Product Review: Better Batter Flour

Naomi & her staff at Better Batter were kind enough to send me some free samples of Better Batter Flour and Better Batter Pancake & Baking Mix.  I will review the Pancake & Baking Mix in another post.  I want to concentrate now on the flour mix.  The samples came to me in just the nick of time.  I had begun to prepare a batch of chocolate chip cookies for Aaron’s boss and discovered that I was out of flour.  Normally when I make cookies for his boss, I don’t make them gluten-free.  I usually keep a bag of flour on hand for times like this.  When I went to grab the flour, it was gone.  Aaron had tossed it out thinking it was “old”.  I then remembered that I had just received the Better Batter flour mix and decided that I would use that.  What better way to test a product than to serve to someone who doesn’t eat gluten-free & begs for my chocolate chip cookies? 

The chocolate chip cookies are the Better Batter cookies.

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I couldn’t wait to taste these cookies.  They smelled like heaven while baking.  The kids were gathering in the kitchen like sharks around their prey.  The result? ” Freakin’ amazing”, to quote Jon.  I had to agree.  Hannah said they were like heaven.  I tried them right out of the oven, then warm, then cold.  Really, they just kept getting better.  I have made this recipe many times with other flour mixes and while they are still pretty darn good, I was very impressed by the Better Batter Flour.  The true test was yet to come – Aaron’s boss. 

Aaron gave the cookies to his boss the next day and didn’t tell him they were gluten-free until after he took a bite.  He didn’t realize they were gluten-free until Aaron told him!  Success! 

Better Batter Flour is a little more expensive than some of the other GF flour mixes out there, but the end result is worth it and it does already have xanthan gum in the mix, so you can save a little money by not having to buy it to add to your baking. 

I also used the mix to make Gingersnaps.  Again, fantastic!  Exact same texture as non-GF gingersnaps. 

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Do you like french fries?  We love them here.  Usually I make them myself buy cutting up either regular or sweet potatoes, spritzing with olive oil, seasoning & baking in the oven.  However, in these times, sometimes dinners are rushed.  McCain Potatoes has a gluten-free list on their site.  My kids love the Smiles & Tasti Taters.

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Another company that I have recently found gluten-free information on is Welch’s.  Welch’s says that all of their products are gluten-free. 

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I will post my review on Better Batter Pancake & Baking Mix once I have a chance to give it a try.  I am looking forward to making some fun stuff with it!  Perhaps some banana bread!  :)

 

Weekly Menu Plan – Last Week of the Year

Phew….last week was so busy!  It was nice to just relax & lay low over the weekend.  This week should be relaxing for the most part, too.  We don’t typically go out on New Year’s Eve.  Heck, I don’t know the last time I stayed up until midnight! LOL!  The kids are still out of school this week & we only have 2 extracurricular activities going on, so dinners should be fairly straight forward.

The GF CF Cookbook is hosting this week’s gluten-free menu swap.  The ingredient of the week is leftover ham.  We don’t have anymore leftover ham, but we did and we used it in a varieties of ways.  Grilled ham & cheese sandwiches, ham & cheese omelettes and salad with chopped up ham in it. 

 

Sunday – Rotisserie Chicken, baked sweet potatoes, green beans & salad.

Monday – Tacos, black  beans, corn & salad

Tuesday-Baked Ziti, zucchini & salad

Wednesday-Salmon, red quinoa, mixed veggies & salad

Thursday – Filet Mignon, baked potato, asparagus & salad

Friday – Pork & Sauerkraut, mashed potatoes, broccoli & salad

Saturday – Pizza or leftovers

 

Baked Goods

Pamela’s Bread

Banana Bread (have some bananas that need rescued STAT!)

 

Here are a couple pictures from our Christmas.  Someone lost her 2nd front tooth on Christmas Eve!  All she wants for Christmas is her 2 front teeth!

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My sister, Kelly, Greg & Noah

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Hope you all had a great holiday! Do you have any New Year’s Eve plans?

 

Honeybaked Ham Gluten-free List

As I was opening my email this morning, I came across a list that was shared on a Celiac group that I belong to.  This was shared by Kara O.  Thank you Kara for sharing this list.  I am sharing it with you all since the holiday is just 2 days away now!  Enjoy those hams!  Makes me want to scrap any turkey plans & get a ham!  LOL! 

