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Review: Swoffle (Hint: This would be a great Valentine’s Day Treat)

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After a month of healthy dinner recipes it seems appropriate to bring a sweet treat to you today!

To be honest, I had no idea what Swoffle was until recently. I knew they would be good before trying them, though, after reading the description . . . “Two thin gluten free waffles wrapped around a delicious caramel filling”. Um, yes?

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I learned that Swoffle is actually based off of a Dutch dessert, stroopwafels. These treats are traditionally served with a hot drink. When you rest the Swoffle over top of the warm cup the caramel inside melts a bit. I tried my Swoffle with hot chocolate. It fit perfectly on top of my mugs! I let the mug sit for about 10 minutes or so before tasting the Swoffle. The bottom of the Swoffle was a bit warm and moist and my hot chocolate was still steamy (yeah extra side benefit – I love my drinks steaming hot!).

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The Swoffle was true to it’s description. As soon as I bit into the Swoffle the soft, melty caramel started slowly dripping out. The waffle parts and caramel part are both sweet so I think this dessert would be a better accompaniment to coffee or tea – at least for me. I don’t have a big sweet tooth so I was on a bit of a sugar high ­čÖé There were no strange after tastes or weird textures, as happens with other gluten free baked goods, so go figure I ate the entire thing!

I think what I love most about Swoffle is that it feels so special and fancy. It’s easy to find a GF chocolate chip cookie or sandwich bread, but there are not many truly gourmet GF products out there.┬á I was so excited to eat something that was new, exciting, and special. I’m so glad that companies are bringing products like this to the marketplace.

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The folks from Swoffle said their products aren’t available in stores nationwide yet, but there are still ways to get your hands on some of these! You can purchase from Swoffle directly, and I found Swoffle on Amazon, too! Get your order in soon – I’m thinking this will be a great Valentine’s Day dessert!!

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Review: Foster Farms Gluten Free Corn Dogs

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A few months ago, when Foster Farms asked me to review their new gluten free corn dogs, I was so excited. Trying new gluten free products is one of my favorite things! Seeing new GF products pop up always has me thinking about what yummy things could be next (Personally, I’m still holding out for a gluten free cheese crackers). I feel more and more normal with each new product that I can eat! Like, a real person who has more than half an aisle of options at the grocery store.

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When it came time to taste test the corn dogs, I have to say, I was having second thoughts. I just tend not to eat a lot of food from boxes. Why I would even consider touting a product on my blog that I wouldn’t realistically eat? Steve was excited, at least, and promptly ate 2 for breakfast the next morning, and *actually* liked them. He does not usually enjoy gluten free remakes of gluten containing food.

Well, it was around 3:00pm on a Saturday afternoon when I tried my first of the Foster Farm Corn Dogs. I’d woken up late enough that breakfast had basically become lunch. It was too soon for dinner, but I was worn out from doing gardening and getting hangry (you know, hungry + angry = hangry). After whining on the sofa for a few minutes about nothing to eat, blah blah blah, I realized it was the perfect opportunity to try a corn dog. I popped one in the toaster oven, sat down to write a blog post, and 20 minutes later it was ready.

My first bite was surprisingly good. I had another bite, and then another. The crust was so good – just slightly sweet, with a crunch. I after about half, then stuck my head outside to excitedly tell Steve (who was pulling overgrown vines off of a fence in the yard) that I was eating a corn dog! You better believe I went right back inside and ate the rest!

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One evening, when hosting a super casual party, we did a blind taste test and gave the Foster Farms Gluten Free Corns dogs to anyone who wanted one. No one knew they were gluten free! Almost everyone had seconds . . and then thirds!

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A few important details, before I get carried away. The box gives you a few cooking options, and I have only tested these by baking them, never in the microwave. We’ve used the oven and the toaster oven, both with the same great results.

Let me also take a minute to point out that these corn dogs are made from chicken that is NOT treated with hormones or steroids, so what you’re eating is actually a higher quality meat. It’s definitely not the “mystery meat” type of corn dogs they serve for school lunches!

Finally, because I was curious, and new GF products usually take a year to end up on shelves where I live, I checked a few local grocery stores to see if any had the Foster Farms GF corn dogs. Not only did the stores with gluten free sections have them in stock, but even a store I sometimes shop at that has no specialty gluten free products had these in the freezer section. This isn’t a “only in the big cities” product, it’s probably already at your nearest grocery store!

