Well & Good cake mix

Product review: Well & Good all purpose cake mix

My goodie bag from the Gluten Free Expo contained a box of Well & Good reduced sugar all purpose cake mix. Even though I’m not a massive fan of cake I was excited to try it out mainly because it was my first time baking something out of a box. Luckily, it was my husband’s birthday so I had an excuse and many friends to share the cake with.

The cake mix is free of the 8 main food allergens and, as advertised, has some of the sugar replaced by stevia. The ingredients are: gluten free flour mix (rice flour, corn starch, maltodextrin, tapioca starch), brown sugar, non aluminium raising agents (450, 500), thickeners (1412, 415, 461), vegetable emulsifiers (471, 475), natural vanilla flavour, iodised salt, colour (caramelised sugar), spice (cinnamon), stevia. Two things to note: 1) if you have food chemical sensitivities you might want to make your cake from scratch, and 2) gluten free doesn’t mean healthy. Cake is cake.

The instructions are very easy: simply mix in a bowl with 3 eggs, 1/2 cup water and 1/2 cup oil using a wooden spoon, and bake.

Well & Co gluten free cake mix

There are a few suggestions of things you can add (banana, carrot, apple & cinnamon), but I added Alvaro’s favourite treat instead: frozen blueberries. The cake baked perfectly (in my oven it took less time than the minimum indicated on the box, so keep an eye). I decorated it with coconut cream & lemon icing and coconut flakes.

The macros per serve for the cake prepared plain and assuming 10 servings per package are:
Protein: 3.4g
Fat, total: 14.2g
– saturated: 2.0g
Carbohydrate: 34.6g
– sugars: 11.7g

The verdict? Taste-wise, the cake received 2 thumbs up from everyone. I thought it wasn’t extremely sweet, which is good, but I prefer my cakes moister and denser. Nutrition-wise, again: cake is cake.

Well & Good

Product review: Helga’s gluten free gourmet rolls

Even though I’m not a fan of gluten-free versions of processed foods (no, the fact that something is gluten-free doesn’t make it automatically healthy), I was very curious when I found out that Helga’s had launched their gourmet gluten-free buns in partnership with Chur Burger and Bar Luca.

I tried a couple of Woolworths stores but they were sold out. Then I tried QE supermarkets and found them there at a much higher price ($8.22 vs $6.99 in Woolies) but I was really keen on trying them.

There are 5 rolls per pack, which seems like an odd (no pun intended) number. The health claims at the front of the package read “Source of Protein, Source of Fibre, Wheat Free, No Artificial Colours & Flavours”. Source of protein, yes, a lot of foods (even fruits and vegetables!) have some protein in them. They don’t say “good source of protein” so I guess they’re not lying (the amount per roll is 5g, which is not a lot). Source of fibre, yes, 3g per serve, again not super high but greater than zero. Wheat free, check. No artificial colours & flavours, check but we’ll come back to this one later. Each roll has 27.7g of carbohydrate, of which 2.5g (roughly 1/2 teaspoon) are sugars.

Making gluten-free bread is tough. Gluten is the thing that makes dough elastic, so there are all sorts of ingredients that need to be added to gluten-free flours to attain the desired end product. The ingredients in the 5 seeds variety are: water, modified tapioca starch (1442), flour (rice, soy), seed mix (9%) (linseeds, sunflower seeds, toasted sesame seeds, poppy seeds, pumpkin seeds), maize starch, canola oil, sugar, quinoa, egg white powder, yeast, iodised salt, psyllium, cultured dextrose, white vinegar, stabilisers (412, 464).

Yes, high fibre, no artificial colours & flavours, but still a very long list of ingredients, of which some are “less natural” than others. If I could eat gluten with no problems I would prefer a sourdough roll made out of flour, water, salt and wild yeast. But I can’t and that is why I choose to eat gluten-free bread only once in a while and eat other less processed naturally gluten-free foods instead (meat and vegetables, for example).

We tried them with shredded chicken, celery & homemade mayo (the classic Peruvian “pan con pollo”), chorizo & American mustard (another popular choice in Perú) and cheeseburger (homemade grass-fed beef patty, tasty cheese, lettuce, tomato, pickle and American mustard). And because it was beautiful and sunny we had a rocket, watermelon & feta salad with balsamic reduction, extra virgin olive oil & pepper.

The buns are a bit crumbly (we didn’t toast them – that might help) but had a good taste unlike other cakey/crumpety ones. They also come in the white variety, which surprisingly has the same amount of fibre per roll.

Sandwiches with Helga's gluten free gourmet rolls

Helga’s Continental Bakehouse
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Product review: Healthy Everyday meals by Pete Evans

Now that some Woolies shops are stocking Healthy Everyday meals, I took the opportunity to buy a couple and sample them without committing to a big online order. These meals have been designed by Pete Evans and made by Paleo Cafe, which means they are free of gluten, added sugars, etc.

