Recipe: PB&J Breakfast Bowl

It was inspired by an accidental find while strolling the streets of SoHo in Manhattan, NYC!  My roommate and I were in NYC because I was running the NYC Half Marathon…but we were going to spend a few days there and not just fly in, race, and fly out.  On one of our excursions that afternoon, we stumbled upon the Chobani Café there in SoHo.

We were curious…as we had never seen (or heard) of the Chobani Café before, but we were both fans of Chobani Greek Yogurt.  So…we stepped inside to get an idea of what it was all about.

After looking at all the amazing creations being done up in the kitchen right in front of us, we took our own look at the menu and decided to get a half size bowl of one of their breakfast bowls and have that as a snack/lunch.  We ended up deciding to try their PB&J Breakfast Bowl, which was created using Plain Chobani Yogurt, Creamy Peanut Butter, Fresh Red Grapes, Concord Gape Jelly, and topped off with Roasted Peanuts.

12888756_992042404011_5843432276491825884_o

Chobani Café PB&J Breakfast Bowl, my inspiration!

We devoured this…so, upon returning home…I decided this would be a perfect breakfast to have, especially on our gym mornings.  So…I began to recreate it.  With different versions, different flavors, and different peanut butter options.  I’ve come to love my current incarnation of it, which uses powdered peanut butter.

So, upon request from a few people, I’m putting the recipe I have worked for over a year on (and will mention variations I have tried) to perfect over and over again.

Recipe: PB&J Breakfast Bowl

17389168_10100218554972981_4420300215173819092_o

PB&J Breakfast Bowl made with Vegan Yogurt, Powdered Peanut Butter, Strawberry Jam, a mix of organic Strawberries & Blueberries, and Roasted Peanuts

Serves 1

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup plain yogurt (Greek, vegan, etc…your choice)
  • 2 tablespoons peanut butter (creamy natural or powdered)
  • 1/4 cup fruit sliced (grapes, strawberry, whole blueberries)
  • 2-3 tablespoons jam/jelly (I prefer low sugar versions and match flavors to the fruit I use…grape with grape, strawberry with strawberry, etc.)
  • 1-2 ounces roasted peanutsDirections:

    Scoop 1 cup of yogurt into a bowl.  If you are using powdered peanut butter (less fat & calories), add it here and stir well.  Otherwise…hold off on adding the peanut butter for the time being.

    Slice fruit in half and add to the bowl.

    Top with jam.  If you are using creamy peanut butter, drizzle it around the inside edge of the bowl.

    Top with peanuts.

    Devour.

    ~*~*~

    As I said, I have been making this for well over a year now, and have done so many different versions of it.  It is an amazing way to start the day.  I have used chocolate peanut butter with the strawberry jam and strawberries for a chocolate covered strawberry take and so on. So…get creative!!  That yogurt is a blank palate…so feel free to play around with it.

    Below, BTW, is the version I used to make with the natural creamy peanut butter.

    12961162_997699018111_9151458572832911705_o (1)

    Breakfast PB&J Bowl made with Vegan Yogurt, Concord Grape Jelly, Grapes, Natural Peanut Butter (NuttZo) and Roasted Peanuts

    However you decide to mix it up and fill it up…you’ll love this bowl.  So go ahead…get creative!!  And enjoy every bite.

Advertisements

Recipe: Cauliflower Rice Pad Thai

So, my roommate and I are making a few more dietary changes this year and so far it’s not been too hard to stick to.  I mean, there are days that are completely off the plan (Hello, Soft Pretzel Wednesday!)…but that’s okay.  This isn’t about perfection, it’s just about progress!

We are working on cutting down on added sugars and processed carbs.  This is not to say that we are never going to eat gluten-free pasta or use rice in dishes ever again.  And this is not to say that dessert is off the table.  I did, however, very proudly, get rid of the stash of chocolate in my office drawer.  I reached for those M&Ms one too many times while stressed out…so they are gone…and not coming back in.

Normally I have a pretty set meal plan going into the weekend, but for some reason, this past week got away from me and I just…didn’t get to it.  Not going to sugar-coat it.  SO…I decided to prep some different things and just attempt to make something a little bit healthier.

One of my favorite types of food (second to Indian) is Thai.  I love Thai food, and Thai food is so easy to make gluten free.  That being said…I didn’t have pad thai noodles on hand and I’m on a tight budget after my trip to California (like…it’s non-existent, to be honest)…so I only wanted to have to grocery shop for the essentials.  I needed filling, healthy meals on the fly…so I bought Trader Joes and Kroger out of their bags of riced cauliflower.

That is not an exaggeration.

And from it emerged 3 dishes made with riced cauliflower (not counting the ones I did earlier in the week, which I should put up in the blog…so if I get time, I will. I promise.  They’re delicious).  But this week…I was most excited about my take on pad thai…using…riced cauliflower instead of noodles.  This dish is SUPER easy to make…so I encourage you to do so!

Recipe: Cauliflower Rice Pad Thai

 

16143672_10100196817525001_694318356173316810_o

Cauliflower Rice Pad Thai

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 1 large head of cauliflower (or one bag of cauliflower rice)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 yellow onion, chopped
  • 12 oz bag frozen stir-fry vegetables
  • 1/4 cup lightly salted peanuts


Ingredients of the Peanut Sauce:

  • 1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1/3 cup Bragg’s Liquid Aminos or low-sodium Tamari
  • 3 tablespoon seasoned white vinegar
  • 1/2 tablespoon lime juice


Directions:

**Rice your head of cauliflower by chopping the florets roughly and adding them to your food processor.  Pulse the cauliflower until it resembles rice.  Then heat it up in the microwave for 7 minutes, stopping to stir it once halfway through.

**NOTE: If you want a less-mess, no maintenance way of doing this, go to Trader Joes, Kroger, Target, or pretty much ANY grocery store these days and they have bags of already riced cauliflower in their produce section and even in the freezer section.  I do this…because food processors are a pain to clean!  So, skip the first step if you cheat and get the already riced cauliflower.  At the end when you add it in with the sauce, cook it until it has softened.

Line a large skillet with a thin layer of water.

Add the garlic and onions tot he pan.  Cook for approximately 3 to 5 minutes, or until they begin to soften.  Add additional water, if necessary.

Add the frozen vegetables to the pan.  Cover the vegetables and cook for approximately 10 minutes, or until everything is heated through.  Once again, add additional water to keep things from sticking.

***While the vegetables are cooking, whisk the sauce together in a medium bowl.

***NOTE: If you aren’t feeling frisky, both San-J and Annie Chun make FANTASTIC peanut/pad thai sauces that are gluten free.  So…if making the sauce seems like too much work, just use the bottled stuff.

Once the vegetables are cooked through, add the cauliflower “rice” and peanut sauce to the pan.  Stir until well-combined.  If using bagged cauliflower rice, cook until cauliflower has softened, about 5 minutes.

Dish servings into bowls and garnish with peanuts.

ENJOY!

~*~*~

I wasn’t sure how I’d appreciate the change from actual pad thai noodles to using riced cauliflower, but it worked.  This dish was amazing.  And it’s dinner again tonight. And that’s always something to look forward to!

 

Winding Up A Windy Week

Whew.

Anyone else out there have to contend with stupid strong winds this week?  I swear, it was strong winds all week.  You know…those types of winds that, when you head out for a run, you are running into the wind…and when you turn around to come back…you are still running into the wind.

That being said, the cold temperatures have really wreaked havoc on my body.  At least, I hope it’s the cold weather…hard to say when spring weather has all but disappeared…despite being mid-April-ish!  UGH!

But that being said, there has been some amazing stuff going on this week for me too.  Sometimes it might seem mundane, but, you know…simple things make me happy, and there is nothing wrong with that.

1. My new favorite piece of kitchen gear
12920437_996462146811_1016341050316505481_n
This…is a cutting board.  This is a cutting board made by my super speedy, awesome, super-talented friend and running buddy, Dennis!!  How amazing is this?!  I love it.  I tried it out all this week, and it seriously makes me happy just to chop up my vegetables and fruits and tofu…and whatever else needed a happy bit of chopping.

Dennis, you’re super talented and I thank you so much for this gift.  Seriously, my favorite thing in the kitchen.

2. Game of Thrones
GOT-S5-Poster
Okay, so, I don’t have cable.  Nor do I have anything Apple that I could get HBO Go or whatever it was so I could watch Game of Thrones Season 5 while it was airing.  This meant, I was dodging spoilers (and still am whenever an actor from the show starts trending).  But, I purchased the Blu-Rays the other day, and have dived headlong into the season.  I’ve gotten through half of the season so far and am eager to wrap it up.  And then I need to figure out how to watch Season 6 as it airs…if possible.  Shhh…no spoilers!

