Thursday, November 29, 2007

Gluten-Free Pesto Chicken Parmesan Recipe



I just finished posting a pair of my favorite gluten-free recipes online at my free recipe library site - a homemade Gluten-Free Sun-Dried-Tomato Pesto Recipe (as pictured above) and a Gluten-Free Pesto Chicken Parmesan Recipe (pictured below) which puts that homemade pesto to use in a delicious combination of chicken, pesto, and cheese.

I love pesto! I enjoy the traditional / standard basil, garlic, olive oil, and pine-nuts variety quite a bit. And, I also like extensions on this theme; by adding ingredients like Onions and Sun-Dried Tomatoes to the pesto, simple and versatile flavorful variations arise and present new opportunity for further derivative-recipe experimentation - like the enhanced Chicken Parmesan recipe.

This pair of recipes formed the centerpiece of our Thanksgiving dinner this year. We decided to skip the traditional turkey and serve up something a bit different for the event. Since we were only serving a small number of people, cooking an entire turkey (or even a turkey breast) was just more than we wanted to deal with. So, pesto and chicken Parmesan it was - and a great success it was too! These recipes were definitely a hit with everyone that has tried them.

One thing I really like about pestos is how incredibly versatile they are, and how pesto can easily add flavor and excitement to all sorts of dishes. We make a fairly good sized batch of pesto at a time (as shown in the glass dish above), so I nearly always have leftovers for other creations. I put pesto on my gluten-free pasta, potatos, tortillas, baked celeriac (celery root - I have a recipe coming for this soon too), and many other items in my gluten-free diet. It is just a wonderful addition to so many recipes.

Here's hoping you too will enjoy the pesto and chicken recipes as much as I do!

Monday, November 26, 2007

Gluten Free Recipes: Chocolate-Chip Angel Food Cake



I recently wrote a Gluten-Free Blog entry about a free Pumpkin Crème Brulée Recipe (link to full recipe) my wife made and posted online. After baking the Creme Brulee, we had a large number of egg whites remaining. So, my resourceful wife decided the best thing to do with them would be to bake up a new gluten-free Angel Food cake variation.

This is simply a variation to the existing gluten-free and dairy-free Angel Food Cake recipe in our Gluten-Free Desserts book (page 68). It removes the lemon juice/zest, and adds a bit or orange juice and almond flavoring, and of course chocolate chips (to remain dairy-free, you'll have to make sure you use dairy-free chocolate chips of course).

The detailed recipe modifications are online here:
Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Angel Food Cake Recipe

I really enjoyed this cake! I have always been a fan of a good Angel Food cake, and this latest chocolate chip variation was a hit with both Celiac diet people and "normal" diet folks equally. I have an admitted weakness for chocolate, so the addition of chocolate chips only accentuated my hunger for this cake!

The exceptionally mild orange/almond undertones also furthered my enjoyment. Another nice thing about Angel Food Cake (in general, whether gluten-free diet type or regular), is that they are low-fat and should have no cholesterol either (even this one variation - especially if using dairy-free chocolate chips). The cake also tends to be rather high in protein (given the large number of egg whites used).

Hope you enjoy the variation as much as I did! I'm glad I took the photos of the dessert when I did, since the cake didn't last much longer thereafter. :)

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Gluten-Free Recipe: Pumpkin Crème Brulée



Pumpkin Crème Brulée Recipe (link to recipe) - a perfect gluten-free dessert recipe for the Thanksgiving and Christmas Holiday season, presuming you can tolerate dairy in your diet. I'm perhaps a couple days late posting this recipe here on the Gluten-Free Blog (for Thanksgiving that is), but this recipe will come in handy all year round and is bound to be a favorite among any that enjoy the rich creamy texture of Crème Brulée with the flavor of pumpkin, cinnamon, and vanilla!

