If you've been reading my blog, you know by now that in the past I haven't been much of a plan-ahead type of person. If you're gluten free, this doesn't always work too well. I am finally learning from my mistakes (I hope) and decided to really look into gluten free options before
our trip to Disneyland last week.
The first thing I did was check out what they have on the Disneyland website. Under the "Where to Eat" tab on the homepage, I didn't find much information. I typed "gluten free" in the search bar and found a page full of information for various allergies (Food and Allergy Info for Disneyland).
For the gluten free, while Disneyland leaves it up to the guest to use their own judgement in terms of cross-contamination, you can speak to the chef to decide for yourself. Best of all, there is a list of gluten free options for the park which you can pick up at the City Hall building.
When we arrived, City Hall was our first stop. As we took a look at the gluten free list, we got very excited. There were so many options and we had two days to try lots of them.
While I went off on a quest for coffee, Emilia and Sarah stopped by the Jolly Holiday Bakery where Emilia tried the gluten free brownie. It was prepackaged, prepared at a gluten free facility, so we knew there was no risk of cross-contamination, and Emilia really liked it.
It was a beautiful October day with perfect weather and a relatively small crowd. We made our way to our favorite rides and enjoyed the morning. We were soon hungry for lunch so we looked over the list and decided to try out the turkey sandwiches on gluten free buns at the River Belle Terrace. When I asked for the gluten free buns at the counter, to my surprise, the chef came from the back and assured me the sandwiches were being prepared on a clean, contamination-free surface. He informed me the buns were Udi's and made sure I was okay with that. He also let me know the side items that came with the sandwich were gluten free as well. That alone had me impressed. But when we tasted the sandwiches, wow! The buns were soft and moist, with fresh, delicious turkey. We left the cafe full and happy.
We made our way to the Pirates of the Caribean and went straight on without a wait. The Haunted House was only a five minute wait. It was turning
out to be a perfect day.
From the list we found out what items from the
outdoor vending carts were gluten free. We enjoyed cotton candy and popcorn. I know, not very healthy, but we did have turkey for lunch!
We ate dinner at a restaurant outside the park and returned the next day for round two of
Back at the Jolly Holiday Cafe, we found gluten free chocolate chip cookies and blueberry muffins. Like the brownie, they were prepackaged, but really good.
We had lunch at the Carnation Cafe. It's a
sit-down restaurant, with relatively reasonable prices and awesome waiters. We had burgers on gluten free buns. The waiter asked if we were celiacs, which I found very impressive. He brought out the big burgers. The meat was very good on another yummy bun!
We were so full, we weren't hungry at dinner
time, so we got some hot chocolate at the Jolly Holiday Bakery and found a table with a great view of the parade.
Our feet and bellies could handle no more, so we made our way out of the park. There were many more options we didn't get to try, but we're looking forward to more fun-filled gluten free days at the happiest place on earth!
This weekend was a whirlwind! Saturday, I did laundry and tried to catch up with my life. Later, it was the homecoming dance and our evening was filled with fun pictures, chauffeuring kids to dinner and then to the dance. On Sunday, the princesses were in a Renaissance fashion show. It was beautifully done and great fun, but an all- day affair. Between shows, I ran home to cook gluten free quesadillas and bring them back to the girls as well as running errands. Then there was the new cell phone fiasco which I won't even go into except to tell you it took another hour, and I still had to go to the store to get ingredients for dinner. After all that, I was exhausted! Usually, I would cave and get food from out but Emilia begged for my home cooking. When your child begs for your cooking, how can you refuse?
I had all kinds of ideas, but it was already 7:00 when I got home with the groceries. So, for a quick fix, I made gluten free pasta with olive oil, balsalmic vinegar, garlic, basil, tomatoes and green olives topped with feta cheese. It's a very simple recipe we got years ago off a bottle of red wine vinegar.
Gluten Free Pasta with Tomatoes, Green Olives and Feta Cheese.
Cook up a package of gluten free pasta. While the pasta is cooking, chop up 10 roma tomatoes. Slice about a cup of green olives in half. Next, warm up 10 tablespoons of olive oil in a skillet. Add a few chopped garlic cloves. (I use the prechopped in the jar, about a teaspoon and a half). Let the garlic cook for just a minute, then add 5 tablespoons of balsalmic vinegar. Let it bubble and turn off the stove. Add tomatoes to the pan and 2 to 3 tablespoons of basil or oregano. Stir to coat tomatoes. Add in green olives and stir again. Put about half the noodles in a large bowl. Add the tomato mixture. Add more pasta to make a ratio of your liking. Taste and add more vinegar if needed. Top with feta cheese.
