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 Unicorn Bagels

Sweet Note Gluten Free Unicorn Bagel
Sweet Note Gluten Free Unicorn Bagel

Product: Sweet Note Gluten Free Unicorn Bagels – $9.99

You didn’t think they existed…but they do.  You thought they were a myth…but they are not.  Yes…the infamous Rainbow Bagel gets a gluten-free makeover thanks to the crazy bagelers at Sweet Note Bakery.

God, I love them!

Just before…and I mean…right before…as in DAYS before I went to New York City back in March, the big article about the Rainbow Bagel that The Bagel Store in NYC was offering hit the mass media…and it was…insane.  I felt a little pang of judgement (okay…okay…resentment) because I, myself, could not have one.  And they looked so, so pretty!  And delicious.  Pretty delicious too!

So, my bagel experience in NYC was left up to the gluten free offerings at Tompkins Square Bagels…which was fine…but it wasn’t a true NY-style bagel…and it just didn’t seem perfect to me.  And…the Rainbow Bagel was out there.  Sometimes schmeared with birthday cake cream cheese.

Life wasn’t fair.

But then the rain lifted and the sun came out, and the amazing ladies over at Sweet Note Bakery said, “You know what?  Celiacs shouldn’t have to miss out on tasting the rainbow.  Skittles got nothing on us.”  And so, a little while after my return from NYC…I saw a prototype of their own rainbow bagel on their Instagram feed.

And I coveted it.  I said if they put it out on the market, I’d buy it.  I needed it.  No, I wanted it!  They had asked if people would be interested in buying it…and that they were going to look into more natural food dyes as well (although their first attempt was with natural food dye and it baked out)…before offering it on the Web site.  I immediately chimed in with my calm, cool and collected, “I would buy them”…which…the more times the Rainbow Bagel appeared on their feed…the more this became…”OMG I NEED THESE IN MY LIFE RIGHT NOW!”

Well, last week…it happened.  They aren’t using natural food dies yet…but those crazy baglers have made their version of the Rainbow Bagel…called the Unicorn Bagel (don’t you love it??!) available as an Online Exclusive purchase in their store.  So…yes…for now, you can only order these online.

So…I threw more money at these wonderful people and put in my order.

Here’s the thing…I have been a collector of unicorn things since I was a child.  No joke.  Then, when I became a runner and qualified for the Boston Marathon…unicorns returned to the forefront of my obsessions.  So…you give me a swirly breakfast bread of wonderment in fun colors and call it a “Unicorn Bagel”…my money is coming at you and these are finding a way into my life.  No doubt about it.  And that, my friends, is how I wound up with the new Unicorn Bagel in my freezer…which lasted all but 15 hours before they were out and being thawed in the microwave and toasted in my oven.

It’s important.  Because…NEW GLUTEN FREE BAGEL.  Because…COLORS!  Because…UNICORN.  And because it’s a RACE WEEKEND.  So the unicorn theme should be good luck, yes?  Good omen, yes?  Oh…I hope so.

I think I’ve told you enough about Sweet Note Bakery…their origins and the like in all the past blogs I’ve done about them.  If you are just now tuning in…you can read about their history here.  If you want to know why size always matters, especially in certain important matters like…bagel size…read all about it here.  Seriously…if you want authentic New York-style bagels…that are both vegan and gluten-free…NOTHING beats Sweet Note Bakery!  Their bagels are phenomenal.  Feel free to go back to all the past entries (and I still have 1 more of their new flavors to review!) and see what every flavor is like.  Trust me…I grew up in New York.  Bagels and I are BFFs.

Just really quickly though, I will revisit the proper way (or at least the best way) to evenly thaw out the frozen bagels.  DO NOT thaw these on the counter.  It’s easy.  It only takes 60 seconds out of your daily routine.  Simply place a bagel on a plate and place in the microwave. Microwave on HIGH for 30 seconds.  Then, flip the bagel completely over and turn it about 180°. Microwave for another 30 seconds.  Let it sit for a few seconds and then slice in half.  Place each half in a toaster oven or on a baking sheet and in the oven and let it toast up for about 15-20 minutes.  This is normally about the time I leave the kitchen to shower and let my roommate make sure that if she smells smoke to shut off the oven.  But I’m always done before anything gets burned.

Sweet Note Gluten Free Unicorn Bagel with a schmear of Kite Hill vegan cream cheese and rainbow sprinkles
Sweet Note Gluten Free Unicorn Bagel with a schmear of Kite Hill vegan cream cheese and rainbow sprinkles

I can’t even begin to tell you how giddy these bagels made me.  Seriously. They were swirly and rainbow-y and just plain fun!  I pulled them out of the oven when they reached that perfect level of toasty.  I mean…perfect crispy outer crust with the dense and chewy dough in the middle.  Bagel perfection.  I gave each half a schmear of vegan cream cheese from Kite Hill.  And then, because, I’m eating the rainbow here…I gave the cream cheese a smattering of rainbow sprinkles.

DUH!  You can’t eat a Unicorn Bagel without rainbow sprinkles.  And with that…breakfast was served.

Who doesn’t love fun food, right?  The more fun, the more exciting breakfast is.  I loved eating a colorful breakfast.  They say to eat the rainbow…well…they may not have had a Unicorn Bagel in mind when they said that…but…I successfully ate the rainbow today.  HAHA!  And it was tasty.  I get it…it’s a plain bagel with all the dressings of a sparkly soul, but it somehow makes it fabulous, you know?  It tasted sweet, but I don’t know how much of that was the bagel and how much of that was the little sprinkles of rainbow goodness I topped the cream cheese with.  Nevertheless…this bagel is made of complete awesomeness.  You can top it off without whatever floats your boat.  Frosting would have been pretty epic.  I mean, you’re devouring a breakfast bread that is dyed to every amazing color in the color spectrum…have frosting and sprinkless…or whatever…whatever makes you feel like a kid at heart.  Or a Boston Marathoner.  Or a lover of unicorns.  Or just…a lover of bagels.  Or rainbows. Or all of the above.

