Thursday, July 30, 2009
I didn't take that many pictures, but I'll highlight the best and worst foods of the evening. First things first, the WORST "crackers" I've ever tasted in my life:
These are Hol Grain Gluten Free Brown Rice crackers. I took a bite and had to check to make sure that I had bitten into the cracker, not the cardboard box... nope it was the cracker. I am not exaggerating. These were the hands-down winner of the worst food item of the night.
Of course, the favorite of the night was the brownies!
Unfortunately only 1 out of the 5 samples were dairy free, they were made from the Pamela's Chocolate Brownie mix. I thought they were good, very rich, fudgy, and dark chocolate. I actually like the Betty Crocker mix better, but they had prepared them with butter so I avoided them at the tasting. The Pamela's mix actually made me think fudge, not cakey brownie.
One of the tasters at the event was Andrea from the Food Should Taste Good company, which I blogged about last year when I met the people from the company at the GF Cooking Spree. They were nice enough to give us all a surprise bag full of chips!! I love their chips, they are so flavorful and delicious, and have a lot of great varieties.
This was a fun event and I met some great people. Especially the folks from Zeer. I have only heard of Zeer very recently through a couple of mentions on some blogs and just checked it out for the first time this week.
Zeer is a two year old company, based in Cambridge, MA that is focused on helping the gluten free community to get information on food products quickly and easily. Zeer.com is a database that contains over 30,000 food items and is constantly being updated. You can join for free and search products, but in order to use the advanced features of the site, you must subscribe for $14.95 per month. When I first saw how much it costs to subscribe, I was put off. But after talking with the staff last night, I realized how valuable this resource is. It might seem pricey, but take into consideration that they do not sell any ad space on their website. Their main source of revenue to keep the site running comes from subscriptions. They are constantly in contact with vendors to make sure the site is up to date and not only that, they are also in touch with the consumers. They listen to what we need and want and do what they can to give back to us. These people are passionate about what they're doing. There are a lot of great things in the works with this company and I definitely encourage you to at least check it out!!
And yes, I am now affiliated with them, but like I said before - I only affiliate myself with companies that I trust and support and think are valuable resources for the gluten free community. Thanks to Mark, Shannon and Gillian for the wonderful event last night and for the service you're providing!!
As for the Boston Gluten-Free/Celiacs Meetup group, I'm going to be an assistant organizer! So if you live in the Greater Boston area, please join us! Hopefully we'll be lining up some great events very soon!
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
I first discovered Bhuja snacks at the Gluten Free Cooking Spree last year and I loved them. Recently I received a bag of each of the four varieties for reviewing. I've so far only opened the cracker mix which is a mix of "crispy multigrain noodles, crunchy garden peas, peanuts and rice crackers with a savoury blend of aromatic spices." There are also raisins in the mix which add a nice sweetness because this mix is spicy! But it's not nearly as hot as the original mix, which I tried last year also. I love this stuff, it's a great alternative to chex mix. It goes great with a hard cider!
It's Indian spicy, so if you aren't a fan of that kind of spice you might not like it, but I think it's great! I am looking forward to trying the fruit and nut mixes.
Monday, July 27, 2009
I have some coupons for Turtle Mountain dairy free products but hadn't had a chance to go get some. Today I have a day off from work and it's HOT and I thought it would be a great day for ice cream so I headed over to Good Health to pick something up. I saw the Mint Chip first and was going to get that, but then I noticed one last pint of Mocha Almond Fudge hiding in the back and I knew that was what I wanted. These are of the coconut milk varieties. I am not a big fan of soy milk based ice creams. I had to run home to eat this before it melted!
Oh. My. Gosh.
This is heavenly. Rich and creamy and you'd never know this isn't regular old cow's milk ice cream. The coffee flavor with fudge and almonds - delicious. I am so impressed. I'm having a hard time not running back over to the freezer and finishing off the pint! I highly recommend it. Next I will definitely try the Mint Chip!
Sunday, July 26, 2009
Those of you that have been reading this blog for awhile have probably already seen photos of this lovely lady - she's my 92 year old Great-Grandmother. She lives out in Kansas City, Missouri with my great aunt and every summer they come home for our family reunion. Her memory is so packed full of 92 years worth of stuff that she gets a little fuzzy sometimes, but otherwise she's quite the power house. She's my inspiration. The family reunion was Saturday and it was awesome as usual. I am so fortunate to have such an amazing family!! But the star of the day, aside from Gigi, was the FOOD! My uncle Mike is a fantastic cook and he spent the day feeding us all. The best part - the smoked ribs... sooooo delicious!
Today I spent the day with my 2 great aunts and my cousin at the beach. They have lived in the midwest for a long time so they really miss the ocean. It was supposed to storm today but it ended up being a gorgeous day and we had a blast.
I love summer!!!
Friday, July 24, 2009
Well look what we have here! Tomorrow is my annual family reunion with my Dad's side of the family. I picked up my Gigi (aka G.G. = Great Grandmother) and Great Aunt Berni at the airport last night. I can't wait to see everyone tomorrow! I thought this would be the perfect time to bake my last Betty Crocker mix so I can bring them to the party. I followed the directions online to make them dairy free, which calls for vegetable oil. I once again, am wondering how they would've turned out had I made them according to the package. I have read all the other reviews out there and most of you aren't dairy free so you make them with butter. They come out just like the "real thing" and are great. I'm finding that the dairy free recipes are not working out as well. The vanilla cake didn't work out and these cookies, honestly, just aren't as good as I hoped they'd be. I like them, but the only real flavor comes from the chocolate chips, and they crumble in your hands. Next time, I'd use Earth Balance buttery spread instead of oil, which is the same thing I said for at least one of the other mixes, but for the first round, I wanted to make them as Betty Crocker said to. Will I take them to the reunion? Yes, definitely. I don't need them hanging around here tempting me to eat the whole bunch of them! Will I buy the mix again? Honestly, probably not. I don't often buy cookie mix anyway. Having said that, if you're a dairy eater, I do recommend it for a quick and easy mix, assuming that the butter makes them taste as good as everyone else says they do.
Looks like a bowl of Cheerios doesn't it? It almost tastes like one too! Almost. This is Nature's Path Organic Whole O's, a gluten, dairy, egg, and soy free cereal. They don't have a whole lot of flavor on their own but with some fresh fruit these would be great. They don't get too soggy too quickly either which is great. I've been eating these with Pacific Natural Foods, Organic Almond Milk, vanilla flavored. The sweetness of the milk is a great touch with the cereal. I don't know what else to write about these, except that they taste good, are a good substitute for Cheerio's, and are healthy with only a few ingredients. I definitely recommend them!
Thursday, July 23, 2009
This week is a particularly tight week for me financially. That is to say, I'm totally broke. So I'm basically cooking up whatever I have hanging around the house and I have to get creative. Last night when I got home I had a hamburger patty defrosted in the fridge, but no buns or any bread for that matter. Not even a few lettuce leaves, well actually I did have lettuce, but it was too wilted. I had to cook the burger or else it would go to waste but I didn't want to just eat a plain old burger patty! Then I had a great idea, why not turn that little burger into a single serving meat loaf?? My new favorite meatloaf recipe is from Carol Fenster's 1,000 Gluten Free Recipes so I just altered the recipe to make it fit for a single serving. Ok, so it didn't exactly turn out the same, I didn't really break down the recipe and do it exactly, but it was an easy and satisfying dinner and my burger didn't go to waste. That's a success in my book!
Coming up, I have product reviews - Bhuja snack mixes, Nature's Path cereals, Turtle Mountain Ice Cream, and Betty Crocker Chocolate Chip Cookies (that I still haven't baked yet). I'm also waiting on the arrival of a new book that I'll be reviewing - The Un-Constipated Gourmet by Danielle Svetcov - I can't wait to read this one!! Stay tuned!
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
Sunday, July 19, 2009
This weekend I had a BBQ to go to, so I thought it would be the perfect time to bake some Betty Crocker Gluten Free cupcakes. Once again, I followed the recipes on the Betty Crocker website so that my gluten free cupcakes would also be dairy free. I baked both the vanilla and chocolate mixes. First, let me just say that baking in 87% humidity is NOT my idea of a good time, (I do not have air conditioning in my apartment!) but these were so quick and easy to make it wasn't so bad.
