Archive for August, 2010

The Same Old Rind: Breaking Out of My Watermelon, Cantaloupe & Honeydew Rut

Sunday, August 8th, 2010

It’s that time of year again when the melons are ripe, the price for them is great, and a bit of fruit juice running down your chin after that the first juicy bite is totally acceptable and downright savored.

But after visiting my local farmers market and the supermarket over the past few weeks, I’ve seen firsthand the tons and tons of melon varieties available. It is then that I realized I am a melon bore.

Being gluten-free I have found that my diet, at times, can be quite limited. That’s why I always love to try new foods whenever possible. But for some funny reason I find myself reaching for, squeezing, and only purchasing the three basic melons that have been in my life since my childhood: Watermelon, Cantaloupe and Honeydew.

This summer I decided to “break out of the same old rind”, broaden my melon-knowledge and get myself out of this melon-slump. My goal: To try as many new types of melon as possible. And to assist all of you gluten-free, melon-seeking folks that would also like to partake on this journey I have put together the following “Melon 101”:

Watermelon: The juiciest and most popular melon in the United States, this melon is 92% water (hence, the name)! A cousin to cucumbers, pumpkins and squash, the redder the flesh the sweeter the taste. They come in tons of varieties, including seeded, seedless and even a personal size watermelon. Want to find out some fun watermelon facts? Check out the National Watermelon Board for tons of “everything watermelon” information!

Cantaloupe: To contain the juices avoid cutting into this thick netted skinned melon, until just ready to eat. Very juicy, and so sweet, this melon is a favorite served in fruit salads and breakfast buffets. Not sure when a cantaloupe is ripe? Look for one that is heavy for its size!

Honeydew: There are two types of honeydew melons – one with green flesh and the other with orange flesh. Perfect for those on a gluten-free diet that are watching their weight (ahummm – that would be me!) these low-calorie melons contain no fat, no sodium and are high in vitamin C. I like to cut honeydews in half, scoop out the flesh and use the shell as a “salad bowl” filled with a nice diced chicken and melon salad.

Crenshaw: With a salmon colored orangish-pink flesh, Crenshaw melons make a statement in any salad or dessert. Slightly spice and fragrant, they are a great addition to a fruit salads too.

Santa Claus: This mild flavored melon resembles a small watermelon at first glance. The green flesh is similar to the honeydew melon, but not as sweet. Perfect for melon salsas, chutneys and fruit salads.

Casaba: This pumpkin shaped melon with a thick, hard, grooved rind has a unique mild cucumber flavor. I love this melon chopped in a salad instead of using cucumber!

Canary: With a firm & crisp whitish to light green flesh, this melon is shaped like a football. While it is not as sweet as many other melons, it is still great for snacking and tossing in salads.

Friday Favorite: A Taste of Thai Rice Noodles

Thursday, August 5th, 2010

Once again, Lindsey from BeFreeForMe offices whipped up an unbelievable dish that is full of vegetables and flavor, and is free of most major allergens.

This dish is prepared with A Taste of Thai Straight Cut Rice Noodles. These noodles are authentic Thai style and inspired noodles, which are so quick and easy to prepare.

Lindsey’s recipe, Warm Asian Noodle Salad, was a hit with my friends that I hosted tonight for a birthday dinner. The dish is packed with veggies and requires no boiling to cook the noodles. Absolutely perfect on a hot summer night.

The Taste of Thai Rice Noodles are a perfect way to prepare many Asian, Thai or vegetarian dishes. A must have for any gluten free pantry.

All these reasons are why this week’s BeFreeForMe Friday Favorite goes to A taste of Thai Rice Noodles!

WIN-It-Wednesday: Michael Season’s Snacks

Tuesday, August 3rd, 2010

Seasoned and spicy potato chips can often be off-limits to those with celiac disease or food allergies. Hidden among the tasty seasonings and flavorings, gluten and other allergens can lurk and hide.

