Archive for Pantry Staples

Chocolate Almond Coconut Milk

Chocolate milk, it’s not just for kids. My milk mustache is definitely not white even though my hair is mostly white at this age. An alternative milk is definitely appreciated for those with lactose-intolerance and/or gluten-intolerance complicated by cross-reactive dairy issues.

After experimenting off and on during the  winter months I settled on making this blend a quart at a time. A glassful tastes yummy shaken and served right out of the fridge during the summer heat. It is also wonderful served hot in a mug instead of coffee or tea on a cold morning.

Re-purposed Glass Jars

Re-purposed Glass Jars

You don’t need a fancy bottle. I save and re-purpose glass bottles from the store that previously contained juices or gluten-free pasta sauces (yes, I know, I should make my own sauce but sometimes the jar makes a good meal possible when time is short).

These ingredients were all sourced at my local HEB grocery store. I keep Hershey’s original cocoa on hand, various non-nutritive sweeteners as they appear on the market, a good quality of vanilla, the HEB store brand of almond milk, and various brands of coconut milk as long as they do not contain preservatives.

Sweeteners differ considerably in perceived level of sweetness and it varies greatly by individual even within a family. I have a feeling that the quantity of nectresse™ that I used here will be too much for many. Start with the lower amount (or even less if you are a super-taster). You can always add more to reach the right level for your taste preference.

Adding the Ingredients

Adding the Ingredients


Chocolate Almond Coconut Milk – gfedge

1/4 cup warm water

2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

1/2-1 tablespoon nectresse™* (or your prefered sweetener)

1/4 teaspoon vanilla

3/4 cup coconut milk, full-fat

3 cups almond milk

You will need a clean one quart glass bottle or mason jar with a screw-on cap that seals well. It will be used for shaking the ingredients together, initially to mix and then again just before serving.

Add the warm water and the cocoa powder to the jar. Shake and swirl to completely dissolve the cocoa powder before adding the other ingredients. Screw on the cap and shake to be sure the cocoa is completely dissolved. This should prevent it from clumping.

Add your sweetener of choice, the vanilla, and both of milks. Screw on the cap and shake well. Place in the refrigerator to chill. Shake again just before serving.

The full-fat coconut milk adds a healthy fat, tastes really good, and it helps to keep the ingredients evenly mixed!

Shaken, Not Stirred!

Shaken, Not Stirred!

Makes 1 quart.

Note*: nectresse™ is made by the company that brought us SPLENDA® brand sucralose, hardly a good recommendation but I was curious. The closest I can come to a calorie count for nectresse™ in measuring for baked goods is the evasive 1/4 teaspoon = zero calories and it is a ‘free food’ for diabetics at four ‘servings’. The most positive thing I can say about this product is that the label does not list any ingredients that I would not use if the ingredients were labeled ‘organic’ or ‘nonGMO’, which they are not.

Gretchen @gfedge

This post is linked to:
Wellness Weekend April 25-29, 2013
http://dietdessertndogs.com/2013/04/25/wellness-weekend-april-25-29-2013
Ricki Heller’s Blog – Diet, Dessert, and Dogs

 

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Hodgson Mill Mixes

Last month has been crazy in ways that I never previously experienced. Rita is on a family mission and will be residing in California for the foreseeable future. We are hoping for a year but it could be longer.

I traveled back and forth to California a couple of times before Rita’s departure and being in transit did not have any blog-worthy recipes to contribute, not that I didn’t have ideas.

The cooking that I did has either been recipes already posted here at The Gluten Free Edge or a new pancake recipe from The Gluten-Free Almond Flour Cookbook by Elana Amsterdam of Elana’s Pantry fame on behalf of #1 Son, Jorge, who has been advised by his doctor to eat gluten-free like Rita and me! Elana’s pancake recipe satisfied his taste memory of the pancake recipe that I created for him, Rita, and Teresa when they were children.

Apple-Cinnamon Muffins

Apple-Cinnamon Muffins

A few baking mixes filled in for my other cooking needs. The Hodgson Mill Apple Cinnamon Muffins prepared by our Georgetown neighbor Dona started my interest in this brand of mixes. The muffins were light and flavorful and wonderful for brunch with fruit and a cup of tea. Dona kindly sent some home with me and Don gave them his approval also.

Hodgson Mill Brownies

Hodgson Mill Brownies

Then I found the Hodgson Mill Brownie Mix at our local grocery and appreciated that there was no soy flour in this mix unlike another brand that I evaluated. I have baked a couple of batches of these brownies now with excellent results. For our Easter dessert we had brownies with ice cream and homemade fudge topping (I wish I had taken that picture). Granddaughter Megan took the rest of the brownies back to the dorm to share with friends.

Saint Francis in the Morning Rain

Saint Francis in the Morning Rain

As reported in national news there have been thunderstorms bringing much-needed rain to Texas as well as the tornadoes in the Northern parts of the state. I snapped a picture of my back porch after it rained while I was baking a batch of these brownies. The air smelled so sweet and clean afterwards and all of the plants were happy and extra-green.

There is a box of the Hodgson Mill Yellow Cake Mix in the pantry that is next up for evaluation. I expect the same more-than-satisfactory results.

Usually I prefer recipes from scratch for control of the nutrition values. But we all have those moments when time is short or we do not have access to our own kitchen; at such times a mix is the perfect solution. I also recommend them to folks do not speak ‘gluten-free’ and need to prepare a gluten-free treat for an event be it for children or adults.

Gretchen @gfedge

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Pantry Quick – Bread

In keeping with my 2012 goal (that sounds more do-able than ’resolution’) of adding more vegetables to my food plan I am focusing on breakfast. Looking to the freezer at my stash of frozen vegetables and the home cooked beans that I try to have on hand I came up with a new twist on my ‘beans and greens’ favorite combination.

I’m doing pretty well recently on soaking and cooking beans on a regular basis while rotating between navy beans, lentil, and chickpeas. I usually soak them for a day, stash in the refrigerator overnight, and then cook them in the morning. If that doesn’t fit with your schedule then use the best quality canned beans that you can find – I always look for the definitive statement ‘Gluten Free’.

A couple of days ago I turned the remainder of a batch of navy beans into my savory, quick, vegan, blender Cream Gravy that I used with my Low-Carb Vegan Dressing at Thanksgiving.

The gravy has a good measure of protein and slow carbs as well as the healthy fat from coconut milk. I could eat it out of the jar with a spoon but I wanted a quick bread option to spread it on and heat in the microwave.

I decided on an experiment that I had wanted to try – easy and quick, but I needed to verify that the egg substitution in Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Pancake Mix would produce a good pancake and it worked out really well. This mix is very handy to keep in the freezer for when a Pantry Quick need arises.

I prepared half of a recipe for this test. As far as servings it depends on what you plan to use them for. The recipe as written on the package should yield 8 pancakes or 4 servings. I made three pancakes from the half recipe but made them a generous ‘sandwich size’. That is one way that I like to use leftovers; but they can be any size you prefer. I also knew that this mix makes very thick fluffy pancakes so I thinned the batter with extra milk get the thinner bread that I wanted.

Pantry Quick Bread in the Pan

Pantry Quick Bread in the Pan

Pantry Quick Bread – adaptable
1 tablespoon ground flax meal + 3 tablespoons water (other substitutions should work equally well)
1 1/4 cups Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Pancake Mix
3/4 cup milk – any kind (use 1 cup for thinner pancakes)
1 tablespoon healthy cooking oil – your choice of oil plus more for the pan.

Prepare the egg substitute. Add the pancake mix, milk, and cooking oil. Whisk it all together. Allow the batter to stand and thicken while you prepare your griddle or skillet and bring it to temperature for cooking. Test the temperature by sprinkling a drop or two of water on the pan; if it spatters then it is ready to use. Add a small amount of cooking oil and distribute around the pan. It will not be even because that is just the way melted oil is but it will still help to keep your pancake from sticking.

Add a scoop of batter for your preferred size and spread it to the diameter you want. When a good many bubbles have formed on top and burst then the pancake should be ready to flip. Use your spatula to test around the edges to be sure that it will hold together. Then scoop it up and flip to the other side.

When the pancake is done move it to a plate to keep warm and start another one. If you pan is large enough you may be able to cook more than one at a time. The cooked pancakes are steamy and you can use a clean dish towel to separate them and absorb some of the steam so they don’t get soggy.

I also added herbs, sea salt, smoked black pepper and garlic powder to make a savory bread. Focus on savory rather than sweet is part of my strategy for staying away from sugar. If I have had a delicious, satisfying meal I neither feel deprived nor go looking for something sweet afterwards. So far it works most of the time.

If you are making these for children you can use pancake molds or apply a cookie cutter to the round ones to make it visually more appealing. Presentation can make it special and less strange to someone who may be self-conscious about what their food looks like.

Ooops! Did it again – ate the result before photographing it with the gravy. I topped one with a large spoonful of the cold gravy and warmed them together in the microwave. I had it with a lovely cup of hot tea – very satisfying :-)

Gretchen

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Betty Crocker Gluten-Free Baking Mixes

This post is intended to help novices navigate gluten-free social situations and not an endorsement for including this type of fare in daily meals. If you are committed to the gluten-free way of eating then you know that you can do better than imitating gluten-filled, nutrient-deficient baked goods. Betty Crocker Gluten-Free Baking Mixes  – it is handy to have one of these in the pantry plus several recipe options to make it fabulous. I have included a recipe for Pineapple Upside-down Cake made with the yellow cake mix as an example.

Several times I have been asked for advice by someone who needs to provide a gluten-free treat toa  social gathering such as a potluck, shower, or birthday party. Some requests have included dairy-free and/or egg-free. Knowing full well the complexities of such requests I try to make it as simple as possible by recommending the use of available mixes rather than providing one of my recipes with a complex blend of expensive unfamiliar flours, non-dairy milks, and egg-substitutes; that list might cause a person give up without trying. The frosting-in-a-can is usually gluten-free although not a healthy alternative. A light sprinkle of powdered or colored sugar may suffice.

Several months ago I began testing with one of the Betty Crocker Gluten-Free Cake Mixes  so I could be more helpful responding to these requests. I don’t want to give advice that is not helpful or that could be harmful. You do need to know that the chocolate cake mix contains soy flour. The brownie mix and the chocolate chip cookie mix contain soy lecithin in the chocolate chips. These may be additional concerns. The yellow cake mix and the Bisquick do not have any soy listed as ingredients although the possibility of cross-contamination by soy is noted in a warning. All of these mixes are produced in a dedicated gluten-free facility.

The very first recipe that I made was a pineapple upside-down cake from the yellow cake mix for my cousin Ray in Temple. He and I both love all things pineapple and we sometimes reminisce about the super-sweet pineapple pies that were popular back when we were school kids.

Out of the Oven

Out of the Oven

I prefer to make this cake with crushed pineapple so everyone gets a good share of the fruit instead of a piece that only has an edge. And I also like to use dried cherries instead of the fibrous over-processed ones in a jar that feature food coloring, artificial flavor, and corn syrup.

Pineapple Upside-Down Cake
1/4 cup butter (Earth Balance)
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons agave syrup
1 cup crushed pineapple in juice, well-drained
24 dried cherries
1/2 teaspoon almond extract

1 box (15 oz) Betty Crocker® Gluten Free yellow cake mix
1/2 cup butter (Earth Balance), softened
2/3 cup water
2 teaspoons gluten-free vanilla
1 teaspoon almond extract
3 eggs

Heat the oven to 350°F. Prepare an 8 or 9-inch square pan – I used a disposable square aluminum foil pan with a lid.

In a 2-cup prep bowl or measuring cup place the drained pineapple. Add the dry cherries and almond extract. Set aside.

Gently melt the 1/4 cup butter in a microwave bowl. Stir in brown sugar and agave syrup. Add the pineapple-cherry mixture and spread evenly in the bottom of the prepared pan.

In large bowl, beat cake mix, 1/2 cup butter, water, vanilla extract, almond extract, and eggs with electric mixer on low-speed for 30 seconds, then on medium speed 2 minutes, scraping bowl occasionally. Pour batter evenly over the pineapple-cherry mixture.