First I baked the vanilla:
Then the chocolate:
And then after letting them cool, I whipped up a basic buttercream frosting using Earth Balance Buttery Spread for the butter, and Light Vanilla Almond Milk for the milk. I used the recipe found on the box of confectionery sugar. It turned out great. I put a little too much milk in it so it was a little more runny than I prefer, but it tasted delicious.
I had to test them out before I left the house. Didn't want to bring gross cupcakes to a BBQ! My roommate and I split one of each. We tried the vanilla first. They were a little dry. I baked them for 20 minutes, the recipe recommends 18-23. Next time I'd check them at 16. They also had a funny taste, both of us were reminded a little bit of a corn muffin. I was surprised because I've read so many great reviews of this mix. I wonder, once again, if it's because of the shortening in the place of butter? Next time I might try making them with Earth Balance. Next up was the chocolate (devil's food) and we were both pleased. These tasted like devil's food cake, moist and delicious and chocolatey. Very impressed.
Overall so far I've had good results with the Betty Crocker mixes. The brownies and devil's food cake were great, the vanilla cake might just need some tweaking. I haven't tried the cookies yet but I'm sure that will happen soon enough! I need a break from sweets though so they'll have to wait until I have another gathering to go to so that I can share them.
Saturday, July 18, 2009
I haven't had pancakes in a really long time. I think the last time I had them was when I made these oats and honey pancakes. I had been eating a lot of savory dinners lately and I was craving something sweet. My oats are expired (oops) so I didn't want to make the oats and honey recipe, so I just went for a basic pancake.
Basic Gluten and Casein/Dairy Free Pancakes
2 Cups Brown Rice Flour
2 1/2 Teaspoons Baking Powder
1/2 Teaspoon Salt
1 Egg lightly beaten
1 1/2 Cups Almond Milk
2 Tablespoons of Canola Oil
Mix all of the ingredients and drop by the 1/4 cup onto skillet over medium or medium/high heat. I use a non-stick pan and do not grease it.
The flavor was all brown rice flour, too much for me, next time I would make a flour mix of some kind to give these a better flavor. This time, to make them delicious I dropped a few Tropical Source gluten and dairy free chocolate chips on them. That was the perfect addition.
Friday, July 17, 2009
Over a year ago when I started writing, I swore that I would never monetize the blog. I would stay pure and true and commercial free!! And then I started getting more traffic and made my way higher up on the Google and companies started emailing me. Of course I'm more than happy to receive samples and coupons and do reviews, that's the fun part. I was hesitant to get involved in affiliate programs and other things that lead to ad placement. A while ago I received an email from Triumph Dining, talking about the affiliate program that they were going to launch. I love Triumph and think it's a great resource for the gluten free community, so I was open to that. When they told me recently that the program was up and running, I didn't hesitate to drop a couple buttons in my sidebar. Then I found Foodbuzz. I had noticed some other bloggers had become Foodbuzz Featured Publishers and I wanted to be one too!! So I signed up. And now you see that ad banner in my sidebar. ::sigh:: I officially have broken my promise to myself.
The thing is, I'm here to write about food and awareness for food intolerance, allergies, and autoimmune disease. I want to help people that are looking for answers and recipes and products that they can enjoy. I love to do it and if that means promoting some great companies that support people like us, then I'll do it! Becoming a featured publisher is just going to give me a wider audience which will just promote awareness and I'm all for it. I will do my best to make sure this place doesn't become a billboard, and will only allow ads that are relevant to you, my readers. The content, if anything, will just get better because I'll be writing more often and more focused posts. I will also start labeling posts so they're easier to find. It's only going to get better from here, so stay tuned!! And as always, THANK YOU for reading!!!!
