Friday, September 19, 2014

Friday Freebies: Easy Meals for Busy Days Ebooks

     This week was a crazy one for me and our family.  I can't believe all the activities were packed this week as if there's not tomorrow.  The CCD classes for the 3 kids just started.  Then I  have to attend 3 Back to School Nights. Plus the first Cub Scout meeting took place. By yesterday afternoon, poor Child #3 barely have enough energy for his usual Karate lessons. Oh, did I mention that each kid has at least 2  homework every night to be submitted the following day? 

        It was the type of week were Take Out or the Drive Thru could have been my BFF.  Sadly, as a food allergy family, that option is no longer on the list.  

      The good news is that, we made it!  Yes, it's Friday already.  With a little help from the rice cooker, microwave, crock pot and trusted easy recipes, we were able to breeze through this chaotic 5 day spree without the kids complaining of hunger.  Why do they have to eat so much anyway?  

       So today, I compiled a list of free downloadable ebooks that you will find really handy when you have a really busy week.  The recipes here require little prep time and are easy to follow.  With more than 100 recipes to choose from, I'm sure you'll not hear the words "that again"  from the picky eaters. 

        Hurry up and get the ebooks now before the price changes.  


- Roz           
(Note: This post contains affiliate links.  See my full disclosure here.)


Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Send Me Gluten Free Box Review & Giveaway

      One of the toughest part of dealing with food allergies is finding products that are safe to eat. During my earlier days of FA living, I would spent hours at the grocery store, reading labels and even surfing the internet while shopping (thru my phone) just to make sure that whatever I'm buying is good for my children.  Gluten (wheat, barley, rye, spelt) in particular is quite challenging because it is present in almost everything packaged - food, cosmetics, medicine, bath and cleaning products and more.  

         If you think you're the only one who can't put anything in your shopping cart, well news flash, you are not alone.  I remembered feeling tired and frustrated from hanging out in the store too much. To add more insult to the injury, many times, the kids would not eat the prime commodity that I just spent hours finding.  Why? "It simply doesn't taste good." they insist.   

       A lot has changed since my children's diagnosis almost 5 years ago.  Now, there are more options available.  However, a familiar anxiety still lingers and that is if the kids will actually eat it.  Then I was introduced to Send Me Gluten Free Box.

      Send Me Gluten Free is a monthly subscription box that is filled with 8-12 gluten free products conveniently delivered to your home.  Though is it quite new in the market, the company behind Send Me Gluten Free has been actively helping the community for years.  In fact, they are the same people behind the largest and fastest growing specialty diet consumer events in the US, the Gluten and Allergen Free Expo (GFAF Expo). According to them, Send Me Gluten Free is an "expo in a box." 

       Above are the contents of my complimentary Send Me Gluten Free August box.  As you can see, there's not just one but two full sized products in the box. I have seen the Explore Asian Black Bean spaghetti at Costco for months now.  Though I was really curious, I didn't have the courage to buy it because it was in bulk. Same thing with Sevierly Good Gluten Free.  Did you know that the exact Brownie mix retails for $9.99 alone?

        Here's my September Send Me Gluten Free box (also complimentary).  This generous box contains 11 products. Aside from the body wash from SoapBox soap company (I reviewed their products before.) and the Schar brand, I have to admit, I was not familiar with these items.  

        Oh before I forget, each box also includes coupons and coupon codes from various companies.  I find this really helpful because as we all know, it is not easy to find these specialty coupons.

       Another thing that I think is unique and like about the SMGF is the fact that they offer subscription plans. Depending on your currently budget, they have a Month by Month, 3 Months, 6 Months & 12 Month options.  Of course, there are discounts available for each option.  Plus, shipping is always free. Sounds interesting? 

      Now for the good part.  I have asked the wonderful people of Send Me Gluten Free to give you, my beloved readers some treats.  First, you all can get a 20% discount on any subscription plan you choose.  Simply us the coupon code BLOG20 during checkout.   

       Next, they are sponsoring a giveaway! Yes, I am giving away a FREE Send Me Gluten Free box to one lucky reader.  That's a $30 prize filled with gluten free goodies and coupons.   
        This contest is open to all US residents 18 years and older.  It will end on Sept. 24, 2014 at 11:59 EST.  So, what are you waiting for?  Get your entries now and don't forget to share the love.  

        Good luck!

- Roz

(Note:  I received free products for this review. This however, has no affect on the opinions I have written here.  Please see my full disclosure. )

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Saturday, September 13, 2014

September 2014 Reading List

      Goodness!  I just realized that we are almost on the half way mark of the month.  With the new school routine slowly settling in, I'm grabbing the opportunity to sneak in some for me time.  After all a good book is always relaxing right? 

         Here are the books I have on hand right now.  

by Kathleen Flinn.  - I'm currently into novels with recipes.  This one has all American family recipes.  

The Allergy-Free Pantry: Make Your Own Staples, Snacks, and More Without Wheat, Gluten, Dairy, Eggs, Soy or Nuts by Colette Martin  - I always challenge myself to make food from scratch.  This book seems to have some shortcuts we food allergy moms need. 

Diary of a Mad Diva by Joan Rivers - I have to say, I'm a fan of this funny and legendary woman. Though I haven't read any of book she had written, it's never too late to start right?  

The Paleo Kitchen: Finding Primal Joy in Modern Cooking by Juli Bauer & George Bryant.  - What more can I say?  I always find cookbooks with beautiful pictures really enticing.  

       Have you read any of these books?  Did you like it?  Love to hear your thoughts.

- Roz

(Note:  This post contains affiliate links. You can see my full disclosure policy here.)   

Thursday, September 11, 2014

The Gluten & Allergen Free Expo 2014 in NJ Recap

        The much awaited GFAF expo at the Meadowlands finally took place last weekend.  If you have been following me on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook, I'm pretty sure you have seen me sharing non stop the past few days.  Missed my posts? Don't worry, here are some of the highlights.

     With our friend from Down Under, Freedom Foods.  I was so fortunate to have met them the previous year and was able to stock up on their cereals before it became available in the stores here in NJ. My kids go through TropicO's, Maple Crunch and Cocoa Crunch cereals like crazy. 

       This year, they brought some new items like ProTeen Crunch Cereal, pancake mix and that jar I'm holding called Smudge. The later sounds quite weird but the taste is to die for! 

      The photo was taken early Saturday morning.  Since I normally do my shopping on the second day, I didn't buy any that time.  Guess what?  Their products sold out! Bummer! Now, I made a reminder for next year that says "Must Buy Freedom Foods products on Saturday at 9 am!" 

      One of the perks of the GFAFExpo is that attendees would be able to taste new or upcoming products.  A good example for this year is Dole's latest product line of ready to eat soups. Aside from being gluten free and top 8 allergy friendly, it's also Non GMO, no MSG and preservative.  Shhh, the Sweet Corn soup is really good.  

      Another company that I'm glad was present at the Expo is Explore Asian.  I've seen their Black Bean pasta at Costco for months but was hesitant to buy because it was only available in a big package.   After the taste test, I have to say, I'm now confident to get that big box during my next shopping trip. 

       Not only does it tastes good, the spaghetti holds its share really well.  Have you noticed that the samples are inside the slow cooker?  That tells a lot especially to us GF pasta eaters. 

           By now, I'm sure you already know that I am a big supporter of local businesses.  Here's my latest find - DF Mavens Ice Cream! Well, technically they are not from Jersey but hey Astoria, NY is not that far.  I can't wait to visit them soon.  After all, they made me feel good about having ice cream for breakfast!

           Here's a "selfie" with the gorgeous and super sweet friend from Ian's Natural Foods.  Did you know that they do have a GF Panko Bread Crumbs? I'll be bugging my local stores (as always) about it really soon.  

       Ola! Foods has been a big supporter of our blog since the start.  Here's a picture with the company's founder Dina.  Just in case you don't know, there's a giveaway currently running for a $45 Granola Gift pack here on the blog. Make sure to join.   


         It's always fun chatting with company reps. Check out that big pack of Way Better Snacks! Okay, the one she's holding is actually a pillow but hey I like it too. Funny how she's very generous with the samples yet totally watchful with that particular prop.  Many attendees including me are trying to snag it but with no success.  

         New this year are our friends from World Foods Sauces.  I have tried some of their products before and even made my Asian Style Ratatouille recipe using their Thai Coconut Galangal Sauce.  It is so surprising to learn that they have other gluten free and food allergy friendly.  I can't wait to share with you the contents of the gift bag I got from them.  

