How To Be Happy Without Gluten & Dairy

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It’s ALL about attitude and courage.

We need to be the positive voice in a sea of negative thoughts running through our own heads.

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(Photo – peppersandrogersgroup.com)

We’re stressed because we feel terrible all the time and then we’re happy because we’ve figured out why we feel terrible and then…we’re stressed again because living allergen free requires a bit of research, time, planning, and courage.

And then there’s the other people who seem to be intent on being negative about our new way of living. Most people will be happy for us, but for some unknown reason, some people actually get very angry and defensive when we try to change our life. That’s where the courage comes in.

 I hate bringing attention to myself at a restaurant or when we’re invited to someone’s house for dinner. In fact, I still dread the dinner invite. But when it comes down to me making a choice between feeling horrible for the next week because I didn’t speak up, or kindly telling someone that I have food allergies, I just have to grin and bear it.

I’m excited to be able to share as many of my favorite gluten-free and dairy-free foods with you as I can.  I prefer home-made over store purchased but let’s be realistic. Most of us lead very busy lives and while we love to cook from scratch for our families, reality dictates that there will be times when we are going to need quick snacks, easy meals, and items to make life run smoother along the way.

I’ve spent the last few weeks creating a list for you that is going to help you get ahead of the game. Having as many of these items on hand as you can, will make your food life immensely easier and more enjoyable. We are all aware that fruit, vegetables, and meat are gluten-free and dairy free. So my list contains the “other” items that go into making life, especially if your new to an allergen free existence, much easier.

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Below, you’ll find a HUGE list of all kinds of foodie love from me to you.

Gluten Free Flours

Bob’s Red Mill All Purpose Gluten Free Flour

Ingredients:  garbanzo bean flour, potato starch, tapioca flour, whole grain sweet white sorghum flour, fava bean flour

(I prefer to use this flour for sweet breads such as banana bread. The beans definitely come across but they seem to meld well with sweet breads.)

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Silvana Nardone’s Gluten Free Flour Blend 

If you don’t have her cookbook, Cooking For Isaiah, you need it! Especially for the sweets. Her flour isn’t very nutritious, but when we’re wanting sweets, we rarely focus on that anyway!

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Makes About 4 pounds

6 cups (870 grams) white rice flour
3 cups (375 grams) tapioca flour
1½ cups (246 grams) potato starch
2 tablespoons (17 grams) xanthan gum
1 tablespoon (10 grams) salt

Gluten Free Mama’s Almond Blend Flour

This is my #1 favorite gluten-free flour for converting gluten recipes. It works very well for pie crust, cookies, and even pastries.

Ingredients:  white rice flour, tapioca flour, potato starch, almond meal flour, sweet rice flour

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No Gluten No Problem (Artisan Gluten Free Flour Blend)

This cookbook is also fantastic! I haven’t made one recipe out of it that I didn’t love. This flour mix can also be used to convert gluten recipes. They also list substitutions for the flours they use.

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Single Batch (about 3 cups)

1 1/4 cups (156g) brown rice flour
3/4 cup (88g) sorghum flour
2/3 cup (90g) cornstarch
1/4 cup (37g) potato starch
1 tbsp + 1 tsp (14g) potato flour
1 tsp (3g) xanthan gum

Quadruple Batch (about 12 cups)

5 cups (625g) brown rice flour
3 cups (350g) sorghum flour
2 2/3 (360g) cups cornstarch
1 cup (148g) potato starch
1/3 cup (57g) potato flour
1 tbsp + 1 tsp (14g) xanthan gum

Xanthan Gum

Xanthan gum is typically necessary for gluten-free baking. It acts as a “gluten” binding agent. Xanthan gum is derived from corn, wheat, or soy. If you click on the link you can learn more about it and decide if it’s right for you.

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Bread &  Pizza Crust Mixes

Gluten Free Pantry French Bread Mix

I cannot say enough about this bread mix. I’ve used it hundreds of times. Works great for french bread, bruschetta, croutons, stuffing…

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Hodgson Mills Pizza Crust

Trust me when I tell you that I have tried too many gluten-free pizza recipes to count. I’ve tried many home-made recipes, boxed recipes, frozen crusts, and Hodgson Mill is the absolute best and probably the closest you’ll ever get to real pizza crust. I can’t find it here in NH, so I order online by the case.

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 Cake and Brownie Mixes

Betty Crocker’s gluten-free cake mix makes a good cupcake. There are many gluten-free cake recipes online and on Pinterest that you can make from scratch, but this is fantastic in a pinch. I’ve used both the yellow and the devil’s food numerous times with great results. However, I do not care for their gluten-free Bisquick product.

