Life is a marathon…

Me, holding my niece Baileigh Kendyl, and with my nephew Chace Tanner

Me, holding my niece Baileigh Kendyl, and with my nephew Chace Tanner

It’s Sunday morning, August 31, 2014.

I should be out on the course, probably around Mile 16-ish of the Tupelo Marathon in Tupelo, Mississippi.

I should be logging a finish this morning…in just slightly over an hour from the typing of these words…of my 7th marathon this year.

I should be tired, slogging through heat and rain (it is SO raining there), my mind focused on that finish line.

I should be putting all my hard training over the past few weeks to work to accomplish a goal that I signed up for and got myself in shape for, right?

*crickets chirp*

Well…I’m not.

I’m not doing any of those things.

Instead, I am sitting in my room at my parents home in Birmingham, Alabama.  I have an exercise mat spread out on the floor and a cold bottle of water at my side.  I just completed a set of some of the things that have been my day-in-and-day-out for the past month and a half.  Push-ups, crunches, squats, and some ab toning exercises.

My feet are currently “booted” (it’s the best description) in KT Tape that is being used to stabilize my ankles and my feet in general.  I sort of look like I have racing strips up my calf muscles.  It’s not a good look.  It definitely doesn’t go well with dress clothes.  But it will surely be the look of next spring.  Just…take my word on this, okay?  HA!

Why?

No one and no test can tell me.  Honestly.  I have become yet another marvel to my podiatrist and the radiologist.  But I am, as usual, getting ahead of myself.  Let me rewind to a month and a half ago.  It was a warm Tuesday morning, around 3:30 a.m.  My NYC training plan called for 6×800 meters with a 45 second break in between each one.  I have no track nearby so I was going to just have to do circles in my parking lot and just really watch the distance on my Garmin.  I hated that…but you do what you have to with the circumstances you are given.  In my case – no track…dark parking lot…3:30 a.m. darkness…and a whole lot of hate for speed work.  Let’s face it…these short legs are made for distance and endurance…not so much speed!  But…I set to it, doing my 1 mile warm up and then hitting those intervals the best I could manage and being diligent about that 45 second recovery.  I stopped for water on a couple, because hydration is important to me.  Anyway…I finished those up and went on my cool down mileage to round it off to the planned 7 miles on my plan.

And that’s where it all went to hell.

I was finishing up the last mile, not even a quarter of a mile through it when my foot started to hurt.  It hurt so bad that I could hardly run a few steps without just pain.  My immediate reaction was to stop running.  So…I did.  I think I differ from a lot of my running compatriots in that when something hurts…I don’t “push through the pain” nor “push myself to the point of puking.”  I stop.  I can’t fathom pushing through something and damaging my body further or worse.  My brain can’t wrap around that mentality.  I hobbled home, feeling defeated and more than a little worried about my foot.  That morning, I called my podiatrist’s office and tried to get in for an appointment.  The earliest one they had was 2 weeks away.  I explained my problem and they said that if they had something open up sooner, they’d call me.  I sighed…and said okay.  That afternoon, they called and said they had a 9:00 a.m. opening on the following morning…Wednesday.  I took it.

Long story made as short as I can manage…

The initial X-Rays showed what he called my foot “thinking” about fracturing.  So it wasn’t quite a stress fracture…but the foot was right on the cusp.  I was ordered into 2 weeks of no running, no spinning, no fierce walking…just upper body weights and swimming.  I was going to get fitted for some new orthodics as well…ones that were more flexible so I would be okay running in them.  My feet had changed.  My orthodics no longer fit my feet right.  It was causing problems.  Big problems, apparently.  I took my 2 week running/gym/spinning hiatus with much misery and complaining.  I bought some hand weights and a kettlebell.  I went to the gym every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday morning at 5 a.m. to swim laps in the pool.  I’m not a strong nor a fast swimmer so my goal began to be to at least get in 1800 yards…or 1 mile…which would take me between 50-55 minutes.  Told you…I’m slow.  After my required time off, I went back in and had my feet molded for the new orthodics and X-rayed again.  The foot looked much better and I was given the okay to start running again…only 2-4 miles. If it hurt…I was to back off.  I could start that the very next day.  It was a Thursday.  That morning, I got out of bed and donned my running and reflective gear.  The foot was still sore, but I chocked that up to being because of being poked and prodded by the podiatrist the previous afternoon.  I put on my Adidas Boosts…I took in some water…and I turned on my Garmin, heading down my apartment stairs to get in 2 miles.  I’d start small and build.  I went about 3 steps before I started to feel pain.  I thought maybe I was stiff and managed to get to the very end of my parking lot before pausing my Garmin and turning around.  Maybe I should put my orthodics in.  Second verse…same as the first.  Maybe if I wore my Newtons instead.  Third time wasn’t the charm.  I managed 1/4 mile of excruciating pain.  Feeling defeated and deflated…I hobbled back inside, cried, and put on shoes to head to the gym and hit the weight machines.  I tried the next few mornings…and couldn’t get more than 10 steps.  After a week of this and no improvement, I called my podiatrist back.  They had me come in on that Thursday in the morning.  Another round of X-Rays were taken…and again showed nothing.  So, my podiatrist taped up my feet again and scheduled me for an MRI.  They were hoping for that very same day…but it wasn’t happening until Monday.  Another weekend of nothing but swimming and weights.  I was not happy.

MRI day came and went and that following Thursday, I was back in my podiatrist’s office to get the results.  The MRI showed nothing…nothing at all.  No fractures.  Nothing wrong with the bones.  When my podiatrist got the results on Tuesday, he phoned the radiologist and they went slide-by-slide through my MRI because, as he said to the radiologist…”I have an elite runner who wants to get back to running yesterday and she can’t because her foot is hurting.  We need to find out why.”  And so…after 25 minutes working together, they decided it had to do with the fluid in my foot and the inflammation it was causing.  Joy.  I was delegated to more rest.  Another week of no running and this new tape job.  I was prescribed Celebrex, which my insurance refused, so 2 days later, that mess got resolved and I was put on Mobic for the inflammation.  I was told I could walk, I could bike, I could (finally) get back on the eliptical, I could swim, I could do more upper body weights…just no running for a week.  I went back to spin class that Friday.  It was tough.  I feel out of shape.  I feel that time off did mess with my fitness despite doing my best to stay active with slower than a snail swimming and weights.  I could tell I hadn’t been sweating it out or doing cardio.  I was happy to be there.  I was happy to be sweating again.

Tupelo Marathon was this coming weekend.  On Friday…I ran 1 mile.  Slowly.  With minimal pain.  It was there…it just wasn’t the stabby ow ow ow I am going to die pain I had been feeling.  It was slow…and steady…and just a mile.

