Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Hotel Chocolat Review Box

When we were asked if we would like to review some gluten free products from Hotel Chocolat, we had no idea what a treat was in store for us. We were rather stunned when a splendid package arrived, and it was pretty much a chocoholics paradise in our house. We were sent a Triple Chocolate Wham Bam bar, 500g in size, a box of Classic Champagne truffles, and The Large Signature Chocolate collection.


Where do we start? The Wham Bam chocolate bar, which is a pretty impressively sized specimen of chocolate, was squabbled over by children and adult's alike and has something for everyone, in it, with a little milk, a little dark and a swirl of white chocolate to finish it off. The children and my husband had to break it into small pieces to enjoy over a few days, because I am mean and wouldn't let them eat it all in one go.... This would be a perfect Christmas present for a chocolate lover, a great stocking filler or just as something different from your usual chocolate bar.

The Large Signature Collection, when we opened it, made my husband's eyes light up, like it WAS Christmas. Finding gluten free chocolate has got easier, these days, but to find chocolate that is really good quality, with such a good selection, is amazing. Again, we rationed ourselves to one or two a night, to taste test them all, and come up with favourites. All the chocolates were excellent, and it was actually hard to choose which ones were our favourites. There is something in there for everyone's taste, from salted caramel, to plain dark, to nuts/fruit and some sweeter, and some not so sweet. In fact, the only one we both didn't really like was the chilli chocolate, but we discovered our four year old son LOVES chocolate with chilli in, so he was delighted to eat those and was most upset when they were gone. This would be a perfect luxury present for someone who loves to try different chocolates, as a treat, or even as a special alternative to dessert when making a gluten free meal, say for a dinner party, because there are so many lovely chocolates to choose, you could have two or three with a good cup of coffee, and not need pudding. We were very sad when the box was finally empty.


The Classic Champagne truffles are also a perfect gift, or just when you want something that littlle bit more than a normal box of chocolates. They are light, creamy, and not too overpowering. They come in such a pretty box, as well. If you are looking for a gift for a teacher, childminder, or someone you work with, these would be perfect, and they are very, very moreish.


We were very impressed with packaging, presentation and the taste of all the chocolates, and would definately recommened them. If you love chocolate, or know someone who does, any of these items would be a great gift or treat. You can never have too much good chocolate, I think anyone would be happy to eat them, and the fact that they are gluten free is wonderful, because it means you can get them for somoen who is gluten intolerant, and know you are not only getting them something safe they can eat, but also something really special. That's a winner for us.
Written by K Reekie

Thursday, 6 November 2014

The healthy snack box - NutriBox

Recently my husband received a delivery to his office. A box full of snacks for his colleagues. Not the usual style though of short sugary hits but a box full of gluten free nutritious yummy snacks. From fruit crisps to a variety of nuts and tastes through to some chewy bars for when you just need a little more.

All of Nutribox snacks are taste tested by their experts so you know you’re getting the best for you and your employees. All their ingredients are gluten free and have no animal products which make them perfect for everyone in your company! Their criteria for each boxes shines through. Each snack is a healthier alternative to a traditional snack, they’ve been made in such a way that their ingredients maintain a high proportion of nutrients; they haven’t had all their vitamin and mineral beauty processed out of them.

Some of the tastes and choices might seem a little surprising at first – parsnip & manuka crisps for example but actually they were incredibly delicious. I was quite surprised as well by how many of the employees actually side stepped the sweets bags and aimed straight for the healthy box. All of them enjoyed a good root round and everything was tasted. The sheer diversity found within the box ensured that everyone found something for them even if they were looking for a slightly sweet treat. I think what was most liked and talked about were the little packets of Olives. They were just perfect for a mid-afternoon pick me up!

You can choose from two box themes, classic or artisan:


Classic Box (50 items) £40

25 x Dried fruit and nut mixes (5 varieties)
10 x Fruit crisps packs (2 flavours)
10 x Freeze dried fruit packs (2 flavours)
5 x Olives packs

Artisan Box (50 items) £48

20 x Dried fruit and nut mixes (4 varieties)
10 x Energy bars (2 varieties)
5 x Veg crisps packs
5 x Fruit crisps packs
5 x Freeze dried fruit packs
5 x Olives packs


 And each box can be delivered anywhere in the UK and can be ordered through Fruitdrop here.

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Cocoa Runners

Before the realisation I was coeliac I used to indulge occasionally in monthly boxes. This obviously stopped as I discovered so many products had hidden wheat. But more and more companies have realised this and started producing products without. A wonderful example of this is Cocoa Runners. They spend their time travelling the world in search of the perfect chocolate. They hunt out the small batch, single origin & rare chocolate bar that are all ethically produced. You only have to try their chocolate to feel their passion.