 

Food Dairy Soy Nuts Gluten
Honeybaked ham no no no no
Turkey Breast – Roasted no no no no
Turkey Breast- Smoked no no no no
Whole Roasted Turkey no no no no
Whole Smoked Turkey no no no no
Whole Cajun Turkey no yes no no
Roasted Herb Chicken yes yes no no
Pot Roast no yes no yes
Prime Rib no no no no
Beef Wellington yes yes no yes
Peppercorn Beef Tenderloin no yes no yes
BBQ Pork Roast no yes no yes
BBQ Pork Ribs no yes no yes
Rack of Pork Loin Chops no no no no
Apple Cranberry Pork Loin no yes no yes
Sliced Beef Brisket no   no no
Honeygrands yes   no yes
Baked Brie yes no yes yes
Cheese Trio yes no no no
Ham Bone Soup Mix no no no no
Tuxedo Mousse Cake yes yes possible yes
New Orleans Bourbon Pecan Cake yes yes yes yes
Carrot Cake yes yes yes yes
Cheesecake Sampler yes yes yes yes
Pecan Pie yes yes yes yes
Red Velvet Cake yes yes yes yes
Black & White Cheesecake yes yes possible yes
Raspberry Pecan Cheesecake yes yes yes yes
Lemon Cream Cake yes yes possible yes
Cinnamon Walnut Cake yes yes yes yes
Garlic Mashed Potatoes yes no possible no
Green Bean Casserole yes yes possible yes
Cinnamon Apples yes   possible yes
Mixed Veggies     possible yes
Turkey Gravy     possible yes
Cornbread Dressing yes yes possible yes
Broccoli Rice Casserole yes yes possible yes
Potatoes Au Gratin yes yes possible yes
Sweet Potato Souffle’ yes yes yes yes
Cookies yes   possible yes
         

 

There are additional notes regarding the “possible” status.  Possible means that cross-contamination is possible due to other products being produced being produced in the same facility that do contain this ingredient.

So, I hope this is helpful to you guys.  I know that I will be referencing it in the near future because I love Honeybaked Ham!

 

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I don’t know about you, but I need to ask Santa for days with more hours in them!  I have way too much to get done in the next 2 days!  I haven’t even started to wrap gifts yet!  ACK!!! 

 

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Running out of Time & a New Product Review

I was going to wait until after Christmas to share my latest new love with you guys, but I couldn’t.  I loved this product so much that I had to write my review now.  Kitchen Table Bakers was nice enough to send me several samples of their products to review.  I couldn’t wait to break open these crisps.  The crisps, as KTB calls them, are made completely of cheese!  And are they ever good!  They have several different varieties.  My favorite so far are the Aged Parmesan Mini Crisps. 

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I served up my Mini Crisps with a sandwich & pear:

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What a great pairing for this meal – pears & these crisps!  Only thing missing was a glass of wine!  ;)

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If you are interested in trying these crisps/crackers for yourself, you can find them in many stores around the country. 

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In case you haven’t heard the news….Honeybaked Ham is gluten-free!  Go ahead & indulge yourself this holiday season.  You can find information regarding this on the FAQ page at Honeybaked Ham. 

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Are you ready for the holiday?   I have my shopping done, but haven’t even started the wrapping yet.  Also, I haven’t cleaned the house for our dinner on Thursday night yet.  Why?  I know better.  Done too far in advance & it will need to be done again.  Voice of experience.  I have a few food items to prepare as well – imagine that!  Can someone make a few more hours in the day for me?  Please? 

 

Weekly Menu Plan – The Busiest Week of the Year – December 21, 2009

Is it over yet?  Seriously, I just want to sit down & read my book!  LOL!  Also, as much as I can’t believe that I am saying this, I think I am done with the Christmas music.  I love it, don’t get me wrong, but when they start playing it right after Halloween, the novelty wears out before Christmas.  I won’t ever tire of watching Elf, though.  Seriously, love that movie & think that it is Will Farrell’s best role ever.  There couldn’t be a more perfect Elf. 

So, what is on the menu this week.  Thursday night, Christmas Eve, we are hosting dinner for family at our house.  There will be plenty of yummy treats, including many, many cookies to go around.  Dinner will be Perfect Pork Tenderloin and Ham served along with a salad, roasted vegetables and rolls of some kind.  Appetizers will be shrimp cocktail, the now demanded Buffalo Chicken Dip and a vegetable tray to balance things out.  Wine will be a flowing, as will some fun mixed cocktails involving some Stoli’s vodka.  Christmas day dinner will be at my Dad’s house.  He is roasting a turkey with all the fixings, gluten-free, of course.  I will be bringing the dessert – a gingerbread cake.  Breakfast on Christmas morning is usually whatever you can get your hands on in between the opening of the mountain of gifts.  Sometimes I pull out pumpkin bread or muffins from the freezer.  This year I have a couple of gluten-free mixes that I have been sent to sample that I may make. 

Cheryl at Gluten-free Goodness is hosting this week’s gluten-free menu swap.  The theme is Christmas/Hanukkah/Winter Solstice.  Make sure to stop by & say “Hi” and check out all the great menus.

