Daily Life, Review

Better Batter & Food Nostalgia

I had a moment last night. Well, a couple of moments really. One happened just after I’d finished filling my donut pan with some Better Batter chocolate cake batter. Almost as if out of instinct, I began to lick the spatula covered with the remaining drops of batter; something I haven’t done for a long time. You see, raw gluten free batter mixes are often decent but don’t quite hit the spot in the same way that those glutenous batters from my childhood did.

Better Batter is different. It literally tastes exactly like the chocolate cake batter that I used to eat way too much of. The consistency is smooth (not grainy like other gluten free mixes) and the chocolate taste is subtle enough to not be overly rich but it completely satisfies a sweet tooth.

There I stood in the communal kitchen, scraping the sides of the mixing bowl with my pointer finger until I’d finished off the whole thing. Good thing I’m not too paranoid about salmonella. I had a thought about how this action was so simple, yet so meaningful to me for some reason. Maybe it has to do with the fact that I thought I’d never eat (good) chocolate cake ever again when I first went gluten free. Maybe it’s just a nostalgia thing. Either way, it was a reminder that, at first look, food is such a small part of life but in truth, it is linked with so many memories-mostly happy ones. I mean, who isn’t happy while eating? Licking a spoon covered in chocolate cake batter was one of those small joys that I got when I was kid, so standing in my college dorm kitchen, 19 years old, licking that spoon as I did in my childhood was a slightly nostalgic, if not emotional moment.

The second moment of the night happened after the cake donuts had cooled and I’d “frosted” (with melted peanut butter) them. I took the biggest one off the cooling pan, put in on a plate, grabbed a fork, and sat down. Without doing anything but simply eating, I dug in, savoring every bite of this cake that tasted exactly like what I remember regular, not gluten-free cake tasting like. It was around 10:30 on a Friday night and I was sitting by myself in silence, eating some chocolate cake with a giant smile on my face. So simple, yet so calming and fulfilling at the same time.

I could’ve happily eaten every last cake donut, but I’d probably get a tummy ache, so I decided to leave the remaining ones out on a tray in the kitchen for my neighbors to enjoy-and enjoy they did! They were gone by noon the next day and I had several people going out of their way to tell me that they were delicious! That makes me feel good. Even if I didn’t make them from scratch.

Thank you, Better Batter, for not only making me look like an awesome baker to my neighbors, but for bringing me back to those simple food memories of my childhood that I had long forgotten about.

*Stay tuned for a Better Batter pancake review coming up!

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Review

Ener-G; Taking the Boring Out of Restrictive Diets

            
      First off, let me start by saying the people of Ener-G are awesome. I contacted them about my interest in reviewing their products and in a matter of about 30 minutes they had emailed me back, asking what I wanted to try. I replied, letting them know that all I’d love to try just a couple snacky type things. I was expecting a small box to arrive with just a couple small bags of snacks. However, what I actually received in the mail was a quite large box which revealed to contain stacks upon stacks of glorious snacks. 

Luckily, I got all of this right before a Glee and New Girl viewing party so I was able to bring all of these with me and share them with a group of non-gluten free eaters, making this review a little more rounded (people who eat gluten on the regular tend to be more harsh critics of gluten free food so they are great for getting honest opinions)! 

First things I tried were the pretzels; fantastic! I think the Sesame Pretzels were my preference over the regular pretzels, as they were a bit saltier and I love me some salt! The regular pretzels were awesome as well, though- let’s just say the entire bag was gone after two hours of tv watching; eaten up by gluten-eaters! These are really perfect for a sack lunch, to put in a bowl at a party, or just for snacking on while studying.

Next up are the Cinnamon Crackers. I expected these to be a little crunchier, as they are called “crackers”. The consistency is sort of somewhere in between a cracker and a puff pastry (cooked of course). They are certainly tasty though! They kind of remind me of those giant elephant ears I used to get at the fair (deep fried dough, covered with cinnamon and sugar. NOT real elephant ears. I don’t encourage or endorse the consumption of elephants.) At 10 for 100 calories, these make a great, quick snack, dipped into some Greek yogurt, topped with fruit, or even just plain. 

Ok, this one is absolutely my favorite, hands down. In fact, I wish I had one in my hand right now. Biscotti is one of those random things that are a little more difficult to find in an allergen free variety, so I was really excited to get my hands on these babies. The kind that the fine people from Ener-G sent me is chocolate with cranberry and white chocolate chips! The cookie itself has that homemade dark chocolate cookie taste and combining that with the juicy cranberries and white chocolate chunks- fan.tas.tic. Try these. 

These chocolate chip snack bars are quite good. They taste like an extra-sweet chocolate chip cookie in bar form. At 160 calories, I might not consider it the best snack, but great for a quick on the go pick-me-up or a good replacement for a candy bar. It is a little overly sweet for me (I prefer low-to-medium sweetness level), but I’ve definitely been nibbling off of these- after all… who doesn’t love chocolate chip cookies? 

Well, speak of the devil- chocolate chip cookies! Technically, chocolate chip potato cookies, but I prefer to leave the “potato” part out just cause it makes me think it will taste weird. But these taste quite good! The cookie is texture-wise, somewhere between crumbly and soft with an ample supply of chocolate chips. These are great when warmed in the microwave for about 20 seconds and topped with some Justin’s Chocolate Peanut Butter. Yum Yum Yum! 


All in all, I would call Ener-G one of my new favorites. I didn’t know much about them before sampling their products, but now that I have, I can say that I will certainly come back for more!


You can find their products at Kroger and Whole Foods stores nationwide, as well as at several regional chains and international chains. 

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Tips & Tricks

Lessons Mark Bittman Has Taught Me.

 

This is Mark Bittman. He’s kind of my favorite.

He is a food writer with The New York Times (author of the weekly column “The Minimalist”), as well as the author of what is possibly one of my most prized books, “Food Matters; A Guide to Conscious Eating”. He also happened to write a hefty cookbook by the same name.

I don’t think I’ve ever wanted to recommend a book as much as this one (maybe  in a screeching second after The Hunger Games). Not only am I eating healthier (or more “sane” as the man himself would put it), but I feel really science-y and smart when I’m able to shoot out fun facts about the food industry and nutrition- something that Mark writes about in an entertaining, yet eye opening way that makes you really assess your own eating habits and want to change it for the better. Best thing is, it’s not just about food benefitting the body- it also highlights reasons why the environment depends upon a healthier diet, AND why we can actually save money and time in the end by choosing healthier foods.But enough of my fan-girl rantings.

For those of you sillies who won’t go out and get this book right away, I thought I’d share some of the most valuable lessons I’ve taken away from Food Matters- a little taste tester of the book, if you will.


Eating Meat Kinda Sucks for the Environment

Eating the typical family of four steak dinner is a rough energy equivalent of driving around in an SUV for three hours. While leaving the lights on at home.


If we each ate the equivalent of three less cheeseburgers a week, it would cancel out the effects of all the SUVs in the entire United States.


Switching from eating red meat and dairy to eating chicken, fish, and eggs just one day a week is the equivalent (in greenhouse gas emissions) of driving 760 miles less a year. 


To reduce our impact on the environment, we need to focus more on eating foods that require little to no packaging, processing, or lengthy transportation- we need to increase our reliance on whole foods, mainly plant based foods. 


Cheap Soy, Cheap Corn, Cheap Lives.


Corn and soy are extremely dominant crops in United States; so dominant that America does not even grow enough edible fruits and vegetables for every person to eat our government’s recommended five servings a day. To achieve these full five servings, we’d be dependant on imported vegetables!

More than 50% of the corn grown in the United States is being fed to animals-who are meant to be grass fed- and most of the remaining corn is in junk foods, corn oil, and ethanol.

Forests are being destroyed in order to make room to grow more of these crops- meaning decreasing resources.

Despite the fact that a cow’s digestive system is developed to eat grass, mass “farmers” are feeding their animals with corn and soy due to the fact that grass is less efficient for animal feed when they are running mega-factory farms.


The Government Isn’t Really Helping that Much

The government spends close to $1 billion to buy commodities from farmers every year to help provide healthy and affordable meals to kids at school. However, according to a recent study by the USDA, school lunches routinely fail the government’s own nutritional standards.

In the 1970’s, the meat industry was taking a hit. The Secretary of Agriculture told discouraged farmers to continue growing wheat, feed crops and cotton, and ensured them that they would get paid for their work. This created overproduction and made farmers rich. Today, this costs taxpayers about $19 billion a year and only benefits about 3,100 farmers.

Someone has to eat all this food that is being produced, and producers made the plan to process their grains into profitable and easily transported things like animal feed, white flour, high fructose corn syrup, and oil. Therefore, junky food is cheap.

 
To get more information, please go check out Food Matters

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Daily Life

Catching Up

Annnnnnnnnnnd I’m back! Back to Denver, back to school, and (hopefully) back to a semi-steady blogging routine… I’m not gonna promise anything, considering my schedule can have days that are busy down to the last minute, and also days that I spend watching Gossip Girl in bed for hours on end. Like today. 


Oddly enough, I’m really happy to be back in school. While it is lots of fun to spend my life on Pinterest, YouTube, Facebook, Tumblr, and oh, I guess with my friends and family, I love being productive and feeling busy. I also like having excuses to go hang out in hip coffee houses which is something I guess I could do sans-homework, but it would feel awkward to just sit there by my lonesome and creep on all the cute hipster coffee addict boys. Oh, my life.

I took on a fairly light load this quarter- luckily, as I get deeper into my college years, my courses gear more towards my Communications major and Tourism Studies minor and less towards math and science (ick) gen-ed requirements. I’m taking Communications & Popular Culture, 20th Century Italian Culture and History, Hydrology (requirement, NOT by choice), and Anthropology; Social Networking. So basically, 3/4 of my classes involve lots of media studies (movie watching and book reading), yay! And 1/4 of my classes make me want to die (*cough cough* science), but that’s all good- I have a friend in that class so we whine about it together and that makes it a little bit better.

As for the blog, I’m gonna try to regularly post quick recipes and tips that I pick up along the quarter. This whole gluten free thing gets easier with time but there are always new experiences and things to learn- I’ll keep you updated!

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