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free from holiday coeliacs

Now that summer is a distant memory, I have managed to spend a little time reflecting on our trips away. My eldest daughter started school last year, so it is the first summer holidays we have endured. I have quickly realised that every summer is going to involve non-stop driving… pick-ups, drop-offs, holidaying, visiting friends and family. Good fun, but we have been totally frazzled for the last month or so.

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Coeliac at Bingley Music Life

Now we’ve landed in autumn with a bit of a bump, I am feeling rather gloomy. I don’t usually mind as I love autumn, but I’m particularly down because the festival season has finished and I’ve had a bleedin’ great summer. There is nothing better than sitting in a field listening to music. Of course, you can always find cider too! Perfection.

We managed 3 festivals this year – Glastonbudget, Fake Festival and Bingley Music Live. We had a fab time at all of them. My 2 year old has now done two three-day camping festivals. She is a mini-festival queen.  Continue reading


Second most allergic person in Leeds

“I’m sorry. I’m a right pain in the arse” is usually how I end up starting my introduction when I eat out. The waitress/waiter suddenly landed in a life or death situation, because it is literally like that for me, and all I want to do is have a spot of lunch.

My name, for those that don’t already know me is, Rory Mason, and I have been told that I was once the most allergic person in Leeds.

Now this title was ripped away from me at a tender young age, by some poor girl who had to sleep in some sort of vacuum bubble – just to survive. Compared to her, I have it easy, so don’t have pity on me for losing my crown (even if nobody is interested in the second most allergic person in Leeds).

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Violife dairy free cheese

It doesn’t have to be hard cheese when you are vegan or go dairy or lactose free. The free-from market has picked up recently and there’s a ton of cheesy offerings out there. Here is Karen Woodford’s pick of the best goodies…

DAIRY-FREE AND VEGAN CHEESES

Sainsbury’s Wensleydale Cheese with Cranberries, £2.25

This looks the part – exactly like Wensleydale. I even put it on a cheeseboard the first time I had it because I was so excited. It deserved it! It crumbles in the same way as proper Wensleydale and tastes really good. It is strange as I was never a fan of this kind of cheese in the past but it definitely tastes very similar and is lovely on a gf cracker. It costs £2.25 so comes in at a decent price. Not quite as versatile as some others but it is perfect for the job it has been put on this earth to do.

Mozzarisella Classic, £3.99

I have tried this vegan cheese a few times at Allergy & Free From shows. I remember it being gorgeous on a Venice Bakery pizza base – it looked and tasted very nearly like the real thing and melted perfectly. I was going to buy some to refresh my memory but, unfortunately, it is difficult to get hold of. It costs £3.99, which is not a bad price, but the postage at the online shop that stocks it is more than the item itself. Groan. Grab it if you can (and get some for me, too).

Violife Original, £2.30

This is a block cheese and it looks like Cheddar. There is no horrible smell AND no horrible aftertaste. Coconut oil is the key ingredient and it is soya-free – what a difference that makes. Melted in an omelette or hard in a ham sandwich, it almost cons you that it is real cheese. It is the best I have found in supermarkets to grace the top of pizzas. It does not completely melt the normal way but it is very good. I have also heard it is fab in lasagne… and all Violife cheese has the vegan stamp of approval. Well done, Violife, you have won my dairy-free cheese vote. £2.30 in Tesco.

Violife Original Slices, £2.50

Again, these are the best I have found – superb in a free-from burger! It is the same ‘pretend’ cheese as above, just pre-sliced. £2.50 in Tesco.

Violife Prosociano, £3.50

This is like pretend parmesan and just like its sister products, it looks the part. And the packaging is excellent too. It even smells like parmesan does and grates like it. And you can feel like a normal person, accepting some grated ‘pretend’ parmesan on your free-from pasta. Bravo! £3.50 at Tesco.

Violife Creamy Original, £2.50

This is pretend soft cheese – it’s a harder texture than a normal one, but tastes good. Violife also has a range of flavoured pretend soft cheeses that I have not had the pleasure of trying yet (tomato and basil, hot peppers, herbs, cucumber and dill). It worked well in a df cheesecake recipe. £2.50 at Tesco.

Tesco Free-From Grated Mozzarella

This looked like heaven and I was dreaming of a beautiful pizza. But as soon as I opened the packet, I realised this was not to be the case and I’m not even sure why I put it on my base. It ruined it. It is partially made from coconut oil, but I think the soya must have taken over. It’s not quite as offensive as some other soya cheeses I have had – I opened one before and had to throw it away as the smell was so awful. To give it its due, it melted and looked the part, but it did make the pizza rather soggy and just had a really strange aftertaste which made me feel quite nauseous. I did manage to eat it, though, which is a step up from any other soya cheese alternative I have had. Anyone else like it?

