Tag Archives: gluten free

Noodles Spring (Asparagus) Dishes


Last week, I got an email in my inbox offering me to try one of Noodles and Company‘s Limited Time Spring {read: asparagus} Dishes for free. I absolutely love Noodles and company. I adore asparagus. And I just couldn’t pass up FREE, so I went for lunch. My choices from the Limited Time Spring Menu included:

  • Springtime Flatbread“Crispy flatbread appetizer topped with fresh asparagus, mushrooms, melted parmesan cheese and bacon.”
  • Garden Pesto Sauté “Fresh spring asparagus in a light lemon Genovese pesto tossed with our delicious gluten-free fusilli noodles, red bell peppers, mushrooms, onions, pecans, feta and spinach.”
  • Asparagus Stack“Side of fresh asparagus spears, feta cheese, bacon crumbles and a wedge of fresh lemon.”

I chose the Garden Pesto Sauté. The Noodles employee asked if I wanted the small or regular-sized bowl. I think either would have been free; there wasn’t a size restriction on the voucher. However, I thought better and chose the small. I knew if I chose the large, I’d probably eat the entire large serving, walking away stuffed. I also added some Parmesan-Crusted Chicken and a small drink. With those additions, my meal came just over $2.

Noodles & Company sauté with Parmesan Crusted Chicken

Noodles & Company –  Garden Pesto Sauté with Parmesan Crusted Chicken (Small)

I was also asked if I wanted the fusilli noodles or the penne. I chose penne, not knowing that the reason why she asked was that the fusilli noodles are gluten-free. I don’t follow a gluten-free diet, but it’s good to know that options exist for my friends that do!

I find that most Noodles dishes are skimpy on the veg. I totally get it. The pasta is where they make their money. But this dish was actually heavy on the veggies! You can’t tell by my photo above, with the parmesan-crusted chicken plopped on top and sprinkled with feta. So I cut up the chicken and mixed up my bowl for you:

Veggies in this dish included red bell peppers, mushrooms, onions and spinach.

Veggies in this dish included asparagus as well as red bell peppers, mushrooms, onions and spinach.

It was a great combo of veggies. And while the pecans and feta were a nice touch, the pesto was pretty light in flavor. I am glad I added the chicken.

The Verdict? It was good, but not great. I have other dishes I love at Noodles and company, that I’d rather order. But here are a few pluses to this dish’s appearance:

  • Awareness of gluten-free pasta at Noodles & Company. (You can sub any dish with this pasta.)
  • Asparagus served at Noodles & Company while in season. (You can add or sub asparagus in any dish!)

What is your favorite pasta dish and why?

Recipe-sharing encouraged!


SBS: New Twists on Classic Favorites


Subscription Box Saturday is back! While I couldn’t wait to tell you about my Birchbox – it went up on the blog yesterday – I had to give it at least a few days to dig into my Love with Food box!

What's in it.

From Top Left, Clockwise: Kids 50 Fruit & Veggie Juice – Break It Down Berry, Mary’s Gone Crackers, Wacky Apple Flat Fruit – Wild Berry, Chocwasabi Chocolate Covered Wasabi Peas, Ola! Foods Granola – No Nut Vanilla, Cosmos Creations Salted Caramel Puffed Corn, Revolution Tea – Acai Green Tea, Emily’s Chocolates Dark Chocolate Orange Good Fortune Cookie

Upon opening the box, Rob and I tore into the Salted Caramel Baked Corn from Cosmos Creations. Salted caramel is one of our favorite flavors of pretty much anything. After we both tried a few bites, the rest of the 100-calorie bag was stolen away from me! Rob said we could buy more of it anytime. And you’ll find no kernels in this puffed corn!

Then I tried the Wild Berry Flat Fruit from Wacky Apple. It tasted like most fruit leather tastes, but this one is made of organic ingredients. The ingredients look pretty natural and unprocessed, too. However, can someone tell me what Organic flavoring is?

LWF-Fruit Ing

I thought I should stop there and save the rest of the snacks and samples for the rest of the week. But I figured that a chocolate-flavored fortune cookie wouldn’t set me back too far in terms of calories. Only, it wasn’t chocolate-flavored:

It was chocolate-covered!

