The gluten episodes

Our youngest kiddo, "Little C", went through a rough patch this past summer and we didn't really know what was causing her issues at the time.

She had been a difficult baby. She screamed a lot and was extremely constipated. I eliminated gluten from my diet (I was breastfeeding her) and Little C's bowel movements normalized and her screaming totally went away - our baby became normal.

As time went on, Little C started eating solids and we did our best to keep gluten out of our diet.

Things were going well, until one day, we experienced a totally crazy tantrum from our sweet little girl. Little C was almost 2 when she began having tantrums that seemed too bizarre to blame on the terrible two's.


We didn't know why...

This past summer I hadn't been diligent in taking gluten-free snacks for Little C to eat when she was in the nursery at church and sometimes I assumed everyone knew about her 'allergy'. It wasn't so. There were quite a few times where Little C was given goldfish crackers because someone in her class didn't see her allergy sticker - or I'd simply forgotten to put one on her. The first time she ever had goldfish crackers it was reported that, "She really liked them!!" (as in...she ate a ton).

With Little C's gluten allergy, and mine as well, the side effects aren't immediate and they last for about 2 weeks after we've eaten gluten. Well, 1-3 days after church, Little C would begin having quite crazy, hair-raising screaming fits. Her eyes would go blank (as if nobody was home) and she would belt out the most terrifying scream I've ever heard. This screaming would go on for 30-45 minutes straight. There was no consoling her. She threw herself on the ground if we tried to touch her. Her whole body would go completely stiff if we picked her up. Talking to her was like talking to a wall - there was no reaction, no less screaming, it was like we weren't even there.

It was frightening.

We weren't always sure if she had eaten goldfish at church, and these tantrums seemed like more than a simple allergic reaction. It had been a long time since the days of our  'scrying baby' and it seemed we got a little lax in our food monitoring.

When Little C was having her episodes, the thought of her being autistic was front and center. I started researching, and you know what? Quite a few articles correlated un-diagnosed food sensitivities as being a leading cause of autism.

Wow.

We had always blamed her fits on gluten, but after a while, it started to seem silly to attribute her behavior to food. I felt like everyone else thought I was a loony mom who was making up excuses for my kid's bad behavior. I didn't know what to do. My child had a problem.

It was not easy to figure out the source of Little C's tantrums. Our doctor had us document her food intake, and we kept detailed records of her tantrums (including videos our doc could watch). After a couple months of record keeping, the answer became quite clear.

The research I had read and the words our doctor spoke were reassuring to us that gluten DOES cause our child to behave in a way that seems out of her control. Gluten is the culprit. My daughter has a delayed food sensitivity (this phrase was so foreign to me before all of this).

I wish we knew why Little C's body doesn't agree with gluten, but for now, we will continue to be those annoying parents who hover near the food table at a party, just to make sure our child doesn't sneak up and grab something off-limits to her body.

Also see: Gluten Intolerance Symptoms | My Story
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Does your kid have behavioral issues that are beyond the normal spectrum? Have you ever considered how food might have an impact on mental health? I'd love to hear - share below!

Grilled Peppers Stuffed with Goat Cheese

Okay, so the weather in the Seattle area has been a bit typical lately (gray clouds and rain), but every day it's not raining, I've been thinking about grilling. And every time I mention that I'm going to grill dinner, my husband begs me to make grilled peppers stuffed with goat cheese. I guess he likes it. It is pretty amazing (if you like peppers and goat cheese).

Of course these are gluten-free, but saying it's dairy free is a stretch. These peppers are filled with cheese.  There is an option to use a cheese alternative, but you still need to use goat cheese.

Prep and cook time: 35 minutes

Feeds: 4-6

2 yellow bell peppers

2 red bell peppers

1/2 cup crumbled goat cheese

1 cup Monterey Jack cheese, or cheese alternative, Vegan Gourmet, shredded

4 green onions, chopped

1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped

Heat the grill to med-high.

1. Cut the bell peppers lengthwise into halves, discarding the stem ends and membranes.

2. Place 1 inch water in a large saucepan and bring to boil. Drop the peppers in and boil for 2 minutes. Drain, cut side down on paper towels.

3. Combine the goat cheese, Monterey Jack cheese, onions and basil in a bowl and mix well.

4. Spoon about 2 tablespoons of the cheese mixture into each bell pepper half.

5. Fold a large piece of foil to make a rectangle tray (big enough to hold the peppers). Arrange the bell pepper halves inside the foil and place another piece of foil over the top and seal both pieces together. Cut slits into the top to allow steam to escape.

