Vegan and gluten free Costa Christmas! (DF, LF, V, GF)

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I have enjoyed lots of visits to Costa recently, trying out their Christmas coffee and hot chocolate selection.  I was excited to see this mince pie in their Christmas range and picked it up as an accompaniment to my hot drink.

Purchased from: Costa coffee

Dairy/lactose free: Dairy free

Description: Gluten and dairy free mince pie.

My review:

I have always enjoyed a mince pie at Christmas time, but dietary requirements don’t always make this an easy choice.  However, Costa have all bases covered with this vegan and gluten free version.

The pastry is quite flaky for a gluten free version, which I really liked.  It gave it the texture of an ordinary mince pie, which was definitely a bonus, as gluten free textures can sometimes be a little dense.  The filling was delicious, if a little sweet, and also kept the pastry moist. I don’t think you could tell this was dairy free as the tart as a whole tasted no different to a regular one.  The flavours went well together.

I like the presentation of the mince pie as well with the star on top.  It made it feel very luxurious and on a par with the other kinds of pastries that Costa sell – not always the way with free from versions.  The size of the tart is quite large and it definitely fills you up.  Although slightly more expensive than a regular mince pie might cost, I feel effort has been put in to make it just as good.  For this reason, I would buy it again.

So, don’t feel left out with the Christmas treats!  Have a mince pie at Costa.

Rating: 5/5

 

 

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Tasty vegan croissant (DF, LF, V)

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This year I have gone back to studying, and have been enjoying lots of tasty free from treats that I have found around the place.

I have decided not to do a full review of this, as it is probably a bit too specific to be applicable to many people.  But I had to share my excitement on finding this delicious pastry on campus.

Not only is the pastry dairy free and vegan, but it is also made with spelt and quinoa – a great combination for those who are not coeliac, but cannot tolerate wheat.  Spelt is often a kinder alternative, with a delicious flavour.

I think what makes this pastry so exceptional is the texture – light and fluffy inside and crispy outside – as well as the taste.  It is just as buttery-tasting and delicious as an ordinary croissant.

Here, I was enjoying it with a dairy free Mocha!  Great combination.

Rating: 5/5

Morrisons free from white choc and strawberry fondants (DF, GF, LF)

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Having seen an advert on TV recently for Morrisons’ free from Christmas range, I decided to pop along to see what was available.  I have to say, I was expecting a bigger range, but I am pretty lucky that my local Morrisons has the biggest free from range of all the supermarkets in the area already, so there were a few new additions to try out.

Purchased from: Morrisons

Dairy/lactose free: Dairy free

Description of product: Strawberry flavoured dairy alternative white chocolate truffles

My review:

As you may recall, I recently posted a blog about a delicious white chocolate alternative I had found in a health food shop.  I was really pleased to see something different in Morrisons, as I would say that flavoured white chocolates are even more rare in the dairy free world than a bar of white chocolate.

I was not disappointed.  I was a little surprised on biting into the chocolate, as I expected some kind of gooey strawberry filling.  Instead, there was a soft, white filling, with a strawberry flavour.  I found that the filling melted in your mouth and tasted really good.  Although it was not what I was expecting, I was really impressed with the texture and taste.

The white chocolate itself has a good flavour.  It is quite similar to the one I reviewed recently, and again, quite sweet.  However, I found that it was quite close to a white chocolate flavour.

I thought the two flavours went really well together and complemented each other.  I loved the blend of textures, with a harder outer shell and a soft fondant middle.  Missing out on having a decent box of chocolates with a variety of flavours and textures is one of the most disappointing things about being dairy free, so it is wonderful to start seeing alternatives like this on the market.

Looking at the packaging, I would suspect that they will only be in store for the Christmas season, which is a little sad, but they have a ‘best before’ of July next year, so probably worth stocking up on!

I think lactose free lovelies everywhere would be happy to get these in their stocking this year!

Rating: 4/5

 

Dairy free Christmas comes to Aldi (DF, LF, V, GF)

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I know, I know, it is a bit early for Christmas!  But us dairy free people know that when it comes to delicious vegan goodies, there is a limited supply, and if you snooze, you lose!

On a trip to Aldi this week, I found some dairy free Christmas items.  I won’t do a full review, as I am being good and waiting until 1st December to open this advent calendar.  However, a heads up to all my vegan and dairy free followers that Aldi has Moo free advent calendars and Moo free selection boxes in stock, alongside their own-brand dark chocolate reindeers.

The only problem may be saving them until Christmas!

ichoc White Vanilla Vegan chocolate (DF, LF, V)

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Purchased from: The Natural Food Company, Nottingham

Dairy/lactose free: Dairy free

Description of product: Dairy free and vegan white chocolate alternative

My review:

The range of dairy free chocolate on the market is always expanding.  It seems to be improving all the time as companies work out how to recreate favourites in a dairy free or vegan format.  However, the world of dairy free white chocolate is largely under represented.

I have tried a few attempts at white chocolate, but for some reason, this seems a difficult flavour to recreate. I came across this version in my favourite health food shop and decided to give it a go.

At the moment, I can’t say this tastes exactly like white chocolate, because it doesn’t.  But I enjoyed the flavour and was quite impressed with it, especially relative to other chocolates I have tried. I would definitely recommend giving it a try if you are a fan of white chocolate or just fancy a change from your regular types of vegan chocolate.

The flavour is quite sweet, and has a definite addition of vanilla, which adds another depth to the taste.  You can tell that it is modelled on the flavour of white chocolate, and they have come quite close to recreating this.

The texture was really impressive.  I found it quite creamy and it melted in your mouth like a cows’ milk alternative would.  In fact, when letting the chocolate melt in your mouth, it almost gave a different flavour to it, and intensified the taste.

Although the chocolate is quite sweet, which I perhaps wouldn’t normally appreciate, the flavours do work well together.  It is nice to have an alternative to dairy free ‘milk’ chocolate and dark chocolate and I look forward to seeing this area of vegan chocolate develop further.

Rating: 4/5

 

Best Day Ever! (Vegan Ben and Jerry’s) (DF, LF, V) 

Whether you have always had to avoid dairy, or if you are newly diagnosed as lactose intolerant or switched to a vegan lifestyle, luxury ice cream can be lacking.

A few years ago, I learnt that Ben and Jerry’s were planning to release a vegan version of their delicious ice cream. I was diagnosed lactose intolerant as an adult, so fully appreciate the joy that this ice cream brand can bring!

A few years waiting for it to be released in the UK has felt like a lifetime, and I launched a major operation to hunt down and try it out at the earliest opportunity. I was so excited to discover that the wait is finally over when I visited my local Tesco.

There are three vegan flavours available, however,  unfortunately there was only one flavour left in Tesco. So this is my review of ‘Chunky Monkey non-dairy’. But I shall be checking back regularly for the other ones!

Purchased from: Tesco

Dairy/lactose free: Dairy Free

Description of product: A banana-flavoured ice cream made with almond milk, studded with dark chocolate chunks and walnut pieces.

My review:

I will start by saying that I have allowed a few select people to try out some of my precious ice cream stash – none of them dairy free in any way – and they have all said the same thing: “You wouldn’t know it is dairy free!”  I start with this because you may wish to share yours with someone special.  In addition, if you have not always been dairy free, you may remember cows’ milk based alternatives.  If this is the case, at least you know you will not be disappointed.

The ice cream has a really good texture to it.  Thick, creamy and melts just like regular ice cream.  There is no shortage of goodies in the ice cream, either.  They have added plenty of dark chocolate and walnuts to the mix, so you definitely don’t feel short-changed in this respect.  It gives the ice cream a delicious mix of smooth and crunchy textures together – something that is missing in other dairy free ice creams.

Onto the flavour.  It has a very strong banana flavour to it, so if this isn’t your favourite, it may be worth avoiding it.  The taste of the banana works really well with the dark chocolate and walnut pieces, and gives it a real luxury feel.

Personally, I feel that luxury and variety are the two things missing from dairy free brands.  This is why I am so excited to welcome Ben and Jerry’s to the market.  However, my only criticism is one that you would expect, given the price of the cows’ milk alternative, in that it is expensive.  But for a treat, it is worth the hefty price.

Rating: 5/5

 

Rule of Crumb Chocolate Eclairs (DF, LF, GF)

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Purchased from: Sainsburys

Dairy/lactose free: Dairy free

Description of product: Gluten free pastry filled with dairy free cream and covered in a layer of chocolate sauce

My review:

On my travels around the various supermarkets, health food shops and other outlets that may sell diary free treats, I have seen a few versions of gluten free cream cakes and goodies.  However, until now, I haven’t encountered a dairy free ‘cream’ cake.

I picked these up in the free from freezer section of Sainsburys, and had a glance over them, not for one minute thinking they would be dairy free.  So I was very excited to discover that they were and had to buy them for this reason alone!

The box contains six quite small eclairs, which need defrosting at room temperature for about 90 minutes before eating.

I was really impressed with the overall flavour and texture of these cakes.  The taste of the pastry, cream and chocolate worked really well together.  The texture of the cream was quite light.  Although the cream had a slightly neutral taste, it was by no means so bland that you couldn’t taste it.  I felt that the pastry itself had a good flavour, and was close to what you would imagine a ‘real’ choux pastry to taste like.  The texture of it was also good, as gluten free cakes can often be quite dry.  This was certainly not the case with these ones.  The layer of chocolate was fairly thick and added a nice sweetness to the overall taste.

I would definitely recommend these eclairs for anyone who is gluten or dairy free and needs a cream cake fix!

Rating: 5/5