Restaurant Review: Renee’s Gourmet Pizzeria, Troy, Michigan

Renee's Gourmet Pizzeria, Troy, Michigan
Renee’s Gourmet Pizzeria, Troy, Michigan

Restaurant: Renee’s Gourmet Pizzeria, Troy, Michigan

Welcome to Michigan.  My roommate and I ventured up this way this after my long run this morning because Queen (yes…that Queen) is performing in Detroit this evening.  And as her birthday present, Cathy had two tickets to the show.  So…here we are.  Ready to rock and roll.

But not before we got eats.

My friend, Kelsie, is from Detroit and sent me some options for food and places to check out while here in the area.  I love her for this and all her help.  And, for some reason, even though I had pizza on Thursday night…I felt pizza had to be done again.  Why?  I don’t know…I love pizza.  I really, really do.  BUT…neither Cathy nor I had eaten since we left Louisville (thank you Go Picnic), and we were hungry.  And my Find Me Gluten Free app directed us to a dedicated pizzeria in Troy, Michigan…which happened to be on our way to Auburn Hills.

Renee’s Gourmet Pizzeria is located in a little strip mall area.  They are a dedicated gluten-free and nut-free establishment.  Their windows declare a simple sentiment, that is echoed on their menu as well: “I Can’t Believe It’s Gluten Free!”

Cathy and I stepped inside and we were greeted by Alexis, a 20-something waitress with amazing blue and purple hair.  I complimented her on her hair…and mentioned how when I dyed my hair purple, it washed out in 2 days.  She gave me tips for next time I go for a wild color…so, now I know…and knowing is half the battle.  We chatted a bit, about our trip up here…about gluten-free places…about Kentucky…it was fun.  She went to get our drink orders (I got an unsweetened iced tea and Cathy went with a Diet Coke…because caffeine is good before a show…especially when you’ve been up before the ass crack of dawn (because…that’s when all runners get up).

She let us browse the menu and when she returned with drinks, Cathy inquired about the size of the calzones.  Because…honestly…who does gluten-free calzones?  Alexis said the calzones were small, so not big enough to split.  So, Cathy and I decided to each get one.  And we each built our own.  Cathy went with a calzone stuffed with mozzarella cheese, goat cheese, spinach, tomatoes, and portobello mushrooms ($8.99) inside hers.

As for me…my calzone was going to be stuffed with Teese (vegan cheese of AWESOME!), banana peppers, tomatoes, mushrooms, and spinach ($11.99 [$8.99 + $3.00 for vegan cheese]).  I was sort of back and forth on whether to do banana peppers or artichoke hearts…but I never get banana peppers on anything like pizza or something since Cathy is that picky.  So…I went with that.  She will do artichoke hearts.  And that was the deciding factor.

Order in.

We were watching the World Cup pregame on ESPN for the Brazil v. Netherlands match when Alexis returned to the table and said the pizza chef was new and he…kinda made the calzones larger than usual.  Like…by a lot.  Not the small, individual size she described originally.  Well…what do you do?

Well, she wasn’t kidding.  Cathy caught sight of them as they were going in to cook and went, “Holy cow!”  HAHA!!  Well…we figured that we’d eat what we could and take the rest with us to the hotel and place it in the refrigerator.  No biggie.  We did get to hear the chefs discuss how they were going to tell the vegan calzone from the regular one with cheese, and finally they realized that Cathy’s would have the Parmesan cheese on top of hers.  Brilliant.

And soon…the gluten-free calzones were making their way to the table.

Renee's Gourmet Pizzeria's Gluten-Free & Vegan Calzone (made with Teese, portobello mushrooms, spinach, tomatoes, and banana peppers)
Renee’s Gourmet Pizzeria’s Gluten-Free & Vegan Calzone (made with Teese, portobello mushrooms, spinach, tomatoes, and banana peppers)

Yeah…huge was right.  But the crust was not thick.  In fact, it was a nice, light, and thin crust.  I love that because with calzones it should be all about the fillings, not the crust.  I only require a nice, crisp crust.  Don’t give me a soggy calzone.  They didn’t.  This crust was beautifully crisp and golden on the bottom.  The top remained crispy and I, being quite hungry, took my pictures for the blog and then dove in.

First of all…I have missed being able to eat calzones.  And part of the magic from this was it was my first taste of something that I hadn’t had in more than three years…nor can have…anywhere.  That’s why I went calzone instead of pizza.  I can get amazing gluten-free pizza in Louisville…and, if I’m lucky, elsewhere as well.  This…I’d never seen gluten-free calzones before.  And let me tell you…I fell in love with this calzone.  As I said, the crust was nice and thin, so it wasn’t heavy or too filling too fast.  I love that about gluten-free pizzas as well.  And inside, the Teese vegan cheese melted gorgeously and didn’t taste like plastic (as Daiya sometimes can…).  The vegetables were so amazing.  Seriously amazing.  The mushrooms were cooked to perfection, the spinach wilted beautifully, the tomatoes were ripe and sweet, and the banana peppers…adding that little bit of acidity that just punched up the flavor.  It came with a bit of marinara for dipping.  The marinara…nice touch.  Packed with flavor and seasoned to perfection.  I was beyond impressed.  So impressed that both Cathy and I ended up eating our calzones in their entirety.  I have a feeling we won’t need food again until tomorrow morning.

Another reason for that…we got dessert.

Yep.  You gotta treat yourself every now and again and since the calzones were actually light…we had the room.  And I, being the observant one I am, realized they had a few dessert options…like cookies and a cake roll…and the option we went with…cinnamon sticks.

Gluten. Free. Cinnamon. Sticks.

You know how much I love cinnamon, yes?  Of course you do.  So, when I saw they had gluten-free cinnamon sticks ($5.99), I knew I needed to consume them.  I wanted to consume them.  So…order in.  And after a short weight while they made them up for us (loving that freshness with each order), they were brought out to the table.  And I think I began drooling immediately.  They looked fantastic.  I picked one up and broke off the end, dipping it into the icing that came with it…and took a bite.

HELLO!!  Cathy described it as “really tasty fair food that is actually good!”  I describe it as…donuts taken to the nth degree.  This was one party in my mouth.  The sweet heat from the cinnamon and sugar with the light doughy sticks that were fried to perfection.  Honestly.  They had that nice crispy outside but were all soft and hot and steamy in the center.  The icing was a nice, cooling, sweet addition.  It was no joke how fast these disappeared.  I fell in love.  One bite…lead to me devouring 3 of the 6 sticks in the order.

Happy place!  This is a happy place.  The service was fantastic.  The atmosphere is very much “strip mall establishment” but…when you serve up that kind of food…it doesn’t matter.  It shouldn’t matter anyway.  The chefs did a fantastic job getting our order done right and to perfection.  The food was fantastic.  The company of the staff, who were discussing Queen, World Cup, and the food with us…was like being among friends.  And we left with happy, very full tummies.

I regret nothing!

