Thursday, August 29, 2013

A New Product Find – Wholesome Chow Baking Mixes

Disclosure: Wholesome Chow sent me samples of their baking mixes to try.

I have a habit of collecting baking mixes – I see a new one and I must try it. Usually that means starting with a gluten-free baking mix that requires eggs, milk, and sometimes butter. And I adapt.

I also have a habit of sending my son care packages, often with baking mixes. I put stickies on the mixes to tell him which ingredients to substitute. And so, on a Sunday morning I will get a text from him that reads: I don’t have Ener-G Egg Replacer, what should I use instead? Or: Can I use melted Earth Balance shortening instead of grapeseed oil?

You get the idea… substituting can be tricky (although usually possible). When I saw that the Wholesome Chow mixes were both made in a dedicated facility (without wheat, milk, eggs, soy, peanuts, or tree nuts) and they didn’t require adding even a single egg, I jumped at the chance to try them.

While primarily a gluten-free and vegan company, the Wholesome Chow mixes are made in a “100% dedicated gluten, peanut, nut, dairy, and egg free facility”. The products also do not contain soy. While some products contain cornstarch, the vanilla frosting mix and all-purpose baking mix (for pancakes and such) are corn-free!! All of the products are organic and non-GMO.

I decided to try the Lemon Poppy Muffin Mix first. Oil, lemon juice, and non-dairy milk (I used coconut) in a bowl and stir in the mix by hand. One bowl, a spoon, and a muffin tin are the only tools you need. Baking doesn’t get easier than this.

The lemon poppy muffin mix uses a blend of rice flours, potato starch, and tapioca starch. It does, of course, contain poppy seeds. The lemon taste really pops in this muffin. If there is one thing I don’t like about this mix it’s that the first ingredient is evaporated cane juice (i.e., sugar), making this a very sweet breakfast treat.

But it sure is a tasty one!

In addition to the mixes they sent me, Wholesome Chow makes some chocolate cake, lavender cake (interesting!), brownie, and scone mixes. The Scone mix may be a bit more my speed for breakfast, with only 7 grams of sugar per serving. Which one would you try?

Monday, August 26, 2013

Looking Forward to the GFAF EXPO in New Jersey!!

Yippee! The Gluten-Free & Allergen-Free EXPO is finally coming to my neck of the woods – well, within driving distance at least. I’m excited but I can’t believe it’s almost September. Really? When did summer happen?

Nevertheless, on Saturday September 7th and Sunday September 9th I’ll be at the Meadowlands signing books. If you are in the area and plan to be there please let me know. And of course, stop by and say hi!

The GFAF Expo in Chicago was a blast! So many vendors… so many new products. You can see some of my favorites from Chicago here.

What am I hoping to find in New Jersey?

1. Top of my list: I am still in search of a great shampoo and conditioner that is both gluten-free and soy-free. Not just good, but great.

2. Beyond that, simple, new food products, without GMOs – of course, dairy-free and soy-free as well as gluten-free. Top eight free is even better. The fewer ingredients the better.

3. Anything chocolate!

Will you be there? What products are you hoping to find?

Thursday, August 22, 2013

The Kitchen Counter Cooking School – A Book Review

The Kitchen Counter Cooking School is the most delightful book about food that I have come across in a long time. It’s not a cookbook (although it does contain a handful of recipes). It’s a recount of Kathleen Flinn’s efforts to mentor a small group of women through the basics of home cooking.

The story starts with Kathleen meeting a woman at the grocery store who has no idea what she is looking for and is stuffing her shopping cart with processed foods. Having just completed culinary school in Paris, she decides that she can help.

This is a story that most of us can relate to. I not only used to buy a lot of processed food, I actually believed that what I was eating was food. We have all been programmed to believe that real food comes in a box. Kathleen’s objective was to teach this group of women, and now us (via the book) how to cook simply and inexpensively at home. She covers everything from how to use a knife (which, surprisingly, I was doing the proper way) to how to bone a chicken (which I have yet to try).

The lessons in the book really resonated with me as a food allergy Mom. When you can’t rely on frozen chicken fingers and tater tots from the grocery store anymore, the answer is to make your own!

Have you read the book? What did you think?

Thursday, August 15, 2013

KFA Strides for Safe Kids

It only happens once a year! Kids with Foods Allergies (a non-profit that I am proud to sit on the board of) is having their annual fundraiser. The Strides for Safe Kids event will be held Sunday, September 8th, in Plymouth Meeting Mall, Pennsylvania. This is the fundraiser for Kids with Food Allergies.

We don’t hold walks all over the country, but even if you aren’t in Pennsylvania that weekend you can still participate. I did, by creating a virtual fund-raising team. I am inviting you to join my team with a donation (no amount is too small) or to create your own virtual team.

Click here to participate, or on the Strides for Safe Kids button in the sidebar.

Kids with Food Allergies educates families to prevent life threatening allergic reactions and to be prepared to respond to allergic emergencies. With your help, they will educate, support, and advocate on behalf of our children.

Your gift will make a difference for the millions of children affected by food allergies. Thank you for your support!

Monday, August 12, 2013

Eating Out With Food Allergies Can be Tricky Business

Every now and then I run across a server or chef in a restaurant that is trying to help but is misinformed – and those can be the most frustrating restaurant experiences. Recently I experienced this two days in a row.

We never eat at Red Lobster when my son is home because nearly every dish contains dairy, but my husband convinced me we should go for lobster. I should note that this chain is on my list of restaurants to avoid, but that seemed to slip my mind as I savored the idea of lobster. (I should also note that we do not have fish or shellfish allergies.) Off to Red Lobster we went.

