October 30, 2008


Credit Card Rewards

With the Christmas season approaching I'm especially thankful for my credit card. Yes, you heard me right, but I'm not thankful for it so that I can charge a bunch of stuff I can't afford. I'm thankful, because our credit card gives us money back that I can use to buy gifts.

There are a number of credit cards that offer rewards. For years, we have used the Toys R Us card. There is no annual fee, and we receive 1% back in Toys R Us gift cards. We use this one card to pay for everything. The bill provides us with a record of purchases, and it can be downloaded into financial programs. We pay the bill off without paying interest, and receive money back. One percent doesn't seem like a lot, but that's $10 for every $1000 spent. They give 4% back on purchases made at Toys R Us.

When our kids were little it was easy to use that money. As they got older, I thought we would outgrow it, but we haven't. One year each of the boys got a new bike. I think that was the year we moved and did a lot of remodeling. Another year they got a Game Cube. Last Christmas there wasn't anything we wanted to get the boys there, but my husband got a GPS! Yes, Toys R Us sells them in the electronics department. They sell cameras too. Also, I can use the money to buy baby shower gifts and gifts for younger nieces and nephews. Over the years we've made a lot of money off that credit card.

As much as we have liked the TRU rewards program, we have decide to move on to another. We just started using a BJ's Visa card. They also have no annual fee and offer 2% back on BJ's purchases and 1% on all other purchases. Since I regularly shop at BJ's, this will give us a higher return, and we won't ever wonder whether we will find something to use the reward money on. If neither of those cards works for you, there are others to be found with a little searching.

I will finish by saying that this idea is for those who are able to use a credit card and pay it off each month. The amount of money you pay in interest is way more than the amount of rewards you earn. I think my husband and I have only paid interest once in our 19 years of marriage, and that was when we accidentally forgot to pay the bill.

For more frugal ideas visit Crystal's blog.



Bread Sticks

gluten-free bread sticks
Here is a modified version of Carol Fenster's recipe from Gluten-Free Quick & Easy. The first time I tried the recipe I made it as is. The bread sticks turned out great and were gone in a jiffy (the recipe didn't make enough for our family). This recipe doubles the ingredients, and while the original bread sticks were light and fluffy, I wanted to make some with more sorghum and less starch. These did not get as big, but still plumped nicely. The additional sorghum gives them a nice whole grain flavor. My family liked these just as well, and they were glad there were more of them!

Gluten-Free Bread Sticks

1 c. sorghum flour
2/3 c. potato starch
1/3 c. tapioca starch
1 1/2 tsp. xanthan gum
3/4 tsp. guar gum (if you don't have guar, just use xanthan)
1 1/2 Tb. sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 Tb. instant or bread machine yeast

1 c. warm milk (105 - 115 degrees)
1/4 c. grated Parmesan cheese (I used the pre-grated stuff)
2 Tb. olive oil
1 tsp. vinegar

Note: I like using instant yeast because you can mix it right in with the dry ingredients. If you are using regular active dry yeast, mix it with the milk and let it sit for 5 min.

Combine the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl. In a small bowl combine the wet ingredients. Add the wet to the dry and beat with the mixer about 1 minute.

Put the dough in a freezer bag (I used quart size) which has about 1/2 - 1 inch cut from one corner. The size of the hole affects the bread stick size and the baking time. Mine was closer to 1 inch.

Spray or line a non-stick cookie sheet. Squeeze the dough from the bag onto the cookie sheet, holding the bag upright. Spray tops of bread sticks with cooking spray (I forgot this step.) Place the cookie sheet on a middle oven rack and turn the oven on to 400 degrees. (You're putting it into a cold oven. Timing starts as soon as you turn the oven on.) Bake about 20 minutes until lightly browned.

View Printable Recipe



Celiac Disease Drug Gets Positive Results

There are currently two drugs that are being developed in the hope of helping people with celiac disease. The first, AT1001, is the drug that was used in the trial in which I participated in 2006. Trials are still ongoing and are conducted by Alba Therapeutics.

The second drug is ALV003 for which Alvine Pharmaceuticals is conducting trials. Yesterday there was a news update regarding this drug. Here are a couple of brief quotes.

