Tag Archives: product review

Udi’s Gluten Free

17 Dec

Udi’s have recently crossed the pond and brought a range of gluten free products to the UK market.  Udi’s are a big player in the States and some of their products are even available to buy at Baseball stadiums.  As a football fan I can only dream of seeing gluten free options within stadiums at the moment.  So what can Udi’s bring to the table in the UK?  Well there are certainly some products that have not been previously seen in gluten free form in the UK before, or at least not readily available.  These products include bagels and a version of pop tarts which seem to be proving popular with the gluten free community.

UdisGF_Shield Logo

I was lucky enough to receive a sample pack for review which included cinnamon and raison bagels, mince pies, muffins, toaster pastries and ancient grain jalapeño cheddar crisps.  I had also bought some products myself, when they became available to buy nationally in Tesco.  Below I have a look at the products and what I thought of them.

Toaster Pastries - Strawberry_smallToaster pastries: Otherwise known as pop tarts, these were something definitely missing from the UK market.  These are available in two flavours; strawberry and apple cinnamon.  These items have proved very popular amongst coeliacs and the gluten free community, with many people delighted to be able to have a “pop tart” again after so many years.  I thought they were pretty good, the filling tasty but for me there was a bit too much pastry for the filling.  It’s worth saying I wasn’t a pop tart fan in my pre-coeliac days.

Bagels: Another American favourite which has been missing from the breakfast tables of UK gluten free folk.  As I don’t like raisins I passed the cinnamon and raison bagels to a gluten eating friend who gave them the thumbs up.  I have however tried the plain variety.  Firstly I tried them toasted and simply buttered, which I liked far more than I expected.  I’d never had a regular bagel before my coeliac diagnosis so wasn’t that bothered by them.  I also had them toasted and covered in salsa and Mexicana Cheese, after a suggestion from Kim of Coeliac.me.uk.  This proved to be a fabulous combo which I’d definitely have again.  The bagels are also available in a savoury flavour.

Mexicana Bagels

Muffins: The muffins come in a pack of two, one chocolate chip and one toffee.  I love muffins and these had both great texture and good flavour.  I also quite like the idea of getting two varieties in one pack.  They do contain a lot of ingredients and I’d probably be inclined to buy something locally produced if available.  Having said that I’d happily eat them again.

Beauty Shot_Ancient Grain CrispsAncient grain crisps: I am a total crisp fiend and the jalapeño cheddar snacks definitely get a big thumbs up from me, and some gluten eaters I shared them with.  I love anything spicy ans these certainly had a bit of a kick.  Texturally these were really unusual.  My best description would be a multi seeded tortilla chip, and I thought it worked really well.  I ate them as they were, but they’d also work well with a salsa or sour cream dip.  They are available in cheddar flavour if spicy isn’t your thing.

Breakfast bars: These bars come in both strawberry and blueberry flavour and make a perfect on the go breakfast.  They are very much like the Nutri Grain bars I used to enjoy as a gluten eater.  They are soft and chewy and have a tasty filling.  I recently took a box away with me whilst I was working away in Cambridge, and these really helped me through some tricky  breakfast situations.

Mince PieMince pies: Unfortunately I am not a mince pie fan at all, so these also went to my gluten eating friend Adam, who said they were really good.  For another viewpoint see this positive review on the glutenfreeb website.

Other products which I’ve yet to try include bread and rolls.  I’m happy to see they have a gluten free finger roll which is something I always cry out for come BBQ season!  The final products amongst the UK portfolio are bagel chips and granola.  I always prefer to buy local if it all possible, but I think Udi’s have definitely brought something different to the UK and will have given the likes of Genius and Newburn Bakehouse something to ponder.  Like most gluten free products they are not the cheapest, but there are a few things here that I will likely buy again if I find myself in Tesco.  So what have you made of these new products?

Kevin, Gluten Free by the Sea

Perkier Foods Rocky Road and Tiffin

12 Dec

Well most bloggers will try and claim their complete impartiality when reviewing products.  I am going to start this post by declaring my complete bias for this company, Perkier Foods.  I just completely love everything about them, apart from one small thing that I will cover later.  The company was founded by coeliac Ann Perkins and partner Steve Turner, who have been producing fabulous gluten free products since 2012.

feeling-perkyI first got to hear about Perkier following my first visit to the Allergy and Free From Show in London.  I’d somehow managed to miss them at the show, but kept hearing good things about them on Twitter.  I subsequently had the chance to meet owners Ann and Steve at a couple of the “Tweet-Ups” I went to in London.  They are such a lovely couple and always so generous!

