Thursday, September 29, 2011

Butternut Squash Stew made with Pacific Natural Foods Broth

It has suddenly gotten cold here in the Northeast – much too cold for my liking at this time of year. But it’s too early to turn the heat on, so the next best thing is to keep the house (or at least the kitchen) warm by pulling out the crock-pot and making stew.

I’ve been on a bit of a veggie kick lately – I will not claim to be anything close to vegan, but we are severely trying to limit our intake of animal based foods. The good news is – I have lots of fresh veggies from the farm, and some terrific broths that the folks at Pacific Foods sent me to try.

I love stews because you can throw the ingredients together and let it sit. And as I’m working at home I can smell my meal all day long.

Butternut Squash Stew

I butternut squash, peeled and cubed
½ pound of kale leaves, chopped into large pieces
½ head garlic – one clove sliced, the rest whole
1 onion, cut in half and sliced
1 tsp Cajun spices
1 tsp pepper
3 cups of Pacific Natural Foods organic vegetable broth
1 can garbanzo beans

Place all ingredients (except the beans) in a crock-pot and cook on low for 7-8 hours. Stir occasionally. Add the garbanzo beans with 1-2 hours left to cook.

What are you making with your early fall veggies?

Monday, September 26, 2011

The Winner of the Mary’s Gone Crackers Giveaway is…


Karen, since I have your e-mail I will contact you to get the address to send your Mary’s Gone Crackers chocolate chip cookies to. Congratulations! And let us know what you think after you try them.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Have You Tried Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free Products?

I'm loving the Bob's Red Mill gluten-free baking mixes and flours. Whenever I find a new mix to try, I consider it a challenge to create something from it -- with allergen-free substitutions, of course. One of my latest creations was Cinnamon Raisin Muffins from a Bob's Red Mill Gluten-Free Cinnamon Raisin Bread Mix.
Check out my guest post at the Bob's Red Mill blog for the recipe!

What's your favorite gluten-free baking mix?

And don't forget to enter the Mary's Gone Crackers giveaway!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Mary’s Gone Crackers Cookies -- and a Giveaway

No, that’s not a typo. Mary’s Gone Crackers makes crackers as you might expect, but they also make cookies. They recently sent me a box full of goodies to review, including the cookies pictured here.

As a businessperson, I love the company’s philosophy and vision – “conscious eating” is their motto, and their products are not only gluten-free and vegan – they use organic, non-GMO, locally sourced foods. This is my kind of stuff.

Not everything Mary’s Gone Crackers makes is what I would call allergen-free; for example, the crackers contain tamari (which is made from soybeans).

The cookies we tried are what I would describe as low-sugar (9 grams per serving) and whole grain (rice, tapioca, potato, amaranth). They do contain coconut and soy lecithin.

I was delighted when I opened the box. Each box contains two separate pouches. This may not seem like a big deal, but I think it’s genius – if you’ve eaten a lot of gluten-free foods you know that they pick up moisture and don’t keep on the shelf as long as traditional cookies. The two-pack design means you don’t have to eat them all in a couple of days. It also makes it easy to pack in a picnic basket or lunch box.

Now, the cookies – We tried the double chocolate first (of course). They are soft baked with a bit of a crunch – perhaps provided by the chia seeds. It’s actually almost a hybrid cookie/cracker. The chocolate chip cookies are crunchier, and yet still not quite what you would expect in a traditional cookie. Most surprising are the “oatmeal raisin” without oats. How did they pull that off? With quinoa in place of oats. No, it doesn’t taste like a traditional oatmeal raisin cookie, but the quinoa does pair well with raisins.

A final note – if you want decadent, sweet, and high calorie, these are not what you are looking for; if you want healthy, organic, gluten-free and vegan, you should try them.

The Giveaway

Now, one lucky reader will able to try the Mary's Gone Crackers product of their choice. Simply visit the Mary's Gone Crackers website and check out their product line. Leave a comment here with the product you'd like to try. You have until Friday September 23rd at midnight to enter. The winner will be announced on Monday September 26th.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Allergy Eats Goes Mobile

When Paul Antico sent me the press release about the new Droid and iPhone Allergy Eats apps, my reaction was, “Yes!!”

I’ve been asking for this app. I’ve been waiting for this app. Now it’s here!

I love the Allergy Eats site – it’s extremely helpful in finding restaurants that can accommodate my family’s food allergy restrictions. But I don’t need help when I’m home, by my computer. I know the local restaurants. When I need help is when I’m on the road, and we need to find a place to stop for lunch.

I’ve tried accessing the Allergy Eats website from my Droid X – but it’s a little too hard to use that way. The Droid app solves that problem, making it very easy to use. The interface is simple, and a quick search gives me the information I need including restaurants, location/contact info, and reviews.

I also tried the app on my iPad. If you download it on the iPad you’re stuck with the iPhone app (which is essentially a small screen on an iPad). I wasn’t too thrilled with that, but the Allergy Eats website can easily be accessed on my iPad using the web browser. I prefer it that way and so does Paul Antico who says that the iPad format will be the website. The use experience with the iPhone app is the same as the Droid app – very easy to use.

Here's an idea of what to expect:

Both apps can be downloaded directly from the app stores for the devices, and they are free! Yippee!

I expect to be getting a lot of use out of the Droid app over the next few months, as we will be traveling to new places for my son’s water polo tournaments.

Have you tried the app yet? What do you think?

Monday, September 12, 2011

Kim and Scott’s New Gluten-free Pretzels

It’s been a long time since I’ve had a soft pretzel. I used to love the ones you can buy from the street vendors in New York City, but even if a vendor claimed to have a gluten-free version, I’m not sure I’d trust it. So I was excited when the folks at Kim and Scott’s offered to send me some of their gluten-free gourmet pretzels to try.

You may have heard of Kim and Scott's Gourmet Pretzels, or even seen them on QVC. Well, the news is that they now have a gluten-free pretzel -- it's a bavarian classic soft pretzel.

Right out of the box they looked really good. They come two to a package, and were delivered to me frozen. They will keep thawed for four days – and yes, I did manage to eat both of them in four days. The pretzels are fully cooked, but the package suggests heating them in the oven or microwave before eating. I used the toaster oven and it worked just fine.

The pretzels are gluten-free, nut-free, milk-free, and soy-free. They do contain eggs, which made them off limits for my egg-allergic son. They use a multi-grain gluten-free flour blend that includes tapioca, rice, sorghum, quinoa, amaranth, and teff flours – quite a lineup of grains. Each pretzel is only 150 calories. The package comes with coarse salt to be added, if you’d like. I chose to keep mine plain.

The bottom line? I am really happy with these pretzels. I would definitely recommend them, and would buy them. Twelve pretzels (six boxes of two) costs $32.95 at Kim and Scott’s website. I am hoping that local stores will start to carry them so we can buy just one box at a time.

Have you tried these pretzels yet? What do you think?

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Celebrity Sighted at Conference – Now, what?

The San Diego Convention Center in San Diego, ...Image via WikipediaI recently attended the BlogHer conference in San Diego. Unlike the BlogHer Food conference attended by 500 food writers, the big BlogHer conference is more than big. Nearly 4000 bloggers who write about anything and everything attended the conference this year.

As I planned which sessions to attend, I was delighted to see that Shauna James Ahern, author of Gluten-Free Girland Gluten-Free Girl and the Chef,was presenting – not about food, not about gluten-free eating – she and her co-presenters led a session on blogging your way to self-acceptance. More on that later. First, you need to know that in my world (writing about special food needs) Shauna Ahern is a celebrity. She is the person I most wanted to meet while in San Diego.

Flashback to Atlanta and BlogHer food. There were many food writers there – many whose work I was not familiar with, and some names that I recognized. Among the great food writers I met in Atlanta were my amazing panel co-speakers, and another woman that I must describe as a food-writing goddess. Dianne Jacob, author of Will Write for Food, was also speaking at the conference. I was lucky enough to be able to chat with her as we walked to an event. Following that session she wrote a very thoughtful blog post, which all conference goers should read.

Dianne’s post helped me to realize that in every room (large or small) there is someone there who is more accomplished, more recognized, and (for those in business) higher on the org chart than you and me. We want to impress them, get to know them better, be more like them. There’s also most likely someone there who views you as that person they’d like to talk to, and they’d like to learn something from you but may not know how to approach you.

Back to San Diego and Blog Her 11
. As I prepared for the first session of the day I spotted Shauna as I was coming out of the restroom. I instantly recognized her from photos I had seen, and the thought crossed my mind – should I walk up and say hi? No, it was just minutes before her session, and it didn’t feel like the right time. I went into the room and found a seat.

Based on the session description I wasn’t sure the topic was right for me, but the speakers intrigued me. As luck would have it, with that choice I accidentally stumbled upon the most inspiring panel discussion I have ever attended. (I say that after having attended years of corporate sponsored events where big names were hired to motivate and challenge us.)

Gretchen Rubin, Brene Brown, Shauna Ahern, and Mr. Lady were genuine, honest, downright real speakers/writers/human beings/people. They rocked. And so, I was captivated by the emotion of the session when I got in line afterwards to introduce myself to Shauna.

And what did I do when I got to the front of the line? I babbled – told her how much I liked her books (true) and her blog (true). And I babbled some more, surely not making any kind of meaningful impression. I was intimidated – not due to any fault at all on her part – simply because I was me and she was Shauna.

So let me tell you why I am so impressed with this remarkable woman. Shauna didn’t have to travel the world to become whole and write a book. She simply got well, stayed home, and met her soulmate. While that sentence encapsulates her story, it doesn’t begin to describe the joyful life that she leads and chooses to lead every day.

Here’s what I would have liked to say to her:

“Your books move me. Through your stories you teach me about life.

And the next time we meet, I’d love to have a real conversation.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Have You Ever Seen a Yellow Watermelon?

This is just too cool not to share.

I picked up a watermelon at the farm last week. It was a big produce week -- even with a half share, I was able to pick six items. This watermelon was one of my picks.

It took a while to get around to cutting it open. When I finally did, I was surprised to find a yellow -- yes, yellow -- watermelom.

What a wonderful unexpected surprise! Perfect for a Labor Day picnic!

What's the most surprising or exotic fruit or vegetable that you have found this summer?

Picture taken with my Canon 7D, 60mm EFS macro lens

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Dairy-Free Milk for the Lunchbox

I really wish this product were available ten years ago. When my son was diagnosed with allergies to milk and soy, the only option he had for a take-along drink box was juice. Not that juice is necessarily a bad choice – but I would have preferred a choice with more calcium and vitamin D for his school lunches.

The good news is, it’s here now, and if you need a non-dairy milk option to pack in those brand-new lunchboxes as the kids go off to school, this just might be the right choice for you.

These shelf-stable versions of So Delicious Dairy-Free coconut milk beverage come in packs of 8, in three different flavors – original, vanilla, and chocolate.

Even the chocolate version you see here is just 70 calories for 6.5 ounces. The unsweetened original version is only 35 calories per box.
They are free of gluten, milk, eggs, soy, and nuts. They do (of course) contain coconut.

With 25% of the Vitamin D requirement and 6% of the calcium requirement, I’d say this is a great lunch box choice for kids with food allergies. What non-dairy drinks do you send to school with your kids?