So, let’s discuss what goes into each of the Sweet Note Gluten Free Unicorn Bagels.  Each bagel is made from love (because all rainbow-type food is made with love…and unicorn tears), water, white rice flour, tapioca flour, sweet white rice flour, sorghum flower, sugar, cane syrup, olive oil, molasses, yeast, xanthan gum, psyllium husk, salt, food coloring (red 40, red 3, yellow 5, yellow 6, blue 1, blue 1, titanium dioxide, modified corn starch, vegetable gum, citric acid, and less than 1/10 of 1% sodium benzoate, potassium sorbate).  They are still experimenting with natural food dyes that won’t fade…and I have every faith that they will find something that works.  But…for now…if food dyes don’t bother you, these are totally epic and worth a try.  As always when it comes to Sweet Note’s bagels, these bagels are gluten-free, soy-free, dairy-free, non-GMO, egg-free, peanut & tree nut-free, and cholesterol free.  Made with love, indeed!!

As far as nutrition goes for the Sweet Note Gluten Free Unicorn Bagels…well…here are the magical facts.  A serving size is one (1) bagel, which is about 4.5 oz (128 grams).  There are 4 servings per package.  Each bagel will deliver 280 calories, 3.5 grams fat, 0.5 grams saturated fat, 0 grams trans fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 320 mg sodium, 60 grams carbohydrates, 3 grams fiber, 7 grams sugars, and 4 grams protein.  The mythical morning hunger pangs remained at bay…this was delicious and filling.  Loving the rainbow.

Breakfast should be fun.  After all, it is the most important meal of the day.  You might as well color it up, top it off, and eat it with a smile.  That’s the magic that is inside the Unicorn Bagels.  They are simple…but simply wonderful.  Just because you have to eat gluten-free doesn’t mean that you can’t have fun bagels for breakfast.  Sweet Note Bakery is taking the standard bagel and making it for the gluten-free and vegan bagel lovers.  No limits.  No boundaries.  Anything goes.  Like rainbow unicorn bagels.  The Unicorn Bagel will totally win you over.

Maybe it will make me run faster.

Maybe.

I’ll go for my run…and you go ahead and run over to the Sweet Note Bakery online store and purchase a pack or five of the Gluten Free Unicorn Bagel!

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

 

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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.

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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!

 

Product Review: Sweet Note Gluten Free Garlic Bagels

Sweet Note Gluten Free Garlic Bagels
Sweet Note Gluten Free Garlic Bagels

Product: Sweet Note Gluten Free Garlic Bagels – $7.25

I.  LOVE. BAGELS.

I come by it honestly.  As I’ve stated before, I was raised in New York.  New York is the birthplace of the bagel, I’m pretty certain.  New York is the land of these carby rounds of delicious bread-y goodness.  I have loved them for as long as I can remember being alive.  And that’s a damn long time.

One of the hardest things for me when I was diagnosed with Celiac was to say goodbye to my bagels.  Sure, there were plenty of gluten-free versions out there…but nothing like a classic New York bagel.  Some were small like a doughnut.  Some were light and fluffy.  Some were just…wrong.  All wrong.  Some were close or came close…close enough at least in flavor.  But what I truly missed was that dense, small round that was schmeared with some variety of cream cheese and devoured while on-the-go or at the table or wherever.

That is…until Sweet Note Bakery found me.

Yes…they found me.  Through Twitter.  And they told me I needed to try their bagels.  I shrugged it off the first time, but they came back…and so…I decided to blindly place an order.

It was the best decision of my life.

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 today…until they release a new flavor or put that Gluten Free Rainbow Bagel up in their online store…I devoured the last of their four (4) new flavors they released earlier last month.  Hey…new bagels means I get out my credit card and buy, buy, buy.  With all that being said, I sense that it’s time to place a new order.  I don’t like my freezer to be empty of these.  It’s nice to have some on hand.  So, the four flavors that they released were Tomato Basil, Garlic & Herbs, Salt and Garlic.

Today…was all about Garlic!

I grew up in a family of garlic lovers.  Perhaps that’s why we always seem to carry mints with us.  Like…all of us.  HAHA!  Anyway, if my mom was making garlic bread…it was butter and garlic for days.  Just heaped on there.  And we loved it that way.  There is no such thing as too much garlic.  So…garlic bagels…right up my alley.

I was both excited and sad to return from spin class this morning and pull the last package of bagels out of my freezer.  Sweet Note…be forewarned…an order is coming your way.  *cough*  Anyway…

GARLIC!!

ALL THE GARLIC!!  These bagels have a nice coating of garlic right on top of it, so be cautious of the bagels beneath the one you are removing…and be sure to leave some garlic on them.  Mine pulled apart just fine, without stealing any of the garlic-y goodness. I used my current 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.  Since my roomie was awake at this point, I went to shower while our breakfast was toasting up.  By the time I was dressed and out of the bathroom…it was time to pull them out.

The apartment smelled SO GOOD!!  I was practically drooling as I pulled the pan out of the oven and then schmeared some vegan cream cheese over the tops of each half.  I served one bagel to my (gluten-eating) roommate and I took the other one.  And grabbed coffee…because…I need to be human.  HA!

