A sundae on Saturday

I’ve. Just. Had. The. Best. Ice cream. EVER!

I’m staying in Cardiff at the moment, singing with a visiting choir at Llandaff Cathedral. In between services we have a bit of time to ourselves to see the sights and hit the shops. This weekend Mr Allergy joined me, so I Googled top things to do in Cardiff.

We started out with a walk to Cardiff Bay, which was blustery and a bit drizzly. We had hoped to look around Cardiff Castle, but it was really busy with groups of tourists. So instead of touring the castle I took us into Castle Arcade, which is opposite the castle.

The arcade is filled with quirky eateries and shops such as Magic and Mayhem, a shop dedicated to all things Harry Potter. Opposite Magic and Mayhem is something called Science Cream. This is an ice cream parlour, but not as you know it. The ice creams are all made using liquid nitrogen and are made to order.

The flavours are quirky and fun, and change from day to day. Best of all, they have a vegan ice cream which is made using coconut milk.

Today’s vegan ice cream was Parma Violet flavour, served with edible viola flowers, honeycomb and a purple berry sauce. After only a short wait, the ice cream sundae arrived and it looked amazing. I ordered a small, and it was huge! It was so pretty with the violas, I almost didn’t want to eat it.

Sometimes things that look good let you down on flavour but boy, that was not the case with this ice cream. It tasted just like the Parma Violet sweets I had as a child. The ice cream was silky and smooth, which is different to many coconut milk ice creams that tend to be a bit grainy. The berry sauce was slightly tart, which perfectly complemented the sweetness of the ice cream. The honeycomb pieces were an added stroke of genius, and added a lovely crunchy texture to the sundae.

Mr Allergy had the Chocolate and Peanut Butter Swirl sundae, which looked equally amazing, but was not very Allergy Girl-friendly!

Science Cream is a fantastic gem and I would highly recommend a visit for allergy sufferers and normals alike, as it produces top quality products with a touch of panache and theatre that you won’t find elsewhere. Next time I’m in Cardiff I look forward to trying a different flavour, or maybe I’ll try a Masterclass. In the meantime it has inspired me to get the ice cream maker out at home and have a crack at making my own. I wonder what a weird and wonderful flavours I’ll come up with?

What happens during an allergic reaction?

I was unlucky enough to have an allergic reaction yesterday. I have no idea what caused it. I ordered take away from the usual Indian restaurant and had the same dishes as usual. I realised something was wrong about five minutes after finishing my meal, which got me thinking…….

No two allergic reactions are ever the same, and they vary based on the severity of the allergy and the amount of allergen the person is exposed to. I guess they also vary from person to person as everybody’s allergy will be different. For example my brother, Allergy Boy, tends to have bad eczema after eating something he’s allergic to, whereas I tend to have a more anaphylactic style reaction (although once when he was a baby he touched a raw egg and swelled up like a red ballon. Not good).

Dust and pollen allergies usually affect the eyes and nose, and anyone that has suffered from hay fever will recognise the symptoms. Asthmatics may also get wheezy with these allergens, and may need to use their ventolin (blue) inhaler.

Allergies to animal fur and feathers can present themselves in a similar way to dust and pollen allergies, but they can also cause anaphylaxis. One of the most serious reactions I ever had was to dog fur one Halloween. I was at a house party when someone knocked a bowl of crisps onto the rug, where a very hairy dog had been sitting. I helped clean up, and almost immediately my throat started swelling, my nose began to run and I couldn’t breathe properly. My friends (still dressed in their Halloween costumes) took me to A&E where I was put on a trolley in the corridor and left there for four hours. By the time I finally saw somebody, most of the symptoms had died down. I think I finally got home at about 6am, and slept for the rest of the day.

Nearly every food allergy I’ve ever experienced has started with what I can only describe as a funny taste in my mouth. It’s like a tingling sensation that also tastes weird. As soon as I get this taste, I take an antihistamine tablet. Sometimes this will knock it on the head early and the taste will disappear with no other symptoms. If I haven’t got to it early enough or I’ve consumed too much of the allergen, the following will often happen:

  • Swelling/lumps in the throat
  • Runny nose and sneezing
  • Swelling of lips
  • Lumps under the skin, starting at the hairline and gradually spreading around my head. Sometimes I’ll also get these on my arms, back, stomach and chest.
  • Sore throat
  • Swollen face and eyes on very severe occasions.

Last night I had everything apart from the swollen face, although I did have lumps under my nose, which was fairly unpleasant.