3.  Cupcake of the Week

12957428_997472472111_3257918093010946888_o

Annie May’s Sweet Café Cupcake of the Week – Strawberry Shortcake Cupcake (vanilla cupcake filled with strawberry jam and topped with vanilla frosting and a fresh strawberry)

I have never been a cupcake person, but lately, Annie May’s Sweet Cafe, has been putting out a new weekly special…CUPCAKE OF THE WEEK!  And they always just sound so amazing.  I think I’ve only missed out on 2 of the weeks (once because I got a cookie, and the other because they were sold out).  But it has been my favorite thing to check out when I go in for Soft Pretzel Wednesday. It’s usually the dessert I split with my roomie that night.  A nice mid-week treat for sure.  Anyway, some of the standouts have been the “Unicorn Cupcake,” the “Strawberry Shortcake Cupcake” and the “Hot Fudge Sunday Cupcake.”  I missed the Cookie Dough one so maybe they’ll bring that one back sometime.  All allergen-free…and all have been totally yummy!!

4.  Star Wars: The Force Awakens


Are you aware that the new Star Wars came out on Blu-Ray and DVD this week?  I got the special edition at Walmart…because it had BB-8 on the cover.  Dammit, I’m such a BB-8 fangirl.  Regardless, I LOVED this movie.  And I love the new characters.  And I really love BB-8.  So, yeah, I braved Walmart and bought the Blu-Ray this past week.  I hear my Sphero BB-8 droid will react to the movie if I have him turned on and watching it when I am.  So, yeah…that’s happening.

5.  PB&J Breakfast Bowls
12961162_997699018111_9151458572832911705_o
Want to know what my latest obsession is?  Parfait bowls.  Now, I’m not new to breakfast parfaits, but this is a brand new, and SUPER good way to eat them.  And I have the Chobani Cafe in SoHo, NYC, to thank for it.  I eat this every morning after the gym.  And this coming week, with me heading out of town, this is breakfast all week.  Super easy to make:

  • 1 cup yogurt (vegan, Greek, etc.)
  • 1/4 cup grapes, sliced
  • 2 tablespoons natural grape jelly
  • 2 tablespoons peanut butter (I use NuttZo!!) #NuttZoAmbassador #NuttZoFanatic #NuttZoLove #NuttZo
  • 1 tablespoon peanuts

Place yogurt in a bowl.  Scatter grapes over yogurt.  Place the grape jelly in the center.  Place the peanut butter around the edge of the bowl.  Top off with nuts.  Enjoy!

I have done variations on this, using orange marmalade and either Smudge, Nutella, or the NuttZo chocolate versions.  Also strawberry with the chocolate Smudge, Nutella, or NuttZo is also delicious.  Want a healthy but delicious breakfast?  Make this.  You’ll thank me for it!

6.  I HAVE A ROAD BIKE!!
12986924_998353296931_4080403012516650121_n
It finally happened.  After years of talking about it.  And over a year of trying to get one for myself, but always having medical bills (hello, MRIs) to cover instead…the perfect bike finally came into my life.  Someone was selling their road bike that they hardly rode for a really good price.  Way less than what the bike was originally purchased for.  It had been sitting in her storage room.  It came with all the gadgets and gizmos.  And it is BB-8 colors, so it was truly meant to be.  I’m taking it to get fitted properly for me so I don’t do any hip damage or get injured…and then…I’m road ready.  FINALLY!!  I love this bike.  And, yes, I did name it BB-8.

How was your week?  Has the wind in your area been crazy-strong and gusty too?  What fun and exciting things do you have coming up?  Buy anything fun this week?

Product Review: WholeMe Cinnamon Banana Chip Clusters

WholeMe Cinnamon Banana Chip Clusters

WholeMe Cinnamon Banana Chip Clusters

Product: WholeMe Cinnamon Banana Chip Clusters – $7.00

One of the best parts about receiving a monthly subscription box is the products I never would have tried and/or heard of without it.  After Cuisine Cube…I needed a change.  So, I opted to get a subscription to Conscious Box, which has become Bestowed.  I love my little monthly treats and this one is affordable, and often has a blend of samples and full-size products.

I received the April box a few days ago…

And I’ve already delved into it.

