Dark Chocolate Almonds Snack Pack

Always on the lookout for a shelf stable gluten free snack choice… Saw this small bag of dark chocolate almonds at Walmart. Not generally where I shop for groceries…but there I was and there it was. On a shelf on the edge of the produce department, right next to dried fruit items.  It was only like $1.29 for two ounces so I picked up one to try. It is just whole almonds dipped in dark chocolate. Made by Orchard Valley Harvest located in Illinois.  15 grams of sugar, 5 of dietary fiber, no sodium, 24 grams of fat.  I didn’t gobble the whole thing; ate like 4-5 almonds at a sitting so I got at least 3 or 4 servings.  I didn’t find it to raise my blood sugar much and I enjoyed the crunch of the almonds against the dark, almost bitter chocolate flavor. Delish and definitely worth getting again.  Only wish it came in a bigger bag.  Opps; while looking around for pictures I found that it does come in a 14 ounce size. Next time!   dark chocolate almonds

FYI: I have been blogging for just over five years, first on Patch and then on WordPress.  Recently I upgraded my blog to remove advertisements that WordPress puts up and to give me more storage space. Moving on up!

I still enjoy the process of writing my blog posts and plan to continue for the foreseeable future. I write about new recipes I have made, new products I have tried out, restaurants I have eaten at or my struggle to find gluten free foods that are healthy and yummy. Occasionally I have to whine and vent about my life but mostly I am just so thankful to be healthier and to have good food for my meals. I am not much for pre-made foods so you will find many posts with recipes and not so many product reviews for readi-made entrees.  I also try to cook and eat low sugar when it comes to dessert. I eat most produce seasonally and I eat a wide variety of veggies and fruits. Often my snack is a fruit; ;this afternoon I had a tiny tangerine and after work half a ripe pear. They are like my candy; sweet and juicy. I crave the fresh!!

Thank you for tuning in and reading my posts on my gluten free life style. I enjoy writing, enjoy cooking and sure do enjoy eating tasty food. Most of my recipes are pretty easy. Before I went gf I ate a lot of snack bars and junk food.  I have cut back severely on that stuff. My body feels better for eating healthy choices and that makes me feel better in general.  Everything I post I have either cooked myself or eaten something I bought. No one pays me to post stuff, I am totally independent and honest about anything I report on here. I love good food; just hate eating crappy tasting so if I give you a recipe it is gonna taste great.  Enjoy!

Kitchen Sink Energy Cookies

Always on the lookout for tasty, low sugar, gluten free snacks I made these kitchen sink cookies the other day. It was not a gf recipe but I made it so with a few adjustments and additions to suit my taste.  I used half sunflower seed butter and half chunky peanut butter. This produced a faint peanut buttery taste which I liked: I didn’t have that much sunflower seed butter on hand. They are fairly interchangeable in baking cookies. I used blueberry flavored dried cranberries. They are just one of the many flavors in these yummy treats. I suggest you can swap things out for similar quantities of additions. Or leave something out that you don’t care for.  They blend remarkably well into a delightfully tender result. I was delighted that they were not heavy from all those trail mix sort of ingredients. One cookie is just enough to hold me for a while until an actual mealtime is there…keeps the blood sugar fairly level.

I froze most of them for future enjoyment. I wouldn’t freeze for more than 2-3 months.

kitchen sink cookies

Trail Mix Cookies

Yield:  2 ½ dozen

Ingredients:

1 cup sunflower seed butter or half cup each of that and peanut butter

1 cup sweetened flaked coconut

½ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

½ cup packed brown sugar

½ cup dried cranberries

½ cup dates, chopped, I chopped whole soft dried figs

¼ cup sunflower seeds or slivered almonds (I used almonds)

½ cup raisins

¼ cup maple syrup

1 extra large egg

½ tsp vanilla

1/2 cup gf flour mix (I used King Arthur Basic Mix)

1/2 tsp baking soda

¼ tsp salt

1-2 Tbsp. chopped crystalized ginger (optional)

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350⁰F.  Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper or silicon liners.

Place all of the ingredients together in the bowl of a stand mixer. Mix on medium speed until the ingredients are well incorporated. Drop generous tablespoons of dough onto cookie sheets or. Bake for 12—14 minutes until cookies are set, but still soft.  Remove from the oven and let cool on the cookie sheet.  Store in airtight cookie jar or freeze in appropriate freezer containers; for no more than 3 months. Enjoy!

Great GF Pretzels;Gotta Travel!

I buy gluten free pretzels at Giant and at Aldi’s.  Both are okay but a tad too crunchy and hard for my tastes but I crunch on as I sure miss pretzels. Did get some awesome milk chocolate covered gf pretzels at Aldi’s early this fall, keep looking for them….no luck. Not until my sisters went to Queen’s Nut Shoppe in Allentown did I find some really great gf pretzels.  They are small and in the traditional twisted shape. Made by Gratify Foods in Israel. Yeap, you got that right! Made overseas in the country of Israel, go figure. They are of course parve… About $4 for 14.1 ounces (400g): a good price for gluten free pretzels and called Sea Salt Twists. I live in eastern Pennsylvania, home to Utz Pretzels (my old pretzel love) and Philly pretzels as well as a few other tasty pretzel brands.  This is pretzel country! But, no one local (read Pennsylvania) makes a decent gf version, so…to get delicious gluten free ones; head to Queen’s Nut Shoppe (a health food store) in the eastern side of Allentown, not far off of Union Blvd. if you want to try these addictive little treats. My favorite way is to dip them in peanut butter; just a tiny dab. Ahh pretzel heaven is mine!

Update: the Wegmans on 248 near Nazareth has them too!pretzels

Banana Blueberry Muffins

The other day I was thinking of making banana nut muffins…short one banana.  So I added blueberries to make enough fruit.  An instant classic!

I know, they look just like a banana muffin but they have a secret inside, juicy flavorful blueberries! The streusel topping looks gorgeous and adds an extra layer of flavor.  There are walnuts in them to so you get some really great nutrients from the fruit and nuts.  You can swap the white sugar for coconut palm sugar which is very low as far as raising blood sugar; important if you are pre-diabetic as I am.   I did add an extra tbsp. of milk because of the coconut palm sugar. They come out slightly darker if you use that special sugar.  banana blueberry muffin 002

I love how healthy these muffins are and the convenience of freezing most of them for use as daily snacks.  They defrost during the morning and are ready just when I need a pick me up. It’s great how being gluten free can be so yummy and easy when you plan ahead and bake your own snack treats. I freeze all muffins I won’t eat in two days time; a zip lock freezer bag works great.

Banana Blueberry Streusel Muffins

2 cups brown rice flour mix (see below)

2/3 cup granulated coconut palm sugar or granulated sugar

1 tbsp. baking powder

1 tsp. baking soda

¾ tsp. xanthan gum

¼ tsp. salt

1/2 tsp cinnamon

¾ cup mashed bananas

1/2 cup fresh or frozen blueberries

1/3 cup chopped walnuts

2 large eggs

½ cup milk, 1 or 2 percent plus 1-2 tbsp more if using the palm sugar

½ cup canola oil

Topping: Mix the following in a bowl, make sure the butter is in tiny pebbles; use your fingertips to blend.

½ cup rolled oats

¼ cup brown sugar

2 tbsp. almond meal

1½ tbsp. butter

¼ tsp. cinnamon

——-

Directions: Heat your oven to 350 degrees, placing the rack in middle of oven.  Spray muffin pans with cooking spray.  One batch makes 14-16 muffins.  I got 16 when I made them.

Mix all dry ingredients in bowl of stand mixer or big bowl. Add fruits and walnuts; stir to coat them with dry mix.  Combine milk and oil.  Add liquids and eggs to big bowl; stir just until fully blended.  It is a very thick batter.  I like to let it stand ten minutes to allow the batter to thicken; makes a better and higher muffin.

Fill muffin pans 2/3 full.  I use a big serving spoon and fill it about half way to dump batter into each muffin space. Sprinkle the top with the topping. Press it in a bit so it won’t all flake off after baking. Bake 21-23 min until golden brown. Do not over bake or they will taste dry.  Let stand 6 or 7 minute and then remove from the pans and cool on a rack. I often use a fork to help pry them out; the streusel can get stuck on the edges to the muffin tin.  They freeze well for a few weeks, if they last that long.  Keeps in fridge (well wrapped) or an airtight cookie jar for 2-3 days.

Brown Rice Flour Mix base mix 

(This mix is the same as King Arthur’s gf blend)
2 c brown rice flour

2/3 c potato starch

1/3 c tapioca flour

Fruit & Veggie Bars: Refreshing

 

Hot, yeap it is July and it is HOT in Pennsylvania and most of the USA.  Sometimes a chilly treat is in order.  I found these fruit and veggie pops in my grocery store; made by Outside, part of Nestle.  Not a lot to them, mostly fruit and veggie puree or juice reconstituted from concentrate, some sugar, not much else.  Flavors are Strawberry rhubarb, Tangerine medley and Blueberry medley. They have from 34 to 40 calories and from 5-15 mg of sodium.  The ingredients vary so the amount of vitamins varies too from 4-20 percent of daily need for vitamin A, 15% of vitamin C and the tangerine has 10 % of your daily vitamin K.  There is a small amount of fiber; 2-3% of daily requirement. 9 g of sugar.  Not much else in there: no fat or cholesterol. The juice/puree includes: apple, pear, strawberry, rhubarb, blueberry, pear, tangerine, sweet potato, pumpkin, passion fruit, carrot, beet, lemon and raspberry.

fruit and veggie bars

I find them refreshing, light, and vastly better than a sugary fruit pop that often contains minimal fruit juice.  They are not too sweet but not sour either. Not really tasting like any vegetables.  The puree doesn’t taste thick or heavy; blends in perfectly.  Adds a slightly different flavor to the fruit. Guilt free in my book.  Twelve to a box for about $4 which is a great deal to my thinking.  They also have a version that is just fruit; no veggies.  Bet they are tasty too! fruit bars

Banana Chip Snafu

A few weeks ago I bought a bag of banana chips at Aldi’s, one of my favorite shopping places. I never got around to them until the other day, home recovering from a twenty four hour stomach bug.  The thing is, if you have celiac, you tend to take a bit longer to get over that which used to be 24 hours.  One’s tummy just doesn’t rebound like it used to.  More time, lighter fair and less stress are called for.  So banana chips seemed like a suitable snack.  I ate a lot of them.  And within an hour I was fairly ill with that familiar burning pain of being glutened.  It isn’t the same as a tummy ache.  Just to be clear, not the same area nor the same feeling.  Not fun.

banana chips

After several days for my digestive system to recover from the setback I am mostly better this week, finally back to exercising, and almost able to eat as before although it will be a few more days before I attempt anything too spicy!  Learned my lesson…the packaging didn’t say gluten free.  It didn’t list wheat or any type of gluten on the package.  Nor did it say processed on equipment that processed wheat.  But somehow it had been cross contaminated and that was a real shame for my health and my peace of mind.  I had been feeling so comfortable with Aldi’s foods.  Now I need to re think them and make more careful choices.  I won’t stop shopping there but no more banana chips and I suggest you avoid them if you have celiac disease. If you suffer from it as I do, you know how easily we can become ill from a tiny amount of gluten.  It is no exaggeration but hard reality. So be cautious when you are snacking and look for that gf label folks. There are lots of safe snacks available from fresh produce to homemade snacks and store bought processed items.  Just read the packages and be safe.

GF Product Review Roundup

 

Finally I got to try the much vaunted Canyon Bakehouse  7 Grain bread.  It looked kinda small when I pulled the loaf from the Wegman’s freezer case.  No matter, it is the taste that matters I thought as I yanked out a bag of Against the Grain sesame bagels.  There were already a few new crackers in my pantry that are being tested…and eaten. Comments below.Canyon bakehouse 7 G bread

Later that day I made a slice of the bread, toasted and half butter and half with homemade lemon marmalade.  It was small but tasty.  Maybe the best store bread I have had but not earth shatteringly good.  I was somehow expecting to feel just that OMG taste after reading reviews and comments on it. But, I wasn’t blown away.  I have made gf multigrain bread that tasted as good if not better.  So I now feel okay about my own baking; it doesn’t have to be a huge slice to be successful.  Nor is the flavor of my own bread lacking in comparison. I just prefer homemade.  No preservatives. And I get the pleasure of mixing up my dough and of smelling it bake.  Not saying this was bad bread, not at all.  Just that my homemade is comparable and I am not missing a lot by making my own.

againstthe grain bagelsSecond item; the bagel.  I had bought Utz gf bagels long ago and was not impressed, they were like an old stiff sponge and had minimal flavor.  This bagel; it is more open and has more flavor.  Very light in weight and lots of holes; sort of like airy French bread as a bagel.  I made homemade bagels last year and they were better in the chew department especially when really fresh.  Still, it was hugely appealing to have a toasted bagel with no effort.

skinny quinoa sticks

Third item; A huge bag of Skinny Quinoa Sticks given to me a while ago by a friend.  They are sweet onion flavor and made with ancient grains per the label.  Only 140 calories per serving and incredibly crunchy and rather addictive. Can’t eat just one, or ten.  Yumm!  I think she got them at Sam’s Club or Costco.  Big bag, still eating. Not stale and not tired of them.

hummus crackersFourth item: Hummus crackers by Mediterranean Snacks, roasted garlic flavor. Thin, crisp and mild.  Made with garbanzo beans and pretty edible if not outstanding.  I believe they were from Aldi’s. Their bland flavor will not compete with your dip or cheese.  They are somewhat delicate; break easily if used to dip; say in hummus. Great with guacamole

breton crackers

Fourth item: Breton gf crackers.  I tested the black bean and found it tasty, very delicate meaning it kept breaking in half just getting a cracker out of the box but somehow I kept wanting yet one more.  I have another box not opened yet but a friend says it is a super great cracker, can’t wait to crack that box…

rye bread and cassoulet 022

In conclusion, I liked all of the above but really loved the Skinny Quinoa sticks and I did enjoy both the convenience and the flavor of the bagels and breads.  I use these crackers with cheese, guac, hummus and all on their own. All worthwhile to purchase.  Still, I just made scratch “rye” bread this afternoon and am blown away by the flavor and crust.  Homemade is best in my book!