I'm not going to try selling this recipe as a particularly healthy gluten-free diet addition, since it is one of the ultimate rich desserts. This is a full-cream Pumpkin Crème Brulée recipe that has a subtle, yet flavorful, pumpkin flavor throughout the rich custard. It can optionally be topped with a carmelized sugar layer if you prefer the traditional burnt-sugar top. In the Creme Brulee pictured above, we used our oven's broiler to slightly caramelize the top layer - since we didn't have a kitchen torch / creme-brulee-torch handy (that's a $20 item now on our Christmas gift list since we couldn't find one out at the stores before baking this dessert).

The recipe, like most creme brulee recipes, is rather straightforward and easy to prepare. It's mainly cream, sugar, and egg yolks (plus pumpkin and some spices) - all of which should be items easily acquired as safe-for-Celiac / gluten-free certified . It should take not too much over an hour to prepare this dish (including bake time). You will still want to plan ahead, since you will most likely want to serve it fully chilled (the dessert will keep fine in the refrigerator for a few days).

I hope you enjoy the recipe! I have been snacking on a couple of these dessert cups for a few days now - sorta pacing myself as to keep the calories consumed at one sitting to a minimum, and loving the fact I've had Pumpkin Crème Brulée for a few days running now :)

Monday, November 19, 2007

Gluten-Free Multi-Grain Multi-Berry Crisp


Today's Gluten-Free Recipe is a Gluten-Free Multi-Grain Multi-Berry Crisp Recipe. There are actually two recipe variations, which I will discuss shortly. Either variation makes for a delicious gluten-free dessert.

This is a simple and quick to prepare gluten-free recipe featuring a combination of your favorite berries (in my case, this included a medley of blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries), coupled with a delightful, flavorful, and healthy gluten-free grains blend.

The first variation uses certified gluten-free oats as one of the grains of choice. If your gluten-free diet does not include such oats, then the second variation substitutes another grain instead. Both recipes use Quinoa Flakes, Flaxseed meal, and Buckwheat Groats (which ARE gluten-free, and add a nice toasted-grain flavor when baked).

Speaking of buckwheat, it seems there are still plenty of Celiacs out there, and others on a gluten-free diet, that are still receiving misinformation about buckwheat. I continue to encounter people that have not yet learned that Buckwheat is gluten free (as long as not contaminated with other gluten-containing grains) and appears in many commercial gluten-free products too. I'll be writing a detailed gluten-free blog article about buckwheat, why it is gluten-free, and a look at a few of my favorite buckwheat-containing commercial products, baking ingredients, and recipes too.

In the meantime, enjoy the Gluten-Free Berry Crisp Recipe (available on my free Gluten-Free Recipes Library site at that link)!

Last, if any of you are interested in my Gluten-Free Desserts book, I have decided to participate in the famed "Black Friday" with my own Gluten-Free Black Friday Sale this week. I'll post more about that tomorrow, but regardless, the sale will occur this Friday right after Thanksgiving 2007, as the Christmas 2007 holiday shopping season kicks off in full. I know people have been crunched with high gas prices, inflation in general, and so forth, so I will ease the burden on anyone shopping for gluten-free gifts - at least when it comes to cookbooks.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Donate Rice while improving your Vocabulary


Perhaps you have already encountered this interesting way to increase charitable giving of food, but it was news to me when I recently heard about it. Through an interactive online vocabulary game, FreeRice.com provides a rather unique way to encourage participation in a campaign to address world hunger.

You are presented with a vocabulary word, and for each word definition you choose correctly (from 4 possibilities), 10 grains of rice are donated to the United Nations Food Program. Perhaps it doesn't sound like much, but after "playing" the game for a short while, I quickly reached in excess of 1000 grains donated, which I would expect could be enough to help alleviate hunger in at least one person for a meal for a day. It's a start.

The "game" is addictive. It is seriously challenging, as with each correct answer, the difficulty level of the vocabulary word will increase. I found it rather tough after hitting the high-30's, and I plateaued at level 43. This "challenge" alone kept me playing the rice donation game for quite a while, which is the idea (and a good one at that). It is engaging, and you'll find your vocabulary improving while you play, and your donated rice piles (graphical piles are displayed as you go) will grow.

