Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Just Mayo Prevails - A Story and Product Review

A few weeks ago I posted an article on facebook about a product called Just Mayo by Hampton Creek and the American Egg Board's efforts to take them down. Here's the gist...

Hampton Creek created an egg-free product -- let's call it sandwich topping -- that would compete with traditional mayonnaise. Compete? Well, sort of. "Just Mayo" as the product is called, is marketed to vegans, those with food allergies, and those who need to avoid eggs (for whatever reason). Nary an egg to be found in this product (or any other animal ingredients, for that matter). So the president of the American Egg Board (seriously, do we need to spend taxpayer dollars on promoting eggs?) sent e-mails declaring that Hampton Creek had to be stopped. It was basically an executive version of the Big Bad Wolf's, "We'll huff and we'll puff and we'll blow their house down." The product was declared a "crisis and a major threat," and Egg Board officials tried to get the product pulled from grocery store shelves.

I believe that a key problem the Egg Board Chief didn't acknowledge is that if folks like you and me couldn't find Just Mayo on the grocery store shelves we wouldn't choose traditional mayonnaise.  Instead, we would buy mustard, or make our own, or choose nothing. Okay, end of rant and back to story.

But Hampton Creek not only didn't give up, they went on the offensive by using the Freedom of Information Act to obtain the documents and give them to the press, resulting in a wave of support for Hampton Creek. The NPR version of the story can be found here.

There is the nasty lingering problem of the FDA, who (in their infinite wisdom) has defined mayonnaise as needing to contain eggs, and has sent Hampton Creek a letter saying they are in violation of FDA standards. Sigh... once again, our tax dollars at work.

Nevertheless, I am happy to be able to say that I have tried Just Mayo and I love it! Hampton Creek sent me a complementary assortment:

I must admit that I am a bit of a "mayo" snob.  (Am I still allowed to use that word? I'll put it in quotes to denote that I mean it broadly and not strictly defined, will that do?) Since writing my second book I have been making my own egg-free "mayo." In Allergy-Free Pantry I introduced Flaxseed "Mayo" and more recently I have been making "mayo" with aquafaba. I LOVE making homemade "mayo" or sandwich topping.

What I have learned from dozens of experiments and after wasting many gallons of oil is that at its core, "mayo" is an emulsion that must contain protein and fat. All other ingredients are for flavor and to help stabilize and/or preserve. Yes, in traditional mayonnaise that protein component is provided  by the egg white. In flaxseed "mayo" I used flaxseed eggs, in aquafaba "mayo" I used bean brine. Hampton's Creek solution in Just Mayo is to use pea protein. Love it!

Allergy-friendly sabdwich made with Hampton Creek's Sriracha Just Mayo, Yummy!

As promised, I tried sriracha first. It's just spicy enough without being overpowering. I love the creaminess and the ability to squeeze it right out of the jar. It makes a great sandwich and I can't wait to try it on a burger! And, I should mention that it's not only egg-free, it's cholesterol-free, dairy-free, gluten-free, soy-free, and contains no gmo's.

Let me know if you have tried it and what you think!

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Earth Balance Mac and Cheese - Product Review

Yes, I've been doing a lot of reviews lately. The good news is there are soooo many new products to try (yippee!). The bad news is that it's hard to keep up with them all. This is one I am very excited about.

I have been an Earth Balance fan since I started baking allergen-free. In my opinion, their shortenings and spreads are simply the best -- both in test and performance. I had high expectations for this complimentary sample of Earth Balance Gluten Free Vegan Cheddar Flavor Mac and Cheese.

Mac and Cheese was a staple in my house prior to food allergies. It was the ideal quick meal to prepare for myself and two young boys after a long day at work. One pot, limited add-ins, fast results.
Again, gearing up for high expectations from the Earth Balance version.

Of course, this mix contains no dairy, eggs, or real cheese. All you need to add is buttery spread (or shortening) and your favorite non-dairy milk. And it's gluten-free, the noodles are made from corn and rice flours. No top-8 allergens.

Like the traditional version, I was able to make this all in one pot:

I was delighted at how easily the powder mixed with the ingredients. No lumps or bumps.

I decided to add peas and tuna to make it a meal. (I know, no longer vegan and no longer top-8 free, but we don't have fish allergies here). It was indeed very tasty and I daresay, as close to the traditional as you can get. Kuddos to Earth Balance!

One slightly bizarre things I noticed was the number of servings per box, listed as 2 1/2. My sense was that it was closer to 2 servings. If I had sent this to my son in a care package to college he would have easily eaten it all in one sitting (with a steak on the side). He is an athlete, but my point is, the servings are small. Buy two boxes if you plan to serve it to the whole family.

Note that the gluten-free version come in the teal box (love that everyone is embracing teal!) The version in the gold box is not gluten-free.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

150 Best Spiralizer Recipes – Book Review

About a year ago I bought myself a spiralizer. What’s a spiralizer, you ask? It’s a gadget that allows you to make long, spaghetti-like strands or ribbons from zucchini and other vegetables. It’s a lot of fun and gives you many new options for how to prepare food.

But I was in a rut. I had been spiralizing (yup, that’s a verb now) zucchini, summer squash, and all types of potatoes, but not a lot more. So I was excited to receive a review copy of 150 Best Spiralizer Recipes by Marilyn Haugen and Jennifer Williams.

Oh, so many new ideas.

It had never occurred to me to spiralize carrots, but the first recipe I tried, Curly Zucchini, Carrot, and Celery Casserole, suggested I do just that. I struggled. My carrots weren’t wide enough to be secured in my spiralizer (despite using the largest carrots I could find). I resorted to using a vegetable peeler to make long carrot ribbons. The recipe was indeed delicious.

Next I tried spiralizing delicata squash to make Garlic and Herb Lemon Chicken with Roasted Spiral Squash. Again, I struggled. Once removing the seeds from the center, I no longer had a center point to attach the squash to my sprializer.

At this point I did a bit of research on spiralizers and discovered there is an entirely different style of gadget that might work better with these recipes than the Paderno model I have been using. While I might not be spiralizing everything, the recipes gets a big thumbs up!

There are fantastic recipes in this book for those with food allergies. Veggies take center stage (translation: healthy) and I love that the book is arranged by gluten-free, paleo, vegetarian and vegan, and raw food recipes. There are dozens that are top-8 allergen-free as written, and many that can easily be modified to be allergen-free.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Bars from Freedom Foods - Product Review

After too many experiences when I have found myself stuck in an airport, or in a location that is nowhere near suitable food, or even just in a car and stopping at a rest stop, and not having anything to eat, I always - I repeat always - bring snacks and breakfast when I travel. Often I choose to bring instant gluten-free oatmeal along on trips. It can be made with the water from the coffee maker in a hotel room, but these oat bars that Freedom Foods sent me to try are a great alternative:

They are top-8 allergen-free and sesame-free, gluten-free, and low in sugar. In addition to the cranberries and seeds variety that you see above (and what I tried below), they come in chia with apricot and apple cinnamon flavors. I love that they are low in sugar (just 6 grams per bar).

And these are no wimpy bars. That's a 6-inch plate the bar is sitting on. I don't think I will still be hungry afterwards. 

The real test, of course, is how it tastes. I love love love these bars. It tastes the way a breakfast bar or a low-sugar snack bar should. Just plain good.