Sunday – Rotisserie Chicken, Garlic Rosemary Roasted Potatoes, Steamed Green Beans, Salad

Monday – Filet Mignon, Baked Sweet Potatoes, Roasted Asparagus & Salad

Tuesday – Spaghetti & Meatballs, Broccoli & Salad

Wednesday -Salmon, Basmati Brown Rice, Roasted Zucchini & Salad

Thursday – Christmas Eve Feast

Friday – Christmas Dinner Feast

Saturday – Do we have to eat today?  LOL!  Leftovers, most likely

 

Baked Goods

Bread

Coffee Cake (from mix that I was sent to sample)

Fudge

Peanut Butter Fudge

Old Fashioned Gingerbread Cake

A couple more cookies (yes, I am tired of cookies & my freezer is exploding!)

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In case you missed it, I hit a huge milestone this past weekend – I ran 1,000 miles this year!

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Don’t forget to check out Orgjunkie for lots more great menu ideas. 

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In case you have missed them…..more recipes are shared on my Examiner site

 

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The Year of Running

I started out 2009 with a few resolutions.  Let’s just say that #2 was a fail on all accounts.  Moving onto #1 – expanding my exercise horizons to more than just running – well, that didn’t last and now I am training for a marathon.  #3 was to keep my house more picked up & organized.  While I am making a better effort, I have come to realize that this is an ongoing process.  It will never be “done”.  I just have to learn to accept it and move on.

So, let’s focus more on the running now.  When I started out 2009 I really had no goals in mind when it came to running.  As I went through the first couple of weeks, I set my sights on a 10K in March that didn’t happen.  Then one day as I was getting the mail in the spring, I saw a “Team in Training” postcard that was recruiting people to run the Columbus Marathon & Half Marathon to help raise money to fight cancer.  While I didn’t end up running with Team in Training, I did set my sights on the Columbus Half Marathon that was to take place on October 18, 2009.  I also decided that I should run another race of some sort before the half to get accustomed to running a race.  I chose a 10K in July.  Then, the training started.

I was following all the “rules” I should have been for training, though I wasn’t really following any one specific plan.  It was Mother’s Day weekend when my right foot started to hurt.  The more I ran & walked, the more it hurt.  I couldn’t figure out why, as I had even bought my shoes at a running store after having my run/gait evaluated.  After seeing a couple different Sports Med docs, I was diagnosed with a Morton’s Neuroma.  The first treatment I was advised to try involved buying new shoes with a wider toe box.  If that didn’t work, come back & there were a number of other things to try.  Well, it worked!  Got some new kicks and within a few weeks I was as good as new.  I ran my first ever race on July 18, 2009 and finished 2nd in my age group!

It was now time to really get down to business.  Time to start running longer runs.  I had to learn how to properly fuel myself so that I was able to make it through the runs, too.  I quickly learned that any distance of 8+ miles required mid-run fueling for me.  I also learned that 6+ mile runs required eating before the run.  I typically run at 5 AM, so that was tough to do.   I started out with bananas.  They were too filling for me to eat that close to a run.  Then I moved to Sharkies and Gu/Clif Shots.  While I love that these products are gluten-free, I wanted to try to stay away from “processed” foods during my runs.  Well, that didn’t work.  I had to learn to make it work on the longer runs – I needed quick fuel that I could eat while running.  I was practicing for the big day in October.  I wanted to mimic the foods I would be eating on that day so that I could make sure that my stomach agreed with my head.  ;)  I finally figured out a system.  I also added watered down Gatorade (also gluten-free) to my 8+ mile runs to help fuel & keep me hydrated.

Over the course of the training I was running 30+ miles/week.  Those miles sure add up quickly!  I knew that I was ready for my big day.   I learned all about carb loading and how to do that gluten-free.  Brown rice pasta, quinoa pasta, brown rice, buckwheat & millet all became very good friends of mine.  Served up with roasted veggies, beans or lean meat/fish and I had a great, well balanced meal to fuel me through my run.  I also had to keep an eye on my “diet” to make sure that I wasn’t losing weight.  Long runs tend to make my appetite disappear, so I began having to watch the clock to eat on those days.  Making sure to eat something well balanced every 3 hours or so.

Half marathon day came and I was sick with what I now think was H1N1.  I was fever free, but had a nice cough going on.  I ran anyway.  I managed to finish in 2 hours 1 minute & 22 seconds, just over my goal of coming in under 2 hours.  I was beating myself up at first, then I remembered I was sick.  Okay, I’ll take it.  :)  I worked hard for that and am proud to have done as well as I did.

This brings me to the present.  I have continued to run to maintain my fitness.  I am currently running about 25 miles a week.  I have also been incorporating weights to build strength in my upper & lower body to help me achieve the goals I have set for 2010.  I have 3 races that I am planning to run in 2010.  The first race will be March 21, 2010 in Atlanta, Georgia.  It is the ING Half Marathon.  Not only am I running this race, but so is my sister & a group of  people that we have recruited to run in memory of my nephews, Wyatt & Jack.  This half marathon will only be a training run for me – I will not be looking for a new PR during this half.  Why?  Well, because I am getting ready to start training for my first marathon in Cleveland on May 16, 2010!  I do have a goal for this marathon – I would love to finish in under 4 hours.  Can I do it?  Only time will tell.  Will I be upset if I don’t?  Maybe, but that will only make me train harder for race #3 – the Nationwide Columbus Marathon in October 2010.  All of those races will have me running lots of miles over the course of 2010.

So as I look back over 2009 I have come to the realization that I have run over 1000 miles this year.  If you would have told me back in January that I would have run 1000 miles this year, I would have laughed.  Then I might have cried.  Will I hit 2000 next year?  I have no idea.  I think the race goals that I have set are enough.  I don’t want to set any mileage goals and end up hurting myself in the process.

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How to stay fit & not gain dreaded weight over the holidays

The holidays are a time of year that I really look forward to.  Not only do I enjoy the foods that are the traditional holiday fare & start showing up after Halloween, but I really enjoy all the family time.  Couple all those heavier foods & treats with busier days & nights and you could end up with some unwanted extra weight after New Year’s day. 

So, how do you avoid gaining an extra pound or 10?  Moderation.  Sure, that is easy to say.  Is it easy to do?  Here are some tips that I have found to be extremely helpful.

  • Don’t deny yourself your favorite treats.  When you go to a party, go ahead & have small servings of your favorite treats.  Stay away from things that are around all the time or aren’t your favorites & use those calories for the things you really love or only come once a year – gingerbread, egg nog, fudge, etc.  Go ahead, have one, but stop there.  No need to go crazy & stuff yourself, though.  Chances are you will feel uncomfortable & then beat yourself up for eating too much. 
  • Try to eat as close to your regular diet as possible.  Don’t skip meals or starve yourself to save up for a big splurge at a party. Most often this backfires & because you are so hungry you end up eating way more & then feeling like an overstuffed turkey at the holidays.  If you eat sensible meals throughout the day, maybe just a little lighter, you will still be able to enjoy some treats at the party. 
  • Don’t skip the gym.  Stick as close as you can to your regular exercise schedule.  Not only will this help to keep off the extra pounds from the treats & drinks, but it will help with holiday stress, too.  Sure, you may only work out 3 instead of 5 days, but 3 is better than nothing.  If you don’t have a gym or are traveling, get out for a nice, brisk walk after a heavy meal or in lieu of a nap. 
  • Between holidays & functions, follow your regular diet & exercise plan.  Don’t fall off the wagon just because you may have consumed an entire pumpkin pie or pan of brownies.  Pick yourself up, dust yourself off & have a nice, healthy breakfast the next morning.  Don’t keep telling yourself that you will start that new healthy lifestyle come January 1st – do it now.  There is no time like the present (and I don’t mean the one you wrapped up for your parents or siblings).  And, you will most likely feel better eating healthy foods rather than continuing the junk food, treats & alcohol assault on your body. 
  • Make sure to eat your fruits & vegetables.  It is no secret that holiday treats are lacking in the fresh fruit & vegetable department.  To help stay healthy & keep off some of that unwanted weight, add fresh fruits & veggies to your meals or snacks.  Not only do they help fill you up, but they are full of fiber & vitamins.  Then you won’t feel as guilty having that sweet potato casserole that Aunt Martha slaved over.  You know the one I am talking about – topped with candied walnuts & marshmallows. ;)
  • Drink plenty of water.  If you don’t already, make sure you are drinking water all day long.  To help avoid feeling like you got hit by a bus in the morning, alternate your drinks with a glass of water at the next party.  Not only will this help slow you down, as we all tend to lose track when we get chatty, but keeping yourself hydrated will help ward off that nasty hangover. 

Try some of these tips this year & see how they work for you.  I know that I always feel so much better when I eat healthy foods.  Yes, I love my treats, but I enjoy those in moderation.  You have seen my “Cookie-A-Day” posts by now, I am sure.  I freeze most of these cookies.  I do try them, yes, as do my kids, but I don’t go overboard.  They will be there tomorrow.  Also, I know that they are in the freezer, so if I am really craving a Dark Chocolate Snowstorm or Almond Cranberry Bite, I will grab one & make that dessert. 

I wish you all a happy & healthy holiday season!  Share some of your tips below – I am always interested in hearing others tricks for keeping the craziness that is the season at bay.

 

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