Tuesday, May 29, 2012

WANTED: Best GF/CF Pancake Mix! Contest

We are trying to find the best gluten free/dairy free pancake mix out there as part of our "Project Pack Up for Camp!" Our "pack up" is a group effort by the camp and all the gluten free parents. Anyway, I thought I would try to do some online research and get suggestions from readers on their favorite brands of pancake mix. Companies can also send me a box of pancake mix to review. All pancake mixes sent will be part of the review and have a write up and they will be ranked!

I usually make a homemade Easy Pancake Mix which makes six small pancakes--but I am looking forward to finding a store bought mix!

To enter a brand of pancake mix, leave a comment on your favorite brand! Or if you are a manufacturer you click the email to the right and contact me about sending a box of your pancake mix to be reviewed.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Summer Asian Salad with Sesame Dressing

This crunchy Asian salad, made by my friend Cindi, is a gluten free adaptation of an Asian noodle salad she has been making for years. The original recipe (from an Australian noodle package) contains a bunch of ingredients that are not gluten free. We were at my friend Jennifer's beach house, which is well stocked with gluten free ingredients, so Cindi omitted the obviously gluten free ingredients (like the crispy noodles) and swapped out a few ingredients which contain gluten (soy sauce and white vinegar*) for gluten free equivalents (San-J tamari gluten free soy sauce and rice vinegar.)

Every summer I have a signature recipe that reminds me of the summer. Years ago, when I was in college, while everyone lounged by the pool, I made tarts. A few summers ago from Memorial Day to Labor Day, it was kale. Another year, I made glazed baby back ribs. And last year, June, July and August it was granola. A strange, very unseasonal choice for summer but I was a guest and everyone wanted gluten free granola for breakfast.

Well, I have had this Asian salad three times already--and summer has just started--so this might be this year's favorite summer recipe. The simplicity is part of it's appeal. Plus, it's versatile--you can use whatever greens you have on hand or throw in red peppers or sugar snap peas. The cabbage is delicious but I also like it with romaine as raw cabbage can lower thyroid function.

Happy summer!

Summer Asian Salad Recipe
Serves 4-6

1/2-1 cabbage or romaine, shredded finely
6 green onions
1/2 cup slivered almonds
1 cup chopped or shredded chicken (optional)

1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1/3 cup olive oil or oil of choice

Combine all dressing ingredients in a saucepan. Stir well over low heat until sugar is dissolved. Cool. Toss the cabbage, chopped green onions, almonds and chicken in a salad bowl. Add dressing and mix well.

***While Heinz white vinegar is technically gluten free because it is distilled from corn this white vinegar the 50% grain vinegar (which refers to the acetic content of the vinegar) ingredient list was confusing, so I would prefer to use a different vinegar. White vinegar can be made with any grain so check with the manufacturer.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Dinner #10: GF Chinese Food in NYC

It was my six year old's idea to order General T'sos Chicken from Lilli and Loo's gluten free menu. I agreed mostly because everyone agreed to eat chicken and broccoli. I love that Lilli and Loos labels all gluten free items with GF stickers.

Of course, I always serve extra veggies--cucumbers, carrots and jicama with olives and hummus. Even if no one touches them, veggies make a great centerpiece and they are more likely to eat extra vegetables if they are in the middle of the table instead of buried in the vegetable drawer hidden under lettuce.

For dessert, I made mini chocolate cream pies with Glow Double Chocolate Chip Cookies, vegan chocolate pudding and rice whip topping. All you do is spread some of your favorite pudding on a cookie and top with whipped cream and chocolate shavings. Super easy and pretty impressive. Took all of a minute to assemble.

Dinner. Done. Yum.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Pips Place: The Gluten Free Cakery on the Upper East Side in NYC

WE HAVE A NEW GLUTEN FREE BAKERY ON THE UPPER EAST SIDE called Pip's Place: opening TOMORROW May 17th at am. I am so excited to FINALLY have a gluten free place to hang out with my amazing gluten free friends. The bakery is named after the owner's daughter, Olivia, who is nick-named Pippi. Olivia said, when leaving for college: "with everything you baked for me, I have never felt deprived." Now, with the opening of Pip's Place we can ALL be a little less deprived.

I can't wait.

Celiac Chicks broke the news and according to her post New UES Gluten Free Bakery, there are going to be two kinds of dairy free muffins available.

