Ever go on a long weekend trip and come home to gain 5+ pounds? Yeah, me too. It has not been a big problem since I adopted an anti-inflammatory foundation to what I eat but this weekend? I ate a lot of things. And I’m totally not complaining. It was worth it.
And I don’t feel bad.
AND I’d like to share my findings with you.
You see, this weekend I flew to the Food Allergy Blogger conference in Denver, CO because of my friend Elizabeth, with her budding gluten-free baking mix biz, Sweet Elizabeth's Organics was one of the sponsors. And she invited me along.
I didn’t know it would be packed with deliciousness. It was like 3 years of testing new finds in the grocery store packed into one weekend. So I wanted to share with you some of my FAVORITE packaged food finds from the FAB con 2018.
*Note: these foods are generally gluten-free (many Celiac families or non-specified wheat intolerances in attendance) + many are Top 8 or 12 allergen free.
I want to preface this by saying I work with food sensitivities, not necessarily allergies (you can read the differences here), but since they’re both immune system related, SURPRISE! There’s plenty of overlap.
Often people find by strategically addressing low-grade chronic inflammation from sensitivities, allergies improve too.
Also, I haven’t been paid or receive compensation for recommending any of these products—just sharing my honest opinion.
On with the food reviews:
Free 2b brand chocolate bars, Sunbutter cups, and snack breaks: The owner of this company, David, was a pure pleasure to visit with. In short, most chocolate irritates me or drains my energy because I’m sensitive to both cocoa and lecithin, the emulsifier (usually made from soy) added to most chocolate to reduce the cost input of cocoa. This lecithin free cocoa is amazing. No itching, scratching and the taste is incredible. The ingredient label is so clean!
Free 2b probably makes the only sunflower seed butter “Reese’s cup” you’ve seen in stores, but I was delighted to meet some of their chocolate bars—namely the Dark Chocolate Bar with Sunflower Seeds and sea salt— and the Peppermint Snack Breaks, meant to compete with the BarkThins on the market.
Talking to David, it’s CLEAR that he creates products with integrity and the finest ingredients. When you start digging into the quality of your foods (I’m looking at you coffee and chocolate) you sometimes find that the foods you LOVE aren’t causing the trouble; it’s the other “stuff” getting in the way. I can’t wait for him to release the next allergen-free baking chips (Enjoy Life are the only ones widely available on the current market)
Free2b Snack Breaks (peppermint variety) ingredients: Dark chocolate (unsweetened chocolate, sugar, cocoa butter), organic crushed peppermint candies (organic brown rice syrup, organic evaporated cane juice, peppermint oil, beetroot juice).
Free 2b Dark Chocolate Bar with sunflower seeds and sea salt ingredients: Dark chocolate (unsweetened chocolate, sugar, cocoa butter), roasted sunflower seeds (sunflower kernels, sunflower oil), sea salt.
Zego Bars Just Fruit Bars (they have a protein bar as well):
Another company with mad integrity skills, Zego bars are clean, kid and allergy friendly. How about apples, apple concentrate and raspberry concentrate for an ingredient list? That’s all that’s in the Zego Just Fruit Raspberry Bar. And Apples, Apple Concentrate, Blueberry Concentrate and Chia seeds make up the Blueberry Fruit + Chia bar.
The thing that struck me the most, besides a great taste, is Zego’s commitment to low chemical residues. They source only fruit from Oregon, Washington, and upper California. According to the creator, Colleen, Zego also third-party tests for glyphosate (Round-Up) residues in her ingredients and actually ousted an organic cinnamon that was off the charts for Glyphosate residue (a learning point for all of us to support our natural detox function).
On every Zego label is a QR code that can be scanned to give an allergy parent peace of mind, as it gives an allergen report for that particular batch of bars, meaning it tells the consumer if any traces of any allergen were found in product tests. That’s a lot of integrity!
SnackHack brand Veggicopia olives and hummus + Mozaics organic veggie (pea) & potato chips:
This company is producing great stuff so fast, I can barely keep up. Many of their product offerings are Top 8 allergen free, shelf stable and delicious. In fact, I just devoured a package of olives and am working on a bag of sea salt chips with red pepper hummus. With any luck, you’ll be seeing these options on your Delta or American Airlines flights soon.
The olives? Much tastier than your run of the milk jarred olives and the only ingredients are green olives, extra virgin olive oil, and citric acid. Chief engineer, Matt, credits it all to the high-quality variety of olive.
The chips all vary in ingredients (ingredient card included for your convenience), but you can find green peas, yellow peas, potato flour, rice flour, black beans, extra virgin olive oil, and sea salt in the Sea Salt variety. No hidden “spices” either. All current ingredients are disclosed on this ingredient list.
The hummus? I’ve had shelf stable hummus and this one takes the cake, by the way. It’s fabulous.
The original is just chickpeas, water, tahini (sesame paste), roasted garlic, garlic powder, extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice concentrate, citric acid, sea salt, cumin, toasted sesame oil, paprika. The red pepper version only adds roasted red peppers.
For the gluten free, tree nut friendly peeps in the room, SnackHack is about to release a new product called Handfulls. It’s an almond coated with a crispy rice shell and spices. It’s like holiday junk food, but slightly less awful. I’m including them in my Christmas exchange gift boxes this year.
Hilary’s Eat Well Allergen Free snacks: Hilary’s has frozen veggie sausages, veggie burgers, Mediterranean bites (that taste like falafel) in the freezer section. I wish I could have brought some home; they are packed with flavor and are Top 8 allergen free. I keep a bag in the freezer at one of the places I work in case I forget to pack a lunch. You’d think this progressive natural foods company would have started in California, but Hilary’s humble roots are in the Midwest in Lawrence, Kansas.
Tummy Drops: Natural remedy for upset stomach. The creator of Tummy Drops, David James, is a Dallas based GI physician. When he saw how often patients had common digestive complaints, he saw an opportunity and hole in the marketplace for a natural product to help with symptom relief. The natural ginger can help with morning sickness, nausea and motion sickness whereas the natural peppermint is better for bloating, nausea and stomach upset.
Ginger drops: Brown rice syrup, dried cane syrup, natural ginger powder (the particular compound that helps with nausea) and natural flavor (I spoke with David and he said the natural flavors are derived from sugar cane).
Peppermint drops: Brown rice syrup, dried cane syrup, natural peppermint oil and natural flavor.
OWYN Only What You Need Plant Based Protein Shake:
Now normally, plant-based protein tastes like grit. These pre-made shakes by OWYN are smooth, delicious and have a reasonably clean label. They boast 20 grams protein, over 500 mg Omega 3 fatty acids, a complete plant protein and a small mix of kale, spinach and broccoli per 12 oz container.
Ingredients: Water, Protein blend (pea protein, organic pumpkin powder, organic flaxseed oil), vegetable fiber, organic cane sugar, organic sunflower oil, natural flavors (? I always wonder what that means!), organic sunflower lecithin, organic guar gum, greens blend (organic broccoli, spinach and kale), monk fruit extract and Himalayan pink salt.
Cybele’s Pasta: So far, I’ve tried the Cauliflower, parsnip, and lentil pasta (looks like regular pasta) and the squash pumpkin pasta and both are out of this world. This has to be the best gluten-free pasta I’ve EVER tasted. Bottom’s up!
Sweet Elizabeth’s Organics baking mixes: Part of the reason I attended FAB blog conference was to support my sweet friend Elizabeth’s baking company. She created these GF mixes to meet the needs of her own family after her daughter asked for an “allergen free” coffee cake for her birthday. Doubting, Elizabeth worked on her creation to find that the end results were delicious. Sweet Elizabeth’s works with a small Celiac family farm in Wyoming to source her GF oats and will soon be releasing a line of paleo mixes. The ingredients are as clean as can be (even a corn allergy could have them!) and source with integrity. They include coconut flour, GF oat flour, baking soda, coconut sugar, salt and sometimes spices.
Other honorable mentions:
88 Acres: A Boston based, craft seed granola bar in dark chocolate sea salt and triple berry is a nutritious gluten-free, clean labeled bar.
SunButter: The organic and no sugar added varieties of SunButter contain only sunflower seeds & salt. It’s not uncommon for large schools that have kids with peanut allergies to go completely to sunflower butter and become a peanut free school.
One of the most enlightening experiences of the weekend was hearing one man’s stories of being bullied about his food allergy as a kid and experiencing many near-death anaphylaxis experiences. His stories touched my heartstrings and I’m all about that SunButter life where needed. Plus sunflower harvest at the farm is my favorite.
Gluten Free Heaven: A small mom & pop company leveraging sorghum flour to give gluten-free families all their desires in GF donuts, cakes, pizza doughs and more.
Canyon Bakehouse: It wasn’t too long ago when all gluten-free bread tasted like….crap. It’s come a long way. Canyon Bakehouse is a jewel of a GF bakery, offering delicious, you’d-NEVER-know-they-don’t-have-gluten breads, bagels, and brownies.
Enjoy Life Foods: This company is best known for its dairy-free chocolate chips, but actually has a huge line of other GF snacks, including a line up of granola bars with fun flavors like carrot cake and lemon blueberry poppyseed.
Christa Biegler, RD, integrative nutritionist specializes in reversing symptoms of eczema, IBS, Crohn's, Colitis, digestive issues, bloating, abdominal pain, fatigue and autoimmune symptoms, especially Hashimotos.
Get started feeling like yourself again by booking an intro consult.