentially in those who are hypersensitive to their allergens.  Xanthan gum is a product of a reaction involving a carbohydrate.  Whether the Xanthan gum causes a reaction, therefore depends on what that starting carbohydrate is.  It could be corn, wheat, soya, etc.  Unfortunately, this won’t be marked on the packet.  If you think you are reacting to Xanthan gum then it might be worth contacting the manufacturer to find out what carbohydrate substrate they use.  If they use your allergen, then it might be worth trying a different manufacturer, who may use a different starter carbohydrate.

Is Xanthan gum vegan?

Again, it depends on the starter carbohydrate.  If the starter carbohydrate is corn, wheat or soya then yes, the Xanthan gum is vegan.  If the starter carbohydrate is lactose (made from dairy whey), then it might not meet your definition of vegan.  The only way to find out is to contact the manufacturer.

 

Happy Birthday, Allergy Dad! (Vegan, GF)

I think it is fair to say that cake decorating is not my forté.  This always presents a bit of a problem because lots of cake decorating cheats have wheat, rice flour or coconut oil in their ingredients so the Allergy Brothers can’t eat them.

Allergy Dad is a big fan of the colour black.  He has an entirely monochromatic wardrobe.  I did think about making a cake with activated charcoal as an ingredient.  Unfortunately, I discovered that activated charcoal can decrease the effectiveness of medication by absorbing it.  This would be a bad idea for the whole family!

I was really pleased to find these edible black rose cake decorations online.  They are vegan, gluten free and Allergy Brother friendly.  I would definitely use this seller – Simply Toppers – again.  The roses looked beautiful, and I was amazed that they had packed them so carefully that they arrived in perfect condition.  In fact, Simply Toppers sell lots of other really nice cupcake decorations so I will probably be cheating by using their products again.
I used our regular chocolate cake recipe and Allergy Dad was able to have a cake he deserved, but that the Allergy Brothers could still eat.  Happy Birthday, Allergy Dad!

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