Eating out with food allergiesBanana pancakes


About Jackie Mitchell

Jackie Mitchell is a journalist and public relations consultant with over fifteen years' experience. She works with small businesses and charities providing PR services.

With a background as a features writer in the media, Jackie has worked on national newspapers, websites, consumer magazines, trade publications and radio stations all over the UK. For some years, she worked abroad - in Australia, Hong Kong and New York. After returning to London, she worked as an account director at several major London agencies.

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September 29th, 2013

The Allergy and Free From Show

This Autumn, there are festivals and food shows galore. Future shows coming up includes Vegfest UK, a veggie food show, taking place for the first time in London next weekend on 5 and 6 October at Kensington Olympia. There will be over 180 stalls with meat free and dairy free food products on the market. There will also be tips on dairy free baking from vegan pastry chef Fran Costigan.

Later in October, from 26th to 27th there’s the Allergy & Free From Show North taking place at the BT Convention Centre in Liverpool showcasing an extensive array of free from foods. Here’s a review of the London show which I visited earlier this year.

At the Chiatica stand, I discovered gluten free and wheat free cheese bread, dairy free and gluten free empanadas - South American pasties made from cornstarch not wheat, made from plantain flour. It supplies gluten free cheese bread to The Gaucho restaurant and Inter-Continental hotel.

 On the Vi UK stand, I tried samples of gluten free nutritional shakes containing 23 minerals and vitamins and low sugar content, just launched in the UK from the USA. It can be used in any form of milk and mixed with items from the fridge such as blueberries, kale leaves, avocado – whatever you have in your fridge you add in. It’s not a diet as you use it for a meal replacement as one of the five portions of fruit and vegetable. One bag is equivalent to 30 meals. All you do is mix two scoops of the shake, add in the milk (it can be soya, rice, almond, whatever you like) and you can add crushed ice. For weight loss, you substitute two meals a day for a shake.

If you suffer from a food allergy, ready meals are usually off the list because they invariably contain gluten and milk. Thanks to Ilumi, we might be able to enjoy ready meals, as its products are gluten free, dairy free and nut free. Available online, there is a range of 22 products. They are introducing a new product every week so there will be 60 by the start of next year. Examples include Thai Red Chicken Curry, Chicken Kerala Curry, Slow Cooked Beef Casserole, Vegetable and Chickpea Jalfrezi. The meals take two minutes in the microwave. Prices in the region of £2.50 to £3.35, 12 months shelf time

For anyone with a sweet tooth, a visit to the Ms Cupcake stand was a must to view, taste and buy her extensive colourful range of vegan cupcakes, beautifully decorated. The company’s brought out its first cookbook published by Square Peg (Random House). Must get a copy!

New kid on the block was Udi’s Gluten Free, available in the USA and Canada, launching in the UK in October, with a huge array of gluten free products including bread, buns, bagels, muffins and breakfast bards.

At Deli Divine, Deborah Lendrum, who has been a coeliac for 20 years, explained how she finds smaller artisan producers and sells their products online such as Devon steak pie and gluten free roll pastry, many of which have won Free From Awards

The Genius Bread stand was serving toasted gluten free fruit bread. I discovered Café Nero is selling Genius seeded rolls with children salad and pesto except Café Nero Express stores – I shall look forward to finding them!

It was a pleasure to meet up with Lucy Wager from Pudology again – we met before at the Free From Awards . Pudology’s banoffi pie was highly commended at the Awards – I tried some on the stand; delicious. She said this year’s show had been phenomenal. “Last year we put out 1700 samples for people to try; so far this year we’ve put out 3,000.”

Lucy is launching a new flavour – orange – and has succeeded in getting her chilled products stocked by 30 Sainsbury’s stores, Ocado, 20 Waitrose stores and It can only be a matter of time until they are stocked by all the supermarkets. These puddings are gluten and dairy free. “My biggest challenge is they are chilled so they are put in the chiller cabinet, away from the free from section and customers can’t find them.” Dairy free herself, Lucy’s vision is to create rich and delicious puddings that everyone can enjoy regardless of food intolerances. I’d say she’s succeeded!

New company Knead Bakery was sampling melt in the mouth chocolate brownies which are free from gluten, dairy, yeast and cane sugar. Creator Sim Smith has multiple allergies and decided to set up her own company for others in the same boat. The seeded loaf was short listed in the Free From Awards

For something entirely different, I tasted dairy free vanilla-flavoured marshmallows from Freedom Confectionery  – awesome! Ray particularly like these. What’s more they are fat free, gelatine free and nut free.


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