August 30, 2013

FridayFollow - KIND Healthy Snacks + a Giveaway


For gluten-free on the go, snack bars are a savior. Easily transportable and filling, bars are a good option for filling that snack void. If you're like me and find yourself in a Starbucks looking for an accompaniment to your latte, that little stash of KIND bars near the register feels like it was put there just for you.

KIND started their little nut bar business back in 2004 with 8 different flavors. Their mission was to make a healthy AND tasty snack, and they have succeeded!  Today, they've grown their snack bar line to include 22 nut bar varieties and 6 granola flavors.

The goodness doesn't stop there. Since they believe there's more to business than just profit, they started a movement, Do The Kind Thing. Do The Kind Thing is a commitment to making the world a little kinder, one act of kindness at a time. Share your acts of kindness on Twitter and Instagram tagging it #kindawesome.

This past June, they debuted 2 new flavors to the Nuts & Spices line of bars.



The Maple Glazed Pecan & Sea Salt bar is a sweet and salty combination of pecans, almonds and peanuts covered in maple syrup with a touch of sea salt. It provides 5g fiber and 6g protein with only 5g of sugar. 


The Dark Chocolate Chili Almond bar is a sweet and spicy blend of mixed nuts drizzled in dark chocolate with a trio of cascabel, ancho, and habanero chilies. It has 7g of fiber and 6g of protein with only 5g of sugar. 

I've always been a fan of KIND bars (and granola...nom!), so I knew I would enjoy these new flavors. The Maple Glazed Pecan & Sea Salt bar was very flavorful with the three different nuts and just a hint of sweetness from the maple syrup. I loved that I could really taste the sea salt in there too! The Dark Chocolate Chili Almond bar kicked it up a notch with those chilies! Not to worry if you're not a spicy food lover, the heat was very mild and paired perfectly with the rich dark chocolate. Both of these flavors are great options if you're looking for a little something more in your snack bar.

Want to learn more about KIND? Follow them! 

Psst! KIND is giving away a CASE OF SNACKS on their Facebook page. Don't forget to go over there to enter!

August 27, 2013

Jalapeño Parmesan Crusted Chicken

When I was growing up, my mom would make chicken for dinner fairly often. Her number one go-to recipe was a breaded chicken. It was quick and simple, and we all loved it. At the time we weren't gluten free. We didn't even know what gluten was. Store bought bread crumbs with a little seasoning worked just fine for us.

Once I (and eventually Babs) went gluten free the recipe fell to the wayside. We opted to grill our chicken, which was not only gluten free, but also healthier. I hadn't had a gluten free version of the childhood favorite until recently when we made some for the Breaking Bad premiere. It was our version of Los Pollos Hermanos.


When Kitchen Table Bakers sent me samples of their Jalapeño Parmesan crisps, I wasn't sure if I should incorporate them into a recipe or eat them straight up. After trying one crisp, I definitely felt the heat. I knew I couldn't handle them alone, so I decided to crush them up and use them as the "breading" in that old breaded chicken recipe. I opted to bake them completely in the oven instead of lightly pan-frying first which was how I was originally taught.

The result was juicy chicken with a hint of cheese and a wonderful zip of heat. Not crazy spicy, but just the right amount of kick to update a typical breaded chicken dish. I served it with broccoli, which is an odd choice, but I'm nearing Old Mother Hubbard territory and am using up the remnants of my fridge. I would recommend serving with Spanish rice, in a taco salad, or with a sweet potato.

Jalapeño Parmesan Crusted Chicken

Ingredients

  • 4 thin sliced boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • ¼ cup rice flour (or all purpose gluten free flour, corn starch, etc.)
  • 1 package of Kitchen Table Bakers Jalapeño Parmesan crisps*
  • Canola oil (or your favorite cooking oil)

Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 375° F
  2. Using the cooking oil, grease a shallow oven-safe baking dish
  3. Crush the Jalapeño Parmesan crisps to a consistency of breadcrumbs. (I threw mine in the NutriBullet)
  4. Set up 3 bowls, filling one bowl with flour, beaten egg in another, and crushed crisps in the last
  5.  For each chicken breast, dredge in flour, then let soak in egg, and finally coat with the crushed crisps
  6. Lay each piece of chicken in the greased dish evenly apart so they are not touching
  7. Bake 8-12 minutes (depending on thickness of chicken), flip and bake an additional 8-12 minutes until thoroughly cooked


*This recipe will work just as well with any of the Kitchen Table Bakers flavors of crisps.


How do you prepare your gluten free breaded chicken? GF prepared breadcrumbs? Crackers? Potato chips? Share your tips in the comments below.

August 23, 2013

FollowFriday - Honest Tea


This #FollowFriday share is long overdue. I was given the opportunity to sample a variety of Honest Tea beverages back in the spring, but somehow I failed to follow through with my review. To be "honest" (get it?) I usually drink water most the time. I kept forgetting to grab a bottle of tea instead, but I'm glad I finally did, because there were a lot of flavors of Honest Tea that I really enjoyed!

I sampled the following teas and ades:


The teas were great, but I think it was the ades that won me over. I do like to have a tall glass of ice cold lemonade in the summer and I found the Honest Tea ades to be refreshing and not at all sugary or sweet like some lemonades can be. The flavor combinations of pomegranate, blueberries, and grapes as well as orange and mango worked well together. I'm going to have to go out and try the other ade flavors, they look mighty tasty!

The Pomegranate Blue Honest Ade might have been my favorite!

The best part of Honest Tea products is they way they are made. They use real, unaltered ingredients and safe, honest practices to produce their drinks. Here's the good stuff:

I appreciate Honest Tea company's mission to provide healthy and organic beverages to the world. Too many drinks on the market today are filled with chemicals and added sugar. Having this healthy alternative is a great choice for tea, juice, and soda lovers. Cheers!

To learn more about Honest Tea, follow them! 
They can be found on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube
Visit their website to download a coupon &


August 22, 2013

Good Times With a Side of Gluten Free

Living in Chicago has its pluses and minuses, but summer in the city is definitely a plus. The weather is nice and there is something to do every single weekend. Being gluten free in Chicago is equally awesome since there are so many places to enjoy great food. This past weekend, a couple of friends and I decided to go out  and have a little bit of fun. Nothing crazy, just visiting a couple of Chicago's finest businesses.

Alissa (of Breaking Up With Captain Crunch fame) decided it was high time she check out Cassava, so I was more than happy to join her.  The only word to describe Cassava is "phenomenal". Everything is gluten free and who doesn't love a cheesy bread? Once Alexandra got wind of a Cassava lunch, she headed up there as well.


I opted for a Sun-dried Tomato & Basil cassava roll and a Bacon, Egg and Cheese Empanada. One of the best meals ever.  Both Alissa and I wish we could get empanadas everywhere. Everyone would love them. Just swap out those regular ol' gluten filled bacon, egg and cheese sandwiches for these bad boys and the world would be a very happy place.


After our nice long lunch catching up with each other, we headed over to the west loop where the Threadless T-shirt Company headquarters is located to see what was going on at their Annual Threadless Family Reunion. We were able to get shirts silk screened and hear from the artist Jeremyville.

We were a little bummed we missed the games and prizes, but we still had a good time. Threadless is an awesome company and it is pretty neat that they open their doors to the public once a year to party with them. Go buy their shirts and artwork! I have a couple prints hanging in my living room that I just love and can't wait to get more.


My weekend wouldn't be complete without seeing my family. Every Sunday I head "back home" to visit with everyone, do laundry, have dinner, and of course, watch Breaking Bad with them. I have my packages sent there too since my apartment has little tiny mailboxes along the sidewalk fence and I don't trust FedEx or UPS shipments to be left outside the front door of my building. I was beyond thrilled to see my recent Red Apple Lipstick order had arrived and my niece and I decided to have a little makeup party in the living room.


Little miss thang did all of our makeup and we looked beautiful. I hadn't shared my Red Apple goodies with my family before and my mom was really impressed with the quality. She was rockin' the Firestorm lipgloss, and said something along the lines of, "Wow! This stuff is really on!" One swipe of the rich color and you're good to go. The firestorm gloss has that bronzey undertone shine that makes your lips gleam. I've been wearing the color all week and have gotten compliments saying my makeup looks really pretty.

My week has continued to be busy filled with good times with a side of gluten free. I saw a preview for Austenland and got a gluten free sandwich at Hannah's Bretzel for dinner. (a silly, but cute movie!) I had lunch with my parents and then hit up the Chicago History Museum. I had some sushi and cocktails at Hot Woks Cool Sushi (they have wheat-free tamari sauce, yo!) with my bestie before we went shopping on State Street (that great street) where we ROCKED it, both getting dresses and shoes for a wedding all on the first go.

What have your good times with a side of gluten free been lately?


August 21, 2013

Back to School! Tips on Keeping the Kids Gluten Free in the Classroom and on Campus

The Betsy books were my mom's favorite series growing up.
She also loved the name Betsy so much, obviously. 
The past couple of days my Facebook feed has been filled with everyone's adorable kids smiling happily with backpacks strapped to their backs. That means one thing: Back to School time.

I dawned on me that I've been out of school for ten years now. Not counting the time I got kicked out of school. I kind of miss it. I always loved going back to school. It was a fresh start. Not to mention my love of shopping for new clothes and school supplies. How fun was picking out a TrapperKeeper and Lisa Frank folders? I remember calling all of my friends to see who I had classes with each year after registering for elementary and high school. In college, I couldn't wait for the semester schedule to be released so I could start planning my courses. (Nerd Alert!) The one thing that was never on my mind was worrying about my gluten free diet.

If you remember my story, I was diagnosed with celiac disease when I was 18. I had attended The University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana for one month shy of a semester, but dropped out because I was so sick with undiagnosed celiac disease. It wasn't until a month and a half after coming home that I found out my stomach woes were celiac and instantly began a gluten free diet. At that time I was attending community college and then transferred to Columbia College in downtown Chicago and lived at home through my college years. Access to gluten free food wasn't a problem. I usually ate my meals at home, prepared by myself or Babs. When I was out with friends, I read labels on the crap I bought at White Hen and ordered a lot of salads and burgers with no bun at restaurants. I was fine and seriously never even worried about a thing. I was feeling a million-bagillion-zagillion times better and can't remember really ever being glutened during college. Except for the Leona's "it's not breading it's seasoning" incident of 2000. Man, I wish blogging was a thing back then. I would have loved to look back on my newbie gluten free self.

With all of that being said, since I didn't have to deal with a gluten free diet at classroom parties, school cafeterias and campus dining halls, not to mention snacks or meals at school teams/clubs/dances/sleepovers I can't necessarily tell you how I managed to get through them. I can, however, share with you the tips and information passed along by teens, moms with gluten free kids, and experts in the field of gluten free and celiac disease.

General Gluten Free Kids Information


Gluten Free College Living

Good news! Jack Daniels is gluten free.
Drink responsibly college kids,
and not until you're 21 of course

Blogs from Parents and Gluten Free Young Adults

There is so much information online today that will help you sort out the difficulties of social activities for kids. I'm sure if you've landed on this page, you're already an awesome parent since you're looking for answers. Being proactive by speaking to teachers and school administrators is the best step. 

Bringing gluten free treats for the teacher to have on hand when they pass out gluten filled goodies is a really good idea. To stock up on bulk items like snack bars or those cute little rice crisp bars, Abe's Market is having a Back-To-School sale with items up to 50% off. It ends on Friday, so hurry!


Have a great year, kids!

August 20, 2013

Gluten Free GNO at P.F. Chang's

Confession: At some point near the end of May I got super sick. I'll save you the details, but it involved my GI tract and lasted about two and a half months. Lots of tests and procedures, thousands of dollars and a heavy dose of antibiotics later, this past week I finally got my appetite back and could enjoy food again. Obviously that was cause for a celebration. Friday after work, I grabbed my gluten free bestie, Alexandra, and we headed to our local Chang's in downtown Chicago for a much needed girls' night out.

Recently P.F. Chang's graciously sent me a gift card to use towards their new Summer Seasonal Menu. Chef Yuji Iwasa created a handful of new dishes using the wonderful fresh vegetables that summer brings. Think summer squash, heirloom tomatoes, and mango. Out of the six new summer items, there is only one gluten free option, the Summer Vegetable Quinoa "Fried Rice". This dish is lightly toasted red quinoa with sunburst squash, mango, grape tomatoes, snow peas, and topped with a fried egg. Check it:

Summer Vegetable Quinoa "Fried Rice"

While it sounds delicious in theory, we both though it could have used more flavor.  Our quinoa dish didn't have as many vegetables as I had hoped, and I couldn't taste any mango. The quinoa was a little too bland for my liking. I usually like to cook it in a gluten free chicken or vegetable broth to give it a bit more flavor. The egg was a bit too over-fried as well. I might try and create this dish at home to see if I can add some pizzazz to it, P.F. Chang's shared the recipes for the summer dishes. It looks like most of them can be made gluten free if you substitute soy sauce for gluten free soy sauce or tamari sauce.

Despite the summer quinoa dish falling a little flat, it didn't ruin our meal in the least! We indulged in some summer cocktails; I went for the seasonal Long Island Rum Tea and Alexandra went for the classic Yuzu Ginger Mojito. Sugary, boozy sweetness.

Yuzu Ginger Mojito and Long Island Rum Tea

Gluten free chicken lettuce wraps were had and we opted for trying a new mainstay to the gluten free menu, the GF Shaking Beef. Fantastic! Tender flank steak with broccolini, tomatoes and red onions served on a bed of mixed baby greens with a zesty lime vinaigrette. I will definitely order it again.

GF Shaking Beef

We couldn't pass up one of my favorite menu items, the GF Chang's Spicy Chicken. It's heavenly. Lightly battered juicy chicken pieces with a sweet & spicy sauce, it's pretty much a sophisticated chicken nuggets dipped in sweet & sour sauce and I highly recommend it.

GF Chang's Spicy Chicken

Not being able to finish the entrees, we skipped dessert, but I can't not tell you about the flourless chocolate dome. When you visit P.F. Chang's make sure to save room for this beautiful work of art:

Flourless Chocolate Dome (photo credit: P.F. Chang's)

It's so decadent!

Have you dined at P.F. Chang's before? What's your favorite gluten free menu item?

*P.F. Chang's sent me a gift card to purchase items for this review. All opinions in this post are completely my own. P.F. Chang's has a high standard of gluten free kitchen practices. If you're nervous about dining out, here are my tips to help you!

August 19, 2013

Gluten Free BBQ Chicken Pizza

Everyone loves pizza. Very rarely will you find someone that doesn't. I'm thrilled that my gluten free world has evolved to the point of being able to order pizza from a handful of places (gluten free lady's choice!) and have it delivered!

It's also fun to make pizza at home every once in a while. While I love making veggie pizzas with the typical tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese, it's fun to jazz it up a bit too. That's where some BBQ Chicken pizza comes in. The sweet tang of barbecue sauce, tender chicken, caramelized onions, a cheesy blend of sharp cheddar and mozzarella, and the freshness of cilantro. Anything but ordinary.

My family has been making this recipe since my pre-celiac days when we'd use a Boboli pizza crust. To gluten free this up, there are several different pre-made gluten free crusts to choose from such as Udi's, Rudi's, or Schar. Since you don't have to prepare the crust, it's pretty easy to put together and doesn't require a lot of prep work other than cooking the chicken.

BBQ Chicken Pizza

Ingredients
1 pre-made gluten free pizza crust. (I used Schar)
¼ of gluten free BBQ sauce (I used Sweet Baby Ray's)
1 cup of cooked chicken breast, chopped into bite sized pieces
½ cup of mozzarella cheese, shredded
½ cup of sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
1 small sweet onion, sliced in rings
1 tsp oil
2 Tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped

Directions
  1. Cook your chicken breast! You can bake it, boil it, pressure cook it, grill it. Once fully cooked, chop into bite sized pieces, about 1 cup total
  2. Preheat oven to temperature listed on package of pre-made gluten free pizza crust
  3. Slice up your onion, heat up your pan, coat it with oil and caramelize those onions until they are a nice golden brown
  4. Spread your BBQ sauce all over the pizza crust; if you like a saucy pizza feel free to add more!
  5. Evenly distribute chicken pieces over sauced up crust
  6. Sprinkle cheeses on top
  7. Add those caramelized onions over the cheese
  8. Sprinkle cilantro on top of everything
  9. Pop into the preheated oven and bake per directions on the crust, usually about 12-15 minutes. You'll know when it's ready when the cheese is nicely melted
  10. Once out of the oven, cool for a few and then dig in!
What are your favorite pizza toppings?

August 18, 2013

Gluten Free Betsy Book Club - Gluten Is My Bitch: Rants, Recipes, and Ridiculousness for the Gluten Free



So remember my book club I started and kinda left hanging? Well it's back. I don't remember if I hadn't read any gluten free/celiac books in the past couple of years or what the deal was.

Anywho...I started following April Pevetaux's blog, Gluten Is My Bitch, a couple of years ago and was thrilled when she announced she was writing a book. She's hilarious as all get out, so naturally I was all over that Amazon.com pre-order. When I finally got the book this spring, I dove right in and it was just the book to bring the GFB Book Club back in session.

First off, there are soooooo many gluten free books nowadays. Everyone and their mother is writing a book about gluten free and usually they are all the same. The symptoms, what to eat, what to avoid, recipes, etc. Finding the right author to deliver this information to you is key. Do you want a doctor or celiac expert to provide the clinical medical advice on going gluten free? Would you rather have a chef or baker tempt you with their mouthwatering gluten free recipes? How about a funny lady telling you what's up? That's what April brings to the bookshelf with Gluten Is My Bitch: Rants, Recipes, and Ridiculousness for the Gluten-Free.


Since I already reviewed this book on Goodreads, I'm going to share that review here:

I loves me some gluten free reads, and this book delivers on so many levels. Number 1, it's hilarious! April Peveteaux educates with a sassy spin and leaves nothing out. Like most "going gluten free" books, she covers the basics like what you can and cannot eat. Tips for eating out, traveling, kids on a gluten free diet, cross-contamination, and advances in celiac research. Recipes included!

What I like about this book is that it's not a textbook clinical bunch of gobbley-gook. She's not medical professional "with all the answers", heck, she even admits to some downfalls and confesses getting glutened. She feels timid asking the dude at Chipotle to change his gloves too and she craves "real" food like cupcakes and donuts and pizza crust.

I think this book would be a great resource to give to a friend or family member that just doesn't get your celiac or a gluten issue. There are sections where she mentions "maybe you're not gluten free, but providing for someone who is" this book explains it way better than a scientific explanation. We gluten free folks have all dealt with "there's just a little bit of flour in it" or "it's fat free/low fat/lite/sugar free/low carb" or "what's gluten?" before...this is the perfect answer to their questions...and it will humor them.


As an added bonus, April was in town during the Printer's Row Book Fest this past June and did a little demo and signed books. I was able to meet her, get my book signed, and pick up a F*ck Flour button. Woot!

Why, yes I will keep kicking gluten ass, thank you very much!

Want more book gluten free book reviews? Visit the GFB Book Club page!

August 17, 2013

Public House's Upcoming Gluten Free Beer Dinner

Fancy dinners paired with alcohol are always fun, right? Unfortunately they aren't always plentiful for gluten free peeps like us, with the exception of Wildfire's Annual Gluten Free Wine Dinners or Woodchuck Cider's restaurant takeover for Gluten Free Cider Dinners. Now, thanks to Public House, one of the first ever gluten free BEER dinners is on the books for next month.


Public House is a gastropub in the River North area of Chicago that has a pretty extensive beer list. Over a hundred beers available and even taps at some tables and on the walls. There are also six cicerones (the equivalent of a sommelier) on staff.  Hi. They're obviously serious about beer. 

Public House has hosted beer dinners in the past, but never a gluten free one. Since they already have a gluten free menu and they're all about they beer, they thought why not? This event will mark their very first gluten free beer dinner.

The six-­course pairing menu from Chef David Blonsky & Chef Jeremy Tannehill was created to complement the hand-­picked gluten-free beers:


While most of the beers chosen are gluten free, some are gluten-removed which some gluten free or celiac diners might be wary of. Public House will gladly substitute one of the other gluten free beers on the menu for those who ask.  Public House also has a high level of preventing cross-contamination in their kitchen, using separate food prep surfaces and separate utensils, along with following their gluten free kitchen guidelines.

The dinner starts at 6:30 p.m. on September 18th and is $35 (not including tax and gratuity) per person. Tickets are limited and are available in advance at publichousechicago.com/glutenfreebeerdinner. I already bought my ticket, so I hope to see you there!

August 16, 2013

FollowFriday - Liz Lovely Cookies!

If you haven't had a Liz Lovely gluten free cookie, then you've been missing out. The little Vermont bakery has been churning out the most delicious vegan gluten free cookies for almost ten years now. With flavors such as Triple Chocolate Mint, Chocolate Fudge, and Ginger Molasses, and Chocolate Chip you really can't go wrong.
 
Liz Lovely deliciousness!
They know I'm a huge fan, so they kindly sent me some cookies to tide me over while they announced this exciting news:


Awesome, right?! Another dedicated gluten free bakery in the house! They've always been super careful with their cross contamination process, even sharing their test results with customers.  Can't wait for those new flavors!

You can follow Liz Lovely on Facebook, Twitter, and their blog. Don't forget to join their Fan Club to get exclusive news and discounts!

Have you tried Liz Lovely cookies? Which is your favorite flavor?

August 2, 2013

It was a good day! FDA defines gluten-free for food labeling

Today the FDA FINALLY set some regulations on gluten free labeling. This is huge news considering it's taken this long to get it done.

This new federal definition standardizes the meaning of “gluten-free” claims across the food industry. It requires that, in order to use the term "gluten-free" on its label, a food must meet all of the requirements of the definition, including that the food must contain less than 20 parts per million of gluten. The rule also requires foods with the claims “no gluten,” “free of gluten,” and “without gluten” to meet the definition for “gluten-free.”


Click on image to read the entire ruling

For all the details and answers to questions you might have, please visit the FDA's Q&A page.

I also recommend reading Jules Shepard's blog post on this issue. She, John Forberger, and the American Celiac Disease Alliance were instrumental in getting these standards set in place. In 2011 they founded 1in133.org to spread awareness on the importance of gluten free labeling. You may have remembered the World's Tallest Gluten Free Cake they constructed to pressure law makers on finalizing gluten free labeling standards that were promised in 2007 to be done within five years. A little late, but hey, better late than never!