30 March 2010

Goin’ GF, part deux

So when last I wrote, I started describing the experience of figuring out the GF lay of the land, so to speak. And our first ever GF shopping trip.

After that slightly depressing and disturbing shopping trip, we went home and regrouped. There had to be a way to do this GF thing without:

  • Breaking the bank
  • Forcing a 10 year old to eat gross things
  • Ending up with a 10 year old in constant pain

Not to mention the rest of the family – the whole house went GF, so that we didn’t have to worry about contamination, or weak moments.

Low and behold, hubby found the GF bible – 1000 Gluten Free Recipes. We literally POURED over this cookbook. In one sitting, I read the entire preface section that described various essentials of GF eating:

  • What is Celiac, how it’s diagnosed
  • What is gluten
  • What foods typically contain gluten
  • Hidden gluten
  • Ingredients for GF cooking
  • How to measure those ingredients

You see – as a mom, you want to provide for your kids. You want to give them good food, stuff that doesn’t make them sick. And I needed to figure this out.

It became an obsession, almost.

I made a shopping list of every single ingredient we needed. There were a lot.

So off we went, looking for these exotic ingredients. Rice flour, brown rice flour, corn meal, corn flour, sorghum flour, fava flour, etc… there were quite the variety of flours, with an enormous variety of starches – corn starch, potato starch, tapioca starch, Expandex (which, I discovered, is modified tapioca starch).

And there we stood, back at Whole Foods, in the middle of the baking aisle, loading the easy-to-find items into our carts.

Then the more difficult stuff needed to get checked off – Expandex? Couldn’t find it. We also needed to find things like gravy, GF soups, etc…

We flagged someone down, and they helped us find almost the rest of the items on our lists. (more about Expandex and other exotic flours in another post)

Some great finds in our wanderings: GF elbow macaroni in the bulk aisle, along with a GF fruit and cereal bar.

Both were a major convenience food score – I make a mean homemade mac’n’cheese. We also found the Annie’s instant GF mac’n’cheese. YAY!

At that time, we were still experimenting with breads, tho, for daily sandwich lunches. Finding all the flours greatly increased our abilities, because we had the GF bible (mentioned above). We also have tried package mixes – Pamela’s, Bob’s Red Mill – but the best tasting we’ve found is that Orgran mix (mentioned in my first post).

(Well, then there’s Udi’s – but not a mix, a frozen item, and hard to find and small of loaf. But more on that in another post).

Shortly after our Great Flour Expedition (henceforth to be called the GFE), we went back to the Whole Foods store to find something else, and were stunned to see all the GF items coalesced into a single, easy to locate area at the front of the store. They even had special coolers and freezers in the same area for the GF items. I don’t think I’ve ever been so grateful to a grocer before. No more searching for hours for items we needed.

So by now, you’re probably thinking: Wait a sec. Isn’t this a food blog?

Yea – three posts in and not a single recipe.

Ok – so I don’t really make my own recipes up (well, I do, but never document them. Sometime that is gonna cause me pain).

So – the below recipe is a new family favorite. Found in an issue of Delight GF Magazine (delightgfmagazine.com), you’ll probably want a few tweaks to make it fabulous.

Sweet Potato Latkes

  • 2 Russet potatoes, peeled and grated
  • 2 Sweet potatoes, peeled and grated
  • 1 Yellow onion, peeled and grated
  • 4 Eggs
  • 1 Cup potato starch
  • 2 Tbs ground cinnamon
  • 2 Tbs sugar
  • 1 Tbs garlic powder
  • 2 Tbs salt
  • Oil for frying
  • Sour cream or applesauce for garnish
  1. Grate the potatoes, sweet potatoes and onion, and strain for 10 minutes, then place into a large bowl.
  2. In a separate bowl, beat the eggs, then pour them and the other ingredients (except the oil) on the potato onion mix.
  3. Heat the oil in a large skillet. Form patties with the potato mixture, and fry on each side for 4 minutes, or until a crust forms.

This recipe is good – but a couple of gotchas.

  • Make sure to drain – make it 15 min, if you can.
  • Don’t mix and then leave the mixture for a while. You’ll end up with sweet potato onion soup.
  • If the oil isn’t hot enough, the latke’s will absorb oil whilst cooking. This is not yummy.

Enjoy eating!

26 March 2010

Goin’ GF

So we’re really pretty much new to this GF (Gluten Free) thing. It’s only been about 9 months, and when we realized we need to make a serious effort at this, it was a bit overwhelming.

For example – as I mentioned in my first post, have you looked at a school menu lately (late elementary)?

So – we embarked on a investigation/stock mission. See, we’re from the Midwest of the US (tho we currently live in the Puget Sound region of the Pacific North West). What does this mean? Having a pantry full of food from which we can pull to create a meal at any given point and time is a genetic trait. So is the deep freeze, in which we stocked such goodness as frozen loaves of bread, frozen pie crusts, etc…

So – first up was to eliminate the now poisonous food stuff. Even tho only the eldest is affected, we decided to make the house GF. So – many paper sacks of banned dry goods went to the food banks – pasta (Italian heritage, remember?), mac’n’cheese, boxes of those ‘instant’ side dishes (scalloped potatoes, rice-a-roni), soy sauce (did you know it contains wheat? yea, that was a surprise for us too), etc…

We also had to get rid of those convenience breads (refrigerator rolls, pizza crusts, etc…)

Oh – and then the condiments. Some of the normal stuff you find in your fridge may contain wheat, or wheat derivatives (thank whatever deity you like that there is now a regulation for identifying Wheat in foods  - right under the ingredients list, if a food contains Wheat, it must be noted). Read ingredients lists – carefully. You’ll become quite adept at this eventually, but for now, be slow and deliberate.

Actually, it’s probably a good idea to go through your whole fridge. Really. Pudding, for crying out loud. Gravy! Marinades that may contain soy sauce!

After we did this, we went to our local grocer. Um, yea. At the time,there was virtually nothing available at a standard grocer (yes, this is only 9 months ago).

So, we went to our local natural food mega-mart (ok, ok – Whole Foods). We knew that our best chance of finding stuff was likely there. We spent 2 overwhelming hours there trying to find things that a 10 year old would eat:

  • Bread that was edible (for a 10 year old)
  • Cupcakes (birthday parties, anyone?)
  • Stuffing! (the holiday were impending…)
  • Gravy (see above)
  • Mac’n’cheese

All over the store. Been into a Whole Foods? It’s a WONDERFUL store. But – at that time (9 months ago) – if you were looking for the few items that were not going to cause you pain, you’d be looking for a while.

We left with $100 grocery bill, and a bunch of frustration. We were trying to replace everything we had eliminated. BIG mistake.

See – going GF is a big change in eating habits. Yes, for a 10 year old, it’s traumatic. But eating GF is, in my opinion, healthier. You’re not depending on those convenience food crutches. What you buy and eat is, out of necessity, something that you know fully what is in it.

To be continued……………………..

22 March 2010

School lunches and sandwiches

My eldest (who must eat gluten free – GF) attends a public school.

Have you looked at public school menus lately. I challenge you to find ONE GF meal that would satisfy an almost 11 year old boy.


So – we make his lunch every day. Yep – I know, there are some families out there that do this with no prob. We’re a two earner household – both I and my husband work full time, so making lunch every day put a definite … change… into our schedule.

Finding an acceptable substitute to sandwich bread was a darn right challenge. It took us at least 2 months to settle on a brand/recipe. We tried at least 10 recipes.

We finally, with the approval of eldest son, settled on Orgran Gluten Free Easy bake Bread Mix (not to be confused with an easy bake oven cake mix).



We purchase from our local Whole Foods, which has created a whole GF section (more about our first GF shopping outing later).

This loaf bakes up full loaf size, unlike a lot of the frozen GF loaves (but there are frozen GF loaves that fantastic in and of their own right – that’s fodder for, you guessed it, another day).

This stuff, fresh from the oven, tastes sooooooo good. It’s a formulation that can be made without dairy and eggs, thus making it safer for those with multiple allergies. It has no yeast – it uses a combination of ‘raising agents’ to get loft. And – because it’s a GF bread, no need to knead.

Some tips for this bread:

  • If your allergies can withstand it, add the milk and/or eggs. The final product will be better for it.
  • If you are allergic to corn, this is not the box for you.
  • Get a digital scale – this, and many other GF recipes you will find, depend on weights. Your favorite domestic store will have a selection from which to chose…

Anyway- dinner time.


15 March 2010


Well, this is a new adventure.

I'm the mom of a 10 year old boy. He experienced consistent and persistent stomach pain for months, before we found out the true cause - he developed (or started expressing) a wheat sensitivity that may or may not be Celiac.

May or may not be - diagnostic tests to determine the presence of Celiac require an active response, and we're not going to put our son through pain again just to see if it's Celiac. We're working on the belief that it is Celiac (as his pain ceases when wheat is removed from his diet).

So - we're a family of four adjusting to the new world of GF (gluten free) cooking. Oh - and I'm from Italian heritage.

Yea, pasta.

Needless to say, the transition has been, um... difficult.

So I decided to start this blog as a way to share our experiences, difficulties, and successes - hopefully helping others.

Happy eating!