Wednesday, November 22, 2017

The Best Things in Life are Free (Gluten Free, that is!)


A couple of months ago I started asking my followers on Facebook and Instagram to contribute for my Thanksgiving post.  While many bloggers are posting recipes and how to safely navigate the holidays with family and friends when you are gluten free, I decided to go a different direction.  I put out the idea that "The best things in life are gluten free." and I asked my followers to list some of their favorite things that are naturally gluten free.  

My goal is to show that there is so much more to holidays (and life) than just food.  In the Celiac and Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity world, we face the holiday season with trepidation and anxiety because of shared meals with non GF family and friends.  I want to focus on the positive things a holiday can bring.  There are so many negatives about living with Celiac Disease or any other autoimmune disorder or chronic health condition.  But, we're still alive and as long as there is breath in our bodies, there are beautiful and positive things out there for us to cherish and enjoy.  Every.  Single.  Day.  I didn't get a lot of responses to my requests, however, those who did reply provided some incredible thoughts on a variety of wonderful gluten free things to enjoy.  So, without further ado, here they are:

**Note: throughout this post I will be including hyperlinks to pages that are relevant
to this post and the people who participated by posting their comments.
I am including these links because I believe their pages are helpful
 to the Celiac and gluten free community.**

A few of my own favorite naturally gluten free things are: children laughing, waking up to the aroma of coffee brewing, kitty snuggles, relaxing with a good book and a cup of hot tea under my favorite throw blanket, reuniting with old friends, spending time with loved ones, connecting with others in the Celiac and gluten free community, joining my New Hope (church) family each week to worship and grow together, bear hugs, candles, an over-sized sweater fresh out of the dryer, kicking off my shoes at the end of the day.

Edie 'Smilee' Place Orris (Facebook): Spending time with my dear daughter! 
(Siouxland Celiac note: Thanks, Mom!)

mile_high_celiac (Instagram): Jumping in leaf piles, enjoying a hot cup of coffee in the crisp fall air, seeing the beauty of the trees changing color as far as the eye can see.
The mountains laying in wait for the impending snows in late October.  The monarch butterflies traveling through as they fly south for the winter...the gaggles of Canadian geese making their stops and honking overhead, echoing through the still chilly air as they fly in their perfect "V" formations...
Walking through the outdoor shopping mall with the smell of pumpkin spice in the air...seeing friends meet up outside a coffee shop, overhearing their excitement and creativity, exchanging recipe ideas and oo-ing and ah-ing over each new addition or twist the next person adds to the imagined flavors of their recipes for Thanksgiving...looking into confectioners windows and watching the candy makers begin to work on the new seasonal treats...breathing the first crisp breath of the new fall air.  Collecting flower seeds for the next year...collecting leaves for those projects πŸπŸ‚ there are so many awesome things that ONLY happen in the fall πŸ’“πŸ‚πŸ
(Siouxland Celiac note: don't forget to check out her YouTube channel Life Minus Gluten.)

martafocker (Instagram): Even though my Canadian Thanksgiving is well past I will still comment on What is Naturally Gluten Free (that I love).  That would simply be WATER!  Water water water!  I love Water SO much I can't even explain without sounding like a freak.  Obviously humans need water to survive but I love to drink it and bathe in and swim in it!  I don't need to add anything to my water to drink it, it does have to taste like NOTHING though (no weird aftertaste).  All sources of water are Gluten Free...tap water, bottled water, lake water, ocean water, pool water...ditch water 😜  And of course Bath Water...aaahhh think I will take a bath right now cause I'm thinking about it πŸ˜ƒπŸ’¦ but I really wish to go for a swim in Water but it's too cold...bah!  Wait: I should make a cup of tea with it...Naturally Gluten Free as well πŸ˜‹  Decisions, decisions. 
(Siouxland Celiac note: I LOVE my followers!!!  And @martafocker's comments bring to mind a charity I learned about a couple of months ago at church called Charity Water that works to bring clean water to Third World nations who have no clean water sources.  I will be writing about this organization in the next few weeks, so stay tuned or check out their website for yourself here.)

Cupcake and Yoga Pants (Facebook): Pumpkins πŸŽƒ, bonfires πŸ”₯, and ghost πŸ‘» stories! πŸŽƒ
(Siouxland Celiac note: you can check out Cupcake and Yoga Pants blog here.)

Jen Harold (Facebook):  Spending time with relatives we don't get to see often enough, a game of cards, veggie trays, and the joy that the season of togetherness brings.
(Siouxland Celiac note: πŸ’–πŸ’–πŸ’–πŸ’– well said!)

AlafiaMarije Wright (Facebook):  The soap and other skin care products I make for our company, God's Green Earth have started healing my family and are a blessing to many others and the beauty is that these non-toxic and made from scratch products are naturally gluten free and don't hurt people, animals or the 🌎  God really blessed us with this ability and this business.
(Siouxland Celiac note: for more information about God's Green Earth natural skin care products click here.)

rachelwjj (Instagram):  God's fresh grace every morning!!!  And, for someone who despises the cold weather, the promise of spring time 🌞🌞🌞the ability to have a job, gluten free food on the table, roof over my head and family to share it with πŸ’“πŸ˜˜
(Siouxland Celiac note: this wraps it up pretty good, don't you think?!)

Do you have your own favorites to add to these great naturally gluten free "best things in life"?  Please be sure to comment with your favorites.  I want to hear from YOU! πŸ‘‰

And, since it IS Thanksgiving, I'll give you a couple of links for some great recipes from two of my favorite people, my friends Kallie and Tina.

For Kallie's gluten free Pumpkin Pie bon bons visit her YouTube channel here.  I'm going to make these tomorrow!  I can't wait!!!!

For Tina's gluten free Dressing recipe visit her Better For You Bakery page here.  I use her mixes and recipes a lot.  In fact, I'll be making decorated sugar cookies this weekend using her  gluten free Sugar Cookie mix and her GF Buttercream frosting recipe!!  

Happy Thanksgiving and may you feel God's blessings and love through out this holiday season and always.

Monday, October 30, 2017

Truffles Anyone?

So, this past Saturday was National Chocolate Day and, feeling inspired by my friend, Kallie at Life Minus Gluten, I decided what better way to celebrate than to make homemade truffles!  Last week, Kallie posted a video on how to make these amazingly delightful treats.  You can watch the entire video here.  I'm not going to give you the recipe, so you'll just have to watch her video to see how to put these together.

Like I said, Kallie's post inspired me so I followed the instructions shown on her video and then did some of my own creations, as well.  I started with milk chocolate and dark chocolate chips combined with heavy whipping cream.  



While that mixture was setting I thought I'd try my hand at some white chocolate truffles.  I don't discriminate when it comes to chocolate - it's ALL good!

One thing I figured out really fast with the white chocolate is that it is much thinner than milk and dark chocolate.  I got some tips from Kallie on how to get this mixture thicker and I ended up using two entire bags of white chocolate chips and still needed to thicken it a bit with 1/4 cup of corn starch.  It worked like a charm and they taste AMAZING!!!!

The next day I decided to try one more combination and made another batch with milk and dark chocolate chips (heavier on the dark chocolate chips) and I also added 1/2 a cup of soft caramels to make this batch a dark chocolate caramel truffle.  A tip on these would be to melt the caramels before pouring the chocolate chips into the mixture because they are more dense and take longer to melt.


Once all of the mixtures had time to set (again, refer to Kallie's video on Life Minus Gluten's YouTube channel here.) I began to scoop out truffle mixture and form it into balls to roll in various toppings.

Toppings I used: instant coffee grounds, shredded coconut, crushed candy cane
cocoa powder and Himalayan Pink Salt (tip on the salt - a little bit goes a long way!)
People who know me will be shocked at the shredded coconut, but I made enough
to share and I know a lot of people who enjoy shredded coconut - not me, but many
others 😜😁

If you're feeling inspired, you'll have to try this easy and richly delicious recipe for yourself!  Until next time - Happy Gluten Free Eating!

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Fall Harvest Time


Hi everyone!  Boy, have I got a lot to share with you today.  The first thing I want to talk about is FARE's (Food Allergy Research & Education) Teal Pumpkin Project.  With Halloween fast approaching, this is an important topic to talk about.  Let me give you a little history about it first.

The Teal Pumpkin Project was started in 2014 by FARE to help raise awareness of food allergies and encourage people to provide safe items to hand out to Trick or Treaters at Halloween.  There are many other non-food items that you can pass out so that children with food allergies may safely participate in this yearly holiday tradition.  I was surprised this week to learn that this important campaign has only been around for 3 years.  It will be easy for me to remember, though, since my Celiac diagnosis occurred in 2014.  To learn much more about the #tealpumpkinproject and how to participate and let parents and kids know that you are participating click here.  This is such a wonderful idea as more and more children are being diagnosed with some sort of food allergy, Celiac Disease and more that are affected directly by the food they eat.  FARE is doing some amazing research and working hard to raise awareness.  As someone living with Celiac Disease, I know firsthand how isolating it can be to not be able to participate in an event, holiday or tradition simply because of the dangers of certain foods to me.  And I'm an adult!  Think about how much more isolating that is to a child.

I also have something to share with you that I am beyond excited about!!!  A friend of mine named Kallie Smirnov is starting a YouTube channel that is dedicated to spreading Celiac Disease Awareness, sharing fun and easy gluten free recipes as well as other important tips about how to navigate this gluten free life when you have Celiac Disease or Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity or Intolerance.  She is working on raising funds to finance this project and help get the word out through a gofundme campaign.  For more information about what Kallie is working on click here.  She is hoping to have her first video available in time for Halloween.  As a matter of fact, she actually began filming today for her first shows!  Check out her gofundme campaign and subscribe now to her Life Minus Gluten YouTube channel so you don't miss a single posting!  I've gotten to know Kallie over the past year and am so inspired by her positive, upbeat attitude and I love her sense of humor and the way she deals with everything life throws at her.  I'm very proud to support and promote what she is working on because I believe this is something that will be helpful to so many people.  

Siouxland Celiac Support Group

Next, I just HAVE to share with you about our most recent Siouxland Celiac Support Group meeting that took place this past week (Oct. 19th) at the Hamilton Blvd Hy-Vee Foodstore.  Hy-Vee Dietitian, Corrinna Lenort welcomed back Tina Meseck from Better For You Bakery who did a cupcake and sugar cookie demonstration for us as well as gave us tips (and her recipe which I shared in a recent blog post here) for making the perfect buttercream frosting!  

 Tina Meseck & Corrinna Lenort

 Tina preparing her special buttercream frosting

Tina brought un-decorated gluten free sugar cookies and chocolate cupcakes for us to decorate.  Everyone had a lot of fun with this - especially eating the finished products!!  Corrinna spoke to us about the Teal Pumpkin Project and about how we can participate.  For anyone in the Sioux City, Iowa area who is interested in attending the monthly Siouxland Celiac Support Group meetings, please contact Corrinna at and she will be happy to give you more information about the group.  The next meeting will be Thursday, November 9, 2017 from 5:30 pm - 6:30 pm.  Location to be announced.  We will be celebrating "Friendsgiving" with a gluten free potluck.  Whether newly diagnosed, living with Celiac Disease or gluten intolerance or sensitivity or a family member of someone who is gluten free due to health reasons, this group is perfect for you!  We hope to see you there!!  Here are a few photos from this last meeting to show you how much fun and how interactive this group is.

Happy Harvest and Halloween!

Un-decorated GF sugar cookie & GF chocolate cupcake by BFYB

Corrinna decorating her cookie
More decorating fun <3
My finished cookie and cupcake - and, yes, they were AWESOME!
My mom's finished cookie & cupcake

**The Siouxland Celiac Support Group is separate from and not affiliated with this Siouxland Celiac blog.  It is sponsored and facilitated by the Sioux City Hamilton Blvd Hy-Vee Dietitian.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Celiac Awareness Day 2017

Me (Siouxland Celiac) and my biggest supporter, my mom (Edie "Smilee" Orris)

Today is National Celiac Awareness Day.  Yes, I know what you're thinking - Isn't May Celiac Awareness Month?  Yes, yes it is.  But today, September 13th is National Celiac Awareness Day.  I can't help but reflect on the journey that has brought me to this point, the people and friendships I've gained along the way and how far I've come from pre-diagnosis until now.

It was just before summer of 2011 that I experienced what would be the first of too many anaphylactic attacks.  I know that not everyone is familiar with what an anaphylactic attack is.  Here is a pictorial example both pre attack and post attack.
Waiting for my hubby to get off work so we could have date night.

Approximately 20 minutes after the "pre attack" picture was taken

I'm not sure what exactly caused that attack.  I thought I'd gotten bitten by some kind of bug.  My face got swollen and my voice got choked off so that I couldn't speak above a forced whisper.  My husband, instead of taking me to dinner, took me to Urgent Care where they gave me a shot of prednisone and sent me home with a prescription for more prednisone to take orally over the next few days.  Then began the hives.  Horrible, large, angry pink welts that appeared over just about every inch of my body.  For 24/7 for over 2 1/2 years, I would be afflicted with these nasty, itchy blots.  My health deteriorated, brain fog set in, I was spiraling downward in depression, feeling like I was losing my mind.  I began to gain weight without diet changes, had major issues trying to focus and concentrate.  I began having increasingly alarming panic attacks at work, driving in the car, in the grocery store, etc.  I couldn't sleep.  I didn't know it at the time, but I came very close to losing my job at this point in my life because my lack of concentration caused me to make rookie mistakes and my attitude ranged from irrationally irritable to completely apathetic.  I bounced back and forth between my regular doctor, an allergist (who treated me 1 - as if it was all in my head and 2 - as if I was wasting his time), Urgent Care, tests, treatments and no answers.  I should have bought stock in Calamine lotion because I was going through it like crazy.  I would slather on the pink lotion before going to bed at night only to wake myself several times each night due to scratching the hives.  I kept my fingernails very short, yet I was still scratching so much in my sleep that I woke each morning with scratches on my arms, legs and torso and dried blood in my nailbeds.  I just wanted an end to all of the madness.  My doctor was worried, my husband was worried, my mom, co-workers, boss, church family - all worried.  What was going on with me?????

Then, on January 12, 2014 I had an anaphylactic attack that hit fast and hard.  It began with a slight tingle in the corner of my left eye lid.  I went to the bathroom and downed 3 Benadryl tablets, looking in the mirror as I did so.  There was no swelling, yet, but I knew it was on the way.  In the two minutes it took me to get to the bathroom, take the Benadryl and return to the living room, my face went from zero swelling to being so swollen that my eyes were nearly swollen shut, my lips were enormous, I couldn't speak and I was having difficulty swallowing.  My breathing, however, was fine.  Urgent Care had helped me before, so, since I was able to breathe, we headed there.  After about a 20 minute car ride, we arrived at Urgent Care where I was immediately given a shot of epinephrine.  Instead of getting better, I continued to get worse.  The PA at Urgent Care called for an ambulance.  When I told her (as best I could, considering I couldn't speak above a forced whisper and I was drooling all over the place) that my husband was in the waiting room and he could take me, she said that she wasn't even going to let me leave AMA (against medical advice).  She said if she let my husband take me to the hospital I would die on my way there!  I was shocked and had a hard time believing this.  She was adamant!  Thank God for that!  She was also right.  In the ambulance, still probably about 10 minutes away from the hospital, I quit breathing.  Talk about panic!!!  The EMT in the back of the ambulance with me, Corey, gave me a second shot of epinephrine and I was able to breathe again.  Corey and Nigel, the EMT's, are the only names I remember from that awful day.  They were my angels!  At the ER, I was given another shot of epinephrine, a shot of prednisone and a shot of Benadryl as well as an anti-nausea med and something to normalize my heart rate.  The entire episode began a little before 2:00 in the afternoon and we didn't get home that night until after 11 pm.  It was after 10 pm before the ER doctor finally decided it was safe to send me home.

The next day, my doctor's office called me to tell me that my doctor had one more test to run.  He was grasping at straws, but there was a test he hadn't tried yet.  I was desperate and hoping against hope that whatever the test was would be the answer we'd been searching for.  He wanted to test me for Celiac Disease.  I had actually heard of it, though I knew nothing about it.  I already knew of members of my extended family who had Celiac Disease.  When my doctor learned that, he became very anxious to test me because he knew that Celiac Disease is hereditary.  After a blood test revealed elevated gluten levels and I have one of the genes for Celiac Disease, my doctor advised me to research Celiac Disease and to get on a gluten free diet.  I had no idea what gluten was, let alone how to eat gluten free.  I was relieved to have an answer, but overwhelmed at how little I knew.  I was on my own.  There is no medical treatment for Celiac Disease.  It isn't something you can grow out of, there is no cure.  It is an autoimmune disease.  When I started learning about the over 300 possible known symptoms of Celiac Disease I realized that I'd been living with this monster probably since I was a toddler.  So many things about my life and health finally made sense.  

Unfortunately, when I asked if there were any other tests that I needed to have, my doctor said that there were not.  It was only after I'd been gluten free for several months that I learned that the gold standard for Celiac Disease testing and diagnosis is an endoscopy.  By the time I learned that I needed to have this to verify that I have Celiac Disease and to see how much damage there was to  the villi in my intestines, I'd have had to introduce gluten back into my diet for 6 to 8 weeks so that testing could be accurate.  Knowing that gluten nearly killed me, I chose not to do this.  I was terrified of ingesting any amount of gluten for even a day, let alone 6 to 8 weeks!!  I had already seen many health improvements and I hadn't (still haven't) had another anaphylactic attack since going gluten free.  The hives were gone and haven't returned.  I was sleeping better, the brain fog was lifting, my depression and stress were improving and the panic attacks were fewer and farther between.  I know that I should have had this testing.  Because of my experience, I tell everyone who thinks they may have Celiac Disease - do NOT go gluten free until AFTER you get the confirming endoscopy!!!!  This is extremely important! I don't want others to go through what I've gone through.

Now I am approaching my fourth year since diagnosis.  I am still in the healing process.  I continue to be amazed that I now know what it feels like to truly feel good.  It wasn't until about a year and a half or so, after my diagnosis that I'd had a day where I realized that I really and truly felt good.  I cried!  I didn't remember EVER having felt that good at all before in my life!  MY. ENTIRE. LIFE.  I didn't always feel sick, but I had so many different issues I was dealing with that even a good day before was NOTHING like the good days I have now.  Do the good days happen all of the time or frequently?  Not really.  Most days are not bad, but that doesn't mean I necessarily feel good.  Yet, "not bad" is a good thing in my life.  I've had so many of the symptoms through the years (by my calculations, I've experienced 73 out of 300 possible symptoms).  Even as I am typing this I am dealing with muscle spasms in my right bicep and swollen, achy joints.  While many areas of my health improved quickly, many others are taking much more time.  Getting a Celiac diagnosis doesn't mean that all of your health problems will clear up if you stick to a 100% gluten free lifestyle.  Not by a long shot.  I still have times where my body simply shuts down and says, "No more!".  If I am too stressed out, not getting enough sleep, not getting enough nutrients (a tricky one, since Celiac Disease means that my body has a really hard time absorbing the nutrients it needs) I can have days (in a row, not just once in awhile) where I simply cannot function.  I am living with an autoimmune disease, after all.  Actually, two autoimmune diseases, because I also have hypothyroidism.  But I do the best I can to take care of myself.  I avoid gluten and take pains to be safe.  Do I always succeed?  Nope.  Just recently I was with family and we ate at a restaurant where I've safely eaten gluten free items from their menu before.  I got complacent.  I didn't run through my usual spiel about being gluten free for health reasons, asking how the food is prepared, is there a separate prep space, ingredients & fryers used or are any seasonings used and do they contain gluten, etc.  I am usually so careful.  That day I was not.  And it cost me!  By the time we left the restaurant I was feeling bloated and uncomfortable.  By that evening my stomach was cramping horribly and I was miserable and spent a lot of time in the bathroom due to nasty diarrhea that lasted for many hours.  I spent the rest of the evening in bed while everyone else ate and visited with each other.  Well, between bed and the bathroom.  It felt like every 10 minutes I was getting up and running back to the bathroom.  I know better and I didn't take the precautions I normally do.  And I paid the price for it.  I don't blame the restaurant.  I didn't make my needs clear to them.  I blame myself for that.  That is why I'm not naming the restaurant here.  It wasn't their fault.  It was my own responsibility to let them know my needs.  That is why I tell people all the time, "do not take anything for granted".  Speak up!  Be your own best advocate!  No one can advocate for you and your health as good as you can!

#celiacawareness #glutenfreebecauseihavetobe #itsnotafadforme #siouxlandceliac

Until next time - be well.
Siouxland Celiac

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Gluten Free Baking - GF Mixes by Better For You Bakery

Before I begin this post about the new products available from Better For You Bakery in Jefferson, Iowa, I wanted to take a moment to address something that is heavy on many of our hearts and minds: Hurricane Harvey Relief. When natural disasters hit it isn't only healthy people who are affected. There are always people with special dietary needs affected as well. Here is some great information from Gluten Free Watchdog on how you can donate gluten free non-perishables to Celiacs and people with Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity who've been impacted by Hurricane Harvey. #hurricaneharveyrelief #glutenfreewatchdog  To find out how you can help, click here.

Recently Better For You Bakery released some new products available online here as well as in selected grocery stores in Jefferson, Carroll and Sioux City, Iowa and at Gud n Free in Sioux City.  Not all of these new products are available in Sioux City, however.  Gud n Free restaurant, for example, does not carry the Nut Granola because they are a nut free establishment.  However, all of these products (as well as previous mixes by BFYB) can be found at the Better For You Bakery Website.

(Labor Day Special from Better For You Bakery: This offer will end after Labor Day so shop now by following the link below. Delicious starts with our Gluten Free bakery mixes! Get yours now in this SHIP ONLY special limited time offer here: 
BFYB Gluten Free mixes and Granola are made in our dedicated Gluten Free Peanut Free facility from NON GMO sourced ingredients and include dominant whole grains. Have other food allergies? Did you know our bakery mixes can ALL be made to avoid any of the other 7 other major food allergens? Granola does include tree nuts. Shop now and share the news with others.)
Tina, founder, owner and entrepreneur of Better For You Bakery sent me each of her new products to test out and review.  Unfortunately, I've had some technical issues in the past few weeks with my laptop and then my cell phone (on which I had many of the photos for this blog post) completely died and I had to send it in to get a replacement phone - after first being instructed to do a full factory reset to make sure it really was a faulty phone.  Due to the factory reset, I lost all of the pictures that I hadn't already sent to my laptop.  UGH!  Frustration!  And, yes, it was the phone that was faulty.  So, this blog post is long overdue.   

A couple of weeks ago, my mom and I had a baking day.  Basically, it was a cookie day!  I used BFYB Sugar Cookie mix (and Tina provided me with the recipe for her amazing frosting, which I will share here).  Tina had also provided me with her recipe for a Pecan Coffee Cake, but I haven't had time to make that, yet.  When I do, I will share it (and her recipe) here on the blog.
Better For You Bakery Sugar Cookie Mix

Anyone who has enjoyed BFYB's decorated sugar cookies either directly from the bakery or through Gud n Free restaurant is going to love this mix!  The cookies were so easy to make and they are just as flaky and delicious as if Tina had baked them herself.  I shared with both my mom and husband as well as the ladies I work with, none of whom have to be gluten free.  They were all amazed by the taste and texture and I had several surprised comments of, "These are gluten free?!"  and "Does everything gluten free taste this good?"  The answer to that last question, unfortunately, is no.  These mixes are truly an exception.  Between the reasonable price of the cookie mix and the added ingredients, these are so worth it!  I bought two more packages of this mix from Gud n Free in the last couple of weeks so that I can make more soon!!!

I didn't have any cookie cutters, so I simply used a canning
ring as my cookie cutter

These were medium sized diameter, but I made them a bit thicker than the instructions on the package
I thought I was completely prepared ingredient-wise, but I was missing one thing - food coloring for the frosting.  So, my cookies may not have turned out very pretty, but boy did they taste great - and they didn't last long!!

Of all of the new products out now from BFYB the one I am the most excited about is the new All Purpose GF Flour Blend!  Used cup for cup in substitution for regular flour, there are so many possibilities for this product.  Tina shared with me her recipe for Pecan Coffee Cake, which I haven't had a chance to make, yet, but when I do, I will share it on here.  I promise!  What I chose to make was plain and simple chocolate chip cookies, a staple of pretty much every American childhood.  I used the Nestle Tollhouse Cookie recipe from the Nestle website, though I made it with the BFYB gluten free AP Flour blend and I chose to use organic coconut sugar in place of refined white sugar.  The coconut sugar gave the cookies a bit darker color and a slightly different taste than what I think of with chocolate chip cookies, but it was really tasty and the texture was perfect!

Since Mom was helping me bake, I thought it only fair to invite her to stay for supper.  Of course, I used the new pizza crust mix from BFYB.  Unfortunately, I don't have any of the before/after baking pictures of the pizza crust without toppings because they were among the pictures that I lost with the reset of my phone.  Very disappointing.  But the pizza was not!  I'm sure, like me, you've searched high and low for a gluten free pizza crust that doesn't taste like cardboard.  Not an easy task.  Look no further than the pizza crust mix from Better For You Bakery.  This is much the same mix as the French Bread mix, however the pizza crust mix contains the seasoning as well.  I got one large round pizza pan crust out of the mix plus enough for a smaller pizza crust out of one mix.  I like my pizza crust a bit thicker.  The taste and texture of this pizza crust was so savory and amazing!  My mouth is watering for it now just thinking about it!
I made this pizza for 3 very different people with 3 very different likes, so it was topped in thirds.
Good to the last crumb!
 The last of the new products is the Nut Blend Granola.  I haven't used it to make anything yet, though I do plan to make some apple crisp using it in the topping - again, recipe will appear on the blog when I do make the apple crisp.  This tasty treat goes well with so many things.  Currently I've been using it to mix in with my Greek yogurt for a hearty and delightful snack at work.  YUM!
This nut blend gluten free granola has so much flavor and crispy almonds, walnuts & pecans, along with sunflower kernels.

Now, as I promised, Better For You Bakery's sugar cookie frosting recipe (this is for the full batch as Tina makes it for her customer orders.  You can either adjust the recipe in half or use what you need and freeze the rest for later use.


1 bag of powder sugar (2lb)
2 sticks unsalted butter (softened)
1 cup shortening (Tina's suggestion - Holsum brand, though Crisco works fine). 
1 tbsp of vanilla extract
2-4 tbsp of water this is depending on how thick or thin you need frosting. 

Cream softened butter with shortening on medium speed.  Add half the powder sugar then start on low then medium to mix in then add other half bag and vanilla and 2 tbsp water mix on low then when it's mixed in turn on high and mix for about 5 minutes add the extra water in this case you'll need it.  **Helpful Hints: The two biggest mistakes people make with frosting is not creaming shortening and butter till creamy and not mixing powder sugar long enough till it's fluffy frosting and if you don't it will be gritty.  Also lots of people use cheap and salted butter but good butter and no salt makes better frosting.**  You shouldn't need more water for cookies, however, you may need more for cake frosting if you are spreading it.  If you want chocolate frosting you add 1/4 cup cocoa and another tbsp or so water.  Mocha is tsp espresso plus cocoa.  

If you are looking for high quality, great tasting gluten free mixes, check out Better For You Bakery's website for more information on all of her products and recipes that you can use these mixes for at home.  

Until next time - have a safe Labor Day!
Siouxland Celiac πŸ’š

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Healthy Choices ~ Healthy Girl

My husband and I have been making some changes recently.  We both want to lose weight and get healthier, so we're watching what we eat and our portions.  However, it goes much deeper than that for me.  After my Celiac diagnosis 3 1/2 years ago, not really understanding what it truly means to eat gluten free, like anyone else newly diagnosed, I went crazy buying up a lot of processed (usually overly processed) gluten free food products from the Health Market at my local grocery store.  Now, just because a food product says "Gluten Free" doesn't mean it is healthy or good for you.  Many times, it can be just as bad, if not worse just because of the extra ingredients (refined sugars, sodium, etc) included to make up for the lack of gluten.  For lunches for much too long now, I've depended on many frozen, prepared, processed meals.  I've been afraid to venture out on my own and fell into a comfort zone sort of pattern where I was trying to replace the treats I can no longer eat with high calorie, high carb, high sugar content foods that contain a lot of preservatives, as well.  This is not to say that all products in your health market are bad for you.  I say this to remind you - read the labels - on EVERYTHING!  There are many products out there that use healthy, quality ingredients.  Two of my favorites that I use frequently are mixes from Better For You Bakery, which use whole, gluten free grains and ancient grains where possible, with minimal processing, cutting out unhealthy white starches, and Gnarly Pepper mixes that, used with plain, low fat or non fat Greek yogurt, are healthier options to sour cream dips and mayonnaise.  There are others out there, as well.  You just have to look for them.

Healthy workday snacking

I decided a few weeks ago that I need to find out what other foods I may have issues with, as this is a common problem with Celiacs.  Many Celiacs also have issues with dairy, soy and other foods.  A woman who's blog I follow, Cupcakes and Yoga Pants, has been doing the AIP or Autoimmune Protocol Diet (for more information about AIP click here) to learn what other foods she has issues with.  Following her journey got me thinking about my health and what other issues I may have.  While I haven't done the AIP diet, as of 10 days ago I cut out processed foods and am now eating clean, which is naturally gluten free foods, organic and local whenever possible.  

Fresh produce and locally raised pork shoulder roast from the Sioux City Farmer's Market

Added bonus of clean eating - weight loss!  Other than the effects of detox, mainly in the form of terribly painful muscle spasms in my right arm (which, thankfully, have mostly subsided now), I've been feeling more energetic with no more bloating.  I've increased my water intake and decreased my serving size.  I'm sleeping better at night and am more alert and focused during the day.  I'm making healthier choices, buying most of my groceries each week at the Sioux City Farmer's Market, eating naturally gluten free instead of processed gluten free.  In the past 10 days since making these changes, I've gone from the heaviest weight in my life of 185 pounds to 179.2 - in just 10 days!  That may not seem like much to some of you, but this is HUGE to me!!!  I was always told by doctors that I'd have a hard time losing weight due to having hypothyroidism.  With my Celiac and having a hard time absorbing the vitamins and nutrients my body needs, I figured that wouldn't help in the weight loss arena, either.  Ha!  Just by making these simple changes - and limiting my eating out to Gud n Free, since it is not only 100% gluten free, but they use  better ingredients, too.  Don't get me wrong, it is still restaurant food, but I keep track of every bite I eat and count the calories as best as I can and work the rest of my meals around it when I eat there.  I am NOT giving up my Gud n Free :-)  But that is an awesome thing - if you are tracking what you are eating and are aware of every bite you take, you can make adjustments and still enjoy foods you love or a bite out every now and then.  Of course, with Celiac Disease, eating out is it's own challenge unless you have a 100% dedicated restaurant like Gud n Free where you can dine.

Sioux City Farmer's Market

As you can see, I still enjoy an iced coffee from my favorite coffee place, Heartland Coffee & Nosh now and then!

I'm also excited about a new free cell phone app I downloaded this week called, Lifesum, which is helping me keep on course by tracking my meals, water intake, my weight and activity.  By using this app, I am staying focused and taking it one day, one meal at a time.  And I'm feeling satisfied after each meal!  I had learned how much tracking your food and fluid intake works many years ago when I was a member of Weight Watchers.  I lost 53 pounds by following their Points program and learned so much from my time with Weight Watchers about making healthier choices!!  When my health took a nosedive 3 years before my Celiac diagnosis, I ended up gaining all of the weight back, though I hadn't changed my eating habits.  Unbeknownst to me at the time, that was another sign of Celiac Disease.  For more information on the over 300 signs and symptoms of Celiac Disease click here.  Since I'm now 3 1/2 years into living gluten free, though I'm sure my gut is still in the healing process, I feel like I'm far enough along to work on the weight loss, too.  Doing it this way is a good way to continue healing the damaged villi in my intestines, as well.  (for more information on just what exactly Celiac Disease is, click here)

There are many popular diets out there that make it seem like counting points or calories is unnecessary effort in the weight loss journey.  I disagree.  By tracking your food and fluid intake, you become more aware of absolutely everything that you put into your mouth, which leads to making healthier choices.  When you track your activity, you become more intentional about making that extra effort because you are seeing results.  

Along with eating clean, I've added Kura Protein Powder smoothies and probiotics, as well as other vitamin supplements that my body has difficulty absorbing to my daily routine.  The smoothie powder mix I shake together with one cup of unsweetened cashiew milk and then put in my Magic Bullet mixer (BEST. INVENTION. EVER.) along with whatever fresh, raw fruit I have on hand.  My favorite combo is the berry flavor protein powder along with a small to medium banana, fresh raspberries and fresh strawberries.  YUM!

Kura Berry flavor Protein Powder smootie with crushed ice, blueberries and raspberries.

Whatever your journey, Dear Reader, stick with it!  See it through no matter the work or the cost.  You'll be so glad you did!  Here's to a healthier me and a healthier you!!