Product Review: Amy’s Kitchen Gluten Free Sandwich Rounds

Amy's Kitchen Gluten Free Sandwich Rounds
Amy’s Kitchen Gluten Free Sandwich Rounds

Product: Amy’s Kitchen Gluten Free Sandwich Rounds – $6.99+

Sometimes, it’s not just my pantry that keeps products for awhile.  Back at the beginning of summer, I finally found a local store that carried a certain sandwich bread that I had been searching high and low for.  You see, gluten-free bread has always been expensive, and since this particular bread only came with 8 pieces and was about $7.00, I really needed to make sure my budget was going to allow for it.

And so, it was because I finally had it within my clutches, I purchased a box of Amy’s Kitchen Gluten Free Sandwich Rounds.

Amy’s Kitchen and I are BFFs.  For real.  Her gluten-free products are amazing.  All of her products are vegetarian…with a good chunk of them being vegan as well.  How’s that for amazing, eh?  I haven’t met a product from Amy’s Kitchen that I haven’t fallen in love with.  And, for awhile, I was stashing her frozen meals and canned soups/chili in my freezer and/or pantry.  When I moved to more of a clean diet, I went for more natural foods rather than frozen and processed.  But Amy’s still had a place in my heart…and when anything called for vegetarian chili or the like…it is her brand that I turn to.

So, when I saw online awhile (like years!) that Amy’s Kitchen had created gluten-free Sandwich Rounds (I assumed these were like Sandwich Thins), I went on the hunt.  When I came up empty handed, I just sort of gave up on it.  Until Earth Fare opened up in my area…and lo and behold…there on the shelf…the Sandwich Rounds.  No conversation or budget stopped me from putting that in my shopping basket and bringing them home.  Into my freezer.  And…there they sat.  For a long while.  I just kept buying loaves of bread.  I didn’t even think about these again until I was reorganizing my freezer and starting to work through the items inside.  And when I rediscovered them…I had an idea of how to use them.

Veggie burgers.

Amy's Kitchen Gluten Free Sandwich Rounds
Amy’s Kitchen Gluten Free Sandwich Rounds

Because I had been craving.  So, I picked up some of my favorite gluten-free veggie burgers from the store on Sunday (Franklin Farms is the brand, in case you were wondering…delicious and low calorie!).  And this morning, I pulled the box Amy’s Gluten Free Sandwich Rounds out of the freezer and removed two of the flat breads to thaw while I was at work.

And this was my only disappointment with this product.  I thought that these would be a lot like the Sandwich Thins I used to eat when I was eating horribly unhealthy “diet” bread.  Those were thin little bread rounds that were sliced in half.  These looked like small three-inch pizza crusts more than sandwich bread.  And…in order to actually make a sandwich (or in my case a burger), I would have to double the bread.  One piece is just that…one piece.  No way to slice it in half to make a sandwich you can pick up.  So, forget about that burger…it now became and open-faced sandwich tonight.

So, yeah…I was already a little disappointed.  But, after I slid the Amy’s Kitchen Gluten Free Sandwich Rounds into the oven to toast slightly while the burgers cooked and the mushrooms and onions were marinating in bar-b-que sauce.  As those finished up, I removed the now warmed thin bread rounds from the oven and began to put together the open faced sandwiches…trying not to be too disappointed that in order to make an entire burger, I’d have to double my calories and everything else.  So…this would have to do.  A little BBQ sauce on the round, then the veggie patty, melted vegan cheese, and then the barbeque onions and mushrooms to top it off.  I served it with a side of Zapp’s New Orleans Style Voodoo Kettle Chips (which are totally amazing!).

Settling into dinner with an open-faced burger instead of an actual burger was a bit of a let-down.  But…after I took my fork and knife and sliced into everything and gave it all a taste…all was forgiven.  The Amy’s Gluten Free Sandwich Rounds are totally amazing.  In fact, they taste like mini pizza crusts.  So, now I kind of want to do little individual pizzas and use these as the base.  They are amazing. And they even held up to the sauce, the burger, the toppings…without getting soggy and falling apart.  Color me impressed.  The disappointment for not being able to pick up my dinner faded.  The taste, texture, and all-around goodness of this product made up for it in spades.  Holy cow!

Let’s look at the ingredients!  Amy’s Kitchen Gluten Free Sandwich Rounds are true to Amy’s Kitchen form.  Using only ingredients that are recognizable.  No fake stuff here.  These little sandwich rounds are made from organic rice flour, filtered water, organic sunflower seed meal, organic tapioca starch, organic potatoes, organic extra virgin olive oil, organic agave nectar, sea salt, yeast, and organic rice bran extract.  These little sandwich rounds are gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free, vegan, cholesterol free, and kosher.  Love it.

A serving of Amy’s Kitchen Gluten Free Sandwich Rounds is (sadly) one round.  This one round piece of bread will provide you with 90 calories and 4 grams of fat.  This serving will also give you only 135 mg sodium and 1 gram of sugar.  You will also be taking in 1 gram fiber and 2 grams of protein.  So, they aren’t very filling, but it’s nice not to have a calorie-laden burger/sandwich.  I only wish these could have been split so that I could have picked up my burger instead of having to go all fine-dining on it with a fork and knife.

I am not kidding…Amy’s Kitchen Gluten Free Sandwich Rounds are fantastic.  If you happen to find these in your store, I recommend the splurge.  Make an open face sandwich…or if you don’t mind 180 calories and 8 grams of fat in one sitting…make a full one.  For me…I think mini pizzas are up next.  What started off initially as disappointment transformed into nothing but pure joy.  This product is truly amazing.  I love them!

An Open-Faced BBQ Mushroom & Onion Veggie Burger on an Amy's Kitchen Gluten Free Sandwich Round
An Open-Faced BBQ Mushroom & Onion Veggie Burger on an Amy’s Kitchen Gluten Free Sandwich Round

Restaurant Review: Slightly North of Broad (S.N.O.B.), Charleston, South Carolina

Slightly North of Broad (S.N.O.B.), Charleston, South Carolina
Slightly North of Broad (S.N.O.B.), Charleston, South Carolina

Restaurant: Slightly North of Broad (S.N.O.B.), Charleston, South Carolina

With every marathon I run, there is also a celebratory meal.  Usually it is on the same day of said race, but Charleston is an odd duck in that it’s marathon runs on Saturday.  And we already had eating plans on Saturday.  So, instead of changing everything around, we just decided to have the fancy, special meal on Sunday night.  And, after scouring a list of places that Amanda sent me (all of which had gluten-free items), it came down to two options – Poogan’s Porch and Slightly North of Broad.

Cathy chose in the end…opting for Slightly North on Broad because of one item on the menu that caught her eye.  This was fine with me…there was this amazing honey drizzled fruit plate dessert on their menu that sounded beyond amazing.  So…when Amanda came over to help with the planning session…this was decided.  And, to make the occasion even more special, Janet (Cathy & Amanda’s mom), offered to pay for our big meal out this trip.

The best part about where we were staying was that Slightly North of Broad (S.N.O.B.) was literally right across the street from the hotel.  Seriously.  So, this meant we could stay out and explore until we absolutely had to return to our rooms.  Then, we could all clean up and head out to eat, then come back to change and go out for some more exploring!  Of course, when Cathy chose this restaurant, we had no idea this was the case.  Amanda enlightened us.  Odd, how when it came to eats the only one we really ventured out further than the immediate area of our hotel was Brown Dog Deli.  And we were over that way anyway as I was shopping for spices, tea, honey and other local goodies.  HA!

So Sunday morning and afternoon was spent walking the streets and cemeteries of Charleston.  Honestly, if you ever get to visit this amazing city…just walk it, duck into places, explore.  You can take tours, yes, but sometimes it’s just fun to get out there and just find something that intrigues you.  I was fortunate enough to have Richie and Amanda with me, to act as the local tour guides.  They might as well be locals.  They know where everything is…how to get there…and come to Charleston often enough it’s second hand.  But, even if you aren’t traveling with your own walking guide books…try something new.  We returned about an hour and a half before dinner so we could clean up and get ready to make the walk across the street.  I took a shower and changed and then we met Amanda and Richie at their room before hoofing it over to S.N.O.B.

We only had a brief wait while they prepared our table for our 6:15 p.m. reservation.  And once we were seated and water (and Coke for Richie) was poured, we were left to peruse our menus until our waitress came over to the table.  We immediately informed her that I was a gluten free vegetarian, and she immediately opted up with the Vegetable Plate that they serve.  She also said she could see what else could be done for me, but a big plate of seasonal and local vegetables sounded absolutely delicious to me.  My decision was made.  Now the rest of my dining party needed to ponder what they were going to have.  The server gave us a few more minutes to decide.

So, let’s discuss S.N.O.B. here, while we are deciding on food, eh?  Because this seems like as good a place as any.  S.N.O.B. is described as “an eclectic Lowcountry bistro that brings together an abundance of local ingredients and thoughtful, expert presentation with a friendly, contagious energy.”  In other words, very big on farm to table.  Love that.  They have a nice open kitchen, which I absolutely loved since I love being able to glance over and see what is being prepared as it is being prepared.  The food they make is the product of the local farmers, fishermen, and producers.  So…very Sean Brock.  And I love Sean Brock.  And if you don’t know who Sean Brock is…Google him now and learn!  The setting is low-light, candles, white table cloth, and soft conversations.  You get the sounds of the kitchen…the sizzles, the flames, the dishes clinking, all mixing with the pouring of wine and water, and the clink of silverware as it scrapes up that last bit of food from a pristine white plate.  This is S.N.O.B.

So…there it is.

When our waitress returned we all had finally settled on what we were going to eat.  Richie opted for the Pan Seared Duck Breast ($27.00), which includes savory blue cheese bread pudding, fig jam, Brussels sprouts, and a honey thyme reduction.  He saw duck…he knew what he wanted.  Amanda ordered the Grilled Pork Chop ($27.00), which is served with crispy confit potatoes, cabbage, and topped with a sorghum and whole grain mustard glaze.  Cathy was the foodie of the group and wanted to try something more than just a large appetizer plate, so she did a medium plate with an appetizer, which is recommended on the menu.  For her appetizer, she went with the Herb Crusted Eggplant ($12.00), which is topped off with buffalo mozzarella, green heirloom tomatoes, some sprouts, and pesto.  For her entrée, she opted for the Carolina Quail ($16.00), which comes with braised greens, tasso cornbread stuffing, Muscadine glaze (that’s from a particular grape, FYI), and quail jus.

As for me…I did go with the Vegetable Plate ($20.00), which is described on the menu as being “a variety of the best vegetables we can find.”  Hey…I’m a vegetarian.  There are very few vegetables I don’t like.  Very few.  So…our order was in and we fell into the din of conversations, discussing everything from our events that day to the other people in the restaurant, to wine bottles we could see from our seats, to how much fun we were having.  Lots of laughter and lots of fun going on.

Cathy’s appetizer was up first and we all cast out our appreciative ooohs and ahhhs at the tower of eggplant, cheese, tomatoes, and greens, all soaking in a small pool of pesto.  She sliced into it, and said that the eggplant was actually really well cooked and that the cheese was amazing.  However, as she went on eating, she got tired of the sprouts getting caught in her teeth, and eventually that herb crust got completely mushy with the mix of the eggplant juice, the pesto, and the juicy tomatoes on top.  So, it started off really well…but in the end…all went to mush.  She polished it off, save for those greens on top though.

A little after her plate was cleared away, the main courses arrived.  Amanda had the largest pork chop I had ever seen in my life.  It was only polished off with some help from Richie and Cathy.  But…she did eat all her potatoes.  Richie’s duck was cooked perfectly and I had never seen him clean a plate until this meal.  Cathy was less impressed with her entree, finding her favorite part of the quail to be the pan seared area where it was crispy.  She hated the greens with a passion (and she eats greens…I cook them at home).  And her favorite part of the plate…the tasso corn bread.  Everything else left her rather…unimpressed.

S.N.O.B.'s Vegetable Plate
S.N.O.B.’s Vegetable Plate

As for me…when they said a plate of vegetables, they weren’t kidding. Upon further looking at the menu, what I have found is that this plate is a compilation of every vegetable in house and offered as a side on the menu.  This plate was mounded high with high fiber vegetables that were cooked however the side was to be cooked, and paired with three different starches.  It was beyond filling.  This plate included grilled eggplant, heirloom tomatoes, green beans, portobello mushrooms, grilled okra (on the list of vegetables I hate with a passion, so these got left behind!), broccoli (with a sprinkle of Romano cheese), sautéed spinach, caramelized onions, caramelized Brussels sprouts, maverick potatoes, Charleston gold brown rice with some butternut squash, yellow grits (with cheese), some sprouts on top, and some sweet pepper jelly mixed in.  The plate was a mish-mash of vegetables, no real plating flair…just piled high.  In fact, I didn’t realize I had an heirloom tomato until I moved the eggplant.  It was hidden below.  That being said…the green beans were…well…green beans.  I thought the potatoes were that weird overly-whipped consistency, and ate them by mixing them with one of the vegetables…like green beans or some eggplant just to give it a better texture.  The spinach was delicious.  I didn’t eat the okra because…GROSS.  The eggplant was grilled and good enough…though a touch under-seasoned.  The tomato was messy, but fresh and delicious.  I love that little hit of sweetness.  My favorite things on the plate were the grits, the Brussels sprouts, and the rice.  All of which I saved for the last things I ate.  And when I was done, I wasn’t sure if I was impressed or not…but it was a massive plate of food that was very filling indeed.  I mean, I didn’t dislike it…it was just…okay.  They definitely give you $20 worth of vegetables.  All local and fresh…so I will give them credit for that.

Afterwards we were asked about desserts.  I already had my heart set on something, even though I was filled up to the max.  You only get to celebrate once, right?  So…to hell with it…desserts all around.

Amanda and Richie decided to split the Crème Brûlée ($7.00), which was a creamy vanilla custard with caramelized brown sugar topping.  Cathy went with the Vanilla Ice Cream with a Shortbread Cookie ($6.00) for her dessert.  It also came dressed with fresh strawberries.  As for me…I went with what caught my eye originally on the menu in the first place…the Fresh Fruit Plate ($7.50), which came drizzled with local honey.

Desserts are a must for me.  I love trying desserts when I can.  And fruit is one of my favorite desserts to polish off a meal with.  The whole drizzled with local honey was an added bonus.  Our desserts arrived.  Richie had never had a Crème Brûlée before, so this was his first foray into that.  Cathy’s ice cream looked fantastic and she crumbled the cookie over it and dove in, enjoying the fresh berries for that added bit of sweetness.  My fruit plate consisted of grapes, strawberries, sliced apples, sliced bananas, spear slices, and chunks of fresh pineapple.  All of it, as promised, was drizzled with local honey, adding to the sweetness of the plate.  But it worked. I mean, it was a plate of fruit, but I couldn’t be happier with it.  Everything was perfectly ripe, juicy, and amazing.  Delicious and perfect way to end the meal.

While I certainly enjoyed my meal at S.N.O.B., when I return to Charleston next time, I will definitely investigate other options.  I am happy for the experience, and loved the company, but the food was just okay to me.  Maybe it’s my dietary restrictions…but I wasn’t overly impressed.  Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t dislike S.N.O.B. by any means.  The food was cooked well and tasted good for the most part.  But…there is so much more to taste in Charleston…so while the dinner was nice, I’m eager to go elsewhere next time.

S.N.O.B.'s Fruit Plate dessert
S.N.O.B.’s Fruit Plate dessert

Restaurant Review: Brown Dog Deli, Charleston, South Carolina

Brown Dog Deli, Charleston, South Carolina
Brown Dog Deli, Charleston, South Carolina

Restaurant: Brown Dog Deli, Charleston, South Carolina

The Brown Dog Deli is definitely one of Charleston, South Carolina’s little gems.  It’s definitely not your average deli…but it is serving up some fantastic food.

And if that doesn’t sound like an intro to Diner’s, Drive-In’s and Dives…I don’t know what does!

But let’s face it…I don’t sugarcoat things.  And when I am told over and over again by my Charleston regulars, Amanda and Richie, that I must go eat at the Brown Dog Deli…well you bet your sweet tennis balls and Nylabones that I do.  HA.  Dog references FTW.  Don’t you love it when I laugh at my own jokes?

With this in mind, and packed schedule on Saturday, we made the decision to hit up the Brown Dog Deli on Sunday morning/afternoon for an early lunch of sorts.  And after wandering around downtown, hitting up the market, shopping, and just taking in some of the history and beauty of Charleston, we were ready to sit down to a light-ish lunch.  We were doing dinner out that night, so we wanted to hit this up early.  Naturally, this means we got there at noon.  HAHA!  But, it was okay.

This funky little diner is located on Broad Street in downtown Charleston, and everyone seems to love it.  When we arrived, at around noon on-the-dot, we were greeted by a server and led to a booth.  The place had a few other people in there, but it wasn’t hopping.  Our server, Meredith, came over to get our drink orders.  And Cathy went ahead and gave her the heads up on my food allergies and dietary restrictions.  She immediately came back with the fact that they had gluten-free bread and wraps and that they had a separate vegetarian/vegan menu.  She retrieved that for me and then filled our drink orders.

I originally was just going to get the Gluten-Free Hummus and Veggies Wrap ($6.95), which would have been a wrap made with roasted red pepper hummus, cucumbers, carrots, tomatoes, red onions, feta, sprouts and spinach.  It sounded really good…but the more I looked over the menu and the more my friends were talking about all the different things they were getting (and with the sort-of exception of Cathy…it was something you could only get at this restaurant).  So, I ended up changing my mind.

As it was Amanda got what she always gets at the Brown Dog Deli…the Mesquite Turkey Croissant Sandwich ($7.95), which is made up of brie cheese, applewood-smoked bacon, sprouts, red onions, and cranberry-pepper jelly, served on a croissant.  It is her favorite thing on the menu.  Richie’s favorite sandwich was no longer on the menu, so he decided to try something very different, the Apple “Butter” Jeans Sandwich ($7.95), which is composed of warm melted brie, sliced Granny Smith apples, local apple butter, fresh arugula, mesquite smoked turkey, honey ham, and prosciutto, served on a panini-pressed local French baguette.

Cathy really was interested in the chili that was being offered that day, so she decided she was going to do a cup of that.  It was the Southwest Beef and Beer Chili ($3.95) and she opted to pair it with a Build-Your-Own Grilled Cheese ($5.95), selecting Yellow Cheddar, White American Mozzarella, and Goats Cheese as her three cheeses for the sandwich, and choosing to have all of that toasted up on Sourdough Bread.

As for me…I ditched the Hummus and Veggies Wrap and thought to do something I hadn’t seen on a menu anywhere else.  I opted for the Gluten-Free Portobello Philly Sandwich…light on the cheese ($6.95).  This sandwich was made up of marinated portobello mushrooms, sautéed with peppers and onions, Boar’s Head Vermont yellow cheddar and white American cheese.  They had Udi’s bread, which they toasted up to help keep it from immediately falling apart with the wet ingredients.

There was no shortage of things to discuss while we waited on food, but when it arrived, I was so excited.  Like I said, this restaurant came highly recommended…and it was now packed with a line waiting to get in.  We had good timing.  And when food did arrive at our table, I was definitely ready to dig into my sandwich.

So how was the Gluten Free Portobello Philly?  It was fantastic.  The marinated mushrooms gave this sandwich a “meaty” texture.  And the onions and peppers were cooked to perfection…keeping them flavorful and crisp, but also cooking them down so they weren’t raw.  They were fantastic.  The bread did start to fall apart, but that’s the nature of gluten-free bread.  Especially Udi’s.  But, with that aside, they were good about keeping the cheese light, and it probably would have been just as fantastic without it on the sandwich.  I thought everything was seasoned perfectly.

And I was not alone.  Clean plates…that is what we left at the Brown Dog Deli.  Cathy loved her soup, and would dip her sandwich into the thick and spicy soup.  She raved about the creaminess of the cheeses in her sandwich and how they all, surprisingly, worked when put together.  And Amanda and Richie both loved what they ordered.  Especially Richie…who had to get something he had never had before.  Lunch was later than planned, but a total success.  And then, we all purchased matching shirts from the Brown Dog Deli as well.


Anyway…if I were to point out one restaurant to anyone wanting to eat the local fare in Charleston, South Carolina…this is the place I would send them.  They work with dietary restrictions, they are careful, they create great food…and you will not regret any wait you might have to get a seat inside.  It’s worth it.

Brown Dog Deli…I’m coming back next time I’m in that fine city.  I can’t wait to try something else!

Brown Dog Deli's Gluten Free Portobello Philly Sandwich
Brown Dog Deli’s Gluten Free Portobello Philly Sandwich

Product Review: Lotus Foods Rice Ramen + Recipe Bonus

Cuisine Cube
Cuisine Cube

Product Review: Lotus Foods Rice Ramen – $2.75+

Say it with me…


Finally the gluten-free world gifts me with…gluten-free ramen!  I have been waiting a long time for this.

I know what you’re thinking…

“Really?  Ramen?”

Trust me…when you are faced with never being able to eat something again…finally is what comes to mind when you suddenly are given that something.  I never knew how much I missed ramen…until I was suddenly able to have it again.

And for this great pleasure, I once again have to credit the amazing Cuisine Cube!  Honestly, this is the best money I have ever spent each month.  It is always a surprise as to what is inside the cube that arrives in the mail.  And I am like a kid at Christmas when I open it up.  Back in October’s box…Cuisine Cube included not just one, but two, packages of Lotus Foods Gluten Free and Reduced Sodium Rice Ramen.

Two flavors: Millet & Brown Rice with Miso Soup as well as Forbidden Rice with Miso Soup.

Color me excited.  I was so ready to make some ramen.  After all, I studied Japanese all through college and ramen is a way of life in Japan.  Now…it was back in mine.

Let’s talk about Lotus Foods for a moment, shall we?  The products produced by Lotus Foods are recognized for their exceptional cooking quality, taste, texture, and superb nutritional value.  The ancient and new rices that compose their products are grown on family farms in limited quantities, on healthy, chemical-free soils.  The rice and rice products that are produced by Lotus Foods are found in specialty gourmet, natural food markets, grocery stores, white tablecloth restaurants throughout the United States, becoming a fast favorite of consumers who are seeking healthier options, as well as chefs and foodies across the country.

I decided to do an even mix when it came to the two packages of Lotus Foods Rice Ramen that I received from Cuisine Cube.  I’d prepare one package as is stated on the package itself.  The other…I would cook up in a recipe.

Lotus Foods Millet & Brown Rice Ramen with Miso Soup
Lotus Foods Millet & Brown Rice Ramen with Miso Soup

The one that I chose to shine on its very own was the Lotus Foods Millet & Brown Rice Ramen.  These traditional Japanese-style noodles are created using their specialty rice instead of wheat.  Not only are these gluten-free, but both millet and brown rice are some of the most nutritious and easily digestible grains.

Nothing could be easier to cook.  Simply bring 2 cups of water to a boil.  Add in the ramen and simmer for about 4 minutes.  Stir every now and again, breaking the noodles apart.  When the noodles are soft, remove the pot from the heat and mix in the contents of the enclosed soup package.  You can then add in any additional veggies and protein as you wish.  I added some corn…because I happen to have a lot of fresh corn in my freezer leftover from this summer.

So…what emerged was a hearty, but delicious miso soup.  One that is not only gluten-free, but also vegan and non-GMO.  All of Lotus Foods rice products are made from organic rice…and that includes the rice ramen.

So…how did it taste?  Fantastic.  I love that this is also reduced sodium, as a lot of ramen on the market is overflowing with unneeded sodium.  I was impressed with that stat on the nutritional information immediately.  But as for the taste…the millet and brown rice lend a rich and nutty taste to the noodles themselves.  And the soup pack provided a ton of flavor to the hot water.  I love the mix of spices that brought a slight bit of heat and sweetness to the entire dish.  It was simple to cook and fun to eat.  Chopsticks not included.

Lotus Foods Millet & Brown Rice Ramen with Miso Soup (prepared with corn)
Lotus Foods Millet & Brown Rice Ramen with Miso Soup (prepared with corn)

Let’s look at the ingredients in Lotus Foods Millet & Brown Rice Ramen.  The ramen is made from organic brown rice flour, organic millet flour, water, and organic white rice flour.  The soup pack contains red miso powder (cultured soybeans and rice, salt) tamari powder, salt, red onion powder, dried wakame seaweed, sugar, garlic powder, ginger powder, dried parsley, and dried chili peppers.  It is gluten-free, cholesterol free, organic, high in fiber and protein, non-GMO, low fat, vegan, and truly delicious!

As for the nutritional information…well…the Lotus Foods Millet & Brown Rice Ramen packs contain 2 servings, so a serving isze is 1/2 ramen with the seasoning.  This serving will provide you with 140 calories and 1.5 grams of fat.  This portion will also give you 460 mg sodium and 1 gram of sugar.  See how amazing that sodium level is?!  It has 25% less sodium than regular ramen soup.  This serving also provides 2 grams of fiber and 5 grams of protein.  It may not seem like much when you look at it…but trust me…you will feel full after eating your bowl of this ramen.

In addition to the Millet & Brown Rice variety, Cuisine Cube threw in the Lotus Foods Forbidden Rice Ramen as well.

Lotus Foods Forbidden Rice Ramen with Miso Soup
Lotus Foods Forbidden Rice Ramen with Miso Soup

Forbidden Rice is one of the most nutritious ancient grains.  It is made from Lotus Foods heirloom black rice instead of wheat.  I love the purple color that these noodles take on.  It’s really fantastic.  Instead of cooking these up according to the package, I incorporated these into a recipe.  But…I’m getting ahead of myself.  The forbidden rice ramen also has a delicious nutty taste and a great texture to them. In addition, these noodles are a natural source of antioxidants.  This package comes with a savory white miso broth  to create the noodle soup with.  I, instead, incorporated it with the recipe I made.  I added a ton of extra vegetables to create a delicious meal.  The recipe will follow the ingredients and nutritional information.

Taste was superb.  The noodles are amazing and perfect.  I wish Cuisine Cube had included more.  But, that’s why they have a Stock Up page on their Web site…to stock up.  I hope to do just that…because…YUM!

The Lotus Foods Forbidden Rice Ramen noodles are made from organic black rice flour, organic brown rice flour, and organic white rice flour, and water.  The soup pack is made from white miso powder (cultured soybeans and rice, salt), salt, white onion powder, tamari powder, soybean powder, mushroom powder, dried parsley, and dried carrots.  It is gluten-free, cholesterol free, organic, non-GMO, low fat, and vegan.  WOOT!

As far as nutrition goes, Lotus Foods Forbidden Rice Ramen serves 2 people per pack, so a serving size is 1/2 of the package with the seasoning.  This serving will provide you with 140 calories and 1.5 grams of fat.  In addition, this portion gives you 400 mg sodium and 1 gram of sugar.  Yes, the Forbidden Rice Ramen contians 33% less sodium than regular ramen.  That’s fantastic.  And, finally, you will have less than 1gram of fiber and 3 grams of protein.  With less of these final two nutritional factors, load this up with hearty vegeatbles or your protein of choice.

Or…do what I did…

Recipe: Ramen Noodle Soup with Sugar Snap Peas, Mushrooms and Corn

Ramen Noodle Soup with Sugar Snap Peas, Mushrooms, and Corn
Ramen Noodle Soup with Sugar Snap Peas, Mushrooms, and Corn

Servings: 4-6
Time: Prep 15 minutes; Cook 20 minutes



  • 2 Tbs. olive oil
  • 2 shallots, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 6 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 packet of Lotus Foods Forbidden Rice Ramen noodles (dried ramen noodles)
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1-1/2 cups sugar snap peas, trimmed and halved diagonally
  • 1/2 cup corn
  • 1/2 cup crimini mushrooms, sliced
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • Hot sauce, such as Sriracha, for serving



In a large, heavy pot, warm the oil over medium-high heat.

Add the shallots and garlic and saute for 3 minutes.

Add the mushrooms and saute for another 3 minutes.

Add the broth and bring to a boil.

Add the ramen noodles and tomatoes and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes.

Add the sugar snap peas, corn, and the seasoning packet from the Lotus Foods Forbidden Rice Ramen and cook for 2 minutes.

Season with salt and pepper and serve.  Add hot sauce, if desired.


Let me tell you, I was amazed with how good this recipe was.  And thanks to Lotus Foods Forbidden Rice Ramen Noodles…I was able to create this and cook it up.  It had rich depth of flavor.  The Forbidden Rice Ramen noodles added a nice hit of bold color.  And the soup itself had this great umami flavor.  It was rich and loaded with nutrients and fresh vegetables.  It was love at first slurp.  And there was a ton of slurping going on.

If you haven’t looked into a subscription to Cuisine Cube, I do highly recommend it.  In addition, I encourage you to seek out or order Lotus Foods Rice Ramen and give it a try.  Especially, if you’re like me, and didn’t even remember what you were missing.  It was so delicious.  Or, as they say in Japan, “Taihen Oishikattadesu!”

Another product I love, brought to me with great thought and great care from Cuisine Cube.  I’m loving this service.

Restaurant Review: Via Napoli Ristorante e Pizzeria – Epcot – Disney World

Via Napoli - Italy Pavilion - Epcot
Via Napoli – Epcot – Disney World

Restaurant: Via Napoli Ristorante e Pizzeria – Epcot – Disney World

It was Epcot Day!  YAY!  I love Epcot Day.  I don’t know why…because so much of it features the World Showcase…which during the Food & Wine Festival…features foods from all over the world.  Even the regular pavilions that are standard in the showcase don’t offer much for a gluten-free vegetarian.  But I still love Epcot Day.

Since we were in Epcot, on our final night, we wanted to go somewhere in the park for dinner.  It took a little bit of back and forth, but we finally decided on Via Napoli Ristorante e Pizzeria.  It had gluten-free pasta on the menu, so we were good.  Something I could eat.  Which, definitely was important on Epcot Day…as our morning actually started at the Magic Kingdom…where we at Dole Whip for breakfast.  Pictures were taken for proof.  I am not ashamed.

But…let’s fast forward.

The entire day was spent doing a few rides and exploring the World Showcase.  My friend, Jenn, was having a difficult time on the last day.  Her feet…her poor feet…had blisters in places I didn’t know one could get blisters.  It was a slower moving day, but I was fine with that.  Take in the showcase.  Stop and watch the new Lumberjack Show.  I miss Off Kilter though…I’m not going to lie.  Cathy snagged a lunch in Morocco (she had to have her lamb shawarma!), while Jenn and I toddled over to Brazil for the (naturally gluten-free) Pao de Queijo (Brazilian Cheese Bread).  I later had one of my protein bars and half of a clementine (Jenn had the other half) because dinner reservations weren’t until 7:45 p.m.  Late.

But, we made use of our time…checking out different things along the way, resting when Jenn needed to get off her feet, exploring the different countries, and shopping.  Of course.  We got in line for the Gran Fiesta Tour Starring The Three Caballeros at the Mexican Pavilion…and that sort of ate up (see what I did there?) the rest of the evening down time before food.  It was a bit of a stroll back to Italy in Epcot…but Jenn was a trooper…and she got there.

I went up to the hostess desk in the very crowded lobby and let her know we were there for our reservation.  She asked me some questions, it was hard to hear her over the din of the lobby.  But we got it worked out.  And, of course, my food allergy thing.  So, there was a short wait…but after about 5 or so minutes, the lobby was emptying and we were up next.  The really nice hostess took us all the way to the back for a table with a bench and two chairs.  Cathy and I sidled up on the bench.  Jenn took the chair this time.

We. Were. Starving.

I perused the menu and noted that, yes, gluten-free pasta was the only option for me.  The downside…none of the listed pasta dishes on the menu were vegetarian.  Yikes.  As I was just starting to look at the menu, the customer liaison came over to speak to me about my food allergy.  He noted the gluten-free and pointed out that they do not have gluten-free pizza but any of the pasta can be done gluten-free.  And then he was off.

Which left our poor waiter to be the one who would have to seriously help me out.  Not that he minded.  And as I am the tricky one…I ordered first.  And my first statement was…

“Well, I am a gluten-free vegetarian…so…”

He came over to my side of the table to look at the pasta dishes.  “Gluten-free…it’s easy,” he said.  “The vegetarian…”  He looked at all the pasta options again and finally said, “I tell you what…we will have the chef prepare some mushrooms and vegetables with our marinara sauce.”

Works for me.  Order in.

Jenn opted for the Lasagne Verde, which is a white lasagna that is stuffed with spinach, parmesan, ricotta, and a besciamella sauce ($22.00).  Cathy went for her go-to when we first go to an Italian restaurant…the Spaghetti e Polpettine, which contained hand-crafted veal meatballs in a tomato sauce ($21.00).  I have to say, I usually giggle a little when Jenn orders something with cooked spinach or vegetables in it…because most of those veggies get tossed to the side of the plate.  But…she is Italian…and she knows her Italian food.

We waited for a bit…no gluten-free rolls or any bread at all at the table.  We watched a woman at the table next to us devour an entire pizza on her own, while her dining companions watched her.  And as she was taking her last few bites, their food arrived.  It was weird.  We couldn’t figure out if they were just there to watch her eat (like some crazy Disney World food challenge or something)…but…who knows.  She then got to watch all of them eat so…turn around is fair play…or something?

But, soon our attention turned to our own food as our dishes arrived and were delivered before us.

Pasta with Veggies and Marinara
Pasta with Veggies in Red Sauce

I have to say, my bowl of pasta was beautiful.  A good helping of marinara sauce (which would have been awesome with a gluten-free bread product of some type!) with a variety of vegetables cooked in.  I spotted zucchini, tomatoes, peppers and mushrooms immediately.  And the gluten-free pasta was fusilli…so twisty and perfect for capturing delicious sauce.  I will call this dish…”Pasta for the strange gluten-free vegetarian at the table in the back.”  Or…more simply…Pasta and Veggies in Red Sauce ($22.00).

Now, this is the second Italian restaurant I have visited at Disney World.  Normally we just head over to Hollywood Studios and enjoy our food (complete with gluten-free dinner rolls and gluten-free dessert!) at Mama Melrose’s.  But since were were in Epcot…we figured it would be easier to eat there than park hop.

I sort of wish we park hopped…

It’s not that Via Napoli was bad.  It wasn’t.  The food was actually quite good.  It was just…average though.  The pasta in my dish was actually cooked to perfection.  A lot of gluten-free pastas, especially when crafted from rice flours, tend to get gummy and fall apart.  These were a perfect al dente and held up to the marinara and the vegetables.  But…there was a lot of pasta in that dish and I ended up picking out the veggies at the end and leaving the noodles alone.  I ate about 3/4 of the dish…and that was it.  I was done.  The marinara had a lot of flavor to it.  And the vegetables were a nice touch and I appreciate the chef at Via Napoli for doing that to accommodate my dietary needs.  I just…had better.  Elsewhere.

Jenn enjoyed her lasagna…after she picked out most of the spinach.  And Cathy made sure to eat all of her meatballs.  They were much smaller than what she normally gets in a spaghetti and meatball dish, so she appreciated that too.  But she too had to soldier on and leave some of her pasta noodles behind.

No dessert here for us…we had plans.  Cathy wanted her chocolate cannoli from one of the gelato carts in the World Showcase, and I headed to France to get some Salted Caramel Gelato from an ice cream shop there.  Yummy!

So, as it stands, Via Napoli put out good food.  I can’t think of anywhere at Disney where I have had bad food.  It’s just…Mama Melrose’s had more options for me…and a bit more to offer.  So next time…I think I’ll return to Mama Melrose’s.  But, thank you, Via Napoli, for the fine cuisine.  A little taste of Italy never goes wrong with me.

Restaurant Review: Moerlein Lager House, Cincinnati, Ohio

Moerlein Lager House, Cincinnati, Ohio
Moerlein Lager House, Cincinnati, Ohio

Restaurant: Moerlein Lager House, Cincinnati, Ohio

It had been a long day for me.  No…really.  And, while a part of me was super stoked that I was leaving right from work to drive up to Cincinnati, Ohio, with my roommate, for a concert, another part of me just wanted to curl up under a blanket on the sofa at home.  But…there was music to be enjoyed.  And she had purchased a set of tickets to see Bastille in Cincinnati awhile back to help cheer me up.

This foot injury has had me pretty down since July…and she thought a surprise and a band I love might just help lift my spirits.  It did.  but this was a crazy, intense week at work, and my brain was ready to shut down.

Thankfully, that mindset changes when you actually get on the road to an event that you are really looking forward to.

So, at 4 p.m., we departed the office and hit the road up to Cincinnati, Ohio.  A couple of days prior, Cathy had made reservations with a place not to far from US Bank Arena (the venue for the show) due to some gluten-free options available on their menu.  I love trying out new food places so…WOOHOO!  Even better…it had fish and chips readily available for her.  YAY!  She made the reservations for 6:30 p.m., which would give us some time to hit traffic and get into the city, park, and get to the venue.  The last-ditch food option would be Chipotle, if the traffic gods were not with us.

But they were…and we arrived in Cincinnati just before 6 p.m., having only hit some traffic in Covington, Kentucky, just before crossing into Ohio and hitting Cincinnati.  We readily found parking and got out, making the short stroll from the parking garage (with it’s $20 event parking!) to the restaurant, which was literally one block up and then over…down toward the river walk.  Beautiful night too.  Perfect weather.

We walked up the stairs to Moerlein Lager House and stepped inside.  There were a few people ahead of us, but most went right to the bar.  We stepped up and Cathy mentioned that we were early, because traffic wasn’t as bad as we anticipated…and they were more than happy to sit us down early.  Nice.  We were shown to a very nice table, somewhere between the rowdy bar and the floor to ceiling windows, which offered a spectacular view of the riverfront.  We were given our menus and a menu that had the specials on it, where if any item were ordered off that menu, a donation would go towards a charity.  Tempting, but there really wasn’t anything on there for me…and Cathy had her heart set on fish and chips.  Our waitress, Kelly, came over to see if we wanted something to drink.  We started with water.  And when she returned, she asked if we wanted any appetizers or had any questions on the menu.  Cathy mentioned that I was a gluten-free vegetarian…and she came over.  I think she missed the “vegetarian” part following gluten-free…because she highly recommended the crab cakes.  But…hey…she tried.  And…working in it’s favor – the restaurant labeled everything V for vegetarian and GF for gluten-free.  And wouldn’t you know it…they had a dish that fit both requirements.

Cathy ordered her Fish and Chips ($18.00), which was cod that was battered with their house beer, Hudelphol, and served with a jalapeno tartar sauce, coleslaw, and fries…and decided she’d live dangerously with a non-alcoholic beer (I agree with some friends of mine on this…what’s the point??!), Einbecker ($7.00) to have with her entree.

As for me…I happily placed an order for the Crispy Balsamic Tofu ($17.00).  YES!  You read that right.  This entree was served with a spinach basil risotto and roasted tomatoes, cipoline onions, and wild mushrooms, topped with shaved asparagus and preserved lemon salad.  It had actually been a toss-up between that entree, or ordering a few sides and dining on that.  Cathy pointed out I could get those sides offered virtually anywhere…but the tofu dish was an original.  I agreed…and that’s what I ordered.

Moerlein Lager House's Crispy Balsamic Tofu
Moerlein Lager House’s Crispy Balsamic Tofu

While we waited for food, we discussed the concert…the music…my upcoming marathon…my foot (which to this day still bothers me!)…and the restaurant itself. And, when our food arrived, we were both certainly ready to dive in and devour.

My dish looked beautiful.  It was a true culinary work of art.  The tofu was sliced on the diagonal, making perfect triangles that had this great crispy coating on the outside.  It was all set over this mound of perfectly creamy risotto with the vegetables framing the outside of the dish.  Shaves asparagus topped it all off and there was this gorgeous balsamic reduction that was drizzled over the plate.  I felt bad slicing into it…but I was hungry, so that moment only lasted briefly.

One bite was all I needed to realize how much I loved this meal.  The tofu had this great crispy outside, but inside it was still rich and soft.  It was glazed perfectly with the balsamic reduction and the hit of lemon just made it shine.  The shaved asparagus was cooked to a perfect al dente and used as not only a garnish, but as a great addition to the roasted vegetables on the plate.  The onions were spectacular and the tomatoes were soft and juicy.  But the star…the absolute star of this entree was the spinach basil risotto.  It was phenomenal.  Creamy and rich and packed with great earthy and herby flavors.  I was already telling Cathy after one bite that I wanted to recreate this dish at home.  She sampled the risotto and understood why.  I also had her try the tofu…and she really liked that as well.  This dish hit on everything I liked.  It had a nice tang to it, but the flavors were simple and real.  And I ate the entire thing…possibly in record time.

A dessert menu was brought to our table and after a bit of discussion…and the mention of a Chocolate Creme Brulee ($7.00), Cathy and I decided that we could treat ourselves and split the dessert.  Cathy checked with Kelly to make sure the Creme Brulee was gluten-free.  She said she thought it was, but would check.  It was…and after a small wait, the delicious looking dessert was arriving at our table with two spoons.  Holy Moses!  This was one spectacular and rich dessert.  The burnt sugar on top was fun to crack through, but what it gave way to was this rich and decadent chocolate cream.  Cathy described it as high-class pudding.  HA!  And that’s what it tasted like.  It was amazing.  And I think once we set the spoons down, Cathy might have licked the bowl a little bit.

Honestly, the service was amazing and I didn’t feel nervous about eating here.  The clearly labeled items on the menu helped make it very easy to navigate and to make sure I got what I needed and wanted.  And what would be safe for me.  Cathy loved her meal, and even enjoyed the jalapeno tartar sauce.  She said it was her second favorite tartar sauce she’s had yet.  That’s something.  The food was outstanding.  I mean…it’s not every day I can get a vegetarian dish that is also gluten-free at a restaurant without it being…a salad.  So, this was a nice treat, indeed.  And one day, when I run the Flying Pig Marathon…you better believe this is the place I’ll be hitting up for dinner.

Thank you, Moerlein Lager House…you exceeded my expectations!

Moerlein Lager House's Chocolate Creme Brulee
Moerlein Lager House’s Chocolate Creme Brulee


Restaurant Review: Pizza Lucé, Minneapolis, Minnesota

Pizza Lucé, Minneapolis, Minnesota
Pizza Lucé, Minneapolis, Minnesota

Restaurant: Pizza Lucé, Minneapolis, Minnesota

This past week I was in Minneapolis, Minnesota.  I was there for a few reasons.  To visit with family.  To see some friends.  And to run/walk the Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon.  Yes.  Run/Walk.  Am I ashamed of this?  Not at all.  This race was a warm-up.  A warm up to the race I am running in 3 weeks exactly.

