Free From Christmas festival

Yesterday Sunday 14th December was the very first Free From Festival in London. Organised by Freefromfestival The venue was BL_NK in Old street, East London and had an entrance fee of £5 which could be purchased online or at the door. It was a cash only event with live music and stalls open from 10.30 until 5.30pm Offering all kinds of free from products, dairy free, gluten free, sugar free, wheat free etc


My gluten free purchases.




Bread from Romeo’s Bakery.


I bought my tickets in advance and then also won a couple more just a few days before the event. When I realised where in London it was I nearly decided not to go, its quite a trip from Dorking Surrey! But my husband kindly offered to drive me as he was also keen to come along.

We arrived in east London at 11.30am on the most beautiful sunny day, extremely cold and blustery but a lovely day for a drive through the centre of London and over Tower bridge. I took in all the sights as if I was on a sight seeing tour bus.

Parking proved to be very easy, we found a free parking space in an adjacent road. BL_NK was quite easy to spot on Old street but there were no Free From Festival signage. There was though a welcomer who was on the door to make sure you didn’t miss the venue. It would be good to see a large banner next year. I’m sure more people would have come in, if it had been more clear what was going outside.

Outside were 3 stalls, I felt for them because it was bitterly cold. A stall selling the most delicious looking buckwheat pancakes with delicious savoury and sweet fillings available.



A wine stall called L’ATYPIQUE



Selling natural wines @LATYPIQUEWINES

and a Polenta stall selling hot sliced polenta La Polenteria  I didn’t explore the stall which I regret .




The extreme cold and wind drove us inside quickly. After checking out the website today, I wish I had tried some. Maybe next year!

Inside in the warm were some interesting looking stalls. It was as I had expected, relatively small. But this was the first year and I’m sure by next year year there will be more stalls eager to be part of this exciting event so near to Christmas. A perfect opportunity to show off your Christmas products etc.

Freego  a gluten free online shop offering ‘the worlds best gluten free’ They search out the best gluten free products to offer on the site. At the festival there were mince pies, christmas puddings, bread mixes and posh chocolates that were also dairy free. There were samples of things to try including the mince pies which were very good. This is a site I haven’t used yet, but after chatting yesterday I certainly will go online and have a look.





Romeo’s gluten free bakery The bread looked absolutely delicious there was an array of sizes and types of bread including onion, seeded, foccacia etc. I bought two small loaves for the family. Unfortunately I am also yeast intolerant so I couldn’t try the bread but my son and husband said it was some of the nicest gluten free bread they had tried. We wish we had bought far more to put in the freezer.



Mini Magoos is allergy free award winning cereals . We bought some granola to try which looked very nice. The main ingredient appears to be toasted coconut flakes with blue agave nectar, almonds etc




Conscious Organic raw chocolate had five new flavours to try and buy. with an offer if you bought 4 bars , So I did!

All chocolate is gluten free dairy and refined sugar free. some are sweetened with rice syrup some with agave nectar .



Elvira’s secret pantry was an artisan italian bakery gluten free, dairy free and yeast free. Also some cakes were made using birch sugar ( xylitol ) I chose a selection of 3 mini cakes in a beautiful box . The pumpkin and chocolate cake I found quite dry and crumbly, I preferred the carrot and pistachio cake which was a little more moist . Elvira also sold quiches etc and other savoury products which looked very nice. All products were well displayed and presented.  The cakes contain lots of veggies, nuts etc . You can find Elvira at Crystal palace food market.





Pistachio and carrot cake

Pistachio and carrot cake


Foodamentalists I have been following this company for a while now on Twitter but not managed to meet the man behind this exciting company so it was good to meet Steven and have a chat about the company and plans for the future. The company is 100 % gluten free . The stall was packed with delicious looking products from sweet christmas treats like mince pies and Christmas cakes, savoury pies and delicious looking pork pies. A selection of foodamentalists mixes to were for sale. Worth coming to the festival for this stall alone! We chose lots of goodies to take home for the freezer and Christmas goodies to eat over the next couple of weeks. Including a very lovely looking Christmas cake.





