Friday Breakast Dash

Not every day is full of home crafted breakfasts. I’m a realist. Some mornings it’s a quickly scarfed bowl of cereal and a dash for the door. Of my five kids, the two still at home are teenage GIRLS, which implies countless hours of wardrobe revisiting and last-minute hair tweaking. Mundane things like properly fueling your body before school and nutrition, pale in comparison to the smallest strand of bangs that isn’t cooperating. Cereal is our breakfast staple on days such as these.  Use the “milk” product of your choice and have on hand peeled hardboiled eggs, fresh fruit, raisins or juice to accompany the cereal, and you’ve at least shoved some fast nutrition down the gang.

Two quick cereal options for gluten-free kiddos (and adults):

Kix: Newly reformulated without oats, Kix seem to be well tolerated by most GF individuals. Although not made specifically in a dedicated gluten-free environment, which means cross contamination is always a possibility– the ingredients themselves are appropriate for gluten and dairy free diets. As with anything, if you’ve not tried these before, use caution and read the label to be sure you’ve not picked up an older product before the oat-free revamping.  Kix, while not organic, is  vitamin fortified, and fairly low in sugar compared to many other mainstream cereals, so I can comfort myself it’s not a total wash when we eat this item.  (1  1/4th cup serving has 45 percent of the recommended daily allowance of iron and 50 percent of folic acid. )

Option 2 is our new favorite- Bakery on Main  Gluten-Free Granola. Reaching a corporate milestone this summer by satisfying their 100,000th  satisfied customer, it’s easy to understand when you peer at the labels. Rainforest Granola (my personal favorite) as well as the other flavorful options are all made with ingredients from reputable suppliers, contain superior products and are as natural as you can get.

 I’m not sure why non-GMO expeller pressed canola oil tastes better (or even why it is better period)…but this granola possesses an impressive array of ingredients that when combined, are pure yumminess…:) Other GF flavors include, Apple Raisin Walnut, Nutty Maple Cranberry, Extreme Fruit and Nut, Cranberry Orange Cashew.  Says Bakery on Main, “We use corn and rice to create a hearty breakfast cereal that is free of gluten and also makes a great snack by itself or on yogurt or ice cream.” And it’s true! 

Although some ingredients do warn, “Manufactured on equipment that also processes milk proteins, eggs, and peanuts” — we’ve not had a problem with any of their products. (I believe that warning is only on the Tropical variety, not the other granola varieties) Again, use caution and read labels and test out in small quantities. But these are seriously the best granola products I’ve ever stuffed in my face.  The company also makes “grab and go” gluten-free bars and snack sized packages. I’ve written and asked for samples, since these aren’t available here in my local stores. When/if I get these, I’ll add a review post-consuming. I live in the Midwest and actually found the cereal in my natural food section of the supermarket, so it’s likely you can find this product in most mainstream grocers and health food stores.  However, you can also find Bakery on Main products on Amazon and through the Gluten-Free Mall, as well as direct through the manufacturer.  With a philosophy that, “food that’s good for you, should taste good, too” –Bakery on Main does deliver on their promise. No unnatural items, no refined sugar and no trans-fat, and 100 delicious.

Rainforest Granola Product Description: Real dried bananas and roasted sliced brazil nuts with coconut flavor. Made with unrefined sugar and Non-GMO expeller pressed canola oil.  Ingredients: Corn flour, water, evaporated cane juice, rice flour, rice bran, raisin juice concentrate, honey, salt, non-gmo canola oil, sunflower seeds, brazil nuts, banana, sesame seed, flax seed, natural vanilla flavor, natural coconut flavor, natural brown sugar flavor, sea salt.

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Wake up to Orange Poppy Seed Goodness

I’m convinced the key to living gluten-free isn’t as much changing your lifestyle, as much as it’s about adapting.  While I have some great gluten-free cookbooks and often use specialty diet products, I rely for the most part on mainstream recipes and “tweak” them to our dietary needs. The benefits of this approach are many.

For one, you’ll quickly see that a gluten-free diet isn’t about doing without. We eat sandwiches and pasta, bake cookies and consume pizza. I use the same family favorite recipes on a gluten-free diet.  If you are going to live GF for more than a few weeks, you need to adapt and evolve your baking and cooking so you don’t feel limited. You can still gobble your grandma’s coffee cake recipe. All you need to do is learn to  alter or substitute a few items.  You’ll enjoy life without wheat if you can evolve.

Another benefit is saving cash. It’s a lot cheaper to eat gluten-free if you can temper buying mixes and pre-made items. Yeah, we love Shabtai Bakery’s GF and dairy free devil’s food cake, creme filled Ring Tings, which are remarkably “Ding Dong-esque” and yummy. Shabtai’s creation might be better than the real Hostess item, I believe.  And I order boxes of the confection to fulfill our cravings here. And we do use prepared items for “on the fly” cooking here, which I regularly review. But if you know that you can make at least most of your gluten-free daily diet  delicious in your own kitchen,  you’ll be able to limit spending for the items that are truly worthwhile or  necessary.

Modeling the adaptive lifestyle rubs off on GF kids and helps them understand how to tweak recipes and make lifestyle choices that fit their diet. Someday they will grow up and have to make choices to fit in a wheat-based world. While GF is more mainstream, it’s a far cry from the “norm” in many parts of the country.  Your kids will have to adapt, watch pennies while on a GF diet and enjoy eating. 

Pull out those old tried and true recipes and start revising for your GF diet. You might have to tweak a bit and it might take a few attempts for real success, but you’ll quickly learn the ropes.

This week, I’ve been spotlighting  breakfast ideas and items. The recipe below is our family favorite that I’ve made for nearly 25 years frequently. Just a few changes made it as moist, flavorful and delicious as it’s always been. You wouldn’t know it’s gluten and dairy free. While it’s not a “low-calorie” option, it makes a great way to start the day. I use almond extract in lieu of vanilla often, by the way, as it’s more flavorful and blends nicely with gluten-free flours, but you can substitute vanilla if you’d like with good results. Make this the night before, as it’s best the next day. Keep all gluten-free items tightly wrapped to prevent drying.

Good morning!!!

Gluten-Free Poppy Seed Bread with Orange Glaze

Makes 2 loaves

3 cups GF  flour mixture ( see below)

2 1/4 cups sugar

1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1 1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon xanthen gum

3 eggs

1 1/2 cup milk (or substitute almond milk or soy milk)

1 1/2 cup oil

3 teaspoons poppy seed

1 teaspoon orange extract

1 tablespoon almond flavoring

***GLAZE***

1/4 cup orange juice

3/4 cup powdered sugar

1-2 teaspoons almond flavoring

Grated orange peel

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Beat granulated sugar, eggs, oil and milk/milk substitute in large bowl.

Combine GF flour mixture, salt, baking powder and xanthen gum. (I use a wisk to mix well)

Add dry ingredients to egg mixture. Beat well with mixer till combined, while scraping bowl. (GF flour is heavy and sinks to the bottom, so you’ll want to keep stirring well)

Stir in poppy seeds, orange  and almond extract.

Pour into 2 greased and floured loaf pans. Bake 1 hour or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

For Glaze:

Blend glaze ingredients in bowl.  Brush onto baked loaves while warm.

Using all of the glaze will keep the loaves moist and extra flavorful, and avoid the dried out effect you often get with gluten-free baked goods.

Flour Mixture:

1 part brown rice flour
1 part sorghum flour
1 part tapioca starch

Or you can try these options for flour mixtures.

Break-the-Fast With Van’s Waffles

As part of my spotlight on breakfast this week, I’m selecting family favorite products and tossing in a few recipes to beat the morning “blahs.” Stay tuned as we go through a week of GF options to recharge your diet and your appetite.

A great reason  to get up and face the world comes from Van’s Natural Foods. You’ll love Van’s gluten AND dairy-free frozen waffles in a variety of truly scrumpteous flavors- Apple Cinnamon, Blueberry, Totally Natural, Flax, and Buckwheat. BTW, don’t let the Buckwheat variety scare you off.  Buckwheat, in spite of the name, is a  fruit seed that is related to rhubarb and sorrel and is 100 percent gluten-free. (whew) Packed with hearty flavor, buckwheat also is nutrition-dense and full of flavonoids and magnesium, so it makes a perfect choice to start your day.

Our family favorite is  blueberry, but each of Van’s waffle varieties are consumed en masse here with much enjoyment.  You’ll also find in some stores, the Van’s “Minis” – which like most small items–are favored by kiddos and make a nice snack. All of Van’s GF Waffles are  made with whole grain brown rice flour and are  fruit juice sweetened. Van’s regular sized frozen waffles are readily available in most mainstream grocery store chains and in health food stores, but you might have to hunt a bit in some areas for the minis.

 

Quick Breakfast Ideas: Gluten-Free Frozen Burritos

It’s Monday and no doubt you’re scrambling around for a way to jump-start your week.  If you’d like a delicious “quick and easy” gluten-free morning, grab one of these items from our friends at Glutenfreeda Foods. The newest addition to their product line are  Glutenfreeda’s Burritos– which score a home run with my family for taste and ease. Not only are they the first gluten-free breakfast burrito on the market, they also have amazing flavor and actually possess the same texture as a “real” wheat flour burrito.  Glutenfreeda’s Burritos are honestly so good, you might enjoy waking up a little more– even if it’s Monday.

 According to  Glutenfreeda Foods, “Our burritos are made from all natural ingredients, contain no  trans fats, no hydrogenated oils and are a cinch to prepare.  Simply take the frozen burrito, tear off the top strip and microwave in the bag (eliminating any possibility of cross contamination) for about 1 minute per side – the cooking time will depend on the strength of the microwave, but this is a fair approximation.  Burritos come in 4 flavors – Breakfast Beef, Chicken & Cheese, Bean & Cheese and Vegetarian & Dairy Free.”

The “Vegetarian & Dairy Free” burrito is the only one of these that isn’t laden with cheese or dairy, so if you’re watching caseins opt for that variety. However, with ingredients like “vine-ripened fresh peeled tomatoes” and Serrano peppers, you won’t miss the meat or the dairy in this veggie burrito. Top with a little salsa and you’ll be on your way out the door, doing the macarena all the way to work.  Pick these up from your local health food store or order online from the Gluten-Free Mall. You can also pop a frozen burrito in your lunch and heat up at school or work, which provides a nice option for kiddos who need a change of lunchtime pace.

Note: Check with retail stores for discounts on case lots. While not pricey compared to many other GF foods, you’ll usually save a bit on bulk purchases.

Rise and Shine!!!!

 

 

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Easy & Healthy Snacking with Iron-Rich Brownie Balls from Snack-Girl

Finding healthy, delicious AND quick snacks that appeal to everyone in the family isn’t always an easy task. When you add “gluten and casein free” to the list of snack requirements, the choices can seem pretty scanty, especially if you are just getting started on the path of gluten-free living. Many gluten-free sweet snacks require baking or a bit of effort in the kitchen and time. At least for me– time is pretty minimal most days. While in my mind, I envision meeting my kids at the door with a plate of warm cookies (sans wheat and dairy, of course) and a completely clean, peaceful house – the reality is often a few frantic minutes scratching my head, peering into the  cluttered fridge, wondering how to concoct something edible in five minutes before the children come clamoring in. 

I turned to Lisa Cain, my new friend, who is a culinary scientist and nutrititional guru, for advice.

Some of you might know Lisa  from her amazing and inspirational website, “Snack-Girl.com,”  – the mecca of spots on the net for healthy, believable and easy-to-do snack foods. What sets Snack-Girl apart, is the combination of  Lisa’s professional background as a Ph.D. in evolutionary biology and her down-to-earth personality. Her yummy food stuff is the product of the science of nutrition, and  is overflowing with warm, upbeat details. Cain describes herself as “an avid snacker” and her zeal for nutritious snack-food stuff shines through with each blog post.

Lisa regards snacks as “mini-meals,” hence her recipes aren’t the typical, “chips and dip” or “Twinkie” fare most American’s regard as snacking.  Conceivably, you could consume a diet solely of Snack-Girl food and be healthier than average. Don’t forget after reading this post to sign up for the Snack-Girl newsletter and let the reinventing of “snacks-as-healthy-foodstuff” continue in your life daily.  While not a “gluten-free” website per se, Snack-Girl has an ample amount of items you can glean or make simple substitutions to incorporate into a GF and dairy-free diet.

The recipe below, takes (seriously) 10 minutes to throw together, doesn’t require baking and is low-calorie, as well as chock full of goodness for gluten-free folk. Many gluten-free individuals are low on iron due to malabsorption problems and a diet without enriched grains. Dates — the  key ingredient in Snack-Girls’s  “Brownie Balls”– are chock full of iron, topping even the iron content of a 3.5 ounce serving of beef. (A cup of dates has 5.3 mg of iron, compared to 2.6 mg in the average cut of beef)  Brownie balls add a healthy dose of iron, and by taking most of their sweetness from dates, only contain a scant amount of added sweetening.

My kids went through 2 batches the first day we made these. With a mere 5 healthy ingredients, you can easily feel like “Mother of the Year” every day. (PS, also a VEGAN recipe with an easy substitution)

Brownie Balls? What’s not to love with a name like that? Here’s what Lisa Cain– AKA Snack-Girl– has to say:

Is it possible to create a gluten-free healthy brownie? A regular brownie contains oodles of butter, sugar, eggs, and chocolate. They are a confection of MEGA calorific proportions and should be eaten as a treat. But, if you have a food processor, you can whip something up in minutes that tastes delicious. The key is to use healthy replacements for the butter, eggs, flour, and sugar. In this recipe, which I created in my test kitchen (ahem, my kitchen), I used dates and almonds. You can find dates next to the raisins in most grocery stores (I bet you haven’t even noticed them).

Roasted almonds are just one choice for this recipe. You could use raw nuts or any kind of nut that you like. I used roasted because roasting makes the almond taste stronger. I rolled these balls in confectioner’s sugar and cocoa. My tasters (friends) thought that the cocoa ones were too bitter. I actually liked them better, so give them both a try. You can add more honey if you find these lacking in sweetness. These would be a great party snack too! You can make them ahead and just artfully arrange them on a plate. Or do what I did, and just put them on a plate 🙂 Kids will also love  making these as they get to use their hands in making them. They come out of the food processor the same consistency as play dough. To make these brownie balls vegan – use maple syrup or agave syrup.

Gluten Free Brownie Balls

(15 balls)
15 pitted dates
2/3 cup cocoa powder (plus extra for dusting)
1 cup roasted almonds (no salt added)
1 tablespoon honey
2 tablespoons water
confectioner’s sugar (optional)

Add almonds to food processor and pulse until ground. Add dates, cocoa powder, honey, and water. Mix until it just forms a sticky mass. Wash hands and attempt to make a ball with the dough (it may need more water to get to the perfect consistency). Put a tablespoon of cocoa or confectioner’s sugar on a plate. Roll balls in your hand and then roll in sugar or cocoa (or both). Eat! These can be store in the fridge for a week.

Cupcake Wars Winner: Interview with Lisa Cowden: The Future of Gluten-Free Living

Lisa Cowden: Food Network Cupcake Wars Winner: Survival of the Fittest: Air Date July 09, 2010

She’s affable, humble and unabashedly open. At 28, Lisa Cowden has already discovered that fame is sweet icing on the cake “cupcake” of preparation and hard work. As winner of the Food Network’s acclaimed “Cupcake Wars,” this Scottsdale, Arizona woman wowed tough judges, beat out her competitors (one of whom was a previous Food Network contestant) and kept her cool, while wading deftly in high heels through puddles of buttercream frosting- crafting for the final episode a stunning display and 1,000 scrumptious cupcakes.  

 She’s a girl after my own heart and clearly a woman of many skills. Her baking masterpiece- a delectable Rich Chocolate Carmel Cupcake- made of all-natural ingredients, that sings of decadence- even and most especially for gluten-free folks.  

Yeah, that’s right.  

Lisa, an accomplished pastry chef and baker for the renowned and allergen friendly haven – Gluten-Free Creations Bakery in Scottsdale – understands food intolerance on a personal basis. And while her cupcakes won with all natural ingredients but traditional flour- they readily translate into equally natural, yummy gluten-free confections- as do most of Lisa Cowden’s culinary treats- providing proof that gluten-free can be both delicious and upscale.   

Wheat and dairy intolerant, Cowden’s been in the trenches pioneering tasty wheat and dairy-free foods from her preteen years. It’s no surprise that she found her niche at Gluten-Free Creations – with their prolific and tasty offerings of over 150 gluten-free treats. When Lisa won, she’d been working at LuLu’s Cupcakes in Scottsdale- an all natural bakery- which was sold to LynnRae Ries and reopened as the second of Ries successful Phoenix area GF bakeries recently.  

Forgetting the time difference, I caught up with Lisa in the midst of her frantic baking schedule. Cowden, with her characteristic good humor took the call in spite of my poor planning. Says Cowden of her Cupcake Wars experience, “We geared up our brains to come up with the most creative things we could.” An easy laugh follows, “And then the pressure hit and…it’s all kind of a blur.” On auto-pilot through the tense competition, Lisa- a 2008 graduate of Scottsdale Culinary Institute Le Cordon Bleu– drew on her training and passion for natural foods, as well as a profound love for the fine art of cupcake crafting to edge out competitors.  

Lisa, shares a common vision with LynnRae Ries, the owner of Gluten-Free Café and Gluten-Free Creations Bakery, to make gluten-free and allergen friendly foods that taste as good as or better than traditional fare. “It’s a really good fit for me,” notes Cowden about working at GFC.  

Ries, who has celiac disease and is a noted author, chef, national leader for gluten-free awareness and specialty diet educator, is collaborating with Cowden on an upcoming cookbook. (Given the delectable creations that pour forth from GFC, we in the gluten-free community should wait upon this project with fork in hand.) (I’ll keep you posted)  

In addition to coming away from our conversation uplifted and encouraged, I also gleaned her prize winning recipe in the gluten-free version and gained expert pastry chef tips on converting various items into dairy and gluten-free variations, which are linked in these two posts- here and here.  

(You can view her original recipe here on the food network, if you’d like.)  

Lisa's Rich Chocolate Carmel Cupcake

When I lamented the typical plight of bland, boring or just “wrong” gluten-free treats, most of which taste far too “healthy” to be considered a delicacy, Cowden said of bakery confections,“You want a treat to taste like a treat- not like health food.” But Cowden, who uses all natural ingredients to foster her culinary delights, magically makes healthy food taste like treats- a commodity sorely lacking in most GF diets.  

She stated in a recent interview with Fox News, “People call up and say, thank God I found you, you make my life so much better… most bakeries can’t say that about what they do. Absolutely no one can tell that they are gluten free or maybe even dairy free or casein free or vegan. We service all the top 8 food allergens so everyone still loves them.” The national attention that resulted from winning the Food Network’s Cupcake Wars has brought greater media focus to food intolerance and celiac disease- as well as her mission with Ries at Gluten Free Creations. “You can’t make everything yourself, ” Cowden said, my utter agreement, “It’s nice for people to have options.”  

To me, Cowden represents the future of gluten-free living. She’s joyous, inventive and creative and able to impart flavor in living healthy while coping with-and even overcoming food intolerances. And I’m thrilled my daughter has a stake in a GF future led by women like Lisa Cowden.  

Congratulations, Lisa!  

Recipes from Cupcake War Winner Lisa Cowden and Tips on GF Baking

Lisa Cowden: Pastry Chef and Winner Cupcake Wars

Who says we can’t have gourmet fare on a gluten-free diet? Certainly not the Food Network Cupcake Wars winner, Lisa Cowden. In a recent interview, Lisa discussed her own food intolerance and shared a bit of her extensive pastry chef expertise with me. Cowden who crafts yummy treats daily at Gluten-Free Creations in Scottsdale, Arizona- where all 8 top allergens are catered to- understands both personally and professionally the need for GF food that isn’t “second best.”  While her Food Network recipe won with traditional flour, it’s easily created into gluten-free (and casein free as well) -without losing flavor.  Added perks that Cowden attributes to winning, are the natural ingredients that make these cupcakes prize worthy in your kitchen as well.    

Here’s what Lisa says, “You’ll want to substitute a gluten-free mix for the flour. A good mix should be able to substitute cup for cup for the traditional wheat flour.” Her suggestions for GF mixes include using ones that contain sorghum flour- a component used in the Gluten-Free  Creations Bakery for such items as cakes, cookies and other sweet fare. Gluten-Free Creations also has a mix you can buy that’s well worth considering, as it contains not only the exact proportions for baking, but also added vitamins that we – in the gluten-free community- often lack.    

 Below you’ll find further “tweaking” for making the Chocolate Carmel Cupcakes casein-free as well,  based on Lisa’s expert advice. Since about a third of those who have celiac disease have issues with casein or lactose (including my daughter) making items such as ganache – which is heavy on cream- requires further adaptations. Lisa offered two suggestions for casein-free, gluten-free ganache. You’ll find the second ganache option in this earlier post.    

 I was thrilled to find these cupcakes, while somewhat labor intensive for mere kitchen slobs such as me, turned out to be some of the most tasty and delicious items I’d made in the history of my home culinary events- or as Lisa said, “drool-worthy.” And you’d never know they are gluten-free. (seriously). In a spirit of adventure and kitchen mass destruction- we made both this recipe and the original winning recipe on the same day. I wasn’t disappointed in either variety. This one below, given to me by Lisa Cowden, was by far the easiest and was truly stand alone delicious. The original winning recipe  “Rich Chocolate Carmel Cupcake” as it appeared on Food Network, I tweaked for gluten/casein free diets again using Lisa’s tips. It was a bit more work, but the creme filling was well worth the added steps- you can find it here in this post.    

Chocolate Carmel Cupcakes from Lisa Cowden  

Gluten Free Baking Flour Mix (See link below for recipes)     1 ¾ cups  

Zanthan or Guar gum (if not included in your gluten-free flour mix) 1/2 tsp  

Sugar 1 ¾ cups  

Cocoa powder ¾ cups  

Baking powder 1 ½ tsp.  

Baking soda 1 ½ tsp.  

Salt ¼ tsp.  

Buttermilk 1 ¼ cups (If casein intolerant, substitute lactose free milk ,soy milk, or almond milk mixed with 1 tsp cider vinegar- but be sure to add the vinegar for chemical reaction with baking soda)  

Whole eggs 2  

Vegetable oil 4 Tbsp.  

GF Vanilla 1 tsp.  

Hot water 1 cup  

Preheat the oven to 350F. Combine the dry ingredients and add the wet ingredients. Mix. Add the hot water while mixing well, until smooth. Fill cupcake liners ¾ full. Bake at 350F 15-20 minutes or until cupcakes bounce back in the center when touched.  

Caramel Filling  

Sugar 1 ½ cups  

Water ¼ cup  

Agave nectar 1 Tbsp.  

Heavy Cream 1 ¼ cup (Substitute heavy coconut milk for cream if casein intolerant. Cream is easier to scoop out if can is chilled in fridge first. Use only the cream part. Discard liquid)  

Butter, softened chunks 2 ounces (1/2 stick) (See this post on butter and casein. Since butter is usually 99 % casein free many people can tolerate butter. But you can substitute soy margarine such as Willow Run)  

GF Vanilla ½ tsp.  

Boil the sugar, water, and agave until it takes on a caramel color and smell. Add the cream slowly, whisking in to avoid boiling over. Whisk to loosen any hardened caramel and melt it all smooth. Remove from heat. Stir in the butter and vanilla. Pour into a squeeze bottle and chill to thicken.  

Ganache Frosting  

Heavy cream 16 ounces (Substitute heavy coconut milk as above, discard liquid and use only the cream portion)  

Dark chocolate chips      16 ounces  

Heat the cream in a pot until it steams. Pour in the chocolate chips and let sit to melt. Stir occasionally until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth. Let sit 2-3 hours to set up slightly, or chill in the fridge to firm up, stirring frequently.  

*****  See this post for gluten-free flour mixes to whip up at home.

*****  See this post about additional ganache options for casein-free diets.

***** See this post for original Cupcake Wars winning recipe in the gluten and casein free version.

  

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