The Free From Food Awards 2018 are the thing you should follow for discovery of tremendous foods free from the things you do not want and full of the things you do. Gluten and other allergens go into that first bucket. Taste, texture, appearance, nutritional virtues and innovation fill the second.
I have the pleasure of being part of the judging team for the awards. The quantity of free from products entered requires that judging takes place over two weeks. The quality of free from has thankfully reached the point that products need to be really terrific to stand out. Judging is performed by a diverse and expert panel comprised of food entrepreneurs, reps from big food vendors, nutritionists, dietitians, chefs, people with multiple allergies & parents of children with allergies come together for judging. Sampling is performed blind meaning that judges do not know the brand of the product they are sampling. Opinions sometimes differ, debate sometimes ensues!
Anything that gets an Award, be it Gold, Silver, Bronze or even just Shortlisted has impressed on at least one and likely more of flavour, nutrition and innovation. So when you see the Award badge, treat yourself!
Free From Food Awards 2018 Top Picks
Award Winners will be announced on April 17th. Follow the Free From Food Awards to be the first to learn who gets Awarded. Even as a judge, I do not know this for sure. I helped judge for two days within the two weeks so there are many things I did not sample that will win awards. That includes 22 Gluten Free Beers! I did however try 20 Gluten Free Desserts. 20! Even at a spoonful of each, and second spoonfuls of the best, this still meant I consumed more sugar in one sitting than I think I ever have before. I was very literally shaking from the sugar rush and had to work it off walking home from North London to South. In the dark. Whilst it was raining. I leaped and bounded for at least the first 5 kilometers! Judges are serious, dedicated people!
These are my personal top picks from two days of helping judge the 2018 Awards. These picks are from just four of many categories, Superfoods & Supplements, Pasta & Pizza, Food Cupboard and Puddings! The essential caveat before revealing my top picks that whilst I think these thoroughly deserve Awards, and of course yes I am right, the panel may not have agreed. One more thing, every top pick of mine is gluten free and vegan except for the Gato & Co. Pudding, right at the end.
So which new free from products really stand out in 2018? Here they come!
Clearspring Organic Raw 100% Austrian Pumpkin Protein Powder
Why so Good? Very welcome ‘whole food’ protein powder and flour with great free from credentials. The single ingredient is simply cold pressed seeds with most of the oil removed. This joins hemp, sunflower and flax as vegan and plant based proteins that are very close to being whole foods.
Roasted, toasted, earthy, nutty pumpkin seed aroma and a combination sweet and nutty pumpkin seed flavor. Absolutely great for adding to warm dishes especially including soup and savoury bakes bakes to boost the protein content. Can also be enjoyed as a hot latte. Add pumpkin spices!
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Choc Chick ‘Choc Go’ Cacao Nibbles
Why so Good? Cacao Nibs are a prebiotic nutritional powerhouse but can be rather bitter and not everyone can love them. They tend to get used in desserts and bakes rather than enjoyed as they are. Yacon Syrup is a prebiotic and low glycemic index sweetener made from the Yacon root vegetable.
If only there was a way to somehow make Cacao Nibs a bit more palatable . . . . and now there is!
Choc Chick have rolled together a simple genius combination of nibs, yacon syrup and cacao butter! Together they have a just right goldilocks sweet and chocolatey flavour. The cacao paste provides a luxurious creamy mouth feel as it melts which contrasts with tantalizing crunch from the nibs.
You will like these but your gut bacteria might like them even more. You need a simple division of labor. You buy them and enjoy the flavor. Your gut bacteria ferment the fiber, produce lots of useful byproducts and send a chemical signal to your brain to buy more. Virtuous circle, everybody is happy. 10 billion gut bacteria cannot possibly be wrong.
Where to Buy? Alas, nowhere *yet* but it they must be on sale by 01 March. It is a ‘rule’ for product entry into the Awards. I will update!
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Liberto Coconut & Lemon Organic Protein Shake
Why so Good? I know Liberto. They make pulse and bean pastas that come in wonderfully pretty boxes and make for super, and superior, alternatives to pastas based on wheat, corn, rice et al. Well, now they also offer a range of organic, gluten free & vegan plant based protein shake mixes too!
Of the three in the range it was the Coconut & Lemon that wowed me. The flavor is just so very distinct to most and you can really taste the exotic fruitiness of baobab and maca. The generous protein content comes from pea, flax and chia seeds and the mix is thick and creamy, great for a shake or even a chilled dessert. Leave this to set any you will get a very thick and spoon able concoction. Add it to your overnight gluten free oats maybe?
I would prefer that the coconut sugar was absent so I could sweeten to my own taste but as a pre or post workout shake this is a delicious & nutritious option.
Where to Buy? Liberto Stockists
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Doves Farm Organic Green Pea Penne
Why So Good? Bean & Pulse pastas are becoming more and more popular and widely available. Deservedly so! Tastier than conventional wheat, corn and rice pasta and nutritionally far more compelling. High protein and fibre, low carb and good micronutrients.
Legume Pasta brands include Liberto, ReallyHealthyPasta and Explore Cuisine but Doves Farm is the first and only 100% Green Pea pasta and gosh darn it, it is rather nice! Do you like peas? Do you like pasta? If yes to both, try this!
Where to Buy? Doves Farm Stockists
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Ugo Thrive Pumpkin & Sage Raviolini
Why So Good? You might know the brand Dell’Ugo. They makes lots of filled pastas and gnocchi that are absolutely not gluten free. They do have a sister brand, Evexia, that has a couple of fresh Chickpea pastas sold in several supermarkets. Ugo Thrive is an upcoming, not yet at retail range of pastas from the same group.
Free from gluten, dairy, egg and nuts and in fact free from all 14 major allergens. Free 14 and vegan! This was a genuinely yummy filled pasta that needed nothing other than a light dressing of olive oil to be thoroughly enjoyable. Hungry? Short on time? It cooks in 1 minute. Supper, solved.
This is just one of several planned products in an all new range. I think I might need to ‘taste test’ them all.
Where to Buy? Now launched! Waitrose, Ocado, Sainsbury, Booths, more!
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White Rabbit Pizza Co. Smokin’ Vegan & Viva la Vegan Pizzas
Why So Good? These two vegan pizzas made with fresh, organic ingredients are simply fantastic. They were two of ten pizzas included within the taste test and still managed to stand out and scream “WE ARE AWESOME”. They were the only pizzas that I sneaked extra slices as they are so very, very lovely. Thin & crispy bases paired with beautiful & varied flavorsome toppings.
These vegan White Rabbit Pizzas are also, in a pure genius move, using MozzaRisella cheese. Zizzi and the wonderful Ask Italian use the same. MozzaRisella is the *the* vegan cheese you absolutely must try, vegans or non-vegans both! It is so very, very different to every other vegan cheese and it is a perfect match for the White Rabbit Pizzas. MozzaRisella is terribly tricky to buy direct but is the cheese that should decorate vegan pizzas everywhere. Everywhere!
Love the names too. I did shout VIVA LA VEGAN! at least once whilst eating.
Where to Buy? White Rabbit stockists
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Also seriously, follow these instructions
- Order a batch of MozzaRisella! Available online from Veggiestuff
- Get at least one SmokeyRisella and BlueRisella variety!
- Fall in love and decide that although all are super, BlueRisella is best. Other preferences are . . . . acceptable
- Write and thank me for this life changing discovery
Booja Booja Caramel Pecan Praline
Why So Good? It feels silly to even include Booja Booja in a list like this. Does anyone not know how wonderful Booja Booja are? They are a gold standard for deliciousness. If they make something it will be gorgeous. If they enter that something into a competition it is destined to be a winner.
Still, I have lots and lots of love for lesser found flavours and this variety of ice cream provides a powerfully pecan rich flavour that I absolutely adored. You can keep your common cashews and always around almonds. Give me pecans! This Booja Booja gives me pecans. Ooh, I wonder what would happen if one were to add a few Booja Booja Hazelnut Truffles to a bowl of this ice cream? <head explodes>
Where to Buy? Anywhere that does not hate gorgeous things Probably not available in Mordor.
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Gato & Co. Chocolate & Coconut Brownie Pot
Why So Good? Delighted that these arrive in reusable, recyclable glass pots rather than plastics. Maybe you can think of a reason you need lots of little glass pots so you can order lots of these? Then of course you will need to empty the contents first. Gosh, how could you do that?
The ingredient list is far simpler than many desserts. No E numbers, emulsifiers or preservatives. In fact nothing your grandmother would not recognize as food. Grandmothers would recognize chia seeds right? Okay, maybe as bird food. And the flavor? A refined balance of chocolate and sweetness. Mature and sophisticated and worth savoring a spoonful at a time.
Gato & Co. also make Chocolate and Aubergine and Orange & Cardamom Polenta puds so this one is the most conventional of all! I declare willingness to sample the others! Universe, Gandalf, Gata & Co, if you are listening . . . . .
Top tip. You can eat it cold but don’t, just don’t. It will still be nice but who wants nice? To really unlock the flavor and enjoy decadent eat it warmed up! Think goey, melted chocolaty goodness and rich cocoa aromas.
Awesome vegans please do note that these puddings do contain eggs. They are the only thing on this list that is not vegan.
Where to Buy? Right here.
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