This morning, I was prepping for a 6 mile run, and per the instructions of my sports nutritionist, I needed to get some fuel in my body before heading out.  So, I went to the pantry and pulled down a package of one of the products I received a full-size sample of.  It is like a granola (and we all know I love granola) and from a company called WholeMe.

WholeMe was created in 2003 by Krista Steinbach and Mary Kosir, two women who were dedicated to developing nutrient-dense, delicious, convenient foods.  Like so many of us, they were leading busy and chaotic lives.  But one thing they both took into consideration was that food has power over everyone’s daily lives and they really wanted to make eating real food delicious and convenient.  In early 2014, they launched a Kickstarter campaign and raised over $40,000 to begin WholeMe.  Their products offer a real alternative to the preservative-filled, sugar-laden snacks that infiltrate the grocery store, and then inevitably…our pantries.  They like to say, “Real food should have a limited shelf life.  Remember, food is perishable.  ours is.  And that’s why the only preservative we use is the fridge.”

So, thanks to my Bestowed Box, I now was the owner of a package of one of WholeMe’s three variety of clusters.  Their granola clusters are available in Almond Coconut, Lemon Berry Chia, and Cinnamon Banana Chip.  As luck of the draw (or in this case…box) had it, I received the Cinnamon Banana Chip.  And this morning…with 6 miles needed at 3:30 a.m…I needed to get some fuel before heading out.  Without any extra sugars, I thought this might be a nice thing to munch on while I got dressed and ready to stretch and warm up.

I’m not sure what I was expecting, but when I opened it up and reached inside, snagging a few crumbly clusters of the chocolate-y looking snack, I wasn’t expecting to see real banana chips scattered throughout the blend.  I love banana chips.  Always have.  So, yeah, this made me so happy!  The only real chocolate in this, by the way, is the smattering of cocoa nibs inside the mix.  I figured to give it a go, and I popped the handful in my mouth…

…and was immediately hooked.

In fact, I went back for some more and then went and finished getting ready for my run.  It’s sweet, without being overly sweet.  It tastes mostly of banana.  The cinnamon is nice for the flavor, but it doesn’t overwhelm the rest of the product.  In a word…these clusters are freakin’ amazing.  Out of this world.  And GOOD FOR YOU!!  They are soft and have great texture.  Especially if you get a bit with a banana chip in it.  Yummy!  The bits of chocolate add just enough sweetness to keep the flavor interesting.  And everything inside these clusters…is made from real food.  Real food!  I love eating real food.  With a blend of nuts, seeds, natural sweeteners, and an appropriate hit of salt, cinnamon, and maca…this snack blend is a real treat…no guilt.

It is perfect for…as the back of the bag reads:

“What’s in it for Me?  The watch-what-I-eat Me.  The work-out-addict Me.  The grain-free Me.  The paleo Me.  The give-me-something-good-to-eat Me.  The diabetic Me.  The gluten-free Me.  No matter which Me you happen to be, WholeMe is determined to provide genuine, delicious, convenient foods.  Food that makes all of Me (you) happy.”

So, if it’s so good for you, let’s take a look at these natural and real ingredients that go into a package of WholeMe Cinnamon Banana Chip Clusters, shall we?  This granola mix is made from banana chips (bananas, coconut oil), honey, pecans, coconut, almonds, dried bananas, coconut oil, sunflower seeds, pure maple syrup, cocoa nibs, vanilla extract, cinnamon, salt, and maca.  This blend is grain-free, gluten-free, naturally sweetened, paleo, nutrient-dense, preservative-free, soy-free, and non-GMO.  It is all natural goodness, for sure!

So, with that in mind, it’s time to take a look at the nutrition facts for the WholeMe Cinnamon Banana Chip Clusters.  A serving size of the clusters is 1/3 cup (28 grams).  There are 8 servings per package.  A serving will serve you up 133 calories, 10 grams fat, 5 grams saturated fat, 0  grams trans fat, 1 gram polyunsaturated fat, 2 grams monounsaturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 67 mg sodium, 11 grams carbohydrates, 2 grams fiber, 8 grams sugars, and 2 grams protein.  Not too bad for something that you can eat as cereal, by the handful, or as a topping to yogurt or ice cream.  Seriously…options are endless.

I haven’t seen this in stores anywhere in my area, and it looks like it is mostly available in Minnesota (where WholeMe is based out of).  That being said, there is an online store…which I will definitely be hitting up in the near future.  With real food that is really good…why wouldn’t I?  This is right in my wheelhouse…and definitely gave me adequate and perfect fueling for my run.

Product Review: Van’s Gluten Free Banana Nut Granola Clusters

Van's Gluten Free Banana Nut Granola Clusters

Van’s Gluten Free Banana Nut Granola Clusters

Product: Van’s Gluten Free Banana Nut Granola Clusters – $5.99+

One of my favorite, favorite, favorite things to have to eat before heading out to my morning spin class (like 5:30 a.m. start time for class) is something as simple as yogurt, fruit, and a little granola.  It isn’t too heavy to make me feel…BLEH (technical term, yes!)…while spinning out to awesome music and getting my sweat on, but it does give me enough fuel in the tank to not pass out or run out of gas during the workout itself.  And…it’s refreshing…and delicious.

So, when I randomly bought strawberries this past week at the grocery store (they looked good and I really wanted them), I randomly needed to get granola to go with it.  I have an abundance of yogurts (vegan and otherwise) in my fridge for my roomie and I at all times.  But granola…not so much anymore.  I’ve just been trying other breakfast stuff…like Gluten Free NY-Style Bagels and all that.

That being said, this was necessary this week, for sure.  And while out and about on Saturday doing our very random grocery shopping at at least 5 different stores (NO JOKE!), I was on the hunt for a granola that wasn’t too high in sugars and that would pair nicely with strawberries.  I opted for one brand, and then quickly changed my mind when I spotted the Van’s Foods granola in the gluten-free section of said store.

I’ve only had one other version of the Van’s Gluten Free Granola Clusters, but what I loved about it was the soft and chewy nature of it.  So, back went the original brand I had scooped up…hello to one of the newest additions to the Van’s Gluten Free Granola Clusters lineup.  The flavor…Banana Nut.

I am a runner…a marathon runner.  This means I have this special place in my heart for banana.  Banana bread (gluten-free of course), banana cookies, bananas with peanut butter, banana chips…and yes…straight up banana.  Banana is my pre-long run eats.  So, anything banana makes me one happy girl.  No question about it…I wanted to try this granola.

And I have been totally devouring it and enjoying it all weekend.  Like the other granola clusters that they sell, Van’s Gluten Free Banana Nut Granola Clusters are…really more one large mass of granola, rather than individual clusters.  But that’s fine.  The massive chunk of granola does break apart easily, making for easy sprinkling over yogurt or whatever.  It also makes for good pinching material for stealing snacks between meals, before eating, or just…because.  I love the soft and chewy texture of this granola, because while I do love granola with a crunch, this texture just pairs well with…everything.  And I can eat it quietly and not feel like I might wake up my roommate simply by chewing.  What I do love about this granola is how the banana flavoring doesn’t overwhelm or overpower the actual granola itself.  This makes it perfect for pairing with anything…oatmeal, yogurt, fruit, smoothies, ice cream, etc.  Oh yeah…it’s amazing.  There are bits of nuts included in the clusters as well.  It’s a delicious way to start your day…or end your day…or to have throughout the day.  And I don’t feel bad about snacking on this…because Van’s takes pride in the ingredients they use and the nutritional worth of their products.  It’s a win either way.  Definitely a win when banana is involved.

So, let’s take a look at the ingredients that are used in put together the Van’s Gluten Free Banana Nut Granola Clusters, shall we?  As I stated, Van’s uses ingredients that they are proud of.  For this variety of their Granola Clusters, Van’s includes gluten free whole oats, brown rice syrup, invert cane syrup, cane sugar, non-GMO expeller pressed canola oil, unsweetened coconut, pecans, honey, flax seed, gluten free oat bran, almonds, natural flavors, salt, walnuts, vitamin E tocopherols (for freshness).  Gluten-free, vegan, and made with whole grains.  Gotta love that.

Now let’s look at the nutritional information of the Van’s Gluten Free Banana Nut Granola Clusters.  A serving of this granola is 1/3 cup (30 grams).  This serving will provide you with 120 calories, 5 grams fat, 1 gram saturated fat, 0 grams trans fat, 1 gram polyunsaturated fat, 1.5 grams monounsaturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 25 mg sodium, 19 grams carbohydrates, 2 grams fiber, 6 grams sugars, and 2 grams protein.  Deliciously well-rounded, balanced, and not too bad on the nutrition.  I like that this brand keeps added sugar levels low.  Some granola has double digit sugars in a serving.

