Festive GF Wrap from Starbucks

Earlier this week on Twitter,ย  Steph mentioned that along with those ridiculously awesome red cups, this winter Starbucks have launched a Festive wrap that’s also Gluten Free. One mention of the word ‘Turkey’ and I was determined hunt one down!

I didn’t have to look very far as fortunately there’s a little Starbucks outside my office in North West London. Venturing out for lunch I was delighted to spot one! Also in red packaging, this ‘Limited Edition’ wrap is described as a ‘Gluten Free Turkey and Bacon Wrap’. Look closely at the ingredients listed on the front, and you find it contains:

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Turkey breast, smoked bacon, spinach, cranberry sauce, black pepper mayo and pork, sage and onion stuffing. Sounds like Christmas dinner all wrapped up, right?

IT IS.

I asked for my wrap to be heated (no one likes cold Christmas dinner after all) but took it back to my office. I queried the staff around their cross contamination procedure with the grill, and was happy to hear that they place two new sheets of baking paper underneath and on top of the wrap to prevent it touching the grill. I watched them do this to be on the side, but no issues!

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Back at my desk, I tucked in. WOW. To me, this tastes exactly like Christmas dinner, all the flavour combinations work brilliantly together and they’re not overpowering. The wrap, a multi-seeded wrap from Newburn Bakehouse,ย  held together well and I had no issues with it falling apart or losing the filling.

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My one issue was when the cranberry sauce made a bid for freedom on my nice yellow jumper….. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

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I’d suggest using a napkin!

The eat-in price is ยฃ3.29 which is pretty much the same cost as they’re ‘normal’ offerings, so I don’t feel like it’s a gluten free rip off in any way. I’m happy with their cross contamination controls and frankly, I’m just really happy to have another delicious lunch option for when I’m on the go!

Well done Starbucks, thank you for not forgetting your Coeliac customers during the festive period!

Quinoa Risotto

I love making up a quick risotto on rubbish Autumn evenings and adding any veg I can get my hands on. It’s warming and comforting and takes very little brain power to make- perfect after a long commute in the remains of Hurricane Gonzalez! My only issue last night was the lack of rice in my kitchen cupboard, so instead I grabbed my tub of quinoa and thought ‘what the hell’?

I had quinoa risotto last year after seeing a recipe in a foodie magazine, but last night I couldn’t find the magazine nor remember the recipe. So instead I decided, in my signature dinner fashion, to grab what I could find in the cupboards and fridge and throw it in all a pan in the hope of coming up with something remotely risotto-like. Luckily for me, it worked.

I found that using quinoa left me feeling less bloated and ‘heavy’, despite eating the same sized portion I would with normal risotto. It was quick, easy and gloriously tasty, and now I just cannot wait to experiment with different flavours and vegetable combinations.

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Quinoa Risotto

1/2 tin chopped tomatoes

1/2 cup quinoa

3/4 cup boiling water

1/2 red pepper, chopped

1/2 pepper, chopped

Vegetable stock cube (I use Knorr cubes as these are gluten free)

Handful of pine nuts

Mixed herbs & spices- I used dried mixed herbs, black pepper, crushed chillies and crushed garlic

Rocket to serve

Parmesan to serve

 

1. Add the chopped tomatoes to a saucepan and bring to the boil. Add the quinoa and water and stir well.

2. Crumble the stock cube into the mixture and stir well. Add your chosen spices and herbs and stir well again. Add the chopped vegetables and continue to simmer for 15 minutes or until the liquid has reduced.

3. Just before you’re ready to serve, stir in the pine nuts and some cheese (if you wish).

4. Serve with rocket and your preferred cheese.

It’s that simple….Enjoy!

GF Doughnuts!!! From Feel Free

In August I was contacted to see if I’d like to be one of the first people to try a new gluten free product by free from company,ย  Feel Free. I was delighted to be asked and of course said yes, only for my excitement to be multiplied by a thousand when they said this product would be gluten free doughnuts!

God, I cannot tell you how much I miss doughnuts. They were a real treat for me, whether it be for a team meeting at work, standing in the queue at Thorpe Park (you all know the ones I mean) or grabbing a sneaky Krispy Kreme whilst shopping. Now whenever we visit Tesco my boyfriend always has a couple as his treat, whilst I sulk well away from that delicious smell wishing I could have just one bite…

So you can see why I’m so excited to try these!