I subsequently ordered delicious brownie, cake pops and rocky road off them whilst they were doing limited orders via email.  The products were great, but the only trouble was that living all the way down in Plymouth and the goodies were not easy to get hold of!  I made trips to Whole Foods to stock up on Perkier goodies on my next few trips to London.

BeFunky_PERKIER-HI-RES-POSTER-01

But it’s not just the products that suck you in.  Perkier have such fantastic, colourful and distinctive branding too.  The other thing I love about Perkier is the way they engage on social media.  These guys really are part of our gluten free community, and over the last couple of years I have shared much (too much?!) banter on Twitter and Facebook with them, and a few other Tweeters (you all know who you are!).  They are always running fun competitions, and they are just such a fun company.

flakesThis year has been a real breakthrough year for Perkier.  Earlier in the year Tesco began to stock their range of porridge and cereal flakes across the country.  Whilst not a porridge fan, I was really delighted and maybe even a little proud that these guys had hit the big time.  I was also pleased that fellow Perkier fan David was able to review the porridge on Gluten Free by the Sea at the time.  The porridge pots have also recently arrived in Sainbury’s.  I have tried the fruity berry flakes and they are really good.

Thquotee real breakthrough for me though was recently when Tesco started stocking Perkier Tiffin, and most importantly my favourite Rocky Road!  The Rocky Road is crunchy biscuit and soft marshmallows enveloped in milk chocolate.  I just absolutely love this stuff, I could eat it not stop to be honest.  The contrast of the crunchy biscuit with the chewy marshmallow works really well for me, and the chocolate that glues it all together is delicious too.  There’s a statement on the pack from one of the “Guinea Pig Network” that says “Amazing! You don’t need to be gluten free to love these” which perfectly sums up my feelings, largely as it’s my quote.  Yes I love this stuff so much I even have a quote on the pack!

As for the Tiffin, this is also delicious.  This consists of crunchy biscuit, honeycomb and raisins covered in milk chocolate.  This one is a bit of a conflict for me as I love honeycomb but hate raisins!  The highest praise that I can give the Tiffin is that it is the ONLY thing in the entire world that I will eat that contains raisins.  Oh yes, that one small thing I don’t love about Perkier? The raisin fairies at the Yummery.  Raisins in the Tiffin, raisins in all the porridge and raisins in the fruit flake.  Maybe next year Ann and Steve might consider swatting some of those raisin fairies for me 😉  Both Rocky Road and Tiffin are available in pots of bite size chunks or individual bars.

rroad_tiffin

I’d like to finish with a personal thank you to Ann and Steve.  They’ve provided great support to Gluten Free by the Sea through social media and their website and more than a few free samples over the year.  They also provided an absolute massive mound of free samples for our recent Coeliac UK Plymouth meeting and I can’t tell you how grateful I was for that.  I hope you both have a fabulous Christmas and an even more successful 2014.

Samples

If you don’t have a Tesco near you, you can visit the Perkier on-line shop.  The products are also available to buy on-line via Amazon, Ocado and Goodness Direct.  If you buy some though, just beware of the #snafflers.

mugs

Kevin, Gluten Free by the Sea

ilumi Review

28 Jul

I must admit I don’t really like to review national brands on this blog.  I generally think there are plenty of others out there that are doing a fine job at it, and try and keep Gluten Free by the Sea locally focused in the main.  There have been a lot of reviews of the ilumi World products within the gluten free blogging network recently, so I nearly didn’t write this post.  Nearly.  But then I looked at my kitchen cupboard which can barely close as it is now stuffed so full with ilumi goodies and I felt how could I not write about them?

keralaI first heard of ilumi and their gluten, dairy and nut free products through the Coeliac UK Crossed Grain Magazine, where members were invited to register for a free sample.  Well I love curry so I wasn’t going to say no to a free one!  My sample of Kerala Chicken Curry duly arrived, and before trying it there were mixed first impressions.  A product containing meat that comes in a pouch, doesn’t need to be refrigerated, can be microwaved in two minutes and has a shelf life of a year.  It’s fair to say I was skeptical.  On the plus side though I really liked the product branding and the fact the ingredients list was there big and bold on the front as clear as it could be.  I quickly noted that the ingredients list was all natural with no weird nasties in.

