Wednesday, August 5, 2015

New Chapter and A Fresh Start

Here we go. (Again)

A bit of a fresh start is needed for this ol' gal. For many reasons. Let's just jump right into it, shall we?

I'm currently in the waiting period to hear back on blood tests that will either confirm a previous diagnosis of celiac disease or well...not.

A while back, after some gall bladder complications, I decided I wanted to retest for celiac to rule out the possibility that said ornery gall bladder could have been my problem all along. To do so, I had to do a gluten "challenge," which basically meant I got to eat with wild and reckless abandon. Then they would rerun my blood work.

Fast forward to 3 years (and SO! MANY! OREOS!) later. Oooops.

So. Here we go. Again. A week-ish or so from now I could be navigating the gluten free waters once again. And it seems A LOT has changed in the time I've been gone. It's a whole new learning experience to be had out there.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Gluten Free Banana Bread Using Better Batter

I've been on a total banana kick lately...which is funny as several years ago I used to hate bananas. But now, they are the cream cheese to my bagel <3. I also recently picked up some Better Batter flour mix at Gluten Free Country Store (this is an uncompensated review, btw) that I've been itching to use. So what better than to combine the two and make banana bread!!!

I found the recipe using Pinterest (umm...hello, love that site). The original recipe can be found here.

The results didn't disappoint!!

Gluten Free Banana Bread

 (pics are from my iPhone, so sorry if they are shitastic)

1 stick of butter (1/2 cup), softened (sub dairy free if necessary)
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
4 large overripe, mashed bananas
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine butter and sugar until creamy. Add mashed bananas, eggs, and vanilla. Beat until well combined.

In a separate bowl, combine GF flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Add the dry mixture to the wet mixture and stir until combined. Pour into a greased bread pan.

Bake for 55 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool before removing from pan.

(again...iPhone pic. My apologies)

I can't vouch for what non-GF banana bread tastes like (see: aforementioned hatred of bananas), but to me, I can't tell this bread is gluten free! It is dense, but not spongy. It's moist, but not mushy. It has just the right amount of sweetness. The crust is the best part: a little crunchy, a little chewy. This bread is so delicious, I will definitely be making it again! And again. And again.

So far I love Better Batter's flour is a cup-for-cup substitute that stands up in recipes really well. If you haven't browsed their website yet, check out their recipe archive. So many good recipes, it leaves my head spinning!!

If you live in Arizona, the ONLY place I have been able to find Better Batter products is at Gluten Free Country Store! Check them out ASAP! Love them!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Little crawler, dairy light, and thanks

Hi everyone! I hope you all are enjoying your summer! The heat here in Arizona has been absolutely brutal. Ben and I aren't getting out of the house much these days because I just can't handle toting a nearly 20 lb (!!!!!) baby around in his 20 lb carseat without dying of heat stroke. So my days have been filled with this...

And with rescuing Benjamin from sticky situations like these...

And this..

As you can tell, he is officially MOBILE! He is in every single corner of this house and is exploring every possible inch he can get to. It has been a lot of fun watching him discover his world, but it also doesn't leave very much downtime for me. I'm enjoying every day as it comes, but am collapsing into bed each night completely exhausted. I'm going to have my hands full with this kid!

To play a little catch up, Benjamin just turned 6 months old. He is tipping the scales at just over 19 pounds and his doctor has confirmed that he is definitely bigger overall than most babies his age, but he's perfectly plump and not overweight! LOL :)

We have gotten his acid reflux under control--finally!! He has a pretty severe case, requiring 2 different medications to keep it under control. He's become a much more pleasant little boy since figuring it out!

He's also started solids! I give him rice cereal, as well as vegetable and fruit purees. He's taken to it really well and so far isn't a very picky eater. Fingers crossed this continues! I'm making the majority of his baby food, except for a few things that I can't get a smooth enough texture out of (like green beans) and things I'm not interested in trying to puree (like prunes...blech).

I talked to his pediatrician at his most recent appointment about his milk protein sensitivity. He told me that as he gets older, his threshold for how much he can tolerate will increase. So, after what--4 months or so?-- of being dairy free, I now consider myself dairy-light. I am allowing a little bit of dairy in my diet. Okay....full confession time? I may have gone a little overboard in the last few days because I'm so excited about having some of my favorites again. :) Oh, and for the record, the first splurge was pizza. And ranch dressing. I nearly died in the car afterwards when I realized I could eat CREAM CHEESE again! And no more spending a ridiculous $6 for a bag of dairy free mini chocolate chips!

I'm so excited about having more options again that I am itching to get in the kitchen and dust off my apron and get to baking. With, you know, real butter! I recently tried the Better Batter gluten free flour mix to make breaded chicken breasts and I loved it so I can't wait to see how it holds up in other recipes. Hopefully sometime this week I'll have my answer.

