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Random Acts of Udi’s

udi's gluten-free

A box of Udi’s gluten-free products, some new and some old favorites.

Recently, the folks at Udi’s sent me a box of gluten-free goodies as part of their “Random Acts of Udi’s” promotion. They sent bloggers different sampler boxes of Udi’s gluten-free treats to use or to give to friends and then to describe their experiences.

Although we were initially tempted to keep the goods to ourselves, it was a lot of fun to share them with our gluten-free friends. I always feel an instant bond with anyone who has celiac, so we were thrilled to be able to share the love.

Because I divvied up the products — giving friends baggies of different items, instead of giving them a whole box to take home – it was hard for them to keep track of what was what. If I had to do it again, I would have given them the whole box and not divided it into “bits and bobs,” as my British friend would say. That’s our fault for being greedy and wanting to try a little bit of everything.

In the box were some new Udi’s products, like boxed cookies with a gourmet flair, like Salted Caramel Cashew Cookies (one of my younger daughter’s favorites), Maple Pecan Chocolate Chip Cookies and Coconut Peanut Butter Cookies (the coconut taste really comes through). The cookies say “soft baked” but they were a regular crisp cookie texture, which was fine with us. In the plastic tubs of cookies (usually found in the freezer section of the grocery store), we enjoyed the Snickerdoodles, Chocolate Chip Cookies (another favorite among friends) and the Dark Chocolate Brownie Bites. My daughter liked the surprise of finding mini chocolate chips in the moist brownie bites — another of her faves. The tubs of cookies say “soft and chewy,” and they were.

Our kids and our friends also liked the new Udi’s chips, with ancient grains like millet, amaranth and quinoa and fun flavors that pop in your mouth. The Jalapeno Cheddar chips were quite spicy and flavorful, and we also liked the Aged Cheddar ones. The new “Active” granolas were good, too, with a few added nutrients (missing from some gluten-free diets) like zinc. I have to say, though, that the Mighty Bagel with millet, flax, dried cranberries and pumpkin seeds didn’t appeal to most people. I am a traditionalist when it comes to bagels — even gluten-free bagels.

Overall, it was fun to share the items, and our friends had fun testing them out. As my father-in-law noted (thanks, Pop), the exciting part is how much more tasty and complex gluten-free foods are getting. Udi’s has added some fun flavors, ancient grains and nutrients to spice up gluten-free products, giving them more pizzazz, for which we are thankful.

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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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