When I have an allergic reaction I generally use cetirizine hydrochloride to treat it. I don’t know how many tablets should be taken as a recommended dose, but I ended up taking four yesterday. In addition I have Fexofenadine, a daily antihistamine, which can be taken at the same time as the cetirizine hydrochloride. I also carry an Epipen for very severe reactions. Luckily I’ve never had to take my Epipen, as usually the combination of antihistamines does the trick (which is good news, as all four of the Epipens I found in my handbags were out of date!). Apparently I should have taken the Epipen the night I ended up at A&E, but I was only told this when I finally got to see a doctor.

In addition to medication, drinking lots of water can help flush it through. Sucking on ice lollies or ice cream can also help to soothe the soreness of the throat and reduce the swelling.

The day after an allergic reaction I often feel extremely wiped out. The allergic reaction attacks the body, so I sometimes have flu like aches and shivers and am drowsy from the antihistamine. If my throat has swollen during the reaction I will have a sore throat that sometimes lasts a couple of days.

Allergic reactions aren’t always visible to other people, so if someone tells you they’re having an allergic reaction, ask them what medication they have in their bag, find it for them if they need to you to and get them a glass of water. If they are having trouble breathing and they have an Epipen, use it. The instructions will be on the packaging, but it should be noted that once an Epipen has been administered to a person they should attend A&E. Allergic reactions can be deadly and can come on very quickly, so the most important thing is to act quickly and keep calm.

So, that’s what happens when I have a reaction, hopefully this might be of some use, but fingers crossed you’re never in the situation where you’re either having a reaction or with somebody that is.

Tried and tested: Swedish Glace Caramel Toffee Cones

Ok, so I promised I would review Swedish Glace’s new Caramel Toffee ice cream cones. Here goes ! (Any excuse to eat ice cream!!)

The recipe is dairy, nut and gluten free, but does contain soy.

As with the strawberry and vanilla cones, once removed from the wrapper, the ice cream looks just like the one in the picture.

Unfortunately the bottom of my cone was missing, but I guess that might happen with any cone, as they can be quite delicate and easily bashed during transport. Luckily there is a thick chocolate coating inside which stopped the drips!

The chocolate topping is the same as the strawberry and vanilla cone so I won’t repeat what I’ve previously said, and instead concentrate on what’s underneath. The ice cream is creamy and rich as expected from Swedish Glace, but the toffee flavour is quite subtle. I think that if I didn’t know it was toffee flavoured I wouldn’t have guessed. The caramel is also quite subtle, possibly because my tastebuds have got used to salted caramel, but the flavour is good and, as with the strawberry sauce, it is generous.

I think personally out of the two I prefer the strawberry, but both are very enjoyable and made a nice change from Tesco’s own brand Free From cones.

I bought another pack recently and I found this new batch to have a more intense toffee flavour, so perhaps I was just unlucky the first time around.

I’ll definitely buy these again, and it’s great to have more choice in a fairly limited market. Thanks Swedish Glace for another good quality product. I look forward to seeing what comes next!

Tried and tested: Swedish Glace vanilla cones with strawberry sauce

There is nothing better than a cold ice cream on a hot day, so I was very excited to try these new vanilla and strawberry cones from Swedish Glace.

There are lots of new dairy free ice creams on the market, but many are made with almond milk and/or hazelnuts, which is no good for a nut allergy sufferer like me. These ice creams from Swedish Glace seem to tick all the right boxes.

Sometimes the ice cream looks nothing like the picture on the box, so I was rather pleased to open the wrapper and find it most definitely resembled the picture on the packaging.

The chocolate coating is really good. It’s dark without being bitter, nice and rich and thick. This is the coating I wish was on their ice cream sticks, it’s much better.

Once I got through the chocolatey layer, the vanilla ice cream is what you would expect from Swedish Glace if you’ve ever eaten any of their other products. It has a good creamy consistency and the flavour is an intense deep vanilla.

The next test was the strawberry sauce, which is a generous helping of sweetness, swirled all the way to the bottom.

The cone is substantial, held together well compared to some other gluten free products, and didn’t go soggy.

My only real gripe is that the packing of each individual unit is identical to the toffee flavour packaging so if, like me, you have both flavours in the freezer you have to store them in the boxes, which takes up a lot of room.

In terms of price, at £3.89 these are a bit dearer than Tesco own brand Free From strawberry and vanilla cones, which were £2.25 at the time of writing. There’s not a massive difference in terms of taste, but in my opinion the Swedish Glace cones use slightly better quality ingredients for a richer, more decadent treat.

Watch this space for my review of the toffee cones!

Tried and tested: Swedish Glace vanilla dairy free ice cream sticks

It’s been a while since I posted anything, as I’ve not really tried anything new for a while.

With the recent spell of warm weather, it’s been perfect for ice cream.

