Thursday, October 28, 2010

Sugar Cookies

What's Halloween without sugar cookies?  Really, it would be the pits if I couldn't make myself sick from eating why too many of these scrumptious morsels...so, I made them and they are pretty dang good.  So good, in fact, that I made myself sick from eating too many of them. :)  The recipe is from gfutah.org, they really have an excellent selection of recipes. The dough is perfect to work with, just like sugar cookie dough should be...it's soft, doesn't crumble, easy to roll out and cut out shapes--and the shapes are easily moved to the cookie sheet for baking! It's perfect!  The cookies themselves are nice and soft, just the way I like them....so, enjoy!




Sugar Cookies

1 cup shortening
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla
2 cups brown rice flour
2/3 cup potato starch
1/3 cup tapioca starch
1 1/2 tsp xanthan gum
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup dairy-free sour cream(I used the Tofutti brand)

Directions
  1. Cream shortening and sugar. Add eggs and vanilla.  Mix well. 
  2. Mix together dry ingredients and add to creamed mixture with sour cream; mix until smooth. Cover bowl and chill bowl at least 1 hour.  
  3. On rice floured surface, roll out to 1/4 inch thickness. Cut into desired shapes.  
  4. Place on ungreased cookie sheets. Bake at 350 F for 8 to 10 minutes. Do not over bake. 
  5. Remove cookies to wire rack to cool. Frost with GFCF butter cream frosting; color frosting if desired.    
Yield: 2-3 dozen cookies

Work Halloween Party

We are now in the party season, with Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years approaching you are bound to be out and about surround by food.  Yesterday was exactly that for me.  We had a little Halloween party at work, and it was a blast.  It was a potluck menu with a sign up sheet for meat, sides, dessert, etc.  I signed up to bring some pulled pork so I would know that it was safe to consume and also a dessert, because I knew if I didn't bring a dessert, chances were I would get to eat one.  For the pulled pork I used the McCormick Slow Cookers BBQ Pulled Pork Seasoning pack to make the pulled pork, amazingly good, and amazingly easy--and it's gluten-free/dairy-free! I brought my own hamburger bun, so I could enjoy it as a sandwich.  And amazingly almost all of the side dishes were gluten-free/dairy-free, so I got to enjoy those as well (potato salad, green salad, and chips).  Of course, dessert was the main culprit of gluten and dairy, so I was so happy I brought my own--and they were a huge hit!  Remember the eyeball candy I made for my kids?  Yeah, they are a hit with grown-ups, too. Below is a picture of them:

This is proof that you can have a wonderful meal away from home, at a potluck event and be totally fine.  Just make sure that you cover your bases and bring alternatives (i.e. buns, rolls, desserts) for things you know you won't be able to consume. 

Saturday, October 23, 2010

White Chili

It's raining...fall is definitely here, so I need some soup or chili or something.  I found this white chili recipe and figured today would be a perfect day to try it out.  It was wonderful, it's not quite as thick as a chili, so its more like a green chili chicken soup, but still, absolutely fantastic.  The recipe is also below, just in case the link ever stops working, or you are like me and just don't feel like clicking on the link. ;)
White Chili

1 tablespoon canola oil
1 1/2 cups chopped onion
2 4-ounce cans chopped green chiles
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/8-1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (I used just under 1/4 teaspoon myself)
3 15-ounce cans great northern beans, rinsed
4 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth (I used chicken stock for a deeper flavor)
4 cups diced cooked skinless turkey, or chicken
2 tablespoons cider vinegar

Directions:

Heat oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onion; cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes.

Stir in chiles, oregano, cumin and cayenne. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes.

Stir in beans and broth; bring to a simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 20 minutes.

Add turkey (or chicken) and vinegar; cook for 5 minutes more. Yields 6 servings.  The soup freezes well, also.

Homemade Halloween Candy

Why can't gluten-free/casein-free candy be awesome?  Why does everyone have to point out that we can't have any good sweets anymore?  We actually can, there's plenty of sweets out there, I know I consume way too much.  Not only that, you can make some pretty fantastic treats for your little ones (or just for yourself ;) ) as well.  Since Halloween is coming up, I thought it would be a perfect time to adapt my chocolates to our new diet, and give them a fun twist, so my boys will not miss out on any of the 'fun' candy.


Eyeballs (Peanut Butter Balls)
2 cups smooth peanut butter
1 cup dairy-free margarine, softened
5 cups powdered sugar
Directions:
In a bowl, combine peanut butter and butter and stir until evenly blended. Add the powdered sugar and stir until the mixture has the consistency of sticky play dough.

Roll the peanut butter mixture into 1-inch balls and set them on a baking sheet lined with wax paper. Put the baking sheet in the fridge or freezer until the peanut butter balls are chilled and solid (1hr for fridge, 5-10 minutes in freezer). You can store these in the fridge or freezer until you are ready for them.



To make eyeballs, cover them in white homemade marshmallow fondant (recipe below) or dip them in dairy-free white chocolate.  Add an iris (I used blue fondant) and a pupil (I used black fondant, you could use dairy-free choc. chips as well). Make the eyes bloodshot by painting the vessels on with red food coloring and a toothpick. Store in refrigerator.

Yield: >80, depending on how big you make the candies.

