Disclosure: These products were sent to me for review, but all opinions (and tastes) belong to my picky family.
I recently wrote an article on kids with food allergies and sensitivities, and how it's a good idea to go-to gluten-free and lactose-free foods for playdates, birthday parties, etc. I interviewed an awesome dietitian who made suggestions for parents, and told me how the quality/taste/price of these "speciality" foods has GREATLY improved.
I wrote the story, of course (it's my job), but I was skeptical.
My friend next-door has Celiac disease and I've baked gluten-free treats for her. They are NEVER tasty and they're a pain in the butt, frankly. What is xanthan gym and why does this package of overpriced flour think I'm going to have that in my house?!
Don't even get me started on lactose-free stuff, I thought. Darling Husband has suffered from lactose intolerance since shortly after we started going out. (Wait, did I cause it???) He gets horrible stomach pains (and then *worse* stuff) from all things milk-y. We used to buy him that nasty chalky lactose-free milk so he could have cereal, but we stopped because even he said it wasn't worth it.
But! Atlantic Superstore kindly sent me a package of some of their new lactose-free and gluten-free goodies so I could try them myself.
I half-heartedly took a few pictures in case I ended up writing about them, but I wasn't thinking it would ever hit the blog. Truthfully.
The kids, as always, were excited to see a package arrive. And this one had food! Yaaaaaaay for taste-tests!
We started with the gluten-free pasta, since we love pasta. I boiled two pots of water and made President's Choice Gluten-Free Tagliatelle (it looked like linguine to me, but I'm no chef) and President's Choice Gluten-Free Four-Cheese Tortellini.
I figured it was going to have that weird sweet-ish taste like the whole-grain pasta I hate.
IT TOTALLY DID NOT.
The kids didn't like the tortellini but they don't like "regular" tortellini either, so they're crazy. They inhaled the tagliatelle while I stuffed myself with the tortellini.
It was freaking delicious, and I would have NEVER thought it was gluten-free.
Next up, we tried the President's Choice Gluten-free Chocolate Cake Mix. We have pretty high standards for cake in this house, and I have baked some nasty gluten-free cakes for my friend.
It mixed up fine and *looked* like a regular Betty Crocker cake mix. But I assumed this cake would have that "bean-y" taste that screams "I'm gluten-free! I'm made from ground-up beans instead of delicious white flour!"
IT TOTALLY DID NOT.
It baked up perfectly and tasted great with my famous vanilla buttercream. I will say it was slightly crumbly compared to the chocolate cake I normally bake, but completely delicious.
AND it was so nice that we could bring a big piece next-door for my friend with Celiac, who gets left out of so many desserts.
(The kids were amazed by the colour. Apparently we are boring parents who don't expose them to multi-coloured tortilla chips.)
We made this one a true taste-test and prepared half the nachos with the lactose-free cheese and half with "regular" cheese (a combination of whatever mozzarella and cheddar we had in the cheese drawer of the fridge).
(We didn't even put jalapenos on the nachos so the kids could eat from both sides in the name of true objectivity.)
And, yes, my lactose-intolerant husband DOES eat nachos on a fairly regular basis. What it does to his digestive system? Let's not go there. But I suppose it's "worth it" to him, or he wouldn't eat them?
I wasn't sure what to expect from lactose-free cheese and lactose-free sour cream (how could something with CREAM in the name not have lactose?).
I just hoped neither would be anything like that chalky lactose-free milk we used to buy. Was it going to have a weird taste? Was it going to be watery or chunky or otherwise strange?
You heard it here first: lactose-free cheese tasted exactly the same as regular cheese. The only difference was that it was slightly "oranger" than the regular cheddar.
The sour cream shocked me even more, actually. We even pulled out a container of the regular restaurant-style sour cream we normally buy, and they tasted exactly the same.
We used both containers for the next week or so, until they ran out, and I literally would just grab whatever one was closer -- that's how identical they were. (I made sure my husband always got the lactose-free version though. Why wreck his stomach unnecessarily?)
So good for you, Atlantic Superstore! I'm seriously impressed -- impressed enough to write a rare food post -- that you managed to crack the code and invent gluten-free and lactose-free stuff that tastes just as good as the "regular" versions.
(My poor husband* -- and anyone near the washroom after he's had regular cheese or sour cream -- thanks you very much.)
*Don't worry. He doesn't read this blog.
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