Happy 14th Birthday Jon!!!

Today is my “baby’s” 14th birthday. I really can’t believe that he is finishing up middle school & getting ready to go into high school – I think I might faint. First, I can’t believe I am old enough to have a child/teen that is heading into high school. Second, I look at Jon and wonder where my baby went. Jon was born at 5:56 PM and weighed 8lbs 15oz. He gave us quite the scare during delivery, but all ended well, thankfully.

Look at those chubby little legs!!!

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He has gone from watching Winne the Pooh, to Rocket Power to ESPN. He is a die hard hockey fan & player. He is a natural athlete who enjoys just about any sport that he tries.

4 generations in this picture (Jon was 3):

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He is a great big brother to Hannah. Sure, they have their moments, but for being 6 years apart, they really do get along nicely.

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He is turning into quite the handsome young man.

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And is certainly showing his teen side for the photographers.

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We love him and hope that he has a wonderful day! HAPPY BIRTHDAY JON!!

I made a new recipe from the Live Gluten Freely website for Mexican Brownies for Jon & his friends to scarf down at his sleepover.

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This recipe was so easy! I just used a box of Betty Crocker’s Gluten-free Brownie Mix and Cinnamon Chex, then followed the directions. So good!!

Today we are having some family over to cook out 2 more years & my baby will be old enough to drive. Now, that is scary!

Product Review: Crave Bakery

I was the very fortunate recipient of some great complimentary products from Crave Bakery. Crave Bakery is located in San Francisco and makes gluten-free and casein-free products. Cameo Edwards started Crave Bakery in 2003.

Cameo Edwards started Crave, a wholesale San Francisco bakery, in 2003. The year prior had been a frustrating one of trying to determine the source of her physical ailments. At last, she discovered the culprit to be gluten. Looking at the options on the market, she was left craving all the yummy things she used to be able to eat. Even though her baking experience was limited, Cameo was determined to create delicious alternative desserts for herself that were wheat-free, gluten-free and casein-free (or milk-free). After much experimentation, the perfect brownie was born. And subsequently, the idea for sharing this gem with the public. With a delicious brownie recipe in hand and lots of passion, Cameo approached retail shops and the rest is history.

Crave’s philosophy is based on choosing simple, high-quality and organic ingredients. You also won’t find any trans fat or preservatives in our goodies. We have taken the time to carefully research all of our ingredient sources and feel confident about their practices. Supporting small, local producers and family-owned operations as well as choosing ingredients that are animal conscious, are priorities for us. Therefore, our eggs come from free-range, active, happy Petaluma chickens. Crave products are baked in small batches and delivered immediately because we are devoted to the flavor and integrity of our end creations.

I received a couple of Monster Cookies & Dark Chocolate Brownies. Jon immediately fell in love with the Monster Cookies. I was lucky to get a bite out of one. Threatening him with no more gluten-free goodie samples did the trick. 😉 I had to agree, they were quite tasty. Good texture, too.

Jon didn’t care as much for the Dark Chocolate Brownies, but that was fine by me! Him not liking them as much meant I could savor these all by my lonesome & not have to worry about him scarfing them down before I turned around! I loved the rich dark chocolate flavor & the dense texture. I am a fudgy brownie girl; no cake-like brownies for me.

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You can even see how dense & fudgy this brownie was. Is fudgy really even a word? It is in my book. 😀

Want to find some Crave Bakery products? Click here to see if they are in your area. Crave Bakery also makes custom gluten-free, dairy-free wedding cakes & cupcakes. Click here for more information. You can also order Crave Bakery Products online. All orders over $66 ship for free!

Thanks Todd & Crave Bakery for the wonderful samples!! We really enjoyed them.

Newsflash: New LaraBar Flavor!

