Review of Brazi Bites

October 07, 2013

Brazi Bites come to you as a local story with a touch of international flair (I consider Portland close enough to be local).  Junea and her husband Cameron formed Brazi Bites after she moved to Portland from Brazil.  Longing for a touch of home, Junea started playing around with her mother’s recipe for cheese bread.  It took a couple years of experimenting, trying countless cheeses, hoping to re-create “the perfect cheese bread.”  Then one day in the spring of 2010 they succeeded when the most delicious and perfectly shaped cheese bread came out of the oven – it was so good they devoured the whole tray within minutes.  And so Brazi Bites was born! 

 

So what are they?  Ready made little balls of gluten free goodness! 

 

 

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Ready Made:  They go straight from the bag - to the cookie sheet - to the oven - and are ready in 20 minutes.

 

Little Balls:  They are about half the size of a standard roll.  Perfect for popping in your mouth.

 

Gluten Free Goodness:  Naturally gluten-free and made in a dedicated GF facility.

 

Brazi Bites come in three different flavors: Original, Fire-Roasted Jalapeño, and All-Natural Bacon. 

 

My family loves them.  The first time we ate them with Chicken Tortilla Soup while we were watching the Seattle Seahawks!  Another time we used them to soak up some pasta sauce

 

I think these ready made little balls of gluten free goodness have the perfect holiday accompaniment written all over them.  Looking ahead, I am picturing them on the spread of appetizers at our annual New Year’s Eve party, or alongside our breakfast casserole on Christmas morning. 

 

Where to Buy

 

You can find Brazi Bites in the freezer section of grocery stores throughout the West Coast.  Check HERE to see if they are in your state yet. 

 

You can also order them online

 

Your chance to sample Brazi Bites!

 

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I am excited to share the opportunity to sample Brazi Bites with you!

One person will win a package that includes one of each flavor of the Brazi Bites Cheese Bread including one Fire Roasted Jalapenos, one Original and one Bacon flavored.   

This giveaway is open to:

  • Residents in the contiguous United States.
  • The giveaway begins now and ends on Monday, Oct 14th at 12:00 pm Pacific Time.
  • One winner. 

No purchase is necessary.  Odds of winning are based on the number of entries.  Rafflecopter will randomly choose the winners.  The winner will have 24 hours to respond.  If the winner does not respond, a new winner will be randomly chosen.

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

Thank you to Brazi Bites for providing us with samples to try and for the product for the giveaway. 

 


Gluten Free Pumpkin Muffins

October 04, 2013

Alex will be leaving for college next year.  I am a little sentimental because this is the last year that we will have all three kids in the house.  I am not sure where all of the time has gone, as it seems like not that long ago we were going to pumpkin patches and now we are filing out college applications and taking ACT test.

The food we eat is a huge part of our traditions, including these pumpkin muffins. Maybe I will just UPS a box of them to her at college next year.   

 

Recipe for Gluten Free Pumpkin Muffins
 

These muffins are more like a hearty breakfast bread than a cake-like dessert muffin.

 

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YIELDS: 24 mini-muffins


Ingredients

 

  • 1 ¾  cup Gluten Free Flour
  • ¼ cup GF coconut flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons xanthan gum
  • 1 teaspoon GF baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/8  teaspoon nutmeg
  • pinch of ground ginger 
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup butter (use Earth Balance for dairy free)
  • 1 1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1/3 cup milk  (use almond, soy or coconut milk for dairy free)
  • ½ cup chopped nuts or raisins (optional)

 

Preparation

 

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and generously grease 24 mini-muffin cups or 12 regular sized muffin tins.  I prefer making min-muffins.  Perfect bite-sized muffins that are also great for sharing.  I use Baker's Secret 116424001 Basics Nonstick 24-Cup Mini Muffin Pan.


In a large bowl, whisk together the Gluten Free Flour, Coconut Flour, baking soda, xanthan gum, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and salt until it becomes one uniform consistency.

