Hello Libre!

Do you remember Nonuttin? They’re by far my favourite gluten-free granola bars out there. Well, in early November they launched their new rebrand in Canada from Nonuttin’ to Libre Naturals. The name change reflects their growth beyond a nut free product. They are free of the 11 top common food allergens, including gluten, wheat, tree nuts, peanuts, eggs, soy and sulphites. They’re also vegan and non-GMO. A pretty amazing brand.

Libre Naturals Granola Bar

The best part is that they taste amazinggggg. I’ve had plenty of allergen-friendly granola bars and they’re either too small or tasteless. But these are the perfect size and they are just so delicious. The Chocolate Chip flavour reminds me so much of Quaker Chewy Chocolate Chip granola bars, which used to be one of my go-to purse snacks when I wasn’t gluten-free.

Along with Libre Naturals re-brand, they also launched a new flavour of granola bar, the Red Berry bar. The granola bar includes strawberries, raspberries and cranberries. It’s very good… I love it.

I used to buy these granola bars as single bars, which was kind of a pain as it would have been great to buy them in bulk, but now they come in five packs. So happy!

The line of granola bars includes four flavours: Chocolate Chip, Apple Cinnamon, Double Chocolate Chip and Red Berry. They’re all delicious, there isn’t one flavour I don’t like, but my top three favourites are Chocolate Chip, Red Berry and Apple Cinnamon.

They’re my favourite mid-morning snack. The bars are 110-120 calories, 18-19 grams of carbs, 4-5 grams of sugar and 2-3 grams of protein. and they’re the exact same size as Quaker Chewy Bars!

These granola bars are SO good that Libre Naturals has a risk-free online guarantee. If you don’t like their products, they’ll refund your purchase price within 30 days from the date of your order.

 

Libre Naturals Granola Bar

Libre Naturals also has delicious Oatmeal Cups. They’re of course gluten-free and also free of the top allergens. There are four delicious flavours: Pumpkin Seeds, Raisins & Spices; Apples & Cinnamon (which are both my favourite flavours); Blueberries & Cranberries; and Blueberries, Apples & Sunflower Seeds. I love these at work. You simply just add hot water, seal it back up with the lid and wait four minutes until the oats have absorbed all the water. They are the best!  They’re also all under 300 calories and 65 g of whole grain carbs per serving.

Libre Naturals Oatmeal Cup

A very cool thing about Libre Naturals is that they are pioneers in G12 testing. G12 is an amino acid strand that is found in a subspecies of pure oats, which is known to be a trigger for some with celiac disease. It’s great that Libre Naturals tests for G12, as it allows all celiacs to eat the oatmeal, granola and granola bars without any worry of reacting.

Check out Libre Naturals handy store locator to find out where you can purchase their products, or simply just buy online!

Have you tried Libre Naturals? What is your favourite flavour!?

This review is based on my experiences with Libre Naturals; however Libre Naturals has graciously provided the products free of charge as the only compensation for this review.

Gluten-Free Halloween Candy: What Can I Eat?

Another Halloween has come and gone. I hope you all got lots of good treats!

As kids, my sister and I used to dump all our candy on the living room floor and sort our goods into piles. Candy we loved, candy we’d share with our parents (which was candy we usually didn’t love…sorry Mom and Dad!) and candy that was no good. At that time, I never had to worry about what candy I couldn’t have.

Now as an adult I realize Halloween candy can be slim picking when it comes to what is allergen friendly.

Thankfully there are great websites that list all candy that is gluten-free, check out VeryWell.com to see what is safe to eat in your Halloween stash!

safe-halloween-candy

Why the teal pumpkin? The teal pumpkin symbolizes The Teal Pumpkin Project – an initiative to raise awareness of food allergies and promote inclusion of safe treats for all trick-or-treaters. Next year remember to support this project, check out the link here.

Gluten-Free Chocolate Cookie Truffles

The official countdown to Christmas is on – we’re only five days away!
Glutino Brownies and Cupcakes Last night we had our family Christmas party – with three out of our 13 family members who are gluten-free. I always love raising my hand to bring the treats and this year I decided to make everything gluten-free.

