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Collective Purchasing does Gluten Free

Since the summer we have been working on a gluten free month for collective purchasing. We spoke with many suppliers and brands who supply gluten free products and spoke with coeliac UK to gain some more insight into life without gluten. We were able to gain some great insight into how to cater for those with gluten allergies.

Weekly Vine


We opted for the month of October to be our ‘Collective Purchasing Does Gluten Free’ month, and wow what a success. We sent a select few of our members a pack in the post with the opportunity to win a hamper of goodies, all kindly donated. There was also some great information supplied by Coeliac UK and we had some product offers! We ran the campaign on twitter, offering one lucky winner a hamper of goodies from the following;

We had over 430 people enter the competition, and we ended up with so many products, we were able to give a runner up prize. So two very lucky twitter followers won so amazing gluten free products! You want to be in with a chance of winning in the future? Make sure you give us a follow!

Product of the week

Throughout the month of October all our products of the week were focused around gluten free, and whilst these are no longer available, keep an eye out for future product of the weeks on our twitter page!

We just want to thank everyone that was involved; and we look forward to doing more awareness months in the future. If you want to find out more about gluten free, check out this blog we wrote – you guessed it, in October!


Gluten Free

Gluten-Free – The facts!

We have all heard of gluten-free diets but did you know 7% of Brits are gluten-free because of allergies or intolerances, compared with 8% who avoid gluten purely for health reasons!

Coeliac, wheat allergy, gluten intolerance – what’s the difference?

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  • Coeliac disease is a serious illness in which the body’s immune system attacks itself when gluten is eaten. This causes damage to the lining of the gut and means that the body cannot properly absorb nutrients from food. Coeliac disease is not a food allergy or intolerance, it is an autoimmune disease.
  • Wheat allergy is a reaction to proteins found in wheat, triggered by the immune system and usually occurs within seconds or minutes of eating.
  • Non-coeliac gluten sensitivity is when symptoms similar to coeliac disease are experienced, but there are no associated antibodies and no damage to the lining of the gut.

Gluten in food

Common Foods That Contain Gluten include Pasta, Noodles, Bread and Pastries, Cereal & Granola and things like stuffing as well as some sauces.

Food shopping

This is by no means an extensive list but is where gluten is commonly found.

Now we know the basics, let’s look at what other, more surprising products contain gluten.

  • Some alcohol
  • Some instant coffee granules
  • Spices
  • Soy sauce
  • Some chewing gum
  • Liquorish

Food Swaps

When looking into food swaps try some of these…

Cereal – Try gluten-free oats or cereal alternatives.

Crisps – although not all contain gluten, try rice cakes or prawn crackers as a safe alternative.

Beer-check the labels, but you can buy gluten-free beer as an alternative. If not stick with wine!

** We recommend checking the labels on everything to ensure **

Check out some of these recipes from a blog we wrote last year!


When preparing gluten-free foods, it is important to avoid cross-contact. Cross-contact occurs when foods or ingredients come into contact with gluten, generally through shared utensils or a shared cooking/storage environment. In order for food to be safe for someone with celiac disease, it must not come into contact with food containing gluten.

Places where cross-contact can occur:

Toasters used for both gluten-free and regular bread


Cutting boards

Flour Sifters

Deep fried foods cooked in oil shared with breaded products

Shared containers including improperly washed containers

Condiments such as butter, peanut butter, jam, mustard, and mayonnaise can become contaminated when utensils used on gluten-containing food are double-dipped.

Wheat flour can stay airborne for many hours in a bakery (or at home) and contaminate exposed preparation surfaces and utensils or uncovered gluten-free products.


bazaar, bottles, business


Keep warm these winter months!

Its officially autumn, the nights are drawing in and soon the heaters will be on!

Eating healthy will keep you alert, energised and help protect you from illnesses in the winter months. Keeping a colourful and varied diet is extremely important – try to aim for 5 daily portions of fruit and vegetables.

Photography of Maple Trees

We have found some yummy winter warmer recipes for you to try!


