Thursday, 14 November 2013

Product Review: Foods Of Athenry Gluten Free Cereals


The wonderful Lawless family who are the people behind The Foods Of Athenry http://www.foodsofathenry.ie/ sent me an email inviting me to try out their new gluten free range of cereals http://www.foodsofathenry.ie/?treeid=46. Well, being a fan of The Foods Of Athenry gluten free products for a long time, how could I say no? 




They sent me three types:

Nutty Crunch Granola
Strawberry & Vanilla Granola
Sunshine Porridge

As you can see from the picture, the boxes are marked with the cross grain symbol and have clearly written 'gluten and wheat free' on the front. I love the new packaging.

The boxes are smallish in size, but the contents are filling. You don't need to eat a lot to feel full. My personal favourite is the Sunshine Porridge. Absolutely delicious. Easy to cook and I felt that it really set me up for the day. It has raisins, apricots and sunflower seeds. A great porridge.

The granolas are great tasting and they don't lose their crunch when served with milk. However, it would be unfair of me not to mention that there is rapeseed oil in both of the granolas I tested and though I do not agree with the use of this oil, its effects are more or less nullified when consumed with whole milk.

I know in my previous post I've encouraged everyone to be aware of what you buy from the free from aisle, but I can honestly say that The Foods Of Athenry are meticulous about their food and what goes into it. They never include artificial additives to their bakes. I've met both Paul & Siobhan Lawless personally and I know that they are genuinely passionate about what they do. You can read about their 'clean label' philosophy and more of their story here http://www.foodsofathenry.ie/default.aspx?treeid=36 

It's worth mentioning that the Nutty Crunch Granola won Gold in the Irish Food Awards - a granola that is gluten, wheat and refined sugar free. Brilliant that a gluten free product can win the top of a 'regular' category. The Strawberry and Vanilla Granola won the bronze.  

Find The Foods Of Athenry on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/TheFoodsofAthenry
Find The Foods Of Athenry on Twitter: http://twitter.com/foodsofathenry






Monday, 11 November 2013

The Devil Is In The Detail

WARNING: This is a wordy installment! I know I don't blog often, but when I do, I sometimes try to make it worthwhile. So be prepared for a lot of text and links to other articles online.

Recently all my social network feeds and general online chatter is full of praise for gluten free food suppliers. It's a long way from the moaning and complaining of the lack of gluten free food availability that used to be the norm. Now that gluten free food is considered a trend, courtesy of random celebrities, the food industry has jumped fully on board with this and you can almost get anything in gluten free form. Bagels, check. Bread, check, Pasta, check. Pizza, check. Pastry, check. An endless variety of baked goods, check. All good, right? I mean variety galore, it's all gluten free, there's a green light to indulge in all those foods the gluten free community has been 'missing out' on, right?

There has been this niggling in the back of my brain since the food industry has embraced gluten free and what it really means for me. Now my hands are up, I'm super guilty of being over-the-top enthusiastic for new gluten free products that hit the supermarket shelves. I've even been given the opportunity to review and blog about some of them. Go me. My enthusiasm stems from the not-so-long ago past when gluten free foods were far from edible, available and a serious lack of variety. I think I'm a bit scarred at having been inflicted with terrible gluten free food. However, being gluten free is not just about having to eat everything that's labelled gluten free. Just to reiterate, just because it says gluten free on the label, doesn't mean you should go ahead and eat it. Though the natural instinct is to immediately think, 'Ooooh, check this *insert new gluten free product here* out! Gluten free too. I MUST buy it and try it.'

Step away from the gluten free aisle for a moment. Just to be clear before I carry on, there are some genuinely great gluten free companies out there producing some genuinely great gluten free food. I think with the current market being flooded, it's a little harder to sort the good, from the bad and the really ugly.

When I first started my necessary gluten free diet, there was such a quick improvement to my health that I felt like a miracle had occurred. Brain fog, mouth ulcers, depression, anger, illness, anaemia, nausea and so much more, all these symptoms fled. It was like coming out of the storm. As a result, my hunt for gluten free food began in earnest. I mean apart from the fact that a large majority of foods are naturally gluten free, I thought that I needed to supplement the gluten foods with their gluten free equivalent.

I've been living on a gluten free diet for almost 8 years now. It's only been in the past few years I've been starting to feel not as healthy as I used to feel. I couldn't place it. I've been very careful about the food I've been eating and apart from the odd accidental glutening, I've been good.

So why was I feeling so unhealthy? I went through my diet and I think the answer lies in all the processed gluten free food that I have been consuming. 

