Free From Food Awards 2012- Judging getting nearer…

I may have previously mentioned that I have been invited to judge some of the categories in this year’s Free From Food Awards. Judging day is getting closer, my train ticket is booked and my tastebuds are at the ready.

I am sure all the entrants in all the categories will be fantastic, but I asked the Free From Food Awards HQ for an update on why this year’s awards are going to be the best EVER.

Michelle told me she is “very excited about the ready meals category which has always been a bit sparse in previous years but this year is bulging with entrants – real reflection of what is happening in the free from market.”

HQ are also very excited about the new raw food and superfood category. They have had some great entries, including  raw chocolate, mesquite flour, ‘flax dippers’, kale chips, beet juice and cheesecakes to name but a few. Interestingly traditional categories, such as bread, are now part of the main stream (a great reflection of the expanding free from market) so there are fewer entries this year – although, of course, cakes  are still holding up *cue collective sigh of relief from judges*

Still, the most popular judging category still remains the alcoholic variety, where judges can even sample some Free From nettle beer.

Can’t wait 🙂
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Free From Food Awards

If you are here, on a site about managing food allergies, you have probably already heard of the FreeFrom Food Awards 2012 “The industry’s only award for excellence for freefrom food – raising the profile of freefrom within the industry and with the consumer”.

Manufacturers of free from products were asked to submot their products for consideration in up to 17 categories, as follows:

1. The Innovation award:
The innovation category is open to any product which successfully pushes the boundaries of freefrom in terms of concept, ingredients and/or manufacture.

Categories:

2. Dairy and/or lactose-free animal milk, butter, yogurt and ice cream
Sponsored for 2012 by Swedish Glace

3. Plant (soya, rice, oat, nut, potato, hemp, millet, coconut etc) ‘milk’, spread, yogurt, ‘cheese’ and ice cream
Sponsored for 2012 by Pure

4. FreeFrom breakfast cereals
Sponsored for 2012 by Fria Gluten Free

5. FreeFrom breads and bread mixes
Sponsored for 2012 by Genius Gluten Free

6. FreeFrom pasta and pizza bases/mixes
Sponsored for 2012 by Tesco

7. FreeFrom foods manufactured for food service
Sponsored for 2012 by Livwell

8. FreeFrom ingredients, pastry/pastry mixes, sauces, flour, stock, marinades, sweeteners etc
Sponsored for 2012 by Juvela

9. • NEW • Raw foods and superfoods
Sponsored for 2012 by Asda

10. FreeFrom pizzas, savoury pies, flans, sausages and ready meals
Sponsored for 2012 by Delamere Dairy

11. FreeFrom savoury biscuits and snacks
Sponsored for 2012 by Genon Laboratories

12. FreeFrom scones, sweet tarts, Bakewells, sweet biscuits and cookies
Sponsored for 2012 by Tesco

13. FreeFrom cakes, cake mixes, muffins, brownies, cup cakes, cake bars and Eccles cakes
Sponsored for 2012 by Mrs Crimbles

14. Freefrom puddings, sweet pies, cheesecakes and desserts
Sponsored for 2012 by Hale & Hearty

15. FreeFrom chocolate, snack bars and petit fours
Sponsored for 2012 by Tesco

16. FreeFrom Christmas foods
Sponsored for 2012 by Produced in Italy

17. Gluten-free beer
Sponsored for 2012 by Asda

Although the entires are now in, there is now a very important job to be done. In early February 2012, a select group of people will be undertaking the hard task of judging each category, before selecting a winner and two runners up. I am delighted to announce that Food Allergy Kitchen was invited to be on the judging panel and will be deliberating at a secret location very soon.

Although I cannot reveal the categories I am judging, nor make you privy to highly confidential judging discussions, an update on the awards will be posted after the judging has taken place. Please note that I do not accept bribes…

The shortlist will be published on or around the 1st March 2012, before the awards are presented in April 2012. The Awards will also be showcased at the Allergy & Freefrom Show at Olympia in May.

Eczema creams

Photo by sritenou

I know this isn’t strictly allergy related, but as many people with allergies also have eczema, hopefully this post will be of use.

We have tried EVERY cream for eczema on the market, and some that aren’t. Doublebase, Diprobase, E45, Hydrocortisone cream, Eumovate, you name it. The best success we had was with a new cream called Altoderm, which is not currently available as we were only able to get it as part of a medical trial. We also tried ‘home made’ (not by us!) concoctions containing herbs and essences and chickweed. We even tried a special unguent prepared in-house by St Thomas’ hospital allergy/eczema specialists. He was allergic to it.

