Udis gluten free snacks arrive in the UK

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Udis have launched a range of gluten free snack food which is my polite way of saying junk food. I was hoping it would be food that would work for meals and be healthier. I had to challenge them on the ‘choosing gluten free as a healthy option’ selling point as soon as I read the very long list of ingredients including chemicals aplenty.

However if none of that bothers you and you have become gluten free coming from a diet which previously included Pop Tarts, Pringles and being on first name terms with the local patisserie, which you’d like to continue, then do read on.

I am going to confess their chocolate chip and toffee flavoured muffins were gorgeous and it was nice to have such a treat that was not over sweet as many gluten free items turn out to be. Probably the best gluten free muffin I have ever had that was not home baked.

The bagels were filling indeed  – this is one of their selling points that their foods satiate you somewhat. They did not have enough taste though and I think it would have been better to make them plain rather than try to be a sweet cinnamon affair so you could also have them for lunch. They were cinnamon and raisin but you wouldn’t particular know it – I had hoped they’d be reminiscent of tea cakes or raisin toast once smeared with lovely butter. Sadly not. I have just checked out their full product range and they do have plain bagels too. I was heartened they had more health friendly starches at least in the form of ‘Tapioca Starch, Rice Flour and Potato Starch’. We enjoyed half a bagel each for breakfast. I liked mine with some hazelnut butter and chopped banana.

udis-gluten-free-bagel

Andrew tried the very Pringle like Jalapeno Cheddar Ancient Grain Crisps which he found were coated in a white powder that just tasted overly processed for his liking – too strong a flavor and too artificial.

It took many weeks for anyone in our household to summon up the courage to go near the Pop Tart like toaster pastries . In the end I conceded on a day of many hours working when I was starving hungry and there was nothing else I could have in a hurry. The strawberry are tastier than the apple ones in my opinion. The amount of sugar in them does frighten me at over 20%. They turn into a goo in your mouth and cement themselves into your gums which is a big downside.

I try to eat healthily so generally avoid sugar and grains. It was interesting to me that after a few days having an Udi snack day after day that I found myself, the first time for many many years, falling into a dark pit of depression. I have read poor diet can affect one’s mood so do wonder if I should say no to trialing the types of foods I would usually avoid in search of good health. It seems the cleaner you eat the more affected you are when you go backwards returning to junk food and my body has always been pretty sensitive. I was fine with peanuts once upon a time (only cashews made me violently ill in last couple of decades) but now since not having peanuts for a long time when I did have some peanut butter because my hazelnut butter had run out, my tongue and mouth started to go super tingly, and I started to feel very ill. Perhaps it is better to just keep eating everything you can unless you are battling chronic illness :-).

In summary great muffins and pretty good bagels which get a gold star for using the healthiest flours.

See the whole Udi’s gluten free range available in the UK.

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Puerto del Carmen vegetarian and/or gluten free

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Eating gluten free or vegetarian in Puerto del Carmen, Lanzarote

Puerto del Carmen is the tourist capital of Lanzarote. For our guide to the rest of Lanzarote please click here.

Calle Teide, Carmen Old Town

The best place to head for is Calle Teide in the old town. Full of great restaurants and don’t have those annoying touts as they have loyal following and great reviews on Trip Advisor too.

** Bodecos, now called Bozenas, (Polish restaurant with some Irish and vegetarian dishes too on the menu) in Calle Teide (at the start) above the old harbour is a really lovely restaurant indeed with good food and brilliant service. Very sympathetic to allergies/intolerances. Open for dinner only now and make a reservation first as can get very busy.

They do have a number of vegetarian dishes but could really do with a rethink to ensure they contain more protein for balanced nutrition (more pulses, nuts, eggs and cheese please) but their heart is in right place trying to cater for non meat eaters. Vegetable biriyani bears no resemblance to a true biriyani (more a general creamy veg curry but is very nice indeed). The gypsy vegetable potato pancakes are Andrew’s favourite. If there are any meat eaters with you they should go for the beef stroganoff with potato pancakes as it is delicious. Had mine gluten free and was so delicious it was nearly worth the flight over here! If you are liking the sound of the potato pancakes please give two days notice so that Bozena can prepare them with gluten free flour for you.

Zbojnik - beef stroganoff type stew in gluten free potate pancake

Zbojnik – beef stroganoff in gluten free potato pancake

Open from 7pm apart from Sundays. Second and further visits: better and better!

Bozenas

Just after Bozenas are Kristians (chef needs 24 hrs notice so please book a table) and the Carribean place (does mushroom stroganoff) which both said they can do gluten free vegetarian too. We will give these a try soon.

*** Casa Cabana. We love a place prepared to do veggie or gluten free options beyond what they already have marked on their menu – exactly what we found at Calle Teide (number 9) in Casa Cabana open Mon to Sat 18.30 to 21.30. Best service we have experienced on the island. Super helpful re advice on the menu and all the staff were on the ball re our needs. So your veggie gluten free options are bean based chilli, pasta or stroganoff. For dessert you will be spoilt for choice. Great portion sizes and reasonable prices. We loved this place and will return often. I has sea bass (small portion) and was too full for pudding. They have lots of nice touches of simple food done well. We got gluten free bread rolls to start too.

* Emma’s Mexican is opposite Casa Cabana. Open from 6pm except Wednesdays. If you go you get a discount card for coming back on a Thursday or Sunday which are changeover days. Lovely friendly staff and nice food but we weren’t huge fans of their guacamole.

Next to Emma’s is a Valentino’s which gets good reviews on Trip Advisor and is a relatively new place but they have no gluten free options, therefore I think you should also go and ask about them about ‘sin gluten’ until they get with the programme :-).

** Blooming Cactus Veggie Restaurant with Take Away option to stock your self-catering fridge or eat in the beautiful candle light and marvel at the exquisite tea set. Far end of Calle Teide at 35 does small choice of vegan or vegetarian dishes and has some wheat free options as well as lactofree / dairy free. They will be able to advise what is gluten free as well as wheat free. They are open evenings from 6pm to 10pm except Mondays. Nice and warm on winter evenings which is important. Tapas style menu with strong Greek theme by the lovely Scottish Tracy! General veggie choice is great and from previous years would recommend keftedes and mousaka. Falafel were too dry even with extra of tomato sauce and the Greek roast potatoes lose their pazazz once they have been chilled sadly. So far we’d always done take away but 3rd time round, eating in was better. Best of veggie gluten free hands down was the dhal which was mild enough for Marta to enjoy too. When we ate in it was overtaken by the peanut curry which sometimes is made without the shoyu. Mild and so yummy I had to help Andrew out with his as it was a delight – I was having chilli with soya mince and means which is a nice dish too but not half as super as the peanut curry. Let them know by email or phone when you are coming a few days in advance as they pre-prepare food in batches it seems, as they can leave out ingredients like shoyu or use substitutes so you’ll be able to have more choice. Second and further visits: dishes don’t seem to be hits consistently and not as good as before but then others shine, so our advice is just order what you fancy and not necessarily what we have had before.

Blooming Cactus is gorgeous at night

Elsewhere in Puerto del Carmen

Antica Trattoria di Verona (Avenida de las Playas 53 – far far far end from Old Town along the strip) and La Casa Del Parmigiano (our favourite food on Lanzarote) (Calle Alegranza corner by the Fariones sports centre and Fariones Hotel by old town near where the strip begins) are both owned by the one person were recommended as good places for celiacs by the manager in the place we dined the last night and the best of everywhere we ate out in our two weeks in 2011 – Lilium in Arrecife. Finally in our Feb 2012 trip we got to give them a try. They are twin Italian restaurants at opposite ends of the town sharing same menu and hours of 1pm to 11pm except Mondays. Had a very yummy gluten free tagliatelle with bolognese sauce – only Tuscany has rivalled their bolognese. Andrew had gluten free pizza – bought in pizza so not so great as these are always quite hard but good topping. For best gluten free pizza go to Alessio’s in Costa Teguise where it is made fresh. Marta had an amazing steak there. Now do gluten free garlic bread too but is Schar product so hard again. Their gluten free pastas are very good as is fish or meat.

Gluten free pastas at La Casa Del Parmigiano

Gluten free pastas at La Casa Del Parmigiano

For homemade gluten free pastries and other sweet stuff you can’t beat Il Buongusto, Calle reina sofia, 42 (at the top so quite a hike up but well worth it – close Xmas and New Year for a couple of weeks), 35510 Puerto Del Carmen. a lovely cafe with terrace and wifi and view across to the sea.

Up the hill from Biosfera on the left is Quintins. Very nice decor, great service and lovely food. The butternut squash risotto was heavenly but ask them to leave out the won ton parcels from the dish as Andrew got glutened and we think it was these. Would still be good without them.

If you have a car or fancy a short taxi ride from Carmen’s old town, you can also go over for dinner to the next town Puerto Calero to a wonderful Mexican restaurant called Las Margaritas where they make corn tortillas and make cocktails using real fruit.

Gluten free sticky toffee pudding

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A classic that still tastes divine

Ingredients

  • 275ml boiling hot water poured over…
  • …170g dates and leave to cool until lukewarm
  • 50g butter
  • 170g sugar (dates will sweeten it a lot so you could try increasing the amount of dates and omitting the sugar)
  • pinch salt
  • 175g gluten free flour (Innovative solutions safe starches blend of brown rice flour, white rice flour, potato starch, tapioca starch)
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp xanthan gum
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • 2 eggs

Method

  • Process all the above ingredients in a food processor.
  • Pour the runny paste into a greased big flat glass dish.
  • Bake in pre-heated oven at 160 degrees C for 40 minutes.
  • Top with maple syrup (healthier) or butterscotch sauce, and if you want your tastebuds to go straight to heaven – then cream too

Butterscotch sauce

Melt 40g brown sugar, 125ml double cream and 40g butter in one pan. Bring to the boil and simmer for 3 minutes. Pour over the cooked pudding with extra on the side for guests to help themselves to. If you want to be real fancy then heat it under the grill until the topping bubbles.

 

Andalusia – vegetarian and gluten free guest post

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Today I am delighted to bring you our first guest post from Jenny which is making me long to go back to the amazing city of Granada, and Malaga is pretty impressive too:

Granada-eating-gluten-free-vegetarian

Well southern Spain may not be the first place you think of when considering where to go as a vegetarian coeliac but Andalusia is an absolute gem! I went earlier this year and had some of the best gluten free veggie food ever. We started off in Granada – the Alhambra has been on my list of must sees for years and I was not disappointed – we were there when all the roses were in full bloom and it was wonderful.

Eating in traditional Spanish restaurants could prove tricky but fortunately there is a café / restaurant called El Piano which sells only vegan gluten free food! It’s quite a low key kind of place with meals served in little bamboo boats – and seems popular with the locals who pop in for takeout. The staff were all incredibly friendly and a man came to play the piano every evening – we liked it so much we returned twice more.

Granada-and-gluten-free-vegetarian-restaurants

Next stop was Cordoba in time for the Festival of the Patios. There aren’t any exclusively veggie places in Cordoba but Almaltea restaurant had a gluten free menu and a few veggie options which were delicious.

Seville was the third city we visited and we ate in Gaia vegetarian restaurant – it had gluten free meals marked on the menu – and although the paella was a little hard going the salads were gorgeous and again it seemed really popular with the locals. Huelva Ocho is a small bar which also serves gluten free veggie options. The gluten free bread served by the hotel in the morning was the best I’ve ever tasted and as they made me two baguettes each morning it doubled as lunch too!

After three cities we were ready for chilling out in the country and we headed to Alora. Fuegoblanco is a guest house run by Sarah and Kenneth, an English couple. Sarah is an excellent cook and specialises in vegetarian food and food allergies – as well as delicious breakfasts we also had evening meals made with fresh veggies from the garden. They were the sort of meals that made you want to lick your plate!

Alora is close to Malaga which is surprisingly nice for a wander. It also has several veggie places to eat. We opted for Canadu which is exclusively vegetarian with gluten free choices marked. It’s a bit pricier than the others but has tables overlooking a square which made for a great evening spent people watching and enjoying the meal outside.

Malaga

Review of new Frank Snack Bars which are gluten free, nut free and dairy free

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frank-bars-4

I tried out some new gluten free, nut free and dairy free snack bars the other day. First one to try out was the oat and chocolate when I was feeling particularly hungry but didn’t want to make lunch just yet. So – franken food or nice Frank food?

I was pleased to see they use EnergySmart for the sweetener as I had heard of that just recently and wanted to try it. The first thing I noticed was the dense texture. I am trying to think what it reminds me of. The chocolate was not like chocolate so not bothered about that – disappointed in fact as a big lover of chocolate (70% Lindt is my chocolate of choice as without soy lecithin). It had an overly malty flavour and after taste I was not too keen on. Alas this first encounter was tasting like franken food. It was not so sweet that you could keep on eating them like biscuits but it did satiate me well initially. I have remembered what the texture reminds me of – it is the chewiness of those Fudge bars or Curly Wurlys covered in chocolate that I had as a kid. Sadly 10 minutes later I was still starving and had to go make some lunch.

Blueberry and chocolate. I like this one better taste wise. There is something artificial tasting about it still. May be it is that EnergySmart stuff. Still not close enough to chocolate to bother with in my book. Reminds me of those dense Eastern European cookies called ‘pierniki’ so being of Polish origin that is working for me more.

frank-bar-open-half-eaten

Double chocolate tastes better surprisingly but Strawberry and chocolate, the last one I tried, is my clear clear favourite or I am getting used to the taste as I go along. My mum was here and she really liked it but to caveat this we call her ‘The hoover’ for a reason.

Ingredients of the Strawberry and Chocolate Frank Bar:  FRUIT 46.6% (Dried Dates 33.9%, Dried Plums 12.7%, Freeze Dried Strawberry 0.8%), Fruit Juice Concentrates (Concentrated Apple, Grape, Pear and Strawberry Juices, Rice Starch), Gluten Free Oats 10.2%, Fat Reduced Cocoa Powder, Organic Raw Probiotic Chocolate 7.4% (Cocoa Mass 47%, Coconut Blossom Sugar, Coconut Cream, Cocoa Butter 4.3%, Ground Vanilla Pods, Bacillus Coagulans GB1-30 6086 0.45%), Pea Protein, Pea Fibre, Natural Strawberry Flavour.

A box of 20 is far too many to purchase as I personally only have these type things when off on long journeys and not convinced I will find food I can eat along the way. Ideally would have liked more nuts in them to give me some fat for energy instead of gluten free oats, but that would be no good for nut allergy sufferers. As the bars didn’t stave off hunger I’m not sure about the merits of being so carb based.

They are a good attempt at a healthier snack but I find the Nakd Pecan Pie Bar filling for much much longer so would still go for one of those. I’m not keen on the gluten free oats (as I try to avoid all forms of grains since reading more about food and the link to health) or such a long long list of ingredients whether they are natural or not. If I was concocting them personally I’d shrink the ingredients list by leaving out the faux chocolate coating. If I had loved them I would get over the oats thing and add them to my treat food or emergency food list.

They may work for you though, particularly if you cannot eat nuts or dairy and want a quick snack while on the go. I am harder to please than most people when it comes to food and my benchmark for what is healthy food is a lot higher too. Check out http://www.thefrankfoodcompany.com/product-category/frank-snack-bars/ to buy, see a list of stockist or for more information.