The Best Gluten-Free $24 I’ve Spent This Season

Admittedly, I’m the glutton of the group. I’m the one who’s always looking for a delicious GF dessert, snack, or other sweet treat. I like salads and veggies and meats and fruits, and I need to be more dutiful about honing my cooking skills, but when I NEED something, I usually need something sweet. Or rich. Or decadent. I might have a bit of a problem.

Back to my $24. In my latest round of Costco coupons, I saw one that said $9 off Cuisinart automatic ice cream maker. Hmmm. I told myself if it was less than $50, I would definitely buy it for my husband who has mentioned on several occasions that we should get one. I rolled my eyes. Said we’d never use it. Said we didn’t have room for another appliance. That part is true, but let me tell you, we are going to use this baby.

I was pleasantly surprised to find that this automatic ice cream maker—no salt, no ice—was twenty-four bucks. It came home with me.

Saturday I made the most amazing chocolate ice cream, that was, guess what, gluten free and dairy free. Here’s what you do:

  • Go to Costco and buy the nifty ice cream maker.
  • Bring it home. Wash it. Put the bowl in the freezer.
  • Wait 18 hours.
  • Whisk together 2 cups of dark chocolate almond milk, 1 cup of original almond milk, and 3/4 cup of organic cane sugar. Whisk for about two minutes. Stir in two teaspoons of pure vanilla.
  • Get your frozen bowl out of the freezer and put the three easy parts of the machine together.
  • Plug it in and turn it on.
  • Pour in your mixture.
  • Set timer for 25 to 30 minutes.
  • Watch your brother and husband consume nearly the entire batch in no time flat. (Said brother and husband give less than a flip about GF/organic/ridiculously healthy eating.)

Voila! I was able to sneak in about a serving or two for myself. Pure deliciousness. Watch out for the ice cream headache and enjoy!!

Stay tuned for my GF banana oat muffins. If you didn’t know they were GF, you wouldn’t know they were GF.

And don’t tell Dr. Jana. I’m supposed to be on phase one. And someone please take the rest of the dark chocolate covered espresso beans by the coffee station at work before I take the rest of them and put them in ice cream.

Soy Lecithin—What Is This Stuff?

If you’re a label reader, and I’m guessing that you are, you’ve probably seen this a lot. I see it all the time, and I try to pay particular attention to it because my mom can’t have soy flour. It nulls her thyroid medication. Soy can also do weird things to hormone levels, among other things.

Soy Lecithin (pronounced les-uh-thin) is a natural oily substance found in soy plants. This article from Fooducate shares some basic information about it. And it spurred a firestorm of comments on the food industry and allergies. Here are some basic takeaways on lecithin: it occurs naturally, essentially it acts as an emulsifier, keeping your food together, and it is typically used because it’s so affordable.

Of all things that get tossed into our food supply, I don’t think this will be at the top of the list as one of the “worst” but keep in mind that it’s good to avoid processed foods as much as possible, soy grown in the US is mostly genetically modified, and you’ll want to tread cautiously with soy products if you have allergies, thyroid issues, or hormone issues.

And now we all know it is pronounced les-uh-thin.

Why those “corn syrup is just the same as sugar” commercials need to stop

Nothing makes me angrier than those awful commercials about how corn syrup isn’t bad for you. “OF COURSE CORN SYRUP IS BAD FOR YOU!” I want to scream (and sometimes do) at the T.V. Corn syrup is inexpensive to produce–which is why it’s such a popular ingredient–and is six times sweeter than the same amount of cane sugar.

There is no conclusive evidence that corn syrup is worse for your body than regular cane sugar, but cane sugar isn’t good for you either. Duh. That’s like saying dying by drowning is the same as dying by smoke inhalation. Both options are awful and you end up dead in both scenarios! Really, Corn Refiner’s Association, just shut up. I don’t want to hear anymore about how wholesome and OK corn syrup is. It isn’t and you need to stop lying.

The average American consumes over 40 pounds of corn syrup a year. I mean, gross. We all know that a diet heavy in corn syrup or sugar will pack on the pounds, cut your enegry levels down to nill, and put you at risk for diabetes. But a new study has proven that consuming large amounts of high fructose corn syrup actually damages your brain too. It will prevent you from learning new things as easily and causes reductions in synaptic activity in the brain.

Luckily, researchers did discover that consuming omega-3’s helped combat some of those symptoms. So if you must indulge in sugary (or corn syrupy) treats, make sure you amp up your intake of salmon, walnuts, and flax to protect your brain!

Wendy’s Now Offers Baked Sweet Potatoes

On yet another road trip, I was pretty thrilled to discover that Wendy’s now offers baked sweet potatoes as a side. I’m currently on the dreaded phase one, minus apples, bananas, melons, and gasp—all sweeteners. But, as a trade for apples and bananas, Dr. Jana said I could have sweet potatoes and quinoa.

http://wendys.com/food/Product.jsp?family=7&product=436

I’m happy to report; it was delicious! I didn’t put any of the cinnamon butter or their “buttery spread” and it was still very good.

We travel pretty regularly, so another gluten-free fast food option is fantastic.

Not that I’m above cheating. Stay tuned for my confession of my glorious weekend of fail in Chicago. Cheating at the Italian Village in Chicago is far more rewarding than cheating at Wendy’s.

