The Gluten Free Guest Guide

So you’re going to a wedding. Or any sort of event, really. There will be food, of course, but you have a gluten intolerance or Celiac Disease. Instead of stressing about it and worrying what you might or might not be able to eat, go prepared! Here are some helpful tips for navigating those big events in your life:

1. Whatever you do, do not as the host/hostess what food he or she will be serving at the event.
This is especially true in regards to attending a wedding. The bride is busy enough actually planning all of the details of her big day; she does not need the extra stress of accommodating food allergies. Unless she specifically brings up food in a conversation with you, do not ask. When attending a party, unless the host or hostess is a direct relative of yours, do not ask about the menu.

Wedding food - to eat or not to eat?

Wedding food – to eat or not to eat?

Although we all secretly hope our friends and relatives will remember our food allergies when planning events, we should never feel bad if they don’t. Eating gluten free is tricky enough for us to figure out. Imagine how much harder it is for people who do not have to eat that way!

2. Pack some snacks
Seriously. If you’re worried that you might not be able to eat much at an event, don’t be afraid to pack some little snacks in your purse. Snacks like gluten free granola bars or a small bag of nuts are always great options! Best of all, you can fit these in even the smallest of purses. Let me tell you from personal experience, it is better to snack on something you brought to an event than to just go hungry all night – especially if you’re drinking alcohol! 😉

3. Eat beforehand
If all else fails, eat before you go. I know this option is not all that great. We all know that being the only person who can’t enjoy all the delicious treats at a party is no fun. But you aren’t there JUST to eat. You’re there to celebrate, socialize and have some fun; so focus on that instead of thinking about all of the things you can’t eat.

Dance it up!

Celebrate!

4. Just have fun
It’s just food, after all. If you didn’t remember to eat and you can’t eat anything there, don’t stress about it! Dance, have a few cocktails (but not too many on that empty stomach!) and enjoy yourself. As a last resort, you can always hit up the Chick-fil-A drive through for some grilled nuggets and French fries on the ride home!

Just Have Fun!

Just Have Fun!

Special thanks to Chao Photography for the awesome wedding photos 🙂

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New Year Resolutions

I never make resolutions. I used to, when I was younger, but I quickly learned that most resolutions that I made were superficial (“exercise more”) and cheesy (“be more open minded” – I mean really, what does that even mean?) and it wasn’t long before I fell off the new year bandwagon and went back to my old ways.

But I have been thinking a lot over the last couple of weeks. Thinking about my previous year and this year ahead of me and what they mean to me. 2013 was my best year ever. And I can truthfully say that. It was incredible; not in some lame “best year ever” kind of way. In the honest-to-goodness, most genuine way possible. If I could relive 2013 over and over again, I would. To sum it up, here are some of the highlights of my last year:

I got married. To an awesome man who genuinely makes me feel like a better version of myself whenever we’re together. I cannot even remember what my life was like before I was his wife.

View More: http://chaophotography.pass.us/lindsayjason

Our family grew. With the addition of our six pound maltese, our baby girl Gracie became the center of attention in our home. What did we even used to do before we brought her home with us last April?

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I started this blog. That’s right, my blog less than 8 months old. But in those eight months, I’ve had the chance to share information with people all over the world. And joining the gluten free community has opened my eyes to so many new ideas, new people and let’s face it, amazing recipes, that I can’t imagine NOT being a part of it.

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I traveled. A lot. In 2013 I had the chance to visit St. Louis, Minneapolis, Nashville, Memphis, Little Rock, Tampa, Las Vegas, Austin, Seattle, St. Louis, Buffalo, Houston, Chicago, Niagara Falls, Orlando, New Orleans, Baton Rouge, Birmingham, Dallas and did I mention Antigua?!

Beautiful Antigua

Beautiful Antigua

2013 was a whirlwind of a year surrounded by awesome customers, incredible friends and of course, my amazing husband. So when I think about 2014, I wonder how on Earth I am going to top last year’s awesomeness. The only way I can even think about coming close is to set some goals for myself. Not resolutions, because we know I can’t help but break a New Year’s Resolution. But instead, some reasonably attainable goals that won’t make me feel terrible about myself if I can’t do them every single day.

– I will travel. As far and as often as possible. You can’t see, learn and eat everything from Mississippi. There are too many incredible things (and incredible foods) in the world to sit around and miss it all. So get ready for some (Gluten Free) posts while I’m out exploring this year.

