Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Ode To Chili's (I Hope You Die A Fiery Death)

My local Chili's chain,
How I hate you so,
I have heard about your gluten free menu,
So today I decided to go.

I didn't get risky,
Decided to play it cool,
I ordered a caesar salad,
To prevent an intestinal duel.

But you deceive me so!
What did you do?
Just pick the croutons out of my lettuce?
How could I ever trust you?

I couldn't make it through half,
Forgive me if I say,
You weren't worth the plate you were served on,
Yet still, I had to pay.

And now my tummy grumbles,
It's been awhile since it's been this bad,
Tonight it could barely handle,
The gluten free sandwich I just had.

So here's to you, you piece of shit Chili's,
You listen close, you hear?
Here's a big middle finger from me,
And oh, Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Farewell to 2008!

Merry (late) Christmas everyone! I hope everyone had great gluten free holidays! I had a FANTASTIC Christmas and got what I have always dreamed about....



A KITCHENAID MIXER!!!

It's beautiful isn't it?

I've been struggling with my pathetic little handheld mixer for a while now, and I've been dying for one of these. My little handheld mixer could not EVER mix bread dough. So if I ever wanted to make delicious gluten free sandwiches, I had to go to my mom's house and mix it there. That's not an easy feat when you're trying to transport 47 different flours. (lol)

So this past weekend, I excitedly made my first loaf of gluten free flax bread in my new mixer. I already see BLT's (remember those?) in my very near future.

This bread is the absolute best bread I have ever tried. Brandon even said that if I make this, he will stop buying regular bread at the grocery store. YAY! Plus, flax seeds are fantastic for your health. Go here to read about all the ways flax seed is good for you!

Gluten Free Flax Seed Bread

(Please follow this link to see the actual recipe. There is a link to her cookbook there as well.)

Ingredients


1 1/4 cups gluten-free flour
1/4 cup garfava flour
1/2 cup potato starch
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/4 cup flax seed meal
2 1/2 teaspoons xanthan gum
2 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
2 egg whites
1 cup water or milk
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons honey
2 teaspoons vinegar


Directions


1. Combine flours, flax, starches, gum, yeast, salt.
2. In the mixer, combine wet ingredients, then add the dry.
3. Scrape the sides, and mix on medium for 4-5 minutes.
4. Pour into 9x5 pan, and let rise to top of pan (took about 80 minutes). I always, always let it rise in a turned off oven.
5. Bake at 350F for about 40 minutes.
6. Remove from pan, cool, and slice.

For the flour, I used the Whole Foods brand 365 gluten free flour mix, and since that already has xantham gum in in, I added half the amount called for in the recipe. Garfava flour is a mix of Garbanzo bean flour and Fava bean flour...it took some searching but I found it at a Whole Foods already mixed by Bob's Red Mill.

Tomorrow is New Years Eve, I will be celebrating it quietly. I am looking forward to 2009 with great excitement! I have just over 90 days to finish all this wedding planning! So far I have the location, the dress and accompaning accessories, the cake, the bridesmaid's dress, the officiant, the DJ, and the flowers. I know what I want to do for favors, and I have received what I ordered for it, now I just have to go get the other parts needed to put them all together. I have picked out invitations, just need to order them. I know who is catering, just have to book them. And I am planning on booking the rental stuff (tables, chairs, etc...did I mention the wedding is in a residential park?) at the Arizona Bridal Show coming up here in about a week and a half. So that leaves odds and end stuff and....a photographer. UGH. WHY do they have to be so EXPENSIVE? I'm sure I've forgotten something, too. Lol. I've somehow managed to keep my cool through all this. No Bridezilla moments...yet. :)

So here's to a healthy, happy, gluten free 2009!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Gluten Free TABASCO Products

I just wanted to share the email response I got from TABASCO regarding their products:


Thank you for your interest in our TABASCO® Brand Products. All of our products that contain vinegar as an ingredient, use high quality distilled vinegar. Distilled vinegar is produced by fermenting a grain based alcohol. The principal grains used to produce the alcohol are wheat and milo. Gluten and other proteins are completely removed during the alcohol fermentation and distillation process.

