Archive for category Hold the Gluten Blog

Hello Summer! Gluten Free Snow Cones

gluten free snow cones

 

It was totally because of the needs (whining) of my children that I bought these Back To Basics Syrup for snow cones, slushies, and ice pops.  Ok, I admit it, I also was feeling a bit nostalgic for my Snoopy Snow Cone Machine.  Snow cones are an awesome way to celebrate Summer.  What’s more exciting than grinding up ice, pouring some sugar-filled liquid on it, and eating it?  Can I get a “yum”?   However, as I was making snow cones yesterday for the kids, my daughter shouted out, “Hey Mom, these are gluten free!”  There it was, printed on the back of the bottle “CONTAINS NO GLUTEN“.  Whenever I see a gluten free label on anything (heck, it could be my living room couch) I get excited!  So I had to share my tasty summer treat with my fellow gluten free peeps.

Enjoy!

 


gluten free snow cones

 

gluten free snow cones

 

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Enjoy Life Gluten Free Product Review

Strawberries and gluten free granola

It was a no brainer when Enjoy Life contacted me to taste test their double chocolate crunch gluten free granola as well as their  semi-sweet mega chunks.  I personally consider chocolate one of the major food groups, so I was excited to sample their new products!

Double Chocolate Crunch Granola Review
Pros:

  • Gluten, nut, and casein free, vegan, kosher pareve
  • There are only 3.5 grams of fat in 1/2 cup of granola!  Many granolas are high in fat content.
  • Very crunchy and tasty.  Perfect topping on greek yogurt and berries.

Cons:

  • Do your pricing research!  In doing a search on-line for Enjoy Life Granola, I found that the price point varied greatly by retailer.

Semi-Sweet Chocolate Mega Chunks Review
Pros:

  • Gluten, soy, nut and casein free, vegan, kosher pareve
  • Delicious, HUGE chocolate chunks!  They aren’t kidding around with the “mega” title.
  • Would be wonderful to add to cookies or brownies.  Sadly I did not bake anything as I ate the entire package over the course of two days handful by handful.

Cons:

  • Pricing.  Sadly pricing online was very high due to shipping costs.  A 10 ounce bag cost as much as $10.00 online after shipping charges.  Unless you can locate these in your local grocery store, these mega chunks would be very expensive.

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It’s Easy Being Green!

There are many ways we can each make a difference in taking care of Mother Earth.  One of which is buying naturally gluten-free fruits and veggies as close to your home as possible.  Shopping for gluten-free produce is easy!

gluten free

Join a CSA.  CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture.  In a CSA, people in the community pay a local farmer a set fee for a “share” of their crops during the growing season.  Typically from June until October, members pick up their weekly allotment of freshly picked fruit and vegetables.

Visit your local farm stand or farmer’s market.  I love stopping by the farm stand and picking up ingredients for that evening’s dinner.  During one “veggie run”, I asked the farm stand owner for lettuce.  Much to my amazement, he promptly dug up two heads of lettuce from his crops.  You can’t get any fresher than that!

Grow your own garden.  Whether you try your hand at container gardening or have a patch of land you can cultivate, growing your own can be a fun and satisfying activity!  Crops such as zucchini, cucumbers, tomatoes, lettuce, strawberries, and peppers are a great starting point for beginner gardeners.

What to do with all of this fabulous local gluten-free produce?  Here are a few seasonal recipes to enjoy!

Tomato, Watermelon and Mint Salad

3 cups cherry tomatoes, halved (I like to use a combination of red and yellow tomatoes)
4 cups of watermelon balls
½ cup chopped fresh mint
4 teaspoons lime juice
Dash of salt

Combine all ingredients and toss gently.

Homemade Basil Pesto

3 packed cups of fresh basil leaves
2 cloves of peeled garlic
1/3 cup of grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese
2 tablespoons of lightly toasted pine nuts (toast in a small pan over low heat till golden brown in color)
2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
1 teaspoon of black pepper
2 tablespoons of water

In a food processor, puree all the ingredients listed above until combined. Taste and make adjustments as needed (I sometimes add a bit more basil or cheese).

Chocolate Chip Zucchini Bread

3 eggs
1/2 cup canola oil
1/4 cup agave nectar
1 cup sugar (I used demerara raw cane sugar)
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 cups grated zucchini
1 cup brown rice flour
3/4 cup millet flour
1/4 cup sorghum flour
1/4 cup potato starch
2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup mini chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large mixing bowl, combine eggs, canola oil, agave nectar, sugar, and vanilla extract. Shred zucchini and place in a clean dishtowel. Use the dishtowel to wring out excess water (this will help prevent your bread from becoming too mushy). Stir in shredded zucchini into mixing bowl. Using a sifter, sift brown rice, millet, sorghum, and potato starch flours as well as baking soda, baking powder, xanthan gum, and salt. Add into mixing bowl. Stir until combined and then fold in mini-chocolate chips.

Divide batter into four mini-loaf pans. Bake 25 – 30 minutes (until tester inserted in the center comes out clean).

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Gluten Free in Ocean City New Jersey

 

Pizza.  Fried Oreos.  Funnel Cake.  Fried Shrimp.  More Pizza.  More Fried Stuff.


I used to love eating my way down the boardwalk at the shore!  The (gluten filled) possibilities were endless!  Since going gluten free, I had a much harder time finding safe and gluten free foods on the boardwalk.  I would frustratedly munch on nuts or a protein bar (yippee) while my hubby and kids ate all things off limits.  Hmpf.

Not anymore!  Last Summer, Pure Tacos opened on the boardwalk in Ocean City, NJ.  Located between 11th and 12th street on the boardwalk, Pure Tacos is 100% Gluten Free!  Yes, you read that correctly — each and every menu item is safe for us to eat!  The first time I visited Pure Tacos, I wanted to hug the cashier and ask them to Thanksgiving Dinner.  Pure Tacos offers several variations of tacos, nachos and fresh salads.

My family visited OCNJ last weekend for Mother’s Day and I was thrilled to see Pure Tacos open.  If you are down the Jersey Shore and are looking for quality gluten free food, stop by Pure Tacos.

 

 

Disclaimer:  Fist pumps are strongly discouraged.

pure tacos gluten free hold the gluten

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Behind the Scenes at General Mills

gluten free general mills

I recently had the holy crap are you for real?! exciting opportunity to visit the General Mills facility in Minneapolis.  Along with eleven other passionate gluten free bloggers, I participated in a General Mills Gluten Free Summit.  Also in attendance was the dynamic Danna Korn, author of six gluten free books and founder of GlutenFreedom and Carol McCarthy Shilson, Executive Director of The University of Chicago Celiac Disease Center.  This was an amazing opportunity to let our voices be heard!  I arrived in Minneapolis ready to shout my gluten free opinions from the top of the Pillsbury Dough Boy (yes, there actually is a statue of that rotund youngster inside General Mills).  Here is what I took away from this monumental gathering:

General Mills genuinely wants to listen to the gluten free community and is eager to learn more.  Major win for us!  I felt very empowered to have my voice be heard at the Gluten Free Summit.  Feedback (good and bad) was highly encouraged.   Put eleven opinionated bloggers in a conference room and we certainly delivered.   Take a moment and think back to when you were first diagnosed with Celiac Disease or gluten intolerance, there was so much to learn.  General Mills is taking on the very same task and moving forward in learning all there is to know about life gluten free.  What’s even more impressive is they are looking to the gluten free community to help teach them.  As one of the first major corporations to step up to the plate in the gluten free realm, I give them huge kudos.  What really struck me is that the CEO of General Mills has a gluten free family member.  This is huge.  It hit home for me because I felt as though the CEO could actually understand, sympathize, and identify with our gluten free lifestyle.  So what’s the big news, you ask?  General Mills is definitely listening to us and there will be more amazing things to come.  Stay tuned in the coming months as I will have more information to share and will keep you posted on the strides General Mills is making in our gluten free community.

Now on to the food!  Normally I am in hyper stress mode about where to eat when traveling.  Can you even imagine if members of the Gluten Free Summit were glutened on their trip?  It’s sort of amusing to think about.  Okay, maybe notsomuch.  However, much to my relief, we ate like gluten free kings and queens!    From the mouthwatering dinner at Biaggi’s that included gluten free bread, pizza, pasta and (to die for) flourless chocolate cake to the wonderful breakfast baked goods from French Meadow Bakery, my belly was full of fabulous (and safe) gluten free foods.  One food glitch did happen in the Betty Crocker Test Kitchen.  The eleven gluten free bloggers had a friendly “bake off” in the General Mills Test Kitchen.  I’ve never seen so many ovens in my life!  Unfortunately, we could not eat any of our gluten free creations due to the fact that the Test Kitchen uses wooden spatulas and rolling pins.  As you know, wood absorbs the evil gluten and no matter how much you wash it, the particles remain.  So we decided to forgo the baked goods in fear of being glutened.  That was a big bummer as I’m all about the baked goods, but the thought of being sick while on a two hour flight kept me away from the Snickerdoodles.  On a positive note, this was one of the many important lessons learned by General Mills while we were at their facility.

I’d like to give a shout out to my fellow Gluten Free Summit attendees’ sites.  Stop by for more fabulous information on everything gluten free:  A Few Shortcuts, Lynn’s Kitchen Adventures, Hey That Tastes Good, Gluten Free Easily, Gluten Free Homemaker, The Savvy Celiac, Wheat Free Meat Free, Gluten Free Taste of Home, and Celiac Princess.

In case you were wondering, I sadly did not get to visit the Mall of America or the infamous Spam Museum, but I hope to return to Minneapolis again someday and check out these noteworthy sites!

Group photo courtesy of Jill Elise of Hey That Tastes Good.

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Let Your Gluten Free Voice Be Heard!

As many of you know, in addition to my Hold The Gluten site, I’ve been blogging for General Mills Live Gluten Freely.  I am a huge fan of General Mills and the strides they have taken to offer gluten free products “mainstream”.  In a few weeks, I have the amazing opportunity to travel to the General Mills location and get a gluten-free glimpse of the Betty Crocker Portrait Kitchen (O.M.G!!!).

Here’s where YOU come in!!  Alone, I am one gluten-free voice, but together we can make a difference in our gluten-free community.

If you could ask the Gluten Free Team at General Mills anything at all (or put in a gluten free food product request), what would it be?

This is your chance to be heard!  Share your honest opinion, feedback, questions and/or comments.  I will share your thoughts with the General Mills Team next month.  As my thank you, you’ll automatically be entered to win a fantabulous box of Gluten Free Bisquick!  Comment deadline is November 2, 2010.

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I’m thankful for Pumpkin Cheesecake!

Thankful for cheesecake?! Ok, I know that sounds ridiculously trite. Sure, I’m thankful for a copious amount of people/places/things more significant than cheesecake.  However, I do get a little “lunatic” when it comes to cheesecake.  So I truly am thankful to discover that I can bake my own never-ending supply of cheesecakey goodness!

Lunacy Exhibit A: I never, ever slice cheesecake!  Cheesecake is eaten directly from the plate it was plopped on with just a fork and a smile.

Lunacy Exhibit B: I eat in this barbaric fashion whilst hidden in my pantry to avoid sharing my delicious cheesecake.

Lunacy Exhibit C: I wholeheartedly consider cheesecake an acceptable breakfast meal.

Lunacy Exhibit D: I have threatened to inflict bodily harm or the dreaded stink eye on anyone who even contemplates eating my cheesecake.

Let’s keep this Gluten Free Thanksgiving menu going with yet another pumpkin-themed dessert!

Pumpkin Cheesecake with Sour Cream Topping

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Be sure to have cream cheese & eggs at room temperature.

Gluten Free Crust:

1/2 cup pecans
18 Health Valley Rice Bran crackers
8 Mi-Del GF Ginger Snap cookies
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons white sugar
1/4 cup butter (melted)

In a food processor grind pecans, cookies, & rice crackers until crushed & crumbly in texture (resembling ground almond meal). Add brown & white sugar and butter. Mix thoroughly. Press crumbs against the bottom of a 9 inch springform pan.

Cheesecake Filling:

3/4 cup canned pumpkin
1 1/8 cup white sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground mace
1 whole egg
4 egg yolks
3 (8-ounce) packages of cream cheese
2 tablespoons whipping cream
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon orange extract
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Combine pumpkin, 3/4 cup of white sugar, cinnamon, salt, ginger, mace, and 3 egg yolks. Whisk until thoroughly combined. Set pumpkin mixture aside.

Using a mixer, beat cream cheese until fluffy. Slowly incorporate 3/8 cup (=1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp) of white sugar, 1 whole egg, 1 egg yolk, whipping cream, cornstarch, orange and vanilla extract. Mix well. Add pumpkin mixture and combine thoroughly. Add batter to springform pan. Bake in center of oven for 50 to 55 minutes at 350 degrees. I placed a pan filled with water on the rack beneath the cheesecake to eliminate cracking and maintain moistness. Remove cheesecake from oven and cool for at least 1/2 hour.

Sour Cream Topping:

2 cups of sour cream (I used reduced fat)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoons white sugar

Combine sour cream, vanilla extract, and white sugar. After cooling cheesecake (still in springform pan) for at least 1/2 hour, pour sour cream topping over cake and return to a 325 degree oven for 10 minutes.

Cool cheesecake for at least an hour before removing from pan. Refrigerate prior to serving.

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There’s A Vegetable In My Bread

I’ve mentioned before that I am a vegetarian. Swore off meat, fish, and chicken at the rebellious age of 18. Well, except for bacon. Just couldn’t give up the bacony goodness. So, in reality, I am a bacon eating (fraud) vegetarian. Being a vegetarian, one would think that I love, ahem, vegetables. Truth be told, I am not a huge fan. I do have my favorites, but I’m not screaming from the rooftops, “I can’t survive without Dinosaur Kale!”

That being noted, I wholeheartedly enjoy any vegetable that can (safely) be combined with chocolate. After a few noxious attempts (do NOT try chocolate covered asparagus!), I have found a lovely and prolific vegetable to marry with my need for sweets.

Chocolate Chip Zucchini Bread

3 eggs
1/2 cup canola oil
1/4 cup agave nectar
1 cup sugar (I used demerara raw cane sugar)
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 cups grated zucchini
1 cup brown rice flour
3/4 cup millet flour
1/4 cup sorghum flour
1/4 cup potato starch
2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup mini chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large mixing bowl, combine eggs, canola oil, agave nectar, sugar, and vanilla extract. Shred zucchini and place in a clean dishtowel. Use the dishtowel to wring out excess water (this will help prevent your bread from becoming too mushy). Stir in shredded zucchini into mixing bowl. Using a sifter, sift brown rice, millet, sorghum, and potato starch flours as well as baking soda, baking powder, xanthan gum, and salt. Add into mixing bowl. Stir until combined and then fold in mini-chocolate chips.

Divide batter into four mini-loaf pans. Bake 25 – 30 minutes (until tester inserted in the center comes out clean).

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Tag! Five Fav Kitchen Tools

I used to love the game of tag as a kid.  Freeze Tag, Cartoon Tag, Flashlight Tag; you name it and we probably played it!  The lovely Rachel (creator of the very delish Blueberry Pizza recipe) at The Crispy Cook tagged little ol’ me for a fun meme on my Five Favorite Kitchen Tools. I am not only a celiac but kitchen-aphobic (ok, not really a word), so my five favs are a bit of a long stretch. Tiffany at Make Mine Gluten Free had two hysterical favs – a fork and her microwave… My kind of cook!

What is a meme, you ask?  So did I (I thought Rachel was calling me a dirty word), but found that a meme is basically series of questions that a blogger answers to share some personal perspective or experience on random topics.

FYI, Rachel’s kitchen favs are her aloe plant, measuring glass, swivel peeler, orange frying pan, and wooden spoon.

Maureen’s Five Favorite Kitchen Tools

Fav #1:  My Avocado Pitter/Slicer.  Yes, a knife and spoon do work just as well, but I LOVE this tool!  I consume a lot of avocados, so my pitter/slicer comes in very handy.

Fav #2:  My Cuisinart Waffle Maker.  Oooh, this contraption rocks!  I use it to make my yummy Pumpkin Waffles.

Fav #3:  My collection of Depression Glass Reamers.  Ok, I admit this is not a tool that I actually use, but someone juiced something on these reamers.  Probably back in 1910, but it counts!

Fav #4:  My Peppercorn Cracker Thing.  Don’t you just love going to a restaurant where the waiter comes to your table and asks you (in a snooty voice), “Fresh ground pepper?”.  I rarely ever use salt, but pepper pretty much goes on everything.

Fav #5:  Clorox Wipes.  I have a sick, twisted perchance for cleaning.  Cleaning is my therapy.  When the going gets tough, I enjoy a good Clorox wiping of anything that is not nailed down.  Enough said :)

To keep this lovely meme a-goin’, I am tagging Gluten Free Gwen, Ellen at I Am Gluten Free, and Gluten Free Steve.

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Peanut Butter & Honey “Truffles”

Have I mentioned that I LOVE peanut butter?!  From kindergarten through the twelfth grade I ate a peanut butter sandwich every single day at school (over 2,000 PB sandwiches consumed!). Recently, I discovered an amazing site which pays homage to one of my favorite delicacies.  I truly think the Peanut Butter Boy is my long lost brother (hey, in my family, you never know what other siblings are out there!).

Ahem, moving on…

So, Peanut Butter Boy is hosting “The Great Peanut Butter Exhibition #4 – No Bake”. Oh yeah! No baking AND peanut butter – I am totally feeling this challenge. I immediately thought of a recipe my mom and I used to make when I was little. It’s no-bake, kid-friendly, and is a healthy treat. The original recipe called for wheat germ, however, I’ve substituted flax seed since “wheat is dead to me”. I must also note that I used to call these concoctions Peanut Butter Balls, but I decided to rename the recipe as it just didn’t sound very, uh, nice.

Peanut Butter & Honey Truffles

1 cup DRY milk (I used non-fat)
1/2 cup peanut butter (Crazy Richards Chunky)
1/3 cup honey (local)
1/4 cup ground flax seed (Bob’s Red Mill)

Mix all ingredients together. Form into small balls. Roll balls in coconut, cinnamon & sugar, or cocoa mix.  Refrigerate for 15 minutes and enjoy!

I humbly submit this recipe to my long lost brother’s Peanut Butter Exhibition #4 :)

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