Lizzie’s Wordless Wednesday
Well, I know that its a bit late, but first I would love to extend my Happy Mother’s Day wishes to all out there. Whether you have had kids of your own, adopted, having issues with fertility, helping raise other kids, have kids that have their angel wings, or are a Dad doing it on your own ( yes you count as mama too!!) you are doing a wonderful job!! Don’t ever take yourself for granted, and I sincerely hope that you were able to enjoy some special “just for you” time yesterday.
We had a great, but busy day. I woke up to handmade cards from my littles, who were very proud of writing their names, this time without Daddy’s help. They also told him they wanted me to have flowers! They also know how much I love my coffee. They could not be happier when they lead me into the kitchen to see my vase of beautiful flowers and a great big iced coffee right in front. Who would have thought a 3 and 4 year old could be so perceptive? Every little thing they do just makes my love grow even more.
When then got a chance to go out by my mom’s. Again, my littles had a great time. They got to see everyone and play with their little cousin and the dogs my mom has, which the kids lovingly refer to as “puppies”. We then got to come back home for a bit, and everyone got to nap before we headed over to my mom in laws for a quick bbq.
All in all it was a great day, and I loved being able to spend some much needed time with all of our family.
Hope that you guys got a chance to make your weekend special. And remember, every day that you get to spend with those you love is a special occasion!!!!
Lizzie’s Gluten Free Cinco de Mayo
Annie’s post inspired me to follow up with our own version of a Cinco due Mayo menu. Gluten free of course!
For breakfast try cinnamon sugar corn tortillas…which are a huge favorite of the kids. What we do is take melted butter and mix in equal amounts of cinnamon and sugar. The amounts vary and are really just based your taste preferences. I also add a few drops of vanilla. Brush each tortilla generously while flat on a grill top and roll up to serve. Beat up a bit of heavy whipping cream sprinkled with cinnamon for dipping.
For lunch try some of our awesome nachos! We love making a nacho bar. I grab some safe corn tortilla chips and put them in a large bowl. I then put out bowls of tomatoes, onions, avacados, various cheeses, lettuce, sour cream, olives, and cilantro. I make up some black beans seasoned with salt, pepper, cumin and cilantro. I’ll also grill up some chicken with onions and squeeze lime over the top. Toss out some hot sauce and hot peppers for the adults and everyone is happy and can personalize their plate.
For dinner try out our favorite and easy pick for enchiladas. Find it here. This was a winner from day one and I have found even the pickiest eaters love it!
And of course we all need a nice beverage to go with dinner. And here is where some awesome pomegranate mango margaritas come in. Start with this recipe. Then add in some fresh unsweetened pomegranate juice. Its super easy to find in just about any store. Amount will vary based on taste preferences. Experiment!! But always start with a little, you can always add more!
Hope everyone has a great day!
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.
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.
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.
What Do People With Food Allergies Need Most??
What do people with food allergies need most? An Epipen! OK, seriously, what do they really need? They need us and our support and understanding! They need positive people who help them on this crazy journey. They did not pick this, food allergies picked them! They didn’t ask to be deathly allergic to food. They didn’t ask to have to carry an Epipen with them wherever they go. They just want to feel normal and accepted.
The people who are around us the most, such as coworkers, friends, families, and teachers make the most impact on allergic people. If you work with, go to school with, teach, or have a food allergic family member show them you care.
Here are some simple, little things you can do to help make them feel “normal” and included.
- Try not to talk negatively about food allergies or how much of a pain they are. Believe me… they already know
- Don’t say things like, “oh poor thing” or “It must be awful not to be able to eat ______, I couldn’t live without being able to have _______!” Yes, it sucks! No one wants to have to abide by special diet. Anyone who has ever tried any type of dieting knows that!
- Put forth a little effort. A little bit of effort goes a long way! Go out of your way to read labels and purchase or make something that is safe for them to eat.
- Understand the allergy is REAL. Just because you can’t see it does not mean it’s not VERY real and VERY deadly.
- If you are ever unsure of a food or ingredient, always ask. A food allergic person will never make you feel stupid for asking, in fact they will really appreciate you trying!
- Go out of your way to purchase a special snack or food that is safe. Allergic children will especially appreciate this
- Go over any foods that you plan on making with the allergic person or their parent to see if they are safe. It is extremely awkward to turn down something that was specially prepared if not 100% sure it’s safe.
- Last, always keep in mind that an allergic person or their parent is not trying to be difficult. They only have their best interest and health in mind.
If people are not supportive of your food restrictions, then maybe they are not worth being around. Unfortunately, my grandmother is like that. She claims she doesn’t “understand” my daughter’s life threatening peanut allergy. She will give her a bag of candy that includes Snickers and Reese’s. For Valentine’s Day she gave her a heart of candy she could not have, and that was clearly marked “contains peanuts”. If we go there for dinner, she will tell me that she doesn’t know if anything is safe for my daughter to eat. Can I bring safe foods with us? Sure. However, I feel that her carelessness and blatant disregard for her food allergy, shows that she is not willing to put forth any effort for her great-granddaughter. Therefore, I have stopped putting forth effort to see her. Is that the right attitude to have? Maybe not, but every family needs to decide how to handle their own situation. If you know someone like my grandmother, be sure to discuss the problem in private. Don’t let your allergic child see or hear anything negative related to their food allergy. You don’t want the child to feel they or their allergy is the cause of the problem.
Finally, no matter what, don’t let people bring you down. Always do what is right for you! Keeping yourself safe and healthy is more important than keeping others happy.
**Allergy Warrior Annie**
Happy? Gluten free Easter?
If your house is anything like mine the Littles are bouncing off the walls waiting for the bunny. Which leaves me close to pulling my hair out about which candies the bunny can leave them. After a bunch of research and emails to candy companies…the kind of things that happen in my house before every holiday….I have answers!!!
So save yourself the time and headache and consult my handy dandy list of verified safe candies. Please always double check labels!!! Just because it’s on this list, we never know when those silly candy makers may change a formula!
The winners are:
Easter themed dove chocolate products…bunnies, eggs, bars, etc. check your labels…some DO say made on equipment that processes wheat
Jelly belly jelly beans and all specialty packed Easter themed items from jelly belly
Easter color foil wrapped Hershey milk chocolate kisses
Easter themed starburst and strangest jelly beans
Easter packaged m&ms EXCEPT the pretzel variety
Kraft egg mallows and bunny mallows
Easter themed tootsie candy including tootsie pops blow pops and double bubble.
The biggest controversy and debate over an Easter candy is the famous cabury creme eggs that are produced by Hershey. There are those who consider then too be gluten free and can incorporate them into their diets without any ill side effects. The company, however, does not consider them to be gluten free because of the risk of gluten cross contamination during the manufacturing process. For this reason, they remain a treat that we keep out of our home. While they were a childhood favorite of mine…the health of my children isn’t worth the risk to me. (although I would be lying if I said I didn’t sneak the occasional one at the gas station). However this is a very individual choice that will depend on how high the level of gluten sensitivity is in your home. I know many people that can tolerate them just fine. It is a fact that they do not contain any gluten ingredients. As always, no matter what you decide I want to make sure I keep you informed. Hope this helps you to have a wonderful holiday!