Best new product finds 2017- Part 1

I decided that I would make a lengthy post today about all of the amazing new allergy friendly brands I found this year. When I started to go through all of them, I realized that there are SO many. This is great news for all of us, you included, but too much for one post. This will be the first of two parts. Stay tuned for part 2 soon. I was able to travel for work this year to Portland, Oregon for Gluten Free Food Allergy Fest (GFFAFEST) where I had a booth to promote my business. A few weeks later I headed to Denver, Colorado to meet up with some other amazing food allergy bloggers for a Food Allergy Bloggers Conference (FABLOGCON). These two events were inspiring, encouraging, helped me solidify the vision I have for my business, and allowed me to meet some amazing people and brands. I’m so excited to share these all with you over the next two posts. At the bottom of the post, I also added the recipe for my amazing tortillas. I keep getting asked for them, and since it’s Friday when I typically share a recipe, you get it down below. ๐Ÿ™‚ Don’t skip all the great new products I found on your way to snag the recipe!

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As always, my goal is to give complete honest reviews on products that we have tried. I don’t get paid for any product reviews, but I did get many of these as samples from GFFAFEST and FABLOGCON. These are listed in no particular order.

Hammond’s Candies Peppermint Stirrers

These Hammond’s Candies Peppermint Stirrers were a product that I found at my local natural grocery store. I have searched high and low for a candy cane type item that my corn intolerant girls can eat. Two years ago I found these and we haven’t looked back. My girls absolutely LOVE these. They taste just like a candy cane, but have the texture of a soft dinner mint, the ones that melt in your mouth. These stirrers are so fun to put in hot chocolate. Since these are softer than a traditional candy cane you can suck liquid through them like a straw. What’s not to love about that?! Hammond’s Candies also uses all natural food coloring with is an awesome added bonus! This company is out of Denver, I so wish I could have gone to meet them when I was there. Next time!

Bloomfield Farms Sandwich Bread
Bloomfield Farms Sandwich Bread 2

Are any of you in the market for amazing Top 8 Free (no wheat, dairy, soy, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, shell fish) sandwich bread? My youngest daughter is currently on an egg free diet (along with many other frees) to see if it helps her health. While I make my own top 8 free bread, we were heading to Phoenix for Christmas so I needed to find a good packaged alternative. I asked my friend The Allergy Chef and this Bloomfield Farms Gluten Free Sandwich Bread is the one she recommended. It far surpassed all of our expectations. We have loved Udi’s and Rudi’s bread (both have egg white) for years. This bread trumps anything we have tried. It is soft, doesn’t need to be toasted, and tastes great. The price is comparable as well. If you purchase their bread mix it’s far less expensive. You can’t go wrong with this bread!

Free2b Chocolates
Free2b Chocolate Bars

I met the Free2b folks at FABLOGCON in Denver. They were so kind, helpful, and loved to give away loads of their chocolate. ๐Ÿ™‚ Their products are top 12 free (peanut free, tree nut free, dairy free, gluten free, soy free, egg free, fish free, shell fish free, no corn, sesame free, coconut free, mustard free). I mean come on, what’s not to love for a food allergy family?! I stashed the pile of chocolate that I got from them in my closet until Christmas. They made the perfect stocking stuffers. My girls were beyond thrilled to get sunbutter cups, mint cups, dark chocolate with peppermint, and chocolate rice crisp bars. Free2b is chocolate heaven for food allergy folks. Their products are really good and will become a staple here!

Forager Project Chips

I found these new super food Forager Project Chips through Erica at Celiac and the Best. She was raving about them being gluten free and dairy free. I figured I must need to try them. My mother in law bought some while we were visiting them in Phoenix for Christmas. They are packed with organic vegetable, are gluten, dairy, and corn free. I really love these chips! There might just be times when I eat a whole bag in one sitting. ๐Ÿ˜‰ I will say though that the “cheesy” flavor comes from nutritional yeast which I don’t think tastes much like cheese. It might be cheese like to a small degree, but I wouldn’t say these taste cheesy. That’s not to say they aren’t amazing, because they are, just don’t go into eating them thinking they will taste like a dorito. The one downside I found to them is that they come pretty crumbled. There are some whole and intact chips, but most of them came crushed. That’s likely because the chips are made of vegetable and don’t stay together as well as corn. I’m not really sure, that’s just my educated guess. None the less, I high recommend these. ๐Ÿ™‚

Enjoy Life Products

Enjoy Life products have always been my girls favorite. I found them many years ago when my middle was first diagnosed with severe food allergies. Their products have been a staple in our house and well loved. My girls take their cookies to school every few months to leave in the cupboards as safe snacks when parties happen at school. Enjoy life has come out with some new products this year so of course my girls were thrilled to try them. I also had the pleasure of meeting the Enjoy Life crew at both GFFAFEST and FABLOGCON. They are a huge supporter of our food allergy community. Alright, onto some of their new products that we have tried. All of Enjoy Life’s foods are top 8 free and so is their facility. Plentils came out earlier this year which are chips made from lentils and potato starch. We first tried the plain which my girls really liked until they tried the dill and ranch. My girls LOVE the Dill and Sour Cream Plentils so much that they, along with a non food allergic neighbor, made up a song about them. Seriously, they are SO good!! We look forward to trying their other new flavors as well. Next we tried their new Coco Loco Baked Chewy Bars. Again, my girls love these. As a mom who doesn’t feed her kids very much sugar I would make these dessert, not a snack or granola bar. They are definitely delicious. Last on our list of new products from Enjoy Life was their Chocolate Chip Handcrafted Crunchy Cookies. We have been long time fans of their Soft Baked Chocolate Chip Cookies. Enjoy Life continues to be one of our staple store bought safe treats.

*There are affiliate links above for your convenience and helps support my blog ๐Ÿ™‚ always be sure to check ingredients to be sure the items are safe for you.

UmpalaRAIN Tortillas

Tortillas

Ingredients
2/3 C Brown rice flour
2/3 C White rice flour
2/3 C Tapioca starch
1 t Guar gum
ยฝ t Cream of tartar
ยผ t Baking soda
1 t Salt
1 C Warm water

Directions
If you have a tortillas press plug it in and set it to medium high. Tear a large piece of parchment paper that is big enough to fold in half and fit in your press. If you don’t have a tortilla press, I HIGHLY recommend getting one. It is worth every penny. I have the Chef Pro 8 inch Tortillas Press and love it.

In a large bowl mix together all dry ingredients well with a spoon. Add water to dry mixture and mix until well combined. The dough should be a bit sticky, but not terrible thick. If you use an in expensive brand of flours you may need to adjust the liquid. I use a tortilla press to make these which saves a ton of time. Using a large cookie scoop place dough on tortilla press with parchment paper, press down, let cook for about 30 seconds, then remove and place on a plate. Enjoy!

If you are making these by hand with a frying pan I would still use a cookie scoop to get even balls. Then use a baking mat dusted with extra tapioca starch. Place a ball of dough on the mat, sprinkle the top of the dough with more tapioca starch, then roll out into a circle. Spray pan with non-stick spray and fry each side for 10-15 seconds. Repeat until done.

This recipe works really well to double.

Scoops!

You want the scoop on my scoops?! ๐Ÿ™‚ I absolutely love everything about a set of * scoops These are almost a part of my daily baking, they are that helpful. If you plan on doing a lot of baking or cooking, I highly suggest finding yourself a set of ice cream/cookie scoops. I have found them called both, but I call them ice cream scoops in my recipes. I use these in so many different ways, I will post several pictures below that I used scoops for. The possibilities are endless really.

Here are several of the reasons that I love using scoops:
1. They are quick and easy to use
2. They are dishwasher friendly (can I get an amen to that since a lot of my kitchen tools can’t be?)
3. It is a great way to get even amounts of things. This way my girls can’t grumble that someone else’s food is bigger ๐Ÿ˜‰
4. They are so versatile in the kitchen. See below for all the ways I use them.

Now for pictures ๐Ÿ™‚

I make muffins by the 4 dozen. No joke, I do this every 10 days or so. My family eats muffins for breakfast every day, so scooping makes my life a whole lot easier and faster. The largest scoop is the perfect muffin size.

Ok, fine, you are going to begin to see that I make most things in bulk. I make tortillas in HUGE stacks and freeze them. By huge stacks, I mean 8 cups of dough, big. Again, the scoops make my life so much faster and easier here. I use the largest scoop for these as well.

