Category Archives: main dish

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.

Ham & Black Bean Lime Rice

cuban rice 2The Hubs made this dish last night in an effort to get rid of some of our leftover Easter Ham. At first he was calling it Cuban Sandwich Black Beans and Rice, but when we Googled recipes for Cuban Sandwiches, we realized the only ingredients that were similar were ham… so, he renamed it. I realize that this isn’t lime rice, but lime black beans, but well, “black bean lime rice” rolls off the tongue a little better!

Ingredients

  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 5 oz chopped cooked ham
  • 1 can prepared black beans (16 oz)
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 T cilantro
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 T lime juice
  • 1/2 T oil (we used canola)

Sweat the garlic and onions in the oil on medium heat. Add the chopped ham, cilantro and cumin and cook at medium heat ’til it is warmed. Add the beans and cook on medium heat until fully heated. Mix the sugar and lime juice together and add at the end. Pour over prepared rice and enjoy!

 

Deconstructed Stuffed Peppers – Gluten and Top 8 Free

deconstructed bell pepperThis is a recipe The Hubs created and makes frequently at our house. I love it because it is just as delicious as the original, but you are not stuck with a big bell pepper you have to “power through” at the end.  He loves it because it is faster than the original, and is half the work.

It is gluten and top-8 free; please note that if you want this to be corn free, you must choose a tomato sauce without citric acid. If it is slightly tart at the end, add a tablespoon (or two) of sugar to take the edge off.

 Ingredients:

  • 1 lb hamburger
  • 1 green bell pepper chopped
  • ½ onion diced
  • 1 clove garlic – minced
  • 1 can tomato sauce (16 oz)
  • ½ cup water
  • 2 cups rice, prepared
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • sugar to taste

Brown the hamburger and onions in a heavy skillet over medium-high heat. In a separate pot, boil the bell pepper for 20 minutes, drain and shock with cold water. Add the bell peppers and the remaining ingredients to the hamburger and heat in the skillet (about five minutes). Add sugar to taste.

Quick Cilantro-Lime Pork Tacos – Gluten and Top 8 free

quick pork tacosI recently bought several pounds of pork loin at Hy-Vee when it was on sale, and I have been trying to figure out interesting ways to prepare it (other than putting it in a crock pot, which is what I usually do because I’m lazy).

This was really tasty, but it turned out a little spicy for Manimal. The kid still ate it, so it must not have been that bad. Surprisingly, his favorite part of the meal wasn’t the meat, which he usually gobbles; it was the green peppers and onions — which he usually hates. So that is saying something!

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb pork loin, trimmed and cubed (mine was slightly frozen, so it was easy to do this)
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 tsp oil (I used canola)
  • 1/2 onion sliced large onion
  • 1 green bell pepper, seeded and sliced into “fajita” strips
  • 1 cup allergy-friendly broth (store-bought or make your own)
  • 1 Tbl sp dried cilantro (use fresh if you have it!)
  • 1 Tbl Sp Lime juice
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
  • taco shells/tortilla shells (I used Mission 6-inch corn tortillas)Green peppers

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Sprinkle pork with salt and pepper. Add oil to the pan and saute the pork for around 4 minutes until it is golden brown. Remove the pork from the pan and set aside. Saute the onions and bell peppers in the same pan for 1-2 minutes. Stir in the broth, cumin, crushed red pepper, lime juice and cilantro. Turn down the heat and let simmer ’til the broth cooks out (10 minutes or so).

Eat in a taco shell of your choice. The hubs and I ate ours in hard-shelled tacos (fewer calories), but Lil Z and Manimal had theirs in deep-fried corn tortillas. I know a lot of people (mid-westerners who don’t have a mom who grew up in Southern California) who don’t know the proper way to prepare a corn tortilla. If this is you, feel free to follow this link to find out how to fry a corn-tortilla taco so it tastes good!

Gluten-Free Oven Fried Chicken

This is easy recipe to make, and if you can believe it, is crunchier than when it is made with wheat flour. I can’t tell a difference between this version and the wheat version I used

to make.

Ingredients:

3-4 lbs cut up broiler-fryer chicken

½ to 1 cup of corn starch

¼ cup canola oil

salt and pepper to taste

spices (anything you like – paprika, oregano, etc)

Directions:

Heat oven to 425° and mix corn starch, salt, pepper and spices in a gallon plastic zipper bag. Rinse chicken well in cool water and pat dry with paper towels. Place chicken in plastic bag (one or two at a time) and shake well until they are thoroughly coated. Drizzle canola oil in the bottom of oven safe baking dish. Place coated chicken in baking dish and bake skin side down for 30 minutes. Turn chicken and bake another 30 minutes, or until juice is no longer pink in the center (when thickest pieces are cut).

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Crispy Chicken Under a Brick (or Cast Iron Skillet)

I tried this recipe by Tyler Florence tonight, and it was really fun to make and tasted delicious. I was skeptical that chicken on the bone would be able to fully cook in 30 minutes or less, but it did. And the skin was so crisp – it was amazing. The original recipe calls for toasted cumin seeds, which I don’t have. Instead, I simply used ½ teaspoon ground cumin. I was a little intimidated about making this dish, but it turned out to be much simpler and faster than I thought it would be. I will definitely make this dish again!!!

I had never heard of “brick chicken” until I saw Melissa D’Arabian from the Next Food Network Star make it in a challenge (she won the competition, BTW). Instead of using a brick, she recommended using a cast iron skillet. How simple! I just put a little olive oil on the bottom of my cast iron skillet before I placed it on my chicken.

Ingredients:
3 lbs chicken on bone
3/4 cup olive oil
2 oranges, juiced and zested
½ teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon curry powder
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon minced garlic
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
Salt and black pepper, to taste

Directions:
In gallon zipper bag, mix together 1/2-cup olive oil, orange juice and zest, cumin, curry, brown sugar, garlic and parsley. Marinate the chicken in the mixture for 1 hour, covered in the refrigerator.

Place an ovenproof skillet, preferably cast iron, over medium-high heat for about 3 minutes. Put the remaining 1/4-cup olive oil into the hot skillet and wait 1 minute for it to heat up.
Remove the chicken from the marinade, season all over with salt and pepper. Place the chicken halves in the skillet, skin side down. Wrap 2 bricks in aluminum foil (or us a cast iron skillet) and set them on top of the chicken. The weight will flatten the chicken resulting in a very crispy skin.

Cook on the stove top for 10 minutes, then transfer the weighted skillet to a preheated 450° oven. Roast for 15 to 20 minutes. Use a thin metal spatula to pry the chicken from the pan so not to tear the skin.

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Fantastic Herb Marinade

At our house, we have a tight grocery budget, so we don’t eat steak very often. When we do, it is usually the cheaper cuts, and they need a little “love” to make them taste really good.

This is a marinade that I used on last night’s charcoal steak and they tasted fantastic. Actually, fantastic doesn’t do it justice. It was fantastic to the 3rd power. When I grilled my steaks last night, I also tossed a couple of small pieces of firewood on top of the briquettes, which really gave the meat a smoky flavor.

Ingredients:
1½ to 2 lbs steak
the juice from a freshly squeezed lemon
½ tsp dried oregano
½ tsp salt
½ tsp dry mustard
½ tsp pepper
1 tsp minced garlic

Preparations:
Place steaks and all ingredients in a plastic gallon bag. Seal and shake and massage meat until all ingredients are mixed and cover the steaks equally. Place in fridge and marinate for several hours. Grill to your liking.

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