Thursday, 21 January 2016

Nottingham Eats January 2016

A few weekends ago we went into Nottingham. Knowing we'd be there pretty early and for most of the day I picked out a few new places I wanted to try. 

I'd heard great things about Bagel Nash on twitter so that was my first choice for breakfast. 

Their gluten free bagels are also dairy and egg free (vegan) which was great news. I picked bacon and avocado as my fillings. The bagels are toasted on the same toaster as normal bagels so you would need to be careful if you are highly sensitive. It would be nice if it was a separate toaster. The bagel its self was really tasty, nice and soft inside with a crusty outer. I'll definitely be visiting again when I'm next in Nottingham.

The Victoria Shopping Centre has been opening lots of new restaurants recently so there were a few I'd got on my list to try. We chose to have lunch at Tortilla. This reminded me a lot of Chipotle in the USA. You choose from Burritos, Tacos or Burrito Bowls and pick out your fillings from the counter.

I chose to have a Burrito Bowl. I checked with the server that the rice and chicken were dairy & gluten free. I was told yes. I obviously didn't have any cheese or sour cream but I had guacamole (dairy free according to server) and salsa. The last part of the counter was lettuce and a few other toppings. I noticed that the server was touching and wrapping flour/cheese/sour cream filled burritos with his gloves on and I didn't want to risk him picking out my lettuce with the same gloves so I chose not to have any. It would have been better if they'd had a utensil to pick out the lettuce to avoid cross contamination. I couldn't find their allergy info anywhere online so it would be helpful if it was displayed on their website or noted next to each item in store.

I loved the Burrito Bowl though it was full of flavour and reminded me of the USA.
 I'll definitely eat there again in future.

I popped into the Natural Food Company on Mansfield Road to see what goodies they had. As I don't go into Nottingham very often I like to see what different items they are selling. It's not a huge shop but it's full of cool stuff. They stock various Follow your Heart sauces which I've tried in the USA and love. The Caesar dressing is really good. They also stock quite a few different Violife cheeses which I've not tried before. I loved the smoked version and the Parmesan style is fab grated on pasta dishes (or anything you want uber cheesy). I picked up some of my favourite sweet treats, raw chocolate mulberries, cookie shots, a Vego bar and a Thumbs up bar. I also got a jar of Apricot Kernel Butter which I've not yet tried but I'm looking forward to seeing what it's like. They have a cake & savoury cabinet with fresh baked vegan & gluten free goods. I picked out a chocolate walnut slice which was delicious. I think I need to visit more regularly because it's a great shop.

While browsing Tiger I spotted this milkshake mix. I know it's not great ingredients but I fancied trying it. I blended it with a banana and some rice milk and it was actually quite nice although very sweet. I wouldn't probably buy again but I'm glad I tried it. 

I also wanted to mention a great Coffee Roaster called 200 Degrees in the city centre. We stocked up on some of their delicious coffee beans which we have been loving. Can't beat freshly ground coffee. 

They sell various drinks and foods in their lovely coffee shop which you can eat in or take away. 

I can't wait to visit Nottingham again soon as it seems to have a lot to offer at the moment. 
Have you visited Nottingham recently? What are your favourite Allergy Friendly places to eat at?

Monday, 11 January 2016

Champney Springs Leicestershire

Happy New Year! 
I hope you had a great Christmas with lots of safe free from food. I know I did!

I spent the first two days of 2016 at Champney Springs Health Spa which is located near Ashby-de-la-Zouch in Leicestershire. My husband had booked it as a surprise to help get us back on track after the Christmas indulgences. 

At check in I mentioned my intolerance's (usually you mention them when booking) and the receptionist took a note to let the chefs know. We booked our lunch for while we were waiting for our room. It was only 15 minutes after we'd checked in but they had already marked up a sheet for the buffet with all the options I was safe to eat. It was a self service buffet with lots of fresh salads, meats, fish and hot and cold options. All the items on the buffet were also labelled with allergens.

I didn't take a photo of my lunch on the first day but it was a plate full of different salads, roasted potatoes and chicken legs. Very tasty. On the 2nd day I chose to have fish with jacket potato and salad. I liked how there was lots of choice and it was easy for me to pick out the safe options. There was GF bread on request as well as rice cakes.

Dessert on my first lunch day was a fruit salad but on the 2nd lunch day it was a lovely berry jelly which I enjoyed.

While at Lunch we booked a slot for our evening meal. The menu had all allergens marked on it but I did double check with the server. I was happy with the amount of options and it was obvious that they tried to cater for as many different diets as they could.

My starter was a Trio of Melon with a lemon dressing. I do love melon and the dressing made a nice change. For my main course I chose the grilled haddock with sweet potato mash, grilled tomatoes and lemon dressing. Again it was a nice fresh tasty meal.

Unfortunately my dessert was fruit salad but I suppose I was there to get healthy and not eat chocolate cake so it was acceptable on this occasion. 

Breakfast was another buffet with various cereals, fruit, yoghurt, breads and fish. Again all allergens were labeled on the buffet. Hot breakfasts could be ordered for an extra cost. I picked some GF cereal, an Alpro yoghurt and fruit washed down with a peppermint tea.

