Have you been looking for a gluten-free, dairy free, nut free, and egg free graham cracker? Schar has you covered.
I don’t know about you, but after three weeks of making school lunches and snacks for two, I was about out of fresh ideas. Then I saw these new lovelies at my local Whole Foods and my mind raced with excitement~ grahams with sun butter, or peanut butter, or vegan cream cheese! Smores for a special treat! Taken as they are for a snack! And of course, covering them in (dairy free) chocolate because I don’t care how old you are nor how sophisticated your palate, everyone loves chocolate covered graham crackers.
Now I know people who professionally cover things in chocolate have a big routine with the melting and the hand mixing and spreading and all that, but really you can do these very simply and trust me, they taste divine. All I did was take apart a dark chocolate bar (Endangered Species brand)
then dipped the grahams (with the help of tongs) and let them cool down and solidify on wax paper:
I then tried melting and dipping with some Enjoy Lifevegan chocolate chips I happened to have in my cupboard and they turned out to have a more milk chocolate taste and were also slightly lighter in color as you can maybe see in the picture. They then went into the refrigerator for further solidifying and safe keeping. They would last a week in the fridge if my sons let them, but chances are they have three days at most.
These were so easy and such a rare treat I think this will be what I do for my kids’ birthday celebrations in their classrooms this year. Each child will get two along with a few strawberries, and I can guarantee not a one will miss the gluten, dairy, eggs, or nuts. So much better than cupcakes and if anyone doesn’t like chocolate (I’ve heard a rumor these people exist) then they can have some plain Schar grahams which are a tasty treat in their own right. Perfect!
For years I’ve been making these scones with slight variations, trying to find the best recipe. I think I’ve found it. They are not too sweet and therefore would be lovely with a cream cheese icing or a sugary glaze, plus that would make them a little prettier, because honestly, they are not that attractive. If you add xanthan gum I’m sure you can get a smoother finish, but it’s just not that important to me and I like the not-so-sweetness of them. As any gluten-free eater knows, it’s fairly easy to make sweet gluten-free items taste good, but it’s harder to find things that aren’t loaded with extra sugar. Of course, you can use all white sugar instead of the brown sugar that I use below, but the depth that the brown sugar adds is lovely and suits the pumpkin well. Here’s the recipe:
1 C vanilla coconut milk (or whatever milk you like)
1/2 C sunflower oil (or whatever oil you like)
Add the flax meal to the milk and set aside. Add the dry ingredients up through the salt together and mix. Blend the sugar and oil in a separate bowl, then add the pumpkin. Slowly add the dry ingredients and the flax/milk combo to the wet ingredients and blend until just mixed, adding more milk if need be. Refrigerate the mixture for 3-8 hours (or overnight), then bake at 360 for 30 minutes on baking pans lined with parchment paper.
I hate to add a picture because the really are much tastier than they look, but here goes~
Oy. I better make some more so I can get some good pics of these little beauts. My boys certainly won’t mind another batch and the house smells divine for hours after they bake so it’ll be more than worth it.
My friend gave me a zucchini the size of large 2 month old baby so I figured I’d switch my plan of making pumpkin scones to zucchini muffins. After looking for a recipe online that I could play with I realized there wasn’t much out there that had all our needs covered~ gluten, dairy, egg, and nut free, so the “playing’ part was pretty extensive. Anyone who believes that old adage “Baking is a science, cooking is an art” obviously never baked with food intolerances in mind. I can’t say it’s a perfect recipe as it was indeed my first go at it, but they didn’t crumble (and no xanthan gum!) and they taste pretty good. Plus we used that freaky zucchini so now my sons no longer have a prop pretending to be cave-men. It really did look like a primitive weapon. Here’s the recipe:
2 T flax meal + 5 T water (set aside at least 10 minutes)
2 C grated Zucchini
1/2 C apple sauce
1/4 C sunflower oil
1 t vanilla extract
1 C brown rice flour
3/4 C oat flour (make sure it’s gluten-free)
1/2 C millet flour
1/4 C tapioca flour
3/4 C brown sugar
2 t cinnamon (or more~ actually will do more next time, but it’s personal taste)
1 t nutmeg
1 t baking soda
Preheat oven to 350. Prep muffin pan with oil, spray oil, or liners. Add the grated zucchini, apple sauce, oil, vanilla extract, and flax that has soaked in water all together and mix well. In a separate bowl mix the dry ingredients together before blending the wet and dry together~ easily done with a spoon, no need to get your mixer dirty. Fill the muffin pan~ 12 regular sized muffins. Cook for 23-25 minutes.
These were good out of the pan but I did think a little more cinnamon would have made them better so I sprinkled some cinnamon sugar on top. I’m sure my boys won’t mind the extra sweetness although they’ll probably miss running through the kitchen yelling “Aaarrrgh” with the zucchini.
This is a conversation that keeps popping up lately, so I thought I’d share a couple of things we do for surviving the school year’s endless birthday celebrations, holiday parties, and the myriad of other reasons gluten, dairy, and sugar are consumed in the classroom on a weekly basis. There was one year where one of my son’s classmates had food allergies so severe that all celebrations were limited to a couple of specific food items~ Annie’s fruit bunnies was one and I don’t remember what else…maybe popsicles…? Anyway, that class did not suffer because there were no birthday cupcakes~ I promise. And when I went to that Valentine party with gift pencils, novelty erasers, sparkly stickers, silly tattoos, and sugar-free lollipops, then went to my other son’s party where mounds of candy were piled up on all the kids desks, along with heart cookies and sugary punch and absolutely no boundaries, it kind of made me sick. Anyway, each classroom has its culture and you just have to be prepared for the inevitable. School supply shopping includes something for the boys to have in their classroom cabinets at all times for those birthday celebrations and it goes with them to school on day 1 if not before. We usually choose Lucy’s cookies because the cookies are wrapped three to a package, there’s a little variety for the year, and they are free of all kinds of allergens, as you can see. Other friends I know have stored rice crispy treats at school because those too are individually wrapped so they can keep for months. As I mentioned above, Annie’s fruit snacks are also great if your child is a real gummy candy lover. I’d love to hear what some other favorites out there are…
On a different school snack note, I found something that my youngest has missed for years. He used to love Pirate’s booty and any cheesy puff thing like that. Earth Balance actually has a vegan cheese puff and apparently it’s a winner. One more thing my sons don’t have to miss~ Yay!
Aren’t these flowers just the prettiest? I got them at the Redmond Farmers Market last Saturday and they are still going strong in our front windows. These aren’t what I went to the Redmond Market intending to buy, but I couldn’t help myself, especially since they had such an inviting price ($5). The Redmond Market, located right next to the Redmond Town Center, is a Saturday tradition from May-October and the gluten-free options there are abundant. If you are hungry you can order a gluten-free crepe (made where the other crepes are so do be careful)at Anita’s crepes or enjoy a tamale just down the way at Hermosa Mexican Foods’ booth which is my son’s favorite thing about the market by far. Wildflour Gluten Free bakery has a booth there and when I get there early enough I buy two of their baguettes, but they sell out fast! Many of their items are dairy free but not all, and most have eggs in them, but all are gluten-free and there is a nice variety at her booth. It is delicious fun to buy a pint of fresh berries and sit down with a baguette and snack while watching some live music that rotates through there all summer. Another gluten-free bakery that has a booth there is Fancy Free bakery which touts a much longer list of ‘free-of’ ingredients~ no peanuts, eggs, dairy, etc, so pretty much anyone could find a treat there, and they will not be disappointed. I bought sourdough bread there and it is truly sour-ly awesome. I heard two other vendors discussing with near rapture the lemon bars they bought there but when I went to check them out myself I was too late…definitely getting to the market earlier next Saturday. There are of course plenty of produce farmers, jewelry makers, planted pots venders, much more there, but I personally adore the fact that there are so many gluten-free finds. I just wish it lasted all year-long, but I guess that just makes it all the more special. Now if only I could wake up and get going on Saturdays earlier to fully take advantage of it…Hm, maybe by August I’ll get that part down. At least I managed to get flowers last week. They are lovely.
Part of the reason I haven’t written much lately has to do with a trip to see my family in Louisville, KY, which turned out to be a very easy place to visit with multiple food intolerances in our crew. The other reason is the sheer craziness of summer with two high-energy boys~ it takes some time to adjust from school year days to summer days and honestly, I’m still adjusting. But, here’s what you will find in Louisville if you head that way (maybe in May…?) It is the Derby City after all.
