Gluten Free Noodles

28 Apr

When I got a message from Ben at Cappello’s, a Colorado based company specializing in gourmet gluten free & grain free pasta, asking if I would review their products, I think my heart skipped a beat. Even though I have been gluten free for 3 years, I still hadn’t found a noodle that I could cook at home that wouldn’t end up being slimy, chewy, & just plain weird-looking. So, when I checked out Cappello’s website, I knew I was going to have a life-altering, gluten free experience!

When I got the package in the mail, the first thing I thought was “How cute is this packaging?!”, and I snapped pics left & right on Instagram. I was also impressed at the quality of the products, even before I opened the package. I received gluten free fettuccine noodles, lasagna noodles, and gnocchi. Each were fresh, and would only need to be cooked in boiling water for less than 2 minutes!

The first thing I decided to cook was the lasagna & fettuccine. Now, you may remember that I am not the household chef , but I put on my big girl pants this time & decided to make everything myself!! For the lasagna, I of course cooked up some ground turkey & sauce, mixed some ricotta cheese, and got our 9″x13″ pan ready for what was going to be the most amazing thing it had ever held.

The nice thing about the lasagna noodles coming fresh was that I didn’t have to cook them before it was time to lay them! After I arranged all three layers in the pan, I had an extra noodle so I dipped it in the leftover sauce and ate it. All I can say is, before cooking & everything, this noodle was better than any other gluten free noodle I had ever had!! This made me so excited for the meal we were going to enjoy in just an hours time.

After putting the lasagna in the oven, I got everything ready to cook the fettuccine noodles. Once again, these came fresh, so we simply had to boil 3-4 quarts of water & cook the noodles [we found 1 minute was perfect]. After they were cooked, we poured them out & rinsed them in cold water.

Just looking at the noodles [sans sauce] I knew we had hit the gluten free jackpot. They looked so fresh – not slimy, or chunky as other ones usually are! My mom & I then ate a few noodles, with NOTHING on them  by the way, and they tasted GLORIOUS! We made my stepdad, Craig [the gluten eater in the house] try them too & he was very impressed as well!

After both the lasagna and fettuccine noodles were ready, we plated the food.

As good as these gluten free meals look, they tasted even better! The noodles were “melt in your mouth” good! The lasagna tasted better than I can remember gluten-filled ones tasting! The fettucinne noodles were amazing as well. I don’t have the traditional sauce for fettecinne noodles, because I personally don’t like it, but I still got the jist of the yummy noodles! Words really can’t describe the quality of these products. I don’t know how Cappello’s does it! The almond flour they use is straight out of Heaven.

What’s even better – these products tasted just as good reheated for leftovers! I had the world’s best lunch the following day. I’m pretty confident everyone was jealous of the smell coming from my office.

After being thoroughly impressed with the fettuccine & lasagna, I couldn’t wait for the gnocchi we cooked a few days later. Now, I had never had gnocchi before, even in my gluten days, so I was excited for what it would taste like! My mom took the wheel on this meal, and we found a meat sauce to use to pour over the gnocchi, filled with tomatoes & carrots [nomnom].

Once the sauce had simmered, we were ready to get the noodles ready. Once again, they only needed to be cooked for about a minute, making it very fast & easy to do. After a long day of work, and then smelling the sauce simmer for an hour, I couldn’t wait to dig into this!!

Not that I was surprised, but the gnocchi was amazing! I don’t know how to describe them because it was so good. Soft, fresh, and “light” almost. You don’t need a lot of sauce on these, as I imagine you would with other gluten free brands, because it doesn’t give you that dense feeling known to GF products.

I recommend Cappello products to EVERYONE. They will please all palates [including gluten eaters]! Follow Cappello’s on Twitter @Cappellos, & visit www.cappellosglutenfree.com to purchase what will soon be your favorite gluten free products.

Gluten Free Bake Shoppe

21 Apr

The lucky gluten free girl that I am received a package in the mail the other day containing what some may call a little slice of heaven. As a guest blogger for the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness, I was expecting a package for my next review, but had no idea just how amazing it would end up being.