Mom’s Planning Kiddie Birthday Parties Rejoice!

Chuck E. Cheese is testing gluten-free products! The littlest gluten-freebie fans of the animatronic mouse may soon be able to have their birthday parties at the beloved restaurant chain while enjoying gf pizza and chocolate cake. If I were a gluten-free kid I’d be psyched.

Now, I’m not claiming that Chuck E. Cheese could ever be considered healthy, but I do think this is a gf win! I loved birthday parties there as a kid. Sure they weren’t very creative, but there was pizza, cake, a robot show, games, and you could trade in tickets for plastic prizes that feel apart within a few hours. How is that not awesome to a kid?

Sometimes us gluten-freebies just want to feel normal. Most of the time I’m cool with my dietary restrictions, but every once in a while I would love to walk into a normal chain restaurant and just order something off of the menu without asking a gazillion questions and making a fuss–and I’m a grown woman who knows and understands why that will probably never be possible (although sometimes I like to daydream about a completely gluten-free world. Sigh.) I would imagine that it’s tough to be a gf kid who can never eat the food at birthday parties and gets labeled a “weirdo” for their gf eating habits. Now they can have a completely generic birthday party at Chuck E. Cheese (only in Minnesota for now) just like everyone else.

Gluten-Free Celebs: Good or Evil?

Kim Kardashian has joined the ranks of celebs who admitted to using a gluten-free diet to lose weight. Miley Cyrus, Zooey Deschanel, Scarlett Johansson, Billy Bob Thornton, Ryan Phillipe, Victoria Beckham, Selma Blair, and many others have all been linked to gluten-free diets for a variety of reasons. Some have celiac’s, wheat allergies, sensitivities, or just want to feel better or get slimmer (Obviously, a gluten-free diet won’t necessarily make you lose weight. There are plenty of gf foods with as much fat and sugar as any other junk food out there!). But the question is: how do you feel when a celebrity announces that they have gone gluten-free?

For me, if the celeb suffers from celiac or an allergy, I usually want to send them a gf-free cookie basket. But the ones who treat the gluten-free lifestyle as a fad diet really make me angry. That sort of flippant treatment of a diet that is the only cure for the disease I suffer from kind of makes me want to punch those celebs in the face. Cutting out all grains (including gf grains) will help you lose weight, but that doesn’t make you gluten-free. It means you are on a no-grain diet. You will not get sick if the waiter accidentally puts salad dressing containing wheat on your salad or if your salmon has a glaze made with soy sauce on it. You probably won’t even realize that you consumed gluten, so you certainly won’t complain to the restaurant or bother to correct that waiter’s assumption that the dish he served you was NOT, in fact, gluten-free. So chances are, he’ll recommend that same not-gf dish to someone with celiac’s and make them really sick. And, because of the followings these celebs have, they often inspire others to emulate them–ensuring that waiters and restaurants all over the country think things are gf that are not. See why this makes me angry?

I used to be delighted when a celeb announced that they followed a gluten-free diet. When Jenny McCarthy promoted the gf lifestyle back in 2006, I saw a whole new host of gf products show up in my grocery store. It was like Christmas for my taste buds. But, as time has gone on, it seems like celebrities aren’t inspiring more products–they’re just diluting the seriousness of an issue that affects so many people!

Am I crazy to feel this way? Are y’all pro gf celebs and anti me punching them?

GF Pizza Delivered?

I could get gf pizza delivered to my door in NYC and I’m sure gluten-freebies in big cities like Chicago and San Francisco may be able to do the same, but the rest of America was out of luck–until now! Domino’s announced today that they will be offering gluten-free pizza! it sounds almost too good to be true, right? Of course, only time will tell if they are able to separate their gluten-free utensils, ovens, and prep spaces from their gluten-filled ones to ensure no cross-contamination occurs. Are you willing to try Domino’s new gf pies?

Faux Pho

One of my biggest comfort foods from my NYC days was Pho, delicious Vietnamese soup loaded with beef and hot rice noodles. I’d pick up a carton of it from a deli and curl up at home on a cold night with a big, steaming bowl of it. I’m sure they serve it somewhere here in Nashville, but since I’ve been on Phase 1, I’ve been looking for delicious, filling fare with no rice or rice noodles (a staple of Pho!) so I decided to create my own. It’s not just like traditional Pho (you can learn more at PhoFever), but my Faux Pho certainly captures the essence of this comforting soup! It’s perfect on a rainy day, but is pretty darn good anytime. Enjoy!

Ingredients:

Pacific Organic Vegetarian Pho Soup Starter 

chopped radishes

chopped green onions

chopped celery

chopped basil

Mung Bean Sprouts (I used crunchy sprouts as the store was out of mung)

thinly sliced flank steak (or any cut you prefer of beef)

2 large spaghetti squash

Directions:

1.) Cut each spaghetti squash in half lengthwise. Scrape out the seeds and place each half insides down on a cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes or until insides are soft and scrape out easily. Scrape the squash’s insides (which will look like noodles) out into a bowl and set aside.

2.) In a large stockpot, lightly brown radishes, onion, and celery until they begin to soften.

3.) Add in the Pacific broth and bring to a boil.

4.) Add in sprouts, basil, and spaghetti squash “noodles.”

5.) After about two minutes, drop in thinly sliced bits of flank steak. Stir a few times and then serve piping hot!