Sunday, January 20, 2013

Bob's Red Mill Gluten-Free Homemade Wonderful Bread Mix

Last week I made some bread for my daily sandwiches, and I must say, of all the gluten-free breads I have tried, Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-Free Homemade WonderfulBread Mix is the best tasting! This was my third attempt at making wheat-free bread, after my first attempt at buying it severely failed. Let’s just say….yuck. I won’t trash the name of the brand, but I must say, it is sometimes a lot better to purchase some mix and make it yourself, then to purchase a package that has clearly been shipped from Asia.
Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-Free Homemade WonderfulBread Mix

I picked up the package of Bob’s Red Mill, because I had already tried their Brownie Mix and Pizza Dough Mix, which were very delicious, and comparable to the “real” wheat thing.

Let me tell you, this mix is delicious, tastes right, and I actually don’t dread eating it, unlike some of the gluten-free breads I have tried. I followed the instructions as given, and I used Rice Milk, Butter and Eggs (there is an option to use egg substitute, vegetable oil, and cow milk, whatever you’re comfortable with. I wasn’t comfortable with using an egg substitute the first time around, but according to the instructions, you can use that. I was also going to use vegetable oil, but to my dismay; the vegetable oil in my cabinet was 100% soybean oil...).

I highly recommend this bread. Here are some photos of how it turns out:

Fresh out of the oven, on the cooling rack.
Delicious ham, cheddar and pickles sandwich.

Sometimes, I just don't know what I ate.

Sorry for the long delay; I spent the majority of this week battling the Google Spam filter, who had deleted this blog because it suspected I wasn't a real person. Either my writing skills are so super fantastic that I appear to be a robot, or my writing skills are so super awful that I appear to be a robot. Anyway, I took a few days to escalate this enough to speak to an actual person, and have my blog turned back on. Either way, I was too exhausted by the end of the week to post. I ate a few meals, but they were just repeats of last week. Stay tuned!

Eating out can be difficult with food allergies, and no matter how hard I try, I still end up having a reaction to something. Yesterday I went out to a delicious gluten-free pizza place, however, I am beginning to suspect they used soy flour and/or almond flour in their pizza dough. I don't know. I should have inquired more.

Anyway, I'll take this time to say this: Be prepared to have an allergic reaction. Take whatever medication your doctor prescribes you, out with you, in case you have a severe reaction. Most of my allergies are fairly mild, however, it didn't take long to notice that I was having some sort of reaction to something when I got home. I started getting a headache, and felt nauseated, so I took some NyQuil and went to bed. I slept it off, slept for about 12 hours. Know your body, and know what you need to do to feel better. Sometimes you just can't avoid it!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Gluten Free Macaroni and Cheese

Gluten-Free, Wheat-Free Mac and Cheese with Sauteed Chicken

I oftentimes make this tasty treat on weeknights, after I get home from work. This dish requires minimal prep work, and each portion can be cooked simultaneously. I will usually put the water on boil, start the chicken, then by the time the chicken is done, the noodles are ready to go in the water. Then, as the noodles are boiling, I start the cheese sauce all the while keeping an eye on the chicken. This can all be done on and around the stove top, and requires very little mixing of ingredients. All in all, I would say the prep time is about 30 minutes. Perfect for a late evening meal. 

For the Pasta

For the Pasta I used Ancient Harvest Quinoa Wheat Free Shells. I really like the quinoa noodles, because I know that they are not only wheat-free, but they also are high in protein and high in fiber. If you're following a wheat-free diet, it's important to get your fiber from other sources.

The qunioa noodles also taste 'right,' don't clump together like other gluten-free wheat-free pasta, and keep well if there are leftovers. These also have the capacity to be cooked al dente, just as regular pasta.

Ancient Harvest Quinoa Wheat Free Shells

Prepare these noodles as directed on the box.

For the Cheese Sauce


  • 1 Cup Grated Cheddar
  • 1/2 Cup Half-and-Half (or substitute regular milk or rice milk)
  • 1/8th Cup Butter (this is a quarter of a stick)
  • 1 Tablespoon Grated Parmesan, for topping
  1. In a medium sauce pan, heat melt butter of LOW. 
  2. When butter is completely melted, add the half-and-half. Heat until simmering.
  3. Pinch by pinch, add the grated cheddar while stirring.
  4. Once the sauce is completely mixed up, keep over LOW heat until noodles are ready to be added.
  5. Add noodles, mix together, and top with grated Parmesan. 

