Sunday, November 14, 2010

Udi's Blueberry Muffins

I seem to be posting a lot of breakfast things lately and there are a few more coming, so bear with me!

I also seem to be on an Udi's kick, but I just found the stuff so it's all new and exciting.

My latest product test has been the Udi's Blueberry Muffins. I'm a big fan of blueberry muffins, and Udi's doesn't disappoint.

In my opinion there is a distinct difference between cupcakes and muffins. To me muffins are not just unfrosted cupcakes, and cupcakes are not frosted muffins. The two are not interchangeable. I am sometimes a fan of sweet things for breakfast, but normally I want something that is at least somewhat healthy. Especially if I'm feeding it to my kids.

These muffins walk that line very nicely. They are tasty but not too cake-like. They do have the sugar sprinkles on top, but they aren't to sweet. They have the right balance of chewy muffin-ness and bittersweet blueberry-ness.

In the name of scientific discovery I decided to try warming half a muffin in the microwave for 30 seconds to see what it would be like to have it slathered in melted butter. The result looked promising...

...but turned out to be a bad idea. I think maybe 30 seconds was too long because the muffin came out waaaaay too hot and turned into a shriveled chewy mess as soon as I tried to take a bite. It still tasted pretty good, but the texture was really off. I don't think I'll be trying that again.

I haven't just been eating these for breakfast. They've also been a great after school snack for my daughter. They're sweet enough that she feels like she's getting a treat, but healthy enough that I don't feel like a bad mom for giving them to her. Given the choice, she actually chose half a muffin over some of her Halloween candy!

I give these muffins high marks. It's about $6 for a four pack, which I didn't think was too bad. They keep pretty well in the fridge, and I will be getting these again.

Again, if you go to Udi' you can get a $1 off coupon.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Easy Stir Fry

People with Celiac Disease need to get used to eating a lot of rice. It's a great little grain with lots of nutrition (especially the brown stuff) that goes with just about anything. If you've been recently diagnosed with Celiac Disease you should go out and buy a rice cooker. It will make your life easier. Then you can buy rice in massive bulk and save lots of money.

The problem is that it's easy to get sick of rice.

This recipe is my version of stir fry. I got part of it from a dish my mom used to make when I was a kid, part from my best friend who taught me a little about Chinese cooking, and a little of my own improvisation.

It's really easy to make and very fast.

Easy American Stir Fry

2 tbsp. Vegetable Oil (any kind)

Two bags of frozen vegetables of your choice. (We usually get a bag of the California Mix and a bag of Sugar Snap Peas)

Two Packages of Polish Sausage (That's the horseshoe shaped sausage in the case by the hotdogs. Also known as Polish Kielbasa or Summer Sausage.)

6 cups of cooked rice (That's 3 cups uncooked, don't get it confused. I speak from experience!)

Start the rice cooking in the rice cooker (or the microwave.) Pour the oil and dump the vegetables in a large pot over medium heat. Slice the sausage into 1/4 inch disks, stirring the vegetables every few minutes. Dump the sliced sausage in with the veggies. Stir everything every couple of minutes until it's all warmed through, but don't let it overcook or the veggies will get too soft. You want them to be a little firm, not mushy. Mix in the cooked rice and serve it up.

This feeds our family of five with enough left over for at least two grown-up sized lunches for the next day.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Udi's Plain Bagels

My daughter actually found these bagels at our local supermarket. They're called Udi's Plain Bagels and they were hiding in the bakery department! They were in the display fridge with the decorated cakes. My husband was in the bakery getting a treat for himself and my daughter happened to see them.

Not only are they gluten free, but they're also dairy, soy, and nut free. That's great for us since we've also taken my daughter off of milk products. They cost a little over $5 for four bagles, but if you go to their website you can print out a $1 off coupon.

The bagels were kind of dark on the outside, they looked more like whole wheat bagels than plain.

One of the great things about Udi's bagels is that they are already split. Once I got the bagel opened up I could see the lovely doughy white inside.

And since a bagel is always better with a little schmear, of course I had to slather on some whipped cream cheese!

