Creamy Polenta & Vegetable Medley

IMG_4360 creamy polentaThis dish by Eating Right is described in small type on the package as creamy polenta and vegetable blend topped with Marsala sauce. Honestly, I’m not sure how I feel about this. The first time I tried it, I assumed by the photo on the package front – which is loaded with diced tomatoes and sprinkled with melty cheese – that it was going to taste like tomato sauce. But instead I got the Marsala sauce, which has a little sweetness to it that just doesn’t seem right with this dish. I thought maybe that since I was expecting one thing but got something else, that might have been my issue with this.

So, I tried it again. This time I added some cooked, cubed chicken for a little more protein. I feel the same way about it. I really think it would be better with tomato sauce (and I’m not a big tomato fan) than with the Marsala. Don’t get me wrong, it doesn’t taste badly at all, there’s just a disconnect in the flavors, in my humble opinion. And I don’t get the “creamy” in the name – do they mean the polenta is creamy? I dunno.

For $2.99 (at Safeway), 330 calories, 18 grams of fat, and 8 grams of protein…. If I want comfort food, I’d rather go with the Homestyle Chicken & Rice Pasta, which is lower in fat and higher in protein.

Recommended? Eh. I dunno. I won’t be buying it again.

Eating Right Gluten Free Carnitas Bake

BAKED CARNITAS IMG_3876I know what you’re thinking: what’s a Yankee with a sensitive palate doing eating a Carnitas Bake? Answer: living dangerously.

I have to say, this Carnitas Bake by Eating Right is a bit spicy, but I’m picking the green peppers out, so maybe that’s toning it down a bit. Okay, and I’m also picking out whatever looks like a red pepper.  I will be honest, I actually like this.

It does have a kick to it, but I don’t mind it. The overall flavor is pleasant and a bit on the sweet side. I guess that is balanced out by the peppers for most people. The consistency is fine – I cooked it for 5-1/2 minutes and just the very outside edges of the tortillas got a little hard and crispy. It probably could have gone for 5 instead. There is plenty of meat which is moist and not chewy.

It holds its heat for a nice, long time, too. My only suggestion would be that you might like to add some grated cheese across the top of it. I think it would be great with some guacamole and sour cream.

So, if you want something a little spicy for only about $2.99 – this is a winner. Available at Safeway.


Chex Gluten Free Oatmeal

IMG_4618 chex oatmeal nutella styleChex, we love you. Gluten-free instant oatmeal is here. Quaker Oats, why didn’t you guys think of this? Sheesh!

In a variety box of Chex Gluten Free Oatmeal, you get 2 packets each of 3 flavors: apple cinnamon, maple brown sugar, and plain. It’s super easy to make in the microwave in less than 2 minutes, and each packet comes with a convenient fill-line for milk or water (I always use milk for creamier oatmeal) so you don’t have to dirty a measuring cup.

Great flavor, great consistency, awesome job, Chex!

But now, I bet you’re wondering why Nutella is in the picture. Okay, I’ll tell you. How many kids do you know (young OR old) who like plain oatmeal? That’s one drawback of variety packs of any kind – there’s always one flavor no one wants. Why do they do that? In any case, here’s a quick, easy, and delicious solution to the plain oatmeal issue. When you’re done heating the oatmeal, stir in up to 2 tablespoons (1 serving) of Nutella until it’s thoroughly mixed. You will end up with one delicious bowl of oatmeal! Yes, I know, I’m a genius. You’re welcome.

You can learn more about the most awesome Chex Gluten Free Oatmeal at I got mine at WalMart for under $3.00. Enjoy!


All But Gluten Chocolate Snack Cakes

IMG_4652 gf ringding compI have seen the face of evil and I live to tell the tale. These All But Gluten Chocolate Snack Cakes are probably the “falling apart” equivalent of RingDings. (I mean, come on, we all know that GLUten means glue. So gluten-free stuff falls apart. A bit. Who cares as long as the consistency is good and it tastes awesome, right?) And my oh my are they good. Like evil good. Like no self control good.

