Restaurant Review: Caffe Coco, Kapaa, Hawaii

Caffe Coco, Kapaa, Hawaii
Caffe Coco, Kapaa, Hawaii

Restaurant: Caffe Coco, Kapaa, Hawaii

Today was one of the best days I have had in Hawaii.  Oddly enough, it also falls on the day that I was supposed to run the Kauai Marathon.  And given the circumstances, that would be a huge bummer.  And it was.  It really, really was.  But, to take my mind off of the situation, Cathy had a plan to drive up to the North Side of Kauai and spent the afternoon at Hanalei Beach.

Happiness is me and a beach.  And thanks to my ankle, doing fun beach-y things aren’t easy for me.  So, while my roommate gets to paddle around in the surf…I’ve been strolling the beach a little…carefully and slowly…wishing that the currents and waves were a little easier for me to swim around in, but the injury is a little too new at the moment.  Sometimes standing on the beach is a struggle.  But that was the day.  We packed up just before the heavy rains hit and went and grabbed some shaved ice from JoJo’s Shave Ice while waiting for it to lighten up.  When it became evident that it wasn’t happening, we decided to go driving to a scenic place to wait it out because dinner was to be up on the North Side.  When that looked like it wasn’t going to happen, we opted to drive back down to Kapaa before roads were flooded and figure out dinner somewhere down here.

One place we had been eyeing last night before deciding on pizza was this great place called Caffe Coco.  Caffe Coco is a quaint cottage cafe with an outdoor garden setting on the island of Kauai.  This adorable little restaurant strives to serve Island grown produce, fresh Island fish, organic chicken, and whatever else that will help support local farmers.  LOVE that.  This restaurant specializes in vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free.  Making it ideal for me.  BUT…that being said, they do serve a few dishes that offer a seafood or chicken option.  A little something for everyone!

We all finally decided that we were a little hungry after assessing sunburns (Jenn and I got nailed today!) and putting some aloe after sun gel on it.  Hoping that helps ease the sting and cuts down on the redness.  So…we headed out for the short drive down to Caffe Coco, being greeted upon entering and being shown to seats out in their cute garden setting.  We immediately loved the quirky, free, hippy-ish setting, the glass that coated the ground and the rustic setting.  It was a very happy place for me.  We had glasses of water poured while we browsed the menu.  And soon, our waitress came over and asked if we had any questions regarding the menu, but by that point, we had it all pretty figured out.

Caffe Coco Jamaican Jerk Chicken
Caffe Coco Jamaican Jerk Chicken

So, orders went in.  Jenn decided on the Organic Pasta Shrimp Fresca ($28.00) which is organic pasta and shrimp tossed with local tomatoes, basil, white wine, Parmesan, balsamic reduction and served with a green salad and garlic toast.  Cathy got the Jamaican Jerk Organic Chicken ($28.00), served with purple sweet potatoes, coconut creamed kale, pineapple salsa and server with a green salad.

As for me…I went with two of the Starters listed on the menu.  The first was a cup of the Thai Curried Pumpkin Soup ($5.00) and the Vietnamese Summer Rolls ($10.00) with organic greens and a peanut sauce.  And after seeing it come out, I also decided to add their Hibiscus Iced Tea ($4.00) to my meal as well.

We could see the kitchen from where we were sitting and could hear the fuss with the chefs.  Turns out a 20 person wedding party was set to arrive and they were working on getting out food to clear everything down to be prepared for the wedding orders.  It was a little chaotic, but everything came out to the waiting tables, and all of it looked great.  And soon…ours came out as well.

Everything looked and smelled amazing.  Jenn’s shrimp and pasta looked amazing…and she said the sauce with the garlic toast was phenomenal.  Not to mention, they didn’t skimp on the shrimp, but served her up a perfect number and all a great size.  No small shrimp here.  No way.  Cathy fell in love with her meal at first bite, but LOVED the creamy sauce that everything was set in.  That was her favorite part for sure.  But it looked amazing.  And colorful to say the least.  She said it was spicy without being overly spicy and ‘tasty.”  She was in a happy place for sure.

As for mine.  HOLY COW!!  LOVE.  Just pure love.  I loved everything about each dish.  The soup had this rich depth of flavor.  I loved the floating pepitas that were resting on top and the various onions and creaminess that came with each bite.  Just…YUM!!  I ended up saving most of this to the last bite.  The Vietnamese Summer Rolls were delicious.  Packed with greens laying in this delicious peanut butter and sriracha sauce.  You brought me a bowl of peanut butter…I’m now a very happy girl.  It paired well with the organic greens and veggies that were stuffed into each roll.  And I devoured every last bite…and every last bit of that sauce.  This was amazing, delicious food.  Happy place…discovered.

We were given a dessert list to look at, being told that the pudding was vegan and gluten free…and the brownie and chocolate chip cookie were gluten-free as well.  They were out of their homemade ice cream at the moment.  We considered it for a brief moment, but decided we were ready to call it a day and we would return to the resort for the Macadamia Nut Hershey’s Kisses we had stashed there.

OH…yeah!!  That soup was one of the best things I have ever eaten.  I was beyond happy and satisfied…and we all left there content and full…without being too full.  Love is definitely finding a great place to eat that honestly has a little something for anyone and everyone.  And I felt completely comfortable eating there.  Even moreso when the check arrived and my order was circled with a note that read: “**Celiac & Dairy Allergy**”.  Oh yeah…that was so nice to see.  It means they take their customer’s dietary needs to heart.

