When Glutino first contacted us, offering to send gratis product samples for us to review here on No Gluten, No Problem, my first thought was, “No thanks. We’ve got you covered already.” After all, a Glutino product of one sort or another – especially the pretzels and crackers – has been a constant presence in our pantry for at least two or three years. Our girls love them. They make for tasty, easy-to-pack treats to take with us in the car, to the beach, on hikes, whatever.
Upon checking the NGNP archives, however, I was shocked to find we in fact hadn’t reviewed Glutino previously. The only thing I found were a pair of blog posts (number one and number two) following a trip to Quebec, which made passing references to Glutino crackers and snack bars. That was it. I can only chalk this up to being a “not seeing the forest for the trees” moment. Glutino has been right in front of our eyes, and we largely haven’t written about it. Until now.
Quebec-based Glutino tests all of their products to make sure they meet the widely adopted 20ppm international gluten-free “standard.” I put them into the “diversified company” category of GF food manufacturers. Many companies specialize… in frozen foods, or prepared baked goods, or box mixes, or cereals. Glutino does a little bit of everything, especially since acquiring Gluten-Free Pantry in 2004.
I already mentioned that we’re fans of their pretzels (stay tuned for a forthcoming Versus post where Glutino and Snyder GF pretzels face off against each other). We’re also fans of their crackers. We’ve had their snack bars and cereals. And if you caught our Brownies Versus post in February of this year, you know that GF Pantry’s brownie mix scored very highly against the competition.
When it came time to choose product samples from the kind folks at Glutino, we knew that we wanted to branch out and try other parts of their product line. This review focuses on those foods.
Chicken Pad Thai
The pad thai had a good – if somewhat non-traditional – sauce. A little heat, a little sweet. It was a thick sauce, almost like a gravy. The brown rice noodle was a different (and healthier) touch, which we liked. At 370 calories, it was a bit small as a serving for either Kelli or me. And with 890mg (37% recommended daily value), the sodium was a bit high. The prepared dish, when it came out of the microwave, looked different than the product packaging. Instead of beautiful pieces of white meat chicken over well-defined rice noodles, it was more one big mess of saucy meat and noodles. But the taste was good, and it was made with lots of familiar whole ingredients: brown rice noodles, cooked chicken, water, tamari, eggs, onions, sugar, carrots, etc. You get the picture. Overall, a thumbs up.
Like the pad thai, the pepperoni pizza was fairly small, measuring just six inches across, and weighing in with 360 calories and 850mg (35%rdv) sodium. After cooking the pizza in our toaster oven, the edge of the crust got hard and cracker-like. (Overall, the crust texture was much better than Amy’s “mealy” GF pizza crust.) The blend of mozzarella and Monterey jack cheeses gave it a “cheesier” taste, but the pizza could have used a touch more sauce for better crust-to-cheese-to-tomato balance. Overall, though, Kelli and I both came to the same independent conclusion that Glutino’s pepperoni pizza tasted similar to – and as good as – a “typical” frozen gluten pizza.
The bagel chips were very crunchy, almost too much so. But they were as good as any gluten bagel chip we’ve had in the now distant past. They had a pleasant light saltiness. With the right dip, or perhaps a bruschetta topping, they’d be great. One criticism (and this is true of many Glutino baked goods) is that they’re made with almost all gluten-free starches, as opposed to whole grain flours that would have more protein and nutrients. That said, Kelli and I agreed that we liked these bagel chips better than Glutino’s actual bagels.
Poppy Seed Bagels
I’ll say from the outset – the bagels are at a disadvantage. Coming frozen (as so many GF baked goods do), they basically require at least light toasting to make them approachable. Once you do that, though, they’re actually pretty good. They’re a little dense, a little dry, a little small, and nothing at all like a “proper” boiled-then-baked Long Island bagel. But they’re chewy, and perfectly good, and even better when topped with butter or jam or peanut butter or whatever you like.
The sheer diversity – in both breadth and depth of offerings – of the Glutino line is impressive. On the average, for taste and texture, their stuff is pretty good. We have some nutritional criticisms here or there – serving sizes on meals could contain more calories and less salt; baked goods could use more whole flours than refined starches, etc. But overall, there’s much to recommend about Glutino’s line of GF foods.
And if actions speak louder than words, consider these two facts: 1) as I write these words, we have both Glutino crackers and pretzels in our pantry (for the girls), and 2) when traveling, I find it a comfort to see the familiar Glutino name when I’m scanning the grocery store aisles to stock up on some good, GF food while on the road.
All images courtesy Glutino