Friday Fun & a Contest!!

I had a lot of time to think this morning while I was getting my 7 mile run in.   I ran on the treadmill at the gym because it was dark outside and I have watched a few too many horror movies (and too much news on TV as well).  So while I was chugging along to my tunes, I came up with this super fun Friday game & bonus contest at the end!

The game first.  Take the word “Friday” and then list your favorite gluten-free foods that start with each letter in the word “Friday”.  See my example:

F ~ Fritos

R~ Raspberries

I~Ice Cream (the gluten-free kind, of course)

D~Dark Chocolate


Y~Yellow Squash

Now, it is your turn!  Just simply put your answers in the comment section below.  Feel free to share this on your blog as well!

Now, the contest.  Everyone likes a contest, right?  Well, I made a new vegetable last night and loved it.  I prepared it much like I do my butternut squash fries.  Here is a picture of the vegetable (cut up, not in it’s whole state):


The prize is a gluten-free goodie package that contains the following:

  • Endangered Species Supreme Dark Chocolate Bar
  • Authentic Foods All Purpose Bread Mix
  • ‘Cause Your Special Classic Muffin & Quick Bread Mix


Here are the ways to enter & win:

1.  Correctly guess the vegetable I have pictured above.

2.  Post your answer below & link back to your blog or tweet about it & let me know in the comments section.

3.  I will randomly choose a winner from the people who responded correctly.  Contest will run through midnight tonight (Friday).

Have fun and have a great Friday!!!!

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Gluten-Free & The Chocolate Factory

Yes, I said chocolate.  My all-time, hands down, favorite delicacy in the world.  I have been trying to make sure to keep the kids busy this summer to stave off boredom.  As a parent (and as all parents know) boredom = trouble.  Trouble comes in many forms.  They can range from mild bickering to full-out knock-down drag out fights & wrestling matches.  We were supposed to visit The Columbus Zoo & Aquarium yesterday, but the weather did not cooperate.  I couldn’t take another rainy day cooped up inside, so off to Anthony-Thomas Candy Factory we went!  Anthony-Thomas does free tours of their candy factory!  What a bonus!  They also have an on-site candy shoppe for purchasing multiple yummy treats on your way out. 


As we arrived, we were greeted by the amazing smell of chocolate!  I instantly knew that this would be a place that I would have to visit repeatedly.  The tour took about 20 -30 minutes, doable for kids (and adults) of all ages.  😉  Unfortunately there was no photography permitted in the factory, so I can’t show you any candy making shots.  I did learn all kinds of interesting facts today.

  • Anthony & Thomas are 2 names combined to make one company name. 
  • Anthony is the father of Thomas.
  • The business started out as candy making, soda shop & lunch counter, but the candy was so successful, that they decided to focus solely on candy.
  • Anthony-Thomas is still very much a family run business. 
  • Thomas has a daughter that he named Candy.  (I really got a kick out of that!)
  • Employees can eat as much candy as they like while they are at work!  (Enough reason for me to apply!)
  • Anthony-Thomas also does contract work for other candy companies.  They weren’t allowed to tell us who, so I was told when I asked, however, there was a label that I could see and it is one of the larger candy companies!  I was a little surprised by this.
  • Did you know that if you freeze chocolate, you need to put it in the fridge before you take it out to room temperature?  I learn something new everyday!

After the tour we obviously hit up the candy shoppe.  First we were treated to an amazing sample of the Buckeyes there were making today.  Heaven in my mouth!!!  So smooth & creamy. 

Here is the Buckeye that I ate:


Just kidding!  LOL!!  This Buckeye weighs in at 235 pounds and costs $3,500.00!


Hannah, my niece & my little sister, Regan.  Jon could not be bothered for a photo. 


The kids each had an allotted amount of money to spend on whatever treats they wanted.  It was not easy for them to make these choices, let me tell you!  LOL!  Heck, it wasn’t easy for me either, but I settled on Dark Chocolate Covered Blueberries & Dark Chocolate Covered Cranberries.  Also, Jon & I bought a 72% Dark Chocolate Bar to split. 

Here are some of Jon’s goodies ~ Cappuccino Truffle (note the ketchup, salt & pepper on his fingers from his fries!):




Truly a wonderful, gluten-free experience!  Great way to spend a good 1 – 1.5 hours and keep the kids happy! 🙂

Afterwards we went to Cheeseburger in Paradise, which wasn’t as good of an experience. 

A Disappointing Dining Experience

Another gluten-free blogger that I read wrote about a bad experience he had at Cheeseburger in Paradise.  He titled the entry “Cheeseblunder in Paradise”.    We experienced a “Cheeseblunder in Paradise” today as well.  This happened to be the Hilliard location. 

We met some family there after touring the Anthony-Thomas Candy Factory (post re-cap to follow).  We placed our order and the place was virtually empty.  This was surprising because it was lunch hour on a weekday.  While we did let the manager know that there were 2 gluten-free orders and he did follow them through, the service was extremely slow.  Jon ordered a salad, cheeseburger & fries; I ordered the mahi mahi sandwich (sans buns and not blackened), veggies (which I told would be a medley & ended up being just broccoli) and a salad.  My mahi mahi was horribly overcooked.  I don’t know what was going on there today, but for the amount of people that were in the restaurant, there was no reason for our food to take that long and for my fish to be that overcooked.  I even had my Dad try the fish to make sure that it wasn’t just me and he completely agreed.  When we were finally checked on by the server, I let her know.  She did offer to have it re-made, but by that time we had waited plenty long enough & having the fish re-made or ordering something else was out of the question.  The manager also stopped by and they did take it off my bill, it is just frustrating.  I did eat the broccoli, salad, some of Jon’s fries and some dark chocolate, but not the meal I ordered.  There are too many restaurants out there now offering gluten-free options to continue to frequent places that can’t get it right, regardless if it is a gluten issue or another issue. 

Edited to add:

Ben, from Cheeseburger in Paradise commented below regarding this experience.  Here is my response to Ben:

Hi Ben,


I apologize for taking so long to respond.  I really wanted to think about my response to your comment on my blog. 


The specific incident that I blogged about was not a gluten faux pas, but a general failure in customer service.  One would think that at lunch hour, there would be plenty of speedy service taking place, as most people only have 1 hour for lunch.  And not only speedy service is expected, but being staffed appropriately as well.  On the day we dined at CIP, the restaurant was dead.  There really was no reason for our service to take as along as it did, unless mistakes were made in the kitchen that we were not made aware of.  Overcooked fish, a different vegeatable than was ordered, though still gluten-free, no one checking back in the expected time frame, all contributed to the less than acceptable experience.    


Now, there have been several other incidents when we have dined at CIP where our gluten-free food order has come out with buns on the burgers or chicken.  We used to dine at CIP at least once a week for well over a year or 2, but have since stopped doing so.  The reasons isn’t necessarily due to gluten-free issues, but you get tired of eating the same thing over & over.  The one problem that seemed to be consistent was salads that were ordered had gluten-containing wontons in them.  Dressings were on the side or salad and there would frequently be other items from the line in the dressing (wontons, which aren’t gluten-free is a huge concern).  A way to avoid that is to get all gluten-free dressings straight from the container in the walk-in.  Also, better education for the staff on gluten-free dining and how to avoid cross-contaimination since you have a gluten-free menu.  There has been such a huge increase in the number of people following this diet due to the increased diagnosis of Celiac Disease AND the number of places that offer a gluten-free menu.  To keep comptetive with those other eateries, you need to make sure that your staff is knowledgeable & consistent regarding the menus & diet. Just because a person has to follow a gluten-free diet shouldn’t mean they have to settle on less than desirable food & experiences.  This diet is not a diet that is followed by choice (like Atkins or South Beach), it is a diet that is followed out of necessity for health & wellness.    


 I love the concept of CIP and would love to continue to keep it on my list of places to dine, but I have to honest, the service that we had was not overly convincing to return any time soon. 


Summer Lovin'

There is nothing better in the summer than fresh fruit.  All the fun varieties…I really can’t get enough.  I get so excited walking into a Farmer’s Market or produce department with rows & rows of fresh fruit.  I have really broadened my horizons over the past couple of years with fruit…just ask my family, I didn’t eat fruit.  Period.  And God forbid if fruit was in my food.  By food I mean salad, main dishes, vegetables, etc.  No, thank you.  That has all changed now.  I can’t get enough!! 


Some of my favorites:

  • Cherries (Bing or Ranier)
  • Plums (all kinds)
  • Pluots (cross between an apricot & a plum…awesome!)
  • Watermelon (seedless, please)
  • Cantaloupe
  • Peaches (all)
  • Nectarines (all)
  • Blueberries
  • Strawberries
  • Blackberries
  • Raspberries (Golden & Red)
  • Bananas (kind of a staple)
  • Figs
  • Grapes
  • Pears
  • Pineapple
  • Apricots
  • Cara Cara Navel Oranges (I save these more for the winter)

I have come up with all kinds of different ways to incorporate fruit into my food now.  Yes, it is now allowed to mingle with my other food.  😉   Some of my favorite ways to eat fruit:

  • Berries on salads
  • Cherries pitted & cut up on salads or in cottage cheese (this last combo is amazing!)
  • Pears on salads/sandwiches w/goat cheese or feta
  • Pineapple on salmon or spicy turkey burgers
  • Any of the above with Greek yogurt then topped with flax seed
  • On dry cereal (berries, bananas, plums & peaches)
  • In a stir fry or rice bowl mix
  • On top of peanut butter or almond butter toast or rice cakes
  • On top of oatmeal
  • In Chia Goodness cereal
  • On Ice Cream (berries are the best!)
  • Made into Ice Cream (Bananas)

I can come up with endless ideas.  🙂  The best thing about fruit?  You don’t have to research whether or not it is gluten-free.  A naturally gluten-free food is the best, in my opinion.  You are packing tons of nutrients when you eat fruit…fiber & vitamins that your body needs.  Whole foods are so much better for our bodies than processed junk.  Treat yourself right and grab some fruit today!

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Trader Joe's Almond Butter & Fruit Spread

Last trip to Trader Joe’s, I picked up some new Almond Butter & Fruit Spread.  I got the Raw Creamy Unsalted Almond Butter and also the Roasted Almond Butter with Sea Salt (which will be reviewed in a later post).  I was looking for my beloved Pumpkin Butter, but ’tis all sold out until fall.  I found a new fruit spread, though – Organic Superfruit Spread (a blend of Morello Cherry, Red Grape, Blueberry & Pomegranite).  I tried these both out this morning for breakfast on my brown rice cakes (I also spread them both atop my gluten-free Nature’s Path waffles the other day…YUM!). 


Trader Joe’s Raw Almond Butter spread on Trader Joe’s Brown Rice Cakes


Trader Joe’s Organic Superfood Fruit Spread on top of the AB


Both of these spreads are just amazing.  The almond butter is perfect.  It is less expensive than other comparable brands and I can get it locally, a huge plus in my book.  $4.99 is  much more doable than $7.99 – $10.99 + shipping costs.  I can almost justify my addiction now!  😉  LOL!  Great texture and a very slight sweet taste.  Spreads great even after being kept in the fridge.  A++++ in my book!  The Superfruit spread is unique and delicious!  Love the chunks of fruit!!  I much prefer fruit spreads to preserves because I don’t need sugar (or HFCS) added to my fruit, thank you.  I also don’t need artificial sweeteners added to my fruit, either.  Some brands of all fruit spreads have really disappointed me because there are no pieces of fruit.  How can you have fruit spread with no fruit?  I don’t want fruit juice spread.  I believe that this spread from Trader Joe’s was $2.99, a great price in my opinion.  The taste is awesome, as is the texture.  Lots of different flavors going on.  Trader Joe’s does it again!

Weekly Menu Plan ~ July 20, 2009

A quick update to my 10K post yesterday and then I will get down to business.  I got the official race results back just a little while ago.  I finished in 53:22; 25th overall (out of 79 people) and 2nd in my age group (out of 13 women).  🙂  Not too bad for my first race!  Now I have caught the bug!  I really want to do a few more races before my half in October.

Remember when I said last week that baseball was over?  I was sadly mistaken.  Jon had games last Monday, Tuesday & Wednesday night because they kept winning in the championships.  That isn’t a bad thing, but that is a lot of ball and the games were right at 6 PM every night.  Hard to do anything else or get to the field in time, etc.  Well, it is now over.  They did lose Wednesday night, but had an amazing season and played well.  This week doesn’t look too bad right now (I probably shouldn’t even say that, huh?). 