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So, yes, GF frozen corn dogs aren’t a typical meal for me, but I still have thoroughly enjoyed these, and everyone else who tried them did, too! What I really like most about this product though is the convenience, and that I don’t have to sacrifice taste to get it. There are not a lot of bake and eat, no effort required gluten free meals out there. I’ve eaten a few gluten free frozen burritos here and there, but they all have been cardboard-like in texture and taste. If I’m sick, short or time, or just not in the mood to cook, I’ll be glad to have a box of these corn dogs in my freezer for a quick, easy, and tasty meal!

 

 

Restaurant Report: WV, TN, NC

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We recently took a somewhat spur-of-the-moment road trip, trying to check off some more states from our list of the ones we haven’t visited yet. Traveling with a restricted diet can be a bit nerve-wracking, with eating out at so many unknown places. On the flip side, visiting a new place gives you the opportunity to eat at GF restaurants you wouldn’t have the opportunity to try in your hometown! This trip had some great finds, and some not so great finds. Here’s my thoughts on the restaurants we ate at:

Pies ‘n Pints

Fayetteville, WV

Fayetteville, WV doesn’t sound that awesome. I mean, have you ever heard of it?! The last time we were in WV we stayed in a cabin in a state park and didn’t have cell phone reception within a half hour of the park. I didn’t have high hopes for good GF awareness where cell phones can’t be used! In fact, we hadn’t even intended to stay in Fayetteville, but on Priceline the hotels there were much cheaper than our original destination. We’re adventurers, so we decided to change our plans and stop in Fayetteville.

After exploring Raven Rock State Park, in NC, we drove to Fayetteville and were checking into our hotel around 9:15pm. I’m famished, at this point. My husband probably is too. He strikes up a conversation with the woman who is checking us in and asks if she’s heard of gluten free and if she knows of any GF friendly restaurants in the area. It turns out she had a celiac nephew, and recommended a place called Pies ‘n Pints as the best GF dining in the area. I’m thinking “Pie. I want dinner, not dessert”, but I quickly realized this is a pizza pie restaurant. Now, in general, I feel that most GF pizza is “blah” at best, but I was tired and hungry, and it was literally 3 minutes away.

So we arrive at Pies ‘n Pints, which is actually a really neat looking place. It has brightly colored walls, and lots of architectural elements. There’s a TV playing sports and another playing a black and white movie. We get seated right away and the waitress quickly comes to the table. When I ask her about the GF options I was pleasantly surprised to find out that nearly all of the pizzas could be made GF, they had GF bread for the sandwiches, even the chicken wings were gluten free! I believe they also have GF beer, but I hate carbonated beverages, so I didn’t take much notice of that.

I ordered a Margherita Pie and Husband settled on the Cuban Pork Pie. After waiting about half an hour after our order was placed I started complaining about the wait time. I was hungry (still), and the restaurant was not that full. Husband mentioned that the menu had a statement saying something along the lines of “It takes a little longer to make our pizzas than traditional pizzas, but we think that the wait is worth it”. We decide to give them the benefit of the doubt. A few minutes later our pizza comes out. Have I mentioned that I was hungry? My pizza is a little rectangle and the toppings are all the way to the edge of the crust.

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I took my first bite and it was DELICIOUS. Unlike, every other gluten free pizza I have ever had, the crust was soft, spongy, moist, but not overly doughy. If it didn’t clearly look different than Husband’s round pizza, I would have thought I was eating a wheat crust. Beyond the crust, just the simple toppings on my pizza were delicious. The tomato sauce was smooth and the perfect blend of sweet and tangy. The fresh basil on top, was done perfectly, too; not crunchy and dried out. Needless to say, I at the whole thing.┬áHusband ate his entire pizza, too. When I talked to the waitress at the end of the meal she mentioned the crusts come frozen, and they treat all of their doughs with some kind of oil. Whatever they do, they are doing it right. According to their website, Pies n’ Pints has 3 locations in WV and OH. If you are nearby, check them out! Next time, I’m totally trying the wings next time!

Bombasha

Nashville TN

Since I knew we would be in Nashville during this read trip I checked out Groupon to see if there was any deal for restaurants with GF options. We found Bombasha, a Brazilian Steakhouse. We’d previously been to Tucanos in VA, another Brazilian Steakhouse and loved it (great food and great labeling of many allergens), so we wanted to try another. Bombasha was very fancy; definitely a “date night” type of restaurant. ┬áThe entire staff was wearing black and white, there were fancy table clothes and candles, etc. We got a few items from the salad bar before the meat and sides started to be delivered to our table. It turned out that of the 12 different types of meat, only about half were actually gluten free. I got to try all but one of those safe items, and honestly they were not that good. A few had good flavor (I enjoyed the parmesan crusted and top sirloin), but for the most part the meat was dry. That would have been disappointing for the $20/meal we paid with the groupon, let alone the $40/ meal it would have been without. The sides were fried yucca, fried bananas, and mashed potatoes, which we really enjoyed. The friend yucca unusual, but tasty, almost like french fries. The bananas were very sweet and dessert-like. Overall, I wouldn’t recommend Bombasha for GF dining or dining in general. Definitely try a Brazilian steakhouse sometime, if you have’t yet.

Pfunky Griddle

Nashville, TN

Even though our groupon experience with Bombasha was poor, we decided to use have another try with groupon for breakfast at a place called Pfunky Griddle. We arrived shortly after 8am, which turned out to be great, since the restaurant started to fill up shortly after we arrived. The decor in this place was super fun. The restaurant building is a remolded house. Each room had a different, colorful, mural of an outdoors scene. The windows were even painted. It was bright and colorful. Ironically, we were seated in a room with wheat fields painted on the walls! The music playing throughout the restaurant was all upbeat oldies. It just seemed like a fun place right when you walked in!

Pfunky Griddle does for pancakes what the Melting Pot does for fondue. Each table has a large griddle in the center. You order pancake batter and toppings and prepare your own on the griddle right in front of you. They offer 3 types of pancake batter, one being a GF batter, and even will bring out a dedicated GF griddle. You pay $6 for unlimited batter and 99cents for small cups of toppings. Although the GF pancakes ended up dry, the experience was fun. The griddle was big enough that I had half for my GF batter and Husband used the other half for his normal pancakes and there was a large buffer zone. Experimenting with all the different toppings and not worrying about having to clean up the mess afterwards was a nice treat. The cost was affordable, and the coffee was great, too! I left feeling quite full. If/when we are in Nashville we will definitely stop here again.

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Mellow Mushroom

Hickory, NC

I usually go for trying small, local restaurants when I’m traveling, but in Hickory NC we ended up at Mellow Mushroom. This was not the goal. Our plan was actually to go to an authentic sounding German restaurant which was also listed as “GF friendly” on UrbanSpoon. When we got there, looked at the menu, and the restaurant owner told me that the sausage cooked in beer was GF, I was immediately concerned. Not surprisingly, we left. We ventured through the town (city?) of Hickory looking for a cafe a woman at the hotel had recommended to us, which was quite an adventure. We stopped and asked a cop for directions, but what he gave us the was wrong. On the way there were called another restaurant I had found on UrbanSpoon, asking about their “GF friendly” options, and the man who answered the phone said he didn’t know what that was listed and the restaurant didn’t actually have anything to offer me. At this point we’d been driving for a while and needed to eat. We remembered driving past a Mellow Mushroom, so we navigated back there. There was some live music going on and the restaurant was nearly empty (it was 9pm). We waited 45 minutes for our pizzas. I’ve had Mellow Mushroom pizza before, and, like I said earlier, it fits into the same “blah” category that the vast majority of other GF pizzas fit into. It’s also overpriced, in my opinion. But, at least we got food. We got back tot he hotel late, to find out that bathroom light didn’t work, and the bathroom door also ran into the toilet instead of shutting. And this was supposed to be a 3 star hotel? Not a positive experience in Hickory, NC.

Waffle House

Hickory, NC

Before starting the drive back home we stopped at a Waffle House across the street from the hotel for breakfast. Waffle House sounds scary for a celiac, but I’ve found it to be quite safe. When I explain what I need the servers are usually happy to oblige. The best part is, You can see them making the food so you know if they mess it up! I order eggs and hashbrowns. So greasy, but so tasty. Waffle House is not my idea of really great food, but every one in a while it’s a good splurge, and it’s relatively inexpensive. They seem to be all over the place down in this area of the country so it’s a good place to keep in mind if you are having trouble finding gluten free in a city.

For other meals on the road trip we did things simply. I carried around instant grits and made them using the hot water from hotel coffee machines. Lunch is usually tuna fish and GF crackers. Plus, there are always lots of snacks in the car on road trips!

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