Easy Gluten Free Treats with Garden Lites

Gluten Free

Gluten free goodies are hit or miss. Sometimes you try a gluten free muffin that’s as heavy as a hockey puck and wonder: “Is this the only option I have for muffin glory?”  For people with gluten sensitivities or, even more serious, those with Celiac disease, the need for gluten free options is real. But do we want them super processed or super disgusto?  No!

Garden Lites gets to the root of this matter and offers gluten free frozen treats to cure your muffin madness with fluffy de-lite-fulness.

Ingredients

  • First 2 elements: zucchini and carrots in almost every products
  • Gluten free flour mix: brown rice, sorghum flour, flaxseed meal, or cornstarch
  • Allergens: Nuts free and dairy free.  Some products are soy free, too. (Check particular products, however, for allergen information)

Garden Lites shear off unnecessary fillers and keep their ingredients at the root of what’s needed to make their souffles and muffins.  Most have a list of 10 or less on the nutrition facts.  The most processed item we noticed is soy lechitin, a common emulsifier used in chocolate and other health related food products.  Obviously, it’s best to eat whole foods, but Garden Lites’ chocolatey or blueberry oat muffins will harvest your health compared to those fast food muffins.

Taste the Goodness

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We dug into the Chocolate Muffins, Ninja Power Muffins (Heroes in a half shell…turtle power!) and one of Garden Lites’ savory options, the Butternut Squash Souffle.

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These muffins are great for tricking kids into eating veggies and tricking adults into being health conscious.  The muffins and souffles are all soft in texture and not grainy.  They are also produce packed with the following nutrients:

  • Calories for one muffin range between 80 to max 120 calories,
  • 2-5 grams of protein, and 8 grams protein in souffle
  • 2-4 grams of fiber, and 5 grams in souffle
  • less than 11 grams of sugar, 18 grams in souffle

The Chocolate muffin is moist and melty like a baby lava cake.

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The Ninja Powered Muffin is but a morsel with a chocolate chip zucchini bread flavor and is aimed at the youngins’.  We like Ninja Turtles though so we also enjoyed them.

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The Butternut Souffle was cornbread like in texture with the mellow aroma and flavor of squash.

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Purchase Options

Garden Lites are available at Costco, Target, and Amazon — and let us tell you that Amazon shoppers are all over the Garden Lites, like bees on flowers.  Also, you can purchase the frozen products at HealthyGoodness website and get a FREE pint of Three Twins ice cream here!  What are you waiting for?!  Go Power yourself with Gluten Free Goodies!

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*We received free Garden Lites coupons to sample the product.  We were not monetarily compensated and our opinions are our own.*

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Low Sugar Protein Bars: Luna Improved

A busy life calls for easy snacks.  We love having the option of something we can just throw in our gym bag and go.  What we don’t want is eating a nutrition bar that is basically a candy bar disguised as a health food.  We’ve been Luna Bar fans for years but were excited to find out they reduced their Lemonzest and Chocolate Peppermint Stick.  Both have 25% less sugar than before.  We received samples to taste test the evolution.

 

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Snack Bar Stats

LemonZest

Sugar: Reduced from 12 g to 9 g

Protein: 9 g

Fiber: 3 g

Chocolate Peppermint Stick

Sugar: Reduced from 12 g to 8 g

Protein: 8 g

Fiber: 4 g

What do we think?

Suga, we don’t miss you:

The low sugar bars actually taste better than before and there are no artificial sweeteners.

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Crumbly Cookie Style:

We also noticed a change in texture. Both tasted less dense and the oats were crumbly which was pleasing.

The ingredients are mostly organic and non-GMO.  Cliff Bar, the parent company, works with organic farmers and focuses on sustainability in their practice.  With under 200 calories and a boost of vitamin and minerals, these Luna bars can be included in a healthy diet.

Luna Bar is also releasing 3 new choco-riffic bars with only 5 grams of sugar and dark chocolate.  Dark chocolate is a major yesss because of its antioxidants.

Luna Bar flavor creations, Peanut Butter Dark Chocolate Chunk, Dark Chocolate Mocha Almond, and Dark Chocolate Hazelnut  are now available, each with 5 grams of sugar!

Which flavor tickles your fitness fancy? Do you have a go to flavor of Luna Bar that you already love?  Tell us in the comments!

Meatless Monday: New Laughing Cow Asiago Cheese

Cheese!  The friend of many a vegetarian and, in excess, a possible foe to your caloric intake.  Laughing Cow Brand Spreadable Cheese Wedges can make you giggle in cheesy delight however and ease your cheese anxiety (easy cheesy..hahahaha).

We’ve always been a fan of Laughing Cow cheese.  Their spreadable wedges are portable, low in calories, high in protein and a versitile snackaroo.  One of their newest flavors, asiago, is savory and satisfying when on the go, a quick after work snack or even when hosting a partaaaay.  We received free samples during the launch of the asiago wedge back in January and lightened up our New Years but then bought even more for the Super Bowl.  We decided to create 2 contrasting recipes to showcase 2 sides of the same cheese.

Kate’s Sweet N’ Spicy Wedges

Ingredients

  • 1 Can Crushed Pineapple Slices
  • 1 Jar Jalapeno Jelly
  • 1 12 ounce Jar sliced Jalapenos
  • 1 bag CrunchMaster Multiseed Crackers
  • Laughing Cow Asiago Cheese

Directions

Sooo…this is so easy!  Lay out the Multiseed Crackers crackers on plate.  Use a cheese knife or butter knife to spread 1/4 wedge of cheese (or more if desired) on each cracker.  Spread jalapeno jelly on each cracker.  Garnish each cracker with a piece of pineapple and a slice of jalapeno.  These lil’ crackers got demolished at our NYE gathering so we’re sure you’ll love um.

Monica’s Italiano Caprese Wedges

Ingredients

  • Cherry tomatoes sliced in halves
  • Fresh Basil leaves
  • Italian herbs
  • Garlic Sea Salt
  • Whole Black Pepper grinded
  • 360 Whole Foods EVOO (Extra Virgin Olive Oil)
  • Laughing Cow Asiago Cheese

Directions

Peel open several Laughing Cow Asiago cheese wedges, remove wrapper and set each wedge on a plate.  Sprinkle dried basil leaves, Italian seasoning, garlic, sea salt, and grounded black pepper on each wedge.  Slice cherrry tomatoes in half and wash/pat dry the basil leaves.  Add fresh basil leaves and halves cherry tomatoes to each wedge.

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Laughing Cow Asiago can also be smeared on tortilla chips and turned into breakfast nachos with scrambled eggs and veggies, spread on a bagel with spinach and roasted peppers or whateva’ you like (as T.I. says).  Or try the Pistachio Pear Honey Asiago recipe posted recently for a sweet treat.  Click here to read the recipe.

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Are you team Sweet N’ Spicy or team Italiano?  Do you have any other Laughing Cow Recipes you love?  Offer 9 total flavors, you can #savorthemoment with a different flavor every day!  Find Laughing Cow products at a grocery store near you.

New! Top Picnic Picks for your Basket

Think fast!  It’s time to go to an outdoor concert with your friends or a park with your kids or a romantic al fresco dinner with your boo.  What do you pack for your picnic?  You need something light, portable, tasty and healthy… and a crowd pleaser cuz you don’t wanna be that person who brought the last minute convenience store cheese curls.

We recently were given some samples of new products guaranteed to liven up your summer adventures and omgee, we had to pack them for our own picnic!

For the sweet tooth:

Get your potassium on while satisfying the sweet cravings with Barnana.  We didn’t really know what to expect but we were pleasantly surprised and happy campers (even Monica liked it since she does not like any banana flavor products).  Simply, they are dehydrated bananas with a twist of treat.  Barnana offers 4 types of munchable banana bites which are Original, Chocolate, Coconut and Peanut Butter.  These are organic, gluten free, non GMO and non-dairy heart healthy snacks.  Barnana consist of minimal ingredients a.k.a you won’t find a mile long list on the side of the bag.

