We Love When Food Makers Reply! This Time its Gluten
I can’t help but to be frustrated right now. I have several friends that have children that are similar in age to my kids. And of course, my kids love getting together and being able to play. Recently, we had some time to spend with a friend who I have not seen in a very long time and her three little ones. We had a great time. But…..
She knows that my kids are eating gluten free. She knows that it is because of an issue they both medically have. She knows how much I struggle trying to make my kids feel like they fit in.
When she invited us over, she mentioned that we should come for lunch. I began to explain to her my hesitation…and went down the whole list. The foods contents, the cross contamination issues, etc. She still insisted. I offered to bring our own food, that I knew would be okay. I even offered to bring enough for everyone to share. She still insisted everything would be fine. But, if this lifestyle has taught me anything its to be prepared, so I brought food anyway.
And its really a good thing that I did! We got there, and the kids played for awhile, which was awesome. But then I noticed that she had thrown in a pizza. I knew immediately that it was not going to be anything safe for my kids. So, I asked her. I wanted to know why she was making a pizza when she had offered to provide a safe lunch. She then said, well it is a favorite of the kids, so I was going to give them that, and I have salad and fruits and veggies for your kids. I was appalled.
I, luckily, brought a nice hearty lunch for the kids. But, still not the point. She knows that I do everything I can to NOT alienate my kids. Sorry, but eating something that they can not have right in front of them is awful. To top it all off, she even offered me the pizza. I remained calm during the whole thing, but shortly after lunch my kids were getting tired and had asked to leave. I was more than happy to oblige.
While I did take the time to explain my frustrations to her, I still can not help but to be upset to this day. Please do not take medical issues, especially those revolving around kids, lightly. It is hard enough for the kids to feel like they fit in, try not to make it any harder.
Where can gluten hide?
Recently, I posted about the strangest places that we have found gluten since living gluten free, and realized that there are a lot of places that people may not think about to check. Here is a quick list of where to find it and how to avoid cross contamination at home.
First, is to obviously remove all your basic food products that contain gluten. This will typically be your cereals, oatmeals, pastas, bread and bread based products. But, also make sure that any opened spread you have, peanut butter, jelly, jams, sauces or butter, that have been touched by a knife that has been put to bread get tossed. There is no telling whether or not these spreads are safe since bread particles could have been transferred over. This goes for cream cheese as well. When in doubt, throw it out! Your health is much more important that trying to salvage something.
Check your appliances! Toasters and toaster ovens will never be clean enough to use safely again. REplace them for peace of mind. Also, check your pots and pans. If there are scratches on your pots or pans that have previously contained gluten items, get rid of those too. There is no way to be sure that you have cleaned every tiny crevice well enough that gluten is not hiding in there.
Cleaning supplies! This can be tricky, because many times, companies do not list their ingredients completely on the labels. You will need to check your cleaning chemicals, detergents, dish soap, dishwasher soap and anything else you use. If the product does not specify, call the company and find out. Or, you can go with more specialized gluten free or all natural companies instead of conventional ones. Just remember, routinely check your products because companies can change their formulas at any time.
Now it is time to check those bathroom products! Make up, sunscreens, lotions, perfumes, deodorants, body sprays, soaps, shampoos, conditioners, self tanners, tanning lotions, hair dyes, even bug sprays. Check all of these things, and be diligent in keeping up with any manufacturing changes. They happen a lot in this area.
And probably one of the worst places gluten can hide, in is your medications and supplements. Check all your OTC medications, everything from pain medicine, to allergy medicine, to cough syrup. Usually medications that are safe will say gluten free on the label. Check supplements too, especially kid vitamins. If you are on prescription medications, be sure to ask your doctor about the gluten content of your medications. Often, if there is, your doctor can set you up on a different course of treatment to avoid it. Just be careful about asking pharmacists, in my experience they often are not as well versed in medication contents and gluten. Obviously, this does not mean that there aren’t some that do know, but in my experiences, I have often found that I am more well versed in the topic than they tend to be.
One more area…pet foods! Depending on your level of sensitivity, it may be best for you to feed your pet gluten free as well. I have heard of people having reactions from pets who eat gluten. Often times it winds up being s skin reaction once the pet has licked the affected person. This is not something that effects us directly. But this is something that you will want to think about depending on the severity of your symptoms.
Hope this helps, please let me know if there are any places that I may have missed!
