Gluten Free Casein Free Hallowe’en

The “worst” time of year to be a GFCF parent has got to be Hallowe’en.  So many treats, so many pitfalls. We all know our kids shouldn’t eat junk food, but “it’s just one night!” – is the argument you will hear (and possibly have with yourself).  So, what’s a concerned, careful parent to do?

The options, as I see them are as follows:

1.  Refuse to participate in the Hallowe’en candy begging.  This works if your kids have never “done” Hallowe’en and don’t know that they are missing out.

2.  Hallowe’en Fairy – have the kids leave their candy out for the Hallowe’en fairy who magically trades their candy for a coveted toy.  (My kids would rather have the candy)

3.  Sort the candy, once it is home & pick out what is “safe”

4.  Pre-distribute treats to the places you’ll be visiting.

Of the options, I have used both #3 and #4.  The problem with pre-delivering is that you have to stick to a pretty defined list of houses.  In my tiny town, the kids know everyone and like to vary their houses from year to year.  Plus I have to be very organized to help make this one happen.

Sorting the candy works pretty well, except you have to keep them from diving into the bag on the journey.  One way I solved this was to have a small pocketful of approved treats that could be enjoyed en route.  My kids were well trained by then to ask before anything went in their mouths.

Ideas for Approved GFCF Hallowe’en Treats that are annually distributed in our town (not sugar, soy, artificial or anything else free)

Sunmaid Raisins
Coke, Pepsi or other
Juice boxes
Old Dutch Chips (they say “Gluten Free” right on the package!)
Starburst candy
Sour Patch
Nerds & Runts
Jelly Belly jelly beans (but not the unknown kinds!)
Most gum
Jolly Ranchers
Welch’s Fruit Snacks (and they don’t get their cars egged either.  go figure….)

If you want chocolate, you’ll have to look to Enjoy Life for their chocolate bars. They are pricey but so worth it!

There are lists on the internet of safe treats, but often they are just GF, not GFCF.  Also, has anyone actually ever gotten some of those weird candies on Hallowe’en night?  (Except from the creepy, cheap old lady in the house that smells like cats??)  The above list is the real deal Moms & Dads.  My kids get most or all of these things in their treat bag every year.

If you aren’t sure about a treat, my advice is to not feed it to your kids.  Maybe set it aside for grown-up testing….or phoning the company the next day.  You know, whatever works best in your house.

Love Me Some LaraBars

DUDES!!!! I just found full boxes of LaraBars in my local Superstore for $16.00 a box!  They were on the end of the aisle, about 6 different kinds, Apple, Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip and Cherry (I think) plus others.  Me, I love the PBCC, so that’s what I bought.

I was a bit disappointed because they are not as fresh and moist as the ones I get from, (like they just came out of the “oven” practically) but hey, for $16.00, I am not going to complain!  That’s $1.00 PER BAR people, better than a chocolate bar!

I shoulda bought them out of their entire stock but that seemed a bit silly.  You know, maybe I could go back for a few more boxes later today….

Check your local Superstore - maybe they have the same deal!

Yummy Earth Organic Lollipops

Time for another product review – Yummy Earth Organic Lollipops

These are so amazing – no artifical flavours or colours, gluten free, corn free,organic, Kosher Parve, made with fruit extracts and they taste awesome.

I ordered these for my boys because I wanted something gluten free but also without all the crap that normal lollipops (candy in general) seem to have.  Since then, I’ve re-ordered for my office.  I feel really good about sharing these with other people’s children (with permission, of course) because they are a high quality treat.  We have lots of kids through here & I’ve never had a complaint about the flavour yet.  With the “old” kind, we’d find the kids would take about 2 licks and hand it back.

I get mine from in a bag of 50 for $6.00.  They have packages of assorted flavours, which I recommend until you know which one is your favorite.  Me, I’m partial to Mango Tango and Pomegranate Pucker (don’t you just love the names) but truly, any flavour will do.

For the more “grown-up” kid in your office, Yummy Earth also has individually wrapped candy drops.  So, if you’re a little too old (professional) to have a sucker stick in your mouth, these drops are just as good.  They even look nice in a candy dish on your desk.

As always, first time customers can save $5.00 on their first order by using coupon code MEN348 at check0ut.  (Which would make the first bag $1.00 – just in case I haven’t convinced you to try it yet!)


“I’m Hungry!!”

“Mom, I’m hungry!” are three words that can strike fear in the hearts of GFCF mommies. That little errand you were running took an hour and now your child is starving. Pair that up with an ASD and you have a recipe for a meltdown.

Now, “good” mothers would have an emergency stash of packaged goodies in their purse, diaper bag or glovebox. Perfect mothers would have all three. I am neither perfect nor good.

The easiest thing to do would be to hit a drive-thru, right? Throw some chicken nuggets to the backseat & enjoy the silence. Except, you can’t get GFCF nuggets at the drive-thru…..

So, here’s a list of items that might take the edge off & can be found at grocery stores and even some gas station convenience stores.

1. Orange juice – we all know we’re not supposed to drink our calories.  But a bottle of juice might be the perfect thing.  Often we think we are hungry when really we are thirsty.  Bonus points in that it is a healthy choice, offering vitamin C.

2.  Fruit-to-Go – those fruit leathers are GF last I checked & I find them in the weirdest locations.  Since I won’t buy them normally, this is a “special” treat.

3.  Starburst candy – no, this is not a food.  It isn’t even close to food.  But it is GFCF & might get you out of a candy-meltdown.  (or to offer instead of a chocolate bar)

4.  Fruit – apples, bananas, pears, grapes

5.  Vegetables – baby carrots, bagged mixed vegetables.  I avoid the deli pre-cut because of a risk of cross contamination.  Did they wipe that counter properly after making sandwiches?

6.  Tortilla chips – the “scoops” kind are GF and have to be run on a separate line due to the shape.  The others should be…but you have to use your judgement.

7.  Rice crackers – there are several kinds out there now

8.  GF cookies, cereal bars or dry cereal.  Sobeys & Safeway carry a good selection now.

9.  Old Dutch potato chips – the boxes/bags are marked Gluten Free right on the front – watch for casein in some varieties.  Plain and ripple are good & safe!

10. Envirokidz cereal bars – there are several kinds, watch for soy

See, no reason to starve.  Or risk an infraction.  Next time, we’ll both be “good” moms and remember to pack a little something in the glove box.

Where To Buy LaraBars in Canada

Do you know what the #3 all time most searched item in my stat counter is?

Some version of: Where can I find LaraBars in Canada?

Well, I know three places to buy LaraBars so I am going to tell you.

1.  Two Farm Kids Natural Foods (Brandon, MB)

2. Eat it (Winnipeg, MB)

3. (US based website, cheap shipping charges) *Use coupon code MEN348 to save $5.00 off your first order! *

Don’t live in Manitoba?  Well….all three stores will ship it to you.  (Or you could move here.  It’s true what they say about us.  Our winters are brutal but the opportunities, cost of living and friendly people completely make up for it!)

I personally love LaraBars.  They are filling.  They taste wonderful.  They are 100% gluten free.  And, just in case you are the only person who hasn’t heard of them, here’s a link to the LaraBars site.

Kinnikinnick Donuts

Move over Tim.  There’s a gluten free donut that is better than yours.  I’m not sure why I am telling you all this because the more people who know this secret, the less there is for me…….

But, in the interest of sharing my “finds”, here goes.

We love our donuts and have even tried making a GF one at home.  Total bust.  Worse than awful.  So I reluctantly bought a package of Kinnikinnick Vanilla Dipped Donuts.  They were “packaged”.  In donut world, that means gross. But I was desperate for a fix and Kinnikinnick hadn’t let me down yet.

The instructions say to heat the donut in the microwave for 10-15 seconds (because they are frozen & because that makes them yummy soft).  So, I did.  The glaze melted just a little, the donut was warm, think fresh from the oven temperature.

I hesitated, braced for a bad taste and took a bite.

I won’t lie.  The heavens opened up & angels sang Hallelujah.  It really was that good.  Warm, soft, flavourful, no hint of gluten-free grit.  In fact, I’d challenge you to know it was a gluten free item.

So, I bought the Maple Dipped ones, the cinnamon ones and the chocolate ones.  Each bite better than the last.  They come 6 to a package, last forever in the chest freezer and thaw well for the lunchbox.

Overall, the kids like them in this order: Chocolate glazed, Cinnamon, Vanilla glazed.

I prefer the Maple glazed.  (I am Canadian after all!) And, I’d guess the kids would too, if only I’d let them have one.

Do try them immediately.  But don’t tell anyone how good they are.  If word gets out about this stuff…….well, don’t say I didn’t warn you!

Lara Bar – Peanut butter cookie

I keep hearing, whispers, about this thing called a “Lara Bar”.  It is supposed to be one of the all-time greatest treats in the GFCF diet.  So, when I finally found some, I had to give it a try.  (should have bought more than 1 flavour, I think, but that’s another story)

I bought Peanut Butter Cookie Lara Bar because those are my all-time favorite cookies.  The ingredients are: Dates, Peanuts, Salt.

That’s it.  No artificials. States right on the label: No added sugar, Gluten free, dairy free, soy free, vegan, Kosher.  So, clearly, unless you have a nut allergy/intollerance, this should be a “safe” product.

It is very heavy and a substantial snack.  At 210 calories & 13 grams of fat (only 2g are saturated, no trans fats), it might almost be a meal-replacement bar.  You definately aren’t going to eat two of them in a sitting anyways!

The flavour – well, it is peanutty.  I wouldn’t go so far as to say it replaces my PB Cookies though.  It has small chips of peanuts through the bar which provides some texture.  It is a chewy bar & the peanut flecks add a little more crunch.  I really like it but I don’t think it is one my kids will like.  The peanut bits would annoy them and it isn’t “sweet” so wouldn’t replace a cookie as nicely.

For myself, this Lara Bar is a good snack.  I paid around $2.00 for it, so it is pricey compared to say a Chocolate Bar (which wouldn’t be GFCF, ok…) but as an occasional treat, is not too much.  I think I would stock up on these for loooooong car trips as an alternative to the junk food at the convenience store but not for kids lunch boxes.  My vote is: buy it for yourself, don’t waste it on the kids!

Lunch Boxes

I’ve been packing lunch boxes now since the beginning of August. Both boys get one because that way I can control what they eat at home, school and daycare.  Eric still isn’t sure he likes taking his own lunch, unless I put something special in.  I think he’d rather be like the other kids and just eat what K serves for lunch.  (I am sure K has seen a drop in her grocery budget, because I saw a big spike in mine!)

Nathan’s all-time favourite lunch is GFCF Hot Dogs & El Peto hot dog buns.  (with ketchup and mustard, don’t forget mommy)  He only gets it once or twice a month and I try to time it with the Hot Dog Day they have at school every other Thursday.

We used to send Peanut Butter & Jelly, but the “peanut-free school” letter came home last week, so I guess another kid has appeared with a peanut allergy.  It’s too bad for Nathan because that was one of the surefire ways to get protein in him at lunch. 

There are 2 essentials for a lunch box in my opinion.  One is a wide mouthed thermos container. The other is a reusable juice box.  Rubbermaid makes a great one.

We use the thermos to send the previous night’s leftovers or macaroni I’ve made in a panic in the morning.  Simply fill the thermos with hot water, heat the leftovers to “hot hot”, dump out water and fill the thermos.  Lunch will be piping hot.  The reusable juice box gives you an opportunity to send enzymes or other supplements hidden in his juice.  We sneak extra GSE in this way also.  You have to keep it very cold, so I throw in 2-3 ice cubes, then juice, then into the freezer for an hour – about the time we have in the morning.

Here are some great lunch box filer ideas:

Baby carrots & sugar snap peas
Homemade applesauce
Pre-peeled & sectioned oranges
You could also send a dip with these, Nathan doesn’t like them.
For a sweet treat:
Donut muffins

My lunch box formula is: Main course, 1 vegetable, 1 fruit, 1 drink, 1 sweet.  I try to avoid all pre-packaged snacks for school lunch because he always has 1 granola-type bar in his backpack for “extra” in case he is hungry.

Don’t forget the spoon (and whatever vitamins or enzymes you send)!

Celimix Pizza Crust

We finally tried pizza again, after a month long “homemade pizza Fridays” break.  It has been too crazy with harvest, work & school to even bother with our regular meal schedule, so it was kind of neat to get back to that routine.

I’ve had this Celimix Pizza Crust in the cupboard for weeks, waiting eagerly for a day to try it.  Well…I was not impressed with it.

The mix is super easy to use, milk or water, oil and the mix is all you need.  It mixes and handles similarly to wheat flour dough, although is a little more crumbly.  You bake it at 425 until golden, top & broil until the cheese is melted.

It looks amazing coming out of the oven, smells wonderful and tastes like an overly dry biscuit crust.  I ate one piece (no cheese) and one piece with cheese.  My mouth was extremely dry all night (and still feels slightly dry this morning) and I felt very uncomfortable.  That part could have been the cheese, maybe I need to steer clear of dairy from now on. 

Anyway, I would skip this mix.  It was a big hit with the kids, but the adults found is a pale comparison to the pizza we’ve enjoyed for years.  It is convenient but not worth the $4.00 I paid for it.

Boom CHOCO Boom Crispy Rice Bar

First, a confession. I did receive this product in the mail from Enjoy Life without charge, but they didn’t *request* a review either. (I’m going to anyways though)

As a self-diagnosised chocoholic, I have to tell you that my standards for chocolate are about the mid-point. I don’t like el-cheapo chocolate, but am not a “pure, unrefined chocolate” snob either. Pretty average, if it is well made chocolate, chances are I am going to like it.

I had no idea when I opened the package what I was getting. I actually thought it was a granola-type bar. Nope. This is a full sized, high quality chocolate bar. OMG. I thought I was going to die. My co-workers heard me squeal with delight all the way down the hall. Since we’re dairy free, I figured I was going to be SOL for chocolate bars. Sure, Enjoy Life makes nice chocolate chips, but a bar?

The bar is solid & can be sectioned off rather easily, although why you would share is beyond me. This bar has crispy rice in it, so has the chocolate & the crunch – maybe like a CRUNCH bar? (I don’t know, I was a Caramilk addict before gfcf) The chocolate seems similar to the chocolate chips Enjoy Life makes, smooth and semi-sweet.

If you haven’t guessed already, I LOVE LOVE this treat. It is marked “Dairy, Nut & Soy Free” and because it is from Enjoy Life, it is free of: wheat, dairy, peanuts, tree nuts, egg, soy, fish and shellfish and made in a dedicated nut & gluten free facility. This bar is also free of casein, potato, sesame & sulfites.  It is 200 calories, 15 g of fat, so similar to any other chocolate bar

You owe your inner-chocolate craving, PMSing, want to diet but love to eat self to try these.  I don’t know what they cost, but I am buying a case.  (And no, I’m not sharing)