Product Review: Van’s Gluten Free Banana Nut Granola Clusters

Van's Gluten Free Banana Nut Granola Clusters

Van’s Gluten Free Banana Nut Granola Clusters

Product: Van’s Gluten Free Banana Nut Granola Clusters – $5.99+

One of my favorite, favorite, favorite things to have to eat before heading out to my morning spin class (like 5:30 a.m. start time for class) is something as simple as yogurt, fruit, and a little granola.  It isn’t too heavy to make me feel…BLEH (technical term, yes!)…while spinning out to awesome music and getting my sweat on, but it does give me enough fuel in the tank to not pass out or run out of gas during the workout itself.  And…it’s refreshing…and delicious.

So, when I randomly bought strawberries this past week at the grocery store (they looked good and I really wanted them), I randomly needed to get granola to go with it.  I have an abundance of yogurts (vegan and otherwise) in my fridge for my roomie and I at all times.  But granola…not so much anymore.  I’ve just been trying other breakfast stuff…like Gluten Free NY-Style Bagels and all that.

That being said, this was necessary this week, for sure.  And while out and about on Saturday doing our very random grocery shopping at at least 5 different stores (NO JOKE!), I was on the hunt for a granola that wasn’t too high in sugars and that would pair nicely with strawberries.  I opted for one brand, and then quickly changed my mind when I spotted the Van’s Foods granola in the gluten-free section of said store.

I’ve only had one other version of the Van’s Gluten Free Granola Clusters, but what I loved about it was the soft and chewy nature of it.  So, back went the original brand I had scooped up…hello to one of the newest additions to the Van’s Gluten Free Granola Clusters lineup.  The flavor…Banana Nut.

I am a runner…a marathon runner.  This means I have this special place in my heart for banana.  Banana bread (gluten-free of course), banana cookies, bananas with peanut butter, banana chips…and yes…straight up banana.  Banana is my pre-long run eats.  So, anything banana makes me one happy girl.  No question about it…I wanted to try this granola.

And I have been totally devouring it and enjoying it all weekend.  Like the other granola clusters that they sell, Van’s Gluten Free Banana Nut Granola Clusters are…really more one large mass of granola, rather than individual clusters.  But that’s fine.  The massive chunk of granola does break apart easily, making for easy sprinkling over yogurt or whatever.  It also makes for good pinching material for stealing snacks between meals, before eating, or just…because.  I love the soft and chewy texture of this granola, because while I do love granola with a crunch, this texture just pairs well with…everything.  And I can eat it quietly and not feel like I might wake up my roommate simply by chewing.  What I do love about this granola is how the banana flavoring doesn’t overwhelm or overpower the actual granola itself.  This makes it perfect for pairing with anything…oatmeal, yogurt, fruit, smoothies, ice cream, etc.  Oh yeah…it’s amazing.  There are bits of nuts included in the clusters as well.  It’s a delicious way to start your day…or end your day…or to have throughout the day.  And I don’t feel bad about snacking on this…because Van’s takes pride in the ingredients they use and the nutritional worth of their products.  It’s a win either way.  Definitely a win when banana is involved.

So, let’s take a look at the ingredients that are used in put together the Van’s Gluten Free Banana Nut Granola Clusters, shall we?  As I stated, Van’s uses ingredients that they are proud of.  For this variety of their Granola Clusters, Van’s includes gluten free whole oats, brown rice syrup, invert cane syrup, cane sugar, non-GMO expeller pressed canola oil, unsweetened coconut, pecans, honey, flax seed, gluten free oat bran, almonds, natural flavors, salt, walnuts, vitamin E tocopherols (for freshness).  Gluten-free, vegan, and made with whole grains.  Gotta love that.

Now let’s look at the nutritional information of the Van’s Gluten Free Banana Nut Granola Clusters.  A serving of this granola is 1/3 cup (30 grams).  This serving will provide you with 120 calories, 5 grams fat, 1 gram saturated fat, 0 grams trans fat, 1 gram polyunsaturated fat, 1.5 grams monounsaturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 25 mg sodium, 19 grams carbohydrates, 2 grams fiber, 6 grams sugars, and 2 grams protein.  Deliciously well-rounded, balanced, and not too bad on the nutrition.  I like that this brand keeps added sugar levels low.  Some granola has double digit sugars in a serving.

Van’s Gluten Free products have always impressed me and been amazing.  I love the soft and chewy texture of their granola clusters.  And the Van’s Gluten Free Banana Nut Clusters is definitely a new favorite.  This package is almost empty…so I think another trek out to purchase more is a must.