Product Review: Crunchmaster
**I was provided free product in exchange for my honest opinions. I received no financial compensation and all opinions contained in here are my own and in no way influenced by an outside party.**
When I am looking for snacks that are safe for our house, I can NOT even begin to tell you how much of a pain it is to find ones that taste good! I walk down all the aisles with the kids and of course they look and want everything. And I know that even if I didn’t…they would see their friends with “normal” snacks and wonder why they have to be so different. And sometimes, I can’t help but wish we could just buy whatever we wanted without looking. Luckily though, I found a company that really has that in mind when producing their snacks. Crunchmaster!! Check out their website here.
The kids and I were so excited when our product got here… I could barely get a picture before the kids wanted to tear into them!
We were able to try Crunchmaster’s two new kids snacks, Cheezy Crisps and Grammy Crisps. And we also got to try the Rosemary and Olive Ooil Multi Seed Crackers. We were very happy with each item, which is unusual. For those of you that follow this blog regularly, you know how much of a challenge it is for me to find something both kids will like and agree on.
The Cheezy Crisps were the first things the kids wanted to try, and I was all for it. After checking the nutritional panel to see about a serving size, I was even more excited to give these to the kids. 60 of these crackers make up an adult serving for 120 calories! That’s quite a s snack! I portioned out half that amount for the kids and the full amount for myself and got to sampling. Before I even tasted them, I was worried that like so many other cheese snacks, they may have that fake flavor. I was pleasantly surprised to find that they did not. They are made with a great blend of real mozzarella and cheddar cheese and you can definitely taste them. They are light and crunchy and have a fantastic texture. There is enough cheese so that you know you are having a cheese based snack, but its balanced well and not ever overbearing. These snacks are great all on their own. The kids and I also mixed them in with some cereal and pecans and dried cranberries for a nice little trail mix.
Next up was the Grammy Crisps. These have a suggested serving size of 25 crackers for 130 calories. Still not a bad deal in my book, especially because both of their kid centered snacks are made with whole grain. So the kids each got a few and off we went to taste them and see how we can incorporate them into other things. These by far were my favorite of all the Crunchmaster items we sampled. They are nice and crunchy, and have this amazing blend of cinnamon and sugar. These definitely took me back to when I was a kid and the cinnamon and sugar toast that we would have with breakfast. I was so happy to find something that allowed me to share these kind of flavors with my kids. The kids could not get enough of them and were quickly coming up with some great recipe ideas. These are amazing all on their own or in our nice little Smores mix. The kids actually came up with this one…and we mixed the Grammy snacks, some mini marshmallows and mini chocolate chips and had our own version of easier to eat, no heat Smores! This is something we will definitely be making again, it is a great little snack mix to have for play-dates or get togethers.
After the kids had their fun with the new snacks and building new recipes, my husband and I set out to try the more “adult” type snack from Crunchmaster, the Rosemary and Olive Oil Multi Seed Crackers. They are super thin and all natural and nice and crispy. They have a great blend of seeds including sesame, quinoa, flax, and amaranth. They are great right out of the bag, with nice undertones of Rosemary and Olive Oil. I was a little nervous that the Rosemary would be overwhelming but it was not at all. My husband was totally content to eat them just plain, but I could not help but wonder what sorts of topping would work best for these awesome little crackers. I tried various cheeses, and our favorite was a New York Extra Sharp Cheddar. I also had a dinner to attend with some friends and wanted to bring something along. I used these crackers and make up some Bruschetta. What a great combination!!! My friends at the dinner party could not get enough of them and just had to know what kind of crackers I was using. They are such a great substitution for bread in dip like recipes and I cannot wait to try therm with other options.
All in all, before trying these Crunchmaster products I had come in contact with mixed reviews from other people I know who have tried them. I was a little hesitant, but I am so glad that I was given the opportunity to try them for myself. I am excited to say they are one of the better gluten-free snack companies out there. For those of you interested in trying them for yourself ( and I highly recommend you do!!) check out this link for a great coupon! Also, please check them out and show them your support on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest! And don’t forget to share your opinions with me!
Lizzie”s Wordless Wednesday
My princess always has to match what I do, and I love it…I would NOT ask for it any other way…. But that does come with its own set of drawbacks. This picture shoes why it is so critically important for me to follow a gluten free diet, even though gluten is not an issue for me. As parents, we lead by example, and in my case, I have my fantastic little copycats watching my every move. They are my reasons for living, my everything, and I owe it to them to provide the right kind of example to follow. Me cheating and adding gluten only cheats the people I hold dearest to my heart.