It was chocolate-covered!

A Dark Chocolate Covered Foturne Cookine? STOP RIGHT THERE! This is genius. I opened my fortune…


…and bit into it. Oh boy. I have decided that these should always be served in Chinese restaurants over regular fortune cookies from this day forward. In fact, I will gladly pay a $1 surcharge for one of these every time. Should I send samples to Nha Sang? 😉

It wasn’t until I started writing this post that I learned that this is actually a Dark Chocolate Orange Fortune Cookie.

For moms curious about the Kids 50 Fruit and Veggie Juice, it tasted just like any juice box drink. Here are the nutrition facts and ingredients in case you want to compare to whatever else is on the market. Not having kids myself, I’m oblivious.

Kids 50 Fruit & Veggie Juice Nutrition Facts & Ingredients

Kids 50 Fruit & Veggie Juice Nutrition Facts & Ingredients

I added the Ola! Granola to the last of my berries and yogurt mixture for breakfast on Thursday morning. The crunch was a nice change to what I had been eating. I really enjoyed it. This particular granola was nut-free and vanilla-flavored. The ingredients look pretty pure, too.

LWF-Granola Ing

Ola! Granola – No Nut Vanilla

After that breakfast, I made myself a cup of the T-Box Revolution Açaí Green Tea. It does come in a cute little box:

Revolution Tea: "Each box is a unique gift."

The aroma was inviting; however, I needed to add a little honey for my liking. While the box is cute, I can’t imagine them being better than a teabag in a packet. the little boxes would take up more space in your cupboard. However, as suggested, I think they would make great gifts. They could easily be added to a basket of goodies or given as favors at a celebratory event.

Back of Revolution Tea box

Back of Revolution Tea box

I enjoyed the Chocolate Covered Wasabi Peas in place of my regular daily piece of dark chocolate. The calories for a small package were much higher than my usual 35-calorie Dove Promise:

LWF-Choc Wasabi Peas NF

But the 5 grams of protein in this package surprised me! They were good. The wasabi wasn’t too overpowering and the chocolate-wasabi pairing worked. However, this would never take the place of the satisfaction I get from a piece of dark chocolate.

The Mary’s Gone Crackers were packaged in a bag like one would enjoy chips, but they tasted much more like crackers. I liked the taste with all the grain and seed flavors. Check out the ingredients:


But I only needed a few. After a while, they were a little overwhelming. Also, they made me crave cheese, so I had to break some out to enjoy with them!

So that’s my wrap up on this month’s Love With Food Box. I pay only $10 per month plus $2 shipping to receive this package of sample-sized treats. I can earn points, too, for free purchases.

I think I will continue to take photos of the back side of my samples because so much of that information – nutrition facts and ingredients – is hard to find online when a new product is released. Consider it my research to offer you!

Would you pay a $1 surcharge to have one of those dark chocolate-covered fortune cookies over your traditional fortune cookie when you order Chinese?


Pizza Lucé – Richfield


Pizza Lucé in Richfield opens today!

We were invited to try out the new Pizza Lucé opening in Richfield on Saturday by our friend Shondra. It was a pre-opening event for Friends and Family. Pizza Lucé is a Minnesota-based specialty pizza and pasta place established in 1993. Richfield will be it’s seventh location!

The other six Pizza Lucé locations

The Richfield Pizza Lucé is housed in the old Bridgeman’s Ice Cream building. I seriously thought the building was torn down and rebuilt. However, I’m told that it was only renovated. Nice job, Pizza Lucé! The roomy inside interior looks new, as does the outdoor patio.

I’d been to Pizza Lucé only a few times before and the reason is solely due to location. The downtown location was where I experienced my first visit. We dined there pre-Fine Line concert. Another time was when the St. Paul location opened across the street from a friend’s apartment. And the most recent visit was a few months ago when a friend and I were in Uptown around lunch time. Driving by Pizza Lucé, it was an easy choice. However, this new location is only a 13-minute drive from our house.

One of the draws of Pizza Lucé is that they cater to vegans and gluten-free patrons. Many items are vegan (V), vegan upon request (VR) or gluten-free upon request (GFR). This gives those with a gluten-sensitivity an opportunity to actually go out and dine with friends. I’m told that the restaurant takes this very seriously when gluten sensitivity is a health condition. The order must be followed from start to finish. That’s dedication! In addition, it has recently become a trend for many people to choose a gluten-free or vegan lifestyle. While I don’t follow either, I think it’s great that there are options for people who do.

Our Order:

I was craving some veggies, so I ordered a small salad before our pizza arrived. I think I had split the Spinach Salad with my friend Jen on my my visit to the Uptown location, but it sounded good again. I ordered a small, so I could still try some pizza and scarfed it down before I could take a picture. But our friend Shondra ordered the large one and asked to add bacon and for dressing on the side:

Spinach Salad {w/bacon added } | VR, GFR
Loads of fresh spinach, radicchio, candied pecans, red onions, dried cranberries and blue cheese tossed in homemade white balsamic vinaigrette. {Vegans, substitute lemon pepper tofu for the cheese at no additional charge.}

Oh, how I love this salad! {Sans bacon for me, though.}

The pizza we chose:

Ruby Rae Pizza {Medium} | GFR
Upside down pizza pie with red sauce on top. Spinach, bruschetta tomatoes, Italian sausage, and extra mozzarella cheese. Sprinkled with parmesan cheese and spicy crushed red pepper.

We loved the spice of this pizza! It’s a little hotter than Minnesota spicy, so please keep that in mind when ordering. You could probably ask them to hold the crushed red pepper, if you are concerned. However, the crust seemed a little bland to us. {Maybe it could be brushed with some garlic-flavored olive oil?} But the toppings were full-flavored and exactly what we were looking for in a pizza.

They weren’t serving anything from the bar that day, but I did peruse their cocktail list:

Martini List

With my love of St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur, this list had me at the Pear Tree! Also, I love my bubbly cocktails and had tried the Kinky Liqueur before, so I am pretty sure that I would like the Pink Fusion as well.

There are over 20 beers on tap, many of them craft or micro brews, perfect for a beer snob like me. Rumor has it that Tuesday is $3 Tap Beer Day, all day!

In addition, the bottles of wine were reasonably priced. {That’s tough to find these days.} And the selection is pretty decent for those prices. I hear that Mondays are Half-Price Wine Nights!

We didn’t try dessert, but when I jumped on their website to aid me in writing this post, I read that they are now delivering pints of Izzy’s ice cream. Oh how we love that!

Now that the Richfield location of Pizza Lucé is open, be sure to stop in and give it a try. Let them know that we sent you. And be sure to say “hello” to our friend Shondra, too!


Urban Olive & Vine – Hudson, WI


It’s Wine Wednesday!

So it’s time to do my first Restaurant Impression

of a Wine Bar!

Okay, so Urban Olive & Vine in Hudson, Wisconsin, is not just a wine bar. It is also part restaurant, bakery, tea room, music venue and specialty shop. They will even put together a picnic for you to take to go! It’s the perfect place to stop in historic downtown Hudson whether you are hungry, thirsty, in need of a pick-me-up or just poking around.

But I’m calling it a Wine Bar for now because that is the main reason why we made the trek across the state line over the St. Croix River to this joint. Yes, that’s right. We went to visit our friend Jared who started working at the Urban Olive & Vine as the Wine Specialist a few weeks prior.

While I have done in-home wine tastings in Hudson before, I’ve never stopped downtown. What a cute little street with shops and eateries galore. Signs directing where to park were very well-marked. Much easier than downtown Minneapolis.

We wandered into the quaint little shop and didn’t see the wine bar. Rob was about to grab the only little two-person table available when I motioned that I saw a room in the back. That had to be it. And sure enough, it was. In the back, we found a cluster of more tables and seats at the bar. Little did we know that this room, empty except for another couple at the bar and Jared at the ready, would be full before we left.

We intended to spend some time here sipping wine (or beer – they have a great bottled beer list, too), having dinner and just relaxing. Jared noted that there would be music that night, too; as they always have live music on Saturdays.