Pip’s Place The Gluten Free Cakery
1729-31 1st Ave.
(Btwn 89th and 90th)
New York, NY 10128
Phone: 212-360-6400

Grand Opening
Thursday, May 17th, 2012
7:00 AM - 8:00PM

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

What I Cooked Today

In the whirlwind of cooking I didn't have time to get my camera out. Luckily my good friend Amie Valpone, from Healthy Apple took some pictures. Belinda Johnson, another new friend who is working on an amazing gluten free project also joined us and helped with the lemon squares and pop tarts. I can't believe all the interesting, exciting, beautiful friends I have made in the last few years going gluten free. And now WE HAVE A NEW BAKERY called Pip's Place: The Gluten Free Cakery opening TOMORROW May 17th at am. It is very exciting to have a new gluten free bakery on the Upper East Side to go to with my amazing gluten free friends.

Gluten Free Almond Crackers (Matzah)

Lemon Squares
Raspberry Pop Tarts
Homemade Chicken Stock
Avocado Chocolate Pudding
Asian Meatballs
Pomegranate Lime Popsicles

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Izzi B's Allergen Free Cupcakes

We were totally celebrating that we could have the gluten free allergen-free treats by Izzi B's at the Celiac Disease Center Spring Party. We LOVED trying their fresh baked which are even better than the frozen. Really, you can't believe how good the fresh baked are. But, I definitely have my favorites--the cinnamon toast crunch and raspberry with golden yellow cake and chocolate with chocolate ganache. I think Izzi B's should go all fresh baked and I am so happy I got to sample them fresh at this event because I NEVER would have known how good they were. The mini cakes are even better than the cupcakes. And everyone liked the sugar cookies. I like them better than Babycakes and they are moister than Tulu's. But you need to take care to choose the right flavor as some are definitely tastier than others. Hopefully G-Free NYC or Food Liberation will carry them fresh baked soon!

Here are the pros and cons of Izzi B's
PROS: Allergy friendly! We love that we could eat all the flavors and they take such care to make them healthy by not using food dye, preservatives and additives. Frostings are delicious and creamy and flavorful. They don't have the glue texture of most vegan baked goods. Seasonal ones are my FAVORITE in fact I think they should reevaluate and swap seasonals (cinnamon French toast with maple frosting) in their four pack--with chocolate and raspberry.

CONS: Cupcakes are a little dry. I have to say I think they are over baked. I would LOVE to try them baked 1-2 minutes less. I did not find this with the mini cakes so I think they could just try cooking a few minutes less. Because they are sold frozen and are prepared without additives/preservatives there should be more instruction about how to serve/store. This info should be on package and given to vendors to give to customers.

 (I have a new policy of including pros and cons of products. In the past, and certainly in the case of Izzi B's I am SOOOO happy they are making such an allergy friendly product wouldn't want to say anything not nice but by request of readers I am now including pros and cons of products.)

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Cooking with Zee Bee: How to Make Sushi at Home

This video of how to make sushi at home is the first installment of cooking with Zee Bee--my super kid chef. Even if your kids don't eat sushi they might enjoy learning to make it as it is super fun to squish the rice and roll it up. It is definitely a great activity for tweens and teens who are too old for playdough.

Making sushi at home is actually quite simple when you have an inexpensive bamboo mat and some sticky rice. My ten year old has exactly one month of cooking experience--so it is definitely do able for kids and adults. My daughter has watched them make sushi for years so she definitely knows more about it than the most but in a few weeks she has become proficient enough to teach. You can by the sushi mat on amazon or in NYC at Katagiri, a Japanese grocery store. We also purchased Kokuho sushi rice at Whole Foods. We tested the Kokuho sushi rice with an EZ Gluten Test kit and the results showed that this sushi rice is less than 5 ppm gluten.

Mother's Day Gifts 2012

Okay, I am officially a better virtual giver than actual giver! Or maybe, I am just a busy mom who needs Mother's Day!Here are some ideas for Mother's Day.

A Coupon for a Day Off. The best gift for any busy mom is, without a doubt, some time off. I love to cook but it is a HUGE treat to get a day off! It doesn't come very often but breakfast in bed and a day without dishes is definitely what I want this Mother's Day. Make your own or print out and decorate Martha Stewart's Mother's Day Coupon Book.

Old Stone Oven Pizza Stone. This is recommended by Silvana Nardone in her book which has a wonderful recipe for pizza. Ritual is so important in our lives. It is hard when you can't go out for pizza but if you can make your own super fun ritual of "pizza night" it makes it okay.

Cooking for Isaiah. Well, if you are buying the pizza stone you must also include this wonderful cookbook by Silvana Nardone which has the best gluten free pizza crust recipe.