There was a little cafe area where you cold buy smoothies, herbal teas and snacks such as Nakd bars, savoury snacks, Honeybuns Bakery brownies and a special at the time which was a Chocolate Orange energy ball. I loved these, they were a nice treat.

Overall it was a brilliant place for people with allergies and intolerance's. There was a lot of choice and I didn't ever feel uncomfortable mentioning my intolerance's. It was nice to feel normal. They were very helpful and knowledgeable. The food was all prepared and cooked nicely and was very fresh and tasty.

It was a nice get away for a few days and we left feeling relaxed and refreshed.

Saturday, 12 December 2015

NYC Eats 2015

Let’s start with the flight. After the experience I had flying to Orlando with Virgin earlier in the year I wasn’t expecting much of a change but I was pleasantly surprised. Before my flight I again confirmed with the special assistance department that I would need a special meal. They could offer Dairy & Gluten free but not Egg free. I opted for this choice and hoped there would be no egg.

I was served a fresh salad, roll, fruit and a spicy chicken with beans and rice. My biggest excitement came when I picked up the roll, turning it over to my delight I saw the magical word “BFree”. I was so happy. I love Bfree as a brand and for once I could eat the roll as it was also egg free. The meal was tasty and, well, fruit was to be expected so it’s better than nothing. My mid afternoon snack was more fruit but I managed to eat the tyrells crisps out of the normal snack box too. I also liked that ingredients were printed on the labels too. Thumbs up!

We arrived in New York early evening so we checked into our hotel and headed straight out to Bryant Park Winter Market. I’d noticed on Instagram that a lot of the stalls at this market were Vegan and one in particular sold great looking Chocolate so I made sure I found it. The stall was called Kaleidoscope – it sold Vegan Chocolate by Lagusta’s Luscious. I picked out a peanut butter toffee crunch bar and a Mint Chocolate Christmas Tree.

Chocolate bar heaven!

Another place I knew I had to visit was Two Boots Pizza. They have a big range of Vegan / Dairy Free Pizzas and also Gluten Free Bases. The closest one to us was located in the Grand Central Station Dining Concourse. I ordered a simple Cheese and Tomato Pizza. They use Daiya Cheese which melts great and has a lovely taste. The tomato sauce was really tasty and im 99% sure that the base was Venice Bakery as it was very similar to what I have at home and love. All in all delicious and I had my first New York Pizza experience. 

Day Two we were up early to head down to Union Square. The bus dropped us off right near Hu Kitchen which was another place on my list to try and visit. The shop is all about healthy clean food with no added nasties. They are Gluten, Soy and Cane Sugar Free with lots of Dairy & Egg Free options too. I needed warming up so we sat and had a Peppermint Mint. While there I purchased a Quinoa Crunch Bar which was gorgeous. Like a raw chocolate brownie with a layer of chocolate on the top. Mmm. Also picked up a few bars of their Hazelnut Praline Chocolate and a bag of Graham Bites which looked interesting.

While at Union Square I couldn’t resist a visit to Whole Foods. It’s an epic store which I could have spent hours exploring. From here I picked up the Dark Chocolate Justins Peanut Butter Cups (To eat while my husband is munching through his Reeses), Some cute gingerbread men cookies, Some Chocolate Mint Marshmallows and a Mint Choc Chip Nugo Bar. I had to restrain myself from buying any more due to carrying it around all day. I would have loved to have tried the Rice Dream Nog. The USA has so many more flavoured milk alternatives to us. I also picked up some Tortillas and Guacamole to snack on.

While walking between Union Square and Chelsea Market we came across a great store called Garden of Eden and it was full to the brim with different foods and had a decent selection of free from products. I picked up a bag of Salted Caramel Pita Chips which sounded fab and like nothing I’d seen before.

We stopped during the day to eat at Chipotle which I love. Everything is Dairy Free except for the Cheese and Sour Cream and everything is Gluten Free except for the flour tortillas. I adore their burrito bowls. You can choose what you add to your bowl so I had white rice with, chicken, fajita vegetables, salsa and guacamole. Yum! (We went on two occasions)

Day 3 we headed downtown to Brooklyn Bridge, Empire State and the One World Trade Centre. For lunch we ate at Mighty Quinns BBQ which was located in a lovely food court on Liberty Street. I checked out their website before the trip and it had a great allergen section. I chose to have the brisket with fries. The brisket was melt in the mouth tender and flavoursome and the fries where great. The server confirmed too that both were dairy & gluten free. They have a few locations around Manhattan so worth a visit.

That Evening we headed out to do a bit of shopping on Lexington Ave. I didn’t fancy a full meal so we stopped off at Blooms Deli to buy some meat to snack on. When in NYC you have to have some deli meat especially Pastrami and Corned Beef (not like UK corned beef). This was not cheap meat but It was so so delicious and worth every penny. 

Day 4 We were around the Central Park area. There was another nice Winter Market at Columbus Circle. I found a stall by a company called Raaka who sell raw vegan chocolate. Of course I had to purchase a few bars, settling on the Maple & Nibs and Pink Sea Salt bars. I’ve now got lots of chocolate to get us through Christmas.

