Archive for February, 2011

Friday Favorite: evol Fire Grilled Steak Bowl

Thursday, February 24th, 2011

It’s not very often that I can’t stop talking about how good something is as I am eating it, all the while savoring each and every single bite… But the evol Fire Grilled Steak Bowl has me still thinking and talking about my dinner last night.

I love (or spelled backwards – evol – coincidence?) this quick and easy microwavable lunch or dinner… any way you look at it.

Packed with 21 grams of protein and 8 grams of fiber this gluten-free meal is “made from scratch deliciousness” just like the packaging says.

At first I was leery. A microwavable meal with beef in it? How would it taste? Would the beef be recognizable? But as soon as I opened up the packaging I could see the real pieces of tender beef – which is antibiotic free, never fed growth hormones and sustainably raised by family farms. The beef tastes exactly like beef I would cook up myself.

The other ingredients in the nutritious evol Fire Grilled Steak Bowl reads like a shoppers list at a Farmer’s Market… Black Beans, Rice, Bell Peppers, Cilantro Lime Pesto, Corn, Monterey Jack Cheese, Lime Juice, Cilantro, Salt & Spices.

In fact, this bowl comes so close to one of my restaurant favorites – Chipotle beef bowls.

Plus, in each package of evol products comes a fun evol sticker that enables you to spread your love of their products. Also, if you save up the UPC codes off the packages you can get a fun evol t-shirt. Looks like my t-shirt will be coming mighty fast!

My love of the fresh taste and convenience are the reasons evol Fire Grilled Steak Bowl get, without a second thought, this week’s BeFreeForMe’s Friday favorite honors! Congratulations!

WIN-It-Wednesday: New York Style Risotto Chips

Tuesday, February 22nd, 2011

Want some gluten-free chips that will be gone in a New York minute? Then try New York Style Risotto Chips!

If you’re on a gluten-free diet, or just looking for a good healthy chip alternative, these delicious chips are worth checking out!

What I like the most about the New York Style Risotto Chips is that they’re great for dipping into gluten-free dips, or enjoyed all by themselves. Made of Arborio rice (the same rice that Risotto is made with) these chips are packed with 11 grams of whole grains – plus they taste delicious.

And all of us over here at BeFreeForMe aren’t the only ones chatting up this new chip: New York Style Risotto Chips are also featured in the January/February 2011 Food Network Magazine , on The Rachael Ray Show, and also on the Lifetime Network’s The Balancing Act as a “delicious gluten-free snack”. But see for yourself what all the buzz is about… Pick-up a bag of New York Style Risotto Chips and you’ll eat ’em like they’re going out of style!

New York Style Risotto Chips comes in three varieties: Parmesan & Roasted Garlic, Sea Salt, and my personal favorite Spicy Marinara.

And lucky for all of us, New York Style Risotto Chips are BeFreeForMe’s WIN-It-Wednesday sponsor for the next two weeks! Six lucky winners (3 winners each week) will win a jam-packed gift full of a variety of New York Style Risotto Chips. Enough for you – and enough to share!

How can you win?

Reply to this blog post and tell us what “style” (or flavor) of  the New York Style Risotto Chips sound the best to you  and/or your most memorable style or fashion! (Me? My most unforgettable style was my blue “wet-look” leather  vest when I was in kindergarten! Talk about styling… I loved that thing!)  .

Make sure you enter to win twice. Once before March 1, 2011 (12 midnight EST) and another between March 2 and March 8, 2011 (12 midnight EST).

Good Luck, Keep Stylin’ and as always…

Be Free!

A Soft Gluten-Free Pretzel Recipe That’s a Winner: Watch out Fenway Park!

Monday, February 21st, 2011

The snow is thawing, the days are getting longer – and our beloved Red Sox have started to practice down in Fort Myers: All true signs that Spring is surely on the way.

And with every thought of another World Series pennant and warm evenings spent at Fenway Park, I can’t help myself from yearning a hot & fresh soft pretzel sprinkled with salt and smothered in yellow mustard – one of the things I miss the most since going gluten free.

So I got my measuring cups, bowls and thinking-cap out and started playing around in the kitchen to come up with a gluten-free soft pretzel recipe that would rival any ball parks concession stand – and came up with this winning recipe. I think you’ll find it a home run too.

ADDITIONAL NOTE: So many (and I mean tons!) of people have contacted me about purchasing the Pamela’s Gluten-Free Bread Mix to make these pretzels. For quick and easy ordering, check out this link for ordering the mix on Amazon:

Pamela’s Products Wheat-Free & Gluten-Free Bread Mix, 19-Ounce Packages (Pack of 6)

Or for a larger size check out this link:  Pamela’s Products Amazing Wheat Free & Gluten-free Bread Mix, 4-Pound Bags (Pack of 3)

BeFreeForMe’s Gluten-Free Soft Pretzel Recipe

One 19-ounce package of Pamela’s Gluten-Free Bread Mix (includes the yeast packet)
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
½ teaspoon salt
1 1/3 cup warm water
¼ cup canola oil

For boiling pretzels:
10 cups of water
½ cup of baking soda

For brushing on pretzels:
1 egg
1 ½ tablespoon milk

Butter or margarine, for lightly greasing parchment paper

Some ideas for sprinkling on pretzels:
Pretzel salt / Kosher salt / Sea salt
Cinnamon and Sugar
Parmesan cheese
Sesame seeds
Poppy seeds
Garlic Salt

In a large bowl combine together the bread mix, the enclosed yeast packet, sugar, ½ teaspoon salt, 1 1/3 cup of water and the canola oil. Using a stand mixer, mix for about 3 minutes (or carefully using a hand-blender, on lowest speed, blend until almost blended. Note: Be very careful since the dough will be sticky so it will require a constant stopping of the blender to remove dough from the attachments. After blending, remove from the bowl and knead by hand on a surface dusted with gluten-free flour or corn starch until well combined.

Next, divide the dough into seven equal portions. Working one portion at a time and using the palms of your hands, roll the dough into 18″ to 22 inch “snake-like” lengths. Next make the length of dough into a “U” shape (Figure 1). Cross over the top ends (Figure 2) – and then bring them back towards yourself, to make a pretzel like shape (Figure 3). After each pretzel is made, place on a parchment lined baking sheet.

Let pretzels sit, unrefrigerated for about 1 to 1 ½ hours.

When ready to cook, preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

In a large sauce pan or crock pot, bring 10 cups of water combined with the baking soda to a boil. Using a slotted basket (or a large slotted spoon) place each pretzel – one at a time – into the boiling water for about 40 seconds. Remove the pretzel from the boiling water, and place them side-by-side on a baking sheet, that is covered with parchment paper which has been lightly greased with butter or margarine.

In a small bowl whisk together the egg and the milk.

Pat each pretzel dry and brush with the egg and milk combination. Next, sprinkle with your choice of topping. (Some ideas: Kosher / pretzel salt, cinnamon & sugar, Parmesan cheese, sesame seeds, poppy seeds).

Bake in the oven just about 15 minutes – or until pretzels are browned.

Serve immediately. Note: Serve with yellow mustard or other dipping sauce if desired.

Makes 7 pretzels.

Friday Favorite: Slice of Life Vitamins

Thursday, February 17th, 2011

Gummy vitamins for adults? What’s NOT to love!

This week’s BeFreeForMe’s Friday Favorite is Slice of Life Vitamin’s – gummy vitamins for adults!

I love the Slice of Life Vitamins, made by Hero Nutritionals, because they are easy to take, and taste great. Free of gluten, casein, milk, egg, soy, peanuts, tree nuts, shellfish, as well as, salt, artificial flavors & colors, and preservatives.

These vitamins come in a few varieties depending on your needs. Some varieties are Vitamin C & Pomegranate, Multi & Lycopene (which is my favorite), Energy & B12, and the newest variety (and one I can’t wait to try) a Vitamin D3 variety.

Hero Nutritional also makes chewy vitamins for teens and kids too. Whoot-woo! What a fantastic product for kids who don’t want to take their vitamins! Say Hello to chewy fun Yummi Bear vitamins & Buh-Bye to begging kids to swallow gigantic vitamins!

The Hero Nutritional vitamins get BeFreeForMe’s Friday Favorite honors because they taste great and are a fun way for you and your family to get your daily dose of vitamins… gluten and allergen free!

Friday Favorite: Vermont Soap Organics

Thursday, February 10th, 2011

With the winter in full swing, and Mother Nature batting 100%, and hitting homerun storms all season long, my skin seems to be getting drier and drier.

Most commercial soaps make my skin feel even drier and itchy, so at a suggestion of a friend I checked out the bar soaps over at Vermont Soap Organics.

Free of artificial colors, fragrances and preservatives, these handmade soaps are super-mild. They are made from a hypo-allergenic base of organic coconut, palm, olive and palm kernel oils, and scented with all-natural essential oils and extracts.

My favorite is the Honey Soap, but I am looking forward to trying the Lavender Swirl and the Citrus Sunrise next (can you tell I’m already thinking SPRING?)

After checking out the Vermont Soap Organics website, I discovered they also make a yoga mat wash, as well as a fruit & veggie wash too. A few other things I think I may try!

All natural, homemade goodness that makes you feel fresh, clean & beautiful – inside and out – are the reasons why this week’s BeFreeForMe Friday Favorite goes to Vermont Soap Organics.

WIN-It-Wednesday: Beanitos Chips (Plus BONUS Visa Gift Cards!)

Tuesday, February 8th, 2011

Beanitos Chips are a snack lovers dream come true! Beanitos are chips that fill you up with real, healthy and nutritious ingredients, which make them a delicious and smart alternative to corn and potato chips.

Beanitos are also lab tested and certified gluten-free (less than 3ppm), as well as free of corn, potato and soy.

When I first tried Beanitos I couldn’t believe they were actually made from beans. Chips made from beans? But after one chip, I was sold. Crunchy and flavorful Beanitos come in four flavors… Black Bean, Chipotle BBQ Black Bean, Cheddar Cheese Pinto Bean and my favorite, Pinto Bean & Flaxseed.

This got me scratching my head and wondering – why beans? Why make chips out of beans? Well, according to the folks over at Beanitos, it’s no secret that beans are loaded with health benefits – high in fiber, protein and complex carbohydrates – but are sadly underused in the typical U.S. diet. So they decided to give us all our daily dose of healthy, nutritious beans in a fun, crunchy and tasty chip! Obviously, the folks over at Beanitos used their “beans” to come up with this great tasting chip.

Because these chips are made from beans they contain 5 grams of fiber per ounce – this is why they fill you up and leave you feeling more satisfied than the regular old boring potato, corn or wheat based chips. They are also low-glycemic, which is important since low-glycemic foods contributes to good health and can help curb obesity, diabetes, cancer and heart disease!

Now the question I am sure that some of you are wondering but are too shy to ask in a comment on this blog post … Ahemmm … here goes… “Will eating Beanitos give me gas, toots, stinkers, wind, passing of gas — or whatever you may call it?”  Well – the answer is NO! Beanitos will NOT give you gas. Beanitos developed a natural proprietary process that eliminates the common side effects some people associate with eating beans or bean-based products. So… round up your friends and share a bag!

For all these wonderful reasons – We are thrilled that Beanitos is this week’s sponsor of BeFreeForMe’s WIN-It-Wednesday. FOUR (Yes 4!) lucky BeFreeForMe members will receive an assortment of Beanitos Chips, PLUS a Bonus $15 Visa Gift Card!

How can you win?

Reply to this blog post and tell us how you use your “bean” to stay healthy and fit.  (Me? I schedule exercise into my week – and treat that time like I would a very important appointment or meeting – so I don’t break my promise to myself to work-out!)

There are also TWO chances to WIN these WIN-It-Wednesday prizes. One is between Wednesday, February 9 and Tuesday, February 15th  (12 Midnight EST) and the second is between Wednesday, February 16th and Tuesday, February 22th (12 Midnight EST). Two winners will randomly be selected each week. So make sure you respond two times to this post!

Good Luck, Use your bean… But follow your heart… and as always,
Be Free!

Ask Shelley Case: Using Almonds in Gluten-Free Baking & Cooking – A Healthy Addition!

Monday, February 7th, 2011

Question: I’ve been hearing so much about using almond flour, almond meal and almonds in gluten-free baking & cooking. Can you tell me more? It would be great if you could provide some recipes too!

Answer: Almond flour is made from blanched ground almonds. Almond meal is made from natural ground almonds with the skin on and has a coarser texture than almond flour.  Both are very nutritious and are high in fiber, protein, and other nutrients such as vitamin E, magnesium and manganese.  This is especially important because many of the gluten-free flours and starches such as white rice flour and starches (tapioca, potato and corn) are low in protein, iron, B vitamins and fiber.

Almond flour and almond meal can be found pre-packaged- available in grocery or natural food stores, from various gluten-free companies and internet stores. You can also grind your own in a small coffee grinder or food processor using blanched or natural almonds. Be sure to grind finely as possible but be careful not to over process or you will end up with almond butter! Due to its higher fat content remember to store almond flour or meal in a tightly sealed container in the refrigerator or freezer to keep it fresh.

Using almond flour/meal in baking adds a rich texture, nutty flavor and nice golden color to baked goods. But thinking beyond baking, almond flour/meal also makes a great gluten-free coating for chicken, meat, fish or seafood.

In addition to almond flour or meal – almond butter, almond milk and almonds (whole, sliced, slivered) are great additions to the gluten-free diet. There are many ways to enjoy the benefits of almonds, and numerous ways to incorporate them into your diet. And don’t forget… almonds are also a great way to boost your breakfast’s nutritional value!

I have been delighted to work with the Almond Board of California to develop these gluten-free resources for health professionals and consumers. Anyone concerned with the gluten-free diet will find them very informative and worth checking out.

Being February, the month designated for heart health, in both the United States and Canada, it is also important to note the benefits of almond in contributing to heart health.

Almonds are a smart choice for baking for Valentines Day. So makes sure you check out this delicious cake recipe – perfect for Valentine’s Day – from Carol Fenster:

Carol Fenster’s Flourless Chocolate Cake

Ask Shelley Case is a feature of It is published the second Tuesday of each month. Shelley Case is a Registered Dietitian, Consulting Dietitian, Speaker and Author of Gluten-Free Diet: A Comprehensive Resource Guide. Visit Shelley and get more gluten-free tips & info at:

Eat Your Heart Out Fanny Farmer: Gluten & Allergen Free Valentine Candy Ideas

Sunday, February 6th, 2011

When I was a little girl my dad would come home from work every Valentine’s Day with one big red heart for my Mom and three more mini-versions for me and my sisters, all jammed packed with assortment of chocolate candies.

These are sweet memories. I’m not sure if it was the way these chocolates were presented, each in their own little brown paper holder, nestled side-by-side inside this shiny heart or the fact that these chocolates were a gift from my dad – but these Fanny Farmers were the best chocolates in the whole wide world.

But as Forrest Gump reminds us, “Life is like a box of chocolates… you never know what you’re gonna get”, and in our worlds what we’ve “got” are things like Celiac disease, nut allergies, dairy allergies and other food intolerances. These are the things that life throws our way that sometimes make the red heart moments in life a little more challenging.

But luckily for us, there are companies out there that make gluten and allergen free chocolates that are excellent – companies like gluten-free Angell Crisp Bars, nut, egg & dairy free  Divvies and gluten and allergen friendly Enjoy Life Foods. Also, be sure to check out this blog post on BeFreeForMe that lists resources to help you find candy that is free of gluten and other allergens.

The BeFreeForMe staff has also come up with recipes for delicious Valentine Day candies to make yourself, or with your loved ones, at home. Making Valentine Day candies is easy, fun and doesn’t require any fancy equipment.  These recipes include Chocolate Candy Clusters and many more that will be featured this whole week on the BeFreeForMe website.

So enjoy all these Valentine Day candy ideas – I promise they’ll taste just as good as those that come in those red valentine hearts… Cross my heart.

Friday Favorite: Nut-Free & Gluten-Free Sun Cups

Thursday, February 3rd, 2011

I discovered these phenomenal Sun Cups last Fall at the Natural Products Expo in Boston, and it was love at first bite.

These Reese-Peanut-Butter-Cup-Like candies are made with Sunflower Butter, instead of Peanut Butter…  and are to die for. These rich and creamy Sun Cups are also nut-free (peanut & tree nut) and gluten-free too. These delights are made with melt in your mouth chocolate and are also organic.

Sun Cups come in Milk and Dark Chocolate, and are perfect for Valentine’s Day. They come two cups in a package… just right for sharing with your love.

Rich, creamy and melt in your mouth goodness are some reason this week’s BeFreeForMe’s Friday Favorite goes to peanut-free and gluten-free Sun Cups!

Where to buy? Check out the following link:
Sun Cups, Sunflower Butter with Milk Chocolate, 1.5-Ounce Packages (Pack of 20)

The Perfect 10-Day Fix: The Livefreeda $229 Starter Kit

Tuesday, February 1st, 2011

I am currently planning a visit with my parents this winter in Bonita Springs, Florida (YES…. I have had ENOUGH of this New England Snow!). And for those like me on a gluten-free diet planning the trip involves more that making airlines reservations and packing-up bathing suits and warm weather clothes.  I also have to be concerned with planning what I am going to eat once I get there. But now, instead of packing up gluten-free foods, or shipping it down ahead of time (and spending tons of shipping fees), LiveFreeda has come to our rescue!

LiveFreeda has just come out with a Starter Kit that includes 10 full days of great tasting gluten-free products, like Amy’s Enchiladas, Applegate Chicken Nuggets, Gluten-Freeda oatmeal, and Udi’s Multigrain bread. In total there are about 23 items for anytime of day… breakfast, lunch, dinner, desserts and snacks.

These kits are not only great for those who are traveling, going to camp, or students – they are also great for those who have just been diagnosed with Celiac Disease and don’t know where to start; a nutritionist or dietician who needs to refer a easy-to-follow “starter plan” for someone just new to the gluten-free diet; or even someone who has been on the gluten-free diet for awhile, but needs about a weeks worth of convenient meals due to a upcoming hectic schedule.

The Livefreeda Starter Kit contains a range of products that can be integrated with your regular meal planning to provide you with ten full meals, lunches, breakfasts and snacks.

The meals are also between 1500-1800 calories per day and are shipped for free – just a couple of extra bonuses worth mentioning.

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