Product Review: Pao Bread

Pao Bread is a Brazilian cheese bread snack that is commonly sold by street vendors. Now, thanks to Portland entrepreneur Jewelie Schultz, you can get some gluten free and much closer to home. Pao bread, known as pao de queijo in Brazil, is normally made with tapioca starch, cheese, and eggs, so Schultz didn’t have to modify the recipe to make it gluten-free. She did have to discover the right kind of cheese combination to get an authentic flavor. The product is manufactured in a dedicated gluten-free facility here in Portland.

The bread comes pre-measured into balls, frozen, and ready to bake. They take about twenty minutes to bake and are crisp on the outside and chewy on the inside. We got our hands on some samples courtesy of the baker herself (see our disclosure policy) and tried them out. We also gave some to a few of our friends and taste-testers. Here’s what it looks like fresh out of the oven.

After a bite…

What these totally remind me of is a snack I used to make for myself when I would get home from high school. My friends and I would get home, go to the kitchen, wrap some cheddar cheese in a wheat tortilla, and microwave it. If you microwaved it correctly, the cheese would bubble and the tortilla would be delicious. They also taste kind of like goldfish crackers, but are much more of a texture sensation. Everybody we had try them, including ourselves, thought they were good. Schultz lived in Brazil as an exchange student, and did her best to come up with a recipe that tasted authentic.

Here’s a list of the ingredients: tapioca starch, eggs, safflower oil, cheddar cheese (cultured milk, salt, enzymes, annatto (color)), Parmesan cheese (pasteurized part-skim milk, cheese cultures, salt, enzymes), milk, water, kosher salt. The ingredient list is pretty short, and there isn’t any leavener. I was going to say that they’re pretty allergen-free until I noticed that they’ve got egg and dairy. On the minus side, the number one ingredient is tapioca starch, which we’ve discussed before, and has almost no nutritional value. Thanks to the eggs and the cheese, though, this probably isn’t as bad as a lot of the gluten-free breads out there. And hey! – We’re talking about a snack here, anyway.

And as a snack, it’s pretty hard to go wrong with something like this. They’re quick, easy to make, and kind of fun. They’re locally made, which is cool. I always like supporting local small businesses. Paobread is available at the Portland and Lake Oswego Lamb’s Markets, the Eastmoreland Market, and the Alberta Co-Op, among other places. You can also get them at the Moreland and Montavilla Farmers Markets. See their website for more details on where to buy. Here’s their website for more information.

Product Review: Glutino Gluten Free Frozen Pizzas

Here at Gluten Free Portland Laboratories, we are always ready to sacrifice our taste-buds to help the GF cause. We are especially happy to make such sacrifices when it involves gluten-free pizza! So when I was in Whole Foods recently and spied the Glutino brand Duo Cheese Gluten Free Frozen Pizza, it was a very easy decision to make.

Glutino Gluten Free Frozen Pizza

As you can see from the picture, these babies are $4.99. It also needs to be noted that the box is waaaay bigger than the pizza and according to the manufacturer, one pizza is one serving. A serving in this case is 420 calories. Here are the ingredients: water, mozzarella-brick cheese (pasteurized milk, cheese cultures, salt, calcium chloride, enzyme), corn starch, tapioca starch, tomatoes (tomato paste, tomatoes, tomato juice, citric acid, calcium chloride), safflower oil, onion, evaporated cane juice, green peppers, modified corn starch, egg whites, salt, guar gum, glucono-delta-lactone, yeast extract, pectin, sugar, sodium bicarbonate, sodium alginate, modified cellulose, Parmesan cheese (pasteurized milk, cheese cultures, salt, calcium chloride, enzyme, cellulose), spices, garlic.

As you can see, they contain milk and eggs. Although the ingredients are kind of on the health-food side, we can’t fool ourselves into thinking these aren’t processed when there’s more “glucono-delta-lactone” in the pizza than Parmesan Cheese. LOL. In addition the manufacturer says they may contain traces of soy. I always mention the salt content in these reviews, so I have to say these have 560 mg of salt. Here’s what they look like out of the bag.

Gluten Free Frozen Pizza

We couldn’t just pop these in the oven without adding some toppings of our own.

Gluten Free Pizza

Sienna added pesto, mushrooms and garlic. I added black olives and garlic.

Gluten Free Pizza out of the Oven

They look pretty good huh? We were pretty excited to try them, but even with the additional items we put on these, the pizzas weren’t very good. The crusts were good and we both liked them. At the same time, they definitely taste like frozen pizzas, which is to say kind of tasteless. I think like my recent review of Trader Joe’s Gluten Free Mac and Cheese, there are probably people who really like frozen pizzas, and will appreciate a gluten free one. We were kind of underwhelmed. If we were to do it again, we would probably add our own sauce.

Since we liked the crusts, and since you can get four Glutino pizza crusts of the same size for the price of the frozen pizza, we might consider getting some crusts and making pizza with them in the future, but we probably won’t try the pre-prepared frozen pizzas again.

We want to know: I’d love to hear from some frozen pizza fans to see if these Glutino Gluten Free Pizzas compare well to the real thing. What did you think of the crusts? Let us know in the comments.

Times we have visited: once (but we feel confident about our score.)
Overall rating: 2 out of 5 stars
Price compared to “regular”: We think more expensive