I am always on the lookout for foods that fit the way my family lives. And if they happen to be allergen free, that’s even better. We have so many friends who have a variety of allergies, and it isn’t always easy for me to provide substitutes for everything we eat when they’re over. While I can make a main or side dish with no problem, it’s the desserts that catch me up far too often. When I was invited to a NOW Foods even recently to learn about some of their new products, you can bet I was excited to see what they had to offer.
And there are a lot of products available…. This is just a sampling of what they offer, based on the goodie bag I brought home.
At the event, we tried a few of the items as we chatted before the hands on cooking portion of the event, and it’s possible I went back for seconds of the Gluten-Free Organic Chocolate Fudge Brownie Mix. They were so good, and I would never have believed that they were allergen free. Not only are the Living NOW baking mixes gluten free, bu they’re free of the 8 major allergens, too. While the instructions may have you add egg or butter, there are also substitutes listed for those with allergies.
The fact that the products are made in a dedicated facility is huge. While Little Miss’s dairy allergy is certainly not life threatening and we can be a little loose when there are items “made in a facility that also produces” some sort of dairy product, I know plenty of people who can’t have a breath of their allergen without consequences. Having the dedicated facility means that I know there is no cross-contamination and I don’t have to be worried that I’ve fed them something they can’t have. And of course, all the Living NOW products are non-GMO, too.
I had heard of NOW Foods before the event, as my favorite local health food store carries many of their products (they make over 1,400 different products from supplements to sports nutrition to natural food products and more), but the new Living NOW ling of allergy-friendly, non-GMO products isn’t carried yet. In fact, when we tried them, they weren’t even in stores yet! The new line includes Organic Amaranth, Organic Brown Rice Flour, Organic Quinoa, Tapioca Flour, White Rice Flour, and a new Gluten-Free All-Purpose Flour. There are also mixes coming out: Gluten-Free Organic Fudge Brownie Mix, Gluten Free Baking and Pancake Mix, Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Banana Bread, and Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Cookie.
And yes, I’ve had plenty of gluten-free products before. Some are good and some are meh, especially the texture. When I made the chocolate chip cookie mix at home for some friends of mine who have every allergy under the sun, the younger boy repeatedly told me that they were the best things he’d ever eaten and kept pestering me to ensure that his mother knew how to make them because they were so incredibly yummy. That batch disappeared… quickly!
The good news is that cooking and baking for allergies isn’t as challenging or complex as it used to be. I’ve known about coconut oil for years now, and I use it in almost all my baking for my dairy allergy daughter. The NOW Foods coconut oil is certified organic and works beautifully in the recipes I’ve tested with it. We tested out making Chef Suzy Singh’s (a Top 4 contestant on “Master Chef” and currently NOW Fooods’ R&D Corporate Chef) allergy-friendly chocolate cupcakes.
The cupcakes were just as quick and easy to make as any chocolate cupcake I make at home. We used coconut oil as well as the Sugarless Sugar product that uses Better Stevia as a 1 to 1 replacement for traditional sugar. The claim is that it bakes and tastes just like real sugar, and it certainly baked well in the cupcakes. I have an overly sensitive palate, however, and I could taste a bit of the aftertaste from the sugar, but most of the people in our hands on class were not able to. The cupcakes – and the frosting – turned out beautifully. I served my leftover cupcakes the next night at a gymnastics event we went to, and everyone loved them and couldn’t believe that they were homemade.
Being gluten-free isn’t just about the desserts though, and we also made a delicious vegetarian burger. We used quinoa and all sorts of flavorful vegetable and spices, along with flax seed mixed with water in place of egg. Personally, I found the patties too soft after cooking to work well in a bun, but they are delicious eaten with a knife and fork. Chef Suzy Singh also made a roasted parsnip puree that I absolutely must duplicate that we used as a condiment. When we had leftover mix, I brought it home to use for my lunch, and it was just as amazing (and healthy!) as I remembered.
I really appreciate knowing that I can easily find quality foods that are allergen free, not just for my friends who have allergies but because I try to look for items that have fewer ingredients in them where I can. Luckily, NOW Foods can be found online and offline at various stores throughout the country. Even better? The pricepoint is affordable, something you often don’t see with allergen-friendly products.
I can’t wait for even more products to become available, and I know I have more than a few friends who are just as excited. Do you want to try them, too? Luckily, I have a gift pack identical to the one I received with NOW Foods products ranging from Hibiscus tea to coconut oil to baking mixes to Sugarless Sugar and more. Just follow the Rafflecopter instructions below – and good luck!