It’s that time of year for resolutions and for looking forward, but what about looking back at all the great things that 2012 brought? I’d like to share “a few of my favorite things” from this past year, gluten-free of course.* If you haven’t found or tried these goodies for yourself yet, ask your local store to start carrying them.
Ok, so supplements may not be something you consider to be exciting new products, but what about Dark Chocolate disks that actually taste like decadent dark (dairy-free) or milk chocolate??! Each chocolate piece has 500 mg of calcium plus vitamin D and magnesium. I think even I could fit another vitamin or mineral supplement into my routine if it tasted like an after dinner treat. Try them to believe how good they taste, and feel your bones getting stronger by the day!
Although I am always quick to make homemade gluten-free pizza for any crowd (see my pizza recipe here), you can’t argue with the convenience of a frozen pizza once in a while. There are a few acceptable gluten-free ones on the market now, but they all contain dairy – either on the pizza or in the crust, or both. Most of us living gluten free, whether we like it/know it or not, should also be avoiding dairy or at least lactose. It’s nice that a frozen pizza company finally realized that too, and now offers us organic, gluten-free, dairy-free and vegan frozen pizzas. Vegan cheese, Veggie Lovers, Meat Lovers and Deluxe varieties available in a growing number of stores across the country.
Raw, yet a cookie. These balls of deliciousness come in several flavors: Brownie; Apple Pie; Lemon Pie; Almond and Strawberry PB&J; Vanilla Maple & Cacao Nib. Each boasts raw coconut as its main ingredient – coconut fats are different from others in that they are immediately accessible as energy, stimulating the metabolism rather than slowing it down. If you’re in search of a healthier alternative for your sweet tooth, and one made in a dedicated gluten-free facility, these are worth a nibble!
This year, Glutino launched a new line of brown rice pastas in all the familiar shapes: Macaroni, Penne, Rotini and Spaghetti. As Glutino’s distribution grows, you should be able to find these gluten-free pastas in many stores, including Wal-Mart.
This year brought many changes for Glutino Food Group, and perhaps one of the most important (at least to me) was that their famously delicious gluten-free pretzels went on a diet. The reformulated pretzels have nearly half the fat of their former selves and fewer calories, too. If you didn’t notice while munching on these favorite snacks lately, it’s probably because they did such an expert job that you’d hardly notice any change in taste. My favorite snack just somehow got better – a big year, indeed!
Glutino also introduced lots of new snacks like Potato Crisps, Tortilla Dippers, Snack Crackers, Table Crackers, and in case you missed it before, Bagel Chips!
How would you like to drink to your health? My new favorite drink is Organic Raw Kombucha – Gingerade® flavor. I’m sure the other flavors are great too, I just can’t get past the fresh pressed ginger juice mixed with the cultured Kombucha tea found in this deliciously effervescent and refreshing beverage. Each bottle contains 2 billion probiotic organisms plus antioxidants out the yin & yang and organic acids claimed to nurture the body from the inside out.
Tired of boring ol’ white rice noodles? Thai Kitchen has made a new noodle (tastes just like regular rice noodles) from red rice that is both gluten-free and vegan, but is also pretty! Think Valentine’s Day, Christmas or any other day you’re looking to paint red with Pad Thai noodles. (Try my Gluten-Free Pad Thai recipe with these fun noodles!)
If you need a lactose-free and soy-free cheese alternative, the best I’ve found this year is Lisanatti’s The Original Almond Cheese. It is made with casein from milk, so it is not dairy-free, though it is lactose-free. While not new in 2012, it’s become my favorite pizza topper this year, so I’m putting it in my list anyway. If you need a wholly vegan cheese alternative, their Vegan Cheeze™ made with Tapioca and soy is not bad either.
I met Phil Keoghan at Natural Products Expo West in March, and enjoyed a lively discussion about his world travels, growing up in New Zealand and his obsession with Manuka Honey. Did you know that Manuka Honey can be applied for wound care, as it has natural anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties? Manuka Honey is unique to New Zealand, as it’s produced by bees from the pollen of New Zealand’s Manuka bush.
Phil uses Manuka Honey in his bars for its other health benefits, and for its taste. All of these bars are moist and full of flavor; the closest thing I can compare them to is a Rice Krispy Treat without the super sweet aftertaste. They are truly unlike any other gluten-free protein bar, and are a welcome change if you are tired of choking down hard, dry bars.
