September 28, 2009

Howdya like dem Apples

This weekend I went apple picking in Coloma, Michigan with my friend, Julie. We go every year and while the drive out there and back is long, it's well worth it for such fresh apples! I was never much of an apple-eater before, but after that first trip when I plucked a plump golden delicious off a tree and took a bite, I was quickly converted. I look forward to late September/early October every year. It's the official sign to my taste buds that fall is here!

Every year the first apple dish my mom makes with is Apple Crisp. Found in the Joy of Cooking cookbook she received at her wedding shower in 1976, she first made this recipe when she had an unexpected visitor pop in to see the new baby. That baby was my older sister who just celebrated her 30th birthday. Yep, this recipe's been going strong since 1979, even made it through our celiac diagnoses and became gluten free right along with us! The cookbook has seen better days, but it's still hangin' in there.

Welcome fall and bake your own apple crisp or "fruit paradise"!

Apple Crisp

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Pare, core and slice into a 9-inch pie pan or dish 4 cups tart apples (about 6-8 apples)

Season with 2 tablespoons lemon juice

Work like pastry with fingertips:
1/2 cup Pamela's Baking Mix (or any other gluten free all-purpose flour will do)
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup butter

1/2 teaspoon salt, if butter is unsalted

1 teaspoon cinnamon

The mixture must be lightly worked so that it does not become oily. Spread these crumbly ingredients over the apples. Bake about 30 minutes. Serve hot or cold. Preferably with ice cream!

Adapted from the Joy of Cooking (Bobbs-Merrill, 1975)

September 24, 2009

Gluten Free Books, Beer, and Cookies

A lot has been going on lately and I haven't had a chance to blog! Here are some updates:

I'm now the Chicago Gluten Free Examiner! Yay! I just started out and I'm trying to post on both this site and on It's very time consuming to say the least! Please visit my page, comment, add me as your favorite Examiner, and subscribe to my updates! If you'd like to become an Examiner, I encourage you to apply. You'll earn a little extra money while you're at it! Just be sure to list me as the person who referred you. ;-)

I recently read Healthier without Wheat by Dr. Stephen Wangen and was fascinated. Even though I've been living gluten free for almost ten years, this book really opened up my eyes to all of the other ailments that gluten intolerance can cause. I've been recommending it to everyone and Babs is now reading it loves it too! I wrote a review on my examiner site. Check it out!

Happily, I attended a White Sox game earlier this week and had a Redbridge Beer and a hot dog sans bun with lots of grilled onions and mustard! Yummmmmmmm!! My friend who can have gluten also bought a Redbridge (the last one) and said it was good! Sadly it was my first game of the season (pathetic, I know...) and the season is almost over. Even sadder, I chit-chatted with the beer man who told me they sell about one Redbridge every five games. I wrote an email to the White Sox people thanking them for having gluten free beer at their ball park. I would hate for them to discontinue that service to Sox fans because it doesn't sell that well.

We've "fallen" into autumn this week. I'm excited to whip up some great recipes for soups, pies, and crisps. I'm going apple picking this weekend and will be sure to share my recipes for some yummy apple treats! In the meantime, I will leave you with these beauties:

Those are some Betty Crocker chocolate chip cookies, and boy were they good! I even made ice cream sandwiches with them. I didn't take a picture, but I just put vanilla ice cream in between two cookies, wrapped the sandwiches in foil and stuck them in the freezer for a few hours. Those Nestle Tollhouse Ice Cream Cookie Sandwiches can step aside!

September 15, 2009

Yikes! Another Reason to Get Tested for Celiac

Just read this startling bit on the results of a study finding that those with undiagnosed celiac disease had a higher risk of death.

It's an interesting article. Definitely worth checking out.

September 13, 2009

A Very Happy (Gluten Free) Birthday!!

Yikes! Would you look at the date of that previous blog post...September 6th. It's been a busy week! Lots of news and stories to share.

First things first - Have you noticed that Gluten Free Betsy has gone dot com?! That's right, I'm big time, baby! Spread the word, I'm now Yay!

Yesterday was my birthday and a very memorable one at that. My best friend's birthday is the 10th, mine is the 12th, and we always celebrate together on the 11th. This year wasn't any different. Friday night we met up with friends at a local dive bar and had a lot of fun. This was my 10th birthday since I've had celiac, and ironically I received my very first gluten-free birthday card. My good friend, Bjorn, made me this cute little card:

It was good time. Thanks, friends, for coming out and celebrating. You're all the best!

On my official birthday, it was an extremely busy day. Since I wholeheartedly believe and love charities striving to help a cause, I walked to strike out ALS. Long-time family friends lost their mother/grandmother to ALS a couple years ago and every year we walk in her honor as Betty's Bunch. It was a beautiful day and a great turn-out.

Afterwards was the event I've been waiting weeks for, the Safe and Sound Dinner at Da Luciano! The amazing Lisa Williams organizes the most amazing dinner parties for allergenistas that are always a delight. I was really looking forward to this one, because Da Lucianos has incredible gluten free italian food that I couldn't wait to introduce to my mom. I honestly couldn't think of a better birthday dinner! Look at this amazing menu:

We started out with cheese pizza. The crust was so crispy and the cheese so ooey-gooey! Yum!

Bruschetta came next. I've never had bruschetta before I went gluten-free so this was a real treat!

My favorite italian dish, Eggplant Parmesan, was served next.

Quite possibly the best Minestrone Soup I've ever had followed.

At this point I was getting pretty full, but dug right into the Manicotti that was served next. I thought I had memorized the menu by heart, so sorry to my table mates that I kept calling this Cannelloni. I need to get my italian dishes straight, because this is my new favorite thing!

I can't believe the menu continued as Chicken Parmesan and pasta with tomato sauce were placed in front of us. Again, this dish was delicious. My mom couldn't believe all the food we were eating was gluten free. It was too good to be true!

Tiramisu and a Cream Puff completed the feast. Yes, it was truly as feast as I felt like a queen eating all that decadent gluten free food!

I LOVE Lisa's Safe and Sound dinners. They are not only great for the meal, but I love meeting new people. I met such interesting and nice people at Carnivale and yesterday I was thrilled to sit with Lauren White from Whole Foods Market. She was such a sweetheart and filled with great information! As the Store Concierge she helps a lot of people by answering questions, providing personal shopping assistance, finding recipes and nutritional information, conducting store tours, and recommending products. She even told me she saw a gluten free lemon scone at a Starbucks a few days ago! She couldn't remember which one, but I think I will be on the hunt to track one down. I couldn't find any information on the internet, so maybe they are top secret?

As if this wonderful meal wasn't enough, Lisa surprised me with a sixer of Swirlz gluten free cupcakes for my birthday! Aghh!! My favorite!!! I was actually debating whether I should have had some delivered to me at work on Friday, so apparently Lisa not only cooks allergen free, but she's also a mind reader!!! Either that or great gluten free minds think alike! Thank you again, Lisa!

The box got a little smashed and food stains on it from all my leftovers stacked on top!

The cupcakes inside were safe and yummy as ever!

The Safe and Sound goodie bag is one of my favorite parts of the night. The last gift bag was filled with great stuff, but the bag I received yesterday had about ten times more samples. I mean, look at just a few of the items!

What a great day!'s not over. I ended the day with seeing one of my favorite musicians, Regina Spektor. Awesome concert, great seats, a very happy birthday to me indeed.

September 6, 2009

Going Gluten Free Article in Chicago Tribune

Yet another tinge of excitement when I opened the Sunday paper and saw an article on the gluten free lifestyle. Celiac awareness being spread through the mainstream media is always extremely helpful, especially when it's well informed and written. Julie Deardorff profiled a family on a gluten free diet, interviewed experts, and listed intolerance levels, alternatives, and hidden gluten sources.

Definitely worth checking out. The article can be found on the Chicago Tribune's website by clicking here.

September 4, 2009

New Gluten Free Online Bakery

I just read an article from the Staten Island Advance about the opening of a new online gluten free bakery.

Tuttoriso on Staten Island, NY launched their new in-house gluten free bakery, Grainless Possibilities, earlier this week. The article states that the mail order program will begin shipping cookies, muffins, cakes, breads, hamburger rolls and panini flats soon. Panini flats?! I can't wait!

Looks like they are also having a kick off party September 12th to debut their new gluten free items. Gluten free and vegan hors d'oeuvres, desserts and sangria. Sounds yummy!

Read the Staten Island Advance article here.

And visit the Grainless Possibilities website here!

September 2, 2009

The Tweet-Out is the New Shout-Out....holla!

How ironic was it that I purchased a "new-to-me" gluten free product just a couple weeks ago and then get an email advertisement for that very item earlier this week? Even more so that I baked with it the day before?!

Beth Armour, Co-President over at Cream Hill Estates, sent out a friendly little back-to-school email to the Celiac Listserv advertising her company's gluten free oats. I agree that with the cooler days of September, a warm bowl of oatmeal would make for a tasty breakfast. Even more tastier? Blueberry pancakes made with oat flour.

I had to let Beth know how much I love the oat flour, so I sent her an email back and not only did she send me a sweet response, she even tweeted about me! Be sure to follow her @creamhill

Loving to cook and being an avid fan of the tv show, The Biggest Loser, naturally I would have their cookbooks! The first Biggest Loser Cookbook has a recipe for blueberry pancakes created by Chef Devin Alexander. It already is gluten free in that it uses oat flour! No alterations needed!

I whipped up a batch with my new box of certified gluten free oat flour this past weekend. Only difference: I did not have buttermilk so I used fat free milk and I ran out of vanilla extract so I used almond extract. Um...blueberry ALMOND pancakes?! All I have to say is watch out, IHOP!

Here's the recipe. It's also listed on the Prevention website for easier printing.

Better Blueberry Pancakes

Makes 2 (4-pancake) servings

1/2 cup reduced-fat buttermilk
1/2 cup whole-grain oat flour
1 large egg white, lightly beaten
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter! spray
1/2 cup fresh or frozen (not thawed) blueberries
Sugar-free, low-calorie pancake syrup (optional)
100% fruit orange marmalade spread (optional)

Preheat the oven to 200°F.

In a small bowl, combine the buttermilk, flour, egg white, baking soda, vanilla, and salt. Whisk just until blended. Stir in the blueberries. Let stand for 10 minutes.

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat until it is hot enough for a spritz of water to sizzle on it. With an oven mitt, briefly remove the pan from the heat to mist lightly with I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter! cooking spray. Return the pan to the heat.

Pour the batter in 1/8-cup dollops onto the skillet to form 3 or 4 pancakes. Cook for about 2 minutes, or until bubbles appear on the tops and the bottoms are golden brown. Flip. Cook for about 2 minutes, or until browned on the bottom. Transfer to an oven-proof plate. Cover with aluminum foil. Place in the oven to keep warm. Repeat with cooking spray and the remaining batter to make 8 pancakes total.

Place 4 pancakes on each of 2 serving plates. Serve your blueberry pancakes immediately with I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter! spray, syrup, and/or fruit spread, if desired.

Nutrition at a Glance
Per serving: 140 calories, 8 g protein, 20 g carbohydrates, 3 g fat (less than 1 g saturated), 5 mg cholesterol, 3 g fiber, 687 mg sodium

Recipe excerpted from The Biggest Loser Cookbook (Rodale, 2006).

These pancakes were so moist and delicious, I didn't even need syrup!

September 1, 2009

Meet Lisa Williams - Lisa Cooks Allergen Free!

If you glanced over my previous post on upcoming events in Chicago, you'll see Lisa Williams has a couple events coming up. I first learned of Lisa Cooks Allergen Free when I visited her booth at the THRIVE Allergy Expo in April. I signed up for her Safe & Sound Dinners mailing list and started following her blog.

I attended my first Safe & Sound Dinner at Carnivale in June and was so impressed by how nicely organized it was and that I could sit back and enjoy my meal knowing it was completely gluten free. After mingling and enjoying appetizers, Lisa greeted everyone and introduced the chef who welcomed us to his restaurant. He explained each meal and how it was prepared. Served family style, every entree was phenomenal. Swirlz cupcakes topped off the evening and everyone left completely satisfied with a gift bag of gluten free goodies. I met several new people that evening and it was a joy to network and relate to others living with celiac and other food allergies.

I was ecstatic to learn that the next Safe & Sound Dinner would be held at Da Luciano's on none other than my birthday, September 12th! Dinner at Da Luciano's is an extreme treat, not only because it is a bit of a drive for me, but it's so popular even with reservations there can be a wait! A fixed price, no wait, and a goodie bag? She couldn't have planned a better evening!

Recently I was able to catch up with Lisa to learn more about how Lisa Cooks Allergen Free came to be.

Lisa, I love that you are dedicated to allergy free cooking! How long have you been a chef? Can you give a little background on your training?

Funny you ask, before I was diagnosed two years ago, my kind of cooking was ordering in!

When I found out about my allergies, I realized I had better learn to cook and fast. So I dug out the cookbook collection my great grandmother (she raised my two older brothers and me) left for me. I began to modify her recipes.

Having little to no cooking experience prior to this, I realized I had better educate myself on the basics of cooking, so I enrolled at the Cooking and Hospitality Institute of Chicago (a Cordon Bleu school), I have only 4 weeks left of school!

Well congratulations, graduate! So you've been living allergy free for two years? How did you discover you had food allergies?

My anniversary for living allergen free is in October, it will be 2 years. I discovered I had allergies when I had what started as a cold and turned into pneumonia, Epstein barr, plus a multitude of other symptoms. When I didn’t get better after 2 months, my doctor decided to do allergy testing and here we are!

Wow, what a lot to go through! How long after you eliminated allergens from your diet did you decide to start up Lisa Cooks Allergen Free?

I started Lisa Cooks Allergen Free a few months after my diagnosis. Previous to my allergies, I was an Account Executive for a sub-prime mortgage lender. When the real estate market crashed, I found myself with a considerable amount of time on my hands. As the saying goes, when a door closes… It feels so good to be able to help people adapt to an allergen free lifestyle, I was so overwhelmed when I first found out, I don’t want anyone to feel like I did.

I, for one, really appreciate the difference you've made in the gluten free community. I attended my first Safe and Sound Dinner in June at Carnivale and LOVED it!

How did you come up with the idea to host th
ese safe dinner and what goes into organizing your events?

Before I was diagnosed, I ate out a lot. I really missed going out to eat and wanted to bring restaurants back to allergenistas (what I like to call those of us with allergies) one bite at a time.

To organize these events, I go to the restaurant to see how they handle my requests for modifications. Actually, for our next dinner (soon to be revealed) I got to work in the kitchen for the night to see how they handle allergen free requests!

After we set up a date, I go over the menu item by item with the chef and make sure we are excluding as many of the 8 allergens as possible. For Da Luciano’s
we are splitting the room, those with dairy allergies will be getting food with rice cheese and the other half a real cheese, it’s all about making the best experience for all of us.

Oh, I can't wait! Save me a seat in the "real cheese" section.

I know you have a slew of events coming up such as cooking demonstrations and of course the next Safe and Sound dinner at Da Luciano's. What other events and ideas do you have in store? Will we ever see a cookbook from you?

A cookbook, it’s in the works… I have attached th
e link for my upcoming cooking classes, I actually am even doing a demo on WGN on September 10th midday news and can’t wait!

How fun! I'll have to set my VCR...hey, I'm still a little old skool.

What is the best advice you can give someone living with food allergies?

There are so many resources for people with food allergies now - becoming involved in the community through support groups, cooking classes, dinners, expos, blogs and chat rooms. You can learn so much from talking to other allergenistas, find one that suits you and soak in the information, we all learn together.

That's definitely great advice. Since I've become more involved in the gluten free community, I've learned a ton - and I've been living gluten free for the past ten years! Who would have known?

Since I'm a such a foodie, I need to know...what are some staples in your kitchen?

Onion, garlic and a good GF flour mix.

How about your favorite allergy free products and restaurants?

I love Organicville Ketchup, Ian’s mac and not cheese (I really miss mac and cheese and this is a good alternative), SWIRLZ vegan GF cupcakes and a new product called Choice Batter, it absorbs up to 50% less cooking oil than other batters.

Restaurants – Of course, Carnivale, but I also l
ove Ina’s, once a month they have a killer GF, CF and egg free fried chicken and Da Luciano’s has the only “fake cheese” I will eat, I so love their pizza!

Lisa, you're making me hungry! With this cooler weather and fall quickly approaching, what is your favorite allergy free fall meal? I don't know about you, but I'm ready for some comfort food!

I love braised meats and stews, the aromas that come out of the kitchen after cooking all day, YUM! Actually, I just modified Julia Child’s Boeuf Bourgignon to be allergen free and that has become a new favorite at our house! I am also working on some great holiday meals for upcoming classes, this is so fun!

It sounds like you have THE dream job! Congratulations on all of your success thus far and THANK YOU for making a difference in Chicago's Gluten Free Community!

Join Lisa (and me!) Saturday, September 12th for the next
Safe & Sound Dinner at Da Luciano's!
Enjoy great gluten free food, conversation, and you even get one of these fancy swag bags!

Register online at Lisa Cooks Allergen Free