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.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

We love Costco!

There are many things that I love about Costco including their reputation for treating their employees well, the bulk-size discounts for my family-size shopping needs, and the higher quality products.  More and more though, I am beginning to love them for carrying products that are gluten free.   Here's a few of our favorites:
  1.  Rotisserie Chicken:  Unfortunately, most of the grocery store rotisserie chickens contain gluten in the seasonings.  Bummer!  However, the rotisserie chicken from Costco is safe and labeled gluten free.  Hurray!  It's a bit of a drive for us to go to Costco, so by the the time that we drive there, shop, and drive home, it's close to a mealtime and the kids are hungry.  We usually pick up a rotisserie chicken while we are there to make a quick meal when we get home.  This week we had the chicken with quinoa and peas when we got home.  My little gluten-free girl ate three plates of food. My kids love to dip, so I gave them some Sweet Baby's Ray's BBQ sauce (Yes, we buy it in bulk from Costco).
  2. Cashew Clusters: My son with a peanut allergy does not eat these because of the warning of cross-contamination with peanuts, but the little ones as well as mom and dad love to snack on these. They have also been a favorite with guests as well. In fact, my mom recently called me from Costco asking where to find them. 
  3.  Nature's Earthly Choice Quinoa:  Yes, all quinoa is gluten-free, but I added this to my list because it is such a good deal at Costco and is a great addition to a gluten-free diet.
  4. Nature's Earthly Choice Chia Seeds:  I'm always trying to find ways to bulk up my kids food, and I've found that my kids like Chia seeds on yogurt.  My daughter was even calling them sprinkles the other day and putting them on frozen yogurt.  This is another great deal at Costco especially in comparison to purchasing it at a health food store.
  5. Crunchmaster Multi-Grain Crackers:  These are a great nut and seed based cracker that are still easy enough for a toddler to chew.  My kids love to dip these in hummus or eat them with SunButter.
  6. Pirate's Booty:  Both of my little ones are huge fans of Jake and the Neverland Pirates from Disney Junior, so they love to snack on Pirate Booty.  It's a great gluten-free snack to have on hand that doesn't cost a fortune.
  7. Dietz & Watson Deli Meat:  Deli meat can be another item with hidden gluten, but this brand carried by Costco is gluten free.  We don't eat many sandwiches because I frankly don't make gluten free bread daily, but my daughter loves to have "turkey rolls".  I simply roll up a small slice of cheddar cheese in a slice of turkey lunch meat.
My list is getting lengthy, so I'll wrap this one up for now and post some additional favorites soon.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Let Her Eat Cake

Let's face it.  When your kids have food allergies, birthday parties can be a bit tricky.  When my son was younger, he had a friend with a peanut allergy who had never been to a birthday party before because his mother was so worried about him having an allergic reaction.  Since my son also had a peanut allergy, I was able to convince her that our party would be peanut free which meant making our own pizza, cake, and ice cream for the party from scratch in our peanut free kitchen because she was so worried about cross-contamination.  I have to admit that I didn't normally go to the same extreme for my son with the same allergy, but I was willing to do whatever it took for the poor child to be able to come to the party and actually participate in a sleepover.  He was thrilled which made the extra effort well worth it.  

Thankfully, gluten allergies are typically not as extreme, but still pose significant problems when most of the typical party food is full of gluten.  My daughter is young enough that I am still able to attend the parties with her and monitor her food choices, but eventually she will need to learn to navigate these types of social situations on her own.  For now, we just bring her own cupcakes to celebrations with us.

Homemade Gluten Free Yellow Cake Mix

I make these cupcakes ahead of time and keep them in the freezer ready to take with us for special occasions that come up.  Since my daughter can tolerate dairy products just fine, I make this recipe with milk and eggs.  Sometimes I make my own butter cream icing, but you can also use Betty Crocker icings which are all gluten free according to the company website.  Two cupcakes fit well in an old, plastic lunch meat container which is nice because I don't have to worry about bringing the container home with us.  When cake is served, she just gets out her own cupcakes, and most of the time nobody has even noticed that she had anything different.  The one time a friend asked her about it, she just told them that she had special cake that didn't hurt her tummy.  No big deal!  For other things, she is already learning to ask whether items are gluten free before eating them.  As long as she has cake, she is happy!

I have tried the Gluten Free Betty Crocker cake mixes, but we do not like them as well as this recipe.  They just don't have the sponge-like texture that we like.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Chili and Corn Bread

Growing up I always had chili with lots of crackers.  While there are gluten free substitutes for most items, I haven't found anything close to my old favorite Keebler Townhouse crackers.  Sometimes I guess that you just have to move on and create a new tradition.  Now we have chili and corn bread.

My "nothing fancy" chili recipe is just 1lb of browned ground beef with a chopped onion (I brown the beef and onions together first because I have stomach issues if the onions are not cooked completely), 2 cans of tomato sauce, 1 can of drained kidney beans (avoid the seasoned chili beans because they typically have gluten), and a couple of tablespoons of chili powder.

For the cornbread, I used the Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free Corn bread recipe.  It's delicious!  Any leftover cornbread is great with jam for breakfast the next morning too.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Yummy Veggie Chips

We picked these up at Costco last night, and my kids love them. We've been dipping them in spicy hummus. Yes, they are chips, but check out the nutritional value.  One serving has 35% of the daily value of Vitamin A, 3 grams of protein,  and 3 grams of fiber.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Quinoa and Black Beans

If you haven't tried quinoa yet, you might want to give it a try.  It is not only high in fiber, but also a complete protein with all nine essential amino acids.  Plus, it's easy for little ones to chew and a great way to boost the nutritional value of their meals.

I am still exploring ways to incorporate quinoa into our diet, but here's one successful meal that I've discovered.

Quinoa and Black Beans

1 cup quinoa
2 cups water
1 can black beans (drained)
1 can diced tomatoes
1 cup frozen corn
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp pepper

Cook 1 cup of quinoa with 2 cups of water in rice cooker.  (You can also do this on the stove, but the rice cooker works great and is super easy.)

Mix in black beans, diced tomatoes, and frozen corn with the cooked quinoa right in the rice cooker bowl.  Season with cumin, paprika, and pepper.  Return bowl to rice cooker and leave on "keep warm" setting for a few minutes to heat through.

I keep this mild for my little ones, but you can spice it up more by adding more cumin and paprika. I have also made this with just black beans and salsa for a very quick meal. I typically serve this with prepared Wholly Guacamole and corn tortilla chips because my kids love to eat anything that allows dipping.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Gluten Free Enchiladas

Making enchiladas gluten free is pretty easy.  You just need to check the labels of the ingredients that you use.  Some packaged corn tortillas contain gluten usually listed as modified food starch, so read the labels carefully.  I typically use Mission brand yellow corn tortillas.  The other item to be careful with is the taco seasoning.  I try to avoid the high salt content of prepared seasoning mixes, so I typically season my meat with Mrs. Dash Fiesta Lime seasoning.  You'll also need to check the enchilada sauce since many canned enchilada sauces contain gluten.  I used Rosarita brand enchilada sauce. Of course, you can make the tortillas and enchilada sauce from scratch, but really who has time when you have small children.

Making the Meat Filling

Brown 1 lb of ground beef along with a small chopped onion and peppers.  I used some frozen red and yellow peppers from last summer.  Once the ground beef is cooked thoroughly, then mix in a can of drained black beans and season with Mrs. Dash Fiesta Lime to taste.

Prepare Enchiladas

Warm the corn tortillas in a small skillet.  Place filling on warm tortilla and roll it up.  I typically make about 12 enchiladas in a large rectangle baking dish.  Cover enchiladas with a can of enchilada sauce and shredded cheese.


Bake enchiladas for approximately 30 minutes at 350 degrees.