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17Feb

Earlier this year it was that time of year when I get on my FreeFrom Food Awards disguise and hot footed it to Foods Matter Towers for some very secret food tasting. Before I get started you will be delighted to hear that the Shortlist for the FreeFrom Food Awards is now out.

More nut free products please!

This year I changed it around a bit and did the nut free category – an area which I think needs a lot more support from manufacturers though the complex issue of what is technically nut free is complex. We spent far too long getting into the nitty gritty of this but to cut a long story short, many products which entered were technically nut free but also carried a may contain warning. As nut allergic community we don’t want to see this, but by law they feel they need to include it. I couldn’t try many of these despite them being nut free as they contained other allergens, but for those of you who can, there was Sweet Mandarin Nut Free GF Satay which the other judges loved. It is made with soya so not great it you are also allergic to that. We also had nut free curry, which I could eat. I’ve blogged about these products before, but to have a curry when you’re nut allergic is pretty epic. Thank you ilumi for your amazing pouch nut free curry ready meals. We love you! It was clear to me from the lack of entries that there is still a huge gap in the nut free products area. There are very few nut free cereals for instance.

There also weren’t many entrants to this category. Why? Is nut free just not important to retailers? Is there just not enough demand? or is it just too risky and tricky to even attempt with all the fear around nut allergies and anaphylaxis?

Ready meals and down the pub – seemed to go very well together

I also judged on the ready meals category which was really great fun, there are some very exciting products out there from the big brands and the small independents. I discovered some interesting quick ready meals which I will be looking out for in the future.

The perfect end to any judging session involving a lot of meaty food; the gluten free beer category. We lined out stomachs well before tackling this very complex and tricky to judge category.

Read about judging Ready meals and the Pub and Down the Bar here. This year the gluten free beer judging included snacks to have in the bar, which we sampled after the been so as not to adversely affect our palette for tasting and to mop up some of that beer.

The second week was slightly easier, beginning with breakfast cereals and other breakfast products which makes far more sense than a curry at 10am! Followed by confectionery – something I can often only dream about unless I’ve made a special nut free chocolate order online or been really lucky at the health food shop, but I managed to find quite a few that were suitable for me to eat, despite the nut, soya and dairy allergy.

So I have my own Top Ten shortlisted products. My top picks. The products which made me smile and will be going on my shopping list.

Top 10 products from FreeFrom Food Awards judging 2015

First of all, as you all know very well by now, what goes on a food judging stays at food judging, but this year we are allowed to share with you our all time faves for this year. So in no particular order, here they are…

Really scrummy, nicely seasons fish cakes

Georgia’s Choice Really scrummy, nicely seasoned cod fish cakes

Black Farmer pork and apple burgers - gluten and dairy free

Black Farmer pork and apple burgers – gluten and dairy free

Freefrom Dairy, wheat, gluten, soya, celery and nuts Sainsbury's Chicken HotPot

Freefrom Dairy, wheat, gluten, soya, celery and nuts – Sainsbury’s Chicken HotPot

Genius Gluten Free Pain au Chocolate - almost as good as the real thing

Genius Gluten Free Pain au Chocolate – almost as good as the real thing

COYO #dairyfree #soyafree #wheatfree #nut free Morello Cherry Coconut Milk Yoghurt

COYO #dairyfree #soyafree #wheatfree #nut free Morello Cherry Coconut Milk Yoghurt

Coconut Merchant Coconut Jam - truly amazing, delicious and I need some now!

Coconut Merchant Coconut Jam – truly amazing, delicious and I need some now!

Cocoa Libre delightful stars and trees Christmas minty dark chocolate discs

Cocoa Libre delightful stars and trees Christmas minty dark chocolate discs

I also very much enjoyed:

  • Georgia’s choice chicken and mushroom bakes – very good ingredients list and for someone with so many allergies, having something like this was pretty exciting (sad I know).
  • Voakes Free From Pork & Chilli Chutney Pie – which was a particular highlight. I sampled quite a lot of this one, just to be sure
  • ilumi nut free curry – To enjoy a really tasty curry, either safely at home or at a friend’s house while they have ‘normal’ curry is such a treat. I can take part in take-away night now and not feel I’m missing out. The only nut free curry I’ve ever come across. Thank you ilumi.
  • Tesco FF Savoury Party Pack Selection – this one was really excellent and so useful for parties. There were three different bite sized breaded snacks including a chicken one, a bean one and something else. Can’t find out to clarify on their website but really worth checking out. They were OK for me and gluten, wheat, dairy and soya free. Thumbs up Tesco. I’m definitely buying these when I fancy a treat and snacks in front of the telly or to take to a party… all for me of course.

No photos of these last few… terrible blogger. My excuse for this is that it was all so good we ate it all up before I could photograph the food.

You can read other bloggers and judges reviews of their highlights here:

GlutenFree Bs “37 puddings, 5 trends and 3 top picks”

  

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