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Feel Free isn’t a new brand in the Free From market but has become better known over the last year or so. Starred in 2004 by a diagnosed Coeliac, they wanted to create gluten free products of a high standard that are suitable for everyone to eat, not just those following a gluten free lifestyle.

These doughnuts were first sampled at the Allergy and Free From Show in London back in July, and following the positive feedback from visitors Feel Free decided to go ahead and launch them as soon as possible. Made from potato and rice starch, these sugared ring doughnuts are free from gluten and wheat but do contain egg and milk. They are sold in packs of four and come frozen and can be kept up to six months, meaning they’re handy for when you fancy something sweet or have a guest visiting.

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Inside the box these are individually wrapped, making them easy to take out one at a time. They should be defrosted for up to an hour before eating and then it’s recommended to heat then in the microwave for thirty seconds to enjoy them warm. I let mine defrost but we don’t have a microwave, so I popped them in the oven on a low temperature for 5 minutes until they were nice and warm.

*Note* It’s a good idea to flip these over once they’re out of the oven/microwave or transfer them to a different plate. The heat from the plate I’d warmed them on cause the bottom to go a little wet and the sugar to stick to the plate!

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WOW. Just wow. It’s pretty hard to think of a better way to describe these, particularly as this is all I kept saying! I couldn’t believe the smell as I was heating them up- I could have easily been at the seaside or Thorpe Park as they smell exactly the same. That delicious warm, sugary, doughy smell that sets your mouth watering.

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But then we get on to the taste. As I took my first bite I was concerned that these would be dry, particularly as the outside is more crisp than I remember of a doughnut,ย  but I need not have worried. The dough inside is SO soft, it completely melts in your mouth, with a slight crunch from the sugar coating that is deliciously sweet. I couldn’t wait to take another bite!

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I tried to savour them as best I could, letting the doughy taste mix with the sugar on my tongue as I would as a kid, but it wasn’t long before the first doughnut had gone!

Thank god I’d had the sense to get two out if the freezer!

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Look, this one even has its own little doughnut face!

For my second doughnut I decided to revisit my childhood and paired them with some chocolate dessert sauce. I remember how I’d always get my doughnuts with a chocolate dipping sauce and wanted to recreate that. The combination of the two was fantastic and a nice trip down memory lane, but I have to say I preferred these on their own in the end.

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These Feel Free doughnuts are a real first for the free from market and I’m grateful to have been able to try them. The taste is exactly as a doughnut should be, and aside from the unconventional storage method (I don’t think I’ve ever seen frozen doughnuts before) you really couldn’t tell that these are gluten free,ย  especially not in the taste.

I’d love to see the range expanded, perhaps with an option with a jam centre. It would also be great to have a larger packet available or mini versions if you’re having a party ( I think these would be great for kids!). Otherwise, these are near perfection and I urge you all to get your hands on some…..you really won’t regret it!

You can purchase these doughnuts via Feel Free’s online store. They cost ยฃ3.99 for a pack of 4 and delivery costs up to ยฃ8.65 (for a frozen courier) but is free for orders over ยฃ40.

New delights from Mrs Crimbles

There’s been a lot of Twitter talk over the last week since Mrs Crimble’s announced the arrival of two brand new products to their range. I was in contact with their PR team who very kindly sent me some samples to try and review for the blog. Here they are…. Country Fruit Slices and Zesty Lemon Slices.

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Mrs Crimble’s is a long established gluten free company providing sweet and savoury foods that are perfect for lunch boxes,ย  picnics, parties or just to accompany a cup of tea. My Grandad (who isn’t Coeliac), absolutely loves their macaroons and often heads to their local farm shop to grab a pack, whether I’m visiting or not! I’ve found that their snacks are great nibbles and perfect to take to a party as gluten free nibbles,ย  or into the office so I’m not left out when it comes to cake in team meetings!

I’m also a life long fan of those delicious Mr Kipling cake slices of old, so these products are a really exciting addition to the range for me. Can they live up to the pre – Coeliac favourites though?

