Miscellaneous Reviews

Hard Margarines

There are some block margarines out there which are edible, but you have to know where to look. Hard margarine is my favoured option over dairy-free spread for making pastry and crumble topping. It goes into the breadcrumb stage much more effectively than dairy-free spread because it is hard.

Rakusens Tomor

This one’s the bee’s knees. It’s a hard margarine designed for baking, and works brilliantly. It’s sometimes hard to find, though. Your best bet is to find a supermarket in an area with a high Jewish population, as it’s kosher.

Where to get it: Waitrose/Ocado or Jewish stores

Sainsbury’s own

Hard to find at times other than around Christmas: it seems people only bake at this time of the year these days. The good news is that it keeps for ages in the fridge and it freezes well. I stock up each year and keep my eyes open in case a batch comes in out of season

Where to get it:Sainsbury’s

Gotchas: Don’t use it on bread if you run out of dairy-free spread: not nice!.

Dairy-free Pastry

I tend to make my own shortcrust because it’s so easy with a food processor, but I use store-bought puff pastry for things like pies.

Jus-Roll

Jus-roll fresh pastry is dairy-free (at the moment – always check the ingredients) and good to use. They do both shortcrust and puff pastry. Both versions freeze well and defrost quickly if you seal the pack in a plastic bag and plunge the bottom into warm water.

Where to get it: Available from most supermarkets, including small Co-op stores.

Sainsbury’s own

Sainsbury’s own brand Fresh Puff Pastry, Shortcrust Pastry and Filo Pastry are all dairy-free and readily available. Being fresh the puff and shortcrust both freeze well.

Dairy-free breads

It can be difficult to find dairy-free bread. We’ll have some reviews here soon! In the meantime, we have ourown recipe

Suet

Atora make two usable versions: traditional beef suet and vegetarian suet. The beef version is always totally dairy-free. The vegetarian version you have to look carefully at the ingredients. Some use rice flour and hydrogenated vegetable oil which is fine, but some use vegetable fat which may or may not be O.K.. The problem is that you don’t know whether or not they really mean vegetable fat or whether they mean margarine, because some margarine contains skimmed milk powder and some doesn’t. This means that you have to check jars of mincemeat carefully. They are getting better at putting the full ingredients on the labels, but if in doubt I contact the company’s customer services department. A bit of persistence usually gets a definitive answer.

Where to get it: virtually any supermarket.

Mueslis and Granolas

Mueslis and granolas come in three sorts: the obviously toxic, the dreaded “may contain” and the ones that should be fine. In general, more granolas seem to be dairy free than mueslis. (I can’t eat most of those, however, as they almost all contain honey.) As with any product which is new to you, apply common sense and caution when first trying it and check the ingredients EVERY TIME you buy it. I have lost count of the times that something which has always been safe suddenly starts to have milk powder added to the ingredients.

In addition to whether or not these products are free from dairy products, there is also the issue of just how much sugar they contain. Be aware that the dietary information will list the percentage of the product which is sugar. (That’s the “per 100g” column.) That figure will be made up of the natural sugars in any fruit in the muesli as well as any added refined sugar. The total figure can be very high. Fruit is good for you, but feeding a bowl of some of these to a child will not necessarily be the healthy option which you might think it would be. To this end, when there is a muesli or granola which is free from dairy products, I have listed the percentage of sugars present in each. You can then make up your own mind about which to choose. My suggestion would be to put some granola, some sultanas or raisins and some plain, mixed flakes in a jar and to shake well. That way you reduce both the sugar content and the cost of each portion!

NOT OK

Alpen

Comes in lots of varieties. I’m afraid you can’t eat any of them. All have skimmed milk powder in them and are NOT safe. Be very careful if you are eating breakfast at a hotel. Many will be serving Alpen. If in doubt, always ask to see the ingredients.

Essential Waitrose Swiss Style Muesli

Based on Alpen. Contains skimmed milk powder. NOT safe.

Waitrose

Seriously Chocolatey Triple Chocolate Crisp
Has milk in the chocolate.

familia

swiss c.m.