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Simply Organic Carrot Cake Mix is very good. You can go here for my carrot cake cupcakes. I’ve made it into cupcakes and snack cake and both ways are very tasty. You can add raisins, nuts, coconut, chocolate, whatever you like.

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Love, love, love, Namaste’s brownie mix. Rich, decadent, and fabulously delicious. You won’t be disappointed. I’ve added all kinds of things to this over the years and it stands up well to experimentation.

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Dairy Free Chocolate

Trader Joe’s 70% Dark Belgian Chocolate

It’s vegan and OH SO amazing.

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Baker’s Semi-Sweet Chocolate

Yep, it’s dairy free!

Dairy free and great for baking. I’ve used this for hot chocolate, cookies, candy…it’s great! Also WAY less expensive than vegan chocolate chips.

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Thickeners For Gravy, Chicken & Dumplings, Soup, Sauces

I prefer to use potato starch over tapioca starch. Tapioca has the tendency to make things somewhat gelatinous. You can also use cornstarch. But that can get gelatinous as well and if I eat too many corn products it gives me gluten symptoms.

Bob’s Red Mill Potato Starch

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Mama’s All Purpose Almond Flour

This also works fantastic as a thickener. It also makes a very nice roux.

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Organic Broth

Pacific has chicken, beef, and vegetable broth. This is the only broth I use unless I have made my own from scratch. I love that it doesn’t have to be refrigerated until it’s opened and I stock up on them when they are on sale.

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Dairy Free Butter

Earth Balance Natural Buttery Spread (soy free) is hands down the best dairy free butter.Use it just as you would regular butter for toppings, baking, and cooking. When baking with it, I add just a touch of extra salt to the recipe.

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Gluten Free Pasta 

Tinkyada Gluten Free Pasta

This is my pasta of choice. They have everything from spaghetti to lasagna noodles. Follow the directions on the back of the package and it will turn out perfectly.

There’s actually a large choice on the market when it comes to gluten-free pasta…brown rice, cornquinoabuckwheatblack bean, give them all a try and see which is your favorite.

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I just tried this penne pasta from Jovial the other night. It was very good! Perfect texture and a very good flavor.

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Breakfast Cereal

I rarely eat it, but my husband is a complete cereal addict so it’s a must in our house.

Envirokidz Gluten Free Cereals 

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Chex Gluten Free Cereals

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Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Oatmeal

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Enjoy Life Crunchy Flax

Perfect plain with almond milk and also adds a nice crunch on top of dairy free yogurt.

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Dairy Free Milk

Pacific Organic Almond Milk – Unsweetened

This is my favorite dairy free milk for everyday use. But there are many choices out there. Ricehempsoyoat (make sure it’s made from GF oats), hazelnutcoconut.

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Canned coconut milk is fantastic for baking, making home-made ice cream and for making coconut whipped cream.

Dairy Free Yogurt

So Delicious Greek Style Coconut Milk Yogurt

This is the absolute best dairy free yogurt I have ever tasted. It’s thick and creamy, a bit tart…just like the real thing!

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Amande Almond Milk Yogurt

Delicious, thick and creamy, with a very nice “almondy” flavor.

There are also soy, rice, and goat’s milk yogurts available. However, the coconut and almond yogurts are leaps and bounds above in texture and flavor.

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Dairy Free Cheese

Daiya Dairy Free Cheese

I use this cheese for lasagna, grilled cheese sandwiches, stuffed potatoes, all kinds of things. It melts and is stringy like regular cheese. The only downer is that it does not taste good uncooked.

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Galaxy Foods Vegan Parmesan Grated Topping. This is soy based, but they also have a rice based grated topping that you can use if you’re opposed to soy. I try not to use soy too often. This parmesan topping is fantastic on garlic bread, in pasta, in home-made pesto, and I also use it in my lasagna.

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Goat’s Milk Cheese

There are all kinds of delicious goat’s milk cheeses, hard and soft, out on the market these days. I just bought a wedge of goat Romano at the co-op the other day and it was so good I bought another one yesterday! Some people with milk allergies can handle goat’s milk and some can’t. I can eat it without any issues about 1-2 times a week. If it starts to bother me, I back off for a couple of weeks and then eat it once every couple of weeks and I feel fine.

Trader Joe’s has an AMAZING Goat Gouda. I highly recommend it.

Buffalo Mozzarella

Ahhh…buffalo milk mozzarella. It has changed gluten free and dairy free pizza forever. I was thrilled to run across it at Trader Joe’s! It’s creamier and smoother in texture than cow’s milk mozzarella and the best news of all is that it doesn’t make me sick. I tread lightly like I do with the goat’s milk cheeses though. You can go here and see what it looks like on a pizza I made. Slice and drain on paper towels for a few minutes before placing it on your pizza.

Dairy Free Ice Cream

Coconut Bliss is hands down the best dairy free ice cream I have found. They come up with new flavors all the time, have ice cream bars, fudgecicles…just delicious. If you can’t find it in your area stores, there are other brands you can try, but I would advise you to stay away from the soy milk brands. Not good.

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Crackers & Snack Chips

Schar Table Crackers

As close to a Saltine cracker as you’ll ever get. I eat them with DF butter, peanut butter, with goat cheese, with soup and with chili.

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Mary’s Gone Crackers

Great with dips! Sometimes if they’ve been on the store shelf for a while…they can get very crispy. Check the expiration date.

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Edwards & Sons Brown Rice Snaps

Yummy!

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Glutino Pretzels

Deelish! I cover these with vegan chocolate for a sweet snack every now and then. Wonderful. They do have corn flour so if that tends to bother you like it does me, tread lightly.

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Kettle Brand makes some very tasty chips that are both gluten-free and dairy free. Make sure you always read their labels though as a few of them do contain dairy. I love these baked chips. Light and crispy, perfect when you’re craving chips but don’t want the fat and oil. My other favorites, when I don’t mind the fat…are their Spicy Thai and Vinegar and Sea Salt chips. Yum!

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These Beanitos are like corn chips but corn free! They are made from black beans and work fantastic with salsa, bean dip, and guacamole. They have a couple of types but I have only tried these.

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Alcohol

There’s a bit of controversy behind the alcohol aspect of living gluten-free. Many people believe that the distilling process removes the gluten from alcohol made from grains. I’ve read many different pro’s and con’s and even some of the most diligent gluten-free bloggers, writers, and recipe creators drink all kinds of alcohol just fine (except beer). I don’t take the chance. There’s no drink on earth that is worth what I would feel like for 3-5 days after I had it if I had a reaction. I stick to non grain alcohol ONLY.

Ciroc vodka is made from grapes. It’s a bit pricey (much less expensive here in NH though), and is fabulous. I keep mine in the freezer so it’s chilled and wonderful when making cocktails. I also use this vodka to make home-made vanilla extract. (3-4 Vanilla beans slit down the middle, put them in a small jar, fill to the top with vodka, let sit one week.)

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1800 Silver Tequila is made from 100% Agave and is delicious. In fact, I couldn’t stand tequila until I tried this. It makes a very tasty margarita.

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Meyer’s Rum is made from sugar cane that is boiled into a syrup and aged.

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White Rum is typically only aged about a year and then filtered to remove the color. I like to use Bacardi for mixed drinks.

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Green’s is my favorite gluten-free beer. I prefer an amber or dark beer, but they also have a blonde. There are quite a few gluten-free beers on the market now and more and more restaurants are starting to carry at least one brand.

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Gluten Free Bread

Udi’s has quite a few great bread choices. I prefer the whole grain and they also make  decent bagels, hamburger buns, and hot dog buns. The one annoyance I have with Udi’s is that sometimes you’ll get a loaf of bread ($4.99) with a big air hole in the middle. The bread is small so that hole makes a big difference! Home made gluten-free bread is better of course, but I’ve gotten lazy and rely on the Udi’s when we’re going to need sandwich bread. I like the texture whether it’s fresh or toasted and it holds together well for sandwiches. I haven’t tried their baked goods like muffins and such. I have tried their granola which is quite good, however I do not care for their pizza crusts.

Red Robin now carries their hamburger buns and you can also request GF fries. They are very diligent and careful with their allergen customers and I haven’t been glutened yet!

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Gluten Free Meats

We love the Applegate meat products. We use their lunch meats, pepperoni, and Sunday bacon on a regular basis.

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Gluten Free Condiments

We use San J gluten-free organic tamari when I make asian foods. To me, it tastes EXACTLY like  regular soy sauce and it’s lower in sodium. It’s a win-win.

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 We love Annie’s gluten free products. We use her ketchup, mustards, and BBQ sauces. There are many condiments on the market without gluten, just make sure you read labels carefully, and when in doubt, Google it or contact the manufacturer.

