Tribute to Zen Master Houdini

H-Sleepcheryl

 

We lost our beloved Hou about 2 months ago, and it’s still fresh. I look for him on a regular basis, and it seems impossible that he’s no longer with us.

hou hiding

It feels like he still might be right around the corner.

baby hou

He was sweetness, he was sunshine, he was beauty, he was joy….and I’ve posted on his goodness many times before.

hou loveHe was loved…and loving.

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and adored getting snuggles and pets.

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Genghis has had a hard time adjusting to the loss of his bro, which is totally understandable. There were attached at the paw much of the time.DSCI0393

and it’s hard for him to lose his best furry friend.

h and c

Houdini’s sweetness inspired me and filled my heart.

goodbye hou

I miss him. I’m eternally grateful for the beauty and joy he brought to my life.

hou shoe

and BTW, June is National adopt a cat month. Best choice we ever made! Just sayin’

Posted in cat pictures, cheryl's musings | 6 Comments

Gluten…seriously?

Have you ever looked at a product and said, “gluten….seriously? Why???” I know I sure have seen products I would have assumed were gluten-free, but they’re not. I rarely cross-post from my nutrition practice website, but I feel like this is important enough to share here, too!

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Happy Summertime!

There has been a lot in the press about a new study showing that many probiotic supplements contain gluten, even probiotics marked gluten-free on the label. Some contain more than the 20ppm, which is illegal. Obviously there’s a lot of concern, and Columbia University’s Celiac disease program has declined to share a list of the problematic probiotics. I personally think that’s highly regretful, especially given the FDA’s inability to regularly monitor supplements unless there is a specific, reported cause for concern. If this is something important to you, I’d encourage you to support Gluten-Free Watchdog. As many of you know, GFWD tests products for gluten, and they are currently raising funds to test probiotics for gluten, too.

It got me thinking about the sources of gluten that are less obvious. Most gluten-free veterans know all about the usual suspects, like soy sauce, vegetarian “burgers”, communion wafers, etc. If you or a family member need a review of label reading and a roundup of the rules, check out this new article in Simply Gluten-Free Magazine. Here are some products that people sometimes overlook:

Chocolate:lindt

Yes, chocolate.  It says on the Lindt chocolate bag that it contains barley malt, but when the truffles are individually wrapped and at the cash register, there’s no label to read. It’s easy to grab one without thinking.

And then there are companies like Godiva, which says directly on their website: “Does your chocolate contain gluten? ALL of our products including solid chocolate pieces may contain gluten. Any person with a gluten allergy should NOT consume ANY of our products.”

Well, fine then. There are a ton of gluten-free chocolate  fish in the sea….

Fudgesicles:fudgesicle

It’s summertime! Who doesn’t remember enjoying a fudgesicle on a hot day? Unfortunately many have malt powder. Since it says “malt powder” and doesn’t say “barley malt”, sometimes people miss it. Gotta say I love these from So Delicious, and I haven’t made the recipe from Elana’s Pantry yet, but plan to soon!

Tea: stomach ease

Because clearly the remedy for tummy troubles is a cup ‘o gluten. Believe it or not, a tea called “stomach ease” has barley malt. Often we assume that tea is just tea. Remember to double check!

Vitamins: These are New Chapter Brand multivitamins, and they’re marked vitamin minigluten-free. But…it says “Contains: Fermented soy and fermented wheat”. Huh? According to the FDA, “FDA is aware that sandwich ELISA methods do not adequately detect gluten in fermented and hydrolyzed foods. Because scientifically valid methods currently are lacking that can do so, we intend to issue a proposed rule on this issue.” Obviously, I don’t know whether or not this contains gluten…but the question is, does anyone? Until equipment can actually determine if there’s gluten in fermented foods, a product containing fermented wheat is a risk, and I recommend against it.

OTC medicationsadvil

Do you read labels when you’ve got a migraine? Most people are lucky if they can see straight, much less read labels. Advil Migraine contains gluten per their website, and it’s a good reminder to read labels for your OTC medications BEFORE you actually need them…Glutenfreedrugs.com is a fantastic resource.

Oats:bear nakednew

According to the research, pure, gluten-free oats are usually tolerated. If the package doesn’t say “gluten-free”, it’s a no-go. Lots more on the oat situation here.

Look alikes…

And then there are all of those lookalike products that have gluten-free and gluten-full products, like Rudi’s, Mi-del, Amy’s, Dr. Praeger, Evol, So Delicious, etc. It’s really easy to grab the wrong one.

This is just a short list, these are absolutely not the only products that trip people up from time to time. What products have you found that are surprising sources of gluten?

Harris Whole Health offers individual sessions, family sessions and group classes to help people eat healthier and feel better! Cheryl works with people to feel and look their best with a range of specialties, including Celiac Disease, food allergies, pregnancy, breastfeeding, vegetarian and vegan diets, preventing diseases and “whole foods” eating. Let’s get you on your way to achieving your goals. For an appointment with Cheryl Harris, Registered Dietitian and Nutritionist, please click here, email or call 571-271-8742

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An Open Letter to the Columbia University Celiac Disease Center

Dear wonderful Columbia Celiac Center Researchers,

First, thank you so much for studying gluten in probiotics. It’s a big deal, and something all of us were blissfully unaware of until last weekend. It’s gotten a ton of press, and gotten the Celiac community talking and worrying, largely because there is no list of the probiotics tested.

That’s where I’m really disappointed in the email I just got from Columbia Celiac Center which says:

We have not named each probiotic, principally because there is so much batch-to-batch variability based on prior studies of supplements that we would not be comfortable declaring any probiotic safe. We usually do not recommend probiotics in the treatment of gluten related disorders.

It is unfortunate that concerned patients are looking to us to police this issue, and we frankly do not have the resources to take on members of this large industry one by one. We hope that the public will direct this concern to regulatory authorities, who are ultimately the only ones with the ability to solve this problem.

Peter HR Green, MD

Phyllis & Ivan Seidenberg Professor of Medicine

Director, Celiac Disease Center at Columbia University

I totally understand not wanting to declare any probiotic safe. But why no heads’ up on supplements that have over 20ppm gluten, ESPECIALLY those labeled gluten-free?

Per the study abstract: “Of the 15 labeled GF probioitics, 8 (53%) contained gluten, including 2 (13%) that contained > 20ppm.

So…you found supplements that are illegally labeled, and the plan is…do nothing and wait for something to change?

Also, let’s get this straight: there are no effective regulatory authorities in the U.S.. The FDA doesn’t have the time, the funding, or the legal mandate to pursue testing every probiotic on the market for gluten. The DSHEA act limits the FDA’s authority to police supplements in an effective way, and that’s been in effect about 20 years, so this isn’t news. The FDA only has a requirement to test specific supplements that are implicated with problems. So, if Columbia released the list of problematic supplements, enough public pressure could force FDA to act and test those supplements. But releasing an abstract with no detail leads to no effective action…and no effective solution.

If this were looking for peanut contamination in a product labeled peanut-free, would there be any doubt that a list of problematic brands would be released?

So again, per your abstract,

“24% of patients with CD take dietary supplements, most commonly probiotics.”

Please, please look out for those people and release a list of illegally labeled supplements. I’m not asking you to police anyone or declare anything safe, just to make your info public, or at least the list of problematic probiotics.

If you release the list, I will personally bake you awesome gluten-free cookies in gratitude on the behalf of the Celiac community.

Oh, and happy Celiac Awareness Month.

Sincerely,

Cheryl Harris, MPH, RD

BTW, the email contact for Columbia’s Celiac Disease Center: celiac@columbia.edu

Posted in cheryl's musings, news | 3 Comments

DC Gluten-Free Expo June 7th & Coupon Code

A quick shout out for the upcoming 2015 Washington D.C. Gluten-Free Expo (coupon below)

June 7th, 2015 is the annual DC Gluten-free Expo at the Doubletree Bethesda Hotel. The Expo benefits the Children’s National Medical Center Celiac Disease ProCNMCgram in DC. Personally, I think it’s a great program and a wonderful cause, and I really appreciate how much CNMC has done to provide comprehensive, integrative care for children, teens and their families with Celiac disease in the DC Metro Area. Or, of course, you could go to the Expo because you get a ton of yummy food and free samples. Your call!

And I mean, seriously, people leave with huge bags of a ton of g-free samples. It seemed like the biggest problem people have had in the past is carrying it all home.

The official description:

Join Children’s National Health System’s Celiac Disease Program for the 2015 Washington D.C. Gluten-Free Expo on June 7, 2015 at the Doubletree Bethesda Hotel.

The Expo will feature an exhibit hall with more than 70 gluten-free vendors from across the globe! Each vendor will provide samples and/or sell their products. In some cases, the vendors will offer large discounts to purchase products at the event.

To buy tickets go to: http://www.dcglutenfreeexpo.com/tickets.html

Enter the code GFREEGOODNESS25OFF to receive 25% off your tickets!

To learn more about the Celiac Disease Program, go to: http://www.childrenscookingclasses.org/celiac-disease-program

Cheryl’s note: this is not a sponsored post from CNMC and I have no vested interest, financial or otherwise. I’m just a fan of the Celiac programs at CNMC.

I’m submitting this to Gluten Free Wednesdays, hosted by Linda at Gluten-Free Homemaker, Lynn’s Kitchen Adventures and Cassidy’s Craveable Creations.

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Ode to Almonds

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI love almonds. I make almond crackers. I add chopped almonds to green beans. An almond piecrust? Done and…and re-done. I put them in cupcakes, bars, cakes, muffins and coat ‘em with praline. They’re a must for the topping of my favorite apple crisp.

Of course, there’s the long list of the almond-based cookie recipes that I adore.

One of my most frequent afternoon snacks are Marcona almonds…and often a little almond squeeze packet if I’m on the go and don’t have a meal handy.

And yes, there were indeed Jordan Almonds at my wedding.

Does this feel like the shrimp speech from Forrest Gump, but just with almonds?

Nuts.com contacted me and said they were profiling the health benefits of almonds for Springtime. They’re not sponsoring this post, but thinking about my almond recipes was a nice nudge to pull together a list of my favorites. Obviously there are many metabolic benefits, like weight, cholesterol, blood sugar, etc.  but what I’ve learned with clients over the years is that people don’t choose to eat foods for health benefits, they eat them ’cause they’re tasty! So that motivated me to pull together this list of my top 5 favorites of the moment:cookies and milk

 

 

Divine Chocolate Chip Cookies

 

 

 

cheryl's pralines

 

Almond Pralines

 

 

 

mint3

 

 

Choco Mint Mini Cupcakes

 

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Hazelnut Cookies

 

 

 

 

chocbanpie

 

Chocolate Banana Mousse Pie

 

 

 

What are your favorite recipes with almonds?

I’m sending this to Gluten-Free Wednesdays, hosted by Linda of GF Homemaker, Lynn of Lynn’s Kitchen Adventures and Cassidy’s Craveable Creations.

Posted in recipe | 3 Comments

The Gift of Zen Master Houdini

houbear snugglesHoudini cat has throat cancer, and it certainly threw us for a loop. There were several scary weeks where he was struggling to breathe, and the vet kept saying nothing serious was wrong. It didn’t add up. Then came the biopsy and a surgery, the diagnosis, and here we are. Unfortunately, there are few treatments for throat cancer, and they’re really ineffective and seem to offer very poor quality of life, so we’re in kitty hospice stage.

I debated whether to write this post, because I have no doubt things will get harder soon. Right now, though, we’re in a peaceful, beautiful place, even if I know it won’t last long. During the biopsy they removed a big chunk of the mass, so little Hou can breathe easier and he’s closer to his normal, joyful and loving self.

It’s a blessing every day to see him, to hold him, to enjoy him. We generally live on happy houautopilot with the sense that life will last forever. Knowing that he’s likely got a few weeks has made the daily experience of being with him so much more tender and beautiful.

Death is a part of life, but in the past it’s always felt like a scary and traumatic thing. There’s that, of course, but this time there’s a silver lining, too, of treasuring the mini- honeymoon phase  we’re in right now. It was clear this afternoon that he’s just starting to decline again. Still, worrying about tomorrow is only going to take away from our joy today.

So right now, we’re celebrating Houdini, and slowing down to spend extra time together. His last gift for us is to let us enjoy his life more thoroughly while he’s here.

Hug the ones you love extra close.

Posted in cat pictures | 6 Comments

Comfort foods

When the going gets tough, the tough eat chocolate. But there’s a point where most of us *gasp* could use a break from chocolate or, at least, go for different chocolate variations. Here are some of my favorites that taste & feel like a big hug:

bananacake

 

 

Nana Skillet Bread (GF, CF, EF, SF, sugar free and vegan)

 

chocbanpie

 

 

Chocolate Banana Mousse Pie (GF, CF, EF, SF, sugar optional and vegan)

 

 

ooey

 

 

Ooey Gooey Chocolate Chip Pie (GF, CF, EF, SF, sugar free, vegan)

 

 

sniffle stew

 

 

Sniffle Stew(GF, CF, EF, SF, sugar free option and vegan)

 

 

 

curried kale

 

 

Kale and Beef in Chestnut Sauce GF, CF, EF, SF, sugar free

 

 

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Nightshade Skillet Meal (GF, CF, EF, SF, sugar free) Note: I now make this with a ton of fennel and leave out the nightshades, and it’s still one of my faves

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Creamy Garbanzo Soup (GF, CF, EF, SF, sugar free and vegan)

 

Wishing you and yours a beautiful Springtime.

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Review: Living Candida Free

curried carrotA long-time blogging buddy, Ricki Heller, just published a new book, Living Candida-Free, which was co-authored by Andrea Nakayama. It’s gluten-free, and like all of Ricki’s books, it’s vegan. I’m a big fan of Ricki’s and I’ve reviewed many of Ricki’s books, including Naturally Sweet and Gluten-free and I was even a recipe taster for Sweet Freedom (which is mostly gluten-free). I even “adopted” Ricki’s old blog, Diet Dessert & Dogs and did a review 7 (!!!) years ago–her blog is now RickiHeller.com, but the doggies are still there so it’s all good. Ricki has even stopped by here to offer her wisdom in our last Self-Care Retreat with some great suggestions.

Living Candida-FreeSo…I wanted to get a sample of the recipe options, so I made the Curried Carrot Lentil Soup and the Raw Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Truffles.

I love the soup. It was simple, easy, and gorgeous. (Picture above) The colors were wonderful, especially since all I had were purple carrots. I’ve re-discovered that I love curried lentils–I should make them so often, they’re so quick! The only change was that I added some fresh cilantro on top in addition to the cilantro cooked in. The leftovers were equally yummy, and there wasn’t enough leftover to freeze. Next time! I will definitely be making this again.

cookie dough trufflesThe Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough truffles are delicious and quick–and they have a secret ingredient. Okay, you twisted my arm, it’s beans. But you’d never guess. I found them really satisfying, and I ended up serving them au naturel rather than dipping them in chocolate because of time. But really, how can you possibly go wrong when chocolate is involved? Next time I’ll have to dip them.

I do have a confession to make. Half of the book is on candida and living well with it; the other half is recipes suitable for people on a diet to restore health after candida. I, of course, hopped right over to the recipes. It’s like any time I get a cookbook—I go RIGHT to dessert, and gradually make my way backward. So, um, it didn’t occur to me that I didn’t read the book-book part until, um, well, just a little while ago. So…yeah. More to come on that front shortly!

Posted in review | 2 Comments

Paleo: Fact & Fiction

I usually don’t weigh in on the pros and cons of the Paleo diet, because what I’ve found over time is that holding a nuanced opinion usually succeeds only in making most people angry. But since it’s snowing and I’m getting my slides ready for an upcoming webinar on eating Gluten-free and Healthy on March 18, 2015 I decided to post my annual research romp on grain-free diets. For the record, I don’t think I have a “side”. My job is in figuring out what’s best for each individual.

Proponents of the Paleo often really loudly proclaim that there’s a ton of science out there, and I’ve seen more than a few imply that it’s naïve to think otherwise. On the other hand, many quickly dismiss a grain-free diet as inevitably always harmful. As a research geek, I got curious. After a few Medline searches, and (excluding one study on pigs and another on satiety of a Paleo diet) I could only find 7 studies in total that examined a Paleo or Paleo-ish diet.paleo

DM=Diabetes, BP=blood pressure, HgbA1c=an average measure of blood sugar, Med=Mediterranean diet, CVD=cardiovascular disease, TG=triglycerides, MS=multiple sclerosis

If you’re used to looking at research, a few things jump out:

  • These studies are small—from 6 to 18 people, and most lasted a few weeks or months. Only one lasted a year. Ideally, studies have hundreds or thousands of subjects, and last years.
  • 4 didn’t have any kind of control group. Only one (Lindeberg, 2007) looked at Paleo vs the Mediterranean diet, and found that a Paleo diet provided greater benefits.
  • The O’Dea 1984 study is comically impractical in most places. The subjects lived as hunter-gatherers on wild game. Raise your hand if you can quit your job and hunt and gather your own food from now on. If your hand is raised, you may interested in knowing that the older versions of Joy of Cooking have instructions on how to skin a squirrel.
  • BUT even with all of these shortcomings, these results are still really, really intriguing. It’s hard to see a statistically significant change in a small group during a short time. This really SHOULD be studied more rigorously.
  • Specifically, it would be great to see which aspects of a Paleo diet seem to have the biggest health impact and which conditions have most benefits, if indeed larger studies show benefits.

Only having a few studies doesn’t mean something can’t or won’t work. It just means we don’t know much yet. It also doesn’t mean that you, as a human being, need to wait for science to validate your own observations. But the lack of robust research does keep nutrition recommendations from changing.

I’m all for people eating less sugar, soda, processed foods and empty carbs. I’d be hard pressed to find reasons to push a Twinkie on anyone. There’s lot of benefit in eating more veggies and fruit, and cutting way back on the fast food, and zero risk.

As for including beans or grains, from everything I’ve observed with clients, the impact on health is largely individual. There’s a goofy number of studies showing health benefits of beans and grains broadly, but again, they don’t examine a low sugar, unprocessed diet with and without beans and whole grains, and that’s the big question here.

Love to hear your thoughts! And please, only polite comments.

References:

  • O’Dea K: Marked improvement in carbohydrate and lipid metabolism in diabetic Australian aborigines after temporary reversion to traditional lifestyle. Diabetes 1984, 33(6):596-603.
  • Lindeberg S, Jonsson T, Granfeldt Y, Borgstrand E, Soffman J, Sjostrom K, Ahren B: A Palaeolithic diet improves glucose tolerance more than a Mediterranean-like diet in individuals with ischaemic heart disease. Diabetologia 2007, 50(9):1795-1807.
  • Osterdahl M, Kocturk T, Koochek A, Wandell PE: Effects of a short-term intervention with a paleolithic diet in healthy volunteers. Eur J Clin Nutr 2008, 62(5):682-685.
  • Frassetto LA, Schloetter M, Mietus-Synder M, Morris RC, Jr., Sebastian A: Metabolic and physiologic improvements from consuming a paleolithic, hunter-gatherer type diet. Eur J Clin Nutr 2009.
  • Jönsson T, Granfeldt Y, Ahrén B, Branell UC, Pålsson G, Hansson A, Söderström M, Lindeberg S. Beneficial effects of a Paleolithic diet on cardiovascular risk factors in type 2 diabetes: a randomized cross-over pilot study. Cardiovasc Diabetol. 2009;8:35
  • Boers I, Muskiet FA, Berkelaar E, Schut E. et al. Favourable effects of consuming a Palaeolithic-type diet on characteristics of the metabolic syndrome: a randomized controlled pilot-study. Lipids Health Dis. 2014 Oct 11;13:160. doi: 10.1186/1476-511X-13-160.
  • Bisht B. A multimodal intervention for patients with secondary progressive multiple sclerosis: feasibility and effect on fatigue. J Altern Complement Med. 2014 May;20(5):347-55
Posted in cheryl's musings | 5 Comments

The Ultimate Gluten-Dairy-Soy Free Chocolate List-Part 2

choc 2

Let’s play a word association game. When I say chocolate, if your first thought is ME! ME! ME! ME! this post is for you. I did a roundup of gluten, dairy and soy free chocolates last year and had so much fun, that I’ve updated and expanded the this with 12 more kinds of chocolate. Part 1 is here.amella

Amella: Vegan Gray Salt Caramels in 66% Dark Chocolate

Cheryl:9.5

Ingredients: Coconut milk, tapioca syrup, agave nectar, dark chocolate (unsweetened chocolate cane sugar, cocoa butter, palm fruit oil, cocoa butter, gray sea salt, lemon juice, sunflower lecithin. (all organic)

Certified Vegan, Non GMO Project Verified, Gluten Free Certified, Kosher Certified

This may truly be love. I got a two pack, thinking I’d share with my sweetie, and after tasting the first one, I realized, nope, too good to share. The outside was rich and just thick enough, the inside was sweet, creamy, moist and just about perfect for a caramel. I do wish they’d used a finer sea salt for the topping, but hey, that’s a small problem

The bigger problem: they do sell dairy-based caramel in boxes that look very similar to the vegan ones, so do be extremely careful. ALSO—although it is GIG certified GF, it does have a shared equipment warning for peanuts, tree nuts, milk, eggs, wheat and soy.sacred chocolate

Sacred Chocolate, Twilight dark 69%

Cheryl: 9 Erik 8

Ingredients: Cacao nibs, maple sugar, cacao butter, vanilla bean (all organic).

Certified organic and vegan, made in a facility that processes nuts. Per website/packaging, all products are gluten/dairy/soy free and GIG certified GF.

It’s not quite sacred, but I’d say it’s very, very good. It’s rich and creamy with a great mouth feel and it’s got a distinctive deep chocolate-ness. Even when I had a small piece, I was satiated and enjoyed it thoroughly. I’ve gone back for several other nibbles and been equally pleased. Actually, the more time goes on, the more I like it. The only reason it’s not higher is that it has a “flatter” taste than I typically prefer—I have no idea how else to put this into words, but I know it when I taste it, and it’s a personal taste thing, I think.

Equal exchange Dark Chocolate with almonds 55%choc almonds

Cheryl 8, Erik 8
Chocolate liquor, sugar, cocoa butter, chopped almonds, cane sugar, vanilla beans

Vegan, soy- and gluten-free. all organic, by weight 90% Fair trade content. Kosher.
May contain traces of milk, peanuts, hazelnuts, cashews, pistachios and pecans

Sweet, creamy, nice mouth-feel. Pleasant, enjoyable and all that good stuff. The taste and texture was much like Alter Eco’s since both had small pieces of almonds, but minus the bright aftertaste, so this was our preference.

Good Cacao Coconut Chocolate Cheryl 7 Mr. Dude 8good cacao

The packaging was a real turn off, so I was surprised when I really like this. When I see a chocolate advertised as a superfood with DHA, probiotics, marine phytoplankton and 170 Million-Year-Old Jurassic Sea Salt, it’s a wee bit over the top. But it’s tasty—quite tasty. The first whiff was not enticing, but the taste is rich, robust and balanced, and there are a variety of flavors including the coconut that give it an interesting feel to it. We both finished our pieces and I’m sure the bar will be enjoyed.

Alter Eco Almond 60%alter eco almond

100% organic certified ingredients, 88.5% Fair Trade certified ingredients, Non-GMO verified, gluten free certified, no artificial flavors.

Contains almonds. Made on equipment shared with milk, hazelnuts and soy.

Cheryl 8 Erik 7

I liked this—it was tasty, balanced, sweet, but not too sweet. The chocolate had a lovely flavor, and the almonds gave good crunch. There were small almond pieces vs the big chunks. E liked it, too, but he complained of a slight “bright” flavor. While I think I know what he meant, I didn’t see that flavor profile as a negative.

Pascha Organic Chocolate 70%pascha 70

Cheryl 4 Erik 7.5

Ingredients: cocoa mass, sugar, cocoa butter, vanilla (all organic)

Gluten/dairy/soy/nut/peanut free, vegan, no GMOs, dedicated allergen free facility.

I reviewed Pascha last time and hated it, while E liked it a lot. I’ve read a good handful of blog posts on it and so I wanted to give it a second try. To me, it’s chocolaty and creamy with a great mouthfeel, BUT the initial note of flavor is reminiscent of the smell of burnt tires. Erik thought it was really quite tasty. So maybe it’s just something I taste that other people don’t. I will use it in baking where the flavor is masked.

Theobroma Chocolate 80%

Cheryl 7, E 4

Ingredients: cocoa mass, sugar cane, cocoa powder, cocoa buttertheobroma

Allergens: may contain nuts, soybean and dairy.

Organic, fair trade certified.

Nice flavor and chocolaty-ness (chocolate-ocity?), and has enough sweetness for me despite the high cacao content. It feels a bit dry, though, which kept me from rating it higher. I often find dry chocolates pair perfectly with a cup of chai, so I look forward to giving that a go! E did not like this much. His first comment was that it tasted like baking chocolate. To be fair, he’s not a dark chocolate lover.

Chocolate Covered Cacao Nibs from Nuts.comcacao nibs

Cheryl 6.5, E 3

Ingredients: Organic cacao nibs, cacao liquor, raw cane sugar, natural sunflower lecithin.

Certified GF, USDA organic, Kosher

The dudes were intent on being in the pic…after fighting it, I opted to roll with it.

Okay, 1st I’ll say that I adore nuts.com…but these aren’t one of my favorites. The chocolate flavor is awesome, and they’ve got a nice sweetness as well. But the mouthfeel is funky, and there’s an aftertaste that’s unpleasant as well. I’ll definitely eat them, but I won’t be buying them again.jinji choc

Raw vanilla fig from JinJi chocolate :

Cheryl: 4 Erik:4

Ingredients: Cacao butter, cacao powder, coconut sugar, lucuma powder, almonds, mission figs, mesquite powder, unsweetened coconut, vanilla powder.

Raw, organic, vegan, gluten-free, no refined sugars.

This looked great, and I was excited to try it, but it didn’t live up to expectations. The cacao butter gave it a luscious, smooth mouth feel, but there was no chocolate *oomph* and I get chocolate for its chocolaty-ness! No need to finish this one for me, and E declined a second piece. I bet it would have promise with some cacao nibs thrown in but as is, not so much.kall

Kallari Chocolate 85%

Cheryl 3, E 3

We both had a piece, and we were chewing and waiting…waiting…and E said, “I’m still waiting for the flavor to kick in”. That summed it my experience, too. It was bland and I found it dry, too. Unlike many high percentage cacao chocolates, it was not bitter, but it also wasn’t rich or flavorful. I appreciate that it’s made by small farmers and fair traded, but I eat chocolate for the taste. I’ll use the bar I have in baking, and I’ll see if I can pick up the ~70% range to see if I like it better.

Rainforest Alliance Certified cacao mass, organic cane sugar, organic cocoa butter, organic whole vanilla bean

Allergen Info: May contain traces of soy, nuts and milk productschoc raw

Go Raw Real Life Chocolate Original

Ingredients: Raw organic cacao, raw organic agave nectar

Vegan, certified GF, soy free, real life food, certified organic, Kosher

Cheryl 3 E 4

They’re sweet, for sure, and there’s a nice cocoa flavor, but the lack of fat makes for a consistency that just isn’t pleasurable. As E put it, there’s a fudgy-consistency that’s somehow dry and desiccating. The agave has an aftertaste as well. Not a bad flavor, mind you, but just very typical of agave vs the more typical taste of sugar-sweetened chocolate. I’ll probably eat these sooner or later, but I would not buy them again.

Uli Mana Raw truffle balls: Cheryl: 1, E: 2
Ingredients: raw cacao powder, cacao butter, agave, cacao nibs, vanilla bean, celtic sea salt (raw/organic)

Organic, gluten-free, dairy free.

May contain traces of peanuts, tree nuts and other allergens.

These look cute, but neither of us were fans. They taste like cacao power mixed with agave, with an alcohol aftertaste. I took one bite and offered the rest to Mr. Dude, who declined. I threw it out, and didn’t finish the last. Possibly if I were stranded on a dessert island, probably still no. I didn’t like them at all.

So my overall list of winners from both lists:

Agree? disagree? Are there more chocolates that I simply *must* try for next time around? Leave me a comment.

Gluten and allergy claims are from the manufacturer, and subject to change!

I’m submitting this to Gluten-Free Wednesdays.  GFW is co-hosted by Linda of Gluten-free Homemaker, Lynn of Lynn’s Kitchen Adventures and Cassidy’s Craveable Creations.

Posted in cheryl's musings, review | 2 Comments