Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Yummy Gummy Bears by Surf Sweets!

The Surf Sweets company contacted me and asked if I would like to review their products on my blog. (Well of course I would!) I said yes, and shortly thereafter received a generous box of treats to sample. As a matter of fact, there were so many different candies to try that I kept putting it off because I wanted to be able to devote some time to the sampling. I finally found some time and rounded up three children. E is 7 and has multiple food allergies, N is 13 and a vegetarian but she eats "standard" gummies anyway despite the fact that they have gelatin in them, and K is 13 and has no dietary restrictions whatsoever.

I have before me now four very detailed reports and I am trying to figure out how to organize my review. Let me start by saying that Surf Sweets are mostly organic, with the percentage of organic ingredients used ranging from 87% to 97%. They are made with real fruit juice and natural colors, and provide 100% of the RDA for vitamin C. All of the candies are gluten free, dairy free, soy free, nut free, and made in a completely nut free facility. Most of the treats are also vegetarian because they are made with pectin instead of gelatin.

So, here is the list of candies that we got to try:

Vegetarian: Jelly Beans, Sour Worms, Fruity Bears, Gummy Swirls, and Sour Berry Bears.

Non-Vegetarian: Gummy Bears, and Gummy Worms.

Please use the link at the beginning of this post to see pictures of everything and to get more information.

The textures were just as I'd expect. The Gummy Bears and Gummy Worms were springy and bouncy just like they should be. Everything else had a texture that reminded me a lot of those orange slice candies. It's a softer more jelly-like texture.

As for flavor, we had varying opinions but I'll try to combine them.

Jelly Beans: very very sugary sweet.

Sour Worms: I thought they were the perfect combination of sweet and sour, K said they weren't sour enough.

Fruity Bears: These truly reminded me of the "fruit slices" candy, fruity and sugary.

Gummy Swirls: These had a nice sweet and fruity flavor too, but more than that they are pretty. They look and taste like swirly gumdrops and would be wonderful for decorating cakes and such.

Sour Berry Bears: Way too sour for N, E, and me! N actually spit hers out. K LOVED them!

Gummy Worms: Taste just like gummy worms only a little more tart.

Gummy Bears: These were the hands down favorite of everyone! The taste and texture was incredibly similar to traditional gummy bears, but these were even better! You can really taste the fruit in these.

All of the candies were deliciously fruity. I definitely recommend grabbing a bag and trying them when you get a chance. Hopefully my brief summary above will help you find the one that's just right for you. Thank you again to the Surf Sweets company for thinking of me. The girls and I truly enjoyed your sweets!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Egg-Free Potato Salad On A Rainy Spring Day

I have always considered this to be a "German style" potato salad, but after doing a little research I found that theirs almost always has bacon in it. I may be trying that version next since Emily loves bacon. This salad, however, was created for Nikki, my vegetarian. As you can see it is a beatiful day for eating outside. Everything is green and smells of fresh rain. I picked some chives from my garden and sprinkled them on top of my salad (since the girls don't allow onion IN the salad). Chopped red onion would be really, really good in it too... personally, I love onions!!! OK, enough about onions, here's to spring and the beginning of salad season!

6 Medium sized red potatoes
½ c Chopped Kosher dill pickles
½ c Chopped celery
½ c Sliced black olives
¼ c Dill pickle juice
2 T Reserved black olive juice
2 T Rice vinegar (or any preferred vinegar)
1 t Dried dill weed
½ t onion powder
½ t Salt
A couple of grinds of black pepper
Bring 1” of salted water to a boil. Add whole potatoes and bring back to a boil. Cover the pot and reduce heat to medium. Boil for 20 to 30 minutes depending on the size of the potatoes. You want them to have a little resistance when pierced with a sharp knife, but you don’t want them to feel “crunchy” in the middle. Remove potatoes from heat, drain them, rinse in cold water, and drain again. Put them in the fridge to cool.
While the potatoes are cooling, chop up the pickles, celery, and olives. Take out the potatoes and chop them into bite size pieces. Put them into a medium bowl. Add the pickles, celery, and olives, and all of the remaining ingredients on top. Stir everything together with a sort of “folding” motion. It can take a little while to get everything incorporated without mashing the potatoes. A little mashing is good, however, it gives the potato salad a hint of creaminess.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Say Hi To Sophie

This is my niece's daughter Sophie. I can't believe she's 15 months old already and I'm just getting around to introducing you to her. I've never met her in person because they live so far away. Sophie was born on Emily's birthday and has the same allergies plus soy. I am writing this partly to welcome her and her family to our allergy community, but also to ask for help. We used to avoid soy and I remember how hard it was. As soon as we found out we could have it, all of my soy-free knowledge flew right out the window. Her allergies are wheat, eggs, milk, soy and peanuts. If any of my fellow bloggers out there have recipes for this set of allergies, would you please leave your info in my comments box? Any comments or suggestions for toddler foods would be greatly appreciated too. Thank you all!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Chocolate Dipped Strawberries-Allergen Free (unless, of course, you are allergic to strawberries...or chocolate)

I am not a candy maker by any stretch of the imagination, and yes, I've seen prettier, but I'm still darned impressed with myself right now. :)

Several weeks ago my amazing daughter Amanda had to take a HUGE advanced placement European History test, you know, the kind where they search you and take all of your belongings as you enter the room. She was not even allowed to have a water bottle, and had to be "escorted" to the restroom. It was a scary test! I thought she deserved a reward when it was all over so I bought her some chocolate dipped strawberries. She shared them with everyone...except Emily who couldn't have them. I said "I can make some for you, it should be pretty easy". Well, the funny thing is that making them WAS easy, finding the time to make them wasn't. Three different times I bought a basket of beautiful strawberries, came home and put them in the fridge, and by the time I had a day off to make them they were not pretty anymore. Well here they are Emily, finally, I'm sorry it took three weeks to make them!

6 Beautiful strawberries

1 c Allergen free chocolate chips (I usually use Enjoy Life brand, but I just discovered FMV brand-super cheap- at Fred Meyer...so cheap I guess they couldn't afford to put milk in them...YAY! FMV does have soy lecithin, Enjoy Life does not have any soy)

2 t Spectrum brand Palm shortening

1/2 c Allergen free white chocolate chips

1 t Spectrum brand palm shortening

Put your chocolate chips in a tall narrow plastic cup with the 2 teaspoons of shortening and melt in the microwave on medium setting, stirring about every 30 seconds. I would be more specific but every microwave is different. Mine actually has a "melt chocolate" setting. You can, of course, do this the traditional way with a double boiler, but I like to keep things simple. Also, having your chocolate in a narrow and tall glass makes dipping simple and minimizes waste. Cover a plate with parchment or waxed paper. Grab a strawberry by the top and dip about 3/4 of the way into the chocolate. Lay it with the prettiest side up on the plate. Continue until you are out of chocolate or out of strawberries. Place in the fridge until chocolate is hard.

The white chocolate drizzle is optional and I actually found it to be a little trickier than I expected. Add the other 1 teaspoon of shortening to the white chocolate chips and, again, melt in whatever way you are most comfortable with. Allow to cool slightly (that's the part I had trouble with). Transfer into a plastic sandwich bag. Snip a tiny corner off of the bag and use it to "pipe" the white chocolate drizzle over the top of the strawberries. Enjoy!

A little side note here... I made this recipe soy free with my niece's beautiful baby girl Sophie in mind. Sophie is allergic to almost everything Emily is plus soy. I know that a lot of my readers are allergic to soy and so I do tag all of my recipes that are soy free. If you go to my "labels" on the right side of this blog and click on "soy free" the recipes that come up should all be free of gluten, dairy, eggs, peanuts, beef, and soy.