Simple Mills Review and Giveaway

As a graphic designer, I appreciate good packaging on a gluten-free product. Especially considering all of the ugly, dated, looks-like-it’s-been-sitting-on-the-shelf-for-twenty-years badly designed boxes and bags in the gluten-free aisle, good design really stands out to me. It’s like a little voice (in this case a big voice) is calling out from the shelf, saying: “Buy me!”SMplustypeThis is what I was pondering at Wegmans a few months ago, as a newly redesigned product line really jumped out at me in a good way: a row of Simple Mills brand mixes.  After reading the boxes and seeing the banner on top: “Inside you’ll find 7 hand-selected, unprocessed ingredients you’ll fall in love with!” the banana muffin and pumpkin muffin mixes practically jumped into my shopping cart.

Simple Mills mixes are paleo-friendly, grain-free, dairy-free, soy-free and low carb, made in a dedicated gluten-free facility and are certified gluten-free. Simple Mills “believes that when you eat better, you feel better….We are passionate about providing whole food baking mixes that are good for you, easy to make and taste absolutely amazing.”

To this we can attest. Click this link to find out more about their quality ingredients.

IMG_1053The ingredients on the banana muffins (shown above) are: almonds, banana, organic coconut sugar, arrowroot powder, organic coconut flour, baking soda and sea salt.  You just need to add 3 eggs, water and oil. We also added a sprinkle of diced walnuts.

Compare that to the crazy long ingredient lists on so many other GF products. The more processed foods are, the more ingredients they have. Once prepared, Simple Mills banana muffins have only 7 g. of sugar, 3 g. of protein and 2 g. fiber per serving!  I add 1-2 T of flax seed for extra fiber on top of that and no one in my family even notices.  🙂  They just love the taste of these muffins all by themselves. No need for butter or anything else. They are perfect for breakfast or as a mid-morning school snack for my girls.

IMG_1562The 8 ingredients on the pumpkin muffins (above) are similar: almonds, banana, organic coconut sugar, pumpkin, arrowroot powder, organic coconut flour, organic spice mix, baking soda and sea salt.  Again, just add eggs, water and oil. These bad boys only have 5 g. of sugar, 4 g. protein and 3 g. of fiber per serving!  Again, I add flax for even more fiber, as that is a big issue in my household. These muffins are just as good on their own, but add a dollop of whipped cream and you may just think you are eating pumpkin pie.

After realizing how amazing these first two products were, I contacted Simple Mills and they sent us a box of their pancake & waffle mix and pizza crust mix to try as well.

IMG_1299First off, the pancakes were amazing. The above photo shows how many one box makes. I ate many of them without using maple syrup and whipped topping, which is unheard of for me. These tasted heartier and more “gourmet” than your run of the mill GF pancakes. Again: 8 ingredients. Just add eggs, milk (we use coconut milk) and oil. Two pancakes provide 2 g. fiber, 3 g. protein and other good stuff. As with any pancake mix, my family added mini chocolate chips and diced walnuts and my daughters really loved these with a little syrup and Cocowhip. Another thing I love about Simple Mills pancakes is how long they keep you satisfied for, so you don’t feel hungry an hour later like you do after eating regular pancakes.

IMG_1991Last by not least is Simple Mills pizza dough mix. And once again: 8 ingredients. Prepare it by following the directions on the box (you’ll need apple cider vinegar, oil and water). They provide a good tip on the box about putting oil on your hands when you are spreading out the dough. That really helped…

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We made an amazing dairy-free pizza with it by following this recipe: http://thewholetara.com/best-healthy-vegan-pizza/ and I’m so glad we did. Don’t expect a light, fluffy, airy pizza. This pizza crust is hearty, gourmet-tasting and crispy.  I also spread it extra thin and cooked it a little longer, because I like pizza thin and crispy. It was the perfect crust for the toppings in that recipe. I have made it twice since then and my girls & I love it. I honestly don’t think it would work as well with any other pizza crust.

For more recipes  using Simple Mills products, visit their recipe page. Lots of good stuff there…

In conclusion, I am a huge fan of this brand. I have made many batches of muffins since I found these mixes, as well as a few pizzas. I look forward to trying their other mixes once they are available in my area or I find a good deal online. We still need to try these other Simple Mills mixes: vanilla cake mix, chocolate muffin & cake mix, artisan bread mix, and chocolate chip cookie mix.  The average price of these mixes is $7.50 each from what I have found. To me, it’s worth the money in that Simple Mills products taste great, they have minimal, quality ingredients and are easy to make. I’ll pay an extra few bucks for all of those qualities in a GF food anytime. Life’s too short to eat bad GF food!

Now, for the giveaway:

Simple Mills is offering a free box of their banana muffin mix and a free box of pancake & waffle mix to TWO winners. So each winner will get 2 free products mailed to them!

Entry is simple, as always:  Comment below, letting me know what entices you most about these mixes and why you think your family would like to try them.

This giveaway ends Friday, January 29, 2016, at midnight. I’ll pick two winners randomly and will notify them by email. They will have 24 hours to get back to me with their addresses; otherwise I’ll pick new winners. U.S. residents only please. Good luck!

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Banza Pasta Review and Giveaway!

IMG_1311I’ll tell you right off the bat — my family loves this pasta. Every single one of us. We bought it for the first time about 2 months ago and it is the only kind of pasta we have bought since then. I have given away my other boxes of GF pasta because they just seem so un-nutritious (is that a word?) to us now — compared to Banza pasta. I don’t want to use the word “unhealthy” because, obviously, regular GF pastas aren’t junk food, but they are definitely nowhere near as healthy as Banza pasta is… Take a look at this comparison on the box:

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When I first saw boxes of Banza in Wegmans, the first thing that grabbed my attention was the great graphic design on the packaging and then the fact that it is made from chickpeas, which my daughters and I love!  Once I got home and had more time to read the box, I realized what a jackpot I had discovered…

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Banza vs. Gluten-Free Barilla
In comparing a 2 oz. serving of Banza with a 2 oz. serving of Barilla GF (what we ate before), Banza has 8 g. fiber while Barilla has 1.  Banza has 14 g. protein while Barilla has 4. Banza has 32 g. carbs while Barilla has 44. Banza has 4% calcium while Barilla has none. Banza has 30% iron while Barilla has none. Banza is non-GMO while Barilla is not. Calories are pretty even: Banza is 190 and Barilla is 200. Banza is made in the USA (yes!) and Barilla is made in Italy.

There are a few places where Barilla wins out: Barilla has 1 g. total fat and Banza has 3.5, and Barilla has no sodium while Banza has 60mg, if those comparisons are important to you. Barilla boxes are 12 oz. and Banza boxes are 8 oz. Lastly, Barilla is probably about $1 cheaper a box than Banza.

That being said, Banza still wins hands-down in our book, and we hope we never have to go without it. Banza has everything my family needs. We all struggle to get enough fiber (and Banza really helps), one of my daughters has low iron, and we all need more protein, which is why we eat this almost every night now. If it’s not the main course, it’s a side dish…

IMG_1309We make it according to the directions and then usually saute it with steamed vegetables, olive oil, garlic and a few spices…

Our new favorite way to use Banza is sauteing artichokes in olive oil, with garlic, garlic salt and oregano, then mixing in the cooked pasta, which tastes absolutely gourmet!

IMG_1304My daughters and I all love chickpeas so we knew we would like the taste of this pasta. We didn’t expect it to taste exactly like your typical GF pasta (usually made from corn, rice & soy) since Banza is made mainly with chickpeas, but we enjoyed the taste immediately. Even my husband (who doesn’t eat plain chickpeas) loves Banza and said, “This is all we are buying from now on,” because of the nutritional content of this pasta, mainly the fiber, protein and iron, which has been a game changer for our family.

IMG_1245Another way we enjoy Banza is topped with bruschetta and pesto…but it is also good with butter and parmesan cheese, or topped with spaghetti sauce.

IMG_1239We often have it as our main course, mixed with chicken, chopped artichoke hearts and a side of GF garlic bread — a meal I could eat every day.  🙂

Because regular GF pasta doesn’t have fiber, we hardly ever ate it, but now we eat Banza all the time because of the fiber….and protein….and iron, not to mention great texture and taste. It holds its shape like no other GF pasta I can think of. No more crumbly, tiny broken apart pieces of pasta. Just whole pieces from now on. We are never going back!

Check out Banza on Facebook and twitter to learn more.

And now for the giveaway, which I wish my own family could win!  😉
Banza has generously offered to donate one free variety case (6 boxes, mixed shapes) to one lucky winner!  All you need to do to enter is comment here and let us know WHY you are so excited to try Banza. Contest runs through December 1st at midnight. Then I’ll randomly pick a winner and email that person. If I don’t hear back within 24 hours I’ll pick someone else. U.S. residents only please. Thanks and good luck!


Disclaimer: Nobody put me up to this review and I bought all the Banza myself. I’m just sharing products that we love and I was not compensated in any way. Opinions are my family’s and my own.
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Blake’s All Natural Foods Review and Giveaway

Hello from soon-to-be-snowy Buffalo!  A chill is in the air and our long winter is soon to be upon us…156561_600

Of course, with two wood stoves and lots of wood cut and ready to burn, we keep it quite cozy around here for these 6+ chilly months. That being said, we still need our comfort food and quick meals on busy nights. Some of our easiest and yummiest go-to meals for jam-packed, wintry nights are waiting just inside the freezer. It’s a relief —when you have no energy to make dinner — to find these meals that just need to be baked before satisfying the whole family’s tummies.

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This is where Blake’s All Natural Foods come in with their “carefully handcrafted, made-from-scratch” gluten-free shepherd’s pie and chicken pot pie….

Screen shot 2015-11-03 at 11.01.58 AM The main thing you need to do is plan ahead for baking time (375 degrees for 40 minutes for the shepherd’s pie, and about 50 minutes for the chicken pot pie.) And if your family has really large appetites, add a quick side dish. Other than that, just pop these in the oven and go get some stuff done til the timer rings. My entire family can attest that both of these GF meals are delicious, hearty and satisfying.

IMG_2089Blake’s gluten-free chicken pot pie boasts a tasty cornbread top crust and savory gravy, is healthy and filling (especially for a kid) and nice and chunky… As I said, there is just a top crust, which I love. It’s the perfect balance between crust and filling…

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As you break through the top crust with your spoon, you find generously sized chunks of potatoes, white meat chicken, tender peas and carrots in a light gravy…

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It makes for a very satisfying meal on a cold night, especially with a quick side like veggies, pasta or bread. Here is the nutritional information:

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Blake’s shepherd’s pie is equally tasty. After you fluff up those mashed taters, you’ll feel like you’re eating a freshly cooked, homemade meal.

IMG_2073The taste and texture of the sweet corn, mixed with the savory, mildly seasoned ground beef and warm potatoes is the perfect combination.

IMG_2082I don’t know what else to say except my mouth is watering just thinking about it. Here is the nutritional information:

Screen shot 2015-11-03 at 10.07.29 AMWe tried the “all natural” versions of these meals, but they are both also now available in organic!  And, although I haven’t been able to find it locally, Blake’s hearty beef stew is also gluten-free — and looks amazing!

You may also notice that the packaging has changed since we took these pictures, as this post, like others, has been a long time coming, and we have eaten Blake’s many times since then. Regardless of the packaging, what hasn’t changed is how delicious and wholesome these products really are. To learn more about Blake’s, please visit their website. To find their products near you, check out their handy store locator.

Now for the giveaway!  Four lucky winners will win FOUR FREE PRODUCT COUPONS each, courtesy of Blake’s (offer good up to $5.99 retail each item). There are 16 of these coupons to split between 4 of you.

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To enter, just comment below and let us know what you currently do for last-minute GF meals for your family on super-busy nights. That’s it. You don’t need to share it or tweet it or like anyone else’s page or do any of those annoying giveaway requirements other blogs have. Just comment below before midnight on Tuesday, November 17, 2015. Then I’ll randomly pick 4 winners, email them and mail them their prizes once they get back to me with addresses. If I don’t hear back from anyone within 24 hours I’ll pick another name to replace them. Easy as chicken pot pie!  🙂


Disclaimer: Blake’s initially sent me 4 free products to try for this review but I have bought many more on my own since then.  I only promised an honest review and was not compensated in any other way. Opinions are my family’s and my own.
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Get outside with your g-free kids and LÄRABAR (giveaway, too!)

IMG_5470Get outside?  No one needs to tell us that — we get outside every chance we get —especially in Autumn, our favorite time of year, which doesn’t last nearly long enough…

Did you know that Monday, November 17th is National Take a Hike Day?  If it were up to me, I would dub every Saturday just that. Unfortunately, life and bad weather get in the way far too much, and we end up having to carve out time for exploring new nature trails and hiking areas much less often than we would like to. Our family bond is at its strongest when we are out in the woods together, having left behind all thoughts of homework, upcoming irish dance competitions, electronics, housework, to-do lists, and other distractions.

IMG_5408My dog is usually pulling my husband off ahead, while my daughters and I take our time, usually stopping just about every minute to get a closer look at mushrooms, fungi, acorns, tiny saplings, tree bark patterns, leaves of every shape, size and color, and seemingly every other bit of nature we pass by.

IMG_5518If we hike near any sort of creek or pond, my daughters can’t resist lifting up every rock, in search of crayfish, salamanders, frogs, minnows, dragonfly nymph or whatever creature they can find and manage to hold for a few seconds…

4creaturesOur hikes aren’t the long, arduous ones my husband and I used to take back in Colorado or New Hampshire pre-kids, but our current hikes allow our girls the downtime they need to get their hands dirty, feet muddy and wet, and to just be out in nature and enjoying God’s creations without having to rush.

Knowing we’re going to be outside for hours on end, we have learned to come prepared with plenty of water and g-free snacks. When LÄRABAR recently contacted me to see if I would like to try some samples of their bars and new grain-free granola, it seemed like the perfect chance for our family to sample the rainbow of flavors they offer.

IMG_5325As you may or may not know, I have been grain-free for the past 6 weeks and have never felt better. I have left behind all of the nausea I’d been feeling for months, the accompanying stomach distress, and as a bonus: about 10 pounds as well! I’ve never felt healthier — along with less bloated, much less gassy and so much cleaner in my diet.  The “old me” would have packed up a few Diet Dr. Peppers, juice boxes and bags of Cheetos & Doritos for a roadtrip (no lie) but the “new me” only craves healthy, whole foods & clean eating. Since I’m the one packing this stuff, the rest of my family benefits as well.

IMG_5332LÄRABAR is the absolute perfect fit with my new healthier lifestyle, as their products are made from quality stuff and the best ingredients we can put into our bodies. Although these bars seem like they are a modest size, they really pack a punch when you consider how filling they are, and how much protein, vitamins and long-lasting energy they provide. Perfect for that extra fuel my family and I often need on our hikes.

IMG_5339Each LÄRABAR contains 1/4 cup of fruit or more, and they’re made from whole foods which makes them perfect for g-free snacking on the go. Check out all of the many different flavors on their product page. So far our favorites in the following order are: Banana Bread, Key Lime Pie, Cherry Pie and Blueberry Muffin, but we have a bunch left to try still. Previously I had only tried LÄRABAR a few times years ago, back before I was thinking about what I was eating and too cheap to pay for the good stuff. But, thankfully, I have matured and learned to care much more about my diet, and prefer to buy minimally processed foods with the shortest ingredient lists nowadays. Take our favorite LÄRABAR flavor for instance, made from just bananas, almonds and dates:

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And as it turns out, LÄRABAR’s founder, Lara Merriken, came up with “a mountain of an idea back in 2000: to combine wholesome ingredients such as fruits and nuts to create a food product that’s tasty, healthy and convenient.” All of LARABAR’s products are made from 100% real and wholesome ingredients. Everything they offer is g-free, non-GMO and Kosher, with most everything being soy-free, dairy-free, and vegan as well.

IMG_5348Besides being able to sample all of these bars, you can imagine how psyched I was (yes, there is still an 80’s girl inside of me) when I discovered that they also have a new grain-free granola called RENOLA. It comes in 3 flavors – Berry, Cinnamon Nut and Cocoa Coconut — and is a tasty mix of fruits, nuts and seeds.

IMG_5345After trying our samples, we were hooked — especially me, since I’m not eating grains right now, including g-free grains. I love all three flavors and really appreciate how small the pieces are, so I don’t feel like I’m going to break a tooth like I do with other g-free granolas. I also love the individual serving size bags, which contain the perfect amount of RENOLA to give that long-lasting energy needed for dance, sports, or a hike. You can bet that RENOLA will be on my grocery list over and over again, no doubt…

IMG_5358I was really impressed by all of these products, and LÄRABAR has definitely become my go-to brand for g-free snacking on the go. They are so easy to take on family hikes, or to just toss in my bag in case I get hungry when I’m out and about so I can stay on my grain-free diet and keep feeling good 24/7.


As a special offer for you (on top of this awesome giveaway) LÄRABAR is giving gfreekid.com readers $0.50 off the purchase of any LÄRABAR. Get your coupon here. don’t know where to get em? find out here.


Remember: Monday, November 17th is National Take a Hike Day. Join me and LÄRABAR by getting outside with your g-free kids and enjoying the gorgeous fall weather in your neck of the woods. Trust me: you and your kids will be glad you did.  You can join in on the conversation by hashtaggin’ #getoutside and #eatclean.

IMG_5380Want to win a LÄRABAR Prize Pack?

Is all this talk about LÄRABARs, RENOLA and hiking making you hungry?

Here’s your chance to win an awesome prize pack from LÄRABAR, including a variety pack of 16 assorted LÄRABARs and all three flavors of RENOLA.  All you have to do is answer the following 2 questions and comment below with your answers…(anyone failing to do the following will not qualify to win.)

(1) Leave a comment on this post with the LÄRABAR flavor and RENOLA flavor you’re most interested in trying (take a quick look at the product page before you answer) and (2) how we have inspired you to #getoutside and #eatclean with your g-free kid and LÄRABAR!  Couldn’t be easier to enter!  🙂

Open to 18+ year old U.S. residents only. Randomly chosen winner will be picked Monday, Nov. 10th at midnight & will be given 24 hours to respond before being replaced by another winner.

Thanks to LÄRABAR for sponsoring this post and giveaway, and for fueling this hike and many in the future. HONEST opinions are completely from me and my family. 

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Book Review and Giveaway: “Cilie Yack is Under Attack”

IMG_1757What a fun book.  Cilie Yack is Under Attack, written and illustrated by Caryn Talty is a hilarious chapter book for gluten-free kids. I read the entire thing, myself, for a few days in a row over lunch and actually looked forward to it each day!  My daughters read it together in the car on a road trip, as well… they laughed and read favorite parts of it out loud to us often.  Here are our collective thoughts on the book:

In a nutshell, we all loved it. We won this book through a contest a few years ago and waited a bit for my girls to grow into being able to read it. It’s the only chapter book about Celiac that I know of for older kids, so it definitely fills a need — in a great way.

IMG_1766It’s written from the perspective of a spunky 9 year old boy living in Ireland named Cilie (pronounced “silly”). The book begins with, “This is the story of how one boy turned his problems into a triumph, and how you can, too!” From there the story is told from the point of view of Cilie, and the next 15 chapters are filled with good humor, Irish sayings (explained), cute cartoony illustrations, sidebars (like explanations of Irish football) age-appropriate explanations of Celiac, and off-topic ramblings that are perfect for kids around this age group. You really get an excellent sense of this boy’s character and he is a fun-loving, sometimes misunderstood but totally likeable kid. He never “talks down to you” and kids will love his honesty and openness about feelings of embarrassment, disappointment, excitement and pride.

IMG_1759In the beginning Cilie tells how as a baby his Mum said he was very cranky and “topped both my brothers combined in poop production by the time I was three.” As a young boy he used to act out as class clown and troublemaker, acted wild and out of control whenever he ate gluten, and was mean to his little brothers. His stomach was often upset and he didn’t like to eat, except for his one favorite food “goody” which was bread, milk and sugar. In the chapter called, “Poop Talk” he confesses to all kinds of pooping problems, even a few embarrassing accidents. At age 5, his doctor runs some tests on him and they finally realize it’s Celiac which means a life-long gluten-free diet for him. Once he gets over his initial shock about not being able to eat “goody” anymore, he realizes he’s beginning to feel better and act better as well.

IMG_1760After a while, he writes a great report on Celiac (which is included on 3 pages of the book along with an illustration) by explaining it in his own words, earning himself his first accolades at school. Eventually he starts to feel jealous of not being able to eat certain foods and sneaks some chocolate cake at a party, not long before he “pukes it back up.”

IMG_1758After that his Mum takes him to a special store where they buy lots of gluten-free ingredients to experiment with, and after many flops, finally starts to make some amazing creations in the kitchen. His confidence soars as he figures out new things to eat, and he creates and masters the perfect recipe for carrot cake, which sells out at his football team’s bake sale.

I’ll leave the ending as a surprise, since I’ve already divulged so much, but rest assured your g-free kid will love this book. If he or she is not ready or able to read this alone, I urge you to read it aloud with them so you can share in the laughs.

A word from the author, Caryn Talty:  “This book is written at a 4th grade level as far as vocabulary and readability goes. But the content is geared toward younger kids. I encourage parents to read the book out loud with their kids and talk about what happens to Cilie in the story. I read it out loud with my youngest son at age 5 when he began having digestive problems and was being tested for celiac. He understood the story and celiac disease very well when we finished. We gave donation copies to our kids’ school library and I’ve had kids of all ages come to me to tell me they’ve read the book and enjoyed it. The story is based on some very real experiences my oldest son had before he was diagnosed, but of course Cilie’s story is much more humorous and exaggerated. At the time when my son was sick and symptomatic we did not find much to laugh about. That’s why I decided a few years later that a book like this was important to create. I wanted kids with celiac to relax, understand that they are not alone and it will get better. I also wanted to create a hero out of a kid who seemingly has a lot of weaknesses, or so he thinks. Sometimes being different is magical, especially when you have the right attitude and a little bit of willpower.”

One more note from me:  I took these pictures late at night in a warmly lit room which is why the pages look yellow. However, they are actually white.  🙂

Now for the giveaway: The author has generously agreed to give away 2 copies of this book to 2 lucky winners!  All you have to do is comment below with how your g-free kid might be able to relate to Cilie’s story in this book. Giveaway ends at midnight on Friday, March 7th. Randomly chosen winners will be notified and given 24 hours to respond, or other winners will be chosen to replace them.  U.S. residents only please. Good luck!

If you don’t win, I hope you’ll still buy this book for your g-free kid. It’s currently only $8.09 on Amazon.com and shipping is free if you have Amazon Prime.

Caryn Talty runs the Healthy Family blog which supports “organic living for a healthy family”. Also inspired by this book is the Cilie Yack’s Sous Chef Club.  Check it out!

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[ Disclaimer: We won this book in a contest a few years ago. The opinions I expressed are my own, honest feelings about the book, as well as my daughters’.  ]

Keep coming back for more things for g-free kids, and don’t forget to check out the photo album and kids’ stuff page!

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A Sweet Gluten-Free Giveaway

IMG_1628I was diagnosed with celiac in 2007 so it’s been a while since I’ve had real licorice.  It’s been almost as long for my daughters, so we were all excited to try the gluten-free varieties from Candy Tree with their adorable packaging…

Screen shot 2014-02-04 at 8.27.24 AMIn addition to making their gluten-free licorice taste good, Candy Tree has also managed to make it organic, vegan, kosher and dye-free. Their licorice is available in four delicious flavors (traditional black, strawberry, cherry and raspberry) in 4 different forms: bites, twists, lariats and laces.

My girls were not huge fans of the black licorice (I liked it, but I think it’s an acquired taste for some kids) but they did love the red flavors, especially cherry and strawberry. This licorice is chewier than Twizzlers but the taste is very close. We all preferred the texture of the twists and bites the most, but if your g-free kid loves to create in the kitchen, he or she will be thrilled to once again be able to make recipes like these with licorice laces:

Candy Tree also makes wonderful organic lollipops, which my girls may have enjoyed even more than the licorice. They said these lollipops tasted just like real lemonade, real oranges and real strawberries. They’re naturally flavored and dye-free, so my daughters’ mouths, tongues and lips were still the original color when they were all finished —
imagine that!  😉

You can order Candy Tree candies for your g-free kid from these websites
(in no particular order) :

Now for our giveaway:  The candies in the photo below (click to enlarge) will be equally split between two winners, so 2 people will each get 3 bags of red licorice, 2 bags of black and 1 bag of lollipops…

IMG_1577IMG_1592And to further sweeten the deal, I am throwing in 2 copies of Mommy, What is Celiac Disease? so both winners will receive a copy of this special children’s book as well.

To enter, please leave a comment saying why your child would love to win these prizes. Giveaway ends on Sunday, February 9th at midnight. Randomly chosen winners will be notified and given 24 hours to get back to me with their address. Sorry this isn’t a very long-running contest, but I want the winners to receive their prizes by Valentine’s Day. This giveaway is limited to U.S. residents only. Good luck!

Disclaimer: Candy Tree sent me free products to review and more for the giveaway, but as always, I only post positive reviews like this when my g-free girls and I actually like a product. And we did.

Book review and giveaway: Barrett’s Unusual Ice Cream Party

IMG_1396Kids love books. Kids who are into dinosaurs or fairies or animals or trucks should have lots of books about those subjects on their bookshelf at home, right? So, alongside other topics of interest, our g-free kids should have children’s books about being gluten-free, too, don’t ya think? The photo above shows about half of a wall of books in my daughters’ room, with 4 of these books in front. Books can be enjoyed over and over, are easily lent to friends & relatives, or brought into school to share with teachers and classmates. What better way for g-free kids to spread awareness and help others understand why they need to be on a special diet than to share their books?

Barrett’s Unusual Ice Cream Party by Michelle L. King is one of an increasingly large number of books that will help children come to terms with the fact that they can still be happy even though they’re on a special diet, work through their feelings on the subject, and help them feel less alone when it comes to watching what they eat…

IMG_1403My 10 year old daughters and I all read this book separately before discussing it together, so here is an honest review of the book from our perspectives…

What this book is like:
Size-wise, this 28-page softcover book is a little under 6″ x 9″ and the computer illustrations are cute and colorful. The story is about a first grader with “celiac sprue” who faces feeling insecure, jealous and angry when friends at school start to question such things as why he had a birthday pie instead of a birthday cake and eats a muffin for lunch instead of a sandwich. When a classmate brings in mouthwatering cupcakes that he can’t have, it upsets him so much that he refuses to go to school the next day. Of course he ends up going, and is happy to meet a confident new friend with a milk allergy. Other kids chime in to say they have asthma, a sister with diabetes, etc. and he realizes being different isn’t so bad. He and his classmates make dairy-free ice cream in class together and by the end he starts to feel less alone, more proud of how he eats, and begins to understand that Celiac is part of what makes him special.

Bonuses:
After the story ends, recipes for Homemade Vanilla-Coconut Ice Cream and Banana Muffins are provided, and a free audio book digital download is also included!

IMG_1406A few minor things:
Overall, my daughters and I liked this book and enjoyed the story. Our biggest qualm is that the back cover reads, “…Barrett learns he has celiac sprue, which means he can’t eat cake and bread or even drink milk.”  Right away my celiac daughter asked why he can’t have milk because he has celiac. I double-checked with the author on this, and the book was supposed to say that he had other food sensitivities besides celiac. Unfortunately her publisher did some last-minute editing that slipped by and they had the final say, so she wasn’t able to make it more clear.  I just felt I should make note of it here because I don’t want newbies to be confused, thinking that milk, eggs and soy (also mentioned once each) aren’t allowed on the gluten-free diet. Please note: These minor issues should not deter anyone with “just” gluten-free kids from buying this book, as there is still a positive message for all kids on special diets, and parents can always clarify. The mention of additional foods might also prove helpful for some kids reading this book…

Our family has always been super positive about being gluten-free, so my girls couldn’t personally relate to the negative emotions the boy showed in the beginning. But, understandably, there are many kids out there who do battle with feelings of jealousy, feeling excluded and just plain mad about not being able to eat like everyone else. I have heard many accounts of this from parents who have gotten in touch with me through this website. If your child has ever felt like this or currently struggles with these emotions, this book will surely be helpful, since it shows how Barrett gets past his negativity and moves on to more productive, healthy feelings about himself and his diet.

To read 13 more reviews on this book from different perspectives, please take a moment to look up Barrett’s Unusual Ice Cream Party on Amazon. Currently it is $8.99 and if you have Amazon Prime, shipping is free!

Now for the giveaway:
The author has generously offered to give away two copies for a giveaway. To win one of these books, please comment below saying why you think your g-free kid would enjoy this book or why it’s important for kids to have books about being gluten-free in their library…

Giveaway ends at midnight on Wednesday, January 29, 2014. If any winners don’t respond within 24 hours, new winners will be picked to replace them. Good luck!  -Katie

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[ Disclaimer: The author sent me a free copy of this book and the opinions I expressed are my own, honest feelings about the book, as well as my daughters’.  ]

Keep coming back for more things for g-free kids, and don’t forget to check out the photo album and kids’ stuff page!

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