Soy Free Belgian Chocolate Seashells at Kmart Australia

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Kmart EntranceI just realised that it has been ages since I last posted on here. I always plan on doing something for Christmas and the New Year but just about never get around to it – perhaps it’s (hopefully) a sign that I’m having a good time.

Most (if not all) of my readers would know by now that I’m a *strict* soy avoider. I strive to avoid all derivatives of soy including soy lecithin. If a product “may contain traces of soy” I generally ignore the warnings. Even so, remaining on a soy free diet is tremendously difficult in the 21st century.

So, like most years, on Christmas Day, I received a box of chocolates from a friend who I only just got to know a month or two ago.

Kmart Belgian Chocolate Seashells

Kmart Belgian Chocolate Seashells

At first I thanked her, sighed (while she wasn’t looking), and put them to the side. I never said anything about my gluten and soy sensitivities. After the crowd was gone (and just before I threw them in the bin) I checked the ingredient list. I was sure they would definitely be unsafe as belgian (and just about all other) chocolate has soy lecithin in it.

But… I stood corrected.

Ingredients: Sugar, Vegetable Fat, Cocoa Butter, Whole Milk Powder, Hazelnuts (7.8%), Dextrose, Cocoa Mass, Fat Reduced Cocoa Powder, Skimmed Milk Powder, Emulsifier: Sunflower Lecithin (E322), Natural Flavouring.

Allergen Advice: Contains Tree Nuts (Hazelnuts) and Milk.
May Contain traces of other Nuts, Peanuts, Soy and Gluten.

As printed on the back of the box:

Kmart Belgian Chocolate Seashells Ingredient Listing

Kmart Belgian Chocolate Seashells Ingredient Listing

Manufacturer unknown…

I was ecstatic. With this information, I decided to dive in head first and try the chocolates. I took one of each variety of seashell and indulged myself. I suffered no ill effects. The chocolates were delicious (just like the Guylian Seashells I used to eat when I was so little, which do contain soy lecithin) and others who tried them couldn’t tell the difference. It was so good to finally have discovered a soy free chocolate that might just be within easy reach for a while. I’ll be stocking up for sure.

For everyone here, we have an affordable soy free chocolate gift available to us in Australia at Kmart. Get in quick while stocks last!

Happy Soy Free Easter!!!

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Easter Sunday has arrived!!!

Well at least here in Oz, anyways ;)

AND of course…

So has the time for chocolate.

*   *   *   *   *   *

Earlier that morning I sat down by my desk and cried in total sadness and withdrawl. All week long I’ve been exposed to social situations where people have been handing easter eggs to each other, and sharing the joy of chocolate that always comes at this time of year – at least for most.

Unfortunately, for folks like myself who must vigilantly avoid soy, the Easter season becomes more of a test of determination and willpower than a celebration of any sorts.

Each and every year I spend countless hours at every supermarket, department store and retail outlet to find any chocolate treat that does not contain soy lecithin. Unlike some countries, *all* of the mainstream chocolate manufacturers in Australia use this wretched ingredient in virtually every chocolate product I’ve seen. Even *allergy-friendly* companies like Kinnerton and Sweet William have given virtually no consideration to those who suffer adverse reactions to soy (yet dairy, egg, nut, gluten and all other common allergen -free varieties are available). Quite pathetic, if you ask me! Especially for an allergen that is affecting many people, with even *trace* amounts of it causing life-threatening reactions. Just goes to show how notoriously powerful the soy industry has become (sigh). :?

Enough of the rant…

Now… for the good news… :)

*   *   *   *   *   *

Thankfully, I have some great friends who have done some work at searching for some treats that are not only safe for me but also taste great so that non-soy-allergic folk can also enjoy them.

*   *   *   *   *   *

Image

And guess what I got??

Amedei Easter Eggs!!!

Unfortunately I didn’t take any photos as there was no camera on me at the time, so instead I included a photo (to the left) sourced from King’s Fine Food, the company I had told these friends about about a year ago. And they ordered some Easter eggs that they happened to see on their website just a couple of weeks before Easter!! :D

There were three varieties of easter eggs – white, milk and dark chocolate. All had a nutty-cream filling inside. Shockingly, no one else in Australia (apart from my friend)  appears to have ordered these eggs before. Surely there must be a demand for high-quality soy free Easter chocolate over here, especially when it’s so ridiculously hard to find. Hopefully, with this post going live, they should gain some ground ‘down under’ future years. ;)

The stunningly amazing presentation and the exquisite taste (as with all Amedei Chocolate) of the easter eggs in their baskets made my day! Hopefully they will continue to stock these wonderful gluten free, soy free delights that so many more can treat their friends and family to something that is safe and delicious!

