Gluten Free Fitness

Nutrition

Jessica’s Natural Foods Gluten Free Granola: Product Review

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Jay at the Gluten Free Post was kind enough to refer Jessica to me. As a lover of food and health, they thought it would be appropriate to give this a go. Jessica sent me samples of all 3 flavors to try. And they are GOOD! But allow me to step back a bit…

Gluten free granola
Jessica's Natural Foods Gluten Free Granola

Jessica’s Natural Foods Gluten Free Granola

Jessica’s Natural Foods offers 3 flavors of gluten free granola. They are made with certified gluten free oats and oat flour, and other naturally gluten free foods such as ground flax, coconut, honey, maple syrup, vanilla, and nuts, dried cherries, and chocolate chips.

The products are baked in a designated gluten free area using dedicated gluten-free equipment. They are manufactured in a facility that processes eggs, soy, dairy, peanuts and tree nuts.

The vanilla maple and almond cherry flavors contain tree nuts, and the chocolate chip flavor contains tree nuts and soy ingredients. There are no artificial flavors/colors/trans fats.

Ingredients

Looking at the ingredient list on all the flavors, there are all words you will understand and your great great grandma would have recognized as food. The nutrition facts are essentially similar and quite good for all 3 flavors. For 1 serving, which is 30 grams or 1/4 cup:

  • 130 calories
  • 6-7 grams of fat
  • 16 grams of carbohydrate, 2 of which are fiber and 4-5 of which are sugar
  • 3 grams of protein.

This could be a nice topping to some greek yogurt for breakfast, or even some egg whites (they can be sweet as well as savory, you know.) They also can be eaten out of hand as a snack, or in rice/moo cow/goat/soy/almond whatever milk suits your fancy. I would definitely recommend NOT eating directly from the bag. This is fairly nutrient dense, and 1/4 cup is not a lot.

This tastes so good, it would be very easy to eat 5-6 servings without thinking twice about it. And then you’re looking at 600 calories you weren’t expecting. That’s a big whoops. So eat and enjoy, just be mindful of you portion size.

Now to the good stuff.

The taste. The flavor. The textures.chocolate-chip-granola-hire

Chocolate Chip:
This one is my favorite because anything with chocolate generally wins in my book. The chips are plentiful, but not to where they overpower the rest of the granola. There are great chunks of granola, well incorporated with all the ingredients.almond-cherry-granola-hires

Cherry Almond:
I love cherries, and I admit that I went spelunking in the bag to retrieve some the the dried cherries. There are chunks of almond as well, and good spicing with cinnamon.vanilla-maple-granola-hires

Vanilla Maple:
Love the maple flavor. This was really well balanced, the maple flavor was forward but not overwhelming.

All 3 of these flavors were winners and I will buy them in the future. The granola does have some chunkiness to it, which was a plus for me. I don’t like the granolas that are all broken up in dust.

Nutritionally these are a sound addition to your diet repetiore, and provide some healthy fats and complex carbs with minimal sugars.

I would add a protein source to create a complete snack or meal. And definitely, as I mentioned, measure out your portion. If you don’t think measuring is important, take a look at this video.

Let me know your feedback in the comments!

Get crunching!

Top 10 Gluten Free Healthy and Portable Snacks

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Ah, snack foods. The land of high fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated fats and excessive packaging. The land of oversized bags, tempting you to stick your hand in just one more time, for one more handful.

STEP AWAY FROM THE BAG!!

Options and awareness

There are lots of better options out there. It does take a little pre-planning, but we are used to that eating gluten free. As I mentioned in “preparing ahead for healthy gluten free eating success,” celiac disease makes us automatically more aware of what we put in our mouths in order to not get sick.

So let’s take it a step further to make choices that can impact our health, energy, and potentially our body composition (fatness vs not fatness) in a positive manner. You could very easily just have a smaller version of what you might have for another meal. A snack of some chicken breast, green beans and a little olive or macadamia oil is very common for me. It depends on what your resources are, how portable you need your food to be, and if you have refrigeration or a cooler. A small soft sided cooler with an ice pack is a great thing to keep with you, and then you’re never caught absolutely starving and headed for the closest crap food to dive into.