Healthy Everyday meals

One thing that had caught my eye from the website is that the meals stay good for way longer than other ready-made meals we sometimes purchase. This is because the meals are packed in vacuum sealed bags, which make them look less sexy (think hospital food) but increase their shelf life. This also meals that the range includes only foods that can keep well in this type of packaging, so things like salads are off the menu.

Healthy Everyday meals

We tried the BBQ pulled pork with pickled cabbage & sweet potato mash and the cottage pie with sweet potato mash & rich vegetable gravy. Despite the aforementioned “meh” look, both meals looked way better when plated and heated, and tasted even better. We found the serving sizes were decent (each one weighs ~400g, definitely smaller than our usual meals) and provided a good amount of protein and fibre.

BBQ pulled pork

I paid $13.50 for each meal at Woolies, more expensive than the price per meal if you buy directly from their website, but not necessarily if you consider shipping costs. I think the extra dollars over say a takeaway meal are worth paying considering the quality of ingredients and flavour.

Cottage pie

Healthy Everyday
Website

Product review: Green St Kitchen kimchi hot sauce

The makers of my favourite kimchis and krauts (see previous review) have a newish product in their line of fermented vegetable products: a kimchi hot sauce. It comes in a 280ml cough-syrup-style bottle. Be careful when opening it for the first time, as fermentation makes it fizzy. I’m glad I opened it over the sink.

Kimchi hot sauce

The sauce contains red peppers, tomatoes, ginger, garlic, red pepper powder, coconut sugar, sea salt and Korean miso… but don’t worry, it’s not as hot as it sounds! In fact, I found it pretty mild for my Peruvian palate. I loved the taste and would suggest you try it with different cuisines, not just Korean/Asian.

Kimchi hot sauce

Green St Kitchen
Website
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Product review: Peak Chocolate Bar by True Protein

Yes, this is a chocolate bar sold as a fitness supplement. This is the sort of thing that gets my coach fired up about the money-driven fitness supplement industry, but I could not resist and had to try it as soon as it got released. Given the ingredient list (80% dark choc, creatine monohydrate, BCAAs, organic caffeine, and Himalayan rock salt), I expected it to be at the very least a decent chocolate bar, even if it didn’t accelerate muscle growth and increase energy as promised.

Peak chocolate bar

Nutrition wise, each 25g serve (1/2 bar) provides 2.5g protein, 4.7g CHO (of which 3.6g are sugar), 70mg caffeine, 1.5g creatine monohydrate and 1.0g BCAAs. The bars sell for $5.90.

Peak chocolate bar NIP

So I gave it a shot pre-workout on 4 consecutive sessions. I loved the flavour and texture, which reminded me of other raw chocolate bars such as Loving Earth, but lacked the fruitiness of my favourite (Alter Eco 85%).

Sadly, I did not seem to get any of the advertised fitness benefits. Maybe I didn’t have the right dose, maybe I’m too old for these things to make a difference, or maybe I suck so much the difference was not significant. Either way, the chocolate was enjoyable as a snack.

Click this link to buy Peak chocolate bar. If you’re not sold on the idea of the choc bar, at least give their protein powders a shot; we use them regularly and can totally recommend them.

Product review: Fine Fettle Eats

I’ve been a Fine Fettle customer for several years now. Their flats have been a life saver when travelling, and an awesome healthy anytime snack. I’m always thrilled to try their new products at the farmers markets. This time the new kids on the block are Eats.

Fine Fettle Eats

Eats come in the universally recognisable instant ramen cups. After brief flashbacks of MSG-laden camping food, I picked up the cups to look at the label. These instant meals are based on dehydrated vegetables and contain no gluten, preservatives or oil. They are also vegan and contain mainly quinoa and legumes with different seasonings.

Vegetable & lentil

Mediterranean quinoa

Mexican quinoa

The contents come in a sealed plastic bag inside the cup, next to a small spork. In the photo below, you can see the three steps for getting your meal ready: inside the bag, out of the bag, in the process of being rehydrated.

Different stages

It takes 180ml of boiling water and 10 minutes to get these meals ready and I’m happy to report that they are exponentially better than ramen cups. I liked all flavours, although my favourite was vegetable & lentil, which was nicely seasoned with cumin and had a noticeable chilli kick. Alvaro found it too spicy and preferred the Mexican quinoa, which, unexpectedly, was the milder of the three. Mediterranean quinoa, with a distinct tomato flavour and a bit of heat, was my second favourite.

Ready to eat

At the time of writing this post, Eats are not in Fine Fettle’s website yet, so if you want to buy them head to Eveleigh farmers markets on Saturday mornings. I paid $5 per cup, but I’m pretty sure this is an introductory price only.

Fine Fettle
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Kooee jerky

Product review: Kooee! jerky

Jerky and macadamias are my go-to snack when I need something nutritious and portable. My favourite macadamias are Hand’n’Hoe (I buy them at the Eveleigh farmers market) but I’m still looking for the “perfect” jerky.

I was researching some things (read: wasting time) on the net when I came across Kooee! jerky, which caught my eye thanks to their short list of gluten-free, refined sugar-free ingredients. This jerky is made in Tassie using top quality Cape Grim grass-fed beef.

Smoked chipotle, sesame ginger

The current flavours are smoked chipotle and sesame ginger. I love the packaging, both visually and functionally. The serve is not huge but you can reseal the bag in case you don’t finish all the jerky in one go. The jerky pieces are the right size (don’t you hate when you get a long strip that is impossible to break down with your bare hands?) and, most importantly, very thin. This means that they are easier to chew and, in the case of the sesame ginger, crunchy. I absolutely loved both flavours but if I had to choose, I would pick the smoked chipotle, which was not very hot.

Smoked chipotle nutrition facts

Sesame ginger nutrition facts

I also got a sneak peek of new flavours that are in the pipeline: habanero and mountain pepper.

Habanero, mountain pepper

The habanero flavour is H-O-T, even for me. The heat overpowers the flavour if you eat these by themselves but I can imagine they would make a great vehicle for guacamole, for example. The mountain pepper was nice, with a more familiar jerky flavour.

Habanero nutrition facts

Mountain pepper nutrition facts

Out of the four flavours I sampled I preferred the two that are currently on the market (sesame ginger and smoked chipotle). A huge thanks to Andy for sending me the samples, and, most importantly, for his excellent customer service. I have found my favourite brand of jerky.

Head over to Kooee!’s website to learn more about this great beef jerky.

Saucisson Australia

Product review: Saucisson Australia

One of the most recent stallholders at the Eveleigh farmers markets is Saucisson Australia, selling premium French pork products such as fresh and cured sausages, and pork rillettes.

The saucissons come in different shapes and sizes but are essentially the same. The quality and flavour are outstanding, quite possibly able to beat your favourite Italian salame.

Saucisson

The rillettes are also great, and while the French recommend spreading it on bread, I normally enjoy it with celery and carrot sticks. The duck fat used for sealing the product is perfect for cooking eggs or greens.

Rillettes

We’re also big fans of the the Toulouse sausages, made with pork (97%), salt, black pepper, white wine and garlic. Yes, no fillers or additives, the way all fresh sausages should be.

Toulouse sausages

Saucisson Australia
www.saucissons.com.au
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Product review: Green St Kitchen fermented vegetables

There’s a new player in the fermented vegetable market. Green St Kitchen make kraut in 2 flavours (ginger + tumeric, jalapeno + allspice) and kimchi also in 2 flavours (white miso + dry red pepper, Thai chilli + galangal).

Kraut

I’ve tried the white miso + dry red pepper kimchi and the ginger + tumeric kraut ($16.95 each in Dr Earth) and loved both. Is there a difference with other brands of raw fermented vegetables? I don’t know, but my take is that it’s good to don’t stick to a single brand or flavour to get the most out of different probiotic strains and phytonutrients in the herbs and spices.

Kimchi

I was excited to learn that they have a hot sauce coming soon. Can’t wait to try it.

Green St Kitchen
www.greenstkitchen.com
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Product review: Bulletproof collagen bar

On our visit to Paleo Cafe Burleigh I noticed the new Bulletproof® collagen bars on sale. If you haven’t heard about the Bulletproof® diet or Dave Asprey head to his website: www.bulletproofexec.com to find out.

Bulletproof collagen bar

The ingredients in these bars are: organic cashew butter, Bulletproof® Upgraded Collagen Protein, chicory root fiber, Bulletproof® XCT™ Oil Powder, (Caprylic and Capric Acid Triglycerides sourced from coconut and/or palm kernel oil) organic cashews, organic Bulletproof® Upgraded Chocolate Powder (raw cacao powder), Bulletproof® Brain Octane (Caprylic Acid Triglycerides sourced from coconut and/or palm kernel oil), organic coconut oil, sea salt, stevia. The carb content is 15g of which 2g are sugars. Pretty good IMO.

Bulletproof collagen bar

The bar is on the dry side, which I prefer over the more chewy texture. The flavour was awesome and, while not as effective as a Bulletproof® coffee, it seemed to provide a bit of a buzz.

Bulletproof
www.bulletproofexec.com

Optimoz (Australian distributor)
www.optimoz.com.au