GFCF Muffin – Pick your own Flavour

I love muffins.  I love their ability to be like cake or bread and still be oh so tasty.  I love the variety that is possible and I love how portable they are.  I also love that they freeze and thaw wonderfully, making them a perfect snack choice for the GFCF diet.  I’ve been experimenting with muffins in the kitchen again and have determined that the following recipe can be made suitable for practically any flavour.  I’ve included the “base” and some ideas to spark your creativity:

GFCF Muffin Base

1.5 cups GF flour blend
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp xanthan gum
1/2 cup sugar

Whisk together the dry ingredients.  You can even store this in a glass jar for a “base” to save time.  To this add:

1/3 cup oil
1/3 cup applesauce (or just use 2/3 cup oil)
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla (optional, depending on flavour)
1 cup “fruit”
1/2 – 1 cup “add ins”

Add the wet ingredients to the dry.  Stir until just blended.  Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes.

So for the varieties:

Banana Chocolate Chip – 1 cup mashed banana, 1/2 cup chocolate chip

Pumpkin – 1 cup pumpkin, 1 tbsp cinnamon, 1 tsp nutmeg, 1/2 tsp cloves

Carrot – 1 cup grated carrot, 1/4 cup walnuts (opt), 1/4-1/2 cup crushed pineapple (opt), 1/2 cup raisins

Cranberry – 1 cup cranberry sauce (we use the leftovers from Thanksgiving), 1/2 cup nuts

Strawberry – 1 cup crushed strawberries

Applesauce – 1 cup applesauce, 1 tbsp cinnamon  (yes, in addition to the 1/3 cup above)

What else can you think of? Basically, you need another cup or so of wet ingredients to round out the mix & off you go.


Pick-a-flavour Muffins

Soft, moist and yummy. These are even good warmed up from the freezer!

So, apparently this runs in the family

Remember I said I was off to visit my parents this weekend?  Well, the GF went fine, I didn’t make a big deal out of it & didn’t really talk about it, other than to say I thought it was working.  My aunt was there and commented that her sister, mother, uncle and my dad all have the same “sun allergy”.  I knew my dad was sun-sensitive, but had not heard about everyone else.  Hmmm.  Maybe there is something genetic going on?

So, I’ve been trying to stay out of the sun a little more and wearing lots of sunscreen.  Up until my serious eczema outbreak, I was religious about sun protection.  But, doctor ordered “nothing but water” on my skin so I quit.  And, broke out in terrible rashes, especially on the left side – where my skin is exposed when driving…  Fortunately, a day of being out of the sun, my skin is clearing up really quickly.  My hands are still a bit red but nothing like they were pre-gluten free.

I’m trying not to get my hopes up that a GF diet could be a symptom manager for me.  After all, it has been 15 days, only slight infractions.  I’m not seeming to react to those, but it is hard to tell since my skin is not perfectly clear.  Maybe those little bits are hindering my progress.

But, I’m enjoying my new food lifestyle and it isn’t causing friction anywhere just yet.  I need some relief from this eczema and so far, the GF diet is doing it.

10 Days of Gluten Free – Results so far

If you’ll recall, I climbed back on the Gluten Free wagon 10 days ago due to a horrid outbreak of eczema that was threatening to have me rip off every bit of my skin.  My hands were red, raw, sore and starting to crack at all the joints.  I’ve been struggling with it in my scalp for over a year but that was “manageable”.  Then the eczema spread to my face.

Well, I admit it.  I am THAT vain.  I looked like I was crying, all the time, or that I’d spent several days in the Sahara Desert without sunscreen.  Or both.  Neither one is a pretty option.  So, 3 visits to the doctor later, I’m pretty much all cleared up in the face, but my hands….oh my hands.  Doc gave me an excellent cream for them and while it did work well, keeping the itch down, it wasn’t curing the problem, just managing the symptom.

What could I be allergic to?  So, I turned to the one diet I knew – GFCF.  I have to be very careful about my dairy intake, so I’m dairy free most of the time anyhow.  (Purists, I know this is NOT casein free, they are different.)  I simply made the decision to be GF and see what happened next.

And, my hands look so much better.  My scalp is still pretty irritated, but mostly I can live with that.  I think it will take a lot longer to heal up, since it’s been so long.  Plus, it’s very hard to treat, have you ever tried putting cream under your hair??

My next wondering is, do I dare challenge these results?  It’s been a long time to get desperate enough to try “anything” and I feel so good.  What if I gave this another 10 days & my head was not itchy?  What if my arms stopped having all the bumps?  Wouldn’t I feel dumb for wanting to challenge the diet?

So, even though this is going to be tough, I am going to keep on the GFCF diet for another 10 days.  I’m off to visit family on the weekend & don’t really want to “talk” about it.  But, it’s my parents, who’ve watched us use this diet to great success before.  I know they’ll be supportive.  I just don’t want to make a big deal out of it.

Spaghetti & Sauce

I’ll admit it.  This is the most basic recipe I’ve got.  The point is, Gluten Free cooking is not always hard.  Substitute brown rice or corn pasta for wheat, check your sauce for gluten and you are home free.  When in doubt, Spaghetti and Sauce is our go-to meal.  The whole family likes it, even when the kids are on a “sauce strike”, they just eat their noodles plain.

Over the years, I’ve learned a couple of neato tricks to making the classic even better.  Cook your pasta to just a little more firm than al-dente. You want there to be a little bit of “not quite done, 2 more minutes” quality to the noodle.  Drain and rinse pasta in cold water to keep it from clumping.  GF pasta is especially awful for this.  Then, dump your noodles into the sauce & let simmer together until the noodles are to your liking.  It tastes so much better and you don’t end up with such drippy sauce.

Spaghetti & Sauce

Enough dry noodles to feed your crew

GF Jarred Tomato Sauce.  Read the labels, every single time.

1 lb ground beef

Montreal Steak Spice, to taste.


Set a pot of water to boiling, with about 1 tsp of salt.  Add noodles when the water boils.  While noodles cook, scramble fry ground beef and sprinkle with Montreal Steak Spice.  You can add other seasonings, to your liking. Garlic, cumin, basil, oregano….be adventurous.  Drain and rinse when cooked through.  Add jarred sauce, taste and season if necessary.   Cut up some fresh mushrooms, if your kids will eat them.  Add to sauce.

By now, the noodles should be cooked to almost al dente.  Drain, rinse quickly under cold water & add to sauce.  Cook on med-low for another 2-3 minutes.

Set the table.  Serve with a smile.

Love Me Some LaraBars

DUDES!!!! I just found full boxes of LaraBars in my local Superstore for $16.00 a box!  They were on the end of the aisle, about 6 different kinds, Apple, Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip and Cherry (I think) plus others.  Me, I love the PBCC, so that’s what I bought.

I was a bit disappointed because they are not as fresh and moist as the ones I get from, (like they just came out of the “oven” practically) but hey, for $16.00, I am not going to complain!  That’s $1.00 PER BAR people, better than a chocolate bar!

I shoulda bought them out of their entire stock but that seemed a bit silly.  You know, maybe I could go back for a few more boxes later today….

Check your local Superstore - maybe they have the same deal!

Holy You Should See My Hands!

Now on to day 5 of Gluten free eating and my hands look so much better!  There are still red patches on my knuckles but the sore bits where the finger bends are starting to heal too.  I’ve been consistenly taking my Reactine, using cream 2x per day, trying to wear gloves and keep my hands dry….all the stuff you are supposed to do.  I’m not yet ready to declare GF a success, but something is finally clicking together.

I’m so happy that I started to take better care of myself.  I ran 3.5 miles yesterday, with a 4.5 miler on Monday, so I’m even treating my lungs this week.  I’m a little sore from the running, my mileage has really dropped off over the summer, but I’m determined to find myself in a healthier place over the next few weeks.  I’m hoping that a change in lifestyle will “stick” this time.

I’m also looking forward to a big city shopping trip and maybe some new clothes! on Sunday.  I’d rather go tomorrow, but the Fashion & Friends sale at Ricki’s starts on Sunday.  So, I guess that’s the day for me.  Keeps me from spending all day, so I guess DH will like that too.  I don’t really want to buy a lot of GF items, since I’m trying to stick to a less carbs more veggies diet – but I do need some pasta and a bit of GF flours, just so I can add variety.

One of these days I’m going to start posting recipes again with pictures!  Keep an eye on this space.

Gluten Free Outside the Home

I’m working on my 4th day of Gluten free eating & have encountered two semi-hard situations:  apple crisp from my sister in law (which I LOVE!!!) and birthday cake at work (which I sorta like).  The apple crisp was almost impossible to resist but I know this isn’t a “diet” to be cheated on.  The birthday cake was easier because the pieces are cut into giant sizes and my hips get wider just looking at them.

I just laughed and said “I am so NOT eating that” without any other explanation. I am losing weight (17 lbs since May 1st!) so if they all think it is a diet, let them.  Honestly, until I know that gluten free is clearing up my eczema for sure, it isn’t worth mentioning it to anyone.  I know my co-workers will be very supportive, but it feels like a “fad diet” to be telling everyone immediately.

I still haven’t told my family either.  Sounds dumb right?  The only meal we eat together is supper which is suprisingly easy to make GF.  My kids want hamburgers and hot dogs tonight and I can just eat a patty with no bun (homemade patty, that is) and they likely won’t even notice.  I have no gf bread or buns in the house, nor sweets, which is probably going to be awesome for my weigh-in next week – no sweets, no temptation.  I think I can “get away” with this GF trial for another couple of weeks since my husband is working late & we don’t eat together.

So, when I go grocery shopping in the city, I’ll be able to get a few GF breads/buns so that I can enjoy a sandwich or burger.  It is tomato season and a toasted tomato sandwich has to be one of my all-time favorites.  I’m also looking forward to trying my hand at real tomato sauce since we appear to have a bumper crop.  I tried making it once but did it too fast, I want to make real, Italian sauce, that takes all day to cook.  There’s no Italian blood in my veins but the way we enjoy their cuisine, there should be!