Two years ago, after a really rough patch with my health, I began to follow a gluten free diet – something I found particularly tough given my love of pasta and bread, not to mention cake! After being introduced to the Free From range at Tesco I found I was able to continue eating some of my favourite dishes after all so that, most of the time, I never felt as though I was missing out.
As my health issues worsened this year, with my stomach problems reaching a point where they are no longer manageable by medication alone, I have been building up to going lactose free, a decision I haven’t taken lightly given my love of chocolate.
So when the invite for the Tesco Lactose Free event landed in my mail box, it couldn’t have come at a better time for me, giving me the opportunity to see what impact going lactose free would have on my diet choices as well as some inspiration for Free From dishes.
On the night of the event I was hugely excited by the fact we were going to cook with the amazing Lesley Waters. Growing up, Lesley graced our television screens every night on Ready Steady Cook and I felt a little star struck when she greeted us so warmly and treated us to some of the most delicious canapes I’ve ever tasted!
Whilst we enjoyed a drink, the Tesco team were on hand to answer any of our questions and tell us all about their Lactose Free range. By the time we moved through to the kitchen to start cooking we were all looking forward to creating a delicious meal under Lesley’s expertise.
To start with Lesley made various dips and gluten free flat breads, my favourite being a fig and creamy blue cheese raita. Made entirely with lactose free products, it looked, and smelled divine.
Next up was a creamy pea and thyme risotto, one of my absolute favourites, using Lactose Free crème fraiche.
It was surprisingly easy to make the risotto, requiring just a little time and patience to stir in the stock, and Lesley and her team were full of really helpful tips throughout.
We topped the risotto with Gremolata Chicken, made using Gluten Free breadcrumbs, and finished with lemon spinach.
When it came to recreating Lesley’s dish, despite not being the best of cooks, I was so pleased with how well my dish turned out. Lesley really is a wonderful teacher and was so generous with her advice and praise.
For dessert Lesley treated us to two different dishes -a classic Tiramisu, and a lime and passion fruit baked cheesecake. Firstly we made the Tiramisu, again using gluten and lactose free ingredients, and whilst that was chilling in the fridge we watched Lesley prepare the cheesecake with a base she had baked earlier to save on time.
To hear Lesley talk so highly of the Tesco Lactose Free range spoke volumes. As a professional chef who needs her ingredients to be of top quality, it was clear that the Free From range at Tesco is the very best out there.
The finished cheesecake looked delicious and I couldn’t wait to try it!
My favourite part of the evening was undoubtedly the moment we had all been waiting for….sitting down to eat!
Washed down with Italian wine, also from Tesco, my stomach was fit to burst but there was no way I was passing up on dessert!
Having enjoyed such a delicious meal I felt reassured that as I start my Lactose Free diet I will still be able to tuck into my favourite dairy products, particularly those creamy desserts!!
I will be recreating all of these dishes at home in the coming weeks and sharing the recipes here on the blog. For those who would like to try the Lactose Free range, all of these products are available now in Tesco stores.