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

And Now for Something Completely Frivolous: Gluten-free Marshmallow Cereal Squares

Oh Pinterest, sometimes you are silly (see this for proof), but sometimes you are genius. Because without you, I never would have thought to make a batch of these last Friday.

They are super colorful, not all that good for you, and full of sugar.  (Though they’re pretty low on fat, if I stop to think about it.) In other words, fun.

~ Gluten-Free Marshmallow Cereal Squares ~

Gluten-free, Dairy-free, Vegan (if made with vegan marshmallows)

I used Trix, but you can use any gluten-free cereal you like. I was THISCLOSE to using Reece’s Puffs (for obvious reasons – they are puffs of Reece’s), but opted for the Trix because it had 1.5 grams less fat per serving, because that matters when you’re making something that is 85% sugar.  (Ssssh. It does.) Also, the squares come out looking like something straight out of a Lisa Frank-themed party, which makes this very sneezy-itchy-allergy time of year seem a little better.

Ingredients:

  • 6 cups gluten-free cereal of choice
  • 3 tablespoons Earth Balance
  • 1 bag marshmallows

Melt Earth Balance over low heat in a non-stick skillet, add marshmallows. Stir occasionally until marshmallows are completely melted (a silicone spatula works wonders here), mix half of the cereal into mixture while pan is still over very low heat.

Once incorporated, add remaining cereal and smooth out into a lightly-greased pan (a few sprays of Pam will do). A baking pan about 10 x 10 will work. Let sit till cooled, cut into squares and store in an airtight container.

A Note: If you make these with a gf rice cereal, there is a certain one that many health food stores sell in bulk that doesn’t work as well in this recipe. They look like Rice Crispies (without the malt) but they’re much harder and crunchier, and don’t soften up as well after being combined with the marshmallow – they come out more crunchy than chewy. Last summer we were promised a GF version of Rice Crispies, but I have yet to see them on shelves. In the end I think you’re better off with a fun cereal. Kix would be good too!

Gluten-Free Rum Balls (or Easter Eggs!)

These rum balls, while traditionally made around the holidays, are a perfect “adult” treat for Easter – if you’re feeling particularly grown-up you could even dip them in dark chocolate. This recipe is easily adaptable if rum isn’t your thing, though coconut rum sounds perfect for Easter!

 ~* Gluten-Free Rum Balls *~

Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free, Vegan

A food processor is the quick way to go here, but if you don’t have one you could try crushing the  cookies/nuts with a mallet.

Best made a couple days in advance

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup gluten-free wafers (or other crisp gf cookie)
  • 3/4 cup walnuts
  • 1 tbsp light corn syrup
  • 3/4 cup powdered  sugar, plus sugar for coating
  • 1/3 cup rum (spiced, coconut, etc.)

I doubled the recipe, hence 2 cups of crumbs

Begin by pulsing cookies (I used GF animal crackers in a pinch, though I think there are better alternatives out there) into large crumbs – make sure you do not crush them too finely! I made this mistake initially and it made for a very gooey rum ball that wouldn’t firm up until I added extra powdered sugar. You want large crumbs, not flour. Same goes for the walnuts – if you even just chop them with a knife that works too.

Once your cookies and walnuts are ready, assemble them in a separate bowl (again, if you process everything together it’s quicker but you run the risk of chopping everything too finely); add powdered sugar.

Pour in corn syrup, and slowly mix in rum, taking care that the mixture does not become too wet or sticky. (Conversely, if it’s too dry you can add more rum.) Using a teaspoon or small ice cream scoop, form the batter into small balls and roll in powdered sugar. Let sit on parchment paper to set. If you’re having trouble working with the dough, set it in the fridge until if firms up a bit.

Place rum balls in a parchment-lined cookie tin or container and – here’s the hard part – let sit for a few days for the best flavor. If you like a very firm rum ball, you can keep them in the fridge, though honestly they get better with time if they sit out on the counter.

How many is too many? Up to you!

If you’re making Easter eggs, roll balls into egg-shapes and decorate with chocolate. You can also add cocoa powder for extra chocolate flavor!


An Especially Tasty Gluten-Free Sweet Potato Casserole

dinner2I spotted this recipe on Oh She Glows, one of my favorite food blogs, last holiday season, and little did I know what an impact it would have on this year’s Thanksgiving! Seriously, it turns regular yams/sweet potatoes into magic.

It’s sweet, but not too sweet to be a side-dish, and the topping is crispy and delicious. It’s also pretty darn easy to make. Perfect for breakfast the next morning too!

While you can make this while your turkey is cooking, I baked it the night before and reheated it at 350 while the turkey was resting; it took around 30m – just keep an eye on it. You don’t have to add the pecans, but I firmly suggest you do; they lend a very tasty pecan-pie flavor.

~* Gluten and Dairy-Free Sweet Potato Casserole *~

(Vegan Too!)

adapted from Oh She Glows

Oven Temp: 350, Pan Size: 2 quart casserole dish

Ingredients:

Filling:

  • 4 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cooked
  • 2 tbsp Earth Balance
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 5 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1/2 tsp fine grain salt
  • 3/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 3/4 tsp cinnamon

Topping:

  • 1/4 cup Earth Balance
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup sorghum flour
  • 3/4 cups chopped pecans

cass2 Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Peel and boil sweet potatoes/yams until tender. Drain and mash the sweet potatoes with Earth Balance until smooth – leave a few chunks to keep it “rustic.”cass3

Whisk together the maple syrup, salt, nutmeg, and cinnamon; add to sweet potatoes. Transfer mixture into a lightly-greased (with canola oil) casserole dish.

Using a fork (or your fingers), mix together the topping ingredients until well combined; it helps to have softened butter. Add pecans last. Sprinkle topping over sweet potatoes and bake for 50 minutes, checking to make sure topping does not burn. cass5

This dish is ridiculously versatile; it works for breakfast, brunch, potlucks, dessert. Dessert especially if you are someone who likes their desserts without overwhelming sweetness. Something about the twice-cooking/baking of the sweet potatoes really improves the sweet potato texture too.

And if, when shopping, you get confused about the difference between yams and sweet potatoes, usually what is labeled as a yam is actually a sweet potato. The USDA now requires the “yam” label to always be accompanied by “sweet potato.” It’s very unlikely to find a real yam here in the U.S. Bottom line is to look for the ones which dark orange flesh and reddish-brown skin.

2sweetpotatovsyam SweetPotato2

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 :^) ]

    images

Gluten-Free Pecan Pie (No Corn Syrup Needed!)

pie4I don’t know about you, but I dislike corn syrup (those commercials claiming “corn sugar is the same as cane sugar” are such bull). I know that it’s unavoidable in some recipes, or when you’re making candy, but I don’t dig it. I have a problem believing that something is not horrible for you if there’s corn syrup in it – and yes, sometimes I do believe pie is healthy.

Beyond that, I never have it in the house. But lucky for me, and you, there is no corn syrup in this recipe! And I swear on all that is sweet and tasty, you will never miss it. You will not even notice it’s not there.

I discovered this pie last year, and it quickly became a holiday favorite. (And by favorite, I mean we can’t get out of the December without eating two one.) It’s perfect for Thanksgiving or Christmas, and is super easy.

Also, the original recipe posted on allrecipes has 34,888 saves and over 1,000 positive reviews. Enough said.

~* Gluten-Free, Corn Syrup-Free Pecan Pie *~

 

For the crust (makes 2 crusts, either freeze half of the dough for later or halve the amounts)":

  • 1/2 cup sorghum flour
  • 1/2 cup millet flour
  • 1/4 cup tapioca flour
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 2/3 cup Earth balance buttery sticks
  • 6 tablespoons cold water

For the filling:

  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon sorghum flour
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup chopped pecans

pie2

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Prepare crust; see directions here. (Note that the types of flour in this recipe are a bit different than in the link .)

In a large bowl, beat eggs until foamy, and stir in melted butter. Add in the sugars and flour, mix well. Finally add the milk, vanilla, and pecans.

Pour into the pie shell, and place pie in the oven. Once the pie is in, turn the oven down to 350 degrees and bake for 30-40 minutes. The top will crack slightly.

pie3

Enjoy with whipped cream/cool whip, etc!

I’m off to the gym to prepare for future pies – that’s why everyone works out, right?


19 days till Christmas!

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!

Gluten-Free Gingerbread-Orange Scones

 9

So I haven’t been around here for awhile, not because I’ve stopped eating/cooking/baking but because I’ve started working. Yes, folks, there is hope for those with a Master’s degrees in the humanities.

And now that I’m working, Sundays become something rather special to me, likely because they’re the last respite before the work-week begins.

These scones are great to whip up in the morning, and they are sturdy enough to munch on during your morning commute! I made them in wedges, but next time I might try using a round drop-scones method, because these don’t rise an extraordinary amount. Orange extract is not in the original recipe, but it ended up being very tasty, especially in the glaze. I also added a dash of cloves and nutmeg.

~* Gluten-Free Gingerbread-Orange Scones *~

adapted from here

Ingredients
  • 1 cup brown rice flour
  • 1 cup sorghum flour
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup cold Earth Balance
  • 1/3 cup molasses
  • 1/4 cup soy milk (try using unsweetened)
  • 1 tsp orange extract
  • dash of cloves, nutmeg (if desired)
  • 1 egg, separated
  • sugar

1 In a large bowl or food-processor, combine dry ingredients; cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. In another bowl combine molasses, orange extract, soy milk, and the egg yolk; add into dry mixture until just moistened.

Knead dough gently on a floured surface about 8 times. Pat into a round circle and cut into wedges, or drop batter into mounds. Place on a parchment-covered or greased baking sheet. Beat egg white until frothy; brush over scones and sprinkle with sugar, if desired. 3

Bake at 400 degrees for 12-15 minutes or until golden brown. Once cooled, drizzle with icing or a glaze. Whip up a glaze by combining about a cup of powdered sugar, and a dash of soy milk, and orange extract.

5

~ Happy Sunday! ~

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!

Creamy Vegan and Gluten-Free Potato Soup

5

Yesterday I had lunch with my mom at Slice of Life, a vegan and vegetarian restaurant in Sebastopol, and we had a very tasty blended potato and vegetable soup. It was so tasty, in fact, that I decided to make my own version. 

This recipe has many lovely attributes: it’s gluten and dairy-free (of course), vegan, filling, low in fat, high in nutrients, and cheap economical. If you buy all these items in bunches, you can even get another full recipe out of it.

~*Creamy Vegan Potato and Veggie Soup*~

Makes a medium pot of soup, or around 2-3 servings

Ingredients:

  • 2 medium russet potatoes
  • 2 small, fit-in-your-palm size yukon gold potatoes
  • 4 carrots
  • 4 celery stalks
  • 1/2 of one large yellow onion
  • olive oil
  • soup seasoning mix, or veggie/chicken broth (obv. chicken is not vegan)
  • any other desired seasonings; salt, pepper, etc.

Peel and wash potatoes; cut russets into 2-inch pieces and yukon’s into 1-inch chunks. Chop peeled carrots and 3 of the celery stalks into 1-inch long pieces, and dice the remaining stalk into small pieces, the same size you normally use for aromatics. Slice onion so the layers are in 2/3 inch-long pieces. image

Drizzle a little olive oil over the bottom of your pan; sauté the diced celery and onion for a few minutes over high heat, sprinkle with salt and pepper. Once the onion starts to get transparent, add the potatoes and remaining veggies, along with a healthy sprinkling of your seasonings.

I used a no-salt mixture along with a seasoning/soup mix and water in lieu of a broth. My favorite kind of soup mix is Vegeta, which I was turned onto by my boyfriend’s Russian mother. You might have to go to a European grocery or store like World Market to get it, though I haven’t actually looked for it in the regular grocery. Per the directions, you add about a couple spoonfuls to the pot of water. It’s quite tasty, but you can use bullion or broth if you like.

Add enough water/broth to just cover the ingredients, and stir in the seasoning. Cover and simmer the soup over medium-low heat until the veggies and potatoes are soft and cooked, around 20-30 minutes. Check halfway to see if you need to add more salt, seasoning, etc. Tip: if the soup has too much of a salty-vegetable flavor add something sweet, like juice or a teaspoon of sugar.

1 To blend the soup using a blender, fill it up and add just enough  of the broth for it to blend; mix on high for a few seconds until it’s smooth. If you like your soup with a little bite like I do, only partially blend the rest of the soup so that there are still chunks of the veggies and potatoes, and mix it in with the smoother first batch.

There’s something about blending the potatoes with the veggies that makes this magic; it’s thick and creamy comfort food without that heavy feeling. And the best thing? Leftovers!

6

Forget Ramen noodles and all that other cheap crap people are forced to eat when they’re short on cash; this is the kind of inexpensive food that not only fills you up, but keeps you healthy too!

Previous Older Entries

Gluten-Free Dreaming Copyright 2011.
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 626 other followers