Ghosts ('Oreo' or K-too Truffles)
2  8 oz packages Kinnikinnick K-too chocolate sandwich cookies 
8 oz Tofutti cream cheese substitute
(Sorry this is blurry, my camera wasn't cooperating and I gave up)
Directions:
Crush 1 package K-too's in a food processor or with a rolling pin. Mix in the softened cream cheese until well blended. Place in fridge for 30 minutes to chill. When chilled roll into bolls and put back in fridge until firm.

To make ghosts, roll out a ~1" marshmallow fondant ball to 1/8" thickness, cover and pinch 4 corners to make the ghost.  Either use black fondant or black decorator's gel to make eyes and mouth. Store in refrigerator.

Yield: >60, depending on how big you make them.

Note:  With both of these fillings, you can dip them in dairy-free chocolate and have chocolates.  Each recipe needs about two 12 oz packages of chocolate chips. I actually add 2-3 tablespoons of shortening to the chocolate to make it a better dipping chocolate.

Marshmallow Fondant
I actually got this recipe here, but I'm also putting the recipe below, so if ever the link doesn't work anymore, I still have the recipe. :) This is enough fondant for one cake or for a bunch of candies. :) 

16 ounces white mini marshmallows
2 -5 tablespoons water
2 lbs powdered sugar
1/2 cup shortening (you will be digging into it so place in a very easily accessed bowl)
Directions: 
  1. Melt marshmallows and 2 tablespoons of water in a microwave or double boiler: Put the bowl in the microwave for 30 seconds, open microwave and stir, back in microwave for 30 seconds more, open microwave and stir again, and continue doing this until melted.
  2. It usually takes about 2 ½ minutes total. Place 3/4 of the powdered sugar on the top of the melted marshmallow mix.
  3. Now grease your hands GENEROUSLY - palms, backs and in between fingers, then heavily grease the counter you will be using and dump the bowl of marshmallow/sugar mixture in the middle.
  4. Start kneading like you would bread dough. You will immediately see why you have greased your hands.
  5. Keep kneading, this stuff is sticky at this stage! Add the rest of the powdered sugar and knead some more.
  6. Re-grease your hands and counter when the fondant is sticking. If the mix is tearing easily, it is to dry, so add water (about ½ tablespoon at a time then knead it in). It usually takes me about 8 minutes to get a firm smooth elastic ball so that it will stretch without tearing when you apply it to the cake.
  7. Its best if you can let it sit, double wrapped, overnight (but you can use it right away if there are no tiny bits of dry powdered sugar). If you do see them, you will need to knead and maybe add a few more drops of water.
  8. Prepare the fondant for storing by coating it with a good layer of Crisco shortening, wrap in a plastic- type wrap product and then put it in a re-sealable or Ziploc bag. Squeeze out as much air as possible.
  9. MM Fondant will hold very well in the refrigerator for weeks.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Kinnikinnick English Muffins -- Review

Yes, more kinnikinnick to review, but it really is a good brand for the most part, so it's definitely worth trying their products.  My mother-in-law bought these english muffins for us and most of them will be used to make mini pizzas for the boys at day care, but I did want to test them out as well, so I did.

I was a bit worried after trying their bread, but was pleasantly surprised.  It's definitely not a english muffin by any means, more like a chewy hamburger bun, it it's still statisfying.  I think that it may be the same recipe as the bread, or at least similar, but having it in a muffin/bun form definitely gives it a different texture, it doesn't crumble like the bread did--but I really think that's because it's not sliced bread.


I first tried it toasted with freshly made plum jam on top and it was so yummy!  I then used another muffin for 2 mini pizzas for Dominic and I (so yes, they had Daiya cheese on top).  I think that was the best gluten-free pizza I've had, and it was so stinking easy.  I thawed the muffins, split it, and toasted it.  Then topped it with pizza sauce and the cheese and put it under the broiler for a couple minutes.  This will be my new go to lunch for the boys when we need something quick.


Overall Rating 8 out of 10  They are not english muffins in taste and texture, but they still are tasty and work really, really well for min pizzas, so I will be buying these again.

Jam

I love homemade freezer jam, and it's easier than you think.  I only use 2 ingredients...fruit and sugar--no pectin required, and it works!  You can use about any fruit you want, I've made strawberry, raspberry, blueberry, and plum jams and they've all turned out wonderfully. :)

Freezer Jam

1 part fruit (I puree mine because my family doesn't like chunks, but you could also dice it)
1 part sugar (so yes, it's just equal parts fruit and sugar)

combine fruit and sugar in a saucepan and heat over medium heat until it boils...boil over medium heat for 10-12 minutes or until it reaches ~200F.  Don't overcook, I promise the jam will turn out perfect with only 10-12 minute cook time. Pour onto a sheet cake pan to cool, then pour into freezer containers and freeze. :)

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Jo Mama's World Famous Spaghetti Sauce

My aunt has the best spaghetti sauce recipe in the world!  It is so much better than anything you can buy at the store or even get at a restaurant and it really isn't that bad to make, it does take time, but it's well worth it.  It also makes a ton, for our little family it makes enough for at least 5 meals...love it!  I freeze the leftovers in ziploc bags, so I can just take out what we need, when we need it.  So, last night I had my brother and his wife over for dinner, and this is what we ate....below is the recipe with some changes I made, based on what I had in the house (fresh tomatoes, instead of canned, etc.)