Bamboo Sushi Mat with Paddle. You can put together a little gluten free sushi kit for Mom--or even make sushi for her! The bamboo sushi mats are so simple and elegant. I love that they are so simple, compact and inexpensive yet they allow you to make something that is considered such a luxury. I bought our sushi mat ($2.50) and Kokuho Sushi Rice at Katagiri in Manhattan. I tested this Kokuho Sushi Rice to be gluten free using an EZ Gluten Test to be under 5 ppm of gluten. You can add a bottle of gluten free tamari and maybe a cookbook. But the rice and sushi mat are really the main things you need to start making sushi.

Williams-Sonoma Striped Towels. Set of 4. Nothing says "Mother's Day" like some brand new striped towels. Seriously, this particular item is not a recommendation of "what to get your mother"--it is actually what I NEED for Mother's Day. I have had these towels for over 10 years! They are now filled with holes and I need some replacement towels. And if you want something that will last for years to come might be the perfect gift for the mom who is constantly drying dishes.

Single Chain Necklace from Wonder. C Wonder is my FAVORITE new store. And this is my favorite new necklace. It is simple and makes a statement without being too heavy.

Sunburst Bracelet. It is actually easier to buy a bracelet than a necklace for someone else. A bracelet is less of a commitment but still shiny, new and fun. This one sparkles and has Mother's Day written all over it.

Triple Drop Stone Linear Earrings. These are super fun for the mom who is fun and creative.

Ikat Cloth Napkins. Nothing is prettier than a perfectly set table waiting for the family. Buy two sets so you have enough for guests.

Hotel Dinner Napkins. Set of 12. White hotel napkins are a wonderful way to make any table special.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Asparagus Soup

This creamy asparagus soup is amazingly simple. Well, you need a Vitamix--so it's not that simple. But, if you have a Vitamix it is super easy. With four ingredients (asparagus, cashews, avocado and garlic) and seasonings you can have a creamy asparagus soup in less than 15 minutes. If you have a regular blender or a cuisinart, skip the cashews and it will still be creamy and delicious.

Asparagus Soup Recipe

1 bunch asparagus
1 clove of garlic
4 cups water
2 handfuls of cashews (about 1/2 cup)
1/2 avocado
1 teaspoon garlic salt
1 teaspoon onion salt
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Cut asparagus into 3 inch pieces by cutting the whole bunch of asparagus twice.
Put in pot with four cups of water. Add a clove of garlic (either chop or use a garlic press.)
Bring water to a boil and simmer for 10-15 minutes until asparagus is still green but well cooked.
But asparagus into high speed blender or vitamix and process until smooth.
Add seasonings and process until creamy.

Serve with chives and a drizzle of olive oil.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Q & A on Testing for Celiac and Gluten Intolerance

Q: I would like to have my child tested for gluten sensitivities. What test do you recommend and where can she get it?

A: If you are doing testing with your pediatrician below are the tests for celiac/gluten intolerance that are most important to run. Of course discuss this with them and try to get their opinion.

1) TTG (Tissue Transglutaminase) this is the most accurate test for celiac disease. The Celiac Disease Center of Columbia runs a panel of several tests to determine whether a person has celiac. They report that this is the most accurate of the antibody tests.
2) Gliadin Antibody (IGG) this tells about celiac but also suggests gluten intolerance. Basically if you have high levels of these you may or may not have celiac but people with high levels get better from gluten free diet according to a gastrointestinal doctor I spoke with.

Running and reading the tests is complicated. To read more about this issue, read the New York Times Article Confirming a Diagnosis of Celiac Disease.

I would STRONGLY recommend going to a GI doctor or the Celiac Disease Center and finding out if your child has the genes for celiac as antibody testing is often negative in children as it takes years to develop these antibodies. At a parent get together, one parent of a young child with celiac told of their frustration of accurate testing. Their daughter tested negative for celiac three times. The fourth time, in the ICU she tested positive for celiac. They were so disappointed at how sick she had to get before a diagnosis was made.

Running the genetics can not diagnose celiac, but it can indicate whether celiac is a possibility. In our case, all antibody testing was negative but we were positive for the genes. If our GI doctor hadn't done the genetics for celiac we never would have figured out that celiac was a factor in so many of our families chronic health issues.

If the doctor is doing blood work it is a good idea to do some nutritional levels to determine if absorption of nutrients is a factor. Here are basic tests that were run for my children by Dr. Fred Pesctore, who does very thorough nutritional testing for children and adults...

