Monday, September 15, 2014

Gluten Freedom – a Book Review

I received a complimentary preview copy of Gluten Freedom: The Nation's Leading Expert Offers the Essential Guide to a Healthy, Gluten-Free Lifestyle,by Dr. Alessio Fasano, in March (just prior to the book's release date). That makes me quite delinquent in providing this review, but better late than never, right?

In this book you will find a little bit of everything – the history of celiac disease, medical progress, personal stories, a discussion of lifestyle issues, and some basic recipes. Readers here will especially appreciate the explanation of the difference between wheat allergy, celiac disease, and gluten intolerance.

While I think this might be an intimidating book for someone new to celiac disease (it goes deep), it does have some very useful information for those new to either celiac disease or wheat allergy, including comprehensive lists of foods to avoid.

I wouldn’t suggest the book for the recipes (especially if you also have other food allergies), but there are some great ideas for food solutions that may inspire you to create your own recipes.

Overall, this is an upbeat book – nothing to drag you down. I applaud Dr. Fasano for sharing his detailed knowledge in the book and for donating his proceeds from the book to the Center for Celiac Research.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Food Should Taste Good Brown Rice Crackers - Product Review

If it seems like I have been doing a lot of product reviews lately, it's because I am finally catching up on all of the blog posts for products cluttering up my dining room table. I love trying new products and sharing them with you. My goal is to give you the straight scoop so you can decide if you want to buy them.

Today I am focused on brown rice crackers from Food Should Taste Good. I received free samples to review. I have been a fan of the Food Should Taste Good tortilla chips for some time (olive is my favorite!) so I had high hopes for the crackers.

I must note that all of the crackers contain sesame ingredients and the sea salt crackers contain soy. Otherwise, the boxes I received were gluten-free and top-8 allergen-free. They have unique flavors -- tomato and basil, peppercorn (peppercorn seems to be popular in lots of new products lately), roasted red pepper, and the soy-containing sea salt (unfortunately I could not sample that one).

I brought the box of tomato and basil crackers to the beach along with some Applegate Farms salami for lunch, in lieu of traditional sandwiches, for me and my son.

The first thing I noticed about the crackers is the sweet taste. Checking the box, sure enough, brown sugar is the third ingredient. While each serving (10 crackers) contains only 4 grams of sugar, that sweet taste was unexpected in a savory flavor.  Perhaps if wasn't the best choice to pair with salami

On the plus side, the crackers are baked and hence low in fat. In addition to rice, they contain a host of whole grains and all natural ingredients.

If you like a sweet cracker these may be for you, but I'll stick to the tortilla chips.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Enjoy Life Foods Introduces New Packaging

I am very honored and grateful that manufacturers of food allergy products ask me to try their products. This week I received this complimentary package from one of my all-time favorite food allergy companies -- Enjoy Life Foods:

It's the same great crunchy cookie formula. It's made in the same dedicated nut and gluten-free bakery. The ingredients include none of the top 8 food allergens (wheat, dairy, eggs, soy, tree nuts, peanuts, fish, and shellfish). The cookies are in a newly designed box, but still very recognizable:

Note that the boxes sport a prominent "gluten-free" badge on the front of the box, conforming with the new gluten-free labeling laws (although not required). 

The cookies come in the same four flavors we already love. I'm a Double Chocolate girl. My son opts for the Sugar Crisps first. Which is your favorite?

Monday, August 25, 2014

Videri Chocolate Factory – Product Review

Not all chocolate is created equal.

I recently learned about the Videri Chocolate Factory in Raleigh, North Carolina. I haven’t been there in person, but if I ever have occasion to visit Raleigh you will find me taking a tour of this chocolate factory. (Call me obsessed, but I honestly can’t think of anything better to do on vacation!)

The folks at Videri reached out to me and asked if I would like to sample their chocolate. I’ve never been known to turn down chocolate unless it contains dairy or is too sweet. But hand crafted dark chocolate? That was an easy answer – heck yes!

