Thursday, September 29, 2016

Call Us Chicken Because We Are

In my search for healthier foods, one of the staples in our home has always been chicken. A few months ago, I was introduced to First Fresh Foods products. I sampled their chicken sausages (read it here) but then a new package arrived. This was something that NutriSon cannot eat (due to the egg) but definitely one of those wonderful "All for Mom" moments that I have learned to enjoy guilt-free. Hey, a mom's got to eat. Could you resist a package labeled Chicken Croquettes with Habanero? Gluten free, spicy, cheesy and literally just heat and eat- all the right words to make a food allergy mom swoon after cooking 98% of the time.

Cook It
Many of us would just heat these delicious morsels as is and that's completely acceptable. I mean look- the croquettes are crispy, golden brown and just the right size to eat one....or maybe two without feeling as if it was taking too many.

Prep It
Like I said, cooking is fine but here goes my blogger recipe brain again... while trying not to consume the rest of the croquettes that I have in front of me (I can't help it, I pick- don't you pick when it's good?!). So out comes my cutting board and out comes the potatoes that I bought a few days ago that didn't get used. I wanted a pick food and I wanted something comforting. I wanted to create a recipe that we could serve anytime of the year but still not be confined in the kitchen for hours upon hours. I wanted to make sure that whatever I made, it would still be just minimal steps while using healthy ingredients. Nothing says that you are a good friend better than when you feed your guests hardy foods that they can also make themselves at home.  I am talking about a food formula of multiple food groups that can be served as a side dish, a pick food, a football party recipe or even for a simple comfort food on the days when you just really need something good to eat. This is why I prepared the ultimate baked potato skins.


Make It
So unbelievably easy!

  1. Cut a precooked potato in half lengthwise
  2. Scoop out most of the potato, leaving a bit inside the shell
  3. Chop up cooked Chicken Croquettes with Habanero 
  4. Scoop the croquette pieces into the potato skin
  5. Place on a baking sheet on parchment paper 
  6. Bake at 400 degrees until warm
*Optional- add additional shredded cheese, cooked bacon, or anything else your taste buds desire

But That Leftover Potato
Waste nothing! Use the scooped out potato for homemade hash brown bites or kick it up a notch and mix in more of the chopped croquettes for an even more generous breakfast hash brown. Sorry, no pictures as I admittedly ate them all..... gluttony is a weakness when I have tasty food.

What would YOU do with this?











Monday, September 26, 2016

Oats Are Crummy... in An Awesome Way

I was born and raised in New Jersey and although I am blonde-haired and blue-eyed, I am Italian. My relatives grew up in Newark and some came from a small town outside of Rome. I remember the smell of my Grandmother's kitchen when she cooked and I remember that I was told from a very early age that you always cooked too much in case other people showed up (you would never want to be short on food!). Food has always been a large part of my life- when I was young, the new ways I had to look at my foods when my son was diagnosed with food allergies and now, how to utilize the products that are available. This includes people and companies who contact me, asking to try their products. With my family history and love of food and authentic cooking smells, I could not resist Josie's Coat of Oats

What Is It? This 8 oz. package is like a piece of my Italian Grandmother's kitchen in a bag. Josie's Coat of Oats is an oat-based breading that includes Bob's Red Mill Oats, a handful of spices and maybe even a little bit of Italian love. Spices include salt, dried chili peppers, dried garlic and dried onions. This product is certified by the Celiac Support Association and contains no MSG, gluten or dairy. So let's go through what I thought:

It Stands Up Give it a minute to sink in. I know this may sound completely irrelevant to some of you but it does make cooking easier in my kitchen. Most flour and/or mixes come in a plastic bag that (most of the time) refuses to stay upright, causing a bit if not more of your product to spill out all over the place. When I am in the midst of cooking, the last thing I have patience for is to stop and clean up a mess that I wasn't expecting. And wasting extra product because the package wouldn't cooperate? One of my personal pet peeves since food allergy shopping tends to put a maximum on your food shopping and budgeting. Josie's Coat of Oats is also resealable....is it me or can anyone else hear their Italian Grandmother pinching their cheeks, saying "Who takes care of you? I do!"

