Quick Thoughts From the Week

It was a long, holiday weekend.  YAY!!  And, as is usual for me over the 4th of July…I was out of town.  At a convention.  In Indianapolis.  Now, normally when I am up in Indy for this convention, my Saturday morning is spent running the Monon Trail.  It’s gorgeous.  Seriously.  I always look forward to it.  The past few years (last year I wasn’t able to run at all at this point), I have managed to get out there for my long run of 10-12 or so miles.

monon

But, this past weekend, Saturday’s Monon Trail run wasn’t happening…

MEH.

SO…on Saturday morning, I was down in the fitness center at 6 am…and on a treadmill to do 12 miles that morning.  I started easy and worked up a ladder to a comfortable speed and then took it back down.  It was mind numbing, despite the music (and to think, I almost left my iPod in my room).  But, my training run was done.

And if that wasn’t enough punishment, I got up on Sunday morning to do my shakeout run.  I decided to do an easy run for an hour…getting 7.36 miles in during that time.

I was feeling it Saturday and I really felt it Sunday.  I hate running on treadmills.  They seem to do more damage to me than road running does.  I was sore through Wednesday, honestly.  I don’t know how people do long distances on these things on a regular basis.  My body couldn’t handle it!

giphy (26)

My runs have been suffering since those treadmill runs.  The hip was not mad…but not happy either.  MEH.  Not enough foam rolling in the world.  Of course…the epic humidity with air so thick you could cut it with a knife…isn’t helping either.

But, despite the humidity and the fatigue from late nights, I’ve been keeping up with my training runs.  Which…is impressive for me.  It’s not been easy to get out of bed to just go outside and melt…but…

giphy (27)
…I’ve been getting it done.  It hasn’t been pretty…and I’m not always happy with the results on my Garmin, but I’m doing what my body is currently capable of…so, there is that.

OH…and this past week, I got to play around with recipes that I created.  I made 6 different recipes…2 pasta dishes, a fusion pizza, a rice dish, a sandwich, and a dessert.  I was quite proud of the results…all based off of Peter Cincotti’s recently released EP, Exit 105.  Check out these images of the completed dishes…

 

Top (L-R): Island Spell Pizza (song: Palermo) – Jerk seasoned tofu, topped with onion, bell pepper, pineapple, cheddar cheese, and a Jamaican jerk coleslaw; Missing Sara Sammie (song: What’s Sara Doing?) – sammie layered with sweet potato, hummus, avocado (or guacamole), and kale; Unexpected Beat Tagliatelle (song: Long Way From Home) – tagliatelle pasta in a bechemel sauce and topped with shredded beets, goat cheese, parsley, toasted pine nuts, and toasted bread crumbs

Botton (L-R): Roamin’ Skies Pasta (song: Roman Skies) – my take on the traditional Roman dish – Cacio e Pepe – pasta mixed with butter, black pepper, Pecorino and Parmesan cheeses; Exit 105 Rice-A-Roni (Album Title: Exit 105) – my version of the San Francisco Treat (after all, Exit 105 takes you to the Golden Gate Bridge)…and it has been dubbed my “best rice dish in the history of ever”; Sexy on the Beach Ice Cream (song: Sexy) – a vegan ice cream made from coconut cream, pureed raspberries, pureed pineapple, chambord and vodka…just like the drink Sex on the Beach…

I love getting chefy.

So, aside from a little bit of work stress…that’s what’s going on thus far.  Stay tuned as this weekend is going to be amazing.  I can tell.

Advertisements

Restaurant Review: Hops & Fire: Craft Tap House

Hops & Fire: Craft Tap House, Greenwood, Indiana

Hops & Fire: Craft Tap House, Greenwood, Indiana

Restaurant: Hops & Fire: Craft Tap House, Greenwood, Indiana

Normally, whenever I venture up to Indianapolis for an event, race, or whatnot, my one requirement is a stop at Cheeseburger in Paradise…because I can get a gluten-free veggie burger with gluten-free fries (or sweet potato fries)…and the burger custom made (no cheese; no sour cream) to fit my dietary needs.  This is awesome, as any frozen burger patty, or even homemade burger, tend to be a bit mushy and end up slipping out of any sort of gluten-free bread used as a bun (be it an actual gluten-free bun or just some gluten-free bread).  Cheeseburger in Paradise doesn’t have that problem…and it’s nice to be able to safely eat a veggie burger (so many use breadcrumbs as binder) out at a restaurant AND not have to eat it with a fork and knife (meaning…they have a gluten-free bun and I can pick it up).

Needless to say, I ran two half marathons, two weeks apart up in Indianapolis.  After the first one (OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini Marathon), I did hit up Cheeseburger in Paradise.  But two weeks later, I wasn’t ready to revisit Paradise.  I just had it.  My craving had been satisfied.

That being said, when I returned to the Indianapolis to run the Geist Half Marathon, I wanted to try something different.  Step out of the comfort zone…try something new.

I had been hearing some buzz around a place located in Greenwood, Indiana, by a bunch of my friends up in that area.  It was a craft beer tap house called Hops & Fire.  And what was pointed out more than once was that when you step inside to be seated, the hostess will ask if you require any special menus.  In addition to their regular menu, they have extensive vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free menus.  I told her I was a gluten-free vegetarian and she grabbed both of those menus and a regular one for Cathy and told me that the menus don’t often cross over each other, but anything on either menu can be made gluten-free, vegan, or vegetarian.  She took us to our table and we were seated.

Our waiter was totally adorable and came over to introduce himself.  His name was Kyle and he asked how we were doing.  Cathy pointed at me and said, “Well, she just ran a half marathon…”  He raised his eyebrows and said, “So I’m guessing you want water.”  HA!  He was so right.  Cathy had thought about trying one of their craft selections, but in the end started with the water.