Van’s Gluten Free products have always impressed me and been amazing.  I love the soft and chewy texture of their granola clusters.  And the Van’s Gluten Free Banana Nut Clusters is definitely a new favorite.  This package is almost empty…so I think another trek out to purchase more is a must.

If you haven’t tried Van’s Gluten Free Granola Clusters…make a point to do so.  It will change your granola-loving mind forever!!

 

Product Review: Heidi Ho Organics Ne Chevre Pure Live Culture Cashew Cheeze

003

Heidi Ho Organics Ne Chevre Pure Live Culture Cream Cheeze

Product: Heidi Ho Organics Ne Chevre Pure Live Culture Cashew Cheeze – $7.99+

Not surprisingly, one of the things I miss the most is real…actual…cheese.  My lactose intolerance has not only gotten worse over the past year, but it makes indulging in things like cheese…virtually impossible anymore.  The same goes for ice cream, but, I sometimes try and pray that the lactase enzyme supplements help (sometimes they do…more often than not…they don’t).  But cheese and I don’t really get along at all these days.

Which sucks.

Mightily.

But then…by magical happenstance (perhaps rainbow unicorn pixie dust)…one day while “just browsing” at Whole Foods, I stumbled upon Heidi Ho Organics, which was apparently featured on Shark Tank and has really made a name for itself in the vegan cheese market.  I figure there must be a vegan cheese markets.  Vegans love cheese too…they just don’t eat it. But, obviously, they want to…because vegan cheese is made.  And consumed.  A lot.

Heidi Ho was created by Heidi K. Lovig, a fanatic about farm-to-table dining, sustainability, seasonal menus, and buying local.  This vegan chef honed in on her skills during her time living on the Big Island of Hawaii in a sustainable community where she managed an eco hostel and farm.  She trained with vegans and raw foodies from around the world, thus developing a deeper connection to the ingredients she uses in her cooking.  Lovig moved to Portland a few years ago and began training at Le Cordon Bleu to obtain her degree in Culinary Arts.  With a focus on local, organic, and sustainable practices, she turned her attention to the environmental issues humans have created due to food supply structures and our current system of distribution.  At her side is Lyssa M. Story, “the Boss” at Heidi Ho.  She runs the show and is the brains behind every facet of its operations.  From HR to business plans and projections, to law, licensing, accounting, banking, money, organization, and keeping Chef Heidi on track.  Story has an extensive background in the food and beverage industry, and attended the Western Culinary Institute Le Cordon Bleu, where she received an Associates degree in Occupational Studies – Hospitality and Restaurant Management. Story was raised on the standard American diet, which, over time, jeopardized her health.  At the age of 22, she began a plant based and whole foods diet.

So, these two ladies set out to create delicious plant-based cheezes using ingredients that are healthier for their consumers…as well as the planet.  Hedi Ho is the future of cheese – aiming to be the cheese that creates change.  They take great pride in the values they uphold in their company and products.  They sell cheeze that is superior in flavor and quality over the rest on the market.

Guess what…they succeed.  The introduction of this plant-based comfort food is a game changer for vegans out there.  They say on their Web site that their Ne Chevre Pure Live Culture Cashew Cheeze  is “a delicious live culture cashew cheeze made from simple plant-based ingredients.  It’s like goat cheese without the goat.”  In fact, Ne Chevre means “No Goat” in French.  So…that’s really straight forward.  HAHA!

IMG_20160325_071501[1]

Heidi Ho Organics Ne Chevre Pure Live Culture Cashew Cheeze on a Sweet Note Gluten Free Tomato Basil Bagel