Love bites A raw organic vegan stall, selling fresh salads, juices and chocolate tart. Can you guess what I chose!




Antillia delights a stall selling a selection of well labeled wheat free, gluten free and dairy free bakes. My worry here was that the wheat free products were made using organic Spelt flour . I queried this at the time and checked again on twitter today. My understanding is that spelt flour is still considered a type of wheat ! I was also then concerned about the gluten free cakes being made in the same location. I was given a helpful reply on twitter from @antilliadelight ” GF items are prepared apart from WF items and as GF is a very serious concern extra caution is taken to prevent cross contamination”

I didn’t feel confident at the time to buy anything from this stall although everything looked very good and well displayed.

LiveSmart 360 chocolate with a purpose…. this was a stall selling chocolate with extra health benefits. This was very expensive. not really sure about this.

As with most gluten free and free from products all the stalls were quite pricey with the exception of Foodamentalists who were good value for money.

Would I visit again next year? Yes,  I think I would make the trip if I knew there were a few more stalls confirmed . I would be particularly be interested in a grain free low sugar stall. Possibly a bigger venue might be needed too.




We queued outside for one of the buckwheat wraps. Mine had egg, cheese and spinach. Really delicious and thrilling to be able to eat out from a stall, with so many intolerances this Never happens.


We took them back inside and listened to more live music. They were really delicious and perfect on a freezing day.

Follow Free from festival Twitter here > freefromfestival

Facebook > freefromfestival

Here’s hoping for an even bigger and better event next year






Review of Food by Helen’s gluten free mixes

I was pleased to bake, taste and review Food by Helen mixes . This brand was new  to me, only recently spotted it on Twitter so was keen to find out more.

The brain child of Food by Helen is  Helen O’Dowd a qualified nutritionist and food scientist.

I have been able to try the gluten free chocolate cup cake mix and the crumble mix and also sampled the seeds for cereal. In a later blog post I will bake and review Helen’s bread mix.


Firstly I decided to make an apple crumble using Helen’s mix. It was very simple to make the instructions were easy to follow.



The millet flour felt quite different to use, a slightly gritty texture. The butter rubbed in easily and I added to my cooked apple.


I pressed the crumble down lightly and popped in a pre heated oven


The crumble was a great success, it had a good crunch to the crumble. Something I struggle with when I make from scratch using gluten free flour.

I thought the crumble had a distinctive flavour quite different from my regular crumble, not sure I really liked it. My family on the other hand gave the crumble a big thumbs up they didn’t notice any difference with the flavour. They loved the texture and would buy again especially at the fair price of £1.99

Next I made the chocolate gluten free cup cakes


Once again the instructions were easy to follow, just add 4 eggs, butter and water. It was good to see butter suggested as the fat choice as opposed to vegetable oil or margarine. Sadly the first ingredient mentioned is sugar , higher even than the rice flour. Pleased to see Helen also does mention on the reverse of the packet that these are meant as a treat for a party or other special occasion, rather than an every day food.


I enjoy making cakes by hand so I didn’t take Helen’s advice to use a mixer, I was very pleased with the results.




The cakes were a real success. I followed the instructions to make the buttercream icing.The ingredients are not provided in the packet.

My testers the family thought they had a good texture and a strong chocolatey flavour. Possibly more adult cup cakes rather than for children. They loved the buttercream too. looks like a big thumbs up again for Helen’s cup cake mix. My family eat both gluten free and gluten filled cakes so make good Guinea pigs.

As someone living completely gluten free I would agree the cakes tasted light and had a deep chocolate flavour.

The mix costs £2.69 to this you need to add eggs, butter and icing sugar for the butter cream

Finally I tested out Helen’s Seeds for cereal a topping to add to cereal, porridge , yoghurt etc containing milled linseed with sesame. the one I tried had blueberry and cranberry added.


I tried mine sprinkled on yoghurt , it is a very fine powder and would be easily lost on top of granola. so great to add to children’s porridge etc


I think if you are looking to add more omega 3 and fibre to your diet this is an easy way. At a cost of £2.79

If you would like to follow Food by Helen she is on twitter here

I look forward to trying the bread mix very soon.