No bananas here

Last week I wrote about how to cope when you have allergies and a subsequent medical issue requires you to restrict your diet even further. This go me thinking what about when you have allergies, but you just really don’t like something that you’re not allergic to?

Sprouts and Marmite are the really obvious foods here. Some people really hate them, and that’s fine, people are entitled to not like something. I personally love them. But if your diet is already massively restricted because you’re allergic to major food groups, is it ok to refuse to eat something just because you don’t like it?

There are things I don’t particularly like: tomatoes, bananas, cucumber, ketchup/brown sauce, fatty bacon. I’m sure there are more. I don’t mind tomato based foods such as chilli or bolognese, but I won’t eat a raw tomato; the seeds are sloppy and the feeling when you bite through the skin makes my teeth feel funny. Likewise with bananas, I’ll eat banana flavoured things like banana cake or those squishy foam sweets you get in pick n mix, but an actual banana is horrid. The texture is just weird and claggy in your mouth. I’ll eat cucumber if it’s given to me, but I don’t like it, unless served in a duck wrap with hoisin sauce. I’ve never liked ketchups or the sauce you get in takeaway burgers, it’s just too sweet and covers up the flavour of the beef. And bacon fat should either be crispy and rendered down or cut off. Limp soggy bacon with stringy white fat is really unpleasant and it makes me gag just thinking about it.

When I go to a restaurant or cafe to eat I’m limited to maybe one or two things on a menu, but if those one or two things happen to include cherry tomatoes for example, is it right to ask for the dish without them? It makes for a very drawn-out conversation. First off I have to explain my allergies. Then I have to ask for the dish without the tomatoes. This confuses people, they ask if I’m allergic to them. I answer, no, I just don’t like them. Sometimes I’ve pretended I am allergic to them just to make things easier.

I think there is a perception that I’m a fussy eater, which I’m not. I love food, it’s just that certain foods don’t like me. The fact that there are a handful of foods that I don’t like doesn’t make me fussy. If I didn’t have the allergies I’d have many more options and would be able to make food choices like any other person.

While writing this blog it did make me wonder about people that choose a restricted diet such as a vegetarian or vegan diet, and restrict themselves further by not liking a particular food. Does this make them a fussy eater? No. They have a belief or health reason and are entitled to make those choices. What about someone who has a food phobia? I used to work with someone that only ate cheese and chips or cheese sandwiches. Some might say that’s fussy. I say it’s a psychological issue and out of their control.

My final thoughts on this are that, above all, people should have choice. We all need food to survive, but we spend our entire lives eating to survive and should be able to enjoy it, regardless of what allergies, beliefs or phobias we might have.

As always I’m interested to hear from readers that have experienced similar issues and how you deal with it. Please do leave a comment and let me know what you think.

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Quick and easy lunch idea

For a quick and easy, tasty lunch, try grilling a block of Violife Mediterranean Style Block (a dairy free Vegan halloumi substitute).

Cut the block in half, season with salt and pepper and serve in a toasted pitta with hummus, falafel and a handful of mixed salad leaves. Yummers!

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?

Tried and tested: Livia’s Kitchen Raw Cookie Dough Nugglets

Shopping in my local Tesco I found this new treat from Livia’s Kitchen in the Free From section. Not one to pass new things by, I thought I’d give it a try. I really like the Salted Caramel Raw Millionaire Bites, so I had high hopes for these cookie dough Nugglets.

The serving is a good size for a not-too-naughty perk me up on the commute home, but there is quite a lot of sugar in the recipe (although from good sources including dates, maple syrup and coconut sugar). At £1.50 for 35g it’s quite expensive, but most Free From foods generally are.

The recipe is dairy, egg, nut and gluten free, however it is produced in a factory that handles nuts and eggs.

The packet was a little tricky to enter, as once I’d ripped at the indicated area, I was l left with only a small gap to get into.

Not wanting to let that deter me, I wiggled a finger in and expanded the opening. Having freed the Nugglets from their trapping it was time to taste. They’re a good bite-sized, chocolate-coated morsel, probably about Malteser size. The chocolate coating wasn’t entirely even and didn’t look quite as perfect as on the packaging, but it looked ok. I took a bite.

The filling is very sweet from the dates, with a hint of saltiness from the Himalayan Pink Salt. Although tasty, unfortunately the filling is rather dry and not as squishy as I was expecting from cookie dough – instead it was quite crumbly. On the packaging the chocolate is described as ‘velvety.’ I’ve had more velvety chocolate (Ombar, for example), but it wasn’t bad chocolate.

My verdict is that they’re ok. They’re not terrible, but neither are they my favourite. Will I buy them again? Probably not, especially if given the choice between these and the Millionaire’s Bites. I have a Chocolate Brownie flavour to try next, so watch this space for my next review!

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!