Monday, January 6, 2014

January Product of the Month

After cooking for what feels like two months straight, I've been looking for some easy yet healthier meals for me and my hubby. On nights when we have both had busy days, I am grateful for Perdue's new gluten-free chicken tenders. They are easy to make, taste great, and don't have any ingredients I have allergies too!

The directions call for cooking them for 10 min but my husband likes them crispier so I flip them after ten minutes in the oven and put them on for ten minutes more. I guess it just depends on your preference. I get them at our local Harris Teeter in Charleston but have also found them at Publix in the Atlanta area.

Alternatively, Tyson has a gluten-free chicken tender as well. However, the Tyson version has soy oil in them so I am unable to eat them. I have also heard through people on my Facebook page that the Tyson ones don't taste as good either so that makes me feel like I'm not missing out. :)

I add a side of two vegetables and/or brown rice for a quick dinner that my husband and I both love. I have also paired these with my Vegan Mac & Cheese which I know can helps appease a picky crowd!

Friday, January 3, 2014

January Recipe of the Month


I promise I didn't intentionally pick a recipe that appears complicated to start of the year. However, this Vegan mac n' cheese, made with a cashew cream sauce, is worth any trouble you may think it may cause. I promise, as long as you have the ingredients and a good food processor, its actually pretty easy! Since I am dairy-free along with being gluten-free, vegan recipes are something I have enjoyed learning how to work with. My older sister [who eats only 5 different foods (actually foods not food groups) like chips, hot dogs, ketchup, bread and ham] loved this recipe so much she requested it for her birthday. My younger sister had no idea there was no actually cheese in it until I told her it was vegan. Then she was really confused that didn't stop her from eating a second helping.

The original recipe that inspired me from Vegangela.com called for miso paste (which is a soy derivative) but I am allergic to soy so I omitted it and I don't think it really affected the recipe at all. It also called for truffle oil but since I forgot to buy it (and my sisters would probably hate the flavor anyway) I omitted it as well. So here is my humble version:

Vegan Mac & Cheese

Ingredients:


  • package gluten-free macaroni noodles, cooked (I use Tinkyada)
  • ¾ cup raw cashews
  • 1 + ¾ cups almond milk
  • ¼ cup canola oil
  • 1.5 tbsp cornstarch
  • ¼ cup nutritional yeast
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • ½ tsp salt

Directions:

1) Place cashews in the food processor and finely grind (just don’t let the cashews turn to a paste). Set aside. **I recommend raw chases because the will grind better. If they are roasted already with an oil the sauce may turn out to be a bit grittier**
I then add the nutritional yeast, onion powder, garlic powder and salt in the processor and pulse another time or two until well combined.

2) In a heavy saucepan, combine milk and oil. Bring to a simmer over high heat and then add the cornstarch slowly while stirring. (The original recipe added the cornstarch before heating and it clumped on me the first time so I added it after heating the second time and it thickened perfectly.) After the mix simmers, decrease heat to low heat, cover and let simmer, stirring occasionally for 10 minutes, or until cornstarch dissolves.

3) Once the cornstarch and milk/oil mixture is heated, add to the food processor (the Ninja has a little opening so you can blend and add at the same time) and pulse or blend to combine well. This is when I add the lemon juice.
Alternately, you can add the dry cashew mix to the saucepan with the wet mix and whisk well. Just don"t forger to add the lemon juice.

4) Once the sauce is combined and smooth add the cashew cheese to the macaroni noodles, and serve.

I added the Perdue gluten-free chicken tenders (which are my product of the month for January) for my sister's birthday meal (because she loves childhood meals like this). I also added a side of steamed broccoli so I could feel a little healthy about it. Neither of my sisters ate any broccoli but my mom and husband appreciated it. Hope you enjoy yours!

Monday, December 30, 2013

Save the dates for more Gluten and Allergen Free Wellness Events in 2014!

Its never to early to start planning on attending these fun and education events for next year. There is guaranteed to be one near you!

