Product Review: WB Kitchen Maple Pecan Honey Cookies

WB Kitchen Maple Pecan Honey Cookies

WB Kitchen Maple Pecan Honey Cookies

Product: WB Kitchen Maple Pecan Honey Cookies – $3.29+

I love seeing what my Cuisine Cube sends to me each month.  This month, however, hasn’t been a good one for me to actually dive into my box.  Most of the items…okay…all of the items…were in the box up until I returned from the Boston Marathon.  We all know from previous posts, leading into that were days and nights of stress and emotional overload…just trying to find out if I was going to get to race or not.  And then, afterwards, I was having a hard time moving around, putting things away sounded like a tedious task.

That being said, the six items that were inside my April 2015 (Spring) Cuisine Cube have been put away.  And have stayed put away.  Up until last night.  And that was mostly because I had nothing ready for dessert…

Hooray for convenience!

Of course, first I want to remind you of what Cuisine Cube is and what they do…and why you should consider a subscription with them.  Cuisine Cube is a monthly subscription service were a gift box will be sent to your door with goodies inside.  These are meal/pantry items that are the full-size products, not little sample sizes.  That’s a huge deal, as most of the time these services send you sample products only.  You can sign up for a monthly, three-month, or six-month subscription, which begin as low as $29.99 per month.  Each box you receive will contain one item from each major meal of the day: breakfast, lunch, dinner, snack, dessert.  And then, sometimes,  you get a bonus treat.  Bonus treats are always a nice and welcome surprise.  I’ve had Cuisine Cube for over a year now and love, love, love it!

In the April Box, the Breakfast/Snack option that was presented was a package of cookies.  Yes…cookies.  Cookies for breakfast.  You have my attention!  The cookies are a product of WB Kitchen.  WB Kitchen was founded in 2012 by Chris Feuille and his wife, Anna.  Feuille strives to show that businesses can succeed and be profitable while utilizing unconventional methods of operation.  WB Kitchen offers natural honey sweets.  Fueille believes that our food choices directly reflect the level of conscious awareness we bring into the rest of our lives.  When people choose to nourish their bodies with real and harmonious foods, they are more in balance with the community and the planet.  By making foods that are Paleo-friendly and use no preservatives, artificial colors and flavors, and are sweetened simply with maple syrup and honey, Fueille hopes that consumers who eat the foods that mother nature intended will show them how to live a healthier, happier and more vibrant life.

The WB Kitchen Maple Pecan Honey Cookies were the item that Cuisine Cube shared with us in April.  And I was really excited about trying them, after looking over the ingredients, and more impressively – the nutrition information.  Last night was the ideal day to try them after a big breakfast at my local gluten-free bakery and then movie theater popcorn (just the kid’s snack pack) while seeing Avengers: Age of Ultron.  I cooked up a simple dinner…gluten-free veggie burgers with sweet potato fries, to eat while watching the Kentucky Derby (I live in Louisville…that’s what we do one day out of the year).  Afterwards, I knew I wanted my palate cleansing dessert.  And I felt no guilt in reaching for the WB Kitchen Maple Pecan Honey Cookies.  I tore into the package, giving one of the cookies to my roommate and taking the other one for myself.  Dessert…and a horse race.

Well, the horse I chose (the names didn’t impress me this year, so I went for the prettiest horse in the field – Frosted!) came in 4th…but dessert…that was definitely winning in my book.  The texture, at first, is a little weird.  Sort of like a non-date-y Laräbar…soft and chewy…with a lot of emphasis on the “chew.”  It wasn’t gummy though.  But the flavor…that’s where these cookies totally won.  The honey flavor for sweetness is perfect.  Not too much…not too little.  Just the right amount.  And the pecans gave it this nutty flavor and a bit of crunch in each bite.  Top it off with one of my favorite things – maple…and you have a recipe that I truly enjoyed.  Every bite (which, technically was only three…but…).  Just loving the way everything came together.  And once that first bite was taken and I was able to adjust to the texture…it was dessert perfection.  And no guilt.  Cookies without the guilt.  Loving that!

So, let’s discuss the ingredients in the WB Kitchen Maple Pecan Honey Cookies.  These cookies are made with  almond flour, raw unfiltered honey, organic maple syrup, organic pecans, sea salt, organic cinnamon, organic coconut oil, and organic vanilla extract.  That’s it.  Real.  Simple.  Ingredients.  I recognize everything.  Nothing makes me question what I’m about to devour.  I love that.  These cookies are produced in a dedicated gluten, grain, dairy, and soy-free facility.  On top of being gluten-free and vegan, these are also cholesterol free.

Now, I told you I was impressed by the nutrition facts on these cookies and I’m going to share with you why.  A serving size is 1 cookie, so there are 2 servings per container.  This one cookie will provide you with 68 calories (a cookie for 68 calories!) and 4 grams of fat (mostly from nuts).  You will also be taking in 54 mg sodium, 6 grams carbohydrates, 6 grams of sugar, less than 1 gram  of fiber and 1.4 grams of protein.  They won’t be filling, but they sure make a nice way to end the day.

