SlimCado Review

Are these showing up in your local grocery store?

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It’s a SlimCado, Yo!

SlimCados are billed as having half the fat and 35% fewer calories than regular avocados, so when I saw them in the produce aisle I had to have one.

Spoiler alert: SlimCados aren’t new. They’re a 100+ year old variety that was given a marketing makeover.

In essence, they’re oversized avocados grown in Florida and they’re usually two to three times the size of what most of us think of as an avocado (that would be the Californian Hass variety). SlimCados have smooth skin and a large pit.

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And they are terrible.

Part of what reduces the fat and calorie content of the SlimCado is the water content, which is much higher than what we think of with regular avocados.

End result: SlimCados are watery and not creamy. Their flavor is bland. Take what you love about an avocado, subtract 90% of your expectations, and you’ve got a SlimCado.

I tried to make it work.

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I started by microwaving some asparagus spears and mushrooms, then added 3/4 cup of Egg Beaters. I cooked it in a round plastic container coated with coconut oil spray, which gave it a pleasing shape but probably poisoned me with innumerable endocrine disrupting chemicals.

I added slices of the SlimCado, salsa and crumbled feta to the end product:

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The SlimCado was so bad that I didn’t finish it.

And as an avid My Fitness Pal devotee, I am usually all about consuming and recording the calories.

Not this time, SlimCado. Not this time.

 

Cheap Thrill: Kids’ Bath Edition

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Trixie (6) and MGM (8) saw these Crayola Color Bath Dropz at Target a few weeks ago, and since it was in the middle of one of our frantic weekly trips where we race through the store, sweating and randomly tossing things into the cart, I didn’t see them among our purchases until we made it home.

Sigh.

We tried them out that night, and they were were a hit!

The Bath Dropz come in red (looks purple in the container, but they’re red), yellow and blue.

One will tint the water (and not the tub or kids, a very important point), but two or more really makes for a fun kid bath.

Our favorite combos:

  • 2 yellows + 1 red = bright orange
  • 2 blues + 1 red = deep purple
  • 2 yellows + 1 blue = grass green
  • 2 blues + 1 yellow = a gorgeous turquoise, similar to Caribbean water

At around $4 for 60 tablets, these were a cheap thrill. 

Gluten-Free Granola Bars

I had some leftover gluten-free oats to use after I recently made these gluten-free oatmeal fudge bars (rave reviews and gone in less than 24 hours, BTW).

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After researching some similar recipes, I decided to make my own gluten-free version of granola bars. I used my Vitamix blender, but honestly, a food processor would have been better since I needed to stop the blender and push everything down a few times.

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups gluten-free old fashioned rolled oats
  • 3/4 cup crunchy almond butter
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate flavored almonds (I used these)
  • 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup dried cherries

Directions:

  • Spray an 8″ x 8″ pan with olive oil or coconut oil spray and set aside.
  • Briefly pulse the almonds to coarsely chop; set aside.
  • Add the oats to the blender or food processor and pulse for a few seconds to roughly break them up.
  • Combine almond butter and honey in a microwave safe bowl. Heat about 20-30 seconds to soften.
  • Add warmed almond butter and honey mixture to oats and pulse again until combined.
  • Add chopped almonds, chocolate chips and dried cherries. You may want to stir these in by hand if you don’t want them to be cut into smaller pieces.
  • Press into prepared pan and refrigerate. *These have to stay refrigerated for best outcome.*
  • Eat and enjoy! This makes about 10 bars.

Full disclosure: I wasn’t completely sold when I first finished these. I tasted the mixture as I was pressing it into the pan and thought it was ok, but I wasn’t convinced it was worth the sticky mess in my blender. After refrigerating though, they were great, especially with a glass of cold almond milk.

These were so much better than any other granola bars I’ve ever had.

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P.S. This cute appetizer plate is from CB2.

 

 

Refreshing Drinks That Aren’t Soda

After I watched “Fed Up” last year, I almost completely stopped drinking soda.

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Even though I previously only drank diet soda, I was – and still am – concerned about the effects that artificial sweeteners can have on insulin levels.

Before this happened, I drank Fresca almost every day.

Yes, Fresca, the delicious calorie-free grapefruit soda with a cult-like following.

Surprisingly, this whole change was not too difficult. I’ve had a few sodas here and there (especially on vacation), but for the most part, I don’t miss it.

I’ve also discovered a lot of new drinks that are great alternatives to soda.

If you’re thinking about making the soda-free transition, try these:

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Photo from La Croix website

  • La Croix water. Hands down, this is my favorite drink. This brand started at a brewery in my hometown in the ’80s. At the time, the business let local residents fill gallon jugs with the same clean spring water used to brew beer. (Alas, no alcohol). La Croix launched circa 1981 and is now the best selling domestic sparkling water brand in the U.S. It’s zero calorie, zero sweeteners and zero caffeine. It comes in a huge variety of flavors, but I would recommend orange, passionfruit and coconut. The grapefruit is also good but less distinctly like Fresca.

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  • Spindrift seltzer. This is new-ish brand to me, but I am quickly becoming a huge fan. The grapefruit flavor perfectly captures the mildly bitter taste of a fresh grapefruit. This contains 15 calories per can, which I can live with. I might even like this better than Fresca.

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  • Cascade Ice. I tried this in grapefruit and was not impressed. It was not really flavorful and was barely sparkling. In Europe this would be referred to as “low gas.” There are supposedly 29 other flavors, but meh. I don’t think I’ll get around to trying them.

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  • Bai 5 Bubbles. This is a bit of a stretch of the definition of “non-soda,” since it contains sweeteners and caffeine. It comes in seven flavors, including pink grapefruit, which is delicious. I also tried blood orange (ok) and coconut (cloyingly sweet). Ok, this is soda. Feel free to ignore this one.

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  • Coconut water. This is a once in a while thing, since I don’t like drinking a lot of calories. (A rule that never, ever applies to wine).

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  • Kombucha. I wrote about this beverage last year, including the dichotomous opinions that describe it as either Rotten Hippie Tea or the Elixir of Life. While definitely an acquired taste, it’s something that I find makes a decent alternative to a glass of wine, although minus the alcohol.

Please let me know if you have other suggestions! I’m always on the lookout for the Next Thing.

 

 

 

 

Gluten-Free Oatmeal Fudge Bars

At the start of our recent trip to Alaska, we spent two days in Vancouver, BC, one of my favorite cities.

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My first trip to Vancouver (last fall) was full of so many delights, but one simple one was eating an oatmeal fudge bar at Starbucks.

OMG, are these good.

Growing up, my grandmother used to bake something exactly like this. She’d make a sugary oatmeal cookie dough, press some of it into a cake pan, add a layer of fudge and dab the rest of the oatmeal mix on top, bake and voila!

My contributions to this endeavor were to eat an obscene amount of the dough (fingers crossed, no salmonella – ever), generously sample the fudge, and of course to consume the finished product. Winning!

Having one of these last fall fueled my nostalgia and when we were back in Vancouver a few weeks ago, I meant to get another one.

Except I ran out of time.

(Don’t cry for me; there was more than enough vacation indulgence on this trip to last a lifetime).

Last weekend we were invited to a family picnic and I was determined to resurrect this treat, but this time, a gluten-free version that Trixie (with her severe celiac disease) could eat.

I started with this Rachael Ray recipe and essentially only swapped out gluten-free ingredients where appropriate. I also cut back on the butter.

Gluten-Free Oatmeal Fudge Bars

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 t vanilla
  • 1 t baking soda
  • 1 t salt
  • 2 cups gluten-free flour mix (I used this Pillsbury blend)
  • 3 cups gluten-free oats (these)
  • 1 bag semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk

Instructions:

  • Preheat oven to 350 F.
  • Combine butter, sugars, eggs and 1 t vanilla (ok, I used a huge pour because I like it vanilla-y) in mixer.
  • Add baking soda and salt; combine.
  • Slowly add flour, especially because the gluten-free variety is very fine and will spray everywhere.
  • Stir in oats.
  • Generously sample dough. Totally worth the risk of food poisoning.
  • Press about 2/3 of the dough into a 9″ x 13″ pan that has been sprayed with cooking spray.
  • Prepare the fudge:
    • Combine chocolate chips, sweetened condensed milk and 1 t vanilla in a microwave-safe bowl.
    • Microwave about 45 seconds and stir until smooth.
    • Taste a few times. This is an important step.
  • Pour the fudge mixture over the raw dough.
  • Dab small pieces of the remaining 1/3 dough on top of the fudge.
  • Bake 30 minutes.
  • Enjoy!

Here are a few shots of the action:

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See! I used the Kitchen Aid mixer at least once this year.

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Final product. I meant to take a more appealing shot of an individual bar, but then we ate them all.

The gluten-free products I used:

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This was my first time trying the Pillsbury flour mix, which contains rice flour, potato starch, pea fiber, tapioca starch and xanthan gum.

One of the reasons I’ve previously shied away from gluten-free baking is because a lot of other recipes individually require these ingredients, and there is just no way I am going to buy a whole bag of xanthan gum.

Another reason is that a lot of gluten-free flours have a gritty, unpleasant mouthfeel. This doesn’t.

An unsolicited review from Trixie when I was adding the oats to the mixer:

Ewww! That has granola in it! I hate those!

Her redaction upon consuming the finished product:

These are soooo good. May I please have two more? I just can’t help myself.

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I’ll chalk that up as a win.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gluten Free Double Chocolate Brownies

I need to give a serious shout out to these gluten free brownies:

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Trixie (6) saw them at the grocery store last week and really, really, REALLY wanted to try them.

I had to explain that they weren’t already in the box, we still had to make them (albeit with minimal effort).

And I often feel bad for her; she’s got terrible celiac disease and misses out on a lot.

But … a lot of gluten free baked goods are gritty. The texture’s off. They’re passable when you really, really, REALLY want a dessert, but well, it’s often just not the same.

So I wasn’t prepared to be wowed with these brownies.

Wrong!

The mix was pretty standard (add an egg, oil and water), and I purposefully undercooked them (~35 minutes when the box said 45ish).

They were delicious.

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My only gripe is that they make an 8″ x 8″ pan, so their total lifespan around here was less than 24 hours.

We’re already planning to make them again this weekend. Yum!

 

 

 

Gluten Free Biscotti Bites

Yesterday I posted about our recent cocktail party, where one of the desserts served was a bite-sized biscotti.

Calling these cookies a biscotti is a bit of a stretch, since they don’t have the double-baked technique that makes a biscotti a biscotti.

But the flavor and texture is close enough.

I originally got the recipe from Real Simple magazine, but when I tried to find it online, it was a ghost.

I had to modify the recipe to make it gluten-free, too.

Here’s what I did.

Ingredients: (Yield: about 30 cookies, depending on how much dough you eat)

  • 1 c buckwheat flour (despite the name, it’s gluten free)
  • 1/4 c almond flour
  • 1/2 t baking powder
  • 1/2 t coarse salt, plus more for garnish
  • 3/4 stick butter
  • 1 c granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 c shredded coconut
  • 2 T grapefruit zest (personally, I think orange would have been as good or better)
  • 8 oz bittersweet chocolate, divided
  • 2 T heavy cream
  • Sanding sugar
  • Flaky sea salt

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 350 F
  • Mix together buckwheat flour, almond flour, baking powder and salt
  • Beat butter, sugar and eggs until fluffy
  • Add flour mixture and combine
  • Stir in coconut, citrus zest and 4 oz of chopped chocolate (as chunky as you like it)
  • Generously sample dough
  • Refrigerate 30 mins
  • Continue to generously sample dough during chilling time
  • Roll into rough teaspoon-sized balls
  • Dip into sanding sugar (Turbinado sugar also works well. Steal some packets from your local coffee shop)
  • Bake 15-20 mins, until golden on the edges
  • Let cool completely
  • Melt remaining chocolate with cream to make a ganache
  • Dip cookies halfway into ganache and sprinkle with sanding sugar and flaky sea salt

Ok, these turned out great. Surprise! I pulled it off!

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With all of the other desserts at the party, there were a lot of cookies left over. I rectified that problem ASAP.