Everything was delicious and we all left happy plates and walked out comfortably full.  Feeling good about our meal choice and loving the food we ate.  This was one of the best places on the Island of Kauai.  It might seem pricey, but the food is worth the stop and the price.  You will not be disappointed.  I was beyond impressed with service and food.

I’d go back again in a heartbeat.  Hell, I’d go back tomorrow!

Caffe Coco's Thai Pumpkin Curry Soup and Vietnamese Summer Rolls with Organic Greens and Peanut Sauce
Caffe Coco’s Thai Pumpkin Curry Soup and Vietnamese Summer Rolls with Organic Greens and Peanut Sauce

Recipe: Tomato-Miso Soup

If there is one thing that I love almost as much as breakfast…it’s soup.  I am a soup junkie.  I will eat soup at any time of the year…even in the summer.  I think it can be the most perfect meal.  And, when made right, it can be quite good for you too.

I bought some white miso paste a few weeks ago to use in an eggplant recipe and had quite a bit still left over in the fridge.  I was interested in what I might be able to make with it…and that’s when Food & Wine Magazine sent through one of their recipe e-mails, and this one was timely, indeed.

This Tomato-Miso Soup both light and hearty…and definitely healthy.  It became one of my favorite lunches I have brought to work thus far.  And it’s made from real ingredients…which makes it even better.  The flavor is earthy and sweet…bringing this fantastic balance.  And the star…the shiitake mushrooms.

Recipe: Tomato-Miso Soup

Tomato-Miso Soup
Tomato-Miso Soup

Servings: 6
Time: 10 minutes; Cook 15 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1/2 pound shiitake mushrooms, stems discarded, caps thinly sliced
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 4 1/2 cups water
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup light miso paste (shiro)
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce (I used reduced sodium tamari)
  • 3/4 pound soft tofu, cut into 1-inch dice
  • 3 large scallions, thinly sliced
  • 6 small to medium radishes, thinly sliced

 

Directions:

Heat the oil in a large saucepan.

Add the mushrooms and garlic and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute.

Cover and cook over low heat, stirring a few times, until the mushrooms are tender, about 6 minutes.

Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring, for 1 minute.

Pour in the water, stir well and bring to a boil.

Add the tomatoes, cover and simmer over low heat for 5 minutes.

Whisk in the miso and soy sauce and return to a simmer.

Add the tofu and simmer for 2 minutes.

Ladle into bowls, garnish with the scallions and radishes and serve.

~*~*~

I loved everything there was about this soup.  There were so many textures, and this bold flavor, thanks to the miso.  The radishes and scallions added before eating brought a bit of crunch, while the mushrooms gave this soup a meatiness to it, without any actual meat.  I can’t wait to make this one again.  If you have a great love of soup and rich flavors without simmering it all day…this is the soup for you.

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

 

Restaurant Review: Wasabi Japanese Steakhouse and Seafood, Charleston, South Carolina

Wasabi Japanese Steakhouse and Seafood, Charleston, South Carolina
Wasabi Japanese Steakhouse and Seafood, Charleston, South Carolina

Restaurant: Wasabi Japanese Steakhouse and Seafood, Charleston, South Carolina

This past weekend, I found myself enjoying my time in South Carolina.  Not just anywhere though…but the beautiful and historic city of Charleston.  I was going there to run in the Charleston Marathon…and then explore with Cathy (my roommate), and my friends Amanda (roomie’s sister) and Richie (Amanda’s hubby).  Now, I’ve never been to Charleston, South Carolina…but this is Amanda and Richie’s favorite place to spend their time.  So when they have time…this is their stomping grounds.  When they originally heard that I was running the Charleston Marathon, they were very helpful in suggesting things to do while in Charleston.  And shortly after leaving their home, Richie called and said they just booked a room at the resort and would be going with us.  I was elated.  Nothing like going somewhere with people who know the city.  I was so excited.

So, we arrived late on Friday night and had to do a bunch of pre-race stuff.  Saturday I ran the marathon.  Afterwards, I usually can’t stand to stomach anything for a little while.  My insides are just all messed up.  I mean, come on, running over 26.2 miles will do that to you.  So, I went back to the hotel, showered, and then Amanda came over.  We settled in as I gave some Greek yogurt a try (for the protein).  That stayed down…so I knew I could safely do something for lunch…as long as it was easy to digest and not too heavy.

We had mentioned sushi…and that sounded like something I could handle.  And, literally just across the street and up a block was the place we went for said sushi…Wasabi!

We stepped inside and were greeted by the hostess, who I think at the time was unwrapping a snack in the nearby closet.  She apologized and picked up three menus, carrying them over to a booth near a window that overlooked the street.  We settled into the table and began to peruse said menu.  I am BIG on vegetarian sushi.  Cathy…not liking much fish in sushi was also looking at vegetarian options.  Amanda…she was just trying to decide on what classic roll to get.  She’s the non-vegetarian traditionalist who isn’t afraid of some fish in her roll.  I asked how many rolls we were getting.  Amanda, the regular, said she usually got two.  So, I began making decisions based off of that.  But the more they talked, the more it sounded like everyone was getting one roll.  And Cathy seemed interested in the same one as me.  HA!  Knew that was going to happen.

Then, Amanda came up with a great suggestion…we could all get one roll each and then split the roll Cathy wanted to try three ways.  Amanda is brilliant like that, for real.  So, when our waiter returned and was prepared to take our order, we had an idea of what we wanted.

Amanda chose between the two she was eying and ended up ordering the California Roll ($5.00).  With the decision made to order an extra roll of the one I had my heart set on, Cathy went off the beaten path and ordered the Calamari Tempura Roll ($6.00).  As for me…I went with the Avocado Maki Roll ($5.00).  Then, we ordered a second Avocado Maki Roll to split between the three of us.  Order was in…now we just sort of sat at our booth and talked about the city and what Amanda had in store for us.

Pretty soon, our sushi rolls were arriving.  And we were more than happy to dig in.  There was nothing stand-out or noteworthy of this sushi just looking at it.  It was perfectly rolled nori, surrounding perfectly packed rice and our filling.  Cathy commented that her calamari was giving her the finger…so she set out to devour it before it could insult her further.  HA!  That’s what happens when your food has appendages and the like.  By the steady stream of “Mmmm”…we definitely enjoyed what we were having.

I must say…the 8 slices of the Avocado Maki Roll I had from Wasabi Japanese Steakhouse and Seafood were absolutely delicious.  A little creamy with the fullness of the rice and the texture of the nori.  Mmmm…seriously good.  I topped each of my slices of with some of the pickled ginger and a touch of the wasabi offered on the side of the plate.  It was sheer perfection in roll form.  Honestly…amazing.  I mean…nothing that any other good sushi place couldn’t do…but it had been forever since I had sushi…and this settled perfectly into my marathon stomach.  Lots of flavor and great texture.  The avocado was perfectly ripe.  It was a heavenly slice of sushi roll for sure.

I was so happy with this place.  Amanda had recommended it because it was gluten-free friendly.  And it left me wanting to go back for more.  I, sadly, didn’t have enough time this time around, but when I return…it will definitely be a stop.  If you’re visiting Charleston, South Carolina…and you love sushi…go and try Wasabi Japanese Steakhouse and Seafood!!  Simple food, but done really, really well!

Wasabi's Avocado Maki Roll
Wasabi’s Avocado Maki Roll

Product Review: Feel Good Foods Gluten-Free Vegetable Egg Rolls

Feel Good Foods Gluten-Free Vegetable Egg Rolls
Feel Good Foods Gluten-Free Vegetable Egg Rolls

Product: Feel Good Foods Gluten-Free Vegetable Egg Rolls – $4.99+

Yesterday, I had a great day of great eating.  No…I honestly mean it.  It started off at my favorite local allergen-free bakery, Annie May’s Sweet Café.  I had a delicious breakfast with my roommate and my good friend Patrick.  And then…we all went out shopping and spending the rest of the day together.  Around 1 p.m., however, our breakfast was gone and we were looking for a light lunch.

Patrick, a vegan, recommended a place, saying he was feeling Asian food.  Korean food.  However, Asian can be a scary and rather…dangerous…territory for me.

However, he had a backup to his first choice.  He took Cathy and I over to a restaurant we had been meaning to try for a long while.  Roots…in the Highlands in Louisville.  Attached to it was Heart & Soy…but we were really feeling soup and he had quite a few suggestions for each of us.  Better yet…both places are both vegetarian, mostly vegan, and had tons of gluten-free options.

Asian food was just what the doctor ordered.  I had been craving it for awhile…and this was beyond anything I had in a long time.  Most Asian food in my life is P.F. Chang’s…which…let’s face it…isn’t “real” Asian cuisine.  So…this was a nice treat and the owner…she was adorable and so sweet.  She also knew what Patrick wanted.  Cookies. HA!

All of that aside, while I polished off my meal of a small Vegetarian Pho soup and my Sauteed Baby Spinach entrée, Cathy didn’t quite finish her Tofu Clay Pot…so she had some extra.  Patrick mentioned pouring it over rice…and Cathy seemed very interested in that idea.  I would need something else, as the Tofu Clay Pot wasn’t gluten-free…but I did have baby spinach at home and the idea to recreate the spinach dish I ate and put it with some brown rice.  Dinner would be amazing…but I thought it might need a little something more.

For Christmas, my adoptive aunt, Judi, gave me a $50 gift card to Whole Foods.  I am one happy girl because now I can start purchasing items I’ve been dying to try but haven’t really been able to justify with my budget.  While the three items I decided on today were relatively cheap (I still have over $37 on my card), I was able to not talk myself out of something for fear of not having enough for the basics at the end of the day.

One of my gift card splurge purchases were the Vegetable Egg Rolls made by Feel Good Foods.  Let me premise this by saying…I HAVE NOT HAD EGG ROLLS IN THREE YEARS!  Yes…three years.  Not since going gluten-free.  So, when I see the words “GLUTEN FREE” followed by “VEGETABLE EGG ROLLS,” you better believe that box is coming out of the freezer and hitting my shopping basket.  And, I had previously tried the Feel Good Foods Vegetable Pot Stickers (and LOVED them!), I felt good about this purchase.  I wasn’t going to go, “but what if it sucks…what if I don’t like it?”  I was confident it would be good.

Normally, I probably would have gone with the oven baked version of these egg rolls, however…I forgot I had them up until the rice was steaming in my pan on the stove.  WHOOPS!  So…in a panic, I opted for the pan fry option.  And, honestly, I’m so glad I ended up going that way.