Benjamin's pediatrician is also 100% on board with not introducing any form of gluten into Ben's diet until I feel comfortable (have I mentioned that I LOVE his doctor?!). Right now I won't even think about it until probably after he turns a year old (which will be never, right? Because my baby is never going to grow up. RIGHT?!). I'm going to wait until then to make a more firm decision based on what feels right to us.

Lastly, to wrap this up so I can go to bed, because it's 9:28 pm and therefore encroaching on my bedtime, I just want to thank everyone who wrote to me to give me their tips on being dairy free! I appreciate all the advice that was given to me! It's always hard to start a new elimination diet so to have people telling me what works for them was a big help to me and I appreciate all the encouragement and support! Thank you!!!!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Gluten Free Jubilee at Sprouts

Gluten Free Jubilee is back at Sprouts! And in honor of Celiac Awareness Month, this time the sale lasts for TWO WEEKS!!! Gluten free items are 25% off May 11th-25th! This is very exciting; time to stock up!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Mexican Taco Soup (Gluten Free, Dairy Free)

I got this recipe from the Whole Foods Recipe App on my iphone. I changed it here and there to fit my needs. I really liked it! It was simple, easy, and used things I almost always have on hand. Plus, I just really love Mexican food.

Mexican Taco Soup

1 pound ground turkey
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 package taco seasoning
2- 14 oz cans of gluten free chicken broth
1 can black beans, rinsed
1- 14.5 oz can of diced tomatoes
1 can corn
1 1/2 cups medium salsa

Brown turkey in a large skillet. At the same time, cook onions in a large soup pot until translucent. Add garlic and turkey to the onion in the soup pot. Sprinkle the taco seasoning over the meat and add the remaining ingredients. Simmer, covered, for 15-20 minutes and enjoy!

Sooo easy, perfect weeknight meal!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Gluten Free/Dairy Free Check In -- Week 4 & 5

We might have hit a breakthrough. It hasn't been easy though.

Last week was hard. On top of being fussy, Ben started to really fight me at feedings. He would latch, unlatch, arch his back away from me, squirm, cry, sometimes was exhausting and truly baffling. I was at a month being dairy free--which originally seemed like the answer! But here I was, my baby was sleeping less and was now apparently trying to launch himself away from me while screaming during feedings. And to top it all off, the eczema on his legs was flaring up. We took him in to the doctor's office because I just didn't know what direction I should take. Continue dairy free? Test it? Find out if it's a different food? He also started fighting taking a bottle like a champ. We switched him to soy formula which he took to fine at first (he gets formula in the few instances I'm away from him). Then he would have nothing to do with it. So was soy a problem? But he won't take the hypoallergenic (read: $$$$$) formula either. Is he just being opinionated and picky?

As you can see, my head was spinning so fast and I didn't know what to do. Within the first 5 minutes of being with the doctor he said, "Yep, he has reflux!!" He wrote us a prescription for Zantac that really seems to be helping a lot. He told me to wait a week and then try to start challenging the dairy and see if Ben has a reaction. He said to just start eating dairy as I normally would, but to be honest, I am TOTALLY chicken to just jump back in. I'm afraid I'm going to eat something cheesy and delicious then follow it up with a big ol' bowl of chocolate ice cream, then all of the sudden at 3 am Ben is going to unlatch, look up at me with his red eyes, sprout horns, and before I have a chance to protect myself, he'll just eat my head right off. I'm baby steppin'. Dunking my little pinky toe back into the dairy pool, if you will. I had some ranch dressing the other day (I KNOW, RIGHT?!?!). Then allowed myself a chocolate pudding cup a while later. Yesterday I had the same, but I threw some white cheddar cheetos in the mix. So far, Ben has been an angel. Last night he even slept 7 1/2 hours.....STRAIGHT. I don't anticipate this happening again, however; I feel like babies like to giveth and then taketh away and laugh in your face while you're crying from sleep deprivation.

Deep down in my heart, though, I'm secretly hopeful that the reflux has been the problem all along and I can go back to my life wherein I drowned myself in cheese, and ice cream, and chocolate cupcakes. Also, my birthday is about a week away and I would really like to eat an entire gluten free chocolate cake (with chocolate frosting) all by myself and not suffer the wrath of demon-dairy baby.

This week I finally made my first solo outing with the baby...and where did I go? Gluten Free Country Store, of course!!! It had been waaaaay too long since I'd be there, and boy have I been missing out! They have so much GOOD stuff! And a ton of things I haven't tried yet! I was sad though because without knowing whether or not I am staying dairy free, I had to turn down a lot of really good looking food! I'll definitely be making another stop if I get to enjoy dairy again. But I did get Better Batter flour mix to try! And also some Enjoy Life dairy free chocolate chips. And some dairy free/soy free butter. So do I see some chocolate chip cookies in my future? Hmmm....maybe!

Also....Happy Earth Day!!!

