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 🙂

Gluten Free Without Breaking the Bank

Here’s a fun fact anybody who follows a gluten free diet is well aware of: living gluten free is expensive. It just is. No matter which way you slice it, a life free of beloved wheat, rye and barley is not only more difficult but it absolutely kills your wallet.

Since most of us gluten free folks try to minimize our meals out as to avoid cross-contamination and accidental “glutening”, we find ourselves frantically searching the aisles of our local grocery store for gluten free ingredients to prepare our own meals at home. And as the cashier rings us up at the check-out line, we sigh and take out our debit cards, nostalgic for the days of buy-one get-one-free loaves of bread and crackers that cost less than $5 per box.

So what can we do about it? What can we eat that keeps us healthy and doesn’t break the bank?

First, start with the basics: meat, fruits and veggies. All three of these things are naturally gluten free, and staples of a healthy diet anyway! Sure, it may cost a little more to purchase fruit than a box of Oreos, but in the long run your body will thank you and you won’t find yourself getting sick anymore. Meat is a staple of gluten free living in our household. We always have chicken, ground beef and shrimp in the freezer, ready at a moment’s notice for a night of grilling or homemade tacos! (With corn tortillas, of course!)

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You know what else is naturally gluten free? Nuts, eggs and cheese. Looking for a quick snack but not willing to splurge on a $6 box of gluten free crackers? No problem; buy yourself a bag of nuts. Grab yourself some fresh cheese and pop a few cubes whenever you need a snack. Cook up some scrambled eggs in the morning for a quick and delicious gluten free breakfast.

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For those times when you are really craving some delicious carbs, don’t shy away from using coupons! The sting of a $5 bag of bread or $6 box of muffins (4 per pack) won’t hurt quite as much when you can save a buck or two by simply using a coupon. Sign up for emails and promotions from some of the best gluten free companies out there like Rudis, Udi, and Glutino all offer coupons for email subscribers!

Grab a big bag of gluten free flour and prep your favorite snacks from scratch! There are some awesome gluten free flours out there, but many have a price tag to match. (Cup 4 Cup, I’m talking about you) I’ve had some of my best luck with brands like Pamela’s and Bob’s Red Mill. These can easily be substituted for regular flour in almost any recipe and don’t carry the hefty price tag that others do. Not sure what to whip up? Check out Pinterest for some fantastic gluten free recipe inspiration or start following a few gluten free blogs online.
When you really want some delicious processed gluten free food (and let’s face it, we all crave it from time to time), try shopping online. Vitacost.com regularly offers some amazing deals on gluten free products and every order over $50 ships for free. Do yourself a favor and get yourself an Amazon Prime account and enjoy the benefits of free 2-day shipping every time you order some gluten free goodies.

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I won’t sugar coat it for you: you absolutely will spend more money living a gluten free lifestyle. Your friend’s hamburger will almost inevitably cost lot less than the salad you ordered because nothing else on the menu was gluten free. So cook at home as much as you can, saving you the frustration of pricey gluten free menus or places where you might get accidently glutened. And try some of these money saving tricks next time you hit up your local grocery store!

A Gluten Free Christmas!

This Christmas was definitely my favorite one so far. No, it wasn’t just because of the amazing food (though I am going to get to that in just a second). This year my entire family came to town for their first Mississippi Christmas – which meant I got to spend the week surrounded by the ones I love. And my husband and I didn’t have to worry about splitting time between families. We had both of them with us all week!

Combining families at Christmas can be a challenge though. It involves more than just combining bodies; it means combining traditions as well – and that includes the food. In my family, we always do a big Christmas Eve dinner. And since four of us are gluten free (five if you count my husband), we make the entire meal Celiac-friendly. Though my husband’s family doesn’t share our gluten allergy, this year we wanted them to share our love of some delicious gluten free food so I volunteered to host Christmas Eve dinner at our house.

