BIG News!!

I have some wonderful good news that I still can't hardly believe! Instead of just blurting out the news, I want to share some background information for anyone else who may be in a similar situation. img_4316

First some context...

I have had serious disruptive and painful GI issues for as long as I can remember, at least since age 5. That means I have been dealing with it all for 30 years now! My symptoms have progressed and gotten worse over the last 10 years. I had a CT scan and some blood work done two weeks ago. All the results came back completely normal. Basically the tests showed that all of my abdominal organs are perfectly normal and there are no markers of inflammation in my blood, even though I was still having a terrible "flare-up" at the time. This is all good news that I don't have an inflammatory bowel disease or any kind of obstruction. But that Friday night when I got the news of my results, I could not see it for the good news that it was because I had hit my breaking point of dealing with the pain for so long. I was a mess that Friday and felt so discouraged that I would continue to have this pain and there be no way to control it.

After I had my little meltdown that night, I was finally able to see the good and think more clearly. Since I did not have any obstructions or inflammatory bowel disease then I had to accept that all my symptoms must truly be from my irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). I realized that perhaps I AM more stressed than I realize. After all, I am a Type A personality, a recovering perfectionist, and high energy. Not exactly the recipe for calmness and low stress! :D

A moment of clarity

I pushed and pushed the doctors for answers to my problems because I was afraid that without a proper diagnosis they would think it was all in my head when that could not be further from the truth! But in light of these latest test results, I realized that I have to accept that my symptoms are truly from IBS. That was when it hit me. Although my symptoms are not IN my head, perhaps there are cause BY my head! Ding-ding-ding!!!! I have functioned at such a high-level of stress during numerous times in my life that I have missed the cues when I am moderately stressed. And stress plays a HUGH role in IBS symptoms.

All this got me to thinking that if stress is truly the cause of my increasing symptoms then maybe that is the only cause. About 3 and a half years ago during one of my many visits to my doctor, looking for answers and at the point of exasperation, the question of celiac disease and gluten intolerance came up. I was tested for celiac disease and that came back negative, but at that same time I went on a gluten free diet and began to feel remarkably better! Because of the drastic relief of symptoms that eating gluten free did for me, my doctor said that I probably did have celiac disease even though I had a negative test result, which does happen in a large number of cases he said. Either way, he said it was clear that I should not eat gluten. Since then I have changed family doctors and my current doctor has my diagnosis listed as gluten intolerance. He wasn't as quick about throwing around the celiac diagnosis without the positive test results.

The experiment!

Now back to two weeks ago. In light of my new acceptance that all my problems are probably related to IBS and stress, I began to question if I was truly gluten intolerant too. So two days later I began a gluten experiment on myself. Prior to this I classified myself as being highly sensitive to gluten because my symptoms were so pronounced. All my symptoms, which had improved after eliminating gluten completely in July 2012, were back again even though I was 100% GF. And the symptoms were just as bad as before I went gluten free.

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So that Sunday morning I ate a small graham cracker and nothing else for 3 hours while I monitored for symptoms and waited. Nothing. No spike in symptoms. By Sunday afternoon I was feeling more brave and ate an entire (amazing!) slice of regular pizza and half of a turkey sub. Oh, yeah! I was going all in at this point of my gluten experiment. :D My local pizza shop is authentic Italian cuisine and they know how to make their rolls! Yum!! I ate all that Sunday evening and was completely fine!! I have challenged myself more since then and I am still fine!!

I cannot hardly believe it but it seems that I'm not gluten intolerant!! This is such good news and life-altering news that I am still having trouble wrapping my head around it. Also, I am a little afraid that I will suddenly get really sick and find out that I can't eat gluten after all. It just seems too good to be true. But it is true and for now I am fine, so I will be happy with the here and now and try to not worry about the future.

But why did it help before?

I believe my symptoms were relieved when I went gluten free in 2012 because at that time my stress was really bad and my symptoms were getting worse. By taking action to try to control my symptoms by going GF, I had control over my life again and was no longer powerless. The sense of control reduced my stress and made my symptoms decrease. That would also explain why my symptoms have gradually come back to the point where they were prior to going gluten free. I've been under a tremendous amount of stress with nursing school, then beginning my career as a nurse, working odd shifts and night shift, and having my children begin school. I think it all just built up again to be too much and that is why I have been so sick again.

Does that make any sense? As my life felt like it was spiraling more and more out of my control, my symptoms increased. Then once I was forced to look at the test results with an open mind, I realized how stressed I am most of the time and had to accept that my symptoms are my body's way of reacting to the stress. I don't think I was ever gluten intolerant. I was just desperate for answers and to solve my symptoms and feel better. And that was why I felt better when I went GF. It wasn't because of the gluten, it was because I felt powerless with my symptoms and pain and I wanted a way to fix it. I am not saying that this is the answer for everyone with gluten intolerance or IBS. I am simply relating my experience and my realization of the amount of stress I was under and what that stress was doing to my body. Maybe your thing is not gluten or IBS, but we all would do well to take stock every now and then and evaluate the stress on us and its affect on our lives.

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So where do I go from here?

The big thing is I need to do is to work harder on realizing when I am feeling stress, doing things to relieve the stress, and putting structure in place to prevent some of the stress in the first place. For me, the answer lies in consistent yoga practice, practicing mindfulness, living with intention, and creating structure in my life. Also I should really add that I need to cultivate respect from myself for the boundaries and organization I create. Too many times in the past I have organized my time to get the important things done when I have a lot going on then I completely ignore that schedule and run around taking on way too many things and not accomplishing half of what I truly wanted to accomplish. I know I can't be the only person who does this. Why do we do this? Why does the adult side of me recognize the need for a schedule then as soon as the schedule is created, the kid in me tears it up and runs around screaming? :D The key is to practice mindfulness in all areas of my life and to allow what I have learned through my yoga practice to spread even further through my life.

I am excited for the future and all the wonderful possibilities of 2016! There are some exciting things in the works for next year that I will share with you when the time is right. For now, I can't wait to get back into the kitchen and create even more recipes redesigned to be healthier!

 

Mini Pumpkin Cheesecakes (gluten free!)

Can you believe that Thanksgiving is next Thursday already?! Time is just flying by! Since starting my full time job as a registered nurse, there hasn't been a whole lot of cooking going on and even less time experimenting in the kitchen. :( I love my job, but I wish there were more hours in the day to do other things that I love too. I have been looking ahead to Thanksgiving and planning what I want to make. And I'm getting really excited about the holiday, especially because of something new we are starting this year. We are fortunately to live near our families and to have all of our family members with us. And we get to spend every Thanksgiving with one or both of our families, which is wonderful! But we have been wanting to create some of our own traditions without giving up spending the holiday with extended family. So this year we are trying something new.

