gluten free

Being Gluten Free

It seems everywhere I turn lately there is something about being Gluten Free. Little did I know before finally deciding to do a gluten free trial that being gluten free was on the road to be the next greatest diet trend. While it has brought some great gluten free food options it has brought with it backlash as well. Yes, I can laugh at late night talk shows when they quiz people on what evil gluten is. It is a bit of a different feeling I get from bloggers that bring forth their opinions about the gluten free life and this “fad” is ridiculous. Being Gluten Free isn’t easy. It is not the right option for everyone and it isn’t something someone should decide to do without researching the pro’s and cons and looking at their medical needs.

Being Gluten Free

After the birth of my 3rd son I was diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder and it was after that I have spent countless hours in different doctor offices trying to figure out what was going on with me. I still don’t have any real answers, one doctor says I have lupus and the next disagrees. The only thing that remains the same was I have something autoimmune going on. I only grew frustrated and my dislike of going to the doctor grew. Tired of being prescribed medications that only mask my symptoms instead of getting to the root of the issue I took my health in my own hands. I researched for a few months, reading journal articles and other studies before finally deciding that a gluten free diet may be what my body needs.  After all I figured a trial of couldn’t hurt.  I had been gluten free for a couple weeks when my husband’s grandfather passed and we went to Ohio. At this point I wasn’t  sure how much being gluten free was helping but I soon learned it was. While at my inlaw’s I ate gluten and  my stomach problems were back. My stomach was bloated right away  and I would soon be in all types of gastric distress. Soon as I got home I went back to my gluten free ways and my stomach thanked me. Heck, my whole body thanked me.

I have been gluten free for almost 8 months now. It has been a learning lesson the entire way. I have learned what I can and cannot eat. I have slipped up too just as I am sure others on this journey have done. After all nobody is perfect. The first time I went out to eat was overwhelming. My husband and I went to a local gastropub and I was so worried about accidentally eating gluten. I did ask my server questions that she begrudgingly answered. She was probably like these other servers that are blogging about their patrons that come in asking gluten free questions and then drink a beer. Well, I was that patron. I was so worried about what I was going to eat that I didn’t think at all about what I drank. I realized my mistake as I was drinking my beer. I had that oh crap what should I do followed by the oh crap that server probably thinks I am an idiot. The truth as my husband pointed out was she probably had no clue. The number of people who actually know what gluten is, while growing is small.  If my server did know what gluten is and was secretly judging me, oh well. I doubt she is perfect.

I have learned of foods with “hidden”gluten. These are foods you wouldn’t think have gluten in them. Some of these foods include:

  • Soy Sauce
  • Cream Based Soups (Cream of…)
  • Salad Dressings
  • Lunch Meats
  • Spice, Gravy, and/or Sauce Mixes
  • Candy (such as Twizzlers)
  • Eggs served at restaurants

HERE is a really good list to check out to learn more about hidden gluten sources. Being gluten free you learn to read labels well. You become that person in the grocery store examining ingredient lists.

Another place hidden gluten lingers is possible cross contamination when it comes to condiments like butter and then there is your toaster when it comes to gluten crumbs getting into your gluten free food. I have always hated crumbs in the butter and now I have given myself an excuse to buy my own little tub. It is all those little things that you don’t think of.

I have learned to be prepared and to bring my own food when we are headed out of town. I recently went to a weekend long Army family event and based on past experiences I thought I would be ok but I couldn’t have been more wrong. Pasta buffets are not friends of those who are gluten free.  Our active duty spouses at least were required to eat what was served so I ended up looking like that picky kid eating plain salad greens. That night after our class we headed to Walmart and I picked up some food. Thank goodness for nearby grocery stores!