I Love The Smell Since the spices are already included, when you open the package you feel as if your childhood has been kept right inside. The coating is soft to the touch and not one ounce of anything that may make your recipes feel too dry or too rough. Cooking with gluten free recipes and products can sometimes end up with the roof of your mouth inflamed if you use the wrong products and nobody wants that.

Egg Free- No Problem! Most of my recipes are egg-free since that is one of NutriSon's major allergens. I am surprised at how many people feel that cooking without eggs is impossible, especially with Italian recipes. Because of this, I wanted to perform a cooking challenge with Josie's Coat of Oats to see if they would make the egg-free cut. To coat without using egg, simply cover your food item with a thin layer of oil (I use Winona Pure Oil) and then coat as usual. I also recommend giving your foods an additional spritz of oil before baking to keep the coating a little less dry and to help give it the crispy effect that we all know and love. When I used egg, the only difference was the coating was a bit fluffier. There was no taste difference. I also did not add any additional spices - I used the coating alone.






The Josie's Coat of Oats breading stays very well and although it's soft to the touch, this doesn't take away from the hearty look of the finished recipe. 

Not Just for Coating You know that I am also a stickler for using up as much food as possible. You will very often see me posting, saying "Waste nothing". I was making my usual Sunday breakfast and we had leftover potatoes. I decided to put Josie's Coat of Oats to the test and see how some homemade potato hash rounds would come out. Some oil, a few minutes of mixing in some of Josie's Coat of Oats and we had a tasty item which was quickly eaten up by my ever-hungry teenage son. These were also egg-free and dairy free.

I want to thank the lovely lady from Josie's Coat of Oats for reaching out to me and asking for my opinion. I also want to thank her for creating a product that is delicious, is low in fat and sodium but abundant in family love. Whether you are in Staten Island, NY where Josie's Coat of Oats is based, on their website or their Facebook page be sure and check them out. Nothing says love more than great home style cooking and Josie's Coat of Oats has that corner of the market taken <3


PS- Not Italian? No worries 
Give this product a try and share a comment below on what you made




As always, never any compensation except for the products themselves to review as all of my reviews are always honest.








Sunday, September 18, 2016

3 G's- GFAF Event, Greensboro & Good Times

Click here for a location near you~
Since 2014, I have attended a bunch of allergy-friendly events (need details? Click here) Why do I go? There are seriously a ton of reasons so let me share what happened this year in a new location that is even closer for the Triad, North Carolina area. There's a lot to tell but I will try to consolidate for those of you who aren't into the very long blog posts (I get it, trust me). For starters, if you see the above logo, you are headed toward a family-oriented day of samples, information, listen-in's and (honestly) a brand new extension to your food allergy family. Kind of like those distant relatives you never met before except all of these relatives are the good kind ;)

Samples
Miltons Baking, Sara's Kabob Shop, KALOVeggie Fries,
Neat, Enjoy Life Foods, HonkyTonk Smokehouse
In my opinion, one of the best things  about going to an allergy-friendly event are the samples and products that are clearly labeled for everyone's safety. Obviously, it's impossible to be 100% allergy-friendly as everyone's allergies are different. If you have never been to one of these events, go! If you are unsure about anything, ANYTHING then ask questions- that is what this event is all about. If you are concerned that someone in your family may not be safe attending then go alone and scope it out for the next scheduled event. These people are professionals and expect to have questions asked. With NutriSon having multiple food allergies of his own, this is one event he looks forward to attending because he can safely graze as a typical teenage boy does. If you still choose not to attend, no hard feelings- more for the rest of us. Luckily, there are vendors who literally provided walls and walls of samples...holy samples Milton's Baking Company! (click here to see exactly what I mean)

Anne's Heavenly Bites

Information 
Allergic Traveler, Beth Mincher, Infinity Holistic Health,
Enjoy Life Foods, Guilford County Beekeepers, Tito's, Aleia's
The Gluten and Allergen Free Wellness Event is more than just food- it's also about finding new products, sit-in presentations and information galore. This is why it's typically a five hour event; there is so much going on that you truly need the entire five hours to hear and see everything. Each vendor table will take as much time to speak with you about their products as you need. There is no feeling of being rushed off to get to the next person- these companies understand that their consumers are the most important aspect to their products (I do request that you do not take this as an invitation to torment the vendors at future events as badgering vs. asking takes away from those who are there to ask and listen rather). Can I give an extra special shout out to one vendor that caught my attention- Guilford County Beekeepers who sold Justin Case Bee Products. Don't get me wrong, all of the vendors were super nice and told me everything plus some about their products but this gentleman intrigued me with all of his knowledge about their products. He asked about our allergies, discussed which honey had which specific blends of pollen as per the season, told me I shouldn't fear bees (GASP! NEVER!!!) and they actually rescue bees from fallen trees. How cool is that?! 

Listen-Ins Gone Visual
I wanted to incorporate a few visual videos for those of you who prefer to skim articles (me, hand raised). NutriDaughter and I put together this recap video to give you an idea of what you missed if you were not able to attend*. 


Computer misbehaving? Click here to watch now

Did you catch all of that excitement?! It's just a small amount of everything that happened.

More Family Before the Event 
An additional perk for being a Gluten and Allergen Free Wellness blogger is the pre-event dinner. I can't speak for the other bloggers but it's an evening where you can get a delicious meal (yay, no cooking!) and you finally get to meet the other bloggers that are there too. Blogging is a surreal experience- you follow people from all over parts of the planet only to one day meet them in person. Again, not speaking for the other bloggers but even if it's the first time you meet, it's as if you have known each other forever. Sharing food allergy experiences over a meal, discussing how we each arrived at the place in time that we are at- this is my support group. This is my positive reinforcement and this is a place that is always surrounded by uplifting conversations and how we can continue to help other people. The wait staff was extremely knowledgeable about everyone's food requirements, they attended to our every need without batting an eye and they were extremely courteous. 

This year's blogger dinner was at Print Works Bistro- Greensboro, NC

Hey SunButter, I Didn't Forget About You
I was honored to have been sponsored for this year's Gluten and Allergen Free Wellness Event by the wonderful people at SunButter (who I also blog for... did I mention I blog A LOT). They provided NutriDaughter & I with their t-shirts and a ton of samples and coupons for the attendees of the event. Surprisingly, there are still people out there that have not heard about SunButter yet! Maybe I am biased but how could you not?! SunButter contains more nutrition than peanut butter and is is free of peanut/tree nut/gluten/soy/dairy and is Non GMO. And, of course, since the Gluten and Allergen Free Wellness Event brings out the silliness in us, NutriDaughter & I also made a video for SunButter- I give you SunButter Affection



Please be sure and check the Gluten and Allergen Free Wellness Event website to see where they will be next. Can't wait to see everyone again in 2017!





*In our excitement, NutriDaughter & I mistitled the video GFAF Expo. The correct title should have read GFAF Event. Very special thank you's to Jen Cafferty for allowing us to use it anyway and for understanding our need to share.





Wednesday, September 14, 2016

We Don't Need No Stinkin' St@rbucks

You may have noticed that your local coffee establishment offers seasonal beverages. And, most of you probably also noticed that they may not be items that you are able to purchase due to your food allergies or sensitivities. Plus, have you seen the price of just one of those "specialty" beverages?!! A quick Google search states a small beverage is $4.25...... add that up times however many times per week you might stop to purchase one and GASP!! Next thing you know, the holidays are here and you can't buy any gifts because you bought a bunch of those instead.


This can be fixed right now. Your budget can be made better right now. You can try one of these right now- but not at that coffee place, right in your own home. Within a matter of just minutes and steps into your kitchen, you can sip something tasty and wonderful for a fraction of the cost and without using extra gas. Plus- you know exactly what is going into it before you drink it. What am I talking about specifically? The seasonal Salted Caramel hot beverage.

Make Your Own Salted Caramel Pretzel Mocha 
(click above to download the recipe)

Brewed coffee of your choice with sugar added to taste
Whipped topping (I used So Delicious Coco Whip)  
Glutino Salted Caramel Pretzels, finely ground

Prep Time:  4 Minutes
  1. Add just a little more than half a cup of coffee to a mug
  2. Fill a frosting bag with whipped topping of your choice
  3. Squirt whipped topping onto the beverage in a circular motion
  4. Sprinkle with finely* ground Glutino Salted Caramel Pretzels
*I recommend finely ground to avoid getting mushy pretzel pieces stirred into your beverage

Serving sizes will vary

Let's Talk About the Savings
As I mentioned above, the average price of a small beverage of this kind when you purchase it us typically $4.25 each. When you use this recipe, you are paying what would be the approximate cost of three beverages for multiple servings. Confused? Here:

$5.00     Est. cost of store-bought coffee             
$4.39     Est. cost of So Delicious Coco Whip       
$3.99*   Est. cost of 1bag of Glutino Salted Caramel Pretzels
$13.38   Est. total cost of ingredients for multiple cups    

Approximate Cost when Purchased each time           $4.25
*Coupon Alert! See below for the link

See what I mean? Budget-friendly as well as allergy-friendly



How many of you are drooling right now?
How many of you have already checked your kitchen to see if you have all the ingredients?
How many of you already knew there is a $1 off Glutino coupon RIGHT HERE?!





Monday, September 12, 2016

Land Snax From the Sea

How many of you would love to eat products that are healthier? (me, hand raised) How many of you spend a ton of time researching, asking questions, reading articles and compiling what you should and should not eat? (me, hand raised) And how many of you, after all of that time and effort, usually wind up not doing anything differently? (me, sometimes) The only question left is- why do we do this to ourselves?

SeaSnax offers Sheets, Chompers, StixSprinkles & more!

Lack of Product Know How
Sometimes, our abilities are stunted when we find a product but just don't know what to do with it. This is often the case if we..well, are just not into the product's texture or taste for whatever reason. This is normal- we are all different, prefer different things but why waste something just for that reason? You know me- Queen of Re purpose and that includes allergy friendly products. My most recent challenge- SeaSnax!


First, I want to thank SeaSnax for sending me samples of their Sheets and Chomperz- they even come in different flavors! Not sure about all of you, but I think having barbecue seaweed snacks is a definite easy way to integrate your taste and snack needs with a healthier choice. So what was my challenge? Let's begin with their Sheets. I am a visual person, I (think) most of us are so let me show you what a SeaSnax Sheet looks like. I received some of their Original Sheets and Lime Sheets. Their Sheets are paper thin and very delicate- they cannot fold, bend or roll without breaking. And I do warn everyone not to leave an open bag anywhere that you don't want an oil ring. The product's oils may not be very friendly for some of your furniture. Your best bet is to either use up an open bag at once, keep the container inside the foil bag or place the open items into a different airtight container or bag.


So, Nutrimom, What Do I Do With These? Glad you all asked! As I mentioned, the Sheets are very flimsy so they break apart easily. The taste is not too strong but I wasn't an initial fan of the Sheets. For me, they were not quite filling enough for me to consider them a snack BUT this is where my brain kicks in and say "What can I use these for?" I refuse to waste any product. The seaweed taste reminded me of a typical favorite bagel dish so I revamped it into a dairy free version that also utilizes the health benefits that the SeaSnax Sheets offers.

Bagel & No Lox
Similar to a bagel and lox with cream cheese but Vegan friendly and dairy free!

1 Package SeaSnax Sheets (I recommend Classic for this option)
1 Container Dairy Free Cream Cheese of your choice (I used GoVeggie Chive & Garlic)

Prep Time:   2 Minutes
Make Time:  3 Minutes



  1. Open a package of SeaSnax Sheets
  2. Remove a sheet and crumble it
  3. Open a container of dairy free cream cheese
  4. Beginning with one sheet, stir in crumbled SeaSnax Sheet
  5. Add more SeaSnax Sheets depending on desired flavor
  6. Refrigerate in an airtight container
  7. You may also use this as a dipping sauce
Serving sizes will vary

