Archive for December, 2014

Win-It-Wednesday: SamMills Gluten-Free Pasta

Tuesday, December 30th, 2014

It’s the start of the New Year and many folks are looking for new and exciting budget-friendly dinner ideas. One of my favorite ways to make a delicious dinner-on-a-budget is by using gluten-free pastas made by SamMills.

SamMill’s Pastas are made from corn. They are available in most grocery stores and come in tons of different pasta shapes… some of my favorite include Penne Rigate, Tubetti, Lasagna Corte, and Bucatini.

The SamMills Pastas are also made of 100% Natural Ingredients, are free of dairy, eggs and gluten, and are low-glycemic, GMO Free and Kosher Pave. I also love that most of pastas cook-up in about 10 minutes, so dinner can be served in a jiff.

And if you are looking for some inspiring gluten-free pasta dishes to start off this New Year check out some of our favorite pasta recipes on

Gluten-Free Pasta with Brussels Sprouts, Pancetta and Olives

Gluten-Free Rotini with Red Bell Peppers, Fresh Mozzarella & Arugula

Blackened Red Pepper and Chicken Pasta Salad

Spaghetti with Toasted Pine Nuts, Olives and Parmesan

All of the delicious pasta recipes that await being made are the reason I am so excited that this week’s Win-It-Wednesday prize is SamMills! A total of two (yes, 2!) members will be randomly selected to win a 4-pack prize of one of my favorite SamMills Pastas… the Bucatini… and for those of you that haven’t tried Bucatini yet… you must give it a try! It’s a thick spaghetti-like pasta with a hole running through the center… perfect for pestos, tomato based sauces and casseroles!

One (1) winners will be randomly selected from the entries received before Tuesday, January 6, 2015 at 11:59 PM EST, and one (1) more winner will be randomly selected to win from the entries received between Wednesday, January 7 and Tuesday, January 13, 2015 at 11:59PM. SO – make sure you enter two times to win!

How can you win?


Reply to this blog and tell us which SamMills Pasta product looks the best to you! (Is it the traditional Spaghetti, Ziti or Penne? Or maybe the more adventurous Quadrati or Lasagna Corti?) =)

Good luck, here’s to a healthy, happy and delicious New Year… and as always,

Be Free!

Holiday Gift Idea: Gluten-Free Crunchy Chex Snack Mix

Monday, December 22nd, 2014

Eeeekks! Christmas is almost here… and if you’re like me you’re still looking for those “little something” gifts that you bring to holiday parties and have on hand for last minute gifting.

My Crunchy Chex Snack Mix is the perfect hand-made gift. By giving just the key ingredients and having the recipient make the snack mix themselves by adding melted butter, the shelf-life is longer than giving a prepared mix. However, you can also prepare the mix in entirety and give the snack mix “ready-to-eat” if you want too!

This single-serve snack idea has a cute-as-a-button presentation. It’s great for anyone on a gluten-free diet  since it’s simple to prepare and enjoy in an office, dorm room, or even right at home.

The only extra two things your gift recipient will need to make this salty snack is 1 ½ tablespoons of butter (or margarine, or butter substitute). So it is quick, easy and convenient. To make things easier for the recipient for when they make the mix, you can even include the parchment paper which is needed to cool the snack mix after its been microwaved – just roll the parchment and tie it with the twine on the outside of the mason jar. Anyone you give this gift to will appreciate your crafty thoughtfulness the next time a snack attack creeps up. Enjoy and happy gluten-free gifting!

Gluten-Free Crunchy Snack Mix

Supplies Needed:

Four (4) pint sized mason jars (I painted the tops for a more finished & festive look… but not necessary)

Four (4) snack sized ziplock bags, or small zip-top bags found in a craft store

Optional: Four (4) 20” lengths of Parchment paper (I used unbleached – I like the color better!)


Four (4) shipping tags for writing directions for preparation on the back… and a cute note on the front … I like “For Gluten-Free Snack Attacks” =)

Ingredients Needed:

1 ½ cup Corn Chex

1 ½ cup Rice Chex

1 cup mini gluten-free pretzels

½ cup corn nuts (Check label for allergens)

¼ cup salted peanuts (omit if concerned with a nut allergy)

½ teaspoon (heaping) garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon (heaping) chili powder

1/4 teaspoon (heaping) black pepper

1/4 teaspoon (heaping) of Mrs. Dash Lemon-Pepper Seasoning

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon (heaping) of paprika

1 teaspoon red pepper flakes


In a large mixing bowl combine the first five (5) ingredients. Toss gently to mix and distribute evenly in the four (4) mason jars, being careful to include the peanuts and corn nuts (which may fall to the bottom of the mixing bowl) into each jar. Leave about ½” on the top of each jar.

