Natural chef Ceri Jones has been testing our Harrogate 97% and New Caramelised Red Onion Pork Sausages......

Food intolerances and allergies are on the upswing. It is estimated by the UK Food Standards Agency that 21 million people in the UK suffer from at least one type of allergy, including up to 8% of children and 2% of adults. Now more than ever, we are aware how our food makes us feel, and many of us are choosing to cut down on gluten and dairy to “feel better”. In response, the “free from” industry has grown exponentially in recent years. The UK “free-from” market is currently worth an estimated £238m, according to retail analyst Kantar Worldpanel, and it seems new products are being developed almost daily to meet customer demands.

Let's go back a step and look at what allergies and intolerances actually are, since they are not one and the same.

An allergic reaction is when the body’s immune system has an immediate reaction to a substance. Common food allergens are nuts, eggs, fish, shellfish, soya and milk. Coeliac disease is an autoimmune disease, where the body attacks its own immune system. This immune reaction is only triggered by gluten – a protein found in wheat, barley and rye.

An intolerance, however, can often manifest as digestive disturbance and many take hours or days to show in the body. Lactose (the natural sugar in milk), as well as gluten, is a common intolerance.

With lactose intolerance, the guidelines for dairy avoidance can be murky. For example, cream and butter (also clarified butter and ghee), as well as sheep or goat milk products can be lower in lactose, so they can sometimes be tolerated. It must be established whether the casein in dairy (the protein) is the problem, if so all dairy should be avoided – whether high or low lactose!

Food allergies and coeliac disease don’t have a medical cure, but avoiding all allergens means sufferers can happily live symptom free. It’s always best to speak with a healthcare professional to establish the exact needs of your diet, particularly to make sure you are replacing any nutrients lost from cutting out a food group.

As a Natural Chef, it’s my job to use all these restrictions and limitations and turn them into culinary opportunities. Following a gluten free diet myself has encouraged me to experiment with many different naturally gluten-free flours, many of which have excellent nutritional profiles, textures and tastes.

Throughout my natural chef training I learnt many clever tips and tricks to make cooking around allergies a breeze. How to thicken a sauce without flour (arrowroot), what to do without breadcrumbs (use ground almonds), and just how to get the creaminess you crave from dairy (try an avocado or tahini paste). My philosophy is to start with foods in their most natural form, rather than a manufactured replacement. This why I often replace pasta with courgettes, suggest making your own flour blends which are lower in starch, and substitute ground almonds or whole nuts for breadcrumbs rather than gluten free bread.

Sausages are so very versatile; they can be dressed up indulgently or virtuously served with heaps of vegetables. They can be substituted for mince and cuts of meats in your favourite recipes, and children love them too. Indulgent, delicious, and brilliantly suitable for many “free from” diets, these new Caramelised Red Onion Pork Sausages, like their 97% pork sausage siblings (popular for 15 years!), are wheat, gluten and dairy free. And my favourite selling point? You can eat them cold. Cook a few extra whilst you’re prepping for a simple dinner and throw the leftovers in a salad the next day.

To download our new recipe booklet, click here!