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!