Thursday, November 27, 2014

Heavenly Hard Sauce Dessert Topping Recipe (regular and dairy-free!)

Hard sauce is a Thanksgiving tradition passed down from my grandmother, Mildred Royle. If you have never tried this heavenly melt in your mouth dessert topping, you will be amazed at how hard sauce transforms a simple pie into an amazing dessert. We absolutely love hard sauce with chocolate pecan pie or pumpkin pie but it can also turn a simple frozen Katz’s apple or cherry into an extraordinary event.

This year we had an early traditional Thanksgiving dinner on Tuesday  before we left for vacation. Before dessert was served, my daughter asked “Did you make hard sauce?” I actually hadn’t even considered making hard sauce because I had pared down the menu since there were only three of us eating our early Thanksgiving dinner. But it was 6 o’clock and I wasn’t entertaining a house full of dinner guests so, of course, I began to to make my grandmother’s hard sauce which began with getting out a calendar cookbook that my uncle Kent had made to pass down her favorite recipes.

A photo of my grandmother at our family cabin in Echo Lake on the cover of the calendar reminded me how recipes like this hard sauce connect us to our family members who have passed away and create special family traditions that can be passed down for generations. I made two batches of hard sauce—one was the original recipe with butter and a second recipe that was dairy free but equally tasty.


1/4 pound butter (1 stick or 1/2 cup)*
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup boiling water
  • Cream butter and sugar together in a mixer  until light and fluffy. 
  • Add vanilla extract and continue to mix until well incorporated. 
  • Add boiling water very slowly by pouring a small stream of boiling water on the side of the bowl while the mixer is on medium. The boiling water, added slowly, will melt the sugar but slowly added it should not melt the butter. 
  • Turn off mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl as you go. 
  • When all the boiling water has been added beat the mixture until it is light and fluffy. It should be light and creamy and look like mayo. 
  • Using a spatula, transfer the sauce into your fanciest small bowl. Refrigerate whipped topping until hardened. 
  • Serve with hot pie or your favorite Thanksgiving dessert. 
  • Enjoy!
* Butter should be a little softened but not room temperature so that it doesn’t melt when you add the boiling water. 


2 tablespoons earth balance
6 tablespoons spectrum shortening
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup boiling water
  • Cream earth balance, shortening and sugar together in a mixer  until light and fluffy. 
  • Add vanilla extract and continue to mix until well incorporated. 
  • Add boiling water very slowly by pouring a small stream of boiling water on the side of the bowl while the mixer is on medium. The boiling water, added slowly, will melt the sugar but slowly added it should not melt the butter. 
  • Turn off mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl as you go. 
  • When all the boiling water has been added beat the mixture until it is light and fluffy. It should be light and creamy and look like mayo. 
  • Using a spatula, transfer the sauce into your fanciest small bowl. Refrigerate whipped topping until hardened. 
  • Serve with hot pie or your favorite Thanksgiving dessert. 


Thanks to Mildred Royle for this recipe,Lynn, my mother, for lovingly making this recipe for me year after year at Thanksgiving and to my uncle Kent for the calendar.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Fine Mesh Tea Strainer for Spices!

Making stock in the winter is a wonderful tradition and a great way to warm up the kitchen. Fresh peppercorns and a few bay leaves are always added to stock for extra flavor--but they can be tricky to get out at the end. They do sell cotton spice bags, that allow you to easily remove inedible spices from a soup or stock--but this week I used a stainless fine mesh tea bauble for the peppercorns and bay leaf.

When the stock was finished simmering, I easily removed the tea bauble and I didn't have to deal with looking for the bay leaves or the peppercorns getting mixed in with the vegetables.

Homemade chicken stock can easily be the base of a warm winter meal!  Chicken noodle soup and chicken soup with ramen noodles are my kids favorite winter soups. Asparagus soup is my favorite.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Review: Galli Restaurant in SoHo NYC

You would never know the food is absolutely fabulous (or they had so many gluten free options) at Galli Restaurant in SoHo. The large wooden booths and low key feel of Galli make it a perfect spot for a romantic dinner, fun lunch or dinner--and the large selection of gluten free pasta, delicious salads and entrees gives you a lot to choose from on the menu.

Galli's perfectly cooked and seasoned steak was pronounced "the best steak I've ever had" by my kids--and they eat a lot of steak. The prices at Galli are also reasonable--making it a great choice for a date night or large group.

