Browse Tag by Food restrictions and eating out
Reviews

Catering for multiple food intolerances and allergies at Wagamama

Restaurants should look to Wagamama as an example of how to cater properly for those with multiple food intolerances or allergies.

Yes I know, I know, I moan a lot about how difficult it is to eat out when you have multiple food intolerances or allergies, but I’ll keep on moaning until the message gets through. And it seems that some people might actually be listening, well the manager at Wagamama Canterbury, at least. He contacted me to invite me over:

‘We’d like to show you how well we cater for people with food allergies and intolerances,’ he said.

I liked them already. With a confidence that what they’re doing is a positive thing, they were keen to prove to me that not all food service operations are equal in their approach.

‘I’m in,’ I said, given that I don’t go to Wagamamas, so had no idea what they offer.

As I avoid nightshades (tomatoes, peppers, aubergines, potatoes) and no longer eat dairy, I wondered how I would get on. My friend who came with me doesn’t eat gluten, so between us, I expected we were going to be a challenge. Not so for manager Lloyd, who sat down with us and went through the entire menu.

Wagamama, like most restaurants, has a complete breakdown of every dish offered. They have one version for the customers and another, more detailed version for the management. There were several positives I’d like to point out that make Wagamama stand out against other restaurants:

  • The manager is the only person who takes with and deals with your order.

Lloyd, as I said, went through everything with us, perhaps in more detail than he might if we hadn’t have been there for this specific purpose. Either way, nothing was a problem and the reason for this is Wagamama’s flexibility when it comes to their dishes. There are several alternative options to their menu items, which means if you can’t eat one of the ingredients (for example, noodles in the Ramen because they contain gluten), they will swap them for something else (in this example, rice noodles).

A 'Free-From' Life
Image courtesy of Wagamama

It’s not enough to give a customer an allergen menu and expect that it’s enough.

My pet hate about eating out is that restaurants give you an enormous allergen menu detailing all their dishes and once you go through it, you find you can’t actually eat anything. Thankfully, Wagamama’s recognise this and make every effort to be flexible with their dishes.

  • The manager marks your place with your specific food avoidance item(s), so there is no mix up when it’s brought to the table.

This is another positive, because even though the manager is the only one dealing with the order, it’s still important, if not life-saving for some, to make sure the right order is given to the right person. With serious allergies, you can’t afford to mess this up.

  • They have a separate gluten free menu.

This is in addition to the full allergen menu and includes dishes that are specifically gluten free. Lloyd checked to make sure what we wanted to order was also dairy free, again this double, triple checking of everything shows how seriously they take things and also the level of training the staff have received.

A 'Free-From' Life
Image courtesy of Wagamama
  • The food is prepared in a dedicated area with a dedicated chef.

This I was very impressed with. You can see the food preparation area at Wagamama, as it’s completely open and with one specific area kept for preparing special orders, it’s reassuring. Lloyd explained we were likely to get our food in waves rather than all at once. This is because each order is prepared separately, with the surfaces being thoroughly wiped down between each one. Again, this shows a deep level of understanding and commitment to customer safety.

My overall impression of Wagamama was extremely positive and I would be happy to recommend it to anyone with multiple food intolerances or allergies. You feel looked after there and equally as important, are never made to feel as though you’re being awkward (we’ve all been there with this haven’t we?). We’re not a generation of overly paranoid individuals, we’re more educated about the food we eat and realise how ill it can make us. Perhaps in the past we just got on with it, ignoring the stomach pains and associated problems, but not anymore and it’s not just gluten that we’re avoiding.

Food service providers, if you’re listening, take a tip from Wagamama’s and wake up to what your customers need.

My one request, as I finish this review, is can you get more creative with some dairy free desserts? If there’s one thing anyone dairy free really misses out on, it’s this.

Uncategorised

Dairy free diaries

Dairy Intolerance - what you need to know - A Free From Life
Image courtesy of tiverlucky at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

My son is dairy and wheat intolerant and although I make most things to suit him, I don’t always avoid these items in my own diet.

Having suffered long-term with IBS, I’ve found my own symptoms are worsened by nightshades (potatoes, tomatoes, peppers and aubergines, mainly). Avoiding these foods definitely helps keep my stomach from tying in knots and my skin breaking out in hives, but one thing it hasn’t helped with is my skin.

I haven’t talked about my skin problems on this blog before, but it’s time to finally ‘come out’!

Although I suffered with bad skin as a teen, it cleared when I started taking the pill. When I came off the pill, I went on to have three children, and during this time my skin was clear, which I think was mainly down to the hormones swimming around my system during that time.

It was after having my third child that things began to unravel. A year after having him, I sought help because my IBS was at its worst and my skin was terrible.

Having taken measures to help with both of these problems, I’ve since changed my diet to get the IBS under control and the products I use do a good job of controlling my skin – mostly.

The area I can’t seem to do anything about is my chin.

I’ve looked into it (thanks Google), and found the cause of outbreaks in this area is hormonal related and common amongst women of 30+. Great. Even better news, it’s a recognised form of acne. Wonderful.

So it seems unless I go back on the pill (not going to happen) or take some form of hormone regulating medication (I’m in my early forties, so I’m not going there yet), there isn’t a lot I can do. Or is there?

Some suggestions indicate poor digestion as a possible contributor to these forms of outbreaks (that’ll be me then), with a link to dairy. So it leaves me with little choice but to give this option a try.

I’m reaching the end of week one of my dairy free trial. I tried to kid myself that I didn’t each that much dairy in the first place, but I’ve found the difficulties arise when you go out.

What has changed this week?

  • I went to Costa (once), for a takeaway and had a soya milk cappuccino (wasn’t too bad). Didn’t choose anything to eat because the choice is limited to dried fruit, nuts or some mini cherry bakewells (too sweet for me).
  • I took my eldest daughter plus friends to the local trampoline park on Saturday and it was over lunchtime. Again I had a coffee with soya milk, but there wasn’t anything I could eat except crisps (and I don’t do potatoes do I?) By the time we left and called into town on the way home, I was starving and ended up getting a slice of banana bread from the local gluten free cafe (it was one of three choices that were both gluten and dairy free).
  • Today, I was out shopping with my middle daughter, whilst my eldest and her friends went to the cinema (this, and the trampolining, were because of her birthday, not that I take her to stuff and don’t do anything with the other two – just in case you were wondering). I needed caffeine (as you do when you’ve had three teenagers for a sleepover), so we dropped in to M and S.

Although there were a few choices of gluten free cakes, there wasn’t anything dairy free. Even if I’d opted to forego the gluten free, the choice didn’t improve because all the sandwiches included dairy. I ended up with a gluten free bread bun, spread with margarine and you guessed it, a coffee with soya milk.

I will say one thing for this week, I have definitely eaten less and avoiding dairy has meant not giving into the sugar cravings. I can also appreciate, more than ever, what my son has to live with on a daily basis and it’s the reason why I always take snacks for him wherever we go.

As for the skin (the reason for doing this) I can’t say I’ve seen any improvement yet, although it’s early days and I wouldn’t expect to. The test will be to see how it fairs over a complete cycle because after all, it’s the hormones at work here, and diet may not be the contributing factor.

I’m off to make a peach cobbler now. It’s a simple recipe and will be both gluten and dairy free, plus low sugar. It is Sunday after all, and with the log fire burning away, some comfort food feels like the perfect end to the week.

Health

Do children’s menus need to be so gluten and dairy heavy?

Do children's menus need to be so gluten and dairy heavy? - A Free From Life

Do children's menus need to be so gluten and dairy heavy? - A Free From Life

I took two of my children out for dinner on Friday for a treat. Husband and eldest daughter were both out, so we thought, why not?

It’s hard to eat out though, if you’re intolerant to dairy and wheat.

Whilst I can’t fault the management of the restaurant we went to – he was more than happy to sort something out for my son to eat – there wasn’t a single thing on the children’s menu that he could have.

Giving a customer an allergens menu isn’t enough.

All it told me was there was very little on the entire menu that didn’t contain both gluten and dairy.

What I don’t understand is, should it be so difficult to put together a menu that doesn’t contain these things? Do all children’s menus have to be so gluten and dairy heavy?

Here are the items on the children’s menu:
Fish fingers, Cumberland sausage, chicken burger, barbeque ribs and macaroni with cheese sauce or tomato and basil sauce.

