Product Guide | Viva!

Product Guide

Product Guide

Nearly all the ingredients in the recipes are available from Waitrose and/or large branches of Sainsbury's, Tesco, Asda and Morrisons. But if you have an independent health food shop near you, use it - they are a treasure trove, especially the ones that sell real food (as opposed to supplements!). Or try mail order - Goodness Direct is a fantastic online wholefood company that delivers ( 


Know Your Labels

Although we have done most of the work for you regarding products, it's good to understand how nutritional labelling works if you want to try other items. It isn't as complicated as you might think - just read our instructions below and take reading glasses to the shops if you are of a certain age! 


Per Cent or Per Portion?

When writing fat levels on a product, manufacturers often give two measurements: per cent and per portion. The percentage should be no more than 10 per cent, while 3g of fat should be the maximum per portion - this is what we have based our recipes on. 


Products suitable for the D-Diet

Alpro Soya Low Fat Desserts

These come in several flavours: Vanilla, Chocolate, Dark Chocolate or Caramel. 

Agave Syrup

A natural sweetener that is low GI compared to sugar and other syrups - but use sparingly, nonetheless. Available in most large supermarkets (not Asda at time of writing).


Breakfast Cereal - see Oats also
Weetabix or supermarket own-brands are good. However, some Kellogg or supermarket breakfast cereals such as branflakes are fortified with an animal-derived Vitamin D3 so are not suitable for vegans. As ever, check the label.

  • Nature's Path - mostly vegan
  • Mesa Sunrise Flakes - a healthy breakfast cereal - available in most large supermarkets (not Asda at time of writing)
  • Dorset Cereal Muesli - or any other good quality muesli that is whey/honey/sugarfree. (Avoid Alpen and similar, which tend to add these unhealthy extras!)

Cooking Sauces and Pastes
These make handy store-cupboard or freezer back-ups. They can jazz up simple dishes in the twist of a lid.

Curry Sauces
Many are suitable, but avoid those laden with cream, yoghurt and other dairy - or high amounts of coconut. Read labels carefully. The following are suitable:

  • Lloyd Grossman: Balti; Bhuna; Dhansak; Dopiaza; Jalfrezi sauces
  • Patak: Jalfrezi; Balti sauces


Curry Pastes

A couple of tablespoons cooked in with onions and other vegetables then mixed with passata (sieved tomatoes) will make a good alternative to curry sauce.

  • Patak: Balti; Bhuna; Biriyani; Jalfrezi; Mild; Korma; Rogan Josh; Tikka and Tikka Masala; (all mild-medium). Also hot-very hot!: Kashmiri Masala; Madras; Extra Hot; Vindaloo


Chinese Sauces

Most of these are fine - but some dairy/egg gets slipped in occasionally so read carefully! Watch the sugar content also - if it is near the top of the list, that means there is a lot of it.


Thai Sauces
Most bottles or sachets contain fish sauce or egg or else are very high in fat. Instead, use Thai Taste Green Curry Paste or any paste that is fish/shrimp-free.

Aim for the wholewheat version if you can get it:

  • Merchant Gourmet - Sainsbury's
  • Merchant Gourmet Wholewheat Giant Couscous - Sainsbury's
  • Ainsley Harriot Tomato Tango Couscous
  • Belazu Barley Couscous (wheat-free but not gluten-free)
  • Sungrown Spicy Couscous
  • Tesco Mediterranean Couscous (not Roasted Vegetable or Wild Mushroom Couscous)


Crispbread and Crostini

  • Crispbread - Ryvita is available in any supermarket - andRyvita Minis are also a great snack attack stand-by! Sweet Chilli and Salt & Vinegar Minis are suitable, but avoid the Cream & Chive variety
  • Crostini - use a wholemeal variety such as Pogen Wholegrain Krispbread, available from Tesco, Sainsbury's, Ocado.



A Middle-Eastern mildly spiced chickpea fritter - delicious.

  • Cauldron brand is widely available in supermarkets. However, they are a whopping 11 per cent fat overall - so eat very sparingly. One falafel sliced up in a snack will be plenty. Redwood brand is nicer (in our opinion!) and a much healthier 4.2 per cent fat - available from Holland & Barrett and independent health food shops


Flaxseeds (see Linseeds)


Gravy Granules
Most vegetarian brands are suitable - don't overuse as they tend to be quite high in salt.

