Wednesday, January 26, 2011

You say it's your Birthday!

This Saturday is my lil bro's birthday.
He's not so little any more and I won't out him on a global platform but the fam is getting together tonight to celebrate his decades on the planet and it's MY responsiblity to bring the cake (otherwise I don't get to eat any!)

I've had great success with Betty Crocker's Gluten Free baking mixes before and opted for the Devil's Food Chocoalte mix for this occassion. **Like I've mentioned before, some products that are labeled Gluten Free may not be safe for all with an intolerance or Celiac. The PPB (parts per billion) required for the GF label may be more than you can tolerate. This is more than I understand right now so my disclaimer sure you check with your doctor if you have questions!

To me, these mixes are a blessing because they are quick and easy just like a Betty Crocker Mix should be, and they pass the family taste test. Some GF cake mixes or prepared cakes we've tried in the past taste gluten free (as my kids put it). The Betty Crocker mixes just taste like awesome cake; my family actually prefers them over store bought cake. Our only wish...they'd offer it in more flavors! They are pricier than regular mixes at around $3.50 to $4.50 a box but given the alternative of not having cake...I spend the extra couple of bucks!

Tonight's cake is a layer cake with Polaner's Seedless Raspberry Fruit Spread between the layers and a vanilla glaze. Can you say YUM?

And in the mornin, I'm makin WAFFLES!

This morning as I "oohed and aahed" over breakfast my hub said, "I remember when you cried because you thought you'd never eat anything good again....and then you'd eat something that you shouldn't (with gluten) and feel even worse!" And he's right, I would. I would get sooo mad that they could eat whatever they wanted and I had to eat cardboard that I'd just say SCREW IT and gluten myself.

I don't do that anymore
And I don't want you to EVER do that!

My response was immediate and heartfelt, "THAT's why I started my blog!"
And indeed that IS why I have started this share my gluten-free nuggets of wisdom and tricks I've learned along the way and share nummy product and recipe ideas.

And today's product IS INDEED nummy!

Van's Natural Foods Wheat and Gluten Free Apple Cinnamon Waffles.

They are very apple-y.
They toast up nicely and do not get crumbly when you cut into them and they smell glorious while they are toasting!
The best part? They TASTE like waffles.

Van's makes these waffles in several different varieties. We have a box of the blueberry in the freezer now...I think I know what's for breakfast tomorrow!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Get Me a Lil' Country Fried

My hub's 2nd plate (forgot to snap a pic of the pretty first serving...forgive the gravy smudge!)

Every once in a while you just gotta break down and get a lil' country fried. It has been a LONG while since we've done that in our household...breading AND gravy??? UM yeah, a gluten-intolerant's nightmare...NO MORE :)
I must admit I was extremely wary of trying this recipe. We've had several botched attempts at fried chicken, biscuits that are better served as hockey pucks and gravy that has tasted like wallpaper paste (don't ask me how I know that)...but my grocer had a great deal on some pork patties *yeah I know it's supposed to be country fried steak or chicken...but in the country, you fry what you got...or what you got on sale!

This turned out GREAT. I served it with GF mashed potatoes and steamed veggies and I made a side of mac and cheese for the rest of the family. *I DO have a great GF Mac and Cheese but I figured my hips were gonna take enough of a hit with the Country FRIED with GRAVY so I passed on that :)

As I said, I used ground pork but you can use whatever meat you prefer shaped or pounded to 1/4 inch thick
Preheat oven to 350 degrees

1 C rice flour (I used white rice flour)
1 C corn starch
1 Tbsp baking soda
Salt, Pepper to taste
2 eggs plus 1 egg white
1/2 c milk (next time I make this, I will use buttermilk)

Mix your dry ingredients in a large bowl
Mix eggs and milk in medium bowl
Dip each patty in the egg mixture then cover with flour mixture
Fry each side for 2 min
Place in oven to thoroughly cook through to the center while frying other patties.

3 cups of milk
1/4 c Corn starch
salt to taste

Mix 2 cups of milk with the salt and pepper on the stove until warm
In a separate cup, mix the remaining cup of milk and the corn starch until well blended.
Increase the heat and add the milk/cornstarch mixture to the milk on the stove and stir. BE SURE NOT TO LET THE MILK BOIL or it will scald (yuk!)
Continue stirring and let it simmer for 2 to 3 minutes.
Remove from heat.
Gravy will thicken upon standing.

I let the meat continue cooking in the oven for 10 minutes after frying to ensure doneness and it was perfect!
We'll add crumbled sausage to the gravy next time AND try out the new Gluten Free biscuit mix from Bisquick!

Monday, January 17, 2011

French Fried Onions: Recipe

Holiday meals have been some of the hardest for me during my first few years living GF. Cooking everyday meals for your immediate family is one thing, but holidays typically bring extended family, friends and foods that are traditionally non-GF. Ask someone to change their recipe and WHOA you could turn the entire month upside down!

My hub is great about these kinds of events. If the host or hostess isn't willing to make a concession, we just bring our own GF fare and HE eats it with me; even with a big basket of dinner rolls wafting under his nose!

Thanksgiving is a biggie: Stuffing, Casseroles, Rolls and yes, even your turkey could have some hidden gluten.If you are new to the gluten-free diet, you may not realize that there could be gluten in the frozen turkeys at the grocery store. It is not always clearly marked. I looked at one this week that said it had turkey broth in it. I didn’t do any further research into it, but I’m guessing it had gluten in it. So I passed it up and went for the turkey that clearly said it was gluten-free on the label.

In years past we've gone alternative and created our own holiday traditions but you know....eventually you're gonna want a bite of Green Bean Casserole!
At the Popoff Place we don't save giving thanks for November, we do it up several times a year and while yesterday's turkey was roasting, I attempted some homemade french fried onions.
*I hear there are some gluten-free pre-packaged ones available through Seneca, but my local grocer doesn't carry them and I had all the ingredients on hand.
homemade GF french fried onions

2 medium onions sliced thin (this was enough for the top of our casserole)

enough milk to cover sliced onions in a pre-soak wash

GF flour mix: I used 
1/2 c white rice flour
1/2 c brown rice flour
1/2 c garbanzo/fava bean flour
salt and pepper to taste.

Place all dry ingredients into large ziploc bac and shake to mix well.

Soak thinly sliced onions in milk wash.
Shake small batches of soaked onions in the flour mixture and fry in light vegetable oil until light brown. Be sure to do small batches at a time so the onions cook evenly.

*What I learned*
If using as a topping for a baked casserole, fry onions until they are a tad lighter than what you would like them as they will bake up darker in the oven.

Take a picture of said casserole before the family eats it! :)
I'l get one next time!

Friday, January 14, 2011

What about non-food products?

This post is inspired by a sweet friend of my brother.
So what about the gluten in make-up, skin-care and hair care products? Do we really need to worry about them since we don't ingest them?

**Remember I'm not a doctor and EVERYTHING I've learned about my tolerance for gluten is based on my own personal experience and research.**

photo credit

My lipstick collection was the first thing to go for obvious reasons. Although can I mention, it wasn't obvious to me in the first place. I didn't make that gluten in lipstick = ingested gluten connection for a couple of months.

Once I started cleaning my make-up house, everything went.I didn't care that I had never tasted mascara, I wasn't taking any chances. Maybe I was a bit paranoid but I knew all too well how gluten made me feel and I wasn't giving it a chance to sneak in. I researched some basic options (cha-ching$$$) and settled a powder, eyebrow pencil, mascara and lip balm....It's amazing what you don't need!

I didn't stop at cosmetics, I ditched all of my moisturizers and hair care products too. I went on a 'poo free revolution (wanna know all about it here) Now, while there is debate on whether or not hair care and skin care products should be considered when avoiding gluten for me, it was a no brainer... Gluten MESSES ME UP.

The results, for me, have been so grand I wouldn't think of going back to my old ways. I'm thrilled with my new skin care regimen and my hair has NEVER looked better...and I don't worry that I might gluten myself.
Because it is possible
If I have to worry about cross contamination in a cutting board or counter top, why wouldn't I consider the fact that product rinses down over my face and mouth when I wash my hair or face?
It sounds like such a little thing
but I've learned in this battle...
little things mean A LOT.

and besides...
everyone is jealous of my hair ;)

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Udi's Gluten Free White Sandwich Bread

I've tried a lot of GF breads over the past 2 years and every one of them was GREAT for its time.
I hadn't eaten bread in months so when I took my first bite of GF bread I thought it was wasn't it was cardboard but dang it I was eating a PB & J and I didn't care that it tasted bad.

My bread taste buds have grown.
Actually, they revolted and now only settle for Udi's Gluten Free White Sandwich Bread. They may actually settle for any of the other Udi breads, but my local grocer only carries the White Sandwich Bread variety and in our quest to make GF living easy, I only buy what I can find in my grocer (or have them order for me).

This bread tastes like a good Italian bread. The crust is crispy and the bread doesn't crumble. I eat it toasted, don't know that I've tried it untoasted but it's just my sandwich preference.

My hub LOVES this bread. He's not GF but is concerned with cross contamination and supportive so if I've gotta eat it, he's at least gonna try it. ~grin~

I enjoyed Premium Harvest Corn Bread by Glutino before tasting Udi's while visiting my friend in Austin. It's another great GF bread option but in my opinion, only good toasted. Alas, Udi's won my heart. I even considered shipping some back home as I had never found it in my area. Lucky for me several grocers now carry it on a regular basis and at a cost comparison of $6.19 for Glutino and $4.79 for Udi's...taste and price win!

Gluten Free Expo!

I heard some GREAT news today for those of you in South Florida and the surrounding areas (like ME!) there is a HUGE Gluten Free expo coming to West Palm Beach in February 2011!

Can you imagine it?!?! Aisles and aisles of GF goodies for the tasting, snacking, sampling and olgling!
Can't wait! I'll be there, will you?
Not to worry, I'll bring back lots of great info for sure!

South Florida Gluten Free Food Expo
Saturday, February 19, 2011

Location: South Florida Fairgrounds (Expo East Building)
9067 Southern Blvd
West Palm Beach, FL 33421
We've made some very important changes to our venue. It was so crowded at the Civic Center with over 1300 people attending, that we decided to quadruple our Expo space to 25,000sf vs. the 6,400sf from past years.  We're going to have real exhibitor booths, so now you'll be able to stroll down the aisles, shop, and sample items too.  We expect to have over 100 booths all to serve the growing Gluten Free industry! Please mark your calendars and Save the Date.
It's going to be Fantastic!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Nature Valley Gluten Free Roasted Nut Crunch Almond Bar

Since going Gluten Free one of the toughest things for me has been finding a quick on the go food. Convenience and GF do NOT go together often. There's no such thing as fast food or convenient store shopping...well not usually. 
Now I'll admit that's not a bad could do worse never cruising through another drive-through our perusing a 7-11 snack shelf...but there ARE times when you NEED a snack. Life happens and packing safe isn't always easy.

Today I tried a Nature Valley Roasted Nut Crunch Almond Bar and it's another treat I'll be keeping in the cupboard. It is a bit salty for my liking but perfect for days when the fam takes a long hiking or canoe trip or when I'm stuck with the cheerios waiting on a delay of game!

The other nice perk...they were NO MORE EXPENSIVE than the other Nature Valley offerings so the fam can eat them too and I won't grumble when they do! least in my grocer, they were stocked right next to other granola bars. (I personally just like SHOPPING...without being confined to a "section" of the store).

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Namaste Foods Gluten Free Muffin Mix

We started the New Year right with Cran-Blueberry muffins made with Namaste Foods Gluten Free Muffin Mix.

I'll admit I was quite nervous about these. We've had horrible luck with biscuit mixes in the past with results that looked and tasted more like plaster pucks than anything remotely interesting for breakfast.

Nerves have been quelled! These muffins are fabulous. I stuck with the straightforward recipe on the package. I added 1 cup of blueberry juice infused dried cranberries to the batter and sprinkled the tops with stevia and cinnamon. The package directions call for a baking time of 12 - 15 minutes in a 400 degree oven. I baked them on the middle rack in two separate muffin pans lined with paper cups and they took a total of 18 minutes to bake.

Nine minutes into baking a peeked through the oven window and exclaimed, "They're poofing up!" This is a big deal with GF baked goods. As you can see from the picture above, they rose nicely and as my daughter would say, look like muffins inside and out. The package made 12 generously sized muffins that were moist and cakey not crumbly like some other baking debacles we've experienced.

The proof was in the tasting. I served them up warm with a dab of butter and they passed muster.
Next time we'll veer off the basic package directions and add some pure vanilla extract to the base mix, then they will be perfect.

I can see them mixing well with bananas and walnuts or dark chocolate chips and dried strawberries and there is a recipe for Lemmon Poppyseed Bread on the side of the package we'll definitely try.

At a price of $4.79 at my local grocery store, this is a mix we're sure to keep in the cupboard!

Try them and let me know what you think!