Meatless Monday Blog: Gluten Free Bread

Yes yes, we know gluten free living has become trendy but it’s also very real for those suffering with gluten intolerance or Celiac disease.  Celiac Awareness Month is quickly approaching next month so we thought we’d prep by sharing some allergen free goodies! BFree Foods has a dense line of non-GMO gluten free breads, bagels and wraps to ease the stress and limitations of gluten intolerance and Celiac disease.

BFree isn’t loafing around when catering to food sensitivities.  Their products are:

  • Egg Free
  • Soy Free
  • Nut Free
  • Vegan.

And they’re on a roll with their nutrition profiles.

  • BFree has much more fiber than your typical gluten free bread with a shorter list of ingredients.
  • Uniquely, they have a pea protein blend in the mix so you can get your muscle fix.
  • Additionally, their products are low in fat and calories!

Donut you wanna know what they taste like?

Breakfast: BAGEL

Multiseed Bagel and White Bagel

Does the BFree Bagel rise to occasion?  The quinoa and poppy seed crunch on the multi-seed bagel adds a depth of texture and flavor.  We dough know about you, but gluten free bagels were a new odyssey for us.  Although structurally bagel-esque, they lack the chewy texture we clamor for in bagels.  The multi-seed bagel was a bit crumbly and needed to be toasted to hold up to sticky peanut butter.  Our tip: add vegan butter after toasting the bagels to moisten um’ up.

On-the-Go Breakfast: BFree Multiseed Bagel with Almond Butter.

 

Eggs, vegan Daiya pepperjack cheese and BFree Foods white bagel.

 

Lunch Box: LOAVES & BUNS

Brown Seeded Loaf and Soft White Sandwich Loaf

Other gluten free loaves?  Baguette-about um!  These loaves are cut length wise, making them perfect for paninis and tasty for toast.  They are also hole free so your toppings won’t slip through the cracks.  The bread could have a bit more flavor but it’s mild nature makes it suitable for any topping.  The Soft white sandwich bread is perfect for tea parties or any gatherings when you have friends and family members with different allergies.

Tea Time with BFree Foods white loaf spread with Latana (formerly Eat Well Embrace Life) Edamame “Hummus,” cucumbers and dill.

 

BFree Brown Seeded Loaf with pesto, sauteed mushrooms, basil, spinach, sundried tomatoes and Lucrene mozzarella cheese.

White Plain Hot Dog Buns and Brown Seeded Hot Dog Buns

The buns are not your typical hot dog buns but are a great substitute, although easily breakable.  We created vegan banh mi sandwiches with the brown seeded buns for our friends and they loved it!

Vegan banh mi sandwich with Nasoya marinated teriyaki tofu, organic carrot slaw, white and red radishes, lemon vinegrette, jalapeno, cilantro and BFree Brown Seeded Bun.

Dinner: ROLLS

Brown Seeded Rolls and White Rolls

The white rolls mimic a dense ciabatta and make a solid breakfast or dinner sammie holder when toasted.  Get decadent and spread some garlic sea salt coconut ghee on the brown seeded roll before topping!

Vegan BBQ Sandwich with BFree White Rolls, Upton’s BBQ Jackfruit and Local Folks Foods mustard.

Other Products Wheat Loaved to Try (HA!)

We are curious about the sweet potato wraps and the quinoa chia seed and flaxseed wraps.  The only other brand of gluten free wrap we’ve tried was formed from rice flour and the wrap had too stiff of a texture.

Find BFree Foods:

Are you bready to crummmmble with BFree foods?  You can find them in Jewel-Osco in Chicagoland or search for a spot near you here to enjoy bready goodness without the gluten.

Wanna learn more about Celiac Disease and how you can help this May during Celiac Awareness Month? Check out https://www.beyondceliac.org/celiac-disease/

Infographic_Celiac Disease at a Glance

 

 

 

 

 

 

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A Nutritionist Dishes: How to Find the Perfect Healthy Snack

We have a confession to make….when we see a new “healthy” snack option, we just gotta try it.  But, with all the maca, acai, jackfruit, hemp milk, hair of the goat (ok we made the last on up) superfoods out … Continue reading

The World’s Healthiest Granola?

Granola may bring to mind images of incense burning, camping, and a halo of healthiness but store bought kinds are often sugar bombs.  But can some granolas live up to the healthier than the hype?