I’d like to take this opportunity to thank Amedei for their consideration for consumers like myself, and also Kings Fine Food for shipping the items Internationally. I plan on sampling some other products in the next month and should hopefully be able to blog some more on the high-quality products that are produced by this wonderful company that has not only developed a chocolate without the use of soy lecithin, but has also created some of the most outstandingly delicious chocolate in the world that even my friends have tried!

No soy products or gluten-containing cereals are used on premises. The eggs agreed with me very well, and I actually didn’t get sick on Easter Sunday for once!!! :D

As a result, of course, there will be no giveaways this time round! Sorry. :(

… But… please don’t leave this space, as more from this brand is on the way!

Now… Let me know, have you tried these yet? Or do you think you’ll check them out in the future?

Cadbury Twirl Bites (UK). Where to get them in Australia?

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As most of you would have probably guessed, I’ve developed quite an obsession with finding soy-free milk chocolates! Something I’d be able to have in order to remember my childhood years…

Recently I heard about a new product that was recently released in the UK (i.e. Cadbury’s Twirl Bites). According to their Nutrition Facts on the product, it appears to be both gluten free and soy lecithin free, as well as being free from all common allergens apart from milk.

Previously, I made a plea to the Chocolate Industry with regard to the fact that so many chocolates in the marketplace contain soy lecithin – an ingredient that most (if not all) soy allergic folk must avoid in their diets.

It also puzzles me as to why Cadbury Australia and Cadbury New Zealand continue to use soya lecithin in virtually *all* of their chocolates, when soy allergies are on the rise but particularly when the brand in the UK switched to using ammonium phosphatides (already some decades ago). Apparently the change occurred in order to eliminate a somewhat undesirable taste that soya lecithin typically imparts in chocolate. [1]

That been said, it may be worth knowing that the UK brand Cadbury’s chocolate does contain proprietary vegetable fats – an additional ingredient which recently infuriated the local Aussie and Kiwi chocoholics when recently added to our local products manufactured by this multinational corporation. Remarkably enough, they seemed to take customer feedback seriously enough to revert back to the original ([vegetable fat]-free) recipe. They claimed that they were reverting to a “cocoa-butter-only” recipe. Of course, the presence of soya lecithin and PGPR never changed during this time. In fact, it seems as though soya lecithin has recently been added to both their flake bars and Pascall Eclairs, both of which used to not contain any soy at all! :(

So much for the “Cocoa-Butter-Only” claim. Sounds similar to the wretched scam that Whittaker’s continues to make.

That all said, my quest for the perfect soy free chocolate is far from over. And in fact, I have recently found an Australian chocolate maker, Slitti, that uses pure chocolate (i.e. soy-free) couverture in making various treats and products. I have yet to try their products, but will report back some time down the track as I find out more.

Meanwhile, if any of you have been able to source these tasty-looking Twirl bites here in Australia, I’d love to hear from you; even any other really good soy-free chocolate suggestions will always be most welcome. I’d also love to hear what you think (if you happen to be in the UK) of the Twirl Bites if you’ve tried them?

[1] Sourced from Google Books – Robert J. Whitehurst, Emulsifiers in Food Technology p226

Coeliac Disease, Giving in, Finding new recipes and Chocolate…

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Sorry it has been so long since I last posted. Unfortunately so much has been happening, from weddings to functions to travel around the country and all the rest of it, I’ve barely been able to keep up with much at all.

To sum up:

Firstly, I really need to get better at ‘saying no’.

As some of you would be aware, from earlier posts, I have been following a gluten free diet for a little over 13 years. I am a diagnosed coeliac and have excluded gluten from my diet for all this time.

I had always notice that when I do consume small amounts of gluten (i.e. less than 1/100th of a piece of bread worth of gluten) I don’t seem to have a problem at all.

Just after easter, I was served croutons and was told they were gluten free. I wasn’t so sure as they tasted a little different but I kept eating away. I noticed I had slightly more flatulence that evening and some extremely ‘slight’ symptoms but I was in no way unwell.

As I normally avoid gluten like the plague for all this time, however, I had forgotten what a normal slice of cake tastes like in comparison to gluten free slices of cake. I can often tell whether a cake is gluten free or not just by looking at the texture of it when it’s cut.

So I asked myself this question: “What if I’m at a gathering? And an irresistibly yummy normal cake is on offer? And I decide to have a slice for myself?”

I assumed that my reaction would be minimal. But I stood corrected, as was evidenced by the reaction I had had to the piece of cake. Within 4 hours I had quite a sore stomach and not long after I had trouble keeping my balance due to joint pain. This reaction went on for about 5 days (have no Idea about whether there was any soy in it, however the real problem was the gluten). Thankfully the reception was over before I got really sick. However, I must say that wheaten cakes were quite different in texture to the typical gluten free cakes out there. They tend to have a more craggy appearance and taste and often tend to satisfy my cravings far more than their gluten free counterparts.

This, in turn, has led me to research how to get a typical ‘cakey’ texture on gluten free cakes so they are hard to tell apart. I began by asking questions on social networking sites as well as many other places on the web. Of all the suggestions, I managed to find two great ideas. One which involves a cake mix and another which is flourless and can be baked from scratch.

source: Sun Flour Mills

Sun Flour Mills – Based in Idaho (in the USA), they produce a variety of gluten free mixes (including an Award-Winning chocolate cake mix which apparently is to die for (I have yet to order and try it myself but if it turns out well, I’ll be sure to review it here).

 

 

 

Flourless Chocolate Cake - Gluten and Nut Free

Thanks to Almost Bourdain, I have also found a Flourless Chinese Five-Spice Chocolate Cake recipe that does not utilise ANY grain or nut flours in it’s recipe at all. Again, I have yet to try this out, however this simple recipe makes the perfect delight for any occasion. Just be sure that the chocolate is soy free. I use Cadbury’s Old Gold 70% chocolate instead of Lindt for cooking here in Australia, but other brands work well too.

I also meant to review some Amedei chocolates I received but ate it all up too quickly. It was DELICIOUS! Some of my favourite chocolate I’ve come across in my life. I certainly recommend ordering some for yourselves (which can easily be done at King’s Fine Foods (UK), where I got the best price for this exquisite delight). More is on the way and I plan to do a comprehensive review in the coming weeks.

And, of course, I will try harder to stay clear of the wheaty cakes and croutons. ;)

A plea to the chocolate industry

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Most of us love treating ourselves to the occasional chocolate treat, or munching on the tempting chocolate easter eggs and bunnies that haunt us soy-allergic folk as the secular time of year approaches us.  Although we can often get our delicious cocoa-flavoured treats in other forms (i.e. Chocolate Flavoured Ice Creams, Chocolate Syrups, Hard Tops, etc.), nothing beats the taste of a traditional chocolate bar.

And things certainly don’t get any easier as the Easter season approaches.  Therefore it is with great dismay that I report the ongoing ‘fad’ ingredient used within the food industry which renders so many of our favourite foods off the soy free menu – soy lecithin.  We can tolerate such ingredients in *some* foods, like a few supplements, ice cream cones and oil sprays – but chocolate? Come on. Give us a break.

As with each year, I have (once again) encountered this ingredient in virtually all manner of Easter chocolates on the market; white, milk, dark and even most 85% origin-specific treats.  I can only conclude that its use in chocolate is for nothing more than simply ‘thinning out’ I highly doubt these bars could possibly retain their quality with the presence of this ingredient made from the left-over sludge that is extracted from cheap, possibly unhealthy soy bean oils. It also appears that many of these chocolatiers will not voluntarily expose the presence of soy lecithin in their products and whenever you care to tour the typical chocolate factory, you will rarely see or hear any information about soy’s role in chocolate. Most authentic and respected (albeit expensive and international) brands like Amedei and Theo keep all emulsifiers out of their factories thus making their treats suitable for us soy-allergic folk.  Shame no one seems to be willing to carry quality chocolate over here in the land ‘Down Under’! Perhaps our Australian market readily accepts second-best in everything and many just don’t take these factors into consideration, unlike other western countries.

But it also leaves us soy-avoiders in doom over what should be such a joyful season. Don’t the makers of these delights want to spread the joy to others too? If we have to avoid all chocolate all because of one ‘common’ emulsifier that is added in tiny amounts to everything, I must say ‘what a shame’. Shame on the chocolate industry for that matter, particularly when a number of them now make fine dairy-, nut- and sugar-free chocolates; yet so few even bother to address a basic ingredient that could easily be removed, or even replaced with more functional emulsifiers that now exist such as ammonium phosphatides or other forms of lecithin that for once actually don’t come from this pervasive food substance that so many of us are now needing to avoid (if they even need to be used, that is)! :(

So please, chocolatiers, take pity on the soy allergic and intolerant and stop emulsifying everything in your range with lecithin from such a dangerous, common allergen that’s now virutally in *everything*!

A Long, Awaited Greeting for 2011

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Greetings for the new year – 2011!

No, blogging was not neglected in December 2010; it was subsequently delayed . . . with travel, new discoveries, and *dicey* internet access.  Hopefully it was a great holiday season for all.

Just took a trip up north [north of Brisbane (luckily!!!)] and discovered some interesting soy-free products during my travels…  I shall post about a unique chocolate discovery (who here doesn’t like chocolate? heh.)

Anthon Berg Soft Dark (57% Cacao) Chocolate Bar - INGREDIENTS: cocoa mass, sugar, cocoa butter, emulsifier (canola/rape lecithin). MAY CONTAIN TRACES OF NUTS AND MILK

Anthon Berg manufactures 3 dark chocolate blocks (57%, 72% and 81% CACAO), all of which are free of gluten and soy (according to the ingredients listed below the image – though it may be worth noting that soya lecithin and milk are used in some other products) and have the same, great taste one would expect of any dark chocolate. Personally, my favourite was the 57% cacao (extra-dark varieties (>70% cacao) have not yet quite appealed to me.  Years ago, I would have not considered a block even this dark, however one notable difference between the ingredients in this series of chocolate blocks is that there are no added natural or artificial flavours present meaning that there is no vanilla flavouring added at all.  It is also pleasing to see companies using alternative forms of lecithin other than that derived from soybeans *all the time* as well!

Ammonium Phosphatides vs Soya Lecithin in Chocolate

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One common use of soya lecithin - Chocolate

One common use of soya lecithin - Chocolate

Chocolate is, has always been, and will continue to be, one of my favourite treat.  It is like no other. I especially like smooth chocolate, milk chocolate being my favourite!  The trouble, however, is that it is almost always emulsified with a common additive known as lecithin (additive E322, used for the purpose of controlling the viscosity of the end product). As soy is the least expensive and most readily available form of lecithin, it is virtually always used when this respective 322 additive is needed.  Sadly, this applies to chocolate big-time!

There are many studies out there that ‘apparently show that soya lecithin does not present a problem to most soy-allergic individuals, as all the ‘proteins’ are usually removed in the refining process. Unfortunately these conclusions are not valid for me.  I have to avoid all soy ingredients as you may have guessed from one of my earlier posts on discovering a soy-friendly chocolate bar from Cadbury UK.

This now leads me onto another topic, which is on Ammonium Phosphatides.  They are becoming more widely used as a common emulsifier, mainly in the United Kingdom, as an alternative to lecithin (a product usually derived from soy).  At present, it is most commonly used as an emulsifying additive in chocolate bars and blocks.  This additive is, at present, being used by Cadbury (UK only) in the production of their milk chocolate products.

The most interesting part is that, according to many organisations, it appears that evidence suggests that ammonium phosphatides works even more effectively than lecithin derived from soybeans.  It certainly does appear to work well in producing great quality chocolates that even soy-allergic/intolerant individuals can enjoy, so I’m all for it as it means there actualy ARE smooth, mouth-melting soy free milk chocolates around! :D

Here are a few links to more interesting facts I recently found from my investigations (I shall regularly edit/update these based on findings):

Lecithin – The Natural Choice of Emulsifier for the Chocolate and Confectionery industry (The Solae Company)

Ammonium Phosphatide (E 442) Approved For Use in the US:

Palsgaard – Ammonium Phosphatide as an alternative:


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