The Sunday before Thanksgiving we are calling "Thanksgiving for 4". This will be our family's special day to spend the whole day together celebrating Thanksgiving. My husband and I are going to cook a special dinner. He and I are looking forward to spending some time together in the kitchen because we love to cook with each other and it has been a long time since we got to do that. Also, we are going to spend the day doing all the things the four of us love to do together, as well as spending some time focusing on Thanksgiving and being thankful. I think it is going to be a great day and we are all really excited about it!

So, in honor of Thanksgiving, I will be (re)sharing some of my favorite gluten free recipes that I have created over the last couple of years. The first one I want to share is my recipe for Mini Pumpkin Cheesecakes. These little cheesecakes are one of my all-time favorites. So easy to make and so tasty! (The link to the original post about them is here.) This dessert is a great gluten free addition to your holiday meal. Enjoy!

 

Gluten Free Mini Maple Pumpkin Cheesecakes

1 1/2 c. graham cracker crumbs

1/4 c. brown sugar

1 pinch kosher salt

4 tbsp organic unsalted butter, melted

2 8 oz.containers of organic Neuchâtel cheese

15 oz. can organic pumpkin

3/4 c. pure maple syrup

1 tsp. vanilla

1/2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice

2 large eggs, slightly beaten

 

To make the crust:

In a small bowl, combine the graham cracker crumbs, sugar, salt and butter until all the crumbs are moistened. Line muffin tins with muffin paper and spray them with cooking spray. Then scoop the crumbs into the liners, 1 tbsp. into each muffin liner. Then with the back of the tablespoon, press the crumbs firmly into the bottom of the liners. Bake the crusts at 325ºF for 8 minutes.

 

To make the filling:

Place the cream cheese in a large bowl and blend until smooth. Scrape down the sides of the bowl while mixing. Then add the pumpkin, maple syrup, vanilla and spice. Blend all together until the ingredients are completely combined. Add the slightly beaten eggs and mix in just until they are incorporated. Do not overmix!

Pour the batter into a liquid measuring cup to make the pouring easier. Then pour the batter into the prepared crust in the muffin tins. Pour the batter up to almost the very top of the muffin liners. Then place in a preheated 325°F oven and bake for 30-35 minutes or until the center of the cheesecakes are set and jiggle slightly when the pan is gently shaken.

Cool completely before serving.

Makes 22 mini cheesecakes.

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Summer Reset- Day 6

After making my husband his green smoothie to take to work with him, I decided that if he could drink a green smoothie several days a week then I could start drinking it at least one day a week. He has been drinking them for about 6 months now and has the recipe perfected. But it has taken me a while to get on board with the green smoothie. I know that they are incredibly good for me but the thickness of the smoothie was difficult for me to adjust to. We finally replaced our nearly 15 year old blender that kept limping along, refusing to just die already! And we were pleasantly surprised by how much blenders have improved in 15 years. :D Our new blender blends the food really smoothly, so I decide it was time for me to try the green smoothie again. I was quite surprised by how good it actually was. It's not as quite as tasty as the fruit smoothies I usually make, but it is still a great way to start off the day with a healthy boost of kale. You can get the recipe for this Green Smoothie here: Green Smoothie  

Here's what I ate today:

Breakfast: Green smoothie with an Udi's Gluten Free Cinnamon Raisin Bagel with cream cheese.

Lunch: Layered Taco dip with tortilla chips and a good book. I layered leftover taco meat, a sliced of cheddar cheese, salsa, a mini pack of Wholly Guacamole, and a dollop of sour cream. This is one of my favorite lunches.

Dinner: Cold pasta salad. I cooked Barilla Gluten Free Penne pasta and let it cool. Then I stirred in leftover cold grilled chicken, peas, and grilled onion. Then I stirred in a handful of grape tomatoes that I quartered, added a little dried basil, salt and freshly ground black pepper. It was a really quick, delicious and filling dinner for a hot summer evening.

Snack: a handful of dark chocolate chips. Because sometimes you just need a little chocolate. :)

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Here is how I exercised today:

Today I did one of my favorite Tone It Up Routines- Bikini Body Routine! This is IT! BIKINI SERIES 2014 ☀. This is such a fun routine. It is a circuit of about 6 exercises that are repeated 3 times then there are about 4-5 fine toning exercises added to the end of the circuit, including the "Bikini Walkout". This is such a fun, albeit hardworking move! You'll have to try it and let me know if you love it as much as I do. You can try this routine here: Bikini Body Routine! This is IT! BIKINI SERIES 2014 ☀

Why Do I Use Brown Rice Flour?

Bob's Red Mill Brown Rice FlourBy now you have probably realized that I bake with primarily brown rice flour. I thought I'd take a moment to talk about why I do. This post is long but I review cake mixes, cookie mixes, brownie mixes, all-purpose baking mixes and different types of flour. Almost everything you might want to know about gluten free baking that I have tried or experimented with in the last year and a half. When I first went gluten free, I was scared of the idea of baking gluten free from scratch because in my search for gluten free recipes, I was reading a lot of comments about how baking without gluten takes a lot of trial and error and how that missed efforts will turn out as hard as hockey pucks. So needless to say, I was nervous. I love to bake from scratch but I didn't want to make a bunch of food that would be wasted and end up in the trash. The price for gluten free ingredients is expensive and I really didn't want to be wasteful.

So I began my foray into GF baking with baking mixes and all-purpose baking mixes. I had mixed results with this approach. First of all, I really missed making my own stuff. It's just not the same to open a package, mix in a couple additional ingredients and bake. I wanted to bake like I used to bake. Second, it was more expensive. Sure the price of a gluten free flour is pricey, but not nearly as pricey as buying a baking mix every time I want to bake, which is pretty darn often I have to admit. Last, the taste wasn't the best.

I did find a few gems, like Betty Crocker's chocolate and yellow cake mixes. Those cake mixes are amazing! No one can tell they are gluten free and the cakes turn out delicious and moist. The thing I like about those cake mixes is that someone who isn't gluten free can make them for someone who is, without having to have a bunch of other ingredients on hand. For example, my mother in law is a very thoughtful hostess and it bothered her when our family would get together and I couldn't eat dessert too. Once she learned about these cake mixes, she bought one and tried it. She was happy with the results and surprised by the good taste. Now whenever our family gets together, she makes a cake that we all can eat and enjoy.Betty Crocker Gluten Free Products

As for the cookie mixes, I haven't had the best results with them. Betty Crocker's cookie mix turned out well, but tasted like cookies made from a mix, not from scratch. I tried King Arthur Flour gluten free all-purpose baking mix and made pretty good cookies, but they were still lacking a bit of something. My kids thought so too because although they would say they liked them, they would follow that up with a question about when could we make the "old" cookies again, meaning the pre-gluten free days cookies. I also tried Cherrybrook Kitchens cookie mixes.Cherrybrook Kitchens Gluten Free Dreams There mixes are gluten free, dairy free and nut free. A really good choice for someone with additional food allergies. I thought these cookies were good, less box mix taste. The downside to these is the price for the amount of cookies that they make. Each box doesn't make much over a dozen cookies, which isn't enough cookies for my household. However, in spite of the cost and the amount the mix makes, Cherrybrook Kitchens makes a really good sugar cookie. And unless I can successfully make my own sugar cookies this year, I will probably be buying a box or two to make this Christmas.

