GF Stuffed Shells by Guest Blogger Karen Brady of Veggie Food Lover

March 8, 2013

For me, there is something so relaxing about getting into the kitchen and creating a recipe.  No instructions.  No ingredient list.  Just your pantry, your fridge, your stove, and a creative mind.  My apartment kitchen is the size of a closet, but the moment I step in there to search the shelves of my pantry or the contents of my fridge…magic happens.

Very few people would consider the kitchen one of their happy places.  But, for me, cooking brings me so much joy and satisfaction.  And I love knowing what goes into my food, rather than simply buying something packaged or pre-made.  The care and love that goes into food really can shine through in a recipe.

The other night, I was trying to come up with a dish to make for dinner that would use up some of the ingredients that have been in my refrigerator as well as taking up space in my pantry.  I noticed I had some gluten-free large shells sitting in the back of the pantry on a shelf.  And from there…I went to work.

At first, I wasn’t sure what would emerge when I started putting ingredients together, but what emerged was a fantastic dish, packed with flavor, and able to satisfy every gluten-free person out there who misses or has never experienced the wonder of stuffed shells.  I mean…really…Italian food is simple, yet filled with flavor and textures.  And sometimes, the gluten-free community really misses out because we don’t have gluten-free manicotti noodles.

But, we now have gluten-free jumbo shells…and thus…my creative kitchen juices began to flow.  And below is the recipe I created:

 

Gluten-Free Vegan Stuffed Shells

Ingredients:

1 box Tinkyáda Brown Rice Grand Shells
1 cup Tofutti Better Than Ricotta
4 ounces Trader Joe’s Vegan and Gluten-Free Chorizo
1 cup green onions, chopped
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 (24 ounce) jar gluten-free pasta sauce
¾ cup Daiya Mozzarella shreds
2 tablespoons dried parsley flakes

1 tablespoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried sage
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
dash of cayenne pepper
dash of garlic salt
dash of garlic powder
¼ cup nutritional yeast or vegan grated parmesan

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Cook the pasta according to package directions, to al dente.  Drain the pasta noodles and reserve.  Place a sheet of wax paper large enough to hold all of the shells on a flat surface, with the pasta shells open-side up.

While the noodles cook, saute the green onions in olive oil for about 5 minutes, until soft.  Add the vegan/gluten-free chorizo until warmed through, about  5 more minutes.  Remove the pan from the heat.

In a bowl, mix the ricotta, parsley, basil, sage, thyme, red pepper, cayenne pepper, garlic salt, garlic powder and 2 tablespoons of nutritional yeast/vegan parmesan.  Fold together until all of the spices are incorporated.

Add the onions and chorizo to the bowl and fold in until completely mixed.

Carefully, spoon a tablespoon of the ricotta mixture into the shells until all of them are filled.

In a 11 x 7 inch ovenproof glass casserole dish, place about ½ cup of marinara sauce and evenly spread it around until it coats the bottom of the dish.  Lay the shells side-by-side, open side up, in the dish.  Then, spoon the remaining marinara sauce over the top.  Sprinkle the marinara coated shells with the vegan mozzarella shreds and the remaining 2 tablespoons of nutritional yeast/vegan parmesan.

Cover the dish with foil and bake for about 25 minutes.  Remove the foil and allow to bake for an additional 5 minutes.

Let the dish stand for 5 minute before serving.

~*~*~

Of course, if you aren’t dairy-free and meat-free, like me, feel free to use any gluten-free ricotta cheese, real sausage or chorizo, and actual mozzarella and parmesan.  For my dietary needs, I created this as a vegan dish…and you wouldn’t be able to tell.

My roommate is a meat eater who loves her cheese and she raved about how this tasted.  And she can be quite picky.

Sometimes, when you don’t put too much thought into something, you can step into the kitchen, turn on a few appliances, grab some basic ingredients, and create a dish that is something special and something that came directly from you and your mind.

