Review of Free From Festival London

The Free From Festival London is the UK’s first gluten free, dairy free and refined sugar free food festival. It is a successful food festival which incorporates free from food and live music and makes for an enjoyable day out. The latest Free From Festival was based at Old Spitalfields Market London. It had a large array of dairy free, gluten free, paleo and vegan foods to try, with the odd tea company thrown in for luck. I have been very lucky to attend the previous festivals in my official capacity as a food and tea blogger. So when I was asked if I would like to have press tickets I of course graciously accepted. It was an amazing day out and I had the opportunity to try a range of fantastic foods and tea. So here is a snap shot of my day at the food festival.

What immediately struck me as I arrived was the size of the festival and how it had grown. I had to wait in a queue to get in. In fact the festival had proved to be that successful that it was old out and people were being turned away. I showed my press pass got my goody bag and tried to plan my day. At this stage I to confess to still being a state of surprise as too much it had expanded. So I took it all in did a bit of people watching and listened to the fab entertainment that was on offer. Here’s a snapshot of what I saw during the day.

My first stop was Eat Safe app to see Matt and his girlfriend. She is soya intolerant and has found this to be highly restrictive when eating out. So Matt helped devise the Eat Safe app as part of his masters degree. It is in its beta testing stages and will hopefully be available for all to try later this year. I’m sure that this app will prove to be very successful. Here’s a link to their website http://www.eatsafeapp.co.uk/ Continue reading

Review of beond organic apple cinnamon bar

Now I’m a girl who likes her mid morning snack. I have tried a few alternatives to my old favourite Nature Valley bars but I still seem to have these by default. So I am making a real effort to try alternative snack bars. So when I stumbled across beond snack bars and discovered that they did an apple and cinnamon flavour I decided to give it a try.
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I was drawn to the deep brown packaging and the small green apple to the front of the packaging. On the edge of the packaging and in white writing the snack bar is clearly labelled as being raw, vegan, dairy free, gluten free and paleo. On the ingredients list the only allergen highlighted is cashews. There is no may contain warning.
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On opening the packet I was expecting something similar to the recent snack bars that I have tried ie: like the Nakd, or Rude Health snack bars. It was indeed similar. It was dark with small chunks of apple within the bar. There was a subtle sweet aroma from the dates with hint of cinnamon intermingled within this. I would personally describe as something similar to that of an apple cereal bar with a bit of date thrown in for luck. It’s texture was slightly sticky to the outside and a little gooey to touch. On biting into the bar I got a combination textures which worked really well together. It was soft and slightly gooey intermingled with a slightly crunchy tough element from the apples. As for the flavour the apple element was spot on not too strong or overpowering. The intermittent hit of cinnamon broke this up nicely. The dates and fruit juices added a slightly sweet element intermingled with this. I loved every element of this snack bar from the flavours through to the textures. All worked perfectly together.
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So would I recommend this snack, yes I would. It made a refreshing change to have a bar that differs in consistency to those that are like Nakd bars. I enjoyed everything about this bar especially the chunks of apple. So if you are dairy free like me, follow a gluten free, soya free, paleo or vegan diet give these a try. They make a nice filling sweet treat and have made my mid morning snack list. So thanks beond for producing a nice snack bar that I can enjoy.

The Free From Food Festival 2016

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The Free From Festival London is the UK’s first gluten free, dairy free and refined sugar free food festival. It is based at the Festival Hall in Brick Lane. There is a large array of dairy free, gluten free, paleo and vegan foods to try, with odd tea company thrown if for luck. Last year I was very lucky to attend the festival in my official capacity as a food and tea blogger. I had an amazing day out and had the opportunity to try a range of fantastic foods. As soon as I became aware that free From Events were holding another event this year I blocked the date out in my diary and told my mum to do the same. So when the Free From Festival contacted me and asked if I would like to have 2 press tickets to the event again I let out a little Yelp of excitement. Oh and of course I graciously accepted. So here is a snap shot of our day at the food festival.
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We had to wait in a queue to get in. I didn’t mind this obviously meant that the festival had proved to be very popular. What it did mean was that we had hunt down our food fast before it had all went. Before doing this we headed straight to the bar to get our goody bags and a cup of tea. We grabbed our tea and went straight towards Les Deux Aimes who specialise in sweet and savoury pancakes. We headed here first as they had sold out of many of their ingredients last year. They had two hot plates one for gluten free and one for dairy free pancakes. My mum had a gluten free pancake last year and loved it. So she was jolly well going to have another one. After a bit of pondering, she opted for the banana and Nutella again. The pancake looked delicious and had a very generous filling of both the Nutella and bananas. My mum soon polished of her pancake and said it was well worth the wait and made the perfect accompaniment to her cup of tea. They can be found at: http://www.lesdeuxaimes.co.uk
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I headed of to straight to Giancarlo’s stand, The Vegan Sweet Tooth. I visited his stall last year and fell in love with his cakes. All of course are vegan but not are gluten free. My regret last year was that I didn’t try any of his savoury treats. The stall proved to be very popular gain. I choose my pizza focacciata and opted for a vanilla mini animal muffin for later because they looked very cute. I ate my focacciata outside before exploring the rest of the festival. Oh my goodness I was not disappointed the dough was light and springy in texture. The topping was delicious the herbs complimented the tomato sauce perfectly. It was well worth the wait. Giancarlo can be found at: http://www.giancarloroncato.co.uk
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One stand that I also couldn’t wait to visit was Fravocado. They make their ice cream from coconut milk and avocado. It is free from dairy, gluten and refined sugar and suitable for vegans. I sampled all three of their flavours but my favourite had to be the raspberry and basil. The flavours just complemented each other perfectly, as for the texture it was nice and creamy and perfect in consistency. Fravocado can be found at: http://www.fravocado.co.uk
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Another stand I came across was Fodify. It is a company that was set up by two dietitians Hannah and Janet to cater for the needs of individuals who follow the Fodmap diet. They sell specialist packages of herbs, spices and jars of sauces that are Fodmap friendly. Let me tell the herbs and spices smelt amazing. Fodify can be found at: http://www.fodify.co.uk
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My mum was interested in Rana’s artisan bread. Rana is a coeliac who set up the company last year in a quest to have artisan bread. The company has six different bread mixes which you can simply add water to and bake, you can extras if desired. I sampled all breads at the show, my favourite was the Italian my mums was the sour dough. I would not have been able to tell that they were gluten free in a blind testing environment. I had hoped to buy the Italian but they were sold out so I got the sour dough and instead. Rana’s artisan bread can be found at: http://www.ranasbakery.com
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I then popped over to see Matt and his girlfriend at Eat Safe. She is soya intolerant and has found this to be highly restrictive when eating out. So Matt helped devise the Eat Safe app as part of his masters degree. It is in its early stages and will initially cover eating out in London but hopes to extend this in the future. More details can be found at: http://www.eatsafeapp.co.uk
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The next stop was Nutkin. This is a vegan cheese company set up by Kate all cheeses are dairy and gluten free. There are currently five cheeses available which use fermented macadamia and cashew nuts as their base. I really enjoyed all of the cheeses that I tried and was unable to choose a favourite. They were creamy, soft light in texture and full of flavour. I have to say it was one of the nicest cheeses that I have tried. Nutkin can be found at: http://www.wearenutkin.com
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Finally, no trip to the Free From Food Festival would be complete without some form of chocolate. This year I stumbled across nookie, which is a family run business who make raw chocolate bars. They are dairy, gluten and refined sugar free. I sampled all of their bars but my favourite had to be just their plain chocolate samples. It was light, airy and delicate in flavour, whilst being smooth in texture. Sadly, they do not normally sell this and it was just done for the show nookie http://www.nookiebar.com/
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In summary I had another fantastic day at the Free From Food Festival and would recommend it to everyone. So thank you Free From Events for my press tickets I really appreciate it.