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I was super excited to receive this gorgeous package in the post. The slices looked even more tasty having been presented so well and I couldn’t wait to get home with GBBO andย  cuppa to try them!

The main packaging as always is gorgeous. It’s fun and bright but doesn’t stand out like a sore thumb, nor does it have free from plastered on the front. Instead, it simply says in a small symbol ‘Deliciously gluten free’. I love this as it’s subtle but gets the message across well, without alienating non – Coeliacs.
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First of all I tried the Country Fruit Slice. I’ve never been the biggest fan of fruit cake, instead preferring to pick the icing off the top and leave the cake. But this cake is very different, in that although it’s filled with fruit pieces it’s still light and moist. It has thin pastry base which helps to give texture and prevent too much crumbling, and is topped with gorgeously sweet icing droplets to finish it off. I was really impressed with how much I enjoyed it!

The Zesty Lemon slices….wow! They taste exactly as I remember Mr Kipling slices to be, and they’re deliciously sweet and moist. The icing is finished the slice with a pretty finish, although it is harder than I expected which is possibly why mine fell apart so easily in the post. However, it’s a great accompaniment to the cake in both great taste and the overall look ( and I do love a bit of icing left over at the end of the cake). My only criticism is that they were almost too moist, making it hard to pick them out of the packaging without them breaking up. Having said that, I’d rather an over moist cake than a dry one so it’s only a small criticism. Oh, and I think they need to be bigger….you can never have enough of a lemon slice! ๐Ÿ˜‰

Overall my favourite is the Zesty Lemon slice, as it was my absolute favourite growing up. But the Country Fruit Slice had totally changed my view on fruit cake and I’d be more than happy to enjoy this ad a little treat. It makes a damn nice change from chocolate brownies!

I would also suggest that like Mr Kipling have done, it would be great to have the slices packed into little packets of two inside the box. It’s rare that I would eat more than two slices of cake in one go or even in one week, so the separated packaging would help to keep the remaining slices fresh until I’m ready to eat them. Mini packets are also fantastic for breaking out when you have a friend over for a coffee, or they could even be sold in coffee shops! I understand that Mrs Crimble’s are planning individually packed slices as well as the packs of four, so fingers crossed we see these available soon.

I’m really delighted that Mrs Crimble’s have launched gluten free versions of our old favourites, and rather than being disappointed that yet more unnecessary sugary products are filling the supermarket shelves, I’m happy to say I will definitely be buying these in the future. You’ll find me curled up on the sofa with a cup of tea and a Zesty Lemon slice with #GBBO tonight…..

Both products are hitting shelves near you soon, as they have already been picked up and stocked by Nisa and other wholesalers have placed their orders. Available in packs of four, both products will retail for around ยฃ1.89 per pack.

Honest Burgers- New GF Special

I love Honest Burgers, the fantastic London collective of burger joints serving delicious gluten free burgers ( see my previous review here). Their simple menu, simple restaurants,ย  fantastic service and excellent food make them a firm favourite amongst all Londoner’s,ย  but they have a special place in the hearts of Coeliacs. The fact they are listening to their customers and have executed a gluten free menu so well are rewarded with their firm following of gluten free fans, from London and afar. I’m no different, excited by having a burger in *an actual bun* with delicious rosemary salted fries and onion rings- yes, you read that right. Gluten free ONION RINGS!
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So when I received an email whilst sunning myself in Ibiza, asking me to attend the launch of their new special burger, it gave me something to look forward to on my return to dreary England. I jumped at the chance and added my name to the guest list.

As with many London gluten free launches, it turned into a little Tweet Up! I was joined by the lovely Florence,ย  Kim, Kelly, Carly, Sian, David and Alison.ย  It’s always lovely to see them and impromptu meet ups are even better!
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As soon as I was seated I was kindly offered a beer- this being the gluten free Estrella Daura. Now I have to admit that my taste for beer has diminished since diagnosis, to the point that even if a GF beer is available, I’ll probably choose cider. That being said,ย  I did enjoy my bottle of Daura and recommend it to any Coeliacs who miss beer! Daura are collaborating with Honest Burgers to ensure Coeliacs can enjoy two of their favourite things together…. beer and a burger!
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We were then presented with a bowl of onion rings and chicken wings to tryย  I’m in love with their onion rings (previously these were made from red onion, which I actually preferred. The ‘normal’ versions are damn good too though!), it’s so nice to be able to have them and they’re perfectly crispy….to be honest I didn’t want to share! I don’t eat meat on the bone so I wasn’t overly impressed with the wings ( I did try one but barely touched it before I got to the bone…ewww) but I can say they are tender and spicy!

A little while later we were given some information on the special burger and the ingredients and placed our order,ย  excited to try the combination of flavours. As part of their collaboration with Estrella Daura, a Spanish brand, Honest have created a burger full of Spanish ingredients; beef, crispy lomo ham, GF romesco sauce, tetilla cheese & grilled red peppers. Romesco sauce, as Honest Burgers creator extraordinaire Tom explained, is normally made using breadcrumbs and therefore is unsuitable for Coeliacs, however they’ve spent time crafting a gluten free recipe so that we can all enjoy it too!
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The burger itself was cooked as perfectly as always. Mine was a little more pink than I had asked for but I fully enjoyed it still. One suggestion made by Kim that I completely agree with is that the lettuce shouldn’t be on the bottom because it causes the burger to slip out of the bun. A few of us also struggled to notice the lomo ham, but after having a chat with Tom we agreed it was most likely down to the positioning that perhaps caused it’s lovely taste to be lost. The romesco sauce is gorgeous but definitely makes for messy eating! I think I had most of it dripping down my wrist, so be prepared! All part of the experience though….

The buns they use are by Antoinette Savill, a product that was previously sold in Waitrose stores. I think the buns are great as they don’t crumble to pieces in your hand as you’re eating! The chips, as always taste fantastic, the mix of the salt and rosemary working really well together.

This special burger will be available until 17th October at King’s Cross. If you’re in the vicinity, I highly recommend you pop in and sample one for yourself….don’t forget the beer!

A big thank you to Tom and the team for a fantastic evening and for the offer to sample the burgers.

Quinoa stuffed peppers

Being a wannabe vegetarian (honestly, I’m quite fussy with meat and aside from increasing it in my diet lately due to my fitness training, I usually go for vegetarian options over meat), I’ve always loved stuffed peppers. Whenever my Mum and I have made them at home in the past, Cous Cous or rice have always formed the base of the stuffing, so for a protein-rich and Coeliac friendly option I’ve started to make them with quinoa instead. I actually think I prefer them this way.

 

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Quinoa (pronounced Keen-wa) is an ancient grain that’s naturally gluten free. In recent years, its popularity has increased and it’s the perfect gluten free substite for pasta and Cous Cous. It’s much more nutrient-rich unlike the glutinous counterparts too. Many people struggle to warm to quinoa, but this was never the case for me. Aside from a few cooking issues when I first got hold of some, I’ve never questioned the taste or texture. I far prefer it to the Cous Cous in my pre-Coeliac days and I find it much lighter than rice. It’s a great accompaniment to a hot dish, brilliant in summery salads and even makes a great porridge alternative. I’ve even converted my Mum!

For the stuffed peppers, I used a couple of tablespoons of quinoa mixed with basil pesto, pine nuts, red onion, spinach and cherry tomatoes. Topped with a little cheddar cheese, it’s a great dish to make for just yourself or for a dinner party. We’d run out of salad so I lazily ate these on their own, however they’d be fantastic served on a bed of rocket or spinach.

 

Quinoa Stuffed Peppers

(I made just one for myself, I’d suggest doubling the recipe for two people, or just sharing this along with other dishes)

 

1 red pepper, halved from top to bottom

1/4 small red onion, finely chopped

5 cherry tomatoes, halved then halved again

6 spinach leaves, chopped finely

Handful of pine nuts

2 tbsp Sacla Fiery Chilli Pesto

2-3 tbsp cooked quinoa

Small block of cheddar cheese, thinly sliced

 

  1. Heat the oven to 180ยฐC. Place the pepper halves on a baking tray and place to one side.
  2. In a bowl, place the quinoa, red onion, tomatoes and spinach. Mix together well.
  3. Add the pine nuts and pesto and mix well again.
  4. Spoon the mixture into each pepper half, making sure you push it into the corners.
  5. Top with the cheese slices and bake in the oven for around 20 minutes, until the cheese has melted and the pepper has softened.
  6. Serve and enjoy!

