Free-From Fudge Fun!

As a free-from eater I have grown used to passing (also read as – missing out) on food items. Whilst there are now an abundance of free-from items available , there are still many branded goods that I cannot eat – wagon wheels, walkers crisps, cadbury’s chocolate fingers to name a few.  Alternatives are of course available, but sometimes you want the real mccoy.

However one growing trend of the free-from market is the up-take of established brands to cater for the variety of food consumers that now make up the marketplace. Many branded food manufacturers are now going the extra mile to make their popular edible products available in dairy free and/or gluten free options too.

This is great news for ‘fussy-eaters’ like myself – we actually do get to have our cake and eat it. But alongside the obvious benefit of enjoying the real deal, there is a deeper benefit to this trend.  By companies going out of their way to include free-from eaters as part of their clientele, they are making their own attempts to create a more inclusive society.  The amount of times I have felt ‘left out’ because I couldn’t enjoy the same items as friends or family from gifts or eating out are too numerous to count.  So when companies expand their range – they are doing much more than building their own business, they are giving joy to thousands of free-from consumers who have for far too long not been able to enjoy branded products.

northernmunkeebites.fudgekitchen2Fudge Kitchen – Dairy-free fudge, Dairy-free drinking fudge and sugar-free peanut brittle.

Rating: 9 out of 10

Appeals to: dairy-free consumers and fudge lovers!

Packaging

All 3 of these products come packaged slightly differently…

A selection of the dairy-free fudge in 4 different flavours came wrapped up in a luxury deep chocolate brown box – making it a perfect gift, for others or yourself. With gold lettering and minimal detail, it adds to air of mystery. Ingredients are listed on the bottom – so discreet. Each slice of fudge was individually wrapped in tissue paper, and the smell as you opened the box….sigh!

The dairy-free drinking fudge was a selection of again, different flavours, in a small boxnorthernmunkeebites.fudgekitchen3 with strips of colour dripping down the white coloured box. Pleasing to the eye and again giving off an air of luxury it would not go amiss in a gift hamper, or displayed proudly in your kitchen.  Each sachet is carefully packed inside making it easy to select which flavour you fancy.

The sugar-free peanut brittle is boxed in a light tan colour with minimalist writing. northernmunkeebites.fudgekitchen1The golden writing makes this a luxurious product but on a more accessible level.  It feels like it’s a box you would reach for when you have a few hours to yourself to indulge.

Price

£16.00 for a 4 slice dairy-free fudge box.

£10.00 for dairy-free drinking fudge

£6.50 for sugar free peanut brittle

The price points for the products are aimed at the more discerning consumer. Whilst they are appear at the higher end of the price range, these are artisan products and considering this, the price range seems fair.  What makes it fair value as well is that these products are not to be consumed in one go but rather to be enjoyed slowly and over time.  This makes the price points far more reasonable.

Delivery

Each of these products are exquisite. There’s no two ways about it – the care and craftsmanship gone into produce these products make your taste buds come alive.

Out of the 4 flavours, I have only tasted the dairy-free sea salted caramel fudge as yet, but it took a lot of willpower not to devour this in one go. The mix of crunch on the first bite with a soft centre makes this a tasting sensation. There are also pieces of sea-salt mixed within the fudge which provides different textures as  you let this sit on your tongue to melt slowly.  It surprised me this was dairy-free as the rich taste of it made me think there must be milk in it but there definitely isn’t – so there was no difference in taste of this versus a dairy-full fudge.

The dairy-free drinking fudge is no different. A rich luxurious hot drink this oozes flavour and warms the whole body – with serious contentment.  I had the cinnamon spice flavour and although its summer, it just made me wish for winter so that I can enjoy this again in front of a roaring fire!

Sugar-free peanut brittle – this was the surprise product for me. Although not a fudge-based product, the company are clearly trying to cater for different tastes.  The snap of peanut coated in a sugar-free caramel base provided me with a moor-ish new snack that had no different in taste despite using sugar alternatives.  Letting this melt in your mouth literally allows you to truly experience the different textures of crunch against gooey-ness.

Verdict: in a word – exquisite. These products are for luxury moments.  The self-indulgence of the fudge and the peanut brittle makes these ideal for treating – yourself or others.  What makes these extra special is the fact that you can consume these knowing you are not missing out on taste but can experience the same delight as a dairy-free consumer.

Details: http://www.fudgekitchen.co.uk/index.asp

I would love to hear your thoughts if you have tried this product – feel free to leave comments below.

Guest Blogger: Mrs. M.

About Me

As a person with a recently diagnosed sensitive digestive system, I’m now on a path to make sure I eat well whilst still enjoying myself. Having been fearful of food, I now love finding new products, going to new restaurants to try new twists on dishes and am constantly looking for quirky items to consume.  I’m a huge supporter of simple food that is made tasty with the right combination of ingredients and more importantly enjoying your food and diet in a balanced way.  That means I always have room for my favourite item – chocolate!

 

Advertisements

Ooh-La-La Tea Biscuits!

As a gluten-free eater, there are some things I really miss. One of those is dunking biscuits into tea.  There is nothing better or more soothing that timing the moment of how long you dunk before the biscuit becomes soggy and drops!

When I became gluten-free this appeared to be one of the perks I had to give up. People think it’s the food we miss, but sometimes it’s the memories and actions associated with the foods that are the biggest losses.  I did of course find other things to replace with tea/biscuit dunking including the bliss of dunking chocolate to let it melt over my fingers, but there was always something missing as it wasn’t a biscuit.

Of course the market must have clocked on to this fact as there then arrived an abundance of gluten free treats, including biscuits and the return of tea/biscuit dunking was back. Alas, these biscuits just were not up to the scratch, they tasted like cardboard and even worse, the seconds to dunking were longer so you could never time it just right.  Plus so many of these gluten-free treats were just round balls of sugar and taste was compromised.

Then popped up another market – healthier free from treats. Lower sugar, more fibre, healthier ways of baking etc.  Whilst I scoffed again at some of the products, a few caught my eye.  Although I have made a personal decision to cut down on treats generally, it does feel nice to know that when I do want to have a healthier gluten free treat, there’s an increasing market of naturally good treats where companies are genuinely trying to look out for health AND focus on taste too.

northernmunkeebites.808rhythm1 Rhythm108 Ooh-la-la Tea Biscuits – Coconut Cookie

Rating: 9 out of 10

Appeals to: free-from lovers, healthy-conscious eaters and tea/biscuit dunkers

Packaging

These packs of biscuits screamed out to me. Whilst I didn’t source these from supermarket shelves (I was kindly provided with some samples) I was overjoyed when I opened the box as they were so colourful! The bright pinks, turquoises and pastel colours completely played to colour palette and if I were to see them on the shelves then yes definitely I would be attracted to them.  The material of the packaging itself was good – it felt like I would be purchasing purchased a high quality product, plus was easy to open – always one of my bear-bugs. I then saw that the packaging was home compostable so for those who are environmentally conscious – another win. I was also happy to see simple ingredients listed on the packet in an easy-to-read manner. A big tick on all fronts re packaging.

Price

£2.99 – I was kindly provided some samples but a quick search online showed me the price range and I was impressed.  So impressed I have purchased these again.  The sharing packets lasted a few days in my house, despite having a husband who scoffs biscuits like they’re grapes, so definitely value for money.

Delivery

These are moor-ish with a capital M! I could not stop myself from snacking on these.  Whilst they are still snacks, I reasoned with myself they are healthier treats so allowed myself to just eat as many as I could in one go! The other huge win for me was that these were not only gluten free, but also dairy free and refined sugars and using organic ingredients – for a fussy eater like me, this was an item I could eat safe in the knowledge that I wouldn’t have reactions later.  I truly did indulge, so much that I had to hide a packet of these so that my husband wouldn’t finish them.  Even he could not notice any difference between gluten biscuits and these gluten-free biscuits and was quick to keep on taking them.The taste was spot on – exactly what a coconut biscuit should taste like – crumbly yet softened when dunked in tea.  Plus the flavouring of coconut was just right for me, I love coconut and can’t get enough but didn’t feel this overwhelmed the whole taste.