Bake about 40 minutes or until surface is golden brown and toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. If it rises unevenly rotate the pan on the rack every 10-15 minutes. I thought my oven heated evenly until I baked this cake although it may have been the topping bubbling underneath the batter. Remove to a cooling rack when done.

Immediately run knife around side of pan to loosen the cake. Place a heatproof serving plate upside down on the pan; turn plate and pan over. Leave pan over cake 5 minutes so brown sugar topping can drizzle over cake. Remove pan; cool 30 minutes. Serve warm or cool. Store covered in refrigerator.

Pineapple Syrup Trying to Escape

Pineapple Syrup Trying to Escape

Note: I was not sure about how well the topping would hold so I left the cake in the pan until we were ready to taste it the next day. The cake absorbed some of the syrup but it would do that whether it was turned out of the pan or not.

This was a very light textured cake that you can confidently serve to anyone. The mix on its own is not that special. But there are now dozens of fancy mix recipes on the Betty Crocker gluten-free website; just type in ‘gluten free recipes’ in the search box and you will surely find one you like.

Very helpful in this experiment journey has been Anne Byrn’s The Cake Mix Doctor Bakes Gluten-Free recipe book. My good friend Ann Lackey had recommended the original Cake Mix Doctor cookbook to me as a way to modify a cake mix. I checked it out of the library and soon realized that those recipes would not work with any of the gluten-free mixes if only because the weights of the two products are so different. I finally decided to include the gluten-free recipe book in a recent order from Amazon. So far I have made the Honey Bun Cake on page 158 and the Banana Bread Cake on page 177. Both of them received rave reviews. The Honey Bun Cake has nearly done me in with the combination of currants and cinnamon streusel – so good :-)

I did use substitutions such as Earth Balance for butter, agave instead of honey, and coconut sugar instead of brown sugar.

The Cake Doctor's Honey Bun Cake

The Cake Doctor's Honey Bun Cake

So far I have not made one of these mixes with a egg-free replacement. Ms. Byrn does not recommend any egg-replacer except for Egg Beaters which is primarily egg whites. I have a recipe, untried, for a very plain cake using egg-replacer; not very promising but a place to start.

One reason that I really love vegan baking recipes is that they are already dairy-free and egg-free. That still leaves nightshades, soy, and nuts but like my younger daughter Teresa @TravelingRD says, ‘Mom, you can’t take care of all the allergens in a single recipe’. But I can try!

Gretchen

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What is a Cereal Grain? Grain vs Grain-free

Note: This post is completely focused on all edible seeds used in gluten-free baking. The information for a distinction between the seeds of Monocots* vs Dicots* was the result of my early efforts to understand what my body was telling me that I needed to eat (or specifically, NOT to eat). The gluten grain seeds had already been eliminated from my diet and still there were brain-fog days and other assorted unpleasant symptoms.

Various Poaceae Grains

Oats, barley, and some food products made from Poaceae cereal grains.

Much like Iris, in her recent post Carrot Cream Soda, A Diagnosis, and Listening to My Symptoms, I also felt  miserable, discouraged, and sick. Rita and I often commiserate:  ’We are our own lab rats in a seemingly lifelong experiment’.

*Monocots: Monocot seedlings typically have one cotyledon (seed-leaf). The true grasses, family Poaceae (Gramineae), are the most economically important family in this group. These include all the true grains (rice, wheat, maize, etc.), pasture grasses, sugar cane, and the bamboos. Psuedocereals (which are NOT of the family Poaceae) constitute our focus area for research and experimentation.

*Dicots: There are around 300 families of plants which are considered to be dicots. Some examples include: sunflower, pea, geranium, rose, oak, and maple families. These plants typically have two cotyledons rather than the one that is typical of monocots.

The most used and affordable gluten-free flours are all sourced from the same plant family of true grasses such as rice, millet, cornmeal, corn starch, oat, sorghum, and teff. These are the ‘grains’ that Rita and I have now eliminated from our baking supplies.

I decided to post this information, not as a solution or complete understanding, but for what it might be worth as a piece of the puzzle for your own personal issues. You may or may not be interested in the plant research noted at the bottom, all of which is from the internet, and most of it from Wikipedia.

Currently Rita and I are focused on the edible seeds of nuts, psuedocereals, and legumes for our personal nutrition needs. Seeds and/or flours made from seeds that we are currently working with include:
1) Nuts – almond, hazelnut (filbert), and coconut (although technically coconut is a fruit rather than a nut).
2) Pseudocereals – buckwheat, chia, flax, amaranth, and quinoa.
3) Legumes (aka Beans) – chickpea (garbanzo), navy beans, and lentils

We do include other gluten-free flours in our recipes for others but just now we are not using them for ourselves.

One of my personal glitches along the way (and that of a friend) was attempting to use unrefined cane sugars, such as Sucanat, rather than white sugar. Sugar cane is a grass plant. I have previously tested as sensitive to grasses, so the more unrefined the sugar the more disagreeable were the responses. Currently I use coconut (palm) sugar, maple syrup, agave syrup, and have started experimenting with yacon syrup.

Gretchen – October 13, 2011

List Of Edible Seeds – Wikipedia

1 Beans – Synopsis
These are also known as legumes or pulses.

2 Cereals – Synopsis
True cereals are the seeds of certain species of grass. Three — maize, wheat and rice — account for about half of the calories consumed by people every year. Grains can be ground to make flour, used as the basis of bread, cake, noodles or other food products. They can also be boiled or steamed, either whole or ground, and eaten as is. Many cereals are  staple foods, providing a large fraction of the calories in the places that they are eaten. Cereals include:

 Pseudocereals

3 Nuts – Synopsis
According to the botanical definition, nuts are a particular kind of seed.[4] Chestnuts, hazelnuts, and acorns are examples of nuts, under this definition. In culinary terms, however, the term is used more broadly to include fruits that are not botanically qualified as nuts, but that have a similar appearance and culinary role. Examples of culinary nuts include almonds, peanuts and cashews.

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A Taste of Thai Toasted Coconut Fortune Cookies

After going gluten-free I could still take pleasure in eating many of my favorite Chinese restaurant dishes that were naturally gluten-free. I still used the soy sauce and ate the fortune cookies until I learned about ‘hidden gluten’ and the other ‘gotchas’ and suddenly it wasn’t so much fun anymore.

But these restaurants soon began to offer a gluten-free alternative soy sauce since that was all that was required for a large percentage of the menu to be gluten-free. There was always a favorite Chinese restaurant in the vicinity no matter where I worked so I continued to enjoy Chinese lunch specials.

Fortune cookies; somehow the meal was just not complete without a fortune cookie to finish off the last sips from the pot of green tea. Too many times I would un-wrap the cookie while chatting with a colleague, take a nibble, realize what I had done and gracelessly spit it out in my hand – not pretty. It was such a simple pleasure to be so very much missed.

Rita and I were picking up a couple of items at HEB a few days ago and this is what we found…Toasted Coconut Fortune Cookies!

Toasted Coconut Fortune Cookies

Toasted Coconut Fortune Cookies

These are not the artfully-folded traditional Chinese cookie. These are toasty-brown tiny little cylinders wrapped around an even tinier little scroll that has the fortune printed on it. The fortunes are more newspaper horoscope than Confucius. But we are thrilled, thrilled, thrilled to have even one tiny nibble to finish that last sip of tea. Each cookie has only about 18 calories and 2.6 grams of carbohydrate and while 5 cookies are considerd a serving, I am perfectly happy with just one. :-)

If you have been missing fortune cookies, check out the International Foods section at your local grocery. If they not in carried by your grocer, then you can satisfy that fortune-cookie-craving at Amazon.

Gretchen and Rita

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Flour Power

    During the gluten years there was only unbleached wheat flour in the pantry. One recipe called for half cornstarch to make a batter for light, crispy fried fish. Oatmeal and cornmeal were considered ‘add-ins’ much like nuts and raisins. It was so simple back then.

    Currently I have lost track of the ‘flour’ taking up a great deal of shelf space in the freezer. Baking now has the characteristics of grandma’s ‘attic’ as I sort through bags looking for just the right ones. Don has spoken to me several times about this in his roles of ‘Chief Organizer’ and ‘Pantry Meister’.

