Awesome Bites Co. To Open A Houston Storefront This Spring

A few years ago I was fortunate enough to cross paths with Jennifer Thai.  The mom of a child with food allergies, she decided safe and delicious food should be more than a necessity.  It should be a joy!  Jennifer decided if she couldn’t find food to fit the bill, she would make it herself.  And she did.

And then some.

Later this spring, Awesome Bites Co. will open up a storefront in Houston which will allow Jennifer to share her gift in the kitchen with thousands of Houstonians.  Help me wish her all the best and be sure to check out her store when it opens!

Blessings,

Kimberly

*Disclosure:  I received no monetary compensation for this post.  The opinions above are my own.  The following press release and picture below were provided to me courtesy of Jennifer Thai.

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Awesome Bites Co. Brings Magically Healthy Baked Goods to Houston 

Houston, TX – February 18, 2019 – After selling more than 100,000 Super Muffins – the nation’s only muffins made with whole fruits and vegetables instead of sugar – at farmers markets, Awesome Bites Co. is excited to bring their magically healthy treats to their first brick and mortar location in the Heights at Sawyer Yards in April 2019. More than two years were spent perfecting recipes for healthy baked goods that actually taste so delicious even the pickiest toddler won’t realize the nutritious ingredients hidden inside. Along with their popular Super Muffins, and brownies and blondies made with organic beans, Awesome Bites’ expansion into a new storefront will feature some new surprises like handcrafted, allergy friendly, and lactose free ice cream plus gluten free waffle cones.

Dedicated to creating better and safer delicious treats for all, Awesome Bites’ allergy friendly baked goods push traditional pastry boundaries by replacing eggs, butter, and refined sugar with clean, premium, non-GMO ingredients without sacrificing taste. An estimated one in 13 children in the United States now have food allergies that result in visits to the emergency room every three minutes[i] and more schools implementing nut free policies. The addition of an allergy friendly establishment in Houston to keep its community safe and healthy is long overdue. Awesome Bites Co. is committed to fulfilling this need by reinventing treats and creating an allergy friendly, 100% plant based, dairy, egg, soy, and nut free menu.

“What sets us apart is not just removing a particular ingredient from our treats; our entire menu and facility is completely free of dairy, egg, soy, peanuts and tree nuts[ii]. Even our ingredients, which took over a year to source, are free of potential cross contamination,” said Jennifer Thai, founder and chief innovator of the Awesome Bites Co. “Creating allergy friendly treats is a complex process requiring an unwavering commitment to food safety.”

Beyond being allergy friendly, Awesome Bites Co. creations are perfect for anyone looking for healthy and convenient snacks for themselves or their kids. They also meet a variety of dietary needs as all treats are vegan and free of cholesterol, lactose, casein, preservatives, and artificial ingredients. Gluten free and no added sugar options are available as well. Awesome Bites’ magical treats will include:

  • No added sugar Super Muffins in a variety of flavors like the best-selling Oatmeal Chocolate Chip muffin, which is sweetened only with yellow squash, sweet potato, pears, apples, coconut and dates. Each pack of four mini muffins boast a full serving of fruits/vegetables.
  • Gluten free and vegan blondies and brownies made with organic chickpeas and black beans for an extra boost of protein and fiber.
  • The country’s only top eight allergen free, refined sugar free cookie cake, which pairs perfectly with scratch made, dairy free and nut free, coconut flaxseed mylk.
  • Allergy friendly and vegan ice cream served with gluten-free waffle cones.
  • Made-in-house syrups and nitro cold brew from Houston’s Boomtown coffee.

“We launched Awesome Bites when I couldn’t find safe healthy foods that my daughter, who had food allergies, would actually want to eat. At Awesome Bites, we’re beyond allergy friendly or healthy. We are focused on inclusion and pioneering, one-of-a-kind clean treats that everyone – with or without food allergies – can eat together worry-free,” said Thai. 

Awesome Bites Co. was the winner of the 2016 City of Houston’s Lift Off Business Plan Competition and fan favorite award. “I had the opportunity to try the muffins from Awesome Bites and they were delicious. I was amazed that all of the ingredients were natural and included no added sugars. I wish Ms. Thai continued success,” stated Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner.

The new 1,600 sq ft. brick-and-mortar will open in April 2019 at the highly anticipated Sawyer Yards (2313 Edwards St. Ste 185, Houston, TX 77007) and includes a patio for customers to enjoy their treats.

 

About Jennifer Thai

Jennifer Thai is a born and raised Houstonian, who graduated from Rice University with a BA in Economics and received her MBA from Duke University. She devoted more than two years inventing the recipes for Awesome Bites’ baked goodies, and five years building the nation’s first allergy friendly, health conscious bakery and ice cream shop. She trained with Max Torres of Houston’s Cake & Bacon as well as the popular Austin vegan ice cream shop, Sweet Ritual.

