Product Review: Modern Oats Apple Walnut Oatmeal

Modern Oats Apple Walnut Oatmeal
Modern Oats Apple Walnut Oatmeal

Product: Modern Oats Apple Walnut Oatmeal – $3.50+

It feels like a frozen tundra outside, so my favorite things to eat right now are warm, hearty, and comforting.  This includes casseroles, soups, and yes…oatmeal.  And while I’ve been preparing refrigerated overnight oats since…the weather warmed up, I guess…when the windchill dips down and makes the air hurt my face, the last thing I want is cold meal.  I don’t mind…but once I’m chilled, I’m chilled to the bone.  So something that is warming is always welcome.

And, it seems like I’m on a current oatmeal kick.  And who, honestly, can blame me.  There is nothing better in life than a steaming bowl of gluten-free oatmeal.  I’ll take it flavored or plain or with fruit or nuts or however.  As long as it tastes good, you have won me over.  Seriously.  Growing up I hated oatmeal.  I think it was a texture thing…and the fact that my dad would overcook it so it got lumpy and just…meh.  And I upheld that I disliked oatmeal up until a few years ago.  I started bringing in little packets with me to work for lunch.  They were perfect.  And they weren’t all bad.  Some where.  I won’t lie.  But I discovered some that were actually rather tasty.

And then…BAM…the diagnosis of being a Celiac.  I could find gluten-free oatmeal at my natural food stores…but I was having a hard time finding decent ones that wouldn’t break my already very fragile (and about to get more expensive) budget.  I purchased some, for sure, but eventually just moved onto making overnight oats with almond milk, gluten-free rolled oats, chia seeds, honey, fruit, cinnamon and Greek yogurt.  It was easy to make and really tasty.  But, when winter kicks you in the teeth…you fight back with heat, yes?  I know I do.

Back in August, my Cuisine Cube featured quite a few products that I’m still getting to try.  I travel a lot, so sometimes this means things get put into my pantry and I get to them…when I get to them.  And as I am sent a new box of goodies each month by Cuisine Cube…I sometimes get a bit backlogged.  But…this is not a complaint.  I always get to a product in the end.  I know I’ve talked a lot recently about Cuisine Cube, but let me share some more with why I love this service so much.  For a small fee (ranging from $34.99 (1 month) to $29.99 (six months)), a perfect cube filled with small business and lesser-known gluten-free products will be delivered to your door.  It’s yours to enjoy and then…do all over again the following month.  I love this because it is giving me the opportunity to try products and brands that I never heard of or would know about otherwise.  Sometimes the items come from local bakeries…and sometimes they might be something you have seen at a natural food store, but isn’t a widespread gluten-free corporate giant for sure.  It’s nice to try full-size (not sample sizes) products that are new to me or that I am unfamiliar with.  Every month, it’s like Christmas all over again.  At least 5-6 products in every Cube…and I never know what to expect inside.

I was very lucky to have not gotten through some items I received back in August because it meant with the cooler weather, I now had a warm treat for lunch.  And that treat was Modern Oats Apple Walnut Oatmeal.  I was not familiar at all with Modern Oats, so I was pretty excited to have a new gluten-free oatmeal to try.  Modern Oats was founded in 2013 with the simple goal of changing people’s perception of ‘old fashioned’ oatmeal.  You know…people like me…who either disliked or felt that oatmeal was boring.  They decided to only work with small farm, non-GMO, gluten-free rolled oats.  They next began to craft artisanal, delicious blends of fruits, nuts and seeds to produce the perfect, healthy, modern meal that can be enjoyed anytime…anywhere.  It’s a modern take on fast food…only better for you!

Modern Oats offers six varieties of their oatmeal.  The Cuisine Cube contained a single container of the Modern Oats Apple Walnut Oatmeal.  I love everything about this flavor.  I love apples.  I love walnuts.  Therefore…this should be a WIN with me, yes?!  Well…only one way to find out.

It’s Thursday and I’m rushing to get things done at the office before heading to Charleston, South Carolina this weekend.  YAY!!  Vacation.  A very short vacation, but a vacation.  The more I can be at my desk, working on what needs to be done, the better.  And the easy and quick preparation for this oatmeal definitely made it the best thing to bring with me this week.  Nothing could be easier.  Give the little container a shake, then pour boiling water over all the oats so they are covered.  Then, cover the container and allow it to sit for 3 minutes.  Uncover, stir, and devour.  Easy-peasy!  And quick.  I let mine steep and cook up while I got some work done.  And when the three minute time window was up…it was lunch time.  Sort of.  I might have added too much water…so I let it sit for another 2 minutes.  THEN…it was lunch time.

One bite.  And at first…I wasn’t too sure.  What I did notice was that it wasn’t abundantly sweet, despite containing 17 grams of sugar.  I’m assuming that some of that is the dried fruit.  At least…that’s what I am hoping.  On my second bite…I got it.  I mean, I really got it.  I had a little bit of everything.  The oats…the nuts…the seeds…the fruit…it was one magical bite.  I loved the different textures that were prevelant throughout the entire container.  This made each bite different from the one that came before it.  And that, my friends, is a fantastic thing.  I love that it wasn’t too sweet…nor was it bland.  And the best part was…it didn’t turn to mush.  Not at all.  The oats stayed al dente…in a good way…the nuts and fruits brought their own flavors and textures…and it was just one great bite after another.  I ended up eating this way faster than I usually would.  I liked it.  I liked it a lot.  I’m even happy to overlook the astounding (for oatmeal) calorie count, under the impression that much of that comes from the naturally good for you seeds and nuts that are inside.  Oh yeah…this was a big win!  And SO easy to make too!  Shake, pour, wait, devour!

Let’s discuss what goes into Modern Oats Apple Walnut Oatmeal.  This oatmeal is made from certified gluten-free whole grain rolled oats, organic cane sugar, walnuts, flax seeds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, dried apples, golden raisins, chia seeds, cinnamon, and natural flavors.  Real ingredients.  And while the second ingredient is sugar…not bad as to what all goes into it.  And, as a bonus, these ingredients are non-GMO.  This oatmeal, in addition to being gluten-free, is also cholesterol free and sodium free.

As for nutritional information, I will preface this by saying I was a little reluctant to dive into a small container that would give me over 300 calories for my lunch.  I’m not used to that.  But, I had to tell myself to remember that what I am eating is all-natural and real food.  A lot of these calories were coming from healthy ingredients, like the seeds, fruits, and nuts.  So…with that in mind, I hesitated no longer.  A serving of the Modern Oats Apple Walnut Oatmeal is 1 container.  This serving provides you with 310 calories and 7 grams of fat.  Much of that fat content will be the naturally healthy kind that you find in nuts.  This serving, however, does dish up a whopping 17 grams of sugar.  YIKES!  I’m trying to cut back on my sugar intake, so I’m chalking this figure up to the dried fruits…despite that second ingredient being organic cane sugar.   I am thinking positively.  One container of these oats will also serve up 7 grams of fiber and 9 grams of protein.  Oh yeah…you’ll definitely feel full after eating this!

For the record, of the six flavors (Apple Walnut, 5 Berry, Goji Blueberry, Mango Blackberry, Chocolate Cherry, and Nuts and Seeds), the calories range between 250-310, depending on the variety you choose to feast on.