76. Arrange the foil packet on the grill and grill for 5-6 minutes or until the bell peppers are crisp-tender and the cheese is melted. To serve, cut into smaller wedges and serve immediately.

NOTE: you can bake these peppers if you don't have a grill. Place the peppers in a baking dish with a little water, Bake at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes.

*This recipe is straight out of a

gfreecuisine.com

meal plan I used last year. It's so good, I put it in my 'favorite recipes' binder with 5 stars boldly drawn on. :)

Basic White Bread (Gluten-Free & Dairy-Free)

I’ve made this recipe time and again and it’s absolutely the best gluten-free bread I’ve ever had (seriously).

I love sourdough and rye breads and had missed them since going gluten-free. My remedy was to add some caraway into my bread and I absolutely love it. If you don’t like caraway, go ahead and leave it out – your bread will still turn out well.

I originally made the Brioche Sandwich Bread recipe posted over at Better Batter, but it left much to be desired, so I decided to experiment. My goal in creating this recipe was to use fewer eggs and to have it taste amazing so that I could have a budget friendly bread in my kitchen (let’s face it, Udi’s is expensive!).

Basic White Sandwich Bread (Gluten-Free)

2 ½ tsp yeast

1 cup warm water

1 tbsp caraway seed (optional)

1 ½ tsp apple cider vinegar

1 ½ tsp sugar

1 ½ tsp salt

5 eggs

2 ¾ cups flour ( Better Batter GF flour)

½ cup unsalted butter - softened (for dairy-free, use a substitute)

  1. Preheat oven to 170° - 200° (my oven only goes as low as 200!).
  2. Stir the yeast and warm water together (in a kitchen aid mixer if you have one) and let it sit for a few minutes.
  3. Grease a 9x5x3 inch loaf pan or get out a 13x4x4 quick release pan (no greasing required)
  4. Add the caraway, vinegar, sugar, salt, eggs and flour to the yeast water in the mixer and beat until smooth.
  5. Add shortening, one tablespoon at a time, with the mixer on low.
  6. Beat on medium speed for 4-5 minutes after the last tablespoon of shortening has been added.
  7. Spoon the batter into the pan and smooth it out (this isn’t your normal looking bread dough, it’s very wet and sticky)
  8. Put the pan in the oven to rise for 1 hour.
  9. When the timer goes off, bring the temp up to 375° and set the timer for 45 minutes.
  10. When done, turn out onto a rack to cool completely before slicing.
  11. Store in a bag in the refrigerator or freeze for later use.

Notes about this recipe:

*The bread takes a long time to rise. It just plain won’t rise for me on the counter. If after an hour in the oven at 170°, it still doesn’t look as big as you think it should be…have no fear, it will rise more when you bring the oven up to baking temperature.

*If you use a USA Pans pan with a lid – DO NOT use the lid for this recipe. Your bread will cave in all over the place if you do and you will be sad to have wasted your ingredients on it (I did this quite a few times as I tried over and over to perfect the recipe with the lid on – it just doesn’t work). Leave the lid off, you won’t be sorry.

*You can use ½ cup shortening (I've tried, coconut oil and other non-dairy butter substitutes - they all worked) or ¼ cup shortening with ¼ cup butter or ½ cup butter. Any combo of shortening seems to work for this recipe, so if you have a preference for one thing over the other, try it – it should work just as well.

*Better Batter Gluten-Free flour has xanthan gum in it. This recipe may be compatible with other gluten-free flours, however, you will need to add some xanthan gum if your mix does not contain it (you may have to experiment to find the right measurement).

If you try this recipe out, I’d love to have your feedback (the good and bad). Please come back and let me know how it worked for you.

Enjoy!

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This post is linked up to a weekly blog hop here:   Laura's Gluten Free Pantry

My Favorite: Blender

It took quite a bit of convincing, and at that point, I'm not sure my husband was actually convinced. But in the end, we headed home from Costco with a Vitamix in the trunk of the car.

Oh. My.

I'm in love!

It came with an amazing recipe book and I've been putting it through the paces.

I made mango bread - which sounded weird, but I had a huge box of ripe mangos so I thought, why not? Well, I used Better Batter flour and the recipe was so simple. The bread was incredible!

We've been having smoothies almost every single day. It's so fast and easy - and delicious!

I even made almond milk this morning. So easy - why have I been spending so much money on prepackaged almond and coconut milk when I could have been making them at home?! I'm actually looking forward to grinding my own almond and rice flours. How weird is that?

The possibilities are endless.