Verdict: in a word – delicious! These are definitely my new to-go biscuits now. They hit all the right spots for free-from AND non free-from consumers as well as just getting the taste bang on.  Not only were they healthy but they gave me back one of my greatest missed moments – tea/biscuit dunking.

Details: https://www.rhythm108.com/

I would love to hear your thoughts if you have tried this product – feel free to leave comments below.

Guest Blogger: Mrs. M.

About Me

As a person with a recently diagnosed sensitive digestive system, I’m now on a path to make sure I eat well whilst still enjoying myself. Having been fearful of food, I now love finding new products, going to new restaurants to try new twists on dishes and am constantly looking for quirky items to consume.  I’m a huge supporter of simple food that is made tasty with the right combination of ingredients and more importantly enjoying your food and diet in a balanced way.  That means I always have room for my favourite item – chocolate!

 

 

 

Purchasing For Disordered Eating Habits

This is going to be a rather vulnerable and personal post.

 From qualified specialists to social influencers – I am tired of the buzz words that become le mot du jour – wellness, intuitive eating, clean eating, healthy eating, paleo, low carb, keto diet and so the list goes on.

This is quite a revelation for me, someone who has over the past 18 months (not to mention on and off across the years) restricted their food intake, both in terms of calories and types of food to try and solve health issues. Only to find out those health issues have not got better but instead deteriorated.  So I have decided to stop listening so much to others and start tuning into my body and listening to what it needs.

But boy is that hard. I am currently going through a tumultuous time with food.  From guilt to elatedness to over-bingeing back to guilt.  It’s hard work and it’s taking its toll – on my mind and my body.  But I am determined to listen to myself – no one knows your body better than you know it.  Yet what I’ve realised is that this needs to be in baby steps.  Disordered eating and unhealthy relationship with food is not something that can be undone overnight or with one week of eating whatever you want.  Instead it needs to be approached slowly as you’re dealing with various different elements – the conscious and the sub-conscious.

So I will still be looking at the ‘healthier’ sections of the store no doubt as this will be the first step. As much as I’d love to go get a box of hobnobs, my mind and my body is not there yet.   I’ll still be eating gluten free for the moment as my body does react to this but I won’t be looking at any more ingredients list but instead allowing my body to choose my food shopping.  I may still also choose free-from foods but in the vein that they sound tasty.  The aim is to purchase (and eat!) a packet of gluten free hobnobs without feeling the guilt.

northernmunkeebites.cru8_1CRU8 – Paleo Banana Courgette Loaf

Appeals to: Everyone!

Rating: 8 out of 10

Packaging

I found the packaging a little flimsy in that it’s in cellophane packaging with the sleeve covering most of the product as a sticker. The product itself feels heavy so having this in a bag didn’t add much confidence that it could be protected in a bag but rather be squashed.  I didn’t read through the nutritional info nor the list of ingredients but from a quick glance at the sleeve this was easily available to read.  The logo of the 8 also wasn’t that obvious as to what it was, it just looked like two circles and the name of the brand folded over the packaging so not the easiest to read.  It’s also quite difficult to open the bag without scissors.  I had to store this wrapped in foil in the fridge as the bag just ripped.

Price

£4.99 (Planet Organic). The clever placing of this product next to smaller treats which are similarly priced does make you think you’re getting more value for your money.  It is a large-ish size so again you’re fooled into thinking this is substantia, yet when you compare it to loaves of bread or other similar products it does seem slightly steep and perhaps not as large as you first think.

Delivery

The product delivers on its flavours. I was expecting a dry cake but it was actually really soft and moist.  I was also hesitant about courgette in a sweet food product but it actually tasted great and it was more so the banana you tasted as the main flavour.  It felt just like you were eating banana bread even though it was gluten free, grain free etc.  It is extremely more-ish and with a dollop of almond butter is a filling snack in between meals or as a dessert.  What’s more it lasted 3 – 4 days and that was with good sized slices so I was impressed with that.  I’d definitely recommend this with a good cup of tea.

