Thursday, 11 July 2013

"Free From" Food Industry Exposed

Tonight's "The One Show" exposes the urban myths about "Free From" food. 

It's about time someone blew the whistle on the booming food industry in the West supplying "Free From food for those diagnosed with food allergies and intolerances and I was delighted that the BBC has chosen to highlight this industry. One of the main reasons I set up the "Recipe Resource" was precisely because of this surge in "Free From" products which seemed to be exempt from the increasingly high nutritional standards we have come to expect from the food we buy. I couldn't bring myself to feed my children the majority of the food on offer which was compatible with their medically prescribed exclusion diet.

 As I've said for years, so much of this food is poor quality, full of cheap non-food fillers like corn starch which can mess with your insulin production and blood sugar regulation in the long term, causing hypos in many on restricted diets. Sugar and salt content is often higher too, to disguise the lack of natural flavour. It's why I won't buy anything I can make myself - but we are lucky that the twins can tolerate more than many people I know.

Many people falsely believe "Free From" food is automatically healthier too. This is of course true in some respects, if you have Coeliac Disease then yes, a gluten free loaf (a third the size of a regular one costing £2.99) IS the healthier option but I do hate the trend for "free from" exclusion diets amongst some celebrities who have little or no idea of the impact publicising false health "benefits" can have. But what is particularly depressing is that my children, like so many other children and adults are dependent on the "allergy" food industry to meet their nutritional needs - whether partially or fully. We have no choice. Without a strict exclusion diet my son was heading towards bowel surgery due to chronic inflammation and resultant nerve damage due to local allergic reaction to foods. It is a medically prescribed diet which we have no choice but to follow, but this should not also be a nutritional compromise when we pay over and above the cost of similar regular foods.

It's time we had some real regulations, respect for those who are genuinely allergic and provision for healthy alternatives. There are many reasons why people exclude foods from their diet. IgE allergies, non-IgE gut allergies and intolerances are perhaps the most common, but whatever the reason those purchasing such foods need honest selling and deserve a basic nutritional standard. Manufacturing"Free From" food is a massive money spinner and people are being taken advantage of. At present we are being sold such food as if we should just be grateful. How about selling it for its content, what IS in it rather than what left out?

I've been saying all this for years.

Wednesday, 3 July 2013


This is a general post about cakes, the birthday cake post I wrote some time ago is still valid, in so much as it works well, and the cake is still available. Tesco's chocolate version is even more yummy though!

It comes ready iced too, always a bonus! All our family love this moist, chocolatey cake.

There are lots of options now, it is definitely getting easier to find cake alternatives or ingredient alternatives. My children love decorating their own cakes and biscuits with icing pens too.

If you prefer a dry mix, I have tried two recently. The Hale and Hearty mix on the right (which is good but I prefer their brownie mix for taste)
and the Glebe Farm Mix which is fool proof, works every time and I would love to know why it is so much better than my own efforts when the ingredients are pretty much the same!

My friend Suzanne at "Free From for Kids" has a reliable stock of the Hale and Hearty mix, sometimes found in Sainsbury's and the Glebe Farm one is increasingly available at local outlets like farm shops etc. They make a blueberry muffin mix, carrot cake mix and pizza base mix which I have recently bought to try. Muffins were very successful!

Of course, you can use a regular sponge cake recipe (4oz/100g of flour, same of marge, same of caster sugar with 2 eggs) and substitute everything for free from ingredients which I do very successfully pretty frequently. Works fine with muffins and if you can tolerate banana they help with the rising for beautifully tall cupcakes and muffins.

There are lots of variations on this theme on the "Sweet Treats" page. There is a fantastic chart for alternatives to egg in cakes here too.

Happy Baking! 

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