Friday, 8 March 2019

NOT a lifestyle Choice - why the Free From Food industry needs to reconnect with it's primary consumers

I published this in 2014 but it's oh-so-pertinent again. Marks and Spencer recently introduced their "Plant Kitchen" range in response to the new Vegan trend (nothing wrong with that) but forgot those of us NOT dealing with choice and included wheat and dairy in meals/foods previously free of these allergens. Sainsbury's started slapping "may contain ...  all of the top 14 allergens" on their fresh meat and now the media are flagging up the "chemicals" in gluten free foods. It's time we remembered why the such foods exist, and what their primary market is.

In my inbox this morning was a request to complete a short and sweet questionnaire about "Free From" foods. Right I thought, I'm a bit of an expert on that one... should only take me a minute! So I duly clicked on the link... how long could it take?!

Well that depends on whether you find the questionnaire possible to complete in the first place, and whether it triggers a response like this or not :-

So why I am getting so hot under the collar about an innocuous set of questions? Well here they are:-

I'll tell you what my "attitude" towards them is; that they are an essential, vital form of sustenance for my children who would otherwise become very ill. Foods which are sold as if I should be grateful, which are often poor in nutritional content and high in price, which we cannot do without.
It wouldn't be so bad if the first option in question 2 was "Medical Necessity" - because after all, that is the main reason the "Free From" food industry exists, even if it has become something of a fad amongst many, and this growth in consumption of "dietary" foods has undoubtedly increased production, which benefits us all. However, if the main focus for it's existence is forgotten, short cuts will be taken and those with medical needs will be the first to miss out precisely because  - and hear we come to the crux of the argument - for us it's NOT a CHOICE! 

Eating "freefrom" food is not a lifestyle choice for the vast majority, it's a no-alternative, medically imposed way of life and to suggest otherwise is both ignorant and offensive.

So when faced with a questionnaire asking me to rate answers as to why I choose "free from" food in order of importance, seeing options such as "helps weight loss" and "they are lower calorie" makes me not a little cross!

Sunday, 20 January 2019

Traybake Cake - GF, WF, EF, DF, SF, NF

This is a new favourite here! It's basically a simple sponge cake mixture with everything substituted as necessary. It can be a cup cake, single cake or traybake cake, whatever takes your fancy, the basic ratio is 4:4:4:2 or 6:6:6:3 for sugar:margarine:flour:eggs and you can scale it up to suit. So 6oz sugar, 6oz margarine, 6oz self raising flour and three eggs. the numbers don't sound quite so neat with grams, but it's the same ratio! I decorated with Betty Crocker frosting and safe marshmallows and sprinkles. 

My youngest son pronounced it delicious - then post on Instagram as "Archie Berry" that it was "very tasty, very soft on the inside, crisp on the outside with a beautiful blend of flavour."!! Praise indeed! It didn't last long... but definitely kept well overnight.

#traybake #cake #glutenfree #eggfree #dairyfree #soyafree #nutfree

  • 170g (6oz margarine 
  • 170g (6oz) caster sugar 
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • 170g (6oz) self-raising flour (I use Doves Farm) 
  • tsp additional gluten-free baking powder
  • 3 eggs or egg replacer for 3 eggs
  • your choice of icing/decoration

  • Preheat the oven to 180C (170C Fan) then lightly grease an 8" square tin, or similar capacity tin
  • Beat together caster sugar and margarine until light and creamy.
  • Mix up egg replacer for 3 eggs or break 3 eggs and whisk.
  • Sift flour, baking powder and mixed spice into a large mixing bowl. 
  • Gradually add the eggs/egg replacer to the sugar/margarine mixture.
  • Add the vanilla essence
  • Sift flour and baking powder into a large mixing bowl. 
  • Now combine first the eggs slowly if beating by hand, then gradually add the flour and additional baking powder.
  • TIP :  if the mixture curdles add some flour!
  • If you are using a mixer, you can safely add eggs and flour all together, then combine.
  • Tip the mixture into the prepared tin, levelling the top with the back of a spoon. 
  • Bake for 20-25 mins until golden on top. 
  • Leave to cool for ten minutes before transferring to a wire rack. DO NOT CUT until fully cool.
  • Decorate as you please!
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