Sunday ~ The now weekly Rotisserie chicken, steamed green beans, sweet potato & salad

Monday ~ Sweet Thai Chile Salmon, buckwheat, asparagus & salad

Tuesday ~ Mom’s night out! Homemade Macaroni & Cheese for the family, baked beans & cut up fruit

Wednesday ~ BBQ chix, garlic rosemary potatoes or baked potatoes, broccoli & salad

Thursday~ Burgers on the grill, butternut squash fries, zucchini & salad

Friday~ Homemade pizza, veggies & salad

Saturday~ leftovers

Baked Goods

Pamela’s Bread

Pamela’s Bagels

Bob’s Red Mill Pizza Crust

May try out a Cherry Cake recipe using Bing Cherries!  YUM!

I hope you all have a great week!  Don’t forget to check out Orgjunkie for lots of menu planning ideas. 

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New Products

I am always on the look out for new, healthy, gluten-free foods and drinks.  I may find some of my new finds when I am out shopping or I may see them on one of the many blogs that I read or I may find out about them through one of my social networking sites.  I have found many new things that I like this way -things I may not have tried in the past.  The 2 most recent finds are San-J Thai Peanut Mildly Spicy Marinade & Dipping Sauce and La Croix flavored sparkling water. 


The San-J Thai Peanut Sauce is labeled “gluten-free”.  That is what first attracted me to the bottle.  The ingredients are “Kim friendly”, which you should know if you read my blog, that it is not only gluten-free, but onion free as well.  This sauce has a great flavor!  It does have a little kick to it, but nothing ridiculous like my beloved Sriracha.  🙂  I have used it to marinate my chicken in and then grill.  I have used it to dip my Spring Rolls in (Pei Wei Vietnamese Chicken Salad Rolls).  Anytime I want a little kick, I bring this sauce out.  A++++ from me. 


I have seen the La Croix Sparkling Water all over blog land and have wanted to try it.  First step was to make sure the “natural flavors” that are in the water are gluten-free.  Yes, they are gluten-free. I found the La Croix on sale at Target for $3/8-pack and got 1 lime & 1 cran-raspberry pack.  What a nice treat these are!  Cool, crisp & refreshing and a nice change from water.  These contain no calories, sweeteners of any kind or sodium.  I drink a ton of water, so it is nice to have once of these with lunch to mix things up a bit.  Another A+++++ from me!

Quick notes:

Anyone out there Twitter?  Twitter is still rather new to me, but I am slowly learning.  I feel really old when trying to learn all this new stuff!! LOL!  If you want, follow me on Twitter!

I have a new article up on the Examiner, so check it out if you have a chance! 🙂 

Have a nice Saturday night! 

10K & a Product Review

Ran my 10K race today. Unofficial time was 53:30. What an amazing feeling that was. My first race ever. The weather couldn’t have been more perfect; 60 and a light breeze. Odd that it was like Fall in mid-July. I was so nervous leading up to the start of the race. Once I got going, though, it all faded away. What a rush!!! As I was running the first mile or so, I realized what I was doing and actually had tears in my eyes (that actually happened again later on, too…who am I? LOL). I started out running at a 7:40 pace and once I realized it, backed off a little because I knew that I would never be able to pull that off for the whole race. I was passed early on by a girl in a burgundy shirt and she remained a good distance in front of me for most of the race. I could still see her most of the time, but through the trails in the woods, I did lose sight of her. Once we were running back around the lake, I vowed to myself that I was going to do all I could to pass her before we crossed the finish line. Well, I did it!! I have never felt like I was going to puke during a run before, but this time I did. I gave it all I had and it paid off. I was able to pass her and finish strong. (Never did puke, BTW 😉 )



After the race I chugged a whole bottle of water!  Boy, I was thirsty!  Normally I run on the treadmill and have water at my fingertips the whole time.  This was a change.  When I have run at the track at the school, it has been a much shorter distance and water was not needed.  Food was offered after the race…fruit, chips and bakery items, all courtesy of Panera Bread.  I have eaten at Panera bread since going gluten-free, but I was nervous about it here, at a race.  The fruit had all been cut up and I was very concerned about the cross-contamination with the bread products.  Luckily, I had some Sharkies with me, which leads me to my product review.


I have seen the Sharkies all over the place and have heard of runners using them for fuel during a race.  I didn’t need them during the race today, but wanted something quick & easy to tide me over until I got home for a real breakfast.  I was pleasantly surprised by how good these were!  Chewy & sticky, but what fruit chew isn’t?  There are a number of things I like about Sharkies:

  • Organic
  • Gluten-Free is noted on the box
  • Vegetarian
  • Real fruit for energy & endurance
  • A natural source of electrolytes
  • No HFCS (High-fructose corn syrup)
  • Ingredients you can read & pronounce
  • They taste GOOD!



I was able to get this box on clearance at Meijer for $3.00!!  There 5 packages in the box.  They are normally over $1.00/package.  If you are an athlete and have to follow a gluten-free diet, these are a great choice! 

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The News Appears True

Twitter & the gluten-free community has been buzzing the past day or so about the news that Starbucks is discontinuing the Valencia Orange Cake, the only gluten-free food offering on their menu.  They are replacing it with Kind Bars (a fruit & nut bar), which are rumored to be less expensive for the consumer.  This message from a Starbucks employee came across the Celiac Listserv this afternoon:

Hello ___________,

Thank you for contacting Starbucks Coffee Company.

I apologize, the gluten free Valencia Orange Cake has been

discontinued. Many factors go into the decision to remove something

from our stores, but I understand how frustrating it is when a

product you know and enjoy goes away.


I am sharing your desire to bring gluten free Valencia Orange Cake

back into our stores with the Food & Beverage team. I want you to

know that we listen to what our customers have to say and this can

affect change to our product line up. I appreciate you taking the

time to write and share your concerns.


I would also like to invite you to visit

This website is a forum where you can share your ideas, tell us what you think of other people’s ideas and join the discussion that will help shape Starbucks future. Many of the ideas shared have already been turned into action. If there are any questions or concerns that I have not been able to

address, please don’t hesitate to call us at 800 23-LATTE (235-2883), we are here Monday through Friday from 5:00 AM to 6:00 PM (PST).

Thank you again,

Shawn H.

Customer Relations

Starbucks Coffee Company

I have also read that they were discontinuing the cake because it seemed like more of a “treat” as opposed to a healthy snack/breakfast.  I kind of thought that was the point, but I could be wrong.  I carry Kind Bars in my purse almost all the time for emergency purposes, I don’t need to go to Starbucks to buy one. 

I am going to make sure to voice my opinion to Starbucks.  Lots of voices make changes.  If you are unhappy about this, make sure to let Starbucks know. 

UpdateSign this petition to help bring back the Valencia Orange Cake!

Product Review: Betty Crocker's Gluten-Free Yellow Cake Mix

Hip hip hooray!!!  Another gluten-free product from Betty Crocker!!  This was the last mix in their new line that I hadn’t had a chance to review.  I have had it for a while, but time just gets away from me sometimes.  I hate that!


This cake was super easy to make.  I took the butter out & set it on the counter this morning and then made the cake at lunch time.  It took less than 5 minutes to mix up & put into the oven.  I baked for 37 minutes at 350.  I used an 8 x 8 pan.  The cake came out great!!


Once the cake cooled, I frosted it with “Perfectly Chocolate” Chocolate Frosting.  By the way, this frosting makes enough for 2 cakes this size.  When I made the Devil’s Food Cake a few weeks back, I froze the extra frosting and then defrosted it today by placing the container in cold water (thanks Mom!).  The frosting tasted just as good as it did a few weeks back!

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.  **From the back of the Hershey’s Cocoa Can.


I want to start my review part of this post by saying that yellow cake is probably my least favorite of all cakes, however, nothing a little chocolate can’t fix, right?  This cake mix really impressed me.  On top of being really easy to make, it was really moist!  I normally add sour cream or Greek yogurt to my cakes to make them extra moist.  I did not do that today, because I wanted to follow the exact box directions for the review.  Now I can play around the next time I make it.  The taste was great, texture just like a “normal” cake.  Miss Picky Sassy Pants (aka Hannah) asked for a bite of mine before asking for a piece.  She ooooohhhed & aaaaaahhhhed over how good it was!  Now, that is saying something!  Jon also loved it.  Another hit from Betty Crocker!!  All thumbs up here from our household! 


Note for Ohio peeps or those who have Giant Eagle….these mixes were on sale yesterday for $3.99.  Not sure how long that sale is lasting.  Normal price at Giant Eagle is $4.29. 

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