Videri sent me complementary samples to review. This is what arrived, beautifully packaged and kept cool:

It felt like Christmas.

I wanted you to see the packaging because it makes a great gift for your favorite chocoholic.

But now, let’s talk about the chocolate. Videri Chocolate Factory is a bean to bar factory that uses only the finest organic cocoa beans, cocoa butter, and organic sugar. There were no other ingredients on the labels (except sea salt for the sea salt bar, and pink peppercorns for the peppercorn bar). In fact, chocolate liquor is not even listed as an ingredient? Why? Because they make their own from organic cocoa nibs. You won’t find soy lecithin, xanthan gum, emulsifiers, or artificial flavorings in Videri chocolate. The facility is completely gluten-free, nut-free, and soy-free. They do use dairy for the milk chocolate bars; dairy is processed on shared equipment, but precautions are taken to sanitize.

Okay, I know what you really want to know – how does it taste? This isn’t cheap grocery store chocolate; is it worth paying for?

I received an assortment of chocolate bars – all dark – ranging from 60% to 90% cacao. The 90% cacao is crafted from Ecuadorian beans and the 75% from Venezuelan beans. To call it artisan chocolate would almost be unfair because it is so much more than that. This is chocolate for the true connoisseur.

When I visited the website to decide whether this was a product I wanted to review, I was struck by the description of the dark chocolate bar as “the chocolate bar for purists,” a category that I put myself in when it comes to chocolate. Nevertheless, I was intrigued by some of the unique flavors, most notably sea salt, and that is what I tried first:

Note that each box contains 2 bars, and every box is hand-numbered with an edition.

And, oh my… there are not enough adjectives in the English vocabulary to describe how good this chocolate is. Truly. It is exquisite. Yes, I am gushing.

The bottom line: this is not chocolate I will use for baking (although Videri does also sell baking chocolate). This is chocolate meant for savoring, one (okay, maybe two or three pieces) exquisite piece at a time.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Bring the GFAF EXPO to Your Doorstep With Send Me Gluten-Free

The Gluten Free Marketing Group (the folks who bring us the Gluten Free and Allergen Free Expos) has done it again. This time they are bringing products right to your home with a new offering called Send Me Gluten Free. I was lucky enough to receive a free sample to find out what it's all about (and you can get lucky too -- see coupon below).

If you've ever been to a GFAF Expo, you know what I mean when I say that it's a ton of fun to walk around and find new and exciting products (as well as your current faves) to try. That's the same feeling I got when this box arrived at my front door:

The box I received was exactly the same as what they sent to the Send Me Gluten Free subscribers. Everything inside is gluten-free, and most were also free of other top allergens, varying by product. Depending on your specific food allergies, some products may be more or less suitable for you.

This is what I found inside:

Black Bean Spaghetti from Explore Asian Authentic Cuisine contains only black beans and water. I have tried this one before and it wasn't a hit. I may have to try it again.

TeeChia sustained energy cereal is made with gluten-free oats and a variety of fruits and seeds (made in a facility that also processes tree nuts -- otherwise top-8 free according to the ingredients label).

This Sevierly Good organic traditional bread mix is the product I am most wanting to try. The mix is top-8 free (using a standard rice/potato/tapioca flour blend). The add-ins call for eggs or egg replacer (I'd choose Ener-G egg replacer for this one).

I don't usually think of hot beverages as an issue for those with food allergies, but single-serving samples of coffee and tea were included.

A couple of small snacks and a lipstick sample from Red Apple were also included. The Raw Rev bar contains tree nuts.

I also found a sample of gluten-free soy sauce. Yes, it contains soy. (I'm still waiting for someone to come up with a soy-free soy sauce.)

There were also a handful of coupons (some for products in the box and others for other deals to explore -- including a free issue of Delight Gluten Free magazine).

All in all there were a variety of products. If you want to try them yourself, check out the various subscription plans for Send Me Gluten Free and use code: BLOG20 to receive 20% off of your order.