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Modern Table Meals NEW Meal Kits and Bean Pastas

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Modern Table Meals is a line of healthy, yummy, and easy to make pasta meal kits. Everything you need is in the bag! this includes thr bean-based pastas, dried veggies, sauce + seasoning to customize the flavor to your tastes. 

For many, myself included, cooking dinner on busy weeknights can be a challenge some nights. While it is tough, I don’t want to sacrifice nutrition and quality just to be able to have the convenience of making something from a box, a frozen pizza, or worse, picking up something greasy and unhealthy at a fast food restaurant. This is where Modern Table meals come in. These meals are SO fast and easy to prepare and are full of quality, gluten-free ingredients that make you feel like you are getting a meal made from scratch. The best part? They don’t have a bunch of chemical ridden preservatives and “fake” ingredient. I love that the ingredients are things I know and that the ingredient list is minimal.

I was first introduced to Modern Table Meals back in June when I tried the ITALIAN bean pasta and veggie kit. In addition to this kit Modern Table Meals offers 4 other gluten free meal kits: Mediterranean, Southwest and the newest additions to the line, Homestyle Mac & Cheese, and Pesto. 

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I like the heartiness of the pasta, but be ware it does have a very different taste and than your traditional pasta and the consistency is also much denser. This is not a problem for me, I actually enjoyed the flavor of the pasta, but Jeremy did not. I was surprised by how much I liked the Mac & Cheese and how fresh the flavors tasted. But I LOVED the Pesto with Citrus Herb Seasonings. Yum! And dinner was ready in less than 20 minutes, even better! 

For those who like to get creative in the kitchen, Modern Table Meals also sells just plain bean pastas! All 3 bean pastas – Mixed Lentil Penne, Confetti, and Lentil Penne – offer the perfect start to any pasta dish. The pastas are made from Green & Red Lentils, and the confetti is also made with black beans. I love that the pasta is something different then just the traditional brown rice or corn gluten-free pastas you often find on the market. These lentil and bean pastas are nutrient dense, full of flavor and an excellent addition of fiber in your diet. They are also a great addition of plant based protein with 12-20 grams of protein and 5-7 grams of fiber per serving, and are full of vitamins your body needs. 

Confetti Pasta Nutritional Info
Confetti Pasta Nutritional Info

All products are vegetarian. The bean pastas and two of the  meal kits, Southwest and Teriyaki (not gluten free!), are vegan. You can find Modern Table Meals at stores throughout the country, including Whole Foods and Fairway, and online

Modern Table occasionally offers big discounts via their social media sites, so please consider following them on the social media site of your choice so you can keep an eye out for these discounts. Modern Table on Facebook | Modern Table on Instagram | Modern Table on Twitter.

Disclaimer: I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free.  Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I was not paid to write this review. 

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Product Review: Tolerant Foods Gluten Free Red Lentil Pasta

Are you ready to hear about a gluten free product so tasty, so unique, so healthy and so rich in protein; you’ll forget about what good old wheat pasta tastes like?

Tolerant Foods brand new single ingredient gluten free pastas is just that. Made from non-GMO organic black beans or red lentils, their rotini, penne, and fettuccine noodles offer off-the-charts nutrition in a bowl of very flavorful pasta.

Tolerant recently send me a box of their red lentil penne to try. But before I get into the review I want to talk a little but more about the product, and why it is so great.Screen Shot 2013-11-03 at 10.19.38 AM

Each bowl of Tolerant legume pasta offers a whole lot of protein. The pastas have 400% more protein than any competing product on the market. With 21-22 grams of protein and 13-15 grams of fiber per serving, Tolerant is a powerhouse meal, and will up the nutritional profile of any meal you pair them with.