I recently came across this interesting read from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: http://www.post-gazette.com/news/healthscience/2013/11/04/DIET-S-DOWNSIDE/stories/201311040018 It pretty much sums up a lot of what I want to say. In summary, majority of gluten free processed food = junk food, causing inflammation and illness.

There definitely seems to be a lawlessness in some, not all, of the gluten free food industry. I think it really is a case of caveat emptor. Buyer beware.

Here's an example of unwanted ingredients: there is a prevalence of rapeseed oil, also known as canola oil in gluten free foods. This is a real bugbear of mine. This oil is insidious. I have a very good friend who works in the world of organic chemistry and rapeseed oil (cold pressed, processed, GM, not GM, in all its forms), is considered a toxic organic and causes inflammation, amongst other complications. Toxic. The rapeseed/canola industry spin it as an 'healthy' oil. There is a lot of talk about canola's qualities - its unsaturated structure (Omega 3, 6, 12), its excellent digestibility and fatty acid makeup. It turns the consumer against naturally saturated oils and fats. http://www.drgangemi.com/2011/07/canola-oil/

Marks Daily Apple has a great read clearing up a lot of misinformation about saturated fat: http://www.marksdailyapple.com/saturated-fat-healthy/#axzz2jhdge49x

There really is nothing wrong with saturated fat, if it is the right type of fat. Have a read of Dr. Briffa's fantastic article debunking the myth concerning saturated fats. Click here to view http://tinyurl.com/ndbjrrc

UPDATE 24/03/14: Great article in The Guardian outlining everything I want to say about food these days! http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2014/mar/23/everything-you-know-about-unhealthy-foods-is-wrong

Our bodies recognise and understand saturated fats. They know how to break them down and digest them properly. Toxic substances in canola oil cannot be broken down by our bodies once they have formed. Interestingly, to counteract any effect when ingesting rapeseed/canola oil, you should consume a natural saturated fat as it will bond with the molecules and prevent them from being absorbed by the body and doing any further harm.

There are pages and pages of links online that explain why rapeseed/canola is something to be avoided. Nonetheless, there is such a massive industry behind the canola/rapeseed machine that it is almost impossible to be heard against them. 

Here are a couple of more links to Mark's Daily Apple that are worth exploring regarding healthy oils & fats:



I fully encourage you to really start reading up and researching further about the food you're eating. It's so important.

It amazes me that this oil is found in a large majority of gluten free foods found on the shelves. A lot of my favourite brands actively use this insipid ingredient in the production of their foods and I'm disappointed, because they don't need to. It also means that I can't indulge in their food, as it just makes me feel unwell. A simple change in the oils they use and their products will be even healthier for those who are on a gluten free diet and not cause further inflammation and harm. Before I really started to understand food and its effects, I never thought to look beyond the 'Gluten Free' labelling. I'm pretty sure I'm not the only one who has had this dawning realisation about some aspects of the gluten free food industry.

So the next time you see gluten free doughnuts, gluten free bagels, gluten free cereals, gluten free anything, have a good hard look at what exactly is going into these gluten free products. Too much sugar, unhealthy oils, unnecessary preservatives, over-processed, possible GM ingredients...? It is worth making an informed choice when shopping. Seeing as the gluten free community are so careful about making sure they don't get sick with hidden gluten, we all should be making an effort to make sure that we don't continue to poison ourselves with other hidden harmful ingredients that cause nothing but inflammation and lead to further unwellness. I think this stands for all foods to be honest.

I also want to say that I'm not intent on demonising the gluten free food industry. There really is some fabulous gluten free food producers out there and long may they continue. I just think in some instances, before buying it's worth reading the small print.


UPDATE: GlutenDude put up a post about what he thinks of processed gluten free foods and how they affected him, back in October of last year http://glutendude.com/celiac-rant/stop-eating-gluten-free-foods/ Worth reading. Clearly, I'm late to the party!



Thursday, 12 September 2013

Product Review: Delicious & Brennans Gluten Free Bread


Delicious The Gluten Free Bakery http://www.delicious.ie recently tweeted news about their new gluten free bread. I nearly died of excitement when I saw that they had teamed up with Brennans to create their new product. Brennans Bread was my pan of choice back in my gluten days. So when Delicious tweeted me saying that they'd be happy to send me a sample of their new bread, I absolutely accepted their offer. 




However, a few days later when I answered a knock on the door and was handed a large box to sign for, I was wondering who was sending me this package and what was in it. Well, didn't the fine people at Delicious not only send me a sample of their new bread, but 3 of their cakes, a flapjack and a macaroon.

