Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year!!

Merry Christmas!!!

Today I spent the afternoon hanging out with my cousin Lauren, her hubby Matt and her little man Sean and helped her to prepare for tonight's New Years Eve celebration. I have been celebrating New Years with Lauren for as long as I can remember! We've had some wild times, but as we get older, the parties get tamer and tamer. Most everyone is married now and starting families. How did we get here??

As usual, I've prepared a couple of things to bring to the party that I will be able to enjoy. There is at least one other gluten & dairy free person coming so it's nice to know I won't be the only one! I already stocked Lauren's fridge with my Redbridge. I've made a gluten and dairy free taco dip and King Arthur brownies. I'll be sure to post about those sometime next week. I'll be curious to see what everyone thinks about the dip, it was an experiment for me and I'm not sure what I think of it myself.

I'm also packing on the pounds this weekend before we start our Biggest Loser challenge at work on Monday! I'm really not doing myself any favors, just making myself feel like crap with all the sugar. I never buy Kinnikinnick donuts or Udi's muffins but I just felt compelled to do so this weekend since the challenge is starting.

Tonight will be a fun night and tomorrow starts a new year, a new decade and for me, it's kind of the start of a new chapter in my life. I'm really excited for it!!

Have a save, happy and gluten free New Year my friends!!!!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Dairy Free Hot Cocoa

Dairy Free Hot Chocolate

Hot cocoa is one of those things that I've always loved but it has certainly never loved me back. The last time I had some, it was Swiss Miss with a little Bailey's and Dr. McGillicuddy's. Tasted amazing. Felt horrible. Recently I saw a recipe for dairy free hot cocoa somewhere and it's been stuck in my head since. Tonight I was chilly and craving something sweet and I have a box of coconut milk in the fridge that needs to be used up. I searched around the internet for recipes and most of them were basically the same so I just randomly picked one and followed it with my own modifications. I didn't let it heat up enough because I was afraid of scorching it, I'll do it better next time, but the taste was rich and delicious!

Dairy (and Gluten) Free Hot Cocoa
Single Serving

1 Tbs Unsweetened Cocoa
3 Tbs Sugar
1 to 2 Tbs Boiling Water
3/4 to 1 C Milk of your choice, I used So Delicious Unsweetened Coconut
The tiniest pinch of salt*
A little smidge of vanilla extract*
*Less than an 1/8 teaspoon

I heated the water in a hot shot first, then in a small saucepan combined the hot water, cocoa, sugar and salt.
Stir this mixture together until it's nice and hot but be careful not to let it burn.
Add the milk and stir until very hot, but not boiling.
Remove from heat and mix in the vanilla.
Enjoy!


Next week begins our Biggest Loser at work challenge, so obviously I'm overloading on junk this week. I will probably try to make biscuits before the weekend is over. Maybe a creamy chicken recipe? YES. Definitely. Stay tuned!!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Gluten Free Steamed Chicken or Pork Dumplings

One of my favorite takeout dishes used to be steamed Chinese pork dumplings. I have seen this recipe re-created on a few gluten free blogs and I have been dying to make them myself. I knew it would be time consuming and challenging so I kept putting it off. Due to the blizzard I had a "snow day" from work. I work in the medical field and we really can't just shut down for a day but the company allows us to work from home in severe weather conditions. Since I've only been there less than a year, I don't have full access to my customers from my home computer so I didn't really have to do much work today. I was stuck inside all day yesterday due to the storm so today I was really itching to do something fun. What a perfect day to tackle the dumpling recipe! I didn't have all the ingredients on hand so I ventured out to the store this morning. They didn't have any ground pork so I grabbed ground chicken instead. When I got home I set to work. First I put together the filling:

Prep

This was the easy part. I bought myself a microplane when I was Christmas shopping so grating the ginger and garlic was so easy. Thanks Rachel Ray for that tip! Next up, time to prepare the wrappers. I am not good with dough, I do not have a lot of experience with making homemade dough and I am too impatient to take my time and do it right. This time I tried to be better about all of that. I mixed up the dough and then rolled out 8 wrappers as best I could.

Roll out the wrappers

Then I filled and sealed the dumplings and put them in the pot of already boiling water with a steamer basket. This was also a Christmas gift to myself in a round about way. I bought it as part of my Yankee Swap gift and I ended up taking my own gift home. I may or may not have planned it that way, or at least hoped it would go that way!

In the steamer

I let them steam for 20 minutes, checking a couple of times to make sure the water didn't completely evaporate. While they were cooking I put together the dipping sauce. And then, it was time...

Finished

Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhh boy. These were SO good. They didn't need all 20 minutes in the steamer but other than that, they were delicious. The dipping sauce was perfect too. Just like the Chinese restaurant! Ok, well maybe not exactly the same, but close enough for me. Here's the recipe!

Gluten Free Chicken Dumplings
Makes approx 16 dumplings

Filling:
1 lb ground chicken or pork
1/2 Tbs minced ginger
3 cloves garlic minced
2 Tbs thinly chopped green onion
3 Tbs soy sauce
2 Tbs sesame oil
1 egg beaten

Place all ingredients in a bowl and mix until combined. Set aside

Wrappers:
1 Cup GF Flour Mix (Better Batter)
1 Egg
4 Tbs water

Combine the above ingredients, adding more water if needed until dough comes together. Use plenty of extra flour on your work surface and your rolling pin! I split the dough into four sections, and then each of those sections broke down by four more sections. Roll out each section to the size and shape of your liking. Layer the wrappers between damp paper towels to keep moist until you are ready to fill.

Once the wrappers are ready to go, spoon a little more than a tablespoon of the filling onto the center of the wrapper. Put a little bit of water on the edge of one half of the wrapper to act as a glue to seal the wrapper shut when you fold it over. Press the edges together to seal, you can do this by hand or use a fork to gently press the edges together.

Place the finished dumplings into your steaming apparatus such as a bamboo steamer or a basket steamer as shown above, which already has the water boiling in the bottom. Cover the pan and let steam for 15-20 minutes. While the dumplings are steaming, put together your sauce.

Dipping Sauce:
1/4 Cup Soy Sauce
1 Tbs Sesame Oil
Chopped Green Onion and Grated Ginger to taste as you like

When the time is up, check to be sure the dumplings are cooked through. Then, dive in head first and enjoy!! I ended up only making half the recipe to start, plus that was all that would fit in the steamer. My plan is to prepare the rest of the dumplings and freeze them for another day.

Snow Day!!


I am sitting in my living room with no cable, but luckily I have internet. Which is funny because today I'd rather have cable and no internet! Having access to the internet means I have to monitor my work emails. That's ok, I'm still in my sweatpants. I did get up and shower first thing. I really should've gone to the grocery store before this storm hit because now I have hardly anything in the house to eat. Aside from a tub full of chocolate chip cookies that I baked last night. Unfortunately chocolate, sugar and I aren't getting along right now and those cookies aren't doing me any favors. The worst part about all of this? Apparently I donated my winter boots over the summer when I decided that I wanted new ones. Too bad I forgot all about that until the blizzard hit and now I'm bootless. At some point today I have to go out there and dig my car out and hopefully hit the grocery store, but for now I'm just going to sit tight! Have a great day everyone!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

It's Resolution Time Baby!

365-3

I'm hunkered down in my apartment today waiting for a big New England storm to dump inches upon inches of snow upon us. We already have about an inch but the brunt of it is supposed to hit later today into tonight. Snow day from work tomorrow? Doubtful, but a girl can hope.

The day after Christmas is always the time when I start to take a good look at the past year and reflect on how it went, and how I want the next year to go. I really don't like to call them New Year's Resolutions because honestly, who really sticks to those?

This blog has never really been a place where I've shared my personal story beyond the Crohn's disease. There is so much more to me than a damaged small intestine. This year I turned 30 and it has really been a major turning point in my life. I started a new job after six years working in the family business. I maintained my health without medication. I made new friends. I worked on my dating life... I could write a completely separate blog about that! I watched in amazement as my niece grew and changed through her first year of life. I shared my story for a documentary. I played in a bowling league. I danced. I laughed. I loved. I learned a lot about what's important.

My twenties were difficult and I faced a lot of challenges. I could have let those experiences break me, but instead I looked at everything I went through as a chance to make myself better. The most important thing I learned is that if there's something about your life that you don't like, change it. You have a lot more power and control than you may think. Life is too short to waste it being unhappy.