Each cup of Tolerant legumes equals 1 cup of vegetables, providing you with many vitamins and minerals, and contains only 6 (red lentil) or 10 (black beans) grams of sugar. IMG_5207The red lentil penne tasted different than ‘regular’ pasta; it had a richer flavor, more like whole grain, something I haven’t had in a while!  The pasta was denser than your average gluten free pasta that is made from rice and/or corn. And, it did not get mushy like many other gluten free pastas do. We really enjoyed both the texture and the rich flavor.IMG_5210

The cooking instructions say 8-10 minutes, but we cooked it for 12 minutes and there were a few pieces of penne that did not cook through. This was our only complaint— the pasta did not cook evenly. Some pieces were cooked perfectly while others were still hard. IMG_5208

I highly recommend trying Tolerant’s pastas and I know I will be adding these into my diet. The pastas are a fantastic way to sneak iron, fiber, protein, vitamins and minerals into your next gluten free dinner.

Tolerant’s legume pasta is made in a gluten free and nut free facility. Because Tolerant products are made from a single ingredient, they provide an excellent option for people dealing with any of the top 8 food allergies (eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, seafood, fish, soy, wheat, and dairy), not just those with Celiac or gluten intolerance. The pastas are also certified kosher and vegan.

You can order Tolerant pasta online here. (Buy in bulk, you will pay less per box if you do that!) I also just got word that Tolerant pasta will soon be available at select Whole Foods locations!

Disclaimer: I received these products for free to sample and review for my blog.  I was not paid for my review and all opinions are my own.

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Review: Cook Simple Gluten Free Meals – Healthy Home Cooking Made Simple

cooksimpleI love cooking. But let’s face it, after a long day at work and either a quick trip to the gym or running around town doing errands, who really wants to spend the time and energy to cook a meal? One solution is Cooksimple. Cooksimple offers a line of inexpensive and budget-friendly gluten free meal kits made from all-natural, whole foods and no added sugars.

Cooksimple was founded on the principle that people will eat healthier if doing so is tasty, easy, and accessible. Cooksimple has designed a product line to do just that by removing the largest barrier for most people: the lack of time to cook at home. These meal kits are a breeze to prepare, and are flavorful, satisfying, and inexpensive, all the while delivering superior nutrition.

I recently had the opportunity to try a few products from this line. The instructions were simple, and in under 30 minutes I had a complete meal ready to feed a family of five!  What I truly appreciated about these meal kits is the back of the box. Where it shows clear pictures of the ingredients you’ll need to buy. Also listed, are suggestions for variations and substitutions. Each meal requires you to buy 2-3 extra ingredients, such as ground turkey, canned tomatoes, chicken, shrimp, sausage or tofu. Some of the ingredients (soy sauce, eggs, olive oil, and canned tomatoes) I already had in my pantry, as most people probably do too. All of the meal kits are vegan on their own, and can be prepared with tofu, beans or other vegan meat alternatives to satisfy vegetarian and vegan diets.IMG_2349

Cooksimple meals have a lower sodium content than most boxed meals. This is a huge plus for me, not only for health reasons (too much salt is not good for anyone) but I also because I tend not to like to add much salt to my meals. These meals have about 50% less sodium compared to other boxed meals, and also rank higher in nutritional value and higher in fiber.

Cooksimple is all about making life easier, not weight loss. But it’s clear that they value nutrition and healthy ingredients. Cooksimple is sold in over 3000 stores across the U.S. and the full product line is also available for purchase online for $4.99 each. To find a location near you click here.

There are nine diverse and globally-inspired kits available including Tamale Pie, Cowboy Chili, Asian Burgers, Skillet Lasagna, Cranberry Wild Rice, Punjabi Curry, Tibetan Dal, White Bean Chili, and New Orleans Jambalaya.

tibetan dalThe Tibetan Dal is classic savory Indian dish with aromas of cumin and turmeric, a hint of cilantro, and can be enjoyed as a meal or a special dip. This meal kit only required the addition of canned tomatoes and olive oil – super easy and super flavorful. IMG_2369

My favorite meal kit, by far, is the Asian Burgers. This savory recipe adds an Asian inspired twist to traditional burgers. The box suggests adding ground turkey, soy crumbles or beans. I added a mix of black beans, pinto beans, artichoke hearts and mushrooms which I chopped in a food processor before adding them to the oat and spice mixture of sesame seeds, onion, garlic, ginger, orange peel and sea salt.  The burgers were delicious and moist, and smelled heavenly while cooking. The box also includes a package of rice, which for being ordinary rice, was also exceptionally flavorful.

