Saturday, August 13, 2011

Rudi's Gluten Free Multigrain Hot Dog Rolls

Rudi's has a line of gluten free breads and buns that so far is to die for. I have tried other varieties of gluten free hot dog buns but was nowhere near as pleased with them as with the Rudi's multigrain hot dog rolls. These were just the right amount of bread for the dog and usually I have cheese with my hot dogs, but I did not feel the need to do so when I used these. They had the right amount of moistness.

All this to say that I am looking forward to trying my first loaf of Rudi's gluten free bread and reviewing it for anyone out there who will read the post which will also gear this blogger and any of its readers up for My Gluten Free Life's first ever blog giveaway.

It is my intent with the upcoming giveaway to have two winners. One will receive their coupons directly from me and the other directly from Rudi's. I am exploring Rafflecopter as an option and will definitely utilize a random number generator site to choose the winner(s) and alternate(s). As we get closer to the big date of opening the giveaway, all the details will be provided. The only four requirements I have is that the winner/alternate must reside in the 50 continental United States and be of the age of majority within their state, they must either subscribe to or follow this blog, they must leave their e-mail address so I can notify them should they be chosen, and I will encourage extra entries via following on Twitter, liking this blog's Facebook page, Tweeting about the giveaway, Sharing the giveaway on Facebook, liking Rudi's Facebook page, and posting about the giveaway on their own blog (if they write a blog). I want to make this upcoming giveaway as seamless and fun as possible and since it is my first time that I will be running one, I want it to be as easy as possible.

I ask anyone reading this that has experience running blog giveaways to consider providing their input on how best to conduct this one.

The Republic of Tea

I sent an inquiry to The Republic of Tea asking if they offered samples for bloggers to review. The response was tremendous. I received a large envelope of 30 teas - two each of 15 flavors! All of them are certified gluten free.

These are the flavors they sent: Pomegranate Vanilla Red Tea (Caffeine-free), Chamomile Lemon Herb, Organic Mint Fields Herb, Blackberry Sage (tea for wisdom), Acai Green Tea, Hibiscus Superflower Tea (Caffeine-free), Strawberry Vanilla (Caffeine-free), Pomegranate Green Tea, Ginger Peach Black Tea, British Breakfast Black Tea, Good Hope Vanilla Red Tea, Caramel Apple Red Tea, Blueberry Green Tea, The People's Green Tea, and Honey Ginseng Green Tea.

Let me be honest. I live in the South. But even before living in the South, I always thought tea came in six varities: sweet, unsweet, hot, cold, caffinated and decaffinated. So tea having all kinds of different varieties and flavors baffles me and maybe even scares me a little bit.

But The Republic of Tea has been met head on with great success so far. The pomegranate vanilla red tea was not overpowering but just perfect with flavor, and being caffeine-free I was allowed to drink this before having to go to the mitral valve specialist. The chamomile lemon herb tea helped to soothe a very sore throat and a cough. It was also a gentle flavor. The organic mint fields herb tea smelled more overwhelming than it tasted as the flavor was just right and had the added bonus of breaking up nasal congestion. The ginger peach black tea has the right balance of ginger and peach. None of the flavors overwhelm the other. And ginger helps with stomach upset.

I cannot wait to dive into the other flavors, but this is just a start.

In terms of buying the tea, I am a little hesitant because of the cost. Maybe if it was able to be found in a local store, I would be more willing to do so, but shipping costs are a deterrence. However, if you are not bothered by the shipping, I strongly encourage you to consider this company for your fine tea purchases.

Annie's Homegrown Gluten Free

If you have never heard of Annie's Homegrown, go to the aisle of your local grocery store or to Whole Foods and take a look at what they have. Fruit snacks (which are awesome) and other all natural products like cookies and crackers and macaroni.

Before now, a lot of their products were not allowed for the gluten free diet, but Annie's is going gluten free with a lot of the products they offer.

Other than the fruit snacks, my most recent exposure to Annie's and my first exposure to their gluten free line was a box of bunny cookies. I went to Organic Harvest a couple of weeks ago and they had samples of a ginger variety and a snickerdoodle variety, but I wanted to try the cocoa & vanilla on the shelf. I had a bad experience with another brand's animal cookies and I have already had the bunny fruit snacks that Annie's makes, so I figured it wouldn't hurt.

Made with rice flour, brown rice flour and corn flour, the gluten free cocoa & vanilla bunny cookies are a nice snack to reach for when you want something sweet but not sweet like candy. And even better, for me, they are made in a peanut and tree nut free facility!

I give this product one of my highest ratings yet because they do meet the challenge of being allowable in a diet that is free of the majority of the top eight allergens. They do contain soy, so they are not entirely allergen free, but they are an excellent choice.

Popcorn, Indiana

What can I say about Popcorn, Indiana? My first exposure to this brand came when I say the huge end cap display of three different types of drizzled kettlecorn in little snack size bags. I just had to try them. They are gluten free and made with non-GMO (genetically modified organism) corn. My favorite ended up being the Drizzled Black & White Kettlecorn and I hope to see them make a come back in bigger bags. But they are making a big appearance in stores ranging from Wal-mart to Target to Whole Foods and to the local grocery store.

I typically do not like popcorn but this brand has changed my mindset. I now enjoy popcorn on a periodic basis. It is a healthy snack as opposed to cookies or candy.

Gluten Free and Prepackaged Meals

Very rarely does a person get to enjoy prepackaged prepared meals if they are on a gluten free diet. It is not so much that prepackaged prepared meals do not exist for gluten free diets, it is just that there are not very many out there.

But, of all the ones that I have tried that are not from the mainstream lines, two gluten free meals that I have tried come from Organic Bistro and Glutino.

Organic Bistro has a Chicken Citron meal which consists of lemon chicken served over spinach with herbed quinoa and sundried tomato edamame. It is unusual because quinoa cooks a little dry especially when heated in a microwave, but it is a delicious break from having to make everything from scratch.

Glutino has a Chicken Penne Alfredo made with chicken breast strips with brown rice penne pasta covered in creamy Alfredo sauce made with parmesan cheese. Again, traditional microwave heating does the meal no justice, but when you really want a quick fix or a break from making everything from scratch, it is a great alternative.

Both meals are great choices for the gluten free person on the go. And they are reasonably priced for prepackaged gluten free food.

Kettle Brand Chips - Tias

Kettle has a lot of flavors of chips! They remind me of Frito-Lay's except they are gluten free. They even have a newer line called Tias! The Tias! remind me of Doritos, except that Tias! are gluten free and Doritos have wheat.

Do you miss the nacho cheese or cooler ranch flavored Doritos now that you are gluten free? I don't. Because Tias! taste just as good if not better.

Look for them in places like Wal-mart, Target, Whole Foods and many of your favorite grocery stores as they are becoming a store shelf staple with their own little section down the chip and snack aisle.

Riceworks Chips Take Two

So after being mailed a coupon to try a free bag of Riceworks to see if there was a flavor I would like better than the first ones I tried, I landed on Sweet Chili.

Although I still found these chips to be considerably dry, I did like the spice factor which boosted the flavor and made them more tolerable.

However, I still do not prefer this brand.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Stay Tuned for My Gluten Free Life's First Ever Blog Giveaway

More details will follow after I have a chance to work out some of the logistics, but as it stands now, there may even be a possibility for not just one, but TWO giveaways! See, part of the background on that is because Rudi's had a little bit of a technical glitch and instead of one set of coupons for me to get some free Rudi's gluten free bread loaves for blog reviews, I ended up with two sets. Now I have the media packet with my coupons and an additional set which will be the first giveaway. But I will take TWO winners and TWO alternates, and proceed to also contact Rudi's for the second prize winner.

Here are the preliminary rules: Winner MUST reside in the United States. Winner must be at least the age of majority in their state of residence (which is 19 in Alabama). All entrants will need to be following my blog via Google Friend Connect or Networked Blogs or subscribe. All entrants will be required to leave an e-mail address in their comments. Friend request or request to follow me on Twitter if you would like. My blog syndicates with both, and this will be optional. Sharing on Facebook or Twitter will earn extra entries as well. All entrants will be asked to go to the Rudi's website and answer one question based on something from their website. I haven't decided yet what it will be.

The giveaway will be announced as soon as the first product review of my first loaf of bread has been published and will be open for two or three weeks depending on what day of the week the review is posted. The giveaway will close on a Friday to allow the entire weekend to try to determine the winners from all entries. The winner will be announced by the following Wednesday and have one whole week to reply before an alternate will be chosen.

The approximate retail value of the three coupons that the winner(s) will receive varies according to sales, stores and other factors, but is estimated around 15 dollars.

Just keep your eyes open for more announcements as the big giveaway approaches in the next few weeks (it may be after Labor Day). Please consider sharing with any and all friends and family you know that would benefit from this giveaway. It will be more fun than it sounds so far, but these are just the preliminary logistics.