No idea what the “c.m.” bit means, but it’s got milk in it, so who cares?

MAYBE

Jordans

As far as I can see, all Jordans breakfast cereals apart from their porridge oats, have the dreaded “may contain traces of…” phrase. The ingredients look fine, but it’s always safer not to risk it.

Eat Natural for breakfast

Another “may contain…” range. Best avoided.

Nestlé

All of the Oats & More range. There are lots of them, but they’re all labelled “may contain…”. Best avoided.

familia

swiss a.c.e.

Another posy name from familia. Labelled “may contain…”. Best avoided.

Dorset Cereals

Chocolate and macadamia nuts granola.
This has a “may contain traces of…” label for milk and, given the chocolate in the name, it may well be true. Best avoided.

OK

Alara

Active

This one’s organic and gluten free. It has no added sugar. The downside is that it looks like birdseed. Come to think of it, given it has both linseed and millet in it, in some ways it is birdseed. 5.4% sugars. 93.8p per 100g.

Goji and Yacon

Exotic bits in among the birdseed. No added sugar. 16.4% sugars. 50p per 100g.

Very Berry

All sorts of berries instead of the exotic stuff. No added sugar. 25.3% sugars. 79p per 100g.
Where to get it: Waitrose and large Tesco

Dorset Cereals

Several varieties of muesli,  all of which have a milk-free list of ingredients. All are expensive.

Berries and cherries. 41% sugars. Yes, really!! 46.3p per 100g.

Super nutty cranberry, cherry and almond. 31.4% sugars. 53.6p per 100g.

Fruits, nuts and seeds. Sweetened banana chips. 24.3% sugars. 41.2p per 100g.

Really nutty muesli. 12% . sugars. 46.4p per 100g.

Organic fruit, nuts and seeds. 18.9% sugars.

Fantastically Fruity Roasted and Toasted. Heavy on the fruit. Some of which is sweetened. 18.9% sugars. 65p per 100g.

Tasty toasted Spelt, Barley and Oat Flakes. Sugar on the flakes and the pineapple. 50p per 100g.

Super High Fibre. No added sugar. 41p per 100g.

Mixed Pack of single portions. 65p per 100g.

Then there’s a safe granola that I’ve found.

Honey granola. 13.1% sugars.
Where to get it: Waitrose

Fair Trade

Standard looking mix. Some sugar on sweetened banana chips. 19.9% sugars. 39.8p per 100g.
Where to get it: Waitrose

The Food Doctor

Organic Muesli Mix

Does what it says on the tin. No added sugar. 11.6% sugars. Expensive for what it is. 79.8p per 100g.
Where to get it: Waitrose

Kellogg’s Nature’s Pleasure

Almond, pecan and cashew. 16% sugars. 49.8p per 100g.

Raspberry and cherry. 20% sugars. 54.1p per 100g.
Where to get it:Waitrose

Lizi’s Granola

This comes in three different varieties. They are all apparently free from dairy products and are all expensive.

Organic luxury toasted cereal. (Nuts and seeds to you and me.) 10.2% sugars. 99.8p per 100g.

Pink apple and cinnamon granola. (Much as above but with apple.) 19.1% sugars. 87.3p per 100g.

Treacle and pecan granola. Has added treacle (as per the name).14.9% sugars. 79.8p per 100g.
Where to get it:Waitrose

Lovedean Granola

The Famous Original

Looks lovely. The design has gone for the homely and ideal family lifestyle product in a BIG way. It may well taste as good as it looks, but it’s very expensive. Has added honey. 13.1% sugars. £1.18 per 100g !!!

The Lite Fantastic

As above with added honey. 14% sugars. £1.18 per 100g.

Tangy Cranberry

Again as above, but with sweetened cranberries and added honey. 18.8% sugars. £1.18 per 100g.

These may well be very good, but they’d have to be outstanding to make them worth the price. A luxury product.
Where to get it:Waitrose

Pertwood Organics

This is a new name to me. I only found the one type, though their website assures me there are three. It has no added sugar or salt (ie. all the sugar content comes from the fruit).

Organic Granola Sultanas and Nuts.

Added sugar and honey. 23.8% sugars. 70.4p per 100g.

I’ve now found two of their mueslis.

Fruit and Seeds. No added sugar or salt. 12.2% sugars. 38.8p per 100g.

Banana and walnut. No added sugar or salt. 8.9% sugars. 70.4p per 100g.

where to get it: Waitrose.

Quaker Oats Oat Granola

Has two lots of sugar added, plus glucose syrup and honey. 26% sugars.

Rude Health Organic Muesli

The Early Bird

Standard looking muesli mix. No added sugar. 14.8% sugars. 57.5p per 100g.

The Ultimate

A luxury version of the one above. No added sugar. 12.2% sugars. 96p per 100g!
No Flamin’ Raisins

A fruit, nut and seed muesli with, as the name says, no raisins. No added sugar. 3.2% sugars. 63.3p per 100g.
Where to get it:Waitrose

Essential Waitrose Fruit Muesli

Mixed flakes and dried fruits. Some of the fruit is sweetened. 27% sugars. 27.4p per 100g for the boxes. 25.6p per 100g if you buy the kilo bag.

Essential Waitrose Fruit and Nut Muesli

As above, with mixed nuts. 24.1% sugars. 27.4p per 100g for the boxes. 25.6p per 100g if you buy the kilo bag.

Waitrose Maple and Triple Nut. Sugar on the “maple flavour” barley flakes. 24.1% sugars. 39.5p per 100g.

Waitrose Fruit and Seed. 39.5p per 100g.

Waitrose High Fibre Muesli. Sugar on the bran flakes. 29.3% sugars. 34.9p per 100g.

Waitrose Organic Muesli. 34.9p per 100g.

Waitrose Orchard Fruits and Berries. No added sugar, it’s all naturally in the fruits. 28.9% sugars. 39.5p per 100g.

Waitrose Oat Crunchy

Comes in several varieties, all without milk as far as I can tell. Haven’t tried them as I can’t eat honey! Do let me know whether they’re good or not.

Banana, papaya and honey. Has added sugar and honey. 21% sugars.

Blueberry and cranberry. Has added sugar and honey.26.1% sugars.

Honey, raisin and almond. Has added sugar and honey. 20.1% sugars.

Organic. Has added sugar and honey. 25.2% sugars.

Seriously nutty maple and mixed nut crisp. Has added golden granulated sugar, inverted sugar syrup, maple syrup and molasses. 20.4% sugars.

Seriously fruity mixed berry crisp. Has added golden granulated sugar. 27.3% sugars.

Dairy-free Biscuits

NOT OK

McVitie’s Digestive Biscuits

These used to be fine, but were adulterated with skimmed milk powder a year or so ago. Motto: always read the label!

Waitrose Essentials Digestive Biscuits

Disaster! These were our favourite biscuits for making cheesecake and Waitrose have gone and polluted them with milk! Most unfair! (I think that’s enough exclamation marks for one entry, so I’ll stop there.)

OK

Waitrose Essentials

Morning Coffee

These taste good and are small and nibblish. They are completely useless in a cheesecake base. They just don’t hold together. You’re left with a cheesecake which you can’t get off the plate except in dollops: not very attractive.

Ginger Nut

Bog standard ginger biscuit. Good and firm. Can be used to make a very tasty base for a baked cheesecake, but they can be very difficult to beat into submission to make crumbs! Beware, if you put fresh ginger biscuits into a food processor to crumb them from scratch, you’ll blunt your blade! Bash them hard first is my advice.

Fruit Shortcake

These are a family favourite. They do fill the back of the car with crumbs like few other biscuits I’ve come across, but they also taste really good!

Almond Biscuits

Bourbon Creams

Another fave. One of the very few “cream” biscuits which is dairy-free. Very more-ish.

Nice Biscuits

Rich Tea

These can make a successful cheesecake base, but they do tend to go into very fine crumbs and make a slightly softer base than digestives. They work better in a baked cheesecake than an unbaked one.

Shortcake Biscuits