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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A Glutenfree Christmas Wish List for those who waited till the last minute

I should know better.  Christmas season is no surprise….it comes the same date every year.  So, I really should not be getting gifts at the very last minute (and maybe even a few after the fact), but I do.  And I CAN do the budget thing; I’ve tried a few times to do the save a bit every month so you can have a great Christmas.  But in the end, I still end up shuffling things around and stressing on the Dec 15 pay day to try to do Christmas on that pay check and still pay my bills.  This year, I’m particularly bad, but by the looks of the lines in the stores, I’m not the only one.  So, for those of you just like me, who have a gluten-free spouse or friend….here is my *WISH* list and a few other things that I’d recommend to help  inspire you.

My Wish List– feel inspired to run with it and adapt for your friends!

  • waffle iron –  yes, usually these are one of those appliances that get pulled out once a year….Maybe Christmas.  However, I miss grilled cheese.  This wish insipired when I visited a little tiny cafe, called The Mouse Pad in Johnstown, CO last summer.  She made these incredible waffle sandwiches. If you use Pamela’s Waffle and baking mix, plus some fresh herbs, you have the finest Panani bread you can possibly imagine.  You can make any of those delicous sandwiches in the William’s & Sonoma Fall catalog.  Bring back the Ham and Cheese or a grilled cheese.  Make sure to include a big bag of Pamela’s baking mix.  (When it comes to Gluten free- it’s so HELPFUL to get the flour or baking mix, etc.!)
  • griddle and panini press- this would round out the waffle iron gift.  make the waffles, then set them on the griddle and press down the cheese and oooy goodness.  I’m drooling already! Plus, I can make my own corn tortillas since I have a press and love making the tortillas, but have a too small comal.
  • TOP WISH!    Chef’s quality Anti-fatigue Mats- anyone new to glutenfree baking or who bakes a lot would deeply appreciate these.  I’m on my feet so much more since going glutenfree and double that now for dd who is in kindergarten and we are doing so many cupcakes, etc.  My feet hurt.  This would be one of those wonderful gifts and you would bless anyone with these.
  • Harry and David Fruit of the Month club – I don’t know why, but I have always wanted one of  their fruit of the month clubs.  Considering fruit is glutenfree, this would be a treat.  Those pears are incredible and the other fruits sound so divine.
  • Crockpot and Stephanie O-Dea’s Make it Fast, Cook it Slow crock pot cook book.  My crockpot broke this fall….and for people who are super busy and need to learn gluten free, this might be a fantastic gift.
  • Cake Pop and Caramel Apple Kits from Chocoley Chocolate.  You’ve missed the shipping window for those to arrive by christmas, but they’d be a very welcome gift to people if anyone is trying to actually learn how to do cake pops.
  • New Laptop- That would be why you haven’t seen me post much lately.  System issues. However, for friends who blog or are glutenfree (ok, this is probabably a spouse gift!)  a new system that plays nice with the blogging programs (forgive any mis-spellings in this post; the new wordpress isn’t playing nice with my browser!   You could make blogger very happy.
  • 2nd TOP WISH!  Website customization- if your friend or spouse blogs and they are on a wordpress.com account, or blogger, etc….what a neat gift if you help upgrade their blog.  That is sort of my next step, and another reason I haven’t posted as much as I’d like.  I’m trying to figure out how to move mine over to my own domain.  Blogging is one of those things that helps people get through the glutenfree transition.
  • A gift certificate to an e-course called Inside Out– I did a write up of this class for the fall course and it’s something special. Right now they she is offering an amazing 2-fer deal that people might want to take advantage of.
  • Jules Shepard from Jules GlutenFree Flour – Free for ALL Cooking Book  (if you go this route for a friend, be sure to check out her new Daily Deals and grab some gluten-free flour to go with he book).  It’s so much easier to do something glutenfree with the tools, or the special flour!  Jules also has an article on her blog with lots of fantastic ideas from tools to books.  Of course, her blog is a wealth of information. So, make sure to check out her latest review of a few new cookbooks and her picks for Great GlutenFree Gifts for more ideas!  You can also see her list of Recommended Products.
  • A cake decorating class- somewhere that would be willing to work with someone glutenfree.  I want to learn how to decorate the cupcakes for my kids since I will be doing most their cakes and cupcakes for the next 18 years!
  • Non-food related things such as some canvas prints for some photos I took during the Balloon Fiesta this fall.  I actually won 2nd place in their contest and I think I’ve found a new hobby!
  • Mommy What is Celiac Disease– by katie Chalmers
  • Subscriptions to Living Without, Delight GlutenFree, and/or Glutenfree Living
  • Gift Certificate to AfterGlow Cosmetics – I love this company and their makeup!   Other mineral makups make me feel like I want sandpaper for a washcloth.    These are just lovely and luscious.   There are FINALLY some articles coming out about how lipstick and makeup can affect us.  I’ve known it the hard way for over a year, but research always has to catch up with what people figure out.  It’s very expensive to replace ALL your makeup because it’s everything and at once.  So, this could really help someone if they have decided to transition over to glutenfree makeup.  If you buy a gift certificte for someone to help them change out their makeup,  if you can afford it consider also buying some nice brushes for them too.  I’m so thankful my makeup advisor reminded me of that.   They will need to replace ALL their brushes, otherwise, they just contaminate their new glutenfree makeup.