If you haven’t tried Van’s Gluten Free Granola Clusters…make a point to do so.  It will change your granola-loving mind forever!!

 

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Product Review: Barbara’s Gluten Free Pumpkin Puffins Cereal

Barbara's Gluten Free Pumpkin Puffins Cereal

Barbara’s Gluten Free Pumpkin Puffins Cereal

Product: Barbara’s Gluten Free Pumpkin Puffins Cereal – $5.99+

Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU to my local Kroger.  Because after spending a majority of the fall searching high and low for a few specific products released with a pumpkin flavor…I found very few of them.

Like…Peanut Butter & Co. Pumpkin Spice Peanut Butter.  Never did find that, and refused to pay more on shipping than I would to order just one jar.  That’s just one example.  I still haven’t found it and probably won’t at this point.

Bummer.

And I thought that was going to be the case with the Barbara’s Gluten Free Pumpkin Puffins Cereal too.  I really did.  First of all, when anything seasonal comes out (ie: pumpkin flavor), it is always for a limited time.  And that means…you find it as soon as you can and you buy it…no hesitation.  Well, I was lamenting that all my usual suspects (my natural food stores in town) all had the regular (gluten free) Puffins cereals by Barbara’s…but no one had the Pumpkin Puffins.

And then, one day while winging past an end cap of an aisle I never at, there was this HUGE display of Barbara’s cereals.  And right there…front and center…were the Gluten Free Pumpkin Puffins.

HAPPY DANCE!!  (Seriously, the other grocery shoppers may never be the same).

Barbara’s was founded back in 1971, but 17-year-old Barbara Jaffe.  In the Bay Area, Barbara was striking out, and discovering her her love for real food, and opened up a bakery in Northern California.  Her plan was simple: make wholesome food taste incredibly delicious.  Using whole grains and oats, she began her business with bread, and soon, her business went from a small storefront start-up to a thriving wholesale business.  Now over 40 years later, the product line has grown to include cereals, snack bars, cookies, and cheese puffs…among other things.  And, true to Barbara’s initial business plan, the company still upholds the commitment to create simple, wholesome and delicious products with the most honest ingredients.

So, the weird thing is, in the four years I have been gluten-free, I haven’t tried any of the Barbara’s gluten free products.  Not even the original Puffins cereal.  Go figure.  I have no idea why…but…true story.  So, this morning when I opened the box of Barbara’s Gluten Free Pumpkin Puffins to eat before heading to spin class, I wasn’t sure what to expect.  I tore into the bag and dished up a serving of this cereal.

First thing I noticed were all puffy and full each little…er…puff was.  I mean…we’re not talking little deflated cereal puffs.  These orange puffs mean business.  Seriously.  I popped a few in my mouth before topping off with my unsweetened cashew milk.  Oh…WOW!  Here’s what I love…

I love that this cereal is made with whole grains.  I love that this cereal has only 5 grams of sugar per serving.  I love that this cereal has just the right level (and this coming from a pumpkin-everything advocate) of pumpkin.  I love that this cereal has the right amount of sweet and spice, with nothing outdoing the other.  It’s a perfect pumpkin balance, for sure.  If you want to know what fall tastes like…just pop a handful of these little delights.  Seriously.  I love the crunchy texture.  The amazing flavor.  And, best of all, this cereal is actually made with real pumpkin.  No fake stuff here.  I was beyond impressed.  And, you better believe I won’t shy away from the gluten-free cereals that Barbara’s offers anymore.  So happy!

Speaking of real pumpkin, let’s take a look at everything that goes into Barbara’s Gluten Free Pumpkin Puffins.  This cereal is made from corn, whole grain brown rice, cane sugar, whole grain pure oats, fructan (natraflora prebiotic dietary fiber), unsulfured molasses, oat hull fiber, calcium carbonate, pumpkin, sea salt, natural flavor, annatto (for color), cinnamon, vitamin C (ascorbic acid), iron (ferric orthophosphate), tocopherols (antioxidants to maintain freshness).  This cereal is gluten-free, non-GMO verified, vegan, low in fat, low in sugar, made with whole grains, and made with real pumpkin.

As far as nutrition information goes…you’ll love this.  A serving of Barbara’s Gluten Free Pumpkin Puffins Cereal is 1 cup (30 grams), and there are about 9 servings per box.  A serving will provide you with 110 calories, 0.5 grams of fat, 0 grams saturated fat, 0 grams trans fat, 0 grams monsaturated fat, 0 grams polyunsaturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 75 mg sodium, 80 mg potassium, 25 grams carbohydrates, 3 grams fiber, 1 gram soluble fiber, 2 grams insoluble fiber, 5 grams sugars, and 2 grams of protein.  It’s nutritious and delicious!

