gluten free vans cranberry almond

I’ve posted reviews on Van’s gluten-free products previously, as our son absolutely loves their gluten-free waffles, snack bars and cereals. So when they sent us some new product offerings we were happy to give them a shot. They’ve branched into granola and pre-packaged pastas, which was definitely a bit surprising at first, since most of their other products are snacks and/or sweet breakfast foods. We know they have the sweet area down, but were curious how they handled savory.

Since we’re dairy-free we can only review one of the pastas, but will update this post with friend’s opinions once they share their thoughts on both the mac-n-cheese and creamy herb and garlic. If you want to find them in your local store, check out their store locator on their site. If you’re in Austin, you can find them at most HEBs.

Gluten Free Granolas:

gluten free vans cranberry almond file_2107

Van’s gluten-free granola comes in two yummy varieties, Cranberry Almond and Blueberry Walnut.

Both are perfectly balanced sweet and soft bites with 12 grams of nutrient-dense, gluten-free whole grains. We enjoyed them in yogurt, as a cereal with some vanilla almond milk and as a simple grab n go snack option. Our son loved both favors and we ended up mixing both into a snack container for him to take to school. Definitely loving this new granola option, and we found it at our local HEB.

Gluten-free Pastas:

Another new offering from Van’s is their packaged pasta options, which they market as a simple, convenient way to  bring some tasty gluten-free pasta to your dinner routine. We tend to make our own pasta here, and prefer fresh home-made pasta sauces, but if you’re in a pinch these are pretty good options to have on hand.

We love that, as usual with Van’s products, they kept the ingredients list clean and simple, making us feel good about making these for our son.  Since we’re dairy-free we could only try the Rotini, but I can tell you it was much better than expected from a packaged meal, and they’ve done a great job of keeping the ingredients clean without compromising on flavor. If you’re looking for something easy to keep on hand for those short-on-time nights, this is a great option!

Gluten Free Rotini & Red Sauce Pasta

Ingredients: (that we are proud of!)

Gluten Free Penne Pasta (Brown Rice Flour, Red Lentil Flour, Beet Powder, Tomato Powder), Marinara Sauce (Tomatoes [Tomatoes, Tomato Puree, Citric Acid], Water, Tomato Paste, Olive Oil, Onions, Sugar, Basil, Garlic, Salt, Citric Acid, Black Pepper).

Gluten Free Creamy Herb & Garlic Pasta

Ingredients: (that we are proud of!)

Gluten Free Penne Pasta (Brown Rice Flour, Red Lentil Flour, Beet Powder, Tomato Powder), Garlic & Herb Seasoning (Reduced Lactose Whey, Rice Flour, Milk Powder, Parmesan and Romano Cheese [Milk, Salt, Cheese Cultures, Enzymes], Natural Flavors, Salt, Sugar, Spice, Garlic Powder).

Gluten Free Ultimate Cheddar Penne

Ingredients: (that we are proud of!)

Gluten Free Penne Pasta (Brown Rice Flour, White Rice Flour), Aged Cheddar Cheese Seasoning (Cheddar Cheese [Milk, Salt, Cheese Cultures, Enzymes], Nonfat Milk, Salt, Whey, Sugar, Buttermilk, Rice Flour, Natural Flavors, Annatto Extract [For Color]).

Vans gluten free pasta file_2112 file_2145

Disclaimer: Van’s sent us their new products to try with a request for a review on the blog. As always, I only share our honest opinions/reviews.

Start the new year off right!

For those of you who aren’t aware, we launched our gluten-free samples program, Happybelly Box last year, and we’re excited to offer you a chance to win a free sample box packed with our delicious, favorite gluten and dairy free snacks! These treats are perfect for your backpack or lunchbox and we keep them on hand at all times to make sure we have a safe and healthy treat option when hunger pangs hit! 


How do you enter for your chance to win a FREE Happybelly Box?

Simply head on over to our site, Happybellybox and register for your chance to win.

Whether you’re news to the gluten-free lifestyle or consider yourself a pro, our snacks are sure to please! They’re hand-picked to include our favorite snack foods and are often vegan, Paleo and are always packed with super-foods, nutrient-rich goodness.

Good luck!



It’s that time of year again; the kiddos are back in school, the 20 MPH lights are flashing reminding us to take things slowly (which is always harder to remember when life gets back to a normal routine) and we’re all scrambling for ideas on what to pack in their lunchboxes.  Since we have access to some amazingly yummy and healthy foods through our online shop, Happybelly Box, we thought it would be a good idea to package them up into a nice little giveaway for you. Then, when you try them and figure out which of our gluten-free, dairy-free goodies you can’t live without, you can head over to our online shop and grab some more to have on hand.

Our giveaway box will include some of our favorite treats including Thunderbird’s Almond Cookie Pow Wow (think almond cookies), organic superfoods including Almond Courage, our favorite indulgence, Chocolate Goddess Clusters, and some Epic Protein Bars to help keep you going throughout the day.

How do you enter for your chance to win FREE Happybelly samples?

Simply follow the instructions on the widget below to be entered for your chance to win free samples. Feel free to sign up for your loved ones who are on the hunt for safe gluten and dairy free food options as well.

Be sure to comment below and tell us which products you love, and what new ones you’d like to see us include for next time!


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good luck!

The gang at Happybelly Box and Inspiredeats



Gluten free goodies sure to please adults and kids alike!

My son’s favorite are the Almond Pecan Crunch which are a gluten and dairy free cluster of almonds, pecans and cashews sweetened with a touch of sugar and brown rice syrup. Due to the use of rice syrup they aren’t grain free, but they’re gluten and dairy free, vegan and contain no preservatives.

Here’s a copy of their nutritional info pulled from their site:

Ingredients: Almonds, Brown Rice Syrup, Pecans, Cashews, Organic Sugar, Sea Salt, and Sunflower Oil.


Nut Cluster Varieties:

There are several other varieties of nut clusters, including a chocolate drizzled version which is still gluten free, but contains milk chocolate. You can link to their nutritional info here and read about their other varieties including  TRUENORTH – Chocolate Nut Crunch, TRUENORTH – Cashew Crunch (dairy free) and TRUENORTH – Peanut Crunch (also dairy free).

Click the image below to check out their site and find out where you can buy them and be sure to check out more reviews here.

Oh, and don’t forget to leave your comments below!


Hail Merry Raw, Vegan and Gluten Free Snacks

I ran across the Hail Merry products while at the local juice bar, and I grabbed a bag of the Choco Macaroons and couldn’t wait to try them! As a fan of chocolate and coconut, I was excited to try something that was raw, and gluten free to boot. My son and I were hardly in our cars, juice smoothies in hand, when I ripped open the bag and split a macaroon in half for each of us to try. I was curious what my 8 year old would think of these treats, knowing I would probably love them but his palette can be a bit more picky 🙂 

He took one bite, closed his eyes and said, “MMMMMMM, yumm! These taste like brownies!” 

So there you have it – we loved the Vanilla and Choco Macaroons, thought haven’t yet had the pleasure of trying their other products. Looks like you can order their products on their site, though typically in bulk, but as they are a huge hit around here, I would highly recommend you give them a shot!

You can also search for stores which carry the Hail Merry brand here:

And being naturally raw, vegan and gluten free, they are packed with good-for-the-body-and-soul yumminess!

 Read more product reviews here:

For those of you who crave salty treats, and miss the old Frito Lay standbys ( Lay’s, Doritos, Ruffles, Tostitos and Sunchips), you may soon be in luck. The snack food manufacturer has announced plans to develop a multi-year gluten-free validation process that would allow some of its North American products to carry the claim of gluten free. They don’t intend to reformulate their foods, but will have them tested in accordance with limitations set by the Food and Drug Administration of 20 parts per million. As many of you probably know, the FDA has allowed for foods which contain less than 20 parts per million gluten to be labeled as gluten free. Now, between you and I, that’s a dangerous prospect for many who report reactions ot food which are labelled gluten free, and our best guess is that it’s due to the trace amounts which are allowed due to the FDA’s ruling. But, that’s another topic all together, so back to Fritos 🙂 

PLANO, Texas, May 18, 2012 /PRNewswire/ — PepsiCo’s Frito-Lay North America division today announced a multi-year initiative to validate many of their products as gluten free, with package labeling to follow. Since many of the company’s snacks, such as Lay’s Classic potato chips and Fritos Original corn chips are made from simple ingredients like corn or potatoes, they are, and always have been, naturally made without gluten ingredients.

Read more here


My son is almost 8; hard to believe that my little man is growing so fast and forming his own identity at such as a sweet, tender young age. But he is, and part of that identity is being gluten-free. It’s a life I know as an adult, but certainly not one I can relate to from a child’s eye, and yet, I’m always so impressed with how resilient and determined he is to be healthy. I’m so grateful for the support of friends, family, teachers and the community in Austin as a whole which help me to help him lead a ‘normal’ life.

As I write that, I can’t help but question what that means. What is ‘normal’ anyway?  I suppose it’s a kid being able to eat a hot lunch at school. Or a PBJ sandwich. Perhaps it’s to eat birthday cake at a party, rather than the gluten-free piece your mom brings in special for you?

Well, if I’m honest, I would take our present life over that other normal version any day. Ok, you’re probably thinking I’m some crazy gluten-free fanatic for saying that, but I’m honestly not. If you’re able to eat gluten and not have any reactions and feel like you lead a happy, healthy life, then by all means keep on your path!

So why am I happy with our gluten-free life then? I guess my first reason would be that we lead a much healthier and aware life than we did before-hand.  No, I don’t love having to read every label, but I do love that we are healthier, more active and generally happier than at any other time in my life. I guess that makes sense – cure the illness and life improves, right? True, but it turns out it’s more than that for us. It’s watching a 7 year old boy make a choice to pass on a corn tortilla because mommy has learned some stuff about how we grow our corn that scares her.  It’s having your child ask you if he eats enough fruits and veggies to be healthy. Helping his friend, who’s newly diagnosed gluten sensitive, by offering his snacks to him. Watching him tell his friend what snacks he likes and doesn’t like since his friend’s mom is still struggling, as many are, with what to feed their now gluten-free child. I’m not suggesting my son wouldn’t be helpful if he didn’t have food allergies, but I don’t think he would have as much of a focus on health as he does.

So what is a day like for a gluten-free kid?

If your child attends a school (rather than home-schooling), they will be faced with many distractions and temptations, and its important that you help them stay on track and keep them stocked with plenty of food so they don’t stray and eat something that can end up making them sick. I send my son with a cold lunch everyday, plus some extra snacks to make sure he doesn’t worry about getting the munchies at after-care and has nothing to turn to. It takes a bit more prepping on our part, but we know that he won’t be tempted by a gluten-ful goodie and have nothing to turn to instead, so it’s well worth the extra 10 minutes it takes to get him off to school each day.

School lunches: those are a thing of the past.  I do believe that one day schools will catch up and offer allergy-free friendly foods, but with budget cuts front and center, and so little done to help the schools  stretch their food budgets now, there just isn’t much hope in the near future for the more expensive whole (non processed) gluten-free foods to be offered. 

School snacks:  you’ll be sending those in yourself –  suggestions are fruit, homemade or gluten-free trail mixes, popcorn, etc.

Birthday parties:  these can be tricky as they are usually in a public place that doesn’t offer allergy-free friendly foods.  So what you will face is a flood of kiddos eating pizza and cake that your little one can’t touch. ‘Sucks’ is an understatement!  So we plan ahead and bring a frozen gluten-free pizza and ask them to heat it up for us (we’ve never had anyone refuse, though they do warn us that they can’t guarantee it won’t touch flour, which we understand).  And we bring a slice of gluten-free cake, cookie or brownie which we’ve made ahead of time.  To be honest, the kids are usually more focused on playing than eating, so it never seems to be a big issue. I was concerned at first that the kids would tease him, but to be honest, they usually envy his extra special snack that he gets instead. Funny, right?

School birthday parties: hopefully your teacher will be understanding and offer to let your child store some snacks at school; we send gluten-free cookies which his teacher stores for us.  This has worked out great for us and it turns out that most of his classmates typically want his snack instead. Again, kids are funny!

I know it’s a daunting prospect to help your child live a life free of a food allergen, but there are truly so many great resources and allergy-free friendly foods today!  Try to focus on items that are naturally gluten-free such as fruits and veggies and trust me, your kids taste buds will adjust fast! You can browse our many gluten-free recipes here for inspiration, and remember, kids are resilient and learn a lot from our behavior. Be determined to help your children live healthy, allergy-free lives and they’ll take their cue from you. Speaking first-hand, the frustrated moments of what they can’t have will fade, and the pride in their health will prevail so long as you believe this is the best approach for them. Our children inherently want to please us, so share with them why they are gluten-free, how their health relies upon it, and how important it is to preventing a lifetime of sickness. When they’re older, you can explain that not only is this about their gut, but about their brain as well. And let’s face it, if they hope to live a long, successful and happy life, they need to know the foundation to build upon. 

To raising happy, healthy kids,


Helping Paleo folks with food on the go! 

For those of you who are also trying to live the Paleo life, you may have noticed that it requires  a bit of prepping to have snacks on the go, and for those of you who work outside of the home, it’s even harder to make sure you have a healthy, paleo-friendly snack to turn to. So while reading the Paleo Summit site today to catch up on what I’ve missed so far, I saw a mention for Steve’s Original Paleokit, a paleo-friendly, gluten-free snack kit. Yay! And better yet, the proceeds from purchases made on their site  go to helping kids in his local community of New Jersey, where many children are roaming the streets rather than the classrooms.