Product Review: Bountiful Pantry Risotto with Garden Vegetables

Bountiful Pantry Risotto with Garden Vegetables

Bountiful Pantry Risotto with Garden Vegetables

Product: Bountiful Pantry Risotto with Garden Vegetables – $8.50

Risotto is one of those dishes that you love to hate.  Not so much in the dining and devouring part…but the making of said dish.  Don’t get me wrong, I am a risotto fanatic as much as the next person, however…I much prefer the unorthodox way of cooking it…in a dutch oven…in the oven.  Baked.

Stovetop…just never seems to want to work out fright for me.

That being said, back in my April (Spring) 2015 Cuisine Cube, I received a package of risotto from Bountiful Pantry’s gluten free selection.  I was pretty stoked.  Gotta love risotto.  I couldn’t wait to find a night to cook it up.

And then…I just never got around to it.  With everything that was going on with my hip injury, recovery, broken leg, travel, more travel, more recovery, the holidays…it’s been pretty non-stop since I received this box in the mail.  Thankfully, it was good through April of 2016…so it wasn’t a waste.

Before I get into the product itself…here’s a little bit about Cuisine Cube.  Cuisine Cube is a subscription service that delivers 5-6 gluten-free, full-size products to your door for as little as $34.99/month. Inside the cube, you will discover full-size products (not sample sizes) that are made by local and smaller, artisan companies, rather than those that you can find at the average grocery store.  It has introduced me to so many new and delightful products.  Each box contains a breakfast, lunch, dinner, snack, and dessert product…and then, sometimes, an extra bonus item.  Who doesn’t love a little something extra, right?   Keep in mind, however, that Cuisine Cube has gone through some changes as of May.  No longer do they strictly only offer gluten-free cubes.  In addition to their gluten-free option, they now also offer Artisan and Vegan cubes as well.  The Artisan cube means that you have no food allergies and foods that contain common food allergens will be included.  The Vegan cubes contain products that are dairy and animal free.  And, they still have the Gluten Free cubes, which will have products that contain no gluten or wheat.  So, if you’re really interested in being introduced to the smaller, lesser-known, artisan companies, give Cuisine Cube a try!  It’s like…Christmas…or your birthday…every month!  Who doesn’t love that?!  I did love it and I hope I’m able to resubscribe soon.

The dinner feature in the April (Spring) 2015 Cuisine Cube was the Bountiful Pantry Risotto with Garden Vegetables.  Bountiful Pantry is best known for their healthy, easy-to-prepare, and delicious mixes ranging from appetizers, to soups, to salads, to dips, to stews, to chilies, to chowders, and various sides, among other things.  Inspiration for their mixes stem from their home on the island of Nantucket, where the often cool, damp weather would inspire the desire for an inviting pot of soup.  By starting with family favorites and classic New England favorites, Bountiful Pantry has created delicious and satisfying recipes that are easy to share.  Since the creators follow a healthy, low-sodium diet, focusing on taste, they are seeking and finding new ways to pack flavor into their mixes using a variety of vegetables, herbs, and spices.  They use the finest all-natural ingredients, including vegetables picked and dried at their peak of freshness.  There are no preservatives, added salt of MSG in their mixes, and they are gluten free as well.  Even better, meals can be prepared in as little as 30 minutes.  Gotta love that.

Well, this weekend seemed like the ideal time to cook up a risotto because Sundays I’m usually batch cooking anyway.  And as I’m working on clearing out my pantry, this was a logical choice.  And I was pretty excited about it too.  Because…risotto!!  The only thing I wasn’t excited about was cooking it.  But, no worries, it’s super easy.  I first heated up 5 cups of vegetable broth.  Then, I melted 4 tablespoons of vegan butter (Earth Balance) in a pan.  Once it was melted, I added chopped onion and let it soften to the point of translucency.  I took 1 cup of the broth and put it in a bowl with the dried vegetables and let it soak.  Then, in went the rice to the skillet with the butter and onion.  I gave it a stir to coat it all.  And then…the long and tedious task of adding 1/2 cup broth and stirring began.  Each time more broth went in, the rice would begin to plump up more and more.  And when the broth was gone…and my rice was still a little crunchy…in went water until I got that perfect rice consistency.  Then, the vegan parmesan cheese and 1/2 cup of white wine went in.  More stirring…and then…dinner was served.

With a glass of the white wine I used in the risotto.  Just sayin’.

The Bountiful Pantry Risotto with Garden Vegetables was amazing.  Creamy and rich.  The vegan parmesan really enriched the flavor and texture, bringing it to that perfect risotto consistency.  The Arborio rice took a little longer to cook, but once it got to the proper texture…it was a fantastic dish to devour indeed.  There is, naturally, an option to serve this as a side dish, but my roommate and I chose it for our dinner, so we took 4 servings of it instead of 8…having leftovers for lunch later this week.  And I can’t be more excited about having it again.  I loved how perfectly this cooked up, and despite having to add a bit of water, it got to that perfect rich and creamy consistency and the flavor…was spot on.  The vegetables softened up and the seasonings perfectly added to the taste, no added salt or anything.  Perfection.  And all in a bag, ready to go.

So, what all is in the Bountiful Pantry Risotto with Garden Vegetables?  Nine ingredients.  Yes…just nine.  They are: Arborio rice, peas, carrot, corn, onion, tarragon, chervil, parsley, and chives.  This mix is gluten-free, non-GMO, no MSG, and no added salt or preservatives.  This product is certified by the Celiac Sprue Association.

As for nutritional information for the Bountiful Pantry Risotto with Garden Vegetables…this isn’t bad.  Even when you add in the butter, onion, cheese, veggie broth and wine, it is reasonable for risotto.  A serving of the dry mix is 1/4 cup (51 grams) and there are 8 servings per package.  In each serving, you will be consuming 170 calories, 0.5 grams fat, 0 grams saturated fat, 0 grams trans fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 10 mg sodium, 40 grams carbohydrates, 2 grams fiber, 1 gram sugars, and 4 grams protein.  Not bad at all.

If you love decadent, rich, creamy and and flavorful risotto…why do it all from scratch yourself?  Bountiful Pantry helps make it a little easier with their package of Risotto with Garden Vegetables.  Big flavor.  Big eats.  It was amazing from the first bite to the last.  My roommate and I probably could have eaten the entire pan if I hadn’t set the rest of it aside for lunches.  It’s that good.

So, head over to Bountiful Pantry‘s Web site and place an order for one of their numerous mixes.  But, if nothing else, try the risotto.

Bountiful Pantry's Risotto with Garden Vegetables

Bountiful Pantry’s Risotto with Garden Vegetables

 

 

 

 

Product Review: Sevierly Good Gluten Free Organic Multigrain Bread Mix

Gluten Free Hamburger Buns & Dinner Rolls made with Sevierly Good Gluten Free Organic Multigrain Bread Mix

Gluten Free Hamburger Buns & Dinner Rolls made with Sevierly Good Gluten Free Organic Multigrain Bread Mix

Product: Sevierly Good Gluten Free Organic Multigrain Bread Mix – $8.99

Of all the products that I received when I was a subscriber to Cuisine Cube, the ones that took me the longest to get to were the bread mixes.  I have another mix (which I hope to make in the next few weeks) for gluten-free tortillas…so…this is not an anomoly.  It’s just that I already have my own gluten-free bread/dinner roll flour blend that I make amazing bread with.  So, why use a mix?

Besides, my bread baking skills in the gluten-free realm are…sort of hit or miss.

But my March 2015 Cuisine Cube brought me a lot of amazing goodies that I have already blogged on.  The only hold-out from that cube was…none other than the lunch option (weird, I know…but probably under the impression that sandwich bread would be the end result).  And that lunch option was the Sevierly Good Gluten Free Organic Bread Mix.

For those of you who are not familiar with Cuisine Cube, let me give you the rundown.  Cuisine Cube is a subscription service that delivers 5-6 gluten-free, full-size products to your door for as little as $34.99/month. Inside the cube, you will discover full-size products (not sample sizes) that are made by local and smaller, artisan companies, rather than those that you can find at the average grocery store.  It has introduced me to so many new and delightful products.  Each box contains a breakfast, lunch, dinner, snack, and dessert product…and then, sometimes, an extra bonus item.  Who doesn’t love a little something extra, right?   Keep in mind, however, that Cuisine Cube has gone through some changes as of May.  No longer do they strictly only offer gluten-free cubes.  In addition to their gluten-free option, they now also offer Artisan and Vegan cubes as well.  The Artisan cube means that you have no food allergies and foods that contain common food allergens will be included.  The Vegan cubes contain products that are dairy and animal free.  And, they still have the Gluten Free cubes, which will have products that contain no gluten or wheat.  So, if you’re really interested in being introduced to the smaller, lesser-known, artisan companies, give Cuisine Cube a try!  It’s like…Christmas…or your birthday…every month!  Who doesn’t love that?!  I did love it and I hope I’m able to resubscribe next year.