Two menus and having so many options was a bit overwhelming to me.  The only thing I knew I wanted to try was Gluten Free 3-Cheese Garlic Bread.  I bought Lactaid specifically for this meal.  No joke.  We went ahead and mentioned that we wanted that as an appetizer and Kyle said he’d put that in while we finished making our decisions on what to eat, as it was the appetizer that took the longest to prepare.  While he was gone, I started to narrow down my choices, getting it down to three options.  After a little back and forth and pros and cons, I went for the one that didn’t contain cheese…as I was certain I was about to consume more cheese than my body was going to like momentarily.

Kyle returned to take our order, and as usual, as I’m the complicated one, I ordered first.  I went with the Gluten Free California Wrap…keeping the House Chips as a side.  Cathy went with the Stout Pork Belly BLT, which was served with a side of their Parmesan House Chips.  Orders were in…after Kyle had to go and figure out how to combine two menus to make a dish.  Poor guy!

Hops & Fire Gluten Free 3-Cheese Garlic Bread

Hops & Fire Gluten Free 3-Cheese Garlic Bread

Only a few moments late, a large plate was being carried to our table and put in front of us.  Clearly, when I saw the fact that I could get Gluten Free 3-Cheese Garlic Bread…I didn’t read the description.  This plate and appetizer was HUGE.  Definitely enough for 4-8 people.  Hops & Fire Gluten Free 3-Cheese Garlic Bread ($9.00), is a full gluten-free baguette, which is drenched in roasted garlic and salted butter, served with a gooey, melted blanket of shallots and chives, which are smothered in Provolone, Mozzarella, and Romano cheeses.  This is then baked so that the top of the cheese gets golden and everything is melty and ooey-gooey.  It comes with a side of marinara.  I took my Lactaid and hoped for the best (sometimes it helps; other times, it doesn’t).  I grabbed the slice on the end and pulled it away, the cheese stretching and making me…so happy.  I cut it up, dipped a piece into the marinara…and immediately lost my mind.  If you go to Hops & Fire, this is their signature appetizer and it is not to be missed.  The gluten-free baguette was crispy on the outside and that perfect toasty, but still soft on the inside.  The cheese was melted to perfection.  The garlic was superb.  Yeah…this made me SO happy.  And, for the record, the Lactaid worked…this time.  Thank goodness!  This was A LOT of food, so Cathy and I said we’d eat half of it and get a box and take the rest of it home.  That’s what we did as our food arrived.  We boxed it up…and it was lunch the next day.

Hops & Fire Stout Pork Belly BLT with a side of Parmesan House Chips

Hops & Fire Stout Pork Belly BLT with a side of Parmesan House Chips

So, let’s start with Cathy’s lunch, shall we?  My om-nom-nomnivore (haha) friend loves to eat pig in any form she can.  This is no joke.  She loves her pork products.  So it was no surprise to me that she chose the Hops & Fire Stout Pork Belly BLT ($12.00) off of their Brewed Baskets selections on the regular menu.  It came with a decent serving of their Parmesan House Chips on the side.  This sandwich is not your typical BLT.  Hops & Fire serves up a stout beer and kosher salt-brined local pork belly, which is seared, roasted, sliced thin, and pan fried, then topped with baby bibb lettuce, beefsteak tomatoes, and homemade apricot onion jam…served on their grilled garlic shallot bread.  Here’s the thing…they do NOT skimp on the pork belly bacon in this BLT.  Not one bit.  You’ll see by the photo I’m putting up here for those of you who are not a gluten-free vegetarian like me.  I mean…it was BACON. FOR. DAYS.  She had more bacon than Parmesan House Chips.  And that’s not a bad thing, as the protein is, honestly, what you are shelling out money for.  She said the garlic shallot bread was amazing (we Celiacs will never know…).  She said it could have used a slight bit more mayo…but it was awesome.  And yes…she devoured it all and the chips.  Carnivores.  Oy!

Hops & Fire Gluten Free California Wrap with a mountain of House Chips

Hops & Fire Gluten Free California Wrap with a side of House Chips

As for me…I went ahead and combined an offering on the Vegetarian Menu and asked that it be made gluten-free.  I opted for the Gluten Free California Wrap ($12.00)…mostly because it didn’t have cheese and avocado always wins.  The California Wrap is a gluten-free tortilla that is stuffed and rolled up around fresh sliced avocado, beefsteak tomato, bibb lettuce, pickled onions, and a roasted garlic aioli. OH MY GLUTEN FREE GODS!!  This was a simple, basic, wrap, but it tasted amazing to me.  Maybe it was because I had just pounded out 13.1 miles and was living off of watermelon and water at that point, but this wrap was great.  Gluten-free tortillas are nothing to write home about, and I’m pretty certain this was the standard gluten-free teff tortilla.  But it just serves as a way for me to pick up and devour the veggie-licious produce that was stuffed and rolled up inside.  The aioli, by the way, was delicious.  The avocado was ripe and sweet.  The tomatoes…so good.  I loved every bite of this wrap.  It came with a mountain…no…a landslide of their House Chips, which I couldn’t even finish.  Where Cathy had a decent side of hers, the chips serving was bigger than my wrap…so…I ate what I wanted and left the rest.

Hops & Fire Gluten Free and Vegan Ice Cream Sundae

Hops & Fire Gluten Free and Vegan Ice Cream Sundae

We were full, but we couldn’t end our experience there.  Kyle tempted us with a dessert menu, pointing out that those marked with a gf were gluten free and also the codes for vegan and vegetarian as well.  We were very tempted to get one of the Desserts For Two (yeah…we so wanted the Gluten Free and Vegan S’mores Cast Iron Cake), but in the end, decided we were too full for that and went with splitting a single serving of the Vegan Ice Cream Sundae ($5.00).  This was a small bowl (thank goodness) that had a scoop of vegan ice cream, drizzled lightly with hot fudge.  It was perfect and a great way to end the meal.  It was amazing.  The ice cream was not as creamy as regular ice cream, but it was cold and melty and amazing.  And the hot fudge…that’s always a welcome addition to anything ice cream-ish.

