Thursday, October 23, 2014

Foster Farms Review and Giveaway: Gluten free Nuggets, Tenders andCorndogs

Tuesday started like any regular day. Classes. Homework. And a message from the mail room announcing, "You've got a package." A sample goodie bag from Foster Farms was due to arrive and I flashed my ID with a smile - until the worker asked if I was walking back to Finch and laughed when I said yes.

I've gotten pretty good at the sample dance since my blog has reached adolescence. Give an address, receive, taste and review. But when my roommate and I unpacked three crates of corn dogs, nuggets and tenders, I couldn't stop laughing. By our calculations, at one point, we had 96 corn dogs in our dorm...Bri had no idea of the adventures that come with having a gluten free blogger for a roomie

Mountain o' boxes!
In the end, we acted like Foster Farms fairies and left a box of goodies tucked in several dorm's communal fridges. The best surprise ever apparently. On the note we left welcoming everyone to free food, some hungry soul scrawled, "God bless you!" Foster Farms changing lives one midnight snack at a time. 

Honestly, the chicken tenders and nuggets have been life changing for me. When classes invade cooking time and I walk into my dorm room starving, I can pop a couple in the oven for 20 minutes and dig in

The nuggets and tenders are hands down the best gluten free versions I've ever tried. They're perfectly spiced, packing a punch without overwhelming my taste buds. The chicken tastes fresh, the crust crunchy and evenly distributed, and though I can only vouch for oven baking, they aren't greasy at all!

I love them straight out of the oven, but I might even prefer them as cold leftovers on a salad with sautéed veggies and homemade pesto. And the uses for them are never ending - I even sprinkled them in my chicken pot pie. I devoured that huge 8X8 cake pan in about four servings! And you know it's good when 4 bags of chicken disappear in two weeks from the dorm's communal fridge - gluten and gluten free eaters alike! 

Pink Chicken Pot Pie, thanks to the beets!
Now, though, for Foster Farms' newest product: the gluten free honey corn dog. I'll admit that this wasn't my favorite, but corn dogs aren't my usual jam. Actually, when I bit into this corn dog two days ago, it was my first time. Poor sheltered taste buds. Even though I don't crave one every night, I can appreciate the quality of Foster Farm's newest concoction.

The infamous corn dog!
The chicken base of the corn dog tasted fresh and juicy and the ratio of meat to breading was spot-on. Just like the chicken tenders and nuggets, after 18 minute in the oven, the corn dog wasn't at all greasy. I also loved how the breading crunched with every bite. I'll admit that the honey flavor threw me off a bit, but I seem to be the outlier

On a bed of veggies...
Everyone I've talked to - even gluten lovers - is salivating over these corn dogs. In my dorm, I walked in on one girl enjoying her breakfast on a stick. And my boyfriend over in Wiley reports that the corn dog supply is running dangerously low and requests another shipment ASAP! 

This was one crazy food review - from the shipment to joining the realm of corn dog eaters - and now it's your chance to have a delicious Foster Farms adventure! On October 31st - that's right, Halloween! - I'll pick 5 random winners to receive a voucher for a free box of corn dogs to try for themselves! 

Maybe this bite will be yours!
Have at it, everyone! Maybe you'll be one of the 5 lucky winners to find a surprise waiting in your mailbox
*I received these products without charge to review, but my opinions are all my own!*

Have you tried any Foster Farms products? What do you think of corn dogs? Comment below! 

Thursday, October 16, 2014

I Scream for Banana Ice Cream!

A double chocolate brownie and two big scoops of any ice cream flavors chilling in the freezer...more often than not, that bowl of magic was my post soccer practice treat. Fast forward one year to a celiac diagnosis and a new dairy-dissing tummy, and my workout treats have gone bananas - in the best of ways!

As any of my Instagram followers know, banana "nice cream" has carved out a special place in my heart and my stomach. Dairy free, nutrition packed and adaptable to my picky taste's easy to see why I devour one huge jar everyday for my breakfast or post-workout snack. 

Be warned! Nice Cream can multiply quickly!
At popular demand, I'm finally dishing my tips to make a fruity frozen treat only a few melted drops away of passing Dairy Queen's "upside down ice cream" challenge! 

The base of any "nice cream" is frozen fruit and enough liquid to allow the blender the work. Although bananas - the namesake of this dairy free magic - are the typical poison of choice, I love stuffing my freezer with bags of various cubed frozen fruits - from strawberries to kiwi to peaches - and veggies to throw in my blender. I eloped with a Nutribullet six months ago and we are still in the honeymoon stage - this blender may be loud, but it's the perfect tool for thick, frozen smoothies! If you don't have a high speed blender, you can use fresh fruit but the result won't be as thick and frosty. 

My favorite kitchen companion!
I don't use exact recipes anymore when making my smoothies (ain't no college student have time for that!), but my base recipe looks something like this. I also refuse to eat a smoothie that doesn't need a spoon, so I include thickeners like chia seeds, coconut flour, avocado and yogurt. The amount of these can be adjusted based on the preferred spoon-straw scale. 

1 TBSP chia seeds (ground if smoother texture is desired)
A couple spoonfuls of yogurt and/or avocado
One heaping handful (or more if tolerant) of greens 
Handful of frozen fruit (chopped bananas, apples, peaches, pears, berries, grapes, etc) 
Optional extra veggies (beets, celery, broccoli, zucchini, squash, etc) - about half as much of these as fruit to keep the smoothie sweet!
Enough milk/liquid to allow blender to work (I prefer canned coconut milk - the creaminess is out of this world!)

I always pile it in!
My dad always sticks out his tongue when he sees my ingredients sprawled all over the kitchen counter, but every bite to me tastes like dessert!

But since getting the proportions of fruit-veggie-flavor extras can be tricky at first, I'm sharing the three flavor combinations - and one bonus nice cream parfait - that keep popping up on my Instagram homepage

First, berry beet. Until I few months ago, I'd never tasted a beet before. Red, round and usually dusted with dirt, I didn't exactly drool over them in the grocery store. Chocolate Covered Katie's idea to blend them into hot-pink smoothies changed all that! All I do to prepare mine is chop up a raw beet into mid-sized cubes, pop it in the freezer and add a handful when it's smoothie time!

Rockin' my favorite hamburger bowl!

The beet has a very mild taste, especially when paired with a handful of berries (any kind will work, though raspberries do pack a tart punch!), other frozen fruit, and my base smoothie recipe. Even a small piece, though, will make the nice cream as pink as a frozen flamingo. I recommend starting with a small amount of beets and adding as your taste adjusts. If you have acai powder, this is also a great add-in! Homemade acai bowls crash my breakfast party at least once a week!

One of my newer creations is the "citrus greens" smoothie that uses a couple of slices of an orange (peeled or non-peeled) and a small section of a lemon (start with a little then add more until flavor reaches desired level). This smoothie reps the typical "green smoothie" and I like to pack even more vegetables, like cucumber or broccoli, inside. 

Everybody wants a bite of my green smoothie!

Next, a holiday favorite: the cacao-mint! I love using Nativas Naturals Cacao Powder and add about an 1/8th of a teaspoon to a lot of my smoothies for a little chocolate oomph. I also recently scored a little vile of peppermint extract that gets my taste buds ready to sing, "Merry Christmas!" For an extra luxurious kick, throw some raw cacao nibs on top. Mint chocolate ice cream without the dairy and extra sugar? Here ya go! 

A bowl of YUM!

Finally, a favorite combination of mine - a nice cream parfait! The only difference is spooning and microwaving about 3 TBSP of oatmeal or oatmeal substitute (I prefer a blend of rice and buckwheat flakes with 1 tbsp of chia seeds for thickness) and cooking it in the bottom of the smoothie jar. Put it in the freezer to cool while making the banana nice cream, then pour the smoothie right on top! It sounds weird, but the combo of cold and creamy with slightly warm and gooey kills my taste buds every time...

Parfait magic!

Honestly, though, the options are endless. One day I'll dump in pumpkin spice and cinnamon and call it liquid pumpkin pie. Another morning I'll sprinkle in maca for a hint of caramel. Playing with the proportions of fruit is another way to change the flavor - I swear frozen blended blueberries and grapes taste strangely similar to chocolate!

To top off my ridiculous ice cream feasts, I've learned that there's nothing better than a little crunch. Puffed rice always lands in there, as well as homemade granola, tons of seeds (hemp, pumpkin and sunflower dominating the bowl!) and a final sprinkling of frozen fruits like blueberries and pomegranate seeds. 

Is there any ice cream under those toppings?

Some people think I'm crazy for spending so much time preparing and beautifying my frozen breakfasts and snacks - but I eat with my eyes as well as my tummy, and with these nice cream masterpieces, both are more than satisfied

Join in on the "nice cream" Instagram fun! Post your favorite creations and tag "collegeceliacKC" in the comments! Winter may be coming, but lets get everyone screaming for ice cream! 

What your favorite flavor of ice cream? Have you ever tried making nice cream before? Comment below! 

Friday, October 3, 2014

Celiac Connections

Lately, I wish I could wear a camera around my chest so I could share every wonderful moment of my life as a sophomore at PLNU blog readers. Honestly, I can't remember the last time I have been so consistently happy. And I owe it all to the connections that have weaved a blanket of joy over my life. 

19 started off a great year!
For those who joined the party and started following me on twitter, my interview with GFree Radio is old news. News that has finally stopped flooding your feeds anyway. When asked for an interview last summer, it didn't take much to persuade me. The chance to hear a British accent directed my way? Sign me up! 

The differences that popped up during our conversation were the real surprise. It ranged from the simple - What is 80 degrees Fahrenheit in Celsius? Heck, don't ask me. I'm no math major! - to the complex. They're universities, not colleges. We have a meal plan (though I fought to be released from mine) and they don't

Celiac, American vs. British edition!
Yet, despite the differences, we were also connected by the gene that turned "gluten free" into a lifelong medical prescription. The major lesson that stuck with me after I hung up? No matter if you spell it with an "o" or "e," celiacs all over the world do the same gluten free happy dance at the grocery store. Check out my interview here.

The connections have also been local,. Two weeks ago, I ventured out into Downtown San Diego for my first baseball game! The Padres played (and beat) the Giants, but even better than the game - which I am admittedly clueless about - was the chance to spend time with my gal pals. 

Petco Stadium!
We talked summers, future plans and story writing - anything but the game, basically. And when I pulled out my smuggled jar of oatmeal - a celiac's gotta eat! - nobody gave me a second glance. A random dance off by the baseball field cleaners tends to do that. 

Me and the gals
As for my food - I've never felt more blessed. My garden is in full bloom -  I'm harvesting a few baby strawberries weekly and my other seedlings are finally popping up! 

My kitchen escapades are kicking just as much bootyFreedom for the caf has pushed my culinary experimentation to the max. So far, egg-free, dairy-free, gluten-free pork pesto pizza, cod stew and chicken pot pie has all landed on the menu. I'm (finally) gaining weight, loving what I'm eating and learning more cooking techniques and favorite recipes every week. 

My new fave: chicken pot pie!
And, although balancing 17 units of classes (cough cough, Linguistics), a social life (now featuring a certain boy), and a blog hasn't been easy, the motivational comments and company support has skyrocketed! I check my email every morning and new comments never fail to make my day. As for company updates, this week was full of food sampling adventures

Thanks to the generosity of Modern Oats and Foster Farms, two more product reviews are in the near future. My roommate had no idea what she was getting into when she took a gluten free blogger as a roommate...

It's raining corn dogs!
When I started my sophomore year at Point Loma Nazarene University, I knew I wanted it to be a different kind of year. Less celiac and more Casey. More friends and fun to balance out the (ridiculously pricey) books. For the first time, though, I feel like the trees I adore on my nightly walks around campus. I'm rooted in my school, my fellow students and my fellow celiacs from all around the globe

Tying yourself down to causes and communities is scary. It takes time, it takes work and a hermit lifestyle is definitely a whole lot less complicated. But, it's worth it. I'm living (and loving) proof

Have you ever talked to people with  celiac or food allergies from a different country? How do you feel connected to the world?