Watch Me at TEDx Bollington

The day has finally come for me to share something with you that has not only been in the pipeline since December but has actually been out in the open since June, I just couldn’t share it online because well, I didn’t have it!

As many of you will know, I was asked to do a TEDx talk back in December and the big day finally took place on June 16th, so just over a month ago now and as I said in my TEDx Experience blog – what a day!

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I absolutely loved creating my TEDx talk and delivering it on the day was honestly such an unforgettable experience. The feedback I got from live watchers was incredible and I just walked around the whole day and the day after too, with a Cheshire cat style grin on my face!

Since then, I’ve kind of been in limbo as I could tell everyone that I have done a TEDx talk and had the pictures but I couldn’t show them the actual talk! All my friends and family members who couldn’t make it on the day have been desperate to watch and it has been so frustrating to not have the talk to show them but I am so excited to say that it is live online now for you to watch!

You can watch my TEDx talk, from TEDx Bollington on YouTube now!

My talk is called ‘It’s Time to Remove the Filter From Social Media’ and you can watch it here!

I can’t believe the lovely messages I have had from people already and that over 400 people have already watched it but the more people that hear the message, the better, so please give it a watch!

If you could share the link on Twitter, that’d be even more amazing and don’t forget to tag me – @elliepool_

Your support is always so appreciated, so thank you as always and I hope you enjoy!

Photo Credit: Martin Hambleton

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Falling in Love and Heartbreak – The Second Time

This blog has always been a place for me to ramble when needs be and sometimes, these posts are for nobody’s benefit but my own and I think this may be one of them but who knows, it may resonate with someone.

I spoke on my Instagram in September last year and have spoken on the blog many times about my breakup. This isn’t about that but long story short, together for three years, lived together, lies, upset, break up, heart break – yeah.

That was rough like VERY rough but I got through it and came out the other side a few months later feeling ready to meet someone new. I wasn’t actively looking but I was open to feeling for someone again.

In March this year, on the day I left the flat I’d shared with my ex no less, a boy walked into my life, out of nowhere and turned my head instantly.

I felt for him in that moment, the way I felt the day I’d met my ex. I don’t necessarily believe in love at first sight but I do believe that you know when you’ve met someone who is going to change your life and that’s how I felt when I met him.

At first, I was a bit of a closed book. I had been hurt so badly that I wasn’t going to let that happen again but when you’ve met someone that makes you feel that special way, you can’t keep your barriers up no matter how hard you try and before I knew it, I was falling head over heels.

He seemed like everything I wanted, we spent so much time together, I cared so much for him and would’ve gone to the ends of the world and back if he needed me too. I went out of my way to make him happy and just seeing him smile made it all worthwhile. I very quickly made him a priority and rightly or wrongly given the time frame, felt so strongly towards him.

After a few months, the whirlwind came to an end and as with my previous breakup, it wasn’t my choice and I had no control in the decision, it was made for me.

Although I knew this heartbreak hurt less and would last a lot less time, it still hurt and because I wasn’t strong enough to cut contact with him, it’s continued to re-hurt for months since but this whole thing has taught me about falling in and out of love for the second time.

I wanted to talk about this because everyone talks to you about your first love and your first heartbreak and what they’ll be like but no one tells you what it is like to do this for the second time.

I guess we don’t talk about it because we don’t want to have to go through it. We all want to fall in love just once and if we’re going to have to have our hearts broken, just the once is more than enough but unfortunately, we don’t all fall lucky and we do have to go there more than once and it is so different the second time.

Let’s start with falling in love for the second time. In my experience, it just isn’t as easy. You just don’t let yourself fall quite so care free. First time round, there’s a beautiful sense of naivety about it all. You’ve never been hurt. Falling in love has never gone wrong. It’s all just an adventure that you may be apprehensive about but you’re not scared. That blissful ignorance allows you to fall for someone with no hesitation but falling in love for the second time, especially after heartbreak, isn’t like that- or at least for me it wasn’t.

When you find that second person and feel those feelings come back, you know what they are. You don’t get that same feeling of anticipating the unknown because you already know how this could end and it’s hard not to skip straight to that part. It’s hard to sit back and enjoy falling in love when you know that this could end in heartbreak.

It is hard to knowingly walk back into the fire when you already know you could get burnt but at the same time, falling for the second time is also an incredible feeling. For me, it was like an awakening that there was more to life than the person that had hurt me. After a breakup, you feel like you’ll be alone forever and falling for the second time makes you realise that you have met someone else and you can be happy again and in a way, that experience feels so much more special because it provokes those emotions.

As for the heartbreak, I can’t say it doesn’t hurt the second time but for me, in my circumstance, it hurt less. The time together was shorter, the drama was less and I guess the feelings towards each other, as real as they were, were weaker, so it was easier but it still hurt.

Personally, getting my heart broken for the second time was a bit of an eye roll moment. I felt sick and my chest hurt and my head ran away with me, of course it did, but it did just make my eyes roll.

It was kind of like ‘here we go again’. I guess I always assumed falling in love would end like this because it did last time. I wasn’t surprised I’d ended up here so it all felt so much easier to stomach but it did hurt, you’re just programmed to cope better.

I was stronger going into this situation than I was the first time and because of that, I had my cry and then I took a step back and realised that I’d got through it once and would definitely get through it again.

Saying that though, that second heartbreak was a weird one for me because I have to admit, I wasn’t so forthcoming at accepting it. First time round, I was so weak I just accepted it, I had no fight but with my new found strength, I tried to fight back the second time and turn things around, save the situation, make changes to make it work but in reality, I should’ve used that strength to walk away and work on myself, not the relationship.

So, in summary, falling in love for the second time is equally one of the most refreshing but terrifying feelings in the world and equally, heartbreak number two hurts a lot but you’ll take it in your stride much better.

All I can say is let it happen. Don’t hesitate to fall for Mr or Mrs Right 2.0 because they could be the one and bringing issues from past relationships into new ones is a recipe for failure, so leave the past in the past and look at this relationship as a brand new start.

If you’ve just had your heart broken for the second time – do not blame yourself. It is easy to think that after going through it again that it must be something to do with you but it isn’t, you just haven’t met the one and you’ll never be right, no matter what you do, for the wrong person.

I hope this has helped someone that is at any stage of this whole journey, my messages are always open if you need me!

What I Ate in Gran Canaria | Gluten Free Travel

*some of the products in this blog post were gifted by brands for the purpose of review. These are marked with (*).

So, I’m back from Gran Canaria now and my body is SUFFERING!

Too much alcohol is definitely a contributing factor but my diet has been all over the place for the last week and my stomach is just not a fan, so I am more than ready to get back to a healthy, naturally gluten free diet!

I thought I’d reflect on what I ate in Gran Canaria, how I coped out there with Coeliac Disease and some recommendations for where to eat if you’re heading there!

Snacks

Anyone with Coeliac Disease will tell you to never travel without gluten free snacks on hand and honestly, I didn’t pack my snacks well enough this time!

I left all my packing super last minute and didn’t really think about what I wanted or needed to take with me enough! I was sent a few tasty treats from Light Bites* and Health Lab*, so I had some crisps and protein balls with me for snacking on if I was stuck!

I did buy some more snacks from a SPAR supermarket while I was out there which made a massive difference to what I was able to eat. I bought Schar bread and Nutella for breakfast, Pom Bears, Lays crisps which are labelled ‘sin gluten’ and even some Schar biscuits.

I did manage to find quite a lot of gluten free foods in the shops out there but I would still always take snacks with me, no matter how confident I was about the food where I was going!

All Inclusive Buffet

I feel like for ‘normal’ people, all inclusive buffets are pretty much all the same but for Coeliacs, although the food selection may be the same, the amount you can eat and how easily you can eat, varies from place to place.

When I went all inclusive in Tenerife, the buffet there had labels on each food with allergen symbols, so that was a lot easier whereas at this hotel, it was literally a guessing game.

I basically ate rice, boiled potatoes, vegetables and a bit of grilled meat for lunch and dinner throughout the week which got very boring towards the end but it was safe and easy.

For the first couple of days, I was having eggs for breakfast but I wasn’t enjoying them, so that’s when I picked up bread and Nutella and had that for breakfast – untoasted of course due to cross contamination.

Out and About

We actually did venture out for food a couple of times and I’ll be honest, I was apprehensive but the fact I successfully did eat out is huge progress for me.

At one time, I just wouldn’t have agreed to eat out abroad for fear but I am so much more confident and relaxed about it now and I love that!

One of the places we ate was Burger King which I know is laughable but when they have gluten free cheeseburgers, you can’t keep me away! The ‘sin gluten’ cheeseburgers were only 3 euros and so so good. They’re way bigger than the regular cheeseburgers, loaded with cheese and the bread was so soft and delicious.

They seemed to be prepared in a safe way and I never had any ill-effects from eating them!

We did eat out one night at a ‘proper’ restaurant called Papa Joe’s in Playa Del Ingles. It was super affordable and the staff were clued up on allergens. The options were limited for what I could have but luckily, what I wanted was one of the options.

I had a jacket potato stuffed with peppers, strips of fillet steak and topped with cheese and it was so tasty and didn’t make me feel bloated or sluggish at all!

The only other place we bought food from was Leon at the airport! I was so excited to see the Leon restaurant at Gran Canaria airport as I knew I’d be able to eat well! Unfortunately, they don’t do the gluten free nuggets out there but I had the Roast Chicken Mezze with baked fries and got a lemon and ginger crunch cake for the plane, so I was still very happy!

