Monday, July 18, 2016

Is Gluten Free Lipcare REALLY Worth It?

Drama by Red Apple Lipstick
Gluten can hide in anything- food, soaps, even our cosmetics. Although some of us may not be effected as much as others when it comes to gluten products, is there another reason to avoid it anyway? Does avoiding gluten in every single item truly make a difference? Sometimes, it's also about what you are introducing to your body rather than what type of foods you are avoiding. Sometimes, it's about what can actually be worse for you all around.

Kiss Your Lipstick Goodbye
Or, try to. I know for women, cosmetics are a very specific thing. You need the right colors, you may be picky about which brand you use or even how much you spend on them. I do admit that I am a dollar store junkie- I am that person pulling items off the shelves and out of the bins to get all of whatever I have found. Why not? The same brand of lipstick that I find in the dollar store for $1 is what I also see at other stores for $10+. It's simple budgeting. But what happens when you realize that your favorite lipstick is just not letting go? I give you Exhibit A:

(did everyone hear the music intro in their head? Dun Dun DUUUN) THIS is what I was finding on my glasses AFTER I ran them through the dishwasher with my other brand of lipstick. I mean, how gross! What's worse is that I wondered how many times I gave a guest one of my glasses to use without noticing these awful lipstick leftovers, ugh! So not the type of leftovers one would expect at Nutrimom's house.

Nutrimom Turns Into a Detective 
Who knew I, Nutrimom, would some day gain private detective experience?! With evidence staring me in the face, I felt I had too. I was definitely curious to find out if the products by Red Apple Lipstick would hold up to the leftover lips test. I was met with some caution that overall, it is difficult to remove ingredients such as waxes and parabens that are found in most lip products and that although Red Apple Lipstick is a better product on many other levels, this may not turn out as successfully as I was thinking. Did this stop me? Heck no! When people tell Nutrimom it may not be possible, that is an immediate "Let's do this!" for me. So I gathered all of the necessary items and got to work.

Even A Detective Should Look Good 
Not only did I get to go undercover for the week but I was also excited to try out new shades of Red Apple Lipstick - Drama lipstick and Cabernet Kiss lipgloss. The shade of lipstick was perfect but this was the very first time I was applying the Mint To Be lipgloss. I have to say, I fell in love with both of them but the lipgloss- oh my! I LOVE it! It's got a slightly minty smell to it (thus, the name) but it also made my lips look shimmery for my summer days- almost as if I had been kissed by the sun in a lovely shade of deep red. Another thing I learned while being undercover (since, you know, undercover means wearing sunglasses) if you want an easy but cheery look for the pool without spending a ton of time on makeup just apply Red Apple Mint To Be Lipgloss, put your sunglasses on and you are done. Not only will you look fabulous, your lips will be protected by Vitamin D too. As for your other glasses, check out the minimal traces from my before picture. You can barely see it on the glass while you are sipping away. I was already off to a good start.

The Secret is Out
My expert opinion for the case of the everlasting lip stain? My Red Apple lipstick and lipgloss were hands down almost non-existent after being run through the dishwasher. I have proof! Take a moment to scroll up and glance at what was hanging out from my old lipstick. Now, take a peek at my after photos when I used my Red Apple lipstick and lipgloss:

Red Apple Lipstick is barely there, as lipstick should be

No explanation needed

I can honestly say that ingredients in lip products does matter! What bothered me the most is the fact that I was using a lip product that was so full of unhealthy ingredients that even a dishwasher could not remove them with boiling water. Your skin filters in everything so all of the gunk on my glass was also becoming gunk inside of my body. Are you still unsure yourself? That's ok, I understand trying new products can be scary. We all have our own routines that make us comfortable. But I have an awesome, easy chance for you to try out that Red Apple Lipstick products without costing you a dime. YOU could win a $50 gift certificate just by entering this contest. You have nothing to lose (except that current questionable product you are using).

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Contest Details: Contest will begin Tuesday July 19, 2016 and end Wednesday July 20, 2016 at midnight. 1 winner will be chosen randomly via Rafflecopter entries. Winner shall receive one $50 Red Apple Lipstick gift certificate to use as they please. No purchase necessary. If the original winner does not claim their prize within 48 hours, a runner up winner shall be chosen. None of your entry information shall be shared as that is most unprofessional and definitely not what I am about. Prize contributed by the wonderful peeps at Red Apple Lipstick.

Why Use Red Apple Lipstick Products? They are free of gluten, paraben, petroleum, animal bits, corn, harsh chemical and GMO's ~

You Are My Winner

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Gluten Free Christmas in July

Need it? Order Here
When you are a food allergy mom, you cook and bake. A lot. All of the time. It doesn't matter if it's 98 degrees outside and the rest of the earth is being engulfed in humidity, you turn your oven on and proceed. People who don't have food allergies probably think we are insane. You are baking now?! Yup. The plus side is that no matter what time of year it is, our families get home cooked meals and treats when so many other don't. So for that alone, I'll take having a son with food allergies any day.

I got a holiday gift from my friend Tiffany Hinton (also known as GF Mom Certified) in December - her newest book Santa's Gluten Free Cookie Plate. After reviewing one of her other books (here) I was excited to see what kinds of recipes would be in this book as well. And although I got in so many months back, I thought it would be fun to bring a little holiday spirit back into our house during a time of year when it's least expected. After all, cookies have no specific time of year- they are always enjoyed. Besides, imagine the other kids as they watch us pulling out festive, colorful cookies while all they have are whatever their parents bought and pulled out of a package. 

Tiffany's book is a collection of typical holiday cookies as well as some that are not specifically holiday-oriented but are still those that would warm any kitchen. Her recipes have simple steps and easy ingredients which is always helpful for anyone who is newly diagnosed with food allergies or even those who have been on the food allergy trail a long time and don't want to cook anymore than they have too. She includes recipes for Royal Icing, Buttercream Frosting and Chocolate Dip for those who have been searching for an allergy-friendly version of their long-lost cookie toppings. Also included are resources for the main cookie ingredients used throughout her book for gluten free flour, egg replacer, chocolate chips, dairy replacement, gluten free oatmeal and peanut butter. Just a reader note: Tiffany mentions "favo water" for one of the egg replacers. Favo water is another term for what is typically know as aquafaba, the use of bean liquid to mimic eggs in recipes.

Once you have baked, you want to share, right? Don't miss the link near the end of the book. If you register at you can get free Santa's Cookie Plate downloads for holiday bag toppers & tags, gluten free gift tags, jar toppers, gluten free stickers and more.

As always, warm thanks from our family to Tiffany's family for thinking of us and sending this bundle of love.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

You Can Do What With PhillySwirl?!

It's Summer, I live in North Carolina where we never have a Spring- we go from grey and dreary to HELLO, IT'S HOT! Everyone knows two things about summer: you need to stay hydrated and popsicles almost always make their way into the picture somehow. Who can resist the colors, the flavors, the melty, slushy treats that leave our lips and tongues all sorts of fun colors. How do you top that? By trying out new flavors. But not just any flavors- PhillySwirl flavors.

My summer began as any other day- at the food store. Big surprise, right? NutriDaughter was the one who asked for popsicles and when we looked, there were new PhillySwirl flavors. Did we buy them? No- only because we had some goodies in the freezer that we needed to finish up first. I think it was a sign because days after, I received a request to try out the very same items (OR, perhaps I, Nutrimom, have secret telepathic powers that allow me to channel specific product reviews to arrive in my inbox). I will never tell. Mostly because my mouth is full of popsicles.

Last year, I was asked to review some PhillySwirl popsicles (no arm twisting here since they are free of the top 8 allergens and you can find them almost everywhere which is a plus for a food allergy mom). In last year's post (here), I sent out a plea on behalf of all consumers (allergic or not) who love PhillySwirl products but still had the guilt of some of the artificial colors and ingredients that are included in their allergy-friendly treats. I am happy to share that they heard the request and they now offer two organic options that do not contain corn syrup, artificial colors or artificial flavors. The Jungle Swirls flavors come in four flavor combinations:

Tropical Twirl (Swirl, twirl, I get it!)  Mango Pineapple
Leaping Lime Cherry Lime
Flutter Berry Blueberry & Lemon
Babble Berry Strawberry Pomegranate

Our package included the Organic Jungle Swirls but they also offer  Organic Sorbet Stix.

I don't know about anyone else but summer also makes me think of people sitting on a porch, drinking lemonade. We were on our front porch happily enjoying ours, just in a different form. Our taste buds met six flavors of the Lemonade Swirls popsicles and what a great way to spend a lazy, hot summer day. With lemonade flavors like Strawberry, Blueberry, Watermelon, Pomegranate, Classic and Lime it's as if PhillySwirl revamped our relatives old fashioned drinks into a portable, delicious past time. AND, the Lemonade Swirls do not contain corn syrup or artificial flavors (not organic and they do contain artificial colors but I feel confident that we can persuade PhillySwirl to work on that as well). Who says you need to have lemonade in a glass and who says lemonade should only be made of lemons? I scoff at those who are limiting their treat opportunities.

More thoughts of my childhood remind me of trips to 7-Eleven (yup, they have those in New Jersey). The chain of convenience stores that have all sorts of junk food but mainly, that giant ICEE drink. Tell me you haven't seen these things? You can't miss them! As soon as you walk in, there is an over-sized, twirling cup to ensure that every child will see it and then follow their parents around the store pleading to get one. PhillySwirl has taken that pain away and now offer their ICEE MixItUp popsicles. No whining, no having to deal with the begging and pleading as you walk through the
aisles of the store- just your own personal ability to get a brain freeze in your own home. I'm pretty sure that our ICEE drinks didn't come in flavors like Red & White Cherry, Green Apple & Watermelon, Blue Raspberry & White Cherry or Strawberry & Kiwi. In fact, I'm pretty sure our choices just consisted of "I''ll have red".

The Dark Side of Popsicles
Speaking of popsicles and drinks, I want to discuss a far more important factor of popsicles. It's something that happens to all of us at one time or another..... I'm talking about that horrific moment when your popsicle melts. Most of us are sad, some of of us may dry our eyes, pull up our big boy pants and slurp the wonderful juices right out of the plastic. But what if there was a way to make it even better? What if there was a way to have an easy, two ingredient (dare I even say) fancy form of your popsicle that is yet again, another childhood favorite? I am talking about a Popsicle Float people- it's a real thing and it is delicious!!! Simply take your slushy popsicle and add your favorite frozen ice cream (ours was So Delicious) and bam! Having an evening soiree and need something different? Serve the float in a crystal glass and you are done.

Want to make the float but don't have any melted popsicles? I got you covered! Remove the popsicles from their plastic and place them in a tall glass. Allow them to stay at room temperature for approximately 35 minutes (yes, I actually timed it). The rest is the same as above. I feel it is important to also tell you that 3 popsicles were enough for two 6 ounce glasses so plan accordingly. Nothing is worse than not having enough of whatever item you are planning on sharing- how awkward is that? OK, we have popsicle floats for everyone! Oh...wait, well, almost everyone. Sorry Tommy, you'll have to wait another 35 minutes until I can get you one. Don't be that host.

Sending out slightly frozen kisses to PhillySwirl for sending this awesome package for my family to try out. I am also additionally grateful for their efforts to understand what their consumers need and for their newest products. From our family to yours, thank you ~

Intrigued? Check out PhillySwirl at as well as Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram.

As always, I never receive compensation for product reviews except for the products themselves as my opinions are my own and are always honest.

