Mazra Natural Snacks contacted us recently to see if Nathan (age 10) and I would be interested in trying their snack bars and giving them honest feedback. Of course we said yes! We love to try new gluten free snacks and we always have an opinion we’d like to share! Please click here watch our video to see our reactions!
We have never heard of Mazra Natural Snacks, so we were excited to try something new! This is a Buffalo, NY-based company and all of their products are gluten free, soy free, GMO free, and free of the top eight allergens—except tree nuts. If you’re allergic to tree nuts, this is not the product for you. But all of their products are completely peanut free and the company takes extra precautions to make sure their products are never cross contaminated with peanuts.
Mazra sent us their Banana Maple Walnut Snack Bar (or as Nathan thinks it should be called, the Honey Walnut Banana Snack Bar) to review and we thought it was really good. We thought it would have a stronger banana flavor, since that was the first word of the product name, but there was only a hint of banana flavor in the snack bar we tried. We didn’t notice a maple flavor at all. When we first opened the package, Nathan commented that the snack bar looked very similar to the Kind Bars that he takes in his lunchbox, but when he touched it, he noticed that the Mazra snack bar was much stickier and softer than the Kind bar. In fact, we both had to wash our hands at the conclusion of our taste test because we had sticky fingers! The Mazra snack bar seemed to be less “processed” than any other snack bar I’ve tried and more like a recipe you’d make from scratch. Nathan and I both commented that the Banana Maple Walnut Snack Bar smelled like honey. We didn’t detect any other ingredient smells. Also, the first ingredient we tasted was honey. The next flavor we noticed was walnut. The snack bar had a nutty flavor that we both really liked! Like I said earlier, there was just a hint of banana—but it was just the right amount. I noticed it was there, but it wasn’t overwhelming. I also like that they use real bananas, not that yucky, artificial banana flavoring.
Nathan and I both liked the Banana Maple Walnut Snack Bar and will purchase them regularly as soon as they are available in our local stores. Mazra products are currently only available at stores in New York and Pennsylvania, but can also be purchased online at www.mazrasnacks.com in 12-packs and 72-packs and cost roughly $1.50 per (43g) snack bar.
Nathan is a bit of a chocoholic, so he would probably still choose the Kind Dark Chocolate Chunk Bar if he had a choice between the two, but he did enjoy the Mazra bar and would definitely eat it if I substituted it in his lunchbox. I would select the Mazra bar over the Kind bar because it is made with mostly organic ingredients and had a great taste!
Thank you, Mazra Snacks, for sending us the Banana Maple Walnut Snack Bar to try and review.
If you have a gluten free product you’d like for us to try, please contact me at www.gfreegenius.com or on Facebook or Instagram at GFreeGenius.
Mazra Banana Maple Walnut Snack Bar Nutrition Facts: 1 serving (43g), Calories 190, Fat Calories 90, Total Fat 11g (17%), Saturated Fat 2g (10%), Trans Fat 0g (0%), Cholesterol 0mg (0%), Sodium 11mg (1%), Total Carbs 22g (7 %), Fiber 3g (12%), Sugars 13g, Protein 4g
I saw a T-shirt this morning that said "I Miss Gluten" and it made me ask myself if I really miss it. I used to miss gluten. Fluffy, southern biscuits, chicken and dumplings, and Oreo cookies cannot be replaced, but I will NEVER cheat on my gluten-free diet to taste my gluten-filled favorites again. It simply isn't worth it to me.
I don't miss gluten. I don't miss the tummy troubles, migraines, brain fog, fatigue and low immunity that gluten caused. I certainly don't miss my 10-year-old's former ADHD behavior, eczema, ear infections, back pain, constipation and tantrums brought on by consuming gluten.
A gluten free life style does have its challenges!
Dining out is a constant worry of cross contamination and getting "glutened" is a quick reminder of how much I don't miss gluten!
Finding healthy gluten free food is also a challenge. I have found lots of excellent processed food (pizza, cookies, pasta, bread, pretzels, etc.) that all taste great, but most of it is super expensive when compared to the prices of their gluten-containing substitutes. And although these foods are better for my health than their gluten-containing counterparts, there are healthier options. Fruit, vegetables, fish, poultry, beef, eggs and beans are always gluten free and are readily available in all 50 states.
Last week, I decided to make healthier gluten free meal choices and headed out to our local farmers market for fresh ideas. I talked to the farmers who shared with me the benefits of grass-fed beef instead of grain-fed beef, and I even enjoyed a hot-off-the-grill hamburger while I was there. As I walked through the farmers market, I found lots of seasonal vegetables grown in my hometown that were picked the day before, as well as fresh milk and eggs. The prices were competitive and I was able to support local businesses by purchasing healthy foods directly from the farmers! I left there with fresh ideas, naturally gluten-free food, and I may have purchased a few gluten-free baked goods while I was there! Too bad they weren't selling T-shirts that read "I LOVE BEING GLUTEN FREE!"
What is your favorite healthy gf meal recipe? Please comment to share!
I can't even count the number of dollars that have been wasted on gluten free snacks that my kids didn't like. It is always scary for me to buy something new because I know it could possibly end up in the trash. Cookies are one snack that should never be tossed!
To help guide you to a "winning" chocolate chip cookie purchase, Nathan decided that we should do a taste test. I asked for suggestions of cookies to test on social media. Crickets. Not. One. Suggestion.
So, it was up to me. I selected four well-known brands that are widely available at most grocery stores and put them to the GFree Genius Taste Test with three tough critics.
1. Nathan, 10, completely gluten free for medical necessity.
2. Lauren, 11, gluten free at home because that's all mom buys, but eats gluten elsewhere.
3. Mattie, 6, never eaten gluten free cookies.
It was really funny to watch their reactions.
Be a genius and click HERE to watch this awesome video taste test.
Nathan treated the taste test seriously. He plans to use the idea for a science fair project, so he is doing preliminary research! He took small bites of each cookie and carefully thought about the taste and texture of each bite. His comment of his top choice was too funny. "I like this one because it has the most original taste--nothing fancy like cinnamon." That kid cracks me up.
Lauren was a good taste tester because she is quick to offer her opinion. Always. She always has an opinion and will share it whether you want to hear it or not. I'm glad these cookies had plenty of sugar because Lauren never sugar coats anything! She carefully thought about each bite and also expressed an overwhelming aversion to cinnamon in a couple of brands. She actually selected the brand that we usually keep in the pantry.
Mattie was a good taste tester because she has never had a gluten free cookie. In fact, she doesn't even know the phrase "gluten free" and she only knew she was coming over to taste cookies--and she really like cookies! Mattie had three loose teeth at the time of the test, so her bites were smaller than expected. While all of these cookies were crunchy, she went with the softest one, primarily because of her current tooth situation. She also wasn't a fan of cinnamon in two of the brands.
This was a blind taste test. The kids never saw the cookie packages and were tested individually, so they didn't hear the reactions of the other taste testers. This was not a sponsored taste test and we received no free products to conduct the test. All cookies were selected and purchased by GFree Genius.
I hope you'll watch the video and let me know what you think! Also, please let me know if you have other products you'd like for us to put to the GFree Genius Taste Test.
Special thanks to my wonderful husband, Thomas, for producing this video! We love working together and look forward to many more GFree Genius video adventures! We hope to produce one at least every month, or sooner!
Thank you for your continued support as I work to educate, inspire and encourage those with celiac disease and gluten sensitivity, as well as their supportive friends and family! Please share my blog and our first video with everyone!!
I celebrated my 40th birthday last week and received many thoughtful gifts from family, friends and co-workers--gift cards, cash, a new purse, and a beautiful painting from my daughter! I was totally thrilled with each gift, but everyone told me that I am the hardest person to shop for since I'm gluten free. It is so hard for me to understand why having to eliminate one tiny protein from my diet has made me difficult to shop for. My boss, a regular reader of my blog, told me that my next post had to offer gift suggestions to the friends and family of gluten free people. Since it was a direct order from the boss, here goes!
The Gift of Food
If you listen to your gf friends, they will probably be talking about fabulous new gluten free finds ALL THE TIME!! Pay attention to what they bring for snacks and stalk their social media accounts to see what they "Like" or are raving about. I would TOTALLY love a gift bag or basket filled with gf snacks like chocolate covered pretzels, chocolates, crackers, cookies and my favorite beverage (I love Dasani Sparkling Water with lime).
If you don't love shopping or have no idea where to start to select items your gf friend may enjoy, you could always buy a prepackaged box. I recently learned about AmericanGlutenFree.com, a gluten free box subscription service, that offers a pre-selected box full of gf meal items, baking mixes, and snacks that is delivered each month. A monthly subscription to this service, or even a one-time gift box, would be an awesome gift! I can't wait to try this service! (Grandparents, this would be a great gift to buy for a gluten-free grandchild. You could give them the first box on their birthday and they would receive a new one each month with all new gf products to try.)
Speaking of subscriptions, I think a subscription to a gluten free magazine would be a thoughtful gift. There are many great gf magazines out there. Gluten Free Living, Delight Gluten Free and Gluten Free & More are a few of the ones I enjoy reading to learn about new products and services, get ideas and encouragement, and find new recipes. It is the gift that keeps on giving! If you need to shop last minute, you could stop by the bookstore or grocery store, buy a gf magazine and a gf snack, put it in a gift bag, and you'll have an easy, inexpensive, but thoughtful gift!
Gift Cards or Take Me Out To Lunch
Restaurants can be tricky! I am scared to eat at most places--even if they have a gluten free menu--for fear of cross contamination. I've been "glutened" on more than one occasion, I've had good luck at Mellow Mushroom, Lyfe Kitchen and Texas de Brazil and I post about my great experiences on social media (this is where stalking is a good thing). A gift card to one of my safe places would be greatly appreciated! To save money, I suggest buying Texas de Brazil gift cards at Sam's Club to save about 20 percent. If you can find a dedicated gluten free restaurant in your city, a gift card would almost always be a hit! You could also take your gf friend out to one of their safe places and buy their lunch! They would love it!
Office Birthday Parties
Okay, this is tough because everyone likes to celebrate milestone birthdays (like 40), but no one wants to be left out of the office birthday party or potluck. Gluten free cakes are hard to find in my area and I'd be too scared to eat a cake baked by a well-meaning friend who doesn't have a gf kitchen. Cupcakes are usually easier to find in the freezer section of some grocery stores. In lieu of birthday cake, I would prefer a breakfast party since gf donuts, muffins, fruit, etc. are easier to find. Most of these items can be found at almost any grocery store including Kroger, Target and Walmart.
Please make sure everything offered is gluten free to prevent cross contamination. There's nothing like watching a co-worker cut gluten free items with the same knife she cut the gluten containing items that will suddenly make you feel not so hungry. If the gf birthday girl sees everything in sealed packages, she will be more likely to eat.
Other Gift Ideas
If you're looking for other gift ideas for your gf someone special you could always buy flowers, personalized stationery, a gift certificate for a pedicure, a new gf book or diamonds--all gluten free!
See, I'm not difficult to shop for at all!
Do you have a gift idea you'd like to share? Please comment so we can add to the list!
Also, remember to enter my Celiac Disease Awareness Month GIVEAWAY! You could win a FREE GF Mom Certified E-Cookbook, but you have to enter before May 12! Click here to enter!
If you'd like to go ahead and order GF Mom Certified's amazing gluten free cookbooks, you can save 22% on orders of $30+ by using my special coupon code: gfgenius (all lowercase). Please share this contest and coupon code with everyone! There are so many families that can benefit from these cookbooks!
I am excited to offer a FREE GF Mom Certified E-Cookbook and food packaging tag printable to one lucky reader to promote Celiac Disease Awareness Month (#CDAM16)!
To enter, click on the link below:
GF Mom Certified E-Cookbook Giveaway
The contest ends on May 12, 2016 at midnight. The winner will be contacted via email on May 14, 2016 and the e-cookbook and food packaging tag printable will be delivered to the same email address directly from GF Mom Certified. Winners must be 18 or older. By entering this contest, you agree to receive emails from GFree Genius and GF Mom Certified. We will not share your email address with anyone else.
While only one reader can win, all of my readers can save 22% off any cookbook purchase of $30 or more here and using the coupon code gfgenius (all lowercase). This exclusive offer expires May 12, 2016 at midnight. You don't want to miss this discount! GF Mom Certified has several wonderful cookbooks that I think anyone who cooks without gluten and dairy would really love to add to their collection.
I have personally read the e-cookbook, Mom Certified Celebrates Heritage Gluten Free, tried some recipes, and blogged about it in April. Please look back at that post to see everything I love about it! This is way more than a cookbook! You will find amazing recipes that your whole family will enjoy that are 100 percent gluten free, and you will get to know the author as she shares her incredible story through the pages of this e-cookbook!
Please share this contest link and coupon code with everyone you know! The more people who know of us, the more people we can educate, inspire and encourage! Good luck, and thanks for entering!
May Day, as defined in the Urban Dictionary, is derived from the French "m'aidez" pronounced "mayDAY" and literally means "help me."
For example, "[i]f you are in distress while flying an airplane, calling "Mayday Mayday Mayday" over the radio will give you top priority and help people on the ground or in the air can offer," --Urban Dictionary
On this first day of May, the first day of Celiac Disease Awareness Month, and my 40th birthday, I am calling Mayday! Readers, this is GFree Genius, MAYDAY MAYDAY MAYDAY!!! I need your help in making Celiac Disease Awareness a top priority in our community!
Unlike many celebrities who go gluten free by choice (Gwyneth Paltrow, Al Roker, and Lady Gaga), many of us, including yours truly, have to adhere to a strict, gluten free diet for medical necessity (Elizabeth Hasselbeck, Drew Brees, and Chef Jilly Lagasse-daughter of Chef Emeril Lagasse). Even a tiny crumb of a gluten-containing food from a cutting board or toaster (or a crouton picked out of your gf salad at a restaurant) may cause the most unpleasant reactions for days, and sometimes weeks which will cause us to call MAYDAY!!
What can you do to raise awareness for #CDAM16?
1. Do a little research on your own! Don't just take my word for it. I am not a doctor. My degrees are in journalism and business management. I love research and I know there are tons of resources available online or at your local public library that can provide information to help you ask the right questions to your healthcare provider or to help you understand what your celiac disease or gluten intolerant friend or family member goes through. The Celiac Disease Foundation has a free toolkit available at www.celiac.org which includes a free meal plan that may help.
2. Educate your child's teacher, principal, and child nutrition director to make sure they understand the severity of this condition and that appropriate precautions are taken to ensure safety of your child. Food rewards are a nightmare for the mom of a fourth grader who always earns the prize, but can never eat it. Make suggestions or provide snacks that everyone can enjoy. Brands like Enjoy Life offer treats that are free of many of the top allergens, including gluten, and the kids love them--especially the Crunchy Chocolate Chip Cookies!
3. Meet with your local grocery store manager about the importance of the availability of gluten free food options. According to the vendors I met at the GFAF Expo in Atlanta last month, we have more power than we know!
4. Visit with clergy regarding strict gluten free diet requirements for communion and potlucks. They may not be aware of gluten free options.
5. Consider donating to organizations that advocate for celiac disease research, awareness, support and resources. The Celiac Disease Foundation and the Gluten Intolerance Group of North America are just a couple that come to mind.
6. Plan FUN activities for #CDAM16.
What is my family doing?
1. A Chocolate Chip Cookie Taste Test--Follow GFree Genius on Facebook and Instagram as Nathan conducts a gluten free cookie taste test later this week--as soon as he finishes his 40 Book Challenge for school. We will share the winning cookies with his fourth grade class on field day! Stay tuned to find out which cookie his test panel selects!
2. A GIVEAWAY--As an official blogger for GF Mom Certified, I have been given the opportunity to give away GF Mom Certified's eCookbook on social media to one lucky winner. While only one can win, all of my readers will be offered a discount on GF Mom Certified orders of $30+ until May 8th with a special discount code that is available on the GFree Genius Facebook page and Instagram. Follow me! Good luck!
Do you have any ideas of ways to increase awareness of Celiac Disease Awareness Month? Please share in the comments below.