So, all in all, eating in Gran Canaria was manageable and at times, even enjoyable! The food I had out and about was super tasty and I even managed to try some new gluten free treats and snacks out there that we don’t have here, so definitely a good experience!

Have you been to the Canary Islands? How did you find gluten free out there?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My TEDx Talk Experience

I can’t believe I am writing this but on Sunday 16th June, I delivered the TEDx talk I had been planning for 6 months and now the big day is over – what!!

I wanted to jump on here (partly because I have become the world’s worst blogger recently) but also because I wanted to share my TEDx experience and also a few key points from my talk I want to keep chatting about!

The TEDx Talk Experience 

For me, this whole journey started back in December when my proposal for the talk was accepted and I was offered the opportunity to speak!

I have worked pretty hard for the last 6 months writing the talk, rehearsing both at home and at the venue and generally worrying about choking, tripping, falling and other potential embarrassing scenarios that could occur… alongside delivering a talk to 100 people live and eventually, the rest of the world!

Despite the stressing and the nerves, this is 100% one of the best things I have ever done in my nearly 20 years of life and I will forever be grateful to myself and the organisers of the event for letting me do it!

I feel so much more confident and empowered as a result of delivering this talk and I am so passionate about what I spoke about that I just want to keep the conversation going!

My TEDx Talk 

My TEDx Talk was entiteld ‘It’s Time to Remove the Filter From Social Media’ and was all about the benefits of being more open and honest about both the good and the bad times of your life online.

This is something I am so keen to push across the online world in a bid to make social media a more positive and helpful place for us all to be! I love social media and want to see it used in the most beneficial way possible and I hope my talk was a step in the right direction for that.

I shared the following 4 principles that if we keep in mind when sharing online, we can make social media a much better place:

Balance – if you’re going to share the best bits of your life, share the harder times too. It’s up to you how you do it but balance is the key to success in any element of your life and social media is no different!

Education – try and use every post you publish as a chance to teach someone something! Always aim to educate and inform, even if you need a moan at the same time, cap it off by sharing how you’re going to make yourself feel better because that could help someone else in the same position!

Aspiration – share your successes and allow us people to aspire to do the same! From weight loss to a job promotion, if you’re doing well, don’t just boast, share your story in a way where others will be inspired and informed on how they can do the same!

Transparency – if you fake a perfect life online, you become untouchable and unreachable and risk making others feel inferior! Being open, honest and transparent about all elements of your life makes you approachable and real, people can relate and benefit from your presence online!

Remembering these 4 things when posting online will make us all more responsible for our social media footprint and provide us with a platform filled with beneficial, realistic content that adds good to our life, not negativity!

I can’t wait to share my talk with you when it is live and I hope it inspires some of you to look at social media differently!

Thank you for always supporting the blog, my Instagram, my Huffington Post articles and all the work I do because it means the world and allows me to reach platforms like the TEDx stage to spread the words I am most passionate about!

What Being An Apprentice Can Really Be Like

Whether you’re leaving Sixth Form or College in the next few weeks, if you’re just about to step out of mainstream education then you’re probably spending a lot of time thinking about what the next chapter of your life is going to hold.

I imagine there’ll be a lot of 17 and 18 year olds out there right now wondering whether university is right for them or people leaving college and not knowing how to get a job but have you actually considered an apprenticeship?

I know what you’re thinking. You don’t want to be an apprentice. The job title sounds a bit rubbish and the pay is probably even worse but I can tell you first hand, that isn’t always the case.

That might be the reality of being an apprentice at some companies but lets not accuse all employers of being the same because in my experience, doing an apprenticeship was the most intelligent decision I made throughout my education and has pathed the way for me to achieve a career I never thought would be possible.

I didn’t have any A levels when I left college, I had my GCSEs and a couple of qualifications in the beauty industry from my local college, so I certainly didn’t qualify for a degree level apprenticeship which is where I assumed the decent money and responsible roles were.

I was bored of my beauty qualification and wanted to get back into something more office based. Marketing had always appealed to me, mainly because I liked playing on social media and I naively assumed that is what digital marketing entailed, so one night I decided to randomly apply for a digital marketing executive apprenticeship I had seen advertised at a local agency.

The only credentials I had that made me relevant for the role was an A* in GCSE English and the ability to use a computer and a smartphone but I put my best application form in and hoped for the best.

I got an interview and somehow managed to wing getting the job. I was terrified when it dawned on me that I knew NOTHING about the role I had applied for but then I remember, I was just an apprentice! I probably wouldn’t be doing any proper marketing work for months and would probably spend my days brewing up and filing things away – that’s what apprentices do right?

Oh how wrong was I! This particular apprenticeship was relatively well paid and I worked for every penny of it from the minute I got the role! The company I went to work for was small and as soon as I started I played an integral role in getting things done, so I was put to work on real client tasks from day 1.

I have worked for the same company for nearly two and a half years now, completed by Level 3 Diploma Digital Marketing, have had two pay rises and a promotion to Content and Social Strategist – all through an apprenticeship that was better paid and harder work than I could’ve ever imagined when I first thought about the stereo typical apprenticeship.

The whole point of an apprenticeship is to learn on the job. The majority of employers aren’t looking for a slave or cheap labour when they advertise for an apprentice, they’re looking for someone who is keen to learn the industry and has the ability to do so. They’re genuinely looking for someone to become a part of their business and continue through the ranks as time goes on.

In my experience, apprentices are still an essential and valued member of staff and your role is so much more than just observing. You get hands on experience in an industry you’re passionate to explore further and an apprenticeship is the perfect way to get your foot in the door of a business that could help you path the way for your future career.

University is right for some people but it wasn’t for me and it won’t be for a lot of other people but that doesn’t mean you have to miss out on further education or entering industries that you believe favour those with degrees.

I think a lot of people are put off apprenticeships due to the old-fashioned stigma around them, so hopefully hearing a first hand account of how an apprenticeship can actually be life changing will alter your views on this option and maybe even encourage you to try one for yourself!

I wouldn’t have the life and career I do at 19 if it wasn’t for taking the plunge and applying to be an apprentice, so if you want to carry on learning while earning too, an apprenticeship could definitely be for you!

Gluten Free Blondie Recipe | White Chocolate, Macadamia and Cranberry Blondie Recipe | AD

*Disclaimer: this blog post is in collaboration with Buy Wholefoods Online. Products marked with a (*) in the ingredients list were sent free of charge for the purpose of developing this recipe.

We talk a lot about brownies in the gluten free world but what about blondies?

If you’re not familiar with blondies, they’re basically the same consistency as a brownie but made with vanilla or white chocolate opposed to milk or dark chocolate, making them golden (or blonde) in colour, opposed to brown!

Buy Wholefoods Online recently got in touch with me and we’ve decided to partner up on this new recipe for White Chocolate, Macadamia and Cranberry Blondies and of course, they’re totally gluten free! Buy Wholefoods Online are basically a huge online supermarket for all your favourite wholefoods and ingredients and they even have a massive free from section with branded goods!

They very kindly sent me the dried cranberries and the whole macadamia nuts and tasked me with coming up with a tasty recipe that incorporates these two great tastes and the blondies were the finished product!

I am so happy with how these turned out and the feedback from friends and family has been great, so give them a go yourself!

Gluten Free White Chocolate, Macadamia and Cranberry Blondies 

Ingredients 

170g Baking Spread or Butter (I used Stork)

255g Dark Brown Suagr (available from Buy Wholefoods Online or the supermarket)

2 Large Eggs

1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract (available from Buy Wholefoods Online or the supermarket)

1 Teaspoon Baking Powder (gluten free available from Buy Wholefoods Online or I used Dr Oetker)

170g Gluten Free Plain Flour (available from Buy Wholefoods Online or the supermarket, I used Doves Farm)

100g White Chocolate Chips or Chunks (I used Tesco own)

100g Dried Cranberries * (available from Buy Wholefoods Online)

50g Macadamia Nuts* (available from Buy Wholefoods Online)

Method 

  1. Preheat your oven to 200 degrees (fan) and line two 8″ square baking tins with greaseproof paper
  2. Weigh out and prepare all ingredients. This includes crushing your macadamia nuts and chopping your butter into small chunks
  3. Add your flour, dark brown sugar, baking powder and vanilla extract into a large mixing bowl and combine with a wooden spoon
  4. Once your dry ingredients are mixed, you can now melt your butter either in the microwave or over a pan of water but be sure not to burn it
  5. Once the butter is melted, leave it for 1-2 minutes while adding your two eggs to the dry ingredients and stirring them in
  6. Once the eggs are added and combined, you can now add the melted butter and stir to complete your plain batter
  7. Once everything in the bowl is mixed together, add the white chocolate chips, stir, then the cranberries and stir and then finally, add your macadamia nuts and mix everything together
  8. Once your mix is perfectly combined, split into your two tins and smooth out, ensuring it is spread across the tin evenly
  9. You can then place both trays in the over for 20 -25 minutes. I originally set a time for 20 and checked every couple of minutes after until 25 minutes when they were perfectly done. They should be golden and spongey on top.
  10. Remove from the oven and leave in the tins to cool
  11. Once fully cooled, remove from the tin in the greaseproof paper, peel the paper off and cut each batch into 9 pieces, creating 18 overall
  12. Store in a cake tin for 3-4 days or until you feel they have gone dry.

This is a super easy recipe that requires pretty much one bowl and one spoon and is super tasty and packed with plenty of chunks of chocolate, cranberries and macadamia nuts!

If you give this recipe a go, be sure to share your pictures with me by tagging @glutenfreewithellie 

 

Father’s Day Gift Guide | AD

Father’s Day isn’t far away now which means its time to start thinking about what you’re going to buy the fatherly figure in your life this year.

Whatever your budget or kind of man you’re buying for, hopefully, there’ll be something in this gift guide that suits:

For the Techy Dads

Neos SmartCam – £24.99 on Amazon

My dad is the techy dad so I knew he’d love this home security camera from Neos. The SmartCam is one of the most affordable yet highest quality home security cameras currently on the market and it has had rave reviews from a lot of people.

I gave this to my dad to have a play with as soon as it turned up and needless to say, he was thrilled and has been ever since.

We decided to set this up in the kitchen as when all three of us are out of the house, we leave our two dogs in the kitchen. It makes sense as their beds, food, water and toys are all in the kitchen and it stops them running riot around the house. We’ve often wondered what they get up to when we’re not home and now we can watch for ourselves.

My dad set up the camera and then downloaded the app so he can watch a live stream from the camera on his phone! You can even talk through the camera, so we can talk to the dogs and they can hear us – it really is amazing!

You could also use this for what it is meant for which is a security camera and it is just as good for that!

For the Dads Who Care About Personal Grooming 

Black Leopard Skincare – From £5.29

Skincare is always a good gift idea for men as a lot of guys just don’t think about taking care of their personal grooming and now Black Leopard Skincare has launched in the UK, they’re the perfect brand to use.

An Australian brand that has now launched their UK website, Black Leopard offer a great selection of affordably priced and high-quality skincare for men include after shave balm, a cleanser, antiperspirant, face cream and more.

The prices of their products start at £5.29 but their complete face care bundle for £77.50 contains a full-size version of all their skincare, allowing your dad to try the full range and start a really good skincare routine.

Gillette SkinGuard Sensitive Razor – £8.99

Now, this might seem like a bit of a practical or mundane gift but sometimes they’re the things your dad really wants for Father’s Day.

If your dad is forever going through disposable razors, buying him a decent one that will last a little longer is a great idea and the new Gillette SkinGuard Sensitive Razor is an affordable and suitable choice for all men.

Available in high street stores such as Boots and Tesco, this is a gift that is easy to get your hands on, won’t break the bank and your dad will actually appreciate.

For the Outdoorsy Dads

Zippo Heat Bank 3 Hour Portable Charger and Handwarmer – £24.95

Perfect for the dad that either works outside or enjoys spending a lot of his free time in the outdoors, the Zippo Heat Bank 3 is a combined portable charger and handwarmer that as the name would suggest, can charge your device and keep your hands warm for up to 3 hours.

This device is super lightweight and compact, so perfect for keeping in your backpack on adventures or in your car on the go!

Presidio Sport Phone Case – £24.95

Ideal for the dad who is on the go and as a consequence, forever dropping his phone, the Presidio Sport phone case from Speck is affordable yet seriously robust and is designed to protect all models of phone from all angles.

A sleek and lightweight yet super durable construction, this relatively slimline phone case is made up with three layers of protection to offer resistance to damage from 360 degrees.

Available in a range of colours for a range of phone models, this is a great idea for the dad who is always dropping his phone on the go!

For the Foodie Dads

DC Superhero Jelly Beans – From £2.15

One for the DC comics-loving dads that are also foodies, Jelly Belly has partnered with DC to bring out a range of jelly beans in packaging themed around Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman.

Available in 28g and 60g bags as well as gift boxes, the DC Comics jelly beans are in a range of flavours including Berry Blue, Cream Soda, Sour Lemon and more.

Perfect if you’re on a budget or you just know your dad loves all things superheroes!

Blossoming Gifts Gluten and Wheat Free Hamper – £48.99

If your dad is a big foodie, the Blossoming Gifts Gluten and Wheat Free Hamper is a great choice, filled with delicious snacks to enjoy whether you can or can’t eat gluten!

Check out the full blog post review of this hamper here!

For the Sentimental Dads

Personalised Cufflink Box – £29.99

Personalised gifts are a perfect choice for dads who appreciate a sentimental gift and this cufflink box from Giftpup is an ideal gift idea for the men in your life who find themselves dressing up a lot.

A high-quality black leather look 12 compartment cufflink box with a plaque for personalisation on the top, this chic and stylish product would look pride of place on a dresser or bedside table but it also won’t break the bank.

So, what will you be getting your dad this year? Let me know in the comments!