Sweet Note Gluten Free Garlic Bagels with a schmear of Tofutti Better Than Cream Cheese and Coffee!!
Sweet Note Gluten Free Garlic Bagels with a schmear of Tofutti Better Than Cream Cheese and Coffee!!

My roomie was already digging in, so I asked what she thought.  She muttered something incoherent as she took another bite.  So, I took that as a good thing.  This was the flavor she had been waiting for…and somehow managed to save for last.  I think she was beyond happy with it.  And with that…I took a bite.

Oh…yes.  Even with the nice coating of garlic on the top of the bagel, this does not overwhelm or overpower.  It is a nice balance, especially with the dense bread of the bagel.  This would totally make a great base for a bagel pizza…but it’s all about breakfast for me this time.  And this…was heaven.  I’m contemplating a bagel sammie with the other ones in the freezer…a nice fried egg on the inside…mmmm…

When I’m daydreaming about the next time I eat a product, you know it’s a winner.  I loved the crispy crust and soft insides of this bagel.  The bread is chewy and perfect, right at that perfect bagel consistancy.  This isn’t your average gluten-free bagel.  This feels and tastes just like a “normal” bagel…a “regular” bagel.  You know…the kind you buy from a corner bagel shop in NYC.  There are plenty to choose from.  No other bagels on the market live up to that…and I don’t think any others will.  Sweet Note Bakery has the magic touch…and the perfect recipe for the ultimate Garlic Bagel. I might have devoured this faster than I intended today.

Record time.  The coffee had to wait.

One of the things that sets Sweet Note Gluten Free Bagels apart from others on them market is the old-school style that these gluten-free bagels are produced in.  They hit that traditional New York Style, not only in size, but in texture too!  And, yes, I am 100% certain these are gluten free!!  You wouldn’t believe it to taste it for yourself, but it’s on the packaging and a big part of the business.  The authentic nature of all of the gluten-free bagels from Sweet Note Bakery is that they take you back to the classic 3-inch size of the traditional bagel.  No mega-bagel here.  You don’t need it.  Instead of a 6-inch monstrosity, you’re chowing down on real, natural ingredients that will leave you feeling full and content.  Trust me.  And, with the way these are constructed, you get an amazing crispy outer crust and that warm, chewy middle that New York bagels are known for.  Bagel perfection.

In this case…Garlic Bagel perfection.  HA!

Let’s talk about what goes into Sweet Note Gluten Free Garlic Bagels, shall we?  These bagels are made with love (yep…real ingredient!), white rice flour, tapioca flour, sweet white rice flour, sorghum flour, brown sugar, cane syrup, olive oil, molasses, yeast, xanthan gum, psyllium husk, garlic, and salt.  As always when it comes to Sweet Note’s bagels, these bagels are gluten-free, soy-free, dairy-free, non-GMO, egg-free, peanut & tree nut-free, and cholesterol free.  Made with love, indeed!!

As far as the nutritional information goes, these bagels really do stack up to the competition.  In fact, with real ingredients, it makes every bit of these even better for you.  A serving size is 4.5 ounces (128 grams), or one bagel!!  Yep…one full bagel.  YAY!  This one bagel will serve up 280 calories, 3.5 grams fat, 0.5 grams saturated fat, 0 grams trans fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 330 mg sodium, 62 grams carbohydrates, 3 grams fiber, 7 grams sugars, and 4 grams of protein.  This bagel kept me full all morning, thanks to that high protein and fiber count.  YES!  Loving it.

If you have been hunting for the perfect gluten-free bagel…or just bagel…you need to turn your attention to Sweet Note Bakery.  Their bagels (every single flavor…and I have tried them all) has been amazing.  They all are packed with flavor, taste amazing, and give you a true texture and mouthfeel of an authentic bagel.  Life is so good…thanks to Sweet Note.  Don’t just read my blog though…try it for yourself.  If your local natural food stores don’t carry Sweet Note Gluten Free Bagels…hop over to their Web site and order from the shop.  Keep in mind that the Garlic Bagels, as well as the Garlic and Herb, and the Salt are online exclusive…so get them while you can.

And love breakfast again!

Product Review: Dollop Gourmet All Natural Peanut Butter Cookie Dough Spread

Dollop Gourmet Peanut Butter Cookie Dough Frosting
Dollop Gourmet All Natural Peanut Butter Cookie Dough Frosting

Product: Dollop Gourmet All Natural Peanut Butter Cookie Dough Spread – $8.99+

Okay, let me start off this blog by saying…I do not like frosting.  Well, I do, but in minimal amounts.  In other words…usually…not at all.  In fact, growing up, whenever birthdays happened in my family, my mom served me cake without the frosting…and gave my sister the frosting…because she didn’t want cake…she just wanted the frosting.

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve either scraped off the frosting or just grin and bear it, making sure I have more cake on the fork than frosting.  It’s a precise ratio.  Trust me.

SCIENCE!

So, you might ask…what the HELL am I doing buying a frosting product??!!

You’d be totally in the right for inquiring, to be honest.  With that kind of lead-in and a full product review for…FROSTING…pending…it’s a natural question to ask.  The answer…I heard about Dollop Gourmet through Instagram…the pictures always looked so good, so I began following them…and my roommate was drunk when I went grocery shopping and spotted the jar on the shelf (first time seeing the product in the grocery store wild) and I get whatever I want when my roomie is tipsy and grocery shopping with me.  So…gourmet frosting it was.

I’m a social media compulsive buyer.  I can’t help myself.

Before I go much further, if you are unfamiliar with Dollop Gourmet…let’s change that. Dollop Gourmet All Natural Frosting was started by Heather Saffer, winner of Food Network’s Cupcake Wars, and author of The Dollop Book of Frosting.  She  found herself regularly buying these amazing cookies from a little local bakery near the car dealership where she worked, but they were topped with “the most dreadful frosting.”  Saffer is passionate about frosting, always fighting for a corner piece of the cake…and it was this artificial frosting at this little bakery that set Saffer on her new mission – to reinvent frosting (and life).

Saffer taught herself how to bake and opened up the first Cupcake Bar in her hometown of Rochester, NY.  Dollop Gourmet Cupcake Creations became an award winning interactive bakery.  In 2012, she took her cupcakes and frosting to Food Network, competing and winning the hit TV show, Cupcake Wars.  As you can imagine, business boomed at Dollop Gourmet Cupcake Creations.  But then, one day, Saffer realized that she wasn’t having fun anymore, so she sold her stores and began to focus on the part of the cupcake that she truly loved – the frosting.  She wrote her first frosting cookbook and then set ou tto create a mindful product that would inspire unique and honest experiences, and to be living proof that you can turn nothing into something.  In other words, proof that frosting isn’t just for cake and that you can pretty much spread some frosting love on just about anything.  Saffer makes sure that Dollop Gourmet All Natural Frostings are made with premium ingredients, and all five (5) of the available flavors are gluten-free, non-GMO, and 100% junk-free.  Gluten-free and vegan frosting that you can literally eat with a spoon, scoop up with pretzels, schmear on a bagel…or just top off those baked goods…I think she’s onto something.

So, with a tipsy roommate ready to spend money on whatever I point out, and my delightful shrieks that I have finally found Dollop Gourmet in stores (because…I have been stalking them on Instagram and I need it in my life now), I grabbed a jar (yes…a jar) of it off the shelf to bring home with me.  Meijer, the store that made my night by carrying this product, only had 2 flavors, so I went with the most obvious one…Peanut Butter Cookie Dough.  Everyone knows, when it comes to me, if it involves peanut butter…it’s going to win.  And with that…it found a home in my pantry.

Fast forward to this morning.  I’m rushing around, trying to get things prepared for when I get home from spin class, while trying to eat some fruit and yogurt and get out the door to get to spin class…obviously…I need to reevaluate my life choices at times (like not crawling back into bed for that 1 minute that turns into 30, HAHA!)…and realizing I didn’t have any more of the yogurt for a recipe I intended to finally make for breakfast when I got home.  I was eating it…with my strawberries and granola.  Because…this is my life.  I knew I had jam, which was part of the recipe, but that yogurt…what to do?

After getting to spin with only 5 minutes to spare and sweating it out on the bike…I had one of those “A-HA” moments!  I recalled the jar of Dollop Gourmet All Natural Peanut Butter Cookie Dough frosting in my pantry and figured…that should be tasty with my Downton Abbey Christmas Preserves and the Irish Soda Bread in a Mug (the recipe I was going to cook up…in the microwave).  So…there it was.  Inspiration at 5:30 a.m.  And by 7 a.m…frosting with breakfast.  Hey…it works on toaster pastries and cinnamon rolls, why not bread from a mug?

It took about 2 minutes to get the mixture of oats (that I turned into flour), sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and other goodies needed to make the bread ready, to cook up to a perfect consistency in the mugs in the microwave.  But when they got there, they were turned out of the mug and onto a plate, where I ladled some of the fruit preserves on top, then followed it up with a ginormous scoop of Dollop Gourmet All Natural Peanut Butter Cookie Dough Frosting, and then more of the preserves.  It looked fantastic, I won’t lie.  I couldn’t wait to try it out.

I delivered one to my roomie and I took up the other one.  She was already digging in by the time I got seated, as I had to pour my coffee and take pictures for the blog, you know?  Priorities.  But when I dug in…oh yeah!!  GOOD!

So…here’s the deal.  Dollop Gourmet All Natural Frosting is just that…amazing, sugary, delicious frosting.  And how does someone who doesn’t like frosting like it?  Well…for frosting, it’s pretty damn good.  I took a little bit of it on its own to try, and yeah…it’s sweet and sugary and everything I don’t like about frosting, but I wasn’t offended by this at all.  Would I eat it straight out of the jar…no.  Would my roommate…yes.  But she’s a frosting freak (she’s frosting freaky)…and that would totally be her thing.  With all of that being said…let me tell you more about the Dollop Gourmet All Natural Peanut Butter Cookie Dough Frosting.  It tastes…like sugary sweet peanut butter cookie dough.  No false advertising there.  What it is…is what it is.  And while I’m a definite lover of peanut butter, this was almost too sweet for me.  But…it’s not peanut butter…it’s peanut butter frosting.  HA!!  This would be fantastic sandwiched between cookes, stuffed into cupcakes, topping off brownies, as a dip for apples, pretzels, etc.  It is a fresh palate, anyway  you choose to consume it.  Topping off an Irish Soda Bread (made GF) that I cooked up in a mug, pairing it with a sweet plumb jam…it was like the ultimate breakfast PB&J on raisin bread.  Everything worked together, and that was the magic.  Also, as the bread was hot from the mug, the dollop of Dollop Gourmet All Natural Peanut Butter Cooke Dough Frosting that I put on top…melted…like peanut butter…and was a delight to sponge up with the bread and jam.

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Irish Soda Bread in a Mug (and then out of a mug) topped with Downton Abbey Christmas Preserves and Dollop Gourmet All Natural Peanut Butter Cookie Dough Frosting
This frosting didn’t change my life…but it did make me more aware of how frosting, when done right, can do magical things to simple recipes.  Forget yogurt on this one…frosting!!  It made for a nice Friday breakfast treat for sure.

