Product Review: gfJules Cornbread Mix + Recipe Bonus

gfJules Gluten Free Cornbread Mix

gfJules Gluten Free Cornbread Mix

Product: gfJules Cornbread Mix – $6.26+

I am a stranger in a not so strange land.  Seriously.  Because for the past three three years that I’ve had to be gluten-free…I’ve followed, discussed, and even met the infamous Jules Shepard, AKA: Jules Gluten Free, AKA: gfJules.  And, despite all of that…it has taken me up until now to actually try one of her products!  Hard to believe, right?  Truth of the matter is…no store in my area currently carries any of the Jules line.  I hope that changes.

So…it was due to my November 2014 Cuisine Cube (aka: the Thanksgiving Cube) that my Jules drought finally came to an end.  Thank you, Cuisine Cube.  Because, honestly, I was beginning to wonder if I was ever going to be able to give this an easy try, without it involving some online ordering and shipping and…yeah.  So, yes, Jules brand is not new to me…but it is.  Confused yet?  Don’t be.

Jules Shepard is one of the biggest advocates and leaders that I know in the gluten-free community.  She was diagnosed with Celiac back in 1999 and embarked upon her new diet.  As a former attorney who was unwilling to accept the dry, gritty, vacuous foods that the gluten-free community was limited to.  Two years later, Shepard perfected an all-purpose flour blend that allowed her to continue her passion for baking.  Soon, people were begging for her to sell it commercially…which she did.  She introduced this flour blend back in 2008, with her former company, Jules Gluten Free, and now exclusively through her new company – gfJules.  Not only is she an entrepreneur, but Shepard has written three highly regarded books and attends various speaking engagements at gluten-free consumer, business, and trade gatherings.  She is the mother of two children, hosts a weekly radio show, pens one of the gluten-free community’s most active blog, organizes an annual Gluten Free Cookie Swap, and personally monitors all forms of her social media network.  She’s doing it all…but not letting her high standards slip in the slightest.

So…here I was, three years after having discovered Jules via Facebook and Twitter, having met her in person last year at a Gluten Free Expo in Indianapolis, Indiana, and having spent forever longing to try her flour and mixes…it finally happened.  Thanksgiving.  A time for giving thanks and eating comforting and hearty foods.  Like…cornbread.  And that is what Cuisine Cube sent me!

gfJules Cornbread Mix (prepared)

gfJules Cornbread Mix (mixed)

The gfJules Gluten Free Cornbread Mix is a gluten free cornbread mix that “will put a smile on anyone’s face.”  Or, so I was told by the Web site.  As cornbread is one of Jules’ favorite sides, she took extra care when she crated this mix, making it so authentic, some restaurants even serve it and don’t promote it as being gluten-free.  It’s really easy to prepare and make too.  Simply whisk together sour cream, milk and an egg.  Stir in the mix using a fork or whisk until smooth. Spread into a hot buttered pan (or into muffin cups) and bake for 25-30 minutes.  The cornbread is done when the edges are crispy and brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  That is…if you bake it according to the instructions on the box.

By now, you should know…that’s not what I do.

Before I get to the recipe I used this amazing product in, let’s discuss it, shall we?

I loved how a light and airy this batter was once I had it all mixed together.  It just whisked up beautifully and perfectly.  I had a good feeling that this wasn’t going to bake up heavy and dense like most gluten-free cornbread…and I was right.  The cornbread turned a perfect golden in the oven, the edges browning perfectly.  And it had this amazing crust that gave it some great texture.  And the inside was light and soft and moist and…so good.  It ranks up in my top gluten-free cornbreads I have made and tried.  I am blown away by just how delicious and perfect this bread was.  Now I want to try more of her mixes…and will have to skip over to her Web site and make it happen. This was one of the best parts of this entire dish.

gfJules Cornbread Mix (prepared, not baked)

gfJules Cornbread Mix (prepared, not baked)

The gfJules Cornbread Mix is made from the following ingredients: yellow cornmeal, modified tapioca starch, cane sugar, potato starch, cornstarch white rice flour, corn flour, baking powder, flaxseed meal, xanthan gum, baking soda, salt, tocopherols (vitamin E).  It is made in a certified facility free of gluten, wheat, dairy – all of the Top 8 food allergens.  All her ingredients in the cornbread mix are also non-GMO.  Love it.

The gfJules Cornbread Mix makes 8 servings per box.  In each serving, you will be provided with 160 calories and 1 gram of fat.  This serving will give you 490 mg sodium and  5 grams of sugar, which is really good for cornbread, if you ask me!  And, finally, you will be taking in 2 grams of fiber and 2 grams of protein.

And now…how about the recipe that featured the always amazing gfJules Cornbread Mix?  I won’t keep you waiting any longer, I promise…

Recipe: Gluten Free and Vegan Cheddar Chili Cornbread Pasta Bake

gf Jules Cornbread (prepared) on top of the Gluten Free and Dairy Free Cheddar Chili Cornbread Pasta Bake

gf Jules Cornbread (prepared) on top of the Gluten Free and Dairy Free Cheddar Chili Cornbread Pasta Bake

Servings: 6
Time: Prep 4 hours; Cook 30 minutes

Ingredients:

 

  • 1-1/2 cups uncooked gluten-free elbow noodles (I used Meijer Gluten Free Corn Pasta Elbow Noodles)
  • 3/4 cup Daiya Cheddar Style Shreds (if you do dairy…freshly shredded cheddar works!)
  • 2 1/2 – 3 cups of leftover chili (I used Mary Ann’s Beans Gluten Free White Chili)
  • 1 batch of your favorite cornbread (I used gfJules Cornbread)

 

Directions:

Preheat oven to 425° F.

Bring  the water to a boil and prepare the pasta according to the directions on the package, taking about 1-2 minutes off of the cooking time, as the noodles are going into the oven.

While the noodles are cooking, mix up a batch of your favorite cornbread (just the batter…do not cook it!) and get the cheese prepared.

Drain the pasta when it’s ready.

In an 8 x 8 inch baking dish, spray non-stick cooking spray.  Add the pasta to the botom of the dish.  Then top it with a layer of cheese.  Then add the chili.  Top with the cornbread batter, spreading it evenly over the top with a spoon.  It’s okay if it doesn’t reach the edges.

Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until the cornbread is golden on top and cooked all the way through.  You can use a spoon to lift up the cornbread layer to make sure that it is completely cooked.  Cooking times may vary with the cornbread mixture you use, but keep an eye on it and check it.  The cooking time might increase due to the “wet” layers that are underneath the layer.

Serve immediately.

~*~*~

I don’t think a better upper crust could have existed.  No doubt about it.  gfJules lives up to the high pedestal that I have regarded it on since I first discovered Jules Gluten Free three years ago.  So happy that, because of Cuisine Cube, I finally got to try one of her amazing products.  It was everything I thought it would be.  Maybe even more.  Count me one happy cornbread loving girl!

And, if you have yet to give gfJules a try, or Cuisine Cube for that matter…head over to the Cuisine Cube page and sign up for at least a month.  If you aren’t impressed (but, trust me, you will be), you can opt out after that.  With plans starting as low as $29.99/month for each cube, you get the convenience and amazing pleasure of having box of gluten-free goodies arrive each month, featuring lesser-known and smaller gluten-free artisan products.  I have been amazed, wowed, and completely blown away at times by the items I have had the opportunity to find out about and try thanks to Cuisine Cube.  We aren’t talking sample sizes either…you get a full size product, as you would purchase it in the store.  So…what are you waiting for?  Go sign up!

