Wild Blueberry & Orange Bars

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We did some traveling up the Seacoast into Maine over the weekend. 

It was just as gorgeous as I had hoped it would be. New Hampshire only has 18 miles of Seacoast but there’s still plenty of beach, shopping, and restaurants to take in. People swarm to it every sunny weekend. In fact, we estimated that there were probably easily over 150,000 people in the Hampton Beach area on Saturday.

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This is a smaller beach area up from Hampton Beach on Saturday…85 degrees.

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The same beach on Sunday…..66 degrees and drizzling.

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This feast was only $35 dollars in Hampton Beach and that’s including my very tasty margarita…or two.

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The parts of the Seacoast of Maine we were able to take in on a short weekend were breathtaking. Upscale, gorgeous, and just like how you see it in all of the magazines featuring New England.

All the quaint little sea towns. Amazing. I caught myself thinking more than once, “where have you been all my life?”. 

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We’re getting used to the interesting weather changes in New England. Sunny and warm on Saturday, cloudy and chilly on Sunday.

Perfect for looking at lighthouses.

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These oysters on the half in Maine were $21 and very small. Flavorful though.

We were surrounded by people eating HUGE fish and chips and fried clams, oysters, and shrimp. Being allergic to gluten probably saved me a good 3,000 calories. But ohhh…the fried food looked so good.

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The dogs never have a difficult time meeting new friends. These folks were vacationing from Quebec. They loved the dogs and missed their own. Lots of fun stories and chatting with friendly people.

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This little girl and her brother were also vacationing from Quebec. They taught the dogs a new jumping trick while the adults chatted. What perfect dog sitters they would be! We were sad they live so far away.

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First time in the Atlantic! It’s clear and beautiful. The sand felt wonderful.

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This is a neat tea and coffee shop in Kennebunk, Maine. I can’t wait to go back to Kennebunk in the Fall with my mom and meander through the shops and restaurants.

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We ran across an organic farmer’s market and I wanted to make sure we didn’t miss out on “Maine’s Famous Blue Fruit”. The wild blueberry. We bought two pints and now I’m kicking myself for not buying as much as we could to freeze for the winter. Did you know Maine produces 98% of America’s wild blueberries – the most in the world.

Aren’t they gorgeous?

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You know I had to make something delicious with them!

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The crust on these bars is like a chewy candy bar and the middle is soft and slightly custard like. The orange glaze over the top…tart and sweet and marries perfectly with the coconut and blueberries. Enjoy!

Wild Blueberry & Orange Bars

For the crust:

1 1/2 Cups Mama’s All Purpose Almond Flour

1 Cup Sweetened Flaked Coconut

1/2 Cup Dark Brown Sugar

1/2 Cup Solid Coconut Oil

1 1/2 teaspoons Kosher Salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Pulse all of the crust ingredients in a food processor until combined. 

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Press mixture into the bottom and 1/3 up the sides of a well oiled 9×13 inch pan. 

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For the filling:

1 Cup Mama’s All Purpose Almond Flour

3/4 Cup Granulated Sugar

1/2 teaspoon Kosher Salt

1/4 teaspoon Xanthan Gum

3/4 Cup Earth Balance Soy Free Non-Dairy Butter Spread

3 Eggs

1 1/2 Tablespoons Freshly Grated Orange Zest

1/4 Cup Freshly Squeezed Orange Juice

1 1/2 Cup Wild Maine Blueberries

In an electric mixer, beat the flour, sugar, salt, xanthan gum, and butter until combined. Add the orange zest and orange juice. With the mixer on medium, add the eggs one at a time until combined. Scrape down bowl and mix on medium for two minutes until light and fluffy, similar to cake batter. Fold in the blueberries. Pour batter over crust.

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Bake for 40-50 minutes (I use convection) covering with foil after the first 25 minutes. Bars are done when top is golden and middle is set but still a tiny bit jiggly. Allow to cool for 20 minutes before frosting with glaze.

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For the glaze:

1 Tablespoon DF Butter, melted

Zest of 1 Orange

Juice of 1 Orange

About 1 (overflowing) Cup of Powdered Sugar

Stir well to thoroughly combine. Spoon over bars and spread carefully. Allow bars to cool completely before cutting.

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Grilled Peach Cocktails

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I turned 45 years old today.

I don’t feel a day past 35, maybe even younger.

Age is such a strange thing. I see the gray coming in and the crow’s feet beginning, yet, I welcome the calm in this stage of life (most of the time!) and the wisdom that if I’m lucky, comes with aging. I have a fantastic life and I am blessed beyond what I could have ever hoped for. I have a loving and healthy family and sweet friends with open hearts and open arms.

Life is good.

Grilled Peach Cocktails

2 Fresh Ripe Organic Peaches, peeled and sliced. plus 1 more for garnish

1 1/2 Tablespoons Dark Brown Sugar

Juice of 2 Limes

1/2 Cup of White Rum

1 1/4 ounces Maraschino Liquor 

6 ounces of Cold Peppermint Herbal Tea

2 Cups Ice

Toss the peaches gently in the brown sugar.

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Grill the peaches on a very hot grill. Not too long, just long enough to slightly caramelize the sugar and leave a few grill marks.

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Remove from grill.

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Place the peaches with juice and sugars, and all remaining ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.

Makes 4 eight ounce cocktails.

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

The Race Is On

4 Comments

DSC_5006Remember when I told you I was going to have a huge organic vegetable garden this summer?

I even started some of the longer growing seeds indoors for the first time. I had visions of canning and freezing and having all kinds of wonderful veggies and herbs to use throughout the winter.

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All was going well, they were beautiful, we bought the supplies to make three large raised gardens, I replanted the seedlings once they were strong enough into their secondary pots…

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And then they all died.

It was quite disappointing.

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The thought of going through that all over again and then possibly losing them all in a massive downpour (which are common in NH) was just too much. We’ve only lived in this house for 7 months and we have been busy. Seriously busy. There’s a lot that goes on when you move 3,000 miles across the country to a new area and new home. Plus we’re having visitors for summer and fall…so I decided to set the garden aside until next year, when I could really give it some special attention.

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Unfortunately, now I’m kicking myself for not starting the organic garden. Not only is purchasing all of our organic vegetables a large expense every week,  for some reason the organic produce in the grocery stores here doesn’t last nearly as long as it did on the west coast. A lot of it comes from California so I’m guessing by the time it gets here, it’s already at least 5 to 6 days old.  Organic produce that’s already a week old! Certain things are also hard to find, like a simple red bell pepper. Very frustrating.

I’ve learned the hard way that we need to eat them up as quickly as possible. Throwing away organic vegetables is a pricey, awful, feeling.

So the race is on.

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When I get home from the store I make a huge salad, put it in an airtight container, and I eat salad every day for lunch and sometimes dinner until it’s gone.

Have you tried Schar’s gluten-free table crackers?

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I put the other vegetables in a zipper bag with a paper towel and that seems to hold them for a just a couple more days so we can have fresh vegetables with other meals.

Here’s the Trader Joe’s goat Gouda I’ve been telling you about.

Unbelievably fabulous.

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I’ve learned my lesson and won’t be procrastinating on our organic garden next spring!

Organic Chopped Veggie Salad

Purple Cabbage

Romaine Hearts

Baby Spinach Leaves

Celery

Carrots

Sweet Petite Peppers

Roma Tomatoes

Dice all veggies (shred the carrots) and place in an airtight container.

Dressing

1 part Organic Olive Oil

2 Parts Organic Fresh Squeezed Lime Juice

Organic Oregano

Organic Raw Honey

Kosher Salt & Freshly Ground Pepper To Taste

Place all ingredients in a canning jar, tighten the lid, and shake to emulsify.

Summer Days

3 Comments

How is your summer going, are you enjoying it?

I thought we’d do a little catching up today.

I have a fantastic post planned for you in a few days with all kinds of information you’ll love, but for now, we’ll just chat and I’ll bring you up to speed on what’s been happening during our first summer in New Hampshire.

I hope you’re setting aside at least a few minutes a day to truly enjoy summer. A walk in the morning or maybe on your lunch break? A book in the sun, or a relaxing sip or two on your porch?

We are thoroughly enjoying our front porch and back deck. If you look over my husband’s shoulder, you can see Mount Monadnock. We try very hard to sit outside and enjoy the evenings several nights a week.

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I hope I never get used to the amazing beauty of New Hampshire.

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The neighbors are probably thrilled with all the cigar smoke.

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We are loving the extremes of the east coast weather. It definitely makes for some excitement and some crazy storms. We had one a few weeks ago that woke Abigail and I out of a dead sleep. I sat straight up in bed. I’ve never heard anything like it. In fact, it spooked me so much, I had to turn the light on and read my book for a while.

This is just a mild one. It brought buckets of rain though. We got about an inch in a matter of a half an hour.

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Right now we’re in a heat wave with high humidity. Who knew that humidity can make the temperature outside feel 10 degrees hotter than it really is? My skin and my sinuses love it though, so you won’t hear any complaining from me. I learned quickly that if you want any type of dry food to stay crispy in New Hampshire, you had better get it into a plaster zipper bag, pronto. I’ve also learned that I  have to stay very hydrated. Heat and humidity combined make for a lot of sweating when you’re outside working in the yard or walking the dogs. I had to invest in deodorant, something I haven’t worn in years, so I didn’t scare off the new friends we’ve made.

Gross… I know.

This is Abigail and I enjoying the sun this morning before it turned into a moist furnace outside.

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I was happy the bugs stayed on their own side of the playground

Were you aware that New Hampshire has 168 species of insects? Yep. And they all live in our backyard. We have bears and porcupines too, but the new fencing has helped with that.

This is one of the friendlier bugs. Friendly, yet creepy. Romeo was completely mortified to see him stuck to the screen. He took one sniff and went straight upstairs to his kennel.

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Our next door neighbor caught this thief on her night vision camera in the spring. That’s her bird feeder he’s holding. Prior to our fence, he raided our bird feeders twice and carried them off into the woods. Needless to say, those have been put away until hibernation season. We’ve also been visited in broad daylight by a smaller bear twice. He likes to come around on about the 10th of each month. He’s not really afraid of people and it can be a bit unsettling to see him running across the street when there are people and kids milling around outside. The last time he arrived (on the 10th of July), my neighbor had to throw her shoe at him to get him to drop her bird feeder.

She’s braver than I!

By the way, that boulder is almost 5 feet tall and it’s right off their back porch.

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This little prickly “guy” has been hanging around on most early mornings in our neighbor’s yard across the street. He moves pretty slowly so it’s kind of fun to get a good look at him. I’m assuming he’s not in a rush because he doesn’t have much to worry about covered in needles and all. Luckily, the dogs haven’t had the chance to get out and visit with him. Abigail encountered a small one before the fencing was up and I had to pull quills out of her tongue.

She probably licked it thinking it was a cat. It looks soft from here, but we know better don’t we!

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I stumbled across this frog behind our shed while the fence guys were here. He was very nice to sit still for me so I could get a good shot. On Sunday while I was watering the flower boxes on the back deck I found a tiny frog that was only half the size of my thumbnail. He moved too quickly for a good picture though. Have I told you that both the neighbor’s across the street and next door have snakes in their yards? So far, we’ve been passed by, thank goodness.

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We LOVE the new fence. It makes life so much less stressful with the dogs. They’re social and they love to visit with people, so we always had to keep an eye on them the entire time they were outside so they didn’t bother anyone or get hit by a car. Now we don’t have to worry about them wandering off – or something scary wandering in.

We’ve been told by the neighbors next door that people originally moved into this neighborhood “for the open concept and because people didn’t have fences”. And that they thought it looked “OK” but, “they wouldn’t do it”. There are now three of us out of 13 houses that have fences.

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You can’t see it, but I have two Pinterest things going on at once in the picture of Abigail and I above. The toenails… dark denim blue paint and light blue glitter. The husband said, “wow….they’re………..dark.”  I suppose they do look somewhat Halloween-ish, but I’m a sucker for glitter. The other Pinterest thing I have going on is coconut oil all over my hair and a plastic shopping bag on my head.

Which let me tell you, was HOT in the sun.

I’m new to Pinterest. I know, I know…I’m a bit late into the game. And it’s probably a good thing, because I’m already completely addicted. I now have so many recipes, holiday decorating ideas, painting ideas, hair ideas, clothing ideas, craft ideas….you name it, running through my head, I’m pretty sure my brain is on fire. One of the funnest things about Pinterest is seeing how creative and talented people are. Wow! And they’re willing to share, which is very cool. I’m feeling inspired to do all kinds of fun things.

I antiqued our TV cabinet. It was a really quick and simple project. Next up, the guest bedroom furniture and all of the bathroom cabinets.

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I’ve managed to put a “Follow Me On Pinterest”  button in the sidebar on the blog, please come join me, it’s great fun!

But it is BEYOND me when it comes to getting one of those buttons on everything I post. Seriously. I watched a gazillion tutorials and I have no idea what they’re talking about. I have no idea how to get behind the scenes and find all the gobblety code they’re talking about. I follow at least 100 blogs and most of them have them, so I must be missing something. So, if you are able to explain to me how to do it in a step by step process in a way that a 5-year-old would understand…shoot me a note.

I think I mentioned that our son was here visiting for a month? He and my husband went skydiving for his birthday. They had a fantastic time.

I opted to stay home with the dogs.

You can watch their skydiving video here. 

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Brandon was also able to go on a couple of business trips with his dad and see 6 different states. He even had the “pleasure” of experiencing the once every 17 year Cicada invasion in New Jersey.

You can view his video here and hear the Cicadas!

They looked at Ferrari’s, went to the largest cigar shop in the US, went to the Freedom Tower, Wall Street, all kinds of fun adventures! He was here for Father’s Day too and we were able to surprise his dad with kayaks.

There are numerous absolutely breathtaking ponds and lakes right out our door.

