Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Chicago Gluten & Allergen Free Expo Review Part 1

The Gluten and Allergen Free Expo is the best thing ever. Seriously. Imagine being able to visit over 150 food vendors and know that ALL of them are gluten free. They even go one step further and separate the booths that are peanut free as well!

But really, this expo is about WAY more than the food. This is a chance to not only try the food, but meet the people and hearts behind the products. I fell in love with so many products not so much for the product, but because of the people behind them. These are the people who work and strive so hard to make sure that we can eat safely again!

For example, the men behind Gluten Free For Men barbecue sauce rock! Their enthusiasm is contagious!
Nichole Thomas from Virtuous Living has such passion and genuine love in her heart that you could just sit down all day and talk to her. Talking to Monique Prato from Bumbalooza was a blessing as well, and I loved hearing about her family and the mission of her company. What she's doing is worth buzzing about!
Then there's the founders of Lia P's Gluten Free, who let me take a seat to rest my tired feet, and told me the story behind the name. Totally touching and memorable. (Her chocolate brownies are great too!)

Plus, I had a chance to interview two companies, Smart Flour and Grab the Gold. I will be sharing separate blog posts later to highlight these two wonderful companies.

It was also great to see Michigan companies get some larger press. Ethel's Edibles was a huge hit (and rightly so!), and I know I LOVED the Gluten Free Delights Stuffed Sandwiches. It's always a pleasure to see Mr. Mattison from Cecelia's Marketplace Gluten Free Grocery Shopping Guide. So honored that he actually remembered my face and name. (But seriously, everyone needs one of these books. They even have an IPhone App!)
And I LOVE the Swanson family from Full Flavor Foods. Seriously, I do. They feel like family, and treat you like you are! (And their mushroom sauce is PERFECT for green bean casserole!)
So looking forward to seeing them again at the Grand Rapids GF Fair on May 17th.

As if the food wasn't enough, then there are fellow bloggers who all combine in one place and open their hearts and arms to embrace you. People from all over the country who unite to bring about gluten free awareness and to help so many people while they're at it. I was so honored to be in their presence.

But there are definitely some foods that you need to hear about. While I sampled pocket sandwiches, cookies, cakes, chips, breads and so many more foods than I can totally recall, there are some that made me do my happy dance. Literally. In the middle of the aisle. Like a dancing fool. :) I must have been so in awe of their amazing "ness", as I failed to take any pics of the food or of the amazing team. So any of the following pics are taken from online sites.

Disclaimer- I DID NOT take this picture. This is from their Facebook page. Somehow I epic
 failed to get a pic of the amazing people and product at this booth!

I think pretty much everyone one I know thinks Hope Foods were the best thing since sliced gluten free bread at the expo. Seriously. The may three different items: lentil dips, hummus dips, and chocolate dips. You may be thinking, yeah I've had hummus before. Not these you haven't, and not in these flavors. Thai Curry, Jalapeno Cilantro, and Red Pepper Balsamic are just a FEW of their creative flavors. And the Lentil Dips, wow. I bought the Rosemary Olive Oil, but would love to try their other flavors like Curry and Miso Ginger, plus more.
And the Chocolate Dip. There are no words in the English lexicon to totally sum up the deliciousness that is their Dark Chocolate Dip. And it comes in three different dairy free, low glycemic flavors. Three lovely, voluptuous and  scrumptious flavors. Nutella, you have been officially dismissed.

I love Coconut Bliss. I was a frequent visitor to their booth this weekend, hoping that each time I came by they were sampling another flavor. And they were! At first, I wasn't sure how I would like this dairy free "ice cream" made from coconut milk. It tastes EXACTLY like ice cream. I don't know what they do to get that wonderful texture, but I'm willing to say goodbye to regular ice cream for the rest of my life. Their Ginger Cookie Caramel, which is made with Pamela's Ginger Snaps. Their Cappuccino is delicious and their Salted Caramel & Chocolate is "Shut  The Front Door" amazing. The cream portion is light and airy, allowing the flavor to come through. I have a feeling I may be a much more frequent customer to my local health food store now that I know that they are there!

Again, taken from the companies Facebook page. I didn't take this. 

Honey Acres is a business located in Wisconsin that is family owned and operated since 1852. But this company doesn't just sell honey. Their pot of gold is their Honey Mints. Imagine a York Peppermint patty, but one made with only 3 simple ingredients, all which you can pronounce, and dairy free. I bought a box and am keeping it in my freezer. Their great cold, plus if their out of sight I might prevent myself from eating the whold box in one sitting. And not only are the chocolates great, so are the people working for them. They are the type of people that I could hang out with, and someday I hope to go to Wisconsin to see their facilities in person!

