Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Dedicated Woman

There's a little supplement store in our neighborhood and the Trainer has a good relationship with the owner. He always gets good deals and lots of free samples. So one day he was sent home with a few samples of Dedicated Woman protein powder for me.

Being me, I had to do a lot of research before I would even touch the stuff. Unable to find all the answers on the website I made a phone call and left a message.

The delightful woman who called me back was actually the president of the company. We had a chat and she explained to me that her husband is a well known former body builder, and is also the chemist who creates all the formulas. He has his own company, Extreme Labs, that caters to men, and her company, Dedicated Woman, deals in products specially formulated for women's nutritional needs. They manufacture all of their products in Las Vegas to ensure that they are pure and safe.

She herself has Crohn's Disease and all of their products are gluten free and safe for folk with other stomach issues. And the chocolate is flavored with Ghirardelli. Besides the nutrition: 125cal per serving with 2g of carbs and 27g protein, it just plain tastes great. I have to say, it is by far the best protein shake I've ever tasted, and I've tried quite a few.

I recommend this as great ore or post workout meal, as a quick breakfast or for whenever you need a protein boost. Until I use it up, I mix 1 scoop of Dedicated Woman with 1/2 scoop of Green Vibrance for my mid-morning and pre-workout meals.

Sent from my iPhone

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Glutino Lemon Wafer Cookies

On Friday we had a birthday in the office. Since the VP was turning 40 she had been dropping not very subtle hints that she wanted something nice. So we had a catered lunch.

When I received the food from the delivery guy and started to set it up in the lunch room I was struck that the woman who ordered the food had actually made an effort to order food that I could eat. The receipt read: Mozzarella tomato plate, cold cut sandwich plate, fruit and chocolate plate, salad. This looked promising.

It wasn't. Well, the mozzarella tomato plate was great. The cold cut plate was really sandwiches and the chocolate plate was cookies and brownies with fruit sprinkled around it. I was glad that I had brought my own lunch, not wanting to take any chances. I had a nice slice of tomato and really good mozzarella with my turkey burger.

But it was so nice to see that they had really tried to accommodate my needs, just not knowing what questions to ask to ensure a safe meal for me. But I must remind myself that they tried.

Not being able to join in the fruit and chocolate plate, I delved into my store of samples for something to share.
I came up with these Glutino Lemon Wafer cookies.

Lately, here in New York the weather and calendar both say it's summer. It's almost to hot to do anything. Almost to hot to think even.

And the cookies were light and refreshing. Everyone agreed that they were a great summer desert. Sweet and tart with a great crisp bite.

(and they went pretty well with the champaign we were having. In the middle of the day, of course.)

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Trader Joe's

I seem to be doing a lot of trekking these days. Not out in the wilderness, but in the wilds of New York city. Often times I have to hit two or more stores to get all the things I need. I try to go to one store a day, or do a continuous trip, getting the heavy things last. I do all of my shopping on foot.

Today was my Treader Joe's trek. I take the train from work and then walk a mile to the store to load up on as much as I can. I love Trader Joe's because they have great prices on unique things. I can pay the same price for organic and free trade foods as I would at the standard grocery store.

The other great thing about Trader Joe's is their gluten free list. They have a list of all the products in the store that are gluten free. You can download the list on your desk top, or, if you're like me, you can grab on from the customer service desk and take it around the store with you as you shop. I wanted to try a few new things for next week and I made about three trips back to check the list.
Today they had Beef Jerky, which reads 'gluten free' right on the label. All you herbivores, look away. This jerky is great! I like things to be spiced, but I wouldn't call this 'spicy'. It's sweet and smoky and not too dry. I had some of it on the walk back to the subway and it really sut my tummy up.

My other find today was Trader Joe's Chocolate Pudding. When something says chocolate and gluten free right on the label I feel that it is my duty to sample, for your benefit. Into my shopping bag in went.

I had to wait to get home to try this one.

After putting away my groceries and washing my lunch dishes I decided I could treat myself to a little chocolate pudding.

As a I only got to have Jello-type puddings at friends houses, so any kind of creamy, chocolaty snack is a real treat and this exceeded my expectations. It's thick and rich without the artificial aftertaste I always associated with pudding cups.

Plus: it's got a cute little cow on the label!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Purely Decadent

I think that adults often forget that each days is an adventure waiting to happen. Especially so in New York City. Some days I shuffle to my job in the Diamond District and shuffle back home home to my Latin neighborhood. Some days I make my own adventure.

