Who Needs a Gluten Test by Dr. Rodney Ford

I absolutely love Dr. Ford’s Lego Props! And yes, I was sick, tired and GRUMPY! 😀


Green Eggs and Ham Quiche

My version was actually Green Eggs and Sausage, but that doesn’t have the same snazzy ring to it as Green Eggs and Ham!  The only reason I even used sausage is because that is what I had on hand for this final attempt at making a quiche (more of a breakfast casserole) for The Gluten-Free Homemaker’s Quiche Challenge.  I have made many a quiche these last few weeks, but they were not well received by my clan.  I think I was getting a little too fancy for them.  The Goat Cheese and Leek quiche I made, received the lowest fanfare (although I liked it!), so an idea came to me to revise the popular school snack my boys have made at their preschool each year during Dr. Seuss week.  I wanted to make a naturally green egg dish to hopefully inspire their teachers that you can make better green eggs, without the synthetic food dye and some added nutrients! 😉

*At the end of this post is a video clip of Dr. Rodney Ford talking about eczema and gluten sensitivity that you might be interested in watching.

Goat Cheese and Leek Quiche with a Pie Crust Made from Garbanzo Beans! 😀

I wish I had more pictures to share of the steps I went through, but Sam decided to play with my camera and accidentally erased everything, including all the photos of my first experiments with my new BFF, Ms. Vitamix!  Yes, I have made a very large “Note to Self: Dump your camera after each photo session!”

Onward and upward as they say…  I found this recipe and used it as my inspiration for this naturally gluten-free version of Green Eggs and Ham Sausage Quiche!  I omitted the pie crust and went with a hash brown crust, simply because it was easier. 😉

For the crust:

4 cups of Frozen Shredded Hash Browns, thawed

1 Tbs. Oil (I used Grapeseed Oil, but Olive, Canola, etc. would work fine)

Salt and Pepper, to taste

  • Toss together the thawed hash browns, oil and seasonings.
  • Press into a 9 x 13 pan.

For the filling:

8 oz. of fresh spinach (I believe I used more, quite possibly double this amount, but I forgot to to weigh it beforehand.  The fresh spinach came in my CSA box, but it wasn’t labeled with the amount, so I just used it all!)

1 cup Smoked Ham (I used lowfat breakfast sausage)

1 1/2 cups Gruyere Cheese, shredded

10 Eggs (I used fresh, local free-range eggs that I get in my weekly CSA box, it may be in my head, but they taste so much better!)

2 2/3 cups of Milk (I used Skim)

1 cup Heavy Cream (I used Half and Half to lighten it up a bit)

Salt and Pepper to taste (the recipe I used for inspiration called for nutmeg too, but I tend save my nutmeg for pumpkin pie.  Not very evolved of me, I know!)

To make the filling:

  • Add fresh spinach (I did not blanch it, as called for in Nick’s recipe) and eggs to a blender or food processor (I used my Vitamix).  Puree until smooth.
  • Add milk and cream (or substitute) to the spinach/egg mixture and puree until combined.
  • Season with salt and pepper, set aside.

To assemble the Quiche:

  • In the shredded hash brown lined pan, sprinkle with ham (or sausage) and cheese.
  • Pour the spinach/egg custard over the hash brown, ham and cheese layer.
  • Bake at 325º F. for about 55 minutes, then check for doneness.  A knife inserted in the middle should come out clean.

Note: Once the initial quiche was done, there was a Pronounced spinach flavor (remember, I didn’t measure how much spinach I used!).  Once it was done baking, I had to add more cheese, salt and pepper, in order for it to be more palatable for my kiddos.  All I had was sharp cheddar, but it did the trick!!  I added about 1 1/2 cups more of shredded cheese (so much for lightening it up!). 🙂

The boys really liked it and they have been eating a square of it for breakfast each morning this week.  It reheats very well in the microwave.  I will definitely make this again, but I will just be sure to measure out the spinach next time. 😉

Linda is doing a Gluten-Free Cake Challenge for this month and that is more up my alley!  Be sure to check it out for what I am sure will be some very amazing recipes!

Speaking of gluten-free cakes, did you see Jeanne’s Tres Leche Cake over at Four Chickens?  Yummy.

In the spirit of gluten-free awareness month, I want to share a video clip with you of Dr. Rodney Ford talking about eczema and gluten sensitivity.  I posted a little bit about eczema and artificial colorings the other day on my “Funny Oranges” post.  Ron Hoggan, Ed.D., co-author of Dangerous Grains: Why Gluten Cereal Grains May Be Hazardous To Your Health, left a very informative comment to that post last night (thank you, Ron!), that I encourage you to read.  I have solely focused on reading about celiac disease over the past few years, but am starting to read more on the entire spectrum of gluten-sensitivity, and what I have been learning is mind boggling.  For further reading, check out The Gluten Syndrome.net

Flash Mob at The Ohio State University

This is not a “gluten-free” related post (although it does give me an idea, see below), but I just had to share this super cool video of a flash mob dance at The Ohio State University (of which I am a proud alumni!!).  Kim, over at Gluten-Free Is Life emailed this to me this morning and I have watched it about 20 times since, it just makes you want to dance! Go BUCKS! 🙂

So here’s my idea: we should organize a gluten-free flash mob!  Can’t you just see Dr. Fasano, Dr. Ford, Dr. Green, Dr. Guandalini and all the other great celiac disease/gluten-sensitivity experts launching into a flash mob at one of the celiac disease conferences??  Imagine the level of awareness we could generate with that! 😀

Have anything fun planned to celebrate Cinco de Mayo?  Maybe a themed dinner?  I have been lost in “Vitamix- Space,” for the past 24 hours and forgot to plan something, so if you have an idea to share, please do!

Funny Oranges

After I got the Breville Citrus Press and started making fresh squeezed orange juice each morning, I found myself knee deep in orange peels.  Instead of throwing them all away, I wondered if I could use some of them for a fun lunchbox treat.  I remembered seeing a recipe for Gelatin Oranges on Disney’s Family Fun website so I thought I would give it a try.  If you or your child has a beef allergy (gelatin), avoid artificial colorings, etc., keep reading…  this gets much better! 😉

These are relatively easy to make (and super easy if you have the Breville Citrus Press to do the juicing work for you!).

Funny Oranges

  • Just slice oranges in half and scoop out the fruit. Be sure to scrape well and remove all the orange pulp, you will want the inside of the orange to be white.
  • To keep the oranges upright, I used a muffin pan to set the oranges in.
  • Prepare gelatin (or substitute, see below) as indicated on the package.
  • Pour gelatin into the prepared orange halves and refrigerate until set.
  • Slice Orange halves and you will have a fun little treat for snacks or to stick in a lunchbox!

The juicer only does so much, I still had to peel the last bit of orange "stuff" out by hand.

Prop the hollowed out oranges in a muffin pan for support.

Pour prepared gelatin into orange halves.

After reading a few of the comments for the Easy Lunchbox Giveaway, I decided to send in tacos for a cool new lunch. Wish I had re-read the comments before I made them as I would have known NOT to assemble the taco the night before! They were pretty soggy come lunch time the next day, LOL! I always seem to learn the hard way. 😉 If you make a taco lunch, be sure to seperate all the components and let your child assemble their own taco at lunch time... this is "much cooler" anyway as they have their own taco bar!

So there’s that version.

I have been doing a lot of reading over the past few months on artificial colorings, dyes, preservatives, etc. and I’m now of the mind that “less is definitely more!”  Just yesterday, I was reading an article in the May/June 2010 issue of Well Being Journal titled, “ADHD Increase Linked to Modern Diet,” by Jane Hersey, pages 16 – 17.  In the article, Jane sited some research by Sanford C. Newmark, M.D., from the University of Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine:

Research has shown a consistent relationship to the intake of artificial colors and/or preservatives on the symptoms of ADHD or hyperactivity.

After describing two large British studies linking food dyes and preservatives with hyperactivity, including one that was published in the Lancet, he concluded,

One can see how the intake of these substances could ‘shift’ in a positive direction the proportion of children diagnosed with ADHD.

The article went on to credit the late Ben Feingold, M.D. for first discovering the link between artificial food additives and hyperactivity.  I just read an article on the Feingold Association website pertaining to ezcema and ADD.  Seems that children with excema are far more likely to develop ADD (Wow, I didn’t know that.  I really encourage you to check out the Feingold Association website, there is some very interesting information on it, that only further demonstrates the negative effects of processed food on our health).  Funny, I had ezcema as a child and was diagnosed with Adult ADD about a year ago.  Luke also suffers from severe ezcema (worse than mine was as a child).  Hmmm…

Another startling fact that was mentioned in the article was the dramatic increase in American consumption of artificial dyes.  Consumption of these dyes has increased almost threefold since the 1980’s, rising from about 6.4  million pounds in 1985 to more than 17.8 million pounds in 2005!!

Last quote from the article that I want to mention, and I think it is very important that all parents think about this:

Newmark pointed out that since more and more families have two working parents, family meals increasingly consist of processed (additive-laden) foods.  “It is hard to know just when a Pop-Tart became an acceptable breakfast, but it often is.  School lunches are abysmal, with an unacceptably high intake of processed foods and [denatured] saturated fats.”

I just looked at my boys after reading the article and thought to myself, “They deserve better.  They have their entire lives ahead of them and I do not want to burden them with health problems (ironically, the very ones I have!), that I can control by simple diet modification.”  That’s right, I am the one who can potentially alter the course of their life and health by taking the time to think about what I am putting into their mouths.  While we already have the benefit of being a gluten-free family (which means we cannot eat most processed foods like Pop-Tarts, but there are obviously still many products like Jello and Koolaid that we can technically have, but probably shouldn’t!).

Needless to say, the rest of my Jello stash went into the trash, as did my remaining Koolaid stash (okay, I’ll admit it…  I was actually the closeted Koolaid drinker! 😉 ).

I have been experimenting with making my own “jello” from natural juice and pectin (the grape turned out to be a kickin’ Grape Jelly without added sugar or HFCS, but it really didn’t taste like Jello.  I have yet to try juice with gelatin, but I have that one on my short list.  I did however, find a really cool new product (new to me anyway) on a recent shopping excursion to my local co-op: Natural Desserts by the NutraDrink Company!!  Check this out from their website:

Natural Desserts’ line of flavored and unflavored Dessert Jels are a truly unique line of gluten free, vegan, dairy free, Kosher dessert jells that are truly indistinguishable from gelatin, yet are manufactured using an exclusive blend of vegetable gums.  Perfect as a simple dessert all by itself, or marvelous for use in the most elaborate mold.

They even have pudding!!  I have yet to find the pudding in my local store, but I am definitely on the hunt. 😀

So, I re-made the oranges with the All-Natural Strawberry flavored Jel Dessert:

This product is still high in sugar, so moderation is key.

We really liked these quite a bit, even though Sam is still hung up on the green Jello. Wonder if I could make a spinach/apple combo juice and just add the unflavored Jel for a natural and healthy green color?? He might disown me... but it's worth a try! 😀

Update: At the suggestion of Deanna, I just submitted this recipe to the May “Go Ahead Honey, It’s Gluten-Free” monthly recipe roundup (it’s a Jello theme for May), being hosted by Mrs. Ed’s Research and Recipes.  This is my first time participating in this monthly event and I am so happy that Deanna mentioned it to me, because it introduced me to a new blog that I am excited to read.  Anyone can participate in this blog carnival, you do not need to be a blogger to join in on the fun!  The “Go Ahead Honey, It’s Gluten-Free” blog carnival was created by Naomi Devlin over at “Straight Into Bed Cakefree and Dried.”  What a fun way to make cooking at home an even more rewarding experience.  It’s like sitting at the kitchen table, swapping gluten-free recipes and the stories behind them, with great friends over a hot cup of coffee.  🙂

The Faces of Celiac Disease

Traditionally, Celiac Disease Awareness month is in October and has been since 1987.  In 2009, Canada started to promote Celiac Awareness in May, which I think is GREAT, the more, the better!   On Friday, April 30th, 2010; Zach over at Gluten Free Raleigh made a blog post announcing that North Carolina Governor, Beverly Perdue, has declared May “Celiac Disease Awareness Month” in the state of North Carolina!  Woo-Hoo!

I personally believe there can never be too much celiac disease awareness, because roughly 97% of celiacs in the United States DO NOT KNOW they have a potentially life-threatening disease that, if caught early enough, can be controlled by a change in diet.  I don’t mean “diet” in the sense of what commonly comes to mind when one thinks of going on a diet: a short-term, boring, tasteless, doomed to fail weight loss plan.  I mean a lifestyle change to a wonderful, great tasting, healthful food plan that can include all things that you always hear people saying you will lose: pizza, bread, pasta, beer.  That is hogwash, you CAN have all those things…  just gluten-free!  Want a shortcut to those GREAT GF items?  Udi’s, Udi’s, Tinkyada, Redbridge!  There are other great GF products in those categories too, but I am trying to keep it simple for the moment. 😀

If only I had been diagnosed today instead of 5 years ago…  I don’t think I would have put myself in harm’s way by denying my diagnosis for so long (can’t say I’m 100% sure of that because the food was only a small percentage of my denial, the emotional aspect is what did me in.  Although, if I had been Blogging and Tweeting back then…  that would have helped fill the emotional loss for me. I do not know what I would do without my GF blogger buds and Tweeps, they have made the feeling of isolation, {being the lone GF people in my circle of family and friends}, much more tolerable…  even enjoyable!).  If you are gluten-free and are not yet on Twitter, I cannot recommend it enough.  The gluten-Free community on Twitter is one very awesome support group.  If you are interested, check out this article, “10 reasons to Tweet Gluten-Free,” written by Sandra Robins (@MarylandCeliac on Twitter).  Sandra is also the author of The Gluten-Free Optimist, and has had her articles published in Gluten-free Living Magazine. For more on Sandra, click here.

Also, I added the links to where you can buy celiac disease awareness bracelets (see the sidebar).  We just got our newest bracelets and car magnets in the mail the other day and they are a great way to prompt people to ask you the question…  get that conversation started! 😀

Anyway, The San Diego CSA Chapter (this is a great site if you are planning a trip to the San Diego area, I referred to it quite a bit during my visit a couple of years ago) made a “grass-roots” YouTube video, starring some of their local CSA support group members, to help promote celiac disease awareness during the month of May:

If you click on the video, it will take you to YouTube and you can share it on your Facebook page, you can email it and even “tweet” it!

Glutino Chocolate and Yogurt Covered Pretzels

Yesterday, my shipment of Glutino Chocolate and Yogurt Covered Pretzels arrived!  There has been quite a bit of buzz around this new product since the announcement was made in March on Food Biz Daily, so the second I heard they were available for sale on GlutenFree.com, I had to order some.  Sam used to love the Pretzel Flipz back in his gluten days so I decided to wait and let him be the one to open the package and be the first sampler.

Now, Sam is only 6 so his taste-testing and critiquing skills are still rather limited, as is his database of descriptive words, so keep that in mind with his review (it’s a short one, LOL!).

Sam: GLUUUU-TEN, yeah, yeah, gluten!

Translation: The Glutino Chocolate and Yogurt covered pretzels taste just as good as the Pretzel Flipz in Sam’s memory!

Click the following links for ingredient and nutritional information: Glutino Chocolate Covered Pretzels and Glutino Yogurt Covered Pretzels.

My review: the Glutino Chocolate and Yogurt covered pretzels ARE good, however, they are kind of pricey after you add in the shipping costs.  I ordered one 5.5-ounce package of each flavor from GlutenFree.com, each retailing for $5.99.  After adding in the $12.00 shipping cost, each package essentially cost $12.00.  I cannot wrap my brain around that, no matter how good they are.  I would definitely buy these again, but I will wait until they are available in local stores.  Until then, I will just keep making my own (with Glutino’s GF pretzels of course!).  There is an added benefit to making my own too…  I have to make them in order to eat them, so there is a built in “self-control” mechanism going on.  When the Glutino Chocolate and Yogurt Covered Pretzels hit my local store shelves, I might be in trouble in the waistline department! 🙂

These are my homemade version of Glutino Chocolate Covered Pretzels... they are certainly not as pretty and I do not have a Yogurt version! I do have white chocolate though, hmm... 😉

Homemade Coffee Creamer

We, like many people, went through a tough time when the economy tanked in 2008.  Since changes in the stock market can affect our income, I’m sure you can imagine just how tight things became around here!  We sought out all sorts of ways to cut costs and a funny thing happened in the process… we really had a lot of fun doing it as a family, and dare I say, we grew even closer as a team!  It makes you really start to think of all the mindless dollars that go out the door each month.  Times were tough, but we wanted to make lemonade out of lemons and still try to enjoy the things we loved, just in a new way!

I began my “homemade odyssey” making my own body scrubs and soaps to give as gifts for the 2008 holiday season.  I did not know how to give “nothing.” At first, I was really embarrassed to give my “piddly” little homemade gifts (if you recall yesterday’s post when I mentioned that the words ‘frugal’ and ‘Heidi’ never appeared in the same sentence, I wasn’t joking.  I love to give gifts and make people happy, but I had a tendency to go overboard in that department!).

I was floored at how well my homemade gifts were received.  It seems as though people liked them BETTER than the high priced body scrubs I used to give my gal pals as gifts!  I had so much fun that first year, that I did it again in 2009, even though I really didn’t have to.  My friends also made me handmade gifts and it felt so good to know that someone cared enough to spend the time making something, just for me.  It has made me really think about how disconnected we have become as a society, in our pursuit of bigger, better, more.  I have been slowly edging myself toward jumping off that runaway train ever since and I cannot say that I have ever been happier, nor my kids for that matter.  I have been guilty in the past of giving them all the latest “it” toys and they never reacted to them (outside of the first 30 minutes before something inevitably broke or disappeared) nearly the way they have reacted when I invite them into the kitchen with me or Mike shows them how to use a drill!

Change is not easy, and I am by no means the “perfect” mother (besides, perfect is boring in my opinion 😀 ), who spends all her time making crafts, doing science experiments, coming up with crazy lunchbox ideas, cooking from scratch… no sirree Bob (so please don’t think I am some “Martha Stewart-Wanna Be” because of a few of the posts I have made, that is just one small slice of my pie, and most of these things I only started doing recently because I was trying to come up with good blog material!). 😉

One small successful change for me, led to another and yet another.  I began my gluten-free journey with an obsession for GF copycat recipes of mainstream processed foods that I grew up on and now I am eating raw Swiss Chard and I even had Broccolini last night!  I went from a shopaholic to a frugal homemade gal.  I went from being a very wasteful person to being a re-user and recyclyer.  I went from putting my kids in 20 different activities and buying them all the name brand clothes and “cool toys,” to spending real time with them. I went from feeling very empty, sad and angry, to being happier than I have ever been in my life, and lost 50 lbs. in the process.  I feel like I finally “get it.”  Had someone told me that even 2 years ago, I would have LAUGHED at them! 😀

So on to the coffee creamer!

This is a recipe that I have been making for about a year now and have received a lot of, “You made that?” comments from unsuspecting guests at my house. My father-in-law, who loves coffee creamer was stunned at how good it was. While I personally like my coffee black, there are times, like after a dinner party, when a flavored coffee hits the spot.  Or during the autumn when I live at Starbucks during Pumpkin Spice Latte season!

I found a recipe on the Frugal Village Forum, posted by “Yankee Mom.” for homemade creamer. I will post a portion of her recipe here so I can give you my side by side tweaks in red, as usual. (I do this because I am NOT an intuitive cook and I need recipes to start with, then I can modify as needed.  So if I can do it, ANYONE can do it!  One just needs to know how.).

Delicious Coffee Creamer
1 (14 ounce) can Sweetened Condensed Milk (I make my own, see below. You can easily make this dairy-free too!).
1 1/2 cups Skim Milk (or dairy substitute).

  • Measure all ingredients into a 32 ounce container (with a cover), seal container and shake vigorously. This will keep in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.

“Yankee Mom” has a few flavoring combination’s on the Frugal Village Forum that you might be interested in, so click on the above link!

Last night, I tried something new to flavor my coffee creamer with… Vanilla Creme Liquid Stevia! I added about 5 drops then also added 1/4 tsp. of Cinnamon Extract (see photos below)… yum! Want to know where I first learned about the flavored Liquid Stevia?  From Kelly over at The Spunky Coconut, if you haven’t visited her website… you absolutely must!  You also need to check out Kelly’s post from yesterday (hint: healthy coffee cake!) over at The W.H.O.L.E. Gang, as part of the “30 Days to a Food Revolution” series.  I am beyond THRILLED that Diane is doing this series, it is so much fun!!  I encourage you to check it out and get on board for a chance to win some fabulous prizes!

Homemade Sweetened Condensed Milk (I found this recipe on Recipezaar)

1/2 cup Cold Water

1 1/3 cups Nonfat Dry Milk Powder (I have also made this using Vance’s Darifree Milk Powder and Better Than Milk Vanilla Rice Milk Powder, since these are sweet milk powders, I reduced or omitted the added sugar below, adjust to your personal taste).

3/4 cup Sugar (I used 10 packets of Truvia for a natural sugar-free version. Technically, I think the conversion from 3/4 cup of sugar to Truvia is 18 packets, but 10 was sweet enough for me).

1 tsp. Vanilla (I omitted the vanilla since I was going to add it to add the flavoring to the coffee creamer)

1 Tbs. Butter, Earth Balance or Smart Balance (optional, but I added this to round out the taste of the Truvia; this is a new product for me so I am adjusting to it).

  • In a saucepan, combine powdered milk and sugar (or sugar substitute). 
  • Slowly add water, while stirring, into the milk powder/sugar mixture. Continue stirring occasionally over medium-low heat (Click here for microwave directions).
  • Add in optional butter or butter substitute, and vanilla if you choose to use it.
  • Heat through for about 10 minutes, stirring constantly (so it doesn’t scorch) until mixture is thickened.
  • Use this in place of the canned Sweetened Condensed Milk in the above Homemade Coffee Creamer recipe!

Add powdered milk to saucepan,

Add 10 packets of Truvia, or sugar,

Add water,

Whisk to combine,

Add optional butter, and heat over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until butter has melted and the milk powder has dissolved.

Homemade Sweetened Condensed Milk!

To make coffee creamer: add 1 1/2 cups milk to the Sweetened Condensed Milk,

Whisk again.

I added about 5 drops of the Vanilla Creme Liquid Stevia.

Add 1/4 tsp. Cinnamon Extract (or other flavor extract, to taste).

Pour in a container with lid and refrigerate! Shake before using.

“Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.” – Leo Tolstoy