I love finding out what products Cuisine Cube has discovered and decided were worth to share with those of us who subscribe.  This little container from Modern Oats boasted big flavors and big promise.  It is one mighty meal indeed, and you will feel satiated and warmed all the way through.  Nicely done, Cuisine Cube.  Now, I have yet another gluten-free oatmeal option…and that is no bad thing!  If you can’t find Modern Oats at any of your local stores, you can certainly order online!

Modern Oats Apple Walnut Oatmeal (prepared)
Modern Oats Apple Walnut Oatmeal (prepared)

Product Review: Love Grown Foods Strawberry Raspberry Hot Oats

Love Grown Foods Strawberry Raspberry Hot Oats
Love Grown Foods Strawberry Raspberry Hot Oats

Product: Love Grown Foods Strawberry Raspberry Hot Oats – $1.50+

Another day has dawned, and in true fashion, I am having oatmeal for lunch.  Like I said, not a workday goes by where I don’t enjoy oats in some way, shape or form for my lunch.  Normally it’s in the form of overnight oats, but I’m working on a strict budget while I pay off the holidays…and I have plenty of goodies stashed in my pantry that have been just…waiting…and waiting for their turn to be consumed.

That week has arrived as I’m not only on a tight budget, but I’m heading out of town.  Therefore…it’s the perfect week to try new things, yes?  Because nothing adds stress to preparing for a trip like…loading up the blog!  HA!

Ah…in the end, it’s worth it.  I’m just hoping I can maintain the momentum and stay caught up.  We shall see.

All of that being said, it’s Wednesday…and it’s lunch time.  Instead of a package of my usual Chex Gluten Free Oatmeal (hey…it is always on sale!), I’m pulling out the other options from the top shelf of the pantry.  And up today…none other than Love Grown Foods Strawberry Raspberry Hot Oats.

I’m not going to lie…I sort of wish I had saved the Peach Almond Vanilla version I hate yesterday for today…because it has become my absolute favorite oatmeal…ever…of any brand…of any type…as of yesterday.  I was beyond impressed and wowed by it.  But, I also love berries, so I’m holding the Love Grown Foods Strawberry Raspberry Hot Oats to live up to it’s predecessor.  I have no doubt it will wow me.  I have yet to find something from Love Grown Foods that hasn’t done just that.

Preparation is super easy.  Everything I did yesterday, I repeated today.  At lunch, I pulled out the little container of oatmeal and removed the lid and the seal.  I then added water up to the fill line (which…is located on the outside of the container, not the inside, which means I do a lot of guessing…but it’s worked out thus far) and gave it a stir.  Into the microwave it went for 70 seconds.  It says to microwave for a minute and then add on 10-20 seconds for a thicker oatmeal.  I split the difference.  Another stir and then I let it stand for…about a minute.  It absorbs everything in the 1-2 minutes it sits…and believe me…I wanted to let it sit for 2 minutes, but I was hungry and it smelled so good.

Berries and oatmeal are BFFs.  Seriously.  I have never turned my nose up at any oatmeal that included either dried or fresh fruits.  The hit of sweetness just meshes beautifully with the savory, rich oats.  And, for that reason, I know that this little container was going to be amazing.  I was right.  I sort of wish I had saved the Peach Almond Vanilla one for today though…because this one just doesn’t quite equal the one I devoured yesterday for breakfast.  But now I’m comparing different flavors and that’s not fair.  Because this is a classic (and highly) delicious paring.  I love how sweet the berries are…strawberries and raspberries offer up a natural sweetness and then…this little hint of cinnamon follows up each spoonful.  It’s refreshing and warm and hearty and filling and just…perfection.  Seriously.  I loved how thick this oatmeal is because it does fill me up.  I don’t feel hungry for much of the rest of the day.  It’s amazing.  Most oatmeal doesn’t come close to accomplishing that at all.  I have nothing but love for Love Grown Foods and their little containers of Hot Oats.  If you love fruit and berries as much as me…then this one is totally for you!

Let’s discuss ingredients, shall we?  The Love Grown Foods Strawberry Raspberry Hot Oats are made from gluten-free oats, brown sugar, freeze-dried raspberries, freeze-dried strawberries, and cinnamon.  Loving the small ingredient list for sure.  These oats are also cholesterol free, gluten free and non-GMO.

As for nutrition, a serving of the Love Grown Foods Strawberry Raspberry Hot Oats is one container.  This serving will dish up 230 calories and 3.5 grams of fat.  This is actually higher than most the the oatmeal I consume, calorie-wise, but it really isn’t bad for the amount of oats you actually cook up.  A serving will also give you 0 mg sodium and 12 grams of sugar.  Much of the sugar seems to be due to the dried fruits, which is fine.  And, trust me, these hot oats will fill you up because they pack a whopping 5 grams of fiber and 7 grams of protein!  Talk about loving it!

One thing I love about Love Grown Foods is not only their passion for their ingredients and their products, but their mission to create delicious foods that are packed with nutritional benefits and available to everyone.  They have made it a point to educate not only children, but also parents and teachers on the importance of eating healthy.  That’s why, Love Grown Foods keeps ingredients simple, flavors elevated, and their products healthy.  They have a fantastic line of granola (or oat clusters…which I LOVE…and, yes, I have tried them all!), Super Oats (I haven’t tried these yet…but want to!), and Power O’s (breakfast cereals…which I also haven’t tried yet, but certainly want to!).  With all of these options, it’s hard to make excuses for not having a filling, healthy breakfast (or lunch…or dinner!).

Love Grown Foods is definitely doing something right.  It’s rare for me to LOVE everything that I try from a company, but, seriously, they keep hitting it out of the park.  Not only do their products fill me up physically, but they are nutritious and healthy, and I love that.  I love feeling good about the food I am eating.  I can’t wait to try the products I either haven’t purchased yet or discovered yet.  And…I still have one more flavor of the Hot Oats to try (Apple Cinnamon), as soon as I pick it up from the grocery store!

And trust me…that’s happening for sure!!  DELICIOUS!

Love Grown Foods Strawberry Raspberry Hot Oats
Love Grown Foods Strawberry Raspberry Hot Oats (prepared)

Product Review: Love Grown Foods Peach Vanilla Almond Hot Oats

Love Grown Foods Peach Almond Vanilla Hot Oats
Love Grown Foods Peach Almond Vanilla Hot Oats

Product: Love Grown Foods Peach Vanilla Almond Hot Oats – $1.50+

Gluten-Free oatmeal is a way of life for me.  I know this sounds really over-the-top and dramatic, but it’s true.  Every single work day, I have something that is comprised of gluten-free oats.  Be it a package of gluten-free oatmeal or some version of overnight oats…lunch has been oatmeal (and oatmeal only) for the past two to three years.  With all the varieties out there, and all the ways oats can be dressed up and flavored, I really don’t get tired of it.  Besides, it is filling and nutritious too.

One of my favorite gluten-free companies came out with little tubs of gluten-free oatmeal awhile back. Once I was able to find them at my local stores, I tried the one that appealed to me the most: the Blueberry Banana Walnut Hot Oats.  I fell in love with them.  And then I vowed to get more.  I just…never did.

Until recently, when I found a couple of flavors on the Manager’s Special shelf at my local grocery store.  Gluten-free products on Manager’s Special means…they come home with me.  Especially when it’s from a brand I already love and trust.

My relationship with Love Grown Foods began with their granola.  OH. MY. GOD.  Their granola (every single flavor of it!) is some of the best gluten-free granola out on the market.  Then, they began expanding their line of products to include hot oats, then super oats, and finally a line of cereal as well.  They are growing and expanding…and this is only a good thing.  Because Love Grown Foods prides itself on putting out quality and healthy products.

