Thursday, June 17, 2010

Potato Free anyone?

Recently I have come to the conclusion that I have a reaction to potatoes in any form.  As an adult I have always had problems with acne.  I am talking about big, sore, festering cysts that last for a month or more.  At one point my whole left cheek was one big bright red/purple puss filled mass of cysts.  It took years to fully heal.  I couldn't even sleep on that side because it hurt so much.  Since then it has been 2-4 cysts a month.  Most of them the size of a pea.  They fester under my skin till finally one day they become a white head and begin to heal.  I have tried just about every topical cleanser out there.  I was even on antibiotics for quite some time with limited success.  I am nearly ready for Acutane (the side effects scare me).  I definitely feel it is time to  got to a dermatologist again (I use to have one years ago).

Last year my older sister told me that she found out she has a reaction to potatoes and sent me an article.  Did you know that potatoes can cause asthma attacks or eczema for those that are sensitive to it? Here is the link she sent me. Potato and other foods can cause eczema.

Since December I have been trying to avoid potatoes but I keep forgetting that my son's gluten free foods have potato flour in them.  The result of my potato free trial has been that when I have even one small french fry or a muffin with some potato flour I will have 2-3 cysts pop up with in a 1-3 days.  I can have gluten, so really the solution should be that I just don't eat his specialty foods.  However, I am not going to bake two different batches of say banana bread muffins just so that I can avoid potatoes.  There are certain things I make that the whole family eats.  My husband and one son cannot tolerate gluten or dairy.  My other son cannot tolerate dairy.  I have only found that potatoes are a problem.  Life is much easier when you don't have to be a short order cook for every meal, every day.

Soooo I went to trusty Google to look for a gluten free flour mix sans potato flour.  I have tried exchanging corn starch for the potato starch in the flour mix.  I have not decided if I notice a big difference so I may keep doing that.  However, I wanted to see what other options there are.  There could be something out there that is much better than the traditional GF flour mix, so I am looking.  I found a GF flour mix at No Gluten No Problem.  Their  flour mix that is a little different and they have substitutions for those that cannot do sorghum, corn or potato flours.  I have not tried this out yet but wanted to share this with you. 

I also wanted to point out the sort of problems food allergies/sensitivities can cause other than those that effect the inside of our bodies.

In my family I have found the effects of foods can cause stomach upset (pain and diarrhea) as well as mood swings (down right irritable is being kind), meltdowns, and skin problems.  I always thought of food allergies to be those that caused swelling and hospitalization.  So much of the time they describe the inability to tolerate foods as sensitivities but that seems to be down playing to me.  People don’t take “food sensitivities” as seriously as “food allergies.  Most people tend to think that if you are “sensitive” to something that you can still have a little of it.  Once they see the results in my son, they vow to never let him have that food again.  People that don’t have personal experience with food allergies or sensitivities  just don’t get it.  I am not sure that I did before we had to worry about them.  I am far more understanding now than I ever was before.  It has become important to me that I consider foods that I provide for family and friends.  Food is such a big part of socializing that I find myself not wanting anyone to be left out if I can help it.  I think how much it must suck to be at a party and not be able to eat a single thing that others are enjoying (especially for young kids.)  Many times it is a simple choice of going with plain potato or corn chips verses ones with flavoring.  It can be as simple as putting meat, cheese and crackers on separate platters instead of all on one.  Cooking plain burgers and setting them aside (on a separate plate) before adding cheese to the ones remaining on the grill.  Put the dairy filled vegetable dip on the side rather than in the middle of the platter or serve hummus instead.  I almost always play it safe and bring foods for my son that I know are safe.  I can then make him a plate with items that I know he can have from the party and fill in with the foods I have brought.  This way he never feels left out. 

Monday, May 24, 2010

Zucchini Banana Bread Muffins

 zucchini banana muffins
Do you have picky eaters?  Oh boy! I do.  I struggle to get my boys to eat vegetables.  My oldest will eat raw carrots and spinach with out much fuss.  I use to be able to get him to eat some broccoli but it has been more than a year since I have been able to get him to eat any.  He will eat mild baby lettuce like romaine but I most just give him raw spinach instead because it has more good stuff in it.  My youngest will eat raw spinach and broccoli and some times cauliflower.  For a short time he was really into Baby Bella Mushrooms until he ate one that he didn’t like and that was it. 
So you can see how I have to get creative in getting them their vegetables.  Oh did I mention that they won’t eat mixed foods like stir fry or fried rice or casseroles?  My oldest will eat lasagna and that is only because Garfield likes it.  Other than that they don’t like sauces so I can’t hide vegetables in there.  That leaves me with baked goods. 
We make banana muffins usually for Saturday or Sunday morning breakfasts.  They are easy to make.  I make them small so that they can be eaten in 2-3 bits for the kids….this is less wasteful.   Regular muffins usually get put aside after they eat the tops.  They also leave crumbs all over the place, unlike mini muffins.  Right now I have a lovely garden going and I am growing my own zucchini, among other things.  Zucchini has a nice mild flavor and even a touch of sweetness to it.  Have you ever grilled it?  You really should try it.
I made these this weekend with my modification and the boys loved them.  They didn’t even seem to notice the change.  Which is surprising for my boys cause they notice most slight changes in taste and texture.  They don’t like to try new foods very often.
Ok on with the recipe.

2 ripe bananas
1 medium zucchini
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter, margarine or (shortening)
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
2 1/2 cups Gluten Free Flour Mix
1/2 cup chopped pecans (optional)
a dash of lemon or lime juice if freezing (optional just keeps the bananas from browning)

To prepare the zucchini you will need to grate it.  I peeled mine to get rid of the tell tale green that screams “THERE’S VEGETABLE IN THERE!  DON’T EAT THEM! SHE IS TRICKING YOU!”  Then I used my trusty micro grater to basically make a fine pulp.  If you have a food processor (which I don't), you can just put the zucchini in with the bananas and process them till it is smooth.  Since I have  a stand mixer  I blend the bananas, grated zucchini, sugar, butter,eggs and vanilla.  Add remaining ingredients and process/mix till smooth.  Note: depending on the water content of the zucchini you may need to add a touch more flour.  It should turn out about the consistency of  brownie batter.
Pour into desired baking pans and bake at 350 degrees until firm. Mini muffins: 6 minutes, regular tins: 10-15 minutes, mini loaves: 15 minutes, bread loaf: about 60 minutes (I have a mini muffin maker (kind of like a waffle iron for muffins) and I usually leave them in for 5 minutes)

You can add an extra banana and omit the eggs, you can omit the sugar and add 1/4 cup honey, you can omit the nuts. You can also find egg replacer at a health food store. Love having it around for times when I am low on eggs and want to bake something.
These muffins are also good to travel with but I recommend putting them in a container rather than a plastic bag (so they don’t get crushed).  I like to make these when we are going on a trip or camping.  The mini muffins are handy for on the go because they don’t make much mess.  When I make them I put them on a plate on the table and they slowly disappear.  There is no fussing over my kids to make them eat something when I do this. 
My feeding responsibility lies in making sure they have opportunity to eat something healthy.  Their responsibility is to eat it when they are hungry and stop when they are satisfied.  I think we put way to much emphasis that they need to eat everything on their plate.  However, I do get after them for eating everything but their vegetables.  I think if more people worried more about if they eat their vegetables and less about “cleaning their plate” then we wouldn’t have over weight kids.  They wouldn’t learn to over eat.  Kids naturally want to stop eating when they are satisfied.  Aren’t they promoting these days that it is better to eat more smaller meals than 3 large meals?  Just food for thought. 

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Gluten and Dairy Free Pumpkin Bread

Oh how I LOVE pumpkin bread. I made some this year using my favorite recipe for the Harvest Feast at my boys’ school. To my surprise my oldest (7) asked me if it has wheat in it. I told him it did and asked if he wanted me to make a wheat free version for him. He said “yeah!” Why was I surprised? Because he is a VERY picky eater and does not usually like to try new things. If you have read through my blog you will know that he is also Autistic. If you know anyone on the spectrum you will know that this IS A VERY BIG THING. I am so proud! He not only tried it, with out having to be coaxed, HE LIKED IT ALOT! Just smelling something new is huge let alone putting it in his mouth!

I have only made this once but I thought there might be a lot of people out there who might like a good pumpkin bread for the holidays. I also have a few notes from my first batch. 1- I am going to cut back on the oil a bit because it took forever to bake and was still very moist almost too moist. So next time I am going to try 3/4 cup instead of 1 cup. 2- My oven isn’t the greatest at maintaining temperature so if you think it looks like it still needs more time…..give it more time. I could have baked mine for a bit longer (that would have helped the moisture issue as well)


3-1/2 cups Gluten Free Flour Mix

3 cups sugar

1 Tbs xanthan gum

1-1/2 tsp baking powder

2 tsp baking soda

1-1/2 tsp allspice

1-1/2 tsp nutmeg

2 tsp cinnamon

1 cup oil (I am going to cut back to 3/4 c for my next batch)

1 29oz can pumpkin (Libby’s states it is gluten free!) I love Manufacturers that take the time to spell it out. They will forever have my gratitude for it.

4 eggs

1 cup each of Raisins and nuts may be added (walnuts are really good in this bread)

Pre heat the oven to 325 degrees. Spray 2 loaf pans with non-stick spray. Sift dry ingredients together in a large bowl. Combine the oil, eggs and pumpkin. Mix pumpkin mixture into the flour mixture and mix well. It will be thick and heavy. You can mix it in a stand mixer but it will probably be too thick for a hand mixer. A wooden spoon works great too. Bake for 1-1/2 hours at 325 degrees.

Note: I have found that gluten free baked goods are always best when eaten right away. This recipe makes 2 loaves. If you won’t be serving both right away, try freezing half the batter. You can even freeze it directly in the loaf pan you plan to bake it in. You can also try this as muffins or even mini muffins. A favorite thing of mine is to take muffin mix and freeze some so that I can make them up on a Saturday morning in my mini muffin maker.

Happy Holidays!!!


Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Easy No Fuss Halloween Cupcakes-GF/CF

Halloween Peep cupcakes

Peeps make the perfect Halloween cupcake toppers. A generous amount of frosting will keep your peeps standing upright. I made these for the first time last year with the ghosts after seeing some adorable ghost cupcakes made out of marshmallows covered in frosting. I even posted about them on my personal blog. Then I got a brilliant idea to just use peeps. No muss no fuss and they were thoroughly enjoyed.

When you pull the pumpkin peeps apart there is always a sticky edge. You can take care of this by pressing the exposed marshmallow in orange colored sugar crystals. You don’t have to do anything with the ghost peeps since they aren’t connected in the same way.

When I bought my peeps today I noticed that they also had “black” cats as well. If you have a few dozen cupcakes to make up for a Halloween party why not just top them with peeps and fun sprinkles? Even if you don’t have a party to make them for your children will no doubt love them as a special treat. They will enjoy helping you frost the cupcakes and decorating them with peeps and sprinkles.

Happy Halloween


Saturday, October 10, 2009

Better than Cream Cheese


We love this cream cheese substitute. I have used it to make cheese cake with brilliant results. Seriously, my cheese cake passed quite well for a traditional dairy filled cheese cake. We could eat it all day long. I have also used it when I have a recipe that calls for soy yogurt and have none on hand. I mix it with soy or rice milk to make it the same consistency as yogurt. My husband likes to use it in wraps (he can have gluten in small amounts but not dairy). We have even had some of the flavored versions and liked them as well.

You can taste the difference but it is so close to the taste of cream cheese you can forgive the difference. Especially when it means you can have cheese cake!

Yummy Parsnip Muffins-Gluten and Dairy Free

gfcf parsnip muffins R&WI know what you are thinking……”Parsnips? Yummy?” Yes they can be yummy. I can’t say that I eat parsnips all the time. What I can say is that I have prepared them before and not cared for their flavor. So when I say this is yummy, I am not kidding around. If I didn’t like them you would not be reading this. If my husband and one of my two boys didn’t like them, you wouldn’t be reading this.

Last weekend I was watching Good Eats on Food Network. Alton Brown had an entire show on preparing parsnips so that children would not only eat them but ask for seconds. The first thing he made was parsnip muffins. They looked pretty tasty. His version had roasted almond slivers on top and looked much like muffins you would buy in a bakery.

I decided I would try to make a gluten free version of these muffins since my son can’t have gluten. What is the point of making these the normal way if my child (whom I am trying to get to eat more vegetables) can’t eat them? So I can’t tell you if these taste “just like” his but I can say that we liked them. My oldest son is avoiding them because they are a new food (even though they look much like the banana muffins he loves). My younger son who is in many ways even more picky than his brother said “Mmmm these are super yum!”

My version has the texture of banana or pumpkin bread but a slight lemony flavor. Even though there is no lemon in them.

Thanks Alton for the inspiration!!! Here is Alton's original recipe.


1-ounce sliced almonds (optional)

nonstick spray

8-1/2 ounces Gluten Free Flour Mix

1 teaspoon Xanthan Gum

1 teaspoon baking powder

3/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg (Alton recommends freshly grated, I say use what you got ;)

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

3 whole eggs

3/4 cup soy yogurt (I used 1/4 cup soy sour cream + 1/4 cup soy cream cheese + 1/4 rice milk because it is what I had on hand) Plain soy yogurt is harder for me to find with out driving all over the place.

1/4 cup vegetable oil (I used canola)

8 ounces sugar

10 ounces grated parsnips (I processed the gratings into a pulp to hide them better)


Place the almonds in a single layer in a pie pan and place in the oven. heat the oven to 375 degrees F. Bake the nuts until lightly toasted, approximately 20 minutes while the oven heats. Meanwhile, spray a standard 12 cup muffin tin with the nonstick spray and set aside.

I skipped that first part because I used my mini muffin maker (kind of like a waffle maker that sits on the counter). I did spray my mini muffin maker with nonstick spray.

Combine the flour, Xanthan Gum, baking powder, baking soda, nutmeg and salt in a bowl. Mix well.

Whisk the eggs, yogurt (or my substitutions listed above), vegetable oil, and sugar in a large mixing bowl until combined. Add the flour and parsnips, and fold with a spatula until all the flour is moistened.

Prepare the parsnips by peeling off the outer skin. Cut off the top end and grate all but the inner core. In Alton’s show he explains that the core is a little bitter. You want only the sweet flesh for this. I then put my grated parsnip into a food processor to make it into a finer pulp. This gives the muffins a similar texture to banana muffins. The parsnip will not break down when baking. Your children will be able to see the shredded parsnip inside the muffin when they eat it if you don’t process it down further. Just saying….. For us it is a texture thing.

Divide the mixture evenly among the muffin cups. If you are adding almonds, sprinkle the top of each muffin with the toasted almonds. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the muffins reach and internal temperature of 210 degrees F and are golden brown. Rotate your pan half way through while baking. If needed, use a small knife to loosen the muffins and immediately remove them from the tin to a cooling rack. Alton says to cool them for 15 minutes and serve warm. We ate our mini muffins as soon as they were cool enough to bite into with out burning ourselves (which was more like a minute but remember we made mini muffins, they cool faster).

I have found that gluten free baked goods are best eaten fresh. These are best when eaten with in a day or two. I froze half of my batter for another time. I have done this for years with cookie dough, cake batter and banana muffin mixes. We bake up what we want to eat right away. When I want use use my frozen batter, I simply defrost it and bake it. This is great when you have produce that needs to be used right away before it goes bad. We like to use the frozen batters on weekends for no fuss breakfasts on Saturdays.

P.S. If you are freezing banana muffin mix add a touch of lemon juice to it and the batter won't turn brown.

With cookie dough you can partially defrost it and use what you want right then and put the rest back in the freezer. It will keep for 3-6 months.



Monday, October 5, 2009

Easy Chocolate Halloween Lollypops

chocolate Halloween shapes

I can’t take credit for coming up with this idea. Other than I decided to do bats and cats because they are usually black and I am using Gluten and dairy free dark chocolate they are the brain child of my Mother-in-law.

enjoy life chocolate chips

Either one of these products are a good choice. I have used them both and like them equally. If you are looking for Mini Chocolate chips use Enjoy life’s. Tropical Source’s chips are regular sized.

Chocolate chips

My crafty sister-in-law Rebecca posted about this on our craft blog. I am simply sharing my take on her project which she got from Mom making them many years ago. You can go HERE to see her post and the tutorial and for a ghost template. Mostly I am just sharing with my friends and family what Hobbs and I did together today. Calvin stopped by to supervise and give suggestions. ;)

Hobbs helped me make the bats. I outlined the shapes from templates I printed out and added chocolate to the centers. Hobbs used the lollypop sticks to spread the chocolate around. I brought out some candy shapes and Calvin said that I should put a bone in the cat’s mouth. I decided to place it like it is a bow with a skull below like a name tag. I didn’t have just round shapes so I used skulls for the bat’s eyes. Instead they look more like big ol’ teeth or something. ;) Ah well they taste just as good. The candies actually have a citrus/fruity taste to them so they go really nicely with the flavor of the chocolate.

What I like about them is that unlike candy molds that make really thick chocolate lollypops these don’t use all that much chocolate for each one. Just enough to satisfy a chocolate craving. Also you can make a ton out of just one bag of chocolate. These can easily be adapted with other shapes for other Holidays as well. Just think Turkeys with Candy Corn tails (be sure to check the label Brocks is MFG on equipment that isn't dedicated), reindeer, hearts with conversation hearts in the middle, a pot of gold.... the list could go on and on. How great would these be with crushed up candy canes mixed in?

Thanks Rebecca for the great idea. The boys LOVED them!