Purely Elizabeth. Cauli Hot Cereal Review

Purely Elizabeth. Cauli Hot Cereal - Strawberry Hazelnut option

Oatmeal used to be a breakfast favorite and a permanent staple in my pantry. It’s quick, filling and is the perfect breakfast for a cold, snowy day like today. However, on my quest to clean up my diet, I researched oatmeal a bit more. I discovered that most oatmeal on the supermarket shelves, especially the single serve and instant options, are anything but healthy.

For starters, most instant and single serve oatmeal options include a ton of added cane sugar – to the tune of up to 12 grams of added sugar. Plus, they may contain other questionable ingredients like syrups, “natural flavors” and a long list of additives and preservatives. In addition, and probably most scary, is that oats contain glyphosate, the toxic weed-killer in the pesticide Roundup. (Click here for more details. If you can’t bear to give up oatmeal, products that contain organic oats are best – although they may still contain trace amounts of glycosphate.)

And of course, many people like myself who embrace a paleo-based diet are eliminating grains – making oatmeal a no-no. And lastly, oatmeal may be hard to digest for many. While it will likely keep you full for a few hours, oats can be hard on the stomach. Oats contain a protein called avenin, to which some people are allergic to intolerant to. Others may experience a prolonged heavy stomach feeling or some discomfort as you digest the oats. With all that being said and after putting oatmeal on full blast, I am excited to have found a delicious, grain-free “oatmeal” option.

A Ground-breaking New Oatmeal Alternative

I originally came across Purely Elizabeth.’s (and yes they include a period as part of their brand name) Cauli Hot Cereal when placing my latest Target curbside pickup order – which I wrote about here. I am sometimes slightly suspect of cauliflower-based products because cauliflower products are EVERYWHERE these days (rice, crust, crackers, pasta, etc.) and they can sometimes be hit or miss. But, thanks to the Target app, I was able to read the label before adding it to my cart – and the label alone made me want to try this product.

Right on the label, Purely Elizabeth.’s Cauli Hot Cereal claims to be the “first-ever oat-free, cauliflower-based breakfast.” Yes, it is completely grain-free and is also certified gluten-free, non-GMO and certified vegan. Although two varieties/flavors are currently available, this review focuses on the Strawberry Hazelnut variety.

How Does it Look?

Cauli Hot Cereal before the water is added

Upon removing the freshness seal, the Cauli Hot Cereal looks somewhat similar to oatmeal. The big difference is the cauliflower “flakes” are not as robust as actual oats and are smaller than the nuts and seeds included in the cereal.

What are the Ingredients?

I am beyond impressed with the simple clean list of ingredients, many of which are organic. What delights me the most is that cane sugar is not used at all; instead, the paleo friendly coconut sugar alternative is the chosen sweetener. And only 4 grams of added organic coconut sugar is included in one container.

The ingredient list of the Cauli Hot Cereal

What is the Nutritional Profile?

As mentioned above, the single serve container only contains 4 grams of added sugar (with 8 grams of total sugars, which include the natural sugars from the strawberries and other ingredients) – which is a whole lot better than most single serve oatmeal on the market. Each Cauli Hot Cereal container also includes 8 grams of protein, 5 grams of fiber, 40 milligrams of sodium, 11 grams of total fat and small amounts of calcium, iron and potassium. And, an entire container is only 190 calories.

How do I Make Cauli Hot Cereal?

Kettle of hot water

Preparation is very similar to single serve oatmeal. You simply add boiling water to the marked fill line and wait 4-5 minutes to steep. For a quicker option, you can add water to the fill line and cook the container in the microwave for 60 seconds. For a much longer option, the package includes instructions for overnight “oats” which features soaking the oats in milk for 4+ hours. My one recommendation regardless of preparation is to mix everything together with a fork or spoon for about a minute before eating.

How Does it Taste?

While the overall texture is surprisingly similar to traditional oatmeal (with the exception that the Cauli Hot Cereal is a bit crunchier), the taste is drastically different. It took me a few spoonfuls to get used to the taste, but once I did, I really enjoyed it. You do taste a bit of the cauliflower, although it is not as overpowering as I thought it would be. The blend of hazelnuts, almond powder, coconut flakes, coconut sugar, flax seeds and chia seeds is quite tasty. On a disappointing note, I didn’t really taste the freeze-dried strawberries – which one would expect to have a stronger presence in this cereal given that the variety is called Strawberry Hazelnut.

