Product: Annie’s Homegrown Gluten-Free Rice Shells with Creamy White Cheddar – $3.59+
Oh…your eyes did not deceive you there. You read that right. Shells. And. Cheese. Just like the old days, yes? You know…when you could crack open a box of Velveeta Shells and Cheese and cook it up within 20 minutes and just dive right in and indulge that part of you that just craves, craves, craves that oh-so-good-but-oh-so-bad-for-you comfort food. Hey…sometimes you just have to have it.
Nevermind the fact that this sort of comfort food comes in…a box.
I know…I’m not a huge fan of packaged pastas as it is…but when you live a busy life, such as I do, sometimes cooking everything from scratch just isn’t feasible. I have races to run, group runs to get to, and sometimes, long nights at the office, or workouts to do before I can finally settle in for food. My life is pretty much lived around my training schedule and extracurricular activities.
So, sometimes, dinner does come from a box. Or a package. It just…it has to at times. But I’m very particular about what sort of processed and packaged food makes it into my home. The nutrition information is scoured for certain things. As well as whether or not the item shares equipment with products that my body cannot handle.
I had never seen Annie’s Homegrown Gluten-Free Rice Shells with Creamy White Cheddar until I was visiting my grandpa in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Their local Cub Foods had it on their gluten-free shelves. It really made me so excited that I ended up buying a box of it and bringing it back to Indiana with me. And, of course, now at quite a few of my natural food grocery stores, I can find this without trouble. But at the time…this was brand new to me…and I totally had to have it in my life.
But, of course, I didn’t get around to eating it until…well…tonight. The expiration date was still a couple months off, but I needed an easy meal tonight. Originally I was to go on a Boston Marathon commemorative run, however, the weather kicked up a storm. But since my dinner was already started on the stove top…I was committed. So, I got some broccolini roasting in the oven while the water came up to a boil. I dumped the small rice shells into the water and gave it a stir. These shells took 8 minutes to reach the perfect al dente. I drained them, then let them sit in the colander while I put 3 tablespoons of unsweetened almond milk into the pan and poured in the white cheddar powder that was provided. I stirred and stirred until it was well mixed and then added the pasta back in. Another round of stirring to coat the shells and dinner was ready to be served. I pulled out the broccolette to serve on the side and then dished up a bowl of Annie’s Gluten-Free Rice Shells with Creamy White Cheddar for both myself and my roomie.
She dug in first, and said that it was pretty good. Like most things made with white cheddar, the flavor was a bit milder than usual, but she said it was creamy and good. So, I picked up my bowl and got my plate of broccolini and settled in for my own dinner. Taste time. Moment of truth.
Cathy was absolutely right. The small shells not only cook fast, but they are light and easy to eat. I love that they didn’t expand in size. The cute little shells were just perfect for each little spoonful that I took. The white cheddar, despite being from a powder, actually was quite amazing and delicious. It coated the shells with a light sauce that had a mild tang of cheddar. While this does contain dairy, my lactose intolerance doesn’t go crazy because it can handle small amounts without problem. And this sauce reminded me so much of alfredo…without the fat…that it just sort of…made me happy.
The fact that I was eating a macaroni and cheese with small shells and white cheddar, which I didn’t make myself, which was ready within 15 minutes…made me so stupidly happy. I love mac and cheese…and this was shells and white cheddar, a very rare treat when you have to eat gluten-free. You either make it yourself or go without. Now…I don’t have to.
Nutritionally speaking, this comfort food isn’t too bad for you at all. One serving, or half of the box, will only set you back 330 calories and 4.5 grams of fat. For being a packaged meal, the sodium is rather low (490 mg). And this offers a kick of 7 grams of protein in a serving. That’s awesome. So, overall, comfort food that you don’t feel too guilty about eating. LOVE that.
So in love with this product. So, perhaps packaged goods aren’t always an awful thing. Sure, made from scratch is best, but when time and life keeps you on the go…easy and simple is best. Thanks to Annie’s Homegrown Rice Shells with Creamy White Cheddar, I can eat the comfort foods I love, keeping it gluten-free, and rather healthy when all is said and done. Combine that with the fact that this product is a fantastic source of Vitamin B6, a good source of calcium, is vegetarian, has no artificial flavors, synthetic colors, or preservatives. And…no trans fat either. Loving it. The cheese that is used in the powder comes from cows that are not treated with the growth hormone rBST.
Happiness can come in a box…especially a box that has white cheddar inside to coat delicate little gluten-free pasta shells. Comfort food taken to happier levels.