Paleo Wrap Review

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Ahhh…Paleo.

We do not have a good relationship. If we’re talking the meat and vegetables, fruits and seeds kind of Paleo diet, I have no problem with it. But when we start baking things out of coconut flour and almond meal, it all starts going down hill for me.

I’m still learning and experimenting, so I won’t poo-poo the Paleo diet completely, but if you thought going gluten-free was challenging, you’re in for a real treat (enter sarcastic tone here).

So on we go.

Disliking this Paleo-ish adventure I’m on doesn’t stop me from experimenting and trying new things. I ran across these Paleo Wraps (Paleo Inc.) on Amazon a couple of weeks ago and thought, “what the heck, I’ll give them a try.”

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They are $10.99 for 7 wraps. That comes out to $1.57 a wrap. If you have a large family ( I do not) of let’s say 2 adults and 4 children, that means you’re going to spend a total of $18.84 for each of you to have 2 wraps. Which of course you would have two or more each if you were making spring rolls or tacos, or that type of meal. I find $19.00 for a family of 6 to have two wraps each, steep. Add the inside ingredients and side dishes and that’s a pretty expensive meal for the average family.

Upon opening them, I was a little shocked to see their lack of moisture and pliability.

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They’re extremely thin and kind of remind me of spring roll wraps but not as dry and you don’t have to re-hydrate them. But similar in texture and feel. They smell strongly of coconut which was of no surprise because the ingredients are coconut meat, coconut water, and coconut oil.

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Very thin.

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The first taste test revealed a sweet and strong coconut flavor. Again, I wasn’t really surprised considering the only ingredients are derived from coconut.

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There aren’t any directions on heating the wrap on the back of the bag, just a recipe for a ground beef breakfast wrap where the wrap is not heated or toasted. I was curious to see if it would become more pliable and desirable looking if I browned it in a pan like a regular flour tortilla.

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The good news is that the wraps do brown. The bad news is that they become crisp very quickly. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing either. When I tasted the wrap it was crunchy and I immediately thought it would be quite tasty with some dairy free butter melted on top and cinnamon sugar.

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For a sandwich wrap though…I would have to start over. With the flame on 4 I very quickly, maybe for 3-4 seconds browned the first side.

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Then flipped, and browned for only a couple of seconds.

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I removed the Paleo Wrap from the pan and spread olive oil mayo and spicy brown mustard over it.

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Then added lettuce, avocado, red onion, home roasted turkey breast, tomato, and bread and butter pickles.

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The butter pickles are Bubbie’s brand. My absolute favorite. I ate almost a third of the jar while taking photos. My ankles will not be pleased with the salt this evening.

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Once I rolled up the Paleo Wrap, I could pretty much tell it wasn’t going to turn out like I had hoped. Just a bit too stiff. When picked up to take a bite, the wrap doesn’t form around the inside ingredients so has to be held tightly in order to keep things inside.

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But still on the somewhat tasty side. Which I think is probably based on 75% of me just wanting something that resembled a real wrap and 25% of really being “tasty”. The ingredients inside the wrap masked the sweet coconut flavor pretty well, which was surprising.

Had I not toasted it, it may have held together a bit better but definitely would have been less appetizing looking and tasting. Toasting it brought some of the oil to the surface which made it seem more like a food item. Without being toasted, my opinion is that the texture and color just falls too far over into the non-food, unappealing category. Kind of like blue jello or that hideous colored ketchup if you know what I mean. It’s still may be ketchup and jello, but something in your brain when it sees that it’s blue is telling you, “don’t eat that!”.

The wrap below is straight out of the package. It does roll, but has to be held together to stay in that form. It’s also possible that if you were to fill it with chopped, smaller items, even if the wrap was toasted, it may stay together a bit easier.

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So here’s my overall vote:

Appearance:

3 out of 5. It doesn’t look like food, but neither do spring roll wraps so I’ll give them a break in this category.

Texture: 

Uncooked I will give it a 1 out of 5. I liked that it softened from the ingredients inside, but didn’t become soggy.

 Toasted I will give it a 3 out of 5.

Taste: 

I will give it a 4 out of 5. I think taco ingredients would completely mask the coconut flavor and that the texture of the wrap (very lightly toasted) would work nicely. The only ingredients are coconut, so it is sweet and tastes like coconut. Toasted, even to the crisp point, I think it would be very tasty with some fruit sauce and whipped coconut cream, or like I mentioned above, melted dairy free butter and cinnamon sugar.

Product Review ~ Grain Free Cookie Dough & Pasta

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A few weeks ago I was milling around on Pinterest and out of the gazillion things I looked at, I just happened to stumble upon Capello’s Paleo Pasta and Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough.  I could not believe I had never heard of them. They didn’t pay me, or ask me to do this review so rest assured, nothing is going to sway my opinion.

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Now of course, just stumbling on a grain free, fresh pasta that didn’t involve a vegetable and something I had to create myself, made me do a happy dance. And cookie dough for the husband too?

I’m sold.

So I told my husband all about it and the second he heard chocolate chip cookie dough he said, “order it”! And that was even despite the price…which I’m going to tell you right up front, is going to make some of you gasp. Unless you live in an area where you can find it in your local store and then you can probably just purchase one item at a time and not have to pay shipping.

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But before we get into the financial nitty-gritty, let me just give you a little of the what’s what on their products. They sell fresh Paleo pasta and cookie dough – fettucine, gnocchi, lasagna noodles, and chocolate chip cookie dough. They ship it straight to your house (for a fee of course) in a neat ice box container to keep everything fresh and safe. They ship all orders on Mondays only, so keep that in mind.

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They also enclose a UPS return label so you can get the box back to them.

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All of their products are gluten-free, dairy free, grain free, soy free and peanut free, and the cookie dough is all that and vegan. The egg free among us will be happy to hear that.

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Here’s the rough part.

The cookie dough is $43.05 for three 12 oz. rolls. Ouch…I know. That’s $14.35 a roll (not including shipping) and works out to about $1.30 a cookie. The package says it makes 13 cookies, but I’ve used two rolls and with each roll I was able to get 11.

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The Husband Cookie Dough Vote:

C- for Texture

C for Taste/Flavor

 His opinion was that he doesn’t care for the uneven flavors. He said every few bites he bit into a chunk of salt similar to the size of sea salt, the almond flavor is overwhelming, and he didn’t care for the texture. His words were, “they aren’t even close to being as good as yours”.  Mine aren’t grain free.

My Cookie Dough Vote:

 A+ for Convenience

B- for Texture

C- for Taste/Flavor when they’re warm

B for Taste/Flavor when they’re completely cooled

I do agree with Tony’s salt comment. I ate two leftover cookies last night and had several pieces of salt. But, I don’t know. Maybe I’m just happy to have a cookie that I didn’t have to figure out how to make from scratch. I would probably continue to purchase them if they weren’t so crazy expensive just for the simple fact that I find them to be tasty enough and so incredibly easy. But the price for me…difficult to justify.

I made the fettuccine noodles with sautéed veggies for us for lunch. This is the packaging. They can be refrigerated or frozen upon arrival and of course, need to be thawed in the fridge before cooking.

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The fettuccine noodles are $44.00 for four 9 oz. packages. That works out to $11.00 per package…or about $1.22 an ounce (again, without shipping added). The package says they only need to cook for 45 seconds and cooking time begins the second they hit the water.

At 45 seconds, they were VERY aldente. Kind of crisp in the middle in fact, and had a bit of a moosh along with the crunch. So rather than waste $11.00 worth of pasta, we slipped them back in the hot water and let them cook for about 5 minutes tasting along the way to make sure they weren’t getting overcooked. They softened a bit and the “moosh” was no longer evident. But still more aldente than I think a good pasta should be. There’s that fine balance, and we just couldn’t find it.

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We topped it with sautéed vegetables and leftover crumbled bacon from breakfast. Then, finished with the remainder of the fantastic goat’s milk mozzarella I told you about and sliced garlic french bread I toasted under the broiler.

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The Husband Pasta Vote:

B for Texture

B for Taste/Flavor

He said the 45 second cooking time was, “bogus” and that he really didn’t mind the texture, taste, or flavor. He feels this wasn’t a fair representation for some reason, and would really like to try it with spaghetti to see what it’s like. And we have 3 packages left (or $33 worth), so that won’t be a problem.

My Pasta Vote:

D- for Texture

C for Taste/Flavor

I think the texture was hard to get past. Maybe had the noodles been just a bit thinner? But the thickness combined with the somewhat uncooked texture, really threw me and I didn’t finish my meal. I was happy that they didn’t have an overwhelming flavor of almond flour, but disappointed that they didn’t really have any flavor at all.

When we try the pasta with spaghetti sauce, I’ll do another review and let you know. Sometimes, spaghetti sauce just makes everything better!

Out With The Old, In With The New!

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Vegetable Pakora Lunch

Quite yummy but maybe being a bit overshadowed by those gorgeous organic strawberries…

I am quickly learning that until our house sells, I pretty much cannot commit to a whole heck of a lot. I kind of just have to wake up and greet the day and whatever happens, happens. But that doesn’t stop me from trying to make plans. You would think I would learn. Ha!

Last night I had visions of a glorious day in the kitchen baking and frosting sugar cookies and trying to see if I could come up with a savory pumpkin boule. I convinced myself, and then posted it on Facebook (pretty much jinxing myself) that I was going to get up, take the dogs on a beautiful walk and then spend the entire day in the kitchen doing basically whatever I pleased.

I managed the walk, which was nice. But never got around to the baking. This morning my husband “parted ways” with our realtor. There were a lot of valid reasons but the icing on the cake was that we had an open house two days in a row last weekend and they listed our house in the local newspaper at the wrong price. Yep. And of course the deadline was Friday so it couldn’t be changed or cancelled. So we spent the only two days my husband was home carting animals back and forth and waiting for the open houses to be over. And guess how many people showed up? Zilch. Zero. Nada. No big surprise since the price was wrong and we weren’t even catering to people in our price range. It was quite frustrating and actually made me want to just sit in a heap and cry…or strangle someone. I did neither. We sucked it up and dealt with our weekend like big people. But it wasn’t easy.

So! Out with the old and in with the new! We hired a new Realtor who started working for us immediately. The house will be back on the market on Friday.

I meet with our new Realtor tomorrow so he can take pictures of the house and I can fill out all of the necessary paperwork. Instead of sugar cookies and beautiful pumpkin bread dancing through my head, I had to don work gloves and clean the house and mow the lawn. Oh well, such is life. My expanding hips probably didn’t need sugar cookies and bread anyway…

I did manage to make myself some lunch. I don’t typically buy pre-packaged foods… but have you been down the frozen isles in Trader Joe’s?  H-O-L-Y   C-O-W…how I envy those of you who can eat whatever you please. It’s probably a good thing that I can’t eat 98% of what they sell or I would be gorging myself on perogi, lasagna, cheese tamales, baby frozen quiche, death by chocolate cake, cheese cake, and all kinds of frozen little delights I’ve never even heard of. I did happen to run across one thing I could try. Vegetable Pakoras. They are basically vegetable fritters but with an Indian kick. They are quite yummy and made for a very nice and quick lunch!

They are vegan and as far as I could tell from the ingredient list, gluten-free. However, they are processed in a plant with other gluten items. So if you are that sensitive…I would steer clear. So far I feel fine, but I will be sure to let you know in the morning if I wake up stiff and headachey.

I was also able to finally find real buffalo mozzarella at Trader Joe’s! I was so thrilled I was sad that I was shopping by myself and there was no one there to jump up and down with me. I think I actually gasped out loud when I saw it tucked in among the goat cheese containers. However, I did refrain from jumping up and down. I surprised my husband with a pepperoni pizza lunch the first day he was back in town.

The buffalo milk didn’t bother my stomach at all, tasted wonderful, and melted like regular mozzarella cheese. It was heavenly.

Well, as I sit here eating a rather dull dinner and dreaming of pizza (a plate of black re-fried beans with Daiya cheese and Tabasco) …I still have bathrooms to clean and it’s already 7:45. I wanted to check in with you all and make sure you knew I hadn’t forgotten about you.

Hope all is well in your neck of the woods! ~ April

April’s Gone Crackers

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Not really, I’m still “normal”, I haven’t lost my mind. Yet.

These crackers? These crackers have me jumping for joy. They have me thinking about all of the yummy food combinations you can eat on a cracker that I haven’t been able to eat in years.

To Die For

So yesterday on just an average grocery shopping trip I ran across these amazing little table crackers from Schar. I thought…”Hmm…table crackers. Do I dare?”

Typically gluten-free crackers are either very dense and kind of pasty chalky or very crunchy, like in the form of those round rice crackers you see. Those rice crackers kind of resemble “diet” crackers. They taste like it too. Or how about that certain brand that looks like something you should feed your horse and is likely to send you to the dentist needing a crown and at the very minimum gives you heart burn for a good five hours? We eat them anyway, because really, sometimes life just calls for crackers and how many choices do those of us with multiple food allergies really have?

So after I scanned the ingredients I took a leap and thought, “Why not?”. If they end up tasting like any other gluten-free cracker so what.

Well, let me tell you something…they are amazingly delicious. Hands down the absolute best gluten-free cracker that I have ever had that does not taste GF DF and has perfect texture.

They are kind of a half way point between the texture and taste of a Saltine cracker and those Club crackers we’ve all served at parties. Perfect texture, lovely “normal” cracker flavor. Perfect. Perfect. Perfect.

So delicious in fact, that I cannot stop thinking about them. I opened them immediately after loading my groceries in the car. Ate 6 of them on the way home and made tons of “I’ve died and gone to Heaven” noises that quickly irritated my son who was along for some visiting time.

Then, I ate another one while putting groceries away. Then, I ate three more at 10:00 PM before bed with that amazing Parlick Fell cheese that I’ve told you about. And this morning, it was all I could do not to eat them for breakfast with peanut butter slathered all over them. So, I settled for an almond milk yogurt for my breakfast and then counted down the hours until I could make lunch with my new-found crackers at a reasonable lunch time.

I hope you enjoy them as much as I do. Or maybe not, because then that just leaves more for me!

Hodgson Mill Gluten Free Pizza Crust Mix

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I’m not above making something from a box as long as it’s healthy and isn’t loaded with crazy stuff that I cannot pronounce. We tried a new pizza crust mix the other night. Another find from an obscure part of the grocery store. It’s made with brown rice flour, potato starch, tapioca starch, and yellow corn meal. If you’re in a pinch and don’t feel like whipping up a batch of pizza dough from scratch, this is quite good. Just add eggs, water, and olive oil. It had the crispy edges I love and was soft (not too soft) and fluffy in the middle.

*Makes two 12 inch pizzas.

Got 2 thumbs up from the hubs and me. I think it would also make a nice cracker if it was rolled very thin, brushed with olive oil, and sprinkled with kosher salt and herbs. Break it into rustic pieces…yummy.

Maple Grove Farms Gluten Free Pancake & Waffle Mix

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I found a new gluten-free product while wandering around my local grocery store (Fred Meyer) the other day. Well, it’s new to me anyway. I was with my mom and we’ve decided that we like to grocery shop together because for whatever reason, when we’re together, we take more time to look through each aisle and always find things we haven’t come across while shopping by ourselves.

I found this mix not in the gluten-free section, but in the tiny sugar-free/diabetic section. Not sure why it happens to be there because there’s sugar in the mix…but that’s where it lives, alongside Maple Grove’s gluten-free brownie and cake mixes that I also didn’t know existed.

I used the mix to make pancakes this morning. They have a very nice consistency and cook up fluffy, not flat and dense, like a lot of other pancake and waffle mixes I’ve tried. I used almond milk in place of the 1 1/3 cups milk the recipe asked for. They are very flavorful and remind me a little of the way yellow cake tastes. They taste sweet but are relatively low in sugar with only 45 grams in the entire box (15 four-inch pancakes).

They are made with long grain wild rice, soy flour, leavening, natural flavor (which I’m assuming is probably vanilla since it tastes like yellow cake mix) a little cornstarch and xanthan gum. It doesn’t have a gazillion additives, which is nice.

While I prefer a less sweet pancake mix, I still enjoyed these and the mix will be great to have available in the camping trailer this summer.

Gluten Free Pantry’s French Bread

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Bread is obviously the number one thing that people who have to go gluten-free miss the most. Or maybe I should say real bread, that really tastes like bread. Since I went gluten-free I’ve only found three breads that I like. Udi’s breads and bagels, a recipe that I tweaked a little from a gluten-free cookbook, and Gluten Free Pantry’s french bread mix.

The first time I tried Gluten Free Pantry’s mix, I did not like it at all! But because gluten-free baking can be kind of persnickety, I decided to give it another try with my own flair. I’ve made it numerous times with all kinds of additions since then and have loved it every time. This is also the bread that I use to make gluten-free croutons and gluten-free bread crumbs (minus the herbs).

A french bread pan is a must. They aren’t expensive, just look around in your local kitchen stores. If you’ve never made gluten-free bread it’s important to know that it doesn’t react like regular bread dough. Most gluten-free bread mixes come out more like a batter that needs to be spread. If you place it onto a baking sheet or stone, it will spread out and end up too thin and a little weird. But don’t fret, it’s incredibly easy. Much easier than making “real” bread.

Italian French Bread

1 Package Gluten Free Pantry French Bread and Pizza Dough Mix

Olive Oil

Eggs

Almond Milk

Honey

Cider Vinegar

Sea Salt

1 Heaping Tablespoon Dried Oregano

1 Heaping Tablespoon Dried Basil

1 Heaping Tablespoon Garlic, diced

Mix the bread dough according to the directions except substitute the water with almond milk, use olive oil instead of regular oil, use sea salt instead of regular salt, and add the oregano, basil, and garlic and mix on medium-high for 4 minutes instead of the suggested 2 minutes.

Line the french bread pan with parchment. You probably don’t have to but I hate washing bread pans and baking sheets so I always line them with parchment. (I also think that cookies and breads bake more evenly when using parchment.)

Dollop the batter as evenly as you can on each side of the pan.

With a spoon, spread the batter and even it out into the shape of baguettes.

Place in a warm place (I used the warming drawer in my oven) to rise for about 40 minutes.

Whisk 1 egg in a small bowl. Brush over both baguettes and then slit each loaf down the middle with a very sharp knife.

Bake in a pre-heated 350 degree oven (375 if you’re using an electric oven) for a minimum of 40 minutes. Gluten-free bread isn’t necessarily done when tapped on and makes a hollow sound like regular bread. I always cook mine for the amount of time the recipe suggests plus 5-8 minutes longer to ensure that the bread isn’t too moist in the middle and is going to collapse when it cools.

If you can stand it, allow it to cool a little bit before slicing so the loaf doesn’t squish down. We can never make it that long. If you’re careful when you slice off a hot piece, it will be just fine. And really, there’s nothing better than fresh bread out of the oven, so don’t miss out!