Recovering…like a boss!

If there is one thing I might have taken for granted or just not done properly in the past…it’s taken recovery time.  No runner likes time off.  I have yet to meet one who actually does proper recovery after hard efforts or distance races.

Guess what?

I actually did this time.

Some of it might have been forced.  After all…thanks to the petri dish of germs that is Disney (especially on Marathon Weekend), I came down with the Disney Flu.  Yay.  And no, this doesn’t come with fun Mickey Ears and character experiences.  It comes with a big dose of Theraflu and sleep.

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I mean…it has been non-stop since I returned from the freezer that was Orlando over Marathon weekend.  Coughing.  The coughing is the killer.  I am finally able to breathe again.  Thank you for calming down sinuses.  Remember…a co-worker gave me a sinus-only cold before I even left for Dopey.  Run all the races.  Go to all the parks.  Is it any wonder I ended up like this?

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Has my recovery been a bit forced?  Perhaps.  But here’s the thing…

I set a goal this year.  A goal of having an injury-free 2018.  So when my running coach tells me to rest…dammit…I’m resting.  When my mileage is lower than I like it to be…well…so be it.  Trust the process, right?  I have a few other big goals I’m hoping to reach in the next year or two…so I have to learn to believe in myself…and the method that will help me get there more efficiently than…past attempts.

I admit to, in the past, rushing back into activities.  I bounce back quickly.  I do.  But I also break down too.  We all do.  We just don’t always like to admit to it.

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Here’s the thing…we might feel good…but we put our bodies through a lot and push it to the limit, not just in races…but in training too.  Maybe moreso in training…and we’re LESS likely to take recovery/rest days during training.  I don’t care what distance you raced…if you raced…RECOVER!!  Like…actually recover!!  Would I have taken time off if I hadn’t caught the Disney Crud?  Yep.  I actually would have.  Like I said, I have big goals this year and to achieve them, I need to respect my body and learn a little patience.

I mean…granted, I hurt for about 3 days following the Dopey Challenge…but I also pushed through most of the 48.6 (and more) miles that I covered over the course of the weekend.  And that’s just running.  I still had parks to visit in between.  Because, as much as I’d love to lay low…I pay for those Disney tickets and they aren’t cheap.  By God, I was going to get my money’s worth.  Park hopping…princess hunting…fast passing rides…all of it.  I was doing it.  And…I did it.  All.

But it doesn’t have to be The Dopey Challenge to make taking down time a priority.  Any race…any distance…anywhere where you push yourself more or further…do yourself a favor.  Take some time off.  Depending on the race distance…it could be a week…it could be two…it could be more.  Don’t think you HAVE to get to the gym the day after a half marathon or hop on a spin bike or even go for a “recovery run.”  Let’s face it…whether you back of the speed or not…a 6 mile run is generally a 6 mile run…”recovery” or not.  I listened to a podcast recently from a running coach who said that there was absolutely no such thing as a recovery run.  You’re still putting in an effort and working the same muscles that your regular runs do.  And most people don’t actually run these that much slower.  Your entire body needs to heal up to get stronger…don’t rush the process.  You might feel good immediately after the event…but you’ve still put that body through a lot.  You might feel good a week after…and you still might need more down time, depending on the distance that you ran.

Remember…there is no such thing as over-training…just under recovery.

RECOVERY…is super important.  I have been fortunate enough that my recovery time has fallen when it’s gotten stupid cold outside, with the addition of some ice and snow on the ground.  Bonus.  I’m always cold…so I hate running in the cold.  And I especially hate winter weather running.

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In addition, let me be the first to remind you that you should NEVER stop eating properly or regularly despite recovery time.  Your body needs all those nutrition benefits, especially as you recover from a hard effort.  With the Disney Flu…I have still maintained my regular food times.  I mean, I do live on a schedule.  What I have done is simply change what I have been eating.  Mostly because I can’t taste flavors right now…and just eating food for texture isn’t working for me.  So, soup and chili have been my go-tos.  But I am making sure I am hitting all my nutrition needs every day.  And yes…I’m eating well and I’m definitely eating enough calories each day.  Eat well, eat enough, eat healthy.  So many people focus on weight and get really crazy with their nutrition.  When you’re training, you need to eat.  And you need to eat well.  When you’re recovering…you also need to eat…and yes…you need to eat well.  Now is not the time to cut down on your nutrition.  I promise…you aren’t going to get fat.

As I stated, for the past two weeks…all I’ve really wanted it soup.  That being said…I love that soup has so many different varieties out there because it keeps it interesting.  I’ve been serving mine up with different gluten-free crackers.  And sometimes I add avocado or something to bulk it up.  I mean…who doesn’t love tomato soup with a grilled (vegan) cheese sandwich?  I know my body needs certain things to stay in good shape even when I’m not working out as much.  NEVER skimp on nutrition when you are training or recovering.

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So…I’m on the mend.  I took time off from work to sleep and recovery both before I left for Disney (initial sinus bleh) and then basically all the rest of the week after I got back from Disney.  Sleep and rest and proper nutrition have definitely helped me bounce back from not just the races…but the sickness too.  My muscles don’t ache anymore (also…thank you Roll Recovery!) because I’ve let them heal and get stronger.  I’ve been using my new Roll Recovery R8 and R3…as well as my foam roller.  And stretching.  Never underestimate the power of stretching.  I even went to 2 of my spin classes this past week.  I took it easy.  I didn’t push as hard as I normally would.  And I still felt like it kicked my ass.  I’m not mad.  I’m taking my time.

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That being said…if you thought I was a germophobe before…you should see me now…

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Remember, friends…living your best life is all about balance.  Find time to rest…recovery…find balance…eat well…play…laugh…and yes…return to that activity you love…once your body is stronger from the respect and rest you allowed it.

I took 2 weeks off…and I still feel I fatigue easily.  I’m easing back into with with longer walks and short run segments.  And I still feel like I’m a badass.  I’m a very smart…totally recovered…less injury-prone badass!!

YAY!

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Three Things on Thursday

My life is a roller coaster these days.  Good days.  Bad days.  Highs and lows.  There are days I feel unstoppable and days that stop me cold.  There are days where I feel on top of the world, and days where the tears just won’t stop.

There are pain-free days…and days where it hurts just getting out of bed.

This is my life…and has been since February 16, 2015.

Almost a year.

Still not better.  Still fighting.  Still not where I imagined I’d be.

I’m going to be honest, I came out of the weekend, despite the slip and fall on ice, feeling good.  My pain levels were down.  I was moving without problems.  And then…Tuesday hill repeats.  UGH!  JUST UGH!!  I did fine, but when I stop that’s when the problems start.  And despite a round of stretches my physical therapist assigned me, I was still feeling it yesterday and this morning when I worked in my training runs.

All that being said, I’ve powered through a lot, and despite my demanding work/training/recovery schedule…I’ve done some pretty amazing things so far this week.  I thought I’d share!

1. THEMED SPIN CLASSES

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I think I have the perfect (always colorful) tights for a Disco-themed spin class, yes?

Rocking perfect tights for a disco-themed spin class, yes?

My amazing and inspiring friend, Deana, is a very fun spin instructor.  It’s always a mixed bag with her.  And when you attend one of her classes, you are going to walk out of there a sweaty mess.  She’s in training for her first Half Ironman, and we’re in training with her, in a way.  At least on the stationary bike in the safety of the walls of the YMCA.  HA!

Anyway, this week, Deana has had themed spin classes.  And I am loving it.  Monday morning, my 5:30 a.m. class was treated to Spinning to the ’90s.  All the music was songs straight out of the 1990s…and I knew and even sang along with every single one of them.  Not loudly, because, I wouldn’t put anyone through the torture of hearing me sing, but it really takes your mind off of that hill climb and definitely brought a lot of hoots and hollers from the class.  And Friday morning, we’re getting a disco ball and having our own Disco Inferno all up in the spin room.  And I am already working on what I intend to wear for said Disco day.  There might even be a lava lamp.  Regardless, I’ll be ready to work hard to the tune of the best disco songs.

Themed spin classes…who knew?!

2. HILL REPEATS

Bright colors, bright lights, and loving that I'm DONE with hill repeats.

Bright colors, bright lights, and loving that I’m DONE with hill repeats.

Love them or hate them…hill repeats are real.  In fact, hill repeats are what my physical therapist currently wants me doing.  So, every Tuesday, I’m out at either Cherokee Park or Iroquois Park here in Louisville…running me some major hill repeats.  The past two weeks, I’ve knocked out 4 miles of hill repeats each Tuesday night.  4 freakin’ miles.  To this point, that is the furthest I have run since…the stress fracture in my leg back in August.

I won’t lie…a little part of me panics every time I go out there for these.  Hills do make you a stronger runner…but they hurt.  In my case, they really hurt.  But, I feel strong while doing them, and after some plyometric exercises and stretches…and a little TLC from my foam roller…I’m usually back in the game the next day.  So yeah…hills.  YAY!

I don’t worry about my time or how long I’m out there or even my speed.  What’s important to me is that I am actually out and running again.  Not completely pain-free…but being out there is SO much better than where I have been.  I’ll take every chance I can get to attempt to get stronger again.

