Sunday, 8 November 2015

Genius healthier breads and recipes

I was recently invited by Genius to a cooking evening with Lucinda Bruce-Gardyne.

The kitchen in full swing
The purpose of the evening was to introduce their new healthier breads and an array of recipes that will soon be available on their blog.

When I arrived at L’Atelier des Chefs in the City, I was greeted by a small and lovely group of people, including Lucinda and her team and a few other bloggers.

Lucinda herself led the session, talking to us about the new range of healthier breads they have just launched. We had a chance to taste the breads at the event and to use them for our cooking session.

I eat the triple seeded loaf regularly, and I've been buying the new one since the event without noticing any difference in flavour, so I'd like to say: Thank You Genius for making my everyday multiseeded healthier!

As I still had one of the old packs around, I've compared the nutritional value of the old and new multiseeded breads by slice (36gr), here it is:

Calories: 104 in both old and new
Fat: 3.4g in the new bread (from 4.5g in the old recipe)
of which saturates: 0.3g (from 0.4g)
Carbohydrate: 15g (from 14g)
of which sugars: 1.1g (from 0.9g)
Fibre: 3.6g (from 3.8g)
Protein: 1.5g (from 2.1g)
Salt: 0.22g (from 0.37g)

As you can see from the data above, the main changes are in the amount of fat and salt.
Genius has addressed a growing concern of mine and I think many gluten-free consumers about the contents of salt, sugar and fat in many free from products.

If I think of my own gluten free journey since diagnosis, it has been full of ups and downs.
Downs when you have to wave goodbye to those foods you can no longer have, to ups when you find substitutes that fill that space, to more lows once you realise how unhealthy some of them can be, and now I can see a new high coming if other producers follow this trend.

After the presentation, we moved on to the cooking itself and I have to complement L’Atelier des Chefs for such a great venue. The space is great and it's set up for a small group, so you feel a bit  like being in the masterchef kitchen, but without Gregg and John judging!

We made some Falafel, Hummus and Tzatziki, which we later served with Genius Pitta Bread, and ended the session cooking Bread and Butter Pudding with Chocolate and Chilli, yum!

Falafel and hummus
I found the recipes very easy to follow and it was great to cook together in a small group and have fun checking out everyone’s progress.

I would love to say my dishes were good looking as well as tasty. Fortunately thanks to a total meltdown of my phone, no further photographic evidence is available ;)

I learned a lot of cooking tips from this event, and in my experience, even though there are many books and recipes out there, nothing beats having a professional chef leading a live cooking session.

For example, I have made hummus before, but I didn't realise how important the type of tahini paste used affects the final taste. Only by talking to Lucinda I learned that light tahini gives the hummus a smoother taste, as the darker varieties are made with toasted seeds and give it a much stronger flavour.

I also learned that, when making falafel, it is the final coating with polenta that gives them that nice structure and finish.
My own mix ended up a bit too moist, as I think I wasn't very precise when measuring the ingredients, and yet, they look reasonable ...

So all in all, it was a brilliant evening, I am glad I had the chance to attend, sample many of the new Genius products and learn a lot of new cooking tricks from Lucinda and her team.

To find out more about Genius:

To find out more about couses at Atelier des Chefs:

Tuesday, 13 October 2015

Barrafina Adelaide Street

Barrafina is quickly becoming one of my favourite restaurants, not only because their tapas are just something else, or their staff are so attentive, but also because they know a lot about food and cross contamination, and they'll go out of their way to ensure you are safe eating there.

I also love watching the kitchen in full swing behind the bar, so many delicious smells, so many good looking dishes coming out!

The food is fantastic as it was on this most recent occasion, when amongst other things I sampled some Gildas (lovely pickle morsels on a stick), cod on a bed of black rice (amazing!!!), pork tenderloin medallions and lots of other super tasty tapas.

Fully recommended!

Barrafina Covent Garden
10 Adelaide St, London WC2N 4HZ

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Ilumi sauces - Free From gluten, nuts and milk

Full range of Ilumi sauces
I loved many things about Ilumi when I met them at the Allergy Show last year.

I like the way they pack their meals, in a very easy to use pouch.
I like the fact that all ingredients and nutritional information is displayed loud and proud at the front of the package.
I like the fact that their ingredients are natural and all free from gluten, nuts and milk.

