If you’ve been following the news over the last year about the success of crowd funding sites, you know how life changing they have been for so many people. From the school bus monitor (bullied by some obnoxious middle schoolers), who was shocked when the country pitched in to raise more than $750,000 for her to go on vacation, to web developers, coffee shops, filmmakers and more, crowd funding has taken the small business and consumer grant-a-wish world by storm.

So while it might seem like a piece of cake to launch a crowd funding program, I spent a lot of time researching what makes a program successful. Why would someone want to support my cause? Would my message be clear, concise and compelling? Would you even care? Maybe you wouldn’t love it as much as we do?

Insert a bit of anxiety.

But then I realized that was all silly crap I was creating in my mind, and I decided to just go for it. So we set up a Gofundme acct to help grow our little company, Happybelly Box! Our goal is to grow the business so customers all across the country can have access to yummy, allergy-friendly foods. No more food deserts or areas without access to safe allergy-free foods if we can grow this thing.

Here’s where we need your help. We need to cover the cost of packaging design, buying the inventory, paying dedicated staffers to help ship the goods and to spread the word.

You can visit our funding page here and if you’re inclined to help, I’ll love ya forever 🙂

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When I first found out I was gluten and dairy intolerant, the prepackaged food options were scarce at best. That was 2009, and things have dramatically changed since then. The best books on Celiac and Gluten Sensitivity that I could find included Living Gluten Free for Dummies and ROCK (Raising our Celiac Kids); both are great resources, but didn’t really hit home for what I was looking for – a book on how an adult transitions to a gluten and dairy free life.

Today, there are tons of amazing products that are certified allergy-free, including dairy and gluten free, and I’ve made it my mission to test them all to help you weed through the good (and not so good) products, so you can shop with confidence that you won’t waste money on products you or your family are less likely to love.  Sometimes the products are donated to us, but often times we buy them ourselves, and share our raw and honest opinions of them with you.

Today, I have a ton of food wrappers on my desk, just waiting for me to toss them in the recycling bin, but I can’t do that until I get a review of each of them live. So, to help get my desk cleared, I’m drafting several reviews now, starting with Steve’s Paleo Kits.

If you’re involved in Crossfit, or familiar with the Paleo movement, you have probably heard of Steve’s Kits.  I’ve heard from some friends that these are the best tasting, and freshest jerkys they’ve ever had, and since these guys are pretty particular about food, I figured I’d give Steve’s a shot.

We picked up the LOOSE PACK PALEOKIT (GRASS FED) and the BERKY, beef jerky made just for kids which combines jerky and berries (clever play on the name Berky, right?).

Steve’s describes themselves as a delicious mix of free-range jerky, raw macadamias, almonds, pecans and dried fruits, and notes that their PaleoKits are gluten-free and perfect for people on the go. While they do say they’re gluten-free on their site, their customer support team did tell me that they are not made in a dedicated facility:

Hi Jen!
While our products contain no gluten, dairy or soy, they are not made in a certified/dedicated gluten-free facility. If you want more information on the ingredients we use, you can find them on our site under each product’s individual listing. 
I hope this helps!
Steve’s Original 
Home of Paleo Goodness
Your purchase changes lives:


LOOSE PACK PALEOKIT – product review

I have to admit that my first impression when I saw the PaleoKit was that it’s small for the price point. At $9.90 for 2 kits, they’re a bit on the pricey side, but again since I have heard how delicious they are, I went ahead and bought them.

I had my son with me when I bought them, so I also grabbed the Berky which is marketed as a kid’s version of jerky. I opened one of the grass-fed beef Paleo Kits first and we both dug in. The jerky had the same sticky, tough consistency you expect from jerky, though it wasn’t nearly as dry as the jerky I’ve tried in the past. Perhaps its due to the quality of the ingredients, or the process by which Steve’s Kits are made, but the jerky was definitely more moist and tender than I expected. As for the flavor? I have to say we both loved it! While on the slightly sweet side, the hint of sweet didn’t overpower the salty jerky; in fact, the combo was perfect for us both and we devoured the first bag. 🙂

Here’s what Steve’s has to say about their LOOSE PACK PALEOKIT… A delicious mix of grass-fed jerky, raw macadamias, almonds, pecans and dried fruits, PaleoKits are perfect for people on the go. Vacuum packed (loosely sealed) for maximum freshness, PaleoKits have a six-month shelf life and are great on-the-go fuel for life’s journey. PaleoKits are available in a small size for snacking and large size for meal replacement. Following Zone®? A small contains two blocks of protein, carbs and fat and a large contains 4 blocks of each. To view nutrition information, please click here (PDF).


BERKY – product review

Our next sample was Steve’s Berky; a beef jerky packet made of berries and beef jerky, Berky is gluten-free, nitrate-free, nut-free, and MSG-free. It’s also full of deliciousness according to our son 🙂  After giving him a sample, I took a bite myself, and have to agree; Steve’s did a fabulous job of making a Paleo jerky kit that kids will love. Again, this version was more tender and moist than jerkys of the past, so our best guess is that’s a trait that you will find consistently across their products.


The team at Steve’s are friendly and quick to respond to your emails in the event you have any questions, and while they were happy to answer my questions, they did say that since they donate a portion of their proceeds to charity, they don’t offer any free samples. No worries, we bought them at a local store here in town and tried them out, though you can also purchase them here online.

Another point worth mentioning is that Steve’s donates a portion of all sales from Steve’s PaleoKits to help fund Steve’s Club, an organization they founded to help keep kids healthy, active and focused on living good lives.  Steve’s Club is now a national program, helping kids around the country discover that a strong body equals a stronger mind, and that every choice made today effects potential for tomorrow. To find out more about Steve’s Club, visit stevesclub.org and feel good about the fact that you’re not only feeding your family a healthy meal, but you’re helping keep kids off the streets, and focused on better health and helping them carve a better life for themselves. Good food, good cause!

Overall rating? A Thumbs UP for sure!  
These kits are convenient, delicious and super handy to have in a crunch. The biggest drawback? I found myself wanting them pretty often and we breezed through the few packs we bought pretty quickly.  I guess that’s a good problem for Steve’s to have, though I started thinking about buying a humidifier and making my own jerky when I figured out how much I would be spending on these PaleoKits monthly. Then I remembered how little I like to prepare meats and how even less likely I am to actually follow through on the hydration process and headed back over to their site to purchase some more. Oh well – good intentions!


I hate to say “forbidden” as it makes it seem so dramatic; but the reality is, the current state of our health is a dramatic crisis for many people. We are suffering rates of obesity, diabetes, high blood sugar, high blood pressure, imbalanced hormones, adrenal fatigue, food sensitivities, ADD, ADHD and various immune compromises and more, at alarming rates.

And the research is everywhere pointing to our food supply. From Harvard University to private research firms, there are plenty of studies showing how our food supplies have been modified/manipulated, and what that’s doing to research animals, and therefore assumed to be doing to us as well.

So remember, this is about a whole lifestyle change. About turning from refined and processed foods to a life full of WHOLE, UNPROCESSED FOODS.  Our goal here is to help you reconfigure your plates so the majority of each meal is created from an abundance of raw and cooked vegetables, protein, fruits, nuts and seeds.

The following categories of food are forbidden on the MyPaleo diet,  but remember, you’re encouraged to save up your “good karma points” from the days you follow the MyPaleo diet, and use them on a splurge day. Just knowing you have 1 splurge day a week helps many people overcome the weaker moments when our minds trick us into thinking we want something sweet or generally anything on the forbidden list.  And to be honest, the better you start to feel, the less likely you will be to cash in on those good karma points, but be sure to keep them in a reserve as you never know when you’ll get an invitation to a Mexican themed party full of corn chips and margaritas! 🙂

Refined Sugars

There is a long list of ingredients which are essentially “sugar” which we include below. You may choose to allow small amounts of honey or pure maple syrup – but this would have been a rare treat.

Here is a list of some of the possible code words for “sugar” which may appear on a label. Hint: the words “syrup”, “sweetener”, and anything ending in “ose” can usually be assumed to be “sugar”. If the label says “no added sugars”, it should not contain any of the following, although the food could contain naturally-occurring sugars (such as lactose in milk).

  • Agave Nectar
  • Barley Malt Syrup
  • Corn sweetener
  • Corn syrup, or corn syrup solids
  • Dehydrated Cane Juice
  • Dextrin
  • Dextrose
  • Fructose
  • Fruit juice concentrate
  • Glucose
  • High-fructose corn syrup
  • Honey
  • Invert sugar
  • Lactose
  • Maltodextrin
  • Malt syrup
  • Maltose
  • Maple syrup
  • Molasses
  • Raw sugar
  • Rice Syrup
  • Saccharose
  • Sorghum or sorghum syrup
  • Sucrose
  • Syrup
  • Treacle
  • Turbinado Sugar
  • Xylose


Yes, there were wild grains, and a few roasted kernels have been found in ancient fires. But really – how much wild grain could have been collected at a time? Answer: not much.

Sorry folks – Corn is a grain.

Starchy Tubers

This is an area where many experts disagree, but in general, we suggest avoiding:

  • Potatoes
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Yams
  • Cassava
  • Manioc
  •  Beets – limited quantities

Legumes (Beans, Peas, Peanuts)

These are usually omitted on the premise that most of them can’t be eaten without cooking, and that legumes have a high content of lectins and other antinutrients. Research into lectins is in its infancy and not a lot is known about this with any certainty, but if you are interested, Loren Cordain’s 2012 book, >The Paleo Answer: 7 Days to Lose Weight, Feel Great, Stay Young has a great section about what is known at the present time.

Quick note – we don’t have as much of an issue with legumes as many other Paleo diets do, so feel free to enjoy your green beans, but keep them in moderation. As for peas, they don’t offer much nutritional value, and quickly convert to sugar once eaten, so they are generally recommended as something to avoid, and rather, store up those good karma points for a pea salad splurge 🙂

Dairy Products

Here’s what we know: early people did not eat dairy products before animals were domesticated. It has been pointed out that there has been adaptation to dairy products in some genetic lines, but most experts exclude eating dairy including milk, butter, cream, yogurt, ice cream, cheese, etc. Others say that butter (and to a lesser extent cream) don’t have much lactose or casein and are probably OK on occasion. All would agree that if you are going to eat dairy, make sure the animals are grass-fed, or better yet, seek out raw forms whenever possible.

Some Meats

Most processed meats (made with nitrites and additives) are not allowed, including hot dogs, bacon, sausage, and lunch meats, although sometimes more healthy forms of these can be found. If you’re of the lucky group who can find naturally prepared lunch meats by your local grocer, which are free of nitrites, additives and preservatives, then by all means – enjoy. Note there is a difference between processed (e.g. hot dogs) and simply “cured” (e.g. bacon), and it’s important to know the source, and their preparation methods.


Definitely avoid the following:

  • Corn oil
  • Cottonseed oil
  • Peanut oil
  • Soybean oil (same as soy oil)
  • Rice bran oil
  • Wheat germ oil

This includes products, such as mayonnaise, which include these oils.

  • Trans fats in packaged foods
  • Canola oil – genetically modified and turns rancid quickly
  • Cottonseed oil – genetically modified, pesticide-laden, hydrogenated


There are too many reasons to mention why soy is terrible for us, so please click here for the full review of soy and its harmful effects. And if you’re a parent feeding soy to your babies and/or children, please PLEASE, read this!

Now that you have a cheat sheet of foods to avoid, we will be following up with foods to cherish next! The key here is to focus NOT on what you CAN’T have, but rather, on what you CAN have. That list is lengthy, and full of delicious options. The key is managing your time; this is not a “convenience” food diet. This is a way of life that requires you to plan ahead as much as possible to have items on hand to take with you while out of the home, and to have plenty of delicious meals ready for you.

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.