Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Weighing flours

When it comes to working with Gluten-free flours, I really believe weighing them is best. I first learned about weighing vs measuring from The Gluten-free girl.  One cup of Sorghum flour is not equal to one cup of Potato starch. I really don't even think you can compare Gluten-free to traditional flour when it comes to measuring in a recipe, they are totally different creatures. I know that some  GF cookbooks still advocate measuring with a cup, but I think that is best left to the professionals.

So, what do you do if you want to try substituting in GF flours for traditional? My All-Purpose flour mix is a good place to start. You can sub in the same weight of other flours as long as you trade a flour for a flour and a starch for a starch. But what if you want to experiment and make a different mix? Or use all of one or two flours?

A great place to start is this blog. If you scroll down a bit on the page, you will see a PDF file that contains the weights of 1 "cup" worth of all the different GF flours. So, for instance, if you wanted to try a recipe with only Brown rice flour you would need to use 158 grams to equal 1 cup of traditional flour.

As with using Guar Gum and Xanthan Gum, I think a mix is best. You get different textures and subtle taste differences with mixes. I have tried recipes that use all Almond flour and (to me) they have an odd, greasy aftertaste because of all the oil in the nuts. But if you mix a bit of Almond flour in with other flours, you get a subtle nutty taste that is great. Same goes for Coconut flour.

Don't be afraid to experiment. It wasn't until I was motivated financially to play around with flours that I came up with my all-purpose mix.

So...Where have I been?

OK, so I sort of slacked off again on bogging. Sorry! Have you ever had a school assignment that just hung over your head? You know you should just tackle it and be done but you wait and wait? That's how the What do we like Wednesdays was starting to feel. Sorry, but it's true. I guess I don't do well with deadlines, even self-imposed ones.

I am going to continue to blog (I still have a lot to share with you!) but I may not stick
with the Wednesdays. Please be patient with me, I am not a born blogger :)

So, I want to share something that happened yesterday. It made my day, my week, my month....

My son is attending a day camp this week and as a special treat I made a large batch of cookies for his lunches. Each day I have been sending 3 cookies with him. It turns out that several of the boys in class have been asking him to share! One of the boys has even asked for the recipe. These boys are not gluten/dairy free and they LOVE my cookies!!!

Should I tell them that it's just the Betty Crocker recipe done up GF/DF style? I have been sneaking in a bit of coconut oil, so far my son hasn't noticed! I have though, the cookies have a very subtle coconut flavor that goes great with the chocolate chips.

If you would like to try, here is the recipe. This is adapted from the Basic Betty Crocker cookbook.

Gluten-free/Dairy-free Chocolate chip cookies.
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
3/4 cup + 2 Tbsp Earth Balance Butter spread (I use the original in the tub)
2 Tbsp coconut oil
1 teaspoon Vanilla
1 large egg
315g All-purpose flour mix
1/2 teaspoon Guar gum
1/2 teaspoon Xanthan gum
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 bag chocolate chips (I have been using Trader Joes brand)

1. Heat oven to 375 degrees.
2. Beat sugars, butter spread, coconut oil, vanilla and egg in a mixer on medium speed, or with a spoon. Stir in flour, baking soda and salt. Beat until mixed. Fold in chocolate chips.
3. On an un-greased cookie sheet, drop dough by rounded tablespoon (I use a Cookie dough scoop)
about 2 inches apart.
4. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes (try not to over bake or the cookies will be hard) or until light brown, the centers will be soft. Allow to cool for 1 to 2 minutes before you try to transfer them to a cooling rack.

I usually use a Mini chocolate chip for my cookies but I am finding that the larger ones have done just fine. I was careful to let the cookies firm up some before I transfer them off the the cookie sheet.


Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Wednesday's "What do we like?"