I have tried two brownie mixes, Betty Crocker's and King Arthur Flour's. Out of these two, Betty Crocker edges out King Arthur's by a little. The King Arthur's mix has a rich, chocolately taste. The downside is the texture. Something is just a little off about the texture of these brownies, a little too spongy for my taste. The Betty Crocker have the fudgy texture that I like in my brownies, but they dry out pretty quickly and still don't taste as good as the from scratch recipe that I used to make.

King Arthur Flour Gluten Free Multi-purpose flour

There are two gluten free all-purpose baking mixes that I've tried. I already mentioned the King Arthur Flour mix when I talked about the cookies. I was pretty happy with that mix but there wasn't enough in the box for someone who bakes a lot like me. Plus I wasn't completely happy with the taste results whenever I baked with this mix. The other mix that I've tried is Bob's Red Mill All Purpose Baking Flour. The combination of flours that they use in their mix give the cookies an odd taste, in my opinion. I am a really big fan of Bob's Red Mill but I was really disappointed with their gf baking mix. One of the flours that they use gives the cookies a bitter flavor. I think it is the garbanzo bean flour that causes the bitterness because they also use garbanzo bean flour in their biscuit mix and it has the same bitterness to it. I really like the idea of using a bean based flour, but the result isn't the best.

So this brings me to why I use brown rice flour when I bake. After trying all these various mixes with mixed results, I decided that I was ready to try my own. I bought white rice flour, brown rice flour, coconut flour, quinoa flour and almond meal. I tried the flours alone and in all kinds of combinations. White rice flour makes the food grainy so I don't use that at all anymore. Coconut flour adds a coconutty flavor and fiber to whatever I am making with it. However it absorbs a lot of liquid and can't be swapped out for regular flour in a recipe without adding liquid too. The quinoa flour is pretty good also. I like to use it whenever I want to bread something, like fish. I also really liked to use the almond meal; it adds a slightly almond flavor and I love the idea of baking with almond meal instead of a grain. Sometimes I bake with a combination of these flours, but keeping this many specialty flours stocked in my pantry is a bit pricey. So I began experimenting with using only brown rice flour. Once I started do that, I was really happy with the results of the baked goods. I have found that baking with brown rice flour, cornstarch and xanthan gum gives the best gluten free baked goods that doesn't taste like it's gluten free. I will continue to experiment with other flours in the future, but for now, I will probably do most of my baking with brown rice flour.

All of the flours that I mentioned are from Bob's Red Mill. I really like this company a lot. I think their ingredients are high quality and they seem like a great group of people. I used to buy their flours in my grocery store, but then I discovered that I can by them off Amazon and save a little. And if you chose to subscribe and save, like I do, you can save even more. You can pick how often you want the product to come to your house, depending on how much you bake. And by subscribing, you will get the lowest price per ounce you can get from anywhere. I get a 4 pack of 48 oz. bags so I also get the lowest price by buying in bulk. All these little things add up to help offset the increased price of buying gluten free ingredients.Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free Products

I hope that by me sharing my experiences with some of these products will help you as you navigate through the gluten free world. We are so lucky that there are so many options to choose from today. I'm sure celiacs and gluten intolerant individuals that lived 50 years ago would love to have the wide variety of choices that we have. But buying gluten free is pricier and we all want our money to stretch as much as possible. Hopefully by sharing my opinions, will help you make your own choices and spend your money wisely.

If you have any specific questions about any of the products that I mentioned or any other gluten free product, let me know and I'll do my best to help you out. You can ask in the comment section below or directly contact me through my "Contact Me" page or message me at my Facebook page.

 

Disclaimer: the opinions in this post are my own and I was not paid or given any of the products listed to review. The photos are not my own but the property of the companies whose image it is. Clicking on the pictures will take you to the company's website, where information about their product can be found.

Gluten Free Peanut Butter Blossoms

I made these cookies yesterday as a special request from my daughter. She loves these cookies at Christmas time. The funny thing is to see how they both eat the cookies just like I did as a kid too. Both my kids eat all the cookie around the kiss in the center then pop off the kiss, eat the rest of the cookie and finally the kiss candy last. These cookies are one of my favorites at Christmas time too. And since it is after Thanksgiving now, I'm okay with starting the Christmas music, decorating and baking now. :D

I am so happy with how the gluten free version of these Christmas favorites turned out! I start my recipe with an all natural peanut butter, which gives the cookie a really good peanutty flavor. Then I sweeten them with honey. PB, honey and butter! You cannot go wrong with that combo. :) To that, I add an egg, a little vanilla and the dry ingredients. Roll the dough balls in sugar and bake. Then top off the warm out of the oven cookies with kiss candies and you have a delicious traditional holiday cookie, minus the gluten!

I like to use dark chocolate kisses for my cookies or even just as a treat. Dark chocolate has more antioxidants and other healthy vitamins and minerals in it than milk chocolate. And personally, I find it really hard to stop eating milk chocolate. There is something about the creaminess that makes it very hard to stop eating. But with dark chocolate, I can eat a couple of pieces and be satisfied. So it's dark chocolate only in my house. :)

 

Gluten Free Peanut Butter Blossoms

1/2 c. unsalted organic butter, softened

1/2 c. natural creamy peanut butter

1/2 c. honey

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. baking powder

1 egg

1/2 tsp. vanilla

2 c. brown rice flour (I like Bob's Red Mill Brown Rice Flour)

1 1/2 tbsp. corn starch

1/2 tsp. xanthan gum

 

Preheat oven to 350°F. Cream butter and peanut butter together until smooth and creamy. Add honey, baking powder and baking soda and blend together completely. Add the egg and vanilla and mix together. Finally, add the flour, cornstarch and xanthan gum and mix just until combined.

Scoop out cookie dough, about 1 tablespoonful at a time and roll into a tight ball. Then roll the cookie dough balls in granulated sugar and place on baking sheet. Bake for 7-8 minutes until the cookies are set and light golden brown on the bottoms.

Remove the baked cookies from the oven and top with dark chocolate kisses, pressing the kisses down lightly into the cookie. The pressure will slightly crack the cookies, but that's what you want. Let them sit on the cookie sheet for a couple of minutes then move to a cooling rack to finish cooling.

Store in an airtight container. These cookies also freeze really well. I like to bake a batch and freeze half of them to eat later in the Christmas season.

Makes about 3 dozen cookies.

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Gluten Free Sage Sausage Stuffing with Cranberries and Walnuts

I decided to try my hand at making gluten free stuffing this year. I enjoy stuffing but I don't have to have it on Thanksgiving. I didn't really miss it last year. But I got to thinking that there are probably some gluten free friends out there who love stuffing and will miss it this holiday. So to all of you, this one's for you! :) I started with Udi's gluten free bread because I knew that they make a good gluten free bread. To be perfectly honest, I've only tried 2 brands of gluten free breads because when I went gluten free I decided to use that as an opportunity to branch out of the old standby at lunch, the sandwich. Udi's gluten free bread is stored in the freezer. I got it out and cut it up into large cubes while it was still frozen. No need to defrost first. I cut a slice in half, then each half into another half. Then I turned the slices and cut them across the slices in half, then those halves in half again. This created the right size cubes for stuffing. I got 16 cubes from each slice of bread. Then I baked the cubed bread in a 300°F oven for 20 minutes to dry the bread. Good stuffing comes from taking the time to dry out the bread first.

While the bread was drying, I chopped up my celery and onion and began sautéing in a little butter and olive oil. I chose to used butter and olive oil so that I could get the flavor from the butter without having to use all butter. I sautéed the vegetable until they were tender. Then I poured them into a large bowl and add the sage and black pepper.

Next I browned my sausage. We are rather picky about our meats and we buy all of our meat from a local farmer that raises grass-fed, hormone-free and antibiotic-free livestock. It is really good quality meat that we can feel good about eat and feeding to our kids. It is more pricy than cheap meat in the store, but about the same price or even a little less than the cost of organic grocery store meat. The local meat that we buy has a freshness and leanness that does not compare to the store. Try to find your own local farmer that is raising healthy livestock. It is worth the effort for you and your family. Anyways, back to the stuffing. :)

After browning the stuffing, I added it to the cooked veggies and spices and added the cranberries and walnuts. Then I stirred in the dried bread cubes and tossed it all around until it was mixed well and the bread was slightly coated with all the ingredients. Next drizzle on some organic chicken stock, just enough to moisten the bread. Then pour into a baking dish and bake until it is heated through and smells amazing!

I am so pleased with how this recipe turned out! It is savory and delicious. I took it to an extended family Thanksgiving dinner yesterday and every really enjoyed it, even the non-gluten free family members. That's a success! But I would love to hear what you all think about it. Let me know! :)

Gluten Free Sage Sausage Stuffing with Cranberries and Walnuts

14 oz. Udi's gluten free bread, cubedIngredients for Gluten Free Sage Sausage Stuffing with Cranberries and Walnuts

3 stalks organic celery, diced

1 large organic onion, diced

1 tbsp. organic unsalted butter

1 tbsp. olive oil

1 tsp. ground sage

fresh ground black pepper, to taste

1/2 lb. fresh loose sage sausage

3/4 c. dried organic cranberries

3/4 c. walnuts

3/4 c. organic chicken stock

Dry the bread cubes in a 300°F oven for 20 minutes. While the bread is drying, heat the butter and oil in a sauté pan and add the diced celery and onion. Sauté the vegetables until they are tender, but not browned and overcooked.

Pour the cooked vegetables into a large bowl and add the sage and pepper; stir until evenly distributed.

Cook the sausage in the pan until browned. Then add the sausage to the vegetable and spices in the bowl. Add the cranberries and walnuts and stir to combine.

Add the dried bread cubes to the bowl and toss all the ingredients together until the bread is slightly coated with the ingredients. Drizzle the chicken stock over the cubes and stir together. Use just enough stock to moisten the bread.

Lightly spray a 9x13 baking dish and pour the stuffing in it. Then cover with foil and bake in a preheated 350°F oven for about 30 minutes or until the stuffing is heated through. Remove the foil and bake for another 10 minutes to slightly brown up some of the stuffing.

Makes about 8 servings.

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Gluten Free Mini Maple Pumpkin Cheesecakes

After creating a gluten free pie crust last month, I was excited to make Pumpkin Pie this year for Thanksgiving. After not having any pie last year, I was quite excited to be able to eat pie again this holiday. And that was still the plan until about 5 days ago. But then I thought about how delicious a Pumpkin Cheesecake would be! And once I thought of cheesecake, I wasn't as excited about pie anymore. But now I had to quickly create a new gluten free dessert recipe. I decided to go for it and hope that it would turn out as well in reality as I imagined. So yesterday morning I jumped on creating and baking this dessert in time for an extended family Thanksgiving dinner yesterday at noon. I'll admit that I was taking a risk and cutting it close on time. But I figured that if it was a total disaster then I would just scrape the whole thing and no one would be the wiser since I hadn't told anyone that I was bringing dessert. And let me just say that I am so happy that I went for it. These little cheesecakes are tasty!

I used gluten free graham crackers for the crust. To sweeten the crust, I used a little brown sugar instead of the traditional granulated sugar. Then for the filling, I used organic Neuchâtel cheese, organic canned pumpkin (from a can that is BPA free), maple syrup to sweeten it and pumpkin pie spice. You could use individual spices, like cinnamon, nutmeg, ect. But I had a container of pumpkin pie spice so I used that. I chose pure maple syrup to sweet the dessert because maple is a delicious, slightly healthier sugar option than granulated or brown sugar. Pure maple syrup has additional nutrients that sugar doesn't have. I like to use Neuchâtel cheese because it is 1/3 less fat than regular cream cheese and an easy substitution in baking. I used a 15 oz. can of pumpkin and only 16 oz. of cream cheese. Most recipes that use that much pumpkin also use more cream cheese. I really wanted to see if I could make the cheesecake with only 2 containers of cream cheese for two reasons. First, it is less cost and less cheese. And second, it's has more pumpkin in each serving. Pumpkins are a wonderful healthy addition to one's diet in the fall and winter months. So I really wanted more pumpkin in the dessert. The result is a cream pumpkin flavor, not as distinct of a cream cheese flavor and not as strong as a pumpkin pie flavor. I am really happy with the results.

The only thing that I will do different when I make them next time is to gently mix in the eggs properly at the end. As I said, I was in a hurry and I dumped in the whole eggs at the end of mixing all the other ingredients together and quickly blended it together on a medium speed with my mixer. Which is why when they were baking, they puffed up like little cupcakes and then promptly deflated while they cooled. That'll happen when you beat air into your cheesecake batter. ;) So make sure when you are making yours that you blend the cream cheese until smooth (that will be the longest step). Then add the remaining ingredients, except the eggs, and blend until completely combined. Take the time to scrap down the sides of the bowl so that you can blend it all together without blending longer than necessary. Then beat the eggs slightly in a small bowl, add to the batter and blend on a low speed just until the eggs are incorporated. Do it this way and you should have nice even and level topped cheesecakes.

As for my deflated cheesecakes, those little deflated centers were a perfect place to place a dollop of whipped cream, which I then sprinkled with a little more spice. When life gives you deflated cheesecakes, fill it with whipped cream! :D

Gluten Free Mini Maple Pumpkin Cheesecakes

1 1/2 c. graham cracker crumbs

1/4 c. brown sugar

1 pinch kosher salt

4 tbsp organic unsalted butter, melted

2 8 oz.containers of organic Neuchâtel cheese

15 oz. can organic pumpkin

3/4 c. pure maple syrup

1 tsp. vanilla

1/2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice

2 large eggs, slightly beaten

 

To make the crust:

In a small bowl, combine the graham cracker crumbs, sugar, salt and butter until all the crumbs are moistened. Line muffin tins with muffin paper and spray them with cooking spray. Then scoop the crumbs into the liners, 1 tbsp. into each muffin liner. Then with the back of the tablespoon, press the crumbs firmly into the bottom of the liners. Bake the crusts at 325ºF for 8 minutes.

