Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Bare Chips Product Review

I love products that have very simple ingredients lists -- and that is what I found when I read the labels on these "chips" by Bare Foods.

 Disclaimer: Bare Foods sent me complementary samples of these products to try.

The apple chips contain simply, apples.

The crunchy coconut chips contain coconut, cane sugar, and sea salt. The chocolate bliss crunchy coconut chips contain coconut, coconut nectar (a sweetener) and unsweetened chocolate. The labels for the coconut chips carry a "contains tree nuts" warning due to the FDA's (mis)classification of coconut as a nut.

I found that these chips did live up to the slogan "Snacks Gone Simple."

They taste great and they are indeed "bare." Because of the limited ingredients, they can be added to whatever baking or cooking project you have, or just eat them plain. Gotta love it!

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

An Update on Off-the-Shelf Gluten-Free Flour Blends

I often choose off-the-shelf flour blends for my allergen-free and gluten-free baking. After all, they are convenient and easy to use. But not all flour blends are equal – in fact, they vary considerably in performance and taste. In my first book, Learning to Bake Allergen-Free, I suggested the use of these blends and gave the run-down on which I preferred at that time. But the landscape has changed and it’s time for an update.

There are both new flour blends to consider as well as changes to some of the flour blends. Nevertheless, my list of favorites hasn’t changed too much.

What I considered in making this list was performance, consistency, and taste. I did not consider cost. Why not? Well, with gluten-free flour blends (as with many things) you get what you pay for. Even flour blends that appear to have the same ingredients can vary considerably. The truth is, the better performing gluten-free flour blends tend to be expensive.

Here are my picks:


Best all around: King Arthur Flour Gluten Free Multi-purpose Flour. I find that most gluten-free flour blends that claim to be “all purpose” are not always good for all types of baked goods. This one (in my opinion) is the exception, and gets the gold medal for consistency!

Best for pizza crust and bread:
GF Jules Gluten Free Flour. If you are looking for the flour blend created by the one and only Jules Shepard, this is the flour blend to use. This flour blend pick is what I now use in place of Jules Gluten Free All Purpose Flour. It’s a great one to have on the shelf!

Best for cookies and pie crust:
Authentic Foods Multi Blend Gluten Free Flour. If I’m reaching for an off-the-shelf blend to go on a pie-making binge and I don’t want to stop and mix my own flour blends in between batches, this is the flour blend I use.

Best for muffins and cakes:
King Arthur Flour Gluten Free Whole Grain Flour Blend. This flour blend is the best-kept secret in the world of gluten-free baking. It comes in a brown paper bag (sealed inside) with the King Arthur Flour label and I’ve only been able to find it on the King Arthur Flour website and in their store in Vermont. Nevertheless, it’s worth every penny. Love this blend!!

Honorable mentions:
Pamela’s All-Purpose Gluten Free Flour and Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free All Purpose Baking. The first of these is new to the world of gluten-free flour blends since the writing of Learning to Bake Allergen-Free, while the latter (uniquely based on bean flours) continues to make my list. In both cases these flour blends (while gluten-free) may not be suitable for some with food allergies due to shared facilities and shared equipment. I continue to prefer this Bob’s Red Mill Flour Blend to the newer Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free 1 to 1 Baking Flour, recently reviewed here.

No longer recommended:
Namaste Perfect Flour Blend. When I was developing recipes for Learning to Bake Allergen-Free this was one of my favorites. Since that time I have had too many inconsistent batches (usually resulting in baked goods that seem to be underdone and overly gummy) and I have heard from readers who have experienced the same thing. For that reason, I no longer use or recommend this flour blend.

As noted above, these flour blends can be expensive. I suggest signing up for mailing lists and newsletters so that you can hear about special deals.

And a reminder – these flour blends vary considerably by weight (from 120 grams per cup for The King Arthur Flour Whole Grain Blend to 160 grams per cup for the Authentic Foods Blend and the King Arthur Flour blend in the blue and white box). They are not substitutable by volume. In other words, use the scale rather than the measuring cup.

Note: I am not compensated by nor do I work for any of these brands.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Recipe Recap from Learning to Bake Allergen-Free

I've been promoting The Allergy-Free Pantry quite a bit lately. That's what an author is supposed to do when a new book comes out, right? But I am also rediscovering some of my favorite recipes from my first book, Learning to Bake Allergen-Free and thought this was a good time to do a bit of a recipe recap.

Here are some of my favorites (and yours too!):

Coffee Cake with Streusel Topping - coffee not required

Strawberry Tartlets - those summer berries will be here before you know it!

Chocolate No-Nut Crisp - make this quick and easy

Chocolate Croissants - my all-time reader favorite recipe and most pinned photo!

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Announcing the Winner of the Safe & Happy Family Giveaway #MySafeFamily

Congratulations to latanya t!

Thanks to everyone who entered. If you missed it and want to check out all of the great food allergy awareness gear by Safe and Happy Family, click here.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Safe & Happy Family Product Review and Giveaway #MySafeFamily

I am very picky about the products I choose to review – I only review products that are appropriate for a food allergy audience and that I think you will love. When Safe & Happy Family asked me if I’d like a sample of one of their food allergy plates to review I was skeptical until I checked out their website. I immediately fell in love with the idea and the designs, and I think you will too!

Disclosure: Safe & Happy Family sent me a plate to review and they are giving one away to a reader here.

Before I transformed my meals to be completely allergen-free, I had to contend with the “separate plate” phenomenon – making sure that the one dish that must be allergen-free was indeed safe. It never occurred to me to use a different plate (a concept that leading food allergy chain restaurants are embracing) – perhaps that was because I didn’t have one of these beauties:

If you are preparing separate meals, I always recommend preparing the food allergy plate first. But I know I’ve had occasions where I had four plates on the counter and then completely forgot which one had the casserole prepared without dairy… it’s easy to do. That’s just one of the reasons I love these plates.

These 10-inch plates are just the right size for any meal. (Some designs also come in a smaller 8-inch size and sets are available too!) They wash beautifully and are dishwasher safe (I know, there’s new research that says those who don’t use the dishwasher may have fewer allergies, but we already have allergies and the dishwasher can sanitize). They are BPA-free. (They can’t be used in a microwave.)

The designs are beautiful. I love the use of our favorite food-allergy teal color across the patterns. I chose the “retro green” for my review, but here are a few others you might like:

I made pancakes from The Allergy-Free Pantry with blackberry maple syrup topping.

To make the syrup: mash 5-6 blackberries in a small saucepan, add ½ cup maple syrup and warm it up.

Now, for the giveaway:

One lucky reader will win a 10-inch food allergy plate from Safe & Happy Family.

No later than April 1st at midnight
(yup, April Fool’s Day, but no fooling on the giveaway) leave a comment here about why you think you'd love these plates.

For extra entries:

1. Share this post on facebook with hashtag #MySafeFamily and @SafeHappyFamily (leave a separate comment here that you did so).

2. Share on twitter with hashtag #MySafeFamily and @SafeHappyFamily (leave a separate comment here that you did so).

One winner will be randomly chosen and announced on April 2nd. (Please make sure I have a way to contact you.) The winner can choose the retro-green pattern or another 10-inch plate (value $21.50).

And, in case you don’t make it over to the website, I need to show you this mug that I adore:

I know dozens of food allergy moms that need that mug!!