Verdict: In a word – fulfilling. You don’t feel at all deprived when eating this version of a banana cake and it’s really tasty, so much that I bought it again after I’d finished and it was enjoyed by non-gluten free members of my family too.

Details: http://www.cru8foods.co.uk/index.php

I’d love to hear whether you’ve tried this and what you thought! Please feel free to leave your comments below.

Guest Blogger: Mrs. M.

About Me

As a person with a recently diagnosed sensitive digestive system, I’m now on a path to make sure I eat well whilst still enjoying myself. Having been fearful of food, I now love finding new products, going to new restaurants to try new twists on dishes and am constantly looking for quirky items to consume.  I’m a huge supporter of simple food that is made tasty with the right combination of ingredients and more importantly enjoying your food and diet in a balanced way.  That means I always have room for my favourite item – chocolate!

The Frill of Healthy Ice-Cream!

With the sun beating brightly on the UK over the last week or so, the country has basked in its glory in the only way we know how – by eating. Al fresco dining, juice breakfasts, salad lunches and of course a truly authentic summer delight – ice-cream.  Whilst ice-cream is consumed all year round, there’s something different to the feeling of sitting in the park, sun hat on and a crunchy cone in your hand with the sticky filling dripping onto your hand.  It takes you back to childhood memories when life was so much breezier.

Yet when you have become dairy-free through different reasons from allergies to intolerances to health reasons to just choosing to be dairy-free, it’s not always easy (or fair) to miss out on what is a universal feel-good feeling. However the ever creative innovators out there always come to the rescue to make us ‘foodie outsiders’ to feel part of the crowd.  The growth in dairy-free products, including ice-cream, has been manifold over recent years with it no longer being seen as a ‘difficult’ food adjustment but part and parcel of daily life.

However for the health conscious amongst us, having dairy-free ice-cream is stull full of sugars and whilst a treat is part of a balanced attitude, if there are products that can cater for healthy dairy-free ice-cream consumers, (not a tall ask!) then count me in. Such products do exist and trying to source these is of paramount importance – because no doubt the UK will go back to its dull and cold weather quicker than it takes the time for the melting ice-cream to fall onto your lap!

northernmunkeebites.frill2Frill The Frozen Smoothie: Intense Chocolate

Rating: 7 out of 10

Appeals to: dairy-free consumers, health conscious eaters, chocolate lovers

Packaging

A huge tub of ice-cream is always a good sign and this product comes in just that – a large circular tub. The chocolate brown colour is not the most imaginative and at first I didn’t quite connect the image of a polar bear to ice-cream but I can only assume it’s due to the connection of cold.  The cardboard tub is also quite standard and perhaps not even the most sturdiest.  However the writing on the tub is attractive with the name of the product eye-catching and information on ingredients being simple and clear.

Price

£4.99 (Waitrose.com) – for the health conscious consumer, the price point is in line with other products of this ilk. The tub is a large size and feels like good value for money.  However for those who just want dairy-free ice cream (without any health benefits), this perhaps may feel a little too steep.

Delivery

This product is not marketed as a dairy-free ice-cream but as a frozen smoothie. However on consuming this particular flavour it does taste quite ice-cream like – creamy and milky which is a pleasant surprise.  You can most definitely taste the flavour of the cocoa and the hint of elderflower adds a slightly refreshing flavour to the chocolate.   What adds to this is the fact that there is high fibre content and natural sugars due to the ingredients used, so you really are consuming a healthier treat.  You don’t need to consume copious amounts to get that satisfied feeling, although that’s a personal choice and no doubt you can easily finish the tub in one sitting if you so choose to! It is very more-ish and you don’t feel like you’re missing out by not having a dairy-ful ice-cream.

