Friday, July 10, 2015

Organic Vanilla Bean Powder for Alcohol-Free Gluten-Free Baking [Review]

Healthy baking is one of my passions in life. I love trying to new healthy recipes and I also love taking tried and true recipes and substituting healthy ingredients. Sometimes the recipes turn out well. Sometimes, I am the only one eating "healthy muffins." My new favorite ingredient is Organic Vanilla Bean Powder. Vanilla Bean Powder gives you the true, natural vanilla taste, without the carrier liquids such as alcohol or glycerin.

Sunny Day Organics Organic Vanilla Bean Powder      
Rating: total green check marks out of 5.

The Good
The Not So Good
100% raw and organic
Price on the expensive side
Fair Trade

Packaged right after grinding

Package seals tight

Sunny Day Organics Organic Vanilla Bean Powder comes in a 4.23 oz bag. This size might seem small, but you only need a little bit of the vanilla powder, so a little goes a long way. I have been using about 1/2 - 1 tsp each time. The bag contains 30 teaspoons. For the price point, this is on the expensive side, so I would probably be conservative with when I use the vanilla powder and with what foods.

A vanilla bean is the dried seed pod of the vanilla plant. The sun-dried seed pod is ground to make vanilla bean powder, which is a beautiful dark brown color. The powder is a pretty fine consistency, but not super powdered like powder sugar. It mixed well with other items and is not distinguishable. When baking or cooking with it, the vanilla flavor comes through once the items is baked or cooked.

Usage: Vanilla bean powder can be used for just about any culinary use. Of course, you could also use it for body products, but at the current price point, I recommend using it for culinary uses so you can gain the benefits of the vitamins and minerals in this raw product. Vanilla bean powder can be used as a substitute for vanilla extract. Substitute ratio: 1:1.

My Usage: Sunny Day Organics recommends adding a teaspoon to ground coffee before brewing, but I added 1/4 teaspoon to my already brewed coffee cup. I whisked it in with a fork. The powder does not dissolve all the way, but I also did not notice it in the coffee. The vanilla bean powder gave the coffee a really rich and creamy taste, but not overpowering. I usually drink my coffee with 1/2 tsp of grass-fed butter whisked in. The vanilla bean powder on top of the butter was delicious! I have also used the vanilla bean powder in smoothies. For smoothies, I had to add more (1 tsp or more) because the flavor got lost in all of the other flavors.

My Thoughts: The vanilla powder straight out of the bag has a strong vanilla taste, creamy and rich. I tasted a little on my finger because I read some reviews that the raw vanilla powder does not have any taste. My batch had a prominent vanilla taste. In coffee, smoothies, and baked goods, it adds a delicious flavor. My favorite way to use the vanilla powder has been in coffee. I love that I can taste the vanilla flavor. Mostly likely, I will use the vanilla bean powder for small culinary uses like whisking into coffee, sprinkling on top of yogurt, or in simple flavored baking goods. I have yet to try this powder in baked good (have been on a baking hiatus lately).

Here are some of the ways I used the powder and the results:
  1. Straight out of the bag on my finger - moderate vanilla taste after a few seconds
  2. Whisked into coffee with a fork (1/4 tsp) - moderate vanilla flavor; can definitely tell it is in there (might be good to have a fat like dairy/butter for it to bind with); no gritty taste
  3. Added to smoothie (1/2 tsp) - no vanilla flavor; got lost among the other strong flavors
  4. Mixed into yogurt (1/4 tsp) - very faint flavor, could not really taste
  5. Added to banana pancakes (1/2 tsp) - could not really taste
While in some uses, I could really taste the vanilla flavor, in other uses, the flavor was masked by the other ingredients and did not come through as expected. In those cases, I would probably add more of the powder.

Organic vanilla bean powder is a great substitute for traditional vanilla extract that is usually in alcohol or glycerin. If you are living a gluten-free life or you would like to avoid giving items with alcohol to your child, then Sunny Day Organics vanilla bean powder is perfect for you!

Disclosure: I received the product to facilitate this review. No other compensation was received. All opinions are my own and are honest.

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