You can try out their boxes by:

1, A monthly subscription club which costs £14.95 and fits through your letter box (this includes P&P) no contract, you can cancel at any time. You can order only dark chocolate if that’s the way your taste goes.

2, A gift box for all occasions. A one off payment from £9.95

3, Choose from their chocolate library from 200 bars they stock

I tried out their discovery box and the moment I opened up the box – WOW I had a lovely selection of bars, all very different from each other. They ranged from raw chocolate, dark chocolate and through to milk chocolate. An amazing range of taste and texture is incorporated in these bars. Along with the bars you receive a set of cards telling you about the chocolate and some background and also how to taste the bars and what flavour to look for (a brisk snap sound is an indication of a good chocolate)

Most of the bars only have cocoa bean and a little sugar in (just two ingredients) and I couldn’t believe the difference in taste just from the bean and where the plant had grown. One bar which is the most amazing bar I’ve ever tasted leaves a melting taste of pure honey in your mouth.



The discovery box was an amazing re-education to how I look at chocolate. In the past the darker the chocolate the more bitter it is. One of the sweetest and smoothest in this box had a higher cocoa percentage than anything I’ve tasted. The box and chocolate is incredibly fascinating and a lovely amount of chocolate for the money. If you are looking for a gift for friends or even a little of indulgence for yourself don’t hesitate with ordering! And even better – They ship to both the UK & US! 

Friday, 10 October 2014

Heinz Gluten Free - sneak a peek at their new recipe vids



Heinz brought out their gluten free pasta and sauces a while back, in the range are three shapes of  pasta; Spaghetti, Macaroni and Penne, and two sauces; Tomato and Basil, and Tomato Frito.

The good thing about the range of products is that they are easy to find as you can pick them up in Morrisons, Asda and Tesco, and I even spotted the whole range in a Center Parcs supermarket a while back, which was great when I forgot to bring my gf pasta.

Research by Heinz found a frustration amongst Coeliac and Gluten Intolerance sufferers who found that Gluten Free recipes tend to feel complicated or inaccessible. So to help out on those days where you just need something quick and easy, they have created some simple recipes using their products, along with some snazzy little online vids to show you how to throw it all together.

Heinz have kindly let me publish these vids before the full launch next week, so you can sneek a peek. Do let them know what you think of these recipes in the comments. These are super simple recipes and I think they will really appeal to people who have just gone gluten free and need some reassurance that that gluten free food can still be quick and simple.

Each recipe vid is around 15 seconds long as the ingredients and method are in the video info below the vid, and the vid itself is just a quick view of how to put it together, this really is rapid fire stuff. If you want to pick and choose then the individual links are below, but if you would prefer a full immersion viewing of all five recipes end to end then go for this link! http://youtu.be/CrcoVKArtLE?list=UUM4dQctBqVtM7LsqRajSLOA

First up is Aubergine, Chilli and Feta Feast:
http://youtu.be/CrcoVKArtLE

This is a nice little recipe, and I like that it is topped with feta for a change, which goes with  aubergine well. I would be tempted to fry the aubergine with the onion before adding the sauce, but that can make it a bit greasy sometimes, depends how you like your aubergine really.


Next up we have Caprese Pasta Salad:
http://youtu.be/nu1qqOp2CQU

Nothing too complicated with this recipe, but this is going to have to be some flipping good gluten free penne to stand up to being used in this way. Looks lovely and fresh when its dished up, and the dash of balsamic at the end will jazz things up a bit. Make sure you don't overcook your pasta for this, it's easily done with a gluten free pasta and it's going to ruin a pasta salad like this.


Next is Easy Bake Mac n Cheese:
http://youtu.be/-vjWVlJeqHk

Ummmmm, so this sauce is a ricotta and tomato sauce, so not the 100% cheesy sauce I would expect with a Mac n Cheese. This big dish uses three packets of Heinz sauce plus a tin of tomatoes, so I think this is more of a Mac n Tomato really. Looks nice at the end though, and the ricotta can be seen bubbling away with the tomato sauce at the end which is going to give it a cheesy twang. Much heather than a full cheese version!


Ok, now we have Simple Tomato, Basil and Olive Baked Cod:
http://youtu.be/sAPFV654F4Q

This is a bit more interesting, I like olives and tomato with Cod, and this is the sort of recipe that everyone can enjoy. A bit of mash here makes a change from pasta.




