Gluten Free Product Review Round-up

Earlier this month we spent our anniversary family-style at our country house upstate, and unlike the last trip (Easter weekend began with sun AND ended with snow!) this was summery without a spec of precipitation. It was filled with fun outdoor activities like lake swimming, sand castle building, marshmallow roasting, salamander catching (and releasing), and of course eating.

kids at lake

Red salamanders at the house and lots of green ones at the lake.

Red salamanders at the house and lots of green ones at the lake.

The eating part is surprisingly easy since the gluten free section at the local Peck’s grocery store is AWESOME! Seriously, it’s better than our grocery in Brooklyn. This makes our trips a lot easier knowing we can pick up a complete stash of Udi’s products, plus cookies, crackers, cake mixes, and more instead of packing our usual fridge/freezer/pantry arsenal.

I found a couple of new items that my family loved and I want to share here. I rarely do product reviews, but I should do more because there’s nothing worse than spending a zillion dollars on a dry meh GF cookie or a weird rubbery wrap.

scary face

Am I right?! (Gotta love Photo Booth.)

Have I mentioned how sad I am about gluten free bread lately? [sidebar alert] As much as I love Udi’s and am eternally grateful for their brand, I can’t handle how crumbly and hole-y the bread can be. It’s gotten to the point where I feel bad about giving it to my kids, especially Little Guy who is particularly sensitive to stale tasting bread. Maybe poor Bunky is used to it after all these years. Sigh.

Recently we tried Glutino White Bread, and it is SOFT, seriously insanely soft. You don’t even have to toast it! Less healthy than the whole grain Udi’s, sure, but you know, sometimes you need to be able to chew your sandwich without gagging.

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So, that was sort of an unofficial review, and now for the rest from our upstate stash…

Udi’s Gluten Free Flour Tortilla Wraps 

After years of eating quesadillas (practically a food group around here) on stiff yellow circles also known as store bought corn tortillas, I discovered these beauties.

The bread might not always be awesome, but these wraps totally are!

They are enormous and soft GF flour tortillas (they also sell smaller ones). Oh, Udi’s, I know I just bad talked your bread, but you nailed these. I used them for our regular shredded cheddar quesadillas, but also for a sweet breakfast tortilla (!) which tasted like a thick crepe, using our new favorite White Chocolate Peanut Butter and sliced banana. OMG! Unfortunately, I haven’t found these in Brooklyn yet (!) but the next time we go upstate, I’m stocking up.

Even a paper plate can't cheapen the experience.

Even a paper plate can’t cheapen the experience.

Next up…

Maple Grove Farms Gluten Free Pancake and Waffle Mix

maple grove farms gf mix

Speaking of breakfast, have you tried this mix? If not, you should give it a try because it’s awesome. Plus, there’s NO added sugar, which is not necessarily true for other mixes (Bisquick, I’m talking to you). It’s super easy to make either pancakes or waffles and both have been successful for us. I used to like making my own homemade pancakes, and still do on occasion, but it’s also nice to have the convenience of a mix, especially when your kids wake you up before dawn.

Now, no trip to the country would be complete without copious amounts of Haagen Dazs ice cream. A moment of props to HD – want to know how many ingredients are in their traditional vanilla? FIVE. Cream, sugar, skim milk, egg yolks, and vanilla extract. Nothing fake, no “natural flavor” scams, nothing. Just real food.

Normally we eat it in a bowl because GF cones are not always easy to come by… except upstate where they sell these awesome ones:

Joy Gluten Free Sugar Cones

Isn't my cone model adorable?!

Isn’t my cone model adorable?!

These GF sugar cones are really tasty! They also make gluten free cake cones, by the way. One day we’ll give those a try. In the meantime, the sugar cones are rad. We all really enjoyed eating them all filled up with drippy vanilla and chocolate ice cream. The only caveat is that they leak at the bottom, but you can use your finger as a stopper, ha, or better yet melt some chocolate down there. Oh, yeah.

bunky and cone

Eating outside makes ice cream taste even better, don’t you think?

Everything outside is better in the summer. Salamander catching included.

kids and salamander

Have you had any fantastic gluten free finds lately? If so, bring it on in comments. I can always use some new ideas. And let me know if you try any of my suggestions. We GFers have to stick together, you know?

 

GF Grilled Almond Butter + Banana Sandwich


ab sand 2 better

Seems so obvious in retrospect. Almond butter + banana sandwich = awesome, but add butter and a frying pan and you’ve got SUPER AWESOME.

But first, a mini sidebar:

Oh Udi’s, how we depend on love thee. But, after being toasted, which is necessary for edibility, you can taste – how can I say this nicely – a little stale? Yes. Stale, a bit stiff. Not always so awesome. Especially when you sit in a lunch box all morning. Poor sandwich. Poor Bunky who is dependent on said sandwiches.

Luckily, she adores grilled cheese, which taste perfectly lovely on Udi’s bread when grilled in copious amounts of butter. Yum. Little Guy loves them, too. But how many grilled cheeses can a kid eat? Well, a lot, fortunately. But I figured something else out. Something fantastic. I can’t even take credit for it. When my friend told me about it I smacked my head. OF COURSE. Grilled almond butter and banana = Genius!

Can you see the buttery goodness? It's no joke.

Can you see the buttery goodness? It’s no joke.

