Archive for category GF Product Reviews

Trader Joe’s Gluten Free Pancake & Waffle Mix

I (finally) made my pilgrimage to Trader Joe’s to re-stock my bare pantry full of gluten free goodness.  While there, I picked up a package of TJ’s Gluten Free Pancake & Waffle Mix.   Feeling all Betty Crocker (now that she’s gluten free!), I whipped up a batch of blueberry waffles to taste test.

gluten-free-waffles

Pros:

  • Uber-simple to make.  Even those distracted by shiny things (ahem, guilty as charged!) will be able to add the three ingredients to the mix.
  • Mix is free from gluten, peanut, milk & dairy, soy, and corn.
  • Reasonably priced at $2.99 for 18-ounce package (makes 12 waffles or pancakes).
  • The package is purple – my favorite color!

Cons:

  • The cooking instructions are for waffles OR pancakes using the entire contents of the mix.  I wish they would offer instructions for 3, 6, or 12 waffles/pancakes.  Of course, you could dump out the mixture, re-measure the contents and rework the recipe, but I am mathematically challenged, so this was not an option.
  • The mix had a faint but slightly “off” odor (something I have found in many gluten free mixes).
  • I found there to be a slight aftertaste to the waffles I prepared.  It was a bit metallic tasting (not that I frequently lick metal objects, but this is the best way to describe the aftertaste).

traderjoes-gluten-free-mix

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POM-tastic! I heart Pomegranate Juice

I remember trips to our local Farmer’s Market as a little girl.  We would always bring home a brown paper bag full of ripe pomegranate fruits.  After slicing them in half, I would marvel at the ruby red seeds that looked like jewels.  Extracting the seeds took some effort, but that was definitely part of the fun!  I can still recall the burst of tartness on my tongue and my red-stained fingers.

In the last several years when the benefits of the pretty pomegranate hit the news, I rediscovered my childhood treat.  This “superfood” is packed with antioxidants and promotes heart health.  I recenlty met Janny, a blogger for POM Wonderful.  She kindly directed me to POM Wonderful’s site and the bevy of recipes that include pomegranate juice and/or seeds.  Suddenly my glass of plain ol’ juice seemed in need of a makeover!

Armed with my trusty blender, I set out to create a healthy, tasty, and filling smoothie.  What’s fantastic about smoothies is that you can customize your frozen concoction based on your favorite fruits and flavors.

POM-tastic Fruit Smoothie

1 cup POM Wonderful juice
1 cup orange juice
1 banana
1 cup frozen blueberries
1 cup mixed frozen fruit (I used a combination of melon, grapes, & peaches)
1 cup fat free plain yogurt
1 tablespoon MLO Brown Rice Protein Powder

Place all ingredients in a blender. Blend until liquefied. If smoothie is too thick, add more POM or orange juice to thin out. Makes two 8 ounce smoothies.

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Cookie Conundrum

Cookies, Cookies
Yum, Yum, Yum
Cookies, Cookies
In My Tum

This is the little impromptu ditty I sang whilst returning from Trader Joe’s (a grocery store I frequent for gluten free provisions). Why was I so excited about cookies? I had discovered a new gluten free item at my local T.J.’s: Gluten Free Peanut Butter Cookie Dough. Hot diggity dog, they are just like toll house slice and bake! Well, except for the fact that you get 12 measly cookies for $3.79. But, who cares about the price, I was stoked that I did not have to slave in the kitchen utilizing 26 types of flours in order to enjoy a tasty treat.

With great anticipation I fired up our (neglected) oven and popped in these peanut butter perfections. To up the “yum factor” even higher, I squashed a few mini Reese’s peanut butter cups and dark chocolate chips in some of the cookies. Dude, I was excited…

The cookies smelled wonderful as they cooled on the counter. Like a “real” peanut butter cookie. I tentatively took a bite and it was pure heaven. Quickly finishing the first cookie, I started on a second. I must have blacked out for a few minutes because I suddenly realized I had eaten four cookies.

Four cookies is no big deal, right?

This is where my story turns bad. Calorie counters please turn away from the screen. What I am about to share is truly dreadful. While still chewing cookie number four, I casually reached for the empty cookie carton and glanced at the nutritional information. I was speechless.

One Small Cookie = 200 calories and 12 grams of fat

Even more shocking was that In less than five minutes I had consumed 800 calories and 48 grams of fat. Oh. My. God.

