Fun & Exciting!

About a week or so ago I applied to be an independent contractor for The Examiner.  I was contacted by them on Friday and now I am the Columbus Gluten-Free Food Examiner!  How exciting is that?  I am so excited!  I love sharing all of my fun tips, recipes and finds here with you all.  This will be a great opportunity to really focus on areas of Columbus that I haven’t been able to focus on so far and share even more with you all!  I have already been brainstorming on all kinds of things to write about.  I can’t wait to get started!  Oh, by the way, I just published my first article on gluten-free grocery shopping in  Columbus, Ohio.  Stop by & take a peek! :) 

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More Breaking News!

Lots going on in the world of gluten-free today!  Starbucks will now be carrying Kind Bars.  If you haven’t tried these bars, you are really missing out.  Combinations of fruit & nuts, some with yogurt, too.  Most varieties are gluten-free, but watch, there is at least 1 I have seen that has oat bran.  The labels clearly state “gluten-free” on the ones that are safe for us.  I almost always have 1 of these in my purse, but it is nice to know that there is one more place I can get a gluten-free snack if I need to or want to!

Breaking News: More Gluten-Free Cereal from General Mills

First, I must start by saying that I am very grateful to this fabulous company for recognizing that it isn’t necessary to use wheat starch or barley malt in every cereal that they make.  There are so many more cereals out there that could easily be converted to a gluten-free recipe if the barley malt flavoring or wheat starch were removed.  I know, reformulating is probably not cheap, but think of the increased number of consumers you could reach!! 

As I was reading my blog reader this morning, I came upon a post by Gluten-Free Philly announcing that General Mills has come out with a new version of Cookie Crisp and this one has no gluten containing ingredients!  The cereal is Sprinkles Cookie Crisp.  Probably not the healthiest choice of the gluten-free cereals available, but a choice nonetheless.  So you can add this to the list of other cereals made by General Mills that contain no gluten:

  • Rice Chex
  • Corn Chex
  • Cinnamon Chex
  • Chocolate Chex
  • Strawberry Chex
  • Honey Nut Chex
  • Trix
  • Kix (check ingredients…old boxes have oats)
  • Honey Kix
  • Berry Berry Kix
  • Sprinkles Cookie Crisp
  • The elusive Chocolate Lucky Charms
  • Dora the Explorer

I have not looked yet for the Sprinkles Cookie Crisp in my local store because I just found out about them.  I will start to look next time I am in the store.  Though, I need another box of cereal like I need a hole in my head.  For those who can’t find the cereal locally, our favorite online shopping venue offers up the cereal in cases of 4. 

**Please note that the Chex cereals are the only ones that are specifically labeled “Gluten-Free”.  The others listed contain no gluten ingredients and are enjoyed by many who follow the gluten-free diet.  Both Jon & I are extremely sensitive and have had no issues. 

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Product Review: Trader Joe’s Roasted Red Pepper Spread

When I was in Trader Joe’s last week, I was looking for some kind of sun-dried tomato sauce or pesto or something like that to spread on toast or bread or burgers.  I thought I had seen something like this before there, but I couldn’t find anything like that on this particular day.  I did find Trader Joe’s Roasted Red Pepper Spread with Eggplant & Garlic.  I checked the ingredients and there was no gluten and no onion!!!  There were under 10 ingredients (major bonus) and all of them seemed to be “Kim friendly”.  :)  Another bonus?  Under $2!  How can you not love Trader Joe’s? 

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I have used this spread now in a dozen ways.  I have topped salads with a tablespoon or 2 of this spread & then a tablespoon of plain Greek yogurt.  I have spread on a toasted French roll (also from Trader Joe’s).  I have topped my turkey burger with the spread & then topped with goat cheese, stuck under the broiler & let it get all melty; then I placed the burger on top of some grilled eggplant slices.  I have used on my turkey tacos & Mexican pizzas.  I have used on my turkey sandwiches.  Really, the possibilities are endless. This would be great to dip foccacia bread into or I bet it would taste great in an omelet or scrambled eggs too!  I just now thought of that! 

I highly recommend this product.  If you are watching what you eat, it is low in calorie, too, at 15 calories/tablespoon and only 0.5 grams of fat. 

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Baked Chicken Fingers ~ Gluten-Free

Tonight I had chicken on the menu and wanted to make chicken fingers out of the chicken, but didn’t really want to deep fry or even pan fry them.  I didn’t have any breadcrumbs, but did have Rice Chex and had seen that people had suggested using those in place of breadcrumbs.  I decided to give it a try. 

4 chicken breasts

My breading mix:

1.5 cups of crushed Rice Chex cereal

1/2 cup parmesan cheese

1 tsp garlic powder

1/2 tsp basil

1/2 tsp oregano

Liquid for dipping:

2 egg whites

1/2 cup to 1 cup of milk

Method:

Heat oven to 350 or 375.  Cut chicken breasts into strips.  Crush cereal & mix the rest of breading mixture together in a large ziplock bag or bowl.  Dip chicken strips in milk/egg mixture and then roll around, toss, shake & shimmy them in the breading mixture.  Place them on a baking sheet.  **I used a baking sheet that was covered in foil, then placed cooling racks on top & sprayed with Pam.  I did this so that the chicken fingers would not get soggy when cooking.  Repeat until finished.  Bake for 15-25 minutes, keeping a close eye.  The thicker your strips, the longer it will take to cook through.  You may broil on low at the end to brown up a bit if need be, then flip & do the same.  I would say 1-2 min. max. 

I served these with sweet potato hash browns & corn on the cob.  The kids & Aaron absolutely raved about these!  They said they tasted just like Wendy’s chicken nuggets (not sure if that is a compliment or not ;) ).  I will say that Jon & Aaron were using dipping sauces from Wendy’s that Hannah didn’t use the other day, so maybe that is why.  LOL!  I didn’t get a picture because they literally ate them faster than I could plate them up.  Jon has requested that we have these again tomorrow night!  LOL!  Maybe not that soon, but definitely a weekly menu item. 

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Did Someone Say Chocolate?

If you have been reading my blog for any length of time, you know that I love chocolate in any shape or form.  I can’t tell you the last time I turned something with chocolate away (unless it had gluten in it).  ;)  The wonderful people over at Endangered Species Chocolate contacted me a couple weeks back to let me know that all of their chocolate is gluten-free!!!  How cool is that?  Not only that, but would I like to try some samples.  Ummm…….let me think about it.  HECK YEAH!!!  Yesterday when I got home from the craziness of the morning, I found a nice package on my doorstep.  Inside were 3-3oz chocolate bars (2 supreme dark 72% cocoa and 1 milk chocolate w/almonds) and 4-.35 oz chocolate treats (2 dark chocolate mint & 2 dark chocolate). 

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Endangered Species Choc0late donates 10% of their profit to help support species, habitat & humanity.  You can read their story here.  Their mission is:

Empowering individuals to create solutions that sustain species, habitat & humanity.

My most favorite statement on their brochure?  Savor chocolate.  Save the planet.  Well said. 

I decided to spread the love with my chocolate.  Yes, chocolate is very good when you can have it all to yourself, but not only do you end up over-indulging then, but your friends might not appreciate watching you scarf down a whole bar and not sharing the love.  So, I broke out my dark chocolate & milk chocolate w/almond bars after dining with 2 of my BFFs the other night.  We all were in love at first taste!  Really, how can you go back to Hershey’s (sorry, Special Dark & Dove) you know I love you, but seriously, this stuff is like solid gold (I was going to say liquid gold, but that doesn’t really make a lot of sense if the chocolate isn’t melted, does it?  LOL!  Such intense flavors, thick bar, amazing aftertaste.  It helps that I had 2 other people try is so you all don’t accuse me of liking everything that I try.  Yes, I like food and chocolate, especially, but I pride myself on being honest.  I know how hard it is to find good, gluten-free foods.   

My son, Jon tried the Dark Chocolate & Mint, as I am not a fan of mint.  Yes, there is a chocolate that I don’t care for.  It is okay, don’t worry.  There is plenty of other chocolate to indulge in.  Jon ooohed & ahhhhed over this chocolate.  He seriously did not shut up the whole time it was in his mouth.  He did mention that there was an odd aftertaste.  I may have to try it now to see what he is referring to.  He may not be used to good chocolate!  LOL!!  He is your 3 Musketeers Mint Bar dude!  ;) 

I love this product & will be making sure to keep supporting such a wonderful company.  Thank you for the samples & allowing me the chance to review your product!  :) 

I am editing to add that Endangered Species Chocolate is giving away a year’s worth of free chocolate!  Just complete their short survey here

Weekly Menu Plan ~ June 28, 2009

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The hot, dog days of summer are here.  Humidity is crazy!  Feels like you are swimming through the air as you walk.  Great pool days, though.  :)  The kids are loving the daily swimming lessons.  I guess the one benefit to this heat is that there are no cold mornings for swimming.  Which means no purple lips or chattering teeth! 

Celiac Family is hosting the Gluten-Free Menu Swap this week and chose the ingredient: balsamic vinegar. I love balsamic vinegar & use it for many different things in my house.  I will sometimes use balsamic vinegar alone for my salads.  I marinate my chicken breasts in a mix of balsamic, olive oil, basil, oregano, garlic, salt & pepper, then grill.  I saute mushrooms in balsamic vinegar.  I could go on & on.  Oh, one of my favorites is Caprese Salad with a balsamic gastrique (just balsamic & a touch of brown sugar stirred up & drizzled over the salad).  Thanks for hosting!

Onto the menu:

Sunday ~ Baked Parmesan Chicken Fingers, sweet potato hash browns, broccoli & salad

Monday ~ Salmon (Agave & Lime), brown rice, green beans & salad

Tuesday ~ Homemade Mac & cheese, baked beans, veggies & fruit (didn’t get to this last week)

Wednesday ~ Shrimp Scampi, asparagus & Caprese Salad w/Balsamic Gastrique

Thursday~ Spinach & Feta Turkey Burgers, roasted butternut squash, sauteed okra medley  & salad

Friday~ Homemade Veggie Pizza & salad

Saturday~ Breakfast for dinner (spinach & tomato frittata), sweet potato hash browns & fruit bowl

Baked Goods

Bread

Betty Crocker’s Yellow Cake Mix

Test another bread

Don’t forget to check out Orgjunkie for lots more menu plans.  :)

Oh, How I Love Giveaways!! :)

Oooh! I just had to share that there is a give away over at Rosey Rebecca’s blog for Oikos!! I have a new found love for this Greek Yogurt and just had to share! :) The honey is especially tasty, but I like the vanilla, too. I am hoping to win so I can try the blueberry next. Another tip? Kroger had these BOGO in the past week. Not sure when the sale ends, but I hope it is still going on! :)

Product Review: Betty Crocker’s Gluten Free Devil’s Food Cake

After looking high & low, I finally found BC’s Gluten-Free Devil’s Food Cake at Giant Eagle.  Yes, Amazon had them, but you had to buy them by the case (6 boxes to a case) and I didn’t know at the time if they were “case-worthy” or not.  Those of you who used to watch Seinfeld when it was on will understand the “worthy” reference.  After baking the cake yesterday & diving in for dessert last night, I can definitely say that this cake is “case-worthy”.  Not only that, but if you sign up for Amazon’s “Subscribe & Save” plan, the case is only $20.26 and your shipping is free!  You choose the frequency of your shipment and can cancel at any time.  I think Amazon should pass along some commission to me as I refer all kinds of people to them.  Hmmmm.  Anyway, I digress. 

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This cake was so easy to make.  All you need is 1 stick of butter (half a cup), 1 cup of water & 3 eggs.  I was going to add some sour cream or Greek yogurt for extra moistness, as I had heard reports of the cake being too dry, but I decided that I needed to follow directions exactly as the box read the first time I made the cake so I could accurately review the product.  Much to my surprise, the cake was very, very moist and delicious.  No need for the sour cream or Greek yogurt.  One thing that I think really helped is that I set the timer for 8 minutes under the lowest recommended baking time.  I then checked on the cake every 5 minutes until the toothpick inserted in the center came out clean.  I took the cake out right after that.  I can see where this could easily be over baked if your oven was not calibrated properly or you weren’t keeping a close eye on it.  I used to have an oven thermometer, but it fell on the bottom of my oven and then stopped working.  I really need to get a new one as proper temperature is everything when you bake. 

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I let the cake cool on a rack, in the pan, for about an hour or so.  I was pressed for time, so I probably should have let it cool for longer, but I was still able to frost it without any consequences.  I carefully inverted the cake (8-inch round) onto my hand and then back onto my serving surface.  I then frosted with chocolate frosting (I used the recipe off of the Hershey’s Cocoa Can).  Here is the frosting recipe from the Hershey’s site:

“PERFECTLY CHOCOLATE” CHOCOLATE FROSTING
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine
2/3 cup HERSHEY’S Cocoa
3 cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Melt butter. Stir in cocoa. Alternately add powdered sugar and milk, beating to spreading consistency. Add small amount additional milk, if needed. Stir in vanilla. About 2 cups frosting.

Perfection!! 

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I served this cake last night to my Dad, Step-Mom, Christy & Regan (little sister).  They all loved it!  My Dad doesn’t even like chocolate cake & said it was good!  Now, that is saying something!  So, Betty Crocker, you are 3 for 3 so far.  The brownies, cookies & Devil’s Food Cake have all been hits.  Now, I have one last mix to sample:  The Yellow Cake Mix.  I hope to make the cake this week.  Maybe I will do some cupcakes with that mix!  The kids will love that! 

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Apology

I want to apologize to those who are signed up to receive email updates with new posts. There was a glitch with Windows Live Writer uploading my Trader Joe’s Edamame Cracker’s review the other day and you may have received multiple emails. While I really do like that product, I didn’t mean for it to post that many times! LOL!

Sorry and thanks for reading Gluten-Free is Life! :)

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