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Sweetcorn Fritters

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Sweetcorn fritters are a childhood favourite of mine…or Sweetcorn Critters as they were called in my kids cookbook. I can clearly remember having friends over and all we would do is make chocolate cornflake cakes (yum), then cook fritters for lunch whilst they chilled. Any time my friends came round they would ask if we could have them for lunch! Years later and about to turn 25, these are still a firm favourite and a comfort food for me. These days, I like to add herbs and spices to them for a bit of flavour, but I still like to keep things simple. After all, you don’t change a good forumla!

These are perfect for kids, great for a savoury breakfast or brunch and also good for a quick lunch at work. Serve on their own topped with grated cheese, with a little yoghurt and parsley (my adult favourite), as an accompaniment to bacon and eggs or with salad…there’s plenty of ways to enjoy them!

Even variations are simple to do! Why not add spring onion or ham? Replace the sweetcorn with courgette or pepper? The variations are fun to play with and don’t make the recipe any more complicated, so you can tailor them to any tastes.

A simple recipe that makes everyone happy!

Sweetcorn Fritters

2 eggs
2tbsp self-raising flour (I use Dove’s Farm)
2tbsp milk (I use St Helen’s Farm Goat’s milk, semi-skimmed)
225g/ 1 can sweetcorn, drained
Salt and pepper to taste
Fry Lite

  1. In a bowl, crack the egg and add the flour and milk. Beat until well combined.
  2. Add the sweetcorn mix well. Add the seasoning and repeat.
  3. Heat a couple of sprays of Fry Lite in a frying pan. When the oil is hot, add 2 tablespoons of the fritter mixture to make mini fritters.
  4. Cook for around 3 minutes on a medium heat until brown underneath, then carefully flip and repeat on the other side.
  5. Repeat with the remaining mixture
  6. Serve on a plate with the toppings/accompaniments and enjoy.

 

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Variations I often use:

  • Add a handful of chopped parsley to the mixture at the same time as the seasoning. Then serve topped with yoghurt (Total Greek yoghurt works really well or I’m currently trying Alpro Soya yoghurt) and a couple of parsley leaves.
  • Add some chopped ham to the mixture at the same time as the sweetcorn.
  • Add some finely chopped spring onion to the mixture at the same time as the sweetcorn.
  • Omit the sweetcorn and use courgette instead- grate it then add to the mixture.
  • I often had 1/4 tsp of chilli flakes at the same time as the seasoning
  • For a tomato base, add 1tbsp tomato puree into the mixture and combine well

Serving suggestion for Brunch (or a brunch style dinner)

Make the sweetcorn fritters as per the recipe above, using the first variation with parsley. I like to make these whilst the tomato mixture is simmering, so I can serve them at the same time.

1 rasher bacon
1 small clove of garlic, finely chopped
1tsp coconut oil (I use LucyBee)
1/2 small red onion, chopped into large chunks
1/4 red pepper, chopped into large chunks
Handful of cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 can chopped tomatoes
Salt, pepper and chopped parsley to taste
1/4 tsp chilli flakes
1 egg, poached

  1. In a pan, heat the oil and add the garlic. Cook until softened, watching it doesn’t burn, then add the bacon.
  2. Once the bacon has cooked, add the rest of the vegetables and sautee for a few minutes until softened.
  3. Add the chopped tomatoes , chilli flakes and seasoning and stir well. Simmer for around 15 minutes until it has reduced down.
  4. Poach the egg in water.
  5. One the sauce has reduced, transfer it to a serving dish and place the egg on top.
  6. Garnish with some parsley leaves and serve with the fritters

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If you have a mini skillet, make the mixture as above but in the skillet rather than a pan. The you can crack the egg on top of the mixture (make sure it’s cooking at a high temperature) and poach the egg that way. Then, you can just serve that straight to the table rather than transferring between dishes.

This mixture was perfect for me for dinner. If making for two I’d suggest doubling it.