If you find yourself driving through Troy, Michigan…make a point to stop in at Renee’s Gourmet Pizzeria.  You, honestly, won’t believe that everything there is gluten-free.  The food is, honestly, outstanding.  I hope this little pizzeria is along for a very long time.  Next time, should I ever be this way again…I’ll actually order a pizza.  And those cinnamon sticks again!

Renee's Gourmet Pizzeria's Gluten-Free Cinnamon Sticks
Renee’s Gourmet Pizzeria’s Gluten-Free Cinnamon Sticks

Product Review – Freedom Foods Nut & Dairy Free Smudge Cocoa Spread

Freedom Foods Nut & Dairy Free Smudge Cocoa Spread
Freedom Foods Nut & Dairy Free Smudge Cocoa Spread

Product: Freedom Foods Nut & Dairy Free Smudge Cocoa Spread – $3.99+

I absolutely LOVE Nutella.  I love it.  There is something so amazing about that flavor combination of chocolate and hazelnut.  And while sometimes Nutella and I get along like old friends…there are other times I have a reaction to the dairy that is in it…and then…we don’t get on so great.

So…I stopped with the Nutella.  As much as I could.  Every now and again…I would risk that small bit of dairy.  I don’t get it with me and dairy.  Sometimes…a little bit doesn’t affect me.  Other times, even the slightest bit of it does.  Ah, food intolerance.  So much fun!  *dripping with sarcasm*

As it was…I would gaze longingly at the Nutella at the grocery store…thinking…maybe…just maybe it would be okay this one time.  But, then I would recall how I would feel afterwards and…well…it wasn’t worth it.  While naturally gluten-free Nutella does contain skim milk, whey, and soy.  I don’t always get along with those ingredients.  So, bummer.

Until…until that blessed day I was grocery shopping at my local Kroger and came to the gluten-free end cap that usually holds the same products it has held since…they first put it up.  But there was something different.  Something…exciting.  Foods from my beloved Freedom Foods.  I am hooked on their Tropico’s cereal, which my parents have to mail to me.  We have a few of their products here now.  And, while I didn’t spot it, my roommate did.  And she picked it up off the shelf and went…”NUTELLA!”

Sure enough!  This little jar of cocoa goodness goes by the name Smudge.  Smudge.  I love it.  It’s so…cute!

And since everything I have tried from Freedom Foods has been delicious, this was a splurge I was willing to pay for.  Splurging on Smudge.  That’s my life.  That had to be done!

So, for an entire week it sat on my pantry shelf with nothing to be spread on.  That is until my roomie went grocery shopping and found Udi’s Gluten-Free Bagels on a “huge stupid sale” at one of our various grocery stores we frequent every week.  So…bagels!!  And I know that Nutella and Nutella-ish spreads are amazing on bagels.  Like…dessert for breakfast.  So, this morning after my spin class…I came home and put the bagels in the oven to toast while I took a shower and got changed for work.  By the time I was out, the bagels were ready.  It was time to schmear the Smudge!

This spread was a rich, dark chocolate color and very smooth.  It smelled like bittersweet chocolate and happiness.  Because if happiness was a smell, it would smell like chocolate.  Trust me.  It was so easy to spread over the toasted bagel, a tablespoon to each half.  I did a test for my roomie, putting the Freedom Foods Nut & Dairy Free Smudge Cocoa Spread on one of her halves and Nutella on the other half.  Just for comparison reasons.  She liked both, but I noticed she saved Smudge for her last bite.  So when I asked, she said it was good…less sweet than hers.  Nice.

As for my thoughts…Holy Chocolate Goodness, Batman!!  Freedom Foods just won my heart, my stomach, and the rest of me.  If there is a pleasure switch when it comes to taste, this one flipped it.  It was just as smooth as it spread on the bagel.  It was chocolatey, without being too much.  It wasn’t hot fudge chocolate, but perhaps chocolate syrup chocolate.  And now I can imagine drizzling this over a scoop of dairy-free ice cream.  Oh, Freedom Foods Smudge is one happy spread, bite-for-bite-for bite.  You’ll want to lick your fingers clean.  I did.  And maybe my plate too.  This is Nutella without the nuts and the dairy and the soy.  This is Nutella on happy steroids for people like me…suffering from food allergies and only being able to pass by the product in the store and think about what could have been.

Smudge…makes it all better.  Smudge…makes life better.

I seriously could eat the entire jar with a spoon.  I am going to attempt to not do that.  No promises though…

Freedom Foods is an Australian company that takes great pride in their products they put out on the market.  Since they say something is “free from” something…they mean it.  And, they adhere to the Food Standards Code of Australia and New Zealand, keeping their products free of anything genetically modified.  In addition. All of their products are free from nuts and gluten.  And, in addition, they use no artificial colors or flavors.  All natural.  All good!

So, what makes up Freedom Foods Nut & Dairy Free Smudge Cocoa Spread?  Simple.  This chocolatey spread is made from vegetable oils, maltodextrin (maize), raw sugar, cocoa (10%), tapioca starch, inulin, emulsifier (sunflower lecithin), vegetable gums (locust bean, xanthan), flavors, sweetener (steviol glycosides), sea salt.  Not 100% clean…but still…YUMMY!!  This product is gluten-free, nut-free, wheat-free, dairy-free and lactose-free.

As for nutrition, a serving of the Freedom Foods Nut & Dairy Free Smudge Cocoa Spread is 2 tablespoons.  This serving delivers 210 calories and 12 grans if fat.  So…yes, eating the entire 9.2 ounce jar with a spoon is probably not recommended.  A serving also serves up 35 mg sodium and 12 sugars.  This product is cholesterol free.  Two tablespoons will also provide you with 1 gram of fiber and 1 gram of protein. In the long run – not filling.  That’s why you put it on a carby, fiber-filled bagel.  Mmmm…

Trust me on this one…it is amazing.  So…it’s not Nutella.  For someone like me…it’s so much more than Nutella.  And, honestly…I like it better.  Thank you, once again, Freedom Foods…because of you Smudge is my new go-to spread.  I am in chocoholic heaven!

Also…it’s fun to say schmear of Smudge.  HA!

Freedom Foods Nut & Dairy Free Smudge Cocoa Spread (on a gluten-free bagel)
Freedom Foods Nut & Dairy Free Smudge Cocoa Spread (on a gluten-free bagel)

What are our products free from, and just how ‘free from’ are they?

For us, what we leave out of our products is just as important as what we put in. When we say a product is ‘free from’ something, we make sure it really is.

Nuts

• All Freedom Foods cereals and bars are made in our Stanbridge factory, which does not use, and tests rigorously for, the presence of peanuts, almonds, hazelnuts and walnuts.

• We also work with our raw material suppliers to ensure anything we bring into our factory hasn’t been exposed to nuts.

• If our box states the product is nut free, that means no peanuts, almonds, hazelnuts or walnuts can be detected. (While we’d love to test for every single type of tree nut, there’s just not an approved test available just yet. We’ll get there.)

• Please note: A few of our products are made in other factories that may have nuts, so always check the packaging before you buy or give us a call.

Gluten

• Our Stanbridge factory is completely free from wheat, rye, barley and triticale and we also make sure the oats we bring on site are not contaminated with wheat.