Product Review: Second Helping
In my quest to continuously seek out the best of the best in gluten-free companies and products, I have come across a real winner and an instant kid friendly, family favorite! I am happy to share with you today, Second Helping! They are a great company that provides fantastic meatballs, called Mama’s Meatballs and awesome corn dogs, called Corn Puppies! Check out their website here.
Second Helping was nice enough to send me both of their products to try.
After checking out this great nutritional info….we could not wait to try them out!
In fact, we were so excited about these that we decided to have the Corn Puppies for lunch and incorporated Mama’s Meatballs into our dinner!
The first thing I noticed when I opened up the Corn Puppies was their plentiful size! With two as a serving, we were feeling entirely satisfied! Bonus is, there are 5 servings per bag! We made these on a day my kids actually had friends over, and it was the perfect food for our play date! The turkey hot dogs inside are nice and plump and juicy. The ratio of corn to hot dog is perfect. Just enough corn to add that great flavor, without masking the hot dog, like I have seen from other companies. They are incredibly easy to make, just toss in the oven ( we used our counter top convention) and let them cook while the kids are finishing up playing and lunch is all done. There was no turning or messing with them and they came out deliciously golden brown and crunchy! After they were cooled and served, I was surprised to see even my pickiest eater, Bear, dig right in! After getting the approval from my youngest critics, I got the chance to sample them. I loved that they tasted so home-made! If I would have been served these at a friend’s house, I would have never guessed that they were frozen and store-bought. What a great find!
After the great success with our lunch, I quickly refocused dinner to a pasta night ( gluten-free of course!) so that I had a great excuse to make Mama’s Meatballs! I opened the package and could not believe how BIG these meatballs were!! I knew for sure that it would be more than enough to satisfy everyone for dinner, since we tend to have some pretty large appetites. There are a bunch of easy options on how to prepare these. Luckily, there is also a speed method. We were really busy that day and by the time I had a chance to start dinner, I just went the quick and easy way, using pre made sauce. Luckily, Second Helping thinks of everything! Just a few seconds per meatball in the microwave and they were nice and hot and ready to go. I, of course, like to pretend I am a big fancy chef, so I tossed them into the sauce before I served anyone 🙂 . I could not resist so after I took them out of the microwave, I took a taste of one, just plain. Oh my goodness! The texture ( even microwaved!) was amazing! They were meaty and juicy and packed full of flavor! I wanted to eat the whole thing, right then and there. A perfect blend of just the right spices.
After we sat down at the table, I watched and waited, I was so excited to get everyone’s thoughts. My husband was very surprised, and could not believe they had once been frozen! He remarked how fresh and great tasting they were, and I had to agree. My daughter Bee dug right in, as I figured she would and told me how much she liked the new meats. Then we came to my son Bear. I waited, pretty positive that I could not get lucky twice in the same day. Getting him to eat is always an adventure. Much to my surprise and delight, he tasted the meatballs and told me how yummy they were!! You can only imagine how happy I was that I had finally found a company that I know my whole family enjoys! Second Helping should get awards just for getting my son to eat!!
We all had such a great time with Second Helping and their products, I know they are going to become a staple in my house. I love that they are quick and easy, especially with how busy and fast paced my days seem to get. I love that everyone in my family enjoys them, since that is something that rarely, if ever, happens. I love that you can order their products and have them shipped to you, so there is no need to worry about whether or not your local stores carry them ( although some do!!). I love that I can have pride in these foods, that I know exactly what I am feeding my family. Most of all, I love, that for that day at least, we really felt like we were eating “like everyone else”. While I always tell my kids there is nothing wrong with being different, no one can argue against the fact that it IS nice to feel “normal” every once and awhile, and I am so thankful to find a company that allows me to do that.
I would love for you guys to check them out on Facebook and Twitter and give them your support!
**Disclaimer** Second Helping provided me with free products in exchange for my honest opinions of those products. I was not financially compensated in any way, nor were my opinions swayed or altered for any purpose. These opinions are all my own.
Awareness in the Food Service Industry
It was another one of those nights tonight…
You know, the whole, hey let’s try and go out and grab something for dinner. For those of you who can do this effortlessly, and without any kind of thought, I envy you…dearly. For us, it is a lovely game of first, finding somewhere safe, and then second, trying to find somewhere that my uber picky Bear will eat from.
After a long debate and thought process, we finally settled on somewhere. As usual, once we were there and getting ready to order, I went through our typical “we can NOT have anything with gluten, so I need to know what your ingredients are” speech. And this was met with the typical “Oh is this for an allergy” question. I begrudgingly say yes, not wanting to get into how it is NOT an allergy (that is another post for another day). But then, to my dismay, our server said they would have to go and ask someone else, and they would get back to us about what was safe. It took quite awhile, and finally someone else came out to talk to us, with a large book that they told me contained all the items they had and what was in each item. And I am NOT kidding when I say that this binder had to be 3 or 4 inches thick. At this point, we explained that we did not feel safe enough to continue our experience, thanked the establishment, left a small tip for our server ( I used to waitress, so I feel that it is only right to leave a little something for taking up some time at a table) and wound up back home eating leftovers.
But here is my point, I just feel like if you work in an establishment where food is served, you should be knowledgeable enough to explain to patrons what is or is not in your products. Not just for those with gluten issues or food allergies, but for anyone who asks. People are becoming more and more aware of what they put in their bodies, and typically most like to know what they are eating. I just find it amazing that in most cases the servers or counter staff typically have no clue what they serve. Even worse, as in our case, the management did not even know what was in the products they were serving. Um…what? While I understand that this may be a paycheck for you, this could be a life threatening mistake for someone else. I am not at all trying to downplay the need for us with food issues to do our homework…but it would be nice for places to start educating their staff on the make up of the their products. Also, maybe a bit of education on the plethora of food issues that people can have. It would be nice to walk into a restaurant and explain my situation and have it met with something more than a weird look. A bit of extra effort on the part of restaurants could do wonders for their customer service, and open up their businesses to a whole new market of people who may have previously been unaware that eating there was a safe place.
I was talking to a friend earlier today and we were discussing some nutrition information and swapping recipes. This is something we like to do regularly. Some background…She has diabetes, and is very careful about what she eats, when, and what combinations of foods she eats at a time. So far she has been lucky enough to manage her condition by diet and exercise, although doctors are still keeping a close eye on her. Today, she said something that really got me thinking. In our conversation, I was teasing her about how meticulous she was with her measurements when it came to food ( all good-natured of course). And her reply was, “Well I am a diabetic, what do you expect?”. I found it interesting that she, and many other people who have diabetes, identify themselves AS the condition, rather than a PERSON with the condition.
I then emailed a friend who has Celiac and asked her how she identifies herself. She also replied that she, and many of the members in her support group, identify themselves as “celiacs”. There is just so much about this labeling that bothers me. There are many other conditions that are life long that people deal with all the time, yet they do not identify themselves AS the condition, they just say they HAVE the condition. So what makes conditions like Celiac and diabetes so different. Why are people relating themselves AS the disease?
I would really love to see people step away from this. Yes, you may have a condition, and yes it may be something that you have to deal with for the rest of your life. But, your disease DOES NOT define YOU! You are the only person that can do that. I think that the more we encourage terminology change (ie… I am a person with Celiac disease, or I am a person with diabetes) the more people with these afflictions will be able to feel more “normal”.
After I did some thinking, I called my friend back this morning and asked her why she identified herself in such a way. She seemed surprised that I brought it up and was genuinely thankful for my observation. She did not even realize the way she was referring to herself and her condition. She agreed that it was much more empowering for her to be a person with diabetes, than a diabetic. So, I encourage all of you to listen to when friends are talking…and if they do identify themselves as a condition they have… ask them why. Many may be like my friend and not even realize that they do it.
I would love to hear feedback on this issue. Please weigh in on questions and comments. Let me know how you identify yourselves and why. Or let me know if you think I am completely off track. I would love to hear everything!
Gluten Free Candy
Over the past few days I have been working on some research and emailing companies to try and bring you the best list of gluten free candy that I can. This is is not, by any means, complete. What I mean by that is, it does not contain all of the candy out there that is gluten free. If it did, it would probably be as long as a book! I have not included any of the specialty candy brands that only work with gluten free candies, but rather chose to focus on what “normal” candies are safe. This is because, odds are, you and your children will come into contact with these mainstream candies way more often than those of a specialty nature. As always, please make sure to check the labels. While all of this information is current, that does not guarantee that the manufacturers will not change their recipes or manufacturing processes.
Tic Tacs are considered by the company to be gluten free. They said that none of their items contain any gluten containing ingrediants. For more information, you can reach the maker of Tic Tacs, Ferrero at 732-764-9300.
Jelly Belly jelly beans are considered by the company to be gluten free. ALL of their jelly beans, in ALL flavors are safe. However, sometimes Jelly Belly will package their items as a mixed set that may contain malted milk balls, or other candies that are not safe. Always make sure to check the packaging… as long as its JUST jelly beans, you are free and clear. You can contact Jelly Belly at 800-522-3267.
