Hi Everyone! I would like to introduce myself. My name is Erin Micali and I will be HomeFree’s new summer Marketing Intern. Currently, I am a junior at the University of Connecticut where I study Communication and Psychology. In the fall I will be studying abroad in London where I will be enrolled in a Human Rights Program. I learned about HomeFree cookies through my cousin, Michael, who raves about these delicious treats. He claims they are the best and most healthy alternative that satisfies both his sweet tooth and his gluten-free diet! My family and I all have allergies, which is why this internship became so appealing to me. I agreed with Jill’s ideology to be able to include everyone in one delicious food. I look forward to working with you to enhance HomeFree’s social media presence. My predecessors left me with big shoes to fill! I hope to work along side them to continue to enhance the HomeFree brand.
We’ve been listening to your requests, and working hard in our test kitchen. After I can’t even tell you how many tastes, we are ready to introduce our new cookie flavor! Do you love lemon? Then you’ve got to try these new crispy Lemon Burst Mini Cookies! Free of the top 10 allergens and gluten, and as always whole grain, vegan, kosher pareve, non-GMO, and delicious. They have had rave reviews! Also new, by popular request, we now offer our Chocolate Chip Minis in a 4 bag snack pack. Perfect for lunch box snacks and everywhere. Want to know more?
Read our press release below.
WINDHAM, NH – (March 1, 2015) HomeFree®, “treats you can trust,” announces two new product launches, Gluten Free Lemon Burst Mini Cookies (6/5-oz.) and Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Mini Cookies Snack Multipack (6/4-1.1 oz.), as the newest additions to its line of nationally distributed, gluten free, allergy friendly cookies. These new products are launching at Natural Products Expo West, March 6-8, 2015. HomeFree Gluten Free Lemon Burst Mini Cookies are free of the most common 8 food allergens – peanuts, tree nuts, eggs, dairy, wheat, soy, fish and shellfish. They also contain no soy, sesame, or corn. Like all HomeFree products, these cookies additionally are certified kosher pareve, non-GMO, vegan, and a good source of whole grain.
HomeFree’s new Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Mini Cookies snack pack helps to fulfill the demand for “free from” convenience snack options on grocery store shelves. There are many mainstream cookie multipack options packed in trays with clear wrap, but not special diet options. Now consumers seeking to include people with special dietary needs can purchase cookie snack multipacks that do so.
Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE) estimates that there are approximately two children with food allergies in every classroom. According to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, & Immunology (AAAA I), peanut is the most prevalent allergen among food allergic children, and one of the food allergens most commonly associated with anaphylaxis. Peanut free classrooms are therefore common. Single serve snacks such as HomeFree cookies manufactured in peanut free facilities prove to be a convenient solution for consumers purchasing snacks for peanut free classrooms.
“Everyone wants to be included at snack time,” said Jill Robbins, a clinical psychologist who founded HomeFree after her son developed multiple food allergies. “Our new snack pack of our best-selling Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Mini Cookies will make inclusive shopping and snacking easier. We are also excited to launch such a flavorful and wonderfully textured lemon cookie that everyone can enjoy together.”
All HomeFree products are made in HomeFree’s dedicated facility free of peanuts, tree nuts, eggs, dairy, wheat and gluten. HomeFree is a pioneer and leader in the industry with regard to allergy safety, and is Safe Quality Food (SQF) certified, a certified woman owned business, and a certified B Corporation for a strong commitment to social and environmental responsibility.
HomeFree cookies are available for retail in 5 oz. boxes ($4.99 SRP), the new Chocolate Chip Minis Snack Multipack ($4.99), and single serve Grab & Go boxes (SRP $1.39), and for food service in single serve bulk boxes and countertop displays, and loose bulk. Current flavors are Chocolate Chip (large and mini), Double Chocolate Chip Mini, and Vanilla Mini, as well as the new Lemon Burst Mini. The cookies are offered nationally and in Canada, and through the company’s website, www.homefreetreats.com.
Of course all HomeFree products have always been free of egg and dairy (and meat!). And most have always been certified vegan. Now our best-selling chocolate chip mini cookies are certified vegan too, so now all HomeFree products are vegan! These are the same great cookies made with the same allergy friendly ingredients. The only change is that the chocolate chips themselves are now made with sugar that is processed in a way acceptable to vegans.
If you have heard recent news about dairy cross-contamination in some dark chocolate, rest assured that we source our chocolate carefully, additionally test each batch for dairy proteins, and have never had a positive test. You can feel “home free” eating and sharing HomeFree “treats you can trust!”
See our press release below.
HomeFree Announces Expansion of Vegan Certification across Full Product Line
WINDHAM, NH – (February 11, 2015) HomeFree, “treats you can trust,” today announced that its full line of gluten free allergy friendly multiple-award-winning cookies is now certified vegan by Vegan Action. Most of the products have always been certified, and now the best-selling Chocolate Chip Mini Cookies are certified vegan as well. This is in keeping with HomeFree’s commitment, as a Certified B Corporation, to social and environmental responsibility.
Having all products vegan also further fulfills HomeFree’s mission of inclusion. HomeFree’s goal is to make it easy for everyone to enjoy delicious, wholesome cookies, while also including people with food allergies and other special dietary needs. “Now that we have been able to source the chocolate we needed to make our best-selling Chocolate Chip Mini Cookies vegan, we are one step closer to HomeFree cookies truly being ‘one cookie, for all!’ Everyone wants to join in when treats are served, and everyone wants to include all their guests or customers when offering treats. We hope we have made that easier,” says Jill Robbins, who founded HomeFree after her son was diagnosed with multiple food allergies.
In addition to being certified vegan, all HomeFree cookies are made in HomeFree’s own dedicated facility free of peanuts, tree nuts, eggs, dairy, wheat and gluten. The only soy is lecithin in some products, commonly considered fine for most people with soy allergies. There is also no rice or sesame. All HomeFree products are also kosher pareve, low sodium, all natural or organic (70%), Non-GMO Verified, and certified a good source of whole grain, and some flavors are low glycemic.
It is because HomeFree cookies are tasty and healthy for everyone, while additionally providing an easy single-product solution that includes special diet customers, that HomeFree cookies won a prestigious Food & Beverage Product Innovations 2012 Award from the National Restaurant Association Restaurant, Hotel-Motel Show. HomeFree cookies are so delicious that HomeFree Gluten Free Double Chocolate Chip Mini Cookies were recommended by the Good Housekeeping Research Institute as the “Best Gluten Free Cookies.” HomeFree is certified by Safe Quality Food (SQF) for outstanding food quality and safety.
HomeFree cookies are available for retail in 5 oz. boxes ($4.99 SRP) and single serve Grab & Go boxes (SRP $1.39), and for food service in single serve bulk boxes and countertop displays, and loose bulk. Current flavors are Chocolate Chip (large and mini), Double Chocolate Chip Mini, and Vanilla Mini. The cookies are offered in retail and foodservice establishments nationally, and through the company’s website www.homefreetreats.com.
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Everyone wants to be sure that the food they eat and feed their families is safe. For families with food allergies, where a trace of an allergen could be life threatening, attention to detail at every level of the food preparation process is essential. We are proud to share that the tremendous level of care we use has now been validated by an extensive, internationally recognized food quality and safety audit. HomeFree is now certified by Safe Quality Food (SQF). Read our press release below for more details.
HomeFree®, LLC achieves SQF Level 2 certification
Manufacturer of allergy friendly, gluten free baked goods awarded
internationally recognized Safe Quality Food Level 2 certification
WINDHAM, NH, January 23, 2015 – Safe Quality Food (SQF) is recognized by retailers and foodservice providers globally who require a rigorous, credible food safety management system. The SQF program is recognized by the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) and links primary production certification to food manufacturing and distribution. HomeFree®, LLC has achieved SQF certification by demonstrating exceptional food safety and quality control practices. As of January 21, 2015, HomeFree, LLC has been awarded this internationally recognized certification by ASI Food Safety.
SQF certification requires a third party assessment to verify adherence to the meticulous requirements of the SQF Code. Evaluation is conducted on all aspects of a company’s food safety and quality management program, including HACCP Plans, Personal Practices Quality Control, Cleaning and Sanitation, and Allergen Management. SQF certification validates the programs that HomeFree has in place, as well as the continuous monitoring procedures of those programs.
Many major retailers and foodservice companies prefer suppliers that have SQF certification to assure their customers that the food they offer is safe. This includes US retailers such as Publix, Target, Raley’s, and Safeway, Canadian retailers such as Sobey’s, foodservice management companies such as Compass, and foodservice distributors such as US Food Service. Such certification validation is increasingly important in the marketplace, with consumers increasingly demanding food safety assurances.
“HomeFree already was recognized as a pioneer and a leader in baked goods allergen safety. To my knowledge, HomeFree is now also the first allergy friendly baked goods company to achieve SQF certification. The SQF certification validates our allergy program, while additionally validating the outstanding quality of our food safety program more widely,” said Jill Robbins, HomeFree Founder and CEO. “Our employees have reason to be very proud!”
HomeFree cookies have received numerous awards and accolades for their great taste, and for their inclusiveness of consumers with most special diets, including peanut/nut free, gluten free, vegan, kosher pareve, whole grain and non-GMO. HomeFree, LLC, is a certified woman owned business providing baked treats for retail and foodservice. HomeFree is a certified B Corporation for its strong commitment to social and environmental responsibility. Visit homefreetreats.com, or contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
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I started this company so that people with food allergies safely and comfortably could join in with everyone else. The standard of “Treats You Can Trust” therefore has penetrated every aspect of our decision making. This includes careful ingredient sourcing, allergen testing, and doing all of our production in our own dedicated facility free of peanuts, tree nuts, eggs and dairy. It certainly would have been easier and less expensive to use co-packing (the very common practice of hiring a manufacturing facility to make a company’s products along with a wide variety of other companies’ products), but as the mom of a child with food allergies, this endeavor was to me worth doing only if I could do it at the standard I would want for my own child. My son’s allergist had shown me research finding 6.5% clinically significant cross-contamination in shared facilities with peanuts, meaning that 6.5% of other products in the facility contained enough traces of peanuts to potentially cause an allergic reaction. So when he told me not to feed my son anything made in a shared facility with nuts or peanuts, I listened. Hard to find any treats I still could feed my son, I eventually built my own facility and baking company.
What began as an effort toward inclusiveness for children with food allergies became about trying to include everyone, regardless the age or special dietary need. Whether a child in a classroom, a teen at a party, or an adult on a coffee break at work, everyone wants to be included at snack time, where the food enjoyment typically is part of the social connectedness. HomeFree cookies therefore, in addition to being free of the 8 most common food allergens (except soy lecithin in some), also are vegetarian/vegan, kosher pareve, low sodium, non-GMO verified, and whole grain, and some are low glycemic.
You guessed it – that’s where gluten free comes into all of this. Despite common misconceptions, gluten is not actually an allergen. (For more information on differences between celiac disease, gluten intolerance, and wheat allergy, see: http://americanceliac.org/celiac-disease/.) Therefore, offering gluten free products was not part of the original plan. Unlike with food allergies, a trace of gluten doesn’t pose a risk for potentially life threatening anaphylaxis. Yet for those with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity, gluten cross-contamination certainly is important to avoid. A couple of years ago, in order to get closer to including everyone, we chose to offer some gluten free products by using tremendous care in our facility, and with the validation of certification by the Gluten Free Certification Organization (GFCO). We have conducted regular tests for gluten traces and never had a positive test. Yet as HomeFree ‘Treats You Can Trust,” a leader in the industry for allergen safety, I have wanted a dedicated gluten free facility in order to have the highest standards with regard to gluten as well. I finally made the difficult decision to let go of or convert a few of our core organic products in order to make our current facility gluten free. I apologize to those of you whose families long have loved and depended upon these treats. I hope you will love equally what we continue to offer and develop. I also hope that you will value with us being able to serve HomeFree cookies to pretty much everyone! No matter with whom you share your holidays this season, essentially everyone will be able to enjoy the same treats together.
So, you want to know what is actually changing, right? Just our products made with barley or with (non-gluten free) organic oats. We are fully discontinuing only two items: our award-winning coffee cakes and our large chocolate chocolate chip cookies. We did, though, stock up a bit on the boxed cookies, so you still can order those briefly while supplies last. Also, our large chocolate chip cookies (70% organic) are remaining but becoming all natural gluten free. Yes, we still have stock on those originals, and the new ones are also Non-GMO Verified and have almost the same taste and texture as before! They also now are free of the most common 8 allergens (no soy lecithin anymore) and they are certified vegan. Why not still organic? It has been difficult to find a sufficiently stable, affordable supply of organic gluten free oats for wide store distribution. But organic continues to be important to us, so for those of you willing to pay a bit more, we soon will make available in single serve some chocolate chip cookies that are both organic and gluten free. We welcome your feedback on the changes, on hopes for future products, and on anything!
We wish you happy holidays, with plenty of tasty treats for all!
Cookie Bouquet Supplies
– Box of HomeFree Cookies (minis or soft bake, I’ll tell you about both)
– HomeFree Natural Chocolate Chips
– Powdered Sugar
– Sticks (at least 8” long)
– Aluminum foil
– Paintbrushes (1-4, assorted sizes)
– Styrofoam (make sure it fits in your holder)
– Sharpie Markers
– Tissue Paper
– Holder can be a Mug or Flower Pot (I got mine at the dollar store and will decorate it with sharpies) **Make sure it can withstand being heated to 150 degrees F
– Any other fluff or ribbons to decorate with
Actual Step by Step
- Lay out all of your supplies
2. Melt the chocolate adhesive… Not sure how? Visit this site for some direction http://recipes.howstuffworks.com/tools-and-techniques/questions-about-cooking-with-chocolate2.htm
5. You will have time to lay the stick into the chocolate so don’t rush. I used a small unused paint brush to drizzle the chocolate onto the back of the cookie. For the big cookies I used two lollipop sticks for extra support. I got these sticks at JoAnn Fabric, but popsicle sticks work just as well!
7. Repeat this process for all of the big cookies and then set aside or in the refrigerator so the chocolate hardens.
8. Next you will repeat the process with the mini-cookies. These cookies are crunchy so they are plenty sturdy and will only require the support of one stick.
9. After you have done all of the mini cookies and placed them in the fridge your new focus is the mugs.
10. Preheat your oven to 150 degrees F. Now…Have fun! Decorate the mug with a sharpie marker and doodle, write, be silly!
11.After you have created the next Mona Lisa, place the mugs in the oven for 30 minutes. Baking the mugs makes the writing permanent.
12. Turn your attention back to the cookies. By this point the adhesive chocolate should be hardened. If not, do not panic, just wait a little longer.
13.While you are waiting take the powdered sugar and repeat a similar process that you had done when melting the chocolate. I just added a bit of water and then stirred in the sugar until I got the consistency I wanted. This will be used for decorating so you want to be able to see the white.
14. Now go check on your cookies, if they are hardened feel free to take them out and paint all over them with the chocolate spread or powdered sugar.
15. Return them to the fridge and allow them to harden again.
16. Check on the mugs. If the time is up take them out and allow them to cool before you handle them.
17. At this time you can wrap your Styrofoam in tissue paper to make it look cute.
18. When the mugs are cool, place the Styrofoam in the mug and begin to press the cookies on sticks into the foam.
19. You can take the cookies out and decorate them further like I did here, or keep them plain. Either way!
20. Arrange them however you like and then finish by decorating with ribbon, tool or whatever else you like!
21. Voila! You have a cute homemade treat that everyone can have!
Need recipes for the chocolate chips and melted vanilla icings? Refer to Allergen Free Baking cook book by Jill Robbins. It is readily available of the HomeFree store site!
As described in the Whole Grain Council’s blog, the USDA Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) recently released a memo of new requirements for increased whole grains in schools. Generally speaking, the guidelines now require that at least half of all grains served are whole grain, that these can be calculated in increments of one quarter of a grain, and that a serving of whole grain is sixteen grams. Two servings per week can be
I think of these requirements as the doorway not only to improved nutrition for our children, though they certainly are that, but also as the doorway to a terrific opportunity to make our school lunch programs more inclusive. That is, as food service directors need to re-source basics like pizza, noodles, bread, and cookies, this is an opportunity for them to do so with thoughtfulness also about the other dietary needs of their students. They thereby can address successfully two important issues at once.
It is no coincidence that I am writing these words during allergy awareness week and celiac awareness month. In addition to the approximately 1 in 20 Americans now avoiding gluten, 1 in 13 American children, including my son, now have food allergies. Continue Reading »