So, the March 2015’s lunch option was filled by the Sevierly Good Gluten Free Organic Multigrain Bread Mix.  Sevierly Good began with the Sevier family, who began their business when they realized how difficult it was to find good, local resources for the things they enjoyed eating.  The company blossomed from the need for their family to eat a gluten-free diet due to high gluten intolerances.  So, with a completely different diet now being served up, the Seviers decided to get into the kitchen and begin to experiment.
With past experience in the baking industry and some great resources, the family created a list of recipes to begin with…and from there, a set of mixes that are versatile and easy to make emerged.  For two (2) years, the Sevier Family made each mix by hand in a local, commercial kitchen.  Since then, they have expanded to working with a manufacturer, enabling them to grow their dream and their product.  Now, Sevierly Good Gluten Free products can be found in the more stores throughout the United States.

This was actually my first introduction to any of the Sevierly Good Gluten Free products.  And while I don’t always appreciate a bread mix…I do love to bake.  So, I sucked it up and got together the very few ingredients needed to mix up this bread and set it to baking.  Except…I decided not to make a loaf.  I wanted to make hamburger buns and dinner rolls.  So…I got out the rings I use to make homemade gluten free hamburger buns and got the oven preheating.

All I had to do was mix together the Organic Multigrain Bread Mix with the (included) yeast packet, 2 large eggs (or egg substitute), 2 cups of warm water, and 1/4 cup olive oil.  Once mixed together, if you’re baking a loaf, you pour it into an oiled loaf pan and pat/spread it into place with the spatula.  For dinner rolls, drop onto an oiled cookie sheet in the desired size.  I filled the hamburger bun rings…and the rest i made into 12 small dinner rolls.  After they were on the baking sheet, I covered them with lightly oiled cling wrap and let it rise in a warm place for about 30-40 minutes.  Then, it goes into the oven for 10 minutes at 400°F, then I turn down the temperature to 375°F and allow it to finish baking.  For a loaf of bread, that’s around 40-50 more minutes.  Less for the dinner rolls…but this isn’t indicated on the package.  So, watch those rolls!!  I got mine out before they got too baked.  But, what I did notice was how golden brown they got on the top.  I allowed them to cool on a rack…and then…I had to try one immediately.

I admit…I was skeptical.  After finally having an amazing gluten-free dinner roll recipe of my own…I don’t stray from it often.  But, this product was in my pantry and calling to me to (FINALLY) bake it up.  To be honest…I was impressed.  This is, perhaps, the best sandwich bread that I ever baked up from a mix.  They did actually rise in the rising period, which was a step ahead of most mixes.  And then, they baked up to golden rolls just ready for the dining room table.  I sliced one in half, finding the center to be soft (a nice contrast to the crispy outer crust) and the texture reminded me so much of what traditional bread was like.  Seriously, this is a mix that a hearty bread lover will love, even if they don’t have to eat gluten free.  I was so happy with each bite of the roll.  So, now I have a backup for when I’m low on ingredients for my own.  Completely surpassed all my expectations.

So, let’s take a look at the ingredients.  The Sevierly Good Gluten Free Organic Multigrain Bread Mix is made from organic brown rice flour, organic sorghum flour, organic tapioca starch, organic quinoa flour, organic evaporated cane juice, xanthan gum, yeast, and salt.  It is non-GMO, certified gluten-free, nut-free, soy-free, dairy-free, bean-free and corn-free.  Wholesome and wholegrain goodness in one little pouch.

As for the nutrition facts, the Sevierly Good Gluten Free Organic Multigrain Bread Mix has 12 servings in a package.  A serving size is 1 slice of bread.  Each serving will give you 110 calories, 0.5 grams fat, 0 grams saturated fat, 0 grams trans fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 45 mg sodium, 23 grams carbohydrates, 1 gram fiber, 1 gram sugars, and 2 grams protein.

One would think that with the low amounts of fiber and protein that this bread would not be filling.  But I made vegan BLTs for lunch today, using one of the hamburger buns for the sandwich portion instead of bread from my freezer.  I toasted the buns in the oven and then topped them with vegan mayo, baby spinach, heirloom tomato slices, and vegan (and gluten-free) bacon.  This bread was…AMAZING.  I loved using it for this sort of sandwich as it didn’t get soggy (even with toasting) and crumble and fall apart.  It’s wonderful to have a traditional bread feel…but be able to bake it up in various ways, without having to blend all the flours myself.

I, once again, have to commend Cuisine Cube for introducing me to the Sevierly Good Gluten Free brand.  The Organic Multigrain Bread Mix was amazing…like no other bread mix I have ever baked from before.  Now I sort of wish that I had done up an actual loaf, just to see how it turned out.  But…that’s why I can order more.

And you can too.  If you can’t fiend Sevierly Good Gluten Free products in your area, head over to their Products page and have their mixes shipped directly to you.  Then get into your kitchen and bake up something Sevierly Good!

Orders can also be placed online from our Products page and shipped direct to your home.

And, as many have said…”It’s more than good, it’s Sevierly Good”. We thank you for your business!

The Sevier Family

Product Review: Rabbit Creek Products Gluten Free Red Velvet Cake Mix + Recipe Bonus

Rabbit Creek Products Gluten Free Red Velvet Cake Mix

Rabbit Creek Products Gluten Free Red Velvet Cake Mix

Product: Rabbit Creek Products Gluten Free Red Velvet Cake Mix – $8.75

So, this was it…my last Cuisine Cube…and this…this product was the last one that I had from the May (Is For Mom) 2015 Cuisine Cube that I received.  I had to cancel my subscription due to budget constraints…and that wasn’t an easy decision.  I loved…LOVED…this company and I loved discovering new products through them.

Yeah…that’s what Cuisine Cube is all about.  And one day, I sincerely hope to be able to go back to them and subscribe again.  That being said, before I get to the product that I lasted until now, let me tell you a little more about Cuisine Cube.

Cuisine Cube is a subscription service that delivers 5-6 gluten-free, full-size products to your door for as little as $34.99/month. Inside the cube, you will discover full-size products (not sample sizes) that are made by local and smaller, artisan companies, rather than those that you can find at the average grocery store.  It has introduced me to so many new and delightful products.  Each box contains a breakfast, lunch, dinner, snack, and dessert product…and then, sometimes, an extra bonus item.  Who doesn’t love a little something extra, right?   Keep in mind, however, that Cuisine Cube has gone through some changes as of May.  No longer do they strictly only offer gluten-free cubes.  In addition to their gluten-free option, they now also offer Artisan and Vegan cubes as well.  The Artisan cube means that you have no food allergies and foods that contain common food allergens will be included.  The Vegan cubes contain products that are dairy and animal free.  And, they still have the Gluten Free cubes, which will have products that contain no gluten or wheat.  So, if you’re really interested in being introduced to the smaller, lesser-known, artisan companies, give Cuisine Cube a try!  It’s like…Christmas…or your birthday…every month!  Who doesn’t love that?!

The last product from my May Is For Mom 2015 Cuisine Cube box was none other than the dessert product – Rabbit Creek Products Gluten Free Red Velvet Cake.  Why the long wait to use this?  Well, believe it or not, with as much of a sweet tooth I am…I am not really big on cake.  Secondly…I’m not a big fan of red velvet either.  Hence…the reason it sat so long on my shelf.  But, as I’m working on clearing out items from my pantry and fridge, prepping for a new year and new goals…this product was up.  And instead of baking a cake (again…not a fan of cake or red velvet), I decided to bake cookies.

Before I talk about the product any further, let me tell you a little about Rabbit Creek Products.  Rabbit Creek Products gets its name from a creek that runs through a small eastern Kansas town.  The founder, Donna Cook, a self-described “country girl” grew up in the heart of Kansas, offering a diverse array of food from traditional country with influences from Germany, Sweden, and other reaches of the world.  She founded Rabbit Creek Products determined to capture the taste of old fashioned cooking with a designer style and share it with people everywhere.  Her innovative mixes make Rabbit Creek a leader in the gourmet industry.  Cook was named business woman of the year in Kansas in 1995. Holding that title to its highest standard, Cook insists that Rabbit Creek does the same with their products.  Rabbit Creek has over 350 different mixes, including dips, soups, quick breads, beer breads, brownies, desserts, and scones mixes, among others.  And…now gluten free products have made their appearance on their product list.

Thanks to Cuisine Cube, I had the opportunity to try out the Rabbit Creek Products Gluten Free Red Velvet Cake Mix.  As stated before…I am not a fan of cake nor of red velvet, so this was a tricky one.  But, instead of baking up a cake…I decided to attempt to make cake mix cookies out of this mix.  The recipe will follow below…and, I wasn’t exactly sure this was going to work…but I figured…I love cookies…why not give it a go?

By mixing the Rabbit Creek Products Gluten Free Red Velvet Cake Mix with baking powder, eggs, vegetable oil, vanilla and folding in Greek Yogurt baking chips…I actually managed to create a decent enough, fluffy, light dough that had a cake-y and a cookie-ish like texture to it.  I scooped it into little balls and placed the dough on a cookie sheet, forming 12 perfectly round cookies.  Then, I put them into a preheated oven and let them bake for about 12 minutes.  Out came amazing looking cookies.  I let them cool for a few minutes, then…it was time to test them out.

I will say this…Rabbit Creek Products really is elevating the world of mixes.  Honestly.  I was amazed with how well the Gluten Free Red Velvet Cake  Mix worked in this recipe.  I had my doubts, but what emerged were light, chewy, soft red velvet cookies that had great flavor and weren’t overly sweet.  One problem I usually have with red velvet is how sweet it tastes.  While these did taste like a treat, they weren’t overly sugary and helped me feel really good about choosing to make them into cookies rather than baking a cake.  The texture was soft, light, and amazing.  Chewy and delicious.  I brought these to work, and got so many compliments on how good these were!  Definitely impressed.

So, let’s talk about the ingredients that go into the Rabbit Creek Products Gluten Free Red Velvet Cake Mix.  This mix is made from gluten free flour (rice flour, brown rice flour, modified potato starch, modified tapioca starch, modified corn starch, xanthan gum), sugar, cocoa, baking powder (sodium acid pyrophosphate, sodium bicarbonate, corn starch, monocalcium phosphate, red dye #40 and natural and artificial flavor.  This product is made in a dedicated kitchen.

Now let’s talk nutrition!  The Rabbit Creek Products Gluten Free Red Velvet Cake Mix contains 16 servings.  One serving of the package (about 17 grams) will dish up 60 calories, 0 grams fat, 0 grams saturated fat, 0 grans trans fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 50 mg sodium, 13 grams carbohydrats, less than 1 gram fiber, 6 grams of sugar, and 1 gram of protein.

And here’s how I made the cookies…with a recipe loosely based off of the Strawberry Chocolate Chip Cookies made by Sally’s Baking Addiction.  I just made changes where I needed for weight of the mix and measure of ingredients.  But it worked like a charm!

Recipe: Gluten Free Red Velvet Cake Mix Cookies

Red Velvet Cake Mix Cookies made from Rabbit Creek Products Gluten Free Red Velvet Cake Mix

Red Velvet Cake Mix Cookies made from Rabbit Creek Products Gluten Free Red Velvet Cake Mix

Servings: 12
Time: Prep 5 minutes; Bake 12 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 package (9.6 oz) Rabbit Creek Products Gluten Free Red Velvet Cake Mix
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons vegetable/canola oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup Greek Yogurt Baking Chips (or White Chocolate Chips would work!)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Line large baking sheet with parchment paper or silicone baking mat. Set aside.

In a large bowl, mix together the cake mix and baking powder. Set aside.

In a smaller bowl, whisk together the eggs, oil, and vanilla by hand. Add the egg mixture to the cake mixture and stir to form a dough- stir vigorously until all of the pockets of dry cake mix are gone. Gently mix in the the baking chips chips.

Drop rounded balls of dough, about 2 tablespoons each, onto prepared baking sheet. Stick a few more chocolate chips on top of the cookie dough balls if you want them for looks, if desired. Make sure the balls of dough are taller than they are wide.

Bake for 10-12 minutes not allowing the cookies get brown. Cool on baking sheet for 3 minutes; they will be very soft at first. As they cool, the tops may settle down; press them down gently with your fingers if they are not sinking much. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container for up to one week.

~*~*~

Seriously…this cake mix made amazing chewy, deliciously flavorful, yummy red velvet cookies.  And this from someone who is not a fan of red velvet or cake.  HA!  I do love cookies though.  And the addition of the baking chips definitely was a nice touch.

So, thank you, Cuisine Cube, for the introduction to the products that Rabbit Creek puts out.  And if any of you want to give their products I try, I urge you to visit their Web page and place an order.

Product Review: Vino de Milo Cherry Riesling Fruit Preserves

Vino de Milo Cherry Riesling Fruit Preserves

Vino de Milo Cherry Riesling Fruit Preserves

Product: Vino de Milo Cherry Riesling Fruit Preserves – $5.99+

My pantry is overflowing these days with fruit preserves.  I am a jelly and jam fanatic.  Seriously.  If there is a way to utilize jam in a recipe, by God, I’m going to do it.  Fruit preserves are one of the little joys in life.  And I am a huge fan.

So, imagine my excitement when the final Cuisine Cube box I was set to receive (I had to cancel it due to financial obligations toward medical bills) had a jar of fruit preserves inside!!  Insert me…doing a happy dance of joy.  It was the perfect ending to a year-long and fantastic partnership with this amazing subscription box.  So, before I talk more about the product itself, let me remind you or explain (in case you are new) what Cuisine Cube is all about!

Cuisine Cube is a subscription service that delivers 5-6 gluten-free, full-size products to your door for as little as $34.99/month. Inside the cube, you will discover full-size products (not sample sizes) that are made by local and smaller, artisan companies, rather than those that you can find at the average grocery store.  It has introduced me to so many new and delightful products.  Each box contains a breakfast, lunch, dinner, snack, and dessert product…and then, sometimes, an extra bonus item.  Who doesn’t love a little something extra, right?   Keep in mind, however, that Cuisine Cube has gone through some changes as of May.  No longer do they strictly only offer gluten-free cubes.  In addition to their gluten-free option, they now also offer Artisan and Vegan cubes as well.  The Artisan cube means that you have no food allergies and foods that contain common food allergens will be included.  The Vegan cubes contain products that are dairy and animal free.  And, they still have the Gluten Free cubes, which will have products that contain no gluten or wheat.  So, if you’re really interested in being introduced to the smaller, lesser-known, artisan companies, give Cuisine Cube a try!  It’s like…Christmas…or your birthday…every month!  Who doesn’t love that?!

So…as it stands, we are still delving into May (Is For Mom) 2015 cube.  This morning was a swimming morning at the gym, meaning that I normally take in a smoothie and my roomie gets something easy that cooks up while I shower and get ready for work.  We have gluten-free bread.  We have vegan cream cheese.  Hmmm…

See where I’m going here?!  The best part is, this morning, I needed a new jam to top off the ricotta toast with, and this was just staring at me at the forefront of the jarred preserves shelf in my pantry (I recently reorganized).  It was the Vino de Milo Cherry Riesling Fruit Preserves that I had been so excited about receiving, but hadn’t had a moment to actually use them.  Until now.

Vino de Milo began at a food business incubator, the Appalachian Center for Economic Networks (ACEnet).  After a few issues that needed to be worked through, the company obtained a beautiful logo, the addition of wine, and a growing business began.  It began simply when an eggplant sauce for a catering job led to a packaging experiment in the adjoining bottling facility.  One thing led to another, wine was suggested and then added to the sauce…and Vino de Milo, the product line, was born.  This company prefers to use ingredients from local suppliers in Ohio.  And, as the brand has grown, they have added more products and capabilities.  With a research and development chef on staff, new products are not only being developed, but can easily be customized for retail sales.  From it’s humble start in 2003 by Jonathan Milo Leal, Vino de Milo has grown from only offering 3 pasta sauces to a full line of from-scratch-made products that include salad dressings, pasta sauces, bruschetta toppings, salsas, BBQ sauces, and fruit preserves.  All of which, by the way, include wine in some way, shape or form…hence the name…VINO de Milo.

So…as I said…it was my May 2015 Cuisine Cube, and most of the ingredients inside had some sort of Mother’s Day spin on them.  Kinda.  I’d say that the Vino de Milo Cherry Riesling Fruit Preserves did above all other products in that box.  For sure.  Because…WINE!  This morning…it was a wine-infused breakfast morning.  I toasted up gluten-free bread and then gave each slice a healthy spread of vegan ricotta cheese.  Then, I simply scooped out the Vino de Milo Cherry Riesling Fruit Preserves and settled them over the top, giving them a light smoothing with the back of the spoon.  Breakfast…was easily made, quick, and…

DELICIOUS!!  My roommate isn’t big on cherries, like I am, but she absolutely loved these preserves.  I am certain it had nothing to do with the crispness that the Riesling wine (her favorite kind of wine, mind you) brought to this spread.  Or…perhaps it did.  I don’t know about her, but I loved how deep and rich the cherry flavor was, with that Riesling really stepping it up and bringing out this crispness, keeping the cherries from being too tart on their own.  I fell in love with the smooth, yet a little chunky consistency to these preserves, finding chunks of cherries to be an inviting and tasty way to enjoy this spread.  Seriously…packed with great flavor, not overly strong, and just…delicious.  Wine or not, these preserves are the cherry on top.  HA!

Let’s discuss what goes into a jar of the Vino de Milo Cherry Riesling Fruit Preserves.  This amazing spread is made from red tart cherries, sugar, Riesling wine, pectin, cherry concentrate, and citric acid.  Simple.  Basic.  REAL ingredients.  These preserves are 100% all natural.  No chemicals, preservatives, or artificial fillers.  It is also vegan and gluten-free.  YAY!

So, let’s take a look at the nutrition information now, shall we?  A serving size of the Vino de Milo Cherry Riesling Fruit Preserves is 1 tablespoon.  This serving will provide you with 25 calories, 0 grams fat, 0 grams saturated fat, 0 grams trans fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 0 mg sodium, 6 grams carbohydrates, 0 grams fiber, 5 grams sugars, and 0 grams of protein.  For fruit preserves, that sugar level is fantastic!

I was beyond impressed with the Vino de Milo Cherry Riesling Fruit Preserves.  With it spread over the vegan ricotta cheese, it was almost like eating cheesecake for breakfast.  LOVE a healthy meal that tastes like a treat.  Vino de Milo puts out quality products made with local and amazing ingredients…all blended with a little bit of wine.  And who wouldn’t love that.  Now that I know this is out there, I hope that I can find it on the shelves.  But it’s because of Cuisine Cube that I am aware it exists.  And if I can’t find it locally…I can always order it online!

And so can you.  And this is me…encouraging you to do just that.  Trust me…this is one jam you don’t want to miss!

Product Review: Biatalia Gluten Free Couscous di Mais

Biatalia Gluten Free Couscous di Mais

Biatalia Gluten Free Couscous di Mais

Product: Biatalia Gluten Free Couscous di Mais – $5.00+

Here’s the story…of a lovely lady…who used to always cook with couscous.  Then she was diagnosed…as a Celiac…and couscous had to vamoose.

Here’s the story…of this thing called Cuisine Cube…who was packaging up gluten-free products.  And in May, the box included couscous…and there was much rejoicing in the land.

*cough*

Sorry…I couldn’t resist.  My last name is Brady…so the Brady Bunch theme has pretty much been a big portion of my life.  And, for just over a year, I can honestly say that Cuisine Cube was a big portion of my life.  I hated to have to give up my monthly subscription, but I had medical bills from this torn hip labrum eating into my budget big-time.  But that’s not to say that I don’t miss it.  I am in the process of using up the final few things that I have from past cubes…and part of me hopes to jump back into the subscription again soon.

So, first let me recap for you what Cuisine Cube is all about, shall I?  Cuisine Cube is a subscription service that delivers 5-6 gluten-free, full-size products to your door for as little as $34.99/month. Inside the cube, you will discover full-size products (not sample sizes) that are made by local and smaller, artisan companies, rather than those that you can find at the average grocery store.  It has introduced me to so many new and delightful products.  Each box contains a breakfast, lunch, dinner, snack, and dessert product…and then, sometimes, an extra bonus item.  Who doesn’t love a little something extra, right?   Keep in mind, however, that Cuisine Cube has gone through some changes as of May.  No longer do they strictly only offer gluten-free cubes.  In addition to their gluten-free option, they now also offer Artisan and Vegan cubes as well.  The Artisan cube means that you have no food allergies and foods that contain common food allergens will be included.  The Vegan cubes contain products that are dairy and animal free.  And, they still have the Gluten Free cubes, which will have products that contain no gluten or wheat.  So, if you’re really interested in being introduced to the smaller, lesser-known, artisan companies, give Cuisine Cube a try!  It’s like…Christmas…or your birthday…every month!  Who doesn’t love that?!

So, as my sing-songy typed up intro to this blog explained…one of the May (Is For Mom) 2015 Cuisine Cube included an 18 ounce box of Biatalia Gluten Free Couscous.  I was thrilled…because I used to use couscous all the time in recipes.  And now, it wasn’t off limits.  Here, right in my clutches, was an amazing box of gluten-free couscous.  And I totally get that it took me until the end of August to actually get around to using it, but…wow…was it ever worth the wait.

First of all, the Biatalia Gluten Free Couscous is simple and easy to prepare.  Pour one cup of boiling water over one cup of the uncooked couscous.  Add a pinch of sea salt and cover, allowing it to sit for about 5 minutes.  After the water is absorbed, gently separate the grains with a fork and spoon, add olive oil, and top with your favorite condiments.  Which…is normally what I would do.  But I went a little CRAZY this last week.

A couple of weeks ago, my roomie picked up some lamb chops at the local farmer’s market for me to cook up.  Hey…I have dreams of appearing on Master Chef…so she said I needs to learn to cook all the proteins, even if I don’t eat them.  She volunteers for that.  So, with the recipe on hand for Honey Balsamic Lamb Chops ready to go, I pulled up a recipe online from Giada De Laurentiis’ couscous cakes…which involved cooking up the Biatalia Gluten Free Couscous Cakes.  I just took 2 cups of the cooked couscous (which was made from 1 cup dry), mixing it with fresh basil, 2 eggs, ground coriander, lemon zest, salt, black pepper, and gluten-free all-purpose flour.  Place 1/4 cup of olive oil into a pan and pat the mix into little 1/4 cup cakes (it will make 8) and fry them up, draining them on a paper towel.

Of course, with the leftover couscous, I had to try it out.  Untouched.  And…OH MY GOD…this is really the first gluten-free couscous (I tried 2 others) that really has that real couscous texture.  I would have questioned the authenticity of the gluten-free status of this product, but it’s right there in print.  Amazing.  And, let me tell you, when I combined it with the listed ingredients from Giada’s recipe and made the couscous cakes…the flavor was only elevated.  The taste and texture of the Biatalia Gluten Free Couscous was phenomenal.  I mean, I was beyond surprised.  In fact, I had to double-check the box just to make sure it truly was gluten-free.  To say I am blown away is an understatement.  This wowed me in every way possible.  It paired great with her honey balsamic lamb chops and my honey balsamic portobello mushroom cap.  Seriously.  So yum!

Let’s discuss the ingredients of Biatalia Gluten Free Couscous.  This amazing couscous is made from organic corn flour and water.  That’s it.  Yep.  It’s that easy.  Clean eating at its best.

As for the nutritional information, one serving is 1/4 cup of the couscous (about 40 grams). This serving will provide you with 140 calories less than 1 gram of fat, less than 1 gram of saturated fat, 30 grams of carbohydrates, less than 1 gram of sodium, about 0.5 grams of sugar, 3 grams of protein and 2 grams of fiber.  Isn’t that fantastic?

So, without a little help from Cuisine Cube I never would have known about Biatalia Gluten Free Couscous.  Made from 100% corn, the taste and texture are amazing and honestly…spot on.  You would never guess that this was a gluten-free version of one of my favorite grains to cook with.  And now, it is back in my life again. You can order Biatalia Gluten Free Couscous from online shops such as The Shop Agora.  Trust me, this one is not to be missed!

Honey Balsamic Glazed Portobello Mushroom Cap with Couscous Cakes made from Biatalia Gluten Free Couscous di Mais

Honey Balsamic Glazed Portobello Mushroom Cap with Couscous Cakes made from Biatalia Gluten Free Couscous di Mais

Product Review: SweetieBeans! Rise n’ Shine Pancake Mix

SweetBeans! Rise 'n Shine Pancake Mix

SweetBeans! Rise ‘n Shine Pancake Mix

Product: SweetieBeans! Rise n’ Shine Pancake Mix – $7.49+

Sorry about not having a retail price for you on this product I am about to review.  I just guessed as the link on the actual Web site for the company itself leads to an error and I can’t find anywhere else to draw a price from.  I’m guessing here.  My apologies.***

**Updated with actual ordering price**

BUT…now let’s cut to the chase.

When it comes to breakfast foods, you can’t quite beat the perfect pancake, right?  Hell, I eat pancakes for dinner sometimes.  Done that since I was a kid.  We always loved when my mom made breakfast for dinner, and the tradition carries on still in my family.  We are a breakfast-loving bunch, let me tell you!

When it comes to mixes out there for gluten-free pancakes, I have hit on the entire spectrum.  I have had the amazing.  I’ve had the so-so.  And I’ve had the horrible.  I absolutely love pancakes (they are so versatile…with what you put in them and what you put on them), and I feel that pancakes should turn out perfectly…every freakin’ time.  So, why is it that some gluten-free products get that right, and some…just don’t come close.

Pancakes are all about texture.  You want them to be hearty, yet light and fluffy.  This is a very difficult balance to reach.  And I definitely have my go-to favorites when it comes to the gluten-free pancake mixes that are out on the market.  I thought I had covered them all (or at least the wide-spread ones) until my February (Happy V-Day) 2015 Cuisine Cube tossed another one my way.

So, first let me recap for you what Cuisine Cube is all about, shall I?  Cuisine Cube is a subscription service that delivers 5-6 gluten-free, full-size products to your door for as little as $34.99/month. Inside the cube, you will discover full-size products (not sample sizes) that are made by local and smaller, artisan companies, rather than those that you can find at the average grocery store.  It has introduced me to so many new and delightful products.  Each box contains a breakfast, lunch, dinner, snack, and dessert product…and then, sometimes, an extra bonus item.  Who doesn’t love a little something extra, right?   Keep in mind, however, that Cuisine Cube has gone through some changes as of May.  No longer do they strictly only offer gluten-free cubes.  In addition to their gluten-free option, they now also offer Artisan and Vegan cubes as well.  The Artisan cube means that you have no food allergies and foods that contain common food allergens will be included.  The Vegan cubes contain products that are dairy and animal free.  And, they still have the Gluten Free cubes, which will have products that contain no gluten or wheat.  So, if you’re really interested in being introduced to the smaller, lesser-known, artisan companies, give Cuisine Cube a try!  It’s like…Christmas…or your birthday…every month!  Who doesn’t love that?!

So, the February box arrives and I uncover this large pouch of SweetieBeans! Rise ‘n Shine Pancake Mix.  SCORE!!  Pancakes are amazing.  I was quite excited about them.  And after tucking all that month’s products away in their proper places, I had every intention of making pancakes with this mix.  And then…I got hurt.  And life got busy.  Very, very busy.  And it was left to sit on the pantry shelf with some random bread mixes and other baking/breakfast items that I have yet to delve into.

But, my good friend, Harry, brought me some amazing local, and freshly picked (by himself!) blueberries on Friday and I knew that blueberry pancakes had to be made.  I’d been craving them, but I keep eating all the blueberries like candy instead of baking/cooking/making things with them.  Hey, give me a fruit and I’ll devour it…even if I just pop them from the bag and nosh.  Seriously.  That’s how much I love fruit, particularly berries.

So, after my Monday morning spin class, I came home and retrieved the SweetieBeans! Rise ‘n Shine Pancake Mix from my pantry, mixed 2 cups of it with 1-3/4 cup water and stirred it up.  Added these amazing blueberries and it was time to make the pancakes.

Sweetie!Beans is a true labor of love.  Several years ago, through a series of health related unfortunate events, the creator’s family became aware that they had food allergies and were going to have to make a few dietary adjustments…which meant completely excluding wheat, gluten, eggs, dairy, casein, peanuts, walnuts, food dyes, pesticides, and yeast.  Because it was a health matter, the entire went cold-turkey on their allergy elimination and found that within a few months they were feeling much better.  The food, however, for people who were considered “foodies” was lacking now.  The items were lackluster, back in the day when cakes tasted like cardboard, fried foods were soggy, and cookies were incomprehensible.  The father of the family took matters into his own hands and got into the kitchen.  This didn’t happen overnight, but through years of trial and error, he found the perfect blend.  Word spread, and soon people were asking him to bake cakes for their special occasions, and all went over well, despite that they were vegan and gluten free.  Talk about winning!  And with that, SweetieBeans! was born…the company named after the nickname he gave the love of his life, his wife, back when they were 17 years old.

As for the SweetieBeans! Rise ‘n Shine Pancake Mix…the batter combined with all the ingredients to form this slightly thick, but smooth, consistency.  It was ideal.  I got out my 1/4 cup measure cup and dropped the batter onto the skillet to begin to cook.  So often, gluten-free pancakes don’t get that amazing golden crust on the outside, but these did.  And it didn’t take long for the batter to get there either.  I started to see the edges begin to bubble and firm up, so I went ahead and went to flip the first batch over.  Perfection.  So, this made me feel really good about the way these would taste when all was done.  And while these didn’t get overly fluffy in size, but they weren’t flat either.  These had the perfect amount of lift to them.  They weren’t heavy, nor were they particularly filling.  I ate mine while cooking up another round of them and ended up hoovering the two I had plated for myself.  Seriously.  They were gone almost as soon as I poured my Sohgave Blueberry Syrup over them.  I think, because of the name, my roommate thought these were made with bean flours, so she had said that she was surprised they didn’t taste like bean.  I told her it was just the name and nothing to do with the blend of flours that were used to create the pancake mix itself.  She, a lover of pancakes like me, also enjoyed these.  She said they cooked up well and had good volume to them.  So, since she isn’t a Celiac or gluten-free…this is a great endorsement.  Were they the best we’ve had?  Nope.  But they rank right up there!  I was pleasantly surprised, honestly.

With that in mind, let’s discuss what goes into the SweetieBeans! Rise ‘n Shine Pancake Mix, shall we?  This mix is a blend of sorghum flour, rice flour blend (rice flour, rice bran), white rice flour, sugar, tapioca starch, and contains less than 2% of each of the following: baking soda, sodium acid pyrophosphate, corn starch, potato starch, potato flour, natural flavor, xanthan gum, sea salt, monocalcium phosphate, magnesium carbonate.  This mix is gluten-free (obviously), vegan, wheat-free, egg-free, dairy-free, casein-free, peanut-free, walnut-free, free of food dyes, free of pesticides, and yeast-free.  Loving it?  I know I am!!

As for nutrition, a serving size of SweetieBeans! Rise ‘n Shine Pancake Mix is 1/3 cup of the dry mix.  This serving will give you 170 calories (remember, unless you add some chocolate chips or berries or peanut butter…all you put into this mix is water…so this amount remains the same!), 1 gram fat, 0 grams saturated fat, 0 grams trans-fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 410 mg sodium, 2 grams fiber, 8 grams sugar, and 3 grams of protein.  So, it will fill you up, but it won’t make you feel ridiculously full.

For me, I loved this mix at first bite.  To say that I was surprised is an understatement.  After being burned with pancake mixes promising me the best gluten-free pancakes and ending up with anything but that, it was nice to have a product actually deliver.  In fact, I look forward to reheating the other batch I made while devouring mine like they were going out of style this morning.  Some foods I just can’t savor.  Not when it had been so long since I had something taste that amazing.  Pancakes should be simple and delicious.  SweetieBeans! gives you this and more.

I’m a fan!  Trust me…you will be too.  But first, we need to figure out how to order more!

(Thanks to Tim’s comment below, you can order this mix and the other SweetieBeans! mixes at this link: https://gourmetfoodland.com/products/mixes/gluten-free/

Product Review: Bobo’s Gluten Free Peach Oat Bar

Bobo's Gluten Free Peach Oat Bar

Bobo’s Gluten Free Peach Oat Bar

 Product: Bobo’s Gluten Free Peach Oat Bar – $2.50+

Ever see one of those products that intrigues you…but you just can’t get up the nerve to purchase one to actually try it?  That is the relationship I have had for a few years with Bobo’s Oat Bars.  I spotted these first at my natural foods store, Rainbow Blossom, on an endcap.  Not all flavors are gluten-free, but there was quite a variety.  I really wanted to try one, and, for a gluten-free bar…the price isn’t so bad.  I just never could actually talk myself into it.

Lo and behold, my May (Is For Mom) 2015 Cuisine Cube brought Bobo’s Oat Bars to me, instead.  It was like a “if you build it, they will come,” moment, save more of a, “if you covet it, someone will send it to you.”  HA!

So, first let me recap for you what Cuisine Cube is all about, shall I?  Cuisine Cube is a subscription service that delivers 5-6 gluten-free, full-size products to your door for as little as $34.99/month. Inside the cube, you will discover full-size products (not sample sizes) that are made by local and smaller, artisan companies, rather than those that you can find at the average grocery store.  It has introduced me to so many new and delightful products.  Each box contains a breakfast, lunch, dinner, snack, and dessert product…and then, sometimes, an extra bonus item.  Who doesn’t love a little something extra, right?   Keep in mind, however, that Cuisine Cube has gone through some changes as of May.  No longer do they strictly only offer gluten-free cubes.  In addition to their gluten-free option, they now also offer Artisan and Vegan cubes as well.  The Artisan cube means that you have no food allergies and foods that contain common food allergens will be included.  The Vegan cubes contain products that are dairy and animal free.  And, they still have the Gluten Free cubes, which will have products that contain no gluten or wheat.  So, if you’re really interested in being introduced to the smaller, lesser-known, artisan companies, give Cuisine Cube a try!  It’s like…Christmas…or your birthday…every month!  Who doesn’t love that?!

In the May 2015 box, there were quite a few snacks/candies/sweets packed in.  It was the Mother’s Day cube, that’s how it should be.  And for the Breakfast/Snack option, the people at Cuisine Cube sent me a much coveted, highly anticipated, Bobo’s Gluten Free Oat Bar.  The flavor – peach.

