Intro

What's WIDE CIRCLE COOKING about?
I blog information, news and recipes about gluten-free, wheat-free, dairy-free, egg-free, alcohol-free and vegan cooking. Right now I've been working on an exciting project where I avoid refined sugar and create recipes using a range of healthier alternatives.

Happy cooking!

ps. ask all guests if they have an allergy (because the recipes use some unusual combinations and they may not expect to find citrus and soya in the chocolate cake, for example).
pps.if you are cooking for someone with an allergy, please read my allergy page first.

The battle of the cream substitutes – but which is the winner?


As I was mooching through the supermarket yesterday I noticed that there is now a fresh Alpro single cream alternative (located in the chiller cabinet) as well as the more usual longlife version, which can be found on shelf. Interestingly, as well as different packaging, they also have quite different proportions of ingredients. 
 The fresh version has these ingredients:
Water, Sunflower oil (8.4%), Hulled soya beans (3.8%), Modified tapioca starch, Fructose-glucose syrup, Emulsifiers (Soya leicithin, Sucrose esters of fatty acids) Thickeners (Locust bean gum, Carrageenan), Flavouring, Sea salt, Antioxidant (Tocopherol-rich-extract).

The longlife version has far more fat:
Water, Sunflower oil (15.4%), Hulled soya beans (4%), Fructose-glucose syrup, Emulsifiers (Soya lecithin, Sucrose esters of fatty acids), Stabilisers (Xanthan gum, Guar gum, Carrageenan), Sea salt, Antioxidant (Tocopherol-rich extract), Flavouring, Antioxidant (Natural Tocopherol).

They have a roughly similar cost. But which one tastes better? In a blind tasting (admitted not performed on a large sample… just three members of my family) the score was unanimously towards the fresh version. Just to be awkward, I must admit I prefer the longlife version, but then I am used to it and will happily eat it straight from the carton on a small spoon. Or over strawberries. Or blueberries. Or whatever. Mmmm.
Tediously, however, the story doesn’t end there. I noticed was another issue – the fresh version warned there could be a trace of nuts, whereas the shelf version says it is made in a nut-free location. I then went online to the Alpro site and found that they said the shelf version might contain nuts. So what was going on?
A little bit of detective work later led me to the AllergyUK website, where I found this explanation from Alpro:
“Alpro currently produce a range of almond and hazelnut products in locations which are separate from their soya production. However, due to growing demand for their plant based food and drinks, Alpro will be moving the production of almond and hazelnut drinks onto the same sites in Belgium and UK as their soya products from the end of 2014. They will update Allergy UK on the exact timings as soon as they have more information. Alpro are always keen to ensure the highest safety and top quality of their products and all possible measures will be put in place to avoid any cross-contamination between nut and soya products (this includes maintaining separate flows for handling raw materials and manufacturing, as well as thorough cleaning procedures).
“Although the implementation date for this change will be at the end of 2014, their packaging will be adapted gradually from now. Consumers will begin to see that the Alpro soya products (such as soya drinks, desserts, soya alternatives to yogurt and cream), rice and oat products are labelled 'may contain traces of almonds or hazelnuts'.
“This early labelling change is to make sure that  consumers are made aware well in advance before the actual integration into their production facilities. During this transition period there may be packaging with the labelling and packaging without the labelling on shelf at the same time.”
If you have concerns or want to comment about this, email Alpro at this address: info@alprohelpline.co.uk.

An update to this story: See the new facebook page set up regarding this issue here