There is so much more to share, but it will have to wait until another day. Stay tuned for another installment in a few days. In the meantime, #eatfreely!

Gluten Free Beer Review from the Chicago GFAF Expo

I don't like beer. Ever since a young child when I accidentally took a swig of my dad's beer, thinking I had grabbed my pop, beer has left a bad taste in my mouth. I even tried it again once in college - Natural Ice - which was not any better. (Cider is a whole other issue- I tried the Angry Orchard Crisp Apple while at a friend's which was very enjoyable!)

So when I noticed that there were going to be multiple beer vendors at the Chicago Gluten & Allergy Free Expo, I decided to enlist the help of someone who likes beer. Mr. MIGlutenFreeGal took one for the team and tried all of the beers at the expo. Here are his thoughts-

"Since MIGlutenFreeGal was an official blogger at the Chicago GFAFexpo, but doesn’t drink beer, I was selected to be this website’s unofficial guest blogger for beer tasting.  There were several different vendors who had tastings of their gluten-free and gluten-removed beers (more on gluten removal later).

I want to start with several disclaimers.   First of all, I do not have celiac disease, and do not eat gluten-free most of the time.   I am not an expert on beer,  I don’t drink much beer, and I have particular tastes for what beer I do drink.  If you want to know which is the best IPA, I’m not the guy to ask.  I tend to like reds, stouts, and bocks.  I will try to give my overall impressions of each beer, and my opinions about which I would drink if I had celiac disease or gluten-intolerance.

Omission Beer is a gluten-removed beer, brewed from barley malt and treated with brewers’ clarex to cut the proteins into smaller peptide chains that supposedly aren’t toxic to people who react negatively to gluten.  According to the rep at the expo, there are 31 toxic peptide chains that have been identified, and Omission is tested to make sure it does not include those, using both ELISA and mass-spec testing.  She even told me the process had been reviewed by a chemistry journal.

I have heard about this, and know that some celiacs are furious that a barley based product is being marketed as gluten-free, or sometimes the company uses oddly worded disclaimers to avoid legal definitions of “gluten-free”  So I tried to look up the journal article, and while I didn’t do particularly well in chemistry, I had studied some in college decades ago.  I was a little surprised by what I read in the abstract that I found at the ASBCJ.  It said that there was no detectable gluten, “However, definitive evidence of the safety of treated beer for celiacs ideally requires a double-blind crossover, dietary challenge.” And also “The effect of protease treatments on the safety of treated gluten for the remainder the celiac-like diseases, ... cannot be definitively assessed until the epitopes involved have been defined.”

I also checked out an article that was posted on the Omission Beer website to see if there was something newer and more definitive about the safety of their process.  You can read it yourself if you want, but frankly, it didn’t do anything to encourage me.  The most surprising- and to me, most telling- finding was that many of the commercially available beers on the market would already qualify as gluten-free using the ELISA test.  There are undetectable amounts of gluten in the non-craft, commercially available beers that were tested as part of the study.  If those types of beers cause you to have a negative reaction, keep that in mind when deciding whether or not to try a gluten-removed beer.

Now, as far as taste, I didn’t think it was anything special.  The lager style beer I tasted was like an American lager, because it is- barley malt and everything.  If you like Bud or Coors, you may enjoy this.  I know I probably insulted someone by lumping those two together, but to me lagers come in two types - tolerable and bad, and this was tolerable. The Pale Ale was very bitter.  I like strong flavors, but this was a bit much for me.  It also lacked body, which was a little disappointing in such a bitter beer..

Green’s Gluten Free Beer was also there.  I really enjoyed the beer I tasted.  I now wish I had taken better notes about this one, because I didn’t write down my specific thoughts, or even which product I tasted.  I have since seen that others who have reviewed gluten-free beers consider Green’s some of the best.  This company makes both naturally gluten-free beer and beers that have had the gluten removed chemically.  Be careful, and make an informed decision for yourself if you choose to drink a gluten-removed beer.

I know that the beer I tasted was naturally gluten-free, and based on what my tastes are, it was probably the Discovery Amber Ale.  If you like slightly sweet amber ales, this is a good choice.  If I were to go with a gluten-free beer for myself, this is probably the one.

The next company I tasted was New Planet.  They were tolerable beers.  I tried the Amber and Blonde ales.  They were very hoppy.  It seemed to have a lot of hops flavor, even without being extremely bitter.  I don’t personally care for that, so it was a little off-putting to me.  Another thing that I noticed is that they both lacked much bouquet, and had very little flavor on the back end.  This is something that I’ve experienced with other commercially brewed, sorghum based beers.  They just taste thin.