 

If you do not have coconut flour, you can replace it with more Gluten Free Flour.  I like the coconut flour because it increases the fiber content of the muffins, which makes the kids feel fuller after eating them.  It makes the muffins seem more like hearty breakfast bread than a cake-like dessert muffin. 

 

 

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In a separate bowl using an electric mixer cream the butter until white. 


Add the sugar and beat until fluffy, about 5 minutes.


Add the eggs, one at a time.


Stir in the pumpkin puree.

 

 

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Stir in the dry ingredients in two parts, alternating with the milk.

 

 

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Add optional chopped nuts or raisins.

 


Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin cups.  Give the muffin tin a good tap or two on the counter to settle the mix. 

 

 

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Bake at 350 degrees F for 15 -18 minutes.


Let cool and drizzle with Cream Cheese Frosting.

 

Printable Version

 

Wouldn't these be perfect for a Halloween Treat?

 

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I will be trying this recipe this weekend!

And don’t forget to enter the drawing for Gift Certificates to Chef Howie’s signature restaurants.  This wonderful dish is currently being served at both Seastar locations. 

 

Chef Howie's recipe for Zucchini Linguine



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SERVES: 4

TIME: 1 hour

by:  Chef John Howie, Seastar Restaurant and Raw Bar


Ingredients

 

  • 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil, Extra Virgin
  • 3 Tablespoons shallots – fresh, minced very fine
  • 2 Tablespoons Garlic – shaved slices
  • 1/2 teaspoon Crushed Red Chili Flakes
  • 2 cups Roma Tomato -  diced to ½” 
  • 1/2 Tablespoon Pink Sea Salt
  • 1 Tablespoon + 3 Tablespoons GF Vegetable Stock
  • 1 cup Artichoke Hearts – sliced into ¼” wedges
  • 1/2 cup Calamata Olives – pitted, quartered
  • 2 lbs (4 cups) Zucchini – sliced ¼” x ¼” x 5 - 6" long 
  • 6 Tablespoons Basil – fresh, julienne to 1/16”
  • 4 Tablespoons roasted Pine nuts

 

Preparation

 

  1. Heat the olive oil over medium heat; add the shallots, shaved garlic and crushed red chili flakes.
  2. Sauté for 2-3 minutes with light browning.
  3. Add Roma tomatoes, salt, and vegetable stock, cook until tomatoes are tender and the sauce thickens a bit.
  4. Add artichokes and olives and warm through.
  5. Add zucchini and cook until warmed through but do not overcook.
  6. Remove from heat and toss in basil.
  7. Mound high evenly in pasta bowls and sprinkle with pine nuts.

 

Printable Version

 

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This recipe is a family favorite – it shows up on our kitchen table about once a month and everyone loves it.  Can’t have dairy?  No problem.  Keep reading and I will tell you how I have adapted it to be not only gluten free, but also vegetarian and dairy free.

Ingredients
  • 1 box Tinkyada gluten free lasagna noodles
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 1/2 pound GF sausage
  • 2 cups kale, de-stemmed and chopped (optional)
  • 1 28 ounce can crushed tomatoes in tomato puree
  • 1 6 ounce can tomato paste
  • 1 Tablespoon dried parsley
  • 1 Tablespoon basil leaves
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • ¾ teaspoon pepper
  • 15 ounces ricotta cheese (use dairy free "cheese" option for dairy free)
  • 4 1/2 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded (use vegan cheese shreds for dairy free)
  • 1 cup parmesan cheese, grated (use vegan cheese shreds for dairy free)
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
Preparation

To make the lasagna, start with Tinkyada Brown Rice Pasta, Lasagne, 10-Ounce .

You can find it at some local grocery stores (my local Top now carries it) or order online from Amazon.com

 

Fill a large bowl with the hottest tap water.  I like to use my soup pot.  Add the noodles and allow them to sit in the water for 20 minutes.

 

 

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Drain.  Rinse with cold water and sprinkle with some olive oil to keep them from sticking. They will look something like this.

 

 

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Don't worry about the extra layer of starch that forms on the outside after they have soaked.  It goes away when you cook them.  Set aside. 

While the noodles are soaking, heat the olive oil in a large skillet.  Add the onion and cook for 5 minutes over medium-low heat.  Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute.

Add the GF sausage and cook until it is no longer pink (8 to 10 minutes).  Use whatever kind of GF sausage you like.  Beeler’s Italian pork sausage works well as a crumbled sausage. Beeler's raises its pigs without antibiotics or growth hormones.  Additionally, the company does not make “anything that isn't gluten-free. There is nothing with gluten produced anywhere near our products." 

My family’s favorite is Hempler’s Kielbasa Smoked Sausage – it has a wonderful taste and the entire line of Hempler products is free of gluten and MSG.  With this sausage, I can slice it up and keep the sausage on one-half of the lasagna, so one-half of the lasagna is for the carnivores and one-half for the vegetarians.  Find out more about GF Sausages

If you are going to use the Kale, add it about 5 minutes into cooking the sausage.  I usually omit this because even though you really cannot taste it, when I add it my kids will pick all of the kale out with their forks before they eat the lasagna. 

Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, parsley, basil, 1 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper.  Simmer uncovered over medium low heat for 15 to 20 minutes.  This is when it really starts to smell good!

Busy Mom’s take note – nothing tastes as good as a homemade tomato sauce and it is very easy.  But if you are in a hurry and want to cut out a step, you can replace this step with a 24 ounce jar of GF spaghetti sauce. 

While everything is simmering, preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

In a medium bowl, combine the ricotta, 4 cups shredded Mozzarella cheese, 1 cup Parmesan cheese, egg, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.

 

 

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Ladle 1/3 of the tomato sauce into a 9 x 12 inch rectangular baking dish, spreading the sauce over the bottom of the dish. 

 

 

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Next add the layers as follows:

  • Half the pasta (if it is sticking add some olive oil to loosen)
  • Half the cheese mixture,
  • One third the sauce,
  • Rest of the pasta,
  • Rest of the cheese mixture
  • Rest of the sauce. 

 

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Sprinkle with ½ cup Mozzarella cheese. 

 

 

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Bake for 45 minutes at 375 degrees F, until the sauce is bubbling.

 

 

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Modifying for Dairy Free

This recipe can be easily modified to make it dairy free.   I am the only one in my family who cannot eat dairy but this lasagna was simply too yummy looking for me to pass up.  Whenever I make it, I make a 9 x 9 version that uses the recipe above and I make a 9 x 4 version that is dairy free for myself.

To make it dairy free, simply replace the ricotta cheese with this dairy free "cheese" option and the Mozzarella and Parmesan cheese with a vegan cheese shred such as Go Veggie Mozzarella Shreds.

Here are the two lasagnas side by side. 

 

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The one on the left is the dairy free version. 

 

Finally, here is what the family thought of the lasagna.

 

 

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Printable Version

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The New Gluten Free Mom Website

September 24, 2013

 Pop the Champagne!  Today we are launching the new and improved Gluten Free Mom website!


Diagnosed with Celiac Disease

September 12, 2013

September 13 is National Celiac Disease Awareness day, in honor of Dr. Samuel Gee, the physician who recognized in 1888 that celiac disease was related to diet.

 

I call myself the Gluten Free Mom and the information that I provide is valuable to anyone who is on a gluten free diet for whatever reasons.  But for us, we are Gluten Free because my oldest daughter was diagnosed with Celiac Disease eight years ago. 

 

For those of you who do not know, Celiac Disease is an autoimmune disorder that is triggered by gluten.  Undiagnosed, it can have life threatening complications. 

 

Although there have been great advances in the last several years, more still needs to be done.  Up to 90% of those with Celiac Disease still do not know that they have it! 

 

In addition to a lack of awareness, one of the reasons that Celiac Disease is hard to diagnose is because it can present with up to 300 different symptoms.  And some people do not have any symptoms at all.

 

In light of this day, I thought I would share our story of how we were diagnosed with Celiac Disease. 

 

Summer 2005

The Diagnosis

No one ever forgets the day you find out your child has a genetic, life-long, life changing autoimmune disorder. 

Alex, now a healthy, beautiful, vibrant 17 year old, was once a non-thriving, somewhat depressed, shy and often sick child.  We really are not sure when it all started.  She entered the world on Leap Day as a bubbly almost ten pound baby with hair you could almost braid.  Looking back now, there seem to be several instances that were somewhat unusual; she was a colicky baby; the projectile vomiting in the ER in Iowa one Thanksgiving; the pot belly stomach; the not too infrequent "blahness" when other children were running, laughing, exploring and having fun.  Whenever the subtle signs started, by the time Alex reached third grade her illness became more serious. 

She was so addicted to Pepto Bismal that she would drink it like it was chocolate milk.  The doctors attributed it to school-related stress.  Sometimes the stomachaches were so bad she could not play in the games with her basketball team – these pains were attributed to nerves.  She was frequently constipated – the doctor said she needed to pull her underwear all the way to her ankles when she went to the bathroom.    

And then the flu-like symptoms began.  At the beginning of third grade, every two months she would get what seemed like the flu and vomit for four to five days.  We took her to the doctor who would run your standard blood tests.  They would all come back normal, not even anemic.   The doctors answered our questions with "it is just the flu; it has been a bad season."  The almost ten pound baby was now so thin and dehydrated you could count her ribs and she had to have IV's to be rehydrated.

Finally, when she had the "flu" for five days in June, it was time to go to the doctor and not leave until we had some kind of an answer.  They did stomach x-rays and ran additional blood tests.  As an afterthought, as he was walking out the door, the doctor threw in a test for "celiac" - a word we would soon get to know very well. 

We left to go on a summer trip but all I could do was pray for an easy answer.  Not wanting anything serious.  The first round of test from the blood work came back normal again, but I still had a nagging feeling that not all was well. 

Then the call that answered the nagging feeling - one of the tests, something called celiac was positive.  Silly what?  How do you spell it?  Autoimmune? Gluten what? 

Thanks largely to the Internet; all of our questions were soon answered.  Even while we waited through more tests that summer, more blood draws to test for absorption, the endoscopy at Children's Hospital . . . I did not want to believe it but deep down I knew that Alex had celiac disease.   And finally we received the news (on the day that Alex also fell and broke her arm).  The endoscopy was conclusive for celiac disease. 

As a parent, my prayer every night was for my children to be healthy and happy.  So how could it be that my daughter had a genetic, life long, life-changing disorder?  Why did she have to live a life that would now be "different" and more difficult?

Yes, what parent would not be relieved to know why their child had been sick?  Even better yet, the illness was completely treatable by something as natural as a change in diet; but oh, what a change.  

It sounded simple enough; just eliminate gluten from your diet.  While no longer eating wheat flour was challenging enough for an elementary-aged child, determining what we could eat in this gluten-laden world was a monstrous task.  Especially back in 2005 before Gluten Free became a household name.  Our transition to the gluten free life was before you could find gluten free pizza crust and even gluten free bread.   Eating out at restaurants was soon to become a rarity for our family.  It initially took hours of research to determine just what we could put on our plates for dinner.  So much more than a diet change, going gluten free was a lifestyle change! 

 Mom_alex

Even though I ached inside for a pizza delivery van on Friday night, I made the commitment to be as positive as possible on the outside so that Alex could accept her new diet and life style.  A new diet and lifestyle she would have to life with forever. 

I started this blog to help those on the Gluten Free diet and to help spread Awareness of Celiac Disease. 

Help to spread Awareness by sharing your story in the comments below or on my Facebook page.   Maybe someone will hear your story and realize they should get tested!

 

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If you are young, hip and gluten free in Seattle then you need to stop in at Capitol Cider.Actually, my husband says that even if you are not young and hip, you still need to check it out.  We did!  We went there Wednesday night for a tasting of Square Mile Cider.  I am a new fan of the pub and of naturally GF cider!

