13 June 2010

More Gluten-Free Favorites

As my adventures in gluten-free living continue, I keep experimenting with new products, recipes and foods to round out my diet...

Trader Joe's Chicken Meatballs -- In my gluten-eating days, I was a huge fan of Trader Joe's frozen turkey meatballs as an easy, relatively nutritious meal addition. Obviously breadcrumbs are a primary component of meatball recipes, so I was so pleased to discover gluten-free chicken meatballs when browsing the aisles of Trader Joe's on Memorial Drive in Cambridge. They are located in the refrigerated, prepared foods section of the store for $4.99 for a small package. But these are well worth it, as these meatballs have quickly become a staple of my diet. Packed with spicy flavor and lean protein, they heat up in about a minute straight from the freezer, as they are fully cooked at purchase. I usually pair them with gluten-free pasta, but sometimes I just eat them by themselves with a little tomato sauce and I'm a happy gluten-free camper. Click the link for a list of all gluten-free products at Trader Joe's -- very convenient.

Glow Gluten-Free Cookies -- I came across a review for Glow Gluten-Free Cookies during a Google search when I first realized I was gluten intolerant. The store locator section of their website indicated the only Whole Foods Markets they are available at in Massachusetts are the Newtonville and Newton (Walnut Street) locations. I usually go to the WFM on River Street in Cambridge, but I've recently realized popping over to Newtonville is so much easier (there are just as much annoying shoppers in Newton as Cambridge, FYI). Despite being priced at $5.99 per adorable carton of 7 cookies, I decided to give the Chocolate Chip variety a try -- my sweet tooth has not been appeased lately so I treated myself. I tried my first cookie at halftime of a recent Celtics-Lakers game and I was beyond pleased with my purchase! The cookies are the perfect texture -- crunchy with a bit of chewiness -- and even have my personal preference of palate-detectable salt (I am known as the "Queen of Sweet and Savory" because I can never have enough chocolate/bacon, proscuitto/melon, etc. combinations). And the best part is they truly tasted like regular chocolate chip cookies; they would pass any taste test. Although I am not a huge fan of store bought baked goods, I can't wait to try the other varieties (Gingersnap, Snickerdoodle and Double Chocolate).

Amazing Grass SuperFood Powders -- I found out about Amazing Grass products through one of my old real estate clients, whose sister is gluten intolerant and has a great blog Jackie's Kitchen. As a full canister is around $28, I tracked down some individual packets ($1.49 each) at Whole Foods to test them out. I was admittedly a bit skeptical, as I am not big into drink mixes, protein shakes, etc. But the chocolate flavor was actually quite tasty mixed with skim milk. It certainly did not taste like traditional chocolate milk as it had a distinctive "green" vegetative aftertaste, and was a bit granular. Despite following the instructions to mix the powder with an ounce of water before adding it to the milk, it still did not mix well and I found myself stirring the beverage throughout my consumption. But I overall enjoyed it and will consider buying a full container to add to my daily meal plan soon. The original green and berry flavors were also enjoyable, but not favorites.

Justin's Nut Butters -- One of the food addictions I am know for is my addiction to peanut butter. I have nearly 10 jars of peanut butter in my kitchen cabinet right now, I kid you not, mostly from the Peanut Butter Company in NYC. At the encouragement of one of my best friends, Alysa, (who in addition to her wonderful Life Beyond The Postseason blog has also started a fantastic lifestyle new blog Girl Vs. Food), I decided to try Justin's Nut Butters. And wow was she right -- it's a match made in nut butter lover heaven. Being a New Hampshire girl, I am especially a huge fan of the Maple Almond Butter flavor. My new favorite snack is a banana with almond butter -- it truly rivals peanut butter and banana as a fantastic food pairing. A great thing about Justin's Nut Butters is they are available in single serve squeeze packs in addition to jars. Not very green, but very convenient for today's on-the-go lifestyle. I definitely see myself packing these for upcoming road races, hikes, vacations and more.

Annie's Gluten-Free Rice Pasta and Cheddar -- I always try to keep a box of macaroni and cheese on hand for lazy days, rainy days or sick days (I never seem to crave it otherwise). Annie's has always been my favorite, and I was pleased to discover they offer a gluten-free variety featuring rice pasta. At $3.49 per box, it's pricier than regular macaroni and cheese (then again, it's not like anything gluten-free is at the same price point as traditional products). The main issue I have with rice pasta is that no matter how much I salt the water (I even tried olive oil, a no-no for real chefs) the pasta becomes sticky and the water becomes a cloudy, gooey mess. And somehow this stickiness seems to seep into the cheese sauce, and the finished dish is almost reminiscent of plastic. However, I tried the Trader Joe's version of gluten-free macaroni and cheese (priced at a much more reasonable $1.99 per box) and Annie's was the clear winner. I may start experimenting with my own macaroni and cheese recipes, but that will take away from the convenience factor which has me reaching for the box in the cabinet in the first place.

Additional posts this week will feature more reviews and recipes. Thanks for reading!

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