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!

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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!

Chocolate Chip Bread Bombs

I like chocolate and I like bread. (Probably too much, honestly.) So when I saw the recipe for these Chocolate Chip Bread Bombs on Chebe’s website, I knew that I had to try them out! I mean seriously, mini rolls loaded up with chocolate? What could be better?!

Lucky for me, I had all of the ingredients I needed already in the house. To make your own, here is what you will need:

Ingredients
1 package Chebe All-Purpose Bread Mix
2 large eggs
2 tbsp. softened butter
1/2 cup sugar (original recipe calls for 1/4 cup)
4 tbsp milk or milk substitute
Chocolate Chips (to your liking)

Directions for Baking:

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Mix the Chebe mix, eggs, butter and sugar together. Then, add the milk 1 tbsp. at a time. If you’re anything like me, you may find that once the milk has been added, kneading the dough with your hands is easier than using a mixer. It’s okay to get your hands dirty on this one! Once well mixed, add in the chocolate chips.

Separate dough into small balls on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake at 375 for 12-15 minutes or until done.

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Enjoy the chocolatey goodness! 🙂

Gluten Free Pecan Pie

What do you do when you’re cleaning out your refrigerator and you notice the Pillsbury gluten free pie crust is about to expire? You make a pie of course!

This afternoon, when I noticed this very thing was about to happen to my own pie crust, I just knew I couldn’t let it go to waste. So I ransacked the pantry for any ingredients I thought I could make into some semblence of a pie. Low and behold, I got lucky. I had all of the ingredients I needed for a pecan pie (my favorite!)

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What You’ll Need to Make Your Own:
– Crushed pecans (to your liking)
– 2 TBSP melted butter
– 1 Cup brown sugar
– 3 eggs
– Dash gluten free vanilla
– Pinch of salt
– 1 Cup Karo Light Corn Syrup
– 1 Gluten Free Pie Crust (I used Pillsbury this time, but I’ve made crusts from scratch many times in the past with gluten free graham cracker crumbs that are delicious!)

You know why I love this pie recipe? Because it could not be easier! Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Simply combine the butter, eggs, corn syrup, brown sugar, salt and vanilla in a bowl. Mix for 2-3 minutes. Add pecans.

Pillsbury pie crust is easy to use as well! Simply roll the dough until flat onto a piece of wax paper or parchment paper. Then take your crust and flip it into your pie dish. Fill in any cracks in the crust using your fingers. Pour in the pie mixture and voila! You are finished!

Pop in the oven and bake for 30-40 minutes. Enjoy!

Easiest Cookies of All Time!

It’s no secret that I love to eat and that my husband and I both have a serious sweet tooth. But being gluten-free has its definite disadvantages when it comes to baking. Don’t get me wrong – I enjoy spending time in the kitchen. But sometimes a girl just wants a freshly baked cookie without all the hassle!

So when I found this gluten free chocolate chunk cookie dough from Immaculate Baking Company, I had to try it! Back in my gluten days, I loved popping in some simple Pillsbury cookies from the packaged dough I bought at Kroger and knowing that I would be eating and my house would smell like freshly baked cookies within 10 minutes. I mean, how easy was that?! Immaculate Baking was promising the same thing!

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The cookies were simple to bake. I only made 6 of the 12 cookies. (The other 6 are in my refrigerator waiting to be baked at a later date. Ah, the joys of pre-prepared dough!) Once my oven was preheated, I popped them in the oven for about 12 minutes and soon I was enjoying one of the greatest gluten-free cookies I had tasted in some time.

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No joke, these cookies were PHENOMENAL. Both my husband and I could not eat them fast enough. They were the perfect texture and consistency and best of all – SO RIDICULOUSLY EASY!!! I will definitely be making these again. Hopefully soon!

Gluten Free Cinnamon Roll-Ups

It’s no secret that I love Chebe bread. In fact, I could start a Chebe bread fan club I love it so much. Usually I have to order it online from Amazon.com because I can’t find it in any local stores, but recently a local health food shop downtown started stocking it. Needless to say, our house is fully stocked up now!

So when this weekend rolled around, my brand new box of cinnamon roll mix was calling my name. Nothing like some freshly baked cinnamon rolls, or roll ups as I like to make them, to start the day.

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The thing that I love best about Chebe mix is that it couldn’t be easier. Just preheat your oven to 375 degrees and follow the instructions on the box! All you need is the mix, milk, vegetable oil and 2 eggs!

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Once your dough is ready to go, take a rolling pin and flatten it out. Brush melted butter over the dough.

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Then take some brown sugar and cinnamon or cinnamon sugar and sprinkle it over the top. (I always through in some powdered sugar as well, but I love powdered sugar! Totally up to you!) Cut your delicious dough into strips.

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Now it’s time to roll up those strips! Place them on a cookie sheet with the seam facing down and bake.

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Once they come out of the oven, I always add a little melted butter to the top (just to soften them up a bit!). Today I sprinkled some powder sugar on top. But sometimes I like to mix powdered sugar, butter and milk together to make a “frosting” topping. Or maybe you have a frosting mix of your own that you’d like to try! No matter what, these rolls are delicious!

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Enjoy!

Gluten-Free News!

So many exciting things are happening in the gluten-free community, I feel like I must share some news!

First and foremost, Pillsbury has announced a line of Gluten-Free products. This includes cookie dough, pie and pastry dough and pizza dough! For a frequent baker and pizza lover like me, this is incredible news! Think about how much easier cooking will be with the help of Pillsbury! Hopefully these gluten-free items will be as delicious as Pillsbury’s non gluten-free line. Can’t wait to try them!

http://www.pillsbury.com/Products/Gluten-Free

Next in big GF news this week, Dunkin Donuts is adding gluten-free donuts and muffins to their menu items! Can you even believe it?! As if their delicious coffee items weren’t enough, they will soon be catering to the gluten-free community with delicious cinnamon sugar donuts and blueberry muffins. YUM! Can’t wait to try one of these delicious treats!

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-06-19/dunkin-to-sell-gluten-free-doughnuts-in-fast-food-first.html

With so many new delicious gluten-free options, dieting sure will be hard!