Saturday, November 19, 2011

We tried Pumpkin Cake Tonight and it was a success! After a while...

Thursday night I made pumpkin cakes for gifts - full of gluten! Gracie said "I wish I could have some" but I was a step ahead. I previously had made a - only cake mix and canned pumpkin. It was really good and really simple so I decided to try it with Betty Crocker Gluten Free Cake Mix. I modified it a bit by adding cinnimon and two eggs. The batter was REALLY thick but I recall the original recipe being that way as well.

I baked it for 25 minutes as the instructions on the cake mix said. I put a pick in it and it came out clean - Yea!! The cake was still in the shape it was when we put it in - it was pretty dense but looked nice. We let it cool then Gracie iced it with the most FANTASTIC Cream Cheese Icing I have every had! It is like crack! Semi sweet - sort of like cheesecake.

We cut it open with such anticipation!! We had such hope. It was raw in the center...

Gracie suggested we just scrape off the icing and stick it back in the oven and I figured we had nothing to lose. First for 15 minutes, then 10, then some more... All in all it was about an additional 45 minutes of cooking. When it was firm to the touch in the center and was browned on the edges I took it out to cool again.

While it was still warm we cut a piece - then we smeared the yummy icing back on top of the cake and ate it - and love it! It is a dense cake with a texture sort of like a homemade whole wheat bread. It also wasn't very sweet - but that was ok because we had that yummy icing (did I tell you I love that stuff??) It made a really good desert and we ALL enjoyed it even though it wasn't "normal" cake - it was still really good cake!

Next time I might add some other spices and maybe a little water but there WILL be a next time! It was super easy and very tasty. I will just be sure to bake it longer.

So - to recap the recipe:
Betty Crocker Gluten Free Yellow Cake Mix
1 can of 100% pumpkin
2 Eggs
1 tsp cinnamon

Spread in an 8x8 greased pan. Bake for "about" an hour. Top with yummy icing :)

Happy Thanksgiving!!

We have so much to be thankful for this year!! This week is the 3rd anniversary of discovering Gracie has Celiac. She has grown into a lovely 12 year old, is trying new things every week and has taken responsibility for her gluten free diet. Since I broke my ankle she has really stepped up and been a great help to everyone - she won't rub my nasty foot but I still love her!! :) I am healing, everyone is healthy and still in one piece and even though we have had our struggles we are still very thankful for what we do have.

Some other things we are thankful for - THANKSGIVING FOOD!! I want to share some of our favorites for the holiday. I say "ours" because picky Gracie won't eat everything but we love it and it is GLUTEN FREE! I am also throwing in some things we won't be making but look great - good for everyone AND gluten free!

Pumpkin pie!

Mashed Potatoes!

Turkey (of course)


Chess Pie!

Creme Brûlée

Roasted Vegatables - carrots, brussel sprouts, potatoes - you name it!

Candied Sweet Potatoes

Baked Sweet Potatoes with honey butter

Green Beans with almonds OR bacon

Udi's Gluten free Stuffing!

Cheebe Bread!

Cranberry Sauce - the "good kind" AND the canned kind :)

Rachael Ray's Chocolate Cups

Really the list could go on and on and on and on... Feel free to add your favorites.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Kellogs now has Gluten Free Rice Krispies!

Since I broke my leg Troy is now the shopper for the family. He was at the store the other day and came across Gluten Free Rice Krispies! I was always bummed that Rice Krispies used malt in their recipe - we love that cereal but haven't gotten it since Gracie went gluten free.

Troy got a box and we tried it. It had a great taste and texture, but was not sweet like the regular Rice Krispies - Gracie adds a little sugar. She LOVES it! and we have added it to our "go to" cereal stash.

I am looking forward to make Rice Krispie Pops! Or maybe these wonderful Peppermint Rice Krispie Treat Snowballs for our Christmas Eve Party!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Gluten Free Expo!

My dear friend Wanetta sent me a link to the Gluten And Allergy Free Expo that is coming to Dallas On October 1st and 2nd! Taste test gluten free foods, have a gluten free lunch, talk to people who know! It is $20 for adults and $5 for kids under 12.

I LOVE expos! Any kind - computer, food etc. but it has been years since I have been to one. I would SO love to take Gracie But I broke my leg and am off of my feet for a couple of months. I would love if anyone is able to go they could come back with a review.

There are several expos around the country - check to see if there is one near you!

Follow up:

Troy and Gracie went - and LOVED it!!! Troy said he had never seen Gracie eat so much EVER! She went from space to space tasting all of the samples and going back for more when she found something she loved and she could eat EVERYTHING! She received some wonderful gifts - Chocolate Chip Cookies from Udi's (which she loved,) She won a great basket of kids treats as well as some books on gluten free living as well as some great samples to take home.

We will be looking VERY forward to going again next year and I would really suggest going if it comes to your area. Thank you Gluten Free Expo! It is fantastic to have a "safe place" to try new foods.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Hibachi equals FIRE!!!

After taking a friend to the airport last week Sam and I ate at Kobeya Hibachi in Southlake. We LOVED it! Really - what is not to love?? Dinner, a show and FIRE!! Every kid's dream.

Sam talked about it non stop so when we went for a getaway on Friday night we went back to Kobeya. I had spoken to a really nice server who didn't know about gluten free but he did say they would be willing to work with us. Needless to say I didn't trust that conversation 100% so I called ahead. I spoke to Roy who was the manager that night. He said they were very familiar with gluten free and he recommended chicken with salt, pepper and butter, plain rice, plain salad (maybe with lemon?) and the broth (not with the additions of mushrooms and "krab.") They also have gluten free "soy sauce" (Tamari sauce.) He said they would cook the gluten free food first so as not to have a cross contamination issue or cook it in the back in a clean pan. He also said to make sure to let them know when I made the reservation AND let the waitress know.

We were seated and I asked if Roy was there - he was. Since Gracie would not have eaten the veggies (mushrooms, squash, broccoli etc.) he recommended a side of chicken, rice, salad or soup. Gracie picked just chicken and rice and broth. The waitress said "I think the broth has soy sauce in it." Good to know! We decided not to take the chance.

Out comes the Chef! He cleaned the griddle with a combination of oil and vodka. Why vodka?? FIRE!!! They do this for everyone but it was nice to see the grill cleaned before and after each "show." Even though the manager and the waitress had specified that Gracie's meal needed to be cooked first he got confused and started on the fried rice. When I saw him cracking the eggs and start cooking those when her chicken was down I turned to the waitress (who thankfully was right there) and said "We will need to cook hers in the back." She stopped him and said "Her chicken needs to be cooked BEFORE your do the rice!" He looked puzzled so I said "She can't have soy sauce on the same griddle as her chicken - it will make her sick." He stopped cooking the eggs and finished her chicken.

The chicken was really good - simply simple but yummy! He used only salt and pepper and a little oil. The butter would have been nice but I looked over at the mound of butter on his tray and it looked to have crumbs on top so we skipped it. Of course it had that delicious sticky rice to go with it. If you like veggies I say go for those as well - they were cooked PERFECTLY.

At first I thought I wanted to have them cook the meal in the back but now I am glad they did it in front of us so I could ensure "quality control." My fear always is they will say "I understand" but a mistake happens by someone who really doesn't.

I would also like to say Gracie ate EVERY bite!! With CHOPSTICKS!! She loved it - and I loved that she ate something other than just plain lettuce at a restaurant we all could enjoy.

Even with our hiccup I still recommend Kobeya Hibachi - or try one in your area. Since the food and the preparation is simple it should be easy to get a "safe" meal with a willing staff.

Dining out cards for Celiacs

I have found that I am sometimes brushed off by servers at restaurants. I have even been told "We don't use wheat here" (or flour etc.) at restaurants. Once it was at a pizza place. Really??

I have asked for managers and explained myself over and over and over... I don't mind doing it at all and many servers and managers are HAPPY to help! I really appreciate that. It is those times when you see their eyes glaze over...

When Gracie first was diagnosed with Celiac I found Gluten Free Restaurant Cards but never got any - either the ones that are pre made and laminated or the kind you print out yourself. I just came across them again and I am thinking I will print one to keep in my purse and see if it is helpful.

Here are just a couple I have found:

This one has free printable cards in foreign languages for travel. They are free but he does ask for donations if you print them - or link them to your site.

Triumph Dining Cards

You can get some laminated cards OR disposable cards to keep in your wallet.

Has anyone had experiences with these or others?? Any recommendations?

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Buddy Fruits - 100% Fruit (and nothing else.) Really???

I have seen the Buddy Fruit products at various stores. They state they are "100% Fruit and nothing else." I had looked at the fruit squeezes and saw they were labeled "no gluten" so I decided to try the fruit bites for Gracie. Honestly - I didn't look that closely at the ingredients because it stated 100% fruit (nothing else) - that was my fault and I own it.

Got home and handed them to Gracie - she opened them and started to eat one when she checked the back of the package where it states "May contain wheat starch." WHEAT STARCH?? How did that get in a 100% fruit (nothing else) fruit snack??

Their web site even states "No Gluten" on their product page. I sent them an email asking them to explain themselves - I am interested to see their response. I find their advertising to be confusing and/or deceiving and that really troubles me. It could be the difference between a nice snack for some and food poisoning to others.

Caution!! Walmart Soy Sauce no longer gluten free!!

I was picking up some more soy sauce at Walmart today and noticed the label has changed. I turned it around and checked the ingredients and it states WHEAT as a main ingredient.

This was in my local Decatur Walmart - I just checked online while looking for an image and it appears they still have it at some of their stores so stock up!! if you find it. BUT check the label first.

I am so disappointed! This is the soy sauce we always get. We have been getting this even before Gracie needed to be gluten free and now we need to find an alternative. What a bummer.

So... This is just another reminder to ALWAYS check your labels when purchasing something - the ingredients may have changed.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Udi's did it again - BAGELS!

I recently discovered that Udi's has been busy. Busy making yummy, yummy baked goods! Hot dog buns! Hamburger buns! Bagels!!!

I hadn't purchased any of these goodies because Gracie is one picky squirrel! She won't eat hot dogs. She won't eat hamburgers. When I asked her if she wanted to try the bagels she said no. sigh...

Yesterday I decided to try the bagels anyway. This morning I told her I would make her breakfast - I thawed the bagels for 30 seconds in the microwave, split it (it was cut - you just need to separate it) then I toasted 1/2 in our toaster oven (on foil to prevent cross contamination.) I called Gracie in and said "butter or cream cheese?" Her eyes widened and she smiled. "Butter!"

She ate it. She ate ever bite. She smiled and said "Thank you Mom! That was SO good! Could I have more?!" Well of course!

It was delicious - it was REALLY delicious! A great texture and the flavor was excellent. It wasn't as chewy or dense as "normal" bagels are - more like a really good crusty French bread. When I say it is good I am not saying "It is good for gluten free." I mean it is GOOD BREAD! for anyone - gluten free or not.

My wheels started turning - I immediately thought of "The Bread" that I made for my In laws last week. "The Bread" was a recipe I had come across on the Pioneer Woman's blog. I had been wanting to try it but never had a reason to until visiting them. It has two ingredients - bread and butter - but it is bread and butter in a fantastic way! Tasting Gracie's bagel made me think of "The Bread." It would be SO good cooked this way! I just feel it. Trust me - I will try it.

I can highly recommend the Udi's bagels! You will be pleasantly surprised. Let me know if you have tried the hot dog or hamburger buns - I would love to hear your reviews!

Olive Garden Goodness

Gracie wasn't with us the other day when we were in Denton at dinner time so Troy, Sam and I decided to eat someplace Gracie couldn't eat - we picked Olive Garden. The last time we were at Olive Garden was when Gracie got straight A's on her report card and got to choose where we went to dinner - she picked Olive Garden because it was her favorite! She was in the 3rd grade - it was a month before she was diagnosed with Celiac - that was about 2.5 years ago and we haven't been back since.

The salad came - oh the lovely salad! Then the breadsticks - soft and warm - Sam ate 4! Then the pasta came - lots and lots of pasta. All the while I thought of Gracie and was sad we couldn't eat there with her. The manager came by to say hi and I decided to ask him if he had a gluten free menu - THEY DO!! He brought me out a paper menu that had several Gluten Free choices - Pasta, chicken, fish, steak - did you hear PASTA?? They even have a couple of kids menu options (perfect for my scrawny picky eater!)

I asked him how the pasta was prepared - he stated it comes in a package and is prepared in the microwave. Hmmm. Microwaved pasta?? I have read some reviews and they seem pretty promising. I called their customer service at 800-331-2729 and the lady I spoke to stated the past was prepared off premise so they could assure it was gluten free and prevented cross contamination. She stated everything else was a grill item on the GF menu. Even though the idea of microwaved pasta makes me go hmmmm I LOVE that they take cross contamination seriously enough to go out of their way to protect their customers.

I am looking forward to Gracie trying their gluten free items! Have you tried them? I would love to hear from you.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Lets talk about "normal" foods for kids

I LOVE that there are so many gluten free choices these days. Gracie has been gluten free for 2.5 years and the amount of "Gluten Free" foods that actually state it on the label is amazing! The items that you used to could find only at a health food store (Udi's, Glutino, Pamela's, Amy's etc.) are now found at local grocery stores - it really is exciting to see!

That said... Gracie wants to be normal. She wants to have "normal" foods in her lunches, normal foods at parties, normal foods at restaurants. She is going into Middle School this fall which is hell enough - lets add not being "normal" to the mix! So - lets talk about "normal food." Of course fruits and veggies are obviously gluten free (least you think we just eat junk all of the time :)


- Fruity or Cocoa Pebble Treats! They are like Rice Crispy Treats (except RC's are not GF), individually packaged and perfect for lunches, on the go snacks or parties!

- A lot of the Frito Lay chips! Gracie especially loves the Cool Ranch Dorito's. The Nacho Cheese Dorito's are sadly not gluten free. Lay's Stax are our go to favorite for travel! It is not a car trip if we don't have Lay's Stax (it is like Pringles - but Pringles are not GF.)

- Hunt's Snack Pack puddings are gluten free!

- String Cheese, cheese cubes, cheese, cheese, cheese! We do love us some cheese around here (except for Sam who can't have it :(

- Jif To Go! This is our go to protein that we take with us when we are unsure about what there will be for Gracie to eat. Lunch, parties, snack, restaurant - you name it. They are little 1.5 oz individual cups of peanut butter just begging to be dipped with apples, crackers, Frito's, celery or just with a spoon.


Let me say that we no longer blindly trust gluten free menus. I have become one of "those Mothers" when we dine out. Even places who state they have procedures in place and have advertised as being safe for those needing to be gluten free - I have found them to have become lazy with their "protocols." Ask for a manager to be sure.

- Taco Bell. They are really good at covering themselves on their web site by stating "Prepared in common equipment." I like that - it is good to know. That said - we have never had a problem with their basic foods - Chips and cheese, taco shells with lettuce and cheese. Needless to say their meat has gluten in it.

- Subway!!! Our new go to favorite! They are testing Subway Gluten Free Sandwiches/buns in their North Texas stores (and possibly elsewhere - but I can't find specifics on this.) I know at our subway it states it flat on the door! They have specific protocol for making the sandwiches (changing gloves, wiping down the counter, etc.) and will get fresh meat, cheese etc. if you ask. I am on them like a hawk! while making Gracie's sandwich since there are so many bread crumbs floating around but thankfully they have always been nice and helpful and we haven't had any problems as of yet.

- Pei Wei. We loves us some Pei Wei!! It is our favorite dining place. Gracie "deconstructs" her Pei Wei Spicy where everything is on the side (chicken, veggies, rice, sauce.) She eats every bite of chicken! That said - we have to be on the ball when we go there - we have had a couple of hick ups and now I immediately ask for a manager.

- CiCi's Pizza. Or should we say Cici's Crustless pizza. They will make a "pizza" in a foil pan with sauce, pizza and GF toppings (veggies, etc.) Gracie brings her Glutino Cheese Crackers and eats it as a pizza dip. She has also started doing something similar at home - She gets the Ragu Pizza Sauce, cover the bottom of a cereal bowl and top with some good mozzarella cheese and microwave for 1 minute. She LOVES this!

- Boston's Pizza has a gluten free pizza - it is very, very yummy!

- Uno Chicago Grill - we can't decide whose pizza we like better - Boston's or Uno's! Either way she eats EVERY bite!

- Grilled Chicken or grilled Salmon. We have had great success w/various restaurants getting simply grilled chicken or salmon - most restaurants have this - check with the manager - they are usually very helpful!

- Chili's has a great gluten free menu. Gracie likes the grilled chicken but she LOVES the Original Memphis Dry Rubbed Ribs - they will also do those on the children's menu. Skip the Chips - they are not gluten free (we learned the hard way :(


- Fruity Pebbles and Cocoa Pebbles! These are our current go to favorites for breakfast. I LOVE that they have stated "Gluten Free" right on the front of the box.

- Chex Cereals. I have written about the first time I went to the store to look for something gluten free for Gracie and Rice Chex was right there w/the words "Gluten Free" right on the front! I have loved them ever since. Chex has been the leader in "main stream" cereals becoming gluten free - I am glad others are following!

- Fruity Dino Bites is also a great kids cereal. They are in a bag instead of a box. The Fruity Dino Bites is the only cereal stated GF on the Malt O Meal site.

- Eggs and Bacon! Did I say BACON!! Gracie LOVES bacon (really - who doesn't??) It doesn't matter if it is breakfast, lunch or dinner we can almost always get an egg over medium and some bacon on the side. (As long and they keep the stupid biscuit or toast off of the stinking plate!! Even after asked not to put it on...) this is a perfect easy to get meal.

I am sure there are many more - but goodness this is a long list! I have always said it is a blessing that if Gracie "had" to get Celiac then we are thankful we have so many choices to choose from.

Does anyone have favorites to add? I would love to hear from you.

Whiskey for my men, beer for my horses...

I didn't really worry about alcohol w/Gracie since she is 11 years old and prefers Mad Dog 20/20 (snort!) however I needed whiskey or bourbon for our Bourbon Chicken last night and did some more hunting.

There is a LOT of information out there about alcohol, the distillation process and gluten free alcohol - turns out almost all distilled alcohols are gluten free!! has a good article about the distillation process.

I happened to have Evan Williams Bourbon on hand and I always appreciate a company who labels their product GF - on their web site or especially on their packaging.

Here is another great article by showing GF alcoholic beverages. Wine is naturally gluten free - then there is beer... Mainstream beer is not gluten free however there are several specialty beers that are. BJ's Brewhouse not only has a gluten free menu - they also brew a gluten free beer!

So - you can have your whiskey and drink it too!

Bourbon Chicken - just like at the mall!!

It has been FOREVER since I last posted! I have actually tried to post something a few times but either had technical problems or got sidetracked etc. That said I several things to share - starting with BOURBON CHICKEN!!

We were driving home from vacation and stopped at an outlet mall to go in just one store. (insert voice from Sponge Bob) Two hours later... Sam was STARVING and couldn't hold it together for another minute so we stopped by the food court. The choices were VERY limited - we couldn't find any "meal" that was gluten free. We walked by the lady with the samples of Bourbon Chicken (which is a weakness of ours) and took one - then Troy, Sam and I preceded to get it for lunch. Gracie said "I wish I could have the chicken - do you think it is gluten free?" I told her it was made with soy sauce so it was not. Gracie was a trooper and had plain white rice and a Dr Pepper - it really was pitiful.

A few days later I was playing with "Stumbleupon" and I came across a recipe for "Bourbon Chicken...Yes, like at the mall!" I looked at the recipe - hmmmm - I could do this gluten free!

Sam woke up at the crack of 10:30 am and wanted to help cook - he did a lot of the prep. He would also like me to add that "Sam is Gracie's brother" :)

I used WalMart brand soy sauce (which WAS labeled gluten free) (SEE BELOW!!!) as well as Marukan Rice Wine Vinegar and Evan Williams Bourbon which states it is Gluten Free on their website. More on Bourbon later... I used dried ginger and green onions since I had it on hand. We served it with white rice and a salad - but it would have been good w/some steamed veggies thrown in.

It was good - REALLY good! I threw it together in the morning and cooked it in the evening in the same dish. Everyone ate it up! It is easy, easy and something you could prep the night before - the longer it sits the better.

I will be making this one again, and again, and again...


After making this again today (w/the GF Wal Mart soy sauce) I was at the store and needed to get some more. The label has changed so I checked it - it is now NOT gluten free!! Regular wheat filled soy sauce!! So... Make sure that you use a gluten free soy sauce if you make this!! Wal Mart's is no longer gluten free.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Beware of Blue Bell Ice Cream!

Gracie played really hard at her basketball game on Saturday so when we went to the store she decided we needed ice cream! They were having a sale on Blue Bell and Gracie said she wanted chocolate - of course. I grabbed it and stuck it in the cart - then wise Gracie said "Is it gluten free?" Of course it is - right? It is basic ice cream - right?? Wrong! The chocolate has wheat flour in it. Wheat flour in ice cream. Needless to say so did several other flavors. I will not assume plain chocolate ice cream - or any flavor is "safe" after this. The Vanilla is the only one we found that showed gluten free.

Braum's, Breyer's and others have gluten free ice creams so they would be better choices.

I had always thought of simple ice cream as being "safe." No more.