 

The Ultimate Foodie Father’s Day Gift – Blossoming Gifts Gluten Free Hamper Review | AD

*the products shown in this blog post were sent for review and advertisement purposes. This blog post is in collaboration with Blossoming Gifts, however all opinions are my own. 

If you’re struggling for Father’s Day gift ideas, food is always a good idea and whether your dad is gluten free or not, this hamper from Blossoming Gifts is a gift that is bound to go down seriously well.

My dad isn’t a Coeliac and doesn’t eat gluten free but I love to introduce my family to gluten free snacks and treats that I think are tasty and know they’ll enjoy and this hamper is perfect for doing that.

Blossoming Gifts may be best known for their flowers but their selection of personalised gifts and hampers are perfect for all kinds of occasions, including Father’s Day and thanks to having a great range of free from hampers, catering for gluten free, vegan and diabetics, everyone can enjoy one!

I chose the Gluten & Wheat Free Basket which retails on their website for £48.99. This is their mid-priced gluten free hamper, with a smaller one available for £33.99 and a larger one on sale for £73.99.

Hamper 1

I think this hamper is great value for money, particularly as it comes packaged in a generously sized wicker basket which you can keep for decor and storage around the house.

The Gluten & Wheat Free Basket Contains:

1 x Easy Bean Cheddar Crunch Chickpea Crispbreads

1 x Frank’s Luxury Cherry Shortbread

1 x Linden Lady Handmade Luxury Florentines

1 x Mr Filbert’s Honey and Peppercorn Mixed Nuts

1 x Mrs Crimble’s Sour Cream & Onion Cheese Bites (flavour may vary)

1 x Oloves Chilli & Oregano Green Olives

1 x Oloves Lemon & Rosemary Green Olives

1 x Patteson’s Chocolate Macaroons

1 x Sugar n Spice Peanut Butter and Fruit Flapjack

Hamper Contents

All of the products in this hamper aren’t your standard free from aisle finds, they’re all a little more luxury and some of them are real artisan products which I think always feels extra special and makes for a really lovely gift.

The hard work of wrapping it is all done for you too, all you need to do is pull the basket of food out the box it arrives in, add a bow or maybe wrap it in some cellophane, write a card and its ready for gifting to your dad!

I did cheat slightly and give this hamper to my dad a little early as I wanted to see what he thought as a dad receiving it as a gift and he was thrilled with it. Both him and my mum said they’d be super happy to open this as a present and were both amazed by how much you got inside!

My dad has more of a savoury tooth, so he automatically gravitated towards the crispbreads and the nuts, whereas my mum couldn’t wait to try the florentines!

Hamper 2

We were all amazed by the quality of the seagrass basket it comes in and it is now taking pride of place in the living room, it’s perfect for storing books/magazines in a nicer way than just throwing them on a shelf or in the corner – this really is the gift that keeps on giving!

Hamper 3

So, whether your dad is gluten free or you are, this gluten and wheat free hamper of goodies from Blossoming Gifts is a great option!

You can also add a personalised message to the box it comes in, just for that extra special touch!

As a bonus, if you’ve never ordered from Blossoming Gifts before and you sign up for their emails, you’ll get 10% off your first order, making this even more affordable!

Dog With Hamper

Celebrating Coeliac Awareness Week with M&S Food | AD

*Disclaimer – the products featured in this blog post were gifted by M&S Food for the purpose of inclusion in this blog post. This blog post is in collaboration with Marks & Spencer but all opinions are my own. 

As this week is Coeliac Awareness Week, there’s a lot going on in the free from community and lots of brands are doing their bit to show their support to us Coeliacs!

One of my favourite brands for gluten free food that I speak about A LOT is Marks & Spencer and as always, they’ve been at the top of the game when it comes to bringing out new free from products.

I always say how M&S’ free from range is a little different to other supermarkets as they bring out products that are different to everyone else’s. They’re often the foods you didn’t realise you missed until you could have them again and that’s what makes them so special.

I recently went for a wander around my local M&S Food Hall, which is Handforth Dean and met the manager there, Lucy. We picked some of their new products and best-sellers for me to try, so I thought I’d do this little haul style blog post for you, showing you what I got!

Made Without Wheat Raspberry Bakewell Slices 

One of the newer products at M&S, I picked these up mainly with my mum in mind as she loves Bakewell slices, so I knew she was the perfect person to review these!

You get 4 in a box and they’re a really decent size. There’s a good layer of raspberry jam and a generous topping of almond flakes and according to my mum ‘they tasted just like the regular ones’.

Made Without Wheat Caramel Crispie Mini Bites 

I’ve spoken about these little gluten free cake bites before over on my Instagram because they are one of the tastiest free from products I have ever tried!