This week's "What do we like?" features

Schar Brand Cibatta Rolls

These rolls received mixed reviews in my house.
I gave these and A+ . They come partially baked. You finish them in the oven for about 10 minutes.
I thought they were soft, fluffy and yummy.
My kids didn't like them though. They have a dusting of flour on them that makes them feel a bit gritty to the touch (they don't taste gritty though). My son is super sensitive to things like that and he just couldn't get past it. He thought they were tasteless as well. My daughter didn't like the texture of the crust.
So, we leave you with making up your own mind on this one. I received a free sample from Schar that I had requested. It was not given for the purpose of a review though, it was just an offer on-line that I took advantage of.
Many Albertsons and Super Wal-Mart stores carry Schar products but I have only seen the Cibatta rolls on-line.
The best price on  was $5.62 a pack when you buy a box of 6 packs ($33.60 + free shipping). Very pricey. I will be looking for a less expensive way to purchase these and when I do, I will definitely be purchasing them for myself.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Toss it

I was so very dissapointed in a new product we tried that I felt I should post about it. I hope I convince you to save your money. Of course, tastes very, so you should make up your own mind.

In my quest to find a picture to post with this, I found a favorable review for this product. In the review it said that these were only available from the manufacturer and not sold in stores. I am wondering if they tasted better then? Maybe the review was paid for?

My son LOVES pound cake. So, I was super excited to find these little mini pound cakes (marble flavor) at Fred Meyer. I opened the box to find 5 cute little cakes, all individually wrapped.
So far, so good.
I opened one and smelled it, hmm, a little "off" but not offensive. We all took a bite. My daughter spit hers out right away. My son tried to chew his but had to spit it out. I got my bite down but that was as far as it went.
Dry, grainy and weird. Those were the words used by all three of us. Gross. From my daughter. I am not sure why they were so bad. The only ingredient I was not familiar with is "Dehydrated apple powder" but that seems innocent enough. They kind of reminded me of a piece of gluten free cake that has gone stale.
Maybe when they were available from the manufacturer directly, they were more fresh? I bought these on July 2nd, the expiration date on the box is September15th, 2012.  They won't be in our house long enough to see how stale they would be by September!
At almost $6.00 a box, I would recommend skipping these! Ours went in the trash.

4th of July Menu

What are you eating for the 4th of July? There are many of us who will be spending the day with others who eat gluten & dairy. How will you handle potluck meals?
For my family, we will be going to my mom's for the entire day. Some of my siblings avoid gluten/dairy and one can't tolerate corn. We will have an interesting mix of foods.

I for one, am going to bring what would be considered an entire meal. That way, if there aren't other choices, we aren't stuck with one dish.

Here is my menu for the 4th.

Pre-cooked chicken legs w/home-made BBQ sauce. I am trying a new recipe for the BBQ sauce. If it turns out well, I will post it later this week. I bake these up the night before and we eat them at room temp the day of.
Corn on the cob (to roast on the BBQ)
Veggie tray- celery, cauliflower, bell peppers, carrot & cucumber
Jalapeno poppers (contains dairy)- My extended family is addicted to these! I make them even though they contain dairy because my kids don't like them.  Simply take a fresh jalapeno pepper and slice it in half lengthwise. Strip the seeds out and discard them. stuff the shell with a teaspoon of cream cheese. Wrap the pepper with 1/2 strip of bacon (secure with a toothpick). Bake at 350 degrees until the bacon is done. YUM!!!!
Gluten free/ dairy free angel food cupcakes (again, a new recipe. I will post it if it turns out good)
Hot dogs w/Udi's Gf/Df buns- For my extremely selective son who won't eat any of the above foods.

I would love to hear what everyone else is eating!

Have a Happy 4th!!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Wednesday's "What do we like?"

My son chose todays featured item.

So Delicious brand  Purely Decadent Dairy Free

Peanut Butter Zig Zag ice cream!

This is a soy-based ice cream, so those of you with soy and or peanut allergies, this won't work. But, if you can eat it, I highly recommend doing so! Before we found the less expensive choices at Trader Joes, this was our go to ice cream. This one can break the bank at about $5 though, so it's probably not a daily indulgence.
Great taste, great texture, enough said!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Wednesday's "What do we like?"

So once again, I planned to post this last week and just didn't get around to it. I promise I have more on my mind to share soon! For now I leave you with this.

What do we like this week????

Red Robin Restaurants!

My kids and I went to Red Robin this last weekend. This was by no means our first time.  I love that Red Robin understands Gluten-free dining. They now offer Udi's GF/DF buns as a regular menu item. No more lettuce wraps!! My son was able to enjoy a kids burger with bun and fries for lunch. They even grilled the bun for us.
Some of the Red Robin servers still aren't quite there with really "getting it" with gluten-free (some are) but we have eaten at 3 different locations and at each,  the managers knew exactly what was going on and were very competent in helping the servers.
I always start by asking for a GF menu, even though I already know what I want. I feel this gets the server thinking GF from the get-go.
Only once my son's order was mixed up, but it was super easy to spot. The reason was that if your kids order is GF, it should be served in a yellow basket rather than red. I knew right away when they brought the red basket that something was wrong. They quickly fixed the issue.
I will say that when you order GF fries, they do take longer to arrive. But that's a GOOD thing! That lets you know that they are being fresh cooked separately.

I am so thankful that there is a family restaurant that we can enjoy! I am hopeful that they will continue to expand their GF offerings.

Disclaimer: As always, I am in no way affiliated with Red Robin (or any product I have reviewed). I am simply offering my opinion. I paid for the meals I have eaten there and was in no other way compensated for this review.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Wendnesday's "What do we like?"

I can't believe it is Wednesday again!

This week is
Chocolate chips!

See the little g on the label? These are Trader Joe's Gluten-free Chocolate chips. They also do not contain milk ingredients, although they are made on shared equipment. My kids do not react to them but if you have a more severe milk allergy, these may not be for you. Please read the label and decide what is right for you.

These are one of the few semi-sweet chocolate products that I have found that my kids can eat. Neither of them likes a dark chocolate.
I posted here another chocolate chip that we love. Those were the mini's. These are full size. Great for snacking on or melting down for making candies. You can use these in GF cookies but it makes the cookies more fragile.

I apologize but I cannot remember the price. I can tell you that it is right around $3.00 a bag. These can be chopped up to a smaller size if you want to use them in cookies or granola bars.

Disclaimer: As always, this review is of a product that I purchase for my own personal use. I am in no way affiliated with Trader Joe's. I am simply offering my personal opinion.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Wednesday's What do we like?

What do we like?
Trader Joe's Dairy free Ice cream!

We have two favorites, the soy-based vanilla and the coconut milk based chocolate.
Both are fantastic.

First, the chocolate. It is $2.99 for the pint. While still pricey, that is better than the almost $5.00 a pint for brands like Coconut bliss. The Trader Joe's brand is smooth and creamy. My son describes it as creamy and yummy with just the right amount of chocolate. "Pretty dang good" was his way of summing it up! If you knew how selective my son is with food, you would realize just how high praise that is!

The Vanilla Soy ice cream is the closest to "regular" ice cream that we have found for vanilla. Creamy and smooth. A very light hint of aftertaste but not strong.

It is $3.99 for the container. I can't remember what size this is but I think it might be a quart.

My daughter likes hers with chocolate syrup.

I have a great home-made ice cream recipe as well, but the Trader Joe's brand is great when I don't have time to fuss with making it.

The only issue I have with Trader Joe's is that they don't carry the ice cream year round, so stock up when you see it!!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Weird Food Names

While in Trader Joes today I was looking through some of their candies. I noticed that several had an ingredient called Glucose syrup. Have you heard of this? It is made from wheat! It can also be made from corn, barley, potato or rice.
I would not have thought that given the name. Nor would I have guessed that the box of jelly beans I was looking to buy had wheat in them.
Thankfully, Trader Joe's does a great job with their packaging.
 The label read like this... Glucose syrup(wheat).  Can't get much more clear than that.

Always read the lable. If you don't know what something is, look it up. If this product had glucose syrup made from barley, it would still contain gluten but since it wasn't from wheat, it would not have to have an allergen warning.

**Sigh** when did food get so weird???

Wednesday's What do we like?

There are so many great Gluten free products out there that we like, today's post includes several.

Yesterday, I made Chex Mix. Yum! My husband gave it two thumbs up (He almost ate it all before I could get a picture, lol!!) At first, my son didn't really like it but then later decided it was "pretty good". My daughter didn't care for it. I loved it as much as the hubby.

Here are the great products I used.

Chex are great because, well, they are just chex! Familiar and easy, we were eating them before going gluten free. The only downside is the preservatives they use.

Glutino products. I love the pretzel sticks you see here. They have a great taste and texture. For some reason, I do NOT like their "pretzel" shaped pretzels, they have a funny after-taste. But the sticks are great. So far the best price has been at Wal-mart. This is the larger bag and it was a bit over $6.00. We don't generally buy these for straight snacking, I try to use them in a mix of some kind.
The glutino bagel chips are great. They taste good and have good texture (my son will sit and eat the box if I let him!). But, at just over $4.00 a box at wal-mart, I also try to use these in a mix. (my son ended up eating the rest of this box!)

Earth Balance butter spread. Works great in baking, tastes great. The only thing we don't like it on is melted on popcorn. It tastes a bid "odd" that way. This is our go-to "butter". Trader Joe's sells it for $3.64 a tub. They do sell a soy free version as well. I haven't tried it since Trader Joe's doesn't carry it and it is more expensive in the grocery store. The soy free version is the same style container but the label is red.

Peanuts. Simple salted peanuts from the bulk section at Fred Meyer.

Here is the recipe for making the Chex Mix.

In addition to the above products, you will need Worcestershire sauce, garlic powder, onion powder and seasoning salt (I don't use seasoning salt so I just put in 1/4 tsp salt).
I followed the lower fat version and did mine in the oven.

I used a wooden spoon to break up the pretzels and the bagel chips since the recipe calls for "bite-size"

Here is the finished product

I hope you enjoy it as much as we did!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Sharing our struggle

I know that when you have an allergy or sensitivity to a food, you simply stay away from the food and all is well, right? It really isn't that easy, as some of you may know.
In our house, we have been attempting to be Gluten free/Dairy free for several years. I say attempting because as much as I know we need to eat this way, I get frustrated sometimes with the difficulties and financial challenges of sticking with it. Sometimes I just want to drive through McDonalds and be done, you know? So, I have been going through the McDonalds phase again. I would say we have been eating Gluten/dairy on and off for about 2 weeks now, but more on than off.
The results? My son is back to having regular, repetitive twitching, sleeping disturbances and bowel issues. He is also back to having issues with sensory overload, mostly to noise.
My daughter is back to having bowel issues and as for myself, I am having skin issues (I break out on my face and look like I have Rosacea when I eat gluten).
So, as of two days ago, we are back to Gluten/Dairy free 100% at home and the only exception will be birthday parties & holidays. I find that if my kids and I stay off G/D 95% of the time, our symptoms retreat to a tolerable level.
I am sure for others with Celiac, they would rejoice in being able to do the "sometimes" thing. For me it is a difficult compromise I have come to with my kids. I used to insist on staying GF/DF even at parties. It was VERY difficult. My kids were to the point of not wanting to attend parties rather than stay GF/DF at them. I am not sure I am sending the right message when I allow it "for special occasions" as if gluten is a treat they are being denied. I hope as they grow and mature, they will choose to stay off G/D on their own. My son is now able to identify the symptoms he suffers as a result of eating the offending food but is not always able to make the choice he knows is best for his health.
My goal is to control our home environment and keep us away from fast food for the moment. I am going back to stocking up on the many, many great GF/DF foods that are out there.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Wednesday's "What do we like?"

I thought it would be fun to start posting about some specific products that my family likes. I realize of course that everyone's tastes are different and what we like may not appeal to you or your family. But, one of the most daunting things about beginning a Gluten-free diet is figuring out where to start. Hopefully this will help.
Products can be expensive (not all are!) and it is so frustrating to throw out a product that cost you $6.00 (I say this from experience!). My intention here is to not only recommend products but I will also do my best to describe why we like something (taste, texture, cost, etc) so you have a place to start.

Enjoy Life Semi-sweet chocolate Mini chips.
These are Dairy, nut & Soy free!!!

These are our favorite chocolate chips. When going dairy free, it was very difficult to find chocolate that wasn't a dark bitter flavor that my kids can eat. These have the smooth "milk" chocolate taste and texture we were used to.  These little mini chips are great for gluten-free cookies. I find that gluten free cookies hold together better when you use the mini's. My kids also eat these straight from the bag. Other uses include melting them down to make candy, or using them to top homemade granola bars or rice crispy treats.

Now lets talk price. I almost choked the first time I found them in a store. I think they were over $5.00 a bag. Not happening on this household's budget!
I found them on for a much more reasonable price. I paid $21.65 for a 6-pack. That works out to $3.61 a bag. I bought them along with something else so there was not shipping charge. The only issue is that they are not always this price. I keep an eye on the price and when it drops, I buy them. I have been able to keep us stocked at this price for over a year. 6 bags lasts us a LONG time.

Disclaimer: I am in no way affiliated with the Enjoy life company. This is a product that I purchased with my own money and am simply offering my own opinion.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Weird, Gooey baked goods

We have been using my All purpose flour mix for a long time now, maybe close to 2 years. It has always worked perfectly for us, until recently. I mixed up a batch and made muffins. They were weird. They had sort of a gooey, bouncy texture to them.
I was baffled to say the least. I shrugged it off, figuring I had measured the wrong amount or something. So I made cookies. Again, weird texture.
It (finally!) dawned on me that what was different was that I had run out of Xanthan gum and was using all Guar gum! I had always thought the two were interchangeable. For me, they aren't. It is possible that the guar gum would work ok alone but just in different amounts but I just don't have the patience to try. I really favor a mix of guar gum/xanthan gum in my baked goods. I always use 1/4 teaspoon of each per 1 cup of flour.
Needless to say, my pantry is again stocked with xanthan gum!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Great Price Alert!!

Right now has Bob's Red Mill Brown Rice Flour at a GREAT price!

If you use the subscribe & save function you can get 12lbs (!) of Brown rice flour for only $16.76 shipped!
That works out to $1.39 per pound. Thats a better price than I can find locally.

I am not sure how long it will be at this price, so make sure you double check before purchasing.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Did you miss me?
I had decided (for several personal reasons) to stop writing this blog. But, through encouragement and requests from some of you wonderful readers, I am back!

Since I have been gone so long, I thought it fitting to return with something else that has been out of my life for a long while....PASTA!

Since going gluten free, I have not found a pasta that I loved. Or really liked. Or could really even stand. I had pretty much just given up on it.

That changed tonight when we tried Schar brand Fusilli (the little spiral shape). I was literally amazed! Schar brand is Corn based rather than rice (although it does contain some rice). There was no sticky, slimy feel. Nothing fell apart. Great flavor. Literally amazing. I will be adding this to my regular shopping list. I think I am going to try a cold pasta salad with it.

Schar also makes fantastic sandwich rolls by the way.
I buy Schar products at my local Super Wal-Mart but I know they are also sold at most Albertsons stores.

Disclaimer: I am in no way affiliated with the Schar. I purchased this product with my own money and am no way being compensated for my review.
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