Product Review: Choice Batter Gluten-Free Allergen-Friendly Lemon Poppyseed Muffin Mix

Choice Batter Gluten-Free Allergen-Friendly Lemon Poppyseed Muffin Mix
Choice Batter Gluten-Free Allergen-Friendly Lemon Poppyseed Muffin Mix

Product: Choice Batter Gluten-Free Allergen-Free Lemon Poppyseed Muffin Mix – $5.99+

I am going to be the first to admit that I get really, really, REALLY excited when I spot a product that sounds like something I would eat, or would have eaten before Celiac struck, and usually, despite trying to clean up the diet a little more, purchase it and stuff it into my pantry and fridge for use at a future date.  I mean, you just never know when some sort of celebration is needed.  Always be prepared.

Well, I was happily prepared a few weeks ago when my parents, after not visiting me for 5 years, came up to the area for the weekend.  We had big plans, to drive up to Indianapolis and check out the Gluten Free Food Allergy Expo and then tour Indy before stopping by Cheeseburger in Paradise (Gluten Free Veggie Burger & FRIES).  The expo was in-freakin-credible.  Seriously.  So many good vendors, freebies, and samples.  It was totally amazing.  In fact, my parents vowed to come back next year and make it an annual event.  SO glad.

The following morning, I had every intention of introducing them to my favorite Louisville food truck, Sweet ‘N’ Savory, as it was the truck’s last outing at the American Cancer Society Making Strides Against Cancer event.  After that event and one final one that evening (which we almost went to, but were too late), they were packing up for the winter and heading back to Louisiana until next April.  However, my parents needed to hit the road before the event actually started, so no gluten-free crepes for them.  Bummer.  I was really looking forward to introducing them to Ashley and Richard, the food truck owners, and people I consider good friends!

With the plans I had come up with for breakfast now scratched, it was time for a backup.  That would be…I would cook something for them and Cathy and I would hit up Sweet ‘N’ Savory for gluten free crepes when the event started.  So, as my dad is not a big breakfast eater (and I am!), I asked him what sounded good.  I had the gluten free harvest muffins that I baked previously in my freezer that I could thaw and warm up.  I have SO MANY gluten-free pancake mixes, it’s ridiculous (but, I LOVE pancakes and waffles!).  I had cold cereal, hot cereal, I could cook up eggs, make my famous breakfast hash, or…I had a muffin mix.

He said, “Muffins are fine.”  And was not prepared for the, “Harvest Muffins or Lemon Poppyseed Muffins?”  He decided that if he was driving home and was pulled over, he might as well fail the drug test…Lemon Poppyseed it was.

That morning, after my mom and I took a long, brisk walk together, I returned to the apartment and set out to bake them breakfast.  I had found at my local Meijer store, a new brand I had never seen before when it came to some items.

Tucked into their gluten free section were these yellow and blue boxes with the name Choice Batter on them.  Que the moment when I see a new product, get super excited, buy it regardless of it not being on my grocery list, and then bring it home and shove it into the pantry.  I do this every freakin’ time.  My pantry has a shelf dedicated to cake, muffin, brownie, cookie, all the sweets mixes!  I know I’m big on dessert, but I do get carried away at times.

Regardless, this was the box I pulled out that Sunday morning and set out to bake up some muffins so my parents could hit the road with some breakfast in their tummies.  Usually gluten free mixes require a lot of stuff to be added to them, but Choice Batter prides itself on being not just gluten-free, but allergen-friendly.  This means that they are completely free of the Top 8 food allergies (egg, dairy, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, wheat, and soy).  LOVE that.  But, with that in mind, you also have to live up to the flavor and texture test…and that, with gluten-free and allergen-free, is the ultimate test.  I hate baking up something only to have it be heavy, dense, and tasting of cardboard or some other unappetizing packing material (not that I’ve had packing material, but sometimes, I think that some products must taste like it).

So, I pulled out my large muffin tin and mixed up the Choice Batter Gluten-Free Allergen-Friendly Lemon Poppyseed Muffin Mix, per my dad’s request.  This was SO easy!!  All I needed was a mixing bowl.  Into this bowl went the baking mix from the box, 1 cup of water, and 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil.  That’s it.  Preheat the oven to 400°F, stir together the mix, then divide among muffin cups.  Bake for 16 minutes until done. Let cool for 1 minute.  Then I turned them on their side in the muffin tin (a trick I learned from Annie May (of Annie May’s Sweet Cafe in Louisville), and let them cool slightly more.  By this time, my dad had emerged from the bedroom and I poured him some decaf coffee and invited him to the big plate of muffins (I baked 10 muffins total).  He took one to start with and settled in to eat.  My mom did the same.  As Cathy and I had breakfast plans, I cut one muffin in half and we shared it…because I had to taste these fresh from the oven, of course.