Thursday, July 16, 2009
Sorry to all you GM fanatics but I just am not a fan. I think the problem was the banana, as many of you know, I'm a newcomber to the banana loving scene and I really only like them when they're still bright yellow. This banana I had frozen because it was very ripe. I might try this again with berries instead because it really is a very healthy snack. But for now, I'm gonna stick with loving THIS Green Monster:
So instead of healthy smoothies, let's talk about the opposite of healthy - Ice cream! There used to be a Cold Stone Creamery near my office but it has since been replaced. Which is awesome because now I'm not tempted to cheat and make myself sick with delicious ice cream. Now in it's place is an independent shop that sells gelato, frozen yogurt, and lucky for me - delicious sorbet! It's called boYo and I love it. I stopped by there yesterday on my way home from work and grabbed a pomegranate sorbet. I love it. Actually it's the only kind I've tried. I should be more adventurous! Maybe next time. Anyway, here's a photo:
I must've been on a sugar kick yesterday because then I went home and had pancakes for dinner, which I will talk about tomorrow. Oh, and did you hear that Starbucks is discontinuing the GF orange valencia cake??! I didn't even get to try it yet!! Maybe tomorrow I'll go see if I can find one around here before they've completely disappeared. Or have they already? Starbucks FAIL!!!
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
That lady is taking her dingy out to her bigger boat, not sailing off into the sunset in that little floater! ;-)
Finally we made our way back to the cupcake shop. Since I'm gradually finding my way back to the gluten free lifestyle, I knew I was going to go ahead and eat one of these, despite the fact that nevermind the gluten, the dairy would bother me. But after looking at all of these....
I couldn't resist! I ordered the mint chocolate and my sister ordered the lemon
We took them back to Mom's and sat by the pool enjoying our treats, Diana was surprised to find lemon filling in hers!
She's never seen me in blogger action so she got a kick out of me making her pose with cupcakes!
We had a really nice day together. I don't get to spend a lot of one on one time with her so it was really great, and she's 18 weeks pregnant which is so exciting! The first baby of our immediate family, I can't wait to be an auntie!!! Today was even better though because she went in for an ultrasound and found out that she's having a GIRL!!!! I cried when I saw these:
Beautiful Baby Girl!
They haven't come up with a name yet, we are all just excited that it's a girl and she's healthy and we can't wait to meet her in December! This is one of those moments that you take with you for the rest of your life. It also makes my biological clock start ticking.... eeeek. Diana is 3 years younger than me and she's married with a baby on the way! I've enjoyed the single life throughout my twenties, but I wouldn't mind settling down now. It'll happen when the time is right! :)
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
Gluten Free Faces - It's like Facebook for GF people!
Foodbuzz - A place for foodies to share recipes, blogs, make connections.
Twitter - @MySugarAndSpice - Follow me so I can follow you!
I haven't set up a Facebook page yet. I do have a personal one, but I'm keeping that private for friends and family use only. If I ever find the need, maybe I'll set up a page for this website.
What other websites do you guys use to stay connected?
Monday, July 13, 2009
Saturday, July 11, 2009
While I do actually enjoy pulling all the ingredients out of the pantry and baking from scratch, working with a box mix is pretty awesome when you're more concerned about getting to the end result fast and without a lot of mess. I didn't even bother cooking dinner first, I got home and immediately set to work. The ingredients:
The box calls for butter, but since I am dairy free, I used the recommendations on their website and opted for vegetable oil instead. The batter came together quickly and the funny thing is, it barely even stuck to the bowl! No batter to lick, and easy clean up, nice. And what a suprise, this batter has chocolate chips in it! I had no idea. While they were in the oven, I heated up some leftovers for dinner. Not that I wouldn't eat dessert before dinner... but I figured I might as well get it out of the way.
Twenty-five minutes later... tada!!
I did wait a few minutes for them to cool down, but not long!
My first thought was, these are definitely dark, and I am curious how they'd taste if I had used butter instead of vegetable oil. Having said that, they were still very good. The chocolate chips definitely are the best part. They are fudgy, which is how I like them, and quick and easy to make. I would definitely buy this mix again. I brought them to work with me to share with my Dad. He's not a huge dessert person, but he'll eat just about anything. He said they were "pretty good" and I asked him if they tasted like regular brownies and he said "almost" but he really has nothing to compare them to because he hasn't tried a lot of GF foods. I think they are very "normal" tasting. They tasted just as good, if not better the second day, and also the third. I ate way too many of them and was reminded that I should only bake when I have an occassion with lots of people to share the goods. I am overloaded with sugar!! Well done Betty Crocker!
Friday, July 10, 2009
I bought a domain!!!!!!!!!! Welcome to:
A Life of Sugar and Spice dot com!!!!!! Please update your feeds, etc.
Also, follow me on Twitter: @MySugarAndSpice
I'll be working on a new header/layout, so that will be coming soon :-)
Thursday, July 9, 2009
A while ago, Vanessa alerted me to a new dairy free product on the market and I emailed the company to see if I could get some samples. The people at Nasoya were nice enough to send me two packages of each, chocolate, strawberry and vanilla Silken Creations. From their website:
New Nasoya® Silken Creations is a rich, creamy pudding-like base that cuts the calories, fat and gives a jump start to all of your favorite dessert recipes from pies and cakes to frozen treats and smoothies. It’s even a decadent treat right out of the package!
Naturally flavored, lactose & dairy free, low in fat & calories, vegan, and gluten free, Silken Creations comes in three popular flavors, Dark Chocolate, Vanilla and Strawberry.
Chef, nutrition educator, and cookbook author Maribeth Abrams enjoys the versatility of “Silken Creations”. She says, “Silken Creations adds a rich chocolate flavor to Chocolate Mousse and cake recipes. The smooth and creamy consistency of the Vanilla really gives a boost to Key Lime Pie, puddings, frosting, and fillings. The strawberry makes every fruit smoothie taste delectable!”
Made from whole soybeans and sweetened with cane juice, Silken Creations is low in calories (only 110-130 per half cup serving), low in fat (only 1-1.5 grams) and is a good source of protein (3-4 grams).
Of course, I dove into the chocolate first. I wanted to see what it tasted like by itself so I just grabbed a little dish and served some up plain.
It was delicious! A smooth, dark chocolate pudding. I just found a recipe on the Nasoya website for a chocolate peanut butter pie. I am definitely going to make that soon!
Ironically enough, the day before I received the package, I had read a recipe on Carrots n' Cake that used the vanilla Silken Creations to make a simple "vanilla" cake. I thought that would be perfect for the 4th of July weekend. I used the recipe exactly as I found it (not gluten free).
The cake smelled really good, but honestly, the taste was not good at all. Very blah, tasteless, not good. Tina said her's was delicious, so maybe something wasn't right. I had brought the stuff down to my Mom's house and the silken creation had kinda melted so maybe that was the issue? I'm not discouraged though, I'm looking forward to doing something different with the other package of vanilla. As I was resting on the couch at my Mom's on the 4th, I overheard some family members trying the cake... they agreed.. not good!!
I have not tried the strawberry yet so look for that post soon! I definitely recommend these products for many dairy free uses, the website has tons of recipes, check them out!
Wednesday, July 8, 2009
The prize pack includes 1 box of each of the 4 mixes, brownies, chocolate chip cookies, devil's food cake, or yellow cake. Also included you get that snazzy re-usable shopping bag, TWO coupons, each for a free mix, they're good until 2010, and my personal favorite - a magnetic notepad for grocery lists, and a pen!
All you need to do to enter the drawing is leave a comment on this post telling me which mix you want to try the most. The winner will be chosen randomly next Monday, make sure you leave a way for me to contact you so I can find out where to have your prize pack shipped!
Also - I'm looking for a good dairy free frosting recipe for those cakes if anyone has any links/recipes/ideas!!
Tuesday, July 7, 2009
July 4th is always my favorite time of year, actually, the 3rd is my favorite, it's the day I get to see my old friends from high school. This year was just as good as the past 11!! The weekend was beautiful thankfully, after a month of miserable weather. Friday I drove down to Plymouth, went to the BBQ with the friends, drank 5 or 6 too many cocktails... went back to my parents' the next morning just in time for the family 4th BBQ to start. Slept most of the day, waking up and going outside just long enough to eat. Watched the Boston fireworks on tv that night. We had some family members staying with us for the weekend so we all got up the next day and went to breakfast. Spent the rest of the day lounging around, swimming, eating, getting sunburnt, feeling crappy still/again, and sleeping some more. Eventually made it back home, spent all day yesterday in pajamas and now I'm back at work, finally feeling human again. It was a great holiday weekend and I'm really glad I had that extra day yesterday. Today the nasty weather is back! But I don't mind because I'm working. I'll get back to normal posting tomorrow with all of the fun things I mentioned above! I'm not sure how I'm going to do this contest... who's interested in some gluten free Betty Crocker?!?!