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We recently were given samples of Viki’s Granola new on-the-go Granola Packs to test for their health-o-meter reading.  Viki’s Granola is not your grandma’s granola but, dang, it could be.

First, Viki is an actual person, Viki Sater, who creates the actual granola, originally for her daughter’s bake sale.  Her small batch granola was so popular that orders began pouring in.  Currently, Viki’s granola offers 5 different flavors: Original, Blueberry Almond, Maple Cranberry, Banana Walnut and Apple Cinnamon.

So is this really the healthiest granola out there?  Check out these healthful stats.

Nutrition

Sugar: Per 1/4 cup of granola, Viki’s has on average 4 grams of sugar.

Nutritionists suggest you should look for granola with 8 grams or less of sugar. The 1.5 ounce on-the-go Pack is perfectly portioned so you don’t have to wonder if you just snarfed down a crazy amount of granola.  Also, bees rejoice, Viki’s only uses organic honey or pure maple syrup as a sweetener.  You won’t find any high fructose corn syrup here.

Calories: With about 150 calories per pack, you would want to add some fruit or yogurt for a meal but this is a sizable snack to have in your bag after a workout.

Ingredients: Each granola features only 6-7 ingredients (gluten free oats, organic honey, unsweetened coconut, and different nut and fruit combos) and none that you would have to look up to figure out what it is.  This is about as clean as you can get for a processed food.  Viki’s is mindful of special diets as well.

• Gluten Free
• Non-GMO Verified
• Cholesterol Free
• Zero Trans Fats
• Sodium free
• Dairy Free
• Kosher Pareve

Taste

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Viki’s Granola is pretty versatile as it is not overly sweet.  Expect soft honey touched oats intermingling with dried fruit.  It’s inclusion of tree nuts like almonds and walnuts adds a nice crunch and a pinch of healthy fats to keep you fuller longer.  We liked eating it with a splash of coconut almond milk or mixing it up in a parfait.  Viki’s website has other fun recipe suggestions like granola covered frozen bananas (summer yummer) or even granola crusted chicken.

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You can purchase Viki’s Granola at several grocery stores or even order online.

So is Viki’s the World’s Healthiest Granola?  It’s pretty close.  There are a small amount of other granolas out there vying for the title.  Does your favorite granola have a shot at the title?

Best of the Good Food Festival 2016

This past weekend we went to the Good Food Festival for the third year in a row.  Click here to read one of our first blog posts about our first Good Food Festival three years ago.  Yesss, we are celebrating the three year … Continue reading

Healthy Fast Food: Green Bean Chicago

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It’s not often that healthy and fast food share the same title but magic is possible.  Behold, we hath found a restaurant that aims to do both (oh and its yummy, princes and princesses).  We know there’s a few chain healthy alternatives in Chicago but none are 100% gluten free, GMO free and free of common allergins (no nuts, coconut or chickpeas) like the new Green Bean Chicago.

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It’s not often that you learn about the passion behind the restaurant you are eating in either.  Owners, Executive Chef Mike Watson, Aaron Bush and investor and dietary manager Srinivas Ravanam partnered on this daunting culinary adventure for many reasons. Mike thinks about the health of his children and how fast food often targets them.  Aaron works in the health and wellness industry across the state and sees how limited healthy food availability affect people throughout Illinois.  Both wanted an affordable fast healthy option for working families.  Both strive for a healthier tastier lifestyle for themselves.

We received free samples of their menu for review.

Menu Highlites:

Pick Your Protein: Chicken, Portabella Mushrooms (vegetarian) or Steak

Wrap it up: Choose a gluten free wrap, gluten free panini, or keep it simple with a salad

What’s Your Flavor? Choose Asian, Caesar, Caprese, Griller, Greek or Spanish style toppings

What we ate:

Gluten free Mushroom Griller Panini – pineapple, asparagus, mixed greens and spicy mango sauce

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Gluten free Chicken Caprese Panini – mozzarella, basil, tomatos, red onion with olive oil and balsamic vinegar

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Gluten Free Mushroom Caesar Wrap – croutons, parmesan, romaine and caesar dressing

Sides – Sweet Potato Fries, Tempura Green Beans, Black Bean Hummus

Dessert! – Gluten Free Caramel Cupcake with Italian Salted Caramel Gelato

Green Beans

Loving the light life:

All meals (entree, a side and a drink) are balanced to run around 500-600 calories. There is NO soda at Green Bean but instead homemade stone fruit waters are provided for the combos.  Price point runs about the same as a Panera, Chipotle or chain greasy fast food meal, around $8-$9 for a meal.

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Who needs gluten?

Kate is sensitive to gluten and has tried gluten free wraps and breads before. Some good (Udis), some not so good (some kinda yucky wrap).  Chef Mike’s personal gluten free bread and wrap recipes (a mix of tapioca and rice flour with extra love) don’t seem “gluten free”.  Both were hearty and satisfying.

Take us to flavor town!

Monica noted the sweet potato fries were delightfully crispy.  Chef Mike explained they are made fresh 4-5 times a day…no preservatives here peeps.   She also adored the salted caramel melty creamy gelato.  Kate was stuffed to the brim by her chicken caprese panini and, although she doesn’t normally get the feels for mushrooms, these ones were garlicky, juicy and free of that sometimes unpleasantly earthy flava flav.  No complaints at the taste office here.

Final Tasting Notes:

We highly recommend Green Bean.  It’s health conscious, allergy friendly, and you get your monies worth.  Fun Foodie Fact: You can get breakfast or lunch/dinner ANY time (for you brunch cravers).  It’s also awesome if you have a social group with dietary needs.  You can bring your diabetic dad, celiac sister-in-law, and nut allergic nephew all to the same place!  Green Bean is expanding to Schaumburg (yaya suburbanites!) and plans to franchise in future locations.  So lighten up and head to Green Bean when you’re in the mood for a healthy and quick meal!

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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*).

A Souper Lunch Option: Smart Soups

Forget you, Olive Garden!  We are bringing our own soup and salad to work.  Soup is an awesome option to consume more veggies AND feel full with fewer calories but packaged soups often have too much sodium, weird looking meat pieces, or too many additives.  We were souper (hehe) excited to try some samples of Smart Soups because they are (ehem..be jealous cans o’ soup) none of those things.  Creator, Anne Chong Hill has long history in the prepared food industry and recognized the need for high quality, easy to make food and her recipes are inspired by her international background and travel experiences.

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Smart Soups are:

  • Vegan
  • Vegetarian
  • Gluten Free (Hooray!)
  • Made with REAL FOOD and no preservatives
  • American Heart Association Certified (cholesterol free!)
  • Low Calorie and controlled sodium (as one of our friend with high blood pressure was amazed to notice during our lunch break)

Taste:

With 7 souperb (ha ha ha) flavor options, we had a hard time choosing what to try first.  We received 5 options.

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Greek Minestrone was Kate’s first go to.  Packaged minestrone tends to be bland or have too many noodles in the way.  The Greek Minestrone was packed with veggies and rich in herby flavor, possibly the best Minestrone out there except what your grandma might be able to make (if she can cook).  Pairing tip: Greek Salad with feta, olives, artichokes and mixed greens.

Thai Coconut Curry is Mon’s fave Smart Soup.  Full of coconut water blended with fresh red curry made an amazingly authentic dish, especially tasty on a rainy day.  It includes plenty of baby corn, bamboo shoots and red pepper.  Pair with side of grilled spiced tofu.

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Sante Fe Corn Chowder is vibrant with red peppers, black beans, and corn, balanced with a squeeze of lime.  Dunk a vegan tostada and plenty of avocado in it!

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Vietnamese Carrot Lemongrass is filled with rich tasty Asian flavors and veggies.  Pair the satisfying soup with a Tofu Bahn Mi sandwich.

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French Lentil Soup makes a hearty meal with green and red lentils, leeks and moorish spices.  Mix it up with a baguette and nicolaise salad.

Cooking:

Smart Soup stores easily in the freezer and couldn’t be more simple to make.  You open the bag and pop it on the stove or in the microwave and then you’re done.  You can get creative with Smart Soups too by integrating them into new recipes as well.

What’s the most delicious soup you’ve ever tried?  Maybe you could inspire a new Smart Soup!

Easy Peasy Omega 3ies! The Healthy Fat for your Brain

We’re sure many of you have heard about the benefits of fatty acids.  Yahhh fat isn’t all bad!!  But you have to choose the healthy fats to keep your body happy (so back away from those processed cupcakes and chips).  Some fats, such as Omega-3 fats, can combat heart disease, dementia, depression, ease the pain of arthritis and more.  Omega-3s are your brain’s super friend!

SO…where do you find them?  Your body doesn’t produce Omega-3s so you can only get them through food or supplements.  Fish contains two forms of Omega-3, DHA and EPA, which seem to have the best benefits.  But what if you don’t like fish or you’re concerned about mercury ingestion?  We certainly aren’t seafood peeps due to personal preferences.  Luckily, a vegetarian form of fatty acids, ALA, can be found in flax seed, spinach, walnuts and vegetable oils.  Although supplements are not ideal, sometimes they work better for a busy lifestyle (especially if they are tasty and in gummy form).  We aren’t big fans of chalky pills or burping up fishy oil flavor (eww) so we recently added Be Bright to our regimen.

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Be Bright, a Coromega product, is a non-GMO superfood oil blend with coconut, avocado, chia seed, hemp seed and black cumin.  Even with it’s rich coconut flavor and pudding like texture, it is still plant based, dairy free, vegan AND gluten free, all tucked into a squeezable eco friendly package.  Be Bright can be integrated in your morning smoothie, stirred into your oatmeal for a sweet touch or just eaten off the spoon as we like to do for a quick fix in the morning rush.

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Coromega sells other Omega-3 products such as gummies for the candy chewy type of person as well as tropical, mango or orange flavors for the sunny citrus types.  You can find these Omega-3 goodies online or at GNCs and Vitamin Shoppes throughout the Chicagoland area.  Free one week samples available on Coromega‘s website.  Happy Squeezin’ for Brain Pleazin’! (yeahhhh we did that :P).

*We were not compensated for our opinions but were provided with a free sample of Coromega’s Be Bright Superfood Oil Blend.

GoodBelly for Good Health

Listening to the radio can be enlightening sometimes…like, say when you hear that 9% of your local school district is out with the flu.  Cold and flu season is descending upon us like one of the Khaleesi’s dragons (yes, that was a Games of Thrones reference, we miss it so!), vicious and unrelenting!  Other than hiding in a bomb shelter or wearing a head to toe hazmat suit, what are some more social ways you can keep healthy?

One way is adding probiotics into your diet.  In our super bug society, good little bacteria flora often get killed off with the use of antibiotic soaps and drugs.  These good flora may help ease digestion processes (reduce bloating, gas, etc or make you more regular) and improve the immune system (read more on factors that influence the micro flora balance here).  Bacterial flora are often chilling out in yogurt but not everyone is able to digest dairy products.  GoodBelly, a probiotic juice drink, offers a dairy free, soy free, non GMO, organic AND vegan alternative probiotic boost* for people looking to win the fight on germs.  Each quart or shot also serves up immune enhancing vitamins and others, such as the PlusShot, include calcium too!

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GoodBelly probiotic drinks contain live and active cultures of the probiotic strain, Lactobacillus plantarum 299v (LP299V®).  This thoroughly researched strain, with over 125 species of flora, has demonstrated an efficient ability to make it’s way through the digestive track and improve both digestion and immunity.  Many product options are juicy and fruit filled while some are for the purist who just wants a “straight shot” without the sugar.  Those with digestive issues should try the SuperShot which contains 50 billion cultures (flora everywhurr!).  We tried 1 flavor of the 32 ounce GoodBelly quart, Pomegranate Blackberry, and one flavor of the 2.7 ounce shots, Blueberry Acai.

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So how’d we fare?  Well the Pomegranate Blackberry is seriously tasty and we liked it so much, we got another quart and snagged a Mango too.  The shots were definitely more concentrated and we felt you could taste the oat base a little more in this version.  Stomach wise, Kate already took probiotics pills and enjoyed the benefits of better digestion processes. GoodBelly is a tastier alternative to pills and is easy to incorporate as a breakfast juice or just a meal in general when running late for work.

Ready to give it a shot (ha)?  GoodBelly walks you through with a 12 Day Belly Reboot with buy 2 get 1 free coupons and a money back guarantee.  Each day, you drink 8 ounces of GoodBelly and you can measure how you feel online with the Belly Tracker to see your results.  3 quarts should get you through your 12 day trial.  We found GoodBelly at the South Loop Mariano’s and it’s available at all Whole Foods.  You can also use GoodBelly’s “Find a Store” function for a store near you!

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*Gluten sensitive folks, take note, although gluten free GoodBelly is available, we have had a hard time finding the elusive green capped bottles in the Chicago area.

We did not receive compensation for this post but did receive coupons for free products.