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

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

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

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

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!

Friday Favorite: Mrs. Richardson’s Butterscotch Caramel Topping

November 20th, 2014

As a topping for ice-cream, a drizzle on your favorite pie, or even as a dip for fresh fruit, Mrs. Richardson’s Butterscotch Caramel topping is the perfect gluten-free pantry item to make any dessert extra special.

I love the rich, buttery sweetness of the caramel. And if you are a fan of other types of toppings, no problem! All of Mrs. Richardson’s topping are gluten-free. So take your pick and enjoy not only the Butterscotch Caramel, but also Mrs. Richardson’s Hot Fudge, Butterscotch, Strawberry, Chocolate Lovers or the Fat-Free Caramel or Fat-Free Hot Fudge on top of your favorite dessert.

For all of these yummy reasons, this week’s Friday Favorite is awarded to Mrs. Richardson’s toppings. Congratulations!

P.S. Check out my Gluten-Free Apple Spice Cake with Creamy Butterscotch Caramel Cream Cheese Frosting using Mrs. Richardson’s … delicious!

Win-It-Wednesday: “Mommy, What Is Celiac Disease?” by Katie Chalmers

November 18th, 2014

If you have a child in your life that has celiac disease there is a perfect book for gifting this Holiday season: “Mommy, What is Celiac Disease?” by Katie Chalmers.

Explaining celiac disease and the gluten-free diet to kids can be tough. That is why this book is a god-send. This one-of-a-kind book is gracefully & eloquently written by a Mom who has celiac disease. Both the author, Katie Chalmers and her daughter, Morgan, were diagnosed with celiac disease a little over 5 years ago. Since that time they have learned to embrace, and make the best, out of living gluten-free, and they share their experiences and sunny outlook in this kid-friendly book. (Looking for more inspiration? You need to check out Katie’s blog!)

Katie’s book encompasses what celiac disease is and what the gluten free diet requires in language that children can understand, all the while encouraging dialogue for additional questions. A must-have for any child with celiac disease, this book is also a must-read for any elementary school story hour that has child with celiac disease in the classroom… making it also a perfect gift for teachers that they can use year-after-year.

I love that  “Mommy, What Is Celiac Disease?” empathizes the positive, rather than the negative, attributes of a gluten-free diet. However, in no way does this book sugar-coat this disease. Instead “Mommy, What Is Celiac Disease?” puts a positive spin on a serious subject that many children may find difficult to understand and accept.

All these reasons are why I am so very excited that “Mommy, What Is Celiac Disease?” by Katie Chalmers is this WIN-It-Wednesday sponsor on

A total of two (2) BeFreeForMe members will be selected to win a copy of “Mommy, What is Celiac Disease?” One winner will be randomly selected from the entries received before Tuesday, November 25, 2012 at 11:59 PM EST, and another winners will be randomly selected to win from the entries received between Wednesday, November 26 and Tuesday, December 2, 2014 at 11:59PM. SO – make sure you enter to win two times!

How can you win?


Reply to this blog and let us know who you would give this book too if you won OR how you look at the sunny side of being gluten-free. (Me? I have met so, so, so many awesome people because of my celiac diagnosis, and I also find myself eating more fruits and vegetables which has resulted in discovering local farmers markets and expanding my own backyard garden).

Good luck, Keep the sunny side up… and as always,

Be Free!

P.S. Want to learn more? Follow Katie on Facebook & Twitter and check out her fabulous blog. Want to buy this book for a Holiday gift? Buy it now on

Friday Favorite: 180 Degrees Trail Mix Crunch Bars

November 13th, 2014

Gotta love a bar with a good crunch! And top that crunch off with a burst of fruit and you have yourself a 180 Degree Trail Mix Crunch Bar.

I love that these gluten-free, kosher, 100% vegan and all natural bars have a totally different texture than any other bar I have tried. They have a really crunchy, call it actually crispy, snap that is surprisingly tasty and perfect for breakfast or snack time. 180 Degree Snacks achieves this perfect crispy crunch by oven baking the bars… delicious!

These bars come in two varieties including, Almond Cashew, and my favorite, Cranberry Pomegranate. 180 Degrees also makes other products including Clusters, Nutty Rice Bites and a Trail Mix Crunch.

Congratulations to 180 Degree Snacks for making a perfectly crispy and crunchy gluten-free bar and for being awarded this week’s Friday Favorite on! Cheers!

Friday Favorite: McCormick’s Gluten-Free Taco Seasoning

November 6th, 2014

It’s Taco Night once again in gluten-free households across the country! How about that all my gluten-free amigos?

Thanks to McCormack spices and seasonings all of us gluten-free folks out there can enjoy tacos, burritos, enchiladas and even a gluten-free Grilled Fajita Salad or a Seven Layer Fiesta Dip thanks to the folks over at McCormick.

The new Gluten-Free Taco Seasoning contains natural spices such as chili pepper, cumin, paprika and oregano. It is also free of MSG, and has no artificial flavors. Other new gluten-free items that McCormick makes are Chili Seasoing Mix, and Brown and Turkey Gravies.

So break out those gluten-free taco shells, and fill ‘em up with taco seasoned ground beef and all your favorite gluten-free fixins’! Congrats (and Gracias!) to McCormick for being named this week’s Friday Favorite!

Want to buy now? Check out this link on and take advantage of FREE Super-Saver Shipping!

Win-It-Wednesday: Cabot Creamery Legacy Cheese

November 4th, 2014

GREAT NEWS for all of you Cabot Cheese lovers out there!  Cabot has a new line of cheeses that taste out of this world (and inspired from different parts of the world!)… the Legacy Cheese line.

This yummy trio of cheeses was inspired by century old cheese-making techniques from different parts of the world… in honor of the European roots of the Cabot farmers’ ancestors.  And like all other Cabot cheddars, the cheeses in the new Legacy line are naturally gluten-free and lactose-free.

The Legacy line has three unique and distinctive varieties:

Alpine Cheddar: My personal favorite! A creamy cheddar and nutty Parmesan blend, this cheese has that nutty “crunchy” or slightly granular texture distinctive of cheeses influenced by Swiss & Italian cheese-making traditions. Try one slice and you’ll see why this is my new favorite Cabot cheese variety.  A must have for any cheese board…  also pairs well with sweet Italian Prosecco and a few of your best friends!

Farmhouse Reserve: This Artesian grade cheddar cheese is quintessential New England. Aged for 18 months this New England classic is an Extra Sharp cheddar that is bold and creamy, and a must-try. When I eat this cheese I like to “melt” a bit in my mouth… it’s like tasting a fine wine… flawlessly balanced, well defined and lush. You haven’t tasted cheddar like this before!

White Oak: A classic British style cheddar, the White Oak cheddar has a subtle caramel sweetness with slight oaky hints. Smooth and composed this cheddar is similar to the Cabot’s Clothbound Cheddar with the perfect balance of sharp & smooth. With nutty flavors and aromas, this cheese begs to be used for snacking and in recipes. Oaky & buttery in every bite… What’s not to love?

And please feel free to check out the Cabot Creamery website to find some great recipes, discover all of the gluten-free products they offer (please note that all of the Cabot products are gluten-free with the exception of the spreadable cheddars – due to their sourcing they cannot guarantee these spreadable cheddars are gluten-free. However, all other Cabot products and ingredients have been “researched and verified to be gluten-free and are produced in a gluten-free environment” according to the Cabot website).

All these wonderfully cheesy reasons are why I am so excited that the sponsor of this Win-It-Wednesday is Cabot Creamery!

Four (Yes…4!) lucky winners will each win a prize pack of the new Cabot Legacy items. Two (2) winner will be randomly selected from the entries received before Tuesday, November 11, 2014 at 11:59 PM EST, and two (2) more winner will be randomly selected to win from the entries received between Wednesday, November 12 and Tuesday, November 18, 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 new Cabot Legacy cheese looks the best to you… the creamy & nutty Alpine? The flawlessly balanced Farmhouse Reserve? Or the sharp & smooth White Oak? (I know, I know.. it is so hard to pick!)

Good luck, remember to smile and say “CHEESE!” every single day, and as always,
Be Free!

Want to hear more about Cabot Creamery’s contests, recipes, new products and more? Make sure you sign up to become a Cabot Insider, and also follow them on Facebook and Twitter!

Gluten-free Apple Spice Cake with Creamy Butterscotch Caramel Cream Cheese Frosting

October 30th, 2014

If you’re looking for a delicious, but easy, made-from-scratch cake that combines all the yummy flavors of the Fall you have to try this Apple Spice Cake that is topped with a creamy Butterscotch Caramel Cream Cheese Frosting.

The cake is easy enough, since it is made with an all-purpose gluten-free flour blend and applesauce, rather than fresh apples. No need for numerous measurings, peeling, coring and parings.

And the frosting… oh good lord… the yummy frosting. The creamy tartness of the cream cheese, is blended ever so delicately with the sweet Butterscotch Caramel to create a sweet and tangy frosting that is worthy of eating on its own. I made this cake in a tube pan, and was left with an abundance of frosting left over to enjoy by the spoonful (or you can make it in a sheet pan for a more traditional cake.) Any way you bake it or slice it, the result will be true yumminess.

For extra Halloween fun, top the cake with a handful of gluten-free caramel corn. Your goblins will gobble it right up!

Apple Spice Cake

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Grease the pan and set aside (This cake can be made in a 9” tube pan or sheet pan )


1 cup of granulated sugar (sifted)

½ cup (one stick) of butter (softened)

1 egg

1¾ cups of all-purpose gluten-free flour blend – sifted, with about 1/8 of a cup set aside

1 cup of golden raisins (or brown raisins if that is what you have on hand)

1 teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon salt

1 ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

½ teaspoon ground cloves

1 cup of slightly sweetened apple sauce

¾ cup of walnuts (Slightly crushed. Note:  Easily crush the walnuts by putting them in a ziplock bag and press gently with the back of a serving spoon)


In a large bowl, beat the butter until creamy. Slowly add in the sugar and continue to blend until light and fluffy. Next beat in the egg until blended.

In a small bowl, place the raisins and dust with the 1/8 cup of the gluten-free flour blend. Toss to coat. Set aside.

Add the baking soda, salt, cinnamon and clove to the remainder of the gluten-free baking mix. Slowly add to the butter/sugar/egg mixture and beat until well blended. Place the applesauce into a microwave safe bowl and heat about 1 minute in the microwave. Add the apple sauce to the batter, and beat again until just blended.

Next, add the flour-dusted raisins and the nuts into the batter and beat, on low speed, until blended.

Pour batter into the prepared pan and bake at 350 degrees for about 30-40 minutes. Watch cake carefully. The cake is done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

When cool, remove cake from pan and frost with Creamy Butterscotch Caramel Cream Frosting. Top with a drizzle of Butterscotch Caramel Sauce and a sprinkle of Caramel Corn, if desired.

Creamy Butterscotch Caramel Cream Cheese Frosting

Makes enough frosting for a 2-layer cake.


8-ounces of Cream Cheese or Neuchatel Cheese – softened

4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) or butter – softened

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

½ cup of Butterscotch Caramel Sauce /Topping, plus extra for drizzling over the top of the cake once frosted (I used Mrs. Richardson’s which is gluten-free!)

1-pound box of Confectioners’ Sugar (sifted)


In a large bowl beat the cream cheese and butter together until smooth and creamy. Add the vanilla and the Butterscotch Caramel sauce continue to beat until well blended. Next slowly add the sifted Confectioners’ Sugar to the mixture and blend, on low speed, until mixed. After all the sugar is blended, put blender on high speed and blend for another 3 minutes.

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