Aldi’s Brownie Mix vs Scratch GF Brownies

Box mixes are generally not my favorites for baking as they can be full of stuff I don’t want to ingest like excess salt, sugar and fats. So I rarely buy them. But recently I bought a gf brownie mix from Aldi’s for less than two bucks. It can be used for chocolate chocolate chip cookies but I made the classic brownies with my box. They came out very tasty. The flavor is that of very dark chocolate and the texture is extra fudgy. They were easy to make and even non celiacs enjoyed their fudgy goodness. brownie mix I tried something different and had my last brownie with flakes of pink Himalayan sea salt on top. The fat ones are the best for this. I do have a big jar of fine grind pink salt from Aldi’s which is great for most uses but not for this; go big and flaky.  I happen to like chocolate with sea salt so I reasoned this could work too and it did. Very nice contrast; try it sometime!

Still, I personally like the scratch brownies I usually make much more as they have the perfect balance between cakey and fudgy. I use top end baking chocolate which gives a superior result. So they rein supreme as the best gluten free brownies I have tasted. Frankly they are even better than my old wheat flour brownies.  Here is the link to my brownie recipe made with the gf flour blend I prefer; King Arthur’s All Purpose GF flour blend: https://myworldwithoutwheat.com/2018/02/14/brownies-to-love/  If you want a great Valentine’s Day treat I suggest this recipe; super easy, super fast and super yummy. They also stay fresh longer than any gf cake I have made.  Tomorrow will be snowy here in eastern PA. Perfect day for baking a sweet treat! Enjoy!

Pancetta and Parmesan Cheese Kettle Chips….Yes…I went there!

I bought something this week that I never buy, never. Potato chips…shocking  breach of my personal rules but these were something special; pancetta and Parmesan cheese kettle chips from Aldi’s.  Damn. they are good! So crispy and I can definitely taste the cheese and the pancetta. Not overly strong; perfect balance of porkiness, cheesy and greasy (I find all chips kinda greasy) – a total flavor explosion of crunch and munch.

The usual (more or less) amount of carbs, not too much sodium per serving and no trans fats. One gram of saturated fat per serving.

Just have to say, these chips are freaking addictive. I could eat the whole bag but I am rationing them as chips are totally not on my diet.

kettle chips

They are so good I almost didn’t want to tell you about them. Keep every darn bag for myself! Decided that wasn’t possible so I bit the bullet and am telling you. Guessing they are limed edition as many treats at Aldi’s are so run out immediately and get a bag or two. Or three.

They also have some with rosemary and balsamic vinegar. Gotta get a bag of that!

Darn Good GF Pizza You can Bake at Home

Sometimes you just need a pizza! And there is time to make a crust or grate cheese or any of that. Just a decent gluten free pizza, that’s all I’m asking…but, not that easy unless you are willing to pay about $13-16 for the same or even a smaller size that is half the price for regular wheat flour-based pizza!  Major bummer. But, fret not, Aldi’s to the rescue; they had some by Mama Cozzie in the refrigerator case. I got a pepperoni and mott pizza to test it; $6…not a bad price!  Baked it two days later; put the cold pie directly on hot oven shelf as requested.  In 11-13 minutes it is done; let it cool 2-3 minutes! Otherwise, it is a wicked way to burn your mouth.

aldi pizza box

I should admit I doctored it up with some dried basil and oregano, garlic powder and store grated parmesan cheese. It was so good; thin crust. Great flavor from the pepperoni and the add-ons I sprinkled over it deepen ed the flavor significantly. So I am definitely getting it next time I see – the package says you can freeze it; so maybe buy a few and freeze all but one.

aldi pizza slice

So that’s a big yes to this Mama Cozzie pizza; about 15 inches in diameter unbaked. It says 4 servings but unless they are small kids it is really more like 3. Great quick lunch or worry-free Friday night meal. Add a salad and you are eating healthyish!

Bratwursts From Aldi’s are the Best!