Snack composition

A general rule of thumb I like to follow is to try to include a fruit or vegetable source in the snack, a protein source, and possibly a healthy fat. (Side note-Some people consider nuts and nut butters to be a protein source. Me, not so much. If you look at the nutrition facts for lets say 2 TBSP of Smuckers Natural Peanut Butter. There are 16 grams of fat, 6 grams of carbs and 8 grams of protein.

So yes, there is some protein, but there’s twice as much fat as protein. See what I mean? It’s fine, it’s a good healthy fat source, but I wouldn’t consider it a bunch of protein.) This way you get a snack that helps you get a larger amount of produce in your day, and gives you some lasting energy.

10 gluten free healthy and portable snacks

These are in no particular order, by the way.

  1. Apple and string cheese-my go-to snack. Very portable, easy, and tasty. I like Fuji’s, and I like the 2% string cheese. Personal preference.
  2. Celery sticks and natural peanut butter with a small container of cottage cheese or greek yogurt. Try to get the plain kind-the flavors add A LOT of sugar. You can generally find the Greek yogurt Fage or Oikos brands in many regular supermarkets. They are thicker and creamier than regular yogurt, with a higher protein content.
  3. Deli turkey slices (make sure it’s gluten free, Boar’s Head brand is very common and gluten free) wrapped around baby carrots, and/or wrapped around pickles.
  4. A small handful of almonds with a piece of fruit, and a hard boiled egg or three.
  5. Sliced bell peppers dipped in homemade bean dip (seriously-can’t be easier-open, drain and rinse a can of white or garbanzo beans, throw ’em in the Magic Bullet or a food processor with some garlic, thyme and a tiny drizzle of olive oil and some sea salt, add some cayenne if you like or whatever spices. Voila) or store bought hummus-again and as always check labels.
  6. Small pop top or packet of canned tuna, and celery or carrot sticks, small handful of nuts.
  7. Plain Greek yogurt with some berries, and sliced almonds or crushed walnuts.
  8. Cottage cheese with a piece of fruit or some cut up veggies. You can also make this like a “ranch” type dip by adding some seasonings and blending until smooth.
  9. Ostrim jerky-ONLY THE NATURAL FLAVOR IS GLUTEN FREE!! But it’s tasty, doesn’t require refrigeration, dairy free, and high in protein. Add an apple and you’re set.
  10. A protein shake and a handful of almonds with an apple. Protein powder you can keep in your car, won’t go bad, and all you have to do is have a secure bottle and some water to shake it up and you’re good to go.
  11. BONUS SNACK!
    I know, I said 10, but if the guys in Spinal Tap can take it to 11 so can I. A couple ounces of chicken breast left over from dinner the night before, some green beans and slivered almonds. Yum. I’m a big fan of cooking in bulk, and having leftovers to have either as snacks or as entire meals. Why cook 2 chicken breasts when you can cook 10? Save time, save energy, and have great healthy food ready to grab.

So no excuses as you’re running about this holiday season-the siren song of the food court will not affect you when you have these handy snacks ready to go!

What are your favorite snacks? Let me know in the comments-there’s always room for more great ideas!

Eating Healthfully and Flavorfully (is that a word?) Gluten Free

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There are many wonderful gluten free food and recipe blogs that you can take a look at for ideas, and I’m going to list a few for you at the end of this post. But barring a specific recipe-what if you just want to cook, not follow a recipe per se? Here are 6 tips (I wanted to do a top 5 list-but ended up with 6) to help make your meals flavorful, healthful, and keep them gluten free.

6 tips for flavorful, healthful, gluten free meals

1. Get the best ingredients possible.
Ain't nothin' like the real thing, baby

Ain’t nothin’ like the real thing, baby

If you have the ability to obtain locally grown food in season-use it! It will be fresher and hold more natural flavor than a food that has had to travel, or is being produced out of season. Generally it will be less expensive as well. If that’s not an option, frozen veggies are generally more flavorful than canned.

Keep an eye out for ingredients-believe it or not. I almost fell over the other day when “sugar” was the third ingredient on a box of frozen snap peas. Exceptions to the frozen general rule would be canned beans-which are way more convienent than dried beans, and personally I like canned artichokes.