The same booth was also serving samples of the Spanish produced Estrella Damm Daura gluten-removed beer.  They make a big deal about the fact that they test the beer to have less than 3 ppm gluten in it.  I did not think this was a particularly good beer.  It had some light, fruity notes in the flavor.  I was surprised at how light the body of this beer was, since it is brewed from malted barley and not sorghum or rice.  It was also more hoppy than I tend to appreciate in a lager.  Please take note, this is a gluten-removed beer, not naturally gluten-free.

The last beer on my list is the Bard’s Tale Beer.  This was an exciting find, because it is a naturally gluten-free lager style beer that is made from malted grain.  How do they do that?  They malt their sorghum, and the difference shows up in the flavor.  I thought this one had a good, full lager flavor that I hadn’t tasted in any other naturally gluten-free beers.  Besides Bard’s, all of the other sorghum based beer I have ever tasted had a thinness, a lack of body and back end flavor.


I ended up having a good conversation with Brian Bizer, one of the executives at Bard’s, who thoroughly explained their process to me.  They even go so far as to buy the sorghum direct from the farmer to avoid cross contamination in shipping.  According to Brian, they use their hops to achieve 18 bitterness units (which didn’t mean much to me), while some other breweries add more to try to cover flaws in the beer.  When he said that, it was like a light bulb went off for me.  That’s why those thin beers I tried were so hoppy!  He’s also very honest.  His advice is to drink the cheapest beer you like.  Bard’s is not cheap, but it’s also not particularly expensive for a craft-beer, and it’s naturally gluten-free."

So, my overall recommendations are:
Lager:  Bard’s Beer
Ale: Green’s Discovery
Gluten-removed Beer: Be very cautious of any of them!


Bradlee (Mr. MIGlutenFreeGal)

Sunday, March 30, 2014

March 2014 Love It Like It Leave It

With restricting my purchases during the season of lent, I haven't really tried many new products. My new products to review are the Delallo gluten free gnocchi and Hodgson Mills Gluten Free Multipurpose Baking Mix. In my opinion, these are both "Like Its." They probably won't be a regular item to add to my shopping list, but they're handy once in a while. 

This gnocchi is made in a dedicated gluten free facility in Italy. They are made with 85% potato, and the remainder is rice flour. They cook very quickly- 4 minutes total! First you boil them in a large pot of water for 2 minutes, until they all lovingly float to the top. (Which is kind of fun to watch!) Then cook them for 2 minutes in your sauce and you have a meal! Delallo's suggestions for sauces- brown butter & sage, sun dried tomato & asiago, lemon cream sauce with spinach & peas, or butternut squash with pine nuts & balsalmic vinegar. All of those sound tasty! We decided to just make a tomato sauce with a bunch of veggies.

The box says one serving is 1 cup and 250 calories. I chose to change that to 2/3 of a cup which would be about 160 calories, which is two starch exchanges. Brad got to take the leftover serving for lunch today with some lemon pepper chicken.

Because I didn't grow up eating gnocchi, and had never had it before being gluten free, I don't have a good realm of comparison. These were actually really good, but I've been spoiled by the sweet potato gnocchi we made a few years ago for Christmas. It was way awesome. It was also way sticky, and my husband is way cool for making them all by hand. But you should definitely try the recipe.

I bought this the other day because I was looking for buckwheat flour for pancakes. I found two different flours while at Horrock's, but neither were certified gluten free. After hearing about massive cross contamination of flours at last year's Celiac Conference in Columbus, I've learned to make sure that all of my flours are certified gluten free. When I found this mix, I thought I would try it. It wasn't terribly expensive, and it is made with LOADS of whole grains. The ingredient list: Whole Grain Millet Flour, Whole Grain Sorghum Flour, Whole Grain Brown Rice Flour, Xanthum Gum. Holy Whole Grains Batman!

To be honest, my husband made breakfast this morning. He followed the recipe on the box that was supposed to make 6-8 pancakes. He managed to get 9 pancakes that weighed 1.75 ounces a piece. So, about 16 oz. of batter. The main ingredients to add were 1 cup flour, 1 egg, 3/4 c. milk, and a tbsp. of oil. (Along with some salt, sugar, and baking powder.) 

They were pretty tasty but it had an after taste that reminded us of slightly rancid oil. I say this carefully, because I don't think it was rancid. I think it was just because we're not used to millet and sorghum flours. I'm sure if we cooked with these flours more often, it would be different. The pancakes were perfectly fine smeared with peanut butter and drizzle of Mrs. Butterworth's syrup. 

When I asked my husband how he felt about them, he basically summed it up this way. When it comes to pancakes, his favorites "stack" up like this: 
Buckwheat Pancakes
Bake It Best Pancakes
Regular Flour Pancakes
(because he doesn't have to eat gluten free)
and the rest are all down hill from there. 

As far as things I really LOVED this month, I made a great beef and broccoli recipe that was OUT OF THIS WORLD! I made it for the men at My Brother's Keeper homeless shelter, along with fresh pineapple and a side salad. It was definitely a winner. If you live in the greater Flint area, please consider serving at this ministry. We are trying to find area churches to serve there once a month. These men are hungry for healthy food, good friendship, and a deep understanding of the Bible. And they hold a special place in my heart. 

The biggest trick for this recipe was using REALLY thin beef. What we used was beef cut for "milanesa."
The other thing that I did was marinate the meat for a few hours in the soy sauce & water mixed with ginger and garlic powders. THEN I put the meat in the oven, covered, at a low temperature for a few hours. I think I put it at 300 for about 2 hours. (Then again, I had 12 lbs of meat, so if you're making it for yourself, it may take A LOT less time.) Once it had cooked, I drained the juice into a pot on the stove and thickened it with corn starch. We cooked the onions, broccoli, and some green peppers separately (in butter) on the stove top, then added it to the finished meat. It may honestly be the best thing I've ever made in my life. I failed to take a picture- sorry. :) So I'll share one from the Food.com website to stimulate your appetite. 

With this recipe, I will never have to miss Chinese food again.  I'm going to plug the recipe into the Curves recipe analyzer to make it at home! 

March 2014 Support Group Meeting Recipes

At our most recent support group meeting we had some generous donations. Bakery on Main and No Nuttin' Foods sent us samples that we shared and distributed to our members. Bob's Red Mill also sent me a package of their new Gluten Free Pie Crust mix.

First of all I want to give a HUGE thank you to Bob's Red Mill. This company has been my go-to for just about everything for over a decade now. They recently came out with their new pie crust mix, which I was so excited to try. But I couldn't find it anywhere near me in Flint. So I thought I would use the power of social media and reach out to them via Facebook to ask nicely if they might send me a package.
Enter, Cassidy Stockton, Social Media Manager for Bob's Red Mill, who graciously accepted my request and immediately sent a package to me in the mail. Thanks you Cassidy!!!!

I intentionally made the pie crust mix for our support group meeting so that other members could try it. I found a great recipe for a "quiche" that is made in a jelly roll pan, and thought this crust would work perfectly. (FYI- It did!) To make things easier, I simply placed the mixed dough in my jelly roll pan, which was lined with parchment, and used my Pampered Chef roller to roll the crust into the pan.
Above photo and one below were not taken by me. 

Unfortunately, I didn't get a picture of the finished product. I was busy and trying to get out support group meeting started. I will say that everyone liked it. I LOVED it. I think I had 3-4 pieces. This mix was very easy to use. I hope you can find it somewhere near you. I just spotted it at Horrock's in Lansing the other day. 

I also made a pumpkin roll was from the Bake It Best cookbook. The author, Linda Fedewa, was also our guest speaker that day. Although my pumpkin roll was not as beautiful as it could have been, Linda said that it tasted wonderful. Every one else really loved it too! Linda demonstrated how to make a pie crust with her mix while at our meeting. You can see the video here. You can also find out more about her company at http://www.bakeitbest.com/ 

I also made a third recipe. I want to comment quickly that, if you do come to one of our meetings, you don't have to bring so many things. I was just in a creative baking mood. Also, the French Toast Casserole I made with Udi's bread that I was able to get SUPER cheap. This was because it was on clearance, plus I had a $2 coupon. There are also a few members who have to eat dairy free, so I wanted to make sure they had something to eat as well. It must have been good, because there weren't any leftovers.

Photo taken from Udi's website

I followed the recipe on Udi's website, but with a few minor changes. I did not use their cinnamon raisin bread, but their white sandwich bread instead. While I did use coconut milk, it was the canned type, which is unsweetened. My husband really put this together for me, so he added some maple syrup to the mix. He did refrigerate it overnight. In the morning, I pushed all the bread pieces down to make sure they were moist. It seemed a bit dry, so I added another 1/2 cup of almond milk. I baked it for the time they suggested and it came out perfectly. We served it with some REAL maple syrup, and it was a huge hit. I highly suggest making it. Actually, I have another loaf of Udi's bread in the freezer that I'm saving so I can make it again!

Friday, March 28, 2014

Sahale Snacks

I had a really nice thing happen. I had written my monthly "Love It, Like It, Leave It" blog post, and I had mentioned a specific Sahale Snacks product that I didn't like. Somehow, Sahale Snacks saw my comment (as I didn't even send it to them) and they contacted me. That's some pretty attentive customer service in my opinion! Not only did they contact me, they sent me 10 free product coupons, one for each of the major bags that they sell. 

So before I talk about the individual products, a little info about the products in general. Sahale Snacks are all natural, cholesterol free, gluten free (obviously) and contain no trans fat. They are certified gluten free by the GFCO and are also certified kosher. One more interesting cool fact- Sahale Snacks are manufactured in a facility that is 100% wind powered. 

So enough info- let's get to how they taste!  

The first three packages were easy to find at my local Walmart.

Sahale Snacks Crunchers- 
Almonds with Parmesan Cheese and Herbs- These are amazing on salads or on their own. They also make an AWESOME coating for fish. These are something I am DEFINITELY interested in purchasing again.

Almonds with Cherries, Apples and Maple - YUM! It immediately makes me think of time spent at Uncle John's Cider Mill in St. Johns Michigan. Gone are the days when I can get a donut from there, but the smokiness of the almonds, the distinct flavor of the apples, and the hint of maple make me think donuts are SO overrated!

Almonds with Cranberries, Sesame Seeds and Honey - Out of the 3 Crunchers varieties, this was at the bottom of my list, probably because of the sesame seeds. They weren't awful, just not my fave.

Nut Blends
Soledad Almonds - " Inspired by the flavors of the Mediterranean, with almonds, apples, and flax seeds, tickled with date, balsamic vinegar and cayenne." (per the company website)
I didn't really care for these, but my husband LOVED them. He said that there was a nice savory flavor to them that was spicy, but not "hot" spicy. After I first tasted them, I told him he could have the rest of the bag. That made him very happy.

Valdosta Pecans- While these are okay, they're not my favorite. Then again, I'm not a big fan of spicy food, and the black pepper in these are a bit much for me. But again, my husband LOVED them! He said it was like spicy candy. They are described on the website as follows- "A classic taste of the American South with black-peppered pecans, sweet cranberries, and pinch of orange zest." 

Sing Buri Cashews- Of all of the nut blends, I would say that these are my favorite. Which is surprising, because they're still spicy. But the added pineapple is what I enjoyed. It is an interesting mixture of sweet and spicy. Again, their description on the Sahale Snacks website, "Lemongrass, soy-glazed cashews, pineapple, peanuts, and sesame seeds, lightly dusted with mild Chinese chili, in an aromatic blend, reminiscent of a great Thai dish." And I REALLY like Thai food. 

(I found the Soledad and Sing Buri Cashews at World Market, the Valdosta Pecans at Kroger.) 

Glazed Nuts
Almonds with Cranberries, Honey and Sea Salt- I really enjoyed these. To be quite honest, I didn't write my thoughts down about these right away, as I should have. All I remember is that they grow on you. I wasn't sure about the first bite, but then I couldn't put them down! I also found these at my local Kroger.

Cashews with Pomegranate and Vanilla - These are the original ones that I tried that I didn't really like. I think it's something about the vanilla flavor in them. They might be right up your alley, as we all have different tastes. If you end up trying them, let me know what you think!

Premium Blends
Maple Pecans  - "Traditional flavors of North American comfort: pecans, walnuts, cherries and apples blended and delicately glazed with maple and cinnamon." (from website)
Pomegranate Pistachios - Exotic, yet accessible tastes combine in this Moroccan-inspired blend, with pistachios, pomegranate, cherries, lemon and a hint of pepper." (from website)

I haven't located these yet, but I'm holding onto my coupons for that wonderful day when they cross my path. I'm going to Chicago in a few weeks for the Gluten & Allergen Free Expo, and I hear there is a really great Whole Foods near Schaumberg. Maybe I will track them down there.

Sahale Snacks also makes "Grab & Go Snacks"- These are smaller portion controlled sizes to keep your tummy full and happy.

So all in all, the Crunchers varieties were really my favorite, which is great because they were the easiest to find and purchase. A big thank you to Sahale Snacks for their generosity and this great opportunity.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Go to the Gluten and Allergen Free Expo FOR FREE!

On Tuesday I was given the opportunity of a lifetime, and it came in an email. And I was honestly speechless.

This is what it said.....

"Congratulations!  We're super excited to welcome you as a 
member of our GFAF Expo Chicago Blogger Team on April 12th & 13th!"


In all honesty, I had submitted the online blogger application a while ago and totally forgot about it. And there I was, waiting in the office at my local university as they downloaded the video from my guest lecture about Celiac Disease, and this is what popped up as I checked my email. I think it literally took my breath away. 

What an honor! Like, really the bloggers that I look up to go to expos like this. You know, like Keeley McGuire and Erica Dermer, and Chandice from Gluten Free Frenzy. Definitely not little people like me. 

Really, I am SO honored. 

So in two weeks, me and my husband get to go to Chicago DURING HIS SPRING BREAK! 
And I get the opportunity to see one of my friends from high school who lives in Chicago too.
 I don't know how I could be more blessed. 

Never heard of the Gluten & Allergen Free Expo? Here's what you get with your ticket- 
The Expo is the premier gluten and allergen free event in the US. Whether you are looking for specialty products that taste great or trying to learn how to cook and bake to meet your dietary needs, the Expo is the place to be!   What do you get with your Expo Ticket?
  • Entry into the 150+ booth vendor fair
  • Valuable coupons at the vendor booths
  • Samples from the vendors
  • Discounted products available for purchase
  • Informative classes related to the gluten and allergen-free lifestyle
  • Free reusable bag to carry your goodies
  • Meet your favorite vendors, authors and bloggers

PLUS, they're going to let me give a major discount to my readers! 
That's right, you can get 35% off of your ticket! 
Just use the promo BLOGCHI in the promo code box at the end of the checkout page

Why buy your ticket online?
  • Guarantee that you don’t miss out on the Expo – limited tickets available each day
  • No need to wait in line at the Expo to buy your ticket
We’re sorry, there are no refunds for pre-purchased tickets.
That means you can get a two day pass for the April 12th & 13th Chicago event for less than $20. That's less than $10 a day! And with over 150 vendors from around the country, around the WORLD, you'll need those two days. Just looking at the vendor list I can't even begin to tell you how excited I am. Bob's Red Mill, Pamela's, Smart Flour, and so many other names I've seen online but products I've never seen on my local shelf. 

Plus, there are classes like one about Gluten Intolerance and a class about decreasing toxins in your diet by Carol Kicinski, from Simply Gluten Free
And I get to share them all with you!

So make sure to follow @maclegg14 on Twitter and Instagram to see pictures of amazing foods and the food producers that you have trusted for years. 
Plus, Radio Disney will be there for all the kids! 

You should come too! 

I just received ANOTHER email yesterday that they are giving me 5 tickets to give away FOR FREE! 

That's right- FREE! 

So I'm doing a giveaway of five regular admission one day passes to the Chicago Expo. This is good for entry on April 12th OR 13th.
so IF you are thinking about coming, you should enter! Winners will be notified Saturday April 5th.
 Please note there are no refunds for pre-purchased tickets. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Thai Chicken Curry

First  all, I want to say thank you to all of those who continue to read my blog even though I haven't posted anything in over 2 weeks. I have a speaking engagement coming up at a local university, I've been planning meetings for my local celiac support group, and am now starting to get things rolling for the 2014 Lansing Gluten Free Fair. (Which will HOPEFULLY be October 18th!) So again, thanks for your patience!

Another reason I haven't been posting is because, nutritionally speaking, I've been trying to be good. As part of my lenten discipline I've gone back to following Curves Complete and riding my recumbent bike daily. So, extra fun goodies are not on the menu right now. Sundays are feast days though in our church, so hopeuflly I will get to try the box of Delallo's gluten free gnocchi that's been in my cupboard now for a few weeks....

But I digress. One of the great things about Curves Complete is that the food really does taste amazing. Which makes sense, because it's real food. With the new updated Curves.com website, there are even pictures of the dishes.

I had some leftover coconut milk from making a tofu peanut satay (which was also amazing,) and found the recipe for Thai Chicken Curry through the new ingredient search function on the new Curves.com site. As for me and my husband, we'll try anything once. (And now we've had this dish twice in less than 4 days!)

The recipe calls for Yellow Curry Paste, and I picked up a Thai Kitchen Green Curry kit at Kroger, thinking they would be the same thing. (I don't think they are, but it all worked out in the end.)

In all honesty, while it may not have tasted totally "Thai," It was amazing. With the creaminess of the coconut milk and the starchiness of the potatoes, it reminded me of chicken pot pie, wihout the added fat and calories of a crust. I could probably eat this every day if you let me!

So, here's the recipe. (And yes, this is all one serving!)


  • 1/2 tsp(s) Oil, Canola
  • 1 large Carrots, Raw
  • 1/4 whole Onions, Raw
  • 1/4 whole Bell Pepper, Red, Raw
  • 6 oz Chicken Meat, Thigh
  • 1 tbsp(s) Coriander (Cilantro) Leaves, Raw
  • 3 1/2 oz A Taste Of Thai Coconut Milk Lite By Andre Prost
  • 1/2 Potato small (1-3/4" to 2-1/4" dia) Potatoes, Russet, Raw
  • 2 Tbsp A Taste Of Thai Curry Pastes Yellow
  • 1/2 cup(s) Vegetable Broth, Low Sodium


Directions- 1. Peel and slice carrots. Chop onion and pepper. Peel and chop potatoes. 2. Heat oil in a pot over medium heat. Add curry paste and stir for 1 minute. Add onion, carrots, and pepper. Stir occasionally until the onion is softened- about 10 minutes. 3. Add potatoes, chicken, coconut milk and broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes. 4. Dish into bowl, top with cilantro and serve.  

