Archive for August, 2012

Friday Favorite: McCain’s Purely Potatoes

Thursday, August 30th, 2012

This week’s Friday Favorite is all about convenience. With the kids back at school, more formal meal times being planned and the car pooling kicking back into high gear – it is always good to discover products that can make our lives simpler… and tastier!

McCain’s Purely Potatoes makes meal time sides a snap. They come in three varieties that are all gluten-free and allergen-free: Whole Baby Skin-On Potatoes (made with just one ingredient – you guessed it:  Potatoes!), Russet Potato Slices and Shredded Hash Browns (both with some added Citric Acid to maintain natural color).

My favorites are the Shredded Hash Browns since there are so many ways that you can use them. You can make them into Potato Pancakes, Potato Casserole or just plain ole’ delicious hash browns for breakfast time.

The McCain’s website also has tons of recipes that use the Purely Potatoes – it’s worth checking out. A couple of the recipes I can’t wait to try are the Purely Potato Sausage and Cheese Frittata and the Purely Potatoes Pesto Potato Salad.

Simple, tasty side dishes that save on time are the reasons why this week’s Friday Favorite on goes to McCain’s Purely Potatoes. Congratulations!

Ask Shelley Case: Tomato Tips & Gluten-Free Recipe Ideas

Monday, August 27th, 2012

My garden has an abundance of tomatoes – can you give me some tips on using them, as well as some gluten-free recipe ideas?

Any way you slice them, tomatoes are a nutrition powerhouse that are so versatile in a gluten free diet. They are low in calories, rich in vitamins and minerals like potassium, vitamin A and C, as well as lycopene, an antioxidant that gives tomatoes their red color. Lycopene has been shown to play a role in lowering the risk of some cancers, particularly prostate cancer.

Another added bonus – tomatoes are delicious! Let’s face it… you can’t beat the taste of a local fresh-picked tomato! Although you have an abundance of tomatoes now, come winter you’ll be missing these juicy gems, when you can’t find a good tomato anywhere.

Here are a few tips, tricks and recipes to enjoy tomatoes now and in the months to come:

~ Start with selection: Select tomatoes that are heavy for their size, brightly colored, slightly firm and blemish free. If tomatoes are not ripe enough, place them in a paper bag and allow them to ripen at room temperature.

~ Storage: Refrigerating tomatoes stops the ripening process and kills the flavor, aroma and texture (this is why tomatoes turn mealy). Store them at room temperature instead. However, if they are very ripe they can be stored in the refrigerator.

~ Serrate them: The best way to cut tomatoes? Gently with a serrated knife to avoid crushing.

Tomato Types and Uses:
There are so many types of tomatoes it is often difficult to determine what type should be used for which purpose. Use this handy chart below to decide what tomato is best for your use or gluten-free recipe.

Type of Tomato Distinctiveness How to Use
Globe Tomatoes Most common; medium sized; mild taste; juicy Sandwiches, salsas, salads
Beefsteak/Big Boy Grows up to 1 pound or more; very juicy; lots of seeds; more acidic Sliced on sandwiches and burgers; Salsa; gluten-free pizza.
Plum (Most common type is the Roma) Oblong shaped with fewer seeds; Meatier and not juicy Great for making gluten-free tomato paste; ketchup and tomato based soups; perfect in chili and pasta dishes
Cherry Bite-sized sweeties Snacks; salad toppers; garnishes
Grape Meatier and less seeds than the Cherry variety Snacking; Veggie trays served with gluten-free dips

Think beyond the summer: Although the peak growing season for tomatoes is June through October there are ways to enjoy fresh tomatoes year-round. Here are some methods to preserving your just-picked tomatoes:

~ Canning: Canning has become very popular once again over the past several years. Check out the canning tomato tips from Canadian Living Magazine.

~ Freezing: Freezing tomatoes is a simple way to enjoy tomatoes off-season for casseroles, soups and chili.  Start by thoroughly washing the tomatoes, and dipping them in boiling water for about 30-45 seconds to loosen the skins. Remove from the water – peel and remove the core. Cut into pieces or leave whole and pack into freezer bags. Remove excess air and seal tight. Remember, when thawed the tomatoes will be slightly mushy so they are best used in casseroles and soups.

~ Cook recipes and freeze to enjoy later:
Salsas and sauces freeze up nicely and are the perfect quick and easy start to hectic weekday dinners. Whip up a quick batch of Fresh Pomodoro (Tomato) Sauce today and enjoy over gluten-free pasta once school starts!

Need some healthy recipe ideas using fresh tomatoes or tomato sauce? Check out these links:

Mediterranean Cod with Olives & Feta
Sautéed Chicken with Fresh Tomatoes & Basil

Cilantro-Lime Halibut with Fresh Tomatoes

Chicken Cacciatore (Pollo alla Cacciatora)

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

Friday Favorite: Ocean Spray Craisins

Thursday, August 23rd, 2012

I love cranberries. Growing up in Southeastern Massachusetts we had cranberry bogs everywhere. Cranberries are a staple in my diet. Always have been and always will.

Maybe that’s why Craisins are a must in my gluten-free diet. Made by Ocean Spray these real fruit berries are the sweetest way ever to eat a cranberry.

I like to top my salads with Craisins, sprinkle them on baked chicken breasts stuffed with goat cheese, or add a handful into Gluten-Free Oatmeal Cookies. The ideas are endless.

Naturally gluten-free, peanut free and containing no artificial colors, flavors or preservatives, Craisins are perfect for snacking too. Craisins are also a good source of fiber, which is an added bonus.

All these delicious & healthy reasons are why Ocean Spray Craisins are awarded this week’s Friday Favorite on Cheers!

Win-It-Wednesday: Musco Family Olive Company Prize Pack

Tuesday, August 21st, 2012

I love, love, love this week’s WIN-It-Wednesday sponsor on – Musco Family Olive Company.

First of all, olives are one of my all time favorite foods. Ask any of my friends. Olives are by far one of my first go-to snacks and also a quick and easy appetizer. What’s not to love about a big plate full of olives being shared with friends? No cooking, no grilling, no fussing, no mixing. Just olives. Pure and simply good.

Musco Family Olive Company makes some of the best olives around. No wonder they’re the leading supplier of olives in America. Most of us recognize their super-fun logo of a hand with olive-topped fingers – something that my sisters and I use to do with the olives in my Mom’s “relish dish” when we were younger (and o.k., I admit, maybe not so younger too!). To add to the story, we thought is was super amusing that we had an Aunt Olive (No lie). Every holiday my sisters and I would vie to ask “Aunt Olive… would like an olive?” To this day we still laugh about that. I’m convinced that the only reason we left some olives in that relish dish was so that we had a chance to offer poor Aunty an olive. =)

Besides bringing back memories, I love Musco Family Pearls and Early California Olives (depending on the store you will find one or the other) because they are gluten-free, all-natural, vegan and kosher. They also have some great recipes on their website.

Musco Family Olive Company offers a wide variety of olives, and just recently came out with two new product lines. The first new line is Fresh Cured Olives that are hand-picked and then cured immediately to retain their firm texture & natural color. The second line is a Reduced Salt offering that features pimento stuffed olives, with 75% less salt, and black pitted olives, with 25% less salt, than their traditional counterparts. So many people will benefit from these reduced salt olives.

All these healthy, delicious, and fun reasons are why I am so thrilled that Musco Family Olive Company is this week’s Win-It-Wednesday sponsor on

And check out the BeFreeForMe Win-It-Wednesday Musco Family Prize Pack! It is AWESOME!  A total of two (2) BeFreeForMe members will be selected to win this Prize Pack that is packaged so pretty and perfect! Each Prize Pack contains the following:

•    1 can Early California Fresh Cured Green Olives
•    1 can Pearls Fresh Cured Green Olives
•    1 can Early California Reduced Salt Black Olives
•    1 can Pearls Reduced Salt Black Olives
•    1 Jar Early California Reduced Salt Pimento Stuffed Olives
•    1 Jar Pearls Reduced Salt Pimento Stuffed Olives
•    1 Musco Family Olive Company can opener
•    Musco Toothpicks and napkins

One winner will be randomly selected from the entries received before Tuesday, August 28, 2012 at 11:59 PM EST, and one more winners will be randomly selected to win from the entries received between Wednesday, August 29 and Tuesday, September 4, 2012 at 11:59 PM. SO – make sure you enter to win two times!

How can you win?

Reply to this blog and let us know your favorite way to eat olives or your favorite olive memory. Is it in a recipe? By the handful? Sprinkled over a salad? Did your Mom have a relish dish too? Please let us know! (Another one of my fond olive memories is a Cream Cheese and Olive Sandwich… did anyone else get those as kids?)

Good luck, remember that fun is usually right at your fingertips … and as always,
Be Free!

Keep in touch and follow Musco Family Olive Companies on Facebook!

Friday Favorite: Alo Drink – 100% All Natural Gluten-Free Aloe Vera Pulp & Juice

Thursday, August 16th, 2012

Today’s Friday Favorite on is awarded to Alo Drinks. Made with 100% All Natural Aloe Vera pulp and juice this gluten-free drink is the perfect way to naturally hydrate. Aloe Vera is also naturally rich with amino acids, minerals and vitamins.

Alo Drinks uses real aloe vera juice made straight from the leaf, never from powder. Along with the aloe, these drinks are blended with just enough all-natural flavors to give each variety a unique and flavorful taste. My favorites are the Aloe with Pineapple + Guava + Seabuckthorn Berry and the Aloe with Pomegranate + Cranberry.

I love the flavor combos, the little pieces of pulp and all the glorious & healthy reasons to start drinking aloe… every day!

Cheers Alo Drinks for being this week’s Friday Favorite on!

Want to Buy Alo Drinks? Check out this link on

Free Webinar: What You Need to Know About Cross-Contamination in Restaurants

Wednesday, August 15th, 2012

I wanted to let everyone know of a great webinar that is being offered this week on Thursday, 08/16/12. It is being sponsored by the good folks over at the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness (NFCA) and is focusing on cross-contamination in restaurants and what we need to know.

This is an on-line webinar (aka: easy to attend) and is FREE! (What’s not to love about that?). The session will focus on three components: Education, Empowerment and Advocacy (which are also the cornerstone of the NFCA mission).

Cross Contamination in restaurants is such an important topic to learn about and take control of, yet it is something that many with celiac disease and other food allergies or intolerances fail to recognize as an enormous and significant threat when it comes to our health.

I am excited to attend this webinar and invite you to join me!

Want to attend? Click this link to sign up.

Friday Favorite: The Spice Hunter Seasonings

Thursday, August 9th, 2012

We’re really going to spice things up a bit for this week’s Friday Favorite. Being grilling season and all, I love to shake up my ho-hum grilling every once in awhile and season up my chicken, meat and veggie’s with a little spicy love.

That is when I go for my collection of The Spice Hunter Seasonings.

The Spice Hunter spices and spice blends are gluten-free (with the one exception of Grill Shakers Rib Seasoning) so the varieties to try are endless.

Some of my favorite spice blends for the BBQ are the Salt-Free Varieties and include the Cowboy BBQ Rub, Jamaican Jerk Blend and the Mesquite Seasoning blend. These blends are all natural, kosher and contain no MSG or preservatives. Using these flavorful and zesty spice blends adds a zip to your food with no salt at all! An added bonus: Using spices is healthy way to add flavor to foods without adding extra fat or calories.

Spice Hunter Seasonings is awarded this week’s Friday Favorite on BeFreeForMe because they add a spicy kick, as well as a sassy & sensational flavor to any barbeque… all without adding any extra fat or calories. Congratulations!

Want to Buy? Check out these links on
Jamaican Jerk Blend

Mesquite Blend

Cowboy BBQ Rub

Win-It-Wednesday: Sahale Crunchers – Gluten-free Snacks!

Tuesday, August 7th, 2012

This week’s Win-It-Wednesday on is sponsored by Sahale Crunchers, the newest gluten-free product made by Sahale Snacks – a company that makes some of my favorite gluten-free snacks.

And although the new Crunchers can be eaten as a crunchy snack… they are so very much more. These snacks are versatile. They are perfect by-the-handful, but also as a secret ingredient that can pack a flavorful and crunchy punch to any cup of yogurt, cereal, veggies, pasta and recipes too.

Almonds are one of my go-to snacks when I need a burst of protein to get me through the day, that’s why I was excited when I discovered these lightly salted sliced almonds that are combined with awesome spices and fruit combinations.

These snacks kick my love of almonds up a few notches!

Sahale Crunchers come in three (3) amazing flavors: Almonds, with Cherry, Apples + Maple – which is perfect blended with vanilla yogurt or sprinkled over French Toast; Almonds with Cranberries, Sesame Seeds + Honey – a perfect combo that is phenomenal used as a crunchy topping on gluten-free muffins right before baking or sprinkled on my gluten-free oatmeal; and Almonds with Parmesan Cheese & Herbs – can you say ‘yum’ as a crunching flavorful salad topping?

Sahale products are all made in a gluten-free facility too.

All the flavors and the mouthwatering possibilities that await them are the reasons why I am super excited to announce that Sahale Crunchers are this week’s WIN-It-Wednesday on

Two lucky winners will each win a prize pack of Sahale Crunchers. The prize pack consists of three bags of Sahale Crunchers (one of each flavor), recipe cards, a recipe stand, a bowl and spoon.

How can you win?


Reply to this blog and let us know which of the three flavors of the new Sahale Crunchers sounds the best to you. And if you’d like, also share how you plan on eating them (maybe to add a crunch to your famous gluten-free coffee cake? Toss over the top of your baked green bean casserole? Or maybe even simply eaten by the glorious handful?)

One luck winner will be randomly chosen from the entries received before Tuesday, 08/14/12 at 11:59 PM EST and a second winner will be randomly chosen from all entries received between Wednesday, 08/15/12 – 12:00 AM EST and Tuesday 08/21/12 –  12:00 midnight EST.

Make sure you enter twice to win!

Good luck, enjoy crunch time…

And as always,
Be Free!

Like Sahale on Facebook for more recipe ideas, promotions and fun!

Follow Sahale on Twitter for instant updates and more!

Want to buy Sahale Crunchers now? Check out these links on
Sahale Snacks Crunchers, Cherries, Apples + Maple, 4-Ounce
Sahale Snacks Crunchers, Cranberries, Sesame Seeds + Honey, 4-Ounce
Sahale Snacks Crunchers, Parmesan Cheese + Herbs, 4-Ounce

Out-of-the-Blue Gluten-Free Blueberry Crumble

Friday, August 3rd, 2012

Rushing back to the office one day last week, I caught a glimpse of some wording on a beat up tattered sign on the side of a country road right at my town’s edge.

Blueberries. Pick Your Own.


And at that time, all the hurries and hassles of getting back to the office went out to the wild blue yonder.  I realized that the contentment of being a little girl and blueberry picking on a hot summer day with my mom and two sisters in southeastern Massachusetts (read more about that in this blog post) could be renewed from a memory to a reality.

And just like that, out of the blue, my day went from fanatic to fantastic.

Before I knew it I was out in the blueberry field, picking and plopping, picking and plopping, one glorious berry at a time into my bucket while dreaming of a yummy, quick & easy gluten-free dessert to make for dinner that night.

After all, a girl does need to be rewarded for her efforts once in awhile. =)

While waiting my turn to pay for my bounty (by the way it was an “honor-system” pay system. How honestly cool is that?) I realized I was rested, relaxed, and had accomplished a ton. Well, not exactly a ton – but 2 whole pounds of blueberries.

My dessert creation ended up being a Gluten-Free Blueberry Crumble adapted from a recipe I found in my recipe box from years and years ago.

The result: A wonderful ending to an out-of-the-blue absolutely perfect fantastic day.


Out-of-the-Blue Gluten-Free Blueberry Crumble
Best made with fresh picked blueberries… serve topped with fresh whipped cream or vanilla bean ice cream.

Crumble Crust and Top:
1 cup plain, unsalted almonds
2 cups gluten-free flour blend (like Jule’s Gluten-Free Blend, Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-Free Flour Blend or
King Arthur Gluten-Free Multi-Purpose Flour )
½ cup, plus 1 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
¾ cup of chilled butter, cut into small pieces

½ cup granulated sugar
1 ½ tablespoons corn starch
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 pints fresh blueberries – washed, dried and stemmed

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Place the almonds on a cookie sheet and place in the pre-heated oven for about 10 minutes to roast. During the cooking time, toss to turn the nuts.

Remove nuts from the oven and increase the oven temperature to 450 degrees F.

Place the roasted almonds in a food processor or blender. Process the nuts until finely ground (about 10 seconds) being careful not to process too much (or you’ll end up with Almond Butter!)

In a large bowl, mix together the ground almonds, gluten-free flour, sugar and the cinnamon. Cut in the chilled butter pieces until crumbly using two forks and / or your fingers.

Using you fingers, press half of the crumbs on the bottom and up the sides of an 8 to 9” tart or pie plate. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, mix together the sugar, cornstarch and cinnamon. Next, very carefully blend in the blueberries, taking care not to smoosh the berries. Evenly spoon the blueberry mixture into the crust.

Sprinkle the top with the remaining crumbles. Bake in the 450 degree F preheated oven for about 25 minutes, watching very carefully the last 5 minutes of cooking time since the edges will brown quickly!

Serve warm with fresh whipped cream or vanilla bean ice cream.

Friday Favorite: Gluten-Free and Nut-Free Mint Cups (from Sun Cups)

Thursday, August 2nd, 2012

I love Reese Peanut Butter Cups. I love York Peppermint Patties. And merging these two flavors together into one awesome, organic, gluten-free and nut-free Sun Cup is pure bliss. Pure high-quality dark chocolate, minty and nut-free perfection.

These rich and creamy Reese-Peanut-Butter-Cup-Like candies are made with Sunflower Butter, instead of Peanut Butter – so they are nut-free (peanut & tree nut) as well as gluten-free too (their facilities are nut and gluten free). They are also organic. Gotta love Sun Cups!

These minty melt in your mouth marvels (say that 5 times fast!) are this week’s Friday Favorite on since they are rich, creamy and free of nuts and gluten. Congratulations Sun Cups!

Where to buy the Mint Sun Cups? Check out the following links:
Sun Cups Dark Chocolate Mint

Sun Cups – Dark Chocolate

Sun Cups – Milk Chocolate

Sun Cups Milk Chocolate, Caramel Swirl Cups

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