Thursday, December 26, 2013

old spaghetti factory

Hello, gluten-free friendees!

A few months ago, Scott surprised me with carry-out from Old Spaghetti Factory in Forest Park.  It was delicious!

They have a defined gluten-free menu available.  There's a 75-cent upcharge for gluten-free pasta.  In our world, that's not too bad.  I'm generally pleasantly caught off guard when the mark-up is under $2.

I had the baked chicken and a side salad.  The presence of croutons on the salad made me hesitant, but Scott had gone over & over my allergies with the pasta folks.  Fortunately, it was safe & yummy. 
Baked chicken may sound unremarkable, but no...  The chicken is marinated in lemon juice & garlic, seasoned with oregano, baked, and served with Mizithra Cheese & browned butter and marinara sauce over pasta.  Read: amazingness.
Not familiar with Mizithra cheese?  I wasn't either.  It's a Greek cheese that pairs incredibly well with my beloved browned butter.  It gets kind of melty in the dish, sprinkled on top.  I'm salivating just thinking of that combo.  Who needs the marinara, anyway?

Give it a try and let me know what you think!

Happy eating :)

Monday, December 16, 2013

2013 ccsg cookie exchange details!

It's time for the Cincinnati Celiac Support Group Annual Holiday Cookie Exchange!

Saturday December 21st 11 AM - 12:30 PM
Lane Library
1485 Corydale Drive
Fairfield Ohio 45014

Bring your GF cookies to share and also a container to take all types home to enjoy for the holidays!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

mediterranean snacks

Hello, friends!

I don't know what it is about that late fall/early winter weather -- whether it's watching big games on TV or snacking around a bonfire -- but it makes me want dips.  Hummus, ranch, queso, black bean (simply delicious recipe coming soon), guacamole...the more, the merrier!  As much as I loooove plain old tortilla chips, they don't always hit the spot.

Mediterranean Snacks has some yummy new HummuZ Crackers.  They're all natural and gluten free.  Their crunch is lighter than a cracker but more substantial than your typical chip.  They come in three flavors:
Photo via Mediterranean Snacks website
Photo via Mediterranean Snacks website
Photo via Mediterranean Snacks website

The folks over at Mediterranean Snacks were at the 2012 Celiac Awareness Tour at Xavier University in Cincinnati and graciously sent me one bag of each flavor to sample.  Unfortunately I took one of the bags (roasted red pepper) to a get-together, and the whole bag was tossed into a bowl with unfriendly, gluten-filled crackers.  I didn't get to try a single one, but  I didn't want to write my review until I had.  I didn't know it would take quite so long to locate them, but I finally have!!

They're all tasty and light, but the olive tapenade flavor is my tastebuds' favorite.

A bonus: they have since come out with Tapaz 2 Go, a portable mini-meal of hummus and sea salt lentil crackers.  The packaging is really cool & simple: the box flips over & turns into the perfect plate for the hummus!

These also come in three flavors:
So who is Mediterranean Snacks?  They've been around since 2005, and their philosophy is based around Living Snactive -- combining a healthy attitude with an active lifestyle and nutritious snacks.  Many of their products are legume-based and have been certified gluten-free by the Gluten-Free Certification Organization (GFCO).  If you have other dietary restrictions, there are more details here, and many of the products are GMO-free.

Check them out and find a new cracker/chip choice for yourself!  Another bonus: visit their website for a link to a $1 off coupon!!  (You need to have Java enabled.)

Happy eating :)

Full disclosure:
The HummuZ Crackers were sent to me free-of-charge (longer ago than I'd like to admit) from Mediterranean Snacks in exchange for an honest review.  At the time, they were called HummuZ Crispz.  Beyond those samples, I was in no way compensated.  The opinions expressed above are mine & mine alone.

Monday, October 21, 2013

mama mimi's, mmm...

Hello, gluten free world!

There's a new pizza place in town, and it is totally worth tracking down!  Mama Mimi's -- a pizza chain that started in Columbus in 2000 -- has moved into Cincinnati.  The Anderson location is now open, and locations in Kenwood & Oakley are opening soon.
I met with Brett, who gave me a brief history and answered lots of questions for me.  Their gluten-free crust is made in a dedicated gluten-free facility, while their white and honey wheat crusts are made in-house.  The gluten-free comes prepackaged, is a medium 12" crust, and has a $4 upcharge.
So, what makes them different?  This pizza is take-and-bake, and the toppings are fresh & high quality.  There are no tables for dining, but there are benches, a variety of wine & beer, and a fun photo display.
Just what is take-and-bake?  It's growing in popularity, because it allows families and groups of friends to bake the pizza on their own, which imparts a special texture & flavor that aren't as apparent in a pizza delivered to your door.  You will have to pop it into a preheated oven, but it cooks to perfection in about 8 minutes.

The menu is pretty big, but the pink GF symbol makes the gluten-free options really easy to read.
And Brett clarified: this symbol indicates which are gluten-free with no modifications, beyond the crust.  Many other items are easily made gluten-free with simple adjustments, like leaving Gorgonzola off the award-winning Mama's Marmelletta Amore pizza.  They really take great care to avoid cross-contamination with gluten. And since the pizzas aren't cooked on-site, there aren't cutting & serving tools to worry about getting glutened.

