Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Bread Pudding Made With Udi's Cinnamon Rolls

I saw a recipe for "Udilicious Cinnamon Roll Bread Pudding with Vanilla Bean Sauce" and thought this would make the perfect decadent dessert for our Christmas Eve celebration. I always make vegetarian, gluten free lasagna on Christmas Eve but vary the dessert from year to year.

I have to admit, I was very skeptical about making this dessert. First of all, I wasn't going to make a test batch before Christmas. That would be too much work and too much money because the recipe calls for two package of Udi's gluten free cinnamon rolls and a real vanilla bean. Second, we didn't need to eat an entire batch just a week or two before the holiday. Finally, as we all know, gluten free products and recipes can be risky. This could turn out to be something my gluten eaters wouldn't enjoy. So, I told my guests that I was experimenting with dessert and if it didn't turn out, we would instead eat chocolate.

Well, the dessert did turn out. It turned out so well in fact that everyone at the table took some home with them to eat later. One guest even e-mailed me to confess that she ate hers later that same night.

It is a little time consuming because there are several steps AND you MUST let the cinnamon rolls sit and soak up the custard before baking. I prepared mine 4 or 5 hours before it needed to bake. I wish I had made it the night before and let it soak for a day. But this recipe is totally worth the time, effort and money! Try it, you will love it.

Udilicious Cinnamon Roll Bread Pudding with Vanilla Bean Sauce
(note: I tweaked this based on my cooking experience with this recipe.)
Chef: Johnna Perry

Bread Pudding Ingredients:

* Two packages Udi’s Cinnamon Rolls, frosted with enclosed frosting
* 1/3 cup raisins
* 1/3 cup chopped pecans (dry roasted, unsalted if available)
* 1 quart milk
* 6 eggs
* 1 cup sugar
* 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
* 1/3 cup butter, sliced


1. Cut the cinnamon rolls into 1" pieces and place into a greased 9” x 13” casserole dish. Toss with the frosting packets.

2. Sprinkle the raisins and pecan pieces over the cinnamon roll pieces.

3. Beat the milk, eggs, sugar and vanilla until well blended, then pour over the cinnamon rolls.

4. Cover and refrigerate at least 2 to 3 hours but overnight would be better.

5. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

6. Slice the butter and dot the top of the rolls with it.

7. Place in oven and bake 45 to 50 minutes (or longer) until it is set in the center and bubbling around the edges.

Vanilla Bean Sauce Ingredients:

* ½ cup sugar
* 3 T. light brown sugar
* 1 T. white rice flour
* 1 t. ground nutmeg
* 1 egg
* 2 T. butter
* 1 ¼ cups whole cream
* 1 vanilla bean, split and scraped


1. Whisk all ingredients together and cover over medium heat for 12 to 15 minutes, whisking constantly.

2. The mixture will thicken considerably and even more after it cools.

3. Sauce can be served either warm or at room temperature.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Christmas Cookie Success!

I have a world famous Christmas cookies recipe. Well, I just believe it is world famous. But I can tell you that I get a lot of requests for these cookies. Friends and family wait for me to make them every year. I usually only make them once a year -- rolled and decorated cookies are a lot of work!

However, these cookies have lost a little of their luster with me these past few years because I became essentially gluten free. I still have gluten once in a while but certainly not often enough to enjoy Christmas cookies. I still make them because everyone loves them but I don't think I have eaten any the past two years.

I tried to make a gluten free version the first year I went gluten free, but they had a funny taste to them. I used Bob's Red Mill GF All-Purpose Baking Flour. There is a flour in there I do not like - garbanzo or fava bean perhaps? Because of that I have never been a fan of Bob's GF All-Purpose Baking Flour. For prepackaged GF flour I favor Pamela's.

This year I decided to make cookies using Shauna's GF Flour Mix. Aside from being really fragile, these cookies are indistinguishable from my gluten filled variety. I now have a little container of cookies in the refrigerator just for me!

I have had two big successes using Shauna's mix (pie crust and cookies) and I am looking forward to trying more things in the new year. And guess what folks? I improvised a little with her recipe because I didn't have exactly the flours she listed, namely the superfine brown rice flour -- I just used white rice flour. Here is her recipe:

200 grams superfine brown rice flour
150 grams sorghum flour
50 grams potato flour
250 grams sweet rice flour
150 grams potato starch
100 grams arrowroot powder
100 grams cornstarch

Happy baking to all and to all a good night!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Cinnamon Crispies with Gluten Free Pie Crust

I have a confession to make. I whipped up a batch of gluten free pie crust the other night (using Shauna's recipe) but I wasn't making pie. I just had an incredible craving for cinnamon crispies.

