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Gluten-Free Mac and Cheese Sauce Mixes, Review and Giveaway!

Back in February, I made a post about how I make gluten-free mac and cheese.  Ya know, the type that kids love with the neon orange coloring?  In that post I tossed out a little teaser:

The good news though…  I have heard on VERY GOOD authority that a cheddar cheese powder (that is sold in individual packets, no less!!), will soon be coming to market.  The cheese powders will also be TESTED to ensure they contain less than 20ppm of gluten (but so far they have actually registered “undetectable” for gluten in preliminary testing!), WOO-HOO!  That is all I can say for now, but I will update you as soon as I can. 🙂

I am excited to say that the time is here, my friends.  Last week, I received a complimentary package of the latest gluten-free product by Riega Foods (the same company that imports Cerealvit gluten-free cereals from Italy).  The Gluten Free, All Natural Cheese Sauce Mixes are this gluten-free mom’s dream come true! 😀

A little information on the cheese sauce mixes from the Riega Foods website:

The new Cheddar Cheese Sauce Mixes from Riega Foods are a delicious and economical way for the busy family to enjoy time together.  Whether you are making gluten free mac & cheese, cheese sauce for vegetables, or sprinkling on popcorn our cheddar cheese sauces can be enjoyed by the whole family.  It is simple, tasty and priced right.  The cheese sauce mixes are Gluten Free and All Natural.

Each pack gives you the freedom to choose the pasta your kids love.  Just measure out 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 c of elbow pasta (or equivalent of other type) and prepare.  When pasta is ready just add one pack of Riega Cheese Sauce with 1/4 c milk, stir, eat and enjoy!

Kids love the taste and busy mom’s love the price at only $1.39 per pack.

Ingredients: Whey, Buttermilk Powder, Cheddar Cheese (Pasteurized Milk, Cheese Culture, Salt, Enzymes), Salt, Guar Gum, Sodium Phosphate, Maltodextrin, Cream, Sodium Caseinate and Lactic Acid.

Ingredients: Whey, Buttermilk Powder, Cheddar Cheese (Pasteurized Milk, Cheese Culture, Salt, Enzymes), Salt, Guar Gum, Sodium Phosphate, Maltodextrin, Cream, Natural Color (Annatto Extract), Sodium Caseinate and Lactic Acid.

Both Cheese Sauce mixes are:

  • Gluten Free
  • GMO & Hormone Free
  • All Natural
  • Vegetarian

First I just want to say that I love the packaging, that little cow is too cute! 😉 We’ve only had the chance to try the Yellow Cheddar flavor thus far, as we have spent the weekend hiking in the mountains.  Sam and Luke loved it and Sam even requested a second helping, which he seldom does because he “wants to save room for dessert.”  My husband even liked it and he would never touch the prior version I made, LOL!  I really enjoyed it too and thought it tasted more like real mac and cheese (the homemade variety with shredded cheese), and there was no chemical aftertaste to it.  I am excited to try the cheese powder in some recipes over the coming weeks, including a new cheese cracker recipe I found that calls for cheese powder.  I also think some cheese popcorn is in our near future. 😀

An added benefit for me is that I no longer have to print up labels with “cooking directions,” to stick on my pre-portioned bags of mac and cheese.  The cooking instructions are printed right on the back of the sauce packets!  I not only save time, but I also save money for the cost of the labels! 😉

Most importantly though, is the fact that the Riega Foods Cheese Sauce Mixes are tested (twice in fact), to be sure the product is truly gluten-free.  If you read my recent post, you may recall that my last blood test came back tTG positive.  I was apparently unknowingly ingesting gluten, so I have since been revising my personal approach to shopping for gluten-free foods.  It makes me feel safer knowing that a product has been tested for the presence of gluten and I will support the companies that test their products, even if it costs slightly more.  In the end, it will cost me less if I can avoid further health complications related to untreated gluten sensitivity.

As for the cost, I priced out what I have paid for bulk cheese powder in the past.  A 1-lb. package of cheddar cheese powder from Frontier Coop costs $23.40 before shipping.  There are approximately 16 (mac and cheese size) servings per pound, so that is approximately $1.46 per serving and Frontier Coop does not test their products for the presence of gluten (due to potential cross-contamination).  It also comes in bulk, so I have to weigh and portion it out into individual bags.  I also have to print up labels which adds more time and added cost (for my homemade “boxed” mac and cheese packages…  convenience does have a cost!). 😉

The Riega Foods Cheese Sauce Mixes are set to retail (before any shipping costs) for $1.39 each.  Riega Foods also tests their products to be sure they are gluten-free.  Plus, their cheese sauce is already portioned out and pre-packaged, with the cooking instructions right on the packet!!

I will add a 3rd comparison just in case you are wondering why I don’t just buy a commercial boxed GF Mac and Cheese that includes the pasta:

Annie’s Homegrown Gluten-Free Mac and Cheese cost $2.69 a box on Amazon.  The only problem is that my kids do not like the pasta, so I end up using my own anyway, which means Annie’s cheese powder essentially costs me $2.69 a packet!  Nothing against Annie’s, we love a lot of their other GF products, just not the pasta. 😀

The Riega Foods GF Cheese Sauce Mixes just started hitting the store shelves last week.  They can currently be found in some Hy-Vee locations and in natural health stores around the Kansas City area.  They should also be appearing on Amazon and a few other online sources in the coming weeks.

You can also download this link and print out a New Store Request Sheet to fill out and take to your favorite store buyer!

**This Giveaway is now closed**

Riega Foods has generously offered to give TWO of my readers a 24-pack of their gluten-free, all-natural cheese sauce mixes, Woo-Hoo! 😀

To enter, please leave a comment about:

How important is testing for the presence of gluten in a product to you and your family?  Would you be willing to pay slightly more for a product that has been tested and confirmed to be below 20ppm of gluten?

Bonus Entry Opportunities:

For 1 Bonus Entry: Tweet about this giveaway and include a link to this post, then leave a comment letting me know you did this.

For 2 Bonus Entries: Mention this giveaway on your Facebook Page and include a link back to this post, then leave a comment letting me know you did this.

I will use a Random Number Generator on Friday, May 21, 2010 to select the TWO winners.

Good Luck! 😀

Incoming search terms:

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  • annie cheese packet (4)
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  • gluten free mac and cheese sauce (4)
  • powdered cheese gluten free (3)
  • annies cheese packets (3)
  • gluten free cheddar cheese powder (3)
  • cheddar cheese powder soy free (2)
  • gluten free cheddar cheese sauce (2)


  1. How important is testing for the presence of gluten in a product to you and your family? It would be super important to me

    Would you be willing to pay slightly more for a product that has been tested and confirmed to be below 20ppm of gluten? Yes!

    I am RTing this and FB posting it

    • Debra Gowlland says

      I believe that it's very important for products to be tested. Some celiacs are so sensitive-I am one of them-we need to know that our food is safe for us to eat. Yes, I would be willing to pay a little more to ensure the gluten free status of products.

  2. Elizabeth says

    I would be willing to pay slightly more for a product that has been tested. I retweeted this on Twitter @Ebee333.

  3. This looks great!! I don't buy Annie's because I can get Trader Joe's cheaper, but I have one child who won't even eat it! She loves white cheddar and refuses to eat the yellow, even though the other two love both. Anyway, buying certified gluten free…it depends on the type of product. Like yogurts, cheese and other naturally gluten free foods, I tend to just double check with the manufacturer that they are for certain gluten free. But with pastas, baked goods, convience foods etc…always certified gf or like Trader Joes, gf ingredients and careful manufacturing procedures to ensure no cross contamination.

    You will see my post on FB soon!

  4. It is super important to keep our home gluten free, so when I find a company that takes being gluten free as serious as I do, with a tasty product, I want to be a part of that! I'm willing to pay a bit more for items that we can feel safe using without repercussions. Thanks for another choice for my children to feel "normal". 🙂

  5. I RT'd it on my Twitter page. @MargRN

  6. With one celiac child in the house and a gluten intolerant adult, we feel that making sure everyone is safe is extremely important. We already buy several products that are tested because of safety/cc issues. So, yes, we will pay slightly more for a product that is tested.

    I will retweet this as well @a2zscrapbooking

    Thanks we look forward to using this cheese with our quinoa pasta. It's the best we've found. The most like good old fashioned pasta. It cooks up soft and wonderful and makes a great mac and cheese pasta.


  7. SUzanne Alesso says

    I was on a Low Iodine Diet last summer to prepare for a cancer treatment, so I know how "Iffy" Ingredient labels are on products. This makes it so hard for people that are sensitive to shop. I think testing (if the costs arent too high) would be great especially since this would push for better food labeling. I am just starting this gluten free diet and am finding it challenging to sort out what is GF and what is not.

  8. Suzanne Alesso says

    I posted to my Facebook!!!!!

  9. Testing for gluten is important to me. I was never able to be tested for celiac, because I had already tested allergic to all the glutens and had already removed them from my diet. Since treatment is the same, avoidance, no further testing was done.

    I am willing to pay more for things I know are tested.

  10. Testing is IMPORTANT! My family is new to gluten free – our 4 year old was just diagnosed – and trying to keep the house gluten free is a challenge. I would pay more to know FOR SURE that the food I am feeding my family is gluten free and safe. There is nothing worse than making food I thought was safe for my kids when actually, I'm making them sick.

    Great blog – I'm glad I found it!


  11. I never gave it a second thought but after learning of your blood test I think that I should get mine checked soon! I haven't even had a follow-up appointment since diagnosis. Companies that test for gluten will be getting more of my business!

  12. Jennifer says

    It is very important to me that companies test for the presence of gluten in a product. I would be willing to pay slightly more for a product that has been tested and confirmed to be below 20 ppm of gluten. Since food labelling is so confusing, and with formulas always changing, to know that a company tests and labels their products clearly is a huge help!

    I never ate the processed, boxed mac and cheese before I was diagnosed because it was nasty. Too many chemicals! Now I make my own from scratch. These little packets would be great for weeknights when I'm in a hurry.

  13. I have a daughter with type I diabetes and celiac disease. We have never found a great mac & cheese product. It sounds fun to use it on popcorn and other food dishes. It sounds very flexible.

    Of course testing is important. And we do all pay more for a life with better health, so of course we would pay more (up to a point) for tested products. I'm always relieved to find a product that I know is safe and we like.

    I like this blog. Thanks for being vigilant and helping us all out.

  14. Dawn Hecke says

    Thank you for such a great giveaway.My daughter was recently diagnosed with celiac disease.

    I linked back via my facebook wall. 🙂!/dhecke?ref=profile

  15. Heidi

    I hadn't heard about this yet. Very thorough review. My teens agree with you about the Annie's. They don't like the GF pasta either. Before we were all diagnosed we loved their regular pastas and sauces. It would be great to have a good, quick sauce mix to use with our favorite pasta. I especially like that this product is tested. As we try to expand our gluten-free menus, there is always that danger of getting gluten in something that seems safe. Knowing the mixes really are GF helps so much.


  16. Since my daughter has celiac disease I would say that testing of products for gluten is of the utmost importance! I would hate for her to have growing problems again or stomach aches because something we thought was gluten-free ended up having gluten in it! I wouldn't mind paying more for an item for peace of mind of knowing that it was TESTED as gluten-free.

  17. Testing for gluten is very important to me since I've got celiac and do react very negatively to the presence of gluten in my food. Every day poses some risk, and on some level you've just got to trust that the foods you choose are as gluten-free as the company says they are. I'd be willing to pay slightly more than normal for the company to integrate testing as a part of their regular procedures, but I honestly feel like it ought to be done anyway–if you're calling your product "gluten free" shouldn't you do everything you can to ensure you're not endangering your clientele? Obviously such testing costs money, but I do have a threshold of cost that I won't pass for foods–after all, most of the foods I have to be extra-careful about are processed foods, and non-essential to my diet and definitely non-essential to my budget.

  18. Yum! Love mac & cheese!

    Testing is important of course – I probably don't check often enough, but yes – would be willing to pay a little extra to be confirmed GF. Although, I feel like we already pay enough extra just to purchase GF foods.

  19. Heidi, what a great product. As a working mom, any GOOD short cut I need, and this is a definite. I want to ensure my daughter is safe, and I feel as if just reading labels is no longer sufficient, considering the amount of "episodes" of cross contamination we have been experiencing. I will pay more for certification.

    Facebook link complete!

  20. Gluten testing is important, but I can't afford to pay more. Gluten-free products are already much higher-priced than other groceries. *Thanks* for the giveaway!

  21. Tweeted the giveaway

  22. Shared the giveaway on Facebook

  23. Jennifer C says

    Testing is important to me, but the budget has to stay balanced too. I expect to pay a little more for tested products, but I truly don't think we should be paying a lot more for safe food.

  24. Testing is important, although I don't think I would be willing to pay more for a product. The testing should be done on all foods that make claims to be free of any product. I think that the FDA should be the ones footing the bill for this type of testing. After all isn't their job to make sure our food is safe to eat?

  25. Barbara M says

    It's somewhat important to me – gluten in products I buy.

    I try to eat healthy.

    I would pay a bit more for gluten free items.

    barbara.montyj at gmail dot com

  26. Barbara M says
  27. Shared this giveaway on Facebook Barbara Montag


  28. Shared this giveaway on Facebook Barbara Montag