Walking downtown, or uptown, one travels through a cross section of New Yorks neighborhoods. As I walked my Whole Foods circuit I traveled from the suited business world through the city strata like a many-layered cake. Clothing changes, speech patterns change and the make-up of couple becomes more diverse.

I saw a well dressed young man walking down the street, and then noticed that he was wearing catholic school-style short pants with shiny black shoes and black socks pulled all the way up, and he was perfectly confident that he looked better than anyone else. I love to see the diversity around my adopted city, it reminds me why I moved here in the first place.

I made another wonderful discovery at the Whole Foods in Chelsea. I stopped by for bread for my boyfriend and raw cacao for myself, but every once in a while I wistfully peruse the frozen dessert case. As far as I'm concerned, most of those selections are off limits because of questionable flavoring ingredients. But what did I see? I saw Purely Decadent dairy free frozen desserts, and three flavor said gluten free. Snickerdoodle, Key Lime Pie and Blueberry Cheesecake.

I had to get one. After trekking to two more Whole Foods to get everything on my list I finally got a seat on the F train home to Queens. I pulled out my flimsy plastic spoon and opened my new find. I have never had a soy based frozen dessert, but I am always curious. Gelatos are often gluten free, and they are rich and creamy. Low calorie options are often a lot like iced milk or have weird flavors. I was trying not to get my hopes too high.

What I got was a cool, delicious, light, smooth cinnamon ice cream with real big chunks of gluten free snickerdoodle dough. It was great. It didn't taste like dairy ice cream, but it didn't need to. It was over all a little lighter and the snickerdoodle pieces tasted just as good as any snickerdoodle dough I've ever made.

I was reading the ingredients and although the packaging says that it is both dairy free and gluten free it also appears to be egg free as well.

Really, the best endorsement I can give is to say that, without a doubt, next time I go to Whole Foods I am going to try one of the other flavors.

Friday, June 13, 2008

ValpiForm Chocolate Chip Cookies

This review is long over due. I received two boxes of these ValpiForm cookies in my goody bag from the first Worry Free Dinner and I was trying to save them, for what, I’m not sure.

The last two weeks were incredibly stressful, between my aunts memorial, my boss getting back to the office and the ensuing drama, having these cookies in my office was a mistake.

I’m not sure what they’re actually called, but they ought to be called Way, Way, Way Too Good Chocolate Chip Cookies. They come in three packs of three in each box and despite all my best intentions I didn’t even have the willpower to save one for photography. These are seriously too good. I managed to eat both boxes in four days. Which might have had something to do with the amount of stress I was under.

But I digress. These cookies have a fantastic; they have a light crispy texture and smooth taste. They crumble a little but crumbs are the best part, right? And the chocolate chips are soft and sweet.

Not only are they gluten free they are also milk free and nut free.

The only reason I wouldn’t buy these cookies would be because I was afraid that I would eat them all at one time.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

First BBQ of the Season

Featuring Pamela’s Products Cake and Frosting Mixes

Yesterday Alyssa hosted a long overdue apartment warming BBQ with her new roommate. She was with me as I was being diagnosed and she helped me through my recovery and did a lot of research with me when we lived together. She used to work for a publishing house that did health and fitness books, and she even worked on a few early gluten free cookbooks. I had really felt lucky knowing that I wouldn’t really have to worry about the food being served, or at lest the items that they were providing.

But, I had several packages of Pamela’s cake mixes that were sent to me for sampling and I thought that this would be a perfect opportunity to share them, so I offered to bring a cake to the BBQ.

Now, as hard as I try, it seems that nothing I do is ever simple and this cake was no exception. It was a three-day ordeal that began on Thursday with baking the cake layers and ended Saturday, with me hand carrying an enormous cake on the subway to the gym and then on the New Jersey Transit bus to her apartment.

The BBQ was great. Alyssa and Deb had a cheese plate, home made gazpacho, fruit and meat ready to be grilled. It seems that Alyssa talks about me quite a bit and everyone knew I was the Girl Who Can’t Eat Bread. They all had questions, but they were all also very good about not contaminating the cheese knives with cracker crumbs. Each new person who arrived was quickly apprised of the situation by the other guests. It was wonderful to meet such considerate and interesting new people.

It turns out that Deb, and others there were already interested or aware of the gluten free lifestyle. It was really hard to see Deb, who admits to having a minor gluten intolerance herself, eating bread and crackers. One of Deb’s past jobs included designing the logo and website for GlutenFree Passport, a website resource for dinning out gluten free in the US and also all around the world.

