Local Dairy – Good for our environment, health and economy

October 15th, 2014

It’s that time of year when the weather is perfect here in Boston. The air’s crisp, the sun’s warmth is worthy of extended smiles towards the sky and the colorful leaves provide the backdrop of color reminiscent of a photo in any old-time New Englander’s October calendar page.

But it comes as no surprise that sometimes in the hustle and bustle of daily life I often don’t stop, take the time for that deep breath of refreshing air, close my eyes, look-up and give an all-out ear-to-ear smile.

But this past week I was given that chance. I was able to break-out of my stuffy office and experience firsthand how a small local dairy farm, Hornstra Dairy Farm in Norwell, Massachusetts, contributes to New England’s economy, health, environment and community. Thanks to the New England Dairy Promotion Board, myself and several other Boston area bloggers & foodies (Kara from The Foodie Dietician; Julia from Juggling with Julia; Liz from Meal Makeover Moms; Jen from Edible Boston; Julia from The Department of Agriculture for the State of Massachusetts) were invited to tour Hornstra Dairy Farm, named Massachusetts 2013 Dairy Farm of the Year. Not only was it a welcoming break from the 9-to-5 in the office, but it was an inspirational and enlightening way to learn first-hand about local dairy farming, and most importantly why local dairy farming is an integral part of our lives.

The tour was guided by John Hornstra, proprietor of this farm that has been a family-owned and operated business for four generations. John walked us through the start (milking) to the finish of the dairy production at his farm. (Our end of the tour treat? An impromptu morning ice cream party… *cough* *cough* … a little ice cream in the morning never hurt anyone, right?)

Although I learned that each cow is named (Yes, I met a few new friends named Meredith, Kathy, and J. Low) and milked, loved and treated humanely 365 days a year and the farms milk processing, pasteurization process and final products are top-notch (the Vat Pasteurization method is used during the processing of their milk), the biggest impression that John had on me during the tour was the Hornstra Dairy Farm’s legacy to commitment, quality and the love of New England’s families, environment and economy.

And although I don’t consider myself a city-slicker, after my visit to Hornstra Dairy Farm I now truly appreciate local dairy farmers, the beauty of their open spaces, the local culture, and everything that my beloved New England dairy farmers offers to make my family’s lives, health and well-being, well … just a better place to live. And that’s another reason for us all to give an all-out ear-to-ear smile.

Looking for some delicious gluten-free recipes using fresh dairy products? Check out these recipes from myself and fellow bloggers:

Tomato Salsa with Sharp Cheddar & Black Olive Crostini from BeFreeForMe.com

Pear & Maple Yogurt Cups from Must Be The Milk

Salted Caramel Peanut Butter Apple Dip from Kara at the Foodie Dietician

Peach Berry Milkshakes from Julia at Juggling with Julia

Sunday Morning Frittata from Edible Boston

Autumn Apple Quinoa Salad from Liz at Meal Makeover Moms

Friday Favorite: Gorton’s Seafood Gluten-Free Grilled Haddock

October 9th, 2014

My, oh my! Helloooo Gorton’s Fisherman!  I was pleasantly surprised when I was strolling through the frozen food section of my local Target store and found Gorton Seafood’s Gluten-Free Grilled Haddock. The fisherman on the front of the box brought back flash-backs of dinner time when I was a kid, when my Mom would make me and my sisters fish sticks for supper. So, for nostalgias sake, I just had to give these gluten-free counterparts a try.

If you’re looking for a quick (cooks for only 14-16 minutes in your 350 degree oven) and tasty dinner these gluten-free fish fillets are perfect.

These fish fillets have only 80 calories per servings  (though I do admit… I ate two servings with my dinner.) They also have no MSG, artificial colors or flavors, and are made with 100% wild-caught haddock.

I tried the Signature Grilled, but there are also a ton more gluten-free flavors that Gorton’s makes. I’ll be trying these out these other flavors at a later date, and I also look forward to making myself a nice grilled fish sandwich on gluten-free bread with these!

For being a quick, easy, tasty and simple dinner idea, Gorton’s Seafood’s Gluten-Free Grilled Haddock is awarded this week’s Friday Favorite on BeFreeForMe.com. Congratulations!

