Monday, January 30, 2012

Gluten Free~Substitutions

I started way back in November, I believe, posting about my favorite substitutions for different types of allergies, I realized as I was tiding up a few things I never posted anything on gluten. Opps.  So I thought today might as well be the day.

Remember, I am not a nutritionist, or a food specialist, I am not a doctor.  I am simply a mom who cooks for her family.  This is my bit of knowledge I have that I am sharing with you.


When you cook gluten free, you must use a combination of flours.  Because gluten free flours don't contain "gluten" we have to fool what we are cooking into have that lovely, stretchy, gluteny feel.  That takes a combination of different types of flours.  Also, adding xantham gum or guar gum is a must.

I categorize the gluten free flours this way:

Protein (heavy flours)
Filler (medium flours)
Starch (light flours)

This is a short list of all the many wonderful flours!

Lightweight Medium weight Heavyweight
starch filler protein

arrowroot amaranth almond
cornstarch coconut brown rice (regular)
potato starch garbanzo buckwheat
sweet rice millet cornmeal (stone ground)
tapioca quinoa walnut
white sorghum pecan

superfine brown rice chestnut

teff other nut flours

Just a few notes on flours:
~Tapocia and arrowroot flour are also called tapioca and arrowroot starch.  They also are interchangable in recipes.
~Potato flour is NOT the same as potato starch.  DO NOT substitute one for the other!!!!!
To make a gluten free item, you need one of each type of these flours in your recipe, or maybe more.

Here is a great link that explains each flour.   I am not going to reinvent the wheel and type out each kind of flour.  There are so many sites with great info!

Gluten free baking is about ratios of flours.

Famous blends are ones created by Bette Hagman.  I have written about her in other posts.  She is the author of several cookbooks, including The Gluten Free Gourmet Her blends are sold by Authentic Foods.  I like her blends, however, since we are corn free I sub tapioca or arrowroot for the cornstarch she calls for.  There are so many blends and recipes out there, however, Bette's work great for me.

My favorite to use are as follows:

 Gluten-Free (GF) Mix - from Bette Hagman's Gluten Free Gourmet
3 c. rice flour  (I like superfine brown rice)
1 c. potato starch (NOT potato flour)
1/2 c. tapioca starch

Mix well.  This is a good all purpose substitution

 Featherlight Mix - from Bette Hagman's Gluten Free Gourmet Bakes Bread
1 c. Rice flour (I usually use a white rice~  this is good for light breads)
1 c. arrowroot (her recipe calls for cornstarch)
1 c. tapioca starch
1 Tbs. potato flour (NOT potato starch)

Bette Hagman Four Flour Bean Mix:
2/3 cup garfava (or garbanzo) bean flour
1/3 cup sorghum flour
1 cup arrowroot (her recipe calls for cornstarch)
1 cup tapioca starch
This makes 3 cups. It exchanges for wheat flour in recipes. It is higher protein than the rice blends, and so higher in nutrition. Some people do not like the bean taste though. Used for heavy bread such as banana or pumpkin.

Note:  Since I use large amounts of these flours, I make huge batches at a time.  I buy gallon (or larger) ziplocs and store the mixed flour blends in them.  I usually triple the recipes.

One other brand I am just loving is Cooqi Brand mixes.  She premixes the blends and sells them.  Her site has fabulous recipes.  You may recall I used her mix for my pie shell at Thanksgiving time.

What are your favorite blends?  What is a trick or tip that you could share?

Friday, January 27, 2012


Do you have those things in your life which you think "I would NEVER do that!" or perhaps "WHY on earth would I want to do that?" or even "Sounds good, BUT it isn't for me!"

Well my thing was homemade laundry soap.

Yup.  I always thought that it sounded like WAY to much work to save some money.  All the measuring and melting and stirring, you know all those recipes for making it on the stove top???  Sounded like a lot of work.  And while I know the recipe works for people, I already make so many things from scratch, I just didn't want another "thing" to make.

Then I stumbled upon some dry laundry soap recipes.  As simple as grating soap and mixing it up with a couple other things.  "Hmmm, well maybe it wouldn't be so much work" I thought.  I still wasn't to keen on shredding an entire bar of soap.  But I thought, I will give it a go.

So I bought the ingredients.  Borax, Fels Naptha soap bar, and Arm and Hammer Super Washing soda.   They have sat on top of my dryer waiting for months for me to finish up my Purex allergen free that I had.

Note:  I found Target carried all three ingredients, as did Cub Foods.  Otherwise look online. 

Well, today was the day to make it.  (I may have been out of laundry soap and may have had a stack of dirty clothes that my family was requesting be cleaned.  Whiners.)

I tweaked the recipe just a bit, but here is what I did.

I took the bar of soap and microwaved it for one minute, 30 seconds.  It kinda foamed up.  I recommend letting it cool a bit before working with it.  (um, I may have not waited and burnt the tips of my fingers, or maybe not, but really~take my word for it ~ wait till it cools.)  I put the foaming bar of soap in my Ninja blender (still waiting for a Vitamix, someday, I have dreams about owning one of those bad boys.  Notice, they are NEVER on Craigslist....) and blended that bar of soap right up.  I added two cups of Borax and 2 cups of Arm and Hammer.  I blended again.  Then I poured it into a leftover plastic Tupperware container (I only use glass for food storage now, but I held onto my plastic stuff for projects like this...).  Also, NOTE: you may want to cover up any food on the counter top.  It isn't fun to have soap flying through the air and landing onto your yummy apple crisp.  Using an extra coffee scoop I had on hand, I can now use one to two scoops for washing.  YEAH!  I also added about 20 drops of essential oils for "smell" factor.  I recommend lavender or lemon.  When I was done making it, I was all like, "Wow, that only took minutes to make!  What on earth was I waiting for?"

So to recap:

1 bar Fels Naptha Soap bar
2 cups Borax
2 cups Arm and Hammer Super Washing Soda

Microwave soap bar for 1:30 minutes, blend in blender with other ingredients.  Pour into container.  Use 1-2 tablespoons per load of laundry.

Note: skill level EASY!

Now I can say to myself... "WHY did I not make this sooner."  It is always something, I tell you.

Do you have a favorite laundry soap recipe?  Feel free to share your link below.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Meal planning part 3

Allergen free cooking can get tedious.  You figure out "safe" meals and repeat, repeat, repeat.  To break out of the rut, I found making a meal list was helpful.  Also, I also like to assign a type of meal to each day of the week.  For example:

Monday: crock pot day
Tuesday: pasta
Wednesday: beef
Thursday: chicken
Friday: pizza
Saturday: meatless
Sunday: leftovers

Then I get creative for that day.  Pasta day could be stirfry, spagetti, lasanga, etc.  Crock post day could be a roast, shredded pork/chicken/beef, whole chicken.... you get the idea.

What are some of your favorite go to meals?

Dinner Ideas
Pot roast
Beef shredders
Ribs (pork or beef)
Tacos (soft or hard shell)
Hamburgers (turkey, beef, veggie)
Asian Stir Fry (beef, chicken, veggie)

Crockpot chicken
BBQ chicken (wings or tenders)
Lemon Chicken
Pot pie
Fried Chicken
Chicken Alfredo
Chicken parmesana

Lamb chops
Lamb roast

Pork chops
Pork tenderloin

Grilled Salmon
Fried Tiliapia
Baked Cod

Tuesday, January 24, 2012


It never fails to amaze me how much I learn from my children.

God has been talking to me a great deal about prayer.  Seems everything I read is on prayer, whether it is on a blog I stumbled onto, or when I randomly open my Bible, or a post on Facebook.  It is everywhere.  And now He is using my children to reach me.

Just a bit of background:

My sweet littlest guy has begun this knack of asking questions that are so deep and over my head, that I often have to have a 5 minute conversation to just understand what he is asking.  Really.  He thinks differently then I do.  I tend to be concrete absolute and he is abstract as they come.  I am orderly, black and white, he is a rainbow whose colors are splashed all over in random bits.  But I love him to pieces.  He calls me "My Mama," still snuggles me tight (at age 7).  When I recently burned my fingers badly, he came over and patted and rubbed my back with huge tears in his eyes said, "Oh my Mama, I love you, I am so sorry you got hurt"  Yup, love that kid.  However, he tends to wear me out with his Tasmanian like energy.

Today, he just blessed me.  He was out in the snow, I called my boys in for school and he said, "My mama, can we stay outside, we are having SO MUCH FUN!  And you know what?  My mama, God answered my prayer for snow.  I simply asked Him and He gave it too me."

Jesus asks us to pray with childlike faith.  He asks us to simply believe.  Amazing isn't it.  I love in the Bible where Jesus teaches the Lord's Prayer:
"Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil."
 Matthew 6:9-13 and Luke 11:2-4
Then Jesus goes on to say in Luke 11:11-13  If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent?...If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall [your] heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him? 

Thank you God for loving us.  While we may not get how You answer our prayers, or why sometimes it appears you do not, thank you for loving us and always have a plan in place for us.  Help us to have a simple, child like faith.  Help us to remember to ask and BELIEVE. 

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Meal Planning part 2

One of the best things I have done for meal planning is to brainstorm a master list of ideas.  I previously listed some breakfast ideas here.  Here are some lunch ideas.  What are your favorite lunch ideas?

Lunch Ideas
Sandwiches (lunchmeat)
Sandwich wraps (veggie)
Grilled cheese
Sunbutter Sandwich
Chicken soup
Beef soup
Tomato soup
Yogurt and fruit
Chicken nuggets

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Meal Planning

Knowing what's for dinner is hard for any mama.  We have all been there when it is 5:00 and everyone is starving.  There isn't a quick meal to be found and everything is frozen.  Sigh. 

I have found it even tougher with food allergies.  For us, because we deal with so many, we really can't eat out even if we wanted to.  So, if I don't have a backup we eat super late (and then they ALL become MONSTERS) or it is good ol' cereal to the rescue.

I started doing meal planning when we were first diagnosed with allergies, mainly because we had to do a rotation diet.  Rotation diet is basically you can only have a food once every four days.  For example, beef on Mondays means no beef until Friday.  We did this with meats, veggies, fruits and alternative flours.  Basically anything they could eat was on a rotation basis.  Now imagine, not only do I need to feed them but remember and keep track of what they ate and then when they could eat it again.  Can you say NIGHTMARE???  So meal planning became this girl's best friend. 

Here are a few tips and tricks I learned along the way that I recently shared in a class:

One of the most frustrating parts to being told you have a food allergy is know what you can eat or maybe just WHAT to eat, or even how to prepare it.  There are a couple ways you can take to simplify this:

1.)     Start with your favorite (can’t live without) foods and find replacements.  Can’t live without chocolate? Find one that works.  Make a shopping list to keep in your pocket of what you like, where you find it.

List 5 foods you can’t live without:                  List the replacement:
____________________________                  ___________________________
____________________________                  ___________________________
____________________________                  ___________________________
____________________________                  ___________________________
____________________________                  ___________________________

2.)    Start with the basics. Stay simple. Then move on.
Find 3 easy breakfasts and repeat them over and over.  Then gradually add in another, then another and so on… (Oatmeal, toast, cereal, eggs, smoothies)
Make a list of 3 easy lunches.  Repeat them over and over until you are comfortable.  Then add in more ideas.
Make a list of 7 dinners.  And/or assign each day of the week a certain meal.  For example: Friday is pizza night, Tuesday is hamburgers and so on.  When you have mastered 7 easy meals, try to add one fancy meal a week; maybe on Sunday when you have extra time to cook.

Make a master list of these foods to use when meal planning.

3.)    Have backups.  When you cook, always make extra to freeze.  Then when something doesn’t turn out, your schedule runs late, or you forget to thaw out some meat, you have a quick meal to go to.  Our favorite is taco meat.  I make extra a frozen dinner portion for each member.  Same with pizzas, I make double and freeze one.  What are two recipes you might double to freeze to have on hand later?

4.)    Again, stay simple.  A protein, a starch, a carb and a veggie (or fruit) make a meal.  Grill a chicken breast, steam some broccoli, have a cup of rice with a piece of bread.  Not fancy, but quick and nutritious.  List 2 meals with quick, simple, healthy ingredients.

5.)    Start a three ring binder to store your recipes, shopping list, ideas, and meal plans in.

6.)    Create your lists.  It takes time in the beginning, but it really is a time saver.  Create a shopping list, meal idea list (for each meal), and recipe file.  Keep a master and update it as you go.

What are some tips you do that I might have missed?