What Varieties are Available?

From what I could find out, it looks like only Strawberry Hazelnut and Cinnamon Almond varieties are available online and in stores. The Cinnamon Almond variety is similar nutritionally compared to the Strawberry Hazelnut variety, except that the Cinnamon Almond variety has a bit less sodium (20 mg vs. 40 mg). It’s important to note as well that online reviewers rate the Strawberry Hazelnut variety a bit higher than the Cinnamon Almond variety – although I enjoyed both equally.

Where Can I Buy It?

As I mentioned, I bought it via Target’s same day pickup through their app. It’s also available for purchase directly from Purely Elizabeth.’s website and at some grocery stores. It is a bit more expensive than single serve oatmeal (which you can often find for about $1 or so) and can range in price from $2.79 – $3.35, depending on the store or website. If you prefer to buy in bulk, Amazon sells a 12 pack for $33.99 (or $30.24 for the Cinnamon Almond variety).

How Do I Rate Cauli Hot Cereal?

Overall, I give Cauli Hot Cereal (Strawberry Hazelnut) 4.25 out of 5 stars. Of course, it is wonderful to even have a hot, grain-free cereal option at all as a breakfast option. I love the inventiveness of Purely Elizabeth. to produce a healthy product that is a much better hot cereal option for most people than oatmeal. While I enjoyed the flavor, I was most impressed that I could eat the entire container without experiencing that heavy, bloated feeling that often follows after eating oatmeal. I subtracted .5 stars because the strawberry flavor was too subtle for my liking. And I subtracted .25 stars because while most ingredients are organic, I would have preferred that all of the ingredients were organic. That’s just being nit picky thought, because the ingredients are super clean.

Purely Elizabeth.’s Cauli Hot Cereal is definitely worth a try if you are looking for a grain-free hot cereal option to replace oatmeal.

Paleo Pancakes – Birch Benders Pancake & Waffle Mix Review

Every once in a while, I crave pancakes for breakfast. It’s usually on the weekends and after a more intense morning workout. I always find this craving to be somewhat odd because I was never too fond of pancakes growing up. (The sames holds true for bagels; while everyone else in my family looked forward to “Bagel Sundays”, I was never a fan … probably due to gluten sensitivity which wouldn’t be diagnosed until many years later.) These days, my diet is (mostly) Paleo and pretty clean. When I do get these random pancake cravings, finding quality pre-made Paleo pancake mixes with clean ingredients has always been always challenging.

Sure, I could always whip up some pancakes from scratch using gluten free flours, eggs, baking powder, salt, oil, almond milk, etc. And I’ve done that many times. Not all recipes or flours are created equal, though. And I often got mixed results. With all of the ingredients and preparation apparatus required, my kitchen was always left in disarray afterwards. (But hey, if you have time and don’t mind some clean up, check out my tasty pumpkin pancakes recipe here.)

I have also tried pre-made mixes before from some of the better known brands (Bob’s Red Mill, Kind Arthur, Stonewall Kitchen, etc.). Some required added ingredients like eggs or (dairy free) milk which really didn’t save much time (or mess) compared to making pancakes from scratch. While most of these mixes tasted great, I was not always thrilled with the less than stellar and sketchy ingredients in some – which include cane sugar, rice flour, potato starch, artificial additives, natural flavors, oils, etc.

Finally a Clean Paleo Pancake Mix!

A few weeks ago I stumbled upon a video posted by FlavCity (who provide paleo and keto shopping tips and content on YouTube), which featured the Birch Benders Keto Pancake and Waffle Mix variety. I was impressed by the clean, simple ingredients. Although the Keto mix is not an option for me since I avoid dairy, I researched the brand and discovered that they also offer a paleo-friendly version.

As the name implies, the paleo version is grain free and contains no added sugar. The ingredients are clean and simple: cassava starch, organic coconut flour, almond flour, eggs, salt, monk fruit (a natural sweetener that does not impact blood sugar levels), and spices.

Ingredients are so clean!

