Category Archives: Snacks

New Product: The GFB (The Gluten Free Bar) – and a GIVE AWAY

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DISCLAIMER:  I have NO connection whatsoever with this company.  I received 4 bars to taste for this review.

I rarely do product reviews, so for those of you who are curious about that please know this:  I love easy, accessible gluten-free foods, but I’m picky!  If I can make a better version in my kitchen, I don’t typically write a review of it.  That being said, I actually have three products that I want to review in the next few weeks.  Oh yes, gluten free foods are getting better, people!  (And my life is manic, which has helped usher in a new appreciation for prepared gluten free goodness.  Life with one child?  Busy.  Life with two (ages 2 and under)?  INSANE, joyous, fabulous and utterly EXHAUSTING.)

This first product is one my to-order list.  And right at the top of it, too.   And I honestly was a tad leery at first.  Not only was it a protein bar (something I never thought I would be packing in my car/purse) but the name made me giggle.

You see, when Elliott (one of the owners) contacted me and I saw the name “GFB(The Gluten Free Bar), my mind flashed back to the books I would read to my elementary school kids.  Roald Dahl (who wrote Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Matilda, etc) wrote a book called the BFG.  It’s about a gentle giant who lives in the land of kid-eating giants (don’t worry…it’s not freaky).  The giants choose their “dinner entrees” based on country names.  The kids from Turkey?  Taste like turkey, of course.  The kids from Chile?  Yeap.  Chili.  The kids from Greece?  Ew.  Not so tasty unless you are in to sinew and stuff.  So now that you have had that lovely adventure through my mind’s eye, you can see why I was chuckling at the email and completely willing to try the protein bars.

The guys (there are three of them) manufacture these bars in Chicago.  A fact I missed until they arrived and I saw the return address.  And now I know.  Chicago tastes like peanut butter goodness.  Well, at least it does according to these yummy bars.  Definitely a fact I missed even though I lived there for ten years.  (We HEART Chicago and miss it dearly.  But peanut butter is definitely not the flavor profile I would give to that city of FANTASTIC food!  You gotta travel there to believe me, but it’s true.  GF Dining isn’t so tough with that many options about…. but I digress.  Let’s get back to these bars.)

I have struggled with the adjectives that I want to use to describe these bars.  I really think there are so many protein bar options on the market because it is SUCH a huge personal choice/preference.  Unlike cereal, which 90% of us can agree SHOULD be crispy even with milk, protein bars have a wide variety of textures, flavors and feel when you eat them.  I think I like these so much because if I were to make a protein bar, it would be like these.

These bars are moist (the peanut butter version moreso than the chocolate-peanut butter, IMHO) and slightly chewy.  There is just enough of a crunch from the peanuts, brown rice and flax seeds to let you know that you are tasting something fabulous.  You gotta have crunch.  But not so much that I fear for my teeth and hope for a huge bottle of water.  This crunch is perfectly subtle and delectable.

I tried the first bar on a morning when I had rushed about for the two girls.  It was a choatic morning.  By 2:30pm, I was so hungry I was truly contemplating munching on my own person.  The baby was asleep on the couch in a room that is attached to the kitchen and the toddler was asleep on the other end.  Since they had both been fussy (colds, etc) and hard to get down for naps, I didn’t dare “whip up”something in the kitchen.  In fact, I was even considering eschewing the plastic wrapper on the GFB (almost typed BFG there again….yikes).  I snuck into another room and open the package, hopeful that I would truly find something to satisfy my hunger least I have yet one more crabby girl in the house.

And it was great.  The bars are slightly sweet (they contain brown rice syrup, dates and agave) but not so sweet that I would have thought it was a candy bar.  In fact, it was appropriately sweetened for my tastes.  Since they are slightly soft/chewy (not overly like a taffy or a fig bar, but a thickened peanut butter style), it was easy to eat and enjoyed without having a million crumbs hit my lap.

And the best part?  This bar plus a glass of water completely satisfied my hunger.  Really.  And not just as a temporary swing either.  I was perfectly content until dinner time.  In fact, dinner was LATE that night because I was truly satisfied and hadn’t even thought about dinner.

Elliott was kind enough to send me 4 bars (2 peanut butter, 2 chocolate-peanut butter).  As soon as I figured out that the bars were tasty and worked well, I packed one in my car and another in my purse (for my desk at work).  The remaining bar (a chocolate-peanut butter one) was “sacrificed” recently just for this post.  :grin:  (Hey, somebody’s gotta do it, right?)  I wanted to be able to write about the chocolate version too.

I like the chocolate one as well.  It’s NOT a sweet chocolate bar (I was relieved), but since it has the addition of cocoa, it is not quite as moist (very slightly so – may have even just been that bar) as the peanut butter one.  But it is definitely tasty too.

I will be ordering some of the peanut butter bars for our house and my travels.  With the two kids, I find that sometimes I am prepared for their snacks/meals, but not my own.  And then, by the time they are fed and satisfied, I’m starving.  These bars are going to be quite a help and relief when those moments hit.  Once we are back to the gym routine, I know this bars will be a great energy boost then too.