• As for testing, every batch of our finished product is tested ensure no gluten is detected.

Artificial Colours & Flavours

• While other leading snack brands sneak artificial colours and flavours into their foods, we don’t. You won’t find a single artificial colour or flavour in any of our products. And trust us, you won’t miss them.

Genetically Modified Ingredients

• We’re proud to say that all Freedom Foods products are free of genetically modified ingredients. We adhere to the Food Standards Code of Australia and New Zealand, if you’d like to learn more about our standards.
How can we guarantee our foods are free from all of the above? Check out How We Do It.

– See more at: http://www.freedomfoods.com.au/what-were-free-from#sthash.8SjjxHU5.dpuf

For us, what we leave out of our products is just as important as what we put in. When we say a product is ‘free from’ something, we make sure it really is.

Nuts

• All Freedom Foods cereals and bars are made in our Stanbridge factory, which does not use, and tests rigorously for, the presence of peanuts, almonds, hazelnuts and walnuts.

• We also work with our raw material suppliers to ensure anything we bring into our factory hasn’t been exposed to nuts.

• If our box states the product is nut free, that means no peanuts, almonds, hazelnuts or walnuts can be detected. (While we’d love to test for every single type of tree nut, there’s just not an approved test available just yet. We’ll get there.)

• Please note: A few of our products are made in other factories that may have nuts, so always check the packaging before you buy or give us a call.

Gluten

• Our Stanbridge factory is completely free from wheat, rye, barley and triticale and we also make sure the oats we bring on site are not contaminated with wheat.

• As for testing, every batch of our finished product is tested ensure no gluten is detected.

Artificial Colours & Flavours

• While other leading snack brands sneak artificial colours and flavours into their foods, we don’t. You won’t find a single artificial colour or flavour in any of our products. And trust us, you won’t miss them.

Genetically Modified Ingredients

• We’re proud to say that all Freedom Foods products are free of genetically modified ingredients. We adhere to the Food Standards Code of Australia and New Zealand, if you’d like to learn more about our standards.
How can we guarantee our foods are free from all of the above? Check out How We Do It.

– See more at: http://www.freedomfoods.com.au/what-were-free-from#sthash.k7reomFu.dpuf

For us, what we leave out of our products is just as important as what we put in. When we say a product is ‘free from’ something, we make sure it really is.

Nuts

• All Freedom Foods cereals and bars are made in our Stanbridge factory, which does not use, and tests rigorously for, the presence of peanuts, almonds, hazelnuts and walnuts.

• We also work with our raw material suppliers to ensure anything we bring into our factory hasn’t been exposed to nuts.

• If our box states the product is nut free, that means no peanuts, almonds, hazelnuts or walnuts can be detected. (While we’d love to test for every single type of tree nut, there’s just not an approved test available just yet. We’ll get there.)

• Please note: A few of our products are made in other factories that may have nuts, so always check the packaging before you buy or give us a call.

Gluten

• Our Stanbridge factory is completely free from wheat, rye, barley and triticale and we also make sure the oats we bring on site are not contaminated with wheat.

• As for testing, every batch of our finished product is tested ensure no gluten is detected.

Artificial Colours & Flavours

• While other leading snack brands sneak artificial colours and flavours into their foods, we don’t. You won’t find a single artificial colour or flavour in any of our products. And trust us, you won’t miss them.

Genetically Modified Ingredients

• We’re proud to say that all Freedom Foods products are free of genetically modified ingredients. We adhere to the Food Standards Code of Australia and New Zealand, if you’d like to learn more about our standards.
How can we guarantee our foods are free from all of the above? Check out How We Do It.

– See more at: http://www.freedomfoods.com.au/what-were-free-from#sthash.k7reomFu.dpuf

Product Review: Pacific Foods Organic Roasted Red Pepper Hummus

Pacific Foods Organic Roasted Red Pepper Hummus
Pacific Foods Organic Roasted Red Pepper Hummus

Product: Pacific Foods Organic Roasted Red Pepper Hummus – $3.99+

It took awhile for her to come around…

Actually it took a lot of me just forcing her to eat it…but now my roomie, formerly someone who loathed hummus and everything about it…someone who when I would make her eat it insisted it had to be warm first (EWW!!)…has since seen the error in her ways.  It happened a little while ago actually.  She’s been a hummus fiend ever since.  Without it needing to be heated.

So…hummus has become one of those things we tend to have on hand in the kitchen these days.  It’s a great, healthy spread…good on just about any vegetable…or a gluten-free cracker…or in a gluten-free wrap or sandwich.  Hummus is not only delicious…it’s also so versatile.

I admit…this is the first time I’ve ever purchased hummus in a box.  Usually it’s in those lidded plastic containers in the refrigerated area of the grocery store.  But Pacific Foods has created a, ready for this?, shelf stable hummus.  Yes…shelf stable.  Which is good, because I forgot I had this in pantry.  I actually got this box of hummus for free with a deal going on at my local Earth Fare awhile back.  It was spend $10 or something and get free hummus.  Free and hummus.  Two of my favorite words!

Well…it’s late in the week.  Tomorrow another CSA bin of fruits and veggies will be delivered to my door, and I’m still trying to use up some of the veggies from this past week.  I decided to make it easy.  Knowing that one of the veggies still in my bin was my carrots, I went to the pantry and put the box of Pacific Foods Organic Roasted Red Pepper Hummus into the fridge before heading to the gym this morning.  I knew tonight, I could polish off the remaining two ears of corn by grilling them up and serving them with some carrot sticks and a serving of the hummus.

Work was hectic today…so I was glad to have an easier dinner planned.  Upon returning home, I peeled the corn and got it in the grill pan with some roasted garlic and her vegan buttery spread.  As that was grilling and, as usual, smoking up the apartment, I started to peel and slice the carrots.  When they were ready, I plated them, seasoned the corn, and then grabbed the Pacific Foods Organic Roasted Red Pepper Hummus from the fridge.  I opened up the box and noticed that it really needed to be stirred.  This…is no easy task.  When you try to stir something in a bowl, it’s easy.  When you try to stir something in a box…a mess is bound to happen.  I kept it pretty well contained to the box itself though.  Once it was blended, I scooped out some healthy tablespoons and dinner…was served.

Mmmm…veggies for dinner.

That’s pretty usual for me actually…being a gluten-free vegetarian.

So…how was it?

It was delicious.  Definitely not as creamy as the refrigerated varieties, but not bad.  It was packed with really good flavor.  I could taste the roasted red peppers…which just elevated the spread.  I loved how easy it was to scoop up with the carrot sticks.  And it was so refreshing.  Honestly.  In fact, I ate my grilled corn up first so I could end my meal with the hummus.  That’s how much I liked it.  It reminded me a lot of the hummus I make.  That’s what the texture reminded me of, and perhaps that is why I enjoyed it so much.