I asked the staff for suggestions and tried a half-and-half pizza:
  • Parma Pesto Chicken - pesto, mozzarella, chicken, black olive, tomato, artichoke heart, & Parmesan (hold the onion for me)
  • Primo Vegetarian - red sauce, mozzarella, spinach, tomato, broccoli, artichoke heart, Parmesan, & roasted garlic (hold the mushroom & onion for me)
It was delicious.  From my boyfriend's mom, who isn't gluten intolerant and knows how much I love a good pizza: "Seriously, the best GF pizza I have tasted!"  The taste, texture, & variety of toppings make up for that $4 charge.  It's the tastiest gluten-free crust I've had.  Drool-worthy.

It's quickly made to order and shrink-wrapped right in front of you.  Then a sticker with simple to follow instructions is slapped on, and you're ready to go.  And they have online ordering, so you don't even have to wait!
Bonus: they have a loyalty club called Mama's Family that you can join in-store or at their website.  After the purchase of 10 pizzas, the 11th is free!  
Let Mama Mimi's bring your family and friends back to the table sometime soon, and let me know what you think!  

Full disclosure:
Views and opinions expressed above are mine & mine alone.  Beyond receiving a pizza to sample, I was in no way compensated for this review.

Monday, September 23, 2013

a little detour

Hi, all!

We finally have a winner for the LUNA Protein giveaway: Distracted Debra.  Woohoo!

I tend to not post that much about my personal life, and I'd much rather be writing about food, but Mom was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia on Thursday.  It was a surprise to all of us.  Please keep her in your thoughts & prayers.  On the bright side, I'll have more food in the Columbus area for the next 4-6 weeks.  And the hospital staff is wonderful with Mom's gluten free diet.

Thank you, and happy eating :)

Sunday, September 15, 2013

eli's bbq

Hello, gluten-free friendees!

A couple weeks ago, Scott & I tried Eli's BBQ on Eastern Avenue for the first time.  It's a pinkish, unassuming building with a couple white tents off to the left.  The first time you see the tents, at first glance, it almost looks like a family reunion is going on.  It's just so cozy.

You might not know Eli's by name, but if you're in the Cincinnati area, you've probably seen their pig sign.

Inside is a funky, eclectic mix: a record player, alphabetized records, and currently a display of artwork of historical figures that has a very Western feel.
They get out into the city a LOT.  Here's their weekly schedule of appearances:
The menu is written on the wall, and the place is cash or checks only (or Reds tickets) -- no cards!!  Here are close-ups of their menu items, for your viewing pleasure.  
So, if you're gluten free, what can you have?
  • They call the hickory-smoked pulled pork without a bun "pork-with-a-fork".  Cole slaw comes on it free of charge, if you'd like.  
  • The cole slaw, jalapeno cheddar cheese grits, and mashed potatoes -- which are mashed then fried on the grill* -- are the safe side items.  
  • $5 buys a sandwich, $8 buys a sandwich & 2 sides.  
*Nothing gluten-containing is cooked on that grill.  

The BBQ sauce and baked beans are not gluten-free at this time; both have some soy sauce.  A manager informed us that they are working on changing to a wheat-free soy sauce.  (I'll update when I know this has been implemented.)

The drinks available are Mexican Coke (with real sugar), Orange Crush (with real sugar), and Ale 8 One, all in 16-ounce glass bottles.  Diet Coke is in cans.

They're very easy going.  We were told there are customers who bring in drinks, vegetarian pizzas, salads, their own barbecue sauce -- the list goes on!  

When you order, you can choose to sit inside or out.  If you eat in, you're handed a little pig sign stuck inside a glass Coke bottle.
The food was awesome.  Here's my meal: pork-with-a-fork topped with yummy (onion-free) cole slaw, mashed potatoes, cheddar cheese grits, and a Mexican Coke.  Hiding behind my paper is Scott's sandwich-topping cole slaw that he requested on the side.
They're all about eating local.  The restaurant got its start at Findlay Market about 10 years ago.  Now it's really "where the music, the FOOD, and the people simmer together and create a great atmosphere."  In June of this year, Eli's was named to Travel & Leisure's "America's Best New BBQ".

Basically it's our new favorite barbecue joint.  That's saying a lot.  As in, when we have a big catered event, they'll be at the very top of our list.  That yummy.  And I'm hoping that writing this post means we'll go again this week!

Happy eating :)

Saturday, September 14, 2013

original gino's pizza in toledo

My boyfriend is in a National Guard unit based in Perrysburg, Ohio, located just outside Toledo. Earlier this year for his unit's Viale Memorial Ball, I joined him for his drill weekend and found a yummy treat: Original Gino's Pizza. I tried delivery as I prepped for the ball.

It was so tasty, I picked up another from the North Dixie Highway location the next day for the drive back to Cincinnati.

I originally found Gino's via Urbanspoon's handy Gluten-Free Friendly list.  The restaurant has multiple locations in the Toledo area, online ordering, and a smartphone app.  The website doesn't actually make mention of the gluten-free option, but it's there in the Crusts section when you visit the store-specific online menu.  Like many pizza places, the gluten-free crust is only available in one size, large.

