Delicious and Gluten-Free Chicken Tenders

Last week, I tried some delicious and gluten-free chicken tenders. While I prefer preparing fresh food, sometimes I’m a less-than-perfect planner. I get caught up in work and before I know it, I’m too hungry and just need something to eat. For those moments, I like to keep a few partially or fully prepared foods on hand.

Choosing those foods is fun because it gives me an opportunity to explore new or different gluten-free products that are on the market. Often, the search more satisfying than the consumption. Over the 17 years I’ve been gluten-free, there has been improvement in the selection and availability of convenience foods. But there’s still no guarantee those products will be palatable. I can’t help but open each new package with a bit of trepidation.

I will enthusiastically say, there is no need for hesitancy with Bell&Evans® Air Chilled Gluten Free Breaded Chicken Breast Tenders. They are the best frozen chicken tenders I’ve ever eaten!

There are many reasons for this. First, they are made from chicken – not chopped or separated chicken parts and fillers. Next, they’re flash fried to set the breading but remain uncooked until you cook them. Third, they’ve been marinated in a sea salt brine.

Additionally, the breading is a very thin coating that lets the moist, tender chicken be the star. It consists of rice flour, water, yellow corn flour, sea salt, xanthan gum, dried whole eggs, yeast, cane sugar, black pepper, onion powder, and garlic powder that has been set by flash frying in organic expeller pressed soybean oil.

Because the tenders have not been previously cooked, it is important that they reach a safe internal temperature. To that end, the tenders can be pan fried, air fried or oven baked. Once they are golden brown, I’ve served them alone as an entrée and atop a salad. They are large enough for a sandwich as well.

For small fingers, you can choose gluten free chicken nuggets rather than tenders. The nuggets are made from chicken breast meat without fillers and breaded with the same ingredients.

Bell&Evans products can be found at Whole Foods and Fresh Market in my area. To locate their products where you live, there’s a zip code search on the company’s website. Not all products will be gluten-free so be sure to read the descriptions carefully before purchasing.

My experience was so good, I’m planning to sample the Bell&Evans meatballs as well. If those are good, I’ll consider the chicken burgers.

It’s always great when food exceeds your expectations. These chicken tenders did that and raised the bar. Not only will I add them to my set of regular options, they’ll replace every chicken tender brand I’ve previously ordered.

I hope this week’s discoveries turn out as well for me and for you! Happy gluten-free exploring!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Forty Ounce Rosé Plus Gluten-Free Breton Original Crackers

40Forty Ounce Rosé plus gluten-free Breton® Crackers feels like a representative combination for happy hour in my gentrifying neighborhood. About thirteen years ago, I moved into a four-block neutral zone between the Crips and the Bloods located in the historic neighborhood that houses my state’s governor’s mansion. Forty-ounce bottles of malt liquor or beer could be purchased a block away. A decent bottle of wine and upscale crackers required driving several miles.

After 30 years of “getting better” (but not really), the neighborhood has begun to change. I haven’t had a break-in or drive-by shooting at my home in about three years. Many young couples with small children live nearby. It’s only a few blocks to new green-built urban farmhouses and shipping container homes. A distillery and craft-beer maker have relocated within walking distance. We have a farmer’s market, performance venue, restaurants, two bakeries, a creamery, local retail, and a museum.

Many of my neighbors sit on the front porch in the evening. There’s almost always a light breeze. A generous pour of chilled Forty Ounce Rosé in my glass makes for a refreshing accompaniment to relaxing on the porch.

Forty Ounce Rosé is a French wine that is handmade using traditional sustainable farming and vinification methods. It includes a blend of grapes from Muscadet and Touraine:53% Gamay, 33% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc, 4% Pineau d’Aunis and contains 12.5% alcohol. The amusing bottle holds 33.82 fluid ounces (a liter) rather than an actual forty ounces.

I often find rosé either too sweet or too tart. I like a balance somewhere in between. I don’t expect the fullness of a red, but I want some body to the wine. Forty Ounce Rosé fills the bill.

Rosés have been back in vogue for a few years, but in my city it can still be a struggle to find a satisfactory bottle. My friends and I recently resorted to having the liquor store order a case of Forty Ounce that we can split. Perhaps if we order often enough, they’ll opt to stock it on the shelf.
breton
Eventually, we get hungry while sitting on the porch. This week I decided to add Breton Original gluten-free crackers to my snack choices. I must confess, it’s been so long since I’ve had the original crackers containing gluten, I can’t remember what they taste like so I can’t give you that comparison. I’ll just have to describe my current experience.

The initial taste is slightly sweet and not unpleasant. The texture is not crisp and crunchy like Schär Table Crackers or crisp then somewhat flaky like Glutino Premium Rounds. These are softer with a texture similar to that of a graham cracker. At the end of the bite, there’s an aftertaste I don’t like. I’m not sure if it comes from the flax seeds or added flavoring.

I tried these crackers alongside chicken salad and tuna salad. This is not the cracker I would choose for either in the future. Perhaps I would serve Breton Original gluten-free crackers with a soft cheese.

It’s possible herbed chévre would mitigate the aftertaste. A smear of cream cheese topped with apricot jelly or olives might also work. Overall, I see these as a specialty cracker, not one to keep on hand.

In addition to snacks, porch sitting is often filled with fanciful contemplation. I’m sure the world’s problems have been solved several times over on porch stoops. Perhaps if conference rooms were filled with rustling leaves, beautiful blooms, a pleasant breeze, warbling birds, diverse and cordial neighbors in comfortable clothes, and plenty of wine meetings would inspire change and improvement in our institutions.

At least we know we can inspire change from our porches with Forty Ounce Rosé and Breton crackers in hand.

http://www.fortyouncewines.com/#wines

http://www.fortyouncewines.com/#wines/rosé

https://www.darefoods.com/ca_en/brand/breton/1

http://www.cooking2thrive.com/blog/well-preserved/

Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Ice Cold Non-Dairy Treats for Summer

The temperature outside has hit the 90-degree mark and it’s time for ice cold non-dairy treats! Last summer I could still consume ice cream as long as it was gluten-free. This summer, I need a non-dairy treat.

When ordering my groceries last week, I discovered avocado based non-dairy frozen desserts. It was a clicking accident but I decided to try the Deep Dark Chocolate nonetheless. The flavor was rich chocolate. There was no hint of avocado taste, and the avocado base created a creamy texture that made it seem very much like ice cream. I wouldn’t want to eat a whole meal of it, but I enjoyed the creamy denseness.
ice cold
Cado’s seven dessert flavors contain only 12 grams of sugar and 170 calories per serving. These pints are plant-based, vegan, and soy free but contain guar gum and gum acacia. I’m curious whether a lighter flavor would let a bit of avocado flavor come through. I think I’ll try Simply Lemon in order to find out.

I like Talenti® Alphonso Mango Sorbetto. The primary ingredient is Mango and a 2/3 cup serving has 160 calories. It’s a sweet treat so it contains sugar. It also has 2 grams of fiber. The only thing I’m not really fond of is the addition of Carob Bean Gum.

Alphonso Mango Sorbetto is not the only dairy-free flavor from Talenti. There’s Roman Raspberry, Peanut Butter Fudge, and Cold Brew Coffee. The raspberry is just as appealing as the mango, but harder to find locally. I haven’t tried the other two.

If you eat dairy, Talenti offers a wide range of gelato flavors. Many are gluten-free and can be found under a gluten-free tab on the Talenti website. These include Organic Ginger Matcha, Peppermint Bark, and Vanilla Chai.

When I want something on a stick, I reach for Luna & Larry’s Coconut Bliss® Organic Dark Chocolate Bars. I think I’ve mentioned these before. I often keep a box in the freezer. One melt-in-your-mouth bar has 140 calories. I like both the flavor and texture of these treats made from coconut milk, agave syrup, cocoa, and vanilla extract. Difficult to avoid in frozen treats, the coconut milk contains guar gum as a filler.

All Coconut Bliss flavors are certified gluten-free — even the Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough. Some flavors come bars. Others are in pint cartons. A 2/3 cup serving of Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough has 330 calories. The Ginger Cookie + Caramel has 330 calories per serving and the Sweet Cherry Amaretto 260. Unfortunately,

There are other non-dairy frozen desserts available. Steve’s Ice Cream Burnt Sugar Vanilla sounds delicious, but it’s not sold in stores in my area. I’ll make it a point to seek some out when I’m traveling.

Ben & Jerry’s®, Halo Top®, So Delicious®, NadaMoo! and Snow Monkey also produce highly acclaimed dairy-free ice creams. I’ve tried a dairy version of Halo Top that would not make my short list, but the non-dairy version may stand out.

Of course, you don’t have to take my word for any of this. Is there really a downside in getting out there and trying LOTS of these yourself? I don’t think so.

Enjoy some for me too!

UPDATE:I tried the Cado Simply Lemon and Mint Chocolate Chip flavors. Neither is as pleasing as the Deep Dark Chocolate. After a bite or two, the Simply Lemon was too lemony. I feel this way about most products that include lemon oil. Lemon juice might have had enough flavor on its own. The mint chocolate chip was okay, but one bite did not leave me wanting another one.

https://www.talentigelato.com/products/alphonso-mango-2

https://www.talentigelato.com/product-category/dairy-free-sorbetto

https://coconutbliss.com/product-details/dark-chocolate-bars/

http://cadoicecream.com/

https://stevesicecream.com/index.html#WhereToBuy

http://www.cooking2thrive.com/blog/my-five-feel-good-things-for-the-week/

http://www.cooking2thrive.com/blog/summer-ice-cream/

Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Spring has Sprung and it’s Time to Think About Shrubs

Spring has sprung, or at least begun to sneak into our afternoons, and it’s time to think about shrubs. When warm weather begins, I spend a lot of time thinking about the trimming, digging, and planting that need to be done. I don’t manage to get to the part where I get out in the yard to do something about it though. When we have a perfect sunny, warm afternoon, I find myself too busy sitting outside having a drink with a friend. Luckily, there’s more than one kind of shrub. One is on my to-do list. The other can be in my drink. I love a happy coincidence! I can think about shrubs, enjoy the outdoors, and relax all at the same time.

It seems like every restaurant in my neighborhood has a new list of specialty cocktails for each season. I love reading these lists. The names are clever. The pairings of gin, tequila, and rum with fresh fruit, citrus juice, and fresh herbs sound sooooo refreshing. Of course, I order one. Then I take a drink. More than 90% of the time my enjoyment ends there. Most of these cocktails are too sweet for me.

I don’t object to desserts, but I don’t like sweet drinks – tea, lemonade, soda, flavored water, and coffee drinks do not appeal. I don’t like the way they taste. They don’t refresh and they leave me thirsty. That’s not to say a slight drizzle of honey won’t improve a drink. It might. But the standard is simple syrup…and plenty of it.

Shrubs appeal to me because of the tang of vinegar. If you must use sweet, at least balance it with acid. A few years ago when vinegar bars became popular, I eagerly anticipated the arrival of the trend in my city. That never happened. But a more subtle inclusion of vinegar sometimes appears on a cocktail menu in the form of a shrub.
shrub
A shrub is a syrup made of vinegar, botanicals, and yes, sugar. Historically, it was a way of preserving fruit. Taste-wise, it is meant to fall on the acidic side. If you want an even more tangy shrub, you can easily make one at home.

Most shrubs are made using apple cider, white wine, or red wine vinegar, but you can also use balsamic. A blend of balsamic vinegar and sweet cherries sounds delicious to me. Some recipes I’ve seen cut the balsamic with apple cider vinegar. Red wine vinegar would be worth a try as well. I’m describing a shrub that feels more like fall.

How about something lighter for spring? Pineapple, white wine vinegar, and rosemary might fit the bill. And you don’t have to make it at home. You can buy it in a bottle from Pink House Alchemy.

If I’m ordering, I’m going to have to include a bottle of cardamom syrup as well. It’s too intriguing to pass up. And to continue with this digression, I keep wanting to create a sassafras tea granita. Sounds like I’m heading for a spring porch party!

Anyway, you can make a shrub at home by cooking fruit, vinegar, and sugar together or by letting the fruit and sugar macerate, adding the vinegar and letting it sit for a few days on the counter or in the refrigerator before straining.

Tomato based shrubs can be used to make bloody mary-like drink. A blueberry shrub can be used for a daiquiri-like drink. And no alcohol is required for a refreshing shrub beverage. A little seltzer will do the trick.

It seems like it’s time for me to grab some fresh fruit and a few bottles of vinegar and do some flavor experiments. Until I get them right, I’ve learned that I can order those fancy named specialty cocktails without the simple syrup. I don’t know why I never thought to request that before, but I tried it the other night and enjoyed my drink much more.

Sitting in the sun smelling fresh cut grass and sipping on refreshing tangy drinks with a small group of friends sounds heavenly. I may have to do it several days in a row. We only get a few weeks between too cold and too hot and humid. We have to make the most of them! Cheers!

https://www.pinkhousealchemy.com/shrubs/pineapple-rosemary-shrub

https://qz.com/quartzy/1380589/the-delicious-ways-that-we-drink-vinegar-around-the-world/

http://www.cooking2thrive.com/blog/spring-is-for-renewal-even-in-the-kitchen/

Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
ad