Not all places are bad when it comes to finding gluten free food. Many restaurants have options and if you are lucky it is more than just salad. Just remember if you are getting french fries there may be a cross contamination risk if they fry breaded foods in the same fryer as their french fries. Some places will even go above and beyond to help you and make sure your meal is gluten free.  Disney World is great when it comes to special diets and I was really pleased when we visited this past spring. It was one thing to be ordering food and my husband and I in line waiting our turn discussing gluten free meals I could have and the cast member ordering it gluten free before I even said anything.  I was unbelievably excited while we were in Animal Kingdom and we walked by a gluten free food cart. I was in love! They had everything from gluten free beer to gluten free doughnuts. I had my first doughnut in months and it was delicious!

Being Gluten Free
My Gluten Free Doughnut from Disney World

Not all baked goods are created equal in the gluten free world. It has been a learning curve to figure out how to bake. I have learned that xantham gum is my friend when baking and it is necessary. I have learned all gluten free flour blends are not equal and some are better than others. It has taken me a few months but I have finally figured out biscuits so I can make biscuits and gravy. Cupcakes will be next. I miss cupcakes!

Being Gluten Free

This leads me into the most common things people say when they find out you are gluten free. You are almost always told, I could never give up  fill in the blank awesome gluten food. Yes, there are foods I miss but they are coming out with more and more great gluten free products. Then there is the standard I know of someone that is gluten free like their sister-in-law’s best friend’s aunt. Umm, ok? There are other people that are gluten free. In fact, 1 in 133 people have celiac and it is estimated that 83% of Americans are undiagnosed or misdiagnosed (from celiccentral.org). Then there are those that ask if being gluten free is a good way to lose weight. If you eat a lot of crap and you start eating healthier then yes you will lose weight. Myself and my family ate healthy to begin with. We try to keep processed foods to a minimum. I haven’t bought a box of Kraft mac n Cheese since early 2010. So for myself, no I did not lose weight. I have actually gained weight! Go figure!  Giving up my favorite homemade bake treats and training for 2 half marathons you would think I would lose. Oh well, I guess. People are curious so the list of things people say is endless. You just have to let people know you are gluten free because our body doesn’t like gluten and we eat this way to make our bodies happy.

There is a lot that goes into being gluten free and I have only touched the surface. It has been the best choice for my personal health. Being gluten free isn’t just a fad crazy diet for me, it is my way of life. It helps me feel better. Being truly gluten free is not something you can take a day off from unless you want your body to essentially hate you.  Yeah, so being gluten free may be the cool thing to do right now. I will take it especially if companies want to finally produce products that those of us who are gluten free miss.  If only we could get others not to think that being gluten free is so odd.

Gluten Free Rotini with a Charred Green Onion Pesto, Toasted Cashews and Cranberries

Something I really like is making pesto out of not your typical pesto ingredients. Pesto does not need to have a Basil and Pine Nut base. For Instance, I have a wonderful Spinach and Pecan Pesto I make every now and then. When I found out I was working with Barilla this month and saw some of their recipes, their Charred Green Onion Pesto stood out. An added plus to this recipe is that it called for their Gluten Free pasta that I had finally found in a local grocery store. Alike some other pastas I had tried it was a corn and rice pasta that is GMO free. I have been on the search for a good gluten free pasta and I think I may have found my new go-to pasta. Best part about the pasta is my family wasn’t asking is this gluten free.

The pesto was very easy to make and was surprisingly tasty. I love it when recipes comes together like that! You simply roast your green onions in the oven for 10 minutes, then let them cool and once cool you through into the food processor. Add some cashews, parmesan cheese, a couple ice cubes, a tad bit of water and olive oil and pulse a bit more and voila! You have pesto! Toss with your rotini and some soaked dried cranberries and you have your pasta dish. It would be great with some grilled chicken breast also. Try it for yourself and let me know what you think!

Gluten Free Rotini with a Charred Green Onion Pesto, Toasted Cashews and Cranberries

Gluten Free Rotini with a Charred Green Onion Pesto, Toasted Cashews and Cranberries

from Allrecipes.com

Ingredients

  • 1 (12 ounce) box Barilla® Gluten Free Rotini
  • 1 bunch green onions
  • 7 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • salt and black pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup cashews
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmigiano cheese
  • ice cubes
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup hot water

Directions

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 425 degrees F and bring a large pot of water to a boil.
  2. Place cranberries in bowl of hot water to soak.
  3. Toss the green onions with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place on a sheet tray and roast in the oven until lightly charred, about 10 minutes. Remove the onions from the oven and let them cool down.
  4. In a blender combine the onions, cashews and Parmigiano cheese, pulse for 5 seconds.
  5. Slowly drizzle in the remaining olive oil and season with salt and pepper to taste. Add the ice cubes and puree. Remove the pesto from the blender and place in a large bowl.
  6. Cook the pasta according to the package directions, drain reserving 1/2 cup cooking liquid. Drain cranberries.
  7. Add the cooking liquid, pasta and drained cranberries to the pesto, then stir to combine.

Gluten Free Rotini with a Charred Green Onion Pesto, Toasted Cashews and Cranberries

Cinnamon Vanilla Granola (Gluten Free)

I have been gluten free for 6 months now and one thing I have learned to do is read label well. There is often gluten in things that you wouldn’t think would have gluten. Many times it is easier to make your favorite store-bought foods so you can know exactly what is in what you are eating with the added bonus of it tasting better.   Granola is now on my list of foods to make myself instead of buy. I have wanted to make granola for a while now and it falls into the category of some are gluten free while other’s aren’t. It is also one of the foods I look at when I am grocery shopping but always put back saying I can make this at home. I am so glad that I finally made it. It is easy to make and taste even better. My family loved it too! We ate it plain and in yogurt parfaits with some fresh local blue berries I picked up at Gillis Hill Road Produce.

Cinnamon Vanilla Granola

Cinnamon Vanilla Granola

adapted from Allrecipes.com

Ingredients
3 cups old-fashioned oats
2 cups quick oats
1 cup chopped pecans (or sliced almonds or sunflower seeds)
1/2 cup ground flax meal
1 cup maple syrup, you can use less if desired but may have less clumping
2 tablespoons Mazola® Corn Oil
2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract
4 teaspoons ground Cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 cup dried cranberries (or raisins or other dried fruit)

*note* Use real Maple Syrup not “pancake syrup” such as Log Cabin or Aunt Jemima.

Directions

  1. Combine old fashioned oats, quick oats, pecans and wheat germ in a large bowl. Combine maple syrup, oil, vanilla, cinnamon and nutmeg in a small bowl. Pour over oat mixture, stirring to coat. Spread mixture evenly on greased baking sheet.
  2. Bake at 300 degrees F for 50 to 60 minutes, stirring once midway through baking minutes, until oats are toasted.
  3. Remove from oven and stir in dried fruit. Cool in pan on wire rack. Store in airtight container.
  4. Serving suggestion: To make yogurt parfaits, layer 6 ounces vanilla yogurt, 1/2 cup mixed fresh or frozen fruit and 1/4 cup granola.

6 ingredient Cheesy Mashed Potatoes with Sausage

This month with Allrecipes  we are working with one of my favorite brands, Johnsonville Sausage. Right now they have a great sweepstakes going on that centers on “Easy Weeknight Dinners with Six ingredients.” They want all of you awesome Pinterest users to find recipes that you would be made better with their awesome sausage products. All you need to do is pin any recipe with 6 or fewer ingredients, tag it with the hashtag phrase #6IngredientsOrLess with #JohnsonvilleSausage, then register the pin URL(s)  HERE for a chance to win an awesome Simply Calphalon skillet. Sounds easy huh? Well it is! Unfortunately for me but good for you I cannot enter the contest but I was challenged to find a recipe to remake and make. I remade Allrecipes Cheesy Mashed Potatoes with Cubed Ham subbing Italian sausage for the cubed ham. I wanted a recipe that would work with my gluten free diet and wasn’t the traditional italian fair that most associate with italian sausage. This recipe fit the bill and my family loved it! Then again what is there not to love about Johnsonville sausage, mashed potatoes and cheese!

What would you make with Johnsonville Sausage with 6 ingredients or less?

 

Cheesy Mashed Potatoes with Italian Sausage | Country Girl Gourmet

 

Cheesy Mashed Potatoes and Italian Sausage

adapted from Allrecipes.com

Ingredients

  • 5 baking potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon dried parsley
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese
  • 1 pound  italian sausage, browned and grease drained (I used ground but sliced links would work well also)

Directions

Place potatoes into a large pot and cover with salted water; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until tender, about 20 minutes. Drain. Transfer potatoes to a bowl; add butter, garlic powder, and parsley. Mash with a potato masher. Stir in Cheddar cheese and sausage.

Johnsonville Amazing Muffin Cups

Easter is almost here! Although it is later this year how can it be that it is time for Easter already? I know many people who are having their oh crap moments and wondering what are they going to do for the day.  From putting together Easter baskets to planning Easter Brunch and dinner. This year I can say I am thankful for Johnsonville Sausage.  If you have read some of my other social media postings  then you may already know that my family loves Johnsonville Sausage. It is seriously some awesome sausage.  Well, I have discovered yet again another Johnsonville recipe that my family loves and it is perfect for Easter brunch! Johnsonville’s Amazing Muffin Cups are the perfect addition to any Easter brunch. They have a base of hash browns that are topped with sausage, cheese, red pepper, green onions and eggs. Sounds pretty good, huh?  Add some fresh fruit and you are all set to go with an amazing Easter brunch.

Amazing Muffin Cups | Country Girl Gourmet

 

Amazing Muffin Cups

from Allrecipes.com

Ingredients

  • 12 links Johnsonville® Original breakfast sausage
  • 3 cups frozen country style shredded hash brown potatoes, thawed
  • 3 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  • 6 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 cups shredded 4-cheese Mexican blend cheese
  • 1/4 cup chopped red bell pepper
  • chopped fresh chives or green onion

Directions

  1. Prepare sausage according to package directions. cool slightly and cut into 1/2-inch pieces; set aside.
  2. In a bowl, combine hash browns, butter, salt and pepper; divide evenly into 12 greased muffin cups. Press mixture onto sides and bottom of muffin cups.
  3. Bake at 400F for 12 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove from oven, divide sausage pieces into muffin cups.
  4. In a bowl, combine eggs, cheese and bell pepper. Spoon mixture evenly into muffin cups. Sprinkle with chives or onion. Return to oven, bake 13-15 minutes or until set. Serve.

Amazing Muffin Cups | Country Girl Gourmet

Lemon Blueberry Bread (gluten free)

While i’m not sure what the weather is doing, this time of the year has me wanting to get ready for spring. That includes making all of my favorite spring time foods. What is different this year is I am gluten free but I am learning I can still have many of my favorite foods like my favorite Lemon Blueberry Bread.

Lemon Blueberry Bread is the perfect springtime treat. It is the perfect addition to any Easter table or a perfect after school snack. This bread never lasts very long around my house.

Lemon Blueberry Bread (gluten free) | Country Girl Gourmet

 

Lemon Blueberry Bread (gluten free)

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup oil (vegetable, canola, etc.)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • zest of one lemon (approx. 2TB)
  • 3TB fresh lemon juice
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup greek yogurt
  • 1tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2cup gluten free all purpose flour blend
  • 1tsp xanthan gum
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2tsp salt
  • 1 1/2cup blueberries
  • 2TB lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup sugar

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray loaf pan with non stick cooking spray.
  2. In a small bowl combine blueberries and 1/2cup flour and coat berries. This helps prevent your berries from sinking.
  3. In a large bowl, cream the oil, sugar and lemon zest until light and fluffy.
  4. Beat in eggs and then add 3 TB lemon juice and vanilla extract and mix well.
  5.  Next add in flour, xanthan gum, baking powder and salt. Mix in yogurt
  6. Finally fold in blueberries being carefully not to break the berries but to mix in remaining flour.
  7. Pour batter into loaf pan and bake for 60 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
  8. In a small bowl mix 2 TB lemon juice and 1/4cup sugar and create a glaze for the lemon bread.For the glaze, combine 1/4 cup sugar with 2 tablespoons lemon juice. Drizzle over bread while it is still warm

Lemon Blueberry Bread (gluten free) | Country Girl Gourmet

Gluten Free Eggplant Parmesan

I am over a month into living gluten free and so far so good. I have found myself in ruts a few times and eating the same thing over and over but i’m still learning. I can say one thing that has surprised me is that I don’t miss eating pasta at all. I have eaten spaghetti squash in place of spaghetti for a while now and recently made lasagna with sliced eggplant instead of noodles. Seeing how well the eggplant lasagna turned out I decided to finally try eggplant parmesan but I made it gluten free and a bit healthier by baking the eggplant instead of frying it. It is now one of my favorite dishes!

Gluten Free Eggplant Parmesan | Country Girl Gourmet

Eggplant Parmesan is definitely worth the work of preparing the eggplant.  It is a great meatless meal too!
Gluten Free Eggplant Parmesan | Country Girl Gourmet

Eggplant Parmesan is a great and filling meal by itself or you can add quinoa spaghetti or a nice salad to round out your meal.Gluten Free Eggplant Parmesan | Country Girl Gourmet

Gluten Free Eggplant Parmesan
 
Author:
 
Ingredients
  • 2 eggplants, sliced into ½-inch slices
  • salt, as needed
  • 1 (3.5oz) package Rice Crackers, turned into crumbs (I used Nabisco Rice Thins and my food processor)
  • ½ cup gluten free Flour Blend
  • 1TB Italian Seasoning
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 2 (28 ounce) jars of your favorite spaghetti sauce (or as needed)
  • 1 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1 (16 ounce) mozzarella cheese, shredded
Instructions
  1. Place eggplant slices in a colander; sprinkle both sides of each slice with salt. Let eggplant sweatt for 30 minutes. Wipe moisture from eggplant slices with paper towels.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cookie sheet with parchment paper.
  3. Mix cracker crumbs, gluten free flour and italian seasoning in a bowl.
  4. Dip eggplant slices in beaten egg, next coat with cracker crumb mix. Place eggplant slices in a single layer on the prepared cookie sheet.
  5. Bake in the preheated oven until lightly golden and crisp, 10 minutes per side.
  6. Cover the bottom of a greased 9x13-inch casserole dish with spaghetti sauce. Next add a layer of eggplant slices. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and mozzarella cheese. Lastly, add spaghetti sauce. Repeat layers. After final sauce layer cover with more cheese.
  7. Bake uncovered 30 minutes until cheese is melted and bubbly.

 

 

Gluten Free Eggplant Parmesan | Country Girl Gourmet

Cherry Cheesecake Brownies -Gluten Free

Cherry Cheesecake Brownies -Gluten Free | Country Girl Gourmet

Valentine’s Day, a holiday celebrating love or just a commercial holiday. How do you feel about it? Once upon a time I was the hopeless romantic and loved Valentine’s Day but then I got married. My husband is rarely home on Valentines Day. He is usually deployed or away training, it is always something. It is ok, we are used to it. I make they day special for my kids. I make heart shaped food, cupcakes and even more cupcakes for class parties and a special Valentine’s Day dessert with dinner. Simple and sweet is how we celebrate the day.

This year I have decided to try a Gluten Free diet. Not to lose weight or any nonsense like that but to see if it would help with some autoimmune issues I have. I have done pretty good so far. Just a minor blip where I had to stop for a few days. The blip showed me that yes, my body does react to gluten. I could feel the difference when I had eaten gluten and I was determined to get back to my gluten free lifestyle.

 I do get cravings for all the sweet gluten filled treats like for cookies, cupcakes and brownies from time to time and I have been determined to figure out gluten free baking. I bought some King Arthur Multi Purpose Gluten Free Flour Blend a couple weeks ago and a craving for brownies seemed like the perfect time to try it out. I didn’t make just plain regular brownies though. I kicked it up a notch and made Cherry Cheesecake Brownies.  Oh my goodness is all I could say! They were delicious! I fed them to my family and they loved them and none knew they were gluten free. We tried them warm and later after being in the fridge a few hours. They were great both ways but especially cold. I think I have our Valentine’s Day Dessert!

Cherry Cheesecake Brownies -Gluten Free | Country Girl Gourmet

Cherry Cheesecake Brownies

Ingredients

for the brownies-

1 cup butter

2 cups sugar

4 eggs

2t vanilla extract

2/3 cup cocoa powder

1 cup gluten free multi purpose flour

1 teaspoon xanthan gum

1/2t baking powder

1/4t salt

for the cherry cheesecake mix-

1 8oz package of cream cheese, softened

1 egg

1/3 cup sugar

1 21oz can of cherry pie filling

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease 9×13 pan.

2. In a microwave safe bowl melt butter, once melted stir in sugar and then cocoa powder. Then mix in eggs and vanilla and then finally beat in remaining dry ingredients, flour, salt, xanthan gum and baking powder.

3. Pour and spread batter into prepared 9×13 baking pan.

4. In another bowl use an electric mixer or whisk, beat together the cream cheese, egg and sugar until smooth.

5. Dollop the cream cheese mixture on top of the brownie batter.

6. Dollop cherry pie filling (focusing on the cherries not the cherry gel) on top of cream cheese mixture.  Note- some brands are more cherry gel than cherries, you want more of the cherries than cherry gel. Leftover cherry gel is ok.

7.Swirl together using a knife.

8. Bake for 35-45 minutes, until brownies are set and pulling from the sides of the pan. If checked with a toothpick  it will come out with fudgy crumbs.

9.Cool thoroughly, then cut into bars and serve warm or cold. Store in the refrigerator.

***NOTE- These can be made with regular All Purpose Flour instead of Gluten Free Flour Blend if desired***

Cherry Cheesecake Brownies -Gluten Free | Country Girl Gourmet

Are you making something special for Valentines Day? What are you making?

Gluten Free and Paleo Almond Flour Pancakes

Not a new years resolution but this month I decided to do a trial of the gluten free diet to see if it would help with some of my autoimmune issues. My husband has been doing a modified paleo diet and our family eats a pretty healthy diet, I was ready. So far I am 2 weeks down and I am doing ok. I have to admit though I have had some crazy cravings. Add to that it isn’t that much fun watching your family eat things that are so delicious when you can’t eat them also. So I have started searching for gluten free substitutes. There had to be a solution and there was.  There are a wide variety of gluten free flours that you can by and I am slowly starting to experiment with them. First up has been Almond Flour. A year ago I made some Paleo bread for friends along with some macaroons but that is where my experience with almond flour ends. I was unsure if I could really turn almond flour into pancakes and if I did how they would turn out. I was happily surprised. These pancakes were quick and easy to make and delicious. They were denser than a typical pancake but that is to be expected with the almond flour. Try them for yourself! You are going to love these Gluten Free and Paleo Almond Flour Pancakes!Gluten Free and Paleo Almond Flour Pancakes | Country Girl Gourmet

Quick Almond Flour Pancakes

Gluten Free and Paleo Almond Flour Pancakes
 
Author:
 
Ingredients
  • 1 cup almond flour
  • ¼ cup water
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon oil, or as needed
Instructions
  1. Whisk almond flour, water, eggs, maple syrup, and salt together in a bowl until batter is smooth.
  2. Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat; drop batter by large spoonfuls onto the griddle, and cook until bubbles form and the edges are dry, 3 to 5 minutes. Flip, and cook until browned on the other side, 3 to 5 minutes. Repeat with remaining batter.

 from Allrecipes.com

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