Product Review: The Gluten Free Bar

We all know how hard it is to find a protein or meal bar that meets all expectations – I myself usually end up eating a protein bar with dairy because there aren’t other options. The folks at the Gluten Free Bar were kind enough to send me some samples to try – and I’m always happy to try samples!

They sent me three flavors: peanut butter, peanut butter chocolate, and cranberry almond. That stats for these bars are quite impressive: vegan, dairy-free, gluten-free, with 12 grams of protein. They’re also a decent size, which is important. Usually bars like this are “raw-” in other words, made mostly of nuts and dried fruit, which makes them very high in calories (sometime upwards of 400 cals/bar).

If I compare them to the bar I normally eat in the morning at work (some form of this) they stack up pretty well, though clearly they don’t have as high amounts of protein and fiber. They do however have less saturated fat, sodium, and carbohydrates.

However, the big difference here is the ingredients: the gf bar is dairy-free. This is huge – it is extremely different to find a protein bar that doesn’t use dairy. I can tolerate small levels of dairy, but there are days when I just can’t add any extra irritants into my system (don’t we all have those days). They’re also quite tasty, with a texture that falls somewhere between a lara bar and a power bar. The bars are chewy and slightly-sweet – the peanut butter chocolate and the peanut butter are the best flavors. What I also liked was that they were rolled out into a large, thin squares which took longer to eat than the typical bar-size. They kept me full till lunch, and no stomach ache!

The only con: they aren’t available in any stores in the bay area yet, so you have to buy them online, and they are a little expensive – about $28 for a box of 12. I imagine if you find them in stores they will cost you more. But if you have the means, definitely check them out.

In all, a strong A.

Buy them here

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Product Review: That’s It Bars


That’s It Bars are pretty new to the market, but they are also pretty awesome in their simplicity. They only have two ingredients: apple and whatever other fruit is on the package (apricot, pear, and cherry). They all have around 100 calories and 3g of fiber. They’re also gluten-free, vegan, and kosher.

What I like about these especially is that they’re like those fruit leather strips I love, but not so compacted, so they make for an actually-filling snack. They;re also pretty big for 100 calories. They remind me a bit of lara bars, which I love but are sometimes too high in cals for the amount you get, but without the nuts.

Just a little photoshop fun 🙂

My favorite so far is the apricot; oddly my least favorite is the cherry, which is interesting because dried cherries and I have a relationship. Perhaps it’s because they aren’t suing sour dried cherries, which are by far much tastier (lara uses them in their cherry pie bars). I’ve never had dried pears before, but the flavor is growing on me.

I’ve been taking these to work with me and eating them during my evening commute; they do a nice job of tiding me over till dinner. I also found that they make a good pre-workout snack that give you energy without side-aches; I think it’s probably due to the sugar/carbs from the fruit.


Someone kept sneaking into my photos…

So give these guys a try. [psst: if you want to order them try amazon because it’s almost always cheaper than grocery stores, and click the box below :^) ]

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Life Update and a Product Review: Enjoy Life Crunchy Cookies

Oh, I am a bit behind here. It seems that, in life, you are either behind in work/things that need to be done, or behind in everything else. I think this falls into the “everything else” category. My apologies. As some of you may know, I finished grad school in May and since I started working full-time (real-job time!) I haven’t had much time to write.

Also, in an effort to um, er, downsize, I have enacted a moratorium on baked goods, excepting those on Thanksgiving and Christmas (upon which there will be baked goods. I’m very excited to show you them). I did manage to sneak some pumpkin bread in there but I figure, if it’s made in the bread machine it can’t be all bad. And pumpkin is oh so good for you.

And since I didn’t technically bake these cookies I’m about to review, they don’t count – yep, I’m pretty sure they don’t. Plus, they were sent to me gratis, and therefore can’t be wasted.

So for the stats: these cookies come in four varieties: double chocolate, chocolate chip, vanilla honey graham, and sugar shortbread. They are indeed lightly crispy, and quite large for the typical boxed-cookies, which makes me happy, at about 100-120 calories a pop for two.They are free of all the allergens, as Enjoy Life products are.

(Tip: if you like your cookies less-crispy, open the box and come back in a few days; they will soften up a little)

These make a lovely snack, dessert, coffee-partner. I just tried the sugar version yesterday and even though the chocolate ones are very good, I think the big sugar crystals on these won me over. (Very bad tasty with Nutella.)

However, with the holidays coming up, I am confident that these cookies would be a great ingredient in recipes that call for a cookie crust/cookie crumbs, etc.  Their texture is very well suited for grinding, and firm enough to stand up in baking.

Another related tangent that I need to share: my grandma makes the best rum balls. Ever. In all creation. Every year she makes a whole batch of them and then they sit out in a big tin on the counter, getting better each day, as rum balls do. Since her house is about 10 feet from mine, I used to furtively sneak into the kitchen – when people were conveniently elsewhere – and shove a couple in my pocket for good measure.

If you aren’t familiar, they are basically crushed Nilla wafers, rum, powdered sugar, and walnuts. They are German, as am I. Many recipes call for cocoa powder, but I think they’re better without it. No need for baking, which keeps the alcohol…intact. They are amazing little spicy balls of cookie dough, and of course off-limits to me now.

As yet I haven’t tried to recreate them gluten-free, but this year I really want to. And I think I might have to try it with the vanilla honey graham version here.

Has anyone tried to make some sort of unbaked cookie with gf cookie crumbs? Let me know!

One week till Thanksgiving!

Product Review: Enjoy Life Semi-Sweet Chocolate Mega Chunks

1 Last week I received some goodies from the generous folks at Enjoy Life, among them were their new Semi-Sweet Chocolate Mega Chunks. Enjoy Life is a great company for those of us with food sensitivities and especially allergies, as they source ingredients that are completely gluten, dairy, nut, and soy free!

In the past I’ve used other brands of semi-sweet chips in baking, but I realize that people with Celiac’s have to be very careful about which brands they choose; even though they may not have gluten ingredients the company may use gluten on their equipment or even consider trace amounts inconsequential (and we don’t!). But with Enjoy Life you can be sure their products are free from gluten and the major allergens.

But we all know what matters is taste and performance! Here’s how the Mega Chunks stack up.

2 Inside the bag you will find big pieces of semi-sweet chocolate – no chips, though Enjoy Life does make a regular-shaped chip – that are great in baked goods or for snacking. I decided to try them in a meringue recipe I tested (found here) and they did very well – I’m not posting the full recipe here because I chose to make meringues on a humid day, so they didn’t come out quite right. (Oh, but they were goood out of the oven, like warm, gooey, chocolatey marshmallows.)

3 I did have to chop up the chunks a bit, as some of them are rather large, but they baked well, and actually the taste and texture was improved by baking. The larger size would be well-suited to chocolate chip cookies, though. The chunks stayed chewy after the cookies cooled, and were sweet without being overpowering. Their texture when melted is also very pleasing, and I imagine they would be great for dipping, decorating, etc.

Overall, I would recommend the Enjoy Life Semi-Sweet Chocolate Mega Chunks to anyone who is concerned about allergens or gluten; they are proof that safely-made products are equal to their competitors in performance, and allow consumers to have confidence in the integrity of their ingredients!

Spotted: Gluten-Free Goodies at The Coffee Bean

314677_10100521913353283_3205146_57482142_1760422078_nLook, no fog!

Today was a very warm day in Sonoma county; so warm, in fact, that it was over 80 degrees in San Francisco. This, my friends, is rare.

But do you know what is also rare? Finding a gluten-free baked good at your regular coffee joint. How does this hot weather relate to this rarity, you ask? Business called me to the city today, and around 11am I was walking down Fillmore – which, if you didn’t know, has basically every coffee chain within a one-block perimeter. And as my boyfriend led us into Noah’s Bagels to pick up a toasty number for himself (lucky bastard), I fond myself sitting at a back-table, feeling rather glum; I was tired and a bit cranky, or in other words, feeling the need for some bagel love. Sadly, there is no gluten-free bagel love to be found at Noah’s.

imageBut there is hope: As we walked out of the cafe, I instinctively ducked into the adjacent coffee place, The Coffee Bean, to admire their case of pastries. And what did I find? In the upper left-hand corner, a gluten-free cinnamon bun. (!)

Now, wheat-eating folks cannot know the joy of this find. Too often are the gluten-free forced to look longingly at treats while we drink our coffee a la nothing. Even though we shouldn’t be eating those muffins and scones all the time (I favored the maple variety at Starbucks myself) sometimes you just need a freakin slice of coffee cake.

Anyway, a small victory, but it made my morning, so I’d just like to say thank you to The Coffee Bean, and thank you to whoever made the decision to stock those buns.

Of course, in a pinch, you can always tote one of these!

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A Tasty Thursday!

I have the habit of repeating food; once I find something I like I tend to eat it over and over until I get sick of it. Apparently doctors say this isn’t a good habit to have, since you may restrict your nutrients, but like many people I have my food-moods.

Example: for the past few months I have been on a salad kick, and before that I hadn’t made a salad at home in quite awhile. This particular salad was made without lettuce, since bagged lettuce usually has “taste” and I’m too lazy to wash my own lettuce – it always goes bad, what can I say? Instead I used cucumbers, carrots, green onions, and sometimes a bell pepper, dressed with a mixture of Bragg’s aminos, olive oil, and apple cider vinegar. (If you haven’t tired Bragg’s yet, do! It’s a great GF alternative to soy sauce and makes a great seasoning.)

But recently I’ve eaten some tasty things, and I thought I’d share some of my new favorites!

Trader Joe’s Hummus Salad Dressing

The past couple dressings I’ve tried have been complete losses, so color me happy to find this fantastic hummus dressing! It’s like the better version of thick hummus because it can go on salads and still work as a dip, with less chance of me eating the whole container in one sitting.

Amy’s Gluten-Free Lasagna

I was always a fan of Amy’s Dairy-Free Lasagna, but how happy am I they have a GF version now?! I stumbled upon this on a rare trip to Safeway (normally they have a very poor selection of GF foods), and I discovered they carry a large selection of Amy’s meals that are a little cheaper than my usual store. Who knew? And hey, it’s pretty good, and only 290 calories. Win.

Yoplait Go-Gurt

I know what you’re probably shaking your head at this, because Yoplait’s prime advertising directive (very “Borg” of them) is to encourage moms to put this in their kid’s lunch. But seriously folks, freeze them. It is the only way to ever get store-bought yogurt to turn into something resembling frozen yogurt from an ice-cream shop. Putting a whole 6 oz container in the freezer gives you a dairy rock; freezing a Go-Gurt tube makes for creamy, tasty frozen yogurt. Plus, it’s cheap and comes in kooky flavors.

Fresh Summer Fruit

The view inside my fruit cup

Ok, so this isn’t a “new” find, but this is the time for fruit. And this morning I had just about the best fruit cup I’ve ever had with actual fruit in it – you know, other than melon and half a strawberry. Plus my yard is on blackberry overload – no complaints here!

Salmon and Jicama Salad with Honey-Mustard Vinaigrette

Usually my school/work has rather limited food options, but their summer grill menu is quite lovely, and made outside to boot.  Fresh grilled salmon with almonds and honey-mustard? Good. Jicama? Good. Dressing? Good. Overall, Fantastic.

So, in the words of one of my Facebook friends, “Knock off this whole, ‘Make me jealous with food’ business.” Sorry folks, but sometimes I feel obligated to show how a gluten-free diet is anything but dull!

Review: Udi’s Hamburger Buns + One Delicious Sandwich!

aThanks to the lovely folks over at Udi’s I received a box with some free goodies last week, and I’ve been seriously enjoying them!

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I’ll be reviewing all three products they sent me, but for this post, I’m taking on their whole-grain hamburger buns.

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So let’s get started. These are the first gluten-free hamburger buns I’ve tried, and I must say, they remind me very much of a wheat version; they’re chewy, dense, and great when toasted.

Here is the nutritional break-down (per bun):

  • Ingredients: View entire list at this link. Gluten and Dairy-Free, but contains eggs (not vegan)
  • Calories: 180
  • Fat: 5g (no saturated/trans fat)
  • Cholesterol: 0g
  • Sodium 290mg
  • Carbohydrates: 32g
  • Fiber: 6g
  • Sugars: 4g
  • Protein: 5g

11 So really, the calorie count is lower than some buns I’ve seen, they’re low in sugar, with no “bad” fats and a nice dose of fiber.

The only hold-back might be that they are a bit smaller than the buns we see on a typical restaurant-style bun, so that huge grilled burger might not fit too well – but you probably shouldn’t be eating that much meat anyway, right? 😉

Taste and texture-wise, these are also pretty awesome. They hold up well to wet ingredients, and taste best toasted. There’s a strong whole-grain flavor and a hint of sweetness, which I like in my bread, personally.

Bottom line: These buns will make a great addition to your summer gluten-free diet. I’d recommend buying a pack and keeping them in the freezer so you can bring them along to those gluten-filled barbeques. And there’s no shame in toasting them up and eating them with breakfast either; I’ve been known to treat these guys like a (much-healthier) breakfast bagel. Or you could make your own egg-sandwich – go crazy 🙂d

Or you could try my new favorite (vegetarian) sandwich, pictured above, made with hummus, black pepper, and some veggies (sliced cucumbers, orange bell pepper, and tomato) on a toasted Udi’s bun. Super-healthy (the hummus I used came in a portioned, 60-calorie container) and tastes fresh like summer.  Highly recommended! 🙂

Also: when I was looking online for these, there was some concern there that there might be some kind of recall going on. However, it looks like this is not a contamination issue, but a supply one. Udi’s has stated that the buns did go out of stock, but they will be sending new shipments out soon.

If you’d like to buy these, check out the Udi’s website for a coupon, and consider ordering online; the prices seem to be lower than my local store, and the bread I received from them tasted super-fresh, and hadn’t been frozen yet.

Hey Rudi’s: Thanks for Featuring Me!

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It’s awesome to see my review posted on the product’s Facebook page!

On another note: It’s going to be HOT today in Sonoma County. Thank your stars that popsicles and frozen yogurt are gluten-free!

Product Review: Rudi’s Gluten-Free Bread

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Guess what, my gluten-free friends; there’s a new bread in town!  image

If you’ve read my previous posts about GF bread, you may remember that I was super-excited to find Udi’s – not to be confused with Rudi’s – but there is another option on the scene!

So, let’s review… (and read on for a coupon!)

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In Praise of a Sandwich: Some gluten free restaurants in Sonoma County

I don’t know about you, but when I find out that a great restaurant has gluten-free options, I get a little excited. Especially when those options aren’t just the omission of gluten, but the substitution.

And I’ve been noticing lately that more and more restaurants are offering items like gluten-free bread, pastries, and even soy sauce. So for my fellow residents of Sonoma County, here are a couple places we all can enjoy! (Note: these places do serve gluten-products, so for those who are sensitive to traces or who have Celiacs, take usual caution.)

Jennie Low’s Chinese Cuisine, Petaluma

http://www.jennielow.com/

image Photo Source

The only local Chinese restaurant I’ve found that will make basically any dish with GF soy sauce, and I swear you can’t tell the difference. They will also steam or stir-fry dishes without oil, which makes it healthy!

Aqus Cafe, Petaluma

http://www.aquscafe.com/main/index.php

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They offer GF bread with any order, and also have pretty awesome vegetarian and vegan options. And dude, look at this Turkey Club (thick bacon.)

Redwood Cafe, Cotati

www.redwoodcafecotati.com/

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I’ve been going to this place for over 20 years, and it’s a great, casual staple for all-day eating. They have GF options and have recently started offering GF bread! Burger, anyone?

Sift Cupcake and Dessert Bar, Rohnert Park, Santa Rosa, Napa

www.siftcupcakes.com

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The ladies here recently won Food Network’s Cupcake Wars, which means: it’s gooood. On Wednesdays they have GF “make your own” cupcakes where you can choose the cake and the icing flavor, and they carry macaroons every day, which are always GF. And unlike some GF cupcakes I’ve had, they aren’t overly-dense; they have a nice, light texture.

Avatars Punjabi Burritos, Petaluma, Mill Valley

www.enjoyavatars.com

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What I love about these folks? They will customize your meal to be GF, Dairy-free, vegan, whatever – and they enjoy doing so!

Slice of Life, Sebastopol

thesliceoflife.com

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Continually voted best natural food, vegan, vegetarian restaurant in the Bay area, Slice of Life has many GF options. Though they don’t offer GF bread or pasta (why not, I’m not sure) they have simple dishes like brown rice and vegetables, and also make pizza with a GF cornmeal crust. They have great salads and Fat-Free French fries. Yum.

Velasco’s Mexican Restaurant, Petaluma

www.velascosrestaurant.com

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This is one of my favorite Mexican places in town; it’s not expensive, has amazing chips and salsa, and many GF dishes. I love their grilled white fish, fish tacos, and flank steak. They put this little cabbage salad as a garnish, which is super tasty.

So it’s safe to say that there are many GF dining options out there.

Do you have a favorite GF restaurant or bakery in the Bay area? Let me know!

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