ZEGO Bars: A Product Review

I love to read about new allergy-friendly products.  Sometimes it’s a product that’s not for me, or one I’m already familiar with, but every now and then there is a product that is new-to-me and intrigues me.

Such was the case when I came across ZEGO Bars.

And with a description like the following that can be found on ZEGO’s website, who wouldn’t be interested?  “Allergen friendly protein bars made without peanuts, tree nuts, soy, dairy, egg, and gluten.  Great for nut free schools.  Organic.  Vegan.  Kosher.  Low-glycemic.  Celiac, Diabetic, Paleo, and Macrobiotic friendly.  Each batch tested for cross contact.  Made on shared equipment.  See Allergen page for more.  Contains coconut.”  It’s also worth noting that ZEGO donates a portion of every purchase to improve nutrition for low-income kids.

In the interest of full disclosure, the Allergen page referenced in the above quote from Zego’s website states the following, “ZEGO bars are crafted without the most common allergenic ingredients.  Our shared facility has careful allergen control procedures to minimize cross contact with peanuts, tree nuts, soy, dairy, egg and seeds which are processed on the same equipment as ZEGO bars.  We also take the extra safety step of testing each batch for the allergens below and linking the results to each bar so you can decide if ZEGO bars are right for you.”

I quickly contacted ZEGO bars to learn more about their product and asked if they would send me a few bars to sample and review (for consumption of the product as much as checking out the testing standards they use).

Colleen Kavanagh, CEO and Co-Founder of ZEGO, was kind enough to quickly send me two ZEGO bars (Chocolate and Sunflower) for review.  The delivery and customer service were exceptional!

Before opening the bars, I wanted to check out the individualized allergen testing results for each bar.  Both the chocolate and sunflower ZEGO bars came with a Z-Code on the front of the package.  I used a QR code app on my phone to find out the allergen testing results for my specific ZEGO bars.  The allergens tested by ZEGO are:  gluten, peanuts, dairy, almonds, soy, hazelnut, pecan, pistachio, walnut, cashews, egg, and GMOs.  However, my specific batch of bars also tested for the presence of sesame.

Here is what a sample of test results looks like.

Both of my bars showed no measurable amount of most of the allergens, but not all.  The testing results did yield a presence of almond and sesame.  My son has life-threatening allergies to peanuts, tree nuts, sesame, and chickpea/garbanzo so for those reasons the bars are not something I felt comfortable with him consuming.

I have celiac disease and the bars did not show any measurable amount of gluten.  So I, my husband, and daughter (hubby and daughter have no allergies) tried them.  I’m sorry to say that taste and texture of the bars did not agree with my husband’s or my personal preferences.  That said, my 7-year-old daughter did think the bars were “good.”

When I contacted Colleen about the presence of almond in the bars I received, she said she plans to meet with the manufacturer to discuss where the cross contact originated.  As for the sesame, ZEGO does not claim their bars to be sesame-free but simply added the test as a courtesy to consumers who may be living with a sesame allergy.

As the mother of a child with food allergies, I certainly appreciate ZEGO’s efforts to be transparent in the allergen testing of their products.  What a wonderful feeling it would be to scan the wrapping of a food your child is eating and instantly know if there is any measurable amount of an allergen present.  Talk about peace of mind!

While I am thankful for their hard work on behalf of those with food allergies and others with dietary restrictions,  ZEGO bars is not something that I feel is a good fit for my family.

It is worth noting that Colleen did offer that the chocolate and suflower ZEGO bars are the two flavors the company launched with, but that they will be introducing two more bars in the fall with a different taste profile and texture.

Colleen and her staff are currently working within the food industry to encourage transparency beyond just ingredient labels and encourage other companies to begin offering allergen testing results directly to the consumer.  I wish them the very best of luck and can’t wait to see how it will transform the food allergy community!

Make Your Own Allergy-Friendly Version Of Your Favorite Recipes

When I first got the diagnosis of celiac disease, I was so green at reading food labels and such that I only ate pre-packaged foods that boasted the phrase “gluten-free” clearly labeled on the product packaging.  Although it served its purpose at the time, it wasn’t a very fun way to live or eat.  I felt doomed to eat only those things that were prepackaged and gluten-free because I was afraid of an epic baking fail.

Years later…the only epic fail I made was not getting in the kitchen and experimenting with baking.  Now, I make so many of our favorite traditional family recipes and simply sub out a few ingredients to make it allergy-friendly for me and my son (he has several food allergies including peanut and nut).

Every year, I host my husband’s and my family to Easter lunch at our house.  This year we had turkey, pea salad, roasted potatoes, rolls, strawberry feta spinach salad, and corn pudding.  Yum!  Everything was delicious and it was all allergy-friendly except the rolls (I didn’t do gluten-free rolls because I wanted to spend my calories on dessert).

Although I wish I could take credit for all of these savory dishes, that would be misleading because the whole family pitched in and brought dishes for lunch.  The only things I can take credit for were the turkey and the corn pudding.

I did do all the desserts, though.  This year, I tried my hand at a gluten-free lemon meringue pie and a gluten-free Sprinkles Cupcakes recipe.

Both came out fantastic!  The lemon meringue pie was such a hit (even with the gluten eaters) that there was only one piece left when all was said and done.  You can be sure that piece had my name on it…lemon is my favorite.

Now, I’ve never made meringue and I’ve never made a lemon pie before.  The only thing that wasn’t new to me was the pie crust for which I used a recipe by Gluten Free On A Shoestring.

But you know what, I got in that kitchen, rolled up my sleeves, and went for it.  I can have my pie and eat it too…and so can you!

Next time you’re feeling a little deprived or glum because you can’t have one of your favorite dishes from yesteryear, check that bad attitude and head into the kitchen.

You can do anything you set your mind to and food allergies/celiac can’t define you…unless you allow it.

What are some of your greatest baking successes?  What are some of your baking fails and what did you learn from them?  Please share!

Gluten-Free Dessert, Drool, and Kristan Higgins

One of my favorite escapes from the drama of life is losing myself in a fabulous book.  Not much beats crawling into bed early with a great read…especially when it has the trifecta of humor, light romance, and drama.  No one delivers better on that forefront than author Kristan Higgins.

Photo courtesy of Kristan Higgins

Photo courtesy of Kristan Higgins

Kristan is a New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author of 14 novels, which have been translated into 24 languages and are sold all over the world. She is the mother of two teenagers and the wife of a heroic, good-looking firefighter.  (Courtesy of Kristan Higgins Books)

As a devoted fan of Kristan’s books, I follow her on Twitter (@Kristan_Higgins) and Facebook (Kristan Higgins Books) and simply drooled over the Gram’s Sour Cream Coffee Cake recipe she recently shared.  Only it wasn’t gluten-free.

So what’s a hungry girl to do?  Improvise, of course.  I made the cake by switching out regular flour that the recipe called for with King Arthur Gluten-Free Flour and a dash of xanthan gum.   And you know what?  It was A-M-A-Z-I-N-G.

Seriously, this cake is no joke.  In fact, as I type this I’m trying to think of an excuse to make it tonight.

Gram’s Sour Cream Coffee Cake has now become my family’s most requested dessert.  I happily take it to work functions and get-togethers and no one knows it’s gluten-free until they see me scarfing down a piece.

So I asked Kristan about the story behind this cake and she was happy to tell me.

“My grandmother was the BEST baker, and she could make anything in about 15 minutes, I swear. Her motions were so efficient and perfect, and she always had the ingredients on hand. My daughter made this cake recipe for our state fair, and it won first, I’ll have you know! It’s so warm and cozy; we make it every Christmas morning and think of dear Gram.”

From the very bottom of this gluten-free girl’s heart, THANK YOU, Gram!

And thank you, Kristan, for allowing me to share Gram’s recipe here with my readers.

**************************************************************************************************

Gram’s Sour Cream Coffee Cake  (A No-Fail Guarantee of Deliciousness)

Preheat oven to 350; grease and flour a Bundt cake pan.

Sift together 2 cups of gluten-free flour; dash of xanthan gum; 1 tablespoon of baking powder; ½ teaspoon salt. Set aside.

In mixer, beat together 2 sticks of softened butter and 2 cups of sugar. Add 2 beaten eggs, 1 tablespoon of vanilla extract and 1 cup of sour cream. Beat well. Fold in the dry ingredients by hand and mix well.

In separate bowl, combine ¾ cup of sugar and 1 tablespoon of cinnamon. You can add a cup of nuts (pecans, almonds or walnuts) if you like. I think they’re better if you toast them first.

