Tuesday, November 24, 2015

The Food Allergy Blogger Conference, Another Great Year

It’s been just a week since I arrived back home from the Food Allergy Blogger Conference (FABLogCon) in Denver, and I am suffering from withdrawal. There is something special and comforting about being in a room where everyone “gets it.” Where there is no need to explain. Where every bit of food served is something you can eat. Where everyone’s story is different and yet the same.

The third annual (yes, Jenny, I used that word again) conference was a raging success!

There is way more than can be said in a single blog post, but I will do my best to do it justice.

Thank you to all of the amazing sponsors, especially top-tier sponsors Sanofi, Enjoy Life Foods, Sunbutter, EAT, Mylan, and Ogilvy. A conference like this simply isn’t possible without sponsorship. Here’s a peek at some of the SWAG I brought home:

The food at the Denver Renaissance was amazing. Everything was gluten-free and the staff was great at making sure my meal didn’t contain soy. Thank you Chef’s Keith, Keith, and Charles!!

I was lucky to have won the prize package from Coconut Secret:

I am especially looking forward to the coconut aminos. Could this be the soy-free soy sauce I have been looking for?

I had the opportunity to share the stage with Alisa Fleming, Chandice Probst, and Sally Ekus on the topic of pitching your ideas. These ladies rock!

I am glad that I was able to spend some time (finally) with Michelle Palin, Holly Yzquidero, and all my new friends. It seems there is never enough time.

I spent most of my time in the blogger track and came home with pages of notes of things I need to do/fix/learn.

I’m bummed that I missed Missy’s Social Media Bootcamp (rack that up to a Delta Airlines snafu), but I have the charts to review.

As always, thanks to the social-media-savvy girls who never fail to teach me something new – Keeley, Cindy, Annelies, Michelle – and to Ritesh for making my to-do list twice as long as it was prior to his session.

Thanks to Mary Fran Wiley for teaching me how to put alt-text in my photos in blogger (how did I not know this?) and going above and beyond to help me get social share buttons on my website.

Thanks to Erica Dermer for making me laugh.

Thanks to Ritesh for working behind the scenes on the tech (and doing it in a way that no one even noticed).

The biggest thanks (of course) go to the Queen of the Conference, Jenny Sprague. Her passion and vision sustain us all.

There were so many people I missed this year, including Tanya O’Brien, Peggy Trefts, Pam Jordan, Lori Sandler, Lynda Mitchell, Gina Mennett-Lee, Laurel Francouer, Homa Woodrum, Selena Buntzer, Lisa Musician, Rachel Hayden…. I could go on. But I hope we see you next year (yes, Jenny, I said it again).

Monday, November 23, 2015

Cranberry Sauce Made Better

Cranberries are a must for my holiday table. Cranberry muffins will be my choice of bread and of course, cranberry sauce must be served with turkey.

The secret ingredient in this essential cranberry sauce is mustard seeds. A must try!

I have been making a version of this cranberry sauce for years. I used to say that pineapple was the secret ingredient, but I have now discovered a way to make it even better. The new secret ingredient? Mustard seeds! Of course, those allergic to mustard should leave out the seeds. The original version without seeds is great too! Either way, it is so much better than those cranberry jellies!

Cranberry Sauce

2 cups fresh cranberries, washed and strained
1 cup orange juice
1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
1 cup chopped pineapple
2 tablespoons honey

Bring the cranberries, orange juice, and mustard seeds to a boil in medium saucepan over high heat. Reduce the heat to med-high and boil until the cranberries begin to pop open (3-4 minutes).

Add the pineapple chunks. Reduce the heat to low and simmer until the sauce starts to thicken (about 10 minutes).

Add the honey and continue simmering another 2-3 minutes.

The best cranberry sauce at Learning to Eat Allergy-Free

Let the cranberry sauce cool and then chill until you are ready to serve.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Nutiva Shortening -- Product Review

Every so often I come across a new product at the grocery store that is calling my name. I had spied this Nutiva shortening a few weeks ago, and finally decided to splurge and give it a try.

The problem with shortening for those of us with food allergies is that most shortening is  combination of oils (and sometimes other ingredients) -- and each ingredient added means that some set of folks out there can't use it. Until now, the only single ingredient products I have found that can be used as shortening are coconut oil and Spectrum Organics shortening (all palm fruit oil). The Nutiva shortening caught my eye because it's just palm fruit oil and coconut oil.

The product actually contains two types of palm oil -- palm fruit oil and red palm oil. Red palm oil is red in color when in its natural state. This is likely what accounts for the deep golden yellow color of the shortening:

I put the shortening to the test on a cake recipe that I've been working on -- the type of cake where you must cream the sugar with the shortening. And I was disappointed. No matter how hard I tried (or how long I mixed) my batter ended up lumpy. I considered dumping it, but decided to go ahead and bake it and see what happens. In the end, the cake was okay, but I think I'll stick with my old standby's for shortening:

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free Oatmeal To-Go Cups - Product Review

A couple of weeks ago I received a surprise in the mail. I love surprise packages! This time it was a sample box of Bob's Red Mill new oatmeal cups.

 Disclaimer: I received a complimentary sample of this product from Bob's Red Mill.

I am an oatmeal-for-breakfast person. On most days I make a batch of either Bob's Red Mill gluten-free old-fashioned oats or Udi's gluten-free steel cut oats. I make them on the stovetop because I believe they taste better this way. But when I'm traveling this isn't possible. My solution is to bring measured portions of Bob's Red Mill quick-cooking gluten free oats. Since most hotel rooms not include coffee makers, I pour my oatmeal into a coffee cup and heat up water with the coffee maker. I have been making my own to-go oatmeal cups, but I don't need to anymore!

These cups come in four flavors -- classic, brown sugar and maple, apple pieces and cinnamon, and blueberry and hazelnut. The only unsweetened cup is classic (but feel free to add your own sweetener, blueberries, bananas, etc. All flavors contain chia and flax. Want some fiber? all contain at least 7 grams of fiber.

Now for the test.

They are quite easy to prepare following the directions on the cup. Boil water, fill to the water line, stir, cover and let it sit for 3 minutes. Voila! perfect oatmeal:

Pictured above is the blueberry hazelnut. This is the only flavor that contains nuts, but all contain a "manufactured in a facility that also uses tree nuts and soy" warning.
These will work great for on the road breakfasts (using the hotel coffee maker). Just don't forget to bring a spoon!

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

White Rice Flour vs. Brown Rice Flour

We have all heard it – brown rice is better for you than white rice, right?

One cup of cooked long-grain brown rice clocks in at 216 calories with 5 grams of protein and 4 grams of fiber.

One cup of cooked long-grain white rice clocks in at 205 calories with 4 grams of protein and 1 gram of fiber.

Above data according to nutritiondata.com.

So, yes, we will call brown rice the winner here. But what about brown rice and white rice flours? So much of our gluten-free and allergen-free food contains these ingredients and I like to know what I’m eating!

Is brown rice flour healthier than white rice flour? Let’s compare using some popular brands:

Authentic Foods brown rice superfine flour has 140 calories in a ¼ cup serving, with 3 grams of protein and 1 gram of fiber.

Authentic Foods white rice superfine flour has 150 calories in ¼ cup, with 2 grams of protein and 1 gram of fiber.

Bob’s Red Mill gluten free brown rice flour also has 140 calories in a ¼ cup serving with 3 grams of protein, but it has 2 grams of fiber.

Bob’s Red Mill gluten-free white rice flour has a similar profile to Authentic Foods, clocking in at 150 calories with 2 grams of protein and 1 gram of fiber.

To compare King Arthur Flour’s gluten free brown rice flour, I needed to normalize the serving size by grams (because this flour is lighter than the others). Here, a serving size is 1/3 cup, with 146 grams, with 2.5 grams of protein and 1.3 grams of fiber.

It appears that the gap between white rice and brown has narrowed considerably when talking flour – enough that I would call it a draw. There is a greater variance by brand than by variety.

What flours do you use to add more protein to a gluten-free flour blend?