Saturday, September 24, 2011

Short and Sweet


Since I am very busy preparing for the upcoming holiday of Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year, this blog post will be short...but sweet. I found some great new recipes I felt I had to share!

For those uninitiated, people are supposed to eat sweet foods, such as apples and honey, sweet raisin challa and sweet kugels on Rosh Hashana to symbolize a "sweet" new year. When Lillie saw all the round (a traditional shape for new year's challa) raisin challa's I had made for the rest of the family on the cooling rack, she declared she wanted raisin challa too. Her favorite brand of oat challa is Katz's, and they do carry a 10-ounce raisin challa. I felt that was a bit too big for Lillie, so I ventured to make my own. Since Lillie has what may be called a "discriminating palate", she had rejected my numerous oat challa attempts in the past in favor of store bought. But I decided to give it one more try. Instead of using 100% oat flour I mixed it with my favorite gluten free all purpose brand, in a 50/50 ratio. Oat flour is the only gluten free flour upon which one can make "Hamotzi", the blessing on bread said before Shabbat and Yom Tov (holiday) meals (and any other time bread is eaten). So I couldn't use solely the all purpose gf flour. I adapted a recipe from Jules Gluten Free blog with surprisingly good results.

If you are frantically preparing for the holiday like me, and have a page long list of things to cook, you may want to buy desserts. No fear if like most people, you don't have a gluten free bakery near you, try some of Katz's new items. They kindly sent me some samples of their delicious new offerings. Included were a traditional Apple Pie. Lillie liked the crust best, I liked the filling, which had a homemade feel and was not too sweet and gooey---the way I like it! The new Coffee Bundt cake had a very good look and texture, and is worth the $10 price, in my opinion. It came with a separate container of icing, which I felt had a very strong coffee flavor. So if you like that then use, if not, serve plain or dust with powdered sugar. The Sugared Snack Poppers evoked a Proustian memory in me when I "popped" them in my mouth---Kichel! Now on their website Katz's writes "Kichel" in parenthesis. These are light little cookies with a sugary dusting. The website is currently offering a special of free shipping on orders over $30.

Katz is generously giving away a box of 5 of their gluten free baked goods. Leave a comment on this post telling me your favorite holiday baked good, and your e-mail address (so I can get in touch with you if you win), and you will be entered in the giveaway. The deadline for entering the giveaway is 11:59 p.m. on Monday, October 3rd, 2011. The winner will be picked at random from entries that contain an e-mail address.

Another Rosh Hashana tradition is to eat simanim, or symbolic foods, which corresponds to different good tidings for the new year. One of them is dates. I generally buy a big container, and they are popular for a few days, then sit hardening in my cabinet until Tu b'shvat. I happened to come upon a great recipe to use up extra dates.

So I wish you a Shana Tova...a sweet, happy and healthy new year!

Sweet Raisin Challa

Adapted from Jules Gluten Free blog

non-stick cooking spray
1/3 cup warm water
1 packet (2 1/4 tsp.) rapid rise gluten free yeast
1 tsp. granulated cane sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 tsp. apple cider vinegar
4 large eggs, beaten
1/3 cup canola oil
1/4 cup honey, agave nectar or molasses
2 cups all-purpose Gluten Free Flour* (I used Jules brand)
2 cups gluten free oat flour
4 teaspoons xanthan gum
3 Tbs. + 2 tsp. granulated cane sugar
1 1/4 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. gluten-free baking powder
1/2 cup golden raisins
1 large egg beaten with 1 teaspoon water, optional

*If your all-purpose gluten free flour blend contains xanthan gum (like Jules) or guar gum, reduce xanthan gum in recipe to 2 teaspoons.

Preheat your oven to 200º F, then turn it off; if you have a warming drawer, you may set that to low/moist setting instead. Spray baking pan (see below) with non-stick cooking spray.

In a small bowl, mix together the warm water, yeast and 1 teaspoon of sugar to proof the yeast; set aside. In the bowl of your stand mixer, add the remaining wet ingredients and mix until combined. Whisk together the dry ingredients in a separate bowl. After 5 minutes of proofing, stir in the yeast-water mixture into the wet ingredients (note: if your yeast isn’t bubbling at this point, throw it out and start again with fresh yeast). Gradually stir in the dry ingredients until fully integrated, then mix 2 minutes more on medium speed.

Spoon batter into prepared pans.

To achieve the round challa shape for Rosh Hashana here are some options:
*"Texas Size" giant muffin pans (about 6-8)
*Cupcake pan (about 12)
*Mini-Bundt Pan (about 6)
*Place a ramekin or custard cup in center of a round cake pan, spray all well with non-stick cooking spray, pour batter around ramekin (2 medium)
*Pour batter into 2 8-inch round cake pans
*Bundt pan (2 small, 1 large)
*Gently form dough into a rope with (gluten free) floured hands and roll into a coil on a parchment lined baking sheet (2 small, 1 large)

Place in a warming drawer set to low heat, or into the warmed oven for approximately 20 – 30 minutes. (Don’t expect the bread to rise much at this stage). Once risen slightly, brush with egg wash, if desired.

Bake in an oven preheated to 350º F (static) or 325º F (convection) for 20 minutes. Remove to cool on a wire rack.

May be wrapped in foil or frozen in a zip-top plastic bag. Warm before serving.

Chewy Date Bars
from The Top 100 Recipes for a Healthy Lunchbox by Nicola Graimes, p 127

Non-stick cooking spray
1 1/2 cups chopped, pitted, dried dates
1 cup water
1 cup all purpose gluten free flour blend with xanthan gum
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup rolled oats
4 Tablespoons sunflower seeds
4 1/2 ounces unsalted butter or non-hydrogenated margarine

Spray an 11x7 inch baking pan with non stick cooking spray.

Put the dates and 1 cup water in a small saucepan, bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer, partially covered, 20 minutes until dates are soft and water has been absorbed. Puree the dates in a blender and let cool.

Pre-heat the oven to 350F degrees.

Meanwhile, mix together the flour, baking powder, sugar, oats, and seeds in a mixing bowl. Rub in the butter or margarine until the mixture is soft and crumbly. Spoon 3/4 into the prepared pan and press down to make an even layer.

Spoon the date mixture over the oats in an even layer, sprinkling with the remaining oat mixture, and press down lightly. Bake 25 minutes until golden, then leave in the pan to cool. Cut into 16 squares and remove from the pan. Store in an airtight container up to 1 week.

Yield: 16 bars

Monday, September 12, 2011

Real Cool!


I always say when asked that classic question about what food you would bring to a desert island, my answer is pizza and ice cream. Not terribly practical if you are stranded on a desert island, but still the two foods I would choose to eat exclusively if I could.

But, as we all know too much of a good thing is actually a bad thing.However, a company named Arctic Zero has created a product that makes it possible to have almost as much ice cream as you like. They make pints which have 150 calories, not per serving, but per pint. And realistically we all know everyone digs into the whole pint when no one is looking. They have a number of unique flavors like pumpkin spice and vanilla maple (just imagine that on warm apple pie), in addition to old favorites like chocolate and strawberry. They also make pops which are just the right size for the kiddies (and mommies too). And the best part is it is made with all natural ingredients. Arctic Zero doesn't have the artificial sweetener aftertaste of many low-cal frozen desserts. Instead they use something called monk fruit concentrate to boost the sweetness from organic cane sugar in the ingredients. Arctic Zero also include whey protein, so it has a nice boost of protein most frozen desserts do not. Although not dairy free, Arctic Zero is lactose free, so no upset tummies for those that are sensitive.

I am kind of on pumpkin overload this time of year, and love all things pumpkin. Try making a shake with Arctic Zero pumpkinspice flavor (or any flavor you like) and coconut milk or whatever your milk of choice.

Pumpkin Milkshake

1/2 pint Arctic Zero Pumpkin Spice flavor
12-ounces chilled milk (dairy, coconut, soy, almond)
2 Tablespoons chocolate syrup
6 ice cubes

Blend everything on high speed in the blender until smooth. Serve immediately.

Yield: 1 large shake

Note: For even more protein you can add a scoop of your favorite protein powder to the shake.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Alert and Aware


Celiac Awareness Day is September 13th this year. It coincides with the beginning of the school year. I found the timing interesting, as I have a pressing need at the beginning of the school year to make Lillie's and Rosie's new teachers "aware" of their food sensitivities and needs.

In general, my approach is three pronged to make my daughters' school experience more comfortable. First, I speak to their teachers before school starts. Just getting their numbers can be challenging, and I always try to respect boundaries. However, I feel catching them for five minutes when I drop off the first day is not enough. If I see that leaving a message for them at school doesn't work, I call at home and preface by saying, "I'd like to arrange a time to speakthat is convenient for you." Some teachers are nervous after I tell them about Rosie's Epipen and her hospitalizations, but it is a necessary conversation. Some people have heard of celiac disease and some have not. Either way, we need to discuss an approach that's comfortable for all parties regarding celebrations at school and various situations when the school provides food for events. Ask the teachers the best way to reach the them during the year (e-mail, phone, etc.). Request that they be in touch before parties, and explain how nice it would be if they can offer foods the entire class could eat, e.g. an ice cream party instead of a pizza party.

