SPOOKY SPIDER WEB BROWNIES

I’ve been gluten-free now for over four years, this fall. At this point, very few things sort still give that sting of, “oh, I WISH I could have that.” Aside from living in New Mexico and being a former burritos lover, with no redemption in sight for burritos to eat at fabulous restaurants, I’m okay. It’s our life and it’s okay. Aside from the yearning for cinnamon rolls, which I have yet to even try to attempt, most the time I can make whatever I’m missing.

However, my favorite coffee shop (only coffee shop) Bad Ass Coffee has these cream cheese brownies that are on my left at the register. I usually am fine in a coffee shop full of pastries. To my right, they have an entire case of pastries I can’t have and have learned to ignore- including luscious looking cinnamon rolls. However, these brownies, along with a few others are to the left, just under the pens. They are there staring at me every time I’m in, and it’s gotten to the point, I JUST WANT ONE! Yeah, it’s a silly little brownie, but it’s been four years since I’ve had a cream cheese brownie, and because they’ve always sounded and looked so complicated and daunting, I’ve always felt like I”m eating a super special treat.

Combine that craving with my children’s love of all things Halloween, (which I fail to understand in my four-year old who is afraid of anything scary and bad guys) and you’ve got one determined mom who decided it was time to brave the seeming daunting brownie treat. After scouring the internet for recipes, I discovered these aren’t daunting at all. Furthermore, the proportions are the same in almost any site I looked at. I didn’t end up following a single site exactly, I went with what I thought sounded good. Some use 8oz of cream cheese and make a true layered brownie, others use 4 oz of cream cheese to make more of a marbled brownie. In the end, after reading about 10 recipes online, I went with the common proportions and am pretty pleased with the results. I also went boxed, even though yes, there are plenty of from scratch recipes (all gluten of course). These are so easy, you’re going to love them! And they look really cool! I did discover a few tricks while reading though all the sites, several of which suggest you line the pan. It’s brilliant. I’m a chewy, slightly under-baked brownie person, so they usually stick to the pan. With your pretty web, you don’t want them to stick. Also, they cut so perfectly when you line the pan, it’s one of those brilliant, why have I been baking brownies for 20 years without figuring this out??? moments. This is also a great way for sweet meaning gluten friends to make you a treat without accidentally contaminating you. (so feel free to share that tip with them!)

Without further ado, here is the method for your Spooky Spider web brownies. Have fun! (For those hoping for a Diary Free version, I don’t have one, but you might try playing with the recipe I found online when someone asked on my Facebook page (Dairy Free Cream Cheese Brownies)

Spider Web Brownies

I used a mix that uses an 8×8 or 9×9 pan. I wanted them thick, and I wanted a square to make the web. The web would look fun in a 9×13, especially if you put it a bit off-center. You may have to adjust your cream cheese topping. It depends how thick you want the cream cheese layer.
Equipment
foil
preferred oil or spray to grease
Pampered Chef Pastry Tool, Pastry Bag, or cupcake/pancake pen
Bamboo skewer

Ingredidents
*1 box brownie mix (I used King Arthur Gluten Free Brownie mix)
*ingredients according to package
*substitutes for ingredients if you wish instead of water in this batch, I used Kaluha. You could also use espresso and then put Irish Cream in your Cream cheese. I rarely use the water anymore, I use something to bring a flavor in.
Cream Cheese Layer
*8 oz cream cheese (room temperature)
*1 egg beaten (room temperature -to help bring the egg to temp, i place it in a cup on my stove as the oven preheats, then crack and beat to add)
*1/3 c sugar (several sites use 1/4 cup if you’d like to reduce your sugar)
*1 tsp gluten-free vanilla (or gluten-free liqueur of your choice)

Prep
* Spray your foil that’s big enough to line your 8×8 pan plus provide you handles for removal. I used coconut oil spray. I used one sheet instead of crossing two over even though the foil only goes 1/2 up the sides. Because the brownies shrink away from the side they won’t stick to your pan, so, no need to waste foil. Then place it in the pan. I sprayed first because I don’t usually spray my pans due to spray making them sticky. Since the foil only goes 1/2 up, I wanted to make sure it the spray didn’t touch the pan.

* Get your pastry bag (less recommended as it might get hard to get the batter into it.) Pampered Chef tool or Cupcake pen assembled. Choose the widest tip
* Make your brownies according to directions on the package. Spread into the pan reserving about 1/3 cup of brownie mix. Because we are making a web and because we are using a tool that will be more precise, you won’t need to reserve as much as you might be used to.

* with a hand mixer (my Kitchenaid Stand mixer wouldn’t get the lumps out) whip your cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla (or other flavoring) together. Once the cream cheese is free of lumps add your beaten egg and mix on low-med until just incorporated.

* Smooth your cream cheese mixture over the brownie mixture trying to completely cover it

* Take the reserved brownie mix and put it into your prepared tool. I used the Pampered Chef Icing tool and filled it only about 1/4 the way. I used a wide tip, but you could also use the filling tool if you wanted a more refined line.
* Starting with the middle draw circles on the cream cheese mixture. Leave 1 inch as much as possible around the edge. The brownie mix will spread, so it depends on how you want your web to look.

* take a bamboo skewer and begin from the center drawing lines out. If you used a hollow circle in the center, you may wish to start at the edges of the pan and bring the web in.
* go around the pan until you’ve created a spider web


If you want a more solid middle, you can add another dollop of batter in the middle at the end, like I did here. If you want it to have more defined lines, don’t add the dollop.

Bake at 325-350 (according to brownie mix instructions) for 30-35 minutes. With mine, they took approx 30-35 minutes at around 335. A lot of recipes recommend the 325, most baked goods are at 350. With the cream cheese, you are dealing with it browning too quickly or underdone brownies. because you want the brownies to cook, I think your best bet will be to go with the brownie instructions and keep an eye on the cream cheese layer.

Once brownies are set and only slight crumb or nothing comes out on your tester, remove and let cool completely (yeah, that’s important in this recipe or the cream cheese won’t set). Once they’ve set up about 10-15 minutes, you can remove brownies using the foil from the pan and put them on a cooling rack.

Cut and enjoy! Happy Halloween!

Thanks always for reading! Oh by the way, my new favorite blog to read is Nicole Hunn’s GlutenFree on a Shoestring She’s not only funny to read, but she’s putting up some incredibly cute recipes for Halloween.

Product REVIEW: Red Apple Lipstick and Eyeshadow and FLASH GIVEAWAY!

Gluten in Makeup- it’s a hot topic these days. I’ve seen a few articles in magazines and online. Some people insisting gluten is important to remove, while gastrointerolgoists still state that they haven’t seen enough evidence to recommend that makeup could affect the gluten intolerant and specifically the celiac population. Of course they are basing that statement on the fact that they don’t see more damage in the small intestine. Nonetheless, celiac disease is an AUTOIMMUNE disease that attacks the small intestine…..and as we see that with diseases like Graves, the autoimmune factor can still play a roll even if there is no thyroid to attack, it makes sense that keeping your immune system happy and not exposing it to gluten is crucial, especially since makeup or lotion covers lymph nodes and is near mucus membranes, which are parts of the immune system. (The skin itself is actually part of the immune system as well!) In addition, there has been plenty of anecdotal evidence and enough “common sense” information that women ingest their lipstick (think lip lickers, eating, etc.) that I still believe it’s crucial to have gluten-free makeup and cosmetics. Two year ago, I wrote an article on this blog, Are Your Lipstick, Conditioner, or Lotion making you sick? and I still stand by that.

In fact, just today, Elana Amsterdam posted an article about gluten in lipstick. She mentions a few lines I’ve tried. Mineral Fusion has some lovely, earthy colors, but is drying. Zuzu Luxe has an add on gluten-free sticker for their display in the store, but when you look on their site, they have a gluten-free symbol for all the cosmetics, but seem to only claim the lipstick as “gluten free.” So at this point, I personally don’t trust the purity and I’ve had problems with that line. There are several other lines that claim gluten-free but use ingredients such as Oats. I saw one line try to claim gluten-free with “barley” clearly listed in the ingredients. The bottom line is that the cosmetic industry is even less educated about gluten than the food industry. I picked up a “Cosmetic Dictionary” once only to see it define “gluten: a protein found in wheat flour.” Yikes! So, you (the celiac or gluten intolerant consumer) have to know exactly what you are buying when you buy a Gluten-free claimed cosmetic or body care because cosmetic claims are even more unregulated than food claims. And that’s a challenge because of the chemical names and herbal names (Latin??) That most of us don’t understand. Thus,
Companies that put on their websites and on the product, “TESTED free of Gluten” are by far my first choice.

Another point to realize is that most people are starting to worry about the lipstick because most people lick their lips and ingest the lipstick specifically. However, I’m a firm believer that if your body doesn’t like gluten, you’re not doing your largest organ (your skin) any favor by smothering gluten all over it. Besides, how many times do you run your hands through your hair typing or looking at something only to put your fingers to those lips? How many of us kiss a loved one on the cheek or the tops of our sweet children’s hair? I get sick with gluten in my body care. End of story. My son breaks out in bloody, oozy scales even with a small amount of oat in any body care. I hope the doctors will catch up with their understanding how much the exterior of our bodies matter, but in the meantime, there are some great products paving the way despite the lack of research.