Kyle brought us our check once we had polished it off and we paid in cash and got our things together to go.  We talked about the food for a bit of the drive home…and how amazing and good it was.  I was beyond happy with the service and the attention paid to each dish that was ordered, making sure that it fit my dietary needs…nothing that made me take pause and question whether it was safe for me to eat or not.

I’m already planning my return to Hops & Fire.  So, if you happen to be in the Indianapolis area, or traveling through, do make the trip to Greenwood and check out this amazing and delicious place.  You have a specialty diet…they have you covered.  And I love it.

Next time…gluten-free onion rings.  It’s happening!

Product Review: Sweet Note Gluten Free Sunrise Swirl Bagels

Sweet Note Gluten Free Sunrise Swirl Bagel

Sweet Note Gluten Free Sunrise Swirl Bagel

Product: Sweet Note Gluten Free Sunrise Swirl Bagels – $9.99

To a former New Yorker…love is a good gluten-free bagel.  And when I say good, I mean that it has to actually be NY-style bagel quality.  For the longest time, this is exactly what every single gluten-free bagel I tried wasn’t.  Not to say the big corporation names that have placed gluten-free bagels in the freezers of grocery stores and natural food stores didn’t put out a quality product.  In fact, I’ve been smitten by both Udi’s Gluten Free Bagels and the Canyon Bakehouse Gluten Free Bagels (EVERY. SINGLE. VARIETY).  But then…

…the ultimate gluten-free bagel tweeted its way into my life.  This is not a joke.  It literally tweeted its way into my life.

I’m talking about Sweet Note Bakery and their amazing, gluten-free, vegan, delicious NY-style bagels!  Sweet Note saw my link to my blog on the Canyon Bakehouse bagels and challenged me to try their bagels.  While I was hesitant at first, I finally decided that it was actually worth a try.  Their Web site intrigued me.  The bagels looked phenomenal…and they made traditional NY-style bagels.  Not these giant monstrosities the other gluten-free bagel manufacturers were producing…but dense, thick, and perfect NY-style bagels.  Size does matter when it comes to bagels.  An authentic bagel should be about 3 inches in diameter, have a crunchy crust and a chewy, dense center.  And this…this is what Sweet Note recreated to perfection.

Sweet Note began in 2012, when founder and president, Michelle MacDonald, stepped up to a challenge.  She had been baking ever since she was a child and was very passionate about it.  When her grandfather and sister were diagnosed with Celiac Disease, she took the first steps on her entrepreneurial journey.  Her family really missed a good New York Style bagel.  (Hey…I can’t blame them…I know this feeling all too well). So with a lot of experimentation and trial and error, MacDonald perfected the recipe, getting huge approval from her family (also bagel lovers).  Gluten-free bagels that taste good?!  It was a reality.  Sweet Note Bakery’s vision is to make gluten-free options more readily accessible.  Those of us who live with Celiac understand how isolating this disease can be, when you can’t have a meal while out with friends and family, be it at a restaurant or a ballpark, or wherever your adventures take you.  MacDonald wanted to change that…one gluten-free bagel at a time.

And she did…and now she’s delivering these bagels, one step at a time, to the gluten-free (and even the non-gluten-free community).  Seriously, purchasing (and continuing to purchase so that my freezer is never without bagels) bagels from Sweet Note was one of the best gluten-free food decisions I have made…in the history of ever!

I know that I recently reported on the latest four flavors (three of which were online exclusive), but Sweet Note has been busy prepping new flavors and have released three more!!  YES!!  And, for the record…YES…I bought them.  Like…the day that they were announced.  I am not ashamed.  I proudly wave my gluten-free bagel lovin’ flag.  A happy freezer contains a package of some sort of Sweet Note’s amazing bagels.

Well, the three new flavors are actually quite playful and fun.  They introduced the French Toast Bagel, the Sunrise Swirl Bagel, and the Unicorn Bagel (aka: Rainbow Bagel).  My Unicorn Bagels are on the way, but the freezer has been happily cradling my packages of the French Toast Bagel and Sunrise Swirl Bagel…up until yesterday when breakfast rolled around.

I came home from spin class that morning and asked my roommate, who had emerged from her room and was shambling toward the couch, which bagel she’d like to try today.  I won’t lie…I also have the Tomato Basil in the freezer…as they make amazing Bagel Pizzas.  HA!  She immediately said, “Sunrise Swirl.”  Okay…it might have been sort of sleepily slurred (she hadn’t had coffee yet), but I pulled out the bagels that were beautifully swirled with reds and oranges and yellows and set about the usual prep on a Sweet Note Bagel.

My current thawing method seems to be perfect.  So, you can always give this a go too, because I expect you to order at least ONE variety of their bagels.  You won’t be disappointed.  Anyway…my currrent method for perfect defrosting in the microwave…30 seconds on one side, then flip it over for another 30 seconds.  Let it sit for a moment and then slice in half.  If you’re not into toasting (like a true New Yorker), then go ahead and schmear this bagel up with whatever goodness you like.  If you are a true New Yorker (or not) but love a toasted bagel (like me!)…toast it up.  If you have a toaster…go to town.  If you, like me, don’t own a toaster, simply put these beauties on a baking sheet and into an oven heated to 350°F for about 15-20 minutes.  I left them to toast while I showered and changed…and emerged in enough time to get my breakfast chef skills on.