3) vitamin d
4) b12 panel
5) zinc
6) copper

Many mainstream doctors work in a "death and disease" model so their knowledge of vitamins and food intolerances is limited . But if doctors are running bloodwork anyway it is nice if they do these tests at the same time to get the most comprehensive picture to see if absorption is an issue. But, if your doctor cannot run the vitamin tests JUST HAVE THEM RUN CELIAC TESTS and vitamin D!

THE BEST TEST IS A TRIAL OF A GLUTEN FREE DIET FOR A PERIOD OF TIME AFTER ALL BLOODWORK HAS BEEN COMPLETED. But, you really need the official testing and results to be completed to do this kind of trial.

Here is a link to all the tests our alternative doctor ran--but a lot of these can be done by quest and your pediatrician...
Mainstream and Alternative Testing

Here are links to the doctors that can do these tests:

Celiac Disease Center at Columbia University
Harkness Pavilion
180 Fort Washington Avenue
Suite 934
New York, NY 10032
Tel (212) 342-4529
Fax (212) 342-0447
Email: celiac@columbia.edu

The Celiac Disease Center can do full celiac panel including genetics. They are very good at diagnosing celiac disease. Although they are starting to accept and do research on gluten intolerance, their tests are more geared toward celiac disease so they can sometimes miss gluten intolerance but they are amazing at doing the comprehensive panel for celiac disease that includes genetics. Different doctors at the Celiac Disease Center take different insurance so you can tell them your insurance company and they can recommend the doctor who will accept your insurance.

Dr. Fred Pescatore
369 Lexington Ave
New York, NY 10017
(212) 779-2944

Dr. Fred Pescatore is a doctor who practices nutritional medicine. He does both mainstream and alternative tests for food allergies, celiac and gluten intolerance. Dr. Pescatore's food allergy testing REALLY helped us figure out food sensitivities. He does not take insurance but you can submit bills to your insurance. Some testing is covered through insurance but the ALCAT test is not covered by insurance.

More info...

Below is a link to an article in the Official Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics called Range of Neurologic Disorders in Patients with Celiac Disease about the connection between neurological issues (hypotonia, ADHD, learning disorders and headaches) and celiac. What is important is figure 2 which shows how much more these neurological issues are present in patients with celiac disease. Not everyone with these issues has celiac but for sure there is a connection between nutrient malabsorption and these conditions. If you are going to your GP to request testing for celiac disease, I would recommend bringing them this article to review and discussing the symptoms you have. Also, even though celiac is a GI disease often it is "silent" and there are no obvious gastrointestinal symptoms. Instead the symptoms are from low nutrients--which is why children with developmental issues like hypotonia and ADHD need to be tested.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Glittery Cake Pops

To make these glittery cake pops, we used a Cake Pop Baking Pan from Nordic Ware and a small package of Pamela's Chocolate Brownie Mix. The 100 gram wheat-free, gluten-free, non dairy chocolate brownie mix from Pamela's made about 10 cake pops--which was the perfect amount. I used to think cake pops were an annoying and over the top fad but actually, after making some, I now realize they are the perfect portion of cake and fun.

To make the cake pops you need a mold, like the Nordic Ware Cake Pop Baking Pan. We sprayed the pan with spectrum coconut oil and dusted them with cocoa powder to keep them from sticking. We also added an extra egg to the brownie recipe. Spoon batter into bottom half of pan so it slightly overfills the top of the pan. Then place the top half of the pan and secure with keys to look the pan together. We baked our cake pops for 15 minutes and they were perfect. There is a small hole in the top of the cake pop pan that you can stick a toothpick in to see if your cake pops are ready.

Next we glazed the cake pops with a donut glaze and then rolled them in colored sugar from India Tree. India Tree uses natural color from plants to make some of their colored sugar. We had green and yellow natural dyes and then the regular India Tree colored sugar. I was thrilled to find the natural colored sugar at Whole Foods but I was disappointed to find that the green tasted like spinach and the yellow had a pronounced Tumeric flavor. The artifical colors turned out to taste more like sugar. Below is the donut glaze recipe.

After making the sugared cake pops I realized you don't need that much sugar on the cake pops or they are way too sugary. Another, easier option that I would try next time is just melted chocolate and sprinkles. Covered in sugar, the cake pops feel like donut holes--which is a great gluten free substitute for donuts.

Donut Glaze Recipe:
  • 3 cups Powdered Sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon Salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon Vanilla
  • 1/2 cup Cold Water Or Milk
Mix all ingredients in a bowl and submerge cake pops in glaze. While glaze is still wet, sprinkle with colored sugar.