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 glutenfreefantasty.blogspot.com 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, (https://www.flickr.com/photos/verybigjen/),
Speech bubble courtesy of Canava (https://www.canva.com),
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!

Friday, March 1, 2013

Milk in the Raw - Hype or Hope?

The milkmaid.  Johannes van der Meer, circa  (1647-1675)
I've been dairy free for 5 years.

This means no mac and cheese, no yogurt, no pizza, no cottage cheese, no lasagna, no ice cream, no cute little blocks of cheese dipped in mustard at the buffet, AND none of the protein and nutrients that come with it.

That is until last week.

While I've dabbled in dairy over the last year or so. I've sampled, with a mixture of hope and dread, goat and sheep milk products, with mixed results. I have stayed far away from cow's milk however.

After consuming 4 years worth of processed cheese and milk like products, I was so tired of faking. I also thought if I'm trying to eat whole foods, why am I allowing these weird chemical combinations in my body?

I started to research raw milk.

Friends and family said, "Isn't it dangerous?" "Why would you want to pay that much for milk?" "Just take Lactaid."

Ignoring their warnings, I bought a quart of raw milk from my local co-op. I figured there was something to the raw milk craze and even though most of the people around me said that it was dangerous, I guessed they were speaking more out of fear than fact. I drank it and had zero ill effects. I decided to order a gallon from a local dairy from grass fed organically raised cattle because it was less expensive than what I found in the store. Besides, with 6 people in the family, a quart of milk goes in half a morning.

Researching the benefits of raw dairy products I came across some some interesting information. A study reported by realmilk.com highlighted some interesting findings with raw milk when it was intentionally contaminated with salmonella...

"To study this issue further, Organic Pastures contracted with BSK labs in Fresno to perform multiple challenge and recovery tests on our raw milk and raw colostrum. When 7 logs (10 million counts) of pathogens were added to one-milliliter samples of organic raw milk they would not grow. In fact they died off. The salmonella was so badly out-competed that it could not be found less than 24 hours later."

After a week of raw milk every day, my celiac symptoms, the gastric pain, the irritable bowel, the colitis, whatever you want to call it...

ceased.

I've also noticed the eczema on my face and nape of my neck fizzled to a mild dryness. Coincidence? Considering that we ran out of raw milk and it, AND my gastric symptoms, are coming back, I don't think so.

I am amazed, ecstatic, excited and NOT scared! Raw milk here we come!

If you find hope, usefulness, insight or help in this information, please consider giving a gift! It helps me to be able to feed these 4 hungry kids! Thank you for your support. :)

Monday, December 10, 2012

Call, (or boycott) Prop 37 Killers

A recent post by the Organic Consumers Association calls for the boycott of a long, surprising list of products whose parent companies donated millions of dollars to out swagger the prop 37 bill. This list includes tons of top name food brands including PepsiCo and Kraft.

Now this type of maneuvering may hit them where it hurts in the extra long run, but reaching out may be a better idea. As a consumer of Cascadian Farms Cereals (oddly enough the only one on the list I buy), I did some research and found the contact information for their parent company, General Mills. Calling them, writing letters and calling again, not only lets them know how you, as their customer, feel about their corporate influence, it also ties up resources that are usually fielding calls from stockholders and suppliers.

I complied a list of contact information on the parent companies donating to influence the downfall of Prop 37 so you can get in on the job of educating our food manufacturers:

PepsiCo:

1-800-433-2652

 Consumer Relations
1 Pepsi Way
Somers, NY 10589

M-F 9:00a.m. - 5:00p.m. EST

Website: https://cu.pepsico.com/pepsi

 Kraft or (Mondelez International?):

 The general telephone number is 847-646-2000.

Kraft Foods Group, Inc.,
Three Lakes Drive,
Northfield, IL 60093

Mondel─ôz International
Three Parkway
North Deerfield, IL 60015 

Website: http://kraftfoods.custhelp.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/26

Oddly, both of these companies have the same style of corporate website and I was directed to the Mondel─ôz International site automatically when searching Kraft.

 Coca-Cola: 

The Coca Cola Company
P.O. BOX 1734
ATLANTA, GA 30301

USA (800.438.2653)

Website: http://www.coca-colacompany.com/contact-us/

General Mills:

763-764-7600. I

General Mills
P.O. Box 9452
Minneapolis, MN 55440

Website: http://consumercontacts.generalmills.com/consolidatedcontact.aspx?page=faq&js=True


 Conagra:

U.S. Consumer Affairs 1-877-CONAGRA(1-877-266-2472)
Canadian Consumer Affairs 1-800-461-4556
Investor relations 402-240-4154
Corporate Headquarters 402-240-4000

ConAgra Foods Inc.
One ConAgra Drive
Omaha, NE 68102-5001

Websites:

Consumer website: http://www.conagrafoods.com/contact-us
Investor website: http://www.conagrafoods.com/investor-relations/contact-information


In 2008 or 2009 I contacted these folks and asked where they sourced their Wesson brand oil. The lady on the phone became very nervous and said, "That information is privileged." Then she hung up on me. I was just going to ask if their canola was GMO. I don't think they wanted me to know. 


Kellogs:

Call Consumer Affairs 1-800-962-1413

 Kellogg's Consumer Affairs
P.O. Box CAMB
Battle Creek, MI 49016

 Website: http://www.kelloggs.com/en_US/contact-us.html

 Smuckers:

 The J.M. Smucker Co.
1 Strawberry Lane
Orrville, Ohio 44667-0280 

1-888-550-9555 (9-7 EST Monday-Friday)
Fax: 1-330-684-6410

Website: https://www.smuckers.com/contact/default.aspx

 Unilever:

 1-800-298-5018 Monday-Friday 8:30 AM-6:00 PM Eastern Time.

 Unilever
 800 Sylvan Avenue
 Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey 07632

 Website: http://www.unilever.us/resource/contact/default.aspx


 Dean Foods:

 Dean Foods
2711 N. Haskell Ave.,
Suite 3400
Dallas, TX 75204

 214-303-3400

 Website: http://www.deanfoods.com/media/56157/df_fact_sheet_2012.pdf

 This "website" is actually a media flier.


 If you'd still like to boycott the products, this is Organic Consumers Association's list:

"PepsiCo (Donated $2.5M): Naked Juice, Tostito's Organic, Tropicana Organic • Kraft (Donated $2M): Boca Burgers and Back to Nature • Safeway (Member of Grocery Manufacturers Association, which donated $2M):"O" Organics • Coca-Cola (Donated $1.7M): Honest Tea, Odwalla • General Mills (Donated $1.2M): Muir Glen, Cascadian Farm, Larabar • Con-Agra (Donated $1.2M): Orville Redenbacher's Organic, Hunt's Organic, Lightlife, Alexia • Kellogg's (Donated $791k): Kashi, Bear Naked, Morningstar Farms, Gardenburger  • Smuckers (Donated $555k): R.W. Knudsen, Santa Cruz Organic • Unilever (Donated $467k): Ben & Jerry's • Dean Foods (Donated $254k): Horizon, Silk, White Wave"

As a last note, please use this information with prudence. Do not go and call them and scream in their ear or picket their headquarters in your underwear. Respect begets respect, and you gotta give it to get it.

Now, lets go have some fun!

Sunday, September 30, 2012

How to Cook Butternut Squash - Yes You Can!

Do the isles of strange looking vegetables in the produce department scare you? It used to scare me too. Now I revel in the inexpensive variety of squash avalible at my local Whole Foods every fall and winter. Acorn, Butternut, pumpkin, Patty Pan, Hokkaido, I've tried the traditional and not so traditional and had yummy results.

Squash is not only healthy, it is very tasty too. It's not hard to prepare fresh squash either. Butternut, my favorite squash, has a mild nutty flavor, and you can prepare it similar to sweet potatoes. The organic butternut has a rich orange color and a wonderfully sweet flavor. It's great with cinnamon and honey! This is how I prepare it:


First Peel the squash with a vegetable peeler.


Then chop off the ends of the squash with a chef knife.





Then cut it in half. Depending on the ripeness, this may be a difficult task.
 


The heavy chef's knife makes this an easy task.

Next, save the seeds. Gently pinch the seeds out of the goo with your finger.



This should not be done to varietys that have patented seeds.

Next slice it lengthwise in strips and cut into chunks. Place the chunks in a baking dish and sprinkle with honey, olive oil (or butter if you are not dairy-free), a sprinkle of Himalayan sea salt and cinnamon. Bake at 325 degrees until the chunks are soft. Smash the chunks with a fork and serve!

Monday, June 4, 2012

Pampered Chef (RTM) Microplane Review





Ready, Get set, GO!

I'm launching the PC part of Gluten Free Fantasy this week with my very first "First Look" at several PC products. My friend and upline, Lauree, is a super gal and she and I are going to have a fantastic time bringing you REAL info on these products. Expect excitement... expect fun... and expect fast paced info that is anything but fake!

Hold onto your laptops here we go!!



I grated the whole block of cheese in less than a minute!
Here is the PC Microplane (TM) adjustable fine grater (there is also a coarse FYI). It grated an 8oz. block of cheese so fast I nearly lost a finger when I turned my head. We grated pecorino Romano cheese which is made from sheep's milk. It's salty, and normally a lot like Parmesan, but not with this tool. The micorplane lives up to it's name and made fluffy micro-thin curls from this hard cheese. They were so thin and light that they melted in my hand! Also, as you can see in the video, I spent very little energy and time (things I have in short supply with 4 kids!) grating a good amount of cheese. In a later video I'll show you the whole pile I made in less than 1 minute!



The Blade is Made in the USA!
The one thing I didn't like about this was how sharp the blade was, but that is the reason it works so quickly. It look harmless coming out of the box, and I even was able to "test" the blade and did not get cut (that is until was using it for real), but it is not. Let the kiddos watch you (and point and laugh while they get you a band-aid) on this one. :)

My next video will be a "use and care" video, as I really didn't read the directions before I used it the first time. (hence the need of first aid, LOL)

If you'd like to get this, go to:

http://new.pamperedchef.com/pws/glutenfreepc

and search "microplane," or just drop me a line on Facebook and I'll hook you up. :)

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 Fant...