November 28, 2011

Souper-Duper

The Monday after Thanksgiving.  Hello. What an icky-ish day in Chicago.  Cold and dreary.  I just wanted something warm and delicious for dinner tonight.  Not too long ago I bought a head of cabbage to make one of my favorite soup recipes and tonight was the perfect night to finally whip that up.

Four years ago on the Monday after Thanksgiving, a co-worker and I came into work and said to each other, "Let's join Weight Watchers." Just like that.*  We went online, found a meeting that met Wednesdays during lunch across the street at the Merchandise Mart, and each signed up then and there.  It was within one of those little Weight Watcher booklets that one of the best recipes for vegetable soup was found.

Mise en place!

Behold...the Zero Point Garden Vegetable Soup**!  This soup is sooo easy to make, soooo delicious, and gives you room to play around with the ingredients.  Don't like carrots, skip 'em!  Love celery, go ahead and add it!  Wanna add some more herbs, OK!  Want some chicken or beef or pork or beans or tofu?  Well...you get the idea.  This is a very healthy soup to recharge your bod after a weekend of stuffing, pies, and whatnot.

Garden Vegetable Soup

Ingredients
Big ol' pot of soup!
  • 4 cups of gluten free broth (I use CelifibR Chicken bouillon cubes)
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp minced garlic
  • 1/2 Medium onion, finely chopped
  • 3-4 large carrots, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 1/2 c. green beans
  • 1 small head of cabbage
  • 1/2 tsp dried basil
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 medium zucchini, chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions
  1. If making broth with bouillon, boil the water and prepare as package directs. If using a pre-made broth, cool, you're one step ahead!
  2. Heat a large pot until warm (if you flick a little water in the pan and it sizzles, it's ready), add the oil to coat the pan.  Add garlic, onion, and carrots and saute for about 5 minutes. The onions and garlic will begin to brown.
  3. Add broth, tomato paste, green beans, cabbage, basil and oregano. Simmer for about 10-15 minutes. The vegetable will be nice and tender.
  4. Add zucchini and simmer for 5-10 more minutes.
  5. Salt and pepper to taste and enjoy!
I added some Great White Northern Beans, yum!

* Well more like "ugh...what DIDN'T we eat this weekend? We gotta do something about this..."

** This soup is no longer zero points, since WW switched to Points+. They don't even list this recipe in their eTools database anymore, just a similar "Italian Inspired Soup" which omits the cabbage (the best part!!!) which is 1 Points+. Also if you add anything extra (like I did with the beans), that cranks up the points/calories value.

November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!



Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

I'm so thankful for my readers, fellow bloggers, the amazing Celiac Disease and Gluten Free organizations who are such value resources to us gluten free rockstars, and the wonderful companies that make gluten free foods (and of course, the ones that offer me the chance to sample their products).

This little blog wouldn't be what it is without all of you, and for that I am so grateful for all of you.  I hope you all have a very happy and blessed Thanksgiving Day!

-Betsy

November 22, 2011

Pumpkin Rollin' With The Homies

First off, I have to thank everyone who commented or sent me emails about my last post regarding the changes in my diet. I'm so grateful for the suggestions on dairy free, sugar free, and low carb recipes. I haven't tried all of them yet, but promise I will soon and let everyone know how they went. Now on to Thanksgiving...



Since I haven't been blogging as much as I would like to, I've been trying to update my Facebook page with links to recipes, articles, and other gluten free goodies. This past week I've posted some wonderful gluten free menu ideas from Cooking Light and Silvana Nardone, as well as recipe links for stuffing, desserts, and pie crust.  Go check it out.

While I went out this weekend and bought the coconut palm sugar that was suggested for my alternative sugar baking, I have yet to experiment with it yet.  Until I do, I'm digging into the archives of "recipes I never posted" for one of the desserts I'm most looking forward to this Thanksgiving, pumpkin roll.  For some reason whenever I make this, as I'm rolling it up, I think of that once scene in Clueless.  You know....



My grandma Beverly used to make this dessert often and was the one that introduced it to my at the time non-gluten free palate. I've only attempted to make it once with gluten free flours and it turned out decently.

Recently Babs made it for a work party and it turned out beautifully.  As she peeled the foil away, it came off in one smooth, delicate lift.  Both of us couldn't believe how cleanly it it separated.  In all of the times she's made this gluten free and gluten full, it's never turned out as perfectly as it did then. She used Jules All Purpose Gluten Free Flour and her co-workers couldn't even tell the difference, in fact it was a huge hit.  Here's how you can make your own and dazzle your dinner guests:
Not the perfect pumpkin roll as mentioned above, but still tasty!

Gluten Free Pumpkin Roll
adapted from Libby's

Ingredients
3 eggs
1 c. sugar
c. canned pumpkin
1 Tbsp lemon juice
¾ c. Gluten Free Flour (I use Jules)
1 Tbsp baking powder
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
½ tsp ground nutmeg
½ tsp salt
1 c. chopped nuts (walnuts or pecans) - optional

Filling Ingredients
1 c. shifted powdered sugar
6 oz cream cheese
4 Tbsp butter/margarine
½ tsp vanilla

Directions
* Preheat oven to 375 F
* Line a cookie sheet with foil and grease and lightly dust with GF flour (or just rice flour)
1. In a large bowl, beat eggs for 5 minutes on high.
2. Gradually beat in sugar.
3. Stir in pumpkin and lemon juice.
4. In another bowl shift together flour, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and salt. Fold this into pumpkin mixture.
5. Spread mixture into pan and sprinkle with nuts.
6. Bake for 15 minutes.
7. When cool, turn out onto a kitchen towel (clean, obviously, sprinkle with powdered sugar, and roll that baby up. (Rollin' with the homies!)
8. Chill in the fridge for a few hours.
9. Make the filling by beating all of the filling ingredients together until smooth.
10. Unroll cake, spread on filling and re-roll (this time without the towel!)
11. Wrap the entire roll in foil and chill again for several hours.
12. Slice, serve, and ENJOY!

*Note, since this recipe is totally cool and needs time to chill, I recommend making it either the night before serving or the morning of.

What's your favorite Thanksgiving dessert?  Are you a pumpkin pie person? Cake? Gingerbread? Let me know!

November 8, 2011

Red Light, Green Light!


This hasn't been my year in the health department. I can't really pinpoint when I started to feel like crap all of the time, but I'm sick of being sick. I've been bouncing around doctors all year and when I was referred to the same naturopathic doctor by a handful of people I decided to give her a shot.  I made an appointment in the spring and the earliest I could get in was a full six months later, no joke.

As it turned out, gluten is not my only problem. My body is so stressed that dairy, sugar, and too many refined carbs are wreaking havoc on my systems as well. Yikes!

Too many reds!!!


The solution: a few supplements and a major re-haul of my diet.



It's been a couple weeks now and while it was going well in the beginning, I'm getting kind of bored with what I'm eating. I've been eating the same thing day in and day out.  Lots of chicken breast, turkey breast, steamed veggies, and some non-starchy fruit.  My lunch for an entire week was a lettuce wrap with turkey and hummus.  I ate eggs with pico de gallo for breakfast every morning.  I can't even stomach another egg right these days.  I've been eating an apple with almond butter every morning this week, but we're now out of apples, so I'm in trouble come tomorrow. 


I have been feeling better, so I know I'm doing something right.  I'm obviously not 100% better since I just started this healing process, but I am finally on the road to recovery and feeling healthy again.

Is anyone else following a diet such as this?  No gluten, no dairy, no sugar, and low carb-ish?  What are your meal ideas?

October 20, 2011

Gluten Free Betsy Bookclub: Babycakes Covers the Classics



I haven't baked in forever.  Other than a box mix here and there, I haven't created anything from scratch in quite a while. I think I'm finally getting over my scars from being kicked out of culinary school last year.  I never talked about it on here because I never knew how to approach the subject.

In a nutshell, I enrolled in baking classes at my local community college last fall, they approved me working with gluten free flours, then they reneged on the decision and forced me to either work with regular flour and get sick (I would be required to taste the products and that wasn't going to happen since I would never knowingly poison myself) or leave.  With lots of tears and heartache, I chose the latter.  I took it pretty hard and stopped baking altogether.

Then last month I turned 30 and decided that I wasn't getting any younger and the time to do what I love is now.  So I picked up my mixing bowls and got to it.  Ever the encouraging soul, my dear celiac sister (from another mister) continued to buy me cookbooks and baking goodies.  For my birthday, she gave me Babycakes Covers The Classics. As I was flipping through it my friend, Stacy, was looking at it over my shoulder and told me, "you need to master all of those recipes by my New Year's party." Done and done!  Everything looked so good, especially the donuts.



I ordered a mini donut pan from Amazon.com and when it arrived I whipped up a few batches of the cake donuts.

What I loved about this recipe was the ease of throwing everything together.  You'd think with vegan donuts, there were be lots of complicated steps involved, but it couldn't have been simpler.  A nice blend of gluten free flours, unsweetened apple sauce, and coconut oil made these donuts soft and delicious.  The ¼ cup of vanilla extract threw me off, however; I put ¼ tsp of vanilla bean paste in for the first batch and then added a little more for the second and third batches, probably about a tablespoon altogether.  Dipped in cinnamon and sugar, we all thought they turned out perfect.

Mini Cinnamon Sugar Cake Donuts


Have you tried any of the recipes from Babycakes Covers The Classics? Or rather, what's your favorite gluten free donut recipe? 

September 30, 2011

Didja miss me?

Yes, I've been away from blogging for a bit (took the summer off and whoopsies, a little more!).  I've discovered lots delicious goodies and can't wait to share them with everyone.

First things first, I just ate this piece of deliciousness...



A gluten free Pumpkin Pie Cupcake from the Cupcakes for Courage truck, which was every bit phenomenal as the picture looks.  If the image alone didn't get your mouth watering, this is their description:
All of the traditional pumpkin pie spices:  cinnamon, cloves, and ginger.  Topped with a generous dollop of whipped cream cheese frosting and sprinkled with homemade pie crust crumble.
Nom!  If you're in Chicago, you MUST taste their gluten free cupcakes which are on the menu every Friday.  Can't think of a better way to end the work week, can you?

June 29, 2011

Final hours to enter the Betty Crocker Gluten Free Baking Contest!

I'm about to enter my recipe now...totally a wait to the last minute gal! If you haven't thought of anything, maybe seeing this will get those juices flowing...




This video was provided by Betty Crocker through MyBlogSpark

June 4, 2011

Mi-Del Gluten Free Cookies Review!

Can you remember your first gluten free cookie?  For some of you, that moment may be etched into your memory, your life forever changed.  For me, I don't quite remember.  It was very long ago, but I think it might have been a Mi-Del Gluten Free Arrowroot Cookie.  I remember they were the first brand of gluten free cookies I discovered after I was diagnosed with celiac in January 2000.  Still to this day, I find myself placing them in my cart time after time at the grocery store.  They are as familiar to me as Chips-Ahoy or Oreos are to those who gluten.

When Mi-Del approached me to review their gluten free cookies and host a giveaway, I was more than happy to share my thoughts with my readers.  They sent me coupons for free products, so I got to chose what to share.  As much as I was tempted to grab a bag of my old standbys, I recently saw a recipe in the June 2011 issue of Martha Stewart Living for a Strawberry Lemonade Icebox Pie that I thought I would incite you all with.  I mean, seriously, doesn't this look phenom?


Martha Stewart's Strawberry Lemonade Icebox Pie

Well, mine didn't turn out quite as pretty.  It was all kinds of delicious, but my family and I failed to wait the "chill overnight" step and ate it while it was still warm.  In that it was more like a bowl of lemon pudding with pecan cookie chunks and fresh strawberries than a pie.  My attempts to showcase Mi-Del's Gluten Free Pecan Flavored Cookies didn't go over so well.

I realized that yes, ground up with cinnamon and butter, Mi-Del gluten free cookies make wonderful pie crusts.  But they are just as good by themselves in their original form.  My current favorites are the Gluten Free Lunchbox S'mores!  Available in a cute "lunchbox" style box with five little 90-calorie bags, they are the perfect size for on the go (I ate one in the doctor's waiting room yesterday...just sayin').  And the taste?  Chocolate? Check. Marshmallow? Check. Crunch graham? Check!  If you love S'mores, but hate the mess, these cookies were made for you!


May 29, 2011

Gluten Free Obsessions

Have you ever gone through a food phase where you just want to eat the same thing over and over?  I've been obsessed with a few food items lately that I have literally been eating them every day.  They are just sooooo good!  Here are some of my favorite gluten free finds that deserve warning labels due to their highly addictive taste.

Enjoy Life Double Chocolate Crunch Granola
At the VIP tour and the University of Chicago Celiac Center's Spring Flours event, I received some complementary bags of Enjoy Life's new Double Chocolate Granola and have been hooked ever since. I have a bag at work and a bag at home and find myself grabbing handfuls several times a day.  As the name says it's crunchy and chocolaty, and I find it perfect to satisfy my sweet tooth.  It's also amazing sprinkled over yogurt, which brings me to my next obsession...


 


Chobani Yogurt
I was introduced to Chobani Greek Yogurt by a coworker when we were grabbing lunch one day.  She was in love with this yogurt and wanted to get one for lunch.  I didn't know what I had a taste for, so I decided to give them a whirl.  It was love at first bite.  I had the black cherry yogurt for lunch that day, and then that night I went to the grocery store and bought every flavor.  It's been my go-to snack every morning since.  Chobani Yogurt is naturally gluten free and certified by the Gluten-Free Certification Organization.  May I suggest the black cherry, blueberry, and lemon flavors?


Wholly Guacamole
I'm not sure how it happened, but stumbled upon Wholly Guacamole 100 Calorie packs at Target a couple weeks ago and found myself tossing them in the cart.  Lately, I've been packing my lunch with a bag of baby carrots and a pack of guacamole. I absolutely adore this guac!  I never understood guacamole that was made with sour cream.  We always just mashed up an avocado, chopped up tomatoes and onion, threw some cilantro and a squirt of lime in there and bam...guacamole.  This is just like that minus the prep work, smooth, creamy and busting with all of those authentic flavors. The ingredient list has just five ingredients, all gluten free!
 

Sensible Portions Veggie Straws
A gluten free co-worker of Babs was telling her about Sensible Portions Veggie Straws one day.  She raved about these snacks that she found at Costco and sent my dear mother home with a ziploc bag filled with the straws and a hand-written nutrition label and ingredient list.  Needless to say, we gobbled them up in no time.  Next thing I know, the rockstar co-worker gave us a GIANT bag of the veggie straws. If you are a fan of veggie chips, you will absolutely love these!  The best part is a serving size is 38 straws!  I counted them out one day and it was huge!  No more 9 to 11 chips for 130-140 calories.  These straws are the perfect salty snacks in just the right portion size.

**Update 2/28/2012**
I get many questions and concerns about Sensible Portions Veggie Straws containing gluten. In a conversation on my Facebook Page, I posted the ingredient list and the information I received when I called the company, which was this:


OK, just got off the phone with Pam at customer relations and here's the deal: 

The veggie straws are made with non-gluten containing ingredients. Those ingredients are kept away from the other major allergens (they are not even on the same floor as wheat/gluten products). 

The machines are cleaned thoroughly after runs of wheat containing products, and the first batch they run of veggie straws is a half batch, which is tossed. (I guess if trace amounts of gluten were still in the machine, they'd stick to the 1/2 batch that gets tossed?)

The large giant bag that you see labeled gluten free at Costco or wherever IS tested for gluten. The smaller bags are not tested, therefore are not labeled gluten free. Everything is made in the same facility, so I'm not sure why they don't test the small bags too. Hopefully one day soon they will
.

Photo credit: Peter Ardito
Raspberry Parfait
This is actually a recipe called "Lemon Raspberry Fruit Salad", but I prefer to call it a raspberry parfait since it contains ricotta cheese, which is then topped with raspberries.  While flipping through the May 2011 (or was it June?) issue of Fitness Magazine, they had an article for a beach body boot camp program complete with a diet plan.  This lemon raspberry treat was a breakfast recipe under 300 calories which looked too good not to try.  It was simple to prepare, contained all gluten free items, and looked like it'd be a refreshing breakfast on a hot summer morning.  I use Polaner Seedless Raspberry Jam with Fiber to mix with the ricotta cheese.  It does not contain high fructose corn syrup and it's gluten free.  I use Diamond Nuts Slivered Almonds for the topping, which are gluten free.


What are your favorite gluten free foods these days?

May 24, 2011

Bake it like Betty


Every year Betty Crocker hosts a cooking contest that excludes the gluten free mixes, well....hold the gluten, grab your aprons, and start your ovens!

Betty Crocker’s first-ever gluten-free recipe contest, The Baker’s Challenge Gluten Free Recipe Contest, is open for entries Wednesday, June 1st - Thursday, June 30, 2011.  Gluten-free bakers from across the country can enter online at www.glutenfreely.com/bakerschallenge for the chance to win a Grand Prize of $5,000 and the chance to be featured on a Betty Crocker® Gluten Free dessert mix or Bisquick® Gluten Free baking mix package and/or be featured in a Betty Crocker publication!

Entrants will be challenged to create an original gluten free holiday-themed appetizer, bread or dessert recipe, using any Betty Crocker Gluten Free dessert mix or Bisquick Gluten Free baking mix.


 
Submitted recipes must be entirely gluten free and will be judged on five key categories:
  1. taste
  2. creativity
  3. ease of preparation
  4. consumer appeal
  5. appearance
On or about September 20, 2011, Betty Crocker will announce the 10 selected finalists, who will each receive a Betty Crocker Gluten Free Baking gift basket filled with baking items and Betty Crocker Gluten Free mixes (estimated retail value of $119). The finalists’ recipes will be voted on by the public on www.glutenfreely.com/bakerschallenge, and the finalist whose recipe receives the most votes will be announced as the winner on or around November 1, 2011.

 
“We’re excited to offer this opportunity to the gluten free community,” said Allison Miller, Marketing Manager, Betty Crocker Gluten-Free Mixes. “The Betty Crocker Baker’s Challenge Gluten Free Recipe Contest is a great way for gluten free bakers to share their innovative creations and show the world how delicious living gluten freely can be.”

For gluten-free recipe inspiration and more information about the Betty Crocker Baker’s Challenge Gluten Free Recipe Contest, visit http://www.glutenfreely.com/ today. In addition, through the end of June, save 20% on the purchase of any of the five of the Betty Crocker Gluten Free mixes at www.glutenfreely.com/ourstore.

Go, go, go!  Enter!  I can't wait to see all of the spectacular creations!  As you know, I loves me from gluten free Betty Crocker mix!

On a related voting note, have you voted for my Cinnamon Apple Baked French Toast in the Rudi's Unbelievably Good Gluten Free Recipe Contest?  Remember, you can vote every 24 hours through June 6th!

May 21, 2011

A Blogger A Day


Today I'm the featured blogger for the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness A Blogger a Day Program!   

May 19, 2011

Take the Go Gluten Free Challenge!


In the mist of Celiac Awareness month, there’s not a better time to take the Go Gluten Free Challenge this weekend, May 21 & 22nd. The challenge was created by the Gluten Intolerance Group, Pamela’s Products, Living Without Magazine, and Edward and Sons to encourage friends and family of gluten free dieters to go gluten free for one weekend. They're not trying to convert anyone, they just want to show that being gluten free isn’t so bad at all!

How many times have you had a family dinner and had to prepare two separate meals? How about going out with friends and having a hard time finding something on the menu you could eat? Or my favorite, you experiment with a gluten free dish and no one wants to try it except for you. With this challenge, your gluten eating pals can learn that they will be just as satisfied with a gluten free meal as they would be with a gluten meal. You can all go out and have (gluten free) pizza together again!

Come on, do it! Walk in our gluten free shoes for a weekend! By signing up for the program, you will get email updates with recipes and tips of the day, access to gluten free information, and get support from the “How’s it Going” blog. Sign up today to be able to get in on the free product giveaways and follow them on Facebook.

I have to admit, most of my friends and family where incredibly supportive of my gluten free needs. In addition to separate meals, they’ve even went the gluten free route at restaurants. When most college kids ordered pizza to their dorms, my best friend and I would drive 15 miles to go get a gluten free pizza from Guardis Pizza and come home and eat it. Talk about a challenge! Just getting there and back was half the battle! That was ten years ago and now we can get gluten free pizza at a restaurant less than a mile away.  See how easy this challenge can be?

May 15, 2011

Vote for Me! Rudi's Gluten Free Recipe Contest!

Last month Rudi's Gluten Free Bakery kicked off an Unbelievably Good Gluten Free Recipe Contest on Facebook.  Rudi's Facebook fans can submit their recipe on the Rudi's Gluten Free Bakery Facebook page from April 18 through May 20th. From there, all fans of Rudi's Gluten Free Bakery can vote for their favorite recipe in the recipe gallery every 24 hours until June 6th.

The top 10 finalists will win some great prizes like a goodie bag of Rudi's products, the top 3 finalists will win a trip to Boulder, Colorado to visit the Rudi's Gluten Free Bakery and compete in a final Recipe Bake-Off.  The winner will get to appear in a video of Alternative Appetites cooking show with Renegade Kitchen.  Cool, huh?

Here's where it gets tricky...the top 10 finalists are chosen through Facebook votes.  So if you enter the best gluten free recipe in the world on May 20th, you have to get a ton of votes within the next two and a half weeks, whereas a recipe entered on April 18th gets a lot more time for votes to tally up since you can vote every day. 

So...I need your help!  I entered a bit late, and I need your votes!

Get the recipe for my delicious Apple Cinnamon Baked French Toast and place your vote!

May 9, 2011

thinkThin Helps Celebrate Celiac Awareness Month


thinkThin is helping to spread the word about celiac and other health conditions that benefit from a gluten free diet with a series of videos that feature thinkThin bars, all of which are gluten free.  From recipes to personal stories from Lizanne Falsetto, the CEO and mother of a gluten sensitive child, the videos are informative and helpful for those looking for quick and healthy, not to mention tasty, snacks. 

If you are unfamiliar with thinkThin bars, they are wonderful gluten free snack bars with low to no sugar and lots of protein. With three types of bars available: High Protein Bars, Nut Crunch Bars, and 100 Calorie Bites, in many flavors, you're sure to find at least one that you love.  I adore the Chocolate Toffee Nut Bites and am still mourning the loss of  thinkFruit bars (which I used to buy by the box of 15).

Here's one of my favorite videos in the series....a recipe for S'mores! 



Don't forget to check out the other videos and read more thinkThin gluten free stories and recipes on their blog.

May 2, 2011

Wild (gluten free) Weekend!

I'm exhausted.  Seriously.  It feels as if this past weekend has been the longest weekend of my life!  It was the Gluten Free and Allergen Free Cooking Expo and this year it felt like a blogger reunion of sorts.  I was *so thrilled* to meet all of the talented bloggers I've been following for the past couple of years, it really was great!


The weekend activities kicked off Thursday night at Wildfire Restaurant in River North.  Rudi's Gluten Free Bakery hosted a small dinner party for a handful of gluten free experts and bloggers.  It was hands down the best gluten free event I've ever attended.  The Rudi's folks are just so down to earth and welcoming, it felt like I was sitting down to dinner with old friends.  Although the dinner was unrelated to the expo, it was perfect timing since everyone involved was in town for the weekend event.  Rudi's hosted the dinner to preview their new gluten free hot dog buns and hamburger buns.  Together with Wildfire, they planned a wonderful meal.  Take a look....

Wildfire's Fresh Mozzarella, Tomato and Basil Pizza
House Salad Bowl
Black Angus Burger (with grilled onions!) served on Rudi's Gluten Free Bakery Hamburger Bun
Flourless Chocolate Cake with Vanilla Ice Cream and Hot Fudge

Yum!  Everything was delicious and we were sent home with goodie bags filled with gluten free bread and the new gluten free hotdog buns.  The night couldn't have been better.




Continuing the fun, a tour of the Enjoy Life facility followed next. I had a lovely time on the ride over chatting with my fellow shuttle van riders Chelsey from Clean Eating Chelsey, Jennifer from Raw Jenergy, and Alicia from Living Without magazine.  We had a great time talking about blogs, food and the vegan diet.  I can't wait to catch up on their blogs...you should too!

The tour at Enjoy Life was really fun.  It looked like the funnest place to work and everyone who worked there was really nice.  I felt like I was at a family's home and meeting each member as they each explained their job at Enjoy Life. I always loved Enjoy Life products, but hearing each member speak passionately about the products and the great strides they go through to make sure everything is free of allergens and tastes great made me appreciate them more.  I'm obsessed with their Snickerdoodle cookies and lucky me...they were making them when we walked through the factory.  The delicious smells of cinnamon and sugar filled the air which reminded me of when my friends and I would drive past the Nabisco factory just to get a whiff of the cookies baking.  This was 100% better, because I could eat what was baking.  After a learning the history of the company, tasting the new products (um...the crunchy chocolate chip cookies are to DIE for!!), and the tour we were sent off on our merry way....with a giant bag of all their new products, which I will be reviewing very soon.

Did I mention I was passing out goodies at the Udi's Gluten Free table?  Yep.  I was helping the famous Heather Collins work the crowd and doling out samples of muffins, sandwiches from Jason's Deli, and hot dog buns. It was such a joy to see everyone so excited about Udi's Gluten Free products, especially the hot dog buns.  I loved hearing every one's story about how Udi's changed their lives and even meeting a few friends who stopped by. What a fun day!


Heather and I, photo courtesy of Celiac in the City

It was a great time and I ended my expo experience at the VIP party with bloggers and experts galore.  Please check out the blogs from everyone I met this weekend!

April 27, 2011

Gluten Free Cooking Expo...one weekend only!


There’s been lots of commotion in gluten free blog world about the Gluten Free Cooking Expo presented by Living Without magazine this upcoming weekend. For three days in the glamorous town of Lisle, IL gluten free foodies from across the nation will gather together for a big, bad gluten free event.


 
Tickets are still available for this Saturday or Sunday’s cooking classes where you can attend sessions on innovative lunch ideas, baking gluten free cakes, basic gluten free cooking techniques, and several more. Ticket prices are $175 per day and include a gluten free lunch.

 
Class instructors include

A more affordable route is attending the vendor fair. Why? It’s only $15 to sample over 70 vendor’s products. Think of all of your favorite gluten free products, chances are the companies that make them will be there passing out goodies. Plus this year there will be a vendor fair stage with presenters! But more importantly….

 
I will be there! As an Udi’s Gluten Free Ambassador I will be working at the Udi’s tables passing out samples and letting you know about all of the wonderful products from Udi’s Gluten Free.

We’ll be sampling all of the favorite Udi’s gluten free products, plus the long awaited buns (!!!!!), cookies (Udi’s makes gluten free cookies? Yep!), and something so incredible I can’t wait to see how our customers react! Some people don’t even know they exist! We’ll make sure you know where to find them and I’m pretty sure they’ll leave your taste buds in a tizzy. You’ll have to stop by to see what all the fuss is about. And please say hello….I love meeting people who read my blog!  



 See you soon!!

April 11, 2011

My oh my, would you look at that?

I realized I haven't been posting as frequently as I would like and I'm just bursting with news to share with everyone.  I've been super busy with work, doctor appointments, and life in general.  That's why I've been posting daily over on my Gluten Free Betsy Facebook page.  If you haven't "liked" me yet, get on over there and check it out!  I've decided that the 500th "liker" will get a big-bad Gluten Free Betsy goodie bag of a bunch of products and other fun gluten free stuff.  Tell your friends...

Here are some of the highlights of what's been going on in the gluten free world...


For all my Chicago GF peeps!  


Mity Nice is throwing a Gluten Free Wine dinner tomorrow!  Mity Nice has revamped not only the restaurant's interior, but also the menu.  They will be hosting a 4-course gluten free wine dinner with Master Sommelier Alpana Singh, you know, from Check Please!  “Gluten-free rock star” Executive Chef Larry Donahue presents a menu of your favorite modern comfort gluten-free dishes paired with select wines. Reservations for this special event are required and can be made by calling 312-335-4745 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting            312-335-4745      end_of_the_skype_highlighting; the price is $55, all inclusive. For more information, please call 312.335.4745 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting            312.335.4745      end_of_the_skype_highlighting or visit www.leye.com/restaurants/directory/mity-nice. 

University of Chicago Celiac Center Spring Benefit

It's almost time for the University of Chicago's Celiac Center's Spring Benefit. On Friday, May 6 at the Swissôtel, over 30 chefs and bakeries will be sampling their gluten free dishes to attendees.   I went last year and it was A-M-A-Z-I-N-G!  In addition to the of the wonderful gourmet food, there are silent and live auctions.  I definitely recommend purchasing tickets to support the UC Celiac Center.


Gluten Free Deals Comes to Chicago, Austin, and NYC

Have you been enjoying the Gluten Free Deals that have been happening for online companies lately?  We had Glenny's, GoPicnic, Liz Lovely, and this week is Better Batter. Now Gluten Free Deals are available for Austin, New York City, and Chicago!  Now you will be able to dine in these deal coupons in stores and restaurants around town.  Sign up for Chicago/Austin/NYC deals and start saving!

My so called vegan life.


Oh, Hippocrates, you were so on to something.  This past year I've been illin'.  Just an overall not feeling well.  Tired, achy, unable to concentrate, exhausted, you name it, I've felt it.  After several rounds of doctors' visits and lots of exciting tests later, I've been given the diagnoses of Fibromyalgia and Adrenal Fatigue.  Great. 

After a little research I read that a vegan diet can help improve, if not reverse, the symptoms of fibromyalgia.  I just want to feel well I again, so I've decided to give it a go.  I figured I'd test it out for a while and if I feel better, then I will try my hardest to stick with it.  So I gave up animal products for Lent.

Giving up meat is not a big deal for me. I often choose vegetarian options at restaurants or at home.  I've slowly been eliminating dairy too.  I've long ago switched to almond milk instead of cow's milk.  The eggs on the other hand...that's tough.  Especially in baking, which I love to do.

This experience reminds me of when I first started a gluten free diet.  I took baby steps into the world of gluten free foods.  I ate rice for every meal for months.  I still remember making it day after day, white rice (!!!  See how much I didn't know back then?) with lots of butter and salt.  Everyday, I feel a sense of worry, what am I going to eat?  Salads get boring, I don't have enough time to make a good vegan meal, what can I grab really quick?, where can I eat out?  Those are the struggles I am facing, but I'm slowly overcoming them.

Making choices is becoming a little bit easier and I've experimented with things like egg replacer, coconut oil, and dairy free cheese.  The results?  Pretty tasty.  Here are some of my favorite vegan products I've been using so far:
 One of the first vegan recipes I made was a chickpea salad.  Similar to tuna, chicken, or egg salad, it's a great stand in for sandwiches, wraps, or just plain.  It goes a little something like this...

Chickpea Salad à la Betsy

Ingredients
1 can of Chickpeas, rinsed
2 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
2 roasted red peppers
½ green pepper
1 finely chopped scallion (green onion)
a drizzle of olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Directions
In a food processor, grind up the carrots, green pepper and onion.  Once well combined add the chickpeas and roasted red pepper and continue to grind until you get a chunky, soft mixture.  Drizzle a little olive oil and mix with a spoon.  Add salt and pepper if needed and serve however you like. 

My favorite way to eat this is, as mentioned above, with a Food for Life brown rice tortilla.  Warmed up in a skillet with a little Daiya mozzarella cheese, like a quesadilla.  Fill the tortilla with chickpea salad, top with fresh spinach and enjoy!

Yummy Chickpea Salad and Spinach Wrap!

    February 26, 2011

    Gluten Free Betsy Bookclub: Cilie Yack Is Under Attack!

    Last year around St. Patrick's Day, the Southside Celiac Group that I am a part of had a guest speaker at our meeting. The speaker, Caryn Talty, is the editor of Health Family, a website dedicated to "staying healthy in the modern world."  She was a fantastic speaker and gave a wonderful presentation on the benefits of coconut flour.

    When I saw she wrote and illustrated a children's book late last year, I couldn't be happier for her.  I was also excited to read it.  Cilie Yack is Under Attack: A story about a boy with celiac disease is about an Irish boy named Cilie who is nine years old and living with celiac disease.  The book is a chapter book for children at a 4th grade reading level and is told from Cilie's point of view.  Described as "a story about how one boy triumphs against all odds...", Cilie touches on his life prior to being diagnosed, his relationships with his family and friends, life at school, Irish culture, and much more.

    Cilie have a gluten reaction.
    The book has so many situations in which readers, especially children, can relate.  Difficulty at school, attending birthday parties, giving into temptation and unfortunately, gluten's painful reactions.  What's so great about this story is that not only does Cilie come to terms with having to be on a strict gluten free diet, but he also aspires to do something more about it.  At the age of 9, Cilie researches his disease at the library and even experiments with gluten free baking.  With his new found knowledge of celiac facts and gluten free baking, he starts up a Sous Chef Cooking Club for the other children in his neighborhood who are gluten free or have other food allergies.

    This book was a joy to read.  I found Cilie to be adorable and very realistic.  His constant rambling and getting off topic is exactly like children I know.  He's so filled with knowledge of celiac disease at his young age, and it's so sweet to see him not only "deal with it", but to help other kids going through the same thing.  He's such a likable character, and what's even better is that there is a real life, Cilie Yack Sous Chef Club For Kids!


    Author, Caryn Talty, not only knew of the importance of writing this book for her son, but also that there be a place for kids with food allergies to get together and learn to cook gluten/allergy free and have the support from each other.  With more and more kids being diagnosed with celiac, gluten intolerance, or a food allergy, it's pretty common for more than one student in a classroom to be on a special diet.  Not only that, but it's also very challenging for grade school kids to participate and feel accepted when food is being served.  Pizza parties, birthday cake, buying a "hot lunch" at school, even innocent classroom treats are off limits.  The Cilie Yack Sous Club for Kids gives kids confidence in their diets by seeing that there are others who eat the same way they do.  They are also learning to cook gluten free meals and have fun while doing so.

    Cilie and his father trying to figure out how to bake with gluten free ingredients.
     
    Right now Cilie Yack is Under Attack: A story about a boy with celiac disease is on sale at Amazon.com for a little more than $9, and if you have Amazon prime it also includes free shipping.

    Either route, I encourage you to purchase an additional copy to donate to your local library or your child's school.