Mylan Specialty Launches New App

A colleague at Mylan gave me permission to share the below with you about a new FREE app they have launched.  The app has features that make it valuable to individuals with food allergies, as well as their families and loved ones.  Perhaps my favorite feature is the step-by-step instructions on how to use the EpiPen®.  What will be your favorite feature?

Keep reading to find out more about this new app and if you decide to download it, please share your thoughts with us!

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From Mylan Specialty:

My EpiPen App Logo“Mylan Specialty is excited to announce the launch of the My EpiPlanTM App. This resource reinforces Mylan’s commitment to awareness and preparedness for a life-threatening allergic reaction (anaphylaxis).

My EpiPlanTM App

  • The new, free App is available on iTunes® and Google Play™.*
  • Features dynamic content, specifically:
  • LEARN:  Articles about living with potentially life-threatening (severe) allergies, travel tips and more.
  • HOW TO: Step-by-step how to use EpiPen® (epinephrine) Auto-Injectors video.
  • TRACK: Patients can keep track of and share personal allergen profiles, along with register their EpiPen Auto-Injectors and receive reminders of where they’re keeping their devices and when they expire.”

Product Review: Wholly Wholesome Gluten-Free Pizza Dough

A few weeks ago a friend contacted me about giving the Wholly Wholesome Gluten-Free Pizza Dough a test run.  If I have to eat a pizza to do some research…fine…somebody has to do it, right?!  :)

whollywholesome_logoTo be honest, I wasn’t really expecting much only because I haven’t had just fabulous luck with gluten-free pizza…the dough or frozen variety.  There are a few products I do use as my go-to’s for pizza, but not much outside of Conte’s frozen plain pizza crusts or King Arthur’s GF pizza dough box mix come close to the real thing.

Wholly Wholesome’s Gluten-Free Pizza Crust is free of wheat, dairy, egg, soy, nut, corn, and casein.  This is a HUGE plus in my book because if you have multiple food allergies in your family (like we do at our house), this product is free from several major ones which might help you cater to more than one food allergy at once.

The first thing I will say is that the packaging of the product for mailing was fabulous.  The pizza dough must be kept refrigerated and was well-packed with dry ice to ensure the product was kept at an appropriate temperature.  I only mention this because when ordering online, especially something that needs to be temperature-controlled, I think the packaging and shipping says quite a bit about the company and their product.  If the company can’t be bothered to take time in carefully packaging the product, it makes me wonder how much care they take in making the actual product.  Luckily, Wholly Wholesome received an A+++ in this area, so no worries here!

After I opened the box, this is what I found inside.  I LOVE that the pizza dough is already assembled…I really do!  On a night when you’re running to football, ballet, PTA, and who knows what else, it’s the perfect homemade dinner.

Wholly Wholesome GF Pizza Dough1

The directions are simple and easy to follow.  The only thing you really need to have outside of the dough is a pizza pan.  We put the dough in the pan and then topped with mozzarella and asiago cheese, Canadian bacon, and pineapple.  It was fabulous!

Wholly Wholesome GF Pizza Dough

The best part is that the crust handles like I real gluten-filled pizza crust.  It doesn’t fall apart and has a great texture that supports most toppings.  The whole family (even those without food allergies) loved it.  I think this picture pretty much covers it.  It’s what was left after dinner.  :)

Wholly Wholesome GF Pizza Dough3

I’m delighted to say that Wholly Wholesome Gluten-Free Pizza Dough was absolutely fabulous and it is absolutely a product I will keep in rotation for my family.

Are you a Wholly Wholesome fan?  What is your favorite product?

Liberation Gluten-Free Bakery Is A Hit In Houston

Liberation.  The Miriam-Webster Dictionary defines it as “the act or process of freeing someone or something from another’s control : the act of liberating someone or something.”

Hold on to your mixing bowl and whisk, because I’m about to introduce you to a Houston allergy-friendly bakery that is going to liberate you from pressure to make a great-tasting dessert that even those without food allergies will covet.  Truly.

Meet Angela Winston, owner of Liberation Gluten-Free Bakery, who caters to baking delicious treats free from many common allergens.