This and many other great recipes await when you come to your local Curves and sign up for Curves Complete. One of my superstar members has lost over 20 pounds in 8 weeks following the Curves Complete program!

Saturday, March 1, 2014

February Love it Like it Leave it

February is the month of love, and fittingly I had a lot of gluten free loves this month. Although, most of them did involve Udi's and Glutino in some way...

LOVE it!

Udi's Blueberry Muffins - I think I've mentioned before that I am an Udi's ambassador. I had a demo at a store in East Lansing and I was sent their Blueberry Muffins to demo. I had never tried them before, until that day. Oh Yum! They are moist with a sugar crystal topping that is SO good. I've had their Double Chocolate muffins before which are also great. If you haven't tried any of their muffins yet, I HIGHLY suggest doing so. Another great fact- they are dairy, nut and SOY free! They intentionally use "sunflower lecithin" instead of soy lecithin to make these muffins safe for those with soy allergies.

Glutino Vanilla Wafer Cookies - These were also sent for me to do demo, and I tried them for the first time. When I tried this crispy, chocolaty wafer they reminded me of something that I couldn't quite put my finger on. Then like a lightning bolt, it hit me- Little Debbie Nutty Bars! The crispy crunch wafer reminded me of the crispness of a Nutty Bar, without the peanut butter. I can just imagine dipping these in peanut butter and eating the whole box. I love it when a gluten free product can bring back great childhood memories. Maybe we can start a letter writing campaign and get them to make a peanut butter filled flavor. What do you think?

Erbert & Gerbert's - I had seen Ebert & Gerbert's listed on the Find Me Gluten Free app while in other cities. We sadly don't have one in Flint, but they DO have a location in Mt. Pleasant, MI. I was at Soaring Eagle Waterpark on Valentine's Day, hanging out with my cousins and their kids. After splashing around in the water all day, I worked up quite an appetite. So I quickly drove to Erbert & Gerbert's, a sub sandwich & soup shop, to grab a bite to eat.
What's that you say? A GLUTEN FREE sub? Why yes, it does exist! And not only does it exist, they have a DEDICATED gluten free prep station where they gladly make your choice of sandwich on a "specially-designed six-inch sub roll made by Udi’s." I don't know about you, but I don't know the last time I was able to walk in to a sub shop and order a sandwich like that. It's been at least a decade. I was so happy I told the sandwich artist that he had totally made my Valentine's Day. :)
I ordered the "Narmer" - a turkey breast sandwich with Provolone cheese, avocado, Hellman's Mayonnaise, tomato and lettuce. I have been craving avocado lately, and was totally excited to eat this. I was going to take it to my friend's house and eat it there, but it smelled so good,  I ate the whole thing in the car on the way there. So good I couldn't even stop to take a picture of it for you.
I was so happy I could have cried. There's nothing like being able to have great tasting food that makes you feel normal again. Way. To. Go. E&G! I say down with Subway---every city needs an Erbert & Gerbert!
(**Quick note- The diner inside the Waterpark does have gluten free options, including a 12" pizza! )

Like It
Herdez Roasted Pasilla Chili Cooking Sauce - Lately it seems like we've been in a culinary rut. We've been cooking and eating the same things for quite some time. While at Kroger the other day, we decided we were in the mood for Mexican food. So we bought some tortillas, some sliced Portabella mushrooms, and looked for a seasoning mix to go with it. I know from my Cecelia's Marketplace book that Herdez salsas are gluten free. From reading the label of this NEW product I couldn't see any gluten ingredients, so I felt it was probably safe. As it turns out, they have a recipe for a stew on their site, using this sauce that states the dish is gluten free. So we're all good!
We only used half of the sauce that night for our mushrooms. It was rich and tasty...and SPICY! While I enjoyed the flavor, I don't think my stomach enjoyed the burn. But if you're a person who loves things kicked up a notch, I think it's a great product to try.

A Spice Above Oven Roasted Garlic dip- I received this dip mix at Christmas as part of my "stocking" from my step-mother. I hadn't used it yet, because we don't usually eat dips for just Brad and I. The recipe calls to mix in 8 oz. of mayonnaise and 8 oz. of sour cream. We had a party to go to, so I just mixed it into a 16 oz. container of plain Greek yogurt.
When I first tasted it, I thought it was terrible. Disgusting actually. So I chose not to take it to the party and just left it in the refrigerator.
A few days later, before throwing it out, I thought I would try it again, just to see if I still didn't like it. The flavors had really mellowed and it was really good. Actually, it was GREAT mixed in with oven roasted vegetables...and pasta....and as a dip for Italian seasoned chicken meatballs. Yum!
I also have a packet of the Tuscan Tomato Basil dip mix as well. I think when I mix this, I will use the 8 oz. of mayonnaise and 8 oz of Greek yogurt instead of the sour cream. I bet it would also be good in pasta. I have all sorts of ideas in my head! I'll have to let you know at a later date how it turns out.....


Aldi GF Chicken Nuggets- I am a gluten free food stalker. I saw these at my local Aldi, and didn't really want to pay the $4.99 price tag. Because lets be honest, chicken nuggets are not a necessity and they're not really healthy. So when I saw them on clearance for $3.99, I snagged them up.
I will be honest, they are quick and easy in the microwave when you're looking for a "protein" source. They are just slightly better cooked in the oven. While they're not awful, I won't be buying them again. The Purdue gluten free chicken nuggets are better, and the best is this recipe  for oven fried chicken that is super easy to make. I just use chicken breasts instead of a whole chicken and use crushed Chex instead of the bread crumbs. I also use premixed Ranch dressing (I use Aldi Fat Free Ranch) instead of mixing a packet and sour cream together.

Ronzoni Pasta- First off, I'd like to say that I appreciate that big national brands are trying to create gluten free versions of their regular products. It makes having celiac disease a WHOLE lot easier. But unfortunately the new gluten free penne from Ronzoni falls short. Quite literally, it falls APART. We used it to make a chickpea and cauliflower pasta dish from our new Cook's Country magazine, and it all turned to mush. I will be sticking to Pasta Barilla from now on...especially since Kroger keeps giving me coupons!

So what things have you tried this month that you have LOVED..or feel that we should all LEAVE it alone? I noticed Ian's gluten free onion rings the other day at my local health food store. I'm thinking they'll be on Marchs review. Plus I just snagged a deal on Dellallo's gluten free Gnocchi! Plus I'm still looking for a really great hot cereal. What do you recommend?

Friday, February 14, 2014

Valentine's Day Dinner

I made a special dinner for my husband for Valentine's Day...a day early. As I will be out of town on the actual day, I surprised him and prepared a fancy meal while he was helping out with the kids program at church. He was really pleased with everything...even if the chicken was a little dry. :)

I chose to make Oven Fried Chicken from Carol Fenster's Wheat-Free Recipes & Menus cookbook. In all honesty, I've had this book for years and it's just been sitting in my cupboard, patiently waiting for me to open it. It really is a great book, explaining what gluten free is and isn't, it has nutritional information for each recipe, and it even has menu suggestions in the back of the book if you are just starting out on your gluten free journey.

I made a few substitutions, like you do, as I used strictly what I had in my house. I used chicken breast tenderloins instead of chicken thighs. I didn't have buttermilk, but I had buttermilk powder, so I used that mixed with water instead. It called for cornmeal, again- which I didn't have at the moment, so I used my spice grinder to grind up some corn grits to make it finer. From there, I followed the rest of the recipe and instructions. (Except I did cook it at a lower temperature because I didn't want to dry the chicken out.)

While that was in the oven I prepared my "Beets & Sweets," which is cubed sweet potatoes, sweet onions and beets. This is a huge hit at our house, and since the vegetables are naturally sweet you don't need to add any honey- just a quick toss in olive oil and a sprinkling of salt.

On the stove top I steamed my brussel sprouts and finished them off with some melted butter and salt. The whole dinner was a big hit.

Dessert was great too. As I was preparing dinner, the mail carrier came to the door with box in hand. I wasn't expecting something, but I don't always have the best memory either. He handed me a box that said "Wisconsin Cheeseman." Ironically, this is the present my mom tried to send me at Christmas that never came. Well, it came that day with perfect timing. The cookies are called "Chocolano" which I think is a nod to Pepperidge Farm Milano cookies. They are manufactured by My Dad's Cookies. These are light and buttery with a rich chocolate filling. Brad and I each had 2, and I snuck another one a little later in the night. Definitely will be enjoying these for quite a few days to come!

I called my mom later that evening to tell her that she was the coolest mom ever and that I LOVED the gift. I think it made her day to have me say she was the coolest mom ever. She and I haven't always had the closest relationship, especially now that she lives in Tennessee and I'm here in Michigan. This is why it means the world to me that she would send me something gluten free. I'm a pretty lucky gal. <3