Win-It-Wednesday: “100 Best Quick Gluten-Free Recipes” By Carol Fenster

October 7th, 2014

Sometimes eating gluten-free gets me into a rut. It seems like I always rely on my one or two “go-to” recipes when I need a quick and easy meal, snack, dessert or dish to bring to a party. Borrrinnng!

And sometimes when I find gluten-free recipes that look delicious, they are often full of numerous hard to find items and designed for those that have the luxury of spending hours in their kitchen. Not realistic for a working gal like myself.

So… if you’re like me… a no-nonsense, give me a yummy recipe that’s quick and easy to make type-of-gal… you will LOVE Carol Fenster’s newest cookbook, “100 Best Quick Gluten-Free Recipes”.

If you’re not familiar with Carol Fenster, let me start by introducing her as one of my all-time favorite gluten-free chefs and cookbook authors. She is the author of eleven (YES! ELEVEN!!) gluten-free cookbooks including Gluten-Free 101, and the award-winning 1,000 Gluten-Free Recipes. When it comes to gluten-free baking and cooking, Carol’s cookbooks are the best out there.

The “100 Best Quick Gluten-Free Recipes” cookbook is divided into five sections: Breakfast & Breads; Soups, Salads, Sandwiches &Snacks; Grains, Beans, and Pasta; Main Dishes; and Desserts. The cookbook starts by outlining how to stock a gluten-free kitchen (this was a nice refresher even for a seasoned-celiac like myself!) along with ideas for combining the recipes in the cookbook for occasions or themes – such as brunches, luncheons, an Italian feast, or Asian, Southwestern or All-American suppers. I also love that there are plenty of slow-cooker and one-pot recipes – always time-savers in my kitchen.

And the best of all? ALL recipes can be made prepared in 30 minutes or less!

Some of my favorite recipes in Carol’s new cookbook are: Chicken Enchiladas; Focaccia Flatbread;  Microwave Muffin in a Mug;  White Chocolate, Apricot, and Almond Balls; and the Chocolate Refrigerator Cookies.

All these quick, easy and delicious reasons are why I am so excited that the sponsor of this Win-It-Wednesday is Carol Fenster and her new cookbook “100 Best Quick Gluten-Free Recipes”!

Two lucky winners will each win a copy of this new cookbook. One (1) winner will be randomly selected from the entries received before Tuesday, October 14, 2014 at 11:59 PM EST, and one (1) more winner will be randomly selected to win from the entries received between Wednesday, October 15 and Tuesday, October 21, 2014 at 11:59PM EST. So – make sure you enter to win two times!

How can you win?

Reply to this blog and tell us a gluten-free tip or trick that makes your life more simple (or… if you are new to the gluten-free lifestyle, ask a question on simplifying your life!)

Good luck, always keep things simple, quick and easy… and of course, yummy! And, as always,
Be Free!

Want to buy this cookbook now? Find it here on Amazon.com.  Also, make sure you follow Carol Fenster on Facebook and Twitter!

Friday Favorite: Crystal Farms Simply Potatoes

October 2nd, 2014

We all know the drill. First thing in the morning you have high hopes of getting out of work on time, not hitting any traffic on your commute, and getting home in plenty of time to make a delicious home cooked dinner for your family.

But then reality strikes. We end up working late, sitting in a traffic jam and finally getting home to a hungry gang asking, “What’s for dinner?”

These are the nights that I count on Crystal Farms Simply Potatoes. These mashed potatoes are so quick and easy to make (less than 5 minutes in the microwave!) and taste just like homemade mashed potatoes (trust me… and I am picky when it comes to my mashed potatoes!).

My favorite variety is the Traditional Mashed Potatoes, but they also come in tons of other gluten-free varieties such as Country Style, Garlic Mashed, Sour Cream & Chive, and even a Mashed Sweet Potato.

For convenience, partnered with great homemade taste, this week’s Friday Favorite is awarded to Crystal Farms Simply Potatoes. Congratulations!

Friday Favorite: Trader Joe’s Apple & Mango Fruit Bars

September 25th, 2014

I like things simple… pure… natural… and no fuss. That is why I was thrilled to find the new Fruit Bars at my local Trader Joe’s.

Made with just fruit (my favorite the Apple & Mango has just that as ingredients… JUST apples and mangoes) these bars are not only gluten-free, but vegan and raw. They also have no additives, no preservatives, no synthetic colors or artificial flavors.

The other yummy flavors they come in are: Apple & Banana, Apple & Coconut, and Apple & Strawberry.

Best yet… they are only .99 cents per bar!

It’s kinda hard to lug around apples and mangoes in my teeny-tiny purse, so these Fruit Bars do the trick and let me have my fruits – and purse space too! Packed with 2-3 grams of fiber and only 90 calories per bar these are the perfect choice for BeFreeForMe’s Friday Favorite! Congratulations!

Win-It-Wednesday: Teeccino Gluten-Free Dandelion Herbal Coffee Alternative & TeeChia Super Seed Cereal

September 23rd, 2014

The mornings are getting chilly once again. And as my slippered feet pitter-patter their way down the hallway and into the kitchen of my New England Saltbox colonial, I find myself dreaming about the steaming hot cup of Teeccino Herbal ‘coffee’ and Teechia cereal to start-off my day.

As many of you already know from my past blog posts, I love Teeccino’s Herbal ‘Coffee’. The perfect combination of an herbal tea, and a rich creamy ‘coffee’, this dandelion- based coffee alternative “brings the health benefits of roasted dandelion root including its inulin content, antioxidants, and stimulating effects on liver function to your cup” according to the Teeccino website. The Dandelion Herbal Coffee comes in two flavors: Dandelion Dark Roast and, my favorite, Dandelion Caramel Nut.

The health-benefits of the herbs, combined with the rich coffee flavor make this a perfect coffee alternative to start my day. It is also the only certified gluten-free, barley-free & caffeine-free certified organic coffee alternative on the market.

And alongside that steaming mug of Teeccino Dandelion Caramel Nut Coffee on my old oak kitchen table is a big bowl of Teechia Sustained Energy Cereal. The cereal tastes great, and fills you up since it is made up of a delicious blend of six organic super seeds, plus certified gluten-free rolled oats, which are slightly sweetened by using fruit… No added sugar in this cereal! Teechia is a perfect breakfast cereal enjoyed with fresh milk or creamy greek yogurt.

Along with being certified gluten-free, I love that this cereal has no refined sugars, has 28 grams of whole grains and is Non GMO project verified.

This cereal comes in two flavors: Cranberry Apple and, my favorite, Blueberry Date. The nutrient-dense super seeds (chia, flax, quinoa, ramón, amaranth, and pumpkin) in both of the varieties paired with gluten-free oats, fruits and nuts, create a high performance cereal that keeps me energized and satisfied all morning long. It has 6 grams of fiber and 6 -7 grams of protein…  It’s cereal you feel good about eating!

All these glorious reasons are why I am so excited that the sponsor of this Win-It-Wednesday is Teeccino’s!

Ten (Yes…10!) lucky winners will each win a VIP Gluten-Free Sampler prize pack of Teeccino items. Five (5) winner will be randomly selected from the entries received before Tuesday, September 30, 2014 at 11:59 PM EST, and five (5) more winner will be randomly selected to win from the entries received between Wednesday, October 1 and Tuesday, October 7, 2014 at 11:59PM EST. SO – make sure you enter to win two times!

How can you win?

Reply to this blog and tell which gluten-free Teeccino Super Seed Cereal and/or Herbal Coffee sounds the best to you.

Good luck, always start your mornings with a bounce in your step (even in your slippers!)… and, as always,
Be Free!

Want to hear more about Teeccino’s contest, coupons, giveaways and more? Follow them on Facebook and Twitter!

Friday Favorite: Engage Organics Spices

September 18th, 2014

For this week’s Friday Favorite, we’re going to spice things up a bit! And that spice is organic, gluten free, salt free and non-GMO.

Say hello to Engage Organics Spice Blends! I love that these spice blends are SALT free, as well as gluten-free, since salt-free spice blends that are also gluten-free are very hard to find!

Engage Organics makes a whole bunch of  spice blends that are super-tasty and will put a zip into any and all of your gluten-free dishes. The flavors they have are unique and flavorsome. They include: It’s-A-Dilly (great on fish dishes and blended as a dip); Garlicsaltless (one ½ a teaspoon is worth a clove of garlic!); All Purpose (great on everything!); Go-Grill-A-Rub (perfect for grill-masters); Lemon-Pepper (my favorite on chicken); Mexi-Mix (great for tacos, nachos and more); Sweet Cinn (LOVE this sprinkled on top of my gluten-free muffins before baking!); and the Tuscan-Mix (which is scrumptious blended with olive oil for dipping your gluten-free bread).

All fabulous varieties, all gluten-free and all SALT free! For these reasons Engage Organics is awarded this week’s Friday Favorite on BeFreeForMe.com! Cheers!

Friday Favorite: Bonelli Simply Sesame Spreads

September 11th, 2014

I found a new snack! And I’m in love! Fresh cut fruit, slathered with Bonelli’s Fine Foods Simply Sesame spreads.

As simple as it sounds these spreads give your fruit an extra special kick that gives you (or your kids!) a reason to get excited about fruit!

The flavors that the Bonelli’s Sesame Spreads come in are awesome too: Pure Roasted Sesame, for the pure taste of sesame; Vanilla with Almond Bits, for a sweetness and crunch that makes a banana and apples extra special; Pistachio with a Hint of Cardamom, that is fantastic generously smeared over pear slices; and last, the Sugar-Free variety, for those that are watching their sugar intake.

These spreads are all gluten-free, all natural, vegan, have no preservatives or additives, no Trans Fat or cholesterol. They are also peanut free.

For all these delicious reasons Bonelli’s Simply Sesame has been awarded this week’s Friday Favorite on BeFreeFore.com. Congratulations!

Want to buy on Amazon? Check out the link to Simply Sesame products here!

Win-It-Wednesday: STRONG & KIND Bars

September 9th, 2014

If you are a fan of KIND Bars and love big, bold flavors you are going to flip when you hear about these new bars from KIND snacks.

Aptly named, these STRONG & KIND Bars are full of the wholesome goodness you expect for all KIND Snacks, packed along with big, bold, strong flavors.

These are no boring and blah bars. These bars are savory and special. A bar that breaks beyond the boundaries of being average, and takes gluten-free bars to a whole new level of savory goodness!

The five varieties of these bars are: Hickory Smoked, providing a smoky & smooth taste; Thai Sweet Chili, offering a taste that is bold and exciting; Honey Mustard, that has a blend of sweet and spicy that is paired perfectly; Roasted Jalapeno, a hot pepper lovers delight; and Honey Smoked BBQ, that delivers a real BBQ taste.

The STRONG & KIND bars are made from 100% whole ingredients: almonds, pumpkin & hemp seeds, pea crisps and spices, plus they provide 10 grams of protein per bar that comes from the legumes, nuts and seeds.

These bars also contain no whey, soy, gluten, and are also non-GMO.

All these big, bold and healthy reasons are why I am so thrilled that KIND Snacks is this week’s Win-It-Wednesday sponsor on BeFreeForMe.com.

A total of two (2) BeFreeForMe members will be selected to win a prize pack of KIND Snacks loaded with 5 bars of each of the five flavors (25 bars total!) of the new STRONG & KIND Bars (Hickory Smoked, Thai Sweet Chili, Honey Mustard, Roasted Jalapeno, and Honey Smoked BBQ).

One winner will be randomly selected from the entries received before Tuesday, September 16, 2014 at 11:59 PM EST, and one more winners will be randomly selected to win from the entries received between Wednesday, September 17 and Tuesday, September 23, 2014 at 11:59 PM. SO – make sure you’re a BeFreeForMe member and enter to win two times!

How can you win?

Reply to this blog and let us know which new STRONG & KIND bar sounds the best to you.

Good luck, remember to be STRONG… and KIND … and as always,
Be Free!

Friday Favorite: Nana’s Gluten-Free Cookies

August 28th, 2014

Back to school is here! And those lunches are being packed once again.

Along with the sandwiches, fruit, vegetables and snacks, sometimes a cookie is just what it takes to make a lunch box packed ever so sweet.

I discovered Nana’s Cookies earlier this year while at a trade show in California and I’ve been hooked ever since. I have always been a fan of Nana’s and have written a couple of blog posts in the past about their amazing Cookie Bars. So, I was more than thrilled to discover that they had a variety of delicious traditional gluten-free cookies too. The flavors are Chocolate, Chocolate Crunch, Ginger, and Lemon. All are delicious and worthy of a special lunchbox treat.

And best yet… all of Nana’s Gluten-Free Cookies are also free of corn, soy, dairy, eggs and casein.

All of these delicious reasons are why Nana’s Gluten-Free Cookies are awarded this week’s Friday Favorite on BeFreeForMe.com. Congratulations!

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