3. CHILI COOK OFF

Hawaiian Chili (with a bit of Gluten Free Corn Spoonbread and Gluten Free Breton Original with Flax Crackers)

Hawaiian Chili (with a bit of Gluten Free Corn Spoon Bread and Gluten Free Breton Original with Flax Crackers)

So, yesterday was the annual chili cook off at my office.  Now, I have never actually submitted a chili to this cook off because, prior to this year, the co-owner (who has since retired) used to always tell me not to bother with bringing in a vegetarian chili, since his wife was making one.  I just never argued the fact.  With this year being wide open, I got a little carried away and ended up making 2 chilies and 1 batch of my gluten free corn spoon bread recipe that I’ve killed every time I’ve made it.  Meaning, it’s extremely awesome.  When it comes to cooking, especially in a quasi-competitive manner, I can be pretty indecisive on what chili to make.  So, I did what any chef would do…

…I made both.

Pizza Chili (which I figured would be my star) and Hawaiian Chili.

I realized I was splitting my odds at winning, but…I love both of these chilies and they were both very different.  VERY different.  Even from the other chilies (there were 7 entries…2 of which were mine) that were entered into the annual cook off.

And, shocking me (and probably the rest of the office who doesn’t always want to venture into my plant-based, gluten-free goodies)…I won.  With…Hawaiian Chili.  So not the chili that I expected to win.  I was seriously surprised. Of the two I brought in, I thought Pizza Chili would be the more popular one.  And it was a very near thing with the runner-up, a Mexican Beer Chili.  The winning chili is pictured above with the corn spoon bread.

I am so happy.  This is the first time a vegan/vegetarian chili has won.  And it’s the first time I have won anything at work.  So…YAY!!

I’ve had many requests for this recipe, so I will leave it here.  Do try it.  It’s amazing.

Recipe: Hawaiian Chili
Makes 4 very large servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 garlic clove, minced
  • 2 bell pepper, seeded & diced
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 (15 oz) can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 3 cups pineapple, diced
  • 2 (15 oz) cans tomato sauce
    Crackers (optional…to serve on the side)
Directions:
Line a large pot with vegetable broth.
Sauté onions, garlic, and bell pepper until onions are translucent and bell peppers are soft.
Add spices, stir to coat vegetables.
Add remaining ingredients and simmer for 20-30 minutes.

Serve with crackers

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Seriously…make this stuff.

If you live in the area…come to tomorrow’s 5:30 a.m. spin class at the YMCA of Southern Indiana in New Albany and let Deana bring the funk and disco back…disco ball included.

And…run hills.  Feel strong.

Product Review: Dare Breton Gluten Free Original with Flax Crackers

Dare Breton Gluten Free Original with Flax Crackers

Dare Breton Gluten Free Original with Flax Crackers

Product: Dare Breton Gluten Free Original with Flax Crackers – $4.59+

Growing up, I remember eating Dare Breton Crackers (the wheat versions) at my friends houses at little get-together or parties.  I remember schmearing port wine cheese over them and devouring them by the box-full.

So, you can imagine how excited I was to see boxes of Gluten Free Breton Crackers on the shelves of my local Kroger and Walmart stores.  Yep.  Very excited.  But, I never really could think of something I could use with them.  And being on a super-strict budget these days, I had to pass them over time-and-time again.

Well, when I went home for Christmas, my mom picked up a box of the Herb & Garlic Breton Gluten Free Crackers…but we never quite got around to eating them.  While I love cooking and making homemade dishes, with the craziness of the holidays and all the family, we tend to eat out more than in.  And that’s fine.  But it means the crackers remained untested and untasted.

However, the other day while killing off some time on a Sunday morning (after a snowstorm), my roommate and I were walking the aisles of our local Fresh Market, because we hadn’t gone out there in months.  On sale, there in the cracker aisle, were boxes of Dare Breton Gluten Free Crackers.  Of the gluten free varieties available, my roomie suggested we begin sampling them by going with the original flavor.  So, it was settled.  A sale meant they came home, so a box of the Dare Breton Gluten Free Original Flax with Crackers made it to my pantry.

And didn’t stay there long.

This week’s meal planning called for 2 days of soup and some chili too.  I was participating (and ended up winning) in the office chili cookoff and…hey…crackers are great with both soup and chili.

So, Monday morning, out came the crackers, stashing some in little traveling baggies for my roommate and I to have at lunch when we heated up our homemade vegan Smokey Potato Soup.  Lunch time rolled around, soup was assembled, and the crackers came out.

One bite…and I knew…I knew this was cracker gold.  Gluten free crackers either are amazing or they taste like cardboard.  These…are amazing.  Light and buttery in flavor, these Breton Crackers reminded me so much of their original counterparts.  They were great for dunking in the soup, piling chili on top and noshing, and just busting up to have a little added crunch in the soup. They’d be great to schmear whatever schmeary things you like to schmear on crackers.  Cheese, butter, peanut butter, hummus…whatever.  These crackers are perfect for all of it.  The box even comes with two cracker-type recipes on it, in case you’re feeling uninspired.  But crackers this good will leave you feeling anything but uninspired.  Trust me.  Love their crisp and flaky texture.  So amazing.  And, with the added addition of flax, the Dare Breton Gluten Free Original with Flax Crackers add a little bit of omega goodness to each serving.

