Thursday, September 27, 2012

Circle of Moms Top 25 Food Allergy Moms 2012

As you know, I am a Food Allergy Consultant and blogger. I truly enjoy what I do and my main goal is to get important information to those who need it. After all, knowledge is power in the world of food allergies and we are in this together.

I have been nominated for the Circle of Moms Top 25 Food Allergy Moms 2012 and I am asking my fans to vote for me. The contest runs through October 17th and you can vote each day, once every 24 hours. If you like what I do, please help me out and vote for me each day. To vote, click on the link and bookmark it for easy access each day

I appreciate each and every one of you who are a part of my blog, my Facebook page, my newsletter, my clients and all that have just come into my life as a result of what I do. I truly feel as if I have an extended family.

Thank you to you all!

Monday, September 24, 2012

RW Garcia Chips Product Review

I first found RW Garcia chips in my local food store- this by itself was a good start. Let's face it, since food allergies have entered our lives, any food that doesn't have to necessarily be mail ordered or found at a store 20 miles out of our way makes us that much happier. Don't get me wrong, I do order, I do drive all over the place to 3 and 4 stores to get what we need but sometimes Mama is just plain tired and can breath a sigh of relief when it's right there, in front of you.

The first thing that intrigued me to buy a bag of these chips was the packaging. The front says both "Non GMO" and "Gluten Free". I have been very careful with corn products in the wake of some recent news with corn and GMO's. Although they had several flavors, I bought only one to see how it would be welcomed in my house. Picky eaters means many, many products tried and failed. Happily, this one was highly accepted.

As a Food Allergy Consultant and blogger, whenever I find a new product that is great, I like to share it on my page and check in on the product site as well. This time was like a double surprise- RW Garcia offered to have me do a product review. How great is that?

We received a big box of 6 bags of chips. Our shipment included 2 MixtBag (Yellow & Blue Corn Tortilla Chips and Red & Yellow Tortilla Chips) and 4 bags of their Dippers (3 Seed Savory Dipping Chips, 3 Seed Veggie, 3 Seed Curry & Mango and 3 Seed Blue Corn). I didn't even know where to start or what to try first. Talk about a difficult decision! I finally just closed my eyes and picked one out. So silly, I know, but you have to start somewhere.

My first product was the 3 Seed Blue Corn Dipping Chips. I whipped up some homemade guacamole and began dipping. I don't know who came up with the concept of a dipper but they nailed it! What better way to dip a chip than to have a longer, thinner version of a chip. It removes the threat of the dreaded and awkward "chip face" that you normally get when dipping a chip. FYI- chip face is when the sides of the chip are too wide to fit properly into your mouth, thus leaving behind residue of chip and dip on the sides of your face. The Blue Corn were perfect- not too dry, good texture and flavor and slightly salty but not too salty. Although I had them with guacamole, they were also very tasty alone.

Next were the 3 Seed Veggie Dipping Chips. These were in the same great dipping shape but they came in a variety of flavors that include Spinach & Garlic, Red Beet & Onion and Carrot, Tomato & Sesame. Again, as a food allergy mom (or, any mom in fact) any product that tastes great and gets some hidden vegetable in there get an automatic A+ in my book. This also works on picky husbands or people that are too lazy to slice up their veggies but still want the benefits. All in all, I loved all of the flavors and I could not even say if I had a preference because each flavor was different but hit a different taste bud.

The 3 Seed Savory Dipping Chips were tried out next. These offered two types of flavors- Himalayan Pink Salt and Tellicherry Cracked Pepper. I packed some into my daughter's lunch for school as well as my husband's. Both came back with empty lunch bags and full bellies. Even though I liked the other flavored chips, I also liked the simplicity of salt and pepper. What can I say, sometimes you just want what you want. And depending on what type of foods you are eating them with determines on how the flavors will be brought out. I packed my husband some chili with his and the Himalayan Pink Salt made a great flavor enhancer but the Tellicherry Cracked Pepper also gave the chili a heartier, roasted taste. Either way, still a great way to have the best of both tastes.

