GF Pie Crust Sent From Angels

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Really.  It’s that good.

I used the recipe from Karen Morgan’s “Blackbird Bakery Gluten-Free” cookbook.  Quite honestly, I got this book just so I could drool over the pictures and imagine baking GF treats that beautiful one day.  They are absolutely gorgeous.  Some of the ingredients are a little difficult to find (especially here in my corner of Kansas), but after a grocery shopping trip in a nearby city I knew I had to finally make something.

((Side Note: You know you have celiac disease or gluten intolerance when you travel to big cities and get excited over how big their “natural food” stores are – and all of the major food shopping you’re able to do.))

Now, I halved the recipe when I made it, but I’ll give you the proportions straight from Karen.

Sweet Pate Brisee


3/4 c plus 2 TBLS tapioca flour

3/4 c cornstarch

1/4 c plus 2 TBLS glutinous rice flour, plus more for dusting ((confession: I don’t know what this is, nor did I have any on hand, so I used regular white rice flour))

1/4 c sorghum flour

2 TBLS granulated sugar

1/4 tsp kosher salt

1 1/2 tsp guar gum

1 c (2 sticks) cold, unsalted butter, diced ((confession again: my butter was in fact salted, room temp, AND it was not diced. My inner rebel coming out.))

3 large eggs.

Mixing Time

((Now, the directions for mixing the crust are different from any I’ve ever seen or used.  Normally you cut the butter/fat with a pastry knife.  This one uses a stand mixer.  My dough turned out too thin and sticky so I added a little extra tapioca flour.  I think I’ll try it the good old-fashioned way next time.))


Combine all of the dry ingredients in a stand mixer with the paddle attachment.  Mix together on low-speed.
Add butter, mix until it looks like “course crumbs.”
Add eggs and beat on high until the dough begins folding.  ((Mine didn’t do this until I added a little more flour))
Split in half, form each half into discs, wrap in plastic wrap, and chill in the refrigerator for 2 hrs (or up to two days, Karen added).

——–

Okay, my chilled dough turned into a ROCK after about an hour.  She says to take it out of the fridge 15 minutes before rolling out.  Mine probably would’ve

been fine chilling for 15 minutes.  That is your basic pie crust recipe!  I made my own blueberry filling and turned my dough into mini-pies!  Unfortunately I don’t have mini pie pans, so… these were a bit ugly and illformed.  But they tasted “bomb diggity.”  I brushed the tops of the pies with a little soy milk and liberally sprinkled with sugar.

The crust is PERFECT and flakey.  Thank you, Jesus!  Served with some vanilla ice cream, pie warm and fresh out of the oven. Eye-rolling, swoon-worthy bliss.

