Sunday, January 31, 2010

Soup's ON! (Part Two) Two Companies with GF Soups that will warm your soul

To quote Mick Jagger:
"You can't always get what you want. But if you try sometime, you just might find, you'll get what you need."

I feel that way about gluten-free soup. Prepared soup. Canned soup. Packaged soup. You know. CONVENIENCE soup.

I miss it. I'm sorry. There. I said it.

Now, I love a good vat of homemade soup like the next person, and yes, I can make it with the best of them. I make an awesome minestrone soup, and my taco soup is mighty fine. You should try my cauliflower and leek soup, too. And I have this tomatoey veggie beef soup that puts Rachel Ray's stoups to shame.

But seriously. I have used canned soups all my life. And being GF, we have been limited.

While I was sick in January, though, I refocused my attention and discovered to GREAT lines with great soups for the GF. And honestly both lines got me through last month's illnesses.

I present them both to you in alphabetical order. With all my love.

Amy's Kitchen Organic Soup

Out of the blue last month, I got an email from Debby Fortune who represents Amy's Kitchen, asking me if I'd tried their products. I of course had -- the pizza is a staple in my Kroger (I got it there...hehehe) and I love their Cheese Enchiladas and Tamales.

But the kind representative from Amy's Kitchen offered to send me a sample of their soups, and I realized that in almost three years of gluten freedom, I'd not tried them! In fact, I didn't even think of Amy's when I thought of soup.**

Well, I do now. I received a package with three cans -- Spanish Rice and Bean, Vegetable, and Tomato Bisque. And now I have a new favorite soup in a can. OK, a bunch of new favorites. Because they make a lot. And usually (now that they're on my radar) they're usually about $2 a can in my Kroger. And there are LOTS of GF Flavors.

Let me wax nostalgic about one of them, though. Tomato Bisque. See, I was always a Campbell's soup girl, and tomato was always my fave. Do when I had to give it up, I began a search for a good one. Why I didn't try this, I don't know, because it is AWESOME! When I'm sick, I want tomato soup and cheese straws. I now have that -- with the Tomato Bisque and Grainless Baker Cheese Straws. YUM. Yes!

(And Amy's got a great shoutout this week from Michael Pollan on the Oprah show. I'm just glad I was a fan before Oprah.)

Kettle Cuisine

My first encounter with the Kettle Cuisine Brand of frozen soup was at the Gluten Free Vendor Fair. I tasted a couple of soups and got three $1 off coupons, and I looked forward to a time when I could purchase this product.

I gotta say, I really LOVE the people at Kettle Cuisine -- their local rep (by Twitter Friend @gfsoupmom) and their national reps @Kettlecuisine are awesome.

When I got to Tampa for Christmas, I had the chance to purchase three soups at my favorite HFS. And I brought them home just in time for my sickness.

OMG. OMG. OMG. What a phenomenal soup! I enjoyed beef chili and chicken noodle (and even got sent a coupon for a future bowl when I"m well). The third, their Organic Carrot-Coriander, which I used for something else.

Can I just tell you how much I love this soup? It tastes like my Daddy's -- I have never had to make chicken noodle soup because his is so good. This. Is. A. Dream. Come. True. With a coupon, it sold for about $2 for one container. I think it's wonderful. I have a free coupon and two $1 off coupons. I'm stocking up this weekend when I got to Atlanta!

I know it's sold at Whole Foods and Return to Eden, and in Tampa at Abbey's Health Food Store.

Both soups will be kitchen staples for me. Both companies have excellent web sites with nutrition information.

Both have rocked my world. I hope they'll rock your world, too.

Much love, and I tip my hat to you all! If I had a hat....

**Disclosure: Amy's Soup for Sampling were provided by the company. Kettle Cuisine Soup mentioned here was purchased by me.

There's a product giveaway!

At Leslie Loves Veggies!

I hope to acquire some of these mixes to try myself. They have a country dumpling recipe that makes me think of one of my favorite southern comfort foods....

Much love, Ging

Thursday, January 28, 2010

An App-propriate iPhone App

I was so, so happy last week to acquire the Grocery Guide iPhone App from Triumph Dining! I have spoken to both Ross and Kay at Triumph, and I know they're proud it's out and working. And me? I'm so glad I have an iPhone (genuine endorsement, btw. I bought my phone in May).

I took it to WalMart on Friday and checked products on the spot. I especially enjoyed using it while looking at condiments like BBQ sauce and salad dressing. I also used it for cheese for someone on the Delphi Forum.

It's easy and simple to use. It's pretty darn near perfect.

The only issue I have is one that will change with time -- there are some brands not on there yet. But thankfully, most of the brands at major chains are there for our use. It's very complete, and it will only get larger and better. I find it a bit easier to use than some of the other apps I rock -- but having them all on my phone really is wonderful.

Do you have APP ENVY? (can't help you if you need the phone).

Do you want to try the iPhone App? Here'a a sweet contest from the Triumph Dining Newsletter.

Win Triumph Dining’s New iPhone App
To celebrate the launch of our new gluten free grocery guide iPhone App, we’re giving away 10 free copies to our blog readers. To enter the contest, just add a comment on our blog. (Of course, you’ll need to be an iPhone user to actually use the app…) We’ll choose winners next Friday and announce them right here, so enter soon and stay tuned!

The new App is the iPhone version of our popular gluten free grocery guide. Like the print edition, it lists over 30,000 gluten free foods, making it the largest gluten free product listing available anywhere. We worked with one of the best iPhone developers in the business to build a very fast, powerful App that’s really easy to use.

To learn more, visit the grocery guide app page at Apple’s App Store (the link will open up the iTunes Store on your computer).

Much love, and Thank you Triumph Dining.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

A Gluten-Free Bookshelf Essential: Triumph Dining Grocery Guide

When I first became gluten free, I was lost in the wilderness. I'd been gluten free for two months when I got the guts to ask questions on the Delphi Celiac Forum (and hey, got shot down a few times but went back anyway).

One of the first resources I heard about on Delphi was The Triumph Dining Cards. Soon, I became acquainted with the fine folks at Triumph Dining, and have written a number of reviews of their fine products.

Now we have this wonderful shopping guide. And I give it two thumbs up.

Just look at this page from this wonderful book.

The book is sold for $19.95. It's worth it. In fact, I gave my copy (provided from Triumph Dining for my review) to a gluten-free student at my university who is on her own for the first time. She's not only GF, she's DF/EF/YF and CF.

Try it!

Much love, especially to Triumph Dining.

P.S. I'm anxiously awaiting the new iPhone App from Triumph Dining...

Sunday, January 10, 2010

The Grainless Baker Cheddar Cheese Cracker: Nature's Perfect Cure

When I'm sick (as I have been for the past 9 days) nothing comforts me like a crispy cheese cracker -- what we call a Cheese Straw down here in Georgia and Florida. I know that's silly, but it's a habit my Mama started, and I find hard to break.

For those of you not of southern descent, a cheese straw is a crispy cheese cracker, made with butter and cheese, that is usually served at tea socials and weddings. Sometimes they're squiggly and delicate. Sometimes they're crisp and crunchy (like my Mama's recipe, which I prefer). Most of all they're redolent of sharp cheddar cheese...crispy, tangy, YUMMY!

Anytime I was sick as an adult, my Mama would make a batch for me. And I'd pretty much live off them for however long my sickness endured. I had a bag in my freezer when my Mama died, and like Jeffrey and his Snickerdoodles, I parceled them out over a year or so.

Once I went gluten free, I found it hard to find something that replicated a cheese straw. But back in November, at our Middle Georgia GIG Thanksgiving, my friend Jennifer Harris (JGF) brought a pack of The Grainless Baker Cheddar Cheese Crackers for the table. She mentioned they weren't very "crackery," but I liked them at first bite. I snagged the leftovers, and after more sampling, realized this is really the closest thing to a cheese straw I've found since going GF. Randy loved them, too.