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We celebrated his 21st birthday. (sniff…sniff..) I wonder if we secretly try to convince ourselves that they’ll never grow up?

But now look at that, he’s as big, if not bigger than his dad. How did that happen?

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Brandon was able to shoot off fireworks himself for the first time while he was here for Independence Day. In Washington they are illegal and you’re only allowed to go to public displays unless you want to go to the Idaho state line. I wish I had a picture of that…it’s like a huge war zone right over the state line.

Here in New Hampshire, the “Live Free or Die” state, you can buy fireworks all year-long and set them off whenever you like.

So much fun!

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You can watch a video of some of our fireworks here.

We were also able to go along with my husband on one of his track days. These “adventures” I usually opt out of because I don’t like the what-ifs that are involved. However, this time we packed up the trailer and we all headed out together. I’m glad I went, it was a great day. The raceway was very impressive. Evidently they hold a Nascar race here every year, in fact it was just this past weekend.

Tony doesn’t race his bike. These track days are attended by all kinds of riders, racers included. They have mini-workshops and tips for better riding and it’s a safe (safer than the streets) environment for getting that need-for-speed out of their systems. And yes, people do wreck. That’s why I usually opt out. There were a few wrecks this time, luckily no one was seriously injured.

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“No Cops No Cars No Limits”

Every man’s dream and every wife’s nightmare. ha

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Learning a better leaning into the corner technique.

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Well over 100 mph right here.

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And this is us, safe and sound (lots of praying throughout the day) and on our way home.

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That’s it for now but we have plenty of adventures planned for the remainder of the summer. And then comes Fall in New Hampshire.

I can’t wait!

I hope you have a fabulous summer. Thank you for stopping by my blog and always being so supportive. I love to read all of your comments and questions.

~ April

Breakfast As I See It

8 Comments

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Sometimes, I think I cannot face another egg for breakfast.

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(Photo – digitalbusstop.com)

I require protein in the morning if I’m going to make it through the day with any amount of energy. But honestly, I can only handle so many mornings of eggs

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and protein shakes.

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I do like leftovers for breakfast but couldn’t find one single leftover in the fridge besides chili. Chili for breakfast is pushing it, don’t you think?

The cinnamon rolls would be fabulous though…but not much protein there.

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So I went with a turkey sandwich. I was able to fit all of the important things in like protein, vegetables, and a carbohydrates.

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The only thing missing was bacon, because we ate the rest of it yesterday on some fabulous BLT’s for lunch.

Now bacon is another story. Ahhh….bacon. I don’t know anyone that doesn’t like it. And clearly, if you don’t like bacon – well, you’re just not going to be in my close circle of friends. Because bacon is a must if you’re going to enjoy life.

Have you tried the Applegate Sunday Bacon? So, very, good.

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If I thought I could live on bacon and peanut butter & chocolate pancakes every morning, now THAT would be my mainstay. But we all know what a daily diet of  bacon, chocolate, and peanut butter will lead to. An embarrassing trip to the cardiologist where I would have to admit that I’d been having a love affair with all the wrong foods.

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So to avoid that, “I wish I was invisible moment” with a heart doctor, I settled on a sandwich for breakfast this morning.

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~April’s Breakfast Sandwich~

2 Slices of Udi’s Gluten Free Bread

3 Slices of Applegate Organic Roasted Turkey 

Organic English Cucumber Slices

Organic Tomato Slices

Organic Broccoli Sprouts

Annie’s Organic Horseradish Mustard

Olive Oil Mayo

We Like To Call It “Linner”

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For some strange reason, we like to eat a large meal at about 2:30, especially on the weekends.

We call it Linner.

You know – lunch & dinner. 

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Typically, we eat breakfast at a normal time, before 8:00 and then we get busy, run errands, do yard work, or head out on day trips.

Linner is perfect for those days. 

Tonight we’re headed to a movie, which would interrupt dinner, so Linner is just right. Then we can have popcorn and snacks for “dinner”. 

See how that works? We’re grown-ups now so if we want to have Junior Mints and popcorn for dinner…so be it. 

~Here’s What We Had For Linner~

Grilled Salmon

Penne with Pesto

Bruschetta with Goat Gouda

Peach Tranquility Tea from Teavana

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You can find my vegan pesto recipe here. I like to make a large batch of it and then freeze it in smaller batches to use whenever I like. You can find my bruschetta recipe here. It’s SO easy. This time I topped it with Trader Joe’s Goat Gouda.  A-MAZING. If you can tolerate goat’s milk cheese and you haven’t tried it, it’s an absolute MUST. It’s delicious. It stays somewhat soft after broiling, the perfect texture. It’s not too “goaty”, it’s mild, creamy, I really can’t say enough good things about it.

We’re off to the movies. Hope you all are having a fabulous Saturday!

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