I usually buy Tesco’s dairy free ice cream sticks, but finding myself in Sainsbury’s and in need of ice cream I thought I’d give the Swedish Glace ones a go.

They come in a pack of five (compared with Tesco’s three pack), but they are really tiny, like a mini Magnum. Two bites and they’re gone.

The chocolate flavoured coating is a bit too thin and not chocolatey enough for my liking. I like a crisp dark chocolate coating that cracks when you bit into it. This one just sort of melts as soon as it gets anywhere near your mouth.

Once inside though, the vanilla ice cream is fantastic. It’s really creamy and full of a rich vanilla flavour. It’s definitely high quality ice cream. But it’s gone so quickly!

If you’re looking for great ice cream and don’t mind the size, these are probably for you. If you want a decent sized lolly with a good coating of chocolate on mediocre ice cream, go for Tesco’s. If only we had Mercadona supermarket’s own brand Hacendado in the UK. They tick all of my ice cream boxes.

Dessert for breakfast

The time between Christmas and New Year is a weird time. Ordinary meal times go out of the window and it becomes acceptable to eat nothing but chocolate for dinner.

For New Year’s Eve we had my dad round for tapas and we gorged our way through paella, albondigas, patatas bravas and chorizo in cider. It was great, but there was no room left for the dessert I prepared. So we decided to have it for breakfast!

The dessert was a creation I came up with a few years ago. I like to call it “Bananachiladas.” It’s quick, easy, dairy, egg and nut free and extremely tasty!

Ingredients

1 banana per person

1 flour tortilla per person

Runny honey/agave syrup

Light brown sugar

Cinnamon

Method

1. Mix cinnamon in with the sugar and sprinkle over each tortilla

2. Add a banana to each tortilla

3. Sprinkle more sugar and cinnamon mix over the banana and add a drizzle of honey or agave

4. Roll up the tortilla and place in an ovenproof dish with the seam side down

5. Mix the remaining cinnamon sugar mix with a little boiling water and drizzle over the tortillas

6. Cover dish with tin foil and bake on approx 180 C (fan) for 20 mins or until the bananas are soft and squidgy

7. For crispy tortillas uncover for the last couple of minutes

8. Serve with ice cream and chocolate sauce.

I used a scoop of vanilla and a scoop of chocolate Swedish Glace dairy free ice cream and Askey’s Chocolate Chunk Crackin Sauce

Tried and tested: Bad Brownie Vegan Salted Caramel Brownie

I’m not one to be deterred by bad experiences and so when faced with the temptation of trying something new after my accidental nut consumption last week I decided to jump back on the proverbial horse.

Whilst browsing the stores of One New Change shopping centre, Cheapside, last Friday I happened upon a stall from Bad Brownie in the food market. I usually walk straight past these stalls, but a sign caught my eye: Vegan Salted Caramel Brownies. My interest was well and truly piqued.

The brownies were dark and cocoa-y and glittered with gold. Very decadent.

After my near death experience the day before (ok, so I’m a little over dramatic, but it could have been bad), I stopped to talk to the guy manning the stall. I asked about the ingredients in the Vegan brownie and if it contained nuts. He was extremely knowledgeable about the product, telling me that there were no nuts in the recipe but it was baked in an environment where peanut butter is used. He then went on to tell me that it’s gluten free, and uses coconut oil. He said it’s taken a while to perfect the recipe but it’s worth it, and the company are looking to expand the Vegan/gluten free range.

His knowledge of the product filled me with confidence and I purchased one for £4. I was also given a card which they stamp every time you buy a brownie and when you fill up the card you get a free brownie.

Before I left he told me that the brownie is good just as it comes, but is even better slightly warm and suggested giving it 20 seconds in the microwave.

I thought I’d take his advice, so on the way home I bought some vanilla Swedish Glace dairy free ice cream to go with my warm brownie.

20 seconds on full power didn’t do much, so I gave it another 20, which was perfect, then dolloped on a spoonful of ice cream (I tried to make it look fancy for the picture like in Masterchef, but my spooning skills left a lot to be desired).

Now, the closest I’ve ever got to a brownie in my 36 years is dressing up in a bobble hat and brown dress and promising to do my best, so this was a whole new experience for me. The top of the brownie cracked nicely when I stuck the spoon in and the centre was fudgy and rich. Mr Allergy had a taste and said the texture was good, and compared well with traditional recipe brownies. Needless to say I quickly devoured the whole thing!

I could definitely get used to eating something so deliciously naughty, but as I don’t fancy adding type 2 diabetes to my list of ailments I’d better reserve it for special occasions only.

For people wanting to feed a crowd, you can order boxes of these bad boys, and they will deliver to your office: Vegan Brownie Box Given that one single brownie is £4 the box is really good value for money.I was really pleased with this find and I would definitely recommend this product, for both the quality of the product and the staff working for Bad Brownie. Well done!!