**For updates, follow them on twitter @GFAFWellness


Admission to the events includes:
  • Product sampling and sales from more than 50 companies
  • Free lectures from well known members of the gluten-free community about gluten and allergy free living 
  • Free cooking demonstrations that invite you to explore the world of gluten-free cooking one delicious bite at a time
  • A free gift bag to tote around samples and purchases


SAVE THE DATE 2014

Austin, TX - February 2

Charlotte NC - March 29

Nashville TN - April 26


Little Rock, AR - June 21

Raleigh/Durham NC - August 9 

Virginia Beach, VA - September 13

Hartford CT - October 4

Jacksonville, FL - November 1



Monday, December 9, 2013

A healthier brown sugar - it is possible!

Life without gluten is hard enough but so many times we add a lot of sugar to our gluten-free foods to make up for the taste. However, having too much sugar in your diet can cause a lot of inflammation in your body. Refined sugar is a highly inflammatory food and can really upset the balance your system tries to maintain. Inflammation in your food does not just affect your gut. If you've read some of my other posts - it affects other organs like your heart.
However, I have a sweet tooth and its demands must be met. So here is a little trick I want to share with you if you have a recipe that calls for brown sugar and you want to cut the calories and inflammatory factor WAY back.

Molasses + powdered Stevia + a little mixing = brown sugar!!

It's about a 1 tablespoon to 1 cup addition. If you have 1 cup of stevia then add 1 tablespoon of molasses. A little more than a tablespoon won't hurt but I started with a tablespoon and kept mixing until I got the brown sugar consistency that I liked. Sometimes powdered stevia can be very dry depending on the brand you are using. So, half a cup of stevia + 1/2 tablespoon of molasses will give you a half a cup of brown sugar and so on. 

I've used it in my sweet potato casserole, pecan pie and my berry crisp and not even my picky little sister could detect it! Try it and let me know what you think!

**Side note: This must be used fairly quickly. It doesn't do well if left out or made ahead of time. I always use it in the recipe I am making right away.  

Saturday, November 2, 2013

November Product of the Month

When I found out that Pillsbury was coming out with their own #glutenfree line I was a little skeptical yet, I was also secretly really excited at the same time. It could mean some excellent new products for those of use with Celiac Disease or gluten intolerances. Pillsbury products were a favorite of mine when i ate gluten and even though I don't usually like to use too many processed products in my diet, its that time of year when pies, pastries, and all sorts of yummy warm food reigns. So, I felt it was my duty to at least buy and try the products once and let the community know what I thought.
I was excited to find their dough at the small Publix near my mom's house. If they were there, it means they are getting around. That store doesn't normally have the largest selection and before I post about something in the store I like to make sure others can find it. They had the cookie dough as well but that is for another post. At the Publix, these were nearly $5 but I did manage to find them at the Commissary on base in Charleston for less than $3. Also, a lot of people on my Facebook page told me that you could find them at some dollar stores on the eat coast (which is AWESOME!).

I used the pastry dough for my pecan pie and it turned out fabulous. My husband and father could barely tell the difference between a store bought Pillsbury pie pastry and this one. I will have to tell you though that the pastry dough is not soy-free. The first ingredient is Soybean oil and soy is one of the foods I react the quickest too. It gives me really bad stomach cramps (and other issues I won't detail) so I only worked with it with my hands and trusted my fussy (non-gluten free) dad and supportive husband to let me know their thoughts. They approved. So, for a quick gluten-free pastry dough during this busy season, try picking some up and feel free to let me know what your thoughts and experiences are! Happy Baking!

Friday, November 1, 2013

November Recipe of the Month

During the fall season, my husband loves pecan pie and sweet potato pie. While I have managed to conquer sweet potato pie, Pecan pie has always been a struggle for me. I have never been able to perfect the recipe. It usually burns on the top or ends up runny in the middle. Or I burn the crust or it tastes bad. I've made half a dozen and still never made the ideal pecan pie. Even when I started using the pre-made pillsbury pie dough that just rolls out I still had the first two issues I mentioned. My neighbor Margot always seems to have the best baked goods and I usually end up inviting her over to our parties and requesting her pecan pie because my husband loves it so much. She knows it too so don't think you can blackmail me with telling her!
However, since we moved recently, I was determined to not fail at this domestic challenge anymore. When I bought the new gluten-free Pillsbury pastry dough and looked at their website for a recipe to play with the new product, I stumbled across their pecan pie recipe. I decided to take a deep breath and accept the challenge. So while this recipe isn't my own and doesn't have any of my typical flair, it does work like a charm. Every. single. time!

Pillsbury Gluten-free Pecan Pie

Ingredients:

Crust
  • 1/2 container Pillsbury® Gluten Free refrigerated pie and pastry dough

Filling
  • 2/3 cup sugar (I have used Stevia successfully)
  • 1/3 cup butter, melted (I use Earth Balance Soy-free)
  • cup corn syrup (I used light Karo)
  • eggs
  • cup pecan halves or broken pecans (sometimes I add an extra 1/3 of a cup because I like pecans)

Directions:

1) Heat oven to 375°F. Knead dough until softened and no longer crumbly. Flatten into a round; place between 2 sheets of cooking parchment or waxed paper. Roll into a round 1 1/2 inches larger than top of 9-inch pie plate.

2) Carefully peel off top sheet of paper. Replace paper to cover loosely; carefully turn dough over, and remove second sheet of paper. Use paper to carefully turn dough over into ungreased pie plate; remove paper. Press dough firmly against bottom and up side of plate. Flatten edge with fork or crimp for decorative edge.

3) In medium bowl, beat sugar, melted butter, corn syrup and eggs with whisk or hand beater until well blended. Stir in pecans. Pour into crust-lined pie plate. **Their recipe says to cover the edges of the crust with strips of foil but I cover the entire top with foil.

4) Bake 40 to 50 minutes or until center is set, removing foil for last 15 minutes of bake time (I use a pie shell edge cover for this part as well because I fear burnt edges). 

5) Cool 30 minutes. Refrigerate at least 2 hours or until chilled. (Do NOT skip the refrigeration step!)

Serve with whipped cream. Cover and refrigerate any remaining pie.

Monday, October 7, 2013

October Recipe of the Month

October ushers in my husband's favorite time of year. He loves loves autumn and all that comes along with it. He likes the colors of the leaves changing, he likes the temperature trending lower, and one of his two favorite holidays happens this month. Since we have been married, I think his next favorite part of fall is the food that accompanies it. As soon as the pumpkins and other gourds start appearing at the grocery store, he starts bringing them home and asking me to make certain foods.

One that he never seems to be able to get enough is Sweet Potato Casserole. My mom makes it every year for our Thanksgiving feast but once my husband got a taste of it, it became a regular dish in the fall. (The way she makes it is actually more like a pie but since we don't use a crust we call it a casserole.)

I've managed to clean it up a bit and make it a little healthier but for those of you who are purists (like my husband), I'll give you both options for it.

MOM'S SWEET POTATO CASSEROLE


Ingredients:
  •   2 eggs
  •   1 cup granulated sugar (can substitute with Stevia)
  •   1/4 cup butter, softened (I use Earth Balance)
  •   1 teaspoon vanilla
  •   1 teaspoon cinnamon
  •   ½ teaspoon nutmeg
  •   3 cups cooked mashed 
  • sweet potatoes
    Topping:
  •   1/2 cup brown sugar (brown sugar from stevia recipe here)
  •   1/3 cup gluten-free flour of choice (for a healthier kick, I use a 50/50 mix of blanched almond flour and ground flax)
  •   2 tablespoons butter, at room temp (Earth Balance again)
  •   3/4 cup chopped pecans (sometimes I add more)




  Topping:
1) Bake sweet potatoes in oven at 400 degrees F for about an hour (depending on the thickness). I usually line a pan with foil, poke holes in the sweet potatoes with a fork and then set them for an hour. When the sweet potatoes start to ooze from the holes then I know they are done. 
2) Allow sweet potatoes to cool to touch before peeling. You can turn the oven off during this time. 
**This step can be done ahead and the sweet potatoes can be refrigerated for later use. 

3) Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and grease a 2 quart casserole dish or two 8x8 square pans. 
4) In a large bowl, beat eggs, granulated sugar, 3/4 cup butter, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg and the mashed sweet potatoes with an electric mixer 
5) Spoon mix into dish(es) for baking and spread out evenly 
6) Combine brown sugar, flour, 2 tablespoons softened butter, and pecans, mixing until crumbly 
7) Sprinkle topping ovesweet potatoes
8) Bake at 350° for 45 minutes