I will probably always have a box of these in my pantry.  No doubt.  And one can always use crackers, yes?

Let’s talk about the ingredients that go into the Dare Breton Gluten Free Original with Flax Crackers.  These crackers are made from corn starch, arrowroot flour, canola oil, coconut oil, green lentil flour, rice bran, flax seeds, sugar, salt, sesame seeds, modified milk ingredients, baking soda, ammonium bicarbonate, xanthan gum, soy lecithin, and natural flavor.  They are processed in a peanut-free facility also.

As far as nutrition information goes, you’ll love this!  The rather large,  circular crackers that are Dare Breton Gluten Free Original with Flax Crackers are a great way to enjoy a snack without the guilt.  A serving size is 4 crackers (18 grams) and the box contains about 8 servings.  One serving will provide you with 90 calories, 4.5 grams fat, 2 grams saturated fat, 0 grams trans fat, 0.5 grams polyunsaturated fat, 2 grams monounsaturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 80 mg sodium, 12 grams carbohydrates, less than 1 gram fiber, less than 1 gram sugars, and less than 1 gram of protein.  They won’t fill you up or really wipe out your calorie count for the day.  Gotta love it.

So, if you are still on the hunt for a cracker that lives up to the standards of the crackers you may have grown up with…try to find the Dare Breton Gluten Free Original with Flax Crackers.  Their tender-crisp texture and wholesome taste are reminiscent of the Breton crackers I devoured before the Celiac diagnosis.  What a great way to bring great taste from a trusted brand to the gluten free community.  And for a very fair price.

So happy.

 

Product Review: Milton’s Craft Bakers Gluten Free Everything Baked Crackers

Milton's Craft Bakers Gluten Free Everything Baked Crackers

Milton’s Craft Bakers Gluten Free Everything Baked Crackers

Product: Milton’s Craft Bakers Gluten Free Everything Baked Crackers – $3.59+

I wish I could remember where I picked up the pouch of Milton’s Craft Bakers Gluten Free Everything Baked Crackers…but I don’t remember.  I think…think…they came from my local Kroger.  Possibly one of those days where my roommate threw something into the cart, off list, to surprise me.  Who knows for sure.

What I do know is that I have a pouch of Milton’s Craft Bakers Gluten Free Everything Baked Crackers…so why not pair it with a hearty (and healthy) chowder for lunch today?  Hey, if I have the product, I best use said product!  It does no good just sitting in my pantry (or in this case, in the basket on top of my fridge).

Today, I popped them open.

Milton’s Craft Bakers  began in 1995 with the opening of Milton’s Restaurant and Delicatessen in Del Mar, California, offering up wholesome and great tasting foods in the tradition of the delis of New York City.  The founders then continued their passion by creating their own breads for any sandwiches they served.  The customers loved the bread so much that they wanted to take it home with them…and thus…Milton’s Baking Company was born.  Since then, their line of delicious and nutritious breads has grown, and they have since developed an assortment of flavorful crackers made with the same whole grains that they make those famous breads with.  But, wait for just a moment.  That’s not all.  This past summer, Milton’s stepped into the gluten-free realm by offering a new line of crackers and cookies, that they state are so good that consumers won’t know for a moment that they are gluten-free.  The crackers come in four (4) varieties: Cheddar Cheese, Crispy Sea Salt, Everything and Multi-Grain.  The cookies have three (3) varieties: Chocolate Chip, Double Chocolate Chip, and Snickerdoodle.

I haven’t seen the cookies yet…but…now that I’ve had the crackers…I’d love to try them.  So, let’s get into the nitty-gritty here.  I never do anything basic, so when faced with a flavor option, I aim to be different.  Now, these might have been the only offerings at the mystery store where I mysteriously picked these up…but…either way, why start with Multi-Grain and Crispy Sea Salt?  I can’t do cheese…so EVERYTHING!

Being a New Yorker…I love me a good (gluten free) everything bagel.  I really, really do.  It has every wonderful flavor packed into each bite.  You want poppy seeds…yep…in there.  Sesame seeds…also in there.  Onion and caraway…got that too!  EVERYTHING literally means…everything.  And any New Yorker appreciates this flavor.