The machine is awesome and has totally simplified my life (strange, but true).

One of the reasons I never use my regular blender (which will now be posted on craigslist) is because it's such a pain to clean. Well, all you do to clean the Vitamix is put 2 cups of water in, 1 drop of liquid dish soap, put the lid on, turn it on and run for about 30 seconds. Rinse and you're done!

So easy.

Just a tip - if you have a Costco near you - check their schedule for a roadshow...the machine is about $100 less if you buy it through the roadshow!

Okay, enough infomercial... I last posted about a new bread recipe that I was going to be posting soon..............and I still haven't posted it. What's the deal with that??

Here's the truth of the matter. I have made my new bread recipe about 4 times now and each time, I've tinkered with it. I haven't found the perfect balance and am finding that the bread is getting crumbly after a few days in the refrigerator.

The first time I made it, it was perfect...but then I started jumbling it up. So on my next go round, I'm going to make it the original way I wrote it - and if it's good, I'll post it. No more tinkering.

I will tell you that making bread every week is proving to be AWESOME. We are saving so much money and the bread is SO easy to make. Who knew gluten-free bread baking could be so easy?

New bread recipe in the works

Just a quick note to say...I made some amazing Gluten-Free bread today - and I made my own recipe (I even wrote it down)! A few more taste tests and if others love it as much as I do, I will be posting the recipe real soon.

 

My goal was to make a lighter and fluffier loaf than the Better Batter Brioche sandwich bread I've been making lately. I also wanted to reduce the cost of my weekly loaf and still keep it super simple to make.

I used some caraway in it and it's totally satisfying my craving for sourdough bread. I'm planning on making it without the caraway tomorrow to make sure it's good plain - I have no doubt it will be. Now if only I could figure out how to get my loaves to quit collapsing in my bread pan when it's cooling (it only collapses when I use the new pan)...  Who knew a brand new high-end 'made in the USA' bread pan could be so hard to figure out??

Quick Tips: Going Gluten-Free

I know that going Gluten-Free can be quite a hard task when you've just been given news about your gluten intolerance.  It's easy to feel lost when you have to reinvent your dietary lifestyle. I hope these quick tips will help as you seek to change your diet.

 

1. Remove all gluten containing products from your house. It's just easier to make the switch by removing the temptation surrounding you. Use this list to help you sort through your pantry. I have more tips hiding in a post here.

2. Shop at Trader Joe's, PCC, Whole Foods or another natural food store - they are bound to have more GF products than a normal grocery store and the prices will be more competitive. Trader Joe's has a wonderful list of all the products they carry that are gluten-free - other stores might have something similar, just ask. This list is SO helpful in figuring out what you can and can't eat. My gluten-free shopping trip stress level went down 10 fold when I discovered their helpful list.

3. Pack a snack. Where ever you go, take a GF snack with you. Here are some Gluten-Free Snack Ideas: KIND PLUS, Cranberry Almond + Antioxidants, thinkThin Protein Bar, Chunky Peanut Butter, Crunchmaster Multi-Grain Crackers

4. Don't trust the waiters at restaurants - do your research before dining out. Google is your friend, use it! Here's a great article about eating out Gluten-Free.

5. Sign up for a Gluten-Free meal planning service: www.gfreecuisine.com or eMeals. Both of these services saved my life. I had no idea how to cook Gluten-Free before I subscribed. I'm not kidding. GF budget meal planning websites with built-in shopping lists have saved me so much stress over the last year. I make amazing meals for my family every night and it's all gluten-free and simple to make (even for someone new to cooking)!

6. Shop the perimeter of the grocery store. Fruit, vegetables and meat are your new best friends! There are more and more gluten-free products popping up these days, and I'll post a list of my favorites soon...but for now, learn to love the foods on the perimeter of the grocery store.

 

Do you have any good tips to share about going gluten-free? Please comment and let me know what worked for you, I'd love to hear from you! :)

Simple Guacamole (Gluten-Free/Dairy-Free)

Have you ever tried Roasted Plantain Chips? They are delicious and a great source of potassium and dietary fiber. I stock up on plantain chips when I go to Trader Joe's - It's $1.69 for a 6oz bag and there are (supposedly) 6 servings in a bag. My husband and kids LOVE them (as do I).

I like to spice them up with some guacamole - why not get potassium, fiber, vitamins B, E, and K, all in one snack? I don't make super fancy guacamole, but what I do make is sure satisfying and doesn't require anything not usually stocked in my kitchen! My youngest daughter absolutely refuses to eat avocado served any other way - she LOVES my guacamole (shhh, don't tell her it's avocado she's eating!).