Let’s start here by saying, I loved that these muffins didn’t require milk, butter or eggs. Let’s hear it for vegan baking!  WOOHOO!!  Second of all, I loved how well these baked up.  So often, especially in gluten-free baking, baking times have to be adjusted.  Not these muffins. The Choice Batter Gluten-Free Allergen-Friendly Lemon Poppyseed Muffin Mix baked up perfectly the first time.  Not surprising, with all the science that goes into all of Choice Batter’s mixes.  These mixes are created with a special blend of rice flours developed by the USDA – Agricultural Research Service scientists to minimize the amount of oil that is absorbed into the batter while still creating a delicious and perfect result.  SCIENCE.  I love it.  And, it actually works.  The muffins were soft, moist, and delicious.  One bite and I got a small tinge of lemon flavor, but all the spongy and with that thin golden crust and that slight rise at the dome.  Ah…that’s muffin perfection!  And that is, quite honestly, what emerged from the oven.  Happiness is a gluten free mix that delivers what I expect from a product.

The heft and texture of these muffins were great.  Not too dense and heavy, but not airy and light either.  The perfect muffin.  I loved when I sliced it in half, the little pockets that were visible in the cake, but without being too big or too much.  They weren’t sticky or heavy or dense.  In fact, it was everything I expect from a muffin.  These went above and beyond most muffins that I have cooked up from a mix.  I was impressed.  In fact, if I had only one complaint, it would simply be that there wasn’t enough of a lemon flavor to these.  The lemon was there…but not enough for my liking.  But, then again, I like my lemon eats to be…LEMON.  Give me bold or don’t bother, right?  Regardless, I thought this was a phenomenal mix and was impressed with the way these turned out.  My parents took some of the leftovers home with them.  I count that as a win.

So, let’s talk about ingredients in the Choice Batter Gluten-Free Allergen-Friendly Lemon Poppyseed Muffin Mix!  This mix is made of a combination of rice flour, sugar, potato starch, baking powder (sodium pyrophosphate, sodium bicarbonate, cornstarch, monocalcium phosphate), contains less than 2% of the following: poppyseeds, citric acid, cellulose, xantan gum, lemon oil, lemon juice, salt.  This muffin mix, as well as all of Choice Batter’s products are free from the top 8 allergens, including egg, dairy, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, wheat and soy.  These muffins are gluten-free and vegan, free of MSG, cholesterol and artificial colors, flavors and preservatives.

As for nutritional information, the Choice Batter Gluten-Free Allergen-Friendly Lemon Poppyseed Muffin Mix does really well for all you calorie and fat watchers.  Truly.  A serving is 1/14 of the mix, and the mix makes…14 servings.  One serving, when prepared per box directions, will give you 140 calories 2.5 grams fat, 0 grams saturated fat, 0 grans trans fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 110 mg sodium, 30 grams carbohydrates, 1 gram fiber, 13 grams sugars, and 1 gram protein.

Now that I know about Choice Batter and the good results I had from the preparation of the Gluten-Free Allergen-Friendly Lemon Poppyseed Muffin Mix, I can’t wait to try more offerings from their product lineup.  And with a company founded on a desire to develop healthy, great tasting, gluten-free and allergen-friendly so everyone can enjoy food together…their promise to deliver a taste you can love in a brand you can trust is right on the mark!

Choice Batter was founded with a desire to develop healthy, great tasting, gluten-free and allergen-friendly products the entire family can enjoy. Our promises is to deliver “A Taste You Will Love, a Brand You can Trust.”

Product Review: Tina’s Sweet Treats Banana Bread Granola

Tina's Sweet Treats Banana Bread Granola
Tina’s Sweet Treats Banana Bread Granola

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

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

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

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

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

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

Banana Bread Granola.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Product Review: Zema’s Madhouse Foods Gluten Free & Sugar Free Peruvian Sweet Potato Pancake & Waffle Mix + Recipe Bonus

Harvest Muffins made with Zema's Madhouse Foods Gluten Free & Sugar Free Peruvian Sweet Potato Pancake & Waffle Mix
Harvest Muffins made with Zema’s Madhouse Foods Gluten Free & Sugar Free Peruvian Sweet Potato Pancake & Waffle Mix

Review: Zema’s Madhouse Foods Gluten Free & Sugar Free Peruvian Sweet Potato Pancake & Waffle Mix – $7.99+

It seems like ages ago, back on a trip to Birmingham, Alabama, when my parents first took me to Organic Harvest, the latest and newest health food store in their area.  I was gobsmacked by the amount of products inside this store that I had never seen before.  I might have heard of the brand, but the product itself or even the brand, was not available to me in any convenient form.

So, naturally, I went on a shopping spree.

Because…I do that.

Well, I get very overburdened with mixes.  I do this to myself, naturally.  I just get really, really excited when I see something new.  Or course, as of late, I’ve been making a point of eating more unprocessed foods for breakfast than something that comes out of a box (cereal included) or from a mix.  So, yeah, the pantry is well stocked with so many mixes that I honestly just need to work through.  And as this one was (obviously as the packaging has been since updated) nearing expiration…it was time to use it up and move it out.  So, out came the Zema’s Madhouse Foods Gluten Free & Sugar Free Peruvian Sweet Potato Pancake & Waffle Mix.

Zemas Madhouse Foods is committed to manufacturing gluten-free, ancient grain baking mixes that help support a clean eating lifestyle through the use of minimally processed ingredients that can be safely incorporated into diets that are limited, allergy-free and diabetic.  They are committed to keeping their products free of dairy, soy, rice, yeast, tree nuts, peanuts, sulfites, additives, trans fats, preservatives, and refined sugar.