These bagels are awesome. The texture is great. Gluten free foods tend to have a crumbly texture, but somehow those amazing people over at Udi's managed to make these bagels chewy and delicious. I am a huge fan of bagels and they are one of the things I miss most from my old gluten diet. These bagels are just as good as any of the "regular" bagels on the store shelf, and much better than some!

Oh, and I also tried these toasted. The results were just as great. Even when they were cooked they still kept that great bagel chewiness. I think these bagels would be great substituted for "regular" bagels in any situation. I'm going to try using one for a nice big turkey sandwich.

Udi's Plain Bagels get high marks for great texture and taste, bonus points go for being already sliced. I really recommend these and I'm excited to try their other products! Head over to and get yourself a coupon.

Hodgson Mill Gluten Free Cookie Mix

I found Hodgson Mill Gluten Free Cookie Mix in the baking aisle of my local supermarket. It's a regular drop cookie mix kind of like a sugar cookie. Under the instructions there were alternate recipes to turn the cookies into chocolate chip, peanut butter, chocolate, pecan, or almond cookies. The mix was also less than $3, so I was pretty happy to find a gluten free alternative that didn't break the bank.

I was especially excited because I love almond cookies. When I was little my mom would make sugar cookies and instead of using vanilla extract she'd add almond extract, so almond is one of those things that takes me to a happy place.

This past weekend my husband made me the cookies as a treat for my birthday. The recipe was easy to follow and I was so excited that I had to sneak a taste of the dough. (I know, I know, don't eat dough with raw egg. I couldn't wait, I was too excited!) It was awful. The dough tasted like it had dust in it. I actually checked the box to see if the mix was past it's expiration date. No, it doesn't expire until November 2011. I thought it was one of those doughs that taste funny until you bake it. With that in mind my husband continued making the cookies.

They came out of the oven looking amazing. As you can see from the picture, they rose beautifully and came out golden brown. Too bad they tasted like chalk. I'm not kidding, they were terrible. If they had been wafers instead of cookies I'd swear we found the recipe for unflavored TUMS.

They were so bad that my two year old boy wouldn't even eat them, and he's eaten bugs.

I really can't recommend this mix. It gets high points for being inexpensive and easy to use, but the resulting cookies are just too gross to eat. Please, don't buy this mix.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Gluten Free Bisquick Pancakes

I recently had to kill some time at a grocery store in a neighboring town, so I thought I'd look around and see if they had any gluten free products that I haven't tried.

I hit the JACKPOT!!!


I have been dying for some real pancakes. In the past the only kind I could find were kind of nutty tasting (nutty like actual nuts, not nutty like crazy) and were very dense. I love pancakes and have seriously missed that morning classic.

I no longer have to miss out! I can have a normal, artery clogging lumberjack breakfast complete with flapjacks!

I don't have a picture of the finished pancakes. They were too tempting all warm and fresh, and there were none left by the time we were all done eating. All you have to do is look at the front of the box. My pancakes came out looking just like the ones they show on the package. How often does that happen?!

These pancakes were amazing. They were light and fluffy, and had a perfect taste. Sweet, but not too sweet. Tasty by themselves but beyond delicious once they were smothered in melted butter and maple syrup.

The mix was sweet, so I'm sure that it will make really good Strawberry Shortcake and probably good biscuits but I'm not sure how it will work for more savory dishes like Cheeseburger Pie. Also, the box is incredibly small. I used one whole box just making a triple recipe of pancakes for my family. Lucky for me I bought three boxes.

I can't tell you how excited I am to have found this Bisquick! School starts this week and anything I can find that will help make weeknight dinners faster gets a huge gold star in my book.

P.S. My daughter has recently started a milk free diet to go along with her gluten free one. I made these pancakes with cow's milk and with rice milk and they were great both ways. So for those of you who need gluten and lactose free you can still have lovely pancakes!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Pregnancy and Celiac Disease

When I was first diagnosed with Celiac Disease my husband and I had just started talking about having a third child, so I was concerned with how the disease would affect our plans.

I asked the Gastroenterologist what having Celiac Disease meant for pregnancy. I was mostly concerned about whether the baby would be getting enough nutrients with me being on a gluten free diet. The doctor laughed at me a little and assured me that a gluten free diet was very healthy for both me and the baby, but that a lot of people with Celiac Disease actually had a hard time conceiving.

Lucky for us I didn't have that problem. A few months later I was sitting in my OB/GYN's office asking her how my Celiac Disease was going to affect my new pregnancy. I was especially concerned with what would happen if I accidentally (or on purpose, those pregnancy cravings are killer!) got some gluten. The doctor told me that the baby would take the nutrition it needed from my body, so I would be the one to suffer for deviating from the gluten free diet not the baby. She also assured me that the baby wouldn't feel anything if I was in pain from intestinal distress. I was actually pretty worried about that one.

My pregnancy wasn't exactly normal. Due to some physical problems completely unrelated to the Celiac Disease I went into early labor and had to spend the night in the hospital when I was 22 weeks along. This experience gave me a little preview of what it was going to be like to give birth at the hospital.

My hospital had absolutely no gluten free options. There was a little blurb at the bottom of the menu that said they would be happy to work with any dietary restrictions, but when I ordered my roast chicken with no gravy it came smothered in the stuff. My husband had to go out and get me a low carb hamburger so I wouldn't starve.

The next day I spoke to somebody about it and the hospital's dietitian came up to my room to talk to me. She actually asked me for my preferences and sent somebody down to the local health food store to get some of my favorites so that I could eat lunch without any problems. She even purchased a new toaster only to be used for gluten free breads.

I let them know when my due date was, and since I had to be induced (ironic isn't it?) I was able to call them ahead of time and let them know that I was coming. After the first bumpy start, my next visit went like a dream. They even had brownies for me.

So basically, if you have Celiac Disease and are looking to get pregnant here's what I think you should know.

1. You may have a harder time getting pregnant in the first place.

2. If you do cheat on your gluten free diet it probably won't hurt the baby. It will however be harmful to you. The baby won't feel the pain, but you will. Honestly being pregnant is hard enough, why make it harder. I can tell you from experience that that thing you are craving will not be worth the pain and fatigue you'll be feeling later. REALLY not worth it.

3. You may have to educate the hospital about your diet. Most Hospitals have an Expectant Mother Tour, I recommend you go and ask lots of questions. Ask to see a menu, visit the cafeteria and ask them how they will handle your diet, make an appointment to talk to the dietitian. Find out if the Labor & Delivery department has a fridge where you can store your own foods (labeled with your name.)

4. When you pack your Going-to-the-Hospital bag I recommend packing some of your favorite gluten-free snacks. Labor is hard work and you may not be able to get food from the cafeteria right away. Having something to eat handy can save a lot of trouble.

Congratulations and Best Wishes!

Chili is Good Campin' Food

I was planning on doing a few posts about all the great gluten free foods we were going to have on our camping trip, but the trip was a fiasco and we ended it really early. The only meal worth mentioning was the chili.

I used the Bear Creek "Darn Good" Chili Mix. I cheated and cooked this on a camp stove, but I think it would be really easy to make this chili over a fire if you are the hard-core type of a camper. It's really easy. You boil the water, dump in the mix, and mix in a 6 oz. can of tomato paste. Then let it cook for 20-25 minutes, stirring occasionally. We also chopped up some hot dogs and threw those in. The back of the package has some other suggestions for things you can add, but I just kept it simple.

It was very tasty and hearty. It has a little bit of a kick to it, but it isn't too spicy for little kids or people with sensitive stomachs. I know everything tastes better when you're camping, but I love this stuff even when we're at home. We added sour cream and cheese as toppings, and some of us scooped it up with Frito's. I just ate it with a spoon, but that's 'cuz I was too hungry to mess with the chips. There were four adults and four kids in our group and there was plenty of chili for everybody. More than half of us even had seconds.

This chili was definitely the highlight of an otherwise dismal camping trip.

The Bear Creek Country Kitchens has a few other soup mixes that my family really loves, those reviews will be coming soon.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Vegetarian Nachos

Lucky me! My husband made dinner tonight.

No really. It's a good thing. He made our family's version of Nachos.

Here's the recipe:

One 40.5 oz. can of Refried Beans
One bag of Shredded Cheddar Cheese
Sour Cream
Chunky Salsa (We use mild or medium, just use whatever your family likes.)
Corn Tortilla Chips

Heat up the beans. We nuke 'em for three minutes in the microwave, stir, then nuke 'em for three more.

Spoon the beans into bowls, top with the cheese. If you want, pop the bowl in the microwave for 30 seconds to melt the cheese. I do this for hubby and me but not for the kids.

Top the beans and cheese with whatever combination of sour cream and salsa. (I like a lot of salsa and a little sour cream, my husband likes lots of sour cream and lots of salsa, my daughter likes a little sour cream and no salsa, my son likes lots of sour cream and a little salsa, the youngest son doesn't get sour cream or salsa.) You can also add some chopped olives if you're feeling fancy.

Use the tortilla chips to scoop the nachos into your mouth. Yum!

I was getting us ready for our upcoming camping trip, so I didn't get a chance to take pictures. The next time we have these nachos for dinner I'll post some pictures.

I'll be back in a few days with lots of posts about the trip.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Mrs. Leeper's Creamy Tuna dinner

One of the things I miss about my pre-Celiac days was having all the quick meal options. I mean just because I've got Celiac Disease doesn't mean my super busy days suddenly disappear. Right?

My local health food store had Mrs. Leeper's Creamy Tuna on sale and since it looked vaguely like Tuna Helper (which my family loved) I thought I'd get some to try it out. Worse case scenario would be that it tasted awful and we'd have hot dogs or pb&j instead. Best case I find a new boxed dinner to keep in my cupboard for busy days.

The box comes with the noodles and the sauce packet. I had to add 2 1/2 cups of hot water, 1 cup of milk, and 1 tablespoon of butter per box plus the tuna. I made two boxes and it fed our family of five quite well. I also added two cans of tuna for each box instead of just one. What can I say, my family likes meat!

The instructions are super easy. Drain the tuna and dump everything but the noodles into a pot. Bring that to a boil and then add the noodles and lower the heat. Cook it for 10 minutes, then let it set for a few minutes more. Easy peasy. It is important to let it set for awhile though, the sauce thickens up as it cools. The box says to let it set for three minutes, I let it set for five.

Okay, I know it looks kinda gross. It really doesn't photograph well at all. Trust me though, it tastes amazing.

The noodles have a really nice texture, not at all gritty. The sauce is just awesome. The flavor is rich without being too strong, and really very creamy. I don't really know how to describe it, so I'll just say that there was silence around the dinner table. My incredibly chatty kids were too busy eating to talk. Even my meat and potatoes loving husband liked this. He went back for seconds.

I think that this could be really good with a can of sweet corn or a can of peas added in. I also think it would be good with some crushed potato chips on top to add some crunch. I'll have to try that next time.

Overall I really liked the Creamy Tuna dinner. Preparation was easy, it tasted really good, and everyone in my family loved it. The only downside is that it was quite pricey. It cost about $5 for each box (on sale), so $10+ for a meal. That's about average for gluten free convenience foods, so it isn't overly expensive. It's just pricey for somebody on a budget, but I will be getting more the next time they go on sale. It's worth it for a quick meal on a tough day.

Charlotte's Bakery

I like to bake. Well, I like the idea of baking. I love the finished product of homemade goods fresh out of the oven. What I don't like is cleaning up afterward.

The first thing I realized when I started my gluten free diet was that good bread was hard to find. Most of the stuff I found was either tasteless, gritty, hard, or left a bad aftertaste. Sometimes all four at the same time. I tried making bread myself but it was an ordeal and the loaves never turned out well.

Then I found Charlotte's Bakery and it changed my life.

Their bread is awesome. It is slightly sweet, kind of like a cross between cornbread and potato rolls. It stays together very well and is excellent for sandwiches and french toast. Peanut butter and Jelly on Charlotte's bread almost feels like a treat. I adore this bread. The only problem I have with it is that it doesn't toast or grill well, so I have to use a different bread for breakfast toast and grilled cheese sandwiches.

I keep usually keep it in my fridge, and it stays fresh for about a week. It does freeze pretty well, but the crust can be a little dry when it thaws out. Overall this bread is excellent.

They also make cakes, cookies, pies, and other goodies. I'll be writing reviews for those soon.

I'm lucky that Charlotte's is sold at my local health food store. If you aren't so fortunate, they do sell online. You can find them at