Adventures in Gluten (and Sugar) Freedom from a southern blogger chick!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Best Easter Basket and Mother's Day Treat -- Plush Puffs Gourmet Marshmallows.



This weekend is Easter. May 11 is Mother's Day. This is the perfect gift for an adult (or your Mom, or Grandma, or anyone else....)
I've written about Plush Puffs before, and I'm totally addicted to their lovely flavors. And I'm about to get some more for my own Easter Basket.
From their wonderful PR team, the info:
What is it? Plush Puffs Gourmet Marshmallows are handmade, all natural, low-fat intensely flavored marshmallows! Many varieties are gluten free and have no high-fructose corn syrup. Light, fluffy, billowy puffs of sticky, gooey goodness, these gourmet marshmallows are made the old fashioned way – handmade in a two day process of whipping to a heavenly lightness, and flavored with the absolute highest quality all-natural ingredients. From whipping at a precise time and temperature to cutting them by hand, there are no short cuts taken to make these gourmet Puffs.
Plush Puffs are good enough to eat straight out of the package, and even more delicious when melted in hot drinks. That’s why they created the MugToppers. Cut and sized just right to float atop a cup of hot cocoa, coffee or tea, the MugToppers are beautifully packaged and come in four flavors: Vanilla Bean, Peppi-Mint, Mochaccino and Sydney’s Cinnamon.
From ice cream toppings to tasty rice crispy treats, marshmallows aren’t just for S’mores and hot cocoa any more! You’ll find delicious recipe ideas on the Plush Puffs blog including Caramel Scotcharoos, Marshmallow Nachos, and Apple Cinnamon Brule!
Delight your senses with these luscious Plush Puffs flavors:
  • Vanilla Bean – Don’t mistake these for your ordinary “plain” marshmallows. These Puffs are bursting with richly-flavored vanilla beans.  This “Cadilac Marshmallow” is a classic for toasting and simply divine when melted into coffee or hot chocolate or simply eaten right out of the bag. These marshmallows are gluten free, fat free and contain no high fructose corn syrup.
  • Simply S’mores – No need to race around looking for the graham crackers and chocolate anymore! Plush Puffs’ Vanilla Bean marshmallows are then mixed with all-natural graham cracker pieces, dusted with light cocoa powder and then topped with chocolate chips. These puffs are naturally low in fat and have no high fructose corn syrup.
  • Luscious Lemony Meringue – These all-natural lemony treats have the perfect amount of tartness. Fat free, gluten free and containing no high fructose corn syrup, these Puffs are delicious dipped into a hot cup of tea.
  • Chocolate Chipetta – These marshmallows start with an intense cocoa flavor and are then topped with micro-mini chocolate chips for that heavenly yet unexpected crunch. These puffs are fat free, gluten free, and contain no high fructose corn syrup.
  • Caramel Swirl – Plush Puffs’ classic Vanilla Bean marshmallow is topped with creamy bands of rich caramel. This marshmallow is sublime when roasted, dipped into a delicious dark chocolate fondue, and perfect in a steaming cup of cappuccino. These puffs are gluten free, low fat and 100% natural.
  • Peppi-Mint – These minty, refreshing Plush Puffs are bursting with natural peppermint flavor and are a perfect way to spice up an ordinary cup of hot cocoa or coffee into a special treat!  These Puffs are fat-free, gluten free and contain no high fructose corn syrup.
  • Toasted Coconut – Made from all-natural ingredients and topped with a generous coating of fresh coconut, these Puffs are simply delicious roasted and wrapped around a bar of exquisite dark chocolate. These contain no high fructose corn syrup. (This flavor is only available in bulk sheets). 
  • Sydney’s Cinnamon – Whipped with the highest quality ground cinnamon and almond extract, the aromatic smell and flavor of these marshmallows being toasted is exceedingly pleasing! These Puffs are low in fat and gluten free. (This flavor is only available in bulk sheets.)
  • Mochacinno – A tasty treat, the flavors of chocolate and cappuccino mixed in our light & fluffy marshmallow are delicious on their own or in a warm cup of coffee!
  • Pumpkin Pie – A seasonal flavor perfect for Fall, these babies are like soft luscious bites of a homemade pumpkin pie. Float one on a creamy latte, toast over some yams or come up with your own Pumpkin Plush Puffs recipe! And like all Plush Puffs, they’re equally yummy right our of the package.
  • Gingerbread Spice – A seasonal holiday flavor, our Gingerbread Spice Plush Puffs Gourmet Marshmallows come out just in time for hot cocoa and cozy morning mugs of coffee. They taste like the holidays epitomized. When toasted up, the nutmeg stands out and the real, all-natural ginger warms your soul.

Now, with two-day shipping you can order today (or tomorrow) and have it shipped to you.  Go to www.plushpuffs.com to order.  In Georgia, you can buy them at Taste at Phipps Plaza, or go to  http://www.plushpuffs.com/pages/where-to-buy 

Happy munching.  Buy a LOT.  They're good.  My favorite is the lemon -- Top a lemon pie, without the meringue, with those lemony luscious pieces.

Much love,
Ging


Thursday, March 13, 2014

Carrabba's offers new Gluten-free First Tastes menu items for Spring

Last week, my friend Pam and I went to (by Invitation) a rollout of the new Carrabba's First Taste menu -- it was a cold night, and we were really looking forward to the trip to Macon for the event.  I love this restaurant -- I've eaten there a lot since I've become gluten-free -- they can adapt an enormous about the menu to suite a gluten-free diner. I'm especially fond of the staff at this restaurant -- and after spending an evening with managers Ryan Holmes, Melissa Wood and John Gray and wait staff Lester Gilbert, we both found good reasons to eat there again. While we did pay for our meal, we did tip generously.

Here is the menu, which was also served to Carrabba's Friend's Club *see
www.carrabas.com for more information.



As Pam and I tasted our way through the menu, I discussed the gluten-free adaptations needed for someone like me to enjoy this tasting menu with manager Melissa Wood.  She said Carrabba's is always working to adapt a menu for a gluten-free diner, and encouraged diners to speak with a manager as he or she orders.

I had a delicious portion of the Mahi Wulfe, which is covered with an artichoke heart, red pepper and and sundried tomato sauce with a butter--lemon-basil sauce. I was served a portion that was large enough for two diners to share with other plates, and I thought it was delicious. The sauce was slightly spicy but very bright and fresh.  It really is a spring dish.

I also tasted a portion of Proscuitto-wrapped Pork Tenderloin, which I'd have to say would be a great dinner for me with a side of Carrabba's delicious and gluten-free garlic mashed potatoes. The tender pork tenderloin coins were cooked perfectly, wrapped with crispy prosciutto.  The sauce was a fruit-lovers dream -- a deep, fig and port wine sauce. I love that.

The new classic dessert is a Cannoli, which I have to say I love (I'm Italian. What can I say....)  Instead of having the shell, I asked for a portion of the filling (gluten-free) and the pistachio topping. It reminded me of a bakery I love in Newington, Ct., where my Auntie Jean used to purchase that treat when we finished. The folks at Carrabba's were happy to give me a serving. If you plan to do this, bring a couple of gluten-free cookies (I'm thinking of a Glow Gluten-Free Gingersnap}. Yum.

As I looked at the remaining dished on the entire menu, there are a few other items that could easily be adapted to gluten-free dining. My Carrabba's (and its manager Ryan Holmes) will take the time to prepare a gluten-free pasta if you bring along your favorite pasta.  As he told be that night (and on another occasion, when I put him to the test), this is something Carrabba's is glad to do.  He noted that the Middle Georgia GIG meets at that location at 3915 River Place Drive in Macon on a regular basis.