No picture here, but I use my smallest scoop to make melon balls because my youngest insists that I do. In all honesty, I don’t prefer to do this, but for her? Anything! This takes longer than cutting, but it works well none the less.

We love a good healthy snack/dessert around here so we make date balls often. My second from the smallest scoop is the perfect size for these.

I do actually use my scoops for ice cream. ๐Ÿ™‚ The largest scoop, of course!

Several other things that I use scoops for are frango chocolates, cupcakes, dinner rolls, small brownie bites, pie filling for small pies, cookies, bread sticks, buns, and more. Hopefully you find this helpful. Scoops forever changed my life in the kitchen, I hope they do for you too. ๐Ÿ™‚

* This is an affiliate link for your convenience and to help keep my site running. I will always give my honest opinion, for me, there’s no other way to be. Also, I am a frugal shopper and I like to pass that on to my readers as well. ๐Ÿ™‚

Tortilla Press Review

I told you all last week that I would give you my review on the *tortilla press that I have. Honestly, I LOVE this tortilla press so much. I think I made tortillas by hand one time which included rolling them all out and then frying each one individually. If you must do that, it works, but man it is a lot of work. For me, it wasn’t worth making tortillas at that pace.

A few things that you will learn about me more and more are that I am frugal where I can be, I save time when I can, I make simple but tasty foods, I skip unnecessary steps in recipes to save time, and I’m a bit unconventional in the kitchen to be able to do the things mentioned above. There are times that I have to decide which of the above are the most important if I can’t squeeze them all into one recipe. I think the tortillas fit into most of the above. The press wasn’t terribly expensive, it saves me SO much time, it is simple and easy to use, but this one isn’t unconventional. You can see a video on how easy they are to make under my oat tortilla recipe. It really is amazing how fast and simple it is.

Tortillas

Ingredients

2/3 C Brown rice flour
2/3 C White rice flour
2/3 C Tapioca starch
1 t Guar gum
ยฝ t Cream of tartar
ยผ t Baking soda
1 t Salt
1 C Warm water

Directions
In a large bowl mix together all dry ingredients well with a spoon. Add water to dry mixture and mix until well combined. The dough is a bit sticky. I use a tortilla maker to make these which saves a ton of time. Using a large cookie scoop place dough on tortilla maker, press down, let cook for about 30 seconds, then remove and place on a plate. Enjoy!

If you are making these by hand with a frying pan I would still use a cookie scoop to get even balls. Then use a baking mat dusted with extra tapioca starch. Place a ball of dough on the mat, sprinkle the top of the dough with more tapioca starch, then roll out into a circle. Spray pan with non-stick spray and fry each side for 10-15 seconds. Repeat until done.

This recipe works really well to double.

The one thing that I really don’t like about my tortilla press is that it’s not that easy to clean. While the press says it is non-stick, I find that I need to use non-stick spray to ensure my tortillas don’t stick. With that, the grease from the spray leaks out the bottom (see the photo below). This is definitely not a deal breaker for me, but something I think is important to share with you all. I clean it the best I can and then I store it with a paper towel underneath it.

Now for my unconventional idea with the tortilla press. For a long time, I have been wanting to make home made ice cream cones that are cane sugar free for my family. I found a great looking recipe that I want to try, but I just can’t get myself to buy an ice cream cone press. While it would be fun to have ice cream cones with the checkered pattern, I don’t think it is necessary to have the pattern and add another gadget to my kitchen. I am going to attempt to make ice cream cones with this tortilla press. ๐Ÿ™‚ Wish me luck and I’ll let you know how my pattern free ice cream cones turn out.

* This is an affiliate link for your convenience and to help keep my site running. I will always give my honest opinion, for me, there’s no other way to be. Also, I am a frugal shopper and I like to pass that on to my readers as well. ๐Ÿ™‚

Oat Tortillas

I wrote about my love for oats a week or two ago and had someone request the recipe for the oat tortillas. This has to be one of the simplest recipes that I make. Hopefully you find it just as simple and delicious as I do. I will say that having a tortilla press makes my life SO much easier since I make somewhere between 60-80 tortillas a month. Here is the tortilla press I have. Next week I will do a review on the one I have, as there are many to choose from.

Oat Tortillas

Ingredients
2 ยฝ C Gluten Free Oat flour
1 C Warm water
ยฝ t Salt

Directions
If you have a tortilla press, which I highly recommend, plug it in and let it warm up on medium heat. If you do not have a tortilla press, prepare a small frying pan on your stove with olive oil in the bottom. Also get out two pieces of parchment paper and prepare them with non-stick spray.

To make your own oat flour, simply take your regular gluten free oats and blend them in a high powered blender until it becomes flour. In a medium sized bowl add the oat flour and salt mixing well to combine. Then add the water and mix thoroughly together until you have a very thick paste like consistency. The mix shouldn’t be drippy or too heavy and thick. Watch the video above, to see the correct consistency. If the mix comes out too watery, simply add more oat flour. If the mix comes out too dry, simply add more water a tablespoon at a time. This mix will get thicker as it sits. For those of you that do not have a tortilla press, you need your mix to be on the thick side or you will have a difficult time getting it off the parchment paper. If it takes you a long time to make all of the tortillas and the mix is too dry at the end, just add more water, a tablespoon at a time. It’s hard to go wrong here, I promise!

If you have a tortilla press, simply prepare it with non-stick spray, then drop a medium sized cookie scoop of the mix on to the middle, press and wait about 10-15 seconds. Take it out with a spatula and let it cool on a plate. Repeat that step until your mix is gone.

If you don’t have a tortilla press, turn your stove onto medium heat and warm up your pan with oil in it. While the pan in warming, drop a medium sized cookie scoop onto your greased parchment paper and cover it with the second piece. Either with your hand or a rolling pin, flatten out your tortilla ball until it is about 1/8 inch thick. Gently pull off the top layer and parchment paper and flip the tortilla into the warm frying pan and peel off the now top layer of parchment paper. Fry for 10 seconds and flip to fry for another 5 seconds. When the tortillas are done, place them on a plate lined with paper towel to absorb any extra oil. Repeat that step until your mix is gone. Enjoy warm or freeze them in a big pile once they have cooled.

A few days ago on Instagram, I posted a picture of the guacamole and the oat chips you see below. Someone told me that I had been holding out on you all about oat chips. I laughed and then figured I would throw that recipe up with the tortillas since you can’t make the chips without the tortillas. Perfect timing that Super Bowl Sunday is in tomorrow. It’s always fun to bring a new, simple, yet fabulous dish. So go ahead and make the tortillas and the chips. They will be a crowd pleaser for sure!! Of course, guacamole is a definite MUST! Press on friends, press on, the tortillas are worth it. ๐Ÿ™‚

Why I love oats

About three years ago, I had just completed 90 days on the Whole30, with the exception of only being able to eat 2 fruits. I did this for health reasons, and it worked for me. After the 90 days was up, I had lost quite a bit of weight and needed to be able to add more foods into my diet, but my gut wasn’t very happy with very many foods. The one food that I was able to add to my diet was oats. At first this felt disappointing since I didn’t like oatmeal for breakfast and cookies were off limits for me. I have learned though that when I am in a bind of some sort, I am fiercely determined to not let it get the best of me. So I made up my mind that I was going to learn to love oats.

It took me several months to find recipes that I liked, that fit my specific dietary restrictions, and ones that wouldn’t take forever to make. This began my journey of all things oats, and I do mean all things. I have tried almost everything possible with oats and found that they are an amazing food for lots of reasons. Now I absolutely LOVE oats and eat them multiple times a day. Since it is the only grain I have been able to eat for years now, it has become my best food friend. Here are the reasons that I love oats so much.

1. Oats don’t have a ton of flavor. While this might sound boring, it really is amazing. Because it is pretty bland in flavor, it really can go with most foods really easily.

2. Oats are very forgiving. When cooking/baking with oats if you added too much liquid, no worries just add a bit more oats. If your oats are a bit dry, just add more liquid until it is the right consistency. I actually rarely measure when I am making items with oats because I know that I can easily add more oats or liquid depending on what I need. This is a huge bonus for me.

3. When oats are met with liquid, they stick together. I can’t eat any gums (guar, xanthan, etc.) so this too is a huge win for me.

4. Oats are very simple to work with and recipes come out very quickly when I use oats. One flour, no gums, or any other ingredients. Win all around.

5. Oats have a lot of health benefits as well which is great. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration claims that oats, as part of an overall heart healthy diet, could lower the risk of heart disease.

