Recipe: PB&J Breakfast Bowl

It was inspired by an accidental find while strolling the streets of SoHo in Manhattan, NYC!  My roommate and I were in NYC because I was running the NYC Half Marathon…but we were going to spend a few days there and not just fly in, race, and fly out.  On one of our excursions that afternoon, we stumbled upon the Chobani Café there in SoHo.

We were curious…as we had never seen (or heard) of the Chobani Café before, but we were both fans of Chobani Greek Yogurt.  So…we stepped inside to get an idea of what it was all about.

After looking at all the amazing creations being done up in the kitchen right in front of us, we took our own look at the menu and decided to get a half size bowl of one of their breakfast bowls and have that as a snack/lunch.  We ended up deciding to try their PB&J Breakfast Bowl, which was created using Plain Chobani Yogurt, Creamy Peanut Butter, Fresh Red Grapes, Concord Gape Jelly, and topped off with Roasted Peanuts.

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Chobani Café PB&J Breakfast Bowl, my inspiration!

We devoured this…so, upon returning home…I decided this would be a perfect breakfast to have, especially on our gym mornings.  So…I began to recreate it.  With different versions, different flavors, and different peanut butter options.  I’ve come to love my current incarnation of it, which uses powdered peanut butter.

So, upon request from a few people, I’m putting the recipe I have worked for over a year on (and will mention variations I have tried) to perfect over and over again.

Recipe: PB&J Breakfast Bowl

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PB&J Breakfast Bowl made with Vegan Yogurt, Powdered Peanut Butter, Strawberry Jam, a mix of organic Strawberries & Blueberries, and Roasted Peanuts

Serves 1

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup plain yogurt (Greek, vegan, etc…your choice)
  • 2 tablespoons peanut butter (creamy natural or powdered)
  • 1/4 cup fruit sliced (grapes, strawberry, whole blueberries)
  • 2-3 tablespoons jam/jelly (I prefer low sugar versions and match flavors to the fruit I use…grape with grape, strawberry with strawberry, etc.)
  • 1-2 ounces roasted peanuts


Directions:

Scoop 1 cup of yogurt into a bowl.  If you are using powdered peanut butter (less fat & calories), add it here and stir well.  Otherwise…hold off on adding the peanut butter for the time being.

Slice fruit in half and add to the bowl.

Top with jam.  If you are using creamy peanut butter, drizzle it around the inside edge of the bowl.

Top with peanuts.

Devour.

~*~*~

As I said, I have been making this for well over a year now, and have done so many different versions of it.  It is an amazing way to start the day.  I have used chocolate peanut butter with the strawberry jam and strawberries for a chocolate covered strawberry take and so on. So…get creative!!  That yogurt is a blank palate…so feel free to play around with it.

Below, BTW, is the version I used to make with the natural creamy peanut butter.

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Breakfast PB&J Bowl made with Vegan Yogurt, Concord Grape Jelly, Grapes, Natural Peanut Butter (NuttZo) and Roasted Peanuts

However you decide to mix it up and fill it up…you’ll love this bowl.  So go ahead…get creative!!  And enjoy every bite.

Recipe: Gluten Free S’mores Scones (plus bonus from Schar Gluten Free)

I have never been shy about my love of the products that Schar Gluten Free puts out on the market.  I have never had a complaint about any version of their gluten free take on a bread, cookie, candy, cracker, etc.  But one of my most favorite things that have introduced has to be their Gluten Free Honeygrams.
Gluten free graham crackers, my friends.

SO GOOD!

Well, with the weather cooling down…bon fires and s’mores are in season!!  And thanks to these amazing Honeygrams, the gluten-free community will never lack for the perfect vehicle for marshmallows and chocolate bars.

Are you drooling yet?

I was sent a fantastic Smores kit from Schar and got to work on a recipe.  Immediately, I knew I wanted to do something that I have great passion for…

Yep.

Breakfast.  And yes…SCONES!!  Although bagels were my second choice.  I might do that in the very near future!

Below is the recipe…but before you check that out, be sure you head over to http://www.smoreschar.com/ for a free sample pack and a coupon for $1.00 off!

And then come back and check out my recipe for these S’mores Scones, made with the help of Schar’s Honeygrams!

Recipe: Gluten Free S’mores Scones

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Ingredients:

For the Scones

  • 1 cup  gluten free bread mix (I used Mina’s Purely Divine)
  • 1 cup gluten free all-purpose flour (I used Cup4Cup)
  • 1/2 cup graham cracker crumbs (about 6 Schar Honeygram crackers put through a food processor or blender)
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter (I used Earth Balance)
  • 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt (I used So Delicious)
  • 1 egg, slightly beaten
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoon milk (I used Silk Unsweetened Cashew Milk)
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chunks/chocolate chips
  • 2/3 cup mini marshmallows

For the Glazes

  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1-1/2 tablespoon water
  • 1/2 cup mini marshmallows
  • 1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup dark chocolate chips or chocolate bars

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a baking mat.

