Barnana Gluten Free Banana Bites

As a frequent traveller that spends many hours at airports and in my car, I’m always on the hunt for delicious on-the-go snacks that are healthy. Typically I pack a snack bar (either a Gluten Free Bar or Kindbar) and a piece of fruit like a banana or apple.

I’ve found that I have a hard time eating unripe bananas (probably has something to do with my lovely digestive tract and Celiac Disease) and typically carry bananas that are pretty much all brown. For my fellow banana-eaters, you know that these brown bananas can get really messy if smushed the wrong way. I’ve had my fair share of “I’m sorry my banana messed up my paperwork” type moments that left documents, photos and other things pretty yucky in my purse.

Last week I found out about a new gluten free snack called Barnana. I also kind of learned that I might have been living under a rock by not knowing about them sooner thanks to some of my fellow healthy, gluten freebies on twitter (Thanks John)!

Regardless, I now have a new favorite alternative to carrying mushy bananas in my purse…

image

Meet Barnana:

barnana original bites

Barnana Original is gluten free, non-GMO, raw and vegan!

Now meet Chocolate Barnana:

barnana chocolate bites

Barnana Chocolate is dairy free, gluten free, non-GMO and vegan, too!

I absolutely loved these snacks.  Because I’m a chocolate fanatic, the Chocolate Barnana Bites were my favorite, but I still enjoyed the Original Barnana Bites.  Here’s what a I thought:

Pros

  • Delicious alternative to protein bars or unhealthy options like chips or candy
  • Easy to carry and resealable pouch design
  • Choose between original or chocolate

Cons

  • I’m not sure how long the snacks would last once opened – this wasn’t an issue for me though because I finished the package in two days!
  • If you’re not a fan of banana’s then this snack might not be for you…

If you’d like to try Barnana, you can find them on Amazon, the Barnana website and at your local Whole Foods.

*I was provided with the above product for review. As always, all my opinions are my own and not swayed by outside sources.

If you’ve tried Barnana, did you enjoy the bites? Tell us about it below!

#GOVeggieTour Cooking Demos Coming to NYC Next Week

The awesome ladies behind Spork Foods are coming to NYC next week and partnering with GO Veggie! for 60-minute cooking demos at two Whole Foods locations.

During the demos, they will be sharing the benefits of vegan cooking and inspiring attendees to experiment with delicious vegan cream cheese, slices, shreds and parmesan. Everyone is welcome – whether dabbling with veganism or vegetarianism, living with allergies or intolerances or looking for ways to improve overall health. Plus, they’ll even be giving away swag bags valued at $20!

Here are the event details:

  • Tuesday, March 25 at 5:30pm: Whole Foods Upper West Side (808 Columbus Circle)
  • Wednesday, March 26 at 11am:  Whole Foods Columbus Circle (10 Columbus Circle Lower Concourse Level of the Time Warner Center)

GoVeggie_WFMTourFlyer_NY

For those of you that are gluten free AND dairy free, GO Veggie! has some delicious cheese-free cheeses just for you.

Here’s a look at their gluten free products:

Screen Shot 2014-03-17 at 5.44.35 PM

Have you tried any GO Veggie! products? Tell us your favorite in the comments below!

Sometimes you just need a cupcake!

Have you ever had a day that you just needed a cupcake?

Last week I was wondering around New York City between work and my acting class, and I just started craving a cupcake. Normally you would just go into the next bakery you find (and there are lots in NYC).  If you have Celiac Disease this means you’ll have to go to the store, buy a pre-made gluten free mix (if your local grocery store has them) and bake up a batch yourself. Then…you can enjoy the delicious cupcake you’ve been craving.

But….NYC is also home to quite a few gluten free bakeries.  Here’s a list of the 7 Best Gluten Free Bake Shops in NYC according to CBS News.  I just happened to be only a few blocks from Pip’s Place on 39th street, so I stopped in to see what was ready-to-eat in their bakery window.

Pip's Place Gluten Free Bakery

They have cupcakes, cakes, muffins, cookies and more to choose from that are ALL gluten free.  Some of their options are even gluten free AND dairy free!  Not only were there a lot of options, but the staff was extremely friendly. It was a hard choice, but I settled on a red velvet cupcake with white icing and sugar crystals.  After my experience at Pip’s Place, I will definitely be back for more!

Gluten Free Cupcake

Where’s your favorite place to get gluten free goodies?

Vote Now to See Gluten Free in the Super Bowl!

The short version of this post…Please help my friend and founder of Strictly Gluten Free win an ad in the 2014 Super Bowl.  Vote here: http://intuit.me/13GLBO9

Strictly Gluten Free

For the long version, I’d love to share a little about Steve’s journey to starting Strictly Gluten Free.  Here’s a quick interview I had with him:

Jenna: Can you share with me why you opened Strictly Gluten Free?

Steve: The concept of Strictly Gluten Free began very soon after Angela was diagnosed with Celiac disease in April 2008.  My wife Angela became the inspiration behind what Strictly Gluten Free is today.  Ever since that point of diagnosis we both collaborated ideas on what it would be like to start our own business.  Once we finally discussed making our dreams a reality and that we should pursue opening a business our Gluten Free journey began.

We conducted a year and a half market research ourselves in ensuring the Gluten Free industry was a viable marketplace and determined there was a tremendous void in the market catering to those who must adhere to a strict Gluten Free Lifestyle.  We now had a unique opportunity in turning a life altering event in our own lives to be able to align our passions with truly having the ability in positively affecting the lives of the communities we serve.

We have sacrificed and put much effort in creating an environment that not only is conducive to the Gluten Free Lifestyle but further educating and developing awareness. We are proud of all we have accomplished thus far and are excited to continue our Gluten Free journey.

Jenna: What is your favorite gluten free product that you carry at Strictly Gluten Free?

Steve: Well I wouldn’t say I have a favorite specific product per say but would have two particular brands Kinnikinnick, O’Doughs & Against the Grain which I believe in with the quality of their products and what their brands represent.  One of our most exciting aspects of this industry is that we have the ability to form really great relationships not only with their company representatives but with the owners of the company.  All the above mentioned company’s we have formed really unique relationships which align with our core values in maintaining the highest ethical standards while truly concerned with our customers well being.  We feel that these brands represent that and not just market themselves as such as others may position themselves in this industry.

Jenna: Finally, the question we’re all wondering…what would it mean for you to have an ad in the Super Bowl?!

Steve: It goes without saying that this is a tremendous opportunity to not just have the ability to have our brand recognized in a commercial during the SuperBowl but we would honored to be representing the Gluten Free community as a whole.  This would allow for us to expand our passion and efforts to fast tracking the ability to open Strictly Gluten Free stores regionally throughout the country.  While this would be a platform to further educate and build awareness at the most grandiose scale never before seen in the Gluten Free Community.

This is our main goal to at some point throughout our growth as a company to open stores in select cities throughout the US.  We are looking to bring this concept and vision and with the recognition we would receive with having a SuperBowl commercial we would have the ability to impact that many more people who currently maintain a Gluten Free Lifestyle or will be transitioning to one unbeknownst to them in the future.

It’s our lifestyle and we will help make it yours!

Voting for the 2nd Round of this Super Bowl Ad contest concludes onOctober 13th with then a Round of 20 will be selected.   Finals will be held in December and one business will receive a Super Bowl memory that will last a lifetime.

This is very exciting on many levels as they have an opportunity to present and build greater awareness on Celiac Disease and gluten free living.

Here is the link for the contest, http://intuit.me/13GLBO9

Go vote now (it takes less than 10 seconds)!

Holy Crap!

Yes, this breakfast cereal is delicious! Even after a crazy morning…

It’s been a hectic morning at my house today.  It all started out just fine, until the French Press decided it wasn’t going to make another cup of coffee:

French Press

After the bodum broke in my french press

It doesn’t matter how early I have to get up or what disaster I have to deal with (i.e. see broken bodum above), I always eat breakfast.  Typically I start my day with eggs.  Scrambled, sunny side up, or an omelet, it doesn’t matter because I love them all.

This morning was a little different.

In a few weeks, I’ll be attending the Gluten Free and Allergen Free Expo in Secaucus as an official blogger and a special guest as Miss New Jersey International.  As an official blogger, I got the opportunity to work with the Expo’s official blogger sponsor, Holy Crap Cereal, a gluten free, lactose free and vegan breakfast cereal.  Today, I gave it a try, and…

Holy crap, it was great! I got a chance to try both the Holy Crap and Skinny B cereals:

Holy Crap cereal

Skinny B & Holy Crap

Here’s a closer look before I added milk to the cereal:

Holy Crap Cereal

Skinny B & Holy Crap blends

The are two main differences between the Skinny B and Holy Crap blends.

  1. Skinny B contains 50% more Chia than Holy Crap.
  2. Holy Crap has dried fruit.

Skinny B also has a very low glycemic index.  Why is the low glycemic index important? The glycemic index was created to measure carbohydrates and originally was created to help diabetics manage their blood sugar levels.  Today research has shown that it can also help you lose weight and reduce risk factors for certain chronic diseases.

Overall, I enjoyed both cereals, but if I had to choose one then I would pick the Holy Crap blend.  I love fruits and the dried cranberry, raisin and apple in the Holy Crap blend really was a delicious mix with the rest of the organic ingredients.

Have you ever tried the Holy Crap cereal? Tell us what you think in the comments below.

 

Puppy Training & Gluten Free Dog Treats

There’s been a new addition to the family – a husky puppy! 

Say hello to Meeka:

Husky Puppy

After much debate we named her Meeka which is an inuit name that means friend.  She has the most fun personality – always wanting to snuggle and be playful.  It’s hard to walk 10 feet in the house because she’s right next to you!

Growing up my family always had a dog, so I got to help train several before learning to train Meeka.  I definitely learned all the hard work that my parents put into making our dogs great listeners and teaching them how to follow commands when my siblings and I weren’t there!  Luckily Meeka is a very treat-oriented learner, so we’re already house-broken and ‘sitting’ on command.

Being gluten free, we searched for yummy gluten free dog treats, so I didn’t have to limit myself when playing with her and helping her learn how to sit, stay, lay down, etc.  We found the Grain Free Buddy Biscuits that are also gluten free and corn free.

So far we’ve only tested the Slow Roasted Beef Flavor, but I have a feeling she’ll love the other flavors, too. They are available in Rotissere Chicken, Homestyle Peanut Butter and Smooth Aged Cheddar flavors (Amazon.com, $6.95).

Gluten Free Dog Treats

These little treats are adorable and shaped like the gingerbread man:

Gluten Free Dog Treats

Check out our adorable puppy, sitting and waiting ever so patiently for her gluten free treat:

Gluten Free Dog Treats

 

Do you feed your pets gluten free? Share with us in the comments below!

Rose’s Wheat Free Bakery

Imagine walking into a bakery and being able to try everything in the display case.  That’s what it is like at Rose’s Wheat Free Bakery.

I almost felt dizzy as I walked into Rose’s Wheat Free Bakery, a 100% gluten free bakery, in Chicago and took a look at the entire gluten free menu!  Here’s a small sample of all the gluten free goodies that laid before me:

Rose's Wheat Free Bakery
Although I was in Chicago for the Miss International pageant and only a day away from the Fitness wear competition, I decided to splurge a little on some delicious gluten free treats.  For lunch I chose the Avocado Chicken Wrap which was absolutely amazing. The gluten free pita was warm, the avocado was ripened to perfection, and it even came with a homemade dipping sauce.

Gluten Free Pita

I stole a few bites of the Rueben sandwich and B.L.T sandwich from my family.  The homemade gluten free bread was great.  It didn’t crumble like most breads.  When you order a sandwich, you also get to choose what kind of gluten free bread you’d like it on.  The options are: bagels, baguettes, challah bread, french bread loaf/rolls, plain sandwich bread and vegan seeded sandwich bread.

Gluten Free Rueben

Gluten Free Rueben

Gluten Free B.L.T.

Gluten Free B.L.T.

Then my family decided to each get a few desserts and share.  We had an eclair, blueberry cheesecake, a giant ‘oreo’ type cookie, and a cinnamon roll.  Yes, they were ALL gluten free.  

Gluten Free Bakery

Here’s a peek at the yummy cinnamon roll:

Gluten Free Cinnamon Bun

After lunch, I got a chance to meet the friendly kitchen team at Rose’s Bakery, too:

Gluten Free Bakery TeamGluten Free Kitchen Team One of the most amazing moments was speaking with Rose, the Bakery’s owner.  She was diagnosed with Celiac Disease over 17 years ago.   Her story was similar to my celiac disease diagnosis because her mom was diagnosed first then eventually she was diagnosed as well.

Rose Owner of Rose's Wheat Free Bakery

If I lived in Chicago or was planning to move there anytime soon, I would make sure I lived within a 10 minute drive from Rose’s.  I give them a 10/10 for being both extremely well-educated on Celiac Disease and having a 100% gluten free menu for both meals and desserts.  Thank you Rose for an amazing experience at your bakery.  I hope to be back soon!

Have you ever been to Rose’s Wheat Free Bakery? Share your experience in the comments below:

On-the-Go with GoPicnic Ready-to-Eat Meals

The airplane baggage claim has felt like my home a lot lately, but I think the jet lag has finally settled.

I spent a wonderful (but way to short) weekend in Pasadena, CA at the CDF Expo, then turned around and headed off to Nashville for an annual trip that I take with my friends from college.  In three weeks, I’ve lived in three different time zones.  While adjusting to the time zone maybe a little difficult, nothing compares to the difficulty of finding healthy, gluten-free snacks for your trip.

That was all before I was introduced to GoPicnic’s Ready-to-Eat meals at the CDF Expo.  Check it out:

GoPicnic Snacks

GoPicnic meals

I enjoyed the Sunbutter & Crackers meal on the way to Nashville which included some of my old favorite gluten free snacks like Crunchmaster and Sweet Perry Orchards, and introduced me to some new ones like the Sunbutter Creamy Sunflower Seed Butter.  I was a little skeptical of the sunflower seed butter, but it reminded me a lot of the consistency of peanut butter and my younger days of playing softball and eating sunflower seeds with my dad.

One nice perk about the GoPicnic Ready-to-Go meals is that they fit nicely on the tray in front of you on many airlines (I tested both United and Southwest) and the box opens so that you have one nice ‘picnic’ box to keep all your gluten free goodies together like this:

GoPicnic Open Box

Do you have any favorite gluten-free travel snacks?  Share them with us in the comments below:

Gluten Free Bar Review & Giveaway

Snacking should probably be my middle name.  I am constantly munching on something throughout the work day.  My snacks range from sliced apples and frozen grapes to Greek yogurt or gluten free protein bars. Gluten Free Protein Bar Over the weekend, I was introduced to the sample pack of The Gluten Free Bar.  I have to say that they might have taken over the long-held position of my favorite snack bar. Inside the sample pack ($10 with free shipping) includes the following bars:

  • Peanut Butter
  • Peanut Butter + Chocolate
  • Cranberry + Toasted Almond
  • Oatmeal + Raisin

My favorite was the Cranberry and Toasted Almond bar, but the Peanut Butter and Chocolate (YUM!) was a very close second. Good news for you, the guys behind the Gluten Free Bar are so awesome they wanted to give me an extra sample pack to share with one lucky reader!

Use the Rafflecopter below and/or leave a comment below for your chance to win.  If you aren’t the winner, no worries! Enter the coupon code “GFJENNA” at checkout to get 20% off your order.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tell me, have you tried The Gluten Free Bar?  If so, what’s your favorite kind? *I was provided with the above product for review. As always, all my opinions are my own and not swayed by outside sources.

If you offer a gluten free menu, please train your staff

Dear restaurant owners,

If you have a gluten free menu, please train your staff accordingly.

Your ‘glutened’ patron,

Jenna

A few weeks ago, I went out to dinner with some friends to a restaurant called the Chart House in Hoboken.  To my surprise, they offered a dedicated gluten free menu for their diners who have Celiac Disease.  I have to admit that when I go out to dinner, I get extra excited when a restaurant offers a specific gluten free menu – mainly because this means I don’t have to be ‘that person with the gluten allergy’ at the table.

If you’ve ever been to the Chart House (or checked out their menu), it’s a dimly-lit restaurant to set a romantic mood and typically reserved for special occasions like anniversary dinners and such.  In fact, it’s so dark that when our salads came, and I started eating, I was unable to see the croutons hidden just under the first layer of lettuce.  After several bites of lettuce, my fork crunched into the hidden suspect – A CROUTON!  Immediately the waiter was called over and admitted that he had not been paying attention when he served our table and brought the wrong salad.

In an effort to ‘make up’ for poisoning me, they offered to provide free desert.   Knowing that I would most likely make it through dinner without becoming ill, I agreed and shared a Crème Brulee with the table.

Needless to say, I went home and crawled right into bed as the stomach pain began.  The next morning is when the ‘gluten’ really hit me.  As I tried to sit up out of bed, I became dizzy and needed to sit down. After I put on my shoes and stood up, I became dizzy.  As I got out of my car to walk to work, I became dizzy.  I felt nauseous for days. My skin broke out into a rash.  My mood was affected and more.  I can’t even begin to imagine the havoc the cross contamination causes with my insides!

This terrible scenario occurs again and again for my fellow gluten free diners – mostly because food service staff is untrained on how to handle food allergies and autoimmune diseases like Celiac Disease.  They may go above and beyond to provide a specific menu, but if the staff (from servers to cooks) is untrained on ingredients, cross contamination, and more then it’s a waste of time.

If you are a restaurant owner committed to offering a safe environment for those with food allergy and gluten free diet concerns, then I highly suggest the National Foundation of Celiac Awareness’ GREAT Kitchens certification program.

Have you ever been glutened at a ‘gluten free friendly’ restaurant?  Share your story in the comments below…