The possible health benefits of oats include: reducing the risk of coronary artery disease, lowering levels of cholesterol, and reducing one’s risk of colorectal cancer. http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/270680.php

I bet you are wondering what I have actually made successfully with just oats. Here is a list, though not likely exhaustive, but my main staples with a few pictures.

Breakfast bars. I have eaten these breakfast bars every morning for the last three years, maybe a handful of times I have skipped these. They are definitely a staple for me.

Oat pancakes. Who doesn’t love a good pancake? Oats make great pancakes!

Oat tortillas. I make these in huge batches and freeze them. I use them for sandwiches, “quesadillas”, buns, chips, etc. These are very versatile and I also eat these in one fashion or another every day.

Pizza crust. I’m not one to cry over missed food. While it can feel discouraging sometimes, I’ve learned to be thankful for what I can eat. When I made this pizza crust, I nearly shed a tear, seriously. It was that good and exploded my mind for the possibilities of what oats could do for me.

Oat Crackers. Everyone needs a simple go to snack, including me. Of course I eat a lot of fruits, veggies, and nuts for snacks, but sometimes I just want a good cracker. I have made these multiple times with multiple different seasonings and they are great to have around.

Oat muffins. I have made all kinds of muffins with just oats, you might be surprised. Again, I love the versatility of oats. Sometimes I add nut or seed butter into my muffin mix which works well too.

Oat cookies. I went for years without having a cookie, or any dessert for that matter. One night I was determined to make myself a chocolate chip cookie without any sugar, without a “gum”, or a rising agent (baking soda, baking powder, etc) because I couldn’t have any of those. My mom and I texted back and forth about how to do this and I was determined to make it happen. What came out was utterly amazing! Who knew?! Next came a pumpkin cookie that was just as fabulous. My world has changed because of oats. If you have food allergies or restrictions, I promise life doesn’t have to be boring in the food department. It just takes more creativity than it once did. It is possible to have food allergies and restrictions and eat amazing food!

Bulk Baking

IMG_7178bulkfreezer

I have been asked several times how I keep my family fed when I have to make the vast majority of what we eat. The answer is simple, but making it happen takes time. Bulk baking is the only way that I can realistically keep bread on the table, literally. Early on, we invested in a large freestanding freezer that sits in our garage, which holds meat, sauces, fruit, and a few other random items. In our freezer that attaches to our refrigerator which feels small, I put desserts, breakfast items, bread items, and frozen veggies. Without all of the freezer space we have, I wouldnโ€™t be able to bulk bake the way I like to.

Typically, about twice a week, I spend several hours baking. Since I still have two daughters at home during the day, they bake with me or I bake while they nap. The items that I typically make in bulk are, muffins for breakfast, sandwich bread, egg cups for breakfast, buns, tortillas, and any dessert. I choose to bake all of these in bulk because they arenโ€™t items that can be baked quickly, they disappear quickly, and/or we donโ€™t eat them daily so they arenโ€™t on the top of my head to make when I really need them.

Ziplocks and permanent markers have become two of my best baking friends. I freeze all of my baked goods in Ziplock freezer bags and then label the item with what it is and who can/canโ€™t eat it. Since our family has a very long list of allergies and intolerances between us, labeling is really important for us. I want to be sure that anyone (babysitter, grandparents, friends, etc) who opens my freezer to pull an item out knows who can eat the contents in the bag.

A few weeks ago, I had one of my dear friends over that lives in another state. We ate dinner and then I asked if she wanted dessert. She asked what I had so I went over to my trusty freezer to tell her. To my surprise, I listed at least 10 different dessert choices. Clearly I have a sweet spot for making desserts even though I canโ€™t eat any of them myself. I find myself seeing amazing desserts online in so many places, tell myself that I can surely make that yummy dessert for my family, and enjoy the smell of baked goods. Since this time, I have put myself on a no baking new desserts restriction. โ˜บ When the dessert stockpile begins to dwindle, I have some amazing recipes to fill my freezer back up. HA!

I would love to work with you to help learn to bulk bake, or just to begin the journey of allergy friendly baking. Contact me to find out how I can help you.

*Note- This picture was taken the day I brought home 1/2 of a grass fed cow. My freezer isn’t normally that full. I just snapped this with my phone to show my husband that I did in fact get all of the meat in the freezer, barely.