Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Sainsbury's Free from Chocolate Chip Cookies



These crunchy treats have been in my cookie jar for the past 4 days, sadly they didn't last any longer! I came across these free from gluten, wheat and milk, chocolate chip cookies whilst in Sainsbury's at the weekend.
Firstly, i was so happy to see they are priced at an affordable £1.35! With 10 cookies in the packet i think that is really good value for money.


Unfortunately, i haven't been able to find many dairy free cookies yet so i have really enjoyed munching on these as an evening snack.
As you can see they don't go light on the chocolate chips and the crunch is simply the best. Since living a dairy free diet, food textures is the one thing i really do miss. For some reason dairy free sweet snacks all tend to have the same soft texture. Baring this in mind these cookies jump up high to to my top 10 favourite dairy free treats.

The packaging is simple and fuss free, although the plastic is really thin and rips easily as you can see in my picture. Therefore a cookie jar might be a great idea to add to your kitchen shelf in order to store these heavenly cookies in.

What other cookies have you found?





Monday, 25 May 2015

Lola's Cupcakes Review!

This weeks super find was beyond delicious! I have walked by Lola's Cupcakes in Covent Garden several times but i've never had time to stop and admire their cupcakes in the window!


 However this Saturday i had plenty of time and gave it a deep thought as to which flavour i should choose!!
They offer a small free from range including:  
Two vegan options; Coconut & Strawberry or Coconut & Passion Fruit ( aka amazing)
Two sugar free flavours: Raspberry and Chocolate
 Wheat Free and Vegan: Chocolate flavor
A Wheat free Red Velvet.

As you can imagine it was a super hard choice. Being dairy free meant i had the choice of 3 options; eventually i decided to go for Coconut and Passion Fruit.... Boy, did i make the right decision! It was incredible! 

Lets start with the packaging: 

 
As you can see it comes in its own individual box with a fold down lid. The bright turquoise is so pretty and the design is simple and sweet ( just like their cupcakes ;) ). I love the idea of being able to take your cupcake away and eat it later on, knowing its going to be protected and not get squashed or ruined. However for me this wasn't the case i couldn't wait and i dived straight in! (Although i did bring the box home, i couldn't bare to bin the happiness so soon!)





 I have tried quite a few cupcakes in my dairy free years but i was yet to try a Coconut and Passion Fruit one. Having the fresh Passion Fruit seeds and juice on the top worked incredibly well. The whipped topping was full of flavor with a strong taste of coconut, a suttle hint of passion fruit and sweet vanilla. Biting into fluffy icing with all 3 flavors combined was a dream.

The sponge was the only thing that didn't live up to my expectations. It was rubber like, it wasn't like normal cake sponge that breaks and crumbs easily. However as this was a Vegan cupcake, no eggs would of have been used therefore all things considered it was pretty incredible.


I will definitely visit Lola's Cupcakes again to try out the other two dairy free flavors; Coconut and Strawberry and Chocolate!

 Ps: Keep an eye out for this adorable fella decorated in Cath Kidston print, he's located just round the corner from Lola's!



Friday, 22 May 2015

What's in my lunchbox today?

Its finally Friday, with such a busy and productive week i decided to treat myself to a shop brought lunch rather than my normal packed lunches from home! I wanted something that wouldn't be too expensive so I headed to Tesco on Villers St, London! 


I must admit there wasn't much choice but of course I choose one of my favourite wraps, Cajun Chicken with lettuce and red peppers! The one thing i hate about Tesco wraps is how sauce heavy they are, the sauce always sinks to the bottom, so once you reach the end of the wrap i'm normally covered in sauce! :(


 I couldn't decide on what snack to get, it was a tough choice but in the I went for something I haven't tried before but was confident it would taste very yummy!  A nakd bar, Apple Crunch flavour! All nakd bars are gluten, wheat and dairy free! They taste divine and are a perfect summer snack... Although I'm Not sure where the sunshine is today? The Apple chunks in this bar really make it and also make it a bit healthier than say that Coco flavour one! 