Finally we have Mushroom and Sausage Stir Fry:
http://youtu.be/jNwK5KSylr8

Don't worry, we are not putting sausages with noodles here, this is a spaghetti dish despite the title (It's called Mushroom and Sausage Pasta at the end of the vid). This is a quick way to add a meatball-ish flavour to your pasta sauce, by using chopped up sausages, they cook fast this way too. I would like some parsley on the top of this one, as it's good with sausage and mushrooms, but I know Heinz are trying to keep things simple here.


So that's all five recipes.

Overall there are various extra bits and bobs I would throw in these recipes myself, an extra herb here, a twist of lemon, a sprinkling of something there, but Heinz do a good job of keeping things simple and accessible in these videos, and also the food looks appetizing at the end of each one.

Let me know what you think, which of these recipes would you try, and have you tried the Heinz 'Deliciously Gluten Free' range yourself?

Cat

Monday, 6 October 2014

Introducing Yumbles

Yumbles, don’t you just love the name, is a new online marketplace introducing us to the most original and exciting indie food and drink from across the UK. And lucky for us many, of these amazing independently produced foods are gluten free too.

When you purchase from Yumbles you are in fact purchasing directly from the talented makers who produce the food. Once you’re on their site you can browse the product range in a variety of ways – categories include gifts, snacks, occasions and by diet.  Gluten, dairy, nut free, vegetarian and even vegan are just some of the dietary products their food makers sell. A huge range from pasta, sauces and relishes through to honeys, amazing chocolate drinks and to raw cake pots, marshmallows to dream about and chocolate, popcorn and other amazing treats. I'm half tempted by the Truffle Oil or filled pasta personally.

You can select which delivery suits you and your chosen product is shipped directly from its maker, often freshly made to order. 


The founders, husband and wife team, Katie Kitiri & Simos Kitiris are hugely passionate about food and each product is carefully selected by the Yumbles team of food explorers. Which we’ve recently been invited to join, so we’ll be sharing their new gluten-free treats with you as soon as they come in. It’s proving a huge success so far with introducing these smaller sellers to a wider nation, so why not indulge yourself and go and visit www.yumbles.com?


 Because they are so nice they are sharing a special offer with you lovely readers  IGFB30 and entitles you readers to 30% off until midnight on October 20th 2014 Just pop the code in at the checkout! Now you have no excuse not to treat yourselves! 

Friday, 26 September 2014

Sendme Gluten Free Box Review

Everywhere you turn these days, subscription boxes seem to be the next big hype for all of us foodies out there. While the initial expense of such a service has steered me away from them, I have always been intrigued with whether or not the cost was worth the excitement of receiving a random assortment of goodies each month - especially with the surge of new gluten free products hitting the shelves daily. And frankly, gluten free products are expensive and there’s nothing worse than shelling out hard earned cash for a new gluten free snack that ends of being a total let down (come on - we’ve all been there). Hence the draw to a subscription service, where they will send you a whole box of randomly sized, randomly chosen products to try at a nominal fee. With another not-so-incredible gluten free snack unfinished in my trash can, I thought I would contact the nice people at www.sendmeglutenfree.com to see if they could hook me up with a trial box to review so I could see what all the fuss was about.
Fast forward a few weeks and low and behold, there was a lovely little orange box waiting for me after work one day.


    
Now I will admit, I had high hopes for this little orange box. See, the people behind the Send Me Gluten Free subscription box service also run the Find Me Gluten Free phone app, which has aided me in finding a non-death food option more times than I can count. Easily my favorite and most often used app; it is a fabulous tool for finding gluten free food places all over the US and for providing unbiased, honest reviews from real gluten free peeps. So, I assumed that these people (they have their own media group - www.glutenfreemg.com – how cool is that?) knew what they were doing when they branched out into the subscription box world. And I was not disappointed.
Per the website, each monthly box will have 8 to 12 products of various sizes that can range from food items to personal care items to household items. Here is what my disassembled box (the September box) looked like:


I received 12 items in total: 9 food items, 1 pair of chopsticks (to go with the Pho), and 2 personal products/household items, plus an assortment of product coupons. I really liked the food variety in the box, as it had a baking mix, snacks (snack bar, granola, chips), treats (candy, cookies), easy to prepare meals (soup, wannabe Lunchable™), and cooking spices. It definitely showed that they were trying to appeal to a vast audience with their selections. The highlights of my box were definitely the GoPicnic meal and the cooking spices. I had never heard of or seen either of these brands before and was delighted by them to say the least! Of the 12 products included, I had only come across four of the brands before. Since I have been GF since 2005, I was seriously impressed by this! And my only dud so far? A soy-based snack bar that I probably would have tried at some point otherwise and been upset that I had wasted the money on it.
So am I sold on this particular subscription box service? Absolutely! It was everything I hoped it would be and more. I honestly had to stop myself from devouring all of the items in just one sitting. It is so awesome that I am planning on asking Santa for a subscription this year (hint, hint).
Want your own subscription and can’t wait for a loving relative to get one for you? Here are the details: The subscriptions boxes are sent out the first week of each month and can be set up on four different payment plans: auto-bill month to month for $30, prepay 3 months for $78, prepay 6 months for $144, or prepay 12 months for $240. Sound a little pricey? How about a discount code for all of our loyal readers? Use BLOG20 for 20% off any subscription length to set up your own subscription.
Even better - how about a FREE BOX giveaway from yours truly?

(This is an example of the variety of products that may be found in a box, not the actual contents of what you will receive, since it changes every month…that's the fun of it!)

Over the next week, enter a comment on this review with your name, email address, and what kind of product you would like to receive in a monthly delivery box. A randomly selected winner will receive the Send Me Gluten Free subscription box for the month of November. Unfortunately, this service can only be sent to continental US addresses (including PO Boxes) at this time– but I was promised that they hoped to expand soon (cross your fingers UK!)



Written by K Goodrich, USA     

Monday, 11 August 2014

Amys Kitchen

Convenience foods – normally the first thing to go when one hears “Gluten Free Diet.” The frozen dinners, canned soup, staple go-tos when you get off work late, hubby is out of town, or the simple thought of cooking dinner makes you want to scream. Being on a Gluten Free Diet tends to rule out most things on the inner aisles of the grocery market, less the boring staples of rice. Or at least it used to. Since becoming GF in 2005, I have watched the availability of special diet food go from a game of Hide and Seek at Whole Foods to the forefront of regular chain grocers. Along the way, certain brands have popped up as being leaders in this new industry of providing yummy foods for those who cannot partake in the norm quick meals. Among these brands, is Amy’s Kitchen, Inc – a company specializing in providing unique, allergen and special diet products in all different mediums.

Over the years, I have tried various Amy’s frozen products, from the dinners to the pizzas with mixed results. A lot of their products are multi-category products, aka Gluten Free and Vegan, which can be surprising if you do not realize this when you are eating a burrito and get a mouth full of tofu. Not Amy’s fault by any means, but it makes me pay more attention when grabbing one of their products. Now if you are on a multi-category diet, than obviously this is a bonus for you. With this knowledge in hand and the assignment to write a review, I decided to venture into another category of Amy’s products – good old canned goods.

Since changing my eating lifestyle (or being forced to for that matter), I have missed the ability to have canned soup available for speedy meals at home or on the go. As a household of two full timers, there are some days when there aren’t enough leftovers for lunches the next day or the previous night’s dinner is not something re-heatable (aka fish in a work place microwave – you don’t want to be that person). These moments are perfect examples of the need for easy traveling meals that require minimal effort. So I headed over to http://www.amys.com/ to see what products they offered that would fill this need. And frankly I was shocked at how many products were available under the GF product category. One could seriously scroll down forever looking at all of the options (A kid’s meal?! Who knew!!). I had no idea that Amy’s produced so many varieties of items, from pot pies to desserts. Saying I was overwhelmed is an understatement, but after a few minutes, I was able to shift my attention to the canned goods. I chose a few to look for, as I knew that all of the items would probably not be available at my local grocer. Once at the store, I settled on two – the Organic Chunky Tomato Bisque and the Organic Hearty Spanish Rice and Red Bean Soup

Down to the review – overall I enjoyed both soups greatly. The tomato soup is fantastic, especially when paired with a GF grilled cheese, as I like to do. The chunks of tomato are a nice spin against traditional one note tomato soups and the ingredients taste very fresh. While I enjoyed the tomato bisque more, the red bean soup was also delicious and different from a typical soup. Growing up in New Orleans, Louisiana, I was distinctly drawn to this item for cultural reasons. That being said, it does not compare to Mom’s homemade rice and beans, but for a meal in a pinch, it hits the spot. I did add a bit of spice to mine, but that is obviously a personal taste addition.

In general, I am very pleased with the offerings at Amy’s – especially for those among us who prefer meatless, gluten free and dairy free meals. The variety is limitless and fills an essential lacking in the category of special diet convenience foods. I will definitely be keeping an eye out for new Amy’s products at my local stores and you should too! You will not be disappointed.



Written by K Goodrich, USA