I used to make a variety of ‘gluten-full’ treats so that I didn’t have to make everyone eat my gluten-free creations (when I was the only one GF), but now that there are so many amazing alternatives to GF flours and mixes, baking gluten-free for everyone is easy and everyone loves it.

One of my favourite GF brownie mixes is from Glutino (Double Chocolate Brownies) – they make the most decadent, fudgey, flavourful brownies and they always seem to be a hit. I served brownies and mini Glutino Twinkle Sprinkle Cupcakes with buttercream icing to appease the chocolate and vanilla lovers in the family.

They’re both so easy to whip up and are the perfect treat to finish off a Christmas dinner.

Alongside, I served Gluten-Free Chocolate Cookie Truffles. These truffles are a rendition of the ‘Oreo’ Truffle, using Glutino Chocolate Vanilla Creme Cookies. They didn’t last long on the plate and everyone was so surprised how easy they were to make.

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Gluten-Free Chocolate Cookie Truffles

1.5 packages of Glutino Chocolate Vanilla Creme Cookies

1 80z package of cream cheese

1 package of semi-sweet baking chocolate

In a food processor, blend a package and a half of Glutino Chocolate Vanilla Creme Cookies until they are a fine crumb. Next, chop the cream cheese into small pieces and add in. Continue to blend until a smooth mixture is formed. Stick in the fridge for around 30-45 minutes until cool.

Once the mixture is cooled, scoop out and roll into one inch balls (or smaller). Stick in the freezer to chill for 25 minutes.

After removing from the freezer, in a double-boiler melt the semi-sweet chocolate until smooth and liquid. Drop the balls into the mixture and roll around with a spoon. Place on a parchment paper lined baking sheet to cool. Keep in the fridge before serving.

Gluten-Free 'Oreo' Truffles

The outer shell is a hard semi-sweet chocolate and inside is a gooey, rich truffle filling. They are amazing!

Gluten-Free Shortbread Cookies

When you think of Christmas, what scents or flavours do you associate it with? For me, peppermint and shortbread always come to mind.

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I eat my fair share of shortbread during the holiday season and I must say they are one of the best cookies to make gluten-free. Maybe because they tend to have more butter than flour…but regardless, they always seem to turn out with the exact ‘melt-in-your-mouth’ consistency as ‘gluten-full- shortbread.

My go-to shortbread recipe has always been ‘Grandma’s Shortbread’ on the back of the Fleischmann’s Canada Corn Starch box. It’s fool proof and also easy to turn gluten-free by subsituting wheat flour with a gluten-free blend.

Sometimes gluten-free all-purpose flour can be tough to use as a replacement for all-purpose white, wheat flour because the consistency turns out too tough or grainy. For example, Robin Hood Gluten Free Flour is awful for making shortbread. The consistency is super grainy and the flavour turns out almost sour – not a fan!

One of the best ‘cup-for-cup’ gluten-free all-purpose florus I’ve come across so far has been Glutino’s All Purpose Flour Mix. It isn’t grainy and offers a smooth finish to baked goods. I would definitely recommend picking up a box of this for your holiday treats.

I usually top my shortbreads with a Milk Chocolate Chipit, but with my last batch I chopped up Hershey Peppermint Bark Bells and topped the cookies with those. They add a minty, Christmasy flavour (they’re also delicious to eat on their own). If you’re not in the Christmas mood yet, you probably will be after these cookies.

Gluten-Free Shortbread Cookies

1 cup gluten-free all purpose flour (Glutino’s All-Purpose Flour Mix)

1/2 cup icing sugar

1/2 cup corn starch

3/4 cups butter (room temperature, or nooked in the microwave)

6 Hershey Peppermint Bark Bells (chopped)

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F and line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.

With a hand mixer (or stand mixer), mix butter until smooth and fluffy.

In a separate bowl, sift the gluten-free all-purpose flour, icing sugar and corn starch. Sifting the dry ingredients together enusres that there are no large clumps – it essentially aerates the ingredients.

