Product REVIEW: Red Apple Lipstick and Eyeshadow and FLASH GIVEAWAY!

Gluten in Makeup- it’s a hot topic these days. I’ve seen a few articles in magazines and online. Some people insisting gluten is important to remove, while gastrointerolgoists still state that they haven’t seen enough evidence to recommend that makeup could affect the gluten intolerant and specifically the celiac population. Of course they are basing that statement on the fact that they don’t see more damage in the small intestine. Nonetheless, celiac disease is an AUTOIMMUNE disease that attacks the small intestine…..and as we see that with diseases like Graves, the autoimmune factor can still play a roll even if there is no thyroid to attack, it makes sense that keeping your immune system happy and not exposing it to gluten is crucial, especially since makeup or lotion covers lymph nodes and is near mucus membranes, which are parts of the immune system. (The skin itself is actually part of the immune system as well!) In addition, there has been plenty of anecdotal evidence and enough “common sense” information that women ingest their lipstick (think lip lickers, eating, etc.) that I still believe it’s crucial to have gluten-free makeup and cosmetics. Two year ago, I wrote an article on this blog, Are Your Lipstick, Conditioner, or Lotion making you sick? and I still stand by that.

In fact, just today, Elana Amsterdam posted an article about gluten in lipstick. She mentions a few lines I’ve tried. Mineral Fusion has some lovely, earthy colors, but is drying. Zuzu Luxe has an add on gluten-free sticker for their display in the store, but when you look on their site, they have a gluten-free symbol for all the cosmetics, but seem to only claim the lipstick as “gluten free.” So at this point, I personally don’t trust the purity and I’ve had problems with that line. There are several other lines that claim gluten-free but use ingredients such as Oats. I saw one line try to claim gluten-free with “barley” clearly listed in the ingredients. The bottom line is that the cosmetic industry is even less educated about gluten than the food industry. I picked up a “Cosmetic Dictionary” once only to see it define “gluten: a protein found in wheat flour.” Yikes! So, you (the celiac or gluten intolerant consumer) have to know exactly what you are buying when you buy a Gluten-free claimed cosmetic or body care because cosmetic claims are even more unregulated than food claims. And that’s a challenge because of the chemical names and herbal names (Latin??) That most of us don’t understand. Thus,
Companies that put on their websites and on the product, “TESTED free of Gluten” are by far my first choice.

Another point to realize is that most people are starting to worry about the lipstick because most people lick their lips and ingest the lipstick specifically. However, I’m a firm believer that if your body doesn’t like gluten, you’re not doing your largest organ (your skin) any favor by smothering gluten all over it. Besides, how many times do you run your hands through your hair typing or looking at something only to put your fingers to those lips? How many of us kiss a loved one on the cheek or the tops of our sweet children’s hair? I get sick with gluten in my body care. End of story. My son breaks out in bloody, oozy scales even with a small amount of oat in any body care. I hope the doctors will catch up with their understanding how much the exterior of our bodies matter, but in the meantime, there are some great products paving the way despite the lack of research.

Good gluten-free lipstick is difficult to find, partly because it’s difficult to know which ones to trust. It turns out, one company gets it. Red Apple Lipstick. They not only realize what Gluten is, but they take huge precautions to ensure their cosmetics are gluten-free. Red Apple Lipstick guarantees a 100% gluten-free, paraben free, vegan and a toxin free lip and eyeshadow line. In fact, while some companies “claim” gluten free, Red Apple certifies and lab tests their gluten-free cosmetics. Their FAQ page states: (safe for celiac) 100%. You should never have to worry about any Red Apple cosmetics. They are all lab tested to include spot testing, batch testing and rigorous procedures to keep cross contamination out.”

The product line is also soy free. Apparently they do have some regular lip pencils that contain soy, but the rest of the line is soy free. I’m beginning to look for Soy Free makeup, lotion, and hair care not only because of the GMO usage of soy, but because soy is a phytoestrogen which can disrupt hormone balance. As I said earlier, makeup coats or is near your lymph nodes and mucus membranes, so it makes sense to me to keep toxic ingredients, such as parabens and soy away from these important parts of your immune system. Soy is also one of the big 8 allergens and is in so many products, that I prefer to avoid it as much as possible in order to keep my exposure down.

Back in August, Red Apple debuted eye shadows. I’ve been using loose mineral eye shadows for a few years, that while pretty tend to put dust in my eyes and cause irritation. I actually had to stop wearing contacts if I wanted to wear eyeshadow. So, I was excited to see a pressed eye shadow finally available. I purchased one of the Smokey Magic Foreshadow pallettes, a Ruby Slippers lipstick, Firestorm lipgloss, and the sale included a Ralleybalm and wet-dry eye shadow brush for free.

I had no idea what to expect with this makeup. The colors were some of the prettiest I’ve seen in a gluten-free line. When I opened the Ruby Slippers, I was amazed. This lipstick glides on silky and smells luscious. My lips stay silky for several hours, and keep a lovely color. It’s a beautiful, red-tinged color with a shimmer that brightens up my entire face. When I tried the firestorm lipgloss, I felt sassy. It has a pop that you rarely get in a lipgloss. Left to right- Firestorm lipgloss, Firestorm Lipgloss and Ruby Slippers, Ruby Slippers 2 swipes, Ruby Slippers several swipes. (Please click on the link in the previous paragraph above to see what a beautiful color it is!) It’s a fun color which is more solid than most lipglosses, but has a huge gloss and shimmer factor. It has plenty of color to be worn alone. Here are the colors on my arm so you can see the comparisons. However, the RAL picture on the site provides a much prettier picture.

One of the things I love about the RAL eyeshadows is that they are fantastic quality, seem to be lasting, and when you purchase a foreshadow it comes with application instructions.