According to the allergens menu, all these items contain gluten and dairy, which to me doesn’t make sense. I look at this menu and think how easy it would be to provide gluten free pasta with a tomato sauce, plain chicken fillet and source gluten free sausages. There should also be an alternative to fries (coated in wheat) and mashed potato.

What did my son eat?

Well, given that his choice was either burger without the bun or a chicken skewer, he went for the chicken. Not being a fan of mashed potato, they said would he like baked beans and some salad and that was it, the extent of his choice.

IT’S JUST NOT GOOD ENOUGH.

As someone who regularly makes meals and bakes gluten and dairy free, I know it can be done and I also know it doesn’t even have to be difficult.

Why does everything have to be coated in breadcrumbs? Even the fries have wheat on them and they are potatoes!

A piece of grilled chicken or salmon is just as popular with children as chicken nuggets are, aren’t they? Well, they are with mine anyway.

Some steamed vegetables and boiled potatoes to go with it? Not difficult at all. And how difficult would it be to keep some gluten free pasta in stock?

I seriously get fed up of being given an allergens menu as if a restaurant is doing me a favour, when all they’re actually doing is ticking a box and depressing the hell out of me because the choice is so limited.

Gluten free may be a popular choice for many now, but what restaurant owners need to wake up to is that many who are gluten intolerant are also dairy intolerant too and many of these are children.

Our children don’t need deep fried breaded food. Good quality, relatively plain dinners are a much better choice and I’m sure most parents would agree.

Yes, this is a rant of a post today, but I’ll say it now and I will keep saying it until hopefully we see some changes.

Reviews, Travelling with 5

Family time in Sorrento – culture, dining gluten and dairy free and enjoying swings in a cafe!

Family holiday to Sorrento - A Free From Life

Our latest trip with the children took us to Italy, to Sorrento on the beautiful Amalfi coast. Having been there as a couple, many moons ago, we wanted the kids to experience the rich history of the area. They are now at an age where they appreciate a bit of culture and we’ve been taking full advantage of that.

There is a lot to see in this particular area of Italy though and if you do go there with young children, you really have to pick and choose what you want to visit. They can only cope with so much sight seeing and you don’t want to put them off for future trips!

We chose Pompeii and it’s a big site that will take you a whole day to get around. I would advise going on a cooler day, as it’s hard work in the heat. We didn’t even see all of it when we went, but just standing in the main piazza in the shadow of Vesuvius, you really do have a sense of the magnitude of destruction that occurred that day in AD79. The difference between Pompeii and Herculaneum, another excavation site that is closer to Vesuvius, is that Pompeii was covered by ash and Herculaneum by volcanic mud. Only a small site has been excavated at Herculaneum due to the new town being built right on top of it, but what has been uncovered was much better preserved.

Pompeii - A Free From Life
Rare shot of the five of us, sunglasses and all!

My six year old son was fascinated that a volcano could erupt and completely destroy a city in such a short space of time. In fact, he wouldn’t stop asking questions about earthquakes and eruptions for the rest of the holiday. I think he was a bit worried that it might happen again whilst we were there and he was happy to be reassured that across the bay in Sorrento, we would be safe.

My other daughter, the eight year old, was fascinated with Vesuvius for a different reason and wanted to make the trip to see the crater. Needless to say, my son didn’t want to go anywhere near it and neither did my eldest daughter, so my husband took her.
Family holiday in Sorrento - A Free From Life

 

We stayed behind and went to a coffee shop, overlooking the bay and the mountain. We wondered whether the other two members of our family would actually get to see anything at the top of the volcano because it seemed to be shrouded in mist the whole day, apparently they did.

 

Family trip to Sorrento - A Free From Life

Getting around

We rarely take organised tours when we go on holiday, particularly in Italy because we have visited so many times now and know the way things work over there. Train travel is really easy and cheap too. The train from Sorrento to Pompeii Escavi takes around 30 minutes and the entrance to the historical site is a two minute walk. Going one more stop on the line to Ercolano (Herculaneum), you can visit the excavation site there, or you can catch a bus from the station that takes you up Vesuvius. Please note, you can only go so far by bus and the rest is on foot. It’s steep and takes around twenty minutes to get to the crater. Whenever you travel by train in Italy, you must also remember to validate your ticket before you board. This means getting it stamped by one of the machines in the station, with the day’s date.