2. Don’t be afraid to use spices.

How many of the spices in your rack have you actually used? Give them a shot! Take a look in the spice aisle at the grocery store-there are so many options out there. If you choose a spice blend, make sure to check the label for hidden gluten. I tend to use these quite a bit:

  • Lemon Pepper
  • Garlic powder
  • Grill Seasining
  • Lime Pepper
  • Cayenne pepper
  • Herbs de Provence
  • Jane’s Crazy Mixed Up Salt
  • Sea Salt
  • Creole Seasoning
3. Citrus is your friend.

lime

Lime and lemon juices and zests can add a ton of flavor with little to no caloric impact. You can use them in a marinade, a rub, a garnish, in a sauce-however you’d like.

My favorite marinade for flank steak is fresh squeezed lime juice, grill seasoning, chopped garlic, and a bit of olive oil. Easy and very good.

I made chicken breasts the other night-the go to food in my house.

  1. Some fresh lemon zest, some chopped garlic, sea salt, and some fresh rosemary went into the Magic Bullet.
  2. Process until reasonably chopped up.
  3. Press mixture into chicken breasts, add to preheated skillet or grill pan, and cook.
  4. Add in the juice from the lemons you zested.
  5. Viola. Very flavorful, lemon herbed chicken.

Easy. (This is why I don’t post a lot of specific recipes-I cook fairly simply like this all the time.)

4. Mustards are fabulous!

There are so many different varieties of mustard out there, and mustards are naturally very low in calories and sugar, and fat free. Some of the fancy mustards may have added ingredients, so always check labels for hidden gluten or sugars.

There is a mustard called Vivi’s Carnival Mustard that I love to straight up dip veggies in. It’s a bit spicy, but it’s very good. They also provide a bunch of recipes for the mustard and different uses.

Don’t give up on the grocery though-dijon mustard is great for kicking up flavor in homemade salad dressings without adding a lot of fat, and is great mixed with tuna. (I promise-give it a try!) Straight up yellow can be useful in making a BBQ sauce of sorts, and is really good when mixed with pork rub seasoning and rubbed onto a pork tenderloin. A lot a flavor for the calorie buck.

5. Fresh herbs are always a great bet.

parsley

I wish I could grow my own herbs. I have a black thumb. My fiance is a wonderful gardener, and all of our plants owe their lives to him. I couldn’t even grow the Chia Herb Garden. No lie.

I am fortunate though, that the food market I frequent has a fairly large selection of reasonably proced fresh herbs. I get cilantro for fresh salsa, rosemary and thyme for chicken and pork, basil for tomato, and mint for mojitos.

Make sure to add your fresh herbs toward the end of cooking, or use a quicker cooking method with them. In other words-they don’t hold up too well in a crockpot, and their great fresh flavor is lost.

6. Explore the world of vinegars.

There are way more varieties of vinegar than I was aware of a few years ago. Now, I always have on hand a balsamic vinegar (I use the most), a red wine vinegar, an apple cider vinegar, and a white wine vinegar. Usually rice vinegar.

You can make an awesome salad dressing very easily with dijon mustard, balsamic or red wine vinegar, a little EVOO/Enova oil and spice you like. Shake and serve. If you have fresh herbs, add in some basil and you can’t get any fresher, you know?

Apple cider vinegar mixed with Dijonnaise, nonfat greek yogurt and celery salt makes a great lower fat coleslaw.

Heidi over at Adventures of a Gluten Free Mom is going to do a balsamic reduction (which gets very sweet and awesome) over her brussel sprouts. They also make great marinades, and great sauces.

Experiment-I find that no sugar added preserves with a vinegar and some Dijon mustard make a lovely sauce, especially if you have a pan that needs deglazing.

For example-I sear a pork tenderloin in a cast iron skillet, which then goes into the oven to finish cooking. When it’s done, I remove the pork and let it rest, then add the no sugar added preserves (my favorites are cherry and apricot), deglaze the pan with vinegar (balsamic+cherry, apple cider+apricot), add dijon, let come to a bubble and keep stirring. A flavorful easy sauce.

Let me know how it goes!

I hope this helps! It’s my belief that is you have a few go-to techniques, you don’t always have to follow a recipe. But when you do want to follow a recipe, you can check out these lovely folks for ideas. These are only a few of the great gluten free food blogs that are out there.

Happy Eating!