Good gluten-free lipstick is difficult to find, partly because it’s difficult to know which ones to trust. It turns out, one company gets it. Red Apple Lipstick. They not only realize what Gluten is, but they take huge precautions to ensure their cosmetics are gluten-free. Red Apple Lipstick guarantees a 100% gluten-free, paraben free, vegan and a toxin free lip and eyeshadow line. In fact, while some companies “claim” gluten free, Red Apple certifies and lab tests their gluten-free cosmetics. Their FAQ page states: (safe for celiac) 100%. You should never have to worry about any Red Apple cosmetics. They are all lab tested to include spot testing, batch testing and rigorous procedures to keep cross contamination out.”

The product line is also soy free. Apparently they do have some regular lip pencils that contain soy, but the rest of the line is soy free. I’m beginning to look for Soy Free makeup, lotion, and hair care not only because of the GMO usage of soy, but because soy is a phytoestrogen which can disrupt hormone balance. As I said earlier, makeup coats or is near your lymph nodes and mucus membranes, so it makes sense to me to keep toxic ingredients, such as parabens and soy away from these important parts of your immune system. Soy is also one of the big 8 allergens and is in so many products, that I prefer to avoid it as much as possible in order to keep my exposure down.

Back in August, Red Apple debuted eye shadows. I’ve been using loose mineral eye shadows for a few years, that while pretty tend to put dust in my eyes and cause irritation. I actually had to stop wearing contacts if I wanted to wear eyeshadow. So, I was excited to see a pressed eye shadow finally available. I purchased one of the Smokey Magic Foreshadow pallettes, a Ruby Slippers lipstick, Firestorm lipgloss, and the sale included a Ralleybalm and wet-dry eye shadow brush for free.

I had no idea what to expect with this makeup. The colors were some of the prettiest I’ve seen in a gluten-free line. When I opened the Ruby Slippers, I was amazed. This lipstick glides on silky and smells luscious. My lips stay silky for several hours, and keep a lovely color. It’s a beautiful, red-tinged color with a shimmer that brightens up my entire face. When I tried the firestorm lipgloss, I felt sassy. It has a pop that you rarely get in a lipgloss. Left to right- Firestorm lipgloss, Firestorm Lipgloss and Ruby Slippers, Ruby Slippers 2 swipes, Ruby Slippers several swipes. (Please click on the link in the previous paragraph above to see what a beautiful color it is!) It’s a fun color which is more solid than most lipglosses, but has a huge gloss and shimmer factor. It has plenty of color to be worn alone. Here are the colors on my arm so you can see the comparisons. However, the RAL picture on the site provides a much prettier picture.

One of the things I love about the RAL eyeshadows is that they are fantastic quality, seem to be lasting, and when you purchase a foreshadow it comes with application instructions.

I’ve always prefered pressed shadow over loose, so it’s nice to get a mineral pressed shadow. These colors can be as subtle or bright as you want. They mix well with water to create a quick dramatic look, or use without to create a much more subtle look. I’ve found that even if I wish to apply the gray and blue dry, I prefer to use water to apply the buttercream.  I’ve had this Buttercream for ButterCreamalmost 2 months now, and it looks barely touched even though I use it every day. I also think using water allows for a more precise application.

 

 

Here are some swatch samples from the foreshadow- Smokey Magic. The first picture is shadows swiped several times without water.

 

In this second picture, shadows are swiped once or twice with a wet brush. You’ll notice a line of black as well. I took an angled brush and used the black with water to create a quick eyeliner. I love multipurpose makeup!

RAL’s Ralleye Balm is also lovely. I have the tub because that’s what came with my order, but I’ll probably eventually grab a stick for more control. Regardless if you prefer a tub or stick, it’s a great product to have on hand. I’m waiting for the new fall colors to come out to send in my drying lipsticks for RALs LipStick Exchange, but the Ralleye balm actually helped me to use the other products with much more comfort.

One of the things that must be a priority when switching from gluten containing makeup to gluten-free is to change out your brushes….all of them. Unfortunately, that does add up quite a bit. The problem is, you don’t want to contaminate your pure, tested gluten-free makeup with gluten all over again. Ulta has some brushes on sale at the moment if you need to make that leap. I use EcoTools for most of my makeup brushes, which aren’t on sale from what I can tell. I think Walgreens also sells the EcoTools. They are reasonably priced and last well. However, RAL carries a fantastic wet-dry eyeshadow brush. If it doesn’t end up in their sale tomorrow as a free gift, make sure to add one to your basket. It’s multipurpose and allows me to use quite a few techniques with this one brush depending if I add water or not. It’s one of my favorite brushes and I can use it in many ways.

It’s crucial to let go of those favorites and embrace all new, pure, clean product. Don’t mix your old brushes that contain gluten with your lovely new makep. And don’t mix gluten makeup with gluten-free. You contaminate your gluten-free makeup when you use the brush over your face that has the gluten makeup on it. (In other words, new foundation, new blush, new brushes too.)

One more important hint I want include: speaking of contamination, with the wet-dry, I personally do not use tap water. Our water is horrible in my city; I frequently find lots of floaties in my cups as well as mold and white rings in left out glass from watering the plants. I do not want to use regular tap water because I’m concerned my products will become contaminated with ickys and mold from our water. So, to keep my shadows safer, I use a 16 oz bottled water. I keep the water on my counter and then use the cap. It seems to provide the perfect amount of water and you can tap the side. At one point I had tried to use a shot glass with purified water and was losing a lot of eyeshadow. I’ve found I waste less shadow by limiting how wet my brush gets. Keeping a paper towel close by to help wipe off remainder of the shadow and to clean the brush is helpful as well.

Since I follow RAL on Facebook, I know they are releasing some new lipsticks and eye colors for the fall on Friday. I believe they will also be offering some fantastic discounts. I wanted to make sure to get the review of the products up before the sale because I enjoy the products, I believe it’s incredibly important to get gluten out of your body care and cosmetics and I love helping small companies. This was an unsolicited review I personally wanted to time with the sale. The products reviewed are from my personal purchase.

I hope this is a helpful review, especially for anyone who recently went gluten-free. I’m hoping RAL will eventually add blush and foundations. However, if you need something, in order to take your makeup line completely gluten-free, I’d suggest Afterglow Cosmetics or Mineral Fusion for the foundation and blushes. If you need to go inexpensive, you might try the Mineral fusion. They seem to have lovely brushes. Vitamin Cottage, and Sprouts sell them as well as Whole Foods. All three are pretty good about accepting returns if you don’t like them and not badly priced. They are probably most reasonable at Vitamin Cottage/Natural Grocers. Until RAL introduces a complete line, I use Afterglow and it compliments nicely with the RAL eyeshadows and lipsticks. I’ve used the Afterglow eyeshadows and lipsticks. While they are okay, I have decided to make the switch to RAL for my lip and eye needs. The products feel better on my face, RAL has more color in their lipsticks, and I think the quality of those lines are better from RAL. I’m looking forward to see what else they put out.

AND A SURPRISE- I contacted Red Apple Lipstick while I was writing the review to see if they’d be interested in sponsoring a giveaway in time for their sale. That means this giveaway is a flash giveaway so that the winners can get the best bang for their prize. Red Apple is going to give TWO $25 gift certificates to two separate winners- I will pick the winner TOMORROW Friday Evening, Sept 28, 12 about 7pm MST, so the winners have have time to shop and everyone else can still get the best of the sale. That means, I need help getting this giveaway and review posted on facebook and tweeted like wildfire. (To be able to access the sale, you need to join their VIP list which is on their site and they also have it listed how on their page. I joined last month and they are great about not sending you a lot of email. The only email I’ve gotten is info on the VIP sale and a coupon for this month!)
edit: Giveaway is closed. Thanks for entering.
So, to enter-
Required Enter a comment below telling me if you’ve gone gluten-free in your cosmetics and if not, why?
Bonus go to RedApple Lipstick and tell me which colors you’d want to try or which products
bonus Share on facebook, come back and tell me in the comments that you did
bonus Like RAL on Facebook and let me know you did
bonus tweet this giveaway link on twitter, and add @GfAdvocate and @RedAppleLipstic- then add a comment that you did

The rules are simple- You must comment for each entry on this page because I’m picking from this post and the comments only. I’ll use a random generator to pick the winners. Only one household per winner. Gift certificate is subject to RAL’s use and terms for their gift certificates, as well as geographic terms for RAL. I believe they only ship to the U.S. However, if I misunderstood, I will open the contest to wherever they ship.

disclaimer: The products reviewed were purchased at my expense. I’m incredibly impressed with the product and happy to help promote a company that cares about it’s customers and that’s made in the US. I approached RAL to see if they’d be interested in gifting my readers, and they accepted. I created the terms of the giveaway. I hope you’ll enjoy taking a look at their site and their products.
Thanks as always for reading.