       Though food was my top priority for attending the event, I wouldn't miss the chance to personally say hi to Andrea and Jay of Red Apple Lipstick.  This awesome couple has been a big blessing to me. Because of them, I didn't have to sacrifice my love for lipsticks and beauty products.

     Can you imagine my predicament when I was told to remove all the things my children are allergic to from the house?  I totally understand the need to get rid of all the unsafe food.  What made me almost lost my sanity was finding out that there are food and other harmful ingredients on basic things like soaps, shampoo, cleaning products and even cosmetics.  

       Their products have allowed me to still enjoy my bright lipsticks and make up in general  without feeling guilty of being close to the kids.     

         That's me all smiles while juggling all the bags filled with samples and coupons from Day 1.  

      There are still so much to share about the GFAF Expo.  In fact, I can make a whole novel (maybe, if I just have the time) out of it.  As you can see, it is definitely worth it to attend a GFAF Expo.  
        So, will I see you there next year?

- Roz

Friday, September 5, 2014

Review & Giveaway: Ola! Foods Granola

      It has been a roller coaster week!  From trying to squeeze in some last minute summer activities, preparing for the kids' first day of school, managing the household and yes, stealing some time to "work", I can't blame myself for sleeping on the couch the last 2 nights.  What?  At least, I was able to get some snooze.  

      Anyway, today I finally had some undivided hours to finish the endless drafts I have sitting on my computer. This one for sure will get you really excited.  

      Have you heard about the company called Ola! Foods?  Before the GFAF Expo last year, I haven't either.  However, after meeting it's founder, Dina Houser in their booth, I couldn't help but not only enjoy their delicious products but support their very generous cause as well.  

      For starters, Ola! Foods is a Connecticut based business that makes 100% natural granola. Aside from being completely gluten free, their products only contain minimal ingredients that we, consumers can immediately understand.  It is lightly sweetened with pure maple syrup which makes it healthier than most commercially available brands.  By using only the best pure ingredients, they were able to create their granola really flavorful and yes guilt free addictive.  

      Ola! Granola comes in 4 yummy flavors namely Cranberry Orange Pecan, Vanilla Almond, No Nut Vanilla and our family's favorite Chocolate Banana Chip.  Since we are NUT Free at home, the company sent me the last two varieties to try.  

      At first, I was quite hesitant to give let the kids (except for for Child#1 who outgrew her nut allergies) to try it.  This is mostly because of the Allergen warning that says "Ola Foods follows good manufacturing practices to segregate ingredients to avoid cross contact with allergen.  Made in a facility that uses Tree Nuts.  However, after some testings, I found out that it was safe for the other kids to eat as well.  Yay! Happy dance!  

      Since that revelation, it became a staple in my pantry and even baked goods.  Shhh... it's the secret ingredient of the Chocolate Banana Bread that was a big seller at last year's Bake Sale Fundraiser.        

        Another important thing why I'm passionate about Ola! Foods is their commitment to not just provide healthy and yummy snack options but to help disadvantaged youth, their families and communities.  Did you know that all of their net profits (Yes you got that right 100%) are donated to BeFoundation?  This organization provides grants to support the education of disadvantage kids. They provide funding for education innovations, exposure to arts and music, nutrition for the body & mind and most importantly community development and involvement. 

       By supporting Ola! Foods, we are not just getting healthier physically, we are also making a change to make the future generations a lot better.  Is that cool or what? 

        Now for the best part of this post.  
        Our friends from Ola! Foods would not only like you to try their products. They are helping you stock up this back to school season.  One lucky reader will get an Ola!Foods Gift Pack worth $45. This includes:

        (1) Ola Tote Bag
        (1) 9 oz bag of No Nut Vanilla  Granola
        (1) 9 oz bag of Banana Chocolate Chip Granola
        (1) 9 oz bag of Vanilla Almond Granola
        (1) 9 oz bag of Cranberry Orange Pecan Granola
        (2) Trays of the 1 oz Grab and Go Singles

          Isn't that a big treat?  Oh before I forget, this giveaway is open to all US Residents only.  What are you waiting for join now.  This giveaway will end on Sept. 16, 11:59 pm EST.   

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