I also did check to see whether this site was for real (i.e., truly charitable, and all proceeds going to the advertised cause), and it appears to be the case. The following is a quote from the site, which I will assume to be fact:

"Does FreeRice make any money from this?

FreeRice and its sister site Poverty.com have not made a penny from this. Nor does it cost us much, as our only significant expense is our servers."


With Thanksgiving and Christmas quickly approaching, I can't help thinking how many less-fortunate people around the planet are in need of food. My participation via this rice donation site may be a small way to increase giving, but when multiplied by thousands of people (or millions) also making a small contribution, suddenly there is hope of making a real impact.

I couldn't help wondering why in particular Rice was the chosen grain to donate. Rice just happens to be Gluten-Free, but if the donations had been wheat or some other grain, I'd still have participated. Perhaps Rice is just the best grain to distribute for many reasons, whether potential for allergies with other grains, or because much of the rice produced these days is slightly fortified during processing (which would help address some nutritional deficiencies), or perhaps it is just the least expensive way to feed the most people. Either way, I find this rice donation program noteworthy.

Unrelated: Gluten-Free Cavemen
Although I missed the episode, a friend called to tell me about how Celiac Disease (or, more specifically, gluten) was a big topic on ABC's "Cavemen" television show during the "Rock Vote!" 11/13/07, Rock The Vote episode. Did any of you see it?

It is still available online here: http://dynamic.abc.go.com/streaming/landing

From what I hear (I have yet to take time to view it), it was rather funny (though not particularly accurate with regards to Gluten and gluten-free diet issues), as a war was waged on Gluten during the election. Being a comedy, I'm not surprised it wasn't completely accurate, but one way or the other, it should raise awareness of the fact that many of us live gluten-free. I hear there was some discussion of how gluten-free food didn't taste the best -- perhaps I need to talk to ABC about this and bake some great gluten-free cookies or cake for them! :)

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Gluten-Free Brown Cow Yogurt Coupons


I have been a fan of Brown Cow Yogurts for some time, whether for their low fat variety, Non-Fat type, or the rich and creamy aptly-named Cream-Top yogurt they produce. Their yogurts all have wonderful probiotics / live active cultures (body-friendly healthful bacteria like S. thermophilus and L. bulgaricus, L. acidophilus and Bifidus) in them which are certainly good for our gluten-free diet options as well as our digestive tracts, presuming milk products are tolerable in your diet.

Brown Cow certifies most of their yogurts as Gluten-Free and includes this gluten-free statement on their website to quickly help you find which varieties are safe for Celiac Disease and gluten-intolerant people. In short, it can be summarized with the first paragraph, which states:
"Are all Brown Cow products certified gluten-free? Our Fruit & Whole Grains yogurts contain gluten, and we make our smoothies in a facility that has not yet been certified gluten-free. Otherwise, our yogurts are certified gluten-free."
Now, to the coupons! I noticed they have online "E-Coupons" available. You can currently get between 50 cents and a dollar off many of their products via the Brown Cow Coupon Page -- it asks for an Email address, then you get to choose from several coupon options to print.

The only down-side to their E-Coupons (in my opinion) is how their site makes you install a coupon-printing helper-control in your browser, and it requires Internet Explorer, which is all a bit lame quite frankly. I personally didn't care, because I just installed it into a "safe" virtual-machine I use for browsing the web, but it was still an added hassle. If you don't mind their website installing this "MeadCo ScriptX" ActiveX scripting/printing control used to print the E-coupon, then you can save some money -- you'll have to make that decision. I have to say to the Brown Cow company: please consider a user-friendlier alternative to this coupon-printing method, especially one that works with browsers other than Windows Internet-Explorer! You don't want to lose prospective buyers over technical constraints imposed on them.

