We met Vicki a couple of years ago at an event, and after tasting her wares, found out she had made the world’s first wholegrain gluten free flour blend. I found this very impressive to say the least, and I guess we are surprised by such achievements sometimes in our little county of Devon (assuming you need a London base and budget to do such things). But it’s amazing what you can achieve when your diet or that of your family’s depends on it.
Vicki is a mum to 2 children, a scientist (2:1 Honours degree in biochemistry and genetics), a lover of healthy delicious food, creator of recipes that everyone can enjoy, blogger, nutritional therapist and IBS sufferer.
Her family’s needs have led her on this path, and I remember even seeing an article with fellow Devon dweller and coeliac sufferer, Caroline Quentin, saying she’s uses the flour – a great endoresment indeed.
With gluten free foods being in more demand than ever, through choice or necessity, we thought we’d ask Vicki 10 questions so we could find out more about her and her products.
1. So Vicki, in a snapshot, why are you the free from fairy?
Good question! I realised around 15 years ago that I didn’t tolerate wheat and, after being tested for coeliac disease, started eating a gluten-free diet. Then my daughter came along and at 9 months was diagnosed with egg and milk protein allergies followed by coeliac disease (at the age of 2). I started the Free From Fairy to help other people like us by sharing simple, wholesome free from recipes that the whole family could enjoy together.
2. What kind of processes did you go through and how long did it take to get to where you felt you had cracked it?
I’m not sure I have cracked it!
3. What products do you make?
Last year (2016) I launched a wholegrain gluten-free and rice-free flour blend that I had created. It started because I couldn’t find anything nutritious to bake with. I used my science degree to start experimenting with gluten-free flours, trying to find a blend of flours that would be both nutritious and multi-purpose. After 2 years and 23 different blends I found one that worked in everything! My blog readers wanted to be able to buy it so I now sell it on my blog (and a few independent shops).
4. Bread is something we all enjoy in many ways, with fillings or toppings – how is your product and the end result different to a free from loaf in the supermarket?
My flour can be used to make bread that is way more wholesome and healthy than anything you can buy! I don’t add strange ingredients to my recipes…just the bare essentials and the result is tasty, nutritious bread. Because the flour is such high quality there is little need to add loads of odd ingredients…they work perfectly on their own.
5. I’ve seen you do how-to videos on Facebook – do you think that being free from is helping encourage more home baking and cooking so people don’t have to go without?
I’d like to think that being free-from encourages people to bake but I’m not sure that is the case. It’s very easy to buy pre-prepared free from foods these days but I worry about what they contain. When you look at the ingredients list there are multiple things that you can’t even pronounce, let alone know the affect they have on the body. Since I’m bringing up a child with coeliac disease I think it’s incredibly important to know exactly what she is eating, and I do that by cooking everything from scratch.
6. I recall seeing Caroline Quentin say that she’d used your products? That must feel great to have a fairly high profile supporter.
Yes, I have had incredible feedback from many people including the chefs at River Cottage and Deliciously Ella.
7. Favourite food you are now able to make with your flour?
Gosh that is a tough one but I do love bread and I particularly love my baguette recipe!
8. Is there a food out there that you wish you could eat in a restaurant but isn’t possible to make free from, or maybe you know how but hospitality people don’t know?
Croissants and Danish pastries are my absolute love. I have perfected a recipe for Danish pastry that is in my pastry ebook. I wish more people in hospitality made them!
9. Can you let us in on any future plans or products?
I have plans for further wholesome food products and I also hope to be doing a lot more teaching in the coming year.
10. Can you tell us something funny, interesting or totally random…food or otherwise?
When I was 5 I lived in Mexico and as a treat we used to go to a local hotel for breakfast of chilaquiles…a spicy Mexican dish. I guess that’s where I developed my love of spicy, interesting food.
You can find more about The Free From Fairy on her social media channels, where she often posts a variety of recipes and has recently been vlogging too:
All images copyright of The Free From Fairy.