Annie May’s Sweet Café is a gluten and nut free place that also has a large selection of vegan items. We went there for lunch and immediately regretted having not gone earlier in the trip. My son thought their vegan cream of broccoli soup was ‘epic’ and three of us got sandwiches we very much enjoyed and I was the only one of the three who is even gluten intolerant. The desserts we ate were delicious~ mostly cookies with cream in the middle, some vegan and some not depending on the person. My sons and I had the vegan kind which were dipped in chocolate too and probably the most decadent thing I’ve had in years. I don’t know what the vegan cream was in the middle but it definitely tasted like the real thing and I did not ask because if I knew how to make those things I might never leave my kitchen again.
Just down the road is Bluegrass Burgers which advertises on its sign outside, “Gluten free buns and beers” but it isn’t just buns and beers actually because I asked about the veggie patty and the black bean patty (they have both!) and those were also gluten-free and vegan. They were nice and patient about my questions, something that can be hard to find at restaurants where the going trend is to hate on people with food intolerances. They were extremely friendly and their food was great but there is one warning, their fries are way too good. Seriously, if you don’t want to eat a ton of them, just say no because once you start it’s all over~ they are seasoned to perfection and more addictive than chocolate covered cashews. Highly recommend this place. (And chocolate covered cashews for that matter.)
And of course there’s pizza. There are several places that have gluten-free options, but we chose Blaze Pizza because they have vegan cheese, all the pizza pies are individual size, and they cook them quickly in a wood fire so there (theoretically) isn’t much wait time. I was impressed that when I ordered the gluten-free crusts and vegan cheeses that they asked me if they needed to change gloves when handling those pizzas. They knew what they were doing when it came to allergies and I felt quite safe feeding their food to my kids and eating it myself. We liked the taste but it kind of reminded me of Chuck E. Cheese pizza, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, something about it was just similar…the thinner crust, snappier cheese, slightly sweet tomato sauce. But if that isn’t to your taste, there are plenty of other pizza places that have gluten-free crust options, such as Mellow Mushroom,Impellizzeris, Puccini’s, Uncle Maddio’s, and Cottage Inn Pizza, so basically wherever you are in Louisville you are never far from gluten-free crust.
Something else you are never far from in Louisville are natural foods stores, so in a pinch you can always find allergy free food at Whole Foods, Lucky’s Market, or shop local and visit Rainbow Blossom at one of their five locations.
A surprising amount of allergy-friendly food can be found at the most unusual place of all, and I say that mostly because the town’s name is Santa Claus but also because the amusement park there, Holiday World, is, well, an amusement park (and water park) which generally aren’t hubs of allergy free dining.
This place is about 70 miles from Louisville and well worth the trip if you are traveling with kids or just like rides, water parks, and Christmas music in July. Just check out this list of allergy-free foods that you can get there and you’ll be adding Santa Claus, Indiana to your must-do list. The only thing I caution is to have the list handy with you before you go in to order because the people behind the counter weren’t always up-to-date on the offerings. There seemed to be one person in charge who handled the allergic folks and the rest of them waved her down to deal with us. That was fine with me, as long as there was one person dedicated to keeping us safe I was thoroughly impressed. We also had to wait extra time for the allergy free food so another caution is to go before your four-year old is in low-sugar-sunburnt-over-tired-and-hungry-tantrum-mode, but really it wasn’t too long of a wait, 15 minutes maybe. Of course 15 minutes with a hungry child is a lot longer than 15 minutes with just yourself to worry about, so you’ve been forewarned. But both my sons said the place was better than Disney Land, so check it out.
I’m sure there are plenty of other restaurants that accommodate gluten intolerant people but I just want to highlight one more because their menu is very clear with calling out gluten-free items, along with vegan, vegetarian, pescatarian, and whatever other kind of ~ian you want to call yourself, they’ve heard it all before. Ramsi’s Café will fill your worldly cravings when you’ve tried all the gluten-free pizza (impossible!) and eaten all the burgers on gluten-free buns that you can handle. Kids are welcome but if you are going to leave them behind for an evening out with your significant other, this is the place to go. When you are finished with dinner be sure to walk up and down Bardstown Road for some fun shopping and people watching, or grab a movie at the nearby Baxter Avenue Theaters. Enjoy!
Schar just shared this infographic on their Facebook page. If you don’t already follow them, I heartily recommend doing so if you like nice visuals along with your gluten-free tidbits. And if you are planning a visit to Italy, this is definitely a company to know because as I understand it, they have played a major role in making the land of pasta a safe place for Celiacs and the like. As far as the picture below goes, I can check off more than half those symptoms myself~ how about you?
