Gluten Free Casein Free Hallowe’en

The “worst” time of year to be a GFCF parent has got to be Hallowe’en.  So many treats, so many pitfalls. We all know our kids shouldn’t eat junk food, but “it’s just one night!” – is the argument you will hear (and possibly have with yourself).  So, what’s a concerned, careful parent to do?

The options, as I see them are as follows:

1.  Refuse to participate in the Hallowe’en candy begging.  This works if your kids have never “done” Hallowe’en and don’t know that they are missing out.

2.  Hallowe’en Fairy – have the kids leave their candy out for the Hallowe’en fairy who magically trades their candy for a coveted toy.  (My kids would rather have the candy)

3.  Sort the candy, once it is home & pick out what is “safe”

4.  Pre-distribute treats to the places you’ll be visiting.

Of the options, I have used both #3 and #4.  The problem with pre-delivering is that you have to stick to a pretty defined list of houses.  In my tiny town, the kids know everyone and like to vary their houses from year to year.  Plus I have to be very organized to help make this one happen.

Sorting the candy works pretty well, except you have to keep them from diving into the bag on the journey.  One way I solved this was to have a small pocketful of approved treats that could be enjoyed en route.  My kids were well trained by then to ask before anything went in their mouths.

Ideas for Approved GFCF Hallowe’en Treats that are annually distributed in our town (not sugar, soy, artificial or anything else free)

Sunmaid Raisins
Rockets
Coke, Pepsi or other
Juice boxes
Old Dutch Chips (they say “Gluten Free” right on the package!)
Starburst candy
Skittles
Sour Patch
Nerds & Runts
Jelly Belly jelly beans (but not the unknown kinds!)
Most gum
Suckers/Lollipops
Lifesavers
Jolly Ranchers
Welch’s Fruit Snacks (and they don’t get their cars egged either.  go figure….)

If you want chocolate, you’ll have to look to Enjoy Life for their chocolate bars. They are pricey but so worth it!

There are lists on the internet of safe treats, but often they are just GF, not GFCF.  Also, has anyone actually ever gotten some of those weird candies on Hallowe’en night?  (Except from the creepy, cheap old lady in the house that smells like cats??)  The above list is the real deal Moms & Dads.  My kids get most or all of these things in their treat bag every year.

If you aren’t sure about a treat, my advice is to not feed it to your kids.  Maybe set it aside for grown-up testing….or phoning the company the next day.  You know, whatever works best in your house.

GFCF on a Tight Budget

There is no doubt about it.  Being gluten free, casein free is a whole new grocery store experience.  Gone are the 10 cent packages of ramen noodles (not that they were ever a nutritionally sound choice anyway), say goodbye to el cheapo bologna, adios to 99 cent Wonder Bread.  Hello $3.99 for spaghetti that never goes on sale, hmm, maybe to certified gf deli meat and are you NUTS!! to $7.00 bread.  With pricing like that, it’s no wonder parents are scared off this particular intervention.

There are ways to make this lifestyle change less taxing to the family purse, though it does involve a lot more work on Mom and Dad’s part.  It means whole foods, cooking from scratch, little to no reliance on packaged foods…truthfully, the exact same thing that any good “money coach” such as the wonderful Gail Vaz Oxlade would tell you.  So, don’t sit there feeling sorry for yourself…

Keeping to a tight budget means figuring out what is a “want” and what is a “need”.  This IS different in every house.  My children would tell you that a cookie in their lunch is a need.  I would argue that point, but they still get a cookie most days.  When we switched to “Enjoy Life” chocolate chips, I loved that they are mini, so I use 1/2 a much.  (Good thing too because the bag costs more than double!)

Here are some of my best budget tips:

- Watch for sales on produce and never buy more than you will eat (or freeze).  A great deal on mangoes isn’t so great if you throw some away.  Buying in season fruit does make a difference but even I will sacrifice the budget elsewhere to buy Eric mandarin oranges as often as I see them.  It’s what he likes best and they almost never go to waste.  I do find vegetables to be much less expensive, by volume, than fruit.  Of course they are more work, chopping, peeling and etc that it is easier (and sweeter) to reach for fruit!

- Carrots last a long time in the fridge so watch for sales.  (Make muffins or cake if you have too much!)

- Old bananas taste best in banana bread and can be frozen, in the skins and peeled later if you are short on time.  These are a great money saver for us.  Why pay 80 cents a pound for good ones and let them go old at your house?  (Usually they are 1/2 price or less!)

- Potatoes kept in the dark will keep for months – at this time of year, I can buy a 50 lb bag for $20.00 or less

- Less tender cuts of meat in the slow cooker taste just as good as expensive cuts in the slow cooker, so why not save a bit here?

- Watch for 2 for 1 deals if you shop at Superstore – I have scored soy yogurt, soy milk and almond milk on this method several times

- Know when your Bulk Barn or natural food store has a scoop and save sale.  One store we like has a 20% off what you scoop the last Saturday of the month

- Buy your rice in bulk size – those giant bags do last a year (I keep mine in the freezer). The last one I bought was about $15 – or less than the cost of 3 small bags of Uncle Ben’s that last about two months.

- Buy plastic storage containers (reusable) that you can freeze individual portions in.  Make a recipe, portion out for lunch, label and freeze.  Instantly you have a GFCF microwave meal.  I do this once a month and eat wonderful meals every day at work.  This keeps you out of the grocery store or restaurant at lunch.  This one tip has already saved me at least $20.00 this month.

- Remember that any food not in its “whole” state is processed and you are paying for that – think about stewed tomatoes, canned beans, soup, bouillion.  Maybe you don’t want to do everything from scratch, but this is one small place to look for savings.  You can buy a bag of white beans for about $2.00 – or buy (maybe) 2 cans.  That bag of beans will make much more than the 2 cans.

- Stop throwing away food.  When you do, try to estimate how much money you are putting in the trash can. (and I’m not talking about the food your kids don’t eat!)  If you toss an apple past its prime, think about the cost- is it $1.00?  How about the last lonely sausage or a 1/4 chicken breast?  Take time to measure (or weigh) the food you threw out.  Check at the store for prices if you aren’t sure.  Would you throw away $10.00?  Then why are you throwing out food?

 

I hope that is helpful.  We have a “clean the fridge” day for supper regularly, just to stop throwing out food.  I’m not perfect yet, I tossed out $5.00 (in lettuce and forgotten fruit) today.  Sigh.  That’s at least a package of Tinkyada pasta and a Lara Bar.

Gluten Free Lunch

Yum. Yum.  I remembered to bring my lunch to work today, except it is nothing EXCEPT sweet and sour slow cooker beef.  No rice, no potato, no starch, no vegetable.  I even wrote “S&S Steak” on the lid. I guess when I did up the container I meant to put in the rice….Sigh.

Since bread is too expensive to “waste” on lunch, especially when there are toasted tomato sandwiches at home, I’ve been exploring other lunch ideas.  Of course, I should be eating more salad, my pants are getting a little snug!  But a person can only eat so much bunny-food.  Some of my favorite combinations:

- Stir fried chicken with rice and vegetables, or for a fun change, with shrimp. OR, what the heck, have chicken and shrimp. VH sauces are GF, except for teriyaki, which I never liked anyhow.

- GF pasta with fresh tomato sauce (can you tell I’ve got a lot of tomatoes right now?)

- Homemade beef and chickpea soup – be sure to look for GF beef broth/boullion when you make soup

- Fruit salad with a side of yogurt – Soyjoy is a nice brand if you do soy yogurt

- GF lasanga (for those who can do dairy, I think soy cheese is awful) – I’m trying Houston enzymes with my dairy, I do miss it.

- Chickpeas (cold) mixed with ranch dressing.  Maybe I’ll try edamame beans too.

- Leftover pancakes with sandwich filling.  I love doing this – it makes a sandwich so much fun.  I find this works best with PB& J unless you cut the sugar to nil in your pancake recipe.  Sweet and salmon just don’t go together for me.

And, when in doubt, some Old Dutch potato chips…they are stamped Gluten Free right on the front of the bag so there’s no guessing required.

 

Hope that inspires some lunch ideas for you too.

21 Days Gluten free

I am now 21 days gluten free.  I feel like I should be saying that in a meeting or something.  My name is Michelle and I am 21 days GF….  My face has improved, my hands are not read and bumpy anymore and I’m only 1/2 scratching my head, as opposed to constantly.  But, my fingers are still cracking a bit and I’ve got new rashes in places I didn’t have before.  So, this is a bit of a mixed bag, I’d say.  Fortunately, the cream from the doctor seems to relieve it.  Unfortunately, the cream is running out.  Of course, if I actually remembered to take my anti-histamine everyday I might be further ahead.

I did find a couple of coping strategies that are helping – crazy glue to close up the cracks on my fingers and being completely dry after bathing.  Sounds funny right?  My SIL mentioned she gets rashy under her rings if she doesn’t take the time to completely dry her hands.  And do you know, mine do the same thing.
Maybe that will be helpful to someone else, so I mention it here.

We’re off to the city today for a dentist appointment.  I’m off to Safeway for more Udi’s bread and Bulk Barn for more flour.  I’m out of rice flour, so no blends for me until I get that sorted out!  Which means no more cinnamon buns and I love those little babies.  I’m hoping to make it to Sobey’s too and check out their GF selection.  I love how the store has a dedicate (1/2) aisle for GF foods, even though you can find them mixed in too.  It just makes it so much more “normal”.

If I find anything cool, I’ll be sure to share!

Make it Gluten Free!

One of the hardest parts of being GFCF is trying to create “normal” food – the old favorites, the stuff your kids and spouse can’t live without.  Sure, you find new things, but there’s always something that just isn’t the same without wheat.  Chocolate chip cookies are my downfall, they aren’t quite as good GF.  So, I just don’t really make them very often now.  PB & choc chip, yes and since they can’t go to school…more for me.

However, then there are the foods that with just a little tweak, become GFCF and any other free you need to be.  Think about spaghetti – you can get corn, rice, quinoa and I’m sure other grain varieties of pasta.  Cooked in a separate pot, same sauce as the family and volia!  Gluten free.  Roast beef supper – change out the flour for cornstarch in your gravy, gluten free.

Or, in the case of dessert requested by Eric – Oreo pie…  We made a “regular” oreo crust plus a bowl of Kinninnick chocolate crumb crust for me.  And, no I don’t think that the cool whip we used is CF, but Nutra-Whip is. Right now, I’m “milk free” but not casein free.  It did turn out really well.  I should have used soy milk to test the pudding, but didn’t have enough so suffered a little tummy trouble for the milk in the pudding…but the point is, here’s a regular dessert that can be made compliant with only small changes.

Next time, I’m doing my own pudding pie and setting them out for a side-by-side taste test.  If there’s no difference, and there usually isn’t, we’ll be making GFCF pudding pie from now on…

And if you are wondering, here’s the “recipe”, courtesy of the Oreo crumbs box:

Oreo Pudding Pie

1.5 cups oreo crumbs (use Kinnikinnick chocolate crumbs for GF status!)
1/3 cup margarine

Melt margarine, add crumbs and stir.  Pat into a pie plate or springform pan.  *I would suggest greased pan as the little bugger stuck like crazy*

1 pkg (4 serving) chocolate pudding
1.5 cups milk
2 cups Cool Whip

Beat pudding and milk until thickened.  Fold in Cool Whip.  Spread on top of crust.  Chill for 30 min and serve.  Try not to lick out the bowl, you’ll end up with some of it on your nose.

Feels Like Sunday (Pancake Recipe)

It’s a bit rainy and miserable looking today and even though it is Saturday, it feels like a Sunday.  It could be because I’ve been off work for a week, so my days are all goofy.  But either way it feels like a Sunday.  And you know what that means?  Sunday Brunch.

No, not the kind you go out for.  The kind I make.  Eggs, bacon, toast, hashbrowns, potatoes…yummy.  I think we’ll be skipping the hashbrowns, I’m not wasting new potatoes on those.  I’m thinking about pancakes though, yummy pancakes, gluten free, yes the two go together.  Here’s a super easy one that I like to take on the road with me.  Yes, I travel with a small container of xanthan gum – that way I can always sneak in a kitchen & whip up something that will be safe, without causing my hosts too much bother!

Cornstarch Pancakes

1.5 cups cornstarch
1 egg
1 tbsp baking powder
1/8 cup applesauce
1/8 cup oil
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp sugar
1 cup vanilla milk sub (or plain)
1/4 tsp xanthan gum

Mix all ingredients very well.  It is a thin batter that thickens on standing (that’s your xanthan gum at work!).  Ladle out about 1/4 cup per pancake onto a hot frying pan.  These are very pale pancakes and will golden up nicely.   These freeze very well and make a great PB&J sandwich too.  Makes between 8-12 pancakes.  If you want, add more milk to thin them & you can almost make crepes from this recipe.  (Maybe you actually can, I couldn’t get wheat crepes to work either…)

Simple, tasty and fast. Enjoy!

Cinnamon Buns

I just finished making and eating the most amazing Gluten Free Cinnamon buns.  I’d love to take credit for the recipe, but that would be stealing and very wrong.  So, instead, I’d like to introduce you to another Canadian gluten free blogger who should be crowned for sainthood, just for discovering and sharing this most amazing cinnamon bun.

People, these are incredible fresh.  They are awesome reheated from frozen.  They are not hard to make and they taste as good or better than their wheaty counterpart.  How do I know this?  Well, I cheated.  I ate a “real” cinnamon bun after making several dozen for my whiny family.  And, my thumb got rashy and my tummy hurt. So, there you go, learn from my stupidity, these GF cinnamon buns are the real thing.

Please, allow me to introduce you to The Baking Beauties and her Cinnamon Bun recipe.  You could thank me, but first, swallow the last bite and wash your hands.  Keyboards and cinnamon sugar just don’t mix…