Now, peach for me can be hit or miss, honestly.  You either get it right, or you get it wrong.  As a huge fan and connoisseur of peaches (fresh, tinned, frozen…you name it!), peach is one of those flavors that either wins me over or loses me.  So, peach was the risky flavor of bar to send from the gluten-free line, I think.  It’s not a common favorite, but, honestly, it is one of the most refreshing and summer-inducing flavors around.

Bobo’s Oat Bars was founded by Beryl Strafford in 2005.  This Boulder, Colorado, based business is still headquarted there today.  These bars are named after Strafford’s eldest daughter, who she has affectionately called “Bobo.”  These bars were developed out of a simple mother-daughter baking tradition, and soon grew to become a sought-after snack bar that are enjoyed by families, athletes, and healthy minded people everywhere.  Strafford wanted these bars to embody two of her highest values in life: being a mom, and living an active and healthy lifestyle.  Bobo’s Oat Bars are baked from scratch using only the finest organic ingredients, with no additives or artificial sweeteners.  These bars are not only convenient, but a wholesome snack choice that are convenient for the busy kids, students, athletes, and adults in life.  Not all of Bobo’s Oat Bars are gluten-free, but they have a core selection of flavors that are, including: peach, maple pecan, lemon poppyseed, chocolate almond, apple pie, and peanut butter and jelly.

Cuisine Cube shared probably the flavor I would have picked up last, due to my love-hate relationship with peach flavored items.  I am either going to love it or hate it.  And after 2 months of not quite getting around to trying the much-coveted Bobo’s Gluten Free Peach Oat Bar, my roommate and I split it tonight as our dessert.

First of all, I loved the texture of this bar.  It was substantial, yes, but it was soft and chewy…like an elite granola bar of sorts.  The oats were stunning and each bite was chewy and wholesome.  I love that these are made with natural ingredients.  I love that very little sugar is in these bars.  I loved how 1/2 of this bar (which is the serving size) was filling enough to double as a meal.  Yes…I loved all of that.  What fell a little short for me, however, was the flavor.  When something declares that it is peach flavored, by the taste gods, bring me that bold, sweet, amazing peach flavor.  At the very edges of this bar, I found it to be very bland.  The center part, still bland, but had more of that peach flavor that I was hoping for.  At least the flavor didn’t taste fake…there just wasn’t enough of it there.  The Bobo’s Gluten Free Peach Oat Bar was filling, for sure, but not all that flavorful.  A little bit of a let-down, but not enough to make me not want to try the other gluten-free flavors out there.

So, with that in mind, let’s discuss the ingredients that go into Bobo’s Gluten Free Peach Oat Bars!  These bars are made from organic gluten free rolled oats, brown rice syrup (brown rice, filtered water), Earth Balance [natural oil blend (palm fruit, canola and olive oils), filtered water, pure salt, natural flavor (derived from corn, no MSG, no alcohol, no gluten), sunflower lecithin, lactic acid (non-dairy, derived from sugar beets) and colored with annatto extract], organic sucant (non-refined cane sugar), dried peaches, natural peach extract, and xanthan gum.  These bars are gluten-free, vegan, non-GMO, and now certified kosher!

As for the nutrition facts of Bobo’s Gluten Free Peach Oat Bars, these stats are pretty fantastic.  Do keep in mind, however, that each bar is 2 servings, so cut that baby in half and save the rest for another day.  One serving, or half of a bar, will provide you with 180 calories, 6 grams fat, 1.5 grams saturated fat, 0 grams trans fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 20 mg sodium, 28 grams carbohydrates, 3 grams dietary fiber, 10 grams sugars, and 3 grams of protein.  Is it any wonder with that low sugar, and the higher protein and fiber that this bar feats more like a meal than a snack?!  Fantastic.

So, the jury is still out for me.  While I wasn’t completely blown away by Bobo’s Gluten-Free Peach Oat Bars, I didn’t dislike them either.  In fact, the texture, chewy, yet substantial, was amazing.  I loved that.  I just wish it was more peachy, given theat it is the peach bar.  However, I’m not counting them out yet.  Next time I’m at my natural food store, I’m going to snag a different flavor and see if it smacks my taste buds around a little more.

For what it is worth, Bobo’s Gluten Free Peach Oat Bar is a great, healthy snack or meal for the busy and on-the-go type of person.  It will leave you feeling full, and with it being made from natural ingredients, keep you feeling full.  Your body won’t burn right through this bar, as it would many protein, granola and/or snack bars out on the market.  The lower the sugar, the happier I am.

If not for Cuisine Cube, I don’t know if I ever would have convinced myself to purchase one of Bobo’s Gluten Free Oat Bars.  That being said, I’m glad that this was shipped to me so I could get a taste of what is out on the market, and what I love and might not love as much about new bars.  I’m a marathoner, I’m always looking for new fuel and recovery items.  This…is off to a good start.

Bobo's Gluten Free Peach Oat Bar (unwrapped)

Bobo’s Gluten Free Peach Oat Bar (unwrapped)

Product Review: gfJules Gluten Free All-Purpose Flour + Recipe Bonus

gfJules Gluten Free All-Purpose Flour

gfJules Gluten Free All-Purpose Flour

Product: gfJules Gluten Free All-Purpose Flour – $8.42+

I have had this fun and passing relationship with the famous (in the gluten-free community, anyway) Jules Shepard, formerly known as Jules Gluten Free, now know as gfJules.  When I had to go gluten-free three years ago, one of the first people I encountered through social media was none other than Jules Gluten Free.  She was funny and knowledgeable, and she had these elusive product mixes (from all-purpose flour to bread mixes to cookie mixes to cake mixes to pizza crust mixes) that nowhere in my area carried.  At one point, she was presenting in Lexington, Kentucky, and I had intended to drive down and see her presentation…until the Sherman-Minton bridge here in Louisville was closed indefinitely due to a large crack in the weight bearing portion…making going anywhere from the Indiana side of the river a real nightmare.

finally met gfJules last year, at a Gluten Free Expo in Indianapolis, Indiana.  I bought her cookbook.  We talked.  We laughed.  We took a picture together.  It was awesome.  And it was like meeting a celebrity, to be honest.  I have followed her Facebook page, saw her through the very public break from her partners in the company that she founded, Nearly Normal Cooking, and had grandiose plans to find and purchase her flour at some point.  Or a mix.  I didn’t care.

Until December 2014, that had yet to happen.

But then, my Holiday 2014 (December) Cuisine Cube arrived in the mail with loads of holiday goodness just ready to be explored and used.  For those of you who may be new to some of my blogging, let me quickly tell you a little about Cuisine Cube!

Cuisine Cube is a subscription service that delivers 5-6 gluten-free, full-size products to your door for as little as $34.99/month. Inside the cube, you will discover full-size products (not sample sizes) that are made by local and smaller, artisan companies, rather than those that you can find at the average grocery store.  It has introduced me to so many new and delightful products.  Each box contains a breakfast, lunch, dinner, snack, and dessert product…and then, sometimes, an extra bonus item.  Who doesn’t love a little something extra, right?   Keep in mind, however, that Cuisine Cube has gone through some changes as of May.  No longer do they strictly only offer gluten-free cubes.  In addition to their gluten-free option, they now also offer Artisan and Vegan cubes as well.  The Artisan cube means that you have no food allergies and foods that contain common food allergens will be included.  The Vegan cubes contain products that are dairy and animal free.  And, they still have the Gluten Free cubes, which will have products that contain no gluten or wheat.  So, if you’re really interested in being introduced to the smaller, lesser-known, artisan companies, give Cuisine Cube a try!

So…here I was…in December and inside my cube was a 1.5 ounce box of gfJules Gluten Free All-Purpose Flour.  With this item, Cuisine Cube also provided a recipe card for Baguettes.  I don’t have a baguette pan, so I tucked this box into my pantry to use…and then got distracted by the open bags of Better Batter and Cup4Cup in my pantry.  It happens.  But it shouldn’t.  This product never should have gone untouched for that long.  But, before I tell you why, let me first tell you a little bit about Jules Shepard.

Jules Shepard was diagnosed in 1999 as a Celiac.  She didn’t see this diagnosis as the end of the world though.  In fact, the former attorney was unwilling to accept the dry, gritty, vacuous foods that were the norm for the gluten-free diet back then. After two years of hard work in her kitchen, Shepard perfected an all-purpose gluten free flour blend that allowed her to continue to do something she loved – bake!  Even she never would have guessed that this one thing would eventually set her apart in the gluten-free community as a leader, inspiration, and advocate.  She perfected her ‘acts-just-like-wheat-flour’ blend, and word spread in her circles.  People began to beg her to make her 5-flour blend for them.  She introduced this flour to the gluten-free community at large in 2008, with her former company, Jules Gluten Free, but it is now developed and available exclusively through her new company, gfJules, which began in March 2014.  From there, her journey has only become more amazing…and her products remain top of the line!