Simply Delicious Guacamole:

1 avocado

1/2 lemon

salt & pepper to taste

cayenne pepper

1-2 garlic cloves minced

Halve and peel your avocado, place in a bowl. Squeeze half a lemon onto your avocado, grind some salt and pepper on, throw a pinch of cayenne pepper in to suit your spicy craving, drop the garlic in, and mash it all together.

Enjoy!

Brioche Sandwich Bread (Gluten-Free)

I know I said I'd be posting more frequently in the new year...but so far that hasn't panned out as I just haven't had the energy. I've felt pretty miserable since late November and am still not sure what the issue is (constant nausea & no energy among other things). I'm going in to have more blood work done next week.

Anywho, I did want to share that I've switched from buying Udi's Gluten-Free bread to baking my Gluten-Free bread at home.

I calculated out how much my weekly loaf is costing to bake at home, and I am happy to report that it came in at just about $2.16 (I had to guesstimate on some of the prices of ingredients and this was assuming I was buying some ingredients in bulk). I buy organic free range eggs, so the price would be quite a bit less if I didn't (not that I'm switching back). We had been spending a little more than $10/week on 2 loaves of Udi's GF bread (ouch). Now we're getting away with one loaf each week (because it's a big loaf) and we are happy to be saving money this way! This recipe is so simple.

Brioche Sandwich Bread (from Better Batter)

This bread is wonderfully soft, and it keeps longer than the typical gf bread, because of the generous amount of lecithin supplied by 6 eggs. This is a real bonus for those of us who don’t like to bake as often. It also makes utterly divine French toast.

Don’t be intimidated or put off by the amount of salt called for in the recipe. This bread isn’t salty at all, but the salt helps the texture and keeping quality of the bread immensely.

1 package active dry yeast (2 & 1/4 teaspoons)

1 cup warm water (not too hot or you'll kill your yeast - use water that feels neutral to your finger - your body is 98.6, so this is a great way to measure your water temp)

1 1/2 tsp vinegar

2 1/2c Better Batter Gluten Free Flour (order in bulk directly from

Better Batter

for extra savings!)

1 1/2 tsp sugar

1 1/2 tsp honey

1 1/2 tsp salt

6 whole eggs

8 Tbsp shortening

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 175. Grease a 9×5x3 inch loaf pan.

Stir the yeast into the warm water and let sit for a few minutes. Put the yeast water, vinegar, flour, sugar, honey, salt, and eggs into your electric mixer and beat until very smooth.

Add the shortening, one tablespoon at a time, beating for an additional 3 minutes after the last tablespoon of shortening has been added.

Spoon into your pans and let rise in the oven for 1 hour.

Increase the heat to 375 and bake for 45 minutes. Turn out onto a rack to cool completely before slicing.

Wrap tightly and freeze, if desired.

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I tried varying the recipe using both butter and coconut oil in place of shortening. Both variations baked just fine, but the coconut oil caused the crust to burn quickly when toasted (and that didn't taste so great). I used salted butter in the butter version...which I probably shouldn't have. The end result tasted really buttery (great for toast, but not so great for some sandwiches). We have opted to keep the recipe as is for our sandwich making needs. Overall, I'm really satisfied with this recipe - and enjoying the savings seen in our weekly grocery shopping!

Have you ever baked Gluten-Free bread?

How To...Transform Your Pantry

Going Gluten-Free (GF) was a difficult task in the beginning. I had NO idea where to start and I felt totally overwhelmed at times. I already had an aversion to the idea of cooking, so I was sure this whole GF thing was not going to help.

Having been there, and done that, I can now provide you some tips which may help you if you are going through the GF transition.

I hope these tips help your switch to Gluten-Free a little less painful.

  • Pull all the gluten filled items out of your pantry. Glance at the labels. If it says: wheat, malt, barley, or  flour - set it aside. For a more comprehensive list of what should be avoided, visit this list at celiac.com. Put all of the gluten containing items in boxes or bags. If you have some people in your house who are not committed to going GF, have them pick out their favorite items and then clear a shelf in the pantry just for the gluten items they can't part with (and make sure the GF person in your house stays away from this shelf!). Give the rest of the food to friends and family (or donate it to a local food bank). Do the same in your refrigerator and freezer.  My husband and oldest daughter are not strictly GF, so I made a shelf in the pantry/fridge and freezer so they could work on consuming those foods.



