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Dinner Made Easy with Veggie Noodles

Spiralizing vegetables is all the rage in the culinary world. So many diets are looking to noodles made out of vegetables as a way to eat gluten-free, cut calories and add more vegetables to a meal.

Basically, you take a dense vegetable like butternut squash, zucchini or potatoes and put it through a gadget called a spiralizer. The spiralizer will cut the vegetable into long noodles. They can be eaten raw, sautéed, parboiled or fried. There’s just one problem. I’ve tried a few spiralizers, and the results were not as successful as I expected. The noodles were flimsy, broken or oddly shaped.

When I saw the spiralized noodles from Veggie Noodle Co. at FRESH, I couldn’t wait to try them. It’s a great company out of Austin, and they do the spiralizing for you. The noodles are perfect, and the packaging comes with quick, easy recipes and cooking instructions. Plus, there is a variety of vegetables to choose from: butternut squash, sweet potato, zucchini and beet. I can’t even begin to imagine the mess that I would have made if I had tried to spiralize a beet!

Having all these options allows you to get creative with recipes. All of them can be made so quickly. It’s the perfect solution for weeknight dinners.

The butternut squash spirals can be sautéed for a few minutes and then tossed in pesto and olive oil. The sweet potato spirals are really delicious when fried. It’s a bit like sweet potato fries. The beet spirals are beautiful and can be sautéed, fried or boiled. Toss them with olive oil and a few drops of balsamic, and then top with some goat cheese crumbles for a nice pasta substitute.


Cool and Creamy Coconut-Milk Ice Cream

Cool and Creamy Coconut-Milk Ice CreamThere’s nothing better on a hot summer day than ice cream ­— cool, creamy, refreshing and delicious in any flavor you choose. However, there are those with dairy allergies who can’t enjoy this cold summer treat.

Twenty years ago when my nephew was born with milk allergies, there were no dairy alternatives. Now, there are so many dairy-free ice creams that everyone can enjoy. The flavor and texture are great, and there is little difference between traditional and dairy-free.

NadaMoo Coconut-Milk Ice Cream is one of our favorites. In 2004, the founders started making small batches of coconut-milk ice cream for their own dairy-free friends and family in Austin, Texas. It wasn’t long before other people found out how delicious it was, and strangers were calling them for pints of the ice cream. That’s how NadaMoo began.

For this company, including great, wholesome ingredients is just as important as the ice cream being dairy-free. Each batch is USDA-organic, non-GMO, vegan, gluten-free, kosher and fair-trade certified.

This multi-generational, family-owned business makes their products in the “heart of Texas.” Their family-oriented passion project has united dairy and dairy-free fans, joining a gap between non-dairy and delicious.

At FRESH, you can find four flavors: Lotta Mint Chip, Vanilla…Ahhh, Creamy Coconut and Gotta Do Chocolate. Give them a try! You won’t be able to taste the difference!

Among Friends Gluten-Free Cookie Mix

Among Friends Gluten-Free CookiesI receive a lot of questions about gluten-free products: which ones work, which ones are easy to use, which ones are worth buying and, most importantly, which ones taste good? Replacing flour in recipes and products is a challenge, and there are many that miss the mark.

If you’re trying to eat gluten-free or add more whole-grains to your diet, Among Friends Cookie Mix is one to try. These cookies are practically guilt-free with ingredients like oat flour, premium chocolate, ground flax seed, sea salt and organic cane sugar. They are verified Non-GMO, certified gluten-free, low in sugar and high in whole-grains.

The founders, Suzie Miller and Lizann Anderson, did not intend to make a gluten-free product, but rather baked goods that are dense with nutrition without sacrificing great taste. The last thing they wanted to do was create a “healthy cookie” that tasted like the cardboard it was packaged in.

Their gluten-free flavors include Molasses Ginger, Double Chocolate, and Chocolate Cranberry. Being an avid fan of all things chocolate, I bought the Double Chocolate.

They were easy to make with only 2 eggs and 4 tablespoons of butter that needed to be added. The package was small but made more cookies than I expected (depending on the size, more than 2 dozen). They baked in less than 10 minutes and the texture was crumbly, yet moist. Chocolate chunks filled the cookies and enhanced the double chocolate flavor. They were not too sweet, which makes them taste rich and satisfying.
I look forward to trying some of the other flavors and seeing what other products they create. Finding healthy baking mixes that also taste good is a challenge, but with the Among Friends brand, making cookies “from scratch” is easy and full of good ingredients.