Monday, July 11, 2016

New Food, Did I Chicken Out?

Our family is very much protein-based. Numerous studies have proven that protein is highly recommended for optimal brain function, especially in children as they are still developing. I have also seen so many people who are afraid of any type of fat because they are afraid of gaining weight. Although I understand that, I also know that the use of healthy fats in meals will help maintain your metabolism, increase energy and those lead to a better ability to control other aspects of your body. The key is to find the good fats- the healthier foods that are not full of higher amounts of what actually does your boy harm. So how does a blogger with a protein pushing family do this? The opportunity was actually presented right to us.

"It Tastes Just Like Chicken" only, it doesn't! I have been on a hunt to fulfill our sausage fix but I am also very picky about my foods. I want food that tastes good, period. I don't want food that sort of tastes like food or that looks like it but definitely doesn't taste like it- I want what I want. I was asked if I would like to try out First Fresh Chicken Sausage and yes, I did have that skeptical thought in the back of my head Another chicken sausage that will taste like chicken. They look innocent enough, right? They look just like breakfast sausage only very pale. I do admit, in the pan they made me cringe a bit. I can't help it- I've tried a lot of foods and can you blame me?! They start out one way and look just like your typical sausage. And you know what? They actually taste like sausage! NOT chicken, NOT something like sausage but actual breakfast sausage! This is exciting to me- food excites me!! I the only one here? I even tried the mix in challenge and First Fresh passed with flying colors (the mix in challenge is when you try a food alone and it's good but then sometimes you can taste the difference when you add it into one of your favorite meals). My only tiny pet peeve- First Fresh Breakfast Sausage contains 9 sausage links whereas other brands typically contain 12. I know, it's a minor thing but when you budget and you have hungry kids, you need more.

Italian Sausage the Italian Way What better way to try out the Mild Italian Sausage than to serve it
up as sausage parmigiana?  NutriSon can have cooked cheese so this is one of his favorite things! But first, I had to prepare the meal and not tell anyone it was chicken sausage. Why? Because if my kids don't know, they will eat it. If they do know, I will be met with frowny faces and attitudes even if it tastes absolutely delicious. A parent must do what a parent must do. I was happy when I bit into my sausage and it tasted just like Italian sausage. I was not met with resistance or frowny faces, I was not met with attitude or comments under breath. Instead, I watched as my family eat their dinner and asked for more. I was even astounded when the kids told me they would eat First Fresh sausage again after I told them it was chicken....could this be the same family? Could this be a brand new food that all of my family would enjoy?! I think yes. I don't know about the other parents out there that cook but this is amazing to me! Admit it- there are many, many families out there that have picky eaters and will spend the time to prepare different foods for each meal just so everyone eats properly. One meal means less time at the food store and in the kitchen. I'm happy.

Some Like It Hot My last package of First Fresh to try... so sad, as they don't carry this brand at my local stores (YET! I will work on that!). Growing up in New Jersey, hot Italian sausage was like a food group, especially during the summer. Italian sausage sandwiches, on the grill, in sauce (or, gravy, depending on which part of Jersey), sausage and get me. I picked up my very pale chicken Hot Italian sausage and STILL, in my stubborn brain were the words It looks's not going to taste as good.....white chunks, I'm eating white chunks. WRONG! Three for three- well played First Fresh. I don't praise products that don't taste good and for a Jersey chick to tell you your Hot Italian Sausage is awesome, you have definitely won the food game.
Numbers Don't Lie Enough about me and my eating, let's just look at the actual numbers. I talked about utilizing the leaner, healthier fats in your meals so let's see what I noticed when I looked at labels:

                 First Fresh        Other Brand
Breakfast Sausage
Calories:         70                      170
Total Fat:        4 grams             13 grams
Saturated Fat: 1 gram               4.5 grams
Cholesterol:    30 mg                40 mg
Sodium:          190 mg              490 mg

Italian Sausage
Calories:          120                    260
Total Fat:         5 grams              21 grams
Saturated Fat:  1.5 grams           8 grams
Cholesterol:     60 mg                 60 mg
Sodium:           390 mg               570 mg

**PLUS First Fresh have no MSG, added hormones, preservatives, nitrates or fillers (see all here)

Of course, I also had questions since my son has multiple food allergies. I read labels, I noticed they have some other items that they offer so I inquired to see if they produce any other products that contain peanuts, nuts, eggs or shellfish. The answer- no (another win!).

