Archive for the ‘Product Reviews’ Category

I was recently contacted by a rep for Krave Jerky to receive some free product samples in exchange for a review on my blog. They sent samples of every flavor, both of the traditional jerky as well as a few of the jerky bars and sticks. All in all, I was quite pleased with the products and the unique flavor combinations and of course, the fact that the products are gluten free! As a celiac, I have to watch the ingredient list on jerky type products because many use wheat-containing soy sauce as flavoring. The Krave samples all indicated that the soy sauce is gluten free and made from soy instead of wheat – so that was a definite plus for me!

While I am not a big jerky person, it was convenient to be able to toss a bar or stick in my bag or purse if I knew I was going to be out and about and might need a snack. The bars and sticks have a decent amount of protein in them (7-8 grams per bar or stick) and they even have some plant proteins added in the form of quinoa, white beans or black beans (in the Spicy Red Pepper Pork with Black Beans Stick or the Rosemary Lemon Turkey with White Beans Stick or the Mango Jalapeno Pork with Fruit and Quinoa Bar). I will say that the texture of the bars and sticks was a bit different, perhaps because of the added ingredients? The texture was less chewy and meaty, and more mushy, but still tasty.

As for the more traditional jerky, I was surprised to find jerky made from more than just beef in the package. I don’t think I have ever tried pork, chicken or turkey jerky before. I will say that I think I am more of a traditionalist (beef!) when it comes to jerky as I wasn’t overly fond of the mushy texture of the turkey, chicken and pork flavors. One exception being the Lemon Garlic Turkey jerky – this one was quite chewy and my favorite of the non-beef flavors.

As I mentioned, the unique flavor combinations were fun to try but I discovered that I seem to prefer the more traditional flavors. Quite a few of the flavors seemed overly sweet to me – in particular the Wild Blueberry bar, the Grilled Sweet Teriyaki Pork Jerky, Sweet Chipotle Beef Jerky and even the Sea Salt Original Beef Jerky. In looking at the labels (for all jerky, not just this brand), jerky tends to be high in added sugar and of course, sodium. So comparing labels is a smart move, especially if you are watching either of these nutrients. Most of the Krave products I sampled had anywhere from 7-11 grams of added sugar per one ounce serving. Remember that 4 grams of sugar is equal to one teaspoon of white sugar and the recommendation is to consume no more than 6 tsp (women) or 9 tsp (men) of added sugar per day  And most of us don’t stick to eating only one ounce of jerky in one sitting. So the sugar adds up quickly! Be sure to read labels and make smarter choices.

As well, sodium is a concern when choosing jerky (or any other processed meat). The Krave products I received were moderate in their sodium content with anywhere from 6-17% of the recommended daily value (DV). Products under 5% of DV can be considered low sodium and products over 20% DV can be considered high in sodium content. Of course the concern here too is that most people don’t stick to just eating one ounce of jerky, so in reality they are eating 2-3 times (or more!) the amount of sodium listed for a single one-ounce serving.

The Krave website touts their products as being entirely gluten-free as well as free of added nitrites or MSG (some are naturally occurring). They also state they use lean cuts of meat, no artificial flavors, and the products contain less than 100 calories per serving.

Overall I thoroughly enjoyed the products I received – my favorites being the Sea Salt Original Beef Jerky, the Lemon Garlic Turkey Jerky, Garlic Chili Pepper Beef Jerky and Pink Peppercorn Beef Jerky. While I preferred the traditional style (loose) jerky over the bars, I will admit that having the bars or sticks available to toss in my purse was convenient. But I will probably stick to my preferred flavors of the loose jerky and just measure out an ounce portion into a snack sized baggie. Be sure to check out their website and order your sampler pack now! (Free shipping on orders over $35.) Enjoy!


Read Full Post »

Recently I was sent samples of two new Crunchmaster brand cracker varieties – the White Cheddar Multigrain Crackers and the 7 Ancient Grains Hint of Sea Salt crackers. (Unfortunately, these crackers are not yet listed on their website so I can’t link you directly to them, but to their general website instead.)