Porridge is a fantastic filling and warming start to the day. Once you’ve mastered the basic porridge recipe, get creative and add your favourite toppings. Think fruit, toasted nuts and honey – the options are endless! Check out some of our favourite combos below…

Stir through coarsely grated apple (core and all) and runny honey, then squash in a handful of blackberries. Top with more fruit and a drizzle of syrup.

Blackberries On Table

Stir in a generous pinch of ground cinnamon, some poppy seeds and maple syrup. Top with sliced banana and a handful of toasted almonds.

Bunch of Yellow Banana

Stir through coarsely grated apple (core and all) and maple syrup, then top with a handful of toasted pecans and a drizzle more syrup.

Variety of Brown Nuts on Brown Wooden Panel High-angle Photo


Lunch, dinner or supper; soups make a great meal. Team with some crusty bread and butter and you have the perfect winter warmer to fill up until the next meal!

Click this link for some tasty and healthy soup ideas. Our fave is this creamy mushroom soup!

Creamy mushroom soup


  • 600 g mixed mushrooms
  • 1 onion
  • 2 sticks of celery
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • a few sprigs of fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • a few sprigs of fresh thyme
  • olive oil
  • 1.5 litres organic chicken or vegetable stock
  • 75 ml single cream
  • 6 slices of ciabatta
  • extra virgin olive oil


  1. Brush the mushrooms clean, then finely slice.
  2. Peel and finely slice the onion, celery and garlic, then pick the parsley, finely chopping the stalks. Pick the thyme leaves.
  3. Heat a splash of olive oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat, add the onion, celery, garlic, parsley stalks, thyme leaves and mushrooms, pop the lid on and cook gently until softened.
  4. Spoon out 4 tablespoons of mushrooms, and keep for later.
  5. Pour the stock into the pan and bring to the boil over a medium heat, turn the heat down to low and simmer for 15 minutes.
  6. Season to taste with sea salt and black pepper, then whiz with a stick blender until smooth.
  7. Pour in the cream, bring just back to the boil, then turn off the heat.
  8. Toast the ciabatta on a hot griddle pan, then top with most of the reserved mushrooms and drizzle lightly with extra virgin olive oil.
  9. Spoon the soup into bowls, garnish with the chopped parsley and remaining mushrooms, and serve with the ciabatta crostini on the side.


Although not always the most attractive dinner, a bowl of warm, hearty stew is always a welcome sight on a cold day. From a classic beef stew with dumplings to a vegetarian hotpot to a quick fish stew, click here to find a recipe for every occasion.

Keep Moving!

Silhouette of 4 Person Walking

Even though it’s harder to get motivated with the shorter days and cold weather, it is still important to stay active in the winter months. If you can, try to get out of the house for a breath of fresh air. If not there are plenty of exercises that can be done indoors from armchair exercises to yoga and even dancing. It is also really important to stay hydrated in the winter as we do in the summer, it is harder and as we get older it is harder to recognise the signs of being dehydrated. A great way to know you are keeping hydrated throughout the day is to fill a large jug with water in the morning and use that throughout the day, add lemon or cucumber to the water for extra flavour.


Dementia Awareness

Lets talk about Dementia


Alzheimer's Society

Every year World Alzheimer’s Day takes place on 21 September, and is the focus of World Alzheimer’s Month in September. It’s an opportunity for organisations and individuals around the world to raise awareness, highlight issues faced by people affected by dementia and demonstrate how we can overcome them to help people live well with dementia.

The word ‘dementia’ describes a set of symptoms that may include memory loss and difficulties with thinking, problem-solving or language. These changes are often small to start with; however they soon become severe enough to affect daily life. A sufferer may also experience changes in their mood or behaviour.

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia, but not the only one. The specific symptoms that someone experiences will depend on the parts of the brain that are damaged and the disease that is causing the dementia.


A person with dementia will have cognitive symptoms (to do with thinking or memory). They will often have problems with some of the following:

  • day-to-day memory – for example, difficulty recalling events that happened recently,
  • concentrating, planning or organising – for example, difficulties making decisions, solving problems or carrying out a sequence of tasks (such as cooking a meal),
  • language – for example, difficulties following a conversation or finding the right word for something,
  • visuospatial skills – for example, problems judging distances (such as on stairs) and seeing objects in three dimensions,
  • orientation – for example, losing track of the day or date, or becoming confused about where they are.

How we help

As a company who looks after the spending for hundreds of care homes on a daily basis; We fully support ways to improve
the quality of life for sufferers. We are all also dementia friends. If you need to find out more about dementia friends, click here!

Here are a few ways we help you to help sufferers.

Trusted suppliers

We work with the likes of Care shop, Countywide and Blueleaf who are all specialised in the dementia field. Not only do they supply medical goods, but they supply items such as memory boxes and games. We featured one of the games packs in our product of the week last week. Prices start from £39.95!

Food moulds

As part of our offering, we can source food moulds through our furniture and equipment department. A fairly new concept within the UK care home, a silicon food mould will transform a dementia patient’s plate. Making meals more visually pleasing, appetizing and helping residents to dine with dignity. Read more here…


Dementia friendly crockery

Equipment to help support residents with dementia is the perfect way to promote independence. We provide a  wide range of tableware that does just this.

 “Eating three times a day is something many of us take for granted but just think how difficult mealtimes can be for many people with disabilities; we believe the right tableware can be a relatively simple way to ensure your guests get the nutrition they need as independently and safely as possible”. Bidvest Catering Equipment.


It’s Brew Time!

A great Cup of tea remains a national treasure and is the most consumed drink in the UK! We typically brew up 3 times a day; although one in four thirsty Britons will get through 5 cups or more!

How do you like your tea?

Whilst us Brits can all agree that we love tea, how we enjoy our tea is quite a different story. Some like it milky, some like it strong; Whilst some like it with sugar, some are sweet enough!

A poll for WRVS, a charity that provides support for older people, revealed 35 per cent of people like their tea to be mid-brown; with only 3 per cent preferring their tea very milky. One in five likes to brew their tea in a teapot, while a traditional 6 per cent still use a cup and saucer. And 7 per cent are so picky that they will not let anyone else make them a cuppa. (when you know what you like, you know hey!)

How do you drink your tea

*Photo from Daily Mail.*

Try something new!

Fancy trying some new Tetley teas? Check out this blog from 2016 where we reviewed loads of teas, from fruit to decaf! We said it then, we will say it again – Tetley, we love you!!!


Collective Purchasing Tetley Tea Review


Furniture and Equipment

Collective Purchasing – Your one stop shop for all your furniture and Equipment needs.

Our dedicated furniture and equipment department can supply competitive prices for anything from towels and bed linen to care equipment and beds.

Make us your first stop!

Whether you know the exact make and model you are after or need greater assistance on what to choose; we will give a no obligation quote on any item. Our prices are competitive with a huge range of available suppliers to choose from. We were able to save a 68-bed care home 29% on Nisbet’s prices when they were kitting out their facility. Each week we also have one very special offer on – Our CP Product of The week – From table and chairs to magic mixers we really do have it covered!

 Like us on Twitter to keep up to date with what we have on offer!



Find out what else we can offer here.  We can save you money on all your daily consumables including housekeeping. Check out our focus on housekeeping here – Still not sure? Read why you should look into using a buying consortium.

Bringing soft food to life!


Eating is a multi-sensory experience. Chefs make food look pleasing, coffee shops waft the smell of pastries and coffee into the streets to seduce the passer-by and indulgent treats are placed at eye level in supermarkets.

It would be logical to think that taste is the sense that rules the roost. The biting, chewing, and swallowing is the bit that tells us what food tastes like. Our mouth is full of flavour receptors telling us that this tastes sweet, or this tastes bitter.

However, research suggests it is our eyes leading the way with our tongues following. Our eyes see the food, they tell the brain what it will taste like and we taste what we think we should.

Image result for senses

So, what happens if our food doesn’t look appealing on the plate? How would that affect the taste?

Many people, especially in care homes, need to have their food puréed due to swallowing difficulties. It is estimated that 70% of people in UK care homes need to have some level of purée meals. These meals can be shapeless, tasteless and they generally don’t look like the foods that they are.

Senses we use when eating


We eat with our eyes first. If you see something you fancy, you want to eat it. In restaurants, the server may walk past with something that you may not have considered, but you think it looks good so you order it. In shops, tempting goodies are put at the checkout so you grab them without thinking. This is why you should never do your food shop when hungry!

The appearance of the food we eat plays an important role when eating. If you needed to eat a puréed diet and were handed a meal that resembled baby food, you might not be too excited to eat it.

Image result for senses when eating


Smell is another sense you use when eating. You may be in someone’s home for dinner and as you walk in you can smell the food cooking from the kitchen. Freshly baked bread can often be smelt in supermarkets and fast food restaurants pump the smell of their food into the street. All this entices you to eat – hungry or not.

Purée meals can sometimes not smell as strongly as solid foods. This is because they are often mixed with liquids in order to make them soft enough.  If all ingredients are mixed together it can be difficult to decipher what you are eating. Coupled with it not looking like it should, it is no wonder that residents may refuse food.  A company called Ode have come up with a fantastic sensory device. Their foodie fragrances offer sensory stimulation before meals are served, helping to promote appetite. When placed in a shared room, Ode’s fragrances foster conversation and create engaging mealtimes, helping reduce social isolation in older adults. Creating mouthwatering smells in the room can help bring back memories of mealtimes for those who have memory problems.



Image result for senses when eating


You touch your food with your mouth and tongue and if it doesn’t feel right you spit it out. Whilst texture doesn’t affect taste it can certainly affect the enjoyment of a dish. A purée meal is just that, purée. There is no way around it. The food needs to be easy to swallow and therefore the texture will not be the same as solid food.


The recent craze of taking photos of food and posting them on social media sites such as Facebook and Instagram means we are seeing and thinking about food even more. In fact, the average Brit spends a whopping third of their waking time either talking about or thinking about food.

When eating, all senses are used and this is what makes eating enjoyable. Eating is a sociable occasion, especially in a care environment. Meal times could be the only sociable activity residents partake in each day. The look, texture and taste of foods can make a world of difference in someone’s desire to eat. If a resident is presented with a meal that doesn’t smell or look appetising they might not want to eat it. At the end of the day, those with swallowing difficulties still eat with their eyes. Purée meals are essential; they provide nutrients to those who otherwise would not be able to eat. The trick is to make these meals fun and enjoyable again. When you serve a meal always ask yourself, “Would I be happy to eat this?”

Image result for eating care home

Purée meals

There are many ways to make purée food more appealing. Rather than liquidising the different parts of a meal all together, liquidise the main element of the meal and the vegetables separately. This way, they keep their individual taste, smell and colour and look more inviting. To improve the appearance of the plate, use a range of different coloured foods in meals to increase variety e.g. fish or meat in sauce, puréed carrots and mashed potato.

Food presentation

Always think about the presentation of food to make it attractive and appetising. You can pipe mashed potato through a shaped nozzle or pipe cream on to puréed fruit; serve puréed food using an ice cream scoop or use moulds to give food shape.

Piping bags and ice cream scoops

The use of piping bags allows the chef to pipe shapes out of puréed food onto the plate. This helps make the resident’s plate look more exciting and ‘normal’ as the purée looks more like solid food. Using piping bags and ice cream scoops mean that food is separate on the diner’s plate. This prevents the food from looking unattractive and encourages less waste. Piping bags and ice cream scoops are readily available and most care homes will have them already, making it a cheap option for improving the presentation of food. The below image shows how you can combine both these tools. Using an ice cream scoop for the mashed potato and a piping bag for the carrots has instantly transformed this plate into a meal that looks more edible.

Image result for puree food

Food Moulds

Another way to make mealtimes with a purée diet more pleasurable is to use food moulds. These can revolutionise meal times for people with swallowing difficulties – bringing a sense of normality back again.

With a little bit of imagination, you can create anything that your residents desire; from curry to salmon. These moulds will encourage residents to eat once again, and will help make them feel a part of the care home community; as the food on their plates will look like that of other residents’.