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For the purist, original Barnana is like popping mini banana chunks in your mouth.  The chocolate Barnanas felt decadent, with a coco shell surrounded the soft banana inside.  Tip: mix the chocolate with the peanut butter Barnanas and you will feel like you’re eating an extra healthy peanut butter cup (YES!).  The coconut Barnana seemed more like a homemade energy bite with a chewy texture and flakes of coconut.  We had guests over, ages ranging from 3 to 50, who quickly depleted our precious coconut Barnana supply.  The bites come in a compact package, perfect for backpack carrying.  You can purchase all flavors of Barnana online or search for a local vendor.

For the savory lover:

Ditch the greasy bag of potato chips and get classy with the back-packable Tuscan inspired Pasta Chips.  Made with semolina flour and sprinkled with Italian herbs, Pasta Chips pair well with the picnic classics like hummus, dips or the party favorite of Wisconsinites, CHEESE!

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On our summer picnic to the new Maggie Daley Park, our guests sampled 3 different flavors: Mediterranean Sea Salt, Spicy Tomato Herb and Spinach Broccoli Kale.  Spinach Broccoli Kale will please the veggie lover and go well with an artichoke dip.  The Spicy Tomato Herb wasn’t so much spicy as much as a pop of zesty tomato flavor.  The light flaky texture would be perfect with mozzarella, tomato, basil bites as an appetizer.  The Mediterranean Sea Salt could easily knock a potato chip out of the park with it’s crispy crunch and touch of salt.  Dab it with french onion dip or an olive tapenade to wow a crowd with your master picnic status.  You can purchase Pasta Chips online or we’ve spotted them at Chicagoland Mariano’s.

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Dear audience, you know there’s nothing like a picnic with your fave friends in a park on a warm summer day.  Load up your basket and get ready to Mangia! with Pasta Chips and the seductive yet not sinful Barnana.  Where’s your top spot to stop for a picnic?  We’ll bring the snacks if you bring the blanket and the boombox (or bluetooth speaker…but that’s not as fun *wink*).

Give Some Good with Outshine Frozen Snacks

We have a unique chance to give a little this month with a new first of it’s kind charity effort, the “Give Some Good” campaign, situated at one of our major transportation hubs, Union Station.  Outshine Frozen Snacks, maker of fresh fruit and yogurt bars, is spearheading a creative movement to reduce food deserts.  National attention was drawn to the concept of a food desert in 2006 when Mari Gallagher’s research illuminated a lack of access to healthy and fresh foods in areas of poverty.  The gap is closing but we still have a way to go.  In Chicago alone, over 383,954 Chicagoans were living in a food desert as of 2011.

So how can you help?

A charity promoting billboard (that is secretly a superhero robot…jk), is currently located in the BNSF tunnels of Chicago’s very own Union Station through June 9, encouraging travelers to get involved with reducing hunger!

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It’s easy to give!

  1. Simply do a secure swipe of your credit card straight down the middle of the billboard and $1 is donated to hunger.  That’s a 4th less than your daily latte habit!
  2. Each swipe starts a film sequence on the billboard screen that shows a bounty of fresh produce falling into the hands of a girl (symbolizing your awesome charity efforts)
  3. Each $1 swipe supports Feeding America in donating 9 POUNDS of fresh produce to hungry families.

Outshine Frozen Snacks is teaming up with Feeding America, one of the nation’s top hunger combatants, to help bring produce to those in need, with the goal of donating two million pounds of fruits and vegetables (we kinda feel like Dr. Evil saying “one million dollarsss” but this is for GOOD!!).  Even if you aren’t in Chicago, you can help during June and July by purchasing specially marked boxes of new Outshine Simply Yogurt Bars in stores.  Made of 100% frozen yogurt blended with real fruit like Strawberry Banana, Mango and Pineapple, they are perfect for your next summer BBQ.

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Each time you buy a promo box of Outshine Simply Yogurt Bars, you help the Outshine brand and Feeding America provide one pound of fruit and vegetables to those in need.  Outshine Simply Yogurt Bars are available at major retailers like Target, Mariano’s, Walmart, Jewel and more.

So what are you waiting for, after all Fro-YOLO (fro-you only live once so feel great by helping others)!  Snack or swipe to help Chicagoans get the fresh food they need with the #GiveBrighter campaign.

*Full Disclosure: We are being compensated by Nestle to promote the GiveBrighter campaign*

Gluten Free Goodies: The Real McCoy

How many times have you spent hours in the grocery store looking for a treat and trying to avoid gluten, GMOs, corn syrup, MSG, yellow number everything (the list goes on and on)?  Dang, you know it’s hard out there for a snacker!

Well we are on a quest to fulfill your inner healthy snack urges!

Recently, we were given the opportunity to entertain our taste buds with some samples from Christi Communications.    (We weren’t paid in cash but instead in gluten free goodies!).

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Our favorite bites were Real McCoy’s Rice Chips and Rice Puffs.  We both eyed the Baked Vermont White Cheddar Rice Puffs first and gave each other an intense stare down as the bag rested in the middle of the table.  When we finally compromised to share them, we loved the airy crispy puffs with a dusting of light cheddar flavor. For more spice, try the Jalapeno Cheddar or Hatch Chile Rice Puffs.

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The Salt and Pepper crisps we tried were heartier and held up well when dipped in salsa and guac.  Monica liked Real McCoy’s so much she went and snagged her own bag of Worchester & Chives Rice Crisps.

Real McCoy’s other offerings include Sweet & Spicy Rice Chips or try the Wheatberry (not gluten-free) Chips.

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Real McCoy’s is available at many natural grocery stores and continue to expand (even at Burlington Coat Factory or Home Goods) and is even sold on Amazon.  And yes, they are GMO, gluten and guilt free :).

Like their Facebook page here for more updates.  Want to more gluten free goodies? Check out the Gluten & Allergen Free Expo in Schaumburg, IL next weekend!

 

 

Snacks ahoy!!

LUNA FEST Recap

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At LUNAFEST in Chicago

Thursday night, we mosied on over to check out 13th Annual LUNAFEST, benefiting the Step Up Woman’s Network and the Breast Cancer Fund, at the Museum of Broadcast Communications in the heart of River North. Surprisingly, we found parking right next to Glazed and Infused (darn it was closed) and ran in a little late to find food lines off the chain!  Our trusty friend, Melissa gave us the run down.  Apparently, LYFE Kitchen had the best veggie goods but their table was all out of food.  Sadness.

We squeezed our way over to the RA Sushi table and managed to grab a small plate of garlic chili edamame and then stood in the cheese line which ended with…no cheese.  The lights flickered and we made our way over to prep for the films and finally scarfed down the SkinnyPop popcorn provided on our seats (yay food!!).  After a couple of amazing speeches from leaders in the Step Up Women’s Network, the short films began!

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Although all of them were unique and inspiring in their own way, we certainly had our VIP picks.

Kate:  I adored “Flying Anne“.  We are often encouraged to celebrate differences but are not always sure how to put this into practice.  The main character of this short film has Tourette Syndrome and is learning how to manage in the sometimes unforgiving world of elementary school.  Touching and inspiring, it’s a reminder that girls are so much more than their labels.

Monica:  “Running Dry” made me smile brightly despite the harsh life circumstances such as the economic crises in Athens, Greece.  The lead actress struggled financially and still gave her few precious euros to meet other people’s needs as she walked through the city.  At the end, even though she had no more cash, she was full of grins and gratification.

After the show ended, we managed to grab tiny chocolate raspberry chia parfaits from LYFE Kitchen and then were treated with the pick of the litter of a 3 pack of LUNA Bars.  Perhaps we dug a little for the Chocolate Dipped Coconut…perhaps.

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Missed LUNAFEST?  You can still catch the tour in several cities and archived LUNAFEST films are available here.