An Egg & "Cheese" Bagel Sammie made with the Sweet Note Gluten Free Sunrise Swirl Bagels

An Egg & “Cheese” Bagel Sammie made with the Sweet Note Gluten Free Sunrise Swirl Bagels

Deciding to do something a little different, I (*GASP*) skipped the cream cheese schmearing this particular morning and instead, dug out my little egg pan and cracked an egg into it, frying it to perfection.  While the egg was working, I pulled some Daiya Cheddar-Style Slices out of the fridge and placed them on the bottom half of the bagels as they finished up their toasting time in the oven.  This gave the cheese some time to melt (as well as vegan cheese melts).  Afterwards, I placed fried eggs on each bagel and topped it off with the top half.  Breakfast sammies…DONE!

Even better…gorgeous breakfast sammies at that.  The colors were amazing and bright and just…beautiful in the Sunrise Swirl Bagels.  What makes that even better is that the colors (that smattering of sunshine) are added naturally to their original plain bagel recipe by using spices such as paprika, annatto, and turmeric.  Yep.  No fake chemicals, dyes, or bad stuff.  Don’t you love it?

Needless to say…the bagels are not only colorful and uplifting to your spirit on an early morning…but they taste good too.  This was the first time I stuck a fried egg between a Sweet Note bagel…but it certainly won’t be the last.  The Sweet Note Gluten Free Sunrise Swirl Bagels taste like an ordinary bagel, but they are extraordinary.  You’ll love how it will perk up your breakfast, whether you schmear it with butter, cream cheese, jam, nut butter…whatever floats your breakfast boat, right?  OR…go ahead and use it as a vehicle for a fried egg, or some (vegan) bacon or (vegan) sausage…layer it with (vegan) mayo and stick some tomato and greens in there.  The gorgeously swirled carb-loaded disk of goodness is your canvas…so accessorize it however you want.

Let’s discuss what goes into Sweet Note Gluten Free Sunrise Swirl Bagels, shall we?  These bagels are made from love (yep…actual ingredient that is…and one that makes ALL the difference), water, white rice flour, tapioca flour, sweet white rice flour, sorghum flour, sugar, cane syrup, olive oil, molasses, yeast, xanthan gum, psyllium husk, salt, paprika coloring, annatto coloring, and turmeric coloring.  As with all of Sweet Note’s bagel offerings, these are completely gluten-free, soy-free, dairy-free, non-GMO, egg-free, peanut & tree nut-free, and cholesterol free.

As for nutritional information, Sweet Note really stacks up when it comes to fueling and providing for your body.  These stats are equal to if not better than standard bagels out on the market.  A serving size of the Sweet Note Gluten Free Sunrise Swirl Bagels is 4.5 ounces (128 grams) and there are four (4) servings per package.  One bagel will provide you with 290 calories, 3.5 grams fat, 0.5 grams saturated fat, 0 grams trans fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 320 mg sodium, 170 mg potassium, 62 grams carbohydrates, 4 grams fiber, 8 grams sugars, and 5 grams of protein.  The higher protein and fiber definitely helps keep you feeling full throughout the day.

Here’s something all those big corporation gluten-free bagel producers aren’t doing…they aren’t stepping outside of the box when it comes to bagels.  But Sweet Note is not only thinking outside the box, but they are stepping up and really taking charge of the gluten-free bagel market out there.  Where else will you be able to find a gluten-free bagel that is gorgeously swirled with colors…no where.  While they do offer the standards as well, Sweet Note has really stepped up and created bagels that you normally could only get in a glutenous form at a bagel shop, probably in New York City.  The Sunrise Swirl Bagel is a definite example of that.  And it is not only a joy to look at, but also to eat.  It will brighten up your morning for sure.

The Sweet Note Gluten Free Sunrise Swirl Bagel is an Online Exclusive offering, so hop on over to their Bagel Shop and place and order ASAP.  While you’re at it, try out a few of their other flavors, standard, or artisan…it doesn’t matter.  I swear, you won’t be disappointed.

Product Review: Sweet Note Gluten Free Onion Bagels

 

005

Sweet Note Gluten Free Onion Bagels

Product: Sweet Note Gluten Free Onion Bagels – $7.25

Oh yeah…Sweet Note Bakery is back with some brand new flavors in their online store…and this just means morning are bagelicous again.  Bagelicious is a word, for the record.  I used it in a sentence.  HA!

The moment the announcement of the store carrying their new Online Exclusive flavor on Sweet  Note Bakery’s social media sights, I was heading over there to make a purchase?  Because…that is how much I love these bagels.  No other gluten-free bagels live up to the amazing flavor, texture, taste, and size of these bagels.  And I don’t mean bagels as big as your head, either.

If you have looked at past reviews of other Sweet Note Gluten Free Bagels that I have written, you will know that they developed a gluten-free (and vegan) New York-style bagel for all of us to enjoy.  There is no law that says you have to be on a gluten-free or vegan diet to want to devour these at each setting.  My roommate is neither of those things, and she eats these faster than I do at times.  Anyway, what sets the Crazy Bagelers at Sweet Note apart from the other gluten-free bagels on the market is that they are true to New York-style, creating a smaller, thicker, denser bagel.  When toasted, it has this amazing crunchy crust and a chewy center.  That’s bagel perfection.  BAGEL PERFECTION.  Other gluten-free bagels on the market are light as air, packed with chemicals, and gigantic.  They aren’t as filling and they just don’t have that true bagel mouthfeel.  This is where Sweet Note hits the sweet spot.  Authentic bagels are made with real ingredients and in real size…not super-mega-jumbo.  And I’m okay with that.  I love a good authentic bagel…size, texture, feel…the whole carby package.

Those Crazy Bagel Ladies sure do make this former New York-er, who had to go gluten-free after a Celiac diagnosis 5 years ago, one happy girl.  But I am not alone.  There is an entire community…nationwide…of crazy bagelers who are also in love with ALL THE BAGELS!!  Sweet Note has definitely hit a sweet note with those who are daring enough to try.

So, they have released a few new flavors…at a variety of times, these past few weeks.  But the first of these was none other than…ONION!

