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!

Eat Local, Jackson: A Giveway!

Are you looking for a quality local restaurant while you’re in Jackson? Wondering which local restaurants might be best for a romantic date night or a Southern Style meal? Look no further than Eat Jackson.

I first discovered Eat Jackson a few months after I moved to Mississippi. I was unfamiliar with the city, and definitely didn’t know which places were best to eat at, so I would constantly search online for new spots to try out. Luckily, I discovered Eat Jackson, a local’s dream guide to the latest and greatest dining options that Jackson, MS has to offer. With food directories by location, craving and meal type, this site makes finding food an absolute breeze!

Here’s what makes it even more awesome. You can purchase an EatJXN Card for just $20, which gives you discounts and freebies at tons of local places throughout the year! Some of my favorite deals include Free Cheese Dip with the purchase of an entree at Sombra Mexican Kitchen, Two-for-One Dessert at Bravo! Italian Restaurant (their GF peanut butter pie is to die for) and Bar and 10% off your order at Campbell’s Bakery (which features GF options daily!). For a complete list of card deals, click here.

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For those of you who follow me on Twitter, you know how important that free cheese dip at Sombra is to me! And if you’ve read my post about Bravo!, you won’t want to miss out on that two-for-one dessert deal. So how can I help YOU benefit from this awesomeness?

One lucky reader will win a 2014 EatJXN card! That’s right, all of those awesome deals can be yours for an entire year. All you have to do is comment below and tell me what your favorite restaurant in Jackson is or which of these deals you’re most excited about. Tweet about the giveaway and “Like” Gluten Free Girl MS on Facebook to increase your chances to win!

One winner will be randomly selected on Friday, December 20th.

Good luck!

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! 🙂

Pillsbury Gluten Free Pizza Crust – Yay or Nay?

When Pillsbury came out with their line of gluten free products, I was more than just excited. I was ecstatic. Finally, something gluten free that would make my life EASIER! Let’s face it, when I come home from a long day at work, I don’t always want to make a pizza crust from scratch. (Although it is delicious that way!) And chocolate chip cookies? I have missed the days of just baking 3-4 cookies at a time from a tub of pre-made dough that is always ready to go in the refrigerator. Pillsbury’s new line of products was offering me just that! The ease of my gluten-filled days! But would it live up to my high expectations?

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The first thing we tried was the gluten free pizza crust. Though the crust is a little bit sweeter than I was expecting, and if you use a standard pizza pie pan it rolls out to make a fairly thin crust, both my husband and I really enjoyed it.

However, every time I’ve tweeted a picture of a pizza we’ve made with Pillsbury crust, or posted one on my Facebook page, I’ve gotten mixed feedback. I’ve heard from lots of people who have had trouble with the Pillsbury crust. Anything from the dough not cooking all the way through to toppings actually sliding off the crust! If you are one of those people, here is what I recommend to you:

DO NOT FOLLOW THE INSTRUCTIONS ON THE CONTAINER.

That’s right – you read that correctly. Be a rebel. Don’t follow the instructions on the container the dough comes in. I know that this is a challenge for those of us in the gluten free community because we live for following baking instructions, but trust me, I’ve had great success with this dough by NOT FOLLOWING THE INSTRUCTIONS!

So how do I do it?

It’s simple really. First, I roll out my dough.

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Then, instead of pre-cooking it in the oven before adding toppings, as suggested by the instructions on the container, I simply place my toppings directly on the uncooked dough. (Aren’t I such a wild child?!) Adding toppings is the fun part! We’ve made regular pizzas with just sauce, cheese and pepperoni. Sometimes I even mix it up and add a little sausage for the hubs.

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Or, when I really need a taste of home, I make a Buffalo Chicken Pizza. Those are my favorite. Instead of pizza sauce, I use Bleu Cheese as the base, sprinkle on Frank’s hot sauce (as desired), add some pre-cooked chicken and shredded cheese and bake.

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Now, here is the trick. Remember when I mentioned I don’t pre-cook my crust? I also don’t bake my pizza for as long as recommended on the packaging. The first time I ever made a pizza using Pillsbury dough, I simply kept an eye on it while it was cooking and after about 14 minutes at 400 degrees, I noticed it looked finished. It had cooked all the way through, even in the very center, so I was relieved. Now I know that my oven only requires about 13-15 minutes of cooking time, depending on how many toppings I pile on top of the crust.