For being my first Barbara’s product to try, the Gluten Free Pumpkin Puffins Cereal really hit it out of the park.  I am excited at the prospect of trying out more of her gluten-free cereal line-up to see how they measure up.  But with a great ingredient list and amazing nutritional value…this is definitely a cereal I would easily add to my pantry every week.  Just…wow!

Delicious.  Pumpkin-y goodness.  It’s a sweet taste of heaven in a pumpkin spiced package that’s perfect for your morning cereal bowl.

Product Review: Freedom Foods Fruity Rainbow Rocks

Freedom Foods Fruity Rainbow Rocks

Freedom Foods Fruity Rainbow Rocks

Product: Freedom Foods Fruity Rainbow Rocks – $2.99+

I will be the first person to admit that in the past couple of months, I fell off of the cereal train.  I did.  Don’t get me wrong…I absolutely love cereal…but I was just in a rut and really just needed something different in the morning.  I went to fruit and yogurt and enjoyed it well enough and was content with it.

Until I went to the Gluten Free Food Allergy Fest in Indianapolis, Indiana back on October 24, 2015.  My mom, also a Celiac, came up from Birmingham, Alabama, with my dad and we all went together to scope out the expo.  Trust me, I do this event every year that it has been in Indianapolis…and I love it.  Freebies, samples, and local products/businesses all come out and reel me in.  I won’t lie…I walk out of there broke…but it’s worth it in the end.  I have never regretted a moment.

Now, one of the booths I have started to look for each year belongs to Freedom Foods.  Why?  Well…I’m getting to that.

Freedom Foods makes a variety of products, although only a few items are available in the United States at the moment…and most of these include cereals, which, for the record, are made in a dedicated and specially built allergen-free facility in the Riverina region of New South Wales, in Australia.  As Freedom Foods was specifically developed to make allergen-free foods, they test every batch made in their facilities, to the most stringent levels possible, leaving no doubt that the Freedom Foods products you pick up will be free of the allergens that are necessary to avoid.

LOVE THAT!

Because we live in a world where it’s not enough to just be health conscious.  Now we have to be allergen conscious too.  With the growing number of food allergies and intolerances, it is nice to find a company that really proves that it is dedicated to creating products that are safe to consume.  Freedom Foods has been around for over 20 years, making great-tasting and nutritious allergen-free food.  I can attest to this, as I am a huge fan of the products I have had from them thus far.  All of their products adhere to the strict guidelines laid out by Australia’s food industry, meaning all their products are non-GMO.  They even test for GMOs just to make sure.

One of my favorite products, mind you, is the Tropico’s cereal, which is a gluten-free version of Froot Loops, but made without artificial colors, ingredients, partially hydrogenated crap…you know…all that bad stuff that Kellogg’s puts into their cereals and people consume freely.  I am a cereal girl.  I start most of my mornings with a small bowl.  A serving.  And yes…I do measure.  You knew that already though, right?

So, imagine how my mind was blown when I found the booth at the GFFAF and saw that they had a new fruity cereal out.  Like…brand new this year.  It’s the Freedom Foods Fruity Rainbow Rocks (think Fruity Pebbles).  They gave me a little cup to sample and it won me over wholeheartedly.  It was like…little flakes of everything I love about Tropico’s.  Well, I might even prefer them to the Tropico’s…which, naturally would happen, since I haven’t seen the Freedom Foods Fruity Rainbow Rocks anywhere outside of the GFFAF that day.  I purchased two boxes.  I should have bought them out, HA!

I almost didn’t want to pop open a box so soon, but with the cereal that brought me back into cereal now completely consumed (that would be the Trader Joe’s Gluten Free Pumpkin O’s, for the record), I needed something else this morning.  Yes…this very morning.  Before heading to the gym for my 5:30 a.m. spin class…I needed some fuel.  And with two boxes staring at me from the pantry…I grabbed one and tore it open, measuring out a serving (1 cup), topping it with some unsweetened cashew milk, and then devouring it while standing right there at the counter in my kitchen.

It really is that amazing and that good.  This cereal is everything all rolled up into one healthier package than average regular and gluten-free cereals out on the market.  And, because of the fruity flavors, I don’t feel like I’m missing out on my cut fruit and yogurt.  Honestly, this cereal amazed me.  The little flakes of fruity goodness get a little soft in the milk, but it only helps to emphasize the flavor.  And, when your cereal is made with real ingredients, not fillers and artificial bad stuff, well, I give it a pass on how long it swims around in a pool of cashew milk before getting soft.  It didn’t bother me, as I was standing in my cycling clothes, hunched over my Eeyore cereal bowl, just shoveling this stuff into my face.  Food is fuel.  Real food is the best kind of fuel.

If you like fruity cereals…low in sugar…big in flavor, then Freedom Foods Fruity Rainbow Rocks is the cereal for you.  Who knows, you might even find yourself hunched over a bowl in your kitchen.

Let’s talk about what goes into Freedom Foods Fruity Rainbow Rocks, shall we?  This cereal is made from a gluten free flour mix (rice flour, yellow corn flour), sugar, resistant dextrin, psyllium husk, paprika oleoresin color, carrot oil color, sweet potato color, turmeric oleoresin color, tricalcium phosphate, salt, sunflower lecithin, and natural flavor.  It is free from gluten, nuts, wheat, dairy, eggs, soy and sesame.  Freedom Foods believes that the less salt you eat, the healthier you are, so they only put in a pinch of salt in this cereal.  This cereal also contains a natural, grain-based prebiotic that help to nourish the good bacteria in our digestive tracts which…helps with good digestion and overall health.  This is a simple cereal that is doing really amazing and big things for your body and your health.  And that’s why I love this brand so much!

As for nutritional information, hold onto your gluten-free knickers, my friends.  Freedom Foods Fruity Rainbow Rocks is a healthier take on cereal, and that’s evident in the nutritional facts.  A serving of Freedom Foods Fruity Rainbow Rocks is 1 cup.  This serving will give you 180 calories, 1 gram fat, 0 gram saturated fat, 0 grams trans fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 75 mg sodium, 36 grams carbohydrates, 5 grams fiber, 7 grams sugars, and 3 grams protein.  For being little flakes of fruit flavor, these can actually feel and be quite filling thanks to that fiber and protein. Fruity Pebbles has 0 grams of fiber and 1 gram of protein, if that tells you anything.  What a difference real ingredients and no artificial…anything makes!

There is a lot to love about Freedom Foods.  They set a high standard for themselves and aim to create delicious food that is free from the “stuff” that your body doesn’t need— gluten, nuts, wheat, dairy, eggs, fructose, soy, yeast, GMO’s, and artificial flavors. Here you have a truly allergy friendly cereal.  YAY!  Not only this, but all the products from Freedom Foods focus not only on allergen-free safety, but, better nutrition and taste.  They use clean and recognizable ingredients so you won’t feel guilty noshing on a serving.

Come on, what’s not to love.  So, whether you are a kid at heart or just love fun cereals in the morning, I encourage you to seek out, or even order, Freedom Foods.  Your body will thank you for it!

Product Review: Trader Joe’s Pumpkin O’s

Trader Joe's Pumpkin O's

Trader Joe’s Pumpkin O’s

Product: Trader Joe’s Pumpkin O’s – $2.49

You know, there is something that is so comforting about cereal.  I grew up eating cereal as a child…and not just the frosted sugary type either.  I was a huge fan of Cheerios and Corn Flakes and even Wheat, Corn, and Rice Chex.  I loved it all.

As I’ve gotten older, cereal has remained a staple in my morning routine.  It’s easy for me to eat a bowl and then get ready for a run…and have the energy to get through it.  Some people run on empty stomachs in the morning, but my sports nutritionist and my own foray into the nutrition field, both have shown me why this is not such a good idea.  As my sports nutritionist said…even if it’s just a handful of cereal or nuts or toast…eat something before you head out.

Not a problem with me, because I LOVE breakfast.  And one of my greatest breakfast loves is…as I mentioned above…cereal.  I had recently stopped eating cereal, subbing in some fruit and yogurt instead.  But…when something so unique comes along that you simply must have it…cereal is back in the bowl in the morning.  And now part of me wonders why I stopped eating it in the first place.

The cereal that changed my entire morning routine back to the way it was happens to be a product of Trader Joe’s.  Trader Joe’s Pumpkin O’s.  Yes…Pumpkin O’s.  As in a Cheerio-like cereal flavored with mega pumpkin flavor.  Oh, and they are about the size of Froot Loops (or the size Froot Loops used to be when they made them right…like…when I was a kid and all).

So, like most great food stories, this one all started at the grocery store.  I had only a small list of items to buy at Trader Joe’s.  But the moment I walked in the door, I saw the big display of all the seasonal pumpkin everything everywhere stuff.  I noted the cereal and let out a small sigh.  Pumpkin cereal.  Pumpkin O’s to be exact.  Oh, to not be Celiac.

But then, Cathy (the roomie) spotted the print in the corner.  Low Fat.  Vegn.  Gluten Free.

