Always read the ingredients!

I thought I was being really clever yesterday. We were heading out for a day’s shopping and I was worried about the food choices I’d get. So I prepared a load of raw veggie sticks and a pot of homemade sun-dried tomato hummus. Sounds good, right? Healthy, nutritious, and all homemade, so must be palm oil free?

No! Well, OK, it might be, but I made the mistake of not checking the ingredients on EVERYTHING and the tomatoes were preserved in an unspecific vegetable oil. I’ve tweeted Merchant Gourmet to see if they can help. But I’m not going to waste all that food, so it’s going down the hatch regardless. Sorry!

(Update: Great news from Merchant Gourmet; their oil is sunflower, and they’ve changed their labelling for future jars)

As I realised my homemade lunch would contain palm oil anyway, it made me slightly more relaxed about heading out to a restaurant, resigned to failure already. We toyed with going to the Rainbow Café, which is a vegetarian and vegan restaurant in Cambridge. However, they’re closed for a refurb at the moment so after browsing Veganuary’s list of chain restaurant menus, we opted for Carluccio’s. They have a separate vegan menu and were right next to the car park where we arrived.

I had a lovely tomato and basil spaghetti, with a side dish of black kale, roasted tomatoes, olives and peppers. Very colourful and tasty. Mini Page ate all the olives though, and about a third of my pasta. Must get her own portion next time! The side dish was in olive oil, so I think that would be OK, but I didn’t ask what vegetable oil was used for the main. I didn’t think at the time, but I’ll email them to see if they can tell me.

(Update: Carluccio’s have replied to say they cook in sunflower oil or extra virgin olive oil, so all palm oil free. Hooray!)

I didn’t fancy the sorbet or fruit salad desserts offered, but I did purchase a jar of dark chocolate hazelnut truffles from their shop, and they are amazing! You can buy them online here.

My other homemade venture was bread. It seems impossible to get a loaf without palm oil but I had this Wright’s Mixed Grain bread mix in the larder already. I admit it was a couple of week’s out of date, and this is what caused some confusion on ingredients.


My packet (on the left above) was clear that it had no palm oil. But when I went to order some more online the packet design had changed (on the right above), and the ingredients list had changed! Again, this highlights how important it is to always check the ingredients lists, even on products you buy regularly.

The new recipe includes Emulsifier E472e. According to Palm Oil Investigations this can be derived from palm oil. I tweeted Wright’s Baking to clarify its source.

The good news is that the E472e is not from palm oil and I was assured there is no palm oil in any Wright’s bread mixes.


The bread mix was really easy to use, and the resulting bread soft and fluffy on the inside, but nice and crispy on the crusts.

Happy palm oil free baking!

Oh, and my hummus was lovely, with my very colourful rainbow plate of veg… (Here’s hoping it’s palm oil free)



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