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Your oven might not be quite as intensely hot as mine is. (I never keep any recipe I make in the oven as long as recommended) So if you find yours takes a little longer, don’t fret. The best thing to do is watch your first pizza and make a mental note for round two!

Hopefully this helps some of you who have been struggling with Pillsbury! And if not, stick with your other go-to crusts. Like Chebe Bread, which has always been a favorite of ours!

Good luck! 🙂

Buffalo Chicken Pizza – Gluten Free!

When it’s dinner time and your husband is craving pizza (and your last experience with Domino’s Gluten Free Pizza went something like this…), it’s time to head to the fridge and see what ingredients you can scrounge up for a homemade Gluten Free version. This weekend, we did have a Pillsbury Gluten Free Pizza Crust at the house, but we were all out of pizza sauce. This meant it was time to get creative.

So I grabbed the essentials for any quality, Buffalo-inspired, meal: bleu cheese and Frank’s hot sauce. Then I set out to make a delicious Buffalo Chicken Pizza.

What You’ll Need to Make Your Own:
– 1 Gluten Free Pizza Crust (I love Pillsbury and Chebe, but any GF crust will work!)
– 2 Chicken Breasts, cooked and chopped into bite sized pieces
– Frank’s Hot Sauce
– Shredded Cheese
– Bleu Cheese

The process couldn’t be easier! Simply roll out your pizza crust. I always use my handy pizza pan from Williams Sonoma so I get perfectly round pizzas every time. What a fantastic wedding gift idea that was! 😉

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Then spread a layer of bleu cheese over the crust as your sauce. Top the bleu cheese with the chicken, Frank’s and shredded cheese (as desired). Add vegetables if you are feeling a little bit healthier than we were!

Bake at 400 degrees for 12-15 minutes. What comes out is a Buffalo-inspired masterpiece that looks a little something like this:

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Enjoy!

These are a few of my favorite things

When I first went gluten free, like most gf newbies, I had a hard time navigating the gluten free world. I never knew which items to choose at the grocery store. Would those crackers be good or would they taste like cardboard? Honestly, for years I just avoided most gluten free substitutes altogether and gave up things like bread, pasta, bagels and crackers. It wasn’t until I moved in with my husband and started cooking for two of us that I realized he wouldn’t stand for that way of living. And once he was diagnosed with a gluten intolerance in March (aren’t we just made for each other?!), I really stepped up my game.

This is a list of a few of my favorite gluten free products. This list is in no way endorsed by any of these companies. And I am sure there are TONS of products out there that I still have yet to try. I’m sure this list will evolve over time, but for now, here are some of my faves:

Favorite Gluten Free Bread & Bread Mixes

Chebe Bread Mix – Chebe might be the one gluten free product I absolutely could not live without. From all purpose bread mix, to cheese bread to pizza crust and cinnamon rolls – all of their mixes are incredibly delicious and simple to make. Best of all, your non gluten free guests or family members will love everything you make just as much as you do! Just as my husband, who was addicted to my Buffalo Chicken Calzone with Chebe Cheese Bread LONG before he went gluten free himself. Chebe is hard to find in Mississippi, so I always order it online from Amazon or Vitacost.

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Schar Ciabatta Rolls – These are fantastic because you can keep them in your freezer and just pull a couple out at a time whenever you want to add dinner rolls to your meal! It saves you from having to make an entire mix (perfect for a household with only 2 people like ours) and saves prep time on busy evenings. Like Chebe, Schar is hard for me to find in Mississippi, so I always order it online.

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Udi’s Sandwich Bread – What can I say about Udi’s other than it is just delicious. Of all the gluten free breads I have tried, Udi’s is my absolute favorite when it comes to sandwiches. It holds up as you toast it, or add heaps of meat and cheese to it, and it tastes the most like gluten-filled bread (in my opinion). Udi’s has always been easy for me to find at my local grocery store.

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Favorite Gluten Free Flour

Cup4Cup – This flour is the rockstar of gluten free flours, in my opinion. It could not be easier to substitute gluten free flour for regular flour in any recipe whenever you use Cup4Cup. That being said, this awesomeness does come with a price tag. (Usually about $20/bag). I buy mine at Williams Sonoma.

