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Hale and Hearty Luxury Wholegrain Crumble Mix
Hale and Hearty is a company which was formed by a husband and wife team - Catarina and Christian. Christian was a coeliac and was disillusioned with the range of gluten free foods on the market which he could buy ready made. The couple had a child who subsequently developed a wheat intolerance, and this was the catalyst they needed to develop recipes which could be made for the gluten free market, but which were exciting and viable alternatives to the often bland products available. Catarina was studying nutrition at the time, so it was a perfect skill to have from which to use her knowledge to create recipes, which could be sold commercially, but which would be appealing to all the members of a family not just those with coeliac disease.
I am not a coeliac, but eat many gluten free foods to help to combat digestive problems I have in association with the illness ME/CFS. I make almost everything from scratch as often as I can, and also eat low GI foods wherever possible to keep my blood sugar levels stable.
Occasionally I like to buy ready made wholefoods for lazy days, and for times when I am too tired to cook, and I recently discovered this range and have tried many of the dishes they make. The luxury crumble mix is absolutely superb and here's why.
First of all crumble is not something I have ever considered buying. It's just flour, margarine and sugar rubbed together, and it takes seconds to prepare. Unless you use gluten free flour though, it isn't ideal for my diet plan, and so this product interested me as it is a gluten free alternative and takes moments to make.
You can purchase this from the home delivery company, Ocado, and 275 grams is £2.15. It should also be available from Waitrose. On the Ocado website it gets 5* from customer reviews, and this was probably what caught my eye when I first saw the product. I really love websites where customer reviews are posted along side the items - it is informative and shows confidence on the part of the retailer, and a commitment to shoppers to provide quality goods and to monitor feedback.
The ingredients are raw cane sugar, wholemeal rice flour, vegetable oil, wholemeal corn flour, tapioca, wholemeal buckwheat flour, wholemeal millet flour and sea salt. The crumble mix is gluten free, wheat free, soya free, dairy free, and egg free, and of course suitable for coeliacs. All the flours in the crumble are organic.
I think it is preferential to purchase gluten free products from specialist suppliers, if possible, to ensure quality. Only last week I noticed a recall by Marks and Spencer for a gluten free fruit cake which had been sold, and subsequently recalled, as it contained wheat. This poses a serious health risk to coeliacs, and so I think it is often safer to use specialist bakeries, if possible.
The crumble mix is supplied in a plastic bag, insulated with brown paper inside a cardboard box, so you can use as required, and keep any spare in an airtight container. I often do this, as now there are only two of us at home for part of the year we can then make fresh desserts each time using different fruits. The entire box will make a very generous crumble if you have a family dinner to make, and will easily serve six people.
I have been making crumbles using this mix with some of the morello cherries I picked in late summer from my garden, and these have been delicious. You can use any fruits in combination, just as you would for a conventional crumble. Cooking time is the same - 25 minutes or so in a hot oven 180C/350F or Gas Mark 4.
The crumble topping is sweet, slightly crunchy, with a lovely texture, and it has a bite to it that you don't get from plainer, more refined mixtures. It is almost nutty and compliments the fruit perfectly. Gluten free products have come on in leaps and bounds in recent years, and this product is no exception. It is actually, in my opinion, better than traditional crumble mixes, even my home made one is less enjoyable than this.
You can add some gluten free porridge oats to the mixture if you wish as this adds variety. Be careful here, though, as most oats contain gluten, so if you are cooking for a coeliac then choose gluten free oats such as "Delicious Alchemy Gluten Free Rolled Oats" I would also advise speaking to the person first before doing this, as some coeliacs cannot tolerate oats at all.
All my family love this crumble mix and it certainly makes a delicious dessert in a matter of moments. I probably wouldn't have all those flours in stock at any one time to make this myself, so convenience is a real asset. I do use unusual flours but this has five, which would need careful storage and prompt use to avoid spoilage. For this reason I think this product offers something special - the opportunity to enjoy a wholefood, gluten free crumble in minutes.