I had already resigned myself to the fact that I was going to DNS my second marathon this year (the first one being Mercedes back in February due to a severely sprained ankle).  There was no way that Tupelo could happen.  I was a month and a half without running.  No.  I wasn’t going to go from 0 miles to 26.2 miles when a mile was still not perfect.

But I also believe things happen for a reason…

On Wednesday, August 27, 2014, at 1:37 p.m., my sister welcomed into the world a beautiful baby girl, Baileigh Kendyl, weighing 8 pounds 2 ounces.  She was beautiful and perfect.  And now that I didn’t have a commitment to be in Tupelo to run a marathon…I could slip down to Birmingham, Alabama and see my niece.  For the first time, hold one of the new babies in my family (this makes my sister’s 3rd child, my brother has 4)…when they were brand new.  The best part was…only my parents knew I was coming down.  I wanted to surprise my sister.  I left Friday after work, the same day she and Baileigh were released from the hospital to go home.  I got to my parents house late…due to Labor Day traffic…around 11 p.m.

The following day, after lunch, I was walking into my sister’s house…no one having a clue I was there…and getting to meet my beautiful and perfect new niece.  It topped packet pickup and trying to find somewhere to get a gluten-free pizza in Tupelo, Mississippi…any day.  I was smitten and in love with the newest addition to the family for sure.  And every chance I had to hold her…I totally did.

I paused there, without you knowing it (which, now you do…because I told on myself) to go out for another slow run.  I managed 2 miles here in my parents neighborhood, but I’m feeling it.  I definitely feel like I’ve lost a good amount of fitness with the 1.5 month hiatus I’ve been on.  My foot still twinges…though not debilitating when it does so.  And I fight for each step more than I normally would have to.  If I feel pain…yes…I stop.  I couldn’t fathom risking further or worse injury to myself and pressing on.  Do I hate that a majority of my friends are running half marathons, marathons, or some semblance of miles this weekend…and I can barely squeak in 2 miles?  Yep.  I don’t hate them for it…I hate my body for breaking on me.  I hate that I can’t be joining them on these hard-earned and fought for miles.

But…my 26.2 miles was not meant to be.  I was needed in Birmingham.  I was supposed to be here…with my family…as we welcome Baileigh Kendyl to our humble, fun, and quirky lives.  I was meant to be loved on and spend a lot of time with my nephew, Chace, who usually shies away from me…because I’m hardly here.  He was all about me yesterday and I ate up every moment he spent clinging to me.  I love him so much.  I loved seeing Landon…ride his bike, play games, and watch the Auburn game.  I loved talking with him…and getting hugs and love.  Yes…this was way better than any race…even if the medal at the end was pretty stellar.

What this brings me to is this…

LIFE IS A MARATHON.

It’s not meant to be a sprint.  So…slow down.  It’s okay to set high standards and goals, but understand these don’t have to be accomplished right away.  Give it and yourself time.  You’re in it for the long run.  Things shouldn’t and won’t happen right away.  There will be obstacles and setbacks…but they will only make you stronger.  Strive for greatness, but be prepared to fall and to fail.  Just don’t give up.  Aim for the stars…you will eventually get there.  Pace yourself.  Don’t overtrain.  Don’t overdo it.  Be bold.  Be daring.  But be kind to yourself.  Don’t miss out on special moments and amazing events because of a training schedule or a diet or a race.  You can hit a reset the next day…or the day after that.  Keep your eye on the prize, but also your mind and heart on the important things in life.  Know that change doesn’t happen overnight.  And, yes…life is hard.  It’s meant to be hard.  We wouldn’t grow or overcome anything if it were easy.  So…take it one step at a time.  You come into this life a perfect baby…but you leave it with imperfections.  It’s okay to have flaws and to fall short…never give up…never stop trying…but try within reason and don’t miss out on life’s most precious moments.  Slow down.  Take it in.  Breathe.  Stretch.  And love.  Love life and everything you do in life.  Don’t obsess and don’t try to control the outcomes of things you have no control over.  If it’s meant to be, it will be.  If not…you will always have other opportunities.  The finish line, regardless of how quickly you get there, is always right ahead.  You aren’t finished yet…because in the marathon of life…you have a lot more than 26.2 miles.  But each step…each breath…each time you push yourself just a little more…you get a little stronger…and a little better.  And when you do reach that finish line, you’ll know it was all worth it in the end.  Even if it took longer than you thought.

Welcome to my world, Baileigh Kendyl Morrow.  I can’t wait to take your hand and guide you through some of it with me.

Recipe: Gluten Free Avocado Bruschetta with Green Sauce

Ah, Martha Stewart.  I have to hand it to you!  You always come through for me in a pinch.  Always.

You see, I’m running short on time and have quite a few things left from my CSA bin delivery.  Yes.  I know.  I don’t even eat out that often anymore.  Once a week…generally on the weekend…and it’s usually always at Annie May’s Sweet Café on Saturday morning.

But…with my bin ingredients needing some attention, I noted this morning that my avocado was now ripe.  Not just ripe…but at that perfect creamy ripeness.  So…I scrapped my original plan to make Maple Roasted Brussels Sprouts and instead thought about what I could do with the ingredients I have in my fridge and pantry…that I could use avocado with.

I puzzled it out for much of the day…until I found this recipe.  It’s one of Martha Stewart’s.  And yes…it is sheer perfection.  The only thing I did differently was I used kale in my sauce instead of parsley…because I have plenty of kale to use!  HA!  Oh, and I used slices of gluten-free sandwich bread instead of the crispy French bread that you would normally use to make bruschetta.

Trust me…you’ll eat this up as fast as Cathy and I did tonight!

Recipe: Gluten Free Avocado Bruschetta with Green Sauce

Gluten Free Avocado Bruschetta with Green Sauce

Gluten Free Avocado Bruschetta with Green Sauce

Servings: 4
Time: Prep 10 minutes; Bake 10 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 2 ripe Hass avocados, pitted and peeled
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 8 slices gluten-free sandwich bread, toasted
  • 1 small clove garlic, peeled
  • 6 leaves of kale, trimmed
  • 3/4 cup packed basil leaves
  • 5 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons red-wine vinegar
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper

 

Directions:

Place the garlic in a food processor, and pulse.

Add the kale, basil, 5 tablespoons olive oil, vinegar, and salt and pepper to taste; puree.

Set the sauce aside.

Cut the avocados into 1/2-inch chunks.  Toss with the lemon juice and remaining 2 teaspoons olive oil.

Spread a scant tablespoon of the green sauce on each slice of bread.

Arrange the avocado chunks on the bread, sprinkle with a pinch of ground pepper.

Serve immediately.

~*~*~

This dinner was so simple and yet…so fantastic all at once.  It really wasn’t hard to make at all.  When toasting the bread is what takes up most of your time, you’re doing it right.  Seriously…this was a flavor haven of sheer recipe awesomeness.  The avocado was smooth, creamy, and soft.  The sauce had this great flavor to it…without being overly oily.  Think of it as a sort of kale and basil pesto.  What that ended up doing was really bringing this amazing earthy and light flavor to the dish itself.

One bite…and you’ll be hooked.  I added a sprinkle of red chili flakes to mine…because a little hit of heat is an amazing thing.  I sort of want to make it all over again.  YUM!

 

Recipe: Gluten Free Pumpkin Bread Pudding

It’s no secret…to anyone…that I love pumpkin.  And as we head out of summer and into fall, we have reached the “pumpkin flavored everything” time of year.  YAY!  But, I have to say, I never let pumpkin season go away in my house.  Not at all.  In fact, I stock up on pumpkin because I will use it in so many things.  As it was, I got a little overzealous this past year with my purchasing of Libby’s Pure Pumpkin…so, my pantry has cans of it.  I figured it was time to come up with ways to use it up.  Last weekend, I made my Gluten-Free Pumpkin Waffles.  This morning…yes…during the work week…I baked up a Gluten Free Pumpkin Bread Pudding.  I love bread puddings…and this one was no exception.  Even better…it is so easy to make.

I spotted the original recipe when Schär Gluten Free posted a link to a blog that had utilized their Gluten Free Classic White Rolls in a bread pudding.  Made with pumpkin.

They had my full and undivided attention.

So…this morning…I decided to bake up the recipe that Mama Me Gluten Free originally posted and Schär linked to on their social media site.  I made a few changes in the preparation for convenience sake…but in the end…it was just as amazing as the recipe promised.

Gluten Free Pumpkin Bread Pudding

Gluten Free Pumpkin Bread Pudding

Gluten Free Pumpkin Bread Pudding


Servings: 8
Time: Prep 10 minutes; Bake 50 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 15 ounces pureed pumpkin (fresh or canned)
  • 1 1/2 cups milk (I used unsweetened almond milk)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup organic pure cane sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • Few small dashes of ground ginger
  • Few small dashes of ground cloves
  • Couple of small dashes of ground nutmeg
  • Package of Schar Classic White Rolls (or any gluten-free bread that is similar in consistency), cubed into 1 to 1-1/2- inch pieces (I let mine sit out overnight to dry out)
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • Cinnamon and sugar to sprinkle on top (optional…but delicious)

 

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Grease a 2-quart baking dish.

Place bread in a large bowl and set aside.

In another bowl, mix together pumpkin, milk, eggs, sugars, salt, vanilla paste or extract, cinnamon, ginger, cloves and nutmeg.

Pour over bread and gently stir until all is covered.  Let this sit for about 15 minutes.

Pour the mixture into the baking dish and spread it out with the back of a spoon or a spatula so that it is evenly spread throughout the dish.

Sprinkle pecans over the top, and shake cinnamon and sugar lightly over it all if desired.

Bake for 45-50 minutes.

ENJOY!

~*~*~

A slice of Gluten Free Pumpkin Bread Pudding with Maple Syrup

A slice of Gluten Free Pumpkin Bread Pudding with Maple Syrup

Oh…oh yes!!  This bread pudding is one of the best (and easiest) I have made to date.  I served up a wedge of the Pumpkin Bread Pudding with a delicious drizzle of warm maple syrup.  If heaven was on a breakfast plate…that would be it.  The flavors are amazing.  There is the right hint of spice and sweetness to really elevate the savory aspect of the pumpkin.  It’s rich.  It’s decadent.  And the pecans sprinkled with the cinnamon and sugar on top truly lend a great hit of sweetness as well as texture.  I am totally going to make this again!  But lucky for me, I still have 3 more days worth for eating it.

If you are a pumpkin freak like me…believe me…you’ll want to bake this one up!

Product Review: Schär Gluten Free Multigrain Bread

Schär Gluten Free Multigrain Bread

Schär Gluten Free Multigrain Bread

Product: Schär Gluten Free Multigrain Bread – $4.99+

For all those different gluten-free bread needs, I often turn Schär.  Not only has Schär put out a variety of bread products on the market, they make sure that the products that they do put out are up to their high standards.  This is why when I need sandwich rolls or ciabatta or even baguettes…I head to the gluten-free bread section and pull one of these products off the shelf.  Yes.  Not frozen.  I get so tired of having to thaw out my bread…but without preservatives and the like, gluten-free products don’t keep for long if they aren’t refrigerated.

Schär specializes in the development and production of foods for people with special dietary needs, with a goal of becoming a leader in that field.  They have very much established themselves as a leader in the gluten-free foods out on the market.  They are certainly one brand that I never hesitate to purchase, even if I’ve never tried the product.  And since Schär guarantees the highest safety standards in the manufacturing of their products, you can rest assured that you won’t have any contamination from their products.  They aim to produce quality and delicious products that ensure the consumer a balanced nutrition and quality of life through their restrictive diet.

In the past, I have often used Schär Gluten Free Baguettes, Ciabatta Rolls, Sandwich Rolls, Cinnamon Raisin Bagels, Table Crackers, and even some of their sweets, like their Chocolate Hazelnut Bars.

So, when my roomie and I spotted a loaf of the Schär Gluten Free Multigrain Bread at Wal-Mart on sale, we couldn’t pass up that deal.  So…we purchased it.  And I was already coming up with ideas for sandwiches and the like.  I was excited to try it.  Honestly.  I had my usual brand (Rudi’s Gluten-Free Multigrain Bread) already open, so I didn’t immediately break into my loaf from Schär.  Until last night.

You see, last night the Series 8 premier of Doctor Who was playing at my local movie theater.  I wanted to keep dinner light and easy so we could get out the door and get to the theater in time.  So, I opted to make one of my vegan gluten-free grilled cheese sandwiches.  Yummy.  I try to enhance the sandwich by adding items to it.  No time to get really creative, so I sliced up the rest of a tomato and added it to the sandwiches.  I spread Earth Balance onto the slices of bread, put the cheese and tomato on and placed it in the skillet to toast.

The first thing I noticed about the Schär Gluten Free Multigrain Bread was that the slices are very small.  If you are familiar with Udi’s Gluten-Free Bread…then think about slices about that size.  I’ve grown used to this when I branch away from my standard bread…so…I won’t hold it against Schär.  It toasted up nicely on my skillet and the vegan cheese melted as well as vegan cheese can melt.  Once each side was toasted, I served up one sandwich to my roommate and one for myself.

