I am a Mormon stay-at-home-mom of six. Yeah, I know, "that's a lot of kids"! Sometimes it truly is A LOT. Most of the time it's not. It's simply put...our normal. On my page you'll find spiritual thoughts, tales of trials, happy moments, recipes, funny stories, and more. Enjoy!!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Traveling and eating Gluten Free/Dairy Free and food dye free can be a challenge!

We are going to visit family this weekend and need to be prepared with food for my lovely Gluten Free/Dairy Free diet and Littlest Miss's dye free diet. We discussed possible options with family and decided to go with tacos.  Therefore, today I am making myself some corn tortillas for the occasion.

I found a recipe here that is very simple and easy to follow.  

I have a flour tortilla press that is electric and does the same basic thing that a corn tortilla press does.  I covered the cold plates of the press with plastic wrap and pressed the dough in that.  You can also place your dough ball between the plastic wrap and press it down with the bottom of a small pot. (got that idea from a youtube video on making tortillas)

Then I placed the tortilla on a hot cast iron pan, that is dry; without any oil or butter.  Cook it for about 1 minute and then flip and cook for 30 seconds or so.  They seem stiff at first but if you put them in a linen cloth inside a glass dish they get nice and soft and PERFECT for tacos or any other meal.

I spread some dairy free butter on it and dribbled some homemade peach jam inside.  THAT was delicious.  Most of the time I DO NOT feel like I am going without or missing anything by doing this GF/DF diet. Instead, I am getting more creative.

Get creative with your food today!!

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Gluten Free Cookie Dough Bites...YUM!

I seriously DID NOT think these would taste very good.  But, I was wrong.  So very wrong! These are yummy! I found the recipe here. They are SO good when they are warm and gooey; fresh out of the oven.  If they have a chance to get cold, you can place them on a paper towel and heat them for about 7-10 seconds, in the microwave, to make the chocolate chips gooey again. I will admit that they didn't last long in our house, since the batch only made 1 1/2 dozen.  Next time I will double the batch so it fits better in my Ninja blender...and lasts a bit longer than an hour. LOL!  My kids even liked the dough.  Littlest Miss was asking for thirds on her little spoon.  I wonder how these babies would taste with Ghirardelli Classic White chips.  My notes are un-bolded so that they stand out a bit from the original recipe. ;)

Gluten Free Cookie Dough Bites
1 1/4 cups canned chickpeas, well-rinsed and patted dry with a paper towel (I used the entire 15 oz can, so as not to waste.  Worked out just fine.)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons (165 grams) natural peanut butter (can use PB2 from gym to make healthier, check your labels)(I used 2/3 cup of Skippy natural or Jif Natural)
1/4 cup (80 grams) honey (agave would be amazing too!)
1 teaspoon baking powder
a pinch of salt if your peanut butter doesn't have salt in it
1/2 cup (90 grams) chocolate chips (I used dairy free)

1.    Preheat your oven to 350°F / 175°C. Combine all the ingredients, except for the chocolate chips, in a food processor and process until very smooth. Make sure to scrape the sides and the top to get the little chunks of chickpeas and process again until they're combined.
2.    Put in the chocolate chips and stir it if you can, or pulse it once or twice. The mixture will be very thick and sticky.
3.    With wet hands, form into 1½" balls. Place onto a Silpat or a piece of parchment paper. If you want them to look more like normal cookies, press down slightly on the balls. They don't do much rising. (I scooped them with my Pampered Chef medium sized cookie scoop and then flattened them gently with my hand onto my baking stones. Worked great, was super duper easy, and took less time too!)
4.    Bake for about 10 minutes. The dough balls will still be very soft when you take them out of the oven. They will not set like normal cookies. (I left them on my baking stones for about 10 minutes before transferring them to the cooling rack.)
5.    Store in an airtight container at room temperature (or in the fridge) for up to 1 week.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Gluten Free and junk free barbecue sauce

Today I wanted to make the boneless ribs that I bought when they were on sale a couple of months ago.  They just sound good.  I have been eating gluten free for 2 1/2 weeks now and want to continue my journey to see the results.  I took out the barbecue sauce and read the label. Sure...it's gluten free...but not junk free.  I cringe every time I see high fructose corn syrup on a label. That the first ingredient on the list.  Great!  Bottled junk. 

I went searching online and found this recipe.  It's easy and I made a couple of modifications to make sure it is gluten free and to accommodate the fact that I didn't have everything on the list.  I may try it with honey next time.  Be sure to check out the recipe on the blog to see where I altered it.

Gluten Free Barbecue Sauce
1-1/2 cups Light Brown Sugar, packed {this step is crucial so the vinegar is balanced}
16 oz. can tomato sauce
1/2 cup Apple Cider Vinegar
1/2 cup Water (optional)
1 tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce (Lea & Perrins in the USA is Gluten Free...check the label)
2-1/2 teaspoons Ground Mustard
2 teaspoons Paprika
1-1/2 teaspoons Kosher Salt
1 teaspoon Black Pepper

Measure and add all ingredients to a large bowl and whisk well until the sugar has dissolved and the spices are thoroughly distributed. Serve immediately or cover and store in fridge or freeze!

*NOTE* for a thicker sauce, simply omit the water. :)

Also, to keep this sauce high-fructose corn syrup free, use an all-natural or organic ketchup, but even better... make your own

I made 1/2 a batch this time, just in case it didn't turn out.  But I am pleasantly surprised!  It is sweet and tangy, just the way I like it!  I poured the entire amount over the boneless ribs in my crock pot.  I'll make potatoes and veggies to finish off the meal.  I can't wait to see how it turns out!

Have a fantastically wonderful day!

Friday, September 13, 2013

Gluten free meals can be tricky...or maybe not!

Thinking Gluten Free and Greek...


1 small onion
2 Tbsp chopped fresh Italian parsley
2 garlic cloves, pressed
1 lb. ground turkey
½ tsp dried thyme
½ tsp salt
½ tsp pepper
2 tsp olive oil

Preheat oven to 500 degrees. Finely chop onion.  Chop parsley.  Press garlic into mixing bowl.  Add onion, parsley, turkey, thyme, salt and pepper.  Mix vigorously until well blended.  Add oil to skillet; heat over medium-high heat for 1-3 minutes or until shimmering.  Form turkey mixture into four thin, rectangular loaves, about ¼ in thick.  Cook 1-2 minutes on each side or until browned.  Place skillet in oven and bake 6-8 minutes or until loaves are no longer pink. 

Yogurt sauce

½ cup plain yogurt
2 garlic cloves, pressed
1/8 tsp salt
2 Tbsp fresh Italian parsley
¼ cup fresh cucumber, finely chopped
½ -1  tsp lemon juice to taste
Fresh dill to taste

Mix in small bowl. Serve.

Featherlight Rice Flour Mix (Bette Hagman's The Gluten Free Gourmet Bakes Bread..with a slight change)
1/2 cup Rice flour
1/2 cup potato starch

1 cup Tapioca flour
1 cup Cornstarch
3 tsp potato flour 

Gluten Free Pita Bread
2 1/2 cups GF flour
2 tsp xanthan gum
2 tsp salt
1 Tbsp sugar
2 tsp active dry yeast
2 Tbsp olive or canola oil
1 cup warm water (105-110 degrees)

In large bowl combine 1 cup flour with the salt, sugar, and yeast. Add the oil and water. Beat vigorously for 3 minutes, then stir in the rest of the flour, along with the xanthan gum, 1/2 cup at a time. The dough will be a rough, shaggy mass that will clean the sides of the bowl. If the dough is moist, add a small amount of flour. Kneed for a couple of minutes in the bowl. Preheat oven to 500 degrees. Divide dough into 8 pieces. Shape into balls on the counter, and cover with a damp linen towel or tea towel. Let rest for 30 minutes. Use the palm of your hand and flatten the dough. Finish with a rolling pin, flattening the dough into a 6" disk. Place each round on a square of foil and place directly onto oven rack. Bake for 5-8 minutes or until they are slightly golden at the edges. Let cool, place in ziplock bag to store. 

Have a wonderful, gluten free and tasty weekend!

Monday, September 9, 2013

Oh food dyes...

The sweet little angel’s eyes constricted, turning into tiny black dots. Her eyes glazed over and she began to scream.  The transformation was gradual; gradual enough so it took me a while to realize the cause.  She wanted me to pick her up, hold her, make it better, but when I reached for her she would arch her back and scream and squirm.  It didn’t feel good for me to touch her skin, or so it seemed to me.  She lay on the floor thrashing and screaming.  And I sat on the floor wondering what in the world was wrong.  I offered snacks; grapes, apples, nuts, bananas, raisins.  Nothing worked.  I offered a bath.  To which she shook her head.  I got up and went to my bathroom, since she didn’t want me to touch her anyway and she screamed harder; following me in her tantrum.  I came back and sat with her.  She stilled screamed, but I didn’t try to touch her.  I smiled at her every time she looked my way.  Somehow this seemed to calm her.  She tried to sit on my lap, but instantly her back arched and her arms flailed and she slid off my lap. 

She lay on her back, her bare belly facing me with its red scribbly marks all over her round tummy.  She had been coloring with a red pen at the table next to me and inevitably the pen ended up on her skin.  Red pen. On her skin.  Could that be it? The red dye in the pen? I got up and got out the baking soda, a small sippy cup of water and mixed 1/8 of a teaspoon into the water.  I put the lid on the cup and tried to offer the liquid to her.  She pushed it away.  Several times.  I finally had to force some into her mouth 3 or 4 times before she took it on her own. 

Gradually her pupils began to normalize.  She climbed onto my lap and lay there, stirring occasionally.  After a few more minutes I was able to touch her skin without her pulling away from me.  I rubbed her back.  The baking soda began to work through her system and she passed a little gas.  She smiled and it reached her eyes and she giggled.  Her eyes were clear again. 

The symptoms are not completely gone.  She still fusses for no apparent reason; but I KNOW the reason.  But she is sitting quietly watching Blues Clues.  I can breath and step into the next room.  The hour has passed, but I won’t forget.  The red pens will disappear. 

Food dye sensitivities are real.  And the sensitivities do not stop with food.  They can be caused by pens, markers, clothing and other fabrics too.  It makes me want to run out and buy everything in white!  LOL!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Lessons Learned

We had a wonderful Labor Day activity with our church group at a local park on Monday.  The weather was beautiful.  There several tables of delicious looking foods.  Those who prepared the meat had been thoughtful and kind toward those who have allergies and brought it unseasoned.  I brought a pan of gluten free brownies, a pan of regular brownies...both from scratch, two loaves of gluten free/dairy free bread and watermelon that my wonderful husband cut into a basket shape and filled with balls of watermelon.  So, there was plenty of good, healthy food for us to eat while we were there.

I watched our Littlest Miss and never sat still comfortably as I tried to keep my eye on where she was.  Finally, after the majority of the activity was over and many people had left for home, I asked Mr. Artist if he would please take her for a little while.  He groaned and wanted to complain, but when I pointed out that I hadn't asked for his help the entire time, he couldn't help but agree.

I still kept an eye out, but not as stress-fully.  I was able to sit and visit with some ladies from church and just as I was getting comfortable I noticed that Mr. Artist had Littlest Miss over by the food tables.  I glanced their way and to my HORROR I realized that Littlest Miss had a cookie....not just any cookie...but a cookie covered in lovely, glittery, blue sugar crystals.  AAAGH!

My first mistake...I raced over yelling, "NO NO NO NO!  She can't EAT that!...It has food coloring. (Insert frustrated sputtering)"
Mr. Artist, "I didn't know that had food coloring!"
Me, "How could you NOT know?  It's BLUE!"
Mr. Artist slapping his forehead in embarrassment and despair, "I am ALWAYS a disappointment when it comes to watching Littlest Miss!"
Me...realizing my huge mistake..."I have NEVER said that to you!  You always do a great job watching her."
Meanwhile, people around us are all trying to act like they are not there.  Ugh!  Terrible parenting moment!  I completely embarrassed my son while embarrassing myself. After a brief discussion,  I told him to go ahead and hang out with his friends and I would take care of Littlest Miss.
Mr. Artist, slapping is leg for effect, "I was GOING to watch her!"
Me, "I know.  It's okay, I've got her. Don't worry about it." And off he went.

First of all, just because your children are in the room and are conversing with you about a certain issue, it DOES NOT MEAN THEY UNDERSTAND IT!  They hear everything you don't WANT them to hear! But the important information always seems to slip through some cracks...somewhere in the recesses of their young minds. We had discussed Littlest Miss's food dye sensitivity with all of the kids. Apparently I didn't specify that pretty blue crystal-y sugar does not occur naturally...there are NO blue sugar bushes!  LOL!

Since that day, we have had lots of discussions about what does and does not have food dye.  I'm hoping that this will help prevent future episodes.  Geesh!

Yesterday, when Mr. Artist arrived home from school, Littlest Miss, who had been fussy and screaming and thrashing since about 10 in the morning, was STILL fussy at almost 4 pm.
Mr. Artist asked, "What's she so upset about?" To which I replied, "Blue Sugar!"
Mr. Artist realizing that he had helped cause the fussiness replied, "I'm sorry."
I replied very calmly, "I know." That's all I said. It's hard to have sympathy for a teenager when I have been the one dealing with the consequences all day long.

Several times, yesterday evening, when Littlest Miss was A MESS and screaming, thrashing, throwing herself onto the floor about absolutely nothing, one of the boys would ask again why she was so upset/sad/mad/fussy/unhappy and my husband or I would reply, "Blue Sugar!"

One day we may all laugh about this!

It is ALL a learning experience.  And until people see and have to deal with the consequences, sometimes they can't learn the lesson.  There are LOTS of lessons being learned in our home this week.

So...if you ever wonder if food dye sensitivities are for real...just call my house and ask my children!  LOL!  They will ALL tell you it's REAL!