Jo Mama's World Famous Spaghetti

2 lbs Italian sausage, casings removed (mild or hot)
1 small onion, chopped
3 -4 garlic cloves, minced
6-7 medium to large tomatoes, skinned, seeded, and diced
2 (6 ounce) cans tomato paste
2 (15 ounce) cans tomato sauce
2 cups water (for a long period of simmering for flavors to meld. If you don't want to simmer it as long, add less)
3 teaspoons dried basil
2 teaspoons dried parsley flakes
1 1/2 teaspoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/4-1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 lb gluten free spaghetti (we had corn spaghetti)

Directions:

  1. In large, heavy stockpot, brown Italian sausage, breaking up as you stir.
  2. Add onions and continue to cook, stirring occasionally until onions are softened. (At this point you can transfer it to a crockpot if you like, and after adding everything else, cook on low for 6 hours)
  3. Add garlic, tomatoes, tomato paste, tomato sauce and water.
  4. Add basil, parsley, brown sugar, salt, cayenne pepper, and black pepper.
  5. Stir well and barely bring to a boil.
  6. Simmer on low, stirring frequently for at least an hour. A longer simmer makes for a better sauce, just be careful not to let it burn!
  7. Cook spaghetti according to package directions.
  8. Spoon sauce over drained spaghetti noodles.

Gluten-Free/Casein-Free Banana Nut Bread

Yes, I already posted a recipe for banana bread/muffins, but you know when you have a favorite recipe and you just want 'your' banana bread?  That was me this morning, so I converted my old banana bread recipe so I could have my comfort food back.  It turned out really well, I was quite pleased with them.  I made muffins again, so I could freeze them and just take out a few as we needed them, also instead of nuts I used dairy-free chocolate chips, but my boys love banana chocolate chip muffins (and they don't like nuts).

Banana Nut Bread
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons brown sugar
5 tablespoons dairy-free margarine (I used Nucoa)
1 1/3 cups mashed ripe bananas (2 medium)
1 egg
2 egg whites
1 2/3 cup brown rice flour
1/2 cup potato starch
1/4 cup tapioca starch
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup walnuts, optional
1/2 cup dairy-free chocolate chips, optional (I used Tropical Source)

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 375 F.  Grease a large loaf pan or muffin tins (or line with muffin cups); set aside.
2. Beat sugars and margarine in large bowl until light and fluffy.  Add bananas, egg and egg whites.
3. In separate bowl combine flours, xanthan gum, baking soda and salt; add to banana mixture. Stir in nuts and chocolate chips and pour into prepared pan or muffin cups, smooth out tops with a wet spatula.
4. Bake 1 hour for bread or 20-25 minutes for muffins.  Remove from pan; cool on wire rack.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Good and Bad Kinnikinnick -- Reviews

So, I have been praising Kinnikinnick, everything we have tried, we've liked and even loved, until now.  Lee's didn't have any Udi's white sandwich bread in stock, so I thought we could try the Kinnikinnick white sandwich bread...bad idea.  It really wasn't that bad, but after having my homemade bread and the Udi's bread, it just wasn't going to cut it for us, especially with my older one being so incredibly picky with the gluten-free breads.  The texture is more like a sponge cake, so it's a really weird sensation to eat a sandwich with it...it just doesn't feel right on the tongue. My boys couldn't get past the texture of it to enjoy the sandwiches, so with more than half a loaf in the freezer, this ones not worth the price we paid.

Overall Rating 4 out of 10  The taste isn't bad if you can get past the texture, it just doesn't have a yeast bread texture.

Well, I didn't want to end the post with a bad vibe for Kinnikinnick, because everything we've tried we've liked...and to prove it, here is yet another product that was sooo good:  Kinnikinnick Chocolate Dipped Donuts.  Just like the vanilla glazed donuts we tried the other day, these tasted just like regular cake donuts.  Also, they are dairy-free, so I can actually enjoy the chocolate! YAY!  These donuts actually remind me of those chocolate glazed Hostess donettes...except the chocolate is much better and the donuts are bigger, so hey they are better!  They weren't cheap, it was $6.79 for a box of 6, but it was well worth the indulgence.

Overall Rating 10 out of 10  They were very scrumptious and more than made up for the white bread that we bought. :)

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Daiya Mozzarella Style Shreds -- Review

Okay, I honestly never in a million years thought I would look for vegan products...but suddenly when all dairy is off limits and the stupid soy cheese they carry at Smith's has casein in it, along with so many other soy and rice cheeses, I discovered it's so much easier to look for a product that says vegan, that way I know they are not sneaking in casein.  So, I did a google search and came upon Daiya, I looked at their website and they made it sound wonderful, but that's their job...so, I did some more searching, read people's reviews and decided that yes, this may be the 'cheese' that we have been hoping for...the problem, no one in town has it.

I have this week off of work to help the boys through this diet change, so I thought we would head out of town and make a fun day of it.  After the fun kid activities, we went to Whole Food Markets (sad that I have to travel an 1 1/2 hours to just get cheese, I think I'm going to fill out some special request forms at the grocery store).  I was like a kid in the candy store when we got to the vegan cheese section.  They of course had the Daiya cheese shreds, but only in the mozzarella, the cheddar was sold out, so we I got like 4 bags (one bag to take to day care, one bag to use now, and 2 bags to freeze, so we'll be good for a little while).  The also that Silk Live soy yogurt, so we got some of those for my little one to have a day care, along with vegan cream cheese and sour cream...I'll let you know what I think of them as we use them.  But today's post is all about the Daiya cheese.

The ingredient list is: Filtered water, tapioca and/or arrowroot flours, non-GMO expeller pressed canola and /or non-GMO expeller pressed safflower oil, coconut oil, pea protein, salt, vegan natural flavours, inactive yeast, vegetable glycerin, xanthan gum, citric acid (for flavor).  So, yes, this is not cheese, this is a product that resembles cheese.  It surprisingly melts, we used it last night for nachos and it melted!  My little one downed the nachos, like he would if it was normal cheese...but a warning, this is not cheese, it does not have the same nutritional values as cheese...the calories are probably about the same as a part-skim milk mozzarella, but there are definitely more carbs and less protein, obviously because there is no milk and it's flour that is taking its place.  Also, it's not fortified, so there is no calcium in this cheese.  That being said, it's still nice to have to give some normalcy to at least some of our meals.  I think we could easily be cheese free in our home, but at daycare, with mac and cheese, mini pizzas, cheese sandwiches, etc., there is no escaping it, and I, at least, want my little one to enjoy the taste of what he's eating and this at least tastes good.

Overall Rating 8 out of 10  I would have given it a 9 or 10 if it had calcium in it, but it doesn't, but still tastes good and my little one will actually eat it, so it still gets a high rating, but not as high as it could get.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Kinnikinnick Cookies and Donuts -- Review

Oh, how I love Kinnikinnick, all of the snacks we have tried have been amazingly good, like addictive good.  I have already reviewed the K-toos Vanilla Sandwich Cookies, the S'moreables and the K-Kritters and all of those were fantastics, so of course we had to try more.  So first off to review is the Kinnikinnick K-toos Chocolate and Vanilla Sandwich Cookies (their version of the Oreo).  I couldn't ask for a better gluten-free dairy-free Oreo...I love it and so do my boys.  We have eaten way too many of them...we actually have downed to boxes before I had a chance to write the review.  The have a wonderful chocolate flavor, it definitely has curbed those chocolate cravings for me.  Now, if only they would make them in 'double stuf', then my life would be totally complete...at least for that moment.

Overall Rating: 10 out of 10  Kinnikinnick really does an amazing job with their cookies, they are simply scrumptious!

Now on to Donuts...I bought the Vanilla Glazed Donuts as a treat for my boys to help them with this first week of diet adjustments (my older one is going off gluten, my younger one who is already of gluten is now going off casein).  All I can say is holy cow, I'm in love!!  These taste just like regular cake donuts and with the amount of glaze on top every kid in the world will love these.  I am a big fan of cake donuts and these definitely satisfied my donut craving that I've been having since my big brother was going off about them, like a month ago (thanks, Dan :P).  They got the texture right and everything, they were delicious.  Just a warning, like most other gluten-free baked goods, these need to be kept in the freezer, then thawed right before use.  We stuck them in the microwave for a few seconds (15-20 seconds a piece, to be exact) and they came out perfect.  The nice thing with them in the freezer, I can't see them tempting me, and I have to thaw them before I indulge...it's much easier to limit myself that way. :)


Overall Rating: 10 out of 10  I am in love with these donuts and will definitely be buying them again.

"McDonald's" at home

So, I've been on a quest...my boys really love McNuggets and McDonald's fries, so I've been looking and testing and I've made enough progress that I'm going to post what I've come up with:




Homemade McNuggets

3 chicken breasts, cubed
1 cup brown rice flour
1/3 cup potato starch
1/6 cup tapioca starch
2 eggs, beaten
salt and pepper
cooking oil
Directions:
1.  Place cubed chicken in a blender or food processor and pulse until it forms a paste (if you use a blender, do only a few cubes at a time). You can add salt and pepper to the chicken if you want to.
2.  Roll chicken into small balls and flatten into a nugget shape (you should get about 36 nuggets).
3.  Mix together flours and additional salt and pepper, to taste.
3.  Cover nuggets in flour, dip in eggs, then dip a second time in the flour.  Cook in a deep fryer set at 330-350 degrees for 4-5 minutes or until golden brown.
4. Drain on a paper towel, and keep nuggets warm in a 200 degree oven, while the rest are cooking.


"McDonald's" Fries

2 large or 3 medium Russet Potatoes
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoon corn syrup
2 cups hot water
cooking oil
salt
Directions:

1.  In a large mixing bowl combine sugar, corn syrup and the hot water. Make sure sugar is dissolved.
2. Peel and cut potatoes into shoestrings (1/4"X1/4" and about 4 to 6" long).
3. Place shoestring potatoes into the sugar water bowl. Let soak at least 30 minutes.
4. Fry in a deep fryer at 350 degrees for 1-2 minutes.  Remove potatoes and place them on paper towels to drain.  Turn fryer up to 375-400 degrees and return fries back to fryer and cook until golden brown.
5. Drain on paper towels and sprinkle with salt.

This post is featured on Cybele Pascal's Allergy Friendly Friday.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Dairy-Free Ranch Dressing

I found a fantastic dairy-free ranch dressing recipe here.  I'll also put the recipe below, so I have a record of it without having to click and find. :)  This my little one is casein-free now, along with being gluten-free, I needed to find a replacement to ranch, since that is the all-purpose condiment.  We use it for veggies, chicken nuggets, fingers (literally he dips his fingers and eats it straight), etc.  So, after doing a quick search I found this one:

Dairy-Free Ranch Dressing

1 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice
about 1/2 cup soymilk (use regular soymilk, not vanilla)
1 cup mayonnaise
1/2 teaspoon dried chives
1/2 teaspoon dried parsley
1/2 teaspoon dried dill weed
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper

Directions

1 Pour  the lemon juice into a measuring cup and add soy milk until it reached 1/2 cup.  Mix together, and let sit for 10 minutes. 

2 In a bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, lemon juice and soy milk mixture, chives, parsley, dill, garlic powder, onion powder, salt and pepper.

3 Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes before serving.

Breadsticks and Family Reunions

We went to a big family get together for my husband's grandparents, it was their 60th wedding anniversary!  Well, his side of the family is Italian, so what do you think was for dinner? Yeah, you guessed it, spaghetti and meatballs with garlic bread (and a little bit of salad with croutons with italian dressing mixed in that had cheese in it)...hmm, what the heck do we eat!?!  Luckily, we asked ahead of time what the menu was, so we brought are own spaghetti (Mrs. Leeper's corn spaghetti), they had spaghetti sauce set aside that didn't have meatballs, so we were able to eat that sauce.  They also had some salad that didn't have any dressing on it set aside, so we could eat that as well.  And finally, I made breadsticks, so we had our own complete gluten-free, and for me and the little one, casein-free Italian meal.

All I did for the breadsticks was make the Ruth's gluten-free bread, and made mold's similar to what I did for hot dogs, except I made more of a snake or zigzag across the pan, as shown below:
 I let them rise for 20 minutes, then cooked them at 400 degrees for 25-30 minutes and they turned out great.  The boys dipped them in ranch dressing (the older one) and spaghetti sauce (the younger one) and love them!

Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free Pizza Crust Mix -- Review

I happened to see this mix at the store, I checked the ingredients and saw there was no bean flour (I'm starting my older son on the gf diet this weekend, and I wanted to make sure he would eat it, and I know he would definitely not eat a bean flour pizza crust), so I thought I'd give it a try.  You can see the ingredients in the pictures below and how easy the directions are, this is great for a Friday night after working a full work week, and coming home wanting to order a pizza, knowing you can't, and not wanting to measure out 10 different ingredients. :)


The crust was nice and thick and at least, amost chewy, so close to what a pizza crust should be.  It browned nicely and even tasted okay the next day when we reheated it.  The crust has a little bit sweet taste to it, I'm guessing that it is the sorghum, but it was still tasty.  In the future, if I use this mix again, I think I'll had some Italian seasoning to the dough to help compliment flavors between the crust and the toppings.

The really nice thing about the mix, it made two 12" pizzas...so we could have one with regular cheese and one with soy cheese, making everybody happy. :)


Overall Rating  7 out of 10  It was good and quite convenient, but I know that I could probably make one that tastes better, but there is a very good chance that I'll buy it again, just for convenience sake.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Entero Lab -- Review

Okay, this isn't a product review, it's a service review, but still the word needs to be spread about them.  Entero Lab offers tests for gluten, casein, egg, yeast and soy sensitivities, along with gene panel testing for gluten sensivity genes.  They test for antibodies in your stool, and since these antibodies are produced in the intestines, this test is more sensitive.  Also, because of this testing method, these foods (gluten, casein, etc.) do not need to be in your diet at the time of testing.  The antibodies remain present in your digestive system a lot longer than in your blood...so, you can be gluten-free and still be tested.

I ordered the Gluten Sensitivitiy Stool and Gene Panel Complete test for both of my boys.  Panel includes test for anti-gliadin IgA, anti-glutaminase IgA, fat malabsorption, anti-casein IgA, and also a swab to run a gene panel looking for gluten sensitivity alleles.  It takes three weeks from the time they receive the specimens to get the results, but it is worth the wait.

Both of my boys had the blood test to test anti-glutaminase IgA levels and both came back with normal levels...but I had a gut feeling that neither one was okay, so we did this test and it confirmed my suspicions.  I have their results below, so you can see how the results come back, basically my older son is gluten intolerant and my little one is both gluten and casein intolerant and is also producing anti-glutaminase IgA, which means it is autoimmune (so, probably Celiac).

The gene analysis showed that both boys carry an allele that predisposes them to celiac (HLA-DQB1*0302) and another allele that isn't a celiac one, but predisposes you to gluten sensitivity (HLA-DQB1*0603).  That means that both my husband and I have at least one gluten sensitivity allele, and at least one of us is carrying the gene for Celiac.

So, before we get to the results, here is an explanation of terms, so it's easier to understand what makes someone intolerant or sensitive to gluten or casien:

1) Gluten is actually general term for a group of proteins found in wheat, barley, and rye.  Each grain has a unique but very similar gluten, so each has its own name, but if you are intolerant to one, you are intolerant to them all.  Gliadin is the gluten protein found in wheat...

2) Anti-gliadin IgA is an antibody made by the body to attack gliadin (the gluten protein found in wheat), so if these levels are elevated that basically means you're body doesn't like gluten and thinks it's a harmful foreign substance and is treating it as such.

3) Tissue transgluminase (tTg) is an enzyme produced by the body to help in breaking down proteins, its functions are mainly to convert glutamine into glutamic acid and to also crosslink proteins (meaning create bonds between two proteins) so they don't degrade before the body breaks it down.  The problem with that is that the tTg is staying between these bonds and if someone already has a sensitivity to gluten...meaning they have the anti-gliadin IgG attacking the molecule, they could also start attacking the enzyme, thinking it's another foreign material leading to:

4) Anti-tissue transgluminase IgA which is an antibody made by the body to attack the tTg enzyme.  This is the autoimmune disease, your body is attacking itself because of it's gluten sensitivity and how the enzyme is situated in doing its job.  This antibody is the one tested when doctors test for Celiac.