What was on our gluten free menu?
– Turkey
– Mashed Potatoes
– Homemade GF Gravy (my favorite!)
– Gluten Free Stuffing (thanks to Glutino for this mix!)
– GF Dinner Rolls (courtesy of Chebe Bread Mix)
– Cranberry Sauce (my sister’s favorite)
– Squash (because we thought we should include at least one vegetable)
– Gluten Free Pecan Pie (Pillsbury, your GF crust is a lifesaver!)
and last but most definitely not least
– A ridiculous amount of GF cookies and wine!

No meal is complete without Chebe Bread

No meal is complete without Chebe Bread

GF Stuffing, courtesy of Glutino!

GF Stuffing, courtesy of Glutino!

Though this year’s meal turned out surprisingly perfectly (we barely had any leftovers everyone loved it so much), the dinner itself was not my favorite part. After all, isn’t dessert what everyone looks forward to during the holidays?

My favorite Christmas cookie is the white chocolate covered oreo. I always use Glutino Chocolate Vanilla Creme Cookies white chocolate bark to melt for the coating. They could not be easier to make – and they are so so delicious!

Add some sprinkles to make them festive!

Add some sprinkles to make them festive!

Oreos are great, but it just wouldn’t be Christmas without cut-out cookies! This year, my sister and I decided to try out Chebe Bread’s sugar cookie recipe made with Chebe All-Purpose Mix. Combined with our homemade frosting, these cookies were incredible. And did I mention also incredibly cute?!

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I also love pecan pie, especially during the holidays. Because nothing tastes better for dessert (and breakfast!) than Pecan Pie. This year, we used fresh pecans from my grandmother’s pecan orchard and Pillsbury GF Pie Crust. You can find the recipe here.

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But more than anything else during Christmastime, I love a good Christmas morning breakfast. For my family, Christmas morning would not be complete without homemade cinnamon rolls. And since going gluten free, we’ve always used Chebe Bread Cinnamon Roll Mix to whip a batch up. It makes for a hassle free – and delicious – Christmas day treat!

What you’ll need to make your own:
– Chebe Bread Cinnamon Roll Mix
– Eggs
– Milk
– Butter
– Powdered Sugar
– Vanilla Extract

It’s easy! Just follow the instructions for the Chebe Mix on the box. Then, roll the dough out completely flat. Cover the dough in a layer of melted butter and powdered sugar. Cut into strips and roll into mini-buns. Cook at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes.

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While your rolls are cooking, whip up some icing. Mix together powdered sugar, butter, milk and a dash of vanilla extract. Yes, I really wish I had exact measurements for the frosting, but unfortunately, we are not an exact measurement type of family. Next time I make some I’ll be sure to measure!

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When the rolls come out of the oven, pour some of your homemade icing over the top of them while they’re still hot. Serve warm with your favorite morning coffee and enjoy!

Hopefully each of you had a holiday week that was just as much fun, and as delicious, as mine was! 🙂

Merry Christmas!

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

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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

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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

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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

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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!

Dempsey Bakery: a Slice of Gluten-Free Heaven

Whenever I eat somewhere fabulous, I feel inclined to write about it. Especially when that place serves ONLY GLUTEN FREE FOOD! Talk about not having to worry about getting glutened! Everything on the menu at Dempsey Bakery in Little Rock, Arkansas is gluten, soy and nut free. Many of their items are also dairy free and egg free as well!

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I visited here yesterday afternoon for lunch with one of my customers. She suggested it, as she has many friends with gluten allergies and knew this place had a delicious (safe) lunch menu. As soon as I walked in, I knew I was going to love this place! It’s ridiculously adorable and the rows and rows of gluten free goodies smell absolutely incredible!

First thing was first. We needed to eat lunch. We both enjoyed a sandwich made with homemade gluten free bread! (I opted for the Muffaletta on this visit, but I would definitely try the adult grilled cheese if I ever have a chance to visit again).

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After we finished lunch, I scoured the bakery options for treats to bring home with me. There were rows and rows of cookies, cupcakes, breads, dinner rolls and cakes. With so many options, I sure did have a hard time making a decision. In the spirit of Halloween, I opted for this delicious gluten free monster cake.

Adorable AND Delicious!

Adorable AND Delicious!

I also grabbed a few iced shortbread cookies and a gluten free hot milk cake. (Which is currently being saved in the freezer so it will last longer).

Interested in ordering some of this deliciousness for yourself? Visit www.dempseybakery.com to take a look at their complete menu. They will ship anything you order to any state! (Orders must be placed over the phone as their online ordering isn’t up and running yet)

As for me? I’m adding Dempsey Bakery to my “must-do” list for my next visit to Little Rock!

Wegmans is my Gluten Free Heaven

If you’ve ever read a blog post by me before, you know that I am from Buffalo, NY. Sure, I may live in Mississippi now, but I was born and raised a “Yankee”. This past week, I had the opportunity to head back home for a business trip and extend it for the weekend so I could visit with my family. I am fortunate to travel to many cities for work, but heading home is one of the best benefits of all! Especially since the food in Buffalo, NY is SO SO SO good!

I will sum up this past weekend in seven words: Wine, Chicken Wings, Wegmans, Gluten Free Beer… After this weekend, I am starting to wonder what else you could possibly need in life.

It started Friday night with an innocent trip to Wegmans. I mean, the store WAS right next to the place we intended to have dinner at, so a short trip wouldn’t hurt anybody. Plus my Mother in Law was visiting with me and she had never visited the greatness that is Wegmans before. Well, was she in for a surprise. In my younger days, Wegmans was the norm for me. It was the ONLY grocery store that I shopped at. It was friendly, “homey” and delicious; why would I need to visit anywhere but there?

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Then I moved to Mississippi four years ago. Since then, I have experienced grocery shopping at Wal-Mart, the brightly light aisles of Kroger, and even Fresh Market. But none of those places compare to the shopping experience at Wegmans. With its chalk-board signs and home-like dim lighting, as soon as you walk through the doors you immediately feel welcome. Then, you head through the incredible fresh market area, with fresh fruits, vegetables, cheese and deli meat, as you make your way towards the Organic and Gluten Free section.

Now when I say “section”, I mean a Gluten Free section FIVE TIMES the size of the one at my local Kroger (at least). I mean so many options that you have NEVER EVEN HEARD OF to choose from. I mean gluten free mixes and pastas specially made by Wegmans at prices so LOW you’ll think you’re dreaming. (Gluten Free pasta for 1.29?!!! I was in Heaven!)

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*sigh*

*sigh*

I was so overwhelmed that I had to walk both Gluten Free aisles and the frozen Gluten Free section three times before deciding to purchase items. When I did finally make a decision, I threw so many things in my basket that I started to worry about how I would get them all back to Mississippi. (Don’t worry, I had packed an extra duffel bag, just in case).

Frozen Gluten Free Foods - at least part of the section!  Crazy!

Frozen Gluten Free Foods – at least part of the section! Crazy!

And Wegmans even makes their own Gluten Free products including pasta, cake, brownie, cookie and cornbread mixes!

Wegmans Gluten Free Awesomeness

Wegmans Gluten Free Awesomeness

By the end of the trip, I had ended up with the following items: Glutino Strawberry Toaster Pastries (2 boxes), Sam Mills Corn-Based Gluten Free Pasta (3 boxes), Wegmans GF Sugar Cookie Mix, Wegmans GF Spaghetti Noodles (3 Packages), Wegmans GF Cornbread Mix, Crunchmaster Cheezy Crisps, Tonya’s GF Kitchen Original Soft Pretzels, Snyder’s Gluten Free Pretzels, Glutino Chocolate Covered Gluten Free Pretzels, Mi-Del GF Pie Crust, Glutenfreeda Granola Cereal/Snack, Glutino Cornbread Stuffing Mix, and Glutino GF Pretzels. Seriously – I packed ALL of that stuff and carried it back to Mississippi with me. That is how excited I was!

Heaven in a Basket

Heaven in a Basket

To make a long story short, if you live in a city with a Wegmans, I am now so jealous of you it is unbelievable. When I lived in Buffalo, I didn’t even realize what I was taking for granted before. Enjoy every shopping moment that you have in that incredible store!

For those of you who live in Mississippi, don’t worry – our day will come. Though I am not exactly holding my breath until then….