It was as though the pumpkin gods were smiling down upon me that day.  Whatever I did right that day, thank you great cereal gods for watching out for my particular cereal wants/needs.  Happy dance.  Happy dance all the way up and down the aisles.  Seriously…there was no stopping me.

Trader Joe’s Pumpkin O’s are “round like pumpkins rounder, actually) and fun like jack o’lantenrs (maybe more fun, since you can eat them)” and are the sibling cereal to the Original Joe’s O’s.  The box claims that the pumpkin wizards created this cereal with a stroke of their pumpkin-shaped wands, which are difficult and challenging to control) so this particular flavor of cereal will only be around for pumpkin season.  So, if you’re a pumpkin nut-case like me…you best get to Trader Joe’s.

This morning, with my Dole pineapple (also purchased at Trader Joe’s) gone…this was my breakfast of choice before hitting the gym.  I measured out a serving, loving the size of the little round o’s.  I snagged a few to taste dry from my bowl and crunched on them while I went to retrieve the unsweetened cashew milk.  Into the bowl it went, giving the cereal a little lift.

In went the spoon.  Spoon went to mouth.  Down the hatch.

And holy Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown!  This cereal is amazing. If you’re a pumpkin lover like me, you’ll love this.  Here’s why.  This cereal is LOADED with pumpkin flavor.  No skimping on that.  No way.  It’s crunchy, even in the cashew milk.  And it tastes amazing.  I was tempted to pour myself another bowl, but I opted to behave and stick to the serving recommendation.  I had coffee and the gym to tackle.  That being said, I sort of want to buy Trader Joe’s out of this cereal and just have it in my kitchen for all those mornings, not in pumpkin season, when I just want to have it be pumpkin season again.

I am beyond impressed.

Let’s discuss the ingredients in Trader Joe’s Pumpkin O’s.  This cereal is made from whole grain brown rice, cane sugar, whole grain oats, brown sugar, pumpkin, sea salt, natural flavor, calcium carbonate, sodium phosphate, cinnamon, annatto (color), mixed tocopherols (Vitamin E as an antioxidant for freshness).  It is gluten-free, vegan, low in fat, and contains 20 grams of whole grains per serving.  LOVE that.

As for nutritional facts, the Trader Joe’s Pumpkin O’s actually stack up to be a healthier breakfast cereal choice than most commercial cereals.  A serving is 1 cup (30 grams).  This serving will provide 110 calories, 1 gram fat, 0 grams saturated fat, 0 grams trans fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 140 mg sodium, 25 grams carbohydrates, 1 gram fiber, 9 grams sugar, and 2 grams of protein.  It’s not going to fill you up, but it will get you through the morning.

Trader Joe’s did one better than most gluten-free cereals already out on the market.  Trader Joe’s latched onto the pumpkin flavor craze…and it paid off in spades.  If you have a Trader Joe’s in your area, go there…and get a box as soon as you can.  The Pumpkin O’s will only be around for a limited time.

Time for me to restock…

Product Review: Tina’s Sweet Treats Banana Bread Granola

Tina's Sweet Treats Banana Bread Granola

Tina’s Sweet Treats Banana Bread Granola

Product: Tina’s Sweet Treats Banana Bread Granola – $2.99+

One of the best things to ever come from my birthday expedition to Jungle Jim’s International Market (FOODIE HEAVEN!) was discovery local (to Ohio…not to me) bakeries through the products they had on display and for sale at Jungle Jim’s.  I love purchasing these items over everything else, because, well…I LOVE supporting local businesses.

So, one of the products I snagged from the end cap of gluten-free local bakery goodies at the market was this amazing sounding granola from a place called Tina’s Sweet Treats, based out of Franklin, Ohio.

Tina’s Sweet Treats came about after six (6) members of her family were diagnosed with Celiac.  She went from casually baking gluten-free to full-blown.  And, as with most people, wanting to make sure that her fmaily didn’t miss out on any of the wonderful baked goods that they loved, Tina worked hard to create products that won’t lack in flavor, taste, or make her family members feel like they were missing out on something amazing.  Everything from Tina’s Sweet Treats is baked fresh from their home kitchen, which is completely free of contamination!

I love it when I can also get a product and feel 100% secure that it won’t make me sick.  When something is produced where contamination will not even come into question, I never have to play roulette with my body.  And for that, I am thankful!

Jungle Jim’s had a few options from Tina’s Sweet Treats…but the one that really caught my eye…mostly because I don’t see a lot of this from local bakeries…was the granola.  But not just any granola.  Probably what may be considered the most epic of all granola.

Banana Bread Granola.