Product Review: LUNA Protein Bar (and GIVEAWAY!)

It’s interesting when you take a sabbatical from anything. For me, this nine-month sabbatical from my blog started with exhaustion and health issues, then went to that Point-Of-View crisis with “what do I REALLY want this blog to be about????!!!!”  Finally, it crossed into realm of not knowing how to start up again. I’ve written a new blog post in my head every day for the last 9 months, but I either wasn’t ready to “tell THAT story,” or was still wrestling with my point of view.

Recently it occurred to me that we’ve entered our fourth year gluten-free and with Celiac Awareness day, I figured now is the perfect time to dive back in. How about a product review on something we buy often and a giveaway!

LUNA bars- I’m a protein bar, meal bar gal. When I was pregnant with my kids, they kept me sane. When we are darting off in the morning, late for school, I love having a bar to grab if my blood sugar is too low. I’m not much of a snacker, but when I am, I tend to go for the sweets, so a sweet tasting protein bar is a win-win for me. I’m eating protein for my body; I’m getting something sweet for that psychological need.

One of my favorite brands before I went gluten-free four-years ago was LUNA. I still remember the taste of their Lemon Zest Bar. Ooooh, that white coating with the lemon zing. Yum! I loved the Smores as well. Of course when King Soopers had the 10 for $10, i grabbed a several boxes of them. LUNA Bars were definitely one of my favorite treats. When I went gluten-free, I was stuck with protein bars that only medical professionals could buy because of the high vitamin content; the only one I could stomach was a chocolate mint.

So, in 2011 when LUNA changed their protein Bars to a gluten-free product, I was ecstatic. Where I live in New Mexico, we are two to three months/years behind the rest of the country. Things come in slow, so I had to wait a few months before I had the chance to try the bars, but as soon as I saw them, I bought one of each flavor. LUNA Protein Bars come in 5 flavors–Chocolate Peanut Butter, Chocolate, Cookie Dough, Chocolate Cherry Almond, Mint Chocolate Chip. YES, I had to do a double check the label on the “cookie dough” flavor, but yes, it’s gluten free!

The Chocolate Peanut butter reminds me of a rich peanut butter fudge enrobed in chocolate. I’d say it’s one of their more rich and indulgent flavors. The Chocolate Bar is chocolate all the way and  definitely will give a chocolate fix in the afternoon. The Cookie Dough is a fun escape from the gluten-free mindset. It’s not wet like cookie dough, (and luckily you don’t have the raw egg issue either), but it’s got that fun cookie dough taste, and a thick chewy texture that is reminiscent of cookie dough. Before I opened the packaging, I pleaded with the bar that it would somehow really taste like cookie dough, and that first bite shocked my taste buds and my brain. “I’m eating cookie dough!”

Chocolate Cherries for a Lucky Gal

I’m a Chocolate Cherry covered kinda gal too. Chocolate and cherries, those will win me over. It’s not quite like chocolate covered cherries, but it’s an indulgent treat with a hint of marzipan flavor (tho less sweet and sticky) with cherries rolled in and coated in chocolate. It’s one of those divine flavor combinations. Unfortunately, this flavor has been very difficult to find in New Mexico. Our stores are only carrying the Mint, the Cookie Dough, and sometimes the Peanut Butter. However, every once in a while, I get to enjoy the Chocolate Cherry Almond. While I’m happy to share any of the other flavors with my family, if I end up with a Chocolate Cherry Almond bar, It’s mine! I hide it. I hoard it. Don’t touch my Chocolate Cherry Almond Protein bar!

And then, you have Mint Chocolate Chip. It might be the closest thing a person eating gluten-free can get to a Girl Scout Mint thin that you can buy, if you aren’t in the mood to bake. And you can get that taste year round! You won’t get the addictive crunch (which is good right, because the crunch is part of the addiction, so it’s a calorie saver), but you get that chocolate-cookie-mint taste that helps your mind escape back to pre-gluten free indulgence of those delightful cookies. I did accidentally squish one once….and it tasted even more like a Thin-Mint. So you could try that if you really want a Thin-Mint fix.

The bars contain whey and soy proteins. They seem to have struck a good balance between the two proteins. I tend to have tummy trouble with too much whey or soy protein. And I’m extremely grateful they use ONLY NON-GMO ingredients. The Parent company is CLIFF, and they were also a favorite of mine before I went gluten-free because they source quality ingredients, and they have fun unique flavors like Carrot Cake for protein bars. My kids love the CLIFF fruit ropes and a few other goodies that are gluten-free. I usually try to steer away from Soy Protein because most soy is GMO, so I’m thrilled that LUNA Protein Bars don’t use GMO soy. LUNA has a great FAQ on their site which explains more about these bars, including allergy info, quality, ingredients, etc.

Beautifully packaged treat from Luna

Last year, I received a surprise package on Sept 13, with three LUNA Protein Bars in it. On the Package, it said, “Happy Celiac Awareness Day!” That was a really fun moment to help pause a crazy day. With all the companies jumping on the “gluten-free trend” without understanding why gluten-free needs to mean gluten-free,  I greatly appreciate that LUNA is stepping to the forefront with Celiac Awareness and promoting a product they have designed that tastes good, has nutritional benefits, and helps spread Celiac Awareness because it can be a very devastating disease when it goes undiagnosed. So, when they sent me the “Happy Celiac Awareness Day” box in August this year, with a note that offered to contact them if we were interested in doing a review or giveaway for September 13, I did. This is a product I buy often, so I was excited to be able to do a review with a giveaway attached.

The bars themselves are fairly small. They are not made to be a meal replacement like other brands are. They are a tad smaller than some of the other protein bars out there. The calories are 170, but the 12 grams of protein are a great way to help have a snack that will sustain you. You don’t want to grab one of these bars when you are starving though. It’s better as a snack before your are starving….once you hit the starving mode, you’ll want two or three. (Yeah, I’ve had two or three). That’s probably fine if you are using it for a meal replacement (just remember these are protein bars -don’t want too much whey- and they also have vitamins as well). However, if you don’t want to have excessive calories, I’d suggest timing your snack before being super hungry.

I’ve seen some stores carry them for $1.19 to $1.69. For the size, I find that upper price frustrating, but that’s not LUNA’s price, it’s the stores. I do my best to grab them on either 10 for $10 sales or at the $1.19 price point. Albertsons’ seems to sell them for around the $1.19. They seem most expensive at Sunflower Market and Target, if I remember. (I don’t shop Whole Foods, so I can’t say what they cost there.) As I said before, I do have a tough time finding all five flavors in New Mexico. However, Amazon carries them for various prices, includes them in the Subscribe and Save. A few of the flavors are actually a little higher price on Amazon than I like to pay, but I can’t find the Chocolate Cherry anywhere, so I consider it an option, especially since I have Prime and don’t pay shipping. While I was looking up a few things about the bars, I also discovered LUNA has an online store as well, so you can purchase directly from their parent company Cliff. They are 14.95, which makes the bars come out to $1.24 before shipping. One of my biggest disappointments is that the stores don’t carry all the flavors. So, I’ll be bugging my stores a bit more for some of the other flavors and keeping an eye out for those 10 for $10 sale, which I think is the best price for their size.

Our family enjoys them a great deal. I do give them to my children, especially my son because it’s difficult to get him to eat and the protein is helpful. LUNA’s official statement is that the bars are more for adults, but both my kids also are deficient in some vitamins, so I’m personally comfortable with the ratios of vitamins, protein and minerals for them. We also don’t have them every day- they are a treat. My children both LOVE the Mint Chocolate Chip and the Cookie Dough.

Here, I took a picture of the Cookie Dough Protein bar. You can see the texture looks like cookie dough a bit. They are small, but tasty. If I could change two things about these bars, I’d make them bigger and have more flavors. I like them that much, I want just one or two more bites in the bar. And Luna has such amazing flavor profiles in their regular bars, I’d love to see them add some of those or expand more amazing combinations into the LUNA Protein Bar line- especially for those of us who are limited in our flavor and company choices.

Cookie Dough LUNA Bar- YUM

I hope that LUNA will consider adding more flavors, especially a Chocolate Coconut- reminiscent of a mounds bar, a Lemon Meringue Pie. and maybe something akin to Snickers Bars too since Snickers adds barley to their caramel. I would definitely enjoy those flavor escapes.

To celebrate Celiac Awareness Day and my return to blogging, Luna is graciously giving away a box of bars to two of my readers. Please read below for details. Since September 13 is Celiac Awareness day, I also thought I’d mention that LUNA is hosting a gluten free webcast with LUNA’s in–house nutritionist Tara DelloIacono Thies, and Delight Gluten Free magazine’s executive editor, Vanessa Maltin Weisbrod on Tuesday, 9/18 at 9:30 am PST – it will be all about living a gluten free lifestyle and nutrition tips. If we are going to inform and educate people about celiac, they will need a starting place if gluten-free becomes their life too! You or your friends you’ve make aware can RSVP to LUNAWebcast@accesspr.com.