According to the definitions set forth by the Codex Alimentarius Commission, a joint standards program of the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United States (FAO), the following TABASCO® Brand products are considered “Gluten Free”:

TABASCO® Brand Pepper Sauce
TABASCO® Brand Chipotle Pepper Sauce
TABASCO® Brand Habanero Pepper Sauce
TABASCO® Brand Garlic Pepper Sauce
TABASCO® Brand Green Pepper Sauce
TABASCO® Brand Garlic Basting Sauce
TABASCO® Brand New Orleans Style Sauce
TABASCO® Brand Caribbean Style Steak Sauce

These products were analyzed for Gluten by the Food Allergy Research and Resource Program (FARRP) at the University of Nebraska –Lincoln. FARRP was not able to find any detectable amounts of gluten in these products. If the McIlhenny Company can be of further assistance please do not hesitate to ask.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

One Year Anniversary

Tomorrow is my one year anniversary of being gluten free. And, coincidentally enough, I will be designing my gluten free wedding cake tomorrow on this milestone anniversary. I'm honestly amazed.

I feel like I am living a fairytale right now. Everything is just falling into place, as if the universe is just going about its master plan and I'm just here to enjoy it all. I am loving every second.

There really isn't a more perfect date for this cake appointment to fall on. It is proof of this incredible transformation and journey that I have made this past year. Before this year, I had never ever succeeded at this diet. No sooner had I started the diet, that I was falling off the wagon again. It was so rough for so many years. I didn't think I would ever be able to abide by this restrictive diet. What good could possibly come from denying myself all of my favorite foods? And how would I not starve to death?

I resented this disease for a long, long time. I even convinced myself that despite my "definitive diagnosis," the doctor had it all wrong and there was something else wrong with me. I told myself that no one could ever get this diet right 100% of the time, so I gave myself permission to stop trying. I would eat these poisonous foods until my body felt on the brink of a strike. Then I'd be on a loose (ahem...very loose) gluten free diet for a few days until I was met with my nemisis -- a sandwich. I'm sure everyone around me rolled their eyes when I told them I was going gluten free again! I probably said that SO many times, and every time I wouldn't follow through.

I had my "Why Me?" period too. I wanted everyone to feel as sorry for me as I felt for myself. I was downright depressed at the thought of giving up seemingly EVERYTHING for the rest of my life. I felt like my future was bleak. I didn't want to do it. I didn't want to live without chicken nuggets, or macaroni and cheese, or french toast! How could I go to Disneyland and NOT have a churro? Was I never going to get a corn dog or funnel cake at the Arizona State Fair ever again?

Then I got mad. I distinctly remember saying, or rather, yelling, "THIS IS FREAKING STUPID!! HOW DO THEY EXPECT ANYONE TO DO THIS STUPID DIET! IT'S NOT POSSIBLE!!!!" I thought, unless I starve to death or enjoy walking around looking like a twig, there's no way I could survive giving up gluten.

And then my body didn't give me a choice. It told me when the it was time to stop making excuses for how I was living and to start looking at the reality of the situation. A year ago I was so miserably ill. I could barely stomach any food without extreme nausea and stomach cramps. There was one day that I couldn't leave the house because I honestly could not get my butt off the toilet. That day I took twice the recommended dosage of immodium and it didn't do a thing. I had to have my boyfriend get me wet wipes because I was going so frequently. I would cry on the toilet and then cry when I tried to sit down. I'm sorry for giving so much information, I just really want everyone to know that there comes a point when your body just can't take it anymore. And I know most of us probably have similar horror stories. After the extreme diarrhea subsided, I had cramps so bad in my abdomen that I couldn't do anything. It was hard to stand, sit, breathe, talk, think, sleep. I couldn't eat anything. My appetite vanished. I'd try to eat things easy on my stomach, and I'd get a bite or two in and have to stop. I couldn't handle soda for weeks. For the first time since my diagnosis, I listened to what my body was telling me.

After a short time of a light, gluten free diet, I started feeling better. A lot better. This time was different. I don't know how to explain it, but it was like once I started, I couldn't quit. I wasn't going to let myself down. And most importantly, I didn't want to let Brandon down. I don't know if he fully understands how much motivation he gave me then and how much he continues to give me. I knew if I gave up again, he would be really disappointed in me, and that was enough to keep me on the straight and narrow. I would think of having to tell him that I ate some sort of glutenous treat that day and how bad it would make me feel to let him down. That was my motivation. I was amazed at how easy it became to turn forbidden items down. And soon it became, "Well, I haven't cheated once in two months, I can't ruin this streak now!" I could see with every passing month that Brandon was so proud of me, and heck, I was really proud of me too. I had accomplished the impossible.

And that brings us to today. In the beginning, there was a LOT of researching. A lot of finding out that oops, maybe this ketchup isn't gluten free after all! (see previous post). Lets face it, I had a lot of learning to do in the kitchen too. Everything I made before was convenient, frozen, terrible-for-my-gut foods. I had to learn how to make everything. But in the process of learning how to cook, I learned a lot about myself. Cooking and baking is now a passion of mine that I crave. I don't even care what I make, I just have to be in the kitchen. Brandon has always been my biggest supporter. He is up for anything I want to try. Even when I have cooked something that I am hesistant about, he soothes my worried nerves and most importantly, he eats it without a complaint. He is just as knowledgable about this disease as I am, and he speaks up for me when sometimes I am too shy to do it myself.

That is why I am so excited to be picking out my gluten free wedding cake on this anniversary. I consider having a gluten free wedding cake to be a HUGE accomplishment for me, and I owe it all to him--the man I am going to spend the rest of my life with. I've never been happier in my whole life.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Sof'ella Organic Gluten Free Chocolate Cake Mix

This cake is sold at Costco in a two pack. You get two packs of cake mix and two packs of frosting mix. It is sold for $9.99. I had eyeballed this once before, but was hesistant to buy so much of a cake mix I wasn't sure I'd like. But my mom said that she tried a sample of this on Free Food Day (that's what Brandon calls it) and she said it was really good. So she bought it to try. After hearing that she thought it was good, I picked up a box the next time I was at Costco.

Now, I haven't actually made this myself yet, so I can't tell you how simple it is. But from what I remember reading on the box, it requires few ingredients and is seems easy to prepare. My mom made the cake for me over Thanksgiving weekend. I wanted to post this review even though I don't have pictures, because I don't want anyone to pass this over in the store because they haven't heard of it.

This cake mix is by the far the best gluten free chocolate cake I have EVER had. It is so moist and fudgey. The texture is absolutely amazing. I swear, gluten eaters wouldn't even know they were eating anything different. As I was eating it, I was going on and on about how my tastebuds were exploding in pleasure. I even had myself a second slice. Awesome.

The frosting included in the package sucked though. I don't like it at all. But I don't like most of those powdered sugar and cocoa frostings. I scraped it all off. But this cake is so moist and delicious that I told my mom that you could make the cake and just leave off the frosting all together and you would miss it a bit.

Here's the bottom line. You are missing out if you do not buy this cake on your next Costco run. It is to die for.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Sugarlips Cakery -- Offering Gluten Free Wedding Cake

I found a bakery here in Arizona close by that makes gluten free wedding cakes! It was not easy. The closest place I found before was 2 hours away! And I'd have to transport my own cake the day before the wedding. Umm...no.

Sugarlips Cakery.

They don't do free gluten free cake testings, so we had to buy the smallest cake they made, pictured below.


25 dollars to make sure I didn't hate their gluten free cake. 25 dollars to make sure I didn't spend hundreds of dollars on a cake I didn't like. 25 dollars to get a cake that was SUPPOSED to have strawberry filling, but did not.


I harbor a little bitternes, I know. But I searched far and wide for this cake, and I am determined to be able to eat some cake at my own wedding! So, on to the important stuff...taste...

The cake is good. You can tell by looking at the cake and its texture that it is "different." The flavor does not taste like regular cake, however, that is not to say it isn't good. On the first bite, I'm like, Hmm this is different, but then after I find I actually like this different flavor. The texture is not light, airy, and fluffy like regular cake either. It is dense, and rough almost.

I know that it sounds like I am giving this cake a bad review. I can't say that I am not a little disappointed that this gluten free cake does not miraculously taste like the real thing. My dream was to have a completely gluten free wedding cake that everyone would eat and no one would be the wiser. But I like the cake, and my fiance likes the cake. I have decided that we will have a gluten free portion of the cake, probably suspended by pillars or whatever they do, so it does not touch the rest of the cake. This will be the portion of the cake that we will eat and shove in each other's faces. Our gluten free guests (which will be a total of....one. Woohoo! Michelle!) can also eat this. Then the rest of the cake will be regular cake. This will save us 50 cents per serving on the majority of the cake. And I know it'll get eaten and people won't throw it away.

Or I could just go really simple and serve Ring Tings from Shabtai Gourmet...

Shabtai Gourmet Gluten Free Ring Tings

Every review that you have read about these little gems is true. My shipment arrived today and these are FABULOUS. I literally skipped around my house after I scarfed it down.





I was so excited to try it that I didn't take a picture until after. The flavor of these are incredible, which is surprising since it is free of so many things. In case you can't read the picture, these are gluten free, lactose free, casein free, soy free, and dairy free. And I thought the same as you are probably thinking right now, Aren't three of those essentially the same thing?



The cake part of these are admittedly a bit on the dry side, and the filling is really dense. It's like a really thick frosting, but tastes good. But it works. It's a ding dong, just as good as the ones you used to love, except now it's legal!

If you want to try a premade treat and not be disappointed, order these now. Click here for the website. Did I mention they are offering FREE SHIPPING??

Gluten Free Chicken Cordon Bleu

I found this recipe at delish.com and made it last night. And it was sooooo good!

I am one of those crazies that never ate chicken cordon bleu pre-gluten free. I've seen recipes for it since getting my gluten free act together, and they've all be breaded and oh, how I've wanted it in my belly.

This was so simple and incredibly delicious. I'll definitely be making it again and would consider making it for guests (or even a little extra for leftovers!).

Gluten Free Chicken Cordon Bleu
4 servings

1 tablespoon butter
4 small chicken breasts
1/2 cup chicken broth (make sure it's gluten free. I use Swanson's..just not the organic kind. I've read it isn't gluten free)
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/8 teaspoons black pepper
4 slices of ham
4 slices part-skim mozzarella cheese

1. In a large nonstick skillet, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Add chicken and saute until golden brown on the bottom. Turn chicken and reduce heat to medium; cover and cook until chicken is done.

2. Raise heat to medium-high and stir in broth, vinegar, and black pepper. Cook, uncovered, 1 minute, then remove skillet from heat.

3. Top each chicken breat with a ham slice, then a cheese slice. Cover skillet until cheese melts, about 3 minutes.

4. Plate the chicken and drizzle the sauce over top.

Those are the directions from the recipe. I thought the cheese didn't really melt enough by leaving it covered in the skillet. I left it in there longer than 3 minutes too, but it didn't get really gooey like I wanted it. So, if I had a do-over, I'd take the chicken with the ham and cheese, put it on a baking sheet and stick it in a low oven for a couple of minutes to really melt the cheese. I wanted it oozing all over the place, and doing it the way the recipe says just makes it stick to the ham, but not go anywhere. So if structured cheese is your thing, do it in the skillet. But if you're like me and want strings of gooey cheese dripping all over your chicken and hanging out of your mouth after every bite, try the oven.

Happy Friday to everyone! We're getting a Christmas tree this weekend, yippee!