This post is an addendum to my buckwheat crepe post of the other day. I neglected to tell you how delish the bratwurst were in my crepe wrap entree. I bought the package of 4 uncured Bavarian bratwurst at Aldi’s. They were kinda pale and unexciting looking in the shrink wrap but when I pan fried them in a bit of olive oil they browned up nicely. Each brat was still juicy and tender with a delicate flavor I was very impressed with. bratwurst

 

I have bought brats before at other grocery stores and found them rather dull and pedestrian. These are thinner, longer and far tastier.  bratwurst packageUncured means they have less junk added in the curing process of many sausages.  Definitely a yummy and healthyish choice for sausage in any recipe. They cook in about ten minutes.  And grilling them is on the package as an alternative to the frying pan. Next time I will try them on my grill. Maybe for camping…

They are imported from Germany so I am guessing they are very authentic compared to stuff made in the USA. I give these an A plus in every category. Enjoy!

Aldi’s Update January 2018

When I see something on facebook that seems problematic for my life, rather than complain…I investigate.  I saw this post which said that Aldi’s wasn’t carrying gluten free foods anymore.  Not something I want in the least. So I contacted the company via their website and was happy to receive a prompt email reply.  They are not ending their line of gluten free foods, just ending labeling things that are naturally gluten free.

I wrote again with a follow up email asking why they keep discontinuing popular things like the tiny orange gf cheddar crackers or their chocolate covered gf pretzels. Today I spoke with a representative who had left me a voice message yesterday to give Aldi’s a call. I was a bit excited thinking they were going to give me some good news on gf products I was missing.  Alas, she listened but talked only a bit and gave no reason why they discontinue things so often. Just repeated that such is their policy. I told her that I have resorted to buying chocolate covered gf pretzels else where but that the Aldi brand  tastes superior and is cheaper so why are they making such a contrary decision: to only offer them once or twice a  year. She had no answer for me but said she would convey my suggestions to the powers that be. Not particularly satisfying…but I did get to voice my issue to an actual representative of Aldi’s. Still, not all that comforting as I am longing for those crisp and tasty cheddar crackers… cheddar crackers

 

Snacky Treats Recently Taste Tested

I love it when friends give me new gf products to try.  This week I am sharing two treats that were gifts and three snacks I bought myself.  First up: Tate’s Bake Shop Gf Chocolate chip cookies.  They are 7 oz in a waxed paper bag and in two plastic bags in a plastic tray inside.  I found them to be large, thin, crisp and somewhat addictive.  For those of us who adore chocolate chip cookies, anyway! I believe they came from Giant Grocery Store. I give these cookies a 4.5 on my zero to five scale.  Leaving room for homemade cookies; mine are a 5; see my blog post on chocolate chipperscrunchy-rice-sticks

tates-cookies

 

 

 

 

Second item is Crunchy Rice Sticks; round columns; 3.2 ounces and 8 sticks to a bag.  Fairly bland but not bad at all has rice syrup to hold it together and render them faintly sweet; the sticks are about an inch in diameter and five inches in length.  Great crunch and low calories: 50 to a stick!  I think they came from Giant.

Next up: Cashew Brittle from Aldi’s.  Not my favorite.  Way too sweet for me and not that much cashew in them.  Still, if you like cashews and sweets this might be up your alley.  Made by Crazy Candy Company.  7 ounce bag.

skinny-pop

Popcorn aisle: Skinny Pop Dusted Dark Chocolate Popcorn.  Non GMO, GF, 43 calories per cup.  I believe I found this at Giant Foods. Decent tasting if slightly drab: I have been spoiled by the drizzled with chocolate popcorn I found at Aldi’s this fall.  Now that was freaking amazing!  Can’t find it at present; hopeful it will return to the stores very soon.  There is a drizzled with chocolate and white sugar topped popcorn at Giant but it was a very small bag for nearly $4.  Crazy price for that itty bitty bag.  Time to research and product test my own homemade drizzled popcorn!

 

Final product: Veggie & Flaxseed Corn Tortilla Chips.  They were pretty decent; 10 oz bag purchased at Aldi’s; store brand chips.  Organic and in several colors and flavors although they tasty pretty much alike.  Good with a dollop of hummus.  Salsa works too.  Only thing is, I re-read the label and they are manufactured in a facility that also uses wheat products.  Rethinking this one….bummer.veggie-chips

 

I don’t recommend eating gf snacks all day long but some of these are fairly healthy and not that expensive.  We all enjoy a bit of a treat.  Enjoy!

Time to End Cross Contamination on GF Labeled Foods

As much as I love Aldi’s (See my last two posts!) I have a peeve with them and also with Trader Joe’s.  I ate some mini edemame chips a friend gave me last week, the packet said GF on it  When I got done I went back and read that it was made on a processing line that might have had contact with wheat.  Gross as I had eaten the whole bag over a few days snacking.  Not the first time that has happened.  When people give me gifts that say GF on them I tend to have my guard down and feel safe to consume.  Not a good situation.  Happened with those pea pod snap crackers a few months ago too…

This sort of issue is pretty common at both Aldi’s and Trader Joe’s. Many times I put food items back on the shelf after scanning the package and finding words of shared processing equipment. I can’t buy much of their nuts, dried fruits or seeds due to the shared equipment.  Most of them don’t say GF on them but honestly, I expect a jar of plain roasted peanuts or plain almonds to be GF, not to mention dried fruit.  It is so disappointing to look at the package and see those fatal words of possible cross contamination. aldi' nuts

FYI: GF means no wheat, rye or barley of any form or version in the ingredients 20 ppm (parts per million) gluten in it.  Cross contamination is when my normally safe food picks up tiny amounts of gluten from the processing equipment because it was previously used to process food that contains gluten i.e. Wheat/rye/barley flour or grain.

Anyone who knows celiac disease knows that cross contamination is a major issue for celiac persons.  I generally don’t buy food that has that possible contamination disclaimer on the package.  If you have celiac you try to avoid even small amounts of gluten as they have such a terrible effect on your body.  So the possibility of even a tiny bit is enough to make me reluctantly put back chips, nuts, etc.  Who wants to spend good money on food that you end up pitching or giving away because of a slight amount of gluten that is making you feel terrible?

Aldi’s, and to some extent Trader Joe’s, make a big deal out of catering to gluten free eaters.  The biggest and most vocal group is those of us with celiac.  We have to avoid anything with 20 ppm or more of gluten in our food, some get sick even at that low level of contamination. I am very careful to avoid any possible gluten.  I get pretty sick and if it happens again within a week or two I feel even worse the second time.  God forbid it happens a third time….

If you put that “GF” labeling on your package of food I am trusting that it will be safe for me, someone with celiac disease.  A tiny bit of gluten is still terrible for me. That label is misleading if there is even a small chance of contamination due to shared processing lines. Telling me “No gluten ingredients used” is simply NOT enough.

baptism and beef goulash 023

This is the back of the bag for those edamame crackers.  See the shared equipment statement? And their No Gluten Ingredients Used marker?

So why, do they use the same equipment that processed gluten containing products?  Why not have dedicated GF foods only equipment?  It makes a lot of sense to all of us who’s lives depend on eating safely every. single. day. This is not a “choice” this is a life style for our very survival.  You mess with that when you label food as GF which for me means totally safe.  And yet….it might not be safe for a celiac due to this cross contamination issue.  I can’t even understand how they can use that label if there is a cross contamination possibility due to shared equipment.  If you want the right to put GF on your package you darn well better create it in a gluten free environment and that means equipment that NEVER processed gluten containing foods.  It is very difficult to fully clean this equipment to return it to a fully gf state.

Time for both Aldi’s and Trader Joe’s to clean up their act and use only dedicated GF equipment for foods that normally do not contain gluten products.  May is National Celiac Awareness Month; a perfect time to come clean both of you, Aldi’s and Trader Joe’s.  Just do it.  We with celiac will eat safer and buy more gf foods at your stores. I promise.