Product Review: Trader Joe’s Gluten Free Pumpkin Pancake Mix

Trader Joe's Gluten Free Pumpkin Pancake Mix

Trader Joe’s Gluten Free Pumpkin Pancake Mix

Product: Trader Joe’s Gluten Free Pumpkin Pancake Mix – $4.49+

It was October 2014 and I was entering the great land of Trader Joe’s in Louisville, Kentucky.  I had just passed the big center display of bananas when my gaze fell upon an end cap that was holding a bunch of pumpkin goodness.  I love anything pumpkin.  This is no secret.  And a Trader Joe’s mix with pumpkin pancake-y goodness?  HELLO!  Sign me up.

I snagged a box of it and gave the sad Celiac eyes to my roommate.  And…yes…we fit them into the budget.  Sad Celiac eyes work wonders!!  So, checkout was complete.  And fall turned into winter.  And then spring came around.  And while I had been making things for breakfast…pancakes even…I had other mixes and flour blends that had to be used first.  But, as the great kitchen pantry purge continues…Trader Joe’s Gluten Free Pumpkin Pancake Mix was up to bat today!

So, this morning, I decided to haul out the Mickey (Mouse) waffle maker and make some pancake waffles.  Why?  Because waffles are delicious and fun…and these are shaped like Mickey.  They win.  Always.  I mean, pancakes probably would have been less labor intensive but…I was craving waffles for awhile.  In fact, I sort of promised my roommate I’d make waffles after we went to our gluten free bakery Saturday morning for breakfast and she lamented that she wished they still offered their gluten free waffles (and pancakes).  So, a promise is a promise.

Mixing up the Trader Joe’s Gluten Free Pancake Mix is super easy.  Simply get out a bowl and crack an egg inside.  Then, add 2 tablespoons of melted butter (or oil).  I melted down 2 tablespoons of Earth Balance.  Then, whisk them together.  Add in 2/3-cup of water plus 2 additional tablespoons and whisk that up as well.  Then, scoop out a cup of the Trader Joe’s Gluten Free Pumpkin Pancake Mix and add it to the wet ingredients.  Mix until just combined.  It’s okay if it’s a little lumpy.

So easy.  I had all that done by the time my roommate hauled herself out of her room.  Perfect timing.  I ladled the mix into the waffle maker and closed the lid, allowing it to cook to that perfect crusty outside, soft inside consistency.  It usually takes about five minutes to get there.  And while that was working, I warmed up some pure maple syrup to pour over it.  YUMMY!  I lifted the lid of the waffle maker when the steam subsided and lo and behold…the perfect pumpkin-y gluten-free waffle shaped like Mickey Mouse.  YES!  I was already feeling good about this mix.  I slathered it up with some Earth Balance spread and then dowsed it in some maple syrup.  I then got my own waffle working and prepared to do the same thing.  Once again, the perfect waffle emerged, with this golden crust on the outside.  I was elated.  As the third (and final) waffle (now in the freezer) was working, I settled in to enjoy my breakfast.

So…it was awesome.  Let me just say that.  Some flour mixes and pancake mixes don’t get that golden crust on the outside, but Trader Joe’s managed it to perfection with this mix.  It had the perfect amount of pumpkin spice flavor.  Not too much.  And not too little (although my roomie says that she didn’t get much pumpkin).  I disagree with the roomie and think that the amount of pumpkin flavor was spot on.  As I am the pumpkin freak…I know best.  The crust on the outside was crisp and crunchy and the inside of the waffle was light and soft and just…so amazing.  I was in love with each bite.  I may have hoovered it, using the last bite to mop up any extra syrup lingering on the plate.  Really, very impressed.

The Trader Joe’s Gluten Free Pumpkin Pancake Mix was a new product that was introduced last October due to numerous requests from their fans of the original Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Pancake Mix, who had found themselves now eating a gluten-free diet.  The Trader Joe’s peeps went to work for months to get the right texture (no soggy, heavy pancakes allowed) and finally it it spot on, even getting the seasoning right to bring that warm fall-ish feeling to the finished product.  The recipe for the pumpkin pancakes (the one I listed above) was on the side of the box to make sure you succeeded on your pumpkin pancake quest.  They did well.  They did very well.

The Trader Joe’s Gluten Free Pumpkin Pancake Mix is made from white rice flour, potato starch, cane sugar, dehydrated pumpkin flakes, buttermilk powder, tapioca flour, molasses powder, baking powder, sea salt, organic vanilla flavor, expeller pressed canola oil, ground cinnamon, ground allspice, ground ginger, xanthan gum, annatto for color, and ground nutmeg.  This mix is gluten-free and cholesterol free.

A serving of Trader Joe’s Gluten Free Pumpkin Pancake Mix is 1/3 cup dry mix or 2 pancakes prepared.  A serving of the mix will provide 130 calories and 0.5 grams of fat.  It contains 250 mg sodium and 7 grams of sugar.  The dry mix will also give you 29 carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, and 2 grams of protein.  When it is prepared as per the instructions on the side of the box, you will be taking in 210 calories and 8 grams of fat.  You will be taking in 70 mg cholesterol, 270 mg sodium, and 7 sugars.  Prepared, you will have29 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber and 4 grams of protein.

Honestly, it is one of the better gluten-free pancakes mixes out there.  I was above and beyond happy with the way my Mickey waffles came out.  Not only were these full of perfect pumpkin flavor, they were crispy and soft and the texture was right where it needed to be.  Trader Joe’s definitely nailed the gluten-free pumpkin goodness in these.  I hope this mix is back on the shelves this upcoming fall.  Total yum!

Gluten Free Pumpkin Mickey Waffles made with Trader Joe's Gluten Free Pumpkin Pancake Mix

Gluten Free Pumpkin Mickey Waffles made with Trader Joe’s Gluten Free Pumpkin Pancake Mix

Product Review: Russo’s Gluten Free Gourmet Pizza Bites

Russo's Gluten Free Gourmet Pizza Bites

Russo’s Gluten Free Gourmet Pizza Bites

Product: Russo’s Gluten Free Gourmet Pizza Bites – $6.99+

They had me with the product name – Pizza Bites.  PIZZA. BITES.  PIZZA-FREAKIN’-BITES!  As in…pizza rolls?  Maybe? Possibly?  Could I be that fortunate to stumble across (finally) one of the products that I no longer ate, not because it was made of crap (and they are), but because they were my favorite go-to snack when I needed something to eat while very, very busy?

Well…kinda.

In fact, these were more like breaded cheese ravioli, rather than pizza bites, but we’ll go with it. Let’s just run with it.  Pizza Bites! WOOO!

So, I found these at my local natural food store, Rainbow Blossom, and had a freakin’ dance of joy in the freezer section.  Honestly.  I mean, I’ve been to parties where pizza rolls are laid out and everyone is just enjoying a few here and there.  I get to stare at them.  Dammit.

No longer.

Thanks to Russo’s Gluten Free Gourmet…Pizza Bites (rolls…ravioli?) are back on my every-now-and-again want list.  And now…I know where to get them.  After purchasing these, I had to go through more fresh produce before allowing myself an indulgence from the freezer or fridge…but after a full day of professional soccer and time with friends…I needed to have something quick for dinner.  I was going to do up some green beans with almonds, but my roommate was craving pizza.  So…these made their debut in our kitchen.

Russo’s Gluten Free Gourmet came about from Neil Russo, a professional chef who was hard at work on gluten-free recipes, which he was striving to perfect after hearing about the many people connected to himself that were having a hard time finding food while on a gluten-free diet due to intolerance or Celiac disease.  After experimenting on his Italian bread loaves and Tiramisu, Russo was ready to give his food to the world.  He first introduced the gluten free food in his restaurant, where he got high praise.  Soon, he opened up Russo’s Gluten Free Gourmet.  And from there…the frozen versions of some of the classic Italian foods he perfected in gluten-free form.  So good, that people even would ask if he was certain it was gluten free.  All of Russo’s products are prepared in a strictly gluten-free facility.

So, two hungry soccer fans (my roommate and I) were ready to give these a try.  I was surprised, when I opened up the bag to find large ravioli like bites inside.  I was definitely expecting more of the pizza roll just from the name.  They were frozen, lightly breaded stuffed pasta.  But…I was hungry.  Cathy was hungry.  Pizza.  Bites.  Rolls.  Whatever.  Give us something delicious in some sort of pizza form.

Cooking the Russo’s Gluten Free Gourmet Pizza Bites is super easy.  Simply preheat the oven to 350°F and place the frozen bites on a cookie sheet.  Bake for 5 minutes, then flip them and bake for another 5 minutes.  Take out when or if the cheese starts to show.  Mine cooked in 10 minutes without the cheese leaking out or anything.  Bonus.

So, it was chow time.  I dished up half the bag for my roommate and half for me.  That was about 6 of the Russo’s Gluten Free Gourmet Pizza Bites each.  We settled in with an episode of Star Trek: The Original Series and dug in.  One bite…and I couldn’t argue…they were delicious.  I was a bit thrown by the ratio of dough to filling…but that is a small, slight complaint.  I thought there was too much dough encasing a cheese filling…that was a little scant.  The pocket had more air than filling, but it was still crispy on the outside with a melty, molten center, regardless.  And yes…they were really, really great.  Delicious.  Amazing.

Yeah…I’d buy these again.

Let’s talk about the ingredients that are in Russo’s Gluten Free Gourmet Pizza Bites.  These pasta pockets of pizza goodness are made from gluten free flour (rice flour, corn starch, tapioca dextrin, xanthan gum, rice extract) tomatoes, part skim mozzarella, vegetable oil, soybean oil, soybean lecithin, water, whole eggs, yellow corn flour, ricotta, onions, sugar, salt, granulated garlic, onion powder, parsley, basil, and black pepper.

As for nutrition, this isn’t bad for pizza bites.  There are three servings in a bag of the Russo’s Gluten Free Gourmet Pizza Bites.  One serving is 4 pieces.  These 4 pieces will provide you with 260 calories and 15 grams of fat.  You will be taking in 40 mg cholesterol, 430 mg sodium, and 2 grams of sugar.  In addition, a serving dishes up 27 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, and 6 grams of protein.

I was actually impressed by Russo’s Gluten Free Gourmet Pizza Bites.  But, what’s not to love about a company that does 100% gluten free products right, that is family owned and operated, and has exceptional quality.  And…they are doing products no one else has managed to put out there.  And they are doing them well.

If you can find Russo’s Gluten Free Gourmet Pizza Bites in your grocery store or natural food store freezer…buy them and try them.  You’ll love them.  And…pizza rolls are, kinda, back in your life.  And that…is amazing in and of itself.  For real!

Russo's Gluten Free Gourmet Pizza Bites

Russo’s Gluten Free Gourmet Pizza Bites

 

Product Review: Sophie’s Kitchen Breaded Vegan Coconut Shrimp

Sophie's Kitchen Breaded Vegan Coconut Shrimp

Sophie’s Kitchen Breaded Vegan Coconut Shrimp

Product: Sophie’s Kitchen Breaded Vegan Coconut Shrimp – $5.99+

Dear Sophie’s Kitchen:

I love you.  I love everything about you.  I love everything you develop and offer to the vegan and gluten free community.  Your products have gone from wowing me to astounding me.  Sometimes I go into something thinking that it will end up horribly wrong, but then…everything about it just seems right.

That was how I felt about the Sophie’s Kitchen Breaded Vegan Coconut Shrimp.

For the record, back when I used to eat seafood (and other meats)…shrimp was my favorite thing in life.  However, that being said, I never developed a taste for coconut shrimp.  I don’t know why…but that was the case.  It disgusted me.  So, why, then, was I ever tempted to even purchase a vegan version of a seafood I didn’t like?  I have no clue.  No answer.  Nothing except that I get really excited when I see new products from a beloved and trusted company, and that is the case with Sophie’s Kitchen.  I have loved everything from the Fish Filets to the Crab Cakes to the Calamari to the Shrimp and Prawns.  Love.  Just lots of vegan seafood love.  I went into it nervous and a little bit concerned and found out that sometimes, the vegan version from Sophie’s Kitchen is even better than I remember the original and actual seafood version being.

Talk about amazing, right?

So that…my dearest readers…has to be why I picked up a box of the Sophie’s Kitchen Breaded Vegan Coconut Shrimp.  I got new product happy.  I couldn’t help it.  It was in my freezer for awhile…just begging to be made.  And with a little determination to clear out items that I’ve been hoarding in my freezer/pantry/fridge…I made sure that this box of vegan seafood got used this weekend.  Enter…Sunday night.

My roommate was craving shrimp po’boys.  She told me so.  And she reminded me of the box of vegan coconut shrimp in the freezer.  I told her that I was a little bit nervous about those as I never liked coconut shrimp to begin with…but she insisted.  Po’boys.  Besides…one more item out of the freezer.  So, Saturday night, I pulled the shrimp out of the freezer and placed it in the fridge to thaw.  I finished up grocery shopping (and discovered my local store stopped carrying the gluten-free sandwich rolls…so I had to purchase gluten-free hotdog buns…which are SO not the same!) and came home to a fun afternoon of hanging out with my downstairs neighbors, eating gluten-free lemon chiffon birthday cake (I made it…as my roomie requested it for her birthday and that happened while we were in New York City), cleaning up the apartment, getting laundry done, and taking a nice walk in the beautiful weather.  We were both ready for dinner soon after 5 p.m.  And Sophie’s Kitchen makes it a breeze.

While my makeshift sandwich rolls (aka: hotdog buns) toasted in the oven, I prepared a sweet chili aoili to put on top of the sandwich itself.  I sliced up some grape tomatoes and washed a mixture of various super greens (kale, spinach, arugula).  Then, as the hotdog buns were finishing up in the oven, I put a spoonful of coconut oil into a hot pan and gave a quick pan fry to 12 of the Sophie’s Kitchen Breaded Vegan Coconut Shrimp.  I mean, coconut oil just seemed logical to me.  I allowed them to cook on one side for about 3 minutes, then flipped them over to find them a perfect golden brown on the side that had cooked through.  So, I did the same on that side, then removed them to a paper towel and began to assemble the po’boys.  A little Veganaise…the greens, the tomatoes, the vegan shrimp, then the aoili to top it all off.  It all came together so well…even if the bread was a bit of a challenge.

Okay…so I ate a bit of the shrimp on its own first.  Why?  Because I needed to taste it without my drizzle of aoili on it.  Guess what?  My tastebuds lit up.  And I was amazed with how much I loved this flavor.  Honestly…the texture was meaty and perfect…with the crispiness of the breading on the outside and the soft vegan shrimp on the inside.  There was this nice sweet kick in the breading that I absolutely adored.  And sort of wished I was eating these outside of the actual sandwich itself.  Both my roommate and I saved a shrimp to eat alone.  Sophie’s Kitchen definitely did it once more and let me know that I can, in fact, love coconut shrimp.  Either tastes change or, more likely, they just do it better than the real thing.  But, I devoured this faster than any other product I’ve tried from Sophie’s Kitchen.  Big, big love!!

So…what exactly is vegan seafood made from?  Well, the Sophie’s Kitchen Breaded Vegan Coconut Shrimp is made from water, konjac powder, pea protein, potato starch, coconut powder, rice flakes (from brown rice), canola oil, paprikia, fenugreek, organic agave nectar, sea salt, turmeric, white pepper, alginate (from seaweed), and calcium hydroxide.  Is it clean eating…nope.  Not even close.  But…it’s not too bad as processed, frozen products go.  Not at all.  These are soy-free, vegan (100% plant based), non-GMO, gluten-free, contain no artificial preservatives, no artificial colors, no MSG, they are free of trans fats, and they are cholesterol free.  These also contain no added sugar.  Nothing about them is artificial.  Nothing.

So, let’s talk nutrition.  A serving of Sophie’s Kitchen Breaded Vegan Coconut Shrimp is 4 pieces of shrimp.  This serving will provide you with 130 calories and 10 grams of fat.  This serving also gives you 150 mg sodium and 1 gram of sugar.  A serving will give you 12 grams of carbohydrates, 3 grams of fiber, and less than one gram of protein.  You’ll feel full, but mostly due to what you pair it with.  In this case…I made it into a sandwich…and that definitely gives it a dinner heft that kept me full until the next morning.

Once again, blown away by how much I am loving the products that come from Sophie’s Kitchen.  Seriously, if you turned vegan, vegetarian, or are gluten-free and want some breaded “seafood”…I encourage you to seek out Sophie’s Kitchen and try it.  Take it from me…you’ll fall in love with the products.  If Sophie’s Kitchen can make me fall in love with coconut shrimp…imagine what it can do for you.

I’m so glad to be dining on this once more tonight.  Beyond YUM!

Sophie's Kitchen Gluten Free Coconut Shrimp in a Gluten Free Vegan Coconut Shrimp Po'Boy

Sophie’s Kitchen Gluten Free Coconut Shrimp in a Gluten Free Vegan Coconut Shrimp Po’Boy

Product Review: Miti Miti Latin American Foods Plantain Chips

Miti Miti Latin American Foods Plantain Chips

Miti Miti Latin American Foods Plantain Chips

Product: Miti Miti Latin American Foods Plantain Chips – $6.00

It was in my January 2015 Cube (Happy New Year) that I was introduced to a plethora of new products from my Cuisine Cube subscription.  Healthy options to get your New Years resolutions rocking and rolling and to start the year off on the right track.  It ranged from gluten-free oatmeal to dark chocolate covered rice cakes (both of which were fantastic).  But saddled into the seat for a snack in January was a product that left me overly excited and jumping for joy and eagerness to try.

Plantain Chips.

Oh hell yes!

So, before I trudge further into my review of this little packaged snack of tropical goodness, let me first tell you a little bit more about Cuisine Cube.  I discovered Cuisine Cube through a Groupon offering of sorts and from my first box to my current one, I have been hooked.  This is a subscription service that sends you a box each month that is loaded down with 5-6 full-size gluten-free products for your foodie tastebuds to enjoy!  No joke.  These products always include something for breakfast, lunch, snack, dinner and dessert…and every now and again, you get a bonus item.  It’s fantastic.  Really.  And subscriptions start as low as $29.99.  So, be sure to skip over to their Web site and check them out.  Better yet…try them out.

Why?

Because you will be introduced to products like Miti Miti Latin American Foods Plantain Chips!  Talk about biting into something I wasn’t expecting.  I have sampled plantain chips before, but this was the first time they actually snacked like a chip.  Usually I find them way too sweet, but with the blend of tropical and robust flavors that Miti Miti Foods adds to these dried plantains, you get a little bit of everything.  First of all, each and every trip is crunchy good.  I mean…CRUNCHY!!  I love that.  Chips should be crunchy, even when made out of fruit.  They are seasoned with paprika, coriander, and cardamom…giving them an added savory feel.  It really cuts down on the sweetness. And that’s where the magic happens.

I LOVED these chips.  Seriously.  They reminded me of really good french fries.  You know…those savory crispy ones…not the mushy, squishy ones.  Yep.  That’s the flavor they carried.  Sort of like a really amazing potato chip.  I couldn’t stop eating these.  Seriously.  I popped one to try.  So did my roommate.  Her initial thought was that they were “chalky” but I didn’t get that at all.  I found greatness.  I found something amazing and different.  I found…probably one of my favorite snacks to date.  I am addicted to them.  They are perfectly fried to a golden brown and carry everything my palate wants in a snack.  Having the bag in my general vicinity is dangerous…because it is one of those snacks that if I start eating, I can’t stop.  Which is why I have to dish out the serving size.  With the sweet and savory flavor with that perfect crunch in each bite (the thinner chips are my favorites…but they all are crunchy), I’m beyond addicted to these.  I won’t go to rehab either.  If I want chips…these are what I want.  From now on!

So, let’s take a look at the ingredients that go into a bag of Miti Miti Latin American Foods Plantain Chips.  These chips are made from plantains (obviously), a seasoning mix that includes salt, garlic, onion, black pepper, oregano, paprika, disodium guanylate, disodium inosinate, coriander, and cardamom, spices, canola oil, and garlic powder.  This snack is not only gluten-free, but also cholesterol free, sugar free, and vegan.

As for nutritional information…fear not.  These equal or might even be better than your standard potato chip.  And trust me…you’ll prefer these over a potato chip any day.  A serving size is 30 grams (or around 15 chips).  This serving will give you 160 calories and 10 grams of fat.  One serving will also provide you with 120 mg sodium, 18 grams of carbohydrates and no sugar.  One serving also gives you 2 grams of fiber and 1 gram of protein, making it a good snack that can take you through to dinner time.

Feel good about snacking again!  Don’t feel guilty about a treat in the afternoon or with dinner.  Miti Miti Latin American Foods make it so you can feed your snack side with something different and more nutritious than the standard potato chip.  Thanks to Cuisine Cube, I am feasting away on Miti Miti Plantain Chips and loving every bite.

Product Review: Pamela’s Products Gluten Free Strawberry & Fig Figgies & Jammies

Pamela's Products Gluten Free Strawberry & Fig Figgies & Jammies

Pamela’s Products Gluten Free Strawberry & Fig Figgies & Jammies

Product: Pamela’s Products Gluten Free Strawberry & Fig Figgies & Jammies – $3.99+

And so the great kitchen purge continues…

So…let me explain this once more for those just tuning in.  At some point, last year, I won an online sweepstakes where the prize was a box of each flavor of Pamela’s Products Gluten Free Figgies & Jammies.  They arrived in the mail and I dutifully placed them on the shelf of my pantry to enjoy at a later time.  As I am currently working on getting a majority of processed foods out of my pantry, desserts for the rest of the month are pretty much covered…with Figgies & Jammies.

Now, I was already aware of these amazing little Fig Newton type cookies from when they first debuted back in 2014.  I went searching high and low, but my area just didn’t have them in stock.  I eventually found them in Columbus, Ohio at The Raisin Rack…and purchased one (of all four flavors…because I was on a budget) and immediately fell in love with them.  Luckily I can pretty much find them anywhere now.  But…I won these.  And winning things is awesome.

If you’ve been sleepwalking through your own gluten-free journey, haven’t found these, didn’t know about them, or missed it in my previous blog, Pamela’s Products Figgies & Jammies come in four different flavors: Blueberry & Fig, Raspberry & Fig, Strawberry & Fig, and Mission Fig.

Tonight…I was all about the Strawberry & Fig.

Prior to the Strawberry & Fig flavors, I have already delved and devoured my way through Pamela’s Blueberry & Fig and Pamela’s Raspberry & Fig Figgies & Jammies.  I mean, you can’t beat having gluten free Fig Newtons that actually taste good.  Trust me…there are a few other attempts at fig stuffed cookies…but none of them have set this level of high standards.  And, naturally, it comes from Pamela’s Products.  One brand I trust with everything.  No exaggeration.  And every flavor I like more than the last.  So blueberry is delicious, but at the bottom of my list…then raspberry…now strawberry…

…I like this trend.

I also enjoy having a guiltless treat for dessert after a long day and a quick dinner.  I believe in dessert.  We all have the right to reward our hard efforts of the day, the long hours, the struggle to get through, with some sort of treat.  Fruit…cookies…cake…brownies…ice cream…whatever your poison…treat yourself.  It’s actually good for you.  Good for the soul.  Nothing big…just a taste is all you need.  And luckily, Pamela’s Products Gluten Free Figgies & Jammies are a 2-3 bite wonders (which is bigger than traditional fig cookies, for sure!  I’m looking at you Fig Newtons!).  LOVE.

So…Strawberry & Fig.  Strawberry.  Fig.  Two of my most favorite things in the world.  I am obsessed with figs.  I am beyond obsessed (and have been for my entire life) with strawberries.  So, naturally, this pairing seemed like a match made in heaven.  Oh…trust me…it is.  One bite…and that’s all I needed to fall in love.  Just like the previous two flavors, Pamela’s Gluten Free Strawberry & Fig Figgies & Jammies are moist, spongy cookies that are filled with real fig and strawberry.  Think Fig Newton minus the gluten.  But not minus the flavor.  In fact, I think I enjoy Pamela’s version of these cookies more than I ever enjoyed Fig Newtons.  No joke.  Even the different flavors.  But Strawberry & Fig is definitely bursting with this classic combination of fruit.  Blending it with the soft cookie on the outside adds a level of savoriness to the product itself.  It’s magic in every bite.  I. Am. Truly. Addicted.

So…now that I’ve raved about the flavor, let’s take a look at what goes into Pamela’s Products Gluten Free Strawberry & Fig Figgies & Jammies.  The cake-y cookie on the outside is made from a gluten-free flour blend of brown rice flour, white rice flour, tapioca starch, sweet rice flour, and xanthan gum, in addition to evaporated cane sugar, organic non-hydrogenated palm oil, organic invert sugar, grape juice and whole rice syrup, sweet whey powder, glycerin, baking soda, xanthan gum, sea salt, and lemon oil.  The jam filling is made from strawberry paste, fig paste, and citric acid.  These cookies are gluten-free, egg free, contain no artificial flavors or additives, no hydrogenated oils, no trans fat, no corn syrup, no cholesterol, are made in a dedicated gluten-free facility, and are kosher certified.

As for nutrition…well…these are cookies.  But I am not ashamed to eat one of these cookies.  They really have fantastic stats for being a treat.  A serving is 1 of the Pamela’s Products Gluten Free Strawberry & Fig Figgies & Jammies.  This one cookie will provide you with 100 calories and 2 grams of fat.  You will be taking in 25 mg sodium, 11 grams of sugar (it is a cookie…so I try not to panic!), and 18 grams of carbohydrates.  Finally, you will be consuming 1 gram of fiber and 1 gram of protein.  A treat that won’t fill you up, but is just enough to satisfy.  You gotta love that.

Once again, beyond impressed with the standard, quality, and amazing flavor that I find in every Pamela’s item I try.  The gluten-free community no longer has to fear missing out on some of their favorites or having their version taste flat and boring.  With Pamela’s…that won’t happen.  Flavor, quality…and just sheer awesomeness in every bite.  Total win!

Product Review: Van’s Gluten Free Ultimate Cheddar Penne

Van's Gluten Free Ultimate Cheddar Penne

Van’s Gluten Free Ultimate Cheddar Penne

Product: Van’s Gluten Free Ultimate Cheddar Penne – $3.99+

I am a do-it-yourself kind of girl these days when it comes to pastas.  Not so much making my own gluten-free pasta noodles (I haven’t gotten to that level yet), but I prefer to make my own pasta meals instead of buying the boxed stuff…just because I get some say into what goes into my meal.  That being said, sometimes…I make exceptions to this rule.

Such an exception came to pass awhile back, when on a rare trip to Walmart, I discovered that Van’s had come out with a small line of gluten free pasta sides (or meals in my case).  Seriously!  I think I knew that the gluten-free pastas were around, I had just never seen them in my area out in the wild.  Apparently, braving Walmart does have it’s advantages.  I won’t lie…my Walmart has a rather extensive and impressive gluten-free section.  So it was really no wonder I found these there.  I just never go to Walmart…so it was a nice coincidence in the end.

Prior to this one, I reviewed the Van’s Gluten Free Creamy Herb and Garlic Pasta, which I dished up to not just  my roommate, but my good friend and roomie’s sister – Amanda.  Now, Amanda doesn’t get exposed much to gluten-free foods…unless I subject her to them.  And she loved the Creamy Herb & Garlic Pasta when we enjoyed it for dinner one night.  That left two other gluten-free pasta dishes in my pantry from Van’s.  And last night, after a long week, I just wanted a brainless meal to prepare and enjoy.  Something warm and comforting, as it was a rainy night to boot.  I went to the pantry and spotted the remaining two boxes of Van’s Gluten Free Pastas: Ultimate Cheddar Penne and Rotini and Red Sauce.  I had my roommate make the final decision…and knew before I even asked that she would go cheese.  When I ask her anything and one items involves cheese…that is the one that will be selected.  No problem though.  Totally game.

Van’s Gluten Free choices have never disappointed me.  Never.  Never ever.  That’s a lot to live up to, mind you.  But Van’s puts a lot of love and care into their packaged foods.  And Van’s does believe that nutritious is delicious and that’s why they make their gluten-free pastas with whole grain brown rice, delivering more than a full serving of nutrient dense whole grains.  The cheese sauce over a perfectly cooked pasta…that’s love to me.  Seriously.  And, you can always add in some vegetables or chicken (if you eat meat…which I don’t…) in order to bulk it up.  But as my roommate and I take something that serves three and split it between the two of us…it’s the perfect amount in the end.

Van’s Gluten Free Ultimate Cheddar Penne is a breeze to prepare.  Seriously.  Simply boil 6 cups of water in a medium saucepan.  Add the pasta and allow it to return to a medium boil for about 8-9 minutes, until it is al dente.  Stir occasionally though, so that it doesn’t stick to the pan.  Very important.  Oh…and DO NOT overcook the pasta.  Rice pasta can go from perfect to mush in a moment.  So keep an eye on it.  Drain the pasta and give it a rinse.  In the pan you cooked the pasta in, add 3 tablespoons of fat free milk (I used unsweetened almond milk) and 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter (I used Earth Balance), and allow it to melt together over a low heat.  Then whisk in the cheddar powder until it is smooth.  Then, add the pasta back into the pan and stir them together.  Serve.

Oh…this was good.  Think Kraft Mac & Cheese…but better.  WAY better.  The pasta cooked up perfectly.  It didn’t take too long, but it had that right bit of al dente-ness to it.  I think I just made up a word there…but go with it.  The sauce though…that’s where the magic happens.  No…this sauce is not vegan.  Yes…it has milk in it…but by using the dairy alternatives for the butter and milk, I cut back on the dairy I was consuming. It worked.  The lactose intolerance was there, but it was mild because there isn’t a lot of dairy in this little box of cheesy pasta goodness.  I know, my homemade gluten-free (and dairy free) mac and cheese rocks, but when I don’t have time to do all the prep work and baking that goes into it…this is a definite contender to have on hand in my kitchen for nights where I want a big bowl of comfort food in a snap.  Deliciously creamy, cheesy noodle-y goodness.

One thing that Van’s proudly states is that they use only ingredients that they are proud of.  And that is definitely evident when I read over the list of ingredients they use for the Gluten Free Ultimate Cheddar Penne.  These ingredients are gluten-free penne pasta (brown rice flour, white rice flour), aged cheddar cheese seasoning (cheddar cheese nonfat milk, salt, shey, sugar, buttermilk, rice flour, natural flavors, annatto extract (for color).  Nothing too spooky or weird there, right?  That’s right.  Van’s Gluten Free Ultimate Cheddar Penne is gluten-free, kosher, egg free, contains no trans fats, and has no artificial flavors.

So, how about the nutritional value of a big bowl of gluten-free cheesy pasta noodles?  Actually…not too bad.  Not at all.  Before it’s prepared, the with butter and milk (of your choice), a serving (with 3 per box) contains 210 calories and 2.5 grams of fat.  A serving also has 5 mg cholesterol, 520 mg sodium, and 3 grams of sugar.  One serving will also give you 48 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of fiber, and 6 grams of protein.  It will be filling, even as a side.

Once again, Vans Gluten Free has lived up to its standards and name.  These little boxes of pasta are not only convenient, but easy to make and delicious too.  No one would guess they were gluten free if you didn’t tell them.  Yep…when I am in a pinch, these might be my go-to meals.  Super impressed once again!

Product Review: Sol Cuisine Smoky Chipotle Tinga Meatless Chicken

Sol Cuisine Smoky Chipotle Tinga Meatless Chicken

Sol Cuisine Smoky Chipotle Tinga Meatless Chicken

Product: Sol Cuisine Smoky Chipotle Tinga Meatless Chicken – $6.49+

Ever since I discovered Sol Cuisine vegetarian and vegan protein products, I have been hooked.  Seriously.  I’ve tried falafal, burgers, and sausage from this fantastic company.  One thing that really caught my attention was how Sol Cuisine focuses on organic, non-GMO Kosher, halal, wheat-free, gluten-free, nutritious and delicious ingredients that aren’t loaded with fillers and chemicals.  Yes…they are actually healthy and good for you!

Now, I used to do these “faux-meat” replacements all the time when I first went vegetarian.  This came to an abrupt end (for the most part) when I was diagnosed as a Celiac.  Most meat-replacement products out on the market contain vital wheat gluten or wheat protein to “give it better texture” and other such excuses.  Very few companies have made the leap to both vegan/vegetarian and gluten-free for their protein products.

Some have and have failed.  Some have and been successful.

Sol Cuisine…has definitely been successful.  This was not the first product I have tried from Sol Cuisine, and it certainly won’t be the last.  That being said, this was the first of the frozen meatless chicken meals that they put out last year.  I have had this in my freezer for a long while, just begging to be used.  I have gone to focusing on more natural and fresh ingredients, especially since I get a CSA bin delivered to my door each week.  When I leave town though…my bin gets canceled and when I return, I usually try to make the most out of what I have in my freezer, fridge, and pantry.

I returned from New York City this past Monday with very little in my fridge.  I wanted to still keep it nutritious and healthy, but really was on a tight budget after the trip.  So, I managed to get enough to pick up a few necessities (kale, tomatoes, and some other necessities)…and said the rest could be done through pantry/freezer picking.  And that’s when I discovered (all the way in the back) the packet of Sol Cuisine Smoky Chipotle Tinga Meatless Chicken that I picked up at my local Whole Foods…a bit ago.  I kept saying I was going to make it…then never did.  No excuses this time.  Tuesday after work…this is what came out of my freezer.

Sol Cuisine’s Smoky Chipotle Tinga Meatless Chicken incorporates an authentic recipe from Cuernavaca Mexico and brings it to your home – vegan style.  I was hoping for something rich and spicy and saucy and yummy.  I even served it up as it suggested on the package, but taking my gluten-free corn tortillas and rubbing them down with some oil and toasting them in the oven for some homemade tostadas.  Seriously.  So easy and can be done while the meal is cooking.  You can get tostadas already made, but why?  They don’t take much time to make…just a warm oven and a timer so you don’t burn them and remember to flip them.  HA!

As I was having a busy week, trying to make up the entire day I missed with delayed flights out of NYC, I needed easy, but healthy dinners this week.  And the Sol Cuisine Smoky Chipotle Tinga Meatless Chicken definitely fit the bill.  It is so easy to prepare.  Simply open the package and remove the sauce packets.  Place into a bowl of hot water for about 4 minutes to thaw out.

Then, you can either cook the meatless chicken on the stovetop or in the microwave.  I find these things work best on the stovetop…so that was the method I used.  To cook on the stovetop, simply place the frozen strips into a lightly oiled skillet and sauté over medium heat for about 3-6 minutes.  Then add the sauce and stir until heated through.  SO EASY!  The microwave technique is super-easy as well and just involves pouring the sauce over the strips in the bag it came in and microwaving the open bag for about 3 minutes on medium…allowing it to rest for 1 minute before serving.  Stovetop worked for me and it yielded an amazing end product too.  The sauced and cooked chicken was placed on my homemade tostadas over some kale and spinach and arugula.  And…dinner…was served.

Now, I’ve had plenty of meat replacements since becoming a vegetarian.  Since then, I’ve found a few meatless chicken products that are also gluten-free.  This is one of the first times that I haven’t gotten that fake soy/tofu/weirdness that I often do with such products.  Not one bit.  It tasted amazing.  The strips of meatless chicken had a great texture too, chewy without being too chewy or rough.  It was amazing.  The sauce was spicy with just enough heat that I knew my roommate could tolerate it.  I was right…she said it was the perfect level of heat.  Meaning…there wasn’t too much of a kick.  Not, at least, to the level I like it…but it was really good.  And the sauce coated the chickenless strips perfectly, without watering down everything.  It was thick and rich and perfect.  Pairing it with the greens and the tostada brought nutrients and a great bit of texture and crunch to the dish.  I loved it!  Every bite of it.

Let’s look at ingredients, shall we?  The Sol Cuisine Smoky Chipotle Tinga Meatless Chicken Strips are made from filtered water, soy protein isolate and concentrate, okara, a vitamin and mineral blend (potassium, magnesium, rice flower, iron, B3, zinc, B12, folic acid, Copper, B1, B6, and B2), expeller pressed sunflower roil, yeast extract, tapioca starch, sea salt, and spices.  The sauce is made from filtered water, tomato paste, onion, cane syrup, sunflower oil, garlic, lemon juice concentrate, sea salt, chipotle pepper, turmeric, natural flavor and spices.

As for nutrition, I loved what this offered per serving.  A serving size is 1/4 of the package.  One serving of strips dishes up 60 calories, 2 grams of fat, 110 mg sodium, 190 mg potassium, 2 grams of carbohydtrates, 2 grams of fiber, no sugar, and 10 grams of filling protein.  The sauce dishes up 30 calories, 1.5 grams of fat, 120 mg sodium, 4 grams of carbohydrates, no fiber, 3 grams of sugar, and 1 gram of protein.  So, all-in-all…AMAZING!!  And it tastes amazing too!!

My roommate and I actually split the entire package between the two of us…and it was so amazing and guilt-free!!

Once again, Sol Cuisine has astounded me with its flavorful and delicious (and healthy) options for a gluten-free vegetarian.  I am in love with this meal.  And now I want to try the other varieties in my Whole Foods freezer…which are Ginger Lime Teriyaki Meatless Chicken and Tangy Korean BBQ Meatless Chicken.  Both sound intriguing and amazing.  And I’ll definitely pick up the Smoky Chipotle Tinga Meatless Chicken again too!  SO DELICIOUS!

Sol Cuisine Smoky Chipotle Tinga Meatless Chicken (prepared), served over fresh greens and an oven-baked tostada

Sol Cuisine Smoky Chipotle Tinga Meatless Chicken (prepared), served over fresh greens and an oven-baked tostada

Product Review: Dr. Praeger’s Sensible Foods Gluten Free Sweet Potato Pancakes

Dr. Praeger's Gluten Free Sweet Potato Pancakes

Dr. Praeger’s Sensible Foods Gluten Free Sweet Potato Pancakes

Product: Dr. Praeger’s Sensible Foods Gluten Free Sweet Potato Pancakes – $4.99+

You might be able to tell that I’m on a bit of a sweet potato kick.  And who can blame me?  Sweet potatoes are nutritional powerhouses.  I mean, this one food is an excellent source of B6 vitamins and potassium, but in addition to that, you will be provided with over 400% of your daily needs for Vitamin A and 37% Vitamin C.  Sweet potatoes are a great source of beta-carotene, which has been shown to reduce risk of developing certain types of cancer, offers protection against asthma and heart disease as well.  Sweet potatoes are one of my favorite plant powerhouses when it comes to foods I consume often.

While I love to incorporate baked sweet potatoes into recipes or stuff them with healthy avocado and some onion and eat them fresh out of the oven…I recently found my stash of frozen sweet potato pancakes in my freezer.  I knew they were there, I just made no effort to actually pull them out to eat.  Go figure.  But with a lack of fresh produce coming in from my bin these last couple of weeks, I have been doing some slimming down on what I have in my pantry and my fridge and freezer.  Last week, I ate a different variety of sweet potato pancakes, more like the familiar pancakes I would settle in to at breakfast.

And that’s one of the first things I noticed about the Gluten Free Sweet Potato Pancakes from Dr. Praeger’s Sensible Foods.  They look more like hash browns than your breakfast pancakes.  Which, is fine by me, for sure.  While I liked the Julian’s Recipe version, I found that they tasted a bit…odd.  But that wasn’t the case with the ones from Dr. Praeger’s.

Dr. Praeger’s Sensible Foods began in 1994, when a New Jersey cardiothoracic surgeon, Dr. Peter Praeger, and his medical partner, Dr. Eric Somberg, helped keep a family business alive by purchasing Ungar’s Gefilte Fish, a popular kosher food company within the Jewish community.  The two doctors set out on a mission – to introduce people to nutritious food that actually tasted great.  They opted to keep the Ungar’s brand, but also developed Dr. Praeger’s Sensible Foods to include all natural and convenient (and wow…they are convenient!) frozen products that could appeal and draw in a wider consumer based.  This family owned and operated company has grown into a leader in the all-natural, vegetarian, gluten-free, vegan, and kosher frozen food categories, with products ranging from veggie burgers to home-style veggie cakes, to breaded fish items, and veggie-packed goodies for children too in their “Kid’s Littles” line, and many more options.  The Dr. Praeger’s items are found in the frozen or ethnic foods section of most retailers, but certainly in most natural food stores.

I’m quite familiar with the Dr. Praeger’s brand.  In fact, I have enjoyed some of the Kid’s Littles (hey…I’m a kid at heart!) and have tried the veggie burgers as well…and have loved everything I have tried.  But, I won’t lie…I was beyond intrigued by the Gluten Free Sweet Potato Pancakes when I spotted them at Whole Foods awhile back.  This morning, as I was packing like a wild woman to head out to New York City for some birthday shenanigans with my roommate (her birthday is tomorrow), as well as a possible race (depending on my hip), I needed something that would be filling, yet easy to prepare.  I hit up my pantry, but all the mixes just seemed time consuming.  My freezer was next, and the final bit of breakfast-like food (hey…pancakes are pancakes…even if they are savory!) caught my attention when I spotted the white box for Dr. Praeger’s Sensible Foods Gluten Free Sweet Potato Pancakes.  SCORE!