I want thank First Fresh for sending out such a generous amount of sausage to review- it was a very pleasant experience and I will always be more than happy to try them again. For more information on the full line of their products, visit them at or follow them on Facebook, TwitterPinterest and Yummly.  As always, I never receive compensation for product reviews except for the products themselves as my opinions are my own and are always honest.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Go Forth and Eat Freely

Holidays and any food-related outings causes immediate stress and anxiety for many families with food allergies. For me, there is always the added worry of feeling a little more laid back when we are socializing which (may) lead to a possible allergy trigger. It happens to all of us at one time of another- we are happy, we are relaxed and sometimes we just do something and we don't even realize it until it's too late. How do we prevent even these tiny little mishaps? Don't fight the food war, join it.

Our local community pool was having a July 4th cookout as they always do. And I do have to say that in past years, they have always been superb about asking if my son needed his burger cooked separately, letting him get whatever food items are safe first (because, you know, people tend to put their hands into every single bag which = hello I will possibly eat every single food that person has just touched) and I am beyond appreciative of this. Food allergy mothers can actually feel their heart relax when they find groups that are aware of what needs to be done for your child's safety. This year, I wanted to give back in some way. I wanted to share some of our favorite foods to show them that allergy-friendly foods are no different than other foods (well, they may just be better!). I reached out to a few of my favorite companies and shortly after, I was collecting some of my healthiest oils, chips, spreads and snacks. Warning: this often causes NutriHubby to eye up the foods while they are waiting to be used. I watch them like a hawk and I admittedly give him the stink eye if he even as much as grabs a product.

Cook Healthy, Eat Healthy
I know, I know- it's a holiday. We all cheat (a little) but one of the things that I pride myself on is sharing products that make us feel like we are indulging while we are still actually eating healthier than if we had not been using the products. One of the easiest ways to incorporate healthy fats is to utilize oils in your every day meals (You're saying Huh? Read here). Most spray oils contain soy, propellants, additives and other chemicals...gross, just gross. I'm serious- next time you food shop, start comparing labels and I guarantee your eyes will be bulging. It's horrifying what we do to our foods. I was more than excited to share the only spray oil that NutriFamily has used for many years- Winona Pure Oils. I know this sounds salesman-ish and I have admittedly been working with them for many years but I stand by what I say- I have not and will not ever promote a product that I do not believe in. What I thought was really fun was when Tim (aka the pool grilling guru) started to give me tips on how to use Winona Pure Oil to keep your grill in tip top shape. Watch-

(can't see the video? Click here & watch it now)

Healthy Crunching
Perfect beach bag size!
So, I have this self-proclaimed issue with people who crunch too's similar to nails on a chalkboard. I know people can't help it, I understand that nobody can control how much their head vibrates when they chew or how it echoes through my brain but I wanted to get past this. I wanted a holiday where healthy and patriotic and snacking all went hand in hand. I wanted to share the crunch factor in a way that people were asking for more and I (even with my noise issues) would be happy to share. The wonderful people at RW Garcia sent us a bunch of their Yellow & Blue and Red & Yellow Mixt Bag chips. How else do you feed 130 hungry people and show patriotism? (which, sadly, I just realized the whole color and July 4th relevance while writing this post...I'm slow). I found RW Garcia products years ago as well and they are one of the top allergy-friendly snack items that I recommend to my clients that I consult with (they are also in my ebook). When I began looking more into what was in our foods as well as the labels, their Non-GMO label and use of vegetables to enhance the flavors of their products made me jump at introducing them to my (then) younger, picky eaters. My children never saw the ingredients, they just saw chips and ate them. Win for this mom, win for my children because they are snacking on heartier, healthier chips and win for those who we share with around us. On a side note, if you are a friend of NutriDaughter- watch out! Although she is the non-allergic sibling, she has grown up understanding why better foods are better for us. She often tells me that her friends are lectured by her about their choice of lunches and snacks. I'm sorry but I'm not.