Verdict – in a word, flavoursome. This product is an example of substance winning over packaging as it’s tasty and satisfies a craving whilst providing some health benefits too.

Details: https://www.frill.eu/

Thanks for taking the time to read and feel free to leave your comments below.

Guest Blogger: Mrs M.

About Me

As a person with a recently diagnosed sensitive digestive system, I’m now on a path to make sure I eat well whilst still enjoying myself. Having been fearful of food, I now love finding new products, going to new restaurants to try new twists on dishes and am constantly looking for quirky items to consume.  I’m a huge supporter of simple food that is made tasty with the right combination of ingredients and more importantly enjoying your food and diet in a balanced way.  That means I always have room for my favourite item – chocolate!

 

Coconutty!

Product Review: Organic Buko Coconut Jam

The spreads market in the UK is going through an interesting transition with traditional fruit jams being picked up less and less frequently. Most large manufacturers have set off on a race to the bottom on price which is no good for the shopper or the market place as jars get smaller, quality gets poorer and jobs become more fragile.

So what does the market need? Value. Who is going to drive this value? Small producers with the ability to be flexible. How will they drive it? By being different.

There has been a real surge in the popularity of anything either nutty or chocolatey which is now bringing more shoppers back to the shelf to buy spreads. There has also been an advance made by new sub-categories, hybrids if you like, which take an element of the familiar and blend it with the unfamiliar. For example Tesco have launched a strong range of their own branded biscuit spreads including Custard Creams and Cookies & Cream.

It was inevitable that someone was going to bring coconut to the fixture sooner rather than later; it’s been a bit of phenomenon everywhere else! I remember receiving a jar of coconut butter from Vita Coco when I was a buyer with a generic marketing flyer which said that you could eat it, drink it, cook with it, wash with it, moisturise with it or put it in your hair. Now, I get that it’s versatile but that sort of thing doesn’t sit right with me. I don’t want to put the same thing in my mouth that I do on my feet; I’ve only just got over the confusion The Body Shop caused me with tasty looking soaps. Call me old fashioned but I need to know what’s what; I’m not going to start putting Lynx shower gel on my chips or exfoliating with Rice Krispies. I digress…

When I saw the Buko Coconut Jam I just had to know what it tastes like…

Rating: 7/10

Appeals to: bakers, health fanatics and competent cooks

Packaging

The jar doesn’t look like a traditional jam jar but it would serve to break up the ‘noise’ on the fixture well. The label is quite small so it would force a shopper to pick it up to engage with it however it does simply and quickly highlight its USPs.

Price

£4.49 – this prices the product at the premium end of the market so Buko Organic will really be working on the emotional purchase to get shoppers to see passed the price point. It will add value back into the category and the price point may automatically exclude some retailers which will enhance the premium, exclusivity for consumers.

Delivery

I really didn’t know what to expect when I opened each jar, but I certainty wasn’t expecting what I saw. Even though I had read the ingredients beforehand I still expected a fruit jam-esque texture; it’s nothing like that. Imagine the coconut is the fruit in this jam. It creates something that I can only describe as a cross between cream cheese, chocolate spread and cocoa butter. You couldn’t spread it on toast; so I kept it simple and just grabbed a spoon!

Original

This is a really thick, deep coloured spread. The first flavour that hits the front of your mouth is a sweet caramel that melts around the tongue. The coconut notes follow up and linger for a few seconds.

Chocolate

You initially get an intense cocoa hit which quickly fades and is followed again by the chewy coconut. Don’t think Bounty, instead think Bounty, melted and mixed with dulce de leche.

Sea Salted

I’ll be honest, I didn’t think I’d enjoy this one but it was my favourite! It was lighter than the first two and the sea salt served to emphasise an initial sweetness. Really good.

Verdict – in a word, coconutty! I wasn’t sure what to expect with this and the word ‘jam’ may be a little misleading. However, I think it’s a brilliant product, absolutely on trend and would work fabulously as an ice cream topper, in baking or cooking ingredient. As an added slice of goodness the products are Soil Association certified, GMO free, low in cholesterol and preservative free. There’s also a fantastic incentive for eco-warriors as every jar sold saves a square metre of rainforest due to a partnership with green lifestyle brand Cuipo.

Details: http://www.organicbuko.com

Northern Munkee.

Viva la (free-from) Revolucion!

Product Review: Pudology

This product review is free-from inspired, which, if I’m honest, is not usually my bag but in the true spirit of a #FoodAdventurer…lead on!

The free-from market in the UK has undergone a major image change over recent years and the success of the transformation is demonstrated by the exposure the category now receives in mainstream retail with some major multiple retailers giving the category its own full aisle. Free-from used to mean free-from flavour with rubbery pasta and bread that tasted only of dust but now there is a plethora of fantastic tasting products using a wide variety of flavour substitutes such as coconut milk, quinoa and even cricket flour!

According to The Grocer one in five shoppers in the UK regularly shop the free-from section which rises to one in three of young shoppers. This revolution isn’t a fad it’s a lifestyle choice and the development of good quality free-from food is driving that choice an making it a credible option rather than a chore for the disappointed droves of lactose intolerant and suppressed Coeliacs.

Pudology is a great example of the revolution with ‘shhh…dairy & gluten free!’ as its tagline it represents what the category has become: great tasting food using alternative ingredients enjoyed by a majority; not a sub-standard offering endured by a minority. The family-run business is based in Cheshire, which makes their puds perfect prey for a Northern Munkee!

Rating: 9/10

Appeals to: people searching for an indulgent but permissible treat; ideal for a lunch box treat to pick you up throughout the day

Packaging

The packaging is very effective. It’s not too busy but it gets a lot of important messages across by focussing on what’s in the pudding rather than what’s not in the pudding. The artwork has a nudge back to some retro imagery which would appeal to the free-from revolting youth. To further appeal to its target audience each lid contains a risqué, tongue-in-cheek message to encourage the consumer to make an emotional connection with the brand, very clever. The simple sleeve allows shoppers to see the fabulous product inside; any producer that is happy to have the product on show and doesn’t cover it up with packaging is a producer that has confidence in its product.

Price

£1.99 – certainly on the more premium end of the spectrum for just 100g which would limit exposure into certain retailers but it offers a good opportunity to make some margin back versus other heavily traded products in the chilled dessert category.

Delivery

Deeply Decadent Chocolate Pud

This was amazing! Your faced with a very thick, smooth chocolate dessert that is almost a ganache in texture. The first flavour to greet your tastebuds is an intense cream, which is quickly followed by a deep cocoa hit. The earthy chocolate notes loom and linger on your tongue long after you’ve finished the mouthful. As you reach the end of the pot there is a distinct change in consistency and the chocolate thins to a cool molten, chocolate magma.

Smooth Chocolate Orange Pud

This pudding has a softer texture with an immediate citrus hit from the orange flavours. This is quickly followed by the same great cocoa which blends to make a rich melting of superb tastes to leave a velvety finish.

Richly Indulgent Banoffee Pud

I love banoffee – so no pressure Pudology! It did not disappoint. The same beautiful chocolate sat proudly atop a sweet layer of a perfect banana and toffee puree with a salty, crisp, buscuity base. The three layers work really well as opposing textures in the mouth and the sweet, bitter, salty combination is put together in just the right quantities.

Simply Sumptuous Millionaires’ Pud

This is a repeat of the banoffee brilliance. The same consistently good chocolate, cradling a rich creamy caramel sauce supported by the juxtaposition of a salted base. Well done!

Verdict – in a word, revolution! This wouldn’t have been my first choice of pudding selection but I now realise that I’ve been missing out. These puddings are great and I would urge anyone to try them. I’m joining the revolution, who’s with me?

Details:

http://dairyandglutenfreedesserts.co.uk/

@Pudology

Northern Munkee.

http://www.thegrocer.co.uk/reports/digital-features/free-from-report-2015/10-things-you-need-to-know-about-free-from/527991.article