Gluten-Free and Vegan Grilled Cheese Sandwich using Schär Gluten Free Multigrain Bread

Gluten-Free and Vegan Grilled Cheese Sandwich using Schär Gluten Free Multigrain Bread

She took the first bite and I asked her what she thought of the Schär Gluten Free Multigrain Bread.  She said it was “pretty good.”  I think she did actually like it, but prefers our usual Rudi’s brand when it comes to sandwich bread.  And…I agree.  However, that’s not saying that the Schär Gluten Free Multigrain Bread isn’t good.  It is.  In fact, one aspect of it that I did quite enjoy was the wholesome flavor that came with each bite.  It almost reminded me of wheat bread, back when I could eat it.  I don’t think my sandwich was the best vehicle to test this bread out on, however.

So, tonight…I gave it another test run.  And this time, I used it as a base for a Gluten Free Avocado Bruschetta with a Green Sauce (which I made from kale, fresh basil, olive oil, red wine vinegar, and some salt and pepper).  Oh…oh…this was a game changer.  I toasted the bread, dry, in the oven for about 10 minutes.  It came out a gorgeous golden color…not burned or charred on any of the edges.  Perfect.  I put the Green Sauce on the bread then topped it off with the chopped avocado.  My first bite…and…oh…oh yes!  YES!!  This was brilliant.  This was what that bread was made for.  And it turned out the smaller size was perfect for the amount of topping and chopped avocado that I had.  Each bite had every flavor and the savoriness of the bread just elevated this dish even higher.

It was the more complex dish that truly won me over with the Schär Gluten Free Multigrain Bread.

So, let’s talk ingredients, shall we?  A loaf of Schär Gluten Free Multigrain Bread is made from water, corn starch, rice flour, rice starch, soy flakes, potato starch, buckwheat flour, soy bran, rice syrup, soy protein, palm oil, psyllium seed husk (vegetable fiber), millet flakes, yeast, beet sugar syrup, sugar, hydroxypropyl methylcellulose (emulsifier), apple extract, salt, calcium citrate, citric acid, tartaric acid, folic acid. This loaf of bread is gluten-free, wheat free, lactose free, dairy free and egg free.  It is also cholesterol free.

As far as nutrition goes, a serving of Schär Gluten Free Multigrain Bread is 1 slice of bread.  One slice of bread provides you with 80 calories and 1 gram of fat.  In addition, you will be consuming 125 mg sodium and less than 1 gram of sugar.  Love those stats.  Finally, you will be taking in 1 gram of fiber and 2 grams of protein.  The bread won’t leave you feeling full…but it won’t make you feel like you hardly ate either.

So, while it wasn’t exactly love at first bite with Schär Gluten Free Multigrain Bread, I came around.  It just took a second tasting to really value the texture, flavor, and overall feel of this bread.  Yes, the slices are small, and yes…it can be tough without some toasting or warming…but in the end…a definite quality product I would be proud to purchase again!

Gluten Free Avocado Bruschetta with Green Sauce using Schär Gluten Free Multigrain Bread

Gluten Free Avocado Bruschetta with Green Sauce using Schär Gluten Free Multigrain Bread

Restaurant Review: Papa Roux, Indianapolis, Indiana

Papa Roux, Indianapolis, Indiana

Papa Roux, Indianapolis, Indiana

Restaurant: Papa Roux, Indianapolis, Indiana

When it comes to food, there are certain cuisines that I absolutely love.  Seriously.  From Italian to Indian to Greek and more…there is something about the various tastes, seasonings, and textures of each different type of food that just awakens my palate every time.

One such cuisine that I love to eat, but haven’t had much of it in the past…oh…8 years…is Cajun!

YUM!

I love Cajun food, and not just because it famously is known to be spicy.  I mean, we all know that I like it hot and spicy…but there is something so comforting and simplistic, even when the dish is anything but easy.  As a vegetarian, a lot of Cajun food doesn’t fall into my diet.  As a Celiac…it makes it even harder.  We have a couple of small chain Cajun places around here, but they aren’t making the real deal.  I forgot just what I was missing up until Saturday afternoon, when Cathy and I followed up our Gluten Free Food Allergy Fest with a lunch date with our good friend, Greg.

As you guys know, Greg can be quite particular about the places and foods that he eats.  Well, for years now he has been raving about the food at a local Cajun place called Papa Roux.  And he always pointed out that this particular place had plenty of vegetarian options…as well as gluten-free.  While we are in Indianapolis quite often, we never seem to be there at a decent time to actually go to Papa Roux.  So, we default to a personal favorite – Cheeseburger in Paradise.

But…NOT. THIS. TIME.

I was excited to try out Papa Roux.  With all that Greg had talked it up to be, I was happy that he decided that would be our place to meet and eat that day.  Cathy and I arrived just as Greg had pulled in.  So we had good timing.  Papa Roux may not look like much from the outside, but don’t let the dive atmosphere turn you off or away. Go inside.  And you’re in for a treat.

Upon entering, you are greeted at the counter where you place your order.  I had to look at the options for me, and finally decided that I was going to get the Spicy Tomato Creole ($8.00).  I ordered an unsweetened iced tea with that (that’s free, by the way!) and then let Cathy get her order in.  Cathy opted for the Chicken Po-Boy ($9.00) with a handcrafted lemonade to drink ($2.00).  And Greg went for the Spicy Bean Chili ($8.00) with an unsweetened iced tea as well.  You pay there, put a name on the order, and go find a table.

At the table, you get to choose your sides.  This was exciting.  You can choose as many as you want and as often as you want.  When you dine-in at Papa Roux…the unlimited sides are free and unlimited.  Honestly.  I knew my creole was going to be spicy, so I went with something soothing and refreshing.  Applesauce.  Greg got the Coleslaw and something else, which I don’t recall.  And Cathy opted for the Red Beans and Rice.

Our drinks arrived and we were invited to sign the autograph wall.  Yes…the walls inside Papa Roux are covered in signatures.  It’s a really cool, very nice touch.  So, both Cathy and I added our signatures to the graffiti.  And, after a little bit of a wait (they cook to order!), our food was soon arriving.

The first thing I noticed…Cathy’s Chicken Po-Boy was bigger than her head.  She said she’d be lucky to make a dent in it.  But after she pulled it apart, ate the chicken with the spicy mustard and coleslaw mixed in and not much of the bread, she managed a bit more than expected.  The star was the stuff inside, not the giant, thick bread, for sure!  Greg let me try the chili that he ordered, as he had raved about it for as long as he’s raved about the restaurant itself.  He said it wasn’t as spicy as usual, and I had to agree…because my Spicy Tomato Creole was spicier than his chili.