I pulled out four of the individually wrapped pancakes (think of a large hash brown, and you get the basic size and thickness of these pancakes) and placed them on a baking sheet.  I put them into an oven set at 450°F and baked them for about 5 minutes before turning them over and baking them for another 4 minutes, or until they began to brown.  Simple and something that I honestly didn’t need to babysit.  I just had to check in every few minutes to make sure I wasn’t burning them.  That gave me some time to throw things into a suitcase…HA.  Granted, I should have done that the night before…but I was busy watching Star Trek – The Original Series.  Priorities.

So…first of all…these aren’t your typical pancakes that you might imagine drowning in maple syrup and devouring for breakfast.  Nope.  They aren’t thin and light and look like something you cooked up in a skillet that morning.  Like I said…these will remind you of a hash brown.  And they are hearty and thick just like hash browns too.  Seriously.  These are amazing.  I loved these more than the previous round of sweet potato pancakes (savory and more of the breakfast pancake type) that I had last week.  These are actually perfect for a healthy snack, a light meal, or a side dish.  Honestly.  But mine…mine were going to be breakfast for my roommate and I.  And after I had them baked up, I served them up with some marshmallow fluff (which I toasted with my kitchen torch) and some roasted almonds on top.  I served them up and settled in for breakfast before finishing up my packing that morning.

Dr. Praeger’s Sensible Foods Gluten Free Sweet Potato Pancakes are AMAZING.  Hearty and healthy is one thing, but these also tasted amazing.  These are made from real food and real ingredients, so nothing tasted off or weird when I dove into these.  I sort of wish I cooked them up with some scrambled eggs and topped them off with a bit of ketchup, but I still have two more pancakes in order to do that with.  So it’s all good.  These have great sweet potato flavor and tasted really good the way I dressed them up.  But when I sampled a piece on its own, that amazing sweet potato flavor just came through.  And that was what I wanted.  Honest.  Real.  Healthy.  Food.  A sophisticated hash brown masquerading as a pancake.  I LOVE IT!  And I loved these.  I sort of want to stock my freezer with them for future use.  Seriously.  If you want an easy and go-to option for your clean eating diet.  THIS…would be my suggestion.

Let’s discuss ingredients.  Real ingredients and real food is what you’ll find in Dr. Praeger’s Sensible Foods Gluten Free Sweet Potato Pancakes.  These delightful disks of goodness are made from sweet potatoes, egg whites, potato flakes, expeller pressed canola oil, brown sugar, arrowroot, and salt.   That’s it.  Amazing.  Clean eating in your freezer!  These potato pancakes are gluten-free, kosher, dairy-free, cholesterol-free, non-GMO, and free from saturated fat and trans fats.

As far as nutrition goes…these are little pancakes of power.  The nutrition stats on the Dr. Praeger’s Sensible Foods Gluten Free Sweet Potato Pancakes wowed me and they will wow you too.  A serving is 1 pancake, but my roommate and I each had 2 this round as it was breakfast.  One pancake will serve you up 80 calories and 2.5 grams of fat.  One sweet potato pancake will also give you 120 mg sodium and 7 grams of sugar.  One serving also provides you with 2 grams of fiber and 2 grams of protein…so filling without being too filling.  Double it to two pancakes, and you’ll be full until lunch time.  Trust me.  I know I am.

I was completely impressed with and blown away by Dr. Praeger’s Sensible Foods Gluten Free Sweet Potato Pancakes.  I’m not kidding when I saw these will find their way back into my freezer.  Honestly, they were beyond what I anticipated and totally captured my attention and the attention of my taste buds.  Delicious.  Healthy.  And amazing.  You can’t beat that.  If you haven’t tried them…do it now.  Next time…ketchup!

Product Review: Hodgson Mill Lemon Pepper Quinoa & Brown Rice

Hodgson Mill Lemon Pepper Quinoa & Brown Rice

Hodgson Mill Lemon Pepper Quinoa & Brown Rice

Product: Hodgson Mill Lemon Pepper Quinoa & Brown Rice – $2.49+

There are quite a few brands and companies out there that I entrust my gluten-free lifestyle to.  These are the ones that I can find on a regular basis…the few, the proud, the ones carried in most, if not every, grocery store or department store with a food section.  One such brand is Hodgson Mill…who has brought quite a few different products to the gluten-free folks that make up a good percentage of the population these days, whether for medical or dietary reasons.

We all have to have these go-to brands that we can hit up in a pinch.  So, when I find new products by such brands, I don’t really hesitate to purchase them.  They go into my shopping basket (if the budget allows) and then into my pantry.  That’s the circle of my gluten-free foodie life.

While at Raisin Rack in Columbus, Ohio, awhile back, I stumbled across a couple of packets of Hodgson Mill products that I hadn’t seen around my area.  These were for their new Quinoa & Brown Rice sides, which come in five flavors: Lemon Pepper, Garlic & Herb, Italian, Mediterranean, and Spicy.  I normally would have immediately lunged for the Spicy version, but as this is something I’d be sharing with my roommate (who is a self-professed spice wimp), I opted for something else.  As she is a connoisseur of all things lemony…the Hodgson Mill Lemon Pepper Quinoa & Brown Rice Side seemed like a win to me.

And so…it came home…and sat in my pantry.  Until tonight.  Because of having no CSA bin delivery for the past two (going on three) weeks, I’ve been trying to make due mostly with what I have in the fridge, freezer, and pantry.  As these next couple nights are going to include me packing for my upcoming trip to NYC, for my roomie’s birthday, some Broadway shows, and the NYC Half Marathon, I needed foods that wouldn’t demand too much of my time, but still be healthy and filling.

Instead of reheating some of the risotto I made last weekend, I decided to save that for tomorrow and plucked the package of Hodgson Mill Lemon Pepper Quinoa and Brown Rice out of the pantry.  Instead of serving it as a side, we’d simply split the entire package and have it as a meal.  We do that a lot with sides.  I mean…why not?  If it has the nutritional value to double as a meal for two people…might as well go for it.

So, after a long, frustrating, and tiring day at the office…I came home and immediately put 1-3/4 cup of water onto the stove to bring to a boil.  I emptied the contents of the Hodgson Mill Lemon Pepper Quinoa & Brown Rice packet into the boiling water, covered it, and lowered the heat to allow it to simmer and continue to cook…which took about 15 more minutes.  Once the water was absorbed, it was done.  I took the pan off the heat and let it sit, covered, for another 5 minutes before fluffing it with a fork.  While all this was cooking, I was able to put together everything I needed for lunches and snacks for both my roomie and I, which freed up some additional time for me later on.  Love that.  When the five minutes ticked past, I fluffed the mixture with a fork and served it up between the two of us.  We settled in for dinner.

I want to say, this mix cooks up to the perfect texture.  The quinoa and brown rice are a perfect match for each other, making a filling, and satisfying dish (whether a meal or as a side).  However, that being said, the seasoning was definitely lacking.  In fact, my roomie and I actually had to add some salt (which we never do) and even gave it a hit of berbere.  Because, hey, why not?  But, once we had everything properly seasoned, this was really delicious.  I think Hodgson Mill took extra precaution not to overwhelm the mix with the lemon and pepper flavor, but that’s really what I want when I purchase something that boasts a lemon pepper flavor.  So, while the taste was a little bland, this was a really great dish.  Easy to prepare…just season it when all is said and done.

As far as ingredients go, the Hodgson Mill Lemon Pepper Quinoa & Brown Rice side is made from organic whole grain prewashed quinoa, whole grain parboiled long grain brown rice, organic garlic, organic onion, organic herbs, organic carrot, organic black pepper, organic bell pepper, organic tomato, organic red pepper, organic spices, organic orange peel, organic lemon peel, and citric acid (contains mustard).  This blend is gluten-free, cholesterol free, low in sodium, all natural, and kosher.

Nutrition-wise…this isn’t a bad choice to serve as a side or as a main dish.  There are 3.5 servings per pouch, with one serving being 1/4 cup.  This serving will provide you with 140 calories and 1.5 grams of fat.  This serving will also give you 45 mg sodium and less than 1 gram of sugar.  You gotta love that.  One serving will also give you 2 grams of fiber and 5 grams of protein.  God bless quinoa!

If you are looking for a healthy side or a hearty dinner without breaking the bank and without having to spend a long time in the kitchen, Hodgson Mill has you covered.  Just make sure you check the seasoning when you finish cooking these up.  You’ll also get a nice protein kick from the quinoa…and the brown rice is a great addition to add a bit of bulk and body to the dish.  Lacking the lemon…that’s my only complaint.  Otherwise…a nice product!

Product Review: Qrunch Foods Cinnamon-Vanilla Toastables

Qrunch Cinnamon-Vanilla Toastables

Qrunch Foods Cinnamon-Vanilla Toastables

Product: Qrunch Foods Cinnamon-Vanilla Toastables – $3.99+

Ah…back to one of my favorite things to talk about.

No.  Not food.  Although I do like to talk about food.

Nope.  What I’m about to introduce you to is yet another way that being Celiac/gluten-free doesn’t have to detract from what options are out there for breakfast.  Aside from the natural gluten-free goodness of real foods, such as eggs, potatoes, vegetables, and fruits…there are a plethora of gluten-free breakfast mixes that can help you bake up pancakes, muffins, and scones.  There are frozen waffles, pancakes, French toast sticks, bagels, muffins, cinnamon rolls…the list is endless.

But what really caught my eye a couple of months ago when I randomly dropped into my local Meijer was a new product from a company that I trusted.  The company being Qrunch Foods.  The product – something they call Toastables.

Qrunch Foods set out with a mission, and have since worked hard to carry it out – to create great-tasting, gluten free foods.

Those of us who have made our way through the gluten-free foods out on the market know that gluten-free foods have come a long way.  No longer do you need to fear something tasting like cardboard or wood pulp (although…there are instances this still holds true).  But finding something that stops you in your tracks and makes you go, “Damn…I’d never guess this was gluten free!” is a rare find at times.

Qrunch Foods came out with their line of Toastables back in 2013.  Prior to this, you might have seen and tried (and loved, like me!) their gluten-free and vegan/vegetarian Qrunch Burgers.  LOVE me those Qrunch Burgers.  So, that’s why I didn’t hesitate to pick up one of the two varieties (of four!) of the Qrunch Foods Toastables from my grocery store.  A trusted brand can speak volumes.

My choice: Qrunch Foods Cinnamon-Vanilla Toastables.

Qrunch Foods Toastables are made from ancient whole grains (organic quinoa, organic amaranth, and organic millet) which provides a unique and filling breakfast.  They are, as always, 100% natural and 100% gluten-free.  The idea behind the Toastables is that they are lightly sweetened and go great with any sort of breakfast topping you might enjoy…from syrup to honey to nut butters to jellies to cream cheese.  Whatever floats your breakfast boat.  They look like a mix between a cereal-coated French Toast stick and a hash brown.  I’m okay with this.  And making them is easy too.

Simply pop these into your toaster for a couple of cycles and they are ready to eat.  I was eating these after going to the gym and heading into the office.  This meant that I didn’t have a gluten-free toaster to use.  Other options include cooking over medium-high heat in a skillet for 3-4 minutes per side…except I didn’t have a stovetop.  Luckily, my office does have a taster oven, so I baked these for about 15-20 minutes at 400 degrees until they were nice and warm throughout.  I served these up with a little bit of maple syrup.  Yummy.

I bet you’re wondering how they taste.  Well, they were nothing like I anticipated.  I loved the crunchy outer shell that I got from baking it (and you would too if you baked, used the skillet, or toasted it in the toaster).  If you microwave it, you will lose that aspect of the Toastable itself.  The Qrunch Foods Cinnamon-Vanilla Toastable had a grittiness to it, which comes from the various grains that are used to comprise it.  I’m on the fence on whether I liked that aspect or not.  It tasted a little dry…but the maple syrup I topped it off with helped with that.  The flavor was subtle, but I could definitely catch hints of the cinnamon and vanilla that were incorporated into the Toastable.  It was a quick bite, but quite filling.  Sort of like a dry, crunchy French toast or waffle…which isn’t a bad thing.  I just sort of expected a little more tenderness on the inside.  Although, overall, not bad.  Not bad at all.  Thank goodness for maple syrup!

Let’s discuss ingredients.  The Qrunch Foods Cinnamon-Vanilla Toastables are made from water, organic millet, organic quinoa, organic amaranth, organic refined coconut oil, organic arrowroot starch, organic cane sugar, organic apple cider vinegar, organic vanilla extract, sea salt, organic cinnamon, and organic non-GMO canola oil.  They are not only made with ancient whole grains, but also 100% gluten-free, soy-free, wheat-free, egg-free, dairy-free, and corn-free.

As far as nutrition goes, a serving is 1 of the Qrunch Foods Cinnamon-Vanilla Toastables.  There are four Toastables in each box.  This one serving will give you 120 calories and 4 grams of fat.  This will also give you 135 mg sodium and 1 gram of sugar.  Loving that.  These are cholesterol free and free of trans fat.  You will also be taking in 3 grams of fiber and 3 grams of protein.  So don’t let the size of them make you think they won’t fill you up.  These will hold you for the morning.

So, not an astounding find, but one that does make for a different and tasty breakfast for sure.  It’s easy to prepare…just takes a little time if you are toasting it up in the toaster oven or toaster, but as long as you aren’t famished, that’s not a problem at all.

Qrunch Foods Toastables are available in four flavors: Cinnamon-Vanilla, Blueberry-Lemon, Rich Maple and Original.  Look for them in your grocery store freezer.

Qrunch Foods Cinnamon-Vanilla Toastables (toasted)

Qrunch Foods Cinnamon-Vanilla Toastables (toasted)