They also have a huge focus on breakfast…healthy breakfasts.  The products they have out on the market definitely promote this passion they share.

The Love Grown Foods Peach Almond Vanilla Hot Oats are so easy to prepare.  Simply remove the lid and seal and fill with water to the fill line.  Give it a stir and then microwave it for 60 seconds.  Add an additional 10-20 seconds if you like a thicker consistency.  Then, let it sit for 1-2 minutes.  That’s it.  Then you can dive in.  So easy.

So I let it sit for 1 minute because the added 10 seconds I gave the cook time seemed to take away most of the water anyway.  And it was sheer oat perfection.  Seriously.  The Love Grown Foods Peach Almond Vanilla Hot Oats cook up into a smooth, rich, and thick bowl of oatmeal.  It was heaven on a spoon and warm going down. Perfect for these cold days.  Even more, there was a nice balance of flavor.  I had actually hesitated on purchasing the peach one, because, so often, the peach flavor dominates.  I love peaches…but I don’t want it to overtake everything else in my meal.  The vanilla and flavor of almonds balances out the sweetness of the peaches.  And it makes for the ultimate, warming, hearty bite…all the way to the very end.  There is just the right hit of sweetness thanks to the brown sugar and, so that it isn’t bland either.  And the little chunks of almonds just give it a little depth in the texture to keep it interesting.  It is amazing.  Pure and simple.  It is love.  This little unassuming microwave bowl exceeded every expectation I had for my lunch today.  And it made me really reconsider shunning peach flavored things in the near future.  I should have known never to doubt products put out by Love Grown Foods.  This one was a total win!

Let’s talk ingredients, shall we?  The Love Grown Foods Peach Almond Vanilla Hot Oats are made from gluten-free oats, brown sugar, freeze-dried peaches, almonds, vanilla, and cinnamon.  That’s it.  Simple.  Nutritious.  Healthy.  Amazing.  These are gluten-free and dairy free and also non-GMO.

As for nutrition, a serving is one tub of the Love Grown Foods Peach Almond Vanilla Hot Oats.  This little basin of goodness will deliver 240 calories and 4 grams of fat.  These oats contain no cholesterol or sodium.  LOVE it.  In addition, a serving gives you 12 mg of sugar, of which some of it comes from the fruit that is inside.  You also get 5 grams of filling fiber and 7 grams of protein.  You will definitely feel full upon eating this little tub of oat-y goodness.

I was beyond elated to spoon up each bite of this amazing little dish today.  I have to applaud Love Grown Foods for their dedication to quality products.  It’s for this reason I continue to stock my pantry with their oats and their granola.  Honestly…they have yet to let me down and I’m starting to believe it won’t happen.  It comes down to this…food is love…and I love these oats.  Total win with the Peach Almond Vanilla Hot Oats.  Now…to go stock up on more!

Love Grown Foods Peach Almond Vanilla Hot Oats (prepared)
Love Grown Foods Peach Almond Vanilla Hot Oats (prepared)

Product Review: Lisa Harris Pantry’s Gluten Free Apple Quinoa Morning Sunshine Breakfast Cookie

Lisa Harris Pantry's Gluten Free Apple Cinnamon Quinoa Breakfast Cookie
Lisa Harris Pantry’s Gluten Free Apple Cinnamon Quinoa Morning Sunshine Breakfast Cookie

Product: Lisa Harris Pantry’s Gluten Free Apple Cinnamon Quinoa Morning Sunshine Breakfast Cookie – $2.75+

I want to thank Cuisine Cube for one of the most epic products ever to arrive in my box.  No…this is for real.  Because in September, my cube included a cookie.  But this cookie was not there for dessert.  Nope.  It was clearly the item intended for breakfast.

A cookie.

For breakfast.

Being that I am a cookie monster, this totally made my day…my week…my month…perhaps even my year!

And, after running in the New York Marathon and then the Walt Disney World Wine & Dine Half Marathon, I was running out of food in my apartment.  And it was a gym morning.  And grocery shopping had yet to happen.  To much travel time (not time travel, LOL!).  Okay, there really isn’t such a thing, but sometimes there aren’t enough hours in the day to go to work and get the much-needed grocery shopping done.  And this was a morning I was at a loss as to what to have after hitting up the gym.

And then I remembered the cookie I had toted around with me to both New York City and Disney World…just in case I needed something to eat at some point.  I never had to break into it on the go…but it was just the thing I needed when I returned home.  Go figure.

The Lisa Harris Pantry‘s Gluten Free Apple Cinnamon Quinoa Morning Sunshine Breakfast Cookie is literally what it sounds like: a cookie intended to eat…for breakfast.  I love being an adult.  HA!

After getting in a good cardio session that morning, I ambled into work and was ready to settle in with something to eat before really beginning my day.  This cookie was so convenient.  It required no toaster oven, no microwave, and no hassles.  All I had to do was open up the wrapper and enjoy.  And that’s exactly what I did.  The cookie was actually quite large, about the size of a small mason jar lid.  And it’s thick too – a perfect drop cookie.  I could see the bits of diced apples and the flecks of cinnamon throughout the entire cookie.  It looked like a great balance.  I also expected these cookies to be hard.  But, while they had a crispy-ish outer edge, the center was soft and chewy and amazing.  For real.  It was, however, very sweet…due in part to the apples, apple flavoring, and the agave.  So, I almost wish I had something savory to pair with it because it was borderline almost too sweet.  But, it is, after all, a cookie.  I thought the flavor was amazing though.  I loved seeing the ingredients in the cookie.  And I loved the boost of protein that came from the quinoa.  As we know, I am always watching my protein intake due to my dietary needs (gluten-free/lactose free/vegetarian).  And being so active…protein is a vital part of my diet.  So, that was a huge win with me.  I loved the texture.  It wasn’t dry at all.  Had the sweetness been tampered down even slightly, I think it would have been the new breakfast of champions.  That being said, I would love to try the other flavor of breakfast cookies that are offered by Lisa Harris Pantry.  Because, every day should start with “dessert first.”

So, let’s talk about the ingredients that go into the Lisa Harris Pantry’s Gluten Free Apple Cinnamon Quinoa Morning Sunshine Breakfast Cookie.  This flavor cookie is made from organic rice flour, tapioca flour, cornstarch, quinoa flour, gluten free rolled oats, agave, egg whites, organic diced apples, lecithin, non gmo canola oil, milled flax seed, xantham gum, cinnamon, natural apple flavoring (whole foods compliant), salt.  All ingredients are non-GMO.  And this particular cookie is dairy-free, nut-free, gluten-free, high in fiber, high in protein, and low in sugar.  YES…a cookie that is low in sugar.

While on that subject, let’s go ahead and tackle that all-important nutrition information, yes?  A serving of Lisa Harris Pantry’s Gluten Free Apple Cinnamon Quinoa Morning Sunshine Breakfast Cookie is one entire cookie.  And trust me…these thick and moist cookies are definitely filling.  One cookie will give you 245 calories and 8 grams of fat.  They are cholesterol free.  Each cookie has 69 mg sodium and 11 grams of sugar.  In addition, you will be getting filled up with 3 grams of fiber and 6 grams of protein!  These are definitely hunger satisfying, naturally energizing and perfect for any time of the day, not just breakfast.  But the slow-release carbohydrates will definitely keep you going for hours without even the slightest bit of hunger.

