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. :)

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Greater Phoenix Gluten Free Expo!!

The Greater Phoenix Gluten Free Expo is back!

This expo is being held at the Sheraton Cresent Hotel on April 16th from 10 am to 2 pm. The cost of entry is only $5. I went last year and it was fun! They give you a bag and you are loaded up with free samples and goodies of gluten free products! You also get to meet a lot of great people from local restaurants that offer gluten free menus and meet representatives from some gluten free companies! Last year I even spoke with the general manager of the Outback Steakhouses in our area and told him that I ALWAYS get glutened at their restaurants! If they talk the talk, they better be able to walk the walk, right?

Here is the location information, I hope everyone in the Phoenix area is able to check it out:

Sheraton Cresent Hotel
2620 W Dunlap Ave
Phoenix, AZ 85021

You can also visit their website for more info.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Gluten Free/Dairy Free Check In - Week Two

Well, I have officially rounded the bend of two weeks being dairy free. Our pediatrician says that it takes at least this long for the cow's milk proteins to get out of my tissues. Now for the next two weeks, we monitor Ben's behavior to see if the elimation diet has made any difference.

So what have I noticed?

This past week, it's like I have an entirely different baby. A baby that I actually enjoy being around, and believe it or not, I miss him when he goes to sleep. Ben has been a fussy, fussy baby since his 2nd day of life. It was downright exhausting most days. If he wasn't sleeping, he was crying or fussing and nothing could make him happy. Getting him to sleep was a battle most of the time too. You can imagine how frazzled and helpless I felt at the end of each day. But now? He's smiling this HUGE smiles that engulf his whole face. He's content to sit by himself in his bouncy seat and stare at the monkeys hanging from the bar in front of him. He kicks his legs and throws his arms out at the same time, thoroughly entertaining himself. He's chatting up a storm, filling our house will coos, gurgles, and loud shrieks. And he rarely fusses at all. He's happy to just stare at whatever is around him, taking it all in. It is amazing. And dare I say, EASY?

Yesterday we had him out and about all day long and he barely napped. I thought for sure that he was going to have a meltdown of epic proportions. But he didn't. He was just hanging out, quiet as can be. Several people even said he was such a "chill" baby. It's borderline weird to hear someone say that given the struggles we encountered during his first 10 weeks of life.

It's exhilarating though. I feel like a whole new woman. I can leave the house without worrying about whether or not he'll tolerate it! As far as my limited diet goes, I had a hard time at the beginning. I felt like I was starving to death the first couple of days. It was frustrating because it was like starting all over from the beginning. What unassuming products have dairy? What can I eat? How can I go on living without chocolate and ice cream, and most importantly, chocolate ice cream? But luckily with this elimination, I knew what to expect. I knew the first few days were the hardest. And I knew that loading up my house with several options of safe foods would be the key to my survival and sanity. And even luckier this time around, Udi's products already exist and are all dairy free as well! Best news of my life!

So I'm putting this elimination diet is the WIN category. I'm glad we figured this out. And I'm glad I already had experience being on a restricted diet because it really made for a smooth transition. Being GF/DF isn't the end of the world. Besides, if it wasn't for this little experiment I wouldn't have discovered my new favorite food: STRAWBERRY SORBET!! *dies*

Friday, March 25, 2011

My Life Now

Well, the cat is out of the bag. I'm a mom now.

I had a relatively uneventful and normal pregnancy. My celiac disease was a non-issue the whole time. I am thankful to say that I remained gluten free during my entire pregnancy and did not encounter any cravings involving gluten-filled foods that I couldn't find a perfectly acceptable GF substitute for. Even eating gluten free at the hospital was a breeze. That surprised the hell out of me! They asked upon check in if I had any dietary restrictions, and then all my meals were completely gluten free without me having to utter another word about it. I expected the food to suck real bad day they brought me gluten free french toast...but it was actually really good and I enjoyed it! I guess I worried about starving to death for nothing!

Other news...I am officially a stay at home mom. It was a decision that was made for me, unfortunately, when I was laid off three weeks before giving birth. It couldn't have come at a better time for us though, as we had been considering whether or not we could make me staying home with the baby work. I considered the lay off the universe's way of telling me that this is where I belong.

Benjamin is currently two and a half months old. I just found out at his doctor's appointment last week that he is having a reaction to something in my diet. It was something that I was suspecting given his fussy nature and other symptoms I noticed (rash, etc). So, I am currently eliminating all dairy and chocolate from my diet to see if it is the problem. I'm about a week into it right now. His pediatrician said to continue for 30 days to truly see if there is improvement or not. One of the first things I thought when I was told I'd have to start a gluten free diet was, "But wheat is in everything!" But gluten free and dairy free? Holy crap, that sure narrows your choices because milk is in everything too! Luckily for me though, the doctor said after 30 days I can slowly add dairy back to my diet to determine Benjamin's threshold. I'm already looking forward to eating the biggest chocolate bar I can get my hands on!!

I also talked to his doctor about whether or not my celiac disease makes him more susceptible for food sensitivities and he said no. It's just whether or not he got my celiac gene. We won't know obviously until he starts solid foods. And at that time we either watch for an obvious reaction or test to see if he's reacting. Either way he'd have to be ingesting glutenous foods. I'm undecided at this point what direction I want to go. Being gluten free isn't the end of the world. I've considered just avoiding introducing any gluten to his diet, at least for a while. I guess we'll figure it out when the time comes and I talk more in depth with our pediatrician. I'll get his opinion because I really feel he would know the best approach. I have to say that I was very impressed when I brought up celiac disease and he did not miss a beat. He was very well informed on the topic which brought me great comfort! I kind of expected an empty look when I brought it up, considering my history with my own doctors and the topic. One time I mentioned being gluten free to my doctor and, after giving me a confused look, he asked me why. I said, "because of my celiac disease...?" Way to go doc! Way to read my chart! Lol. I can handle myself though, but when it comes to my son, I'm glad he has a doctor who is knowledgable and educated on celiac disease. Hooray!

Other than that, life is good. Having a baby is hard work, there is no doubt about that! Giving up dairy and my favorite food group in the world (chocolate) has been difficult as well, but at this point, I'd eat rice all day every day if it meant my baby was a little happier (and easier) day to day.

Well, that's all for now. With that I'll leave you with a picture of Ben being totally awesome at life:

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Back From Hiatus

I am making my return to blogging and boy, do I have a lot to fill you in on!

I took a little hiatus from blogging, though I never devoted an offical post to it because, to be honest with you, I wasn't sure if it was going to be a hiatus or a permanent end.

I had been struggling a bit with the direction of my blog and felt I had lost why I originally started it to begin with. My initial vision for this blog was to write about my life living gluten free and somehow along the way I felt it dissolved into a strictly product review site. At the same time, I was struggling with whether or not I even wanted to share more of my private life. So, I was at a crossroads.

Then, one of the biggest events to ever hit my personal life happened. And I had a decision to make. I decided to take some time away to focus on my life, then would decide later on whether or not to continue. I made my blog private and deleted my twitter. I needed some time to focus on me, my husband, and our family. I didn't want the distractions of social media. Basically, I was burnt out. And I felt like I was living a lie because I had huge, huge things going on that I wasn't sure I wanted to share with the blogosphere.

What was that huge news? Well, I'm ready to share it now...

Ladies and gentleman, I am pleased to annouce our son, Benjamin, born in January 2011!!

I found out last May that I was pregnant and wasn't sure if I wanted to share such private information on the interwebs. After several months of debating, I decided just to take the stress of keeping up with the blog off my plate.

I have decided now that I want to continue with my blog but get back to what I always wanted it to be. No pressure, no guilt over not posting, just a girl in front of her computer writing about her life, which just so happens involves being gluten free (and dairy free and chocolate free, but more on that another time...).

I am excited to be back and part of the gluten free/blogging community once again. I'm sure there is a lot to catch up on!

(Also, I've restarted my Twitter (GF_Steph). Follow me here. Follow me so I can follow you!)