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September 28, 2010

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

Happy Fall! This is my favorite time of year. The air starts to cool, my sweaters come out from hiding, and pumpkin is found in everything from coffee to beer to pie to cookies.

On Saturday, Mr. GF and I attended an Oktoberfest gathering, where there was beer, brats, and more beer. I wanted to bring something that most people would enjoy, but more importantly, that Mr. GF could eat. I decided to take a chance with baking (not always a good idea for me). What is more comforting when the weather turns cool than a warm chocolate chip cookies? And given that it's now fall, I had to try to include pumpkin.



I tried this recipe 2 times over the weekend, each time with a different cookie mix. For Oktoberfest, I used Gluten Free Pantry's chocolate chip cookie mix, and substituted the butter that was called for with pumpkin. The result were cookies that looked like cookies, smelled like cookies, and tasted great, but had a bit of a cakey texture. Also, the chocolate chips in the mix were the smaller kind, so you didn't get quite as much of a balance of pumpkin and chocolate.



The next day, we had a small gathering over for football, so I tried again, this time with Betty Crocker's gluten free mix. BC's mix uses "normal" sized chips, so again, I decided to sub pumpkin for butter, this time adding 2 pinches each of nutmeg and cinnamon for a little bit of that spicy fall flavoring.

Jackpot.

So the formula is:
Betty Crocker's Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Cookie Mix
Libby's Pumpkin (same amt. as called for in butter, I think 1/2c)
Eggs (as called for)
Vanilla (as called for)
2 pinches of nutmeg
2 pinches of cinnamon

Mix and bake as directed. I used parchment paper and am in love with the result. Cleaner baking sheets, more uniform cookies. I think it was the pumpkin that caused them to keep the lumpy shape, but don't be fooled, they're freaking delicious. Enjoy!

September 3, 2010

Gluten Free Recipe: Balsamic Mushroom Salad

This salad is really easy and filling, great for a night when you want something quick and healthy, and not the same ol' chicken and rice and green beans. I adapted the idea from a local pizza joint, as this is my favorite thing to order for lunch from them. I was really happy with the results and flavor!

Balsamic Mushroom Salad

2 large portabella mushroom caps, Trader Joe's
Annie's Naturals Organic Balsamic Vinaigrette dressing
1 bag of arugula greens
1 cucumber, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
1 cup of grape tomatoes, halved
goat cheese (or feta, your preference)
salt and pepper
olive oil spray

Instructions: Cut the "gills" (the creepy brown underthings) out of the mushroom. I just gave them a clean slice across the cap and discarded the underparts. Slice caps diagonally to produce 1/2" thick slices. Spray a stovetop skillet lightly with olive oil spray and turn heat to medium. Place mushrooms in pan and season with salt and pepper, lightly. Flip and drizzle with balsamic. Stir every couple minutes with spoon, flip so they cook on both sides, about 10 minutes (the time it takes me to cut up my veggies).

Combine all ingredients except mushrooms and goat cheese in a large bowl. Toss and divide into serving bowls. Top salad with mushrooms and little clumps of goat cheese (or feta crumbles). You may add more dressing if you like a lot of dressing, but I find the flavor of the balsamic, mushrooms, and cheese to be enough for the salad, and you don't want to overdo it on the sodium. Plus, the arugula has quite a peppery taste to it, so there is plenty of naturally occurring flavor here.

I really like this recipe since the mushrooms are nice and meaty, it's an easy substitution if you don't feel like grilling chicken, if you're vegetarian, or just want to try something new! Keep the salad in a sealed container and enjoy the next day for lunch or dinner again (maybe with a new topping)!

September 2, 2010

A Bit of a Rant

Image Credit: webmd.com
My apologies in advance...

Ok folks, I've had it. I'm all sorts of fired up. I'm teeming over with anger. I'm so angry, in fact, that I'm laughing. But I'm going to use this energy to hopefully make a turn for something good and useful.

It's become apparent in the past week or so through various articles from New York Times and now women's fashion magazines that a gluten free diet is trendy and "cool". Everybody's doing it, right? Citi Field, home of the New York Mets, has a gluten free food stand. Chelsea Clinton served a 500lb gluten-free cake at her wedding, Madonna's serving gluten free brownies at her child's birthday party. It's everywhere! That's great, right?

Maybe not.

Thought causing me anger: 'Gluten free is all the rage! Go gluten free and you'll lose weight and be viewed as cool and hip!'

Learning opportunity: The Wall Street Journal has many good points. People should not be viewing a gluten free diet as a weight loss method. That will not happen. If you want to lose weight, eat a clean diet full or fruits, vegetables lean proteins and whole grains. Stocking up on brown rice pasta and Chex cereal will not burn off that extra bit of fat you might be carrying around. Many of the flour blends used in gluten free products and recipes are starchier and actually worse for you. So stop thinking right now that if you "go gluten free", you'll lose weight. Instead, clean up your diet, drink water and go outside for a walk. 

...Ok, wait for Earl to pass and the air to cool down a bit and then go for a walk.

However, gluten free does not just mean giving up carbs. Gluten is found in many products, including but not limited to gummy and hard candies, gum, some medications, sauces and marinades, and even things that sounds healthy, like "whole grain" or "oats". If you're going to go gluten free, you need to do your research, learn what to look for on ingredient labels, make Google your best friend, and have respect for the people that must follow this diet not by choice, but by necessity.

I am so thankful that it has become a topic of interest and that restaurants and major brands are making efforts to produce gluten free options. I just hope they don't think it's just for now. It's not.

What pushed me over the edge (and this is where I really get ranty) is a recent article in the September issue of W Magazine that makes me want to never put a dollar towards the joke of a fashion magazine industry ever again. For the magazines that print intelligent and thoughtful articles from time to time (not always, but they do sometimes), this one just slaps you in the face. In the way that the movie Mean Girls placed stereotypes in a way that was smart and even funny, this one is just flat out offensive.

http://www.wmagazine.com/fashion/2010/09/fashion_cliques

In a nutshell: Here are some lifestyle and fashion stereotypes and real life examples you can keep an eye on if you want to be cool this fall!

Read it, don't read it, but know that I'm fired up. I'm fired up that they're saying curvy girls can feel good this fall because curves are "in". Did you know that the beautiful Christina Hendricks is a size 14 and was not given a dress to wear for the Emmy's (her show, Mad Men, won Best Drama, by the way)? She was told that most designers only lend dresses to size 0 and 2. She is an extraordinary actress who plays a major role in an Emmy nominated show, and no one would give her a dress. That's just foolish! While I have SO many issues with that, I have more issues with the fact that so much emphasis is put on her figure and not on her brilliant acting and personality. This is a woman who modeled in Italy, 15 lbs heavier than she is now, and said she felt her most beautiful and womanly. She's confident, and her confidence is sexy. Not her curves. She's comfortable in her own skin. It's a beautiful thing. I'm a size 14, and I hope people are liking me for my wicked awesome personality "this fall", not for the fact that I have some meat on my bones.

Dear world, please stop telling girls they have to starve to be accepted and beautiful. And I don't care how many millions of dollars your magazine makes a year, it is NOT ok to poke fun at another serious problem - eating disorders. Pushing every curvy girl into the mindset of girls who eat their feelings? Shame on them. How about we start building people up? Teach people the right way to eat and take care of themselves.Why don't these magazines start using their power and influence that they have over their readers for some good, instead of feasting on the insecurities of America's youth.

And my last and final point regarding their "Virgin Suicides Girl" who is a great weight loss supplement - "hang out with her you'll learn all about gluten-free vegan muffins."

*inhale* *exhale* *repeat*

I will say it one last time.

Gluten free is not a trend, it's a lifestyle that thousands of people live by due to allergies and gluten intolerance. "Going gluten free" can be a healthy adjustment to your diet if and only if you eat a clean diet, which is not necessarily gluten free, but really just healthy. A trend is shoulder pads, collecting Beanie Babies from the McDonald's Happy Meal or the Thighmaster. These are things that come and go and don't make much of a real difference in people lives long term.

Don't hang here because you think what I write about is trendy. It's a very real aspect of our lives. I hope you find it informative, and I hope you are encouraged to educate and be educated.

You are now free to go about your lives.

I feel better.

September 1, 2010

Happy September!

"Where did the summer go?"

The most frequently asked question I've heard around the office today. It feels like just yesterday I was toying with the idea of starting this blog, getting my first hits, my first comments. It's been about 5 months since The Gluten Free Wife began, and I've experienced some great things, tried new foods and recipes, and have been in touch with some really cool readers and food bloggers.

Labor Day always feels like New Years for me. Maybe it's the whole going to school thing that was ingrained for so long, but more than January 1, September 1 has always felt like my fresh start each year. I am planning a massive cleanout of our house this weekend, and am in the midst of planning for this blog and my own business, to start taking things to the next level.

With that in mind, here are my goals for 2010/2011:

1. Blog more. There have been weeks at a time where life just got in the way, so my goal is to post at least once a week so there's always fresh content.

2. Develop the pages. This is a gradual process, but I plan on really digging into the pages to add more resources, fellow gluten free bloggers, develop a navigable product guide, and restaurant guide. I also plan on adding a recipe page to consolidate a quick-link guide to recipes I have posted here, and recipes I have bookmarked throughout the web.

3. Get Mr. GF to contribute. He is the one with Celiac disease, so I'm sure you'd love to hear more of his perspective. As much as we live the lifestyle together, only he can give you a true view into what he experiences.

4. Giveaways! Everyone loves free stuff! I know a lot of blogs frequently host giveaways to products and services, so I plan on having some really fun giveaways in the future so a few lucky readers can sample some of the products we've come to love.

5. ... This is up to you. Without you readers, I am nothing. Whenever I hear that someone reads my blog or passes it on to someone they know with Celiac or a family member or friend, my heart grows about 10x. To know that I am reaching people, raising awareness, and even helping people is just mind-boggling. I do this for you, so I want to know: What do you want?

If there's one thing I've learned in my 26 years, it's that it takes a village. I'm just one person, but together we're a community who's voice is getting louder and louder as of late. Let's keep it going. Tell me what you want to know. Let's do this together. If you've never commented, now's the time. I want to know where you're from. I want to know your stories. Do you have Celiac? How did you find theglutenfreewife.com? What can I do to make your experience on this site better, easier, and more fun?

I look forward to getting to know you all. Feel free to email me anytime at shannon@theglutenfreewife.com, converse with me on Twitter (@glutenfreewife), and don't forget to leave comments!

Cheers!