So, if you’ve been looking for a great, healthy, cookie-type snack/breakfast/dessert…look into WB Kitchen and what they have to offer.  Their Web site has other varieties of cookies and bars that make for healthy, nutritious, and clean eating.  If maple is your thing…I highly, highly recommend these though.  Soft, chewy, and good for you.  What’s not to love?  Thanks, Cuisine Cube for another wonderful food discovery!

Product Review: Hodgson Mill Lemon Pepper Quinoa & Brown Rice

Hodgson Mill Lemon Pepper Quinoa & Brown Rice

Hodgson Mill Lemon Pepper Quinoa & Brown Rice

Product: Hodgson Mill Lemon Pepper Quinoa & Brown Rice – $2.49+

There are quite a few brands and companies out there that I entrust my gluten-free lifestyle to.  These are the ones that I can find on a regular basis…the few, the proud, the ones carried in most, if not every, grocery store or department store with a food section.  One such brand is Hodgson Mill…who has brought quite a few different products to the gluten-free folks that make up a good percentage of the population these days, whether for medical or dietary reasons.

We all have to have these go-to brands that we can hit up in a pinch.  So, when I find new products by such brands, I don’t really hesitate to purchase them.  They go into my shopping basket (if the budget allows) and then into my pantry.  That’s the circle of my gluten-free foodie life.

While at Raisin Rack in Columbus, Ohio, awhile back, I stumbled across a couple of packets of Hodgson Mill products that I hadn’t seen around my area.  These were for their new Quinoa & Brown Rice sides, which come in five flavors: Lemon Pepper, Garlic & Herb, Italian, Mediterranean, and Spicy.  I normally would have immediately lunged for the Spicy version, but as this is something I’d be sharing with my roommate (who is a self-professed spice wimp), I opted for something else.  As she is a connoisseur of all things lemony…the Hodgson Mill Lemon Pepper Quinoa & Brown Rice Side seemed like a win to me.

And so…it came home…and sat in my pantry.  Until tonight.  Because of having no CSA bin delivery for the past two (going on three) weeks, I’ve been trying to make due mostly with what I have in the fridge, freezer, and pantry.  As these next couple nights are going to include me packing for my upcoming trip to NYC, for my roomie’s birthday, some Broadway shows, and the NYC Half Marathon, I needed foods that wouldn’t demand too much of my time, but still be healthy and filling.

Instead of reheating some of the risotto I made last weekend, I decided to save that for tomorrow and plucked the package of Hodgson Mill Lemon Pepper Quinoa and Brown Rice out of the pantry.  Instead of serving it as a side, we’d simply split the entire package and have it as a meal.  We do that a lot with sides.  I mean…why not?  If it has the nutritional value to double as a meal for two people…might as well go for it.

So, after a long, frustrating, and tiring day at the office…I came home and immediately put 1-3/4 cup of water onto the stove to bring to a boil.  I emptied the contents of the Hodgson Mill Lemon Pepper Quinoa & Brown Rice packet into the boiling water, covered it, and lowered the heat to allow it to simmer and continue to cook…which took about 15 more minutes.  Once the water was absorbed, it was done.  I took the pan off the heat and let it sit, covered, for another 5 minutes before fluffing it with a fork.  While all this was cooking, I was able to put together everything I needed for lunches and snacks for both my roomie and I, which freed up some additional time for me later on.  Love that.  When the five minutes ticked past, I fluffed the mixture with a fork and served it up between the two of us.  We settled in for dinner.

I want to say, this mix cooks up to the perfect texture.  The quinoa and brown rice are a perfect match for each other, making a filling, and satisfying dish (whether a meal or as a side).  However, that being said, the seasoning was definitely lacking.  In fact, my roomie and I actually had to add some salt (which we never do) and even gave it a hit of berbere.  Because, hey, why not?  But, once we had everything properly seasoned, this was really delicious.  I think Hodgson Mill took extra precaution not to overwhelm the mix with the lemon and pepper flavor, but that’s really what I want when I purchase something that boasts a lemon pepper flavor.  So, while the taste was a little bland, this was a really great dish.  Easy to prepare…just season it when all is said and done.

As far as ingredients go, the Hodgson Mill Lemon Pepper Quinoa & Brown Rice side is made from organic whole grain prewashed quinoa, whole grain parboiled long grain brown rice, organic garlic, organic onion, organic herbs, organic carrot, organic black pepper, organic bell pepper, organic tomato, organic red pepper, organic spices, organic orange peel, organic lemon peel, and citric acid (contains mustard).  This blend is gluten-free, cholesterol free, low in sodium, all natural, and kosher.

Nutrition-wise…this isn’t a bad choice to serve as a side or as a main dish.  There are 3.5 servings per pouch, with one serving being 1/4 cup.  This serving will provide you with 140 calories and 1.5 grams of fat.  This serving will also give you 45 mg sodium and less than 1 gram of sugar.  You gotta love that.  One serving will also give you 2 grams of fiber and 5 grams of protein.  God bless quinoa!

If you are looking for a healthy side or a hearty dinner without breaking the bank and without having to spend a long time in the kitchen, Hodgson Mill has you covered.  Just make sure you check the seasoning when you finish cooking these up.  You’ll also get a nice protein kick from the quinoa…and the brown rice is a great addition to add a bit of bulk and body to the dish.  Lacking the lemon…that’s my only complaint.  Otherwise…a nice product!