This fall I was served a steaming plate of salsiccia pasta with gluten free penne,  spicy fennel sausage, wilted spinach in a roasted tomato sauce. When I asked the waiter what made it so heavenly he said he didn't know--but they used organic San Marzano tomatoes imported from Italy. Which goes perfectly with the understated vibe at Galli--there is no mention of "organic" or "imported" on the menu--instead they describe it as a  "light marinara sauce." Well--it's the best marinara sauce I have ever tasted.

The truth is that I have hardly ventured beyond the salads, pastas and steak because they salsiccia pasta and bolognese are so tasty! But from the consistency of the food I have been served I can confidently say that all the food is exceptional at Galli restaurant--they just know how to cook and how to season food.

Galli Restaurant has two locations…

45 Mercer Street (btw Broome & Grand Streets) NY, NY 10013

Lower East Side location: 98 Rivington Street (Corner of Ludlow St.) New York, NY 10002 212-466-1888

Friday, November 14, 2014

The Autoimmune Summit: Today through Nov. 18

"There were a lot of facts and insights into why people got sick that did not make their way into the doors of medical schools."--Leo Galland on why he became a functional doctor on the Autoimmune Summit

The Autoimmune Summit is another free online conference addressing a medical topic. We have seen many of these online conferences get much needed information to different communities. It all began with Tom O'Bryan's The Gluten Summit--which changed the lives of a few people I know--who had been diagnosed with gluten intolerance but found the gluten free diet too difficult to maintain. After viewing The Gluten Summit, with the knowledge they learned,  they were able to shift to a gluten free diet.

The Autoimmune Summit is another comprehensive conference during which Dr. Amy Myers, the author of The Autoimmune Solution, interviews 38 functional medical doctors on alternative approaches to treating autoimmune diseases.

It is free to sign up HERE to listen to the events until November 18th. It takes just a minute to sign up and then you can listen to see if you are interested in the five or so lectures that are streamed each day. The Autoimmune Summit is also available after November 18th for $67.

I am not affiliate of this event--but I would like to share it with others as it is a good way to get an idea about the different approaches and to hear doctors speak about research and treatment of autoimmune disorders. Here is today's line up...

Leo Galland, MD
  • Understanding Triggers and Treatments for Inflammatory Bowel Disease
  • Why Vitamin D is essential for IBD patients
  • Role of gut flora in inflammatory conditions
  • Herbs and botanicals that help with IBD symptoms        
Frank Lipman, MD
  • Importance of Cleansing Your Body and Your Mind
  • Why is detoxing so important?
  • Gentle exercise can prevent adrenal fatigue
  • Learn why different diets work for different people
Dan Kalish, DC
  • Adrenal Fatigue and Autoimmunity
  • Learn why your adrenal glands are important for your overall health
  • Symptoms of adrenal fatigue and how to test for it
  • How food sensitivities affect your adrenal glands    
Sarah Ballantyne, PhD
  • The Problem with Grains and Legumes in Those with Autoimmunity
  • Why grains, legumes and nightshades can trigger inflammation
  • Learn which foods might be causing your symptoms
  • Nutrient-dense diet to support healing
Todd LePine, MD
  • The Road Less Traveled: A Discussion of Controversial Topics in Autoimmunity
  • Does your blood type put you at risk for autoimmune disease?
  • Learn how Vitamin D plays a role in autoimmunity, and the controversy surrounding it
  • Test and recover from heavy metal toxicity

Thursday, October 30, 2014

The Little Cakes Halloween Treats!

The Little Cakes really went all out on their cookies and cake pops for Halloween! 

I chose the Mickey Mouse Skeleton cookie and was lucky to score an eyeball cake pop/confetti flavor, pumpkin/vanilla and monster/red velvet from G-Free NYC just in time for Halloween. Not sure if they have any more cake pops available--but they definitely have cookies for sale!

My daughter immediately went to the computer to look up edible ink printers after seeing the cookies. Kopykake seems to be the best resource for printing edible images for cakes, cookies and cupcakes. 

Not that I recommend edible ink--but nice to know that the KopyKake frosting sheets are gluten free, dairy free and contain no known allergens!

Happy Halloween!

Related posts:

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

G-Free to Go: Beef Daube Provencal (DF)

I am SOOOOO excited that  this weeks "G-Free To Go" freshly made gourmet gluten free entrée is also dairy free that I feel compelled to post in advance of trying it! 

This week's G-Free To Go is Beef Daube Provencal served over noodles* priced at $12.50 per serving. 

Contact G-Free at 646.781.9770 or by Wednesday 2pm to place an order. Pickup between 5 pm and 7 pm on Thursday, October 23rd on the upper west side at: 
77A West 85th Street (between Columbus & CPW)
New York, NY 10024


Dairy free
Contains wine

P.S. Photos of Beef Daube Provencal to be posted on instagram @ourGFfamily on Thursday night!

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Zinc Deficiency and Low Growth Hormone

For children who have low growth hormone, it's a good idea to check zinc levels to see if nutrient absorption is a factor. 

Just because you are gluten free doesn't mean you are absorbing nutrients. Many doctors miss this part of the equation. 

"Just go gluten free" is the prescription for celiac disease and gluten intolerance--often without much assessment of absorption of nutrients and gut function.

 A child with celiac or gluten intolerance who is not a great eater might easily be deficient in nutrients important for growth. My kids were both low in growth hormone and had growth issues, until we discovered that they were both low in zinc and we began supplementation which resulted in increased growth rates (and increased appetite--as low zinc can also contribute to picky eating.) 

In my experience, mainstream doctors and even our  endocrinologist, who I think is amazing, never checked zinc levels until I requested them to check the levels. According to an article in The Journal of Pediatrics "Mild to moderate zinc deficiency in short children" reports that "zinc supplementation is effective for inducing growth in short children with zinc deficiency." (1) Because low zinc levels can contribute to low growth rates,  checking the zinc level should be done as a first priority whenever growth in a child is a concern.

Checking nutrient levels is also beneficial because other systems like the reproductive system can also be affected by low nutrient absorption. If zinc deficiency or nutrient absorption is an issue, a  good nutritionist or alternative doctor can help put growth on the right track.

After zinc levels have been assessed, then supplementation might be necessary to improve zinc levels and see if growth picks up. My son takes this  Kirkman zinc product that is hypoallergenic and contains 15 mg zinc. This Klaire Labs multimineral product which contains 20 mg. of zinc was recommended for my daughter by our nutritionist.

I always recommend finding a good nutritionist/alternative doctor who will recommend and interpret blood work and oversee supplementation when necessary.  An alternative doctor or good nutritionist is usually trained to look at and assess nutrient absorption and recommend dietary intervention and supplements --but parents can also inform themselves and ask for basic nutrient testing from mainstream doctors  if they don't have access to an alternative doctor. Then, depending on results, they can decide whether nutrient absorption is a factor and find a nutritionist to help after testing has been done.


I asked Geri Brewster, a registered dietician and experienced nutritionist, about the relationship between zinc, nutrient deficiencies and growth and she added...

"Celiac and gluten sensitivity can lead to malabsorption of a number of nutrients but minerals, which tend to compete for absorption, are particularly vulnerable. While correcting for celiac or gluten sensitivity by eliminating gluten, that alone does not correct for nutrient deficiencies or insufficiencies as gut healing is a slow process and in a growing child demand for nutrients remains great. Thus, zinc deficiency can occur and it is associated with short stature, among other negative effects."

"However, a growth hormone deficiency can still be occurring as a second issue and may need to be replaced. When growth hormone replacement is called for, then the building blocks for growth need to be present. Those include enough protein, fats and adequate nutrient dense carbohydrates as well as vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients. Dietary sources of zinc include meats and shellfish as well as beans, nuts and seeds. When absorption is an issue, supplementation may be necessary while also measuring blood levels. If zinc deficiency or insufficiency is found it is probable that other nutrients may be low as well and working toward dietary and supplemental support to optimize growth is essential, even in the presence of growth hormone therapy."

Geri Brewster has an office in Mount Kisco and is also in NYC weekly or she can work by phone with clients to help parents figure out if nutrition is a factor in low growth hormone.

Geri Brewster, RD MPH CDN
491 Lexington Ave, Mt Kisco, NY 10549
(914) 864-1976


These are the blood tests that our alternative doctor has done with my kids to check absorption levels. By checking these basic levels before going gluten free and yearly (or when blood work is being done), you can get an indication of whether nutrient absoption is an issue.

