Are you searching the supermarket shelves for some Christmas ‘free from’ products? There do seem to more than ever but it is still a challenge to find exactly what your want. Jackie Mitchell, a free from food blogger and Can I Eat There allergy ambassador has written this blog sharing her thoughts and experiences.
“I am gluten free and my husband Ray is dairy free so the constant challenge is to find products that are both gluten free and dairy free, so we can eat the same things.
However, we have had some success in our hunt this year. Top of our list is the new Richly Fruited Christmas Cake from Waitrose (£5) which is described as gluten free, made without milk, under the ‘LoveLife Free From’ brand although it does contain egg and nuts. Ray can eat cooked eggs in a cake, so we were both pleased we could enjoy it. The cake is a tasty combination of sultanas, raisins, glace cherries, dates, almonds and walnuts finished with a marzipan star. There’s no brandy in the cake, which I didn’t miss. I don’t normally like fruit cake, but this is tantalising. It has an excellent balance of fruit and spice. Most importantly, it is moist unlike some ‘free from’ cakes we have tasted. The nuts give it a crunchy texture. It’s also moreish – where’s my second piece?
After tasting several ‘free from’ Christmas puddings (well, someone’s got to do it!) Ray and I agreed that the best was the ‘free from’ Christmas pudding from Asda (£3), dairy free, wheat free and gluten free with sultanas, cider, raisins and brandy. Although the brandy and cider are mentioned on the front of the pack, they aren’t listed in the ingredients, but we could certainly taste it! This is a traditional Christmas pudding bursting with fruit, not too sweet and very moist. It can be microwaved in about three minutes.
Another flavoursome festive dessert was the Richly Fruited Christmas Pudding from Waitrose (£5) with brandy, almonds, walnuts and pecans, gluten free, made without milk, under the LoveLife label. There was no other dairy ingredient listed. Cooking instructions are on the reverse of the tiny label at the bottom of the pudding – it can be microwaved in three minutes. We couldn’t taste the brandy in this one, although the taste was excellent.
As an alternative to a family-sized Christmas pudding, you could try an individual one such as the Free From Christmas Pudding from Morrisons (£1.27), gluten free, milk free, which can be microwaved in 40 seconds. We didn’t find this as tasty as the other two, but it’s moist, spicy, smooth and not too sweet. If you were going to someone’s house for Christmas dinner, you could easily take this with you. Or if you’re the only person in the household with a food allergy, this could be your dessert. Pity it’s not available year round.
To accompany all the Christmas puddings, as usual, we would recommend Alpro’s dairy free soya custard in 100g packets (90p), available at most supermarkets. Just heat in the microwave in Pyrex glass jug for a few minutes.
That brings us to mince pies. Most supermarkets sell ‘free from’ mince pies, but our favourite is Sainsbury’s (£2) wheat free, gluten free, milk free, although they do contain almonds. Delicious warmed in the microwave for 40 seconds, but let the filling cool off before eating. Sainsbury’s also produces iced ‘free from’ mince pies, but we found them too sweet.
Shortbread is another classic Christmas treat and I tried the Morrisons Christmas Spiced Shortbread, gluten and wheat free (£1.40) – delicious crumbly buttery biscuits with a tang. Not dairy free though. I also tried the Asda’s Free From Christmas Shortbread Selection (£3.50) – a box containing three different varieties – chocolate chip, (very sweet with a hint of chocolate); ginger (couldn’t taste much ginger) and classic. Again these were only gluten and wheat free, so poor Ray didn’t get to try any of them.
So with less than a week to go, we are all set with a nice selection of festive free from treats to enjoy and hope you are too. Have a great ‘free from’ Christmas.”
Merry Christmas from the Can I Eat There team.