Archive for the ‘Review’ Category

Shabtai Gourmet, Sweet Treats Allergen Free

February 22nd, 2011

As someone that has multiple food intolerances, I was delighted to find out about Shabtai Gourmet. They specialize in providing sweet treats to individuals following restricted diets that must exclude gluten, lactose, soy, casein, peanuts and dairy. The pictures on their website look very enticing and I was excited to sample their products.

Shabtai Gourmet Bon Bons

Shabtai Gourmet Bon Bons

The first product that I sampled was the Shabtai Gourmet Bon Bons. The box that the bon bons came in was cute, and they were shrink wrapped in plastic to preserve freshness. The chocolate was rich with a creamy marshmallow filling. What I didn’t expect was the crunchy cookie center. I think I expected more of a soft cake center than the crunchy cookie. The creamy filling combined with the smooth chocolate contrasts too much with the crunchy cookie, in my opinion. One of these was enough to feed my chocolate craving for the week. They are good, but oh so decadent.

Shabtai Gourmet Bon Bons

Shabtai Gourmet Bon Bons

I thought that these bon bons would be great to serve up at a party. They truly are a gourmet dessert; however the smooth chocolate seemed to stick to the Styrofoam tray they arrived on inside the box. I had a terrible time plating these treats, but I thoroughly enjoyed scraping the chocolate off of the Styrofoam tray. I had some of my co-workers sample the bon bons, and everyone agreed that the creamy filling was delicious. Although a handful said that the cookie center was too crunchy, one person thought that was the best part. I bet those that were hoping for more of a cake would prefer the ring tings instead.

Shabtai Gourmet Swiss Cake Roll

Although the bon bons were good, my personal favorite so far has been Shabtai Gourmet’s Swiss cake roll. What a sinfully delightful treat that reminds me so much of my youth. My grandma always had a brown paper bag in her pantry full of Little Debbie snack cakes, and in that bag I would always grab a swiss cake roll. So reminiscent of the comfort food from my youth, this gourmet chocolate cake with a cream filling has been rolled and dipped in chocolate. I can see myself serving this up at Christmas time, but I think that they would sell better if they looked more like the snack cakes from my youth. Call it comfort food, or call it junk food – people with allergies like to enjoy their favorites too!

I also think the swiss cake roll might sell better as a snack cake because of a problem I encountered when slicing into the cake. The smooth, rich chocolate kept crumbling and falling off the cake when I went to cut a slice. I found this somewhat annoying, but enjoyed eating the bits of broken chocolate anyway. When I would eat those Little Debbie Snack Cakes growing up, I would bite the chocolate off first anyway before I bit into the cake itself. So this isn’t really a big deal, unless you are serving this cake up to impress someone.

Due to a suspected almond allergy, I will not purchase the bon bons again. However I plan to order some ring tings and another Swiss cake roll in the near future. Shabtai Gourmet has some great treats for those of us with multiple allergies. We definitely benefit the most from their mission to provide gourmet treats to people with multiple allergies, but no one would ever know that these products are without allergens.  My husband and coworkers also enjoyed these products and the only thing that gave away that they were gluten-free was that I was eating them.

NOTE: Shabtai Gourmet provided samples for these reviews.

UPDATE (4/17/11): Shabtai Gourmet is now selling Baby Swiss Rolls, AKA “Devils Stix”. I imagine they get their name from tasting so sinfully delicious. I can’t wait to order a bunch on pay day.

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Gluten Free Hamburger Buns

February 20th, 2011

Our winter warm-up this past week made me realize that spring is just around the corner. Soon grilling season will commence in full force and I don’t want to suffer through another summer season eating hamburgers and hot dogs sans bun because the alternative, gluten-free buns, taste worse than eating sawdust. Over the past year I have tried a variety of gluten-free buns, and many a time I have pulled the meat off and pitched the bun in the trash bin because they are often that gross.

Does this look anything like the picture?

I recently tried Chebe Sandwich Buns, which I think their bread dough might make good calzones, but it isn’t ideal for a hamburger bun. I’m not sure if I was suppose to let the bun completely cool, but I ended up eating a stringy cheesy gooey mess. It didn’t exactly taste bad, but the texture just wasn’t right for a hamburger bun.

Kinnikinnick has some decent products, and they were amongst the first buns I taste tested when I first went gluten-free. I found their buns to always be dry, crumbly and hard, even when lightly toasted or grilled with butter. The taste could be compared to cardboard. I think that recently they have attempted to improve their recipe, but I don’t think I will ever go back to eating their buns.

Another bun I used for a while is made by Against the Grain, the makers of one of my favorite pizza crusts. They also make a french style baguette that makes a great chicken Parmesan sandwich. Up until recently they made my favorite hamburger bun. Their bread products have a tendency to get too crunchy because of the cheese, which is fine for a french style baguette, but not so great when you are craving a soft hamburger bun.

Katz Hamburger Bun Grilled to Perfection!

Thanks to Katz Gluten-Free I won’t have to suffer another summer without a tasty bun for my burgers. I lightly toasted my Katz Gluten-Free hamburger bun in my toaster oven, then sliced it open. I lightly buttered the bun then popped it back in my toaster oven. I wanted a slightly golden bun, and the toaster oven wasn’t cooperating so I ended up putting my bun down in a frying pan for a minute just to slightly brown the inside. This bun was so delicious and soft, slightly sweet, with no after taste. I felt like I was eating a real hamburger again. I thoroughly enjoyed every bite. The only downside to this bun is that it tastes so good I might be tempted to go back to eating more hamburgers! That would be bad for my waistline and my arteries.

Katz Gluten Free Hamburger Bun

The Ultimate Gluten Free Burger on Katz Hamburger Buns

Your guests to your backyard cookouts this summer will not even know these buns are gluten free, so you might as well stock up now. To promote their new buns, Katz Gluten Free is running a deal, buy 3 packs of buns, get one free. Use Coupon Code BBQ. They are so sure that you will love their buns, that they are offering a 100% money back guarantee. So what do you have to lose?

Now if Mrs. Katz could only help me with my hot dog problem. Since Kinnikinnick is the only baker of hot dog buns available for purchase in my area, and I’ve already established how horrible those taste, I’ve resorted to eating my hot dogs on Udi’s slices of bread. I’ve tried following the suggestion on The Gluten Free Survivor’s blog about using an Udi’s bagel, but I find it too messy. Katz Gluten Free should be releasing what they are calling their “Frank Buns” sometime in the near future. I can hardly wait!

NOTE: Katz Gluten Free provided samples for review purposes.

Udi's Hamburger BunsUPDATE (04/17/11): Udi’s should be releasing their gluten-free buns sometime in May. I can hardly wait for them to be in stores. Some online vendors are selling them:
Gluten Free Palace
Linda’s Diet Delights

By the Case:
NEW Udi’s Gluten Free Classic Hotdog Buns 12.9 oz. – case of 8
NEW Udi’s Gluten Free Hamburger Buns 10.4 oz. – case of 6

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Katz Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Cookies

February 13th, 2011
Comments Off on Katz Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Cookies

I love a soft, chewy chocolate chip cookie, and before trying the Katz brand, the only way for me to gratify my craving for this sweet treat was to bake a batch up myself. I must say that Katz Gluten Free chocolate chip cookies are deliciously soft and they are a highly addictive cookie. These are almost bite-size cookies that you could easily pop into your mouth, and before you know it you’re left with only the crumbs in the container. Make sure you pace yourself and slowly enjoy each morsel!

In this house, one package didn’t last two days because my son and husband also found them to be pretty tasty. My son didn’t even ask, “Is this one of mommy’s cookies?” He just ate them up. My hubby thought they were lacking some sweetness, but I think what he was really missing was the butter. I think the palm oil instead gives them a nice clean, fresh taste. I found them to be far superior to the Udi’s brand, that are so rock hard from the molasses that I almost chipped a tooth. See my review of the Udi’s Chocolate Chip cookies here.

Of course, there is always room for improvement. One ingredient I wish Katz would change is in the chocolate chips themselves. Lurking inside the chocolate chips is soy lecithin, an ingredient I try to avoid. When I do eat products with soy lecithin, because it is hard to avoid in sweet treats, I try to purchase those that have used non-GMO organic soy lecithin. The way that soy lecithin is processed from the runoff of soybeans makes it a collecting pool for all kinds of pesticides and other chemicals, not too mention it is processed with hexane, a neurotoxin. With my chemical sensitivity, it is important for me to limit my exposure to chemicals in every way possible.

It would be easy for Katz to replace their chocolate chips with a healthier version, but they will obviously be more expensive to produce. I willingly pay for more expensive organic products, that are healthy and taste great. I thought these cookies were even better than the ones I bake from scratch. I would become a regular customer if they would do something about that one ingredient. If you are not concerned about soy lecithin, you should definitely give this product a try. These cookies are delicious!

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Against the Grain Gourmet Pizza

February 12th, 2011

On my trip to Whole Foods today, I happily picked up the newest product by Against the Grain Gourmet. They are now selling their pizza shells topped with two choices of sauce, a nut-free pesto or a traditional marinara. The pizzas come with cheese only, so if you want pepperoni, sausage or veggies, there is still some assembly required. I picked up the nut-free pesto version and topped the pizza with Bell & Evans Gluten Free grilled chicken.

Bell & Evans has a “No Junk” pledge where they promise that their chickens will be fed an all natural vegetarian diet, with no growth hormones. They also promise not to add any preservatives, artificial flavorings, fillers or extenders. They are also free of hydrogenated oils. Plus they have gluten free products with a breading that my son has no clue is gluten free. I have found that preservatives, artificial flavors, fillers, and gluten can trigger a Fibromyalgia flare-up. So I appreciate the “No Junk” promise, and with Bell & Evans I trust their products.

Against-the-Grain Pesto Pizza fresh out of the box.

Against the Grain Gourmet seems to be another company with similar values to Bell & Evans. The Against the Grain Gourmet pizza box even has a value statement printed on the back.

No one ever said it would be easy going Against the Grain. And no one understands more than we do, the challenges of delivering delicious gluten free products in a world of industrialized food. There was a time when food was hand-crafted at home from simple farm-fresh ingredients and eaten with respect. Somewhere along the way, the people were taken out of food production, and then the real ingredients themselves. Food chemists invented flavor enhancers, dough conditioners, binders, preservatives, and modified basic food starches beyond recognition. Something as sacred as a cheese-topped pizza was transformed from comfort food into a chemistry experiment.

Here at Against the Grain, we sincerely believe that you are what you eat. Our milk comes from a local family farm that bottles the milk less than 24 hours before we receive it. Our eggs are delivered directly from the hens to us by a local family egg farm – you can’t find them any fresher. We use expeller–pressed non-GMO canola oil and low fat mozzarella cheese made from the milk of dairy cows that are routinely veterinarian inspected. Our cheese has no added growth hormones, no anti-caking agents, and is natamycin-free. We never use any binders, dough conditioners, flavor enhancers, stabilizers, or preservatives. In fact, you can pronounce and spell all of our ingredients!

Although this is not an organic product, I appreciate that this value statement closely matches my own personal goals for meeting my nutritional needs. When I went gluten-free, processed foods free almost a year ago, I decided I would no longer purchase products that I felt I needed a chemistry degree to decipher what I was eating. There is so much junk in our grocery stores; almost everything is so highly processed that they actually add nutrients back into products before they are distributed. Of course they have to lace them with preservatives in order to extend the shelf life. Anyway, before I go off on a rant, I appreciate companies like these that are producing real food items that won’t leave you nutritionally deficient. I am a working mom, so unfortunately I do not have large amounts of time to make gluten-free dinners for the family. And there are some nights when I am working late, I need to be able to just throw a pizza in the oven. This product gives me the opportunity to do just that.

Yummy Crispy Crust Pizza GFree!

All I had to do was thaw one of the Bell & Evans chicken breast in the microwave, while the toaster oven was pre-heating to 400 degrees. I sliced up the chicken and threw it on the pizza. I wish I would have sliced up some tomatoes too, but I was being extremely lazy. I put the pizza straight onto my toaster oven rack, and let it cook for just over 12 minutes. I pulled it out of the oven, and let it cool for a few minutes before slicing. The sauce was delicious and the crust was crunchy, not chewing like the ones that have gelatin in them to make them airy.

This pizza shell has a cheese based dough, so it has a tendency when cooked on a pizza pan to become very flimsy. I haven’t invested in a pizza stone to be dedicated gluten-free yet, so this hasn’t been tested on a pizza stone. I prefer a thin cripsy crust though, so it works perfectly to put it right on the rack and bake. If you like a soft crust, you may have to deal with a flimsy pizza from this shell. The thing I like about this pizza shell, is that it doesn’t taste like rice. Many gluten-free pizzas when you reheat them, the rice crust overpowers everything. This is definitely one of my favorite gluten-free shells, as it reminds me of the stuffed crust pizza I use to love before going gluten-free. As for the pesto sauce on this pizza, I didn’t even notice that it was made from sunflower seeds instead of pine nuts. I thought that the sauce had a nice flavor. I would purchase this product again.

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