I’ve always prefered pressed shadow over loose, so it’s nice to get a mineral pressed shadow. These colors can be as subtle or bright as you want. They mix well with water to create a quick dramatic look, or use without to create a much more subtle look. I’ve found that even if I wish to apply the gray and blue dry, I prefer to use water to apply the buttercream.  I’ve had this Buttercream for ButterCreamalmost 2 months now, and it looks barely touched even though I use it every day. I also think using water allows for a more precise application.

 

 

Here are some swatch samples from the foreshadow- Smokey Magic. The first picture is shadows swiped several times without water.

 

In this second picture, shadows are swiped once or twice with a wet brush. You’ll notice a line of black as well. I took an angled brush and used the black with water to create a quick eyeliner. I love multipurpose makeup!

RAL’s Ralleye Balm is also lovely. I have the tub because that’s what came with my order, but I’ll probably eventually grab a stick for more control. Regardless if you prefer a tub or stick, it’s a great product to have on hand. I’m waiting for the new fall colors to come out to send in my drying lipsticks for RALs LipStick Exchange, but the Ralleye balm actually helped me to use the other products with much more comfort.

One of the things that must be a priority when switching from gluten containing makeup to gluten-free is to change out your brushes….all of them. Unfortunately, that does add up quite a bit. The problem is, you don’t want to contaminate your pure, tested gluten-free makeup with gluten all over again. Ulta has some brushes on sale at the moment if you need to make that leap. I use EcoTools for most of my makeup brushes, which aren’t on sale from what I can tell. I think Walgreens also sells the EcoTools. They are reasonably priced and last well. However, RAL carries a fantastic wet-dry eyeshadow brush. If it doesn’t end up in their sale tomorrow as a free gift, make sure to add one to your basket. It’s multipurpose and allows me to use quite a few techniques with this one brush depending if I add water or not. It’s one of my favorite brushes and I can use it in many ways.

It’s crucial to let go of those favorites and embrace all new, pure, clean product. Don’t mix your old brushes that contain gluten with your lovely new makep. And don’t mix gluten makeup with gluten-free. You contaminate your gluten-free makeup when you use the brush over your face that has the gluten makeup on it. (In other words, new foundation, new blush, new brushes too.)

One more important hint I want include: speaking of contamination, with the wet-dry, I personally do not use tap water. Our water is horrible in my city; I frequently find lots of floaties in my cups as well as mold and white rings in left out glass from watering the plants. I do not want to use regular tap water because I’m concerned my products will become contaminated with ickys and mold from our water. So, to keep my shadows safer, I use a 16 oz bottled water. I keep the water on my counter and then use the cap. It seems to provide the perfect amount of water and you can tap the side. At one point I had tried to use a shot glass with purified water and was losing a lot of eyeshadow. I’ve found I waste less shadow by limiting how wet my brush gets. Keeping a paper towel close by to help wipe off remainder of the shadow and to clean the brush is helpful as well.

Since I follow RAL on Facebook, I know they are releasing some new lipsticks and eye colors for the fall on Friday. I believe they will also be offering some fantastic discounts. I wanted to make sure to get the review of the products up before the sale because I enjoy the products, I believe it’s incredibly important to get gluten out of your body care and cosmetics and I love helping small companies. This was an unsolicited review I personally wanted to time with the sale. The products reviewed are from my personal purchase.

I hope this is a helpful review, especially for anyone who recently went gluten-free. I’m hoping RAL will eventually add blush and foundations. However, if you need something, in order to take your makeup line completely gluten-free, I’d suggest Afterglow Cosmetics or Mineral Fusion for the foundation and blushes. If you need to go inexpensive, you might try the Mineral fusion. They seem to have lovely brushes. Vitamin Cottage, and Sprouts sell them as well as Whole Foods. All three are pretty good about accepting returns if you don’t like them and not badly priced. They are probably most reasonable at Vitamin Cottage/Natural Grocers. Until RAL introduces a complete line, I use Afterglow and it compliments nicely with the RAL eyeshadows and lipsticks. I’ve used the Afterglow eyeshadows and lipsticks. While they are okay, I have decided to make the switch to RAL for my lip and eye needs. The products feel better on my face, RAL has more color in their lipsticks, and I think the quality of those lines are better from RAL. I’m looking forward to see what else they put out.

AND A SURPRISE- I contacted Red Apple Lipstick while I was writing the review to see if they’d be interested in sponsoring a giveaway in time for their sale. That means this giveaway is a flash giveaway so that the winners can get the best bang for their prize. Red Apple is going to give TWO $25 gift certificates to two separate winners- I will pick the winner TOMORROW Friday Evening, Sept 28, 12 about 7pm MST, so the winners have have time to shop and everyone else can still get the best of the sale. That means, I need help getting this giveaway and review posted on facebook and tweeted like wildfire. (To be able to access the sale, you need to join their VIP list which is on their site and they also have it listed how on their page. I joined last month and they are great about not sending you a lot of email. The only email I’ve gotten is info on the VIP sale and a coupon for this month!)
edit: Giveaway is closed. Thanks for entering.
So, to enter-
Required Enter a comment below telling me if you’ve gone gluten-free in your cosmetics and if not, why?
Bonus go to RedApple Lipstick and tell me which colors you’d want to try or which products
bonus Share on facebook, come back and tell me in the comments that you did
bonus Like RAL on Facebook and let me know you did
bonus tweet this giveaway link on twitter, and add @GfAdvocate and @RedAppleLipstic- then add a comment that you did

The rules are simple- You must comment for each entry on this page because I’m picking from this post and the comments only. I’ll use a random generator to pick the winners. Only one household per winner. Gift certificate is subject to RAL’s use and terms for their gift certificates, as well as geographic terms for RAL. I believe they only ship to the U.S. However, if I misunderstood, I will open the contest to wherever they ship.

disclaimer: The products reviewed were purchased at my expense. I’m incredibly impressed with the product and happy to help promote a company that cares about it’s customers and that’s made in the US. I approached RAL to see if they’d be interested in gifting my readers, and they accepted. I created the terms of the giveaway. I hope you’ll enjoy taking a look at their site and their products.
Thanks as always for reading.