Now, I had high hopes for this mix.  I was first introduced to Zema’s Madhouse Foods by Cuisine Cube when I tried their mix for Focaccia and/or Pizza Crusts.  I loved it.  So, the fact that I had another Zema’s Product (yes…I had this one before Cuisine Cube sent theirs), I had very good expectations for this.  But…why stick to something as simple as the box exclaims.  After all, this is a pancake and waffle mix, and there are recipes for both on the back.  But I am really pancaked out these days and waffles are great…but a pain to make (time consuming, really).  So…I opted for the other recipe on the box, making a few minor adjustments to fit what I had in my pantry and my own idea of what constites a Harvest Muffin.

Oh, yeah…I made muffins with the Zema’s Madhouse Foods Gluten Free & Sugar Free Peruvian Sweet Potato Pancake & Waffle Mix.  Yes.  Muffins.  I sort of ripped off Udi’s version of a Harvest Muffin, but utilized most of the recipe from the back of this exact box.  YAY!  The recipe will follow, of course.

Naturally, I can’t bake something and not try it.  How else am I going to report on it?  So, after these came out of the oven and rested for 10 minutes in the pan, I removed them and put them on a wire rack to cool the rest of the way.  After running some gluten-free and dairy free goodies downstairs to my neighbors, I came back upstairs and decided that both my roomie and I had an obligation to see how the muffins turned out.  If they were crap, well, we certainly didn’t have to keep them.  But…if they were good, they were getting bagged up and put in the freezer for those stressful and hectic days where cooking a breakfast is just not feasible.

Let me tell you…Zema’s Madhouse Foods Gluten Free & Sugar Free Peruvian Sweet Potato Pancake & Waffle Mix is amazing.  Seriously.  Okay…so the muffins are a little dense…but I’ve grown to that being mostly the norm when it comes to gluten-free goodies (especially of a bread-like quality) that I bake.  However, there is a lot of flavor in each and every bite of these muffins.  And I absolutely love the combination of the sweet potato and pumpkin flavors, making this a perfect autumn mix for any sort of morning recipe…even pancakes and waffles.  Just…really good.  And not overly sweet either, which is a nice change.  I love dessert as much as any girl, but I mostly want my muffins to be muffins, not a fruit/veggie based cupcake.  But, maybe that’s just me.  The fact that there is no added sugar in the mix is a big plus with me, as I am working on cutting down on the amount of sugar I eat every day.  I also love that this mix is made with the superseed trio of hemp, chia and flaxmeal.  Flax is one of the best gluten-free plant-based sources, which contains alpha-linolenic acid, which converts in the body to the same heart-protective Omega-3 fatty acids found in salmon, sardines and mackerel.  It also contains 3 grams of fiber per tablespoon, which promotes intestinal health.  The chia seeds (like chia pets, yes!) are also naturally gluten-free and contain Omega-3 fatty acids, soluble fiber, calcium and protein.  LOVE a breakfast that packs a bit of extra nutrition into each and every bite through healthy and beneficial ingredients.  This might be a mix, but it has great ingredients making it a better choice than all the lack-luster and nutrient-sparse mixes on the shelf.  Oh yeah…have your breakfast treat and treat your body too.  Now we’re talking.

Let’s discuss the ingredients that go into Zema’s Madhouse Foods Gluten Free & Sugar Free Peruvian Sweet Potato Pancake & Waffle Mix, shall we?  This mix is made from sorghum flour, organic flax seed meal, sweet potato flour, potato starch, organic quinoa flakes, tapioca flour, aluminum free baking powder (monocalcium phosphate, baking soda, corn starch (made from non-GMO corn)), hemp seeds, organic cinnamon, contains less than 2% of each of the following: baking soda, chia seeds, xanthan gum, sea salt, organic ginger, and nutmeg.  This product is manufactured in a dedicated gluten-free facility free of the top 8 allergens(milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, soy, wheat, fish, shellfish).  It is vegan, gluten-free, kosher, and verified non-GMO.

As for nutrition information, here you go…a serving of Zema’s Madhouse Foods Gluten Free & Sugar Free Peruvian Sweet Potato Pancake & Waffle Mix is 1/3 cup of the dry mix (44 grams), and the box contains around 6 servings.  In each serving, you will be taking in 150 calories, 4 grams fat, 0 grams saturated fat, 0 grams trans fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 510 mg sodium, 29 grams carbohydrates, 5 grams fiber, 2 grams sugars, and 4 grams of proteins.  This one might actually be the best nutrient-packed mix out on the market to be honest.  WOW!

And now…the promised recipe!

Recipe: Gluten Free Harvest Muffins

Servings: 18
Time: Prep 10 minutes; Bake 28-30 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 box Zema’s Madhouse Foods Gluten Free & Sugar Free Peruvian Pancake & Waffle Mix
  • 1/4 teaspoon xanthan gum
  • 3/4 cup milk of choice (I used unsweetened cashew milk)
  • 2 eggs (or egg replacer)
  • 1/2 cup pure maple syrup (I used agave)
  • 1/3 cup oil of choice (I used coconut)
  • 1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin puree
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup raw pepitas
  • 1/2 cup craisins

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350°F and spray a muffin tin with non-stick spray.

In a medium mixing bowl, combine the mix and xanthan gum.  Set aside.

n a large bowl, whisk all liquid ingredients together.  Add the dry mix to the wet mixture and combine,  Add in the pepitas and craisins, mixing well.

Fill muffin cups 3/4 of the way.

Bake for 28-30 minutes.  Check the doneness with a toothpick.

Cool for 10 minutes in the pan, then take muffins out and cool on a rack.

This recipe freezes well.

~*~*~
I have the remaining 17 muffins in my freezer now for hectic crazy days…but I already am looking forward into diving into them.  I’m sure it won’t be long.

If you are interested in a pancake mix with more benefits than sugar and fillers, I can’t praise Zema’s Madhouse Foods enough.  Their Gluten Free and Sugar Free Peruvian Sweet Potato Pancake & Waffle Mix surpassed all expectations.  And I didn’t even make pancakes or waffles with them.  Go figure.  Although, I am more than certain this mix would make some of the best pancakes or waffles out there.  Next time I pick up another box of this mix…I think I’ll go for traditional pancakes and waffles.  That being said…give this muffin recipe a shot!  And seek out Zema’s Madhouse Foods in your natural food stores…or order online!  It’s worth the hunt.

Product Review: Glutino Gluten Free Corn Bread Stuffing + Recipe Bonus

Glutino Gluten Free Corn Bread Stuffing

Product: Glutino Gluten Free Corn Bread Stuffing – $5.99+

Who says stuffing is just for Thanksgiving?  Where is that written?  Growing up, I was one of the only people in my family who wanted to have stuffing.  My dad wasn’t a fan, so my mom never made it.  Everything I needed to know about stuffing, I tasted at my friend’s homes.  It was a rare occasion that my mom would make it…and as we never had turkey on Thanksgiving, but enjoyed a delicious shrimp creole instead…well…this was more of a Christmas thing.

When I went gluten-free…stuffing was off the menu regardless…unless I made it myself.  In fact, one of the first gluten-free recipes I posted was a Gluten Free Hazelnut Sage Stuffing, which I made with Rudi’s Gluten Free Bread.  That was back in 2011…and I’ve made that recipe quite a few times since then.  It’s delicious and easy and amazing.

But sometimes, you just don’t want to do all the work yourself.  These days, my free time is less and less.  I’m recovering from a torn hip labrum, getting back to running, doing all my stretches for physical therapy and trying to maintain only a slight bit of pain when I move, and everything else like work, preparing meals/snacks for work, and maintaining my training/workout schedule.  It just isn’t always feasible to pull out a recipe and whip something up.

Well, two weeks ago, I was in Columbus, Ohio, visiting my friend Jenn.  And as I was packing up to head home, she handed me a box of Glutino’s Gluten Free Corn Bread Stuffing.  As it was due to expire within the month, I decided I would make this for lunches this week for both the roomie and myself.  And, that Sunday evening, I did just that…

I had everything else needed to make the recipe that was supplied on the box in my fridge, ironically enough.  I guess I just know what’s good to have on hand, HAHA!  Actually, it was just luck that I didn’t have to pick up anything else to make this.  All I needed was butter (I used Earth Balance), eggs, vegetable broth, celery, and onion.  That was it.  I followed the instructions on the box, pulling open the silver package that contained the corn bread stuffing portion of the product, loving the little, crispy, yellow corn bread croutons that spilled out and into the bowl with the rest of the ingredients.  Giving it a good stir, it was prepared and ready to cook.

This stuffing smells amazing as it cooks.  I think I was drooling a little every time I walked by the oven.  I mean, SO good.  And when it was finally done, I pulled the dish from the oven, loving how golden the top had become during the cooking process.  I dished it out into 6 Pyrex dishes, tasting a little at the end…and…oh yeah…this was going to be good.

I was wrong, though.  This stuffing wasn’t good.  It was FANTASTIC!!!  Seriously, it was love at first taste.  And I was really, really anticipating lunch for the three days that my roomie and I had this in our refrigerator.  Seriously…I was sad when we devoured the last servings of it.  The cornbread croutons soak in all that amazing flavor from the eggs, sauteed veggies, and the vegetable broth.  It doesn’t get mushy though.  Not at all.  As it bakes, all that flavor bakes inside, making this rich, savory, and addictive stuffing that it’s hard to stop eating.  And that top layer gets this nice golden brown, which brings that bit of crunchy texture when you dig into it.  My mouth waters just thinking about it again.  In fact, I want to see if any of my natural food stores have this on hand.  I’m sort of concerned it’s a seasonal product…but I have every intention of stocking up!

So, let’s take a look at what all goes into a box of the Glutino Gluten Free Corn Bread Stuffing, shall we?  This product is made up of corn starch, tapioca starch, vegetable oil (contains one or more of the following: sunflower oil, canola oil, safflower oil), seasoning (salt, yeast extract, sugar, maltodextrin, dextrose, spices, onion powder, garlic powder, dehydrated parsley, expeller pressed canola oil, spice extractive, silicon dioxide), sugar, egg whites, salt, guar gum, glucono-delta-lactone, yeast, pectin, sodium bicarbonate, sodium alginate, modified cellulose, iron, niacin, tricalcium phosphate, pyridoxine hydrochloride, thiamine mononitrate, and riboflavin.

The Glutino Gluten Free Corn Bread Stuffing mix isn’t a nutritional bomb either.  So, it’s not clean eating for sure…but the nutritional facts aren’t so bad.  A serving size of this product is 1/2 cup prepared and there are 8 servings per box.  This serving will provide you with 120 calories, 4.5 grams fat, 0 grams saturated fat, 0 grams trans fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 470 mg cholesterol, 20 grams carbohydrates, less than 1 gram fiber, 1 gram sugars, and less than 1 gram protein.  The lack of fiber and protein would make you believe that it wouldn’t fill you up if eating it as a meal instead of a side, but that wasn’t the case at all for me.  I found it filling and amazing.

So…if you want to make this too, here is the recipe I used, which is straight off the back of the box itself:

Recipe: Glutino Gluten Free Corn Bread Stuffing

Servings: 6
Time: Prep 10 minutes; Cook 35 minutes

Ingredients:

 

  • 2 Tbsp of unsalted butter (I used Earth Balance)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1-1/2 cups of vegetable broth
  • 1 cup diced onion
  • 1 cup diced celery
  • l box Glutino Gluten Free Corn Bread Stuffing

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350° F.

Lightly grease one 8×8 baking pan.

In a heated skillet add the 2 Tbsp of unsalted butter and sautée onions and celery until translucent. Let the vegetables cool.

In a mixing bowl empty package of stuffing mix.  Add cooled sautéed onions and celery, eggs, and vegetable broth. Let stand one minute.

Stir until all the liquid has been absorbed.

Place in greased baking pan and pack down.

Cover with foil, bake for approximately 25 minutes. Uncover and finish cooking for an additional 8 minutes or until it reaches an internal temperature of 165° F.

~*~*~

This was one of the first corn bread stuffings I have had.  And it brought back all those happy memories of the Stove Top Stuffing days of my childhood.  I was beyond impressed.  So, if you’re a glutton for stuffing, I highly recommend picking up a box of Glutino’s Gluten Free Corn Bread Stuffing.  Even your gluten-eating friends would never guess this was gluten-free.  It is that delicious!!  ENJOY!


Product Review: Sticky Fingers Bakeries Gluten Free Meyer Lemon Scones

Sticky Fingers Bakeries Gluten Free Meyer Lemon Scones
Sticky Fingers Bakeries Gluten Free Meyer Lemon Scones

Product Review: Sticky Fingers Bakeries Gluten Free Meyer Lemon Scones – $6.25+

I have been a fan of scones ever since I bit into my first one while visiting Europe in 2003.  Scones, after that, became this legendary thing, and something I was determined to enjoy every time I went overseas.  At that point I was either living in Birmingham, Alabama or in Louisville, Kentucky…which are not exactly a hotspot for scone making and feasting.  Not to say some bakeries didn’t turn them out.  As I was going through the initial stages of my Celiac diagnosis, before we really pinpointed it, I was enjoying a homemade, amazing scone from a local coffee shop, which was produced by a local bakery…which I often bought out of their scones and froze at home for later enjoyment.

Then…the gluten-free diet kicked in…immediately…for my health.

So, after a hiatus from my scone indulgences, I just couldn’t take it anymore.  I had to have them back in my life.  So, I got into my kitchen and using what gluten-free flour I had on hand (mostly Pamela’s Products pancake mix) at that point, I began making my own versions and variety of flavors for gluten-free scones.  And while they weren’t as good as the ones I had overseas or the ones the bakery made, they were pretty damn good in their own right.

It has been awhile since I’ve made scones.  A very long while.  But while I was out shopping one day, I ran across a box that was labeled “GLUTEN FREE” and had the word “SCONES” on it.  Okay…you have my undivided attention!!  The company was Sticky Fingers Bakeries, and they had a line out of gluten-free scone mixes in a variety of flavors: Apple Oat, Wild Blueberry, Meyer Lemon, Original, Chocolate Chip, and Pumpkin Cranberry.

My roommate, knowing me elation said we could purchase one to make…and then grabbed the Sticky Fingers Bakeries Gluten Free Meyer Lemon Scones mix.  HA!  Should have known.  If it is lemon, she wants to have it.  So…it came home with us and went into the pantry.  Months later, I finally decided it was time to stop putting it off and start baking.

This past Monday night, I did just that, deciding that the scones could be the breakfast we eat post-gym while settling in at work.  In fact, I had made my own blueberry jam not too long ago, which would pair nicely with the lemon pastry, if all went well.

Sticky Fingers Bakeries began with a scone…and a dream.  Seriously!  It was founded in 1987 by fraternity brothers Tom Owens and Ted Vogelman in San Diego, California.  It initially began as a thriving retail bakery.  The scones, in particular, were selling out every day.  When recipe request kept flooding in, they knew they were on to something.  Owens and Vogelman got to work on a scone mix that their patrons could purchase and recreate the bakery’s most popular item at home…just by adding water.  The mix was a hit…so they kept going…and the company kept growing.  Today, their products include their popular scone mixes as well as muffin mixes, an Irish soda bread mix, three brownie mixes, a line of premium fruit spreads (including curds, jams jellies and fruit butters), and now…GLUTEN FREE SCONES!