That’s why I’m a fan of Michael Season’s Snacks. Gluten-free with no preservatives, artificial colorings, flavorings or MSG, these snacks are full of flavor but not full of the stuff you don’t need.

The newest edition of the Michael Season’s line-up is the Mediterranean Thin & Crispy Potato Chips. Perfectly seasoned with black pepper, oregano, basil and rosemary these chips are not only delicious, but have 30% less fat than other chips. The other Thin & Crispy Chip (that are all reduced fat as well) varieties include: Honey Barbeque, Salt & Pepper, Unsalted and Lightly Salted (perfect for those of you watching your sodium levels). They also make a reduced fat Ripple Chip that is perfect for dipping.

Michael Season’s also makes Baked Puffs and Curls. These come in fab flavors such as Jalapeno and Hot Chili Pepper. And just two weeks ago, Rachael Ray selected the Baked Puffs as her Snack of the Day! How delish is that?

Another product line Michael Season makes is the Baked Potato Crisps. These crunchy chips that stand up to even the biggest of dippers have 70% less fat than potato crisps.  

All-natural and reduced fat snacking choices, paired up with fun and tasty flavors, are reasons why BeFreeForMe is excited to announce that Michael Season’s Mediterranean Potato Chips are featured in this week’s WIN-It-Wednesday prize package!

Two lucky BeFreeForMe members will win a prize pack that includes a re-usable tote packed with the new Mediterranean Chips,  plus Chip-Clips.

How can you win?


These Mediterranean Chips got me thinking about the Mediterranean Islands – one of my most favorite places in the world for some rest and relaxation. Reply to this blog and tell us the place in your life that provides your sanctuary-away-from-it-all. All entries must be received by Tuesday, August 10th at 12:00 midnight EST.

Good luck, Remember a little rest and relaxation is good for the soul… and as always,

Be Free!

The Best Life Can Offer: Served on a Simple Paper Plate

Sunday, August 1st, 2010

When the weather is hot outside, and even hotter inside, who in the heck wants to even think about melting over a hot stove?

When I was a little girl and the weather was hot hazy n’ humid, my Mom would make her way out to the garden and pick, rather than cook, our supper. Topped with a can of chilled tuna salad, our dinner plate was complete. The perfect ending to steamy hot summer day.

Seasonal herbs and vegetables can be the fantastic starting ground for a gluten and allergen free meal. Top these seasonal gems with a can of quick and easy tuna (or canned chicken or beans, if seafood allergies are a concern) and you have a no-cook supper that is full of protein, fiber, nutrition and healthy ingredients.

I find it amazing how “my” fond childhood memories of a cold tuna salad plate on a hot and steamy summer night are also shared by so many other people. And for us all, even in our adult lives, cold tuna salad plates are triggers of happy summer food memories alongside the all-time classic favorites such as popsicles, s’mores, hotdogs and lemonade.

And because of these happy memories this tradition thankfully carries on for many of us today.

Many associate the smell, warmth and complexity of meal preparation as the components of their most comforting food memories; however, the ease and utilitarian nature of effortlessly whipping together this summertime dish make this meal one of my most favorite food memories. A sweet memory that’s so simply unique and dependent on the current pantry stock, and what’s ripe in the garden, each of these meal becomes even more mystifying because it could never exactly be duplicated again.

I’ve decided that my childhood memories of these cold salad plates are the result of the perfect storm: Hot, sticky New England weather with thunder clouds threatening in the distance; ripe vegetables hand-plucked from the garden; canned tuna, chicken or beans dug out from the back of the pantry, and three hungry pony-tailed little girls eating a simple supper from paper plates that will become a meal engraved in their memories forever.

Simple, no-frill, practical meals and memories are the ones you somehow hold closest to your heart; the ones that can never be duplicated again. A once in a lifetime event.

Funny how life sometimes whips-up the best it can offer on a simple paper plate.

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