Not knowing what to do (it was too late to spit out cookie number four) and feeling my clothes get tighter as I stood there, I bagged up the remaining cookies and froze them. Maybe I could eat just half of one cookie at a time?

That’s just wrong on so many levels!  Curse you Trader Joe’s for listening to my gluten free requests, but making it calorically inedible.

Ah, the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat. All in a matter of minutes.

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Watch It Wiggle

Get your minds out of the gutters people! I’m not talking about anyone’s posterior region… I’m referring to that “superfood” of childhood — JELL-O!! And I am singing the praises of a Jell-o product I happened to find during a trip to my local grocery store. My intentions were to mosey down the chip and Diet Coke aisle, but somehow I (gasp!) ended up in the BAKING aisle! Alert security, a celiac has entered Aisle 7.

Wow, did you ever realize just how much flour there actually is in the Baking Aisle? Good grief.

As you know, even the smallest thing could distract me at any given moment, so I need s-i-m-p-l-e recipes in the kitchen (and a fire extinguisher on deck just in case). While going rogue in Aisle 7, I happened upon several boxes of Jell-o No Bake Desserts. The box was practically smacking me on the forehead with their “Goof Proof 15 Minute Prep” label. Jackpot baby! Mind you, the picture on all three varieties shows a cookie crust, but something urged me to read the ingredients anyway (my hubby was watching the kids while I food shopped, so this was “me-time”). Ok, I admit food shopping is pretty lame for “me time”, but I’ll take what I can get :)

Back to the Jell-o No Bake Desserts. Jello is made by Kraft Foods. Kraft Foods is one of the first companies I sought out when I became gluten free because they clearly identify any of their products that contain a source of gluten. The Jell-o No Bake Dessert ingredients are separated into individually sealed packets based on the Crust, Filling Mix, and Topping. The product ingredients listed on the box are detailed according to Crust, Filling Mix, etc. as well. Since the cookie crust portion of the dessert was clearly not gluten free, I just threw out the packet (or you could save it for a gluten eating friend to use) and altered the recipe a bit.

Here’s my feedback:

Jell-o No Bake Peanut Butter Cup Dessert.  Oooh, these were yummy! It was like eating a giant, fluffy peanut butter cup. After discarding the Oreo Cookie Crust Mix (sigh), I put approximately half a box of Health Valley Rice Bran crackers into a ziploc bag and crushed them with a rolling pin. This would serve as my gluten free crust. The Peanut Butter Cup Filling Mix and Chocolate Topping are gluten free, so I was able to prepare them as directed. I opted for the Frozen Peanut Butter Cups recipe (using standard cupcake wrappers). Another option is to make this in an 8×8 pan. FYI, on the box there are other “Quick & Easy Variations” to the recipe such as PB&J squares and PB & Banana squares. I would totally make these again! One small but crucial word of advice, DO NOT eat more than two of these peanut butter cups in a row or you will feel uber-sick. Trust me, I am speaking from experience (ok, I ate four, but who’s counting?!)…

Jell-o No Bake Real Cheesecake Dessert. While making the first Jell-o recipe, I had used all of my Health Valley Rice Bran crackers. So, what to do for a crust bottom? I had a moment of spontaneity and (holy crap!) improvised. After melting five squares of Baker’s Semi-Sweet Baking Chocolate, I drizzled enough chocolate to cover the bottom of all 24 mini-cupcake wrappers. Again, the Filling Mix was gluten free, so I prepared that per the directions. During this time, I popped the chocolate-bottomed cupcake wrappers into the fridge to harden. After adding the cheesecake filling, I topped these with fresh blueberries. The result — these were tasty but really messy! The cheesecake filling was light and airy, not dense like your “typical” NY style cheesecake.  I think a cookie crust would work much better. Unfortunately, the chocolate base melted as soon as you took the cheesecake out of the wrapper. Despite refrigerating the cheesecakes per the instructions (and even putting them in the freezer as well!), they were very gooey. On a positive note, the mini-cupcake wrappers worked perfectly for this recipe as you were able to delicately shove the entire thing in your mouth in one fell swoop (classy, huh?). I would like to try making this again (they were a huge hit with my family!), possibly using a pie plate instead of the mini cups.

At a price of $2.99 to $3.99 per box, the Jell-o No Bake Desserts are an easy, reasonably priced dessert. With just a little tweaking you can make it gluten free and proudly declare some Jell-o love (thanks Mr. Cosby!).

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