Yes…the ever popular, Onion Bagel!  The Sweet Note Gluten Free Onion Bagel is amazing.  Seriously.  I prepared this as I normally do any Sweet Note Bagel.  I pulled it out of the freezer this morning after a short run and a spin class and microwaved two bagels…one at a time…for 30 seconds.  Then, flipped it over and hit it up for another 30 seconds.  I then sliced each bagel in half and placed it on a baking sheet.  You all know by now that I don’t own a toaster or a toaster oven, so I put these into the oven and left them in the mindful watch of my roommate while I went to shower off and get ready for work.  About 15-20 minutes later, the amazing aroma of roasted onion wafted through the apartment and I was pulling the baking sheet out of the oven and making goo-goo eyes at the golden bagels that now awaited a schmear of some sort of topping.

Today…Daiya Vegan Cream Cheese.

006

Sweet Note Gluten Free Onion Bagel with a schmear of Daiya Cream Cheese

It just made sense.  And, technically…was all I had in my fridge for this bagel.  Although…mashed avocado…ooooh…I know what I’m doing on Wednesday…

So, now properly schmeared with some cream cheese, I delivered one bagel to my roommate and went to pour myself some (very important) coffee before settling in with my own bagel while the news droned on over the presidential campaign and such nonsense.  Ignoring the news, I turned my full attention to my bagel.  My roommate had already devoured one of her halves…so I had a good feeling about this.  I drew in a breath…inhaled that sweet onion smell…and took a bite.

OH YES!  Layers (onions…layers…get it?) of flavor.  Seriously.  I thought that this bagel might have reached bagel perfection.  You have that bitter/sweet/caramelized flavor of the bagels that sit atop the upper half of the bagel.  You have this flavor penetrating all the way through the dough, the chewy center, the crisp crust…all of it…infused with this great, but not overpowering, onion flavor.  The flakes of onion on the surface were a nice touch.  I saw my roommate making sure she swiped up any bit of onion that might have fallen away from the bagel itself.  Nothing goes to waste.  That is the sign of a winner-winner-bagel dinner!  If you’re an onion lover, these are sure to make you tear up (I did it again…onions…tears…HA!  I’m punny!).  With joy.  Tear up with joy.

So, let’s discuss what goes into each Sweet Note Gluten Free Onion Bagel, shall we?  These bagels are made from: Love (yes, that is an ingredient!), water, white rice flour, tapioca flour, sweet white rice flour, brown sugar, cane syrup, olive oil, molasses, yeast, xanthan gum, psyllium husk, onion, and salt.  As with all their bagels, the Sweet Note Gluten Free Onion Bagels are gluten-free, soy-free, dairy-free, non-GMO, egg-free, peanut & tree nut-free, and cholesterol free.  Made with love, indeed!!

As for nutritional information for the Sweet Note Gluten Free Onion Bagels…you’ll eat this up!  They really do stack up to the competition.  Since they are made with real ingredients, every bite of these bagels are better for you and your body.  A serving size is 4.5 ounces (128 grams), or one (1) bagel.  ONE FULL ONION-Y BAGEL!  One bagel will serve you up 290 calories, 3.5 grams fat, 0.5 grams saturated fat, 0 grams trans fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 320 mg sodium, 62 grams carbohydrates, 4 grams fiber, 8 grams sugars, and 5 grams of protein.  With the higher fiber and protein counts, these bagels will keep you feeling full all morning.  Gotta love that!

Your search for the perfect bagel has come to an end.  Sweet Note Bakery definitely has the top of the line bagels…and you would never guess that these are vegan and gluten-free…unless you were told or read their packaging.  That being said, they really nail the bagel…and make it for everyone to love and enjoy.  The new Sweet Note Gluten Free Onion Bagel packs a great onion flavor, but won’t overwhelm your palate either.  Top these off however you like…and feast on them often.  They would make the perfect vehicle for a burger or sandwich as well.  So. Much. Love.

I urge you to check your local stores for Sweet Note Bagels as soon as you can.  Their products are carried here at Whole Foods and in CVS stores.  But their online exclusive flavors are NOT to be missed.

Go on…place an order.  You’ll thank me!

 

Working Hard for a Weekend of Hard Work

Ah, it’s Sunday.  A day to rest and relax right?  RIGHT?!

HA…never!!  Today, I’ve done countless loads of laundry, prepped and cooked all the meals for the coming week, took recycle to the store, took care of a cat, did some necessary shopping, mailed off a package, finished up (much-needed) grocery shopping, organized the pantry, and polished off a book.  I’ve blogged on my race on Friday night, made up lunches/snacks for tomorrow, and have even changed sheets on the bed.  And showered.  Important.

This has been a chaotic and crazy week.  I got back into town from a relaxing (ie: NON-RACE) weekend in Orlando, Florida.  Sure, the Star Wars Half Marathon was running at Disney World that very weekend…but I was not quick enough on making a decision to run, and by the time I was certain I was going to be able to do it, registration had closed.  Instead, the day before I headed out to get to Florida, I did my long run.  On a Tuesday night.  On tired legs.  But it was done and I didn’t have to do it alone…or in Orlando, where I had no idea where I could safely and effectively go running.  As it was, I found a park where I managed 5 miles, and I did 5 miles back and forth on this 0.20 mile boardwalk on Cocoa Beach while I was away.  But that was it for the running.  The rest of the time I was exploring…but we’ll get to that momentarily.

With a couple of days away from the office, I was overloaded with work, so I ended up doing something I hate doing.  I brought work home and put in some time away from the office.  It had to be done…or I’d still be buried.  This made my week even more stressful because I was trying to fit in all my normal stuff while having to do some work at home.  It meant…the normalcy took a lot longer to get around to.  And grocery shopping never happened.  So, my roommate and I were living out of the pantry/freezer/fridge for this week.

So…with all that being said…some good stuff has been going down these past two weeks…so let’s take a look at some of the highlights!

1.  Universal Studios Florida


It’s Marvel Superheroes, it’s Harry Potter, it’s rides, rides, rides.  And I had an absolute blast.  I met Captain America (he told me I had beautiful green eyes!), which had to happen as he is the favorite superhero of my nephew, Chace.  I flirted with the driver of the Knight Bus at Diagon Alley in Universal as well.  SO MUCH FUN.  That being said, I vastly prefer Disney to Universal, but it was actually nice to step away from the Disney monster and do something I’ve been wanting to do, but couldn’t pull myself away from Disney.  HA!  And thank goodness for my friend, Jenn, who was willing to go on the thrill rides with me.  Cathy refuses.  She’s a big baby.  OH…and I bought a wand.  I have my own Harry Potter type of wand.  It’s Ivy…with a Unicorn Hair core.  And I loved it because I was able to cast magical spells at both of the Harry Potter lands at each Universal Studios theme park in Florida.  It takes so little to make me happy.

2.  Toasted
12967518_999787697381_4212866128158657404_o
Eating out with me can be…difficult at times.  Thank you Celiac disease and lactose intolerance.  That being said, while I was in Orlando, thanks to my Find Me Gluten Free app, I found the most perfect place to dine.  In fact, we (Jenn, Cathy & myself) ended up having dinner there three times.  The place is called Toasted, and it specializes in Crafted Grilled Cheese & Burgers.  And…they have gluten-free buns, bread, and veggie burgers.  They also have vegan cheese.  This…was my happy place.  To top all of that off…they had gluten-free fries.  And, let me tell you, the Truffle Oil & Rosemary fries were to die for.  We learned, after our first visit, that one order of fries would do for the three of us.  Amazing sandwiches.  I had a different one each night…never got sick.  Let’s hear it for gluten-free dining done right.  If you find yourself in the Winter Park area of Orlando…go and check them out.

3. Gluten Free Snack Cakes
schnacks
Okay…I admit it.  I love my desserts.  I have tried, for ages, to give them up.  But the sweet tooth reigns supreme.  For sure.  And, after getting my roommate a little tipsy on her birthday, I took her grocery shopping.  And bought a bunch of stuff I didn’t need but wanted to try.  And, despite trying to be a little better about my choices…I discovered a new product from Schär‘s Sch’nacks!  These delightful little treats are simply a gluten-free, unrolled version of a Swiss Roll.  They are little single serve cakes that are filled with cream and dipped in German chocolate.  And they are light, and amazing.  I have to resist buying them too often…but a treat every now and again is always fine.  There are 10 cakes per package…and I only have one after dinner each night.  Seriously…a worthy investment for an every-now-and-again treat.  Back to some fruits and vegan yogurts after this.  And I’m back to cooking real food…and not just living out of the fridge/freezer/pantry…which is also a plus.

4.  Road Bike Shoes
050
Today, I meandered over to Schwinn in Clarksville, Indiana, and purchased a pair of road bike shoes.  Now that I have a road bike, I figured I needed to get the clip-in shoes so I could ride it.  They are very nice at Schwinn and even discounted the price of the shoes and put the cleats in for me.  YAY!!  I hope to get fitted to my bike next weekend, time permitting!  Crossing my fingers.  Then, I get to practice clipping in and out…and probably taking a few spills during said process.  It’s actually…kind of exciting.  Not the falling part, but getting the necessary gear and stuff done to get out onto my bike.

5.  Running my fastest mile at my favorite 5K

 


Friday was not only Earth Day, it was the running of the Pro.Active For Life 5K in Frankfort, Kentucky.  I go to Frankfort quite often for the races, and while 5K races are one of my least favorite distances, this just happens to be my favorite 5K race.  It’s not just the race itself, but the people.  Frankfort, honestly, some of the best people in that running community.  I can’t say it enough.  Not only did I win my age division this year, but I pulled off a 6:53 mile.  Shocking myself.  Even more shocking…the entire run was pain-free.  And…I was only 6 seconds off my PR (also set at this race).  Stronger every day.  Trying to be really smart when it comes to my training.

6.  A long, solo, pain-free Saturday morning run

20160423_094933[1]
So, Friday night I churn out a speedy 5K (even if my finishing picture looks like I’m just cruising, LOL!), knowing that Saturday, I was on my own for my longest run since…forever.  I am signed up for (although still not 100% sure I’ll be running) a marathon in June.  Bib transfer can only happen through May 1, leaving this Saturday the only chance I had for attempting a long marathon-training type run.  And, I had to do it solo, as everyone I know is either recovering from Boston, running Big Sur, running London, running Derby or running Flying Pig.  So, they are either recovering, out of town, or tapering.  So, Saturday morning, I laced up, still feeling good, and went out for 20 miles in my area.  No crossing the river (it was Thunder Over Louisville day anyway…so this was probably better in the long run…ha…I made a punny).  So, I just sort of went.  I never pushed my pace…I ran comfortably and just sort of made the route up.  The last 5 miles, however, I decided to make the toughest.  I don’t know why.  I’m sadistic like that.  So I hit up the Fast Freddie route…which is HILLS FOR DAYS!…and came out of it better than I even expected.  Once again…no pain.  And 20 miles done.  Alone.  And way better than I dreamed.  WITHOUT ANY PAIN!  I spent the rest of the day out and about, doing some grocery shopping and regular shopping and eating good food for recovery and fuel.  This…was the type of run I mentally needed.  And while it does make me feel better, I still don’t know if I’ll run in June.  I’m pondering for one more day before making that call.

7.  Game Of Thrones
game-of-thrones-2
The new season of GoT starts tonight, and unlike last year, I’m set.  HBO Now was downloaded this morning and I’m set to watch this season as it airs, instead of getting spoiled.  I know I read the books, but the show has gone away from how the books actually worked out, so it’s nice that I won’t have to attempt (and fail) to avoid spoilers this time around.  It’s the little things in life.  SO…YAY!!  It’s the little things in life…like Season 6 of Game of Thrones.

8.  Caramelized Honey Latte at Starbucks

 


They keep selling out of it, but when I went to Florida this past week, I was introduced to Starbucks latest (and greatest) drink.  It’s the Caramelized Honey Latte and it is AMAZING.  It reminds me a lot of The Bee Sting, one of Ha Coffee’s signature drinks in Kauai (I miss Hawaii!).  I get mine with coconut milk and it is…OMG…to die for.  I had it hot and iced while in Florida. The Starbucks at Universal Studios City Walk sold out of them…and the one here in our local Target sold out too.  I think this drink is quite popular.  And it should be.  It is made of super YUM!!  If you haven’t tried it…RUN, do NOT WALK, to Starbucks and give it a try.  You’ll thank me for it.

So, there are some of the highlights these past couple of weeks.  Here’s to hoping for a bit more relaxed and easier week ahead.  And I hope everyone had a great week and enjoyed a beautiful weekend.  And for anyone racing this coming weekend…good luck!!

Restaurant Review: Toasted, Orlando, Florida

024

Toasted, Orlando, Florida

Restaurant: Toasted, Orlando, Florida

Sometimes I find food places to try in the most peculiar and unexpected places.  As I was prepping to head out to Orlando, I was sitting on my couch at home, scrolling through my Instagram feed…when I spotted an amazing looking photo on #NationalGrilledCheeseDay from someone that I follow on there.

And it just happened to be in Orlando.

And it also just happened to feature grilled cheese and…FRIES.

Fries.  I rarely get to eat fries when I go out to eat.  And it’s potato.  And potato is one of my favorite things in life.  So, naturally, I had to check them out.

The place was called Toasted.  And I suddenly needed to know more…like…was there more than just gluten free fries that I could eat there?  Like…did they have…vegan cheese??!!  Was it possible??!!

I went to Toasted’s Web site..and lo and behold…they had a regular menu, a vegan menu, and a gluten free menu…and they were all interchangeable.  They even have a gluten-free vegan burger if I wanted to do burger rather than sandwich.  And as tempting as a burger was…GRILLED CHEESE!  Hello!!

I was handed the gluten free menu first and was looking it over…and when I asked about vegan options, I was handed that menu as well.  And the first thing that caught my eye was a sandwich that involved all the spicy goodness that I love.  Sriracha, jalapeno, and then…random tomatoes.  Mmmm.  That was easy.

So, my traveling brigade and I decided to get our orders in because we had been on the go pretty much all day (since downing bagels from Erin McKenna’s at Disney Springs around 10 am.

Jenn ordered the Truffle Melt ($6.25), which is a sammie made from Havarti, truffle oil, arugula, and fresh ground pepper.  Mmmm…cheese-y goodness.  She got the Truffle Fries ($2.50) as her side.

026

The As Gouda As It Gets with Rosemary Truffle Fries from Toasted, Orlando, Florida

Cathy ordered the As Gouda As It Gets ($6.75), which is a sammie made with Smoked Gouda, pulled chicken, roasted red peppers, and garlic spinach.  She also got the Truffle Fries ($2.50) as her side.

As for me…as I said…I saw some spicy goodness listed on the vegan menu.  So, I ordered the Vegan Fireball ($5.75) done Gluten Free (+1.25).  This was gluten free bread with Housemade Vegan Cheese with jalapeno, sriracha, and tomato.  And I went for broke and ordered the Vegan Truffle Cheese Fries ($3.50)…which was a happy accident, as I really just wanted the Truffle Fries.  Oh well.

We were given one of the signs, which contained a code from their Periodic Table of Cheese.  We had Gr (Gruyere).  It was a short weight…long enough to listen to a woman having a loud conversation on her cell phone and discuss how excited we were about dinner.  Maybe about 10 minutes later, our food arrived.  This was when I realized I had somehow got the Vegan Truffle Cheese Fries.  Like I said…happy accident.  I was ready to dive in.  I needed to slice my sandwich in half and it made for a gooey (yes…GOOEY VEGAN CHEESE!) sandwich mess.  And I loved it.  Usually vegan cheese doesn’t melt to the point of epic gooeyness.  This one…this one did!  God bless amazing housemade vegan cheese.

027

The Gluten Free Vegan Fireball Sandwich with Vegan Truffle Cheese Fries from Toasted, Orlando, Florida

One bite…and I no longer want Tom + Chee or….well…that’s really the only place I’ve been able to have a gluten free and vegan grilled cheese.  And they don’t get gooey runny vegan cheese in theirs.  THIS WAS LIFE CHANGING!!  I loved that it was spicy, without being too spicy.  It had a nice balance with the warm, melty, messy cheese (YAY!), the jalapeno slices, the cooling tomato, and just the right hit of sriracha.  SO good.  I was seriously dredging the crusts of the bread through the cheese puddle on my plate.  And the fries…oh…those were good.  I was sort of disappointed at first because I’m such a huge fan of ketchup, but the vegan cheese was delicious with the truffle and rosemary flavors.  The only downside…was when the cheese got a bit cool.  Nevertheless, despite saying I wouldn’t be able to eat them all…I did.  Happily.

12967518_999787697381_4212866128158657404_o

Look at the GOOEY vegan cheese in the Gluten Free Vegan Fireball from Toasted, Orlando, Florida

Cathy loved the fries…and thought they were amazing.  She liked her sandwich, but despite being a fan of Gouda, she felt the sandwich needed a stronger cheese to pair with the boldness of the garlic spinach.  But she LOVED it. She also stole some of my Vegan Truffle Cheese Fries and thought the vegan cheese was awesome.  Nice smokey flavor.