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Product Review: LUNA Protein Bar (and GIVEAWAY!)

It’s interesting when you take a sabbatical from anything. For me, this nine-month sabbatical from my blog started with exhaustion and health issues, then went to that Point-Of-View crisis with “what do I REALLY want this blog to be about????!!!!”  Finally, it crossed into realm of not knowing how to start up again. I’ve written a new blog post in my head every day for the last 9 months, but I either wasn’t ready to “tell THAT story,” or was still wrestling with my point of view.

Recently it occurred to me that we’ve entered our fourth year gluten-free and with Celiac Awareness day, I figured now is the perfect time to dive back in. How about a product review on something we buy often and a giveaway!

LUNA bars- I’m a protein bar, meal bar gal. When I was pregnant with my kids, they kept me sane. When we are darting off in the morning, late for school, I love having a bar to grab if my blood sugar is too low. I’m not much of a snacker, but when I am, I tend to go for the sweets, so a sweet tasting protein bar is a win-win for me. I’m eating protein for my body; I’m getting something sweet for that psychological need.

One of my favorite brands before I went gluten-free four-years ago was LUNA. I still remember the taste of their Lemon Zest Bar. Ooooh, that white coating with the lemon zing. Yum! I loved the Smores as well. Of course when King Soopers had the 10 for $10, i grabbed a several boxes of them. LUNA Bars were definitely one of my favorite treats. When I went gluten-free, I was stuck with protein bars that only medical professionals could buy because of the high vitamin content; the only one I could stomach was a chocolate mint.

So, in 2011 when LUNA changed their protein Bars to a gluten-free product, I was ecstatic. Where I live in New Mexico, we are two to three months/years behind the rest of the country. Things come in slow, so I had to wait a few months before I had the chance to try the bars, but as soon as I saw them, I bought one of each flavor. LUNA Protein Bars come in 5 flavors–Chocolate Peanut Butter, Chocolate, Cookie Dough, Chocolate Cherry Almond, Mint Chocolate Chip. YES, I had to do a double check the label on the “cookie dough” flavor, but yes, it’s gluten free!

The Chocolate Peanut butter reminds me of a rich peanut butter fudge enrobed in chocolate. I’d say it’s one of their more rich and indulgent flavors. The Chocolate Bar is chocolate all the way and  definitely will give a chocolate fix in the afternoon. The Cookie Dough is a fun escape from the gluten-free mindset. It’s not wet like cookie dough, (and luckily you don’t have the raw egg issue either), but it’s got that fun cookie dough taste, and a thick chewy texture that is reminiscent of cookie dough. Before I opened the packaging, I pleaded with the bar that it would somehow really taste like cookie dough, and that first bite shocked my taste buds and my brain. “I’m eating cookie dough!”

Chocolate Cherries for a Lucky Gal

I’m a Chocolate Cherry covered kinda gal too. Chocolate and cherries, those will win me over. It’s not quite like chocolate covered cherries, but it’s an indulgent treat with a hint of marzipan flavor (tho less sweet and sticky) with cherries rolled in and coated in chocolate. It’s one of those divine flavor combinations. Unfortunately, this flavor has been very difficult to find in New Mexico. Our stores are only carrying the Mint, the Cookie Dough, and sometimes the Peanut Butter. However, every once in a while, I get to enjoy the Chocolate Cherry Almond. While I’m happy to share any of the other flavors with my family, if I end up with a Chocolate Cherry Almond bar, It’s mine! I hide it. I hoard it. Don’t touch my Chocolate Cherry Almond Protein bar!

And then, you have Mint Chocolate Chip. It might be the closest thing a person eating gluten-free can get to a Girl Scout Mint thin that you can buy, if you aren’t in the mood to bake. And you can get that taste year round! You won’t get the addictive crunch (which is good right, because the crunch is part of the addiction, so it’s a calorie saver), but you get that chocolate-cookie-mint taste that helps your mind escape back to pre-gluten free indulgence of those delightful cookies. I did accidentally squish one once….and it tasted even more like a Thin-Mint. So you could try that if you really want a Thin-Mint fix.

The bars contain whey and soy proteins. They seem to have struck a good balance between the two proteins. I tend to have tummy trouble with too much whey or soy protein. And I’m extremely grateful they use ONLY NON-GMO ingredients. The Parent company is CLIFF, and they were also a favorite of mine before I went gluten-free because they source quality ingredients, and they have fun unique flavors like Carrot Cake for protein bars. My kids love the CLIFF fruit ropes and a few other goodies that are gluten-free. I usually try to steer away from Soy Protein because most soy is GMO, so I’m thrilled that LUNA Protein Bars don’t use GMO soy. LUNA has a great FAQ on their site which explains more about these bars, including allergy info, quality, ingredients, etc.

Beautifully packaged treat from Luna

Last year, I received a surprise package on Sept 13, with three LUNA Protein Bars in it. On the Package, it said, “Happy Celiac Awareness Day!” That was a really fun moment to help pause a crazy day. With all the companies jumping on the “gluten-free trend” without understanding why gluten-free needs to mean gluten-free,  I greatly appreciate that LUNA is stepping to the forefront with Celiac Awareness and promoting a product they have designed that tastes good, has nutritional benefits, and helps spread Celiac Awareness because it can be a very devastating disease when it goes undiagnosed. So, when they sent me the “Happy Celiac Awareness Day” box in August this year, with a note that offered to contact them if we were interested in doing a review or giveaway for September 13, I did. This is a product I buy often, so I was excited to be able to do a review with a giveaway attached.

The bars themselves are fairly small. They are not made to be a meal replacement like other brands are. They are a tad smaller than some of the other protein bars out there. The calories are 170, but the 12 grams of protein are a great way to help have a snack that will sustain you. You don’t want to grab one of these bars when you are starving though. It’s better as a snack before your are starving….once you hit the starving mode, you’ll want two or three. (Yeah, I’ve had two or three). That’s probably fine if you are using it for a meal replacement (just remember these are protein bars -don’t want too much whey- and they also have vitamins as well). However, if you don’t want to have excessive calories, I’d suggest timing your snack before being super hungry.

I’ve seen some stores carry them for $1.19 to $1.69. For the size, I find that upper price frustrating, but that’s not LUNA’s price, it’s the stores. I do my best to grab them on either 10 for $10 sales or at the $1.19 price point. Albertsons’ seems to sell them for around the $1.19. They seem most expensive at Sunflower Market and Target, if I remember. (I don’t shop Whole Foods, so I can’t say what they cost there.) As I said before, I do have a tough time finding all five flavors in New Mexico. However, Amazon carries them for various prices, includes them in the Subscribe and Save. A few of the flavors are actually a little higher price on Amazon than I like to pay, but I can’t find the Chocolate Cherry anywhere, so I consider it an option, especially since I have Prime and don’t pay shipping. While I was looking up a few things about the bars, I also discovered LUNA has an online store as well, so you can purchase directly from their parent company Cliff. They are 14.95, which makes the bars come out to $1.24 before shipping. One of my biggest disappointments is that the stores don’t carry all the flavors. So, I’ll be bugging my stores a bit more for some of the other flavors and keeping an eye out for those 10 for $10 sale, which I think is the best price for their size.

Our family enjoys them a great deal. I do give them to my children, especially my son because it’s difficult to get him to eat and the protein is helpful. LUNA’s official statement is that the bars are more for adults, but both my kids also are deficient in some vitamins, so I’m personally comfortable with the ratios of vitamins, protein and minerals for them. We also don’t have them every day- they are a treat. My children both LOVE the Mint Chocolate Chip and the Cookie Dough.

Here, I took a picture of the Cookie Dough Protein bar. You can see the texture looks like cookie dough a bit. They are small, but tasty. If I could change two things about these bars, I’d make them bigger and have more flavors. I like them that much, I want just one or two more bites in the bar. And Luna has such amazing flavor profiles in their regular bars, I’d love to see them add some of those or expand more amazing combinations into the LUNA Protein Bar line- especially for those of us who are limited in our flavor and company choices.

Cookie Dough LUNA Bar- YUM

I hope that LUNA will consider adding more flavors, especially a Chocolate Coconut- reminiscent of a mounds bar, a Lemon Meringue Pie. and maybe something akin to Snickers Bars too since Snickers adds barley to their caramel. I would definitely enjoy those flavor escapes.

To celebrate Celiac Awareness Day and my return to blogging, Luna is graciously giving away a box of bars to two of my readers. Please read below for details. Since September 13 is Celiac Awareness day, I also thought I’d mention that LUNA is hosting a gluten free webcast with LUNA’s in–house nutritionist Tara DelloIacono Thies, and Delight Gluten Free magazine’s executive editor, Vanessa Maltin Weisbrod on Tuesday, 9/18 at 9:30 am PST – it will be all about living a gluten free lifestyle and nutrition tips. If we are going to inform and educate people about celiac, they will need a starting place if gluten-free becomes their life too! You or your friends you’ve make aware can RSVP to LUNAWebcast@accesspr.com.

Thank you as always for reading. I appreciate you greatly, and thank you to those who have followed my blog and been patient while I’ve been away.

How to enter
LUNA is giving away a full box of bars to two different people.
required entry:: leave a comment below telling me how long you’ve been gluten-free and what LUNA Protein Bar flavor you’d like to try or that’s your favorite.
optional second (appreciated) entry:Tweet this giveaway with my Twitter name @GFAdvocate, then add a comment that you did (comment must be added to qualify the tweet)
Optional third entry: Share the giveaway (marked public) on Facebook, come back and add a comment on this blog that you did to qualify the share.
Bonus entry: Share what you are doing to help spread Celiac Awareness in the comments below. Legitimate links to blog sites welcome. (I’ll figure how to get Comment Luv enabled soon, I hope).

The giveaway will close Sunday Sept 16 at 11:59 MST. I will email and announce the winners on Monday using a randomizer picker. Each winner will be emailed on Monday with a request for their flavor and their shipping information. I will use a random generator to pick the winner. There will be two separate winners. The winner will have until Wed the 19th to send me their information or I will email a new winner on Thursday and the prize for the original winner will be forfeit. Neither I nor LUNA are responsible for issues with shipping.

Disclaimer LUNA did provide me with samples and is sponsoring this giveaway. They also provided me with some photos for the post. However, I purchase LUNA bars often and am honored they invited me host a giveaway for my readers. Thank you for reading, and good luck!

Please do NOT add your email address to the comment. When you fill out the form, you include your email, which I can use to contact you. YOu don’t need to put your email in the comment. YOu can keep that private. 😀 thanks

Inside-Out Class winner, Special Deal, and other Quick News

I apologize that it took a bit longer than I’d expected to get the winner up. I know several of you are really excited about this class. So, without further ado, the winner is……
Whit- who stated” “I would LOVE to with this experience!! It’s GOLDEN!”