Accommodation

There are many hotels and apartments in Sorrento, but as usual, when looking for something that would suit the five of us, it wasn’t so easy. We opted for an apartment at Villa Terrazza, which gave us three bedrooms, large living and dining area and kitchen. The Villa is beautiful and you can’t get any nearer to the sea. It’s also a five minute walk to the main square and all the shops and restaurants. The only thing I would say about our apartment is that it could do with a bit of freshening up. It’s a bit dated and being on the lower floor (we had the Paradise Suite), it often smelt musty.

Family holiday in Sorrento - A Free From Life

Eating out

I went with a list of restaurants I’d looked up on Trip Advisor that accommodate for gluten free diners, but I needn’t have bothered. Every place we went to seemed to be aware and could provide something to suit our needs. Unless you are particularly looking for gluten free pizza or pasta, you can find something suitable for a gluten and dairy free diet on the extensive menus. Choose from antipasti including bresaola (dried beef) and rocket, seafood and grilled fish, steaks or chicken. Potatoes are always roasted in oil and it’s not common practice to add butter to the vegetables. If you tell them your needs, staff are educated and understanding. My son was well looked after the whole time we were away. My top picks are:

Ristorante La Lanterna

This was our favourite restaurant and we ate here several times. They offered gluten free pasta, but not pizza, however, they would adapt any dish to make sure if included or excluded what you can or can’t eat.

L’Osteria del Buonconvento

This restaurant has an extensive menu and they also offered gluten free pasta. It’s housed in a old church, which makes for a beautiful interior to enjoy your meal.

Gluten and dairy free dining in Sorrento - A Free From Life

Bar Syrenuse

Right in the main square, this place can get busy, but as we were there late in the season, we had no problem getting in. Although we didn’t eat here for dinner, we enjoyed a couple of breakfasts, including scrambled eggs (made without milk), bacon and gluten free rolls.

You can’t go to Italy without sampling the ice cream and the Gelataria’s over there are like works of art. I was so impressed that we found two places that catered for both gluten and dairy free customers. In addition to the usual fruit sorbets, both offered a chocolate sorbet that was amazing (and I don’t even like ice cream!). It’s made by melting dark chocolate, mixing with some sugar and water and then churning in the same way you would any other ice cream.

Gluten and dairy free dining in Sorrento - A Free From Life

Gelataria Zini is located just off one of the narrow shop lined streets and is a great place to call in for refreshments if you needing a pick me up after all that shopping. There are a couple of tables in there too, if you want to hang around for coffee.

Gluten and dairy free dining in Sorrento - A Free From Life

Puro is a cafe with a difference. Not only can you choose from an extensive range of ice creams, they also do savoury food, hot drinks and alcohol. The difference I just mentioned is this addition to the cafe:

Gluten and Dairy free dining in Sorrento - A Free From Life

Yes, swings, really. I love that they have these, even though they take up space that could be given to two or maybe three more tables.

The Amalfi coast is rocky and steep but there are a few beaches and the water is shallow and clear and there is a handy lift you can use to get down to the shoreline from the town.

Family holiday in Sorrento - A Free From Life

The port operates a busy timetable of boats running to and from the island of Capri and also to Naples. In peak season, you can also catch a boat to the other towns along the coast line. We took the children to Capri but they didn’t enjoy it. It’s a pretty place but they found it boring. You can’t win ’em all though can you? Like I said, these types of holidays are what my husband and I used to enjoy before we had the children. Now we’re trying to introduce them to the children, but taking into consideration what might interest them, not just what we want to see. If we’re going to continue taking these kinds of trips, we have to cater for all of us, otherwise they would be no fun for anyone and that defeats the object completely.

As for our next trip, we’re not sure yet. Perhaps you could give me some ideas?

My Travel Monkey
Reviews

Should food service workers receive basic food allergy and intolerance training?

Should food service workers be given basic food allergy and intolerance training? - A Free From Life
Image by Vlado, courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I say this time and again, but it’s so frustrating when you go out to eat and you’re trying to find somewhere that caters for your dietary needs. I’ve had some great experiences at restaurants and some terrible ones. I’ve come across staff who are completely clued up about food allergy and intolerance needs and others that have no idea whatsoever. For instance, I once asked if something was dairy free and had the response ‘is that the same as gluten free?’

What is it like to be dairy and gluten intolerant - Nikki Young Writes

It’s tear your hair out time, fuelled with anxiety whenever we go anywhere and I can never relax until I’ve ordered something that my son can eat. You could say why do we even bother going out, but why shouldn’t we? As a family, we’ve always enjoyed eating in restaurants and cafes. It’s great for the children to learn how to behave in social situations and I see no reason why we should hide away just because we have a gluten and dairy intolerant son.

Am I expecting too much though? Food service workers are, after all, paid minimum wages and what do they care? Although restaurants and cafes now have to indicate whether their food contains any of the major known allergens, this doesn’t mean that the staff are any more qualified to answer questions about the food offered. The managers, yes, but not the staff that work for them.

One example of the inconsistencies of restaurants is when my husband took the children to Frankie and Benny’s, Tunbridge Wells. We’ve been there before and were well looked after, so it was somewhere that he thought would be fine to take them after they’d been to the cinema next door.

My husband asked for the gluten free menu and realised that it only had adult portions. The little one said he would like the ribs, so my husband asked  if he could have a smaller portion from this gluten free menu. The waitress said that they were not allowed to change the menu in any way, but as my husband explained (at least three times in the end), he was not asking them to change the menu, but to provide a smaller portion of what was there. After all, could a six year old really be expected to eat £17 worth of ribs?!

The waitress replied that why couldn’t our son have the ribs from the children’s menu, to which my husband asked would that be possible – are they gluten free then?

‘How should I know?’ came the reply. It was at this point that my husband told her to forget it and they left.

Perhaps she had a valid question, how is she supposed to know this information if she isn’t told it in the first place? But at the same time, if you don’t know something, you go and ask someone who does, don’t you? If you work in the service industry, it’s not your job to be rude to the customers and if you find their requests irritating, then perhaps you are in the wrong job.

I know there are training packages for food service staff to learn about food allergies and intolerances. Of course, these cost money and unlike basic food hygiene training, it’s not compulsory. Perhaps it should be and of course from my point of view, I would definitely like to see that happening one day.

If mistakes are made in a restaurant and the wrong food is served because of lack of knowledge, it could be fatal to some and life threatening to others. For my son, it would be unpleasant and uncomfortable if he ate something that he shouldn’t, but the effects are seen almost immediately and I’m sure Frankie and Benny’s wouldn’t be too pleased if he were to have an accident in their restaurant!

This isn’t an isolated case. It happens all the time and as I’ve pointed out here, this is a restaurant that says it caters for allergies and in the past we’ve been there and had no problems. The inconsistencies with staff knowledge and training, however, meant that on this particular occasion Frankie and Benny’s failed to honour that statement and my husband and children had to find somewhere else to eat.

Do you think they should care about that, or do they see us as one less problem to worry about? Perhaps they don’t really need or want the likes of us in their restaurants, trying to change the menus and order around our dietary needs.

What about you, have you had similar experiences of repeat visits to restaurants and inconsistencies in the service? Do you think that food service staff should receive basic food allergy and intolerance training?

Travelling with 5

Family Days Out in London – Greenwich & the Cutty Sark

Cutty Sark - A Free From Life

I love living near London. Within half an hour, we can be at one of three major stations – London Bridge, Waterloo East or Charing Cross, from which we can get to most major tourist areas.

On Monday, I took two of my three kids to Greenwich to see the Cutty Sark. We went by Thames Clipper boat from Embankment, just to make the journey that bit more exciting. Although it probably takes longer that way, you get to see a lot more and it’s fun to spot and point out the famous landmarks that line the Thames.

By the time we arrived in Greenwich though, the three of us were feeling desperately hungry. However, first stop on the list was to collect some gluten and dairy free doughnuts that I ordered from Borough 22 Bakehouse. Having contacted Ryan via Facebook, he very kindly arranged to meet us in Greenwich to drop a box off, even though it was a Bank Holiday. Hand delivered, freshly made doughnuts – you can’t get better than that can you? More about these in a separate post though.

After sharing one of the doughnuts (well it would be rude not to), we went to find somewhere to eat. I didn’t bother to do my usual research, as I felt sure we would find somewhere suitable to cater for my son’s gluten and dairy intolerance. We decided to go for burgers thinking that the modern, gourmet burger joints you see everywhere now are sure to be with the times when it comes to dealing with these things.