Sticky Fingers Bakeries prides itself on the quality of their ingredients.  None of their mixes contain artificial flavors, colors, preservatives, trans-fats, or saturated fats.

Sticky Fingers Bakeries carries their commitment to quality over to their gluten-free scone mixes as well.  They are made with high quality ingredients that give them the same delicate, crumbly texture with just a touch of sweetness.  Even better, this line of their products is produced in a certified gluten-free manufacturing facility.

Baking these are so easy, you will think someone at a bakery did it for you.  Simply get out a baking sheet and line it with parchment paper.  Then, pull the box containing the Sticky Fingers Bakeries Gluten Free Meyer Lemon Scone Mix out of your pantry and open it up.  Pour the mix into a large mixing bowl and add to it 3/4 cup + 3 tablespoons water and 3 tablespoons of vegetable oil.  Mix everything together with a fork until a sticky dough forms.  Then, drop heaping spoonfuls of the batter onto the baking sheet and allow to bake for 13-15 minutes, or until firm and light golden brown.  The mix makes 10 scones, but I managed to get 12 out of it.  HA!  The box says these are great warm, on their own, or with butter, honey, jams of curds.

I highly recommend jam.  Preferably a homemade blueberry.  Blueberry + lemon = AMAZING!

Want to know what else is amazing?  These scones, that’s what!  The Sticky Fingers Bakeries Gluten Free Meyer Lemon Scones bake up all light and pillow-y on the inside and get this beautiful golden crust on the outside.  The scone is packed full of lemon flavor, without it overpowering the baked good itself.  I mean, it strikes the perfect balance of flakiness and yumminess and it is sheer perfection.  I am so in love with these.  I need to try to remember where I bought this box from so I can try to find more.  That is how impressed I am with these.  I only have 2 left for breakfast after the gym…so now I have to come up with some yummy treat to heat up at the office for a quick breakfast as I settle into work.  These were ideal and perfect.  But…all good things must be devoured.

Let’s discuss the ingredients that go into Sticky Fingers Bakeries Gluten Free Meyer Lemon Scones!  These scones are made from white rice flour, sugar, potato starch, buttermilk powder, tapioca starch, leavening (sodium acid pyrophosphate, sodium bicarbonate, corn starch, monocalcium phosphate), lemon bits (sugar, rice syrup, corn cereal, corn starch, palm oil, natural flavor, tumeric concentrate), natural meyer lemon flavors, canola oil (ascorbic acid & rosemary added to preserve freshness), sea salt, baking soda, xanthan gum, and natural vanilla powder. As mentioned before, these scones are certified gluten-free, contain no artificial colors or flavors, contain no preservatives, contain no trans-fats or saturated fats, are certified kosher…oh…and are amazingly scrumptious!

As for the nutritional information, a box of the Sticky Fingers Bakeries Gluten Free Meyer Lemon Scones makes 10 (but I got 12) scones.  The mix itself will give you 180 calories, 5 grams fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 290 mg sodium, 30 grams carbohydrates, 1 gram fiber, 9 grams sugars, and 2 grams of protein.  Do not expect these to be filling, unless you eat two of them…which I do.  I also slather mine with a delicious and liberal amount of my own homemade blueberry jam.  Hence, the recommendation above.

The Sticky Fingers Bakeries guys sure do have scones down to pefection.  And they make it easy for you to make them yourself in the comfort of your own home.  Easy to mix, easy to bake, and SO easy to consume.  It will be hard not to eat them all at once.  They are worth spreading out over a few days…trust me.  Phenomenal flavor.  Perfect scones.  So much love.

 

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: Neat – A Healthy Replacement For Meat Italian Mix

Neat - A Healthy Replacement for Meat Italian Mix
Neat – A Healthy Replacement for Meat Italian Mix

 Product: Neat – A Healthy Replacement for Meat Italian Mix – $4.99+

I am so glad that Neat exists in the world.  I really, really am.  Because, it is sometimes hard to find a good protein base when you are not only a vegetarian (or perhaps a vegan), but also gluten-free.  Trust me…the struggle is real…FOR REAL!!  Most of the vegetarian/vegan faux-meat products out on the market have some sort of vital wheat gluten or glutenous substance inside (for texture purposes, I’ve been told).  I don’t need faux-meat in my life, but sometimes it’s nice to step away from the mushrooms and whatever else I get creative with and use something that is already prepared.

And that…brings me to Neat – A Healthy Replacement for Meat.  Ever since I became a subscriber to Delight Gluten Free magazine I noticed ads for this vegan meat replacement called Neat.  I was beyond intrigued and immediately went on the hunt in my local natural food stores.  Sadly, but not surprisingly, no one in my area carried this product.  At least not yet.  I said I’d get online and see if I could order it, but, naturally, I forgot to do that.  Story of my life.  But after a pouch of the Mexican Mix turned up on my Cuisine Cube, I started finding it on the shelves of my local Kroger stores, my natural food stores.  I was getting Neat where I could purchase it when I suddenly decided to make something spontaneous for dinner.

YAY!

So, what exactly is Neat?  Neat is a meat replacement that is derived from nuts and other non-GMO natural ingredients.  It is a product that was created by a mother of two children who decided that they were going to become vegetarians.  At first she would puree beans into sauces to help her girls get the protein they wanted, but after awhile, everyone got tired of it.  And that was when she got into the kitchen, experimented, and created what is now marketed at Neat.

Neat comes in this shelf-stable pouch in a powdered form.  All you do to prepare it is pour the pouch into a bowl, add two eggs (or a vegan egg replacer), plus two tablespoons of water.  Stir all the ingredients together and throw it into a skillet over medium heat.  Or…if you happen to have the Italian Mix and want to make meatballs…well…you just change it up a little.

I wanted meatballs to make vegan meatball subs and some vegan spaghetti and meatballs for lunch the following day at the office.  SO…I took the mix from the pouch and poured it into a bowl, adding 1 egg, about 2 tablespoons of nutritional yeast (although now I think I should have gone for the full 1/3 cup (which was the amount of Parmesan cheese the recipe said to add), and 1 tablespoon of water and gave it a mix.  Then, with clean hands, I ended up rolling 12 meatballs (you normally would do 8 larger meatballs, but I had multiple meals planned for these…this way my roommate and I each got 3 in each dish I prepared).  Then, into an oven at 350°F for about 18 minutes, turning them over once.  That simple.

Near the end of their cooking time, I began warming up some marinara sauce on the stove.  And when these meatballs came out of the oven, into the sauce they went.  I gave the sauce a stir and just coated the meatballs the best I could.  I was using an open jar of sauce, so I had a little less than I wanted, but I figured the entire point of the meatball sub was the meatball itself.  So…with any luck, I didn’t screw those up.  Into the gluten-free hotdog buns they went (no one around here seems to carry the Schär Gluten Free Sub Rolls anymore).  I topped them with a bit of the sauce, then some Daiya mozzarella style shreds then placed them back in the oven under the broiler for about a minute to get the vegan cheese as gooey as I could manage.

Then…dinner was served.

Given that this was my first attempt at the “neatballs,” I was quite happy with them.  As I said, I should have done a perfect swap for the Parmesan cheese with the nutritional yeast, but I didn’t want to overkill it.  My oven is old, so I set it a little higher in temp, and baked these for the full 18 minutes, instead of maybe just 15…so they were slightly dry, but the texture was very meaty and very dense, like a meatball should be.  I thought these were amazing in both the subs and the pasta I cooked up for the following work day.  While I might have overcooked them slightly, it didn’t make me dislike what emerged from the oven and saucepan.  I loved biting into a vegetarian meatball sub and having it feel like I was actually eating a sub.  That was a nice treat.  I loved forming these meatballs to cook, because it’s like making it yourself instead of pulling them from the freezer (for the record, I know of only 2 kinds of vegan/gluten-free meatballs…Franklin Farms (which I can’t find anymore) and Beyond Meat (which I haven’t found here) which are both kept in the fridge/freezer.  So, this was a bit more rustic and a bit more like you were putting in the work yourself to make the protein base for your meal.  It was messy, but quite fun and quite satisfying.

Let’s first delve into the nitty-gritty ingredients and nutrition of Neat – A Healthy Replacement For Meat Italian Mix.  The Italian Mix version of Neat is made from pecans, garbanzo beans, organic whole grain gluten free oats, garlic, onion, sea salt, and spices.  So, where this is meat-free and dairy-free, and also gluten-free…it is NOT nut-free.  So, if you have a nut allergy…this product is not for you.

As for nutrition, a serving of Neat Italian Mix is 40 grams and each pouch contains 4 servings.  This serving will give you 190 calories, and 15 grams of fat (healthy fat as it is coming from beans and nuts), 1.5 grams saturated fat, 218 mg sodium, 12 grams carbohydrates, 4 grams fiber, 1 gram sugars, and 4 grams protein.  These meatballs will fill you up.  Seriously.  I really appreciate when a faux protein is made with filling, real foods that won’t leave me feeling hungry an hour or so later.  Trust me, that isn’t a problem with Neat.

I am so in love with the two mixes I have picked up from Neat – A Healthy Replacement to Meat.  I still have the Breakfast Mix and the Original Mix to try so I’ll be picking those up soon.  They also make an Egg Replacer as well, which I’d love to try.  So far, there isn’t anything bad I can say about Neat.  So, if you haven’t tried it and you, perhaps, have been missing your spaghetti and meatballs or meatball subs…you gotta try this!!  Order online if you can’t find it in your stores.  Trust me, you won’t regret it.

Spaghetti & Neatballs and Neatball Sub made with Neat - A Healthy Replacement for Meat Italian Mix
Spaghetti & Neatballs and Neatball Sub made with Neat – A Healthy Replacement for Meat Italian Mix

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: Grandpa’s Gourmet Gluten Free Citrus Herb Chicken Encrusting

Grandpa's Gourmet Gluten Free Citrus Herb Chicken Encrusting
Grandpa’s Gourmet Gluten Free Citrus Herb Chicken Encrusting

Product: Grandpa’s Gourmet Gluten Free Citrus Herb Chicken Encrusting – $5.00+

Okay…I know what you’re thinking.  You’re thinking…what is the gluten-free vegetarian doing with a breadcrumb coating that is meant for making fried chicken?

Well…it all starts with Cuisine Cube.

