Happy new year! I do hope you're all getting used to writing 2014, instead of 2013. I'll still be getting it wrong in April, but that's nothing new! Before I rush, head first, into the brand new year ahead, I thought I'd take a moment to look back at the highlights of 2013. Predictably, my favourite bits are all food related.
The absolute best bit of 2013, for me, was my trip to River Cottage for their gluten free cookery course. As well as completely changing the way I approach my baking, it showed me how removing the gluten from something doesn't automatically require me to add loads of rubbish in its place. I've embraced many more grains and different gluten free flours than before, and I've even made my own sourdough starter! I'm dropping serious hints to my family about the advanced course that's running in August (coincidentally, just after my birthday)!
The most moreish cake of the year was Honeyrose Bakery's Banana Cake. They sent me a sample back in April and I'd eaten the entire thing before I had a chance to photograph it! In fact, I've bought many more banana cakes since then, and they all seem to magically disappear in a matter of minutes. The Husband doesn't even like banana, so I can't blame him - this cake really is good! Actually, all of the free from products I've tried from Honeyrose Bakery are excellent. I particularly love their individually wrapped brownies and macaroons, I can pop a couple in my bag for peckish moments when I'm out and about!
Back in Spring, I started to notice that Asda's distinctive yellow and black free from packaging was being used for non-gluten-free products, and wondered what was going on. (In the spirit of full disclosure, I work for Asda, but until 2013 I had very little in the way of praise for their gluten free offerings.) I was delighted to discover, however, that they were phasing out the old packaging to make way for an extended range of free from products, in new purple packaging! As well as their own-brand products (of which, the cheese sauce mix and cous cous are my personal favourites) they have introduced an increased range of products from other producers, like Isabel's and The Good Little Sausage Company. Well done, Asda! Now when people ask me what I think about my employers' own gluten free effort, I don't have to change the subject.
Eating pizza has never been better for us gluten free types, has it? Pizza Express and Pizza Hut showed the rest how it should be done, and Dominos did all they could to encourage us to eat our pizza at home! I don't know what 2014 holds for Coeliacs eating out, but the brand new Free From Eating Out Awards are sure to reveal a few gems.
Speaking of the Free From Food Awards (at least, indirectly), one of the highlights of last year's awards ceremony was the opportunity to try the Indian Coeliac's fabulous parathas. They are available to order, and I really do recommend you try them too. As the judging starts soon for this year's awards, I'm excited about what brilliant products I'm going to discover this time!
So, what were your free from highlights of 2013? Was it the chance to eat a decent bagel again? Maybe it was gluten free pasta turning up in the fresh food aisle of the supermarket? Could it have been the much discussed quarter final of The Great British Bake Off and its free from elements? Or, was it something else altogether? Let me know in the comments section!