The website doesn't actually make mention of the gluten-free option, but it's there in the Crusts section when you visit the store-specific online menu.  A little button pops up asking, "Xtra?" to access additional options: light, extra, xxtra, or side. There is a $2 upcharge for the gluten-free crust.

They also have a handy order tracker so you get a better idea of when to expect it to be delivered: 

After we returned home, I contacted the company to learn more about their dough, their process, & other gluten-free offerings:

Thanks for your email. We have been offering gluten free crusts for years now. We are constantly testing to try to improve the taste, quality and overall presentation of the crust. The crust is a gluten free crust that comes with its own pan. The training of staff on this process is detailed to prevent cross contamination. We use separate utensils when preparing and cutting the pizza. We have different gluten free items at different times. Currently we do have a gluten free cookie that we will be offering. These items do go fast. We expect to have more gluten free products very soon.

This is my first weekend back in the area since the ball, and I'm looking forward to grabbing another :) 

For tipping purposes, you may want to note that $1 of the $3 delivery charge goes to the driver.  

Happy eating! 

Friday, September 13, 2013

celiac awareness day & a luna protein bar giveaway

Happy Celiac Awareness Day!!

Yesterday I received an adorable package of LUNA Protein Bars.

Haven't heard of LUNA Protein? Here is an overview: 
  • A whole nutrition bar for women
  • Less than 200 calories
  • 12 grams of protein and 3 grams of fiber
  • Core 4 nutrients: calcium, iron, vitamin D and folic acid
  • Available in five gluten-free flavors: Mint Chocolate Chip, Chocolate, Chocolate Cherry Almond, Chocolate Peanut Butter, & Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough
(Photo courtesy of LUNA)

I tried 3: Mint Chocolate Chip, Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough, & Chocolate Peanut Butter. They're all cloaked in chocolate like a candy bar. 

Before I'd even finished the Mint Chocolate Chip, I texted my recently-diagnosed gluten-free mom to give her a heads up that she'll want to try these. The flavor is similar to my very favorite Girl Scout cookie. There are teeny chocolate chips in a chocolatey nougat with a hint of peppermint. It's it a little crunch that is satisfying. And it's not grainy!! 

The Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough is very tasty too. I don't know how they make a gluten-free cookie dough that yummy, but I'm sold. It's not very often we get to have cookie dough flavored anything, let alone something that also has good nutritional value. 

I was going to save the Peanut Butter for later but gave in & ate it on a road trip to Toledo. Oops. It's drier than the other two - of course, it's peanut butter - but there is a hint of vanilla & almond that makes it more interesting to my tastebuds than a peanut butter cup. It's a good balance...but my favorite is the mint chocolate, hands-down. 

LUNA was the brainchild of the founders of Clif Bar and Company with a mission focused on "a dedication to quality, community, sustainability and a balanced work place".  

In my pre-gluten-free days, I really liked the convenience and nutrition of a Clif Bar. Since my diagnosis, I've been pretty skeptical of gluten-free protein bars; so often they're grainy and tasteless, and the tasty ones seem to only be available on specialty shops at a premium price. I'm a nursing student on the go. If I had time to track them down, I wouldn't have as much need for them, you know? Fortunately LUNA Protein Bars are available at a number of retailers: Kroger, Target, Walmart, etc. Check out their handy store locator here

So here's the really exiting part: 
LUNA has offered me the chance to run a giveaway!!   

I've chosen to do so using Rafflecopter so it's fair for everyone. What's the prize? A box of LUNA Protein bars in a flavor of your choice!

How to enter:

  1. Click this link to access the widget or scroll down a teeny bit.
  2. Log in with Facebook or your email address. (The winner's info - and only theirs - will be shared with LUNA for shipping purposes.)
  3. Complete the steps of your choice to earn entries!
  4. A winner will be randomly selected at the end of next week & notified via email!
 Good luck, and happy eating!!

Full disclosure: 
The goodies were sent to me free of charge in exchange for an honest review to help celebrate Celiac Awareness Day. Beyond the samples shown above, I received no compensation of any sort.  The opinions expressed in this post are mine & mine alone. 

Thursday, September 12, 2013

celiac awareness day is coming!

Hello, friends!

It's been months.....  I got into nursing school, and summer courses started immediately.  Between classes & working (too much!), I've been running in circles chasing my tail!

But tomorrow (9/13) is Celiac Awareness Day, and exciting things are coming :)

In the meantime, here are some items from the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness:
  • They're hosting a webinar on September 18 to discuss the new FDA's gluten-free labeling rule.  I held off making a post on this fantastic news to make sure I knew what it entails.  The NFCA is a great resource for information on the rule.
  • If you Pinterest, there is helpful back to school board here.
Happy eating!!  

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

celiac awareness month 2013

Happy Celiac Awareness Month!  

From the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness comes this personal story of Celiac awareness and encouraging family members to get tested.

NFCA also has a special website specifically for this special month - - and a handy 9-page toolkit that lists upcoming Twitter chats, a webinar on gluten-free menu planning without breaking the bank, an online silent auction with Miss New Jersey (who's raising funds for NFCA), a GF product of the day, and a giveaway from EatSmart Naturals.

What are you doing to celebrate and increase awareness?  To start, I'm grabbing a snack with my mom at Bella Luna tonight.  (Review to come!  I like to try a restaurant twice before I review, if possible, and this is my second time there.)  I also recently told my manager about it, and she ordered in some Good Greens bars that our store is going to start carrying.