My hubby was out of town and it made the idea of cinnamon crispies all the more appealing. I wouldn't have to share and he wouldn't need to know my secret, that I ate them all. Oh my, they were so good. This pie crust recipe is awesome too. Who knew that gluten free crust could be this good? Here is my recipe for cinnamon crispies:

Cinnamon Crispies
Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Make a batch of gluten free pie crust (I actually made a half of a batch)

Roll-out between two pieces of parchment paper until about 1/4 inch thick, or a little less, remove top piece of parchment

Sprinkle with a cinnamon/sugar blend

Cut into strips using a pizza cutter or knife, turn and cut strips into squares

Transfer to a cookie sheet (you can cook on the parchment)

Bake for about 20 minutes but check frequently as they can burn quickly because of the cinnamon sugar. They may need more than 20 minutes, just watch carefully.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Homemade Pumpkin Pie (with gluten free crust)

Taking inspiration from Gluten Free Girl and the Chef, I made homemade pumpkin pie with gluten free crust this past weekend. And when I say homemade, I mean homemade. As in roasting my own sugar pumpkin, pureeing the pumpkin, mixing up my own gluten free flour mixture and making homemade crust. It turned out great!

I won't repeat the recipe and steps here - you can visit Gluten Free Girl for that by clicking here http://glutenfreegirl.com/fresh-pumpkin-pie-gluten-free/. But I will copy my conclusions about the pie below. Everyone should try it once, just for the experience and to know that you can do it!

My conclusions?

1. I will be using canned pumpkin to make my Thanksgiving pie. Cheaper and much, much easier. While I always enjoy fresh over processed, I don’t think the extra time and effort involved in roasting your own sugar pumpkin is worth it. The canned pumpkin is just canned pumpkin and therefore minimally processed. The pie with the fresh pumpkin didn’t taste any better (according to my hubby) and there was a lot more work and time involved.

2. The gluten free pie crust recipe is yummy. A little crumbly and hard to work with but that is partially my fault as I made several mini-pies instead of one big one. However, it tastes good.

3. My favorite part of making pie is taking the bits and pieced left from the crust and sprinkling sugar and cinnamon on them and baking them. They were so good with the gluten free crust! I hadn’t had the them in a long time. I am now threatening to make a batch of pie crust just to make the sugar and cinnamon bits, but no pie!

Thanks Shauna at Gluten Free Girl for inspiring me to make a pumpkin pie from scratch and with gluten free crust. In the past, I have made pumpkin pie with no crust to avoid the gluten. Now I can enjoy crust again!

Now go forth and bake pie!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Gluten Free at PF Changs

It is the second time in a month that I have eaten gluten free at PF Changs so I thought I should share this great option for dining out!

The first time I ate in the restaurant with a group of friends before we went to see "Hair" at the theater. The restaurant has a gluten free menu printed within their regular menu so I didn't have to make a big deal about asking for gluten free options.

Being a pescetarian too, I always worry about gluten free options because I have found that they are usually meat-based. Makes sense because meat is naturally gluten free. But PF Changs offers a Singapore Noodle dish that is gluten free. It comes with chicken and shrimp, but I ordered it with just shrimp. I am positive you could also order it vegetarian and get broccoli instead of the meat as they seem very accommodating.

Last night for Halloween, we were going to a friends' house for dinner and we offered to pick up PF Changs take-out for our dinners. I again ordered the Singapore noodles using PF Changs online ordering system. The gluten free menu is totally available to order online.

I was worried about ordering online for take-out as it seems you can never be sure what you are getting. But, when I arrived, my take-out container had a bright gluten free sticker on it. They also offered me gluten free soy sauce packets. When the server asked if we needed fortune cookies, I said yes. He was kind in pointing out that the cookies were not gluten free. Of course I knew that, but I like to read my fortune and then let my hubby eat the cookie.

I have been trying harder to eat gluten free all the time (I tend to cheat once in a while since I am not celiac and usually don't feel the effects of a one-time cheat) but PF Changs makes it so easy for me to "be good." If you are looking for a great dining option where you can eat gluten free and not feel like a "freak" because you have to ask 500 questions before you order, I would recommend PF Changs.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Gluten Free Pumpkin Roll

As promised in an earlier post, I am back to report on my gluten free pumpkin roll. I normally make this for a friend's October birthday and sometimes again during the holidays. It is a little labor intensive and I am sure quite calorie laden so it is reserved as a treat. Besides, I am not supposed to eat it since it is made with flour.

However, we are having a Halloween party this weekend and I wanted to have a dessert that I could eat. So, I decided to try making the pumpkin roll gluten free. It couldn't have been easier and it couldn't have turned out any better!

How did I do it? I substituted Pamela's Baking and Pancake Mix for the flour. That's it! I have had such luck with using Pamela's mix that I am hesitant to even try other gluten free recipe variations. Thanks Pamela!

I can't wait to serve the pumpkin roll at our party and secretly know that it is gluten free because I am sure none of my guests will be able to tell. Happy Halloween!

Libby's Pumpkin Roll Recipe (modified to be gluten free)


* 1/4 cup powdered sugar (to sprinkle on towel)
* 3/4 cup Pamela's Baking and Pancake Mix
* 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
* 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
* 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
* 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
* 1/4 teaspoon salt
* 3 large eggs
* 1 cup granulated sugar
* 2/3 cup LIBBY'S® 100% Pure Pumpkin
* 1 cup walnuts, chopped (optional)
* 1 pkg. (8 oz.) cream cheese, at room temperature
* 1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
* 6 tablespoons butter or margarine, softened
* 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
* Powdered sugar (optional for decoration)

PREHEAT oven to 375° F. Grease 15 x 10-inch jelly-roll pan; line with wax paper. Grease and flour (with Pamela's mix) paper. Sprinkle a thin, cotton kitchen towel with powdered sugar.

COMBINE Pamela's mix, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves and salt in small bowl. Beat eggs and granulated sugar in large mixer bowl until thick. Beat in pumpkin. Stir in flour mixture. Spread evenly into prepared pan. Sprinkle with nuts.

BAKE for 13 to 15 minutes or until top of cake springs back when touched. (If using a dark-colored pan, begin checking for doneness at 11 minutes.) Immediately loosen and turn cake onto prepared towel. Carefully peel off paper. Roll up cake and towel together, starting with narrow end. Cool on wire rack.

BEAT cream cheese, 1 cup powdered sugar, butter and vanilla extract in small mixer bowl until smooth. Carefully unroll cake. Spread cream cheese mixture over cake. Reroll cake. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least one hour. Sprinkle with powdered sugar before serving, if desired.

Be sure to put enough powdered sugar on the towel when rolling up the cake so it will not stick.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Peanut Butter Cookies

I was having lunch with a friend last week and it was her birthday the next day. The restaurant gave her a peanut butter cookie to celebrate. She offered me a bite, but I didn't take any. I had managed to eat a salad for lunch and avoided gluten so I wasn't going to spoil it with a cookie. But it did make me crave peanut butter cookies.

So, this weekend I decided to bake some. As is my normal routine these days, I pulled out my trusty Betty Crocker cookbook recipe and simply used Pamela's Baking and Pancake mix instead of flour in the recipe. The cookies turned out GREAT! I don't think anyone could tell they were gluten free.

I have actually had a lot of luck using Pamela's mix, so much so, that I haven't been trying very many other gluten free recipes lately. I just dig out my old favorites and substitute for the flour.

The one recipe I haven't tried yet, pumpkin roll. The same friend mentioned above loves my pumpkin roll (pumpkin sponge cake with cream cheese filling rolled up in it). I think it is an old Libby's recipe. Anyway, I make it for her every year for her birthday, including this year. I always make it with regular flour as she isn't gluten free. But that also means I can't (or shouldn't) eat it.

Maybe this holiday season, I will get brave and try making the cake for myself using Pamela's mix - wouldn't it be great if it turned out just like the original only I could eat it? Well, maybe not -- I bet each slice has a zillion calories! I will let you know if I attempt it.

The other recipe I want to tackle this year? Gluten free Christmas cookies. I tried making them a couple of years ago when I first went gluten free and they were awful! But this year I got a yummy shortbread cookie recipe from GlutenFreeBaking.com. I actually received a batch of these cookies from the recipe author for making a donation to Bloggers Without Borders which was collecting money for fellow blogger In Jennie's Kitchen who recently and suddenly lost her husband. But I digress. I am very hopeful that I can adapt this shortbread recipe to work for my famous Christmas cookies. I miss them and so does my sister who also is gluten free. Wish me luck!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Diners, Drive-in and Dives

You know how a thought just comes to you? And you think, how obvious! And yet you hadn't ever really pondered it before? It happened to me last night.

I was watching some of the Diners, Drive-ins and Dives marathon on Food Network. It was the second to last day on my cleanse and I guess I wanted to watch someone else eat what I couldn't.

Suddenly, in the middle of one of the shows it hit me! I can't eat most of this stuff anyway - cleanse or no cleanse. First, I am a vegetarian (well, I do eat fish so I think that's officially a pescatarian). Anyone that has ever watched that show knows that most of the stuff highlighted is meat-based. But that wasn't what struck me. What struck me was how much of the food showcased had flour in it!

Now, as I have mentioned many times before, I am not a celiac and can enjoy wheat-based products once in a while with no adverse effects. It is only when I over-indulge that my symptoms return. Regardless, I do try to avoid wheat because I know my body doesn't like it.

No, what struck me was how difficult it must be for celiacs! Every dining out experience must feel like a grilling in a police confession to find out if there is wheat in the food. So many things are dredged in flour, or flour is used as a binding agent, is served on a bun, or was used to thicken a sauce. Plus, I am not even taking into account the issues of cross-contamination!

So, once again I am going to count my blessings! If a little wheat slips into my meal, it will be okay. For many people, it means hours or days of misery. In this case, misery does not love company.

I will watch Diners, Drive-ins and Dives again, if only as a reminder of what I shouldn't be eating - meat, fat, wheat, etc. After all, it is fun to watch isn't it?

Friday, September 9, 2011

The Detox Diet Challenge

I am on a nine day detox diet, trying to clear my liver of years and years of built up toxins. My phase II detoxification system doesn't work well and so I am trying to help my body along a little. This is the first time I have attempted this diet - I am not one to take kindly to being told what to do! The more you tell me I can't have something, the more I want it. But I was determined to give this a go.

Lucky for me, my hubby was willing to play along with me. He wants to lose a few pounds and has a sugar addiction so he thought this diet would support his goals. It is based off of the book, The 9-Day Liver Detox Diet by Patrick Holford. The premise is fairly simple: no sugar, dairy, wheat, or meat for nine days. Instead you rely on veggies, fruits, whole grains, nuts, seeds and fish plus lots of supporting supplements including a nasty super greens drink.

Today is day 5. Last night was hard. I wanted potato chips. I wanted cheese. I wanted chocolate. I wanted anything but the super greens drink I needed to get down. I wanted ketchup on my veggie loaf. I wanted to STOP washing, chopping and cookies veggies! I wanted to never have to wash another dish (and I like washing dishes)! I wanted this to be worth it in the end!

So, the morning of day five my husband weighed himself. He lost six pounds!! Yeah!! And he hadn't exercised this week because of circumstances beyond his control (holiday health club schedule, sick cat, etc.) Encouraged by his success, I stepped on the scale too. Yeah! I had lost, wait, GAINED two pounds! Seriously? All that spinach, kale, and quinoa and I had gained weight?

You know what? It is actually kind of okay with me. It just proves to me that my body isn't operating on all cylinders. It isn't as simple as calories in and calories out - at least with my body. The whole reason I am doing this cleanse is the reason why I can't lose weight - my body has dysfunctions at the cellular level.

My great lesson here is that I need to give myself a break. I am doing the best I can with the body I have. So, nope, I can't digest soy protein very well. And yep, sometimes when I eat too much wheat, my tummy doesn't feel good. I don't detoxify well and this causes extra liver stress. The list goes on and on.

When this nine days is over I am going to add back into my diet cheese and yogurt and sugar and gluten free bread and peanut butter and potato chips and enjoy them like never before.

Then I am going to congratulate myself for sticking it out. Say "good job" for eating healthy enough all these years to keep myself at a manageable weight. And then I am going to try to stop beating myself up over things I can't control - like my genetics.

Perhaps the biggest detoxifying effect of this diet will be the loss of the negative self-talk over my weight and my body's "issues". That's worth giving up cheese for nine days, right?

Thursday, August 25, 2011

A Perspective Through Sympathy

As much as I fight it, and as much as I hate to admit it, I can be a pessimist. I generally have a sunny attitude and a great sense of humor but my inner thoughts are usually plagued by "what if" and similar worse case scenario type thinking. I also often feel sorry for myself. This isn't the place to vent my sorry state of affairs but let's just say that I have enough going against me that it is sometimes hard to not create pity parties for myself.

Don't get me wrong, I also have a lot of great things in my life including a wonderful husband, three lovely cats, a beautiful home, an intelligent and curious brain, fun and dedicated friends, family that love me and so very much more. However, those things don't keep me from the pity parties in my mind.

What sometimes gets me to come home from one of those pity parties is a perspective. You know, a realization that while I don't always like eating gluten free, at least I can find and afford to buy gluten free products, plus I can eat gluten on occasion and be just fine. It also helps to think about all the good I have in my life and compare that to those that have so much less.

And so while I wanted to have an invitation only pity party recently, I didn't. Why? Because I have been following the story of Jennie a food blogger whose husband suddenly and unexpectedly died. You can read her blog at http://www.injennieskitchen.com/

My husband and I have been married for 25 years this year and dated for 4 years before that. Losing him is my greatest fear. We are a team and I don't know how I would negotiate this game called Life without my teammate. I am sure Jennie feels the same. And now she is living my nightmare.

I don't know Jennie and was only introduced to her through Shauna from Gluten Free Girl and the Chef but I love her already. For her honesty, her rawness, her optimism, her love of her husband and family, her style, and for many other things I can't identify.

I wanted to help Jennie but as a stranger thousands of miles away I didn't know how. Then I heard about Bloggers Without Borders a charity started by bloggers to help others. Their first mission, help Jennie with the financial mess she is now immersed in due to her husband's unexpected passing.

I donated and in exchange received shortbread cookies from a blogger donating them to the first 25 donors. Lots of other bloggers are auctioning items too. Consider donating. If you can. To help Jennie. Donate here.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

What's a Birthday Girl to Do?

I blew it big time last week while on vacation in Wisconsin visiting family - I ate too much gluten. I tried to be good and even brought along my own load of Udi's bread and hamburger buns (and ate them). But it is hard to avoid wheat in Wisconsin. The stores don't have many gluten free options (but I did find Udi's bread), we ate out a lot, and everything is deep fried. Pizza seems to be a meal staple. I avoided the yummy looking donuts, made my own gluten free pasta and strawberry shortcake, but the pizza and Friday fish fry were too much for me. And this week I have been paying the price.

So, I needed to get back on my wheat free plan. The problem is that my birthday is next week and the celebrating has begun. A friend invited me to dinner last night and wanted to provide me with a gluten free dessert. But I couldn't really direct her to any place to buy something as I make most of my own baked good. So, without her knowing, I made gluten free lemon bars and then called to tell her I had done so and she didn't need to worry about dessert. Bless her heart, she didn't want me to make my own birthday treat but I didn't want to eat wheat. By the way, the bars turned out awesome. Pamela's baking and pancake mix seems to work as a flour substitute in just about every recipe I have tried, including this one.

I then stared to worry about my actual birthday. I knew my husband would want to do something but what is more pathetic than a man trying to figure out where to find me gluten free birthday cake, or worse yet, trying to make it himself. So, while in Sunflower Market this week I saw a little chocolate gluten free cake from French Meadow. I haven't tried their cake before but am risking it for the chance to have a candle on a cake. I have tried and liked the company's brownies and chocolate chip cookies so I hope the cake falls into that category too.

Now if you will excuse me, I need to go eat another one of those gluten free lemon bars. And happy birthday to me!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Udi's GF Crust is an Artist's Palette

Last night I was starving, alone for the night and had no plans for dinner. I decided to pull an Udi's pizza crust out of the freezer and whip up dinner. Thanks to the fresh (and yummy) organic spinach from Mile High Organics, I had at least one topping set. After finding some cocktail shrimp in the freezer and using an open bottle of BBQ sauce instead of pizza sauce, I had a great dinner on the way. Thank goodness I also had just enough shredded Italian cheese blend to cover my creation.

But as I was eating my delish dinner and reading a magazine about health, I started to think about all the yummy gluten free options now available in stores. We are supposed to avoid processed foods and eat whole foods instead. Certainly all of these breads, pizza crusts, bagels, cookies, cakes, etc. are not healthy.

Then I started thinking about fiber. The fiber count of gluten free breads is nothing compared to the 100% whole wheat bread I used to eat. I think my fiber consumption is probably half of what it was before I gave up wheat. Should I supplement with fiber? I am trying to eat my fruits and veggies. Will that make up the whole grain difference?

What is healthy anyway. Every day I hear a new story about nutrition. One day potatoes are good for you - full of fiber and minerals. The next day we are told that the more potatoes we eat (cooked in any way) the fatter we become. One day we are told that complex carbs should account for 40% (or more) of our diet. The next day we are told that a Paleo diet (most meat and veggies with no grains) is the healthiest for our bodies.

I am so confused I don't know what to eat anymore. so I guess I will head to the frig and heat up my left over Udi's pizza. At least it tastes good.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Mile High Organics is Force Feeding Me!

My husband and I signed up for home delivery of fresh, organic fruits and vegetables offered by Mile High Organics (www.milehighorganics.com) a couple of weeks ago. We knew we needed to eat more fresh vegetables and wanted to eat organic, when we could. We decided that getting them delivered to the house every week was a great way to step it up.

We try not to waste food and so by having food delivered to our house we are kind of "forced" to eat it. So far, we are really liking it! Here's why:

1. We know the contents of our bin a week before it is delivered on Tuesday. So, we can customize our menu plan for the coming week by incorporating those items that will be arriving. We normally grocery shop on Sunday so this works out great.

2. We have been trying to stick with the items pre-selected in the bin (except when we have excess or really hate something) so that we are forced to try new things or eat things that we normally wouldn't purchase.

3. We are actually saving money in our grocery budget (even after calculating in the cost of Mile High Organics) because we are doing a better job of menu planning and not just going to the grocery store and buying random items that don't always work together.

4. We know we are eating organic, high quality produce that is sourced locally when possible, and are eating more of it.

5. It is fun to come home on Tuesday and find our bin of produce waiting for us on the front porch!

We are still new to this so perhaps once the novelty wears off we won't like it as much or revert back into old shopping habits. But for now, it is a fun and healthy option for our meals.

What's An Animal Lover to Do?

I have been waging a battle in my brain for months now. Both sides are not playing fair and I wonder if the war will ever be over. What's this all about? Eating animals.

I LOVE animals of all kinds. I have a catch and release program in my house for most bug removal. We foster kittens, getting them ready to be adopted. Most of my charitable donations (outside of disaster relief) go to animal organizations. I stopped eating air breathing animals about 22 years ago. I kept fish in my diet because it was hard to always find a vegetarian dish on restaurant and banquet menus (especially 20 years ago).

I flourished as a vegetarian, especially as new and yummy vegetarian items started hitting the market. I was a lover of everything Morningstar Farm, including veggie burgers and sausage patties. I am one of the rare few that actually enjoys tofu.

Then it happened about four years ago . . . I developed an intolerance to soy! Was it because I was eating too much of it? Maybe. But that didn't really matter. When I ate it, I got stomach aches. So, I stopped eating soy AND grieved the loss deeply. I felt better immediately and found a way to adjust by eating fish more than I normally did.

But that wasn't the end. About two years ago I started having similar stomach issues again. I wasn't eating soy so what was going on? Wheat. This time my body was rejecting wheat. I decided to test its elimination and sure enough I started feeling better. Yikes, what's a vegetarian to do when she can't eat soy or wheat? To add insult to injury, my doctor ran an IgG test recently and it shows I am also "allergic" to eggs, even though I notice nothing when I eat them.

That brings me to my dilemma. My life would be a lot easier if I ate meat. Eating in a restaurant (which we do regularly as part of our social life) is often a problem. Eating at home has become a creative nightmare. Being able to order a salad with a chicken breast or a bunless burger would be so easy, right?

Well, for me it isn't so easy because I am having a hard time wrapping my head around eating animals. Ethically. Add to that dilemma is the health issue side of it. Right now my cholesterol is more than perfect. If I started eating meat, would I also start having problems with that? Would my digestive system accept meat? Would I get colon cancer? The messages are so confusing.

So for now, I am hungry a lot, eating too many nuts and dairy and gluten free bread. I am praying that I don't develop an intolerance to those too. I suffer by eating beans (no digestive enzyme seems to help). And I wage a war in my head about what's best. This is my second post on this topic so obviously the war is raging on.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Tasty Gluten Free Tortilla - An Oxymoron?

Have you found a tasty gluten free tortilla that had a texture other than gummy or crumbly? I haven't. But I really do miss tortillas. They make a great sandwich wrap, are perfect for fajitas and do I even need to mention quesadillas? I miss them all.

Last night I went out for dinner and ordered fajitas with corn tortillas. The fajitas were good but as usual the corn tortillas fell apart in my hands.

I have learned at home that if I toast the corn tortillas in a pan for a few minutes, they will hold up a little longer than just microwaving them. And if I fry them in grapeseed oil they make the BEST tostadas. But corn tortillas are NOT good for a wrap sandwich and I have to admit, I don't like quesadillas made with corn tortillas either.

With Summer upon me, I find myself once again looking for a tortilla wrap. I am hoping that Udi's or Rudi's solves this dilemma for me, and soon.

Update: April 14, 2012
Rudi's has come out with gluten free tortillas. I bought some plain ones at a special demo at Costco and I am happy to report they are pretty good. They dry out easily and have a weird "sour" taste to them but they are better than anything else I have tried. I even put them in the freezer and now pull them out when I need them. That worked just fine. Rudi's is rolling them out now so I would imagine they will be hard to find for the next few months but hopefully soon they will be widely available! A wrap sandwich will be a great summer treat!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Sam Mills Corn Pasta (in my purse)

Last night I went to a spaghetti dinner fundraiser for Tails of Woe (www.tailsofwoe.org), a wonderful organization that raises money to help for vet bills when families can't afford expensive veterinary care for their pets. I knew I shouldn't eat the pasta so I decided to cook up my own and bring it with me.

About two weeks ago, I discovered Sam Mills Corn Pasta as Costco and I bought it. So I cooked some up about a half an hour before I needed to leave for the dinner. Then I tossed it with a little olive oil and put it in a Ziploc bag to stash in my purse. My friends were laughing at me carrying cooked pasta in my purse, but it worked out perfectly. I simply ordered the sauce on the side with an empty bowl. I skipped the garlic bread and ate my pasta.

It proved to me that I don't have to miss out on events or be naughty and eat gluten when I know I shouldn't. I just have to be willing to carry pasta in my purse!

By the way, the corn pasta is really good. It now ranks up there with quinoa pasta in my book. I hope I don't have to eat rice pasta again (even though I know I will)!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

WHAT? am I going to eat

I just got some test results back. No surprise, I have high IGG blood test results for wheat and soy, meaning I have food allergies for those two foods. When I eat too much of either, my digestive tract pays the price. What happens when I eat just a little? Well, it doesn't cause me any visible distress, but is there a hidden price I am paying?

The problem is that I don't sense anything when I occasionally indulge in a slice of pizza or a veggie burger. It is hard to avoid wheat and soy when there isn't an immediate consequence.

And that brings me to my new dilemma. I just found out that I am also allergic to eggs! WHAT am I going to eat now? I am a vegetarian that eats fish (technically a pescetarian) but now can't eat wheat, soy or eggs. All of my staple foods are gone except for dairy! Fortunately for me, all of my dairy markers came back negative! As a girl from Wisconsin it is hard to fathom giving up cheese!

The other part of this dilemma is that I do not notice ANY reaction to eggs when I eat them. Ironically I have never been a huge egg fan. I can't eat them for breakfast as they gross me out but I would eat them in restaurants and sometimes for dinner at home. I think I can give up eating what I call "overt eggs" pretty easily. The problem for me is that eggs are seemingly in everything including all of the gluten free breads I have looked at including Rudi's and Udi's. I can't imagine giving those up. Plus, I love to bake and let's face it, baking gluten free is enough of a challenge without throwing in the added obstacle of baking with no eggs!

So, after a consultation with my doctor on Monday, I am going to have to decide the impact of still eating those hidden eggs in products, versus trying to not eat ANY eggs and still be a vegetarian.

Those pesky ethics that are keeping me from eating meat! I often wonder how much easier my life would be if I ate meat? Especially when traveling and dining out. Menus always boast a host of salads with a chicken breast on them. A steak, baked potato and steamed broccoli - easy. If it only were easy for me. But even eating meat doesn't solve my bread and baking with eggs issue.

So, I am left to ponder . . . WHAT am I going to eat?

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Nature Valley Granola Thins

Aside from being able to eat pizza and sandwiches in restaurants (I can easily make these things gluten free at home) I think I miss treats the most. Cookies, cakes, pies, donuts, etc. It somehow seems cruel to take these away from us, even though no one should be eating much of them anyway.

This week I found a new treat to enjoy - Nature Valley Granola Thins. Now, it is not labeled gluten free so if you are either a highly sensitive gluten intolerant or celiac (they have malt extract) you may not be able to enjoy them. They are made with oats and rice flour.

If you are a fan of the Girl Scout peanut butter sandwich cookie Do-Si-Dos, you will enjoy the peanut butter flavor. I found them very similar in flavor and texture to the Girl Scout variety. There are also dark chocolate flavored thins which are tasty too.

Each package of one thin is individually wrapped and just 80 or 90 calories (depending upon which flavor you choose). I don't know about you, but portion control is a big issue so I like that I am not tempted to stick my hand in a box and eat one after another!

If you want more information, here is the website: http://www.naturevalley.com/ProductDetail.aspx?ProductId=37

P.S. I am in no way affiliated with Nature Valley, nor did I receive free product to sample. My sister told me about them, I ran to the store and bought them and loved them!

P.P.S. There was a coupon in today's Sunday paper for them!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Gluten Free Girl and the Chef

I am still raving about the Almond Quick Bread I made last week based off of a recipe posted on Gluten Free Girl and the Chef (http://glutenfreegirl.com/). She (Shauna) posted the recipe for Lemon Poppy Seed Quick Bread and I knew I HAD to make it right away.

I went to my kitchen and realized that not only did I not have any lemons, I also didn't have poppy seeds. Undeterred, I decided to modify the recipe using almond extract instead of lemon zest and ground flax seeds instead of poppy seeds.

It was quite literally one of the best tasting things I have ever made -- gluten free or not. My only issue was that it fell apart upon slicing so it really was easier to eat with a fork. I may need to experiment with my flour blend to find a combination that is more binding. It didn't matter to me though because it tasted so good - even my hubby enjoyed it!

I have since eaten it for breakfast, snacks and last night, with sliced strawberries mascerated in a little agave nectar. Oh my was that a good combination!

This success has inspired me to search around for more recipes I can't wait to try. Elana from Elana's Pantry (http://www.elanaspantry.com/) always inspires me with great recipes (I also have her cookbook and have her new cupcake one on my Amazon wish list) and just today I found a coconut lemon bar recipe from Simply Sugar and Gluten Free (http://www.simplysugarandglutenfree.com/). I have yet to try it (I still don't have lemons in the house!) but I will soon as I am a sucker for lemon AND coconut. In the process I also discovered Gluten Hates Me (http://www.glutenhatesme.com/), a fun blog on being gluten free.

I guess what I am trying to say, is thank you to the online gluten free community for your support, recipes, information and ideas. I am so glad I am not doing this alone!

P.S. Shauna, I am planning on trying the parchment wrapped halibut and asparagus this coming weekend. I love halibut but it is a little pricey for me right now. I saw Costco had fresh cod this past weekend so I will be going back to buy some to use instead. Thanks again for the inspiration!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Thanks Glutino!

I wrote in my previous post about shopping at different locations for different products. One product line that is worth a special trip to a store is Glutino. I started eating Glutino crackers when a friend offered me a cracker one day. It reminded me of dense saltine crackers -- certainly very different from those awful, (in my opinion) gummy rice crackers.

I have since discovered several beloved Glutino products including the lemon wafer cookies, regular pretzels, yogurt covered pretzels, and cheddar cheese crackers. Not everything Glutino is a success in my book. For instance, I hate the breakfast bars but then again I don't really like the gluten filled breakfast bars either.

I haven't tried any of the Glutino bread because Udi's and Rudi's make me happy. And I haven't tried any of the gluten free frozen entrees that have meat (because I eat vegetarian/fish only). The one I did try, the mac-n-cheese, wasn't as good as the Amy's frozen mac-n-cheese dinner as I found the Glutino noodles too al dente and the cheese sauce a little lackluster. But it is a reasonable option if that's all you can find.

That said, I am grateful to Glutino's for their many gluten free products. Because of them, it is so much easier for me to be able to enjoy being "normal" by having cheese and crackers or pretzels. If you haven't tried Glutino or would like more information about their products you can visit their website at: http://www.glutino.com/ or visit www.amazon.com and search Glutino because many of their items are sold on Amazon.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

A Plethora of Gluten Free Items . . .

but no one store has them all. I am so grateful for the new gluten free items available in the marketplace. Even a year and a half ago, my choices were limited and not necessarily good.

Today, I can find such a wide variety of items it is almost mind boggling. There is gluten free bread (and GOOD bread), cookies, pasta, frozen dinners, muffins, bagels, waffles, cakes, tortillas, pizza, pretzels and so much more! Yum.

I was delighted when shopping at Whole Foods today and found the new chocolate and yogurt covered pretzels from Glutino. I had seem them on the Internet but mistakenly assumed that I wouldn't find them locally. But that joy soon turned to disappointment when I realized that Whole Foods didn't carry Dr. Praeger's gluten free fish sticks. They were on my shopping list and I had hoped to get everything I needed for the week in one stop. Instead, I now needed to also stop at Vitamin Cottage if I wanted fish sticks this week.

After I had complimented King Soopers on its selection of gluten free items on a comment card, a manager called me to thank me and find out what else they could do to make my shopping easier. She said they wanted to carry more items for people like me so we didn't have to shop at multiple stores. And while I greatly appreciated that call, I now realize that it may never be possible to get everything I want and need in one store.

I love the Out of the Bread Box hamburger buns that I get at Vitamin Cottage but Whole Foods and King Soopers don't carry them. Same for those previously mentioned fish sticks. But Whole Foods has a really large selection of Glutino products, carrying many more than the other stores.

King Soopers is our grocery store of choice for its everyday prices and ability to buy "regular" grocery store items like Coke, Lay's Naturals, Colgate toothpaste, and Skippy Natural Peanut Butter. Luckily the store also has a nice selection of Udi's products, Rudi's breads, waffles and other gluten free "essentials" so I can do my weekly shopping at King Soopers. This means I can stop at Vitamin Cottage and Whole Foods less frequently saving me time and money (who can get out of Whole Foods for less than $100 anyway?)

Look at me! Complaining because I have too many places to shop with too many great gluten free items. So instead I say THANK YOU King Soopers, Whole Foods and Vitamin Cottage for supporting my gluten free needs!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Udi's Versus Rudi's

I was thrilled when I discovered Udi's gluten free bread. It toasted up so well that you couldn't tell it was gluten free. It also made brilliant grilled cheese sandwiches. I am still not a fan of cold sandwiches made on gluten free bread (too dry and crumbly) but eat it eagerly at Whole Food Market in Belmar where I get Udi's bread for the "Green Mountain" sandwich (pesto, sundried tomatoes, portobello mushrooms, and cheese).

I even bought a bunch to give to my sister who lives in rural Wisconsin and has trouble finding gluten free products (note: we are both gluten intolerant, not celiac). She LOVED it. I think she almost cried the first time she made toast and it was so good.

Then along came Rudi's gluten free bread. I first tasted it at a gluten free expo at the Jefferson County Fairgrounds in the summer of 2010. They were giving out whole loaves of bread to take home. I got a white loaf and my hubby nabbed a cinnamon raisin.

Uh oh! This bread is good. And I love cinnamon raisin bread. Udi's doesn't have cinnamon raisin bread. Then I noticed that the slices seem slightly larger - closer to a regular sandwich size. And I wasn't bothered with those pesky holes that kept showing up in Udi's bread.

Now I feel torn between the two companies. I will buy whatever product I have a coupon for, or is on sale, but what should I do when I can't get a discount? I am still very grateful to Udi's because they have bagels and pizza crust and cinnamon rolls and muffins and now COOKIES! So why do I feel guilty when I buy a loaf of Rudi's bread instead?

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Going Gluten Free in Mexico

We are just back from a trip to Mexico. We love to go in January, just after the holidays. And it was great, as always. This time I had to figure out how to incorporate a mostly gluten free diet into my week.

I took with me gluten free crackers, instant oatmeal, peanut butter and a loaf of Rudi's gluten free bread. I had no problems with customs. I was told by an ex-patriot that they don't much care except for meat and fruit products so long as they are unopened and in original packaging.

Since we were staying in a condo, cooking for ourselves was easy. There was a new grocery store near where we were staying and I was able to buy yogurt, cheese and bananas. Breakfast was either oatmeal and a banana, or yogurt with peanut butter toast. So lunch every day was a grilled cheese sandwich. I eat them often at home so it was fine by me.

Eating out dinner was easy too because I ate fresh fish and sauteed veggies almost every night. I found a Thai restaurant that served the best Pad Thai - what a treat! One night, I broke down and we ordered pizza. It wasn't that great so I wasn't tempted to eat more than two slices.

The hardest thing was avoiding the bakery items. They have great bakery products in Mexico and my family liberally indulged. It was hard not being able to eat anything. But then again, I avoided the extra calories! Next time, I will likely bring some gluten free cookies so I can have a little treat too.

Traveling is hard when trying to eat gluten free. It is complicated by a language barrier. But I am proud of myself for doing so well!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

New Year, New Restaurants

I can't believe how long it has been since I last blogged on this site. Sorry. Those holidays tend to distract me! While enjoying the frenzy of the season, I did have the opportunity to enjoy some great gluten free food.

First, I dined at Snooze. I didn't ask for a gluten free menu figuring it was futile. I just ordered eggs and hashbrowns. But when I declined the toast because I don't eat gluten, the waitress kindly told me that they have gluten free toast. Yeah! I have since learned that Snooze also has gluten free pancakes and can make most dishes gluten free. I can't wait to go back and try the pineapple upside down pancakes gluten free. I had eaten them years ago made traditionally and they were yummy.

I also had a lovely dinner at Rioja in Larimer Square. I didn't eat the yummy rolls that came to our table several times but instead enjoyed the best beet salad I have ever had and a tasty fish entree. When it came time for dessert I assumed I would have to pass but I was wrong. They have a couple of desserts that are gluten free (or can be made that way). They have sorbet and gelato which are gluten free. But I am not much of an ice cream fan so I passed on those. They also have a "smores" dessert that is gluten free if you leave off the graham cracker. My husband has had this before and I can say that it would be a totally satisfying dessert even without the cracker. I settled on the peanut butter and jelly dessert. I can't explain it but it was in several different components - all gluten free. Thanks Rioja!

The last thing I want to mention is one of my own cooking adventures. I made cheesecake for dessert on Christmas Eve and it turned out great with a gluten free crust. I used the Pilleadelphia cream cheese recipe for the cake part but found a recipe on the Internet for gluten free crust. I used my own mixture of Pamela's baking mix, coconut flour and almond flour (approximately 1 1/2 cups Pamela's and 1/4 cup each coconut and almond flours) to make the crust. My gluten eating friends had no idea it was gluten free. By the way, I have used this flour mixture successfully to make Nestle Tollhouse bars, banana bread and other baked goods.

That's all for now. I will try to check in sooner with my gluten free success stories. Happy New Year!