Later in the day I had to collect an order I’d placed with a company called Cookie Do which was located a few blocks from our hotel. I’d found them whilst trawling the internet and saw that they catered for different diets. I placed an order for a tub of their edible Snickerdoodle Cookie Do, and also a dozen baked Choc chip Cookies. My husband had the “normal” nuts for nuts Cookie Do tub which looked amazing full of M&M’s and Reeses. My Snickerdoodle was scrummy eaten from the tub with a spoon mmm. The cookies were yummy too with big chocolate chips throughout. We need this in the UK.

Our flight home started with a breakfast of fruit three ways (I had to giggle to myself). A Fresh Fruit pot, Dole fruit in juice pot and a packet of dried fried. Lol. It got better though, for lunch I was served a salad, Chicken with potatoes, gravy and sautéed fennel which was actually tasty for a plane meal, there was a Dairy, Gluten and Nut free Roll too but nothing to say it didn’t contain egg so I gave that a miss, and of course more fruit.

I also want to mention an app that I used and found really helpful. It is a Map app that doesn't use internet data, just gps signal so was free to use while out and about. I populated it at home with all the suitable restaurants, shops and other locations we wanted to visit and found it really handy to use while we were out and about to find the closest place to get safe food or directions. It's called Maps Me.

So, another trip I didn’t go hungry on and I managed to find lots of things I wanted to try. There were a lot more places I’d researched too but time just flew by and there was no way I could have visited them all unfortunately. The flights were a great success food wise compared to the last one. As always the USA is a fab place for special diets and I’d highly recommend a visit if you get a chance.

Sunday, 29 November 2015

Good Food Show Winter 2015 - Free From Haul

I used to go to the Good Food Show every year back in the days when Gordon Ramsay and Jamie Oliver appeared on stage and did book signings. I loved it, especially the winter one to start feeling festive, but over the last few years I felt it had got too samey and nothing felt new anymore. Back then the free from market wasn't as well known either so purchases for me were limited. 

After seeing a discount code for the tickets and seeing that a few free from brands were on the exhibitors list I decided to book. We arrived just after the show had opened at 9am knowing that as the day goes on it gets busier and busier. 

I'd got a few stalls that I knew I wanted to visit. The first one I came across was The Raw Chocolate Company. I've tried quiet a few of their products but my favourite at the moment are the lovely chewy mulberries. My husband wanted to try the golden berries which he sampled on the stall and enjoyed. Warning - Once the bag is open its hard to put them down without eating the lot!

I spied on the VBites stall Schlagfix dairyfree & vegan spray cream. As its hot chocolate season I picked up a couple as they were only £2 each. I've never seen it in shops (only online) so I was happy to find it. The stall also had plamil chocolate products and VBites own brand items. 

I then headed to the Delicious Alchemy stall to say hello. They were selling all their fabulous products and their new Christmas Cake mix. I stocked up on my favourites as I always like to have a supply for when we fancy a little treat. I love making their mixes egg free by using banana in the vanilla cake mix and recently tried the brownie mix with peanut butter instead of egg. I can't wait to try out the Christmas cake mix. Was lovely to chat to the ladies. 

My husband spotted the next purchase. These Gordon Rhodes packets are designed for use in slow cookers which is fab. We love slow cooked meats so I can't wait to try these very soon. They are clearly marked Gluten Free. 

I treated my self to a little bottle of gin. I have painful chest/throat problems (would love to know why) when drinking wine and fizzy alcohol so I tend to stick to spirits. I don't drink often at all but I do like a gin and tonic once in a while. I've never tried this brand so I'm looking forward to tasting it. 

I very nearly walked past the Bakedin stall until my husband pointed out the gluten free box stood between all the normal boxes. Much to my delight the Gluten Free box doesn't contain dairy and does not require egg so it's perfect. 
Each box makes 4 mug cakes. 

I tried the brownie and it worked great. I used Vitalite and Rice Milk in my mix and it came out fab. Perfect sized portion when you fancy a sweet treat. Yummy!

I love bubble tea so I picked up a few pots of bubbles. They are a great size (3 servings per pot) as I've brought big pots in the past and they have gone to waste. These can be added to any drinks so great for Christmas cocktails.

Another favourite which is always at the show is Punjaban curry sauces. They are great to have in the cupboard for when you don't fancy making a curry from scratch. I love that they contain no dairy or coconut. They are tasty too. 

Last but not least I managed to find the BlueBird Tea Co. Earlier in the year I visited their Brighton store and brought lots of their teas. I picked up the Gingerbread Chai at the show.

I tested it out at home and really enjoyed it with a drop of rice milk. It's a nice winter warming drink.

I really enjoyed the show. I'm glad I'd given it a break for a few years as it was nice to see some new stalls and also a lot more stalls catering for allergies/intolerance's. I didn't think it was as big as it had been in the past (some stalls were duplicated too) but it was just right, we did two laps in around two hours before it got too busy. I'm really pleased with my purchases and I'm looking forward to trying them all.