Podcast about Christmas food and how people with dietary requirements navigate the season

Cathy Icardo owns an artisanal and allergen-friendly marshmallow business that is trading at Cardiff Christmas Market. We discuss seasonal treats for people with food preferences

As Christmas time approaches, more and more people are out and about enjoying the festive feeling around Cardiff. The Christmas Market has returned after its absence last year because of Covid-19 restrictions, but not all restrictions have been lifted. 

Those with additional dietary needs are still limited in the selection of food they can enjoy in the run-up to Christmas.

Alt.Cardiff podcast Where’s the Salad? discusses the difficulties of finding alternatives to traditional Christmas food if you have special dietary needs. Co-host Shubhangi Dua says she’s always left with limited options: “As a vegan living in Cardiff, I found it difficult to consume Christmas themed food that met my idea of health and sustainability. For instance, plant-based meat may not necessarily be gluten free and the process of its production is heavily refined.

“However, Christmas drinks will take me through the winter.”

Listen to the podcast here:

But there are some businesses in the Christmas Market breaking the mould and catering to those with extra requirements. Cathy Icardo runs one of these businesses.

Cottage Sweets was founded by trained chef Cathy and she began making marshmallows from her new home in Monmouthshire, after moving from the USA. The recipe she created was allergen friendly by chance – it contains no gluten or dairy – and has nothing artificial either.

The most popular flavours at her stall include strawberry and toasted coconut, with Christmassy recipes like gingerbread appearing at her stall as well this time of year.

Cathy Icardo at her stall at the Cardiff Christmas Market
Christmas candy from Cathy

She spoke to us in this podcast about her business and her Christmas food favourites. 

Vegans and vegetarians aren’t limited to nut roasts anymore at Christmas

Cathy Icardo

We also discuss how dietary requirements and preferences have impacted our festive experience.

“It is, at this point, so easy to find a recipe which is delicious,” Cathy explains, “there’s so much attention paid to [dietary requirements and preferences] these days, and there are so many good chefs and cooks.

“Vegans and vegetarians aren’t limited to nut roasts anymore at Christmas. There’s all sorts of good things to eat.”

In terms of her own business, Cathy says of her marshmallows, “The one thing I’ve made sure to source that’s gluten free are the sprinkles. That, for someone who’s hypersensitive, is where it sneaks in.” She also ensures they’re safe for pregnant people too. 

The Cardiff Christmas Market will be open until Thursday 23 December and you can visit Cathy’s stall on The Hayes.