I didn’t believe for a moment that a cookie could fill me up, particularly on a gym morning when I tend to be ravenous.  But it did.  If it weren’t for the sweetness, I think this cookie would be the perfect way to start the day.  I mean, who doesn’t like dessert for breakfast?  I definitely want to check out the other gluten-free options (not all of the products at Lisa Harris Pantry are gluten free) now.  And without Cuisine Cube, I never would have even know these existed!

Another great product brought into my life thanks to Cuisine Cube!

Lisa Harris Pantry's Gluten Free Apple Cinnamon Quinoa Morning Sunshine Breakfast Cookie
Lisa Harris Pantry’s Gluten Free Apple Cinnamon Quinoa Morning Sunshine Breakfast Cookie



Gluten-Free Food Allergy Fest – Indianapolis, Indiana – August 23, 2014

GF Jules and me at the Gluten-Free Food Allergy Fest in Indianapolis, Indiana!
GF Jules and me at the Gluten-Free Food Allergy Fest in Indianapolis, Indiana!

This past Saturday, I had the honor of being able to attend the Gluten Free Food Allergy Fest up in Indianapolis, Indiana.  I love going to gluten-free expos and events and Indianapolis seems to always have one at some point during any calendar year.  This year was no exception, and I was thrilled to read about the new location for this year’s event – the Indian State Fairgrounds.  With all the vendors and exhibitors I saw listed, I knew this year’s event was going to be HUGE! I was not let down at all.One of the magazines I currently subscribe to, Gluten Free & More (formerly Living Without), was putting on the Living Without Gluten-Free Food Allergy Fest in various cities this year as a way to show those with food allergies and/or sensitivities that we can live life without deprivation and missing out on delicious food.  It was a coming together of the magazine, as well as over a hundred of their favorite exhibitors to celebrate living well.  And it was open to anyone who wanted to stop in.

Tickets went on sale and, as a subscriber, I received a free entry, and then received a discount code for another ticket…so I had Cathy taken care of as well.  So, on Saturday morning, we ate a light breakfast before climbing into the car and hauling up to Indianapolis.  We timed it perfectly because we burned through our breakfast just as we got up there, about 30 minutes after it officially opened.

And…there was already a line waiting to get in.

Oh…that made me happy, indeed.

It was a hot summer day already and standing outside in the blazing sun didn’t sound like too much fun…but it wasn’t going to be a long wait.  Just about 5 minutes, at the most.  And while standing in line, I got to listen to people who have done expos like this before (like me) describe the events and how things work to the first timers.  I even got to geek out over favorite products and the like for a few moments.  I love making gluten-free friends!

Before we knew it, we were inside the doors, in the air conditioning, and getting the tickets scanned.  We were given blue wristbands to wear (for re-entry purposes and to show we paid!).  Cathy and I put them on and headed into the expo proper.  We were greeted at the door by people passing out reusable shopping bags from Glutino (a personal favorite!).  Perfect for all the samples and products you are bound to pick up and buy.

Trust me, you don’t walk out of these events empty-handed.

Cathy and I decided that we were going to be systematic about our approach to each table/vendor/aisle.  We’d start on one side and then work our way up, then come back down the other side.  This was a good plan in theory, and we decided to start in the middle aisle to avoid the congestion of the end aisles.  We soon found out…no matter what…it was just hopping and congested.  People were surrounding tables, getting free samples, trying products, trying local baked goods, and the like.  So, we ditched our original systematic plan for the…let’s just see what there is and wriggle into open areas when we can.

We’re pros.  HA!

That being said, we began our Gluten-Free Food Allergy Fest at the Glutino/Udi’s/Earth Balance booth, which was giving out samples of Udi’s Gluten-Free Salted Caramel Cashew Cookies as well as Glutino’s Gluten-Free Multigrain English Muffins, schmeared with Earth Balance Creamy Coconut and Peanut Spread.  It was all crazy, crazy delicious.  I actually have the Glutino English Muffins in my freezer, I just haven’t tried them yet. Now…I know buying them wasn’t a mistake at all.  They were delicious.  And that Earth Balance Creamy Coconut and Peanut Spread…out-of-this-world good!

And from there…it only got better.  We made a point to stop by each vendor’s table and talk to them about their products, if we had tried them.  If we hadn’t…we would ask all about them.  I made a point of raving to the Pamela’s Product people about the Figgies & Jammies.  Because they are awesome and worthy of praise.  I talked to the Hodgson Mills representative and when I mentioned being a food blogger he said to reach out to the Hodgson Mills team anytime.  I was told the same thing by various other vendors as well.  And one local vendor who was selling the most amazing bar-b-que sauce and seasoning (which we purchased) said to tag her on Facebook when I use their products so they can read my blog.  I was having a great time.

I think, though, the best moment had to come at the Freedom Foods table.  Because, as many of you are aware, Freedom Foods only makes my favorite gluten-free cereal, Tropic-O’s.  NOM NOM!  I can’t find this cereal here anymore, since my Whole Foods stopped carrying it, so my parents ship it to me from Birmingham, Alabama.  We have a system down.  But, recently, they put out a gluten-free, dairy-free, and not-free version of Nutella…which I fell in love with.  My local Kroger is the only place that had it…and I bought the last jar of it a few weeks ago.  It has never been restocked.  So…I stocked up on some Quinoa Pancake Mix, lots of “Smudge” (that’s the Nutella stuff!), and a few other products to try, all the time raving about how much I love their products and how they honestly care about what ingredients go into all of their stuff.  It didn’t hurt that the guy at the table had a New Zealand/Australian accent.  HELLO!  I actually ended up going back to the table before leaving that day and buying 4 more jars of Smudge.  I hadn’t opened the one I had at home for fear I would never find it again.  Now…it’s on!

I was able to sample some of the best gluten-free Snickerdoodles I have ever eaten.  And this pasta that was made from lentils that tasted exactly like regular pasta…but I couldn’t afford the hefty price tag on it.  Unfortunately.  It was nice to sample it, however.  At the very back of the building, for those over 21, was the gluten-free cider/beer tasting area.  There was so much food and samples…so I was glad we ate light.  And Cathy and I have a system down…where we split a sample so we aren’t filling up on our own.  It always works at these events.

However, I have to say the greatest moment ever was when I finally got to meet GF Jules in person. GF Jules (formerly Jules Gluten Free) was one of the first Celiac/Gluten-Free bloggers/recipe makers/amazing people I started to follow on social media after my diagnosis.  While I have been to events where she has been present, I have never been able to actually meet her.  That changed.  We discovered that we were food allergy soul sisters, both of us being vegetarian Celiacs who also can’t handle dairy.  Go figure.  She was so nice and just so easy to talk with.  I picked up one of her cookbooks, which she signed, and she was kind enough to take a picture with me.  I might have geeked out a little bit.  Or a lot.  You know how it goes…

And soon, after a couple hours of tasting, testing, buying, talking, and exploring, our time at the expo drew to a close.  We were going to meet our friend, Greg, for lunch that day, so we bid adieu to the fantastic event and made our way out to the car.

This event was probably the best one I have attended so far.  Great people, great vendors, great information all around.  And I came home with samples and products to try in the very near future.  Can’t argue with that, right?  Right!

I hope they return next year.  I’m already making plans to attend.  If one of these events happens near you…I definitely encourage you to go!

Product Review: Van’s PB & J Strawberry and Peanut Butter Gluten Free Snack Bars

Van's PB & J Strawberry and Peanut Butter Gluten Free Snack Bars
Van’s PB & J Strawberry and Peanut Butter Gluten Free Snack Bars

Product: Van’s PB & J Strawberry and Peanut Butter Gluten Free Snack Bars -$4.99+

While I have only spoken ill of a couple of the snack bars/breakfast bars that I have tried going gluten-free…I believe my quality standards have been raised.  I love Glutino to death, I do…but, while I don’t dislike their snack/breakfast bars, they are a little bit…tasteless when compared to the amazing bars I have had the chance to devour this past week.

And I owe this all to Van’s.  Yes…Van’s.  Van’s who makes the best gluten-free waffles.  Amazing gluten-free cereal.  And have since branched out into other products, such as gluten-free crackers, chips, granola, pasta, and yes…snack bars and granola bars.  And some of my local stores have started to carry some of these other products from Van’s…and I couldn’t be happier about it.

Usually during the day, I have two snacks because I eat a good breakfast, a light lunch, and a sensible dinner.  I snack in between breakfast and lunch and lunch and dinner.  Yes…even when I’m not running.  But I am generally very specific about what I choose to snack on.  Currently, however, I am attempting to whittle down some of the products I have accumulated in my freezer and pantry.  So, by checking out expiration dates, I began to go in order.  And this week I finally cracked open my box of snack bars from Van’s Gluten Free.

While the store I purchased these snack bars at had many to choose from, I selected Van’s PB & J Strawberry and Peanut Butter Gluten Free Snack Bars because…I’m addicted to peanut butter for one thing…and I love a good peanut butter and jelly sandwich.  Seriously…it’s one of the simplest pleasures in life.  And not one that I indulge in too often as gluten-free bread is stupid expensive.  But…I figured this might be a good way to enjoy one of my favorite things to eat.

This past week…I got to see for myself.

Wednesday morning…around 10:30 am, I tore into my little wrapped snack bar.  It looked like a slap of peanut butter with a jelly middle…sort of like a sandwich minus the bread.  I was intrigued.  I could see the oats rolled into that peanut butter layer and really couldn’t wait to take a bite.  A picture for the blog had to come first though…despite wanting to rip into it.  It smelled amazing…like peanut butter and jelly…so it was already living up to its name.  I snapped a quick picture and then tore off a corner to take a bite.

WOW!  This bar is truly like eating a delicious peanut butter and jelly sandwich.  The strawberry filling is sweet without being too tart or too strong.  It just is this layer of sweetness that totally works with the savory peanut butter that encompasses it.  The rolled oats give a great texture, making it seem like a real sandwich.  Each layer of texture and flavor brings a whole new level of deliciousness to this bar.  They are soft and chewy, just like a sandwich should be.  And none of that “like cardboard” outer crust that a lot of snack/breakfast bars have.  Every bite brings 10 grams of nutrient-rich whole grain oats and real peanut butter…which definitely makes each bar a nice and filling snack.  Honestly, I’m rarely ever starving when lunch time rolls around, and I find myself delaying it slightly because this little mighty bar of peanut butter and jelly goodness has done it’s job as a snack.  Beyond impressed.

Let’s take a look at the ingredients and nutrition information when it comes to Van’s PB & J Strawberry and Peanut Butter Gluten Free Snack Bars.

As far as ingredients go, the Van’s PB & J Strawberry and Peanut Butter Gluten Free Snack Bars are made from gluten free oats, invert cane sugar, peanut butter, non-GMO expeller pressed canola oil, sweet rice flour, strawberries, apple powder, fruit juice concentrate (pineapple, pear, apple and peach) tapioca starch, rice bran, peanut flour, peanut extract, glycerin, natural flavor, citric acid, pectin, locust bean gum, sea salt, red cabbage extract and annatto (for coloring), and baking soda.  These bars are gluten-free and dairy-free.  In addition, Van’s, as always, states that these are ingredients that they are proud of.  I can totally see why!

As for nutritional information, a serving size of the Van’s PB & J Strawberry Peanut Butter Gluten Free Snack Bars is 1 snack bar.  One bar has 160 calories and 6 grams of fat.  Don’t worry, much of that comes from the peanut butter…and that is a healthy fat.  These bars are cholesterol free, contain 115 mg sodium, and a (rather high) 14 grams of sugar.  I guess that has a lot to do with the fruit and fruit juices that are inside each bar.  A little high in sugars, but the 2 grams of fiber and 3 grams of protein help make up for it, making it more than a sweet treat, but a filling snack.  Honestly…your appetite will be satiated.

Big kudos, once more, to Van’s for another amazing gluten-free treat.  It just goes to prove that when you use quality ingredients (that you are proud of) you always put out a quality product.  And that…that is what it is all about.  The PB & J Gluten Free Snack Bars come in two flavors, currently: strawberry and blueberry.  I’m a huge fan of the strawberry…so I can’t wait to get my hands on the blueberries.  And the other snack bars and snacks that Van’s has to offer.  It is definitely a name I can trust.

If you love peanut butter and jelly…then you’ll definitely LOVE these.

Van's PB & J Strawberry and Peanut Butter Gluten Free Snack Bar (unwrapped)
Van’s PB & J Strawberry and Peanut Butter Gluten Free Snack Bar (unwrapped)

Product Review: Grab the Gold Chocolate Peanut Butter Protein Snack Bar

Grab the Gold Chocolate Peanut Butter Protein Snack Bar
Grab the Gold Chocolate Peanut Butter Protein Snack Bar

Product: Grab the Gold Chocolate Peanut Butter Protein Snack Bar – $2.49

As you know, I am always on the lookout for more and different protein bars, as I am an athlete on the go!  I usually consume a protein bar on weekends away, or perhaps before a race (with time to digest, of course), and sometimes after I hit up the gym for my weights sessions.

I have my go-to brands…Lärabar, thinkThin, and KIND to name a few.  All of them are certified gluten-free and carry a good portion of protein to help rejuvenate me after or before a hard workout.  When I’m traveling, they also make fantastic snacks and/or food options when nothing else is available.

So, imagine my surprise and my joy when my June Cuisine Cube showed up in the mail and it included an energy bar as a mid-day pick-me-up snack option.  Not just any energy bar…one that was two of my favorite things…Chocolate Peanut Butter flavored!  The Cuisine Cube, as I explained before, tends to include products for breakfast, lunch, dinner, dessert and a snack.  And every now and again…a bonus.  In June, the bonus was the energy bar.  And it sounded amazing.

I had never heard of Grab the Gold before, and was quite curious as to what their version of an energy bar would be like.  I’ve had some good ones in my time and some really, really bad ones.  But, I have come to trust my Cuisine Cube and the choices of products that go inside.  I had a run and some weights to do this morning, and my breakfast beforehand was simply cereal.  Delicious cereal, but by the time I finished up at the gym, I was ready for something to eat.

I packed my roommate and I each a protein bar.  She had her favorite Lärabar (ALT Lemon Pound Cake…in case you were wondering!).  I decided to give the one I received in my Cuisine Cube a try.  So, that was what emerged from my bag in the car to eat on the way to her family’s house to sort out some (who am I kidding…TONS) of items in the garage.  I was going to need reinforcements.  So, I unwrapped the gorgeous golden foil wrapper and unveiled an unassuming round bar.  Little flecks of oats and chocolate chips were visible.  I broke off a piece for my roomie to try and then I took a bite.