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The white bean chili was anything but mundane. The spices – chili powder, pepper, paprika, onion and garlic – are strong. Made with pinto, navy and kidney beans, I also added shredded chicken breast. I opted for water, not milk, but I think the milk would have helped cut the intensity of the spices. For a vegetarian dish, add more beans or tofu.wbc

The classic New Orleans Jambalaya was surprisingly lacking in flavor, and I needed to add more of my own spices. I was expecting a spicy dish, but this was just lackluster. Using Andouille sausage will give it the kick it needs to kick the spice factor up a notch. If you use precooked shrimp do not add them until the very end. The shrimp only need a few minutes to cook and if you add them at the beginning, like the directions say, they will be overcooked and too dry.IMG_2364

So how do these meal kits really stack up against other boxed meals?

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Stouffers is the highest in calories fat sugar sodium but also high in protein. stouffersSimply Asia noodle bowls are also high in calories and sodium! simplyasia

It isn’t often that I find a gluten free product free of preservatives and additives that is healthy and super tasty! I definitely recommend buying a few boxes of CookSimple™ to keep on hand for those nights that you don’t feel like cooking.

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Product Review: Mediterranean Snacks, a healthier gluten free way to snack

medsnaxMediterranean Snacks On the Go Single Serve Packs are perfect for today’s on-the-go lifestyle. These single serve snacks offer all-natural wholesome snacking in many different varieties.IMG_3041

The Baked Lentil Chips are extremely light, airy, and crispy just like potato chips, but are not nearly as salty or greasy. Better yet, they have 70% less fat than potato chips and are just as crunchy and satisfying. The flavors are exceptional! A wonderful blend of spices and herbs give these snacks a vibrant flavor. The Sea Salt is my favorite. The Firey Tomato had notes of garlic, basil and hot chilies, but, per usual, were too spicy for me. The Cracked Pepper had a unique flavor with the added kick of black pepper. Other flavors include Cucumber Dill, Parmesan Garlic and Rosemary.

These baked lentil chips are a delicious low fat, smart snacking choice. Along with being gluten free certified and all-natural, they are also a good source of fiber, made from protein rich, nutritious lentils and non-GMO. A single serving contains 22 chips and only 110 calories.

Mediterranean Snacks tapa 2 go is a gluten free mini meal solution that combines a single-serving pouch of Sea Salt Lentil Crackers with a substantial portion of wholesome hummus in a convenient, portable package. Available in three hummus flavors including Classic, Red Pepper, and Roasted garlic, these too are gluten free, and vegetarian friendly with 7 grams of protein, and 250 calories or less per serving.IMG_3044

The Sea Salt Lentil Crackers are baked with all natural ingredients and are also made from lentils. Lentils are among the world’s healthiest foods and are high in protein, iron, vitamin B1 and essential minerals. The sea salt crackers are incredibly tasty with a rustic and heartier taste than the chips, and satisfy my carb craving without the guilt of eating something unhealthy! The flavor is mild at first, becoming more robust with every  bite.  These are perfect on their own or an excellent match for the hummus. Other flavors include Rosemary Herb, Cracked Pepper and Tomato Basil.

Click here for a $1 coupon and to search their products by dietary need: gluten free, dairy free, low fat, kosher, vegetarian, vegan and so on.

Disclaimer: I received these products for free to sample and review for my blog.  I was not paid for my review and all opinions are my own.

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Addis Red Sea: Gluten Free Ethiopian Food

For my birthday Jeremy took me to Addis Red Sea in the South End. Offering authentic Ethiopian fare, Addis Red Sea specializes in delicious cuisine that “actually reflects true Ethiopian culture.” addis

Stepping into the dimly lit dining room, we felt like we had entered another world. Colorful tapestries and rugs were scattered throughout the room, and displays of traditional Ethiopian décor and photographs lined the walls.

IMG_3143We sat on wooden stools around a low wicker table called a mesob. IMG_3141Whatever you order – the spicy vegetable and chicken wats (stews), chopped salads, the sautéed tibs of lamb and beef – is served on one family-style platter with injera; a traditional Ethiopian bread. While each guests ordered his or her own entrée, the meals are collectively served on one communal platter.  You won’t find any silverware or plates here, as the injera is your untensil. IMG_3167Injera is the hallmark of Ethiopian food. Everything is served on this bread; from the appetizers and salads, to the main dishes. Injera is made from teff flour, an iron-rich, gluten free grain that grows in Ethiopia. At Addis Red Sea, you can request the gluten free injera for extra $5. This is the true injera; dark in color, and made from 100% fermented teff flour. The lighter version you will see many of the other diners eating is a combination of wheat and barely (because it is cheaper to do it this way).

Tip: Call ahead, especially on busy nights, to make sure that the gluten free injera is available.

To eat, you leisurely tear small pieces of injera, and use the porous bread to pinch bite-size servings of your meal. The best part is scooping up and devouring the sauce-soaked injera that also serves as your plate. Injera has a sour, nutty taste and spongy texture.

Addis Red Sea’s diverse menu offers many types of dishes, including chicken, beef, lamb and fish, as well as many vegetarian and vegan meals. Most importantly, many of the menu options are gluten free. With the expectation of a few appetizers, gluten is not present in many of the dishes.

Our meal began with a hot cloth so we could wash our hands and two glasses of Ethiopian red wine. We tried the Gouder, a medium bodied slight dry red. I enjoyed the wine and it was similar to merlot—not as exotic or different tasting as I was expecting! IMG_3142We shared two appetizers. First we tried Ye-Miser Salata; a warm lentil salad with onions, green peppers and herbs. It had such rich flavor and a hearty texture.

Next we tried Dibulbul Tips; stir-fried marinated ground beef mixed with onions, green peppers, and herbs. The description was misleading, it was not a stir-fry, it was actually a beef patty. The patties were small, dry and not very flavorful. I would not recommend ordering this one. IMG_3145For our entrees we shared the Atakilt, made with mixed vegetables—green beans, potatoes, carrots and onions – and sautéed in a blend of exotic herbs. The assortment of herbs and spices in this dish were subtle and mild, but nonetheless incredibly flavorful. IMG_3147For our second entrée we ordered Yegeb Alcha; lamb simmered in a mild sauce of butter, onion, ginger, and tumeric. The meat was incredibly tender and savory. This dish was on the spicer side, but was absolutely delicious.

The food here is simple, but not bland, and there is nothing pretentious about Addis Red Sea. It’s a great place to go and share a meal with friends or family.  Right now, there is a Groupon Deal, half off dinner for two or four including one appetizer and one entrée per person. Get it before it’s gone!


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Second Location: 1755 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge

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Gluten Free Cashew Butter Lentil Granola Bars (vegan)

Yup, you read that right – I put lentils in my granola bar. Don’t make that face! You can’t judge until you try them, and I promise you won’t be disappointed.

Tomorrow I am taking a 6.5 hour road trip to Hershey Pennsylvania for my friend’s bridal shower, and I wanted to make a healthy snack for the drive.

I wanted to make something easy with the ingredients I have on hand., I really wasn’t in the mood to run out to the store. I just bought a bag of red lentils at a Turkish Grocery in Brighton and I love eating lentils in dishes like curries, stews, salads and red lentil hummus. So I thought why not granola bars with lentils? After browsing a few recipes, I didn’t have all the ingredients for one single recipe. So I made up my own and I love it! My friends liked it too!

