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: