My sweet celiac and youngest, Izzy

Tuesday, July 19, 2011


Lord this amazing obsession in America, brought over from Italy and appetizer, a small plate, a delicious goodness that has become a huge meal with enormous and amazing absolute slap in the face to the gluten free community.  In my opinion that is.  I have tried every premade or store bought and even some fresh pizza oven places who offer gluten free pizza crusts and i have to say I am most disgusted with it.  Flatbread is a general term thrown around loosly and in the gfree world seems to mean a cardboard nasty mess.  DISGUSTING....until now.  It has gotten so bad that Isabelle will not even TRY pizza from a pizza place or from my own oven.  Poor thing associates pizza with pain, both dairy and gluten and I'm not sure which is worse when it comes to pizza for her but she HATES it and will not try it mostly at all.  BUT still my obsession and life's work seems to be to find a gluten free crust that won't make her sick but meets some of my requirements too since going gluten free.  It should have a bite to it, it should have a rise to it and it should LOOK like pizza, NOT a cardboard box.  Most importantly it should taste amazing.  Impossible?  If you have been gluten free recently you would think so.  I have mentioned before the Art of Gluten Free Baking and she has a pizza crust that has yeast in it and you let it rise twice and bake it twice and when I say it's good, TRUST me it's yummy!  After all the crap I've tried, it is as close to a real pizza if not better than I have ever had.  I made it with my friend, Henrietta, on one of our baking testing days...I can make the crust gluten and dairy free and since Izzy doesn't like cheese I leave half without!  I have heard that for the dairy free Daiya cheese is a good alternative but I have not tried this yet so please don't quote me on this one!
Her crust recipe is as follows:
I follow the recipe but I let mine rise a bit more than the thin style and then prior to baking I brush with olive oil and dock the dough. My favorite thing is to after it's cooled, brush again with olive oil and minced garlic then top with slices of tomato and fresh mozarella with shredded proscuitto and shredded basil and rebake until the cheese is melted and bubbly.......Izzy still picks the cheese off but I have had more compliments on this pizza than when I made it with the gluten dough....and it makes pizza marguerita taste like Italy sans glutino! Buon Appetito!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

You can call me awesome if you want to....:)

One of my favorite lines that my son said to his big sis while we were driving from Atlanta to Jacksonville, on our cross country vacation, but I have to say I feel a little like saying that about one of my best friends, Henrietta, and my cooking day.  Gluten Free Diva, Pasta Mama....alot of great names come to mind today with our amazing sucesss in the kitchen.  We talked about it for months, we planned it for days, happened!  We started at 9 am and cooked until we couldn't stand any longer!  Henrietta has spent the last year testing for an amazing woman who is writing her own cookbook due out next Christmas called "The Art of Gluten Free Baking", her name is Jeanne and I am not kidding when I say this.....she is a GENIOUS! .....AND possibly a life saver! Here is her website:

Yeast intolerant beware! Everything we made today was gluten and dairy free but Yeast was in the rolls, pizza dough,'s one of those things that it's more of an every now and then things but man was it good!

We started out making her Parker House Rolls, like you have at Thanksgiving. I cannot tell you how I missed those lovely piles full of fluff and yeast. When we finished making the batter, the mix just smelled like bread....I thought my tastebuds would explode before I had waited for them to cook, cool and could taste one!  All I can say is I CANNOT WAIT for the holidays this year!  My sweet angel and close friend can eat EVERYTHING they want!!! Next we moved to pizza dough and pasta dough and pastry dough....once all the doughs were made and settled in their appropriate manner we made a real pizza marguerita, we made homemade pop tarts (strawberry to be exact), we MADE homemade PASTA (tagiatelle) and finished it with a yummy sauce of tomatoes, capers, lemon juice butter alternative, galic and olive oil)  along with buttermilk biscuits and used the extra pasta dough to make Nutella Eggrolls as well, one of my all time favorite deserts!  I learned to make dumplings for chicken and dumplings and also all the things we could do with the different doughs!

It was the most amazing day...we were able to have so much fun creating wonderful meals that taste like the "gluten original" and in half the time since we were helping each other.  This is going to be a trend in our households from here on out. We are going to make batches of different things we would normally make in our homes before diagnosis and freeze them so we can have some easy meals on hand.  I think that is the hardest thing about gluten free living.  Gluten free and dairy free living is a very clean way to live and very healthy but you can't just throw a frozen dinner in the oven or order pizza EVER and not be sick.  Every now and again it would be nice to be able to have something in the freezer that didn't take an hour to cook as well.  ie. a frozen pizza or whatever....and it not cost an arm and a leg and taste good.  Well, we made it happen!  It might go down in history as one of my favorite days in life thus far.  To make food that my child loves that does not taste bad or make her means so much to me and to be able to conquer my worst fears in the kitchen and gluten free realm successfully, it's the most amazing feeling ever.  I cannot wait for our next cooking day when we make Biscotti an all sorts of other foods!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Gluten, Dairy and Peanut....Oh My!

I love that so many people are catching on to the sustainable food era.  I love using local produce and meats when I can and trying to create a meal with seasonal ingredients I can pick up at the farmers market.  I never thought about this when I was younger, never tried my hand at making baby food when the older girls were little and had no idea how much I love food, entertaining and cooking for other people until the last 6 or 7 years.  It used to be that I LOVED getting to sleep in on a Saturday morning once the teenage girls got old enough to sleep in or watch cartoons  and now I can't wait to jump out of bed and head to the Farmer's Market in our small town....I peruse and push the stroller the first time around usually and look at what each booth has to offer and then go back for a second round to pick the things I love the best....and NOW, this year our local farmers have included grass fed beef and lamb, fresh eggs  and free range chicken.  There are things I go the the regular store for or I need to pick up at our natural food markets to complete the meals but Saturdays have become my inspiration for the week to come.  My understanding is if I made it down to Fayetteville that I could actually go three times a week and it's a bigger farmer's market....I will be trying this once it is no longer 102 degrees out though.  My children's food allergies have become a sense of well being for me, I know that eating all that over processed food is not healthy...I get it but sometimes you just want easy....
Easy has not been in my vocabulary for about 2 and a half years now.  Bringing home our sweet baby angel, Isabelle, and all her issues with being positive for cocaine and an allergy to dairy right off the bat after having adopted Noah right before and having his first three weeks with us screaming because of his dairy allergy and then the ongoing saga with what is Izzy allergic to this week.............who wouldn't run screaming? :)  Food should not be scary!  Food should be loved, and enjoyed and this is what happens when you tell me my kids can't eat:
I research, I expirament, I make until it's right.....not all things are success the first time around, some not even the second or third....but I WILL perservere.  Isabelle WILL be able to eat a buttermilk biscuit that is dairy and gluten free and will not make her sick!  She will be able to have a "mock" peanut butter and jelly sandwich if she chooses because all the other kids in school are taking them for lunch.  She will be a normal and healthier child because of what I create for her. 
I was talking with someone today who told me that they have been eliminating gluten, caffiene, dairy, sugar and yeast from their diet because these over processed things are making them sick then this weekend they cheated and had a sandwich and felt terrible because of it: I have learned one thing, when you know what food tastes like and you have to eliminate something because of an allergy......the first few months are hard.  You still remember what these things taste like.  And usually trying an elimination diet you are still expiramenting and alot of the food tastes you crave the other even more.  It DOES get easier.  There comes a time when you are just tired of being sick from eating the wrong thing.  There is a time when you say it just isn't worth it anymore.  Krispy Kreme?  You haven't tasted one of my gfree cinnamon doughnut muffins or Glutino's version of a glazed doughnut OR one of my homemade doughnuts with apple pie spice glaze for the fall....but this didn't come overnight.  You can ask the family there have been some terrible outcomes to this new way of cooking.  It is like a chemistry class....without gluten the chemical make up of things is drastically different and you HAVE to find the right combination of flours/starches/dairy alternatives and so on.  One tiny slip and your biscuit is a cracker.....Totally done that before.  SO, my goal is to take my amazing celiac business partner/dear friend and my wonderful guinea pig family and create until it comes out right.  In the end, I hope I can share with everyone else and make their lives a little easier in the long run.  it can be very depressing to have to do an overhaul of food in your life, especially if you are older and know what there is missing.  I want to make it a sustainable, healthy meal that makes you not afraid to eat or cook....stay tuned!

Sunday, July 10, 2011


Wow!  It's been a while since I wrote last.  Lana is doing fabulously and has enjoyed her first "new heart" VACATION!  Never thought those sweet words would come so soon but they did.  3 weeks in beautiful Florida for us with a little escape for mommy to NYC kid free and MUCH needed. We left Bentonville on the 13th on June with the car loaded to the hilt...yes, I said car.........we drove from Bentonville, AR to Jacksonville, FL.  Call me crazy but it was a great trip overall and Lana wasn't quite ready to fly yet and needed an appointment to check everything on our way down.  SO, I packed the car full of clothes, toys, diapers, medicine and G-free food for Isabelle and we headed out.  First stop, Little Rock where we checked into a hotel versus an apartment and settled in for the night before heading to Lana's appointment on the 14th. 
I will back up a tiny bit but in the last several months, Isabelle had dental surgery that led to a respiratory distress that led to inhalers that led us back to our allergist in Bentonville which led to another food and environmental allergy panel to see if anything else might be triggering her recent "asthmatic symptoms".  We are not not only Gluten free but peanut and dairy free also with allergies to mold and ragweed which one is in spring and one is in fall - poor kid.  On top of that, during the visit with the allergist she noticed Isabelle has what is called a "flow murmur" in her heart.  Given what we've been through and the fact that I also know that murmurs are not harmful and very common, I floated somewhere between panic and disbelief for several weeks.  At Lana's appointment though, she did amazingly well and got the final all clear for vacation and the head of transplantation listened to Isabelle for me to calm my nerves before our trip.  And calm she did.  She heard the murmur and said to have the referral so they can run a few tests but said she was fine.  Nothing to worry about. 
We continued on our way from Little Rock to Atlanta.  Flowery Branch to be exact.  And we had an amazing night with one of my oldest and dearest friends, Robyn and her family.  It was only a night and part of the day but it was so wonderful to be in her home, with her kids (and a bonus and awesome treat, her mom) and get to swim to get the car jitters out and catch up with her.  She is and was then on an elimination diet from dairy, sugar, caffiene and gluten do to some medical issues she's been having and what a treat for me to get to share some of what I've learned with her to help her journey be a little bit easier.  Now we text and share holisitic and helpful hints in life and food almost everyday.  How I love that woman and her friendship!  We left the Atlanta area and headed for Jacksonville.  The wildfires were so bad we adjusted our trip from 75 and went down 16 to savannah and down 95.  Not a bad drive and the kids were again, very good. 
Our trip in Jacksonville was an amazing trip for everyone with great seafood, Whole Foods, lots of eating out and lots of friends and family, water, beach, boats, and ending with an amazing 4th of July at my Aunt Shiela and Uncle Jimmy's.  It is a age old tradition to be at my aunt and uncle's and it was so much fun.  Unfortunately, during the trip Isabelle was exposed to gluten, dairy and peanuts and in and out of the pool left her skin itchy, scratchy and eczema prone and her stomach was in knots.  We did out best but traveling is SOOOOOO hard to do with food allergies.  I want to mention that we ate out at Sakura Japenese Steakhouse and I brought Izzy's gfree soy sauce and they made her a meal while we watched the Habachi going and she was pleasantly not sick afterwards and they were so accomodating about her allergy with that and shrimp.  We also found an amazing local bakery that is completely gluten free! OMG, yes i did just say that.  Talk about a kid in a candy store! AND THEY SHIP, at least most of their items.  Their name is Cookie Momsters and they are on Hendricks/San Jose for those of you that live in Jax, right next to Steve's Seafood Market.  They offer everything you can think of from cupcakes and cookies and bread to predone gfree meals.....HEAVEN...wish we lived back there again so we could take advantage of everything
It was an amazing trip with amazing friends and family and we were sad to leave and come home but yet at the same time, so ready to get home and get back to normal and in our own environment.  I have been cooking up a storm with frittatas and all sorts of things and ready to get into a groove where we are trying some new things I've learned.  A new website I've discovered, thanks to a close friend is Gluten Free Girl and a Chef author and her website is  expect many more new recipes that I am tweaking with our other allergies as well coming soon.  She even has a homemade recipe for creme friache, although not dairy free, does not bother her lactose intolerant family members at all.....1 pint of good cream in a jar (less pastuerized the better) with a dribble of 2 tbsp of Buttermilk....shake jar and leave it on the counter for 8-24 hours to thicken.  I would love to think we can make this with the new coconut kefir out now but I will have to practice it and let you know. 
Frittata Recipe:
1 pound of green beans, sliced on the diagonal at 1 inch and blanched for 3 min in salted water
1 red bell pepper chopped
1 small onion chopped
2 cloves garlic chopped
1 pd chopped baby bella mushrooms
4 TBSP unsalted butter (2 chopped and 2 whole) or Earth Balance olive oil replacement
12 eggs
salt and pepper
1 tsp Italian seasoning or 1 TBSP fresh tarragon chopped
1/2 C shredded or grated parmesan cheese
*optional add 3 strips chopped turkey bacon cooked in oven aprox 1 min

Melt unchopped butter and add bell pepper, onion, garlic, mushrooms to saute about 7 min, add salt and pepper to taste and then add blanched green beans, saute another 2 min.  Meanwhile crack and beat the 12 eggs and stir in Italian seasoning, chopped butter pieces and season with salt and pepper.  Pour egg mixture over sauteed veggies and let set.  transper frying pan to oven preheated at 400 degrees for about 4 minutes, add bacon if using and parmesan cheese and allow to cook another 4 min or until golden brown and firm.


Expect alot more in the coming weeks with my new trials....The big girls will be heading out with thier dad on vacation and in between my sister's visit and some playdates I'll be cooking and preparing for school to start back.....I am also writing another article for Peekaboo Magazine for back to school on kids with food allergies and how to deal with the fear of sending your children to school to the unknown of dealing with food allergies......will post a link when it's finished....