I asked for a gluten-free menu and was handed a six-page grid of ingredients in their menu items. Nearly every item on the list had an asterisk in the gluten column, including the lobster. (I should also note that there were half a dozen items that had wheat listed as an ingredient but not gluten.) I decided the list they had handed me wasn’t going to help much.

When the server came back I explained that I would like lobster, but asked if he could check why they had it listed as containing gluten. This was a simple boiled lobster – why in the world should it contain gluten?

The manager came over and explained that she checked the online database and that it also said the lobster contains gluten. (Now I’m rolling my eyes.) I explain that there in no gluten in the lobster itself and asked whether it was something they were boiling it in? (no, just water) or something in the butter (no, just 100% drawn butter). The manager then suggests that perhaps they have it listed that way because of the croutons on the salad. Seriously? (Major eye rolling now.)

I ordered the lobster with 100% butter (I am not allergic to dairy) and no croutons on the salad. I am happy to report that all is well.

The very next day my husband and I were at Coyote Grill. I have my standard two or three menu items that I usually order at Coyote Grill, but there was a chicken dish on the specials menu that sounded good. There was nothing in the description that would cause me to think it was unsafe, but notified the server of my gluten allergy and asked whether she could check. She happily reported that the chef said there was no wheat or gluten in the dish, but that it was coated with flour; the chef said it was okay.

From experience we all know that whenever someone says “flour” in a restaurant he or she doesn’t mean chickpea or rice (or any of the other safe flours) they mean wheat flour. I asked the server what kind of flour. She said she didn’t know, but she also noted that she was surprised at the chef’s response since she thought flour was wheat. (Smart girl.) I asked her if she could check the ingredients label on whatever he was using to coat the chicken.

Sure enough, my server cam back to report that the very first ingredient on the label was wheat. I happily ordered my usual salad.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Freeling Friday

Are you feeling like a freeling today? Or perhaps you need some allergy-safe snacks for back-to-school?

Today is the day to place an order at Peanut Free Planet. Today only, 5% of all sales on Peanut Free Planet and Allerrific will benefit Kids with Food Allergies – which means that benefits you too!

AND you get an awesome goodie bag with lot of fabulous snacks.

Stock up now:

Thursday, August 8, 2013

In Great Company

I am honored that Learning to Eat Allergy-Free was selected as one of the best allergy blogs by Healthline editors.

I was even more excited to see the rest of the top 19 (I have no idea why they chose 19). The list includes Kids with Food Allergies (a non-profit organization that I sit on the board of), and some of my own favorite blogs, including Anu Rao’s Allergy Foodie, Jennifer B’s Food Allergy Buzz, Lexie’s Kitchen, and AllergyEats blog.

Also included were the blogs of two of my favorite cookbook authors, Kelly Rudnicki and Cybele Pascal. What’s even more exciting is that I will be joining these two awesome ladies on a panel discussion about recipe development in November at the Food Allergy Blogger Conference (#FABlogCon). How lucky am I?

Check out the full list of Top Allergy Blogs here:

The Best Allergy Blogs

And speaking of recipe development – if you are planning to attend that session (or wish you could), what questions would you like to have answered?

Check out the full agenda for FABlogCon here.

Monday, August 5, 2013

The FDA Passes Gluten-Free Labeling Law… Finally

Nearly a decade after the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act (FALCPA) was passed the FDA has finally issued a final ruling on what the label “gluten-free” means.

The law states to be able to make a claim of “gluten-free” on a product package, the food must either be inherently gluten-free or cannot contain a gluten containing grain. If a grain has been processed to remove gluten, then gluten cannot be present at more than 20 parts per million (ppm). Also, any unavoidable presence of gluten in the food must be less than 20 ppm.

The law applies to food and dietary supplements.

Manufacturers will have a year to comply.

Important to note:

The gluten-free label is voluntary. This means that a product labeled gluten-free will not necessarily be safer than a product with no label.

The law is about designating what products are allowed to use a gluten-free label. There is no requirement to include an ingredients notice that a product does contain gluten. This is a significant difference from the way the FALCPA works.

For more on what the gluten-free labeling laws might mean to those with food allergies, check out my prior post on this topic.

Better late than never? What do you think?

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Pumpkin Seeds Galore: SuperSeedz Review

Who knew that pumpkin seeds came in flavors other than plain and salted? I sure didn’t until I opened this box of SuperSeedz sent to me to review by the folks at Kathie’s Kitchen.

With flavors including Somewhat Spicy, Super Spicy, Original Curry, and Tomato Italiano, there just might be a flavor here for everyone!

They are indeed gluten-free and top-8 allergen-free. Yes, they are processed in a nut-free facility (yeah!). Unless you are allergic to pumpkin seeds or spices you will find these to be very suitable. The spices vary by flavor, but the ingredients are quite simple – again, pumpkin seeds and spices. Only the Sugar and Cinnamon and Coco Joe flavors contain sugar.

I was most excited to try Coco-Joe. From the name I was expecting these to be chocolate, but they are actually a chocolate-coffee flavor. Despite a tiny bit of sugar they do not taste sweet; the sugar simply balances out the cocoa. I may not have picked the prettiest flavor to photograph, but you can get an idea of what they are like:

With the exception of the plain seeds, I think of these as a ready-made snack or something to throw in a trail mix, rather than seeds to add to your cooking or baking projects. Definitely a healthy snack!

Which flavor would you most like to try?