Ice scream 

While we’re experiencing such beautiful sunny weather in the UK, I thought ice cream might be a topical subject to write about.

For probably the first 30 years of my life ice cream didn’t feature much in my diet. Now it’s a major food group!! 

Growing up in the UK the only dairy free ice cream available was Swedish Glace. It was only available from Holland and Barrett and came in vanilla or vanilla. Over the years the range developed to include chocolate and raspberry flavours and started being stocked in very limited quantities in Supermarkets. 

Around 2010 my local Sainsbury’s started stocking Swedish Glace non-dairy vanilla and strawberry cones, choc ices on sticks and Neapolitan ice cream, which came in a great big tub.  My previously vanilla world was amazed by these new and wonderful treats. I stocked up and munched my way through countless packages of the creamy delights. 

Then, as quickly as this new phase of my life began, it abruptly ended.  I wrote to Mr Sainsbury:

I am allergic to dairy products and am limited to buying Swedish Glacé dairy free ice cream. My local store usually stocks this in Vanilla and Neapolitan flavours. However, in the last couple of months I’ve been lucky if I can get vanilla, let alone the more interesting Neapolitan flavour. Dairy eaters have no end of choice and I often have none, as there is simply nothing in stock and I am finding this increasingly disappointing. You used to stock other flavours such as chocolate and raspberry and for a while you stocked some lovely cornetto style ice creams and choc ices. Why did you stop selling these, and what are your plans with regards to this line of goods? I would really like to have more choice when I shop, and actually be able to buy these products rather than seeing empty shelves where they ought to be.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Mr Sainsbury replied:

Thank you for your email. I am sorry you are unhappy with the range of dairy free ice cream available at our  store. I understand you would like us to increase this range in the future.

 We try to sell the widest possible range of products to give our customers maximum choice. However, due to space limitations we cannot stock every item in every store. For each store, our buyers regularly review what we are stocking and how well it is selling, to make sure that we are meeting our local customers’ needs.

Occasionally, this means that we withdraw products from some branches if they are not popular. If enough customers want to see a certain product in their local store, we will do everything we can to provide it.

With that in mind, I have passed a request on to our buyers so they can consider the possibility of stocking Swedish Glacé chocolate and raspberry dairy free ice cream and some lovely cornetto style ice creams and choc ices at our  store for you.

 We appreciate you taking the time to contact us and look forward to seeing you in store again soon.

Dear reader, you may have noticed (I certainly did) a hint of sarcasm in Mr Sainsbury’s reply.  He’d clearly copied and pasted my email into his. But I thought I’d give him the benefit of the doubt. So next time I found myself in the freezer aisle, imagine my disappointment that there was no Swedish Glacé chocolate and raspberry dairy free ice cream and the lovely cornetto style ice creams and choc ices were nowhere to be seen. To add insult to injury there wasn’t even a tub of vanilla!! 

Fast forward a year or two and the non-dairy choices are significantly better. Mr Sainsbury is now stocking Swedish Glace choc ices (although they’ve changed the recipe and they’re not as good as they used to be). They’ve also started stocking a range of iced desserts by The Coconut Collaborative


These are refreshing, low in sugar and high in coconut, which makes them extremely trendy. The packaging is quirky, eye catching and convenient to eat from whilst sitting in front of Game of Thrones.  The only drawback is that you have to leave it to thaw for about 5 minutes before you can eat it, which is difficult for someone who’s spent 30 years plus waiting to eat the Frozen Yogurt made from the milk of the coconut! 

Not wanting to miss an opportunity, Mr Tesco brought out his own Free From range a year or so ago. The range currently consists of Strawberry and vanilla cones and Chocolate ice cream sticks. They’ve recently introduced Toffee and vanilla cones but these have nuts in them, so be careful if you have a nut allergy like me. 

Alpro have also recently brought out a dairy free range. Their Coconut ice cream is to die for. I’ve not tried their vanilla, so I can’t compare it with Swedish Glace.  They also do a Chocolate Hazelnut ice cream, which isn’t Allergy Girl friendly. 

I was really excited a few months ago to see an advert for dairy free Ben and Jerry’s, however it was short lived as they’re going to be making theirs with almond milk. 

Finally, if you happen to be looking for a dairy free ice cream in Spain or the Canary Islands (and possibly the Balearics), head to a Mercadona supermarket, where you can pick up a box of very tasty choc ices on sticks or a tub of mango and raspberry ice cream. Yum! 

That’s all from me.  If you have your own tips on where to buy dairy free ice cream, I’d love to hear them. Alternatively you could try making your own……