Going Gluten-FreeFebruary 8, 2012

Take a Bite!

This is the third in a series of three reports on the latest gluten-free products to hit the market, as I discovered them at this year’s Winter Fancy Foods Show in San Francisco, California. The first report covered lots of new snack foods. The second report covered refrigerated and frozen options. This report is the catch-all, incorporating exciting products from lots of categories, just so you won’t miss a thing!

NuGo Nutrition to Go

NuGo Nutrition bars are different from other bars on the market in many ways. While not all the bars are gluten-free (read labels carefully!), the ones that are, are certified gluten-free by GFCO.

Their chocolate-covered bars are dipped in real dark chocolate with no sugar alcohols. Brand-new NuGo Slim line is nearly sugar-free and packed with 15 grams of protein and lots of fiber. Their NuGo FREE line is entirely vegan and free of gluten, soy and dairy. There’s something for nearly everyone in this line.

On a recent business trip, I was thrilled to see these bars in an airport coffee shop. Hopefully, this is a sign of gluten-free choices to come in all sorts of venues!

Pastabilities® Gluten-Free Curly Noodles

Listen up. If you’ve ever cringed when your child brought home the school fundraiser packet (as if that’s not bad enough) and you are supposed to buy … er, I mean to help your kid sell … gluten-y pizzas or cookie dough or other gluten-containing inedibles, then you’ll want to hear this good news. The Pasta Shoppe has heard your cries of injustice and they have responded. Their sister site, Fun Pasta Fundraising now offers Gluten-Free Curly noodles in their product lineup. If your group sells through their fundraising site, you can not only get your hands on some of these noodles yourself but your group can earn 40 to 50 percent of the profits. Finally, a fundraiser for the rest of us!

If you want to buy these noodles without a boy scout or elementary school middle-man, you can do that, too, straight from their Pasta Shoppe site. 

These noodles are pretty unique. Made in a dedicated gluten-free facility from high-protein navy bean flour and non-GMO corn flour, the curly noodles are partially cooked so they only take three minutes to boil before they’re ready for the table.

Vegan, nut-free and soy-free, these are a welcome addition to our gluten-free, allergy-friendly pasta choices!

Urbāne Grain®

By now you’ve probably tried or at least heard of using quinoa in place of rice as a side dish or base to many recipes. Quinoa is what is referred to as an “ancient grain” although it’s actually a pseudo-cereal seed hailing from Central American Inca and Andean roots. A complete protein, it’s more nutritionally dense than rice. So it has growing appeal--and not just with the gluten-free crowd.

The team behind Urbāne Grain® prides itself on taking quinoa to the next level, with flavorful additions combined to create unique and “restaurant quality” dishes. With nine products, ranging from Cracked Black Pepper and Sea Salt to Southwest Black Bean or Indian Coconut Curry, there’s probably something in their line that will interest you and complement your meal. All products are organic and gluten-free, although some, like the Three Cheese and Mushroom flavor, do contain dairy.

Wholesome Kitchen

Wholesome Kitchen’s line of products includes some that are off-limits to those of us on a gluten-free diet; however, I stopped by their booth because I was intrigued by one of their newest products: Gluten-Free Couscous. 

Yes, yes, I know that couscous is made from semolina wheat. I assure you that my curiosity was entirely driven by a desire to know just what Wholesome Kitchen thought they could do to make this gluten-containing dirty word (couscous) gluten-free. Turns out they replaced couscous grains with whole grain millet. Brilliant move.

These products come in handy shakers for a reported 4 servings each (each shaker makes approximately 4 cups of cooked product). One such “Gluten-Free Couscous” product that looked particularly intriguing to me was Couscous Fruit & Nut blend, which includes Millet, Golden Raisin, Apricot, Onion, candied Orange, Almonds, Currants, Cumin & Cardamom. I haven’t tried it myself yet but it’s definitely on my short list!

Wholesome Kitchen also makes more traditional quinoa blends that might interest you. Do Quinoa and French Lentils or Herbs and Lemon Quinoa sound good? Salad Toppers round out their gluten-free offerings–all of which come in their signature shaker bottles.

RiceSelect

The company that brought you Texmati®, the first basmati rice successfully grown in the United States, has come out with several other grown-in-the-U.S. rice products that promise to be the icing on the proverbial cake of many specialty dishes.