I know that 2011 is going to be the best yet and I'm really excited about it. I plan to write more, to cook and eat more, to exercise more, to volunteer, to advocate, to make more of an effort to keep stronger bonds with my friends as we grow older and in different directions. I will work hard, play harder, take more photos of people, not just food. I will accept the things I cannot change, change the things I can, and be wise enough to know the difference.

Grayscale Fate 2

Friday, December 24, 2010

Review: Rudi's Multigrain Gluten-Free Bread

Rudis

The true test of bread for me is how it tastes toasted with butter served with some runny eggs over-easy. Since going GF I have longed for the taste of wheat bread. I am talking about the basic wheat bread from the supermarket. The smell, taste and texture of wheat bread is something I have had a very hard time finding in a gluten free version. I came close with Schar Multigrain Bread but it was still small and the texture was not exactly right. Udi's was definitely a good option as well, but still, just not quite what I was looking for.

I've seen Rudi's bread in my local health food store for quite some time now, but have been loyal to Udi's and recently have been eating a lot of All Can Eat multigrain bread. (That post is coming soon!) Recently I was contacted by Rudi's and they offered to send me a complimentary loaf of bread for my review. I of course jumped at the chance. I've heard mixed reviews in the blogosphere, many people saying they stick to Udi's, which is why I had not tried this bread. I wish I hadn't waited so long.

Rudi's Multigrain Bread is it. The wheat bread of my dreams. Slices the size, texture and taste of the wheat bread I remember. I'm in love, I'm in love and I don't care who knows it!!! Not only is this bread delicious, but it's made with organic ingredients, and of course it's dairy free as well. Now I'm dying to get to the store and pick up the white bread version. I have visions of french toast dancing in my head.

I'm off to finish up my wrapping and pack up the car, heading down to Mom and Dad's for Christmas. I almost enjoy Christmas Eve more than Christmas Day. This year is extra special since my niece just turned ONE. She may not understand Christmas or Santa yet, but she certainly understands toys and I can't wait to watch her open all her presents tomorrow!

Merry Christmas Everyone!!!!!


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Maggie Rocking Chair

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Gluten and Dairy Free Buffalo Chicken and "Bleu Cheese" Dipping Sauce

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You already know the story, Thursdays at work is buffalo chicken day. I know, I keep talking about it. I didn't even used to like buffalo chicken, but then one day, many years ago, a restaurant accidentally served me a buffalo chicken sandwich. Instead of refusing it and waiting for the right sandwich, I just ate it. (Pre GF Days) I fell in love. Then there was the buffalo chicken dip at another restaurant. It was all down hill from there. I was so excited to discover that Frank's Buffalo Sauce is GF/DF!

I have to admit, I've been cheating on the chicken tenders, buying Bell & Evans and cooking them in the oven then dipping them in the buffalo sauce. It works, but it's much better if you make the tenders yourself. The photo above is hand-breaded tenders. It's so easy! Heat a little oil in a pan. Set up your assembly line, I use buttermilk in this case = 1 C of rice milk + 1 Tbs of vinegar. Let the buttermilk sit for 5 minutes, then let the chicken sit in the buttermilk for 5 minutes. Roll the chicken in GF Bread Crumbs (I use Gillian's) and fry in the oil. A few minutes on each side. Let the fried chicken rest on paper towels to get rid of some of the excess oil before dipping into the buffalo cause. YUM!

Buffalo chicken is HOT and what better to cut the heat then bleu cheese dressing? Well, I can't just go out and buy a bottle, and bleu cheese is out of the question for me anyway, so I had to come up with a compromise. I searched bleu cheese dressing recipes and made up my own fake version. I haven't perfected it yet, but it works pretty well. In a bowl I combine some mayo and some dairy free sour cream. Add a small splash of cider vinegar or regular vinegar and a squeeze of lemon juice. Sprinkle in some garlic and onion powder, salt and pepper. Mix it all up. Adjust to taste. Viola! It's definitely NOT bleu cheese, but it sure does the trick. I prefer my buffalo chicken served on a wrap (Food for Life) with lettuce and tomato and dipping sauce on the side. I just might have this for dinner again tonight! The sandwich in the photo above was made with a schar sub roll, but it was too much bread. A wrap works much better.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

A Survival Guide: Starting the Gluten Free Diet

You just found out that you have to give up Gluten. Your first reaction is to weep for all the pizza and beer you can't have anymore. It's ok, let it out. It's important to grieve, then you can start to heal. Literally. Everyone has a different opinion on the best way to handle going gluten free. Some say it's best to cut your diet down to very basic foods, fresh fruits and veggies and lean meats, potatoes, rice. Keep it simple. But let's be realistic here, you are dying inside because you feel like you're never going to be able to walk into Dunkin Donuts and grab a bacon egg and cheese bagel sandwich anymore. For me, the easiest way to transition to the Gluten Free Diet was to find alternatives to my favorite foods so I didn't feel deprived. When I started out, over 3 years ago, the quality of products was not even close to what's out there now. I'll never forget my first gluten free bread. It looked like normal bread, I put it in the toaster and it came out the same as it went in. White and cardboard like. No toaster marks, no crumbs, and the taste? Simply awful.

I tried all kinds of breads and bagels and wraps trying to find bread that would take the place of the real stuff and it was very frustrating. Now that gluten intolerance has become such a major issue, there are a ton of new products out there and many of them are really great. But I'll be honest with you, be prepared, it's not going to be exactly the same as what you ate before. The good news is you will feel SO much better.

Start simple. Go get yourself a loaf of Udi's bread. They have white or multi-grain and both are great. Most GF breads must be kept frozen and then toasted. Udi's products can be left on the counter and eaten without toasting first. It's a little more dry than traditional bread, but it's by far the best GF bread on the market. Other great GF breads are Canyon Bakehouse and Rudi's

Roast Beef Sandwich

If you're a bagel fan, pick up some Udi's bagels as well. These are big and fluffy and delicious. I use these for burger buns as well!



If you love to bake and are finding tons of GF recipes with crazy lists of random flours, sorghum, white rice, brown rice, teff, amaranth, almond... so overwhelming! Order yourself a box of Better Batter. It's the best 1:1 gluten free flour mix. Use it as a substitute for all purpose flour in any recipe. It might not work perfectly every time, but for the most part, it does!

If you prefer boxed mixes, Betty Crocker and King Arthur have full lines of gluten free mixes that are awesome. I've not tried all the King Arthur mixes but I hear they are great. I find these right in my regular grocery store baking isle.

Betty Crocker Chocolate Chip Cookies:
BC Cookies 004

Don't forget that there are lots of items other than obvious flour/bread products that are not gluten free. Be sure to check labels of everything, salad dressings, soy sauce, marinades, seasonings, sauces. Gluten hides in many places! I know it's overwhelming, but it will get easier. I promise. Just stick with it!

I was going to add a list here of all of my favorite products, but then I looked at my Product Reviews page and discovered that most of these products are great. Take a look at that list for some great product recommendations! It will take a while to find products that you love and become a regular part of your diet, there will be good days and there will be bad, bad days. Don't worry, it will get better and you will feel great. Eventually it will become second nature. Good luck in your gluten free journey!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

What's the best way to determine if you have Celiac?

This video by Dr. Vikki Petersen is very helpful in clearing up the confusion about the accuracy of Celiac testing. The truth is, many people do have Celiac or Gluten Intolerance and are being told they don't. I have had the blood tests and the genetic tests. I have never had a biopsy. The genetic test currently only tests for two genes when they are discovering that there are many more. My bloodwork showed elevated levels but was not within the range of Celiac diagnosis. The only way for me to confirm that I am intolerant to gluten in some form, be it Celiac or Gluten Intolerance, was to remove it from my diet. I am glad they are making advances, but I wish it would happen more quickly. Too many people are suffering!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Dropping the ball!

Well here I am with all these new readers and I keep forgetting to upload my photos so that I can write new posts!! The other night I ate the rest of the meatballs in a meatball sub, thanks once again to Schar sub rolls. Last night I made homemade buffalo chicken tenders and dairy free dipping sauce. It was awesome. Every Thursday is buffalo chicken tenders day at work and all of my lunch companions yesterday took advantage. I ate my same old salad and was jealous so I decided to make it for dinner. I'm so glad I did! Did you know that Frank's Red Hot Buffalo Sauce is gluten and dairy free?? Last time I made buffalo sauce from scratch but when shopping for hot sauce last night I saw the Frank's sauce and googled it on my phone to be sure before purchasing. This made my night so much easier!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Back to the important stuff: FOOD!

Spaghetti and Meatballs

First of all, I wanted to say Welcome to all you new readers!! Thanks so much for your feedback from yesterday's post, I am so glad to be making a difference! And it's nice to know I'm not the only one out there with these issues. Now, back to the FOOD!

I'm working my way through my shipment of products from Rocky Mountain Organic Meats. One of the items was a pound of ground beef. This is what I was looking forward to the most! I couldn't decide what to make with this beef but I knew that I wanted to do something that would showcase the meat by itself, so of course, I had to make a burger. My second favorite beef dish is meatballs, as you can see above. I cooked the burger and the meatballs at the same time and then ate the burger for dinner and saved the meatballs for later in the week. The burger was absolutely delicious. The beef tasted so good. What a huge difference from standard grocery store beef! There was so much flavor. All it had on it was lettuce, tomato and mayo and served on a Schar sub roll. Perfect. I took a photo but I don't love it so I'm not posting it, but you can see it here.

Last night I cooked up some Tinkyada spaghetti and some Prego Traditional Sauce and heated up the meatballs which I made using Carol Fenster's recipe. I have not had spaghetti and meatballs in such a long time and it was soooooo good. I tend to avoid spaghetti and choose ziti or rotini or cavatappi but when it comes to meatballs, you have to go with spaghetti. I wish I had a Schar baguette to make some garlic bread! This dinner was as good as it looks in that photo up there. I can't wait to have this again tonight. I think I will stop at the store on the way home for that baguette!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Why the Gluten Free Diet is not working.

Vaca 08 296

I tried the Gluten Free diet and it didn't work. I felt good for a while but then I started to feel bad again. It's too hard to stick to it. I hate feeling like an outcast not being able to eat what everyone else is eating. It's too expensive. My Doctor said I don't have Celiac so why bother?

People will give excuse after excuse after excuse as to why the GF diet is NOT right for them, and the reality is, they are all just that - EXCUSES. I've used them all myself, or at least thought them to myself at one time or another. I started my gluten free journey back in 2007. I admit that it's been a rocky one. I've been on and off the diet many times, noting all of the "reasons" above. I can't believe it's been almost four years since I discovered Celiac disease in my search for answers as to why I've been sick for most of my life. I should be in tip top shape and feeling the best I've ever felt, right? Well, this has been the best year so far, so that's a plus. I'm getting there, slowly but surely.

Friends and family know that I haven't been 100% faithful to the diet over the years. I didn't talk too much about that on this blog because I didn't want to disappoint. Usually that meant I wasn't blogging much during those times because I didn't have anything to write about. I am happy to say that I have really stepped it up. I had to. I was getting sick again. I have officially been off medication for a year now. Wait, let me say that again. I HAVE OFFICIALLY BEEN OFF MEDICATION FOR A YEAR. Yaaaahoooooooooo!!

Early this year I was feeling so good and confident and then I started my new job. Which has a full service cafeteria. And new co-workers that didn't know anything about my issues. I slid down the slippery slope of a small cheat here and a tiny slip there... and then it happened. The rash. I have not had a rash since 2008. This was a major wake up call. My stomach was better than ever but still not perfect. I started to feel the brain fog, the headaches, the MAJOR fatigue. I was so tired that I could barely function and I'd immediately crawl into my PJs after work. The funny part is, I didn't realize how bad it had gotten because it was such a slow progression. Finally I woke up one day and realized that if I didn't stop it right then, I'd wake up someday in a recovery room after having a section of my intestines removed. Or worse.

What prompted this post, the title of this post, and the opening paragraph, is that even when I'm completely ON the diet, I've realized that I'm actually still not 100% clean. So when I get the rash or the headache or the brain fuzz and can't figure out why, I have to really look carefully at what I've been eating. An example of this - the other day I grabbed a fry off of someone else's plate at lunch. I have been eating the fries knowing that they are fried in a shared fryer. This is something I have always done and used the "Well I don't actually have Celiac" excuse. I'm not super sensitive to it so I can eat things that are fried in a shared fryer, right? Right? I never ever gave this a second thought until that one fry that I grabbed the other day. Shortly after eating the fry, another co-worker commented that the fries tasted like egg rolls. That particular day was Chinese Food day in the cafe and they had fried the egg rolls in the same fryers that the fries are cooked in. It was like someone poured a bucket of cold water over my head. HELLO! Wake up call from your intestines!

This little incident made me completely re-think my gluten free strategy. Sure when I'm gluten free I feel soooo much better but I think that I could feel even BETTER if I stopped ignoring those "little things" like crumbs in the toaster and shared fryers and foods that are manufactured on shared equipment. It also made me think twice about all of those people out there that cheat like me and then claim that the diet doesn't work.

You must stick to the diet 100% in order for it to truly work. Even if you don't have outward symptoms, the damage is being done and eventually you WILL feel it. If you are sticking to the diet 100% and feel that it is still not working, perhaps there's another intolerance at work. Many foods are not our friends! You just have to keep at it. Proper diet heals. I promise. I am living, breathing, un-constipated proof. :)

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Beef. It's what's for dinner!

Pastrami


Recently I received a package from Rocky Mountain Organic Meats that are 100% gluten free to sample. I was overwhelmed with all the options. Jerky, ground beef, sausage, hot dogs and pastrami. Ooooh Pastrami!! I haven't had this since pre-gf days because the only way to eat pastrami is on a soft yummy roll. Well since I discovered Schar sub rolls I knew exactly what to do. This pastrami is thicker than I'm used to, I'm used to the shredded, fatty kind that you find at the deli in the grocery store. This is thick and the edges have a nice crust of seasoning. I wasn't even sure how to cook this so I went with what I know and put it in a pot of water for a few. I kept it simple with the roll and yellow mustard, some BBQ Kettle Chips on the side. This was so delicious!! I also sampled a little of the jerky which was great too. I will definitely have more Rocky Mountain Organic Meats reviews coming up. Right now the ground beef is defrosting, but I can't decide if I want to do a burger or meatballs. I might do both. I really want to showcase the meat so a burger would be a great way to do this. But I've also been craving a meatball sub... we shall see!!

Edited to add: I have been told that the pastrami is pre-cooked and can be eaten straight from the package. I thought it was good heated up too :)

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Gluten Free Dairy Free FUDGE

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Sorry for the horrible iPhone photo...

Sticking with the theme this week of recipes from my childhood, here's another one. This is "Gram's Fudge" and has graced our holiday table for a very very long time. My Gram (aka Grammie), who passed away in 2003, is one of the most important people in my life. I miss her everyday even though I know she watches over me. My mom took over the tradition of making the fudge when I was younger and if she doesn't make it, people get upset! It's a family legacy. This recipe is naturally gluten free but contains butter and milk. I have never made this recipe even before going GF/DF but lately I've been so inspired to re-create the oldies that I just had to try this one.

This recipe is made using a double boiler and I don't have one. I wanted to make this fudge to bring to my secret santa party at work and of course waited until last night, thinking I could just stick a glass bowl over a pot of boiling water as a makeshift double boiler. Well I got home from work, ingredients in hand, and grabbed the glass bowl that in my mind would work in this scenario only to find out that, well, it wouldn't work. No way, no how. So off to Wal-Mart I went, with a $5 gift card to boot. But... apparently people don't use double boilers anymore? I couldn't find one anywhere. I wandered around the kitchen section forever, I couldn't even find a sufficient bowl!! FINALLY I found a nice big metal bowl that would work perfectly. And a few other things I didn't need, I swear the kitchen section is my kryptonite. Moved swiftly through the checkout line, got in the car and headed for home. With the $5 gift card still in my wallet. Darn.

Oh well. Moving on! I whipped up the fudge and let it chill overnight. Of course I tried a piece this morning for breakfast, had to make sure it was worthy of my coworkers! This turned out a little bit softer than my Mom's/Gram's but the taste was awesome. DELICIOUS!! My co-workers loved it! I hope my mom doesn't kill me for posting Gram's "secret" recipe, but Gram found most of her recipes on the back of packages so I'm sure this isn't as secret as we'd like to believe. I just can never EVER post the whoopie pie recipe. That would be the end of me for sure...

So here it is:

Gram's Fudge
the gluten and dairy free version

1lb Confectionary Sugar
1/2 C Unsweetened Cocoa
1/4 tsp Salt
6 Tbsp Butter (Earth Balance)
4 Tbsp Whole Milk (So Delicious Coconut Milk)
1 Tbsp Vanilla

This recipe is SO EASY. Put enough water in the pan to boil but not touch the bottom of the bowl that you nest on top. Or use a real double boiler if you have one. Put the butter in the bowl first and let it melt. Then dump the rest of the ingredients in the bowl and stir until there are no lumps left. Pour into an 8x8 greased dish or foil pan. Let chill in the fridge overnight. Plan to share with friends so you don't eat the whole pan of fudge by yourself!

**When I was little, I got a tape recorder for Christmas and my Gram recorded a little message for me. It said she hoped I got everything that I wanted for Christmas and I forget what else, and that she loves me. I have no idea where that tape has gone, but I will never ever forget it or her voice. My niece is named after her. Marjorie. ♥

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Review: Canyon Bakehouse

I have a confession to make... I've been eating gluten filled bread
Canyon Bakehouse GF Bread 2

.......

Ha Ha. FOOLED YOU!!

Canyon Bakehouse GF Bread

It's Canyon Bakehouse! But it looks like regular bread, doesn't it?? It feels like real bread too. The texture of this bread is more "normal" than any other gluten free bread that I've ever tried. So, how does it taste? Well, I hate to admit this, but I was disappointed. It smells and tastes like gluten free bread. I am not sure what flour/starch it is that causes this distinct smell but this bread definitely has it. Udi's does not. But seriously, a tiny tweak and this bread would be out of this world amazing. Have you tried it? What do you think??

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Gluten Free Dairy Free Corn Chowder

corn chowder

This is a week full of all of my favorite foods from my childhood. Corn chowder was a favorite of mine for as long as I can remember. Sweet corn, potatoes and onions. So simple, yet sooooo delicious. To this day, potatoes corn and onions are still some of my favorite foods. Especially potatoes! I have not had my Mom's corn chowder in at least 10 years. I'm sure more than that. I thought I had the recipe but when I looked last night I realized that I don't. I'm not even sure if my mom has a recipe anymore. I am pretty sure hers called for either evaporated milk or condensed. Either way, I needed to find an alternative.

This week my new favorite discovery is So Delicious Coconut Milk. I've found that not only is it thick and creamy, it doesn't leave any coconut taste in the finished recipes. I decided to use a basic corn chowder recipe from All Recipes.com and use the coconut milk in place of regular milk. I also subbed Earth Balance for the butter. The finished product was a little less creamy than my mom's version plus I used red potatoes with the skin on in bigger chunks as opposed to peeled idaho potatoes in small chunks. Other than that, it was delicious. Next time, I think I will use a little less water and So Delicious Creamer instead of milk.

And the breadsticks? Schar of course! My favorite part of Mom's corn chowder was crushing up saltine crackers and letting them soak up the chowder. The Schar breadsticks were a great substitute for the saltines. Next time I will use Schar table crackers but the store I was at last night didn't carry them. I am loving this stroll down memory lane during this holiday season.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Adventures in Gluten Free Chicken Pie

I absolutely love chicken pot pie. I grew up eating Mrs. Budd's and am on a mission to re-create it gluten and dairy free. A while back I posted my first attempt, which was not a huge success but not necessarily a failure either. On Friday night I decided to try again. This time I came so much closer on the filling! But it was Friday night and I was tired so I decided to make "biscuits" instead of a crust. Check out those white hockey pucks:

Chicken Pie

I have a biscuit recipe tagged from a friend of mine (I won't say who, I don't her to be associated with this utter failure). It was so easy, flour and water! Really? Awesome! So I mixed the flour and the water and baked those little balls of dough and I got... white hockey pucks. What went wrong? The recipe called for biscuit mix. Not plain flour. Oy.

After eating the delicious filling, I was mad that I had no bready type thing to go with it so I tried biscuits again. This time with more ingredients. I came close, but they were a little flat and a little too hard. Fresh out of the oven with butter though, not too bad.

Biscuit

I had some filling left over so I decided to try again. This time I used a pie crust recipe, Better Batter, Salt, Earth Balance, and water. Simple and easy. Chilled it, rolled it out, topped the leftovers, baked for 40 minutes.

Pot Pie

Flaky, buttery, awesome. A little gritty and gluten free tasting but for my first pie crust EVER (GF or not) I'm pretty happy with it. I might try it the traditional way with shortening next time to see the difference. This was definitely a triumph. Not quite Mrs. Budd's yet but getting there. I'm still going to hold off on the recipe until I perfect it. Stay tuned!


Sunday, December 5, 2010

Best Fluffy Gluten Free & Dairy Free Pancakes So Far!

Best GF Pancakes so far!

I don't make pancakes at home very often, but when I do, I want light and fluffy and delicious pancakes. I could just buy one of the pre-made mixes from any of the GF Flour mix makers out there but I don't want to have both a box of flour mix and a box of pancake mix. I've been working my way through a 5lb box of Better Batter so I'm determined to use it instead of using mixes for all of my baked goods. I have made some pretty good pancakes and some pretty bad pancakes since going GF but never quite hit the nail on the head. I'm so excited that this morning I FINALLY found a recipe that works.

You see, I kept google searching "pancakes" but this morning I searched "fluffy pancakes" and TA-DA! Presto, the first result turned out to be the winner. I have an All Recipes account and kept searching "pancakes" and could never find what I wanted. Lo and behold, add the word Fluffy and you find a winner. I used this recipe and substituted better batter, rice milk and earth balance. The faux butter milk (rice milk & vinegar) I think is the key to light and fluffy pancakes. The taste and texture of these is perfect. This is definitely the recipe I'll be using from now on!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Review: Enjoy Life Foods Chocolate Bars

Mmmmm Chocolate

Chocolate makes my world go round. Always has, probably always will. I used to be all about the milk chocolate and I hated the dark stuff. Cadbury Dairy Milk bar was my absolute favorite, but I also loved hershey's, milky way, snickers, twix, m&m's... When I went gluten free I had to kick out more than half of my favorites. The twix was the toughest. Then when I discovered that dairy had to go as well, I was devastated. How was I going to survive without chocolate???? For a while, I just didn't eat it at all. Then, I found Enjoy Life chocolate bars. A "milk" chocolate bar with no casein? Sold. I wrote about them here. If you read that post, you'll see what I mean:
"I am not a huge fan of dark chocolate and this tastes closer to that than regular milk chocolate but I still liked it. I saved the regular rice milk chocolate bar for today. They do also have a dark chocolate version if that's your sorta thing. I'm trying to stay away from chocolate in general but once in awhile you've just gotta have some!"
Eventually I started giving the dark stuff a shot since the dairy free "milk" chocolate never really did much for me. I find most of it just tastes like too much sugar. And you know what? I love it now. I prefer dark to milk. And all those antioxidants! Heh. Recently the folks at Enjoy Life contacted me about reviewing their chocolate bars and I was happy to accept a few complimentary treats. Of course I always give an honest review. What I love about Enjoy Life is that their foods are free of not only gluten, but the 8 most common allergens: wheat, dairy, peanuts, tree nuts, egg, soy, fish and shellfish. They are also made without casein, potato, sesame and sulfites. Ingredients have ben additionally tested to ensure strict allergen control standards are met.

Enjoy Life offers three different types of chocolate bars, dairy free milk chocolate, dairy free milk chocolate with rice crunchies, and dark chocolate. I've happily eaten all of them. They are all very good. I love the one with the rice crunchies because I used to love Nestle's and this is the closest substitute I've found. Interestingly enough, my favorite is the dark chocolate! (pictured above) The dark chocolate contains simply evaporated cane juice, natural chocolate liquor and non-dairy cocoa butter. Perfect! These bars are also the only ones I've found that are the size of a normal candy bar. Most dark chocolate is sold in the larger size. These are great to just grab for a treat. I definitely recommend them!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Something Sweet without Wheat

cookies

Lately I've noticed some new gluten and dairy free baked treats popping up at my local natural food store. You all know that I avoid sweets.. pfft.. but I just couldn't resist these. A new company called Something Sweet Without Wheat is on the scene, made up of two sisters that grew up baking together. One of the sisters was diagnosed with wheat and diary sensitivities as an adult and then they found out that their children were sensitive too. And so the company was born!

I am ALL about supporting new and local GF companies. I actually already tried the double chocolate chip cookies a week or two ago but they were gone before I got a photo so I didn't write about them. This time I knew I had to slow it down a bit. No need to inhale the cookies the minute I get home from the store. Or in the car ride home from the store. Right.

cookies 1

The list of local shops that are carrying their goodies is growing, I'm so happy to see! These cookies are great, the taste is very good and the texture is awesome. They are light and chewy and not crumbly at all. I really enjoyed them. I look forward to trying their other products soon!

Top Chef All Stars

Did you watch the season 8 opener last night? I LOVE Top Chef, I think it's the best chef competition show on TV. I have watched most of the seasons but my favorite of all time is Season 6 - Las Vegas and my favorite contestants are the Voltaggio Brothers, specifically Bryan Voltaggio.

Michael (winner) and Bryan Voltaggio of Top Chef Season 6

I am very excited for this season of All Stars, the cast is awesome. I am not sure who I'm pulling for to win yet but I think I'm leaning towards Jennifer who came in 4th on Season 6. Who are your Top Chef favorites?

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Gluten Free Mustard Breaded Porkchops

Mustard Breaded Pork Chop

Edited to add: As it turns out, I DID get in. I don't know what happened, but this actually is an official submission to Adopt a Gluten Free Blogger! I'm leaving the post as I originally wrote it. Enjoy!

I was all excited to participate in my first Adopt a Gluten Free Blogger event which Sea over at Book of Yum started back in 08. I've seen so many of these posts and I thought that it would be a great way to kick start my mission to cook more recipes. The rules are that more than one person cannot adopt the same blogger in a given month. I swear I checked the list of already chosen bloggers but somehow I missed that Jill Elise of Hey, That Tastes Good was already taken! So now, here I sit, ready to post my first ever entry and I checked back to the original post to make sure I'm following the rules and I didn't see my name in the list. I looked and looked and looked and guess what... Jill was the 3rd blogger listed, definitely before I picked her. Well, I can't say I'm surprised, her blog is awesome. I have 60 of her posts saved in my Bloglines reader to try. Her photos are mouth-watering and the recipes are simple but delicious. This particular recipe was something I wanted to try because it reminds me of Not Your Average Joe's mustard breaded porkchops that are soooooo gluteny delicious. I swear I haven't had them since before going GF....

I'm disappointed that this doesn't count as my first entry in AaGFB but I am happy that I made these. They are SO delicious. Taste just like the gluteny restaurant version. And so easy to make! I served them along with roasted red potatoes and brussels sprouts. This dinner was the best home cooked meal I've had in a long time, aside from Thanksgiving of course. This recipe will definitely become a part of my repertoire!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Review: Udi's Gluten Free Cinnamon Rolls

Udi's GF Cinnamon Rolls

I haven't had a cinnamon roll in years. I figured Thanksgiving was a great time to give these a try since these are not something I would buy for myself otherwise. For a frozen cinnamon roll with icing that comes out of a plastic baggie, these are pretty good. I did put them in the microwave for about 20 seconds with the icing on top to heat them up and melt the icing a bit. The flavor of the dough is great, doesn't taste gluten free, but it's a bit dry and the edges kind of hard. The icing was clearly dairy free, a little too spicy for my liking but good. This is probably my least favorite product of Udi's, but that's not necessarily a bad thing because I LOVE all of Udi's products. These I just like, and probably won't buy them for myself again. But then again, I probably won't buy any brand of cinnamon rolls. I do plan on making them myself someday though so keep any eye out for that post! Now, if only Udi's would come out with onion bagels... that would make me very, very happy.

Overwhelmed with Options

I don't post a lot of recipes here anymore. In the beginning I was always cooking (or more likely, baking) something new and exciting. Lately I've been all about quick and easy and convenient ::cough Chipotle cough:: and I have not been doing nearly enough cooking at home. The problem is, I have SO MANY recipes that I want to try that I get overwhelmed and just go with the same old staples. I have over 700 blog posts tagged in my reader, Carol Fenster's cookbook of 1,000 recipes plus a bunch of other cookbooks and new blog posts are popping up every day. It's crazy!! Also, I have a hundred variations of the same recipes. How many recipes for onion rings do I really need anyway?? I'm going to try to plan a recipe a week to get started. Since I typically cook for one and I'm not home every night, one recipe usually gives me 3 or 4 nights worth of food and depending on the recipe I can freeze it for later. Plus I have to keep my costs down. But I think that cooking at home will help me tighten up my food budget anyway. So... where do I begin??

Friday, November 26, 2010

Gluten Free Thanksgiving Recap

T Day 1

My third Gluten and Dairy free Thanksgiving was a success. My Mom is the Thanksgiving Goddess so I mostly leave it up to her but I try to have plenty of extras on hand since I usually stay with my parents for a couple of days. I took Wednesday off from work to go down and help Mom prepare. She basically makes all the traditional fare, turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, squash, green beans, corn, gravy. Apple and pumpkin pies for dessert. She's good about modifying some things for me but in general, it's up to me to make sure I have things to eat. My favorite parts of Turkey Day are the stuffing, gravy and apple pie. She made the gravy with cornstarch so that I could have it and it was sooooo good.

Our favorite stuffing is Stove Top so I've been on a mission over the last couple of years to re-create it. I came pretty close this year:

Stuffing

I used Udi's bread, onions, celery, garlic, chicken stock and Bell's seasoning. It didn't come out exactly as I'd hoped. It was a little dry and crumbly, I prefer a more cakey texture like the original. When it came time to serve it up, I ended up mixing an egg with some water, mixing it into the stuffing and cooking it longer. This definitely helped. I will definitely modify this recipe next year to see if I can get it just right.

For as long as I can remember I've been helping my mom to bake the apple pie from a Betty Crocker recipe from her old school, orange 3 ring binder cookbook. It's a basic, traditional apple pie recipe. I could use a gf pie crust and make it the same way but this year I ran out of time. I bought a Whole Foods GF Bakehouse apple pie. It's not dairy free but that's ok. It was delicious.

Apple Pie

I have a lot to be thankful for and this Thanksgiving was awesome as always. The most important part - the family. I am very lucky to have such an awesome family!! Lots more family events coming up in December and of course Christmas is now only a month away! More posts to come, Happy Holidays everyone!!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bars - Gluten and Dairy Free

Gluten Free Dairy Free Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bars

Ahh the holidays. It's the time of year when I feel like if I consume so much as one more sugar crystal I might explode. Yet I keep eating... and telling myself it will be January 1st soon enough. This is the first time in over 6 years that I've worked in an environment with a lot of people. A lot of people that love to celebrate. With more sugar. Any day is a good day for an ice cream party, thank goodness I can't eat ice cream. But wait, they got me Italian Ice!

Today was our Thanksgiving Dessert party. The best way to not feel like an outcast at the party is to make something that I can eat. They all know it's gluten free but everyone was nice enough to try them anyway. How could you not want to try these, look at all the chocolate!! They were a big hit, thumbs up all around and the pan was almost totally polished off. It made me feel so good!! And they were so easy to make!

I'm not sure where I got this recipe so I'll post it here, hopefully I haven't stolen it from anywhere too concerned about copyright infringement... if so, send me a message and I'll take it down!

Pumpkin Chocolate-Chip Squares ~ Gluten and Dairy Free


2 cups all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled (I used Better Batter)
1 T. pumpkin-pie spice
1 tsp. baking soda
¾ tsp. salt
1 cup unsalted butter, room temp (I used Earth Balance Soy Free Buttery Spread)
1 ¼ cups sugar (I used 1 cup)
1 large egg
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup canned pumpkin puree
12 oz. semisweet chocolate chips (This is a LOT of chips. 10 oz would be fine)

Preheat oven to 350. Line bottom and sides of 9 x 13 inch baking pan with foil

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, pie spice, baking soda, and salt; set aside.

With an electric mixer, cream butter and sugar on medium-high speed until smooth; beat in egg and vanilla until combined. Beat in pumpkin puree (mixture may appear curdled). Reduce speed to low, and mix in dry ingredients until just combined. Fold in chocolate chips.

Spread batter evenly in prepared pan. Bake until edges begin to pull away from sides of pan and a toothpick inserted in center comes out with just a few moist crumbs attached, 35 to 40 minutes. Cool completely in pan.


Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Review: Amy's Gluten and Dairy Free Burrito

Amy's GF DF Burrito

I loooooooove Mexican food, which is a really good thing because it's such a gluten-free friendly style of cooking. I just recently read that my favorite Mexican restaurant from my hometown has a GF menu so I can't wait to go back! I also spend a fortune at Chipotle... Of course (GF) burritos and tacos aren't really the best authentic Spanish cuisine but I still love them. Anyway, I heard that Amy's had come out with gluten and dairy free burritos so I was really excited to try them. I was even more excited when I saw the box in my regular grocery store freezer buuuuut it was empty. Empty!! I guess there are more gf/df people around here than I thought.. that also happen to love burritos. Then I was in Whole Foods the other day and what do you know, there they were and they were on sale. SCORE! I grabbed two.

Once I was ready to eat one I read the cooking instructions, I know that Amy's foods tend to be better when cooked in the oven but I was hungry and it takes almost an hour to heat up a (very small) single burrito. I went the microwave route for the first one. As expected, it tasted good, but was a bit rubbery and dried out. So the next time I cooked it in the oven. And waited. For 40 minutes. For a snack sized burrito. But hey, it tasted pretty good this time!! The sides did split during both cooking methods but I eat them with a knife and fork anyway. I obviously added some salsa and guacamole (my favorite!) on the side which were a nice compliment. I would definitely keep a couple of these in the freezer.

I have some more posts coming soon, I just baked some pumpkin chocolate chip bars, I am eating Canyon Bakehouse bread for the first time this week, and of course I'll tell you all what's in store for Thanksgiving dinner. This can certainly be a tough time of year for us with all the temptations out there but if we're smart and plan ahead it can be just as fun and delicious for us too!!

Monday, November 8, 2010

I'm still here!!

Steak Sub

Well, it's been a while! I miss this place and all you guys out there. The new job doesn't really allow much time for blogging so I've fallen out of the habit. I've been thinking a lot lately though about wanting to get back to it. I actually really want to write a post about the quality of gluten free bread nowadays. Wow have we come a long way baby!! That picture above, almost makes you think I've been snacking on a sub from the corner sub shop right? Tasted like it! That's a Schar sub sandwich roll and oh my gosh is it delicious. They come with instructions to bake at 400 degrees for 5 minutes and enjoy. I haven't had a steak sub in soooo long so when I saw these at the store this is the first thing that came to mind. I LOVE subs and miss them and when I saw these rolls I knew exactly what to do.

Currently my favorite breads are Udi's, Schar, and this local bakery called All Can Eat. I buy a loaf of All Can Eat Multi-Grain bread each week and generally have 2 slices toasted with an egg over-easy for breakfast each day. I love it! Long forgotten are the days of that awful "gluten-free" smell coming from the toaster. I am going to attempt to make gluten free stuffing for Thanksgiving again this year and this time I plan on using Udi's white bread. Lately I've been craving a Joan's English Muffin but it looks like they've fallen out of the market, I'm sure because they are so expensive. There are just too many great alternatives out there, I wish Joan would come down on the price so that she could stay competitive! Those really are my favorite English Muffins.

Anyway... hopefully I'll get some more posts up soon. Other than breads I haven't been eating anything new and/0r exciting. I've noticed that Stop & Shop is really stepping up their game, now carrying Udi's! They are also carrying Amy's GF/CF burritos but are selling out like hot cakes, I want to try them!! Also, anyone know where I can score a box of GF Bisquick?? Can't find it anywhere!!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Recipe: Gluten Free, Dairy Free French Toast

French Toast

Growing up, one of my favorite things was having "breakfast for dinner." Most of the time this meant my Mom pulling a tray table up to the dining room table, setting up the electric griddle and cooking French Toast. She would whip together eggs and milk, dip white bread in the mixture, cook it up on the griddle and serve topped with butter, syrup and cinnamon & sugar. She used to keep this little yellow tupperware container of the prepared cinnamon & sugar mixture in the cabinet. It had a little flip top so that you could pour it right onto the French Toast. Thinking about it now, I realized that this is more like dessert for dinner! She'd cook away until the kids were done and then she'd finally make some for herself. My Dad rarely partook in this tradition, he said it was too sweet for him. He'd make a sandwich or have a bowl of cereal instead.

Since going gluten free I have only tried to recreate this recipe once. I can't remember which bread I used but it was a total failure. Last weekend it suddenly dawned on me that Udi's would be the perfect bread to try this again, and I was right on. It was still very different than the original but as that photo above shows, it looked exactly the same. It tasted awesome too despite the fact that the bread is gluten free, the milk is almond milk, the syrup is pure maple (instead of "table syrup" aka high fructose corn syrup) the butter is Earth Balance, and I didn't put cinnamon & sugar on it this time. This is best served on a rainy Sunday morning in front of the tv with a glass of OJ. Enjoy!

Mom's French Toast
gluten and dairy free

1 Egg
As much almond milk as you like
2 sliced of Udi's white bread
Earth Balance Buttery Spread
Pure Maple Syrup

Heat a skillet over medium to med-high heat
Whisk together the egg and almond milk
Soak the bread in the milk making sure both sides are covered
Place slices in the skillet and cook on one side until golden brown
Flip and repeat
Serve with buttery spread and maple syrup


This post is part of what I hope will be a series of posts involving a new recipe every week. I have started a new blog called Jen's Life to the Fullest which is basically my Bucket List. It is a list of things I want to do at some point in my life. Some are lofty, some very basic but I always have a ton of ideas and I have a habit of forgetting or getting lazy. This is a way for me to stay focused. I hope you'll check it out!



Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Like Me!

Ok, I give in. Everyone's on facebook now so I went ahead and set up a page. I keep my personal FB page private for friends and family only but some GF peeps are good investigators and have found me. I talk enough about the gf life with my friends and family as it is so I don't want to start spamming them with stuff from here on FB so I'm keeping the personal page private but if you want to keep in touch with me via FB just LIKE the A Life of Sugar and Spice page! Link is in the left sidebar. I do have more posts coming soon. I have to tell you about the GIANT whoopie pie that's sitting in my desk right now that I got from a new local GF bakery! That post is coming soon!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Life gets in the way

Beach Day

Sorry for the lack of posts!! I've been keeping really busy with the two jobs, bowling league and lots of summer fun. I took my first vacation day from the new job on Tuesday to spend some time with my aunts that are visiting from Colorado and Missouri. Another aunt, cousin, cousin's friend and my sister went as well. We went to the beach of course! It was a perfectly beautiful day for it too. I had a wonderful time.

There's a great little food shack at this beach but of course the only option for me is basically a piece of grilled chicken sitting on a lettuce leaf, so I made sure to stock up before heading out. I put together a great salad, a banana, some Bhuja snacks, pretzels and snickerdoodles for dessert. It's at the point where I rarely feel deprived anymore as the rest of the family was eating fried seafood and french fries, I actually prefer to eat a salad. I'm feeling a whole lot healthier these days! I've lost most of the weight from the meds with little effort. I'd like to lose a little more but this is where the effort part comes in and I just don't care all that much about it. I'm just happy to be feeling great.

I don't have a whole lot of new things to write about, my routine is pretty much just that - routine. I eat the same things all the time. Mostly fresh foods that are naturally gluten free, and I always have Udi's on hand. I do have a couple of posts up my sleeves so hopefully I'll get around to them soon! I hope you're all having a great summer!!!!

Friday, July 2, 2010

It's official

My niece is allergic to dairy. When she was born, she was horribly colic and had terrible baby acne and my sister just didn't know what to do. I practically begged her to take her off of dairy formula and when she finally did, Maggie immediately got better. I was so excited, my sister not so much. She doesn't want Maggie to suffer because of a food allergy, and dairy is in EVERYTHING. I understand where she's coming from but being an allergenista myself, I'm like, Hey this is no sweat! The doctors said she might grow out of it, give it some time and re-introduce the dairy. Fast forward 6 months...

Tuesday night she was at a friend's house and the friend gave her a baby cookie. Immediately Maggie started breaking out around her mouth in a rash. My sister thought it was odd but didn't really do anything about it. She's been wanting to transition Maggie off of formula and wanted to put her on regular milk. I've been telling her over and over to not be surprised if she doesn't tolerate it. Well, the other night she gave her a bottle with 2 oz of milk and 2 oz of soy formula. Lo and behold, she broke out immediately and not long after that she tossed that milk right back up... (sorry). She checked the website of the baby cookies and sure enough, there is milk in them. The pediatrician says she still may grow out of it and try again in 6 months. She asked me if I thought it was ok to try her on yogurt in like a month. I was like NO!!! How are you going to ask your dairy allergic sister if she thinks it's ok to give a dairy allergic baby some yogurt?? Silly girl. I know that she's just thinking into the future of all the foods that have milk that Maggie won't be able to have and is feeling that pain that we all feel when we find out that we can't have mac & cheese anymore. I get it. It would be great if Maggie grows out of this, but I'm guessing that she won't. She has a pretty obvious and immediate reaction to it which is just as bad now as it was when she was born. Thankfully she has me to help her find great alternatives for her! If she didn't understand what I go through before, she certainly will now. She's being really stubborn about it though which is surprising to me, I think she's still really in that old school mindset that dairy is essential for optimum health which we all here know that is not the case! She'll be just fine.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Review: Schar Shortbread Cookies

picnikfile_ixDm7N

I've been meaning to try these cookies for a long time, and after reading about them on Heidi's blog I couldn't resist. I meant to try to make these into twix bars but I've already eaten more than half the bag. I'm keeping them in my desk at work so I can grab a couple after lunch. Let me just preface this by saying that I do not typically care for shortbread cookies, but I was at the grocery store the other day and they just sounded really good. And they are! I really like these, they are light and crunchy and great for something sweet after lunch. I tend to eat a lot of salad at lunch time and I always want something to kind of cleanse my palate afterwards and these are great for that. Schar makes some awesome products and I'm rarely disappointed with them. Thanks Schar!!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Beaten like a red-headed step child.

First of all, read THIS article. Not even our natural food sources are safe anymore and I'm basically convinced that no matter how hard I try, none of the food I eat is completely safe. So I'm just going to do the best I can.

Second, I have bruises. Always. All over my legs. I don't know how they get there most of the time. Lately I've been elevating my legs at work by resting them on the edge of my trash barrel and this morning I noticed that I now have bruises on the back of both of my legs where I rest them on the barrel. Really? I have big veins and thin skin, you can see my veins coursing through my legs, but is that really all this is? I've always bruised easily but lately it seems a bit excessive. So I'm writing about it here, to all my autoimmune friends, to see if any of you have experienced this? I'd love to hear your thoughts!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Review: Udi's Chocolate Muffins and Turtle Mountain Ice Cream

picnikfile_AjGbHH

In my effort to avoid too much sugar, I asked the awesome folks at Udi's if I could sample their chocolate chocolate chip muffins along with the pizza crust they offered to send me. They were so kind to oblige. I have been waiting for these to show up in my stores but at the moment I can only ever find the Blueberry (awesome) and the Lemon Streusel (haven't tried yet but I know I will love them too). Three out of four of these were consumed just plain, warmed up in the microwave for 20 seconds and they are so delicious. Addictive. Chocolatey awesomeness. For one of these little delights, I decided to make a dessert out of it. As if these aren't already dessert enough on their own. I heated one up in the microwave and topped it off with some Turtle Mountain Purely Decadent Coconut Milk Chocolate Peanut Butter Swirl ice cream. Wow this was such a good idea!!!! If I were ever going to a party where there would be cake and ice cream and I wanted to be able to have something for myself, I'd totally bring this! This ice cream is so so so good, the first time I bought it, when I got it home it had just melted enough that it was perfect to eat and I ate the entire pint.... I swear, I really am doing better about eating a lot less sugar but once in a while you've got to treat yourself!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Review: Udi's Gluten Free Pizza Crust

picnikfile_21I3CJ

I have been eating a lot of pizza lately!! Ever since I discovered Daiya cheese it's my new favorite thing. Last week I posted that I made some pizza using Kinnikinnick crust and the awesome folks at Udi's offered to send me some of their crust to try since I hadn't found it yet at my local shops. The Kinnikinnick crust was great but the Udi's crust is even better!!! It's thin and crunchy and doesn't get mushy under the toppings. I piled this pizza high with sauce, slices of tomatoes, onions, peppers, mushrooms and both mozzarella and cheddar style Daiya cheese.. oh and also a couple slices of Boar's Head bacon!! Delicious. The only thing I noticed about this crust that I don't love is that it's got a lot of dust on it, like extra flour dust. I do like a little flour dust on my pizza crust but I thought it was a little excessive here. But really, other than that, this is another amazing Udi's product!!!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Microwave Ovens

Have you ever thought about what a microwave does to your food? I just watched Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs and now I'm reading articles online about microwaves and chemical structure and I'm starting to think this is another piece to the autoimmunity puzzle. Very curious.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

The Manwife Chronicles

I randomly stumbled across this guy today on Twitter and he's new to the world of Celiac and the gluten free life. He is a funny guy and writes a blog about being a "manwife" after being laid off. This particular post about Celiac was hilarious and I thought you'd all get a kick out of it. Enjoy!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Revew: Udi's Gluten Free Bagels



Whole Foods is finally carrying Udi's products! I found the bread and muffins there last week but yesterday I found the bagels. I don't generally care that much about bagels but I just had to try these. I left them out overnight to defrost and then toasted one up this morning and made an egg sandwich with it. I am certainly impressed. These are soft, bready, delicious bagels. They don't have that crunchy outside like a traditional bagel but still, excellent. I didn't even bother looking at the nutritional info because I know these aren't a great choice but there's only four in the bag so that's not too bad. I won't buy them very often since I don't often buy bagels in general, but whenever I get the urge, I definitely will grab these! Udi's is the best! I made pizza last night with Kinnikinnick crust but I thought about making bagel pizzas, now that would be awesome! Pizza post coming soon!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Daiya Casein Free Cheese... amazing.

Daiya

Tonight I made buffalo chicken nachos. Well kinda, they were supposed to be buffalo chicken quesadillas but the tortillas were a major fail when I didn't pay attention to the recipe... so I used tortilla chips instead. Every Thursday at work is buffalo chicken day. It's a big deal and I am always a little bit sad that I'm missing out on the gluteny, breaded, buttery, spicy, fried deliciousness that is buffalo chicken tenders. I'm really working hard at staying true to the gf/cf diet so I decided that since tomorrow is buffalo chicken day, I would make my own!

I really wanted quesadillas and I have a big box of Better Batter that I've been meaning to use so I thought I'd try the awesome tortilla recipe from their website. This normally would be an easy recipe to make but became a major undertaking because it just so happened to be 95 degrees here. I don't have air conditioning. Who takes on a cooking project on a day like today? Me. I also have never made buffalo sauce before either, and only within the past couple of years have I actually even become a fan of the stuff. The motivator for this project though, was the cheese. I haven't had cheese melted on anything in a long time and I heard about this amazing product called Daiya and I just had to try it.

Recently I've been reading a lot about Daiya on the blogs and people are raving about it, so I went to Whole Foods today and bought a pack of each of the cheddar and mozzarella versions. Daiya is a dairy, casein, soy, rice and gluten free cheese alternative. It's vegan and also free of artificial ingredients and preservatives. The main ingredient in the cheddar is tapioca and/or arrowroot flours. Weird huh? Not only does it melt and stretch, it actually tastes like the real stuff!!! I'm amazed.

I broiled some chicken tenders, made the sauce (melt hot sauce and earth balance together, viola!) and set to work on the tortillas, but the dough just wouldn't come together. I couldn't figure out why and was in too much of a rush so I gave up on that. Put the chicken in the buffalo sauce, put that on top of some chips, topped it off with cheddar cheese and melted it in the microwave. Put a dollop of CF sour cream (Tofutti Better Than Sour Cream) on the side to cut the heat of the buffalo sauce. Oh my gosh this was so yummy. And almost completely all natural and organic, not to mention completely gluten and dairy free. Cheesy, creamy, buttery goodness without the stomach ache. I took a picture but it is VERY unappetizing so I'm not going to post it, but it tasted so good. I am totally amazed by Daiya. It is excellent. I don't know how they turn flour and other ingredients into cheese that melts and stretches but they did it and it's awesome. I highly recommend it!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Well Hey There!

What's happening in blogland?? I have been out of the loop, just took a little break from reading and writing. It's spring time and my calendar is just buzzing with fun things and unfortunately, blogging has taken a backseat. I have hundreds of unread posts in my reader! I will catch up soon. Work is going great and I really like my new job. I'm still working at the gym two nights a week and it's draining all of my energy. Oh, and I'm turning 30. On Friday. Yeah.

The good news is, my family and friends threw me a surprise 30th birthday party on Saturday night!! I was pretty sure my 30th was about to go by unnoticed so they really got me good. My mom even bought me Redbridge and made me a gf/cf cake! It was a great night. I had a few unmoderated comments so I'll get to those soon. I don't know if I'll be posting regularly but I just wanted to stop in for a quick update. I hope you are all doing well!!!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Love that dirty water, Boston you're my home!

Water

A major pipe burst yesterday. The pipe that supplies water to several Massachusetts cities and towns. They've shut down the main line and are now piping us water from emergency reservoirs which is fine for showering and toilet use but not fine for drinking. We are currently in a "Boil Water Order" which means we either boil our own tap water to make it consumable or we rush to the store and buy bottled water. I obviously chose the latter. Fortunately they had more than enough at my local store but many stores are totally sold out and I've heard that at one store people are literally shoving each other out of the way to get some. My office is within the boil zone also, and I drink water at work all day, so I had to stock up. They've closed the cafeteria for at least Monday, probably longer, and there will be no drinkable water in the building. The pipe is almost repaired but then they have to flush the lines and do all kinds of tests to make sure the water is safe. It's inconvenient but trust me I am not complaining. This incident made me think a little more carefully about situations like hurricane Katrina and wow I can't even begin to imagine what it would be like to go through that.

This weekend I spent both Friday and Saturday night, out gallivanting until 2am. BOTH nights! I felt like I was 23 again. Today I'm exhausted, I even went shopping unshowered with no makeup, which is absolutely unheard of. I figured I'd just get in and get out and hopefully no one would notice. Figures that today would be the day that I felt the need to butt into someone else's conversation and make some new friends! I went to Good Health to grab a couple things and I overheard a woman talking to one of the shop staff members about gluten free items. I noticed that the staff person was recommending some items that aren't necessarily the best so I thought I'd step in and lend a hand. The woman was with her daughter who has been having some stomach trouble and she's been getting some testing done to try to figure it out and now she's going gluten free to see if it helps. I was more than happy to point out some of my favorite products and give her some recommendations. I also gave her the link to this blog so she could check it out and then check out some of the other amazing blogs that I have listed in the blogroll, specifically Heidi's blog because of the similar situation. I hope that her daughter feels better soon!!! If you're reading this, please feel free to email me at jen at a life of sugar and spice dot com! (also I wrote Heidi's link down wrong so click the link above!) It was a pleasure to meet you!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Misophonia

Miso-what? Misophonia - a form of decreased sound tolerance. I just learned that this is an actual condition the other day and boy am I relieved... let me tell you why.

I have amazing hearing. If you are three rooms away from me and you drop a penny, I will hear it. If someone's smoke detector is going off two houses away, I will hear it. In fact, I will get out of bed in the middle of the night and go outside to make sure that it's a neighbor's house and not mine that is potentially on fire. Seriously. You might be thinking, wow, that's incredible! And you'd be right, it is pretty cool. For example, if you're standing across the room, whispering to your friend, there's a pretty good chance I can hear you. Good for me, maybe not for you, right? Sometimes it gets me in trouble though when I accidentally laugh out loud at what you said and then you know that I could hear you. "How on earth did you hear that??" Yeah, I get that a lot.

But there's something else that happens to me that I've always hated and can't control and before Tuesday I never understood why. The sound of chewing makes me crazy. Literally. I mean violently angry sometimes. You know how the sound of nails on a chalkboard sends shivers down your spine? Well, sometimes I actually feel as though my ears will bleed when I hear that sound. Noises that typically just annoy other people make me literally want to crawl out of my skin. And when I say literally, I mean LITERALLY. When I'm tired or if I just woke up I'm even more sensitive. It's the chewing though that causes me to turn green and break out of my clothes in an Incredible Hulk style rage.

Ever since I was little this has been a problem. Some people chew more loudly or awkwardly than others. For example, my Dad's mouth is like a cavern, I swear the crunching in there echoes. And my brother eats like a grazing cow, smacking and smooshing and ugh god it makes me shudder. The worst thing of all is crunching. Carrots, pretzels, chips, oh my goodness it rocks me to the core. If someone is eating cereal three rooms away with the doors closed in between I can STILL HEAR IT.

I knew when I started this job that this was going to be an issue. I have never been in an open workstation environment with a lot of other people. Every day someone that sits a few seats away snacks on chips. Someone will eat a salad or some pita chips. Another person eats carrots in the afternoon. I wonder if anyone has ever seen my head whip around to seek out the offender, or the glare that I send their way. I am ashamed to even admit this, but I seriously get so angry that I want to punch something, or someone... it is absolutely horrible.

If you've not experienced this, it's impossible to understand. You might be thinking, just get over it! Learn to deal with it! Ignore it! You're insane! Trust me, I've spent my entire life learning how to cope with this. Thankfully I am allowed to use earbuds at work so if I'm getting particularly sensitive, I just put the music on. If my Dad sits down in the living room with carrots, I leave the room. Fortunately, he understands and doesn't think I'm a total freak show. I noticed that my Mom will try to chew quietly, which actually just drives me even more insane because knowing that she's trying makes me pay more attention to it. Plus, when you try to chew quietly, you end up having to chew your food longer... I'd rather you just chomp on it and finish it fast! But really, this is my issue and I try very hard to not make it known that I'm dying on the inside. I have learned very well to cope with it. I even have been trying lately to desensitize myself to it. If I notice someone is chewing and it starts to bother me, I deliberately keep listening and calm myself down. Sometimes though I just can't handle it and I have to leave the room or plug in my earbuds. You know all of those tv commercials where they amplify the sound of someone chewing... like Twix or Raisin Bran Crunch or Kit Kat? I have to change the channel!

It's strange because my own chewing doesn't bother me. At all. Strange, huh? The other day I suddenly felt the need to do a google search about this issue and right away I learned about Misophonia. I couldn't believe that this is an actual neurological condition. It's not very well known or researched and some people think it's a psychological issue from a bad childhood experience. I had a great childhood. I don't believe that in my case, this is true. I do believe that it's a wiring problem somewhere in there. I just have super sensitive ears. Right now, someone is talking and she's particularly loud and it's annoying, but it is what it is. I just try really hard to not let it bother me and if it is bothering me, use the music. Now that I know that it's a legit condition, I feel a lot better about it and I actually think that maybe I can work on that desensitizing thing. It's worth a shot!

I wanted to write about this in case there are any other people out there that are dealing with this. Know that you are not alone! And you're not crazy, this is real! If you're a person that knows someone that talks about their sensitive ears, please have some compassion. It's a very painful condition and it's no joke. I'm really glad that I'm not just a psychopath though, seriously.

Monday, April 26, 2010

30 Days to a Food Revolution

As it turns out, there already IS a 30 day whole food challenge going on in the gluten free world. Over at The W.H.O.L.E. Gang today is the first day and Shirley of Gluten Free Easily (love her!!) is kicking us off. Every day a different blogger will be guest blogging to share tips, recipes and food for thought. How awesome is this?!! I can't wait to read everyone's posts!

I went to Whole Foods yesterday and spent under $40. I didn't need a full cart of groceries but I still bought quite a bit of stuff, including two packages of grass fed beef. I'm very excited to be doing this. This week is kind of a slow start week since I want to use up some of the food I already have in the house. I'll be eating Udi's bread, tortilla chips (organic, only 3 ingredients), Eco-Planet hot cereal (organic, whole grains) and Amy's soup (also organic and all whole ingredients). Otherwise it will be all eggs, meat, veggies and probably some rice but usually I eat potatoes. For tonight I have some free range chicken defrosting in the fridge. The only food that I have that is not organic is the Udi's bread, but it is the whole grain version.

I hope that you are considering giving this a try as well!! Even if you don't, definitely subscribe to The W.H.O.L.E. Gang so you can read all about it and if you haven't done so already, sign Jamie Oliver's petition!!!!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Two Years

I've written over 400 posts on this website since I began writing here two years ago. When I started this blog I just wanted to go gluten free, I didn't even know yet that I had Crohn's. What a journey it's been. I wouldn't be where I am today without this blog, without the internet, without all of you! I can't say thank you enough for all of your support, your own journeys and websites and tweets. It's been an amazing experience. I hope that my third year of writing will be just as successful. I'm hoping to make this site a wonderful resource, I've already created two lists for your reading pleasure. The Gluten and Other Allergen Free list and the Crohn's and Colitis list. These are loaded with awesome websites, mostly personal blogs, that I've been keeping in my blog reader. Finally I am able to share with all of you where I get my inspiration... which is from all of you!! If you are not on either list, please let me know!! I'll be happy to add you.