Tag Archives: mexican food

Changes to Discovery Mexican Gluten Free Range

17 Jul

I know there are many of us in the gluten free and coeliac community that are fans of the Discovery Mexican range with their handy gluten free labelling.  Recently I noticed that Sainsbury’s had stopped stocking the excellent Discovery Taco Trays, and when I tweeted them about this I was informed that they were no longer produced.  A quick investigation via Google revealed that all the Discovery products are being re-branded as Santa Maria UK.  Santa Maria do still make a taco shell and they have confirmed to me that this is gluten free.  I’ve put in a product request to Sainsbury’s so fingers crossed (UPDATE 02/07: Taco Shells now available at Sainsbury’s Plymouth Marsh Mills!).  Thanks also to @Kazzy_P who tweeted me to say she had spotted the newly branded Taco Shells in Morrisons, and they are indeed labelled gluten free.

taco shells

Further bad news is that it seems some products that were labelled gluten free under the previous branding will no longer be labelled so.  Indeed the fajita seasoning mix that I normally buy has appeared with new Santa Maria branding in my local Sainsbury’s this week, and the gluten free claim is gone.  Santa Maria have sent me the following information with regards the changes:

Q: Why are the previously gluten free products no longer carrying the Coeliac Society logo?

A: Santa Maria follows the EU regulation. According to the EU regulation the limit for gluten free is < 20 ppm (mg/kg). Furthermore it is not allowed to mark products that normally don’t contain gluten as gluten free, like jalapeños, salsas and seasonings, due to the risk of misleading the consumers.

Further to this, there is also the following information that they’ve posted on their Facebook page:

Of the products which do not carry the coeliac society gluten-free icon the following applies:

1. Jalapenos – these do not & are not expected to contain gluten – all tested < 10ppm
2. Tortillas – these all contain gluten & Wheat is highlighted as an allergen in the ingredients declaration
3. Seasonings – these are manufactured in Sweden & so under tighter Swedish legislation which requires a zero gluten content guarantee, which Santa Maria feel unable to make but all tested < 10ppm
4. Corn tortilla chips – manufactured in Sweden – but all tested < 10ppm
5. Taco shells – these are manufactured in Belgium so carry icon
6. Salsas – all carry icon where < 10ppm

So it seems that some of the products are tested to be gluten free, yet are not being labelled so due to the fact “it is not allowed to mark products that normally don’t contain gluten as gluten free”.  In my opinion this certainly would not apply to seasonings and salsa, clearly there are many spice mixes and sauces around which contain gluten.  This was queried with Coeliac UK via Twitter and they gave the following response:

The Crossed Grain symbol can only be used on processed products with multiple ingredients. Naturally GF unprocessed products can’t be certified. Some of the Santa Maria products are naturally GF and unprocessed in nature (eg jalapeños) so we can’t certify these. Any products we can certify (eg salsa, spice mixes) have been certified.

So it seems Coeliac UK agree with my opinion, and @David_Navigator was quick to point out, the jalapeños contain pickling ingredients and so are actually processed in any case.  At this point Coeliac UK agreed to follow up with Santa Maria UK directly, so thanks to them for their help with this.

The Santa Maria customer service rep I’ve been speaking to has told me they have been inundated with queries about this, and suggested that the more people who get in contact then the more likely it is that the gluten free labelling will be restored.  If you’ve been affected by this change then please get the message over to Santa Maria either by Facebook or email at feedback@santamariaworld.co.uk.  A big thank you to Naomi at Santa Maria who has been extremely helpful so far, and even went off and found my Seabrook blog post and has used this to give feedback to a higher level on why gluten free labelling is so important to us.  I emphasised that if a product used to be labelled gluten free and is no longer then we lose trust even if there is no actual change to the product itself.  Naomi has confirmed that Coeliac UK have been in touch and is hopeful the GF labelling can be restored soon.

In the meantime Naomi has been kind enough to send me this list showing which products were labelled gluten free as Discovery Foods (DF), and which ones are labelled gluten free under Santa Maria (SM) branding.  So overall disappointing news, but so far great customer service and lets hope the gluten free labelling is soon restored to all applicable products and they can go back to being one of my GF hidden treasures.  I should also point out that there are a good number of products still certified gluten free, and well done to Santa Maria on that.  This appears to be confusion over labelling rules than anything more sinister.  Anyway, wish me luck in tracking down some taco shells, and hopefully we’ll soon be toasting a Seabrook style victory with tacos made with some certified gluten free taco spice and Abby’s refried beans.  I’ll be sure to update this post as and when I receive further responses.

Kevin, Gluten Free by the Sea



Eating Out Gluten Free in London

13 May

Last month myself and my wife, Abby, made a trip up to London to show my father-in-law the sites as he made his first trip over to the UK.  I hadn’t really planned on blogging about my eating out experiences, but on reflection my previous London post is starting to get a little out of date.  So here is a brief mention for some of the eating out experiences we had on our most recent visit, along with a few suggestions from the past that are still very much relevant.

honest burgerHonest Burger: In my days before coeliac diagnosis I always loved a burger, but it wasn’t until I visited Honest Burger in London a few years ago that I was finally able to enjoy a burger in a gluten free bun for the first time.  These burgers are simply sensational, served nicely pink unless you ask for it otherwise, along with amazing rosemary salted fries.  Whenever I am in London this is the first place I visit, and I am never disappointed. Gluten free beer and onion rings are also served.  On this visit we took a trip to the Kings Cross branch, which is quite a bit larger than some of the original venues and so has reduced waiting times: http://www.honestburgers.co.uk/

MestizoMestizo: Being married to an American means that Mexican is a regular in our household.  Mexican options in Plymouth are thin on the ground so we are always excited to make the most of London’s increased options.  We’ve now visited Mestizo a couple of times and the food has been excellent on both occasions.  The restaurant offers a separate gluten and wheat free menu, not to mention Europe’s largest tequila bar.  I can heartily recommend the Enchiladas Cancun, really delicious!  Abby loves this place as it is also home to the elusive vegetarian mole sauce: http://london.mestizomx.com/

wahacaWahaca: Another Mexican restaurant, which also offers a gluten free menu.  The food here is billed as “street food” and in that respect the style of food is different to Mestizo, but just as tasty and we love Wahaca too!  Be aware that some of the items on the gluten free menu are cooked in fryers with other gluten free items and so are not suitable for coeliacs.  These items are marked as such on the gluten free menu, and there are plenty of other options such as tasty taquitos.  The food is very good value and it has been known for us to spend more on margaritas on a few (every) occasion we have been there: http://www.wahaca.co.uk/

vozarsVozars: This is a completely gluten free restaurant based on the site of the former WAGFree bakery in Brixton.  The restaurant is inspired by the gluten free Celia lager and this is available in abundance!  The food here was fantastic and I can’t speak highly enough about my meal.  I demolished a venison burger, served with chunky wedges and garlic mayo.  Everything had so much flavour that I can still taste it now!  I will definitely be going back here on our next visit to London.  Desserts are provided by WAGFree so plenty of choice in this respect too: http://vozars.co.uk/ UPDATE: Sadly Vozars has now closed

Otto Pizza: Obviously gluten free pizza isn’t as hard to come by as it once was, but Otto Pizza was the first place I managed to eat gluten free pizza out after being diagnosed.   This is a very different kind of pizza experience to the norm though, with Otto serving a deep dish cornmeal crust pizza that I’ve not seen anywhere else in the UK.  Indeed my wife rates this as the best pizza she’s tried in this country.  The gluten free pizzas are very good and there are some great topping choices.  There’s also Celia Lager served to wash it down: http://www.ottopizza.co.uk/ UPDATE: Sadly Otto has now closed

leonLeon: Leon is always a great place to grab a quick gluten free lunch or breakfast when out and about in London.  There are numerous branches spread across the capital that give the chance to grab some healthier fast food with plenty of gluten free choices.  There’s also some very tasty baked fries and cakes available so no need to be too healthy!  The still lemonade is also delicious: http://leonrestaurants.co.uk/

Pod: Another quick and easy fast food choice with gluten free options.  There are lots of Pods to eat in around London, and it is worth noting that they sell bacon sandwiches on Genius gluten free bread which is why I quite often stop in for breakfast: http://www.podfood.co.uk/

Rossopomodoro: I’d heard good things about the pizza at Rossopomodro so we visited last time we were up in London.  However, I did not heed the warning to call ahead and make sure they have gluten free dough in and they were out.  You can read a review of the GF pizza from @itsgottobegf here.  Other GF choices were limited but the staff were helpful and I did have grilled chicken and Mediterranean vegetables in a balsamic dressing which was very nice: http://rossopomodoro.co.uk/nogluten/

Namaaste Kitchen: I’m very much a fan of Indian food, so when I was told award winning Indian restaurant Namaaste Kitchen had a separate gluten free menu I was keen to visit.  I went for the tandoori chicken which was absolutely delicious.  The only downside was the lack of cider served in the restaurant: http://www.namaastekitchen.co.uk/

A few others that I’ve yet to try but have been recommended to me more than once, so I’m adding them here so I don’t forget them:

Elliot’s Café: http://www.elliotscafe.com/

Dishoom: www.dishoom.com

Nopi: http://www.ottolenghi.co.uk/locations

Kevin, Gluten Free by the Sea

Black Bean Mexican Chilli

31 Dec

Guest post by @anaturalstate

I’m from the American South where Mexican is a staple of everyone’s diet and, as you may have suspected, Mexican food is big in our house here in Plymouth (see earlier blog posts about Wahaca and homemade refried beans). Cooking Mexican food at home is easy, healthy, cheap, and delicious – and almost all dishes can be simply converted to a gluten free version. This recipe for black bean Mexican chilli is naturally gluten free and is also one of my faves – it serves four, but can be easily halved or double (healthy GF lunches!). Once made, the chilli is freezable too. All of the below ingredients can be found at Sainsbury’s. You will need:


Olive oil

4 garlic cloves (chopped or crushed)

2 large onions (chopped) – I prefer red onions

3 tbsp sweet pimenton (Spanish paprika, or smoked paprika) or mild chilli powder

1 tbsp ground cumin

1 tbsp ground cinnamon

3 tbsp lime juice

3 tbsp cider vinegar

2 tbsp brown sugar

2 cans chopped tomatoes

2 cans (or boxes) black beans, drained

In a large pot, heat a bit of olive oil and fry the onions and garlic until the onions have turned translucent (about 5 minutes). Add the pimenton, cinnamon and cumin, and cook for a few minutes, being careful not to burn the spices. The spices are ready when they start to smell fragrant. Add the vinegar, sugar, lime, tomatoes and beans and cook for 20 – 30 minutes, stirring once in a while. Serve up with jacket potatoes, potato wedges, and/or cheddar, feta or queso fresco cheese, use the chilli to stuff tacos, or even just eat it on its own. ¡Delicioso!


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