But I Like Crunch! Then I really think the SeaSnax Chomperz are a must for you to try. They have a unique look to them- almost like alien pods that have landed or a seeing eye that will read all of your thoughts. But I have to tell you, these crunchy little guys are really good!! Just like the Sheets, the SeaSnax Chomperz also contain healthy seaweed but it's surrounded by crunchy goodness for your most intense snack attack. Fun fact: seaweed is chock full of multiple minerals so one serving of seaweed would include calcium, copper, iodine, iron, magnesium, potassium, selenium, sodium and zinc. Not too shabby for something that also tastes good. My suggestion- you can definitely eat these plain by the handful. OR, you can incorporate them into a new version of snacks mix. Just add your favorite flavor of Chomperz, bits of your other favorite pretzels, cereal, bread chips, etc. - voila! Another favorite snack item that has included the healthy benefits of seaweed. With football season, fall get togethers and back to school snacking in full force, SeaSnax Mix may just be the easiest, sneakiest snack yet. And, may I recommend dipping them in the recipe above? ;) Chomperz taste very little like seaweed but they do taste like similar crunchy products (to me, like Munchos or Bugles) but just a bit different. Sorry SeaSnax- not trying to steal your product's thunder- just trying to explain for those who need a similar taste to go by.


Research the Facts As always, I recommend everyone read the labels, check the product ingredients and make sure they are a safe product for your specific allergy needs. The SeaSnax Sheets contain seaweed and a have different varieties which also contain different spices (such as Wasabi, mustard, chipotle and onion) while the Chomperz contain other ingredients such as coconut. You can view a complete list of SeaSnax ingredients at http://www.seasnax.com.

Additional Positive Tidbits SeaSnax products are Non-GMO certified and they are proudly parter, sponsor or support a bunch of wonderful organization because they are a company that believes in giving back (that's additional points in my book). All of this information can be seen here.

Have YOU tried SeaSnax?
Share your thoughts below and share this blog with others so they can munch healthy too!


As always, never any compensation except for the products themselves to review as all of my reviews are always honest.














Thursday, September 1, 2016

Same Great Event, New Address!

I have shared many times that I am a major Event Geek. No shame in this at all- I love blogging, I love meeting people, trying new products and bringing home samples for future giveaways (well, some for me too) so what's not to love? Could life possibly get any better? It can when one of these events is practically right at your doorstep.

Greensboro, Baby! This year, the Gluten and Allergen Free Wellness Event has added a new location in Greensboro, NC. Although they offer several other locations, this Greensboro location is almost so close that I can see it from here (well, maybe not but you get me). Think about it my local Triad peeps- Charlotte is nice, Raleigh is nice too but nothing beats an awesome family-oriented event that is extra close to your own home. With 38 vendors, speakers to listen to and goodies to be sampled can there be a better way to spend your Saturday? Well, actually there can be.... what if I told you I was going to be there with NutriDaughter? AND what if I told you that I am having a giveaway to give out 6 free Gluten and Allergen Free Wellness Event tickets?! AAANNND what if I told you that the lovely people at SunButter gave us samples and coupons to give out at the event AND a bag full of SunButter goodies for one lucky winner?! Are you excited now???  (For those of you who may not be excited, I am assuming it is because you have never been to one of the Gluten and Allergen Free Wellness Events in the past. That's ok- there is a first for everything and if you need to know more, click here to read all about what I have enjoyed most at previous events.)

Address For My GPS Please! Here is what you need to get there:
Saturday September 10th 2016
10 AM - 3 PM
Clarion Hotel Airport (soon to be Wyndham Hotel)
Enter to Win 6 Of  These!
415 South Swing Road
Greensboro, NC 27409
(map)

*Admission includes a free tote bag for samples and purchases, free cooking demonstrations, free product sampling and free multiple lectures from members of the gluten-free and allergen-free community. Get there early because the lines get long really quickly!

Give Me My Giveaway! We are going to take entries via Rafflecopter- simply proceed and follow as directed

 a Rafflecopter giveaway


* 1 Winner will be chosen at random via Rafflecopter. The winner MUST be available to attend the event on Saturday, September 10th (tickets are not transferable at any other event locations) to pick up their tickets at will call as well as the SunButter prize bag. Prize bag can be obtained by finding Nutrimom & NutriDaughter who will hold it for safe keeping. If the winner does not confirm contact within 48 hours a runner up winner will then be chosen.

SunButter Prize will include 1 SunButter Cinch Sack filled with: SunButter Coupons, SunButter On the Go Single Cups Canister, Chip Clips, Sunflower pen and other cool SunButter items.

Extra thanks to SunButter for sponsoring NutriDaughter and I for this event- I can't think of a better way to share this amazing event with everyone!


Congratulations to 
TRICIA CRANE
YOU are the winner!

IF You Don't Win  You can get your tickets at the event or order them online here. Event cost is $10 per person and children under 13 attend for free. You can also contact the coordinator to see how you can volunteer! This is a great way to get to the event and they appreciate the extra helping hands.

Vendors Include:  Allergic Traveler, Anne's Old Fashioned Food Products, Arbonne, Ardenne Farm, Atlantic Natural Foods, Beth Mincher, Bull City Ciderworks, Cabot Creamery Cooperative, Enjoy Life Foods, Estrella Damm, FFarms, Garden Lites, Glutino, Greensboro Gluten Free Support Group, Guilford County Beekeepers, Health 1st of the Triad, HonkyTonk Smokehouse, Infinity Holistic Health, Juice Plus, KALO Foods, Milton's Craft Bakers, Mina's Purely Divine, Mrs. Pound Cakes, Namaste Foods, Norwex, Passanante Foods, Purely Elizabeth, Sarah's Kabob Shop, Simply Gluten Free Magazine, Summerfield Farms, Sunset Slush of High Point, Thrive, The Gluten & Grain Free Gourmet, Tito's Vodka, Udi's Gluten Free, Veggie Fries and doTerra.



#sponsored



Monday, August 29, 2016

EYE Know You Wanna Win This!

Gluten free means checking EVERYTHING- foods, non-foods and even products that are applied to your body. Why? Because your skin absorbs everything so gluten can even sneak in through that quietly. But there is also the dilemma of finding gluten free products and, let's be honest, actually liking them as well. If you find a product that just doesn't suit your lifestyle, there is no way you will continue to use it. Personally, I look for products that multitask- items that I know are safer and healthier for me but also something that will actually keep whatever I am applying it too just as healthy as the rest of me.

The Eyes Have It Last year, I was asked to try some Red Apple Lipstick gluten free mascara and some other items. Due to some of my health issues, my hair (including my eyelashes) were not looking as pretty as they should be. As you can see, my eyelashes actually got healthier (If you are new to my blog, click here and read all about it)! My lashes began to grow, they were fuller and softer than they had been in a long time....who knew I would critique my own eyelashes?! I even conducted my very own Red Apple Lipstick detective work to prove that their products are superior! Intrigued? Click here to see what I found out for you. And no more of those goopy, gloppy cemented on mascaras- I was hooked! And when Nutrimom gets hooked on a product, she shares. I mean, I could keep it all to myself but you know I could never do that to all of you. So here it's what's going on RIGHT NOW!


  • Red Apple Lipstick "Lash is Back"- If you go here, you will probably get just as excited as I got the last time I was there too. You will notice that Red Apple Lipstick has brought back their mascara with an even better formula. It's easy to remove with coconut oil (which is a win-win since I happen to use my favorite Winona Pure Coconut Oil) but imagine having healthy lashes without scrubbing them off and causing possible damage to them. 
  • They are celebrating by offering free products with the purchase of other items. Whether you are a mascara shopper or an eye shadow shopper, it's pretty much a no brainer that these just have to be tried before the sale ends.
  • And, I have a giveaway because I want all of you to have a chance to try these Red Apple Lipstick products out for yourself! All I ask is that you enter and share (because as I have just reminded you, sharing is nice). One person will get a $50 Red Apple Lipstick product gift card to use.
Win Me!


Ready to Enter To Win?!

                              a Rafflecopter giveaway


No purchase necessary for the contest. One winner will be chosen at random via Rafflecopter. The winner will be contacted and will have 48 hours to claim their prize. Should nobody claim it within that time frame an alternate winner will be chosen. Winning entry will be in contact with Red Apple Lipstick directly to receive their $50 gift certificate.