Instead of choosing my usual crisps, I went for popcorn by Peppercorn, Sweet and Salty! This is one of my favourite dairy free snacks that just keeps me wanting packet after packet! It's so moorich and tasty, although it does makes me so thirsty!  


Finding dairy free snacks on the go can always be a pain, even more so when your trying to find sandwiches or wraps! 
I'd love to hear where your favourite convenient store is to pick up your lunches on the go?!

Thursday, 21 May 2015

Review: Natural Balance Trek Bar- Berry Burst


Dairy Free, Gluten Free, Wheat Free!! 
Trek Berry Burst Bar

This morning I woke up and instantly thought... 'Today I am going to find a new snack that I can have!' ( Yes this is normal, food is normally the first thing i think about when i wake up..) 
With this in mind, it is that's exactly what I did! 

I've never tried or even heard of Trek Bars but I found the beauty in Boots! I have noticed that Boots offer quite a range of dairy free snacks however this  particular one was calling my name! It wasn't very clear to me but apparently Trek Bars are a part of the Natural Balance Foods group . They offer a number of different flavors but i was in a fruity mood so I choose Berry Burst.


I love the packaging, it's funky but simple. I think it really connects the message of using whole natural ingredients with the picture of the countryside in the background of the packaging.


As for the taste,  the berry flavor isn't that obvious, the first thing i thought was how great the texture was! Most fruit bars seem to all have the same bitty texture however for a change this one had the crunch factor! As for the Oats, i couldn't really taste them but i think that is the idea!
If your any thing like me l love to make my snacks last. Therefore I loved the fact that the bar allows you to snap off squares easily as and when you want some, without making any mess! 

Another bonus is that all Trek bars are packed with protein, making it an excellent snack before or after work outs or whenever your peckish! 


Im looking forward to try out all the other flavours, espically the Cocoa Chaos! Have you already tried Trek Bars? Which flavour is your favourite?? 



Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Eating Out When Dairy Free

It wasn't until I started to realise how many products have dairy in when I thought how tricky eating out would be. I love my food, eating out is my favourite thing to do and I wasn't going to let my allergy get in the way of the happiness food gives me! I knew it would take a matter of time, trying out a few restaurants and pubs was the only way to find out which ones offered the best dairy free menu and options.

I have worked as a waitress for 4 years so I have always been confident in asking my waitress/waiter what I am be able to eat. Often their answer was always ‘let me ask the chef’, often or not I had the choice out of a burger or a salad. Normally it’s a matter of having the pasta you fancy but tailoring it to suit your needs.
         
        For example, if you are dairy free you will probably notice another pasta sauce on the menu that is dairy free but it is with chicken and maybe your vegetarian too? Therefore you could ask for the dairy free sauce but without the chicken, or without the creamy potatoes on the side and replace them with a salad. You get my idea, don’t be afraid to ask and tailor your meal, remember you are paying for the service and restaurants are used to having to cater for all types of allergies.


Sometimes I get a bit embarrassed especially when I’m out with a group of people and you are always known as the ‘picky one’, it’s just something you have to get used to and don’t let others judge you. 





Here are a few tips for any dairy-free 'Newbies' when eating out:


  • Before you go always check out the menus online, often restaurants have allergy menus separately
  • Don't always be put off a dish that does contain milk, it might be it only has milk in it because the prawns are cooked in butter. Therefore ask for prawns to be cooked in oil instead!
  • When booking mention your allergy so they are aware you are coming. This way they can ensure they have all the information you might need for when you arrive.
  • When checking in, reconfirm that you have dietary concerns with your server

  • Be an advocate for yourself – This should be an enjoyable experience and you have the right to enjoy your meal and not get sick! With that said, I am cautious and my gut instinct is 9/10 right

  • Restaurants always have people with allergies, don't be afraid to ask any questions



Take away's : 
If your anything like me sometimes you don't want to cook or go out but you also really would like some yummy, maybe naughty, food which always calls for ordering a take away.

