I Love Purely

In the March of this year I attended the Free From Food Awards, it was a really exciting event at which my Mum won Free From Hero of 2018, making the trip from Manchester to London definitely worth it! However, this event also allowed me to meet many different people and find out all about their work within the allergen community or their allergen friendly product. This is particularly important to me as I am always on the look out for new products that fit my dietary requirements, which is something a lot of products often fall just short of…

Whilst at the Awards event I met Stefania Pellegrino and Mark O’Sullivan the founders of Purely, a plantain chip brand which offers a healthy alternative to potato chips and many other snacks. As I have a potato allergy I am always seeking out potato alternatives (which aren’t as common as I’d like..) so I was already aware of Purely and have been a fan of their naturally salted chips for a long time, yet somehow I seemed to have missed that there were other available flavours. After speaking to the founders of Purely (who are incredibly nice!) I decided I had to try the other flavours, fortunately for me Purely themselves sent me some samples to try and I couldn’t let it go undocumented.

 In general plantain chips make for both an incredibly healthy and tasty snack  as they contain calcium, iron, Vitamins A, B, C and D whilst also being rich in minerals. However in regards to Purely plantain chips in particular, I shall review each pack of chips in order of my preference:

  1. Nice and Spicy

As soon as these arrived at my door I had a feeling they would be my favourite, and I was right! These chips have a light spicy covering that although evidently present in each chip, isn’t at all overpowering and in fact a whole bag of them is easily finished. Although it’s currently summer, I imagine that these chilli crisps would be perfect for winter due to how warming they are in your mouth.

Ingredients: Plantains, sunflower oil, natural spices & salt.

2. Naturally Salted

If spicy or garlic plantain chips sound like a too exotic introduction to plantains, then the naturally salted option is the one for you! These chips are lightly seasoned with salt and are the most naturally flavoured making them a great snack with either a meal or for when you’re on the go. Out of the Purely range these are the chips I was already aware of as I have had them as a handy snack in my bag for a while now. When I could eat potato crisps ready salted were my favourite, but now that I’m allergic to potato I have relied on these naturally salted chips to provide me with that crisp-like snack and they’ve never let me down.

Ingredients: Plantains, sunflower oil, salt.

3. Wild Garlic

If I’m honest I didn’t really think I would be much of a fan of these chips, even as I opened my bag of chips I could smell the garlic flavouring and became even more suspicious than before. But evidently the phrase “don’t judge a book by it’s cover” comes into play here because even though these chips have the most overpowering flavour, I really do recommend them! As strange as it may sound, it was almost like eating a tiny garlic bread with every chip and it was something I found surprisingly enjoyable.

Ingredients: Plantains, sunflower oil, natural spices & salt.

Each of bag chips are also:

  • Vegan
  • Gluten Free
  • High in Potassium
  • Contain 0g of Trans Fat
  •  Non GMO
  • All Natural

 Overall I’m a big fan of the whole Purely range, even those I didn’t expect to end up loving and highly recommend them as a snack alternative. Two of the samples even made it on my spa holiday, protected by my hotel room’s meerkat…

If you want to grab yourself a bag of Purely Plantain Chips you can look on Purely’s website to see where near you stocks these chips, or simply order from their website by clicking here.

I’d like to thank Purely for sending me a box of samples, and hope you enjoyed reading this review.

Peckish Rice Crackers

At Food Matters Live 2017, I met some representatives for Peckish who very kindly provided me with some of their products to try and review. As a person who is allergic to both gluten and potato, crisps and crackers aren’t products I usually have the luxury of trying, so I was excited by the prospect of having a new on the go snack.

Peckish rice crackers are somewhere in between a crisp and a cracker, they are light and airy and don’t have the typical cracker trait of being dehydrating. They are a great alternative to crisps if you are unable to have them or choose not to, being the closest I have found in both flavour and texture. They are available in all supermarkets and can be easily found on social media.

They gave me three different flavours of their rice crackers to try and I shall review them in order of my preference:

1) Sea Salt and Vinegar

When I could have crisps, salt and vinegar was one of my favourite flavours (with the slightly duller option of ready salted being my first choice), automatically this gave these rice crackers the advantage. After not being able to have any similarly flavoured snack for years, this packet was a welcomed treat. Although they have quite a strong salt and vinegar flavour, they also have the aftertaste of a rice cracker which although is light and tasty, reminds you that you have chosen the healthier snack.

Rice Flour (85%), Rice Bran Oil (10%), Maltodextrin, Sea Salt (1.7%), Vinegar Powder (1.1%), Flavour Enhancers (E627, E631), Antioxidant (E307)

Allergy Information:
Free From: Gluten
May Contain: Milk, Soya

2) Tangy Barbecue

Barbecue is a flavour I would usually avoid, unless it involves fajitas, when it comes to snacks I usually find barbecue to be too strong a flavour for me. However, these crackers have a light barbecue flavour and make for a delicious lunchtime extra. There is a light coating of flavour dusted on top of the crackers, which can result in barbecue dusted fingers, so there’s no denying you’ve been snacking in your spare time.

Rice Flour (85%), Rice Bran Oil (10%), Salt, Barbecue Seasoning (3%) (Soy Sauce Powder (Maltodextrin, Soya Bean Oil, Salt), Ginger Powder, Acid (E330), Flavour Enhancers (E627, E631)), Antioxidant (E307)

Allergy Information:
Free From: Gluten
Contains: Soya
May Contain: Milk

3) Sour Cream and Chive

Sour cream is another flavour that I would generally avoid, but again Peckish has created delicious rice crackers out of a flavour I wouldn’t usually appreciate. These crackers are the lightest in flavour, with the flavour of the rice cracker also being the least prominent, instead the aftertaste is of sour cream and chive, this may make this flavour the most preferable to those who want to avoid the rice cracker taste.

Due to the flavouring of these crackers however, milk is a featuring ingredient, as I do have issues with milk and can only tolerate a small amount every now and then, these crackers wouldn’t be my first choice.

Rice Flour (85%), Rice Bran Oil (10%), Sour Cream and Chive Flavouring (Cheese Powder (1.5%) (Cheddar Cheese (Milk), Salt), Onion Powder (1.5%), Sugar, Flavour Enhancers (E627, E631), Acid (E270), Salt), Antioxidant (E307)

Allergy Information:
Free From: Gluten
Contains: Milk
May Contain: Soya

I really enjoyed tasting these products and shall now be on the look out to buy some more, I think Peckish makes wonderful free from and vegan (excluding the sour cream and chive flavour) rice crackers. I love discovering new allergy friendly products, as sometimes meals can get repetitive and as much as I love finding sweet products, I do struggle to find savoury snacks I can eat and enjoy. As a result of this, I am a big fan of Peckish’s creations and although they are products that could be overlooked if you have an abundance of savoury snacks, I believe they aren’t spoken about enough.

Food Matters Live 2017

Food Matters Live is an annual event that takes place at London Excel, this year I was lucky enough to be invited as a result of being a judge for the Free From Eating Out Awards in September. The event lasts for 3 days, however I only attended the one day, the day the results of the Awards were announced.

Once there I collected my pass, and began to wander around the various stalls at the event.

The first stall I came across that peaked my interest, was by a brand called “treat”, they produce bread roll and vegan flatbread mixes. These mixes appealed to me as although the bread roll mix contains egg, meaning I could not have it, both of them do not contain potato or maize starch. This is something I have a particular issue with as gluten free products often use these starches as a substitute. This is also something I ended up discussing and educating a lot of people on throughout the day.


Another brand that took interest in my issues with potato and maize starch is a brand called Angels & Cookies, this brand creates cookie dough free of all 14 allergens, but does however use maize starch. After speaking to the founder, Karen Capetta, she provided me with a business card and requested I email her so we can discuss making a cookie dough that would be suitable for me. This brand aims to allow those suffering with food allergies to be able to indulge without making sacrifices, and based on our discussion I think they’re doing a wonderful job.

At 2 o’clock I attended a seminar which was opened by Simon Wright who is chair of the Gluten Free Industry Association. He educated those of us in the seminar about the GFIA stating that brands such as Dr Schar, Warburtons and BFree are members. Following Mr Wright was Carly B, a gluten free blogger who analysed the various types  of free from eaters and their priorities. Closing the seminar was a representative for Mr Kipling, this talk I found particularly interesting as although I know the usual Mr Kipling cakes are heavenly, I’ve never been drawn to the gluten free versions. Her talk was very interesting and highlighted the worth of the Free From market from a producers point of view, with it estimated to be worth £673m in the UK by 2020! During her talk the issue of who is consuming the goods was also discussed, with people who are doing it to benefit their lifestyle being in larger numbers than those who medically have to change their diet.

Earlier in the day the representative for Mr Kipling had actually provided me with a box of Mr Kipling gluten free brownies, to try once I had gotten home. I did this, and found them to be incredibly tasty, though slightly confusing. The brownies are packaged with two in one small tray, which is good for travelling and to carry around as a handy snack. However when I picked one up it felt hard on the outside, so I was dubious to bite into it, but once I did I discovered it to secretly be a delicious, crumbly and surprisingly not drying brownie that I will now be seeking out in the shops.

