Tuesday, June 27, 2017

A Review of CVS Gluten Free Cookies

I don't know if any of you have been into a CVS store and noticed they have their own line of gluten-free snacks/cookies.

Because I love both vanilla and shortbread I immediately snagged a box of  CVS brand Abound Gluten-Free Vanilla Shortbread Cookies. I regularly buy the CVS brand of various cosmetic and skin care products and am MORE than happy with them.

Plus I'm a big fan of cookies. Even the sometimes rock hard Dare Coconut ones. But let's just cut to the chase.

The squirrels wouldn't eat them either.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Canadian Shake and Bake - Et j'ai aidé

Any of you over 50 who grew up in the US remember that Shake and Bake Commercial with the little girl with the thick Southern accent making dinner with her grandma with the words "And I helped!"

I've used Shake and Bake coating mix throughout my life on those nights as it's sort of a "comfort food" memory for me that the family likes.  I've even made my own DIY version to save money.  But there was one Shake and Bake product that was out about 10 years ago I really missed.  It was a GLAZE that was honey/mustard. It was really good on chicken and awesome on wings - only to be discontinued. I HATE mustard so the mustard flavor was beyond subtle, to me it tasted more like honey garlic.

I was seriously bummed.  My friends even requested it when coming over for cookouts where there would be wings.
Then this week, I'm over at the Canadian Favorites website ordering my quarterly fix of such products as Kraft Dinner (KD in Canada, a product that is way better than the U.S. versions of Kraft mac and cheese), Billy Bee Creamed Honey, Dare Cookies, and Canadian Coca Cola (which is made with sugar NOT High Fructose corn syrup like in the US) and I saw it -  Shake and Bake Honey Garlic Glaze.  A box of that SO went into my order.  I was afraid it would taste totally different than the original honey mustard, so I only bought one box, but it was just like the glaze I loved, though no mustard in the ingredients.  PLUS, absolutely NO fat and it's low in sugar.There's no MSG (though there are trace amounts of wheat, barley, and soy) and it didn't have a lot of chemicals or preservative type ingredients either. (that's another difference with the Kraft Dinner, the Canadian version doesn't have near the amount of "science experiment" sounding ingredients the US blue box version has).
The glazed chicken was a hit with my husband.  Working hard staining the new front steps, he's eaten four pieces of chicken in the last 18 hours and asked if there were any left. And even though I overcooked it slightly waiting on some stubborn cornbread to finish cooking it was still incredibly juicy!

Just like regular Shake and Bake you just put the seasoning in the provided bag, moisten your chicken (or veggie protein substitute) and bake until done. Directions are there in English and French.

Check out
I've always had great service from them, the products arriving UPS ground fresh and in good condition, and their prices are reasonable. I'm not Canadian but have a family member and two good friends who are so I developed some favorite products when visiting.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Acne and You - Reviews dot Com wants to Help

If you are like me  - you've bought many nutritional or beauty products due to a flash ad or hype or just on a whim, only to throw them out as it was either ineffective or aggravated acne, dry skin, or whatever skin issue you have. So you decide to do more homework next time which means valuable time from your day lost in Google.  I don't know about you but I have better things to do with what little free time I have.  Look, I'm an author which means book signings and interviews and tours and I have a full-time job as a federal agent (like on TV but without all the private jets and cleavage).  Plus I have two grandkids, an elderly dad, AND a millennial husband (which means time spent explaining to him things like "what the rabbit done died" meant in that 70's Aerosmith song).

So I want information that helps me make a good purchase in an easy to use format

There's a great website called  http://www.reviews.com/ that takes some of the guest work out of that as their team of experts are your unofficial "research partner" guiding you to the best products for your buck.

Everything they review they've tried themselves like I do with products I feature on my blog. They don't have fancy testing facilities but they do get their hands on the products, sometimes hundreds of them before making a determination of quality.  If that means brewing 500 cups of copy they are willing.

It saves ME having to brew 500 cups of coffee. (I have red hair - you do NOT want to see me with that much caffeine in my system).

For example  - let's say you have adult acne.  I don't but I DO use some salicylic acid products to help exfoliate.  Trust me, I threw away several before finding a Paula's Choice one I liked that didn't burn my very sensitive skin ("ow ow ow  - I think this has SADISTIC acid in it, not salicylic!")

What's worse than acne is those of you who are (ahem) older that don't want to turn your face into a desert in the treatment of it.

Research dot com did a great page of research on what the best products are for acne. You can see it

Wasn't that easy? So whether you are looking for acne treatment, sunscreen, whey protein powder or other health and beauty products check out their review dot com's website first.  It will save you a lot of time AND money. (You know so you can go meet your favorite author at a book signing :-)

Friday, June 9, 2017

Montreal Bagels - A Package from St.-Viateur



 MMMM.  My Montreal bagels have arrived.  What is that? you may ask.

The Montreal bagel is a distinctive variety of handmade and wood-fired baked bagel. In contrast to the New York-style bagel, the Montreal bagel is smaller, thinner, sweeter and denser, with a larger hole, and is always baked in a wood-fired oven.

Montreal bagels are still produced by hand and are usually baked in full view of the patrons.There are two predominant varieties: poppy seed and sesame seed.
Montreal bagels, like the similarly shaped New York bagel, have their roots in the Jewish communities of Europe. Food historians have allegedly traced the invention of the Montreal bagel to a trio of bakers who sold from a horse-drawn cart and eventually parted ways, only to end up founding the city’s two most venerated bagel shops, both still in business today. St.-Viateur and Fairmount. Montreal citizens are hardcore about their bagels to the point when a New York Style bakery opened up in Montreal it was out of business within a year!

The bagel dough includes egg and honey. Honey is also added to the water used for poaching the bagels before baking. I love honey and understand why jars of honey that are thousands of years old have been found in ancient excavated tombs in Egypt and at one time was considered a form of currency. When bagels are poached in this slurry of sweet honey and water, it adds something magical to the overall chewiness of the Montreal bagel as well as giving it its distinct color and crust.

The bagels are baked in a wood-fired oven which gives them their unique taste and texture, the fire licking each one gently so that each batch has its own unique hue, never overdone, never underdone. I like the handmade part as well, as we know the New York Style grocery bagels are made by giant machines with neither personality or souls (though my mechanical engineer husband would probably disagree).
Montreal-style bagel shops have opened in Vancouver, Ottawa, Toronto, Hamilton, Calgary and US cities such as Chicago (Reno Restaurant and Bakery), Seattle, Houston, Portland, LA, and Burlington Vermont (home to Myers bagels), though outside of that location you aren't going to find them many places in the Northeast US due to the popularity of the New York style bagel.
I discovered Montreal bagels when work took me to that beautiful city and I happened upon St-. Viateur Bagel Bakery, loving the slightly sweet, almost smoky flavor from the wood-burning oven they are baked in that you wish you could bottle up and sell on Etsy and the chewy texture that wasn't like biting into a big ball of carbs (my experience with most store bought bagels). Lightly toasted, I have one for breakfast almost every day.  Both area Bakeries, St. Viateur and Fairmount have their devoted fans, but I'm partial to the slightly plumper though still nicely smoky St. Viateur bagels.

They are also significantly less in calories, sodium, and sugar than grocery store bagels and a Montreal bagel with a simple smear of cream cheese or sugar-free jam keeps me full until lunch. Although they are available in Chicago, the restaurant/bakery that makes them is a pretty good drive from where we live and parking for my extended cab long bed truck in that very popular shopping and restaurant area is really difficult. So I was SO happy to see that St.-Viateur in Montreal now sells the bagels online to BOTH the USA and Canada. Sure, the shipping was a bit pricey but even so, they were a dollar less per bagel (even with shipping) than the local bakery that makes them and 50 cents less than a bagel with cream cheese at the local donut chain. To order - click on the link below.


St.-Viateur just advertises the poppy seed or sesame seed on the website, but if you call for a quote, they can also ship Whole Wheat, Flax Seed, No Seed, All Dressed, Rosemary & Sea Salt and Multi Grain bagels. (call toll free 1-866-662-2435)

Comparing a very popular grocery store New York Style Brand to the St. Viateur seed bagel.

Calories:   260           120
Fat:               1 gr.          2.5 gram
Carbs          52 gr.        20 gram
Sodium     460 gr.         5 gr (yes, only 5 grams, no salt is added)
Fiber              1 gr.        2 gr.
Sugars            6 gr.        1 gr.

They don't ship to the US every day so check their website when the next order day.  Certainly, if you are in Montreal fresh and hot IS the way to go and the neighborhood the original store is in is worth a trip. It's a safe, clean area where classic Montreal mingles with the contemporary energy surrounding Quebec’s major metropolis. The distinct spiraling staircases, old-school cafes and colorful alleyways offer an altogether unique look into the cultural tapestry that is Montreal.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Veggie Sandwich with a Twist

A Veggie sandwich can be more than cheese and cucumbers and sprouts.

Create with some sliced roasted chilled sweet potato, avocado, tomato, a slice of sweet onion (optional), a few sprouts, AND some mayo (or Vegan Veganaise)  to which you've added a pinch or two of lemon zest and poppy seed.  On a dense whole grain, lightly toasted bread, it's 3 degrees of yummy.

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Veggie Shepherd's Pie

It's almost summer-  but sometimes you want a nourishing "comfort food" meal.  This one is isn't "low fat" but made with fresh and leftover roasted veggies it has a LOT less fat and calories than traditional Shepherd's Pie.

Ingredients
6 medium Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and diced
Kosher salt
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 large onion, diced (or substitute celery)
3 large carrots, cut into 1/2-inch chunks
2 stalks celery, cut into 1/2-inch chunks
1 bunch baby turnips, halved or quartered if large
(I also added in a small handful of leftover roasted asparagus)
6 cloves garlic, minced (optional)
Freshly ground pepper
1/2 bunch fresh parsley, leaves chopped (stems reserved)
1 1/2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
3/4 cup chopped veggie burgers or vegetarian protein crumbles (optional)
2/3 cup low-fat milk
Grated parmesan cheese, for sprinkling (optional)

Directions

Preheat the broiler. Cover the potatoes with water in a pot; season with salt, cover and boil until the potatoes are fork-tender, 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a stovetop casserole dish or shallow enamel pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion, carrots, celery, turnips and garlic. Season with salt and pepper and cook until the vegetables brown, 8 minutes. Add 1 1/2 cups cooking liquid from the potatoes to the casserole dish. Lower the heat and scrape up any browned bits with a wooden spoon. Tie the parsley stems with twine and add to the casserole. Cover and simmer until the vegetables are tender, 8 minutes. Stir in the Worcestershire sauce, 2 tablespoons butter and the chopped veggie burgers and warm through, 5 minutes. Remove the parsley stems and stir in the chopped parsley. Keep warm.

 Drain the potatoes and mash with the remaining 3 tablespoons butter and the milk; season with salt and pepper. Place the casserole in a single dish or individual serving side dishes.  Spoon potatoes over the casserole (s). Sprinkle with parmesan, if desired. Broil until golden brown, 5 minutes.