The White Cheddar Multi-Grain crackers are quite tasty. They are light and crispy but sturdy enough for dipping. And I found that I prefer them just as they are, straight out of the bag. The flavoring isn’t too messy, getting all over your fingers and requiring a napkin to eat them. Just a little hint of messiness, just enough to lick off your fingers. (You know you do it too.) I also like that these crackers come in a resealable zip-top bag, very convenient for when you don’t always have a chip clip or rubber band or something to close up the bag.

Be aware though that these White Cheddar Multi-Grain crackers do contain oats by way of oat fiber. (Not all Crunchmaster products do, so as always, read the labels.) That little ingredient can cause some confusion since not everyone chooses to consume gluten free oat products. (I have only started consuming them in the past eighteen months after fourteen years of no oats, gf or not.) The products are certified by the Gluten Free Certification Organization which tests to 10ppm. Be sure to read the Crunchmaster statements on their FAQ, if you have concerns. You can also read more about the oat issue over at Gluten Free Fun.

As for the 7 Ancient Grains crackers, I enjoyed these as well. They are also sturdy, yet light crackers with just a hint of salt. They don’t make the corners of your mouth hurt after eating them from salt overload. The ingredient list on these crackers is short and simple: brown rice flour, potato starch, safflower oil, sorghum flour, quinoa seeds, sesame seeds, millet, flax seeds, amaranth seeds, sea salt. No crazy chemical ingredients!

I would happily serve these crackers to non-gluten free folks as the flavors are fairly universal with no strange after tastes or textures. (At least not to my sixteen-years-gluten-free taste buds.) They are perfect for the upcoming holiday entertaining season!

*These products were received free of charge but the opinions expressed here are entirely my own.*

Read Full Post »

Last week I received a nice surprise – three of the new, gluten free LUNA Protein bars showed up in my mailbox. LUNA/Clif Bar was kind enough to send me the Mint Chocolate Chip, Chocolate Peanut Butter and Cookie Dough flavors to sample for you. There are two additional flavors, Chocolate and Chocolate  Cherry Almond.

Since we haven’t been hiking much over the past month due to fire restrictions, I haven’t had much of a need for protein bars. But I figured I should break into them and check them out. Just for you, of course.

I was pleasantly surprised to find that they were chocolate covered! I love chocolate-covered anything. But it’s a good thing I didn’t wait to take them on a hike, they probably would have been a gooey, melty mess. For this reason they also probably won’t stash well in your purse or bag, although I may try it this week. Again, just for you.

As you may know, most (all?) LUNA bars have not been gluten free in the past, but these new protein bars are gluten free (not all of the LUNA products are gluten free, check the labels). And I have to commend the folks at LUNA as they have tried to hit it all in these bars.

Each 1.6 oz (45g) LUNA Protein bar has around 180-190 calories with 12g protein and 3g fiber, along with essential nutrients women need. It is high in calcium and folic acid, and is a good source of vitamin D, iron, fiber and antioxidants (vitamins A, C and E). Each bar has 6-9g fat and 13-15g sugar depending on the flavor.

That’s a heck of a lot of protein stuffed into a 180 or so calorie protein bar. Most bars only have a third to half that amount of protein.

So, what about their gluten free status – do they test them? LUNA/Clif Bar makes other products, so how safe are they? Here’s the deal:

At the beginning of 2011 we started to transition all LUNA Protein flavors to be gluten free. To do this, Clif Bar & Company has looked at all aspects of making our bars. Our ingredient suppliers have confirmed that all ingredients are gluten free, so they contain no gluten from wheat, rye or barley. The location where we make our food is capable of making a gluten free food and we test our finished products to confirm that they are gluten free.

Our newest flavors, Mint Chocolate Chip and Chocolate, are all labeled gluten free.

As of March 2011, Chocolate Peanut Butter, Cookie Dough, and Chocolate Cherry Almond transitioned to be gluten free, as well. You can tell if your LUNA Protein bar is gluten free by looking at the packaging.

When I inquired as to what level the bars tested at, here is the response I got:

In the absence of official FDA standards, we use the testing benchmark set forth by the Gluten Free Certification Organization (GFCO), which is less than 10 parts per million of gluten.

