Category Archives: gluten free

Homemade Sunflower Seed Butter – really affordable and SOY free!

sunbutter bread Manimal loves sunflower seed butter. If I put it in his oatmeal he giggles loudly with every bite, and he almost always steals his big brother’s sunbutter bread (He did this morning, and the day before that). Unfortunately, all the brands that are sold at the stores near my house are made on a shared line with soy, so they are a no-no. That leaves the Trader Joe’s brand, which is really good — except Trader Joe’s is 30 plus minutes from my house. A 30 minute drive to buy groceries when you don’t have small children is an annoyance.  A 30 minute drive when you have small children is like getting a root canal. My boys use up all their patience on the drive over and spend the next 45 minutes in the store making fools of themselves, while making the grocery store unpleasant for anyone in earshot (and Trader Joe’s is small, so that’s everybody). Whew.

With that said, I have not had a chance to make a trip out to Trader Joe’s in a while. But a few weeks ago, I realized I could probably easily make my own. So I did a quick Google search and found this recipe on the really cute blog, Life From the Roof. It was soooo easy to make, and it tastes as good as the main-stream brands.

I have always bought Dakota-Brand shelled sunflower seeds from Hy-Vee because they are affordable (around $3 for a 16 ounce bag) and they seem to have good allergy practices so their lines are soy, peanut and gluten free. This recipe took all of 5 minutes to make, and yielded about half a mason jar of sunbutter. Because the sunflower seeds I used were salted, I omitted the salt from this recipe.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups sunflower seeds
  • 1/2 tsp salt (or use sunflower seeds that are salted).
  • 1-2 Tbl sp honey (I used 1 Tbl spoon, but I would have used another had I not run out)
  • 2-4 Tbl spoon oil (I used canola but coconut or olive oil would probably work really well, too).

Directions:

sunbutter processorIn your food processor (I’m sure a blender would work OK, too), pulse your sunflower seeds until they are a grainy mass that looks almost like wet sand. Use a rubber spatula to scrape the sides (turn the process off to do this, of course). Put the processor’s lid back on and while processing the seeds again, add a tablespoon of oil. Use the same tablespoon to add your honey (this way the honey just slips off the measuring spoon without sticking or having to scrape it off. Add the remaining number of tablespoons to the processor, while intermittently taking breaks to scrape the sides. Process until desired smoothness and consistency.

sunbutter manimal

Manimal enjoys his homemade sunbutter sandwich while giving the camera his newest weird “smile for the camera” face.

Sunbutter mason jar

In My Pantry… what the bleep CAN your kid eat?!

The following is a list of Top-8 and Gluten Free foods that we keep at our house. Please be sure to always read the ingredients before feeding these foods to your child. Some of the foods listed below may have soy oil/lecithin in them.*

Bars:

  • glutino-gluten-free-breakfast-126176Glutino makes several “Nutragrain”- type beakfast bars that my boys love – a little too much. They will eat an entire box in one sitting if I let them, and they are kind of pricey; however, they are great if you are on the road and need an easy or quick breakfast.
  • Enjoy Life has several bars that are all Top-8 and Gluten Free. I love everything I have ever had from Enjoy Life – except for their bars. They are very heavy and dense. I hate saying that because I LOVE the products made by this company.
  • Peso BarsNature’s Path Enviro Kids has a few bars that are Top 8 and Gluten free. I think they are good, but Z hates them. When I bring home the ones with the penguin on the front, he screams, “Peso bars?! I hate Peso bars!” which is a reference to the Penguin in Octonauts). If it’s any consolation, Manimal thinks they rock. But, Manimal will eat anything. He ate a vintage Barbie shoe just this evening. No, in all seriousness, they taste like fruity rice crispy treats and aren’t that bad…

Bread:

  • All of Ener-G breads should be safe, but are like eating cardboard. If you can tolerate eggs, I would recommend Udi’s and Rudi’s Gluten-free breads.

Butter Replacement:

  • When baking, use spectrum shortening or coconut oil (you should be able to use it just as you would butter).
  • To flavor things like potatoes or popcorn, simply use canola oil and salt. It tastes VERY similar to butter. In fact, I am often so lazy, I don’t even waste time getting butter out of the fridge, I just use canola oil – I don’t have to wait for it to melt.

Candy

There are several Top-8 free candy’s on the market (the below list is not comprehensive. Feel free to add any that you may know of in the comments below). Unfortunately, most of them are chocked full of food colorings (namely red food dye).

  • Peeps (most of them are top-8 and GF)
  • Smarties products, including candy necklaces
  • Star burst Original Fruit chews
  • Starburst jelly beans, GummiBurst
  • Mike and Ikes
  • Hot Tomales
  • Swedish fish – Red, Assorted and Aqua life
  • Life Savers hard and soft candies
  • Sweet tarts
  • Heide Gummi Bears and several other Hiede products
  • Jolly Ranchers
  • Dum Dums Spangler Candy Co. said the following about Dum Dum Lolli pops: There is a trace amount of soy oil in the lubricant that we use in our cooking kettles. This soy oil has been refined, bleached, and deodorized and all of the proteins have been removed.

Cereal:

  • Chex (all the GF versions of Chex are safe for my kids). The Hy-Vee and ALDI knock-offs are also safe, but the Walmart brand “may contain gluten” so avoid it.
  • Kix Cereal. My kids go crazy when they eat the Berry ones because of the food coloring.
  • Trix Cereal: We use caution with this cereal. This is the most tantrum-triggering food I have found for my boys (other than gluten). On the rare occation we buy this ceareal, it is only as a small treat right before bed.
  • Cereal Gorilla munchNatures Path Enviro Kids Cereals – Many cereals of this brand are gluten and top-8 free, and my kids really like them. Unfortunately, they are sort of pricey, so we only buy them when they are on sale.

 

Chips/Crunchy Snacks:

  • Freetos (we also buy the ALDI brand for $.99 per bag, but they have soy lecithin. Soy lecithin doesn’t seem to bother my boys anymore). I believe the flavored Freetos are not Top-8 free, so read the ingredients!
  • Corn Tortilla Chips: Most corn chips are safe, but always read the ingredients. Sometimes they squeeze things like soy or oats in them. In fact, some of ALDI’s corn chips say “naturally gluten free” but have oats in them. I doubt these chips are made with specially-grown oats, so I have never given them to my boys.
  • Pretzels: Glutino and Snyders of Hanover (both contain soy oil/lecithin). Glutino’s pretzels glutinoare the best hard pretzels in my opinion, even over gluten ones, which makes sense since they are around $8 a bag!!! Energ-G makes some as well, but these are for highly allergic people and thus have very little flavor.
  • Popcorn: unfortunately, I don’t know of any microwave popcorn that is dairy-free. When my boys want popcorn I make it on the stove top (an air popper would work too) in canola or corn oil. Instead of using butter, drizzle canola over it before salting. I can barely taste a difference between that and buttered popcorn. Sooo good.
  • Kettle corn – several bagged kettle corns are safe. Orville Redenbacher makes a really good one that my kids plow through.Kettle corn
  • Potato Chips – Most potato chips should be safe; however, beware of Pringles, which has gluten. Original Stax are safe for my kids but contain soy oil.

Convenience Main dishes:

  • Hot Dogs – many hot dog brands are gluten and top-8 free. Oscar Meyer even makes ones that are nitrate free, so if you or little ones can’t have nitrates, these are a great solution.
  • Ian’s chicken nuggets – These are really tasty!ians chick nug
  • Mission corn tortillas and tostadas are also top-8 and Gluten Free. We also buy the ALDI tostadas, but they have soy oil/lecithin.

Cookies:

  • We trust anything by Enjoy Life. My favorite are the crispy cookies, but the hubs prefers the soft-baked cookies. They are all pretty good (except their bars – avoid their bars).
  • Hodgson Mills has a great mix, but other companies make them too. See my recipes for egg and butter replacers.

Egg Replacer:

  • Make your own egg replacer by mixing a tablespoon of ground/milled flax seed and 2 table spoons of water (stir them together and let them sit for several minutes until they are goopy like an egg-Do you like my scientific lingo?).
  • Ener-G makes an egg -replacer you can buy at any health food store.

Frozen Treats

  • Most popsicles are gluten and top-8 free – yay!
    Sorbet is a great replacement for ice cream. Don’t confuse it with Sherbet, which has dairy.
  • Coconut Ice Cream – I’ve never tried it, but I hear it really good.

Fruit Snacks:

  • Many fruit snacks and candies made by Betty Crocker (a General Mills company) are gluten and top-8 free, and are safe for my boys; however, they go nutso when they eat certain food colorings (i.e. they have trouble falling asleep and they throw lots-o-tantrums).
  • fruit snacksLunch Buddies All Natural Assorted Fruit Snacks (ALDI)– These are soooo good, and they are made with fruit juices and natural vegetable dyes (like red cabbage), so you are not dealing with crazy children when the food coloring hits their systems. I think they taste better because they don’t taste artificial like other fruit snacks. We buy these by the truckload!

