Wednesday, January 27, 2016

New Year, New Look

Most people take time at the beginning of the year to spruce themselves up a bit. Well we took a little time to spruce up Gluten Free Fantasy too! Enjoy the new look, and know how much I appreciate you spending a little time reading my posts. If you like what you are reading and want help support my work, please consider a monthly gift. Even $10 will go a long way in helping me continue my work! To give a monthly gift of any amount click the "donate" button on the top right sidebar.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Natural Food Coloring Powder - Creative Coloring for Creative Cakes

Frosting is not good for us. Ironically, you can add things that are good for you to create some pretty awesome all natural food colors!

Cake frosting is almost all refined sugar and fat, and even if you use organic palm kernel oil and fair trade powdered sugar you are still getting a ton of calories and not much in the nutrition department. Using natural food coloring powder can quell the pangs of calorie regret you may otherwise have also ingesting coloring agents that have a list of infamous side effects.

Natural Blue Food Coloring  - Spirulina Powder 

Spirulina is a blue-green algae used as a multivitamin supplement. Thankfully due to it's popularity, it can be found in the supplement section of many grocery stores. It comes in many forms, but the ones you  can use here are loose powder and powder in a gelatin capsule. Leave the tablet form on the shelf. Even if you could crush the tablet, it contains binders you don't want in your frosting.

Blue is a tough color to get in nature. I've used expensive all natural liquid food coloring purchased at Whole Foods and ended up with a gloppy mess trying to get the color intensity I was looking for. I had some spirulina powder in my supplement cupboard and tried it one year and have used it ever since. It gives a rich greenish-blue color and can be added to other colors to make them a deeper shade. Due to it's somewhat large grain it is a bit mottled, but still is small enough to make an even enough color.

Natural Red Food Coloring  - Cranberry Powder 

Red is a red-ily (pun intended) available color in nature, and as such there are many things you can use to make frosting a pink, or even a reddish hue. Beet powder is used as a natural colorant in factory made confections, and it is available as a supplement, but it is not widely available.

This is where cranberry powder comes in. Everyone who has ever had a UTI knows that cranberry supplements are all over the place. They come in everything to drink mixes to liquigels, but to color frosting, use loose cranberry powder or cranberry powder in the gelatin caps that have one ingredient.

To get the color above, I opened up six capsules to 1 cup of frosting. It blended nicely and tastes delicious! My daughter loved the pink on her birthday cake. and kept telling me the pink frosting was the best tasting as well. 

Natural Yellow Food Coloring  - Turmeric Powder 

This shouldn't be much of a surprise. Turmeric has been used for centuries, even millennia, to give curry a yellowish tinge, but it is also great for frosting as well. The deep yellow orange powder quickly changes frosting to a bright vibrant yellow. Just use a small amount, mix it in thoroughly, and add more if necessary. You'll be surprised how little it takes to make a very bright color.

Recent studies indicate that turmeric's active ingredient, curcumin, helps the body fight certain cancer's better and those populations who eat between 100 and 200 milligrams per day over a long period of time have lower cancer rates. It is used in everything from soup to salsa, and is a certified coloring agent in the UK.

Frosting Flops and Fanfare

You might expect these colors to change the taste, but they don't, excepting for the cranberry which brings an ever so slightly fruity flavor. I have tried other things to color frosting, like reduced blueberry juice, which was an epic fail. Nothing I've found works quite as well as these three powders. 

Natural Food Coloring for FrostingPowder coloring agents in general work better for frosting which, by their nature, are finicky to the addition of any liquid. Liquids such as the gel or alcohol found in manufactured food coloring can make the frosting change behavior while in the frosting bag, which can make frosting a big pain in the palm.

The drawback to powders is they are somewhat difficult to mix. It takes a bit of beating to get the color uniform, but not so much more that you can't accomplish the task by hand. 

Next time you pretty up a birthday cake, hit your local vitamin store instead of the baking isle. Tell them sent you. ;) Now, let's go have some colorful gluten free fun!

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Celiac Disease - It's Not Just a Trend, It's a Way of Life

Copyright 2015 Christine Emmick
"I can't eat gluten," I say to a store clerk as I ask him where the gluten free section is in the store.

"Oh, that is becoming very popular," he retorts, with a roll of the eyes. He must see many of those willing to try the next new thing.

For me, this is far from a trendy new diet.

In 2005, a full 10 years before now, my second daughter was born. I started having strange "spells" that made me very uneasy. I noticed they generally happened after I ate.

Two years later daughter number 3 was born. During the pregnancy I felt really good, much better than I should have. When I took her home and started to nurse her, the "spells" returned.

By that Christmas I had had my first grand mal seizure.

I continued to have seizures, a total of 9 grand mal seizures from December 2007 to April 2008, and simple partial seizures nearly every day during that same time. Now that I knew what they were, I stopped driving, especially since I never knew when I may have another.

I lost weight rapidly, to the tune of 125 pounds from mid 2007 to early 2008. I'd forget people, events and appointments, and I slept too much. Even then I had dark circles and an ashen complexion. I ate because I knew I should, but I had no desire to do so. This was mostly because every time I did, it felt like someone kicked me in the stomach.

I read about Celiac disease at the prompting of my mother, who is a nurse. She was always one of those people who is super insightful when it comes to medical matters, even before she got her nursing licence. After having a nasty seizure after eating takeout pizza, I decided to try cutting the gluten.

The first weeks were hard. I was still having seizures and they seemed to be more frequent than before. I decided to cut out dairy, as that was one thing that was said might be necessary. I drastically cut back on the variety of foods I was eating. The menu consisted of meat, veggies, potatoes and rice.

Eating the rice made me feel horrible, but I was so starved for carbohydrates and weak, I felt like I needed to take that in to keep some balance. Eating meat and vegetables isn't exactly cheap either. We needed to make the food budget stretch somehow with a total of three kiddos, two of which were in diapers.

Flash forward to 2015 and we've now gone through one miscarriage, most likely due to the Celiac Disease, and had one more kiddo. I still don't eat gluten, and I still get the eyeroll. But it is worth it. I have not had a seizure for over 7 years. and I did it without medication.

Sayonara Gluten! I don't quite understand why or how you caused my seizures, but it is certain that you are not just a diet trend in my house.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Alton Brown - Our Latest Binge

Org. Photo by Jen Segrest, (,
Speech bubble courtesy of Canava (,
Text is purely from my brain (Copyright Christine Emmick 2015)
My daughter wants to own a restaurant when she grows up, which means we either need to remortgage the house or get her into cooking and baking so she can do it for someone else for a while, or both.

 Wanting to inspire her, we, as a family have nibbled on all the episodes of Master Chef Junior that can be found on Netflix. We went on to devour Master Chef, Cupcake Wars, and even a few episodes of Hell's Kitchen. This all while ignoring my motorcycle loving husband's insistent plea for an episode of Feasting on Asphalt.

Dad never did get his way, but thankfully we were introduced to the host, Alton Brown via his show Good Eats. We sat back and laughed our pork butts off at the puns, the puppets, and the peppery dialog. It was history, science, home economics, and literature all rolled into one.

So I did what any good homeschooling mom does. I introduced it into our school day. 

Now we start each day with some AB, then move on to our regularly scheduled curricula and our affinity for the poaching punster lead me to his blog. I now scour AB's recipes and look for G-free alternatives. My puppeteer kiddo has even offered to help me with a video.

Now, let's go have some fun... with puppets and fire. ;)

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Take No Prisoners - The Gluten War is On

We've been living with this for years invisible, lacking supplies, and feeling alone.

Not anymore.

Comedians Dave and Brian have taken on our cause. In a mix of funny and truth, they're latest video brings awareness, and levity... the good kind.

Let's keep up the fight... and go have some fun!

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Quick n' Easy Ranch Dressing

Hidden in some far off valley lives the secret blend of herbs and spices, as well as some modified food starch, that creates the perfect ranch dressing.

Since I am gluten free, food starch is not on the menu. Thankfully you can create your own creamy, tasty ranch dressing without the little pre-packaged mixes with the extra stuff you cannot pronounce.

Quick n' Easy Ranch Dressing
  • Medium Glass Bowl
  • Mayo - As much as you want. A big veggie tray needs about a cup or so.
  • Greek Yogurt - The same amount as you used of mayonnaise, give or take a spoonful.
and these additions to taste...
  • Dried Onion Flakes - 1 to 3 Teaspoons. These sweet crunchy little yummies add texture and flavor to the final product. More onion means more texture, so add accordingly.
  • Garlic Powder - 1 to 3 Teaspoons. You could also add fresh minced garlic if you don't mind the texture it adds.
  • Dill Weed - 1 to 3 Teaspoons. This adds flavor and color. It is almost like sprinkles on a cupcake, some like a little, some like a lot, and some like it a little too much. If your dip is more green than white, you may be overdoing it.
  • Salt - 1/2 teaspoon is good enough.I use the fine grained sea salt for this.
  • Whisk - Small enough to go nuts on the stuff and not do too much splattering of dip.
You could also experiment with other herbs and spices like paprika, pepper, cumin, and parsley!

Get the bowl and put in the mayo and yogurt. Whisk in a small amount of what you think you will use of each spice and (this is important) taste the dip. If you skip this step you may make a pint of sludge that makes children's faces twist up in strange positions. You may also hear exclamations of displeasure as well. Heck, have everyone taste it, then add more as necessary.

Now here comes the hard part. Cover and put in the fridge for at least an hour, 2 if you can handle it. This gives the herbs and spices a chance to mingle with the mayo and yogurt.

DISCLAIMER: I have not been dairy free for some time, so this is not dairy free. Could you use almond yogurt? I don't know. There is a soy based sour cream out there, but I have not tried it since I learned way back that soy is a no no for me.

Comment and tell me what you added, what you liked, and what you goofed. I promise I wont laugh, especially since I have had my share of GF fiascoes myself. Maybe soon I will share a little story about pancakes. For now I'll just say it involved a scrub brush, a scraper... and the fire alarm. 

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Facebook 10 Blessing Challenge for the Salvation Army

Ready to be blessed?
To create a atmosphere of thankfulness in my heart, I am creating the "10 Blessing Challenge" to my friends and family. Here's how it goes... post 10 blessings in 10 hours and challenge 10 others to do the same. If you don't, you have to give $10 to the Salvation Army buckets this season!
Here is my list:
1. My family is healthy.
2. My husband has a job.
3. My girls are growing.
4. We have family and friends who love us.
5. We know that no matter what happens in the next year, we are loved and will be provided for.
6. We have great passion for what we believe.
7. God has put awesome people in our lives to guide us, love us, and support us.
8. We have a warm house.
9. My girls are sharing the same great passion, but taking different paths. It is awesome to see God's plan emerging in their lives.
10. We have enough leftovers that I do not have to cook for at least two days!
Now it is your turn, share and challenge! GO!