So there it is, and as always only you can make the choice that’s right for you.

LUNA Protein - Chocolate Peanut Butter

The chocolate peanut butter flavor was the first bar I tried. When I initially cut it open, I was a little worried, as I am normally not a fan of protein bars with this sort of mushed up substance inside. (My favorite bars are KIND bars, where you can see the whole ingredients like nuts and dried fruit.) That was when I actually took a look at the ingredients (‘doh!):

Protein Blend (Soy Protein Isolate, Whey Protein Concentrate), Organic Evaporated Cane Juice, Coating (Organic Evaporated Cane Juice, Palm Kernel Oil, Cocoa, Soy Lecithin And Organic Vanilla Extract), Peanuts, Organic Peanut Butter, Vegetable Glycerin, Inulin (Chicory Extract), Natural Flavors, Soy Rice Crisp (Soy Protein Isolate, Rice Flour,), Salt, Soy Lecithin, Almonds.

So, a lot of ‘processed’ ingredients. And it contains soy, dairy and nuts, so it isn’t for everyone. But, all in all, a good flavor, just enough peanut butter flavor to balance the outer chocolate coating. There are little crispy nuggets within the ‘nougat’ (as they call it) which gives a little texture to the filling. Bottom line: Pretty good. I would eat one again.

Next up, the mint chocolate chip flavor.

LUNA Protein Bar - Mint Chocolate Chip

I’ll be straight up about this one – I am not a fan. The smell of mint flavoring permeated the air as soon as I opened the package. It was a little much for me, even though I am a fan of mint chocolate things. This one had the same type of nougat filling but it also had little chocolate chips and the soy crisps to give some variation in texture. Here’s the ingredients, which are similar to the first bar:

Protein Blend (Soy Protein Isolate, Whey Protein Concentrate), Organic Evaporated Cane Juice, Coating (Organic Evaporated Cane Juice, Palm Kernel Oil, Cocoa, Soy Lecithin And Organic Vanilla Extract), Vegetable Glycerin, Inulin (Chicory Extract), Chocolate Chips (Evaporated Cane Juice, Unsweetened Chocolate, Cocoa Butter, Soy Lecithin, Natural Flavors), Cocoa Soy Rice Crisps ((Soy Protein Isolate, Organic Rice Flour, Organic Alkalized Cocoa, Alkalized Cocoa), Natural Flavors, Macadamia Nut Butter, Organic Alkalized Cocoa, Water, Salt, Soy Lecithin

Again, this one is gluten free but contains soy, dairy and nuts. Bottom line: I wouldn’t eat the mint chocolate chip flavor again due to the strong mint flavor, it just wasn’t for me.

Next up, the cookie dough flavor.

LUNA Protein Bar - Cookie Dough

The ingredient low-down:

Protein Blend (Soy Protein Isolate, Whey Protein Concentrate), Organic Evaporated Cane Juice, Coating (Organic Evaporated Cane Juice, Palm Kernel Oil, Cocoa, Soy Lecithin And Organic Vanilla Extract), Chocolate Chips (Evaporated Cane Juice, Unsweetened Chocolate, Cocoa Butter, Soy Lecithin, Natural Flavors), Inulin (Chicory Extract), Vegetable Glycerin, Macadamia Nut Butter, Natural Flavors, Cocoa Soy Rice Crisp (Soy Protein Isolate, Organic Rice Flour, Organic Alkalized Cocoa, Alkalized Cocoa), Salt, Soy Lecithin

So, again, they contain soy, dairy and nuts. Doesn’t the nougat filling in the above picture remind you of cookie dough? It does to me, although the flavor wasn’t quite there. I tasted a bit of an artificial flavor to the filling in this one but it wasn’t enough to turn me off. This one also has the addition of chocolate chips and the soy crisps to add texture. Bottom line: I liked this one well enough and would eat it again.

Overall, I would eat the Cookie Dough and Chocolate Peanut flavors again but I am not sure I would buy them if I had other choices. And I might happen to pick up the Chocolate Cherry Almond flavor to try out if and when I see it.  I like the chocolate-covered factor but it can also be a hindrance here in the heat of the southwest. I will let you know how they hold up to the heat and being stuffed in my purse for a couple of days. (That’s what I like about KIND and LARAbars, I can stick them in my purse or pack and not worry about them, they’ll be just fine until I need one.) But, I could see keeping these in my desk drawer for a quick, healthy and chocolatey(!) mid-afternoon snack to hold me until dinner. There’s enough fat in them to make me feel like I have eaten something substantial and added fiber to help keep me feeling full. I also like the quantities of calcium and B-12 in one bar as they are items I monitor for my own health.

I haven’t seen them at my local stores yet, so keep your eyes open for them. Have you seen them in your area yet? A big thank you to LUNA/Clif for providing these for me to sample.

*These products were received free of charge but the opinions expressed here are entirely my own.*

Read Full Post »

My first giveaway! How exciting!

So, have you tried anything from Katz Gluten Free yet? I hadn’t but they sent me a sample package a while back and I am loving everything in it! And now they just sent me their two newest products, Vanilla Rugelach and Chocolate Frosted Cupcakes (with sprinkles!).

I am sitting here eating one of each (despite all the Christmas cookies, Buckeyes and fudge sitting on my kitchen counter). I defrosted the chocolate cupcake in the microwave (a little too long) and the smell that filled the kitchen was wonderful and chocolately. I had asked my husband if he wanted half but he didn’t since he had just opened a beer. But just now he came wandering in here, his nose leading him, asking if there as any cupcake left. Uh, no. Gone. Gulp! Mmm. I don’t think he will pass up any future offers of these cupcakes!

These cupcakes would be a great option for school children. The school could keep the package frozen and defrost one for a classroom birthday treat as needed for your child. Or keep them in your freezer for a special treat for you!

And the Vanilla Rugelach are good too. But the vanilla is a little bit overpowering, in my opinion. My favorite rugelach is their Cinnamon Rugelach. Both are great with a cup of tea (as you can see in the picture here).

Of their other products that I have tried, I really like the Challah Bread. As well, the Chocolate Chip Cookies. They have a great flavor and plenty of chips that are a little melty when you bite into one.

So, enough with the review. Be sure you go on over and check out some products – they are currently offering free shipping on orders over $30, how cool is that? The shipping prices of things often cause me to just ‘do without’ instead of ordering something online.

As well, go on over to the Katz website and enter yourself into the “Box of Katz” giveaway. The drawing for this huge prize will be held on January 3rd.

And to enter the giveaway, please leave a comment here, letting me know if you have tried any of their products and if so, which is your favorite? If not, let me know which product you would like to try. With this, you will be entered into a drawing for one of their Scrumptious Sample Packs, shipped direct to your door! (One entry per person, please.) The winner will be chosen on Sunday, January 2nd.

And if you follow Twitter or Facebook, be sure to ‘follow’ or ‘friend’ Katz Gluten Free for more fun!

Read Full Post »

In the fifteen years since my celiac disease diagnosis, I have tried many pre-made gluten free cookies. Some okay, some good, some horrible and finally, some Wow!

On a recent Whole Foods visit, I picked up a package of WOW Oregon Oatmeal cookies in a small plastic tub. Let’s just say, they didn’t even make it home! These things are dangerous! I just love the little chewy pieces of apricot in this soft oatmeal cookie.

And yesterday, I stopped in again and discovered the seasonal Pumpkin Spice cookies.

Oh. my. gosh. Wonderful! Initially they looked like they would be hard, crunchy cookies, but just like the Oregon Oatmeal, they are soft, with a great spice cookie flavor. No bad aftertaste, no weird texture, just WOW! They are also a great two-bite size, although that hasn’t kept me from almost devouring the entire box.

I would highly recommend picking some of these up when you get a chance, especially the seasonal Pumpkin Spice. To see if they are stocked in your area, check out their store locator. And if they are not in your area, you can order them online.

Disclaimer: No compensation was received for this review. I bought these cookies with my own, hard-earned money and happily reviewed them for the sake of gluten free folks like yourself!

Read Full Post »