I was riding in a car toward JFK, after speaking at an incredible symposium about the future of gluten-free, sponsored by Mary’s Gone Crackers. (I’ll be sharing some stories about this day soon.) The two young women who had helped to organize the symposium were headed to the airport. I would be going there in a couple of hours. I was heading to see the owner of Garden Lites first.
Both young women, who work in PR and thus spend a lot of time in offices, asked me about Garden Lites. What did they make? Why was I going to an office near JFK?
“They’re our newest sponsors,” I told them. “They make good frozen gluten-free meals.”
Specifically, Garden Lites makes frozen souffles and dishes with real vegetables, without un-pronouncable chemicals and additives. For example, the carrot souffle contains: carrots, egg whites, cane juice, raisins, cornstarch, brown rice flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. It sounds like something we’d make in our own kitchen.
And of course, it’s gluten-free.
To be honest, Danny and I don’t eat a lot of frozen meals. We’re at home, cooking. It’s our job. But when I described these frozen meals to these young women, they both said immediately, “Can you tell me where to find them? Because I want to eat that at work.”
And this is why we’re happy to announce that Garden Lites is our newest sponsor.
This is real food. The vegetarian souffles are free of gluten, lactose, any kind of nuts, MSG, or trans fats. They’re kosher, as well.
And they taste good. Sometimes when you hear that a food is a string of –free, you might think the taste comes last. But Danny and I only recommend food that truly tastes good.
To be honest, we receive a box of new gluten-free foods every day at our home. So many companies are trying to make quality gluten-free food and they all seem to want to send it to us. Most of it is not that good. Some of it is terrible. Some of it is just okay. But around here, we only want to recommend the food that is truly good, the food we’d buy on our own and feed it to Lu.
We received the first batch of Garden Lites frozen dishes to try back in March. We were in the middle of a very tumultuous time — finishing the first draft of our cookbook and moving to a new home — and we were grateful for something ready to eat. Danny, in particular, was astonished at how good these tasted. “These taste like real food,” he said. (He likes the pizza flavor best. I like the zucchini pasta dishes.)
Since then, we’ve put more in our freezer for especially busy times.
That’s how I found myself in an office on a street a few blocks from JFK, meeting Jeff and Julie. We like to have an authentic connection with the companies with whom we work on sponsorship. But this was the first time I had been in the office, at the warehouse, hearing the story of how the company began.
(It actually began when Jeff came up with a recipe for a kosher kugel, which all of his friends adored.)
As we talked and shared stories, Julie brought out something for me to eat. “Here,” she said. “We really want you to try this.”
I took a bite and then did a double take. “What is this?”
It was a chocolate muffin, nothing like the sometimes-dry gluten-free muffins on the market. The first two ingredients in the muffin? Zucchini and carrots. Turns out these little muffins are filled with vegetables. (I know a lot of moms who will be pretty excited about these.) They also contain high-quality cocoa powder and gluten-free flours.
Lu has been enjoying them in her lunches ever since. She calls them “the little chocolate cupcakes.” We don’t need to correct her.
Garden Lites makes good, gluten-free foods and we’re happy to be working with them here. We think you’ll want to try the vegetable souffles and veggie muffins too. (The veggie muffins are available at Costcos across the Northeast right now. Ask your local store to stock them soon. Use this page to find a store stocking the frozen souffles near you.)
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to have a small zucchini-chocolate muffin with a cup of tea.