This year, in our house, we are trying to lessen our waste amd reduce our carbon footprint by starting to cloth diaper (about 3/4 of the time, at least at first). So we're going green and saving some green at the same time! Hooray!

Alright, well I'm off to take care of the baby...what's that? You'd like to see some super adorable pictures of him?


Dang, I make cute babies. :)

Monday, April 11, 2011

GF/DF Week 3, Funny Story, Amazon, and Granola Bars

I made it through another week. This week was hard, I'm not going to lie. Chocolate is my best friend and I've been thinking about it constantly. It's a weakness. It's hard too that everywhere I look there is delicious Easter candy on sale. Of all the holidays (and yes, I do rate them based on candy selection), Easter candy is my favorite. Delicious chocolate bunnies and tiny chocolate eggs and, even better, chocolate eggs stuffed with all kinds of yummies...I love it all and I'm lusting over it in the aisles of the grocery stores. Ben was also having a bit of a rough week (I'm blaming a growth spurt) so I was feeling a bit defeated. But I stuck it out and I have decided to divert my attention to making homemade strawberry sorbet. Hooray!

While I'm talking about my adjustment to being dairy free, I have to share a funny story. Last Saturday, Brandon and I were celebrating our anniversary 2 days early and went to dinner at the same fancy restaurant we go to every year. I was concerned about navigating the menu now that I had extra precautions to take. I made sure to tell the waiter to omit the butter on my steak, and we had him hunt down a GF/DF dessert option (hence my new obsession with strawberry sorbet) and I thought, Yay! I aced my first restaurant trip! So here's the funny part -- I was really worried about my salad course. They had a wedge salad but I knew I couldn't have ranch dressing on it. I'm not much of a fan of other dressings so I chose something else...something that only had oil and vinegar on it! What was it?? Fresh Mozzarella and Sweet Tomato salad. Caprese, essentially. I ate it, enjoyed it, didn't think anything of it and neither did Brandon! HAHAHA. I was sooo concerned about avoiding the dairy in ranch dressing that I ate three slices of mozzarella cheese without so much of a second thought. But what makes this story even funnier? I didn't realize that I did this until a WEEK later. For some reason, that salad popped in my head and I stopped and thought--Waaaaiiiitttt a second...mozzarella is cheese! I told Brandon later and he had the same reaction as me! I can't believe we missed that!! Hahaha--duuuhhhhh. I've been so used to just looking for hidden gluten that it's kinda hard to switch gears and analyze all ingredients for dairy too. Oy. Well, there's always a learning curve!!

In other news, I have to say that I love love love Amazon. I buy a rediculous amount of stuff from there already, but I've just recently discovered the joys of ordering gluten free products from there as well. For example, my 6-pack of Kinnikinnick Animal Cookies just arrived today and I'm already plowing through my first box. But what's even better is that you can get a 3-pack of Udi's gluten free granola or if you don't want to commit to one flavor, you can get their sampler pack! How convenient is that?!?! I love it! What I especially love is that a 3-pack is only $14.00 which equals out to about $4.67 a pouch. I think at Sprouts I pay $5-6 each! Ouch! I love their granola so this is a major SCORE for me!! (By the way, I'm not getting paid or anything to say this, I'm just genuinely excited to find this as I can't always get to Sprouts when I'm out of these things because of the little one.)

Finding Udi's gluten free granola sold in bulk on Amazon is perfect timing because I just made the most addicting gluten free granola bars!! I use to love putting their granola in yogurt but since I can't do that anymore, I had to find a different way to get my fix. Granola bars are perfect because I can grab it quick and eat it on the go and one-handed! That is a must these days! The batch I just made last Friday barely lasted through the weekend; it was sooo addicting.

Here's the recipe in case you want to give it a try. I'm going to type it up exactly as I did it. I had to wing it a bit because I discovered that my light brown sugar was as hard as a rock. So I improvised and used granulated sugar and 2 tablespoons of molasses. My next time making it I will probably half the molasses because that flavor was very prominent to me when I first bit into it. These are also pretty sweet so make adjustments according to your preference.

Chewy Gluten Free Granola Bars

1/4 cup butter (I used dairy free Earth Balance)
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons molasses
1 package Udi's gluten free Au Naturel granola
1 cup Enjoy Life Perky's Flax cereal
1 tablespoon flax seed meal
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon xantham gum
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a medium size bowl, combine the granola, flax cereal, flax seed meal, cinnamon, xantham gum, salt, and vanilla extract. Set aside. Combine butter, honey, sugar, and molasses in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil and cook until sugar is melted. Remove from heat and add to the bowl of dry ingredients. Toss the mixture to completely combine and coat. Spread and pack firmly into a greased 13 x 9 inch pan. I let it sit for a couple of hours at room temp to harden up. You can also speed up the process by putting in the refridgerator for an hour or so.

These were so delicious I'm making a second batch today. :)