 

To make the filling:

Place the cream cheese in a large bowl and blend until smooth. Scrape down the sides of the bowl while mixing. Then add the pumpkin, maple syrup, vanilla and spice. Blend all together until the ingredients are completely combined. Add the slightly beaten eggs and mix in just until they are incorporated. Do not overmix!

Pour the batter into a liquid measuring cup to make the pouring easier. Then pour the batter into the prepared crust in the muffin tins. Pour the batter up to almost the very top of the muffin liners. Then place in a preheated 325°F oven and bake for 30-35 minutes or until the center of the cheesecakes are set and jiggle slightly when the pan is gently shaken.

Cool completely before serving.

Makes 22 mini cheesecakes.

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Homemade Gluten Free Pie Crust

I am so excited to tell you that pie is back on the menu! Last year at Thanksgiving, I didn't have any pumpkin pie. And I missed it because I really love pumpkin pie. Since Thanksgiving is at the end of the month, I decided it was time to attempt to make a gluten free pie crust. I considered looking for a pre-made GF pie crust or pie mix, but I'm always happier with the results when I make it from scratch. So I decided to just go for it. I used the pie recipe from my Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook as a guide. Then I adapted it to make it gluten free. I chose to use part butter and part shortening for the fat. Must recipes will tell you that butter give the crust a good flavor, but shortening is what makes it flaky. Some recipes suggest using butter flavored shortening to get the good taste and flakiness. But, if you have been following my blog for a while, you probably will know that I don't like "flavored" or artificial ingredients. I think it is better to use the real thing, which is why I bake with butter. So you know there was no way I was going to use a butter flavored shortening. As for shortening, it has only one redeeming quality in my opinion, and that is what it does for pie crust. I've tried making a crust with all butter and it doesn't compare to the one made with shortening. And the one made with all shortening doesn't have the flavor that the one made with butter does. So for this recipe, I decided to use both. And I am really happy with the result!

This recipe will be a little different that a traditional crust, after all it is made without wheat flour or gluten. But, I still think that it is a fine crust even if the edges don't crimp. Who likes to crimp anyways? :) Just press the edges with your fingers and put it in the oven. And soon you too will be eating delicious gluten free pie. How easy is that?

Now, comes the hard part; you have to decide what kind of pie to make. Pumpkin, apple, cherry, chocolate...yum! chocolate pie! Gotta go! I think I need to go bake another pie. Enjoy!

Homemade Gluten Free Pie Crust

1 1/4 c. brown rice flour

1/2 tsp. xanthan gum

1/2 tbsp. corn starch

1/4 tsp. salt

3 tbsp. shortening

2 tbsp. cold unsalted butter, cutting into small pieces

4 to 5 tbsp. cold water

 

Combine all the dry ingredients in a medium bowl. Add the shortening and butter. Cut it in with a pastry blender until the mixture is crumbly.

 

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Add cold water and mix in with a fork until all the flour is moistened and can be pressed together and form a ball.

 

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Form the pastry into a ball and place on a lightly floured sheet of wax paper. Roll out into a circle about 12 inch diameter.

 

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Roll the crust and wax paper around the rolling pin to roll the crust into the pie dish. The crust will crumble some. That's okay, just press it back together when it is in the pie dish.

 

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Fill the crust with your favorite filling and bake according to your pie recipe's directions.

 

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And if you want to make a double crust pie or two pies, just double all the amounts of the ingredients in the original recipe. This recipe doubles well and makes a delicious apple pie. Yum!

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Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free Pizza Crust Mix Review

20131103-070715.jpgWhat is the one thing that I truly miss the most since going gluten free? Pizza! I love, love, love pizza! I decided to try some pizza last year about 3 months into my gluten free diet. You know, just in case my diagnosis was wrong. ;) Well, that was a mistake that I paid dearly for for 3 whole days! Won't be testing my diagnosis again after that. No siree! So what was I to do about pizza now?!? Before I tried that fateful piece of regular pizza, I had tried several GF pizzas and was left disappointed. I tried some from restaurants and some frozen pizzas. All the pizzas that I tried were, at best, okay and they were really expensive too. So for a while after that, I stopped trying to find a gluten free pizza. Then I decided to try Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free Pizza Crust Mix.

First of all, the price for the mix wasn't too much. It's a little over $3 at my store. Even after you factor in the cost for organic tomato sauce and organic mozzarella cheese, the price for making your own pizza with this mix is less than other pre-made gluten free pizzas. Also, the mix makes two pizzas and you are in control of how much sauce and cheese to put on the pizza. How great is that?!

The first time I made this mix, I made it exactly as the directions indicated. The mix makes a super sticky dough. So the directions say to wet your hands to push the dough into the pan. This did make it a lot easier to push the dough, but it was too much liquid in my opinion. When the pizza was done, we all loved the flavor of it but thought that the dough seemed a bit soggy, even when fully cooked. I used to make homemade pizza frequently before and I know how important the liquid to flour ratio is when making any kind of bread, so I immediately knew that it was the added water from working with the dough that was causing the sogginess.

The second time I made the mix, I made it according to the directions again, except for the water on the hands when working with the dough. This time, I added brown rice flour. First I sprinkled some flour onto a piece of wax paper on my counter and dumped the dough out onto it. Then I added more brown rice flour and used my hands to work the flour into the dough. How much four you add will depend on how carefully you measured your liquid or even how much humidity there is in the air when you are making your dough. I used about 1/2 cup of Bob's Red Mill Brown Rice Flour. You want enough dough to make the dough easier to work with and not sticky. But don't add so much flour that your dough is dry and falling to pieces. If you do add too much, add a few drops of water at a time and work that in. You want your dough to be able to patted into a smooth ball. Then let it rise according to the directions, which is only about 20 minutes. You'll need to use another sprinkle of flour when you roll out the dough too. Once you do that, your dough is ready to be made into pizza! I also adjusted the baking time. I found that once I added the extra flour and not the extra water, the dough only took about 1/2 the time to bake as the directions called for. I baked the dough for about 7 minutes until it started to lightly brown. Then I added the toppings and finished baking for another 7-8 minutes until the cheese was melted and bubbly and the crust was golden brown.

Once I made these modifications to the recipe, the pizza turned out wonderful! My family and I were so happy with the results! Now whenever we want pizza, I make some from this mix, with my modifications of course. We like to divide the dough into 4 pieces and let everyone make their own personal pizza. It makes for a fun supper and there is leftover pizza for the next day! I should add too that this pizza reheats well. I microwave the pizza for 30 seconds to a minute, depending on how much I am reheating. Heat it just until the pizza starts to bubble. Then put the pizza on a medium hot pan on the stove and finish heating until the crust is crispy. Or you could just eat it cold if you like cold pizza.