  • Asda Vegetarian Gravy
  • Bisto Best Roast Vegetable
  • Bisto Favourite (red tub)
  • Bisto Vegetable (green tub)
  • Sainsbury's Vegetarian Gravy
  • Tesco Vegetarian Gravy



The same as flaxseeds, these tiny little seeds provide an excellent source of essential Omega-3 fats. Available from large supermarkets in the following varieties:

  • Packets of whole seeds - by far the cheapest way to buy them. Grind up fine in a coffee or spice grinder a little at a time. (They have to be ground to release the omega-3 fat.) Store the mixture in a cool dark place in an airtight container. Store the remaining whole seeds in the same way. You need 1 tbsp per day - sprinkle on breakfast cereal or add to soups and stews in the bowl (don't cook)
  • Packets of ground flaxseed - available from large Tescos and health food shops


Mayonnaise - see Salad Dressing also

Even healthier vegan mayo is too high in fat for a diabetic regime. Try our easy homemade Soyannaise recipe instead.

Meat alternatives

  • Mince - the nicest is the frozen variety - (also called 'meat-free mince'): Linda McCartney; Asda; Tesco; Morrisons are all suitable. (Avoid Quorn - it is over 15 per cent fat, as well as containing egg and dairy. Compare this with Linda McCartneyVegemince at only 0.2 per cent fat!)
  • Redwood Cheatin' Slices - a great alternative for sandwiches - they aren't very low-fat but you only need one-two slices per sandwich
  • Real Eat Chicken-style pieces - great in stir-fries or other savoury dishes. Lightly toast in a little oil spray and add to stews, casseroles. Supermarket equivalents tend to add egg or be high in fat - so hunt for this brand in Holland & Barrett or other health food shops

Milk alternatives

Use any plant milks, eg soya, rice or almond. Avoid cows' milk, even skimmed, as it is particularly unhealthy for anyone with diabetes.


Dark miso is great in soups, gravies and other things that require a fairly strong, 'meaty' flavour. Clearspring brown rice miso is available from Sainsbury's and good health food shops. Sweet white miso - delicious to make a vegan 'cheesy' sauce or a light stock in soups - available from Sainsbury's or health food shops, sold in jars or pouches.

Nut butters

These aren't exactly lowfat but can be eaten in small amounts. The obvious use is on bread - or to make delicious sauces. Satay, orpeanut sauce is increasingly popular. Cashew butter is sublime but at present usually only available in health food shops, along with almond and other varieties. Meridian is one good brand.

Buy jumbo oats if possible as they are lower in GI than the usual porridge variety - and avoid the instant Ready Brek variety completely. Aim for half a cup per person and soak overnight in cold water - the oats cook quicker and are more digestible.

  • Asda Extra Jumbo Oats
  • Jordan's jumbo oats range
  • Sainsbury's Whole Organic Oats (Taste the Difference range)
  • Suma Jumbo Oats
  • Waitrose Jumbo Oats

For the gluten intolerant amongst you, replace with gluten-free porridge oats - or try other grains to make porridge: quinoa flakes, millet flakes and buckwheat flakes are available from good health food shops.

Go for wholemeal; it will taste different compared to white pasta but you will soon get used to it and find the white stuff a bit bland after a while! If you aren't convinced, try half and half wholemeal to white - put the wholemeal in for a minute or two first then add the white (check packet instructions). Wholegrain spaghetti, fusilli etc are available in all large supermarkets.

Pasta Sauces
Many sold in jars and fresh tubs are good - low or reduced fat and dairy/egg/meat-free. But do check the ingredients to ensure that no milk, sugar, mascarpone, cream, Parmesan etc has been added! See also page 42 for easy sauces.


  • Jars:
  • Asda: Tomato & Garlic Pasta Sauce; Tomato & Mushroom plus others - check labels
  • Loyd Grossman Tomato & Basil; Tomato Chargrilled Vegetable Pasta Sauce; Tomato & Mushroom, etc. - check labels.
  • Meridian - all range
  • Tesco Tomato & Olive; Onion & Garlic; Chunky Vegetable Pasta Sauce - and others. Check the labels


Fresh: Most simple tomato or tomato and basil sauces are suitable - just check the small print!


Peas, beans and lentils - all great sources of protein and iron, as well as fibre. Beans and lentils are sold in various ways: dried (uncooked); longlife packs; tins; frozen; pouches. Try and get the salt and sugar-free varieties if you can.

Merchant Gourmet make a delicious pouch of Puy lentils and sundried tomatoes which would form the basis of many a quick and delicious meal - available in most large supermarkets.


A quick-cooking wholegrain that is bursting with flavour. Widely available in larger supermarkets. See Easy Quinoa for cooking method and Moroccan Quinoa Salad for a recipe.


  • Cauldron Vegetable Roast - available only in large branches of Sainsbury's at present - and some health food shops
  • Granose Sunflower Seed, Lentil & Vegetable Roast Mix- available from Holland & Barrett or independent health food shops - sold as a dry mix then hydrated and baked. It is higher in fat than the Cauldron Roast, so go easy on the portions, but an alternative if you can't get hold of the Cauldron!


