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?

 

Gluten Free Easter, Country Style

Best dressed Peeps.

Best dressed Peeps.

This year we celebrated Easter in the country with my husband’s sister, her husband, and their adorable son, who is three months younger than Little Guy. We were so happy to spend time with them and watch the cousins hang out. My nephew ran around after Bunky while Little Guy trailed behind giggling. Everything was fine, except for the Easter part.

Here’s the thing – I’m not good at Easter. I kind of suck at it, to be perfectly honest. I’m Jewish, it’s not my fault. I grew up eating matzoh for a week while my good friend and next-door neighbor (understandably) boasted about the giant bunny who delivered towering baskets of chocolate and candy. Eggs, bunnies, and chocolate. I’m still not sure how that has anything to do with religion, but this is not a blog about such things. It’s a blog about my family. And food.

So I gave Easter my best shot, despite my religious affiliation and inexperience. My husband helped out by getting an adorable gluten free chocolate bunny ahead of time, and I picked up some GF Jelly Bellies (which I’m eating now while Bunky is at school, SO WRONG!) and a package of pink Peeps. Done. We bought a sleeve of cheap pastel colored plastic eggs and a generic dye kit at the grocery store in the country. Double done. We’re good, right? Wrong.

At least the egg coloring went well.

At least the egg coloring went well.

I kind of love this picture.

I kind of love this picture.

What did I forget? It’s pretty obvious unless you’re a Jew like me. Picture this: Bunky walking around our freezing yard in the country collecting eggs… in a giant stainless steel bowl.

Yeah, I forgot the basket. Oops. Meanwhile, my sister-in-law had a Cars (the movie) themed blue one for my nephew. Luckily, Bunky didn’t seem to notice or care that she was holding a kitchen bowl. It held a lot of eggs. She also didn’t care that her candy treats were given to her in a pink gift bag that we dug out of the basement.

Showing off some of her stash.

Showing off some of her stash.

So why was I nearly crying into the lumpy – but ultimately delicious – King Arthur Gluten Free Pancake batter? Because I was HUNGRY people, hungry.

Rewind: Easter morning we realized we were out of milk even though we had just bought some the day before. That’s what happens when there are two babies in the house, I guess. My husband went out in search of an open store and returned nearly an hour later. That is life in the country. Big wide open spaces. Also, it was Easter and the closest grocery store was closed.

When I was finally ready to make the pancakes it was nearly 10 am. Everyone (but me) had eaten something already, and then there was Easter to negotiate (my sister in law was nice enough to wait on giving her son the huge basket of beautifully wrapped toys that would have had Bunky in tears since all she had was a stainless steel bowl with empty eggs). While my husband rushed outside to hide the plastic eggs, I stuffed both kids into winter coats and hats since it was freezing. As I waved them out the door my hands were shaking and I felt dizzy. I realized I was starving.

The two cups of coffee had long since turned to fumes inside my body. The gluten free pancake batter looked lumpy, which I blamed on myself for not fully melting the butter, and that’s when I started to feel a wave of heat rise from my empty stomach up to my twitchy face. Basically I was about to freak out. I burned my finger on the electric grill and then nearly burst into tears. Outside one window I watched my in-laws laugh and take photos of their baby toddling around and dropping eggs into his pretty blue basket and out the other window my daughter walked very seriously clutching her enormous silver bowl. My husband followed behind while holding a squirmy Little Guy.

Clearly, there is no documentation of this. But check this out:

Um, really? He comes from two of the least sporty people ever.

Um, really? He comes from two of the least sporty people ever.

I did what any person about to lose their mind would do. I cooked a batch of sloppily poured pancakes and wolfed down two. In moments I felt my senses return and could laugh instead of cry at my daughter’s “basket.” There are bigger horrors in the world, believe me I know, but on an empty stomach I seriously almost lost it at my Easter shortcomings.

This is where the GF thing can really screw a person up. Unlike my in-laws, who chomped on bagels they brought from home, I couldn’t just eat something on the fly. We were out of Udi’s by Sunday (having been in the country since Wednesday) and there was not even a banana to grab. There is only so much food prep a mama can do, and most of my efforts went toward making sure my kids had something to eat before sending them out into the cold to pick up a bunch of plastic eggs. My own needs, shockingly, went unattended.

Once I felt my brain go back to normal, I grabbed an extra big pancake and coated it with some delicious local maple butter (the best invention. ever.) and brought it outside to my starving and depressed looking husband. It was the least I could do.

Pancake breakfast, finally ready.

Pancake breakfast when it was finally ready.

Luckily my kid didn’t notice any Easter discrepancies, and Little Guy could care less about the whole thing. He was happy enough back inside opening up all the empty eggs inside his cousin’s basket.

Easter fatigue setting in.

Easter fatigue setting in.

All in all it was a success, though utterly exhausting. But aren’t all holidays? Here’s hoping your Easter, if you partake in the festival of eggs and chocolate, was more slick than mine. If not, there’s always next year. That’s what I’m telling myself, at any rate.

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