April 27, 2009

Say Cheez! - A Product Review


I’ve been a fan of Namaste foods since a few years ago when I made Turtle Brownies a la Betsy (aka…gluten free so I could eat them too) for a co-worker’s birthday. I screwed up and accidently used an entire can of evaporated milk instead of 1/3 cup, which made them ooey-gooey and delicious, leaving my roommates chiseling the end pieces out of the pan and licking up the crumbs. Nobody could tell they were gluten free and a love affair with the Namaste brand began.

But this review isn’t about brownies; it’s about good ol’ fashioned comfort food. Macaroni and Cheese to be exact! What’s not to love about mac ‘n cheese?! I remember making the stuff as a kid - pouring in the powered cheese packet and watching the margarine slowly melt. Don’t even get me started on how much I loved Velveeta Shells and Cheese! Even in college, Kraft just invented Easy Mac that I could make in my dorm room microwave. Then…I got celiac. Gone were the days where this warm, cheesy meal filled the void that only calorie laden carbs can fill. Sure, I tried to make my own version, but it was never cheesy enough. I even tried the organic “Mac and Chreese”, which didn’t taste like cheese or make me a fan. And yes, you read that right…it was chreese…from the trees. I had given up and believed I would never again find the perfect gluten free mac ‘n cheese.

Things changed this weekend when I visited the new Free From Market and saw Namaste’s “Say Cheez!” sitting on the shelf. It was a no brainer, I bought a bag and made it as soon as I got home. Could you tell I was excited? It was easy to make and didn’t take that long either. The only thing needed is oil and water (and I guess the obvious – pot and stovetop). I cooked the noodles in boiling water until they were soft. In a separate pot, I warmed a couple tablespoons of oil (I used olive – heart healthy!) and a tablespoon of water. Once the noodles were ready, I drained them (no rinsing involved) and added them to the oil along with the cheese packet. The cheese mix wasn’t completely powder. There were little shelled hemp seeds that gave the meal a unique flavor. Don’t get me wrong, this stuff was delicious! I think I prefer the added flavors of the hemp seed, onion and garlic powders, turmeric, sea salt, etc. to the plain old mac ‘n cheese of my youth. It turned out fab! The texture and consistency was perfect. The brown rice noodles weren’t mushy or grainy like other rice noodles I’ve tried in the past. The cheese sauce was right on the money - not super creamy or intensely cheesy, just the perfect balance of flavor to make this macaroni and cheese a winner! The package serves four, but they are pretty big portions. I’ve already eaten it twice on both Saturday and Sunday, and have the remainder waiting for me to eat up today for lunch. Namaste, indeed!

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