New York City Marathon.

And, as my training schedule was completely killed with my foot injury and then…orthodic problems…I went to Minneapolis not quite certain I’d be able to even run/walk the course.  I figured, I could at least spend time with family.  On Saturday morning, I was pretty certain the race was off.  I went to the expo and hobbled through, getting my race number, buying new shoes, shopping, checking out the vendors and other races that were there…and the more time I was there, the more I wanted to do it.  It also helped that my friend Heather was telling me I could do it.  Walk the hills.  Just walk the hills.  And to help, she took me on the tour of the entire race course…and…yeah…I figured I could at least give it a go.

While touring the course, my aunt, Jan, and my cousin, Molly, texted me to find out dinner plans.  They know that the night before the race is gluten-free pizza night.  And to avoid that horrible mistake that was Pizza Ranch last time I raced in Minneapolis, Cathy did some research before we left.  I heard only good things about Pizza Lucé, both on Find Me Gluten Free and in regular reviews.  In fact, they are touted as “The Best Pizza In Minneapolis.”  So…that had to be good right.  We hadn’t thought of reservations, but as there was going to be at least 11 of us there…Molly went ahead and got that arranged.

That evening, at 5 p.m., we showed up at Pizza Lucé on West 66th Street in Richfield, Minnesota.  My cousins, their significant others, and the children were all there.  My aunt was the last to arrive.  But there we were…me, my roomie, my bestie, my family…ready to give this place a try.  I don’t think the Pizza Ranch experience will ever be forgotten.  We joke about it even now.  All of us who endured it.

But, as this place had not only gluten-free, but also vegan options…I was already feeling good about it.  We were seated and our drink orders were taken while we looked over the menu.  Heather was onboard with splittling with Cathy and I up until I said I needed the vegan cheese.  Then, Cathy left it to me to choose what pizza to do (or build our own, which is an option).  I was actually torn between a seasonal special or one of the signature pizzas on the menu.  I was going back and forth and when I mentioned the Curried Coconut Butternut Squash Pizza (roasted butternut squash whipped with curry and coconut milk and finished with fresh red bell pepper, feta cheese, red onion, pineapple and fresh cilantro) to Cathy, she seemed very unenthusiastic about it.  So, I decided to go with my other choice…the Wild Mushroom and Arugula Pizza ($18.89).

While the various orders for each of us (some of us got pizzas, some got pastas)…we all sat around and talked about tons of things.  My cousin Molly had a new baby girl that I hadn’t met yet…her two boys were entertaining on the other end of the table.  My cousin, Andy, just got married and he and his wife were there…so we talked wedding.  We talked running.  We talked family. We talked about everything.  Literally.

And then…tasty food began arriving.

The Gluten Free Wild Mushroom and Arugula Pizza was set down next to me – a fantastic 10 inch gluten-free crust that was topped off with olive oil, fresh basil, arugula, caramelized onion, garlic, a wild mushroom blend (cirimini, oyster, portabella, and shiitake) and Daiya cheese (vegan!).  It looked AMAZING!  I mean, my mouth immediately began to water.  And it was then that we realized that Heather, Cathy and I totally forgot to grab lunch today.  So, yeah…we were ready to dig in.

I served 3 slices, half of the pizza, to Cathy and saved the other half for me.

OH. MY. PIZZA. GOODNESS.  This was creamy, crunchy and good!  Beyond good.  This pizza was so delicious.  I love a good white pizza and this went above and beyond what I am used to.  It was so creamy because they actually got the Daiya cheese to melt down to a perfect gooey texture.  The blend of flavors was classic, with the arugula adding a hit of peppery flavor to the sweetness of the caramelized onion and the earthiness of the mushrooms.  I might have devoured every single bit of it.  Seriously.  Like hoovered it all down.  I was so happy with the food here I really considered going back.  They, after all, also have a gluten-free stuffed shells on the menu.  Pardon me while I drool!

In a heartbeat…I would definitely return to Pizza Lucé in the future.  This place beyond impressed me.  And I think all of us who survived the disgusting nastiness of Pizza Ranch the year before were grateful to have delicious food and the variety of options that Pizza Lucé offered.  If I had been there longer, I would have returned during the rest of my stay in Minneapolis.  Seriously…so happy and can’t wait to go back next time I make it to Minneapolis!

Pizza Lucé's Gluten-Free and Vegan Wild Mushroom and Arugula Pizza
Pizza Lucé’s Gluten-Free and Vegan Wild Mushroom and Arugula Pizza

Recipe: Irish Stew

Twas the day before I left for vacation and I still had a lot…and I mean a lot of fresh produce left from my bin.  Sometimes I think I should cancel it the week I go out of town, but never really want to.  After all, I love my local and organic fresh produce being delivered to me and I hate these weeks I get back from a trip and have nothing in my fridge resembling a fresh fruit or vegetable.  I had to do something with the plethora of produce that remained…and I wasn’t exactly sure what I could manage.

All hail the Happy Herbivore.  In the cookbook, Happy Herbivore Light & Lean, which, for those of you keeping track, is the same book I got the Garden Vegetable Chili recipe from, I found an amazing recipe for Irish Stew.  Yes…vegetarian Irish Stew.  Her recipe was not gluten-free…but I made a couple of adjustments…and added a more nontraditional ingredient (to use it from my crisper drawer before leaving, naturally) to make the recipe work for me.  Honestly…it is delicious.  And so easy to prepare.  Like any stew, chili, or soup…just let it simmer and let all those flavors soak in.  That’s what it’s all about.

Recipe: Irish Stew

Irish Stew
Irish Stew

Servings: 3-4 (but I managed 6)
Time: Prep 15 minutes; Cook 50 minutes


  • 2 portobello mushrooms (I used 16 ounces of crimini mushrooms)
  • 2 cups No-Beef Broth (I used 2 cups organic vegetable broth)
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 thyme twigs, fresh, de-stemmed, or 1-2 tsp dried thyme
  • 2 large carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 2 celery stalk, sliced
  • 2 medium white potatoes, diced
  • 1 cup Guinness stout (I used Redbridge Gluten Free Bear)
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 2-3 bay leaves
  • 1-2 tablespoons Vegan Worcestershire Sauce (I used gluten free low sodium tamari)
  • **(In addition, I added 2 leeks to this stew…as I had them in my crisper…and why the hell not?)**


Remove stems from portobello mushrooms and discard.  Cut the mushroom caps into strips and set aside.

Line a large pot with 1 cup of no-beef broth.  Saute onion and garlic over high heat until onions are translucent, about a minute or two.

Add thyme, carrots, celery, potatoes, stout, and tomato paste, and stir.

Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat to low, and continue to cook for about 10 minutes.

Add mushrooms on top, along with Dijon, bay leaves, 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce, and remaining broth.  Bring to a boil again, cover and simmer for at least 30 minutes, stirring every so often.

Continue to cook until mushrooms and potatoes are very soft – past fork-tender.

Taste, adding more Worcestershire sauce if desired.

Add a generous amount of black pepper and salt if desired.

Remove bay leaves and serve.


This is definitely a healthy and hearty stew.  It has that great ‘stick-to-your-ribs’ feel to it, yet is completely plant based.  Gotta love that.  And I thought my addition of the leeks actually worked quite well.  As I had to use a beer instead of a stout, the flavor is a bit more mild, but this has Ireland written all over it.  A little nontraditional…but very good.

I froze a few servings of it and this thaws out and reheats beautifully.  Trust me.  You’ll love this!  Especially as we enter the perfect time for soups!!  And with just over 115 calories per 1-3/4 cup serving…you won’t feel guilting indulging in this stew either.  I can’t wait to try out more of the Happy Herbivore dishes!

Recipe: Garden Chili

I have a lot of vegetables in my crisper drawer.  Like…a lot.  A whole lot.  Because…I get a CSA bin loaded up each Friday and sometimes I get through them, and other times…I don’t.  Well, last week with all the birthday insanity…I barely got through them.  It wasn’t without trying.  I just…had so much going on and a few dinners had to be really quick and simple and…not cooked from my fresh and delicious vegetables.  Hey…I did make an amazing salad though with a whole lot of them.

But, I digress.

With a trip coming up next week, I am determined to use up much of what is now in my crisper drawer.  I also had a new gluten-free and dairy-free recipe for cornbread that I really, really, really wanted to get working on…so…I thought…


Now, I have a TON of recipes for vegetarian chili…but I wanted one that I could use simply what I had in my kitchen.  And, it just so happened to exist in my Happy Herbivore Light & Lean cookbook.  Only thing I needed was…beans!  Simple enough, I was grocery shopping today anyway.  So…clocking in at 153 calories and 1 gram of fat, I give you…

Recipe: The Happy Herbivore’s Garden Chili

The Happy Herbivore's Garden Chili
The Happy Herbivore’s Garden Chili

Servings: 2-3 (but I made 6 servings out of it)
Time: Prep 15 minutes; Cook 25 minutes


  • 2 cups vegetable broth, divided
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 green bell pepper, seeded and diced
  • 1 (15 ounce) can diced tomatoes (undrained) (I used fire-roasted low sodium diced tomatoes)
  • 1 cup sliced mushrooms
  • 2 celery stalks, sliced
  • 2 carrots, peeled and diced
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 tablespoon Vegan Worcestershire Sauce (I used gluten-free liquid smoke instead!)
    1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon yellow mustard
  • 1 (15 ounce) can pinto or kidney beans, drained and rinsed (I used organic chili beans)


Line a large pot with a thin layer of broth, and sauté onion and garlic over high heat until onion is translucent, about a minute.

Add the bell pepper, tomatoes with juice, mushrooms, celery, carrots, tomato paste, remaining broth, spices, and condiments.  Stir, cover, and bring to a boil.  Once boiling, reduce to low and simmer until the vegetables are fork-tender, about 10 minutes.  Add water or tomato sauce to make it more chili-like if necessary.  Add beans and serve.


Okay…confession…I totally missed the part where it said to cover the pot.  HAHA!  No wonder it took a little bit of time to get those vegetables fork-tender.  My total bad!  But, it still worked.  And what emerged was a fantastic spicy (but not too spicy…because the roomie didn’t even comment that her sinuses were running!) chili that celebrates vegetables.  Most vegetarian chilies seem to put so much emphasis on beans that this was, indeed, a nice change.  And serving this up with a couple slices of gluten-free and dairy-free cornbread made for one great, perfect fall meal.

It’s soup/chili season, folks!  Let’s get cooking!

Product Review: Dinner Tonight Burger Seasoning

Dinner Tonight Burger Seasoning Mix
Dinner Tonight Burger Seasoning Mix

Product: Dinner Tonight Burger Seasoning – $3.95+

Maybe it’s the “end of summer” last call in this month’s Cuisine Cube, but I was hit up with a product I couldn’t eat (Field Trip Cracked Pepper Turkey Jerky) as a vegetarian, and then, as I was eagerly pulling products out of the box…noted the burger sauce and the burger seasoning.

You’d think I would do as I did with the turkey jerky and put it in the break room as fair game for any hungry or burger-loving co-workers.  But not me.  You see, one thing I love doing is creating products in my kitchen.  And never have burgers been completely limited to meat.  Especially where I am concerned.  What I did was started to ponder what a vegetarian could create using these products meant for burgers and lo and behold…it came to me.

I decided I would create a veggie burger (using green lentils for the main source of protein) and figured I could use the Dinner Tonight Burger Seasoning Mix as I would if I had been cooking with meat.  It was brilliant.  It was…a good reason to dig out those lentils.

Last night, I donned my skull and crossbones apron and set myself to work, creating my veggie burger.  Lentils, mushrooms, and more all got cooked up, and after giving it a little mash, in went the seasoning.  I immediately loved how light and citrus-y it smelled.  It had this very bright aroma to it and I knew it was really going to elevate my veggie burger.  Happiness.  I chilled the base and after about 30 minutes, pounded out about 10 actual patties, freezing 8 of them and using two for dinner (one for me and one for the roomie!).  Some olive oil on my skillet and down went the patties.  No cheese necessary…I was topping these with Russian red kale and green tomato.

Within a couple of minutes, the burgers had a beautiful sear on them and I lifted them off the skillet and put them in the gluten-free buns (which I purchased from my local gluten-free bakery, Annie May’s Sweet Café).  Dinner was served (with a side of smashed purple potatoes!).  I topped these off with the Charleston Gourmet Burger Co. Burger Sauce (see next review!) and then…settled in to see how my own play on a veggie burger came out.

I can honestly say, thanks to the Dinner Tonight Burger Seasoning, I didn’t need to add anything more to these burgers as I formed the base.  No extra salt.  No other spices or herbs.  This was just what these lentils, mushrooms, and other veggies needed.  The seasoning itself wasn’t too strong, but you could definitely taste the variety of flavors that made up this mix.  The veggie burgers that I made with the Dinner Tonight Burger Seasoning were pure perfection…especially when it came to balancing flavors.  Brilliant.

The Dinner Tonight Burger Seasoning Mix is made from garlic, thyme, black pepper, salt, lemon zest, cayenne pepper, onion, parsley, natural lemon juice powder, sugar, and citric acid.  This mix is all natural, cholesterol free, and gluten-free.  And…it’s perfect for carnivores and herbivores alike.  Trust me.

A serving of the Dinner Tonight Burger Seasoning Mix is 1 teaspoon.  This one serving will provide you with 5 calories and less than 1 gram of fat.  You will be taking in 135 mg sodium.  Finally, this serving gives you 0 grams of protein and fiber.

Once again, Cuisine Cube provided me with a product I never would have known about or tried…but thanks to it being in my cube, I found a purpose for it.  I’m not going to let a vegetarian keep me from trying whatever I can in these boxes of happiness each month.  The jerky was one thing…but burger seasoning…hell, I can figure out a use for that!  One delicious veggie burger later, not using it with a meat base made no difference, this seasoning mix should be raved about.  Absolutely loved it.  And now, I have my first official recipe for my own cookbook.

Thank you Dinner Tonight and Cuisine Cube!