Put in Bundt pan in the following order:

  • Just enough batter to cover the bottom of the pan.
  • One third of the cinnamon mixture.
  • Two-thirds of the batter.
  • Two-thirds of the cinnamon mixture
  • The remainder of the batter.

Bake for 60 minutes. Let sit for 10 minutes, then loosen with a butter knife, lifting the cake up to get air underneath. Invert, and voila! Serve warm with a nice cuppa joe or glass of milk.

*****************************************************************************************************

As much as I love this cake, I’d be doing you a disservice if I left it at that.  Kristan is both warm and funny and that is beautifully reflected in her writing.  To read one of her books is like sitting down to coffee with your bestie and laughing until your stomach hurts.

In honor of that, I asked Kristan a few questions about herself and her work.  So grab a cup of coffee (and maybe a piece of this cake) and pull up a chair for this virtual chat.

What about writing novels gives you joy?

Kristan:  “My readers, my characters and my struggles, actually. The latter always makes me a better writer.”

What three words would you use to describe your books?

Kristan:  “Optimistic, funny, emotional.”

One of my favorite things about reading your books is the laugh-out-loud moments created by your characters.  Tell me about the use of humor in your books and how that translates into your everyday life.

Kristan:  “I can’t imagine a book without humor. I think I have a good eye and voice for it in everyday life, just being able to notice and capture a moment. I hope so, anyway! And I do laugh a lot (and cry a lot, too…they go hand in hand). A lot of TV shows make me cry, or people winning things, or heroic moments…baby elephants make me cry, too, for some reason.”

What are you working on now and can you share something about it with us?

Kristan:  “I’m finishing a Blue Heron book and starting a new women’s fiction. I’ll give you the first line of the Blue Heron book (ANYTHING FOR YOU): “Get up, doofus.”

Some of my favorite of your books center around the Holland family.  When I think of them, I think of family dinners, social events, and the like.  Have you ever included a character with food allergies or celiac disease?  How do you think a family like the Hollands would react to having such a character in the family?

Kristan:  “Food is always a big part of my books, because I think we all love to eat, and when and where and what say a lot about the moment, don’t you agree? The Hollands would take a food allergy in stride, though the older grandparents, Goggy and Pops, might be a little confused. “Wheat? How can you be allergic to wheat?” I based them on my own grandparents, whom I just adored, and anything that was different, food-wise, always confused my Gram a little. I haven’t written a food allergy in yet, but I just might. So many people, including several of my closest friends, have issues with this, so it would feel pretty natural to include that element.”

Because your heroines know the value of a good glass of wine paired with a dessert, I have to ask- what is your favorite of each?

Kristan:  “I love a full-bodied Chardonnay with all those flavors and a nice buttery texture. Favorite dessert? So hard to pick! I just ate a vanilla cupcake, so I’ll go with that.”

Don’t just take my word for it.  Visit Kristan Higgins’ website where she shares her favorite recipes from food in her books and so much more.

Kristan:  “And pop by Facebook and have some fun there. I can pretty much guarantee at least one smile a day. www.kristanhiggins.com, and www.Facebook.com/KristanHigginsBooks.”

Treat yourself and pick up one of Kristan Higgins’ books today.  Not sure where to start?  Two of my favorites are Just One of the Guys and The Best Man.

Courtesy of Kristan Higgins Books

Courtesy of Kristan Higgins Books

Allergy Friendly Easter Egg Hunts

We LOVE egg hunts!  There are always a million and one Easter egg hunts in our neighborhood every year.  The neighbors have one, the church has one, the school has one…the list goes on.

I still remember the first church egg hunt we attended.  My son was able to pick up as many eggs as he could find and stuffed them in his cute little basket!  But all he got to keep was the plastic eggs.  It was anyone’s best guess what kinds of candies were inside those eggs and what the ingredients were, so they were off-limits.  It took a little of the fun out of the whole experience to see so many other kiddos ooohing and ahhhing over their treasures while my son had to wait until we could get home and I could switch out the “bad candy” for allergy-friendly candy.

What is a mom to do?  If you don’t like the situation, change the variables!

The next year, I served on the egg hunt committee for our church along with our entire Sunday School class.  Because my family and one other family in the class had children with food allergies, we added a new component to the egg hunt that year.  And it went a little something like this…

Every child who came to the egg hunt was asked to bring a dozen stuffed eggs to contribute  for the hunt.  The families of our Sunday School class only brought two dozen non-food stuffed eggs each and they were set aside in a special bin at the “Official Egg Trading Booth.”  When it was time for the begin hunt to begin, the kids ran wild and started hoarding eggs!  After the hunt was over, children with food allergies were invited to come to the egg trading booth to trade their candy-filled eggs for some special non-food stuffed eggs.

I’ll admit, I think we knew the kids with food allergies would LOVE that they got to go home with real egg hunt treats, but we had no idea the children without food allergies would want in on the action too!  Everyone wanted the non-food eggs because of the stickers, erasers, tattoos, and other cool stuff inside.

Last year, even several of the community egg hunts followed suit and either had an egg trading station or used only non-food stuffed eggs.

Get involved in your neighborhood, church, or community egg hunt this year and spearhead the effort to include an egg trading station or use only non-food stuffed eggs.  Yes, it is another thing to add to your to do list, but the inclusiveness your children will feel and the happiness they will bring home from the event is the real treasure!

Egg-Free? Now You Can Dye Easter “Eggs” Too!

When my child was first diagnosed with food allergies, egg was one of them.  Thankfully, he has outgrown that allergy.

Still, I remember how hard it was to find good allergy-friendly substitutes and I definitely remember how challenging Easter would be every year.   Afterall, the entire holiday revolves around eggs.  Granted, plastic eggs work just fine.  But what about making those memories with your kiddos as you dye a dozen beautifully colored Easter eggs?  That was a little harder to find a substitution for…until now.

Take a minute to check out this product called EggNots (https://www.eggnots.com/Products/EggNots/).  What a simply egg-cellente idea!  It is perfect for those families with egg allergies.

Now those with egg allergies can safely join in the Easter egg fun!

Words To Live and Create By

If you follow me here on the blog or on social media, you already know I was blessed to attend the Gluten-Free Food Allergy Fest in Austin during the last weekend in February.

As a gluten-free gal with celiac disease, this kind of event is a dream come true for my stomach!  Although I’ll admit to spending a fair (okay fine…the whole time) taste testing, I met some amazing authors that made me smile with their positivity and creativity.

It’s just not fair to keep that kind of find to myself, so I’m sharing it here with you!

 

Gina Meagher

The Food Allergy Mom and Gina Meagher

Gina Meagher is the author of There Is Something About Gina.  From the moment I met Gina and heard her speak, I knew she was a perfect fit for my message of can-do positivity that I promote here on the blog.  Her book is a personal story about learning to flourish with diabetes and celiac disease.  Gina was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at age 17 and celiac disease at age 32.  This truly amazing lady’s story focuses primarily on those two diagnoses, but I found so many nuggets of wisdom that I still found applicable to the food allergy journey as well.  Here are just a few that Gina was gracious enough to let me share:

  • “…the disease is just something you happen to be living with and not who you are.”
  • “…although diabetes and celiac disease are part of who I am, they have little to do with what I am about.”
  • “…if you can’t change your situation, you can change your reaction to it.”

It was just a pleasure to read Gina’s book and love her message.  Honestly, I think you would too.

 

Pam Jordan

Pam Jordan

Pam has written a gluten-free cookbook that utilizes basic ingredients you most likely already have in your pantry.  She’s such a sweet lady and passionate about helping others on their gluten-free journey.  She’s also the author of a Gluten-Free Family Approved Recipes cookbook and www.imaceliac.com.  Her cookbook has a beautifully written summary of Pam’s personal story and highlights several of Pam’s favorite gluten-free products.  The recipe categories include breakfast items, appetizers, main dishes, slow cooker and freezer meals, side dishes, and desserts.

The thing I most love about Pam’s cookbook is that I’m easily able to substitute in items that are not only gluten-free, but also allergy-friendly for my son.  I’ve already made a few items from the cookbook and they were a hit with the family.

Pam was kind enough to let me share the following recipe from her cookbook with you.

Parmesan Porkchops

Ingredients

  • 4 boneless pork chops
  • 1/2 cup GF bread crumbs
  • 3/4 cup parmesan cheese (combine shredded and grated)
  • 1 tblsp olive oil
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup GF flour
  • salt and pepper
  • seasoned salt
  • garlic powder

How To Make It

1.  Heat oven to 400 degrees.

2.  Put flour, salt and pepper in a shallow bowl.  Put parmesan, GF bread crumbs, seasoned salt and garlic powder in a second bowl.  Put the egg in a third bowl.

3.  Pat the chops dry with a paper towel.  Coat chops in flour, egg, then parmesan mixture.  Let rest while you heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium high heat.

4.  Brown the pork chops for 2 minutes on each side.

5.  Then bake on a greased cookie sheet for 15 minutes.

Tips:  This could easily be topped with GF red pasta sauce, mozzarella cheese and served over GF spaghetti noodles.

Sounds delicious!  I can’t wait to make it.  Thanks so much, Pam, for all you do!

 

Chrystal Carver

Photo by Mary Bernsen Courtesy of Crystal Carver

Photo by Mary Bernsen
Courtesy of Crystal Carver

Met this wonderful lady while touring booths at the Fest.  She has such a positive, can-do attitude and I love how that translates in to her work in the kitchen.  Chrystal is the author of Sweet & Simple Gluten-Free Baking:  Irresistible classics in 10 ingredients or less and glutenfreepalate.com!

Photo by Mary Bernsen Courtesy of Crystal Carver

Photo by Mary Bernsen
Courtesy of Crystal Carver

To have a book full of recipes that is 10 ingredients or less AND gluten-free is pretty darn impressive.  But to have a collection of simple recipes that does all that and still looks decadent enough to serve at a baby/bridal shower, family reunion, game night, holidays, and a dozen other special occasions is truly amazing.  To give you an idea of what you will find in Chrystal’s book, the recipe categories are as follows:  Cakes, Cupcakes and Breads; Cheesecakes, Pies and Tarts; Cookies; Brownies and Bars; and Frostings.

In addition to a written out ingredient list and baking directions for each recipe, there is a beautiful full-color picture of the final product.  I’m a visual person and really appreciate this feature.  It helps me decide on the right recipe for the right event…and it’s a check point to make sure my creation looks how it’s supposed to!

While the recipes are gluten-free, they are not nut-free.  That said, I’ve already made an item or two from the book and was easily able to substitute allergy-friendly ingredients that work for my son and I.  (And let me just say, the Lemon Bars ar c-r-a-z-y good.  They didn’t last two days in our house.)

Before getting to the recipes, Chrystal does a fantastic job of covering gluten-free baking basics, different kinds of gluten-free flours, binding agents, and tons of other baking tips and techniques.

Chrystal is graciously offering you a free look at her Lemon Bread recipe.  It’s the perfect spring recipe and would even be perfect for Easter!

Chrystal Carver’s Lemon Bread

Chrystal Carver's Lemon Bread

Photo by Mary Bernsen Courtesy of Crystal Carver

PREP TIME: 15 minutes

COOK TIME: 70 minutes
SERVINGS: 12
INGREDIENTS
  • 1 ½ cups all-purpose gluten-free flour blend*
  • 1 cup granulated sugar, plus ¼ cup sugar for the glaze
  • 1 teaspoon gluten-free baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs, room temperature
  • ½ cup milk
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • Zest from 1 large lemon
  • Juice from 1 large lemon
METHOD
  • Preheat oven to 325°F (165°C). Position the oven rack in center of oven. Grease a 4 ½ x 8 ½ inch glass loaf baking pan; set aside.
  • In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together flour, 1 cup sugar, baking powder and salt.
  • In a separate medium mixing bowl, mix eggs, milk, oil and lemon zest. Pour the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and stir only until they just come together.
  • Pour batter into the greased loaf pan. Bake for 60-70 minutes, until a wooden toothpick inserted near center comes out clean. Remove from oven and let cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then remove from pan and let cool on a rack.
  • In a separate small bowl, mix the remaining ¼ cup of sugar and lemon juice. Microwave for 30 seconds, remove from the microwave. Stir till sugar is dissolved.
  • Evenly spoon the lemon sugar glaze over the top of the lemon bread. Cool completely before slicing.
  • Store in an airtight container.
*For this recipe, Chrystal uses her all-purpose gluten-free rice flour blend that has been prepared in advance. Rather than making a whole batch, you can scale it down to ¾ cup white rice flour + 6 tablespoons tapioca flour + 6 tablespoons potato starch.

 

Thanks to all these amazing ladies and all they do for the gluten-free communities!  It was honor meeting each of them and I hope you are inspired by their work!

 

Gluten-Free Product Round Up

If you follow me here on the blog or on social media, you already know I was blessed to attend the Gluten-Free Food Allergy Fest in Austin during the last weekend in February.

As a gluten-free gal with celiac disease, this kind of event is a dream come true for my stomach!  Here are some of my favorite gluten-free finds I just had to share with you!

*Please be advised, the below product reviews are for gluten-free products only.  Some of the below products DO contain one or more of the top 8 allergens.*

King Arthur FlourKing Arthur Food Truck

  • Offer both gluten-free and non-gluten-free baking mixes
  • Products offered:  GF Chocolate Cake Mix, GF Brownie Mix, GF Multi-Purpose Flour, GF All purpose Baking Mix, GF Scone Mix, GF Yellow Cake Mix, GF Banana Bread Mix, GF Bread and Pizza Crust Mix, GF Cookie Mix, GF Pancake Mix, GF Doughnut Mix, and GF Muffin Mix
  • Products carried online and at select stores (I buy mine at H-E-B)
  • *I am a HUGE King Arthur Gluten-Free fan and use it as a direct substitution for any recipe I’m making that calls for flour.  My entire family (even the picky ones) love these mixes.  To date we tried all of the following and LOVED them:  Chocolate Cake, Multi-Purpose Flour, All Purpose Baking Mix, Yellow Cake, Banana Bread, and Muffin Mix.

 

Udi’s Gluten-Free

IMG_4892

  • Products offered:  GF breads (loaves, rolls, burger/hot dog buns, bagels), GF tortillas, GF cookies, GF granola, and GF frozen meals.
  • Products are carried online and at select stores (I buy mine at H-E-B)
  • I am a devoted Udi’s fan.  I think their sandwich bread is one of the best gf varieties out there.  I always have a couple of loaves hiding in the freezer.  An Udi’s grilled cheese sandwich is pretty darn hard to beat!

 

Enjoy Life

The Food Allergy Mom and Enjoy Life's Katie Brunk

  • Products are free-from the “top eight” allergens: wheat/gluten, dairy, peanuts, tree nuts, egg, soy, fish and shellfish (products are also made without casein, potato, sesame and sulfites)
  • None of their products contain genetically modified organisms (GMO)
  • Products contain no artificial anything and instead contain natural ingredients like quinoa, buckwheat, and honey
  • Products Offered:  Soft Baked Cookies, Crunchy Cookies, Cereals, Seed & Fruit Mixes, Chewy Bars, Decadent Soft Baked Bars, Baking Chocolate, Chocolate Bars, Plentils, and a new line of do it yourself baked goods will be arriving soon
  • Products carried online and at select stores (I buy mine at H-E-B)
  • My family and I are also HUGE fans of Enjoy Life!  It’s something my son and I can actually share together.  My favorites are the crunchy cookies and seed and fruit mixes, although we love almost all their products.  To see a review of Enjoy Life products go to the Search bar on the right of my blog and type in Enjoy Life.

 

Bona Dea

The Food Allergy Mom and Bona Dea

  • Based in Austin, Texas
  • Free from gluten, dairy, soy, nuts, and eggs  (Allergen statement:  Produced in a dedicated facility free of gluten, wheat, milk, soy, eggs, tree nuts, and peanuts.)
  • Made with all non-GMO ingredients and Organic Whole Grains
  • Products offered:  Outrageous Oat Cookies, All Purpose Flour, Positively Pancakes, Marvelous Muffins, and Scrumptious Scones
  • To date, I have only used the Outrageous Oat Cookies mix.  I made them for my family and they were gone in only three days!  I’ll let that statement speak for itself!  :)
  • I was fortunate enough to meet some of these gals in person at GFFAFest and they were so kind and gracious!  So excited to find this new product!

 

Freedom Foods (North America)

  • Brochure shows products to be free from:  gluten, nuts, wheat, dairy, eggs, soy, and sesame
  • Products are produced in an allergen-free facility
  • There is 3rd party external validation testing as well as a full supplier compliance and audit program
  • Products offered:  Cereal (8 different kinds), Quick Oats, Pancake Mix, Pancake Mix with Quinoa, Smudge Cocoa Spread
  • Products carried online and at select stores (H-E-B carries them)
  • I did try a sample of the Maple Crunch Cereal and felt that it was a decent cereal.  It had a nice crunch to it and I love the options they are giving consumers.  Not only do can we eat allergy-friendly cereal, we can pick from several flavors!
  • The only drawback about this product is that it contains chickpea/garbanzo flour which my son is allergic to.  However, for those without that particular allergy, Freedom Foods might be a good fit.

 

American Gra-Frutti and Marilyn’s Gluten-Free Gourmet

IMG_4868

  • Products made fresh by skilled bakers
  • Products contain no trans fats, preservatives, artificial flavors, or artificial colors
  • The representatives at this booth were kind enough to share some samples of their A-M-A-Z-I-N-G cheese straws (in three different flavors including Cheddar and Jalapeno) and Bubble Bread Mixes (Original, Rosemary & Sea Salt, and Garlic & Herb)
  • I fell in love with the Cheese Straws…really loved them!  The Bubble Bread is fantastic as well…not to mention easy peasy to make and bake.
  • The only drawback to this product is that while they do use careful manufacturing procedures, they do produce mixes with nuts and ground nuts.  Although I can safely eat these mixes with celiac disease, I do not feel it is something my son would be able to safely eat.  *In fairness to the company, I did ask about the nut processing and they were very gracious to walk me through it…for which I am grateful and sincerely appreciate their openness and honesty.

 

Brazi Bites

  • Certified Gluten-Free
  • Non GMO
  • Trans-Fat Free
  • Sugar-Free
  • Products include:  Brazilian Cheese Bread (Garlic Asiago, Original, Jalapeno Pepper Jack, Bacon Cheddar Parmesan
  • These cheesy little bites are a piece of heaven.  I could hardly believe they were gluten-free.  I loved them!

 

Taylor Made Gluten Free Bakery

  • Products are gluten-free
  • Products carried online and at select stores (I buy mine at H-E-B)
  • Products include:  Banana Bread, Brownies, Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough, Cinnamon Roll Bites, Cornbread, Cream Puffs, Hamburger Buns, Lemon Bar Pan, Multigrain Rolls, Mutigrain Bread Loaf, Pumpkin Bread, Rosemary Garlic Pizza Crust, and White Bread Loaf
  • I have taste tested the Brownie, Pizza Crust, and Hamburger Bun and truly loved them all.  Once I ran out of pizza crust I even used a burger bun as pizza crust and it was delicious!  I will definitely be purchasing a few more of these products from my local H-E-B…I’m especially excited to find and taste test the Cinnamon Roll Bites.
  • My FAVORITE thing about this company and that they are so near to Aggieland.  Gig ‘Em Aggies!

 

Happy Gluten-Free Eating!

 

Will We Be The Reason The Helpers Quit?

A week or so ago, my Facebook and Twitter feeds were filled with two major news stories:

Minutes later, the fallout began and it hasn’t yet stopped.

The blogsphere is buzzing and some people are drawing a line in the sand and telling you to choose a side.  More than a few went so far as to question the intelligence and loyalty to the food allergy cause of those that support any of the above companies.

That’s when I decided.

The nay-sayers may kick and scream to be heard, but no matter how loud they are- they certainly don’t speak for me.

There is no better feeling that sitting down in a quaint establishment filled with deliciously rich smells that tease the senses and knowing that I can safely eat gluten-free.  For me, P.F. Chang’s is one of those establishments.

I love that I can dine there and have a whole gluten-free menu to choose from.  And it’s not just an item or two that is gluten-free, it’s the works.  They offer gluten-free appetizers, entrees, and even desserts.  Do I think that they charge higher prices for gluten-free versions of menu items?  No.

To be honest, even if they did charge a tiny bit more it wouldn’t offend me.  I pay more everywhere I go for gluten-free food, why should a restaurant be any different?  I’m so grateful for P.F. Chang’s genuine efforts to create a gluten-free menu…to lovingly include those of us with gluten dietary restrictions so that we are able to eat out with friends and loved ones.  Thank you, P.F. Chang’s.

Let’s switch gears to the Enjoy Life Foods…

Before I continue (and in full disclosure), if you look to the right of my blog you will see an Enjoy Life Preferred Blogger badge.  It is a badge that I put on my blog months ago to show my appreciation for the company for all that they do to accommodate those individuals and families with food allergies.  I am not paid or compensated in any way for displaying my badge on my blog.

Enjoy Life Cookies

Now that we have that out of the way…let’s get one more thing out in the open.  I STILL support Enjoy Life Foods with my business and my trust.  I’m appreciative for all that they do.

As an individual who is gluten-free with a child who has multiple food allergies, I am forever grateful to Enjoy Life foods for creating so many delicious products that my son and I can safely share together and that are free of the top 8 allergens.  Many of their products are also highly portable which makes them a Godsend during trips and vacations.  (To read my uncompensated reviews of their products type in Enjoy Life in the Search box to the right.)  Thank you, Enjoy Life Foods.

I’m blessed to have met both Joel Warady and Katie Brunk of Enjoy Life Foods in person, and am so impressed by their dedication and commitment to their company and products.  Personally, I think that with the increased cash flow and reach that Mondelez provides, Enjoy Life will be able to both expand their existing product line and make it more accessible to the public.  In fact, just this weekend Enjoy Life tweeted they will be releasing a new baked goods line in the coming months.  I have no reason to believe the company’s commitment has changed.  And I know their heart for the food allergy community hasn’t.

You know that line in the sand I mentioned in the beginning of my post?  I just crossed it.  Well, let’s be honest…I backflipped over it.

Am I telling you to support P.F. Chang’s?  No.  But, yes, it is definitely my personal choice to do so.

Am I going to tell you that you have to support Enjoy Life Foods?  No.  It is absolutely my personal choice to support this company with my business, but it doesn’t have to be your’s.

The food allergy community is blessed to have access to a wide variety of allergy-friendly products online and in supermarkets near and far.  We are so blessed that we have individuals who work tirelessly day after day to give their best in medical research and product innovations that serve the food allergy community.

What I will tell you is that if we demand perfection (of which there is no such thing) from someone and they know they can’t provide it…they won’t even try.  This concept applies to medical research, dining establishments, and even allergy friendly products.  Imagine how differently our world would look if no one tried.

So to all the naysayers, I don’t want to be the reason people and companies quit trying to help us, the gluten-free and food allergy community.  Do you?

Nine New Friends You Just HAVE To Meet

Despite the icy roads and crazy cold Texas weather, I had an amazing time at Gluten-Free Food Allergy Fest in Austin today!

GFFAF Austin

These were the lovely ladies I shared my blogging booth with!

The Food Allergy Mom and Erin SmithThis is me with Erin Smith.  If you are wondering about traveling gluten-free, THIS is your gal.  Follow her at Gluten-Free Globetrotter and Gluten-Free Fun!  She is a wonderfully kind and amazing lady!

The Food Allergy Mom and Lauren PechacekThis lovely lady is Lauren Pechacek, an AllerCoach.  Had such a great time visiting with this sweet lady who is passionate about helping those with food allergies!

I also had the pleasure of meeting a few wonderful ladies, I would love to introduce you to.

The Food Allergy Mom and Debbie AdlerLove, love, love this lady, THE Debbie Adler of Sweet Debbie’s Organic Cupcakes and author of Sweet Debbie’s Organic Treats:  Allergy-free and Vegan Recipes.

The Food Allergy Mom and Gina MeagherThis is my new friend, Gina Meagher, the author of There is Something About Gina.  She was kind enough to autograph a copy of her book for me today and I’m looking forward to reading it.

There were booths and booths and booths of fabulous gluten-free vendors.

Here are some new friends I made today.  I’ll be blogging about their products in the coming months.

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The Food Allergy Mom and Bona Dea

The Food Allergy Mom and GF Jules (1)

There were also a few old friends I really enjoyed visiting.

King Arthur Food Truck

The Food Allergy Mom and Enjoy Life's Katie Brunk

SUCH a wonderful time today and I can’t wait to go back tomorrow.  So blessed to be a part of this event!

Gluten Free Food Allergy Fest Austin – Happening Right Now!

I’m here at the Gluten Free Food Allergy Fest Austin.  Where are you?

GFFAF Austin

Come out and see all the fantastic companies and resources that are here to help you!