I can vouch for that, mind you, as I was preparing a dessert for a birthday party at the office (and 4th of July celebration) this week.  I have delicious local blueberries that my friend, Harry, picked for me.  I love blueberries, and always am happy to receive a bunch of his harvest.  With all these amazingly fresh berries on hand, it occurred to me that I could make a festive and (hopefully) delicious blueberry cobbler.  Because my kitchen is strictly gluten-free, everything I provide to office pitch-ins is gluten-free.  Some people at the office won’t even give my food a try, but some do…and most are surprised by the flavor and texture…and how normal it is.

Well, my love affair with gluten-free flours just reached a whole new level.  I actually found a recipe for the gluten-free (and vegan) blueberry cobbler on gfJules sight.  And being that I had a box of gfJules Gluten Free All-Purpose Flour in the pantry.  New recipe…why not go for broke and try a new flour too.  As this was one of her recipes, I figured it was best to stick with the flour originally used to make it.  Logic!

Let me tell you something…from the get-go, I realized how amazing this flour truly was.  When I mixed it with the vegan butter and the egg substitute, it all just came together perfectly.  It had this great biscuit texture to it.  And this was before topping off my blueberries with it!  How’s that for being impressed really early in the game.  It worked as a thickener with the heated sugar and water that the blueberries were stirred into, and it produced the most amazing batter for the biscuit-y top that gets baked right on top of the fruit.  I was nervous when I popped it into the oven to bake…but I should have never doubted it.

When my cobbler emerged from the oven, piping hot, it was warm and sweet on the bottom, and the cobbler part…that top bready portion, was this perfect crisp, golden brown.  I had to wait until the following day to actually taste it…but when I did, I was beyond impressed.  The flour really made this remarkable crusty top…and it didn’t have that weird gluten-free flavor or texture to it.  No one, save for the fact that I brought it in, would have known it was gluten-free.  Seriously…and everyone who was brave enough to try it gave only the highest praise for the treat.  The perfect blueberries…with the perfect flour…made for the perfect summer dish for this little pitch-in.  As I have failed miserably at gluten-free bread, this makes me want to pick up baguette pans so that I can give the recipe that accompanied this product in my Cuisine Cube.  This might happen.  Williams-Sonoma…I’m coming for you.

So, now that I’ve gone over why I fell in love with the gfJules Gluten Free All-Purpose Flour, let me tell you a little bit about what is inside.  This flour is made from modified tapioca starch, potato starch, corn starch, corn flour, white rice flour, and xanthan gum.  It is gluten-free, wheat-free, dairy-free, nut-free, soy-free, vegan, KOSHER – and now NON-GMO!

As far as the nutrition information goes, gfJules Gluten-Free All-Purpose Flour really falls in with others on the market.  A serving size is 31 grams of flour, which will give you 110 calories, 0 grams fat, 0 grams saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 10 mg sodium, 26 grams carbohydrates, less than 1 gram fiber, 0 grams sugars, and 1 gram of protein.

And if you don’t believe me, the truth is in the use!!  And below is the recipe I used this flour in!  You should really try it out.  I think you’ll be impressed too!

Recipe: Gluten Free Old-Fashioned Blueberry Cobbler

Servings: 8
Time: Prep 10 minutes; Bake 40 minutes

Gluten Free Old Fashioned Blueberry Cobbler (made with gfJules Gluten Free All-Purpose Flour)

Gluten Free Old Fashioned Blueberry Cobbler (made with gfJules Gluten Free All-Purpose Flour)

Ingredients:

  • 3 Tbs. gfJules Gluten Free All-Purpose Flour
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 4 cups fresh blueberries
  • 1 cup gfJules Gluten Free All-Purpose Flour
  • ¼ cup lightly packed brown sugar or unrefined coconut palm sugar
  • ¼ cup milk, dairy or non-dairy
  • 1 egg or favorite egg substitute
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • ¼ cup butter or non-dairy alternative (Earth Balance® Buttery Sticks)

Directions:

In a medium-sized saucepan, combine gfJules™ Flour, sugar and water. Stir and cook over medium heat until thickened, approximately 12-15 minutes. The mixture will over-boil and burn if not stirred often, so watch the pot and reduce the heat if the mixture is too bubbly or is browning. Add the vanilla extract.

Wash and remove all blueberry stems. Stir the blueberries into the cooked sugar mixture to coat.

Pour the filling into a 9- or 10- inch, deep pie plate (it’s important not to bake the cobbler in too small or too shallow of a plate, or the hot blueberry filling will bubble all over the sides).

Preheat oven to 375° F.

In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together gfJules™ Flour, brown sugar, baking powder and baking soda. Using a pastry cutter or two butter knives, cut in the butter until the flour looks like small gravel or pebbles.

In a separate bowl, stir the egg and milk to mix. Slowly add this mixture to the flour bowl and stir with a fork until completely combined.

Scoop several large spoonfuls of this batter onto the top of the filling in the pie plate. It will rise and touch the other spoonfuls as it bakes, to cover most of the top of the filling, as pictured.

Line the oven rack with foil and place the filled pie plate on top of the foil to prevent any bubbly mixture from falling onto your oven floor and burning.

Bake for 20-25 minutes, or just until the cobbler is browning and somewhat firm to the touch. A toothpick inserted into the cobbler, then removed, should be clean.

Serve warm or cold.

~*~*~

This flour is the best yet.  Honestly, it bakes up perfectly.  It is light, fluffy, and amazing.  It would fool the unassuming person into not even guessing that it was gluten-free.  This product is as amazing as the woman who created it.  Thank you gfJules (Jules Shepard) and Cuisine Cube…for finally giving me the opportunity to try this fantastic flour.  Now…to get more!

Product Review: Zero Cuisine Garlic, Herbs & Sea Salt Cauliflower Mash

Zero Cuisine Garlic, Herbs & Sea Salt Cauliflower Mash

Zero Cuisine Garlic, Herbs & Sea Salt Cauliflower Mash

 Product: Zero Cuisine Garlic, Herbs & Sea Salt Cauliflower Mash – $9.90+/-

Sometimes trying to find balance in your diet isn’t easy.  There are some days my macro and micro nutrients are so out of whack that I have a hard time seeing where things went awry.  That being said…I am always looking for new and inventive ways to have a food that I love, minus the guilt and the excess.

Enter Cuisine Cube!  For those of you just tuning in, I have been a firm supporter and happy subscriber of Cuisine Cube for awhile now.  But, Cuisine Cube has gone through some changes as of May.  No longer do they strictly only offer gluten-free cubes.  In addition to their gluten-free option, they now also offer Artisan and Vegan cubes as well.  The Artisan cube means that you have no food allergies and foods that contain common food allergens will be included.  The Vegan cubes contain products that are dairy and animal free.  And, they still have the Gluten Free cubes, which will have products that contain no gluten or wheat.  These box subscriptions start at $34.99/month.  And, part of the charm is that you will receive 5-6 full-size (not sample size) products.  WOOT!  These usually fall into every meal category for the day: breakfast, lunch, dinner, snack and dessert…with an added bonus from time-to-time.  So, if you’re really interested in being introduced to the smaller, lesser-known, artisan companies, give Cuisine Cube a try!

So, when my February 2015 (Happy V-Day) Cuisine Cube arrived, I was happy, excited, elated, and over-the-moon happy to find an easy-to-prepare (not that the real thing is difficult, but this was certainly less time consuming) Cauliflower Mash from Zero Cuisine.  Now, I have heard and even made cauliflower mash before, but this was the first time I ever saw it come in packaged form.  I was beyond intrigued.  And yet, the perfect moment to use it never quite arrived…until just recently when I spotted a recipe for Portobella Mushroom Steaks.  What goes best with a steak (of sorts) than potatoes.  So, why not replace the mashed potatoes with something a bit healthier and lower in calories and carbohydrates?  It was ideal.

Zero Cuisine Garlic, Herbs & Sea Salt Cauliflower Mash in powdered form

Zero Cuisine Garlic, Herbs & Sea Salt Cauliflower Mash in powdered form

Zero Cuisine brings you a leaner, better-looking cousin of the traditional mashed potato.  Their Cauliflower Mash, available in two flavors – Garlic, Herbs & Sea Salt and Wasabi & Chives – is a low carb, low calorie, low GI, gluten-free, preservative-free, high fiber, high in vitamins, all natural product that can easily replace your favorite starchy carbs with low carb vegetables which just about every diet recommends.  From the Ketogenic, Atkins, Paleo, diabetic diets…reducing carbohydrate intake is highly touted.  Zero Cuisine…just makes it easier for you to enjoy a substitute for starchy carbs without any guilt or any cravings for the carb-laden real thing.  Cuisine Cube included the Garlic, Herbs & Sea Salt version in the February cube.