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Bob’s Red Mill – When you’re not feeling the hefty price tag on Cup4Cup, Bob’s Red Mill is an awesome gluten free flour mix as well. And it’s usually pretty easy to find. I buy mine at Fresh Market.

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Favorite Gluten Free Pancake Mix

Ad-Hoc – I am obsessed with this pancake mix, as evident by this post from earlier this year. But, just like Cup4Cup flour, Ad-Hoc gluten free pancake mix comes at a price. So we usually save this mix just for special ocassions. I first discovered this mix at Williams Sonoma.

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Pamela’s Pancake Mix – When I am still craving delicious gluten free pancakes, but not loving the price tag on Ad-Hoc, check out Pamela’s. My husband is the ultimate pancake critic, and while he swears by Ad-Hoc, he really likes Pamela’s as well. Pamela’s is pretty easy to locate – you should be able to find it in your local grocery store or Fresh Market.

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Favorite Gluten Free Cookies

Tate’s Chocolate Chip – I hadn’t tried these cookies until recently, but boy am I glad that I did. These cookies are crunchy, which I normally don’t like in a cookie, but the flavor is INCREDIBLE. I found mine at Fresh Market.

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Glutino Chocolate Creme – This is my favorite gluten free “Oreo” substitute. As soon as a package of these makes it into our house, it is usually gone within a couple of days. They are just so hard to resist! I’ve always had an easy time finding these at the grocery store or Fresh Market.

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Pillsbury Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough – Making gluten free cookies usually takes time. Trust me, it’s usually worth it because they’re so fluffy and delicious when they come out of the oven, but there are times when I am just craving one or two cookies and don’t feel like making a whole batch. With Pillsbury’s new cookie dough, you can have freshly baked cookies anytime you’re craving them – in small or large batches! It makes life so so much easier! And it definitely doesn’t hurt that they taste so good. Plus, you can find it in your local grocery store!

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Try combining the Pillsbury Cookie Dough with the Glutino Chocolate Creme cookies… You end up with a heavenly combination that looks a little bit like this:

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Favorite Gluten Free Breakfast Items

Glutino Bagels – Oh my goodness, these bagels are heavenly. They are so good I could eat them every single day! My one pet peeve about these bagels is that they are not pre-cut. And since I keep mine in the freezer, I usually have to defrost one a little then, try to cut it before I can even toast it. When you’re running out the door on the way to work in the morning, that extra step for cutting can be super frustrating.

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Udi’s Blueberry Muffins – I think my husband is starting a fan club about these muffins. There’s really not much to say other than just try them. You won’t be disappointed. I haven’t tried the chocolate or lemon flavored muffins, but I am sure they are delicious as well! Udi’s products are typically pretty fantastic.

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Favorite Gluten Free Snacks

Goldfish Puffs – I am so grateful to Pepperidge Farm for this incredible gift to the gluten free world! Goldfish Puffs are SO delicious, you wouldn’t even know they were gluten free. In fact, if it weren’t for the tiny GLUTEN FREE label by the nutrition facts on the back of the package, you might not have known anyway. I’ve always been surprised that Goldfish doesn’t market this product better to the gluten free community.

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Snyder’s Gluten Free Pretzels – That’s right, your favorite pretzel brand is now available in a gluten free version! And did I mention it is delicious?! We can’t find these pretzels in stores around here so I order them from Vitacost online.

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Glutino Bagel Chips – These little jokers are sneaky delicious. I mean it, I guarantee you can’t eat just one. Or twenty. It’s crazy how fast a bowl of these will disappear!

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Favorite Gluten Free Beers

Bard’s – I first tried this in Austin and I’ve been wishing I could get my hands on more of it ever since. Unfortunately, there’s no place in MS to get my hands on a bottle of this delicious goodness. But I keep an eye out for it whenever I travel!

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Redbridge – Super easy to find, even in Mississippi, I’ve grown to love Redbridge. I usually purchase it at Fresh Market, but in bigger cities I’m sure you could find it all over the place.

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Omission – To be clear, Omission is a Gluten-Reduced Beer. Not Gluten Free. So if you have Celiac, I don’t recommend this beer for you. But I’ve tried it (and loved it!) and been fortunate enough to not have any reaction to it. Unfortunately, Omission is like Bard’s. Tough to find in Mississippi. But I’ve got my eyes open for it every time I hit the road!

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What do you love? Are any of these gluten free favorites on YOUR list?