Food moulds are easy to use. You simply create the puréed food and once the mix has reached the correct consistency, you spread the mixture into the purée food mould and freeze.

There are so many different recipes available, here are a few. Combining the piping bags, ice cream scoops and the moulds will help make mealtimes a happy time once again.

Using the correct foods 

Lots of foods work well when softened with liquids such as fruit juice, cream, yoghurt, gravy, stock and meat juices. All these also add extra nutrients to the meal. As with other meals, it is important to ensure the puree is well seasoned as this will improve the taste; especially once blended as when food is pureed it can lose some of its original flavours. Some foods don’t blend well, so using the correct food is important.

Using the correct foods 

Lots of foods work well when softened with liquids such as fruit juice, cream, yoghurt, gravy, stock and meat juices. All these also add extra nutrients to the meal. As with other meals, it is important to ensure the purée is well seasoned as this will improve the taste; especially once blended as when food is puréed it can lose some of its original flavours. Some foods don’t blend well, so using the correct food is important.


You may be thinking that all this will make your time in the kitchen longer. However, using these tricks will save you time. You will no longer need to spend as much time cooking and preparing purée food daily as you can batch cook and freeze the dishes. This means there is less time spent making purée meals, and cleaning the food blender multiple times afterwards!  The moulds are also oven and microwave safe as well as dishwasher safe making cleaning a breeze!

There are even companies that sell puree food frozen. Companies such as Nourisher who have a range of 12 protein flavours, 8 vegetables & 2 carbohydrates frozen in ready to use ice cubes and pouches. This makes creating meals for those on a soft diet even easier.

If you would like to purchase any moulds or equipment to make your residents’ lives easier when it comes to eating, give us a call today!


01329 236821

Wimbledon 2018

In Pursuit of Greatness!

Wimbledon 2018 runs from 2nd July until the 15th July. The iconic tennis competition, come rain or shine, is a sign that the English summer has well and truly started!

Image result for wimbledon logo

Other than tennis what else comes to mind when we say Wimbledon?

  • Strawberries?
  • Cream?
  • Pimms?
  • All of the above?

Well, we have made it our mission to find out why these things, in particular, strawberries play such an important role in the 2-week tournament.


The first Wimbledon happened in 1877. During the Victorian era, it was very fashionable to eat strawberries. They were part of the newfound desire to have afternoon tea! So when the well to do spectators attended the summer event, they opted for strawberries’ and the tradition stuck! Last year spectators ate a mountainous 28000kg of the red berry! (that is a whopping 166,000 servings). If laid out this would equate to 37 miles of the juicy fruit! All strawberries for Wimbledon are reasonably sourced British produce. Picked on the day they are served, they come from Kent. Starting their journey from the farm at 4 am to Wimbledon at 11 am!


White Bowl of Whole Strawberries


To go with the 28000kg  of strawberries, 7000 litres of cream are served each year. Back in the Tudor time, at Hampton court palace, whilst serving 600 diners a day. The chef was looking for a quick and easy dessert; and just like that, the inventions of Strawberries and Cream was born. Now, you simply can’t have strawberries with some fresh double cream! It’s the Law!!!


The Pimm’s Cup’s origins date back to 1832 when London oyster bar owner James Pimm started offering guests a gin-based beverage containing quinine and a secret blend of spices.  The drink’s popularity quickly grew, and by the end of the 19th century, it was all over the United Kingdom. The first Pimm’s bar opened at the 1971 Wimbledon tournament. Nowadays spectators enjoy over 80,000 pints of Pimm’s and lemonade each year.


It’s not just the above that is a favourite amongst tennis lovers. Check out this infographic, showing what is sold each year at Wimbledon in just the two weeks!

Are you planning on watching the tennis this year? Why not combine the above favourites into one of these scrummy recipes.

Pimm’s scones

Pimm's scones

Two classics combined into doubly delicious results, these scones will go down a treat at a summer party, served with lashings of Pimms-soaked fruit and boozy whipped cream.

Eton mess cheesecake

A plate serving Eton mess cheesecake

If you’re after a summer dessert to impress, try this decadent Eton mess cheesecake filled with creamy mascarpone, topped with meringues and strawberries.

