My coworkers are always eager to volunteer to be my official Gluten-Free Hot Products taste testers. I love when they pitch in with a review, especially because they tend to be more inventive when it comes to tasting the products. I tend to try the products as-is, to get the full taste of the product. My coworkers, however, always have an idea to jazz up any food that comes through the NFCA door.
As predicted, the ladies of the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness (NFCA) were excited to try out Rudi’s Gluten-Free Bakery Ciabatta Rolls. My plan was to defrost the rolls as directed and dip it in my vegetable soup that I eat just about every day. Claire Baker, NFCA’s Director of Communications and New Media, had a better idea. She recruited myself, NFCA Patient Education Manager Rachel Rieger and Director of Development Kimberly Moyer to do a double product review – Rudi’s Gluten-Free Ciabatta Rolls topped with Cabot Creamery Co-Op cheeses.
I’ll start with the Ciabatta Rolls. Claire popped a few into our dedicated gluten-free toaster oven. We tried the Plain Ciabatta Rolls and the Rosemary Olive Oil Ciabatta Rolls. As they were nearing completion, we started to wonder if the rolls would be too hard to eat. From poking the top of the rolls (a truly scientific method), it seemed as if that would be the case. We cut the rolls, however, and were so excited to find a fluffy inside that wasn’t dense in the least. I went on to dip my Rosemary Olive Oil Ciabatta Roll in my soup as planned, loving the initial crunch of the Ciabatta Roll, followed by a warm, soft inside. The rolls left nothing to be desired and are very comparable to gluten-containing ciabatta rolls. Since ciabatta rolls tend to be on the smaller side anyway, it didn’t feel like eating a mini version of an old favorite food.
My coworkers opted to melt the Cabot Creamery Co-Op Cheese on top of the rolls. The New York Extra Sharp Cheddar Cheese added a kick to the Plain Ciabatta Rolls and the Mild Cheddar paired well with the flavors of the Rosemary Olive Oil. We love Cabot Creamery Cheese at the NFCA office and recommend their products to people who can tolerate dairy. Their products are delicious! Plus, we love that the products come from 1,200 dairy farm families located in New York and New England, just north of the NFCA headquarters in Philadelphia.
So what’s the final result of our taste test? You have to try the Ciabatta Rolls and Cabot Creamery Cheese. Just think how delicious these will be as a sandwich made from your Thanksgiving turkey leftovers!
I love everything about snack bars. They’re great for that 3 p.m. pick-me-up, a snack before dinner, the kids’ lunchboxes, an emergency option for your desk drawer… the list goes on. Certified gluten-free Breeze Bars meet all the requirements for a good snack bar – including great taste and non-crumbly texture.
There’s a Breeze Bar for every palate; Original Peanut Crunch (my favorite), Chocolate Cranberry, Maple Almond, Cocoa Espresso and Nut-Free Sunflower. The bars are pretty sturdy and won’t fall into pieces when you peel open the wrapper – an important characteristic of any good snack bar, gluten-free or not. Breeze Bars have a unique flavor that combines the crunch of crispy brown rice with a mild sweetness that will satisfy your sweet tooth without over-doing it. Despite their crispy brown rice ingredients, the bars manage to pull off a somewhat chewy texture that reminds me of the classic Quaker Chewy Granola Bars (which are not gluten-free).
Athletes in particular will be pleased with the taste, texture and nutritional punch packed into each Breeze Bar. In fact, Breeze Bars were developed by registered dietitian Breeze Brown, who began to make the snacks when her younger sister was diagnosed with celiac disease. She began to share the bars with her athletic friends, who were happy with the taste and even more thrilled that bars sat lightly in their stomachs and didn’t weigh them down.
Whether you’re an athlete, looking for a healthy snack or are just into great tasting gluten-free options, Breeze Bars are worth a try in my book. For those of you who deal with dairy issues, too, you’ll be happy to know that all Breeze Bars are dairy-free as well. Learn more about them at www.breezebars.com.
Introducing Snack Out Loud Gluten-Free Crunchy Bean Snacks! These little guys are loaded with protein, fiber and important nutrients like magnesium, B-vitamins, iron – and a whole lot of flavor.
When the bean snacks arrived at the office, the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness (NFCA) team was eager to give them a try. The different varieties – Tomato Basil, Lightly Salted, Jalapeño and Cheddar, Ranch, and Smoky Chipotle BBQ – were tasted by various team members. As you can imagine, we all have different opinions on the flavors.
The Ranch flavor was favored by Rachel Rieger, NFCA’s Patient Education Manager. The Ranch was among my favorite flavors as well. The beans were flavorful, but not overbearing and were super tasty as a crunchy addition to my lunchtime salad. These were also quite snack-able on their own; served in a family pack or an individual portion, these disappeared from the NFCA kitchen faster than the other flavors.
Close runner-ups included the Jalapeño and Cheddar and the Lightly Salted varieties. The Snack Out Loud website suggests using the Jalapeño and Cheddar as a coating for garlic string beans (and boy do they look awesome!). These packed a punch, but probably are not suited for those who don’t like a kick of heat in their snacks. I love spicy food, so these were perfect for me.
Kristin Voorhees, NFCA’s Director of Healthcare Initiatives, compared the Lightly Salted variety to snacking on nuts – a handful provides that same satisfying crunch without overdoing it on the calories.
Surprisingly, the bean snacks have a lot of different uses, other than just snacking on them right out of the bag. The Snack Out Loud website has a variety of different recipes, including one for Tomato Basil Corn on the Cob (I would have never thought to try that!). The snacks are certified gluten-free and while they are only available in stores in the Rocky Mountain Region and select west coast stores, they are available to anyone on Amazon.com and AbesMarket.com.
Check out the Snack Out Loud site for more information on the products. Be sure to double check the recipes to ensure all ingredients are gluten-free.
By Claire Baker, NFCA Director of Communications and New Media
I love any excuse to make cupcakes. Maybe it’s because it reminds me of being a kid. Maybe it’s because I know exactly how many people I can share a treat with. Maybe because it’s sort of an enforced portion control — there’s no way to get a bigger piece of cake that way! Maybe it’s because it really lights up my 10-year-old son Scott, who comes in to help mix, pour and clean-up (otherwise known as licking the bowl) when he sees me getting the baking stuff out. This weekend, Scott and I made the gluten-free, dairy-free vanilla cupcakes from the Thai Kitchen recipe the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness (NFCA) team shared on CeliacCentral.org.
I have celiac disease and I have a number of friends who can’t or don’t eat dairy products, so I’m always on the lookout for interesting options to keep us all happy. I’m also the only gluten-free member of my 4-person household, and if I’m going to make 2 dozen cupcakes, they better appeal to the whole crew or else I’ll have to shop for bigger pants.
The cupcakes mixed up easily and made exactly 24 normal-sized cupcakes just as the recipe said it would (when does that happen?). They stayed pretty light in color, so it was a good thing that I followed the suggested baking time and tested with a toothpick, or I probably would have over-baked them.
On this recipe, I used my favorite baking hack — silicone cupcake cups instead of cupcake papers. I have two dozen silicone cups and they are only for our gluten-free baking. I’ve found that too much cupcake or muffin gets left behind in paper cupcake cups. With the silicone cups, the food pops out easily. I think these cupcakes would have done fine in paper liners though — they were moist and left little residue on the silicone, a good sign that they would have not stuck to the paper. (If you are taking cupcakes to an event and want to leave the cupcakes in their liner, my second favorite hack is to use foil ones.)
I cut the frosting recipe in half. I have to admit, I usually cheat here too and don’t make my own frosting, so I was a little apprehensive about using a whole box of confectioners sugar and a cup of non-dairy spread. I suppose I don’t think too hard about what goes into frosting from a can! At any rate, I decided that I could frost just half the batch and leave the others naked as a nod to calorie reduction. It turned out that half as much frosting was plenty. It was thinner than store-bought frosting, so I actually took the cupcakes and dipped them in the frosting bowl to give them a little frosting hat, sort of like the picture from the original Thai Kitchen recipe. I suppose to make it thicker I would need to use less liquid, but these were actually fine.
The family and I ate some right away, and they got the thumbs up from both my beloved gluten-eaters and from me. The Thai Kitchen Coconut Milk helped keep them rich, yet light in the absence of dairy. And no, they didn’t taste like coconut, but they were distinctive in a good way. We came up with some clever innovations to try for next time — maybe add coconut shavings to the frosting to bring out the coconut flavor; reduce the oil and sugar and mix in a mashed banana and maybe some nuts for banana nut muffins; add chocolate chips or do chocolate frosting… If you are a baker too, you know how that goes.
I refrigerated some and froze some so I could take them to the NFCA office to share for later in the week. They were good cold too. (So much for portion control!). I think I actually liked the frosting better chilled. They thawed just fine — no one would be able to know you’d done them ahead of time. You could also make a batch, freeze them, then throw them as needed into your kid’s lunchbox. They’d be thawed by lunch. You’d have treats for days.
Give ‘em a try! You’ll want to have a gluten-free, dairy-free Thai Kitchen coconut milk cupcake recipe in your baking arsenal too. You can also check out Thai Kitchen’s website for more great ways to incorporate coconut milk into your recipes.
Have you already tried out Thai Kitchen coconut milk? Tell us how you use it on our Facebook page.
As always, there were lots of great gluten-free finds shared on the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness (NFCA) Facebook page this weekend. It seems like a lot of people spent their weekends baking delicious-looking gluten-free treats. Some folks were even kind enough to share their gluten-free recipes, so if you’re looking for inspiration, be sure to check out the “What was your best gluten-free find this weekend?” post on our page from Sunday, September 14.
Here’s the weekly run-down of most-mentioned gluten-free products:
- Aldi’s Live G-Free Gluten-Free White Bread
- Udi’s Gluten-Free Bagels
- Tyson Gluten-Free Chicken Breast Strips
- Glutino Gluten-Free English Muffins
- Annie’s Rice Pasta & Cheddar Mac & Cheese
Talk to you all on Sunday at 7:45 p.m. EDT!
Here’s your weekly run down of the most mentioned gluten-free products on NFCA’s Facebook page!
In no particular order…
- Snyder’s of Hanover Honey Mustard & Onion Gluten-Free Pretzel Sticks (a personal favorite!)
- Gluten-Free Cafe Chicken Noodle Soup
- Gluten-Free Goldfish Puffs
- Smart Food White Cheddar Popcorn
- Walmart Great Value Brand Chocolate Chip Cookies (These are certified by the NFCA-endorsed Gluten-Free Certification Program.)
See you guys on Sunday at 7:45 p.m. ET on Facebook! Can’t wait for the next round of gluten-free finds!
- Alicia, NFCA Communications Assistant
Gluten-free cookies are fairly easy to come by these days, but I still get excited to try the latest cookies to hit the market – 1) because who doesn’t love cookies? and 2) it’s fun to taste them as they evolve and become closer to the traditional gluten-containing cookies you remember (and maybe still crave).
Ginny Bakes Chocolate Chip Love cookies are certified gluten-free, organic and kosher, but they do contain dairy, egg and soy. The cookies have a smooth chocolate-y taste and are made with dark chocolate chips, which I think gives them a deliciously unique flavor. The cookies are a tad on the crumbly side, so they would be perfect crumbled on top of an ice cream sundae or used in place of graham crackers in an ice box cake (I have no idea if ice box cake is a thing outside of my own family, but it’s basically layers of pudding separated by graham crackers).
You can check out Ginny Bakes Chocolate Chip Love cookies here. Have you tried any of the Ginny Bakes cookies? What did you think?
Last week, we shared the top 5 products that were mentioned multiple times on our Sunday Facebook post that asked, “What was your best gluten-free find this weekend?” We received lots of requests to keep this recap going, so here it is!
And, the most-mentioned gluten-free products were…
- Canyon Bakehouse Gluten-Free Bread
- Barilla Gluten-Free Pasta (A personal favorite! I once made their spaghetti for a gluten-eating friend and he didn’t know the difference.)
- Tonya’s Gluten-Free Pretzels
- Go Picnic Ready-to-Eat Meals (Not all Go Picnic products are gluten-free, so don’t forget to check the label)
- Enjoy Life Soft Baked Snickerdoodle Cookies
Also worth mentioning is Walmart’s new gluten-free line, certified by the NFCA-endorsed Gluten-Free Certification Program (GFCP). Seems like our community members are finding new places to shop for the gluten-free grocery list items!
See you next week!
The new Maya Kaimal Chickpea Chips disappeared quickly from the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness (NFCA) kitchen. I find that many of the potato chip alternatives made from veggies and other healthier ingredients still tend to maintain that potato chip taste. These chips weren’t similar to traditional potato chips, but once I stopped expecting them to be, I really enjoyed the flavor.
As you can tell by the name, the chips do have a strong chickpea taste. If you’re not into chickpeas, these probably aren’t the chips for you. I, on the other hand, love chickpeas (I usually toss them into a salad), so after a few chips, I decided that I liked the chickpea chips too.
These chips come in three varieties: Sweet Chili, Lightly Salted and Seeded Multigrain. The Sweet Chili was by far my favorite. They lived up to their name; the first few bites were sweet and tasty, followed by a slow-developing heat. You can do more than just snack on these chips as-is (although, that’s great too!). They were thick enough to hold the weight of cheese slices from Cabot Creamery and I’m sure they could handle a thick salsa or guacamole dip, too.
Maya Kaimal Chickpea Chips are certified gluten-free and are also vegan. You can learn more about the chips and order online here.
Every Sunday, the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness (NFCA) tosses out a question to our Facebook community: What was your best gluten-free find this weekend? And, every weekend without fail, we get loads of responses from people who are finding new products or experimenting with their own recipes in the kitchen. If you don’t have time to read through the whopping 350+ comments, don’t worry! We’re bringing you the 5 most commonly mentioned products from Sunday, August 24, 2014.
And now, the products! In no particular order…
- Chex Gluten-Free Oatmeal
- Perdue Gluten-Free Chicken Tenders
- Van’s Gluten-Free “Say Cheese” Crackers
- Breton Gluten-Free Crackers (these are actually certified gluten-free by the NFCA-endorsed Gluten-Free Certification Program!)
- Evol Foods Gluten-Free Uncured Bacon Mac & Cheese
Like NFCA on Facebook and be sure to keep an eye out for our post every Sunday. We know you’ll find some new favorites!