    Last weekend I decided that I would bake a treasured cookie recipe for my Cousin Ray and test King Arthur Gluten Free Multi-Purpose Flour all at the same time. Rita had tried using this flour for our traditional pumpkin bread using a cup-for-cup substitution. The result was densely unappetizing. We analyzed our efforts and decided that gram-for-gram must be the way to go and that is the technique I used with these cookies. I keep trying because I want to put together the simplest, least expensive gluten-free recipes for a class that I am creating. (Way too many expectations, I know, I know.)

    The first time I made these cookies for Ray his response was ‘These look like a LOT of trouble . . . . . make more’! OK, these are never going to be healthy; real butter, pecan streusel on top of pineapple-apricot jam & raisins on top of shortbread pastry, but gluten-free, that should be possible.

    In the middle of it all my trusty pastry blender popped, the nut went flying across the room, the wires that were under tension sprang free splattering me with butter and sugar. Don to the rescue. He repaired the implement and the cookie project continued.

And Then There Was That . . .

And Then There Was That . . .

    What resulted was not pretty – in so many ways. The pan of bars boiled over! After they cooled they set up enough to cut. The ‘pastry’ layer tasted like solid, anemic roux. After two strikes I called it quits with this flour. I don’t have the time or patience to continue with this when other flours have performed well. And the oven still needs cleaning.

Streusel Boiled Over All Sides

Streusel Boiled Over All Sides

    And then Ricki posted Flash in the Pan: All-Purpose Gluten Free Flour Mix. Her holistic approach of balancing the protein to mimic wheat flour is appealing. My issue is that millet flour is not readily available here and while sorghum does a really good job. Also, Rita and I on our ‘inner lab-rat’ journey are trying to avoid plants of the family Poaceae (all grass plants including sugar cane, grass being one of our major allergens). So my next idea is to substitute quinoa flour for the millet in Ricki’s blend. We’ll see how THAT works out :-)

    Meanwhile back at the ranch; I need to bake Clara’s Brown Sugar Pound Cake for Don. When he came home with the leftovers of a store-bought cake from a retirement party I grossed-out after washing the knife used to cut it into serving-size pieces. It was like cleaning up axle grease (yes, I have done that). I promised him that if we could just trash that cake then I would make him a ‘sugar cake’. So now that promise is due and flour-blend experiments must wait while I clean the oven and bake a trusted recipe.

Not Working for Gfedge

Not Working for Gfedge

Gretchen (Mom)

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HEB Gluten Free Products

    HEB is a Texas-based company with headquarters in San Antonio. This organization is very generous in support of The Caring Place (TCP) in Georgetown with their daily donations of bread and support of other TCP programs. They have also been long term suppliers of my most basic gluten-free grocery needs.

    I needed to replenish my Bob’s Red Mill gluten-free cornmeal in order to make several pans of GF cornbread to be served at the Annual Soup Supper to benefit TCP (where Don and I both volunteer). Our nearby HEB on Williams Drive carries a good selection of these products.

    While I was shopping there I decided to check out their brand of pasta that Clara had tried and told me about. I was really curious because Don and I had been on the HEB product taste-testing panel quite some time ago. Also, as a volunteer in The Caring Place food pantry I often hear comments from people trying to manage gluten-free about how expensive it is. This is what I found.

HEB Brand Pasta & Sauce - All Gluten Free

HEB Brand Pasta & Sauce - All Gluten Free

Prices on March 1, 2011:
Gluten Free Fusilli $1.99
Gluten Free Spaghetti $1.99
Garlic & Herb Pasta Sauce labeled Gluten Free $1.89
Traditional Pizza Sauce labeled as allergen: milk $1.50
Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Corn Meal $3.58

    I also picked up Udi’s Whole Grain Sandwich Bread while I was there since there were only three slices remaining at home from the previous loaf. Price wise this one is in my ‘luxury item’ category. But it is handy to keep in the freezer for when I don’t have time to put together something else for the carb portion of a meal or snack.

    For staying healthy, whether you must eat gluten-free or not, a balanced diet is always in order. It takes planning ahead so that the right stuff is always available: in the fridge, in the pantry, in the car, wherever. It is critical to prevent a tumble over ‘The Gluten-Free Edge’ that lurks nearby. Given that criteria I can always rationalize a ‘luxury item’ :-)

Gretchen

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SO Cultured Coconut Milk

    Rita first became interested in the probiotic qualities of fermented foods during her studies in Virginia. And when Chef Alain Braux, Austin-based nutritherapist, spoke about how fermented foods can promote intestinal healing in people with damage from gluten intolerance I determined it was time to give them a try. For the past two months I have used some of the recommended products.

    We were on my first shopping trip to Natural Grocers when Rita introduced me to this tangy, creamy SO Cultured Coconut Milk product (also known as SO Coconut Milk Kefir). And how strong could it be after appreciating the very strong taste of fermented daikon radishes? So I came home with a bottle.

SO Cultured Coconut Milk Beverage

SO Cultured Coconut Milk Beverage

    Several bottles later, it reminds me of the cultured buttermilk that I used to mix with pineapple juice and no-cal sweetener to create a beverage that tastes like pineapple sherbet. And I plan to try that mixture again especially after discovering that this beverage is so very thick. In the meantime I mix it half & half with water, add a few drops of stevia and enjoy a tangy, refreshing drink that feels really good in the tummy. I am definitely hooked on this.

    Right now it makes a nice bedtime treat but come summertime I am already thinking of tall, frosty, fruity drinks.

Gretchen (Mom)

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Natural Grocers in Austin and Pamela’s Cheesecake

    Don’t you just love finding new gluten-free products and places to shop that are within modest driving range? Especially a store that has a staff so knowledgeable, helpful, and personable that shopping is an adventure rather than a chore?

    When Rita first discovered a local Natural Grocers she was so excited. “Mom, the first thing I saw when I walked in was a whole rack of food labeled gluten-free. It was right at the front of the store. I didn’t have to hunt or ask; it was RIGHT THERE.”

Natural Grocers Storefront

Natural Grocers Storefront

 
The Natural Grocers monthly advertising flyer is here . Their business philosophy is explained on page 4. Next time we shop there I need to bring bags and a cooler to bring home some of their beautiful fresh, organic produce.

    As I peered into Rita’s car I saw that she had a couple of cardboard boxes full of grocery items. Was she so excited that she bought cases? No, it seems that Natural Grocers is totally green, ‘bring your own bag(s)’. They have their discarded cardboard boxes available for reuse if you forgot to bring bags but they do not have any plastic or paper bags.

    Rita was so excited about the new products that she found. One of them was a miniature cheesecake made by Pamela’s – yes, Pamela’s of the baking mixes that first eased our transition into the gluten-free world. (Hmmm, now I am thinking about those biscotti that I haven’t made in quite a while from the Pamela’s Baking and Pancake Mix.)

    An Agave Sweetened New York Cheesecake – this is classic Sara Lee’s gluten-free cousin. OMG, three times we have purchased one of these 3 inch little jewels and they have yet to make it out of the parking lot! Like mother, like daughter, the two of us are “have fork, will travel” food adventurers.

Rita (with cheesecake), Joel, and Nate

Rita (with cheesecake), Joel, and Nate

    There are currently three locations in the Austin and Cedar Park area. The one that Rita first discovered was at Arbor Walk. We don’t know if the one in Cedar Park is open yet but the website says February so we will be checking it out. And there is one more to the South in Austin on Guadalupe.

Austin – Arbor Walk Natural Grocers by Vitamin Cottage
10515 N. Mopac Expressway, Bldg. L
Austin, TX 78759
Hours: M-S 8:56-8:04 Sun 8:56-6:06
Phone: (512) 231 9200
(P.S. It doesn’t hurt our feelings that DSW Shoes is there at Arbor Walk also)

Austin Natural Grocers by Vitamin Cottage
3901 Guadalupe St.
Austin, TX 78751-4522
Hours: M-Sat 8:56-8:04 Sun 8:56-6:06
Phone: (512) 323-5100

Cedar Park – Opening February 2011! Natural Grocers by Vitamin Cottage
1335 Whitestone Blvd Bldg G-17
Cedar Park, TX 80104
(Half Price Books, another of our favorites, is in the same shopping center)

Gretchen (Mom) and Rita

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