Hot off the presses guys! I just got my April 2010 VegNewsletter and they reviewed the new Larabar flavors that will hit stores later this year – Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough, Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip & Chocolate Chip Brownie! They all use Fair Trade vanilla & cocoa. If these are anything like the PB & J, I will be in heaven! I love how the PB & J flavor really does mimic a PB & J sandiwch. Here is what the VegNewsletter had to say about the Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough:

One of the great joys of veganism is eating uncooked cookie dough without the worry of salmonella poisoning. Yes, it’s rare for any of the VN staff to actually bake a batch of cookies, despite our best intentions. The dough is just too tempting! Of course, eating your own weight in cookie dough isn’t exactly what we’d call the healthiest way to start your day, even if it is one of the most enjoyable. The solution? Larabar’s new Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough flavor. We discovered these goodies at Expo West, and can’t wait until they hit stores later this year. Hello. Far more nutritious than regular cookie dough, but just as delicious. That’s a win-win for us!

I can’t wait to get my hands on these new flavors!! Larabar, if you are reading, blog samples for review are happily accepted. 😉

Gluten-free Pasta – The Good, the Bad & the Ugly

If you have been gluten-free for any longer than a week or so, you know what my title is referring to. Pasta is a hard thing to replicate gluten-free. I don’t even notice any more that I am eating gluten-free pasta – it is just what I eat. I have become accustomed to it. It is good, don’t get me wrong, but is it the same as the gluten-filled pasta? I am sure there are many who can’t stand gluten-free pasta and refuse to eat it. I think it is all about finding what kind you like or can tolerate, if you want to eat pasta bad enough. There are so many choices on the market today, I find it hard to believe that there isn’t something out there for everyone.

Tinkyada -Brown rice pasta. Probably the most well known in the gluten-free market. Does very well with cooking, over-cooking & baking. Can be frozen & reheated without disintegrating.

DeBoles– Made from rice and rice & corn. This pasta is okay. I use it when there is nothing else available. It is very easy to find in grocery stores across the country.

Mrs. Leeper’s– Pasta made from corn or rice. I have never been a huge fan of Mrs. Leeper’s, but it may just be that I buy Tinkyada or Trader Joe’s most of the time. I have had the corn pasta & it is decent. Because I haven’t used it a lot, I can’t report on the reheating texture of the pasta.

Ancient Harvest -One of my favorites. Made from quinoa & corn. Higher in fiber than the other gluten-free pastas and a more in-depth flavor. All of the corn flours used are organic & non-GMO. Cooks & reheats well.

Glutino– Rice pasta. I have had this once or twice and it was much like the DeBole’s. Not bad, but not fantastic.

Bi-Aglut-Made from corn starch, potato flour, lupin flour & lupin protein. This pasta is amazing! It is also very $$ compared to the other pastas out there. I have only had this once or twice because I can’t bring myself to spend the $$ when Tinkyada, Trader Joe’s or Ancient Harvest are very good.

Notta Pasta-This is rice pasta, much like what is used in Thai dishes. I have now had this with marinara sauce & a stir fry that I made last night. The noodles are very good and they absorb the flavors that they are cooked with. There are different shapes – I was sent complimentary samples of the fettucine & spaghetti to try.

Trader Joe’s – Rumored to be Tinkyada in Trader Joe’s labeling. I don’t doubt it, as it is very similar in taste & I couldn’t tell the difference if you placed them side by side. This pasta is made from brown rice.

Do I have any favorites? Yes, but different pasta for different dishes. I like Ancient Harvest, Tinkyada or Trader Joe’s for traditional Italian dishes. I like Notta Pasta for Thai dishes, but it works well with marinara, too. For pasta salads, out of all of the above, Ancient Harvest is the best, but is not going to mimic gluten-filled cold pasta. It definitely has a much different texture when it is cold.

Here are a couple of dishes I made with the Notta Pasta.

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This dish was awesome! I made it up as I went along. It contained:

  • Notta pasta
  • Chickpeas
  • Spinach
  • Roasted zucchini & mushrooms
  • Peanut Butter
  • Coconut Aminos
  • EVOO
  • White Wine Vinegar
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Sundried Tomatoes

It turned out so good!! I didn’t measure the ingredients, I just created based on taste.

The next dish I made with the Notta Pasta:

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This was really good, too! It contained:

  • Notta Pasta
  • Chicken breast marinated in Italian dressing
  • Roasted eggplant
  • Spinach
  • EVOO
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Red pepper flakes
  • Red Hot
  • Sundried Tomatoes
  • Fresh grated parmeson

Again, so good! I love the noodles!! I will definitely be buying them in the future.

Do you have a favorite gluten-free pasta?

Waffles Winners

Try saying that 10 times fast! Waffles winners, waffles winners….okay, on to the good stuff.

Here are the winners:

Elissa Mahler
April 12th, 2010 at 10:20 am
I just became a fan and would love to win (facebook)

Meg
April 12th, 2010 at 2:33 pm
I LOVE berry pancakes…. with a TON of berries in them…. I think I miss ordering them at a dinner the most

Tracey Butler Allen just became an official fan on FB – but I’ve been one for a while through emails :)

Congrats to you guys!!!! Please contact me at kim@glutenfreeislife.com with your address so that I can get the coupons out to you ASAP.

Thank you to all who entered! Keep your eyes open for another fun giveaway towards the end of the week/weekend. :)

Live Gluten Freely Goodies

Imagine my surprise when I received a package from the awesome folks at Live Gluten Freely yesterday! The package I received was pretty much what you see here in the product boxes that can be ordered from the site & sent to a newly diagnosed friend or family member or as a pick-me-up.

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I love the information sheet that was included in the box. The sheet provides all kinds of tips on starting the gluten-free diet, what to eat & what to avoid.

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You all know about my love of Chex cereals, right? I was just thinking the other day how I needed to get some Honey Nut and here they showed up on my door step! The PB Cookie Lara Bar is one of my favorites, too!! And, while I was making fun of instant mashed potatoes on Facebook yesterday, I have been known to use these to thicken sauces or soups before when cooking gluten-free. It has been a long time since I have served them as potatoes, though. They also work very well as breading for chicken. It is nice to have them on hand.

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See that cake mix & frosting? That will be turned into cupcakes for the boy’s 14th b-day party sleep over. Easy & great tasting. $10 says none of the kids know they are gluten-free unless they pick up on the fact that Jon is eating them. 😉 Hannah has already broken into the Fruit by the Foot for her snack today. She doesn’t get fruit snacks often, so she was in heaven.

Sending out a huge THANK YOU to General Mills & Live Gluten Freely for this great array of gluten-free foods. I am surprised I haven’t broken into that frosting yet! 😉

If you want to order a box like this, go here and follow the directions. The cost is $24.99 + $9.99 shipping & handling.

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Panera Bread – Updated Gluten-Free Menu

It dawned on me the other day that it had been a while since I got an updated menu from Panera Bread. I went to their site to view the newest menu & compared to the list I had and it was outdated. I immediately sent out an email and just got this back from Pat.

Dear Kim,
Thank you for contacting Panera Bread.

I have included below a list of our menu items that do not contain gluten-containing ingredients. However, because we bake fresh bread daily in our bakery-cafes and bread is core to our menu, we simply cannot ensure that there has been no contact between these items, or any other menu items, and gluten.

Not all of the items listed are currently on our menu and some new menu items have not yet been evaluated for the purposes of inclusion on this list. However, you can find complete ingredients listings for current menu items on our website. (When you choose a menu item in our online Nutrition Calculator, click on the “ingredients” link for ingredients information for that item.)

Please note that nutritional information on our website is updated periodically. New products may be available in our bakery-cafes before a periodic update of this site. In addition, some menu items may be available only on a regional, test or seasonal basis. Nutritional information about these menu items is available at the participating bakery-cafes. Tests of new recipes of existing products may be conducted from time to time in certain markets. These new recipes may contain different/additional ingredients, including allergens, as compared to the original version. Nutritional information about these menu items is available at the participating bakery-cafes. For the most update-to-date information, please call or visit your nearest bakery-cafe to speak with a manager.

Thank you again for contacting us. We appreciate your business and value your comments.

Sincerely,
Pat
Customer Comment Coordinator

GLUTEN FREE LIST – Panera Bread **

**Although we try to meet your special requirements, we cannot ensure that these items have not come into contact with gluten in our bakery-café.

** Gorgonzola and bleu cheeses are commonly made with mold incubated on wheat. Some may choose to avoid these cheeses for this reason and you may substitute another cheese if you prefer. Items containing these ingredients are indicated below with (G) or (BC).

Salads: (including the salad dressing)
(source of modified food starch is corn)

Greek Salad Fandango Salad (G)

Caesar Salad (without croutons)

Grilled Chicken Caesar Salad (without croutons)

Mediterranean Salmon Salad

Salmon Caesar Salad (without croutons)

Asian Sesame Chicken Salad (without Won Ton noodles)

Classic Cafe Salad

Strawberry Poppyseed Salad

Strawberry Poppyseed Salad with Chicken

Fuji Apple Chicken Salad (G)

California Mission Chicken Salad

Orchard Harvest Chicken Salad (G)

Chopped Chicken Cobb Salad (G)

BBQ Chopped Chicken Salad

Soups:
Low Fat Vegetarian Black Bean
Cuban Black Bean and Lentil
Vegetarian Roasted Red Pepper & Lentil
Vegetarian Butternut Squash
Creamy Tomato (without croutons)
Low-Fat Vegetarian Southwest

Tomato & Roasted Corn

Turkey Chickpea Chili

Summer Corn Chowder

Low-Fat Chicken Tortilla Soup

Salad Dressings:
Balsamic Vinaigrette
Caesar
Greek
Poppyseed
Raspberry Vinaigrette
Asian Sesame Vinaigrette
White Balsamic Vinaigrette
Roasted Garlic &

Meyer’s Lemon Vinaigrette

BBQ Ranch

Beverages:
Coffee
Juice, both apple and orange
Lemonade
Milk
Soda, fountain and bottled
Tea, regular and Chai Tea
All lattes & Frozen beverages
Strawberry Smoothie
Hot Chocolate
Pumpkin Spice Latte
Gingerbread Latte
Panera Bread Potato Chips

I am especially excited about the Mediterranean Salmon Salad! I can’t wait to hit Panera & give this a try!

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Don’t forget – you only have until midnight to enter my contest to win a free box of Van’s frozen GF foods!!

King Arthur Flour – Gluten-free Line

King Arthur Flour now has a line of gluten-free mixes that includes, bread, cake, brownies, cookies, pancakes, pizza, muffins & a multi-purpose mix. I received 2 complimentary mixes to sample – the pizza mix & the multi-purpose flour.

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King Arthur Gluten-free Mixes are Certified Gluten-Free:

Our mixes, and some of our baking ingredients, are Certified Gluten-Free™ by the non-profit Gluten-Free Certification Organization (GFCO), a program of the Gluten Intolerance Group (GIG®). GFCO products are tested to be less than 10ppm (parts per million) gluten. This is stricter than even the FDA requirement of less than 20ppm gluten.

How can a flour company be absolutely certain no gluten gets into its gluten-free products? Are these products packed at King Arthur, or somewhere else?

Our gluten-free products are packed offsite, at a dedicated gluten-free facility. This facility processes only gluten-free foods, and all personnel are carefully trained in practices and procedures that support gluten-free manufacturing of food products.

There is a wonderful gluten-free recipes page on the King Arthur site. It is on that page that I found the recipe for the scones that I made with the multi-purpose mix. I did modify the recipe by omitting the dried fruit & adding mini chocolate chips in place of the fruit. I had promised Jon that the next time I made scones I would make them with chocolate chips & not raisins.

Pre-baking

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Ready to eat

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These scones turned out very well. I loved the flavor & texture – just like a scone should be. Jon loved that they were chocolate chip! The dough was very easy to work with. I was able to pick up the dough with my hands and shape into a circle to place it on the pan. I was then able to cut through it with a butter knife & separate the scones slightly before baking.

There are tips on the website for using the mixes. Perhaps I should have read them before preparing the pizza mix. The flavor of the mix was awesome – both kids raved about this crust. Even picky Hannah (who normally only likes Pizza Hut) said she liked the crust. The crust turned out a little thicker, which made it soft. I prefer thin & crispy. Had I read the tips below, I bet I would have liked the crust even more:

Be sure to lightly grease your baking sheet or pizza pan, then drizzle with olive oil. The oil will give the crust wonderful flavor and pleasantly crisp texture.

If you make a thick rather than thin pizza crust, expect it to be soft, not chewy.