1) B12 panel
2) vitamin D
3) vitamin A
4) zinc
5) copper

Zinc is Important for Growth


Tuesday, September 23, 2014

The Skinny on the Skinny: Book Review

The Skinny, written by Dr. Aronne, a weight loss doctor in NYC,  is a diet book recommended to me  by my neighbor. The book includes a long scientific explanation of why certain people have increased appetites and super complicated hormone responses to food.

A lot of the book is typical of most diet books--suggestions to eat a whey or soy protein shake (which seems kind of old school and not at all cutting edge to me.)

The most interesting part of The Skinny was the recommendation for eating food in a specific order to increase satiety! If you are trying to lose weight or curb hunger hormones always eat lunch and dinner in the following order:

1) salad
2) vegetable
3) protein
4) starch/carbs

I have noticed that eating my meals in this order--and never skipping the salad and vegetable portion at lunch and dinner--does make me feel more satiated. Now when I go out I always make sure to order a salad to start and a side of vegetables and I always eat these items first. I notice that by the time I get to my sweet potato fries/rice/pasta finale I am surprisingly full. (I do make myself eat a small portion of healthy carbs because I don't do well on a low carb diet!)

Weight loss is not something I recommend focusing on too much because it is so hard to achieve meaningful weight loss and studies tend to report people gain weight after losing weight--but the health benefits of eating more vegetables and not craving sugar/carbs/desssert is certainly undeniable--and I have actually shifted my weight five pounds toward my lower set point weight very effortlessly by making a point of eating food in this order.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Sunwarrior Cinnamon Protein Shake Recipe (sugar-free/GF/Dairy Free/Vegan!)

This cinnamon Sunwarrior protein shake recipe is gluten free, dairy free, raw, vegan and free of refined sugar! I was introduced to Sunwarrior natural protein powder when I was visiting a good friend who is vegan in Los Angeles this summer. Most protein powders I have seen  have too many ingredients and seem too processed to be part of a healthy diet. 

Sunwarrior natural protein powder is a cut above the other protein powders. It is vegan, raw and has  only four FOUR ingredients (a proprietary protein blend from Raw Organic Pea ProteinRaw Cranberry ProteinRaw Organic Hemp Seed Protein and Medium Chain Triglycerides from Coconut.) Sunwarrior natural protein powder is non-GMO and although it is not labelled organic, the website says it is 98% organic. 

Mostly, I fell in love with how I feel after I tried it! I have a scoop of sun warrior protein powder as part of my breakfast routine, it keeps me going until 1 pm  in the afternoon. This sugar-free, vegan shake recipe is sweetened with bananas and cinnamon instead of sugar. I am not usually a calorie counter but this shake only has 237 calories and really keeps you going for hours because of the protein blend which contains all essential amino acids in a complete, balanced profile.

  • 1 scoop Sunwarrior natural protein powder
  • 1 cup silk almond milk (Silk 30 calorie vanilla)
  • 1 banana
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 1.5 cups ice 
Blend all ingredients except the ice in a Vitamix or blender  for 1-2 minutes gradually increasing the speed. When completely blended add the ice. Enjoy with a sprinkle of cinnamon or nutmeg.

• Coffee: Add ice cubes made from coffee for a delicious coffee shake!
•“Milkshake”: Add a tablespoon of your favorite sweetener (agave or maple syrup) if you want it to be more like a milk shake! When I first started making this shake I added extra sweetener, but then I discovered I didn’t even need extra sweetener!

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Back to School Calendars!

Other than my inability to tie a tie for my son's formal uniform day--the beginning of school has gone well. (I'm knocking on wood as I write this--as I always do when I say anything positive.) I have one child in third grade at a new K-8 school and another child who just started 8th grade which upper school.

It was my daughter's idea to make a calendar on her wall with sticky tape, but after we made her a calendar I realized that I'm the one who really needed a wall calendar to keep track of everything. After looking around, I finally decided to put my wall calendar on an underutilized round wall in my kitchen that I walk by a hundred times a day  on my way to my office where my computer is.

For families who have kids with allergies being organized is super important because food is involved in so many events. A large calendar is a great way to keep track of everything. Events that need extra thought or food preparation can be starred or highlighted.

Here is a link to a calendar you can make with vinyl washi tape that is just like the one we made!

In case you need something more portable, here is a link to my favorite AT-A-GLANCE FASHION MONTHLY PLANNER which goes from July to July a second AT-A-GLANCE academic monthly planner which is a January to December Calendar.

Happy Back to school everyone! (And make sure to put apple picking on your calendar if you have apple picking in your area!)