In a large bowl, whisk together flours, graham cracker crumbs, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

Cut in butter with pastry blender, two forks, or your hands until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.

Add in yogurt, egg, vanilla, and milk. Mix until just combined. Stir in chocolate chunks and marshmallows.

Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead about 5-6 times until dough just comes together. Shape dough into an eight inch circle. Cut into 8 pieces and place on prepared baking sheet.

Bake for 15-18 minutes or until just starting to turn light golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.

While scones are cooling, whisk together confectioner’s sugar and salt. Melt butter and water together over medium low heat. Add in marshmallows and stir until melted. Add to sugar mixture and whisk until combined and smooth. Drizzle over cooled scones.

Melt chocolate according to package instructions. Drizzle over scones. Allow to cool and harden before serving.

Serve.

Devour.

~*~*~

These are fantastic.  And they do bring that entire Smores experience and taste to your breakfast table.  Scones are fluffy and crumbly and these have an extra benefit of a sweet twist as well.

Remember to head over to Schar and get your sample pack of Honeygrams.  Trust me…no other gluten-free graham crackers taste like these.  Even better than the real thing!

#SmoreSchar

Winding Up A Windy Week

Whew.

Anyone else out there have to contend with stupid strong winds this week?  I swear, it was strong winds all week.  You know…those types of winds that, when you head out for a run, you are running into the wind…and when you turn around to come back…you are still running into the wind.

That being said, the cold temperatures have really wreaked havoc on my body.  At least, I hope it’s the cold weather…hard to say when spring weather has all but disappeared…despite being mid-April-ish!  UGH!

But that being said, there has been some amazing stuff going on this week for me too.  Sometimes it might seem mundane, but, you know…simple things make me happy, and there is nothing wrong with that.

1. My new favorite piece of kitchen gear
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This…is a cutting board.  This is a cutting board made by my super speedy, awesome, super-talented friend and running buddy, Dennis!!  How amazing is this?!  I love it.  I tried it out all this week, and it seriously makes me happy just to chop up my vegetables and fruits and tofu…and whatever else needed a happy bit of chopping.

Dennis, you’re super talented and I thank you so much for this gift.  Seriously, my favorite thing in the kitchen.

2. Game of Thrones
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Okay, so, I don’t have cable.  Nor do I have anything Apple that I could get HBO Go or whatever it was so I could watch Game of Thrones Season 5 while it was airing.  This meant, I was dodging spoilers (and still am whenever an actor from the show starts trending).  But, I purchased the Blu-Rays the other day, and have dived headlong into the season.  I’ve gotten through half of the season so far and am eager to wrap it up.  And then I need to figure out how to watch Season 6 as it airs…if possible.  Shhh…no spoilers!

3.  Cupcake of the Week

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Annie May’s Sweet Café Cupcake of the Week – Strawberry Shortcake Cupcake (vanilla cupcake filled with strawberry jam and topped with vanilla frosting and a fresh strawberry)

I have never been a cupcake person, but lately, Annie May’s Sweet Cafe, has been putting out a new weekly special…CUPCAKE OF THE WEEK!  And they always just sound so amazing.  I think I’ve only missed out on 2 of the weeks (once because I got a cookie, and the other because they were sold out).  But it has been my favorite thing to check out when I go in for Soft Pretzel Wednesday. It’s usually the dessert I split with my roomie that night.  A nice mid-week treat for sure.  Anyway, some of the standouts have been the “Unicorn Cupcake,” the “Strawberry Shortcake Cupcake” and the “Hot Fudge Sunday Cupcake.”  I missed the Cookie Dough one so maybe they’ll bring that one back sometime.  All allergen-free…and all have been totally yummy!!

4.  Star Wars: The Force Awakens


Are you aware that the new Star Wars came out on Blu-Ray and DVD this week?  I got the special edition at Walmart…because it had BB-8 on the cover.  Dammit, I’m such a BB-8 fangirl.  Regardless, I LOVED this movie.  And I love the new characters.  And I really love BB-8.  So, yeah, I braved Walmart and bought the Blu-Ray this past week.  I hear my Sphero BB-8 droid will react to the movie if I have him turned on and watching it when I am.  So, yeah…that’s happening.

5.  PB&J Breakfast Bowls
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Want to know what my latest obsession is?  Parfait bowls.  Now, I’m not new to breakfast parfaits, but this is a brand new, and SUPER good way to eat them.  And I have the Chobani Cafe in SoHo, NYC, to thank for it.  I eat this every morning after the gym.  And this coming week, with me heading out of town, this is breakfast all week.  Super easy to make:

  • 1 cup yogurt (vegan, Greek, etc.)
  • 1/4 cup grapes, sliced
  • 2 tablespoons natural grape jelly
  • 2 tablespoons peanut butter (I use NuttZo!!) #NuttZoAmbassador #NuttZoFanatic #NuttZoLove #NuttZo
  • 1 tablespoon peanuts

Place yogurt in a bowl.  Scatter grapes over yogurt.  Place the grape jelly in the center.  Place the peanut butter around the edge of the bowl.  Top off with nuts.  Enjoy!

I have done variations on this, using orange marmalade and either Smudge, Nutella, or the NuttZo chocolate versions.  Also strawberry with the chocolate Smudge, Nutella, or NuttZo is also delicious.  Want a healthy but delicious breakfast?  Make this.  You’ll thank me for it!

6.  I HAVE A ROAD BIKE!!
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It finally happened.  After years of talking about it.  And over a year of trying to get one for myself, but always having medical bills (hello, MRIs) to cover instead…the perfect bike finally came into my life.  Someone was selling their road bike that they hardly rode for a really good price.  Way less than what the bike was originally purchased for.  It had been sitting in her storage room.  It came with all the gadgets and gizmos.  And it is BB-8 colors, so it was truly meant to be.  I’m taking it to get fitted properly for me so I don’t do any hip damage or get injured…and then…I’m road ready.  FINALLY!!  I love this bike.  And, yes, I did name it BB-8.

How was your week?  Has the wind in your area been crazy-strong and gusty too?  What fun and exciting things do you have coming up?  Buy anything fun this week?

Product Review: WholeMe Cinnamon Banana Chip Clusters

WholeMe Cinnamon Banana Chip Clusters

WholeMe Cinnamon Banana Chip Clusters

Product: WholeMe Cinnamon Banana Chip Clusters – $7.00

One of the best parts about receiving a monthly subscription box is the products I never would have tried and/or heard of without it.  After Cuisine Cube…I needed a change.  So, I opted to get a subscription to Conscious Box, which has become Bestowed.  I love my little monthly treats and this one is affordable, and often has a blend of samples and full-size products.

I received the April box a few days ago…

And I’ve already delved into it.

This morning, I was prepping for a 6 mile run, and per the instructions of my sports nutritionist, I needed to get some fuel in my body before heading out.  So, I went to the pantry and pulled down a package of one of the products I received a full-size sample of.  It is like a granola (and we all know I love granola) and from a company called WholeMe.

WholeMe was created in 2003 by Krista Steinbach and Mary Kosir, two women who were dedicated to developing nutrient-dense, delicious, convenient foods.  Like so many of us, they were leading busy and chaotic lives.  But one thing they both took into consideration was that food has power over everyone’s daily lives and they really wanted to make eating real food delicious and convenient.  In early 2014, they launched a Kickstarter campaign and raised over $40,000 to begin WholeMe.  Their products offer a real alternative to the preservative-filled, sugar-laden snacks that infiltrate the grocery store, and then inevitably…our pantries.  They like to say, “Real food should have a limited shelf life.  Remember, food is perishable.  ours is.  And that’s why the only preservative we use is the fridge.”

So, thanks to my Bestowed Box, I now was the owner of a package of one of WholeMe’s three variety of clusters.  Their granola clusters are available in Almond Coconut, Lemon Berry Chia, and Cinnamon Banana Chip.  As luck of the draw (or in this case…box) had it, I received the Cinnamon Banana Chip.  And this morning…with 6 miles needed at 3:30 a.m…I needed to get some fuel before heading out.  Without any extra sugars, I thought this might be a nice thing to munch on while I got dressed and ready to stretch and warm up.

I’m not sure what I was expecting, but when I opened it up and reached inside, snagging a few crumbly clusters of the chocolate-y looking snack, I wasn’t expecting to see real banana chips scattered throughout the blend.  I love banana chips.  Always have.  So, yeah, this made me so happy!  The only real chocolate in this, by the way, is the smattering of cocoa nibs inside the mix.  I figured to give it a go, and I popped the handful in my mouth…

…and was immediately hooked.

In fact, I went back for some more and then went and finished getting ready for my run.  It’s sweet, without being overly sweet.  It tastes mostly of banana.  The cinnamon is nice for the flavor, but it doesn’t overwhelm the rest of the product.  In a word…these clusters are freakin’ amazing.  Out of this world.  And GOOD FOR YOU!!  They are soft and have great texture.  Especially if you get a bit with a banana chip in it.  Yummy!  The bits of chocolate add just enough sweetness to keep the flavor interesting.  And everything inside these clusters…is made from real food.  Real food!  I love eating real food.  With a blend of nuts, seeds, natural sweeteners, and an appropriate hit of salt, cinnamon, and maca…this snack blend is a real treat…no guilt.

It is perfect for…as the back of the bag reads:

“What’s in it for Me?  The watch-what-I-eat Me.  The work-out-addict Me.  The grain-free Me.  The paleo Me.  The give-me-something-good-to-eat Me.  The diabetic Me.  The gluten-free Me.  No matter which Me you happen to be, WholeMe is determined to provide genuine, delicious, convenient foods.  Food that makes all of Me (you) happy.”