From personal experience I have found that Thai and Chinese cuisine hardly ever use any dairy at all. However do ask if you are still unsure. Indian cuisine gives you a bit of a less choice as some curries do contain milk or cream however there are quite a few that don't contain dairy and most Indian sides are also freefrom dairy.

Next weeks post will include what fast food restaurants have dairy free options!





Friday, 15 May 2015

Freefrom and Beyond 2: Savoury Snack Attack!

This weeks Freefrom and Beyond topic is, Savoury Snacks !

I am a huge savoury lover, more so than sweet, so my list is endless however with every new find i will continue to add it to the list!


Ps: The items below are food products that i have found outside of the free from section that are dairy free! ( This means they have NO milk in and a few are labelled with 'might contain Milk'). Each to there own, if you are severely allergic you might not trust food products that state 'may contain'. I advise you to read every label before consumption.


 Some times people don't actually realise how much they can still eat, and that the dairy free section isn't their boundary!


 ( Freefrom and beyond, as Buzzlighter might say...! )



Bread sticks

Hummus
Pitta Breads
Bread
Garlic Bread ( can’t remember the name of the super market)
Samosa’s
Tortilla wraps
Salt & Vinegar Snack a Jacks
Bagels
Warburtons Crumpets
Tesco White bread muffins
Tesco Multi Grain Crackers
Tesco Sun Dried Tomato and Olive Breadsticks
Prawn Crackers
Tesco Mini Spicy Crackers
Ryvita Whole Grain Cracker Bread
Dips: Salsa, Plain Hummus, Red Pepper Hummus, Caramelised Onion Hummus & Guculmole dip
Vegetable Samosa's ( M&S, Tesco, Asda )



You won’t believe how many crisps contain lactose and milk. However there are also a handful out there that
don’t contain dairy, here are some of my favourites..


Sunbites wholegrain Chilli Flavour

Pombears
Original, Salt & Vinegar Walkers
Original & Salt and Vinegar Hula Hoops
Original & Salt and Vinegar French Fries
Pringles: Original, Texas Bbq, Paprika, Tortilla Original, Smokey Bacon
Walkers: Prawn Cocktail, Salt and Vinegar, Original
Tesco Bacon Rashers 
Kettle Chips: Sea Salt and Black Pepper Corns, Sea Salt and Balsamic Vinegar, Lightly Salted


Check out 
Free from and beyond: Biscuits post !

My top tips for those who are allergic to dairy

Free from’ foods: Most of the major supermarkets advertise the products they sell in their ‘free from’ section. However I am yet to find a list of products that can be found outside of the free from section and that are also dairy free.  Therefore, I have decided to create these lists myself with my new ‘Free from and Beyond’ series of blog posts! 

Be sure to check back to see the latest posts!
 I will be sharing a new category every week and hopefully these posts will be able to aid any dairy free ‘newbies’. Maybe a few of those mature dairy freebies will also be able to make a new discovery too!

However, here’s a few of my general top tips of those who are allergic to dairy:

+ Ingredients in products are always changing, so always check the label, even if you have been eating the product for a long period of time. Same goes for when you are eating out at your favorite restaurant that you visit every month.

+Don’t assume that all products in the ‘free from’ section are free from all allergies. Only some of them are free from milk.

+ Don’t always assume that the only products you can eat are from the special ranges in shops, such as the free from section! (See my other posts for more dairy free options)

+Just because a product doesn't clearly advertise ‘dairy free’ on the packaging, it doesn't mean it’s not dairy free! Always read the labels, you will be surprised!

+ Some products from the ‘free from’ range are expensive and the supermarkets do their own version which is always a lot cheaper and dairy free too!

+ If you are not severely allergic, when I say this I mean you don’t have to be hospitalised on consumption, then you can also probably eat products that ‘May Contain Milk’. This phrase simply means that the product has been made in a factory where other dairy products are present. The chance of any dairy free products getting whey powder or milk into the product is probably a 95% chance. Therefore, if you can deal with taking the smallest risk, you will find your options of what you can eat will double.