In a small mixing bowl combine the last seven (7) ingredients. Blend well. Evenly distribute into the 4 small plastic bags. Remove air from each spice bag, and seal well. Roll up and place on top of the each jar. Fill in extra room with additional Chex mix, peanuts, pretzels or corn nuts, if desired. Place cover on tightly.

If desired, fold the parchment paper in ½ lengthwise and roll into a tube. Tie each with a bit of twine.

With additional twine add the preparation directions that are written on shipping tags. (See preparation directions below).

Preparation Directions: (Include these with the gift)

Gluten-Free Snack Mix

Ingredients Needed:

Contents of this Snack Jar

1 ½ tablespoon of butter, margarine or substitute

In a small microwave bowl, place 1 ½ tablespoons of butter (or margarine or butter substitute) and microwave for 15-30 seconds, or until melted. Add the spice packet to the melted butter and mix well.

In a large microwave safe bowl place about ½ of the snack mix and add in about ½ of the melted butter-spice blend. Toss gently until the snack mix is well coated. Add in the rest of the snack mix and butter-spice blend, and repeat. Microwave for about 3 minutes, mixing 1/2 way through cooking time.

Place the Snack Mix on the parchment paper (or cookie sheet or tin foil) and let cool. Store in Ziplock bag or airtight container.

Win-It-Wednesday: Van’s NEW Skillet Pasta Meals and Granola

Tuesday, December 16th, 2014

I love Van’s Gluten-Free Waffles. The waffle that is the perfect quick-and-easy breakfast staple at my house. That is why I was thrilled when I found out about Van’s newest products: their Whole Grain Pasta Skillet Dishes and their soft-baked Whole Grain Granola Clusters.

And just like the quality of their flagship waffles, these new products are also made with wholesome ingredients. They also contain no artificial flavors, colors or high fructose corn syrup. And they’re convenient and easy to prepare.

Plus, all these new products are Certified Gluten-Free.

Van’s Whole Grain Pasta Skillet Dinners are perfect for lunch or dinner – as a main entrée or even a side. I love that they can be prepared on the stove top in just 10 minutes, and the (suggested) retail price is $3.99 – perfect if time and money is tight. The three varieties are Rotini & Red Sauce, which is a robust marinara sauce over whole grain rotini pasta. And if you’re looking to kick the dish up a notch – toss in some cooked chicken strips and sliced black olives and add some extra protein & flavor while you’re at it!; Creamy Herb & Garlic which is a creamy whole blend of select spices and garlic tossed with a deliciouswhole grain pasta for a gourmet type pasta dish. And if your feeling creative toss in some cooked chicken and sundried tomatoes and make this a dish that everyone will love as a main course at your dinner table; and last, the Ultimate Cheddar Penne, a classic cheesy favorite your whole family will love.

The Van’s Soft-Baked Gluten-Free Granolas come in two fabulous flavors: the Blueberry Walnut and the Cranberry Almond. Both are great for breakfast, or for snacking. Try some sprinkled over Greek Yogurt, topped with fresh fruit, or just eaten by the handful. I love that these granolas are soft-baked, packed with fruit and nuts, and contain 12-grams of nutrient dense whole grains. Just check out the close up of these little soft-baked nuggets below!

Both these new product lines are simple, and tasty, and deliver the Van Food’s quality.

I am so thrilled that Van’s has come out with these new Gluten-Free Products AND is sponsoring this WIN-It-Wednesday contest on!

A total of two (yes, 2!) BeFreeForMe members will be selected to win a prize pack of these new Van’s gluten-free products. One (1) winners will be randomly selected from the entries received before Tuesday, December 23, 2014 at 11:59 PM EST, and one (1) more winner will be randomly selected to win from the entries received between Wednesday, December 24 and Tuesday, December 30, 2014 at 11:59PM. SO – make sure you enter two times to win!

How can you win?

Reply to this blog and tell us which new Van’s Gluten-Free product looks the best to you! (Me? The Creamy Herb & Garlic Pasta! Yum!)

Good luck, remember to keep things simple, yet tasty… and as always,

Be Free!

P.S. Want to be the first to know about news, giveaways, and going-on’s at Van’s Foods? Then follow Van’s Foods on Facebook!

Friday Favorite: Ore Ida Sweet Potato Fries

Thursday, December 11th, 2014

I love Sweet Potato Fries. So sweet and crispy. But up until a couple of weeks ago I have not been able to find any gluten-free Sweet Potato Fries to make at home.

Needless, I was thrilled when I saw the lettering “Gluten-Free” on the front of the package of Ore Ida Sweet Potato fries. These super crispy fries (at only 160 calories per serving) add a bit of flair when substituted for regular old French Fries. They are a great side dish to any burger, grilled chicken sandwich, steak, or even just on their own as a snack during game time. In addition, Ore Ida has over 30 products that are gluten-free.

Tasty, crispy and gluten-free… three reasons why this week’s Friday Favorite is awarded to Ore Ida Sweet Potato Fries. Cheers!

Need a cool & yummy gluten-free gift? Check out the KIND Cube

Thursday, December 11th, 2014

Need a gift for a Yankee Swap that everyone will be trading for? Looking for that perfect gift for your gluten-free best friend who deserves nothing but the best? Searching for some healthy, yet delicious, snacks to help a college student get through finals?

Well… I found the perfect gift… the KIND Cube.

I admit, at first I thought that the KIND Cube was… ahhmmm … well, just a BOX of KIND Bars – but how wrong I was. This cube is an origami-type of contraption that pops downward when opened. The sides are packed with 20 full-sized KIND Bars (5 each of the Dark Chocolate Nuts & Sea Salt, Dark Chocolate Mocha Almond, Dark Chocolate Chili Almond and the Dark Chocolate Cinnamon Pecan).

The cube is delivered in an all-black box with the KIND logo on the side. Nestled in ever so snuggly, the cube, once removed and opened, reminds me of a Jack-in-the-Box nicely waiting to surprise and fill the recipient with KIND-ness and glee.

Plus, this is the gift that keeps giving. Inside every KIND Cube is a “Kindawesome Card” – a card that the recipient can pass along to someone that makes the world more awesome through kindness. The card can be redeemed online for a handful of KIND bars.

So, if you’re looking to spread some holiday kindness (that keeps on spreading!), check out this link on Amazon to purchase the KIND Cube (and take advantage of the FREE shipping, too!)

Win-It-Wednesday: 479° Popcorn

Tuesday, December 2nd, 2014

The holidays are here and it’s time to kick up our snacking a notch or two! One of my favorite snacks of all time is popcorn. I love to put out a big bowl when I have guests and see it disappear by the handful. And if you want to add some extra special holiday flair to this go-to snack you must check out 479°  Popcorn.

This popcorn is like no other. The flavors are fun, sassy and irresistible. 479°  Popcorn is snacking at its best.

And lucky for us 479°  Popcorn has two new must-try limited-addition (get ‘em when you can!) flavors for the Holidays: Pumpkin Pecan Praline and Dark Chocolate & Bing Cherry.

The founder of 479° Popcorn, Jean Arnold, started the company because she had nothing but fond memories of fresh, organic popcorn that was made by her Mom and enjoyed with her family during cozy moments playing cards. Her mom would make the popcorn with a “sturdy stove-top popper that she’d hand crank until the kernels turned into a delightful fluffy treat.”

And over the years, and with years of culinary training, Jean started experimenting with exotic seasonings and flavorings on the same type of organic popcorn her mom popped many years before… and 479° Popcorn was born! (By the way, the name 479° Popcorn comes from Jean’s discovery that 479° is the optimal temperature for popping popcorn! See… you DO learn something new every day!)

479° Popcorn varieties are all also certified gluten-free, Non-GMO and (drum roll please!) low calorie!

Besides the two special-edition Holiday flavors, the other flavors are: The Savory flavors… Asiago, Parmesan & Cheddar; White Cheddar & Black Truffle; Creamery Butter; Sea Salt; Farmers Market Herb and Toasted Sesame & Seaweed. And the Sweet & Salty varieties include… Toasted Coconut Caramel; Sea Salt Caramel; and Chipotle Caramel & Pumpkin Seeds.

All of these savory, sweet and salty snacking reasons are why I am so thrilled that 479° Popcorn is the sponsor of this Win-It-Wednesday on

A total of three (yes, 3!) BeFreeForMe members will be selected to win 2 bags each of the two Holiday limited edition 479° flavors  (Pumpkin Pecan Praline and Dark Chocolate & Bing Cherry). Two (2) winners will be randomly selected from the entries received before Tuesday, December 9, 2014 at 11:59 PM EST, and one (1) more winner will be randomly selected to win from the entries received between Wednesday, December 10 and Tuesday, December 16, 2012 at 11:59PM. SO – make sure you enter two times to win!

How can you win?

Reply to this blog and tell us what variety of 479° Popcorn looks the best to you! (Me? I love the new Holiday flavor Pumpkin Pecan Praline… yum!)

Good luck, remember to keep your Holidays popping with good snacks… and as always,

Be Free!

P.S. Want to be the first to know about news, flavors, giveaways, and going-on’s at 479° Popcorn? Then follow 479° Popcorn on Facebook!

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