Sunday, November 10, 2013

Easy, Kid Friendly Dinner

We had guests over yesterday afternoon, and I didn't have time for any preparations for dinner.  I needed a quick, fix for dinner.  Voila! In a just a few minutes, dinner was served.

 Just a few simple ingredients:

1 cup of quinoa cooked with 2 cups of water in a rice cooker
1 lb cooked ground beef
Mrs. Dash Tomato Basil seasoning to taste (or only other preferred seasoning)
2 cups of frozen peas (Or any other vegetable that you have available that the kids like)

First, start the quinoa in the rice cooker so that it can cook while you prepare the ground beef and peas.  Brown the ground meat and add seasoning (It would also be great with some onions as well).  Then just combine all the ingredients in bowls to serve.

Any suggestions on what to call this dish?  It's similar to the hamburger hash that I had as a kid just with quinoa instead of potatoes.  Not sure, but the kids love it!

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Allergy Friendly Halloween

While for the most part, my children do not feel like they are on a restricted diet.  They aren't deprived, they just eat differently.  However, I have been a little bit worried about Halloween.  How do you stick to a gluten, dairy, soy, and dye free diet on the most candy-filled night of the year? Well, for the most part our plan is to make a new tradition.  Instead of trick-or-treating, we are hosting a Halloween carnival of sorts with some games for all the kids to play as they stop by on Halloween night including pumpkin mini golf, bean bag toss, spider ring toss, tin can game, and make your own halloween bracelet.  Our prizes include glow-in-the dark bugs, spider rings, small coloring books, stickers, and sticky hands.  My kids attend a Montessori preschool that encourages families to limit sugar and gluten in their children's diet, so we also handed out invitations to their classmates to  attend our carnival. The kids are very excited about hosting the carnival and handing out prizes to their friends.  In fact, maybe a little too excited.  I think that it's going to be a long day waiting for the fun!  Hopefully, all will go well, and the carnival will be a great success.

 In addition, I also have a couple of treats for the children such as YummyEarth Organic Lollipops and Mott's Medleys Assorted Fruit Flavored Snacks.

Homemade, Dairy Free Chocolate Recipe
For an extra special treat, I made them some homemade, dairy free chocolate.   It's simple to make with just coconut oil, honey, and cocoa powder.  You just melt 1 cup of coconut oil on low heat, remove from heat once melted, stir in 1/4 to 1/2 cup of honey (to desired sweetness), whisk in 1 cup of unsweetened, powdered cocoa, and pour in a glass pan or candy molds.  I put the molds in the freezer for a few minutes to solidify the chocolate.  Since coconut has a low melting point, these chocolates need to be stored in the refrigerator until ready to eat.  

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Drop Sugar Cookies (Gluten and Dairy Free)

I wanted something sweet today that was easy to make and didn't require a trip to the store. I also wanted to try out a new gluten free flour blend that I found at Costco recently. I simply modified an old drop sugar cookie recipe to make it gluten and dairy free.

1 1/3 cups gluten free flour (Namaste Perfect Flour Blend)
3/4 tsp gluten free baking powder
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/2 cup coconut oil
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp gluten free vanilla

1. Preheat oven to 350. 2. Combine flour, baking powder, and salt in a small bowl. 3. In large bowl, beat coconut oil, sugar, egg, and vanilla until light and fluffy. 4. Add flour mixture and beat on low just until combined. 5. Drop by rounded teaspoon on ungreased baking sheet. 6. Bake 10-12 minutes until edges are lightly brown. Makes approximately 24 cookies.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Freezer Muffins

Not only do my kids have multiple food issues, but they are also picky and sometimes down right stubborn about what they will eat.  Sound familiar?  I like to sneak fruit and vegetables along with healthy fats into muffins.  Shhh!  Don't tell them that they ate zucchini today.  I always make a double batch and freeze half of them for later whenever I make muffins.  They make a great snack to have on hand.  You can just pop them in the microwave for 1 minute to thaw them, and they taste like they are fresh from the oven.  It's my teenagers favorite after school snack.

Here's some of our favorite muffins recipes:

Banana Muffins - I just make this recipe, and bake in a muffin tin.  Lately, I have been substituting the canola oil with coconut oil and replacing the sugar with 1/2 cup of honey.  These are the kid's favorites.

Zucchini Muffins- Just make this as muffins for a grab and go snack.  I use coconut oil instead of vegetable oil and use my own gluten free flour mix (3/4 cup Sorghum Flour, 3/4 Brown Rice Flour, and 1/2 cup Potato Starch).  I also leave out the nuts because we have a peanut allergy, and I worry about cross contamination with other tree nuts.

Pumpkin Muffins - Since the kids prefer muffins, I just make this recipe as muffins.  To keep it dairy free, just substitute coconut oil for butter.  I have been using some frozen pumpkin puree that I have on hand from last season instead of canned pumpkin, but either one will work fine.  I also have found that you can reduce the amount of sugar to 3/4 cup.  I'm planning to experiment with alternative sweeteners such as honey or agave nectar next time.  I use the same flour mix as above (3/4 cup Sorghum Flour, 3/4 Brown Rice Flour, and 1/2 cup Potato Starch).

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

OMG, My Body Really Hates Gluten

I have been "glutened" twice in the past couple of weeks, and I have been feeling completely miserable.  My typical symptoms include a few hours of intense stomach pain followed by several days of digestive issues including constipation, bloating, and gas.  Then the fun includes flu-like body aches and pains, and a return of my joint pain.  All the while, I struggle with anxiety and just plain moodiness.  Unfortunately, my daughter was included in one of the occasions, so not only did I feel bad but I also had to try to manage an unhappy little girl with many of the same symptoms.  Yuck!

Cross contamination can be a major problem if you happen to be one of the unlucky ones who are highly sensitive.  We are completely gluten free at home, but I'm discovering that eating food from restaurants or homes without gluten free kitchens can be even trickier than I thought.  My first "glutening" happened at a party.  The host graciously provided hamburgers with gluten free buns for us, along with fresh fruit and vegetables, and even made "gluten free" cupcakes.  Somehow something must have been cross-contaminated though because my daughter and I both started having stomach pains within a couple of hours.  Just about the time that I was starting to feel better from the party incident, it happened again.  This time from a salad bar. Thankfully, it was just me though.  Check out this great link if you need more information about how to prevent cross-contamination:
Safety Tips for Avoiding Cross Contamination.  To all of my friends and family, I apologize ahead of time, but I will be asking lots of questions about any food that my family eats or just bringing our own food to social events.  We have to stay healthy to function.

So what do you do if you get accidentally get "glutened"?  I am by no means offering medical advice, but we have found a few things that seem to help get through it.  For my family members, the inflammation from the gluten exposure causes constipation, so we immediately start taking MiraLax.  I have also found that focusing on eating as clean as possible and including anti-inflammatory foods helps as well as drinking lots of green tea.  We also take anti-inflammatory medication such as ibuprofen or naproxen sodium to reduce inflammation and reduce the body ache symptoms.  This past time, I even tried using activated charcoal since I had read on many blogs that others found it helpful in detoxifying their bodies after a gluten exposure.  I'm not sure yet whether it was helpful, but I plan to use it right away the next I start experiencing gluten symptoms.  I have also been reading about GlutenEase a product designed to help in the digestion of gluten.  While it is NOT a cure for celiac disease, it does appear that some find it helpful in recovering from an accidental exposure.  I read on several blogs that others have found it helpful to take it before eating in situations where cross-contamination is a threat.  I have some on hand to try.

What works for you?  I'd love to hear if you've tried any of these methods or have other tips to share on dealing with accidental "glutening".

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Fun GF Pasta for Kids

I found this pasta for the kids last night at the store.  Quick, easy lunch today with some prepared pasta sauce.  They loved it!  They had lots of fun finding letters, spelling some words, and eating all of their food.

Monday, August 26, 2013

GF Bread that Kids Will Actually Like

Udi's gluten free bread varieties score big points for convenience, but the taste is definitely far from fresh baked bread.  If you're looking for a bread that might please some of your pickiest eaters this one may just work:  GF White Bread for Bread Machines.  Not only does my family love this bread, but it receives rave reviews from my gluten eating guests.  I have made a couple of adaptions to the recipe since my family does not eat dairy or soy.  I use Silk Coconut Milk instead of buttermilk and substitute sorghum flour for the soy flour.  We love sorghum flour!  It tastes great in baked goods and adds a nutritional boost with an abundance of fiber, protein, and minerals.  Check out the health benefits of sorghum.  Just like most gluten free baked goods, this bread has a short shelf life.  With a family of 5, a loaf is typically gone within 24 hours.  If you want to keep it longer, then I would suggest slicing it and freezing it until ready to eat.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Meatloaf and Mashed Potatoes - Hold the Dairy Please

The results are in... Dairy is out! Through our trial elimination with dairy, we did discover that the kids appear to do better without dairy. I have to admit that I feel better as well. My son wanted meatloaf and mashed potatoes for his birthday dinner last week, so I made a trial batch of dairy-free meatloaf and mashed potatoes. My dad and his wife also came over for dinner, so I had a good set of taste testers. Let's just say that my dad is not exactly adventurous with food. I didn't tell him that the dinner was both gluten and dairy free until after the fact. He admitted that he didn't notice any difference. Success! I made my Quinoa Meatloaf with Silk Original Coconut Milk instead of milk.  For the mashed potatoes, I simply substituted Smart Balance Light Buttery Spread with Flaxseed Oil for the butter and coconut milk for the milk.  While coconut milk does a slight coconut favor, it was not noticeable in either dish.

So why coconut milk?  There are several milk substitutes available including soy, rice, almond, and coconut.  We chose to primarily use coconut milk because of it's antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral properties that can boost the immune system.  Check out the Health Benefits of Coconut Milk.  This is definitely a plus when you have a family with sensitive tummies and a host of other allergies that weaken their immune systems.  I cook with the original flavor and the kid's drink the vanilla flavor.  While soy milk does provide more protein along with the calcium, it also has many adverse health affects so I try to avoid it.  Almond milk may be an OK option too, but my kids wouldn't drink it.  I try to use rice milk in moderation because of it's high sugar content.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Pizza Sticks

Pizza party anyone? Sounds great unless you're a teen on a gluten and dairy free diet. Eating pizza is an important social aspect of the teen years, so I had to come up with a safe alternative for my son. Cheese substitutes could be a possibility, but he frankly isn't too excited about that particular option. I've gotten fairly skilled at making gluten free bread, so I figured breadsticks could be a good alternative especially if I added some pepperoni to morph them into pizza sticks. I used a double batch of these Gluten Free Bread Sticks as my base and added one package of Hormel Turkey Pepperoni.
I used kitchen shears to cutup the pepperoni into small pieces, and then mixed it into the dough before squeezing out the breadsticks.  I did have to make a slightly larger hole in the ziploc bag to accommodate the  pepperoni pieces resulting in thicker breadsticks that needed an additional five minutes of baking time. I was actually only able to make 8 large breadsticks out of a double batch of dough.  The little kids each ate one breadstick, but my teenager ate three to give you an idea of portion size.  I served these with Prego Veggie Smart Pizza Sauce for dipping which is gluten free according to the Campbell foods website.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Dairy Free Icecream

What's summertime without ice cream? Now that my family is both gluten and dairy free this suddenly became a bit more difficult.  My kids love the SoDelicious brand Coconut frozen dessert varieties, but at $6+ a pint that can be a bit too pricey for a family of five. I decided to pull out the ice cream maker attachment from the bottom of the deep freezer in the garage and try to make my own.  All of the recipes that I found online called for the full fat, canned coconut milk, and I didn't have any on hand so I thought that I'd give it a try with the lighter coconut milk that I already had in the refrigerator.  The result was more of an ice milk type treat, but still delicious and satisfying without the extra fat.  I simply
mixed together 6 cups of Coconut Milk (such as Silk brand - not the full fat kind), 1/2 cup of sugar (This is a slightly sweet treat, but you can add more sugar if desired), and 2 tsp vanilla to make the ice cream mixture.  Then froze the mixture in an ice cream machine and served immediately as a soft-serve treat.  I have the KitchenAid Ice Cream Maker attachment that I use to make it, but a traditional ice cream maker should work fine as well.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Banana Flax Pancakes (Gluten and Dairy Free)

These are definitely not traditional pancakes, but very delicious nonetheless.  I've made these a couple of times, and each time my kids devoured them served with almond butter.  I will admit that they are a bit difficult to flip, and some of mine looked pretty messy.  You definitely need to keep them small, use lower heat than traditional pancakes, and cook them a bit longer after they start to bubble before trying to flip them over.  Otherwise, they fall apart.  Very simple recipe though with only five ingredients:  eggs, bananas, ground flax, cinnamon, and coconut oil.

Since my family is now dairy free as well as gluten free, I've been working to include alternative sources of calcium in their diet.  Almonds and thus almond butter contain a surprising amount of calcium which makes it a great topping for these gluten and dairy free pancakes.

Check out a list of nondairy calcium sources:

Friday, July 26, 2013

Berry Coconut Smoothie

We are in the middle of a dairy-free trial elimination, and the kids wanted smoothies for breakfast this morning.  Oh what to do?  Get creative!  I had some leftover coconut milk on hand that I had purchased for another recipe.  It has a higher, fat content and thicker consistency than regular milk, so I thought that it might work to replace the milk and yogurt combination that I typically use for smoothies.  I just blended up 2 cups of coconut milk, about a cup of frozen mixed berries, three tablespoons of ground flax, and a bit of honey. Success!  The kids loved it!  My daughter was also thrilled that it was purple like her shirt.  Shh!  Don't tell them that the smoothies had flax in them.  It a adds a great nutritional boost since it is high in  Omega-3 essential fatty acids and fiber.  Check out the many benefits of flaxseed.

Just a side note about the dairy elimination trial if your curious...
I have been reading Cure Your Child with Food: The Hidden Connection Between Nutrition and Childhood Ailments by Kelly Dorfman.  My youngest frequently has a runny nose and both kids are still touchy and irritable some days, so I'm trying to figure out what is remaining in their diet that might be irritating them.  Dairy intolerance and/or allergies can be related to congestion and eczema, so we are taking out the dairy for a couple weeks to see if we see any changes.  If you are struggling with chronic health and/or behavior issues with your kids, I highly recommend this book.  Dorfam guides you through case studies of families that she has worked with to find nutritional solutions to common childhood illnesses and concerns.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Banana Icecream

This delicious icecream has exactly one ingredient:  frozen bananas.  No milk, gluten, or added sugar!  So maybe it's not exactly icecream, but it does have the same creamy texture.  If you haven't tried it, then you'll be amazed.  All you have to do is freeze some very ripe, peeled bananas.  I typically just break them in half and put them in ziploc bags to freeze.  Then you just blend up the frozen banana, and you'll have a naturally sweet, yummy treat.  I actually use the Yonanas Ice Cream Treat Maker to make it, but I think that it will work fairly well in a blender or food processor too.  One trick that I have found that makes this work a little bit better is to thaw the banana just a little bit before blending it.  My kids are typically anxiously awaiting their treat, so I just pop my ziploc bag in the microwave for 20 seconds to soften up the bananas first.  You can also add other frozen fruit and/or toppings to create new flavors.  My kids like to add some frozen strawberries or maybe a little bit of chocolate syrup.  Each frozen banana makes a small, child-size serving. When I made this for my kids last night, my 4 year-old daughter squealed with delight.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Chocolate Coconut Flag Cake (Gluten, Dairy and Dye Free)

My daughter wanted to make a flag cake to celebrate the 4th today, and we needed to make something gluten and dairy free.  I also recently purchased some coconut oil to experiment with in the kitchen, so I decided to incorporate the coconut oil into our cake.  We all love chocolate, so that decision was easy.  We made a Betty Crocker Gluten Free Devil's Food Cake and substituted coconut oil for the butter.  The mix is designed for a smaller 9x9 pan, but it worked fine to make a thinner cake in a larger 9x12 glass baking dish.  You could also use two cake mixes if you prefer a thicker cake or need more servings.  We topped the cake with coconut icing.  I used the icing recipe from these Fluffy Coconut Cupcakes.  Then we used blueberries and sliced strawberries to decorate.  Voila!  Simple, allergy friendly cake.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Ugh! Even More Food Issues

Having both a toddler and preschooler in the house is never easy, but it has been particularly challenging for us lately.  My little guy can be the sweetest boy ever lavishly giving out hugs and kisses to everyone, but he can also be quite aggressive pushing, hitting, and throwing objects at other children.  Some days he is fine, but other days his behavior is completely uncontrollable.  My daughter, on the other hand, can be touchy and emotional.  If they are both having a bad day, then our days are filled with whining, screaming, and crying.  Eliminating gluten from both their diets did dramatically reduce the number of bad days, but the bad days kept coming back. 

After my son's most recent ear infection and round of antibiotics, I had an epiphany of sorts.  Prior to the antibiotics, I was beginning to feel like we were making progress on his behavior issues, but the bad behavior returned with a vengeance even after the physical symptoms from the ear infection had dissipated.  He returned to school, and his teacher had a terrible time keeping him from hurting others and calming him down when he became upset.  After several days of racking my brain trying to figure out what was different with him, I began to wonder whether the antibiotics were playing a role since it was the only thing that I could think of that was different.  I had read that artificial dyes are associated with hyperactivity, so I wondered in the dyes in the antibiotics could be the problem.  We also had a particular bad day on a day when I made the kids Rice Crispy treats.  Yep, you guessed it.  Dyes again.  The packaged marshmallows that I used had blue dye in them as well. 

We decided to eliminate dyes from the kids diet for two weeks to see if we noticed a difference in their behavior.  After only a couple of days, we saw a major difference in my son's behavior.  He is still a bit rambunctious at times, but the unprovoked hitting and pushing quit completely.  The relatively few instances of aggressive behavior since the diet change have been fairly normal instances of toddler frustration and tiredness.  Plus, we noticed that he responds much better to gentle reminders and correction than he did before the change.  On bad days in the past, redirection and time outs were completely ineffective.  I found that I just had to limit his interaction with other children on bad days.  While the changes in my daughter have not been as dramatic, her moods are becoming more stable with less weeping and fussing over minor issues.

In addition, we noticed that our daughter became extremely hyper after eating cheese.  Other diary products did not have any effect though.  After reading labels and searching for information on the ingredients, we discovered that some parents have found that their kids have a reaction to the "natural" annatto color commonly used in cheeses and other dairy products. After a recent incident with yellow cheese, my daughter was bouncing off the walls for several hours.  Then she went through a period of weepiness where everything imaginable brought her to tears leading up to a fit of rage with screaming and repetitively kicking on her door because I asked her to pick up a few toys.  The tirade finally ended with her in tears, shaking uncontrollably in my arms.  Once she calmed down, she went back to her normal, mostly agreeable self.

Needless to say, my family's diet is now gluten, dye, and annatto free! 

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Strawberry Shortcake

It's strawberry season!  We always had a strawberry patch growing up, and I have fond memories of strawberry picking.  I ate most of what I picked as I went and ended up with strawberry juice all over my face and shirt.  Another tradition was homemade strawberry shortcake.  My mom typically made a spongy, yellow cake to serve as shortcake.  While I live in the suburbs with my kids, there are still strawberries to pick at grandma's house, and they love buying fresh strawberries at the farmer's market on Saturday mornings.  I searched the Internet for a shortcake recipe that might allow me to share my memories of my favorite desert growing up with my own children.  I found this recipe that not only tastes great, but it also very easy to make with simple ingredients.  No trip to the specialty food store necessary.  I wasn't sure about the pinch of nutmeg, but it gave the cakes a great flavor.

Although the coconut milk topping sounds great, I just used pre-made TruWhip.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Incredible Disappearing Banana Bread

My kids love banana bread!  Whenever I make it, it's gone within a few minutes.  Here's the gluten/dairy free recipe that I used this time.

Gluten, Dairy Free Banana Bread Deliciousness

The recipe calls for gluten-free all purpose flour.  I made my own blend with 3/4 cup of brown rice flour, 3/4 cup of sorghum flour, 1/4 of potato starch, and 1tsp xanthum gum.  I also found that it takes much longer to bake, probably more like an hour. 

Friday, June 7, 2013

No Fuss! Gluten Free Lunches for Kids

Now that the weather is nice, my kids prefer to be outside as much as possible which doesn't leave much time for meal preparation especially at lunchtime.  Here's a list of some simple ways to get the kids fed this summer.  I let my kids pick a fresh fruit or vegetable from whatever we have on hand to make each of these a meal.
  • Turkey Roll with Cheese - Simply a slice of lunch meat and cheese rolled up.  We like Dietz & Watson Deli Meat from Costco and sharp, white cheddar cheese.
  • Sunbutter Sandwich on Udi's bread - My kids love these, and it's great for picnics at the park.
  • Refried Beans and Tortilla Chips - Isadora Refried Beans are great.  Yes, you guessed it.  I found this at Costco.  They come in a microwaveable pouch and are ready in 1 minute.  My kids dip Kirkland Tortilla chips in them.
  • Hard Boiled egg, hummus, and crackers - My kids love roasted red pepper hummus.  Our favorite GF crackers are Crunchmaster Multi-Grain crackers.
  • Quinoa and Black Beans - This a great way to serve leftover quinoa.  No heating necessary.  I just mix together some quinoa and drained, black beans straight from the can.
  • Hotdog and baked beans - We eat Hebrew National Hot Dogs and Bush's Baked Beans.
  • Cheese Roll-up - I just melt some cheese on a corn tortilla and roll it up.
  • Rice Cake Sandwich - Just replace rice cakes for the bread in your favorite sandwich.  My teenage son loves to take these in his lunch for school.  His favorite is white cheddar cheese rice cakes with turkey and cheese.
  • Seed and Nut Snack Mixes - There are many of these available for purchase, but I typically make my own since we have multiple food allergies including peanuts.  I mix together Blue Diamond Roasted Almonds (No Peanut Cross-Contamination), pumpkins seeds, raisins, and Chex Cereal.  This makes a nice portable, protein and fiber source.
  • Greek Yogurt sprinkled with Chia Seeds
  • Cottage Cheese and Crackers

Saturday, May 25, 2013

No Cooking Today!

Overall, I'm not a fan of processed food.  I guess that's a good thing because it usually contains gluten anyway, but there are days when I'm just not up to cooking or grocery shopping.  Generally, my kids are pretty happy with some fresh fruit, cheese, and maybe some popcorn.  With a stomach bug making it's way through the entire family this week along with some strep throat and an ear infection, this mamma is spent.  The fridge is pretty much empty other than stuff that needs thrown out anyway.  So what is a gluten free mom to do?  I guess just pull out a few of the canned goods in the cupboards.  Today's lunch was Dinty Moore Beef Stew and fruit cups.  If you need a few shelf-stable items to keep on had for rough days or something easy to send with your kids for an alternative meal when they are away from home, then check out Hormel's List of Gluten Free items.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Gluten Free Rice Crispy Treats

At a loss for what to take to summer pitch-ins, rice crispy treats are a great gluten free option to please the kids.  We're heading to the end of the year picnic for my kid's school this afternoon, and our requested contribution is a dessert item.  Gluten Free Rice Crispy Treats to the rescue!  The gluten free version of Rice Crispy cereal is missing the malt flavor of the original, so I add a teaspoon of vanilla to the melted butter/marshmallow mixture before adding the cereal.  Just make sure that you use gluten free vanilla.  I purchase mine from Costco, and it is clearly labeled gluten free.  With this simple addition, nobody will be able to tell these are gluten free.  I typically do label my items gluten free though for pitch-ins just in case other guests need gluten free options as well.  It's also safer to pre-cut the treats, and put them in individual baggies or wrap them in plastic wrap to prevent cross-contamination as serving utensils tend to migrate from dish to dish at pitch-ins.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Frozen Fruit Pops

Now that the weather is getting nicer, the kids are constantly asking for popsicles.  While we often buy Welch’s 100% Juice Ice Bars from Costco, I wanted to try to get the kids to eat more actual fruit so I decided to make homemade frozen fruit pops.  I already had a ripe cantaloupe and some fresh strawberries, so I decided to use these as my ingredients.  I simply put the cantaloupe slices in my Ninja prep blender to make a puree.  Then I poured the cantaloupe puree into the popsicle molds and froze them for about three hours.  I also added some sliced strawberries to some of them.  My 2 year old preferred the ones without strawberries as they were a little bit easier to eat; otherwise, they were a hit with all three of my children as well as a couple of the neighbors.  Next I plan to try making them with watermelon puree, but you could make them with just about any combination of fruit and juices.  Leave a comment and share your favorite combinations for others to try.

Here's the popsicle molds that I used, but you could also make them in dixie cups with craft sticks.  I liked that the holders on these catch the juice as it melts and have a sprout for sipping it out of the holder.  Much less mess!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Gluten Free Birthday Party

Ahoy, Matey!  We had a pirate themed party for my daughter's 4th birthday.  Of course, she wanted a pirate cake, but I had to make the cake since finding a gluten free bakery can be tricky.  While I can bake, I am not a cake decorator, so I had to figure out a way to make a pirate themed cake with my limited skills.  Cupcakes seemed like the best option.  I printed out some Neverland Pirate characters on white cardstock paper, cut them out, and taped them to toothpicks.  Voila, fairly simple and inexpensive cupcake toppers.  I used the Neverland Pirate Playset printable activity for my characters.  To add variety, I also found this free, cute pirate ship cupcake topper printable.  With a little bit of searching and handiwork, a similar process could be used to create cupcake toppers for just about any theme.  For the cupcake batter, I used Gluten Free Carrot Cake (at my daughter's request) and Homemade Gluten Free Yellow Cake Mix.  None of the party guests even suspected that the cupcakes were gluten free.  Success!  My daughter was also happy with the results of her "pirate" cake.  In fact, she squealed when she saw the display.  Other than cupcakes, we just served Pirate Booty and bottled water.

The highlight of the party was the activities.  As the guests arrived, each child decorated their own pirate hat for the party.  I purchased foam pirate hats for this activity from Oriental Trading Company.  The main event was a treasure hunt in the park.  My husband and I made clues that lead the party guests through the park to find the treasure map that had been stolen by Captain Hook.  Then once the kids found the treasure map, they followed it to find the treasure filled with chocolate doubloons and inexpensive, bead necklaces.  The kids loved the activity. 

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Turn Meatloaf into a Super Food

One easy way to make gluten free meatloaf is to substitute cooked quinoa for the crackers or bread crumbs. Not only have you eliminated the gluten, but you've also boosted the nutritional value of your meatloaf by adding this super food to your recipe. Check out some of the benefits of quinoa.  For my picky eaters, I keep my meatloaf pretty simple.  I make it with 1lb ground beef, 1 egg, 1/2 cup of milk, 1 cup cooked quinoa, and a dash of salt and pepper.  Then I top it with ketchup before baking.  Sometimes I also sneak in some shredded carrots.
As I mentioned my teenage son is newly diagnosed with celiac disease, so this has been my first week packing a gluten free lunch for him.  He was excited to have leftover meatloaf for his lunch today.  Hopefully, the added quinoa will help keep him full for longer.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Sausage, Potatoes, and Green Beans

A gluten free diet can seem overwhelming at first, but don't forget that many of your favorite meals are already gluten free or may only need some minor adjustments to be so.  A staple in my family growing up was a big pot of sausage, potatoes, and green beans.  It's simple, nutritious, and gluten free.  The only needed adjustment may be the type of smoked sausage that you use since some processed meats have hidden gluten.

Check out this list of Gluten Free Sausage Products.

I typically use the  Kiolbassa Polish Style Smoked Sausage from Costco which is clearly labeled gluten free.

If by chance you've never made sausage, potatoes, and green beans, it's very easy.  I just peel and chop up about 5 medium sized potatoes.  You'll want the potatoes pieces to be bite-sized.  I then get the potatoes started boiling in just enough water to cover them for a few minutes while I chop up the sausage into bite-size pieces too.  I use three of the Kiolbassa Polish sausages for my family or a typical 1 lb. package of sausage.  Next add the sausage pieces and two cans of drained green beans to the pot and cook until potatoes are tender.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Carrot Cake - Are you sure this is gluten free?

Today was my husband and I's anniversary.  He loves carrot cake, so I wanted to surprise him with his favorite cake.  If I made regular carrot cake, he'd be the only one that could eat it.  That wouldn't be any fun, so I searched for a gluten free version.  I decided to try the Gluten Free Carrot Cake recipe posted on the Betty Crocker website.  The result was so delicious.  Even my husband was amazed that it was a gluten free cake.  He said it was the best that I've ever made.

The base of the cake is the Betty Crocker® Gluten Free yellow cake mix, and you just add shredded carrots, cinnamon, nutmeg, and walnuts.  I shredded up some baby carrots in my Ninja QB900B Master Prep Revolutionary Food and Drink Maker, Gray for the cake.  After reading through the recipe reviews, I decided to add 1/2 cup of applesauce to the recipe to add moisture.  We also also like coconut, so I added a 1/2 cup of coconut as well.  The box says to bake it in a 9x9 pan, but I was able to make two small 8inch circle layer cakes.  I topped the cake with the Betty Crocker® cream cheese icing.

You Never Knew Rice Cakes Could Be So Good

I have to admit that I've never been the biggest fan of rice cakes, but this gluten free snack is delicious and super simple to make. Just spread some Nutella on your favorite rice cake (We used Lundberg Honey Nut Brown Rice Cakes) and then top with sliced strawberries.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Eating Out Gluten Free - No Salad Please

I found out last week that my teenager also has Celiac disease.  It doesn't change much at our house, since my daughter and I were already on gluten free diets.  However, my oldest son is from a previous marriage, and I share custody with his dad.  This is where it might get tricky.  The gluten free lifestyle is completely new to his dad.  My son goes out to eat much more frequently with his dad, so I put together a list of dining out suggestions to get them started.  To make it even more of a challenge, my son will not eat lettuce or salads of any kind.  Sound familiar?  Here's some ideas for eating out:

Puccini’s has gluten free pizza and pasta dishes.

Noodles and Co. can make any of their dishes with rice noodles to make them gluten free if you ask.

Jason’s Deli has gluten free bread for sandwiches.

Chick-Fil-A – You can order a kid’s meal with grilled chicken nuggets and fries are made separately so that they are gluten free.

Wendy’s – Fries are OK here, baked potatoes, and chili

McDonald’s – Smoothies are OK, but that’s about it.  Fries and chicken nuggets are cooked together, so they both have gluten.

Chipotle – Everything except flour tortilla is gluten free.

McAllister's Deli -Baked potatoes with all kinds of toppings and several soups are gluten free.

This website is a great too for finding gluten-free friendly restaurants in your area because it allows you to limit your search to restaurants with gluten free items and/or menus:

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Update to Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe

I made an accidental discovery this morning when I was making gluten free chocolate chip cookies to take for Easter dinner.  Since only my kids and I are gluten free, I decided to only make a 1/2 batch of cookies.  The original recipe calls for 1 whole egg, 1 egg yolk, and 2 T milk.  In order to 1/2 this, I just used one egg and left out the milk.  These cookies had the best consistency of any that I have ever made.  I plan to just use 1 egg for a 1/2 batch or 2 eggs for a full batch eliminating the milk in the future.

Here's a link to my original post with the recipe:

Must Have Chocolate Chip Cookies

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Snickerdoodle Chex Mix

I think that my kids have a new favorite treat.  My daughter and I made the Snickerdoodle Chex Mix recipe from the back of the Chocolate Chex Mix box.  Delicious!  It seemed like quite a lot of butter and sugar when I was making it, so I doubled the amount of popcorn in the mix increasing it to 8 cups.  It was still very sweet and tasty.  Honestly, it would still probably taste great just mixing the cereals (Cinnamon and Chocolate Chex) and popcorn together without adding anything else.  Then it could serve more as a snack than a treat. This could also easily be put in a ziploc bag for a portable snack or treat.  Of course, Chex mix would also be a terrific party food.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Homemade Pizza

I decided to give making my own gluten-free pizza crust a try this past weekend. The kids liked the results, but I have to admit that the cheese was by far their favorite part of the pizza. I used a Cello brand four cheese Italian blend from Costco with Fontina, Parmesan, Provolone, and Romano cheeses.  Delicious!  For the crust, I used this Gluten Free Pizza Dough Recipe which tasted alright, but I had a difficult time rolling out the dough.  As you can see the result wasn't pretty, but nobody complained.  I would suggest baking the crust some before adding toppings because it was a bit doughy otherwise.  We had a fun Saturday night though eating pizza and playing games as a family including an exciting game of "Go fish!" with a 2 and 3 year old. 

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Cheeseburger Pie

Gluten Free Impossibly Easy Cheeseburger Pie

I made this for an easy dinner tonight.  Kids ate it, so I consider it a success.  My goal was to get little ones to eat, so I kept to the basic recipe.  There are many great add-in ideas in the reviews though that you might want to try.  I plan to try substituting sausage sometime to make a breakfast version.  I had 2 adults and 2 little ones for dinner tonight and this made more than enough for all of us.  My kids picked corn as their vegetable side to go with it.

If you haven't tried the Gluten Free Bisquick yet,  you should definitely give it a try.  I have used it to make both quick gluten free biscuits and pancakes.  Both turned out well.  The Betty Crocker website also has a lot of easy gluten free recipes you can try with the Bisquick.  

Tuesday, February 12, 2013


Sometimes my little ones are not the best eaters.  They both have some texture issues and difficulty chewing, so smoothies are a great option.  It's also a great way to get some nutrition in them when they are sick and refuse just about everything.  Plus, gluten is not an issue!  Many days they will have a smoothie for lunch or as a snack after nap time.  Here's two of their favorites:

Berry Smoothie (Enough for 2 small children)
1 cup of milk
1 - 6 oz Chobonit blueberry yogurt
1 cup of frozen mixed berries (I use the Kirkland Signature Nature's Three Berries blend from Costco)
1-2 Tbsp. Honey

Chocolate Banana Smoothie (Enough for 2 small children)
1 cup milk
2 bananas
1 cup of ice
1-2 Tbsp Chocolate Syrup
Mix ingredients in blender and enjoy.  I recently replaced my old blender with a Ninja QB900B Master Prep Revolutionary Food and Drink Maker, Gray .  So far, I love it.  It takes up less space in the cabinet and crushes ice much better for smoothies.

Smoothies are also a great gluten free snack or meal alternative when out and about.  It's about the only thing that my daughter can eat from McDonald's, but she loves their Berry Smoothies.  

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Valentine's Cookies

Last night, my husband took our daughter to a father/daughter dance for Valentine's Day.  They serve cookies and juice at the dance, so we made some special gluten free Valentine's cookies for her to take to the dance with her for their special night.  I used this recipe for the cookies, and they turned out great.

Gluten Free Cut-Out Cookies

We used some leftover butter cream icing that we had in the fridge and sprinkles to decorate.

Friday, February 1, 2013

SunButter Cookies

My daughter wanted to have a tea party today, and we needed a quick treat to serve with our tea.  These Flourless Peanut Butter Cookies worked well.  With only five ingredients, they were ready in a jiffy.  I substituted SunButter for the the peanut butter because of my son's peanut allergy.  The kids loved them so much that I caught them sneaking around in the kitchen trying to get more cookies.  

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

We Love Costco! Part 2

As I promised, here are some more gluten-free friendly items that we love to buy from Costco:

  1. Kirkland Tortilla Chips: My kids love to eat all kinds of dip, so tortilla chips are a must.  These taste great and are a great deal.  Much cheaper than chips from a traditional grocery store.  We keep them on hand for hummus, guacamole, etc. 
  2. Veggie Straws:  This is one of my family's favorite snacks.  They contain less fat than traditional potato chips, but still taste great.  Costco sells both a box of 24 individual size bags and a large family size bag.  We actually buy both of these.  We use the large bag to snack at home, but my oldest son takes the small bags in his lunch for school.  I also keep a couple of the small bags in the van in case of "snack emergencies" with the little ones.
  3. Wholly Guacamole:  It works out great to buy this in bulk because you can freeze the individual packages and just pull them out when you want to use them.  I typically just microwave them for about 30 seconds to thaw before serving.  Each package is just about the right size for my family of five to have a snack or serve with a Mexican themed meal.
  4. Hebrew National Hotdogs:  I have to admit that hotdogs are one of my go to items for a quick lunch for my little ones, so they are definitely a buy in bulk item.  Just like many toddlers and preschoolers, my kids have trouble chewing much meat, pork, or chicken.  At least these are all natural and gluten free.
  5. Amylu Sausages:  Many times sausages have added gluten, but these are all labeled gluten free.  Plus, they sneak in some fruit and veggies.  My kid's favorites are the Apple and Gouda cheese ones.  The breakfast sausages are also great.
  6. Pacific Roasted Red Pepper and Tomato Soup:  This one is my favorite.  It's tomato soup with a kick.  I like to have it with some crunched up Kirkland Tortilla Chips sprinkled on top.  It might be a little bit spicy for some little ones, but my kids typically eat it as long as they have chips or crackers to dip.
  7.  Pacific Natural Foods Vegetable and Chicken Broth:  I use these to make my own soups and to add flavor to rice and quinoa. 
  8. Della Organic Long Grain Brown Rice:  With a gluten-free diet, we eat a lot of brown rice.  Everyone likes this rice, and it's a good deal.