Thursday, April 14, 2016

Gluten Free? I Don't Carrot All..

Let's begin this article by taking a quick food allergy survey, ready?

Since you or a a friend/family member/loved one was diagnosed with food allergies, have you:

A. Ignored it
B. Found products, don't like them but still use them
C. Don't use any products- you eat the same, boring bland foods continuously
D. Know that there are good, easy-to-use products and you use them as much as possible

If you answered either A, B or C I am writing this post just for you (well- you, your family and everybody else's but let's not get into details). Food allergies can be tricky, disappointing, overwhelming and sometimes even tasteless. I am happy to say that you don't have to live like this- you don't have to give up on your foods or give up on what you make to eat. When you don't like a product, don't use it- it's the same way if you do not have food allergies. But when you find a product that you really like- stock up on it and use the heck out of it! (and, tell everybody because you want them to eat it too!)

One of our long-time favorite products is Cherrybrook Kitchen. I've used their gluten free Sugar Cookie mix, Chocolate & Yellow Cake mix for many years so when they sent me their Carrot Cake Mix, I was like a kid at Christmas (only, it was Easter).

Yes, I used the horrible GMO bunny marshmallows...
don't judge, I'm honest

Tricky (For the fellow children of the 80's, tell me this Run DMC song isn't going through your head right now??) What do I always tell people that complain about allergy-friendly products who have said they tried them and didn't like them - everything has to be tweeked. I think I am safe in saying that most gluten free, allergy-friendly boxed items tend to be better tasting when you step outside of the "as prepared" directions on the box and add a little bit of this and a little bit of that. However, what I can also honestly say is that I have never had to do this with Cherrybrook Kitchen products. Their products are far from tricky.

Disappointing This is what kills me about allergy-friendly foods- spending so much extra money to try these products to keep your family safe and then you are just downright disappointed. It happens to all of us. Luckily, you can usually return the unopened packages if you really don't like them. Whenever someone tells me they were unhappy with a product, I have this immediate need to find out what I can recommend to them to fix it. I like to help and for those of you that have met me or spoken with me, you know how I get. But after all of these years, so many boxes and even working through a spastic oven temperature fluctuating issue, I have never ever made a Cherrybrook Kitchen product and been disappointed- ever. (and just for the record- they didn't pay me to write this, it's all my own truthful opinions).

Cherrybrook Kitchen Gluten Free Carrot Cake
only requires oil, water & mix!
Overwhelming Food allergies means not knowing and more cooking. Our family went through it and I can still remember that feeling as I walked through the grocery store and couldn't find anything safe for my son to eat. Where do I find new products? What is safe? How will I be able to cook all of these foods and where will I get the time to do it? And then you find items to make and they require more ingredients that are (usually) allergens, such as eggs or milk. Yes, these can be substituted as well but sometimes you just want easy, simple, minimal. After a long day when my son tells me at 3 PM that he's invited to a party the next day and I need to bake something for him, I want easy! My brain is not fully functioning after 3 PM (well, sometimes but thanks 3 PM lull) and easy makes my life easy. So how much easier is it when you only need to add minimal ingredients and you are on your way to yumminess? And by minimal, I mean 2 or 3. Take a peek at the online baking instructions for the Cherrybrook Kitchen items- you will note that no eggs or dairy are required...allergy moms like this.

Tasteless Ok, I'm not even going to have to tell you that this just doesn't apply. Let me just show you-

Do you see those orange things? They are pieces of real dehydrated carrots. And that flour mix? As soon as you open up the bag, you can smell it...ok, my mouth is watering. Which is sad because our local stores don't carry Cherrybrook Kitchen's Gluten Free Carrot Cake yet! Did I ask my local store that carries their other products- yup. Did they have any other hopeful answer for me other than "All of our products are ordered regionally so we can put in a request but it's up to the buyers who order it for the entire Southeast Region"- nope. And, since I'm on a role, how does that ordering process even make any sense?! You have customers in each town asking for specific products yet you don't get them. Why would your customers in Georgia be forced to get what your customers in North Carolina want and vice versa? I digress.... I'll just order from the link on Cherrybrook Kitchen's website with free shipping (here).

Exactly how fluffy is the cake? I measured it for all of you (please excuse the not-so-fancy school ruler). As you can see, even without eggs, dairy or gluten the Carrot Cake was about an inch tall. I baked mine in an 8.50 inch cake pan and, as I mentioned before, have been having some oven temperature issues. Although it may not look as fluffy as you would expect, I promise you these cakes have always been super easy to bake. They have never given me any trouble by under or over cooking or turning into a weird, gummy mess and in the past, they have been awesome both as a cake and as cupcakes. Plus, the Carrot Cake passed the "doubting Grandpa" challenge- my Step Father that often refers to gluten free as noticeably different tasting. Cherrybrook Kitchen gets bonus points for making the doubters doubt-free. Well, and me- I get points too for making it!

The best part- tasting and sharing! Since I received the Carrot Cake just in time for Easter and I was in charge of bringing dessert, this worked out perfectly! I was so stressed about what to make and how to crunch my time that this was a lifesaver. I popped it into the oven the night before, let it cool and frosted it an hour before we left for Easter dinner at moms. I felt like I was forgetting to do something because it was so fast. The end result- absolutely moist and delicious. I would have even eaten the cake without frosting but since it was frosted, why fight it? Moms can eat at Easter too. My recommendation- get two boxes and prepare one box as a cake and the second as cupcakes to freeze and use for emergencies. You will be feeling the wonderful wave of less stress when you need a fast cupcake and all you need to do is defrost it.

Thank you to Cherrybrook Kitchen for the Gluten Free Carrot Cake- we all enjoyed it and I was excited to get something I hadn't tried yet. For more information, please visit them at As always, I do not receive any compensation for my product reviews other than the products themselves as my opinions and thoughts are my own.

Want to share the love using their Gluten Free Sugar Cookie mix? I use them as a base for most of my holiday cookies -click (Here)  & (Here) to see what other holiday we need them for.

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