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Celebrating Valentine’s With Food Allergies

Despite the cheery decorations you likely are already seeing in stores everywhere, not everyone loves Valentine’s Day.  It’s true, some people have a love/hate relationship with the holiday.  Many in the food allergy community can fit into this category and it isn’t hard to see why.

On one hand…who doesn’t love a day that celebrates love for others?  I mean, for goodness gracious…look at the news and the things taking place around the world and tell me we couldn’t all benefit from a spreading a little more love and kindness toward one another!  I don’t need a special day on a calendar to remind me to tell those I love how much they matter, but I’ll never shy away from the opportunity the holiday provides either.

On the other hand, for those with food allergies, the holiday can be a minefield of sorts.  Beautifully wrapped festive candies and treats are everywhere.  Some treats that are usually considered safe for you might not be in the holiday version of that same candy because of packaging concerns…try explaining that to a three year old.  And some candies are taped to a card, which although they are usually sent with good intentions, don’t carry an allergy statement or ingredient label.

My son has had food allergies for fourteen years now, and has grown up with the mantra that his food allergies can’t define him unless he lets them.  For that reason, my family has never really shied away from celebrating holidays that create challenges, we try to embrace them with our own unique food allergy flair.

For our family, when my son was in preschool and elementary school, this usually meant:

  • Not eating anything handed out at school, at school or at home
  • Bringing safe treats to school
  • Trading unsafe candy for safe candy or toys at home
  • Volunteering to be homeroom mom or a party helper to further ensure his safety
  • Handing out Valentine’s with non-food items such as cool erasers, stickers, or pencils

During middle school and now high school, the potential food allergy challenges are changing.  Whether it is party he is invited to, a team celebration, or even a date, we sit down together and talk about the possible challenges and ways to gracefully navigate them.

Regardless of their age, I usually do at least one little thing for both of my kiddos for Valentine’s and usually put it with a funny card.  Over the years, these have been some of my favorite go-to’s that worked for my son:

  • DumDum Lollipops
  • And now that they are older, one of my favorites is an experience gift.  (This usually means catching a movie together or maybe even mini golf or bowling outing.)

Still trying to think of an idea that might work for you and your family?  Be sure to check out this post from Allergic Living on their top food allergy picks for Valentine’s Day 2019.

Whether you celebrate Valentine’s Day or not, maybe give a word of kindness or do a favor for a friend because this crazy world we live in is ALWAYS in need of that!

However you choose to spend February, I hope it is filled with joy and kindness!

 

*Disclaimer:  Enjoy Life Foods provided me with the pictured Valentine’s sample candy packs for free.  I did not receive monetary compensation for this blog post and the opinions expressed in this post are strictly my own.*

Winter Break Back To School Checklist

The school year always passes at such a frenetic pace, I treasure the winter break with my family when school, work, and extracurricular obligations are minimized.  Those days are often filled with gingerbread houses, looking at Christmas lights, and so much joy!

Now lo and behold, in nearly the blink of an eye, we are one weekend away from going back to school.  I guess it’s true what they say…time flies when you’re having fun.

So as the first day of the spring semester of school approaches, it’s a great time to do a mid-year food allergy/asthma evaluation.

Applegate Half Time Lunches (1)

If you’re not sure where to start, here are a few suggestions:

CHECK EXPIRATION DATES     The start of a new year is a great time to check the expiration dates…on everything.  This means prescription and over the counter medications that are at home, school, daycare, grandparents’ house, etc.

REFILL EXPIRED MEDICATIONS     Now that you’ve checked in to see which of your family’s current medications are expired or close to being out of date, it’s time to have them refilled.  Be advised that sometimes it takes a call or visit to your doctor in order to obtain a refill and this process could take several days depending on if you need to see the doctor before a prescription can be renewed.

REFILL THE ALLERGY-SAFE GOODY BOX     I always kept a a clear tupperware of safe treats for my son in his teacher’s classroom for impromptu preschool or elementary school celebrations.  If you have a similar goody box or bag that is stored at school or elsewhere, be sure to check the expiration dates on the products inside and send in new safe treats if need be.

RESTOCK THE LUNCH STATION     My kids both pack their lunches for school, but they can’t do what they need to do unless I have all the food stocked and ready to go.  As you make the next grocery list, think back to what your kids regularly packed in their school lunches, add it to the list, and make sure your pantry and fridge are stocked with the necessities and some safe treats too.

TOUCH BASE WITH THE SCHOOL    Take a few minutes to send a short and to the point email to your child’s school nurse and teachers to thank them for what they do to keep your child safe each day and ask if there is anything you can do to support them.

REEVALUATE EXTRA CURRICULAR ACTIVITIES     Is your son or daughter changing sports this semester?  Set an appointment to meet with your child’s new coach or instructor and be sure to have an updated emergency action plan ready to go for your meeting.  If appropriate, it might be helpful to include your child in this meeting so that he or she can participate in this discussion and understand their role as well as the instructor’s.

SHOW THE LOVE     Sometimes it is so easy for us to get wrapped up in all the paperwork and details of keeping a child safe at school, that it can be easy to miss the most important part…love.  No matter their age, give your child a big bear hug and let them know how much you love them.

Personally, I like to complete my checklist early, so I can savor the last few days of winter break and maybe spend a few more days in denial that homework, tests, sports, and clubs are about to get real!

And just maybe I’ll starting counting down the days until spring break…

 

OWYN, Plant-Based Protein A Win For Those With Food Allergies

A couple of months ago I came across an advertisement for OWYN protein products and my interest was piqued.

This company that makes plant-based protein products is taking America by storm.  They’re products are even touted by fitness gurus and sports celebrities such as five-time Olympic medalist Nastia Liukin according to the company’s Facebook page.  Add to that OWYN products have the FARE (Food Allergy Research Education) Proud Supporter label and this sounded like a product and company I needed to get to know.

A husband and wife duo, Kathryn Moos and Jeff Mroz, who are both athletes wanted to make a clean, simple, and delicious protein option that would both feed and nurture the body.  Because of their time and effort to that cause, OWYN was born.

So, who is OWYN?  The company’s acronym stands for Only What You Need and they are dedicated to making plant-based protein drinks, powders, and bars that boast high vegan omega 3, a unique superfood blend, high fiber, and low sugar.

Why should OWYN be something the food allergy community needs to hear about?  In addition to winning the FARE Proud Supporter Label, this husband and wife duo and their children know first hand what it is like to live with food allergies.  Although I always appreciate the efforts of anyone who at least tries to accommodate those with food allergies, I feel that a person who has actually walked that path always brings something special to the table.

The company is rather transparent about testing for the presence of allergens in their products in a statement on their website, “Every lot of finished goods is tested for the presence of Top 8 allergens using accredited 3rd party laboratories. OWYN won’t clear final product for shipment until documentation is received verifying that the finished product contains no cross-contact with any Top 8 allergens.”

If you’re wondering what constitutes the “presence” of an allergen, they address that on their website too.  “Except for gluten, there is no FDA standard for allergen thresholds for any of the Top 8 allergens. OWYN requires all ingredients to contain less than the lowest established detectable amount of the Top 8 Allergens, except for Gluten. The lowest detectable amount varies by allergen, and can be reviewed on our allergen testing chart below. Gluten is required to contain less than the FDA gluten-free standard of 20 parts per million.”

Now that I’ve shared with you a bit about the company and what their stance is on food allergies, let’s talk about the products themselves.  OWYN makes the following products:

  • 100% Plant-Based Protein Drinks:  Dark Chocolate, Cold-Brew Coffee, Smooth Vanilla, and Strawberry Banana
  • 100% Plant-Based Protein Powders:  Smooth Vanilla, Dark Chocolate, and Strawberry Banana
  • 100% Plant-Based Protein Bars:  Dark Chocolate & Sea Salt, Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough, Chocolate Chip & Cranberry, and Tart Cherry & Lemon

When I inquired about OWYN’s products, they were kind enough to send me free samples of all four protein drink flavors.  In return, I promised to do a product review with my TRUE opinion.  I received no monetary compensation for writing this review.

In the spirit of honesty, I didn’t get to taste all the flavors because my son who has food allergies and runs high school cross country (and needs a ton of protein) pilfered them before I had a chance.  So the review you’re reading is a combination of my own and his.

At first we were a little surprised that the drink had a thinner consistency that what you usually think of when it comes to a protein drink.  That said, the amount of flavor in each sip is robust and not thin at all. Although we really liked all the flavors, the Strawberry Banana drink was my son’s favorite…and that would be the one flavor I did not get to taste.  Go figure. 

Of the other three, my favorite was Dark Chocolate, then Smooth Vanilla, and then Cold-Brew Coffee.

Especially for my son who is an athlete, fast access to a safe, healthy, and tasty protein source that is also portable isa HUGE win!  The drink itself is quite filling with close to twenty grams of protein which can be great for muscle recovery after a difficult workout.

Bottom line:  I do believe this is a product we will be using again in our household…especially during my son’s cross country and track seasons.  Even though I am far from being an athlete, I enjoyed the drinks as well and think they are absolutely perfect for a working woman or busy mom that is constantly on the go.

Now, here’s the really exciting part!  The folks at OWYN were kind enough to give you, my reader, a special discount code of FLAVORS20 which will get you 20% off of orders $25 or more when you order online here.  Thank you, OWYN!