Thursday, September 26, 2013

Enjoy Life Updates their Chewy Bars (and a Discount)

I am always skeptical when products change – especially when the original was a favorite. So when Enjoy Life told me they had changed their chewy bars – updated the packaging and improved the taste – I had to find out for myself whether the new versions were truly better. Enjoy Life sent me a box of bars to try:

Right off the bat I was pleased to see that Enjoy Life stayed true to their mission. The bars are still gluten-free and top-8 allergen-free and processed in a dedicated facility. Way to go EL!

Next, I was thrilled to see that they didn’t improve the bars by adding sugar. These bars still contain less than 8 grams of sugar per serving, and the Sunbutter Crunch clocks in at only 4 grams of sugar!

The packaging says that the bars now feature ancient grains – that would be what appears to be small amounts of quinoa, buckwheat, amaranth, and millet in the Caramel Apple, Mixed Berry, and SunButter Crunch bars. The Cocoa Loco (my longtime favorite) claimed to be packed with more chocolate chips. But, could it be true?

My taste test of the Cocoa Loco bars left me pleasantly surprised. They are indeed packed with more chocolate chips. The bar is moister and tastes just splendid. This may become my new mid-afternoon snack!

It’s your lucky day because you can try the new Enjoy Life bars as well! Use discount code CHEWY10 at the Enjoy Life shop to receive a 10% discount on your first order of chewy bars.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Appreciating the Wisdom of Bird by Bird

Cover of "Bird by Bird: Some Instructions...
Cover via Amazon
One of my favorite books on writing is Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life. The title of the book refers to the concept of baby steps – doing a little bit at a time to reach the end goal. It’s a concept that truly works for me right now.

I am working on a new cookbook – and surely, I will be talking about that more over the next few months – but for now I want to talk about the process. Each day I am a recipe developer, recipe tester, writer, food photographer, food stylist, and prop stylist. It’s a lot of hats to wear.

And I have a deadline – a deadline that strikes me into a state of fear if I think about it too much, due to the sheer magnitude of the project. The trick is not to think and just to do. I know that if I make progress each day, I will complete the project. It’s a matter of baby steps, crossing off one bird at a time.

Do you have a favorite book of wisdom? Please share.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Gimbal's Back to School Sweepstakes

Gimbal's Find Candies is giving away a backpack full of candy, including Gourmet Jelly Beans, Cherry Lovers, Cinnamon Lovers, Sour Gourmet Jelly Beans, All Natural Licorice Scotties and Sour Lovers:

All Gimbal's candies are free of the top 8 food allergens!
The Back-to-School Sweepstakes runs through Sept. 30th, 2013, and is open to everyone. Enter the sweepstakes through Gimbal’s Facebook Page and you will automatically receive 10% off your next online purchase.

Monday, September 16, 2013

This One Haunts Me

It’s not the first time we’ve heard about a tragic loss due to food allergies. We all know that any number greater than zero is too many. Yet, this one feels different. It pops into my head randomly during the day and keeps me awake at night.

It’s not the story of a first-time anaphylactic reaction where epinephrine wasn’t available. It’s not the story of a teen gone rogue and rebelliously challenging her food restrictions. It’s not the story of an epi-pen left at home while on vacation. This is a story where – by all accounts – everything was done right.

Natalie Giorgi took one bite of something she had eaten many times before – something she thought was a safe treat. This time it contained peanuts. She spit it out and alerted her parents who then gave her an antihistamine. Twenty minutes later, when she experienced the first symptoms of anaphylaxis, her father – a physician – gave her a shot of epinephrine. Then another. And another. Three doses of epinephrine were not enough to stop cardiac arrest in this beautiful thirteen-year-old.

We teach our children to look both ways when never crossing the street, to never get into the car with a drunk driver, and to always carry an epi-pen. In this case, even three epi-pens were not enough.

Of course we can ask the tough questions: If she had received epinephrine sooner, would it have made a difference? If she had been rushed to the hospital would the result have been different?

We have been taught that epinephrine save lives. And surely, that is usually the case. But what happens when epinephrine simply doesn’t work? Is it possible that a body can build up a tolerance to the drug? Or, that some of our immune systems have adapted to the point of not responding to it? How do we change the ending to this story?

I remain haunted.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

A Weekend at the GFAF Expo in New Jersey

I am back from another wildly successful Gluten-Free & Allergen-Free Expo. This time I only had to travel a hop, skip, and a jump from my hometown to get there – and it was fabulous to have a special foods expo nearby!

I was grateful to be signing books alongside some fabulous authors, and grateful to San-J for sponsoring the author’s booth:

Children’s author Heather Spergel wrote a touching book titled Free to Be Gluten Free!
that is appropriate for children with all kinds of food restrictions and to help other children understand what it means to have celiac disease or food allergies.

While many of the products demo’ed at this event were the same as earlier conferences this year, there is one that truly stood out.

My pick of the show is Wink Frozen Desserts. These tasty frozen treats are a cross between ice cream and ice milk – non-dairy, of course. In fact, they are top-8 allergen-free, vegan, gluten-free, and fat-free. It’s hard to believe that they are just 25 calories per ½ cup and oh-my-gosh they are good!! Chocolate Peppermint is my favorite!

My favorite moment of the show was meet Molly Cavanaugh for the first time!

Molly is an editor at The Experiment Publishing. She helped edit Learning to Bake Allergen-Free and came up with the sub-title “A Crash Course for Busy Parents on Baking without Wheat, Gluten, Dairy, Eggs, Soy or Nuts.” And she is just as fabulous in person as she is on the phone!

Monday, September 9, 2013

The Winner of the Hamilton Beach Breakfast Sandwich Maker is...

Bells, whistles, drumroll...

Congratulations Lindsay!!

You are going to love this nifty little gadget:

You all had some very creative ideas for the sandwiches you would make. If you'd like to make them with the Hamilton Beach Breakfast Sandwich Maker, it is available at Amazon, Target, Kroger, K-Mart, and Sears nationwide.

Thanks for entering!

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Jessica’s All Natural Gluten-Free Granola

A package arrived from Jessica’s Natural Foods and my first thought was “yum!”

One of the best things about writing a food allergy blog – and occasionally doing product reviews – is that I sometimes get free samples to try. This was a case where I wasn’t aware of the product before Jessica contacted me, but I am delighted that she did!

Jessica’s granolas are all made with certified gluten-free oats, no GMO’s, no preservatives, and no artificial colors. I am very happy that she kept the sugar low – most contain 7 or 8 grams of sugar per serving, whereas many granolas have at least twice that much.

In terms of safety, I love the way the products are labeled. Each package is very clear about exactly what food allergens it contains, what else is processed on the same equipment, and what else is processed in the same facility. This is the kind of information that it sometimes takes hours of digging to find. Kudos to Jessica. That's the way product labels should be done!!

The label on the Cherry & Berry Granola that I tried states that it is manufactured in a dedicated gluten-free facility, it is made on shared equipment with products containing tree nuts and soy lecithin, and it’s produced in a facility that processes eggs and soy.

The Cherry & Berry contains coconut, which of course is not a nut, but many of the granolas do contain tree nuts. They are clearly not suitable for those with tree nut allergies, but the rest of can easily scan the product information and know whether it is safe for us.

The granola itself is delightful. It contains just the right amount of crunch, just the right amount of sweet, and just the right amount of goodness!

Jessica’s Granola is available at Whole Foods in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Michigan, and ten other states, and at the Jessica's Naturals website.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Hamilton Beach Breakfast Sandwich Maker – Review and Giveaway

I first set eyes on this nifty little kitchen gadget at the BlogHer Food conference earlier this year. Isn’t it cute?

The folks at Hamilton Beach sent me one to try – and one lucky reader can win one too (see below). But, first, the details.

This gadget is designed so that you can make your own breakfast sandwich – presumably healthier than the drive-thru version, gluten-free, and whatever-else-free you’d like. It’s a multi-layer design – fill the bottom, add an egg (if you’d like and you aren’t allergic to eggs) on the shelf, add the top, then set a timer for five minutes.

This is the kind of gadget my kids would have loved to have in the house when they came home from school as teenagers, usually ravenous.

It’s possible to use the sandwich maker without eggs, but since it’s designed to be used with eggs, I decided to make my first sandwich with an egg.

I used an Udi’s gluten-free bagel, sliced chicken, avocado, and egg.

The first thing I learned is that you shouldn’t overstuff it – it needs to be able to close easily. My bagel was a bit large for the machine, hence the slight burning on the top. A standard English Muffin (or the English Muffins from the recipe in Learning to Bake Allergen-Free) would be perfect. What you want to put inside is up to you!

This is a lazy Sunday morning breakfast maker, an after-school snack maker, or simply an anytime sandwich maker. And it doesn’t take up much space – the base measures about 6-inches by 7-inches.

To enter the giveaway:

1. Leave a comment here about what kind of sandwich you would make.

For extra entries:

2. Follow my facebook page, and leave a comment here that you are following. (If you already follow, just leave a comment that you do!)

3. Follow me on twitter, and leave a comment here with your twitter handle. (Again, no penalties it you already follow, just leave a comment with your twitter handle.)

Entries close at midnight on Sunday September 8th. The winner will be announced on Tuesday September 10th. Be sure to come back to see if you won!

If you can’t wait and want one now, the Hamilton Beach Breakfast Sandwich Maker is available at Amazon, Target, Kroger, K-Mart, and Sears nationwide.