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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Safe Travels: Avoiding Bears and Gluten

Let’s talk about safety. First priority in the country – avoid being mistaken for an animal. Especially during hunting season.

Which is why we bought these lovely neon hats. The pumpkin is wearing it, which takes away from its extreme orange-ness, but believe me when I say no animal in the woods is this color.

Our big pumpkin will not get shot.

Bunky also has a fantastically bright magenta coat which no creature in nature shares, so I’m pretty sure she’ll be safe. In addition to her orange hat.

The place we bought the hats a few weeks ago is an enormous Home Depot-sized outdoors store called, Gander Mountain. In addition to guns, fishing poles, cozy looking hunting shelters, and many (creepy) mounted animal carcasses, they also sell hiking and snow boots, which is what we were there to buy.

Usually I spend most of our money on overpriced GF groceries, but this time I got to splurge on some quality snow boots. I almost bought ones called, Joan of Arctic, and probably should have because of the name (and better price), but decided on a more expensive pair, Cate of Alexandria. Who is that? No clue. That should’ve tipped me off, but vanity got the better of me and I got these Sorel boots instead. For the record, they were not as expensive as listed on the site, but still. Oh well. At least my feet and legs will be warm and fantastic looking. Bunky got cool boots too, for a much more reasonable amount.

Pink and black checked boots.

After this longer than intended stop, we were all starving. We BOOFed (bring our own food) of course, but to be honest, how many Udi’s sandwiches can one family eat? Especially outside on a damp cold day in a parking lot which happens to overlook a Perkin’s Pancake restaurant. I have to admit feeling a twinge of sadness at not having the option to pop into a place like that for a warm meal. But there are no, or very few, safe options for us. Until a GF diner opens – entrepreneurs take note – it’s Udi’s on the road for us.

Lately there hasn’t been much going on in the nearby towns during our country weekends. We had been spoiled early on since our visits coincided with fun events like a Halloween festival, pumpkin picking, cider mills, and craft fairs.

Bunky bowling with a pumpkin. And yes, those are toilet paper ghosts.

The truth is I think we need to stop trying to find “stuff” to do, and simply enjoy the house and nearby nature spots. Have I mentioned that driving anywhere in the country takes forever? Not cool with two kiddos. Unless they are sleeping, they are not exactly what you’d call amiable passengers.

In front of the falls at the cider mill. Lovely, right? The ride there – not so lovely.

That weekend we ended up finding a sweet little country store where I bought vanilla bean soaked peaches – yum. Both Bunky and Little Guy rejected what I thought would be a sweet treat.  Now the whole jar is mine, all mine!

B reading a book to LG at breakfast after rejected peach tasting.

Their loss is my gain. I’ve been enjoying them diced in my oatmeal with a dash of maple syrup.

Every Sunday there is a lovely farmer’s market by the river (in the warmer months) and indoors during winter. But it’s a good 45 minute drive from our house. We went once and it was great, but I can’t see going regularly unless we’re in the area for something else.

Our farmer’s market bounty a few weeks ago.

Ultimately, Bunky is happiest hanging out at the river with her dad, collecting rocks and exploring. There is no need to drive searching for something “to do” when we can walk outside our door, or drive a little ways down the road to the river and make stone towers.

I mean, isn’t that why we bought a house in the country? We don’t need to track down events. Our girl is thrilled to stack rocks, look for newts under logs, and soar through the air on her homemade swing.

As we move deeper into December, and closer to winter, we’re hoping for more snow so we can enjoy some easy and fun play right outside our front door. Snow in the city quickly becomes slushy and stained (let’s not talk about with what). Country snow means clean snow, with potential for forts and snow angels.

The other great thing about winter? Hibernation. Though we haven’t seen any bears, and nor have our neighbors apparently, it’s nice to know the ones that might be around are hunkered down for the season.

I still might wear my orange hat, though. Just in case.