Interesting to note…the Pacific Foods Organic Roasted Red Pepper Hummus is one of few shelf-stable hummus’ on the market.  It is actually packaged in BPA-free cartons.  The hummus contains 1/3 fewer calories and 40% less fat than the leading refrigerated brand.  And, Pacific Foods, as always, places their reputation on their high-quality ingredients.

Speaking of ingredients, the Pacific Foods Organic Roasted Red Pepper Hummus is made from water, organic chickpeas, organic roasted red bell peppers, organic red bell peppers, organic canola oil, organic tahini, organic garlic, organic lemon juice concentrate, sea salt, organic sesame oil, organic spices.  It is vegetarian, vegan, cholesterol free, dairy-free, corn-free, soy-free, wheat-free, and yeast-free.

So let’s talk nutrition, shall we?  Hummus is such a healthy spread.  Honestly.  It’s amazing.  A serving of the Pacific Foods Organic Roasted Red Pepper Hummus is 2 tablespoons.  This will provide you with 45 calories and 3 grams of fat.  A serving will also give you 130 mg sodium and 1 gram of sugar.  LOVE IT.  It will also give you 1 gram of fiber and 1 gram of protein.

Hummus is one of the best condiments and spreads to ever come into the world.  It’s rich, creamy, and delicious.  It’s good on sandwiches, or on salads, or on pizzas, or on crackers, or on vegetables…etc.  You see what I’m getting at here?  Hummus makes the world a richer and happier place.  Well…maybe not alone…but it is one healthy way to enjoy some of your favorite foods in a new way.  Or…just dip some tortilla chips or fresh veggies in it…and you’ll be just as happy.  Pacific Foods Organic Roasted Red Pepper Hummus is amazing and I will totally be trying out the other two flavors in the future.

In case you were wondering…Pacific Foods also has an Organic Classic Hummus and an Organic Roasted Garlic Hummus.

Try all three versions.  But, if nothing else, trust me on the amazing tastiness that the Roasted Red Pepper variety provides.  Oh…so good!

Pacific Foods Organic Roasted Red Pepper Hummus
Pacific Foods Organic Roasted Red Pepper Hummus

Product Review: Sir Kensington’s Classic Ketchup

Sir Kensington's Classic Ketchup
Sir Kensington’s Classic Ketchup

Product: Sir Kensington’s Classic Ketchup – $4.99+

Thank you Jungle Jim’s and your amazing prices!  Seriously.  For years now I have been wanting to try Sir Kensington’s Classic Ketchup.  Because I’m the type of person who puts ketchup on my ketchup.  This is the condiment of my life.  Ketchup is life changing.  It’s good for most things.  And I never have enough of it.  If I were told I could only have one condiment to use for the rest of my life…it would have to be ketchup.

So, when I was paging through the myriad of magazines I get each month…I kept seeing the award winning Sir Kensington’s Classic Ketchup.  Gourmet ketchup.  GOURMET KETCHUP!!  There was such a thing and I hadn’t tried it yet?  Unfortunately, the few stores I spotted this in had it at a price I seriously couldn’t justify.  So…it never happened.

Why gourmet?  Why this ketchup?

First of all, as I mentioned before, this is award-winning ketchup.  I didn’t know ketchup could win awards.  But this one had and still continues to do so.  And…it is made with only all-natural ingredients.  And you know how much of a stickler I have become about what is in the food I am eating.  This made me happy.

And then Jungle Jim’s up in Cincinnati, Ohio, made me even happier by having this ketchup at a decent price.  You better believe that made it into my grocery basket and then…into my pantry.  And what better time to bust out gourmet ketchup than when you are cooking up veggie burgers and sitting down to the Uruguay v. Costa Rica match of the World Cup.

So, with the burgers constructed, each gluten-free hamburger bun got a liberal serving of the Sir Kensington’s Classic Ketchup. Had I baked some fries, this would have been served on the side as well for dipping purposes, but I chose to use a product from my June Cuisine Cube (stay tuned for that review!) to serve with the burgers.  So the ketchup was it for the condiment factor and it was teaming up against an amazing veggie burger and the toppings (vegan cheese, lettuce, tomato, caramelized onion, and sliced avocado).  It was really going to have to shine.

Well, it did.  Wow…it did.  What I found I loved best about the taste of Sir Kensington’s Classic Ketchup was that it wasn’t overly sweet.  It wasn’t heavy.  And it wasn’t too strong.  If you think all ketchup is created equal…think again.  Not only does this one have a very short list of ingredients, but it tastes fresh and clean.  It doesn’t feel bogged down with unnecessary sweeteners and chemicals.  It has a lively, mild flavor.  This is the Captain America of condiments.  This will make you rethink ketchup forever.

The ingredients in Sir Kensington’s Classic Ketchup are basic, simple, and fresh.  They include: tomato paste, apple cider vinegar, raw sugar, onion, honey, olive oil, lime juice concentrate, green bell pepper, salt, agave nectar, and spices.  Simple.  Clean.  And, when combined, a brilliant use of ingredients for ultimate flavor and perfect gourmet ketchup.  The tomatoes they use are never from concentrate.  This brand boasts 50% less sugar (because it’s a condiment, not a confection) and 45% less sodium (because…why pickle yourself) compared with the leading national brand (and I think we all know what brand that might be…).  Don’t you just love it?

As far as nutrition goes, a serving size is 1 tablespoon.  Which is perfect for a condiment (even when I multiply it by 10 sometimes!).  This serving will provide you with 15 calories.  This ketchup is a fat free food!  This ketchup is also cholesterol free.  It contains only 105 mg sodium and 2 grams of sugar.  Ketchup contains no fiber or protein.  But veggie burgers do!  HA!

Oh…this will forever be the ketchup that finds it way into my fridge.  I mean…wow.  Gourmet ketchup.  Yeah…I’m feeling posh as I sit down to watch the World Cup.  My burger has Sir Kensignton’s Classic Ketchup on it.  What about yours?  Hmmm?  You might want to rethink your red sauce.  Give your burgers and fries a gourmet sauce.  You and your food deserve it!

Product Review: Wild Friends Foods Chocolate Coconut Peanut Butter

Wild Friends Foods Chocolate Coconut Peanut Butter
Wild Friends Foods Chocolate Coconut Peanut Butter

Product: Wild Friends Foods Chocolate Coconut Peanut Butter – $1.99+

As many of you, my dear readers, know by now…one of my most favorite things in life…and truly my drug of choice…is peanut butter.

Yes.

Peanut butter.

I can’t get enough of the stuff.  I eat it by the jarful.  When I’m stressed out…it’s what I turn to for comfort.  After I workout, it’s what I grab to get some protein.  I eat it on sandwiches, in cookies, and…best of all…right off a spoon straight from the jar.  Yes…if we all have that one food that is our kryptonite…for me…it’s peanut butter.

I do try to keep it as natural as possible.  I don’t mind having to stir my peanut butter or store it upside down.  Nope.  It doesn’t matter to me at all.  Because peanut butter is one of those perfect foods that balances my love of sweet and salty…all at once.