All in all I had a great time. I hope Alyssa and Deb have a few more BBQs this summer. My cake was a big hit. Everyone liked it and said they would never have guessed that it was anything other than a regular cake if no one had told them. Deb said it was the best gluten free cake she had ever had. The general consensus was that over all the chocolate cake layer was a little bit better than the yellow layer, which I thought was a tad dry. The chocolate frosting was amazing and the fruit added that extra touch.

The Cake Odyssey

I started with a bag each of Pamela’s Classic Vanilla Cake, Chocolate Cake, Vanilla Frosting and Dark Chocolate Frosting mixes. My first idea was to make two marbled layers, but the cooking times and temperatures are different for the two cake mixes, so it became a two flavor, two-layer cake.

I unloaded all the pots and pans and started the oven. The yellow cake came first, in my 10” spring form pan. When that one was finished I slipped the chocolate cake, in the 9” spring form pan in. I followed the bag recipes in each case, not wanting to experiment too much the first time.

The batter tasted good, since I had to lick the bowl, and both cakes came out looking delicious. When my boyfriend got home, he looked at them and made devouring noises and motions. The cakes got covered up and packed away in our bedroom, to keep them away from the mice.

Friday was assembly day. I picked up some fresh fruits on the way home from work. I decide to put the yellow cake on the bottom, since it was bigger and it would be easier to trim that way, using the chocolate cake as a guide.

I mixed up the chocolate frosting, again following the directions on the bag, and ended up with a very thick fudgy frosting that didn’t spread very well. I managed to coax it out to the edges of the first layer; it was just enough to cover the top.

I covered that with halved raspberries and blueberries, trying to be as artistically random as I could.

While taking the chocolate cake off of its pan and placing it on top of the fruit layer, I succeeded in getting a very delicious handprint. The cake was, I hope, baked for the proper amount of time, but the top was nice and moist. The chocolate layer fit perfectly on top of the yellow, so at least I trimmed well.

I mixed up the vanilla frosting, adding about 2 additional tablespoons of water than the recipe on the bag called for. This gave me a softer, more spreadable frosting for the top of the cake. I think, perhaps I should have added even more water, since I didn’t have quite enough frosting to completely cover the sides of the cake. As it turned out, in transporting the cake most of the side frosting got stuck to the foil and I had to ‘reapply’ it when I got to New Jersey.

As an artist, I simply cannot pass up a blank canvass like the top of this cake. Along with the berries I got for the purpose I pilfered two strawberries from the refrigerator and used them to decorate the top. The end result looked pretty good, if home made, and I’m glad that no one in our house decided to sample it Friday night.

*****A special thank you to Alyssa and Deb for having this BBQ and the Pamela's Products for the cake and frosting mixes*****

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Mister Softee, My Summer Lover

See that? Across the busy street?

Nearing the corner?

For a New Yorker, even a transplanted one, it’s not the weather or a date on the calendar, but the arrival Mister Softee that marks the beginning of summer. Trucks spring up overnight on almost every street corner. Cruising through neighborhoods playing that distinctive song.

You know the one. In true Pavlovian response our eyes glaze over and an innocent, child hood need for ice cream, right now! awakens. When you hear that music, or see those trucks, you know summer is here to stay.

Summer has arrived and Mister Softee is my summer fling.

Isn’t he handsome?

And his soft serve ice creames and toppings are gluten free. Everything except the cones.

Ask just about any New Yorker and they’ll be happy to tell you where their favorite Mister Softee truck hangs out. Some swear by the one at the south east corner of Union Square. Others, Broadway and 50th.

Yesterday after work, filled with youthful glee, I ran to the corner of 49th and 6th for my first Mister Softee of the season. My Mister Softee will make me my favorite, no questions asked, and no extra charge: small vanilla, cherry dip, with rainbow sprinkles, in a cup. (Not all of them have the skills to do a dip in a cup, other don’t have the language facility to understand No Cone)

When the heat is on, and all you want is cool, smooth, luscious ice cream on a bright sunny day, have no fear: Mister Softee is here, or there, or pretty much wherever you are in the city, ready with a safe, gluten free treat to satisfy.

*I make no statement that Mister Softee is in any other way ‘healthy’ and I am fully aware that I ought to put an extra few hour at the gym after my splurge of yesterday. But hey, it’s summer! And I didn’t get sick!