And now, I'm addicted. I have to pace myself, really. They have flours I'm good with in them, they don't cause me gastric distress, and most of all, they have no added sugar. They also have protein, so a couple of crackers work for me as a quick breakfast. But I must restrain myself!

Who am I kidding. Since Thanksgiving, I've bought about 10 packages of these babies.

The only place I've found these great crackers is at Return to Eden in Atlanta, where I tend to buy them out every time I pass by. Last Friday, one of my students made a cracker run for me on her way home to Milledgeville. So as you can see, I'm good for a couple of....days? weeks?

But I digress.

At $3.99 a box, these are a great price and are really good for all uses. I haven't crumbled them into tomato soup yet...but that's not far away, I assure you.

Ingredients: Cheddar cheese, rice flour, potato starch, eggs, butter, Xanthan gum, salt and pepper. (The only thing I think it needs is a dash of cayenne -- but I can remedy that myself in the box!)

Try them. You'll love them!

Much love, and crunch crunch!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Finally, a good cornbread mix!

I love cornbread. It is the first gluten-free recipe I converted, and I make it a lot just because I love cornbread. I can eat cornbread and butter and nothing else for dinner and be a happy, happy girl.

And now, I love Pamela's Products Corn Bread and Muffin Mix. I got a sample from the company over the holidays, and it is now going to have a permanent spot in my pantry.

There's a story, of course.

Now, I'm pretty picky about cornbread. If you like your cornbread with sugar in it -- Yankee Cornbread -- then I suggest you skip the next two paragraphs. I believe that taste is personal, and I don't want to offend...***

(See, I was raised in the south, and southern cornbread has two things going for it -- it is NOT SWEET and it has a crust. A thick crunchy crust. If you're a cook worth anything, you have a DCP -- a dedicated (and gluten-free in my case) iron skillet that you use only for cornbread. And for nothing else. Ever. You like your cornbread made with buttermilk, and you also like it white (though I DO like yellow since that is all I can get gluten-free most of the time. It was kinda funny -- my first husband wouldn't marry me til I could make cornbread like his mother. But that is another story...And they were also not sweet cornbread people. In fact, everyone I know likes southern cornbread the way I most always make it.

My mother wasn't a purist. She used Martha White White Cornbread Mix. And I always did too. I can replicate it, but it does take time and measurement, and so it became a pain...

***SKIP TO HERE: There is an exception to my cornbread rule -- some casseroles from my childhood, like my corned beef casserole and corn casserole, and the like, require Jiffy mix. Honestly, once in a while, I found myself wanting a Jiffy corn muffin. But it was never real and I'd never serve it with chili or on New Year's Day.

Once I went gluten-free, there was no mix available that didn't pretty much taste only like Jiffy. So it was OK when I made my casseroles, but I did miss the Martha White-style mix.

Until now. The versatility of the Pamela's mix is on the package -- you can add sugar, or leave it out. You can add buttermilk. It was mightly crusty in a regular pan, so I know it would be awesome in the DCP.

In other words. Easy, good, versatile, and GLUTEN FREE! Like the Baking Mix (which I use for EVERYTHING now) this will be a staple.

It can even be made with almond milk! Makes it even nuttier. I'm pretty sure you could make it vegan and CF/DF if you wanted to do so..

Kudos, Pamela's Products. Thanks for this. I can't wait to try to other samples and report back.

Oh, and check out Pamela's Favorite Newsletter, which came out today. Marion, who is mentioned, is from around here!

Much love, and pass the cornbread!

P.S. Here's the nutritional information and ingredients for your information:

INGREDIENTS: Organic Degermed Corn Meal; Brown Rice Flour; White Rice Flour; Tapioca Starch; Sweet Rice Flour; Potato Starch; Organic Degermed Corn Flour; Grainless & Aluminum Free Baking Powder (Sodium Bicarbonate, Sodium Acid Pyrophosphate, Potato Starch); Sea Salt; Xanthan Gum.