 

Milk

  • Rice Dream – I have not found any other rice milk brands out there that are soy free. I am sure some exist, so if you know of any, please feel free to post comments! The people who run Rice Dream are great, and if you write them telling them how much you appreciate their product they will send you kick-butt coupons to use on their products.
  • Almond milk – I know almonds are a top-8 allergen, but if you can tolerate tree nuts, almond milk is better tasting in my opinion than rice milk, and it tastes more like cows milk. It also makes me feel more full than cows milk or rice milk. I often find it cheaper than Rice Dream if I use coupons or buy it at ALDI. Unlike rice milk, every almond milk I have found is free of soy and other top allergens. But please, always read the label!

Pancakes/Waffles:

  • Be sure to check out my egg replacer/butter replacers when making mixes!
  • Hodson Mills makes a really good pancake mix I buy at Walmart for about $3.50 a box
  • Bob’s Red Mill has a good pancake mix; although it’s good, I still perfer the flavor and texture of the Hodson Mills mix better.

Peanut Butter Replacement:

Sunflower Seed Butter is the BEST replacement for peanut butter around. It is very similar in flavor and texture to peanut butter. In fact, when it’s in a “PB&J,” I forget I am not eating peanut butter.

  • Trader Joe’s Sunflower Seed butter is soy-free and costs around $5.
  • Sunbutter makes some, but it has soy oil in it. You can find it at Target (and probably Walmart) for around $6.50).

*some of these foods may have soy lecithin/oil, so always read the ingredients! Usually, soy oil/lecithin is refined and the proteins are removed. Because of this, it is usually not an issue for those who are intolerant/allergic to soy. However, my boys could not handle any soy oil until they were about a year and a half or older.

Left-Over-Chicken Black Bean Soup

black bean soupThe Hubs hates “chicken on the bone,” as we call it at our house. Hates it. His dad doesn’t like it, so he never really had it growing up. Unfortunately, it is much cheaper than buying boneless chicken breasts, so with our ever-tightening budget, I figured out that if I make a bunch of chicken on the bone, he will eat it in other things (once it’s been de-boned, of course!).

I made this soup the other night and it will definitely be one I make again and again. It was fast, easy and delicious. I was actually excited to eat the leftovers the next day for lunch (and that’s saying a lot because I detest leftovers).

Black bean soup chickenIngredients (Please keep in mind I didn’t measure anything, I just eye-balled it):

  • 8 oz shredded, cooked chicken
  • 1 onion
  • 3 stalks celery
  • 1/2 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 Tbl sp cilantro
  • 2 cans prepared black beans (I used the Aldi, “Dakota Brand”)
  • 1 can Mexican Tomatoes (i.e. Rot-Tel — I actually used the Hy-Vee generic brand)
  • 1 box chicken broth (I used the Aldi GF Broth)
  • the juice from 1/2 lime
  • 1 Tbl sp olive oil
  • 1 tsp crushed red  pepper
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • salt and pepper to taste

Black bean soup saute veggiesPreparations:

Saute chopped celery, onion and crushed red pepper in olive oil until caramelized. Add the remaining ingredients and let simmer until soup is hot and to your desired thickness. Serve with Fritos Corn Chips sprinkled on top for a nice added crunch.black bean soup with Fritos

For Z, Dairy’s a No-Go, but I can eat Wheat…

This was taken on Lil Z's second birthday. It was the first time he tried ice cream. He developed a hatred for ice cream for quite a while after this, so I bet it hurt his tummy.

This was taken on Lil Z’s second birthday. It was the first time he had tried ice cream. He developed a hatred for ice cream for quite a while after this, so I bet it hurt his tummy.

Last week I told you I was going to be tested for celiac disease because many endocrinologists now believe there is often a link between Thyroid diseases (I have Hashimoto’s Disease) and Celiac Disease. The good news is, it appears I don’t have celiac disease. I tested very low on the Celiac Panel (5 on a scale of 20). Excelsior!

For the bad news, it appears Lil Z has not outgrown his dairy intolerance like I had previously thought. Since taking him off dairy, he has been having more solid stools (as opposed to no solid stools!) and he told me his stomach doesn’t hurt anymore (he also asked in a very sad voice if that meant, he was “not allowed to have Cheetos anymore,” which made me feel terrible because Cheetos are his favorite food.

With that said, I feel like I need to keep Z and Manimal off dairy for another couple of week because they both suffered from some wicked viruses that caused gallons of vomit-poo to be expunged in the last week. Until they have been virus-free for several days, I cannot say with full confidence that they should avoid dairy. I’ll keep you updated!

Roasted Carrots – Another great, easy Top 8 Free side dish

roasted carrots 2The other day I made Crash Hot Potatoes and pork steak. But when I grabbed for a bag of frozen vegetables from the freezer, I realized we were totally out. I had gone to the grocery store that day and had stocked up on regular, long carrots because The Hubs (a weirdo in my opinion) prefers them to the easy, sweeter-tasting baby carrots. I immediately Googled roasted-carrot recipes and I came across Ina Garten’s recipe on the Food Network Web site. I didn’t follow her directions exactly (I rarely do!), but they turned out well, just the same.

Ingredients

  • carrots
  • oil (Ina calls for olive; I did canola because I really don’t like the flavor of olive oil)
  • salt to taste
  • pepper to taste
  • parsley to taste (Ina also suggests dill – I just used only roasted carrots parsley)

Peel carrots and coat them in oil. Place them on a cookie sheet and sprinkle them with salt, pepper and parsley. Bake them in a 400 degree oven for 20 minutes, or until tender and brown.

Crash Hot Potatoes – the perfect top 8 free side dish

crash hot potatoes and roasted carrotsI’ve been in love with Crash Hot Potatoes for about five years now. They are amazing, and VERY easy to make. Everyone at our house LOVES to eat them, including Lil Z, who is the pickiest-of-picky eaters. Lil Z calls them, “Those tasty crunchy potatoes.”

The Pioneer Woman (a.k.a Ree Drummond, who now apparently has her own cookbook and show on HGTV) blogged on these several years ago and she has made these potatoes pretty famous. Anyway, they are sooooo good. If you have never made them, you really need to make them. Like today. Get on it. Now.

I made them with less oil than is called for, and they are good, but not nearly as delectable as the original recipe. So, if you are not trying to watch your waistline, make them the way the Pioneer Woman suggests because they are so crunchy and good, and they achieve one of her favorite cooking principles: creating “Flavorful, Crispy Surface Area.”

Ingredients

  • several potatoes (The Pioneer Woman calls for small red potatoes, but I just use regular old russet potatoes and they still taste good)
  • 3 tablespoons oil (I use canola, but the original calls for olive)
  • salt to taste (the original calls for kosher salt)
  • Black pepper to taste
  • Herbs of choice (I used parsley, but the original calls for rosemary)

Boil your potatoes in a pot of salted water until they are fork tender.

Drizzle oil on a cookie sheet and place fork-tender potatoes with lots of room between each potato.

With a potato masher, smash the potatoes flat and generously drizzle and brush oil over each potato again. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and herbs to taste.

Bake in a 450 degree preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes until golden brown

Manimal gets his eat on as he enjoys crash hot potatoes, roasted carrots and pork steak.

Manimal gets his eat on as he enjoys crash hot potatoes, roasted carrots and pork steak.

Sunbutter Crisps – Hodgson Mills Gluten Free Cookie Mix

Hodgson Mills Cookies 2The other day I was excited to discover Hodgson Mill Gluten Free Cookie Mix, 12-Ounce (Pack of 6) at Walmart. It was a pretty good price – under $3 a box, which is pretty cheap for gluten-free anything.

I brought it home, thinking I would prepare it without eggs and butter, so it would be totally Top 8 free; however, while I was at work that night, The Hubs apparently decided to be father of the year and bake the boys cookies. Well, he made them with Sunbutter and canola oil Hodson Mills Cookies(which is what I would have done) but he also used eggs… sigh. Oh well. The next time I get this mix, which will be soon, I will make them with flax to see how they turn out.

These were amazing. AMAZING. I love crispy cookies, and these were just that – crunchy and crispy, and they didn’t taste gluten free at all. If you can’t have eggs, use an egg replacer, or make your own using a tablespoon of ground/milled flax seed and 2 table spoons of water (mix them together and let them sit for several minutes til they are goopy like an egg).

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 1/2 cup sunbutter (we use Trader Joe’s)
  • 1 large egg or egg replacer (see above)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 box HM GF Cookie Mix

blend the wet ingredients together and add them to the cookie mix. Stir until well blended. put rounded spoonfuls on a cookie sheet and bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 14-15 minutes, or until the cookies are golden brown and have crispy edges.

The ingredients in the box are: Brown Rice Flour, Sugar, Tapioca Starch, Amaranth Flour, Cornstarch, Baking Soda, Xanthan Gum, Flake Salt.