Thursday, April 30, 2009

gluten-free finds: April

As many of you know, I have been busy with personal matters. However, I still managed to have had another interesting month investigating gluten-free foods.

Matt’s Munchies

My primary gluten-free find this month has been from Chef Roberts all Natural Snacks. Chef Roberts found me at my Food Buzz Site where I also post food images and links to this blog. He wrote and offered me samples of his gluten-free Matt’s Munchies fruit leathers.

The fruit leathers are not only gluten-free, but all natural, organic, nut, dairy, soy and egg free. They are certified Vegan and Kosher. With less than 100 calories a serving (which is an entire package of 8, 4” by 1 ½” strips of the luscious fruit leathers) it makes for a generous, healthy, sweet and delicious snack.
Matt’s Munchies come in six flavors. Three are banana based fruit leathers, Choco-Nana, Apple Pie and Banana. And the three leathers that are mango fruit based are Ginger Zest, Mango, and Island Mango.


As I am a well-known chocoholic, I ripped into this package right away.
The aroma was luscious chocolate with gentle fruity undertones. The taste and texture was of a velvety chocolate pudding as it melted on my tongue…mmm…
(That is the reason that I was unable to picture the Choco-Nana package in my image…they ahh, well…disappeared rather quickly…lol…)

I could see this flavor being a favorite of children that have food allergies. And because these all natural fruit roll-ups are quite filling, would be a great after school snack to hold the children over until dinner. I will definitely be ordering many packages of this flavor.

Apple Pie

Although there are no apples in this munchie, the tastes is bright with a fresh cinnamon burst and succulent fruitiness. I had to look again at the ingredient list to see that it contained only banana purée and organic cinnamon. The flavor and aroma brought to mind autumn in my kitchen.


The banana had a pure, ripe fruit aroma and flavor, but seemed a bit sweeter than the others. I have to say this fruit leather was little too sweet for my tastes but it appealed very much to my little 4 year-old-neighbor. She ate the entire package as I visited with her mother.

Ginger Zest

This munchie has a ripe mango flavor with a kick of gingery spiciness. The zesty burst of ginger appealed more to the adults that tasted this healthy treat more than ir did to the children. I liked this munchie very much as I have a soft spot in my heart for crystallized ginger.

Island Mango

The mellow smoothness of a ripe, succulent mango with the crunch of toasted coconut made the first bite of these munchies a very pleasant surprise. As the golden mango puree melted on my tongue, the coconut aroma took me back to past Hawaiian vacations.
I will definitely be inviting these munchies to my beach blanket party this summer.


These munchies had a pure, fresh, delicious and gently sweet flavor and a heavenly fruity aroma. I love that this flavor (as well as the banana) has just ONE ingredient…! There is nothing so delightful to a perdon with allergies to food additves than a product with just one natural ingredient that tastes so delightful.

I totally agree with Chef Roberts' quote stamped on each package…
"A healthy all natural trip to Paradise”.

All the leathers that I sampled were sweet, delicious, and tasty and were a surprisingly filling snack. All the people that I approached to sample these luscious leathers had their taste preferences. However, most, including me rated Choco-Nana, Island Mango and Apple Pie in their top three choices.

I also enjoyed playing with these malleable munchies. I cut them, bent them, stacked them and twisted them into interesting shapes and plated them on my favorite silver Nambé dish.
They were a great deal of fun to plate.
Matt’s Munchies could easily feel at home at the poshest of dinner parties…served on silver, of course.

As I have stated, these would make a great afternoon snack. Because of their slim size, easily packable in a lunch bag, picnic basket and portable in a slim purse or briefcase.

To order these delicious gluten-free treats, go to Matt’s Munchies
or call (516) 319-3135.

For overall taste, texture, flavor and fun, as well as puity of ingredients, I give Matt’s Munchies 5 (out of 5) gluten-free symbols.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

In loving memory of a loved one I lost today...bonjour mon ami.
I will be away for a while from my blog to care for my family and myself...

I am so sorry for my delay in my gluten-free posts.
Merci mille fois in advance for your understanding...

Friday, April 17, 2009

gluten-free news…Valencia orange cake

On the 5th of May, Starbucks will be nationally launching the Gluten-Free Orange Valencia Cake with Almonds. It was announced that the Orange Valencia Cake is prepared with only seven ingredients: eggs, Valencia orange pulp, almonds, sugar, orange peel, gluten-free baking powder, and orange oil.