Let’s discuss what ingredients go into the Dollop Gourmet All Natural Peanut Butter Cookie Dough frosting, shall we?  This product is made from organic, sustainably-sourced palm shortening, powdered organic cane sugar, peanut butter (peanuts, cane sugar, palm fruit oil, salt), brown sugar (sugar, molasses), vanilla extract, salt, rice bran extract, and natural flavors.  This product is 100% gluten-free, vegan, non-GMO, soy-free, and has half the sugar of regular frosting (but is still sweet!)

As for nutritional information, well…it is frosting, so keep that in mind, HA!  A serving of the Dollop Gourmet All Natural Peanut Butter Cookie Dough Frosting is 2 tablespoons (24 grams) an there are about 14 servings per jar.  A serving will dish up 150 calories, 12 grams fat, 4.5 grams saturated fat, 35 mg sodium, 10 grams carbohydrates, 9 grams sugars, and 1 gram of protein.

If you love frosting, or are just looking for something new to dress up your baked goods, breakfast, or snacks…you should truly try Dollop Gourmet All Natural Frosting.  I did enjoy this, even though I’m not big on frosting.  It wasn’t bad at all.  It did taste, dead up, like cookie dough, so there is that.  We all know I’m a cookie monster…so offering a frosting that tastes like two of my favorite worldly things…peanut butter…and cookies…a definite win!

Dollop Gourmet All Natural Frosting is available in these flavors: Madagascar Vanilla, Hot Chocolate, Firebomb Cinnamon Spice, Peanut Butter Cookie Dough, and Sea Salted Caramel.  If you can’t find them at any local stores, you can seek them out online here!

Love frosting or just have a passing acquaintance with it…you’ll find a reason to love Dollop Gourmet!  That was unexpected.

Product Review: Sweet Note Gluten Free Salt Bagels

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Sweet Note Gluten Free Salt Bagels

Product: Sweet Note Gluten Free Salt Bagels – $7.25

It was just over a year ago when I was in NYC, not able to run the New York City Half Marathon, and hurting pretty much with every step I took.  I was bummed, but I was going to enjoy my trip regardless.  And that meant hitting up all the gluten-free bakeries I could manage in the weekend.

Believe it or not, one of the first places I made it to was Jennifer’s Way Bakery, which is owned and operated by Jennifer Esposito.  She makes bagels there.  And the morning that my roommate and I wandered in, we were hoping there would be bagels.  None were currently out, but they had just opened.  And when we inquired…we were told they were in the oven and if we didn’t mind waiting 10 minutes, she’d have them out to us (not Esposito, but the nice lady working the counter, LOL!).

Of course I was willing to wait for a fresh bagel.  They had a few options as far as flavors went.  My roommate got the Garlic Bagel and I went with the Salt.  Because I wasn’t feeling plain or anything else that day.  We waited and they were brought out to us.  Not your standard fat and fluffy, dense bagels…but more like the way mine turn out when I make them from hand.  A little flat and really impossible to cut in half.  Regardless…the Gluten Free Salt Bagel was amazing and delicious.  And I don’t think I blogged on it…because I can’t seem to find it anywhere…

Anyway…it was my first ever Salt Bagel…and I loved it.  I’m usually more of a sweet person (hence why Cinnamon Raisin is often my favorite thing when it comes to bagels) but this was a nice change of pace.

SO…you can only imagine my glee when Sweet Note Bakery announced that they were releasing four (4) new flavors.  I ordered all of them right away.  And I’ve already given my thoughts on the Garlic & Herb and the Tomato Basil varieties.  Well, my friends…we have come to the Salt variety now!

Do you remember what an amazing soft pretzel tastes like.  All dense and chewy and salty and amazing, yes?  Well…that’s pretty much what a Salt Bagel is.  And Sweet Note is doing it absolutely perfectly.

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Sweet Note Gluten Free Salt Bagel with a Schmear of Tofutti Better Than Cream Cheese (and coffee).

Prepping one of Sweet Note Bakery’s amazing New York-style bagels is super easy.  Always keep this precious cargo frozen.  Do not thaw it to room temperature.  They advise against it.  I advise against it.  Just simply pull from freezer, place in microwave for 1 minute (I go 3o seconds on one side, and then flip it over for 30 seconds on the other side), and then cut in half.  A true New Yorker would stop there…because real New Yorkers don’t eat bagels toasted.  I am a real New Yorker, but I prefer to toast my bagel, thank you very much!  As you know by now, I do not own a toaster anymore.  I toast everything in my oven.  So I preheated the oven to 350°F and popped the bagels in this morning.  I had just gotten in from my first (of 2) spin classes for the day, so I went and hopped in the shower while the bagels lightly toasted.  When I returned to the kitchen, they were ready for a schmear of…something.  Today, I opted for the Tofutti Better Than Cream Cheese that was hanging out on the shelf of my fridge.

I served one to my roomie…and I took care of the other one.  And by take care, I mean I settled in, bagel in one hand, coffee in the other, morning news on TV, and began to take my first bite.

YES!  Nailed it!!  The outside of the bagel, when toasted, gets slightly crispy, but that center remains all doughy and dense and chewy and…awesome.  But with the Sweet Note Gluten Free Salt Bagel…you also get the added bonus of a hit of salt.  Or, as their Web site says, an “a-salt on your taste buds.”  Puns are funny.  Bagels are delicious.  There you have it.  If you love a little kick of salt with each bite, or if you are a fan of soft pretzels…then this bagel variety is for you.  100% guarantee that you will be hooked from the first bite.  My roommate wasn’t too sure about these, wanting to go right to the Garlic (which she has been eager to try)…but I had my heart set on Salt.  And I’m glad we went that way.  It’s the best of the breakfast and snack worlds…combined into one sweet, or in this case, salty bite.  A good schmear of anything, really…be it nut butter or chocolate, or butter, or jelly, or frosting…or even cream cheese (vegan or not)…works with this sort of a flavor.  You want salty and sweet…Nutella or Smudge or some chocolate nut spread.  Oh yeah…now we’re talking.  Or, keep it real and simple with cream cheese.  With the Sweet Note Gluten Free Salt Bagel…you have an open canvas and plenty of options.

But trust me…you’ll hoover this down like it’s going out of style.

So, let’s talk about what ingredients the crazy bagelers at Sweet Note put into their Gluten Free Salt Bagels, shall we?  These bagels are made with love (yep…that’s a listed ingredient!), water, white rice flour, tapioca flour, sweet white rice flour, sorghum flour, brown sugar, cane syrup, olive oil, molasses, xanthan gum, psyllium husk, yeast, and salt.  The Sweet Note Gluten Free Salt Pretzels are gluten-free, soy-free, dairy-free, non-GMO, egg-free, peanut & tree nut-free, and cholesterol free.  LOVE IT!!  Vegan & Gluten Free bagels are now ready to be delivered right to your doorstep!  And when it comes to the Salt variety of the Sweet Note bagels…you can only get them online.

As far as nutritional information goes, you’ll want to eat these up.  A serving size of the Sweet Note Gluten Free Salt Bagels is one (1) bagel (4.5 ounces (128 grams)), and there are four (4) bagels per pack.  This serving will provide you with 300 calories, 4.5 grams fat, 0.5 grams saturated fat, 0 grams trans fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 530 mg sodium, 62 grams carbohydrates, 3 grams fiber, 7 grams sugars, and 4 grams protein.  With the high fiber and protein, you’ll feel full and satisfied long after your bagel is gone.

Real ingredients, amazing nutritional facts, amazing bagels.  Happiness is round and salty and gluten-free.  Trust me, you’ll love to love Sweet Note Gluten Free Salt Bagels.

But, as I mentioned, these are on online exclusive, so if you want to try them out yourself, head over to their online store and place an order!

You won’t regret it.  Order one of everything while you’re at it.  You’ll thank me later!

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

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Heidi Ho Organics Ne Chevre Pure Live Culture Cream Cheeze

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

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

Which sucks.

Mightily.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Also…it’s already gone…

I am not ashamed.

Product Review: Sweet Note Gluten Free Tomato Basil Bagels

Sweet Note Bakery Gluten Free Tomato Basil Bagels
Sweet Note Bakery Gluten Free Tomato Basil Bagels

Product: Sweet Note Gluten Free Tomato Basil Bagels – $7.25

I just got home from New York City.  When you’re in New York, you eat bagels.  It’s what you do.  Fortunately for me, there are a lot of places that offer gluten-free bagels throughout the city.  Most of the bagel shops use a store brand version (like the one I went to…Tompkins Square Bagels), but at least I got to indulge.  BTW…if you go to Tompkins Square Bagels, they have a variety of tofu cream cheeses (for people like me who don’t handle dairy well), which makes the bagel experience that much more authentic.  For the record, I got a plain gluten free bagel there which I had them load up with the tofu veggie cream cheese.   It was mighty good.

But…you can tell when a bagel is a store brand.

Tompkins Square Bagels could really benefit from picking up bagels from a company that does New York-style bagels right!

SWEET NOTE BAKERY!

You want to talk about an appropriate bagel…you look to these ladies (and gentleman).

What’s even more exciting is that Sweet Note has expanded their flavor profile on their bagels.  While they are getting rid of the Sesame Bagels (due to allergen concerns with sesame seeds now), they have added 4 new varieties to their already sought-after, highly delicious, amazing bagel lineup.

I think I have stumbled upon my new favorite from their latest creations.  Seriously…i should have ordered 10 packs of these…

While I have already reviewed their new Garlic & Herb Bagels a few weeks ago…today I stepped it up, reached into my freezer, and delivered to my oven the epitome of every gluten-free bagel out there.  Seriously…no comparison…nothing could live up to the flavors, texture, and sheer awesomeness of every bite of the brand new…

…wait for it…

SWEET NOTE GLUTEN FREE TOMATO BASIL BAGEL!!!!!!

Before I begin to wax rhapsodic about this bagel…let’s start with the basics.  Keep these frozen . Do NOT thaw them out to room temperature ahead of time.  It’s on the instructions on the packaging and in the box they arrive in.  Do not ever think you know best.  Simply place in the microwave for a minute to begin to thaw bagel from frozen.  I have found that if I start with 30 seconds, then completely flip the bagel over for the remaining 30, they thaw out evenly and perfectly.  If you eat a bagel in true New York fashion…stop here.  If you, like me (despite being a New Yorker), like to toast up that bagel a wee bit…then stick it in your toaster (or if you, like me, do not own a toaster, get that oven going at 350°F and place on a baking sheet…toasting for about 15-20 minutes or less).  My roommate was awake at this point, so I let them toast lightly while I went to shower, since I had just returned from my Friday morning spin class.

Timing is everything…and that just seems to be the perfect toasting time for these bagels for me.  I don’t get them to the crispy on the inside point, but do get a nice, light, golden color to them.  My apartment smelled frickin’ awesome this morning while these were working.

