Every once in a while we need a quick meal. When I say quick, I mean like fast food drive through or frozen food in the oven/microwave quick. 🙂 We strive to avoid this kind of thing as much as we can, but what can I say? Life gets crazy sometimes, and having everything homemade and made ahead of time for a food allergy family is not always practical. Recently we found a new brand of frozen foods that offers many products free of all our family’s allergens, and we are so excited!
***DISCLOSURE: None of these products are sponsored in any way. Some of my links may be affiliate links, which means I may receive a super tiny commission if you buy any of these products through a link (at no cost to you). However, please know that I strive to give you honest reviews, and only recommend the products that we buy and use at our house. ***
A Little About Ian’s Natural Foods:
Ian’s Natural Foods states that it is committed to providing allergen-free foods with simple, natural ingredients. The company was founded in 2001 in Massachusetts and originally aimed to make convenience foods that were as natural, nutritious, and organic as possible. The company quickly developed a line of gluten-free foods which became a hit with kids, and now they offer more than 40 products in North America.
Ian’s Products We’ve Found: Here’s What We Think!
- Ian’s Gluten Free Fish Sticks – Fish sticks are the kind of food I remember loving as a child, on the extremely rare occasion when my parents would let us have something frozen and processed like this. As an adult…not so much. Your standard fish sticks are pretty greasy with not very high quality fish inside. I’ll admit I was skeptical when I saw these, but I keep my eye out for quick frozen options for those crazy nights when I work until 9pm and my husband has to run around picking up children, feeding, bathing, and putting them to bed by himself. Or for Friday nights, when we have no energy and don’t care if we eat something out of the freezer. 🙂 These frozen fish sticks are our favorite Ian’s item so far. The ingredient list is simple, without all the chemical-y names going on. The coating on these fish sticks is crunchy with a rougher cornmeal texture. They baked quickly and were not the least bit greasy. The fish was decent, too. Izzy really enjoyed these; she dips them in ketchup; though now that I have found a mayo substitute she likes (keep an eye out for my review of this product!) I think these would be great with some allergen-free tartar sauce. We found these for about $7.50 for the family pack (the larger box) at our local Meijer store, which lasted for about two meals for our two girls. Recommendation: in our freezer rotation. Worth the money for a quick, reasonably healthy entree.
- Ian’s Gluten Free Chicken Nuggets – I was really excited for these; the family pack was priced the same as the fish sticks at $7.50 per box at our big box retailer, Meijer. Chicken nuggets are another one of those classic kids treats, right? And, like fish sticks, I am more willing to pay for a quick frozen dinner when it’s an item I’m less likely to make on my own. Translation: I will never be making my own chicken nuggets at home (sorry to all those cool people out there who actually do this). These nuggets had the same crunchy, non-greasy coating that the fish sticks did. Despite the simple ingredient list, I was disappointed in the texture and flavor of the chicken itself, though. I enjoy nuggets with more hearty pieces of chicken on the inside; these felt more like the cheap, really-ground-up-chicken-meat kind of nugget. I will say that my daughters didn’t seem to care; they ate them and Izzy said she liked them, though there were quite a few leftover from dinner. Recommendation: not a regular purchase item. Would buy these nuggets only with a spectacular coupon or if they were on sale… there are other allergen-free brands we prefer.
- Ian’s Gluten Free French Toast Sticks – So these were kind of a splurge. I don’t normally mess around with frozen breakfast products like pancakes, crepes, waffles, or french toast because these items are so easy to make in big batches at home and freeze yourself, at a much more affordable price. Actually, I think allergy-free breakfast foods are one of the least intimidating allergy-free foods to make. However, I bought these when the family was shopping at our local Fresh Thyme Farmers Market, which specializes in carrying more allergy-free/vegan/organic/etc. items than your average grocery store. We always see new products there and end up trying a few unexpected allergy-free treats simply because we can! Basically, these sticks are strips of gluten-free cinnamon rice bread that crisp up in the oven after only eight minutes of baking. The quick baking time is a definite bonus, and I will say that Izzy (our five year old) gobbled these up! However, I felt they were really sweet, especially after dipping them in syrup; which, of course, is why Izzy savored them so much! The box claimed to have four servings of about three sticks each, so only 12 sticks in the box. I felt it was a stiff price for a few chunks of super sweet bread. Recommendation: skip them. Make some of your own breakfast treats some weekend and freeze extras for later.
Other Ian’s Products Available:
We’ve only tried three Ian’s items so far, but the company is expanding its offerings rapidly, it seems. Though I only gave a strong recommendation for the fish sticks above, I’ve been impressed with the company’s philosophy and simple, quality ingredients. Some of the products are reasonably priced, especially those offered at the larger, bigger-box grocers and retailers. Because Ian’s products are becoming easier to find (in our town, at least), I’m willing to keep purchasing and trying their foods. Their website is extremely helpful, as well; you can search their products by allergens, see all the nutrient and ingredient lists, find retailers near you, and even ask a dietitian questions via their web contact form. They also link to information from FARE and other reputable sources, so I feel more confident that they are indeed working to provide safe convenience foods for us food allergy folk. Here are a few select products our family will likely sample in the future, though the company actually offers a lot more products my girls could eat (these links simply go to the company’s information page on each item):
- Homestyle Stuffing
- Cheesy French Bread Pizza
- Mac & No Cheese
- Breaded Chicken Tenders
- Breaded Chicken Patties
Overall, we do like the philosophy at Ian’s, and I’m impressed that their products are free of so many allergens. The ingredient lists on the company’s products are fairly short and sweet, and you don’t need a food science degree to figure out what you’re eating. For those of us with multiple food allergies who are used to dissecting food labels, this is a huge bonus. 🙂
Have you tried any of the Ian’s Natural Foods products? What do you think?
*** DISCLAIMER: Please note that every person’s sensitivity to their given allergen(s) varies. Some of the items that I review or use may have been produced in a facility that manufactures other products with certain allergens. The items may also contain ingredients which cannot initially be confirmed as allergy free (such as “natural flavoring”). You should always check with the manufacturer to confirm that you or your children can have their product(s). The products that I review or list are items that I have used and have proven to be safe for my two girls (for wheat, soy, milk, egg, peanuts, & tree nuts).***