Archive for January, 2010

Fabulous Finds & Friends: Part 1

Sunday, January 31st, 2010

Today was one of those just fabulous days! It was full of gluten-free food, fun and folks!

I just got home from the Healthy Villi Gluten-Free Winter Membership Meeting in Wellesley, Massachusetts. Like many of you, I belong and participate regularly in my local celiac (as well as food allergy) support groups. I love to join in the activities, find support and also meet some awesome fellow celiacs / food allergen-free folks that make my life just so much nicer.

I met so many wonderful BeFreeForMe members today… Thanks for stopping by and introducing yourselves!

Here is a summary of some of fabulous food finds from the exhibits today:

Willoughby’s Muffins: Gluten/Nut/Dairy and Soy-free these muffins are like homemade. Made in a designated gluten-free facility, Willoughby’s may make muffin pans a thing of the past! Buy on-line at

More Than a Macaroon: Can I say YUM? A must try, these cookies are chewy, gooey and hands-down one of the most addictive cookies I have ever eaten. A family-owned and operated business, with a passion for celiac baking, this cookie company will become a household name in gluten-free households everywhere. Mark my word.

Lola’s Italian Groceria: Craving gluten-free Eggplant Parmigiana, classic Italian Lasagna or a sweet cannoli? Check out Lola’s and have a tray delivered to your house for your next get-together or small party. Delicious!

Glutino: The number of gluten-free items, and the quality and tastiness of the products Glutino’s has in their line-up always amazes me. The pretzels, the cookies, the meals … all delicious and truly some of my all-time favorites.  Thank you Glutino for being the benchmark for gluten-free products!

Ian’s Natural Foods: The products in Ian’s line-up make me secretly wish I was a kid again… but, then again, Big Kids can love Ian’s products too! If you haven’t tried them yet, check out Ian’s Maple Sausage & Egg Wafflewich for a fast & easy breakfast idea!

Riceworks: A favorite of the gluten-free community, riceworks are just so good! Crunchy and tasty, Riceworks gives back tons to the gluten-free community too. Make sure you nominate for your favorite non-profit group for Riceworks Show Us Your Goodness program!

Kettle Cuisine Soups: It’s about 20 degrees over here in Massachusetts so I was so excited to see Kettle Cuisine here at the show today! If you haven’t tried them yet, you MUST! With 10 (yes, TEN!) gluten-free varieties and five that are dairy-free and five that are vegan, this is one of those staple gluten-free items that I always have on-hand. Need to buy? Find out where here

Mr. Ritt’s Bakery: A favorite at tradeshows, Mr. Ritt’s carries it all! Breads, cookies and pizza crusts – a favorite gluten-free designation!

Check out more finds from the Healthy Villi Winter meeting tomorrow on!

Friday Favorite: Kozy Shack Tapioca (Only 70 calories!)

Friday, January 29th, 2010

One of my favorite ready-to-eat desserts is Kozy Shack Tapioca. I loved this stuff even before being diagnosed as a celiac.

Rich and creamy, with just enough sweetness – I’ll even grab a cup as a morning snack, while checking my emails or planning my day.

And the best part is that all of Kozy Shacks puddings, flans, and gels are gluten-free; as well as manufactured in facilities that are free of peanuts and tree nuts. (However, according to the company website Most Kozy Shack products contain milk, eggs, or other milk derivatives. So they recommend that you read each ingredient statement that clearly states any known allergens.)

My favorite is the 70 calorie No Sugar Added Tapioca… any dessert good for my middle is good for me!

With Kozy Shack, you can have your dessert and diet too!

WIN-It-Wednesday: Peas of Mind Puffets & Veggie Wedgies

Tuesday, January 26th, 2010

It’s tough enough to get kids to eat right, but if you add food allergies or celiac disease into the mix the challenge become even greater.

That is why I was more than peas (whoop, I mean pleased!) when I stumbled across the Peas of Mind booth at a local food show a few months ago.

Made by a mom, Peas of Mind Puffets offer a perfectly balanced nutritious meal for growing kids. Puffets are also super easy to prepare, delicious and perfect for lunchboxes and as a grab-and-go or hand-held meal. The Puffet’s come in six fabulous flavors; three of them are gluten-free (Eat Your Greens, Carrot Risotto and Black Bean Polenta) and two are dairy-free (Mamma’s Pasta & Dalai Lentil).

Although packed with nutrients that are fit for kids, Puffets are also a hit with adults looking for an organic & healthy snack or side dish. They are perfect accompanied with a cup of fresh homemade steaming soup or a crisp from the garden salad.

Peas of Mind also make Veggie Wedgies, which are baked crispy French fries made from real vegetables! Ingenious & delicious! The baked carrot fries, baked cauliflower fries, baked apple fries and the baked broccoli fries are a wonderfully sneaky way to get veggies into your little ones tummies. Containing all organic & vegan ingredients, these fries are packed with vitamins and nutrients – not oil and sodium like regular French fries. They are also gluten, dairy, egg, and soy free.

And at only 20- 25 calories and zero fat per serving, one taste of the Veggie Wedgies had this calorie conscious big girl asking, “Can I super-size that?”.  Again, here is another Peas of Mind product that’s made with kids in mind, but perfect for adults too. 

The convenience, organic and natural ingredients, and the way the vegetables have been snuck into these delicious gluten and allergen-free products makes me happy to have Peas of Mind as this weeks WIN-It-Wednesday sponsor. One lucky winner will be the recipient of a Peas of Mind FREE Coupon gift pack redeemable for various Peas of Mind products!

How can you WIN?


Reply to this blog and tell us how you get your kids, yourself, and/or your family to eat or be healthier. (Me? I try to buy local produce and dairy as much as I can… it’s fresher, taste better, and it’s better for the environment & local economy too!)

All entries must be received by Wednesday, February 3, 2010 by 12 Midnight EST.

Good Luck, Be sneakily healthy, and as always…

Be Free!

Friday Favorite: Jell-O Pudding Cups

Thursday, January 21st, 2010

I love to have a little sweet snack here and there. But sometimes, I don’t have the time to bake or go shopping for gluten-free desserts. This is when Jell-O puddings jump into my day!

The convenience of the pudding cups (my favorites are the fat-free 100 calorie packs) make anytime be dessert-time. I like that I can throw a gluten-free pudding cup in my lunch cooler and enjoy a little sweetness in my day, almost effortlessly.

The convenience of a sweet and tasty dessert-on-the-run (almost guilt-free too with only 100 calories!) is why this weeks Friday Favorite honors go to Jell-O Pudding cups.

Note: To see the gluten-free labeling statement from Kraft Foods (the manufacturer of Jell-O) click here.

WIN-It-Wednesday: Kettle Cuisine Soups

Tuesday, January 19th, 2010

On a day like today, when the snow is falling and the air is crisp, a big hot steaming bowl of soup can really warm your soul.

This is when I reach for Kettle Cuisine Soups. All natural and full of healthy and fresh ingredients, Kettle Cuisine soups are made just the way you or I would make them at home… with no shortcuts, no artificial ingredients. All ten varieties are also gluten-free, and several are also dairy-free, low-fat and vegetarian too. It’s no wonder Kettle Cuisine’s motto is “Eat Soup. Feel Good”.

I reach for a Kettle Cuisine soup when I don’t have the time (or energy!) to make my own big stock-pot of soup for dinner, or when I need a quick lunch at the office.  Plus, the convenient (no can opener required!), single serving bowls let me pick and choose what variety of soup or chili fits my fancy. My favorites though are the Grilled Chicken & Corn Chowder, and the Angus Beef Steak Chili with Beans. Found in the frozen food section of your favorite store (or even bought on-line), stocking up is easy too.

I’m a fan of Kettle Cuisine because of the homemade taste of all their soups and chilis.  Kettle Cuisine does not have that tin-canny mass-produced taste that many soups out there have. Kettle Cuisine is just good old fashioned soup – made the way we would ourselves.

Because of all these reasons, I am so excited that Kettle Cuisine Soups is this weeks WIN-It-Wednesday sponsor. They are offering two (Yes, 2!) LUCKY BeFreeForMe members a variety pack of Kettle Cuisine Soups!

How can you WIN?


Reply to this blog and let us know how you warm your soul when the weather is blustery, windy, rainy (or snow-filled!). Me? I keep reminding myself that shoveling snow IS also a work-out … then treat myself to hot chocolate with tons of mini marshmallows.

Remember, all replies must be received by 12:00 midnight on Tuesday, January 27th, 2010.

Good Luck, Keep Warm… and as always,

Be Free!

Friday Favorite: Mission White Corn Tortillas

Thursday, January 14th, 2010

This week’s Friday Favorite is one of the most versatile items in my pantry: Mission White Corn Tortillas.

These gluten, egg, dairy, soy and nut free tortillas can do it all.

These tortillas can wrap up any meal right before your eyes – especially when bread is sometimes scarce or nowhere to be found.

I love these tortillas as a Breakfast Burrito; as a Corn Quesadilla snack; in  main course Jalapeno Chicken Enchiladas or Baked Chimichangas recipes; and even as an ingredient in a dessert when making Chocolate Raspberry Burritos with Raspberry Glaze or N’more Graham Cracker S’mores.

Another reason why these allergen-free tortillas receive BeFreeForMe’s Friday Favorite honors is that they are just 110 calories for 2 tortillas, and only about .13¢ per tortillas (the retail price I paid was $1.50 for 12 tortillas); just two more reasons why these should be a staple in any allergen or gluten-free kitchen.

With Mission White Corn tortillas… meals are simply a wrap!

WIN-It-Wednesday: Attune Probiotic Chocolate Bars

Tuesday, January 12th, 2010

I’m super excited about Attune Probiotic Chocolate Bars being this week’s sponsor of BeFreeForMe WIN-It-Wednesday.  I’m excited because these bars not only taste good… but they are good for you too!

After getting diagnosed with celiac disease I have become extra diligent about my overall health. The day after my diagnosis I decided to embrace the gluten-free diet and use it as a starting point of living a healthier and happier life. This is why I love finding products that are a healthier alternative to foods I enjoy the most…  and chocolate is at the top of this list!

The secret behind the rich, chocolaty Attune bars is that they are packed with probiotics. And in case you’re wondering, probiotics protects our bodies from harmful bacteria, strengthens our intestinal walls and helps digest fiber in our diets, so that we are able to absorb the nutrients in the foods that we eat. So, basically, these are chocolate bars that are good for you… Yes, a dream comes true!

The gluten-free Attune bars come in four different flavors: Dark Chocolate (which is my favorite), Milk Chocolate Crisp, Mint Chocolate and Blueberry Vanilla. 

Attune bars are a perfect snack to get your digestive tract on the right track – especially for those folks, like celiacs, that are concerned about overall digestive health. Plus, Attune Foods is a proud sponsor of The Celiac Disease Foundation and is committed to educating consumers & raising awareness about celiac disease and how it affects overall digestive health. Attune Bars are not only good for celiacs, but they are doing good for us too.

Just in time for New Year’s resolutions to get healthy and fit (did I mention these bars are only 80 to 90 calories each?), Attune Foods is offering FIVE (yes, 5!) LUCKY BeFreeForMe members a month’s supply of Attune gluten-free probiotic bars!

How can you WIN?


Reply to this blog and tell us what you are doing to keep healthy in this New Year (Me? I have made a commitment to do more strength-training exercises this year… and yes… my arms and legs are feeling it!) 

You must reply to this blog by Tuesday, January 19, 2010 by 12 midnight (EST) for a chance to win.


Good Luck, Stay Healthy… and as always,

Be Free!

P.S. For a limited time, Attune Foods is offering $2.00 OFF a box of the gluten-free probiotic bars too! You Can Download the Coupon Here!

Ask Shelley Case: Do Spices, Herbs & Seasonings Contain Gluten?

Monday, January 11th, 2010

Question: I love to use spices, herbs and various seasoning blends to spice up my food… but I heard they may contain gluten! Help!

Answer: A wide variety of spices and herbs are used in foods for flavoring purposes. American and Canadian food regulations differ in how they define the terms spices, herbs and seasonings. Here are some facts about the gluten-free status of these ingredients.

Spices, herbs and seeds do not contain gluten

Although anti-caking agents may sometimes be added to spices, it is often silicon dioxide, calcium silicate or sodium aluminum silica and NOT wheat flour or wheat starch. Some imitation black peppers contain other ingredients such as buckwheat hulls and ground rice in addition to black pepper. I have not found any companies using wheat as a filler in imitation pepper.