But…did the flavor come across in cracker form?  YES!  Oh yes.  First of all, these crackers have an abundance of flavor, without being a distraction.  Everything about this cracker is right and good in the world.  Simple pleasures come in simple packages…and this was one I am glad I somehow ended up with.  These crackers are made with 7 grains and 4 seeds, which are perfect for snacking, stacking and dipping.  For reals.  The texture is thin, and crispy.  I don’t want a cracker that wilts in soups and stews.  I want it to keep that texture and crispiness when I dip, or spoon heaps of the soup onto the top of these.  Oh yeah…these went above and beyond all expectations.  And, yes, they have that perfect everything I love about everything everything (did you follow that?) flavor.  It’s turning the best bagel in the world into a chip…that makes it so versatile and amazing.  And I am a happier snacker because of it.

Let’s take a look at the ingredients that Milton’s Craft Bakers puts into the Gluten Free Everything Baked Crackers.  These crackers are made from brown rice flour, gluten free oats, potato flakes, potato starch, corn flour, high oleic sunflower oil (tocopherols, rosemary extract and ascorbyl palmitate added as an antioxidant), rice flour, cane sugar, white toasted sesame seeds, molasses granules (syrup, molasses), spice blend (poppy seeds, caraway seeds, sesame seeds, dehydrated onion), sugar, black sesame seeds, sea salt, millet, whey protein concentrate, poppy seeds, quinoa seeds, amaranth, autolyzed yeast, baking soda, monocalcium phosphate, sunflower lecithin, salt, sodium acid pyrophosphate, garlic powder, natural butter flavor, and caraway seeds.  These crackers are non-GMO verified, certified gluten free, wheat free, kosher, and vegetarian.

As for nutrition information, the Milton’s Craft Bakers Gluten Free Everything Baked Crackers are actually a healthy option when paired against other snacks out there.  A serving size is about 14 crackers (30 grams) and there are around 4.5 servings per package.  A serving will provide you with 130 calories, 4 grams fat, 0 grams saturated fat, 0 grams trans fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 180 mg sodium, 21 grams carbohydrates, 1 gram fiber, 3 grams sugars, and 2 grams protein.

These baked (not fried) crackers definitely deliver on their promise to provide a healthier snack without the gluten!  These are one of the best crackers I have had in my gluten-free life.  And I love crackers.  They are even (dare I say it?) better than Crunchmaster!  Pair it with a spread, soup, or just snack on them on their own.  However you do it…just do it.  I’d hate to have you miss out on these delicious snack crackers.

 

Product Review: Gratify Gluten Free Tuscan Herbs Baked Bites

Gratify Gluten Free Tuscan Herbs Baked Bites

Gratify Gluten Free Tuscan Herbs Baked Bites

Product: Gratify Gluten Free Tuscan Herbs Baked Bites – $2.99

When it comes to gluten-free bites, very few do it as deliciously well (or as affordable) as Gratify Gluten Free.  I first became familiar with this brand when out shopping at Meijer, seeing shelf-after-shelf of their pretzel varieties…including both yogurt and milk chocolate covered varieties.  During the holidays last year, a dark chocolate peppermint version was introduced to the market.  You better believe I devoured that bag.  By myself.  In an airport.  And I didn’t feel any shame.  Not one bit.

That’s the thing about Gratify though…it’s the little brand with the big promise of fitting tasty snacks into your lifestyle.  And when a company that focuses on gluten-free snacks states that they are “obsessed with great taste,” you expect them to deliver all the high notes of flavors and textures.  You want to be able to break these out at a cocktail party and not have anyone glance at them sideways and give you the “that must taste like cardboard” eyebrow and then ignore the snacks entirely.

Whether gluten-free or not, Gratify definitely knows how to deliver on their promises.  With simple and basic products, these are as “reliable and comfortable as your favorite pair of jeans.”  Flavors are big and bold, and textures are so amazing that no one would guess these were gluten-free…unless they read the box.  Be proud of your gluten-free snacking tendencies.  Don’t hide the box…because this brand knows how to keep you and your guests…”Gratified.”

See what they did there?  HA!

With all that being said, I had never seen a box of the new Gratify Gluten Free Baked Bites Crackers.  In fact, I had no idea they even existed until I was at Raisin Rack in Columbus, Ohio and found them on the clearance shelf.  Seriously.  For $1.99 on sale.  HELLO!  Into my big basket of gluten-free goodness it went, and with a gluten-free and vegan chickpea noodle soup on tap for dinner tonight, I figured there was no better time to bust out these crackers than now.

Because soup and crackers…are BFFs.

The boxes that were available at Raisin Rack for the Gratify Gluten Free Baked Bites were the Tuscan Herbs flavor, although these bite-size crackers (they look like mini saltines, no joke!) also come in Original, Everything, and Cinnamon flavors.  I broke out the kitchen scale and measured out a serving of these adorable crackers to serve alongside a big, satisfying bowl of the homemade soup.  And, guess what…

They were perfect.  Absolutely perfect.  Texture-wise…just as light and airy as a regular saltine, with that crumble you get when you bite down.  It was fantastic to pop these into my mouth on their own or after being dipped into my soup and picking up some of the chunky vegetables that I cooked into it.  Packed with great seasoning and flavor, each bite was amazing and satisfying (or gratifying).  I found myself eating the crackers more on their own than in or with the soup.  That, my friends, is a huge deal since I’m a bit of a dipper when it comes to things I eat with soup (sammies and crackers!).  I loved these from the first to the last bite.  In fact, I even have dished up servings to take to work to have with the leftover soup for lunch.  Can’t go without these.  Now, I just hope Meijer or some other local store that carries the Gratify brand has these in stock.  I never want my pantry to be un-Gratified.  HA!

So, let’s talk about what goes into the Gratify Gluten Free Tuscan Herbs Baked Bites, shall we?  These adorable bite-size crackers are made from corn starch, palm fruit oil (RSPO certified), rice flour, sugar, inulin, sea salt, corn grits, maltodextrin, dehydrated vegetables (garlic, onion), leavenings (ammonium bicarbonate, sodium bicarbonate, disodium diphosphate), spices, cellulose gum, emulsifier (soy lecithin), dried yeast, dextrose, rice starch, cottonseed oil and/or canola oil, and natural flavors.  These crackers are wheat free, dairy free, egg free, and contain non-GMO ingredients.  They are certified gluten-free.

As for nutritional information, a serving of Gratify Gluten Free Tuscan Herbs Baked Bites is 30 grams (which is A LOT of little crackers) and there are 4 servings per box.  A serving will provide you with 120 calories, 4.5 grams fat, 2 grams saturated fat, 0 grams trans fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 240 mg sodium, 21 grams carbohydrates, 2 grams fiber, 1 gram sugars, and less than 1 gram protein.

I loved these crackers at first bite.  Gratify Gluten Free does manage to do something that most gluten-free crackers don’t do…and that’s taste like and feel like a real cracker.  The mouthfeel, the crispy texture, the flavor…it’s all there and it’s all perfection.  And that’s what really astonished me and blew me away.  These crackers are perfect for every crowd…and I hope to be able to find more in my area.  Otherwise, next time I’m in Columbus, I’m stocking up!

Trust me…these are worth a spot in the pantry.

Product Review: Pamela’s Products Gluten Free Honey Grahams

Pamela's Products Gluten Free Honey Grahams

Pamela’s Products Gluten Free Honey Grahams

Product: Pamela’s Products Gluten Free Honey Grahams – $4.99+

It’s fall.  And while, to most people (me included), that means pumpkin everything…it also holds another significance.  Bon fires.  And with bon fires…S’mores!

In fact, this had been the plan for my friend Jen’s wedding party on the night of the rehearsal dinner.  The dinner was hosted at her parents house, and the fire pit was to be lit later that evening and the wedding party was going to eat a round of S’mores while just hanging out.

We were all too full from dinner to actually make this happen, so the vegan marshmallows and the gluten-free graham crackers I had my roommate bring up from Louisville…remained untouched.

Until this past week.

Because dessert is awesome and one of the groom’s sisters (a bridesmaid) mentioned how she ate her S’mores with a peanut butter cup instead of a Hershey’s bar.  And this peeked my interest.  So, while out, we picked up some peanut butter cups and brought them home.

Now, I have tried out a few gluten-free graham crackers…from Kinnikinnick’s S’morables to Schär’s Honeygrams (I’ve sampled, never actually purchased them myself) to Pamela’s Gluten Free Mini Grahams (I have reviewed the Cinnamon and the Chocolate).  But, when I spotted the full-size Pamela’s Products Gluten Free Honey Grahams, I knew they had to be what came to Upstate New York with me.  After all, I wanted S’mores too.  So, that’s how I ended up with a box…and that’s why they lasted longer than usual.  That being said, this past week, with cooler weather and a some vegan marshmallows taking up residence in my pantry…S’mores became dessert.

As I have found with all gluten-free graham crackers, the Pamela’s Products Honey Graham variety is definitely a thicker cracker than it’s glutenous counterpart.  That being said, these particular crackers had a good feel to them, and weren’t all busted apart.  In fact, when you snapped them in half…they actually broke along the perforation, instead of in random spots making them nonuniform and more difficult to build a perfect S’more.

And so, with peanut butter cup and two (2) vegan marshmallows, I created, in the comfort of my own kitchen, the ultimate gluten-free S’more.  With a promise that Pamela’s Gluten Free Honey Grahams would “bring back a taste from your childhood,” I was holding them to this, expecting to bite into something amazing and life-changing (when it comes to gluten-free versions of anything).

I’m not going to lie…these were fan-damn-tastic!!  Just…WOW!!  With the exception of being thicker than an average graham cracker, these were the closest I have found to the treats that I enjoyed as a kid (and not always in S’mores, mind you!).  The flavor was perfect.  A little sweet with the kiss of honey and still had that graham cracker crumble that everyone knows too well.  The texture was a bit sturdier than standard graham crackers, but that isn’t such a bad thing.  I thought that these had the right amount of sweetness, the right amount of crispy, and the perfect amount of YUMMY-DELICIOUS-MMMMM…for even the casual graham cracker consumer.  And, with a sturdier chocolate portion on the S’mores I built at home (ie: peanut butter cup), having the thicker and sturdier cracker was a blessing in disguise.  My kitchen torch toasted up the marshmallows to perfection and…when put together…it was fall in one perfect, sweet, peanut butter, gooey treat!  I was beyond impressed, beyond elated, and beyond satisfied.  If heaven was made of chocolate, peanut butter, and marshmallow, Pamela’s Gluten Free Honey Grahams would be the sandwich to their filling.

So, let’s talk about the ingredients that go into Pamela’s Products Gluten Free Honey Grahams.  These crackers are made from a gluten-free flour blend that includes brown rice flour, white rice flour, tapioca starch, sweet rice flour, and xanthan gum, as well as organic non-GMO butter (salted), brown cane sugar, sorghum flour, gluten-free oat bran, molasses, organic non-GMO honey, gluten-free flavors, grainless and aluminum free baking powder (sodium acid pyrophosphate, potato starch, sodium bicarbonate), baking soda, cinnamon, and sea salt.  This product is gluten-free, wheat-free, soy-free, corn-free, nut-free and egg-free.  There are no artificial flavors or additives, no hydrogenated oils or trans fats, and no corn syrup.  These grahams are certified gluten-free by GFCO and made in a gluten-free facility.

As far as nutritional information goes, a serving of the Pamela’s Products Gluten Free Honey Grahams is two (2) crackers or 36 grams.  There are six (6) servings per box.  One serving will provide you with 180 calories, 8 grams fat, 4 grams saturated fat, 0 grams trans fat, 20 mg cholesterol, 120 mg sodium, 26 grams carbohydrates, 1 gram fiber, 9 grams sugars, and 1 gram of protein.  A nutritional powerhouse they are not…but DAMN…they are totally worth indulging in every now and again!

If you want to bring back childhood memories of sitting around a campfire, then the best and most gluten-free friendly way is by choosing Pamela’s Products Gluten Free Honey Grahams for your S’mores-eating needs.  And for any other needs you might have that involve graham cracker goodness.  Pulse them up for a pie crust…eat them on their own or topped with nut butter…or build some S’mores.  Whatever your heart desires, make sure you build it with the best ingredients out there.  For me…that means Pamela’s Products Gluten Free Honey Grahams, peanut butter cups, and some vegan marshmallows.  YUMMY!

Product Review: Pamela’s Products Gluten Free Mini Chocolate Grahams

Pamela's Products Gluten Free Mini Chocolate Grahams

Pamela’s Products Gluten Free Mini Chocolate Grahams

Product: Pamela’s Products Gluten Free Mini Chocolate Grahams – $4.99+

Chocolate.  Graham.  Crackers.

Three words that, to someone like me, are just as important as “I love you.”  Okay…well…maybe not, but this comes really close in my book.

For the longest time, the gluten-free market was devoid of graham crackers.  There were a couple out there…sure, most notably Kinnikinnick’s S’moreables and Schär’s Honeygrams…which I’ve sampled, but have never purchased for myself.  Oh, and there are plenty or recipes out there.  Even the famous GF Jules was selling a mix where you could bake your own.  But cracker baking and I don’t always get along…and the gluten free snack isles were still missing that WOW with the graham cracker love.

And then…along came Pamela!

Pamela’s Products first announced their latest product breakthrough at this year’s Expo West.  They were going to be offering two different types of snack crackers…in the sweetened graham form.  Graham crackers!!  Graham crackers that reached beyond the ordinary.  In fact, Pamela’s Products stepped it up and took graham cracker snacking to the next level by offering two different sizes…Graham Cracker Size and Mini Grahams…in three (3) flavors: Honey, Cinnamon, and Chocolate.

How can you NOT get on board with this??!

The hardest part, initially…was finding them.  I searched high and low in my area for these and finally gave up, believing that it would take at least a year for the Louisville area to get them in.  But then, randomly one afternoon with a quick stop by my Kroger (of all places)…two flavors of the mini grahams sat on a shelf, illuminated in the heavenly fluorescent grocery store lights.  And, yes, I snagged a box of each and took them home with me.  I had to have them.  I’d been searching for them.  It had to happen.

Previously, I devoured the box of the Pamela’s Products Gluten Free Mini Cinnamon Grahams by making up little deconstructed S’mores bowls for desserts.  The box of the Mini Chocolate Grahams have been waiting their turn to shine, but with summer in full swing, I was all about cool treats from the freezer.  But the cooler fall temperatures are moving in…and with that…out comes the big bowl of S’mores-y goodness once again.  But this time…with a complete chocolate spin.

Yep…the Pamela’s Products Gluten Free Mini Chocolate Grahams came down from the top pantry shelf tonight.  And into a couple of bowls they went.  Just as with the Cinnamon variety, the Mini Chocolate Grahams are also little medallions of graham cracker goodness…about the size of a quarter, sporting a gorgeous “P” for “Pamela” on each one.  The Mini Chocolate Grahams are shaped like little hexagons, perfect for one-bite servings, especially if you just want something mindless and easy for snacking purposes.  Or, hey…dip them into milk or coffee.  YUM!  But, now I’m getting away from the point.  The point is…they are the perfect snack size.  I popped a few to much on (for the sake of the blog, you know!) while building the Double Chocolate S’mores Bowls tonight.  This dessert started with a layer of the Pamela’s Products Gluten Free Mini Chocolate Grahams, a tablespoon of dark chocolate chips, and then topped off with vegan marshmallows, which I then toast with my kitchen torch, successfully melting the chocolate chips in the process.  In essence…the ideal dessert bowl of marshmallow perfection.

Oh chocolate gods above…this is the perfect…perfect mini graham snack.  These crackers make all other chocolate snacks pale in comparison.  Not only are they crunchy, but they are sweet and packed with a chocolate punch, that doesn’t overpower, but definitely lets you know…this graham cracker is chocolate…not honey…not cinnamon.  Chocolate, baby!  I love that each cracker is lightly dusted with a bit of sugar, bringing out a nice hit of sweetness.  And when paired with the melt-y dark chocolate chips and the toasted mini vegan marshmallows…oh…dessert nirvana.  S’mores taken to the next dessert level.  Who says you need a campfire?!  For that matter, who says S’mores can’t be made gluten free.  These crackers are AMAZING!!  Sinfully deliciously good.  The Pamela’s Products Gluten Free Mini Chocolate Grahams are ideal for snacking, munching, dunking, or for use on desserts, as a pie crust, topping off ice cream…making mini ice cream sandwiches, or simply putting over your morning cereal (I make a killer S’mores hot cereal…that these will be DELICIOUS on!).  What’s not to love, especially when all that flavor comes from real cocoa!!

Let’s discuss what the Pamela’s Products Gluten Free Mini Chocolate Grahams are made from, shall we?  This particular treat is made up of a gluten free flour blend (brown rice flour, white rice flour, tapioca starch, sweet rice flour, xanthan gum), brown cane sugar, organic non-GMO butter (salted), cocoa powder, gluten-free oat bran, organic non-GMO honey, molasses, gluten-free flavors, baking soda, grainless and aluminum free baking powder (sodium acid pyrophosphate, potato starch, sodium bicarbonate), sea salt, and a topping that is made up of organic sugar.  This product is certified gluten-free by GFCO, made in a dedicated gluten-free facility, and kosher certified.  They are gluten-free, wheat-free, soy-free, corn-free, nut-free, egg-free, contain no artificial flavors or additives, contain no hydrogenated oils or trans fats, and contain no corn syrup.

If that doesn’t make you want to rush out and find these…this might…

The nutritional facts for the Pamela’s Products Gluten Free Mini Chocolate Grahams aren’t too bad either.  A serving size is 10 crackers (29 grams) and there are about 7 servings per box.  This serving will provide you with 140 calories, 6 grams fat, 3.5 grams saturated fat, 0 grams trans fat, 15 mg cholesterol, 140 mg sodium, 22 grams carbohydrates, 1 gram fiber, 11 grams sugars, and 1 gram of protein.  Not too bad for a handful of chocolate mini graham crackers, right?!  I’m happy with it.  Happily eating straight out of the box. HA!

No…we all know, I’m the queen of portion sizes.  I live by my kitchen scale!

So…feel free to find, purchase, open, and snack away on a box of Pamela’s Products Gluten Free Mini Chocolate Grahams.  Munch, crunch, dunk, dip, or pile high with chocolate and marshmallows…and devour.  Do whatever it is you want with these little miniature graham crackers.  These gluten-free treats are fantastic.  A great chocolate snack that will definitely curb your craving…without denying you that fantastic chocolate flavor you love and crave.  Trust me…you’ll want more than one box.

Double Chocolate S'mores Bowl made with Pamela’s Products Gluten-Free Mini Chocolate Grahams, dark chocolate, and vegan marshmallows

Double Chocolate S’mores Bowl made with Pamela’s Products Gluten-Free Mini Chocolate Grahams, dark chocolate, and vegan marshmallows