  •  Always check the labels of your food before using. As you will see in the list of unsafe foods over at celiac.com, there are tons of ingredients to avoid (might want to print that list and keep it on your fridge until you are confident in your GF lifestyle). The initial pantry/fridge/freezer clean-out should allow you to find the biggest offenders, but no doubt you will find something later on that contains an unsafe ingredient - so always check labels - on everything!



  • Transform your whole kitchen. Don't buy any more gluten filled items - it's too hard to have around. If you are eliminating gluten for only one person in a house of 4, it will be frustrating for that person to have adjust to eating GF with all of the wonderful gluten filled treats around. Make GF a lifestyle change for the house, not just a pantry change for the effected - it will be an easier transition on everyone.



  • Find ways to save money on GF food. Shop in bulk size at Amazon's Gluten-Free Store. Use the Subscribe and Save option (a recurring order which you can set at different monthly intervals). This often times will allow you to save up to 30%. We order cereal, crackers, pancake mix and snacks using the subscribe and save option. The greatest part about subscribe and save is that you can cancel your recurring order if you don't want it again. You get free shipping too, so why not try it?



  • When dining out - DON'T BE AFRAID TO ASK how food has been prepared and make sure to mention your gluten intolerance! Many restaurants are now catering to the GF lifestyle, but that doesn't mean they really know what they're doing (not all corn tortillas are wheat-free for example - you need to clarify). Servers also don't always know what 'Gluten-Free' means. If this is the case, order a salad and make sure there are no croutons! It's important to your health - don't be ashamed to ask how food has been prepared. You know the consequences, so don't be afraid to ask.



  •  If you are going a dinner event and you don't want to mention your food restrictions, or it's a preset menu, eat a little something before you go. I made the mistake of not eating prior to going to a church event a few weeks back...and I should have known the menu would be spaghetti and bread! Bonus tip: Always carry some GF snacks in your bag - Lara bars are a great thing to have on hand!



  • Menu planning - do it (at least for a little while). I was absolutely lost in my kitchen until I found eMeals and  gfreecuisine.com. eMeals is a meal planning website with a Gluten-Free option. gFreeCuisine is a meal planning website specifically for Gluten-Free. A weekly menu using their recipes is less than $100/week in groceries. You can set the number of servings you want to make and the recipes adjust automatically! I make my meals for 4 people and I always have leftovers for a couple lunches the next day. It's perfect. The recipes are all delicious and the ingredients used are always planned based on what's in season. Did I mention the handy shopping list these sites generate for you based on what meals you selected for the week?? I pick out and print my weekly menu plan each week and the shopping list provided makes it so easy to quickly get what I need to make everything. gFreeCuisine also provides easy snack ideas, drink suggestions, bread recipes, and my favorite - monthly freezer meals, all on the website! I LOVE having a gluten-free meal planning helper. It's well worth the price of the subscription. The meals are all pretty easy to make - GF meal planning websites are my favorite kitchen tool!


And there you have it.

Are you gluten-free? What was the hardest part of going GF for you?

What's wrong with me?

I've been feeling horrible. My body is tired. I have the shakes during the day. I'm nauseous at night (no, I'm not preggers). My temper is short. My hormones have been all out of whack (I almost totally broke down crying in church today). I'm kind of a hot mess.

We're trying to figure it out.

My doctor has two ideas at present, either my mono (which I had when I was 18 or so) has kicked back up, or my adrenal glands are out of whack for who knows what reason. I'm thinking it's my adrenals, but once I mentioned the mono thing to my husband, he claimed that it must be mono because he's been feeling so horrible for so long too (so tired and always feels like he's getting a cold).

This has been going on since November. I've been trying to hide it in my day-to-day life, but why? I don't feel like myself.

We are tired. So very tired. My husband was so kind to come home a bit early one day last week - just so I could lay on the couch and rest. It makes me want to cry just thinking about how much I love that man and appreciate his support - even when he's not feeling well...

This pic of my man and my 1st born makes me smile like crazy...so I wanted to share it with you. I just love it.

But anyway. That's why it's been quiet here. I'm tired. I'm out of it. I don't have much energy for anything. I have a ton of draft posts, but no real content. My brain is mush. I'm tired (oh sorry, did I say that already?).

I'm taking a bunch of supplements in hopes of things improving, so please send a little prayer that it helps. 2 days in and I'm not feeling better (call me impatient...). Doctor's orders are to get more blood work done in 2 weeks if these supplements don't help. At this point, I just really want an answer - and to be filled with energy again.

I want to feel better! I'm tired of this!

There you have it. My feelings. My honesty...right here on the wide open internet. Hope I'm not complaining too much. I just really want to feel better.