Thursday, July 31, 2008

Garrett County Gluten Free Chicken Bites

I found these gluten free, dinosaur shaped chicken nuggets at Sprouts earlier in the week and excitedly scouped them up. I think they were around the 5 dollar range. I had never seen them there before and was thrilled to see another kind of gluten free chicken nuggets on the market! Plus, dinosaur shapes? How could this go wrong?



Aren't they so cute? They looked and smelled delicious. As they were cooking, the smell reminded me of the Tyson chicken tenders I use to eat way back when. I couldn't wait to try them. I bit the head off of my first dinosaur, and paused. Damn. These had so much promise. The chicken was so unbelievably dry, it was difficult to chew. The coating had a weird consistency that felt powdery in your mouth. The favor couldn't even save these nuggets. They were awful. I ate 3 and a half then gave up. I advise just sticking to these nuggets that Marlow reviewed on her blog. Don't waste your money on these. I wish I hadn't.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Glutino Cheese Pizza

Okay, so, thus far I have had really good luck with the Glutino brand products. Bagels, english muffins, pretzels, crackers...all delicious. Let's keep the good luck rolling, right? So I read a good review of the Glutino Spinach and Feta pizza on Gluten Free Food Reviews and decided to try the cheese pizza on for size. Glutino has given me back my beloved bagels, could it be I could now enjoy a wonderful slice of pizza in the comforts of my home as well?

I had an absolutely exhausting day at work today, and when I came home I thought, "Well, we could either A.) Start a fast that would start tonight and end promptly tomorrow morning or B.) Make something that required no effort or thought on my part. Pizza it is!"

I have to admit, I was extremely disappointed when I removed said pizza from its wrapping. Let's just say it left a LOT to be desired...




It was so bad that the saunce/cheese topping was completely separate from the crust. Here I am holding the sauce in my hand.


Sigh. I was downtrodden, to say the least. I almost threw it away. How could this possibly be any good?? It was then that my tummy grumbled and said, "Eat this or start eating the furniture, your choice." I gave into my bossy tummy and somehow assembled my pizza the best I could. I put it in the oven and begrudgingly waited.

11 minutes later...



This is what I had. Now I know you're thinking, Stephanie, is that a frisbee? Alas, no it is my dinner. I was angry at the damn pizza at this point (can you tell how horrible my day was? Lol). I was convinced that I was on the losing end of some really unfortunate karma. When the crust wouldn't cut at one point, my boyfriend had to take the pizza cutter away from me.

I was sad when I started eating, but after my first bite, I was surprised and delighted! This is actually edible and enjoyable! I did not eat the outer crust because I thought it was a bit dry and bland, but I ate the rest and really liked it! I would definitely eat this again, believe it or not.

Ahhh, Glutino, you are a warm flannel blanket on a cold winter morning. You are the marshmellows floating in my hot cocoa. You are the moments in between hitting the snooze button for the 5th time. I love you Glutino. Let's be together forever.

Yogurt Parfait


This weekend I made my own version of a yogurt parfait. I know they make gluten free granola out there, but this girl works hard for her money, and those grocery store prices just ain't treatin' me right. So I made one using rice chex. It actually turned out really good!

So I layered it up, here's what I did:

Strawberry yogurt on bottom
layer of rice chex
strawberry yogurt
layer of fresh sliced strawberries
strawberry yogurt
layer of fresh sliced bananas
strawberry yogurt
Rice chex to top!

The rice chex are a good substitute for granola, if granola in yogurt is really your thing. If I were super artsy-fartsy I would have stuck a little strawberry slice on top to garnish, but I was hungry!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Beware of your ketchup!!

So last night I had a quick meal at my parent's house consisting of hot dogs (Oscar Meyer...a Kraft food, so OK), and some ketchup. Within 20 minutes of eating I noticed I was feeling itchy on my stomach. I just figured it was a bug bite. I went home and after my shower, I noticed clusters of tiny, itchy red bumps all over my abdomen (dermatitis herpetiformis, caused by a reaction to gluten). What the hell? What did I eat??

Well, researching my ketchup today, I figured it out. I wanted to give everyone warning, because based on the label, I thought it was hunky-dory.

Hunt's Ketchup from their website:

Q: Which Hunt's tomato products contain gluten? Do you have a list of products that contain gluten?

A: Most Hunt's tomato products are gluten-free. The exceptions include Hunt's Ketchup and Barbecue Sauce, which contain distilled vinegar made from wheat or corn and may contain trace amounts of these grains. Therefore, they are not gluten-free. Among the 11 varieties of Hunt's Spaghetti Sauces, the following three varieties include an indirect source of gluten (wheat, oats, barley, or rye):
Original Meat
Four Cheese
Italian Sausage

It is always best to read the ingredient statement printed on the label because reformulation occurs from time to time.

From the Heinz Ketchup website:

Where can I find gluten-free products?

Heinz Ketchup and Heinz Organic Ketchup do not contain any gluten (the distilled vinegar used is from corn sources). Also, Wine Vinegar, Distilled White Vinegar and Apple Cider Vinegar are gluten-free. Heinz Hot & Spicy Ketchup Kick'rs is gluten-free as well.

I have Heinz in my fridge at home. My parent's have Hunts. I noticed this and read the label, but didn't think it was bad. But I was wrong! Just wanted to give everyone the heads up! Watch out for your ketchup!

Friday, July 25, 2008

Crunch berries are for losers, anyway

It seems like for every awesome gluten free product you find, another one of your absolute favorites falls of the list. Hello Rice Chex, goodbye Cap'n Crunch's Crunch Berries.

RE: Cap'n Crunch's Crunchberries Cereal , REF.# 026554341A

Stephanie:

We're happy to address your concern regarding gluten in Cap'n Crunch Crunch Berries. We understand that individuals sensitive to gluten cannot digest even trace amounts of gluten. Since so many of our products contain grain ingredients and many products are made in the same facility, we cannot guarantee that any particular product is entirely free of gluten.

Although we would like to help you find products that meet your dietary needs, we are not able to recommend any of our products. We invite you to visit: ww.celiac.nih.gov for more information on gluten and Celiac Disease.

Thank you for your interest in our products, Stephanie. We hope this information is helpful.

Jeff
Quaker Consumer Response

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Interesting New Symtom

So I was a big dumb-dumb doodie today. I went to lunch with my boss and coworker today. I requested that my salad have no croutons or bread or anything of that nature on it. My salad showed up sans croutons, but with two delightful slabs of bread plopped right on top of my now tainted salad. Not wanting to be the "difficult customer" at the table, I opted not to send it back for a fresh one. This is when I started my reign as the Biggest Idiot In The World. I have a sash and everything. I ate the salad, silently praying maybe this one time I would get lucky.

UGH.

I am miserable at my desk right now. What's interesting though, is a new symptom I've never experienced before. My hands are shaking like mad. I am having difficulty handling papers and when I write I can barely hold my pen or pencil. My handwriting in all scribbly from my unsteady hands. It's weird. Has anyone else ever experienced this?

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Hidden Valley Ranch - The Mystery Uncovered!

A while back I posted the email from Hidden Valley Ranch stating that their regular Ranch dressing is gluten free. I world rejoiced. But I got a comment saying that someone has had bad experiences with the dressing mix. So I decided to email them again and inquire about their dressing mix, since I prefer the homemade dressing to the pre-packaged dressing. Here is their reply:

Reference Number: 5448102
Dear Ms. Freeman, (Hey! No stalking.)

Thank you for contacting us.The FDA requires that we list the following allergens on our ingredient labels:

1. Egg
2. Soybean (excluding high refined oil)
3. Dairy
4. Peanut
5. Wheat (barley, rye, oats, or any source of gluten)
6. Fish
7. Crustacean
8. Tree Nut

For the most accurate source of information, please check the back of the ingredient panel for every purchase as ingredients may change.

Currently only the following Hidden Valley Products have gluten in them:

HV Bottled Salad Dressing - Crushed Garlic Caesar
HV Bottled Salad Dressing - Fat Free Honey and Bacon French
HV Bottled Salad Dressing - Fat Free Original Ranch with Bacon
HV Salad Crispins - Bac'n & Onion
HV Salad Crispins - Italian Parmesan
HV Salad Crispins - Ranch


Again, thank you for contacting us.

Sincerely,

Cassandra Thomason
Consumer Response Representative
Consumer Services

I hereby declare today National Eat-Ranch-Dressing-In-Excess day!

Friday, July 18, 2008

Snipered by a toaster

For all of you out there that do not take cross contamination seriously: listen up. It's real.

I used to be one of you. Wash my can opener? Throw away any condiments that might have had offending knives dipped in them? Buy a designated gluten free toaster? Isn't that just a little extreme?

Until I toasted my oh-so-wonderful gluten free bagel in the community toaster at work today. I had some of the grumblies after my bagel yesterday, but dismissed it because it wasn't really serious and didn't result in anything other than gas (sorry, TMI). But today, after eating two toasted gluten free bagels (I didn't have anything else for lunch), I have found myself suffering the uncomfortable consequences of ignoring those itty bitty, teeny tiny crumbs I saw loitering in the toaster. I thought to myself, shouldn't those just burn off or something? How could crumbs so small affect me? Well, my colon has answered that last question for me, and I'd rather not hear from it anymore.

So yes, my dear gluten free friends, wash your can opener in the dishwasher. Don't pick the croutons out of your salad (despite my skepticism, I stopped doing this a long while ago), ask for a new one to be tossed without them. Replace your butter, mayo, jelly, etc or buy a separate one just for you and label it gluten free. For gosh sakes, don't let your boyfriend drink directly out of the milk carton after just eating Fig Newtons. And get that new toaster. I took this one for the team, don't let me down.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Glutino Plain Bagels

Could it be that I am so far removed from "regular" bread products that I am actually starting to like gluten free products? Or are these seriously this good?

Having just finished my breakfast here at work, I ponder this question. I just had a gluten free bagel. And I really, really liked it.


Glutino's Gluten Free Plain Bagels. God's gift to the celiac? Perhaps.

I picked these up yesterday from Sprouts. I think they were 4 dollars and some change. I decided to give the frozen gluten free bagels another try after my success at Chompies. I tried the Kinnikinnick plain bagels a while ago; they are still in the freezer, long since forgotten. I took 3 bites of it and threw it away. Then I told myself to give up on my bagel dream. Goodbye delicious bagels, our love affair was fun while it lasted. You'll always have a piece of my heart.

I had read a good review on these bagels at Gluten Free Food Reviews. I was wandering Sprouts yesterday and these happened to be on sale. I took the plunge. So this morning, armed with my plastic knife and plethora of cream cheese, I defrosted a bagel in the microwave and then toasted the shit out of it. I burnt my finger and smothered it in cream cheese. I took a bite and prepared to spit it out, if that's what the situation called for. My eyes lit up, my taste buds were tasting a regular bagel! Holy shit!

I contently devoured the rest of the bagel. Every last crumb. My tummy sighed. Hello sweet satisfaction.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Blogging machine!

This past weekend was my mom's 50th birthday. She's the beautiful lady standing next to me (with the horrible posture) in this picture:





That is my humble little family, and despite their crazyness (no, not me, noo...), I love them. We all went to dinner and took my mom to the fabulous restaurant Houston's in Scottsdale. They have the most amazing, fall off the bone ribs. My mom loves ribs, but doesn't get them often because my dad doesn't care for them. So it was perfect for her! We also all got her a 1 1/2 carat gold Journey necklace to comemerate this milestone birthday. If you don't know what that is, it looks like this:


She was completely surprised and it looks absolutely gorgeous on her, of course! I love my mom very much and was happy to put this all together to make a memorable birthday for her! Happy birthday Mom!


You may have noticed that I am blogging an obscene and unnatural amount tonight. Well, B, the love of my life, is on a short business trip right now. I am missing him terribly and I'm trying to distract myself from freaking out over every little noise the house makes. So blogging it is! Here is B and I on our recent Vegas trip:




While "daddy" is out of town, our two little girls are on high alert! And they scare the shit out of mommy by barking at nothing!


This is my little princess Constantine. She is a 3 year old chihuahua and the second love of my life. She is currently helping me blog by laying across my stomach while I type!

This is Lola. She is a 1 1/2 year old chihuahua mix. I think she's part rat terrier. She is very shy, very loving, and never makes a sound unless Constantine gets her riled up. She's needy but independent at the same time; she's currently laying by my feet, dead to the world.

So there you go, a little peek into my life. Now: It's bedtime.

My Latest Obsession

So every couple of weeks, it never fails, I am completely obsessed with a certain type of food. I eat it until I can't stand the thought of it anymore, then I move onto the next. I just got out of my tuna and rice cracker obsession, and am now in the throws of my latest infatuation: Yogurt.




This is literally a picture of how much yogurt I have in my fridge right now. This is after I've been eating yogurt 3 times a day for about a week. I also have a pretty hefty stash in my work fridge too. I can't get enough! Yogurt is labeled gluten free and has live cultures (probiotics) that help even out your digestive tract. I can't tell you that I've actually felt a huge difference eating so many probiotics, but I can tell you that I'll probably have to buy another 18 pack in a couple of days. I love it. My favorite flavors are strawberry, strawberry kiwi, and peach. I'm gonna see if the container says gluten free on the strawberry cheesecake flavor, and if it is I am trying that next. By the way, as good as the white chocolate strawberry (can you tell I LOVE strawberries, lol) sounds, it is not. Beware.

Eat more yogurt!

Summer Recipes

So, right now I am completely preoccupied with making foods that I feel represent summer. Besides scouring for fun, new grilling recipes in my spare time, I make an abundance of the good ol' standbys. Here's a few of my favorites that I happened to make all in one night (last night).


Deviled Eggs


Boil eggs. Mix mayo, mustard, pepper, and garlic salt with egg yolks. Sprinkle with paprika. Delightful!

Potato Salad



Not the best picture of my potato salad. I overcooked the potatoes last night which made them kind of crumbly. Watch out for that! Boil red skin potatoes until fork tender (maybe a little harder than this, even). Let cool and cut into large chunks. Add chopped green onion, bacon pieces (buy the ones in the aisle with the salad dressing for convenience), and dill to potatoes. In a separate bowl, combine mayo and dijon mustard. Add to potatoes, but be conservative! I've made the mistake of putting too much and it really lowers the amazingness of this side dish.
Muddy Buddies


Since Rice Chex are now gluten free, I am sure that this recipe is a lot of celiac's new favorite treat! This is quick and easy, and down right scrumpticious. Here is the recipe from the Chex website:

9 cups Rice Chex® cereal (gluten free)
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup butter or margarine
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar

1. Into large bowl, measure cereal; set aside.
2. In 1-quart microwavable bowl, microwave chocolate chips, peanut butter and butter uncovered on High 1 minute; stir. Microwave about 30 seconds longer or until mixture can be stirred smooth. Stir in vanilla. Pour mixture over cereal, stirring until evenly coated. Pour into 2-gallon resealable food-storage plastic bag.
3. Add powdered sugar. Seal bag; shake until well coated. Spread on waxed paper to cool. Store in airtight container in refrigerator.

Anybody remember Nutter Butters? I use to love those growing up, but now that those are forbidden, so I find these to be a good substitute. I generally make a half batch of these because it's more managable. Plus, if I have 9 cups of this laying around, I WILL eat it all and then tell myself I really should sign back up for that pilates class. But I won't.



Sprucing up the place..

I went to The Cutest Blog On The Block and picked out a different background for my blog since I felt the other was kinda drab. I think it's taking the background a really long time to load, so if you notice that that is the case, please let me know. Anyway, it's a really cool website with a bunch of cute things, so check it out. I'll probably be back on tonight with some food postings, so stay tuned.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Chompies: Offering gluten free bagels that don't (totally) suck!


So I was told by my coworker that she heard from someone she met over the weekend (who also has celiac disease) that I no longer have to miss bagels because Chompies makes ones that are gluten free!! Not believing my ears, I immediately hopped on the Chompies website to check out their menu. I did not see anything about a gluten free bagel. So we called and asked. Sure enough, they offer them! I suggest calling ahead to make sure they have them because both the person on the phone and our server said they had to "go check" that they had some. So I am under the impression that they may not be available all the time. So I got a gluten free bagel, toasted (this is really the only way to eat gluten free bread products, but if you are extremely sensitive to cross contamination by toaster I would recommend getting just the bagel to go and toast it in your "safe" toaster), with plain cream cheese. The bagels are the size of the "mini" regular bagels you can buy at the grocery store. They brought me two, which was nice, and I only paid the regular bagel price ($2.99). Now, down to the important stuff: taste. I was surprised that the taste of this gluten free bagel was actually quite good! The texture was a bit spongy like other gluten free breads, but it could easily be over looked by a good toasting. I found that I really liked the parts that were toasted the most, so if you're toasting it yourself, let it go a little longer than you'd leave your regular bagel. And a more than a couple of times, the taste was strongly reminiscent of a regular bagel! Oh the joy! I was really pleased with these bagels. Let's face it, it'll never be the real thing, but some of those frozen gluten free bagels don't even come close. This is a happy medium. Overall, I give these a 7 out of 10.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Amazing dinner tonight!

We went to Costco today and they had a sample of the product pictured below. B tried it and checked the box to make sure it was okay (which it was), then brought me a sample to try. We had to get it! It is soo good. It was about $15, but it has waay more than 1 serving in it.



We decided to make tacos with it tonight. You let the meat defrost and grill it. It's really quick and simple. We cut the meat into little pieces, and heated some Mission white corn tortillas in a skillet.



I made some of the Black Bean and Corn dip that I posted in one of my previous posts. It's really good to put in your tacos, or eat as a side with tortilla chips.



Throw in a little lettuce, cheese, sour cream, and refried beans, and you have yourself an awesome dinner! We are going to make mini quesadillas with some of the extra meat added in tomorrow! It doesn't get much better than that!

Happy 4th of July! ...a day late

Yesterday was 4th of July; B and I were going to a barbeque at his mom's friend's house. I was feeling in the mood bake up a red, white and blue themed treat, so I googled 4th of July recipes to get some good ideas. I decided to go with an idea for brownies I found on the Betty Crocker website.


My favorite brownie mix (and one I ALWAYS have on hand) is the Whole Foods brand 365 brownies.




I made the brownies, then drizzled them with Pillsbury (be careful when picking your frosting because not all are gluten free) white frosting. I put about 1/3 of the container in the microwave for about 1 minues to make it runny enough to pour. I cut the brownies first, then B poured a light amount of frosting over them. The recipe on the website called for star decorations, but my store didn't have any so I bought red and blue sprinkles. A little shake of those, and my themed dessert was finished!






They didn't quite look at pretty as the Betty Crocker ones, but they sure were tasty! Here is the toppings up close:




And I am proud to report that despite there being probably a triple batch of reguler, gluten-filled brownies there as well, I only came home with 3 brownies left on my plate! Gluten free can be delicious too, don't let anyone say otherwise!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

No one said it would always be easy

Most days I find I enjoy being gluten free and don't find it to be a struggle whatsoever. I have found a great new hobby in cooking and love coming up with new meals to try. But then, there are days, where this diet seems downright cruel. Like when I walked into the kitchen at work yesterday to find complimentary, delicious-smelling donuts. I had forgotten about donuts, believe it or not. But to have that familiar smell of a glazed donut dancing its way into my nostrils, it made me want to sell both of my beloved chihuahuas to a fur coat maker just to be able to sink my teeth into one (or...six). If I close my eyes and imagine, I can still remember the taste and texture of donuts. Today is no easier. I have visions of Subway sandwiches and bagels flying through my head. Then, to make matters worse, I walk into the kitchen at work today, and someone baked brownies and cookies. They look and smell amazing. I watch as my coworker eats one of each and my tummy silently cries. There are days where I can look at a cookie and not even want it. No thanks, I say without hesitation. Those are the days when I am most proud of what I have accomplished thus far with this diet. But then there are the days when I am at a birthday party and everyone is enjoying pizza and I'm eating a salad that's only sub-par. When everyone is eating birthday cake and I have nothing. When I make a gluten free angel food cake that's inedible. These days I feel weakened. I feel like life is giving me one test after another to see how strong my resolve is, how dedicated I am. But even at my weakest, I refuse to give up.