Ingredients:

1 cup dried red lentils
2 – 2 1/4 cups gluten free rolled oats (I used Bob’s Red Mill)
3/4 cup cashew butter (or other nut butter, such as almond butter)
1/2 cup unsweetened coconut flakes (or other dried fruit, such as cranberries or raisins)
3/4 cup chopped almonds* (or other nuts and seeds, such as pecans or peanuts)
1/2 cup chocolate or carob chips (I used gluten & dairy free Enjoy Life)
3 tablespoon honey (or other sweetener, such as agave or stevia syrup)
2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1- 2 tablespoons 100% Pure Vermont Maple Syrup
2 tablespoons coconut flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon nutmeg

*The Almonds give the bars a nice crunch – don’t chop them as small as I did, they loose the crunch. If you like crunchier bars – like me- add even more nuts or use a granola or puffed rice cereal, something that’ll give it more crunch (again, I wish I had done this). You can add up to 2.5 cups of extras (nuts, seeds, dried fruits). My recipe calls for 1 3/4 cups extras.

Start by cooking your lentils. Rinse 1 cup of dried lentils. Once the lentils have been rinsed, place in large pot and add two cups of water, and bring to a boil then lower heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes, until the liquid is absorbed.

Preheat oven to 275 F.

Transfer lentils to a bowl and mash with a fork (they may already be slightly mushy as red lentils don’t hold their shape as well when cooked). Let cool slightly. Add the oats, coconut flakes, almonds, chocolate chips, coconut flour, cinnamon and nutmeg and mix together.

Next add in the cashew butter, honey, vanilla extract, and maple syrup. Mix thoroughly until well combined.

If you like sweeter granola bars, add more honey or sweetener of your choice. I would start with 1 tablespoon and  taste the mixture first, adding more if desired.

Line an 9×13 square baking pan (or 8×8 if you want thinker bars) with wax paper (optional, you do not need this). Transfer lentil mixture to the pan and press with your hands into an even layer. Bake at 275 F for 15 minutes. Remove, cool, cut into bars, wrap each one individually and keep refrigerated or frozen.

Gluten Free Rice and Lentils with Apples

Last night I got together with some girlfriends for dinner. One of my friends is a vegan so not only did I need to make something gluten free I also wanted her to be able to eat it as well. I love to play around with items I have at home. I also didn’t have time to go out to the store and by any ingredients for various recipes I was contemplating to make, so after rummaging through my fridge and the pantry, I came up with Jasmati rice, an onion, red lentils and the apple I didn’t eat at lunch today.

Well, what turned out as an experiment, ended up being a quite tasty dish. I liked how it turned out. It was a hit at my friends dinner party later that evening, and I received very nice compliments from everyone.

I overcooked the lentils just a bit, and I was nervous the dish would be too mushy, but it wasn’t it was great the way the ‘semi-mushy’ lentils and rice mixed together so well.

Ingredients
1 cup rice
1 ½ cups red lentils
¼ cup onion, diced
1 T olive oil
1 medium-large granny smith apple, diced
1 teaspoons cumin
1 garlic glove (or 1 teaspoon garlic powder)
1 teaspoon parsley
3 teaspoons curry powder
1 teaspoon coriander seed
Directions
1.     Cook rice according to package directions. Half way through the cook time, I added 1 teaspoon curry powder so it would infuse into the rice.
2.     In a saucepan, add 2 cups of water and the lentils. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 10-15 minutes. I add a few pieces of onion to the boiling water for a little flavor. Cook longer if you want ‘mushier’ lentils.
3.     Dice the onion and garlic. Heat olive oil in a frying pan. Add the union and garlic until the onion begins to brown. Add the chopped apples and cook for 2 more minutes.
4.     Drain any excess water from the lentils.
5.     Combine the rice, lentils, chopped apple and onions into a bowl. Add in spices and mix.
6.     Serve warm and enjoy
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Easy Red Lentil Soup {gluten free and dairy free}

I’ve really been into lentils lately, especially red and black. I never really ate lentils before recently, and I definitely did not cook them. But they are so good and super easy to make.
I’m anemic and I am always trying to figure out ways of how I can get more protein in my diet. Lentils are high in protein; third highest level of protein, by weight, of any legume or nut, after soybeans and hemp. Not only high in protein, but also a good source of fiber, folate, and vitamin B – all things I am trying to fit more into my diet.
There are thousands of lentil recipes out there, and sometimes I just like to keep it simple. I looked through my cookbooks and combined a few of the recipes I saw and came up with the following recipe, which turned out to be delicious and full of flavor! I love experimenting in the kitchen, playing around with ingredients, and trying new things, and soup is the perfect for this.
Ingredients:  (serves 4)
1 ¼ cup red lentils
1 onion, diced
2 cups carrots, sliced
2 celery stocks, sliced
4 ½ cups vegetable or chicken stock or water* (I suggest using a stock to give it more flavor)
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon lemon juice (I used fresh lime because it was all I had)
½ teaspoon garlic
½ teaspoon ginger – I didn’t have this on hand but will certainty give it more flavor, I love cooking with ginger (hence why I am out)
½ teaspoon pepper
¼ teaspoon thyme
1 teaspoon oregano
¼ teaspoon coriander
1 ½ teaspoon cumin
1 ½ teaspoon tumeric
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
* I used up leftover pho soup base instead of chicken stock, still came out great!
Optional add ins

 

¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper – if you like it hot
1 teaspoon curry power
tomatoes – because let’s face it tomatoes are my favorite food and I will add them to any dish I can.
spinach add in at end
fresh parsley – add in at end
Directions:
                               1.     Place all ingredients in a medium pot and bring to a boil.

2.     Reduce heat and cook, covered, for 40 minutes.
3.     Ladle into 4 soup bowls and add spinach or fresh parsley
4.     Serve and enjoy!

I told you it was easy!
You can really use any kind of lentils – red, green, yellow, pink. Just make sure to adjust the cooking time as some take longer to soften.
            Red – 30-35 minute
            Green – 45 minutes
            Brown 20-30 minutes
If you are using any of the other add-ins, just add them into the pot along with all the other ingredients.
The consistency of the soup changes depending on what you add and how long you cook it for. As it sits, more liquid is absorbed. So if you like it thick use less liquid and if you want more broth I would add another ½ – 1 cups of broth.

Lentil Rice and Veggie Bake

LOVED this recipe! I found this recipe on allrecipes.com a few weeks ago and finally decided to use up the rest of my lentils and make it. It is so quick, easy, flexible and cheap to make.
Gluten Free and vegetarian! High in Protein (9.7g per serving) and Fiber (8.1 grams).
I was so tempted to add cheese to the top of this, but resisted that urge to keep it healthier…well I did add a little cheese to the first few bites and it was delicious! I kept the rest cheese-less as I do not tolerate cheese very well (anyone else with a gluten issue have this problem? Give us a break!!)
I doubled the amount of oregano and cumin. I did not have basil in the house so I used parsley. I also did not have fresh garlic so I used garlic powder. And I added mushrooms! Next time I am adding even more vegetables!!
I would also suggest cooking the rice in vegetable broth to add even more flavor.
I’m sure you can mix and use whichever vegetables you have handy!

Ingredients (serves 6)

  • 1/2 cup uncooked long grain white rice
  • 2 1/2 cups water
  • 1 cup red lentils
  • 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 fresh tomato, chopped
  • 1/3 cup chopped celery
  • 1/3 cup chopped carrots
  • 1/3 cup chopped zucchini
  • 1 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Place the rice and 1 cup water in a pot, and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer 20 minutes.
  2. Place lentils in a pot with the remaining 1 1/2 cups water, and bring to a boil. Cook 15 minutes, or until tender.
  3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  4. Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat, and stir in the onion and garlic. Mix in tomato, celery, carrots, zucchini, and 1/2 the tomato sauce. Season with 1/2 the basil, 1/2 the oregano, 1/2 the cumin, salt, and pepper. Cook until vegetables are tender.
  5. In a casserole dish, mix the rice, lentils, and vegetables. Top with remaining tomato sauce, and sprinkle with remaining basil, oregano, and cumin.
  6. Bake 30 minutes in the preheated oven, until bubbly.