Switching to a gluten and dairy free diet can be both rewarding and challenging. Whether out of necessity for reasons that include intolerance, IBS and Coeliac disease, or out of choice for weight management, a gluten free diet can be beneficial to digestion and wellbeing as well as encouraging you to consider less processed meal options. In addition, a dairy free diet can also encourage a healthier lifestyle; not only have dairy products been linked to worsening acne, they also increase mucus production in the body which can be very troublesome for conditions like asthma, hayfever and in my case chronic sinusitis. For me, a gluten and dairy free diet encourages me to read the label of everything I eat, to make better choices about which refined foods I put into my body.
Despite the health benefits and increasing popularity,
gluten and dairy free products are still relatively limited and many
lack both taste and potential nutrition. Hale and Hearty provide the
answer with their easy to use mixes available in both sweet and savoury
home baking favourites. They focus on the nutritional values of their
healthier-than-most Free From products, with the majority being high in
fibre, protein and wholegrains, and many containing omega-3 flax and
organic ingredients. Eggs and butter are required for most recipes, but
on the packages you’ll find helpful dairy free substitute ideas; as a
bonus their mixes contain no fructose or inverted sugars, so great if
you’re on the Low FODMAP Diet. I’ve been trying out a couple of mixes
from Hale and Hearty to see whether how they deliver on taste, texture
and ease of use.
The Chocolate Chip Cookie Mix (£2.19) is oat based and contains 8
certified organic ingredients. The box contains one big pack of dry
ingredients which is to be mixed with 1 egg and 50g of soft butter (I
used sunflower margarine), but also provides substitute ideas to make
the cookies suitable for vegans. The ingredients blended together
incredibly easily and within 2 minutes I was pressing walnut-sized
mixture balls onto greaseproof paper as instructed. After 10 minutes in
the oven I was presented with 8 chewy and oaty cookies. They were still
soft in the middle even after cooling, something which so many gluten
free biscuits lack, and had a chocolatey flapjack-like taste which meant
they didn’t last long before being eaten!
The Classic Vanilla
Sponge Mix (£2.59) is also presented in one pack of ingredients, but is
made with a blend of 3 gluten free flours and organic chocolate chips. I
added 2 eggs and 90g margarine as directed and blended the ingredients
into a batter, but was fancying muffins over a big sponge cake so
spooned the mixture into 5 silicone cases rather than a tin. This change
in method meant I had to guess the cooking time and they took a little
longer than expected at 20 minutes, but the tops were golden and a
skewer came out clean. I was very impressed with the texture of these
muffins – they were moist rather than crumbly and surprisingly filling
for a cake. With the inclusion of vanilla these do have more flavour
than a plain sponge, but next time when using this mix for muffins I
think I would follow one of the suggestions on the box to add lemon zest
or fresh raspberries for added flavour.
The Hale and Hearty
brand not only offer sweet mixes but also mixes for Falafel, Pizza
Bases, Stuffing and Bread. If you’re new to a Free From diet and looking
for something to ease you into the home cooking side, or are just
looking for different Free From foods to taste, I would recommend Hale
and Hearty’s range for something new.
Selections of Hale and Hearty products are available at Sainsburys, Tesco and Ocado, while a larger choice is available online at Auravita and Planet Organic.
Written by Kirsty Paterson