Maybe I was delirious with fatigue, but I got really crazy while the main dish was cooking and baked an apple pie. I used Arnel's pie crust
. I'm not the best with pie crust, but a good tip is to roll out the dough between two pieces of wax paper. The apple pie recipe
is from about.com
It may not look perfect, because I just don't have that much patience, but it tasted great! It was warm, with just enough cinnamon and nutmeg to bring on hints of autumn.
I really didn't feel like cooking, but we had a great dinner, much better than take out, and best of all, we have leftovers for tomorrow night!
It’s dinner time and you’ve been running around all day and come home exhausted. The fridge is
pretty empty because it’s the end of the week and you are out of options and energy. So now what?
Got some pasta, a little cheese, butter, garlic powder? Guess what? You have dinner! And in even better news, it will be ready in less than twenty minutes.
Here's what you do: cook up your favorite gluten free pasta. We like Trader Joe’s Brown Rice pastas. Rinse pasta and return to the pot. Throw in a few generous scoops of butter and turn the heat back on low. Mix until the butter is melted. Sprinkle in some garlic powder to taste. Now add a few generous handfuls of grated cheese. We like parmesan or cheddar. Continue mixing over low heat until the cheese is melted and has a creamy consistency. If you have any leftover cooked vegetables, throw them in as
well. Serve with carrots and dressing or fruit and presto-you have dinner!
All teenagers eat pizza. This is a fact. And if your teen is at a party and someone orders pizza, and she can’t have any, well that just sucks. It might not seem that important to some people, but to your teen, it really is. I mean, put yourself in her place: laughter, pjs, music, the smell of garlic, cheese and pepperoni. Everyone else is enjoying a big slice of pizza while you nibble on a piece of lettuce like a rabbit.
Okay, maybe I’m exaggerating. There might be some chips and salsa or something, but you get the idea. So what to do?
Years ago, when we first joined the quest for good gluten free options, pizza was a problem. There were a few premade crusts, but to be honest, they tasted like cardboard. All the sauce, cheese and toppings in the world couldn’t cover up that non-foodlike consistency. The only option was making your own crust, which was very time-consuming, and you really had to plan way in advance. This doesn't work out too well if your teen comes on a Friday after school asking if she can go to a slumber party that night. It’s called spontaneity. It’s called life.
But thanks to recent public awareness of us gluten free warriors, there are now many options. So here they are:
First of all, the premade crusts have improved immensely. We enjoy Kinnikinnick brand frozen crust. Udi's also has a really good frozen crust.
FRESHLY BAKED CRUSTS
Some health food stores are now offering freshly made crusts.
This one is from Whole Foods Market. See what your neighborhood healthfood store might have to offer.
Making crust from a mix is a lot quicker and
easier than it used to be. The Gluten Free Pantry, King Arthur, Namaste, Bob's
Red Mill, Arrowhead Mills all have pizza crust
Easier said than done. But if you are the kind of person who thinks ahead (and I'm not one
of them), you can prepare pizzas ahead of time and keep them frozen in your freezer.
Best of all for our household, Dominoes now has gluten free pizza!!! And…it is actually GOOD! There are some drawbacks. Like most other restaurants offering gluten free pizza, it's more expensive. And Dominoes has a disclaimer that the pizza is not prepared on gluten free equipment, so there may be some traces of gluten. Unfortunately, this is probably not a good option for those of you with celiac. However, many restaurants are becoming aware of cross contamination making a quick and good gluten free pizza possible. One of our favorites is Red Brick Pizza. They have many gluten free options and state on their website that they "utilize a separate bake and prep process." So far, they have locations in California, New Mexico and Texas. Hopefully, there will be more to come soon. But do check online for gluten free pizza options near you. And let us know what you find!
No need to be deprived anymore. No more pizza panics. With so many possiblities, there is no reason for you or your teen to go without.
Gotta go now. All this talk of pizza is making me crazy and I will now go order some, because I can!
Spontaneous pizza is now a possibility!
Before going gluten free, we spent many afternoons at our local Barnes and Noble, looking through books and having a treat from the coffee counter. The blondies were our favorite. If you've never had one, blondies are a vanilla cookie bar. They look like blond brownies, hence the name.
When Emilia was diagnosed, she was pretty bummed out that she couldn't have a blondie anymore. But life goes on.
Then, over the summer, Emilia was at a rehearsal and and there was a Whole Foods Market nearby. I decided to stop in and see what was new. The Namaste
products always catch my eye because their baking flour is so incredible. But I started dancing in the aisle when I came across their Blondie Mix!!!! At first, the seven dollar price tag shocked me until I looked closer and saw it makes two batches. $3.50 isn’t bad for a gluten free mix. I’m not sure you could make them from scratch for any less. So into the
cart it went.
They were easy to make, just add water, eggs and oil. Of course we threw in some M and M’s, because that’s how we like them. You could add chocolate chips, or butterscotch chips, or just bake them plain.
If you have any leftovers, and we never do, you can crumble them up and add them to vanilla ice cream for your own cookies and cream. Or pack them up and bring them to your favorite bookstore!
Even Gollum likes them.
A few weeks ago, Aunt Julie and Uncle Jeff had our family over for a gluten free dinner. Cooking gluten free when you're completely unfamiliar with it can be a frightening quest. But this meal was so good, we are going to make Aunt Julie and Uncle Jeff honorary warrior princesses, although I'm not sure how Uncle Jeff will feel about wearing a tiara.
Uncle Jeff made barbequed curry chicken (so tasty!) and the lovely Aunt Julie outdid herself with a fresh, summer salad and rice. But the dessert was so good, we’re still dreaming about it weeks later.
The puffy cloud of delight nestled beneath juicy berries is called a pavlova which is basically a large, meringue cookie. I have never been a big fan of meringue, but to my surprise it was light, crunchy and deliciously vanilla. The fresh summer berries were sweet and juicy, and don’t get me started on the homemade whipped cream. You can find this delectable dessert on the Sunset Magazine
(Time Saver Tip
: If you don’t feel like making fresh cream, pre-made whipped cream would also suffice).
Pleased princess eating Pavlova.
Even though it can be difficult for friends and family to understand gluten free
living, Uncle Jeff and Aunt Julie proved making a gluten free meal doesn't have
to be difficult. You can make a simple, but elegant meal that everyone can
enjoy, not just the gluten-freers. And you don’t even have to buy any special
products to do it.
So thanks again to our family for
being so wonderful and understanding. We are so lucky!
I'm dressed in my armor, my trusty steed and I ready to face our foes. I brace myself, lance in hand, as the sound of my enemy's thunderous approach rattles the very ground I stand upon. In the horizon, I see them...the dragons, fiery and fearsome. I know them all by name: Amaranth, Corn, Millet, Sorghum, Rice, Potato, Quinoa...there are just too many! I...can't....defeat....them....
And then I remember...I am a Gluten Free Warrior Princess. I can do this! These foes I battle are not dragons. They are merely bags of flour. And they're really not so tough either...once you get to know them.
Okay, I might be getting a little carried away listening to Epic Soundtracks as I write this post. But really, when we were first diagnosed, I remember staring at all those different flours in the health food store and feeling a bit...well faint.
Some of the recipes we came across required a large variety of flours. If you have them in your pantry or can afford all of them, more power to you. I'm not saying it can't be done. But if time is an issue, or you want to make something and you don't have that particular flour in the cupboard, oftentimes substituting a pre-mixed flour does just as well. It's trial and error-sometimes a substitution works great, sometimes it doesn't. But for a great mix, I like Bob's Red Mill All Purpose Gluten Free Baking Flour.
You can find it in most retail grocery stores and health food stores. It's a great substitute for cookie recipes, among many others.
Another favorite is Namaste Perfect Flour Blend. I haven't found this brand in many stores yet, but it is absolutely outstanding. I've substituted it in the traditional Toll House chocolate cookie recipe and they come out perfect every time.
For thickening broths and sauces, any white rice flour will do quite nicely. Corn starch also works well in many recipes, especially to thicken a sauce for a stir fry.
So never fear fellow Warrior Princesses. You too can slay the mighty dragon we call gluten free flour. It really isn't that big and frightening after all. If we can do it, so can you!
I hear the "Lord of the Rings," theme playing. Think I'll go practice my jousting.
Happy cooking and Huzzah!
Have you found any good flour shortcuts. We'd love to hear from you!!!!
It’s so nice in the summer, to be able to make lunch at home. We can whip up some risotto or pasta and everyone is happy. But when school starts, lunch is a whole different story.
My girls do not like to eat in the cafeteria. They don’t like the crowds and would rather bring lunch from home. I’m not blaming the cafeteria. In fact, I just contacted the cafeteria manager of our school district and found out they do, in fact, have gluten free options each day. I was really pleased to find that they even created their own recipes for gluten free bread and pizza crust. We are definitely going to revisit the cafeteria this year.
But maybe the cafeteria isn't an option for you, or at least not everyday. And if you are new to the gluten free world, or just plain out of ideas, you might find yourself facing a big, empty lunchbox feeling a bit overwhelmed. Let me tell you right now, you are not alone. So let me share some of the options we've come up with over the years.
PBJ Without the B-Spread thin corncakes (we get them at the health food store) with peanut butter and jelly. Emilia is intolerant to peanuts, so we use sunflower butter. So good! You can also use regular rice cakes which can be found at the grocery story, but it’s difficult to get to the good stuff because they are so thick. If you like lunchmeat, you can also build a nice sandwich with the corncakes. Of course, if you like gluten free bread, you can make some good sandwiches with that as well. So far, only fresh-baked works for us.
Deli Roll Ups
-Roll thin slices of cheese in deli meat such as turkey or salami. Store in Tupperware to keep roll shape.Leftover Pizza
-Because who doesn’t love cold pizza? If not, check and see if your school has a microwave for student use.Deviled Eggs
-They are not just for the holidays and a great protein boost.Hummus Dip and Carrots
-It’s hummus. Need I say more?Chopped Veges and Ranch DressingFruit salad and YogurtSlices of Various Cheeses
-Trader Joes has great cheese options. The mini bries are fun, along with the string cheese and Babybels (peeling off the red wax paper is delightful).Gluten Free Nutrition Bars
-Trader Joes has a list of gluten free bars on their website along with all their other wonderful gluten free options. http://www.traderjoes.com/lists/no-gluten.asp Gluten Free Chex Mixhttp://www.chex.com/Recipes/CategoryView.aspx?CategoryId=447&t=5 Chips and Salsa Treats
-Cause everyone needs a little treat to sweeten up the day. Pack homemade cookies if you have time to make them, mini chocolate bars, gluten free cookies from health food stores or Trader Joes has great gluten free chocolate chip cookies.
If the parents are doing all the preparing, try adding food preparation to the chore list. Making deviled eggs can be a lot more fun than mopping the floor.
Again, like most things gluten free, a little planning ahead is required, but none of these lunch options are too time-consuming.
So, we hope these ideas make the school year a bit easier for you.
What kind of gluten free school lunches have you come up with?
Please share! Your comments are most welcome.
The Gluten Free Warrior Princesses were up for a quest, the quest for a good, gluten free slumber party. So we dug deep into the tangled forests of our cookbooks, rode gallantly down the narrow aisles of our favorite grocery stores, explored the unfathomable depths of our imaginations…until we came up with a great menu for our gluten free slumber party, and we mean completely gluten free!!!
We invited our friends Haley and Kara to be our guests and sample our savory fare. They are not gluten free, so we knew this would be a great challenge for us. And we faced it bravely!
We started off the day with…(imaginary trumpets) chocolate, of course!!!!
What slumber party is complete without
chocolate? And being the chocolate lovers that we are, we felt a great need to dip and submerge some of our favorite gluten free treats. So we searched the forest for wood and lit a fire (okay, we really turned on a burner of the stove), and melted the stuff until it was nice and creamy. We used store brand chocolate chips, by the way. Nothing fancy. We looked online to figure out the best way to melt chocolate for such a quest and most recipes required a double boiler, which, of course, we don't have. But this small obstacle was no foe for the Warrior Princesses. We created our own double boiler by filling a large saucepan halfway with water. Once the water was hot, we put the chocolate chips into a smaller saucepan and set it in the larger pan and voila! Melted chocolate!
Taste testing is of the utmost importance when making chocolate creations.
Then we dipped all manner of gluten free treats, such as strawberries, marshmallows, almonds and gluten free pretzels (those were the favorite).
With the quest for chocolate goodies completed, we played some party games, which of course, made us hungry. Since one of our goals for the blog (and our lives!) is to keep things simple, we put together some quick and easy appetizers: a vege platter with dressing, some chips and salsa. (Don’t worry. We didn’t make the salsa. We just bought it and put it in a nice bowl), and hummus (also from the store) and more gluten free pretzels. A great substitute for pita bread is, believe it or not, tortilla chips. They taste great with hummus. Our guests really liked the veges and also the pretzels dipped in hummus.
Our appetizers: gluten free pretzels, store bought hummus and salsa, tortilla chips, veges and dip. Healthy and good!
While we were eating snacks, we painted nails, played more games, did each other’s hair, and of course had a pillow fight, because you gotta have a pillow fight.
Naturally, after all that pillow fighting, we were hungry again! Pizza time!
There are plenty of easy options for gluten free pizza. You can order it now from some restaurants depending on where you live, or you can buy pre-made crusts and make it yourself, which is more fun. We used crusts from a local health food store and added our own toppings.
Time to take it down for a while. The girls watched our favorite, Lord of the Rings, of course!
Gotta have snacks movie snacks. Time to break out the gluten free chex mix!!!!!! We made it the night before our party with store brand chex mix. The recipe was on the back of the box.
We added almonds, popcorn and gluten free pretzels. Next time, I’d definitely add more pretzels. The popcorn got a little chewy, so maybe more nuts or cheese crunchies would be better next time. But it tasted so good! Just like the chex mix the girls used to eat when they were wee princesses. Emilia took baggies of it everywhere she went for the next week. We will definitely make it again.
Finally, the princesses fell asleep and were awoken early the next morning to the smell of pancakes. I used gluten free bisquick and added bananas and gluten free vanilla extract for extra flavor.
The gluten free slumber party was a big success and it was easy too!
Special thanks to our guests for being such good eaters. They both said they really liked the food (and they weren’t just saying that to be nice. They ate a lot!!!!). And thanks to Haley for the amazing photos.