Snacky Treats Recently Taste Tested

I love it when friends give me new gf products to try.  This week I am sharing two treats that were gifts and three snacks I bought myself.  First up: Tate’s Bake Shop Gf Chocolate chip cookies.  They are 7 oz in a waxed paper bag and in two plastic bags in a plastic tray inside.  I found them to be large, thin, crisp and somewhat addictive.  For those of us who adore chocolate chip cookies, anyway! I believe they came from Giant Grocery Store. I give these cookies a 4.5 on my zero to five scale.  Leaving room for homemade cookies; mine are a 5; see my blog post on chocolate chipperscrunchy-rice-sticks

tates-cookies

 

 

 

 

Second item is Crunchy Rice Sticks; round columns; 3.2 ounces and 8 sticks to a bag.  Fairly bland but not bad at all has rice syrup to hold it together and render them faintly sweet; the sticks are about an inch in diameter and five inches in length.  Great crunch and low calories: 50 to a stick!  I think they came from Giant.

Next up: Cashew Brittle from Aldi’s.  Not my favorite.  Way too sweet for me and not that much cashew in them.  Still, if you like cashews and sweets this might be up your alley.  Made by Crazy Candy Company.  7 ounce bag.

skinny-pop

Popcorn aisle: Skinny Pop Dusted Dark Chocolate Popcorn.  Non GMO, GF, 43 calories per cup.  I believe I found this at Giant Foods. Decent tasting if slightly drab: I have been spoiled by the drizzled with chocolate popcorn I found at Aldi’s this fall.  Now that was freaking amazing!  Can’t find it at present; hopeful it will return to the stores very soon.  There is a drizzled with chocolate and white sugar topped popcorn at Giant but it was a very small bag for nearly $4.  Crazy price for that itty bitty bag.  Time to research and product test my own homemade drizzled popcorn!

 

Final product: Veggie & Flaxseed Corn Tortilla Chips.  They were pretty decent; 10 oz bag purchased at Aldi’s; store brand chips.  Organic and in several colors and flavors although they tasty pretty much alike.  Good with a dollop of hummus.  Salsa works too.  Only thing is, I re-read the label and they are manufactured in a facility that also uses wheat products.  Rethinking this one….bummer.veggie-chips

 

I don’t recommend eating gf snacks all day long but some of these are fairly healthy and not that expensive.  We all enjoy a bit of a treat.  Enjoy!

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Time to End Cross Contamination on GF Labeled Foods

As much as I love Aldi’s (See my last two posts!) I have a peeve with them and also with Trader Joe’s.  I ate some mini edemame chips a friend gave me last week, the packet said GF on it  When I got done I went back and read that it was made on a processing line that might have had contact with wheat.  Gross as I had eaten the whole bag over a few days snacking.  Not the first time that has happened.  When people give me gifts that say GF on them I tend to have my guard down and feel safe to consume.  Not a good situation.  Happened with those pea pod snap crackers a few months ago too…

This sort of issue is pretty common at both Aldi’s and Trader Joe’s. Many times I put food items back on the shelf after scanning the package and finding words of shared processing equipment. I can’t buy much of their nuts, dried fruits or seeds due to the shared equipment.  Most of them don’t say GF on them but honestly, I expect a jar of plain roasted peanuts or plain almonds to be GF, not to mention dried fruit.  It is so disappointing to look at the package and see those fatal words of possible cross contamination. aldi' nuts

FYI: GF means no wheat, rye or barley of any form or version in the ingredients 20 ppm (parts per million) gluten in it.  Cross contamination is when my normally safe food picks up tiny amounts of gluten from the processing equipment because it was previously used to process food that contains gluten i.e. Wheat/rye/barley flour or grain.

Anyone who knows celiac disease knows that cross contamination is a major issue for celiac persons.  I generally don’t buy food that has that possible contamination disclaimer on the package.  If you have celiac you try to avoid even small amounts of gluten as they have such a terrible effect on your body.  So the possibility of even a tiny bit is enough to make me reluctantly put back chips, nuts, etc.  Who wants to spend good money on food that you end up pitching or giving away because of a slight amount of gluten that is making you feel terrible?

Aldi’s, and to some extent Trader Joe’s, make a big deal out of catering to gluten free eaters.  The biggest and most vocal group is those of us with celiac.  We have to avoid anything with 20 ppm or more of gluten in our food, some get sick even at that low level of contamination. I am very careful to avoid any possible gluten.  I get pretty sick and if it happens again within a week or two I feel even worse the second time.  God forbid it happens a third time….

If you put that “GF” labeling on your package of food I am trusting that it will be safe for me, someone with celiac disease.  A tiny bit of gluten is still terrible for me. That label is misleading if there is even a small chance of contamination due to shared processing lines. Telling me “No gluten ingredients used” is simply NOT enough.

baptism and beef goulash 023

This is the back of the bag for those edamame crackers.  See the shared equipment statement? And their No Gluten Ingredients Used marker?

So why, do they use the same equipment that processed gluten containing products?  Why not have dedicated GF foods only equipment?  It makes a lot of sense to all of us who’s lives depend on eating safely every. single. day. This is not a “choice” this is a life style for our very survival.  You mess with that when you label food as GF which for me means totally safe.  And yet….it might not be safe for a celiac due to this cross contamination issue.  I can’t even understand how they can use that label if there is a cross contamination possibility due to shared equipment.  If you want the right to put GF on your package you darn well better create it in a gluten free environment and that means equipment that NEVER processed gluten containing foods.  It is very difficult to fully clean this equipment to return it to a fully gf state.

Time for both Aldi’s and Trader Joe’s to clean up their act and use only dedicated GF equipment for foods that normally do not contain gluten products.  May is National Celiac Awareness Month; a perfect time to come clean both of you, Aldi’s and Trader Joe’s.  Just do it.  We with celiac will eat safer and buy more gf foods at your stores. I promise.

OMG: More Good Stuff at Aldi’s!


More Aldi’s reviews.  Went back this Friday for gardening gear and came away with that and so much more!  Last time I got some of the General Tso’s Chicken; frozen Chinese meal; general Tzo's chickenbreaded chicken chunks and packets of sauce. I served mine over brown rice with side of steamed broccoli.  It was pretty good, especially since I really haven’t eaten out for Chinese food in over 2 years.  I can’t find any local places that are truly safe in terms of gluten.  Soy sauce is a big issue not to mention the cross contamination problems.  I don’t think I will eat it regularly; not cheap and it is prepared food so there are additives and more salt, fat and sugar than I would like.  Still, I sure enjoyed it. For me the 22 ounce package made 3 regular servings, not the 4.5 the package says.

 

cheddar crackersThis time I got some  crazy yummy LiveGfree gluten free cheddar cheese crackers.  They were more than a little additive, reminding me of Cheezits. Only 110 calories for 28 crackers. I enjoyed them as I pulled out of the Aldi’s parking lot, starved and they were handy!.

 

Then I saw this item in the bargain bin, bought it and later tested the fusion Jerky Island Teriyaki Artisan Pork Jerky, tasty if a bit chewy.  Really long time since I had jerky so I honestly don’t remember what it tastes like much less the chew factor. pork jerky  Still, a handy portable snack.  The package advertises no artificial ingredients and minimally processed.  There were two other flavors, one was garlic jalapeño and chipotle lime, thinking on them….

 

roasted popcornAnd then there was the somewhat tasty spicy Roasted Sweet Corn Popcorn. I thought it a tad dry, rather roasty for me.  I didn’t eat too much of it, yet.  Maybe it will grow on me.

 

There are so many gluten free food items at Aldi’s these days I have to stop and just walk away towards the register, I want them all.  But I don’t like to eat too much processed foods so I try to restrain myself.  Looking for fruit, I did buy a big bag of navel oranges for three bucks and chose some USDA Choice stew meat for making my beef goulash this weekend. They have some fairly decent fruits and veggies; seems like more than in past months. Worth a trip especially if you eat gluten free.

Aldi’s has a lot of gardening, patio, camping, outdoor dining gear at great prices if you need some of that sort of thing.  I went for some garden stuff and came away with the cheese crackers and other food items…well I was actually looking for those crackers; heard they were tasty.  And I found a sweet looking, pale blue glass Mason jar patio light for my porch set.  Cool!  mason jar light

Aldi’s Celebrates National Celiac Awareness Month

Aldi’s has some new gluten free stuff of late.  May is National Celiac Awareness Month so everyone I know who has celiac is buzzing to help everyone understand celiac disease and it seems Aldi’s has brought out a bunch of new LiveGFree products in the past few weeks.  Aldi’s is a German company but they have a number of stores in the US and sell many gluten free products (the LiveGFree line comes to mind) and mark some of their store brand prepared foods GF which is a big help…I get tired of reading tiny print to check for questionable ingredients.  Anyway, I got a few things there last week and I want to share my thoughts.

First off, gluten free spinach and cheese ravioli sold as frozen loose ones in a bag. I boiled them for 7-8 minutes and served with a simple puttanesca sauce; spicy tomato sauce with black olives and capers.  Topped it with some fresh grated real Parmesan cheese.  Fantastic! The texture of the dough was great and the filling delish. Bet they would be great sautéed with onions and butter.

aldi ravioli

I have some plain cheese ones too; I am guessing they are good too. They also sell a rectangular box of ravioli in sauce that is pretty tasty when heated in the microwave, get them often for a treat. I just don’t have time to make homemade ravioli these day so I am thrilled that Aldi’s is providing tasty choices for me; was really missing my ravs!

multigrain tortilla chips

Secondly, I love their Simply Nature multigrain tortilla chips….just addictive with hummus.  Speaking of which, Giant has store brand hummus in a wide variety of flavors.  Most are marked gluten free right on the lid.  Excellent flavor and texture and I especially like the spinach artichoke and roasted garlic varieties.hummus

Aldi’s has some yummy crackers and chips; these sweet chili ones are nearly addictive if spicy! chili rice crisps

Finally, I found a couple varieties of gf hot pockets, ham and cheese and spinach, artichoke and kale pockets. I think I wrote before about the tasty pepperoni hot pockets and the Southwestern ones which are okay.  Ham and cheese hot pockets are quite nice but I really enjoy the spinach, artichoke and kale ones, really great flavor.  Love them for quick work lunches, with a yogurt and a piece of fresh fruit. spinach hot pockets

They sell eggs cheap which I use in great quantity when I bake as well as decent produce like baby kale, arugula, berries, citrus and avocados.  Better prices than most grocery stores.

I got a few other new food items at Aldi’s.  I will be testing them in coming weeks. Yumm!

Aldi’s Has Lots of Gluten Free Foods!

Aldi’s has a lot of gluten free products these days.  I hear they come and go on a monthly basis.  I tried a few about a year ago and when I wrote Aldi’s to say thank you for something gluten free the response said that they couldn’t promise that these products will stick around. Well, they have.  I think this is due to all of us gf types buying them on a consistent basis.

Some of my Aldi favorites are the gluten free frozen sandwich pockets, particularly the pepperoni pizza ones.  Really flavorful and tasty, they are my go to instant work lunch when paired with a dish of fruity yogurt.  I like the southwest veggie ones but not nearly as much.

aldie's mac n cheese aldie's pizza aldie's pockets aldi's gf group

Aldi’s makes a tasty multigrain cracker, in several flavors.  My favorite is the sea salt multi-seed snack crackers; great crunch and a good flavor to match with a chunk of sharp cheddar. I had tried them the first time around and was very excited to find them again.

aldi's crackers

I like their big bars of dark chocolate; some are marked GF on the wrapping; made in Germany and good quality for the price. aldi's chocolate

The store brand gf pizza mix is decent, I made it kinda thick.  Thin it is supposed to make two small pizzas.  Worth trying again.  Ditto as to their pasta; worth trying: great prices for both items. Their chocolate snack bars are rather tasty if small; that is a yes vote!aldie's pizza

I was less impressed with the frozen chicken nuggets, gf and fully cooked. I have eaten them 2 or 3 times.  Small, lacking in texture or flavor and rather dry. I have to dip them in spicy bbq sauce to enjoy them.  I would rather make my own from fresh raw chicken and bread crumbs.

The gf vegetable lasagna is edible but not particularly fresh tasting with a bland watery tomato sauce.  Nothing to compare with homemade but if you need a quick meal that you don’t have to make, it will do.

The worst tasting thing was the waffles.  They are corn based and taste strongly of corn, texture is coarse too.  Just not what I want in a waffle, very convenient though if you value that…

I heard they have ravioli; not found any yet.  I found pictures on line.  Now I got to find it in the freezer case. Nor have I eaten any bread from Aldi’s. Heard good and bad about that.  And they have small pizzas in the freezer: three items I must try soon!  I didn’t use to be a fan of Aldi’s but you can’t beat their prices and as I said above, some of their products are pretty tasty. Get thee to Aldi’s if you want gf food at reasonable choices.