Ingredients:

  • GF bread, banana slices, almond butter (or whatever you want) + frying pan + butter

Directions:

1. You probably don’t need me to spell this out, but I will just in case. Slap a big pad of butter in your frying pan. Heat that sucker up on medium low (you really don’t want to burn the bread, ew).

2. Spread a generous amount of almond butter on a slice of gluten free bread. Cover with banana slices. Top with a second piece of bread. Place in the pan and fry it up. Then add more butter to brown the other side.

3. Slide it on a plate and DIG IN!

* Want an upgrade? Use NUTELLA instead, or a combo. Oh. My. Goodness. Seriously. It should probably be illegal.

And since posting gratuitous pictures of my kids is kind of my thing, here is a series I call, When Little Brother Attacks.

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Fun times. Little Guy is so sweet and cuddly, but he’s also a mixed martial arts star in training. My dad has big plans for him.

As for my girl, she is an artist and a budding writer. She’s always loved art, but now that she’s learning to write, she’s making books. How perfect is that?!

spring flowers

Spring flowers, please hurry! We’re so over winter.

Shared on the fabulous Vegetarian Mamma’s Gluten Free Friday link up. Click the badge below for more awesome GF recipes and tidbits.

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Healthy Banana Chocolate Chip Mini Muffins GF + DF

Sugar makes my kid nuts.

my bunky

I was going to start this post with a very boring bit about not making New Year’s resolutions, but how I’d like to try baking with less refined sugar, blah blah blah. It makes me yawn just typing that. The bottom line is, well, it’s the top line. Sugar makes Bunky crazy, and since she has always been a bit extreme, even as a baby (colic), it’s best to keep the crazy down. The kind I can control, anyhow.

It’s no wonder she’s a sugar monger, since I am. We kept it away from her for as long as possible, but when you bake, there’s usually sugar in there. Quite a bit now that I’m paying attention. Over the past year + of being a celiac mama, I’ve come across more food and recipe sites than I can shake a stick at, and lately I’ve found myself veering away from the sugar bombs I usually gravitate toward and am experimenting with dates, coconut sugar, maple syrup, honey. Don’t get me wrong – I will always love the white stuff, and I doubt I will ever become one of those no refined sugar ever people, but now that Little Guy wants to eat everything we do, it’s important for me to at least TRY to keep the white stuff at bay.

This leads me to my latest recipe for yumma-licious Banana Chocolate Chip mini muffins. Which happen to be vegan, if you’re into that sort of thing.

banana chip muffins

If you’ve been following this blog, you may remember that I’m a huge banana fan. One of the first recipes I converted to GF was a modest yet perfectly delightful Banana Bread (with chocolate chips, of course).

Now this new recipe is adapted from Gazing In’s Vegan Banana Chip Muffins. I tweaked it a bit to make it gluten free and mini. I love how you can use your food processor or blender for the (wet) batter. Little Guy happens to LOVE the Cuisinart after living in mortal fear of it for months. Now I let him push the “on” button and he makes funny chirping noises as it whirls around.

Satisfied customer.

He is really into his belly.

And the muffins.

And the muffins.

The healthy thing about these suckers is that there is no oil, butter or eggs (hence, vegan) and it only uses ½ cup of sugar. If you use coconut sugar, health benefits go up. I use what I’ve got, which is usually cheapo light brown sugar, though after reading this article about how brown sugar is about just as bad for you as white, I may invest in coconut sugar, which incidentally tastes lovely in my morning coffee. But kinda pricey. Oh, it’s expensive being healthy sometimes.

muffins 1

Healthy Banana Chocolate Chip Mini Muffins GF + DF

Ingredients:

  • spray to grease muffin tins (or butter if you’d like)
  • 3 ripe bananas
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened coconut milk
  • 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1+1/2 cups gluten free all purpose flour (I use my own blend)
  • 3/4 teaspoon of xanthan gum (omit if your blend contains it)
  • 1/2 cup coconut sugar or light brown sugar, packed
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1+1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt (or whatever, just not the chunky kind)
  • 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips (use Enjoy Life brand for dairy free)

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray or use butter to grease two 12 cup mini muffin tins (or one 12 cup regular muffin tin).

2. Place the bananas, coconut milk, apple cider vinegar, and vanilla into a food processor or blender and whirl away until smooth. Pause to scrape down sides and blend again.

3. In a large bowl whisk the dry ingredients together (not including chips). Then add the wet mixture to dry and stir well. Then fold in the chocolate chips, if desired.

Batter after chips have been added.

Batter after chips have been added.

4. Using a tablespoon, which is a nifty trick, spoon batter into the mini muffin tins.

Best thing about vegan muffins? You can totally lick the spoon (and bowl) without feeling like you might be poisoning yourself.

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Chips and no chips.

The top tin has chips, the bottom doesn’t. Little Guy gets the plain ones. They’re good, too.

5. Bake for about 10 minutes. Check for doneness by sticking a toothpick or knife in the center, which should come out clean. Let cool in tins for 5 minutes then pop them out on a plate to cool completely.

Makes at least 24 mini muffins. My last batch made 30. If you want you can make 12 regular sized muffins. If so, bake for 20 minutes.

Note: It may be necessary to hide these from your spouse. Or yourself.

I’m happy to have shared this post at the Gluten-Free Friday’s link up party hosted by Vegetarian Mamma, and Simply Sugar and Gluten Free’s Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays. Click the links to find more great GF recipes.