I also mention the physical effects if Lillie is "glutenned" and make them aware that she is fatigued at times, and may need to use the bathroom frequently. Although it may be a bit uncomfortable to talk about your child's bathroom needs with a stranger, it's necessary especially since many schools have rules about not going except between classes. And, we know when a celiac kid needs to go...they gotta go!

Secondly, I put together a packet with my Memo about my children's needs, as well as a list of problematic ingredients (available on, and a "safe" candy and snack list from the Dallas chapter of Raising Our Celiac Kids (R.O.C.K.). More often than not, I find that the teacher calls me regarding ingredients, instead of checking the list. But at least, I feel I made an effort, and at least she is aware that she needs to be careful with ingredients. Lillie happens to be hyper cautious and will bring home treats she recieves at school for me to o.k. before she will consume them. I admire her restraint greatly given her age. About 1/4 of Rosie's class this year is allergic to nuts, so the teacher is hyper-sensitive about ingredients. That statistic floored me, but I was relieved that the teacher had to understand and deal with this issue, as so many children are affected.

Lastly, I send a big bag of acceptable snacks for my kids, as well as a jar of soy butter (peanut's are banned from the school) and rice cakes in case they forget lunch, to keep on top of their cubbies (or wherever else the teacher deems acceptable). Lillie's teacher gave alot of "treats" last year, so she dipped into the bag quite often. This year her teacher told me she doesn't give food as rewards...I was thrilled, as you might imagine! I also received permission to keep a supply of cupcakes in the freezer of one of the teacher's rooms, as birthday parties aren't always announced in advance. I can recommend Katz's decorated cupcakes , as they come in a plastic container and keep well. For Rosie, I provide Epipen's and other allergy medications for both her classroom and the school nurse (check with your school regarding rules pertaining to medication dispention). I found that a fanny pack (dig it up from your '80's clothing box) works well, as it can be attached to an adult and taken on class trips and in some accute cases I have heard, even just out to the playground on a daily basis. Included in the pack are clear instructions regarding allergies, dosages and parent's phone numbers for quick reference. One year the nurse requested a picture of the child on the corresponding medicine as a failsafe of sorts, and for quicker retrieval. I thought this was a good idea.

If you put all the steps in place to make the teachers and staff who interact with your children at school "aware" of their dietary and health needs, you are on the right track for a great year. Remember this is something that has to be dealt with, even if in general you are non-confrontational and a "go with the flow" type. So be assertive and direct in advocating for your child-- be a "grizzly mama"!

I thought about what I want people, in general, to be aware of in terms of celiac disease and food allergies, and I asked Lillie the same question. Her answer was that she wanted the entire world to eat gluten free, so that she could eat whatever she wants!

I would like people to be aware that:

*Celiac disease is not a food allergy; it will not be outgrown someday.
*You cannot take something "like Lactaid" and eat wheat products (not yet anyway).
* Although my daughter may have an appealing treat at a school party, she'd rather have what everyone else is having.
*My daughter stares at bakeries and pizzerias like they were selling diamonds she could never afford.
*My daughter can not have, "just a little, just this once" of any product with gluten, ever, period! *Even though there are many wonderful products in the supermarkets today labelled, "gluten free", my daughter doesn't necessarily like the way they taste.
* Gluten is in more than just wheat.
* Cross contamination is important. While I appreciate it if someone buys Lillie gluten free cookies, they cannot be put on the same try as the "regular" ones.
* It is not easy having celiac disease when you are a child. It is not easy having anything that makes you "different" when you are a child.
*I am grateful that Lillie has a disease that can be controlled by diet.
*I am grateful that there are many wonderful scientists working on solutions for managing celiac that may be tangible by the time Lillie is an adult.
*I am grateful that big companies now make affordable gluten free products which I can buy in my regular supermarket.
*I am grateful for all the wonderful people in our lives who "get it" and help make things a bit easier for my kids.

I tend to dread packing school lunches. Every morning there is that moment of scrutiny when the kids peer into their lunch boxes. The contents are discussed during carpool and compared. I really try to send in a nutritious balance for my kids, even though they would like to eat nothing more than pasta and pudding for each meal and snack. Below is a recipe for gluten free, allergy free blondies that I think are a nice treat once in awhile. Wrap in foil and write a note to your child on them with a permanent marker as an added surprise at snack time.

from Sophie-Safe Cooking by Emily Hendrix. p. 94

1 cup brown sugar (I like it with a bit less sugar)
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/3 rice milk
1 1/2 Gluten Free oat flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract*
1 cup chocolate chips*
1/2 cup chopped nuts* (optional)

*My additions

Mix all ingredients together in a medium sized bowl until the batter is smooth. Pour and spread into a greased 9x9" pan.

Bake for 25 minutes at 350. Cut into squares when cool. May be frozen in a zip-top plastic bagged, if desired.