Well, while in Birmingham, Alabama, I discovered little sample packets (and the jars) of nut butters from Wild Friends Foods.  The cute, winking squirrel on the label was what caught my eye first.  Then…the unique and different flavors.  I originally snagged my (still) favorite so far…the Vanilla Espresso Almond Butter.  But the next chance I had at Organic Harvest in Birmingham, I snatched up a few more…and one of them was the Chocolate Coconut Peanut Butter.  Let me say that again…

Chocolate.  Coconut.  Peanut Butter.

Is that not heaven in nut butter form?  Of course it is.  These packets only sat in my pantry for a very short time.  Very short.  Because I was without vegan cream cheese the other day and wanted to finish off the gluten-free bagels that were sitting in my freezer.  So, I chose both of the chocolate varieties I had in the pantry (the previous reviewed Chocolate Sesame Seed Almond Butter was the other) and kneaded the packets so that when the bagels were done toasting in the oven, I could split each flavor between the four halves for my roommate and I to try.

Out of the oven came the bagels and two halves got the Chocolate Sesame Seed Almond Butter schmeared on them.  The other two halves…got the Chocolate Coconut Peanut Butter treatment.  I served up one half of each for each of us and settled in for breakfast.  I tried the Chocolate Sesame Seed Almond Butter first…and loved it.  But when I took a bite of the Chocolate Coconut Peanut Butter…I knew which one I preferred.  Seriously.  I had recently fallen in love with a brand of almond butter that mixed in coconut pulp.  I mean…it’s crack.  But this…this went beyond crack.  This was amazing.  The sweetness of the chocolate blended well with the texture of peanut butter…but that little tang of coconut is what made this.  Amazing.  I said it before…I’ll say it again…who needs Nutella when this exists?  I’d eat an entire jar of this without stopping if I could.  Probably best I had this in the sample packet only!!  It’s really good.  In fact, I was waiting on my roommate to comment that she didn’t like it as much as the Sesame Seed version…but she surprised me, saying she preferred the Chocolate Coconut Peanut Butter variety.  WOW!  That’s definitely saying something as she adamantly declares her dislike of coconut often.  WINNING!

Ingredients in the Wild Friends Foods Chocolate Coconut Peanut Butter are simple and clean.  This particular nut butter of chocolate and coconut goodness contains peanuts, coconut, organic agave, chocolate liquor, and sea salt.  Yes.  That’s it.  No unnecessary oils or preservatives.  No strange additives or white sugar.  Simple ingredients that offer big flavor.  Wild Friends Foods Chocolate Coconut Peanut Butter is all-natural, non-GMO, non-dairy, kosher, and this particular flavor contains no gluten ingredients.  It is also cholesterol free!

Nutritionally speaking, a serving of Wild Friends Foods Chocolate Coconut Peanut Butter is 2 tablespoons.  In this serving, you will be consuming 190 calories and 15 grams of fat.  Don’t panic over the fat content.  That comes from the nuts and the coconut.  A serving also has 35 mg sodium and 5 grams of sugar.  Only 5 grams of sugar in something that is chocolate.  Yes.  You read that right.  This serving will also dish you up 2 grams of fiber and 6 grams of protein.  You will feel full…and that is only a good thing.  You don’t want to overindulge…which I tend to do when it comes to nut butters.

Three distinctly different flavors of Wild Friends Foods nut butters have been sampled.  All of them have been enjoyed for various reasons.  It is so nice to have a brand that puts so much pride in the flavors they create and the product itself.  You can tell from the first bite how much love goes into the production of these nut butters.  And…if you like something a little sweet and nutty…the Wild Friends Foods Chocolate Coconut Peanut Butter is a fantastic choice.  Keep this in your pantry for always!

Wild Friends Foods Chocolate Coconut Peanut Butter (on a gluten-free bagel)
Wild Friends Foods Chocolate Coconut Peanut Butter (on a gluten-free bagel)

Product Review: Wild Friends Foods Chocolate Sunflower Seed Almond Butter

Wild Friends Foods Chocolate Sunflower Seed Almond Butter
Wild Friends Foods Chocolate Sunflower Seed Almond Butter

Product: Wild Friends Foods Chocolate Sunflower Seed Almond Butter – $1.99+

Remember that Vanilla Espresso Almond Butter that I raved about not too long ago?

No?  If not…refresh your memory  here.  If you do…welcome to me sampling some more flavors from Wild Friends Foods.  Because the delicious awesomesauciness of the Vanilla Espresso Almond Butter was enough to drive me to try some more options.  And while I was in Birmingham, Alabama a couple weeks ago, I picked up some more sample packets of the Wild Friends Foods line of peanut and almond butters.  I only hoped they would live up to the one that really blew me away.

So…I came home with three flavors…and had some gluten-free bagels in the freezer.

See where I am going with this?

So, one morning, I toasted up these bagels…and realized I used up all my vegan cream cheese.

Never fear.  Never.  Because where cream cheese fails…nut butter comes through.

My roommate and I sampled two different flavors that morning, as these are the small sample packs.  But…in this blog I am focusing on the Wild Friends Foods Chocolate Sunflower Seed Almond Butter.

Yes…

Chocolate.  Sunflower Seed.  Almond Butter.

Three epically delicious things in life all combined in one plastic jar with a cute winking squirrel on it.  How could this be bad?

In truth…it can’t!!  And…it wasn’t.

The Wild Friends Foods Chocolate Sunflower Seed Almond Butter is crazy good.  It isn’t too sweet, so they’ve managed to strike a nice balance between the amount of chocolate and the salty-savory flavor of the nuts.  It was creamy and amazing.  And who doesn’t like something chocolate for breakfast, right?  This was really good on my gluten-free bagel.  I was noshing it happily and enjoying the blend of flavors.  Almond butter is the most prevalent, but it leads off with that sweetness of the chocolate.  And the sunflower seeds…nice touch that adds great texture.  It is like nothing you have ever had before…but you will totally want it again.

Delicious!

Let’s talk basic and simple ingredients, okay?  That’s easy to do…because Wild Friends Foods only uses real ingredients in their nut butters.  The Chocolate Sesame Seed Almond Butter contains almonds, organic agave, unsweetened dark chocolate, sunflower seeds, sunflower oil, and sea salt.  That’s it.  Basic.  Simple.  CLEAN!  Wild Friends Foods uses only all-natural ingredients, no white sugar, it’s non-GMO, non-dairy, vegan, and kosher.  Also, this product has no gluten ingredients.  YAY!

Nutritionally speaking, a serving of Wild Friends Foods Chocolate Sesame Seed Almond Butter is 2 tablespoons.  This serving will provide you with 180 calories and 15 grams of fat…all of which are is the healthy fats you get from nuts.  YAY!  This product is cholesterol free and contains only 40 mg of sodium.  Nice.  Additionally, you will be consuming 3 grams of fiber and 6 grams of protein.  Trust me…it’s filling.  Especially on a bagel.

LOVE…is nut butters from Wild Friends Foods…and why choose between a sweet or a salty spread when you can have the best of both worlds?  Yeah…now you don’t have to.  Forget Nutella.  Eat something so much better for you!