So on to the taste test.  I heated my curry up in the microware, and served with my favourite microware Tilda rice (also labelled gluten free).  I have to say I was really impressed.  The thing that stood out for me was the tenderness of the chicken.  Reading the ilumi FAQ page it’s good to see that all meat used is British, with the exception being pancetta which is sourced from it’s native Italy.  The chicken used is also free range.  Regarding my concern of lack over refrigeration, ilumi have this to say “We combine the recipe ingredients in individual pouches or trays, seal them and then gently heat them using high pressure and steam until they are cooked. This keeps all of the flavours, aromas and goodness inside and protects them from any contamination by spoilage bacteria.”  The Kerala sauce was tasty rather than spicy, it was really nice, though from a personal point of view a bit more spice wouldn’t have done any harm.

samplesA further free sample came at the Allergy Show in the form of delicious Spanish Rice and Vegetables and I was then fortunate enough to be offered some blogger samples.  The samples were all of equally great quality and my initial skepticism was now long gone.  Being more or less flat and without the need to refrigerate the pouches are really easy to store.  Then the offers started, my addiction had begun.  The fine folk at ilmui were offering an introductory offer of £10 off a £20 order with free shipping last month.  I ended up ordering twice.

cupboardStill at least that would see me stocked up for ages wouldn’t it, I wouldn’t have to order for a long time?  They then ran another offer.  Two free packs of Thai Red Curry, two packs of rice and two bottles of (my favourite) Celia Lager when you spend over £25?  OK just one more order then.  That’s how my cupboards got to look like this.

For those of you after an offer yourselves, their current offer (until 30th July) is: Spend £20, get £5 off, plus: 2x free cooking sauces, 1x free CELIA Lager, free summer recipe booklet & free UK delivery.  My cupboards simply can’t take anymore though!  You can see a full list of products, which are only available online, here.

So far I’ve tried a whole range of products, and I would probably bore you all to death by reviewing each one, so here are a few of my top picks:

meatballsBeef Meatballs in Tomato Sauce: One thing I’ve really struggled to easily find since being diagnosed with coeliac disease is meatballs.  I served these with some gluten free spaghetti and topped with freshly grated Parmesan cheese and freshly ground black pepper.  Delicious!

Slow-Cooked Lamb Casserole: As well as the pouches, ilumi also have a range of complete meals that come in a tray.  This lamb casserole was really tasty.  I love the way the juices of the meat are retained in the tray/pouch due to the cooking method, I really think it keeps all the flavour in.  Lamb is one of my favourite meats and this was a very hearty meal with the potatoes and veg.

casserole_packagelamb_casserole

Lamb Rogan Josh: As I say I love a curry and this one was even tastier than the Chicken Kerala for me.  Again not too spicy but great flavour and lovely tender meat as before.  Serve with rice and a great meal in a couple of minutes.

Pea, Pancetta & Mint Soup: ilumi also do a range of soups and I’ve always been a fan of pea and ham soup so this one immediately appealed.  I wasn’t disappointed, as this had a great depth of flavour and lovely tender pieces of pancetta.  I served with a few slices of crusty bread that I got from St Maurice Bakery which was a perfect accompanyment.

chicken_CacciatoraChicken Cacciatora: Another flavourful dish with juicy tender pieces of meat.  A hit with me again and this dish had a nice hint of garlic which is always good with me.  I served with rice.

In addition to the meal pouches, soups and trays meals ilumi also sell cooking sauces and rice packs.  I’ve tried a few of the cooking sauces and whist they’ve been tasty, I think this is something I’m less likely to buy online.  The rice packs were perfectly fine but I must admit I preferred the Tilda ones as they were a bit more flavourful and a little bigger.  Tilda are also frequently on offer at my local Sainsburys so I often stock up when they are.

Sweet Chilli Stir Fry Sauce put to good use

Sweet Chilli Stir Fry Sauce put to good use

Tom Kha Gai (Thai Chicken Soup)

Tom Kha Gai (Thai Chicken Soup)

In conclusion, I think that ilumi is a great addition to the free from market.  I think pricing is pretty reasonable based on the quality of the product, and if you take advantage of the stream of offers they have been running then they become very good value indeed.  The products use naturally gluten free ingredients so no need for any weird and wonderful ingredients, but with a confidence that all dishes are gluten, dairy and nut free.  With no need to refrigerate these can be great for taking to friends houses, away on holiday or to work for a nice hot lunch come the winter.  Also a great quick option when you’re cooking for one as I often am.

Thai Red Curry served with Tilda sweet chilli rice

Thai Red Curry served with Tilda sweet chilli rice

Will see fellow addicts at an ilumi anonymous meeting soon.

Kevin, Gluten Free by the Sea

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