Both the wine menu and bottled beer menu (there are none on tap) are well-rounded. There’s a little something for just about every palate. In addition, you’ll probably find something new that you haven’t heard of or had before. A wine from Uruguay? I hadn’t had one yet.

Of course, I started with a bit of bubbly because they do offer splits {aka tiny bottles of tiny bubbles}! The bottle I received was different from what was on the menu. But I understood. Things change. And I was happy with flavor and the effervescence. Ahhh…

Look at those bubbles! {…and Jared pouring wine in the background!}

The beers are listed by style similarly to what they do at The Happy Gnome:

Bottled craft beers listed by style…

…with several Wisconsin breweries representing! {Oh how I love you, Rush River Bubble Jack!}

The food menu is what you’d expect from a coffee-and-sandwich-shop-type place. There are lots of sandwiches and salads; but there are also flatbread pizzas. One of the other things this place has going for it is that they really cater to the gluten-free crowd. All of their sandwiches and pizzas can be made with gluten-free bread and pizza dough. A friend of mine told me that it’s often difficult to find places that offer substitutions. And while it’s getting a lot better in the Twin Cities, I’m sure it is fairly hard to come by in smaller metropolises. {Did I just use that word?!}

Keep in mind that my husband and I do not follow a gluten-free diet and therefore, the pictures of what we ordered aren’t of gluten-free menu items. {And I actually have no idea if they would even look or taste different from what we ordered.}

To start, we stepped outside of the box and decided to order a grilled cheese sandwich to split as an appetizer.

Aren’t we so crazy?! 😉

Grown Up Grilled Cheese: Swiss, Havarti, Granny Smith Apple, Honey

Rob’s entrée:

Sicilian Flatbread Pizza: artisan sausage, red onion, roasted red pepper, chopped pepperoncini, mozzarella

I ordered a ciabatta sandwich and soup combo:

Tomato Basil Soup & The Richie Sandwich: ham, brie cheese, mango sauce, red onion

The Verdict? It’s pretty much what you’d expect from a little coffee shop. Very good, but not mind-blowing. Also, I like my hot sandwiches to be warm, not just toasted and crunchy. Still, you’ll find good comfort food served cleverly on cutting boards. Nice presentation and I liked the veggies and dip touch. {Note to self: Get the baked brie next time!}

As we dined and enjoyed a few glasses of wine and beer, we were captivated by some absolutely incredible voices emanating from the next room. Sure, we couldn’t see the faces of these muses, but we were swept away by their melodies. At one point, I could have sworn that it was Adele herself in the next room.

So I made my way in to get a closer look and listen:

Devine Collection with Russ King

From the Urban Olive & Vine website, here is the description of the group we heard:

“Award winning vocalists from the pop/soul group “Devine Collection” will be accompanied by keyboardist, Russ King, at Urban Olive &Vine. Devine Collection features three female vocalists joined together from some of the hottest Twin Cities bands, including The New Congress, Root City Band, 8 Switch Assembly and Copasetic. Each has gained national attention and recognition for their talents. Russ King has performed at major venues across the globe, including two tours in Iraq in 2010 with Keri Noble and The New Congress; opened for Prince at Paisley Park during the Musicology Tour; a performance in Lagos, Nigeria, with Alexander O’Neal and Wyclef Jean; and most recently was hired as musical director for Grammy nominated Eric Roberson at the Dakota Jazz Club. We have some fun and exciting music planned. There’s a little something for everybody with our style and song selection.”

Before we knew it, three hours had passed. I guess this is what happens when you have a filling meal, tasty beverages, top notch entertainment and the best service ever. 😉

But an hour before we left, I was sure to get a pot of tea. {I did have to drive home, you know!} And how could I not order tea here with an extensive five-page list of options? I wasn’t sure if they’d be able to serve all of them on the list or if they were only for sale in bulk. Nonetheless, I ordered this:

Pot o’ Tea: Blueberry Fields

Oh. And did I mention that they do tea parties?!

It was a great night out and we look forward to going back! If you want to check out something different just outside the Twin Cities where you can get great service, visit Jared at the wine bar in the back at Urban Olive & Vine on Saturday nights. Let him know I sent you. 😉

Question for you:

Wine, Beer, Cocktails, Coffee or Tea?

And why?