April McGowan

Ener-G Foods (my new ally)

We had an ALMOST bad experience the other day.  That’s not proper English, is it?  But, that best describes it!  We have used many Ener-G brand products over the past year.  Breads, egg replacer (I prefer flax meal now–seems to make things rise better), crackers, pretzels (yummy sesame seed covered ones) and the like.  We can only get their brand through our local grocer, and the items they carry are all gluten, dairy and egg free.  So, when I glimpsed their brand on Amazon, and saw the word “donuts” I didn’t hesitate to order.  I’m not a baker (except cookies)–and when I fry foods, they often come out oily, so I avoid frying.  Anyway, my son has asked many times if gluten free, egg free, dairy free donuts exist, and until that day, I didn’t think so.  So I ordered a case immediately.  They arrived to much fan fare, and I set about opening a pack and trying one.  My husband tried one too, and said, “I taste lemon.”  So I read the ingredients, and didn’t see lemon, but DID see egg whites.    WHAT???

My son took this disappointment better than I did, but he was still sad.  I felt badly because my mistake of not reading ingredients  had nearly caused a catastrophe, and I felt I had let him down.  You hate to see your kids disappointed by something they had their hopes set high on.  Needless to say, I contacted the company and suggested they change their label, or add the word “EGG” in the title of the product, or main description.  Or at least BOLD it on the package.  When our local store carries about 20 different items by this company and NONE of them have egg or dairy, it’s a shock, let me tell you.    I gave our case of donuts to a friend whose daughter is allergic to wheat, she was very happy,  and continued to feel badly until I got my response from Ener-G.

They were very apologetic, and assured me they’d take my concerns seriously.  Their representative explained they used eggs in very few products, and they were trying to phase them out with flax meal.  Some customers didn’t like that they were phasing eggs out–it was changing the flavor of their favorite foods in a way they didn’t like, but Ener-G feels strongly about eliminating the top 8 food allergens.  They were very sympathetic too, which I didn’t expect.  Often times when I write to a company and explain how hard it is to find safe foods, they leave me with the feeling like, “well, that’s your problem, we need to make a profit.”  Ener-G is NOT that kind of company.  They seem to have an empathy for what it is like to have to consider every food item that goes into your child’s mouth as a potential hazard;  To understand that eating food isn’t something that everyone can take for granted.    And let me tell you, when a company is empathetic and listens and tries their best to help–they gain loyal customers FAST.

Ener-g is sending my son a complementary box of brownies–gluten, egg and diary free–and for that, I’m very thankful.  If you would like to contact them and support them in their complete elimination of egg and dairy from their line, you can reach them here.

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That’s not cheese?

If you’ve ever shopped for a cheese replacement because of dairy allergies, you were probably as dismayed as I was to find that most all the products out there-soy cheese, rice cheese, almond cheese-contain DAIRY in some form.  Why eat those other cheeses, you wonder?  We did too.  They certainly don’t taste all that great.  And most are NOT low in fat.  That’s a mystery I still haven’t solved.  Onward and upward! I searched and searched and heard rumor of ONE company that did indeed, make a dairy free, gluten free ‘cheese’ replacement.

Yesterday, much to my joy, Daiya Cheese landed at our local health food store.  I’ve been waiting for months after reading rave reviews on the product.  Previously, they only sold commercially, and as those companies used shared machinery with wheat, we couldn’t try them out.  So, where was I?  Oh yeah, so I got the call (I was on the waiting list) and raced to the store.

Yesterday we made pizza.  My kids have been without this enjoyment for nearly a year now, and have their hopes set high on Daiya as well.  I was hesitant, but hopeful.  We made a lovely gluten free crust, layered the ‘mozzarella’ shreds and ‘cheddar’ shreds on top of one, and the same with the additional hamburger-seasoned-like- sausage on the other.  Dinner was served and I heard, “oh mom, this is so yummy!” many many times.  Today we made turkey melts, and cheese fries (not healthy, but fun) and again heard applause and, “oh mom, I’m so glad you found this!”  Nothing warms my heart more than to be appreciated!

The breakdown:  The ‘cheese’ is dairy free, casein free, cert. vegan, cholesterol and gluten free.  It’s made from tapioca flour, and a mixture of oils.  It MELTS.  I couldn’t put my finger on the flavor exactly, but my daughter did.  She said, “tastes a lot like Cheetos.”  That sums it up pretty well!

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Shirataki Noodles and Cabury

I mentioned I’d be sharing about our quest for allergy safe foods for us on occasion.   It’s a challenge to find our SOLID information from companies.  It’s like they don’t want to commit all the way.  Very frustrating for people like me who want the answers clearly written in stone!  So, I contacted Shirataki Company about their products because a friend recommended them.  It took two phone calls to get the answer, but they are gluten free and vegan, so we can eat them.  I haven’t tried them out on my son yet-they are a bit crunchy and do have just the slightest touch of a tofu flavor.  Very slight, though.  I haven’t eaten them with any Italian sauces, but I did make an Asian soup and they were quite good with that.

Also, I contacted Cadbury, who make a variety of candies and (surprisingly enough) cough drops.  This is what they had to say :

“Our company complies with all applicable labeling regulations by the Food and Drug Administration and other regulatory bodies in the U.S.  In addition, we have implemented an internal food allergen management policy, pursuant to which we have undertaken the labeling of any known allergens in the following categories:  cereals (containing gluten and products of these including wheat, rye, barley, triticale, spelt, kamut, and oats, but not corn, rice, sorghum, or buckwheat), crustacea (including shrimp, prawns, crab, lobster, and crayfish), mollusks (including oysters, clams, scallops, and mussels), eggs, fish, peanuts, soybeans, milk, tree nuts, sesame seeds, and sulfites (greater than 10 mg/kg).  Accordingly, we continuously assess our products and update supplier information in order to make new or existing labels accurately reflect the presence of the listed allergens.”

They, for some reason, won’t go so far as to put that info on the package in the form of “gluten free” or “vegan”, but I think if more people asked for it, they might.

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