5) Casein is a protein in milk and has a similar structure to gluten, about 50% of people who have a gluten intolerance also have a casein intolerance.

6) Anti-Casein IgA is, of course, the antibody produced by the body to attack casein because the body thinks it is a harmful foreign substance.




A) Gluten Sensitivity Stool and Gene Panel Complete *Best test/best value
Fecal Anti-gliadin IgA    10 Units   (Normal Range is less than 10 Units)

Fecal Anti-tissue Transglutaminase IgA    4 Units   (Normal Range is less than 10 Units)

Quantitative Microscopic Fecal Fat Score    Less than 300 Units   (Normal Range is less than 300 Units)

Fecal Anti-casein (cow’s milk) IgA    5 Units   (Normal Range is less than 10 Units)

HLA-DQB1 Molecular analysis, Allele 1    0302

HLA-DQB1 Molecular analysis, Allele 2    0603

Serologic equivalent: HLA-DQ   3,1  (Subtype 8,6)
Interpretation of Fecal Anti-gliadin IgA:  Intestinal antigliadin IgA antibody was elevated, indicating that you have active dietary gluten sensitivity. For optimal health, resolution of symptoms (if you have them), and prevention of small intestinal damage and malnutrition, osteoporosis, and damage to other tissues (like nerves, brain, joints, muscles, thyroid, pancreas, other glands, skin, liver, spleen, among others), it is recommended that you follow a strict and permanent gluten free diet. As gluten sensitivity is a genetic syndrome, you may want to have your relatives screened as well.Interpretation of Fecal Anti-tissue Transglutaminase IgA:  The level of intestinal IgA antibodies to the human enzyme tissue transglutaminase was below the upper limit of normal, and hence, there is no evidence of a gluten-induced autoimmune reaction.Interpretation of Quantitative Microscopic Fecal Fat Score:  Provided that dietary fat is being ingested, a fecal fat score less than 300 indicates there is no malabsorbed dietary fat in stool indicating that digestion and absorption of nutrients is currently normal.Interpretation of Fecal Anti-casein (cow’s milk) IgA:  Levels of fecal IgA antibody to a food antigen greater than or equal to 10 are indicative of an immune reaction, and hence immunologic “sensitivity” to that food. For any elevated fecal antibody level, it is recommended to remove that food from your diet. Values less than 10 indicate there currently is minimal or no reaction to that food and hence, no direct evidence of food sensitivity to that specific food. However, because 1 in 500 people cannot make IgA at all, and rarely, some people can still have clinically significant reactions to a food antigen despite the lack of a significant antibody reaction (because the reactions primarily involve T cells), if you have an immune syndrome or symptoms associated with food sensitivity, it is recommended that you try a strict removal of suspect foods from your diet for up to 12 months despite a negative test.Interpretation Of HLA-DQ Testing:  HLA-DQB1 gene analysis reveals that you have one of the main genes that predisposes to gluten sensitivity and celiac sprue, HLA-DQB1*0201 or HLA-DQB1*0302. Each of your offspring has a 50% chance of receiving this gene from you, and at least one of your parents passed it to you. You also have a non-celiac gene predisposing to gluten sensitivity (any DQ1, DQ2 not by HLA-DQB1*0201, or DQ3 not by HLA-DQB1*0302). Having one celiac gene and one gluten sensitive gene, means that each of your parents, and all of your children (if you have them) will possess at least one copy of a gluten sensitive gene. Having two copies also means there is an even stronger predisposition to gluten sensitivity than having one gene and the resultant immunologic gluten sensitivity or celiac disease may be more severe. This test was developed and its performance characteristics determined by the American Red Cross - Northeast Division. It has not been cleared or approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

For more information about result interpretation, please see http://www.enterolab.com/StaticPages/FaqResult.aspx
Stool Analysis performed by: Frederick Ogunji, Ph.D., EnteroLabMolecular Gene Analysis performed by: American Red CrossInterpretation of all results by: Kenneth D. Fine, M.D., EnteroLab



And for my little one:

A) Gluten Sensitivity Stool and Gene Panel Complete *Best test/best value
Fecal Anti-gliadin IgA    95 Units   (Normal Range is less than 10 Units)

Fecal Anti-tissue Transglutaminase IgA    57 Units   (Normal Range is less than 10 Units)

Quantitative Microscopic Fecal Fat Score    Less than 300 Units   (Normal Range is less than 300 Units)

Fecal Anti-casein (cow’s milk) IgA    28 Units   (Normal Range is less than 10 Units)

HLA-DQB1 Molecular analysis, Allele 1    0302

HLA-DQB1 Molecular analysis, Allele 2    0603

Serologic equivalent: HLA-DQ   3,1  (Subtype 8,6)
Interpretation of Fecal Anti-gliadin IgA:  Intestinal antigliadin IgA antibody was elevated, indicating that you have active dietary gluten sensitivity. For optimal health, resolution of symptoms (if you have them), and prevention of small intestinal damage and malnutrition, osteoporosis, and damage to other tissues (like nerves, brain, joints, muscles, thyroid, pancreas, other glands, skin, liver, spleen, among others), it is recommended that you follow a strict and permanent gluten free diet. As gluten sensitivity is a genetic syndrome, you may want to have your relatives screened as well.Interpretation of Fecal Anti-tissue Transglutaminase IgA:  You have an autoimmune reaction to the human enzyme tissue transglutaminase, secondary to dietary gluten sensitivity.Interpretation of Quantitative Microscopic Fecal Fat Score:  Provided that dietary fat is being ingested, a fecal fat score less than 300 indicates there is no malabsorbed dietary fat in stool indicating that digestion and absorption of nutrients is currently normal.Interpretation of Fecal Anti-casein (cow’s milk) IgA:  Levels of fecal IgA antibody to a food antigen greater than or equal to 10 are indicative of an immune reaction, and hence immunologic “sensitivity” to that food. For any elevated fecal antibody level, it is recommended to remove that food from your diet. Values less than 10 indicate there currently is minimal or no reaction to that food and hence, no direct evidence of food sensitivity to that specific food. However, because 1 in 500 people cannot make IgA at all, and rarely, some people can still have clinically significant reactions to a food antigen despite the lack of a significant antibody reaction (because the reactions primarily involve T cells), if you have an immune syndrome or symptoms associated with food sensitivity, it is recommended that you try a strict removal of suspect foods from your diet for up to 12 months despite a negative test.Interpretation Of HLA-DQ Testing:  HLA-DQB1 gene analysis reveals that you have one of the main genes that predisposes to gluten sensitivity and celiac sprue, HLA-DQB1*0201 or HLA-DQB1*0302. Each of your offspring has a 50% chance of receiving this gene from you, and at least one of your parents passed it to you. You also have a non-celiac gene predisposing to gluten sensitivity (any DQ1, DQ2 not by HLA-DQB1*0201, or DQ3 not by HLA-DQB1*0302). Having one celiac gene and one gluten sensitive gene, means that each of your parents, and all of your children (if you have them) will possess at least one copy of a gluten sensitive gene. Having two copies also means there is an even stronger predisposition to gluten sensitivity than having one gene and the resultant immunologic gluten sensitivity or celiac disease may be more severe. This test was developed and its performance characteristics determined by the American Red Cross - Northeast Division. It has not been cleared or approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

For more information about result interpretation, please see http://www.enterolab.com/StaticPages/FaqResult.aspx
Stool Analysis performed by: Frederick Ogunji, Ph.D., EnteroLabMolecular Gene Analysis performed by: American Red CrossInterpretation of all results by: Kenneth D. Fine, M.D., EnteroLab

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Black Bean and Sausage Soup

Okay, from my previous posts you know I have veggie haters in my house, but most of them like beans...so I thought I'd sneak in some veggies with the beans and maybe we would have success.  Well, everyone tried the soup, so it was an improvement over past meals.  I really enjoyed the soup, and it's really not hard to make.

Black Bean and Sausage Soup

2 15-oz cans black beans, rinsed and drained (reserve about 3/4 of one can)
2 cups chicken broth
1 cup water
1 cup chopped onion (1 large)
1 cup chopped celery (2 stalks)
1 teaspoon  ground coriander
1/4  teaspoon  salt
1/8  to 1/4 teaspoon  cayenne pepper
4 cloves garlic, minced
12 ounces cooked, smoked turkey sausage

Directions

In a large saucepan combine beans, broth, water, onion, celery, coriander, salt, cayenne pepper, and garlic. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, covered, about 15 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Blend soup mixture with immersion blender or in a regular blender (if you're like me and don't have an immersion blender) Stir in remaining beans and the sausage; heat through. Makes 4 servings.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Quick and Easy Chicken Stir Fry

I have a ton of veggies in my fridge right now, and what better way to use them, than in a stir fry.  The only problem for me is convincing everyone else in my family that they are good.  I live in a household of veggie haters, they only have a few select veggies they will eat, but I really wanted this, and since I'm the cook in the family we had it.  I didn't cut up the chicken breasts, because I knew my husband would be picking out the chicken, so I made it easier for him, but if I were to make it as a normal stir fry, I'd cut up the chicken.  The picture below, doesn't show the chicken, well, because I didn't think to take a picture until after dinner, so you get to see what my lunch looks like for tomorrow.  This stir fry is easy and quick, and you can use whatever veggies you have on hand.

Chicken Stir Fry

2 tablespoons oil
2 chicken breasts cut into 3/4" pieces
4 cups assorted fresh veggies (I used broccoli, carrots, celery, and red peppers)
2 cloves garlic minced
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 tablespoon gluten free soy sauce

Directions
1. Cook chicken on medium high heat in 1 tablespoon of oil until no longer pink. Remove from pan and set aside.
2. Add 1 tablespoon of oil to pan (if needed) and add vegetables.  Cook until tender crisp, stirring often.  Add garlic and cook 1 minute longer.
3. Meanwhile, mix cornstarch, broth, and soy sauce until smooth.  Add mixture to veggies and reduce heat to medium.  Cook until mixture thickens.  Add chicken back into pan and heat through.  Serve over rice.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Artichokes with Herb Butter Sauce

Sometimes, I think we get carried away with trying to come up with gluten-free recipes that we forget that there are so many foods out there that are naturally gluten-free.  This post is nothing fancy or a break-through in cooking, but a reminder that you really don't need to do something special to make your meals gluten-free, especially when you're starting out.  A dinner consisting of lean meat, veggies, fruit, and maybe rice or potatoes, so more than plenty to eat, you really won't miss the bread.  So, in honor of that, I'll let you know what I ate for lunch--artichokes.  Now, I hardly ever (really, probably only once before) buy whole artichokes to eat.  But these ones came in my bountiful basket, so I had to celebrate and gorge myself on them.  For some reason, I'm a short order cook for lunches...I really shouldn't cater to everyone, but it's nice to have everyone eating, so I still do it.  But having a meal where everyone gets what they want, allows me to have what I want without everyone complaining, so no complaining about artichokes, because I had it all to myself.

Now for those of you, like me, that prefer buying artichokes in a can, so you don't have to wonder, "how the heck to I eat this?", here is the link for the recipe I used from Better Homes and Gardens, it includes instructions on how to clean and cook whole artichokes. :)  I used dill as my herb in my sauce and dairy-free margarine, of course, instead of butter.  It was divine!

GF/CF Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Cookies

I love cookies, and Sundays are usually when I bake them...just seems like the best day to do it.  So I thought I would give this recipe from gfutah.org a try.  I did modify it a little, I separated out the flours instead of having a flour blend...and modified the blend along with that.  Also, I made sure it was dairy free, so I could enjoy it as well. So here it is, how I made it:

GF/CF Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Cookies

1/2 cup (1 stick) margarine, softened (I use Nucoa, because it's dairy-free)
1/2 cup shortening
1 cup creamy peanut butter
1 cup sugar
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 eggs
1 cup brown rice flour
2/3 cup sorghum flour (if you don't have sorghum, go ahead and sub with brown rice flour)
1/2 cup potato starch
1/3 cup tapioca starch
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp xanthan gum
2 cups dairy-free chocolate chips (I actually use the Kroger Value Brand semi-sweet....they don't guarantee that it's dairy-free, but I haven't gotten sick off of them yet, and they are a heck of a lot cheaper than the real dairy-free ones.)

Directions

1. Heat oven to 375 degrees. In a large mixing bowl, cream margarine, shortening, and sugars.  Add egg and mix well.
2. Stir together flours, baking soda, baking powder, and salt; add to butter mixture and mix well.  Stir in chocolate chips.  Drop by rounded teaspoons onto an ungreased cookie sheet.
3. Bake 8-10 minutes or until lightly brown on edges and just set in middle.  Cool slightly on cookie sheet before removing and placing on wire rack.

Makes about 5 dozen. (I make the whole batch and freeze half of them)


UPDATE:  I got sick off the chocolate chips I used...so, it's not worth it to buy the Kroger Value chips, just pay the money for the dairy free ones. :(

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Hot Dog and Hamburger Buns

I have been wanting a hot dog so much lately, yes I'm a kid still, I still like to eat processed meat.  I do like Brats even more, but I really just wanted the plain old, kid-friendly hot dog with ketchup and mustard.  I have gluten-free hot dogs, ketchup, and mustard...so what about hot dog buns?  I came across this idea in the Incredible Edible Gluten-Free Food for Kids, which I shall say again, is a wonderful book. So, I made a batch this morning, along with some hamburger buns, as well.  And it really isn't that bad to make, and they are sooooo much better than store bought buns...so enjoy!

 Hot Dog and Hamburger Buns

1.   Prepare the Ruth's Gluten-free Bread dough as directed.
2.   Make molds as follows

  • Tear off a strip of foil about 15 inches long for hot dog buns and 8-12 inches long for hamburger buns.
  • Fold in half the long way, so it's still 15 inches long, but now skinnier.
  • Fold in half 2 more times, or until it's about 1-1 1/2" tall.
  • Bring the ends of the foil strip together, tucking one end into the folds of the other end.
  • Shape the mold into an oblong shape (or circle for hamburger buns) and place on a greased cookie sheet.  Repeat. (I made 4 hamburger buns and 4 hot dog buns with this recipe, but my hot dog buns were a little big, so you could probably get even more out of this).

3.   Grease the molds well.
4.   Spoon dough into the molds, and smooth out with a wet spatula or spoon.
 5.   Let the dough rise for 20 minutes.
6.   Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
7.   Cook buns for 25-30 minutes, covering after the first 10 minutes of cooking.
8.   Remove the buns from the oven and cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes.
9.   Remove the buns from the molds and cool completely.
10. Slice each bun in half and insert a piece of waxed paper between the slices.
11. Store buns in freezer until needed (they should last at least 3-4 months in freezer).

    Friday, October 1, 2010

    Mrs. Leeper's Corn Spaghetti

    So, I'm a pasta girl and I married a pasta boy...so of course we would have pasta kids, and what happens when that pasta is suddenly off limits?  Well, you still eat pasta!  I do love rice noodles (The Thai Kitchen brand is one of my favorites), but sometimes the Asian noodles just doesn't cut it and I want my Italian style pasta with meatballs and marinara sauce!  So, we tried out Mrs. Leeper's Corn Spaghetti and it passed!  My little one was literally stuffing his face with it, makes a mom smile. :)  The noodles were a bit fatter than our gluten spaghetti we have in the house, but the texture is right, and it definitely worked in alleviating my spaghetti craving and was a nice change from rice noodles.  So, if you're rice noodled out, this is worth a shot.

    Overall Rating: 10 out of 10 because my little one more than put his stamp of approval on it and it worked perfectly for classic spaghetti and that's what I needed it for.