So…how was the Spicy Tomato Creole?  Spicy!!  And that’s a good thing.  It had this nice, rich flavor…like an amazing marinara, with a kick.  The heat was perfect…for me.  Some might have said it was too much, but I didn’t find it to overwhelm or completely kill my palate.  Nope.  This was amazing.  Before I was a vegetarian, my mom would make a fantastic shrimp creole for Thanksgiving each year…so the creole definitely caught my attention.  I loved the chunks of tomato and onion that were throughout, lending a bit of texture.  And the spice definitely didn’t overwhelm but I wasn’t underwhelmed either.  It said “spicy” in the title, so I wanted spicy.  And it delivered, for sure.  I was impressed.  The stew, itself, came with small servings of rice that were dished on the side…just the right amount.  The applesauce was delicious too…not sure if they make it, but the cool, soothing nature of it was a nice compliment to the spicy creole stew I was devouring.

We were all quite happy with the food, the prices, and the experience overall.  I can see why Greg raves about Papa Roux all the time.  I already want to go back and try more of their gluten-free and vegetarian stews.  Really fell in love with the place.  The atmosphere is great.  The service is good.  And the food…beyond fantastic.  And any reservations I might have had about just how gluten-free the food was going to be was put to rest when the person who took our order at the counter asked if it was a dietary preference or an allergy.  YES!  A place that truly gets it.

Thank you, Greg…for finally getting us to Papa Roux to try the amazing food and take in the place in person…instead of through your mouthwatering stories of what you’ve had there.  Thank you, Papa Roux, for giving me a safe, delicious, and spicy meal that day.  It was just what I needed.

And soon…I’ll be back for more.  I can’t wait.

Papa Roux's Spicy Tomato Creole

Papa Roux’s Spicy Tomato Creole

Gluten-Free Food Allergy Fest – Indianapolis, Indiana – August 23, 2014

GF Jules and me at the Gluten-Free Food Allergy Fest in Indianapolis, Indiana!

GF Jules and me at the Gluten-Free Food Allergy Fest in Indianapolis, Indiana!

This past Saturday, I had the honor of being able to attend the Gluten Free Food Allergy Fest up in Indianapolis, Indiana.  I love going to gluten-free expos and events and Indianapolis seems to always have one at some point during any calendar year.  This year was no exception, and I was thrilled to read about the new location for this year’s event – the Indian State Fairgrounds.  With all the vendors and exhibitors I saw listed, I knew this year’s event was going to be HUGE! I was not let down at all.One of the magazines I currently subscribe to, Gluten Free & More (formerly Living Without), was putting on the Living Without Gluten-Free Food Allergy Fest in various cities this year as a way to show those with food allergies and/or sensitivities that we can live life without deprivation and missing out on delicious food.  It was a coming together of the magazine, as well as over a hundred of their favorite exhibitors to celebrate living well.  And it was open to anyone who wanted to stop in.

Tickets went on sale and, as a subscriber, I received a free entry, and then received a discount code for another ticket…so I had Cathy taken care of as well.  So, on Saturday morning, we ate a light breakfast before climbing into the car and hauling up to Indianapolis.  We timed it perfectly because we burned through our breakfast just as we got up there, about 30 minutes after it officially opened.

And…there was already a line waiting to get in.

Oh…that made me happy, indeed.

It was a hot summer day already and standing outside in the blazing sun didn’t sound like too much fun…but it wasn’t going to be a long wait.  Just about 5 minutes, at the most.  And while standing in line, I got to listen to people who have done expos like this before (like me) describe the events and how things work to the first timers.  I even got to geek out over favorite products and the like for a few moments.  I love making gluten-free friends!

Before we knew it, we were inside the doors, in the air conditioning, and getting the tickets scanned.  We were given blue wristbands to wear (for re-entry purposes and to show we paid!).  Cathy and I put them on and headed into the expo proper.  We were greeted at the door by people passing out reusable shopping bags from Glutino (a personal favorite!).  Perfect for all the samples and products you are bound to pick up and buy.

Trust me, you don’t walk out of these events empty-handed.

Cathy and I decided that we were going to be systematic about our approach to each table/vendor/aisle.  We’d start on one side and then work our way up, then come back down the other side.  This was a good plan in theory, and we decided to start in the middle aisle to avoid the congestion of the end aisles.  We soon found out…no matter what…it was just hopping and congested.  People were surrounding tables, getting free samples, trying products, trying local baked goods, and the like.  So, we ditched our original systematic plan for the…let’s just see what there is and wriggle into open areas when we can.

We’re pros.  HA!

That being said, we began our Gluten-Free Food Allergy Fest at the Glutino/Udi’s/Earth Balance booth, which was giving out samples of Udi’s Gluten-Free Salted Caramel Cashew Cookies as well as Glutino’s Gluten-Free Multigrain English Muffins, schmeared with Earth Balance Creamy Coconut and Peanut Spread.  It was all crazy, crazy delicious.  I actually have the Glutino English Muffins in my freezer, I just haven’t tried them yet. Now…I know buying them wasn’t a mistake at all.  They were delicious.  And that Earth Balance Creamy Coconut and Peanut Spread…out-of-this-world good!

And from there…it only got better.  We made a point to stop by each vendor’s table and talk to them about their products, if we had tried them.  If we hadn’t…we would ask all about them.  I made a point of raving to the Pamela’s Product people about the Figgies & Jammies.  Because they are awesome and worthy of praise.  I talked to the Hodgson Mills representative and when I mentioned being a food blogger he said to reach out to the Hodgson Mills team anytime.  I was told the same thing by various other vendors as well.  And one local vendor who was selling the most amazing bar-b-que sauce and seasoning (which we purchased) said to tag her on Facebook when I use their products so they can read my blog.  I was having a great time.

I think, though, the best moment had to come at the Freedom Foods table.  Because, as many of you are aware, Freedom Foods only makes my favorite gluten-free cereal, Tropic-O’s.  NOM NOM!  I can’t find this cereal here anymore, since my Whole Foods stopped carrying it, so my parents ship it to me from Birmingham, Alabama.  We have a system down.  But, recently, they put out a gluten-free, dairy-free, and not-free version of Nutella…which I fell in love with.  My local Kroger is the only place that had it…and I bought the last jar of it a few weeks ago.  It has never been restocked.  So…I stocked up on some Quinoa Pancake Mix, lots of “Smudge” (that’s the Nutella stuff!), and a few other products to try, all the time raving about how much I love their products and how they honestly care about what ingredients go into all of their stuff.  It didn’t hurt that the guy at the table had a New Zealand/Australian accent.  HELLO!  I actually ended up going back to the table before leaving that day and buying 4 more jars of Smudge.  I hadn’t opened the one I had at home for fear I would never find it again.  Now…it’s on!

I was able to sample some of the best gluten-free Snickerdoodles I have ever eaten.  And this pasta that was made from lentils that tasted exactly like regular pasta…but I couldn’t afford the hefty price tag on it.  Unfortunately.  It was nice to sample it, however.  At the very back of the building, for those over 21, was the gluten-free cider/beer tasting area.  There was so much food and samples…so I was glad we ate light.  And Cathy and I have a system down…where we split a sample so we aren’t filling up on our own.  It always works at these events.

However, I have to say the greatest moment ever was when I finally got to meet GF Jules in person. GF Jules (formerly Jules Gluten Free) was one of the first Celiac/Gluten-Free bloggers/recipe makers/amazing people I started to follow on social media after my diagnosis.  While I have been to events where she has been present, I have never been able to actually meet her.  That changed.  We discovered that we were food allergy soul sisters, both of us being vegetarian Celiacs who also can’t handle dairy.  Go figure.  She was so nice and just so easy to talk with.  I picked up one of her cookbooks, which she signed, and she was kind enough to take a picture with me.  I might have geeked out a little bit.  Or a lot.  You know how it goes…

And soon, after a couple hours of tasting, testing, buying, talking, and exploring, our time at the expo drew to a close.  We were going to meet our friend, Greg, for lunch that day, so we bid adieu to the fantastic event and made our way out to the car.

This event was probably the best one I have attended so far.  Great people, great vendors, great information all around.  And I came home with samples and products to try in the very near future.  Can’t argue with that, right?  Right!

I hope they return next year.  I’m already making plans to attend.  If one of these events happens near you…I definitely encourage you to go!

Product Review: Breads From Anna Gluten Free Banana Bread Mix

Breads From Anna Gluten Free Banana Bread Mix

Breads From Anna Gluten Free Banana Bread Mix

Product: Breads From Anna Gluten Free Banana Bread Mix – $7.49+

I don’t remember where I first heard about Breads From Anna bread mixes…but I discovered it one day at work.  I remember messaging my friend, Jenn, on Twitter because the store locator showed that her local natural foods store, The Raisin Rack, carried these mixes.  She said that the next time she made it over there, she’d check.

Well, it just so happened that the next time she was over there…I happened to be with her.  And my roommate happened to be in a generous mood as far as the food budget, because she handed me a basket and told me to fill it up!

I did.  And, lo and behold, in one of the aisles with a bunch of gluten-free baking mixes…I found Breads From Anna bread mixes.  Lots and lots of them.  The hard part was finally choosing which one to try first.  While I love pumpkin bread…in the end I went with the Gluten Free Banana Bread Mix.

Normally I make my own bread, but I have never, ever had a gluten-free banana bread come out right.  I figured it was time to call in some help in the form of a mix.  When in doubt…try the experts.  How did I know that Anna would be an expert?  I didn’t.  But I had heard things.  Good things.  And as a celiac and type 1 diabetic, she wanted to make bread that tastes like bread (not cardboard), and as a trained chef, she was able to put her skills to the test and created safe, allergen-free products that would have superb flavor, texture, and taste.  When her non-celiac brother first tried her bread…he said it tasted like bread.  That was all she needed.  Breads From Anna grew from there.

Regardless of what I heard and the creator’s promise on the side of the box…with me…it just has to be baked and tested.  Making the batter was easy.  After preheating the oven and greasing one bread loaf pan, I mixed together the eggs, the oil, and the 3 bananas, which I had pureed in the food processor.  In went the bread mix, and once that was well blended, I went ahead and folded in the optional chopped nuts.  Because banana bread plays nicely with nuts.  Into the loaf pan and then into the oven for one hour.

Yes.  One hour.  One hour of sheer torture because after about 20 minutes, you get that amazing banana bread smell wafting out of the kitchen.  I was literally doing my hand weight routine and trying really heard not to drool.  The aroma was beyond enticing.  I peaked into the oven about halfway through and the loaf had risen and puffed up gorgeously and was turning this fantastic golden color.  I wasn’t sure it needed the remaining 30 minutes, but kept it in the oven regardless…hoping for the best this time around.  When the timer went off, I pulled it from the oven and set it on a cooling rack to now cool in the pan for an hour.

Sweet torture!

But…well worth the wait.  After an hour…to the exact moment, I made my way back into the kitchen, grabbed a knife, and you better believe I carved a slice out of it.  My roommate, who is non-celiac and a bread connoisseur, was my ultimate test.  I handed her a slice of the still warm gluten-free banana bread and waited for her to take a bite.  She absolutely loved it.  My turn.

Moist.  Light.  Definitely delivering on the flavor, the texture, and the overall feel of banana bread.  This bread isn’t heavy and dense.  It isn’t overly banana.  It’s moist, but without being wet.  It’s perfection.  Honest to goodness bread goodness.  I wish I could claim I made this from scratch.  This loaf of bread puffed up to this gorgeous loaf with a nice golden outer crust.  Inside, you get this fantastic banana and walnut flavor.  And this loaf does bake up big.  Like…better than any other bread I have made, whether from scratch or from a mix.  Never before has it turned out like this one did.  I’m hooked.  I want to buy all the Breads From Anna Mixes and just get into that kitchen and test them all out.

Totally worth it.

So, down to the science of things.  The Breads From Anna Gluten Free Banana Bread Mix is made from powdered honey, tapioca starch, arrowroot, millet four, potato starch, chia flour, chickpea flour, pinto bean flour, navy bean flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, xanthan gum, and sea salt.  This bread mix is gluten-free, yeast-free, corn-free, dairy-free, soy-free, nut-free and rice-free.  For a bread that is yeast free…it sure did rise up beautifully.  This mix is also kosher parve and non-GMO.

Nutritionally speaking, the Breads From Anna Gluten Free Banana Bread Mix contains 14 servings.  One serving of the mix on its own is 80 calories.  The mix is fat free and cholesterol free.  Just the dry ingredients alone, you will be taking in 270 mg sodium and 9 grams of sugar.  In addition, you will be consuming 2 grams of fiber and 1 gram of protein.

I. AM. IN. LOVE.

With a bread mix.  Thank you, Anna Sobaski…for creating this fantastic mix to make gluten-free baking, which is an art and science all itself, easy for someone like me.  This bread is one of the best I have ever cooked up in my kitchen.  I am happily, happily noshing away on this delicious loaf.  And with all the flavor, texture and taste of “real” banana bread…no one would have a clue that they were eating gluten-free.

Thank you.

Product Review: Little Lad’s Lemon Herbal Popcorn

Little Lad's Lemon Herbal Popcorn

Little Lad’s Lemon Herbal Popcorn

Product: Little Lad’s Lemon Herbal Popcorn – $2.25+

Popcorn.

When done right, popcorn can be one of the healthiest snacks out there.  I gave up microwave popcorn ages ago (for the most part…sometimes…it’s the only option), and have been using the hell out of my air popper.

Truly, it is almost a nightly tradition to enjoy some air popped popcorn, seasoned with herbs and a little drizzle of olive oil (healthy fat that is also a belly flattener).  Usually enjoyed while watching a Gordon Ramsay show or Torchwood or Dr. Who or…American Ninja Warrior!  Something.  I don’t watch much TV…but I usually unwind at the end of a long day with some sort of television show on Netflix or Hulu.

And I grew up feasting on popcorn while watching a movie at home or winding down at night.  And every Sunday…it was my family’s dinner.  Honestly.  Popcorn has always been a favorite food in my family…and I carry that tradition with me today.

I was actually really excited when my July Cuisine Cube arrived and I pulled this bag of popcorn from the box.  For one thing…the words popcorn were enough to entice me.  But toss the word “lemon” in front of it…and you have a really happy girl.  Lemon is one of my favorite seasonings and often do a lemon pepper popcorn at home as one of my seasonings.  This…had it done for me.

The item I received was a bag of LIttle Lad’s Lemon Herbal Popcorn.  Little Lad’s is a small family restaurant in Portland, Maine.  Their mission was to create a place where people could bring their families and friends and enjoy a restaurant quality meal that focuses on bold flavors and high nutrition.  One of the creations that this restaurant created was an herbal popcorn that their customers raved about and couldn’t get enough of.  This was no dull popcorn either.  And the Lemon Herbal Popcorn version is one take on this popular product.

Little Lad’s Herbal Popcorn is made from organic lemon and fresh herbs.  Yes.  Organic and fresh.  Bet you didn’t see that coming.  This variety of popcorn doesn’t use any animal products and is gluten-free.  And, the Lemon Herbal Popcorn is made with whole grains!  According to the package, a portion of the proceeds from the sale of this popcorn goes towards health education in Africa.

Like I said, I usually air pop popcorn at night, but last night, I was feeling lazy.  Master Chef was on and, for once, I didn’t want to drown it out with my air popper.  So, I went to my pantry and pulled out the Little Lad’s Lemon Herbal Popcorn, pouring it into two bowls and giving one to my roommate while I settled in with the other one to watch the show.

Here’s the deal…packaged popcorn is either going to be amazing or fall flat.  I knew the moment I opened the Little Lad’s Lemon Herbal Popcorn bag that it smelled fantastic.  That was a good start.  I popped one of the popped kernels into my mouth…and it was settled.  This popcorn definitely fell into the good side of packaged popcorn.  In fact, what it reminded me of was day-old movie theater popcorn (movie theater popcorn tastes the best a day later, seriously!) with lemon flavoring.  Seriously.  You may not think that sounds appetizing, but, honestly, it does.  The balance of lemon flavor and savory herbs is perfection.  You get this great sweet and sour take on the seasoning, which plays well on the palate.  And the lemon doesn’t take over and completely overpower the product.  There is never too much lemon and too little to counterbalance it.  And that is a difficult balance to find.  One that I’m still working on when I make my lemon pepper popcorn at home.  So, I was quite content snacking on Little Lad’s Lemon Herbal Popcorn last night.  It was refreshing and delicious.

So, how wholesome and nutritious is Little Lad’s Lemon Herbal Popcorn?  You know I was going to get to that.

Little Lad’s Lemon Herbal Popcorn is made from non-GMO popcorn, organic evaporated cane juice, organic lemon, herbs and spices, non-GMO soybean oil, and sea salt.  This popcorn is gluten-free, cholesterol free, and vegan.

As far as nutrition goes…it’s pretty outstanding.  A serving of Little Lad’s Lemon Herbal Popcorn is 30 grams (or half of the 2 ounce package).  This serving will provide you with 120 calories and 7 grams of fat.  A serving will give you 45 mg sodium and 2 grams of sugar.  And, you will be consuming 2 grams of fiber and 3 grams of protein.

Not bad for a snack last night, right?  That’s right.  I’ll never stray from my air popped popcorn, but having this option last night was a delicious, easy treat.  Thank you, again, Cuisine Cube, for your continued success in bringing me products I had never hard of before…would probably never hear of without these deliveries…and that actually taste amazing.  Another winner from my monthly selection.

Little Lad's Lemon Herbal Popcorn

Little Lad’s Lemon Herbal Popcorn

Product Review: Liz Lovely Gluten Free Crunchy Double Chocolate Cookies

Liz Lovely Gluten Free Crunchy Double Chocolate Cookies

Liz Lovely Gluten Free Crunchy Double Chocolate Cookies

Product: Liz Lovely Gluten Free Crunchy Double Chocolate Cookies – $6.50+

Oh…dear!! My cookie noshing habits had been tame as of late.  An occasional splurge here and there…but I was getting it under control.  Because, as a cookie monster, any gluten-free cookie with me is fair game.  I absolutely love cookies.  They are just…the perfect dessert.  So many varieties…crunchy, chewy, crunchy on the outside and chewy on the inside, made with chips, candy, stuffed, topped, iced…so many ways to make a cookie.  You can let your imagination run wild…and let your taste buds and stomach profit from it.

Mmmm…cookies.

So, imagine my face when I pulled the bright, hot pink box of one of my favorite gluten-free cookie producers out of the August Cuisine Cube and read what had just arrived.  Liz Lovely Cookies??!  Hell yes!!  Happy dance!!  But wait…what’s this?  Crunchy cookies?  Liz Lovely is doing CRUNCHY cookies now?

Um…that’s…fantastic.

So, for those of you who are unfamiliar with Liz Lovely, they were one of the first gluten-free cookies that didn’t remind me that I was eating a gluten-free cookie.  Big, chewy…a serving being only half the cookie…I could get them at my local natural food store and would purchase a new flavor each time until I worked my way through them all.  It was hard to stick to that actual serving size…but I behaved.  But…Liz Lovely was known for those chewy, big cookies.  So this…this was new.

Turns out, for years now, Liz had so many consumers and people inquire about small snack cookies…to which she always replied that those sorts of cookies weren’t what they did.  But it seems it all fell into place one night…and out of it came a new product…a new line of gluten-free crunchy cookies from the fantastic Liz Lovely.

These are currently out in four different flavors: chocolate chip, double chocolate, oatmeal raisin, and ginger snap.

The bright pink box declared that the cookies that Cuisine Cube sent into my life were…Liz Lovely Gluten Free Crunchy Double Chocolate Cookies.

Mmmm…chocolate.

Mmmm…cookies!

Okay, so normally it takes me the entire month to work through the Cuisine Cube that I receive, but this cube has been a bit of an anomaly.  For one thing, one product I had to place in the break room at work…the Field Trip Cracked Pepper Turkey Jerky.  This vegetarian can’t and won’t even eat that.  But, the boys at work have been enjoying it.  So, there we go.  And then, last night, I went ahead and plowed through three products.  Yes…three!

And after I used the first two for dinner…it was time for dessert.

And I happily pulled open the box of Liz Lovely Gluten Free Crunchy Double Chocolate Cookies.  They smelled…amazing.  They were these thin little rounds, about the 2 inches in diameter, if I were guessing (and I am).  Small, thin…and yes…crunchy.  Nothing I have ever associated with Liz Lovely.  So…I was beyond intrigued as to how I would like these.  As I have stated before, I am more of a soft cookie lover than a crispy cookie lover…but I do love cookies regardless and don’t hold the softness or crispiness factor against any cookie.

I removed four cookies, passing off two to my roommate and snagging two for me.  Yes…this time you get two full cookies…not just half of one.  YAY!  I settled in for my dessert and took a bite.

WOW!  First of all, I believe that these cookies completely encapsulate the best part of something like a pan of brownies.  These cookies taste just like that crispy edge of the brownies that bakes along the pan.  That is one of my favorite parts of a brownie and these cookies mimic it both in crunch, texture, and flavor.  I might have drooled upon taking my first bite.  These have a nice, rich, chocolate flavor…bold and decadent.  The cookies have a great crunch to them, and they are easy to chew and one of the greatest things I may have ever eaten in cookie form.  Holy Double Chocolate Crunchy Goodness!!  I was so tempted to go and count cookies to see if there might be an odd number so I could sneak another one…but I didn’t.  I behaved.  I kept it to the serving size.  And, for the life of me, I don’t know how I didn’t give in to the temptation.  Seriously…these are amazing cookies.  You can tell how much work, love, and joy goes into the making of these cookies because they reflect that in not just flavor but quality.  And I am totally in love.

Let’s talk about those ingredients and nutritional facts, shall we?

The Liz Lovely Gluten Free Crunchy Double Chocolate Cookies are made from cane sugar, chocolate chips, white rice flour, palm fruit oil, water, potato starch, cocoa powder, tapioca flour, molasses, Ener-G Egg Replacer, vanilla extract, sea salt, baking soda, xanthan gum, and natural tocopherols (vitamin E).  Not too bad for a sweet treat, right?  These cookies are vegan, gluten-free, cholesterol free, kosher, made with non-GMO ingredients and all natural.

As far as how nutritious these are…well…they are cookies so…

A serving of the Liz Lovely Gluten Free Crunch Double Chocolate Cookies is 2 cookies.  These cookies will deliver 130 calories and 6 grams of fat.  These two cookies will also provide 90 mg sodium and 12 grams of fat.  That’s not bad at all for cookies.  Not at all.  And finally, these cookies will provide you with 1 gram of fiber and 1 gram of sugar.  These will definitely not fill you up…which means you can snack on them before dinner.  HA!

Okay…so maybe not.  But, you’re an adult right?  Have dessert first every now and again.  Live it up.  Change it up.  Be a little wild!

I am enamored with these cookies.  I want to make them last forever, but cookies never last long in my home.  I’m a cookie monster for a reason.  And these will be devoured each night until they are gone.  But, now I hope I can find a place to purchase them and/or order them online because…yeah…I’ll be dreaming about these cookies for a long time.  Who says a chewy cookie girl can’t cross over to the crunchy side.

Go ahead…take a bite and see for yourself.

Product Review: Charleston Gourmet Burger Co. Burger Sauce

Charleston Gourmet Burger Co. Burger Sauce

Charleston Gourmet Burger Co. Burger Sauce

Product: Charleston Gourmet Burger Co. Burger Sauce – $9.95

When your Cuisine Cube delivers a box that is 1/2 meat-friendly…you get a little creative.  Honestly.  I was willing to part with the Field Trip Cracked Pepper Turkey Jerky, as there was no way I could possibly eat that being a vegetarian.  But the other two items…the sauce and seasoning meant for burgers…those I could use.  I just had to get a little creative in my kitchen.

And I do love it when a cooking gauntlet is thrown down.  And this box did just that.  For months now, I had a recipe idea just percolating, and the inclusion of the previously blogged on Dinner Tonight Burger Seasoning Mix and the Charleston Gourmet Burger Co. Burger Sauce meant that I was being issued a veggie burger challenge, whether Cuisine Cube knew it or not.  And I guarantee you…they didn’t know it.  Ultimately though…the challenge was accepted.  Using items in my pantry (lentils) and from my CSA bin (VEGGIES!), I set out to make a specific veggie burger that I had been talking about creating for awhile, just never really had a reason to actually do it.  I admit, it was a whole lot of fun getting into that kitchen and getting my creative chef’s hat on.

And that’s how it worked out in the end.  I made this amazing burger with lentils and farm-fresh ingredients, topping it off with some Russian red kale and a green tomato.  But this burger needed that condiment to tie it all together.  And that’s where the Charleston Gourmet Burger Co. Burger Sauce came in.  While the label itself touts this sauce as being perfect to use with any meat (from poultry to beef to elk to pork and so on)…I was really going to put it to the test by pairing it with…a veggie burger of my own making.  I hope the Charleston Gourmet Burger Co. doesn’t hold it against me for not using meat.  But this vegetarian was still willing to give their product a vessel…albeit made from lentils and veggies.  Would it matter?

Let me tell you, this sauce is awesome.  This is literally AWESOMESAUCE!  HA!  The Charleston Gourmet Burger Co. Burger Sauce was a great flavor elevator.  It brought this nice tangy flavor to the burger.  The sauce brought together both sweet and savory, enhancing each bite.  The Charleston Gourmet Burger Co. Burger Sauce honestly lifted every bit of my veggie burger and just added a nice sweet and tangy touch.  While it is advertised as being rich and thick, I found it to be slightly runny, and I promise, I did shake it up.  That being said, it went way beyond delicious.  Now I’m trying to figure out how to get more without the $10 price tag.  Because I’m hooked.

The Charleston Gourmet Burger Co. Burger Sauce is made from what the company describes as a secret blend of Lowcountry herbs and spices that help bring flavor to any meat (or in my case…veggies and lentils).  It is made from water, distilled water, vinegar, molasses, sugar, onions, salt, garlic salt, cloves, tammarind extract, chili pepper extract, tomatoes, onion powder, garlic powder and gluten free xanthan gum.

A serving of the Charleston Gourmet Burger Co. Burger Sauce is 1 tablespoon.  This serving provides you with 15 calories.  It is fat free, cholesterol free, and contains no fiber or protein.  The sauce, however, does provide 200 mg sodium and 2 grams of sugar.

Yet again, Cuisine Cube brings a product I never, ever would have heard about or tried without it surprising me with its inclusion in the box.  Very happy with this month’s offerings for sure.  And my roommate is already pondering other ways to use this sauce in the future.  Delicious!

Charleston Gourmet Burger Co. Burger Sauce on my Homemade Gluten-Free Veggie Burger

Charleston Gourmet Burger Co. Burger Sauce on my Homemade Gluten-Free Veggie Burger