Well, if the coupons are accessible and useful to you, enjoy that Gluten-Free Brown Cow Yogurt! Even if you can't get the coupons, I recommend their gluten-free products. I really like their yogurts, and tend to purchase the quart-sized containers since I eat so much yogurt. Their flavored yogurts are quite nice, and I also get the plain variety to which I add my favorite fruits and berries (and, I use it when making things like low-fat hummus too). Although I admit to liking the thicker, richer cream-top yogurt, I also like their lower-fat diet options too.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Golden KiwiFruit (kiwi)


My wife found these Golden Kiwi Fruit at the store recently, and I must say, they make a delicious gluten-free diet addition. I was never a huge fan of the standard Kiwi (the green ones), but I really like these gold kiwifruit. They have a rather sweet, less acidic taste that is definitely tropical in nature.

These particular specimens originated in New Zealand, which is second only to Italy in kiwifruit production - oddly, though native to China and declared China's "national fruit", China doesn't produce enough kiwi to appear in the top-10 producers list. With all the recalls of Chinese products and food these days, I'll admit that I feel much safer consuming Kiwi originating from New Zealand that I would if they had come from China.

I'm always glad to find new foods to mix into my gluten-free diet, and adding a new fruit to the mix is rather simple since fruit in general contains no gluten. Variety in the fruits and vegetables category will help make up for some of those wheat and gluten-containing foods that you can no longer eat. And, these make for a health diet addition too, since they are high in Fiber, Vitamin-C, and Potassium (by weight, just slightly lower potassium than a banana).

There is very little waste with kiwifruit also - especially with these golden fruit that have been cultivated to have less "hair" on the outside, so you can just wash them off and scrub loose what little bit of "hairy" coating there is and eat them whole. You can also certainly use a spoon to eat the center, leaving a very fine skin to be disposed of.

I definitely recommend these things, and if you get a chance to add them to your gluten-free diet, you will probably be happy you did. A tasty, healthy, natural treat for all of us with Celiac Disease or Gluten Intolerance - excellent!

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Gluten-Free Diet hits the MSN.COM "A-List"


My daughter noticed this on MSN.com today, and I just had to take a snapshot of the MSN homepage showing that "Gluten-Free Diet" is currently an "A-List Search" term! (note: I added the yellow ellipse in the picture above). It's sort of interesting that such a search term would rank right up there with the Princess Diana inquest, election results, and Rosie O'Donnell.

Perhaps Gluten-Free Diets are really taking off these days, and maybe even for more people than just Celiac sufferers and the gluten intolerant among the population. Maybe a lot of people are just simultaneously recognizing various symptoms of potential Celiac Disease or gluten-intolerance in their lives too. Or, maybe it is that all of us that are Gluten-Free are just getting ready for the Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday season and the gluten-free baking that we're going to have to do soon (or, perhaps we're even searching for those special gluten-free diet christmas gifts).

Maybe it has been rumored that the gluten-free diet is the cure-all for various non-Celiac-related conditions too, or perhaps someone hyped it as a great weight-loss diet. Well, whatever the case, it is rather fascinating to me that for a condition / disease that supposedly only affects perhaps one in a hundred, there sure are a lot of people performing searches for gluten-free diet items (at least according to MSN today). The way I see it, exposure and recognition of the condition and the diet are what matters, and even something as simple as "Gluten Free Diet" being a top search-term for a while is a great thing to help this along.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Gluten-Free Foods / Products Inflation

If it wasn't bad enough to get hit with massive and rapid inflation at the gas pump all the time, that same inflationary pressure is forcing its way into my daily gluten-free food budget too. I use Amazon.com to order various gluten-free grocery items on occasion, especially items I use a lot of (since most deals at Amazon on gluten-free food are on multi-packs of the product in question).

A mere couple weeks ago, I placed a couple items in my shopping cart as I prepared for my next order of GF grocery products, and today, when I logged in to amend my selection with additional items, I was greeted with the following dialog-box contents at the top of the page:
Important Messages
Please note that the price of Bob's Red Mill Whole Grain Teff, 24-Ounce Packages (Pack of 4) has increased from $17.43 to $18.77 since you placed it in your Shopping Cart. Items in your cart will always reflect the most recent price displayed on their product detail pages.

Please note that the price of Mary's Gone Crackers, Caraway, 6.5-Ounce Boxes (Pack of 12) has increased from $34.40 to $36.86 since you placed it in your Shopping Cart. Items in your cart will always reflect the most recent price displayed on their product detail pages.
Although my first reaction was, "WOW, those prices sure increased in a hurry", it should have come with absolutely no surprise as I watch the Federal Reserve lowers interest rates (in an attempt to stave off further weakness in the housing sector) even though the threat of inflation, especially in energy and food, looms large.

Sadly, I can nearly guarantee there is more of this product inflation to come, whether you are shopping for Celiac-Safe foods for your gluten-free pantry, or just buying that "standard" household food items most Americans enjoy. If the run up in energy prices wasn't enough of a problem on its own (affecting production and transportation costs profoundly), to make matters worse, many of our grocery items are directly competing with the demands for alternative-fuel production (especially corn, but trust me, macroeconomics dictates that if the demand for corn pushes prices through the roof for that commodity, demand - and therefore price - for "substitute" or "alternative" products also rises; meaning, basically every cereal grain out there, gluten-free or not will end up costing more.)

The Gluten-Free Blog is not the place for me to get into a big discussion about politics, environment, economics, and the like, so I won't. But, in short, I really think we (as a country and world) need to really start looking at alternatives to consuming oil and alternatives to letting our driving habits force us to choose between converting our grains into fuel instead of food products. If farmers can make more producing grain for fuel, farmland in general will be diverted to such production, leading to cost increases in every other food product too. I don't see this all ending well if we don't change.

One positive thing I want to point out, is that Amazon's multi-packs of certain gluten-free groceries are still offered at a considerable discount compared to individual items at many retail stores. I expect that to remain the case, since it's quite likely that if Amazon ups their prices, retailers will be doing the same. As for inflation and my gluten-free recipe book, don't worry, I plan to hold the line on the price and not pass any cost-increases through to consumers -- everyone has been hit hard enough elsewhere!

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Gluten-Free Cocoa Crispy Rice Cereal Review



I found this New Morning brand Gluten-Free Cocoa Crispy Rice this weekend at Trader Joe's here in the Cleveland, Ohio area. It was featured as a "new item" in the store, and I had no prior first hand experience with it. As is my normal behavior when venturing into the unknown with a new gluten-free product, I just purchased a single box package.

I am please to report, I really liked these crunchy, and lightly sweetened, cocoa rice crispy bits. They held up nice in milk, and were both good for snacking on plain or eating for a breakfast cereal. They seem to be less sweet than many others I have tried, and I like it this way. There are only 120 calories per 3/4-cup serving, and 10grams of sugar per serving (compare that to 14grams, or 40% more per sugar, per the same 3/4 cup serving size in Kellogg's Cocoa Krispies - which are also not gluten-free from what I can tell, since they have malt flavoring for starters). The fact that the New Morning brand (unlike many others) are made from organic brown rice and have no artificial flavors and preservatives either is a nice selling point too for me. But, first and foremost, this New Morning Cocoa Crispy Rice had a nice pleasing cocoa / chocolate flavor and a nice crunch.

I guess it shouldn't be too surprising that these were a quality product, and clearly labeled gluten-free, since as I discovered later when searching the web for that link to the cereal I provided earlier, that the New Morning brand is owned by a company called U.S. Mills, which also owns the Erewhon brand (I prefer their crispy brown rice - gluten-free variety - for marshmallow crispy treats). I actually plan to try these cocoa ones in a marshmallow treat of some sorts, though being pre-sweetened, that may be overkill. Now, perhaps with peanut-butter? hmmm.... maybe :)

I'm putting this gluten-free product on my list of ones to definitely buy again. And, you don't have to be a Celiac (Coeliac) or on a gluten-free diet to enjoy this cereal.