Mar 27, 2010

Review: Chobani Champions

Chobani Champions is a line of Greek yogurt for kids that is sold in a package of four, which contains two flavors. I purchased the Chocolate and Honeynana. There is also a Veryberry and Strawnana pack. I am big fan of Chobani Greek yogurt, so I was eager to try the Chobani Champions. All Chobani is certified gluten-free.

The cups are smaller than a regular Chobani cup – only 4 ounces. Each small cup contains 9 grams of protein. For kids who find the texture of regular Chobani too thick, the Champions line would be perfect. Not only is the yogurt thinner, but it is also creamier.

The Chocolate Chobani isn’t rich and there is a bit of a tangy taste. Kids would probably want a stronger chocolate taste. I don’t normally eat chocolate yogurt, but I would eat it again.

The Honeynana is fantastic and is now my favorite Chobani flavor! I quickly finished the small cup and scraped every last bit of yogurt out of it. I felt like Heidi Klum in the Dannon Light & Fit yogurt commercial!

Mar 26, 2010

A Money Saving Tip

A great perk of contacting companies by phone or on the Web to inquire about products is the coupons they often mail. Earlier this week I signed up for the Lundberg mailing list. Yesterday, I received three $1 Lundberg coupons in the mail (thanks Mom for the tip).

Here are some other companies I remember receiving coupons from: Colgate-Palmolive, Citracal (Bayer), Caesar’s pasta, Amy’s Kitchen, and Edy’s. Both Colgate and Bayer sent many good coupons for their various products. Caesar’s sent many $0.25 coupons, but now that Giant is selling their products, the coupons can be doubled. Please share the companies that sent you coupons to help us all save money!

Mar 21, 2010

My New Gluten-Free Blog and Lessons Learned

Back in November, I had the idea to start a new gluten-free blog to help build my career in freelance writing and social media as well as to share my knowledge. Instead of linking it to this blog and using my name, I thought it would be interesting to do it anonymously for a few months to see how easy or difficult it is now to start a new gluten-free blog and get blog traffic.

On my new blog I identified myself as being from the Mid-Atlantic and provided a description of myself.

I am a freelance writer, Examiner, and a gluten-free product reviewer, who uses social media daily. I blog frequently at a popular gluten-free blog I started one year ago.

I chose a blog template that looks completely different than the Gluten Free Optimist. I used a dark background and header tabs. I quickly learned that header tabs are much easier in Wordpress.

Perhaps you followed gfsocialmedia on Twitter or Facebook, became a fan on my Facebook page, or joined the bloggers group I started on Gluten-Free Faces. Are you surprised?

I quickly got many Twitter followers and 34 fans on my Facebook page, but sadly, no followers on my blog and still not much traffic. The biggest obstacle I ran into was that despite several emails I was not added to the Gluten-Free Aggregrator. Mike assures me I will be eventually added, however he is so busy with life changes, that he simply can’t keep up. So, for people starting a new gluten-free blog in a time when the web is already flooded with gluten-free, patience, persistence, and connections are essential.

Visit my new blog, Gluten-Free Social Media Tips. Please become a follower, subscribe via email, become a fan on Facebook, and share your comments!

Mar 19, 2010

Review: Lundberg Couscous

Lundberg’s new gluten-free Roasted Brown Rice Couscous is made from organic brown rice that has been gently crushed and fire roasted to produce a nutty flavor. I purchased two of the four varieties at MOM’s: Plain Original and Savory Herb. The other two flavors are Mediterranean Curry and Roasted Garlic and Olive Oil.

After cooking it on low heat for the maximum time of 15 minutes without removing the lid, letting it stand for five minutes, and fluffing with a fork, the couscous had a terrific fluffy texture. Cooking it for the minimum time of 13 minutes produced a less fluffy couscous.

The Plain Original is a nice change from having regular brown rice. The Savory Herb Couscous had a wonderful mild flavor that reminded me of stuffing. I highly enjoyed it! While the Plain Original has instructions for cooking only a portion of the box, the flavored varieties are designed to cook the entire box at one time (four servings). Surprisingly, the Savory Herb yielded four substantial servings, larger in size than the Lundberg Risottos. The leftover Savory Herb Couscous still tasted great after heating it up in the microwave. I will definitely be buying more!

Mar 16, 2010

Recall: Gluten-Free Naturals

GFN Foods, the maker or Gluten-Free Naturals, is recalling several products because the soy flour used in the products may contain traces of salmonella. The products were sold online and in stores in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic. Below are the three recalled products.

Gluten-Free Naturals Pancake Mix – UPC 187058 000043
Lots 09159 (exp 12/8/2010), 09320 (exp 5/16/12) 09322 (exp 5/18/12)

Gluten-Free Naturals Light & Moist Yellow Cake Mix – UPC 187058 000067
Lots 09083 (exp 9/24/10) and 09322 (exp 5/18/12)

Gluten-Free Naturals Cookie Blend Flour – UPC 187058 000029
Lots 09086 (exp 6/24/10), 09219 (exp 11/7/10) and 10035 (exp 5/4/11)

However, the company explains that if the mixes are prepared in accordance with the directions and you do not eat any of the raw batter or mix before cooking, then there "is essentially no risk" of getting sick. If you would still like to return the products, then contact GFN Foods via email: or call 866-761-6147.

Mar 15, 2010

New Mystery Product from Enjoy Life Foods

On June 1, the new mystery product from Enjoy Life Foods will be on shelves. The company is keeping the product top secret, but has dropped some hints on their Facebook page. Here are the four hints.

1. “Crunchtime” is currently the name for the mystery product.
2. “But we can share with you that the new product is a great tasting, healthy alternative, uniquely developed, explosively flavorful, and it takes Enjoy Life into a totally new food category for the company.”
3. Enjoy Life posted a photo of the mysterious silver bags on their Facebook page.
4. In the Facebook comments, they said it is for humans. There were guesses that it was dog food.

At first, based on the hints above, I was thinking it would be some kind of baked chip, cracker, or pretzel. However, Enjoy Life already makes several foods that are snacks, so that doesn’t fit the criteria for “a totally new food category”. Any guesses? My guess is individual packages of croutons, which would certainly be handy for eating out.

Fourth-Grader with Diabetes and Celiac Disease Qualifies for the Junior Olympics

Sage Donnelly, a 9-year-old who lives in Nevada, will be competing in the Junior Olympics this summer in kayaking. She was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes when she was 3-years-old and celiac disease in 2008. She is also a vegetarian.

Like her parents, Sage is skilled at outdoor activities, including skiing and rock climbing. She hasn’t let her medical conditions slow her down. Sage is homeschooled and spends about half the year traveling to different rivers for kayaking competitions and practice. She is looking forward to kayaking in Mexico and hopes one day to win a gold medal in the Olympics.

Visit Sage’s terrific website, view her two recipes for gluten-free and diabetic friendly cookies, and become a fan on Facebook.

Mar 13, 2010

Kate Gosselin Introduces Award Winner for Celiac Disease Awareness

Today at the Women’s Expo in Indiana sponsored by the Memorial Hospital of South Bend, guest speaker Kate Gosselin introduced Memorial’s three Spirit of Women award winners. Now, when an article about a celebrity shows up on a Google alert about celiac disease, it certainly interests me, even if it is only about a small event. The event had feminist protesters, thus increasing the media coverage.

Elayne Swafford, 11, won the Young Person Role Model award for her efforts to raise more than $1,800 for the American Heart Association's Healthy Heart campaign.

Judith Rubleske was designated the ‘Community Hero’ for her initiation of the Earth Friendly Eating Event and a unity garden.

And Jeannie Derrow, a registered nurse, was awarded for her efforts to raise awareness of celiac disease and the start up of a support network for those who suffer from it

You can read more about the award winners on the Memorial Hospital website.

Mar 12, 2010

Video: High School Tennis Star with Celiac Disease

Watch this video of an award winning high school tennis star recently diagnosed with celiac disease. Brooke Ferslov-Jensen is a freshman who is the top player on the varsity tennis team at Sultana High School in California. She was diagnosed with celiac disease when she was in 8th grade.

Mar 11, 2010

Large Recall of Many Products Made with Hydrolyzed Vegetable Protein

Check this FDA list daily for the latest products added to the hydrolyzed vegetable protein (HVP) recall. Some of the recalled products may be gluten-free. On March 10, there were 149 products listed.

"The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is actively investigating findings of Salmonella Tennessee in hydrolyzed vegetable protein (HVP) manufactured by Basic Food Flavors, Inc., in Las Vegas, NV. HVP is a flavor enhancer used in a wide variety of processed food products, such as soups, sauces, chilis, stews, hot dogs, gravies, seasoned snack foods, dips, and dressings. It is often blended with other spices to make seasonings that are used in or on foods.

At this time, no illnesses associated with this contamination have been reported to the FDA."

Mar 6, 2010

WOW Cookies and Brownies: Review and Free Cookie Promotion

WOW cookies and brownies are certified gluten-free and made with all natural ingredients. After hearing so many good things about WOW products, I emailed the company to see if they wanted to send me free samples to review. They sent me samples of all of their individually wrapped cookies and brownies.

The gourmet cookies and brownies are very moist and not crumbly. Each thick large cookie and brownie contains two servings, and one serving is very filling. My daughter and I enjoyed sharing these products, which taste homemade. All flavors were great, except for the Ginger Molasses, which I didn’t like. My daughter’s favorite was the Chocolate Brownie and then the Peanut Butter cookie. Here is my ranking of the products I liked.

1. Oregon Oatmeal – It contains apricots and cranberries, but tastes simply like a fantastic oatmeal raisin cookie.
2. Snickerdoodle – A perfect version of a classic cookie.
3. Peanut Butter – A strong peanut butter taste and very sweet. This was the first cookie we tried, and I said to my daughter, "WOW, that is sweet!"
4. Chocolate Brownie – It contains large chocolate chips and is not too rich.
5. Chocolate Chip – Also contains many large chocolate chips and tastes good, but the texture wasn’t as good as the other cookies.

"Because WOW Cookies are made from all natural ingredients without the use of preservatives we recommend eating them within 2 weeks of their arrival, if left out at room temperature. To save some for later simply place them in the freezer; their high freezer grade packaging will protect them from freezer burn for up to 6 months. To thaw leave on the counter for 30 min."

You can receive a free WOW cookie in the flavor of your choice by completing a brief form on the WOW Baking website. The cookies and brownies can be purchased online in a 6-pack for $9 or a 12-pack for $17. Tubs and boxes of mini cookies are available as well as cake mixes. WOW also makes gluten-free cookie dough. WOW is not sold in stores in the DC area, but is available at many retail locations throughout the country.

Mar 4, 2010

Celiac Disease Information in the eVitamins Blog and Health Encyclopedia

I am guest blogging on the eVitamins blog. Read my first post called “Surprising Symptoms of Celiac Disease”, and read my other posts about vitamin K and iron. The eVitamins blog has many informative articles from several health experts on a variety of topics. They have a health encyclopedia, which has information about celiac disease.

Also, eVitamins sells many gluten-free products, including Kay’s Naturals products at great discounted prices. They offer flat rate shipping for only $4.95. Follow them on twitter @evitamins and become a fan on Facebook.

Mar 2, 2010

My Fundraising Article in Gluten-Free Living Magazine

This issue of Gluten-Free Living magazine has two articles that I wrote. You can find my articles in the features section called "Widespread GF giving," which begins on page 38. I wrote a long and inspiring article that is four pages called "10 ways to raise money for celiac research" and a one page article called "First GF food bank opens."

Learn about an easy gluten-free fundraising alternative to selling Girl Scout cookies, an innovative way a celiac support group raises money instead of charging dues, and many things that YOU can do to raise money for celiac research! I really enjoyed writing this article and interviewing so many people by email. The issue has a fantastic eye-catching cover with lipstick tubes, and the table of contents can be viewed on the Gluten-Free Living website. You can still subscribe to Gluten-Free Living and receive this terrific issue in your mailbox soon.

Update June 2010:  I am now writing New for You in every issue of Gluten-Free Living.