The Heidi Ho Organics Ne Chevre Pure Live Cultures Cashew Cheese is a fantastic spreadable cheese that would be perfect for crackers, or sprinkled over salads, or even just spread across a savory gluten-free bagel (which is what I did with it!  Oh, and then later did it again, topping it with marinara and dried basil for bagel pizzas…oh yeah!).  Who needs vegan cream cheese when you can spread a non-goat goat cheese over something packed with tomato and basil flavors, right?  A great product to pair with white wines, grapes, walnuts and spicy jams, this is a versatile and crazy-good spread.  I loved the texture (creamy, not gritty) and the wow-power of the flavor (not as strong as goat cheese, but bringing this powerful flavor that mimics goat cheese).  Seriously, this would be good in just about anything.  Maybe even subbing it for ricotta cheese in lasagnas or such.  I know, for me, it upped my bagel game to 11.  Heidi Ho Organics may have created the Spinal Tap of vegan cheese here.  I honestly loved the sharp, tangy and creamy mouthfeel that came with each bite of this cheese.  It had a bit of a salty flavor, but it didn’t distract from the flavor of the cheese itself.  Beyond impressed!!  No surprise though, as I fell in love first with the Heidi Ho Organics Ne Chevre Lava Cheeze (which I thought I reviewed, but didn’t), and the Heidi Ho Organics Creamy Chia Cheeze Sauce and the Spicy Chia Cheeze Sauce (also didn’t review that one…what is wrong with me??!)

So…now that I’ve went on and on and on with how (honestly) fantastic the Heidi Ho Organics Ne Chevre Pure Live Culture Cashew Cheeze is…let’s take a look at what makes it that way.  I absolutely adore an ingredient list that has ingredients that I, not only recognize, but also can pronounce.  The Heidi Ho Organics Ne Chevre Pure Live Culture Cashew Cheeze is made from organic cashews, water, sea salt, organic lemon, live cultures, nutritional yeast, and citric acid.  All Heidi Ho vegan cheeses are organic, gluten-free, vegan, non-GMO, low in sodium, and low in fat (although they taste like they are SO fattening…so you gotta love that little added bonus!).

Speaking of which, how about these nutritional facts?!  A serving of the Heidi Ho Organics Ne Chevre Pure Live Culture Cashew Cheeze is 1 ounce (28 grams…or about 1 tablespoon).  This serving will provide you with 80 calories, 6 grams of fat, 1 gram saturated fat, 0 grams trans fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 40 mg sodium, 4 grams carbohydrates, 0 grams fiber, 1 gram sugars, and 3 grams of protein.

I have now tried (but apparently need to blog about two of them) the four (4) versions of Heidi Ho Organics products that my Whole Foods currently carries.  And I am absolutely enamored with them.  They are a bit pricey, but you do get what you pay for.  Heidi Ho Organics definitely delivers a delicious, amazing, and high quality product.  I’m beyond impressed.

Also…it’s already gone…

I am not ashamed.

Product Review: Schär Gluten Free Hazelnut Croissants

schar

Schär Gluten Free Hazelnut Croissants

Product: Schär Gluten Free Hazelnut Croissants – $5.99+

Let’s face it…when it comes to gluten-free breakfast (or dinner or whenever) treats…one of the most difficult to find is the croissant.  And I used to be a sucker for the warm, buttery, flaky little roll of baked dough.  Croissants simply…rock.

Going gluten-free, I’ve pretty much been able to find a recipe or something to satisfy any void in any treat that I want.  Puff pastry is the tricky one.  At least puff pastry that acts like puff pastry.  The recipe is WAY too complicated and the one I purchased in stores doesn’t exactly…puff.

Croissants have also been rather elusive.  Granted, my gluten-free bakery, Annie May’s Sweet Café, does offer croissant rolls…and I purchase them around Thanksgiving every year as they are my Black Friday breakfast (filling and full of carbs for shopping energy!).  It is the one time every year that I get to enjoy that special treat.  (As a side note, I could order these from my allergen-free bakery at any point…but there are so many goodies there…I have to pace myself, LOL!).

But then Schär filled this void recently with the introduction of their frozen croissants.  I was excited when they made the announcement, also noting that they had two (2) different versions – Plain and Hazelnut.  And for the longest time, I searched my usual gluten-free go-to stores for these.  But, no joy.  No one carried them.  I figured they would be the unicorn of my gluten-free life…sort of like Rudi’s Gluten Free Texas Toast (still haven’t found that anywhere).

It took one of my trips to Columbus, Ohio, to finally find these.  In the freezer section.  Happy dance ensued.  Thank you, Raisin Rack, for your extreme awesomeness and LARGE gluten-free selection.  This made my day.  And I purchased them, the Hazelnut ones, put them in a cooler with dry ice, and got them home and to my freezer.  Where I promptly forgot about them…as I just piled other things on top.