LACTOSE-FREE CHEESES

Lactofree Mild Cheddar, £1.80

Lactofree is a brilliant brand and I think all its products taste the business. The mild Cheddar reminds me slightly of plastic school cheese… but I used to love that. It works really well in sandwiches or on crackers or just to eat as is. It is a great price at £1.80 at Tesco. This is not suitable for milk allergy sufferers.

Lactofree Mature Cheddar, £1.80

This is just divine – exactly like the real thing in its crumbly, strong-tasting way. Perfect for cheese on toast or grating on to pizzas. Still, I am so, so sad that I now need to be dairy free. How is that fair on top of being gluten free? Sob. £1.80 at Asda.

Lactofree Soft White Cheese, £1

You seriously cannot tell the difference between this and normal soft cheese. It has a beautiful and creamy flavour and is really good on crackers. It makes a great cheesecake ingredient and is really cheap – only £1 at Asda.

By Karen Woodford, always on the hunt for excellent dairy-free products


Mini coeliac

I wrote a blog when my eldest daughter, Megan, first started school (http://safereating.co.uk/lessons-in-gluten-free-school-dinners-will-my-mini-coeliacs-new-school-pass-the-test/). She has coeliac disease so I was really worried about whether they could cater for her safely.

We were lucky as the school is really clued up on dietary requirements and even has a dietitian, who goes through the menus. They also have excellent procedures in place, including having Megan’s picture up where they serve the food, with a note stating exactly what she can’t have. She also has a wristband to highlight to the people serving that she has a dietary requirement.

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Banished to the gluten corner

In our house, as you probably know by now, there are three coeliacs – me and my two daughters.

When my youngest, Amalie, had to become strictly gluten-free, I decided to banish most gluten from our house. My husband, Martin, offered to just eat gluten-free food, but due to the price and the standard of some products, I turned him down. I thought we could cope with the cross-contamination issue if he only ate staple gluten products, such as cereal, pasta and bread.

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It’s always fun to kick off the day with a massive fight. And I very nearly came to blows with my boyfriend this morning over something very serious indeed. Breakfast cereal.

It was 7.30am and, like millions of mums, I was feeding my son, helping him with homework, packing his bag, cleaning the floor, unloading the dishwasher, putting a wash on and trying to straighten my scarecrow hair. And in strolls the boyfriend, grabs a bowl and casually helps himself to MY GLUTEN-FREE CEREAL. Just loads his bowl up. Then sprinkles on a helping of Shreddies, adding insult to injury.

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Gluten free prescriptions

On the 31st March, the Department of Health opened a consultation on the NHS prescribing of gluten-free foods. The public can give their views by completing a survey found at this link. The consultation closes on the 22nd June 2017. Safer Eating fears that the public has been mis-sold facts in the government’s push to make drastic cuts across the NHS.

Negative press in the past, such as The Daily Mail in August 2015 quoting that, “The NHS is handing out tens of thousands of prescriptions every year for custard creams, doughnuts and pizzas” shows people may not have the full picture. Although the story was talking about all special diets – it focused on coeliac disease and talked about how the NHS needs to focus on, “essential patient care, operations and crucial drugs”. It is infuriating when gluten-free prescriptions are portrayed this way. Most GP surgeries have only allowed staple ingredients for years, such as flour, bread and pasta. There is now an apology to people with coeliac disease on the bottom of the article.

I think it is really important that the public understands the other side of the story so they can form their own educated opinion and comment on the consultation. Continue reading


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So we’re just back from an Easter holiday to Lanzarote, which was lovely – great to spend time with the family and watch the kids play in the pool and park.

Obviously, though, with a family of tricky eaters there were going to be issues on the food front. The hotel specified it catered for “healthy and special diets” so we decided to go for the all-inclusive option instead of self-catering or room-only.
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Gluten free scones

Craving foods you can’t have is pretty standard when you get lumped on a free-from diet. As soon as I was told I had to be gluten free for life or risk a body breakdown, I wanted a macaroni pie, half a dozen Biscuit Boosts and a foaming pint of Guinness.

Cravings can be all-consuming, fly in the face of reason and leave you disgusted with yourself. Like the time I abandoned my vegetarian principles as a student in an explosion of pork and pickle pastry and shame. And I know people with gluten intolerances who have made themselves ill because they were craving a regular pizza – so scoffed a 12in Sloppy Joe.

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