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Every now and then we will have a company email us and say, "We want to send you our product for review." Our reply is usually to the effect of "Have you read the Dr. Gourmet reviews? You know, they are not always so nice." But companies persist, and to be honest, I am pretty happy because then I don't have to pay for the food that we review.
In this case the company was Food for Life. They make a wide variety of gluten free breads, tortillas, and English muffins, and we have reviewed some of them. In nearly every case their products have ranged from mediocre to terrible. When the product arrived, all I could think was, "Didn't you guys use the search box at DrGourmet.com to see what we've said about your product before?" If they had, they would have noted that we called their Brown Rice Tortillas "cardboard." History does have a tendency to repeat itself, but read on to the end: there is some good news for you whether you have to eat gluten free bread or not.
The food they sent were four breads from their Sprouted for Life brand. The last time we had their bread (along with some other brands) the review was not favorable. In their defense, making gluten free bread is challenging, but many people are getting better and better at it, including Udi's, who makes a bread that has a flavor and texture much like whole wheat as well as good baguettes and whole grain rolls.
Back in the 70s when you wanted bread like this you had to go to a health food store, which had a distinctive earthy aroma. It came from the ubiquitous vitamins on sale and I think that defines why the mainstream doesn't shop at such stores – they smell like dirt, or more accurately, warm peat moss. The first two breads we sampled had that same health food store aroma and the taste of dirt. The Flax and Original 3 Seed breads were fairly similar to each other, with an earthy, astringent, but interestingly, not altogether offensive flavor of dirt. It's an acquired taste, but not one that I want to cultivate for myself. The texture of these two breads is nice but not very good for making sandwiches without toasting the bread first, and toasted or not, both of these breads are very dry.
The Almond bread they sent has less of the flavor of dirt and replaces it with a slight almond flavor - but not in a good way. I am not sure that I thought I would ever say, "I wish this bread tasted more like dirt," but the almond in this bread tastes artificial and very much out of place. I simply don't understand this recipe. The flavor is weird. Like the other breads, the texture is too dry for sandwiches, but it does toast well. Toasting cannot, however, overcome the very bad flavor.
All three do have the redeeming value of being higher in fiber than most gluten free breads – 3 to 4 grams per slice - and are very low in sodium, which is great to see. Yes, they are better for me, but if the price of being healthier is having to eat dirt, I am not interested.
The good (great) news is that they also sent a loaf of their Cinnamon Raisin bread. That's not good news but great news. Quite simply, this is the best store bought cinnamon raisin bread I have ever tasted. It is dense, with the texture of a light pumpernickel, that toasts very well and has a fantastic cinnamon flavor. Most wheat versions of cinnamon raisin bread are doughy and light, but this bread has a nice firm crumb that goes well with the generous amount of raisins. The bread is slightly sweet, but not overly so, as most cinnamon raisin breads on the market tend to be. All in all, a very good bread made better by the fact that a slice is only 110 calories (pretty good for gluten free bread), contains 3 grams of fiber (very good for a gluten free bread) and 95 milligrams of sodium (amazing for any bread).
In short, we are happy to have folks send us stuff so we don't have to buy products to review, but the track record for those sending foods is not all that great. In this case, Food for Life gets a very big thumbs down for their dirt flavored breads, but a huge round of applause for their Cinnamon Raisin bread.
Off to the toaster for a slice now.
First posted: May 29, 2015