Product Review: “Know Better” Brand Cake Mix

If you love to cook but don’t have time — and you want a treat but you’re on keto — it’s like a double whammy. Will this cake mix solve for this conundrum? Here’s the skinny on this keto cake mix (found at Wegman’s). It’s available online but for a horrific price. $9.00 for a cake mix? I found it at Wegman’s and thought I’d give it a shot.

Know Better Brand Chocolate Chip Cake Mix

I’ve tried the “Simple Mills” almond flour cake mixes but man, seventeen carbs per cupcake or muffin! Nooooooo. If you’re doing low-carb (but not keto), those mixes are okay. If you have forty or fifty carbs, then a 17 carb muffin is not going to blow your whole day. But if you’re striving to hold the line at 20 or 30 carbs like me, that dog won’t hunt.

I found the Know Better brand chocolate chip cake mix at Wegman’s — hey, this looks better! Only 5 grams of carb per muffin or snack cake serving. Yes, it says it’s cake mix but really, it’s very much a “muffin” consistency. Here was something I could throw together on a moment’s notice when I wanted something chocolate. Perhaps something to smuggle into the movies.

I made the mix as directed. One and quarter cup of water. You can’t get simpler than that. After giving it a good mixing, you put it in a pan–I would highly recommend you line that pan with parchment paper. This is a sticky dough.

The instructions tell you to let the dough rest for fifteen minutes after you put it into the pan or (in my case) the muffin cups. Chia seeds take the place of eggs in this product. The dough has to rest in order for the chia seeds to “bloom.”

I made about six of the muffins in the approved fashion, then I decided to amp it up, to see if my non-keto son would approve of the muffins. I baked the first six as directed at 425 F — a pretty hot oven.

The muffins came out tasty, but with a dryish texture even though I took them out promptly at the 25 minute mark.   Perhaps the cake pan might be a better idea if you’re only going to use the cake mix as is. The oven seemed to have been too hot. The bottom of the muffins were very dry. For nine dollars, roughly a little less than a dollar a muffin– I expected better. But they were acceptable with the typical heavy keto density. Not all that much better than other almond flour products, but convenient.

The Better Version

I added in 1 1/2 tablespoons of cocoa powder and an equal amount of Swerve to the remaining dough to create a “chocolate” version. I also added about 8 mini-chocolate chips to the top of each muffin, to enhance the chocolate flavor. This way I would have a “as-is” version and an amped up version.

The better version was by far the favorite–but I also cut the baking time down to 20 minutes. This reduced the dryness — these muffins are easy to overbake!

The next day, I both WANTED and ENJOYED this amped up version. But there are cheaper and better recipes for keto muffins. This is an acceptable convenience product (for a ridiculous price).

Low-Carb Pasta: “Palmini” — A Review

One of the advantages of being in keto groups is you get to hear about all kinds of new products. “Palmini” — a low-carb pasta made from palm hearts–sounded too good to be true! Pasta at 4g carbs per serving?  I wanted to give this  try. 

Buying Palmini

This product was a creation of a “shark tank” investment and is currently not widely found in stores–but it is on Amazon.  

Palmini is available in a four ounce pouch (for 7 dollars) and a 14 ounce can size.  The pouch can feed one person; the can can feed 4-6 people — but you have to buy a CASE of it (six cans!)!  Buying the case brings the cost down to 27 dollars (which makes it a little over 5 bucks a can — MUCH more affordable than the pouch per serving)– but the six ounce pouch was good enough for a try-out.  After all, 27 bucks is an investment. Color me uncertain about this purchase, despite the rave reviews I’ve heard.

 The pouch says it holds about 2.5 servings in there — and that’s about right.  This is not a product to feed the whole family — just the one keto member who would like to be included on pasta night. The pouch is resealable, so I was able to get out just one largish serving, about half the pouch, seal it up and put in the fridge for another time later in the week. Not sure how long this will keep in the fridge — probably about as long as any other vegetable. 

The Palmini Package

WHAT is Palmini? 

Palmini is simply a lightly processed product made of  “hearts of palm” — a vegetable with very low carbs — which have been pressed and extruded to resemble short strands of fettucini pasta.  Think of it as an improvement over “zoodles” (those zucchini noodles you can now find in stores).  

I eat zoodles but I’m not happy about it.  I still haven’t figured out the best way to cook them so that they have a taste and texture that is  more “noodly” and less “vegetabley.”

Out of the box, they feel like soft, flat zoodles–only white, in short, straight strands about 2-3 inches long.  I followed the directions to rinse them well, and then the optional direction: let them sit in milk for fifteen to thirty minutes — to improve their (not unpleasant)  vegetable smell. 

Palmini, ready for the sauce
*The specks are some stray Italian seasoning from my pasta sauce*

You can them just eat them with sauce. OR you can boil them for five to ten minutes more to make them softer.  I chose to give to boil them because at 3.50 a plate?  I wanted a truly pasta experience. 

I went slightly beyond the directions: I seasoned the boiling water, just like real pasta, with a dollop of olive oil and lots of salt, just as one should prepare regular pasta.  Some stray Italian seasoning got into the pasta water — as I was fixing my red sauce — and that’s where the specks on the plate came from. 

The Results

The noodles are pretty darned close to real pasta.   I boiled them for about six minutes.  The texture was close to a slightly al dente wheat fettucini.   They picked up the red sauce flavor very well and within a few bites, I was only faintly aware of their vegetable nature.  I also couldn’t stop thinking about how perfect these would be for a low-carb phad Thai recipe I’ve been working on. Hmmmmmm.  And for fettucini alfredo.  And tuna noodle casserole.  And, and, and!! 

By the end of the plate, I was a very happy camper.  

The Carby Facts

Palmini consists of palm hearts, water and salt — and fumaric acid (to preserve it) . At 4 carbs–2 of which are fiber — how can you beat that?  A serving is net TWO carbs.   I expect to buy more palmini — and hope it gets into stores soon.  Until then, here’s a link to the pouch portion on Amazon. 

I will in all likelihood pony up for a case in the near future.  

Namaste!  ~Lola