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!

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Product Review: Toufayan Bakeries Gluten Free Garden Vegetable Wraps

Toufayan Bakeries Gluten Free Garden Vegetable Wraps

Toufayan Bakeries Gluten Free Garden Vegetable Wraps

Product: Toufayan Bakeries Gluten Free Garden Vegetable Wraps – $4.59+

There was a time, not too long ago, back when I was first entering the world of Celiac Disease and the gluten-free lifestyle, that I discovered there was a huge lack of things like…sandwich wraps…at least decent ones…out on the gluten-free market.  That has since changed, thank goodness, as more familiar products are being created.  It’s nice to actually have a gluten-free product that isn’t chips or cookies or brownies or cake or…you get my point.

When it comes to food, I like my snacks too, but I really crave real food.  And, as I’ve been making a point of cleaning up my diet, real food is taking a top priority over highly processed, nutritionally-lacking foods.  I mean, I still have my (gluten-free) cake and eat it too…but I’m making better, plant-based, real-food choices more than anything else.  I am working off a meal plan and it’s really a life savor.  Sometimes it does mean a ton of prep work…but it’s worth it.  In the end…it is totally worth it.

Well, tonight’s meal plan called for Greek Tacos.  The original recipe called for pita bread, but the one version of gluten-free pita bread I found isn’t be sold at my grocery store anymore…so…tortillas it is.  When I went shopping at Jungle Jim’s International Market on my birthday, one of the gluten-free products I picked up that I hadn’t found anywhere else was…sandwich wraps.

It is so difficult to find good gluten-free wraps, even today.  You go to fold one and it breaks.  It’s too thick…or perhaps not thick enough.  It doesn’t have a good flavor.  It doesn’t cook well.  It doesn’t hold together or immediately crumbles when you wrap them up.  They rip and tear…you get the drift.

Well, as I had never heard of the Toufayan Bakeries brand before…I decided it was worth trying.  If anything else, I was just stuck with another wrap that crumbled under my high expectations.  Well, with these Greek Tacos being prepped and needing a vehicle in which to be built upon, I pulled the Toufayan Bakeries Gluten Free Garden Vegetable Wraps out of my pantry and immediately set to work on building dinner on them.

Toufayan Bakeries is one of the largest, privately-held, specialty bakeries in the United States.  It produces over 100 varieties of baked goods daily, including its own line of gluten-free wraps and gluten-free pita chips.  I have yet to find the gluten-free pita chips, but I found a few varieties of the wraps while grocery shopping.  Being on a budget even on my birthday, however, I only picked one to try in the end.

Available in four different flavors— original, garden vegetable, savory tomato, and spinach— the wraps are 100% gluten free. These wraps are processed a separate, dedicated gluten-free line, routinely tested to be under 10 ppm.

It was definitely time to put this new (to me) brand to the test.  And what does that better than a mess of Greek vegetables, lentils, and sauce, right?  I went to work immediately building the Greek Tacos up with warm lentils, thinly sliced red onion, tomatos, local bibb lettuce, and diced cucumber…topped off with a vegan tzatziki sauce.  Talk about testing the durability of a wrap, right?  Well, the only problem was…there was too much veggie goodness for the wrap, so actually folding it up wasn’t happening.  I had to eat it…like a taco.  And since this is Greek Tacos…that actually was okay.

So…this is how it stacked up…

I absolutely LOVED the taste and texture of the Toufayan Bakeries Gluten Free Garden Vegetable Wraps.  It had a great feel to it,  However, it wasn’t quite able to stay together…but for the most part, it handled the plethora of textures and volume of food that I hefted into it.  So, I’m not surprised it got a bit soggy (lettuce, tomato, cucumber and a yogurt topping…yeah…it happens) and crumbled a little.  But, for the most part, it did hold up and I was able to eat the wrap like a taco for much of my dinner.  That is a HUGE thing as most of the time I’m left eating the remnants off my plate with a fork.  The flavor was amazing and didn’t distract from the filling itself, just acted more as a kick-start to flavor town.  And, finally, someone got the texture right.  It wasn’t gummy or dry.  It was pliable and light and just…really delicious.  I will have to check around at stores around here for more Toufayan Gluten Free Wraps…because I just want to keep trying them out in various ways…

I’m thinking quesadillas or burritos might be next.  Maybe just a basic sandwich wrap.  We’ll see.  With wraps that don’t fall apart instantly…the possibilities are endless.

So, what are the Toufayan Bakeries Gluten Free Garden Vegetable Wraps made from?  Well, they are made with tapioca starch, water, rice flour, soybean flour, shortening (canola oil, palm and palm kernel), vegetable blend (spinach, parsley, red bell pepper, carrot, tomato, onion, shallot, garlic) food starch modified (corn starch, tapioca starch), potato starch, contains 2% or less of the following: yeast, baking powder (calcium acid pyprohosphate, sodium bicarbonate, corn starch, monocalcium phosphate, calcium sulfate, whole eggs, fumaric acid, mono and diglycerides with citric acid (a preservative), maltodextrin, dextrose, xanthan gum, egg whites, calcium propionate (to maintain freshness), and salt.

Whew.  That’s a laundry list, yeah?  I actually would prefer for my wraps to have fewer ingredients and additives in them, but I guess that’s what gets them so close to that flour tortilla flavor.

As for nutritional information, a serving size of the Toufayan Bakeries Gluten Free Garden Vegetable Wraps is 1 wrap (52 grams) and there are 6 wraps per package.  This serving will provide you with 120 calories, 3.5 grams fat, 0.5 grams saturated fat, 0 grams trans fat, 20 mg cholesterol, 350 mg sodium, 24 grams carbohydrates, 2 grams fiber, 4 grams sugars, and 5 grams protein.  They do have the fact that they are high in fiber and protein to make them feel more filling in the end.  So, that is very handy.

I absolutely loved what I tasted when I bit into the Toufayan Bakeries Gluten Free Garden Vegetable Wraps.  And while my first attempt at using them wasn’t exactly as I envisioned, I have high hopes for the next.  If you can track down the Toufayan Bakeries Gluten Free Wraps…I highly recommend it.  One of the best attempts at a wrap I have ever had.  Nicely done!

Greek Tacos made on Toufayan Bakeries Gluten Free Garden Vegetable Wraps

Greek Tacos made on Toufayan Bakeries Gluten Free Garden Vegetable Wraps

Restaurant Review: Living Foods Market and Café, Koloa, Hawaii

Living Foods Market and Café, Koloa, Hawaii

Living Foods Market and Café, Koloa, Hawaii

Restaurant: Living Foods Market and Café, Koloa, Hawaii

Okay…so technically this was an unplanned, unexpected way to have breakfast on Saturday morning.  The initial plan was to go by Sweet Marie’s Hawaii Inc., Hawaii’s first 100% dedicated gluten free bakery.  It sort of reminded me a little of home with Annie May’s Sweet Café, when my friend Jenn sent me the link to the Web site.  I was pretty stoked about having a 100% gluten-free facility where I could grab snacks, treats, and even a meal (see…just like Annie May’s…minus all the cool unique stuff like soft pretzels, toaster treats, and that sort of stuff).

However, it seems Sweet Marie’s is no longer in business.  The sad thing is…nothing indicates this.  Not one thing.  We got into the car and got our morning coffee…then headed to where Sweet Marie’s was supposed to be…but it wasn’t there.  A different business now occupied the spot.  The Website and Facebook page do not indicate that this bakery closed…but it’s gone.  G.O.N.E.  And I was really, really put out and sad…because I had planned out what I wanted to get there to eat, and now I had no idea where to get breakfast that morning.

Then Cathy saved the day.  While looking around on Find Me Gluten Free (which I later found a review on Sweet Marie’s from June saying that the place was closed), Cathy had discovered a place called Living Foods Market and Café, which is a local gourmet market and café that offers up the freshest seasonal specials and local favorites, as well as handpicked imports from around the world.  In addition, they offer a cafeteria-type café, offering an impressive menu with items that are created by the culinary team that is employed there.  They offer paninis and pizza and…the kicker…GLUTEN FREE CREPES…among other things.  It was breakfast…and the three of us thought crepes sounded divine.

Living Foods Market and Café Smoked Ham and Cheese Crepe

Living Foods Market and Café Smoked Ham and Cheese Crepe

So, we left the ruins of a gluten-free bakery dream behind and took the 25 minute drive around to Koloa, where Living Foods Market and Café is located.  It was a nice shop to be sure.  The market was packed with familiar items and items I had never seen before.  And lots of tasty, tasty sounding foods that I only wish I had time to purchase and consume before my time in paradise was up.  We got in line to place our food orders…

Cathy was the oddball this time.  She went ahead and ordered the Smoked Ham and Cheese Crepe ($13.99), which is basically your simple breakfast crepe…smoked ham, melted fontina cheese and a soft cooked egg.  It sounded like everything she liked in the world and normally couldn’t get at home, thanks to the chef of the apartment being a gluten-free vegetarian who is lactose intolerant.  HA!

Jenn and I, without any conversation, apparently were on the same wavelength when it came to our choice for crepe.  We both got the Sautéed Apples Crepe ($13.99).  Cathy and I got bottles of water to go with ours and we went to find somewhere to sit.  Most of the larger tables were taken up, but we did find a table with two chairs at it in the back, and hauled over a seat from another table for the third.  I left Cathy with the table and returned to (selfishly) poke around more in the market and then retrieve the crepes upon completion.

Jenn was still inside and began to tell me about this crazy-good sounding macadamia nut butter that she found in the food isles.  I had her go show me.  It was crazy-expensive (well…maybe not for macadamia nut products), but sounded amazing.  She was considering purchasing it.  I said it was relevant to my interests.  HA!  So, we poked around a little more at some of the local products (as in hand soaps, shampoo, the like), until the chef at the line called Jenn’s name and heaped this plate up with the biggest crepe I had seen in my life on top.  I think they used 1 full or maybe 1-1/2 apples in the apple crepe.  Cathy and my order followed right after…with Cathy’s crepe looking the most normal sized and mine being this monster.  I carried the breakfast plates outside to the table and we all tucked in for our meal.

Cathy did, in fact, love her breakfast-style Smoked Ham and Cheese Crepe.  She especially loved it when she got to the part with the egg inside.  She acted all surprised that there was an egg, despite the fact that it was listed on the description when she ordered it.  She didn’t forget…she was just being Cathy.  I think she’s so used to breakfast-type savory crepes having scrambled eggs inside…instead of a soft-cooked egg.  Regardless…she was a happy pork-eating girl.

Jenn and I both tucked into the Sautéed Apples Crepe.  This…was awesome.  It is a crepe wrapper (which…I’ll get into my thoughts on that in a moment) wrapped around apples sautéed in butter and cinnamon and topped off with a drizzle of caramel and a dollop of whipped cream.  I pushed my whipped cream to the side and took my first bite.  So…the crepe wrap as opposed to the crepe that is cooked and toasted to this golden perfection, with a little golden crust on the outside…was missing.  The crepe wrap was unexciting and dull in comparison to the crepes that I have had at Sweet ‘N Savory Food Truck in Louisville, Kentucky and C’est Si Bon! in Bexley, Ohio. Both of those gluten-free crepe places make their crepes on crepe stones, yielding a much more finished product.  While the wrap here at Living Food Market and Café was…pale and a little bit gummy.  The fact that the fillings were not cooked inside the wrap itself made it so that the hot apples and their juices soggied up the crepe and it eventually began to fall apart.  All that being said, the apples were caramelized and cooked to utter perfection.  Seriously.  It was like diving into an apple pie and eating the filling only.  The balance of apples to cinnamon was amazing…and filling.  Whew.  There were so many apples stuffed into this one crepe that it was amazing I was able to eat as much as I did.  In the end, I pushed aside the crepe wrap and tried to eat the apples, but even some of that was left behind.  It was not the way I intended to start the morning, but it was filling and delicious…and in the end…I suppose that’s all that matters.

After we ate and cleared our dishes, we headed out…pausing briefly while Jenn did, in fact, purchase the macadamia nut butter that was calling her name.  YAY!  And from there…it was off for a day of exploring (as much as I comfortably can) and some beach time.  It was a nice way to start the day and left us relatively full until about 3 pm, when we packed up from the shore, drove back to the resort, cycled through showers, and headed out for dinner.

So, while it wasn’t the breakfast I anticipated, it was a hearty, and good breakfast in the end.  If you love a sweet crepe…dive into that Sautéed Apples offering.  Trust me!!  It’s really good!

Living Foods Market and Café Gluten Free Sautéed Apples Crepe

Living Foods Market and Café Gluten Free Sautéed Apples Crepe

Product Review: Sandwich Petals Gluten Free Agave Grain Flatbread

Sandwich Petals Gluten Free Agave Grain Flatbread

Sandwich Petals Gluten Free Agave Grain Flatbread

Product: Sandwich Petals Gluten Free Agave Grain Flatbread – $3.99+

Sometimes…the world is made for more than just gluten-free sandwich bread.  The problem is…not only is a good and delicious gluten free sandwich bread sometimes hard to come by…so is an alternative.  For some, gluten-free isn’t just a dietary choice, it is a necessity.  No cheating allowed or bad things happen.  Very, very bad things.