But let me come back to that momentarily.

Feel Good Foods has the slogan: Don’t worry. Eat happy.  And, with the promise of having no added MSG, no preservatives, and no artificial flavors, I was already feeling good about my purchase.  Creators, Tryg and Vanessa met at a restaurant where he was the chef and she was working.  When he discovered that she couldn’t have the staff-created meals, he began creating gluten-free versions of the dish.  They created Feel Good Foods gluten-free frozen foods after they opened a gluten-free restaurant and were told that they needed to put their food out on the market.  Their foods are non-GMO, all-natural and completely gluten-free.  You see…Vanessa is a Celiac…so they take food allergies really seriously.

So…egg rolls.  It was an easy thing to prepare, thank goodness…since I totally forgot about them until the very last moment.  I already had spinach sautéing and wilting down.  Crap.  But, thankfully there was a simple pan fry method that would get the food done just in time.  I got a non-stick pan heating up on the stove with 1/4 cup canola oil.  I kept the heat around medium-high, and really let that pan get warm.  As it warmed, I opened up the package of egg rolls and placed them on a plate, microwaving them for 30 seconds.  Then, using some tongs, I eased each egg roll, flat side down, into the hot oil.  I allowed each one to kook until the side was turning a rich, golden brown, then would flip it over and keep each side browning evenly.  Once they were done, I removed the egg rolls from the pan and placed them on a paper towel while I served up the rice and topped it off with our perspective toppings…Cathy’s leftovers and my sautéed spinach.

Then…egg rolls were served…with a side of sweet chili sauce (which happened to be in my fridge).

Let me tell you, I will forever pan fry these egg rolls, which will forever have a place in my freezer for sure.  I was SO impressed.  First of all, by oven frying them, instead of baking them, I got this amazing golden wrap with the most amazing and perfect crispy texture.  The vegetables inside were warmed all the way through and packed with delicious flavor and seasoning.  I ate my main dish first and devoured the egg rolls, saying that next time I would just have egg rolls for dinner. Holy cow!  Most amazing thing ever.  Seriously, delicious.  It reminded me so much of the egg rolls I used to devour when I ate Chinese food.  This little side dish made me beyond happy.  I wanted more.  I still want more.  DELICIOUS!!

Let’s talk about the ingredients.  The Feel Good Foods Gluten-Free Vegetable Egg Rolls are made with all-natural ingredients.  The filling in these egg rolls is made up of cabbage, yellow onion, bean vermicilli, carrots, green onion, corn starch, sesame oil, and less than 2% of evaporated cane syrup, ginger, salt, black pepper, yeast extract and shiitake mushrooms.  The wrapper is made up from water, rice flour and less than 2% of eggs, salt and soy lecithin.  As for the batter…it is a mix of water, rice flour, corn starch, canola oil, eggs, evaporated cane syrup, baking powder, salt, and soybean oil.

As for nutritional information, the Feel Good Foods Gluten-Free Vegetable Egg Rolls aren’t bad at all.  Not really.  A serving is 1 egg roll, in a box that comes with 3 egg rolls inside.  One serving is only 90 calories and 2.5 grams of fat.  One serving dishes up 5 mg cholesterol, 400 mg sodium, and 3 grams of sugar.  One egg roll also delivers 1 gram of fiber and 2 grams of protein.

I really, really, really want to thank Tryg and Vanessa for these amazing frozen treats.  They cooked up perfectly.  They were packed with flavor.  They were, honestly, one of the best things I have had since having to go gluten free.  I wish I could hug them both.  Because now I can enjoy egg rolls again.  Asian food is coming back into my life…and this proves that I don’t have to it all from scratch.  Sometimes I just need a hot pan and a little sweet chili sauce…the rest…Feel Good Foods takes care of.

It truly is food that you can feel good about…and makes you feel good about eating.

Now…I’m craving more.

Product Review: Lotus Foods Rice Ramen + Recipe Bonus

Cuisine Cube
Cuisine Cube

Product Review: Lotus Foods Rice Ramen – $2.75+

Say it with me…

FINALLY!

Finally the gluten-free world gifts me with…gluten-free ramen!  I have been waiting a long time for this.

I know what you’re thinking…

“Really?  Ramen?”

Trust me…when you are faced with never being able to eat something again…finally is what comes to mind when you suddenly are given that something.  I never knew how much I missed ramen…until I was suddenly able to have it again.

And for this great pleasure, I once again have to credit the amazing Cuisine Cube!  Honestly, this is the best money I have ever spent each month.  It is always a surprise as to what is inside the cube that arrives in the mail.  And I am like a kid at Christmas when I open it up.  Back in October’s box…Cuisine Cube included not just one, but two, packages of Lotus Foods Gluten Free and Reduced Sodium Rice Ramen.

Two flavors: Millet & Brown Rice with Miso Soup as well as Forbidden Rice with Miso Soup.

Color me excited.  I was so ready to make some ramen.  After all, I studied Japanese all through college and ramen is a way of life in Japan.  Now…it was back in mine.

Let’s talk about Lotus Foods for a moment, shall we?  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.

I decided to do an even mix when it came to the two packages of Lotus Foods Rice Ramen that I received from Cuisine Cube.  I’d prepare one package as is stated on the package itself.  The other…I would cook up in a recipe.

Lotus Foods Millet & Brown Rice Ramen with Miso Soup
Lotus Foods Millet & Brown Rice Ramen with Miso Soup

The one that I chose to shine on its very own was the Lotus Foods Millet & Brown Rice Ramen.  These traditional Japanese-style noodles are created using their specialty rice instead of wheat.  Not only are these gluten-free, but both millet and brown rice are some of the most nutritious and easily digestible grains.

Nothing could be easier to cook.  Simply bring 2 cups of water to a boil.  Add in the ramen and simmer for about 4 minutes.  Stir every now and again, breaking the noodles apart.  When the noodles are soft, remove the pot from the heat and mix in the contents of the enclosed soup package.  You can then add in any additional veggies and protein as you wish.  I added some corn…because I happen to have a lot of fresh corn in my freezer leftover from this summer.

So…what emerged was a hearty, but delicious miso soup.  One that is not only gluten-free, but also vegan and non-GMO.  All of Lotus Foods rice products are made from organic rice…and that includes the rice ramen.

So…how did it taste?  Fantastic.  I love that this is also reduced sodium, as a lot of ramen on the market is overflowing with unneeded sodium.  I was impressed with that stat on the nutritional information immediately.  But as for the taste…the millet and brown rice lend a rich and nutty taste to the noodles themselves.  And the soup pack provided a ton of flavor to the hot water.  I love the mix of spices that brought a slight bit of heat and sweetness to the entire dish.  It was simple to cook and fun to eat.  Chopsticks not included.

Lotus Foods Millet & Brown Rice Ramen with Miso Soup (prepared with corn)
Lotus Foods Millet & Brown Rice Ramen with Miso Soup (prepared with corn)

Let’s look at the ingredients in Lotus Foods Millet & Brown Rice Ramen.  The ramen is made from organic brown rice flour, organic millet flour, water, and organic white rice flour.  The soup pack contains red miso powder (cultured soybeans and rice, salt) tamari powder, salt, red onion powder, dried wakame seaweed, sugar, garlic powder, ginger powder, dried parsley, and dried chili peppers.  It is gluten-free, cholesterol free, organic, high in fiber and protein, non-GMO, low fat, vegan, and truly delicious!

As for the nutritional information…well…the Lotus Foods Millet & Brown Rice Ramen packs contain 2 servings, so a serving isze is 1/2 ramen with the seasoning.  This serving will provide you with 140 calories and 1.5 grams of fat.  This portion will also give you 460 mg sodium and 1 gram of sugar.  See how amazing that sodium level is?!  It has 25% less sodium than regular ramen soup.  This serving also provides 2 grams of fiber and 5 grams of protein.  It may not seem like much when you look at it…but trust me…you will feel full after eating your bowl of this ramen.

In addition to the Millet & Brown Rice variety, Cuisine Cube threw in the Lotus Foods Forbidden Rice Ramen as well.

Lotus Foods Forbidden Rice Ramen with Miso Soup
Lotus Foods Forbidden Rice Ramen with Miso Soup

Forbidden Rice is one of the most nutritious ancient grains.  It is made from Lotus Foods heirloom black rice instead of wheat.  I love the purple color that these noodles take on.  It’s really fantastic.  Instead of cooking these up according to the package, I incorporated these into a recipe.  But…I’m getting ahead of myself.  The forbidden rice ramen also has a delicious nutty taste and a great texture to them. In addition, these noodles are a natural source of antioxidants.  This package comes with a savory white miso broth  to create the noodle soup with.  I, instead, incorporated it with the recipe I made.  I added a ton of extra vegetables to create a delicious meal.  The recipe will follow the ingredients and nutritional information.

Taste was superb.  The noodles are amazing and perfect.  I wish Cuisine Cube had included more.  But, that’s why they have a Stock Up page on their Web site…to stock up.  I hope to do just that…because…YUM!

The Lotus Foods Forbidden Rice Ramen noodles are made from organic black rice flour, organic brown rice flour, and organic white rice flour, and water.  The soup pack is made from white miso powder (cultured soybeans and rice, salt), salt, white onion powder, tamari powder, soybean powder, mushroom powder, dried parsley, and dried carrots.  It is gluten-free, cholesterol free, organic, non-GMO, low fat, and vegan.  WOOT!

As far as nutrition goes, Lotus Foods Forbidden Rice Ramen serves 2 people per pack, so a serving size is 1/2 of the package with the seasoning.  This serving will provide you with 140 calories and 1.5 grams of fat.  In addition, this portion gives you 400 mg sodium and 1 gram of sugar.  Yes, the Forbidden Rice Ramen contians 33% less sodium than regular ramen.  That’s fantastic.  And, finally, you will have less than 1gram of fiber and 3 grams of protein.  With less of these final two nutritional factors, load this up with hearty vegeatbles or your protein of choice.

Or…do what I did…

Recipe: Ramen Noodle Soup with Sugar Snap Peas, Mushrooms and Corn

Ramen Noodle Soup with Sugar Snap Peas, Mushrooms, and Corn
Ramen Noodle Soup with Sugar Snap Peas, Mushrooms, and Corn

Servings: 4-6
Time: Prep 15 minutes; Cook 20 minutes

Ingredients:

 

  • 2 Tbs. olive oil
  • 2 shallots, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 6 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 packet of Lotus Foods Forbidden Rice Ramen noodles (dried ramen noodles)
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1-1/2 cups sugar snap peas, trimmed and halved diagonally
  • 1/2 cup corn
  • 1/2 cup crimini mushrooms, sliced
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • Hot sauce, such as Sriracha, for serving

 

Directions:

In a large, heavy pot, warm the oil over medium-high heat.

Add the shallots and garlic and saute for 3 minutes.

Add the mushrooms and saute for another 3 minutes.

Add the broth and bring to a boil.

Add the ramen noodles and tomatoes and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes.

Add the sugar snap peas, corn, and the seasoning packet from the Lotus Foods Forbidden Rice Ramen and cook for 2 minutes.

Season with salt and pepper and serve.  Add hot sauce, if desired.

~*~*~

Let me tell you, I was amazed with how good this recipe was.  And thanks to Lotus Foods Forbidden Rice Ramen Noodles…I was able to create this and cook it up.  It had rich depth of flavor.  The Forbidden Rice Ramen noodles added a nice hit of bold color.  And the soup itself had this great umami flavor.  It was rich and loaded with nutrients and fresh vegetables.  It was love at first slurp.  And there was a ton of slurping going on.

If you haven’t looked into a subscription to Cuisine Cube, I do highly recommend it.  In addition, I encourage you to seek out or order Lotus Foods Rice Ramen and give it a try.  Especially, if you’re like me, and didn’t even remember what you were missing.  It was so delicious.  Or, as they say in Japan, “Taihen Oishikattadesu!”

Another product I love, brought to me with great thought and great care from Cuisine Cube.  I’m loving this service.

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

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

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

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

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

Oh…that made me happy, indeed.

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

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

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

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

We’re pros.  HA!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Product Review: Feel Good Foods Gluten Free Vegetable Dumplings

Feel Good Foods Gluten Free Vegetable Dumplings
Feel Good Foods Gluten Free Vegetable Dumplings

Product: Feel Good Foods Gluten Free Vegetable Dumplings – $5.99+

There are quite a few things I really miss in my life at times.  Like…makes me sad and really wanting to cry kind of miss.  Maybe not the way I miss my family (and I really miss my family)…but people and food have relationships too.  And one of my favorite cuisines growing up was none other than Chinese food or Asian-style cuisine.

It was tradition in my family to visit my great grandmother in Winona, Minnesota, every year that we went to visit both sets of grandparents.  And one thing that I always looked forward to when visiting my great grandma was…Chinese food.  She always ordered in the most amazing Chinese food in town.  It was always egg rolls and chow mein and rice and there was more of it than the group of us could eat…but we always gave it our best shot.  It was tradition.  It was one of the many highlights I experienced growing up and something I came to look forward to every time we headed over to great grandma’s house.

I haven’t had true Chinese food since I went gluten-free…three years ago.  The sauces…the way things are cooked…it’s risky.  And it’s a risk I no longer am willing to take.  It’s sad, because Asian food is one of my favorite types of cuisine.  Sure, there are places like P.F. Chang’s that offers a gluten-free menu…but the vegetarian choices are very limited…and that’s not true Chinese.

Then…along came a little miracle in my Whole Foods (and other natural food stores) freezer section.  A company, known as Feel Good Foods, introduced the first (and I believe the only) gluten-free Asian dumplings and egg rolls to the market.  The hardest part was choosing if I wanted egg rolls or dumplings.  It was a tough decision, but I finally chose the dumplings.  One of the interesting things about this company is that it was created by husband and wife duo, Chef Tryg and Vanessa Phillips.  They created Feel Good Foods gluten-free frozen foods after they opened a gluten-free restaurant and were told that they needed to put their food out on the market.  Their foods are non-GMO, all-natural and completely gluten-free.  You see…Vanessa is a Celiac…so they take food allergies really seriously.

Cathy had some leftover rice from our treat on Friday at the local Indian restaurant.  So, after work and a trip to the gym, I wanted something that was easy to prepare and wouldn’t require me to read off a recipe or attempt something new.  With the rice in the fridge, I figured I could steam up some of the last of the jasmine rice in my pantry for myself and then pull the Feel Good Foods Gluten Free Vegetable Dumplings out of the freezer to prepare while my rice was cooking on the stove.

These are super easy to prepare.  In a non-stick pan, add a cup of water and 1 tablespoon of oil.  Bring it to a boil and add the dumplings to the pan, flat side down.  Cover and reduce the heat to medium-high, leaving the dumplings in the pan until the water completely evaporates.  It takes around 10-11 minutes.  They are fine to eat on their own, but I served mine with rice.  These even come with a fantastic dipping sauce, which I ended up just pouring over the top so that the rice could absorb it too.

I settled in for dinner and dug into my little bowl of Asian gluten-free food.  I wasn’t sure what to expect…but I was very happy with what I started to eat.  The dumplings were soft and tender, with a nice crust on the flat side that was on the pan.  The rest of it was that doughy stickiness you associate with potstickers.  Amazing.  The stuffing inside the wrapper was flavorful and very much like a delicious egg roll.  So it was like a dumpling with an egg roll flavor.  Happy girl right here.  And the dipping sauce helped add a bit of seasoning and flavor to the entire dish.  I am already wanting to restock my freezer with more of these.  And the egg rolls for that matter.  Delicious!

The Feel Good Foods Gluten Free Vegetable Dumplings are a simple blend of ingredients.  The wrapper is made from water, sweet rice flour, rice flour, potato starch, canola oil, salt, xanthan gum, and corn starch.  The filling is a combination of cabbage, yellow onion, bean vermicelli, carrots, green onion, corn starch, sesame oil, and less than 2% of evaporated cany syrup, ginger, salt, black pepper, yeast extract, and shiitake mushrooms.  The dipping sauce is made from water, organic tamari soy sauce, sugar, ginger juice, garlic juice, and natural flavors of garlic and black pepper.  These dumplings are gluten-free and cholesterol free.

Real and recognizable ingredients.  LOVE it.

As far as nutrition goes, a serving size of the Feel Good Foods Vegetable Dumplings is 4 dumplings.  There are two servings per box.  One serving provides you with 290 calories and 9 grams of fat.  They contain 430 mg sodium and 3 grams of sugar.  These contain 2 grams of fiber and 3 grams of protein.  The sauce packet contains 45 calories, is completely fat free, has 10 grams of sugar, and 2 gram of protein.  Not bad for a frozen package of gluten-free foods.

If I could hug both Chef Tryg and Vanessa, I totally would.  Because of them, I am once again able to revisit one of my favorite cuisines…Asian.  And I can’t wait to try the Vegetable Egg Rolls and replenish my freezer with the Vegetable Dumplings.  These are one of my favorite frozen dishes I have had to date.  It might be the nostalgia, but I definitely think it has more to do with the product itself.  Taste, texture, flavor and just all around goodness.

It doesn’t get much better than this!

Chinese food is BACK in my life!

Feel Good Foods Gluten Free Vegetable Dumplings and Dipping Sauce
Feel Good Foods Gluten Free Vegetable Dumplings and Dipping Sauce

Product Review: A Taste of Thai Pad Thai for Two

A Taste of Thai Pad Thai for Two
A Taste of Thai Pad Thai for Two

Product: A Taste of Thai Pad Thai for Two – $3.59+

I’m very fortunate that I live near one of the best Thai restaurants in the nation.  Yes.  I will go as far as to say that.  However, that being said…I also can’t afford to eat out much these days.  My money is better spent on travel and food experiences outside of my own neighborhood.

And race fees.

But…that’s a horse of a different color.

As I’m getting through a very long two weeks of no CSA bin filled with fresh fruit and vegetables, I’m scraping my pantry, fridge and freezer for things to eat until Friday.  It’s coming.  But it’s been a very rough two weeks of eating processed foods.  Some good…some better…none horribly bad.  I do pay a lot of attention to nutrition information when I shop and when I do buy something in a box or package…I mind the ingredient list and nutrition information above everything else.

Anyway…with nothing real to make food out of, save for a container of organic baby kale and a red onion…I pulled the final Thai food box out of my pantry.  This time it was the Pad Thai for Two from A Taste of Thai.  It sounded brilliant and the picture on the box looked drool-worthy.  One thing I didn’t take into account was that the box literally only contained rice noodles and the Pad Thai sauce.  No joke.  So…I had to think.  And I thought…kale and onions…caramelize…sauté…add noodles…BAM!  Dinner.  Why not?  My roomie seemed game for that too, so I set to work.

Pad Thai Sauce and Rice Noodles in A Taste of Thai Pad Thai for Two
Pad Thai Sauce and Rice Noodles in A Taste of Thai Pad Thai for Two

I boiled some water and put the rice noodles into a large bowl, covering it with the hot water and letting it sit for 20 minutes.  As the noodles were soaking, I went ahead and sliced up the last of my red onion and got it into a pan over medium heat to begin the caramelizing process.  I, not thinking, started this in a smaller sauté pan…remember this later.  The onions were caramelizing beautifully, so I went ahead and added a couple handfuls of organic baby kale.  I sautéed it until it wilted down and turned bright green.  When the noodles were ready, I drained them and then added them to the small sauté pan, realizing then my error.  Somehow, I managed to contain it all in the pan and still swoosh it and stir it.  I didn’t risk tossing it as the pan was rather full of Thai goodness.  After about 4 minutes, I added some chopped (and toasted) cashews that I decided to add at the last moment, and then the packet of sauce.  All of this was mixed in that itty-bitty pan, but it got the job done.  And soon, I was dishing it up into two bowls and after about 30 minutes…dinner was served.

Was it worth it?  Yes!!  It was.  I enjoyed this little boxed meal more than I thought I would.  I thought the onion, cashew and kale were perfect additions (and very non-traditional, I know!) to the mess of noodles and sauce because they brought different flavors and textures to the meal.  The rice noodles actually ended up being cooked perfectly.  They didn’t stick together, as I was afraid they would because normally that’s what happens with rice noodles.  I was pleasantly surprised.  The sauce was tangy and sweet more than spicy, which was a nice change of pace (but you know I love my spicy foods!).  And it was easy to eat this noodle dish with chopsticks without making a huge mess.  No mess at all, in fact.  I found that I truly enjoyed eating this meal.  I would definitely consider buying it again for one of those quick-to-make meals where I have time for a little prep work and cook time…but it isn’t a flash in the microwave either.  LOVED it!

So, let’s talk ingredients, yes?  As I mentioned, the box contained a packet of rice noodles and a packet of sauce.  The rice noodles are simply made from rice flour, water, and modified (I hate that word!) tapioca starch.  The Pad Thai sauce was made from palm sugar, tamarind juice, water, shallot, sweet radish, garlic, soybean oil, potassium chloride, maltodextrin, miso, salt, hydrolyzed vegetable protein, yeast extract, paprika oleoresin, citric acid, alpha-tocopherol, and chili oleoresin.  I know…not very clean…and some very hard to pronounce words.  Ugh.  So much promise…

Let’s now talk nutrition.  A serving is 1/2 of the package.  This serving will provide you with 391 calories and 3 grams of fat.  This will also provide you with 433 mg sodium and 16 grams of sugar.  That sugar is off-the-chart.  YIKES!!  As for the sodium…it’s under 600 mg, so I can live with that.  Without the additions…this dish has no fiber, but does provide 5 grams of protein.  Of course, then I added onions, kale, and cashews and that really bumped up some of those nutrients, but hardly added any calories at all.  Love it.

So…yes…this is a highly processed item…and the nutrition factors aren’t fantastic, but they aren’t totally bad either.  The sugar content is high, but that is mostly contained to the sauce.  And the overall taste and textures were a huge hit.  My roommate and I loved eating them, but will probably try to do  more from scratch.  But, in a pinch, on those just scraping by weeks…this will do!

A Taste of Thai Pad Thai for Two (prepared with caramelized onion, kale, and cashews)
A Taste of Thai Pad Thai for Two (prepared with caramelized onion, kale, and cashews)

Product Review: A Taste of Thai Peanut Noodles Quick Meal

A Taste of Thai Peanut Noodles Quick Meal
A Taste of Thai Peanut Noodles Quick Meal

Product: A Taste of Thai Peanut Noodles Quick Meal – $5.49+

Love Thai food?

Me too.  We have a great authentic Thai place not too far from where I live.  It isn’t even in Louisville.  It’s in Jeffersonville, Indiana.  I love that place.  I haven’t been there in ages, but I contacted them awhile back and they said they could make anything gluten-free for me.  That’s the joy of Thai food…it is easy to accommodate.

That being said, when a sale is happening…my roomie and I tend to go a little crazy at the grocery store.  No lie.

A long time ago in a far away (or perhaps local) grocery store, we encountered a sale on A Taste of Thai products.  We picked up two of the Peanut Noodle Quick Meals (they serve 2 in each box) and a Pad Thai for Two…which we have yet to make as well.

Tonight, after a long day of travel from Birmingham, Alabama back home…and with no CSA bin this week, I needed a quick and simple meal.  Trust me, I haven’t been in the mood to get creative with the food.  And, honestly, after sitting all day in the car and being the sad sot that I am right now (injured runner…stand back!), I didn’t really want to whip up something from scratch that might take…ages.

Thank goodness for these meals in the pantry.

So easy to make too.  Remove all of the envelopes that contain coconut milk powder, the peanut sauce, peanuts and noodles.  Place a cup of water into the box and then add the sauce, the coconut milk, then the noodles.  Microwave on high for 3 minutes.  Stir.  Microwave again for another minute.  Then, let stand for 1 minute.  Afterwards, add the peanuts.  Stir and then serve.

Simple.  Easy.  And ready in 5 minutes.  Gotta love it.

Packets inside A Taste of Thai Peanut Noodles Quick Meal
Packets inside A Taste of Thai Peanut Noodles Quick Meal

So, how was it?  Better than I expected.  For one thing, the “sauce” packet was a powder, which threw me off for a moment.  So was the coconut milk portion as well.  But those both go in the water first and they mix in all proper like.  The noodles actually do soften up in the 4 minutes of heating and 1 minute of resting.  I promise.  No hard noodles were found in the consuming of this product.  And the flavor was awesome.  Not as awesome as real Thai food, but as close to awesome real Thai food as one can get without being at an authentic Thai restaurant…or in Thailand.  I swear.  There was a little bit of heat…just enough to keep the flavor interesting.  The peanuts gave a nice texture to the overall dish.  The noodles were perfect.  Not crunchy.  Not mushy or sticky.  Perfect.  And the sauce…it was delicious.  I might have licked my bowl.  Maybe.  A little.

So, how does this stand up nutritionally?

Let’s look at ingredients first.  The sauce contains: sugar peanuts, chili powder, kaffir lime leaf powder, lemongrass powder, modified tapioca starch, salt, hydrolyzed vegetable protein, dextrose, tricalcium phosphate (to prevent caking), yeast extract, malic adid.  The coconut milk powder is made up of coconut maltodextrin, mono and diglyceride (an emulsifier), dipotassium phosphate (a stablizer) silicon dioxide (to prevent caking).  And the peanuts contained peanuts and silicon dioxide (to prevent caking).  The rice noodles were simply made from rice flower, water, and modified food starch.  Do I like all those modified ingredients.  Not one bit.  I bought these back before I was paying attention to that.  Kind of shocking when I look at it and type it up.

As for nutrition…this box contains 2 servings.  In one of these servings, you will consume 340 calories and 10 grams of fat.  Not bad for a saucy noodle dish, I think.  You will be taking in 320 mg of sodium and 13 grams of sugar.  The sugar is a bit high, but I believe that is from the sauce.  You get 2 grams of fiber and 5 grams of protein.  It is cholesterol free, gluten-free, and preservative free.

So, while it is not the cleanest of eats, it was quick and easy.  I do dislike the modified ingredients.  Not a fan.  But I am a fan of the taste, flavor, spice, and texture.  For an every-now-and-again dinner, not a bad choice at all.