Jenn gives two thumbs up to her sandwich and fries.  Wouldn’t change a thing.  We all just hoovered and loved every moment of our culinary sandwich and fries.

Yeah…Toasted is just that good.  It’s simple, easy, but crafted and amazing grilled cheese sandwiches.  If you aren’t into sandwiches (and if not…what is wrong with you) they have burger options (also available gluten-free and vegan), salads, amazing side dishes, and even a kids menu.

If you are going through Orlando, Florida…not doing the whole Disney thing where you pretty much just stay on Disney property and don’t leave until you are forced to go to the airport…check out Toasted!  They have two locations in Orlando – Winter Park and Lake Nona.

Seriously, I’d go back to eat here in a heartbeat.  When you give me one of my favorite comfort foods and do it up beyond my expectations…you have my full and undivided attention.  Toasted…thank you!  I am one happy gluten-free, dairy-free girl!

Product Review: Better Way Gluten Free Hamburger Buns

Better Way Gluten Free Hamburger Buns

Better Way Gluten Free Hamburger Buns

Product: Better Way Gluten Free Hamburger Buns – $6.69+

Two ladies in my running group have mentioned Better Way Gluten Free Bread to me on various occasions.  They said they could find it at their Kroger in the regular bread aisle.  I admit, I haven’t visited the regular bread aisle…in five (5) years.  My roommate doesn’t eat regular bread these days unless we’re out or visiting someone…because we keep cross-contamination out of the kitchen.

Needless to say, after putting in miles with these ladies, I ultimately forgot, time-and-again, about the bread discussion.  Despite usually going grocery shopping directly after running and breakfast.  Go figure.  That being said, they both posted friendly reminders and rave reviews on my Facebook page that, ultimately, I remembered while at a Kroger in Louisville.  The one on my side of the river, near my home…does not carry too much in the line of gluten-free bread, save for the standards in the frozen natural food area (Udi’s and Rudi’s).

The brand I was seeking…Better Way.

I was so happy to find a loaf of their white bread (although I have heard I need to definitely seek out and devour the 7 Grains), which I have already used up an entire package.  I haven’t blogged, because I forgot…so with the new one sitting in my pantry…I’ll be sure to do that.

That being said, I had a meal (or 2) on the menu this week that would require hamburger buns.  Because when you’re making Pizza Joe’s (plantbased…made with lentils and lots of delicious stuff to make it taste like pizza)…the bread is highly important.  Normally, I would pick up sandwich buns from my local allergen-free bakery (Annie May’s Sweet Café), but I forgot.  Whoops!  So, while I was out running, my roommate took it upon herself to surprise me…by going to a different Kroger than we normally hit up while in Louisville and returning with…Better Way Gluten Free Hamburger Buns!!

They were a part of lunch today!

This morning, I opened up the orange bag and sliced through the freshness seal that the four (4) hamburger buns were placed in.  I pulled out two of the buns, noting how soft and squishy they were.  That was exciting.  Needless to say, I chose my bun for this afternoon and ripped off a small bit to try right then and there.

That was all it took for me to fall absolutely in love with Better Way’s Gluten Free Hamburger Buns.  If you have ever been able to eat those hamburger buns you had at picnics and at home as a kid (and perhaps an adult)…this is exactly what this bread tastes like.  It is very, very reminiscent of those classic white hamburger buns, which is definitely to be applauded when talking about gluten free bread.  Happiness with just one bite.  The test would be to see how it held up with the Pizza Joe’s filling heaped all over it.

Pizza Joes topping off the Better Way Gluten Free Hamburger Buns

Pizza Joes topping off the Better Way Gluten Free Hamburger Buns

The great thing about these buns is while they taste and feel like those classic hamburger buns of my pre-Celiac diagnosis state…they have a somewhat stiffer crumb to them.  But this is a good thing.  This meant that the buns themselves did not fall apart nor become mush under whatever (in this case saucy lentils that taste like pizza) you top it off with or sandwich between.  That’s a rare thing with gluten-free buns.  Most often I have to toast them and they still fall apart.  Not these.  Nope.  These held up without toasting or warming…it was pure perfection.  And I became smitten.  Enough that I have already picked up another package of the Better Way Bread and Hamburger Buns when I made my Star Wars run.  HA!

Let’s talk about what goes into Better Way’s Gluten Free Hamburger Buns, shall we?  These buns are made from water, brown rice flour, tapioca starch, tapioca syrup, corn starch, xanthan gum, potato starch, cultured rice flour, and contains 2% or less of each of the following: whole eggs, extra virgin olive oil, salt, yeast, and enzymes.  These amazing gluten-free hamburger buns are made in a gluten-free facility, are dairy-free, soy-free, nut-free, contain no high fructose corn syrup (YAY!), and use non-GMO ingredients.

As far as nutritional information goes, these really look good, especially when compared to other gluten-free store-bought brands on the market.  A serving size of the Better Way Gluten Free Hamburger Buns is 1 roll (85 grams), and there are 4 servings per package.  One roll will deliver you 180 calories, 2.5 grams fat, 0 grams saturated fat, 0 grams trans fat, 10 mg cholesterol, 270 mg sodium, 36 grams carbohydrates, 3 grams fiber, 4 grams sugars, and 2 grams protein.  That’s relatively close to the same nutrition data on regular white hamburger buns.  Totally winning.

I am so glad that I was told (numerous times) and reminded (numerous times) to pick up and try Better Way Gluten Free Bread.  I’m addicted.  It’s the closest thing I have had to regular bread outside of a gluten free bakery.  Having this bread and these hamburger buns on hand is a definite must these days.  Totally surprised…totally wowed.  Totally in love.  If you’ve been searching for the best gluten-free bread in grocery stores…seek out and find Better Way.  Check with your grocery stores and see if they can order it if you can’t seem to find it.

Veggie burgers are a must in the very near future…now that I have a bun that will hold up to all the fillings!!