Bacon Wrapped Chicken Bites

January 30, 2016

I grew up watching the Dallas Cowboys and then married a Kansas City Chief’s fan (they can get a little crazy), so Sunday football games have been a pretty standard part of my life. 

 

When we moved to Seattle we bought Seahawks season tickets but I have only been to a few games. We only have two tickets, so it is usually my husband and one of the kids who go to the games.  In the past, I have been known to read a book through a Seahawks game on Sunday afternoon . . ..

 They are so good and, as most of my recipes are, pretty easy to make. 

 

Bacon Wrapped Chicken Bites

 

Bacon Wrapped Chicken Bites

YIELDS 30 pieces

TIME: 45 minutes

Ingredients
  • 2 chicken breasts cut into bite sizes (you will get close to 30 pieces)
  • 1 package GF bacon
  • toothpicks
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
Preparation

1.  Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

2.  Mix together the brown sugar, chili powder and salt. 

3.  Slice bacon into thirds.  Wrap cut up chicken pieces in a third of a slice of bacon and secure with toothpick.

 

Bacon Wrapped Chicken Bites

Bacon Wrapped Chicken Bites

  Roll in sugar mixture.

4.  Place on a rimmed baking tray (the bacon grease will spill over a non-rimmed sheet) that is lined with parchment paper.

5.  Bake at 375 degrees F for 15-20 minutes.  For crispier bacon, set under the broiler for a few minutes at the end.  Keep an eye on it as the bacon will brown quickly under the broiler.

 

PRINTABLE VERSION

 

Bacon Wrapped Chicken Bites

 

Follow this link to more GF Appetizers. 

 

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The following is an email from a Swiss family looking for an American host family for their daughter who has celiac. 

 


 

 

We are searching for a host family for our daughter who has celiac disease.

 

We are a Swiss family of 4. We speak Swiss/German. Currently we have an exchange student living with us for 6 months from Costa Rica.  This exchange has been arranged through the AFS program.

 

Our daughter, Enya was diagnostic with celiac disease 1 year ago, but the thing is she would like to do an exchange in America for one year with AFS, to improve her English and also to learn about a different culture.   This exchange year would be from August 2017 to June 2018.  Enya will be 15 and a half years old at that time, so she would attend high school. For children with celiac disease it can be very difficult to find a host family so we decided to start looking for a host family ourselves.  This is why we are contacting you for help to find a family for our daughter. 

 

Thank you very much for your help!

 


 

If you are interested or know someone who might be able to help, please email me and I will pass along the message.

 


Dairy Free Substitutions

April 06, 2015

As I have shared before, I first went GF after my oldest daughter was diagnosed with Celiac Disease.  After being on the GF diet for a week, I suddenly felt better than I had my entire life.  I have been 100% GF for almost ten years now. 

 

A couple of weeks after going GF I actually had a turn for the worse.  I was immobilized with panic and anxiety.  I had terrible stomach issues and was suffering through yet another sinus infection (I was literally off and on antibiotics every other month).  I went to my general practitioner who recommended Lexapro.  I then visited a naturopath who diagnosed me with a dairy allergy.

 

I immediately gave up dairy and my health quickly rebounded. It was easy for me to give up dairy because I never liked it.  I did not like milk, yogurt or cottage cheese (a subtle reminder that we should all listen to our bodies).

 

Almost a decade of no gluten and no dairy plus regular exercise and I am amazingly healthy now.   I can’t remember the last time I took an antibiotic.  I had a stress test as part of a normal checkup and they told me I had the heart of an 18-year-old boy.

 

Through trial and error I have learned how to live a really happy life without both gluten and dairy.  Some of the obvious sources of dairy were easy to give up because I never liked them in the first place.  Others were not.  If it is Thanksgiving, I want my pumpkin pie despite my dietary restrictions.  Here are some of the tricks that I have learned for substituting non-dairy ingredients for dairy ingredients in my favorite recipes. 

 

In addition, most of the recipes on my website can be made dairy free and I note how to do so in the recipes.  I also have a feature on the left side of my recipe section where you can sort by dietary concern. 

 

Hope these tips help:  

 

  • Butter:  I prefer Earth Balance non-dairy spread.  Tastes, spreads and bakes pretty similar to real butter.  For baked goods that call for cold butter, I like Spectrum Organic Shortening.  Olive Oil is another great dairy stand-in.  Pour some on a plate and add garlic salt and pepper and dip your gluten free/casein free bread sticks in it. 

 

  • Buttermilk:  Add 1 Tablespoon lemon juice to GF Soy milk and let it sit until it thickens.  Additionally, I often bake with mayonnaise.  It works pretty well as a replacement for buttermilk.  Just add a little non-dairy milk alternative to reach a thinner consistency. 

 

  • CheeseDaiya and Go Veggie make dairy free cheese that comes shredded and in slices.  The flavor is fine but it takes some extra heat for it to melt.  If making a pizza, place under the broiler for a few minutes for a crisper cheese topping.  For some reason, these dairy free versions of cheese give me a stomachache.  I just skip the cheese or I will use mayonnaise in a casserole dish such as lasagna.   When I am feeling energetic, I will use this recipe for a Dairy Free Cheese Substitute.  This taste really great in Baked Ziti or Lasagna.

 

 

  • Cow’s milk: There are several non-dairy alternative milks.  My personal favorite is coconut milk.  I honestly don’t notice the coconut flavor in my baked goods, but you may notice it if you are very sensitive to coconut.   It has a consistency that is similar to 1 percent milk.  Other choices include Almond, Soy or Rice Milk.  Almond milk has a thicker consistency, while Rice Milk is very thin. If you are using Rice Milk as a replacement, then subtract one to two teaspoons of the rice milk from your recipe to account for the thinner consistency.  There has also been a lot of information lately about the arsenic content in rice milk.  For that reason, I avoid it.

 

  • Cream Cheese: There are non-dairy versions available at natural food markets.  Try Tofutti Brand Better Than Cream Cheese®.

 

 

  • Evaporated Milk:  Substitutions depend on the recipe.  Let a can of full fat coconut milk settle and use the thinner milk as a substitute.  This will give the baked goods a coconut flavor.  I have also used silken tofu as a substitute for evaporated milk in pumpkin pie.  Just replace the 12-ounce can of evaporated milk in the pumpkin pie recipe with a 10.5-ounce package of silken tofu that you have drained and processed in a blender to a smooth consistency. 

 

  • Sour Cream:  There are non-dairy versions available at natural food markets.  Tofutti also makes a non-hydrogenated Better Than Sour Cream that is casein free. Mayonnaise can also substitute for sour cream.  Or try one cup firm silken tofu blended with 1 Tablespoon of lemon juice.

 

  • Sweetened Condensed Milk:  Substitutions depend on the recipe.  Again, I have had good luck substituting silken tofu but you may need to add more sugar to the recipe.  Go Dairy Free has a great recipe for Sweetened Condensed Milk Replacement.

 

  • Yogurt: There are many dairy free yogurts.  I love the So Delicious Dairy Free Cultured Coconut Milk “yogurts.”  You can also use full fat coconut milk.  Let the can settle and then skim the coconut cream off the top of the can.   You can use this cream as a substitute for yogurt in most recipes.  Lastly, you can puree medium silken tofu.  It is flavorless, but has a similar consistency to yogurt.

 

More Gluten and Dairy Free Recipes

 

For more gluten and dairy free recipes, check out this section on my website.

 

 


I try really hard to keep my kids eating whole and natural foods, but sometimes a packaged fruit snack comes in handy!  And, in all honesty, my kids love these fruit snacks.

 

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Mott's, Fruit Snacks

 

Mott’s Fruity Centers have a juicy, fruit flavored core.  Mott’s Fruity Rolls deliver fruit flavor in a roll shape that’s fun for kids.

 

Both are made with natural flavors and colors from natural sources and provides 100% of daily value of Vitamin C.

 

And, of course, I confirmed their gluten free status:

 

Only products that can be verified to be gluten free will be declared as gluten free on the label. It is important to check the product label each time you purchase a product because it has the most accurate information about the product in the package. Only products that have the gluten-free claim on the package have undergone extensive ingredient, manufacturing and product analysis to ensure they are gluten free.

 

For products not labeled gluten free, we will always declare gluten-containing ingredients if they are added to the product. If the ingredient declaration lists wheat, oats, barley, rye, or derivatives of these grains, then the product contains gluten. Examples of derivative ingredients include: malt, barley malt, organic malt, semolina, Durham, triticale, and spelt. We do not include gluten-containing ingredients in the ′Natural Flavors′ or ′Spices′ on the product ingredient list. If there are gluten ingredients in our products, those ingredients are always clearly listed.

 

If there are no gluten- containing ingredients listed in the product ingredient label, but the product does not make a gluten free claim, it is because we cannot fully assure that this product is gluten free. While we have not added gluten-containing ingredients, factors such as sourcing, conditions of manufacture, etc. do not allow us to provide the full level of assurance that a gluten free claim requires.


 

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Mott's, Fruit Snacks

Click Here for More of our Favorite Gluten Free Snacks



I have to say that PF Chang’s is one of my family’s favorite places to eat.  As with many people who are gluten free, it was one of the first places we ate out gluten free and we have loved it ever since.

 

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Of course, we love the food.  My favorite is the chicken lettuce wraps with gluten free soy sauce.   

 

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I love that the gluten free section is printed right on the main menu so I don’t have to ask for a special menu. 

 

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To further support the GF community, P.F. Chang’s just launched a new website for gluten free diners. Dedicated to providing gluten free options and resources, the site offers an inside look into how P.F. Chang’s gluten free dishes are prepared.

 

Some fellow gluten free bloggers have had trouble eating here, so I caution you to be extra vigilant.   As at any restaurant, you need to be clear and let them know your food intolerances.  We are always very specific in letting them know we have celiac disease and requesting that they write this on our order.    We also check once again that the food is gluten free when it is delivered to our table.

 

In fact, I am vigilant at every restaurant.  But we have been sickened too many times for me to take eating out lightly.  PRINT the following dining card.  Use this card whenever you eat out.  Don’t assume that because a restaurant has gluten free food, they will necessarily follow all of the precautions listed below.  I have been criticized for being too detailed but my passion for keeping my family safe is evident in the detail in this dining card. 

 

Gluten Free Dining Card

 

I have an illness called Celiac Disease and have to follow a strict Gluten Free Diet. I will become very ill if I eat even a crumb of gluten.

 

Gluten is found in many food items, but most commonly in flours and grains of wheat (durum, semolina, kamut, spelt), rye, barley and some oats.

 

Foods that may contain gluten include soy sauce, blue cheese, breading, imitation bacon, marinades, processed meats, soup bases, thickeners, broth, croutons, gravies, imitation seafood, pastas, stuffing etc.

 

Foods that are safe include unseasoned and unmarinated meats, fruit, veggies, eggs, cheese, milk, rice, corn, soy, potato, bean, sorghum, quinoa, millet, buckwheat, arrowroot, amaranth, teff and nut flours

 

In addition to being aware of the above ingredients, please take care to make sure my food is not contaminated by other food containing gluten by doing the following:

 

  • Prepare my food in a clean area on a clean surface.
  • Wash your hands and wear clean gloves while preparing my food.
  • Use only clean utensils including strainers, tongs, knives, and spoons.
  • Use only clean water and oil in clean dishes when preparing my food – do not use water that has cooked wheat pasta and do not use oil that has had wheat food fried in it such as breaded chicken fingers.
  • Do not cut my food on a cutting board that has had bread on it.
  • Do not wash my fruit or drain my pasta in a strainer that has been used to drain pasta.
  • If grilling food, thoroughly clean the grill with a metal brush before placing my food on the grill.  Marinades often contain gluten.
  • If you accidentally add croutons to my salad, please do not just remove them from the salad.  I can still get sick from the contamination of the salad by the croutons.  Please prepare me a new salad.
  • Only use new clean tubs of condiments such as butter, mayo, mustard and ice cream.  Previously used tubs may have been contaminated by a utensil that had gluten on it – such as a butter knife or ice cream scooper that was used for a flavor containing a gluten ingredient.
  • Do not season my food unless we have discussed the seasonings – use only salt and pepper and no garnish on my plate unless it is fresh and has no sauce.

 

Thank you for taking the time to make sure my meal is safe! 

 

Your chance to win a PF Chang’s Gift Card

 

Thank you PF Chang’s for providing a $25 gift card for this giveaway.

 

For the Giveaway, PF Chang's is providing a $25 gift card to one winner.

This giveaway is open to:

  • Residents in the contiguous United States, 18 years or older. The contest is voided in ALASKA, FLORIDA, HAWAII, NEW YORK, PUERTO RICO.
  •  One winner.  Winner must reply within 24 hours or new winner will be selected.
  • Enter below.

 

Giveaway Starts at 12:00 AM PCT on 03/24/2015 and ends at 12:00 AM PCT on 04/01/2015.

 

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway


This is another of our family’s favorite meals.  In all honesty, I make it about twice a month.  Everyone loves pizza! 

 

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This recipe is great because it makes enough for the entire family (and usually a friend or two) and it is easy to customize for individual taste by using different toppings.

It is a thicker crust pizza (depending on how long you let it rise). I bake it on my big 12 x 17 inch baking sheet and then slice it into squares. 

 

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Recipe for Gluten Free Thick Crust Family-Sized Pizza

 

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Ingredients
  • 2 1/4 cups warm water (110 degrees F)
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 pack (2 ½ teaspoons) GF yeast
  • 2 ¼ cup brown rice flour
  • 3/4 cup millet flour
  • 1 ½ cup cornstarch (plus additional corn starch to prepare the baking dish)
  • 1 cup tapioca starch
  • 3/4 cup dry milk powder (for dairy free use Vance's DariFree)
  • 3 teaspoons xanthan gum
  • 3 Tablespoons GF flaxseed meal
  • 2 1/2  teaspoons salt (plus additional sea salt for sprinkling on top)
  • 4 Tablespoons olive oil (plus additional olive oil for sprinkling on top)

Pizza Toppings:  Including olive oil, marinara sauce, mozzarella and/or Parmesan cheese, sliced tomatoes, pepperoni or whatever else you like to top your pizza with.

 

Preparation

 

Proof the Yeast:

1.  Fill a two-cup glass-measuring cup with ¼ cup water and warm to 110 degrees F.  Add 1 teaspoon sugar, sprinkle the yeast on top and give it a quick stir. Let it sit for 5 to 10 minutes. If it is working properly, you will get tannish foam on top of the liquid.

 

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This is what the yeast should look like when it is done.


2.  In the bowl of your mixer, whisk together the brown rice flour, millet flour, cornstarch, tapioca starch, dry milk powder, xanthan gum, GF flaxseed meal and salt until they become one consistent flour-like texture.

 

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3.  Add the remaining 2 cups warm water, olive oil and yeast mixture and mix on low until combined.

 

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4.  Press the dough into a 12 x 17 inch square rimmed baking sheet that has been lightly oiled and dusted with cornstarch (don't skip this step or the pizza will stick to the pan).  I have found it easiest to do this if you spray a spatula with some oil and then press the dough out with the spatula.

 

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5.  Cover lightly with saran wrap that has been sprayed with oil and let rise in a warm place for 30 minutes.   Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.  Bake for 10 minutes.

6. Remove from oven and add desired toppings.   We start with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. 

 

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Then add a thin layer of marinara or pizza sauce.  Spread with mozzarella and Parmesan cheese and top with sliced tomatoes.  Sprinkle with basil. 

 

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For the meat lovers, I add sliced pepperoni to half of the pizza.

7.  Bake for 20 – 25 minutes at 400 degrees F.

 

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8.  Slice and enjoy.

 

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PRINTABLE VERSION


 

As fully explained in my previous blog post, we followed all necessary steps to request an accommodation, met with the University Dining Staff on several occasions, and yet they completely failed at providing any sort of an accommodation.   In fact, in her first quarter of college my daughter had three meals provided by the University and was sick after two of them! 

 

At the time of my last post, the Dining and Housing Staff at UW had denied all of our requests including our final plea that my daughter’s meal plan be reduced, since they were not providing safe meals, and to change her triple room to a double when one roommate moved out.  Even though UW repeatedly slammed the door in our faces, we were persistent and have finally landed on a resolution.  Not ideal - they still are not going to provide safe meals.  But they have offered a few concessions.   

 

First I want to say that the support of the gluten free community following my last post was awesome.  Someone offered a spare dorm-sized refrigerator for my daughter to use.  Another person who lives near us and works at UW offered to help with delivery of meals.  Yet another couple that lives near my daughter’s dorm offered to store her meals in their refrigerator in their house and then deliver them to her when she needed them.  How cool is that! 

 

Following my last blog post, we decided it was time to move up the chain of command.  We emailed the Dean of Students hoping to get someone’s attention.  Not surprisingly, we once again received no response.

 

We found an Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) attorney and were seriously contemplating filing a Department of Justice claim.  As I mentioned before, the retainer fee was $5000 so this was a big decision for us.   We decided to send one last email to the legal department at UW.  It helps that both parents are lawyers!  After some digging, we found the person in the legal department who overseas housing and food services.  We sent one more email indicating that this really was our last attempt at resolving this amicably and if we did not hear back we were proceeding with the DOJ.

 

We finally got their attention! Shortly after that email, we received a request for a meeting from the Director of Housing and Food Services at UW.

 

By this point in time, we were halfway through my daughter’s second quarter.  We traveled back to UW for yet another meeting.  I was actually nervous before this meeting.  Our previous requests had been so rudely denied that I thought we were just going in for more excuses.  And I knew they had read my blog post which was entirely factual but nevertheless portrayed UW Dining in a very negative light.

 

The University acknowledged they were wrong.

 

I am happy to report that this meeting was actually productive.  At the very outset the UW Director apologized for how poorly they treated my daughter and for their failure to provide safe gluten free meals.

 

They acknowledged that they were well aware of the Lesley decision but due to a variety of circumstances had not formulated a proposal as to how the UW should proceed.  The UW Director noted that providing safe gluten free meals is something that is being widely discussed at the collegiate level and that they need to implement a plan to accommodate students like my daughter.   

 

They assured us that since we brought this to their attention they were now working on a plan to provide safe gluten free meals for future students.  They discussed a few different options for creating a dedicated gluten free food prep/kitchen area.  But these plans will take time to implement. 

 

They offered a few Accommodations for my Daughter.

 

Unfortunately none of these plans will be in place in time to provide my daughter safe meals for her freshman year and after all she has been through, she is not willing to eat anything from the dining hall until they take the necessary steps to provide truly safe gluten free meals.  For my daughter, the best they could offer was to excuse the dining allowance from her meal plan.  It was good to see them take this step since they previously refused to do this, even though she is only using her meal plan to buy coffee and yogurt!   

 

Additionally, it turns out that her dorm has a small kitchen that is reserved for the Residents Assistants and very rarely used.  They gave my daughter a key to this kitchen.  They also provided an area in the kitchen for her to store some pots and pans and food.  Yes, it seems like they could have done this months ago, if only someone had told us about it!    

 

Finally, my daughter pointed out that there is only one microwave in the dining area where she can heat the GF meals I deliver to her.  Of course, the dining hall people placed the bagel cutter and toaster on top of the microwave.  (Yes, their absolute disregard for her situation is pretty appalling).  They agreed to separate these two areas.  

 

I guess this is as good as it gets for now.  I am still making her meals but have also purchased a few pots and pans so she can cook a few things for herself.  The school year is 2/3 over at this point anyway. 

 

Sometimes it is Hard being First

 

My daughter was happy to finally get an apology for how poorly UW dealt with her situation.   But she is understandably upset that she had to get so sick and go through all of this because of the University’s non-compliance with the ADA.  She was sick for much of her first quarter of college and they treated her very rudely.   And really the accommodation she is getting is minimal (I am still feeding her and they are not providing safe meals). 

 

If you are a mom, then you know your child’s pain is only a fraction of what the mom feels, so you can guess how hard this has been for me.  But I explained that sometimes it is hard to be first.  Just like it was hard to be some of the first people who were diagnosed with celiac and went gluten free, it is hard to be the first student to push for your rights against UW.  But the consolation is knowing that you made a difference; the University is very aware of the issue now and they are working to provide safe meals for future students with celiac.  And even though it is hard being first, sometimes knowing you made a difference is as good as it gets.   

 

Are you Considering UW in the Future?

 

If you have a student who is thinking about UW next year, I am honestly not sure they will have taken the necessary steps to provide safe meals by then.  You can rest assured that I will continue to follow up with them and they certainly need to take this seriously because they are “on-notice” now and the next student who is treated this way will have a very strong claim against them.

 

Getting Accommodations at other Colleges

 

I used to think that you should not let your diet limit your college choices.  We have continuously fought to live as much of a “normal” life as possible despite our dietary restrictions.  But after going through this, I may exert some influence on my other daughter to go to one of the gluten free friendly universities

 

If your student is already in college and you find yourself in a situation similar to our experience, be PERSISTENT.  You have certain rights under the ADA but institutions are good at saying “no” and hoping you will just go away.  But don’t give up! Document everything!  Continue working your way up the chain of command.  Be polite but keep pushing until you get some kind of workable accommodation.  And if all else fails, call me!  I will keep pushing for you!

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It is such a gift for me to go on a vacation where I do not have to cook one single meal and my gluten free kids do not feel deprived.  Yes, the Four Seasons is a splurge but worth every penny.  Read to the end and I will let you in on a little secret that makes it somewhat more affordable.

 

Four Season Resort Punta Mita Mexico

 

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Let’s just start with the fact that this is a wonderful resort.  The Four Seasons Resort is located forty-five minutes north of Puerto Vallarta in a relatively new resort area known as Punta Mita.  I found this resort when I was looking for somewhere hot and sunny, that is kid friendly with a swimmable beach.  Four Seasons Punta Mita exceeds all of these criteria.

 

Punta Mita is Hot and Sunny

 

It is pretty obvious to point out that it rains a lot in Seattle.  I learned early on that I need a sun break to make it through to July 4th when the sun finally comes out in the beautiful Pacific Northwest.  We used to go to Hawaii but it was too cold for me.  I like it hot.  

 

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The weather, beaches and pools at Four Seasons Punta Mita invite hours of playing in the surf, reading books and long walks on the beach.

 

The Resort is very Kid Friendly

 

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The Lazy River

 

The Kids For All Seasons Program at this resort is complimentary for kid’s ages 5 to 12.   It is hopping with kids.  They are entertained with everything from playing in the sand, swimming on the lazy river to a weekly piñata festival.  Not to mention free ice cream every day by the pool and every restaurant at this resort is very kid-friendly.  The resort even has free s’mores on the beach at night.  In fact, this resort is so family-orientated that I would be hesitant to come here as a couple looking for a romantic getaway.   There is one adult pool but it is set away from the ocean.  The best pool is the infinity-edge pool that looks out at the beach.  This pool is crawling with kids. (Now that my kids are older, there were actually times on this trip when I thought there were too many little kids around).

 

Beautiful Swimmable Beach

 

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If you vacation in Mexico, you know it can be hard to find a resort with a swimmable beach that still has enough surf to boogie board or do some intro-surfing.  This resort has the perfect beach for families equipped with a volleyball net, boogie boards, paddleboards and snorkeling gear.  All of the equipment is complimentary to guests of the resort.   There is even a short trial to a bat cave that is in a cliff along the beach. 

 

For the grown ups, there is impeccable beachside service.  Really it doesn't get much better than this.

 

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Now to the Gluten Free Food

 

The Four Seasons is known for their exceptional standard of service.  Feel confident that they have the gluten free diet down.  It is even safe for celiacs.  This resort goes beyond the basics to provide almost anything that you could reasonably ask for.  My kids love the fact that they have a dedicated gluten free fryer (yeah) for gluten free popcorn shrimp and french fries!

 

You are in Mexico, so there is an abundance of gluten free corn tortillas.  This makes quesadillas and tacos very easy.