In other news, I got accepted into the accelerated BSN/MSN program at UC  =)  Wooooohooooooo!!

Happy eating!

Monday, April 8, 2013

my personal favorite gf brands

Let's face it, gluten-free foods are pricey, and you don't always get what you pay for.

What are the brands you recommend to friends and family who find themselves needing to go on the diet for the first time?

Inspired by a friend, here are mine in no particular order.  I also feel compelled to mention that I am not being compensated to endorse any of these, and you should always double-check labels, as ingredients do change.

Where to Shop
More and more places are becoming aware of the needs of the gluten-free community.  Here are a few recommendations that regularly carry a variety:
Reliable Brands
Enjoy Life - Free of the 8 most common allergens
Sonny Marie's - This is a Cincinnati-area bakery, and I just love their cinnamon donuts.
Kraft - They're very good about listing out all of their ingredients, such as the source of their maltodextrin.  They give a terrific overview of reading labels.
Pamela's - I don't purchase these products very often, but they're reliably good, particularly the cookies.
Kinnikinnick - This is another brand that has been around a while, and they recently revamped a few items.  I'll post reviews once I try them.

Udi's - Available at Kroger, Jungle Jim's, Meijer, et al.  It has big holes and a texture much like English toasting bread. As long as I pretend it's GF English toasting bread, my tastebuds are content.  The company says it's shelf-stable, but most folks prefer to freeze it since GF bread is pricey.  What I freeze, I generally grind up into breadcrumbs.
Goodbye Gluten - Difficult to find, but it's my hands-down favorite.  See my original post on it here.  I'll let you know when I find it again!  The company told me that it's available in Toledo at Giant Eagle stores, but I've been to several to no avail.
GFS buns at Red Robin - These are only available through Red Robin due to a contract they have with GFS, but mmmmm.  They're that yummy.
Rudi's - This is a nice multigrain bread if you enjoy bread with a little crunch. In a pinch, I tried to make French toast with it once.  I don't recommend that.
Ancient Harvest Quinoa Pasta - My go-to pasta, available at Kroger, Jungle Jim's, and Meijer.  It does turn the water yellow, so don't be alarmed.
Tinkyada - I've only tried the Brown Rice Pasta Lasagne, but it was really good.  It's available at Kroger, Jungle Jim's, & Meijer.

Annie's Homegrown - I liked the pasta in the Gluten Free Deluxe Rice Pasta and Cheddar (but not the cheese sauce).
Annie Chun's Maifun Brown Rice Noodles - These are simple, tasty, and great in stir fry.

Old Wisconsin Beef Snack Sticks - These are the most similar to a Slim Jim that I've been able to find, and they're tasty.  You can also find bite-size Snack Bites and summer sausage.
Health is Wealth Mozzarella Sticks - These cheesesticks are pretty awesome.  They're good enough that Jungle Jim's - which is the only place I can find them - is often sold out.  They're the ooey, gooey deliciousness you want them to be.  Be careful not to overcook them, though - the cheese will ooze out!
Dutch Country Soft Pretzels - These are tasty and handmade in the heart of Amish country.  See my original post on them here.
Snyder's of Hanover Gluten Free Pretzel Sticks and Mini Pretzels - These are the pretzels I generally carry around in my purse.  They're available at Kroger, Jungle Jim's, and (I think) Meijer.
Glutino Pretzel Sticks and Twists - These are my second-choice pretzels.  They have a nice crunch, but my tastebuds still know that they're not quite like gluten-filled pretzels.  However, my uncle prefers these over the Snyder's.  To each his own!
Ener-G - Another gluten-free pretzel, but it's not quite my cup of tea.  It's crispier and thinner.
Blue Diamond Nut-Thins Crackers - Blue Diamond makes a variety of gluten-free crackers.  They're thin and have a nice crunch.  My mom (who isn't GF) prefers to use them in her farm market for taste-testing. Made with almonds, they're high in nutrients.
Crunchmaster Multi-Grain Crackers - These have a nice crunch (obviously) and are widely available.  Being multigrain and GMO-free, they're a healthy option, and they are in many GoPicnic meals.
Glutino Original and Table Crackers - These are my go-to cracker.  They're almost like a cross between a saltine (less salty) and a Ritz (much less buttery).  I feel like anything Glutino makes is worth trying.  I think the company may be changing the packaging, but here's my current package:
Laura's Lean Beef - It's pricey, but this is the only ground beef provider that guarantees their product is GF.
GoPicnic Meals - I'm guilty of snacking when I should eat, so I really love these.  It's a nutritionally balanced meal on the go in an easy-to-carry box.  See my reviews here, here, and here.  GoPicnic is becoming available at more & more stores -- Walgreens, Target, Kroger, Jungle Jim's, and others.  Today I tried the Black Bean Dip & Plantain Chips for the first time, and I'll be getting it again.  The dip was a little garlicky, but I thought the plantain chips - which I dipped in the black beans - balanced it nicely.
Saffron Road Chicken Tenders & Chicken Nuggets - The tenders are so good, my boyfriend (who only eats the really tasty GF stuff) snags them off my plate.  I've gotten the tenders at Jungle Jim's and the nuggets at Kroger.
Starfish Gluten Free Cod - I purchased this at Whole Foods and am not sure if it's available at Kroger or Jungle Jim's.  It almost tastes like a beer batter, and I (accidentally) ate the whole box in one sitting.
Dr. Praeger's Potato Crusted Fish Fillets - These are tasty and simple, and the company refers to it as "healthy frozen food".  
Hormel Refrigerated Entree Beef Roast Au Jus - See my review here.  I usually pick it up at Kroger in the meat section.  Hormel has several gluten free products.
Gluten Free Cafe Pasta Primavera - This pasta is flavorful, quick, and ready to heat in the microwave.  See my original post here.
Dinty Moore Big Bowls Beef Stew - When I'm chilly, this is a quick & easy way to warm up.  I keep it on hand in the pantry.  Being a Hormel brand, they also have a few other varieties.  Here's the company's list.
Glutino Chocolate Vanilla Creme Dream Cookies - These are close enough to gluten-free Oreos that my boyfriend (who doesn't have to eat GF) will buy them for himself.  The company is changing the packaging, so I don't want to cause confusion by posting a pic of the one I have.  They also make a vanilla version, but I haven't tried it.
Udi's Chocolate Chip Cookies - The cookies are a little soft in the middle and just yummy.
MI-DEL Arrowroot Cookies - These are a little grainy, but I really like this version of an animal cracker.  (Walgreens briefly had another, but I believe it's no longer being carried.  I learned about it once it was already on the clearance shelf.)
Pamela's Cookies
The Cookie Fairy - Available at Jungle Jim's
Baking Mixes and Flours
I constantly seem to switch between Betty Crocker Gluten Free, King Arthur, Bob's Red Mill, Gluten Free Pantry (made by Glutino), and Gluten Free Bisquick.  When my mom recently made a birthday cake for my dad using the Gluten Free Devil's Food Cake from Betty Crocker, it was so tasty and smooth, I had trouble believing it was gluten free.