When a Snack Attack is Acceptable
When I was considering what snacks I would bring to the pool, I began thinking about what I had mentioned earlier- people reaching into bags, cross contamination (shuddering) so I wanted to also provide a few items that would make it both safe and easy for them to get what they needed for their meal. Again, I thought of my children and what they most enjoy when they eat- dipping! Not just them- I am a dipper too but I am absolutely not all about double-dipping, sharing spoons from any type of dip or chancing that a miscellaneous food from another dish happened to make it's way into a dip, rendering it no longer allergy-friendly. The best answer? Single serve items, grab and go or individual packs! I also wanted something that would be just plain fun to have as another dining option on the table that nobody else would normally bring. Among the table full of typical cook out dishes, I had a basket of SunButter. Not only was it patriotic in it's own way but who could resist having the extra protein? Plus, did you know that sunflower seeds have multiple health benefits such as contributing to your Vitamin E intake to protect your cells from free radicals which can cause damage cell membranes. Being exposed to the sun means protecting your skin from the outside and the inside. Truly, you are what you eat.

"Eat Freely" They Say
Speaking of protein and fun snacks, we also got these wonderful Beach Bash Seed & Fruit Mix pouches from Enjoy Life Foods (beach bash, pool party- get it? Great choice Enjoy Life Foods!). Again, not your typical bbq, cooking-out foods but there are no rules on what foods you should serve at any meal. The pool has a bunch of children and young adults (not to mention swim meets...just sayin') so this was a no-brainer to me when I was looking for snacks. At first, people were unsure of what to make of them. It's funny for me to sit back and watch other people's reactions in silence- there's a typical pattern that occurs.

  • Step 1: Eyeball the product, maybe even pick it up but then place it back down and go for the chips
  • Step 2: Watch as other people begin to add it to their plate but you are already at the end of the line
  • Step 3: Patiently wait for the line to die down, hoping there will be some left for you
  • Step 4: Begin stuffing multiple pouches into your beach bag because you have realized how good they are and you feel ashamed that you passed them up the first time
*There is an exception to this pattern: occasionally you will have that family member or out of town guest that just doesn't want to follow the rules or wait in line, so they just barge back into line while those still waiting give them dirty looks behind their back. I can't blame them- I wouldn't take the risk of waiting either.

FYI- the grill guru was not the rude family member :)

Additional Product Tidbits

Winona Pure Oils come in five varieties- ALL of them lend a great taste to anything that you decide to grill. I also encourage mixing it up and combining flavors that you might not normally try together (ex: our perfect grilled corn on the cob uses Popcorn Butter, Olive and Coconut spray).

Apparently, SunButter 1.1 ounce floats! Great for a pool party game or fun in the sun idea but I do recommend making sure you check the seals on them before and after (no icky pool water allowed!). This also applies to the Enjoy Life Foods Seed & Fruit packets ~

I have always been a glass is half full kind of a person but here is proof! The end of an RW Garcia bag of chips is not the end, just the beginning of a new bag.

Enjoy Life Foods Seed & Fruit mix pouches are not only allergy-friendly, they are event-friendly. Their size and easy, on the go portion makes them perfect for planned and unplanned places that families are off to together.