+ Be aware that Milk is sometimes found in the following ingredients ( if these ingredients are present then the allergy label will read 'contains milk'



Natural flavorings

Flavoring

Caramel flavoring
High protein flour
Lactic acid (usually not a problem)
Lactic acid starter culture
“Non-dairy” products (may contain casein)
Rice cheese
Soy cheese


+ When you are not consuming milk you are not getting the 'normal' amount of Calcium and Vitamin A & D. Therefore taking vitamin tablets is always helpful.



+Don’t let people judge you, at the end of the day its not your choice to be allergic to dairy, it just happens! 

+Be Happy, Enjoy your food!



Tuesday, 12 May 2015

Against the Grain Discovery!

New Discovery: Against the Grain Biscuit and Cookie Range

Gluten Free- Dairy Free- Wheat Free

This delicious range of freefrom cookies/ biscuits are incredible. Against the Grain currently offer three different flavours of cookies;  Chocolate Chip and Orange, Chocolate Chip & Hazel Nut and Almond. They also offer two types of biscuits, Ginger Crunch and Berry Delicious.
 Unfortunately, I have only tried the cookie range, the reason being, i can never find dairy free cookies but biscuits are a bit easier to find. Although i am looking forward to trying out the biscuit range to see if they also as yummy!


Being able to eat cookies that actually have the same texture and most importantly, taste as good as normal cookies, is amazing. My gran routinely brings me a selection of these every time she visits.She finds them in a local garden center near her home, in Kent.  I have to say the chocolate and orange cookie, has to be my favourite, although the other flavours aren't far behind. I was a massive chocolate cookie lover before i became allergic to dairy, so being able to munch on these without a care in the world, with my coffee is lovely! 


I can't wait for my next batch to arrive in the post! Have you tried these? If so, where did you buy them? It would make my day if i was able to source them locally!






Monday, 11 May 2015

Free From and Beyond

After meeting lots of people who also have food intolerances or food allergys it blows my mind that only a few of them realise they can also buy FreeFrom products from other isles of the supermarkets rather than the designated FreeFrom section.

For example, in every supermarket you will find a reasonable range of gluten, dairy and wheat free products in the FreeFrom section. More often or not, there are always more products suited to gluten and wheat free than dairy free. However, what people do not realise is that there are also products suitable for dairy free people, and often heaps cheaper, outside of the FreeFrom selection!

If you look beyond the Freefrom section you will be amazed at what you will find! Most products aren't even advertised as dairy free but they are, sometimes taking the time to read every label is worth it! 



Below I have listed just a few of my favorite dairy free biscuits/ cereal bars that I buy on a regular basis: ( If I haven't listed a specific supermarket brand then you can buy the products at most supermarkets)

Do not make any assumptions that if one supermarkets value range has a dairy free product that another supermarket value range will also be dairy free, they all use different ingredients!

+ Tesco Bourbon Creams Biscuits
+ Jammy Dodgers ( All supermarkets)
+ Tesco Oaties
+Mcvite Rich Tea Biscuits
+ Tesco Rich Tea Biscuits
+ FOXS Party Rings
+ Tesco Bakery Ginger Bread Men
+Nature Valley Cruncy ( All flavours)
+ Naked bars
+Tesco Honey and Oaty Granola Bars
+Eat Natural- Dark Chocolate, Cranberry and Macadamia nuts
+Pink Panther Wafers
+ Tesco/ Sainsbury's Jammy Doughnuts
+Tesco Everyday Value Digestive Discuits
+ Tesco Everyday Value Ginger Nuts
+ Tesco Everyday Value Jaffa Cakes
+Tesco Fruit Shortcake Biscuits
+OREO Original
+Mcvities Hodnobs
+Mcvities Fruit Shortcake
+Caxton Pink and White Wafers

Tip: If the label on the packaging states it 'may contain milk' it means its made in the same factory as milk but does not contain any milk ( double check the list of ingredients). A lot of company's have to state products contain milk, gluten or peanuts etc to cover their backs even if the ingredient isn't present, its so annoying. I ignore this and still eat the products, of course if the label said it does contain milk i wouldn't eat it.

