Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Gluten-Free Crunchy-Flax Review : Enjoy Life Perky's Cereal

[by Kate — guest gluten-free blog author


Gluten-Free Product Review:
Enjoy Life’s Perky’s Crunchy Flax Cereal

Initial Impressions are Not Always Lasting Ones

I’m not going to lie.  I ate a handful of Perky’s Crunchy Flax Cereal by Enjoy Life and wondered what state of gustatory deprivation the gluten-free eaters I know must be in to actually have gone out of their way to recommend this cereal to me.  But, I kept eating — reluctantly at first — and my palate began to accommodate itself to the potent flax flavor of the cereal until, amazingly, I decided I was on my way to liking these crunchy little balls of flax!

An Improved Gluten-Free Breakfast



My hunch was that Perky’s Crunchy Flax Cereal would taste best not on its own, but either in some nice almond milk or, better yet, used in place of granola in a bowl of yogurt, fresh strawberries, and frozen blueberries.  I gave this latter option a try and absolutely loved it (so much so that I wanted seconds…maybe even thirds)!

The flax adds such a nice hearty and rich flavor to the yogurt and berries, and the crunchiness of the cereal adds an extra layer of texture very similar to that crunchy texture achieved by traditional granolas (many of which are out of bounds for non-wheat and non-oat eaters).  I am very happy to report that the cereal is able to retain its crunchiness even when incorporated into the yogurt for a few minutes, meaning that you don’t have to inhale it in order to keep it nice and crunchy and fresh when choosing to eat it with milk or yogurt.  Frankly, this is even a huge improvement on many “normal” wheat-containing cereals that quickly disintegrate into gross piles of mush when subjected to any semi-liquid substance!

Gluten-Free and Nutritious:
Plenty of Fiber and Protein

Some other very positive things to be said for Perky’s Crunchy Flax Cereal are that it is not only gluten-free (made in a certified GF facility), but is actually advertised as being free of the 8 most common allergens!  For those of you who developed celiac disease and a slew of other food allergies on its heels, this could be one of the few safe store-bought products for you to eat as it’s free from: wheat, dairy, peanuts, tree nuts, egg, soy, fish, and shellfish and also made without casein, potato, sesame and sulfites!

In addition, this gluten-free (and other allergen-free) Crunchy Flax Cereal boasts many nutritional benefits, including 6grams of fiber, 7grams of protein, 8% Niacin, 15% Iron, 425mg of Omega-3’s, and 15% Vitamin B6 per serving (serving size = approximately ¾ cup).  On the flip side, the cereal weighs in at a fairly negligible 200calories and 3grams of fat per serving.  One final dietary hurrah I’d like to note is that the cereal is sweetened with fruit juice and honey, rather than with that awful corn syrup you find in so many products these days.

GF Product Review Summary: Recommended

All in all, I would happily recommend this product, especially to those of you who have allergies to many foods in addition to wheat intolerance issues or celiac disease.  Even if you don’t like the product at the first taste, give it another try or two and I bet it’ll grow on you like it did on me.  Try it, like I did, with a favorite yogurt and some fruit, and I bet you’ll be one happy guy or gal!

[Mike's Comments]
I have eaten this Crunchy-Flax cereal for quite some time and I really enjoy it.  As Kate pointed out, this product truly lives up to its "Crunchy" name: it has extraordinary crunch and texture, especially for a gluten-free cereal.  I too initially found the flax-component to be a bit heavy flavored relative to other flavors in the cereal, but I quickly found the taste quite pleasing — in fact, I find myself grabbing a handful (plain) now and then just for a quick snack, as I find the crunchy, hearty, flavorful cereal quite satisfying.  I normally have the cereal with a bit of rice milk or hemp milk on it (for breakfast), with a sprinkle of cinnamon added too.  I concur with Kate's recommendation: this wheat-free / gluten-free product is worth a try and it is a great way to get some extra fiber and grain-variation into your gluten-free diet (whole sorghum flour being the other grain besides flax in this product).  Enjoy.  

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Yogurt Review / Comparison (Gluten-Free): Voskos vs. Liberte

[by Kate — guest gluten-free blog author

GLUTEN-FREE Fig-Flavor Yogurts
Comparison and Review

I must admit that I am a huge fan of figs — I’ve paired fresh ones with goat cheese, poblano peppers, and corn tortillas to make some tasty Quesadillas, I eat them dried, and I love fig flavored yogurt.  Although I enjoy figs in many capacities, as it happens, today I want to talk about that joyous occasion when figs meet my favorite breakfast food, yogurt!


GLUTEN-FREE / FULL-CREAM Liberté Yogurt

I’ve eaten my fair share of Liberte brand Mediterranee Plum and Fig yogurt and their now discontinued Fig and Walnut yogurt.  I had imagined that Liberte, with its extensive line of exotically flavored and ever satisfying flavors, was my only choice for fig flavored yogurt.  But, lone behold, the fig is far more pervasive than I had imagined!


[Mike's Comments]
I have consumed the gluten-free Liberte Plum and Fig yogurt a few times. Quite simply: it is fantastic!  This is one of the best tasting yogurts I have ever had, and it is seriously creamy, rich, and satisfying with a wonderfully balanced and pleasing combination of flavors that come together for near-perfection — I enjoy it more than most ice cream.  This yogurt gives me a great "baseline" by which to compare others, and I am looking forward to trying the Voskos fat-free version after reading Kate's review (since, a fat-free version with fantastic qualities will spare me the cholesterol and calories while still getting my healthy diet probiotics!)


And, now back to her impressions of the Voskos yogurts...


GLUTEN-FREE / FAT-FREE Voskos Greek Yogurt

On an unexpected trip to Whole Foods Market I found myself ogling another variety of fig yogurt, Voskos brand Exotic Fig Greek Yogurt.  While Liberte’s Plum and Fig yogurt has 12grams of fat and 270calories in just one tiny little 6oz  yogurt cup, Vosko’s Exotic Fig yogurt is a non-fat Greek-style yogurt with only 160calories.  Aside from fat content and calorie count, Vosko’s Exotic Fig yogurt also beats out Liberte’s yogurt by having 11grams of protein compared with Liberte’s 6grams, while containing 4% Iron to Liberte’s 0%.

Price and Taste-Test Results

Now, to put it plainly, it’s a bit painful to pay nearly $1.50 for 5.3oz of yogurt, but what a delicious 5.3oz they were!  I absolutely loved the flavor of Vosko’s non-fat, Greek-style fig yogurt!  The yogurt had a distinctly fresh, figgy flavor and the texture enhanced the feeling that I was eating a fresh fig by by incorporating actual fig seeds — something which the Liberte fig yogurt does not do — lending the yogurt that mildly crunchy texture of an actual fig.

Voskos Exotic Fig yogurt felt light and creamy on the palate which, combined with the luxuriant flavor of the fig, made me feel more like I was eating a dessert than a breakfast food with a negligible calorie count and no fat!


GLUTEN-FREE Labeling

Not only is Vosko’s Exotic Fig flavored yogurt tasty as all heck, but their website clearly states that all of their products are gluten-free.  I had wondered if this would be the case because there is no indication that the product is certified gluten-free on the packaging itself, but the ingredient list showed no signs of gluten (which is not always a clear indication that there actually is no gluten, unfortunately).  I was happy, then, when I came home and checked Voskos website and saw clearly stated in the Voskos Yogurt Frequently Asked Questions section that their products are gluten-free clearly.

Now, if only they would just put that gluten-free label directly on their products so we can feel good buying in the moment, rather than having to constantly double-check!

Monday, June 06, 2011

GF Recipe Variation : Quinoa Stuffed Poblanos, take two.

[by Kate — guest gluten-free blog author

I decided to use a recipe that had previously been posted here on the Gluten-Free Blog and "make it my own" with some quick modifications that suit my tastes.  I started by reading the blog post about Gluten-Free Quinoa Stuffed Poblanos (link to blog post) and then I turned my attention to the recipe I was to start with — it is online here: GF and vegetarian Recipe: Quinoa and Smoked-Gouda stuffed Poblano Peppers (link).

(Picture from Original Recipe before my changes.)

My Gluten-Free Recipe Alterations

I decided to spice things up a bit with some simple changes to the gluten-free ingredients list.  My variations from the original recipe — all with regards to the quinoa pepper-stuffing ingredients:

  • Used smoked paprika, chipotle seasoning, salt and pepper for spices 
  • Used mix of smoked Gouda and reduced fat sharp cheddar for cheeses
  • Added chopped cilantro
  • Added 1 chopped jalapeño
  • Added some chopped red onion and fresh garlic 
  • Added black beans (from a can) 
  • Added 1 can Rotell (hot) tomatoes 
The results: very tasty, and a bit spicier than the original version!  I tried the original recipe before, and thought it could benefit from the added flavors and spices.  Plus, the black-beans and tomatoes further enhanced the Mexican-inspired flare of the original dish.  I have since used the leftover quinoa (with all of the ingredients I added to it) in some very tasty gluten-free tacos with beans, avocado, salsa, and greek yogurt.  Mmmm!

The picture above shows what my version of the recipe looks like when completed.  They look rather similar to the original picture (as shown at top of blog), and you can see the difference the beans, tomatoes, and other ingredients make to the filling.  And, there is some Greek Yogurt in the background ready for dispersing on the pepper once it is cut.

It is always nice to have adaptable recipes at your disposal that lend themselves to simple variations that you can make "your own" very quickly.  I'm a huge fan of quinoa also, and these recipes are a great way to put quinoa to use in your diet in a taste-infused way.