I am happy to report that everyone was fed well and a bunch of people asked about the wonderful products that I brought with me. Multiple hugs and gratitude to Winona Pure OilsSunButterRW Garcia and Enjoy Life Foods for sending the supplies to share with my community and to help further food allergy awareness (and great tasting awareness). Additional hugs to Winona Pure Oils and SunButter for supplying a variety pack of your products for giveaway prizes.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Saying Goodbye

Let's face it, running a business is not easy for anyone. Trying to recreate yourself, constantly thinking ahead to see what product or post will be the product or post to gain more interest for your audience is a constant game of marketing stress. But what breaks my heart is when I see a business that I have known for so many years suddenly say they are closing up shop. Our food allergy community thrives on helping each other out so I am reaching out to all of you to make the farewell of a special company be a heartfelt farewell.

Blue Bear Aware is ending their business as of July 15th. As sad as I am to see them go, my hope for them is that they will thrive in a brand new area to help others, even if their new path is not quite clear to them yet. I wanted to send them off with a nice post that would show how much I respect what they have done for our community over the years and all that kept coming to mind is the song from The Sound of Music "So Long Farewell"

(is your computer wonky? Click here to watch the video)

Perhaps my mental "So long, Farewell" is not so far off- The Sound of Music is a classic! It touches on numerous areas of what we should be doing to help ourselves as well as everyone else, to stand up for what you believe in and to fight for what you feel is the right thing. These are all of the qualities that the wonderful peeps at Blue Bear Aware have presented to us so, perhaps, it is fitting. 

Wave Farewell 
Let's join our food allergy community together and send Blue Bear Aware off to their next journey with the biggest virtual farewell wave ever! Need some examples? Try these:
  • Visit them Go to NOW 
  • Check out their awesome going away sales- they have ALL of their items waiting to be yours for up to 75% off
  • Share this post and include #BlueBearAware on all your social media channels to help them out
  • Refer friends- there are always people looking for allergy items so why not tell them?
  • Tag other businesses- Blue Bear Aware needs to sell their items and this means other companies can purchase their products too
  • Think Ahead- because the prices are so low, this would be a great time to shop for holidays, gifts or even larger sizes for next year
  • LOTS of goodbye itemsBlue Bear Aware carries autoinjector casesclothingbadges & labels and accessories. With their going out of business markdown prices, nothing is over $21! 
  • Contact them- send them a farewell note to make them feel loved 
Don't Be Blue
This is no time for tears, this is a time to support Blue Bear Aware. From one allergy advocate to another, I want to say thank you Blue Bear Aware. I applaud what you have done for us and I will always be here if you need anything in the future. This is not goodbye, it is simply "see you soon".

UPDATE! Blue Bear is Back!

Great news, folks. We're still here!! We're sure that wasn't what they meant by Christmas in July but we're celebrating all the same. 

Blue Bear Aware is now in the hands of another family active in the food allergy community and we are thrilled to be able to continue the Blue Bear mission. The transition was a fairly quick one so we have much work to do before we really "relaunch" Blue Bear Aware but we can tell you that this includes new products, both new to Blue Bear and the allergy apparel market in general. (EXCITING!!!) 

While we are busy working through all those details, Blue Bear Aware remains open for business. There are still items at a deep discount and we will continue to honor those incredible prices through August 3 (2016). If there are items that you are interested in but are not currently available or not available in a particular size, let us know.

Team Blue Bear

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Best Freaking Brownies Ever!

It's summer and I am still going through the wonderful goodies that I picked up at the Atlanta, GA Gluten Free and Allergen Friendly Expo (In case you have been living without the internet, click here for the recap). I do admit, I love expos and the swag that you come home with is absolutely a wonderful perk. But I also like to try the products to share with everyone as well as keep my promises to the companies that were gracious enough to ask me to try them. So when I got to this Gluten Free Fudge Brownie Mix from Ardenne Farm, it was an absolute must to get these babies baked. I mean, chocolate, brownies, no need to even ask me twice. Come on, I know most of you are shaking your head in agreement.

First, Double Check
Photo Credit Ardenne Farm
NutriSon has multiple food allergies (peanut, egg, uncooked dairy, shellfish, watermelon and a gluten intolerance) so I always, always double-check on how products are produced, what they are produced with and if their other products contain anything that he is allergic too. It's nice when I get to sample my products on my own (yeah, yeah- sharing is nice but sometimes mom's like to enjoy foods alllllll by themselves!) but it's really nice when NutriSon can eat them safely too. I know it can be discouraging to him when there's yet another product that he cannot eat. Luckily, the website for Ardenne Farm is very clear about allergens and what their products do not contain. Is this product safe for you? Check here because you can never be too cautious for your own allergy needs. Although the picture above shows eggs being used for the mixture, I am happy to report that their products are free of egg/dairy/peanut/tree nut/gluten and are Non-GMO. Another plus- we made our batch of brownies using powdered egg replacer and dairy free milk successfully.

Always Taste-Test
Of course, it's not usually recommended to lick the bowl or the spoon but like I tell everyone "It's YOUR kitchen, there are no rules."AND, when you are the cook, in my book that means you have an automatic right to taste, lick, gobble anything that you want too as long as you are not double-dipping because that's gross and can also cause cross-contamination (plus, ewww). This gluten free brownie mix was thick enough to stay nicely on my finger, see? Just don't wipe it on a white towel (as previously mentioned here) because then the nice mom that is finger-licking happy will instantly turn into angry mom that will refuse to make anything chocolate for a long, long time. So why chance it? Brownies are supposed to be something to make you happy. And by gosh, these brownies made me happy before they even got out of the oven. Literally, I poured the batter and then began with just a fingertip full- oh my! Then, I called NutriHubby in and gave him a spoonful. Then, I just felt it was necessary to hide in my kitchen while being a glutton and clean the rest of the bowl with the spatula (which also means sharing the gluttony on social media because being a blogger means nothing is embarrassing for us to share). Can you blame me? I've had a bunch of gluten free brownie mixes and honestly, Ardenne Farm is THE BEST in my opinion. And no, they did not pay me to say that- it's truly what I think.

Final Thoughts
One thing I noticed while I was mixing the batter was that it seemed fluffy, if that makes sense. Most gluten free batters tend to be a bit on the dry side, or wind up too watery. The preparation is to add just three ingredients (oil, egg, water) so I used my ever-favorite Winona Pure Oil, Ener-G Powdered Egg Replacer and water BUT I used only 1/4 cup of oil and added a 4-ounce applesauce (even though I love Winona Pure, 1/2 a cup seems like a lot to me). Regardless, the brownies were super-easy to make, only took about 20 minutes and they were gone by the next morning. Con: NutriSon only allowed me the small portion that I had that night....I love him but come on Dude, I freaking feed you and you can't even leave me any brownies?! Mothers remember these things and one day, I will be surrounded by a fort of Ardenne Farm brownie boxes and not share at all. Just a heads-up.

Seeing (and Tasting) is Believing
Like I said, this is the only actual taste of the brownie mix that I got (sniff.... blowing nose). It's not a great picture because they were still warm, just out of the oven but look at the ooey, gooey, fudgy goodness on a spoon! I downed this with some cold almond milk and I was a happy mom for the night. When I asked NutriSon what he thought about the brownie mix, his exact response was "This is how I expect all brownies to be." Kuddos Ardenne Farm- NutriSon is super, super picky about all of his foods. For him to say this means you have a five-star rating in his book and that's very difficult to do. I also stand by my title- Ardenne Farm, your gluten free brownies are the BEST FREAKING BROWNIES EVER!! Truly. It's that simple. I am so happy that out paths crossed at the GFAF Expo.

Do you see the fudge?! Yum!!

Do you want to know more about the Gluten Free Brownie Mix and all of their other products? Visit them at for more details. 

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