Category: Product Reviews

Game Changer- Amazing New Vegan Cheeses on Market

CHsses 2

Over the last 7 1/2 years that we have been practicing an allergy safe diet, our family has literally tried every vegan and nut-free cheese on the market.  And I mean EVERY cheese!  Some cheeses are too sticky, many do not melt well, several taste like rubber, others taste like chemicals, some are artificial tasting, even oily, and a few are gritty.  Gross!

I was at our local Spartan-Brand Grocery Store, D & W Fresh Market, a few days ago and they have completely redesigned the entire store creating a large allergy-friendly/gluten-free area that includes several smaller aisles with a large refrigerator cooler and frozen food section.  I was jumping for joy!  In the refrigerator, I noticed several Follow Your Heart cheeses with “new” written on the packaging.  Since these have not been available to us in the past, I purchased a few different options to take home to my boys and husband and conduct a family a taste test.

CHeese 1

I purchased these cheeses that we then sampled at home on Wheat Thin crackers: Provolone 1 oz packages, Mozzarella slices, American slices, Cheddar slices, and American 1 oz. packages.  The overall consensus between my two boys, husband, and myself was that all 3 cheese flavors, not only had the texture of real cow’s milk cheese, but ALSO THE TASTE CLOSELY RESEMBLED REAL CHEESE!  I was shocked!  I grew up eating dairy until my children were diagnosed with food allergies over seven years ago and decided to give up all dairy in order to support them, live a healthier lifestyle and maintain the safety in our home.

The Follow Your Heart Provolone is a mild semi-hard cheese that has a subtle sweetness.  It can easily be paired with sliced apples, pairs, grapes, etc.  We loved it!  The Follow Your Heart American Cheese holds its own!  I’m actually convinced that many of my “dairy-eating” extended family members would not be able to tell that it is vegan- it’s that good!  The texture was medium and the taste was creamy and melted in our mouths!

Finally, the Follow Your Heart Cheddar Cheese was medium flavored, not too sharp and everything you would expect from a cheddar cheese!  It’s smooth and firm texture was absolutely perfect!  A real winner!

My children were so excited after the tasting that I went back to the grocery store the next day and loaded up on more of these amazing cheeses.  I now feel like I could even entertain non-vegan guests with these cheeses and they would simply enjoy them without the standard questioning, “Is this dairy-free? Is this vegan?”

Kudos to Follow Your Heart for developing such amazing new products that have become Game Changers for my family!  Follow Your Heart is a company that has been in the vegan business for a long time since 1970 and they know how to create yummy foods that we all love! I have to admit, I cannot stop snacking on these cheeses!  They are delicious with everything!

Now, I just need to figure out if I can order this cheeses by the case at D & W Fresh Market or our local organic co-op, The Grain Train, where I’m a member/owner.

These cheeses are Life-Changing for our family!

Enjoy and Happy Cheese Eating!

#Cheese#DairyFree#Vegan#Allergy#NutFree#PeanutFree#AllergyFree#Anaphylaxs#Cheddar#Provolone#AmericanCheese

~Erika

Game Changer- Amazing New Vegan Cheeses on Market

CHsses 2

Over the last 7 1/2 years that we have been practicing an allergy safe diet, our family has literally tried every vegan and nut-free cheese on the market.  And I mean EVERY cheese!  Some cheeses are too sticky, many do not melt well, several taste like rubber, others taste like chemicals, some are artificial tasting, even oily, and a few are gritty.  Gross!

I was at our local Spartan-Brand Grocery Store, D & W Fresh Market, a few days ago and they have completely redesigned the entire store creating a large allergy-friendly/gluten-free area that includes several smaller aisles with a large refrigerator cooler and frozen food section.  I was jumping for joy!  In the refrigerator, I noticed several Follow Your Heart cheeses with “new” written on the packaging.  Since these have not been available to us in the past, I purchased a few different options to take home to my boys and husband and conduct a family a taste test.

CHeese 1

I purchased these cheeses that we then sampled at home on Wheat Thin crackers: Provolone 1 oz packages, Mozzarella slices, American slices, Cheddar slices, and American 1 oz. packages.  The overall consensus between my two boys, husband, and myself was that all 3 cheese flavors, not only had the texture of real cow’s milk cheese, but ALSO THE TASTE CLOSELY RESEMBLED REAL CHEESE!  I was shocked!  I grew up eating dairy until my children were diagnosed with food allergies over seven years ago and decided to give up all dairy in order to support them, live a healthier lifestyle and maintain the safety in our home.

