If you know me at all you’ll know that I’ve been involved with judging at these awards now for over ten years and bloody love it.
- I get to discover cool new products.
- I know that I can trust the products showcased by the awards because they’ve been rigorously vetted, tried and tested.
- The other judges are super cool and I ‘ve made so many friends through being involved.
- I also learn so much from the pre and post judging chat. New products, which supermarkets stock what, all the hot gossip in the allergy world
- And it gets me out of my hermit, freelance, work-from-home lifestyle too.
This year I got involved with judging a number of categories. So here you go, with a few little highlights of the things I loved best and will be rushing out to buy!
- Gluten free and low alcohol beverages
- Those of you who know me will know how much I love beer and in particular real ale. There some really great gluten free beers to try, including Wold Top, Hepworth, Jump Ship, Butcombe, Gun Brewery, Burnt Mill, JUBEL, Daura Damm, St Peters, to name just a few. I have to admit, I enjoyed them all, but as always there were some stand out beers. I loved Butcombe’s Gold Gluten Free ale and Daura Damms gluten free lager. What I cannot believe is that my favourite was a Porter! You know that really dark stuff that old men drink? Well I thought I didn’t like Porter. Turns out I do! If you’re coeliac or have a wheat allergy, check out Bellfield Porter! It had a delicious burnt aroma, chocolatey and rich.
- Low and No Alcohol Beer
- The Free From Beer Company – I loved their low alcohol beer
- Hepworth Brewery Aztech Light – this low alcohol GF lager was also very drinkable.
- Soup and Bowl Meals (which I also sponsored this year)
- ASDA – Carrot and Coriander soup in their freefrom range which I really enjoyed. It’s also really affordable at just £1.25 and is such a simple recipe with just five ingredients. I will definitely be looking out for this for those days when I can’t face making my own.
- ASDA Singapore Rice Noodle Curry pot – I really loved their freefrom range. This had a great kick and I enjoyed it. Not quite such simple ingredients as the soup, but also really good value at just £1.27.
- Lazy Vegan – Risotto – I LOVED this! I really enjoy making my own Risotto at home but anyone who has done this knows it’s a faff, needs constant attention and isn’t a quick meal to make. I’ll definitely be buying this.
- Most of the others were very heavily tomato based or had other allergens that I couldn’t eat so I missed out trying most of the entrants. And weirdly, none of the products on own roundup of Free From Soup and Bowl meals had even entered!
- Frownies Brownies – Celebration Brownie Birthday Slab – Free from the top 14 allergens and big win with me. It costs £24 but you can personalise with the name and celebration and everyone can enjoy it. It’s a yes from me!
- Morrisons Truffles – These were amazing! I may have had to try a few of these, just to be sure on flavour and to check whether I really did like them. They also come in a really lovely packaging and are individually foil wrapped.
- All the other entries had milk and or nuts so I didn’t try them.
- Best Product in Food Service
- Some interesting entries, including a pizza base that would be safe for all and some interesting sauces, including a Hollandaise and a Mexican cheesy sauce that was dairy free.
- Best Packaging product
- This category is judged virtually, we look at all the elements of good allergen labelling and there are some companies who are really getting it right. We get very technical and dive deep into what works, what doesn’t and highlight good and bad practise. I have to say the packaging is getting better and better.
The hot allergy gossip
- Coop has a new app which is just brilliant. If you sign up to the app with Coop (find it in the app store) you get to choose two rewards each week, that must be used by the Sunday of that week. It’s so much better than the ones that churn out of the till which always seem to be for the thing you just bought! I’m loving it and have already saved about £3 since the awards session!
- Coop Food to Go have some great potential free from products coming soon so go check those out.
- Coop are also now stocking a range of nut free cakes – Look at their celebration cake range and look out for the Nut Free roundel on the packaging.
- Pret now do some options too – Pulled pork rice bowl and some health free from bowl salads
- Check out Healthy Nibbles – not judged or seen but discussed during judging and sounds pretty cool! e.g. they do a Free From Mini Box of various products for £13.49 which contains six delicious allergen safe snacks – free from all 14 major allergens.
- Lazy Vegan – Thai Green Curry that just might be suitable for us multiple allergic peeps! A Thai-style frozen vegan ready meal loaded with fresh vegetables like sugar snaps, baby corn, green pepper, carrot and rice. It comes with a nice authentic Thai curry sauce and our Chicken Style Pieces, made from the protein of garden peas. No allergens and no may contain warnings! Again, not judged nor tested but came in conversation as a product we wish had entered!
- Lazy Day Foods are now doing a Shortbread in a tin! They’re very nice! So look out for that too.
So that’s a wrap really. What I learnt judging the Free From Food Awards. Have you found this blog interesting? Are there any cool products you think you might look out for? Do you spot the FFFA logo on products and trust the brand more? I’d love to hear your thoughts.