Tag Archives: Dairy free

Review: FoodMaestro App

Growing up I had no food allergies, though I remember being tested to try and get to the bottom of why my eczema would sometimes flare up. It’s not unheard of for people to grow out of some allergies, but I managed to grow into some.

I turned vegetarian when I was 13, before the days of Quorn and Linda McCartney products, after about ten years of vegetarianism I developed an intolerance to mushrooms, I get hideous cramps and other things I won’t go into. Suffice to say it’s not worth me eating mushrooms. 

More recently I’ve developed an intolerance to rich dairy, so cream and ice cream are out, cheese is eaten in moderation and I try and have a few entirely dairy free days a week to reduce the unfortunate consequences of this.

The boys are thus far ok, able to eat anything and everything put in front of them, it’s just me, the mushroom and dairy intolerant vegetarian who makes meal planning more difficult at home.

I was introduced to the newly launched FoodMaestro app which allows you to create personalised dietary profiles for each family member, logging allergies, intolerances and lifestyle choices that affect their diet.

The app was built in partnership with Guys & St Thomas Hospital Trust and makes it easier to manage food-related conditions. It currently has a directory of more than 75,000 products and 25,000 ingredients, with more products being added all the time. 

It’s easy to search for food products by name or category and find items that are suitable for your diet, the app checks the nutritional information on each product and tells you if it isn’t suitable for you or your family to eat. This allows you to easily build lists of ‘safe’ foods and identify potential problems. 

FoodMaestro

Once you’ve downloaded the free FoodMaestro app you just put in the details of your family members and their dietary requirements, it’s a simple swipe to choose from a range of allergy and intolerances as well as filtering into vegan, meat free, gluten free options, to name just a few. 

You can then set about creating a shopping list, I went about my kitchen scanning the bar-codes of the items we were starting to run low on, as each item scanned the app would tell me if it matched our dietary requirements. You don’t have to scan the bar-codes, you can write up your list and the app will check each item for you. Once you’ve finished you can share your list, I chose to email it to myself so I could view my list when I went shopping, I normally have my shopping list on my phone anyway. 

FoodMaestro

As you can see, the app has flagged this item up as unsuitable as it contains traces of milk.

The FoodMaestro app currently lists products from most large brands as well as the supermarkets,  Waitrose, Morrisons and Asda, and they are adding Tescos products to the app shortly.

I can see this app being very useful for me, although I’m a keen reader of labels, sometimes I think a product is ok and it turns out not to be and I’m poorly for a few days (unfondly remembers the posh instant noodles I ate which contained an awful lot of mushroom stock). This will also be great for when we have people round for tea who I know have food allergies and intolerances, helping me to double check that I’m not going to make them poorly. I think the FoodMaestro app is a big step forward.

You can find out more about the FoodMaestro app on their website and you can follow them on Twitter for news and updates.

FoodMaestro

= This is a collaborative post =

Exploring The Really Interesting Food Co.

Over the last few months I’ve been trying out a number of different healthy food brands, the latest one is The Really Interesting Food Co. who make a range of vibrant and imaginative soups and meals inspired by cuisines from around the world. I was sent a couple of their best sellers to try, and I was impressed!

The Really Interesting Food Co.

I tried the Spanish Chickpea Casserole and the Balinese Lentil and Pepper Soup. I was impressed by the vibrant flavours and the heartiness of the casserole and the soup, I served them both with a hunk of bread and they were filling and delicious meals in themselves. They’re a great store cupboard saviour, meaning when I’m tired and hungry I could just open a tin and have a healthy meal in minutes.

The Really Interesting Food Co. also have in their range –
~ Moroccan Chickpea Soup
~ Mexican Bean Soup
~ Sri Lankan Lentil and Coconut Soup
~ Thai Temple Curry
~ Thai Green Curry

The products from The Really Interesting Food Co. are free from artificial additives and preservatives, and are gluten, wheat, dairy and GM free, as well as being suitable for vegetarians and vegans too.

Products from The Really Interesting Food Co. range are available from all good supermarkets and health food stores.

Review: Free & Easy Foods

These days food intolerances are being taken more seriously. I know several people who are gluten-free and worryingly I am starting to develop a dairy intolerance, meaning if I have a lovely unctuous cheese sauce or nice creamy pudding I am very, very ill, so I’m starting to avoid dairy as much as I can, which does make life a little bit sad for someone who loves cheese as much a I do.

I discovered the Free & Easy Foods range, which are a boon for people with intolerances, or those who just wish to avoid certain foods. The Free & Easy products range from sauces and gravies, through to ready meals,curry pastes and natural soft drinks. Free & Easy Foods are available from health food stores, fine food retailers and online.