For a long time, the only cream his skin would tolerate was Hydromol, a vaseline-like cream that was a barrier cream, preventing his skin losing moisture but not adding it. It also coated everything, hands, pyjamas, school clothes, in a thick layer of gel. That didn’t even come off in the washing machine.

But a chance remark led us tp the current wonder cream that has changed our lives, and those of a small itchy boy, immeasurably. It is called Aveeno and is made (at least partly) from oats. It is a gentle cream that adds moisture to his skin, and the difference is immense. Parents come up to me at the school gates to remark on how much better his skin looks and he is much happier and less itchy.

Although a branded product, Aveeno is available of prescription, and if you are struggling with eczema, I urge you to try it- what have you got to lose, and the payoff is immense.

Allergic to washing powder?

Small boy has multiple food allergies and eczema, but thankfully does not seem to have any contact allergies- apart from one. Washing powder.

We only discovered this fact when our car broke down and we were unable to get to the supermarket to buy our normal non-bio. We did, however, have some allergy friendly washing products that had been sent to us for review by our lovely friends over at Mums The Boss (you can read the review here).

So we used Alma Win for an extended period while the car was out of action. It was only once the car was back on the road and we switched back to the normal non-Bio that we noticed small boy’s constant rash and itching had returned. We also noticed that if we visited friends or relatives, where he rubbed against fabrics or even toys that had been washed, his skin would come out in a contact rash. The laundry detergent was definitely to blame!

Alma Win provide environmentally friendly organic laundry, dishwashing and cleaning products that can be tolerated by the skin and are in harmony with man and nature. They are also the only laundry product that has been successfully dermatologically tested.

If you have sensitive skin, or are allergic to washing powder, I would recommend giving it a try. We now use the Cleanut laundry product, which contains soap nuts (not actual nuts!!)

Alma Win environmentally friendly organic products have been successfully dermatalogically tested

DS Gluten-Free Breadsticks – you can’t tell the difference!

I am always looking for new products for small boy, particularly things that can be carried around for picnics, birthday parties (as he always has to bring his own food) or just for little snacks. So when Dietary Specials asked me to try some of their new breadsticks, I was delighted, as I am a closet breadstick fan*.

Now normally gluten or wheat free products can be, well, a little lacking. They may taste lovely, but sometimes don’t taste like the things they are supposed to taste like. I have a theory that those with wheat or gluten allergies just get used to things never tasting like they used to. However, I have to say that these bread sticks are completely and utterly yummy and you honestly cannot tell the difference between the two.

I wanted to set up a ‘Breadstick Challenge’ (like the famous cola one of the eighties) and give people an ordinary breadstick and a DS gluten-free breadstick, but my neighbours think I am strange enough, so I decided not to. However, any family members who have popped round this weekend have all been accosted with some breadsticks and everyone agrees. No family member was damaged in the making of this blog post.

On a slightly more serious note, Lovely Dad wanted me to add that, if you are having a party and there is a child with allergies coming, maybe you could get these instead of normal breadsticks- if no-one can tell the difference then if you remove the box, the poor allergy child won’t feel singled out with ‘special’ foods. Just a thought.

The DS gluten free breadsticks contain: Potato Starch, Rice Flour, Modified Maize Starch, Yeast, Buckwheat Flour (3.4%), Vegetable Fat, Glucose-Fructose Syrup, Sugar, Salt, Thickener: (Hydroxypropyl Methyl Cellulose), Emulsifier: (Mono- and Diacetyl Tartaric Acid Esters of Mono- and Diglycerides of Fatty Acids), Raising Agent: (Ammonium Hydrogen Carbonate), Natural Flavourings. They can be purchased from all good ASDA stores.

If you *are* interested in purchasing some breadsticks, or any of the other DS products, you might want to sign up to their mailing list as they pay reward you in vouchers for doing so. Just click here to go to the sign up form.

*I have not actually been banned from my local Italian restaurant for eating too many breadsticks. But only because they are desperate.

Note: Dietary Specials have not paid me for this post. Although they did send me some breadsticks. But I can’t pay the mortgage with breadsticks so I still maintain this is an unpaid post. If anyone knows that I can, actually, pay my mortage with breadsticks, please let me know immediately. Thanks.

Chocolate? Allergy Friendly?

When you are allergic to soya, it’s pretty hard to find chocolate that is soya-free, but it can be done. However, if you are allergic to dairy you have no chance…

Last year I stumbled across Billy Goat Stuff- a fantabulous site selling hand made chocolate made from Goat’s Milk.

You can either buy bars, or shapes, and it’s pretty tasty too. Billy Goat Stuff is free from  Nuts, Soya, Cow’s Dairy, Eggs, Wheat and Gluten, which makes it a winner in our book!