The other day I had the rare opportunity to wake up in downtown Seattle and look around for a breakfast place. It happened to be mother’s day so it was busier than usual, but we found a place to sit and eat some breakfast foods, which honestly were nothing special. I didn’t mind the mediocre hash browns though because I had a mission for the day to find this gluten-free bakery near Pike Place Market that I had read about called Coffee & Specialty Bakery. It is a tiny little hole in the wall which we walked right by at first and we had to backtrack to find it. I’m so glad we did. It smelled like a real bakery in there and I bought the boys and myself croissants, something we haven’t had in ages. I didn’t ask if they were dairy free but they sure didn’t taste it, so I’m guessing they were made with butter, but it was worth every bite. I have no idea what flours they use but if I hadn’t known it was from a gluten-free bakery I would have sworn it was a traditional croissant. The reviews of the place speak a lot to the friendliness of the owners and it’s all true. If my sons had been with me I’m quite sure they would have been compelled to hug them because they were both so sweet and smiley. I’ll definitely be heading back there any time I am in Seattle from now on.
There are many guides to help newly diagnosed celiacs and gluten intolerant people but I know when you are first figuring it all out it feels like you are the only person in the world changing your diet and lifestyle. There will most likely be favorite meals you are giving up, familiar restaurants, and things like weekly meet-ups and dinner parties need to be rethought. Things you never had to think about before suddenly need attention, everyday habits, social rituals, and even the chores of shopping and cooking scream for a revamp. It’s a lot, and it can be overwhelming, but hopefully it will help to know that many people have been there, with their miner’s lamps on before you, walking through the dark and leaving notes. First of all, make a list of all the things you can eat. It’s so easy to focus on the food/foods that need to be eliminated and feel like everything is off-limits, but in reality there will always be a lot more food on the OK list than on the ‘must avoid’ list. It is important to figure out where the hidden gluten might be, like soy sauce, fake meat products like soy hotdogs, and oat products, but it is equally important to understand there are things like wheat free tamari,
and safe oat products. (Unless you react to the similar protein that is found in oats the same way you react to gluten. Some people can eat certified gluten-free oat products just fine, while others cannot.) Beyond the products that are made to be gluten-free, of which you will find just about anything you can think of, there are foods that are naturally gluten-free and they are still there for you, so go ahead and eat all the French fries and corn tortillas you want. Most natural foods stores, like Whole Foods, would be happy to have a knowledgeable employee walk around with you to show you the gluten-free items and they will also know which are the best sellers, so if you don’t know which bread to try first just ask what the most popular brand is and start with that one. Calling ahead to find out when the best time to come in for some personal attention would be advised and you might even be able to do that at a regular grocery store~ depends on the place. A local Co-op here has monthly(?) food tours around their stores to highlight gluten-free things, or sometimes there are other themes, but the point is you might find something similar in your own local store. Speaking of that local co-op, it is called PCC and they have a webpage dedicated to gluten-free info and so does Whole Foods. Both of those places have many recipes that are labeled gluten-free and are a great place to find healthy foods in general. Trader Joe’s also has a gluten free list and other special diet lists and I recommend you look at your local favorite store’s website to see what they have available. Also check out Urban Spoon for information on restaurants and bakeries that are gluten-free friendly and find some places to visit sooner rather than later so when the inevitable time arrives when someone asks to meet for lunch you will have a place to suggest. Delicious living, a magazine you may have at some point seen in a natural foods store, has a guide for gluten-free living and there are several magazines dedicated to food allergies, but Living Without is the most popular one. There are blogs, social media groups, and online gluten-free stores to also offer assistance and advice, recipes and in some cases, coupons. In short, you aren’t alone and once you get into a gluten-free groove, it’s really not all that hard and you will find the amount you feel better outweighs any missing of old foods by so much that you truly don’t miss them.
At this point in the year I’m pretty much souped out. Not eating it, just making it. So, I’m quite excited to have found this gluten-free ramen that takes all of 4 minutes to make and tastes seriously good. The one I like is by Lotus Foods and has a miso base and I’m pretty sure when my oldest tries it, he’s going to be hooked too because he loves miso, and noodles, and especially fast prep. Try it out yourself on a day when your missing dorm cooking, or more likely, just want some fast soup on a chilly Spring day: