Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ll have noticed that ‘free-from’ food is the latest craze to sweep over the western culinary world. Take a walk through pretty much any supermarket and you’ll see whole aisles dedicated to free-from products, and health bloggers’ posts these days are rarely seen without the hashtags #dairyfree #glutenfree, or #wheatfree. But there’s a lot of confusion about what free-from really entails. Should we all be eating it? Or is it just another fad like paleo, a ‘superfood’ like kale and chia?
Eating a strict gluten-free diet is the only treatment for sufferers of coeliac disease. Coeliac disease is when the immune system reacts to gluten – a protein which is found in wheat, barley and rye. But only 5-10% of coeliacs are actually diagnosed, meaning many of us could be walking around with a gluten intolerance completely unaware. You don’t even have to be a coeliac to be sensitive to gluten. Gluten can make the lining of the small intestine inflamed, meaning that it’s harder for the body to absorb essential nutrients. If you’ve noticed symptoms such as fatigue, headaches, stomach cramps or bloating, you could be experiencing gluten sensitivity. Gluten is most commonly found in carbohydrates like bread, pasta, cereal, pastries, biscuits and cakes, but many other processed foods too, like soups, shop-bought sauces and sausages. Cutting down on your gluten intake could well leave you feeling more energised and trim.
Wheat-free products often fall under the same category as gluten, as gluten is mostly found in wheat, yet there is a slight difference between the two, as someone who is sensitive to wheat might be able to tolerate other grains such as oats and rye. Someone suffering from a wheat allergy might encounter more pronounced symptoms, such as infections, asthma, eczema, acne or joint pains, as well as fatigue and abdominal pain. Nutritional problems can arise when the body mistakes a protein in the wheat as something foreign and dangerous, and has trouble digesting it. So as well as watching out for produce containing gluten, someone sensitive to wheat would be advised to avoid burgers, meat spreads, anything battered or in breadcrumbs, most desserts, and chocolate.
That brings us to dairy-free. Health obsessives have been avoiding dairy for years, as it’s known for bringing about digestive, skin and inflammatory problems. An intolerance to dairy is less severe than a full on allergy, where even the tiniest amount of milk proteins in the system can trigger bloating, vomiting or stomach upset. The inability to digest lactose or break down milk proteins is more common amongst us than you’d think, but each individual is different and some might be able to consume refined dairy products, such as live yoghurt or cottage cheese, while others should be cutting dairy out completely. Nutritionists have claimed that up to a staggering 75% of the world’s population could be suffering from at least mild lactose intolerance. Furthermore, products that are heavy on dairy contain high amounts of saturated fat, which is linked to heart disease. You might thing that cutting out dairy from your diet would be tricky, as it’s such a large food group – not just the obvious products such as butter, yoghurt, cream and ice cream, but most breads, biscuits, desserts, chocolate, sauces, margarine and spreads contain it too.
For those not suffering from coeliac disease, or those not diagnosed with dairy or wheat allergies, it might seem like an odd thing to do to incorporate free-from into your diet. But it’s not as hard as you might think, with products like gluten-free pasta, wheat-free cereal, and almond and coconut milk making delicious and easy substitutions. Plus, you’ll reap the health benefits too, with smooth-running digestion, vats more energy and clearer skin. No one is saying that you have to cut out every single bit of wheat, gluten or dairy from your diet – life’s too short to tirelessly check over labels or turn down a slice of your friend’s birthday cake. But cutting back, and swapping your usual produce for free-from food could make such a difference to your lifestyle, not just your diet. As long as you’re still maintaining a healthy vitamin and calcium intake and getting your essential nutrients, going ‘free’ might help you feel and look a million dollars.
It is understandable to be worried that substituting your favourite food product for something free-from might mean sacrificing quality, too. Debbie & Andrew’s are here to prove us wrong. The celebrated brand is renowned for delivering high-quality, delicious pork sausages using the finest meat from Harrogate and Sicily. Their latest addition is a succulent, delicious, wonderfully tender Caramelised Red Onion Pork sausage. Having read above that sausages are a product to be wary of one might assume that they’d be a no-go, but Debbie & Andrew’s have taken into account the increasing demand for free-from products in everyday cooking, and their new sausage tastes irresistible while managing to cut out all problem ingredients at once. Those with food sensitivities have struggled for years to maintain a normal diet, but with the introduction of foods such as Debbie & Andrew’s wheat, gluten and dairy free Caramelised Red Onion Pork sausage, they can enjoy a previously off-limits food, without falling short on taste and flavour. In fact, those without food sensitivities can incorporate products like this into their diet regularly too, to make a healthier choice while making absolutely no compromise on quality.
It might be wheat, gluten and dairy free, but this sausage is definitely not free from beautiful taste. All ingredients are prepared from scratch, only the best cuts of pork used, and the red onions are pan fried with muscovado sugar for a deep caramelising flavour and a natural sticky sweetness. The meat is then infused with balsamic, nutmeg and warming spices, lending the end product a wonderfully dark and savoury finish. The careful and authentic method gives you a real taste of the country, in a way that only Debbie & Andrews can. It’s hard to believe that the product is free-from, but the brand’s commitment to producing first class flavour using only the finest meat means that you really can indulge, worry free! If you’d like to eat well without ingredients that make you unwell, then try this belter of a banger that will have you switching to free-from options for life.
*Visit http://www.debbieandandrews.co.uk for more info*