Before heading to the Free From Eating Out Awards presentation, I managed to visit the Freedom Confectionary stall. I discovered this brand at The Allergy & Free From show in Liverpool last year. Since then I have been obsessed with their marshmallows, but not always able to get them. I left the stall incredibly happy when I was given some free bags of mallows to make up for the fact they weren’t at the Free From show this year.

The awards show was wonderful, with many brands earning bronze, silver and gold awards for their free from successes. Not only was it great to see so many brands working so hard to be a welcoming free from business, but it also allowed me to discover potential restaurants/cafes I could visit in the future. The awards for the category I judged for were also announced, it was really nice to see and meet the creators behind the products I had judged, with those marvellous doughnuts mentioned in my previous post winning a gold award. To find the full list of winners click here. The overall winner was Mommi, which is a Japanese-Latin Raw Bar and Grill in London. I’d never heard of Mommi before but if ever I find myself in search of food nearby, I will definitely check them out.

Although the day was long, travelling to London from Manchester and returning the same day, it was an enjoyable one. I learnt a lot from this day, meeting lots of inspirational people and discovering many brands and company’s doing amazing work. This was my first Food Matters Live event, and hopefully not my last.

Judging The Free From Eating Out Awards 2017

Waking up at 4:30am on any other day would seem like a nightmare, but on a day when I get to be a part of the Free From Eating Out Awards as hosted by Michelle Berriedale-Johnson, it seemed more like it was part of a dream. As a result of my mother’s, Jacqui McPeake’s, work and my own personal list of confusing allergies I was presented with the wonderful opportunity to be on the judging panel for the Free From Eating Out Awards 2017 Category 9, Foods Manufactured for Food Service. I was met at London Euston by Julian Edwards from Allergy Accreditation (see here), who not only guided me through London and to Michelle’s beautiful house, but also – with Michelle – offered me the chance to be a part of this incredibly talented panel.

Once at Michelle’s house the first product tested was a dairy alternative to a milk designed for coffee, this was an intriguing opening product as it wasn’t something I necessarily expected but made for a great ice breaker and a lovely morning coffee. Especially after my early start. As someone with a dairy allergy I have tried a great number of milks from coconut to almond, hemp and soy, the list goes on. I am more than used to soy milk and the kind of coffee it produces, and this first product created a creamy coffee that enhanced the flavour of the coffee in a way soy never has done for me before.

The products that followed after this were the savoury products of this category, which was an interesting section for me. Out of the products available for testing I could only test just under half, and there were only a few that I could confidently try. This made me incredibly aware of how repetitive some of the use of ingredients were, in particular the use of maize and potato starch, two ingredients I struggle with. This however in no way undermines the products involved in this category, as there were some products that I could not try but looked tempting. A product I tried that  remained memorable to me in particular was a simple one, a meat glaze. This product interested me as I am all too familiar with being presented a plain meat meal whenever I have eaten out. The product was presented to us on chicken and the added glaze was a welcomed and enjoyable change. Although this product may not be one most people would be excited about, it thrilled me.

The next products to be tasted and judged were the dessert products, the products I naturally was most looking forward to. This section although contained some similar ingredients, was thankfully a much more edible section for me. Without a doubt the product that stole the show for me personally was a doughnut batter mix, desserts tend to excite me anyway as they aren’t something I’m frequently offered, but this particular dessert was everything I didn’t know I wanted. They were light, fluffy and the tasting left me wanting more. Another product that pleased me was a brownie mix, which although there are many of, it can be questioned how many truly exquisite ones there are. A brownie is a classic dessert and one frequently offered to someone with an allergy (that’s if a fruit salad isn’t available), but I have had many an average or sometimes even a below-average brownie. A brownie mix that easily allows you to make your own brownies on demand, that taste incredible – I can assure you! – are a very handy item. I’ve had many a free from brownie and the brownies this mix produced are if not the best, one of the best I have ever tried.
Finally, to round off the dessert section tasting and the day, we tried some chocolate bars. Of course nowadays you can find your standard plain dairy free chocolate bars in many supermarkets, I know I have a few Tesco and ASDA favourites, but I thought these would be of a particular interest to those with a dairy allergy who either miss their old favourites or wish they could try them. These chocolate bars however are not for those with a nut allergy as the ones we tested contained nuts, and mimicked the flavours of some other (dairy filled) popular chocolate bars available.

Shortly after the final judging and discussion about the desserts tasted, I had to head back to London Euston for my train home. This day, though one unexpected, opened up a world to me I didn’t realise I could fall into but am thrilled I have. It was wonderful to meet so many people also interested in the world of allergies and to find out about the work they have done. It was also fascinating to see and effectively analyse the list of ingredients used in the products, and consider any alternatives. I learnt a lot from the day and am now looking forward to the awards being announced.