This is definitely a golden experience and Shannon has graciously offered a $10 off coupon to other readers who want to enroll. I hope you take advantage of this offer because it’s such a fantastic course. I’m thrilled to be taking it again. So, click here to enroll with the special price. The class starts MONDAY the 12th and this offer ends SEPT 11.

Other news- and lots of it at the moment: Heidi over at Adventures of A GlutenFree Mom has found a dye-free, gluten-free fruit loop type cereal. Whether you want to feed your kids these cereals for breakfast of just make them for a snack, that’s up to you so please don’t leave a comment on sugar cereals because the point is these are very popular for preschool and younger grades for crafts and little necklaces. Heidi is offering a giveaway and has info about this including a wonderful nutritional analysis and reason these are important the “getting to be a normal kid” factor! Heidi has also recently posted about testing for celiac and gluten sensitivity. You can see the array of articles here.

Adventures of a Glutenfree Mom also reposted a very crucial article this morning from GlutenFreeWatch Dog regarding Sami’s Bakery in Tampa, FL. Tricia Thompson, R.D. has founded GlutenFree Watchdog to test labeled gluten-free products. Here is the info from Adventure’s of A glutenfree Mom’s Facebook page: (two posts put together)

Does anyone buy “gluten-free” products from Sami’s Bakery in Tampa, FL? If so, I would recommend that you stop eating it. Tricia Thompson, R.D. has posted the results of recent testing for 3 of these products over at Gluten Free Watch Dog (http://www.glutenfreewatchdog.org/products.php?pid=38). You will need to subscribe in order to read the report, but it’s only $4.99/mo….(in response to a comment on the price) I understand how you feel BUT, testing for gluten is not cheap and Tricia can’t be expected to foot the bill herself. I look at it like this: $4.99/month is a really cheap health insurance rider, especially since there is no formal definition for the term “gluten-free.” If I were to personally test 4 products a month, it would cost me a minimum of $50.00 (so $4.99 doesn’t seem so bad to me). :0)

Finally, I was at my local Costco this morning in Albuquerque, NM and they didn’t have the Rudi’s GlutenFree bread. So, when they asked, “Did you find everything today?” I told them the truth. They looked it up while they finished checking me out and said that it’s on “Pending Delete Status.” Now I’m not sure if that’s company wide, or just the 3 Albuquerque area Costcos, but they told me to email Costco. So, if you’re in the NM area, PLEASE make sure to email. If you aren’t, please consider emailing so they know the demand. They are charging the same price for 2 as our Local Sunflower market does for 1 loaf. Please email them here (I’ve tried to add the link to the contact us form for you; I hope it helps.)

Thanks again for reading, and thank you to so many people for participating in this wonderful giveaway. I hope a few of you will be able to take advantage of the special $10 Shannon has extended to all my readers! (I seem to be having some technical difficulties. This post keeps reverting back to other versions; I’m not sure why, but if something is missing or seems to be missing, like half a sentence, I’m really sorry. I’ve tried to get this thing revised 5 or 6 times and it keeps reverting, but only parts of it. Weird day everywhere it seems!)

SPECIAL GIVEAWAY: a Spot in the Life-Changing E-Course Inside-Out!

Going Gluten-free and transitioning from the feeling “helpless,” “lost,” and even though some of those 7 stages of grieving that are associated with a loss, is hard. Sometimes just the journey from being sick and trying to figure out why is it’s own struggle as we see with so many gluten-free bloggers. Then, even when we find the answer, sometimes we still deny. One of my favorite bloggers, Heidi from Adventures of a GlutenFree Mom describes herself as a “recovering gluten-cheater” and admits she cheated for three years. Other people, like myself, feel so helpless they give up cooking and just don’t what or how to eat. They know it makes them sick, but they feel lost. So, what tools exist for a person life to help them transition from that grieving or survival stage (in anything), to taking control of their lives, accepting their situation and loss, and turning their own life changes into helping others like Elana Amsterdam, going back to what they love to do like Jules Shepard from JulesGlutenFree, finding ways to help others learn to migrate this gluten-free maze like The Celiac Diva or becoming alive like The Gluten-Free Girl and the Chef?

Each blogger has their own story of what helped them (and please visit their sites to learn about them, how they started and went though their journey. They are incredible strong women who have “passed through” to the other side.) What helped me make that transition from survival to becoming more alive and beginning to define my own journey was an e-course I took last summer called Inside Out with by Shannon Kinney-Duh blogger of Free Spirit Knits. I know I’m still small fry in this blogging world, but I’ve started to blog and this class pushed me from saying, “One day” to actually sitting down and writing on some days.

I found out about this class from a blogger and friend Hip Mountain Mama who focuses on wonderful eco-friendly products and ideas. The “Inside Out Course” is a self paced 5 week e-course that helps people become bold explorers of their life – where they remember what’s really important and discover dreams that matter most. InsideOut helps shine a light on those inner dreams and bring them back to the surface so you can live more fully, boldly and freely (all while enriching your creativity…) And the best part is you can do it in the comfort of your own home, on your own schedule and pace while connecting to an amazing community of other life-explorers.

Shannon posts blog and art assignments every day. She helps you ask questions and find things out about yourself that you may have forgotten in the mess and craziness of day-to-day life– especially in the midst of traumas, being so ill you’re happy to make it through another day, life change, having kids, etc. Shannon is a mother herself and talks about finding balance. I’m no artist and struggled with those assignments the most, yet toward the end, I became more comfortable with the projects, and learned a lot about myself. I realized how much fear I truly carry with me, how much perfectionism is in me, etc. Even though this painting is silly, I played for the first time in ages and even discovered that I was stuck in my life – because I was doing the same pattern over and over in my painting.