Back before my initial diagnosis, however, I had found a new love for making wraps.  Yes…wraps.  And one of the best options out on the market were these low-calorie wraps called…Sandwich Thins.  Ah, the days of making sandwiches and pizzas and other things using Flat-Out Sandwich Wraps.  I loved them.  I used them a lot.  But, when I was diagnosed as a Celiac, at first I refused to spend an ungodly amount of money on sandwich bread…and when I finally decided I couldn’t live my life without sandwiches…I had to find a good one to use.  When I narrowed that down to a few different brands to choose from (since one would usually be on sale at some point at one of the 9 stores I would visit)…I resigned myself that if I wanted anything apart from regular sandwiches…I’d have to use gluten-free corn tortillas.  And that…just seemed wrong.

Since then, however, a few companies, including Rudi’s Gluten-Free and Udi’s Gluten-Free have released tortillas and wraps that make great substitutes.  But, they just weren’t the same as my Flat-Out Sandwich Wraps from my past.  It was sad for this gluten-free foodie, for sure.

But then, I took a journey to Boulder, Colorado and just happened to be killing time on a Sunday morning, waiting for some stores to open, perusing the aisles of a local natural food store.  I wasn’t planning on shopping for food items.  After all, these had to make the journey back to Indiana with me.  But, alas…when I’m not looking is when I find something.  And this time, this something was – SANDWICH PETALS!  In three flavors, even.  These reminded me so much (in shape and feel) of the Flat-Out Sandwich Wraps I had given up…that I had to have them.  So, all three flavors were purchased and made the journey home.  The Spinach Garlic flavor was the first to disappear.

This time…as I was making a simple vegetable wrap for dinner, I opted for the “original” version…the Agave Grain flavor of Sandwich Petals.

Sandwich Petals Gluten Free Agave Grain Flatbread

Sandwich Petals Gluten Free Agave Grain Flatbread

Sandwich Petals are aptly named because, well, they are shaped like a flower petal.  Or a football.  Or, perhaps, a combination of the two.  Regardless, they are oblong, narrower at the top and slightly wider around the middle.  They are easy enough to prepare too.  Just prep your filling, and then wrap a single Gluten Free Agave Grain Sandwich Petal in damp paper towels.  Microwave for 30 seconds.  And you’re good to go.  When you first take the petals out of the resealable package, they are rather stiff and stale feeling.  But when you warm them up in the damp paper towel, they do get slightly more pliable and flexible.  Enough that you can roll them up and make them functional to say the least.  So…it would do.  I warmed mine up, gave each petal a schmear of sun-dried tomato hummus, then packed it with kale, spinach, greens, yellow peppers, sliced onion, carrots, and a bit of avocado.  Do not attempt to actually be able to roll these up into a wrap if you do fill it like an actual wrap should be filled.  That doesn’t work with these wraps.  But, you can go “taco-style” with them.  It will be messy…but it works.  And that’s exactly how it was for the past two nights.

The Gluten Free Agave Grain Sandwich Petals were actually sweet.  Which…was weird when paired with the vegetables.  At least I thought so.  A little bit of sweetness is fine, but this was an odd sweetness that just didn’t work in tandem with the rest of the insides.  This one, as I found out this morning when I paired this wrap instead with a banana, some melted peanut butter, and a bit of gluten-free chocolate chip granola, worked best as a dessert base, or wrap for something with a bit more sweetness.  While not off-putting, it was just…different.  But, ah well.  If you warm up the Agave Grain Sandwich Petal and don’t build and consume your wrap immediately, leave it within the damp paper towel…or your wrap does stiffen up and harden back up a little.  While it still is good, it’s just not as nice as a soft and pliable wrap that sandwich wraps are associated with.  These were good…but not “knock-my-socks-off” fantastic.  I don’t know if I would seek out this particular flavor again…unless wanting to make a sweet wrap or something that included cinnamon and sugar and chocolate and all that stuff.  The sweetness just seems to work better with that sort of a filling.  Not bad.  But…not my favorite either.  I reserve the right to be a bit picky when it comes to the short supply of gluten-free options out there.  Wow me!  That’s how you win me.

Hummus and Veggie Wrap made with Sandwich Petals Gluten Free Agave Grain Flatbread

Hummus and Veggie Wrap made with Sandwich Petals Gluten Free Agave Grain Flatbread

The Gluten Free Agave Grain Sandwich Petals are gluten free, dairy free, soy free, nut free, egg free, non-GMO, and diabetic smart.  These flatbreads are made with 10 gluten free ancient grains, contain omega 3’s, prebiotics (which aid in a healthy digestive system – very important for Celiacs, indeed!), are versatile, don’t have to be frozen, are virtually allergen free, and are heart healthy!  The Gluten Free Agave Grain Sandwich Petals are made from GluTenFree Gluten-Free Proprietary blend of milled and whole grains (including: corn, flax, sesame, buckwheat, brown rice, sorghum, millet, quinoa, teff, and amaranth), water, organic agave nectar, tapioca starch, raisin juice, molasses, short chain fructooligosaccharides, xanthan gum, dicalcium phosphate, sodium bicarbonate, fumaric acid, sodium propionate, and sorbic acid.  I know…those last few sound rather…processed, yes?  Yeah…I agree.  But…gluten-free flatbreads/wraps are important to at least try!  Even if you’re trying to do more clean eating.

As far as nutrition goes, a serving of the Gluten Free Agave Grain Sandwich Petals is 1 wrap.  This 1 petal will provide you with 100 calories and only 1 gram of fat.  Theses petals do not have any trans fat or cholesterol.  One of these wraps will give you 120 mg sodium and 3 grams of sugar.  Considering these are sweeter than the other version I tried, I think that’s not a bad number on the sugar.  One of these wraps will also serve up 3 grams of fiber and 2 grams of protein.  So, yes…they are filling, but they won’t leave you feeling like a glutton or as though you have eaten too much.  Even when stuffed full of whatever fillings you want, be it sweet, savory, a protein, or just vegetables.

I have yet to find Sandwich Petals anywhere in the stores I live near or in this area of the country.  However, if you are curious about them, you can order them on the Sandwich Petals page…here!  I was certainly a bigger fan of the Spinach Garlic version of these gluten-free tortillas, but the Agave Grain version wasn’t too bad itself.  If these were readily available in my area, I would definitely consider using them in other ways.  If you like a kick of sweetness in each bite…or are looking for a dessert wrap of some sort, this would be the wrap for you.  These wraps, I will say, do not distract from whatever filling you do put inside, though.  Even if it has a sweetness in the aftertaste.  I love having different options when I’m preparing a sandwich without making a standard sandwich with gluten-free bread.  While the Gluten Free Agave Grain Sandwich Wraps were not my favorite of the two versions (of three) that I have tried…they weren’t horrible either.  Just choose your use wisely with these.  To me…until this morning’s breakfast creation…these ones just fell a bit…flat.

Breakfast Banana, Peanut Butter, and Granola Wrap using Sandwich Petals Agave Grain Flatbread

Breakfast Banana, Peanut Butter, and Granola Wrap using Sandwich Petals Agave Grain Flatbread

Product Review: Improveat’s The Pure Wraps

Improveat's The Pure Wraps

Improveat’s The Pure Wraps

Product: Improveat’s The Pure Wraps

Looking for a good tortilla alternative?  Hey…sometimes we are.  I know I’m usually searching for some sort of wrap that I can use…in some fashion.  And I managed to find a few options in other areas of the country…but never really in my state or region.  One product that I have seen, but haven’t gotten the nerve to try are The Pure Wraps.  I spotted these at a few of my local natural food stores on end caps and the like…but I just haven’t managed to talk myself into getting them.

Enter my monthly delivery from Cuisine Cube!  If I haven’t gotten you curious enough to sign up for a month of this delivery…then you aren’t human.  Seriously, click on the link above and check them out.  It is affordable and you really do get some interesting and otherwise unknown products each month delivered right to your door.  All gluten-free.  How’s that for amazing?

So, in only my second cube to arrive, back in June, one of the products included were The Pure Wraps from Improveat.  Hmmm…now I didn’t have to talk myself into purchasing them.  I now had them within my clutches.  Thanks Cuisine Cube!  Anyway, I tucked these away in my hall pantry, and sort of had the fact that they were there lingering in my mind for awhile.  I just needed a good reason to get them out and try them.

Filling form y quesadillas: The Pioneer Woman's Butternut Squash & Kale

Filling form y quesadillas: The Pioneer Woman’s Butternut Squash & Kale

That moment presented itself in the week following my trip to Walt Disney World to run the Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon.  My roommate and I are getting back on track with our clean eating and I still happened to have a butternut squash from my bin a couple weeks before.  I purchased some organic kale and whipped up a recipe from The Pioneer Woman for her Butternut Squash and Kale.  She had a link using it as a stuffing for quesadillas.  And I thought…well…I do have those Pure Wraps in my pantry.  I wasn’t sure how well it would work, but I figured…it was at least worth a try.

So, that evening, I managed to properly cut a butternut squash without almost losing a finger and without much problem.  I cooked up the delicious squash and kale mixture and then it was time for the quesadilla part.  I retrieved the packet of Improveat’s The Pure Wraps and opened it up.

Improveat's The Pure Wraps (raw)

Improveat’s The Pure Wraps (raw)

What I pulled out were squares of what almost looked like thin paper.  I was now wondering how these would work with the whole “drop in some butter to crisp up the outside” method for the quesadillas.  I figured there wasn’t much to lose, so, into the pan one went.  It took a moment to begin to brown, but it did…so I flipped it.  These didn’t exactly crisp up right away, so when I went to do the other one, I set the first on a paper towel.  That’s when it began to crisp up.  Maybe it would work.  Maybe not.  If not, just wrap it around the filling and eat it like…shawarma or something.

But…it did work.  In fact, I was pleasantly surprised when the wraps charred up and did become solid enough to hold the amazing filling I prepared simply with local squash and organic kale…and a little bit of seasoning.  Mmmm.  So, there it was…dinner.  It wasn’t a normal looking quesadilla,but it wasn’t made with your typical ingredients.  So…I cut them in half…and they crumbled slightly, but it worked.  Dinner was served.

I was actually so happy with the way Improveat’s The Pure Wraps tasted.  Considering they are made from only three ingredients, and not a typical tortilla, I wasn’t sure how well this would work.  But they worked perfectly.  And it was a different take on how to eat them.  Next time, and there will be a next time, I think I will leave them in their natural state.  But, even with the attempt at crisping them up, I still got the bit of sweetness from the coconut these wraps are made from.  And this really paired well with the earthy and spicy flavors of the squash and kale that I placed inside.  I was beyond satisfied with these wraps and honestly will be heading out to the store for more.  I’m excited about them.  I fell in love with them.  And, they fall right into the clean eating regimen that my roomie and I are trying to get back on.

So, what exactly are Improveat’s The Pure Wraps made from?  Simple.  Each wrap is made from only three ingredients: young coconut, coconut water, and Himalayan sea salt.  Boom.  That’s it.  You can’t get more pure than that!  The entire purpose of these wraps being created by Improveat (based out of Atlanta, Georgia) was to have a healthy bread/tortilla substitute that was highly nutritious, free of major food allergens (including gluten!) and convenient for today’s busy lifestyle.  It took over two years of research and testing to come up with the right product, realizing the vision of the creators without sacrificing their high standards.  Talk about a labor of love…and one that really paid off.  These wraps are gluten-free, raw, alkalline, corn-free, soy-free, dairy-free and egg-free.

As far as nutritional information goes, Improveat’s The Pure Wraps come in a package containing four wraps.  A serving size is one of these wraps.  One wrap will serve up 60 calories and 2.5 grams of fat.  They are cholesterol free.  You will be consuming 240 mg sodium and less than 1 gram of sugar.  Don’t you love that.  These wraps won’t make you feel bloated or stuffed either.  Each one contains less than 1 gram of fiber and they have no natural protein.  Thanks to the coconut that goes into each one, you also get a bonus of 120 mg potassium.  Gotta love that.

And you will love these wraps.  Honestly.  I can’t wait to try them again, and this time just use them in the simple manner they are prepared.  Just fill, roll and enjoy.  But, on a whole, these were very good the way I prepared them too.  They held up to even cooking, which I wasn’t sure how that would work but it did.

So, once again, Cuisine Cube, you have made a believer out of me.  Thank you for giving me the opportunity to try a product that I had been too nervous to try before.  Stepping out of your comfort zone when it comes to food is important, and this made it easy to do so.

Gluten-Free Butternut Squash and Kale Quesadillas made with Improveat's The Pure Wraps

Gluten-Free Butternut Squash and Kale Quesadillas made with Improveat’s The Pure Wraps