Tried and tested: Itsu Coconut Crush

As someone that is ridiculously allergic to fish, egg and nuts, Itsu wouldn’t be my first choice for lunch. It seems that nearly everything they sell has salmon, egg or peanuts in it (apart from the Teriyaki chicken rice, which is delicious, must must be avoided when on a low carb diet).  This is a shame, as there is an Itsu right by my office, and the food always looks so fresh and tasty.

I happened to find myself mooching around my local branch one lunchtime, as I often like to see if there are any new Allergy Girl friendly options. A few items caught my eye, especially the Coconut Collaborative Little Chocolate Pots which I do like to indulge in from time to time.

Now, I don’t usually venture near to the counter unless I’ve committed to purchasing something.  There are always these interesting looking items to tempt the purchaser to add to their order, but I never feel like I have the time to browse these items and check the ingredients, as there’s usually a queue of hangry (hungry/angry) people behind me. 

I was in luck and there was no queue, so I had a rummage through the treats on offer, and stumbled across this little green box.  My eyes were immediately drawn to the words “dairy free” and “Vegan.”  My expectations were low as I assumed this would mean there were nuts in the recipe – a lot of Vegan recipes use nut butters or almond flour.  I picked up the little box and scanned the ingredients on the back.  No nuts!! Yay!!!


As per usual I waited until my train ride home to test this little morsel. I like the packaging, it perfectly shows off the chocolate inside and (for someone who isn’t often allowed to eat nice things) feels like a gift boxed treat. 

The packaging is easy to open, but getting the chocolate out wasn’t the easiest feat. If I had a napkin or plate it would be fine, but trying to avoid dropping it on the scummy plastic tray table on the commuter train was tricky, as the chocolate was slightly melted, and the filling wasn’t that firm. It was a warm day, and it wasn’t kept in the fridge (although Itsu don’t display them in the fridge, so one would assume they don’t need refrigeration).  If I purchased this again I’d definitely keep it in the fridge instead of my handbag. 

The chocolate is nice, just a thin layer that isn’t too bitter or too sweet. The coconut matcha filling is soft and slightly creamy, which is nice as desiccated coconut can often be too dry and crumbly.  I’m not sure if the matcha gives mucha to the flavour, but it’s supposed to be good for me, so I won’t complain.  

At around ¬£2 a portion (depending on whether you buy in store or have it delivered) this is possibly slightly overpriced.  Compared to the Protein Haus Vegan Bounty bar I tried a few weeks ago it is better value for money (but does contain more sugar, so if you’re avoiding sugar I’d go for the Protein Haus one). 

In terms of a convenient, healthy(ish) snack, this is a winner. Will I buy it again?  Definitely!! 

Advertisements

Tried and tested: Hemsley + Hemsley bean and bacon hash

I recently treated Mr Allergy and I to some new cooking books by Hemsley + Hemsley. 


The recipes always look so nice, and they’re good for you, so that ticks several boxes.  As with all recipe books I buy there are probably only about 30% of the recipes that I’m not allergic to, and others I can tweak. This particular brunch recipe didn’t need tweaking, so I thought I’d give it a go.


The best thing about this recipe is that there are no fussy or difficult to find ingredients. I either already had them at home or picked them up at Tesco.  It doesn’t take a huge amount of prep and is pretty quick to cook.

The ingredients suggest an onion or a leek, but I decided to use both to give it extra bulk and add one more of my 5 a day! Had a bit of an accident whilst chopping the onion but I can’t blame the Hemsley sisters for my own stupidity.  I can safely say I won’t be doing that again!


I used a small tin of chopped tomatoes, but next time I make this I probably won’t use them.  They tasted good, but they made the hash slightly soggy. I would prefer it a bit more bubble and squeak-like.

I was quite happy with the overall result though, and Mr Allergy was grateful for a filling, healthy meal after just having completed a middle distance triathlon. I’d say it’s a winner!

Tried and tested: Ombar Centres Coconut and Vanilla

Growing up, my earliest memory of dairy free chocolate was a carob Easter egg that my mum bought at Holland and Barrett. It was nice, but very plain compared with the fabulous Cadbury’s and Nestle eggs I saw in the shops.  At Christmas, Allergy Boy and I would hunt through the tin of Roses trying to find the Bournevilles, which we didn’t really like (they were too bitter), but ate anyway because we didn’t want to be left out.

When we got a little bit older we found that we could eat After Eights and Fry’s Peppermint Cream, so it was lucky we liked mint! 

Dairy free chocolate has come on leaps and bounds since the 1980s.  Dark chocolate has never been more popular, and with the recent craze for clean eating and raw foods, cacao and coconut milk are adding another dimension to my chocolate experience (not to mention inches to my waistline)!

Grabbing a dairy free salad-to-go from Vital Ingredient in Trump St, City of London, I couldn’t resist trying one of these Ombars.  Dairy free, no refined sugar, raw chocolate, coconut and vanilla, no nuts – perfect for Allergy Girl!


So I’m sat on my commute home trying to forget about the inconvenience of the Waterloo upgrade by testing this little chocolate bar, and it’s a dream! 

It’s been in my bag, so it’s a bit squidgy to touch and probably could have done with spending some time in the fridge, but that doesn’t deter me. I break off a chunk and find a gooey, creamy centre. On first appearance the centre doesn’t seem overly generous but it’s so rich and creamy that it’s plenty.


The chocolate itself is creamy, the coconut flavour not overpowering as it can sometimes be.  The hint of vanilla comes through, but if I didn’t know it was there I probably wouldn’t be able to tell you it was vanilla.  That aside, I can’t complain other than to say damn you Ombar, I could be easily tempted to go back for more! 

P.s. While writing this I discovered that Ombar autocorrects to zombie on my iPhone! 

Tropical Island cupcakes 

Aloha!! I made these fun little cupcakes a couple of years ago for a summer fundraiser at my church.  They use my Basic dairy and egg free sponge recipe.  They would be great for a Hawaiian themed party or a fun thing to make with kids during the summer holidays. 

To give the cakes that tropical flavour I used a bit of lime juice into the mix and used coconut milk instead of soya milk.

Decorating was the really fun part. I used Betty Crocker’s vanilla icing and added a little bit of blue food colouring. I swirled the blue colour into the icing, making sure not to completely mix it so there were still white bits that looked like little waves.

I used crushed ginger biscuits to make the sand and added little jelly bears and cocktail umbrellas, and my little tropical island was complete!


To make a sunbathing bear I used Fizzy strawberry belts, cut them just larger than the bear, then laid the bear on top. 

Since making these I’ve discovered that edible sand can also be made using a combination of granulated light brown sugar and crushed rich tea biscuits, which is great if you don’t like ginger biscuits.

As always, let me know how you get on with making these, I’d love to hear from you. 

Tried and tested: Protein Haus Vegan Protein Bounty

First things first, I’m not Vegan. It’s just a good starting point if I’m looking for food without dairy or eggs. I do have to be careful and read the labels as a lot of Vegan things have nuts in them. Luckily for me, this bad boy didn’t (but shame about the Vegan Protein ‘Snickers’ bar, which was laden with pesky peanuts)! 

I’ll move to the price. Three of my hard earned British pounds. I could buy three items from the McDonald’s Poundsaver Menu. Or borrow three supermarket trolleys.  ¬£3 seems a lot for a lump of coconut and chocolate. 

Sat on the train, I open the little plastic bag to free my afternoon snack from its packaging. I’m not ready for the slidy, melty chocolate that ensues and quickly place my Bounty on the plastic packaging, narrowly missing the train’s tray table (thank god, imagine what nastiness is lurking there).  I now have chocolate all over the outside of the plastic packaging.

I lick my fingers, take a hold of my Bounty and take my first bite.  The texture is good, if a little crumbly, and I find myself trying not to shower my lap in desiccated coconut. Back to the plastic packing. Fingers licked again. I take in the taste, which is creamy, coconutty, chocolatey yumminess! I’ve tried making low sugar Vegan Bounty bars at home and mine were not a patch on this. 

After my second bite I find more chocolate on my hands. The heat of the train and warmth of my fingers every time I pick it up is making things worse. I manage to find a (used) tissue in my jacket pocket. Not great, but it’ll do.

There’s about half of it left now, and half the chocolate has melted from the bottom onto the plastic packaging. There’s only one thing for it. I shove the rest of it in my mouth. 

Despite all the melting on the outside and crumbling of the inside it really is delicious.  However, I’d have to take out a second mortgage if this was any more than a rare treat, so I might just go back to making my own! 

Tried and tested: Sainsbury’s Free From Greek Style coconut-based alternative to cheese

For about two years of my thirty-something, I was able to eat Feta without swelling up like Violet Beauregarde in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.  It was short lived and feta ended up on the list of things I’m allergic to.

One Sunday in the supermarket a new product caught my eye. Free From Greek Style coconut-based alternative to cheese. Not the snappiest name I’ve ever seen, but it piqued my interest. 

Unlike most Free From foods, I know what the real deal should taste like, and this really isn’t bad at all. The texture is less crumbly than feta, but the taste is almost spot on. It’s got that slight tang and is a beautiful addition to any salad. 

My favourite recipe featuring the FFGSC-BATC (nope, not snappy either) is BBC Good Food’s Cajun Blackened Chicken with super green quinoa. Mr Allergy and I love this meal on a weeknight, and we swap the quinoa for cauli rice to lower the carb content slightly. 

My second favourite recipe is adapted from this Chicken and asparagus caprese salad. As there are no decent dairy free mozzarella alternatives on the market that I’m aware of, I use FFGSC-BATC instead. I don’t like tomatoes so only Mr Allergy has those, and I may or may not be allergic to avocado (the jury’s still out on that one), so I don’t have that either but it’s delicious all the same.