Review of The Paleo Primal Roost Pantry and Cafe Bagshot Surrey

When I heard about a new paleo cafe in Surrey I have to confess to being a tad excited. It meant that in theory I could safely eat anything. So I headed down to Bagsott on the hunt of this new cafe. I have to confess to walking straight past it initially. The cafe is fairly small but bright and modern with a neutral decor. We sat by the window and were informed that you had to go to the till to place your order.
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Apparently I was like a child in a sweet shop with the look of excitement on my face. I could have everything on the menu, now that never happens. The menu was small and simple but we still found it difficult to choose.
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We opted for the cauliflower chicken salad. This came in two sizes and we opted for the large. My friend had a carrot and apple juice I had a simple sparkling water this was despite there been a large choice of drinks available.
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Whilst we were waiting for our salad I had a good old fashioned nose around the cafe with permission of course. There is section of paleo food, drinks and cook books available. I had a good look, but to be most of it I either had at home or had tried and therefore I didn’t purchase anything.
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On the counter by the till there was a good selection of cakes. They all looked very tempting and you were truely spoilt for choice.
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At the end of the counter you can see the freshly prepared food that you are going to eat. It was full of vibrant colours and looked healthy and again very tempting.
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Our lunch was freshly prepared and took a little time to arrive despite it being quiet. We got a large portion of chicken salad with a large side of cauliflower rice. The salad was lovely and contained every salad ingredient you could imagine. The chicken was nice and simple and light and had been cooked perfectly. The cauliflower rice was nice slightly bitter tasting but this is to be expected and had a nice subtle seasoning added. There was far too much to eat. I really enjoyed all of the elements of this dish the simple flavours complimented each other nicely. You get a good portion of chicken and it was definitely value for money. I even enjoyed the cauliflower rice despite not even really liking cauliflower.
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We were both full and I wasn’t able to eat even think about squashing a waffle in. The dessert menu offered a great selection. You could even get one of my favourite yogurts Co-Yo. Maybe next time I will have a smaller lunch so I can fit a dessert in.

My only criticism was that despite it being quiet the service was slow even though there was sufficient staff. Would I go back yes definitely for a nice cup of tea and cake. After all is not often that I can find a cafe where I can eat all of the cakes 😊.

The Free From Show London – My First Official Blog Review

I had a sudden change of plans for the bank holiday Monday. I received a message via twitter from Free From Events that as a blogger I had now got tickets to the Free From Festival in London. I was a tad excited to say the least, it was the first event that I had attended as an official blogger. So I made a quick call to my mum to ask if she could join me and of course the answer was yes and we made our arrangements to meet up the following morning. I have to confess to getting little sleep that night in the anticipation of the next morning. I packed my bag with my usual dairy free essentials just in case, its always better to be prepared. With my rain coat, umbrella and boots on I was ready to get on the train. I looked up some details about the festival during my journey to plan our day out. There appeared to be lot’s of stalls with food that were either dairy and lactose free for me or gluten free for my mum. The festival was held in a hall not to far from Aldegate East tube station, so it was a quick walk in the rain and we were there. I handed the ticket information to the men on the door, this was essential as the festival had sold out.
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On entering the hall we were greeted by a packed hall full of wet people and brilliant live music. I wasn’t sure where to start and what to do, so my mum and I had a general wander around deciding on a plan of action for the day. We were greeted with was a variety of stalls selling both sweet and savoury treats, with a tea and beauty company along the way. What did hit me was the wonderful aromas coming from the variety of food vendors. It all looked very healthy and tempting and I was spoilt for choice and for once there was more dairy and lactose free options than gluten free. Now, that never happens. So here’s a snapshot of our day.
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Our first stall that we visited was Emily Fruit Crisps, they were named after the director’s girlfriend. He was highly passionate about his brand and explained that they were made as a way of encouraging individual’s to eat fruit. They are basically a bag of dried fruit with only oil added. They are suitable for a dairy free, gluten free and a vegan diet, whilst being kosher and halal certified. We tried both the banana and apple chips. They tasted just like the fruit and had a nice soft texture with a subtle crunch noted. My mum and I both enjoyed the samples that we tried and would definitely buy these in the future. They make a great alternative snack to crisps and are a great way to get children to try fruit. They can be found at:
http://www.emilyfruitcrisps.co.uk/
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Another stop, influenced by me as I had a sweet tooth on the day was to Buttercream Dreams. It is a small company that was set up by Lauren out of her passion to have enjoyable sweet treats as part of her vegan lifestyle. She worked as a mental health nurse but gave this up to set up her new business. Lauren can be found at: Buttercream Dreams on Facebook. At the festival it was a real family affair with her mum helping out. The stall had a variety of both pretty delicate and larger cakes to purchase. All of which were vegan, and can be gluten free, soya free and sugar free. I opted for the salted caramel cake, Lauren kindly gave me a large complimentary slice to try. As I had tried various samples of food, I was pretty full so wrapped it up to take home. All I can say is that it was well worth the wait. The cake was perfect, the sponge was soft, light and moist with a neutral taste. This worked well with the rich indulgent topping of a caramel cream which was interlaced with chunks of salted caramel. It was one of the nicest cakes I have had in a long time, so thank you.
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My mum stopped by Les Deux Amies who specialise in French sweet and savoury pancakes. They had two hot plates one for gluten free and one for dairy free pancakes. My mum opted for a classic of Nutella and banana. It was massive, and she struggled to finish it. My mum loved the fact that she could have a gluten free pancake. She found the batter light and airy. She loved it’s simplicity and the variety of options to have in their pancakes. The stall was that popular that many of their ingredients had sold out. I received a sample of their caramel sauce to try at home as part of my bloggers free goodie bag. Sadly, it wasn’t dairy free. So mum took it home to share with my nephew who loves his pancakes. Les Deux Amies can be found at:
http://lesdeuxamies.co.uk/
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Due to my sweet tooth I stopped by Sticks and Cones they are a new business set up by Mark and his girlfriend. They follow a paleo diet and on a recent trip to Eastbourne were unable to find an ice cream to enjoy. So they started researching at home and experimenting with ice cream. The ice cream is based upon on the paleo lifestyle is dairy free, gluten free and suitable for vegans. It is made from coconut milk. Both my mum and I tried the caramel flavour. Now ice cream is never an issue for my mum being gluten free, but I often struggle with my dairy free diet. The ice cream was slightly rich and indulgent, it was lovely and creamy in both flavour and texture. I could definitely taste the ingredients and the combination of texture was spot on. I have to say it was one of the nicest ice creams that I have tried. So well done Sticks and Cones. Sorry, there’s no link available yet for this one.
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Next we discovered a vegan stall called Vegan Sweet Tooth London. It was run by Giancarlo which sold both sweet and savoury treats. He explained that as a chef he used to work in a vegan restaurant which closed. As a result he then set up his own business and has a stall at a variety of events. What struck me was the sheer variety of goods on offer. Having a sweet tooth I was spoilt for choice. In the end I opted for the gluten free chamomile zucchini and the peach and hibiscus cakes. You had a choice of a small or large portion, trust me the small was very substantial. I took them in a bag to take home, the zucchini could last up to 5 days. I really enjoyed both of these cakes. The zucchini had a moist sponge which interlaced with pieces of zucchini. There was a nice subtle but not overpowering flavour of chamomile. I have to say my favourite part of this cake was the cashew icing cream on the top. It was light, delicate and creamy and combined all the flavours of the cake perfectly. As for the peach and hibiscus, well the sponge was soft and moist and gooey in texture. This was topped by pieces of peach coated in a syrup. I could definitely taste the key ingredients in this cake. I personally found it a little heavy going so had in two sittings. If I saw this stall again would I buy cakes, yes definitely. What I must not forget to do is buy some savoury ones as well. Here’s the link:
http://www.giancarloroncato.co.uk/
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Our final stop of the day was to Raw Halo. This is a handmade organic artisan raw chocolate company. It was set up by Meg in May this year. Meg gave up refined sugar as a lifestyle choice but didn’t want to miss out on her life’s little luxuries including chocolate. The dark chocolate is free from refined sugar, gluten, wheat, egg and lactose. Meg explained that all of the chocolate bars are dairy free except the caramel due to its flavouring. With the exception of this bar all are accredited by the vegan society. We tried a sample of the plain chocolate. On biting into the chocolate I noted two textures, it was initially slightly dry this was followed by a nice creamier texture. Oh my goodness it was certainly rich in flavour and very indulgent definitely a chocolate for the grown ups. You could certainly taste the cacao element and would only need a little to get your chocolate fix. I would definitely buy some of Meg’s chocolate to try the other flavours as a treat to myself. Raw Halo can be found at: http://rawhalo.com/
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I recently wrote a blog post about the rapid expansion of the free from market and asked for opinions and personal experiences on this. I questioned whether people’s lifestyle choices is impacting on this market. All of those that responded to this post either had a food allergy or an intolerance or a medical condition and therefore do not purchase the products for lifestyle reasons. What I learned from this festival was that many of the individuals had set up their business because a lifestyle choice. They were all highly passionate about their personal experiences and why they had set up their business. For me personally this was a new experience because many of the brands I have tried have been developed as a result of a food allergy / intolerance or a medical condition. For me these individual lifestyles choices have benefited me and will no doubt may others. I was able to try a variety of treats that several years ago I would never have dreamed off. So for me personally, it made me rethink the lifestyle aspect of the free from market. I have tried some amazing foods from the festival, and if more safe foods are available to eat surely this can only be a positive thing.