Product Review: Qrunch Foods Cinnamon-Vanilla Toastables

Qrunch Cinnamon-Vanilla Toastables

Qrunch Foods Cinnamon-Vanilla Toastables

Product: Qrunch Foods Cinnamon-Vanilla Toastables – $3.99+

Ah…back to one of my favorite things to talk about.

No.  Not food.  Although I do like to talk about food.

Nope.  What I’m about to introduce you to is yet another way that being Celiac/gluten-free doesn’t have to detract from what options are out there for breakfast.  Aside from the natural gluten-free goodness of real foods, such as eggs, potatoes, vegetables, and fruits…there are a plethora of gluten-free breakfast mixes that can help you bake up pancakes, muffins, and scones.  There are frozen waffles, pancakes, French toast sticks, bagels, muffins, cinnamon rolls…the list is endless.

But what really caught my eye a couple of months ago when I randomly dropped into my local Meijer was a new product from a company that I trusted.  The company being Qrunch Foods.  The product – something they call Toastables.

Qrunch Foods set out with a mission, and have since worked hard to carry it out – to create great-tasting, gluten free foods.

Those of us who have made our way through the gluten-free foods out on the market know that gluten-free foods have come a long way.  No longer do you need to fear something tasting like cardboard or wood pulp (although…there are instances this still holds true).  But finding something that stops you in your tracks and makes you go, “Damn…I’d never guess this was gluten free!” is a rare find at times.

Qrunch Foods came out with their line of Toastables back in 2013.  Prior to this, you might have seen and tried (and loved, like me!) their gluten-free and vegan/vegetarian Qrunch Burgers.  LOVE me those Qrunch Burgers.  So, that’s why I didn’t hesitate to pick up one of the two varieties (of four!) of the Qrunch Foods Toastables from my grocery store.  A trusted brand can speak volumes.

My choice: Qrunch Foods Cinnamon-Vanilla Toastables.

Qrunch Foods Toastables are made from ancient whole grains (organic quinoa, organic amaranth, and organic millet) which provides a unique and filling breakfast.  They are, as always, 100% natural and 100% gluten-free.  The idea behind the Toastables is that they are lightly sweetened and go great with any sort of breakfast topping you might enjoy…from syrup to honey to nut butters to jellies to cream cheese.  Whatever floats your breakfast boat.  They look like a mix between a cereal-coated French Toast stick and a hash brown.  I’m okay with this.  And making them is easy too.

Simply pop these into your toaster for a couple of cycles and they are ready to eat.  I was eating these after going to the gym and heading into the office.  This meant that I didn’t have a gluten-free toaster to use.  Other options include cooking over medium-high heat in a skillet for 3-4 minutes per side…except I didn’t have a stovetop.  Luckily, my office does have a taster oven, so I baked these for about 15-20 minutes at 400 degrees until they were nice and warm throughout.  I served these up with a little bit of maple syrup.  Yummy.

I bet you’re wondering how they taste.  Well, they were nothing like I anticipated.  I loved the crunchy outer shell that I got from baking it (and you would too if you baked, used the skillet, or toasted it in the toaster).  If you microwave it, you will lose that aspect of the Toastable itself.  The Qrunch Foods Cinnamon-Vanilla Toastable had a grittiness to it, which comes from the various grains that are used to comprise it.  I’m on the fence on whether I liked that aspect or not.  It tasted a little dry…but the maple syrup I topped it off with helped with that.  The flavor was subtle, but I could definitely catch hints of the cinnamon and vanilla that were incorporated into the Toastable.  It was a quick bite, but quite filling.  Sort of like a dry, crunchy French toast or waffle…which isn’t a bad thing.  I just sort of expected a little more tenderness on the inside.  Although, overall, not bad.  Not bad at all.  Thank goodness for maple syrup!

Let’s discuss ingredients.  The Qrunch Foods Cinnamon-Vanilla Toastables are made from water, organic millet, organic quinoa, organic amaranth, organic refined coconut oil, organic arrowroot starch, organic cane sugar, organic apple cider vinegar, organic vanilla extract, sea salt, organic cinnamon, and organic non-GMO canola oil.  They are not only made with ancient whole grains, but also 100% gluten-free, soy-free, wheat-free, egg-free, dairy-free, and corn-free.

As far as nutrition goes, a serving is 1 of the Qrunch Foods Cinnamon-Vanilla Toastables.  There are four Toastables in each box.  This one serving will give you 120 calories and 4 grams of fat.  This will also give you 135 mg sodium and 1 gram of sugar.  Loving that.  These are cholesterol free and free of trans fat.  You will also be taking in 3 grams of fiber and 3 grams of protein.  So don’t let the size of them make you think they won’t fill you up.  These will hold you for the morning.

So, not an astounding find, but one that does make for a different and tasty breakfast for sure.  It’s easy to prepare…just takes a little time if you are toasting it up in the toaster oven or toaster, but as long as you aren’t famished, that’s not a problem at all.

Qrunch Foods Toastables are available in four flavors: Cinnamon-Vanilla, Blueberry-Lemon, Rich Maple and Original.  Look for them in your grocery store freezer.

Qrunch Foods Cinnamon-Vanilla Toastables (toasted)

Qrunch Foods Cinnamon-Vanilla Toastables (toasted)

Product Review: Lotus Foods Heirloom Forbidden Rice

Lotus Foods Heirloom Forbidden Rice

Lotus Foods Heirloom Forbidden Rice

Product: Lotus Foods Heirloom Forbidden Rice – $4.69+

You know, it only seems appropriate that in the February Cuisine Cube (aka: Happy V-Day 2015), a package of Forbidden Black Rice was included.  Nothing compliments the month of L-O-V-E like something that starts with the word forbidden.  Sounds exotic and exciting and…tasty.  Tasty because, well, it’s followed by the word rice!

February is all about love.  And one thing that I love is receiving my Cuisine Cube each month.  I mean, nothing says love quite like a box full of exciting, new, and enticing foods that are new to me and you.  But that’s what Cuisine Cube is all about.  This small group of foodies are searching high and low for gluten free products that aren’t highly processed, that are made by the smaller businesses and companies…and then…they ship these to you…each month.  This subscription is one of the best things I have ever done.  I mean…5-6 items for a month (breakfast, lunch, dinner, snack, dessert…and sometimes an added bonus!)…that’s a fantastic deal.  Seriously, you’ll fall in love with this service as quickly as I did.  I certainly encourage you to give them a try.  With subscriptions starting as low as $29.99…how can you turn that down?

Now, Lotus Foods is not a company that I am unfamiliar with anymore.  A few Cuisine Cube boxes ago, I received two pouches of the Lotus Foods Rice Ramen…and I loved them.  The products produced by Lotus Foods are recognized for their exceptional cooking quality, taste, texture, and superb nutritional value.  The ancient and new rices that compose their products are grown on family farms in limited quantities, on healthy, chemical-free soils.  The rice and rice products that are produced by Lotus Foods are found in specialty gourmet, natural food markets, grocery stores, white tablecloth restaurants throughout the United States, becoming a fast favorite of consumers who are seeking healthier options, as well as chefs and foodies across the country.

How’s that for a recommendation, eh?  So, last time it was noodles…this time…

Lotus Foods Heirloom Forbidden Rice.

Legend has it that heirloom forbidden rice was once eaten exclusively by the Emporors of China.  It is said to enrich health and ensuire longevity.  Forbidden rice is known for it’s beautiful, rich, deep purple color.  It has a soft texture and a slightly nutty taste.  This rice is high in a class of flavonoid antioxidants called anthocyanins, which is rich in iron and considered to be a blood tonifier.  A recent study also shows that a spoonful of black rice brown, or 10 spoonfuls of cooked black rice contains the same amount of antioxidants as a spoonful of fresh blueberries.  How’s that for a healthy powerhouse?  But, let’s not stop there…forbidden rice provides the richest nutritional value, providing higher levels of vitamins and minerals and fiber than any other bran rice, as well as a comprehensive range of amino acids, proteins, vegetable fats, and essential trace elements that are necessary for the body.  It is called “tribute rice” or “longevity rice” and was reserved for the Emperors of the Ming Dynasty to ensure their good health and long life.

Lotus Foods Heirloom Forbidden Rice (cooked)

Lotus Foods Heirloom Forbidden Rice (cooked)

This rice is super easy to prepare.  As I was being a bit nontraditional (shocker, I know) with mine, I ended up soaking my rice for about 30 minutes in water.  And then, I got to cooking it.  I turned on the stove and brought it up to a boil.  Once I had the rice rocking and rolling in the boiling water, I covered the pan and lowered the heat, letting the grain cook for 30 minutes.  When the rice was done, I removed it from the heat and let it sit another 10 minutes.

From there…I fluffed it with a fork and gave it a try.  Because, I had to taste it before it was messed with, yes?  Yes.  LOVE.  I would eat this rice however it was prepared.  On its own, even without any seasoning, it was honestly really good.  There is this great flavor to it.  Yes…the rich nuttiness that they mention above is there.  The rice is soft and just has this great flavor to it.  Don’t let the color dissuade you.  It’s amazing.

So, once I knew what it tasted like, I went and added a bit of sugar, some rice vinegar, and salt.  And BAMMO!  SUSHI RICE!  I let it sit while I was at work and then…tonight…dinner was vegetarian sushi!  Vegetarian sushi made with the Lotus Food Heirloom Forbidden Rice.  It was AMAZING!  The forbidden rice actually did great as the sushi rice.  It held together gorgeously and really made for a pretty sushi roll.  It wasn’t your standard white or brown rice roll. This gave it, not only a great flavor, but also a fantastic look on the plate.  It tasted amazing.  I have enough to do another two rolls as well, so this makes me super happy!

The Lotus Foods Heirloom Forbidden Rice is simply made up of black rice.  It is gluten-free and wheat-free, non-GMO and vegan.  It is love.

As far as nutrition goes, the Lotus Foods Heirloom Forbidden Rice is a powerhouse of nutrients and a great addition to your diet.  One serving is 1/3 cup dry rice.  This serving will give you 200 calories and 2 grams of fat.  A serving of this amazing rice will also give you 0 mg sodium, 175 mg potassium, and 1 gram of sugar.  This rice also gives you 3 grams of fiber and 6 grams of protein.  Filling, tasty, and delicious.  What more could you want?

I was excited that I started seeing some of the Lotus Foods products in my local grocery store.  I haven’t spotted the actual rices like the Lotus Foods Heirloom Forbidden Rice, but this was certainly a great introduction to this product.  And, I have Cuisine Cube to thank for it!

Vegetarian Sushi made with Lotus Foods Heirloom Forbidden Rice

Vegetarian Sushi made with Lotus Foods Heirloom Forbidden Rice


Product Review: CraveRight Gluten Free Jumbo Sesame Crunch Cookie

CraveRight Gluten Free Sesame Crunch Cookie

CraveRight Gluten Free Sesame Crunch Cookie

Product: CraveRight Gluten Free Jumbo Sesame Crunch Cookie – $3.99

I was so lucky this past Christmas, to be given one of my favorite gifts – a $50 Whole Foods Gift Card.  I vowed to only purchase products I have been meaning to try and just haven’t been able to “justify” for my tight weekly budget.  So, soon after the New Year passed, I decided to do a first round of product sweeping.

Now, naturally gluten free foods (fruits and veggies) I get delivered to my door.  Unless I have cancelled my CSA bin that week, I am pretty set on those.  And while I am doing much more clean eating these days, I decided to venture over to all those snack foods that are what all gluten-free people get stuck with.  Cookies, chips, candy…

Whoever said eating gluten-free will make you lose weight has never walked through the gluten-free sections of their local grocery or natural food stores.  Just sayin’.

And with that being said…we also know that the women in my family have quite the sweet tooth.  Oh yes…we all do come by it honestly.  And while for some people it’s cakes and cupcakes that they want…for me, it’s always been the simple, yet ultimately delicious…COOKIE.  Call me cookie monster, because I love cookies.  All types of cookies.  I have my favorites, sure, but…cookies are my kryptonite.

Well, there I was, perusing the aisles I had been skipping whenever in Whole Foods, when the giant cookies near the bottom shelf sort of just…sang to me.  It was a brand I was unfamiliar with – CraveRight.  So, I leaned down and picked one up…noting that these were not just gluten free, but also dairy free, soy free, egg free, nut free, and corn free.  They used no flours or starches, and actually was billing itself as a “natural meal replacement.”  Really?  A cookie?  There were three flavors of the jumbo cookies – Sesame Crunch, Chocolate Chunk, and Brownie Chocolate Chunk.  Next to them were cookie packs of the same cookies, smaller scale, more inside.  My roommate said, “get one of the big ones…just in case we don’t like them.”  Okay…good point.  I was all set for that Brownie Chocolate Chunk and I somehow let her talk me into the Sesame Crunch.  “You don’t often see sesame cookies!”  That was her thoughts on that matter.  And…I went along with it.  And this CraveRight Gluten Free Jumbo Sesame Crunch Cookie…made it home with me.

CraveRight was created in 2009, creating “crave-worthy cookies that don’t sabotage wellness goals but reinforce them.”  Tired of seeing so-called “healthy snacks” that weren’t really that good for you being sold on the market – many of which could not be eaten by people with food allergies and intolerances, and the taste all wrong – Roya S. came up with the idea of creating delicious, healthy treats – specifically their specialty – their 100% vegan, gluten-free, and nut-free cookies.  All of the cookies are baked and prepared in a dedicated gluten-free and nut-free facility so cross-contamination is not a problem.  CraveRight cookies are baked up being packaed with antioxidants and essential amino acids.  Not only that, they are proud that their cookies contain no empty-calorie ingredients – no flours, starches or fillers.  The CraveRight cookies are rich in iron and calcium, and low in sodium as well.  And, the company sources their ingredients from nearby, making sure that the ingredients are minimally processed (without chemicals) and made with only the finest of ingredients, free of contaminants.

Which, all sounds really good on paper, right?  But how do they taste?

I can only vouch for the CraveRight Gluten Free Jumbo Sesame Crunch Cookie…which I split with my roommate last night for dessert.  You know, I was having a bad day…I just ate an amazing comfort food dinner and was all set for dessert.  I grabbed the CraveRight Gluten Free Jumbo Sesame Crunch Cookie off my counter and declared it to be dessert.  If anything could make me feel better, it would be a cookie, right?

So, as is typical with huge cookies…I cut it in half and gave one side to my roommate while claiming the other for myself.  I climbed back onto the couch, restarted the episode of Game of Thrones I was watching, and took my first bite.

And I think my nose wrinkled up a little bit.  But it was only one bite.  Maybe my palate just needed cleansing.  So, I gave it another taste.  Nope.  This was not a cookie I was enjoying.  The CraveRight Gluten Free Jumbo Sesame Crunch Cookie was everything I didn’t like about a cookie.  The texture was crumbly.  I’m fine with a bit of crunch on my cookie, but I don’t want it to crumble when I try to eat it.  I have no kitchen or dining room table in my apartment, and I don’t want to have to vacuum my couch after dessert, thank you very much.  The flavor lacked sweetness.  I mean, regardless of whether a cookie is billed as a “healthy meal replacement” or not, I want it to taste like a cookie.  And this didn’t.  It tasted like…a snack.  Like those savory sesame sticks that were put into snack mixes and most people skipped eating.  I think I was expecting something like a sunbutter cookie…a little more richness and depth of flavor, but that’s not what I got at all.  They were bland and rather…tasteless.  That bit of sesame came through in the end, but that’s about all I can say about that.  It was not a winning cookie in my book, and we know I eat lots of cookies.  The part near the middle was slightly chewy, but everything else was just…wrong.  I wasn’t a fan at all.

Neither was my roomie.

As far as what goes into the CraveRight Gluten Free Jumbo Sesame Crunch Cookies…it seems rather basic.  So…that is good.  These cookies are made from sesame seeds, palm shortening, demerara sugar, tahini, sesame powder, water, chicory extract, flax meal, baking soda, baking powder, and sea salt.  Not actually a bad list of ingredients.

It’s just too bad they didn’t come together to form a cohesively delicious cookie.

Since the CraveRight Gluten Free Sesame Crunch Cookie is billed as a “natural meal replacement” and carries the sentiment “Crave One. Eat Two.” on each package, let’s really focus for a moment on these nutritional facts.  A serving size of the CraveRight Gluten Free Jumbo Sesame Crunch Cookie is 1/2 of the cookie.  Yes…half.  This half will deliver 170 calories and 13 grams of fat.  These cookies are cholesterol free, have only 90 mg sodium per serving and only 5 grams of sugar.  One serving will also give you 3 grams of fiber and 6 grams of protein.  I still don’t think I’d eat a cookie instead of my dinner though.  Just sayin’.

So, color me unimpressed and highly disappointed.  I was not at all craving another bite of the CraveRight Gluten Free Sesame Crunch Cookie.  In fact, it was a struggle just to get the half I had finished.  It wasn’t what I wanted in a cookie at all, “healthy” or not.  Beyond disappointed.  I felt cheated out of my dessert last night.

You win some, you lose some.

CraveRight Gluten Free Jumbo Sesame Crunch Cookie

CraveRight Gluten Free Jumbo Sesame Crunch Cookie

Product Review: Fiona’s Natural Foods Gluten Free Cherry Pecan Oatmeal

Fiona's Natural Foods Gluten Free Cherry Pecan Oatmeal

Fiona’s Natural Foods Gluten Free Cherry Pecan Oatmeal

Product: Fiona’s Natural Foods Gluten Free Cherry Pecan Oatmeal – $4.99

January has come and gone, but some of us are clinging tightly to our New Years Resolutions.  There are so many new members at my gym that it’s virtually impossible to get a machine unless you arrive at 5 a.m.  Granted, this happens every year…but it can still be quite the gauntlet to run for about 2-3 months.  Along with exercise come vows to eat better and to diet, diet, diet.  Now, I’m not one to technically diet.  I try to mind what I eat (although I have my weaknesses…like anything creamy like a nut/seed butter) all throughout the year, but it seems when everyone around you is dieting, you become a bit more mindful of what you’re eating as well.

Leave it to Cuisine Cube, then, to put together the perfect cube for January 2015.  Enclosed inside were some really fantastic gluten-free products…that had a healthy edge to each and every one of them.  I have already dined on the gluten-free white chili mix.  And while I have plenty left in this cube, this past day, I realized I was out of my little pouches of oatmeal for lunch…so therefore, I needed something to feast on at work.  Since oatmeal is my thing…I remembered that Cuisine Cube had included a package of oatmeal in the latest delivery.  I went and dug it out of the box and took it into the kitchen to see about getting it ready for the following day at work.

But I’ll get to that soon enough.  Let me first talk about Cuisine Cube.  Cuisine Cube is a mail delivery service, starting at a cost as low as $29.99, which delivers amazing, local, small artisan gluten-free products and foods to your doorstep each month.  Encased in each box you will find 5-6 products that are free of preservatives and chemicals that you are likely to find in the more common gluten-free product brand names on the shelves of your grocery store.  When I first signed up for this, I wasn’t sure what to expect.  But I’m hooked.  And I love the surprise I get each month when I open up the box and dig out what they included this time.  It is truly like Christmas every month.  And I have liked and loved pretty much everything that that have included.  Not always…but they have a good streak going this far.

Well, with all the promises to get fit and stay fit, it seems Cuisine Cube was prepared.  For the breakfast item in the January 2015 cube, they included a pack of Fiona’s Natural Foods Gluten Free Cherry Pecan Oatmeal.  This is not the first time Fiona’s Natural Foods has been a part of my Cuisine Cube.  I’ve had the opportunity to try (and love) a granola that was included in the very first Cuisine Cube I received (May 2014).  This made me very excited to give the oatmeal a try.  Fiona’s Natural Foods’ mission is simply to offer consumers an organic, gourmet product that is superior in taste, texture, quality, and nutritional value.  They commit themselves to this mission with each product they have on the market.  In my January Cuisine Cube, it was the Fiona’s Natural Foods Gluten Free Cherry Pecan Oatmeal.

The first thing I did was scan the packaging for the instructions on how to prepare it.  They had a few options…stove top, microwave, or cold.  I love overnight oats, and it’s so much easier to do for work than try to fit into the line for the one microwave we have for the 18 people that work in the actual office.  So, that’s what I did.  There weren’t many instructions, just to combine the oatmeal with milk and let it sit overnight.  There were no measurements, so I went with the measurements for the warm version of this cereal.  1/4 cup of the oatmeal – 1/2 cup of milk (I used Silk Unsweetened Cashew Milk).  I put it in a mason jar and set it in the fridge overnight.  There was a lot of liquid, but I was hoping that the oats would soak most of it up as it sat overnight.  It didn’t.  Not really…but it was no bother to me.

That following afternoon, around noon, when I usually take my lunch, I went to the kitchen at the office where I stashed my jar of milk and oats in the fridge and brought it back to my desk.  I took one bite…and was amazed.  The crazy amount of flavor and texture that comes with each bite is fantastic.  I will definitely have to give this a try warm in the next few days…but cold it was soupy (so much milk), but amazing.  The European-style oatmeal is a hearty and wholesome blend of dried fruits, oats, nuts and seeds.  There was no added sugars, no added oil.  Nothing that shouldn’t be in there.  Extra love just for that.  So, I carefully brought a spoonful of the chilled oats and cashew milk up to my lips and tried it.

I am beyond in love with this blend.  First of all…the flavors that come out of having no sweeteners or spices included in the ingredients is fantastic.  The seeds and nuts make each spoonful take on a fantastic and intriguing texture.  I loved the variety.  The raisins and tart cherries plumped up sitting in the milk overnight and were sweet and sour all at once.  It was fantastic.  In fact, today I made it up for my roommate as well.  Remember, Cathy doesn’t have to eat gluten-free or vegan or vegetarian…but she does in the apartment.  And, guess what?  She LOVED the oatmeal.  In fact, she said her favorite part was how plump and ripe the bits of raisin and cherry got.  Yeah…it’s a total win.  Super delicious.  I would make this for breakfast, lunch and dinner in a total heartbeat!

Let’s talk ingredients, shall we?  The Fiona’s Natural Foods Gluten Free Cherry Pecan Oatmeal is made from certified gluten free rolled oats, certified gluten free steel cut oats, raisins, flax seeds, dried sour cherries, pecans, and sunflower seeds.  Yes…that is it.  It is raw, wheat free, vegan, soy free, salt free, gluten free, and amazing!!  Just pure and simply amazing.

As for nutrition, a serving of Fiona’s Natural Foods Gluten Free Cherry Pecan Oatmeal is 1/4 cup.  In this serving, you will be taking in 120 calories and 4 grams of fat.  You will also be provided with only 3 grams of sugar.  Isn’t that fantastic.  This oatmeal is cholesterol free and sodium free.  Finally, you will be consuming 3 grams of fiber and 4 grams of protein, which will help make you feel full once you finish your serving.  It truly is one of the most fantastic oatmeal combinations I have ever eaten.

I can’t find Fiona’s Natural Foods products here in my area, so when I get something like this, it truly does make me want to place an order for more.  And that will certainly be happening as the way this oatmeal plays across your taste buds and excites your palate is really unmatched by anything else I have eaten.  Truly a fantastic food in and of itself.  Hot or cold…you’re going to want to devour the Fiona’s Natural Foods Gluten Free Cherry Pecan Oatmeal.  I know it won’t last long in my pantry.

Another brilliant product brought to me by the amazing Cuisine Cube.  I am forever in their debt.

Overnight Oats made from Fiona's Natural Foods Gluten Free Cherry Pecan Oatmeal

Overnight Oats made from Fiona’s Natural Foods Gluten Free Cherry Pecan Oatmeal

Product Review: SuperButter Original Crunchy Seed Butter

SuperButter Original Crunchy Seed Butter

SuperButter Original Crunchy Seed Butter

Product: SuperButter Original Crunchy Seed Butter – $5.00+

I am an athlete.  I’m also a vegetarian.  And this means that I often search for foods that are nutrient dense and provide a good hit of protein, healthy fats, and energy.  One of my favorite go-to foods has always been peanut butter.  I have absolutely no willpower when it comes to peanut butter.  And, thankfully, I do not have a food allergy to nuts.  Whew.  I grew up eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches or fluffernutters.  I put peanut butter on celery sticks with raisins.  I eat peanut butter pancakes.  I love, love, love peanut butter.  In fact, I have my own jar which, when I am feeling down, I often raid with a spoon and try to not eat the whole thing in one sitting.  It’s happened.  It is my favorite comfort food.  In texture, taste (sweet and salty)…I have never met a peanut butter that I don’t like.

And, a couple years ago, I went to the good stuff.  Yes…peanut butter that is made strictly from nuts.  No added sugars, oils, or anything.  Yes, this does mean I have to stir the jar when I open it…but then I just flip it upside down and store it in the refrigerator.  It’s a great arm workout to say the least and worth it when I churn out gorgeous, creamy peanut butter at the end of it.  And, it stays creamy in the fridge without getting too solid to spread.  If I am going to have a go-to comfort food like peanut butter, by God, it’s going to have as few ingredients in it as humanly possible.

It just so happened that when Cuisine Cube sent out their September Cube (aka: Back To School), there was a jar of SuperButter Original Crunchy Seed Butter included.  I was elated.  No…really.  This is how much I love nut butters.  And, while technically, this is not a nut butter…it’s the same concept.  And I was just all awash with happiness because…when it comes to favorite things…nut/seed butters rank right up there in my life.  When a little jar of delicious nut/seed butter arrives at my doorstep…you best believe a happy dance ensued.

For those of you new to my blog…let me briefly tell you about the amazing service that Cuisine Cube offers.  Cuisine Cube is a service that was developed by foodies, bringing small and local artisan gluten free products to your house.  The items we can find in the grocery store are all fine and good, but often so processed and laden with food additives and subpar ingredients.  This small group of food enthusiasts set out to find better products for those of us in the gluten-free world.  Based out of New York City, a food haven for sure, the ‘little guy’ products can be hard to find and might even require a trip to a specialty store.  But not anymore, because these awesome and amazing brands are now being sent to you on a monthly basis, with plans starting as low as $29.99.  That’s a great deal, considering you get at least 5 products (a breakfast, lunch, dinner, snack, and dessert) in each cube, and occasionally, you get an extra product thrown in.  Seriously…if it wasn’t worth it, I wouldn’t still be doing it.  I have experienced so much more from the gluten-free world due to Cuisine Cube…discovering and being introduced to brands and businesses I never would have known about otherwise.

So, when I dug into my Back To School (aka: September) Cube, I was greeted with a plethora of amazing products, that are also very good for people with kids going back to school.  I have no children, but that didn’t deter me any.  Nope.  And, finally this week, when I opened up the Alce Nero Gallette di Riso Integrale (Rice Cakes), I had a perfect vehicle for the SuperButter Original Crunchy Seed Butter.  Everything falls into place so nicely, doesn’t it?  So, the other day, I dished out 2 tablespoons of the seed butter to take to work with me to spread onto my rice cakes…

…I knew I loved nut and seed butters…but SuperButter just took it to a whole new level.  FANTASTIC!!  SUPERB!! I fell in love at first taste, which might have been straight out of the jar.  And it might have been followed by a few more tastings before I had to give into my willpower and put it away.  This is the best seed butter I have ever tasted.  And as someone with a nephew who has a nut allergy, I have tried many of the seed butter options out there.  They have all been decent enough, but never this fantastic.  SuperButter is packed with the best flavor and texture.  I credit this to the roasted seeds that go into the making of this butter, and the creaminess that emerges.  Silky and smooth.  Even with the added sesame and flax seeds for the crunch factor in this variety, it was just smooth.  No grittiness.  Just…SuperYum!  I may sneak tastes out of the jar when I duck into the kitchen.  That might not be a maybe…I actually do that.  SO amazing and delicious.  It has been awhile since a simple product has knocked me for a loop like this, but WOW.  I have heard that GNC sells this in their stores.  I’m going to have to stop in and find out.

SuperButter is available in a variety of flavors, including: Crunchy Original (the one I received), Creamy Original, Creamy Vanilla Bean, and Creamy Chocolate.  SuperButter is made from real, whole ingredients, as nothing artificial is permitted.  Everything starts with the roasted seeds for the base, then they sweeten the deal with cane sugar, smooth it out with palm oil, and season it up with some sea salt.  It doesn’t get much better than that, right?  Oh…it might…

Let’s talk about ingredients, shall we?  The SuperButter Original Crunchy Seed Butter is made from roasted sunflower, sesame and flax Seeds, cane sugar, palm oil, and sea salt.  SuperButter is high in protein, fiber and antioxidants (omega 3’s and vitamin E).  They are gluten-free, trans-fat free, and cholesterol free.  And, they contain less fat than regular peanut or nut butters.  How do you love that?  I love that…just from the aspect that I overindulge in nut butters ALL the time.  If I can do it without packing on the fat that comes with it…even better.

Made from real, whole ingredients – no artificial anything is permitted. Roasted sunflower, flax and sesame seeds comprise the flavorful base, with a little cane sugar, palm oil and sea salt added for maximum deliciousness!

As for nutrition, a serving of SuperButter Original Crunchy Seed Butter is 2 tablespoons.  In this serving, you will be devouring a delicious 200 calories and 16 grams of fat.  Don’t worry…this is actually the good kind of fat.  Everything in moderation…right?  YES!  One serving will also provide 65 mg sodium and 3 grams of sugar.  In addition, you’ll be filled up with goodness with the hearty 3 grams of fiber and 8 grams of protein that are provided.  And I absolutely love the sesame and flax seeds that are mixed in to bring that crunch factor in.  SO good.

I don’t think I ever would have known that something like SuperButter Original Crunchy Seed Butter existed if not for Cuisine Cube.  Yet another reason that this is such a worthwhile and amazing subscription service.  I am on the hunt for more SuperButter now locally…and if I can’t find it, I am totally hitting up their Web site to order it myself.  Because, honestly, no lie…the jar is already almost empty.  So much for self-control and willpower!

SuperButter Original Crunchy Seed Butter (on a gluten-free rice cake)

SuperButter Original Crunchy Seed Butter (on Alce Nero Gallette di Riso Integrale (rice cake)