"Alvine Pharmaceuticals, Inc., today announced proof of concept in a Phase
1 Trial of ALV003, an oral protease therapy in development to detoxify gluten,
intended for use by patients with celiac disease."

"Results from these studies support the use of ALV003 as a drug to be taken
with meals to address unintentional gluten exposure."

If you have celiac disease, I suggest you take a minute to read the entire article here:

Alvine Pharmaceuticals Reports Positive Results With ALV003


October 27, 2008


Gluten-Free Cookbook Giveaway

This giveaway has ended.

Having a giveaway sounds like lots of fun so I thought I'd give it a try. I love to help people discover that a gluten-free diet can be delicious, and if you already know that, I'd love to help you discover more great recipes. I'm eager for as many people as possibly to enter the drawing so I'm opening it to anyone worldwide. I'm also offering a choice of one out of four possible cookbooks. If you already have all four of them then you probably don't need another. Just kidding! You can make a suggestion of a different similarly priced gluten-free cookbook that you would like to win. I'm flexible with this because I will order the book and have it shipped directly to the winner. Without further ado, here are the choices:

1. Gluten-Free Quick & Easy by Carol Fenster
2. Cooking Free by Carol Fenster
3. The Gluten-free Gourmet Makes Dessert by Bette Hagman
4. The Gluten-Free Gourmet Cooks Fast and Healthy by Bette Hagman

You can enter the drawing by leaving a comment and telling me either:
1. Something about yourself and why you cook gluten-free OR
2. What you like or dislike about this blog, recipes or information you would like me to write about, or if you've tried any of the recipes

Please leave a way for me to contact you such as a link to your blog (if it has a link to your email) or an email address. Most people list an email address something like this: glutenfreehomemaker AT verizon DOT net.

One entry per person. The giveaway will end at midnight (eastern time) on Friday which is technically 12 am Saturday. I will contact and announce the winner on Saturday!

For more great giveaways, visit Bloggy Giveaways Quarterly Carnival.


October 25, 2008


Celiac Disease, Gluten Intolerance, or Wheat Allergy?

Celiac disease, gluten intolerance, and wheat allergy are all conditions that lead people to eat a gluten-free diet. While the diet is the same (mostly), there are differences among the conditions.

Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease. When gluten is ingested, the immune system triggers an attack on the person's own body, specifically the small intestine. The attack causes damage to the villi lining the small intestine. The damage can be healed after switching to a gluten-free diet. Celiac disease cannot be outgrown, and a person diagnosed with it should follow a gluten-free diet for life.

Gluten intolerance does not involve the immune system and does not cause damage to the body. It is, however, very unpleasant to live with an intolerance because the digestive system is intolerant to the particular food, causing gastrointestinal symptoms.

Any allergy, including wheat allergy, is an immune response. While the body sees the trigger as a danger and produces unwanted symptoms, it does not attack itself and damage tissue as in celiac disease. That doesn't mean allergies are not dangerous. They are certainly life threatening in people who react by going into anaphylaxic shock. Allergies are not necessarily life long. Many children outgrow food allergies.

I think it is unfortunate that many people today are going on a gluten-free diet without being tested for celiac disease. I understand their desire to do anything that will help them feel better because I have been there myself. The problem is that tests for celiac disease will not be accurate if a person has been gluten-free for a while. Going back on gluten is hard. Thankfully, I only had to do it for two weeks because I had not been gluten-free for long.

If a person has celiac disease, a formal diagnosis can be beneficial for several reasons. Here are a few of those reasons with the first one, I believe, being the most important.

I'd be interested in hearing your thoughts and questions on any of these topics. If you eat gluten free, are you a celiac, intolerant, allergic or unsure?


October 23, 2008


Comforting Corn Bread

I think corn bread qualifies as a comfort food. It's just, well, comforting. If you're on a gluten-free diet, you have to be careful about corn bread mixes. They usually contain wheat. However, gluten-free corn bread can be easily prepared from scratch almost as quickly.

gluten-free corn bread

Gluten-Free Corn Bread


1 c. cornmeal
1/4 c. corn flour (or use 1 1/4 c. cornmeal)
1 c. gluten-free flour mix (I used a sorghum blend)
1/4 - 1/2 c. sugar (depends on how sweet you like it)
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. xanthan gum
1 tsp. salt
2 large eggs
1 c. milk (try a substitute if you're dairy free)
1/3 c. melted butter (or oil)


Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray a 8 x 8 inch baking dish or use a 10 inch cast iron pot/skillet. In a medium bowl combine the dry ingredients. In a small bowl combine the wet ingredients. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ones and stir just until moistened. Pour into the prepared dish. Bake about 25 minutes until the top is firm. This recipe was adapted from Carol Fenster's book Cooking Free.

Just a note on corn meal. I have yet to find a brand that I'm positive is gluten-free. I am using Arrowhead Mills which states gluten-free on the package, but I don't think it is made in a dedicated facility. I'd love to hear from you if have a brand that would be safer.

Is corn bread a comfort food for you?

View Printable Recipe


October 22, 2008


Why I Don't Menu Plan

I have done menu planning before, and I will probably do it again. Right now, though, I don't do it. I have spent weeks thinking that I should get back to it, but I have finally decided that I'm not going to. At least not right now. Here's why.

It works for me.

I save money. I know that sounds backwards, but for me it's true.
So now you know. And since my secret is out, I can be free to say, "I don't menu plan!" and not feel guilty about it. Do you menu plan?


October 21, 2008


U of MD Accomodates Celiac Students

For those of you who might be interested, here is a link to an article about celiac students eating in the dining halls at the University of Maryland. There are 25 celiacs who eat there, and the university has installed a dedicated freezer with gluten-free food in each of the two dining halls. They are still working out the logistics of the situation, but it is good to hear that progress is being made in this area.

Gluten-free foods to be kept separate - News


October 20, 2008


My Experience with the Turbo Oven

For today's kitchen tip I'm following up on a promise I made last week. Some of you are wondering what a turbo oven is. You can see one here, and now you have an idea of the price also.

I'll tell you up front, the turbo oven is not super fast at cooking food. It definitely doesn't match the microwave when it comes to speed. It is, however, faster than a conventional oven, and is useful for cooking things that you wouldn't cook in a microwave.

What it is:

It is very simply a countertop convection oven. Convection ovens use a fan to force heated air to circulate around the food. Convection ovens cook food faster and at a lower temperature than conventional ovens.

What I like about it:

It was great having this oven during the hot summer months. It is very rare that I use my regular oven during the summer. The turbo oven allowed me to do things like roast a chicken without heating up the kitchen. Even in the winter I plan on using it this way unless I have something else to go in the oven with it.

I like the way it reheats food much better than the microwave. For example, when I reheat leftover pizza (gluten-free of course)in the microwave, it softens the crust but leaves it rather spongy. When I reheat pizza in the turbo oven, I place the pieces directly on the rack that sits in the bottom of the bowl, set the temperature 400 and heat it for several minutes. The crust comes out soft inside, but nice and crisp outside.

I have never liked meat cooked or reheated in the microwave. It always seems to come out tough and rubbery. I can heat leftover meat in the turbo oven by putting it on a plate and setting the plate on the rack. I set the temperature to 350 and heat it as long as necessary. The meat stays tender, has great flavor, and I often think it tastes better than the first time.

The glass bowl is easy to clean. With the top removed you take the bowl out of its stand and wash it in the sink. If there is stuck on food, simply add some soapy water to the bowl, put the top back on, and heat it at a low temperature for a few minutes.

What I heat/cook in the turbo oven:

Whole chickens (it browns nicely and cooks at 400 degrees for about 10 minutes per pound)
Roast beef (although I usually use my pressure cooker for that)
Roast potatoes
Roast vegetables
toasted bread
frozen french fries
other frozen foods
some baked items (see below)
casseroles (see below)

What the turbo oven is not good at heating/cooking:

liquids in a glass container (the glass gets hot, not the liquid)

baked goods - I have tried corn bread and cinnamon rolls. They quickly get brown on top because it is closest to the fan. The glass dish (I also tried a silicon pan) didn't allow the bottom to heat well. I wasn't about to let anything go to waste, though, so I simply flipped the items over in their dish and cooked the bottom. They didn't look quite as nice, but they got cooked through and tasted good.

casseroles - Again, the glass dish is the problem. When food is in a dish with sides, it is mainly heated from the top. Casseroles can work if it is an item you can stir occasionally as it heats.

A big drawback for many people is the size. I am fortunate enough to have space for it on my counter. I don't like to leave appliances on my counter that are not used regularly, but this one definitely is. It has been used almost every day to either cook or reheat something or both.

If you are considering buying one and have question, I'd be happy to help as much as I can.

For more kitchen tips visit Tammy's Recipes.



Apples 'n Onions

You could count on one hand the number of times I have eaten apples 'n onions (if I could remember), but I recently found myself craving some. I have been in the mood for apples lately, but that's natural in the fall. If you've been in an apple mood, I thought you might like trying this dish. It's very easy to prepare and is naturally gluten-free.

apples 'n onions

In a large skillet, saute onion slices and apple slices in melted butter until tender. That's it! Unless, of course, you're like Almanzo Wilder and want brown sugar on yours. If that's the case, put it on top of the apples and onions in the skillet and cover to let it steam a bit. My craving didn't include brown sugar so I went without. Apparently there are two camps on this issue. The ones who would never eat it with brown sugar, and the ones who will only eat it with brown sugar. Personally, I could see eating it either way.

Do you eat apples 'n onions, and if so, do you eat it with brown sugar or not?


October 19, 2008


Gluten-Free Coupon Site

I thought my celiac readers would be interested in a new web site called Be Free For Me. It is designed to help people with celiac disease and other food allergies. If you sign up (it's free), you will receive monthly newsletters and quarterly coupons. The site also has recipes and helpful articles. Go check it out!


October 18, 2008


To My Readers

If you are a regular reader of my blog (not just a subscriber), please read through this entire post.

First, thank you, thank you! I'm very excited that there are people interested in my little blog. I would love to hear from more of you. If you don't have a blog of your own, you probably have no idea how much a comment means to a blogger. Especially one who is just starting out. Comments can be long or short. I'll take anything! Besides providing encouragement to continue blogging, comments can help me to understand what my readers benefit from the most. Comments can also help to educate and inform me.

If you would like to send me an email rather than a comment, you can use the "contact" button under the header of each page. I have also added and email option at the end of my feeds. I'm happy to communicate with people this way and answer specific questions. I'd also like to hear from you if you have something you would like me to write a post about. It could be a particular topic, ideas for solving a problem, or a particular kind of recipe. Just let me know.

Regarding the feed issues, it seems that feedburner is updating my feed in a timely manner. However, Google reader, and likely the other readers, does not check for updates frequently. This is because, being a new blog, I don't have a lot of subscribers. Basically, I'm low man on the totem pole. Oh well.

I have added the option of email subscription. This sends you an email once a day, not every time I add something. And if I don't post anything on a given day, you don't receive an email.

Thanks for reading this, and thanks again for reading my blog.



Apple Bars

These bars are technically a dessert, but I have to admit that I had some for breakfast this morning. Well, they do have oatmeal, apples, and some nuts!

In my applescotch dessert post I mentioned a cookbook that was an old favorite of mine, Mennonite Country Style Recipes. Well, I pulled it out again and decided to try converting another recipe. With only one change (butter instead of shortening), one addition (xanthan gum), and one substitution (gluten-free flour for wheat flour), I came up with a great gluten-free dessert (breakfast).

gluten-free apple bars

I've already said that I'm a fan of bars because they are quicker and easier than making cookies. You could try these in cookie form, but I think the recipe lends itself particularly well to bar form. Also, keep in mind that while we now have access to gluten-free rolled oats, they are not instant oats. The larger rolled oats have a tendency to make things fall apart. These bars hold together pretty well, but I'm not sure how they would do as cookies. Another option would be to try whirling the oats in a food processor for a bit.

Gluten-Free Apple Bars


3/4 c. (1 1/2 sticks) butter
1 1/2 c. brown sugar
3 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract

2 c. gluten-free flour mix (I used a sorghum mix)
1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. xanthan gum
1 1/2 c. gluten-free oats

1/3 c. gluten-free flour mix
2 medium-sized apples, peeled and chopped
2/3 c. walnuts, chopped (optional)
3/4 c. raisins (optional) (I omitted these)


Beat together the butter and brown sugar. Add the eggs and vanilla, beating until fluffy. Combine the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and xanthan gum. Add, along with the oats, to the butter mixture. Mix just until incorporated. Stir together the 1/3 c. flour, apples, nuts, and raisins. Fold into the mixture. Spread into a sprayed 10 x 15 inch jelly roll pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes. Set the pan on a wire rack to cool before cutting.

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October 17, 2008


Roasted Cinnamon Nuts

Here is a recipe I have tried only recently. I have used this recipe with almonds and pecans and both turned out well. These are a tasty treat and would be nice to give at Christmas time. I found plastic bags to put them in at the craft store. They should store well because in the past I bought similar roasted nuts that kept for months.

roasted cinnamon almonds
The cinnamon in these is subtle.  You can try adding more or less to your taste.  You could also try making these with an alternative sweetener.  I have seen similar recipes that use a sticky sweetener such as honey or agave nectar and do not use the egg white.  In that case the sweetener works to hold the salt and cinnamon to the nuts.

Roasted Sweetened Nuts

1 egg white
1 tsp. vanilla extract
3 c. whole almonds or pecan halves
1/4 c. sugar
1/4 c. brown sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon

In a large bowl whisk the egg white and vanilla until frothy, about 2 minutes. Stir in the nuts. Mix the remaining ingredients and add to the nuts. Stir to coat. Spread the nuts in a sprayed jelly roll pan. Bake at 250 degrees for 1 hour 15 minutes. Stir after the first half hour and again half an hour later. Nuts should be dry. Stir and bake a little longer if they are still sticky. Cool in the pan then transfer to a container.

View Printable Recipes


October 15, 2008


Managing All Those Electronics Cords

This house is home to a mom with short hair (me), a dad, three boys, and two dogs. So why do I love ponytail holders? The old fashioned kind that has a ball (or other shape) on each end? They're great for wrapping around a folded up cord. I use these all the time. The picture below shows one wrapped around the cord (or is it a cable?) that connects my camera to the computer.

a cord wrapped with a ponytail holder

I find this type of ponytail holder to be much easier to use for this kind of job than a twisty tie, a rubber band, or plain circular ponytail holder. It's very quick and easy. You can use it for cords that don't stay in use all the time, or for shortening up a cord that is too long. Think of all those cords and cables you have in your house. I'm sure you could find lots of uses for some old fashioned ponytail holders. And for those of you who used them as a kid, it might give you a nice nostalgic feeling.

For more ideas about what works for people visit Rocks in My Dryer.


October 13, 2008


The Possible Dangers of Microwave Ovens

Did you know that in 1991 there was a microwave related law suit in Oklahoma? A woman died from a blood transfusion because a nurse had warmed the blood in a microwave. Warming it wasn't the problem, that is routinely done, but not in a microwave. The blood warmed in the microwave was altered enough to kill the woman, which leaves us wondering, "What else do microwaves alter, and how is it affecting us?"

Some people believe they alter anything they heat. Microwaves work by creating molecular "friction" which produces heat. The friction also damages surrounding molecules by tearing or deforming them. (Microwaves from the sun do not produce this type of heat.) This can significantly lower the nutritional level of foods, but there seems to be more concerns than that. A controversial (of course!) study by the scientist Hans Hertel in Switzerland showed that not only were nutrients changed, but there were negative changes in the blood of the participants who ate microwaved food.

I don't claim to have much knowledge in this area, and I can't say I'm 100 percent convinced, but it is something that's been a growing concern of mine. I know there is the other side of the story, and people who say that microwaved food is completely safe. But I think we've also learned through the years that sometimes what we're told is safe is often proven over time to be unsafe. I would rather be safe than sorry. So I have been working towards eliminating the use of the microwave in our house, but we're not there yet. One thing that has helped me in this endeavor is the Turbo Oven. I hope to write about it next week.

If you're interested in learning more, there's lots more to read with a little web searching, and here are a couple of links to get you started. These are different articles with the same title so I have numbered them.

The Hidden Hazards of Microwave Cooking #1

The Hidden Hazards of Microwave Cooking #2

For more kitchen tips visit Tammy's Recipes.



Applescotch Dessert

Last evening I decided to pull out one of my favorite cookbooks from before my celiac diagnosis. It is Mennonite Country Style Recipes by Esther Shank. I found this dessert and decided to try converting it to be gluten-free. The result was scrumptious.

Gluten-Free Applescotch Dessert

1 c. brown sugar
1 Tb. corn starch
2 c. cold water
2 c. gluten-free flour mix (I used Carol Fenster's sorghum blend)
1/4 c. sugar
1 Tb. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
5 Tb. butter
4 c. chopped peeled apples
3/4 c. milk
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 Tb. sugar
1/2 tsp. cinnamon

Combine the brown sugar, cornstarch and water in a saucepan. Cook until slightly thickened (very slightly). Pour into a sprayed 9 x 13 inch baking dish. Mix together the flour, 1/4 c. sugar, baking powder and salt. Cut in the butter using a pastry blender or fork. Stir the apples into this flour mixture. Combine the milk and vanilla and stir into the flour/apple mixture. Stir just until moistened. Drop by serving spoonfuls into the baking dish. Combine the 1 Tb. sugar and the cinnamon and sprinkle over the top.

Bake at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes. Let sit for 10 - 15 minutes. Serve warm with ice cream or whipped cream.

Note: I might try to thicken the syrup with a little more cornstarch next time. It did thicken as it baked, but still ran out from underneath as I started dishing it up. The original recipe called for 1 1/2 c. brown sugar which I cut back to 1 c. so that might have made some difference. Also, I somehow missed the directions to add 1/2 tsp. vanilla and 1 Tb. butter to the syrup just before pouring it into the baking dish. I might try adding the vanilla next time.

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Putting Celiac Disease in Perspective

The University of Chicago Celiac Disease Center web site is a resource that many people might not be familiar with. I thought I would highlight a few things from their facts and figures page. These statistics pertain to the United States.

That helps to put celiac disease in perspective. We need to keep getting the word out so that millions of people don't have to continue suffering.


October 12, 2008


A Note to My Subscribers

I have had trouble with my RSS feeds not showing up until hours after they are posted. In addition, when they do show up in Google reader, they haven't been showing up in the box I have on my Google home page.

I have done some things to try and correct the problem, but I'm not sure any of them will help. Please be patient, but I would be happy to hear from you if you are experiencing any other problems with my feed. I'd also be glad to hear any advice you might have for me. Thanks!

October 11, 2008


Gluten-Free Cream Soups Recipe

We eat casseroles fairly often during cold weather. When I was first diagnosed, I didn't know how to replace the cream soups that most of my casseroles called for. So I was thrilled when I found this recipe which came from Amber Lee at Gluten-Free Utah.

1 c. cold milk
3 Tb. sweet rice flour or rice flour, or 2 Tb. cornstarch
2 Tb. butter
1 tsp. chicken bouillon or other flavoring
1/2 tsp. salt
pepper to taste

I have always used sweet rice flour in this recipe, but if you don't have any on hand, cornstarch will work. Either one should be whisked into the cold milk in a saucepan. Add the remaining ingredients and heat to a boil while whisking frequently. Reduce heat and simmer about a minute until thickened.

Use this soup in recipes in place of one can of creamed soup.

This recipe is flexible. You can add ingredients such as chicken, mushrooms, celery, or cheese for the kind of cream soup you want. For cream of mushroom soup I have used The Organic Gourmet Wild Mushroom Soup 'N Stock.


October 10, 2008


Gluten-Free Ingredients List

If you are new to the gluten-free diet, it's nice to have a list of ingredients that are gluten-free, and you will quickly learn most of these. A lot has changed in recent years. For example, I used to avoid juices that had citric acid in them because it might not be gluten-free. That is no longer a concern. I also avoided anything that said modified food starch unless I knew from the manufacturer that it was gluten-free. Thanks to research and food labeling laws, our job is a lot easier. Some of these things we now know are always gluten-free. Others that might in rare instances contain wheat will have wheat listed on the label.

Gluten-Free Flours

Buckwheat (it is often combined with wheat flour in pancake mixes)

Other Gluten-Free Ingredients

Carmel color (in the US this is made from corn)
Citric acid
Dextrin (may in rare cases be made from wheat, but label would say so)
Flavors (may in rare cases be made from wheat, but label would say so)
Glucose syrup
Guar gum
Modified food starch (may in rare cases be made from wheat, but label would say so)
Mono and diglycerides
Vinegar (all except for malt vinegar)
Yeast (except for brewer's yeast)
Xanthan gum

Note on the food labeling law: Out of the three gluten-containing grains, wheat, rye, and barley, only wheat is required to be listed on labels. Rye will be pretty obvious, but there are a couple of places where barley could pop up such as malt flavorings and malt vinegar.


October 9, 2008


Pudding Cookies Recipe

gluten-free chocolate pudding cookies
These cookies have been a huge hit at our house this week. On Tuesday my kids needed to take some cookies to a class. I made this recipe using vanilla pudding and chocolate chips. One of my kids said, "They won't even know they're gluten-free." All the cookies were eaten and the report I got was that the kids (teens) really liked them.

The picture shows my most recent version of these cookies with chocolate pudding and white morsels. The kids think these are fabulous, and they don't have to eat gluten-free.

I recently found this recipe at Delightfully Gluten Free. I made one small change and I'm including the combination of flours that I used, but any gluten-free mix should work well. Just use the same total amount of flour.

Pudding Cookies

3/4 c. rice flour
3/4 c. sorghum flour
1/2 c. potato starch
1/4 c. tapioca starch
3/4 tsp. xanthan gum
1 tsp. baking soda

1 c. butter, softened (2 sticks)
1/2 c. white sugar
1/2 c. brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1 small box instant pudding
2 eggs
2 c. (12 oz.) chocolate or other flavor chips (optional)
chopped nuts (optional)

Combine the flours, gum and baking soda in a small bowl. In your mixer bowl, beat the butter and sugar. Add the vanilla and pudding and beat until smooth. Add the eggs and beat again. Gradually add the flour mixture. With a spoon or spatula, stir in the chips and nuts if using. Drop by spoonfuls on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake at 325 degrees for 9-11 minutes.

You can be creative with this recipe by trying different puddings and chips. So far I've only tried the two ways I mentioned above, but I'm definitely going to try some other variations. Let me know if you try something you really like.

Depending on the flour mix you use, you might be able to roll the dough and press it onto the cookie sheet. The sorghum flour makes the dough a little too sticky for this, and they turn out just as well by dropping.


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October 8, 2008


A Couple of Blogging Tips

I have so appreciated the blogging tips I've gotten from Works for me Wednesday, so I thought I'd pass on a couple of tips myself. These tips are easy to implement and can be useful in directing traffic to your blog and keeping it there.

1. Label your pictures. Search engines don't know what a picture is unless you tell them. You can label your picture using key words to help them direct traffic to your blog. This tip also adds a pop up description when someone puts their cursor over the picture.

After composing a post, click on the Edit Html tab (in Blogger). Find where the picture code is and look for alt="". In between the quotation marks add your description. Next, highlight and copy from the equals sign to the last quotation mark. Now move to the end of the picture code and paste it right after border="0" but before />. Go to the beginning of what you just pasted and type the word title in front of the equals sign. That's it.

2. Have your links open in a new window. When you provide links, you are directing people away from your blog. Having the link open in a new window allows people to easily get back to your blog without using the back button.

Go to the edit Html tab. Find the code for the link. You will see href="web address">web address (or whatever you name it). Just after the second quotation mark and before the > enter:

A link to my site would look like this:

href="http://www.glutenfreehomemaker.com/"target="_blank">The Gluten Free Homemaker
I memorized these after using them a few times. However, I find that I forget to label pictures or don't always have time to, but sometimes I go back and do it later.

For more ideas visit Rocks in My Dryer -Works for Me Wednesday.



October 6, 2008


What is Celiac Disease?

I was diagnosed with celiac disease in 2000, and a lot of changes have taken place since then. For those who are looking for general information on the disease, here is a brief overview.

Celiac disease is a genetic autoimmune disease which affects both children and adults. In people with celiac disease, the body reacts to gluten, a protein found in wheat, rye and barley, setting off an autoimmune reaction. This reaction causes the production of antibodies which attack and damage the small intestine. Specifically, damage is done to the villi which line the small intestine and are crucial to the absorption of nutrients.

This damage to the villi can result in diarrhea or constipation, weight loss, other gastrointestinal problems, malnutrition, and failure to thrive (in children). It also affects other organs in the body and can lead to irritability, poor concentration, fatigue, bone and joint problems, anemia, reproductive problems, depression, and problems of the nervous system.

Celiac disease is not an allergy. Allergies can be outgrown. As an autoimmune disease, celiac disease cannot be outgrown. There is no cure and there are currently no drugs to treat it. The good news is that it can be treated with a change in diet. People with celiac disease can lead healthy lives by completely avoiding gluten. Once on a gluten-free diet, the villi in the small intestines will heal over time.

Based on a prevalence study done by the Center for Celiac Research, it is believed that 1 in 133 people have celiac disease. Diagnosis is made through blood tests and small bowel biopsy. The celiac panel blood tests include tissue transglutaminase (tTG) and anti gliadin (AGA) tests. A positive tTG result is very suggestive of celiac disease. A positive AGA result can indicate celiac disease or wheat allergy.

For more information, visit the Center for Celiac Disease Research.

If you have questions, feel free to leave them in the comments section. You can check back for answers or leave your email address so I can contact you directly.


October 3, 2008


Applesauce Cake

This great recipe comes from a fellow blogger at Gluten-free is Life. I've made just a few changes.

Gluten-Free Applesauce Cake

2 1/2 c. gluten free flour mix (I used 1 1/2 c. rice mix and 1 c. sorghum mix)
1 tsp. xanthan gum
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
3/4 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice (I used apple pie spice, but would increase it next time)

1/4 c. butter, softened
1 c. sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 c. applesauce
1/2 c. water
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 c. raisins (optional)(I left these out)
3/4 c. chopped nuts (optional) (I forgot these)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9 x 13 inch pan with cooking spray.

In a small bowl combine the flour and next five ingredients. In your mixing bowl, beat the butter and sugar. Add the eggs and mix. Add the applesauce, water and vanilla and mix. Add the flour mix and beat just until incorporated. With a large spoon or spatula fold in the raisins and nuts.

Pour into the baking pan and bake for 45-50 minutes.

I made a simple glaze using powdered sugar, milk and maple syrup. Gluten-free is Life has a yummy sounding recipe for Maple Nut Frosting.

The cake was soft and moist and everyone wanted seconds. I find that using the two flour mixes together (Bette Hagman's basic mix and Carol Fenster's sorghum mix) gives baked goods a nice texture. The sorghum mix makes a softer product, but sometimes, especially if it's a moist recipe, it gets too soft, almost gummy.

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October 1, 2008


Wrap Racks for Kitchen Storage

I have to admit that one of my weaknesses is buying organizational tools. I see a good organizer in the store, and I always stop to look at it longingly. I'm not super organized, I just like the things you use to get organized.

So for today's kitchen organization edition of Works for Me Wednesday, I thought I would write about wrap racks. For many years I have used these racks which are now hanging on my pantry door. The racks are made to be the right depth for storing boxes of foil and plastic wrap. I put some boxes in for this picture, but if you look closely you will see that my door won't close because the boxes would hit the shelf. In this house I use the racks to store packages of pasta like you see in the top rack. I also have a chip clip stuck on the top rack and a big plastic hook hanging off the bottom rack which holds a small dust brush and pan.

kitchen wrap storage rack

I have found these racks to be an efficient use of space, and they have enabled me to store things that I didn't know what to do with otherwise. The racks are sold at home improvement stores and Amazon.

For more tips see The Kitchen Organization Edition of Works for me Wednesday.



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