Since Tomato Basil is a bit more of a savory flavor, I opted for something different than your standard cream cheese.  Because…why do anything normally?  This was a brand new, exciting, culinary adventure.  LIVE IT UP!  I had a container of Heidi Ho Organics Ne Chevre Pure Live Culture Cashew Cheeze.  I used that!  I’ll review Heidi Ho in a little while..but this is some of the best plant-based cheese I have ever had!!  Goat cheese without the goat!!  OH HELL YES!!  On a tomato basil bagel…now I’m just out of control!!  Somebody stop me!!

Or don’t…because…

HOLY GARDEN OF EATING!!  Let me just say…the Sweet Note Gluten Free Tomato Basil Bagels are like eating a pizza first thing in the morning.  It’s a bagel..that tastes like pizza.  In fact, if I wanted to make bagel pizzas like I used to…this bagel would be the ideal base.  No joke…packed…just loaded…overloaded…full of flavors.  It has this rich tomato flavor to it, but the herb-y nature of the basil keeps the flavor profile balanced and just…awesome.  Yep.  Awesome is now a flavor profile descriptor.  There are no other words to describe how life changing just one bite of this bagel was.  If you are into savory flavors…THIS bagel will blow your culinary mind!  Your taste buds will applaud each and every bite you take…whether you savor it (I tried…I tried…) or mow it down on the go (I might have power ate mine…a little…).  If you’re a pizza freak (she’s a pizza freak…pizza freak…so hot and cheesy)…like I am…this bagel is calling your name.  Loud and proud, my friends.  I am in total and absolute love and now needing to go and buy at least 5 more packs of these.  I will not rest until my freezer is properly stocked.  Just…WOW!!  Wow-factor…off the scale…off the chart…OFF THE CHAIN!!!  Pairing it with a more “cheezy” spread was a wise decision I think too.  While regular cream cheese would work just fine…this…highly complimented every bite.  It was…virtually…pizza for breakfast.  Just like when I was in college…ah…those good ol’ days.

Gluten Free and Vegan Pizza Bagels made with Sweet Note Bakery Gluten Free Tomato Herb Bagels
Gluten Free and Vegan Pizza Bagels made with Sweet Note Bakery Gluten Free Tomato Herb Bagels

And…if that wasn’t enough, I went back for more. YES…MORE!!  I came home from work and toasted up another round of these bagels.  This time, along with the Heidi Ho Organics Ne Chevre Cheeze, I topped it with marinara and some dried basil…making bagel pizzas for dinner.  And they were BEYOND fantastic. They were superbagelfragalisticexpizzalidocious!  Blew me away. Pizza bagels…now that really did bring back some memories, LOL!!  You’d think I was carb loading or something.  But I’m not.  I’m just LOVING these bagels.

If I don’t have your attention yet…then you’re not reading a thing I’ve written.  But in case you need a little more…let’s talk about all the good things that go into the Sweet Note Gluten Free Tomato Basil Bagels, shall we?  Real ingredients for starters.  And it all starts with…LOVE.  Yes…that’s an actual listed ingredient.  Everything that makes these amazing New York-style, gluten-free bagels is listed here:  Love, water, white rice flour, tapioca flour, sweet white rice flour, sorghum flour, brown sugar, cane syrup, olive oil, molasses, yeast, xanthan gum, psyllium husk, garlic, salt, tomato paste, and basil.  Nothing fake or processed…just high quality, real products to make a high-quality real product.  Eating a clean breakfast just got so much tastier.  Sweet Note Gluten Free Tomato Basil Bagels are gluten-free, soy-free, dairy-free, non-GMO, egg-free, peanut & tree nut-free, and cholesterol free.  LOVE IT!!  Vegan & Gluten Free bagels are now ready to be delivered right to your doorstep!

As far as nutrition goes, I LOVE that these bagels keep calories and fat in check.  Honestly!  A serving size is one (1) full bagel (not a half a bagel, but a full)…which is about 4.5 ounces (or 128 grams) of bagel-y goodness.  Each pack of bagels comes with four (4) bagels inside.  The Sweet Note Gluten Free Tomato Basil Bagel will deliver unto you…290 calories, 3.5 grams of 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.  We are talking about the ultimate powerhouse of nutrients in a delicious carby package.  Mmmm…carbs.  With the high fiber and protein, you’ll feel full and satisfied long after your bagel is gone.

This flavor is not an online exclusive, but in case your local stores don’t carry Sweet Note Bagels or have yet to get their hands on the new flavor…you can order this (and go overboard, for real!) in their ONLINE STORE!

There is nothing better than taking your first bite of breakfast and being blown away by the intense, amazing flavors that touch your palate.  This was the ideal way to start my Friday.  Definitely sets the standard for the rest of what I consume today…which is in no way as interesting as my breakfast.  For real.  I mean, a gluten-free peanut butter & jelly sammie just isn’t the same as a gluten-free tomato basil bagel with a schmear of ne chevre cheeze.  When you hear the old adage that breakfast is the most important meal of the day…believe it…and make it epic.

Sweet Note Bagels will definitely take you above and beyond that epic level.  Don’t wait any longer if you haven’t tried these yet.  DO IT!!

Product Review: Sweet Note Gluten Free Garlic & Herb Bagels

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Sweet Note Gluten Free Garlic & Herb Bagels

Product: Sweet Note Gluten Free Garlic & Herb Bagels – $7.25

You know, I’m already one of those “crazy bagelers” that your parents warned you about.  I’m a girl who grew up in the capital of bagel country.  New York.  If you are from New York, you better know how to get your bagel on.

Bagels, while they get a bad rep, are one of my most favorite things in life.  Mmmm…carby goodness for sure.  They are filling, crunchy, chewy, and slathered with some sort of delicious schmear of goodness…making it both an epic morning breakfast and a treat.

And while the gluten-free market is becoming inundated with gluten free versions of bagels…none have really had that authenticity…that dense, chewy, but crispy on the outside authenticity of a true New York-Style bagel.

Until…Sweet Note Bakery

Now, Sweet Note and I have a really fun history.  It all began with a simple tweet.  Yep.  The Twitter is what brought them into my life.  I had reviewed Canyon Bakehouse’s new bagels and Sweet Note chimed in with how if I liked Canyon Bakehouse…I’d love their stuff.  So, I took the bait…went to their Web site…and found a plethora of gluten free and vegan bagel goodness.  It took me awhile to talk myself into ordering anything…but when I did…it was the start of something good. Now, my freezer is never without some variety of Sweet Note Bagels.

And, with winter finally leaving and spring warming our hearts and bodies, Sweet Note decided to spread a little spring fever as well…with the introduction of not one (1) but FOUR (4) new bagel flavors.

I must have died and gone to gluten-free bagel heaven.  The four flavors are Tomato Basil, Salt, Garlic, and Garlic & Herb.  The last three are exclusively available ONLY online in their shop.  When the release date for the bagels came…I immediately placed an order and got all four new flavors.  When it comes to bagels, I don’t mess around.  They arrived on Thursday of last week…so this week…I’m starting to try them out.

I asked my roommate what flavor she wanted to try first, and, without any hesitation, she said, “Garlic & Herb.”  I had a feeling that would be the case, though.  Anything with garlic makes her happy…throw in some herby goodness…and she’s in food heaven (or coma…depending…).

Yesterday was the big premier.  After my 5:30 am spin class, I came home and pulled the Sweet Note Gluten Free Garlic & Herb Bagels out of the freezer and pulled 2 from the packaging.  I thawed them for a minute (I have discovered that if you do 30 seconds on one side, then flip it over and do 30 seconds on the other, you get the perfect thaw) in the microwave and sliced each one in half, placing it on a baking sheet  and prepping it for some toasting while I took my shower.  Into the preheated 350°F oven it went.

I showered, I dressed, I came out of the bathroom and noticed that the aroma in the apartment was crazy goodness.  It was like I stepped into an Italian Trattoria or something.  Roasted garlic and those powerful herbs (rosemary, thyme, basil, and oregano…plus others) just invaded the apartment…and it was enough to set my mouth to watering.  I couldn’t wait to get these out of the oven and tried them.  If they tasted as good as they smelled…these could be dangerous indeed.  A few more minutes (between 15-20 total) in the oven, and I pulled the bagels out, noting the light toast on the cut side and the golden color of the crust…a perfect bagel toasting if I did say so myself.  Each half got a hearty schmear of Daiya Chive & Onion Cream Cheese Style Spread and…breakfast was served.

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Sweet Note Gluten Free Garlic & Herb Bagels with a schmear of Daiya Onion & Chive Cream Cheese Style Spread

I didn’t wait to even sit down before taking a bite of mine…

The Sweet Note Gluten Free Garlic & Herb Bagels…are bagels at their finest.  Rich with powerful flavors and packed with hearty and healthy herbs (that can come straight from an herb garden!), this bagel was one of the most delicious things I have put into my mouth.  And, as a marathon runner, I eat a lot.  HAHA!  The garlic was a strong flavor, but it was tampered down and kept in balance by the earthy and robust flavors of the herbs that were incorporated into the batter.  I loved the intense, but subtle flavors each bite brought.  I love how Sweet Note Bakery makes their bagels in the proper New York-style.  Not the size of a steering wheel, but smaller…denser…thicker…yummier.  Hey…I know a good bagel when I bite into one.  These toasted up to perfection.  These tasted of perfection.  The ladies (and gentleman) of the Sweet Note Bakery team hit this one out of the bagel ball park.  MVB (Most Valuable Bagel)…right here.  SO GOOD!

So…let’s discuss the ingredients that go into Sweet Note Gluten Free Garlic & Herb Bagels.  These bagels are made from LOVE (yep…that’s an ingredient!), water, white rice flour, tapioca flour, sweet white rice flour, sorghum flour, brown sugar, cane syrup, olive oil, molasses, yeast, xanthan gum, psyllium husk, garlic, salt, marjoram, thyme, rosemary, sage, basil and oregano.  As always when it comes to Sweet Note’s bagels, these bagels are gluten-free, soy-free, dairy-free, non-GMO, egg-free, peanut & tree nut-free, and cholesterol free.  LOVE IT!!

As far as nutrition goes, I love how all four of the new flavors are under 300 calories per bagel.  One full bagel (not half a bagel…but a full bagel) with under 300 calories.  Yep…speaking my language.  The Sweet Note Gluten Free Garlic & Herb Bagels come with four (4) bagels per package.  The serving size is one (1) bagel.  This one bagel will deliver unto you 280 calories, 3.5 grams fat, .5 grams saturated fat, 0 grams trans fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 320 mg sodium, 60 grams carbohydrates, 3 grams fiber, 7 grams sugars, and 4 grams of protein.  POWERHOUSE of nutrition…especially for the endurance athlete.  And the higher fiber and protein content will keep you fuller longer!

This flavor is only available in their ONLINE STORE!

I am so thankful for Sweet Note for bringing authentic bagels to the gluten-free world.  No fillers…just real ingredients.  That’s one reason their bagels are so amazing.  Making them in the classic New York-style also helps.  So, my dearest friends at Sweet Note…keep making these awesome breakfast goodies…keep exploring new flavors…and keep bringing only the best…because it is companies like you…and products like this…that make the this gluten-free girl rise and shine in the morning.  Your Garlic & Herb Bagels are a ray of sunshine…schmeared with a healthy dose of awesomesauce!