Are you getting value for money?

Here at collective purchasing, we can get you some amazing prices on strawberries, cream and Pimms. In fact, we are able to get you amazing prices on all of your daily consumables; from dairy to frozen. Why not challenge us to a price review today. Completly free of charge! See how much we can save you!!

Tea-riffic Competition!

A great Cup of tea remains a national treasure and is the most consumed drink in the UK! We typically brew up 3 times a day; although one in four thirsty Britons will get through 5 cups or more!

How do you like your tea?

Whilst us Brits can all agree that we love tea, how we enjoy our tea is quite a different story. Some like it milky, some like it strong; Whilst some like it with sugar, some are sweet enough!

A poll for WRVS, a charity that provides support for older people, revealed 35 per cent of people like their tea to be mid-brown; with only 3 per cent preferring their tea very milky. One in five likes to brew their tea in a teapot, while a traditional 6 per cent still use a cup and saucer. And 7 per cent are so picky that they will not let anyone else make them a cuppa. (when you know what you like, you know hey!)

How do you drink your tea

*Photo from Daily Mail.*

Win Win Win

To celebrate the uniqueness of us tea drinkers, we are giving one lucky person a tea-riffic prize. If you work in the care sector or in the hospitality industry and would love to win a hamper of goodies for your work; all you have to do is follow @collectivePurch on Twitter, send us a tweet with a photo of your ideal brew and use the #BestBrew to be entered. All entries need to be in by 2nd July (midnight). Collective Purchasing will announce the winner on Thursday 5th July!

Good Luck!!


Tetley Tea Comp


Fancy trying some new Tetley teas? Check out this blog from 2016 where we reviewed loads of teas, from fruit to decaf! We said it then, we will say it again – Tetley, we love you!!!


Collective Purchasing Tetley Tea Review


Raise some dough this cupcake day!

The 14th of June sees the annual Alzheimer’s Society cupcake day return for its 3rd year. So far a whopping £1.4 million pounds has been raised; and the Alzheimer’s Society is urging everyone to unite against dementia with their families, friends and colleagues to raise more dough this year; whilst having a giant helping of fun!

Free stock photo of food, heart, dessert, pink

There are about a million different ways make a cupcake – it can be as easy (clue: packet mix) or as fancy as you like. And let’s face it however they look, they all taste great fresh out of the oven (or fresh from the shop!) Each cupcake sold will help towards finding a cure, help improve care and offer someone to talk to for people affected.

By signing up for your fundraising pack you will get all this…

  • Posters to help you spread the word (more people that know, the more people will come and buy your cakes!)
  • Fundraising ideas and fun games to play on the day
  • A donation box and Gift Aid form (for the all-important ‘dough’)
  • Cake toppers and decorations
  • A selfie-frame to share your creations on social media (use the #CupcakeDay and tag @collectivepurch and @alzheimerssoc
  • Some lip-smackingly fab recipes to inspire you.

The difference your Cupcake Day makes

Dementia devastates lives; In the UK, someone develops dementia every three minutes, and there is currently no cure. But together Alzheimer’s Society says we will beat it, dementia will not win.

Until the day we find a cure, Alzheimer’s Society will be there for anyone affected by dementia – wherever they are, whatever they’re going through.

By hosting a Cupcake Day you get to enjoy some tasty treats with your workmates, friends and family knowing you are helping to find new treatments and, ultimately, a cure for dementia.

Why not take a ‘whisk’ and try one of these recipes


Marmite cupcakes

Here we have two recipes for marmite cakes that you will either love or hate; Marmite caramel and marmite chocolate. Find the recipes here.

Peppermint and Liquorice

The crunchy peppermint goes great with the sticky Liquorice. Find the recipe here.

Ch-acon cake

Dark Chocolate and Bacon; what’s not to love? Take yourself on a taste adventure and give these a try. Recipe is here

Why not go savoury?

This one is seriously weird. What could be better than mini turkey meatloaves topped with mashed potato “frosting?” Find the recipe here.