Okay, I don’t normally eat this kind of thing, so maybe that is swaying my opinion here. I was in Safeway in Spokane and I had just bought like 100 cookies to thank the guys at Staples for fixing my computer and I was feeling like the kid who didn’t get picked to play on a team. So when I saw these, I was like “oh hell yeah.” (I know, you didn’t need to know all that, but…)

I thought they were a little light on the cream filling and the cake was just a little on the dry side, but no worries, I am like MacGuyver with Cool Whip. What a treat for dessert or in between meal snacks or like in place of a meal or for breakfast or…  Oops, sorry.

You can read more about these naughty puppies (including nutritional information) here:

Highly recommended.

IMG_4656 gf ringding comp

Wolfgang Puck Free Range Chicken Soup

IMG_5659 wolfgang puck compWhen I feel crummy, I want chicken soup. Of course, when I feel crummy, that’s when I don’t feel like making chicken soup. Who wants to go to all that trouble? You? Then send me some chicken soup, will you? (I will say, last time I was ill, a dear, sweet friend made me some turkey soup. All hail turkey-soup-making friends!)

This time, I was prepared. At least I hoped I was. On a recent trip to Safeway trolling for gluten-free foods, I found Wolfgang Puck Free Range Chicken with White and Wild Rice Organic Soup on sale. So I got a can.

I will be completely honest. (What else is new?) When I opened this can, I almost hurled. It smelled TERRIBLE. If your stomach is at all off, I recommend you have someone else open the can. (Sorry, I just call ’em like I see ’em.)

I heated one can of soup in one bowl (see photo). It says on the can there is enough for 2 servings, but I beg to differ if you’re serving it as a meal. If you’re serving it as an appetizer, well, you can probably get away with that. I cooked it for 2-1/2 minutes on high as per the instructions. I recommend putting a plate underneath. It didn’t boil over, but there was a lot of  condensation under the microwave-safe cover.

IMG_5661 wolfgang puck compThe broth was not runny – it was a nice thickness for dipping toast or crackers (or in my case, 1/2 an Udi’s bagel). The texture of the rices was very good. The chicken chunks were a little tough, but not chewy or nasty. My sensitive palette would have liked just a tad less paprika, but for normal people, I’m sure it was fine.

Would I buy it again? I consider this one of those “break glass in case of emergency” foods, so yes. I have a container of Pacific Foods g/f chicken soup ready to try next. We’ll see who wins the spot on my lazy Susan.

G/F Pizza Steel Cage Match: Amy’s Brand

Amy's Gluten Free Cheese Pizza IMG_0512I was so very excited when I saw pizza in the gluten-free freezer case at WalMart. Pizza is one of the foods I really do miss from my gluten-mongering days. So when I saw both Amy’s and Udi’s had gluten-free pizza available, I grabbed them.

A few comparison notes:

Amy’s pizza is about one dollar more than Udi’s. The calories, carbs, and protein are about the same. Amy’s pizza is 12 ounces and they expect you to get 3 servings out of it. Udi’s is 10 ounces and they divide that bad boy into two servings. All-in-all, very close. Continue reading

The Crunch Factor

If you have food allergies, you know that little things can make a big difference.  Many foods, especially salads, have been ruined for me.  So when I found two alternatives to croutons for people with gluten- and/or wheat-intolerance, I got excited.

Since I have always been a fan of croutons, it was time to take the dive and try these.

The first type I invested in was the Olive Oil & Garlic Gluten-Free Croutons by the Gluten-Free Pantry.  They do contain eggs, corn and yeast.  They do also contain a lot of flavor.  I located my first package of these wheat free croutons in the gluten- free section at an NRG Organic Supermarket on the East Coast.  They were so good that I went back for more and they were already out.  They never got more in.  A couple of years later, I gave in and ordered some online.  The consistency of this package was different, in fact, they were rock hard.  I’m uncertain if they changed the recipe, or if it was just a lot inconsistency, but for some reason they weren’t as enjoyable.  The flavor of the first package was good enough, however, that I would give these a try again sometime.

One afternoon I was in the produce section at Safeway when I discovered the Fresh Gourmet Tortilla Strips Lightly Salted.  It states “Naturally Gluten Free” right on the front of the package.  I like these “Crunchy Toppings for Salad” for a number of reasons.  The list of ingredients is literally this short:  corn masa flour, safflower and/or sunflower oil, salt, trace of lime.  I like things simple.  I also like that they are easy to break up, and that they add a great crunch to salad.  I have even use them on top of soup instead of oyster crackers. 

Either way, if you are missing the crunch or that little extra substance to your salad, either of these products should fit the bill.


Gluten-Free Croutons

Gluten-Free Croutons

Product Information:

Olive Oil & Garlic Gluten-Free Croutons by the Gluten-Free Pantry – 5 oz. ~ $4.99

Ingredients:  corn starch, tapioca starch, water, liquid whole egg, chickpea flour, canola oil, sugar, extra virgin olive oil, xanthan gum, garlic powder, yeast, salt, spices, cream of tartar.

Tortilla Strips by Fresh Gourmet – 3.5 oz ~ $2.00 on sale.

Ingredients:  corn masa flour, safflower and/or sunflower oil, salt, trace of lime.

For other Gluten-Free food information and lifestyle tips, check out

K. S. Brooks is a guest blogger for, an author and photographer.  © 2009


These Products “Cut the Mustard”

Green Garden & Brianna's Honey Mustard Dressings.

Green Garden & Brianna's Honey Mustard Dressings.

I’m into salad this week.  While writing my last column, “The Crunch Factor,” about gluten-free croutons, I realized that some attention should be given to the difficult task of finding gluten- and allergen-free salad dressings as well. 

 I will warn you, most of the all-natural allergen-free dressings are not cheap.  But you get what you pay for:  high quality ingredients, healthy products, and good flavor.  For this installment, I’m going to feature Honey Mustard.

 Please keep in mind that not only do I look for gluten-free products, but I also require foods free of soy, sesame, sunflower, tomato and celery (and eleven other foods).  There are actually salad dressings out there that fit that bill, and they taste good!

The first is Briannas Honey Dijon Mustard dressing.  I had become familiar with their products over the years at a salad bar at an organic food store, as well as at my best friend’s house.  She always keeps that brand in her refrigerator, so after carefully examining the label, I took the plunge and purchased a bottle.  Although the product does not say Gluten-Free on it, I was assured by a liaison at DelSol Foods that “our vendors guarantee that the ingredients are gluten free but since we do not test here in our plant, we do not make the claim on the bottles.”  I have not had an allergic reaction to their dressing to date. 

 The Briannas dressing is tart yet sweet.  There is a zesty Dijon flavor that alternates with a distinct honey.  I have used it on salads, sandwiches, and as a dipping sauce for bland, non-marinated meats. 

 While searching for a dressing to expand my selection, I came across Green Garden Natural Honey Mustard Salad Dressing.  None of my forbidden foods were on the list of ingredients, so I brought it home.  Again, the product does not state Gluten-Free directly on the package, so I wrote to the company for clarification.  I was told “Our Green Garden Natural Honey Mustard dressing…[does] not contain ingredients sourced from these grains [that contain gluten].”

 The Green Garden Honey Mustard is a creamy dressing with a mild flavor that borders on a sweet Caesar.  There is more herb taste than mustard.  It is a nice change from the “standard” honey mustard dressing.

 I even made my spouse, who is not gluten intolerant, taste test these.  He could not tell they were gluten- and soy-free, and said there was no after-taste.  He enjoyed them both, as did I. 

 The Briannas and Green Garden Honey Mustard dressings are both fresh tasting, priced comparably, and found in the salad dressing and refrigerated sections of your local grocery store. 

 Briannas Salad Dressings are sold through supermarkets and gourmet specialty food stores nationwide and in several foreign countries.

 Green Garden products are predominantly available on the West Coast at the following food stores:  Safeway, Albertsons, QFC, Haggen, Top Foods, Ralphs, Thunderbirds, Yoke’s and Rosauers.

 So, if you are looking for good tasting, allergen-free salad dressings, these products are for you!

 Product Information:

Briannas Ingredients:  canola oil, water, dijon mustard, honey, sugar, white vinegar, apple cider vinegar, white onion powder, salt, modified tapioca starch, turmeric, mustard flour, natural flavor, xanthan gum, tocopherols, citric acid.

Green Garden Ingredients:  canola oil, water, honey, white distilled vinegar, prepared mustard, eggs, sugar, salt, cultured dextrose, spices, dehydrated onion, xanthan gum.

 For other Gluten-Free food information and lifestyle tips, check out

 K. S. Brooks is a guest blogger for, an author and photographer.  © 2009