Byron burger house is right on the river side, just as you get off the boat. We had to queue for about twenty minutes to get a table, making me think it would have been wiser to book, but by then I realised if we went anywhere else we would have the same problem. My son was ratty as anything by this point. The drop in his blood sugar was obvious by his whinging behaviour. I felt the same, I just didn’t express it in the same way and neither did my eleven year old daughter.

When we finally got a seat, I asked for the gluten free menu but there wasn’t one. My heart sank, but the manager came over to go through what we could have. It turns out that the burgers are gluten free, which is one plus point, but there are no gluten free buns. His choice was to have a kids burger with salad and if he wanted fries, he could have the skin-on chips (not the fries as they are wheat coated). But here’s the thing – they are cooked in the same oil, so if you are coeliac, there is no way you could eat them. My son is gluten intolerant and I knew that given how hungry he was, there was no way he would have enough with just a burger and a bit of salad, so I said yes to the chips. He ate a few, but said they weren’t very nice anyway. His burger was also dry.

As for dessert, ice-cream was the only gluten free choice for children and there was nothing dairy free. Lucky I had the doughnuts then! What smacks in the face in places like these is that they still charged us for the set children’s meal. I should have argued it, but all I wanted to do was get out of there as quickly as possible. The other thing that surprises me is that they are obviously aware of the potential dangers of cooking oil contamination and yet they don’t provide an alternative.

Sometimes you have to write off an experience and that is one of those times. With some energy restored, we went on to tour the Cutty Sark, which both children really enjoyed. It’s very engaging and there are a lot of interactive displays for the children to have a go at. Plus, we also caught part of the tour, which took us back in time to when the ship was at its heyday.

The Cutty Sark was a famous ship in it’s day, known for it’s speedy journeys around the world. A cargo ship, it brought firstly tea from China and then went on to ship wool to Australia in it’s later years. Rescued and restored to it’s former glory, the Cutty Sark is the only surviving tea ship of it’s kind.

Cutty Sark - A Free From Life

Greenwich is a fun and vibrant area to visit. Not only are you absorbed in the maritime history of London, there is a bohemian feel to the area, especially around the market place. In the main square by the Cutty Sark, there was a vintage market on, complete with lindy hop dancers. In the park on the opposite side, was a beer festival with live music, put on by a local brewery. It felt like there was something for everyone.

Greenwich Maritime Museum - A Free From Life
One thing I can say about a day out in London is that it is tiring. The journey, complete with activities and sight seeing certainly wore me out, so I’m not surprised that the kids were on their knees by the time we arrived home. Goodness knows how we managed to save two doughnuts so that my husband and other daughter didn’t miss out, but we did. Apart from the hole in the middle, they were still in one piece too!

 

joining in with Country Kids

Shared with Monday Escapes

Reviews

Review – Gluten & Dairy Free Doughnuts – Borough 22 Bakehouse

Gluten and dairy free doughnuts - A Free From Life
Maple and pecan

I rarely take the kids food shopping anymore and I was reminded why when I took my two girls with me the other day. My ‘stick to the list’ philosophy went out of the window very quickly and we came away with a load of extras that I would never normally buy. That included a packet of doughnuts, which the girls chose from the bakery. I said they could choose something because we didn’t have my dairy and gluten intolerant son with us (he was on a play date), otherwise it’s not fair, of course. Given that he wasn’t with us, they obviously went for it and came back with a packet of jam filled, sugar coated doughnuts. We couldn’t hide the evidence, as there were five in the packet and when my son came home and saw them he was most put out. No one was able to convince him that they weren’t very nice and he wouldn’t have enjoyed them anyway.

It felt like fate the next day when I spotted a post on a gluten free Facebook group about doughnuts. There was a comment from Ryan Panchoo of Borough 22 bakehouse saying that they make gluten free ones. Do you make them dairy free as well? I asked and the reply was that yes, they could do that too. The bakery is based near Greenwich, we were due to go to Greenwich on the Bank Holiday Monday, could we somehow get some when we come? It seemed an opportunity too good to be missed. ‘Let’s make this happen,’ Ryan said.

Gluten and dairy free doughnuts - A Free From Life

I like that – someone who’s prepared to go the extra mile. Ryan comes across as someone who genuinely believes in his products and wants to connect with people. Yes, of course he wants to market his products, but you can tell it’s more than that. With his wife and children suffering from multiple food intolerances, Ryan knows how difficult it can be to buy decent baked goods. He understands, which is why he set up a bakery to cater for those needs. And boy does he cater. We only tried the doughnuts, but if they are anything to go by, Borough 22 does not disappoint.

My last experience of a doughnut was at the seaside, where the warm, sugary treats that hold many memories of childhood holidays, turned out to be greasy, stodgy and altogether disappointing. And to think I’d broken my no-sugar fast for that. The gluten and dairy free alternatives from Borough 22 were, in contrast, light and fluffy. They have the all important crispy bite, into a soft centre, but without being greasy and doughy. They are different from wheat-based doughnuts, but in a good way. You get the pleasure of eating a sweet treat but without the guilty after taste.

Gluten and dairy free doughnuts - A Free From Life

For my son, being able to eat a doughnut is a real pleasure. Watching him eat one is even better. He whole heartedly, lip smackingly agreed that they were the best things ever and that’s saying something. The last time he had a doughnut was at Babycakes bakery in New York and although it would be nice to have the excuse to go all the way back there just for a sweet treat, we now know we don’t have to.

Health

What Food Do You Miss Most When You’re Away From Home?

Simple green salad - afreefromlife.com

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We have just returned from a week staying all-inclusive at a hotel in Cyprus. I know this sounds like the ideal holiday for anyone and it was great (more about that in another post), but there is, of course, the issue of what to eat if you suffer from intolerance and IBS as I do.

Fortunately, the buffet food on offer every night was varied and tasty, with plenty of choices to satisfy most palates. I will be writing plenty more about this trip, particularly from the point of view of my gluten and dairy intolerant son, but for this post I am concentrating more about how changing your diet affects you.

I tried to stick to white meat or fish, always with vegetables like brocoli, carrots and green beans, sometimes pasta with a creamy sauce and sometimes stir fry noodles. I’m aware of what I can’t eat, so I stayed well clear, which meant no potatoes or chips, nothing with a tomato-based sauce and no mixed salads or anything containing peppers or aubergines.

Everything I ate was tasty and I was never left wanting, but my diet for the week was so different to what it is at home, that I have returned from my week away feeling sick, as though I have over indulged.

I didn’t eat any sweet desserts, but I did have cheese and biscuits and that along with a couple of creamy pasta and vegetarian dishes makes me think that I over did it on the dairy front. When I am at home, I eat pretty much the same thing for breakfast and lunch every day. It’s only my evening meal that’s varied. I have a slice of my homemade gluten free bread with almond butter first thing and a green salad of spinach, cucumber and avocado with cooked Turkey and a pitta bread at lunch.

This might sounds dull to some but it works for me. There is no way I could eat a full English for breakfast each day, as was possible on holiday. I did eat a boiled egg with some rye toast or some halloumi cheese with omelette and grilled courgettes and carrots on most days though, followed by a plateful of meat, salad or veg and pasta for lunch and then another meal later in the evening.

My digestive system needs a holiday and I was looking forward to coming home to simple food again. What have I missed the most when I’ve been away? Well it’s the two things I mentioned above – a fresh spinach salad and a chunky slice of toast.

Post holiday detox - afreefromlife.com

I started my day (today) with a cup of hot lemon water and an avocado, as I couldn’t face anything else. Then I made a loaf of bread, ready for later. My simple salad lunch was a welcome relief from all the rich food I’ve had this week. Made up of fresh spinach, cucumber and cooked turkey, sprinkled with pumpkin and sunflower seeds and drizzled with avocado oil, it was just enough for my poorly tummy.

Simple green salad - afreefromlife.com

As we had a late flight back last night and I felt too sick to eat on the plane, I missed dinner. That’s not a bad thing, considering I didn’t need to give my digestive system any more work to do. Today has been about plain and simple food to get me back on track again.

Seen as though I didn’t have any ready this morning, I had my slice of toast as an afternoon snack. Oh how I missed this!

Gluten free bread - afreefromlife.com

See my gluten free bread recipe here.