InsideOut is self-paced and you only share what you want to the with the online community.

Rediscovering the things I found important

The community built over 5 weeks is supportive for those either trying to face the transitions or changes they need to make in their lives, or deal with and get through the transitions are occurring. The different assignments helped me find myself again. After 5 years of being a mom with two intense kids, being ill for years more than 10 years, and learning how to heal from that physically and mentally I needed something help me get myself unstuck from having “conditions” and “diseases” to being me and changing these challenges and struggles. I no longer wanted to let my conditions and circumstances define my existence. In this class, I remembered the things that had been important to me: things that resonated and healed my soul. I rediscovered values that I held dear, but had lost. I learned to stop and enjoy my children more, and I found an outlet for myself in my blog. I also found the courage I needed to deal with things in my life that were in a downward spiral and needed to change for my children and family.

Wow, I do have goals and things I want to do!

InsideOut helped me carve out time for myself, for my own thoughts, and begin to deal with the buried emotions of things I’d been through over the past 5-10 years, but had never dealt with.

When it came around again in the spring, I found myself taking it again, this time enjoying the art assignments I’d resisted in the first session last summer. Even though I only got through about 2 1/2 weeks of the 4 week course because we found out we were moving, it also helped me work though those feelings of grief that come with moving and begin accepting the move would be okay and stepping outside of where we were would be a new adventure.

Shannon is adventurous herself and helps coach the spirit of fear out of people. Between the community that is built in the class (online), Shannon’s journal questions to answer, art to process through and personal coaching if needed, Shannon wants to help people become “bold explorers of their lives.” I had wanted to blog for three years, and I started this blog thanks to the prompting of my class and Shannon. I also started exploring baking and playing with Gluten-free cooking, especially playing with another favorite blogger’s recipes from Elana’s Pantry. Before the class I simply stuck to the same meals and mixes. Once I took the class, I became a more bold explorer of the “gluten-free world.” It was also in this class where I learned how much I want to help people find their way in gluten-free living. I found what was important to me, and where I’d let my values be compromised. I also started to open the doors to what in my life wasn’t working, was making me unhappy, and what I needed to do.

InsideOut is back and bigger than ever. Shannon has added an extra week, (my class was 4) new projects and guided meditations to help us become who we want to be and move through the things in life that get us stuck. She has generously offered a spot to one of my readers for this upcoming class! I’m so excited that I get to give this incredible gift to one of my readers because of how much this class has changed my life. I know I have new readers struggling through these stages of grief in the gluten-free cycle…whether you are in denial and still cheating, angry, or at a “functioning but that’s about it stage.” Some of you have embraced the gluten-free life, but might want to make that next stage in your life whether it’s transition to starting a business, getting your product out there, or needing to make decisions that will be hard but necessary. Some of you have been able to “do the gluten-free thing at home, but have lost intolerant and understanding friends in the process.” This class helped me in my gluten-free journey, but it also helped my family. Even if you’re not gluten-free, but have something you need to help yourself explore and you found out about this class because you saw the giveaway, that’s awesome. Enter the drawing!

This is going to be a quick giveaway because the class starts soon, so please help get the word out for this class with FB, twitter, pingbacks, etc! I’ll be picking the winner sometime after 12 PM Tuesday Sept 6. Entries must be in before 12pm MST!

Information on the class: The Inside Out course starts September 12th and runs for 5 weeks. You can see specific information on this link:FreeSpirit Knits. It runs $99. Please contact Shannon if you have questions.

Giveaway Details
One VERY lucky reader (I’m paying for my spot so VERY lucky reader) will get to take the class at no cost. Here’s how you enter– please read these rules b/c in the last giveaway people retweeted and followed me on twitter, but never put it in the comments. Since I use a random generator and pull a numbered post, without your entry on the comment page, you won’t actually get entered!

MANDATORY:Respond with one thing you hope this class could help you attain in yourself.
Optional but highly recommended each comment gets a separate entry

  • Like my Facebook page (I’ve just created a new page) The GlutenFree Advocate and comment that you did
  • Share this article from my FB page with either your readers if you’re a GlutenFree Blogger or your friends – come back and comment that you did! (Do not try to enter on FB!)
  • Follow me (@GFAdvocate) on Twitter AND tweet the following: “Exciting #giveaway from @GFAdvocate and @FreeSpiritKnits Inside out E-course starts soon http://wp.me/p10fnB-aS!” – comment you did for your entry
  • Follow Shannon @FreeSpiritKnits on twitter (add you comment!!)
  • Mention this article on your blog and create a “pingback” – (add your comment w/ your blog so you can get some love too!)
  • Mention any other articles from my on your blog with the pingback -(and add your comment here that you did) (many seem to be interested right now if Gluten can be in lipstick or body care and why that would affect them, so you might check the article “Are your Lipstick and Conditioner Making you Sick?” out to start!
  • I only have one spot to giveaway, so even if you aren’t the winner, consider taking this class or giving the class to someone you know could use it. It WILL change your life! And it’s a great chance re-gather yourself.

    This is open to ANYONE interested – not just gluten-free friends, and not just the US. Shannon has had participants from 15 countries now, so please, enter and share etc. It’s a great place to be with people who are all working on themselves and trying to become more bold in their lives. I am so thankful and honored that she’s willing to give a spot to one of my readers.

    Thank you for reading and I wish you lots of luck because this is going to be fun! Hopefully I’ll see a few of you in the class!

    Review: Katz Gluten Free and 2 Giveaways!

