Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Cookie fail, brownie WIN

gluten free white chocolate chip brownies
After a dinner of a lighter version of this etoufee , I was craving something sweet and chocolatey.

I tried to make some white chocolate chip chocolate cookies healthier, but the dough turned out way too wet. I knew if I tried to make them as cookies they'd spread horribly, and if I added more flour they'd taste chalky. Enter: chocolate brownies, made as mini muffins: aka brownie bites. YUM. If only all of my failed attempts at baking turned out this tasty.

White chocolate chip brownies

1 egg, slightly beaten
1/2 c. unsweetened applesauce
3/4 c. sugar
1 heaping cup of your favorite GF flour mix
1/4 t. xanthan gum
1/3 heaping cup of cocoa
scant 1/2 t. baking soda
1/8 t. salt
3/4 c. white chocolate chips, or to taste

Blend the dry ingredients and the wet ingredients separately. Mix the two together and pour the batter into a brownie pan, muffin cups, or mini-muffin cups. Bake at 350 until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Next try: the cookies I was trying to make! The original recipe asked for 1/2 c. butter. I'm going to try messing with ratios of applesauce and crisco to make the best cookies.

Oh, I'm so full.

Monday, June 29, 2009


Another gluten-free-friendly restaurant that I've heard of is Chipotle. My girlfriends and I went lunching today, but the restaurant we were going to was unfortunately closed. After walking around a bit, we decided to go to the Chipotle we saw a couple blocks away.

I knew I'd be okay because I've heard that everything in the buffet except the tortillas was gluten free. Horray for minimal cross-contamination! I ordered a burrito bowl and loaded it up with rice, beans, corn salsa, lettuce, chicken, cheese & (against my better non-dairy judgement), sour cream. It was sooo good, and it was a ton of food. I could only eat about half of it. Looking back I probably should have nixed the sour cream, but it was still very good.

And, since it was in the middle of downtown there were lots of cute guys wearing ties and slacks out to lunch as well. Gluten free food + corporate eye candy? I think that's the start of a recipe for a great lunch with the girls.

My food- before I dug in.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Jungle Baby Shower Cake

baby shower cake baby under blanket

I think the cake for Jen's baby shower was a success. I used Betty Crocker's gluten free yellow cake mixes and used strawberry filling. I was worried the filling would make the cake soggy, but it held up. I baked the cakes a tad longer just in case. It was quite tasty, and the whole group ate it happily. Gluten free score.

The animals, for my first time, turned out better than I expected. I had some trouble with the chocolate on the lion's face, but got the hang of it for the other animals. The mane was butterscotch, and smelled awesome. I had a great laugh at the demonic-looking monkey. The elephant was my favorite. I did him last so by that time I had the hang of it. I know the picture quality isn't great, but at that point I didn't care, I was just glad to have the cake done!

I had more planned, but I ran into some setbacks and hurriedly finished in the nick of time. It still turned out great. It was totally fun and everyone got a kick out of it, especially me!

fondant monkey
fondant lionfondant giraffe
fondant elephantgluten free baby shower jungle cake
click for larger images

gluten free jungle baby shower cake
gluten free yellow cake with strawberry filling
Yum! Many many congratulations to Jen and Richard. Logan is going to be a cute fat baby and I can't wait to snuggle him. :o)

Friday, June 26, 2009

More food diary

I've been doing really well, watching what I eat and paying attention to avoid foods that upset my stomach. Today my stomach was feeling really great, and mom brought home some Klondike bars so I thought I'd try one. The thought of it didn't really sound delicious, but I decided to eat one anyway.

A few bites into it, my stomach started to feel ishy. I didn't even finish the bar because it was so unappetizing. That's a big deal- I always finish desserts.

If I hadn't eaten one, I wouldn't feel gross right now. Just another instance of my body telling me that I shouldn't eat something- because it won't like me back.

Let that be a lesson to me.

Thursday, June 25, 2009


BLT... Wrap. Just as tasty as the sandwich.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Pei Wei

I don't know why it took me over a year and a half to eat at Pei Wei after I'd heard rumors of a gluten free menu.

Well, last night I finally went! I asked the cashier if they had a gluten free menu, and she pulled out this little laminated card that's linked above. I ordered the Pei Wei Spicy. She said it was one of their most popular dishes.

It was chicken with some sort of delicious glaze/crust/sauce that was sweet and spicy at the same time. Oh. My. Gosh. It has been so long since I've eaten restaurant Chinese food- and this stuff was good. I was in heaven.

I don't know what precautions they take to avoid cross-contamination, but I felt fine. It was actually the first time that I ever remember eating Chinese food and not getting indigestion or bloating afterwards. I guess there really is something to this gluten free thing, huh?

For 2 meals + 2 drinks it was about 20 bucks, so I'm figuring $10 a person. That's not too bad for me, because I can get 1 or 2 other meals from the leftovers. I'm actually excited for lunch today.

I did not take a picture, and I doubt you want to see a picture of my leftovers crammed into the takeout box. I hate posting without some kind of picture, so you get today's Natalie Dee as a random visual that just so happens to relate to food.


Next on the list of restaurants to try: PF Chang's GF menu!

Monday, June 22, 2009


I've decided to chronicle my new experiment on this blog.

Here's the basis: It's no secret that most ailments and diseases can be cured or prevented by a simple healthy diet and exercise. I mean, as Celiacs we especially know that.

Personally, I have problems with overactive hydrogen pumps in my stomach, resulting in a condition with symptoms similar to acid reflux. The doctors call it dyspepsia. Basically it leaves me with a constant severe sour & upset stomach which is not good if you want to have any sort of life at all. I know if you're reading this you're probably no stranger to that.

For over 5 years, I have taken two over-the-counter Prilosec OTC tablets daily. They have worked fabulously, and have literally given me my life back. The only thing is, the long-term effects and higher-than-normal dose are starting to kinda make me nervous.

My experiment: Now that I am gluten free, I have wondered just how much of my discomfort was a result of the Celiac symptoms, and not just the dyspepsia. I am going to see if I can lower, drastically reduce, or eliminate the dosage of Prilosec and manage my symptoms solely through diet and exercising.

So far, I have reduced the dose to 1 pill a day for a little over a week with few problems.
I had a particularly bad day today. I didn't eat anything out of the ordinary, but I felt like I did in my pre-Prilosec days. Even my trusty pepto bismol pills did little to settle my stomach. I wound up taking another Prilosec, and within 30 minutes I felt like a new woman.

I was going to call it quits and go back to the regular dosage, but then I decided that I can't just give up. I really am tired of taking drugs every time I don't feel well.

I did some research, and come across some home remedies and foods that will naturally raise the pH in the stomach. Here are a few:

  • Fruits and veggies- they're part of a healthy diet anyway, I eat tons of fruit but I should be eating more veggies. Some fruits and veggies are more alkaline than others, like apples, brocolli, cucumbers, green beans, and celery.
  • Apple cider vinegar- surprisingly I've heard a lot about this stuff. You mix it in water and drink it. I think it smells terrible. I don't know if I'll be able to choke it down on an already upset stomach, but what have I got to lose?
  • Baking soda came up a lot in my research, naturally.
  • Activia- I hate yogurt, but if I'm going to really be serious about this, I'll try it. I'll take suggestions on how to jazz up yogurt!
  • I need to learn to EAT SLOWER. When I sit down to a meal, I admit I am guilty of wolfing it down. That can't be helping my digestion.
Anyway, these are just a few things I saw, and I don't know if they'll all work for me, but we'll see how it goes.

If you're reading this and you have similiar problems, let me know what you did that works!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

evil lurking

You know how I'm big on listening to what your body is trying to tell you.

Well today my stomach was feeling fine- really great actually, then I ate a small bowl of mashed potatoes and gravy.

Bam, just like that, a few minutes later I got stomach pains. Was it the potatoes? The dairy? Cross contamination? I have been light on dairy for a while. I can usually do cheese without much trouble, but milk is no bueno. I have happily not touched the stuff in over a month. It's not like I ever liked it to begin with.

I have started eating my cereal dry, because I can't quite get used to the alternative "milks" in my cereal. My new favorite is the Cinnamon Chex. Tastes like Cinnamon Toast Crunch, which I always liked dry better than with milk too.

Anyway, there was milk in both the potatoes and the gravy, so I betcha that's what it was.

This has been another episode of playing food detective.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

New store! New products! Yay!

Today I tried a new store. It's called Ranch Creek Natural Foods, and it's located at 13211 Memorial Drive, Houston TX 77079. Phone: 713-467-8900. That's for you, Erin. Haha. :o)

What an experience! First, we got lost. It's off on a little side street, and it's in a double-wide trailer. VERY easy to miss.

The guy who owns it has been there for something like 30 years, and he was a talker. He thoroughly researches everything in the store, and only stocks products that his customers actually like. It's a small store, and the man is so nice and gets to know his customers. He was telling me how a lot of his customers are children with Autism and he's been able to watch them grow up and improve.

He was also telling me how he knows Pamela (yes, that Pamela) from way back in the day, and he's also got some products I've never seen before. I didn't purchase any, so I can't remember the brand names. It was such a cool experience to talk to someone who is obviously very passionate about their business.

Also, when I was there a lady came in and she asked if I've tried the new Betty Crocker mixes, and then we got to chatting and she recommended the buns that I bought. It was so cool to be able to talk to someone who is also flabbergasted that Blue Bell chocolate ice cream contains wheat flour! It felt awesome. I also overheard them talking about someone they know who is looking into opening a gluten free bakery. Good things!!

Anyway, I only bought a couple things since I just went to the store earlier this week. I did buy:
Mary's Twigs & Sticks, Kinnickinnick KinniToos, and Schar white rolls.

I immediately tore into the cookies, and they are really good! Much better than the similar Glutino ones I tried a while back. They're just like Oreos, but better, because I can eat them!

The Sticks & Twigs were great, and taste just like the Mary's crackers. Full of little bits of crunchy healthy whole grain goodness. I noticed on the website that they have other flavors, and I'd totally try them.

I have not tried the buns yet, but both the store owner and the woman I talked to said they were great. *crosses fingers*
I have seen this Schar brand in HEB and I've tried the chocolate covered shortbread cookies. They didn't last long.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Betty Crocker- Gluten free!

I have been keeping my eyes open for the new Betty Crocker gluten free mixes, and I've finally found them! I immediately grabbed the yellow cake mix, because I can never seem to make a really good one from scratch.

Check out the website. It has "no butter" instructions if you want to keep it dairy free, and it also has recipes. I'm thinking that's a big fat A for effort. I freaking love it.

The yellow cake smelled awesome when it was baking, and it was really really hard to let it cool before I touched it.

I tried it two ways: As strawberry shortcake, and with vanilla frosting. Both were DELICIOUS. The cake turned out soft and yummy, and you absolutely could not tell that it was gluten free. I think it's better than Pamela's yellow cake, because the texture is more delicate and there is no aftertaste. In fact, it is so good I'm contemplating using it for a baby shower cake I'm making in a couple of weeks.

gluten free yellow cakegluten free yellow cake
One thing to note: The mix does not make your basic 13x9 pan. It makes an 8 or 9-inch cake or 12 cupcakes.

Either way, I am stoked. Keep these mainstream gluten-free products coming!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009


It's summer. Well, in Houston it is. And in summer, the popsicle is a staple.

Now, you can get popsicles from the store no problem. Then you can feast on frozen high fructose corn syrup and artificial flavors. Not that I have any issues with that- I've downed my fair share of those delicious popsicles.

But, with an abundance of ripe summer fruits, why not make your own? This way you can combine all kinds of fruits to make the perfect flavor combinations. I remember making 'popsicles' as a kid with orange juice in ice cube trays. They would come out mostly water, as the juice had settled during freezing, but there was a thin layer of orangey goodness at the bottom.

I have come up with some guidelines for making popsicles:

-Use as little water as you can. Avoid using only juices, as it will settle during freezing and leave you with mostly frozen water.

-Stick to fruit purees, and use very ripe fruit.

-Most popsicles from the store have a certain texture to them. To avoid a rock-hard popsicle, you can add a little alcohol [adults only!]. I like to use jello- from the box in the powdered form; not already made. It keeps them bite-able and not like you're sucking on a fruit-flavored ice cube.

-You can freeze them in any container, but popsicle molds are so easy and so convenient, and they're inexpensive. I found mine at the dollar store.

Because popsicle mold sizes differ, it's kinda hard to say how much of what to use- just eyeball it. For the ones I made, I pureed some watermelon and strawberries and added some strawberry jello mix. At this point you should take a taste to make sure it's sweet enough. If it needs sweetening, add honey instead of sugar, as it will dissolve better. However, use sugar if you're not using anything else to keep it from freezing solid- sugar doesn't freeze so it keeps the popsicle bite-able. Once it tastes right, pour it into popsicle molds. A few hours in the freezer and they'll be ready to eat.

You can experiment with practically any flavor, and I've started taking the leftovers from smoothies and making popsicles.

Here are a couple of flavor combinations I've been thinking about:

something with soda- I wonder how it would turn out?
strawberry lime

Anybody got any other ideas?