Sunday, August 31, 2014

Send Me Gluten Free subscription box - perfect if you can't attend the expo!

"Send Me Gluten Free" is a subscription service brought to you by the same folks who gave us the indispensable "Find me Gluten Free" app and Gluten and Allergen Free Expos, of which I was a guest blogger this past January up for the San Francisco Bay Area event in San Mateo. They asked if I'd be interested in reviewing their first box and of course I responded with a resounding "YES" so they sent me a complimentary box which I was able to receive just hours before I was to depart on vacation to the happiest place on earth. While the box included 2 full size products for me to try later, the rest was a bunch of individual serving sized snacks and treats which were perfect for snacking on while in line for a ride. Here is what the box looked like when I opened it up:
Beneath the teal packing paper (which the Giggler was ready to use for one of her many crafting adventures) was the following:
Here is the full inventory from the "August Box" I received:
  1. Sevierly Good Gluten Free Organic Traditional Bread Mix (full size)
  2. Explore Asian Gluten Free Organic Black Bean Spaghetti (full size)
  3. Surf Sweets Fruity Hearts Candy (sample)
  4. Juice Plus+ Chewables (sample)
  5. Raw Rev 100 - "Spirulina Dream" snack bar (sample) + 50 cent off coupon
  6. TeeChia Sustained Energy  "blueberry date" Cereal (sample)
  7. San J Organic Tamari sauce (sample) + 55 cent off coupon
  8. Better off Red "rooibas with a Vanilla Citrus Blush" tea bag (sample)
  9. Teecino Dandelion Dark Roast Herbal Coffee Bag (sample) + 50 cent off coupon
  10. Red Apple Lipstick (sample) plus coupon code for 30% off our purchase
  11. Free digital copy of the July-August Delight magazine - Great magazine- I already subscribe
  12. Coupon for free item from Dr Praegers sensible foods products
Pretty impressive set of stuff and if you end up liking all the the products the coupons come in handy also.

I have not had a chance to try the bread mix and pasta yet but I will be sure to blog about it when I do.

As for the samples, the Surf Sweets candy were the first to go - I've had these the past 2 years at the Expo and they're delicious fruity chewy candy. But really - I'm not out looking for candy without high fructose corn syrup. Candy is an occasional treat so at least for me and my family, as long as it's gluten free I'm not too worried about its ingredient list. But hand me a free sample of Surf Sweets and I'll happily gobble it up every time!

 I've also been using the San-J gluten free tamari for years so I put that sample away for future travel. Speaking of San J, I prefer to use their reduced sodium sauce which is not yet offered in the big plastic jugs at Whole Foods like the regular sodium variety.  If you can't eat gluten, the San J sauce is essential to anyone who wants to enjoy Chinese or Japanese cuisine at home. San J also makes some good gluten free sauces such as Peanut Sauce and a spicy Szechuan although I still prefer to make my own sauces from scratch using their low sodium gluten free Tamari.

The Juice Plus+ chewables were tasty but  honestly could not figure out their purpose other than candy made of tapioca syrup and some fruit and vegetable juices. Eating gluten free already guarantees my family eats a ton of fresh fruits and vegetables so this fell flat with me -perhaps if I lived someplace where fresh fruit and veggies weren't available.

I did not care for the Raw Rev 100 bar at all. And it had nothing to do with the fact that the bar was green from the spirulina. It reminded me of the energy bars I sometimes make myself by grinding up dates, protein powder, nuts and other fruits up . Very sticky and chewy. I'll stick to my homemade bars where I've found adding some toasted oats helps improve their consistency.

The Teechia cereal would have been perfect to sample in the hotel room but I had already packed the usual Glutenfreeda instant oatmeal packets and those were always the preferred breakfast item but I do look forward to trying the cereal.

I have not heard of the Dr Praeger's products so I'll have to take a look on their web site to see where I can buy some. The fish sticks and Sweet Potato pancakes look the most interesting.

Now... what do I think about the box? All in all I was impressed. It truly is an "Expo in a Box". If you are unable to attend one of the Expos where you can quickly load up on samples and coupons then this is a great alternative. Since I have been to the last 2 expos in SF I was only new to a few of these products so in that respect I was a little disappointed. But I'm assuming over time I would start to see more new products versus seen there, done that- especially if I can't make it to next year's expo. But then again - it would take a lot for me to miss one of the expos- they are truly a fantastic use of my time to quickly get a feel for which products I like, and meet a ton of the people behind them as well as meet more gluten free bloggers.

The only negative I found was related to shipping and may have been just to to my personal situation - it used UPS Ground to get the box to my hometown post office and then it was up to my mail carrier to deliver to my house sometime after that. This presented a problem for me as the expected delivery date was 1 day after we left for Disneyland and I feared the package would sit on the porch or worse, be picked up by someone else. So.. I paid UPS $3.50 to upgrade the shipment to regular UPS Ground so I could receive it a day early and also get true door to door tracking. Had I not recieved the box free from Send Me Gluten Free to begin with I probably would not have paid to upgrade the shipping and I do wish this was just standard UPS Ground but I understand the realities of profit margins so I accept that using this lower level of shipping was probably key to making the subscription prices work out. Oh well.

But will I subscribe...that negative outweighs the positive.  The subscription price starts at $30 a box if you go month to month, and the price reduces down to $20 a box if you commit to a year.

And as a reader of this blog, you can save 20% off of any subscription length by using the promo code BLOG20. I'll be using it for a 1 year subscription as it brings the cost down to $16/month.

What do you think? Will you be giving it a try?