Wild Friends Foods Chocolate Sunflower Seed Almond Butter (on a gluten-free bagel)
Wild Friends Foods Chocolate Sunflower Seed Almond Butter (on a gluten-free bagel)

Product Review: Glutino Gluten-Free Pretzel Chips

Glutino Gluten-Free Pretzel Chips
Glutino Gluten-Free Pretzel Chips

Glutino Gluten-Free Pretzel Chips – $5.29+

I have a great love for all things Glutino.

Seriously.

ALL THE THINGS!

They haven’t let me down yet, and I’ve been fortunate enough to pick up quite a variety of their product offerings over the past couple of years since I had to go gluten-free.

However, while I have enjoyed everything I have tried thus far…I do have to say…they make the best damn freakin’ gluten-free pretzels on the market.

Ever.

End. Of. Story.

From the first time I tasted one of their gluten-free pretzel twists…what seems like ages ago…I was hooked.  Addicted.  Ready to enjoy way more.  I might have a sweet tooth, but that craving for something salty is also a constant thing in my life.  I enjoy both…for different reasons.  (And lucky me, Glutino makes amazing chocolate covered pretzels…which brings me the best of both worlds).  But recently…it’s been the salty side that has been winning.

Lucky for me, a little while back, my roomie made a dash to the grocery store for me while I was making dinner or something and was lacking an ingredient.  While there, she surprised me with a gift.  She picked up a bag of Glutino’s Gluten-Free Pretzel Chips.

Mmmmm!!

I had other items in my pantry to work through first, but these got their moment to shine today…at my scheduled snack time.  And, boy…was I not the least bit disappointed.

Glutino bills the Gluten-Free Pretzel Chips as something you can pile high with cheese, veggies, spread with paté, load up with savories, or use to scoop up dip.  So…a chip but in pretzel form.  Hence…pretzel chips.  HA!  Anyway, I chose to eat mine plain this morning…not having any amazing hummus or dip of some sort to use these with…but…it didn’t matter.  Even on their own, the Glutino Gluten-Free Pretzel Chips do not disappoint.  Not one bit.

Just like the Glutino Pretzel Twists and Sticks that came before…these also carry that unique and so completely drool-worthy buttery flavor in each bite.  That is my favorite part of crunching into a Glutino pretzel product.  Nothing tastes better than that little hint of buttery flavor.  Sort of like eating a crunchy and gluten-free version of an Auntie Anne’s pretzel.  They are fantastic.  Not too much salt – just enough to give each chip that pretzel seasoning that you desire.  You gotta love that rich flavor with each bite.  And the crunchiness is so good.  No soft bites here.  These are fantastic!!  I’m addicted.  No…seriously…I might need an intervention.

I’d like to see someone try…*wink*

As far as ingredients go, Glutino Pretzel Chips are made up from corn starch, potato starch, rice flour, soluble corn fiber, palm oil, salt, cellulose gum, sugar, cellulose powder, soy lecithin, yeast extract, sodium bicarbonate, citric acid, sodium acid pyrophosphate, onion powder, and garlic powder.  They are, as always, completely gluten-free and cholesterol free.

Nutritionally speaking, a serving of the Glutino Gluten-Free Pretzel Chips is 30 grams (or about 11 of the chips).  This serving will provide you with 120 calories and 3 grams of fat.  In addition, this serving has 400 mg sodium and 3 grams of sugar.  These provide 3 grams of fiber, but no protein.

But…they are a snack.  And a delicious one at that.  So, keep that in mind.  Hit the store, seek these out and indulge.  Enjoy.  And try not to eat the entire bag in one sitting.  It will be tough, I know.  BELIEVE me, I know.  Super good.  Super crispy.  Super WOW!!  Glutino…you win again!

Restaurant Review: The Village Anchor, Anchorage, Kentucky

The Village Anchor, Anchorage, Kentucky
The Village Anchor, Anchorage, Kentucky

Restaurant: The Village Anchor, Anchorage, Kentucky

Twas the weekend before Christmas and my roommate and I were set to have our official Christmas dinner out at a local restaurant.  We started this tradition of a holiday meal a couple years back.  It gives me a break from the kitchen, which, no matter how much I love to cook, is always welcome, and gives us a great excuse to try out a restaurant we might not have picked otherwise.  It’s usually a little more upscale…a little pricier…but this only happens once a year.  The splurge is worth it.

This year, the roomie chose the restaurant.  It was one we had visited before, but never had the luxury of eating there.  I ran a short mile run there during the summer.  In fact, I never had set foot in the restaurant part, only the bar – The Sea Hag – prior to this visit.  We chose the earliest dinner seating available, as we knew this was going to be a crazy-busy weekend for dinners out.

The Village Anchor opened at 5 p.m.  We were actually there way ahead of schedule, so we took the opportunity to walk up and down the streets of Anchorage.  If you’ve never been to Anchorage, Kentucky…it’s gorgeous.  Go there and be awed.  It was even more beautiful as a lot of the homes and businesses were lit up and decorated for the holidays.  I love this time of year for that reason.

At 5 p.m. though, we were both starving and ready to get our meal on.  We stepped into the restaurant itself and were immediately greeted by a very friendly hostess.  I gave her my name, which the reservation was under, and she picked up a couple of menus and took us through the dining room, sitting us down at a quiet table not too far from the hearth.  And that fireplace had a nice fire going in it too.  It felt like the perfect winter’s night.

Our server, Alan, came over to introduce himself.  Our water glasses were filled and we were asked if we’d like anything else to drink.  We both decided to stick with water.  He said, “I noticed that we have a vegetarian with a gluten allergy…”  I raised my hand.  “That would be me!”  He gave me a very relaxing smile and said that the chef could do up a great roasted veggie plate for me as an entree.  He mentioned Brussels sprouts, asparagus…yeah…he won me over right there.

What this also indicated to me was that The Village Anchor pays attention to the reservations that are made through Open Table.  I have made reservations before for so many other places, but this was the first time my food allergies were ever addressed right away without me having to bring them up.  I raise a glass and give high kudos to The Village Anchor for this.  As always, I get a bit nervous when I try out somewhere new…but this really put my mind at ease and relaxed me for the rest of the meal.

The Village Anchor's Hummus Trio (top to bottom: Roasted Garlic, Jalapeño-Cilantro, Caramelized Onion-Chipotle) served with fresh veggies for dipping to make it gluten-free
The Village Anchor’s Hummus Trio (top to bottom: Roasted Garlic, Jalapeño-Cilantro, Caramelized Onion-Chipotle) served with fresh veggies for dipping to make it gluten-free

But…we weren’t just here for the entrées.  Like I said…this was our holiday meal.  And after just taking in a very light breakfast, followed by a movie…we were pretty much famished.  So, Cathy already knew she was going to try out a cup of the award-winning Elk Chili ($6.00) as her starter.  We inquired what might be a good option for me.  Alan said he would recommend the risotto, but it has soy sauce in it so it’s not safe for me.  I told him I’d be good with the fresh fruit…but he had other ideas.  He sure did.  And what I ended up getting for my starter was their Hummus Trio ($11.00), which came with fresh sliced vegetables instead of the pita and the grilled crostini.