The box full of goodies I had been sent was from the Yumbana Gluten Free Bake Shoppe. Included in the package was a short description of the bake shoppe, as well as a variety of gluten free treats. After pulling each muffin, cookie, and  cake out one by one, I started to realize just how lucky my taste buds were.

The products I would be sampling were 4 types of muffins, oatmeal, walnut, chocolate chip cookies, a coffee cake, and a raspberry crumble cake. Being that I have a pretty big sweet tooth, I felt prepared for the challenge, and was ready to get down in the gluten free trenches.


To read my full review of the products, and be extremely jealous that you weren’t sampling right there with me, visit the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness website, and check out their Gluten Free Hot Products blog!!!

Share the G-Free love, and order a Yumbana gluten free goodie today!

Gluten Free Vegetable Pasta

9 Apr

Having been gluten free for nearly three years now, I have become accustomed to the restrictions we have with our diet, but I also have found may substitutions for my once favorite, gluten-filled meals.

In my former life, carbo-loading was one of my favorite past times. But, after realizing gluten was my enemy, I had to sadly say farewell to spaghetti dinners & garlic bread. Now, I have found substitutions for noodles, and just recently discovered my favorite Italian bread [Canyon Bakehouse Rosemary & Thyme Focaccia], so I have been able to fill the void. But, as good as the gluten free food tastes, my metabolism isn’t what it use to be. So, I was recently sent Summit 6 Pasta Sauce in the mail, [thanks to the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness]and was asked to use the sauce with a 12 Vegetable Pasta Recipe. This was a God send because the non-veggie lover I am would have never made this recipe without being asked.

Folks, let me tell you, this turned out to be one of the most scrumptious gluten free meals I have ever had. The Summit 6 Pasta Sauce blended perfectly with spaghetti squash, & veggie filled sauce, leaving me the perfect amount of “full”. Also, since bikini season is fastly approaching, I was able to meet my Italian food cravings without throwing tons of calories out the window.

To read my entire review of Summit 6 Pasta Sauce, visit the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness site!

Gluten Free Snacks

29 Mar

So now that I’m a workin’ woman again [yes, I got a job!!!], I am back to packing my lunch & snacks to get me through those 8 hours. Packing a gluten free lunch can get boring sometimes, having the same sandwich or snack bars every day, so I am doing my best to keep it exciting. One thing I will tell you is, it’s a lot easier to have a variety of gluten free foods on hand when your parents foot the grocery bill. Living at home just got way cooler.

I am sure we all have our favorite go-to gluten free snacks, but I figured I would take this time to enlighten you about my personal preferences. Who knows, maybe I will open up your eyes to a new option to try. Also, I just like to talk about myself, so here we go…

Larabars

I just recently fell in L-O-V-E with Larabars the past few months. I always saw them in gluten free magazines & on  gluten free blogs but I never took the plunge & purchased any [mainly because I was on a college student’s budget]. The good thing about Larabars is that there are a variety of flavors to meet everyone’s pallete. I personally love the following flavors: apple pie, blueberry muffin, chocolate chip brownie, and chocolate chip cookie dough.

Pamela’s Products Whenever Bars

Pamela’s Products Whenever Bars were love at first taste for me. We recently stocked up on them after taking a trip to Whole Foods, and after trying one for the first time, I knew I had found my tastebud’s soulmate. I tried the Oat Blueberry Lemon and Oat Raisin Walnut Spice flavors, and was very impressed. Sadly, we only had two boxes, so I am now out of these yummy bars, but they are definitely a gluten free must have!

think Thin Bars

think Thin bars are high in protein and very tasty! Some may say they are meant to act as a meal replacement, but I don’t play that game. I use these bars to fill that void in the afternoon, or that “2:30 feeling” where you need a snack/motivation to make it to 5 o’clock. I like these bars even more because they have a chocolate taste to them, so it’s almost like eating a candy bar without the regret & shame afterwards. I have tried the Brownie Crunch Protein Bar, Chocolate Fudge Protein Bar, and the Cookies and Cream Bites. After browsing through thinkproducts.com I am angered by the fact that my local grocer only carries a portion of the flavors. I see a lot more tasty sounding bars that I’d love to pack in my lunch.Nuts