You know those amazing no-bake cookies?  Yeah…that’s what this bar tasted like.  A fantastic no-bake cookie.  Talk about a treat!  Great texture and taste too.  It was chocolatey without being too candy-like.  It had that nice hit of peanut butter.  The oats gave it that cookie-like texture.  The chocolate chips were that little burst of flavor in each bite.  And the round shape made for a nice change of pace from other bars on the market.

A little bit of history…the Grab the Gold Protein Snack Bars were created by 16 year old Danielle Ontiveros, who didn’t like typical breakfast food growing up and preferred something lighter in the mornings, since she was never hungry.  This was the end of the 80s and there weren’t a lot of choices for protein bars.  Most were expensive and didn’t taste good, so Ontiveros told her mother she wanted to make her own bars.  She pulled out items from the cupboards and began measuring, mixing, and recording what she was doing.  She began to market the bars to friends, family and neighbors and soon her business was born.  The reason these bars are round is that Ontiveros was concerned with fairness and equality and wanted to be sure everyone got the same size bars.  Cutting them into squares never yielded uniform bars in size and thickness.  Then she got the idea to weight the batter into equal parts and put them into a muffin tin.  The perfect, uniform, and round bar was born.

So, now that we know how these were made and why they are so good…let’s look at the nitty-gritty stuff.  Yep…nutrition and ingredients.

The Grab the Gold Chocolate Peanut Butter Protein Snack Bar is made from organic oats, peanut butter, soy nuggets (soy flour), glucose syrup, cane sugar, semisweet chocolate chips, fruit juice, brown rice dextrins, canola oil, soy lecithin, natural cocoa powder, and vanilla.  This bar is gluten-free, cholesterol free, dairy free, vegan, contains no high fructose corn syrup, contains no preservatives, contains no trans fats, and is a sort of high fiber.

As fur nutrition, the Grab the Gold Chocolate Peanut Butter Snack Bar is right on par, if not better, than other bars on the market.  One serving is one bar.  This bar contains 193 calories and 5 grams of fat.  One bar also provides73 mg sodium 345 mg potassium, and 12 grams of sugar.  I admit, it is high in sugar…higher than I normally like.  Might be why it tastes like a cookie.  But DAMN…it’s worth it.  Yum!  One bar also gives you 7 grams of filling fiber and 11 grams of protein.  You actually will feel full after eating this bar.  Trust me!

So, Cuisine Cube sent me another winner!  I hope to order some of the Grab the Gold Chocolate Peanut Butter Protein Snack Bars in the near future, if I can’t find any in local stores.  As I have never seen or heard of these before now, it’s more likely I’ll be ordering online or from Cuisine Cube’s store.  But…I am now completely and forever hooked on these.  Like having dessert for breakfast…but one that will last you for a couple of hours.

Well done!

Grab the Gold Chocolate Peanut Butter Protein Snack Bar (unwrapped)
Grab the Gold Chocolate Peanut Butter Protein Snack Bar (unwrapped)

Product Review: Nature’s Path Organic Gluten Free Hot Oatmeal Variety Pack

Nature's Path Organic Gluten Free Hot Oatmeal Variety Pack
Nature’s Path Organic Gluten Free Hot Oatmeal Variety Pack

Product: Nature’s Path Organic Gluten Free Hot Oatmeal Variety Pack – $5.99+

It’s summer…and I’m broke.  Why am I broke?  Because…it’s been hot…and my air conditioner has been rocking and rolling.  Also…food prices are on the rise.  And…well…I just have a difficult time living within my meager food budget when I have to eat the way that I do.  Being that I am very broke at the moment, I opted not to purchase the extra container of vanilla Greek yogurt this week to make my overnight oats…because I had a box of gluten-free oatmeal waiting in my pantry.  No time like the times you have no expendable income to clear out the pantry some, yes?

That’s right!

I don’t remember which store I discovered the Nature’s Path Organic Gluten Free Hot Oatmeal in…but I want to say it was either Whole Foods or Earth Fare.  One of them.  And I don’t know why, after months spent making overnight oats, I really, really had to have hot cereal.  I mean…it’s hot outside…

I blame it on my blonde hair.  I have to blame something…

But, now I’m glad I sort of made that decision.  I get really excited when I see new products, especially ones that I know I’ll eat…eventually.  And we all know I eat something oat-y for lunch every day.  Well, this week…it’s been Nature’s Path Organic Gluten Free Hot Oatmeal…the variety pack…which gives a couple pouches of each flavor out on the market, so you can try it and if you don’t like it, you have maybe one or two more pouches to use instead of an entire box.

The three flavors that are included in the variety pack are: Spiced Apple with Flax, Homestyle, and Brown Sugar Maple with Ancient Grains.

And…wouldn’t you know it…I chose to sample them in that very order.

Nature’s Path Organic Gluten Free Spiced Apple with Flax Hot Oatmeal

Nature's Path Organic Gluten Free Spiced Apple with Flax Hot Oatmeal (prepared)
Nature’s Path Organic Gluten Free Spiced Apple with Flax Hot Oatmeal (prepared)

I started my foray into the Nature’s Path Gluten Free Hot Oatmeal with a bowl of the Spiced Apple variety.  Now, I’m quite particular about my hot cereal.  I want it at a certain consistency…and it has to wow me with flavor.  It has to really win me over.  And it has to still maintain the integrity of the product…meaning, I don’t want it laden with sugar.  I want something that will stick with me…fill me up…do exactly what a hot cereal is supposed to do.  Nature’s Path Organic Gluten Free Spiced Apple with Flax Hot Oatmeal does just that.  Made from gluten-free, rolled and uncontaminated whole oats, this blend contains dried bits of apple and a little dash of cinnamon.  The glax helps add a bit of fiber to the mix, helping to fill you up and keep you feeling full.

It’s super easy to prepare too.  I go the microwave route, because I eat this at work and we have no stove.  So, I simply pour the oatmeal into my bowl, add about 2/3 cup water and microwave for around 75 seconds (1 minute 15 seconds).  When it emerges, it’s steamy and has this nice creamy texture without having gone all to mush.  No one likes mushy, soupy oatmeal.  It cooks to perfection.  And I love how the apples sort of soak in the water and become reinvigorated.  They lend a nice bit of natural sweetness to this variety.

I wasn’t sure about it on the first bite.  I thought it might be a little bland…but the next bite brought more flavor…and the same thing with the next.  And soon, I had devoured my whole bowl and was spooning at the little bits left in the curves of the dinnerware.

Ingredients in Nature’s Path Organic Gluten Free Spiced Apple with Flax Hot Oatmeal include organic gluten free rolled oats, organic evaporated cane juice, organic dried apple, organic flax seeds, organic flavor, organic cinnamon and sea salt.  This oatmeal is not only gluten-free but also cholesterol free.

As far as the nutrition information goes, a serving is one packet of the Nature’s Path Organic Gluten Free Spiced Apple with Flax Hot Oatmeal.  This packet will give you 170 calories and 2.5 grams of fat.  You will also be taking in 90 mg sodium and 9 grams of sugar.  It’s sort of on the…iffy on the sugars line as to whether it’s too high or not on that count.  In addition, you will be consuming 4 grams of fiber and 4 grams of protein.  So, yes…it does make you feel full.  Gotta love that.  I know I do.

Overall…definitely liked this one!

Nature's Path Organic Gluten Free Homestyle Hot Oatmeal (prepared)
Nature’s Path Organic Gluten Free Homestyle Hot Oatmeal (prepared)

Nature’s Path Organic Gluten Free Homestyle Hot Oatmeal

I admit, this was the packet that I was the most leery of when I opened up this box.  Why?  Because traditional oatmeal and I don’t always get along.  Sometimes it can be rather boring and bland.  And I was more than a little concerned that would be the case here.  Also…I was taking it in on the day that the office was having lunch catered by a bbq restaurant…which was meat and gluten…so not for me.  While my boss, that morning, said she’d be happy to purchase something for me from one of the restaurants nearby…even if it was just a salad…I told her I had my oatmeal with me…and that was fine.  I sure hoped it was going to be okay…because I was stuck eating it regardless.

AND…I opted not to bring anything to mix into it.  No raisins, no berries…not even brown sugar or maple syrup.  Nope.  I needed to try it on its own…and was definitely rolling the dice on this one.

Same cooking as the other packet…bowl, water, microwave for 75 seconds…enjoy!

For an oatmeal that is nothing but rolled oats…this one amazed me.  This one impressed me.  It wasn’t bland at all.  In fact, it had this tiny hint of sweetness to it, without all the added sugars.  The oats were definitely perfect.  I didn’t give raisins or syrup or fruit a second thought when I settled into the lunch meeting with my bowl and sent up prayers to the gluten-free lunch gods that I could at least get through this bowl.  I had no problems and found myself devouring the oatmeal faster than I intended.  That’s saying something!

Ingredients in Nature’s Path Organic Gluten Free Homestyle Hot Oatmeal include organic gluten free rolled oats.  Yes…that’s all.  And yes…it really is delicious.  It may seem plain, but there is nothing plain about this variety.  It is gluten-free, cholesterol free, and sugar free.  Speaking my language!

As far as the nutrition information goes, one serving is one packet of Nature’s Path Organic Gluten Free Homestyle Hot Oatmeal.  This packet will serve you 170 calories and 2.5 grams of fat.  You will be taking in 0 mg sodium and 0 grams of sugar.  In addition, you will be consuming 4 grams of fiber and 6 grams of protein, leaving you feeling full for longer.  Yes…just…yes!  Trust me…this is really good.  Not bland.  Not plain.  Not lacking in anything but the stuff you don’t need to be feeding your body anyway.


Nature’s Path Organic Gluten Free Brown Sugar Maple with Ancient Grains Hot Oatmeal

Nature's Path Organic Gluten Free Brown Sugar Maple with Ancient Grains Hot Oatmeal (prepared)
Nature’s Path Organic Gluten Free Brown Sugar Maple with Ancient Grains Hot Oatmeal (prepared)

Before I really expanded into the hot cereal world, growing up I would add brown sugar to the Malt-O-Meal (something I definitely can’t eat anymore!) my dad would cook up for breakfast sometimes.  This was a go-to whenever my mom wasn’t able to make breakfast or was out of town or something.  When he was in charge…he opted for his favorite hot cereal.  Malt-O-Meal.  The thing was…growing up I hated hot cereal.  Hated it.  I ate my cold cereal dry…no milk.   So when I started giving hot cereal a try as an adult…I did it cautiously and started with something familiar.  Something with brown sugar.

From there, I expanded to other flavors, but if given the choice…old habits die hard…I always opt for the Brown Sugar variety.  I think that’s why I usually save that version for last.  It’s just…ingrained in me.

Same as everything else…empty packet into bowl, add water, nuke for 75 seconds…consume.

This one was good.  It was really, really good.  Homestyle, I think is still my favorite of the three…but this one is a close second.  The sweetness of the brown sugar and maple syrup is a nice way to really perk up oatmeal.  The texture on this one was a little soupy…but I might have added a little too much water when measuring it out.  Hard to say.  But…it sat for a moment and those oats just soaked it up.  It was nice and sweet and delicious.  And I savored each bite…wondering how it was I used to dislike hot cereal…except when I mixed brown sugar into it.  Well…this one is a sentimental favorite for sure…but, honestly, the flavor is nice.  Not too sweet, actually…but not bland.  The right balance with the right consistency.  Impressed.

Ingredients in Nature’s Path Organic Gluten Free Brown Sugar Maple with Ancient Grains Hot Cereal include organic gluten free rolled oats, organic brown sugar, organic evaporated cane juice, organic rolled amaranth, organic rolled quinoa, organic sorghum flour, natural flavor, and sea salt.  It is gluten-free and cholesterol free.

As far as the nutrition information goes, one serving is one packet of Nature’s Path Organic Gluten Free Brown Sugar Maple Hot Oatmeal.  This packet will serve you 160 calories and 2 grams of fat.  You will be consuming 80 mg sodium and 8 grams of sugar.  In addition, you will be taking in 3 grams of fiber and 4 grams of protein.  Don’t let that drop in number hinder you…this one is also very filling.  In fact…I felt my fullest after eating this one.  Odd!

Overall…really, really like!

So, if you are wanting an easy-to-make and easy-to-eat option for breakfast, lunch or even dinner…I highly recommend Nature’s Path Organic Gluten Free Hot Oatmeal Variety Pack.  You get a little bit of everything to try and you can choose what you prefer when it comes to the flavors out on the market.  It’s a great value at a great price.

Beyond impressed.  I’m sure this will find its way into my pantry again.

Product Review: Earth Balance P.B. Popps

Earth Balance P.B. Popps
Earth Balance P.B. Popps

Product: Earth Balance P.B. Popps – $5.99+

Well played, Earth Balance.

Well played.

Because, somehow, without even knowing me…you created the ultimate snack.  You invented my new snack crack.  Because this combines two of my most favorite things in life…and then some.  You take peanut butter…and popcorn…and you make it snackable.  You make it…so easy to dive into this little pouch and keep on going.  It’s so hard to stop.  It’s just…you made my snack kryptonite.


Now, you, my fellow readers…if you are unfamiliar with Earth Balance and, more specifically, P.B. Popps…read carefully.  Earth Balance is a company that is committed to producing 100% plant-based, vegan, non-GMO, lactose-free, egg-free, casein-free, trans-fat-free products.  I use their vegan butters, buttery spreads, and nut butters in numerous things.  I keep Earth Balance products in my fridge and pantry…constantly.  When a company specializes in vegan products that are created only using all-natural ingredients that are organic, and often benefit those who not only are vegan or vegetarian, but also have food allergies…well…you better believe I’m going to support them.

A little while ago, Earth Balance began putting out some vegan and gluten-free snack options.  First it was some popcorn (in various flavors) and such.  But…one day they put up on Facebook that they created this amazing product called P.B. Popps.  I immediately knew that if I spotted them in the grocery store…I’d buy them.  It took some looking, but almost a year later, they turned up on the shelf of my local Whole Foods store.  There was much rejoicing and budget breaking that day.  I snagged a pouch of them and took them home.

These…have been my snack at the office this past week.  And oh my GOD…they are SO good.

P.B. Popps are described on the packaging as popcorn cuddled in peanut butter and a bustle of oats.  I love popcorn.  I definitely love peanut butter.  And oats are one of my favorite things in life.  I mean…I eat oatmeal in some form for lunch every day.  Yes.  EVERY day!  So, popcorn coated in peanut butter and oats…that sounds right up my alley.

Trust me.  It was.  And you’ll love them too!  Each popcorn pieces is coated liberally in peanut butter, and dipped in oats.  This makes the most interesting texture combination when you bite into it.  The popcorn has that crunch from the peanut butter that coats it…and then the oats add a hint of softness to each bite.  The peanut butter flavor is awesome on these.  I mean…awesome.  It doesn’t overpower…but you know it’s peanut butter.  And, trust me, it’s best to put out only a serving because you could keep popping these little peanut-buttery-oaty popcorn pieces and down the entire bag.  These…are beyond fantastic.  These are a treat worth repeating!!

Ingredients for Earth Balance P.B. Popps are peanuts, whole grain oats, dried cane syrup, tapioca syrup, popcorn, expeller pressed natural oil blend, flaxseed, agave syrup, salt, baking soda, water, natural flavor, pea protein, and sunflower lecithin.  I know what every single one of those ingredients are!  That’s a bonus.  The Earth Balance P.B. Popps are vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free, cholesterol-free, non-GMO, made with 100% natural ingredients, and contain 0 grams of trans-fat.  LOVE.

Let’s look at nutrition for this snack…because…vegan, dairy-free, gluten-free…and all of that still comes with a nutrition label, yes?  You better believe it.  A serving size of the Earth Balance P.B. Popps is 28 grams (or about 1/3 cup).  This serving will provide you with 130 calories and 6 grams of fat.  This serving will also be giving you 80 mg sodium and 6 grams of sugar.  And finally, you’ll be consuming 2 grams of fiber and 3 grams of protein.

Not bad for a peanut-buttery popcorn snack, right?  RIGHT!  I was very impressed with this snack.  Earth Balance has never let me down.  Not once.  And this has made me an even bigger fan.  I can’t wait to try more of their snack items in the very near future.  The most difficult part now will be not purchasing a pouch of these every time I go into Whole Foods.

For real!  They are that amazing.  Try them yourself.  Trust me…you’ll want to pop more than one!

Product Review: Glutenfreeda Cranberry Cashew Honey Granola

Glutenfreeda Cashew Cranberry Honey Granola
Glutenfreeda Cashew Cranberry Honey Granola

Product: Glutenfreeda Cranberry Cashew Honey Granola – $4.99+

Way back when my gluten-free journey started, I finally stopped cheating on my oatmeal (because I got tired of feeling like crap after lunch) and made the leap to gluten-free oats.  One of the first brands readily available in my area (and also more cost efficient than others) was the gluten-free oatmeal by Glutenfreeda.  And…sadly enough, the oatmeal didn’t wow me or really make me want to be friends with it.  In fact, I found it rather bland, if I recall correctly.

But…sometimes you have to learn not to hold something against a brand itself.  And, after a quick trip to Birmingham, Alabama, and a dash through the Publix near the Mellow Mushroom I was meeting my parents at for gluten-free pizza that night…I discovered a delicious sounding granola on the gluten-free shelves.  The issue I had was…it was Glutenfreeda.

Do I risk it?  I mean…it was Glutenfreeda Gluten-Free Cranberry Cashew Honey Granola.  Um…nothing wrong with any of that.  In fact…it sounds oh…so right!  So, with a little debating, I finally snatched it off the shelf and committed myself to the purchase.

And…a month later…and me back in Louisville, Kentucky…I broke it out of the pantry for some breakfast parfaits (made with Greek yogurt and caramelized pears).  Oh, to be sure, I was beyond nervous.  It was the only granola in the pantry at the time, so it was either amazing…or not.  And with no replacement, either way my roomie and I were eating it.

*sigh*  *deep breath*

Breakfast Parfait…assemble!

Of course, I had to test the granola on its own before tossing it with the rest of the parfait components.  I poured a bit in my palm, getting the oats, the dried cranberries, and the cashews.  I tossed it back and…it was really good.  I mean…REALLY good.  It’s actually that perfect mix of sweet and salty.  I mean…perfect.  It has the flavor from the roasted cashews and the sweetness from the dried cranberries.  The honey ties it all together.  And the gluten-free oats are toasted to perfection and absolutely amazing.  It all just comes together…and as much as I thought I was going to dislike this granola…I love it.

Naturally, because I have yet to find it around here.  HA!

So…let’s talk ingredients, shall we?  You’ll love these.  Glutenfreeda’s Gluten-Free Cranberry Cashew Honey Granola is simply made from gluten-free oats, cashews, dried cranberries, brown sugar, canola oil, honey, flax seeds, vanilla.

That’s it.  Okay…so the canola oil and brown sugar might throw you off…especially the canola oil, but in the grand scheme of things…not too shabby!  Not at all.

Nutritionally speaking, Glutenfreeda isn’t dishing up a whole lot of empty, sugar-laden calories either.  Each box of granola contains 4 individual packages.  The kicker is, there are 10 servings per box.  So do not eat an entire package in one sitting.  You’ll be doing 2.5 servings if you do that.  And one serving, 1/4 cup of the granola, will give you 120 calories and 4 grams of fat.  This granola is cholesterol-free and sodium-free.  A serving also provides you with 6 grams of sugar (not bad), 2 grams of fiber and 3 grams of protein.

Honestly, I was skeptical, but as it turns out…I was pleasantly surprised to actually like this granola.  Not just like…love.  I could indulge in this at breakfast every day…if I could find it in my area.  Great flavor profile.  Crunchy, tasty granola.  Great job, Glutenfreeda!

Granola never tasted this good! Roasted cashews and plump dried cranberries are the cornerstones to our Cranberry Cashew Honey granola. This wholesome cereal is the perfect way to start your day, carry you through the day or even end your day, as a late night snack. Our Cranberry Cashew Honey Granola is made with certified gluten-free oats and is a great way to get fiber back into your diet, deliciously.

Each box contains 4 convenient travel pouches. Just slide one in your purse, briefcase or backpack for a nutritious ‘anytime’ snack.’


Certified gluten-free oats, cashews (salt), dried cranberries (sugar, sunflower oil), brown sugar, canola oil, honey, flax seeds, vanilla.

– See more at:


Granola never tasted this good! Roasted cashews and plump dried cranberries are the cornerstones to our Cranberry Cashew Honey granola. This wholesome cereal is the perfect way to start your day, carry you through the day or even end your day, as a late night snack. Our Cranberry Cashew Honey Granola is made with certified gluten-free oats and is a great way to get fiber back into your diet, deliciously.

Each box contains 4 convenient travel pouches. Just slide one in your purse, briefcase or backpack for a nutritious ‘anytime’ snack.’


Certified gluten-free oats, cashews (salt), dried cranberries (sugar, sunflower oil), brown sugar, canola oil, honey, flax seeds, vanilla.

– See more at:

Granola never tasted this good! Roasted cashews and plump dried cranberries are the cornerstones to our Cranberry Cashew Honey granola. This wholesome cereal is the perfect way to start your day, carry you through the day or even end your day, as a late night snack. Our Cranberry Cashew Honey Granola is made with certified gluten-free oats and is a great way to get fiber back into your diet, deliciously.

Each box contains 4 convenient travel pouches. Just slide one in your purse, briefcase or backpack for a nutritious ‘anytime’ snack.’


Certified gluten-free oats, cashews (salt), dried cranberries (sugar, sunflower oil), brown sugar, canola oil, honey, flax seeds, vanilla.

– See more at: