Category Archives: Gluten-Free and Food Allergy Resources

No, you’re not dreaming. Rice Chex IS now gluten-free!

I read, a couple of weeks ago, that General Mills was changing its Rice Chex recipe to substitute the gluten-containing barley malt with gluten-free molasses.  Though I had a hard time believing it, it does fit with Gneral Mills’ policies over the last few years;  they have consistently been putting forth effort to please gluten-free customers, unlike Kellogg’s, which is downright antagonistic to special diets (like adding wheat starch to formerly gluten-safe cereals, like Corn Pops).  However, I checked my store’s shelves, and all the boxes of Rice Chex still had “barley malt extract” listed in the ingredients.  ~sigh~  Oh, well.

However, on a short grocery run last night, I decided to check again.  Lo and behold, mixed in with “old” boxes of barley-malt-containing Rice Chex were new boxes, sporting slightly different labelling, and molasses in the ingredients list!!!  Woo-hoo!!!  The box is even labelled as gluten-free, both on the front, and on the back.

So, if you’re like me, and really missed Rice Chex (which I’ve loved since childhood), and had to content yourself with the occasional (and very hard to find) Health Valley gluten-free Rice Crunch ‘Ems, you can now pull down — from your normal grocery shelves — an additional, tummy-pleasing box of Rice Chex.

Just make sure you double-check the ingredient list, to make sure the box you have uses the new, gluten-free recipe.

Trader Joe’s Gluten-Free Granola

I used to shop at Trader Joe’s a lot.  But, it’s nearly a half-hour away, and since my regular grocery trips already take me to three separate stores trying to accomodate our gluten-free, dairy-free, peanut-free diet, I needed to trim down my stops.  Until last week, I hadn’t been there for a good six months.

But, on my rice milk recipe (which I still make every 10 days or so), a reader recently posted a comment about Trader Joe’s now having calcium-containing, gluten-free rice milk.*  And, at a recent homeschooling field trip, an old acquaintance had brought some of Trader Joe’s gluten-free granola, and wanted me to try it.  She’s not gluten-free;  she just likes the taste.  Wow.  You don’t often find non-gf’ers eating g.f. food just for the taste of it.  So, I thought it was time for a trip.

I have good news and bad news about TJ’s g.f. granola.

The good news is that it is really tasty.  At my store, there were two types:  Loaded Fruit & Nut, and Tropical Forest.  “Loaded” lives up to its name.  Tropical Forest has vanilla and coconut flavor (though, to my 6yo’s dismay, no actual coconut), and has Brazil nuts (which he, who is mostly nut-free, seems to tolerate well) and dried banana chunks.  I do not like those banana chunks.  They’re chewy/hard, brown and altogether unappetizing.

Both granolas’ substance is primarily made up of very small corn flakes and BB-sized nuggets that are strikingly similar to Perky’s Nutty Rice cereal.  Both granolas also contain flax seeds and sesame seeds.  The cereal is not clumped, like “normal” granola.

The only bad news, other than the weird banana chunks, is the price.  It’s $3.69 for a 12 oz. pouch.  $3.69.  That’s a chunk of change for a smallish bag that makes about five reasonably-sized servings.

While the granolas were worth a try, and I might buy them again on a special occasion, the price is prohibitive.  For our one-income family who’s already shelling out a chunk o’ change for weekly groceries, that is just too expensive for a bag of cereal.

However, all is not lost;  getting the granola has inspired me to try concocting my own.  I don’t know why I’ve never tried it before.  I make homemade g.f. everything, and have long-lamented the dearth of good g.f. granolas on the market.  I think, though, that it would be pretty easy to combine some Nutty Rice, some g.f. corn flakes, mixed dried fruits and seeds like pumpkin and sunflower, and maybe even stir them together with a light honey-sugar syrup so that it would cause the ingredients to clump.  I’ll post a recipe, once I try it, if it’s successful.

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* They do, indeed, now have g.f. organic rice milk.  It comes in quart and half-gallons.  $2.69 for a half-gallon, which is reasonable.  It does contain calcium and a few other vitamins.  HOWEVER, it contains NO protein.  I got a few half-gallons for back-up, but I can’t see serving my kids a protein-free liquid as their staple “milk.”  

Korean Chicken Noodle Soup (sort-of Ddeok-guk)

The best food critic in the Phoenix area, Howard Seftel, wrote something a long time ago that really stuck with me.  He said something to the effect that people think they want pure, real ethnic food, but when it comes down to it, so much of it is so contrary to our American palates that most Americans really do better with a fusion of styles.  Ever seen Bizarre Foods?  Ack.  I think Seftel was on to something.  It’s true for me, anyways.  I think of myself as fairly adventurous, food-wise.*  But, walking through, say, an Asian market, will let me know just how far I am from being truly immersed in genuine ethnic cooking.

Anyways.

All of that is just a disclaimer to state that I’m aware that my “ethnic” recipes are probably mere shadows of their cultural counterparts.  It’s my goal to produce recipes that are new and playful, yet ones of which all six members of my family members will say, “Yum!  May I please have more?”

So.

I created this recipe because I’m newly obsessed with some strange-ish Korean “noodles.”  Made from sweet rice flour, these soft, chewy, oval-shaped pads are known by ALL sorts of monikers:  rice cakes, ddeok guk ddeok, rice ovalettes, dduckgook, duk-guk, and more.  When cooked, they have an interesting, pleasing texture and they soak up the flavors of the dish.

I buy them at a local Asian food store — a 1.5 lb package is found in the refrigerated section, and costs only $1.99.

Many thanks to the Wordpress blog Muffintop for this picture of plain ovalettes, soaking.  Muffintop is a foodie blog, well-worth a visit.  (Though the recipe below does not require pre-soaking them, I found this to be the best picture of the ovalette rice cakes.) 

As always, all of my recipes are gluten-free, and as of the last year, they’re all dairy/casein-free, too.

Korea Chicken Noodle Soup
Serves 6-8
Time to prepare and cook:  about 45 minutes, 30 if you’re quick 😉

  • 1 Tbsp rice bran oil (or other cooking oil) 
  • 3-5 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup (3-4 stalks) finely sliced green onions (also known as spring onions or scallions)
  • optional:  about 3 oz. mushrooms, finely sliced
  • 1/4 tsp finely ground black pepper
  • 1/2 sheet Nori, crushed (Nori is roasted seaweed sheets, often used for sushi)
  • 2 quarts (8 cups) chicken stock (I use Organic Chicken Better Than Bullion — at last check, their regular, non-organic Chicken BTB contains whey)
  • 1 quart (4 cups) water
  • 3-4 cups diced cooked chicken (I used some leftover grilled chicken breasts)
  • 1.5 lb package Korean rice cakes/rice ovalettes
  • 4-5 cups baby spinach (or chopped baby bok choy or short bok choy)

In a 6-8 quart stock pot on the stovetop, heat the oil over a medium-low heat.  Add the minced garlic and cover.  Cook for 3-5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the garlic is tender but not browned.  Add the green onion and optional mushrooms, bring heat up to medium, stir and cook for 2-3 minutes.  Stir in the black pepper and Nori.  Add the chicken stock and water, turn the heat up to high, cover, and bring to a boil.  Stir in the diced chicken, and bring back to a boil.  Stir in the ovalette rice cakes and bring back to a boil.  Immediately turn off the heat and stir in the spinach (or bok choy), stirring just until the veggies start to wilt.  Serve immediately.

Note:  Do not over-boil the soup once the ovalette rice cakes are added.  You want them to just heat through and soften a bit.  Leftover soup is good (I’m eating some right now!), but reheating will cause the ovalette rice cakes to soften considerably.

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*In fact, one of the things that has broken my heart about being gluten-free is now I’m afraid of all the ethnic hole-in-the-wall restaurants that my hubby and I used to search out and claim as our own.  So much of them are not gluten-safe, and unless I speak Persian or Korean or Ethiopian, I can’t really ask the chef if a dish contains any traces of wheat.    

Gluten-free baking ingredient tip!!!

Recently, in a trip to my local Asian food market, I picked up a bag of Jawar Flour (Laxmi brand).  I had no idea what it was, but I did know that an assortment of bean flours are used in Indian cooking.  And, it was only $1.99 for a 2 lb bag, so it was worth an experiment.  The ingredients say “jawar beans.”

Yesterday, I decided to Google jawar flour to see what it was, and how I could use it.  Well, much to my amazement, I found many sources that proclaim that jawar flour is sorghum flour!!!  Now, sorghum is a grain, not a “bean,” so there’s still a little skepticism in me, but maybe it’s just a translation issue. 

I also found that it is more commonly spelled “jowar.”  I also found it as “juvar.” 

 sorghum flour = jowar flour = jowari flour = juwar flour = cholam flour  Notes:    This is widely used in India and Africa, especially by poor farmers who can’t afford wheat flour.  It’s somewhat bland but very nutritious and gluten-free.  You can sometimes find it in health foods stores, but you can get it for less in an Indian market.

from The Cook’s Thesaurus page of Non-Wheat Flours

This really makes me happy, because I use a lot of sorghum flour, Bob’s Red Mill brand, at $3.45 a pop for a 24 oz bag.  Buying it at the Asian market is going to save me 50%!!  Woo-hoo!

I tried making some flatbread with it last night (mixed with white rice flour and masa), and while it was tasty, it wasn’t very “bready” and didn’t hold together very well.  I still need to experiment with that.  In the meantime, I found a very simple, well-written, nicely illustrated “recipe” for making flatbread from just the sorghum/jowar flour and water.  I’m going to try it.  Here’s another recipe that sounds really good, though I had to chuckle at anything deep fried that’s called “very healthy.”

I seem to have a hard time finding it online for purchase… but it could be, again, a translation issue.  I found it here for $2.99 for 2 lbs.  You might be better off hitting the Indian aisle of your local Asian grocery, if you are in a big enough city to have one.     

Gingerbread for Cookies & Houses (GFCF)

This is a sturdy, versatile dough that is just right for gingerbread cookies — either crispy or chewy — and for the walls and roof of your allergen-free, gluten-free, casein-free gingerbread house.  The cookies are not super-sweet, so they work well for icing.  (I used royal icing for the gingerbread house;  many recipes can be found online.)

Unless you’re making a gingerbread cottage, you’ll need at least half of the dough to make a house.  Use the rest to make an assortment of rolled out, decorated cookies.  (I used Bob Vila’s Colonial House template and instructions, and it took just over half of the dough.  Well, technically, since I doubled the below recipe, and the house took just over one quarter of the dough.)

If the recipe looks slightly familiar, that is because I altered it from another recipe I posted on this blog, the always-popular Big Batch Gluten-Free Christmas/Sugar Cookies.

This recipe does freeze very well.  Thaw in the fridge, then bring to room temp before rolling.

Click here for pics of the house my kids and I made with this recipe.

(12/13/09 Note:  It’s getting harder to find amaranth flour.  Today, I made the cookies, substituting ½ cup quinoa flour and ½ cup millet flour for the amaranth, and they turned out great.  I also altered the amounts of sweet rice flour and brown rice flour.  ALSO — Bob’s Red Mill Brown Rice flour seems to be milled more finely than Arrowhead Mill’s.  If you use Arrowhead Mill’s, expect your cookies to be a tad grittier.)

GFCF Gingerbread Cookies

Makes about 8 dozen medium-sized cutout cookies

  • 1 cup amaranth flour
  • 2 cups potato starch
  • 3 cups sweet rice flour
  • 3 cups brown rice flour
  • 2 Tbsp xanthan gum
  • 3 Tbsp baking powder
  • 3 Tbsp potato flour (optional)
  • 2 Tbsp ground ginger (or more, if you like ’em really gingery)
  • 1 Tbsp ground allspice
  • 1 Tbsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 cups dark brown sugar
  • 2 cups shortening
  • 1 cup eggs (depending on size, 4-5 eggs.  Measure into a glass measuring cup.)
  • 1/2 cup + 2 Tbsp dark molasses (OR 1/3 cup blackstrap molasses)
  • 1 Tbsp salt
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. In a large bowl, with a whisk, mix together the flours, starch, xanthan gum, baking powder, and spices until well-combined.  Set aside.
  3. In another large bowl, cream together the powdered and brown sugars, shortening, eggs, molasses and salt.
  4. To the sugar mixture, add flour mixture, about 2 cups at a time, stirring with a wooden spoon.  Once the flour mixture is mostly incorporated, knead the dough in the bowl, slowly punching the dough down in the middle and folding the sides of the dough into the middle.  Or, put the dough on a non-stick surface (like a silicone mat or a marble slab), and knead it on there.  Incorporate all the flour mixture until you have a stiff dough.
  5. If the dough is too dry, and will not hold all of the flour, add a Tbsp of water at a time until it will gather into a ball.  Resist adding water if at all possible.  The dough works best if it is not very moist.
  6. If you refrigerate or freeze the dough, bring to room temp before rolling.  For the most uniform cookies, and definitely for the large sections required for gingerbread houses, roll the dough right onto a large piece of foil or parchment, then pick up the sheet and transfer to the cookie sheet.  Working with about 1/4 of the dough at a time, roll the dough 1/4″ thick.  (Bob Vila’s gingerbread site had a great suggestion:  Use 1/4″ round dowels as a guide for uniform thickness, as illustrated on the right.)  From this dough, either cut sections for your gingerbread house from a template, or use cookie cutters.
  7. Greasing the pan is not necessary, but I favor using nonstick foil.  For best results, use insulated pans.  (Hint:  for your own insulated pans, take two regular jelly roll pans, and between them, add a layer of heavy duty aluminum foil that has been wrinkled, then partially smoothed out.  This will create an air gap between the two pans.)
  8. If you roll your cookies to 1/4″ thickness and bake on insulated pans as suggested, baking time is 19 minutes.  If your cookies are thinner, and/or you’re using thinner pans, bake time will be shorter.  When done, the corners of your cookies will just start to brown, and the middles will no longer feel spongy.  Also, you can bake for 16-17 minutes to produce a softer, chewier cookie (this is not recommended for gingerbread houses, though).

GFCF Snack, Breakfast, and Lunch Ideas

A post I wrote a year ago for gluten-free snack, breakfast and lunch ideas continues to receive a lot of hits.  Since I wrote that, though, we have also had to eliminate casein from the diets of two of my four children.  Casein is the protein in milk.  Being casein-free is a lot more difficult than being lactose-free.  Casein is the protein, lactose is the sugar.  You can remove the sugar from milk, but you can’t remove the protein.

So, I thought I’d update my old list to make it gluten-free and casein-free.  This list is also peanut-free, and mostly nut-free.

Read the rest of this entry

Golly. Wish I’d known about this before these bracelets were so passe

(found here )

Wow.  Apparently, I need to get out more. 

I didn’t know about these, either, and they’re pretty cool!
 
They’re also $35, so I will probably never own one  They feature, semi-unfortunately, one of those “awareness ribbons” which, being anti-trendy, I have never owned, and previously, had never hoped to own. 

I also didn’t know that someone christened green as the “official” color of celiac awareness.  Geez.  Lots going on in the celiac world that I knew nothing about.

The bracelet, in adults’ and kids’ sizes (“just” $20) are available here, along with key chains, necklaces, etc.

I like the keychain, too.  I was just telling my 7yo yesterday that I need a new keychain.  It’s $14.99 when the ribbon is engraved “celiac.”

I guess if one is going to have celiac jewelry, it might as well be attractive.  I just wish I had $50 to throw at ’em.

P.S.  This is *NOT* a gift-suggesting hint for anyone who knows me IRL.

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