 

The Restaurant

First about the pub style restaurant – open for only a few weeks it was packed last night (a Wednesday night) with a young 20 to 30 something crowd.  A former art gallery, the space is now a 4,000 square-foot cider bar in the Capitol Hill neighborhood of Seattle.   It features 30 ciders on tap, another 100 bottled ciders and gluten free food.  They also serve a variety of beers and wines.

 

The atmosphere was less of a pub and more of a cool urban dining and drinking spot. 

 The first floor is the main dining area – bistro style tables and wood booths, dark painted walls adorned with original Masterpiece replicas painted by the atelier students at Gage Academy of Art.  We ate dinner at a window table. 

 

They don’t shout that they are gluten free, but the entire kitchen is 100% GF!  Everything on the menu is made in-house.  In other words, everything on the menu is safe for anyone who is gluten free and there is no chance of cross-contamination.  I had the Pub salad – the salad was enough of a meal to leave me feeling full with a nice bed of lettuce topped with crusty prosciutto and a generous serving of white chicken.   

 As anyone who is celiac knows, truly GF French fries are hard to come by since most are contaminated when fried in the same oil as say wheat-breaded chicken nuggets.  After confirming the fries are truly GF, I had to order a side of them to go with my salad.

 They were tasty -  real potatoes (not some overly processed potato-like substance) with peppery flavor.

 My husband had the Fish n Chips that came out looking pretty crispy. 

After tasting them, he discovered they were cooked to perfection – it is just the GF batter they are using that makes them look . . . well burned.  His meal also looked a little skimpy for the price, compared to our American standards; it was two pieces of fish with a bucket of fries. I think the appearance of skimpiness was as much due to how it was served, as it was to the amount of food.  On a plate it might of looked like a full meal, but two crispy pieces of fish on the wood plank with the bucket of fries next to it looked more like an appetizer than a dinner.   A side of salad would have made it more of meal.  In fact, I ended up letting him finish off my salad.   However, my husband was more than satisfied.

 

The Cider

 

We went down to the basement for the cider tasting.  The basement is definitely the party area with a long wood bar and an impressive row of taps featuring a huge selection of cider.  They call this area the Ballast Bar and Gameroom as it is adorned with two shuffleboard tables, a stage with a piano, a fireplace and plenty of big tables for large groups to gather.

 

I am not a connoisseur of cider – I like a bold red wine with my meals.  In the summer when it is hot out, I do enjoy white wine and will settle for a Pinot Grigio as long as it is not very sweet and pretty dry.  As such, I was not sure I would like the cider.   For those of you new to cider, it is made from apples that are harvested and fermented in the fall, aged over the winter and then the beverage is released in the spring. I was surprised by how much I like the Square Mile Cider.

We sampled Spur & Vine and The Original.   The cider is sweet but not like some white wines where you grow tired of the sweetness after a few sips.  It has more of a texture of light beer than wine, so I found it quiet refreshing.   I am so used to drinking wine that I enjoyed the ease with which the cider slid down my throat – a very welcome relief from all of the tannins in wine.  At 6.7% alcohol the cider sits nicely between wine and beer with less alcohol than most wines but less than beer.  It would be the perfect drink for a summer evening. 

 

My favorite was the Spur & Vine Square Mile Cider - this cider starts with the same apples as The Original but they add Galaxy hops to it during the cold conditioning.  The result for me was a light bubbly drink with a slightly citrus flavor, but not too sweet.  

 

We also had a few sips of Anthem Pear and Reserve Nat’s Newtown Pippin.  Anthem Pear was my second favorite – more sweet than Square Mile, not sure I could drink more than a glass of this one.  But again I enjoyed that it was light and fruity and somewhat bubbly.   Reserve Nat’s was very dry – a bit too dry and bitter for me. 

 

Did I mention that the Pub was packed!  At 7:30 pm we snagged the last two stools at the bar, by 8:30 pm it was standing room only – and everyone was drinking cider.  The bar tender said cider sales have increased by 50% in the last few years as cider is the new hip drink among the younger crowd.  That was pretty obvious, as my husband and I had a good ten years on the fellow samplers. 

 

Want to find more of our Favorite Places to Dine out Gluten Free in Seattle?

 

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