With Christmas just around the corner, there's nothing I want more than to be spending my days in the kitchen, baking cookies and singing (yep, I belt out Christmas carols when no one's around). Unfortunately, I'm in the midst of finals, so there's been no cooking or baking of any sort this week. The only action the kitchen got was from my boyfriend making a ham quiche. Since I didn't have time, he made me a quiche (using my mushroom and leek quiche recipe) so that there would be something gluten-free for me at his friend's Hannukah dinner. It was very sweet of him, but also pretty funny how nervous he was. When I got off the subway, I had three frantic voicemails from him asking what tamari is. "Is it a spice? I can't find it! Is it going to ruin the quiche if I don't have it?" The final voicemail ended with this, "I know you find cooking to be fun and relaxing, but I don't. At all." Despite his nervousness, the quiche turned out wonderful. He simply replaced the leeks with chopped up deli slices of ham.
Since I don't have any recipes for you today, I thought I'd help you do a little holiday shopping. I love buying food for gifts. Christmas stockings are always stuffed with yummy goodies, and I think it can be fun to make themed food gift baskets, like filling one with gourmet pasta, sundried tomatoes, pesto, and cheese. Since gluten-free foods are very hit or miss, and are generally rather expensive, it can be hard to know what to buy. So if you're looking for something for a gluten-free loved one, here are some ideas on what's worth the money, and what you should leave on the shelf:
Gluten-free Hits and Misses
Bionaturae Organic Gluten Free Fusilli
Hit. I loved this pasta. It had such a great flavor that I would even eat it plain. And unlike other gluten-free pastas I've tried, it didn't dry out the next day. At $4.99 a bag, it's pretty expensive, so it's not something I'd purchase every day. But that makes it a nice gift for someone who might not otherwise purchase something so pricey.
Orgran Gourmet Natural Corn & Vegetable Pasta
Miss. Sorry, after trying the Bionaturae pasta, this just wouldn't do. It was very grainy and dry, and I had to use a lot of sauce to cover it. There's still half a bag sitting in my cupboard because I can't make myself eat it.
Liz Lovely Cookies
Hit. Warning: If you eat these, sugar coma will commence! Seriously, these taste awesome, but they come in packages of two, and who can eat just one? Not me obviously. I absolutely love these, but just a warning that if you eat more than one cookie at a time, you won't feel good after. Best to share these with a friend and save yourself the sugar overload!
Oskri Quinoa Bar
Hit. I picked this out of a giant array of bars one day because the ingredients looked healthier than most of the others. Luckily it also tasted really good! I generally stick to larabars since they have the least number of ingredients, but when I'm in the mood for something different, I'll grab an Oskri bar.
Brown Rice Snaps
Hit. I like pretty much every rice cracker I've ever tried, but this is definitely my favorite brand. I've been eating these since way before my gluten-free days started. I haven't found a flavor I don't like, and I never feel like I need something like a dip or slice of cheese to go with it. They're delicious as they are.
Pamela's Lemon Shortbread Cookies
Miss. I can't speak for other Pamela's products, but these cookies didn't do it for me. I think it was the combination of lemon and shortbread, or maybe it was just that "gluten-free" cookie taste that I didn't like, but these weren't very appealing.
Frankly Natural Bakers Wacky Walnut Brownies
Hit. Mmm....these are moist and chewy! Just like any good brownie should be! I love the walnuts in them too. They remind me of brownies my mom used to pack in my school lunch. Little Debbie's maybe?
Trader Joe's Gluten Free Pancake and Waffle Mix
Miss. Although the pancakes looked delicious, they were lacking in flavor. I swamped them in peanut butter and jelly, but even so, they were pretty boring. Definitely wouldn't buy them again.
Nana's No Gluten Ginger Cookie
Miss. This one made me sad because it looked so soft and chewy, but just crumbled apart as I tried to eat it. It was also way too gingery for my taste.
Mary's Gone Crackers
Hit. A great snack when I'm in a hurry and need something healthy. And I love that they come in individual packages too. Sometimes you don't want a whole box! Probably because I know myself well enough to know I'd eat most of the box. Individually packaged servings can be a blessing!
Tully's Cookies and Brownies
Hit. I wrote about Tully's delicious desserts a while ago, but in case you missed it, they're awesome! Most gluten-free desserts that you buy at a store taste a little off. They're not necessarily bad; they just don't taste normal. But these cookies and brownies tasted like any gluten-filled dessert...and I had my fair share in the past, so I know!
Envirokidz Organic Panda Crispy Rice Bars, Peanut Butter Flavor
Hit/Miss? The jury's still out. Has anyone else tried these? They basically tasted like rice crispies, but with a slightly strange flavor. I think it was the brown rice syrup, and I wanted to like it, but I didn't. It had the kind of taste though, that made me think it might grow on me. You know those foods, right? The first time you eat them, you don't like them. But for some reason you go back a second time, and by the third, you're hooked.
So that's it. I hope I've saved you from spending money on something that wasn't worth it. Or even better, introduced you to something new you'd like to try! Although, walking through the grocery store today, I realized how many products I still haven't tried! What have you tried that you think was a big hit or miss?
This post is linked to What Can I Eat That's Gluten Free? Linda also has a great post on gluten-free baking mixes for gifts. I haven't tried many mixes yet, so check out her post to see what she recommends.