The flavors are Peanut and Caramel, Honeycomb with Chia & Raisins (also nut-free), White Chocolate with Fruit & Nut, and Manuka Newton – Honey or Strawberry flavor (somewhat like a Fig Newton Cookie Bar). These bars are all gluten-free and some are nut-free, but some do contain whey and/or soy. These are some of the most allergy-friendly and delicious bars I’ve tasted, with an unusual bar texture and many are a great source of protein.
We’ve all had a bad veggie burger … or several! Most veggie burgers aren’t even gluten-free, but the ones that are often leave something to be desired (aka taste). These quinoa burgers don’t pretend to be a burger substitute – something that I appreciate. The outside of each burger is crunchy from the quinoa and millet, but the inside is soft and flavorful from the organic vegetable filler. It’s definitely a pleasant and welcome change from the traditional veggie burger!
What if I told you that you could have a chocolate-peanut butter cup and get 20 grams of protein, 4 grams of active carbs, no soy and no sugar? Would I be your new best friend? Well, my friend, you can! Quest Nutrition is famous for making protein bars with obscene amounts of protein and no sugar; now they make a decadent treat that is actually touted as a training tool! They are gluten-free but contain whey, a milk-derived ingredient.
Healthy chickpeas are hot right now, and Saffron Road has put them to good use as a crunchy snack food with unique flavor and nutrition. Choose from Falafel, Bombay Spice or Wasabi flavor, and you enjoy less guilt next time you’re reaching for a satisfying snack!
Classic battered fish was something unheard of in the gluten-free world until recently. Starfish has cracked the gluten-free code on this handy frozen food. Offering Cod, Haddock, and Halibut – my kids can’t decide which they like best! Wild harvested fish, prepared gluten, milk, egg and soy-free, and offering the convenience of a frozen meal. (If you'd like to try making your own at home, you'll love my GF Beer Battered Fish recipe!)
I know, I know, you’re thinking that I’m talking about just another chip. These are not your average chip. Sprouted seeds are what technically sets these apart, but when you’re choosing chips for your dinner party, your guests only care if they taste good. Set these chips out and I promise you’ll have a crowd gather … around the chip bowl!
Sweet Potato Tortilla Chips that put the others to shame, addictive Multi-Grain Tortilla Chips, unbeatable Blues Tortilla Chips, Simply Beyond Black Bean Tortilla Chips and Simply So Sweet Chili Tortilla Chips that I haven’t had the willpower to try yet. These should be on your must-try list if you’re a snacker looking for way better tasting chips with at least a little better nutritional value.
I’ve loved these bars since they first launched. Certified gluten-free, soy-free and a great source of protein and fiber, bar flavors contain one of two protein sources: whey or vegan brown rice protein. This year’s new flavors like Cashew Cranberry Orange and Dark Chocolate Hazelnut liven up the choices, but you can never go wrong with my favorite, Oatmeal Chocolate Chip.
Not all the bars are dipped in chocolate, which I also like, so they’re easy to carry in your pocket book or keep in your car without getting melty! Try all their flavor combinations and see which is your favorite – the nutritionists behind this bar will make sure whichever flavor you choose has a nutritious balance of carbs, protein, fats and fiber.
Hard cider has nearly always been gluten-free, but it hasn’t always been this delicious. Angry Orchard is serious about their hard cider – it’s dry, not sweet, crisp and light. All the right features for a winner in my book. Crisp Apple, Traditional Dry and Apple-Ginger offer you further choice for drinking or for baking (see my Gluten-Free Apple Cider Cake recipe!).
In stark contrast to Omission (see below), Harvester’s home page boats its “ethos” that it will never “use barley, wheat or rye and then attempt to chemically or enzymatically remove the gluten.” Harvester’s gluten-free beers are also vegan and are made in “America’s first dedicated gluten-free brewery.” Ingredients like locally-sourced chestnuts, gluten-free oats and sorghum are the foundation of Harvester’s selection of Red, Pale and Dark Ales. Brewed in Oregon, what’s new is that through a service called “Lets Pour,” nearly anyone (over 21) can now order these beers delivered right to their door!
The latest “de-glutenized” beer to hit the market, this Oregon brew has taken the gluten-free beer world by storm. A beer made with barley, but “de-glutenized” in the brewing process, yields a beer that tastes like a traditional brew, appealing to many who aren’t fans of gluten-free grain-based beers. Available nationwide this year in lager and pale ale. Something cool about this beer’s bottles: each is stamped with a date corresponding to Competitive R5 ELISA gluten testing done on that batch. Enter your beer’s batch date on the Omission site and see the exact gluten results for that batch!
* As always, my reviews and opinions are my own. Some of these products were sent to me by the manufacturers; others I purchased to try. I will only recommend products I like, whether provided to me or not.