 

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Everything at the lunchtime taco cart that is set up at the pool is gluten free as well.

 

There is also plenty of gluten free corn tortilla chips and guacamole.  We ate so much guacamole that we joked about having “guac babies” in our tummies.

 

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And the seafood is catch-of-the day fresh.  You can actually take a look at the fish and select your dinner.  They will prepare the fish to your taste. 

 

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Catch of the Day

 

Every meal includes gluten free bread that is very light and tasty.  Not gritty or crumbly at all.

 

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Gluten Free Pizzas and Pasta are also on the menu. 

 

And for breakfast how about gluten free French toast, pancakes, or my kid’s favorite: chocolate chip gluten free Belgium waffles?

 

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How to make this experience a little more affordable?

 

All of this is great, but the Four Seasons is expensive!  We offset some of the expenses by staying at the Four Seasons Residences.  The residences are time-share condominiums that sit right on the edge of the resort property.  You may have to walk four minutes longer than people staying in rooms at the resort, but in exchange for being on the edge of the property you get a huge 2-bedroom condominium.  The condos are equipped with a full kitchen and your very own plunge pool.  All of this is for about the same price as one room at the resort.  Anyone who is a guest of the condominiums has full access to the resort.   They will even bring in-room dining service to you for a small extra charge.

 

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Even though the dining options are amazing, what Gluten Free Mom doesn’t travel with a suitcase of food?  I bring along muffins for breakfast, sandwiches for bread, our favorite cookies and snack items like nuts and chocolate. 

 

There is a local grocery store that you can order food on-line from before you leave home.  I order the basics from the grocery store such as milk, cheese, fruit, lunchmeat etc.  The day of your arrival the groceries are delivered to your condo and put away. 

 

Our routine is to eat what we bring for breakfast.  Everyone gets up at different times so this makes breakfast super easy.    The condominiums are stocked with coffee and cream.   One of my favorite times of the day is drinking my coffee on the patio before the kids get up.

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The kids are pretty happy with muffins for breakfast.  On the last day, I let them get room service for breakfast aka gluten free waffles. 

 

The day is spent on the beach. 

 

 Punta_Mita_Four_Seasons.jpeg

 

For lunch, it is typically the Taco Cart on the beach.  If someone wants a sandwich instead it is easy to make it with the full kitchen in the condo.   Coolers on the beach are also complimentary.

 

After a day on the beach, we head to the pool in the afternoon for happy hour – mango margaritas for the parents, chocolate shakes for the kids (made in dedicated mixers so no worries about cross-contamination).

 

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Drink delivery in the pool.

 

After a snack of fruit and cheese on the condo patio, it is back to the beach for the sunset.

 

Gluten Free Family vacation at the Four Seasons Punta Mita Resort Mexico.jpg

 

 

Gluten Free Family vacation at the Four Seasons Punta Mita Resort Mexico.jpg

 

For dinner, we go out a couple of nights to the restaurant that is on the beach.  

 

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I love the catch-of-the-day.  The kids will have the same or quesadillas and french fries or tacos.  When we first started going here on vacation I would cook a few dinners.  Now when we feel like staying in, we order room service and eat on the patio.

 

Four_Seasons_Resort_Punta_Mita.jpg

 

Pretty much a perfect week!   Now I can face the rain again, maybe.  Sadly this was not a sponsored post! 

 

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Gluten_Free_Valentines_Day.jpg
 
See’s Candy

 

According to their website, all of See’s candies do not contain gluten.

 

sees_candy.png

 

What a perfect way to make someone feel special.  (Don’t tell my kids, but this is what they are getting).


 

Chocolate Covered Strawberries

These are so easy to make and naturally delicious.  Don’t spend a ton of money on store bought ones when it is so easy to make them at home.

 

 Chocolate_covered_strawberries

 

Ingredients
  • 1 pound strawberries with stems (the bigger the better) washed and dried very well
  • 6 ounces GF semisweet chocolate
  • Parchment paper
Preparation

Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

  1. Rinse the strawberries and pat until completely dry.  Do not cut the stems off.
  2. Heat the chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl at 50 percent power for 1 minute.  Stir and heat at 50 percent power, stirring every 30 seconds, until the chocolate is melted and smooth.
  3. Holding the strawberry by the stem, dip the bottom half of each strawberry in the melted chocolate and coat.  
  4. Place strawberries on parchment paper until the chocolate sets.  
  5. Repeat with the remaining strawberries.
  6. Store in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

 

Cut Out Cookies

If you are willing to put in a little extra effort, these are really fun for kids. 

 gluten_free_valentine's_cookies.jpg

 

Ingredients
  • 1 ½ cups white rice flour
  • ½ cup brown rice flour
  • ½ cup potato starch
  • ¼ cup tapioca starch
  • 1 Tablespoon dry milk powder
  • 1 teaspoon xanthan gum
  • 2 sticks (16 Tablespoons) unsalted butter at room temperature (use Earth Balance for dairy free)
  • 1 cup fine bakers sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 large eggs at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest or lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Gluten Free Frosting:

  • 1 pound box of powdered sugar
  • ¼ cup milk (use almond milk for dairy free)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 stick butter (use Earth Balance for dairy free)
Preparation
  1. Whisk together the dry ingredients to form one consistent texture – white rice flour, brown rice flour, potato starch, tapioca starch, dry milk powder and xanthan gum. 
  2. In your electric mixer beat butter, sugar and salt until creamy.   About 5 minutes.
  3. Beat in egg yolks, lemon and vanilla.
  4. On slow speed, beat in the dry mixture one cup at a time until just combined.
  5. Divide dough into three equal parts, flatten into disc, wrap separately in wax paper and refrigerate until firm, overnight or at least one hour.
  6. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  7. Gluten free dough can be sticky and challenging to work with.  Over the course of making cookies the last eight years, I have learned a few tricks:
  • The dough really does need to be cold.  So don’t skip the refrigeration part.
  • If your house is hot, open a window or turn up the AC.  A warm room temperature will turn the dough into a sticky mess.
  • Generously flour the work surface and your rolling pin with cornstarch.  I love my Silicone Baking Mat with Measurements that I very generously coat with cornstarch.  For a roller, I use the Kitchenaid Gourmet Rolling Pin that is also generously coated with corn starch.

8.  Roll out one disk at a time to 1/8-inch thickness, leaving the other dough in the refrigerator until you are ready to use it. 
9.  Cut into desired shapes with cookie cutters.10.  With a metal spatula, transfer to a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.  If the dough seems particularly soft, pop the cookie sheet with the cookies on it in the refrigerator for another 30 minutes to set the dough again.
11.  Bake 10 – 12 minutes, until lightly golden.  Slide the parchment paper off the cookie sheet onto the kitchen counter and let cool.

To make the frosting: Combine all of the ingredients with your electric mixer until you reach the desired consistency. 


 

Flourless Chocolate Cake

Looking to make a romantic dinner for someone you love? This is another all time favorite dessert.  Even if you are going out to dinner, chances are the restaurant will not have a gluten free dessert as good as this one.  Skip the sorbet and bring your loved one home to this. 

 

 gluten_free_flourless_chocolate_cake

 

Ingredients
  • 8 large eggs, cold
  • 1 pound bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped coarse
  • 16 tablespoons (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 16 pieces (use Earth Balance for dairy free)
  • 1/4 cup strong coffee (optional)
  • Confectioners’ sugar for dusting the cake and strawberries for decoration
  • Strawberries for decoration
Preparation

1. Adjust the oven rack to the lower-middle position and preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line the bottom of a Non-Stick 8-Inch Springform Pan with parchment paper and grease the sides of the pan. Wrap the outside of the pan with 2 sheets of heavy-duty foil. Bring a kettle of water to a boil.

2. Beat the eggs in the bowl of a standing mixer at high speed for about 5 minutes or until the volume doubles to approximately 1 quart.

3. Heat the chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl at 50 percent power for 2 minutes.  Stir and add the butter and coffee.   Heat at 50 percent power, stirring every minute, until the chocolate and butter are melted and are smooth.

4.  Using a large rubber spatula, fold the egg foam into the chocolate mixture working in batches.  Fold a third of the egg foam into the chocolate mixture until only a few streaks of egg are visible.   Then fold in half of the remaining foam.  Then fold in the last of the foam, until the mixture is homogenous.

5. Set the prepared spring form pan inside the roasting pan.  Add the batter to the spring form pan and smooth the surface with a rubber spatula. Pour in enough boiling water to come about halfway up the sides of the spring form pan.  Set the roasting pan on the lower-middle position of the oven rack.   Bake 22 to 25 minutes, until the cake has risen slightly, the edges are just beginning to set and a thin glazed crust (like a brownie) has formed on the surface.  When finished, an instant-read thermometer inserted halfway into the center will read 140 degrees.  

6. Remove the cake pan from the water bath and cool to room temperature on a wire rack.  Cover and refrigerate overnight.

7. 30 minutes before serving, remove the sides of the pan; invert the cake onto a sheet of waxed paper and peel off the parchment paper.

Sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar and decorate with strawberries cut in quarters and lined around the outside of the cake.

Use a thin-bladed knife to cut, dipping the knife into a pitcher of hot water and wiping the blade before each cut.

Original Source of this Recipe is Baking Illustrated.


 

Chocolate Fondue with Pound Cake

Finally, my family celebrates with chocolate fondue with cut out strawberries, bananas and gluten free pound cake.  This is the one time of the year that I actually use my fondue pot.  This has been our tradition for about the last 15 years. 

 

Gluten Free Lemon Pound Cake

 

Ingredients

For the Chocolate Fondue

  • 12 ounces good quality semi-sweet chocolate 
  • 2/3 cup heavy cream
  • 2 Tablespoons pure vanilla extract

For the Pound Cake

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup butter, melted
  • 4 eggs
  • 4 teaspoons vanilla
  • 2 cups brown or white rice flour
  • 2/3 cups potato starch
  • 1/3 cup tapioca flour
  • 1 teaspoon xanthan gum 
  • 2 teaspoons GF baking powder
  • 1 cup milk
Preparation

For the Chocolate Fondue

  1. Combine the chocolate and heavy cream in a medium heavy saucepan over medium-low heat.
  2. Stirring constantly, cook for about two minutes, or until melted and smooth.
  3. Add the vanilla. 
  4. Transfer to the fondue pot to keep warm. 

Serve with sliced bananas, whole strawberries and pound cake cut into one inch squares.

For the Pound Cake

Heat oven to 350 degrees F.

  1. Combine sugar and melted butter in large bowl. Beat at medium speed, scraping bowl often, until creamy.
  2. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add vanilla; beat until well mixed.
  3. Whisk together the flours, xanthan gum and baking powder in small bowl. Mix well until the different flours essentially become one new flour. 
  4. Gradually add flour mixture, alternating with milk, to butter mixture, beating at low speed until well mixed.
  5. Pour batter into greased and floured 12-cup Bundt® pan.
  6. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
  7. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pan. 

No matter what you eat, serve or do, hoping you feel loved on this Valentine’s Day!

 


 

I was standing in my kitchen with one cup of ATK Gluten Free Flour Blend from the The How Can It Be Gluten Free Cookbook and wandering what to make.  I flipped through the cookbook (which I have turned to over and over again for great recipes) and the recipe for Almond Cake caught my attention. 

 

I love the flavor of almonds and had some raw almonds leftover from making party mix for the Super Bowl, so this recipe seemed perfect to use up my leftovers.  Gluten free food is expensive so I try not to waste anything.

 

My intentions were to whip up a treat by using some leftovers.   What I got was a new favorite cake.  It was so good that my Gluten Free College student requested that I make two of them and frost them together with cream cheese frosting for her birthday cake.

 

This cake is SO easy and so yummy!  Another one of those cakes that is so good you would never guess it is also gluten and dairy free.  My daughter thought it tasted like the Danish Kringles that we used to buy at Christmas.

 

 Almond Cake

 

I think this cake has Easter Sunday written all over it.  

 

Recipe for Gluten Free Almond Cake

 

 

Almond Cake

 

by:  America's Test Kitchen, The How Can It Be Gluten Free Cookbook

SERVES: 8 to 10

TIME: 1 hour and 15 minutes


Ingredients

 

  • 1 1/2 cups plus 1/3 cup blanched sliced almonds, toasted
  • 4 1/2 ounces (1 cup) ATK Gluten Free Flour Blend
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
  • 4 large eggs
  • 7 ounces (1 cup) plus 2 Tablespoons sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon plus ½ teaspoon grated lemon zest (2 lemons)
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 4 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted (use Earth Balance for dairy free)
  • 4 Tablespoons vegetable oil

 

Flour substitution:  You can substitute the ATK Gluten Free Flour blend with 4 ½ ounces (1/2 cup plus 1/3 cup) King Arthur Flour Multipurpose Flour, Gluten Free

NOTE:  I made my dairy free by using Earth Balance.  I also used whole raw almonds because that is what I had on hand.  I was also lazy and did not toast my almonds. 

 

Almond Cake

 

Preparation

 

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 300 degrees.  Grease and flour 9-inch round cake pan and line bottom with parchment paper.  Pulse 1 ½ cups almonds, GF flour blend, salt, baking powder, and baking soda in food processor until almonds are finely ground, 10 to 15 pulses: transfer to bowl.

 

Place eggs, 1 cup sugar, 1 Tablespoon zest and almond extract in now-empty food processor and process for 2 minutes.  With processor running, add melted butter, followed by oil, in steady stream, until incorporated.  Add almond-flour mixture and pulse until fully combined, 4 to 5 pulses. 

 

Scrape batter into prepared pan, smooth top, and sprinkle with remaining 1/3 cup almonds.  Using fingers, combine remaining 2 Tablespoons sugar and remaining ½ teaspoon lemon zest into bowl until fragrant, then sprinkle over top.

 

Bake until center of cake is set and toothpick inserted into center comes out clean, 55 to 65 minutes, rotating pan after 40 minutes.  Let cake cool in pan on wire rack for 15 minutes.  Run knife around edge of cake to loosen.  Remove cake from pan, discard parchment, and let cool completely on rack, about 1½ hours.  Serve.

 

PRINT RECIPE 

Almond Cake

 

 

Hope you enjoy this recipe as much as we did!  I will be sure and post some photos of the birthday cake version once I make it.  My daughter's birthday is February 28th! Yes, she is a leap day baby.

 


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