I signed up for Cuisine Cube back in May 2014…and for a year have been receiving a monthly subscription box of full-size products from artisan and smaller gluten-free companies.  I love it.  You can subscribe for as little as $29.99/month.  While you might be uncertain about the quality of the service, let me tell you…you will receive products you may never have heard of and are definitely not readily available stores.  You will receive 5-6 products (full-size) each month, each one representing a time when you’d eat: breakfast, lunch, dinner, snack, dessert.  And…sometimes…a bonus!  For me, some some products get used faster than others…and some sort of linger in my pantry until I can figure out something to do with them.

That was the case when, in my July 2014 Cuisine Cube, I received a 6 ounce package of Grandpa’s Gourmet Gluten Free Citrus Herb Chicken Encrusting.  Upon first opening the box, I thought…”I’m a vegetarian…what am I going to do with this?”  But, as most of you are well aware, I do love to coat some of my fresh vegetables in different breading (some made out of re-purposed items, and some…from actual gluten-free breadcrumbs) and bake them up in the oven to serve for dinner.  And, after almost a year of procrastinating on this product, I thought it was time to move the last of the 2014 products out.

That honor…went to Grandpa’s Gourmet Gluten Free Citrus Herb Chicken Encrusting.  Grandpa’s Gourmet was founded by a couple – he is a Celiac and she can’t have sugar, making meal planning quite a task.  One night, while she was preparing her grandfather’s old recipe for oven fried chicken, her husband gave into the craving and devoured all the fried chicken he could get his hands on.  He, of course, braced for the inevitable reaction – which never came.  Could it be…they had stumbled upon a recipe that would mean – “One Meal for Everyone!”?

Grandpa’s Gourmet calls their line of products “Encrustings” because they are breading taken to the next level.  Typical store-bought breading (or breadcrumbs) you get are genetically modified, unnatural wheat-based products that contain high amounts of sodium, sugar and preservatives.  Even most gluten-free breadings are loaded with fat because they are nut based or have a gritty texture as they are rice based.  But that’s what sets Grandpa’s Gourmet Gluten Free Encrustings apart.  Not only are their products all natural and healthy…but they taste great.  These encrustings have a non-GMO corn base, instead of rice or potato, giving it a fantastic texture.  They are sweetened with natural fruit juice…no artificial flavorings here.  And then, they fold in their own custom blend of spices and seasonings that smell amazing as they cook.

Roasted Broccoli over a Wild Rice Blend using Grandpa's Gourmet Gluten Free Citrus Herb Chicken Encrusting
Roasted Broccoli over a Wild Rice Blend using Grandpa’s Gourmet Gluten Free Citrus Herb Chicken Encrusting

I don’t eat chicken…nor do I cook meat…but I do a lot with vegetables.  Had I thought about it before, the Grandpa’s Gourmet even suggests putting it on vegetables on the front of their pouch.  It says, “Also great on: pork, fish, pasta, and vegetables.”  VEGETABLES!  DUH!  So, last night and tonight, it was all about the Grandpa’s Gourmet Gluten Free Citrus Herb Chicken Encrusting.

Last night, I roasted up some broccoli that I coated with some olive oil and the encrusting mix.  I did the same tonight with green beans, which I toasted up in the oven to get them nice and crispy and good.  Let me tell you, Grandpa’s Gourmet Gluten Free Citrus Herb Chicken Encrusting is phenomenal.  While I liked it well enough on the oven roasted broccoli, it really shined tonight when I put it on the green beans and toasted those up for dinner.  WOW.  This breading is anything but bland.  In fact, it is a fantastic seasoning that would work well even in scrambled eggs.  Honestly…I am beyond impressed with this amazing product.  And to think, I never would have thought about this product otherwise.  It is versatile and amazing.

Let’s take a look at the ingredients that go into a pouch of Grandpas Gourmet Gluten Free Citrus Herb Chicken Encrusting.  This breading is made from organic corn meal (organic corn meal, organic grape and/or pear juice concentrate, sea salt), cashews, almonds, spices, salt, and orange peel.  This encrusting is gluten free, dairy free, soy free, MSG free, and non-GMO.

As far as nutrition goes, I am totally impressed with how this all adds up.  A serving of Grandpa’s Gourmet Gluten Free Citrus Herb Chicken Encrusting is 1/4 cup.  There are about 6 servings per container.  One serving will provide 120 calories and 6 grams of fat.  This serving will also dish up 0 mg cholesterol, 220 mg sodium, 14 grams carbohydrates, 2 grams sugars, 2 grams fiber, and 3 grams of protein.

Honestly, I never would have given Grandpa’s Gourmet Gluten Free Citrus Herb Chicken Encrusting a second glance, but thanks to Cuisine Cube, I now have a product I can actively seek out (and order) and indulge in and include in so many dishes.  This is one versatile breading…so even if you’re like me and don’t eat meat…you can still enjoy this product.  I am definitely in love.  Enough that I even ate the breading that flaked off my green beans tonight.  A nice salty-sweet treat at the end of a meal.  Definitely a new favorite.

Crispy Green Beans made with Grandpa's Gourmet Gluten Free Citrus Herb Chicken Encrusting
Crispy Green Beans made with Grandpa’s Gourmet Gluten Free Citrus Herb Chicken Encrusting