*   *   *

You can of course substitute other cheeses for this dish. I once made this with a mix of mozzarella, Parmesan, and Swiss.  

Half-and-Half adds a rich, creamy taste. If you want a more modest dish, try adding regular milk or rice milk. I like rice milk as a non-dairy substitute because out of my few choices (there is of course almond and soy milk, which I cannot have), this one has the closest consistency to regular skim milk, the taste is comparable  and it works well as a milk-substitute in baking. 

For the Sauteed Chicken


  • 1 Large Chicken Breast, thawed (for substitutions, this is about 1/2 lb)
  • 1/2 Medium White Onion, chopped (about 1/2 cup)
  • 2 Cloves Garlic, minced (or 2 teaspoons garlic powder)
  • 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
  • 2 Teaspoons Black Pepper
  • 1 Teaspoon Salt
  1. In a medium frying pan, add the olive oil and tip the pan around until it fully covers the surface of the pan.
  2. Sprinkle salt, pepper, garlic powder, if you used it, into the pan. 
  3. Drop the minced garlic and chopped onion into the pan, making sure it's evenly distributed across the surface of the pan.
  4. Turn on MED-LOW heat, and simmer while you are prepping the chicken. This allows the flavors to meld together before the chicken soaks them up.
  5. Chicken breast: prep the chicken breast by slicing into 1/2 inch strips, 2-3 inches long.
  6. Place chicken into the pan, being careful to slowly lay down each strip, rather than dropping it, as the olive oil will be very hot.
  7. Saute the chicken for 10-12 minutes, or until done, stirring every 2 or so minutes. 
  8. Serve on top of macaroni and cheese.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Crispy Rice Treats

The Forgotten Snack

Sometimes its the simple things in life (or the kitchen) that are taken for granted. As someone who suffers from a wheat allergy, all I could think about was all the cookies and crackers I could no longer eat. What I didn't realize was that there was a very simple, easy to make, yummy treat that I was neglecting to notice: Crispy Rice Treats.

Finding a Wheat AND Soy Free Box of Cereal

Going into the cereal aisle, I knew what to look for: Anything without wheat, oats, or barley. What I didn't realize was that a lot of cereals, especially the "chocolate" flavored ones, also add soy products, so that made my search even harder. However, Kellogg's Rice Krispies, and it's generic copies, seem to be pretty safe. Although Rice Krispies are by nature gluten-free, they even have a variety made from organic brown rice, labeled as such.

The important thing to remember is that a lot of cereals that aren't labeled as gluten-free may be processed in the same facility as cereals that contain wheat, barley, or oats. Many will state "Processed in a facility that also processes..." however some do not. If you are severely allergic to gluten, I recommend buying the gluten-free version to avoid cross-contamination. For me, the regular version is fine.

Crispy Rice Treats Recipe

Makes 18 squares.


  • 1/4 Cup Butter (this is half a stick)
  • 4 Cups Mini Marshmallows
  • 1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • 6 1/2 Cups Cereal


  1. In a 9x13" Baking Pan, line the bottom with wax paper.
  2. In a large microwave safe bowl, combine the butter and marshmallows.
  3. Microwave on MEDIUM for 4 minutes, mixing once.
  4. Remove from microwave, and stir mixture until it is fully mixed together. This should look more like a pastry batter, now.
  5. Stirring, add the vanilla extract. Completely mix in.
  6. One cup at a time, add the cereal, mixing thoroughly between cups
  7. Scrape the mixture into the prepared pan, and press down so it fills in all the corners, and is completely flat on the top.
  8. Place in refrigerator for one hour, or until cooled
  9. With a spatula, slice into 18 squares.
  10. Serve cool, and drizzle with chocolate syrup (optional).

Friday, January 11, 2013

Gluten Free Spaghetti and Meatballs

Gluten Free, Wheat Free Spaghetti and Meatballs


This evening, we had some very delicious, completely safe-to-eat, spaghetti and meatballs. This dish, by nature, is of course nut-free, and unless you buy the super cheap canned sauce, is usually soy-free. But wheat-free? Here is how we did it:

Gluten Free Spaghetti Noodles

Though I tested negative for Celiac Disease, the gluten-free section of the grocery store has been a life-saver for me. Most things gluten-free are safe for me to eat, though I have still come across some gluten-free items that use (gluten-free) barley and oats, as well as nut and soy ingredients. To my disappointment, some of the otherwise-safe bread mixes come with sesame seeds in them.

That said, gluten-free noodles have come a LONG way, and actually taste good. They come in all sorts of varieties, the most common being a mixture of brown rice and corn. I have also tried 'ancient grain' noodles made from quinoa and amaranth, which are also tasty, but for this meal I used the following noodles:


With noodles, I follow the instructions as given, with the exception of adding a pinch of salt and a couple drops of vinegar. I find that rice-only noodles tend to taste a little bland in comparison to wheat noodles, and the salt fixes that. Here is what the noodles look like cooked:

A dead ringer for wheat, if I do say so myself

When the noodles are done, I like to drizzle olive oil over them, and mix it in all through the noodles. This ensures the noodles keep better, if there are leftovers. Without the oil, they tend to stick together into this Tupperware-shaped glob, and that holds true to wheat noodles as well.

Gluten Free Meatballs

This recipe serves 4, with 2 meatballs per person.

For the meatballs, you will need the following ingredients:
  • 1 1/4 lb ground beef (or ground meat of your choice)
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 2 cloves minced garlic (or 2 teaspoons garlic powder)
  • 1/2 cup chopped onions
  • 1 cup cornmeal
  1. In a large bowl, mix by hand the ground beef and the egg. Then, add in the pepper, salt, garlic, and onion. Next, add the cornmeal, mix well. The mixture should be more dough-like at this point.
  2. Roll between hands into individual meatballs. We divided the 'dough' into 8 meatballs, though you could do smaller if you wish to cook them faster.
  3. In a large skillet pan, add about 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil (or oil of your choice) and turn on MEDIUM heat. Add the meatballs, (begin prepping spaghetti sauce now) and cook covered for about 10 minutes, then flip them to cook the other side for another 10 minutes (or until done).

Spaghetti Sauce

For the spaghetti sauce, you will need the following ingredients:
  • 1 28oz can tomato sauce
  • 1 28oz can diced tomatoes (crushed tomatoes work, too)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced (or 4 teaspoons garlic powder)
  • 2 teaspoons basil
  • 2 teaspoons oregano
  • 1 teaspoon sage
  • 1 teaspoon cloves
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • dash of salt, or until desired flavor
  1. In a medium saucepan (make sure its large enough for the sauce, plus meatballs), add the cans of tomato. Then, mix in the wet ingredients, followed by the dry ingredients.
  2. Simmer over LOW heat for 20-25 minutes (start boiling water now).
  3. When the meatballs are done cooking, add them to the sauce.

*   *   *

After you have the meatballs and sauce going, start boiling the water for your noodles. After you have flipped the meatballs, and cooked them thoroughly, add them to the simmering sauce. This will allow time for the meatballs to absorb the sauce, and for all the flavors to blend together.

By the time the noodles are cooked, the sauce should be ready. If the noodles finish first, or the sauce finishes first; don't worry about it. It's okay to leave it on simmer for a couple of minutes longer.

When cooking the noodles, the water may become white or yellow in color. This is normal; it's a side effect of them being made of something other than wheat. When you drain them, you can rinse them off with warm water.

To serve, pile the spaghetti on to a plate, grab the meatballs with a pair of tongs and place them on the spaghetti (kind of nuzzle them in there, so they don't roll off the plate). Then, add plenty of sauce with a ladle. As we sliced the meatballs while eating, we soaked up extra sauce with them for each bite--yum.

I like to serve this dish with grated Parmesan as the final touch.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Signs You May Have a Food Allergy

For a few years, at least longer than I can pinpoint an exact start, I had been sick. I had never felt "good" and I had always been prone to sickness. Over the past few years, I have experienced more infections than I have ever experienced in my life. I have had five or six urinary tract infections, and most recently, a sinus infection. God only knows how many migraines I have had, certainly more than I can count on all 76 fingers and toes in the house (don't worry, we all have our toes. I have two cats, with 18 toes each). Unbeknownst to me at the time, these illnesses were brought on by the side effects of mild food allergies. I had been eating bread, cereal, peanut butter, hamburgers, pastas, and all sorts of every day staples which contained foods I am now aware I am allergic to. So what are some of the signs you may have a food allergy?

Stuffy Nose.

"How long have you been experiencing these symptoms?" asked the physician, when I was in for what would be my first-ever sinus infection. I didn't know the answer. How long had I had a clogged nose? How long had I had chest congestion?

"Like two months," I lied. I lied because I knew for a fact that my nose had been clogged, and discharging yellow and white colored mucus for a lot longer than two months. I specifically recalled blowing a gross looking yellow booger about six months prior to that. That was the day I was sitting in traffic, on my way to a job interview. I only remember this, because my car stopped running in the middle of an intersection, on my way to the interview. That way the day I received more middle fingers than I can count on 72 toes, as well. That is why I remember the booger. Anyway, I felt like I had developed some sort of allergy to an airborne substance, which lasted through all seasons. It was the allergy from Hell, I guessed, because there was literally nothing I could buy that would stop my nose from running. I had been experiencing sinus pressure for as long as I can remember. I wondered if I was perhaps allergic to my cats. Or maybe mold in my apartment.

No, the mold wasn't good. After we moved to our house, free of mold, the symptoms got a little better. But still not great. I think the mold was just effecting me more than usual because of my over-active sinuses. I'm sure the cats were also effecting me more than usual, too.

As for my sinus infection, I was given a prescription to Flonaise, as well as a big bottle of horse pills, erm, "antibiotics." I took those, and my sinus pressure got a little better. My mucus was becoming normal colored, however, my nose continued to be runny and gross. Aside from killing bacteria, and making my "annoying sinus infection" just an "annoying sinus," the medication did nothing to relieve my symptoms.

As it turns out, sinus and chest congestion is a side effect of an allergy to soy. I never really realized just how much soy I was eating, until I looked at the labels. Here are some strange and surprising things that I ate often, which contained soy ingredients:

  • Mayonnaise, which contains soybean oil. (Best Foods makes a safe Olive Oil mayo)
  • Pizza Sauce, which contains soybean oil. (I just make my own now)
  • Chocolate Chips, which usually contain soy lecithin.
  • Peanut Butter, which contains soybean oil. (Okay, I'm also allergic to peanuts, but you would think they'd use peanut oil.)
  • Fast Food, they pretty much fry all their stuff in soybean oil. I'm also almost positive McDonald's chicken nuggets are actually part-tofu, not 100% chicken. How else would you make chicken spongy?
Lets not forget that all the non-dairy coffee creamers I used on a daily basis contained soy. I loved using the Silk non-dairy creamer in my coffee. It was the only thing that would froth correctly in the espresso machine. It frothed better than real creamer, okay?

Soy, it is everywhere. It was in every meal I ate, and thus in my system on a daily basis. My nose was always runny. If you have forever-sniffles, you may wish to get a food allergy test. A lot of food allergies actually have this reaction; this is just one way the body responds to something 'toxic' in its system.


Yes, I said it: Diarrhea. The runs. The sh*ts. I got it all the time. I don't think I noticed just how often I got it, until I took a job which was 90 miles away from my home. That's a long time in the car. What makes it longer? Diarrhea. Diarrhea, and all it's lovely side effects, such as stinging intestinal pain and sweating. I would get it every day. YOU try sitting in traffic with diarrhea.

Diarrhea is caused by an imbalance of bacteria in the digestive tract. This bacterial imbalance can be caused by a number of things, including food allergies and/or intolerance. Chances are, if you have a food allergy or intolerance, you either have diarrhea or constipation. It is very unlikely that you will have normal bowel movements.

Urinary Tract Infections.

Ladies, I'll be blunt here and state that the anus is literally one inch away from the vagina, which is literally a quarter inch away from the urinary tract. If your kid barfed on the table, would you consider it sanitary after wiping it off with just a paper towel? Nope. The same goes for toilet paper. If you have messy diarrhea, and wipe it up with a paper napkin, it's not clean. Toilet paper does not sanitize. So, the chances that a strain of bacteria doesn't make it into your urinary tract are very small.

If you're sitting in a classroom taking a test, or sitting at your desk on a conference call, or heck, sitting in traffic for 2 1/2 hours...that bacteria is going to THRIVE in your moist, dark, urinary tract environment. Chances are, you'll get a UTI. If you get diarrhea on a daily basis, and you sit on a daily basis, you may get UTIs every couple of months like I did. I would get them a lot, particularly when I travelled. On a plane full of 200 people sharing one tiny toilet, you don't get a lot of chances to pee.

It was when I started carrying Wet Ones in my purse, that I realized something was amiss. I got a lot less Urinary Tract Infections after I started using Wet Ones, however, needing to do that just wasn't normal. It was one of the things that pushed me to finally see a nutritionist.

Stomach Pain.

I would get this slight, tingly, burning feeling, that would start right below my neck, move through my stomach area, and into my intestines. This would get more and more intense, as it got deeper in my body. It wasn't quite pain, but it wasn't quite manageable, either. It was distracting. Tums would do nothing. Pepto would do nothing.

I would get this after eating a Trail Mix, or a Peanut Butter and Jelly sandwich. This was a tree nut and peanut thing. This would happen after drinking a cup of coffee (which I later learned was coffee roasted with hazelnut).

This usually beings within 10 minutes of eating the food, and continues on throughout the rest of the day. A few hours after it goes away, irregular bowel movements follows. Even now, if I get this feeling, I will know I ate something which was contaminated with nuts.


Bloating is a tell-tale side effect of food allergies. When you're menstruating, you get bloated because the body retains water. This kind of bloating is different; yes, you are retaining fluids, but not for the right reasons. You are retaining fluids because you are having difficulty digesting something. People who suffer from frequent diarrhea usually have a lot of bloating. And also, part of the "bloating" is caused by inflamed intestines which are struggling to digest a substance.


I was always tired. I hated the morning. If the alarm went off any time before 10am, I would say "f**k morning," instead of "good morning." Yeah, I was tired. Getting out of bed SUCKED. And it didn't matter how late I slept in, I would be equally as drowsy at 11am.

There were days where I would wake up at 7am, have a strong cup of coffee, and still be able to go back to sleep and sleep until after noon. Coffee did nothing. I'd have two or three cups of Joe and still be aching for a nap, even if I had like 10 hours of sleep the night before.

Fatigue is caused by strain in the body. Whether that strain is caused by being sore from going skiing for the first time in years, you have a crooked spine (been there, done that), you have the flu, or you just didn't get enough sleep; you're still straining. You're tired. Your body is exhausted.

When you are constantly struggling to digest a food which you are allergic to, you are constantly strained. You are constantly fatigued. You are in constant need of sleep, the only thing that can replenish your energy when your digestive track is not processing nutrients. It doesn't matter what else you ate, if you ate something you're allergic to, you're going to have a hard time digesting the whole meal.


Every once in a while, within two or three hours of eating, I would get asthma-like symptoms. I would wheeze, and literally be unable to breathe. This would suck while trying to sleep. I literally would not be able to relax and sleep, because I would be straining so hard to breathe that my heart rate would go up. It was like I went for a walk on a brisk autumn morning, yet, I was just trying to sleep. Breathing was exhausting! I would literally shake the box spring in my bed with my breathing. The only thing I could do was sit, and wait. Usually took 1-2 days to go back to normal breathing.

Thing is, I don't have asthma. This was in response to my more severe food allergies, such as sesame, oats, and barley. Up until this point, I have been describing symptoms of mild food allergies. When you get your blood test, the results will come with a table explaining what the numbers mean (keep an eye out for an entry about that, I plan on writing one). There will be a scale of benign, mild, moderate, high, and severe. If you are experiencing unexplainable, sudden, breathing problems, this is most definitely an allergic reaction.

Here's what I do: If you don't want to go to the hospital (IF YOU ARE GASPING FOR AIR, GO TO THE HOSPITAL IMMEDIATELY. Call 911, do not drive yourself. If you can control your breathing enough to get enough air, your body will settle itself within 48 hours) like me, there are things you can do to help ease your breathing. If you go to the hospital, they will give you an anaphylactic shot to relieve the symptoms. If you don't have insurance, this shot and an ER visit can be costly. Additionally, if you are found to have a severe allergy to a food, your physician will prescribe you an allergy pen to carry with you, which serves the same purpose as the shot, but usually is much more potent as you would be self-administering it, away from the care of physicians.

Calm your Breathing:

  • Run a hot shower, and stand or sit in the shower. Ensure your torso is erect, and breathe through your belly. Your abdomen should expand as you inhale, and your belly area should push outward as you exhale. The hot steam acts as a sauna, which opens the sinuses allowing for more oxygen to enter the body.
  • Meditate. If you are familiar with yoga, you know that meditation is required to regulate the breathing, calm the heart, and clear the mind. An easy way to meditate is to lay on your back, with one or both of your legs bent, so your feet are flat on the floor. This ensures the spine is straight, allowing for maximum airflow. Breathe in, focusing on expanding your abdomen as you inhale. Hold for two seconds. Exhale, but do so slowly. Focus on extending your belly upward as you exhale. Controlling the speed at which you breathe will calm your heart rate and calm your body.
  • Limit activity. Don't walk around. Don't go out. Don't go to school or work. When you are in this state, even the slightest amount of physical activity can cause you to become exhausted, and gasping for air. When I just sit there, or lay there, I find that I have little to no trouble breathing. It's when I get up and walk to the kitchen that I start panting and wheezing.


I had a lot of migraines. Sure, there were the normal ones which coincided with my menstrual cycle, but there were also the random ones that would not go away, no matter how many pills I popped, or how much water I drank. I even did the ice and heat therapy. I even saw my chiropractor about them, but to no avail. These were debilitating migraines, which would keep me in bed until 5pm. I would wake up with them, at a normal time, and basically take an 8 hour nap until they went away.

I don't get these so much anymore. I thought about it, and I would get these the morning after drinking a couple of beers, which contain wheat and/or barley. No, it wasn't a hangover. This was the normal 'couple of beers while eating out for dinner' kind of thing. I once had a migraine two days in a row; I felt better in the late evening, then I'd have a beer with dinner, and wake up the next day with the same thing. Turns out, this was a barley brew. Whoops.

Skin Irritation.

I used to get dry, itchy skin all the time. I would get hives on a near-daily basis. Of course, it wasn't until after I was diagnosed with my tree nut allergy that I realized the shampoo I was using had macadamia nuts in it! A lot of soaps and cosmetics use ingredients derived from plants and animals. People with food allergies may find they have a skin sensitivity to products containing that food. I have started using Canus Goat's Milk Soap, which has minimal ingredients in it. Canus is very straight-forward with the ingredients they use in their products, and their products are all-natural, so you won't find any fragrances and additives that may cause irritation. I encourage anyone with sensitive skin to use Canus products, or products from other "natural" cosmetic companies.

Now What do I do?

If you frequently suffer from one or more of the above symptoms, it is very likely you have some sort of food allergy or intolerance. Food allergy tests have come a long way since their implementation, and they are easy as drawing some blood and waiting a couple days for the lab to process the results. Call your doctor your physician; you don't need to go to a nutritionist or an allergist to get an allergy test. They'll send in an order for blood work, which is as easy as sitting in a chair for 90 seconds, staring at the painting on the wall, all the while ignoring that tingling feeling in your arm by humming your favorite song. Nobody wants to get blood work, but believe me when I say, it is so much easier to deal with 90 seconds of discomfort, than it is to deal with a lifetime of pain. Even if it turns out not to be food related, wouldn't you want to know? You don't need to live in pain.

"If you don't have your health, you don't have anything." One of my doctors once told me this. I have no idea who the quote originally belongs to (perhaps him?), but it holds truth. How can you harvest your full potential in anything, if you, yourself, are not living up to your full potential?

If you keep eating things you are allergic to, your allergy to them will get more severe. Your intestines be torn up, and unless you want to end up with a bag on your hip you need to start taking care of yourself NOW. Go! Why are you still reading?