Valencia Oranges - Marché rue Cler

This moist citrus cake topped with crunchy almonds is reported to deliver a good percentage of your daily dose of vitamin C. The Starbucks spokespersons state that the cakes will come individually packaged to prevent cross contamination. For more information, go to Starbucks blog.

my dear friend, Yoko at Starbucks, rue Montorgueil, Paris

I have to honestly say, that I have not always been a huge fan of Starbucks. But I do remember when I had a very high pressure architecture job and I did occasionally need to get my caffeine fix from their lovely café across the street from my office. A gluten-free sweet as this new Valencia orange cake, would have been a very welcome treat to go with my double-espresso from time-to-time.

I am looking forward to having a taste of this new product from Starbucks. If it is as tasty as they promise, I will include it in my taste test in my monthly Gluten-Free Food Review in May.

But please stay tuned for my end of the month review of the Gluten-Free foods that I have taste-tested out in April. My dear sister has been most helpful in scouring markets for the tastiest gluten-free foods available for me to feature here on my blog.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

early easter greetings…

Lately, there have been many things in my life that has been taking me away from my regular blogging schedule. For this, I apologize to all my readers.
I will be taking a short break to give my attention to details in my life that need attention for the time being.

Today I wanted to take the time to send early Easter and Passover greeting to all my new readers and those that have long supported this blog from day one. I appreciate all your views and more so all your comments. Those comments keep me going.

Feasting on…gluten free pixels will return very shortly with new posts on eating delicious meals from the local bounty of spring and fresh news from the foodie world.

Many joyous springtime holiday wishes to you all…!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

princess pea salad…

I must be like the princess that felt the pea though seven mattresses…sensitive and sweet.

In my last post, I promised that I would share my recipe for spring-green pea salad. I also wanted to share a few tips I have picked up over the years about choosing peas when you purchase them at you local market or mega-mart and how to store them for your edible longevity when you get yor tasty delights back home.

When I purchase fresh peas, I look for ones whose pods are firm, velvety and smooth. Their color should be a lively medium green. Those whose green color is especially light or dark, or those that are yellow, whitish or are speckled with gray, should be avoided.

Also, do not choose pods that are puffy, water soaked or have mildew residue. The pods should contain peas of sufficient number and size that there is not much empty room in the pod.

You can tell this by gently shaking the pod and noticing whether there is a slight rattling sound. All varieties of fresh peas should be displayed in a refrigerated case since heat will hasten the conversion of their sugar content into starch.

Unlike the rounded pods of garden or snap peas, the pods of snow peas are flat. You should be able to see the shape of the peas through the non-opaque shiny pod. I choose smaller ones as they tend to be sweeter.

To test the quality of snap peas, snap one open and see whether it is crisp. They should be bright green in color, firm and plump.

Garden peas are generally available from spring through the beginning of winter. Snow peas can usually be found throughout the year in Asian markets and from spring through the beginning of winter in supermarkets. Snap peas are more limited in their availability. They are generally available from late spring through early summer.

If you will not be using fresh peas on the day of purchase, which is the best way to enjoy them, you should refrigerate them as quickly as possible in order to preserve their sugar content, preventing it from turning into starch. The unwashed, unshelled peas stored in the refrigerator in a bag or unsealed container will keep for several days. Fresh peas can also be blanched for one or two minutes and then frozen.

princess pea salad


organic pea shoots, a hand full or more depending on the size of your bowl or your appetite (I purchased my fresh pea shoots at a local market, but I have seen nice shoots at Trader Joe’s.)

about a dozen fresh snap peas shelled (reserve the shells )

six or more fresh snap peas, strings removed and cut into about fourths, width wise

six or more snow peas, strings removed and cut into about fourths, length-wise

a sprinkling of coarse salt and fresh and coarsely ground black, red, white, pink and green peppercorns to taste (This adds a fresh salty spiciness and a different textural crunch.)

your favorite salad dressing (I used aged Balsamic Vinegar, reduced to a syrupy consistency, but use what you love very sparingly.)


This salad works better as individual servings as the pea shoots are so delicate.

Fill individual bowls with pea shoots to cover the bottom of the bowl.

Shell the fresh snap peas and reserve the fresh peas.

Chiffonade the shells from the snap peas you have shelled very finely.

Cut the remaining snap and snow peas into bite size pieces.

Add all the chopped and chiffonade pea pods and to the salad and top with the delicate and sweet shelled peas.

Dress VERY lightly with your favorite dressing.
I used aged Balsamic glaze drizzled lightly over these fresh peas and greens.

This salad sounds as simple as it is, but the varying degrees of crunch and textures come from the way the different peas shelled and cut and place atop the pea shoots come together in your mouth...mmm...
that taste of spring that we have been waiting for all this long einter.

I love that this salad, although all the components come from peas, it has layers of textures and sweet flavors, along with the crunch from the sea salt and ground pepper and the sweet-sour zest of the aged reduced Balsamico.

I have made this as a side-salad and also served it as a complete meal adding some of my favorite proteins (seared tuna or chicken breast).
Either way you try it, this salad is all that I said that it was in my previous post.
It embodies all that you would expect that Spring would be like in you mouth, crunchy, sweet, green, succulent and fresh...

Enjoy the spring sweetness...

Saturday, April 4, 2009

spring greens...peas…

I think that my all-time favorite vegetable is the pea. It is not just that green peas are bursting with nutrients. It is that they are always so accessible all year round and tasty addition to any meals. But during spring peas are at their tastiest.

I have just planted my own peas in trellised pots on my balcony. But that will be another post as I will let you know about their progress and growth.

Keeping with the theme of spring peas I thought that you would be interested in the nutritional value of this simple vegetable as well as a bit of history and fun-facts about the green pea.

Green peas are one of the important foods to include in your diet if you oftentimes feel fatigued and sluggish. That is because they provide nutrients that help support the energy-producing cells and systems of the body.

Peas are also a good source of iron, a mineral necessary for normal blood cell formation and function, whose deficiency results in anemia, fatigue, decreased immune function, and learning problems. In addition, green peas are a very good source of vitamin C, which protects many energy-producing cells and systems in the body from free radical damage.

The pea provides nutrients that are important for maintaining bone health. They are a very good source of vitamin K, some of which our bodies convert into K2, which activates osteocalcin, the major non-collagen protein in bone. Osteocalcin anchors calcium molecules inside of the bone. Therefore, without enough vitamin K2, osteocalcin levels are inadequate and bone mineralization is impaired.

Green peas also serve as a very good source of folic acid and a good source of vitamin B6. These two nutrients help to reduce the buildup of a metabolic byproduct called homocysteine, a dangerous molecule can obstruct collagen cross-linking, resulting in poor bone matrix and osteoporosis. One study showed that postmenopausal women who were not considered deficient in folic acid lowered their homocysteine levels simply by supplementing with folic acid by itself.

pea history

The modern-day garden pea originated from the field pea that was native to central Asia and Europe and has been consumed by man for thousands and thousands of years. In fact, peas are mentioned in the Bible and were highly prized by the ancient civilizations of Egypt, Greece and Rome.

Yet, it was not until the 16th century, when cultivation techniques created more tender varieties, that people began to consume peas in their fresh state as opposed to just eating dried peas. It seems that the Chinese, a culture that had consumed this legume as far back as 2000 BC, were the first ones to consume both the seeds and the pods as a vegetable.

The French king Louis XIV popularized peas in the 17th century by making them an item of high regard on the menus of parties held at his palace.
It has been suggested that snow peas were developed in Holland around the same time. Peas were introduced into United States soon after the colonists first settled in this country.
In the 19th century during the early developments of the study of genetics, peas played an important role. The monk and botanist, Gregor Mendel used peas in his plant-breeding experiments.

It was only recently, in the 1970s, that sugar snap peas were developed, the result of a cross between garden peas and snow peas. Today, the largest commercial producers of fresh peas are the United States, Great Britain, China, Hungary and India.
a fun food chronology of the pea

6000 B.C.
Swiss lake dwellers keep dried peas and apples in their houses built on stilts.

4000 B.C.The people of the Indus Valley (an area that lies between present day India and Pakistan ) raise green peas wheat and date palms on irrigated fields.

100 B.C.
The Chinese envoy Jang Qian returns from Ferghana ( present day Russia and Uzbekistan) and introduces peas, grapes, pomegranates and walnuts to China.

765 A.D.
European writings make the first mention of the crop rotation system. It describes a system in which spring plantings with more protein value like peas supplement the winter plantings.

The Cookbook :Mastery of the Kitchen (Küchenmeisterei) is published at Nuremberg and has a large section devoted to peas. This book will remain in print for 200 years.

Fresh green peas come into use in England to a limited extent. But dried peas are more commonly used as “pease porridge”.

When famine grips England, the people discover that peas taste good green as well as dried.

When the Mayflower arrives on November 11th with 100 Pilgrims, one of the provisions that the people survived on was dried peas.

Louis XIV of France had greenhouses at Versailles that were expected to provided him and his court with an unlimited number of peas all winter.

Green peas continue to create a sensation at the French court. It has been documented that many of the women at court decorated their hair with pea shoots to attract men. The ladies at court also ate several bowls of pea shoots before retiring as it was thought to boost their libidos.

Confederate President Jefferson Davis urged southerners to plant peas and beans instead of cotton and tobacco.

Austrian botanist Gregor Mendel began studying the genetics of garden peas.

I hope that you have enjoyed this bit of nutritional and fun historical facts about the pea.

In my next post I will share my favorite spring pea salad recipe that is not only healthy for you, but I think really delicious. And in every delicious morsel, this salad is exactly what you would expect what Spring would be like in you mouth, crunchy, sweet, green, succulent and fresh...

Stay tuned...!

Friday, April 3, 2009

healthy snacking part I…kale

In an effort to create healthy snacks from fresh vegetables that I am sure are free from additives and gluten products, I decided to try a series of making my own snacks from the vegetables that I find at my local markets as more and more vegetables come in season.
One of my first healthy efforts was kale…

The beautiful curly leaves of the kale plant provide an earthy flavor and more nutritional value for fewer calories than almost any other food around. Although it can be found in markets throughout the year, it is in season from the middle of winter through the beginning of spring when it has a sweeter taste.

Kale is a form of cabbage (Brassica oleracea), it is green in color, in which the central leaves do not form a head. It is considered to be closer to wild cabbage than most domesticated forms.

The original wild cabbage is native to the Mediterranean area seaside areas with sunny climates and salty air. This accounts for the thick, succulent waxy leaves and stalks that make this plant to hardy. It was domesticated 2500 years ago and became a staple vegetable in Eastern Europe because the plant tolerated cold climates.

The most important growing areas lie in central and northern Europe and North America Kale grows more rarely in tropical areas as it prefers cooler climates. Kale is the most robust cabbage type – indeed the hardiness of kale is unmatched by any other vegetable. Kale will also tolerate nearly all soils provided that drainage is satisfactory.

Kale is considered to be a highly nutritious vegetable with powerful antioxidant properties and is anti-inflammatory. Kale is also very high in beta carotene, vitamin K, vitamin C, lutein, zeaxanthin, and reasonably rich in calcium. Because of its high vitamin K content, patients taking anti-coagulants such as Coumadin are encouraged to avoid this food since it increases the vitamin K concentration in the blood, which is what the drugs are often attempting to lower. This effectively raises the effective dose of the drug.

Kale, as with Broccoli and other brassicas, contains sulforaphane, a chemical believed to have potent anti-cancer properties, expecially when cut in a chiffonade style or minced very fine.

Kale chips
(adapted from a recipe from Bon Appétit)

These light and crunchy kale chips that are a perfect “movie-night” snack.


12 large Tuscan (smoothe leaf) Kale or curly leaf Kale, rinsed, dried, cut lengthwise in half.
(I used locally grown organic curly Kale center ribs and stems removed.)

1 -2 tablespoons olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste.
(I used 1 tablespoon granulated garlic with parsley on half on my batch.)


Preheat oven to 250°F.

Toss kale with oil in large bowl.

Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Arrange leaves in single layer on 2 large baking sheets lined with parchment or Silpat mats.

Bake until crisp, about 30 minutes for flat leaves and up to 33 minutes for wrinkled leaves.

Transfer leaves to rack to cool.

As soon as cool, transfer to an airtight container.

Eat, enjoy and repeat.

to your health...!