The Hummus Trio is a plate that contains three different house-made blends of hummus: the roasted garlic, jalapeño-cilantro, and caramelized onion-chipotle.  As I said, my version came with sliced carrots, cucumbers, and red bell peppers.  SO good.  I thought the roasted garlic hummus was really rich.  I love roasted garlic…and blending it into the hummus gave it this nice flavor that went so well with the vegetables.  This one turned out to be Cathy’s favorite.  The jalapeño-cilantro was the next one I sampled.  I actually expected this one to be spicy…but it was actually rather mild.  Even Cathy thought so when she tried it…and we’re talking about a heat wimp here.  The flavors were great and I loved the freshness that came with each dip.  This one went really well on the carrots.  My personal favorite was the caramelized onion-chipotle hummus.  OH MY HUMMUS GODS!  I sampled this one ahead of Cathy and knew she’d be fanning her mouth.  While not super-hot…it did have a kick to it and a slow burn.  The caramelized onion was a brilliant addition, lending a little hint of sweetness to the hummus itself.  Needless to say…this met a very messy death.  If you love hummus, get this.  Just trust me!

It was now time for the entrée round.  As this was a pub, Cathy already knew what she was getting…Fish and Chips ($15.00).  Her meal also came with house-made tartar sauce and coleslaw.  She’s not a coleslaw person normally…but she ate the hell out of that coleslaw.  I might need to see if the kitchen will give me the recipe.  Red cabbage, raisins, and carrots…but it was the vinaigrette-like dressing that made it.  Yes…we asked if it was safe for me to try and after checking with the chef, Alan assured me it was.  It was really good.

The Village Anchor's Chef Creation - Roasted Veggie Plate
The Village Anchor’s Chef Creation – Roasted Veggie Plate

The chef got to play around with my dish and what I got was a vegetable plate masterpiece.  Perfectly seasoned, perfectly roasted, perfectly perfect vegetables.  And what a variety as well.  My Roasted Veggie Plate ($16.00) came complete with roasted potatoes, roasted asparagus, roasted Brussels sprouts, and some sauteed spinach that was cooked with garlic and red onion, topped off with tomatoes.  It was AMAZING!!  I love that the chef included potatoes as well for something more filling.  They were cooked to perfection and seasoned with some fresh herbs.  Carby goodness.  Yum!  The asparagus was really done well.  It still had a bit of crunch to it, without being raw.  I loved the depth of flavor that were drawn from these.  The spinach and the Brussels sprouts were my two favorite things on that plate though.  The spinach was wilted and cooked to absolute perfection.  I loved the hint of garlic, the bite the red onion gave it, and the sweetness of the red tomatoes.  I was in heaven.  And the Brussels sprouts were roasted to perfection.  No burned edges…just flavor and lots of it.  I was beyond impressed with this meal.  Here I was expecting to get stuck, once again, with a salad.  But The Village Anchor totally made my night!!  They definitely went above and beyond for me.

With this being a holiday celebration…we managed to save a little room for dessert.  The special that night, in honor of the holidays, was a Cranberry Crème Brûlée.  Now, more often than not, the crème brûlée is a safe choice for the gluten-free…but I wanted to be certain.  Alan was prepared for this and said that he would check with the chef.  He returned a few moments later with the word – the Cranberry Crème Brûlée was gluten-free…the only other things on their menu that are gluten-free is the ice cream, which is provided by The Comfy Cow.  I get Comfy Cow ice cream a lot…so I decided to give the Cranberry Crème Brûlée ($11.00) a try.  It even came with a cinnamon whipped cream.  It sounded delicious.  Cathy opted for the Granny Smith Apple Crisp, à la mode ($8.00).

When our desserts arrived I was just so happy to be able to enjoy a dessert while eating out at a restaurant.  Thrilled.  And my Cranberry Crème Brûlée looked beyond amazing.  I was ready to dig in…and had to do the thing where I crack the caramelized sugar on top.  It shattered and through the custard, I spotted the red cranberries at the bottom.  One bite…I was in dessert heaven.  SO good.  And that spiced cream that was served with it definitely complimented the holiday flavors and added this little hint of spice and warmth to the dish.  I polished it off…and was definitely full.  But pleasantly so.

Holiday meals are supposed to be relaxing and enjoyable.  The Village Anchor not only had a fantastic, cozy dining area, but the food was amazing.  The staff was more than prepared to work around my food allergies.  And they didn’t act like I was an inconvenience either.  I love that the chef prepared a dish specifically for me…taking care to make it beautiful to look at and delicious to eat.  Both Cathy and I were beyond impressed with The Village Anchor.

You better believe we’ll be coming back for more in the very near future.  My hat is off to the staff, the kitchen, and the owners of this fine restaurant just outside of Louisville, Kentucky.  I was immediately made to feel at ease about my food and knew that I was in good hands.  They didn’t disappoint.  And now…I’m spreading the word as much as I can.  Local places are always worth checking out – but this one is something special.  This one is a keeper!

The Village Anchor's Cranberry Creme Brule
The Village Anchor’s Cranberry Crème Brûlée

 

Product Review: Vegenaise Tartar Sauce

Vegenaise Tartar Sauce
Vegenaise Tartar Sauce

Product: Vegenaise Tartar Sauce – $4.49+

Ah…tartar sauce.

I have a love-hate relationship with this condiment.

For one thing, when I used to eat fish, I normally would drown it in ketchup.  Mmmm…ketchup.

But every now and again, I’d give the tartar sauce a try.  And I never really liked it.  Sometimes…I was pleasantly surprised and then lulled into this sense of false hope…and I would try it somewhere else and it would be gross and just…not to my taste.

Then, when I had to go dairy-free…I totally ditched this sauce all together.

But, when I was reviewing some items from Sophie’s Kitchen (vegan sea food, FTW!), my friend Kari mentioned the crab cakes with the tartar sauce from Vegenaise.  Vegan. Tartar. Sauce.

Okay…I was intrigued.  I knew two local grocery stores carried the vegan crab cakes from Sophie’s Kitchen…and I knew Whole Foods had the Tartar Sauce from Vegenaise.  So…I set out a spot in the budget to purchase and then consume both.

My roomie was on board and so…we hit up Whole Foods and purchased both items.  Dinner was going to be interesting.  I just prayed it all was good.

So…a little while ago, I pulled the vegan crab cakes out of the freezer and said that dinner would be those…with a healthy helping of homemade kale chips.  And I would serve the cakes over bibb lettuce from my bin.  Originally I was going to place them between gluten-free buns…but I was out of those.  So…this was my compromise.  I heated the crab cakes as instructed on the box, and while that was working, I got the vegetables working and finally…the sauce.

My roommate has the same sort of love-hate relationship with tartar sauce as well.  She is not gluten-free nor vegetarian, but since I am the cook in the apartment, that’s what she eats.  She is a huge aficionado for fish and chips when we go out to eat, however…and she has made a habit to at least try the house tartar sauce.  Sometimes she raves…sometimes she picks up the ketchup and goes to town.  But we thought we would give Vegenaise a fair shake.  So, into a little dish, I spooned out a serving of the Vegenaise Tartar Sauce.  The crab cakes finished, I plated everything…and it was time to dig in.

I was a little worried about flavor, but I trusted my friend Kari.  She raved.  She and I like a lot of the same flavors and foods…so…I was worried, but I had high hopes.  I know now to always trust Kari…because the Vegenaise Tartar Sauce was some of the best sauce I have tasted in my life.  Not just tartar sauce either…spanning ALL THE SAUCES! Filled with a tangy, delicious flavor, it was the perfect compliment to the vegan crab cakes and the greens I served them on.  OMG…so freakin’ good!  It was love at first taste and I took the opportunity to pile it onto my vegan crab cakes until it was gone.  Now I keep thinking of other vegan sea food dishes where I could utilize this sauce.  It is SO good.

Veganaise Tartar Sauce is made from a base of Vegenaise (vegan mayonnaise), sweet relish, yellow onion puree, white wine vinegar, vegan Worcestershire sauce, black pepper, and xanthan gum.  Not bad when it comes to ingredients, right?  My thoughts exactly.  And nothing is weird…it’s all ingredients I have heard of and trust.  Vegenaise is also vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free, non-GMO, and soy-free.  Loving it!

Nutritionally speaking, on serving is 2 tablespoons.  This serving will serve you up a side of 120 calories and 13 grams of fat.  It seems high, but it is a vegan mayonnaise-based sauce, right?  And regular mayonnaise would be the same way.  So, it’s really not too bad for what it is.  This small serving also gives you 125 mg sodium and 2 grams of sugar.  That’s awesome.  This is also trans-fat free and cholesterol free.  In addition, this sauce has no fiber in it, but you do get 2 grams of protein.  So, yeah…it’s not totally healthy, but it isn’t bad for you either.

And did I mention how freakin’ good it is?  Seriously.  In love with a sauce.  It’s my new favorite.  YUMMY!!

A serving of Vegenaise Tartar Sauce
A serving of Vegenaise Tartar Sauce

Product Review: Sophie’s Kitchen Vegan Crab Cakes

Sophie's Kitchen Vegan Crab Cakes
Sophie’s Kitchen Vegan Crab Cakes

Product: Sophie’s Kitchen Vegan Crab Cakes – $5.99+

I’m probably not the best judge when it comes to comparing sea food products with vegan interpretations of them.  Honestly.  Now, growing up and before I became a vegetarian, I ate seafood.  Mostly shrimp.  Mostly fried, popcorn, scampi or creole.  I was not a huge fan of other fish…but I would eat them.  And, to say the least, I made a delicious lemon-crusted oven baked tilapia back in the day.

For real.

But…never, ever did I eat a crab cake before I became a vegetarian and then had to go gluten-free.  So, judging these by comparison isn’t going to happen.

Here’s what I can do though.  I can go off of flavor, texture, and overall taste.  And that was how I approached this product.

The product of which I speak is the Gluten-Free and Vegan Crab Cakes from Sophie’s Kitchen.  Now, I’m no stranger to Sophie’s Kitchen, having already tried the Gluten-Free and Vegan Fish Filets, Gluten-Free and Vegan Scallops, and the Gluten-Free and Vegan Breaded Shrimp.  While I was blown away by the shrimp, I felt the scallops were good, and the fish filets were…eh…okay.

So…crab cakes.  A new challenge for the allergic/intolerant foodie in me.

Sophie's Kitchen Vegan Crab Cakes (frozen)
Sophie’s Kitchen Vegan Crab Cakes (frozen)

What I love about Sophie’s Kitchen products is how easy they are to make.  The crab cakes could either be baked in the oven, or fried in a skillet on the stove.  I’m a health-nut, so I try not to fry things often.  I chose to bake them in the oven, which takes about 15 minutes to do.  Not too bad at all.  They don’t get golden cooking this way, the way the image looks on the box, but I didn’t mind the pale look to them.  Remember…never had a crab cake back when I even could.  I kept it simple when serving these.  I had thought about doing a crab cake sandwich, but didn’t thaw out my gluten-free buns from my local allergen-free bakery.  So, instead, I made some homemade kale chips and served the crab cakes over fresh bibb lettuce from my CSA bin.  I served a side of Veganaise Tartar Sauce with each cake and…dinner was served in less than 20 minutes.  Love that.

But how did it taste?

This is one of my favorite products from Sophie’s Kitchen that I have had the opportunity to try.  OH. MY. GLUTEN. FREE. VEGAN. GOD.  Seriously…packed with awesome flavor.  The texture was great…like lump crab…so that was kinda cool  And the blend of ingredients that Sophie’s Kitchen uses to give their faux seafood that fishy flavor worked SO well with these.  They are a close second in my favorite gluten-free and vegan things.  The first is the breaded shrimp from Sophie’s Kitchen.  These are fantastic.  They don’t taste fake of bad at all.  I loved every bite.  Thankfully, my roommate and I made a big dinner out of these…each of us having 2 of the crab cakes instead of the serving size of just one.

Speaking of which…it’s that time in the blog where I bring up the ingredients and nutrition for the products I try.  Let’s start with the ingredients.  Sophie’s Kitchen Vegan (and Gluten-Free) Crab Cakes are made up of water, pea protein, potato starch, canola oil, seaweed powder, rice flakes (from brown rice), konjac powder, rice vinegar (from brown rice), organic agave nectar, sea salt, celery powder, black pepper, bay leaf, nutmeg, ginger, paprika, dry mustard, cloves, calcium hydroxide.  So close to being clean eating…but that calcium hydroxide there at the end sort of killed that.

That being said…it is still a rather healthy choice and one I’d love to buy and indulge in again.  In fact, Sophie’s Kitchen Vegan Crab Cakes are soy-free, gluten-free, 100% vegan and plant based, contain no preservatives, colors or MSG, and have no artificial anything!!  Nice.

Speaking of indulging…a serving size of Sophie’s Kitchen Vegan Crab Cakes is 1 cake.  This serving will provide you with 120 calories and 6 grams of fat.  That’s not bad for a crab cake!!  The Vegan Crab Cakes contain only 170 mg sodium and less than 1 gram of sugar.  Gotta love that!  And, one crab cake also provides you with 2 grams of fiber and 3 grams of protein.  Not too shabby.

I am falling more and more in love with the products that Sophie’s Kitchen is bringing to the gluten-free and vegan world.  And I love that someone, like me, with food allergies, can safely indulge in a product that is vegan as well.  So often this is not the case, so it’s so nice when a company goes the extra mile.  And that’s why I continue to purchase and eat products by Sophie’s Kitchen.

And now…I must hit up my Whole Foods for more of these amazing crab cakes.  It’s happening!

Sophie's Kitchen Vegan Crab Cakes (baked), served over local bibb lettuce with homemade kale chips
Sophie’s Kitchen Vegan Crab Cakes (baked), served over local bibb lettuce with homemade kale chips