So, if it’s so good for you, let’s take a look at these natural and real ingredients that go into a package of WholeMe Cinnamon Banana Chip Clusters, shall we?  This granola mix is made from banana chips (bananas, coconut oil), honey, pecans, coconut, almonds, dried bananas, coconut oil, sunflower seeds, pure maple syrup, cocoa nibs, vanilla extract, cinnamon, salt, and maca.  This blend is grain-free, gluten-free, naturally sweetened, paleo, nutrient-dense, preservative-free, soy-free, and non-GMO.  It is all natural goodness, for sure!

So, with that in mind, it’s time to take a look at the nutrition facts for the WholeMe Cinnamon Banana Chip Clusters.  A serving size of the clusters is 1/3 cup (28 grams).  There are 8 servings per package.  A serving will serve you up 133 calories, 10 grams fat, 5 grams saturated fat, 0  grams trans fat, 1 gram polyunsaturated fat, 2 grams monounsaturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 67 mg sodium, 11 grams carbohydrates, 2 grams fiber, 8 grams sugars, and 2 grams protein.  Not too bad for something that you can eat as cereal, by the handful, or as a topping to yogurt or ice cream.  Seriously…options are endless.

I haven’t seen this in stores anywhere in my area, and it looks like it is mostly available in Minnesota (where WholeMe is based out of).  That being said, there is an online store…which I will definitely be hitting up in the near future.  With real food that is really good…why wouldn’t I?  This is right in my wheelhouse…and definitely gave me adequate and perfect fueling for my run.

Product Review: Van’s Gluten Free Banana Nut Granola Clusters

Van's Gluten Free Banana Nut Granola Clusters

Van’s Gluten Free Banana Nut Granola Clusters

Product: Van’s Gluten Free Banana Nut Granola Clusters – $5.99+

One of my favorite, favorite, favorite things to have to eat before heading out to my morning spin class (like 5:30 a.m. start time for class) is something as simple as yogurt, fruit, and a little granola.  It isn’t too heavy to make me feel…BLEH (technical term, yes!)…while spinning out to awesome music and getting my sweat on, but it does give me enough fuel in the tank to not pass out or run out of gas during the workout itself.  And…it’s refreshing…and delicious.

So, when I randomly bought strawberries this past week at the grocery store (they looked good and I really wanted them), I randomly needed to get granola to go with it.  I have an abundance of yogurts (vegan and otherwise) in my fridge for my roomie and I at all times.  But granola…not so much anymore.  I’ve just been trying other breakfast stuff…like Gluten Free NY-Style Bagels and all that.

That being said, this was necessary this week, for sure.  And while out and about on Saturday doing our very random grocery shopping at at least 5 different stores (NO JOKE!), I was on the hunt for a granola that wasn’t too high in sugars and that would pair nicely with strawberries.  I opted for one brand, and then quickly changed my mind when I spotted the Van’s Foods granola in the gluten-free section of said store.

I’ve only had one other version of the Van’s Gluten Free Granola Clusters, but what I loved about it was the soft and chewy nature of it.  So, back went the original brand I had scooped up…hello to one of the newest additions to the Van’s Gluten Free Granola Clusters lineup.  The flavor…Banana Nut.

I am a runner…a marathon runner.  This means I have this special place in my heart for banana.  Banana bread (gluten-free of course), banana cookies, bananas with peanut butter, banana chips…and yes…straight up banana.  Banana is my pre-long run eats.  So, anything banana makes me one happy girl.  No question about it…I wanted to try this granola.

And I have been totally devouring it and enjoying it all weekend.  Like the other granola clusters that they sell, Van’s Gluten Free Banana Nut Granola Clusters are…really more one large mass of granola, rather than individual clusters.  But that’s fine.  The massive chunk of granola does break apart easily, making for easy sprinkling over yogurt or whatever.  It also makes for good pinching material for stealing snacks between meals, before eating, or just…because.  I love the soft and chewy texture of this granola, because while I do love granola with a crunch, this texture just pairs well with…everything.  And I can eat it quietly and not feel like I might wake up my roommate simply by chewing.  What I do love about this granola is how the banana flavoring doesn’t overwhelm or overpower the actual granola itself.  This makes it perfect for pairing with anything…oatmeal, yogurt, fruit, smoothies, ice cream, etc.  Oh yeah…it’s amazing.  There are bits of nuts included in the clusters as well.  It’s a delicious way to start your day…or end your day…or to have throughout the day.  And I don’t feel bad about snacking on this…because Van’s takes pride in the ingredients they use and the nutritional worth of their products.  It’s a win either way.  Definitely a win when banana is involved.

So, let’s take a look at the ingredients that are used in put together the Van’s Gluten Free Banana Nut Granola Clusters, shall we?  As I stated, Van’s uses ingredients that they are proud of.  For this variety of their Granola Clusters, Van’s includes gluten free whole oats, brown rice syrup, invert cane syrup, cane sugar, non-GMO expeller pressed canola oil, unsweetened coconut, pecans, honey, flax seed, gluten free oat bran, almonds, natural flavors, salt, walnuts, vitamin E tocopherols (for freshness).  Gluten-free, vegan, and made with whole grains.  Gotta love that.

Now let’s look at the nutritional information of the Van’s Gluten Free Banana Nut Granola Clusters.  A serving of this granola is 1/3 cup (30 grams).  This serving will provide you with 120 calories, 5 grams fat, 1 gram saturated fat, 0 grams trans fat, 1 gram polyunsaturated fat, 1.5 grams monounsaturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 25 mg sodium, 19 grams carbohydrates, 2 grams fiber, 6 grams sugars, and 2 grams protein.  Deliciously well-rounded, balanced, and not too bad on the nutrition.  I like that this brand keeps added sugar levels low.  Some granola has double digit sugars in a serving.

Van’s Gluten Free products have always impressed me and been amazing.  I love the soft and chewy texture of their granola clusters.  And the Van’s Gluten Free Banana Nut Clusters is definitely a new favorite.  This package is almost empty…so I think another trek out to purchase more is a must.

If you haven’t tried Van’s Gluten Free Granola Clusters…make a point to do so.  It will change your granola-loving mind forever!!

 

Product Review: McCabe’s True Original Granola

McCabe's True Original Granola

McCabe’s True Original Granola

Product: McCabe’s True Original Granola – $5.49+

One of my favorite things to purchase at the grocery store on occasion is…granola. Especially granola that isn’t loaded down with sugar.  Granola is so versatile.  You can eat it on its own, put it atop yogurt, or ice cream, or oatmeal.  It’s the perfect thing just to have on hand in the pantry.

And for a little while…I was without.  But then my local Kroger ran a Manager’s Special on some items and one of them was McCabe’s Original Granola.  With $3 off the regular price, I couldn’t pass up the chance to try this granola I had been eyeing on the shelves.

I admit to being a bit of a granola snob.  Most gluten free granola is laden with excessive sugars and are far from healthy.  But McCabe’s caught my eye because all ingredients are recognizable (no chemicals), and it was low in sugars and carbohydrates.  It took me a major sale to actually buy it though because I never could fit it into my budget.  But…now I think it’s worked its way into one of my favorite brands.  And this is simply based off the True Original variety.  Because, you gotta start with the basic.

McCabe’s Granola is a family owned business, run by Susan (mom), Chris (dad) and their sons Jameson and Michael.  Their goal is to provide you with the healthiest, most flavorful granola and granola bars possible.  They take great pride in their products and their family, and the products they produce definitely reflect this.

I purchased the McCabe’s True Original Granola.  Basic.  Simple.

But basic and simple doesn’t mean boring.  Especially in the McCabe’s True Original Granola.  I have eaten this over fruit, over yogurt, by the handful…and I never get tired or bored with it.  For a granola that isn’t just a bunch of sugar…the flavor is awesome.  This granola is proof that original isn’t simply plain.  Becasue there is nothing plain or tasteless or boring about this granola.  The bag refers to it as “The freshest, most natural, nuttiest granola in town,” and it’s not that far off.  It’s low in sugar, it’s made with natural (non-GMO) ingredients, it’s gluten free.  It’s awesome.  The blend of oats, seeds, raisins, and coconut bring great variety for texture and taste.  I love every handful (oh yes…I can (and do) eat this by the handful) of this granola.  My pouch is almost empty, but now I’m willing to pay the full price.  I know whatever flavor I end up purchasing, it’s going to be good.

McCabe’s True Original Granola is made from 100% natural ingredients that include: rolled oats, 100% pure maple syrup, sunflower seeds, cashews, ground flax seeds, raisins, pumpkin seeds, extra virgin olive oil, almonds, and unsweetened coconuts.  Seriously, how can a blend of those ingredients not be amazing.  It’s impossible.  This blend of granola is amazing.  The raisins are my favorite part…

As far as nutritional information goes, McCabe’s True Original Granola is awesome when compared to other gluten-free granola is outstanding.  A serving size is 1/4 cup (28 grams) and there are about 12 servings per container.  One serving will dish up 130 calories, 8 grams fat, 1.5 grams saturated fats, 0 grans trans fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 0 mg sodium, 13 grams carbohydrates, 2 grams fiber, 4 grams sugars, and 4 grams protein.

Lower in calories, sugars and carbohydrates when compared to other brands of gluten-free granola, McCabe’s really shines as a healthy granola choice.  I can eat granola for breakfast or a snack, and I don’t feel at all guilty when I reach for this package.  McCabe’s is certainly fulfilling their statement to provide a healthy and flavorful product.  I am beyond impressed.

McCabe’s Granola is available in the following flavors: True Original, Delta Blueberry, Cran With A Twist, and PB & Chocolate.  If you want a great choice for granola…this is definitely one that you should consider purchasing.  For real.  So go.  Find it.  Buy it.  And devour it.

Product Review: Good! Greens Pumpkin Spice Yogurt Bar

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Good! Greens Pumpkin Spice Yogurt Bar

Product: Good! Greens Pumpkin Spice Yogurt Bar – $2.49+

I am not going to lie.  I’m never without a protein bar of some sort.  When you have food allergies, it is always best to be prepared.  And, sometimes I get a little daring and try new things.  New brands can be a scary thing.  Sometimes you don’t know what you’re getting yourself into.

On a recent trip up to Columbus, Ohio, I was (shockingly) shopping at Raisin Rack and raiding all the gluten free stuff.  Seriously.  This is what I do.  Upon reaching the checkout, I spotted, in their line up of protein bars (there are few candy bars at their checkouts…mostly energy bars/protein bars)…something marked gluten-free…and the words…PUMPKIN SPICE printed on it.

So, I picked it up…flipped it over…looked it over…and put it back.  Cathy (the roomie) spotted this and reached over, snagged it, and put it up on the belt for checkout.  Guess I was going to get to try it after all.  The bar was Good! Greens Pumpkin Spice Yogurt Bar.

It came home with me, and due to a lack of preparation, I had nothing to nosh on after my swim this morning at the gym, so I tossed the Good! Greens Pumpkin Spice Yogurt Bar into my bag, went for my swim, and then came into work.

Good! Greens has a goal, which is to help everyone be their best good.  What is good?  Good is a mindset that drives everything we do and make.  For Good! Greens, it’s all about good ingredients, good practices and good community.  Good is what we eat, how we care for ourselves, and how we care for others.  And Good! Greens uses a formula in all of their bars that uses 100% fruits and vegetables, providing an excellent source of vitamins, antioxidants, and a clinically proven probiotic for digestive and immune health.  It’s a power bar that gives you everything your body needs…without all the filler.

I had a few doubts, to be honest.  Upon opening the wrapper, I pulled out this little bar that was coated in this white confectionery coating.  I broke it in half, noting the Lärabar-like middle.  I took a taste…and was actually impressed.  The texture was a bit chewy and hard, but I think some of that was from sitting in the cold car while I was swimming at the gym.  But the flavor was great.  The pumpkin flavor was just enough…not overpowering.  And that coating…amazing.  It really made it feel more like a dessert than a protein bar.  It even filled me up.  I ended up being surprised by this bar.  Not my favorite…but not bad.  It was a nice surprise and one that makes me even more curious about their other flavors of bars.

Let’s talk about the ingredients that go into the Good! Greens Pumpkin Spice Yogurt Bar!  This bar is made from fruitrim (natural fruit juices and grain dextrin), sunflower seed butter (sunflower kernels, sunflower oil, soybean oil, molasses, salt), dairy free confectionery coating (evaporated cane juice, palm kernel oil, soymilk powder, soy lecithin [emulsifier], vanilla), brown rice protein, good greens superfood powder, agave syrup, gluten free oats, soy protein crisps, chicory root fiber, natural pumpkin flavor, peanut paste (peanuts, salt).  This bar is vegan, gluten free, contains probiotics, and is made from real fruits and vegetables.

As for nutritional information, this actually stacks up really nice for a protein bar.  A serving of the Good! Greens Pumpkin Spice Yogurt Bar is the entire bar.  This bar will deliver 189 calories, 8 grams fat, 2 grams saturated fat, 0 grams trans fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 100 mg sodium, 19 grams carbohydrates, 5 grams fiber, 14 grams sugar, and 10 grams of protein.  It is a nutritional powerhouse, for sure!

These days, I’m searching for better foods with less processed ingredients that are more real than fake.  Good! Greens Pumpkin Spice Yogurt Bar definitely fit that demand.  I was quite happy with this bar.  It was a nice change from my usual suspects.

 

Product Review: Freedom Foods Fruity Rainbow Rocks

Freedom Foods Fruity Rainbow Rocks

Freedom Foods Fruity Rainbow Rocks

Product: Freedom Foods Fruity Rainbow Rocks – $2.99+

I will be the first person to admit that in the past couple of months, I fell off of the cereal train.  I did.  Don’t get me wrong…I absolutely love cereal…but I was just in a rut and really just needed something different in the morning.  I went to fruit and yogurt and enjoyed it well enough and was content with it.

Until I went to the Gluten Free Food Allergy Fest in Indianapolis, Indiana back on October 24, 2015.  My mom, also a Celiac, came up from Birmingham, Alabama, with my dad and we all went together to scope out the expo.  Trust me, I do this event every year that it has been in Indianapolis…and I love it.  Freebies, samples, and local products/businesses all come out and reel me in.  I won’t lie…I walk out of there broke…but it’s worth it in the end.  I have never regretted a moment.

Now, one of the booths I have started to look for each year belongs to Freedom Foods.  Why?  Well…I’m getting to that.

Freedom Foods makes a variety of products, although only a few items are available in the United States at the moment…and most of these include cereals, which, for the record, are made in a dedicated and specially built allergen-free facility in the Riverina region of New South Wales, in Australia.  As Freedom Foods was specifically developed to make allergen-free foods, they test every batch made in their facilities, to the most stringent levels possible, leaving no doubt that the Freedom Foods products you pick up will be free of the allergens that are necessary to avoid.

LOVE THAT!

Because we live in a world where it’s not enough to just be health conscious.  Now we have to be allergen conscious too.  With the growing number of food allergies and intolerances, it is nice to find a company that really proves that it is dedicated to creating products that are safe to consume.  Freedom Foods has been around for over 20 years, making great-tasting and nutritious allergen-free food.  I can attest to this, as I am a huge fan of the products I have had from them thus far.  All of their products adhere to the strict guidelines laid out by Australia’s food industry, meaning all their products are non-GMO.  They even test for GMOs just to make sure.

One of my favorite products, mind you, is the Tropico’s cereal, which is a gluten-free version of Froot Loops, but made without artificial colors, ingredients, partially hydrogenated crap…you know…all that bad stuff that Kellogg’s puts into their cereals and people consume freely.  I am a cereal girl.  I start most of my mornings with a small bowl.  A serving.  And yes…I do measure.  You knew that already though, right?

So, imagine how my mind was blown when I found the booth at the GFFAF and saw that they had a new fruity cereal out.  Like…brand new this year.  It’s the Freedom Foods Fruity Rainbow Rocks (think Fruity Pebbles).  They gave me a little cup to sample and it won me over wholeheartedly.  It was like…little flakes of everything I love about Tropico’s.  Well, I might even prefer them to the Tropico’s…which, naturally would happen, since I haven’t seen the Freedom Foods Fruity Rainbow Rocks anywhere outside of the GFFAF that day.  I purchased two boxes.  I should have bought them out, HA!

I almost didn’t want to pop open a box so soon, but with the cereal that brought me back into cereal now completely consumed (that would be the Trader Joe’s Gluten Free Pumpkin O’s, for the record), I needed something else this morning.  Yes…this very morning.  Before heading to the gym for my 5:30 a.m. spin class…I needed some fuel.  And with two boxes staring at me from the pantry…I grabbed one and tore it open, measuring out a serving (1 cup), topping it with some unsweetened cashew milk, and then devouring it while standing right there at the counter in my kitchen.

It really is that amazing and that good.  This cereal is everything all rolled up into one healthier package than average regular and gluten-free cereals out on the market.  And, because of the fruity flavors, I don’t feel like I’m missing out on my cut fruit and yogurt.  Honestly, this cereal amazed me.  The little flakes of fruity goodness get a little soft in the milk, but it only helps to emphasize the flavor.  And, when your cereal is made with real ingredients, not fillers and artificial bad stuff, well, I give it a pass on how long it swims around in a pool of cashew milk before getting soft.  It didn’t bother me, as I was standing in my cycling clothes, hunched over my Eeyore cereal bowl, just shoveling this stuff into my face.  Food is fuel.  Real food is the best kind of fuel.

If you like fruity cereals…low in sugar…big in flavor, then Freedom Foods Fruity Rainbow Rocks is the cereal for you.  Who knows, you might even find yourself hunched over a bowl in your kitchen.

Let’s talk about what goes into Freedom Foods Fruity Rainbow Rocks, shall we?  This cereal is made from a gluten free flour mix (rice flour, yellow corn flour), sugar, resistant dextrin, psyllium husk, paprika oleoresin color, carrot oil color, sweet potato color, turmeric oleoresin color, tricalcium phosphate, salt, sunflower lecithin, and natural flavor.  It is free from gluten, nuts, wheat, dairy, eggs, soy and sesame.  Freedom Foods believes that the less salt you eat, the healthier you are, so they only put in a pinch of salt in this cereal.  This cereal also contains a natural, grain-based prebiotic that help to nourish the good bacteria in our digestive tracts which…helps with good digestion and overall health.  This is a simple cereal that is doing really amazing and big things for your body and your health.  And that’s why I love this brand so much!

As for nutritional information, hold onto your gluten-free knickers, my friends.  Freedom Foods Fruity Rainbow Rocks is a healthier take on cereal, and that’s evident in the nutritional facts.  A serving of Freedom Foods Fruity Rainbow Rocks is 1 cup.  This serving will give you 180 calories, 1 gram fat, 0 gram saturated fat, 0 grams trans fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 75 mg sodium, 36 grams carbohydrates, 5 grams fiber, 7 grams sugars, and 3 grams protein.  For being little flakes of fruit flavor, these can actually feel and be quite filling thanks to that fiber and protein. Fruity Pebbles has 0 grams of fiber and 1 gram of protein, if that tells you anything.  What a difference real ingredients and no artificial…anything makes!

There is a lot to love about Freedom Foods.  They set a high standard for themselves and aim to create delicious food that is free from the “stuff” that your body doesn’t need— gluten, nuts, wheat, dairy, eggs, fructose, soy, yeast, GMO’s, and artificial flavors. Here you have a truly allergy friendly cereal.  YAY!  Not only this, but all the products from Freedom Foods focus not only on allergen-free safety, but, better nutrition and taste.  They use clean and recognizable ingredients so you won’t feel guilty noshing on a serving.

Come on, what’s not to love.  So, whether you are a kid at heart or just love fun cereals in the morning, I encourage you to seek out, or even order, Freedom Foods.  Your body will thank you for it!

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

Product Review: Tina’s Sweet Treats Banana Bread Granola

Tina's Sweet Treats Banana Bread Granola

Tina’s Sweet Treats Banana Bread Granola

Product: Tina’s Sweet Treats Banana Bread Granola – $2.99+

One of the best things to ever come from my birthday expedition to Jungle Jim’s International Market (FOODIE HEAVEN!) was discovery local (to Ohio…not to me) bakeries through the products they had on display and for sale at Jungle Jim’s.  I love purchasing these items over everything else, because, well…I LOVE supporting local businesses.

So, one of the products I snagged from the end cap of gluten-free local bakery goodies at the market was this amazing sounding granola from a place called Tina’s Sweet Treats, based out of Franklin, Ohio.

Tina’s Sweet Treats came about after six (6) members of her family were diagnosed with Celiac.  She went from casually baking gluten-free to full-blown.  And, as with most people, wanting to make sure that her fmaily didn’t miss out on any of the wonderful baked goods that they loved, Tina worked hard to create products that won’t lack in flavor, taste, or make her family members feel like they were missing out on something amazing.  Everything from Tina’s Sweet Treats is baked fresh from their home kitchen, which is completely free of contamination!

I love it when I can also get a product and feel 100% secure that it won’t make me sick.  When something is produced where contamination will not even come into question, I never have to play roulette with my body.  And for that, I am thankful!

Jungle Jim’s had a few options from Tina’s Sweet Treats…but the one that really caught my eye…mostly because I don’t see a lot of this from local bakeries…was the granola.  But not just any granola.  Probably what may be considered the most epic of all granola.

Banana Bread Granola.

You had my full attention with all three of those words.  Into the basket…into the shopping bag…into the car…into my pantry.

And it didn’t last long.  This past weekend, I was baking and cooking up a storm, and my lunch was something quick and easy on Saturday.  I had a soccer match to get to and I needed to make some Gluten Free and Vegan Snickerdoodle Blondies and some Dairy Free Pumpkin Ice Cream before heading out to the big playoff match for Louisville City FC.  Thus…lunch became a yogurt with granola on top.  I remembered I had the granola…and being that it is made by a bakery, no preservatives are added and therefore, it is best when used by the sell-by date.  This would certainly accomplish that.  So, after palming a handful to taste on its own (OH MY GOD YUM!), I poured some on a yogurt for my roommate and some on mine.  It was a simple, yet delicious addition to already delicious yogurts, let me tell you.

What I love, first and foremost, is that toasty flavor you get with homemade granola.  Top it off with that aroma and the taste of fresh banana bread, and you’re talking about a winning combination.  And that is exactly what Tina’s Sweet Treats accomplishes with this gluten free Banana Bread Granola.  It was the perfect topper and stir-in for my vegan yogurt, and acted as a bit of a “sundae” topper for Cathy’s Banana Greek Yogurt with a Chocolate Topping.  It was, without a doubt, a way to kick up the yogurt lunch a notch.  And, the added crunch was that bonus that sometimes yogurt lacks.

I wish I lived closer to Tina’s Sweet Treats.  I’d purchase this every week.  Probably multiple times.

The Tina’s Sweet Treats Banana Bread Granola is made from rice flour, potato starch, millet flour, tapioca flour, sweet rice flour, sugar, apples, milk, butter (cream, natural flavorings), eggs, brown sugar (white sugar, molasses) sour cream, baking powder (corn starch, sodium bicarbonate, sodium aluminum sulfate, monocalcium phosphate), vanilla (water, alcohol, vanilla bean), xanthan gum, baking soda (sodium bicarbonate), and salt.

Since this is made out of a home and sold by a local bakery, I don’t have any of the nutritional information.  But…as with all granola out there, stick to a serving (usually around 28 grams), and don’t go overboard.  It’s all good.  Enjoy a sweet treat (see what I did there?) every now and again.

Love at first banana bread-y bite.  Seriously, if you are a lover of banana and banana bread, Tina’s Sweet Treats has you covered with this granola.  I only wish they had it online to order.  Just…pure goodness and pure wow any way you want to eat it.  Personally, by the handful is the way I recommend. HA!