Thank you as always for reading. I appreciate you greatly, and thank you to those who have followed my blog and been patient while I’ve been away.

How to enter
LUNA is giving away a full box of bars to two different people.
required entry:: leave a comment below telling me how long you’ve been gluten-free and what LUNA Protein Bar flavor you’d like to try or that’s your favorite.
optional second (appreciated) entry:Tweet this giveaway with my Twitter name @GFAdvocate, then add a comment that you did (comment must be added to qualify the tweet)
Optional third entry: Share the giveaway (marked public) on Facebook, come back and add a comment on this blog that you did to qualify the share.
Bonus entry: Share what you are doing to help spread Celiac Awareness in the comments below. Legitimate links to blog sites welcome. (I’ll figure how to get Comment Luv enabled soon, I hope).

The giveaway will close Sunday Sept 16 at 11:59 MST. I will email and announce the winners on Monday using a randomizer picker. Each winner will be emailed on Monday with a request for their flavor and their shipping information. I will use a random generator to pick the winner. There will be two separate winners. The winner will have until Wed the 19th to send me their information or I will email a new winner on Thursday and the prize for the original winner will be forfeit. Neither I nor LUNA are responsible for issues with shipping.

Disclaimer LUNA did provide me with samples and is sponsoring this giveaway. They also provided me with some photos for the post. However, I purchase LUNA bars often and am honored they invited me host a giveaway for my readers. Thank you for reading, and good luck!

Please do NOT add your email address to the comment. When you fill out the form, you include your email, which I can use to contact you. YOu don’t need to put your email in the comment. YOu can keep that private. :D thanks

A Glutenfree Christmas Wish List for those who waited till the last minute

I should know better.  Christmas season is no surprise….it comes the same date every year.  So, I really should not be getting gifts at the very last minute (and maybe even a few after the fact), but I do.  And I CAN do the budget thing; I’ve tried a few times to do the save a bit every month so you can have a great Christmas.  But in the end, I still end up shuffling things around and stressing on the Dec 15 pay day to try to do Christmas on that pay check and still pay my bills.  This year, I’m particularly bad, but by the looks of the lines in the stores, I’m not the only one.  So, for those of you just like me, who have a gluten-free spouse or friend….here is my *WISH* list and a few other things that I’d recommend to help  inspire you.

My Wish List– feel inspired to run with it and adapt for your friends!

  • waffle iron –  yes, usually these are one of those appliances that get pulled out once a year….Maybe Christmas.  However, I miss grilled cheese.  This wish insipired when I visited a little tiny cafe, called The Mouse Pad in Johnstown, CO last summer.  She made these incredible waffle sandwiches. If you use Pamela’s Waffle and baking mix, plus some fresh herbs, you have the finest Panani bread you can possibly imagine.  You can make any of those delicous sandwiches in the William’s & Sonoma Fall catalog.  Bring back the Ham and Cheese or a grilled cheese.  Make sure to include a big bag of Pamela’s baking mix.  (When it comes to Gluten free- it’s so HELPFUL to get the flour or baking mix, etc.!)
  • griddle and panini press- this would round out the waffle iron gift.  make the waffles, then set them on the griddle and press down the cheese and oooy goodness.  I’m drooling already! Plus, I can make my own corn tortillas since I have a press and love making the tortillas, but have a too small comal.
  • TOP WISH!    Chef’s quality Anti-fatigue Mats- anyone new to glutenfree baking or who bakes a lot would deeply appreciate these.  I’m on my feet so much more since going glutenfree and double that now for dd who is in kindergarten and we are doing so many cupcakes, etc.  My feet hurt.  This would be one of those wonderful gifts and you would bless anyone with these.
  • Harry and David Fruit of the Month club – I don’t know why, but I have always wanted one of  their fruit of the month clubs.  Considering fruit is glutenfree, this would be a treat.  Those pears are incredible and the other fruits sound so divine.
  • Crockpot and Stephanie O-Dea’s Make it Fast, Cook it Slow crock pot cook book.  My crockpot broke this fall….and for people who are super busy and need to learn gluten free, this might be a fantastic gift.
  • Cake Pop and Caramel Apple Kits from Chocoley Chocolate.  You’ve missed the shipping window for those to arrive by christmas, but they’d be a very welcome gift to people if anyone is trying to actually learn how to do cake pops.
  • New Laptop- That would be why you haven’t seen me post much lately.  System issues. However, for friends who blog or are glutenfree (ok, this is probabably a spouse gift!)  a new system that plays nice with the blogging programs (forgive any mis-spellings in this post; the new wordpress isn’t playing nice with my browser!   You could make blogger very happy.
  • 2nd TOP WISH!  Website customization- if your friend or spouse blogs and they are on a wordpress.com account, or blogger, etc….what a neat gift if you help upgrade their blog.  That is sort of my next step, and another reason I haven’t posted as much as I’d like.  I’m trying to figure out how to move mine over to my own domain.  Blogging is one of those things that helps people get through the glutenfree transition.
  • A gift certificate to an e-course called Inside Out- I did a write up of this class for the fall course and it’s something special. Right now they she is offering an amazing 2-fer deal that people might want to take advantage of.
  • Jules Shepard from Jules GlutenFree Flour – Free for ALL Cooking Book  (if you go this route for a friend, be sure to check out her new Daily Deals and grab some gluten-free flour to go with he book).  It’s so much easier to do something glutenfree with the tools, or the special flour!  Jules also has an article on her blog with lots of fantastic ideas from tools to books.  Of course, her blog is a wealth of information. So, make sure to check out her latest review of a few new cookbooks and her picks for Great GlutenFree Gifts for more ideas!  You can also see her list of Recommended Products.
  • A cake decorating class- somewhere that would be willing to work with someone glutenfree.  I want to learn how to decorate the cupcakes for my kids since I will be doing most their cakes and cupcakes for the next 18 years!
  • Non-food related things such as some canvas prints for some photos I took during the Balloon Fiesta this fall.  I actually won 2nd place in their contest and I think I’ve found a new hobby!
  • Mommy What is Celiac Disease- by katie Chalmers
  • Subscriptions to Living Without, Delight GlutenFree, and/or Glutenfree Living
  • Gift Certificate to AfterGlow Cosmetics – I love this company and their makeup!   Other mineral makups make me feel like I want sandpaper for a washcloth.    These are just lovely and luscious.   There are FINALLY some articles coming out about how lipstick and makeup can affect us.  I’ve known it the hard way for over a year, but research always has to catch up with what people figure out.  It’s very expensive to replace ALL your makeup because it’s everything and at once.  So, this could really help someone if they have decided to transition over to glutenfree makeup.  If you buy a gift certificte for someone to help them change out their makeup,  if you can afford it consider also buying some nice brushes for them too.  I’m so thankful my makeup advisor reminded me of that.   They will need to replace ALL their brushes, otherwise, they just contaminate their new glutenfree makeup.

Other things I suggest, but am already blessed with

  • The Almond Flour Cookbook and the Almond Flour Cupcake books by Elana Amsterdam.  Make sure to include a bag of Almond flour for them!   If you have Prime, You can still get both these in time!
  • Heidi Kelly over at Adventures of a Gluten Free Mom posted on Facebook the other day that Santa came early with Adobe Lightroom and a macro lens for her!   That is a FOOD bloggers’ dream…..Lightroom makes things so much easier to work with.  A macro, so much fun.  I’d love to get a 105 Nikon, so that should be up top.  We do already have Lightroom and love it.
  • Pampered Chef tools- some of them are very helpful for glutenfree cooking.  I use the taco meat turner for just about anything else including separating my almond flour if it clumps and it worked really well to break up the cake for my first attempt at cake balls.
  • Asian Cooking sauces that are naturally gluten free- I haven’t written up much on these yet, but check out Meals-in-a-Minute for some amazing sauces to help eat healthy at the beginning of the year!
  • Wow, I can’t believe I almost forgot a Kitchen-Aid Stand mixer.  I didn’t use mine when I first went glutenfree, but as I began to experiment it has become an essential tool.  Love it.

What Glutenfree Goodies am I missing that you want for Christmas or that would be a great gift for someone?

Make sure to check out the Home for the Holidays Blogging Event- these giveaways are inspiring and have great gift ideas!

Thanks for reading and Merry Christmas!   Or Happy Hanakkah and definitely a Happy New Year!

A Glutenfree Christmas Wish List for those who waited till the last minute

I should know better.  Christmas season is no surprise….it comes the same date every year.  So, I really should not be getting gifts at the very last minute (and maybe even a few after the fact), but I do.  And I CAN do the budget thing; I’ve tried a few times to do the save a bit every month so you can have a great Christmas.  But in the end, I still end up shuffling things around and stressing on the Dec 15 pay day to try to do Christmas on that pay check and still pay my bills.  This year, I’m particularly bad, but by the looks of the lines in the stores, I’m not the only one.  So, for those of you just like me, who have a gluten-free spouse or friend….here is my *WISH* list and a few other things that I’d recommend to help  inspire you.

My Wish List– feel inspired to run with it and adapt for your friends!

  • waffle iron –  yes, usually these are one of those appliances that get pulled out once a year….Maybe Christmas.  However, I miss grilled cheese.  This wish inspired when I visited a little tiny cafe, called The Mouse Pad in Johnstown, CO last summer.  She made these incredible waffle sandwiches. If you use Pamela’s Waffle and baking mix, plus some fresh herbs, you have the finest Panini bread you can possibly imagine.  You can make any of those delicious sandwiches in the William’s & Sonoma Fall catalog.  Bring back the Ham and Cheese or a grilled cheese.  Make sure to include a big bag of Pamela’s baking mix.  (When it comes to Gluten free- it’s so HELPFUL to get the flour or baking mix, etc.!)
  • griddle and Panini press- this would round out the waffle iron gift.  make the waffles, then set them on the griddle and press down the cheese and oooy goodness.  I’m drooling already! Plus, I can make my own corn tortillas since I have a press and love making the tortillas, but have a too small comal.
  • TOP WISH!    Chef’s quality Anti-fatigue Mats- anyone new to gluten-free baking or who bakes a lot would deeply appreciate these.  I’m on my feet so much more since going gluten-free and double that now for dd who is in kindergarten and we are doing so many cupcakes, etc.  My feet hurt.  This would be one of those wonderful gifts and you would bless anyone with these.
  • Harry and David Fruit of the Month club – I don’t know why, but I have always wanted one of  their fruit of the month clubs.  Considering fruit is gluten-free, this would be a treat.  Those pears are incredible and the other fruits sound so divine.
  • Crockpot and Stephanie O-Dea’s Make it Fast, Cook it Slow crock pot cook book.  My crockpot broke this fall….and for people who are super busy and need to learn gluten free, this might be a fantastic gift.
  • Cake Pop and Caramel Apple Kits from Chocoley Chocolate.  You’ve missed the shipping window for those to arrive by christmas, but they’d be a very welcome gift to people if anyone is trying to actually learn how to do cake pops.
  • New Laptop- That would be why you haven’t seen me post much lately.  System issues. However, for friends who blog or are gluten-free (ok, this is probably a spouse gift!)  a new system that plays nice with the blogging programs (forgive any mis-spellings in this post; the new WordPress isn’t playing nice with my browser!   You could make blogger very happy.
  • 2nd TOP WISH!  Website customization- if your friend or spouse blogs and they are on a wordpress.com account, or blogger, etc….what a neat gift if you help upgrade their blog.  That is sort of my next step, and another reason I haven’t posted as much as I’d like.  I’m trying to figure out how to move mine over to my own domain.  Blogging is one of those things that helps people get through the gluten-free transition.
  • A gift certificate to an e-course called Inside Out- I did a write up of this class for the fall course and it’s something special. Right now they she is offering an amazing 2-fer deal that people might want to take advantage of.
  • Jules Shepard from Jules GlutenFree Flour – Free for ALL Cooking Book  (if you go this route for a friend, be sure to check out her new Daily Deals and grab some gluten-free flour to go with he book).  It’s so much easier to do something gluten-free with the tools, or the special flour!
  • A cake decorating class- somewhere that would be willing to work with someone gluten-free.  I want to learn how to decorate the cupcakes for my kids since I will be doing most their cakes and cupcakes for the next 18 years!
  • Non-food related things such as some canvas prints for some photos I took during the Balloon Fiesta this fall.  I actually won 2nd place in their contest and I think I’ve found a new hobby!
  • Mommy What is Celiac Disease- by katie Chalmers
  • Subscriptions to Living Without, Delight GlutenFree, and/or Glutenfree Living
  • Gift Certificate to AfterGlow Cosmetics – I love this company and their makeup!   Other mineral makeups make me feel like I want sandpaper for a washcloth.    These are just lovely and luscious.   There are FINALLY some articles coming out about how lipstick and makeup can affect us.  I’ve known it the hard way for over a year, but research always has to catch up with what people figure out.  It’s very expensive to replace ALL your makeup because it’s everything and at once.  So, this could really help someone if they have decided to transition over to gluten-free makeup.  If you buy a gift certificate for someone to help them change out their makeup,  if you can afford it consider also buying some nice brushes for them too.  I’m so thankful my makeup advisor reminded me of that.   They will need to replace ALL their brushes, otherwise, they just contaminate their new gluten-free makeup.

Other things I suggest, but am already blessed with

  • The Almond Flour Cookbook and the Almond Flour Cupcake books by Elana Amsterdam.  Make sure to include a bag of Almond flour for them!   If you have Prime, You can still get both these in time!
  • Heidi Kelly over at Adventures of a Gluten Free Mom posted on Facebook the other day that Santa came early with Adobe Lightroom and a macro lens for her!   That is a FOOD bloggers’ dream…..Lightroom makes things so much easier to work with.  A macro, so much fun.  I’d love to get a 105 Nikon, so that should be up top.  We do already have Lightroom and love it.
  • Pampered Chef tools- some of them are very helpful for gluten-free cooking.  I use the taco meat turner for just about anything else including separating my almond flour if it clumps and it worked really well to break up the cake for my first attempt at cake balls.
  • Asian Cooking sauces that are naturally gluten free- I haven’t written up much on these yet, but check out Meals-in-a-Minute for some amazing sauces to help eat healthy at the beginning of the year!

What gluten-free Goodies am I missing that you want for Christmas or that would be a great gift for someone?

Make sure to check out the Home for the Holidays Blogging Event- these giveaways are inspiring and have great gift ideas!

Thanks for reading and Merry Christmas!   Or Happy Hanukkah and definitely a Happy New Year!

Better Than Mothers’

I think all of us probably have that one or five things that we are saddened we’ll either never have again or never be able to share with our children once we get the mandate to stop eating gluten. For me, it was a silly little cookie, Mother’s Circus Animal Cookies- those little pink and white animal crackers with the sprinkles on them. I always hated animals crackers, but even as an adult I enjoyed those frosted cookies. They are what all the chefs on food network seem to be using lately, “whimsical.”

A few weeks ago, I woke up one morning with these in my mind..and how to make them. I went and bought some Kinnikinnick Animal Crackers, some artificial dye-free confetti type sprinkles from Let’s do Sprinklez and got out my amazing white dipping chocolate from Chocoley. Because I don’t give my children red #40 and I didn’t have any natural chocolate coloring, we only made the white ones, but the joy I got from seeing my kids have fun making this treat and then tasting one of my cherished childhood treats will remain with me for a long time. This is a perfect little project to do during a chilly day, and in between all the holiday stuff. Make sure if you color your chocolate, to get chocolate coloring. Regular food coloring won’t work. It will ruin the chocolate. I think recently Jules at Jules Glutenfree Flour mentioned Wilton’s candy melts might be gluten-free. I prefer the Chocoley because they have better taste. I use their white chocolate in all my baking now.

Without further ado, here is a chance to enjoy a novelty that we never thought we could share with our kids.
Better than Mother’s Frosted Animal Crackers

Box of Kinninnick Animal crackers (I ended up using about 1/2-3/4 box)
16 oz (approx) Chocoley Bada Bing Bada Boom Dipping and Enrobing White Chocolate (or other pre-TEMPERED candy melts)
Package of Let’s Do Sprinklez Confetti Sprinkles

I used a chocolate pot from Wilton. It gets a little hot for the Chocoley chocolate since it is real chocolate, so you have to stir it a lot and then switch to warm as soon as they are melted, but it works well when you want to include your kids. They offer fantastic sales, neat recipes and they have the most amazing “Peppermint Patty Recipe” which was a huge hit last christmas with our friends and family!

In a double boiler or something that melts the chocolate gently (DON”T USE THE MICROWAVE FOR THIS) melt your chocolate. Dip the animal crackers front and back and lay them on parchment, a silpat, or dipping sheets. Sprinkle each cookie with a pinch of sprinklez and wait until hardened. I did find the freezer helpful for getting these to set just right- about 10 minutes. Enjoy and share a childhood favorite with your kids!

Thanks as always for reading. If you want another nostalgic recipe where the gluten-free version is better than the original, check out my “Dirt and Worms recipe.” What is the one thing you wish you could give your kids that hasn’t been transformed into glutenfree yet? Or what do you just MISS?

Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes with Caramel Apple Frosting

Gluten Free Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes with Caramel Frosting

I’ve taken a bit of break from blogging, mainly to do lots of cooking for my family. A few weeks ago, I had the most amazing gluten-free pumpkin cupcake and it made me realize how much I forgot I enjoy a pumpkin spice bread. Like many people, it’s one of those fall favorites, and while I post this one AFTER Halloween, it will carry perfectly into Thanksgiving. In fact, it might just be the perfect thanksgiving treat for those who have decided pumpkin pie is a passe, or just want to do something a bit different. Of course, I decided rather than ever trying to re-replicate a gluten recipe, I wanted to make it so much better than an original recipe that the gluten eaters would simply be jealous. After all, what better way to prove Gluten-free is not the end of the world?

In this version, (thanks to a few tips from Jules at Jules GlutenFree Flour) I use instant pudding which gives you a more moist, rich, and dense cake, perfect for that almost pumpkin pie in a cupcake wrapper treat. I used and abused one of Jules recipes (the starting point of the recipe came from her Blueberry Muffins recipe in her e-book The Bakers Dozen.) One of the most important ingredients to this recipe is freshly grated nutmeg. It is the pixie dust of the frosting. Without it, it’s not the same. Make sure, you have nutmeg and a microplane for this recipe, it’s well worth it. (Besides, I’ll be posting another recipe that needs fresh grated nutmeg, and it’s fantastic on Egg Nog!) I also used a touch of apple cider in the recipe and in the frosting. It gave it a touch of sweetness and the hint of fall. Adjust the clove and cinnamon if you use a spiced apple cider. Although the Five Spice is not necessary, it gives depth to the flavor. I used it in my last two test batches and it added subtle character to the cupcakes. You could reduce the cinnamon if you find the 5 Spice strong.

Spiced Apple Cider

Cupcake Ingredients
*1/2 Cup Butter or nondairy alternative
*2/3 Cup Brown sugar
*2 Large Eggs
*1 tsp gluten-free vanilla extract
*1/4 Cup Apple Cider
*1/2 Cup Yogurt or sour cream (I used vanilla goat yogurt. SO-Delicous Coconut worked well too.)
*1 Can Pumpkin (100% Pumpkin)
*1 1/2 cups Jules GlutenFree All Purpose Flour (or other flour blend that you enjoy and works like flour -add xantham gum as needed)
*2 tsp Baking Soda
*2 1/2 tsp Baking Powder
*1/2 tsp salt
*3 Tablespoons flaxseed meal (in Jules recipes the flaxseed is optional; here it’s needed. Also, toast if you wish to give a more roasted flavor)
*Package GlutenFree Instant Pudding (I used White Chocolate JELL-O brand, which Jules Shepard uses often and has researched KRAFT)
*2 1/2 tsp cinnamon
*1 – 1 1/2 tsp Clove (I like a lot of clove)
*1/2 tsp cardamom
*3/4 tsp 5 spice (optional)
*1/2 tsp lemon peel
*1/2 tsp Allspice
*few grates of nutmeg

Directions
Preheat oven to 350F (static) or 325F (convection)

Line 24 regular size muffin cups and set aside. (I did use a stand mixer for this because it helps to put in the flour a bit at a time)

Prepare the dry ingredients by sifting and then whisking together the Flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, spices, flaxseed, and pudding mix. Set aside

Cream the butter and sugar until mixture is light and fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla and beat well.

Mix in the yogurt and pumpkin until well blended.

Lower speed on the mixer and add flour mixture by 1 cup increments. Scrape sides if you need to (I used the shield and put it through the slot.)
Mix until incorporated. This is a thick mixture. It will not be runny like most muffins.

Scoop into muffin pans. I used about 3 oz cookie scoop. (Pampered Chef makes them, ice cream scoops work. Because the mixture is thick, a scoop with a release works well).

Bake for 18-20 minutes or until they don’t push through or wiggle when you poke them. These don’t test well with a cake tester or knife. If you use them, you actually want a little bit on your tester because it’s more of a moist very dense cake that’s almost between a custard and a pound cake. I baked until they were firm, but didn’t bounce back like traditional cake will when it’s done. Poke gently because it will leave a small indentation, but does eventually disappear.

Cool in the tins if you can for about 10 min before turning out. When cool frost with Caramel Apple Frosting (BELOW) and scrape nutmeg on them to garnish

Caramel Apple Frosting
If you can’t have the diary that comes in caramel, I’d suggest a maple flavored buttercream for these cupcakes. I tested it with both, and the maple was excellent, but I enjoyed the caramel more. For my Caramel, I buy it from Chocoley because of the high quality. They also run excellent specials. I adapted a Caramel Buttercream recipe from Wilton.

Ingredients
*4oz by weight caramel
*1 1/2 fl oz heavy cream or evaporated milk (I’m guessing the evaporated milk will give a richer flavor. That is Chocoley’s suggestion for their caramel sauce recipe; I had cream open, so figured I’d use that instead of opening a can of evaporated milk too. If you forgo the apple cider, just use 2-3 oz evaporated milk or heavy cream)
*1 1/2 fl oz apple cider
*1/3 cup shortening
*1/3 cup butter softened
*4 cups powdered sugar
*1 tsp vanilla extract (gf)_or you can use more cider

Step 1
Make the Caramel
Melt the caramel in a double boiler with the cream or milk and apple cider. Whisk often (I covered it to help it melt down more quickly). Transfer to a bowl and let cool. I used the fridge to make more cool quickly. The caramel MUST be completely cooled. If you happen to have a GlutenFree caramel sauce you trust, measure out about 3/4 cup for the frosting.

Step 2
Cream shortening and butter with electric mixer until fluffy. Add the caramel and beat again. Gradually add sugar, one cup at a time, beating well on medium speed. Once all the sugar has been incorporated, turn the mixer up to medium high and let beat for 3-4 minutes. Slow mixer down for one minute or so until light and fluffy. If icing appears dry, add a bit more apple cider or milk and beat at medium speed until light and fluffy.

Pipe onto the cupcakes and garnish with freshly grated nutmeg. ENJOY. These can store 2-3 days and still taste fantastic. (I have not tested refrigeration or freezing, if you do, please leave a comment).

If you feel like having fun, these also make great whoopie pies. Just bake a shorter time. Perhaps 12-15 minutes.

Inside-Out Class winner, Special Deal, and other Quick News

I apologize that it took a bit longer than I’d expected to get the winner up. I know several of you are really excited about this class. So, without further ado, the winner is……
Whit- who stated” “I would LOVE to with this experience!! It’s GOLDEN!”

This is definitely a golden experience and Shannon has graciously offered a $10 off coupon to other readers who want to enroll. I hope you take advantage of this offer because it’s such a fantastic course. I’m thrilled to be taking it again. So, click here to enroll with the special price. The class starts MONDAY the 12th and this offer ends SEPT 11.

Other news- and lots of it at the moment: Heidi over at Adventures of A GlutenFree Mom has found a dye-free, gluten-free fruit loop type cereal. Whether you want to feed your kids these cereals for breakfast of just make them for a snack, that’s up to you so please don’t leave a comment on sugar cereals because the point is these are very popular for preschool and younger grades for crafts and little necklaces. Heidi is offering a giveaway and has info about this including a wonderful nutritional analysis and reason these are important the “getting to be a normal kid” factor! Heidi has also recently posted about testing for celiac and gluten sensitivity. You can see the array of articles here.

Adventures of a Glutenfree Mom also reposted a very crucial article this morning from GlutenFreeWatch Dog regarding Sami’s Bakery in Tampa, FL. Tricia Thompson, R.D. has founded GlutenFree Watchdog to test labeled gluten-free products. Here is the info from Adventure’s of A glutenfree Mom’s Facebook page: (two posts put together)

Does anyone buy “gluten-free” products from Sami’s Bakery in Tampa, FL? If so, I would recommend that you stop eating it. Tricia Thompson, R.D. has posted the results of recent testing for 3 of these products over at Gluten Free Watch Dog (http://www.glutenfreewatchdog.org/products.php?pid=38). You will need to subscribe in order to read the report, but it’s only $4.99/mo….(in response to a comment on the price) I understand how you feel BUT, testing for gluten is not cheap and Tricia can’t be expected to foot the bill herself. I look at it like this: $4.99/month is a really cheap health insurance rider, especially since there is no formal definition for the term “gluten-free.” If I were to personally test 4 products a month, it would cost me a minimum of $50.00 (so $4.99 doesn’t seem so bad to me). :0)

Finally, I was at my local Costco this morning in Albuquerque, NM and they didn’t have the Rudi’s GlutenFree bread. So, when they asked, “Did you find everything today?” I told them the truth. They looked it up while they finished checking me out and said that it’s on “Pending Delete Status.” Now I’m not sure if that’s company wide, or just the 3 Albuquerque area Costcos, but they told me to email Costco. So, if you’re in the NM area, PLEASE make sure to email. If you aren’t, please consider emailing so they know the demand. They are charging the same price for 2 as our Local Sunflower market does for 1 loaf. Please email them here (I’ve tried to add the link to the contact us form for you; I hope it helps.)

Thanks again for reading, and thank you to so many people for participating in this wonderful giveaway. I hope a few of you will be able to take advantage of the special $10 Shannon has extended to all my readers! (I seem to be having some technical difficulties. This post keeps reverting back to other versions; I’m not sure why, but if something is missing or seems to be missing, like half a sentence, I’m really sorry. I’ve tried to get this thing revised 5 or 6 times and it keeps reverting, but only parts of it. Weird day everywhere it seems!)

SPECIAL GIVEAWAY: a Spot in the Life-Changing E-Course Inside-Out!

Going Gluten-free and transitioning from the feeling “helpless,” “lost,” and even though some of those 7 stages of grieving that are associated with a loss, is hard. Sometimes just the journey from being sick and trying to figure out why is it’s own struggle as we see with so many gluten-free bloggers. Then, even when we find the answer, sometimes we still deny. One of my favorite bloggers, Heidi from Adventures of a GlutenFree Mom describes herself as a “recovering gluten-cheater” and admits she cheated for three years. Other people, like myself, feel so helpless they give up cooking and just don’t what or how to eat. They know it makes them sick, but they feel lost. So, what tools exist for a person life to help them transition from that grieving or survival stage (in anything), to taking control of their lives, accepting their situation and loss, and turning their own life changes into helping others like Elana Amsterdam, going back to what they love to do like Jules Shepard from JulesGlutenFree, finding ways to help others learn to migrate this gluten-free maze like The Celiac Diva or becoming alive like The Gluten-Free Girl and the Chef?

Each blogger has their own story of what helped them (and please visit their sites to learn about them, how they started and went though their journey. They are incredible strong women who have “passed through” to the other side.) What helped me make that transition from survival to becoming more alive and beginning to define my own journey was an e-course I took last summer called Inside Out with by Shannon Kinney-Duh blogger of Free Spirit Knits. I know I’m still small fry in this blogging world, but I’ve started to blog and this class pushed me from saying, “One day” to actually sitting down and writing on some days.

I found out about this class from a blogger and friend Hip Mountain Mama who focuses on wonderful eco-friendly products and ideas. The “Inside Out Course” is a self paced 5 week e-course that helps people become bold explorers of their life – where they remember what’s really important and discover dreams that matter most. InsideOut helps shine a light on those inner dreams and bring them back to the surface so you can live more fully, boldly and freely (all while enriching your creativity…) And the best part is you can do it in the comfort of your own home, on your own schedule and pace while connecting to an amazing community of other life-explorers.

Shannon posts blog and art assignments every day. She helps you ask questions and find things out about yourself that you may have forgotten in the mess and craziness of day-to-day life– especially in the midst of traumas, being so ill you’re happy to make it through another day, life change, having kids, etc. Shannon is a mother herself and talks about finding balance. I’m no artist and struggled with those assignments the most, yet toward the end, I became more comfortable with the projects, and learned a lot about myself. I realized how much fear I truly carry with me, how much perfectionism is in me, etc. Even though this painting is silly, I played for the first time in ages and even discovered that I was stuck in my life – because I was doing the same pattern over and over in my painting.

InsideOut is self-paced and you only share what you want to the with the online community.

Rediscovering the things I found important

The community built over 5 weeks is supportive for those either trying to face the transitions or changes they need to make in their lives, or deal with and get through the transitions are occurring. The different assignments helped me find myself again. After 5 years of being a mom with two intense kids, being ill for years more than 10 years, and learning how to heal from that physically and mentally I needed something help me get myself unstuck from having “conditions” and “diseases” to being me and changing these challenges and struggles. I no longer wanted to let my conditions and circumstances define my existence. In this class, I remembered the things that had been important to me: things that resonated and healed my soul. I rediscovered values that I held dear, but had lost. I learned to stop and enjoy my children more, and I found an outlet for myself in my blog. I also found the courage I needed to deal with things in my life that were in a downward spiral and needed to change for my children and family.

Wow, I do have goals and things I want to do!

InsideOut helped me carve out time for myself, for my own thoughts, and begin to deal with the buried emotions of things I’d been through over the past 5-10 years, but had never dealt with.

When it came around again in the spring, I found myself taking it again, this time enjoying the art assignments I’d resisted in the first session last summer. Even though I only got through about 2 1/2 weeks of the 4 week course because we found out we were moving, it also helped me work though those feelings of grief that come with moving and begin accepting the move would be okay and stepping outside of where we were would be a new adventure.

Shannon is adventurous herself and helps coach the spirit of fear out of people. Between the community that is built in the class (online), Shannon’s journal questions to answer, art to process through and personal coaching if needed, Shannon wants to help people become “bold explorers of their lives.” I had wanted to blog for three years, and I started this blog thanks to the prompting of my class and Shannon. I also started exploring baking and playing with Gluten-free cooking, especially playing with another favorite blogger’s recipes from Elana’s Pantry. Before the class I simply stuck to the same meals and mixes. Once I took the class, I became a more bold explorer of the “gluten-free world.” It was also in this class where I learned how much I want to help people find their way in gluten-free living. I found what was important to me, and where I’d let my values be compromised. I also started to open the doors to what in my life wasn’t working, was making me unhappy, and what I needed to do.

InsideOut is back and bigger than ever. Shannon has added an extra week, (my class was 4) new projects and guided meditations to help us become who we want to be and move through the things in life that get us stuck. She has generously offered a spot to one of my readers for this upcoming class! I’m so excited that I get to give this incredible gift to one of my readers because of how much this class has changed my life. I know I have new readers struggling through these stages of grief in the gluten-free cycle…whether you are in denial and still cheating, angry, or at a “functioning but that’s about it stage.” Some of you have embraced the gluten-free life, but might want to make that next stage in your life whether it’s transition to starting a business, getting your product out there, or needing to make decisions that will be hard but necessary. Some of you have been able to “do the gluten-free thing at home, but have lost intolerant and understanding friends in the process.” This class helped me in my gluten-free journey, but it also helped my family. Even if you’re not gluten-free, but have something you need to help yourself explore and you found out about this class because you saw the giveaway, that’s awesome. Enter the drawing!

This is going to be a quick giveaway because the class starts soon, so please help get the word out for this class with FB, twitter, pingbacks, etc! I’ll be picking the winner sometime after 12 PM Tuesday Sept 6. Entries must be in before 12pm MST!

Information on the class: The Inside Out course starts September 12th and runs for 5 weeks. You can see specific information on this link:FreeSpirit Knits. It runs $99. Please contact Shannon if you have questions.

Giveaway Details
One VERY lucky reader (I’m paying for my spot so VERY lucky reader) will get to take the class at no cost. Here’s how you enter– please read these rules b/c in the last giveaway people retweeted and followed me on twitter, but never put it in the comments. Since I use a random generator and pull a numbered post, without your entry on the comment page, you won’t actually get entered!

MANDATORY:Respond with one thing you hope this class could help you attain in yourself.
Optional but highly recommended each comment gets a separate entry

  • Like my Facebook page (I’ve just created a new page) The GlutenFree Advocate and comment that you did
  • Share this article from my FB page with either your readers if you’re a GlutenFree Blogger or your friends – come back and comment that you did! (Do not try to enter on FB!)
  • Follow me (@GFAdvocate) on Twitter AND tweet the following: “Exciting #giveaway from @GFAdvocate and @FreeSpiritKnits Inside out E-course starts soon http://wp.me/p10fnB-aS!” – comment you did for your entry
  • Follow Shannon @FreeSpiritKnits on twitter (add you comment!!)
  • Mention this article on your blog and create a “pingback” – (add your comment w/ your blog so you can get some love too!)
  • Mention any other articles from my on your blog with the pingback -(and add your comment here that you did) (many seem to be interested right now if Gluten can be in lipstick or body care and why that would affect them, so you might check the article “Are your Lipstick and Conditioner Making you Sick?” out to start!
  • I only have one spot to giveaway, so even if you aren’t the winner, consider taking this class or giving the class to someone you know could use it. It WILL change your life! And it’s a great chance re-gather yourself.

    This is open to ANYONE interested – not just gluten-free friends, and not just the US. Shannon has had participants from 15 countries now, so please, enter and share etc. It’s a great place to be with people who are all working on themselves and trying to become more bold in their lives. I am so thankful and honored that she’s willing to give a spot to one of my readers.

    Thank you for reading and I wish you lots of luck because this is going to be fun! Hopefully I’ll see a few of you in the class!

    Guest Post: Confessions of a Starch-a-holic

    GF Chef Bennett at OCKey with Salmon

    I am pleased to share a post from my guest, Chef Michael Bennett, author of 3 cookbooks, blogger, and chef at Bimini Boatyard in Fort Lauderdale.

    GF Chef Bennett also lived in the Caribbean for four years, his newest book, “Culture of Cuisine” is coming soon and he has re-released “In the Land of Misfits, Pirates and Cooks” to be 100% GlutenFree. Chef Bennett offers up two recipes from his cookbook as well as some net gluten-free food tips. His cookbooks contain in-laid QR codes(Quick Response codes) for people to use their smartphones to link to websites to buy GF products and to find interesting information about other terms, techniques or curiosities. Isn’t that awesome?

    What interests me about him is his love for the Caribbean and I’m so excited to learn more about him and check out his books. I got married in Jamaica 10 years ago, and it’s an amazing place, especially the non-tourist regions. Once you get into the mountains, you end up with food that’s savory, different, fun.

    View from the Hotel Chef Bennett worked in St. Croix - there's a job for ya!

    View from the Hotel Chef Bennett worked in St. Croix

    You can find more about Chef Bennett at FoodBrats and purchase his books:
    “Underneath a Cloudless Sky” ISBN: 978-0-615-328775-1
    In the Land of Misfits, Pirates and Cooks
    and coming soon: “Culture of Cuisine” ISBN: 978-145-078300-2
    on Amazon or his website: FoodBrats

    If you like what you read, he has a site on Examiner as well: http://www.examiner.com/cooking-in-miami/michael-bennett

    So, without further ado, please enjoy gluten-free Chef Bennet’s article “Confessions of a Starch-a-holic” and a couple scrumptions recipes.

    Recipe is from this book "In the Land of Misfits, Pirates, and Cooks"


    Confessions of a Starch-a-holic
    — GF Chef Michael Bennett:
    I sometimes feel like I am in a multi-step rehab program. Why I have changed to gluten free recipes is one of simplicity. I was a Starch-a-holic for most of my life; my new recipe testing for my cookbook “In the Land of Misfits, Pirates and Cooks” brought me to a realization that this could be as good for me as it was easy to perfect.

    Living with teenage girls has brought a lot of dining fads to our household. After my daughter insisted we turn vegan and, after living the lifestyle for a little while, I felt generally better overall. I also found that my years of living with acid reflux was caused by eating red meat. It never hurts to try new things in your life!

    My new emphasis on dining healthier now comes from the daily barrage of requests by guests at my current post as the chef of Bimini Boatyard (on 17th Street Cswy. in Fort Lauderdale). Starting about a year and a half ago, I was getting requests from my guests querying whether or not my menu recipes were gluten free and because I developed a majority of the menu cooking over a wood fire grill, my answer was “yes of course”.

    Since the 1990′s, all of my new recipes have been based on heart-healthy Spa Cuisine inspired yet, I never planned on creating a gluten free menu. It naturally coexists when you cook with all natural ingredients, and use a wood-fire grill.

    Starting with food in their most basic form and adding very little in the way of fillers led to produce a gluten-free diet. I have found that when you start off with raw foods, not pre-packaged foods from the marketplace, you control the final outcome of your dinner.

    Planning for family meals seems simple if you are looking to cook gluten-free. Stay away from fillers and (sauce) thickeners. Check labels on the things you buy – which save cooking steps in your kitchen. Most times fillers are hidden in the prepared food products. An example is occasionally an inferior soy sauce is brewed with wheat to counteract the harshness of soybeans that are processed in a quick fermentation process by the manufacturer.

    Naturally, if you buy a convenience product: frozen entrée, pre-cooked and ready to warm and serve, it might have been gelled or cooked with an addition of gluten-rich thickener; or paired with another food product that has gluten. Check labels on canned and jarred foods, gluten hides in the simplest of places. Your favorite ice cream is sometimes even made with an addition of flour used in the ice cream base as a thickener for the frozen treat.

    Rather than buying out of the prepared food aisles, go straight to the produce and fresh fish aisle.

    Here is a recipe to help you on your way to a tasty gluten-free dinner:

    Charoltte Amalie Wahoo


    CHAROLETTE AMAILE WAHOO
    SERVES: 6
    SIMPLY ELEGANT AND ITS DEPTH IN TASTE EQUALS THAT OF THE PORT FOR WHICH IT IS NAMED. THE RECIPE IS IN TWO STEPS. THE SAUCE, SIMPLY MADE IN A FOOD PROCESSOR, CAN BE MADE DAYS AHEAD OF TIME AND KEPT IN THE REFRIGERATOR UNTIL YOU WANT TO USE IT.

    INGREDIENTS:
    3 LBS. WAHOO, EVENLY DIVIDED INTO 6 PORTIONS
    1/2 CUP CARAMEL MOP, SEE RECIPE BELOW
    AS NEEDED SALT AND WHITE PEPPER, 5:1 RATIO-MIXED
    2 TBS. THAI PEANUT SAUCE DRY MIX, FOUND IN ASIAN MARKETS
    1 CUP PLANTAIN CHIPS, FOUND IN LATINO GROCERY MARKETS
    AS NEEDED OIL
    3 CUP YUCCA PIECES, 1/2 INCH CHOPPED, BLANCHED IN BOILING SALTED WATER, DRAIN
    1 EACH RED BELL PEPPER, ROASTED AND CHOPPED ROUGHLY
    1 EACH SHALLOT, CHOPPED
    2 EACH GARLIC KERNELS, FINELY CHOPPED
    2 BUNCH PENCIL ASPARAGUS, BLANCHED IN SALTED WATER

    DIRECTIONS:
    DUST THE WAHOO WITH A LITTLE OF THE SALT AND PEPPER MIXTURE. LET REST IN THE REFRIGERATOR, WHILE YOU ARE DOING THE OTHER PARTS OF THIS RECIPE. GRIND THE PLANTAINS INTO A MEAL WITH A FOOD PROCESSOR. ADD IN THE THAI PEANUT SAUCE BASE MIXTURE. MIX WELL. USE ON TOP THE WAHOO AFTER GRILLING AND GLAZING.

    OVER HOT COALS, GRILL THE WAHOO FILLET FOR 3 MINUTES PER 1 INCH OF THICKNESS ON ONE SIDE AND THEN FLIP AND COOK 3 MINUTES MORE ON THE OTHER SIDE, GLAZING WITH THE CARAMEL MOP AFTER IT COOKS. DUST WITH THE THAI PEANUT-PLANTAIN MIXTURE ON THE TOP OF THE FILLETS OF WAHOO AFTER THE SECOND SIDE IS COOKED. KEEP IN A WARM OVEN.

    NEXT, SAUTE THE SHALLOTS AND GARLIC QUICKLY, ADD THE YUCCA AND CONTINUE TO COOK ABOUT THREE MINUTES. TOSS IN THE PEPPERS AND SAUTE (”TO JUMP”) TO DISTRIBUTE THEM IN THE PAN. PRESS THE YUCCA INTO A 4 OR 5 INCH RING MOLD IN THE CENTER OF THE PLATE (SEE PICTURE). REMOVE THE MOLD AND SET THE WAHOO ON TOP. ENCIRCLE THIS PRESENTATION WITH MORE OF THE CARAMEL MOP SAUCE. ARRANGE THE ASPARAGUS AROUND THE YUCCA, POINTING OUT TO THE EDGES OF THE PLATE LIKE THE HANDS OF A CLOCK.

    2ND PART OF THE RECIPE:
    CARAMEL MOP
    SERVES: 25
    ONE OF MY FAVORITE “MOPS” FOR GRILLED NY STRIP STEAKS AND RICHLY FLAVORED FISH FILLETS LIKE MAHI MAHI, WAHOO, ESCOLAR AND SALMON. MAKE THIS LARGE RECIPE BECAUSE YOU WILL FIND A LOT OF OTHER FOOD TO USE IT ON.

    INGREDIENTS
    12 OZ. COCA-COLA, REDUCED TO A SYRUP
    4 OZ. ESPRESSO
    4 OZ. GARLIC, ROASTED, CHOPPED
    6 OZ. SHALLOTS, CHOPPED
    2 OZ. APPLE JUICE CONCENTRATE
    3 OZ. KAHLUA LIQUOR
    3 OZ. SOY SAUCE
    2 OZ. BALSAMIC VINEGAR
    1 OZ. FRANGELICO LIQUOR
    1 OZ. TRIPLE SEC
    5 OZ. PICK A PEPPA SAUCE, OR CAN FIND IN ANY LOCAL CARIBBEAN MARKET
    2 TBS. BLACK PEPPER
    2 TBS. SEASALT
    2 TBS. XANTHAN GUM

    INSTRUCTIONS:
    IN A SMALL PAN, BRING 12 OZ. OF COCA-COLA TO A BOIL AND LET THIS VOLUME REDUCE BY 2/3. ADD THE NEXT 10 ITEMS TO THE POT AND LET SIMMER FOR 5 MINUTES. REMOVE FROM THE HEAT AND COOL. PLACE IN A FOOD PROCESSOR AND GRIND WELL UNTIL EVERYTHING IS PULVERIZED INTO A SLURRY. ADD THE THICKENER SLOWLY TO THIS MIX AND PLACE IN A SQUIRT BOTTLE.
    TO USE:
    DRIZZLE THIS “MOP” (SAUCE) OVER TOP ANY GRILLED POULTRY, PORK, BEEF OR BABY BACK RIB AND BRUSH ALL AROUND THE FOOD AS IT IS COOKING ATOP THE GRILL.
    IT IS USED HERE ON WAHOO….SEE ABOVE.

    The recipe comes from Chef Michael Bennett’s cookbook: “In the Land of Misfits, Pirates and Cooks”, ISBN: 978-0615-29778-1. A 180 page, 125 plus gluten-free Caribbean-inspired recipe cookbook. Available at Amazon and on Chef Michael’s website: Foodbrats

    My final comment: Thank you Chef Bennett for the Gluten-Free tips for people new to gluten-free, reminders to us all, and a fantastic looking recipe. I can’t wait to try it. Readers, thank you as always for reading, and let me know if you try this recipe or if you’ve owned his cookbooks!”