I definitely recommend Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free Pizza Crust Mix! It is a great way to be able to eat pizza again. And you don't have to overpay for it either. That is something that I really appreciate. Gluten free food can be a bit expensive so whenever I find something that isn't, I am a happy girl! So the next time you want GF pizza, try this mix! It is so easy to make, doesn't take too long to make, isn't too expensive, and taste great!

I would love to know what you think about it when you try it!

Rating: ♥♥♥♥ (out of 5 hearts)

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Gluten Free Cinnamon Rolls

Gluten Free Cinnamon Rolls and Hot CocoaCinnamon rolls are a food that I thought I would never be able to eat again. Honestly, I wasn't sure how a gluten-free version of cinnamon rolls would taste because this is a food that depends so much on the taste of the sweet bread. I was not sure that could be translated into a gluten-free version. Imagine my surprise and delight when I attempted to make them gluten-free and it was a success! It took a couple of tweaks to the recipe to get it right, but now I am happy with the end result and I am super excited to share this with you!

I included lots of step-by-step pictures with this recipe because making cinnamon rolls was something that seemed a bit daunting to me when I was a newer baker. So I decided to included lots of pictures in hope that you all can see how unintimidating it truly is to make these.

So without further ado, I present Gluten Free Cinnamon Rolls, just in time for cold weather and winter holidays! Please share this with all your gluten-free friends. Just because we can't eat gluten, doesn't mean that we can't indulge in a warm cinnamon roll with a cup of hot cocoa every now and then. :) And as always, let me know in the comments if you need any clarification or help with the recipe. Enjoy!!

Gluten Free Cinnamon Rolls

Makes 1 dozen rolls

Step 1:

1 c warm water (100-110 degrees F)

1 Tbsp. granulated sugar

1 package of rapid rise yeast (2 1/4 tsp.)

Add sugar and yeast to the warm water in a small bowl. Let sit for 5 minutes in a warm, draft free place.

Step 2:

1/4 c. unsalted butter, softened

1/2 c. granulated sugar (minus 1 tbsp that is added to the yeast and water)

Cream together in a large mixing bowl.

Butter and sugar creamed for GF Cinnamon Rolls

Step 3:

1 egg

1 tsp. vanilla

Add to butter mixture and blend well. Then add the yeast and water mixture and blend together.

Step 4:

2 1/2 c. brown rice flour, plus another tbsp. or two for rolling out the dough

3 tbsp. corn starch

1 tsp. xanthan gum

1/2 tsp. salt

Mix dry ingredients into the wet. Mix until blended together. Don't over mix; mix just until it is all combined. Dough should be stiff and slightly sticky; use just enough of the flour so that the dough is only slightly sticky, kind of like cookie dough. It shouldn't be too sticky or too dry.

GF Cinnamon Rolls Dough

Step 5:

Place a piece of wax paper on the counter and dust with brown rice flour. Turn out dough onto wax paper. Pat together into a tight ball.

Ball of GF Cinnamon Roll Dough

Step 6:

Push out the dough into a flat disc with your hands. Then flour a rolling pin and roll the dough flat. Roll it out to a 12x20 rectangle. The dough will be about 1/4 inch thick.

Rolled out GF Cinnamon Rolls Dough

Step 7:

Make the filling.

Filling:

1/4 c. butter, melted

1/2 c. brown sugar

2 tsp. cinnamon

Filling for GF Cinnamon Rolls

Step 8:

Pour the butter over the middle of the dough and spread around with a spoon. Then mix together the sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl and sprinkle all over the butter on the dough.

Filling on GF Cinnamon Rolls Dough

Step 9:

Roll up the dough at one of the short ends. If you have one side of the rectangle that is straighter, roll toward that end because a straight end will seal the roll together nicer than a jagged end. Roll the dough up tightly, slightly pressing the roll together as you roll.

Rolling up the GF Cinnamon Rolls Dough

Rolled up GF Cinnamon Rolls Dough

Step 10:

Cut the dough into 1 inch pieces. Use the length on your index finger from the end of your finger to the line at the first knuckle. This will ensure that all your pieces are the same size and will bake evenly.

Cutting the GF Cinnamon Rolls Dough

Step 11:

Spray pans with cooking spray. Place rolls in a 9x13 pan and another smaller pan.

Sliced GF Cinnamon Rolls Dough

Step 12:

Cover and place in a warm place and let the rolls rise for about 40 minutes.

GF Cinnamon Rolls Dough that have risen

Step 13:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and bake the rolls for 20-25 minutes until slightly brown around the edges.

Baked GF Cinnamon Rolls

Step 14:

Cool for about 10 minutes then top with icing.

 

Directions for making the Icing:

2 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted

1/4 tsp. vanilla

1 c. confectioner sugar

2 tbsp. unsweetened almond milk

Stir until smooth. Spoon over the warm (not hot) rolls.
Icing for GF Cinnamon Rolls
Delicious on a cold day with a cup of hot cocoa!
Finished GF Cinnamon Rolls

Fluffy Gluten Free and Dairy Free Pancakes

20131026-092644.jpgAwhile back I posted a review for King Arthur's Flour Gluten Free Pancake mix and I said how much my family and I loved the mix. And that is still true; it is a delicious pancake mix! But I wanted to be able to make my own "from scratch" pancakes, like I used to make before having to go gluten-free. So after much experimenting and after more than a few duds, which my supportive husband and kids ate (at least most of them, there were a few that even the dog didn't want to eat). :D Finally, I came up with this version of the recipe and it has been a hit ever since. Whew! And do you know what is the best thing about this recipe? It doesn't take any longer to make these than it does to make pancakes from a mix.

At last, quick and tasty from scratch pancakes again! I hope your family enjoys these gluten-free, dairy free pancakes as much as mine does.

 

Fluffy Gluten Free and Dairy Free Pancakes

2 c. Bob's Red Mill brown rice flour20131026-092604.jpg

3 tbsp. granulated sugar

2 tbsp. corn starch

1 tsp. xanthan gum

2 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. nutmeg (Yes, nutmeg. Trust me!)

1/4 tsp. cinnamon

2 eggs

2 1/2 c. unsweetened almond milk

3 tbsp. olive oil

1 tsp. vanilla

 

Combine all the dry ingredients in a large bowl; whisk to mix. Add the wet ingredients and whisk just until combined. There will be a few lumps still. That's okay; you don't want to overmix your pancake batter or else you will end up with tough pancakes. That is true for any kind of pancakes. Let the batter rest for about 5 minutes while you heat your griddle to 350 degree F.