But, how good can a powdered form of cauliflower mash be?  Well…just as good, but healthier for you, than those powdered potato flakes that turn into mashed potatoes.  Honestly.  I had my doubts upon opening up this little package, but it was so quick, easy, and really tasty when all was said and done.

Let’s face it…it doesn’t get any easier than this…

In a saucepan, heat up water (4 ounces per serving, so if you make the entire thing like I did…2 cups of water) and bring it to a boil.  Reduce heat and add 1/3 cup of the Cauliflower Mash powder (or…if you make the entire pouch instead of one serving…just pour the entire package) into the hot water.  Stir continuously until desired consistency is achieved, which for me was in less than 3 minutes.  Might have only taken a minute.  For extra creamy flavor, add butter and milk if your diet allows.

I didn’t add butter or milk, but I did get a beautiful, rich, thick cauliflower mash when all was said and done.  It was like really creamy mashed potatoes.  Great consistency.  Of course, the biggest test comes with the taste.

Zero Cuisine Garlic, Herbs & Sea Salt Cauliflower Mash (prepared)

Zero Cuisine Garlic, Herbs & Sea Salt Cauliflower Mash (prepared)

Zero Cuisine does a phenomenal job of capturing the texture of mashed potatoes with their Garlic, Herbs & Sea Salt Cauliflower Mash.  I was actually quite impressed as I watched the powder turn into this gorgeous swirl of thick mash.  And, with only a lack of a bit of seasoning, the flavors really stood out too.  The garlic and herbs don’t overpower the cauliflower itself.  It just would have been a bit bland if not for the seasoned portobello mushroom steak I was serving, which came with a sauce that I drizzled over the entire dish.  It was an amazing addition to the meal and took a lot of prep time out of the occasion.  It’s always best to make things yourself, but this is a healthy and very easy alternative when time restrictions play a huge part in your life.

Let’s talk about ingredients, shall we?  The Zero Cuisine Garlic, Herbs & Sea Salt Cauliflower Mash is made up of dried cauliflower, garlic and spices, sea salt, and guar gum.  It is naturally gluten-free, trans fat free, free of saturated fat, and cholesterol free.  Gotta love it.  Also, every pack of this cauliflower mash is made from approximately 2.6 pounds of fresh cauliflower and every serving of Zero Cuisine Cauliflower Mash contains 1-1/2 servings of vegetables.

As far as nutrition information goes…you’re going to love this even more.  A serving size is 1/3 cup package or 2/3 cup prepared.  There are 4 servings per container.  In one serving, you will be consuming 60 calories, 0.5 grams fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 270 mg sodium, 15 grams carbohydrates, 5 grams fiber, 10 grams sugars, and 3 grams protein.  This is spectacular given that a regular serving of mashed potatoes would provide 160 calories, 24 grams carbs, 6 grams of fat, 2 grams of fiber, and 445 mg sodium  HUGE difference.  Feel good about your food.  Eat something that is better for you and your body in the long run.

I need to find out where I can find this in my area, because Zero Cuisine made prep and cooking so easy.  Especially on hectic nights, this is something that is worth having in the pantry.  Loved the flavors and the texture of the Zero Cuisine Garlic, Herbs & Sea Salt Cauliflower Mash.  And it was because of Cuisine Cube, that I now know it exists.  Happiness comes in all sorts of packages!

Portobello Steak over Zero Cuisine Garlic, Herbs & Sea Salt Cauliflower Mash

Portobello Steak over Zero Cuisine Garlic, Herbs & Sea Salt Cauliflower Mash

Product Review: OLOMOMO Maple Garam Masala Kettle-Roasted Pecans

OLOMOMO Maple Masala Pecans

OLOMOMO Maple Masala Pecans

Product: OLOMOMO Maple Garam Masala Kettle-Roasted Pecans – $4.99+

One of my fondest memories of my roommate’s late father was taking him to the ballpark on Thunder Over Louisville day here in Louisville, Kentucky.  He had just been re-diagnosed and started treatment for his second round of prostate cancer.  And he was having a good day.  He ordered a foot-long brat and enjoyed that, then bought some German roasted nuts to share with us.

Little did I know that Cuisine Cube was going to bring those memories back to me with the simple inclusion of one product in their March 2015 cube.

Before I explain, let me begin by telling you a little bit about Cuisine Cube.  Cuisine Cube has gone through some changes as of May.  No longer do they strictly only offer gluten-free cubes.  In addition to their gluten-free option, they now also offer Artisan and Vegan cubes as well.  The Artisan cube means that you have no food allergies and foods that contain common food allergens will be included.  The Vegan cubes contain products that are dairy and animal free.  And, they still have the Gluten Free cubes, which will have products that contain no gluten or wheat.  These box subscriptions start at $34.99/month.  And, part of the charm is that you will receive 5-6 full-size (not sample size) products.  WOOT!  These usually fall into every meal category for the day: breakfast, lunch, dinner, snack and dessert…with an added bonus from time-to-time.  So, if you’re really interested in being introduced to the smaller, lesser-known, artisan companies, give Cuisine Cube a try!  I can’t wait to get back to receiving these in the mail.

Tucked into my March Cube was the product that surprised me when I tried it last night as my dessert.  Sometimes it takes me a little while to get around to products, but I always do it.  They all serve a purpose.  And, even though Cuisine Cube presented this product as the Snack portion of their cube, it can be so much more.

I’m talking about OLOMOMO Masala Maple Pecans.

OLOMOMO Nut Company launched in one of my favorite places on Earth – Boulder, Colorado, in 2008 with one simple mission plan: be The Good Nuts and create one of the first socially and environmentally conscious nut companies.  Their beginnings were humble, selling samples at the Colorado farmers markets, and then, eventually hitting the big time with a national debut on the Cooking Channel.  OLOMOMO is quickly becoming a national brand.  Currently, the product is available through natural grocery stores like Whole Foods and in coffee shops and smoothie shops (like Smoothie King) across the country.  OLOMOMO is committed to developing fun, healthy products that infuse exotic flavors with familiar flavors, enticing your taste buds more than you thought possible.  They use simple, real, natural ingredients, including fair trade, organic and sustainable packaging when possible.  OLOMOMO is also the first US nut snack company to become certified as a B Corp for their socially and environmentally sustainable business practices.  What’s not to love?  Even more, what’s not to love about a company that strives to inspire people to be more nutty, good and adventurous.  Now you’re speaking my language!

But, how do they taste?  Well, the OLOMOMO Masala Maple Pecans look like the German roasted nuts you see around ballparks and in the malls during the holidays.  My biggest concern was going to be how well the garam masala played with the flavor.  Garam masala is an amazing Indian spice blend that contains cinnamon and cardamon tones.  I love Indian food…I just wasn’t sure how well this flavor would play with the coating on the nuts.  The answer…was brilliantly.  The nuts, even with the hint of garam masala, have more of a sweet than savory flavor…and it isn’t a spicy tone either.  A lot of people hear the word “Indiana food” and immediately imagine everything to be at volcanic levels of spice.  This is like adding cinnamon to your nuts.  Seriously, the combination of cinnamon, cardamom, clove, and maple sweeten up the nuts while the dash of salt gives it that perfect balance salty/sweet combination.  And, yeah, they taste dead up like those German roasted nuts.  Except…better.  Yep…better!!  I’m addicted to them and sad that they are only available in 3.25 ounce bags at the moment.  Don’t let the strange combination of maple and Indian spices throw you off.  These are truly a delightful treat that will entice your taste buds and leave you reaching for more.  It’s a good thing I weigh out all portions of foods I consume…

These are great by the handful, but would really spice up a salad or some fresh yogurt as well.  Go nutty!  Be adventurous.  That’s the entire point.

Let’s discuss ingredients, shall we?  OLOMOMO Masala Maple Pecans are made with pecans, organic evaporated cane juice, fair trade organic maple syrup, garam masala, and love.  YES…my second product in a week that includes LOVE as an ingredient.  It has to be good!!  Food made with love is honestly really amazing food.

Even more enticing is the nutrition information of OLOMOMO Masala Maple Pecans.  This snack is a nutrition powerhouse.  A serving size is 1/4 cup (30 grams) and there are about 3 servings per package.  This one serving will provide you with 190 calories and 18 grams of (healthy) fat.  You will be devouring 120 mg sodium, 9 grams carbohydrates, 2 grams dietary fiber, 6 grams sugars, and 2 grams of protein.  These nuts are all natural, gluten free, and cholesterol free.

Trust me…this little snack is so addicting.  If you aren’t like me and dish out a serving, you could easily eat the entire package.

I probably have seen OLOMOMO nuts at my Whole Foods and just never given them a second glance.  Or, perhaps my area doesn’t carry them.  But now that I know they exist, I’ll be searching for them for sure.  Without this introduction by Cuisine Cube, I’d be a little less nutty today.  Spice up your nut habit…try OLOMOMO!