And, gfJules…I loved meeting you this past year…and I have really enjoyed finally getting to try one of your outstanding and top-of-the-line gluten-free products.  I hope more people hop over to your site and order.  Now that I have tried it…there’s no stopping me now!

 

 

Product Review: Mary Ann’s Beans Gluten Free White Chili Mix + Recipe Bonus

Mary Ann's Beans Gluten Free White Chili Mix

Mary Ann’s Beans Gluten Free White Chili Mix

Product: Mary Ann’s Beans Gluten Free White Chili Mix – $8.00

It’s the New Year.  Time to make resolutions and then, over the course of a month…break them.  Right?  Yes.  Right.  It’s the way it works every year.  You vow to stop eating chocolate…to go to the gym…to eat more vegetables and less potato chips.  You promise to get into a habit…make it a routine.  But then…by MLK Day…you’re already off the wagon.

And you know what?  That’s okay.  We’re in the midst of winter here.  Cold temperatures and lack of sunlight have a funny way of killing off any bit of motivation out there.  We’re human.  It happens.  But, it’s also okay to enjoy the little things in life and to be less strict with yourself.  Resolutions can be broken…but they can be picked right back up on where we left off.  That’s the best part.

Being that it is January…and the New Year has come and gone…and the weather outside is frightful(ly cold)…I’m a lover of all things comforting when it comes to food.  Tis the season for those hearty meals that make you just want to curl up with a good book in front of the fireplace and dig in while losing yourself.  Ah…it’s a wonderful thing.  And, when it comes to winter comfort foods…nothing is better than soups, stews, chili, and pasta, right?  Of course!!  Those are classic comfort foods if you ask me.

Well, in the January Happy New Year 2015 Cuisine Cube, we were served up a few products that were good for you…but also a guilty pleasure and comfort.  That’s the wonderful thing about Cuisine Cube…you just never know what to expect from one box to the next.  One cube guarantees a product that is good for a breakfast, lunch, snack, dinner and dessert.  And sometimes, like in the case of January, you get a bonus item.  In this case…another snack.  YAY!

I know, if you’re reading this blog regularly, you are familiar with the service that Cuisine Cube offers…but just in case you are a newbie…first of all…welcome.  Secondly…hop on over to Cuisine Cube’s Web site and take a look at this fantastic service.  This small group of foodies put together a completely gluten-free box of goodness each month with 5-6 products from small, lesser-known artisan producers…some local…some not-quite-so-local.  I’ve discovered so many amazing products after I signed up for this service back in May.  And…you get a cube delivered right to your door each month…starting at $29.99.  So, yeah…I encourage you to check them out.  Have a little surprise each month and enjoy a few products you might never have tried or known about before.  It doesn’t get much better than that.

With that said, the January Cube was packed with a lot of healthy foods.  Seriously.  The dessert was dark chocolate covered rice cakes.  Yes, there will be blog on those soon…stay tuned.  Even the most comforting of foods inside…is healthy-ish!  And I’m okay with this.  But…I’m also dealing with a bit of the winter blues…so when I saw the unassuming cloth pouch of Mary Ann’s Beans Gluten Free White Chili Mix…my brain immediately turned to comfort food.  And with that, I set out to do more than just make the chili and eat it.  You know, reinventing a product is something I love to do.

First, let me talk a little bit about Mary Ann’s Beans.  Chili can be comfort food, but Mary Ann’s Beans is making it a part of a healthy lifestyle.  All of the soup and dip mixes are nutritious and low in sodium.  They have options for vegetarians, gluten-free, and offer all seasoning mixes that are made with no salt, no sugar, and no MSG.  In other words…it’s good for you.  And these soups tastes great too.

Mary Ann's Beans Gluten Free White Chili Mix (dried beans and seasoning packet)

Mary Ann’s Beans Gluten Free White Chili Mix (dried beans and seasoning packet)

Make Mary Ann’s Beans part of your heart healthy lifestyle with our delicious and nutritious low sodium soup mixes. With flavors to please every palate, and options including vegetarian and gluten-free, your whole family will love our soups. Our all natural soup, dip and seasonings mixes are hand made with no salt, no sugar, and NO MSG.  Mary Ann’s Beans most famous mix is the Gluten Free White Chili Mix that was in the January Cuisine Cube.  And, honestly, I can see why!!  These mixes do take some time to make, but, trust me…it’s well worth it.

Mary's Ann's Beans Gluten Free White Chili Mix (beans soaked)

Mary’s Ann’s Beans Gluten Free White Chili Mix (beans soaked)

Last night, I soaked the packet of dried white beans in water.  I drained them and rinsed them.  And then…set out to cook them.  The instructions included on this chili mix package give two ways to cook it…in a slow cooker for 6-8 hours or…on the stove top for 3-4 hours.  I went with the stove top method.  And making this chili is super easy.  The actual instructions do call for chicken, as it is a white chili.  But, as a vegetarian, I just left it out and kept it strictly the beans and the can of chopped green chilies.  I used Vegetarian No-Chicken Broth as well, instead of chicken broth.  Cooking it is time consuming, but it yields amazing results.  With the stove top method, you simply combine the white chili beans, 6 cups of broth (vegetable, non-chicken, chicken…), a 4 ounce can of chopped green chilies, 1-1/2 – 2 cups of boneless cooked chicken (if you are using…if you are a vegetarian like me…it’s fine to leave it out!), and the contents of the spice packet that is included, into a large pot and bring it to a boil.  Reduce the heat, cover, and allow it to simmer for 3-4 hours, or until tender.  I let mine go for about 3-1/2 hours and it was perfect.  Add a bit of salt at the end voila…your chili is ready to eat.

What emerges is this hearty and thick chili that has this light, and slightly spicy taste to it.  White chili is amazing, even without the chicken, and it makes for a beautiful and eye-catching addition to any potluck or chili cook-off.  But I was not just going to cook up this fantastic product and just eat it straight.  You know better than that.  I did, however, take a few spoonfuls to see how it was.  And, let me tell you, Mary Ann’s Beans is doing comforting winter food right.  The flavor is familiar…the texture is hearty and rich…and the spice is a mild heat.  If you like hotter (I do), you can put in jalapenos instead of chilies, but my roommate isn’t a lover of spice, so I kept it mild.  At the end of cooking, I added some salt and a hit of berbere seasoning…and it made pure chili perfection.  If you love chili…you will love this.

Mary Ann's Beans White Chili Mix (prepared)

Mary Ann’s Beans Gluten Free White Chili Mix (prepared)

Let’s talk ingredients, shall we?  Mary Ann’s Beans White Chili Mix is made from great northern beans, navy and yellow eyed beans, dried onions, garlic and spices.  As stated before, these are gluten-free, contain no salt, no sugar, and no MSG.  This mix is also cholesterol free.

One pouch of Mary Ann’s Beans Gluten Free White Chili Mix contains about 6 servings.  One serving will give you 190 calories and 1 gram of fat.  A full serving will also dish up only 10 mg sodium and 1 gram of sugar.  As for being filling…it’s chili…it will be filling.  You get 13 grams of fiber and 12 grams of protein in each serving.  I do love hearty, nutritious, comfort food.  And this is all of that rolled into one.

But wait…there’s more!!  I created an amazing (vegan and gluten-free) ultimate comfort food dish using the prepared Mary Ann’s Gluten Free White Chili Mix.  Trust me, your winter blues will disappear while you dive into this dish.

Recipe: Gluten Free and Vegan Cheddar Chili Cornbread Pasta Bake

Gluten Free and Vegan Cheddar Chili Cornbread Pasta

Gluten Free and Vegan Cheddar Chili Cornbread Pasta Bake

Servings: 6
Time: Prep 4 hours; Cook 30 minutes

Ingredients:

 

  • 1-1/2 cups uncooked gluten-free elbow noodles (I used Meijer Gluten Free Corn Pasta Elbow Noodles)
  • 3/4 cup Daiya Cheddar Style Shreds (if you do dairy…freshly shredded cheddar works!)
  • 2 1/2 – 3 cups of leftover chili (I used Mary Ann’s Beans Gluten Free White Chili)
  • 1 batch of your favorite cornbread (I used gfJules Cornbread Mix)

 

Directions:

Preheat oven to 425° F.

Bring  the water to a boil and prepare the pasta according to the directions on the package, taking about 1-2 minutes off of the cooking time, as the noodles are going into the oven.

While the noodles are cooking, mix up a batch of your favorite cornbread (just the batter…do not cook it!) and get the cheese prepared.

Drain the pasta when it’s ready.

In an 8 x 8 inch baking dish, spray non-stick cooking spray.  Add the pasta to the bottom of the dish.  Then top it with a layer of cheese.  Then add the chili.  Top with the cornbread batter, spreading it evenly over the top with a spoon.  It’s okay if it doesn’t reach the edges.

Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until the cornbread is golden on top and cooked all the way through.  You can use a spoon to lift up the cornbread layer to make sure that it is completely cooked.  Cooking times may vary with the cornbread mixture you use, but keep an eye on it and check it.  The cooking time might increase due to the “wet” layers that are underneath the layer.

Serve immediately.

~*~*~

Oh. My. Gluten. Free. Comfort. Food. Gods.  No…really.  If you love a hearty winter meal, this is the way to go.  I loved the rich flavors that the Mary Ann’s Beans White Chili brought to the dish.  It was the centerpiece…the middle layer…the glue.  And it was an absolutely amazing addition to this entire dish.  When winter has you hiding under the blankets longing for something warm and wonderful to eat…this will definitely fulfill that desire.  Either that…or a big, steaming bowl of just the chili on its own.  However you serve it up…flavorful, creamy, and just…so good!

It was thanks to the amazing products that Mary Ann’s Beans put out and Cuisine Cube sent me that I was able to piece together this hearty, and amazing dinner.  For the record, the gfJules Cornbread Mix (review to follow) is also a product I received from Cuisine Cube in November.  So, as you can see…it is definitely a service worth trying out.  Seriously, your inner foodie will thank you for it.

Product Review: Lotus Foods Heirloom Forbidden Rice

Lotus Foods Heirloom Forbidden Rice

Lotus Foods Heirloom Forbidden Rice

Product: Lotus Foods Heirloom Forbidden Rice – $4.69+

You know, it only seems appropriate that in the February Cuisine Cube (aka: Happy V-Day 2015), a package of Forbidden Black Rice was included.  Nothing compliments the month of L-O-V-E like something that starts with the word forbidden.  Sounds exotic and exciting and…tasty.  Tasty because, well, it’s followed by the word rice!

February is all about love.  And one thing that I love is receiving my Cuisine Cube each month.  I mean, nothing says love quite like a box full of exciting, new, and enticing foods that are new to me and you.  But that’s what Cuisine Cube is all about.  This small group of foodies are searching high and low for gluten free products that aren’t highly processed, that are made by the smaller businesses and companies…and then…they ship these to you…each month.  This subscription is one of the best things I have ever done.  I mean…5-6 items for a month (breakfast, lunch, dinner, snack, dessert…and sometimes an added bonus!)…that’s a fantastic deal.  Seriously, you’ll fall in love with this service as quickly as I did.  I certainly encourage you to give them a try.  With subscriptions starting as low as $29.99…how can you turn that down?

Now, Lotus Foods is not a company that I am unfamiliar with anymore.  A few Cuisine Cube boxes ago, I received two pouches of the Lotus Foods Rice Ramen…and I loved them.  The products produced by Lotus Foods are recognized for their exceptional cooking quality, taste, texture, and superb nutritional value.  The ancient and new rices that compose their products are grown on family farms in limited quantities, on healthy, chemical-free soils.  The rice and rice products that are produced by Lotus Foods are found in specialty gourmet, natural food markets, grocery stores, white tablecloth restaurants throughout the United States, becoming a fast favorite of consumers who are seeking healthier options, as well as chefs and foodies across the country.

How’s that for a recommendation, eh?  So, last time it was noodles…this time…

Lotus Foods Heirloom Forbidden Rice.

Legend has it that heirloom forbidden rice was once eaten exclusively by the Emporors of China.  It is said to enrich health and ensuire longevity.  Forbidden rice is known for it’s beautiful, rich, deep purple color.  It has a soft texture and a slightly nutty taste.  This rice is high in a class of flavonoid antioxidants called anthocyanins, which is rich in iron and considered to be a blood tonifier.  A recent study also shows that a spoonful of black rice brown, or 10 spoonfuls of cooked black rice contains the same amount of antioxidants as a spoonful of fresh blueberries.  How’s that for a healthy powerhouse?  But, let’s not stop there…forbidden rice provides the richest nutritional value, providing higher levels of vitamins and minerals and fiber than any other bran rice, as well as a comprehensive range of amino acids, proteins, vegetable fats, and essential trace elements that are necessary for the body.  It is called “tribute rice” or “longevity rice” and was reserved for the Emperors of the Ming Dynasty to ensure their good health and long life.

Lotus Foods Heirloom Forbidden Rice (cooked)

Lotus Foods Heirloom Forbidden Rice (cooked)

This rice is super easy to prepare.  As I was being a bit nontraditional (shocker, I know) with mine, I ended up soaking my rice for about 30 minutes in water.  And then, I got to cooking it.  I turned on the stove and brought it up to a boil.  Once I had the rice rocking and rolling in the boiling water, I covered the pan and lowered the heat, letting the grain cook for 30 minutes.  When the rice was done, I removed it from the heat and let it sit another 10 minutes.

From there…I fluffed it with a fork and gave it a try.  Because, I had to taste it before it was messed with, yes?  Yes.  LOVE.  I would eat this rice however it was prepared.  On its own, even without any seasoning, it was honestly really good.  There is this great flavor to it.  Yes…the rich nuttiness that they mention above is there.  The rice is soft and just has this great flavor to it.  Don’t let the color dissuade you.  It’s amazing.

So, once I knew what it tasted like, I went and added a bit of sugar, some rice vinegar, and salt.  And BAMMO!  SUSHI RICE!  I let it sit while I was at work and then…tonight…dinner was vegetarian sushi!  Vegetarian sushi made with the Lotus Food Heirloom Forbidden Rice.  It was AMAZING!  The forbidden rice actually did great as the sushi rice.  It held together gorgeously and really made for a pretty sushi roll.  It wasn’t your standard white or brown rice roll. This gave it, not only a great flavor, but also a fantastic look on the plate.  It tasted amazing.  I have enough to do another two rolls as well, so this makes me super happy!

The Lotus Foods Heirloom Forbidden Rice is simply made up of black rice.  It is gluten-free and wheat-free, non-GMO and vegan.  It is love.

As far as nutrition goes, the Lotus Foods Heirloom Forbidden Rice is a powerhouse of nutrients and a great addition to your diet.  One serving is 1/3 cup dry rice.  This serving will give you 200 calories and 2 grams of fat.  A serving of this amazing rice will also give you 0 mg sodium, 175 mg potassium, and 1 gram of sugar.  This rice also gives you 3 grams of fiber and 6 grams of protein.  Filling, tasty, and delicious.  What more could you want?