As more fresh produce comes into season as Spring approaches, I encourage all of you to purchase or grow as much as you can and then find new and exciting ways to incorporate these ingredients into your food…be it for breakfast, lunch, dinner or even a snack or dessert…and in the process discover a new and exciting way to enjoy something as ordinary as an onion, a squash, or even a ripe tomato.  We all have inner chefs inside of us…just waiting for the right moment and the right ingredients to cook up something extraordinary.

Bon Appétit.

Karen Bradyhas been vegetarian since early 2010 and went gluten-free for medical reasons in February 2011.  She is an avid runner in training for her upcoming first marathon.  Other loves include cooking, traveling and writing, which she combines into her blog athttp://veggiefoodlover.wordpress.com.  She resides in Southern Indiana and can be reached at gaelbrady@gmail.com.


Gluten-Free Cinnamon Rolls by de’Lure Desserts and Bakery

March 1, 2013

I began my search for a cinnamon roll recipe several months ago.   I adore cinnamon and anything that has cinnamon in it.  My husband’s favorite morning treat with coffee is a good cinnamon roll.  Attempting a few recipes on my own proved either difficult to work with or just did not have the taste or texture I was quite looking for.  I shelved it for a period of time to work on other things, but that perfect cinnamon roll recipe just kept nagging at me.  Not long after one of my very talented interns started working with me, I mentioned the cinnamon rolls.  Her face lit up as it was also one of her favorites.  We tossed some ideas around and we talked of my experiences in trying to create one.  One day not long after that conversation I got a text with a photograph of what looked like the perfect cinnamon roll.  She had gone home and experimented on her own.  Three days later, I got to try one and could not believe how moist it still was, how perfect it looked and how wonderful it tasted.  She had done it!  Today, this is one of our best sellers and is carried in the freezer section of a local market, NOFO at the Pig.   Here is our recipe:

  1. Mix together in mixing bowl and set aside:
  • ¼ c. brown rice flour
  • ½ c. white rice flour
  • ½ c. sorghum flour
  • 1/3 c. almond flour
  • ¼ c. potato starch
  • ½ c. tapioca starch
  • ¼ c. dry milk
  • ¼ c. sugar
  • 1 ½ t. xanthan gum
  • ¼ t. baking soda
  • ½ t. salt
  1. In glass measuring cup add:
  • 1 T. yeast
  • 2 T sugar
  • 2/3 c. Warm Water

Gently mix and set aside to proof

  1. To dry ingredient mixture add 4 T. softened butter and mix on low to crumb or wet sand consistency.
  2. To proofed yeast add 1 egg (room temperature) and 1 t. vanilla extract and add to dry mixture.  Gently mix until dough forms.
  3. Place dough on a well oil sheet pan or one lined with parchment and let sit in a warm place for 30-45 minutes until doubles in size.
  4. Sprinkle counter with a little white rice flour, sugar, and tapioca mixture so dough does not stick.  Dough will be sticky and needs to be kneaded with flour mixture before rolling into a rectangle shape.
  5. Melt 2 T. butter and brush on dough mixture.
  6. Mix ½ c. brown sugar with 2 T. cinnamon and spread on buttered dough mixture.
  7. Very tightly roll so that there are no air pockets. Slice into approximately 12 pieces and place on baking dish.  Bake approximately 16-20 minutes in 350 degree oven.

We can be found at deluredessertsbakery.com, facebook: de’Lure’ Desserts and Bakery and Twitter

De’Lure’ began while recovering from a three year illness that was finally diagnosed as celiac.  I had left my corporate job to take a Summer off but was asked to help at a local café my husband and I frequented.  That part-time position led into baking when the pastry chef moved out of town.  Making these beautiful pastries and desserts was rewarding but could I not eat any of them.  This gave me the idea to begin experimenting at home.  The more I sampled to my family and friends, the more I wanted to make them available to the gluten free community.   I shared this with my friend and manager at the café.  She began sending me patrons who would come in asking for anything gluten free.  My husband encouraged me to pursue going after my own clients.  Eventually, I got the courage to ask our favorite gluten free Italian Restaurant if they would sample some of my creations.  It was not long before they had three of my items on their menu.   De’Lure products can now be found at several local establishments including that café where I began my new career and we have taken on two very talented bakers to help with all the private orders we also receive.  I could not be happier and have never looked back!


Gluten-Free Beer?!

February 26, 2013

Switching to Gluten-Free can be an overwhelmingly frustrating experience as one begins to realize the foods he or she cannot continue eating.  But, what about drinks, specifically, beer?!  Whether it is a sunny weekend afternoon, a social gathering or an evening after a long day of work, most of us wish to quench our thirst with an n-ice cold brewski.  However, for celiacs, there’s one major problem: all beer contains gluten!

Or does it?

Recently, brewers found that they could create gluten-free beer by substituting wheat and barley with sorghum.  Sorghum is a genus of numerous grass species and belongs to the sub-family of Panicoideae and the tribe of Andropogoneae (the tribe of big bluestem and sugar cane).

Anheuser-Busch now distributes their sorghum-based “Redbridge Lager” that is gluten-free!  Many other breweries are following suit and are creating their gluten-free alternatives.

Fellow Celiac Pedro Gonzalez founded New Planet Brewery as a 100% Gluten-Free facility in Colorado.  New Planet currently offers three beers: Blonde Ale, Pale Ale and Raspberry Ale.

Lakefront Brewery based in Wisconsin has been recognized as the first brewery to make certified organic beer.  It was also the first brewery to certify a gluten-free beer with the US Government.  Lakefront’s “New Grist,” is a Pilsner-styled beer with an ABV of 5.1%.

Both Lakefront and New Planet breweries have received critical acclaim at The Great American Beer Festival, which one of the most highly-regarded beer-tasting events in the world.

There are several other craft/mirco-breweries that are dedicated to making gluten-free beer.  Deschutes Brewery, one of the more recognizable micro-breweries, is currently working on creating a Gluten-Free Option. The website, glutenfreebeer.org is an excellent, up-to-date resource for finding breweries that offer gluten-free alternatives.

So, is it happy hour yet?!

It’s ALL about ATTITUDE

February 25, 2013

Focusing on what you CAN HAVE or CAN’T?  – It’s ALL about ATTITUDE!

Valentines Day.  St. Patty’s Day.  Easter.  Tired of feeling left out because of your dietary restrictions?  Frustrated you can’t eat what you really want to?  Wish people would be more accomodating to your needs?

‘LET YOUR ATTITUDE GO’. Focus on what you CAN HAVE rather than what you CAN’T HAVE.  You and your friends JUST may have an absolutely amazing time!

Imagine the disaster Valentines Day could have been; 5 kids with multiple allergies, classroom parties with food included and Valentines Day chocolate grams sent from parents.  Instead, it was a truly delightful time for them all.

Our simple strategy will work for anyone.

  1. Talk to people – Find out what activities are being planned; will food be included? Don’t worry about being an inconvenience.  Communication helps everyone.
  2. Get involved – Ask how you can help out.  Most others will love extra hands, particularly when planning for those with food allergies.
  3. Offer alternatives – Whether providing for yourself or others, know you are creating an inclusive environment for everyone.  Need I say more?

Although it took a bit of pre-planning, the results were fabulous.

  • 4 dozen allergy~friendly cookies provided for 2 classrooms in which everyone enjoyed~
  • Watermelon hearts and orange arrows for a class of 22.  Healthy, fun and NOT ENOUGH.  Go figure!
  • Valentines Candy Grams with chocolates? Alternative chocolates were pre-made, pre-wrapped and sent in.

In my opinion, there is ABSOLUTELY NO REASON to NOT be a part of the celebration fun.  We are fortunate to be managing food allergies during a time where there are so many options available, and allergy awareness and education are rampant.  Food alternatives are everywhere!

Can’t have milk?  You may consider soy, coconut or flax milk.   No eggs? Replacers include applesauce, gelatin or flax meal.  No wheat or gluten? Rudi’s Gluten-Free Bakery has a multitude of possibilities!  Looking for nut-free, egg-free and milk-free products too?  Rudi’s Organic Bakery probably has some products you will love too.

Celebrating with food?  Provide alternatives everyone can enjoy.  Dying to eat some Reeses Peanut Butter cups but you’re allergic to milk and/or chocolate? Make your own. Want to be a part of the Candy Gram fun? Find out who is in charge, and send alternatives!

Your ATTITUDE really is everything!

Daniella Knell, is the owner of Smart Allergy~Friendly Education. As a mom of 2 having 6 of the top 8 food allergens, she is actively involved in raising allergy awareness within her community.  As an allergy awareness educator and consultant, you can also find her presenting in local schools and hospitals, blogging and offering one-on-one consulting.  Looking for allergy~friendly ideas for your household? Check out her ideas on www.smartallergy.blogspot.com, Facebook, Linked In or Twitter

Happy to be Gluten-Free w/ guest blogger G-Free Laura

February 22, 2013

There is so much negativity surrounding the gluten-free diet – most of which comes from people that don’t understand what the diet and lifestyle entails. I like to switch that gluten-free frown upside-down though, and I prefer to spread g-free love whenever and wherever I can.

I think some of my non-GF friends and family wonder how I don’t cry myself to sleep at night. They can’t imagine a life without gluten, but I think it’s absolutely silly to base happiness on fried food and loaves of white bread.

I usually tell the Negative Nancys that I am happy I live this lifestyle. What some look at as a curse, I call a blessing. Why? Because it has changed my life in so many positive ways:

I used to eat like a 5-year-old, but not anymore.

Okay, sometimes I still do eat like a 5-year-old, but I have gotten so much better since going gluten-free. While growing up, I was probably the pickiest child you could meet. I made my mom peel any and all fruit I put into my mouth, and I sure as heck wasn’t going to come close to any type of vegetable (raw, heated, steamed, roasted – it didn’t matter).

Since going gluten-free, I have tried so many new things. For example – spaghetti squash. Have you tried spaghetti squash yet? If you haven’t, you MUST. This “veggie posing as pasta” dish is a great alternative because we all know how pricey gluten-free noodles can be! When I took my first bite I was in awe that 1) I was eating a large serving of vegetables, and 2) I was thoroughly enjoying each bite. If it hadn’t been for my gluten-free diet, I’d probably still be turning my nose up to any recipe with squash as an ingredient.

I now know how to read labels the right way.

The only thing I used to be concerned with when I read a food label was the calories. That’s what I based my entire day of food on – a silly number. I now know this is not how we are meant to feed our bodies, but it took going gluten-free to teach me that.

I no longer count calories like a crazy person, and instead look for wholesome foods that actually feed the body. For example – last night I added flaxseeds to my overnight oats which I enjoyed in a scrumptious breakfast today. I am 100% positive that I would not have a bag of flaxseed in my kitchen if I wasn’t gluten-free, but now that I do, I am able reap the benefits. For example, the fiber in flaxseed helps to keep me “regular” (yes, that word does exist for our kind!) and can even help lower my cholesterol. It also has been shown to protect against breast cancer, and heart disease in women. Would I know this if I was still a glutton for gluten? Nope.

I used to only think “inside” the box.

I’m not joking; everything I ate was from a box – cheez-its, pretzels, wheat thins, granola bars, hot pockets, Lean Cuisines, chicken nuggets. My goodness, I did not feed my body the way I needed to!

Today, most of my eating is done “outside” of the box. Ninety percent of what I eat on a daily basis is fresh – eggs, fruit, unprocessed meat, baked purple potato chips, veggie stir-fry, fresh salsa…I actually make the food I eat now, I just don’t microwave it.

I found my calling!

My degree is in marketing, and while I was attending a conference as a college student, a presenter stressed the importance of a personal brand. The entire concept of a personal brand was especially important to me at the time: a soon-to-be graduate that needed anything and everything to put myself ahead of the other thousands of graduates going after the same thing as me.

So as I sat there listening to the presenter, I asked myself, “How can I be a brand?” Then it hit me – be G-Free Laura! It’s your niche; it’s your passion; it’s YOU. The decision was made right then and there. When I returned home from the conference I started my blog and I couldn’t be happier with how far it has come.

Going gluten-free has allowed me to find my passion. I care about the gluten-free community and try to spread awareness whenever I can. I enjoy the opportunity to help new brands get their name out there, and I absolutely love connecting with everyone on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest…you name it.

What about you?

How has going gluten-free made you happy? What aspects of your life have changed since going on the diet? Do you ever wish that you could go back to the gluten-filled world?

Laura Hanley, known as G-Free Laura, has been gluten-free since 2009 and reviews  products,restaurants, and writes aboutgluten-free experiences on her blog, www.gfreelaura.com.Laura’s passion for spreading g-free love has led her to become a Guest Blogger for the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness, writing bi-weekly reviews on the Gluten-Free Hot Products Blog. Visit Laura onFacebookTwitterPinterestLinkedin, and Google +

Great Ways to Stay in Shape Indoors!

February 19, 2013

Work. Kids. Errands. Winter. What do these four things have in common? They keep you from working out and staying in-shape!

Multiple studies prove that maintaining an active lifestyle is beneficial for physical and mental health.  Upon regular exercise, most people find that they experience increased energy levels, better mood swings and higher levels of confidence.

However, we have a hard time motivating ourselves to break a sweat during the winter months. Within 4 days of routine activity the vast majority of people notice a positive impact on their overall health.  Here are some of my ideas to solve this problem.

Get a Winter Gym Membership
Yes, gym memberships can be expensive.  However, not as much as you think!  Many places of employment have discounted corporate gym memberships for their employees.  Be sure to check with your employer about any athletically related discounts.  If your employer does not sponsor corporate gym memberships, then try visiting Costco.  Costco offers 2-year memberships at 24-Hour Fitness for $15/month, plus the membership applies to all 24-Hour Fitness locations nationwide.  If you do not have a Costco membership, your average local gym will cost between $40-$80 per month.  The cost of a gym membership is my primary source of motivation for working out—otherwise it’s a waist of money!  Furthermore, from yoga to spinning, most gym memberships include free classes.  People are much more likely to show up to their gym and workout with greater intensity if they are part of class.

Do Not Have Time and or Money for a Gym Membership?
There is an array of excellent home workout videos on the market.  The beauty of home workout videos is that they cost much less than a gym membership and they conform to your schedule.  Plus, if you tend to get embarrassed or intimidated when working out with others, a home video is a great remedy.  Here is a link to the best workout DVDs on the market according to Fitness Magazine. These videos are developed by some of our nation’s most knowledgeable trainers and nutritionists.

There are also a series of excellent websites and blogs that post daily indoor exercises to keep you from getting bored and losing motivation.  Here is a link to a website with great recommendations for simple exercise that will certainly make your heart pump and your muscles burn!

How’s Life at the Office?
There is a very informative and intriguing article by the New York Times, which describes the negative side affects of your cardio and muscular health as a result to life in the office.  The article also provides some simple solutions that will make office-life much more active and enjoyable!

Get the Rest of the Family Involved!
Motivating yourself to workout more often with greater intensity is much easier when you have people who you are close with joining in.  Your family members are great to workout with because they will drive your competitive spirit.  Here is a link with great ideas for getting your family involved in the workout routine.