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Gluten-Free Products: Kind Bars, Trader Joe’s Cookies and Leo’s Pasta

I’ve come across some good gluten-free products lately and wanted to share some of them.

– I’ve tried a bunch of different gluten-free snack bars and it’s hard to find the elusive bar that is crunchy, but not hard; sweet but not sugary; soft but not crumbly. KIND has mastered that mix with bars full of nuts, fruit and not too much else. I like the texture — you can taste the various ingredients, instead of them being blended together.

My favorite KIND bar is the Dark Chocolate Cherry Cashew bar. I’m a chocoholic, so I love the combination of dark chocolate and moist cherries. It tastes like candy, but it’s healthier than a Snickers bar, so I feel justified in having one for a snack.

The kind folks at KIND sent me some bars to review a couple of months ago, but I haven’t managed to get the post up till now. In their “Nuts and Spices” line, two new bars (well “new” as of a couple months ago – sorry about that) have an intriguing salty, spicy, sweet mix, with nothing artificial and 5g of sugar or less per bar (qualifying them as low-glycemic).

kind-chocolate-chili

kindmaplepecan

In the Dark Chocolate Chili Almond bar, the dark chocolate provides a balance to the nuts, while the cascabel, ancho and habanero chilies provide a slightly spicy kick that lingers but is not too overwhelming. The Maple Glazed Pecan & Sea Salt bar contains almonds, peanuts and pecans. The overall taste is of salted peanuts with a touch of maple syrup. Expect some new bars from KIND in the near future.

joe-joes

Trader Joe’s has some new gluten-free treats. I’ve read some raves about the gluten-free Joe-Joe’s, a gluten-free version of an Oreo cookie. While I do like the Joe-Joe’s (especially their low price and easy availability at Trader Joe’s), my favorite gluten-free Oreo-type cookie is still KinniKinnick’s KinniToos chocolate vanilla sandwich cookies.

tj choc chip cookies

My favorite new product at Trader Joe’s are the Gluten-Free Crispy Crunchy Chocolate Chip Cookies. These crisp cookies have a delicate, buttery homemade taste, like you pulled them out of your oven earlier that day. They are a knock-off of Tate’s Bake Shop Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies, which also taste homemade but are much harder to find, at least in my neck of the woods.

lemon cookies

Also, I love Italian lemon knot cookies, so I was excited to see Trader Joe’s Gluten-Free Iced Lemon Rounds. These are soft, slightly lemony cookies with a drizzle of icing and no grainy taste.

— Recently, I was walking on Taylor Street in Chicago’s Little Italy neighborhood and stopped at Conte Di Savoia, an Italian deli/grocery. I was excited to discover Leo’s Gluten-Free frozen ravioli, gnocchi, fettuccine and other gluten-free pasta. I was particularly excited about the gluten-free ravioli, because it’s hard to find. The butternut squash ravioli was fantastic, with a tender pasta pillow and tasty butternut squash filling. The ravioli also comes in four-cheese, spinach and cheese, and Portobello varieties. Their gluten-free stuffed gnocchi is filled with asiago cheese, spinach and cheese, or Portobello mushroom fillings. The folks at Leo’s Gluten Free spent two years perfecting their gluten-free pasta and just started selling it to stores and restaurants in April. The pasta is made in their dedicated gluten-free facility in Franklin Park, Ill.

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Kasha Varnishkes, Gluten-Free

kasha-star

Kasha varnishkes: a satisfying Eastern European dish

Kasha varnishkes is a traditional Russian-Jewish dish of roasted buckwheat groats (kasha) tossed with bowtie noodles. Apparently, my grandfather hated kasha, as he had too many memories of eating it growing up. But we love it. To me, this earthy, satisfying dish typifies Old Country cooking. Despite its name, buckwheat is not related to wheat. Rather, it’s a nutritious, gluten-free whole grain from the rhubarb and sorrel family.

Until now, I had to make kasha varnishkes with gluten-free fusilli pasta, as there was no gluten-free bowtie or farfalle pasta available. I was thrilled when Le Veneziane, a superb corn pasta from Italy, recently released gluten-free farfalle.

I wish we had gluten-free farfalle pasta a few years ago, since some of my daughter’s preschool and kindergarten projects used bowtie pasta. Don’t get me started, though, on schools’ unnecessary use of food in the classroom.

Kasha varnishkes can be served as a side-dish for brisket or it can stand alone as a vegetarian entree.

Click for Gluten-Free Kasha Varnishkes recipe

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