I was excited that I started seeing some of the Lotus Foods products in my local grocery store.  I haven’t spotted the actual rices like the Lotus Foods Heirloom Forbidden Rice, but this was certainly a great introduction to this product.  And, I have Cuisine Cube to thank for it!

Vegetarian Sushi made with Lotus Foods Heirloom Forbidden Rice

Vegetarian Sushi made with Lotus Foods Heirloom Forbidden Rice

 

Product Review: Earth’s Best Gluten Free Sweet Potato Nuggets

Earth's Best Gluten Free Sweet Potato Nuggets

Earth’s Best Gluten Free Sweet Potato Nuggets

Product: Earth’s Best Gluten Free Sweet Potato Nuggets – $4.99+

We are all young at heart, right?  Right!

At least, that’s what I’m telling myself as I sit here with a box of frozen nuggets that are geared toward, and honestly meant, for children.  HA!  I don’t care.

(You will note I am eating off of Wonder Woman plates so…)

You see, I’ve been craving the hell out of some vegetarian chickenless nuggets.  But, sadly, the only gluten-free and vegan chickenless nuggets I have ever found…are no longer produced by that company.  Which…is really too bad, because they were awesome.  I wish, out of things I’ve stocked in my freezer, had I known those would stop being made, I had stocked my freezer full of them.  For when that weird craving hits.

That being said, the other snowy day while cruising the aisles of Target, I started walking the refrigerator aisles.  In truth, I was searching for the gluten-free Eggo waffles.  Which…I know is all Monsanto, but…I kinda want to find them and try them just once.  Don’t hate.  They didn’t have those, but the bright blue box of Earth’s Best caught my eye.  They had LOTS of great options for children, from gluten-free nuggets (real ones with the clucking chickens and all) to gluten-free French toast sticks (I need to try those too!).  But the box labled “Sweet Potato Nuggets” caught my eye.  I pointed to it…”Those don’t have chicken, do they?”  My roommate opened up the freezer and checked.  Sure enough…made from sweet potato.  No chicken.

Welcome to my freezer little potato nuggets.

And as I’m marathoning (not the running kind…not right now!) Game of Thrones currently as much as possible (halfway through Season 4!), and am without my CSA bin because I was supposed to be out of town last weekend…I’m making due with what I have in my pantry, fridge, and freezer.  And these were in my freezer.  And as I’m trying to move more processed food out, this seemed like a good day to do this (most of what is left is easy breakfast fixings…so…be prepared for easy morning meal time!).

These are so easy to prepare.  Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and place all the nuggets on a pan.  Cook for 15 minutes, turning the nuggets over halfway through.  Let sit for a minute before serving.

I divided the entire box of Earth’s Best Gluten Free Sweet Potato Nuggets between my roomie and I as three nuggets each would not do!  Nope.  It’s okay though…and you’ll see why when you hit that nutrition information below.  What I ended up with was a plate of food…that children will love.  Me, as an adult with a more developed palate…liked these well enough.  But love…nah.  Not quite love.  The breading is really good.  It doesn’t get crispy in the oven, but it does toast up nicely.  Inside the nuggets is this deliciously sweet filling that is primarily sweet potato.  It’s rich and soft and just…flavorful.  My roommate said that they tasted “like those nuggets you would get in TV dinners.”  I didn’t eat TV dinners growing up, so I can’t vouch for that…but if I had eaten TV dinner nuggets…this is probably what they would taste like.  Not bad.  Just…not what I was expecting.  Like I said…the little ones in your life will LOVE these.  I might purchase them again if a nugget craving hits unexpectedly.  Maybe.

The Earth’s Best Gluten Free Sweet Potato Nuggets are made by the Hain Celestial Group.  The sweet potato filling is made from sweet potatoes, egg whites, evaporated cane syrup, rice starch, corn starch, expeller pressed canola oil, non fat milk, sea salt, organic maltodextrin, organic natural butter flavor, spices, dehydrated onion, garlic powder, vitamins & minerals.  The breading around these little potato nuggets is made from dried potatoes, rice flour, salt, spices, dried garlic, dried onion, maltodextrin, natural flavors, expeller pressed canola oil and water.  The batter mix is made from corn starch, yellow corn flour, rice flour, xanthan gum, and spices.  That’s a lot to go into these little nuggets.  I think anyway.  That being said, these nuggets are gluten-free, an excellent source of Vitamin A and beta carotene, fortified with iron, zinc, and 6  B vitamins, and contain no artificial flavors or preservatives.

Let’s talk nutrition.  I am a growing woman, not a child…so my roomie and I ended up splitting the entire box, which is about 18 nuggets in total.  That being said, a serving size is normally 3 of these nuggets.  A regular serving of Earth’s Best Gluten Free Sweet Potato Nuggets will dish up only 120 calories and 4 grams of fat.  A serving will also provide 140 mg sodium and 2 grams of sugar.  These nuggets are cholesterol free.  A serving will also give you 1 gram of fiber and 2 grams of protein.  So, not made to be super filling either.

So, overall…these were…okay.  Not brilliant, but not bad either.  A great way to get children to eat their veggies and get some important nutrients, for sure.  Oh…and they pair well with ketchup.  Just sayin’.

Product Review: Katz Gluten Free Triple Chocolate Donuts

Katz Gluten Free Triple Chocolate Donuts

Katz Gluten Free Triple Chocolate Donuts

Product: Katz Gluten Free Triple Chocolate Donuts – $6.99

I know what you’re thinking.  You’re thinking that I’ve been blogging a lot about chocolate things.  Donuts, cookies, donut holes.  And…honestly, you’d be absolutely correct.  I won’t deny it.  I have nothing to deny.  Because, you see, I’m clearing things out.  I’m making better decisions, but, for the sake of my budget and my pride, I’m going through the items I have…devouring them…then replacing them with better choices.

Hence…the massive blogging on all things…totally not good for me.

That being said, I am certainly enjoying each and every tasting thus far.  Because, I won’t lie, I love donuts and cookies and all that stuff.  It is no secret that I have a sweet tooth…and an addiction to all things delicious…like peanut butter.

And chocolate.

So, what better way to enjoy things like…chocolate…than tripling it?

And that’s what the amazing Katz Gluten Free does with these donuts.  Katz Gluten Free, as many of you know, is one of my favorite gluten-free food providers.  With a line-up of completely gluten free breads, pies, cookies, muffins, cupcakes, pastries, pizza crusts, and yes…donuts…it seems like that have a little bit of everything at a very high standard and quality.  I have never not liked a Katz Gluten Free product.  And, one thing I totally love about Katz Gluten Free is that they offer to send you a free sample pack of their products (you just pay shipping) so you can try out a little bit of what they have to offer.  No, donuts and pies are not included, but other goodies are.  Trust me…it’s worth checking out, if you haven’t already.  And if you have, I believe you can order one sample pack a year…so…feel like revisiting some of Katz Gluten Free standards…reorder!

Now…where was I?

Ah yes…donuts.

Awhile back, I realized that Katz Gluten Free had put out some new donut flavors without me knowing about it.  How I missed this announcement, I don’t know.  So, naturally, I did what any Katz Gluten Free lover does.  I ordered a box of each of them.  And, since then, I have been slowly making my way through them.  The new flavors are all fantastic…and the donuts, as always, are what I expect from Katz.  But…you throw the words Triple Chocolate on there…and…you know you’re going to be WINNING!

The Katz Gluten Free Triple Chocolate Donuts are rich, soft, and gooey (if you warm them up for 20 seconds in the microwave like I do!).  There is nothing a true chocolate lover wouldn’t like about this.  The cake donut is so soft.  I mean, my fork (yes…I eat donuts with a fork…I’m a princess!) sliced right through it.  And it was moist and soft.  Not heavy and dense…and with gluten-free baked goods, that density can be a killer.  This was light and airy and just amazing.  The cake had this rich chocolate decadence to it.  Then, it’s topped off with a dark chocolate frosting…like a smooth ganache.  And…WOW.  Chocolate utopia.  And then…just to add to the awesomeness of this already chocolate-y treat…chocolate chips are sprinkled over the top.  Chocolate euphoria.  It reminded me of the chocolate pudding cake I used to beg my mom to make for me every birthday I had.  Just a chocolate lover’s dream.  I mean…love in every bite.  I’m sad I only have two more days before they are gone from my life.  But…this one was worth saving until last.

Let’s talk about ingredients!  The Katz Gluten Free Triple Chocolate Donuts are made from the Katz Gluten Free Flour Blend (tapioca starch, white rice flour, corn starch), water, palm oil, sugar, eggs, chocolate chips, confection sugar, cocoa, canola oil, baking powder, natural vanilla extract, salt, xanthan gum, agar, calcium carbonate, and calcium sulfate. These are gluten free, dairy free, and soy free.

Now…the hard part.  Nutrition facts.  Nutrition facts on goodies like donuts never look good when put out there.  But…it does help to know what you are putting in your body.  A serving of the Katz Gluten Free Triple Chocolate Donuts is 1 donut.  You might be tempted to eat all 6.  I know I was.  But don’t.  Trust me…don’t.  You’ll regret it in the end.  Stick with one, which…I did.  One donut will provide you with 250 calories and 14 chocolate covered grams of fat.  This one donut will also provide 20 mg cholesterol, 240 mg sodium, and 16 grams of sugar.  It is a definite sugar-laden treat.  Which is why I don’t eat these very often.  And, finally, you will be devouring 1 gram of fiber and 2 grams of protein.  Trust me…this donut will not make you feel full.  I was ready for my snack (an apple, mind you!) at 10 a.m.

Donuts are not evil.  Nope.  In moderation, they make for a fantastic treat.  As I don’t get donuts very often with my dietary restrictions…but when I do, I always hope that it’s a delicious treat that is worth the indulgence.  Let me tell you, Katz Gluten Free always makes it worth the indulgence.  Especially with these.  Triple threat of triple chocolate.  If I revisit any of the new flavors, the Katz Gluten Free Triple Chocolate Donuts will be my choice for sure.

Product Review: Good Girl Gluten Free Mint Slim Cookies

Goodie Girl Gluten Free Mint Slim Cookies

Goodie Girl Gluten Free Mint Slim Cookies

Product: Goodie Girl Gluten Free Mint Slim Cookies – $4.99+

I feel cheated.

This past winter, my holiday Swiss Colony catalog came in…and with it, their Gluten Free and Sugar Free catalog as well.  I usually never purchase anything for myself from Swiss Colony…but I was paging through and saw these new cookies they were offering…Gluten Free Mint Slims.  The photograph looked all the world like what was, once, my favorite Girl Scout Cookie – the Thin Mints.

The description in the catalog read: Refreshing mint cookies with a chocolatey coating are sure to be a family favorite!

I said, “OHMYGODGLUTENFREETHINMINTS!”  And I placed an order.  12 ounces of cookies…for $19.95+tax.

*sigh*

They weren’t going to ship until January 19…so I had a bit of a wait…but one day, my beloved Swiss Colony box arrived at my office and I tore into it…finding two bags (each 6 ounces) of Mint Slims from a company called Goodie Girl Cookies.

Hmmm…

Well, regardless, I ripped into the first bag and dug in.  And then shared some with a select number of people in my office.  And that was that.  I think it wasn’t what I was expecting to arrive.  And now that I am getting around to a review (as I opened up bag #2 yesterday), I find out that these bags are available on the Good Girl Cookies Website for $4.99/bag.  So, yeah…I feel a bit cheated.  Not by Goodie Girl…but by Swiss Colony.

However, what is done is done.  And now you have the long and rather unfortunate tale of Swiss Colony’s betrayal and cheat tactics.  So, let’s get down to the Goodie Girl Gluten Free Mint Slim Cookies, shall we?

Goodie Girl Cookies is based out of Tribeca, New York, specializing in creating gluten-free cookies with surprising flavors, as well as exciting twists on cookie classics to evoke memories of childhood.  Founder, Shira Berk, also a mom and native New Yorker, began her journey to create an all-natural, super-delicious line of cookies that are all gluten-free back in 2010.  Her intention was to create cookies that were intended for anyone to eat, but still be accessible to the 30%-and-growing number of population who had to avoid gluten.  What began in a home kitchen soon grew to be made in a kitchen incubator in Queens, then to another one in Brooklyn, until now, where Goodie Girl Cookies now produces their gluten-free cookies at a contract bakery in Long Island, New York.  An interesting aspect, I would like to point out, is that neither Berk, nor anyone in her family is Celiac, gluten-intolerant, or in need of a gluten-free diet.  Berk And they not only loves to bake, but has created serious buzz around these cookies.

Specifically…the Mint Slims…or their take on the infamous Thin Mint Cookie from those little Girl Scouts.

Growing up, Thin Mint Cookies were my favorite treat.  And as a Girl Scout, we ordered a bunch of boxes all the time for my family.  It was the only flavor of Girl Scout Cookie you would find in my house.  Ever.  There were no others.  So, for the past three years, since going gluten-free, having to bypass the Girl Scouts at the local grocery store has been heart-wrenching.  I see that green box and it’s all I want.  And thanks to Goodie Girl Gluten-Free Cookies…(and for Swiss Colony for now introducing me to Goodie Girl)…they’re back in my life.

So, these aren’t perfect.  The main difference being that the Girl Scout variety is coated in a rich, amazing dark chocolate.  And I LOVE dark chocolate.  The Goodie Girl Gluten Free Mint Slim Cookies are…coated in milk chocolate.  They aren’t quite as rich and sinfully good because of this…but…they are close enough.  Even the people at the office thought so.  And that being said…here’s a bit more on the flavor of these cookies…

The Goodie Girl Mint Slims are crunchy, just like the Girl Scout counterpart.  They have this amazing mint flavor that may rival that of the Girl Scouts for sure.  The coating, for me, however, just was wrong.  It didn’t have the richness that the Girl Scout Thin Mints have.  But, that’s also me, who prefers dark chocolate to mint chocolate any day, so…it’s more of a personal thing than anything.  Other than that…these are spot on.  I had one co-worker wrinkle up her nose when I offered for her to try one, and when she did, she admitted that they tasted just like the Girl Scout Cookies.  Never count a gluten-free copycat out.  EVER!  Sometimes…they are just as good if not better as the original.  I count these as just as good.  Seriously…it hits all the right notes.

The Goodie Girl Gluten Free Mint Slim Cookies are made from chocolate coating (made of sugar, palm kernel, palm oil, cocoa processed with alkali, nonfat dry milk, soy lechithin), sugar, butter, the Goodie Girl Flour Blend (white rice flour, corn starch, tapioca flour, brown rice flour, powdered milk, potato starch, and xanthan gum), cocoa, whole milk, vanilla extract, pure peppermint flavor, baking soda, and salt.  They are…just the right amount of wrong.  In a good way.  A very rock ‘n roll way.