(On a personal note: I am genuinely floored by their generosity. The gluten free companies that have approached me for reviewing their products are beyond generous. It's a real pleasure to support such great businesses and products. This has been a bumper year for the blog in terms of food reviews!)

So back to the bread.

It's brightly packaged and clearly marked Gluten Free and noticeably lists allergies on the back label. The most noticeable thing about this bread, is the size. It really is pan sized. Not like the usual smaller sizes of gluten free bread that are commercially available on the market. It is like a 'normal' sized piece of bread. I just couldn't get over that. In a good way. There is a tip on the back of the packaging that recommends that you should keep it in the fridge for a longer shelf life. It freezes well too.

The taste is good. When eaten untoasted it does actually taste like bread. The texture initially is a bit springy, but not too off-putting. It tears differently from 'normal' bread, so is the nature of gluten free. It toasts really well and I made a tasty croque monsieur with it. It holds well when frying it in the pan or toasting it with cheese on top, in the oven. Again, the wonderful thing about this bread is the size. It feels so 'normal'. I would be happy to buy this bread again. It definitely satisfies.

As far as I'm aware it is only available in the Cork area at the moment. I do hope this hits the shelves nationwide soon. If its price point is set affordably against other gluten free breads already out there, I think it will sell really well. It's worth buying.

Delicious is an award winning gluten free bakery that is based in Cork. I personally think Cork is the gluten free capital of Ireland. Delicious adds beautifully to that reputation. They really listen to their customers and are always happy to hear feedback on their range. You can read more of their story at this link here: http://www.delicious.ie/about-delicious 

I'm not forgetting about all the amazing cakes and extras that came with the bread. I just want to focus on their bread as it really is the new kid on the block. However, it must be said there is a reason that Delicious Gluten Free Bakery is called Delicious. I've been a fan of their cakes and goodies since I discovered them. Their cakes never disappoint and I genuinely love to eat their food.

Find Delicious on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/Deliciousglutenfree
Find Delicious on Twitter http://twitter.com/DeliciousCork




Product Review: PureBred Gluten Free Bakery


PureBred Gluten Free Bakery http://www.purebred.ie got in touch with me awhile ago and asked if I wanted to review some of their gluten free range. I had high hopes for a great taste factor.




The generous folks sent me on the following:

Luxury Lemon Muffins
Luxury Chocolate Muffins
Double Chocolate Cake Bars
Mixed Berry Cake Bars

How spoilt was I?

Okay, so on with my review...

Starting with the packaging - there is clear gluten free labelling and they use the cross grain symbol on the front and back of the packaging, which is trusted by the gluten free community. Also, clear labelling of other allergens too, i.e. the mixed berry cake bars are clearly marked dairy free and the back of the packaging has a list of what allergens are in the bake.

The lemon muffins had this gorgeous lemon filling in the middle. The texture of something similiar to a lemon curd. The muffin itself wasn't dry or crumbly, but properly 'cakey'. I can say the same for the chocolate muffins. They had an equally great texture and a nice chocolate filling too. Between the two, my favourite was the lemon muffin.

The cake bars were surprisingly 'cakey' too. Not crumbly, decent texture and not too filling. The flavours are strong and not overly sweet. 

(On a personal note: They do use Canola oil, also known as Rapeseed oil. I don't like this oil. It's an unhealthy oil and the benefits of this oil used in food are minimal. I would like to see them switch out to an healthier oil. As someone who has to live on a gluten free diet, I've ended up reading and researching all about what foods are good and what foods cause inflammation. There is a lot of force in the canola oil industry that want to argue this point, but having researched and talked to people in the food industry, canola oil is something I am rightly to be wary of.  Some further random reading: http://www.drgangemi.com/2011/07/canola-oil and http://www.naturalnews.com/026630_oil_canola.html) 

PureBred are a family bakery from Co. Donegal. They primarily produce gluten free bread and gluten free bread rolls. You can read a little bit more about their story at this link here http://www.purebred.ie/our-story.

PureBred bakery are right up there in the gluten free world in terms of taste. They really know how to create a product that doesn't feel like it's trying too hard to taste 'not gluten free'. It is just a shame that they use such an unhealthy oil in their bakes.

Find PureBred on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/PureBredGlutenFreeBakery
Find PureBred on Twitter: http://twitter.com/PureBredBakery






Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Roll Up, Roll Up For The Gluten Free News Tour!