I've loved the products I've tried so far, so I was very pleased when I was offered the chance to try their range of sauces.
They have developed a range of recipes to make the most of their sauces, which I thought was brilliant, giving me a chance to eat something I haven't had before.

Great tomato sauce for a pizza!
Well, this is not strictly true... who hasn't had pizza?
This is the first sauce I tried, the Tomato and Herb Sauce.

All the ingredients are clearly displayed at the front of the pack, and they include: Tomatoes, Water, Onion, Tomato Puree, Vegetable Stock, Olive Oil, Carrot, Cornflour, Sugar, Sea Salt, Thyme, basil, black pepper.
One pouch serves two, and it was plenty to cover two pizza bases (bought at M&S earlier!). There are only 154 kcals per pouch, which I think is very reasonable.

I used their recipe for a topping of caramelised red onion and goats cheese, and it was very very nice, the flavours really go well together!

I really liked the taste of this sauce, the fresh tomato flavour comes through vividly, and it reminded me of when I was a kid and my mum made tomato sauce with the juiciest tomatoes of the season.
The only improvement I would make to this sauce would be in the amount of herbs, as I personally like herbs a lot. What I did was to add some Italian seasoning from my cupboard that complemented the sauce very well.
I was thinking this would be also a great sauce to have with pasta, adding some mushrooms and spinach.

The second sauce I tried was the Sweet Chilli Stir Fry Sauce, with the recipe for Spicy Sweet Chilli Chicken Wings.
I used chicken drumsticks instead, keeping them in the oven for an additional 15 mins to ensure they were cooked properly.

Ingredients: Water, Onion, Sugar, Tomato Puree, White Wine Vinegar, Cornflour, Soy Sauce, Red Chilli, Honey, Rapeseed Oil, Ginger, Sea Salt, Burnt Sugar Syrup, Chilli Powder

I found this sauce was great for that barbecue texture, a bit sticky and sweet, and yet, only 194 kcals per pouch (serves 2), which I though was brilliant.
They say on their website that this is a mild sauce, and it is very mild, perfect for those who don't like over spiced sauces.
I was somehow expecting a very hot chilli sauce, maybe Ilumi would consider launching an additional sauce in the range with an extra hot chilli flavour?
I love this marinated beef!

The third sauce I've tried is their Sweet Soy and Ginger Stir fry Sauce, which is so far my favourite. I am not surprised it was highly commended in the Free From Food Awards 2015 in the store cupboard category.

Ingredients: Water, Onion, Soy Sauce, Rapeseed Oil, Sugar, Vegetable Stock, Ginger, Lemon Juice (sulphites), Cornflour, Garlic, Red Chilli, Lime Leaves, Lemon Grass, Galangal, Sea Salt, Chilli Powder
This sauce is a bit higher in calories, at 228 kcal per pouch

The recipe offers two ways of serving the marinated beef, over lettuce leaves or on rice noodle nests as a starter for four, which was fun to make.
Both options tasted really nice, and I loved the nooddle presentation.

Overall, I thought the sauces I've tried so far are of a very good quality, easy to use and very convenient in their pouches. They also have a long shelf life, so ideal to keep for those days when you want to make something a bit special but don't want to make everything from scratch, and very reasonably priced at £1.79 on their website.

And I still have two more sauces to try, looking forward to it!

You can download their recipes here:

For more information about Ilumi visit:

Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Busaba Eathai - part 2

Chicken Satay and Fishcakes, both GF
I had visited Busaba Eathai earlier in the year, and, although I loved the food, and I had a brilliant service from the staff, there was a bit of confusion regarding what was gluten free.

So, as I was around Kingston recently, I decided to go back, dreaming of their lovely Pad Thai...

I was very pleasantly surprised to see that they have improved their menu, and now all the gluten-free and vegetarian options are marked clearly on it. That was fantastic! I still thought it would be wise to highlight it with our server, just to ensure the kitchen were aware of it, but overall, I thought it was a brilliant improvement and one that will encourage me to visit more often ;)

Pad Thai GF
What did I have?
Well, the Pad Thai obviously, and I shared with my friend the two starters that are gluten-free, chicken satay and fishcakes, and I thought they were both good.