There is nothing like home-made soup and it's easy to make. Check out recipes for Lentil & Tomato SoupSmoky Split Pea Soupand Spicy Tomato & Two-Potato Soup. However, the time-pressed or kitchen-phobic need easy alternatives - hence this list of ready-mades. Other ready-mades may or may not be suitable - read the labels carefully.


Fresh soups
All major supermarkets sell these but they aren't all suitable so check the label.

Tinned/bottled soup
Sold in health food shops and large Waitrose stores.

  • Suma tinned soups are all vegan and low in fat and salt
  • Essential Wholefoods sell vegan soups in glass jars: White Asparagus; Gazpacho; Lentil & Pumpkin; Pea and Lentil - not all their range is vegan so check
  • Free & Easy - their tinned soups are usually vegan and reduced fat and include Split Pea or Red Pepper & Lentil; Potato & Leek

Salad Dressing (see also Mayonnaise) Most ordinary dressings are high in fat. Olive, walnut and sesame oil etc are certainly healthier compared to animal fats but they are still oils and a low-fat diet needs to reduce them to a bare minimum. So with that in mind, we have provided a handful of simple dressings and a list of readymade dressings below.

  • Newman's Own Lighten Up Balsamic
  • Newman's Own Lighten Up French
  • Tesco Light Choices Balsamic
  • Kraft Light Balsamic
  • Kraft Light Italian
  • Asda Good For You Italian-style
  • Asda Good For You Lemon & Black Pepper
  • Asda Good For You Vinaigrette
  • Sainsbury's Be Good To Yourself French Style


You can make your own or use up vegetable cooking water boosted with a bit of readymade stock - or just add boiling water to one of those below.

  • Marigold bouillon powder in the red (ordinary) or purple tub (low salt) is vegan - not the green tub
  • Kallo Just Bouillon or Organic Vegetable cubes
  • Green Oxo
  • Sainsbury's and Asda Vegetable stock cubes (green packet)
  • Waitrose vegetable stock in sachets and soup tubs - they also sell Kallo low salt vegetable stock cubes

Make up stock according to the packet instructions. Taste the dish you are cooking before adding salt as stock cubes/powder may be pretty salty already.


Read labels carefully - not all vegetable stock cubes are vegan - many add unnecessary dairy, which isn't good news for those on a diabetic diet.

Made from soya beans into a kind of cheese or curd, tofu is ideal for those on a diabetic or low GI/fat diet! It's a bit of a wonder food, in fact. It comes in many forms.

Silken tofu
Usually sold in longlife cartons (tetra packs) - look out for Mori-nu or Blue Dragon brands. It's available from large branches of Sainsbury's and Asda, some Waitrose too. Fresh silken tofu is available from some health food and Oriental shops - Taifun is a good brand.

Firm plain tofu
Available from most supermarkets - Cauldron brand. Chop lengthways into two "steaks", marinade in soya sauce. then bake at 220°C/440°F/gas mark 7 for 20 mins or fry in low-calorie spray.

Flavoured tofu Mainly found in health food shops: check out Taifun's Smoked or Tofu Rosso (sun-dried tomato) but use more sparingly as these types are higher in fat.

Veg pots
These are an excellent and easy quick meal. They are all low or reduced fat and pretty tasty, although some are a little bland. Try adding a little soya sauce or hot pepper sauce for a bit more oomph!

  • Clive's Pots Organic - all vegan, anything between 0.5 to 5.5 per cent fat. Available from good health food shops, Goodness Direct online etc.
  • Innocent - mostly vegan (two aren't so check the labels) around 3.5 per cent fat
  • Tesco - similar to Innocent - mostly but not all vegan



These are foods like brown rice, millet, quinoa, barley and buckwheat. It just means that they come as nature intended - with all their nutrient-rich fibre instead of having it stripped off. This makes them a perfect food for those on a diabetic or low-GI diet. See pages 38 and 39 for easy ways to cook quinoa and brown rice. Alternatively, try

  • Merchant Gourmet products: Wholesome Grains; Wholewheat Couscous or Red & White Quinoa - sold in pouches in Waitrose and some branches of Sainsbury's
  • Waitrose: frozen brown rice from larger branches


Alpro, Provamel, Sojasun and Sojade are all vegan. Alpro is the most common brand and is sold in large supermarkets: plain (500ml tubs) and fruit (500ml tubs or packs of four little tubs). Use the plain variety to make yoghurt and mint dressing/dollop on curries and breakfast cereals - as you would use traditional dairy yoghurt, in fact!