Liberation Angela Winston

Angela is a food allergy mom, much like myself, so she understands first-hand the baking challenge parents face to provide lip smacking, allergy-safe meals and desserts for the entire family…and she rocks it!

Liberation sugar cookies and tea

Her eleven-year-old son was diagnosed with life-threatening wheat, dairy, soy, peanut, and tree nut allergies ten years ago.  Since that time, her son has outgrown several food allergies, but his wheat and tree nut allergies remain.

“For his first birthday, I bought an allergy-friendly cake mix.  It was unpalatable.  So, we started making everything from scratch and sure had some big flops,” says Angela, but she was not deterred in her mission to make allergy-safe treats that tasted sinfully delicious, and not just “good enough for a two-year-old with allergies.”

Liberation Vanilla Bean Cupcakes

“I really got into experimenting a year ago, although I bought my mixer seven months before I decided to go for it.  Once I was baking in earnest, I enlisted a group of neighbors and friends, some gluten-free and some not, to taste test my products.”

If you’re following closely here, this is one of my favorite things about Angela.  A fairy godmother didn’t pop out of the atmosphere and give her the magical gift of baking.  It is something she has worked hard to perfect.  It gives me hope that one day my own baked treats might morph into something as fantastic as hers.

Liberation Vanilla Bean Cake

Speaking of, I’m actually salivating a little as I write this post, so let me just hop to it…

Liberation Gluten-Free Bakery does custom allergy-friendly work.  Their equipment is dedicated gluten and nut-free.  In addition, orders can be placed for dairy, egg, and soy-free and even vegan treats.

To read the Liberation menu in full, be sure to visit the bakery’s website here.  In the meantime, here’s a snapshot of some customer favorites:

  • Cookies:  chocolate chip, oatmeal chocolate chip, oatmeal raisin, coconut lime sugar, plain sugar, gingersnaps, snickerdoodles ($15 per dozen)
  • Muffins:  apple cinnamon streusel, pumpkin streusel, banana streusel, blueberry ($28 per dozen and can be made in a mini-muffin size if preferred)
  • Brownies:  Aunt Ruby’s Brownies (regular or dark chocolate), Aunt Ruby’s Famous Brownies loaded with caramel and chocolate chips  ($40 per batch)
  • Cupcakes:  chocolate, carrot, coconut, vanilla, lemon, vanilla bean, red velvet, hummingbird, fresh strawberry  ($30 or $34 per dozen cupcakes depending on selection of a standard or premium flavor.)
  • Cakes:  chocolate, carrot, coconut, vanilla, lemon, vanilla bean, red velvet, hummingbird, fresh strawberry  (8-inch round two-layer cake runs $43-$48, ¼ sheet cake single layer runs $53-58, ¼ sheet cake double layer runs $75-$80)
  • Pies:  apple  ($25 per pie)
  • *Valentine Specials:  raspberry brownies, heart shape sugar cookies dusted with sugar in Valentine colors

Liberation works on an order basis only.  To place an order, Angela requests that you contact her by phone at 832-656-8648 so she can personally assess your allergy-free baking needs.  However, you can find Angela at The Farm Stand, a Houston farmer’s market, twice a month (for more details click here) where she often showcases things such as pizza crust, focaccia bread, scones, and more that you won’t normally find on the menu.

Now that I’ve given you the basics, I’ll go on to my product review.

If you are a regular reader, you know that I’m not necessarily a fan of ordering safe foods online or via custom order.  I usually purchase these items only if it is something I feel I cannot replicate in my own kitchen.

With that said, I absolutely envision Liberation Gluten-Free Bakery as a go-to for my family, because the food is just that delicious.  I almost feel funny trying to write a product review only because there are truly no words to describe what a gift Angela has.

My family taste tested the chocolate chip cookies, oatmeal raisin cookies, coconut lime sugar cookies, brownies, raspberry brownies, pumpkin streusel muffins, and vanilla bean cupcakes and all four of us simply fell in love.

Liberation GF Bakery (2)

My husband (the Picky Pete of the group) not only liked it and went back for more, but said it was “amazing and didn’t taste allergy-free at all.”  He’s right, you know (but don’t tell him I said that).  Every single baked good from Liberation had an amazing fluffy texture, incredibly moist, and didn’t have even a hint of the crumbly or heavy texture so often found in gluten-free products.

The best part?  My son and I can enjoy these treats together…and still have to fight off little sister and Dad.  It’s kind of a nice problem to have!

Hosting a Super Bowl party?  Need Valentine treats?  Have company coming into town?  Want to treat yourself?  Please consider giving Liberation Gluten-Free Bakery…you will SO thank me for it later!

Mylan Announces Continuation of “$0 Co-Pay Offer” for the EpiPen® in 2014

We are at the start of a brand new year and it’s a great time to take a few minutes and ensure all of your child’s medications (at home, school, and anywhere else they may be) have not expired.  Need to refill a prescription for an EpiPen®?  Boy, do I have some fabulous news for you…

So excited about the below news I received straight from the folks at Mylan about the EpiPen®!  As a mother of a child with food allergies, I sincerely appreciate companies that understand how expensive the food allergy life can be.  Thank you, Mylan, for saving lives AND saving your customers money!

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Epi $0 Copay

PRESS RELEASE FROM MYLAN (Reprinted with express permission from Mylan)

Mylan is excited to announce the continuation of the “$0 Co-Pay Offer” for the EpiPen® (epinephrine) Auto-Injector through December 31, 2014. Although our 25th anniversary celebration is coming to an end, Mylan’s commitment to access continues.

 Key details:

  • The “$0 Co-Pay Offer” is valid for up to three EpiPen 2-Pak® cartons or EpiPen Jr 2-Pak® cartons per prescription, and it can be used as many times as needed through December 31, 2014.
  • According to the food allergy guidelines developed by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, immediate access to two epinephrine auto-injectors is critical. The “$0 Co-Pay Offer” encourages preparedness everywhere, at home, at school or on the go.
  • This co-pay offer is available to both cash-paying and commercially insured patients. Certain restrictions apply.*
  • The offer, along with more information regarding terms and eligibility, is available for download at EpiPen.com

 *This offer is not available to patients who are in Medicare, Medicaid, TRICARE, or any other federal or state health care plan. The card is not transferable and the amount of the rebate cannot exceed the patient’s out-of-pocket expenses. Program expires 12/31/2014. Program managed by PSKW, LLC on behalf of Mylan Specialty L.P. Product dispensed pursuant to program rules and federal and state laws. Void where prohibited. The parties reserve the right to amend or end this program at any time without notice. This is not an insurance card.

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Enjoy Life Dark Chocolate Morsels: A Product Review

The folks at Enjoy Life (one of my favorite companies because of their largely allergen-free food) were kind enough to send me a package of their Dark Chocolate Morsels.

All of Enjoy Life products are free of wheat, dairy, peanuts, tree nuts, egg, soy, fish, shellfish, casein, sesame, and sulfites.  How many companies do you know that do the same?  Anyone?  *insert sound of crickets here*

At my house, we don’t dislike dark chocolate, but aren’t huge fans either so I was somewhat anxious about trying it out.  The morsels look just like regular chocolate chips, so in an effort to get an unbiased review, I decided not to tell my family I would be substituting dark chocolate morsels for the regular chocolate chips.

As luck would have it, my son requested a cookie cake for his birthday this year…the perfect opportunity to test drive the product.  I used my regular chocolate chip cookie recipe with the dark chocolate morsel substitution, and pressed all the dough into a round pizza pan to make one cohesive cookie.  I followed the recipe for baking temperature and just tinkered with the baking time a bit to make sure the cookie was thoroughly cooked and golden brown.

I even decided to add a little white icing on the top with a special birthday message to make it really look like something the Great American Cookie Company would be proud of!  I was very pleased with the end result and so was my son.

Enjoy Life Dark Chocolate Chips

Apparently, so was everyone else at the birthday party because there wasn’t much left of the cookie cake.  :)   Now, my theory is that if my husband and a group of 10-year-old boys didn’t notice the switch, no one will!

Bottom line, we loved the Dark Chocolate Morsels from Enjoy Life and will continue to be a fan of this company, their products, and their commitment to the food allergy community!  Thank you, Enjoy Life Foods!

Izzi B’s Allergen-Free Bakery Gingerbread House Kit A Real Treat!

For those of you who have followed me for a while, you know that I am a HUGE Izzi B’s fan…for several reasons!

Izzi B’s Allergen-Free Bakery products are vegan, all natural, gluten-free, nut-free, trans-fats-free, preservative-free, casein-free, dairy-free, egg-free, cholesterol-free, and soy-free with no refined sugars or artificial colors or flavors.  And, yes, for those of you wondering…it’s STILL delicious!

I’m not a huge fan of ordering of ordering allergy-free products online when there are so many to be found locally.  However, Izzi B’s is an exception to this rule.  I really love this company because the founder, Chef Pam, has a daughter who had an egg allergy (that she has now outgrown).  So, she gets what it’s like to live with food allergies and still live life to the fullest!

Every year for as long as I can remember, my grandmother, mother, sister, and I came together every December to make a gingerbread house.  Granted, it wasn’t always a masterpiece, but the fun memories we made creating it still warms my heart today!  When my son was first diagnosed with food allergies, this tradition became a challenge.  I mean, have you ever tried looking for an allergen-free gingerbread house online?  We tried everything from graham cracker to sugar cookie houses and it just wasn’t ever the same.  Until we found Izzi B’s gingerbread house kit!

Izzi B's Allergen-Free Bakery (8)

For more detailed information about the gingerbread house kit offered by Izzi B’s (including directions, what comes with the kit, and so on), please visit this previous post.

Interested in ordering a gingerbread house kit for the holidays?  There is still time!

To order through Izzi B’s, the company will ship via UPS with a $10 shipping fee and an average shipping time of four business days.  Shoppers can also purchase the kit for $29.50 through Amazon, but if you order at least $35 of purchases, you should qualify for free shipping.

Take a few minutes to research Izzi B’s and take back great tasting holiday traditions that are allergen-free!  Thank you, Izzi B’s, for bringing the gingerbread house tradition back to my family!

Allergy-Friendly Advent Calendar For Christmas

As a child, I always looked forward to counting down the days to Christmas with an advent calendar.  Heck, I’m a full-grown adult, and the idea still holds appeal.

Most of the advent calendars you find in the stores are of the chocolate variety.  You know the kind, you peel back a square for that day and just inside waits a delicious mouth-watering chocolate.  The best part is that you get a little piece of chocolate every single day from December 1st to the 25th.  The sad part is that the ingredient labels and allergy warnings on the back of most of those packages are ridiculously long and complex stating that it does or may contain just about every allergen there is.

So what is a mom to do?  Get creative, that’s what!  :)

Once my son was old enough to enjoy an advent calendar he still couldn’t have the average chocolate variety because of multiple food allergies.  So back to the drawing board we went looking for something a little different, but just as fun.  We were visiting a friend’s house and she had a board she had by the calendar full of fun Christmas things to do as a family before Christmas arrived.  What a fabulous idea for an advent calendar!  She let me steal her idea and now every year as the holidays approach, we usually send an email back and forth trying to decide if either of us has an activity or two we want to steal for our own calendar.

The best part of this idea is that it can be as simple or complex as you want it to be.  On a budget?  No problem…my idea shouldn’t cost more than $10 and is reusable from year to year.  Want to get crafty?  Go for it!  Would love to see what you come up with here and hope you will share!

Here is how to make your own advent calendar:

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Supplies:

  • 2 poster boards
  • Wrapping paper (scraps or a roll)
  • Miniature gift bows (the kind that peel and stick)
  • Sticky notes

Instructions:

  • Turn your poster board vertically and write a title at the top.  Ex:  Smith Family Advent Calendar
  • Take second piece of poster board and cut out twenty-five 2.5 inch by 2.5 inch squares (or whatever size you desire)
  • Wrap each of the 25 squares in wrapping paper.  Place a miniature bow on each so that it resembles a present.
  • Arrange squares on the titled poster board in desired design and tape down only the top border.  Now go back and put a small number above each square 1-25 to aid in counting down to Christmas.
  • Take 13 sticky notes and cut them in half.  Hide one sticky under every “present.”
  • Almost done.  Now write a fun family activity on each sticky note.  (I usually throw in a Christmas Bible verse too.)
  • You’re done.  Now, when December 1st rolls around, you simply lift up the “present” marked with a 1, and do that activity as a family!

I love this idea because it is food allergy-friendly and because it allows you to come together as a family during the holidays.

Need some ideas to get you started?  Here are some of the activities I like to list on my family’s advent calendar:

  • Go caroling.
  • Take Christmas cookies to a friend in need.
  • Visit a live nativity.
  • Drive around and look at Christmas lights.
  • Drink hot chocolate and stir it with a candy cane.
  • Watch The Grinch.
  • Have PJs and Polar Express movie night.
  • Build a gingerbread house (Check out Izzi B’s).
  • Visit Santa.
  • Buy a Christmas present for a child in need.
  • Make and red and green Christmas train.
  • Go ice skating.
  • Make a snowman (in Texas we have to get creative).
  • Camp out in your sleeping bags by the Christmas tree.
  • Make reindeer food (oatmeal and glitter in a ziploc).
  • Go to a local nursing home and bring cookies and board games and spend an hour or two.

This should be enough to get you started, and leave plenty of blanks to help you tailor it to your family’s annual activities and preferences.

What activities will you put on your advent calendar?  I’d love for you to comment and share!

Skeeters Snacks A Treat For Kids With Peanut and Nut Allergies

Have you heard about Skeeter Snacks?  If you have nut or peanut allergies, you should definitely get to know this company.  They reached out to me a few weeks ago to ask if I would review a few of their products and share my honest thoughts with you.

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First of all, the founders of this company both of have children with tree nut and peanut allergies (TPAs)…so they really GET what it’s like to live the food allergy life.  Their families were tired of forking over big bucks for nut-free products that didn’t even taste good.  They figured there had to be a better way…and a business was born!

My words don’t do their commitment to a peanut and nut-free company justice, so I’m going to share with you their exact words.

“How complete is our commitment to making nut-free snacks? Our facilities don’t even have nut products in the vending machines in the employee lounges! Whenever you see Skeeter, the squirrel who is allergic to nuts, holding his placard, you know that the product inside is delicious and nut-safe.

While there are other products available in the broadly-defined allergen and intolerance markets, we have focused exclusively TPAs. There are three reasons for this. First, nut allergies are the most lethal, most prevalent and fastest growing food allergies. Second, schools and institutions catering to kids are already way ahead of most consumer packaged goods companies in recognizing the importance of creating nut free zones. Finally, by focusing exclusively on TPAs we can produce products that taste great and are priced in line with main-aisle brands. We don’t want to have to buy separate snacks for our other kids who don’t have allergies, and we figure our customers feel the same way. It’s very important to us that we create products that non-allergic kids will love too because we want our snacks to be an inclusive experience.”     -Courtesy of Skeeter Snacks

For the purposes of this review, the nice folks at Skeeter Snacks sent us some of their Chocolate Chip and Cinnamon Graham Minis.  From a mom’s perspective, they are the perfect portable snack for when you’re on the road or away from home.

However, as many of you know, I’m gluten-free and Skeeter Snacks are not, so you will hear the rest of this product review straight from the lips of my 9-year-old son who has peanut and nut allergies.  :)

“For the chocolate chip cookies, you can really taste the chocolate mixed in with the sugar.  They are crunchy on the bottom and soft on top.  I like them because in most cookies the sugar doesn’t pop out, but it really tastes good in this cookie.  For the cinnamon graham cookies, they have a crunchy texture like a granola bar and you can taste the cinnamon.  My favorite are the chocolate chip cookies because I love chocolate.” -The Food Allergy Son

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Skeeters Snacks are always a sponsor for our local FARE walk in Houston and actively participate in the food allergy community.  My son and daughter even had the good fortune of trying their Skeeter Doodle cookie at the walk, and simply fell in love with the flavor.

Thank you, Skeeter Snacks, for such a delicious product that is 9-year-old approved!

 

Guest Post from H-E-B Houston President, Scott McClelland

A couple of weeks ago in the middle of my weekly grocery shopping at H-E-B, I had the good fortune of running into (literally) H-E-B Houston President, Scott McClelland.   I approached Scott and introduced myself as The Food Allergy Mom.  I must say, he was absolutely charming and every bit as warm and friendly as he appears in those tv ads.  I told him what a fan I am of H-E-B stores and products because of the tasty and affordable variety of gluten-free and allergen-friendly foods that they carry.  (Read more about our conversation here.)  We exchanged business cards and I asked him to check out my blog sometime.

Would you believe he emailed me by the day’s end to confirm that he had done so?  Not only that, but I asked Scott to consider doing a guest post for us here so others would know about all of the fabulous gluten-free and allergy-friendly options H-E-B offers every day and those that will be especially handy this holiday season.  He graciously accepted and his post is below.

If you haven’t already, I really do encourage you to stop by your local H-E-B grocery store and see the gluten-free and allergy-friendly glory for yourself!

A special thanks to Scott McClelland for taking the time to pen this post and for all that you and H-E-B do for the celiac and food allergy community!

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Gluten-Free and Allergy-Free at H-E-B

By Scott McClelland

H-E-B Logo

Every week I visit H-E-B stores throughout the state and more and more I’m asked by customers about the need for H-E-B to carry more gluten-free alternatives.

It’s clear that like all our customers, those who suffer from Celiac disease or have sensitivities to products with wheat, everyone likes having more choices available to them. With this as a backdrop, we have diligently been working to add gluten free variety into our stores. Here’s what H-E-B has been working on:

  • Expanded gluten-free sets in over 90 stores across H-E-B’s trade area. In three of our largest stores, we carry over 2,600 different SKU’s in 60 feet of dry, refrigerated and frozen gluten-free items. These stores are located at:

 -          I-10/Bunker Hill

-          Grand Parkway/Fry Road

-          Hwy 249/Louetta

  •  Added hundreds of gluten-free items in our H-E-B brands such as H-E-B®, Hill Country Fare®, H-E-Buddy® and Central Market® available at most stores.

This past January we launched our nutritional shelf tag program that highlights specific nutritional or lifestyle attributes that many of our customers are looking for. We started with seven different tags, and this month we expanded to eleven. Gluten-free was in the original lineup, and now vegan and vegetarian tags can be found throughout our stores. (Please note that the absence of this icon does not necessarily mean that the item contains gluten. We continuously update our database monthly and are adding more products to our shelf tag program.)

H-E-B Gluten Free Icon

As you may know, the FDA defined “gluten-free” this past August which standardizes the meaning of “gluten-free” claims across the food industry. Prior to this, the definition of gluten free for the items in our H-E-B family of brands has been: contains no wheat, barley, rye, triticale or any triticum species such as spelt or kamut. Residual gluten level is below 20 parts per million (PPM). Our definition was developed in conjunction with our local celiac support group.

Many of our stores have gluten-free items in specific aisles, and spread out among our various departments. Favorite items include:

  • H-E-B GF Pasta—penne, fusilli and spaghetti ($1.99 each-great taste at a great price!)
  • H-E-B Pasta Sauce—Tomato Basil, Vegetable Primavera
  • H-E-B GF Cornbread Mix
  • H-E-B That Green Sauce, That Red Sauce, Relish That Corn
  • H-E-B Plain Rice Crackers
  • H-E-B Hummus
  • CM Hummus
  • H-E-B Fresh Mozzarella
  • H-E-B Fully Cooked Sliced Smoked Turkey Breast or Pork Loin
  • CM GF Pasta—linguini, penne and spaghetti
  • CM Organics Low Sodium Chicken Broth, Vegetable Broth
  • PB2—use to replace flour in peanut-butter cookies, sprinkle on apple slices or add to smoothies
  • Chia seed—when mixed with water works as a great egg-replacer in baked goods (great source of fiber, omega-3’s)
  • Gluten Free Nation (Houston based)—sandwich bread and ready to bake pie crust
  • King Arthur Flour—GF pancake mix, multi-purpose flour
  • Southern Homestyle Corn Flake Crumbs, Tortilla Crumbs
  • Tate’s GF Chocolate Chip Cookies
  • NEWCentral Market GF Cake Mix

Although not store specific just yet, a list of gluten-free items can be found at http://www.heb.com/sectionpage/whats-in-store/departments/gluten-free/gluten-free-landing/products/sd30210057 (**note that this list is dated Jan 2013)

Some of the biggest hits with our customers are our selection of gluten-free breads, flours, lentil chips, and rice and nut based crackers. In our Healthy Living departments (located in most of our larger stores), you can also find many of our Central Market vitamin and mineral supplements that are free from wheat, gluten, milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, shellfish, artificial colors, flavors or preservatives.

Although our stores are not allergy-free zones, we will make every accommodation to help you. Please let us know of any special requests.  For more information on Healthy at H-E-B, please visit  www.heb.com/healthy

 

My H-E-B: A Friend To The Gluten-Free and Food Allergy Community

A couple of weeks ago in the middle of my weekly grocery shopping at H-E-B, I had the good fortune of running into (literally) H-E-B Houston President, Scott McClelland.  I’ll admit to being a little starstruck from seeing him on multiple tv commercials and then right in the middle of my little community store’s produce department.  (Apparently I really was starstruck as it completely slipped my mind to snap a picture, so you’ll have to take my word for it.)

In a move very unlike me (I’m a little on the introverted side), I approached Scott and introduced myself as The Food Allergy Mom.  I must say, he was absolutely charming and every bit as warm and friendly as he appears in those tv ads.  I told him what a fan I am of H-E-B stores and products because of the tasty and affordable variety of gluten-free and allergen-friendly foods that they carry.  Sure, there are other stores that sell some gluten-free and allergy-friendly groceries, but none of them are just down the street from me and at a price that can’t be beat!

During our conversation, Scott asked me if I’d ever tried Tate’s All Natural Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Cookie.

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He said they were not to be missed and were quite possibly one of the best cookies on the market.  Then he said the great part.  Tate’s makes a regular and gluten-free version, but Scott thought the GF version was just as fabulous as the original.  That means he tried both.  A grocery store president that actually eats what he sells and is knowledgeable about it with customers.  I vowed then and there to find those cookies and give them a whirl (such a hardship you know!).  By the way, the cookies are deliciously sinful…so much so that I probably shouldn’t keep these readily available in the pantry, if you know what I mean.

I was incredibly impressed when I thanked him for H-E-B’s participation in the Houston food allergy community and he instantly referenced the stores’ support of the Houston Walk for Food Allergy.  Again, he knew exactly what activities the popular grocery chain supports without even a hint from me!

In my experience, Scott McClelland and H-E-B are the exception and not the rule.  Think of how amazing it would be if every grocery store had this kind of dedication to stocking safe, quality products and commitment to actively supporting the food allergy community!

An hour later I stacked my purchases on the conveyor belt for checkout and felt a tap on my shoulder.  Turns out Scott found the gluten-free Tate’s chocolate chip cookies he mentioned earlier and hunted me down to make sure I received them AND he gave me a coupon to cover the expense of the cookies.  Like I said…A-M-A-Z-I-N-G.

I’m more grateful to Mr. McClelland and H-E-B than I can ever put in to words…but I’ll try anyway.  Money (or lack thereof) is a burden for many families with food allergies, so thank you for helping us pinch pennies by offering affordable and safe selections.  Community support for a sometimes touchy subject isn’t always as easy to come by as one would hope, so thank you for continued support of our local FARE food allergy walk.  Normalcy can be a rare thing for those living with food allergies, and I am beyond grateful to you for the privilege of shopping at a regular grocery store from which I can buy affordable, safe groceries to feed my family’s hearts and stomachs.  God bless you!