Regardless, the crust was still very good and I enjoyed my veggie pizza on it. The mix was simple to prepare & I highly recommend it.

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I can’t even tell you how many pieces Jon ate that night. I can tell you that there wasn’t much left over & Aaron didn’t even eat with us! This mix makes 2-12 inch crusts or 1-14 inch crust.

King Arthur Flour mixes can be purchased online. If you buy 5 mixes you get 15% off right now. The mixes can also be found in stores around the US. Click here to find a store near you.

Thank you King Arthur for the samples & for a great new line of gluten-free mixes.

Waffles and a Menu Plan

It is another gorgeous day here in central Ohio. I hope that the weather is nice where you live. Yesterday morning I ran my longest run ever. I ran 18 miles. Phew! That took a long time. Just think, only 8.2 more miles to the marathon distance! I feel pretty good today with the exception of my calves being a little tight.

Another busy week on tap here. My baby boy, Jon, is turning 14 on Saturday! I can’t believe that he will be in high school in the fall. Where did the time go? We will be having a family get together this coming weekend and Jon will be having several friends spend the night on Friday. I fully expect to get no sleep on Friday night with a house full of teenage boys.

Sunday – Grilled chicken breast (on the grill!), quinoa pasta, alfredo sauce, spinach & salad

Monday – Take out or something fast – busy during dinner hour

Tuesday- Fish Tacos/Tacos, refried beans, corn & salad

Wednesday-Spaghetti with marinutta sauce, zucchini & salad

Thursday-Salmon, brown rice, broccoli & salad

Friday-Pizza for the boys

Saturday-Grilled burgers, chicken, corn on the cob, salad & fruit

Baked Goods

Cake or dessert for Jon’s party

Scones

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Have you ever tried Van’s Gluten-Free Waffles? I have been eating these on & off since I first went gluten-free 4 years ago. Van’s contacted me to see if I wanted to help get the word out about their new packaging. I love the new packaging!

wf bberry waffles fp

All of Van’s gluten-free foods have the same great taste as before, just in prettier packaging!

So, do you want to win a free box of Van’s Gluten-free frozen breakfast food? I have 3 coupons to give away – each coupon is good for 1 free box of Van’s Gluten-free breakfast food. Here is how to enter:

1. Become of fan of Gluten-free is Life on Facebook and leave a comment telling me you did = 1 entry.

2. Follow me on Twitter and leave a comment telling me you did = 1 entry

3. Leave a comment telling me what your favorite breakfast food is.

This contest will run until Tuesday at midnight – I will announce the 3 winners on Wednesday morning. Good luck!

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A quick recap of the busy week:

P.F. Chang’s is offering 15% off on Thursday, April 15th. Perhaps a change is needed in my menu plan for some Singapore Street Noodles.

McCormick recalls fajita seasoning due to undeclared wheat & milk.

Barney Butter is an excellent peanut-free alternative.

Whole Foods recalls tuna fin steaks.

I reviewed Rocky Mountain Organic Meats – great grass fed beef & lamb.

Redbridge Beer is being reformulated.

Gluten-free Chatter is on the rise.

Recipe: Aaron’s Chicken Soup with Rice.

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

Blueberry Coconut Bars – Gluten-free

Blueberries & coconut are 2 of my favorite things. Chocolate & wine are #1, but I’ll save that for another post. I was reading Tina’s blog, Carrots ‘N’ Cake, a week or so ago & saw Tina talking about Blueberry Coconut Bars. The recipe was naturally gluten-free!! I decided to give them a try the other day.

I did make some modifications:

The bars were super easy to mix up & bake. The kitchen smelled awesome while they were baking.

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Holy blueberry!!! Do you see the blueberries? Hands down my favorite part! These bars tasted phenomenal!! They were a little crumbly, but who cares! Even Jon, my picky, coconut-hating child, ate these! Of course I didn’t exactly share the ingredients with him before he chowed down! HA! He did detect the coconut, but it wasn’t enough to stop him from inhaling 4 bars when he got home from school. His only complaint? Too many blueberries! He said he loved the flavor.

Thanks Tina for a wonderful recipe!!

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