Once the griddle is hot, lightly spray it with cooking spray and pour on the batter. Use 1/4 cup measuring cup to scoop out the batter. This will give you uniform, medium-sized pancakes. Cook the pancakes until the tops are slightly set with a few bubbles rising to the top and the edges are cooked; then flip to second side. This takes about 4 minutes. Cook on second side until the edges are completely set and the bottom is golden brown. This takes about 3 minutes. The top will spring back when lightly pressed with your finger when the pancakes are done. Try to flip your pancakes only once. Overhandling pancakes will make them tough also.

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Top with warm maple syrup and enjoy!

 

Variations:

We love to make these into blueberry or chocolate chip pancakes too. To make these variation, make the pancake batter according to the recipe. Then after you pour the batter onto the griddle, sprinkle blueberries or chocolate chips on pancakes. Then continue to cook the pancakes according to the recipe. The chocolate chip pancakes will take the same amount to time to cook, but the blueberry pancakes will take a little longer, especially if you are using cold or frozen blueberries. You are still looking for the same signs of doneness; however, it will take a bit longer. But it is SO worth it!! Blueberry pancakes are my personal favorite!

King Arthur Flour Gluten-free Muffin Mix

Back before I had to remove gluten from my diet, I created a recipe for Banana Walnut Chocolate Chip Muffins that we all loved! My daughter mentioned them the other day and asked if I could make them again soon. I've made them since going GF, but only for my children and husband to eat. Today I decided that I really wanted some banana muffins too. And since I haven't had the time to create my own GF muffins, this seemed like the perfect time to try out King Arthur Flour Gluten Free Muffin Mix. King Arthur Flour Gluten free Muffin MixThe muffin mix is a vanilla base that you can use to stir in whatever added ingredients you want. You could make them into blueberry muffins, cranberry orange muffins, or banana muffins, like I did, just to name a few. I followed the recipe on the back of the box with only a few exceptions. Since I was making banana muffins, I wanted to cream my bananas first instead of stirring them in at the end like the box recipe suggested. So I creamed my bananas really well; then I added the melted butter, almond milk (another personal choice of mine), eggs, and mixed it all together really well. The other thing that I did that was not on the box recipe was that I added my 3/4 cup of mini chocolate chips to the bag of dry ingredients and stirred them around in the flour to coat them. I have learned that it is best to coat whatever you are stirring into muffin batter with a little bit of flour first before adding them to the batter. This helps keep the added ingredient from falling to the bottom of the muffin during baking. When you take the time to coat your chocolate chips, blueberries, or whatever else you are adding, you end up with your ingredient dispersed all throughout the finished product. The last thing that I did different from the box recipe was that I did not spray my muffin papers with cooking spray. I did not do this because I didn't see it. Oops! A little to quick with the skimming of the recipe. :) Anyways, I should have sprayed my muffin papers with cooking spray because the end result makes a very light and slightly delicate muffin that sticks some to the muffin paper. I was able to carefully get most of my muffins out of the paper after baking, but I had to be extra careful. I believe that it would have been far easier if I would have sprayed my muffin paper first as the recipe indicated. I will be sure to do that the next time!

King Arthur Flour Gluten free Muffin Mix Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

So what did I think of the finished product? I loved them! They were a very light and airy muffin, not grainy at all. The rest of my family loved them too. My daughter gave me her seal of approval by asking for seconds and saying that she wished she could eat even more after that. Needless to say, I know what I'm give her for breakfast tomorrow. I really was very pleased with this product. I particularly like that it is a muffin base mix that I can use to make whatever kind of muffins my family wants on the day that I am making them. I will definitely be keeping a couple of boxes of King Arthur Flour Gluten Free Muffin Mix in my pantry from now on. I can't wait to make blueberry muffins now. Yum!!

Rating: ♥♥♥♥♥ (out of 5 hearts)

A Breakdown and the Best Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Cookies

The Best Gluten Free Chocolate Chip CookiesToday was a pretty rough day, at least the first half. I am almost 3 weeks into the first semester of the second year of nursing school and the pressure has been mounting and mounting. The instructors have made it clear that they expect a lot from us, from now until the end. We are going to be taking on more responsibility and more of a leadership role in clinicals. Talk about stress! Along with this pressure and stress came fear and anxiety. Fear and anxiety that I'm not going to do as well as I expect myself to do, that I might fail, that I might not ever figure out where I fit when I graduate, as well as a whole bunch of other little fears. All of this had been building for some time and it all finally came tumbling out of me this morning. I am so thankful that I have a husband who listens to my fears, rational and irrational, sympathizes with me, supports me, and helps me to see things with my cognitive mind when my emotional mind has taken over.

After a long talk and a lot of tears, I felt so much better. It was like someone released a pressure valve on me. It helps to be honest and say the things out loud that we are afraid of or stressed about. Oftentimes when we say them out loud, it gives our cognitive mind a chance to respond and helps us see when our thoughts are irrational or fear-based. When we keep all of it inside ourselves, the emotions keep churning and we continue to respond to all our emotion-driven thoughts as if they were all true.

So after getting everything out in our talk, I decided to take a shower before I started studying. By the way, why is it that the hot water always runs out right when I am about to start shaving my last leg? And it never gets gradually cooler; no, it seems to go straight to ice-cold. Brr!! :) Anyways, after my shower I decided to bake some cookies before I studied for the rest of the afternoon. The kids had been asking me to bake something all week, so I decided to take a little time and do it today.

Since I made the switch to gluten-free in July, 2012, I haven't made a GF chocolate chip cookie that I have been completely happy with. I've made a few recipes, a couple of box mixes, tried different flour mixes, different flour combos, and I had yet to find a chocolate chip cookie that I was completely in love with. I've made a few that were good, but they still tasted like GF cookies. So I decided to do a quick search and see if I could find a good recipe. Lo and behold I found a GF chocolate chip cookie recipe by Alton Brown from 2007! Alton Brown has a great understanding of food and the science behind it. He is my go-to chef when I am looking for a recipe. I have never made a recipe of his that didn't turn out well or that I didn't like.

So when I saw that he had a GF cookie recipe, I got really excited! And I was not disappointed. The cookies turned out perfectly! I loved them, the kids loved them, my hubby loved them. And the best part was that they did not taste like GF cookies at all. Which, after 6 months of eating gluten-free, was a very wonderful thing indeed. I have eaten many wonderful gluten-free foods over the last 6 months, but had not found the perfect GF chocolate chip cookie yet. To me, a chocolate chip cookie is the quintessential cookie. And sometimes, you just want to eat a chocolate chip cookie that tastes like the chocolate chip cookies that you used to eat. And this recipe does that for me. I have finally found it! So, although my day started off rocky, it ended very sweet. :)

You can get the recipe by clicking on the link here: Alton Brown's "The Chewy Gluten Free" from foodnetwork.com.

