One of the coolest things about working at the GFAF Wellness Events is that I’ve learned about so many local brands that produce allergy-friendly foods. It’s easy to be aware of the big-name brands that sell their products on a national level, but the smaller, local companies are often the hidden gems of the food allergy product world.
At the Raleigh GFAF Event a few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to meet Michael Cusato, the president of Kalo Foods LLC, a gluten-free baked goods company. Located in Stokesdale, NC, Kalo Foods is dedicated to making and providing a variety of delicious gluten-free bakery products. The company was co-founded by two men whose wives have Celiac Disease and gluten intolerance, so products are made with the care and safe practices needed to eliminate any cross-contact potential.
Kalo Foods produces a variety of goodies, from cakes and brownies, to pizza crusts and croutons. Their products do contain dairy, however, so I wasn’t able to try any of the samples at the expo. After speaking with Mr. Cusato, he told me that the baking mixes they sell – pancake and brownie mixes – could be prepared without dairy, and sent me both so that I could try them out! BONUS – these mixes are even corn-free. Mr. Cusato told me that even their xanthan gum is derived from cabbage instead of corn.
I decided to try the brownies first (because chocolate). At first, I was a bit taken aback by the amount of extra ingredients that needed to be added, but then I realized that the mix was enough for two 8×8 pans of thin brownies. I just put everything into one 8×8 pan, and it worked just fine. Who wants small brownies anyways, right? 😉
I thought that the recipe was very straightforward, and the brownies turned out great. Since I cooked the entire mixture in one pan, I had to increase the baking time by about 15 minutes, but once the brownies were done, they were the perfect texture – crunchy on the outside, and just short of underbaked in the very center. I added pecans and sea salt as well, both of which were a good touch. My non-GF family members all liked the brownies as well – they’ve had multiple allergy-friendly variations on classic desserts, and they agreed that these were comparable to regular brownies.
The next day for lunch, I made the pancakes. After trying out a different GF pancake mix last week, I was interested in comparing the two. I didn’t have my griddle since I was at home, but the batter was still easy to flip in a large pan – definitely a plus! Especially since I’m not always very good at flipping pancakes. I ended up making a variety of chocolate chip, chocolate chip and pecan, and plain pancakes to make things interesting.
These pancakes were super fluffy, which was really exciting to me! Especially since the mix I tried last week made thinner, flapjack style pancakes. The taste was just what I remembered my mom’s pancakes tasting like back in the day. I’m so used to making fancy flavored-pancakes or coconut flour pancakes, that I totally forgot what the original kind tastes like. They were good! The fresh ones were also a bit crispy on the outside, which I liked – although this probably won’t carry over to the microwaved version I’ll be making with leftovers this week. Both the plain and the chocolate chip pancakes were very good.
Overall, I was very impressed with the quality and taste of these baking mixes. It can sometimes be a bit tricky to make allergy-friendly baked goods have the same texture as those made with wheat flour, but the flour mixture Kalo Foods uses hits the mark. Good job guys, and thanks so much for the opportunity to try and review your products!