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Category Archives: Did You Know?

Did You Know? Udi’s Bread

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I don’t buy many pre-made gluten free items when it comes to baked goods. Very soon after going gluten free I started baking my own bread and baked goods because the few things I did buy from the store, I didn’t think were very good. I really knew the store bought bread and baked goods weren’t going to cut it for me when I sunk my tastebuds into some homemade goodies and went “Ah! So this is what GOOD gluten free tastes like! Whew!”

Since starting to bake gluten free, I’ve just been sticking to whatever I can get baked and going without whenever I haven’t had the time. It wasn’t until I was visiting my Mom’s house for the day that I tried Udi’s bread for the first time. I had seen Udi’s products many times at different stores and had read about them here and there, I just never bought any because I didn’t need to. But, this particular day at my Mom’s, it had been weeks since I had eaten a piece of bread and I wanted some. Bad. So, I defrosted two pieces of the White Sandwich Bread and smeared them with peanut butter. Oh. My. Goodness. Totally took away my negative thoughts about store-bought gluten free bread. Fist bump to you Udis! It was delicious. No funny aftertaste, great texture, and a great chew. My only complaint is that the slices are so tiny! I could eat half a loaf in a sitting after a bread-deprived stretch of time but, for the price, that doesn’t fit into my budget – or let’s be real, my waistline.

I’ve bought two loaves of the Whole Grain Bread since then and I really do love it. I know it’s not as cost-effective as baking my own, but during these extremely busy past few weeks, it’s been so nice to have some bread in the freezer that I didn’t have to take the time to bake. I also picked up a package of their hot dog buns for our Labor Day grilling. I had eaten hot dogs and hamburgers without buns all summer and wanted a treat. (Ha, ha – isn’t it funny what can be considered a treat?) I think the hot dog buns are really good too.

Udi’s also offers gluten free bagels, hamburger buns, granola, muffins and cinnamon rolls, and pizza crusts. If these products are as good as the bread, they have gained a very loyal customer. If you visit their website, there is a locator button to help you find a store near you that carries Udi’s products. If you’re local, I buy my Udi’s products from Natural Health Center or at Hardings. The site has a lot of interesting info, tips, recipes and a fun blog. Check it out!

I highly recommend you give Udi’s products a try! Here’s a coupon you can print to use on your purchase!

Have you tried Udi’s? What do you think? Are you going to give it a try soon?

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Did You Know? thinkThin® Bars Again!

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Has anyone tried the thinkThin protein bars since I wrote about them?

I stopped into Natural Health Center yesterday and remembered to check for the other thinkThin products I wanted to try the thinkThin Crunch and the thinkThin Bites. I was excited to see that they carry them! They are not cheap! I paid almost 2 bucks for the bar and over 6 for the box of the 100 calorie Bites.

I really liked the Crunch bar! It’s very similar to a chewy granola bar and tasted great. The first 5 bites, I took each one slowly, expecting to discover a weird texture, flavor or aftertaste. But, there wasn’t any! They really are good. I recommend them for sure.

Now, the Bites. First impression – disappointing. I feel mislead. Take a look at the packaging:

 

 

 

Am I the only one who immediately thinks these are going to be like the 100-calorie packs that Nabisco puts out? Don’t they look like little cookie bites? I assumed, wrongly, they they are little bags of cookie type things. They are actually little bars…and I feared, like the protein bars. I showed the package to Hubby and he said he thought they were little bags of cookies too.

Well, I wouldn’t call them just like the protein bars, but they have enough similarities that I do not like them. I am disappointed, especially because I shelled out 6.49 to give them a try. Grrrr…Funny thing though, my oldest daughter loved the Bites! I had everyone take a little taste and out of all of us, she was the only one who liked it and not only that, she gobbled the entire thing and asked for another one. Ha! We call her our “chocoholic” and I think it’s true – she’ll eat anything that chocolatey.

So, the Crunch bars are great, the Bites, not so much. Oh well – now I know!

Did You Know? thinkThin® Bars

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Hey – it’s Wednesday! How did that happen? Sorry for being MIA…

I made a new friend at the grocery store last night and she pointed out something I had never noticed before. Side note: please tell me that I am not the only one who talks to strangers at the grocery store. I’m sorry, but if I see another person pouring over gluten free products, I can’t keep myself from saying, “You too?” and striking up a conversation.

Have you ever heard of thinkThin®? I had never heard of or seen them until tonight and after doing a little looking online am wondering where I’ve been lately! I picked up two High Protein Bars, one in Chunky Peanut Butter and the other White Chocolate. Woo-hoo for the White Chocolate! They are high protein, low to no sugar, and GLUTEN FREE! High-fives all around! They have 10 flavors in all and I hope to try each of them. Check out the full listing of flavors here. I love my Lara Bars, but I was excited to try a new bar to be able to have some variety.

So, now you’re wondering, how do they taste? Honestly, I didn’t love them. Now, to be fair, I don’t think that’s because they aren’t good. I think it’s because I just don’t really like protein bars. I have tried a handful of them over the years and I just don’t have a taste for them. Or maybe it’s texture. Or aftertaste. Hmmm…I just don’t like them. I did like the flavor of the Crunchy Peanut Butter. Very “real” peanut butter tasting (because it is), but it still has that texture I don’t like. I was really trying to tell myself I was chewing a candybar because I really do want to like them, but it didn’t work. I found the white chocolate to have a subtle parfume-y taste. No idea what that would be from.

Here’s where I land on thinkThin® bars. If you like protein bars, you really need to try them. They have good stuff in them and better yet, they have a lot of bad stuff NOT in them. They have 20 grams of protein per bar and if you’re someone who struggles with blood sugar or who is looking for something else to carry with you when you’re out and about, give these a try.

Take a few minutes to check out the website and blog. The site has recipes and a lot of interesting information and I see they have two other products I would still be interested in trying; thinkThin® Bites and thinkThin® Crunch Bars. I’ll let you know if I pick some up and give them a try!

Have any of you tried thinkThin® products?

Did You Know? Rice Krispies Gluten Free

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Yes, it’s true, your favorite Snap, Crackle, and Pop have gone gluten free.

Rice Krispies, made by Kellogg’s, now has a brown rice variety that is free from the barley malt (flavoring) in the original recipe. I’m pretty excited about this. Isn’t it nice to know of another familiar brand and product that is gluten free? I am not sure when the gluten free variety showed up in stores, but I picked up my first box last week. The price tag says $3.49, but I think it was on sale for maybe $2.99? I did cut out some coupons this morning that included gluten free, so keep an eye out for those to help offset the cost a bit.

Living in the backyard of Kellogg’s-ville, I have heard some mixed reviews about the product. The website states that they are produced in a separate facility, but I had heard that they are not produced on a designated line. I think this is worth a phone call and I’ll get back with you once I find out.

So, how do they taste? Good! They aren’t exactly like the original – something about the texture to me, but it’s hardly noticeable. This gluten free version would be an awesome substitute for a child who has to switch to a gluten free diet and loves Rice Krispie Treats. We haven’t made them yet (plan to soon), but I bet they pass for the originals! Overall, I recommend them. I’ve seen a couple recipes for gluten free desserts that call for “crisped rice cereal” so it’s nice to have those recipes available now without shelling out big bucks for a specialty brand.

If you give them a try, let me know what you think!

Did You Know? Your Public Library

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Hi Everyone! I hope you’ve had a great week! The weather has been beautiful here in SW Michigan – hope you’ve had time to enjoy some beautiful weather!

Didn’t you love Beth’s post? I chuckled when she sent me her post because I had baked the blueberry muffin recipe she shared the day before AND I had picked blueberries with my girls that morning! She’s right – it IS blueberry season here in Michigan! YUM!

Friends – I made my first gluten free pie. Scratch crust that is flaky and buttery and held up perfectly to the delicious, fresh blueberry filling. I was doing cartwheels (not literally – scary thought) at finding another recipe for an old favorite that translated to gluten free with success. Sad news though – I didn’t get a picture! It wasn’t the prettiest of pies, which I guess blocked my usual “grab the camera!” response I have to most things I cook/bake. So, no picture to tempt your taste buds, but I will post the recipe for the crust soon.

For today though, I want to remind you of a great resource you really should take advantage of. Your public library! I was very happy to discover that our public library carries a great selection of gluten free cookbooks. I am so thankful to be able to look the cookbooks over before shelling out the money to buy them. Anyone else love cookbooks like I do? I pretty much read them like a novel – cover to cover. My hubby thinks it’s funny that I do this. I’ve been guilty more than once of reading him a list of ingredients and instructions, my mouth drooling, only to have him look at me with a blank stare. I guess you could say I create the recipe in my head while I am reading it and can taste and smell them as they unfold. I think that’s a testament of a good recipe and ok, a little bit of a love for food. 🙂

 

 

 

 

 
I checked out five cookbooks and looking through them has been really enlightening. Can I just say, no wonder people find gluten free baking confusing and overwhelming! I am not putting down any of these cookbooks – I haven’t made any of the recipes, so I can’t tell you they aren’t good. But, what I can say is that each of the cookbooks has it’s own flour mix(es), recommendations on pans, and some aren’t just gluten free, but add in the areas of dairy and sugar substitutes. Now, I realize that I am a fan and total supporter of a cookbook that is based on specific flour mixes, so I suppose if you are introduced to one of these cookbooks first, you might feel the way that I do about Gluten Free Baking Classics. But, I would love to have a collection of gluten free cookbooks I could use and expand my recipe collection from, and because of the differences in how the recipes are written and the flours used, it’s going to be difficult. I just can’t invest in all the different flours that are used and I am not even sure I want to.

My favorite of the five I brought home is Gluten-Free Made Simple by Dahlstrom and Burnley. The recipes look delicious, easy and kid-friendly. However, I am frustrated that they refer to a specific pre-mixed all purpose flour mix in almost all of their recipes. The mix, which might be great, is a blend of flours and already has the xanthan gum included. I went to the company website to try to get a breakdown of their mix, and they just list the ingredients, nothing specific. SO, unless I start using the mix they refer to, I can’t make these recipes. GRRRR. I really hope they are getting paid to refer to this flour mix, because I wonder how many doors are shutting on their recipes because people don’t use that mix. I know I am not buying it now. They do mention in the introduction they refer to specific brands of flours because they want the recipes to turn out for you and using what they used will ensure that. They also think it’s cost-saving to have the recipes use this mix. I’m not so sure.

I’ve learned a lot from Shauna at Gluten Free Girl and The Chef and her belief and passion for creating gluten free recipes based on weight of flours, not volume. This is another post in and of itself, one that I have already started writing, but the quick summary is that if you create recipes based on the weight of each flour used, any flour can be substituted in or out, as long as you replace each flour at the same weight. Did you know that a cup of rice flour is a different weight than a cup of tapioca? It is! So, let’s say you are baking something and you realize you are out of one of the flours listed in a recipe that is by weight. No problem! Just substitute the same weight of a different flour that you do have and the recipe should still work. Baking by weight is the standard in most of the professional world of baking – wheat flour or not – and it just makes so much sense.

I have already been very interested in baking this way and after coming across what would be a fantastic cookbook, but finding it basically useless to me, I am even more sold. I wish that the cookbook, or at least the company that makes the flour mix, would provide a breakdown of their mix by weight. If we each knew that, we could duplicate what they have made from what we have in our pantries. I haven’t totally dismissed making a best guess at replacing their measurement of flours to my mix and separate xanthan gum, but it could be an expensive test if the recipes don’t work out. I’ll keep you posted if I do try it out.

Ok, this post has gone a few different directions! My intent was to remind you of the free and helpful resource of your public library. Many times you can search the library’s catalog online and see what they have before even making a trip. Check it out this next week and see what you find! Even if you don’t have success adding recipes to your collection (like me), you can at least learn more about the wide variety of gluten free recipes and styles of cooking and baking that exist. You might even find your new favorite cookbook!

Gluten Free Restaurants – From Beth

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Today is my birthday!  I won’t tell you how old I am.  Let’s just say, old enough.  The reason I even mention my birthday is that I went out for “birthday lunch” with my husband and kids.  This was the best time to get all of us together, with everyone’s work schedules.  We don’t go out to eat very often as a whole family for a few reasons, one of which is that feeding a family of six with four teenagers is not cheap!  But probably the biggest reason is the whole “gluten-free” thing.  It’s just harder to find restaurants that offer something Matthew and I can eat or that understand what gluten-free is and about cross-contamination.  This is one of the reasons I have become so busy developing special dishes and meals at home.  Not that I didn’t love food and cooking before becoming gluten-free.  I just have a greater need and incentive now.  If there is some restaurant meal I used to love that isn’t a GF item, I have tried to create a substitute at home.  As you can see, I really don’t like to “go without”.

So, back to “going out”.  I thought I’d share what we do about eating out now.  First, I’ve discovered that the nicer the restaurant, especially if they have an actual chef, the better my chances are of having  them not only understand the GF diet but also how to accommodate it.  Many of them “cook to order” so they can alter the preparation of some of the dishes to make them GF.  And with the increasing awareness of the GF diet in the public, many have GF pasta available to substitute in pasta dishes, as well as other GF options.  One of my favorite local restaurants in the Kalamazoo area is Bravo.  They have several menu items that are GF, can adapt others and carry GF pasta.  They also have the BEST mushroom soup in the world!  GF, of course!  A few others that we’ve eaten at locally are Oakwood BistroMartell’s and hopefully soon, Mangia Mangia (who I’ve contacted and they also have GF pasta).

Family restaurants are a little harder because they are often chain restaurants with untrained cooks in the kitchen, but we’ve had good success with Carrabbas and Outback, which are owned by the same company and are on the gluten free registry of restaurants.  They both offer a separate GF menu.  Yay for them!!  Also, Applebee’s now has a list of GF menu items available online but I haven’t tried them so I’m not sure how reliable or “clean” they are.

Fast food took the biggest hit for us, since it was the cheapest way to feed our hungry family when we wanted something easy.  McDonalds is out, Taco Bell too, but Wendy’s has several items that are GF and Arby’s has a few too.  We do get tired of the same things all the time though.  As Katie has already mentioned, Qdoba is a GF option and is a big favorite in our family, especially with Matthew, who thankfully, loves Mexican and never gets tired of it.  And recently, we’ve begun frequenting Noodles and Co., which has an allergen chart in the restaurants and online, with GF options and rice noodles to substitute for other pastas.  And though I haven’t tried them since being GF, Subway also posts GF dining options.

One other local place that has recently impressed and encouraged me was Big Joe’s Pizza and Subs.  The owner makes his own sausage (it’s GF), all the other meats are GF, he carries GF pizza crusts and his chicken salad is GF and quite good!  He talked with me for a while recently and he understands GF meal preparation.  The sausage was good and so was the pizza and I’m pretty picky about pizza!

It’s definitely easier now to eat out than it was even 3 ½ years ago when I first started this journey.  Let us know other places you’ve found to eat GF.

Did You Know? Qdoba

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When I made the switch to gluten free, one thing that hurt the most was realizing that eating out was going to be extremely tough. My hubby and I LOVE going out to eat and trying new places and food. So, whenever I hear of any restaurant being “clean” for gluten free, I am thrilled. Typically, if the restaurant has an actual chef, you can find they can be accommodating. There are a few places in town that are known as places you can go and eat gluten free, but they aren’t exactly the on-a-whim weeknight restaurants you sometimes want for something quick and budget friendly.

My friend told me that the chicken at Qdoba is ok to eat. No gluten! Obviously, no tortillas for burritos, so the Naked Chicken Burrito it is. I have recently discovered, however, that I mistakenly assumed that Qdoba’s tortilla chips were just fine to eat. Another friend pointed out to me recently that Qdoba does not have dedicated fryers, so those lovely tortilla chips are being fried in the same oil as tortillas for say, taco salads. AH! Never thought about that. I pulled up Qdoba’s allergen info and sure enough, they do not guarantee their chips are gluten free. So, big possibility of cross-contamination folks. BUMMER!

So, I’ll be sticking to the Naked Burritos or bringing home the super yummy nacho concoction and eating it with my own chips.