Quest Bars & Chips

Quest Bars and ChipsI have to admit that when grabbing breakfast and snacks on the go, I usually don’t have the time or patience to make the best choices.

That’s why I love finding a product that eliminates the guesswork and, of course, tastes good, too.

Quest Protein Bars and Quest Protein Chips fit all those categories. They are low in fat, carbohydrates, sugar and calories. They also contain no gluten or soy, and they are high in protein.

The chips have 21 grams of protein and come in five flavors – Sea Salt, BBQ, Salt & Vinegar, Sour Cream & Onion, and Cheddar & Sour Cream. They are baked instead of fried and contain high-quality ingredients. These chips offer a guilt-free crunch and savory flavors that make snacking fun and healthy.

The Quest Bars come in 12 flavors, from S’mores to White Chocolate Raspberry. They may taste unhealthy but are full of ingredients that have a clean nutritional profile.

Sweetened with stevia, the bars contain only one gram of sugar and net five grams of carbohydrates. They are high in fiber, contain no gluten and have 20 grams of protein.

These bars not only serve as a snack or meal replacement but also as an ingredient in baked goods. The Quest researchers have created recipes using the bars as a low-carb substitute for sugar, gluten and chocolate. Visit Quest Nutrition to find recipes find recipes for things like blueberry-almond muffins, lemon-coconut pound cake and strawberry cheesecake cookies.

At Quest, it’s their promise to make the quest for clean and healthy eating a delicious and fun experience.

Family Central: Love at First Bite!

September is a big month for most families, as it starts a brand-new school year. A daily schedule is developed which includes set meal times, and we all know that growing kids require a lot of food. Back in the days of my school years, I recall always being hungry right after school and rummaging through our kitchen pantry. A select option of potato chips, Fruit Gushers and bananas were all that I could ever find, and that combination was only appealing for so long. I always begged my parents for more snacks, but their answer was always, “I am about to cook; find something in the pantry.” Oh, how I wish I could go back in the day to educate them of healthier snacks that could replace the unhealthy ones they made me eat.

As I was strolling through the aisles of FRESH, I noticed an aisle full of flavored crackers. My eye caught one particular brand, Back to Nature Spinach and Roasted Garlic Crackers. If I’m being honest, the “Spinach and Roasted Garlic” part was what mainly caught my attention, as I am a huge fan of both spinach and roasted garlic. The organic and gluten-free part was just an added bonus.

It was definitely love at first bite. The flavor was there, but it wasn’t overpowering. Did I also mention that these crackers are whole-grain crackers? I decided to pair the crackers with Lilly’s Roasted Red Pepper Hummus, and I can say that this was a good decision on my part. Lilly’s Hummus is also All-Natural, Gluten-Free, Vegan AND Organic!

What I love about both of these products is knowing that you are eating all-natural products. Both Back to Nature and Lilly’s Roasted Red Pepper Hummus take pride in providing non-artificial food to customers without losing that savory flavor.

This flavorful combination is guaranteed to be a hit with the family. Try different flavors of Lilly’s Hummus with these crackers, or try different flavors of crackers with the Red Pepper Hummus. The combination is endless, which will make it a fun snack for everyone!

Well and Good: The Crust of the Pie

If you have a gluten allergy, you know there’s nothing like the holiday season to remind you of everything you can’t have. Just thinking of everyone enjoying mom’s cherry and pumpkin pie is enough to send you over the edge!

You didn’t think we would ever let that happen did you? Here at FRESH, we have your back! Here are some great (pie) recipe substitution tips to save the holiday and your sanity too!

Most commercially available pie crusts are made from wheat flour. Here’s a recipe that’s just as good, without the gluten. It can easily be doubled if you need two crusts.

1 1/4 cups gluten-free flour blend, such as King Arthur or Bob’s Red Mill
1 Tbs sugar
1/2 tsp xanthan gum
1/2 tsp salt
6 Tbs cold butter
1 large egg
2 tsp lemon juice or vinegar

Lightly grease a 9-inch pie pan.

Whisk together the flour or flour blend, sugar, xanthan gum and salt.

Cut the cold butter into pats, then work the pats into the flour mixture till it’s crumbly, with some larger, pea-size chunks of butter remaining.

Whisk the egg and vinegar or lemon juice together till very foamy. Mix into the dry ingredients. Stir until the mixture holds together, adding 1 to 3 additional tablespoons cold water if necessary.

Shape into a ball and chill for an hour, or up to overnight.

Allow the dough to rest at room temperature for 10 to 15 minutes before rolling.

Roll out on a piece of plastic wrap, on a silicone rolling mat, or in a pie bag that’s been heavily sprinkled with gluten-free flour or flour blend. Invert the crust into the prepared pie pan.

Fill and bake as your pie recipe directs.

Nobody likes burnt pie! This recipe is particularly vulnerable to burning. Make sure to shield your pie with crust covers (or foil) to keep everyone coming back for seconds.

If you’re making a fruit pie, avoid a soggy crust by placing the pie on the bottom rack of the oven. If it’s custard you enjoy, pre-bake the crust and make sure it’s cooled before you fill it with all that creamy goodness.

Well and Good: Gluten-free at FRESH

Eating gluten-free is so much easier today.  A diverse selection of fine ready-made products from breads and pastries to soups and frozen entrees are available now on grocery shelves.  In these selections the gluten-containing ingredients such as wheat, barley and rye have been replaced with blends of safe substitute grains in proportions that mimic the great flavor and texture of the original items.

A great loaf of bread is the dream of most wheat-intolerant shoppers and fortunately a wide selection of gluten-free breads, both fresh frozen and ready to serve, are available at FRESH.  But sometimes the wonderful flavor of homemade is what we need!  A friend of FRESH shared this great French bread recipe with us and we pass it along to you:

French Bread
3/4 cup white rice flour
1 Tbs sugar
2/3 cup cornstarch
1 1/4 cups warm water (110° F)
2/3 cup tapioca flour
1 Tbs dry yeast granules
2 tsp potato flour
1 tsp dough enhancer or vinegar
2 1/2 tsp xanthan gum
2 egg whites
2 tsp egg replacer
1 1/2 Tbs vegetable oil
1 tsp salt
2 tsp unflavored gelatin
1/3 cup dry milk powder

Grease two 14” French loaf pans or one cookie sheet. Dust with cornmeal (if desired).

In the bowl of your heavy-duty mixer, place the rice flour, cornstarch, tapioca flour, potato flour, xanthan gum, egg replacer, salt, unflavored gelatin, and milk powder.

Place the sugar in the warm water and stir in the yeast.  Set aside to foam.

Add to the dry ingredients in the mixing bowl: the dough enhancer, egg whites, and vegetable oil.  When the foam on the yeast is about 1/2-inch, pour this into the dry mix. Beat on high for 3 minutes. Spoon into the prepared loaf pans or onto the prepared cookie sheet in two French bread loaf shapes.  Brush lightly with wet fingers to smooth the tops and then slash diagonally every few inches. Cover the loaves and let rise in a warm place until almost doubled (about 35 minutes for rapid-rise yeast; 1 hour for regular yeast).

Bake in a preheated 400° F oven for 15 minutes. Then turn oven to 350° F and bake 30 minutes more. Makes two 10-inch loaves.

Need help choosing from our largest gluten-free inventory in the East Texas area? Stop by the Pharmacy at FRESH and pick up our Gluten-Free Shopping Guide.

Well and Good: Alternative Pizzas

Pizza has become such an all-American favorite that it’s hard to imagine living without it. But for people who can’t eat wheat or dairy, because of illnesses or allergies, pizza is one of those foods on the no-fly zone.

But we have been expanding our selection of gluten-free and dairy-free pizzas. So if you, or a family member, have been avoiding this treat, here are some options to make it pizza night again. All are available in our frozen section:

Conte’s: Known for its gluten-free pastas, Conte’s also makes some delicious ready-to-bake pizzas, with a tender gluten-free crust made with rice flour. We like the margherita pizza _tomatoes, creamy mozzarella, roasted garlic and a dash of olive oil – because the whole family enjoys it. For more sophisticated tastes, there is a mushroom Florentine variety, with spinach and roasted garlic. (Note: these pizzas do contain real cheese, so may not be an option for the lactose intolerant or vegans.)

Amy’s: Is there anything Amy’s doesn’t do well? They have introduced a “cheese-only” version of their popular spinach vegan pizza – understanding that kids love pizza but aren’t always big fans of the green veggie. This one is gluten-free, dairy-free and vegan, with a nicely textured rice-flour crust, flavorful tomato sauce and a topping of soy-based “cheese.”  They produce our favorite gluten-free crust of the lot – nicely textured, with a bit of a whole-grain taste.

Tofurkey: If you like the Tofurkey brand of meat alternatives, you will love the fact that they’ve introduced vegan pizzas. Available varieties include pepperoni and “Italian sausage” with fire-roasted veggies – both with a really delicious vegan “cheese” that  actually melts. These do contain gluten, in the whole-wheat crust.

Nature’s Hilights Brown Rice Crust: Make your own gluten-free with this ready-to-bake crust – made with brown rice but no yeast, wheat or gluten. It bakes up crisp and light, with a mild flavor that will let your toppings stand out.

Well and Good: Wholesome Millet

On these cool, damp winter mornings, a warm whole-grain cereal is just the thing to keep you fueled up. For a change of pace, why not try some millet?

Now we often think of millet as bird food, but did you know that millet was the chief grain in China generations ago, before rice became so popular? It continues to be a great source of nourishment for people in Africa, China and Russia.

And millet is good for more than just the birds. Millet is packed with nutrients.  It is high in protein, fiber, iron, magnesium, potassium and silica, which helps keep our bones flexible through the aging process. It has anti-fungal properties for those who are dealing with yeast overgrowth, otherwise known as Candida. Finally, because of its mineral content, it helps the functioning of the kidneys and stomach.

It is gluten-free, so it can be enjoyed even by those avoiding other grains. And, it’s known to be soothing to the stomach, making it a perfect cereal for anyone suffering from morning sickness or anyone with a delicate stomach.

Millet can be used as a hot cereal either on its own or combined with buckwheat, amaranth or rice.  You can use it in soups as a way to add protein and it can be used as a wheat-free for substitute for couscous, as it has a similar consistency.

Millet is easy to prepare. You just rinse it before cooking, and use a ratio of one part millet to two parts liquid. You can also toast it prior to cooking, to give it a richer, nuttier flavor. To toast millet, place it in a pan over medium heat and lightly brown, shaking the pan as necessary, so as not to burn the grain.

Basic Millet

1 cup millet
2 cups water
few grains sea salt

Rinse millet and place in a pot with the water.

Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes.  More water can be added if you desire a softer consistency.

To serve, let your imagination and taste buds guide you.  For a breakfast cereal, add raisins and cinnamon for a sweeter flavor. For a side dish for lunch or dinner, try adding cooked carrots, onions, or parsnips.

Family Central: Going Gluten-Free

Celiac disease, gluten intolerance, gluten-free foods – only a few years ago, most people had probably never heard of most of those terms.

But today, more and more families are affected by gluten intolerance, a disorder marked by the inability to properly digest certain types of wheat and other grains. As many as 3 million Americans suffer from this lifelong illness – meaning that for them and their family members, just making dinner can be a complex exercise.

If you or someone in your family fall into this category, let us help: On Saturday, January 14, our pharmacy department will lead a workshop on going gluten-free.

We’ll load you up with practical, usable information on managing diet for those who cannot tolerate gluten.

Gluten intolerance or celiac disease is a genetic autoimmune disorder that affects the intestine.  The main problem caused by celiac disease is damage to the intestine in response to the ingestion of gluten, a protein found in barley, rye, and different types of wheat.

Unfortunately, even though awareness of celiac disease has greatly increased over the last decade, the average person with celiac disease is not accurately diagnosed for almost a decade.  Women are two to three times more likely than men to have celiac disease; however, men have more severe manifestations.

Typical symptoms include abdominal distention, pain, and diarrhea. These symptoms result from malabsorption of nutrients by a damaged intestine.  Iron deficiency anemia and osteoporosis and other atypical symptoms may occur due to the nutrient malabsorption.

The only treatment for celiac disease is lifelong avoidance of ingesting gluten.  Clinical improvement can be seen within days or weeks of starting a gluten-free diet and more than 90% of people will respond to complete dietary restriction.

One of the main goals of treating individuals with celiac disease is to help them follow a healthy, interesting, and practical gluten-free diet. But the problem there? Gluten is often hidden in food and even products like medicines and lip balms, meaning you must be hyper-aware of ingredients that contain it.

The good news is that over the past several years, the food industry has introduced a number of delicious, healthy products for people who cannot tolerate gluten – and we carry dozens at FRESH. Having celiac disease no longer means a life without the joys of bread or pasta!

There are now lots of good pastas, breads, cereals, snacks, pizzas, frozen meals, and other foods that are completely gluten-free, and safe for those with celiac disease.

At our workshop January 14 starting at 2 p.m., you’ll learn about many of these products. We will also share many facts you need to safely manage this disorder, including:

  • Six fundamentals of celiac disease management
  • Identifying gluten containing foods
  • Discussing flours and grains that are gluten free
  • Gluten in medications
  • How much gluten is too much?
  • Treating vitamin and mineral deficiencies
  • When drug therapy is useful

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