The one I sampled was Kasmati® Rice--a long, slender, basmati-style grain that when cooked, swells only lengthwise, leaving fluffy, light, dry and separate rice kernels that absorb sauces amazingly well. This aromatic rice is recommended for Indian or Persian dishes, like pilaf, curries and biryani.

Others, like Jasmati® Rice, boast a subtle nutty flavor and tender grains that make it a great choice for Asian dishes like Thai curries, stir-fries, fried rice and even rice puddings.

Rice Select also offers many rice blends but always read labels, as many of their blends contain wheat or barley. All their products are non-GMO and kosher certified.

thinkThin®

You’ve got to love a company whose promotional materials display their nutrition bars alongside a piece of chocolate cake and a glass of red wine, proclaiming it as “An ingredient of a day lived well.”

This company offers everything from a high-protein bar (0 grams sugar) or 100-calorie protein “Bites” to their Crunch line of low-sugar nut bars. All their products are certified gluten-free by the GFCO.

At Fancy Foods, thinkThin® introduced their newest item: thinkThin® Crunch fruit & nut bars. The flavor choices are Cranberry Apple and Mixed Nuts, Blueberry and Mixed Nuts, or Cherry and Mixed Nuts. Besides offering quality protein, fiber and low sugar, these bars are vegan and contain no maltitol (a low-calorie sweetener made during the fermenting of corn or sugar). I’ve liked every thinkThin® bar that I’ve tasted but I’m most excited about these new dairy-free bars with no maltitol, a sugar alcohol that can cause intestinal discomfort in some.

Happy Squeeze

At first pass by the Happy Squeeze booth at Fancy Foods, I took them for a baby food company (the company hails from the Happy Baby™ line of organic baby food products). I’m glad I took another look!

There are other “squeezable fruit” products on the market (they’re in my kids’ lunchboxes nearly every day, so I’m an expert!) but these are truly different. Happy Squeeze calls them organic “smoothies” and each contains a healthy blend of yummy fruits, like orange, apple, peach and banana, combined with more unusual fruits, like pomegranate, yumberries and mangosteen--and even gourds like pumpkin. 

But here’s where they get even more interesting: Each smoothie also contains Salba, a seed cousin to chia. This whole food offers loads of Omega 3s, protein, antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and fiber with a neutral taste so you and your kids will love them!

Note: While these smoothies are gluten-free, nut-free and soy-free, some contain whey protein (derived from cows) and the Happy Morning flavors contain yogurt (dairy).

India Tree®

You may have heard of India Tree natural food coloring. Now India Tree has rolled out a line of naturally colored decoratifs and sprinkles. Everything in this line is called “Nature’s Colors” and utilizes colors derived only from edible plants approved by the FDA and the EU. 

Turmeric (yellow), beet juice (pink), red cabbage (purple), blue shade red cabbage (green), annatto (orange). These are the types of ingredients that can make you feel good about decorating cookies with your kids!

None of India Tree’s products contains gluten. Its website lists whether any product contains one of the top 8 allergens. Their decoratifs and sprinkles do contain soy lecithin. Nature’s Colors food colorings are soy-free. 

Bhakti Chai

One of the products I most enjoyed tasting at Fancy Foods was not a food at all. It was a drink.

Bhakti Chai produces the most lovely Masala chai teas using fresh-pressed organic ginger, organic Fair-Trade tea and incredible spices with lovely aromas that can fill a room and a taste that is quite distinct among chai teas.

What makes this product allergy-friendly? The newest offering from Bhakti Chai takes their teas up a notch, in my book. They consist of ready-to-drink bottles of one of four chai flavors (including one infused with coffee!), balanced by a bit of dairy-free soy milk. How refreshing (on so many levels) to have a dairy-free, in the bottle, iced or heated chai tea!

Brilliant!

Jules Shepard (julesglutenfree.com) is a regular Living Without contributor. She is author of several special-diet books, including Free for All Cooking (Da Capo Press), which is available at LivingWithout.com, and creator of Jules Gluten Free All Purpose Flour. Jules was recently chosen by Washingtonian Magazine as one of their top six gluten-free bloggers.

Look for more exciting, new gluten-free finds on the podcast of Jules'  radio program, The Gluten-Free Voice. Click here for details.

Comments (2)

Thanks for the reviews.

Posted by: Hanna L | February 28, 2012 9:37 AM    Report this comment

ho hum... I fail to see the excitement;)

Posted by: Debra K | February 9, 2012 12:02 PM    Report this comment

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