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Archive for Gluten-Free

PRODUCT UPDATE: Gluten Free Comfort Food

Blake's Chicken Pot Pie

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This gluten-free chicken pot pie will please many. Photos courtesy Blake’s All Natural.

 

BLAKE’S GLUTEN-FREE CHICKEN POT PIE & SHEPHERDS PIE

With the fall season, the gluten-freer’s thoughts turn to comfort foods—which usually mean soups, hearty stews, pot pies, mac and cheese and heaping dishes of pasta.

This is also, as it turns out, one of the most challenging categories in the gluten-free realm. Most of the hot comfort foods contain noodles or crusts of some kind, and substitutions are not easily made.

Enter Blake’s All Natural, an 80-year old family firm that was acquired by ConAgra in May 2015. Most of the line is conventional, but there’s a GF version of their most popular item, Chicken Pot Pie; as well as Shepherds Pie, which is naturally GF (the crust is made from mashed potatoes instead of grain).
 
Blake’s Chicken Pot Pie

I tasted their Chicken Pot Pie in a bit of a fever, recalling happy afternoons spent at my Gram’s where my favorite treat was classic pot pie. Grandmas know what makes a child’s heart go pitter patter. Hence my bar for Chicken Pot Pie is quite high, attached as it is to golden memories.

Blake’s did not let me down. You can taste the quality and the care.

The filling is delicious! You can taste the distinct flavors, yet also appreciate the blended sauce and the good crust, which is the hallmark of a top pot pie. There was a little too much sauce for my liking (not atypical in store-bought pot pies), but I relished the classic pot pie flavor.

 
There are no chemicals, no antibiotics, no wheat. Bonus: The pot pie is also microwavable

The brand makes both all-natural and organic products. With the gluten-free pot pie, the vegetables and crust are organic. The chicken is not, although it is natural (antibiotic free), and quite tasty!

I was surprised that I actually preferred the cornmeal crust variety of the two options. The brown rice crust was a bit sweet and shortbread-y (I prefer buttermilk-y/salty flavor notes), whereas the cornmeal crust was hearty, had better body and just enough salt.
 
Blake’s Shepherds Pie

Next I tried the Shepherds Pie, made with organic corn and organic mashed potatoes.

As with the pot pie, the veggies are organic but the beef is not. (Although organic meat is important to many, it would raise the price beyond where enough consumers are flexible. Hence the balance between organic and natural ingredients.) The beef was perfectly spiced and tasted of a high quality, so I added points back for flavor. I liked it even better than the pot pie.

My recommendation: Absolutely give Blake’s a try! Their products are great cool- and cold-weather comfort food options, a great convenience when you don’t have time to make your own. That goes for the “regular” line, too.

You can also send a GF gift box, containing four gluten-free pot pies and four shepherds pies.

Discover more at BlakesAllNatural.com.

—A review from Georgi Page, Gluten Free Specialist

 

LUCY’S COOKIES

It was 2010 when we first selected Lucy’s Gluten Free as a Top Pick Of The Week, followed by a product update in 2011. The brand continues to treat consumers new gluten-free baked treats.

This year, the new GF treat is Triple Chocolate Brownie Crisp, the first flavor of Lucy’s new brownie line to hit shelves. It’s made with chocolate chips, 72% dark chocolate chunks and cocoa powder (comprising the “triple chocolate”), plus Madagascar vanilla.

A cross between a chewy brownie and a crunchy cookie, Triple Chocolate Brownie Crisp is a symphony of deep, rich chocolate flavor. A serving size of three crisps contains just 100 calories.

As with all Lucy’s products, Triple Chocolate Brownie Crisp is allergy friendly: no gluten or wheat, dairy milk, butter, eggs, casein, peanuts or tree nuts.

 

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There are three types of chocolate in Lucy’s Triple Brownie Crisp. Photo courtesy Dr. Lucy.

 
The line is also Non-GMO Project Verified, certified vegan, and certified kosher (pareve) by Star K.

Brownie Crisp is currently available in a 4.5-ounce pouch size and a 1.25-ounce grab ‘n go individual bag.

Continued thanks to Lucy’s founder and chairman, Dr. Lucy Gibney, for showing that allergen-free can also be delicious. Discover more at DrLucys.com.

  

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RECIPE: Carrot Pasta

While we’re enjoying the warmth of Indian Summer, Hannah Kaminsky of Bittersweet Blog suggests these raw, vegetable-based noodles made from carrots.

Inspired by classic cold sesame noodles, delicate strands of carrots and cucumbers mingle together in crisp tangles of “pasta,” as vibrant as they are flavorful.

Instead of peanut sauce based on peanut butter, Hannah substitutes cashew butter for a different take on the nutty, lightly spiced sauce.

“Deceptively simple in composition,” says Hannah, “it doesn’t sound like anything particularly special on paper, but one taste and you’ll be hooked on the creamy cashew elixir. Lavish it over everything from salads to grilled tofu and beyond. Although you may end up with more than you need for this particular dish, trust me: It won’t be a struggle to polish off the excess in short order.”

Note that this recipe comes together very quickly but needs to be eaten as soon as it’s made. The recipe makes 2-3 main dish servings or 4-5 side servings.

   

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Cut the carbs and add the protein: carrot “pasta” in cashew sauce. Photo courtesy Hannah Kaminsky.

 

RECIPE: CARROT CASHEW NOODLES

Ingredients For The Cashew Sauce

  • 6 tablespoons smooth cashew butter
  • 1/3 cup vegetable broth
  • 2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons light agave nectar
  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
  • 1 clove fresh garlic, finely minced
  • 1 inch fresh ginger, peeled and grated
  • 1/2-1 teaspoon sriracha (or other hot sauce)
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    For The Carrot Pasta

  • 5 Large carrots, peeled and shredded with a julienne peeler or spiral grater
  • 1 English cucumber, peeled and shredded with a julienne peeler or spiral grater
  • 2 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 1/3 cup toasted cashews, roughly chopped
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    spiral grater

    A spiral grater, also called a spiralizer. Photo
    courtesy Microplane.

     

    Preparation

    1. PREPARE the sauce. This can be done up to 2 weeks in advance and refrigerated in an airtight container. Place the cashew butter in a medium bowl and slowly add the vegetable broth, stirring constantly to loosen and smooth out the thick paste. Add the remaining ingredients, whisk thoroughly until homogeneous and set aside.

    2. MAKE the carrot and cucumber “noodles.” Toss them together with half of the sauce; for easier mixing, use your hands. Add more sauce as needed, toss in the scallions and move to a serving plate.

    3. TOP with chopped cashews and serve.

     

      

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    PRODUCT: Goodie Girl Cookies, Gluten Free

    Thanks to a New York City media relations consultant and mom who began baking gluten-free cookies in her home kitchen, Goodie Girl is pleasing palates from coast to coast.

    Simply put, these gluten-free cookies are addictive. Samples arrived at my door in a box irresistibly marked “Cookies.” The box was packed with Goodie Girl’s brightly colored bags in a popular array of flavors.

  • Crunchy Chaos is laden with buttery toffee, crisped rice and mini chocolate chips. Here, chaos is a good thing.
  • Mint Slims, a chocolate-draped chocolate-mint wafer, will comfort those feeling left out of Girl Scout cookie season
  • Midnight Brownie is a dark chocolate cookie packed with chunks of semisweet Belgian chocolate.
  • Oatmeal Raisin is an old-fashioned style, with just the right amount of cinnamon.
  • Quinoa Choco-Chunk deliciously unmasked my deeply buried Chips Ahoy fetish, put aside when I began a gluten-free lifestyle.
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    Your favorite cookie flavors, gluten-free. Above, Oatmeal Raisin. Photo courtesy Goodie Girl.

     
    CRUNCHY DElIGHTS

    In fact, all of the cookies sampled were unabashedly crunchy. There was no trying to play both sides of the cookie viscosity divide: They crunch, they munch and then dissolve cheerily away with a buttery aftertaste. The cookies packs a wallop of flavor and doesn’t skimp on density.

    And the cookies are just the right size, although no sooner are you finished with one that the thought occurs that it would be good to have another, and another…

     

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    Midnight Brownie, a dark cocoa cookie with Belgian chocolate chunks. Photo courtesy Goodie Girl.

     

    The bag, with its resealable top, is very conducive to sitting down with the intention of eating just a few. Watch that you don’t slip into “potato chip-mode,” continuously reaching into the bag until your chest is sprinkled with crumbs.

    But I’m not embarrassed to be covered in crumbs, that’s how good these cookies are. They are an experience every gluten-free person should have, and one that we can feel free to share with our wheat-centric friends.

    Goodie Girl cookies come in 6-ounce bags as well as in lunchbox-size one-ounce Go-Paks.

  • At $4.99 per 6-ounce pouch, they’re affordable for home and for gifting to anyone in gluten-free mode.
  • The one-ounce Go Paks-are available in Quinoa Choco-Chunk and Midnight Brownie, $9.99 for a box of 12 one-ounce bags.
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    Check the store locator for a retailer near you, or purchase them online from GoodieGirlCookies.com.

    —Georgi Page

      

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    TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Artisan Bistro Beyond Breakfast

    Artisan Bistro wants to make it easy for everyone to eat delicious, nutrition-rich meals. The company makes lunch/dinner entrees, burritos and breakfasts—single-serving frozen meals made with the best lean proteins, whole grains, vegetables and healthy fats.

    We received samples of their Beyond Breakfast line, and it was eye-opening: delicious and only 170 to 200 calories per satisfying serving. And, the entrees are microwave-cooked in just four minutes. It will cook while you’re making a cup of coffee with a single-serve machine.

    The vegetarian breakfasts use egg whites only, but you’ll never notice the absence of the yolk because each preparation is so well seasoned and the egg whites are patties shaped like a poached egg.

    In five varieties, the Beyond Breakfast options include:

  • Country-Style Potatoes & Egg, a modern twist on a classic favorite made with an egg white patty, all-natural turkey, organic kale and red potatoes finished with spicy white pepper.
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    Breakfast in a box: satisfying, nutritious, calorie-friendly. Photo courtesy Artisan Bistro.

  • Huevos Rancheros Verde, a south-of-the-border-inspired mix of an egg white patty, organic black beans, bell peppers and creamy jack cheese.
  • Italian-Style Hash & Egg, a savory blend of an egg white patty, all-natural turkey, organic asparagus, white beans and bell peppers.
  • Mediterranean Breakfast Stack, a zesty offering with an egg white patty, organic polenta, eggplant and sharp romano cheese.
  • Veggie Chorizo Huevos Rancheros, all the flavor of traditional meat chorizo in a vegetarian version, with an egg whites patty, bell peppers and jack cheese.
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    All varieties are contain 70% or more organic ingredients, no GMOs and are gluten free.

    After a week of Artisan Bistro breakfasts, We’re hooked on the flavor, ease, better nutrition and lower calories than what we usually make.

    Learn more at TheArtisanBistro.com, including a store locator.

      

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    RECIPE: Rice Noodle Salad with Lemongrass, Mint, Cilantro…& Tea!

    Today is National Iced Tea Day. Approximately 85% of the tea consumed in the U.S. is iced, and iced tea is now the most consumed beverage at lunch time (source: Tea Association of America).

    Tea is also used as a recipe ingredient, in dishes from Smoked Tea Duck to baked goods, soba noodles, smoothies and sorbet.

    Culinary expert Gail Simmons created the Thai-inspired recipe below with unsweetened Pure Leaf tea. She used Pure Leaf Unsweetened Iced Tea to cook and flavor both the rice noodles and the marinade.

    With added protein—sliced beef or chicken, scallops or shrimp, or tofu—it makes a delicious lunch or dinner entrée. And for the gluten-sensitive, rice noodles (and the entire recipe) are gluten-free.

    RECIPE: LEMONGRASS-SCENTED RICE NOODLE SALAD WITH MINT & CILANTRO

    Ingredients For 4 Servings

  • 1 shallot, thinly sliced and separated into rings
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons salt, divided
  • 8 ounces vermicelli rice noodles
  • 4-1/4 cups, room temperature, divided
  • 4 cups water
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    Thai-inspired rice noodle salad. Photo courtesy Pure Leaf.

  • 1 lemongrass stalk, peeled and trimmed into two 2–3 inch pieces, one half of pieces bruised using the back of a knife, one half finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup cilantro leaves plus 10 stems reserved
  • 2-inch piece of fresh ginger, half sliced, half finely chopped
  • 2 small Thai* chiles (bird’s-eye chiles), stemmed, seeded and chopped or 1/2 teaspoon chili flakes
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
  • 1 hothouse cucumber, cut into matchsticks or shredded lengthwise on a mandoline
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and cut into matchsticks or shredded lengthwise on a mandoline
  • 6 radishes, cut into matchsticks or shredded on a mandoline
  • 1/4 cup mint, coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 cup dry-roasted peanuts, crushed
  • 1 pound cooked shrimp, shredded rotisserie chicken or other protein
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    *Substitute 1 jalapeño chile for two Thai chiles.

     

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    Pure Leaf unsweetened ice tea was used in this recipe. You can brew your own tea. Photo courtesy Pure Leaf.

     

    Preparation

    1. HEAT the canola oil in a medium sauté pan until just before smoking. In a shallow bowl, toss shallots with flour, shaking off any excess. Fry the shallots in the oil, stirring gently until golden, about 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer shallots to a paper towel-lined plate to drain. Season immediately with 1/2 teaspoon salt.

    2. COMBINE in a large saucepan 4 cups of iced tea, water, bruised lemongrass, sliced ginger, 10 cilantro stems and the remaining teaspoon salt; bring to a boil. Add the rice noodles and cook until just tender, about 7 minutes. Drain and rinse thoroughly under cold water until chilled. Shake out any excess water and spread noodles on a paper towel-lined tray.

    3. MAKE the dressing: Combine the reserved lemongrass, reserved ginger, chiles, soy sauce, fish sauce, lime juice, brown sugar and remaining 1/4 cup Iced Tea in a blender or food processor; pulse until smooth.

    4. PLACE the noodles, cucumbers, carrots, radishes, mint, cilantro leaves and chicken/shrimp in a large bowl. Add dressing to taste and toss well. Garnish with fried shallots and crushed peanuts before serving.

     

    NOTE: Any remaining dressing can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week and used on meat, fish and salads.

      

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