Saturday, December 10, 2016

Glutenfreeda Three Cheese Pizza Wrap

A very weird time.  When I microwaved it, I noticed a strong corn smell.  The first strike against this "pizza wrap" aka Italian burrito is that the main ingredient in the tortilla is corn. Corn doesn't go well with pizza fillings.  Fortunately, it didn't tase much like pizza or Italian food at all - there was little to no sauce, and what sauce was there did not have any flavor.  it was like eating a big cheesy quesadilla.  Which is fine, but the name should be changed to reflect what you'll be eating.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Lucky Brand Gluten-Free Vegan Vegetarian Thai Style Spring Rolls with Lemongrass

I've been eating these since way before I went Gluten-free.  They were always an excellent product, attaining that crispy thin wrapper and authentic filling at home. According to their website, they also make pot stickers and some other appetizers, though I've never seen anything in stock at stores but the spring rolls.  I don't know if they gluten-free ones will be different than the regular ones, but they look identical to the gluten-full version.  Always a good sign.

Today I am trying the Thai-Style Spring Rolls with Lemongrass.  Aside from being gluten free, they're also vegan.  They only have 80 calories apiece, with each one have 20% of your daily Vitamin C, but little else.  I've also purchased the Original Style.  I like both Kale and Cranberries, but that sounds a little wacky to me.  I'm looking for a traditional taste tonight.

The spring rolls are golden straight out of the box.  The directions say to heat in the microwave for one minute, then brown in the pan.  Very smart.  This will thaw the insides so they aren't frozen, but give the outside a chance to crisp properly.  It says to brown them for five minutes.  I'm in no hurry, so I'm going to brown them perfectly regardless of the time.  I added about a half-tablespoon of butter, probably the best 50 calories you could assign anywhere, as this will help the rolls cook in the pan and add flavor.  You could use oil, but oil doesn't improve flavor the way a butter would.  I only use salted butter when cooking. I'm going to toss in some salt in the pan, because I know most food isn't salty enough for me.

They're fully browned and heated through, so I'm going to let them rest for five minutes.  I don't want to burn my tongue on the filling.
Five minutes later...

The brown is perfect!  The filling is the same as the Gluten-Full version: slightly bland, but soft vegetables inside a crispy skin.  The skin is a little stiff, but crisping it in butter really helped.  They might be better baked in the oven or toaster oven instead of the microsave/pan fry combination, as the box recommends baking them for best results.

I don't care for sweet & sour sauce, too sweet, so I am having mine with soy sauce with just a touch of the sweet sauce stirred in.  If you can handle regular soy sauce, you can use that, or a gluten-free Tamari soy sauce if available, which is just as delicious but more expensive than regular soy sauce.  Best of all, try Bragg's Liquid Aminos, which are as salty and savory as regular soy sauce, but without the sodium.  I love it because I love salt, and this gives me the salty flavor I need without the gluten or the sodium.  Bragg's is more expensive than Tamari, but it's totally worth it.  They even make travel-size bottles with a spray cap to spray the flavor directly onto your food.
I know it looks like crazy hippie sauce.  I wouldn't believe in it myself had a crazy hipie not pushed it on me long ago.
Rating: 4/5 Stars.  A little bland, a little dry, but definitely hits the spot when you need that egg roll fix.  I don't get how those were 'Thai', didn't detect any lemongrass, but a fine Chinese-American diner taste and texture.

I enjoyed this meal with Mighty Leaf White Orchard Tea.  This is a white-green tea with melon and peach, light caffeine.  I make a 20 ounce tumbler of it with two tea bags and one tablespoon of sugar.  I should have added a little more sugar, or a stevia on top of the sugar, to make it just a touch sweeter.  

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Feel Good Foods General Tso's Chicken bowl with white rice

When I was a kid, I would go smell the spices in the kitchen.  Most of them smelled like the food they would make someday, or like the food that they has been used in before.  Nothing was like Vanilla.  Vanilla was the great mystery of the spice rack, because it smelled so good.  It was like every beautiful dessert I'd ever had.  But no matter how many times I smelled it, it never tasted good.  The taste was terrible, harsh, alcohol. Not sweet at all.  It amazed me every time I tried it. One of life's mysteries.

Feel Good Foods General Tso's Chicken is much like vanilla.  Other reviews online said it was awful, that the chicken was mushy and gummy.  Having been obsessed with General Tso's and battered chicken products for most of my life, I had to try it anyway.  As it cooked in the microwave, it unleashed a series of amazing smells.  Savory, Sweet, Wok-Fried, all of these flavors filled the air. It seemed certain that this would be delicious.  At long last, it came out of the microwave.  It tasted like absolutely nothing.  I added soy sauce.  Still nothing.  The chicken bits weren't gnarled in my bowl, just bland.  I knew the batter wouldn't be crispy because this would require a crisping sleeve - why this isn't offered with most microwave foods, I don't know, but it seems like Lean Cuisine Pizzas and Hot Pockets have the market cornered on that crisping sleeve technology.
I walked upstairs with my bowl of disappointment.  My spouse sits up in the bed.  "What are you eating?  It smells delicious".
"It's not."  I told him.  "It only smells that way".  Like the elusive vanilla, the flavor is entirely in the smell.  Chicken, broccoli, and rice haven't been this bland since school lunch.
Of course, it looks nothing like the picture.  But did it have to taste like nothing?

Rating: 1.5/5 stars.  It's nutritious, made with vegetables, rice, and meat.  A fine feast for the nose.  But where is the flavor?  I can do better for $6.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Glutenfreeda Roast Beef with Caramelized Onions & Provolone Cheese Pocket Sandwich

I was on the fence about ordering this.  I don't like onions.  I understand the need to flavor things with onions, but I don't want big chunks in there.  Caramelized onions can be great.  At best, this would be some kind of savory Arby's-meets-Hot Pocket Philly cheesesteak thing.  At worst, it might be like the nastiest Hot Pockets with a bunch of sweet onions in it.
What can I say?  I've had enough gluten-free failures over the past ten years to know what not to buy.  I felt this was worth the risk because I have good luck with the burrito-type items, and I need fast cheap savory food like every other American.  So I took the plunge.
The packaging says this is made with a minimally-processed whole-grain gluten-free bread.  In my experience, this can mean just about anything.  Some brands make a glorified white bread with a little less bleach and call it 'Whole Grain', some are sickeningly sweet, relying too much on rice, and some are soft with hard chunks of millet and flax in them, thus ruining the texture.  I'll be looking carefully at the texture of the bread as well as the filling, and ease of cooking.

The package says to take it out of the plastic wrapper and put it on a plate for cooking.  I NEVER DO THIS.  In the Lynn Wilson Burrito days, I discovered you could open one end of the plastic wrapper and microwave it in the wrapper.  the wrapper wouldn't melt, and you'd have a perfectly steamed tortilla for the new two minutes - about the amount of time it took to eat it.  If you were lucky, you'd get the whole thing down after it stopped being molten, but before the tortilla starts hardening.

After 1:30, the thing was still cold in the middle.  I did one more minute.

Microwave Directions: Remove sandwich from plastic wrapper and place on plate in microwave.  Microwave on high for 1 minute to one minute and 15 seconds.  let cool 1 - 2 minutes, enjoy!

Modified Directions: Open plastic sheath, remove sandwich to ensure ice crystals aren't too thick, dust it off if needed.  Shake out the plastic sheath.  Re-insert sandwich in sheath, microwave for 90 seconds, then turn, microwave another 60 seconds if center is still cold.

Of course, it's not bulging with filling like the press photo.
But can you imagine how hard it would be to cook the center if it was any fuller?

The ends hardened, which made them inedible.  But the center was now perfect.
I was amazed immediately at the way the bread tore.  It had a toothsome chew.  I bit in.  Is that flax seed?  Checking the ingredients list, yes, it is.  But it's good in this, it actually tastes like a chewy whole-grain product.  I waited for the onion but didn't find it.  I waited for the lack of salt, or the sting of too much salt.  neither happened.  The meat itself was kinda low-quality, but the cheese was free-flowing and there weren't big gaps in cheese coverage.  At 260 calories, a very fine micro-meal.  For most people, this would be 1/5 to 1/10 of their daily calories, and I think they are very well spent on this item.  It costs between $3 and $4 - I think I paid $4 for it, which is what I pay for a fast food sandwich with a single meat, and I have to remove the bread. PLUS I have to drive or walk to that food, I can't make it in my house.