The Follow Your Heart Provolone is a mild semi-hard cheese that has a subtle sweetness.  It can easily be paired with sliced apples, pairs, grapes, etc.  We loved it!  The Follow Your Heart American Cheese holds its own!  I’m actually convinced that many of my “dairy-eating” extended family members would not be able to tell that it is vegan- it’s that good!  The texture was medium and the taste was creamy and melted in our mouths!

Finally, the Follow Your Heart Cheddar Cheese was medium flavored, not too sharp and everything you would expect from a cheddar cheese!  It’s smooth and firm texture was absolutely perfect!  A real winner!

My children were so excited after the tasting that I went back to the grocery store the next day and loaded up on more of these amazing cheeses.  I now feel like I could even entertain non-vegan guests with these cheeses and they would simply enjoy them without the standard questioning, “Is this dairy-free? Is this vegan?”

Kudos to Follow Your Heart for developing such amazing new products that have become Game Changers for my family!  Follow Your Heart is a company that has been in the vegan business for a long time since 1970 and they know how to create yummy foods that we all love! I have to admit, I cannot stop snacking on these cheeses!  They are delicious with everything!

Now, I just need to figure out if I can order this cheeses by the case at D & W Fresh Market or our local organic co-op, The Grain Train, where I’m a member/owner.

These cheeses are Life-Changing for our family!

Enjoy and Happy Cheese Eating!

#Cheese#DairyFree#Vegan#Allergy#NutFree#PeanutFree#AllergyFree#Anaphylaxs#Cheddar#Provolone#AmericanCheese

~Erika

Earth Balance Buttery Spread Vs. Smart Balance Light

butter

I have been a big fan of Earth Balance Buttery Spread for the last several years since it’s dairy, nut, and egg free.  Plus, it’s low in cholesterol and actually taste delicious and has a nice flavor in baked goods.  However, I have NOT been a fan of the price.  I get it– manufacturers price gauge those with food allergies or special food sensitivities because they know that we HAVE TO purchase their products and have limited alternatives.

I spent about 20 minutes at our local grocery chain Meijer last week reading ingredient labels for different types of margarine.  Come to find out, Smart Balance Light w/Flaxseed Oil is actually distrbuted by the same company (Boulder Brands, USA, INC) that distributes Earth Balance Buttery Spread and it’s only $2.99 for a 15oz container compared to $3.99 for a 15oz container.  This may not seem like a big deal to most, but for our family it is a nice savings.  Especially during the holiday season when my homemade baking increases by about 70% and I use vegan butter like it’s going out of style!  Additionally, the container states on the bottom it is, Non-Dairy, Vegan, Lactose-Free, Gluten-Free, Gelatin-Free, Expeller-Pressed Oils, Non-GMO and has 0g Tans Fat.  WE HAVE A NEW WINNER!

I try to find little savings everywhere because, as you most likely know, grocery shopping with multiple-food allergies on a budget is very challenging.  I posted a great article last year that was based on a survey done by Northwestern University on families with food allergies.  The conclusion was that $25 billion dollars is spent each year on food allergies and thus roughly $4200 on each person with food allergies.  I’m sure this number has since grown and is probably closer to $10,000 for our family of 2 boys, each with multiple food allergies! This is a good reminder that families with food allergies are paying much more than the average consumer.  If we can find little savings here and there it is definitely worth it in my book!

http://www.peanutallergy.com/news/food-allergy-news/childrens-food-allergies-cost-25b-per-year-4200-per-affected-family

Delicious Vegan & Nut Free Protein Powder

Protein Powder 3

I have been meaning to post this product review for awhile now and after an exhausting weekend with my family filled with lots of fun outdoor activities what better way to start off a Monday than with a delicious smoothie made with —  Orgain Organic Protein Plant Based Powder in Vanilla Bean.  My husband, boys and I were on a mission last winter to find the most delicious “non-chalky” tasting vegan/nut-free protein powder.  Thankfully, our local organic co-operative grocery store the Grain Train, carries several 1-serving sample packages of protein powder.  I think they were about $3.00-$4.00 per sample package.  A bit pricey, but definitely worth it and a good way to narrow down your choices.

After we tried roughly 6 different brands and flavors by mixing the protein powders with frozen fruit and blending them into a smoothie, this product we determined was definitely the WINNER, hands down!  It is smooth tasting, delicious, non-chalky and does not have a gritty taste that many of the other brands we sampled had.  Each serving size, which is 2 Rounded Soups of the powder, includes 21 grams of Organic Protein derived from Organic Brown Rice Protein, Organic Chia Seed, Organic Hemp Protein and Organic Pea Protein!  I said 21g of protein, can you believe it?  Additionally, each serving of protein powder has only 3g net carbs, 5g organic fiber and NO ADDED SUGAR – music to my ears!!!  It packs quite a punch and I will typically make a delicious smoothie for my boys at least 4 mornings a week to give them the protein they need in the morning to energize them for an entire day of school!

Here is the recipe I usually use for my children’s Protein Smoothie Shakes:

  • 2 Rounded Scoops of Orgain Organic Protein Plant Based Powder – Vanilla Bean
  • 1 cup Frozen Organic Mixed Berries
  • 1 medium banana or 1 container (5.3oz) Silk Soy Yogurt
  • 1 handful (about 1 cup) fresh organic spinach
  • 8-10 oz water or organic soymilk
  • Blend well together in a blender or Vitamix
  • Serve Immediately and enjoy!

My husband and I are avoiding carbohydrates right now so in lieu of the banana and soy yogurt above I usually add a little extra spinach and then add a total of either 8-10oz water or 8-10oz organic soy milk and a squeeze a lemon wedge into the blender.  If I really want an extra kick to jump start my day I will add some freshly grated ginger into my smoothie…mmmmm… delicious!

I should also mention Orgain Organic Protein Powder is also free of the following: dairy, lactose, eggs, nuts, gluten, soy, and GMO’s.

Enjoy!

~Erika

Ingredients 1

Delicious Vegan & Nut Free Protein Powder

Protein Powder 3

I have been meaning to post this product review for awhile now and after an exhausting weekend with my family filled with lots of fun outdoor activities what better way to start off a Monday than with a delicious smoothie made with —  Orgain Organic Protein Plant Based Powder in Vanilla Bean.  My husband, boys and I were on a mission last winter to find the most delicious “non-chalky” tasting vegan/nut-free protein powder.  Thankfully, our local organic co-operative grocery store the Grain Train, carries several 1-serving sample packages of protein powder.  I think they were about $3.00-$4.00 per sample package.  A bit pricey, but definitely worth it and a good way to narrow down your choices.

After we tried roughly 6 different brands and flavors by mixing the protein powders with frozen fruit and blending them into a smoothie, this product we determined was definitely the WINNER, hands down!  It is smooth tasting, delicious, non-chalky and does not have a gritty taste that many of the other brands we sampled had.  Each serving size, which is 2 Rounded Soups of the powder, includes 21 grams of Organic Protein derived from Organic Brown Rice Protein, Organic Chia Seed, Organic Hemp Protein and Organic Pea Protein!  I said 21g of protein, can you believe it?  Additionally, each serving of protein powder has only 3g net carbs, 5g organic fiber and NO ADDED SUGAR – music to my ears!!!  It packs quite a punch and I will typically make a delicious smoothie for my boys at least 4 mornings a week to give them the protein they need in the morning to energize them for an entire day of school!

Here is the recipe I usually use for my children’s Protein Smoothie Shakes:

  • 2 Rounded Scoops of Orgain Organic Protein Plant Based Powder – Vanilla Bean
  • 1 cup Frozen Organic Mixed Berries
  • 1 medium banana or 1 container (5.3oz) Silk Soy Yogurt
  • 1 handful (about 1 cup) fresh organic spinach
  • 8-10 oz water or organic soymilk
  • Blend well together in a blender or Vitamix
  • Serve Immediately and enjoy!

My husband and I are avoiding carbohydrates right now so in lieu of the banana and soy yogurt above I usually add a little extra spinach and then add a total of either 8-10oz water or 8-10oz organic soy milk and a squeeze a lemon wedge into the blender.  If I really want an extra kick to jump start my day I will add some freshly grated ginger into my smoothie…mmmmm… delicious!

I should also mention Orgain Organic Protein Powder is also free of the following: dairy, lactose, eggs, nuts, gluten, soy, and GMO’s.

Enjoy!

~Erika

Ingredients 1

Halloween Oreos

Although I’m not a big proponent of letting my kids indulge in quintessential American junk food snacks often, these may be the exception. After all, we do eat extremely clean, organic, dairy, egg & nut free. Who doesn’t enjoy an Oreo from time to time? Halloween Oreos are free of 6 of the top 8 allergens & only include wheat, soy, and many other preservatives and ingredients that I have difficulty pronouncing. Lol! But hey- a few for my boys once in a while is my definition of “moderation.”

Enjoy,

~Erika

Nut Free Koepplinger’s Bread at GFS

 I was shopping at Gordon Food Store (GFS) today & found this healthy nut, dairy & egg free bread for only $2.79!  As a parent with children that have multiple food allergies finding a decent & healthy store bought bread is very challenging as most bread retail brands include milk & nuts if you can believe it? Crazy, right?  Or it was “processed on shared equipment…”

I try to make my own organic bread in our bread maker but it is not always the most convenient option so this was a great find!   I also round this brand at Fresh Thyme when I was visiting relatives outside of St. Louis in O’Fallon, IL.

This bread is delicious, free of high fructose corn syrup and all of the top 8 allergens other than wheat and soy.

Enjoy!

Aldi’s is one of My New Favorite Allergy Friendly Grocery Chains!


Although I am extremely passionate about cooking & baking from scratch, we have been on the go much throughout this summer. Above is a picture of several items that are a staple in my pantry, freezer & refrigerator available at the Aldi’s in Petoskey and most likely their locations nationwide.  The prices for their “Live GFree” product line are much more reasonable (actually more than 50% less) than their mainstream counterpart brands Enjoy Life & Glutino. These products are all free of the following: dairy, eggs, nuts, gluten, soy & wheat & they taste great!

Many of the specialty dairy, nut & egg free items that are staples in our house are very expensive as I’m sure many of my followers can agree. It’s nice to find comparable items at a much lower cost allowing me to spend the majority of my grocery budget on local organic fresh fruits & vegetables.

Additionally Aldi’s has a Fresh commitment per their summer catalog to be “dedicated their customer’s well-being by to offering foods without certified synthetic colors, partially hydrogenated oils & MSG from their exclusive-brand food products in 2015.”

Enjoy!

Aldi’s is one of My New Favorite Allergy Friendly Grocery Chains!


Although I am extremely passionate about cooking & baking from scratch, we have been on the go much throughout this summer. Above is a picture of several items that are a staple in my pantry, freezer & refrigerator available at the Aldi’s in Petoskey and most likely their locations nationwide.  The prices for their “Live GFree” product line are much more reasonable (actually more than 50% less) than their mainstream counterpart brands Enjoy Life & Glutino. These products are all free of the following: dairy, eggs, nuts, gluten, soy & wheat & they taste great!

Many of the specialty dairy, nut & egg free items that are staples in our house are very expensive as I’m sure many of my followers can agree. It’s nice to find comparable items at a much lower cost allowing me to spend the majority of my grocery budget on local organic fresh fruits & vegetables.

Additionally Aldi’s has a Fresh commitment per their summer catalog to be “dedicated their customer’s well-being by to offering foods without certified synthetic colors, partially hydrogenated oils & MSG from their exclusive-brand food products in 2015.”

Enjoy!

Vegan Whipped Cream Finally a 1st for our Boys & Boy is it So Delicious!

I was visiting Ann Arbor, Michigan yesterday during a quick overnight trip downstate. One of my favorite things to do when in the “big city” (which thankfully I’m able to do about once a month) is to go shopping at Whole Foods.  I  love looking for for new allergen- friendly food products that may not be carried or yet introduced into our local organic co-op that I love and support.  I’ve been very skeptical of the Whipped toppings that are vegan and on the market due to lack of positive reviews, not to mention taste.

I purchased So Delicious’ Whipped Coco Topping yesterday and brought it home for a family taste test. Our boys dipped fresh strawberries into the whipped topping and it was oh SO DELICIOUS!

Mind you this was the first time EVER that my children have had anything even remotely close to Whipped Cream and it definitely fit the bill! They loved it and I completely endorse this product for fluffiness, flavor, just the right amount of added sweetness and it’s going to be a crowd pleaser in our dairy, nut and egg free home!

Thank you So Delicious Coco Whip for giving us yet another amazing allergen- friendly

 product that every kid should be able to dip freshly picked strawberries into during the summer months and so much more!