Preparation is Easy

In addition to the amazingly clean ingredients, what I love most about this pancake mix is that you only have to add water. That’s it! You simply mix 3/4 cup of the Birch Benders paleo pancake and waffle mix with 2/3 cup of water and it is ready to go.

I typically add two large spoonfuls of the mixture it to a large frying pan at a time with a tablespoon or two of avocado oil. I flip the pancakes after about 2 minutes and give it a good 2 minutes to cook evenly on the other side. The mixture is enough to make about four small to medium-sized pancakes.

How Does it Compare to Traditional Pancake Mixes?

I am impressed. The pancakes come out fluffy and cook just like regular pancake mixes (including those both with and without gluten). They are slightly lighter in color compared to other pancake mixes. The texture is identical to traditional pancakes, though.

In terms of taste, the pancakes are absolutely delicious. I promise that they will satisfy any pancake craving. I do find the pancakes to taste a bit sweeter than traditional pancakes, which is likely due to the cassava starch and monk fruit natural sweetener. So, your taste buds will notice a bit of a taste difference. In the future, I will likely experiment with adding some vanilla collagen powder and/or canned pumpkin to the mix.

Due to the heightened sweetness, I recommend limiting the amount of maple syrup that you pour on the pancakes and possibly pair it with a less sweet fruit like berries. To balance out the sweetness of the pancakes, consider adding a savory side like a piece of bacon.

My overall rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Where Can I Purchase Birch Benders Paleo & Waffle Mix?

Birch Benders is a bit pricier than most traditional pancake mixes, but many health minded people like myself are likely willing to pay more for top quality, clean ingredients. The cheapest options that I could find are at:

Amazon ($4.88)

Walmart ($4.88)

Target ($4.99)

Click on the links above to try some for yourself today!

One Last Pumpkin Recipe for the Season!

pumpkin-1679827_1280

Wow, Thanksgiving was already over a week ago! Tis the season that time truly does seem to fly.

Presumably like you, I spent the holiday weekend consuming heaps of Thanksgiving leftovers, spending time with loved ones and shopping up a storm. Also like many of you, I had a ton of ingredients left over from my holiday baking and cooking feats. So, I put on my thinking cap and began to concoct some new recipes to ensure the ingredients did not go to waste! Here is one recipe that I devised, which uses one of my favorite ingredients of all time – pumpkin:

Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free Pumpkin Spice Pancakes

Beginning in September, manufacturers, coffee shops, juice joints and restaurants seem to add “pumpkin spice” to just about everything. It’s ubiquitous! As the calendar moves into December, most of the population seems to be “over” the pumpkin craze and already have moved on to December flavors like peppermint, cinnamon spice, gingerbread, etc.

Not me! I consume pumpkin all year round. It’s a staple ingredient in my smoothies, baking and other recipes. Pumpkin is actually one of the healthiest vegetables around. This exciting vegetable, which is part of the squash family, is low in calories and packed with fiber, antioxidants, minerals, vitamins and flavonoids galore. These nutrients are why I try to use pumpkin as much as possible in my cooking/recipes. Click here to learn more about the amazing benefits of pumpkin.

The one recipe I’ve always wanted to tackle is a pumpkin pancake recipe. It’s been years since I’ve eaten pancakes, although I have often craved them. I have never been a fan of the pre-packaged, gluten-free pancake mixes due to some of the suspect ingredients added to the mixes. My only alternative to ever enjoying pancakes again was to make my own.

So, I experimented and came up with the recipe below. Since this recipe is a bit rich, I only suggest reserving it for special occasions, holidays or to satisfy a fierce craving. I also tend to make the pancakes on the smaller side – to prevent from over-indulging.

Pumpkin Spice Pancake Recipe with Toasted Pecans Recipe

What you’ll need:

  • Baking sheet
  • Mixing bowl
  • Measuring cups/spoons
  • Mixing spoon
  • Griddle/skillet

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 tablespoon of coconut oil
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • 1/2 cup pecans
  • 1/3 cup coconut or almond flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk (or coconut milk or cashew milk or blend)
  • 3 large eggs
  • 4 tablespoons of canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie mix)
  • 1 teaspoon real maple syrup
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice (Trader Joe’s has an excellent one)
  • Pinch of sea salt

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°.
  2. Spread pecans on an ungreased baking/cookie sheet. Sprinkle olive oil over pecans and bake for 5 minutes. Remove from oven.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, add the almond milk, eggs, canned pumpkin, vanilla extract and maple syrup. Mix together.
  4. Stir in coconut flour, pumpkin pie spice and the pinch of sea salt. Mix until lumps have disappeared.
  5. Heat a skillet or griddle over medium-low heat. Add coconut oil to the skillet or griddle. Once coconut oil melts, add pumpkin pancake batter to the skillet or griddle at the size that you prefer.
  6. The first batch will take longer than subsequent batches. Watch the first batch closely, when the bottom appears to lightly brown (typically takes about 4 minutes with the first batch), flip the pancake until the second side is lightly browned. With subsequent batches, it should take about 2-3 minutes for each side to lightly brown. Add more coconut oil if needed.
  7. Once finished, sprinkle each pancake with a few toasted pecans and drizzle the pancake with real maple syrup.
  8. Enjoy!

I may be late to the Pumpkin Spice party this year, but this is a recipe that can be enjoyed all year round! The pumpkin transforms these pancakes into a recipe that packs a healthy dose of nutrients. Now, that my pumpkin pancake craving is satisfied, I am suddenly craving peppermint….hmmm.

Start Your Day with a Healthy Protein Punch – Almond Butter Cup Protein Smoothie

smoothie-642125_1280

Breakfast truly does set the tone for the day. In fact, many nutritional experts agree that it is the most important daily meal. With that being said, breakfast is probably the easiest meal to veer off the healthy eating course.

And it is not difficult to do so! Think about it; many common breakfast foods like cereals, pancakes, muffins, granola bars, tarts and even most yogurts are loaded with sugar and other garbage. Eating these foods at breakfast sets you up for a day of blood sugar spikes and potential crashes by mid-day. This is the last thing we need during our busy days!

A Healthy Way to Start Your Day

There are much better ways to start your day. Why not add some healthy protein power to your mornings? Below is my Almond Butter Cup Protein Smoothie recipe that is not only protein-packed (which will keep you full until lunch) but is healthy, features no added sugar and tastes like a decadent dessert.

It’s called Almond Butter Cup because it tastes similar to the popular peanut butter cup candy – except the recipe features almond butter instead of peanut butter. (Almond butter is much healthier than peanut butter for reasons described in my earlier blog post here.)

Chocolate plant-based protein powder serves as the base ingredient of this recipe. Taste is subjective; so, find a protein powder that tastes great to your palate. Also, look for one without any added sugar and unnatural ingredients. (I also make sure any protein powder I purchase is gluten-free, soy-free and dairy-free.) Below are some protein powders that I recommend:

Rebuild Protein Powder – Chocolate

Orgain Plant-Based Protein – Creamy Chocolate Fudge

Sunwarrior – Warrior Raw, Plant-based Protein – Chocolate

Bulletproof Chocolate Collagen

Almond Butter Cup Recipe

cocoa-174872_640

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup of unsweetened almond milk, cashew milk or almond milk/cashew milk combination
  • 2 scoops of chocolate plant-based protein powder
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons of cacao powder (make sure it does not contain added sugars; I use this one.)
  • 1 handful of spinach (or you may use a scoop of green powder if you prefer)
  • 1 handful of shredded carrots
  • 8 frozen or fresh blueberries
  • 3 tablespoons of canned pumpkin (or you may use one small banana instead)
  • 1 heaping tablespoon of almond butter (pick one without unhealthy or unnecessary added ingredients. Click here for guidance in selecting healthy nut butters.)
  • A pinch of pumpkin pie spice
  • A pinch of sea salt
  • 1/4 cup water

Instructions

The instructions couldn’t be any easier. Just place all ingredients in your blender and blend away. A few seconds later, you will have a rich, creamy and protein-packed smoothie that keep you full for hours.

A Tasty Staple in Any Morning Routine

This is one protein smoothie that I can’t get enough of each morning. I literally wake up looking forward to making this tasty treat every day. This smoothie satisfies salty, chocolate and sweet cravings at once – which is rare for a beverage or food. Plus it is not only loaded with plant-based protein, it includes a one-two punch of vitamins and fiber. It’s a must try for anyone who loves peanut butter cup candies!