    Recently, “Katz Gluten Free invited me and to participate in their Summer Blogging Spectacular.” Of course jumped at the chance! Katz GlutenFree invited gluten-free bloggers from around the web to review a few Katz products, including a few new ones, and help participate in a giveaway of their products. I figure we have three wins already– I’m always happy to try Katz products, especially for free, loved that I’d get help give away some Katz to one of my lucky readers, and the Grand Giveaway is pretty fantastic (all 40 of their products)!

    In my sample box, I received their new Gluten-free Apple Pie (which can be found under Cakes on Katz site), their Gluten-free Coffee Bundt Cake, and some Sugared Snack Poppers.

    In the past, I’ve also enjoyed the Katz Gluten Free Sliced Challah Bread and Chocolate Frosted Cupcakes, which I try to keep in the freezer for “emergency” kid events or parties.

    Overall, there are some wonderful things about the Katz company and their gluten-free line. I greatly appreciate that they produce all their products in a “dairy free, nut free, and gluten-free” facility. Although we eat a lot of nuts in our family due to school functions and so many children with nut allergies, I appreciate great nut free products for my kids functions. Katz also takes the extra step to certify the products “Gluten-free” even though they are produced in a dedicated facility. (You never know when your sources ingredients might be contaminated!) One of the initial drawbacks I had with Katz, when I first tried their products was the amount of eggs and soy flours in their products. Although I’m not allergic to egg, it does sometimes upset my stomach. I try to avoid soy flour and products with a lot of added soy because of the amount of GMO soy used because it’s a thyroid inhibitor.

    However, while preparing for this review and giving the website a good tour, I noticed Katz has an Allergy Info link and sorter. If I don’t want a product with soy flour, I simply choose “soy free” and the site sorts which products don’t contain soy. (Unfortunately, one of my favorite products the chocolate cupcakes with sprinkles do get sorted out). I noticed the pie says “dairy free, nut free, soy free” on the label and actually, all three products sent for review are dairy, nut and soy free!

    Another fantastic thing about Katz is their customer service. I had an issue with an order back in May, and when I called with it they were kind, responsive, and immediately rectified it. I don’t even think I had to wait on hold or wade through the IVR systems. Customer service, especially when you are getting something off the web, is crucial. Katz was also extremely helpful when I placed the order to make sure it was shipped quickly because I had a bit of an emergency need for some of the Katz products (a wedding and need of cupcakes for dessert for a little flower girl and ring bearer).

    Enough about Katz, how are the products??? Let’s start with the three I received:

    Apple Pie: I live in New Mexico and I got my package in 100 degree heat. The cool bag and icepack were no match for New Mexico in mid-July. From what I can tell, Katz ships their foods that have been frozen already. My packaged had completely defrosted. My kids saw the pie, and immediately wanted a piece. I was so excited, I decided to try it right after putting away the rest of the foods. The combination of the heat and defrosting made the pie crust less flaky than I expected. However, I haven’t had a pie in three years, so i wasn’t too disappointed. The inside of the apple pie had that sweet, cinnamon spice flavor that is classic about apple pie and was definitely a delightful treat.

    So, why mention the shipping issue? Well, I happened upon solution and figured my readers might want it if they encounter the same issue. So, here is the fantastic thing that happened with the pie: I left in the clamshell on the counter over night, and the next day plopped a piece of the pie in the microwave on the “reheat muffin” setting. (about 9 seconds). Clamshells aren’t great at keeping moisture in, and the combo was just enough to allow the crust to become a bit more dry and FLAKY! In this case, it might be helpful to leave the pie out for a day in the clamshell so you get the classic apple pie taste AND a flaky crust.

    When Katz got word that my box got damaged and some of the taste might not have been compromised with shipping, and they resent part of the package. I received the replacement shipment after writing the main draft of the review. However, it’s worth mentioning that I got a cherry pie in this shipment. This time, no icepack or “keep cool bag,” which meant that the products hopefully didn’t sweat as much. I defrosted the cherry pie overnight and had some this afternoon. Again, the crust wasn’t flaky, but my husband describes it as “light and airy.” He also said it’s a fantastic pie, and would never have known it was gluten-free. He’s the gluten eater in the house when he can, so I make him try all my review stuff to see if it will hold up to a gluten palate. It did, he enjoyed it! Next time, I will remove the shrink-wrap from the pie before defrosting. Again, the pie was more flaky after it was left out for a bit. The conclusion for me is let the pie air out a bit before serving and you’ll get a bit more flaky crust.

    It’s also worth mentioning that I love cherry pie. It’s been one of my favorite pies my entire life, and I’ve never been partial to apple. There are some that are okay, but I’ll take cherry any time over apple. So, it came as a shock as I ate my cherry pie, which is an amazing pie, that I realized if I only one I could order one, that I’d probably order the apple pie if I wanted a very special taste. Now, of course I’d want them both because I still love cherry pie, but if I could only order one for a crazy reason, it just might be the apple.

    Value: The pie is small about 4 servings and is between $7.49 and $7.99 for the pie. At quick glance, this seems high because it’s a small pie, not normal size we were used to before going gluten-free, however, it ends up about $2 a slice. When I got it, I tried to cut it into tiny slices. Finally,I looked at the serving size and saw you have 4. So, 4 decent slices of a GLUTEN FREE pie- that’s actually a fantastic value! I just bought a piece of cheesecake to try which cost $4.99 for one smaller slice. I say the pie is a great deal. At the moment, Katz is offering an incredible coupon on their pies: “SummerPie1” will give you $4 off the apple; “SummerPie2” will give you $4 off the cherry and “SummerPie3” will give you $4 off the blueberry. That makes it $3.49 for a pie!

    Sugared Snack Poppers

    Sugared Snack Poppers: The taste of these came as a surprise to me. initially, I expected a sweet cookie. They are airy, crunchy, a dry cookie, and not extremely sweet. The sugared snack poppers have just a touch of sugar and I can tell it’s just a touch. I’m not familiar with Egg Kichel and didn’t know these are Egg Kichel until trying to figure out what they were for the review. They weren’t our favorite thing, however, upon a second or third try, I’m finding myself wanting more. When I asked my husband to taste it, he said it sort of tastes like a cookie and he’d like a cup of coffee to go with a few. The closest thing they remind him of is biscotti. Actually, they are dry and airy like biscotti, without the teeth breaking hardness that is often part of biscotti. I think by the time we finish off the package, they might become one of those addictive, good to keep around for a snack, type items. And I’ll probably be thankful you keep them in the freezer too.
    Value: $4.99 for a full clamshell. Great value.

    Katz GlutenFree Coffee Cake with Coffee Glaze Drizzle

    Coffee Cake: this was by far my kids and my favorite treat. When Katz says Coffee Cake, they mean a coffee-flavored bundt cake, not just a special cake to go with coffee. Nonetheless, is a very special cake. First, Katz does a great job with packaging. Like many of their products, including the cupcakes and other sweets, they actually shrink-wrap the clamshell.

    Snack Poppers in clamshell; Bundt Cake in clamshell and shrink wrap protection

    I believe this helps with moisture retention (crucial in gluten-free cake!), shipping issues (the snack poppers were not shrink wrapped and burst open) as well as helping a bit more with freezer burn and freshness. The cake is a moist dense chocolate-coffee bundt cake and in the middle is a delicious coffee glaze. Furthermore, the cake held up the best for shipping as well as storage.

    Because everything had defrosted, I didn’t want to freeze the products like the box instructs. I was concerned it would cause them to dry out. However, because I was enjoying that apple pie, I didn’t try the cake for an extra two days and once I opened it, it was perfectly moist, soft etc. I also was able to keep in and enjoy it in my fridge for almost a week! For me, I cut a piece of cake, put a good spoonful of glaze on and used my magic “reheat muffin” setting in my microwave. It was just enough to make the glaze run down the cake and soften it that last day or two. For a gluten-free item to last more than two or three days is fantastic, some might say miraculous.

    Value: The first time I saw the coffee bundt cake on the website, I thought, $10, hmm, maybe not. Honestly, though I’m not sure why I thought that because $10 for a gluten-free cake already prepared is a fantastic price. Besides, I’m happy to pay $5.49 for 4 cupcakes. The $5.49 still ends up a great deal because I recently went to a cupcake boutique in town and her gluten-free cupcakes are $3.49 a cupcake which ended up close to $15 for four of us for one serving. I think I got about 8-10 slices of the coffee cake for $10. If you do a per-serving-analysis, you end up with an awesome deal for a very special cake that will impress anyone.

    Bottomline: I think Katz makes fantastic products and am thrilled to see them expanding their line. They have some unique products as well as some wonderful quality products and dedication to keep the product gluten-free. I would love to see them either use dry-ice for shipping the products or NOT freeze them prior to shipping. I think the freezing and shipping causes problems with some of the products, especially in warm areas or months.

    Another fantastic thing about Katz is that they offer FREE SHIPPING with orders over $30. A lot of places require a much higher minimum and shipping is often the determining factor between my being able to buy something and not. It’s pretty easy to hit the $30 mark with Katz, especially if you add a Coffee Cake to your order.
    Now the really fun part! Katz is offering a giveaway of their products. Actually, they are offering 2 giveaways! First, Katz is giving away a five-product pack to each blogger’s readers. When you like Katz on Facebook for an entry in my giveaway, you’ll see some other fantastic blogs to read and enter for giveaways. Next, Katz is giving away a huge GRAND GIVEAWAY – a box filled with all 40 Katz products!

    So, to enter the give away on my site for 5 products of your choice please do the one or all of the following: Make sure to leave a SEPARATE comment for each entry
    1) **MANDATORY*** enter a comment telling which products you want to try or your favorite Katz products
    2) follow me @GlutenFreeFinds on Twitter (leave a comment that you did)
    3) follow @katzglutenfree on twitter (then leave a comment that you did, or do)
    4) like KatzGlutenfree Bakery on Facebook (leave a comment that you did or do and remember you’ll have access to other blogs that are participating!)
    5) enter the Katz Grand Give Away (and leave a comment on my site that you did)
    6) Tweet the following: #Win 5 products of your choice from @KatzGlutenFree Via @GlutenFreeFinds http://wp.me/p10fnB-6C #Giveaway Ends 8/15

    I will use a random generator to choose a winner.
    RULES: Giveaway is open to US Residents only. Giveaway ends Wednesday August 17, 2011 11:59 PM EST. Winner will be chosen via Random.org. Must have valid email in blog profile or leave email in comments otherwise you will be disqualified. Winner will have 48 hrs. to confirm by email, If no confirmation in that time frame a new winner will be chosen. Please note, there might be a delay in coordinating between the winner, myself and Katz to receive the product.

    I discovered Katz last fall through a similar giveaway. It’s a lot of fun and it’s always great to support a GlutenFree company, especially one that seems to care about their customers and ensure we are truly getting a gluten-free product. I think my 5 products I’d choose would be: Cherry Pie, Chocolate Cupcakes, the Apricot or Raspberry Hamantaschen, the Coffee Cake, and perhaps the Pizza Crust.

    Now, I need to go enter that Grand Give away myself! Thanks, as always, for reading!

    Disclaimer Katz GlutenFree provided the samples for me to review and will provide the giveaway for the 5 products of choice to one of my readers.