Posted in The Basics

What the Heck is Gluten and WHERE do I find it?

Simply put, gluten is the one of the proteins found in certain grains like wheat, barley, rye, durum, spelt, farro, graham, kamut, and semolina. 

It is the “glue” (get it? GLUEten, lol) that makes dough stretchy, makes it rise and adds that texture that is often enjoyed in regular bread.

It is VERY IMPORTANT to check your labels* each and every time you buy anything BECAUSE:

It is in the obvious foods – breads, cakes, cookies, crackers, croutons, couscous, graham crackers, pasta, pizza, stuffing, pretzels etc…

It is used as a thickener and stabilizing agent – Asian sauces, BBQ sauce, canned baked beans, canned chili, canned soup, gravy, ice cream, ketchup, mustard, pie fillings, puddings, salad dressings, sherbet, soy sauces, soup etc….

It is a flavor enhancer and flow agent so you might find it in baking powder, beer, bouillon, coated popcorn or chips, cocoa mix, dairy products, dry roasted nuts, instant flavored coffees, packaged rice mixes, seasoning packets, spice blends,  etc…

Watch out for processed foods because you can find it in cheese, fast food, hot dogs, inexpensive cold cuts, pate, ready-made foods, reduced-fat foods, sausage, self-basting poultry, soy protein meat substitutes, etc…

Bet you didn’t think you could find it in: blue cheese, candy (especially licorice), canned meats, cheese sauce, chewing gum, curry powder, extracts, frozen french fries (it’s in the coating), imitation fish (like those crab sticks),  “malt”, pickled products, shredded cheese, sour cream,  etc…

Are you shocked yet?  

Here are a few more things to think about:  body wash, body lotion, hair care products, make up, laundry detergent, lipstick, prescription medications, tea bags, toothpaste and vitamin supplements.  

How about this:  your toaster, wooden cutting board, lickable envelopes or stamps, the inside of latex or rubber gloves, paint, clay, play dough and glue!

WHY why why is it in everything?  Simple answer for most – because it is cheap.  Think about this……….what is the best way to stretch a pot of chili?  Add beans.  What is the best way for manufacturers to use less of the quality ingredient and make more product (and more money)?  Add gluten, because is cheap.

Moral of this story – READ ALL LABELS!

It was my goal to make an impact so that you can see that gluten can be found in the obvious places and not so obvious places.  If you want to feel better you will need to remove gluten completely and to do this you need to investigate anything and everything that you put IN or ON your body.  Do not be overwhelmed by this large (but partial) listing. Once you start reading every label, it will quickly become second nature to you to be able to figure out what you can and can’t have.  Don’t despair – there are gluten-free products available for most items listed above!

The biggest and most important tip I can give you is to read, read, read every label – EVERY TIME YOU BUY IT (manufacturers often change their formulas with no warning or indication).  If you can’t tell from the label, contact the manufacturer, toll-free numbers are readily available on the internet.   If after all of this you still are not sure………don’t!

NOTES:  You will notice that I did not include OATS in this listing.  It is not an oversight – there seems to be some question as to IF it has gluten.  Naturally they do not and even though it is a different protein than wheat, some Celiacs might have a problem with oats.

One of the biggest concerns is from possible cross-contamination in the growing and  processing of oats – they might be grown in fields next to wheat and barley and/or processed in the same facilities.

It is suggested that if you want to try oatmeal that you find a product that is grown in gluten-free fields and processed in gluten-free processing plants.  Bob’s Red Mill is one of these companies that make gluten-free oats, there are others – check online.

Something else to think about:  Doctors say that Celiac and gluten-intolerance is from ingested gluten – but there are so many people out there (myself included) who have problems using products with gluten on their skin, hair etc. you may want to make your own choice based on your level of sensitivity.  Personally I steer away from anything that has it!

Live and LOVE gluten-free!

When checking your labels, they will not list “gluten” as an ingredient.  You will need to learn what names to look for that have gluten.  I will be posting additional blogs on what to look for on a label.  For now a quick tip, after the ingredients you might see a bolded line that says “Allergen Information” or “Contains”.  This will be followed by a list of potential allergens.  If you see WHEAT then you know for sure to stay away!   

Posted in Gluten Free Recipes, Sweets

Banana Nutella Muffins

This recipe is FABULOUS!

Original muffins:

My gluten-free version:

 

2 cups GLUTEN-FREE flour
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon table salt
3 very ripe bananas, soft, darkly speckled, mashed well (about 1 1/2 cups)
1/4 cup plain yogurt
2 large eggs, beaten lightly
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 teaspoon GLUTEN-FREE vanilla extract
1/4 cup toasted hazelnuts, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup Nutella

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line 12 muffin cups with muffin liners or spray with non-stick cooking spray.

In a large bowl combine flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt; set aside.

In a medium bowl mix mashed bananas, yogurt, eggs, butter, and vanilla. Lightly fold banana mixture into dry ingredients with rubber spatula until just combined and batter looks thick and chunky. Fold in hazelnuts.

Divide batter equally among prepared muffin cups.  Place 1 teaspoon of Nutella on top of each muffin. Swirl with a toothpick. Bake until golden and toothpick inserted into center of muffin comes out clean, 20 to 24 minutes. Remove muffins from tin and serve.

NOTES:  Baking soda is naturally gluten-free.  Nutella is gluten-free!  Yogurt is naturally gluten-free, but because of additives, please check the label.  PLEASE CHECK your vanilla, not all extract is gluten-free – McCormicks is good, I use Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla Extract which is gluten-free but a little pricey.  I really like Pamela’s Baking mix for all of my sweet baking and have found that I can use it as a cup for cup exchange in all of my old tried and true recipes.  Also check your non-stick cooking spray – not all are gluten-free!

In this gluten-free version……..I did not swirl in the nutella.  The muffin has a banana bread texture…a bit heavier but very moist.  I use very dark bananas so the batter is darker than usual.  This muffin was excellent and I will be making this again!

A big shout out to Diane Krejci Sullivan who found this recipe at Sweet Pea’s Kitchen (http://sweetpeaskitchen.com/).  I modified it to make it gluten-free.  Thank you Christina for an amazing recipe.

Posted in Product Reviews, Snacks

Dazzles – Gourmet Oven Baked Corn

So the other day I received a package with two different flavor Dazzles – Butter and Caramel Corn.  Here is my review:

I am rating this product ♥♥♥♥ with a score of 18 out of 20.

http://buydazzles.com/index.html

Appearance:  Bite size pieces without all the cracks and crumbs you often see with chips.  While I doubt it there will be leftovers, the packaging has a zip top so that you can store them without worrying about them getting stale.

Flavor:  The butter flavored ones are very tasty, with a hint of salt (not too much like some of the store-bought puffed corn) followed by a nice buttery wallop.  The caramel corn was smooth with a buttery, sweetness that made you want more.

Texture:  The butter flavor corn melts in your mouth.  You don’t even need to chew if you don’t want to.  The caramel corn first has a crunch then a burst of sweet followed by melt in your mouth.  No hulls to get stuck between your teeth either.

Price:  This was the only bummer.  It is $5.00 for a 12″ bag of these treats (plus shipping).  However, it is understandable that having gourmet flavor choices with premium ingredients (which you can taste in every bite, especially the caramel), it is expected to be higher in price than some other snacks.

Above are all the facts I found to be true.  Now here are my thoughts – I feel this snack is worth the $5 a bag.  When I tasted the caramel corn, it actually made me close my eyes for a second!  🙂  True story.  It tasted like something that my mom might have made in her kitchen.

I checked their website to see what other flavors they offered and almost fell off my chair.  I figured that there must be some mistake in the gluten-free listing.  I actually CALLED them to verify that ALL of the flavors were gluten-free.  I spoke to a woman, who for the life of me I can’t remember her name, but she was super nice and very patient with me.  I am sure she thought I was a nut because I asked her repeatedly about gluten in different flavors and she assured me that everything they make is gluten-free.   Check out some of these flavors – Garlic, Nacho Cheddar, Three Chili White Cheddar, Jalapeño Cheddar, White Cheddar, BBQ, Ranch, Cinnamon Krunch, S’mores, Moose Krunch (chocolate, caramel and butter) Yesss!!  Seasonal flavors (not in season now but I will have to keep an eye out for them):  White Chocolate Raspberry  and White Chocolate Irish Cream – ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!  Hecky yeah!!

If you’ve been gluten-free for any length of time, you know how hard it is to find FLAVORED snacks that are not laced with gluten.  This is a great find for us!

Here are a couple more awesome facts that I REALLY appreciate about this product:  This corn is NON GMO!  There is NO MSG!  There are several no sugar added flavors so this is a great snack of diabetics too.  

Go check out this site right now and get yourself some and enjoy a snack with me!!

Live and LOVE gluten-free!

My disclaimer in case you are wondering:  I do not receive any money from the manufacturers for my product reviews.  Some of these products I’ve received a sample direct from them to try them out and give my opinion. Others I’ve purchased myself in local stores to satisfy my curiosity in finding good and tasty gluten-free foods.  I will try to remain neutral, informative and will always be truthful, although you may notice I tend to get a little carried away when I really like something…….. 😀

Posted in Gluten Free Recipes, Snacks

Coconut Flour POWER COOKIES!

These cookies are NO SUGAR ADDED, GLUTEN FREE, DAIRY FREE, & packed with POWER, duh!

Wet Ingredients:
2 Whole Eggs
2 Egg Whites
2 TB Melted Coconut Oil
1 medium sized mashed banana
2 tsp of Vanilla Extract
Liquid Stevia   (optional: but I used about 10 drops)

Dry Ingredients:
1/2 cup coconut flour
1/4 cup ground Flax
1/4 cup Protein Powder of choice (I used sunwarrior)
2 tsp Baking Soda
Sprinkle of Cinnamon

Optional Add-ins: Dark Chocolate Chips, Raisins,
Dried fruit, coconut, etc…

Easy Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Mix wet ingredients together

Add in Dry Ingredients

Mix in your optional add-ins

Form into cookie shapes onto a parchment lined cookie sheet

Bake @ 350 Degrees for about 13-15 minutes

Let cool, if you’re patient enough & ENJOY!

I found this awesome recipe at:  http://powercakes.net/   which is a blog from Kasey Arena who among other things happens to be gluten free.  Thank you Kasey!