But, when my freezer begged for some organizing this past weekend, I discovered the bag all the way in the back and I moved it forward…because these were going to happen this week.  For sure.  And what better day to test them out than a Wednesday after a 4 mile run and 20 mile spin class?  Yep…no better time.

I left the bag of croissants out on the counter to thaw while I was at the gym, and when I got back, I preheated the oven to 350°F and removed the Schär Gluten Free Hazelnut Croissants from the package and moved them to a baking sheet.  They went into the oven for about 7-8 minute (around 10-12 in my old-ass oven that doesn’t heat right)…giving me time to shower while they cooked.  When I removed them from the oven, they were golden brown and looking like…amazing, beautiful, perfect, croissants.  I moved them to plates and served them up for breakfast.

My roommate got to hers first (I was pouring myself coffee…because…priorities).  I asked her what she thought and she said, “They’re pretty good.”  Now, with her, that means they are either good…or they aren’t so good, but they are edible.  And I never know which way it goes until I try it myself.  At least she didn’t say, “They’re okey-dokey,” because that, friends, means she hates them…and is just being polite.  I settled in with the morning news, my laptop, my Wonder Woman coffee mug (now filled with piping hot, fresh coffee) and my plate with my own Schär Gluten Free Hazelnut Croissant on it.  I sliced into it with the side of my fork tines, and then, stabbing the flaky (and yes…it actually was flaky) pastry with it…took my first taste.

When I think about croissants, I think of this flaky, rich, buttery breakfast goodie.  And Schär definitely provided the rolled up pastry form.  As for taste, it was airy, and not as dense as I had thought they would be.  That was a nice surprise.  I was a little disappointed with the lack of the hazelnut filling in each bite, but, I sort of figured that would be the case.  I was just hoping I’d be wrong.  The croissant itself…buttery flavor in every bite.  Which, if you managed to get a bite with at least a little of the filling…it was indeed heavenly.  The hazelnut (like Nutella) filling was chocolate-nutty goodness and I was digging for more.  But filling or not, these weren’t dense…but they were definitely filling.  Small…much smaller than I anticipated…but filling.  It made for a good treat for breakfast for sure.  Not nearly as amazing as the ones Annie May’s Sweet Café provides for me each holiday season…but lighter and flakier than those…and ranking right up there.  For a frozen product, this was love at second bite (the second bite had some of the hazelnut filling, for the record).

Let’s talk about ingredients for a moment.  Because, at first glance, what goes into Schär Gluten Free Hazelnut Croissants might…scare you.  My mind was put to ease awhile back with an article discussing Schär’s use of gluten free wheat starch.  Yep, you read that right.  GLUTEN. FREE. WHEAT. STARCH.  If you have a wheat allergy…DO NOT EAT THESE!!  I was mostly concerned as I am very sensitive…but no affects on me whatsoever in regards to a gluten reaction.  So, that’s a win.  The Schär Gluten Free Hazelnut Croissants are made from gluten free wheat starch, water, vegetable margarine [vegetable fats and oils (palm, palm kernel, coconut, canola), water, salt, mono- and diglycerides, butter flavor], hazelnut
cream (sugar, canola oil, hazelnuts, skimmed cocoa powder, skimmed milk powder, whey (milk) powder, lactose, sunflower, lecithin), eggs, yeast, chicory fiber, dextrose, fructose, glucono delta-lactone, baking soda, egg albumin, skimmed milk powder, sugar, salt, mono- and diglycerides, xanthan gum, and butter flavor.  Believe me…these croissants ARE gluten-free.

As far as nutrition goes…let’s face it…it’s a croissant.  These aren’t going to be packed with a wide array of nutrients.  But it is nice to have a treat every now and again.  The serving size of the Schär Gluten Free Hazelnut Croissants is one (1) croissant and there are four (4) in each package.  This serving will dish up 240 calories, 10 grams fat, 4.5 grams saturated fat, 0 grams trans fat, 10 mg cholesterol, 160 mg sodium, 34 grams carbohydrates, 3 grams fiber, 7 grams sugars, and 2 grams of protein.  Yep…I admit…there are far better choices for a breakfast out there, but dammit, sometimes you just need to treat yourself.

I was surprised by the flavor, the texture, and with the overall deliciousness of the Schär Gluten Free Hazelnut Croissants.  I wish they had more filling than they did, but aside from that, each bite was heavenly and totally worth the indulgence.  Love sometimes comes in packages that are in your natural food store freezer.  Impressed.