Monday, March 29, 2010

Two more new mixes!

I am certainly not feeling deprived for sweets!  In fact, I think my body is not sure what to do with all these treats all the time.  I may have to detox later, but I must continue these experiments of gluten-free mixes for now.  This is the 5th week of my six-week experiment. What I do in the name of science! :)

Judy, my mother-in-law, got us a sampling of the King Arthur Flour mixes to try.  Over the weekend, we decided to try their brownie mix and muffin mix.  They are both very good, and come the closest to my memory of the texture of wheat. The flavors are also really good.  As those of you following this blog can already guess, I added about two tablespoons of applesauce to each mix while preparing them.

The brownies came out moist, just the right texture, and super yummy.  I thought they tasted a little cake-like, but it could also be that they just had a more "wheat-like" texture and feel.  And, I know they're good when Geoff is also eating them, rather than "saving" them for me.   Geoff helped me with test the batter too, and said it was the best batter so far.  His comment was that "King Arthur's done their homework."

I also made the muffin mix.  Wow.  Really good.  They are nice and light.  Again, the texture reminds me of my memory of wheat.  Alexander also likes them, not surprisingly.  I added chocolate chips, to  make them more dessert-like.

Judy also got us some of the King Arthur's gf flour.  I'm planning to use it in my next gf recipe experiment. Thus, over the weekend, I also did the shopping prep for the Triple Ginger Tea Loaf listed in Annalise Robert's cookbook.   After all this research, I think that I may finally be getting over my fear of "the gums" (xantham gum, guar gum, etc.).  I realized that the Co-Op has xantham gum in bulk, so I don't have to commit to buying a lot at a time.  And, the one critique I continue to have of mixes (ALL mixes) is that I can't control the sweetness.  Mixes tend to be sweeter than I like, so that may also be moving me towards flours rather than mixes.

While at the co-op, I also got some Teff (a gf Ethiopian grain) so I can try the breakfast recipe in the Whole Life cookbook.  Stay tuned!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Work Functions With Food

This continues to be an issue in most cases. The good news is that people are often now aware it is an issue. And, the consistent gold standard for good gf options seems to be meetings where food is prepared by either University Housing and Dining Services or the Cultural Meals Program. Those groups tend to ask if there are dietary restrictions and provide gf options.

Our International Programs events are also getting better. Cindy and Amelia did a tamale luncheon fundraiser for the OSU annual food drive, and the tamales were homemade, gf, and delicious. Cindy and Marion just did a Stone Soup Fundraiser (also for the food drive) where both soups were gluten free and delicious. I brought in the gf cupcakes, so there were even desserts. And, there was also recently a taco bar luncheon and a baked potato bar luncheon, which are great for gf options. I think Rachel FM, Renee and Cindy were coordinating those ones.

It was an issue on Friday when there were bag lunches with sandwiches. I can take off the bread and add my own gf bread, but I am feeling the fact that the sandwich insides were touched by wheat!

And, it will be an issue again on Monday when a "pizza party" is being provided by an outside source. Pizza parties are such a standard American way of providing food to large groups. Pizza parties are also obviously problematic for people with lactose/casein intolerance. Though it was checked, there are no gf pizza options at 11 am in Corvallis.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Good looking Cookbooks

As I eat my rice cereal for breakfast, I am reading about much more interesting meals. I tried the Bob Red Mill's Creamy Rice hot cereal, and think perhaps I'm not a creamy rice cereal kind of girl. It's not that it's bad, but rather that even with yogurt and flax seeds, it's not very interesting.

I got two recommended cookbooks from the public library this week. They are:
The Whole Life Nutrition Cookbook by Alissa Segersten and Tom Malterre (recommended by my cousin, Sarah), and
Gluten-Free Baking Classics by Annalise G. Roberts (recommended on the GF RN's blog).

They both are filled with a lot of good sounding recipes. The Whole Life Nutrition one has gluten-free, dairy-free and egg-free recipes. The Baking Classics is gluten-free but not vegan.

What is striking my fancy this morning are recipies like the Triple Ginger Tea Loaf, Lemon Poppyseed Tea Loaf, Lemon Squares, Biscotti (from the Baking Classics) and Grandma's Cinnamon Rolls (with whipped potatoes as well as rice flour! - from the Whole Life Nutrition). The Whole Life Nutrition book has a whole section on breakfast foods. In fact, one of their recipes inspired me to invent a salad smoothie this week (with lettuce, carrots, apples, a banana, and cranberry juice). It sounds a bit odd, but I wanted to use up some salad from the night before, and i was curious to see how it worked to purée lettuce. I think I need a more powerful blender to do it really well, but it was pretty good! The flavor was great even though the texture was a bit odd. They also have a recipe for teff porridge. Teff is a high-protein, high iron gf grain that Nadine recommended during her Intro to GF class, and I have been curious to see how it is

I'll have to plan ahead and try some of these things out!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Stress, staying healthy, and still eating well

It's another long, stressful week at work, and it's only Wednesday morning. Times of stress mean, of course, that I need to be more intentional about eating well and eating healthy foods, not less. But, when it's stressful, it is easy to want to focus on ease, comfort, and treats. Monday was not so healthy, so yesterday I made an effort to bring fruits and veggies for lunch and snacks. I also left to go on a walk downtown at lunchtime. And, to fill that part that wants "treats," I stopped at the gf Living Earth bakery. I have to say that it is a wonderful thing to be able to walk to a bakery where I can eat anything in the store. In addition to some treats for this week, I also got their great flax & millet bread.

The walk was great, too. It was a beautiful Spring day-sunny, crisp, and blue skys. Walks always help to clear my head and put things in perspective. My friend Chelo and I call them "thinking walks" after a Winnie the Pooh magnet we found in London. I need to remember to do this all week.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Starbucks has gotten on the gf bandwagon

I went out with my friend, Julie, to a Starbucks in Portland. Like her local Starbucks, this one had Lucy's gf cookies. The cinnamon ones were really good.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Three gf mix reviews

It was Alexander's birthday and then a St. Patrick's day event at work,so I took this opportunity to try out three different mixes that we had at home. They were the WOW Gourmet Yellow Cake Mix (as cupcakes), the Arrowhead Mills gf Vanilla Cake Mix (as a two layer round cake), and Bob's Red Mill gf Chocolate Cake Mix (as cupcakes). I wanted to see how the first two were as directed on the box. I also made the Arrowhead Mills one vegan (no dairy) and low fat (1 egg, 1 egg white) so that my dad could have it. The WOW mix was not vegan or low fat, though I did add only two eggs plus egg whites rather than 6 whole eggs. With the Bob's Red Mill one, I made it as directed, but added the secret weapon, applesauce (around 3 tablespoons).

The Results:

The Arrowhead mills one had a very nice flavor, but it did have the gritty texture that rice flour can have. I would definitely use applesauce with this one if I made it again. I may also try adding hot water (110 degrees) instead of cold, as suggested on the Bob's Red Mill mix, to see if that helps reduce grittiness.

The WOW mix was preferred by those who had it at the birthday. The cupcakes were spongy and with a nice flavor. And, I'm sure the cream cheese frosting helped, too. They were a little heavy, however, so I would try applesauce with them, too.

The Bob's Red Mill ones were the biggest hit. The were light, flavorful, not gritty. And, since I did use applesauce with them, they weren't completely as directed, but did confirm the benefits of applesauce. :)

Saturday, March 13, 2010

That was great pizza!

Geoff and I tried Papa's gf pizza last night to celebrate Alexander's 1 year birthday. That was very good pizza! Geoff, who does gluten, thought so, too. I got the one called Mt. Bachelor. It was definitely on the expensive side, but it is nice that the gf and "regular" pizzas cost the same amount there.

And, they deliver, so I got to feel like a "normal" person who can get pizza in a cardboard box from a delivery person. :)

Friday, March 12, 2010

Gluten Free Pizza in Corvallis!

I just heard from Verona that Papa's Pizza in south town Corvallis has gluten free pizza. It's on their website, too! That certainly sounds like it's worth checking out. Pizza is one of those hard things to not have since so many people in the U.S. think of having pizza parties as a way to celebrate.

For pizza at home, I like Amy's rice crust pizza, especially if you add on toppings. :)

Blog comments

So, I just realized that a few of you have been leaving comments! Thanks so much! I didn't realize that they were there till now, and I've now set it up so that I should get notified when someone leaves one. Chalk it up to being new to blogs. :) For my continuing learning, when I leave a comment back, do you get notified?

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Allergy or Intolerance? It is easy to test intolerances...

Is this problem I have with wheat and/or gluten an allergy or an intolerance, and why is this an important distinction?

An allergy is an "abnormal immune system reaction" that may cause hives, difficulty breathing, nausea, and in extreme cases, a life-threatening reaction such as anaphylaxis (according to the Mayo Clinic website). That is not what I have.

The way Dr. Hamman, the naturopathic doctor in San Francisco that helped me figure out my wheat problem initially in 2002, explained a wheat or gluten intolerance is still the definition that makes the most sense to me. And, it applies to any food intolerance. If it turns out that wheat is not a problem, but that you have a problem with corn, sugar, soy or dairy, the effects are the same or similar. What she said is that if you have a food intolerance, it means that your body cannot digest something. It's not like an allergy since the problem is in your body's ability to digest it, so it doesn't show up on allergy tests. But, when you eat something that your body cannot digest, the villi in your intestines get irritated in the process of trying to digest it, and since they are irritated, it prevents you from getting and absorbing the nutrients in ANYTHING you eat. This is why a lot of people with intolerances have vitamin deficiencies (such as anemia) and excessive weight gain or loss. If you're curious, her website is

From my perspective, this is an important difference, as well, because while I'm the first to admit that it is not easy to go on a no-wheat diet, it is also a very simple thing to test out. And it is something that you can do right away on your own. Dr. Hamman said that you can find out if you have a problem with any specific food if you cut it out of your diet for three weeks, then add it back in all at once. My experience with going off wheat was that I started feeling better pretty quickly, and it sounds like our family friends have had a similar experience (once they realized that there was a soy allergy, too). I didn't need three weeks to know that I felt better without wheat. And, it is a lot easier to do this now than in 2002! Even if you don't live in a place that has gluten-free items in the supermarket or a great local gluten-free bakery, you can order a bunch of gluten free food from or any of the other online sites that come up when you type in "gluten free" to google. Even Betty Crocker is now in the gluten free business ( :)

In fact, I didn't realize that you could diagnose gluten intolerance with a blood test until this year when our family friends were just diagnosed with Celiac disease that way. And, as I mentioned in an earlier post, as I learned in my case, the labs definitions of "normal" may not reflect true problems. Thus, people who go this route may be told they don't have a problem when they do.

There is a "Gluten Free RN" here in Corvallis that our family friends went to and really liked. Her name is Nadine Grzeskowiak, and she is a Registered Nurse who specializes in gluten intolerance and celiac disease. I went to her hour-long class a few weeks ago, and found it very interesting. Nadine has first-hand experience with this since she had some very serious health problems that were not diagnosed, and was finally diagnosed with celiac disease by a dermatologist she went to see because of her skin issues. She has more information and resources on her website at She gave me a link to a website of symptoms of gluten intolerance at For more information about gluten intolerance, you can also check out If you try going off gluten, feel better, and want to get an actual diagnosis, there are tests you can get. According to Nadine, the most accurate test to diagnose gluten intolerance is a stool sample test (that you send to Texas).

If you want to read more about wheat and gluten allergies, there is some interesting information at,, and

Long week, craving comfort food

Work has been really busy, so I haven't had much energy to blog lately. But, today I got home and really just wanted some warm comfort food for this rainy evening dinner. Tom gave us some gluten free pasta, Mrs. Leepers corn elbows, that they really like. He gets it at Whole Foods in Tigard. It was great! Light, flavorful but not a strong flavor and a great texture. Thanks, Tom!

P.S. Alexander loved it, too!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Make your own flours or get a mix?

Till now, I've been a "mix" girl. Adding together all of the gf flours and gums, and making sure I have them on hand, has seemed too complicated. It is more expensive, too, however, so if I decide to stay completely gf, it may be good to learn. During my wheat-free years, we have kept spelt flour and oat flour on hand, so I haven't needed to learn how to use xantham gum or guar gums. My main complaint about mixes so far is that they often use more sugar than I would like.

I asked my neighbor, Tom, a gf baker extraoridnaire, yesterday whether or not he uses mixes. He and Hillary, the master decorator, make their own. He mentioned that bean flours may also not be good for people who get migrane headaches.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

New gf mixes from King Arthur Flours

My mother-in-law, Judy, just told me about King Arthur Flours getting into the gf business. She wrote:
"I think that King Arthur has good quality products and have long been on their mailing list.  I just got their announcement of a whole line of gluten free products and thought you might be interested in checking out their website."

Their site mentions that they have a dedicated gf facility, so it sounds like they are serious about this.

Thanks, Judy!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Gluten free vs. Wheat free

What's the difference?

I went to Java II, the coffee shop in the OSU Library, yesterday with a colleague. They had gluten free cookies on the counter, and I was naturally excited about that. I got one, and it was really good. I made a comment that this is certainly different than when I started 8 years ago. She said, "Oh, I thought you just started this." It made me realize that announcing that I'm "going gf" gives the impression that this is all new to me. I said that I've been mainly gluten free for more than 8 years now, but that perhaps it's easier to say I've been "wheat free" for 8 years.

So, if I've been doing this for 8 years, why the big deal now about going gf? It's a good question. Here's what I've come up with:

1. If you are gluten free you will, by definition, be wheat free, but if you are wheat free, you don't have to pay as much attention to the other grains with gluten. Thus, it is a higher level of paying attention! Here are typical foods that contain gluten (from
• Barley, including barley malt
• Bran
• Bulgur
• Couscous
• Farina
• Kamut
• Orzo
• Semolina
• Spelt
• Tabbouli
• Wheat
Of this list, the only ones I've eaten over these wheat-free years are barely and spelt.

2. It's an emotional difference. I haven't had to claim the label "gluten free." I have never been or wanted to be a "picky eater," and going completely gf feels like I am committing to be a "problem guest" and calling attention to my dietary restrictions forever. In reality, of course, it is not much different than how I've been for 8 years.

On another note, good news for other Corvallis area gf-ers, I just read that gf cupcakes are coming to the North Store Co-op on Thursday. (see

Monday, March 1, 2010

GF Rugelach Recipe

My friend, Jackie, at work sent me the following tip. She writes:
"I’m not sure if you bake, but I just read an enchanting, if off-beat little piece about rugelach (which I love) that was followed by a gluten-free recipe. Enjoy!"
From seeing the pictures and reading the ingredients, it certainly looks and sounds delicious! Thanks, Jackie!

If any of you make it before I get to it, let me know how it goes.