Wrigleys makes gum, mints and other candies. They also make Lifesavers, Creme Savers, Skittles and Starburst. Almost all of their items are considered to be gluten free. The company assured me that the only products that are NOT considered to be gluten free are: Altoids Smalls Peppermints, Altoids Chocolate Dipped Mints, Hubba Bubba Gummie Tape and Lucas and Swinkles Candy Strips. Contact Wrigley at (800) 974-4539.
Necco is another famous brand of candies that replied to me with a list of their gluten free options. They include : Necco Wafers and Chocolate Wafers, the Sweethearts Valentine Conversation Hearts, Mary Janes, and Peanut Butter Mary Janes, Sky Bar, Mint Julep Chews, Banana Split Chews, Candy House Candy Buttons, Haviland Thin Mints, Wintergreen Patty, Nonpareils and Chocolate Stars, and Canada Mint, Wintergreen and Spearmint Lozenges. You can contact Necco at 781-485-4800.
Nestles also makes are variety of candies, both under their name as well as Willy Wonka. The items that they have assured me are currently considered to be gluten free are: Laffy Taffy, Pixie Stix, Bit O Honey, Baby Ruth, Original Flavor Butterfinger (no seasonal flavors, or shapes), Goobers, Nips, O Henry, Nestles Milk Chocolate, Snowcaps, and Raisinets. For more information, you can contact Nestles at 800-225-2270.
Just Born makes the marshmallow peeps that we usually see on Easter, and they also make Mike and Ikes. The company said that any of their marshmallow products that are gluten free will be labelled gluten free. They began this process last October. While some of the products do say modified food starch, the company assured me it was corn, so it was safe. This list of Mike and Ike candies that are safe are the following flavor varieties: Hot Tamales, Zours, Tropical Typhoon, Jelly Beans, Berry Blast, Italian Ice, Original Fruits, Tangy Twister, Redrageous. You can contact Just Born at 888-645-3453.
Smarties says that most of their line is gluten free with the exception of the Smarties Gummies. While the Smarties Gummies have no gluten containing ingredients, they are processed on machinery that also processes gluten containing ingredients. However, something to be aware of with Smarties, is that the company often sells them to other companies to bag together with other items. In these cases, the other items that the products may be bagged with cannot always be considered safe. Note from the Smarties Company…. “Note: If the UPC number on the packaging begins with “0 11206”, you can be assured that it is manufactured in a facility that is gluten free and safe to eat if you have Celiac Disease.” If you need to contact Smarties, you can do so through their website.
Mars Chocolates sent me the following list of what was safe. Please note that some varieties of M&Ms are NOT safe and you are always going to want to check the packaging! Here is what is safe from Mars: all flavors of 3 musketeers and Snickers Bars, M&Ms EXCEPT for pretzel and SOME mint and coconut, Milky Way Midnight and Milky Way caramel bars, and ALL Dove chocolate products EXCEPT cinnamon graham and cookies and creme flavors. You can contact Mars at 800-627-7852.
Tootsie Roll who also makes Charms Products has ensured me that as of October of last year, ALL of their products are considered to be gluten free, with the only EXCEPTION being Andes Cookies. Great job Tootsie Roll! You can call Tootsie at 773-838-3400.
Hersheys Chocolate lists the following products on their website as gluten free. The list is: all Almond Joy and Mounds, Milk Chocolate Kisses, the caramel and cherry cordial filled chocolate kisses, Hersheys nuggets, Heath Bars, Skor and Skor Toffee bars, all York Peppermint Patties, all Reeses peanut butter cups EXCEPT holiday shapes. Hersheys chocolate bar and Hersheys chocolate bar with almonds are also considered to be gluten free, but ONLY certain sizes. The plain chocolate bar is gluten free in the 1.55 ounce size and the Hersheys with almonds is gluten free in the 1.45 ounce size. I think that this is strange and in our house we avoid those two bars altogether though. You can contact
Hersheys at 800-468-1714.
I hope this helps to put your mind at ease a bit when your kids want candy, or come home with candy from school or from friends houses. I recommend printing out this list, or one of your own if your children have other allergies, and giving it to friends, family, babysitters, or school teachers. Anyone who could possible give your child candy. This safe list allows for a little more freedom and normalcy for your child when they are not with you. If you have any questions, or if there is anything you think I may have missed, please feel free to let me know.