You had my full attention with all three of those words.  Into the basket…into the shopping bag…into the car…into my pantry.

And it didn’t last long.  This past weekend, I was baking and cooking up a storm, and my lunch was something quick and easy on Saturday.  I had a soccer match to get to and I needed to make some Gluten Free and Vegan Snickerdoodle Blondies and some Dairy Free Pumpkin Ice Cream before heading out to the big playoff match for Louisville City FC.  Thus…lunch became a yogurt with granola on top.  I remembered I had the granola…and being that it is made by a bakery, no preservatives are added and therefore, it is best when used by the sell-by date.  This would certainly accomplish that.  So, after palming a handful to taste on its own (OH MY GOD YUM!), I poured some on a yogurt for my roommate and some on mine.  It was a simple, yet delicious addition to already delicious yogurts, let me tell you.

What I love, first and foremost, is that toasty flavor you get with homemade granola.  Top it off with that aroma and the taste of fresh banana bread, and you’re talking about a winning combination.  And that is exactly what Tina’s Sweet Treats accomplishes with this gluten free Banana Bread Granola.  It was the perfect topper and stir-in for my vegan yogurt, and acted as a bit of a “sundae” topper for Cathy’s Banana Greek Yogurt with a Chocolate Topping.  It was, without a doubt, a way to kick up the yogurt lunch a notch.  And, the added crunch was that bonus that sometimes yogurt lacks.

I wish I lived closer to Tina’s Sweet Treats.  I’d purchase this every week.  Probably multiple times.

The Tina’s Sweet Treats Banana Bread Granola is made from rice flour, potato starch, millet flour, tapioca flour, sweet rice flour, sugar, apples, milk, butter (cream, natural flavorings), eggs, brown sugar (white sugar, molasses) sour cream, baking powder (corn starch, sodium bicarbonate, sodium aluminum sulfate, monocalcium phosphate), vanilla (water, alcohol, vanilla bean), xanthan gum, baking soda (sodium bicarbonate), and salt.

Since this is made out of a home and sold by a local bakery, I don’t have any of the nutritional information.  But…as with all granola out there, stick to a serving (usually around 28 grams), and don’t go overboard.  It’s all good.  Enjoy a sweet treat (see what I did there?) every now and again.

Love at first banana bread-y bite.  Seriously, if you are a lover of banana and banana bread, Tina’s Sweet Treats has you covered with this granola.  I only wish they had it online to order.  Just…pure goodness and pure wow any way you want to eat it.  Personally, by the handful is the way I recommend. HA!

Product Review: Van’s Gluten Free Blueberry Walnut Soft Baked Whole Grain Granola Clusters

Van's Gluten Free Blueberry Walnut Soft Baked Whole Grain Granola Clusters

Van’s Gluten Free Blueberry Walnut Soft Baked Whole Grain Granola Clusters

Product: Van’s Gluten Free Blueberry Walnut Soft Baked Whole Grain Granola Clusters – $3.99+

I. HEART. VAN’S.

Honestly…best gluten-free waffles you can find in the freezer section of the grocery store.  For real.  Best gluten-free French toast sticks too.  Some of the best boxed gluten-free pasta meals.  Amazing gluten-free crackers.  Yes…Van’s has impressed me each and every time they have put out a product for the gluten-free market.

I won’t lie.  I have a bit of a Celiac crush on them.

Shhhh.

So, this past week, I was out and about at Target, spending all my money on all the seasons of Game of Thrones (my newest obsession!) on Blu-ray, when it occured to me that my roomie and I didn’t have any gluten-free granola in the house.  Considering at least twice a week I make delicious breakfast parfaits that require said granola, this had to be fixed.  And, wouldn’t you know it, Target recently started carrying a good amount of gluten-free breakfast things.  Technical term…things.  So, the two of us meandered over to the grocery section to see if we spotted anything we liked.

Our eyes immediately went to the KIND brand and we snagged a bag of it and then prepared to move on.  But my wandering eyes spotted something else.  Van’s…granola?!  What was this?  I didn’t even know that existed.  I didn’t know it was out in the wild!  And now I really, really wanted to try it.  Why?  Because Van’s Gluten-Free = OMGYUMMY!

So, without any hesitation, the pack of KIND granola we settled on was back in place and the bag marked NEW carrying that infamous red flag that reads: VAN’S…now made its way into our little shopping basket.  Game of Thrones…granola.  Do we know how to party or what?!

So, one morning this week, I got everything geared up to make big, big breakfast parfaits.  I had the new granola to try…I had kiwi fruit from my CSA bin…I had Greek yogurt.  So…the assembly began…but not without me first sneaking a taste of the granola.

Bad idea.

Very, very, very bad idea.

Because one taste of the Van’s Gluten Free Blueberry Walnut Soft Baked Whole Grain Granola Clusters and I was beyond hooked.  Holy Moses and the Gluten Free Gods!  I mean…think of the most fantastic Rice Krispies treat you have ever had…then multiply it by at least ten.  Maybe more.  This soft baked granola is exactly what that tastes like.  Trust me.  I used to devour Rice Krispies treats whenever possible.  This is a little bit sticky, very soft and chewy, packed with sweetness, with a hit of the dried fruit and the savory nuts to bring it balance and amazing texture.  I wanted to eat the entire bag and not share.  Not even put it in a parfait.  It was sheer perfection the way it was…straight out of the bag.  So much love.  One big gooey clump of granola…one very happy Celiathlete.  Beyond amazed.  Beyond impressed.  Simply put…I was blown away.  This is one of the only granola I now will have in my pantry.

One of those reasons is how much Van’s actually cares about what they put into their products.  And the Van’s Gluten Free Blueberry Walnut Soft Baked Whole Grain Granola Clusters are no exception.  They even put on their label: “Ingredients: (That we are proud of!)”.  WINNING!  So, what goes into the Blueberry Walnut Soft Baked Granola Clusters?  Glad you asked!  This granola is comprised of gluten-free whole grain oats, brown rice syrup, walnuts, invert cane syrup, non-GMO expeller pressed canola oil, dried blueberries, cane sugar, unsweetened coconut, honey, flax seed, gluten free oat bran, almonds, vanilla extract, sea salt, and mixed tocopherols for freshness. They are gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free, cholesterol-free, kosher, made with whole grains, and contain no artificial flavors or colors.

As far as nutrition goes…loving the stats on the Van’s Gluten Free Blueberry Walnut Soft Baked Whole Grain Granola Clusters.  One serving is actually a whopping 1/3 cup.  In this serving, you will be taking in 130 calories and 5 grans of fat.  You will also be provided with 30 mg sodium and only 6 grams of sugar.  This serving will also dish up 2 grans of fiber and 2 grams of protein.

And, trust me…you’ll just eat it straight out of the bag.  You won’t want to stop.  You’ll wish you had dished out a portion size.  And then you won’t care.  Because…just wow!!  WOW!!  Another winner in the Van’s Gluten Free product line up.  I’m going back for more of this granola this week.  Because, yeah, we polished it.

Product Review: Fiona’s Natural Foods Gluten Free Cherry Pecan Oatmeal

Fiona's Natural Foods Gluten Free Cherry Pecan Oatmeal

Fiona’s Natural Foods Gluten Free Cherry Pecan Oatmeal

Product: Fiona’s Natural Foods Gluten Free Cherry Pecan Oatmeal – $4.99

January has come and gone, but some of us are clinging tightly to our New Years Resolutions.  There are so many new members at my gym that it’s virtually impossible to get a machine unless you arrive at 5 a.m.  Granted, this happens every year…but it can still be quite the gauntlet to run for about 2-3 months.  Along with exercise come vows to eat better and to diet, diet, diet.  Now, I’m not one to technically diet.  I try to mind what I eat (although I have my weaknesses…like anything creamy like a nut/seed butter) all throughout the year, but it seems when everyone around you is dieting, you become a bit more mindful of what you’re eating as well.

Leave it to Cuisine Cube, then, to put together the perfect cube for January 2015.  Enclosed inside were some really fantastic gluten-free products…that had a healthy edge to each and every one of them.  I have already dined on the gluten-free white chili mix.  And while I have plenty left in this cube, this past day, I realized I was out of my little pouches of oatmeal for lunch…so therefore, I needed something to feast on at work.  Since oatmeal is my thing…I remembered that Cuisine Cube had included a package of oatmeal in the latest delivery.  I went and dug it out of the box and took it into the kitchen to see about getting it ready for the following day at work.

But I’ll get to that soon enough.  Let me first talk about Cuisine Cube.  Cuisine Cube is a mail delivery service, starting at a cost as low as $29.99, which delivers amazing, local, small artisan gluten-free products and foods to your doorstep each month.  Encased in each box you will find 5-6 products that are free of preservatives and chemicals that you are likely to find in the more common gluten-free product brand names on the shelves of your grocery store.  When I first signed up for this, I wasn’t sure what to expect.  But I’m hooked.  And I love the surprise I get each month when I open up the box and dig out what they included this time.  It is truly like Christmas every month.  And I have liked and loved pretty much everything that that have included.  Not always…but they have a good streak going this far.

Well, with all the promises to get fit and stay fit, it seems Cuisine Cube was prepared.  For the breakfast item in the January 2015 cube, they included a pack of Fiona’s Natural Foods Gluten Free Cherry Pecan Oatmeal.  This is not the first time Fiona’s Natural Foods has been a part of my Cuisine Cube.  I’ve had the opportunity to try (and love) a granola that was included in the very first Cuisine Cube I received (May 2014).  This made me very excited to give the oatmeal a try.  Fiona’s Natural Foods’ mission is simply to offer consumers an organic, gourmet product that is superior in taste, texture, quality, and nutritional value.  They commit themselves to this mission with each product they have on the market.  In my January Cuisine Cube, it was the Fiona’s Natural Foods Gluten Free Cherry Pecan Oatmeal.

The first thing I did was scan the packaging for the instructions on how to prepare it.  They had a few options…stove top, microwave, or cold.  I love overnight oats, and it’s so much easier to do for work than try to fit into the line for the one microwave we have for the 18 people that work in the actual office.  So, that’s what I did.  There weren’t many instructions, just to combine the oatmeal with milk and let it sit overnight.  There were no measurements, so I went with the measurements for the warm version of this cereal.  1/4 cup of the oatmeal – 1/2 cup of milk (I used Silk Unsweetened Cashew Milk).  I put it in a mason jar and set it in the fridge overnight.  There was a lot of liquid, but I was hoping that the oats would soak most of it up as it sat overnight.  It didn’t.  Not really…but it was no bother to me.

That following afternoon, around noon, when I usually take my lunch, I went to the kitchen at the office where I stashed my jar of milk and oats in the fridge and brought it back to my desk.  I took one bite…and was amazed.  The crazy amount of flavor and texture that comes with each bite is fantastic.  I will definitely have to give this a try warm in the next few days…but cold it was soupy (so much milk), but amazing.  The European-style oatmeal is a hearty and wholesome blend of dried fruits, oats, nuts and seeds.  There was no added sugars, no added oil.  Nothing that shouldn’t be in there.  Extra love just for that.  So, I carefully brought a spoonful of the chilled oats and cashew milk up to my lips and tried it.

I am beyond in love with this blend.  First of all…the flavors that come out of having no sweeteners or spices included in the ingredients is fantastic.  The seeds and nuts make each spoonful take on a fantastic and intriguing texture.  I loved the variety.  The raisins and tart cherries plumped up sitting in the milk overnight and were sweet and sour all at once.  It was fantastic.  In fact, today I made it up for my roommate as well.  Remember, Cathy doesn’t have to eat gluten-free or vegan or vegetarian…but she does in the apartment.  And, guess what?  She LOVED the oatmeal.  In fact, she said her favorite part was how plump and ripe the bits of raisin and cherry got.  Yeah…it’s a total win.  Super delicious.  I would make this for breakfast, lunch and dinner in a total heartbeat!

Let’s talk ingredients, shall we?  The Fiona’s Natural Foods Gluten Free Cherry Pecan Oatmeal is made from certified gluten free rolled oats, certified gluten free steel cut oats, raisins, flax seeds, dried sour cherries, pecans, and sunflower seeds.  Yes…that is it.  It is raw, wheat free, vegan, soy free, salt free, gluten free, and amazing!!  Just pure and simply amazing.

As for nutrition, a serving of Fiona’s Natural Foods Gluten Free Cherry Pecan Oatmeal is 1/4 cup.  In this serving, you will be taking in 120 calories and 4 grams of fat.  You will also be provided with only 3 grams of sugar.  Isn’t that fantastic.  This oatmeal is cholesterol free and sodium free.  Finally, you will be consuming 3 grams of fiber and 4 grams of protein, which will help make you feel full once you finish your serving.  It truly is one of the most fantastic oatmeal combinations I have ever eaten.

I can’t find Fiona’s Natural Foods products here in my area, so when I get something like this, it truly does make me want to place an order for more.  And that will certainly be happening as the way this oatmeal plays across your taste buds and excites your palate is really unmatched by anything else I have eaten.  Truly a fantastic food in and of itself.  Hot or cold…you’re going to want to devour the Fiona’s Natural Foods Gluten Free Cherry Pecan Oatmeal.  I know it won’t last long in my pantry.

Another brilliant product brought to me by the amazing Cuisine Cube.  I am forever in their debt.

Overnight Oats made from Fiona's Natural Foods Gluten Free Cherry Pecan Oatmeal

Overnight Oats made from Fiona’s Natural Foods Gluten Free Cherry Pecan Oatmeal