 

Bob's Red Mill Teff

Grains of TeffA couple of weeks ago, someone I follow on Twitter posted a recipe for teff. I had no idea what teff was so I googled it. Teff is an ancient grain from Ethiopia. It is the smallest whole grain in the world. And this tiny grain is packed with nutrients. In one serving, which is only a 1/4 cup, there are 180 calories, 1 gram of fat, 4 grams of fiber, 7 grams of protein, 10% of calcium, and 20% of iron. That's a lot of good things packed into a tiny grain! After I read about what teff was, I decided that I wanted to try it. I saw that Bob's Red Mill sold the product on Amazon. I tweeted that I was excited to try this new grain that I just learned about. Someone from Bob's Red Mill saw my tweet and contacted me, saying that they would love to provide me with a sample. I was so surprised by their kind offer and quickly accepted it. A couple of days later my package arrived. The good folks at Bob's Red Mill sent me a full sized package of teff to sample, as well as a bag of their gluten free muesli! Imagine my delight! I opened the bag of muesli right away and tasted some. It was delicious. There is a recipe for muesli cookies on the side of the bag that I'm excited about trying. I'm hoping to make some this weekend. I'll be sure to let you know how they turn out.

I made a serving of teff for breakfast. I had no idea what it was going to taste like. It had distinct aroma while it was simmering on top of the stove. Based on that, I thought that the teff would have a strong flavor, but it doesn't. Teff is actually very mild flavored. After tasting a few bites plain, I followed the directions on the bag and sweetened my bowl with a little honey. I also stirred in raisins and sliced almonds for the dried fruit and nuts that it suggested. It was delicious! While I was eating, it kept reminding me of something that I couldn't place. Finally I realized what it was, it reminded me of cream of wheat. The mild flavor and the texture are very similar to cream of wheat, which of course I can't eat anymore because it contains gluten. Now I have a gluten free replacement for cream of wheat- a warm bowl of teff!

Bob's Red Mill Teff

Whether you can eat gluten or not, I encourage you to try this mild flavored whole grain. It is quick and easy to prepare, just bring it to a boil on top of the stove then simmer until the water is absorb. It is a warm and nutritious breakfast option for cold winter mornings. I would love to hear what you think about it. Let me know in the comments section if you have ever heard of this whole grain and if you have ever tried it or want to try it.

Bowl of Bob's Red Mill Teff with honey, raisins, and sliced almonds

 

Rating: ♥♥♥♥ (out of 5 hearts)

Gluten Free Chewy Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies

Okay, so there is really nothing "good" about these cookies, other than sometimes it is nice to have a yummy treat. And these gluten free cookies fit the bill perfectly! They are chewy and chocolatey with creamy peanut butter chips. You really can't go wrong with the peanut butter and chocolate combo in my opinion. And when those two flavors are combined in a soft, chewy cookie that is also gluten free, the result is wonderful goodness. The recipe for Reese's Chewy Chocolate Cookies from the back of the Reese's peanut butter chip bag is one of my daughter's favorite cookies. And since I only bake gluten free now, I was so pleased to create a gluten-free version of the cookie that tastes so much like the original and that my daughter still loves just as much. Like I said before, these cookies are not a healthy recipe but I think that it is important to enjoy everything in moderation. So with that being said, enjoy in moderation and don't make these too often because it's hard to only eat one or two. ;) Gluten Free Chewy Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies

Gluten Free Chewy Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies

Ingredients

2 sticks of butter, softened

1 c. white sugar

1 c. brown sugar

2 large eggs

2 tsp. vanilla

1 1/2 c. *gluten free baking mix (if yours does not have xanthan gum, then add 1 tsp.)

3/4 c. dark chocolate or regular cocoa powder

1 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. salt

1 package of Reese's peanut butter chips

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Cream the butter and sugar together until fluffy. Add the vanilla and eggs; beat until combined and fluffy. Add the flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt; and mix only until the ingredients are combined. Stir in the peanut butter chips.
  3. Drop by tablespoonfuls onto a cookie sheet. Bake for 8 minutes. Remove from oven and let cookies cool on the sheet for 2 minutes. Then move the cookies to racks to finish cooling. Store in an airtight container.

Makes about 3 1/2 dozen cookies.

*Let me know if you have any problems with this recipe and the gluten free baking mix that you used. I have found that I get varied results with the different GF baking mixes regardless what I bake. For this recipe, I used my own GF baking mix that I created. I am very excited about the mix that I came up with because I have had good success so far with whatever I make with it. I would like to do some more recipe testing with it before I tell you anymore about it. In the meantime, I would like to hear if you have good success or not with the baking mix or GF flour that you use.

 

Update: Now Gluten-free and Announcing a New Section for Reviews!

When I first thought about creating this website, I wanted the focus to be on creating healthy meals from fresh foods and on changing old favorite recipes to make them healthier. I felt that we can have some control over our health by the food choices that we make. That was why I choose the tagline "Choosing better health, one plate at a time." And for the last two years that has been my focus. Then this past July I was thrown a curveball when I learned that I could not longer eat gluten. I found myself at a crossroads with this site. I wanted to continue on the path that I was on, but I could not test recipes that had gluten in them anymore. I was hesitant about becoming a strictly "gluten-free" site because there are many people who are looking for healthy recipes that are able to eat gluten and I didn't want to abandon them. I also feel like that there are already many top-notch celiac focused websites out there. So I found myself unsure of how I wanted to proceed. In the last couple of months, I have come to realize that becoming gluten-free has not been that big of an adjustment in my life because the majority of our meals were already gluten-free. The areas where I had to adjust were lunches and baking mostly. There were a few other minor adjustment to be made as well. But overall, I realized that I could still provide many healthy recipes (that just happened to be gluten-free) for everyone. The other thing that I realized was that gluten-free eating has become a necessity for many people, not just celiacs or gluten-sensitive people. There is some evidence that being gluten-free is beneficial for children with ADD/ADHD and autism. And I recently learned that a friend of mine is on a gluten-free diet to control her MS symptoms. This led me to realize that there is a larger need for healthy gluten-free recipes than I realized. That brings me to another thought, many people have the misnomer that eating gluten-free is healthier. That isn't necessarily true; it all depends on how you eat. It is possible to eat gluten-free and eat nothing but less nutritious foods. The popularity of gluten-free eating has led to more gluten-free foods being more widely available, which is a great thing; but it has also led to the creation of plenty of "junky" gluten-free foods too.

With all of this in mind, I have decided to continue my original focus of providing recipes focused on eating fresh, healthy foods but I will add gluten-free foods to that focus as well. I am also excited to announce the addition of a section for reviews and recommendations of gluten-free products and other products that my husband and I use. I have tried a lot of them in the last few months and some have been shining successes while others have been expensive duds. Gluten-free foods are more expensive and I am hoping that by passing on my own experiences, I can help you spend your money wisely when you are buying gluten-free foods.

I hope that you continue to find recipes here that you and your family enjoy. Thank you for reading and sharing my recipes. Feel free to contact me if you ever have any questions about one of my recipes. If you want to be notified when I post new content, you can subscribe or follow me on Facebook or Twitter. All of the links for these options are on the righthand side of the page. Now onward to delicious, healthy, and gluten-free food!