So this post is more of a round-up of what's been happening around me in the gluten free world...

There was The Irish Times http://www.irishtimes.com who recently published what was meant to be a light hearted article about eating with those who are considered to be 'picky eaters'.


I picked up on this courtesy of Alex, via his facebook page http://www.facebook.com/HealthJourno where he commented with the following:

" "I’m going to make the falafels with spelt flour, so that the coeliac health nut can also partake in them."

A direct quote from an The Irish Times article from Saturday 10th August written by Chef Domini Kemp.

Not the first person or publisher to mistake spelt for a gluten-free grain, and almost certainly not the last.

I tweeted both the paper and the chef, and Domini Kemp has politely responded. She said that her recipe could be made with GF flour, but appears to have missed the point that the above quote contains wrong advice which could potentially harm a coeliac, especially if being catered for by someone else who has read it.

Coeliac Nathan Drewett tweeted me to ask why he thought so many made this mistake, and I responded that I thought producers of spelt foods have marketed it as 'different' to wheat and have failed it to call it by its full name: 'spelt wheat'.

What do you think? Why does this mistake keep coming around? And why won't the Irish Times just correct the error like the Guardian newspaper would have ... ?"

I shared the above on my facebook page and the overall feel was that coeliacs are depicted as faddy, health nuts who can eat spelt flour. All of which is completely inaccurate. As most familiar to the gluten free world know, spelt is not gluten free. Also, coeliac disease does not equate health nut. Just poor language in the piece and shocking that this sort of thing can still be published in an established, national publication. Sometimes it feels like (to coin an old phrase), the blind leading the blind. 

Coeliac Pages http://coeliacpages.ie tweeted me an image of the apology that was issued in The Irish Times.

Image (c) Coeliac Pages.ie 2013

What do you think of the apology? There seemed to be a general agreement on my twitter feed and facebook that it was merely an apology to those who complained, rather than any real true clarification of why the apology was needed. Also, the online article still has not been amended to reflect the apology. The line, "I’m going to make the falafels with spelt flour, so that the coeliac health nut can also partake in them." reads the same. A simple edit reflecting that those with coeliac disease can not eat spelt flour would go a long way in preventing a misunderstanding and there is also a lot of potential for making those with coeliac disease/gluten intolerant very sick by someone accidentally serving them up a meal made with spelt flour. 

You can read about all the different discussions concerning The Irish Times article at:




Scroll through all the feeds and you will see some interesting comments on the matter.


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The next thing that has been making waves in the gluten free world that I also mentioned on my facebook page was '#Djokovic's claim that his success is down to his gluten free diet. Long story short, Dr Igor Cetojevic 'diagnosed' Djokovic as gluten sensitive by holding a slice of bread near his stomach and then Djokovic felt a noticeable lessening of strength in his arm.

From the Independent.ie "Next Cetojevic gave Djokovic a slice of bread. He told the bemused player not to eat it but to hold it against his stomach with his left hand while he again pushed down on his outstretched right arm. To Djokovic’s astonishment, the arm felt appreciably weaker."

Personally, I am disappointed that the Independent would publish such an article, especially without clarifying that this is absolutely NOT how to begin a diagnosis of gluten intolerance or a gluten sensitivity. These sorts of articles seriously impact the gluten free world in a very negative way. There should have been some sort of footnote explaining that if you think you suffer from gluten intolerance/sensitivity to go and visit your GP and get the necessary tests done.

Holding a piece of bread near your stomach does not a diagnosis make. It is just pure quackery. It is irresponsible to perpetuate this without adding that the reality is to genuinely seek true, medical help from a GP. Though there were follow-up blood tests to confirm the 'bread test', it just seems so backwards in how he came to the gluten free world. No wonder a majority of the population considers the gluten free community as merely a trend/fad/inconvenience, rather than a true medical condition that needs to be taken seriously.'

Now you can read all about what people had to say about this on my fb page, but what I really want to make clear is this; perpetuating applied kinesiology as a means of diagnosing a gluten sensitivity is all kinds of wrong. This opens the door for exploitative behaviour towards those who are vulnerable, immunosuppressed, sick and desperate. The science behind it is at best, sketchy. Encouraging this as a means to an end confuses what being gluten free truly means and is seriously damaging to the gluten free community. If people want to try this out for themselves, fine. It's their life and it is they who have to deal with the consequences. However, I really do not like the fact that Djokovic is using a very public platform and his celebrity to allow this road to diagnosis to be encouraged. This in turn may lead to people thinking that gluten sensitivity is also pseudoscientific and that is a worrying thought.

Alex has also published a great blog back at the beginning of August on the Food Allergy & Intolerance Ink site http://foodallergyandintolerance.blogspot.ie/ Read all about what he thinks of it here: http://foodallergyandintolerance.blogspot.ie/2013/08/novak-djokovic-wimbledon-runner-up.html

UPDATE: 05/09/2013

Alex has just recently published a full review of Novak Djokovic's book. Please have a read of it at this link here. I've said it already and I'll say it again - I couldn't agree more with what he has written. http://foodallergyandintolerance.blogspot.co.uk/2013/09/novak-djokovic-serve-to-win-review.html


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Good news in the gluten free bread world! Delicious The Gluten Free Bakery http://www.delicious.ie has created a new gluten free loaf with Brennans Bread. I am so excited about this! Before I had to go gluten free, Brennans Bread was my choice pan, so I just can't wait to get my paws on this. At the moment it is only available in the Cork area, with hopes of it going nationwide soon. For more information about all their Delicious news go to their Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/Deliciousglutenfree and/or Twitter: http://twitter.com/deliciouscork


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Did you know that it's Irish National Gut Week from August 19th – 25th? http://www.gutweek.ie
Seeing as the need for being on a gluten free diet more often than not, involves digestion issues, this annual campaign is in its 8th year and aims to raise awareness of the importance of good digestive health. Love your gut! Twitter: http://twitter.com/loveyourgut

You can also download a free gut week pack at this link here: http://www.loveyourgut.com/gut-week/gut-week-packs


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UPDATE: 22/08/2013

BIG NEWS - Glanbia Gluten Free Oats Mill

The Irish Farmers Journal http://www.farmersjournal.ie published an article today announcing that their plant in Ballytore, near Athy, is being developed to provide a supply of gluten-free oats, sourced from 400 acres of tillage farmland in the region. To quote from the article, "Glanbia have set themselves an even more stringent quality target of 10ppm." Glanbia are also commissioning a new mill in Portlaoise, Co. Laois exclusively for feed grade oats.

Click on the link below to read the whole article. If you have difficulty reading it, please feel free to email me directly at glutenfreephotos[at]gmail.com There's also a nice explanation of coeliac disease in the feature. Good news for the gluten free community and the economy!

http://tinyurl.com/m7mzeot


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So there you have it. That's my round-up of all my gluten free news for now. Anything you want to add or know of happening, please feel free to share.

Tuesday, 30 July 2013

I Am Not A 'Gluten Free Trend'


My husband was at a (trusted) local takeaway the other week waiting for collection of food (and a gluten free order for me, yay!) and spotted the magazine called Hospitality Ireland and decided to pick it up for some light 'waiting-for-my-food-to-be-picked-up' reading. What caught his eye and subsequently mine, was a rather dismissive little blurb about gluten free cuisine in an article titled 'Trends - Fast Foods'.

To quote directly from the article in question: 

'Gluten-free Cuisine – As more and more people claim to have food intolerances, restaurants are learning to adapt and provide menu options that cater to this demand. Luckily for the traditional fish and chip outlet in Ireland, providing a gluten-free option is easily done by changing to gluten-free batter for fish or a gluten-free bun for a burger. This is part of a macro trend where the public want to know exactly where their food is coming from.'


There are many things wrong with this throwaway paragraph, that it caught me by surprise that something like this would be published in a magazine for the food service & drinks industry.

Okay, so my problems with this are (I apologise in advance for venting my frustration and sounding a bit like a broken record here):

- The use of the word 'claim'. If you were to look up the definition you get some of the following results: 

To state or assert that something is the case, typically without providing evidence or proof.
and
An assertion of the truth of something, typically one that is disputed or in doubt.
 
As someone who definitely suffers from gluten intolerance, I am not 'claiming' to have this intolerance, but I actually am medically diagnosed and suffer from it. Gluten free food is also associated with coeliac disease, which can only be treated by living on a gluten free diet - is dismissed by using the word 'claim'. Those with coeliac disease are not 'claiming' anything, but actually need to be on a gluten free diet.

It would have been wiser to write something that separates a genuine food allergy and coeliac disease with the actual trend of those who are merely dabbling with the notion of being gluten free. These are two very separate things and to be lumped in as a person who walks into an establishment looking for gluten free cuisine, should not be dismissed as yet another person following a food trend. 

- This leads me to the fact they completely missed the opportunity to mention coeliac disease. Considering Ireland has one of the largest coeliac populations per capita in the world, it might have been an idea to actually mention this, in order to help encourage and bring awareness to the hospitality industry. Yet, gluten free is mentioned as part of a macro trend. Just to reiterate - one of the largest populations per capita in the world, medically needing to be on a permanent gluten free diet, referred to as part of a macro trend. Notwithstanding those who are genuinely gluten intolerant like myself. Saying that the provision of a gluten free option is part of the public wanting to know where their food is coming from as part of a macro trend, is infuriating. Perhaps I am misinterpreting what the article is trying to say here.

- No mention of any other food intolerances or allergies. Seriously, gluten free is just one in an enormous list of possible food allergies/intolerances that are 'trending' right now. Perhaps they could have stated something along the lines of, 'One of the many food intolerances that have been identified in the restaurant business is the need for gluten free cuisine.' 

- As for how fish 'n' chip shops can 'easily' provide gluten free options by simply replacing foods with gluten free versions and absolutely no mention of cross-contamination or needing to be genuinely certified gluten free by the FSAI http://www.fsai.ie/ in order for the gluten free population to eat safely at these venues, is reckless. Those who are vegetarian wouldn't have their food prepared using the same counters, utensils, etc., that meat options were prepared on. Same with those who have a nut allergy, you know the prep stations would be clean of nut traces, etc. Those who need a gluten free diet can not have their food prepared on the same surfaces, with the same utensils, etc., that 'normal' food is prepared on - unless you want them to get sick. Some people who have coeliac disease or gluten intolerance can get sick almost immediately if they've eaten food that has been cross-contaminated with gluten.

I have ranted about the hospitality industry before (see my post from last year Hospitality Or Hospital http://glutenfreephotos.blogspot.ie/2012/07/hospitality-or-hospital.html), and I do acknowledge there are establishments who really do their best to provide proper, safe food for the gluten free population of this country and those visiting this country, but I am continually disappointed with the lack of some establishments truly grasping the very real need to provide a proper gluten free option. I'm of the mind that you either do it the right way or don't do it at all. Little throwaway blurbs in a hospitality (!) magazine for Ireland like this, bears no real reflection of what is needed from the hospitality sector that should be making every effort to provide a safe service/product to a population that has an ever-increasing awareness of diet and health needs. I mean that's what hospitality is all about, right?






Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Product Review: Veronica's Snacks - Munchy Happiness In A Bag


I haven't done a product review in years on my blog, so it's about time I do one! The fine people over at Veronica's Snacks http://www.veronicassnacks.ie/ sent me an amazing goody bag of their new baked organic crisps, during Coeliac Awareness week back in May. Yes, that is how long it has been since I've had a chance to come here and blog! Sorry about that. I'm probably one of the laziest bloggers I know! Mostly because I am genuinely crazy busy in the 'real' world. I know, more excuses, but true!

So back to Veronica's Snacks. It is always a pleasure to receive gluten free goodies in the post and these crisps didn't disappoint.




I received two bags of Sour Cream Herb & Onion crisps and two bags of Barbeque crisps.

So starting with the packaging - the gluten free labelling is well labelled and very clear on the front and back of the bag. A clear message of no gluten here. Yay! I love that I don't have to check the ingredients list to make sure. They have the cross grain symbol labelled clearly as well.

Veronica Kenneally is from Cork - so all the better that this stems from a new Irish start-up. The recipes for the crisps are hers, but they are made in Slovakia, however everything else is run from Cork. She is upfront with this information in her promotional literature. It is a shame they aren't made in Ireland too, but I'm assuming cost & logistics are the reason for these being produced in Slovakia.

These crisps are promoted as an healthy alternative to the 'usual' crisps and they undoubtedly do have their benefits - they're baked for a start and they're listed as having no cholesterol, no trans fat, no GMO & no wheat. 

(On a personal note: The small problem I have with touting gluten free as healthy, is that it is not. The other points - yes, healthy - but the lack of gluten/wheat in any given product does not necessarily equal healthy. It simply means that there is no gluten or wheat in the product. That's it. The only health benefits are to those who cannot eat gluten/wheat due to having coeliac disease, gluten or wheat intolerance, therefore these products will not make them sick, but there is largely no other health benefit to something being gluten/wheat free.)

There is a good crunch to the crisps and definitely moreish. The barbeque and sour cream & herb flavours are great and you don't feel like they're scrimping on the seasoning. The only small downside is that after eating a few in a row, they tend to be quite dry, so you need to have a drink to moisten your mouth again. Apart from that - thumbs up! 

So altogether a great product. Tasty, moreish, convenient, gluten free - what more could you want from a crisp?

Veronica's Snacks can be found pretty much anywhere in Ireland and she has a new range of Veggie Crisps out now too. I haven't tried them yet, but if I am to go by what I've tasted already with her other crisps, then I'd say you're on to a winner! 

It is nice to be able to pick up a packet of decent tasting crisps in a shop and not have gluten and cross-contamination worries.

So go forth and get munching!



Image (c) Veronica's Snacks



Friday, 17 May 2013

Coeliac Awareness Week

Just in case you missed it - this week is Coeliac Awareness Week. All week I have been linking coeliac diagnosis stories from great coeliac/gluten free bloggers from around the web on my Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/TheGlutenFreePhotographer I know I am a gluten intolerant, but I think it is really important to raise awareness about coeliac disease as it is something that should be taken very seriously.

Just in case you missed them - I have linked them here. Each story is so different and great to read. I love the honesty and the personal nature of these stories. If they help one person go to their GP and get themselves checked out for coeliac disease, gluten intolerance, or any illness that may be mysteriously affecting their lives, then all the better. All these stories are incredible. Grab yourself a cup of tea and get reading!

Day 1
The first blog is from the wonderful gluten free b.com http://glutenfreeb.com site. She has just published a very personal post about her struggle with health and diagnosis of coeliac disease: 

Day 2
Tuesday's story comes from the fantastic Little Missed Gluten http://littlemissedgluten.me blog. Another amazing story that needs to be read. How she managed to get her diagnosis and what happened:

Day 3
The third day I linked from the excellent Gluten Free By The Sea http://gfreebythesea.me blog. Kevin's road to diagnosis and his initial isolation and following acceptance and coping with coeliac disease is a great read:

Day 4
Thursday's story came from Annie's Supperclub http://www.anniesupperclub.co.uk/wordpress. This is her father's story and if there is any one diagnosis story to read - it is this one. Very moving and personal. This story shows just how important it is to get the diagnosis right:

Day 5
Friday's diagnosis story comes from the amazing The Happy Coeliac http://thehappycoeliac.com Sam's struggle with getting her diagnosis is worth reading:

Check out my Gluten Free Blog Love page http://glutenfreephotos.blogspot.ie/p/gluten-free-blogs.html for many brilliant coeliac/gluten free blogs that are worth following and reading.

Gluten Free Guerrillas http://www.facebook.com/glutenfreeguerrillas published this image on their facebook page this week. If you suffer from any one or more of these symptoms, get yourself to the doctor and ask for a blood test to check for Coeliac Disease. You owe it to yourself.

Copyright Gluten Free Guerillas

Also Gluten Free Guerrillas published an announcement on their Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/glutenfreeguerrillas:

'Join in our 1st TweetChat #CoeliacChat 'Beyond the Gut' with Robyn our Coeliac Nutritionist on Sat 4-5pm. For Coeliac Awareness Week we'd like to end on a high by sparking debate on Coeliac Disease & busting some myths. We'd love you to share the questions you'd like us to help answer along with other Guerrillas that join the debate.

After all not all Coeliacs have bloating or bowel problems. Not all Coeliacs feel better on a GF diet... We want to discuss & debate the questions you all want to know; why is my skin so bad, when will my infertility improve, what vitamins & minerals can support my immune system?

So comment below: with your key question? Are you a Coeliac who doesn't have bowel problems. What would you like us to discuss? See you on Sat @gfguerrillas peeps!'

So if you're on twitter - join in this Saturday! 

Hat tip to Veronica's Snacks http://www.veronicassnacks.ie/ who ran a munchy goodness gluten free hamper giveaway on their Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/veronicassnacks during this week for Coeliac Awareness. I also received a complimentary happiness hamper from them. I will blog a product review of their crisps soon.




This week really helped me feel part of a wider and supportive gluten free community. The whole point of Coeliac Awareness Week is exactly that - to bring AWARENESS to the public about coeliac disease. The main aim is to listen to your body. If you are unwell all the time, always on antibiodics, needing to go to the doctor, sometimes it takes longer for you to get over a cold, or injuring yourself and not healing as 'normally' as expected, or constantly under the weather, or something just not feeling right with you - go to your GP. Suck it up! (I mean that in the nicest way possible!) but man-up and get that blood test. If anything, at least it will help you on the road to the right diagnosis you need to get you well. So with those final words - stay healthy and spread the word!



Thursday, 25 April 2013

Blogging Business Or Just Blogging?

Some people out there have asked me why I don't monetise my blog. I've also been asked if I blog just for free samples and do I blog just to get my foot in the door for other opportunities. I think I need to make it clear what I'm doing here on my little blog.

I do not monetise my blog, because I don't want to. When blogging becomes a job and a constant 'how do I make money for content', I feel a blog looses focus. I do not write because I'm looking to make money. I write a blog because I enjoy it. I do not want to be pressured to live up to someone else's standard as to how often my blog should be updated, how my blog should look, what kind of pictures should be on my blog. The operative word here is MY. Yes, it is my blog and no one else's. If someone wants to contribute to it by either leaving a comment or interested in submitting a guest post or being interviewed, great, and the content is improved from outside voices, but it is still my blog and it will still be published in a manner I am comfortable with. I am so tired of bloggers getting frustrated at other bloggers for 'doing things for free.' I avoid all that nonsense and I do believe it is nonsense, by ignoring what seems to me a very passive aggressive giving-out from other bloggers. Sheesh, my blog, my rules. If you are someone who wants money for every single thing you do on your site, that's fine. I'm not running a business, I'm simply writing a blog.

I started this blog because I felt there was a gap in the Irish blog world for gluten free information, gluten free baking and well, everything gluten free. When I started I knew I needed some level of exposure, so I approached different gluten free food producers/companies to help me run giveaways to bring attention to my blog. I was delighted at the response and generosity from these producers and the kindness shown. It was very much appreciated. I was also happy to promote the companies I approached as they supplied/ran/made the gluten free products and I was only too happy to shout from the rooftops that there is more to being gluten free than a stale, crumbly, dry, overly worked baked good. 

'See! Look here! Try this. You too can eat gluten free and be fussy about what gluten free foods you can choose from as there is some tasty stuff out there! Don't just eat it because it's gluten free, eat it because it's gluten free and tastes good.' 

I'm always on the look out for new gluten free food. I'm actively looking for deliciousness. I have to. I need to. I don't have a choice. If I want to stay healthy, I need to eat gluten free. It's as simple as that. So I'm doing my small bit to try and keep up with gluten free news, blog the odd recipe and generally make small talk on my blog.

Do I get free samples? Sometimes. Only if I really want to try them. This can be handy as being gluten free is expensive, so it's nice to try a product out. If it is terrible, I didn't waste money trying another 'would-be-better-if-I-ate-a-piece-of-cardboard-instead-of-this-product' and if it tastes good, all the better. I will more than likely buy more of it. Sometimes I'll see a call out from a gluten free food producer looking for testers and I will definitely throw my hat into the ring. Not because I think, oh goody, free food! but because I really want to be involved in helping them make a really excellent gluten free product. I think it's a great way to give direct feedback and to be heard.

I like to enter giveaways (I've won one or two, which is always a thrill), I like to be involved in running giveaways, I like promoting good businesses and great blogs. I like doing all these things. I think it's ridiculous to charge money for doing this. The gluten free world needs as much exposure as possible and I'm not going to curb food producers/restaurants/etc., genuine enthusiasm by my requesting a fee for a blog post or promotion. If it's quality it gets a mention, if it's bad, it gets a mention, though probably not the mention they were hoping for. It riles me that bloggers are encouraged to monetise and think 'dollar signs'.  In truth, I am not often approached by third parties to promote something. When I am, it usually falls into the spam category. Occassionally I will get a promising email or heads-up about something gluten free worth looking into, but otherwise, I just let things tick along at my own pace on my blog.

I have a real job and a real family to tend to outside of this blogging universe. My blog is a welcome distraction and a nice way to keep my finger on the pulse in the gluten free world. The photos I put on my blog are not meant to be styled or anything special. I'm not shooting them professionally. Sometimes a really poor shot goes up. That's fine. It doesn't bother me as I am not being paid to publish these particular images, it's just something I do. I'm not blogging to try and wrangle a recipe book publication, or become a journalist, or become well known, or to become anything of note. I'm blogging simply because I want to. It's a joy when someone sends you feedback (good or bad - it means they're reading and showing interest!), or a pleasant email, or introduces me to some new gluten free food or resource I didn't know existed. It's brilliant to have give and take with great food producers and a lovely sense of community with readers and fellow bloggers. I would not put a price on that. The fact that time is taken by a complete stranger to stop for a minute and read my blog is pretty cool. If a third party picks up my blog or wants something to use from my blog, I'm happy to freely give content if I think it's worth doing. If I start thinking, 'Gee I really should be paid for doing this', then I shouldn't be doing it.