Also I checked the sauces on the table. Obviously the soy sauce is out of bounds,but the chilli sauce and fish sauce have no gluten containing ingredients.

There are several gluten free options on this menu: two starters, two wok noodle dishes, four curries, and four sides (menu available online).

Overall, I love the location in Kingston riverside, great to go for a walk along the river afterwards. I enjoyed the food and I was not unwell at all.
I would be very happy to recommend Busaba Eathai to any gluten-free eaters.

Busaba Eathai
Kingston branch: 4 Riverside Walk, London KT1 1QN
12 locations around London: Shoreditch, The O2, Hoxton Square, Soho, Bloomsbury, Leicester Square, Covent Garden, Stratford, Chelsea

Saturday, 30 May 2015


Lately I am relaxing a bit about eating out, and I don't always do lots of research about restaurants in advance.

I guess there is a lot more awareness about Coeliacs out there, and also restaurants have to comply with the new EC regulation on disclosing allergens.

Personally I am more confident too about asking all sorts of questions, and specially in London, I know I'm always within reach of a tried and tested restaurant, and that has given me a lot of peace of mind.

It was on one of this 'whatever' days that I found myself eating at Barrafina.

This is a modern tapas bar, with two sites in London, one in Soho (with a Micheling star) and one in Covent Garden, which is the one I visited.
This is not a typical restaurant, and it's obvious since you go in that food is king here.

The layout of the restaurant is a long L-shaped bar with fixed stools on one side and the open kitchen and waiters area in the other.
It is great to see what is being cooked in front of you, and definitely gave me many ideas for what to order in future visits.

The staff were very knowledgeable about gluten. The menu is printed on individual paper place mats and as soon as we mentioned our gluten intolerance they clearly crossed off the dishes we could not eat and could not be adapted. That still left plenty of options for us to enjoy.

We settled for a collection of omelettes, as we could not decide which one was more appetizing, some rice, and pintxos morunos (marinated pork on a skewer). I was gazing longingly at the razor clams too, as they looked amazing, although I had just enough space for a pudding.
Clearly a second visit is needed.

To finish, I had the Flan (creme caramel) and my friends a mango sorbet and creme fraiche ice-cream. Although they were all good, the creme fraiche ice-cream was absolutely amazing.

It was a very interactive experience, I don't know if it was because of our food intolerances that we had to keep asking many questions, but the staff were very knowledgeable, checking that we were happy at all times, and it was fantastic to see all those lovely dishes being cooked in front of your eyes.

I guess this venue is better enjoyed in a small group, as the stools cannot be moved. They are also a bit high and I almost had to climb onto mine.

Overall I would be happy to recommend Barrafina as a gluten free dining destination.
I didn't feel unwell at all after eating here, the staff are very knowledgeable about their fantastic food and because it is cooked there and then in front of you there is a chance to change things a bit to suit your intolerances/tastes.

Covent Garden: 10 Adelaide Street, Covent Garden, London, WC2N 4HZ
Soho: 54 Frith Street, London, W1D 4SL

Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Pastificio Mansi - Fresh gluten free pasta

I was approached recently by Emanuela from Pastificio Mansi to ask if I would be interested in trying her new gluten free fresh pasta.

She is an artisan pasta maker who currently trades at a few London markets and has been experimenting with gluten free pasta for a while.
I clearly couldn't say no to trying it, as I love Italian GF pasta, and fresh pasta even more!

I met the lovely Emanuela in central London and a parcel changed hands. She was telling me about the quality in-season ingredients she uses for the fillings, and I could see it is a labour of love, and that she wouldn't be happy with a product she wasn't proud of.

She gave me two samples, one with a filling of Kake (+ pine nuts, Ricotta and Parmesan), and another with sundried tomatoes (+ oregano, toasted almonds, Ricotta and Parmesan).

I loved both of them. It is clearly an artisan quality product, and I'm glad I was offered the chance to try it.
What did I like most about this pasta?
The filling in this pasta is very generous, and the combination of ingredients quite tasty, you can actually recognise the ingredients in it. This tells me Emanuela is serious about making great quality pasta, and she is not cutting corners in the filling.

The pasta doesn't crumble like other gluten free pastas, and it kept it's shape very well while cooking and eating it, even my gluten-eating sister loved it and couldn't taste the gluten free in it.
I didn't feel unwell at all after eating it, so definitely gluten free, fantastic!
The pasta is sold in 100gr portions at £2.5 for fresh tagliatelle and £3 for the filled fresh pasta

She is currently trading at:
Crystal Palace food market on Saturdays (10am to 3pm)
Fulham market every 2nd and 4th Saturday of the month
Brook Green Market every 1st, 3rd, 5th Saturday of the month
Islington Farmers Market - Chapel Market in Angel every 1st, 3rd, 5th Sunday of the month
Check out other venues on twitter and facebook

Pastificio Mansi
Facebook: pastificiomansi
Twitter: @pasticiomansi

Sunday, 8 February 2015

Romeos Gluten Free bakery - Islington

Romeos has been open for a while, and I'd seen their mouthwatering products at various events, but I hadn't had the chance to visit the bakery yet.
So recently I went on a Sunday afternoon with a friend.
It was quite busy, but thankfully we managed to get a seat.

It is great to know that all their products are gluten-free, and they also have an information sheet at the front of the counter where you can see all the ingredients used in their bread and cakes, brilliant if you are intolerant or allergic to more than one thing.

This is what it said:
"All our bread is gluten-free and baked on our premises fresh from scratch.
Ingredients: Potato flour, Rice flour, Tapioca flour, Eggs, Yeast, Salt, Vinegar, Water"

According to their website, they also cater for sugar-free, egg-free and dairy-free diets, although I did not check what was available when I visited.

I did enjoy my cheese cake and I didn't feel unwell at all after eating it.
I've heard comments about it's prices, but I'd say they are probably no more expensive than other bakeries in the area.

Overall, I find that it's worth paying a bit extra to be able to relax about food safety, and I can eat anything I fancy from Romeos without having to ask endless questions, so I'll be happy to visit again when I'm in Islington.

Romeos Gluten Free bakery
167 Upper Street, London, N1 1US

Monday, 19 January 2015

Two coeliacs and a lactose intolerant walk into ... Nandos

Avocado and sweet bean salad with chicken
Nandos is such a simple option when you are coeliac/gluten-intolerant.
I've been here many times and never had a problem being ill afterwards, which is great!

I was with two friends around Vauxhall recently, not known for the best place to cater for gluten-free eaters, and decided to pop into the new Nandos by the station.

The restaurant is very nice, it looks newly refurbished, and it's located just under the railway arches. They have kept the shape on the ceiling, which gives it a very spacious feel.

You always know what you get at Nandos, and although I forgot to take a picture of my chicken with chips and salad, I managed to get one from the avocado and green bean salad that one of my friends was having.
We just asked at the till to double check that our order was gluten-free and they mentioned it to the manager.

I've always had excellent service at Nandos, and it was the same on this occasion, very attentive staff and uncomplicated food. Not bad at all.

Various branches around London and the UK

Sunday, 18 January 2015

Busaba Eathai

Pad Thai
Busaba Eathai was one of my favourite restaurants before my gluten-free days, in particular the duck with tamarind sauce was a must-have on all my visits.
As there is no allergy information on their website, I've been avoiding it for a few years, but recently I called one of their restaurants and they reassured me they had gluten-free options.
So there I was on a quiet lunchtime at their restaurant on Kingston Riverside.

This location is lovely, as the windows from the restaurant open onto the river and the riverside walk, and you forget that you are in the middle of a busy shopping area.

The staff were very friendly and when I mentioned my gluten-free requirements, I got a quick run through the menu of what I could have.
Having forgotten half of it 5 minutes later, I asked again and another waiter came along with a folder containing their allergy information.

Chinese broccoli
I was happy to hear that their Pad Thai noodles were gluten-free and surprised but happy to hear that the spring rolls were too, which we planned to share as a starter. Unfortunately my excitement was short lived.

When our food came along and I asked again about it all being gluten-free, and was told the spring rolls were actually NOT gluten-free.

It was a bit of a disappointment, but they offered me another starter for free, and I got some Chinese broccoli.

I have to say the food was very very nice, and I'm likely to go again, as both dishes were fantastic.
It seems to me that the error was in the folder containing the allergy information, as our waiter checked it twice and was convinced it was gluten-free.

So a suggestion for Busaba Eathai would be to double check the information on their folders and to have it available online.
Many of us with food intolerances and allergies love to eat out, but also need to plan in advance where to go so that we can eat safely too.
Having allergy information available online would make our life so much easier, as we could clear out any concerns before we go to the restaurant and it would make the whole experience of eating out with family and friends a much happier one.

January offer: Busaba Eathai have launched a new app (you have to set up your card details), and you get 50% of your bill if you use it during January. The app gives you a 4 digit code that you give to your server and voila! you get 50% of your bill. It can be used as many times as you want.

Busaba Eathai
Address: 4 Riverside Walk, Kingston upon Thames, KT1 1QN
Many other locations across London

Thursday, 8 January 2015

Olive garden - Italian restaurant in Southfields with many gluten free options

As a gluten-free food lover, I enjoy finding new places to try, specially if they are easy for me to get to, and I cannot remember how, but as I was doing some research on Google, I came across Olive Garden, an Italian restaurant in Southfields with plenty of gluten-free options and just a short walk from the station.

Well, I had to check their online menu, and I found out that very much all their pasta and pizza dishes can be ordered gluten-free.

I really wanted to try their pizzas, as the base looks quite thin, just how I like it, and the ingredients on their Caprino pizza were calling me (Mozzarella, spicy sausage, smoked chicken, goats cheese & sundried tomato).
I don't know why, but lately I am obsessed with Goats cheese, hopefully this phase will not last too long, as I'm trying to stay away from dairy too.

So I asked as many questions I could think of about how they prepare their pizzas, about any risk of cross contamination, and they happily explained it all to me.

It seems that they get the gluten-free pizza bases externally and they are cooked separately in the kitchen to avoid cross contamination.
I didn't feel unwell at all after eating here, so, one to come back to.

The restaurant was very welcoming, the staff friendly and attentive and the pizza was very nice too. I was happy with their understanding of gluten and cross contamination, and I'd be happy to recommend it.

Olive Garden
Tube: Southfields
Address: 42 Replingham Road, Southfields, London SW18 5LR
Tel: 020 8877 0411 

Tuesday, 6 January 2015

Château Dessert Chiswick

Happy New Year everyone!

It has been a while since my last post, as life sometimes gets in the way, but fear not, I've been out and about enjoying many gluten free meals, so it will all be revealed soon!

Bottom left: Choc and orange, top: mango, right fresh fruit tart
For my last gluten free outing of 2014, I visited Chateau Dessert in Chiswick.

I had been quietly stalking them on twitter for a while, looking at all those cake marvels and dreaming of starting at one end of the counter to finish at the other (all in the name of research of course!).

You will be glad to hear I managed to control myself and only ordered one cake, although my friends were kind enough to let me try theirs.

Chateau Desserts looks from the outside like an upmarket patisserie, with lots of gorgeous little morsels to tempt you, and when you go in, you discover two counters, one for all the gluten-free cakes, one for the others.

Within the gluten-free cakes, at least 3 were dairy free too when I visited, which is brilliant, as so many coeliacs also have trouble with dairy.
I have to say one of my companions was dairy-free but not gluten-free, so it might be an idea to have some cakes for others like her.

There are also some lunch options available, and for us gluten-free eaters you can have one of their savoury tarts. They are served with a side salad, and I loved my goats cheese and onion tart.

Once you have ordered, you can make your way to the upstairs room and they'll bring it to you (there is also a basement that I did not visit). We had some coffee and tea as well and it was a fantastic afternoon.

gluten-free goats cheese tart & salad
So, what did I ordered? As I've mentioned earlier, I had the goats cheese tart for lunch which was great and then the chocolate and orange cake, which I really loved.

The texture was quite creamy, very close to a mousse once you get through the chocolate coating.

I also tried the mango pudding and the tart with fresh fruit that my friends were having, and, although they were both nice, I would still stick with my first choice.

The price for the gluten-free cakes was £3.75 to take away or £4.75 to eat in.

Overall, I would be happy to recommend Chateau Dessert, there are plenty of delicious gluten-free choices and their seating area upstairs is very welcoming, airy and nicely decorated.

Chateau Dessert
Tube: Turnham Green
213 Chiswick High Road, London W4 2DW
Tel: 020 8742 2344