I do not take any responsibility for your actions, please read the labels yourself before consumption.







Saturday, 9 May 2015

Discovering Lactose Intolerance

I thought I would share something that has impacted my life in quite a big way. Like other thousands of people, I am Lactose Intolerant. For those of you who don’t know what that is, it means my stomach cannot digest the sugars in milk, called lactose, which are present in products that contain dairy.

Many people get confused between Lactose intolerance and being allergic to dairy:

  • If you are allergic to dairy it means you cannot have any products that contain dairy
  • If you are Lactose intolerant you can only have dairy products if the lactose sugars have been removed. For example I have Lactose free milk which is pure dairy milk from a cow but it has had the lactose extracted from it.



It’s very common for babies and young children to be Lactose intolerant since birth however my story isn't quite as simple as that. I had always been able to eat dairy, I adored my chocolate and cheese so much! I think the fact that I know what a real Galaxy and a chocolate fudge gateau tastes like it makes it 10 times harder to be without.  Those who are born Lactose intolerant will know no different. 


Unluckily for me, it all started once I returned home after a month’s adventure in the heart of Kenya at the end of the summer in 2010. I had the time of my life with a group of like-minded people experiencing a whole new culture and seeing the shocking poverty in Africa. The memories will stay with me forever; also however , will the question ‘If I didn't go to Kenya would I still be eating my favourite foods and not lactose intolerant? ‘ 



As you can imagine after a month of roughing it and not having a comfy bed to sleep in I was shattered and all I wanted to do is spend time with my family and sleep. As expected, once I got into my own bed, I slept for days, which soon turned into weeks. It wasn't until 2 weeks passed and I thought that something must be wrong, surely I had caught up on all my sleep by now? I started to worry and remembered that when I was in Kenya I had spent a few days in my sleeping bag poorly whilst my friend got admitted to hospital but I insisted I would be ok. Baring this in mind, I instantly thought I had caught a parasite or something even worse. I had the following Symptoms:

+ Extreme Fatigue after eating ( 12 hours or more! )

+ Depression and tearfulness after consumption
+ Increase in weight
+ Bloated, rocked hard abdominal distension
+ Vomiting  
+ Upset stomach 
+ Head aches
+ Spots

With all these symptoms, some more server than others, my parents wondered if it could be linked to something I was eating. With worries in mind I went to the doctors straight away to find an answer.

  The answer being that I had built an intolerance to a type of food and thankfully, nothing worse.  Apparently, it is really common when people have spent a long time in third world countries to catch a tummy bug, that can have a side effect of becoming Lactose Intolerant. I was told that dairy was the most common food intolerance; therefore I cut all dairy out of my diet straight away. This was a lot harder than it seems, however instantly I felt like a new person!

 I can’t tell you how many food products have dairy in!! I remember thinking the only food I could eat was lettuce leaves and nuts, I felt like a rabbit. However as time passed searching the supermarkets I soon got the hang of reading labels and finding foods that my stomach could tolerate. I can promise you, being lactose intolerant or allergic to dairy doesn't mean yummy foods are over forever. Luckily, I enjoy cooking therefore I am able to still eat yummy cakes and all things that are naughty by cooking with dairy free butter and soya / lactose free milk. However , now days I work 9-5 and cooking treats everyday along with cooking dinner, just isn't convenient – There  aren’t enough hours in the day!

When people find out I can’t eat most shop bought products ,like chocolate bars, biscuits, McDonald's burgers etc they always respond with something ,along the lines of ‘I don’t know how you do it’. To be honest it’s not a choice, I have to do it in order for my body to function properly.
There are so many shops out there that do NOT cater for lactose intolerant people and it makes me so angry. It’s like someone has taken the right away from me to eat and buy products from certain shops. Ok, occasionally some shops have a fruit salad available, but do you know how many fruit salads I have eaten since being Lactose Intolerant?  Millions. I am so bored of them, but if I’m hungry I guess it will do.

 Another frustrating fact that annoys me and I believe is so wrong, is the price they charge for dairy free products, it's ridiculous. It seems as if the shops are punishing me for something that definitely isn't my fault. I understand that many people cut out dairy to improve their lifestyle however the majority of people buying dairy free products are generally allergic and not choosing to live the ‘dairy free life style’.

There are some lucky people out there who are able to eat a product they are intolerant to by just being allergen free for a few weeks or months.  However this isn’t the case with me, I have been experiencing my Lactose Intolerance for five long years now. Sadly, at the moment I can’t see the day that I will ever be able to indulge in a 99 Whippy from the ice cream van again- But who knows what the future holds ( Hopefully sitting and eating as many 99p Whippys as I possibly can, without being instantly sick and being in excruciating pain!)

Next week’s post will be on my top 10 favourite dairy free treats that you can find in the supermarkets, without the outrageous price tag!

Do you live a dairy free diet? I’d love to hear your views and how you cope with the big change! 

Treat Yourself with my Top 6 Dairy Free Chocolate Treats!


My top 6 Dairy Free, chocolate associated, treats that you can purchase on the go from most UK Super Markets and convenience stores.

Note: Please do check all food labels before eating to ensure they are dairy free and suitable for you.I personally take no responsibility.

1) Eat Natural Range- Fruit and nut bar, Dark Chocolate with Canberries and Macadamias or Darker Chocolate with Brazil nuts and Apricots 
Found in most corner shops, super markets and pharmacy stores



   
2) Asda Free From Choc Orange Buttons
These taste incredible, some of you will know that dairy free chocolate doesn't quite melt in your mouth like Galaxy does however these are a exception. They melt on your tongue and taste just like Terry's Chocolate Orange! They also do a Free From Chocolate Orange Bar which seems to last a little bit longer as its a bit bigger!

Find me in Asda's Free- From Section


3)  Tesco's Free From Double Chocolate Cake bars
These are great, each bar is individually wrapped and the taste is just as divine as normal brownie. However, one thing I did notice with this product is how easily they crumble, a plate is definitely needed for those who like to make a mess!

Find me in Tesco/ Asda/ Waitrose/ Morrisons Free Free Sections



4) Tesco Finest Plain Baking Chocolate
Who doesn't love a chunk of plain chocolate every now and again? This product is great extra when sipping on your morning coffee or when you simply need a chocolate top up! I find this a little bit darker than your normal Free From Chocolate bars but for some this is there favourite! 

This product will be find in the normal baking/ chocolate area in all super markets!




5)  Tesco Free From Chocolate Crisp Bar
I think this is one of my favourite chocolate bars, it has the same flavour as any milk chocolate and i think it tastes just like Dairy Milk Biscuit bar. It has the perfect crunch to it and so far is the only Free From chocolate bar I have come across with a crispy texture!

Find me in Tesco's Free From Section





I can't wait to continue sharing my exciting Dairy Free finds with you all ! 
Look out for my next post on my top 5 tips when shopping for dairy free products. I will also be sharing little secret that I promise will make ANY Dairy free newbies excited!


Friday, 8 May 2015

Dairy Free Page Launch!

Exciting News! Check out this weeks new page - Dairy Free Life! I have so many exciting posts planned for you all ! Watch this space!


Why have I decided to create a new page and blog topic?

After being Lactose Intolerant for five years I have had to adapt my life in many ways to cater for it.I always wished I had some guidance from other people who had been in the same situation.

At the start, changing your diet and your food shopping habits is actually quite scary and challenging. It would have been such a great help, and also comforting, to know that others had also experienced the same frustrations as me. 


With this in mind, I wanted to create a new page where I can document and share my advice and experiences of living a dairy free life and hopefully let others know that they aren't alone.

I have so many tricks and tips I want to share with all you Dairy Free 'Newbies'. I hope that all my posts help make the big step of becoming Lactose Intolerant or Dairy Free, that little bit easier!

Find out how i discovered i was Lactose Intolerant here... Lemonblush- living-lactose-free-life-style.






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