Friday, February 19, 2016

Up the Creek WITH a Baking Paddle

Let's face it- sometimes some of the allergy-friendly products that we all encounter are downright disappointing. It is not only difficult to find products but it can be even more challenging finding brands that also taste good as well as offer ingredients that are good for you (because we all know that even gluten free and allergy-friendly products can be junk food). Don't get me wrong- all of us need a little somethin'-somethin' from time to time when we get cravings. Ultimately, it would be ideal to be able to combine our cravings with a product that has all of the components that we need.

I am happy to say that I was approached by one such company. After sharing my typical Sunday pancake day photos, I received an email from the owner of Clear Creek Natural Food. This company carries amaranth-based muffin and pancake & waffle mixes. As stated by the owner John Emrich, they recognized the need for gluten free products without the typical starches added (such as tapioca, rice, potato and cornstarch). This company's passion definitely shows through the correspondence that I received and after 14 years of finding products, meeting people and speaking to so many companies true passion to help others always gets an A+ in my book.

What They Have
They only carry three products (as of right now) but don't be fooled- less product means more love in each item. This includes Traditional Pancake & Waffle Mix, Light Pancake & Waffle Mix and Coco-Cao Muffin & Baking Mix. Need the ingredients? Simple click on the item above and it will bring you directly to the Clear Creek Natural Foods items page for each item (How's that for fast information!)

Pancakes, Flapjacks, Griddlecakes
Regardless of what your family calls them, I tried both of Clear Creek Natural Foods mixes. What I did was prepare the the Traditional mix with powdered egg replacer and the Light mix as directed on the package directions. I had inquired with Mr. Emrich on his thoughts about substituting the eggs and he was honest and felt they would not work as well. Let's see the comparison-

Eggless A bit thinner and flatter but absolutely tasty! I will warn that these have a slightly heartier taste and not the typical floury, pancake mix taste if that makes sense. On first bite, I was chewing like "I don't know if I like this" but then the flavor kicks in and YUM! For the eggless version, I added powdered egg replacer, raw honey, allspice, cinnamon, vanilla, coconut oil (I use Winona Pure) and a tad of baking powder with lemon juice to try to perk up the pancakes. I don't mind flatter pancakes personally but my picky eaters are just that- picky and visual.

As Directed Tried the Light mix and as you can see, they are much fluffier and thicker. The directions call for 3 eggs and I followed it completely (obviously a no-go for NutriSon with egg allergies but hey, a mom can eat). After first noticing the better thickness of these pancakes what I also noticed was how much of the egg I tasted in the pancakes. Now, in the hopes of not trying to make anyone angry, it is very possible that this is due to us not using eggs in most of our recipes because of my son's allergy to them. Perhaps my taste buds have changed but I do have a few more bags that I can't wait to try with maybe two of the eggs to see if it's a happy medium.

There's MUFFIN To It I have to say that NutriSon offered the muffin line ;) The Coco-Cao Muffin Mix directions calls for 4 eggs.....I am stubborn, I used egg replacer and one (4 ounce) applesauce instead. Did the muffins take a little longer to bake? Yup. Did they still look almost raw even though they were done? Yup. Were they the most absolutely most moist muffins I've had in a LONG while? YUP! The taste is subtle- not too overwhelming on the side of chocolateness but more of a melt in your mouth coco flavor. The ultimate test? NutriDaughter had a friend over and she is beyond a picky eater (like, BEYOND). You should have seen my huge smile in the kitchen when I handed her the muffin and said "Eat this" and she did. The whole thing plus another. Mission accomplished. I am that pesky Italian mother who must feed everyone but with a food allergy slant.

Extra Mom TidBits As a mom, there are details that I pick up on and like to share. They may not make much difference to any of you or maybe they will but sometimes what I think is a random thought may be very helpful to someone making the product. So, in no particular order:
  • You will notice the ingredients contain popped amaranth (cool!)- this also leaves the faint smell of popcorn in your kitchen. Fun fact: popped amaranth is actually a really healthy and easy popcorn snack replacement. I recommend researching how to pop it because I tried and failed miserably.
  • While mixing the batter, you may notice that it's very similar to that lovely product called Floam (that everybody gives as a party gift but nobody likes to receive due to the inability to remove it from many things in your home). 
  • Preheat your skillet or pan. These pancakes will cook faster and easier if the surface is preheated. The first few for me took a lot longer than your typical pancakes.
  • I recommend a skillet versus a frying pan. When I used a pan, the batter spread out too far for me to have multiple pancakes cooking at once which adds time in the kitchen, which then turns breakfast into brunch unexpectedly.
  • Just as most gluten free mixes are, there is an airy quality to the flour which tends to become airborne and spread over your kitchen surfaces far and wide. Open and pour slowly. Plus, you don't want to waste any of it.

These tidbits are not meant at all as a negative- just as observations.

Clear Creek Natural Foods I want to say thank you to John Emrich and Tom Whitney (who also reached out to me). This is a newer company that began with the purpose of helping other people eat healthier gluten free products. They recognized that more starches also tend to mean more sodium and less of the protein that we really need to keep our energy levels and metabolism optimal. You can find their information on their website or on their Facebook page.  Please be kind and let them know that Nutrimom sent you (I don't get anything other than a pat on the back for sending them some new people) and sharing is nice.

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