Combine the dry ingredients with the butter and continue to mix with the hand mixer. YOu will then have to combine the ingredients with your hands to form a ball of dough. Chill in the fridge for 20 minutes and then roll one inch balls and place two to three inches apart from one another.

Bake for 10 minutes, top the cookies with the chocolate pieces and bake for an additional 10-12 – until slightly golden.

What’s your favourite holiday/Christmas cookie? Comment below to let me know for your chance to win Glutino coupons!

For an additional entry, follow @TheGutGazette on Twitter and let me know in a separate comment.

Triple Chocolate Gluten Free Cookies

What’s better than chocolate? What about chocolate times three…in the form of a cookie!?!

Gluten-free Chocolate Cookies

I am definitely in love with chocolate.  It’s rare I go a day without eating some form of the cocoa+sugar goodness. I know it’s not as healthy as having carrots every day, but moderation is the key to a balanced life and if chocolate is a contributor to my happiness everyday, then I don’t care!

Hershey was kind enough to send me a delicious goodie bag to review, so I decided to create a cookie that packed a huge chocolate punch. They sure do pack a punch! They’re very rich and taste like a brownie in the form of a chewy cookie. They are really delicious, even my non-gluten-free family loves them. The best part is that they remind me of the chocolate part of the gluten-full, Pillsbury, ‘ready to bake’ sugar cookies! I used to love those cookies…

These are super easy to make. They are essentially a shortbread base with cocoa powder and Hershey’s Chipits added to the mix. They are the perfect cookie to bring to your next holiday party, to woo your co-workers with or to package up and gift for a DIY Christmas gift.

Gluten Free chocolate cookies

Triple Chocolate Gluten Free Cookies

1 stick (1/2 cup) of butter (ideally room temperature, but if you’re in a rush, nuke it in the microwave for a few seconds)

3/4 cups gluten-free all-purpose flour (I love Glutino’s All-Purpose Flour Mix)

1/2 cup icing sugar

3 tablespoons Hershey’s Cocoa Powder (Natural & Unsweetened)

1/4 cup Hershey’s White Chocolate Chipits

1/4 cup Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Chipits 

Preheat oven to 300°F and line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.

With a hand mixer (or stand mixer), mix butter under smooth and fluffy.

Mix in the gluten-free all-purpose flour, icing sugar and cocoa powder, blend until fully combined.

Add in the Chipits and blend on low or mix with a wooden spoon.

Combine the dough with your hands and cool in the fridge for 10 minutes to allow it to set for easier handling. Once the dough is chilled, roll the cookies into one inch balls and place a couple inches apart from one another (the cookies do expand as they bake!). Gently press each ball of dough with the palm of your hand to flatten the cookie.

Bake for about 20-25 minutes.

Let the cookies completely cool before storing and/or serving.

*These cookies are also egg and nut free!

Gluten-Free Flatbread

I think I’ve mentioned this a few other times, but my favourite flavour combination is sweet and salty. I love adding sweet to a salty dish, I find it brings the flavours to different level.

Gluten-free flatbread

The best food combo is dates, prosciutto and goat cheese. The sweet dates compliment the salty prosciutto and the smooth goat cheese blends everything together perfectly. This flatbread recipe is perfect for an appetizer or a main meal and I will assure you it will be a crowd favourite.

Gluten-Free Date, Prosciutto & Goat Cheese FlatbreadGluten-free flatbread

2 frozen gluten free pizza crust bases (O’Dough’s has a good crust – this is what I used)
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
8 medjool dates, de-pitted and chopped
6 tbsp goat’s cheese
8 basil leaves, chopped
4-6 slices of prosciutto

Preheat oven to 400°F.

Place frozen crusts on baking sheet (they will defrost while they cook).

Top each frozen gluten free pizza crust base (or flatbread) with ½ cup mozzarella cheese. Next, top each crust with four basil leaves, spread around to cover the base. Top each crust with three tablespoons each of crumbled goat cheese and then sprinkle the chopped dates (four to each crust) and chopped prosciutto on top. Ensure the prosciutto is the last to be added, as it will become crunchy while cooking.

Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until cheese is golden and bubbly.

Gluten-free Halloween

One more sleep until Halloween!

I not only love Halloween for the surplus of chocolate, but I love dressing up. It’s fun to be something “different” for the evening or for a party. When I was a kid I used to plan my costume months and months before!

Wouldn’t it be neat if we could dress up to be able to enjoy all the gluten-filled candies like KitKat bars and Coffee Crisps? Only in our dreams, right? 

Fortunately there are a few gluten-free candies we can still enjoy. My top five favourite gluten-free Halloween candies are:

  1. Nestle Aero
  2. Cadbury Dairy Milk
  3. Maynard’s Wine Gums
  4. Maynard’s Fuzzy Peaches
  5. Chiclet’s Gum

Gluten-free halloween candy

What are yours?

National Oatmeal Day

I kind of love how there seems to be a celebratory day for everything nowadays. Why not celebrate the little things in life, right!?

Like oatmeal…

The top five reasons I love oats:

  1. Gluten-free oats exist – thank goodness!
  2. Oats make the best desserts – I love crumbles and crisps.
  3. Granola is one of my favourite foods. I like it with yogurt, on top of salad (try it!), as a dessert and straight from the bag as a ‘trail mix’.
  4. Overnight oats…they’re the best breakfast creation!
  5. Oatmeal is one of my favourite comfort foods. The smell is very nostalgic and reminds me of my grandparents house in the morning – they love their oatmeal!

I used to love Quaker Oats Chewy Oatmeal Bars…but sadly they aren’t gluten free. I always carried them around in my bag in case I needed a snack and I didn’t think they were too sweet or too crunchy. They were just the perfect combination of everything.

I had tried many different gluten free granola bars looking for the similar tastes and textures of my favourite Quaker Chewy Bars but it wasn’t until I stumbled across No Nuttin’ Granola Bars by Libre Naturals and found the gluten free equivalent (that was a great day).

They may not be exactly the same as Quaker, but they’re very close.

I just love them. They’re chewy, flavourful and similar in size.

The flavours include: Raisin, Apple Cinnamon, Chocolate Chip and Double Chocolate Chip. Apple Cinnamon and Chocolate Chip are my favourite. YUM – I am craving these as I type this review.

Gluten Free Granola Bars

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The unfortunate part is that they’re not very accessible. I have had a hard time tracking these bars down!

Many health food/specialty stores have them, but they’re not in the big grocery store chains yet.

Check out their store locator to find a store near you

I usually buy mine at FEAST on Queen St. W, but I’ve also found them at The Specialty Food Shop located in SickKids.

Not only are these bars gluten/wheat free, they’re also free of the top ten allergens. No eggs, fish, dairy, peanuts, tree nuts, mustard, sesame seeds, shellfish, soy, or sulphites. Pretty great eh? You would think without any of these ingredients they may be tasteless, but they are the total opposite – they’re amazing.

The only thing I would love is if they were sold in boxes of five or six – I’ve only found them to be sold individually.

Libre Naturals also makes amazing oatmeal to go. Pop off the lid and follow the instructions – which includes pouring in boiled water and letting it sit for a few minutes with the lid on – and voila, your breakfast is ready. The flavours are delicious and the oatmeal is nice and filling.

Gluten free oatmeal
Happy National Oatmeal Day, oatmeal lovers! What is/are your favourite thing(s) about oats?

The Perfect Lunch Bag Cookie

Vegetables in cookies…not the typical ingredient, is it? I’ve heard of parents sneaking veggies in mac & cheese or fruit smoothies for their kids, but veggies in cookies was a first for me.
I first learned about Hidden Garden Foods last year in an article by The Globe and Mail: Lawyer leaves practice to launch gluten-free cookies with hidden vegetables. Not only was I curious about what a ‘vegetable’ cookie tasted like, but I loved the fact that they were Canadian made and of course gluten free.


Catherine Anderson founded Hidden Garden Foods in 2012, in Horseshoe Bay, B.C., when she was struggling to figure out creative ways to sneak veggies into her children’s diet. She was kind enough to send me a variety of her cookies to test out and share with you. Hidden Garden Foods cookies are all gluten and nut free (which make the perfect school-safe snack), made of high quality ingredients, and are free of preservatives, artificial flavours and colours. 

I must admit, I was a bit hesitant at first. I didn’t think a chocolate chip cookie would taste as good with pumpkin added into the mix and I thought the overpowering taste of beets would surely ‘beat’ out the flavour of chocolate.

Beets + Cocoa
Red Velvet Bites

Each 40 gram serving of the Red Velvet Bites have 1/4 cup of beets. The flavour is amazing. You can definitely taste the cocoa flavour and there is a slight undertone of the sweetness from the beets – but not noticeable if you weren’t aware of the secret ingredient. I really enjoyed them. I love the fact that the rich red beets bring out the red velvet colour in the cookies without the addition of artificial colours.

 

Squash + Ginger 
Ginger Snaps

Ginger Snaps are probably one of my favourite cookies, they also remind me of the autumn and winter seasons. A serving of cookies is about four, which are each the size of a ping-pong ball. A serving includes 1/4 cup of squash. Trust me, you would never know there was squash in these sweet, spiced-ginger cookies. I loved these!

Pumpkin + Chocolate Chips
Chocolate Chip Cookies

Just like the above cookies, each 40 grams have 1/4 cup of pumpkin. Again, there was no inkling of any pumpkin flavour, just sweet chocolate. These were delicious and made a great accompaniment to my afternoon tea.

I’ve been able to find Hidden Garden cookies in a variety of health food stores, including Nature’s Emporium and Whole Foods. I would highly recommend trying these, they are a healthier alternative to your typical cookie and make a great snack or easy dessert.

Not only are these kid friendly but adult approved!

*Photos supplied by Hidden Garden Foods 

Chocolate Toffee Pretzel Crackers

Crunchy, sweet and salty – three wonderful adjectives.

One of the easiest recipes out there is ‘Saltine Cracker Toffee’ (chocolate, caramel crackers). I remember enjoying the treat when I used to be able to eat Premium Plus crackers, but until recently I wasn’t able to find a gluten free cracker that lived up to the salty, buttery crunch of saltines. Until I was introduced to Glutino Original Table Crackers, sent to me for review. Although not as salty as the traditional Premium Plus, they are three times the size and offer the perfect crunch (with no crunchy seeds or grains that many gluten free crackers contain).
One of my favourite toppings for Glutino Table Crackers – which may sound awful (but isn’t) – is to spread the crackers with a thin layer of butter and top it off with Marmite (known as Vegemite in Australia). For many North Americans, Marmite is not a common jar found in the pantry, nor is it commonly enjoyed. My mom, sister and I love this stuff though! It’s super salty and simply tastes like yeast, mmmm. At least give it a try if you haven’t already, you may really love it.
What is your favourite topping for crackers? Other than cheese?
 
The below gluten free ‘Chocolate Toffee Pretzel Crackers’ (aka addictive) recipe is the easiest dessert to whip up and a great gift to take as a hostess gift. Break it up, stick it in a large mason jar and tie with a bow!
Chocolate Toffee Pretzel Crackers (Gluten Free)
2 sticks of butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 8 oz package of milk chocolate chips
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil and spray with nonstick spray.
Arrange the Glutino Table Crackers in a single layer along the pan.
Place 2 cups Glutino Pretzel Sticks in a large bowl and use a wooden spoon to crunch into small pieces.
In a small pot, melt together the butter and brown sugar. Bring to a boil and stir until the colour becomes a golden caramel. Remove from the heat and pour over the crackers – covering evenly.
Stick the sheet into the oven and bake for 6-8  minutes until the sugar, butter mixture becomes bubbly (ensure to watch carefully). Once bubbly, remove from the oven and spread the chocolate chips evenly over the crackers – use a knife to smooth out the chunks. While the chocolate is still warm, crumble the pretzels over top.
Transfer the sheet to the freezer for around 20 minutes until completely chilled. The chocolate, cracker sheet will now be formed. Simply break off pieces and enjoy!
I warn you though, it’s highly addictive! It’s best to keep in the fridge to ensure the chocolate doesn’t get too soft…the crunchier the better.