Rating: 4.5/5 stars

I don't think I've ever had a bad Glutenfreeda product.  I'll be reviewing their Shredded Beef Burrito soon.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

VOTE for what I should eat next

Which should I eat next?  Which should I review?  I've eaten sooooooooo many gluten-free products that it's hard to know where to go next..

I have a bunch of foods:
Udi's Gluten-Free Foods Egg White, Potatoes and Chicken Apple Sausage Gluten-Free Breakfast Burrito

GlutenFreeda Three Cheese Gluten-Free Pizza Wrap

Udi's Gluten-Free Foods Rice and Steak Gluten-Free Burrito with Cheese and Poblano

GeeFree Franks in a Gluten-Free Blanket 

Udi's Gluten-Free Foods Egg, Potatoes and Uncured Bacon Gluten-Free Breakfast Burrito

Lucky Foods Original Gluten-Free Spring Rolls with Traditional Sauce

GeeFree Cheeseburger Gluten-Free Bites

Bell & Evans Breaded Gluten-Free Chicken Breast Tenders 

GeeFree Gluten-Free Chicken Pot Pie

Bell & Evans Boneless Skinless Gluten-Free Breaded Chicken Breasts 

Bell & Evans Breaded Gluten-Free Chicken Nuggets

Feel Good Foods Vegetable Gluten-Free Egg Rolls

Dutch Country Soft Gluten-Free Pretzels

Glutenfreeda Beef & Potato Burrito

Glutenfreeda Shredded Beef Burrito

Glutenfreeda Chicken & Cheese Burrito

Udi's Bean and Cheddar Burrito 

Glutenfreeda Vegetarian Bean & Cheese Burrito

Glutenfreeda Bacon Egg Cheddar Pocket Sandwich 

Walker's Gluten-Free Shortbread Rounds

Comparing savory breakfast items
Comparing burritos
Comparing sweet breakfast items
Comparing cookies
Comparing Baked Goods

Comparing restaurants
Comparing Quorn products
Comparing Glutenfreeda Products
Compaing Feel Good Foods Products
Comparing Udi's products
Comparing breads
Comparing sandwich rolls
Comparing Schar products
Comparing online bakeries
Comparing online retailers
Comparing Canyon Bakehouse products

Not seeing the product here?  Just ask!  i have probably tried it!

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Pizza! Domino's Pizza, Trader Joe's Gluten Free 3 Cheese Pizza, scraping slices, Da Vinci Pizzeria, the Pie, Conte's brand GF Italian food

I don't usually buy frozen pizzas because they're always disappointing.  Regular frozen pizzas have their place in the American diet.  I distinctly recall the taste of a DiGiorno or a Freschetta pizza fresh and leftover.  Sometime last week, I was browsing the Amazon Fresh gluten-free catalog to determine if it was worth my time to pay for this service, and I noticed that they had a gluten-free Freschetta pizza.  I've been thinking about it ever since.  Could it be similar to the original?

Why does this photo of the Signature Pepperoni Pizza show fewer pepperoni?  Is that like shortening your signature?

I live in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, a neighborhood famous for its Italian population.  We have some of the best pizzerias on earth.  Of course, most of them don't have a gluten-free option.  On a particular stretch of 18th avenue, you encounter two of the absolute best: J & V's, and DaVinci.  J&V is something I've never been lucky enough to eat myself, having gone gluten free before ever tasting it.  I've scraped the cheese and sauce off of many a slice in my day (another trick from my mom) and I'm confident this really is the best pizza on earth.  It helps that this neighborhood makes its own ricotta and mozzarella, the white pizza is phenomenal.  I do NOT recommend you scrape the toppings off of any pizza if you're Celiac, and it should be done with great care to ensure you're not pulling crust bits into your cheese.

Da Vinci Pizzeria offers a gluten-free personal pie for $10.00.  It's a decent size and comes with your own plastic pizza slicer with the Conte's logo.  I had it several times before admitting to myself that the Conte crust they use is absolutely horrible, and nothing adheres to it properly.  Come to think of it, I've never had a Conte's product that wasn't a total and complete disappointment.  Their gnocchi, stuffed shells, ravioli...all bad.
Da Vinci probably uses a commercial packaging of this crust.
I feel lucky to be offered any gluten-free crust at all, so I don't dare tell them how bad it is.
Truly a waste of their amazing sauce and cheese.

Conte's brand: consistently gross

Anyhow, I was thinking about this topic because of that Freschetta pizza on Amazon Fresh.  It would be a godsend if it actually tasted like a real Freschetta frozen pizza, that would make it better than every other gluten-free Pizza out there.  Except for maybe the Pie Pizzeria's Gluten-free pizza in Salt Lake City, which is excellent, though the GF Cheesy pull-a-parts were nothing like the original.  Another good pizza is at Lorenzo's in Brooklyn, though they keep changing owners and once put breaded chicken on my Gluten-free pizza, and tried to blame me.  But that's a story for another time.  Domino's offers a gluten-free pie that seems to be available all across the country, but its crust is that gummy, sweet rice flour that tastes like a big mochi wad.  I get it with pepperoni and olives to combat the sweetness as much as possible, but it's still not worth it.  Unless you're at some party where friends are ordering Domino's and you need to eat the same thing to feel like you're participating.
I remembered that I had a Trader Joe's Gluten Free 3 Cheese Pizza in the freezer from my last exodus there.

Trader Joe's Gluten Free 3 Cheese Pizza is only $5, which is part of why I risked the purchase.  How bad could it be? I need a little variety in my meals, and this is a total bargain for NYC.  I bought it to save for a rainy day, or one where it was worth baking something in the oven, anyway.

The directions said to place this directly on the oven rack.  I put it on a cookie sheet instead, because I noticed that the crust was cracked and didn't want to get crumbs everywhere.  I baked it according to the directions, allowed it to cool to edible temperature.  What a disappointment.  All I could taste was oregano, the vulgar cheap kind.  I added Parmigiano Reggiano and some fresh Whole Milk Ricotta (As I said, they make the cheeses fresh in my neighborhood), as well as some salt, and threw it back in to melt them down.  It still couldn't mask that oregano flavor.  The crust itself was browned properly around the edges, but couldn't decide if it wanted to be soggy or crumbly in the center.  Leftovers fared better, as the microwave gave the crust a bendable texture,  It would give this product 2 stars.  I'd order it again in a pinch, but probably would be happier with other items.  Still, you got a lot of food for $5, and at 700 calories for the whole thing, you could eat it whole for dinner.

Interestingly, on another reviewer's blog, several people mentioned that they got sick from eating this pizza, so it may not be the best choice for someone with Celiac, as it is not Certified Gluten Free.  I do not envy my Celiac brothers and sisters out there, that they must take this extra layer of caution.  My Celiac uncle was mistakenly fed full-gluten pasta in a restaurant, and the staff was afraid to tell him.  So they watched him eat the entire meal before informing him.  But again, another story for another day.

This is just my opinion. Another reviewer loved it.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Gluten Free Mall versus Strictly Gluten Free, Part 1

This week, I placed an order through two of the major online retailers, Gluten Free Mall and Strictly Gluten Free.  They sell similar products to eachother - boxed gluten-free pantry items as well as frozen foods.  They have rather similar products, though one might have something for less than the other, and they might have different flavors in stock, so I decided to order from both to compare.  And boy, am I glad I did!  They have vastly difference service.  Let's put it this way - If I ordered only from the one company, I might still be chewing on cardboard boxes, as it was a disaster.  I'm actually still fighting with the one company to get the product I purchased, as I've already paid them the money.  TOTAL DISASTER!

Have you ordered from either company before?  If yes, what was your experience?
To test both of them out, I ordered approximately the same amount of frozen food from each store.  It's easy to get Gluten Free Dry Goods at local stores or from Amazon.  That's not what I need.  I need that instant hot food.  I need frozen burritos, egg rolls, hot pockets...microwave food that is hot, fast, and quick like I grew up eating.  My mom's solution is to be mainly raw food vegan, eating mostly raw fruits and vegetables and nuts "Because I'm too lazy to cook" she explains.

But I digress.  Here is a screenshot of the Gluten Free Mall page.  You can click the hyperlink to go straight to their page.

And here is Strictly Gluten Free's Homepage: