Rice noodles pot from Kabuto – make a Samurai’s heart sing

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Well here we have pot noodles but better. Way better and posh even. The original gluten free vegetarian was very excited to try out a new pot noodle made with rice noodles he spied in the supermarket the other day in England. The words ‘gluten free’ were like a beacon.

“Vegetable Laksa – a rich rice noodle dish with coconut, chilli, peppers and sweetcorn”. It brings a smile to one’s lips because not only is it rather delicious but the instructions on the back are funny. The founder’s story is interesting too. Quite a quest he went on in order to make a pot noodle taste as good as a restaurant experience. Sword off to you sir.

This is what I was thinking:
Why is it that restaurant noodles taste healthy, fresh and authentic, while supermarket noodles come in Southern fried chicken and doner kebab flavours? And: how can you put something worth eating in a packet, then a box, then drive it to a shop, then sell it for as little as 10p?”

On the pot: “Beware Samurai, for your noodles will be hot… Failure to follow instructions will bring great shame to yourself and your family”

Shame the rice pot version is sadly lacking.

Slendier review – gluten free low calorie vegetable based pasta alternative

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I was excited to hear about Slendier, not because of the low calories but because it is not only a gluten free but a grain free pasta replacement – from recent reading about links between diet and health, I believe we should eat less grains, not just the ones commonly touted as gluten rich.

What is it? Here is the edited down official spiel:

“Slendier is Australia’s leading brand of ‘konjac pasta’. Konjac is an unusual vegetable that can grow up to 25cm in diameter and is a dietary staple throughout many Asian countries.

100g of Slendier pasta contains just 8 calories, as opposed to around 300 calories for the real thing. Slendier acts as an appetite suppressant as it is particularly high in fibre which helps delay digestion and keeps you feeling full and satisfied despite a lack of calories.

This pasta is organic, gluten and fat free [IMHO fat free is not a selling point unless you are preaching to out-dated weight loss education], it takes one minute to prepare and when added to sauce tastes just as good as the ‘real thing’ [Marta: Oh no, it doesn’t!].

Slendier pasta launched in January 2014 on Ocado.com and some health stores around the UK. It costs £2.49 per pack and comes in five different formats – angel hair, fettuccine, rice style, spaghetti and noodles.“

Verdict

I cannot comprehend why you would replace rice with it but then weight loss is not an issue for me. I did try the spaghetti version. I was surprised at how very easy it was to prepare.

slendier-instructions

The consistency was a little plastic like and it did feel like I was having a frankenfood. It didn’t feel like I was eating pasta but packaging materials. Wasn’t sure if I was eating melted sieve. I used some left over home made pasta sauce to give it the best opportunity to win me over.

I would not eat it for pleasure and I do like my food to be a pleasure but I can see that for someone wanting to lose weight such a pasta replacement with hardly any calories could be a good option. It didn’t look like that much so I ate the whole lot and felt satiated as if I had eaten a big rock. I then read it was a two person portion – oops! It didn’t result in any other physical problems for me so that was good.

slendier-with-pasta-sauce

Personally I would not use it as gluten free option as gluten free pastas are far superior to this taste and texture wise, but then they are often made including corn and some people have bodies that treat corn like gluten so it could be useful for them but they could also make zoodles. These are zucchini/courgette noodles made by spiralising a courgette – beautiful lightly cooked in butter and very healthy.

However Slendier is much quicker and easier to prepare so a better convenience option. On balance it is going to be healthier than most gluten free pastas on the market but it would fall into the early days of gluten free bread for me i.e. if it doesn’t taste great and is a poor second I just don’t go there and focus on eating food that makes me happy all round. I just wish the experience on the palate was better.

See the Slendier UK website for further information.

Udis gluten free snacks arrive in the UK

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Udis have launched a range of gluten free snack food which is my polite way of saying junk food. I was hoping it would be food that would work for meals and be healthier. I had to challenge them on the ‘choosing gluten free as a healthy option’ selling point as soon as I read the very long list of ingredients including chemicals aplenty.

However if none of that bothers you and you have become gluten free coming from a diet which previously included Pop Tarts, Pringles and being on first name terms with the local patisserie, which you’d like to continue, then do read on.

I am going to confess their chocolate chip and toffee flavoured muffins were gorgeous and it was nice to have such a treat that was not over sweet as many gluten free items turn out to be. Probably the best gluten free muffin I have ever had that was not home baked.

The bagels were filling indeed  – this is one of their selling points that their foods satiate you somewhat. They did not have enough taste though and I think it would have been better to make them plain rather than try to be a sweet cinnamon affair so you could also have them for lunch. They were cinnamon and raisin but you wouldn’t particular know it – I had hoped they’d be reminiscent of tea cakes or raisin toast once smeared with lovely butter. Sadly not. I have just checked out their full product range and they do have plain bagels too. I was heartened they had more health friendly starches at least in the form of ‘Tapioca Starch, Rice Flour and Potato Starch’. We enjoyed half a bagel each for breakfast. I liked mine with some hazelnut butter and chopped banana.

udis-gluten-free-bagel

Andrew tried the very Pringle like Jalapeno Cheddar Ancient Grain Crisps which he found were coated in a white powder that just tasted overly processed for his liking – too strong a flavor and too artificial.

It took many weeks for anyone in our household to summon up the courage to go near the Pop Tart like toaster pastries . In the end I conceded on a day of many hours working when I was starving hungry and there was nothing else I could have in a hurry. The strawberry are tastier than the apple ones in my opinion. The amount of sugar in them does frighten me at over 20%. They turn into a goo in your mouth and cement themselves into your gums which is a big downside.

I try to eat healthily so generally avoid sugar and grains. It was interesting to me that after a few days having an Udi snack day after day that I found myself, the first time for many many years, falling into a dark pit of depression. I have read poor diet can affect one’s mood so do wonder if I should say no to trialing the types of foods I would usually avoid in search of good health. It seems the cleaner you eat the more affected you are when you go backwards returning to junk food and my body has always been pretty sensitive. I was fine with peanuts once upon a time (only cashews made me violently ill in last couple of decades) but now since not having peanuts for a long time when I did have some peanut butter because my hazelnut butter had run out, my tongue and mouth started to go super tingly, and I started to feel very ill. Perhaps it is better to just keep eating everything you can unless you are battling chronic illness :-).

In summary great muffins and pretty good bagels which get a gold star for using the healthiest flours.

See the whole Udi’s gluten free range available in the UK.

Review of new Frank Snack Bars which are gluten free, nut free and dairy free

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frank-bars-4

I tried out some new gluten free, nut free and dairy free snack bars the other day. First one to try out was the oat and chocolate when I was feeling particularly hungry but didn’t want to make lunch just yet. So – franken food or nice Frank food?

I was pleased to see they use EnergySmart for the sweetener as I had heard of that just recently and wanted to try it. The first thing I noticed was the dense texture. I am trying to think what it reminds me of. The chocolate was not like chocolate so not bothered about that – disappointed in fact as a big lover of chocolate (70% Lindt is my chocolate of choice as without soy lecithin). It had an overly malty flavour and after taste I was not too keen on. Alas this first encounter was tasting like franken food. It was not so sweet that you could keep on eating them like biscuits but it did satiate me well initially. I have remembered what the texture reminds me of – it is the chewiness of those Fudge bars or Curly Wurlys covered in chocolate that I had as a kid. Sadly 10 minutes later I was still starving and had to go make some lunch.

Blueberry and chocolate. I like this one better taste wise. There is something artificial tasting about it still. May be it is that EnergySmart stuff. Still not close enough to chocolate to bother with in my book. Reminds me of those dense Eastern European cookies called ‘pierniki’ so being of Polish origin that is working for me more.

frank-bar-open-half-eaten

Double chocolate tastes better surprisingly but Strawberry and chocolate, the last one I tried, is my clear clear favourite or I am getting used to the taste as I go along. My mum was here and she really liked it but to caveat this we call her ‘The hoover’ for a reason.

Ingredients of the Strawberry and Chocolate Frank Bar:  FRUIT 46.6% (Dried Dates 33.9%, Dried Plums 12.7%, Freeze Dried Strawberry 0.8%), Fruit Juice Concentrates (Concentrated Apple, Grape, Pear and Strawberry Juices, Rice Starch), Gluten Free Oats 10.2%, Fat Reduced Cocoa Powder, Organic Raw Probiotic Chocolate 7.4% (Cocoa Mass 47%, Coconut Blossom Sugar, Coconut Cream, Cocoa Butter 4.3%, Ground Vanilla Pods, Bacillus Coagulans GB1-30 6086 0.45%), Pea Protein, Pea Fibre, Natural Strawberry Flavour.

A box of 20 is far too many to purchase as I personally only have these type things when off on long journeys and not convinced I will find food I can eat along the way. Ideally would have liked more nuts in them to give me some fat for energy instead of gluten free oats, but that would be no good for nut allergy sufferers. As the bars didn’t stave off hunger I’m not sure about the merits of being so carb based.

They are a good attempt at a healthier snack but I find the Nakd Pecan Pie Bar filling for much much longer so would still go for one of those. I’m not keen on the gluten free oats (as I try to avoid all forms of grains since reading more about food and the link to health) or such a long long list of ingredients whether they are natural or not. If I was concocting them personally I’d shrink the ingredients list by leaving out the faux chocolate coating. If I had loved them I would get over the oats thing and add them to my treat food or emergency food list.

They may work for you though, particularly if you cannot eat nuts or dairy and want a quick snack while on the go. I am harder to please than most people when it comes to food and my benchmark for what is healthy food is a lot higher too. Check out http://www.thefrankfoodcompany.com/product-category/frank-snack-bars/ to buy, see a list of stockist or for more information.

What else to do with Mrs Crimbles sage and onion stuffing mix

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Mrs Crimbles is our favourite stuffing mix by a country mile so when Sainsburys stopped stocking it we made a special order of 5 packets from our local health food store as we did not want to lose not only the lovely stuffing to go with our delicious roast dinners but also because I follow my mum’s tip to mix it with gluten free breadcrumbs (or sometimes on its own) to bread / coat tenderised free range turkey breasts before frying on a mix of oil and butter. Not for the vegetarians but delicious. I have added this to the tips for cooks page.