I haven't used 1-2-3 Gluten Free, but it's always highly recommended by members of the Cincinnati Celiac Support Group.

For all-purpose flour, I generally use King Arthur.  I haven't yet found a bread mix that yields results I enjoy.

What are YOUR favorites?  What would you recommend folks avoid?

Happy eating!

Friday, April 5, 2013

conscious box giveaway winner

Hello, all!  Thanks SO much to everyone who entered the Conscious Box giveaway!  It ended at midnight, and I'm proud to announce that Brenda S. was selected (using Rafflecopter and as the winner.  I've connected her with the friendly folks at Conscious Box.

Didn't win?  You can still use the 25% code LOVELIFE.  Subscribe before this Sunday, and you'll still be able to get the April box!

Thanks again!!  :)

Monday, April 1, 2013

ccsg luncheon at sinfully gluten free

On Saturday, April 6 at 12:30, the Cincinnati Celiac Support Group will hold a luncheon at Sinfully Gluten-Free in Centerville, a suburb of Dayton. If you'd like to join, please contact CCSG President Barb Rothwell.

(Unfortunately I can't make it; we have tickets for the 1:10 Reds game.)

Happy eating!

Thursday, March 28, 2013

eco-friendly conscious box giveaway

I have very exciting news!!

Yesterday I learned about a home delivery service from Conscious Box, a monthly subscription service with natural, sustainable products.

Photo via Conscious Box

Each box comes packed with samples of natural products ranging from organic food to vegan beauty products to home products meant to lighten your footprint - something for just about every facet of your life.  Conscious Box is a supporter of jobs in the US, hiring American workers and paying a fair wage.  They also include ideas on how to reuse the box, use inks made from veggies, wind power, and BPA-free labels.  Each month, the package has a theme -- for example, "This Year Belongs to You" in January, "All You Need Is Love" in February -- and April's will be Earth Day.

They work with 1% for the Planet to make sure every purchase goes to a cause and also support businesses that care about the planet.  You can check out some of those brands here.  If you find an item you just adore, you can buy a full-size version through their shop.  They also have a neat point system in the works that will allow you to buy items at a discount.

Conscious Box has three package options: Classic, Certified Vegan, and Gluten-Free --- a new addition!  The founder has Celiac, so they know what they're doing :)

From there, you can choose from a variety of subscriptions: 1 month, 3, 6, or 12 (a baker's dozen because a 13th month is free).

So here's the best part: Conscious Box is offering one of my lucky readers a free three-month Conscious Box subscription!  It's a $59 value, so enter now!  (Due to shipping, the winner must be in the United States.)  The giveaway entry period will run from 12:00 am 3/29/13 to 12:00 am 4/5/13.

Also, they're giving each of you a 25% off discount code that's good on any Conscious Box subscription.  Use code: LOVELIFE

At only $19.95 -- basically $12 for the box, $7.95 USPS Priority shipping -- it seems like a great deal to at least try!  I'll be sure to follow-up with a review when I receive my first package.

Interested in further information before you jump in?  Here are several reviews from others: November 2011, October 2012 (here and here), December 2012, January 2013 (here & here), and February 2013.

Happy eating, and GOOD LUCK!!


  • Log in with Facebook or your email address (so I can contact you if you win)
  • Enter up to 15 times with super-easy tasks (Ex: "like" Conscious Box and/or this blog on Facebook)
  • Someone will be randomly selected by Rafflecopter next Friday to win!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

easter candy and chocolates list

The National Foundation for Celiac Awareness (NFCA) and have released the 2013 gluten free Easter candy and chocolates list!!

As always, be sure to double-check the packaging, as ingredients can change. has a 10-page print out of candies & chocolates and a 4-page list of jellybeans specifically for the US.

If you only use one list as a reference, use the one linked here. also has one, but it is riddled with inaccuracies!

Happy eating -- and Happy Easter!

(And, without embarrassing him too much, happy birthday to my daddy!) 

Monday, March 25, 2013

march to fitness muscle up mondays: protein shakes

My two favorite gluten-free protein shakes are Pro7ein Synthesis and Tera'sWhey.

Pro7ein (or Pro-Seven) has 34 grams of protein per serving and is free of gluten & sugar.  It has a nice flavor - I go for the chocolate - without feeling too heavy.  It was recommend by a friend at Nutrishop.  His wife is gluten intolerant, so he really understands.

I tried Tera'sWhey at the Arnold Classic earlier this month and really enjoyed it.  It's smoother than most proteins, less chalky.  It's USDA Organic with 20 grams of protein per serving.  The flavor I tried (and have since purchased) is Fair Trade Organic Dark Chocolate.  Yep, the chocolate is Fair Trade Certified.  The whey protein is certified hormone free.  The products are made in a green plant in Wisconsin with whey from local artisan cheese makers and family farms.  The products are available in Organic Whey, Goat Whey, and rBGH Free Whey.  They're also on Facebook.

Forza Pro is one that my boyfriend really enjoys.  It's gluten free.  He sticks to the Chocolate flavor.  The Mint Chocolate was tasty, but it was overly sweet for me.

I have not personally tried these yet, but here are others:

Core Power - This is ready-to-drink (RTD), gluten free, and available in five flavors made from real milk and honey.  Fair Oaks Farms Brands hold themselves to a Code of Responsibility that includes Sustainability, Traceability, Transparency, and Animal Care & Comfort.

Hemp Protein Powder - This is available from Navitas Naturals.  It's certified organic, kosher, gluten-free, raw, and vegan.  The source is grown on small family farms in Canada.

Life's Basics Plant Protein - This powder is gluten free and suitable for vegetarians.  The site didn't mention whether it's appropriate for vegans.  The product is primarily made from peas, rice, hemp, and chia.

Muscle Milk - This RTD product from CytoSport is gluten and lactose free.  It's available in five flavors.

Nectar - Made by Syntrax (and I'm not a big fan of the site), this powder has no carbs or fat.  It's also gluten and lactose free.  The 9 flavors are like fruit juice cocktails -- with names like Caribbean Cooler, Twisted Cherry, and Fuzzy Navel.

Rice Protein - This product from NutriBiotic claims to be the #1 vegan protein for those with allergies to whey and soy.  They have a variety of flavors made from whole grain brown rice.

Protein Energizer - From Rainbow Light Nutritional Systems, it's 100% natural and gluten-free.  It contains ginger, so I can't try it.

True Athlete - Made by The Vitamin Shoppe and is free of gluten, artificial colors, flavors, or sweeteners

I'm sure there are more out there, but I didn't find others that identified themselves as gluten free protein shakes/mixes.  If you'd like additional ideas, be sure to visit a nutrition shop in your area.

Happy eating!!

Sunday, March 24, 2013

untreated gluten sensitivity

April over at Gluten Is My Bitch wrote a succinct, heartfelt post about the very real, outright terrifying effects of untreated gluten sensitivity -- brain damage, vision problems, dementia.

If you are gluten intolerant or have Celiac disease, PLEASE encourage your relatives to be tested themselves. Gluten ataxia is not something to take lightly.

Thank you, and happy eating!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

march to fitness muscle up mondays: protein bars

I'm proud to announce that there are several protein shakes and bars that are gluten-free.  Due to the sheer number of items, I'm only covering protein bars in this post, and they're listed in alphabetical order.  Most of these photos were taken at the Arnold Classic with my iPhone.


Good Greens

I met a few representatives from Good Greens at the Arnold Classic.  I tried a couple samples and really enjoyed them.  Yesterday at Jungle Jim's Eastgate, I picked up a chocolate raspberry bar.  It's chocolate covered and tasty...but grainy.  This particular bar has Omega 3's, 10 grams of protein, 3 probiotics (think the happy bacteria in yogurt), 40 antioxidants, and 100% of your daily fruits and vegetables.

From their site, "Good Greens is a delicious, raw, vegan, and gluten-free protein bar that promotes a healthy, socially conscious lifestyle."
Unfortunately I didn't realize that the final ingredient under the Nutrition Facts where the Good Greens Z52 Superfood Powder list is has ginger root - one of my allergens - so I'm popping a couple Benadryls as I draft this....

I've been familiar with Larabar for quite a while and am a pretty big fan.  I like that there is variety in taste and texture but with simplicity.  Larabar's self-description sums it up: "Produces healthy energy bars made from minimal, pure ingredients."  They're one of my go-to snacks to pack in my purse and available at a number of stores.

I've had the Larabar (with no more than 9 ingredients), Uber, and Jocalat (with Fair Trade Certified chocolate).  ALT is the company's new alternative protein bar, which I learned about while researching for this post.  Those are vegan, gluten-free, and non-GMO.

Bonus: they'll recycle & upcycle your old Larabar wrappers.

If you're gluten-free, you're probably familiar with Elizabeth Hasselbeck's gluten-free line NoGii and her books.  This was actually the first time I tried it.  I grabbed the Peanut Butter & Chocolate High Protein Bar at Walgreens.  It kind of looks like a peanut butter Rice Krispie treat drizzled with a little chocolate and atop a thin layer of chocolate.  It has a nice crunch.  It has 20 grams of protein and 10% each of calcium & iron.

NuGo Dark is the only company to make real dark chocolate-coated protein bars.  These are non-dairy and vegan.  I tried the Mint Chocolate Chip -- think Girl Scout cookie! -- and Chocolate Pretzel with Sea Salt -- it's a gluten-free pretzel!! -- at the Arnold Classic and absolutely had to take some home with me.  They're at some Kroger locations (check the candy aisle), Whole Foods, and Jungle Jim's.  Mmm.
Of note, the company has started an online petition at asking the FDA to set a standard for dark chocolate, since standards exist for both milk and white chocolates.

NuGo Slim is another gluten-free line available from the company.  These have low-sugar, high protein, and high fiber.  At Jungle Jim's, I picked up the Raspberry Truffle, which is dipped in dark chocolate.  There is no maltitol and no artificial sweeteners.  The texture is harder, but the flavor of the freeze-dried raspberries inside make up for it.  I also tried the Brownie Crunch flavor at the Classic.
Most but not all NuGo bars are gluten-free.  If you're looking at the NuGo Dark, FREE, Slim, 10 bars, or Crispy Cat Candy Bars, you should be in GF territory.  You can also get one of their seven reasonably-priced sample packs on the NuGo site!

I remember the first time I had a PowerBar; I was rappelling in the Hocking Hills.  When I was diagnosed with this gluten intolerance, I thought my time as a PowerBar consumer was over.  However, these new PowerBar Performance Energy Blends caught my eye tonight at Kroger in the Natural Food section.  They're a "fruit-based energy food" and GF.  I picked up the Apple Mango Strawberry flavor.  Surprisingly, the in-store signage mentioned the gluten-free status, and it's on the packaging, but it isn't mentioned on their website.

Premier Protein Crisp
I tried these at the Arnold Classic.  Premier Protein also makes another line that is not gluten-free; be sure to get the Crisp!  I tried the Honey Caramel and Chocolate Mint.  Although I wouldn't have thought to combine honey and caramel, yummy!!  The Chocolate Mint was good too.  (But if you're wanting something like a Thin Mint, I'd stick with NuGo.)

I picked a Pure Organic Banana Coconut bar up at GNC.  It's Non-GMO Project Verified, USDA Organic, gluten-free, and vegan.  It has a nice flavor but is very dry.  The chunks of walnuts - rich in antioxidants - are about the size of my fingernail.  I'd really like to try the Cherry Cashew flavor.

Bonus: the company supports The Lunchbox Fund's efforts to feed impoverished children.

I grabbed a PureFit Berry Almond Crunch bar at Jungle Jim's yesterday.  It's gluten-free, vegan, dairy-free, Kosher-certified, high in protein (18 grams), no hydrogenated oils or artificial sweeteners, and won't melt.  It's like dry, thick peanut butter with a nice hint of berry.  The packaging indicates that it is award-winning, and I was able to find on the website that they were named by BIKE Magazine as Nutrition Bar of the Year.

Bonus: the company encourage pet adoption.

This is another company that was represented at the Arnold Classic.  The website sounds like all of the Quest Nutrition Protein Bars are gluten-free.   They have two lines: 99.95% Natural and 100% Natural.

I have QuestBar Protein Bars in Apple Pie and Mixed Berry Bliss (99.95% natural) as well as a QuestBar Natural Protein Bar in Cinnamon Roll (100% natural).  The carbs in the bars are from nuts rather than from sugar.

The first two 99.95% natural bars I tried were dry, thick nut butter-like bars.  The Cinnamon Roll bar, however, totally tasted and smelled like a cinnamon roll.  (The texture is still like thick nut butter.)  They also have a high-protein peanut butter cup.

Others not reviewed here but available and gluten free:

I sincerely hope my taste-testing helps!  Happy eating! :)

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

march to fitness muscle up mondays: pre-workout supplements

Many -- but not all! -- pre-workout supplements are gluten-free.  Here are some products I have found.  My personal favorites are C4, Platinum Pre-, and FitMiss.  (If it weren't for the time change, this would have been posted on Monday ;) )

Keep in mind that these products are dietary supplements and not subject to evaluation by the Food and Drug Administration.  These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.  

Cellucor C4 Extreme
Gluten-free status: According to a forum response from Cellucor, C4 and all current Cellucor products are gluten-free.
Available flavors:

  • Fruit Punch
  • Green Apple
  • Icy Blue Razz
  • Orange
  • Pineapple
  • Pink Lemonade
  • Strawberry Margarita
  • Watermelon

I tried: Fruit Punch and Icy Blue Razz (Scott's favorite)

Serving Size   1 scoop
Servings Per Container  60
Amount Per Serving% DV
Calories   5.00   
Calcium   1.00 mg  0% 
Total Carbohydrates   1.00 g  0% 
Sugars   1.00 g   
Vitamin C   250.00 mg  417% 
Folate   250.00 mcg  63% 
Vitamin B12   34.00 mcg  567% 
Beta Alanine   1500.00 mg  ** 
Creatine Nitrate   1000.00 mg  ** 
Arginine AKG   1000.00 mg  ** 
Explosive Energy Blend   594.00 mg  ** 
 ** Daily Value (DV) not established

Silicon dioxide, natural and artificial flavors, citric acid, artificial color (contains FD&C yellow #6), malic acid, sucralose, acesulfame potassium (Ace-K)

Gluten-free status: Packaging states that it is gluten-free.
Available flavors:

  • Blue Razz
  • Orange
  • Pink Lemonade
  • Watermelon

I tried: None.  I came across it while writing this post.  However, the reviews I found at were very positive.

Optimum Nutrition Platinum Pre-
Gluten-free status: Packaging does not state, but I was informed by ON staffers at the Arnold Classic that this is a gluten-free product.
Available flavors:
  • Fruit Punch
  • Raspberry Lemonade
  • SuperFruit
I tried: Fruit Punch and Raspberry Lemonade.  Delish!
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size: 1 Scoop
Servings Per Container: 30
1 SCOOP (8g)Amount
Per Serving
% Daily
Total Calories
Sodium (as sodium chloride)60 mg3%   
Potassium (as potassium chloride)70 mg2%   
Total Carbohydratesg<1%   
Protein<1 g1%   
Vitamin C (as ascorbic acid, acerola extract)100 mg167%   
L-Citrulline (1 Scoop) (as micronized l-citrulline, PepForm® citrulline peptides [l-citrulline, hydrolyzed whey isolate])g
L-Citrulline (2 Scoops) (as micronized l-citrulline, PepForm® citrulline peptides [l-citrulline, hydrolyzed whey isolate])g
CarnoSyn® Beta-Alanine (1 Scoop)1.6 g
CarnoSyn® Beta-Alanine (2 Scoops)3.2 g
DMAE Bitartrate (1 Scoop)250 mg
DMAE Bitartrate (2 Scoops)500 mg
Phyto Blend (1 Scoop) (beet juice powder, grape seed extract [vitis vinifera] [seeds], MegaNatural® red wine grape extract [vitis vinifera] [seeds], citrus bioflavonoids)250 mg
Phyto Blend (2 Scoops) (beet juice powder, grape seed extract [vitis vinifera] [seeds], MegaNatural® red wine grape extract [vitis vinifera] [seeds], citrus bioflavonoids)500 mg
Caffeine (1 Scoop)200 mg
Caffeine (2 Scoops)400 mg
Capsimax® Capsicum Extract (1 Scoop) ([capsicum annuum] [fruit] [standardized for capsaicinoids])125 mcg
Capsimax® Capsicum Extract (2 Scoops) ([capsicum annuum] [fruit] [standardized for capsaicinoids])250 mg
*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet.
Contains 200mg of caffeine per scoop. This product contains 100mg, 167% of the recommended daily intake of vitamin C.
Other Ingredients: citric acid, natural and artificial flavors, malic acid, tartaric acid, silicon dioxide, calcium silicate, lecithin, sucralose, acesulfame potassium.
Recommended Use: Mix each scoop with 6-10 oz of cold water (to desired sweetness) and consume immediately. Start with 1 scoop or less to assess your tolerance. Do not exceed more than 2 servings per day.
Warning: KEEP OUT OF REACH OF CHILDREN. ALLERGEN INFORMATION:Contains milk and soy (lecithin) ingredients. Not for use with pre-existing medical conditions or those taking any medications, those under the age of 18 or over 50, women that are pregnant, contemplating pregnancy or nursing, or those that are caffeine or beta-alanine sensitive. Do not consume caffeine/stimulants from other sources or within 4 hours of bedtime.
Before beginning any program of weight loss, consult your health care practitioner. These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.


MusclePharm FitMiss Ignite
Gluten-free status: The allergen warning does not mention possible contamination with wheat, but I also cannot find any statement online or on the packaging that indicates either way.  However, I tried it and had no reaction.  Use your best judgment.
Available flavors:
FitMiss Ignite™: Nutritional Information

I tried: Grape - it smells and tastes like Grape Kool Aid!

MusclePharm Assault
Gluten-free status: According to a Facebook response from MusclePharm, Assault is gluten-free.
Available flavors:
  • Blue arctic raspberry
  • Fruit punch
  • Green apple
  • Orange mango
  • Raspberry lemonade
  • Watermelon
I tried: None...yet.   

Gluten-free status: The allergen warning does mention possible contamination with wheat.  Use your best judgment!
Available flavors:
  • Pink Lemonade
  • Tropical Orange
I tried: None.  I haven't, but Scott looooves the pink lemonade.  It smells yummy!

Not happy with the choices? lists 16 additional gluten-free pre-workout options that I have not seen in my area nutrition shops or at the Arnold Classic.  

Happy eating!