Other things I suggest, but am already blessed with

  • The Almond Flour Cookbook and the Almond Flour Cupcake books by Elana Amsterdam.  Make sure to include a bag of Almond flour for them!   If you have Prime, You can still get both these in time!
  • Heidi Kelly over at Adventures of a Gluten Free Mom posted on Facebook the other day that Santa came early with Adobe Lightroom and a macro lens for her!   That is a FOOD bloggers’ dream…..Lightroom makes things so much easier to work with.  A macro, so much fun.  I’d love to get a 105 Nikon, so that should be up top.  We do already have Lightroom and love it.
  • Pampered Chef tools- some of them are very helpful for glutenfree cooking.  I use the taco meat turner for just about anything else including separating my almond flour if it clumps and it worked really well to break up the cake for my first attempt at cake balls.
  • Asian Cooking sauces that are naturally gluten free- I haven’t written up much on these yet, but check out Meals-in-a-Minute for some amazing sauces to help eat healthy at the beginning of the year!
  • Wow, I can’t believe I almost forgot a Kitchen-Aid Stand mixer.  I didn’t use mine when I first went glutenfree, but as I began to experiment it has become an essential tool.  Love it.

What Glutenfree Goodies am I missing that you want for Christmas or that would be a great gift for someone?

Make sure to check out the Home for the Holidays Blogging Event- these giveaways are inspiring and have great gift ideas!

Thanks for reading and Merry Christmas!   Or Happy Hanakkah and definitely a Happy New Year!

A Glutenfree Christmas Wish List for those who waited till the last minute

I should know better.  Christmas season is no surprise….it comes the same date every year.  So, I really should not be getting gifts at the very last minute (and maybe even a few after the fact), but I do.  And I CAN do the budget thing; I’ve tried a few times to do the save a bit every month so you can have a great Christmas.  But in the end, I still end up shuffling things around and stressing on the Dec 15 pay day to try to do Christmas on that pay check and still pay my bills.  This year, I’m particularly bad, but by the looks of the lines in the stores, I’m not the only one.  So, for those of you just like me, who have a gluten-free spouse or friend….here is my *WISH* list and a few other things that I’d recommend to help  inspire you.

My Wish List– feel inspired to run with it and adapt for your friends!

  • waffle iron –  yes, usually these are one of those appliances that get pulled out once a year….Maybe Christmas.  However, I miss grilled cheese.  This wish inspired when I visited a little tiny cafe, called The Mouse Pad in Johnstown, CO last summer.  She made these incredible waffle sandwiches. If you use Pamela’s Waffle and baking mix, plus some fresh herbs, you have the finest Panini bread you can possibly imagine.  You can make any of those delicious sandwiches in the William’s & Sonoma Fall catalog.  Bring back the Ham and Cheese or a grilled cheese.  Make sure to include a big bag of Pamela’s baking mix.  (When it comes to Gluten free- it’s so HELPFUL to get the flour or baking mix, etc.!)
  • griddle and Panini press- this would round out the waffle iron gift.  make the waffles, then set them on the griddle and press down the cheese and oooy goodness.  I’m drooling already! Plus, I can make my own corn tortillas since I have a press and love making the tortillas, but have a too small comal.
  • TOP WISH!    Chef’s quality Anti-fatigue Mats- anyone new to gluten-free baking or who bakes a lot would deeply appreciate these.  I’m on my feet so much more since going gluten-free and double that now for dd who is in kindergarten and we are doing so many cupcakes, etc.  My feet hurt.  This would be one of those wonderful gifts and you would bless anyone with these.
  • Harry and David Fruit of the Month club – I don’t know why, but I have always wanted one of  their fruit of the month clubs.  Considering fruit is gluten-free, this would be a treat.  Those pears are incredible and the other fruits sound so divine.
  • Crockpot and Stephanie O-Dea’s Make it Fast, Cook it Slow crock pot cook book.  My crockpot broke this fall….and for people who are super busy and need to learn gluten free, this might be a fantastic gift.
  • Cake Pop and Caramel Apple Kits from Chocoley Chocolate.  You’ve missed the shipping window for those to arrive by christmas, but they’d be a very welcome gift to people if anyone is trying to actually learn how to do cake pops.
  • New Laptop- That would be why you haven’t seen me post much lately.  System issues. However, for friends who blog or are gluten-free (ok, this is probably a spouse gift!)  a new system that plays nice with the blogging programs (forgive any mis-spellings in this post; the new WordPress isn’t playing nice with my browser!   You could make blogger very happy.
  • 2nd TOP WISH!  Website customization- if your friend or spouse blogs and they are on a wordpress.com account, or blogger, etc….what a neat gift if you help upgrade their blog.  That is sort of my next step, and another reason I haven’t posted as much as I’d like.  I’m trying to figure out how to move mine over to my own domain.  Blogging is one of those things that helps people get through the gluten-free transition.
  • A gift certificate to an e-course called Inside Out– I did a write up of this class for the fall course and it’s something special. Right now they she is offering an amazing 2-fer deal that people might want to take advantage of.
  • Jules Shepard from Jules GlutenFree Flour – Free for ALL Cooking Book  (if you go this route for a friend, be sure to check out her new Daily Deals and grab some gluten-free flour to go with he book).  It’s so much easier to do something gluten-free with the tools, or the special flour!
  • A cake decorating class- somewhere that would be willing to work with someone gluten-free.  I want to learn how to decorate the cupcakes for my kids since I will be doing most their cakes and cupcakes for the next 18 years!
  • Non-food related things such as some canvas prints for some photos I took during the Balloon Fiesta this fall.  I actually won 2nd place in their contest and I think I’ve found a new hobby!
  • Mommy What is Celiac Disease– by katie Chalmers
  • Subscriptions to Living Without, Delight GlutenFree, and/or Glutenfree Living
  • Gift Certificate to AfterGlow Cosmetics – I love this company and their makeup!   Other mineral makeups make me feel like I want sandpaper for a washcloth.    These are just lovely and luscious.   There are FINALLY some articles coming out about how lipstick and makeup can affect us.  I’ve known it the hard way for over a year, but research always has to catch up with what people figure out.  It’s very expensive to replace ALL your makeup because it’s everything and at once.  So, this could really help someone if they have decided to transition over to gluten-free makeup.  If you buy a gift certificate for someone to help them change out their makeup,  if you can afford it consider also buying some nice brushes for them too.  I’m so thankful my makeup advisor reminded me of that.   They will need to replace ALL their brushes, otherwise, they just contaminate their new gluten-free makeup.

Other things I suggest, but am already blessed with

  • The Almond Flour Cookbook and the Almond Flour Cupcake books by Elana Amsterdam.  Make sure to include a bag of Almond flour for them!   If you have Prime, You can still get both these in time!
  • Heidi Kelly over at Adventures of a Gluten Free Mom posted on Facebook the other day that Santa came early with Adobe Lightroom and a macro lens for her!   That is a FOOD bloggers’ dream…..Lightroom makes things so much easier to work with.  A macro, so much fun.  I’d love to get a 105 Nikon, so that should be up top.  We do already have Lightroom and love it.
  • Pampered Chef tools- some of them are very helpful for gluten-free cooking.  I use the taco meat turner for just about anything else including separating my almond flour if it clumps and it worked really well to break up the cake for my first attempt at cake balls.
  • Asian Cooking sauces that are naturally gluten free- I haven’t written up much on these yet, but check out Meals-in-a-Minute for some amazing sauces to help eat healthy at the beginning of the year!

What gluten-free Goodies am I missing that you want for Christmas or that would be a great gift for someone?

Make sure to check out the Home for the Holidays Blogging Event- these giveaways are inspiring and have great gift ideas!

Thanks for reading and Merry Christmas!   Or Happy Hanukkah and definitely a Happy New Year!

Better Than Mothers’

I think all of us probably have that one or five things that we are saddened we’ll either never have again or never be able to share with our children once we get the mandate to stop eating gluten. For me, it was a silly little cookie, Mother’s Circus Animal Cookies– those little pink and white animal crackers with the sprinkles on them. I always hated animals crackers, but even as an adult I enjoyed those frosted cookies. They are what all the chefs on food network seem to be using lately, “whimsical.”

A few weeks ago, I woke up one morning with these in my mind..and how to make them. I went and bought some Kinnikinnick Animal Crackers, some artificial dye-free confetti type sprinkles from Let’s do Sprinklez and got out my amazing white dipping chocolate from Chocoley. Because I don’t give my children red #40 and I didn’t have any natural chocolate coloring, we only made the white ones, but the joy I got from seeing my kids have fun making this treat and then tasting one of my cherished childhood treats will remain with me for a long time. This is a perfect little project to do during a chilly day, and in between all the holiday stuff. Make sure if you color your chocolate, to get chocolate coloring. Regular food coloring won’t work. It will ruin the chocolate. I think recently Jules at Jules Glutenfree Flour mentioned Wilton’s candy melts might be gluten-free. I prefer the Chocoley because they have better taste. I use their white chocolate in all my baking now.

Without further ado, here is a chance to enjoy a novelty that we never thought we could share with our kids.
Better than Mother’s Frosted Animal Crackers

Box of Kinninnick Animal crackers (I ended up using about 1/2-3/4 box)
16 oz (approx) Chocoley Bada Bing Bada Boom Dipping and Enrobing White Chocolate (or other pre-TEMPERED candy melts)
Package of Let’s Do Sprinklez Confetti Sprinkles

I used a chocolate pot from Wilton. It gets a little hot for the Chocoley chocolate since it is real chocolate, so you have to stir it a lot and then switch to warm as soon as they are melted, but it works well when you want to include your kids. They offer fantastic sales, neat recipes and they have the most amazing “Peppermint Patty Recipe” which was a huge hit last christmas with our friends and family!

In a double boiler or something that melts the chocolate gently (DON”T USE THE MICROWAVE FOR THIS) melt your chocolate. Dip the animal crackers front and back and lay them on parchment, a silpat, or dipping sheets. Sprinkle each cookie with a pinch of sprinklez and wait until hardened. I did find the freezer helpful for getting these to set just right- about 10 minutes. Enjoy and share a childhood favorite with your kids!

Thanks as always for reading. If you want another nostalgic recipe where the gluten-free version is better than the original, check out my “Dirt and Worms recipe.” What is the one thing you wish you could give your kids that hasn’t been transformed into glutenfree yet? Or what do you just MISS?

Recipe: Gluten-Free “Dirt & Worms” – Better than the original!

Welcome back to School and with all the fun school treats! Dirt and Worms was one of my favorite fun, “I can do it myself” almost treats of my school days. Of course, being gluten-free, my children haven’t experienced dirt and worms. The ingredients have been available for a while, but we never seem to have all the ingredients at once. However, this morning my husband and I were doing some photography for upcoming blog posts and reviews when I realized I have all the ingredients for “Dirt and Worms.”

I list this recipe with the brands I used because the brands are Gluten-Free, artificial dye free, and often Casein free, which I know is crucial for many readers. And, I like them…but mentioning anything else would be “Spoilers.”

So, we quickly put it together and here you go: Gluten-Free Dirt & Worms

Ingredients:

Gluten-free Ingredients for childhood treat favorite "Dirt and Worms"

1/2 cup Kozy Shack Chocolate Pudding (or a Dairy Free brand of your choice if you need a CF version)
3 Surf Sweets gummy worms (also a CF candy!)
2 crushed up Kinnikinnick Foods KToos Sandwich cookies (these are Casein free!)
optional a couple of Annie’s Gummy Bunnies and a few Surf Sweets Gummy Swirls to make it look like a little garden.

Directions
Put your worms in the bottom of a cup
Cover with pudding (I used the individual size from Kozy Shack)
Crush your GFCF Ktoos in a Ziploc or plastic bag and cover the pudding with the crushed cookies

Dirt & Worms Step by Step

To finish: Put some Surf Sweets Swirls on top to look like flowers and place some Annie’s Bunnies in if you want to have fun.
Place spoon in confection, get a big scoop, don a Fez, put spoon in mouth, and smile!

Welcome back to the simple, fun things in life! You have yummy treat and you’re now cool!

GlutenFree dirt & worms with best tasting pudding, sandwich cookies, & gummies around!

Thanks as always for reading and stay tuned for product reviews. Several product reviews coming soon!

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.

1in133: Why It’s Such a “Big Deal” to me

The 1in133 team is “knee deep in cake” building the “World’s Largest Cake” for the First Gluten Free Labeling Summit to be held in Washington D.C, tomorrow May 4th, 2011. This is a grass-roots movement of people who care about others. One of the things that I quickly learned about the gluten-free and celiac community is that they take care of their own. The FDA has failed us for years, but people who have something in common have bonded together and created an incredible worldwide community that keeps itself safe.

Websites & bloggers such as Gluten Freeville, Adventures of A Gluten Free Mom, GlutenFree Goddess and Gluten Free Girl and the Chef are just a few people who have immersed themselves into helping others find answers that even doctors have been unable to answer.

However, there is a huge obstacle that stands in many people’s way of getting better improperly labeled food. Stores, companies, etc. mistakenly believe there are “strict standards” for a “Gluten Free label.” There are strict standards if a company is Certified GlutenFree, but not by the FDA. So, what that means to us is that unless we see that little Certified symbol, any other product claiming Gluten Free might not be. Jules Shepard, one of the bakers for this event, blogged in February posted story about Post’s Gluten Free “claim” for Fruity Pebbles. You can see the article here. They claim “certified” gluten-free, but it’s their own inside certification with no written, public standards.

Walmart has started labeling some foods: “A Naturally Gluten Free Food.” Yes, the beans in the can were at some point naturally gluten-free, but what about the modified cornstarch and other things that have been added. Other companies claim “Gluten FREE!~” right on the front of the box, but then you get home, read the fine print as you are taking the item out to cook and find out the product was manufactured on equipment that shares wheat. There is NO guarantee that product is “gluten-free.” One of the biggest “gluten-free” terms lately is “No gluten Ingredients Used.” The companies are trying to get our attention by putting that, but how are we any more sure that product is safe than a product that doesn’t label that, but still doesn’t contain wheat, barley, rye, etc.

Companies are coming up with new ways to try to entice a “gluten-free” buyer. One of my favorites for a body care line (which the FDA rule would sadly not cover), or should I say one of the most insidious I’ve seen is “This original formulation does not contain gluten ingredients.” Okay, so if you read that carefully, the original recipe doesn’t contain gluten, but the end product might. In fact, the end product might even contain gluten sources if they couldn’t source the proper non-gluten ingredient. Hugo Naturals, another body care, is also claiming Gluten Free on hair & body products that contain OAT. While Oat doesn’t contain gluten, it’s guilty by association, and even the certified gluten-free oats can cause severe cross-reactivity in some ultra sensitive people. I have seen “Oat” listed in “GlutenFree” claimed foods as well, and they are not listed as certified Gluten Free oats, nor does the product show a certification.

Although I don’t believe the government solves problems well, and I think they often create more than they solve, I do think it’s time they create a standard. Companies are finding all sorts of ways to claim gluten-free, or have the appearance of GlutenFree, without going to the trouble, cost, or even effort to ensure the product is truly gluten-free. They slap the label on, or use fancy wording to try to convince customers their product is safe. The FDA comes down hard on vitamin and supplement companies who claim any sort of “cure” or “treatment.” Yet, they allow companies to get away with claiming “gluten-free” when a product is not and it hurts and makes people sick.

I hope the 1in133 team is successful for several reasons: companies are beginning to tread the line between a false claim and outright fraud; it needs to be stopped. Consumers need a standard from which to base their decisions on. It’s tiresome to read though all the ingredients to try to also find “modified food starch” or barely, rye, malt, etc. wheat is listed in allergen statements, but I’m tired of the headaches I get from trying to figure out if a food has the other ingredients. Finally, they are fighting for everyone in the celiac and gluten-free community. Most of us tweet, blog, etc to share our experiences with others. We fight for each other, we look out for each other. The other day, I tweeted about a mis-labeling at a store. The product contained wheat; I mentioned the store b/c they follow me and I wanted them to be aware, I took a picture. I tweeted it. Why, because I don’t want anyone else to pick up that package take it home, make it, and feed it to their celiac husband or child.

It’s time the FDA took action because the hidden gluten in food is poison to those with gluten sensitivity and celiac disease. My only hope is the standard will be a true standard. The standard for “trans-fat free” is a joke as the FDA allows a signifcant amount of transfats in a product to still be claimed “trans-fat free.” Furthermore, they allow for any serving size. Some companies claim something like 5 potato chips for a serving size so that they can use that “transfat free” claim. Who eats 5 potato chips? Maybe someone who’s very good at Weight Watchers, but more people eat a lot more. The FDA needs to have a clean, realistc standard for this regulation.

1in133 has set out to bring awareness to the FDA that gluten is poison to at least 1 out of 133 people. Please support them, continue to sign the petition, and make sure to include there shouldn’t be any loopholes allowed as the FDA has allowed for in the past. Keep an eye on 1in133 site tomorrow and follow them on Facebook.They will post pictures of the action! Continue to support the effort as well, and have a fantastic day. Good luck 1in133 at the Summit, and thank you for what you’ve done.

Review: Betty Crocker Glutenfree Devil’s Food Cake Mix

Out of desperation because my original baking plans for my daughter’s Christmas celebrations at her preschool got messed up due to shipping issues, I grabbed one of the new Betty Crocker cake mixes to make a quick batch of cupcakes. 

The mix required 1 c. water  1 stick butter, and three eggs.  That’s it.  I find the water a bit surprising and I’m used to recipes taking oil over butter, but didn’t mind.

The mix itself was a bit stiffer than I’m used to with cake, due to softened butter rather than oil, but it was very quick and simple.  I had cupcakes in the oven within a few minutes.

I do wish they had other ways to tell if they are done besides cake tester.  Sometimes other cues such as bouncing to the touch or pulling away from the sides are a bit more helpful.  although I stayed within the time range, I did end up possibly over-baking them a bit, which may have made them a bit tough a day later.  They did not store well, they were best the first evening and next day.  After that they did get tough and eventually dry. I’m not sure if it’s the nature of the product or over-baking. It’s difficult to tell with devils food if they are done by the look. They are already brown.  I will update when I try them again.

Overall, I’ll use the mix again.  I’m impressed enough to try the other mixes they have, and in a pinch they are great.  The other thing is that Betty Crocker now labels their frosting Gluten-free.  Although I prefer homemade icing, it is fantastic to have an alternative, especially for my 5 year old who has to bring her own cupcakes to school for celebrations.  I think I know what it must’ve felt like for housewives when Betty Crocker cake mixes first came out. We all grew up with cake mixes on the shelves.  However, with the frosting and the mix now both Gluten-free, it’s like discovering all over again.

Nothing beats homemade cake and frosting.  However, sometimes, nothing beats easy and Betty Crocker took the Gluten-free mixes to the next level.  Another plus not having to drive to another city to to the health food stores.  The downside- try $4.79  for the the Gluten-free version versus about $1.79.  Super Target and Walmart carry them for about $3.79.

Scorecard for Betty Crocker Glutenfree Devils Food Cake mix

Taste: 15/15
Texture: 15/15, (Not crumbly and moist, which is a treat. Tastes like cake! No one else knew GF)
Base ingredients: 7/10 (contains soy flour.  Not a soy fan, especially if not marked non-GMO.  Also starch based, which makes for light and fluffy, but high glycemic)  otherwise, ingredients are fairly basic and not too many additives.
Added ingredients: 7/10  (no alternative for the butter if allergic to dairy)
Availability: 10/10  (can get almost anywhere Betty Crocker products are sold!  Nice treat)
Instructions clarity: 4/5 (they are a bit odd.  Easy, but not what I am used to.)
                         Ease: 5/5
Glutenfree Assurance: 10/10 (love it.  Made in dedicated facility, sponsor of Celiac Disease association, Celiac Sprue Association Benefactor, GF label clear.  Not certified GF, but dedicated facility and no questionable ingredients like modified food starch)
Versatility:  6/10 (no alternatives for allergies. Both butter and eggs could make it unusable for some.)
Shelf life of finished product: 7/10 (gets tough and dry quick, like most GF baked goods.  Make it day of or night before for best results.)

Total Score: 86
Overall, it’s an impressive mix, but the soy flour (and not a non-GMO) and lack of alternatives lowered the score from it’s potential.  Soy is also high allergen, so it loses points there. The taste and texture are fantastic. 

Best place to get it is Target or Walmart. Our King Soopers had it for $4.79, which is outrageous, considering they put the regular cake mixes on sale 10/$10 sometimes. I think I ended up paying $3.29 or so at Target.

By the way, I’m trying out my WordPress Droid app for this post, so if looks different, that’s why. I’m not sure what to expect. Happy New year, and thanks for reading!

NOTE on Product Reviews: All reviews so far have been completely at my expense. None of the products have been sent at samples for review and I have not been paid to review a product. I’ve developed a scoring system so that I can provide the most objective and consistant reviews. In the coming year, I am looking for companies who would be interested in me reviewing their products. Please contact me if you have a product you’d like to have reviewed.