They’re similar to their other mini bite tubs (which M&S are well known for) but these are totally gluten free and safe for coeliacs! They’re a rice crispie square with a layer of caramel and a layer of solid chocolate… so good!

Made Without Wheat Shortbread Rounds

I love shortbread biscuits and actually think gluten free shortbread is really nice and these are no exception.

You can’t beat a plain and simple shortbread biscuit and these ones are super buttery and just the right texture too, perfect for eating with a cup of tea or serving with a creme brulee!

Made Without Wheat Triple Chocolate Crunch Cereal

Probably one of my favourite gluten free products Marks & Spencer have ever brought out, their Triple Chocolate Crunch cereal might be a little bit high in calories and sugar but it is so good!

It’s a mixture of plain granola clusters and pieces of milk and white chocolate and for a Sunday morning breakfast or a special occasion, it is such a welcome treat!

Made Without Wheat Lemon Cheesecake Dessert

I’m not usually a huge cheesecake fan but I do really like lemon flavoured things, so I was still intrigued to try this little Lemon Cheesecake Dessert pot and I’m glad I did because it was delicious!

The cheese topping was super creamy and not overpowering and the main flavour throughout was sweet lemon which I personally loved. The cheescake base was pretty loose and crumbly but it is in a pot so that doesn’t matter so much!

Made Without Wheat Lemon Muffins 

These were part of M&S’ newest launch of gluten free products and they were probably the thing that grabbed my attention the most as I have been on the hunt for gluten free lemon muffins for ages!

I could find lemon cupcakes, lemon slices, lemon cakes but not lemon muffins and persoanlly, I think they all taste different so I particularly wanted muffns and I’m pleased to say these did not disappoint!

I used to love the original M&S lemon muffins and these tasted pretty much the same, just a little smaller but they come in packs of 4, so you can always just have more than one!

Made Without Wheat Sourdough Pizza

I love pizza and let’s be honest, gluten free pizza is pretty hit and miss, so when a new one comes out, I’m always keen to try!

I’ll be honest, I was hesistant about trying this as it retails for £4.50 which is a lot of money but when I was given the opportunity to try one for free, I jumped at the chance and I can confirm that I will definitely be purchasing this myself again.

If you don’t like thicker base pizzas, you probably won’t like this as the base is quite thick and doughy as it is a sourdough pizza but I personally liked this as the base was super soft and had good flavour.

They only do the pizza in a simple margarita but there’s plenty of cheese on top and I think this works as a nice blank canvas for you to add your own toppings if you want to!

Made Without Wheat Spinach and Ricotta Ravioli 

I love these fresh filled pastas and used to LIVE off them when I could eat gluten, so when I got diagnosed Coeliac, I was pretty disappointed about the selection available – like there was none when I first got diagnosed.

Schar brought out their variety a while back but in more recent months, all the supermarkets seemed to have jumped on this idea and brought out their own free from fresh pastas, including M&S.

I have tried to proscuitto fresh pasta from M&S’ free from range before, so am super excited to give this one a go – they make for a perfect super quick dinner!

Made Without Wheat Spaghetti Carbonara 

I’ve spoken about the Marks & Spencer Made Without Wheat ready meals before both on the blog and on my Instagram because I really like them! I don’t have ready meals very often because as gluten free food goes, ready meals are some of the worst but these are actually good and taste pretty homemade!

My favourites are the carbonara and the macaroni cheese, so if you’re looking for a quick dinner, these are good options!

Made Without Wheat Mixed Berry Crumbles

Finding gluten free desserts that aren’t chocolate is actually harder than you’d think, so it’s quite refreshing to see these berry crumbles available in the free from fridges!

I haven’t tried them yet but they look packed with fruit, so hopefully they’ll be good with some custard or ice cream!

Made Without Dairy Chocolate and Caramel Sticks (Gluten Free Too)

M&S do also have a selection of dairy free products too including ice creams which are delicious! These chocolate and caramel magnum style dairy free ice creams are a long-term favourite of mine.

You can’t tell that they’re dairy free by the taste and they’ve got the gluten free logo on the front of the box too for extra reassurance when shopping as a Coeliac.

Made Without Dairy Chocolate and Vanilla Cones 

Another gluten and dairy free ice cream option at M&S is these chocolate and vanilla ice cream cones – very like a cornetto!

I love ice creams like this, especially when the weather is hot and as it is nearly impossible to get gluten free ice cream cones at ice cream vans or in those little ice cream freezers in shops, I like to have things like these in the freezer so I don’t have to miss out!

You get 4 in the box and they’re actually a really good size, these also taste just like normal ice cream!

So, they’re some of my favourite free from products at M&S but what do you love? Let me know in the comments!

Is It Coeliac Disease? | Coeliac Awareness Week 2019

From the 13th – 19th May, Coeliac UK will be running their Coeliac Awareness Week for 2019. This week offers the chance for people diagnosed with the disease to share their story and connect with other sufferers as well as educating people who don’t know what Coeliac Disease is with the aim of potentially helping people get a diagnosis if they haven’t already.

The theme this year is ‘Is It Coeliac Disease?’ which has been designed to help people assess whether they could be suffering from Coeliac Disease and whether they need to get checked for it. Coeliac UK has created an online assessment that anyone can take for free which uses a few simple questions to help you decide whether a trip to the GPs to discuss testing for Coeliac Disease is required.

The assessment can’t tell you whether you have Coeliac Disease but it can help you decide whether this autoimmune disease is a possible cause of problems you’re experiencing. It is quick and simple to take and could be the start of your official diagnosis if you are suffering and didn’t realise.

As part of Coeliac Awareness Week, I thought I’d share my diagnosis story as I do get asked this quite a lot and mine was a little different to the standard, so it might be of interest.

I was finally diagnosed a couple of months before my 18th birthday (mid-2017) but I had started wondering whether gluten caused me a problem back in early 2016. I felt sick a lot, ended up with what seemed like IBS a lot, I was bloated, tired and just generally thought something I was eating was causing me an issue.

Gluten seemed like the best place to start as I knew a lot of people had issues with carbs and my mum suggested it might be some kind of intolerance, so in 2016 I made a half-hearted attempt to cut gluten out.

I started eating gluten-free pasta and bread and started checking the packets but I’ll be honest, I wasn’t very good. I remember picking a thin crust pizza on the basis that there’d be less gluten in it… I know!

I went to the doctors after a couple of months of kind of trying to avoid gluten and got told I had Bulimia. I did suffer from an eating disorder and because of that, they pinned my digestion problems down to my mental issues with food but it turns out… I didn’t have Bulimia either.

Because she’d told me that though, I started eating gluten again and I remember going on holiday a couple of months after this trip to the GP and eating pizza, pasta and all sorts and just feeling awful all holiday.

Now time loses me at this point because it was another year before I got diagnosed and I don’t really remember what happened in the middle but I seem to think I carried on eating gluten but didn’t eat bread because it made me feel gross!

I do remember eating a subway when I had a hangover in December 2016, so around 6 months before diagnosis and being so ill. I assumed I’d be ok because I was fine with gluten apparently but I was so incredibly unwell.

These IBS like attacks kept happening and it seemed totally random. I remember having one after eating a flapjack and one after eating a pack of BBQ hula hoops, both of which I now know are a no go for Coeliacs.

Eventually, I got fed up of feeling ill and not understanding why, so decided to push for the Coeliac test again, after being refused it the year before and being told I had Bulimia. My GP still wasn’t convinced and said she was pretty sure I had IBS but she’d put me through for a load of blood tests, including Coeliac Disease to rule everything else out and then she could diagnose IBS.

Slight problem with that plan – I did have Coeliac Disease. My tests came back over a month later (they lost my results once) and the test spoke for itself, they showed signs of Coeliac Disease.

I was told to go on a gluten-free diet and was referred to see a consultant about an endoscopy. Another twist in my diagnosis story – my GP told me the camera was a colonoscopy, so up the back passage and not down your throat. I had accepted I would have this and prepared myself.

When I finally saw the consultant in November, so nearly 6 months later, he revealed that the camera was, in fact, going to have to go down my throat and I freaked out. I have always had a horrific fear of being sick and I just could not go through with an endoscopy. I cried to my consultant and he saw how scared I was, so he said he’d re-do my blood tests and if they still showed apparent signs of Coeliac Disease, he would be happy to officially diagnose me off that.

I went for the blood tests and the results came back showing Coeliac Disease again, so he wrote me an official letter with my diagnosis on it. I was then referred to a dietician and still have yearly dietician appointments now.

I am too young to qualify for DEXA scans but do have annual blood tests through my GP, checking all my different levels, so despite now having the endoscopy, I still get all the relevant Coeliac Disease aftercare as I was officially diagnosed.

It is rare to be able to get an official diagnosis without endoscopy and it is recommended you have it done for complete confirmation but in special circumstances, which is what mine was considered to be, you can get an official diagnosis without.

So, that’s how it all happened for me. That’s how I was finally diagnosed with Coeliac Disease after 18 months of pointing out to GPs that something wasn’t right. There wasn’t anything like the ‘Is It Coeliac Disease?’ online assessment available when I was wondering whether it could be, so I think this new resource is amazing!

If you have any inkling that Coeliac Disease might be the cause of the problems you’re experiencing then please take the assessment and get a better idea as to whether you need to look into this further!

How did you get diagnosed with Coeliac Disease? Let me know your diagnosis story in the comments or let me know on Twitter!