Going Raw

Goraw Banana "Bread" Flax Bar

When I was in Cincinnati in June, my husband and I went to the Whole Foods near him to check it out.  He hadn’t been and needed to pick some food up while we were out.  We were wandering around the store separately when I ran into Goraw Ginger Snaps in the gluten-free section of the cookie aisle.  I love ginger snaps.  I took a closer look at the package.  The ingredients were there in large lettering on the FRONT of the package.  I love that.  I often find myself searching for the ingredient list and then squinting to read the small print.  The ingredients for these ginger snaps?  Organic coconut unsweetened, sprouted organic sesame seeds, organic date, and organic ginger.  That’s it.  clearly labeled on the front is “Gluten Free/Wheat Free/Nut Free/All Live (Dried under 105 degrees)/All Seeds Sprouted/No GMOs/No Trans Fats/No Cholesterol/All Hand Made/All Raw Kitchen/All Family Owned”  Can you say, “love”?  I picked up a package and went on my merry way to find my husband.

I have to say that I really am in love with Goraw products.  I tried those ginger snaps and I couldn’t stop eating them.  The package is 3 servings and I nearly ate the whole package.  I had to force myself to stop.  I did some poking around on their website to see if I could order from there if I couldn’t find them in Louisville.  Sure enough, I can order stuff by the case if I want.  However, some of their products contain agave nectar, which I steer clear of because it is up there with high-fructose corn syrup and is extracted from the agave plant the same way as HFCS.  The great thing about the products is that they are dried.  There is no processing involved in making them.  Definitely fits my whole foods and gluten-free needs.

Spirulina Energy Bar

I decided to back to Whole Foods a few days later while my husband was working.  I love going when they first open because it’s far less crowded in there.  I picked up a few things I needed then went back for more Ginger Snaps.  They had some others like the Original Super Cookie, which had everything from the Ginger Snaps in it but the ginger, and Chocolate Super Cookies.  I picked up more Ginger Snaps and one of the Original.  I skipped the chocolate because of the agave nectar.  Then I was looking around and spotted the Spirulina Energy Bar.   Okay, looks interesting.  You’ve never tried spirulina before.  Go for it! I bought 2 and ate one in the car on the way back to the apartment.  With the banana, coconut, and date, I couldn’t even taste the spirulina.  They did a good job!  I was thinking it would taste like hemp protein or something.   Not that hemp protein is bad.  It just wasn’t what I was expecting.

I found the super cookies in Louisville’s Whole Foods store, but I couldn’t find the energy bars.  So, when I was in Cincinnati last weekend, I bought more Ginger Snaps and Spirulina Energy Bars.  Then wouldn’t you know, I forgot them.  My husband put them in his cabinet to get them out of the way when he had his chado class.  Out of sight, out of mind.

Wednesday, I was at Rainbow Blossom for my CSA pick-up.  I ran in to get some more unsweetened coconut milk for my smoothies and eggs and wound up in the “raw” aisle after checking out their gluten-free section.  Lo’ and behold, Goraw!  They had the Banana “Bread” Flax Seed Bar, which I hadn’t seen before, so I picked up some of those.  And did some looking at their other raw products.  Ah yes, I can open up a package and have a healthy snack that is both gluten-free and whole foods friendly.   I could make this stuff myself, and I still will make some.  But, my options are opening up for things like road trips or snacks I can keep in my desk at work.

I took everything out Thursday to photo and sample.  I was going to do it all in one post, but decided to review each brand separately so no one gets confused.   Sampling is such a rough job.  Especially, when you are trying products that are so good.  I probably shouldn’t have sampled them all at one time, but Thursday was a rough day and I was good enough to pass on buying something totally sinful and full of sugar on my way home from work.  It curbed my need to comfort myself with food and kept me in line with being healthy.  I sampled the Banana “Bread” Flax Seed Bar and darn if they weren’t kidding about the name.  It really does have the taste of banana bread with flax seeds.  I’m not complainin’!

I think I like this whole raw arena that opened up for me.  It’s now more than just fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds.

Branching Out

Gluten-free Shanghai Street Noodles from P.F. Chang's

We don’t eat out much because of my diet restrictions and to help save money.  Since, I’ve randomly started looking up menu and allergen information online for restaurants in Louisville, I want to try things when I find them.  I think the discovery of the gluten-free menu at P.F. Chang’s several weeks ago prompted this.  It had been a while since I had Chinese.  Right now, it’s the only place that I know I can safely have Chinese food.  So what did we do when I was Cincinnati?  Go to P.F. Chang’s!  We had lunch there Sunday, but I forgot my camera, so the picture on the left is from my leftovers.   I took a picture with my phone, but the brightness of the vegetables didn’t quite come out.  I was very happy when the server came out with it and saw all the color from the vegetables.  Tomatoes.  Carrots. Red Cabbage.  Bok Choy.

I returned to Louisville just before lunchtime on Monday.  I could have found something to fix for lunch, but after a 2 hour drive, I just wasn’t up to it.  I went to Chick-Fil-A.  I can have their chargrilled chicken sandwiches without the bun and their fries have their own dedicate fryer separate from the chicken.  I don’t know about the Chick-Fil-As in your area, but the ones here are jam-packed during lunch rush.  More so than any other fast food chain.  When I got there, the manager was outside directing traffic in the parking lot.  The wait looked daunting, but the drive-through line went pretty fast.  I could have parked, but the parking lot is small and with all the cars I would have had to wait for the drive through traffic anyway.  What I was really impressed with was when I got home and pulled the “sandwich” out.  The first time I went to Chick-Fil-A to try the chargrilled chicken sandwich without the bun was last week and that’s what it was a sandwich without the bun.  However, when I opened this one, it was in a different container, there were 2 pieces of lettuce and 2 pieces of tomato on top of the chicken.  I was impressed.  I wrapped the lettuce around the chicken and tomatoes and picked it up to discover the layout of pickles on the bottom.  Yes, layout of pickles.  It wasn’t fancy.  But someone put some effort into the presentation.  I appreciated that.

So after getting back this week, I did some random searches.  I discovered that I can have my favorite at California Pizza Kitchen, BBQ Chicken Chopped Salad.  If you haven’t had that salad, you have to try it!  I’m a bit surprised that they don’t have a gluten-free pizza yet.  Maybe in time, they will!

There is a local Cajun restaurant in town called Joe’s OK Bayou.  For whatever reason, I decided to see if their menu was online.  Sure enough, it was.  Gluten containing dishes are not always obvious.  I know that cajun cooking uses roux (butter and flour) for their sauce bases, but I figured it was  worth a shot to email them and ask if they have anything gluten-free.  When I checked my email again later, I had an email from the owner himself, Joe Wheatley.  He was understanding, nice, and friendly in his response.  Sure enough, there isn’t much on the menu I can have.  We came to a consensus that the boiled items would be the ones I’d have to stick to.   It’s pretty frustrating to go into a restaurant to find yourself limited to 1/8th of the menu.  Thanks to Joe, I’ll know what I’m limited to ahead of time and his response makes me want to go despite my limited options.  I have to savor this because I know I won’t get the same reaction from owners or managers that I’ll be contacting to ask them the same questions.

Corned beef with Field Greens, Tomato, and Stone Ground Mustard on Gluten-free Bread with Fruit Cup from Jason's Deli

We are out a microwave at work.  I didn’t have time to prep anything cold for my lunches this week.  Luckily I only work 5 hours.  I figured I could make sure I eat my rather large breakfast later than usual and take a snack with me to hold me over until I get home.  It worked on Tuesday and Wednesday.  But Thursday was a different story.  I was a bit stressed out, especially after a horrible phone call with someone in the “quality assurance” department at Quantumlink Communications.  It’s rare that my ire is such that I want to reach through the phone and punch someone.  Today was one of those rare occasions.  Then things seemed to spiral down from there.  I think that took its toll on me and I burned through my breakfast faster than usual.  So, I ran to Jason’s Deli real quick to grab a sandwich.  If you read my blog post about my first experience with the gluten-free bread, you’ll remember the copious amount of pastrami that was on the sandwich.  I thought that maybe the amount of meat may have contributed to the disintegration of the sandwich resulting in me using a fork to eat it.  This time, I ordered a “slim” which is half the portion of meat.  You can’t see in the picture, but when I opened it up, the half not pictured was already falling apart.  Again, the more I handled it, the more it crumbled in my hands.   I either need to give up on having sandwiches there or go to another Jason’s Deli to see if the same thing happens with their gluten-free bread.

I’m happy about having more options when we choose to eat out.  Not so happy about disintegrating sandwiches.  *sigh* Maybe it just wasn’t meant to be.

I Love When Others Cook For Me

Brown Rice Pasta Swirls with Tofu, Mushrooms, and Peas

My husband came up with a new pasta dish last week.  He was so proud of it, that he fixed it for me Sunday night, only using gluten-free pasta instead of whole wheat pasta.  His attempt was to season the crumbled tofu so it would be like sausage.

While we were at Whole Foods Friday night, he picked up some mushrooms, tofu, and brown rice pasta.  He wanted a lot of pasta and wound up buying a brand I hadn’t tried before.  Trying new brands of gluten-free items usually comes accompanied by a small prayer that goes something like, “God, please don’t let it totally suck.”  You laugh, but have you tried some of the gluten-free stuff out there?  *shudders from the memories*

The dish turned out well for the most part.  In fact, looking at the picture while typing this is making me want some again.  My husband said he toned down some of the spices because he was concerned I’d find it too spicy.  I told him the more I ate, the less spicy it tasted.  I only had two problems.  One, the pasta didn’t cook evenly.  It turned out to be good pasta, the ones that were cooked all the way through.  But some of it was chewy because it wasn’t thoroughly cooked.  Not sure why some cooked all the way through and others didn’t.  Then again, I wasn’t in the kitchen watching what he did.  Two, too many peas.  I hit a pocket of nothing but peas.  Up until then, I was okay with them.  If you’ve seen me and peas, we don’t really get along.  I am trying though.  I have gotten to the point where I actually like pea soup.  It’s cooked peas just staring at me that I have a problem with, a lot of them that is.

Overall, yummy dish!  Babe, you’ve gotta make more this weekend!