HomeFree Treats

Home-Free-Gift-Basket.jpgToday, Tracy reports on HomeFree Treats, a great source for allergen-free, organic goodies and ingredients. Read on for Tracy's review of some HomeFree goodies and their allergen-free cookbook, as well as to learn how to win a HomeFree organic cookie sampler pack!

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“Given my oldest son’s allergies, I’m always happy to learn about companies who make allergen-free products. And HomeFree Treats – from which I recently tested some product - did not disappoint. This purveyor of allergy friendly fare offers a collection of cookies, coffee cakes (which arrive at your door in a cooler!), and more. We tasted the large oatmeal cookies and the mini chocolate chip cookies, both of which were met with smiles and delight from our kids, and also tested recipes from their Allergen-Free Baking Cookbook.

The oatmeal cookies were almost a cross between a cookie and a muffin top in terms of texture, and they were well spiced and not too sweet. A great lunch box addition. The mini chocolate chip cookies took me back to the days of McDonald’s boxed cookies (in a good way). The were crisp, loaded with chips, and being bite-size made it way too easy to grab a few here and there as supper was cooking. Despite our intention for these to make it into the Monday lunch boxes, they were gone before Sunday afternoon!

HomeFree also has worked hard to make their snacks as healthy as snacks can be. They carry a whole grain symbol, which made me feel at least a bit better about the kids noshing on cookies for most of the weekend.

The best treat of this product testing experience was trying out their Allergen-Free Baking Cookbook. There was some serious sleuthing involved in trying to source some of the ingredients (e.g., in my smallish city, safe potato starch was not to be found, so I had to substitute), which delayed my efforts at trying some of the more involved recipes. These ingredients also tend to be rather pricey, but a little goes a long way, so I tried to think of it more as a baking “investment.” You can order some of the more unusual ingredients, such as xanthan gum, from the HomeFree store, and these ingredients are guaranteed allergen-free.

The recipes in this book are not what even the most experienced bakers are used to. Because the recipes are very close to completely allergen-free, they use alternative flours, binding, and leavening agents. Preparing these ingredients probably takes more steps than the average cake-baker is used to. That said, recalling my early experiences with trying to eliminate 3 allergens from my baking (to negotiate my son’s allergies) made me appreciate the intensive testing and re-testing of recipes that would have gone into this comprehensive cookbook. Bakers new to baking without allergens will be thankful that most of that legwork has been done for them. Recipes for cakes, cookies, muffins, pancakes, and even ice cream alternatives are included.

We tested three recipes: Raisindoras, Vanilla-Pear Birthday Cake, and Blueberry Scokiemuffs. The Raisindoras were the easiest of the recipes, and I made them primarily because they called for nothing unusual. I was able to use my regular baking ingredients and made them up in a jiffy. They tasted like Hermits (without the nuts) and were a delicious dark brown color. Almost like a no-chocolate brownie, these have become a play date staple in our house. The Vanilla-Pear Birthday cake was quite yummy, too. I didn’t taste much vanilla or pear, which I was somewhat disappointed with, these being two of my favorite flavors, but the cake was moist and sweet with a delicate crumb. There are frosting recipes in the book, but we ate ours with a raspberry jam filling and a dusting of icing sugar over top. I made the Blueberry Scokiemuffs because how could you not make something with so interesting a name? A scokiemuff is, according to the book’s author, a cross between a scone, a cookie, and a muffin in terms of texture, and I would say that the description is spot on. These were a great mid-afternoon snack, and while they were the most complex recipe - multiple siftings and steps - they could easily become a breakfast, brunch, or lunchbox regular feature around here. My son and I gobbled them up in about a day and a half!

Overall, of the allergen-free products I have tested to date, HomeFree offers the broadest range of allergens they avoid. Being able to recreate some of their best recipes on your own at home is an added bonus, saving you money on shipping costs, if not time in the kitchen. Allergen-free baking is a labor of love, and HomeFree makes it easier to love doing it!”

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Congrats to winner Joanne!
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Now, want to win a HomeFree organic cookie sampler pack? Here's how:

  • Visit the HomeFree online shop, then email contests@bostonmamas.com (with ‘HomeFree’ in the subject), and name a HomeFree product that you would love to try.

  • One entry permitted per person; US entrants welcome to enter.

  • Entry period closes at midnight EST, Thursday, June 4, 2009.

    *One lucky winner (drawn at random using Random.org) will win a HomeFree Organic Cookie Sampler Pack (approximate value $30).