OOOH -- and there were two new signature drinks made with house-made Lemoncello.  Pam liked the one with raspberry syrup.  I loved the one made with Gin, rosemary, and of course, Lemoncello.  Since I've only recently started drinking lately, I really cozied up to the Gin-based drink.  I'll order that again. It's very Italian.

My friend Pam, who is not gluten-free, enjoyed Rigatoni Martino and the Conghigli al Formaggion.  She thought both were tasty.  She also liked the pork.  The arancini was not available for testing.

I think this new menu is filled with some exciting offerings, and I hope the roll out goes very well. I can't wait to take Randy and Jeffrey there soon. 

I hope you'll try the First Taste Menu, maybe share a couple of plates with your friends at the table. I thought it was spot on.

Much love, 
Ging



Tuesday, February 18, 2014

My favorite new products of 2013 -- Bai5 Antioxidant drinks.





Back in the fall, I received a sample shipment of Bai5 Antioxidant drinks, including the new Molokai Coconut. I'd been drinking another low-cal antioxidant drink for a while now, and I have to tell you, this blows them out of the water. 

They sent me a sample of the product, but I love it so much that I have it on automatic refill from Amazon. The Dragonfruit and Blueberry flavors are my most favorite.

I was even more thrilled a few weeks ago when I found out that Bai5 is now being sold at Target. I order mine by the case every month from Amazon (it gives me about a drink a day). I've started adding it to my juices (from my new juicer). It's really become a part of my life. 

The one thing about Bai5 is it contains coffee fruit. It's the berry part of the coffee bean -- and Dr. Oz and lots of others talk about its antioxident power.  This link explains the good, bad and ugly about it. What I like most about it (non-GMO, fair trade, etc) is it adds a small boost of caffeine.  Just enough for me....



Here's their lovely Press Release about the Coconut flavor:

PRINCETON, N.J. (March 8, 2013) – A taste of the tropics is now part of the Bai 5 family of 100% natural Antioxidant Infusions™. Bai Brands, LLC today announced the introduction of Molokai Coconut, the brand’s first coconut beverage and its first flavor to boast electrolytes. The new flavor is expected to be in stores by June 1st and will initially be offered as a summer thirst quencher, the first in a line of Bai 5 seasonal varieties.
“Molokai Coconut brings remarkable coconut taste to the coconut beverage experience,” says Bai Brands Founder and CEO, Ben Weiss. “Coconut waters provide excellent hydration but none of the pleasant, tropical refreshment one would expect from the name,” he says. “Molokai is the first product in the natural beverage space to deliver hydration, low calories, electrolytes and satisfying delicious flavor all in one.”
The newest Bai 5 is infused with antioxidant-rich coffeefruit and lightly sweetened with organic stevia and all-natural erythritol. Molokai Coconut is gluten-free, low-glycemic, Kosher, vegan, GMO-free and soy-free. Since each BPA-free bottle is aseptically filled, the antioxidants and electrolytes in Molokai remain potent. The brand’s first-ever seasonal release provides refreshment for health-conscious consumers, sports enthusiasts and everyone who craves a cooling yet healthy drink for hot summer days.
“Molokai Coconut arrives in a marketplace crowded with coconut waters but thirsty for coconut taste,” says Bai Brands Vice President of Sales, Ken Kurtz. “This category is expected to reach the $1 billion mark by 2014, but until now it has struggled to deliver a taste profile that could appeal to the mainstream. Bai 5 Molokai Coconut changes all of that with a product that delivers great taste in an all-natural, 5-calorie format.”
About Bai Brands LLC:Bai Brands, LLC, makers of Bai 5-Calorie Antioxidant Infusions, is a Princeton-based company founded in August, 2009 by entrepreneur and coffee industry pioneer Ben Weiss.  Bai 5-Calorie Antioxidant Infusions are 100% natural, only 5 calories, infused with coffeefruit and flavored with exotic fruit juices. They are naturally sweetened, gluten free, Kosher, vegan, soy-, BPA- and GMO-free. For more information about the line of eight Bai 5-Calorie Antioxidant Infusions and the brand named by Beverage World among the “Breakout Brands of 2012”, visit drinkbai.com.

So go to Amazon or Target and try it.  You will love Bai% -- I sure do!

Much love, Ging

Friday, February 14, 2014

Proud new member of the Cabot Cheese Board


I am a proud new member of the Cabot Cheese Board!

My favorite cheese recipes always taste better with Cabot Cheese. I especially like the extra sharp cheddar, which brings a sharp tangy taste. Gluten-free pasta is very bland, and Cabot cheese really makes it taste great!

Here's one of my favorite recipes I make with two blocks of Cabot extra sharp cheese:

Scott Peacock's Macaroni and Cheese
10 Servings

Recipe Ingredients
1 3/4 c Small elbow macaroni (use your favorite regular or GF version) cooked in well-salted water
1 1/4 c Extra-sharp cheddar cheese
(5 oz) -- cubed (I use a brick of Cabot Extra Sharp Cheddar cheese)
2 2/3 tb Brown Rice Flour
1 1/2 ts Salt
1 1/2 ts powdered mustard
1/4 ts Ground pepper
1/8 ts Cayenne
1/8 ts Ground nutmeg OPTIONAL: I hate nutmeg
1 1/3 c Half and half
1 1/3 c Whipping cream
2/3 c light Sour cream
2 large Eggs (or egg substitute)
3/4 ts Worcestershire sauce (I use a GF variety)
1 1/4 c Packed extra-sharp cheese (5
Oz) -- grated (again, I use a brick of Cabot Extra Sharp Cheese).


Recipe Method
Preheat oven to 350. Lightly butter 9x13x2-inch glass baking dish. Cook
macaroni in lg saucepan of boiling salted water until just tender but still
firm to bite. (If you use Tinkyada, use the energy saving method and drain at about 10 minutes.)
Drain pasta. Transfer to prepared dish. Mix in cubed cheese.

Whisk flour, salt, mustard, black pepper, cayenne pepper and nutmeg in
medium bowl until no lumps remain. Gradually whisk in half and half, then
whipping cream and sour cream. Add eggs and Worcestershire sauce; whisk to blend. Pour over macaroni mixture; stir to blend. Sprinkle grated cheese
over.

Bake macaroni and cheese until just set around edges but sauce is still
liquid in center, about 30 mins. Remove from oven; let stand 10 mins to
thicken slightly (sauce will be creamy).

Recipe By : Scott Peacock, formerly of Horseradish Grill, Atlanta


Happy Cheesy Day!
Much love 
Ging



Wednesday, February 12, 2014

There is nothin' like Valentine PEEPS


I'm thrilled that PEEPS have such a broad selection of candies for Valentines Day. I admit it -- I love PEEPS.  I have to have them for every holiday.

But this year, there are some really special PEEPS out there -- I've found them readily available at the local Mega Mart, CVS, and grocery stores. The wonderful makers of PEEPS sent me a beautiful selection to try. I've been carefully hoarding them for Friday (and since we're in the throes of an ice storm, they will come in handy).

• Sugar-free PEEPS: Crunchy and meltable, these don't spike blood sugar or cause gastric distress. For me, a major PEEP lover, these are a special treat. It means I have a Valentine's basket for myself!

• Beautiful dark-chocolate dipped PEEPS. Raspberry dipped in chocolate. It's going to be a treat in my Valentine's basket!

• Lovely big hearts, lovely little chocolate mousse bears. Such a yummy treat.

Here's a description from the maker of PEEPS:

Strawberries, Cherries and Chocolate can always be improved with marshmallows! Valentine’s Day will be here and what better way to show your loved one that you care then with some adorable and fun PEEPS® marshmallow candies. Your Valentine’s heart will flutter since PEEPS® are low in calories, gluten-free and come in a variety of flavors. PEEPS® Valentine’s Day treats can serve as a token of affection for your loved ones or adorable accents to baked good for your sweetheart. Try one or all of the seasonal varieties and express your PEEPSONALITY®!
PEEPS® Valentine’s offerings include:
  • Chocolate Dipped Strawberry Crème Flavored Chicks (3 ct)
  • Chocolate Mousse Flavored Marshmallow Bears (6 ct)
  • Cherries Drizzled and Dipped in Chocolate (3 ct)
  • Marshmallow Hearts (2 and 6 ct)
  • Chocolate (milk or dark) Covered Raspberry Flavored Hearts (individually wrapped)
  • Strawberry Crème Flavored Marshmallow Hearts (9 ct)
  • Vanilla Crème Flavored Marshmallow Hearts (9 ct)
  • Sugar-Free Marshmallow Hearts (3ct)
Visit the home page at www.marshmallowpeeps.com.

Happy Valentine's Day and much love!

Ging




Monday, December 2, 2013

New Nabisco Rice Thins -- ready for the holidays

Welcome to the holiday party season.  After years of being gluten free, I've come to feel that I don't fit in at holiday settings at all -- whether I'm relegated to the fruit and veggie tray, or I'm told I should consider bringing my own food.

Well hahaha to you this year.  Nabisco has introduced some delicious new Rice Thins crackers, and I have been carting them around with me to make sure I'm the one with the tastiest treats!



Nabisco recognizes it is sometimes difficult for consumers to find a gluten free snack they can enjoy and thus created a product that caters to everyone. It’s no longer difficult to entertain when you have guests with gluten-free restrictions; with Rice Thins it’s easy to satisfy all lifestyles and palates. Rice Thins is available in three varieties:
  • White Rice Original
  • Brown Rice White Cheddar
  • Brown Rice Sea Salt & Pepper.

Here are a couple of things I've used with Rice Thins:

Pick-a-Peppa Sauce on top of a block of light cream cheese.  This is especially tasty with the sea salt and pepper. 

Cheese balls -- I make mine with cheddar cheese, cream cheese, finely chopped green onions, and I roll them in chopped pecans.  Sometimes I make a cheese ring and fill the center with my homemade pepper jelly. This is great for the plain crackers.

Spinach dip is always a big favorite at holiday gatherings -- these crackers are perfect for dipping in the homemade spinach dip with sour cream, mayo, chopped fresh cooked greens, green onions, parsley, dill and oregano.  In fact, I stopped using the packaged veggie soup mix a long time ago,

I think the cheddar crackers are great with small slices of deli turkey or ham. 

These crackers are readily available -- I've found them locally at Publix, Kroger and WalMart.

Here's a link to the nutritional information for the Cheddar thins.

I hope you'll consider trying them!

Much love,
Ging

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Sometimes, my life gets a little bit wonky

I'd say that best describes the last THREE MONTHS when I haven't posted to my blog.

For those who sent me information, I will do my best to get the information up here in the next few weeks. I've tried a lot of great products that would be awesome stocking stuffers/gifts for your gluten-free friends.

 I also have a long post I've been working on about sustainability, local food movements, and feeding your family well with local input.  I actually changed my stubborn mind about things this year. While I am still fiercely committed to local food, I am finding more availability as I look around.

I've studied a lot of information this summer (last summer) about local seafood, and I've had a real problem making decisions about actually eating seafood.  I made a promise and I plan to keep it.

Finally, if you follow me on Facebook, you know I made a bucket-list trip to Germany, Austrian and Italy in September.  Then I came home and was sick in bed until the middle of October.  I'm glad I considered it a bucket list trip -- I can't travel like I used to.

But I had a blast.  I just didn't blog much. (I used my Tumblr blog "Squirrels are just rats with good PR" for the travel posts.

I ask your forgiveness, and as I now endeavor to write my missing posts, I ask your patience.

Much Love,
Ging

PS  I am in the middle of assessing my CNS Temporal Arteritis and visiting a new rheumatologist, a new endocrinologist, and anyone else at Emory who can help us.