I went to my first ever Allergy show in Dublin last week – the Allergy and Free From Expo. This is the first time to my knowledge that there has been anything of this sort in Ireland. I was very excited to go along, take in some seminars, try some products and hopefully to learn lots. To date most of what I have learnt about allergies, intolerances and living free from has come from my own research and experience. A dedicated area full of knowledgable experts, chefs and manufacturers that cater specifically for free from foods and products would be like a wonderland, I really had high hopes for what I would get out of the day.
It didn’t disappoint. The expo was very well organised and laid out. The seminar list and times and the cookery demo list and times were available beforehand online so I was able to plan ahead. I chose one seminar I definitely wanted to go to, one cookery demo and a list of about 20 stands I wanted to visit. Making the list and a note of the times beforehand was well worthwhile. It was so busy once I got there, lots of stands to visit and people to talk to and having a timetable and a list made it much easier.
On the face of it, it seemed as if many of the foods were solely gluten free. Many have ‘gluten free’ within their name or their tag line and mention nothing about dairy or egg etc., often I had to ask to find out for sure if the products were also dairy free. I had looked at the list of stands beforehand and made a list of those I knew to be dairy free or those which said dairy free in the list. I spoke to nearly all these while I was there and discovered so many products new to me.
Bad Reactions to Good Food
I really enjoyed the seminar from Dr. Joe Fitzgibbon entitled: ‘Bad Reactions to Good Food’.
He used the food pyramid and explained allergies and intolerances in clear concise terms. One of his key messages was that there is no simple test for food intolerance. It cannot be diagnosed by a blood test or skin prick test. He explained that some intolerances can only be diagnosed by the symptoms. He used the example of a patient with an allergy to potatoes, which would be extremely rare, but the symptoms being present as a result of eating the food was enough to diagnose. Another key message and a very important one is that there is no substitute for adrenaline in the case of anaphylaxis. I really enjoyed the seminar, it cemented what I already knew about allergies and intolerance and I picked up some new information too.
Keith Kenny Cookability
Chef Keith Kenny showed how to make a delicious noodle broth, bruschettas and a seafood platter. The audience got to taste the food as he completed each item, and they were very simple to prepare but absolutely delicious. Keith Kenny has written a dairy and gluten free book entitled Cookability. The cooking demos were a big part of the expo and I could’ve spent hours simply attending these if there wasn’t so much else to see.
Products I Liked
Iswari sells raw organic superfoods. They are based in Cork but all their products are available to order online. I tasted their raw chocolate, the mint flavour. It is very rich and delicious.
It was lovely to meet the team from Maria Lucia Bakes and Maria herself. I tasted the delicious Cashew, Almond & cinnamon granola which is my favourite. The granola is available in Supervalus, health stores and Avoca outlets. Full list here.
I spoke to the team at Caffrey’s Chocolate who are now the distributors of Moo Free chocolate in Ireland. Moo Free should be much more widely available in the supermarkets and health stores from now on. The advent calendars should be available in Dunnes Stores in the next week or two. More on this soon.
I wrote about the Honest product range when I had a chance to try them at the Ploughing Championships, but they had even more of their range at the allergy expo. The banana and coconut cake deserves a special mention, it is absolutely delicious I love the blend of flavours. These are available in some Supervalus, mostly in the west of Ireland, and in health shops also and should be more widely available soon.
Lazy Day foods had a display with many of their products. These are dairy, egg and gluten free. I especially liked the peppermint slice which I tasted. Some of the range is available in Supervalu, and you can get the products in health stores too.
Allergy Lifestyle had a stand with a huge range of allergy products, everything from Epipen cases to armbands and lunchboxes denoting allergens, to storybooks explaining allergies. You can order any of this range directly from their website.
Cornucopia restaurant on Wicklow street in Dublin, had a stand with samples of delicious dairy free cakes, and some of their dips. I tasted the chocolate raspberry cake it was divine. I also tasted their hummus and their pate of the day, absolutely delicious, I will be heading there next time I’m in Dublin for lunch with the family.
I tried two of the new Nobó ice-cream flavours – Salted Caramel and Passion Fruit and Mango flavours, both very nice but the Salted Caramel is definitely my favourite.
Top tips for attending an Allergy Show:
Make a list of your ‘must sees’. If you really want to hear a particular person speak make sure you have a note of the time, it is a really busy day so you will forget otherwise.
Bring a notebook to take notes if you are at a seminar or a demo, or to note the brand names of products that you are interested in. Again, you are taking in a lot of information in a short space of time so notes are a Godsend.
Double check ingredients when tasting – If someone doesn’t seem sure whether something is free from your particular allergen, double check or ask to see packaging before assuming it will be fine.
Ask the producers where their goods are stocked. If you don’t have a local stockist they might give you a card and you can ask your local health shop or supermarket to stock it.
Take a card or leaflet about goods or services you are interested in, as there are so many you won’t remember details but at least you can always e-mail or phone for more information later on.
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