Friday, October 30, 2009

Happy Halloween!! Who wants brownies?!

Hello all,

In the great spirit of Halloween, I thought I'd make a super easy treat to bring in for my office mates. I really like Halloween, whatever it may be that you associate it. If your thing is scary movies, you have your fill playing 24 hours a day. If you like dressing like a monster, or slutty fill-in-the-blank, or any excuse to wear face paint, you have your perfect day. If you are a secret hoarder of mini candy bars, get ready to unabashedly indulge your sugar rush.

I like all of the above. Well, that's almost true. I actually get way too scared when watching horror flicks and abhor face paint, but I do love zombie flicks, Rocky Horror, and chocolate :)

Back to the recipe then. You can decide how far you want to take this. It can either be a semi-homemade treat that takes no longer than 45 mins to an hour to complete prep to cool, or a fully from scratch ordeal. Whatever you choose, it's a sure crowd-pleaser. Are you ready witches and warlocks?

Pumpkin Cheesecake Brownies

GF Brownie Mix or GF Brownie Recipe
8 oz light cream cheese
3/4 cup organic pumpkin
1/3 cup sugar
1 egg or egg sub
splash of vanilla

Heat oven to 350 degrees F.
Grease an 8x8 square pan.
Prepare GF Brownie Mix or GF Brownie Recipe following directions, and pour into pan.
In a medium bowl, combine cream cheese, pumpkin, sugar, egg and vanilla with a mixer until well blended.
Pour cheesecake mixture over brownie batter.
Cook for 30-50 minutes (depending on your oven.)
Cool and try not to eat them all at once okay?

Love the orange and black goodies and so will your allergic/non-allergic counterparts. Have a Happy Halloween and stay safe folks!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

I Love... Kinnikinnick

Ladies and gentlemen, before I left the country several months ago, I had never seen Kinnikinnick products in my Whole Foods. In fact, I had never even heard of their products. As I reacquainted myself with the grocery store upon my return to the USA, I did my due diligence searching high and low for new GF products that I could eat.

One thing I had noticed being in the UK, there was an overwhelming amount of GF and allergy-free food available. I had gotten particularly attached to Dietary Specials Deep Dish GF Pizza which became a Friday night staple with my hectic work schedule. I guess I complain about missing Chinese take-out a lot, but the other big ticket item I miss is pizza. I sooooo miss pizza. Yeah, cake was good, but so is GF cake. Pizza just has this thing, this crispy-warm-chewy thing that's hard to reinvent as GF. The GF pizza that's available in the frozen food section usually uses one of the 3 no no's for me: soy flour, chickpea flour, or almond meal. I kind of gave in to the fact that unless I got down with my own cornmeal crust, I should just forget frozen pizza all together.

And that's when I saw you Kinnikinnick pizza crusts. I figured, what the hell? I'll try something new. Well worth it folks; well worth it. The edges crisp up crunchy, the slightly sweet crust dusted with cornmeal really compliments any sauce/tomato combination you have going on, and though the middle tends to be a bit soft and at times dare I say a tad soggy, I have to say the overall flavor is wonderful. It reminds me of the square slices of pizza I used to get in the roller skating rink years ago when they still had those. You know, the ones where people skated on four wheels, in a rectangular shape on the bottom of the skate?

Basically, Kinnikinnick returned me to the bliss of topping my own pizza crust and thus started my journey into their products. I have to say, Montana's Chocolate Chip Cookies are insanely good and I eat them frozen (because they're not that hard) and they taste like chips ahoy! I must warn that those do have soy lecithin in them, but sometimes I just have to suffer because they're amazing. Their muffins are good breakfasts in a jam if you don't bake your own ( I do bake my own, but just had to try them) and I've heard raves of their hamburger and hotdog buns.

When I went to their website today though, I saw the other thing that I miss since going GF. My top 3: Chinese take-out, Pizza, and Doughnuts. The trifecta of healthy eating right? I'm starting to think it was good I went GF if for no other reason than the sake of my hips ;)

Yes, that's right. Kinnikinnick are making Maple Glazed Donuts and they're not only GF, but they're Dairy and Soy free too!!!! I think I just jumped out of my skin there for a moment. I'm going to my local Whole Foods this weekend and begging them to stock a couple of shelves of those bad boys.

I only wish we had the full line of Kinnikinnick products in my store, but please check them out. They're making delicious allergy conscious foods convenient for those of us who cook for the weekdays but like easy weekends (who me?).

Dear Mr. & Mrs. Kinnikinnick,

Feel free to spoil me with your products anytime you want!


Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Call to Action: Spelt Is Not Gluten Free

Those of you who are either Celiac, Pre-Celiac, or have been warned to stay away from gluten or else probably already know that Spelt is not gluten free. Let me say that again: Spelt is NOT gluten free.

When I first went GF, people offered me things made with spelt. I said no thank you because I had done my research and found that spelt is not okay to eat on a gluten free diet. "Oh come on," they would say. "It's not wheat flour!" Oh no dear friends; it's derived from wheat. This brings me to another point: Just because a flour is an alternative flour does not mean it is a gluten free flour.

These seem like basic things to say. Especially if my readers are allergic readers, so let me explain what's causing me to post this reminder.

Every now and then, I do a quick keyword search for gluten free food in my area, usually on Yelp or Google. Since more and more people have been diagnosed with Celiac or have become gluten intolerant, there are more options popping up every day for allergic eaters. But dear reader while clicking on some of the restaurant reviews and glowing recommendations for these "new options," I was shocked and dismayed. People were raving about gluten free pastries, crepes, and breads all made from Spelt. How can this be folks if Spelt is NOT gluten free?

I don't know if it's just a matter of poor self-education/research, or misdirection of the proprietors of these establishments (and I hope it's not the latter) but somehow people are not understanding that they could be putting themselves in danger by eating Spelt. These were different reviewers, attending countless different shops, and yet they all were eating their "gluten free" spelt goods (which as covered, were not gluten free.)

So what does this mean? What does it mean that out of every 10 or 20 places at least 35%-50% of the reviewers marked Spelt goods as gluten-free?

It means we need to do a better job. We as people, we as allergics, we as retailers and restaurateurs, we as mothers, teachers, friends, advisers and nutritionists. We need to do a better job and be active in our research, diligent in our knowledge of what is okay and not okay to ingest, and we need to be friends to our allergics (even if we're not allergic ourselves) and not offer them Spelt goods which are not, NOT gluten free because we've done the research.

It's so easy to be lazy nowadays. G-d, I'm so guilty of that sometimes! But we can't get lazy with our health. If we get lazy with our health, you know what happens? We don't have us anymore. We have sick us. And we all know that sick us is not fun or happy us.

Today, I urge you to be an educator. It can be as easy as when someone asks you why you can't eat something, you telling them specifically why. Maybe me just saying no thank you wasn't enough. Maybe me saying instead, thanks, but spelt isn't gluten free and I can't have gluten would have stopped them from trying to serve spelt as a gluten free alternative. We're taught it's not polite to question the host or hostess of a dinner party or get together, but what's more important: being safe and healthy or being polite? I say give details! Tell people what you can't eat, but more importantly why you can't eat it. Maybe then I won't see so many people ecstatic over erroneously gluten free goods.

Thanks for listening to my rant and continue eating safely :)

Thursday, October 8, 2009

I Feel Like I Write These Posts A Lot...

Yes, it's me again. After a bit of an absence. I feel like I've been writing these "apologies for not blogging" blogs at least once a month. Ahhh, the life of a working stiff. But this time I do have a good reason, albeit a rather repetitive one.

I'm moving!

What? How can I be moving again you ask? Well, I came back from the wonderful UK and my tiny studio with my tiny, tiny kitchen just felt- well, tiny. I need more space. I need a bigger kitchen. And ta-da folks, I am getting one!!!

I'm moving next weekend (not this weekend) and I'm very excited about it. I'm so excited that I even started pre-packing when I signed the lease a week ago. And that's not all. Instead of a galley kitchen I will now have a U-shaped kitchen with a beautiful, one-year old, almost never used digital oven.

Now those of you who have been living in modern times for years may snicker at this ovation for a new appliance, but those of us who rent in the perils of Southern California know all too well you will often get crappy used appliances from the 1970s and they won't function well. Experimental cooking is hard enough without having an oven that doesn't heat evenly or a stove that either cooks on high heat or nothing at all.

I'm hoping that with actual counter space I can now try out recipes that involve *gasp* rolling things out or copious amounts of chopped goods. I have thoughts swirling through my head and I cannot wait to christen that baby.

What am I doing for food as I hopelessly try to empty out my fridge so I can unplug it? The easy nutritious way out for me is corn tortilla quesadillas aka Mexican grilled cheese. How can there be anything easier in this world than heating up two corn tortillas with shredded light cheese inside? There isn't. In less than 5 minutes I have dinner, and have successfully avoided buying new groceries for this week and next.

In the meantime, I'm trying to dwindle down what is left in my fridge that would perish if taken out. I've come to the conclusion that I unnecessarily refrigerate all sorts of things like spices, salt, pepper, flour, and sugars. I think it's because my mom used to do this, possibly fearing the wrath of South Florida ants. Does anyone else do this too?

I can't wait to share with you dear reader the joys of experimental, low-allergy cooking in a bigger environment. But I do still have a backlogged recipe to post. I must be taking my lazy pills... It's coming I swear!

Fall is my very favorite season to cook in, so best you believe I have some stellar recipes coming your way. Just give me two more weeks :)