As for nutriton, let’s keep in mind that these are cookies, shall we?  The Goodie Girl Gluten Free Mint Slim Cookies come in a serving of 2 cookies (with 6 servings per bag).  Each serving will give you 160 calories and 9 grams of fat.  These two cookies will also provide you with 10 mg cholesterol, 35 mg sodium, and 12 grams of sugar.  These cookies also provide 1 gram of fiber and 1 gram of protein, meaning they make a perfect non-filling dessert or snack.  Granted, with Girl Scout cookies you get to eat 4 cookies for almost a perfect match in the nutrition area…but beggars can’t be choosers, can we?  I just think the Girl Scout cookies are a bit thinner, maybe less dense on the filling as, weight-wise, a serving of 2 Goodie Girl Mint Slims is 30 grams and 4 Thin Mints from the Girl Scouts is 32 grams.  Light bulb!

If you are a gluten-free cookie monster…er…lover…like me, and if you have been missing those Girl Scout Cookies something fierce, I urge you to hop over to the Goody Girl Web site (not Swiss Colony!) and place an order for the Mint Slims…stat.  Trust me…you won’t regret it.  You’ll never regret cookies.  Especially these.

Product Review: Sonny Marie’s Gluten Free Chocolate Glazed Donut Holes

Sonny Marie's Gluten Free Chocolate Glazed Donut Holes

Sonny Marie’s Gluten Free Chocolate Glazed Donut Holes

Product: Sonny Marie’s Gluten Free Chocolate Glazed Donut Holes – $5.99+

It was a long journey home that day from an afternoon event in Dayton, Ohio.  But, if there is one thing there is always time for, it is a stop into Foodie Heaven (aka: Jungle Jim’s) on the way through Cincinnati, Ohio.  This is one of the most impressive stores you will ever enter.  And you will leave a changed foodie, for sure.

One thing I will hand to Jungle Jim’s…they carry some gluten free products, on shelves and in the freezer, that I haven’t seen anywhere else.  Reason for that – they are often from local Ohio companies.  Love seeing a business help out the little local ones.  For sure.

And, for some reason, that very afternoon, I really, really, really needed to have donut holes in my freezer at home.  I didn’t know this, mind you, until I strolled past the gluten-free freezer area in Jungle Jim’s and saw the little plastic cup that was piled high with the little chocolate balls of cake donut goodness.  Oh…I had to have them.  So…I bought them.  Even though I was doing everything in my power to not purchase items (such as snacks and donuts) on that trip…it happened regardless.  And they made it home and into my freezer…where they remained.

Until this morning.

You see, I’m having a rough weekend.  This is not me being a drama queen.  I really am.  I was supposed to be in Birmingham, Alabama, with good friends of mine, participating in the Mercedes Marathon Weekend.  I knew a few running the half marathon and I was running the full with my training partner, Matthew.  Except winter storms blew through, and while everyone else risked the roads and the weather, I stayed put.  I missed seeing my nephew run in the Kid’s Marathon on Saturday (which meant more to me than anything else), and I’ve just been down and out all weekend.  Seeing my friend’s Facebook feed flooded with pictures of the event hasn’t helped with my mood either.

So it was totally a donut kind of a morning.  And lucky for me…I had a cup full of Sonny Marie’s Gluten Free Chocolate Glazed Donut Holes.

The world might be safe from me yet today…

Sonny Marie’s was created by Christine Coleman, whose son, Danny, was diagnosed with Celiac Disease at the age of 11.  This brought about drastic changes to the family’s lifestyle as they chose to join Danny in his fight against gluten.  It was hard for Coleman to see her son missing out on pizza, cake, donuts and all the other goodies his friends were sharing, which is what inspired her to develop her own donut recipe, so delicious, that even Danny wouldn’t know the difference.  And she crushed it.    Since then, Coleman has worked on expanding on their line of gluten-free products to help others have that “I can’t believe it’s gluten free” moment and not be deprived of the joy of food.

For me…the joy of food this morning was inside this little plastic cup that held 10 little glazed chocolate donut holes.  That, my friends, was bliss this morning.

The Sonny Marie’s Gluten Free Glazed Chocolate Donut Holes are…exactly…as I remember the chocolate glazed Munchkins from Dunkin’ Donuts to taste.  I used to eat the hell out of those, so when I pulled half of these out for me and half for my roommate, I was already feeling better.  They were the perfect size (no skimping) and felt like the perfect density.  After spilling coffee on myself…I returned to finally dig in…

Without even a warmup in the microwave (I let them thaw overnight to get to room temperature), I was hooked with one bite.  Yes…one bite.  First of all…the cake donut was the perfect consistency. Not heavy and dense.  Not light either.  But cakey through-and-through.  So many gluten-free cake donuts are heavy and intimidating…not these.  Not one bit.  The chocolate flavor was rich and delicious and the glaze was melt-in-your-mouth perfection.  Seriously.  Perfection.  I was sad I only had 5 of these to devour.  I probably could have eaten the whole cup on a morning like today.  Good thing I have friends who help keep me from over-indulging on treats.  Oh, but these were so good.  Mighty tasty.  I didn’t even care that my breakfast was mostly sweetness and sugar…and then…I still didn’t care.  Chocolate is a girl’s best friend on days like today…and this one just comforted me.  For the moments of breakfast…I was content.  I even licked the glaze off my fingers when I was done.  Good to the very last bite.

Sonny Marie’s Gluten Free Chocolate Glazed Donuts are produced in her Coleman’s home.  It is even labeled as such.  That being said, they are made in a facility that uses peanuts and pecans, so if you have a hyperactive nut allergy…these might not be for you.  Nuts are one of the few things I happen to not be allergic to.

The Sonny Marie’s Gluten Free Chocolate Glazed Donuts are made from sugar, rice drink, molasses, white flour, mechanically pressed organic palm oil, egg, potato starch, cocoa, tapioca flour, sweet rice flour, baking powder, vanilla bean extractives in water, alcohol (35%) salt, apple cider vinegar, xanthan gum, and cinnamon.

As these are produced at home, I cannot give you nutritional information as none is provided on the packaging.  But, I’d say close to what the Chocolate Glazed Munchkin’s run at Dunkin’ Donuts.  Give or take a few calories and fat.  Hey…they’re donuts.  Indulge or don’t.

My theory in life is…every now and again, you have to treat yourself.  I was having a bad morning…so, I treated myself.  I don’t eat donuts or donut holes every day…but these were beyond worth the splurge.  Sonny Marie’s products are available in many local shops in and around the Cincinnati area, including Jungle Jim’s.  Make the journey…because these are totally worth eating.  I wish I had purchased another cup of them.

WOW!

Sonny Marie's Gluten-Free Chocolate Glazed Donut Holes

Sonny Marie’s Gluten-Free Chocolate Glazed Donut Holes

Product Review: CraveRight Gluten Free Jumbo Sesame Crunch Cookie

CraveRight Gluten Free Sesame Crunch Cookie

CraveRight Gluten Free Sesame Crunch Cookie

Product: CraveRight Gluten Free Jumbo Sesame Crunch Cookie – $3.99

I was so lucky this past Christmas, to be given one of my favorite gifts – a $50 Whole Foods Gift Card.  I vowed to only purchase products I have been meaning to try and just haven’t been able to “justify” for my tight weekly budget.  So, soon after the New Year passed, I decided to do a first round of product sweeping.

Now, naturally gluten free foods (fruits and veggies) I get delivered to my door.  Unless I have cancelled my CSA bin that week, I am pretty set on those.  And while I am doing much more clean eating these days, I decided to venture over to all those snack foods that are what all gluten-free people get stuck with.  Cookies, chips, candy…

Whoever said eating gluten-free will make you lose weight has never walked through the gluten-free sections of their local grocery or natural food stores.  Just sayin’.

And with that being said…we also know that the women in my family have quite the sweet tooth.  Oh yes…we all do come by it honestly.  And while for some people it’s cakes and cupcakes that they want…for me, it’s always been the simple, yet ultimately delicious…COOKIE.  Call me cookie monster, because I love cookies.  All types of cookies.  I have my favorites, sure, but…cookies are my kryptonite.

Well, there I was, perusing the aisles I had been skipping whenever in Whole Foods, when the giant cookies near the bottom shelf sort of just…sang to me.  It was a brand I was unfamiliar with – CraveRight.  So, I leaned down and picked one up…noting that these were not just gluten free, but also dairy free, soy free, egg free, nut free, and corn free.  They used no flours or starches, and actually was billing itself as a “natural meal replacement.”  Really?  A cookie?  There were three flavors of the jumbo cookies – Sesame Crunch, Chocolate Chunk, and Brownie Chocolate Chunk.  Next to them were cookie packs of the same cookies, smaller scale, more inside.  My roommate said, “get one of the big ones…just in case we don’t like them.”  Okay…good point.  I was all set for that Brownie Chocolate Chunk and I somehow let her talk me into the Sesame Crunch.  “You don’t often see sesame cookies!”  That was her thoughts on that matter.  And…I went along with it.  And this CraveRight Gluten Free Jumbo Sesame Crunch Cookie…made it home with me.

CraveRight was created in 2009, creating “crave-worthy cookies that don’t sabotage wellness goals but reinforce them.”  Tired of seeing so-called “healthy snacks” that weren’t really that good for you being sold on the market – many of which could not be eaten by people with food allergies and intolerances, and the taste all wrong – Roya S. came up with the idea of creating delicious, healthy treats – specifically their specialty – their 100% vegan, gluten-free, and nut-free cookies.  All of the cookies are baked and prepared in a dedicated gluten-free and nut-free facility so cross-contamination is not a problem.  CraveRight cookies are baked up being packaed with antioxidants and essential amino acids.  Not only that, they are proud that their cookies contain no empty-calorie ingredients – no flours, starches or fillers.  The CraveRight cookies are rich in iron and calcium, and low in sodium as well.  And, the company sources their ingredients from nearby, making sure that the ingredients are minimally processed (without chemicals) and made with only the finest of ingredients, free of contaminants.

Which, all sounds really good on paper, right?  But how do they taste?

I can only vouch for the CraveRight Gluten Free Jumbo Sesame Crunch Cookie…which I split with my roommate last night for dessert.  You know, I was having a bad day…I just ate an amazing comfort food dinner and was all set for dessert.  I grabbed the CraveRight Gluten Free Jumbo Sesame Crunch Cookie off my counter and declared it to be dessert.  If anything could make me feel better, it would be a cookie, right?

So, as is typical with huge cookies…I cut it in half and gave one side to my roommate while claiming the other for myself.  I climbed back onto the couch, restarted the episode of Game of Thrones I was watching, and took my first bite.

And I think my nose wrinkled up a little bit.  But it was only one bite.  Maybe my palate just needed cleansing.  So, I gave it another taste.  Nope.  This was not a cookie I was enjoying.  The CraveRight Gluten Free Jumbo Sesame Crunch Cookie was everything I didn’t like about a cookie.  The texture was crumbly.  I’m fine with a bit of crunch on my cookie, but I don’t want it to crumble when I try to eat it.  I have no kitchen or dining room table in my apartment, and I don’t want to have to vacuum my couch after dessert, thank you very much.  The flavor lacked sweetness.  I mean, regardless of whether a cookie is billed as a “healthy meal replacement” or not, I want it to taste like a cookie.  And this didn’t.  It tasted like…a snack.  Like those savory sesame sticks that were put into snack mixes and most people skipped eating.  I think I was expecting something like a sunbutter cookie…a little more richness and depth of flavor, but that’s not what I got at all.  They were bland and rather…tasteless.  That bit of sesame came through in the end, but that’s about all I can say about that.  It was not a winning cookie in my book, and we know I eat lots of cookies.  The part near the middle was slightly chewy, but everything else was just…wrong.  I wasn’t a fan at all.

Neither was my roomie.

As far as what goes into the CraveRight Gluten Free Jumbo Sesame Crunch Cookies…it seems rather basic.  So…that is good.  These cookies are made from sesame seeds, palm shortening, demerara sugar, tahini, sesame powder, water, chicory extract, flax meal, baking soda, baking powder, and sea salt.  Not actually a bad list of ingredients.

It’s just too bad they didn’t come together to form a cohesively delicious cookie.

Since the CraveRight Gluten Free Sesame Crunch Cookie is billed as a “natural meal replacement” and carries the sentiment “Crave One. Eat Two.” on each package, let’s really focus for a moment on these nutritional facts.  A serving size of the CraveRight Gluten Free Jumbo Sesame Crunch Cookie is 1/2 of the cookie.  Yes…half.  This half will deliver 170 calories and 13 grams of fat.  These cookies are cholesterol free, have only 90 mg sodium per serving and only 5 grams of sugar.  One serving will also give you 3 grams of fiber and 6 grams of protein.  I still don’t think I’d eat a cookie instead of my dinner though.  Just sayin’.

So, color me unimpressed and highly disappointed.  I was not at all craving another bite of the CraveRight Gluten Free Sesame Crunch Cookie.  In fact, it was a struggle just to get the half I had finished.  It wasn’t what I wanted in a cookie at all, “healthy” or not.  Beyond disappointed.  I felt cheated out of my dessert last night.

You win some, you lose some.

CraveRight Gluten Free Jumbo Sesame Crunch Cookie

CraveRight Gluten Free Jumbo Sesame Crunch Cookie

Product Review: Element Dark Chocolate Rice Cakes

Element Dark Chocolate Rice Cakes

Element Dark Chocolate Rice Cakes

Product: Element Dark Chocolate Rice Cakes – $1.99+

It came inside the New  Year 2015 (aka: January Cube) Cuisine Cube.  It is the height of New Year’s Resolutions and it seemed that that box, in particular, was aimed at new beginnings and healthier choices.  God, I love that theme.  Because I love making healthier decisions about things I do and what I eat.  Granted, I do treat myself here and there, but that’s not only human…that’s normal.  But with the theme of New Year Resolutions in January, a lot of what was inside was on the healthier side.  Love it.  Yes…even dessert.

But…I’m jumping ahead.  Because first I need to tell you a thing of two about Cuisine Cube!  Cuisine Cube is a subscription service that brings a surprise to your doorstep each month.  This unassuming brown box arrives and is packed with an assortment of hand-picked gluten-free goodies, featuring imported and local goods, from smaller artisan companies…rather than the larger gluten-free corporations you find on every grocers shelves these days.  You will receive treats for breakfast, lunch, dinner, snack, dessert…and sometimes…an added bonus.  Each month  you receive a themed cube of some sort, with only gluten-free items inside.  Love it!  Subscriptions start as low as $29.99.  And, trust me, you’ll wonder what you did before it was in your life.

January = Healthy Life Healthy You…New Year…New Start…so…let’s get healthy, yes?  YES!!  I stand 100% behind this theme.

Well, what says healthy dessert like…rice cakes?  Right?  Yes?  Excited?  No?  Why not?  You should be.  Because in the January Cuisine Cube, I found my dessert choice to be Element Dark Chocolate Rice Cakes.  Yep.  Dark chocolate covered rice cakes.  Now…does that sound a little more like dessert?  Yeah…I thought so.

If not…stay with me…

Element Snacks was created by Nadia and Fred, both of whom hail from Europe (Nadia from Italy and Fred from Sweden).  They both grew up on real food, no Twinkies or Kool-aid.  They believe in feeling great and nurturing our bodies and minds at the same time.  They also believe that food should be simple…yet flavorful.  It doesn’t mean we have to be 100% all the time.  We’re human.  But, we can control what we splurge on, and if something tastes like a treat, but carries some healthy benefits with it…well…added bonus.

Enter…Element Dark Chocolate Rice Cakes.  These are just what they sound like, rice cakes, made from non-GMO Italian rice, that are coated with premium Italian Chocolate.  Everything in this treat is naturally nutritious and good for you.  These chocolate coated snack cakes are gluten-free, vegan, contain no hydrogenated oils, no trans fats, no high fructose corn syrup, no yeast, no preservatives and are non-GMO.  Oh yeah…loving every word of that, how about you?

So, it all sounds good in theory, yes?  But how is it really?

AMAZING!!  Yes…I know, I am the girl who gets excited about rice cakes…but even Cathy (the roomie!) liked this one.  The rice cake tastes savory, without any salt.  But it is that layer of chocolate that just makes these explode with flavor.  Cathy said, “drizzle dark chocolate on anything…”  HAHA!!  Truth.  These are so amazing.  Delicious.  Nutritious.  And YUM!!  Dark chocolate only sweetenes the deal.  SOLD!  I only wish I had more.

Let’s talk ingredients.  It doesn’t get more simple than this.  The Element Dark Chocolate Rice Cakes are made from 60% dark chocolate, 40% rice cakes (wholegrain brown rice, rice).  Yep.  That’s it.  That easy.  Real ingredients.  Real food.

How about nutrition?  Well, a serving of Element Dark Chocolate Rice Cakes is 1 rice cake.  This one chocolate coated delight will serve up 80 calories and 4 grams of fat.  This one rice cake will provide you with 20 mg sodium and 5 grams of sugar.  Love that.  They are cholesterol free.  And, finally, you will be taking in 1 gram of fiber and 1 gram of protein.  So, these won’t fill you up, but you will have the sweet and savory taste to leave you feeling fulfilled.

I give huge kudos to Element Snacks and to Cuisine Cube for these delightful, and surprisingly delicious treats.  As a known lover of rice cakes, this just took them to the next level.  I think I’m in love.  With a healthy dessert.  We all win.

Product Review: Danny Macaroons Plain & Chocolate Macaroons

Danny Macaroons Plain  & Chocolate Macaroons

Danny Macaroons Plain & Chocolate Macaroons

Product: Danny Macaroons Plain & Chocolate Macaroons – $8.50+

Ah…the battle is real.  Me…versus coconut.  I sometimes love it.  I sometimes hate it.  It is all in the context of how it is utilized in whatever it is I am eating.  Which means…I have this charming love/hate relationship with anything coconut.  And that’s how it is.  I will either love it…or hate it.

For me, a lot of where coconut goes wrong is the texture.  Some people are okay with it…but if it isn’t baked into something enough, coconut can sort of taste like…your chewing dead bugs.  Not that I’ve ever made a habit of chewing dead bugs…that’s just the mouthfeel I get from raw coconut.  Or…at times…things with coconut on/in them.

So…enter my latest dessert challenge from Cuisine Cube!

Before I go any further…let me introduce, or for some of you, reacquaint you with Cuisine Cube.  Cuisine Cube is a gluten-free subscription box that specializes in pantry and meal items.  This is actually a very nice change of pace from other subscription boxes, as those tend to be more snack oriented.  With Cuisine Cube, you get 5-6 items in each box…always a breakfast, lunch, dinner, snack, and dessert item.  And…at times…a bonus!  And we all love bonuses, right?  Subscriptions start at $29.99…so head over to their site and check them out.  You’ll be glad you did.

I haven’t looked back yet!  Loving my monthly box of surprise goodies.

This most recent Cuisine Cube, the Happy V-Day 2015 (aka: February) cube, had a lot to offer.  But, naturally, I went straight for dessert.  Because…sweet tooth.  Hello!  And this month, the dessert was brought to us by a local New York City bakery known for…macaroons!!  I’m talking about Danny Macaroons, which has been featured in Food & Wine Magazine, ABC News, The Chicago Tribune, Serious Eats, the New York Post, and more!  They are the premier coconut macaroon producer in New York City, proud of their “super delicious, gourmet, handmade coconut macaroons.”  In fact, Danny Macaroons offers over 45 flavors, so there is bound to be something for someone…even coconut lovers/haters like me.

And they might be right.

This week, with all the snow and sub-zero, my original plan to make my own dairy free ice cream…or raid the two items of dairy free ice cream I have in my freezer…went out the door.  Trust me…I can eat ice cream anytime…but…I was cold.  Just cold.  So I wanted something…not cold.  That being said…I went to the pantry and went through items that I had that would make a good dessert.  I had a few cookie options, so I went ahead and snagged the little container of four macaroons that came in my recent Cuisine Cube.  I’m not the biggest lover of macaroons…but some have won me over.  So, it was worth the try.  I asked my roomie if she wanted to do the chocolate or the plain ones first.  To my surprise, she said chocolate.  I figured chocolate would be winning…and said I would have done it the other way around…but went with her decision.

Round 1:  Danny Macaroons Chocolate Macaroon – Oh…this was good.  This was damn good.  While it had that weird coconut texture, I was able to overlook it because of the delicious chocolate.  It was decadent and light and fluffy…and just…amazing.  The right hit of sweetness from the chocolate and a bit from the toasted coconut.  It was soft and made to perfection.  I was in love.

Round 2: Danny Macaroons Plain Macaroons – Okay…so this one fell flat for me…and here’s why.  It was too much coconut.  Yep.  Too much.  Flavor.  Texture.  Nothing to really cut it.  It was toasted to perfection and light and amazing…but the coconut just took over.  And, while I get that macaroons are coconut…it was just too much for me.

So…you win one…you lose one.  How’s that?

Danny Macaroons Plain & Chocolate Macaroons are made from sweetened coconut, sweetened condensed milk, chocolate, egg whites, pure bourbon vanilla extract, and salt.

This package did not have any of the nutritional information…but…they are a dessert treat.  Treat it as such.  Take one now…save the rest for later.  BAH…who am I to tell you how to eat your treats?!  Right?!  What works for me doesn’t work for the macaroon lover who scarfed all four in one sitting.  And that’s okay.  It is, after all, a sweet treat!

Seriously, if coconut and macaroons are your thing, then you will absolutely fall in love with Danny Macaroons.  Honestly, when it comes to the macaroons I have tried…these have been some of the best.  Despite the handicap of my love/hate relationship with coconut, they still acted as a fantastic, light dessert after two meals this week.  I think if you’re looking for a healthy, coconutty treat…these are for you.  And with all the flavors on their site…what’s not to love.  Next time…I hope I get Salted Caramel.  That being said, this wasn’t a complete flop.  Coconut lovers will flock to these…so Cuisine Cube totally has that down in this dessert option.  For people like me…well…it wasn’t a throw away for sure.  In fact, I actually really enjoyed the chocolate one.  Just goes to show…everything is better with chocolate.