Seasonings may contain gluten

In general terms “seasonings” are a blend of flavoring agents (spices and/or herbs) which are often combined with a carrier agent such as salt, sugar, lactose, whey powder, starches or flours. The carrier agent in seasoning mixtures in gravy mixes, sauces and snack foods often contain wheat flour or wheat starch.

If a seasoning mixture/blend is sold separately as a bottled or packaged seasoning(e.g., Cajun Seasoning, Taco Seasoning Mix, etc.) the components of all the ingredients must be declared on the label. When a seasoning mixture is used in other foods it may only say “seasoning” on the label and not indicate its components. However in the USA, the FDA’s “Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act” requires that all components of ingredients when used in other foods must be declared if they contain any of the top eight allergens (including wheat). So if wheat flour or wheat starch was used in a seasoning blend it would have to be listed as “seasoning (wheat flour or wheat starch)” or “seasoning” and at the end of the ingredient list “Contains Wheat”. Also, whenever the term “seasoning” is used in the ingredient statement of a meat or poultry product, its components must be identified as a sublist.

It should be noted that, in Canada, seasoning, spice or herb mixtures, when used as ingredients in other foods are exempt from a declaration of their components. Although it is not currently required by regulation, Health Canada strongly urges manufacturers to declare components of ingredients such as seasonings if they contain allergens or gluten sources. Fortunately many companies are voluntarily labeling the components of seasonings when used in other foods. Also, Health Canada has proposed new labeling regulations entitled “Schedule No 1220- Enhanced Labelling for Food Allergen and Gluten Sources and Added Sulphites” that would make it mandatory to declare allergen and gluten sources.

The Bottom Line

If gluten sources such as wheat flour or wheat starch are used in a seasoning mixture/blend, it must be declared on the label of products sold in the USA. Although it is not yet mandatory in Canada, most companies do declare the source of the seasoning blend if it contains an allergen or gluten source. However, if a food product in Canada lists “seasonings” on a food label it is recommended to contact the company to ask if wheat is used as the carrier agent.

The above information was adapted from Gluten-Free Diet: A Comprehensive Resource Guide, Revised and Expanded Edition by Shelley Case, RD. Case Nutrition Consulting Inc.

Coffee, Tea, or Nut-Free? Air Canada Ordered to Provide a No-Nut Zone

Sunday, January 10th, 2010

The Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA) has advised Air Canada to come up with an adequate section of seats where passengers with severe nut allergies would be seated. This ruling, which must be addressed in 30 days, was determine by the CTA since passenger’s nut allergies should be considered a disability and must be accommodated by the airline.

Although Air Canada stopped serving peanuts years ago, the airline still serves cashews and other snacks that contain nuts.

My thoughts? For an airline to designate a nut-free zone on their airplanes will take very little to no extra effort or money. In fact maybe there will be more people that will decide to fly on airlines that offer these nut-free zones.

But is a nut-free section on a plane enough? Or should the whole plane become a nut-free zone?

Then comes the question of how would an airline prevent passengers from bringing their own nutty-snacks on a plane?

I think that this ruling is a step in the right direction. It addresses the severity of food allergies, and the life and death consequences of a simple snack. But, I say let’s get rid of the nutty-snacks altogether, on all airplanes and maybe someday we will all be able to fly the (nut-allergy) friendly skies!

What are your thoughts? Reply to this blog and let us know!

P.S. If you want to send an email to Air Canada contact their Customer Care department.

Friday Favorite: V-8 100% Vegetable Juice

Thursday, January 7th, 2010

Starting off the New Year eating healthy and keeping to resolutions can be tough. Sometimes it’s challenging to know exactly what to reach for that will keep your hunger at bay and your stomach from rumbling away.

This is when I reach for a bottle of V-8 100% Vegetable Juice. A 12-ounce bottle has only 70 calories, no fat, 3 grams of dietary fiber, plus 3 servings of dietary fiber. I often will buy the Low Sodium version too, which has 70% less sodium than regular V-8.

The Regular and Low Sodium V-8 Juices are marked “Gluten Free”. Regarding other allergens, their website says to check the label for allergens since they periodically may change.

I like to have to have a V-8 in the morning, after my breakfast, as a mid-morning snack.

Next time you reach for a snack that doesn’t really hit the spot… remember you “coulda had a V-8!”

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