Treats for the Intolerant

Patricia Cleveland-Peck looks at some of the products available for those who cannot tolerate gluten.

Feel Free Donuts (1)

Feel Free Donuts

Feel Free Mixes

Feel Free Mixes

Genius TripleSeededSandwichLoaf

Genius Triple Seeded Sandwich Loaf

When, a couple of years ago, it was found that I had developed an intolerance to gluten, the news came as a relief for almost as soon as I went on a gluten-free diet my health improved dramatically. Even so, I, in common with many in the same boat, do miss the springy crunch of crusty wheat – flour bread, the sharp intense taste of a dark rye slice and the tang of barley beer. Bread is said to be the staff of life and one of the things I missed most, craved almost, was a sandwich, something which is often all I need or have time for at lunch, especially when travelling.

Dennis has made me gluten-free bread successfully but for convenience it is good to be able to pick up a loaf at the bakers or supermarket and I am sure everyone in this position puts all the gluten- free breads on the shelves on trial, I know I did.

Lacking the spring and stretch of gluten, I found some too cakey and inclined to stick in my teeth and others too light and insubstantial with the texture almost of polystyrene. I did find all were slightly improved by being lightly toasted. Eventually, however I did find a loaf which, for me ticks almost all the boxes – Genius Gluten Free Triple Seeded Bread. It tastes good, the seeds give it texture and substance and it certainly makes an acceptable, if thick, sandwich.

Of course bread is not the only thing one misses – there is the question of tea time treats. While there are plenty of gluten free cakes, biscuits and cookies available, I don’t have a very sweet tooth and I don’t like to ingest too much in the way of sugar-laden commercially prepared food. From talking to other g-i folk however, I realise that I may be in the minority here so in the interests of independent research ( and I must admit the idea of a ‘light fluffy donut dusted with sugar’ was rather tempting, as I don’t think I’d tasted one for 20 years!) I warmed one of Feel Free’s donuts in the Aga, having first defrosted it (bought online they come frozen and excellently packed) made myself a cup of tea and took a bite – and it was really delicious!

Even so I knew this was going to be a very ‘once in a while’ sort of treat. A buttered crumpet though would be different and when I came across Genius’s Crumpets I couldn’t wait to try one.

It looked like a crumpet, it felt like a crumpet and when well toasted with the outside crusty and the inside squishy and the hole allowing it to absorb the butter, it was as good as any crumpet I’d eaten. Genius also produce a g-f Croissant but sadly although this looked like a croissant, and was a pleasant enough snack to eat with some butter, it lacked the light flakiness of the wheat flour and didn’t have the taste or the mouth-feel of a conventional croissant.

I was also delighted to come across Feel Free’s Dumpling Mix. For me a warming winter stew cries out for dumplings and the ‘light fluffy and easy to make gluten-free dumplings,’ proved a real bonus. Similarly Feel Free’s tasty Sage and Onion Stuffing meant I wasn’t left out when we cooked and ate our traditional goose for Christmas dinner. Genius on the other hand produce a very good Short Crust Pastry another welcome shortcut which comes frozen but bakes very well. These little additions to a meal are a godsend to us poor intolerants and it is heartening to find producers catering specially for us.

These are but a very few of the little treats for the intolerant on sale at the moment. Many are available both on the shelves and in the freezer cabinets of supermarkets and online. It is good news that manufacturers are in fact producing many more and varied gluten-free items. In 2014 Genius launched 15 new products. Sally Allister M.D of Feel Free started her business in 2004 when, as a coeliac, she had become frustrated with supermarket offerings. She now markets 53 products with 3 more coming next month.

Information call 0845 874 400 or contact via the website call 08081 290 261 or email