– I will write. More. Writing is more than just a hobby for me now. It’s cathartic. I’ve written a countless number of blog posts that never even get “published” but instead, just sit in my drafts as evidence of a crazy day at work, or an amazing trip or even a terrible dinner. Reading old posts never fails to make me laugh. And writing new ones never fails to make me smile.

– I will smile. As much as I can. Because not every day is perfect, but if there’s one thing that last year taught me, it’s that happiness is contagious and smiling in and of itself can make any day brighter.

– I will be more grateful. Let’s face it, we are all guilty of taking things for granted from time to time. This year, I want to focus my efforts on constantly staying grateful for all of the amazing things in my life. Whether it is a night out with friends, a simple dinner at home with the hubs, a wonderful vacation, or just a delicious piece of gluten free pie… Taking a second to appreciate things will surely help to make the year a better one.

Cheer’s to 2014! Wishing you a year that is as much of an adventure as I hope mine will be!

cheers-2014

My (Gluten-Free) Holiday Gift Guide

There’s always that one person on your list that is super hard to shop for. For me, it’s my grandmother. Ultimately, she has pretty much everything that she needs and she genuinely would rather give gifts than receive them. (Gotta love that woman). Maybe you have someone like that in your life. Maybe that person is gluten-free. Or maaayyybe not. But either way, check out ten of my most loved gifts for this holiday season:

1. Breville Juicer

juicer

Whether that special someone just loves to drink freshly squeezed orange juice or they’re looking to kick up their health a notch and try out juicing to get more of their daily fruits and vegetabls, I am loving this juicer from Breville. Durable and so fast, this baby makes juice like it’s nobody’s business.

2. Williams Sonomoa Goldtouch Non-Stick Pizza Pan

Honestly, I couldn’t be more obsessed with this pizza pan. Every single time I use it, my pizzas not only come out perfectly, but they are also the perfect size!

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For sharing of course. Did you think I ate that whole pizza on my own? 😉

3. Cup 4 Cup Flour

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While you’re at it, just grab the entire line of Cup 4 Cup mixes, because this stuff will rock your world. Substitute the gluten free flour for regular flour in ANY recipe and I promise you’ll be impressed with how delicious it is. Bonus: the pancake and brownie mix are amazing – and so easy – too.

5. Gluten is My Bitch

glutenbitch

Long story short: This book is hilarious. So is it’s author, April Peveteaux, the mastermind behind the Gluten is My Bitch Blog. The title alone says it all. Need I say more?

6. This basket of GF goodies from Tate’s Bake Shop

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One cookie is a great gift. A whole basket of treats though? That’s really showing someone that you love them.

7. A Subscription to TasteGuru

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I’ve been scoping out Taste Guru for a while now, but haven’t managed to bite the bullet and purchase a subscription of my own yet. But getting a box of gluten free goodies in the mail every single month… How amazing is that!?

8. Riedel Wine Glasses

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Because wine tastes better when it’s in an awesome glass.

9. This Talking Minion

talkingdave

If you know me at all, you know I talking/dancing animals – and I often assume that everyone in the world should love them as much as I do. A talking minion though? That really takes things to the next level. Try Amazon for a good deal on one of these little guys!

10. A Waffle Maker

wafflemaker

Seriously, who doesn’t love waffles? Gluten free or not, this gift is fun AND functional! Include some gluten free pancake and waffle mix to really rock it. Bonus: This Chef’s Choice model will make your waffles heart-shaped! Nothing says “love” like a heart-shaped breakfast food!

Alright, now get out there and start shopping! Happy Holidays!

Friendsgiving

I love hosting events at our house. My mother says I definitely inherited the “hosting gene”, which I have always been grateful for. So to me, Thanksgiving seemed like the perfect time to get together with friends – and of course, eat and drink. From this, the idea for our first annual Friendsgiving was born, which took place this past Saturday evening.

Hosting events when you have food allergies is no easy task – after all, you want to make sure the food you prepare is both gluten free (that’s the only allergy in our house, thankfully), easy to eat in a “party setting” and delicious for everybody. It is also difficult to ensure that guests who bring food will always bring gluten free items, so you have to be extra careful to keep utensils and dishes separated.

That being said, I knew I was up to the challenge – so I set out to prepare a menu that would be easy to make and extra delicious. The first item I prepared was a Bacon Cheddar Ranch dip. This is my go-to dip for parties, events and tailgates. First, because it is so ridiculously easy to prepare a toddler could do it. And second, because it is comprised of many of my favorite things – namely, bacon and cheese.

Bacon Cheddar Ranch Dip Ingredients
16 oz. sour cream
1 packet Ranch dressing
3 oz. bacon bits (in the bag)
1 cup shredded cheddar

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See? I told you it was easy! All you have to do is stir those ingredients together and refrigerate overnight. The result? A tasty treat that everyone will enjoy. (I serve with Fritos scoops or Tostitos, but any corn tortilla chip or gluten free cracker will do)

Next up: Gluten Free Cornbread Muffins. I didn’t grow up a huge cornbread fan, but my husband definitely did. Cornbread is a staple of Southern meals and he had not eaten any since finding out he had a gluten allergy earlier this year. Since I am no cornbread expert, I stuck with the basics and whipped up a batch using Wegman’s Gluten Free Honey Cornbread Mix (which I picked up on a visit to Buffalo, NY in October).

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What could be easier than following the instructions on the back of a box? Pretty much nothing. And did I mention they were INSANELY DELICIOUS? They were completely gone by the end of the party – and I never even told anybody they were gluten free!

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I know Glutino also has a gluten free Cornbread mix, and we’re going to give that one a try this week – so we can compare results. But I’m sure that one will be tasty too 🙂

I knew I needed a dessert that would be easy to pick up and eat, but also one that nobody would suspect of being gluten free. So I stuck with the basics and opted for a batch of chocolate chip cookies, prepared with Domata Gluten Free Flour. (If you don’t remember my love for Domata, check out this post about the Peanut Butter cookies I made a few weeks back. To. Die. For.)

I followed the recipe from Domata’s website (no need to reinvent the wheel, right?) and they turned out incredibly well! Light and fluffy – they were gone before most people had even gotten to the turkey yet! So much for dinner before dessert… 😉

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Want to make your own? Here is what you will need:
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 egg
Dash of GF vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups Domata Recipe Ready Flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup GF semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Beat butter and brown sugar together until smooth – then adding egg and vanilla to the mix. Once those four ingredients are mixed together, add flour, baking soda and salt. Stir until combined thoroughly. Add chocolate chips. Place on greased baking sheet about 2 inches apart. Bake for 6-8 minutes. Enjoy!

Many of our guests (who were awesome, by the way!) brought dips, appetizers and desserts with them. One of my favorites included some bacon wrapped dates – because who doesn’t love things wrapped in bacon?! Another favorite was this baked brie (prepared gluten free with Pillsbury pie crust) that one of our friends brought. It was so thoughtful of them to prep a gluten free item that we could enjoy (complete with gluten free Nut Thin crackers to boot!). I am definitely going to have to try to make one of these myself soon.

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Of course the night wouldn’t have been complete without some meat! Though I had a minor Turkey fiasco on Saturday, when I went to pick up my pre-ordered “cooked and ready to eat” turkey from Heavenly Ham – and instead received a FROZEN turkey, everything ended up working out perfectly. A local BBQ restaurant in Vicksburg, Goldie’s Express, put together some pulled turkey and pulled pork for us – which made for great leftovers too!

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Having a Friendsgiving event of your own? Give one of these recipes a try! I know I can’t wait to make those chocolate chip cookies again – ASAP!

Coming Soon to Baton Rouge – the GF & AF Wellness Event!

Living in Mississippi, I tend to feel a little bit isolated from the gluten free world. I often read posts by other bloggers about fabulous restaurants or bakeries that serve completely gluten free menus. Or incredible shops and stores that offer aisles upon aisles of gluten free goodies! Whenever I hear of these things, I find myself dreaming of the day that a place like that opens in Mississippi. (Sigh) Until that day comes, I do what any girl would do… I eat wherever I can, order lots of food online and travel often! Documenting it all for you to read, of course.

But when I hear that a gluten free event is happening so close to home, I get excited. Not just a little excited – can-hardly-contain-my-enthusiasm excited! Because how often do I get the chance to meet other incredible gluten free bloggers and sit in on sessions with great gluten free speakers? Better yet, how often do I get to do this only hours from my hometown? (In case you’re still wondering, the answer is pretty much never)

Enter my excessive enthusiasm for the Baton Rouge Gluten Free and Allergen Free Wellness Event on November 2nd! Admission is only $10 for adults and free to children 13 and under! And the entire event takes place from 10am – 3 pm at the Cook Hotel & Conference Center at LSU. That’s FIVE HOURS of gluten free awesomeness!!!

GFAFevent

Wouldn’t you just LOVE to join me in Baton Rouge for this event? You can! Click here for detailed information on speakers, sponsors and vendors. You can even purchase your event tickets online!

Once you decide you absolutely cannot live without attending this event, let me know that you’re planning to join us there! I would love to see all of you!