Jom Organic Candy (Vegan, GF)

Finding treats for the Allergy Brothers is surprisingly difficult.  Lots of sweets are flavoured with citrus or strawberry (both Allergy Bros no-nos) or have lots of artificial ingredients in.  The Allergy Brothers seem to be so sensitive to their allergens that they react to products synthesised from their allergens, for example Maltitol is an artificial sweetener that is derived from corn or wheat.  This is a long-winded way of saying “hooray for Jom candy!”

Jom Candy is gluten free, vegan candy, and, as a nice ethical bonus, is palm oil free too.  We tried the wild raspberry flavour (Ingredients – sugar*, invert sugar syrup*, water, corn starch*, glucose syrup*, acidity regulator (citric acid), concentrate of raspberry* (0.29%), natural flavouring, glazing agent (sunflower oil*, carnauba wax*); *=certified organic ingredients).  Well, I say we tried it.  I ate one and then the Allergy Brothers snarfed the lot!  They really liked these sweets.  The sweets tasted of real raspberries, rather than fake flavourings.  The best bit was the texture.  Vegan sweets can be a bit floppy and soggy.  The Jom sweets were more solid with a satisfyingly chewy mouth feel.

In summary, I will be buying these for the Allergy Brothers’ teachers to keep at school.  It is always handy for their teachers to have something stashed away for them, when someone brings in a treat for the class that the boys can not eat.  I might keep a bag or two back for me though…

Sugar Sin Caramel Fizz

Ingredients: Sugar, Invert sugar syrup, Water, Corn starch, Glucose, Acidifier (citric acid, tartaric acid), Natural flavours, Caramelised sugar syrup.

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Proof, if proof was needed, that vegan food does not necessarily mean healthy food.  However, if you are missing the flavours of caramel and toffee on a vegan or dairy-free diet then these will hit the spot.  We have stored them up in our crockery cupboard and whoever empties the dishwasher gets to eat one as a reward!  The well-designed packaging and palm oil free recipe are great bonuses too.

I have also found that marron glacé are a more than adequate toffee/caramel substitute.  They too are vegan, gluten-free and yummy.

Vegan Tuck Box

We have had a monthly Vegan Tuck Box delivery for about half a year now.  We had the mini gluten-free subscription, which costs £8.50 per month for 5-6 treats.  Classic boxes cost £17 per month and contain 10-12 products.  We are not a Vegan family, but we find vegan products really helpful as the boys need to avoid dairy and eggs.  Being able to have a gluten-free and vegan option is fairly epic!

So what do we love about Vegan Tuck Box.  Well, the Allergy Brothers have actually been able to eat 1 or 2 products most months, and Allergy Dad and I have happily polished off the rest. Vegan Tuck Box often include unusual products that are hard to source in the UK.  It’s also really nice to receive a parcel once a month and a little bit exciting (okay, really exciting, if I am honest) to find out what surprises we have each month.  The photographs show a mini box and its contents.

20150813_11430820150711_184300What could be improved?  The products are often sourced all over the world.  This has made me truly aware how lucky we are to have legislation about accurate and full food labelling in Europe (thank you, EU!).  Sometimes the ingredients lists can be a bit vague and we just don’t take chances with the Allergy Brothers.

The main problem we have is that, with the Allergy Brothers’ extensive range of allergies, the hit rate of suitable products is just a bit too low.  This also means that I end up eating the extra treats, which is not really such a great idea as I slide towards middle age.  What I would really like is for Vegan Tuck Box to send out a monthly email with the products that are in the most recent boxes (complete with ingredients lists, please).  Then I could go to their shop and order the treats that the boys can eat.  A simpler improvement would be adding an ingredients list to all the products in their online shop so I can check back occasionally in the New Products section.

For the right person, for example a young vegan leaving home for the first time, this would be a really fabulous present.  The gift options range from a single mini box (£9.50) to a 12 month, classic box subscription (£216).

Essy & Bella Eton Mess Gourmet Chocolate

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Ingredients – Cocoa butter, Rice powder (rice syrup, rice starch, rice flour), Sugar; Marshmallows (glucose fructose syrup, sugar, water, dextrose, carageenan, maize starch, hydrolized soy protein, flavouring, colour: titanium dioxide); Freeze dried strawberries; Colour E129.

I really wanted to like this product because it is so rare to find vegan/dairy free white chocolate (see our review of Polar Dream for another similar product), and I just couldn’t.  It managed to be both bland and too sweet simultaneously.  I think the balance was wrong.  There needed to be more strawberries (or better yet, raspberries) so that the tartness of the fruit balanced with the sweetness of the marshmallows and the richness of the cocoa butter.  Finally, the inclusion of E129, which, according to the packaging, may have an adverse reaction on the activity and attention in children, is unforgiveable.  This was really unexpected in a premium product that is marketed as gourmet chocolate.

Vanilla Fudge by Vegan Sweet Treats

Ingredients – sugar, soya cream, sunflower spread, glucose syrup, vanilla bean extract.

I didn’t take a photo of these as they got squashed in the mail (I copied a photo from The Sweet Treats website). These fudge are the squishy type of fudge, not the solid butter tablet, grainy type of fudge. They are very sugary, which is pretty obvious from the ingredients list. Even I never managed to eat more than one at a time. They were useful to keep in the fridge for a late afternoon pick me up.

My main complaint is the ingredients of the sunflower spread are not listed in the ingredients list. Spreads actually vary a surprising amount and only some are suitable for the Allergy Brothers, although the soya cream would make the fudge unsuitable for them anyway. I think it is a way of showing that a company have thought about allergies when they fully disclose their ingredients. As we are only too aware, it’s possible to be allergic to more than just the ingredients that have to be disclosed legally.