I know most people turn to assorted nuts or trail mix for a nice protein filled snack, but I’m a little pickier. Pistachios are the only nut I mess with, so in my “Nut” category, they are what I am referring to. I know my mom likes to eat those nut clusters, with a piece of dried fruit thrown in here & there, but that’s not my style.  I like crackin’ open my pistachios for a good afternoon snack. They’re perfect for when you hit that afternoon wall at work, but have a dreadful 3 hours left, with a growling tummy. Pistachios are my fav because they take long to eat since you have to crack every shell open. It’s like playing a mind game with your stomach – it thinks you are eating a lot because it’s taking so long, but in reality it’s only a handful of nuts. It’s a win-win as we enter bikini season [or swim trunk season, whichever one applies to you…even Speedo season if that’s how you roll].So those are my go-to gluten free snacks. Yours may be different, or similar…we all have our preferences. If you have not tried some of the above products, I advise you to give those taste buds a treat and go for it. Feel free to tell me your favorite snacks…I’m always looking for new products to try!

Gluten Free on a Carnival Cruise: Dining Room

16 Mar Carnival Fun Ships

This is part 4 of my Gluten Free Experience on a Carnival Cruise. If you read the first 3 posts, you would know that the gluten free options aboard the Carnival Pride were surprisingly abundant. This post will now focus on the experience in the formal dining room.

If you have been on a cruise, or are thinking about going on a cruise, you may know that the dining room is available to all cruisers every night with a changing menu of 4 courses. Through our research before going on the ship, my mother and I knew we had to ask the Maitre’ D about our options. After doing this the first day, the dining room hostess remembered our names, table number, and preferences making the process very easy. Each evening, she would come to our table and show us the menu for the next day. We were guaranteed a gluten free alternative to just about everything, making it seem like we didn’t even have Celiac disease holding us back!

When dining out at a restaurant with a gluten free menu, the usual options consist of meat, potatoes, and vegetables…so I thought my options on the Carnival Pride would be similar. I was wrong.

Carnival provides everything from Pasta and Bread, to Chicken with Thai spices. I was offered choices such as Lasagna Bolognese, Beef Stroganoff, and Braised Lamb. The variety of sauces, spices, and side dishes was amazing. I often wish to try something while dining at a restaurant with a gluten free menu, and then find out that the sauce, or spice that makes the dish what it is, is sadly NOT guaranteed gluten free. The chances for me to broaden my horizons while on this cruise were everywhere. Being the picky eater I am, I was able to try a dish without fearing that I would not like it and then end up hungry while wasting money at the same time. Another plus to cruising – it’s like an all-you-can-eat , upscale buffet!!

Another great thing about the dining room was that we were given gluten free bread with each meal. It was nice to actually be passed the bread basket for once, especially when I was STARVING since we didn’t dine until the 8:15 PM. But, I do have a few suggestions for Carnival – get a contract with a different gluten free company! The bread we were given was nice, but definitely didn’t even come close to the quality of other gluten free bread out there. It would have been amazing if we were given Canyon Bakehouse, Rudi’s, or Udi’s products. I would think that these companies would love to have a contract with a brand like Carnival, and it would also make Carnival’s gluten free menu 100x better. If anyone from Carnival is reading this post right now, PLEASE look into this!!! I promise you, if this was advertised to Celiacs and Gluten Free individuals, you would have A LOT more of these cruisers aboard your ships. In light of the recent events in the news regarding cruise ships, I think anything that can help business is worth trying!!!

All in all, the experience was WONDERFUL. It is very nice to know us G-Free’ers are able to enjoy vacations such as this even with our dietary restrictions. I do hope the options get better in the future, and Carnival teams up with some of our favorite gluten free companies. Doing so would make gluten free cruisers rave EVEN MORE about their experience on their Carnival Fun Ship.

Thanks for reading about my vacation, and I hope you look into a Carnival cruise yourself so you can have just as much fun & food as I did!!!

Gluten Free Italiana

13 Mar giulios-logo-588x382

From time to time, my family takes a bit of a trip to MI for one sole purpose – gluten free food. The usual trip consists of a stop at Whole Foods [yes, there is no Whole Foods near my home in Toledo, OH…it’s tragic, really] amounting to a pretty hefty bill. We like to stock up on bagels, bread, pizza crusts, cereal bars, and other fun treats that we don’t have in the grocery stores near us. We sure did stock up on this trip, seeing that our freezer could currently feed a small Celiac army. Some may say we went a bit overboard, but I personally think that we just like to be prepared.

So after the Whole Foods trip was over, it was time for the real treat of the trip – the best dinner a gluten free gal could dream of. Where is this you may ask? Giulio’s Cucina Italiana in Livonia, MI.

The first time we stumbled upon Giulio’s was about 2 years ago when the self-proclaimed Gluten Free Guru was their head chef. Let me tell you, he sure is a “Guru”. Although he is no longer at Giulio’s, their menu is still fabulous. Almost the entire menu has gluten free substitutes available, making it not a “What can I eat?” kind of gluten free restaurant, but rather “What am I going to choose?!” gluten free restaurant.

Well, here’s what we chose. First off, Italian sausage appetizer. I forgot to snap a pic of it, because the carnivore in me started to dig in before I could manage to take a photo. I still think you can appreciate the fact that we were able to have the Italian sausage though, since us g-free’ers don’t always have the choice to eat sausage when dining out.

glorious.For my main course I decided to order the Veal Parmigiana. I can’t rave enough about this dish. It honestly was the best piece of veal I have ever had [even when I was a carefree, gluten-eating individual who loved anything that was breaded]. The noodles were also cooked perfectly – not too soggy, and not too hard. We all know there is a fine line between the two when making gluten free noodles. We later found out that the noodles are from Mama Mucci’s Pasta, located in Canton, MI. Needless to say, I went to town on this baby. Glorious is the only word I know that can describe it.

Since my family has such self-control, we also decided to order a Margherita pizza as well. Let me tell you, the crust was perfect. It didn’t taste like a thin gluten free crust, or like a dry, cracker like crust either. One of the best gluten free pizza’s I have ever had.

Now, here’s the real kicker. Dessert. Usually, when you’re dining out gluten free dessert consists of ice cream, sherbert, or maybe a chocolate pudding like dish of some sort. But, at Giulio’s, there’s more options. My mom and I were able to enjoy a Lemon Roll “Cake”. Honestly, one of the lightest, yet satisfying things I have ever tasted. When our waitress told us it was gluten free I did not believe her.

Once the dessert was gone, and I set my fork down, I was the happiest [and fullest] gluten free girl in the entire world. If you are within reasonable driving distance of Livonia, MI you MUST make the trip. You will be happy you did!!!

Gluten Free During Lent

2 Mar

If you’re a good Catholic girl like I am, on Friday’s during Lent there is no meat for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Now, the carnivore in me has some serious troubles with these restrictions. I don’t like fish. We obviously can’t go out for spaghetti or pizza like other people (unless there is a gluten free restaurant around), and I’m just a picky eater. So what do I eat?

Now some people may reply to this with suggestions to cook some fabulous, tasty, gluten free meal sans meat…but I’m going to be honest with you all – – I’m Lazy. Yeah, I  said it. You obviously can tell by my previous posts that I’m not the blogger with the recipes, and tutorials…I’m the blogger with the stories about eating OUT at gluten free restaurants,  stories of my gluten free vacation, and possibly a post about what dinner my stepdad made me [Craig is the gluten free God]. There’s no post of me describing a recipe I came up with.

So, here is my question to you – – What do you eat on Friday’s during Lent that is gluten free AND easy?

Last week I turned to Rudi’s Gluten Free Pizza Crusts, and whipped up some mini pizzas. I think we can all agree putting sauce, sprinkling cheese, and maybe a vegetable topping is pretty easy. So what recipe do you have that is relatively similar in level of effort, but high in level of tastiness?

Help a gluten free, Catholic sista out.

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