So are you interested yet?  I hope so!

The cost of the bars work out to about $2.00 per bar.  They are sold in very limited retailers (although, I am going to ask GF Joe to see if he can get them!).  So you will have to order online (as will I).  Elliott and the gang have offered FREE SHIPPING for Gluten Free Gobsmacked readers AND the first two commenters will receive their own sample pack (like I did).

To get your free shipping, when checking out, enter the coupon code:  gobsmacked

Order yours here:  http://theglutenfreebar.com/

Interested in the give-away?

Do tell:  What do you seek in a protein bar?  (Texture? Content? Taste?  Sweetness?)

Happy Gluten Free Protein Bars, All.

I sincerely wish  The Gluten Free Bar guys the absolute best in their journey as a new GF company.  Every little bit helps – and their tasty contribution to our community is quite appreciated by me. :)

~Kate

PS.  I just saw an offer on their site to TRY their protein bars and if you don’t like them, they will give you a refund – NO QUESTIONS ASKED!  Seriously?  You gotta try these.  :)

Gluten Free Pumpkin Fries

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Gluten Free Pumpkin Fries

Tomorrow shall be a BIG adventure for our little one.  We are off to a pumpkin farm with her Aunt Kari.  Pumpkins are a big theme around here. I’m not sure that Zoe will actually let me cut into the pumpkin she picks out to make a Jack-O-Latern with her.  She won’t let me touch the two little ones that she has now.   The other day she wanted to draw a face on the little pumpkins but when she saw that the marker wouldn’t come off, she wigged.  No pumpkin coloring for her yet.  Maybe when she sees ALL of us cutting and carving pumpkins, she will change her mind.  I’m willing to bet that she will be thrilled to see me carve *my* pumpkin but that she is not going to allow a knife anywhere near her pumpkin.

Case in point:  the pumpkin fries.

I bought two small pumpkins (about 2 pounds each, I think) to make pumpkin fries.  Zoe likes squash so I though she might like to try these pumpkin fries.  However, when I went to cut the pumpkins, she wasn’t happy.  In fact, I had to put the pumpkins aside and get her occupied doing something else.  Like play with her lavender-orange scented rice with scoops and funnels.

Playing with textures
Playing with textures by Kate Chan

Looking on

Then, and only then, could I start peeling and chopping.  Once she saw me happily peeling and preparing the pumpkin fries, there was no problem. She wanted to see the inside “guts” of the pumpkin and we talked about roasting the seeds, etc.

Zoe snuggled up next to my legs drinking her juice and munching on GF cheese crackers as I was prepping the pumpkins. And Rory was in a bouncing chair nearby watching it all go down and cooing away. It brought back memories of standing on chairs around our kitchen table as a kid while I scooped out the pumpkin I was going to carve.  I thought about how much fun I will have when both girls are old enough to carve pumpkins around the kitchen table with me.  Oh, the joy of two little ones.  I just hope time doesn’t steal all of the good opportunities away from me with it’s speed.

I’m going back to work a week from today.  It’s killing me.  Every second that I can, I am listening to the girls.  Rory’s little coos are enough to make time stop and fairies rejoice.  Zoe’s stories keep me company everywhere we go.  She and I headed to the cell phone store (again…really obnoxious third visit in five days….grrrrr) and she kept me laughing the entire ride, wait and trip home.  She tells great jokes (okay… repeating the same joke 700 times really does wear you down and make you laugh more somedays) and she loves to learn.  Both of these girls are the absolute joys of our lives.

Leaving the tiny moments to return to the ebb and flow of traffic, “to do” lists, papers to grade, lessons to write, emails to answer, etc has me just at the edge of breaking.  I can’t imagine what I will miss with them.  I don’t want to even think about it.  I can’t.  It hurts too much.  Instead, I am just trying to take comfort in the times that we will be together and the plans and things that we can do together then.  After all, I am incredibly lucky to be a teacher in the sense that I will have more time with my girls than some friends of mine who work a full calendar year.  I’m just worried about the fact that a teacher’s job doesn’t end when the school day does.  I work until 11PM sometimes and usually on Sundays too.  I’m worried about the impact on my family and my girls.. and to me, to a lesser extent.  I am definitely in need of setting some different professional expectations for myself as well.

I want more time with my kids.

More time to play in the buckets of rice.

More time to watch the seasons changing and teach them about the leaves changing colors, etc.

More time to cook and eat healthy food at a normal paced and not rushing through everything.

More time to listening to the stories that bloom from our days and adventures together.

More time to hear the coos turn into words and into stories of their own.

Just more time.

We all want that, don’t we?

So I guess I will just seize the opportunities as they come and as we make them.  Like making pumpkin fries and talking about Halloween when I was little with them.  And for those of you who are curious, Zoe is not interested in dressing up this year for Halloween.  She doesn’t think it sounds like fun (yet) to be wearing a costume or a wig or make up, etc.  Ah well, more time for me to savor my little one at home.  (And honestly?  MUCH less temptation to eat too!  We are giving out mini Play-doh containers.  Those leftovers will surely be loved to bits by the girls and my high school students.  LOL)

Since it is pumpkin season, now is the time to make your own pumpkin fries and relive or create some memories.  I made two batches of oven baked fries.  One was savory and the other cinnamon-sweet.  Both will enjoyed by Zoe and I.  We highly recommend you giving them a try yourself too!

Cutting pumpkin fries

Cutting pumpkin fries, Photo by Kate Chan

Gluten Free Pumpkin Fries

Ingredients (per batch)
1 two pound + pie pumpkin

for Savory fries:
olive oil
salt
pepper
optional: ground garlic, ground ginger

for Sweet fries:
3 Tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
Optional:  1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400F.
  2. Peel and scoop our pumpkin.
  3. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  4. Cut pumpkin into fries.  (I cut mine into 3-4 inch long sticks that are about 1/2 inch thick.)
  5. Toss one pound of the cut fries in a tiny bit (maybe 1 tablespoon, or two?) of olive oil with salt and pepper (to taste).  Consider tossing in some of your other favorite spices combinations like:  ground garlic +ground ginger, cumin + fennel, etc.
  6. Mix together the cinnamon and sugar.  Toss the remaining pumpkin fries in the cinnamon sugar mix.
  7. Spread savory fries out in a single layer on one prepared cookie sheet and the sweet fries on another.
  8. Bake the fries in the oven for 20 minutes.  Then remove the pans.  Flip the fries over.  When you return the fries to the oven, be sure to rotate the pans as well.  Whichever was on the top shelf, move to the bottom and vice versa.  Continue baking another 15 – 25 minutes or until the fries are crispy and a deep golden brown color on the edges and the top.

Enjoy with your favorite meal – or eat them for dinner like Z & I did!

Happy Gluten Free Eating!
~Kate

GF Easy Treats/Yummy Source: NutsOnline

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Goodies from Nuts Online

One of the interesting aspects about blogging that I never really thought about was the opportunity to try new products.  Sometimes manufacturers or publishers contact us to inquire if we would like to try their products – in an genius effort to get some PR from our possible blog posts about their products.  I have a couple recipe books that I will give away next month for Celiac Awareness thanks to these promotions – so we are all going to win from their generosity. :D  (Gotta love that!)

Before I went into the hospital for Rory, I was contacted by Nuts Online to see if I was interested in reviewing their GF products.  I told them that the post might take a while for me to put together.  After all, there’s another priority in the house as if the Chicklet wasn’t enough!  They still wanted to have me try their goodies.  And boy, am I glad I did!  They sent a box of numerous tasties in PERFECT sizes for me to make lunch for the Chicklet and I and STILL have a little taste for my Love when he came home.

Two of the items they included were millet and quinoa.  There are perfectly easy for me with a newborn in the house as I could just pop it into a rice cooker with some seasonings and broth and walk away.  The rice cooker isn’t a fire worry for me if I flake out like the gas stove is AND it will keep it warm until I get a chance to eat something.  The protein from the quinoa and the vitamin rich millet are definitely the right kind of nutritional boosts that I need too.  (Unlike the chocolate bar hiding out in my purse or my left arm… both of which look like they might be tasty when I’m starving!)

In addition to millet and quinoa, Nuts Online also sent out some Chile-Lime Pistachios (yum!), Chocolate/Candy coated sunflower seeds (the Chicklet approves!  LOL), walnuts, fried veggie chips,  walnuts, etc.  They offer a wide range of gluten free shopping options.  You can find their gluten free goodies here.    I am seriously tempted to order some goji berries from them and see what they are like too.  The reviews of their goji berries seems to indicate that they are not going to be the shriveled little nuggets I can find locally.  (The local ones do VERY little to encourage me – or my Love to incorporate them into our diets.)

And… I want to try their Hearty Whole Grain Gluten Free Bread mix.  They list directions for the bread maker as well as for the oven – so I’m good to go no matter which I am able to use.  (Although I think our stand-mixer is showing signs of giving out (BOO!), so the bread maker might be getting a new round of testing soon!)

The *only* thing i wish I could find on their site is the ingredient list of the mixes (like the bread mix I list above or the other GF mixes they have available). (Ignore that…I’m a dork and found the ingredients listed at the very bottom of the product page.  DUR!)   I’m not a fan of some gluten free flours (as I’m sure many of us are), so I try to avoid buying products with flours that have flavors that I don’t care for.   I also know that some of us can’t have every flour.  Just because it is gluten free, doesn’t mean that it is a green light for everyone.

Have you ordered anything from Nuts Online?
Do you buy your gluten free products online?
What do you buy online for your gluten free eating and baking?

Hmmm… I might have to check out some online options for things I want to try or can’t find locally.
Shopping with a newborn and a toddler is proving to be a time-consuming and muscle-building endeavor that may not always be feasible. ;)
Got any tips?  I could use them!
~Kate