My next victims, I mean bags were the MixtBag Red & Yellow and Yellow & Blue Tortilla Chips. Now, I do have to tell the truth that these do run the risk of giving you "chip face" but in this case, it's acceptable. The first thing that I noticed about these chips was that they are a heartier, thicker chip but without being too crunchy. Don't ask me how they did it but they did. The other thing that you may be wondering about are the colors. This is not food coloring, the ingredients list red beet powder and ground blue corn as items so no worries about food dyes or anything unnatural. I did not manage to get a picture of the Yellow & Blue chips because they were all eaten but I did snap one of the Red & Yellow. Look at the grains in these chips!

Luckily, my next chip was also while I was trying a recipe for my next newsletter and it was a great flavor combination to have Pumpkin Hummus and 3 Seed Curry & Mango Dipping Chips. Now, as you can see from the picture, the flavor is just bursting off of the chips. At first taste, I was like "Wow, a little sweeter than I thought it would be" and then- BAM! The curry kicks in and your mouth is yelling "Water, water!" These were addictive. This would be like a healthier, cheese-free version of a spicy Dorito chip but so much better. As spicy as the chips were, I found myself being unable to eat just one or two. The more I ate, the faster I drooled from the heat but then reached for another one. One plus- drooling but no chip face.

I have to say, there was not one chip that I didn't like. All of the ingredients are pure, simple ingredients and certified gluten free. RW Garcia is an official participant in the Non-GMO Project and have already received product verification for the Organic Veggie, Soy/Flax, Blue/Flax and MixtBag® Special Recipe products.You will also see from their website at that they also make several charitable donations and do whatever they can to decrease any unnecessary energy sources for their products and building.

~I secretly believe that RW stands for Really Wonderful.

Friday, September 14, 2012

October Giveaway

October is when the next issue of my quarterly newsletter Phood For Life comes out, have you signed up yet? Simply go to my website at and you will find the sign-up on the home page.

To celebrate, I am hosting an October Giveaway! How do you enter to win a bag full of great allergy-friendly products? Easy- just send me an email at and I will make sure your name and email go into the contest drawing. I will have some items from Surf Sweets, Enjoy Life Foods, Yummy Earth and many others. You can't win it if you are not in it.

This contest is open to everyone, so if you know someone that would like to enter as well, please feel free to share this with them. I am an E.O.C. (Equal Opportunity Consultant) meaning I am here to help whoever asks.

The winner will be announced in October here on my blog as well as my Facebook page at

Good luck to all that enter and thank you to all of the companies that graciously supplied the goodies.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Celebrate- September 13th is Celiac Awareness Day!

A little history on how this day began   

I would like to quote the information from  the Celiac Sprue Awareness Association:

"The date of September 13 was chosen because it honors the birthday of Samuel Gee, MD a British physician and pediatrician. Dr. Gee published the first modern description of the clinical picture of Celiac Disease and is credited with being the first to identify the link between Celiac Disease and diet. One of Gee’s famous quotes on celiac disease is “if the patient can be cured at all, it must be by means of diet.” Dr. Gee was born September 13, 1839 and died August 3, 1911. So you see, Dr. Gee was ahead of his time. Many Doctors today are also starting to recognize the importance of a person's diet and how it associates to their health. Even if you do not have Celiac, this is a great reminder to try going gluten free, even if just for one day. One day might turn into the rest of your life.

What is Celiac Disease?
Celiac Disease is a disorder that can effect a person in many different ways if they ingest or, in some cases, even use a product that contains gluten. Symptoms can be anything from nutritional deficiencies, continued unexplained weight loss, diarrhea, bloating and even hair loss (among other things). Gluten damages the intestines when glutinous grains are eaten such as barley, einkorn, emmer, kamut, rye, spelt, wheat and sometimes oats. Although some may disagree, many Celiac and gluten intolerant people find great relief by eliminating gluten from their lifestyle.

Some important Facts about Being Gluten Free
I would like to thank LUNA’s in-house nutritionist, Tara DelloIacono for providing me with these special tips to help me keep my reader's healthy , happy and feeling great.

Make sure to eat your vitamins: Women with gluten intolerance are more prone to mal-absorption of vitamins and nutrients such as iron, calcium, B12 and folic acid. LUNA Protein bars* are rich in iron, calcium, folic acid, and vitamins D, B12 and more.
Eat smaller meals frequently throughout the day: Eating five small meals a day may help relieve digestive discomfort associated with celiac disease and gluten sensitivity. I recommend eating a combination of protein and carbohydrates such as fruit and nuts for longer lasting satiation and energy
Find ways to get your fiber: Getting your recommended fiber intake without whole grains like wheat and oats can be a challenge, but fiber can be found in many other sources such as rice and fruit. Chicory and rice flour contribute to LUNA Protein bars’ three grams of fiber.
Beware of hidden traps: Some packaged gluten free foods add sugar and fat to make up for a bland taste. Make sure to read your labels and do your research to find a healthy medium.

*Please check the labels on LUNA bars to ensure that it is a safe snack for you
What Grains CAN I Eat?
Being gluten free does not mean that you are limiting your grains- you are simply replacing them with other grains. Gluten free grains and flours include amaranth, buckwheat (although it says wheat, it is not), corn, millet, oats, quinoa, rice, sorghum, tapioca and teff. Some individuals with Celiac or gluten intolerance can be sensitive to oats so use caution.
How Am I Going to Celebrate?
I recently revised a cookie recipe to include gluten free oats and rice quinoa cereal. They are good as cookies but can also be made in a square pan and cut into bars just as easily. I have made them for my family for today's treat- I hope your family enjoys the recipe just as much.
Chocolate Chip Cookies  
2 Bananas, Mashed
4 ounces Applesauce
2 Teaspoons Ener-G Powdered Egg Replacer
1 Cup Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free Oats (uncooked) OR replace with 1 Cup GF Cereal or Flour of your Choice
1 Cup Arrowhead Mills Rice Quinoa Cereal (uncooked)
1/4 Cup Non-Dairy Milk of your choice
1/2 Cup Enjoy Life Foods Chocolate Chips
1 Teaspoon Vanilla
1 Teaspoon Cinnamon
*Optional- 1/2 Cup Raisins or other dried fruit

Preheat the oven to 350°.

In a large bowl, combine the mashed banana, applesauce and egg replacer. Mix well. Add all of the remaining ingredients and mix until blended.

Makes approximately 15 cookies.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Surf Sweets- What a Sweet Way to Enjoy Life

I was recently asked if I would like to do a product review for Surf Sweets gummies. Hmm, let me think- organic, allergy-friendly- sure! When your child has food allergies, you are always looking for a product that will not only be safe for your child but having natural ingredients is a big plus. I think we can all agree that less dyes, artificial flavors and high fructose corn syrup is a good thing for any mom.

Surf Sweets was kind enough to send me an assortment of their gummies which included Sour Worms, Gummy Swirls, Sour Berry Bears, Gummy Bears, Jelly Beans and Spooky Spiders. (Psst- it's supposed to be a secret but the Spooky Spiders will be one of the goodies for my October Giveaway! Don't tell anyone, ok?)

As always, I layed them out on the counter and just left them there for a day or two just to torture my children. After all, it is one of the things that you get to do as a parent. You can imagine the reaction of when my children came home and I reminded them that samples cannot be eaten until I have taken pictures and tried them myself. The anguish and the horror- it was so much fun!

I have to say that the waiting paid off. Each sample that we tried was worth it. Our first sample was the bag of Sour Worms. I am not normally a sour person but these were the perfect blend- a tiny bit tart but not so sour that your mouth was puckering up with just a touch of sweetness to take the edge off. My kids continued to say all day "Squirm, squirm, squirm, I am eating a worm". What I liked about them was the stretch factor- most gummy worms cannot be bitten easily but these were less gummy and more jelly-like so they could be easily chewed without feeling as if you were going to choke on them.

Next, we tried the Gummy Swirls.These were like gummy gumdrops but without the icky flavors
that few people like to eat. They were also the perfect size-not as big as a regular gumdrop so they would not feel like they were invading your mouth. They were a good consistency- gummy but not so much that they stuck in your teeth for an hour and then you really don't get to enjoy them. This helps when you want to stuff several into your mouth at once and still get all of the great flavors.

Sour Berry Bears- my son's favorite! Another product that is slightly sour but still sweet enough to be enjoyable. They have sugar on them but it's not so much that it's falling off everywhere or ruining the actual taste of the bears. These were a big competitor against another brand that we buy and guess what- these won. My son actually savored them and it took him several minutes to eat them. (For those of you who don't know my son, no food is eaten slowly.)  If only Surf Sweets made some vegetables like this.

And of course we had to try the regular Gummy Bears as well. After all, you can't try one and not
the other. The thing that I most enjoyed about the Gummy Bears was the consistency- they were just juicy and fruity rather than that chewy, gummy effect that you normally find with other gummy bears. There was a variety of flavors and even the yellow ones were good (my own pet peeve, I usually don't like the yellows). I had to distribute them evenly because there was a fight over who had how many of which flavor. In the end, who got most of them- me! Because I can :) Again, silently tormenting your children is fun.

My husband's favorite candy is jelly beans so I had to make sure when we opened the Surf Sweets Jelly Beans that Dad was the first to taste them. All of the flavors were tried by themselves, then together in pairs. The result- Dad and the rest of us have a new favorite jelly bean! I wonder if the Easter Bunny knows about these? Can we mail him some? Or, maybe, just maybe, the Easter Bunny is in cahoots with Surf Sweets....hmmmm, very sneaky!

My last sample- the Spooky Spiders. I have to admit, I was kind of creeped out by putting a spider
into my mouth but you have to get over it for the good of the cause. I found the spiders were a bit surprising. I didn't taste too  much flavor at first but then there was a rush of fruit flavor. I would have to say for a spider, it was definitely worthy of munching on. They are the right size to use for Halloween if you want to make spider web cupcakes or cookies or brownies with a safe treat on top. Just watch out for those eerie little legs.

My overall impression of Surf Sweets was a great one. All of the samples are free of corn syrup, GMO's (Genetically Modified Organisms), gluten, nuts, dairy and casein. They are also made with fruit juice and contain a dose of Vitamin C and calcium. Their complete product list and information can be found at They are also partnered with some other great causes such as The Ocean Project, Climate Cycle, EcoMom Alliance and Green Halloween

Our samples contained a variety of fruity flavors, all of the consistencies were favorable and we were not left feeling as if we were being cheated in any way because they are so allergy-friendly. I feel confident that these will be a new staple in our household from now on. Many thanks to Surf Sweets for allowing me to try out your great products!

Friday, September 7, 2012

My Funky Food Experiment

I have learned over the years to first listen to all information that I am given and then react rather than the opposite. I will admit, when I was younger, I would immediately react whenever I heard something that I did not agree with. As I have gotten (a-hem) older..more mature, I realized that just because I don't agree with someone or something does not mean that there may not be a small piece of that information that could be useful in some way down the road. I stopped being overly critical of others and I patiently heard them out, read articles on various subjects that I normally wouldn't have read, listened to Doctor's ramble on about this and that and because of that, I feel I am well-rounded now. The reason? I am trying to figure out what is most important in my life for myself, for my children and for our future. To me, this means tearing down your old way of thinking and just going with the flow. This doesn't mean that you have to continue with the flow to the end of the river, just see where it takes you and get off when you are ready. You may get further than you thought you would.

Alright, enough with that. Food has become a major part of our lives between my son's food allergies, things that have popped up for myself and my husband and this makes me see food in very different aspects. I recently saw a blurb in a magazine that suggested replacing deodorant with a sliced lime. first, I dismissed it.Weird, right? Who would do that? But then I started to think about it, trying to be open-minded and I decided to give it a try for a week. What's the worst that would happen? I'd be a little more stinky for a few days.

So, for $.50, I purchased my deodorant for the week. I sliced it and I put it into the refrigerator. Mental note- Label your lime VERY clearly because if someone were to go to use it...eww! For one week, I skipped my deodorant and rubbed the lime in my armpits. It was the hottest, stickiest week we have had for awhile so it was the perfect time to really give it a shot. I will say that my husband was giving me very strange looks but he does that anyway, so I forged forward.

The results? Surprisingly, it really does work! There was no smell and it was all-natural. One drawback- it does not prevent you from sweating so I was definitely damper than I had been the week before. Another thing that I will mention- I highly recommend that if you decide to shave your underarms, do it the night before applying your daily dose of lime because OUCH! Not fun when you rub the lime on and all of the freshly shaved skin is just screaming at you.

This may be too off the deep end for some of you and that's fine. It was a little off the deep end for me as well but like I said, it was harmless. Food effects us in so many different ways that I like to find the positives rather than the negatives. Food and food allergies seems to very often be painted as a limiting, horrific thing but our family has embraced this new lifestyle. Food is a good thing- you just have to find the ones that are meant for you. As Jack Penn once said "One of the secrets to life is to make stepping stones out of stumbling blocks." I am skipping over the stepping stones and building a towering mountain with mine.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Strawberry Drizzle Tart

I recently saw a recipe posted by The Tasty Alternative on Facebook and I was intrigued to try it out. The recipe was for a Raw Cherry "Cheese" Cake that originally used walnuts and cashews. Our family has peanut allergies but are fine with almonds and almond butter so I decided to tweek the recipe and try it out for Labor Day.

The recipe is easy, which is what I gravitate to most of the time. Anything that is fast is good when you need to make so many other foods. The preparation time took no more than 20 minutes (not counting the freezing time). Allergy-friendly + healthy foods + easy = Happy Mom!

Strawberry Drizzle Tart

1 Package Josef's Gluten Free Square Cinnamon Cookies
6 Teaspoons Spectrum Organic Vegetable Shortening
1 Teaspoon Cinnamon
1 Teaspoon Allspice

10 Ounces Barney ButterSunButter or peanut butter alternative
5 Ounces Pure Maple Syrup (room temperature)
1 Teaspoon Vanilla
1/2 Teaspoon Lemon Juice
1 Teaspoon Rice Milk (optional, I found it made the mix creamier)

Strawberry Sauce:
6 - 8 Strawberries (washed)
1 Tablespoon Pure Maple Syrup

Make the Crust: Using a food processor or mini chopper, pulse the entire box of cinnamon cookies until there are not large pieces. In a medium bowl, mix the crackers, shortening and spices for the crust until mixed well. Place the mixture in a 9-inch spring form pan and spread evenly using waxed paper. Put aside.

Next, make the filling: Using a food processor, blend all of the ingredients for the filling until smooth. Use a larger food processor to do this as I actually burned out the motor on my small Ninja chopper because the almond butter was so thick.

Spread the mixture on top of the crumb crust carefully. I found it a little difficult to do this and keep the crust in place. Use waxed paper to slowly and evenly press into place. Gently lift off the wax paper.

And, the drizzle: In a blender, combine the strawberries and maple syrup and blend until smooth. Pour on top of the tart. Cover with foil and freeze for at least 1 hour.

Before serving, transfer to the refrigerator and top with fresh strawberries.

Makes approximately 8-10 slices

This recipe can be substituted using any allergy-friendly cracker crust and Sunbutter (or) other nut-free "butters".