Gluten Free Canned Products

We don’t eat many canned products on a regular basis, but I do like to keep some chili and baked beans around. Stagg is our favorite chili, but read the labels, I’m not sure if every flavor is gluten-free. There are several brands of gluten-free chili on the market, even organic ones. I’ve tried three others besides the Stagg and while they didn’t give me major gluten symptoms, I didn’t feel well after eating them. I prefer the Stagg brand.

Bush’s baked beans are great. We also like Field Day Organic Vegetarian Baked Beans, & Trader Joe’s Organic Baked Beans. However, Trader Joe’s does not consider them gluten-free because they are canned on shared equipment with things that have gluten. They don’t seem to bother me.

Canned Soup

Canned soup makes me cringe. I always try to have home-made soup in my freezer, but sometimes in a pinch, canned is a must. I’ve tried probably every gluten-free canned soup there is. Most of them are totally disgusting. I only recommend one brand and it’s Wolfgang Puck’s gluten-free soups. They are very good. Some contain dairy though, so read the labels carefully. The gluten-free soups are clearly labeled right on the front of the can.

Gluten Free Cookies & Sweets

These Kinnikinnick animal crackers are just trouble in a box! I love how crispy they are and they taste very good. Your kids will love them if you haven’t eaten the whole box on the way home from the grocery store. I can only imagine how tasty they would be covered in chocolate.Gluten-Free-Kinni-Kritters-Animal-Cookies

Glutino’s Chocolate Vanilla Creme cookies are probably as close to Oreos as you will ever get. Yesterday I dipped them in a glass of almond milk and I was in foodie heaven.

Pamela’s makes some pretty good cookies. The Double Chocolate Cookies are my favorite and work fantastic for pie and tart crusts.

Pamela’s also makes a mighty fine gingersnap.

 I just tried these Schar wafers yesterday. Not bad. A little low on filling, but good in a pinch if you need something sweet and they are pretty low-calorie.

The other day while I was in the grocery store a woman pointed out the Hail Merry desserts to me. The chocolate tarts are to. die. for. Last week I served them for a quick and easy dessert with whipped coconut cream and macerated berry sauce. Delicious. I prefer the chocolate over the lemon, I found the lemon to be overly salty.

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Yesterday I bought these Hail Merry chocolate macaroons to give them a try. Wow! Very good. Similar to a coconut haystack truffle…yummy.

 I hope that some of these products will fit into your budget and help to make your gluten-free and dairy free life just a little bit easier. Don’t allow panic, overwhelming feelings, or other people’s negative opinions to stop you from doing what you need to do to feel better. I like to cook , but I understand that not only do many people not enjoy cooking, they simply are too busy and have other responsibilities. Don’t feel like you need to be a superhuman. There’s only so much you can do at a time. If you know you have food allergens, the most important thing is to get those foods out of your life. You can do that by cooking from scratch, you can do it by buying pre-made products and combining them with other things…there are all kinds of ways to get off on the right foot. Just take it one step at a time, do what’s affordable for your family, and make choices that work with your schedule and lifestyle.

As I try new things I’ll keep you all updated and I would love for you to do the same for me!

~ April

Some Of This & A Little Of That – Snack Bites

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I’m going to call these “healthy” because they have lots of things that are relatively good for you and only one thing that you could probably live without if you had to. Brown sugar. Not a ton, just enough to add a little sweetness, and I love the molasses flavor it provides.

There seems to be an outright war against sugar these days. But trust me, I won’t go down without a fight.

Snack Bites

*Makes about 20 or so snack bites.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2 Cups Gluten Free Old Fashioned Oats

1/2 Cup Sweet Potato Puree (you can make your own, I used organic canned)

1/4 Cup Ground Flax Seed

2 Tablespoons Amaranth Grain

1/3 Cup Sweetened Coconut

1/3 Cup Raw Sliced Almonds

1/3 Cup Walnuts, roughly chopped

1/2 Bar, about 1 1/2 ounces, 70% Dark Chocolate, roughly chopped

3/4 Cup Dried Berries and Cherries, chopped

2 Eggs

1 Tablespoon Olive Oil

1/3 Cup Dark Brown Sugar

1 Tablespoon Ground Cinnamon

1 teaspoon Pure Vanilla Extract

Measure all ingredients into a large bowl and mix well until all ingredients are moist and fully incorporated.

Line a baking sheet with muffin papers and fill with about 1 heaping Tablespoon of the oat mixture.

Bake in a preheated oven for about 20 minutes until set and slightly crisp on top.

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds – Two Ways

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It’s that gorgeous time of year again! Crisp mornings have arrived and the trees are turning beautiful colors. The view in our backyard is gorgeous. The leaves are turning and some of them are just beginning to fall to the ground.

People are finding themselves in the mood to drink pumpkin lattes, bake pies, and decorate for the season. A couple of weeks ago we visited our favorite local farm, Carver Farms, and picked pumpkins, cornstalks, and all kinds of gourds and neat things to decorate the house with.

They also had half of a field full of blooming Gladiolas.

This last weekend, my son’s girlfriend and I carved seven pumpkins. Yep, seven, between the two of us. I love to decorate for the holidays and you certainly know I love to cook and bake for the holidays, but I have to admit, I have no need or desire left in me to carve another pumpkin…well, until next year. By then I’m sure we will have forgotten how sore our hands were and how my son’s girlfriend could barely move her arm the next day and how my weird ball throwing/dog injury elbow issue cropped up again. Now I guess I can call it pumpkin elbow.

Here’s our handy work after carving for a couple of hours on Friday night and several hours on Saturday.

If you also like to decorate for the season and end up carving a field of pumpkins, whatever you do, don’t throw away the seeds! I know, I know, after carving a bazillion pumpkins the last thing you want to do is dig through that pile of guts for all the seeds. This is when another family member or friend (or husband or son who doesn’t want to help carve pumpkins) comes in handy. Put someone else, besides yourself, in charge of digging out the seeds and rinsing them. It will all be worth it in the end, I promise.

In case you didn’t already know, pumpkin seeds are very good for you. Did you know that they are beneficial to prostate health? (Another good reason to make the men in your house fish out the seeds and rinse them for you…they do benefit from them too, after all.) According to TheWorldsHealthiestFoods. org, the carotenoids found in pumpkin seeds and the omega-3 fats found in the seeds are being studied for their potential prostate benefits. Men with higher amounts of carotenoids in their diet have less risk for benign prostatic hypertrophy (BPH). They are also high in Zinc which is great for bone mineral density. It was once thought that mainly post-menopausal women were at risk for Osteoporosis, but now they are finding that almost 30% of hip fractures occur in men.

Pumpkin seeds are also being tested for their anti-inflammatory benefits for arthritis. In animal studies, the addition of pumpkin seeds to the diet were comparable to the use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs without the side effects that those types of drugs often cause. Who wouldn’t rather eat pumpkin seeds than take drugs with side effects? Pumpkin seeds are also a fantastic source of minerals, protein, and monounsaturated fat. They can also help lower cholesterol, enhance the immune system, and decrease the risk of certain cancers.

 

Now that you’ve boned up on all of the healthy reasons for someone other than yourself to dig through the pile of guts and retrieve the healthy, delicious, pumpkin seeds…you also need to know that they taste great. Quite addictive actually. And you can season them and spice them up any way you choose.

To make the very tasty and good for you pumpkin seeds, follow the directions below.

Rinse the pumpkin seeds well. Spread out on paper towels and allow to completely dry. I left mine to dry for two days, but only because I didn’t have time to get to them. I’m sure they would be plenty dry if you just left them overnight.

Once the seeds are completely dry, spread them in half.

For Sweet & Spicy Pumpkin Seeds:

1/2 of your seeds

about 1/2 Tablespoon of olive oil

a generous amount of cayenne pepper

a generous amount of  chili powder

a generous amount of chipotle chili powder

a generous amount of ground sea salt

about 1 1/2 Tablespoons of sugar

When I say generous amount, what I mean is, add as much as you think you might like and then multiply it by two. It sounds like a lot, but it’s not. Toss all of the ingredients together with a wooden spoon until they are completely combined and all of the seeds are coated. Spread the seeds out on the parchment lined baking sheet and roast for about 25 minutes or until the seeds are lightly browned and crisp, tossing a couple of times in between with a spatula.

For Garlic & Sea Salt Roasted Pumpkin Seeds:

1/2 of your seeds

about 1/2 Tablespoon of olive oil

about 1 heaping teaspoon of minced garlic, preferably the kind in the jar

a generous amount of ground sea salt

Again, when I say generous amount, what I mean is, add as much as you think you might like and then multiply it by two. It sounds like a lot, but it’s not. Toss all of the ingredients together with a wooden spoon until they are completely combined and all of the seeds are coated. Spread the seeds out on the parchment lined baking sheet and roast for about 25 minutes or until the seeds are lightly browned and crisp, tossing a couple of times in between with a spatula.