Free and easy foods

Free & Easy Foods are free from wheat, gluten, dairy, soya, celery, mustard, nuts and preservatives. They are low fat and suitable for both vegetarians and vegans.

I was sent a selection of nice things to try. I almost wept with joy at the sight of the red onion gravy. I’m a vegetarian and good gravy in a packet is hard to come by. This had sausage and mash written all over it and it was delicious, really flavoursome and with nice chunky pieces of onion. It would be brilliant with a nut roast!

The next thing we tried was the dairy free cheese sauce, I wasn’t sure what to expect but I griddled some courgettes and tossed them through the sauce with some tagliatelle. Neither of the boys notices the dairy free cheese sauce was missing the key ingredient and I wasn’t really ill afterwards. This is definitely going to be a staple in my cupboard from now on.

Working from home I do like to keep a tin or two of soup or something heartier in the house for those times I fancy a hot lunch. I tried the lentil and red pepper soup and the organic three bean chilli which were both perfect for lunch, really tasty and hearty. I ate them with a chunk of fresh bread and they kept me going all afternoon.

Lastly we tried the tikka curry paste and the rogan josh curry paste. These were really easy to use. For the boys I just marinaded some chicken in the paste for a few hours and then cooked the chicken in a sauce I made with some more paste, vegetables and reduced fat coconut milk, I served this with rice and they really enjoyed it. I made a veggie version of the curry using quorn, but you could also use it with paneer or just lots of lovely fresh vegetables.

The Free & Easy Foods range is great if you’re avoiding certain things in your diet, the food doesn’t taste like you’re missing out on something, which is a very good thing. Free & Easy foods are packed with flavour and are low fat and healthy, what’s not to love?

You can find out more about Free & Easy Foods on their website.

 

Review: Ambu Tree Marinades

With the barbecue season in full swing we were optimistically sent some fresh Ambu Tree Marinades to try; then the heavens opened and it rained solidly, Noah’s Arc style for days. Thankfully you don’t really need a barbecue to try the marinades out so we got stuck in.

There are three different flavours of Ambu Tree marinade; Mild Tandoori, Spicy Tandoori and Chinese Five Spice. Ambu Tree use freshly roasted and ground spices which really pack a flavour punch, they are also gluten and dairy free and contain no food colouring or harmful additives. The marinades are chilled, so need to be kept in a fridge, but they generally have pretty long dates on them and will keep for a few weeks in the fridge.

The pots look small, but they do go a long way, they say each pot is enough for 4-6 people and I think that’s about right.

Ambu Tree Marinades

To use, I sliced up a large chicken breast, put it in a plastic box, added about two teaspoons of the mild tandoori marinade and coated the chicken. I did the same with the spicy tandoori marinade (we wanted to do a taste comparison). Because I’m veggie I just coated a Quorn fillet with each and I put all the boxed chicken and Quorn in the fridge for a few hours to, erm, marinade.

I cooked some in my griddle pan, the others I fried in a drop of oil. You could easily bake or barbecue them too. I served the tandoori chicken and Quorn in pitta bread with salad and homemade raita.

Ambu Tree Marinades

The mild tandoori was a really big hit, really flavoursome, there was some spice but it was a gentle, warming heat. The small boy (he’s 3) loved it and cleared his plate. The bigger boy (he’s 39) who is a spice junkie, preferred the spicy marinade. I enjoyed them both, but the mild was definitely my favourite. It was like no home marinade I’ve ever had, it tasted really authentic and complex, but also really healthy too.

The next night I made a stir fry. I marinaded the chicken and Quorn in the Chinese five spice. This was a bit runnier that the tandoori marinades, which were more paste like in consistency, it did make it easier to coat the chicken strips and it probably went a little bit further because of the consistency. Like before I fried the chicken and Quorn in a little bit of oil. I then topped each plate of veggie stir fry with the chicken or Quorn strips.

I really enjoyed the Chinese five spice marinade. It had a beautiful, deep, authentic flavour, I imagine duck would be fantastic marinaded in this. It wasn’t spicy hot, it was a wonderful blend of flavoursome spices which we all enjoyed.

The Ambu Tree Marinades were a bit of a revelation to me. I’ve tried a few similar mass produced marinades before but they lacked a bit of marinade mojo and were a bit gloopy and artificial. These Ambu Tree Marinades are so packed full of flavour and fresh tasting, a little really does go a long way. The little pots are available from their online shop at £3.85 per pot. They’re gorgeous and I hope they’ll find their way to my local deli soon.

Visit the Ambu Tree Marinades website for more information.

Note: I was sent the Ambu Tree Marinades for review purposes. All images and opinions are our own.