Rach

About Celiac Disease

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Celiac Disease

Celiac disease, is a genetic autoimmune disease that affects 1 in 133 (approx.) Americans; though roughly 1 percent know they have it.  Due to the stereotype behind the disease and its vast symptoms, many doctors treat the symptoms of Celiac, versus diagnosing and treating the actual disease.  Though I should add, in recent yearsmany doctors have been more openminded when testing for Celiac (kudos to those doctors!!).  When a person with CD eats something containing gluten (a protein found in wheat, barley, rye and most oats that have been contaminated), their bodies react to the gluten as an invader.  As a result of these “invaders”, villous atrophy occurs.
Villi are small finger-like hairs that line your small intestine.  Through the villi, your body absorbs nutrients from your food.  Villous atrophy, is when the villi have basically been rubbed down, or flattened, leaving you with poor absorption of nutrients.  Obviously, the longer you have CD (undiagnosed or untreated) the more damage will be done to your intestine.  For this reason, people with Celiac are malnourished – some more severe than others.
Symptoms of Celiac are wide-ranged, but can include:
Chronic constipation/diarrhea
Extreme abdominal cramps
Bloating
Fatigue or general weakness
Infertility/Miscarriages/Irregular menstrual cycles
Failure to thrive (especially in kids)
Panic attacks
Peripheral Neuropathy (nerve damage)
Stunted growth in children
Vertigo
Weight loss
Obesity
Anemia
Pain in joints
Pale sores inside the mouth
Osteopenia or Osteoporosis
Tingling/Numbness in the legs
Psychiatric disorders (i.e. Depression, anxiety)
A specific rash called Dermatitis Herpetiformis
These are just to name a few.  Some people are asymptomatic – meaning they don’t have any symptoms but they’re diagnosed because a family member had celiac and encouraged other family members to get tested.
Undiagnosed, untreated, or refractory Celiac disease can increase your odds at many severe diseases.
15% more like to get Lymphoma and Leukemia
15% more like to get gastrointestinal carcinoma
Your chances of developing gastrointestinal cancer (i.e. colon cancer) are increased by 40 to 100 times .
Once you have one autoimmune disease, you are more susceptible to others (i.e. type 1 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, hyper/hypo-thyroidism)
For these reasons, it is very important that Celiac is treated responsibly by the patient and also by those in close proximity to the patient.
Speaking personally, this is not something that I treat lightly.  I have been asked why I don’t continue to eat gluten “in moderation”, surely it can’t be that dangerous to your health, right?  Wrong.  Accidentally eating gluten results (for me) first, in a horrible migraine, swiftly followed by stomach pains that last for hours, with lingering issues lasting for days.  Therefore, when people ask why I won’t “cheat a little”, that is my answer.  The horrendous pain inflicted after the smallest crumb of gluten is simply not worth it.  A person with Celiac can react to 1/8th teaspoon of gluten, as small as a cracker crumb.  I find it particularly rude and insensitive when people treat CD like it is nothing, and flippantly tell you you are “overreacting”.  Spend the day with me after I’ve been gluten’d… you might just change your opinion of CD… not pretty.
Determining if a food contains gluten is the easy part, it is the minuscule traces of gluten that happen from cross-contamination in cooking preparation (for instance) that is the hardest to deal with – but, I will save that topic for a different blog.If you are concerned that you may have Celiac disease I urge you to see your doctor.  There are a few ways to determine if you have CD.
1. Blood panel – This is how CD was confirmed in my case.  Through a special test, it is determined if you have   raised antibody levels in your blood.  Simplistically speaking, if your level is raised – you have Celiac.  To take this test you must be eating gluten at the time of the test.  Don’t stop eating gluten before you take this test.  Your body will begin to heal, and the antibodies will not show in your blood.
2.  Endoscopy of the small intestine – this method is a bit more unreliable than the blood test.  Your doctor will take 3-5 samples of your small intestine through a tube that is sent down your throat.  Once they have the samples they will examine to see if villous atrophy has occurred.  It is easier to get a false negative with the endoscopy vs. the blood panel – as the doctor may inadvertently biopsy healthy tissue, missing the damaged villi and giving you a healthy diagnosis.
3.  Genetic testing – this test will tell you if you have the gene leaving you susceptible to developing CD.Be prepared when meeting with your doctor.  If you are like me, as soon as I’m in the Dr.’s office, I forget everything I wanted to talk about.  I made up notecards with all of my symptoms, in detailed order, so I could easily communicate with my doctor.  I also wrote down any questions or concerns I had.  You only have a small amount of time with your Dr., so make the most of the opportunity by being prepared.  If you are taking any medications, bring them with you.  Taking the time to organize everything you want to discuss will be very valuable to you in the Dr.’s office.

I hope this clears up some of your basic questions regarding the medical side of Celiac Disease.  For more information, please use the following links.
http://www.celiac.com - this one has a great forum to get information from others.
http://www.celiacdisease.net - this is from the University of Chicago Center for Celiac Disease.
http://digestive.niddk.nih.gov/ddiseases/pubs/celiac/ - this one has very easy to understand information – it is laid out very conveniently.
Rachel

Gluten Free/Dairy Free Cinnamon Balls

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The idea for these mini-treats came to me from Pinterest (of course).  But, they weren’t dairy or gluten free.  So after altering half the ingredients and adding some of my own, here is the end result.  They remind me of the little cinnamon rolls Burger King make (or used to make — do they still have Cinny-Mini’s?).

The great part is – they’re SUPER easy!  With minimal cleanup.  AND the pièce de résistance, it is significantly “less bad” for you than your standard cinnamon roll.   I don’t want to say they are more healthful, because I’m not sure if a tasty pastry could be labeled “good” for you.  I think those kind of things only exist in my dreams.

Dry Ingredients:

  • 1 cup brown rice flour
  • 1/2 cup of oatmeal
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp xanthan gum
  • pinch of sea salt
  • dash of nutmeg
Set aside:
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 TBLS raw sugar

Wet Ingredients:

  • 4 TBLS dairy free butter replacement (I used Earth Balance) or shortening
  • 1/4 c cup light vanilla soy milk
  • 1 1/2 TBLS egg whites (I list the measurement in TBLS because I use egg whites in a carton. To convert this, use the whites of 1 egg.)
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 1/2 TBLS agave nectar

Preheat oven to 425.


In a medium mixing bowl whisk together dry ingredients.  Using a pastry knife, cut in the DF butter or shortening until the flour turns into corse crumbs.  If you don’t have a pastry knife you can use a fork.  Pastry knives make it easier, though.  In a separate bowl combine all of the wet ingredients, then pour over the crumb mixture.  Stir with spoon or rubber spatula until thoroughly combined.   Mix the cinnamon and sugar together and pour over the batter.  Gently fold into the batter, being careful not to over-mix.  It should just be swirled into the dough.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  This batter made 16 cinnamon balls for me.  I used a cookie scooper, approx. 1/8 cup.  Obviously you can make them as big or small as you’d like.  You can even “smoosh” the dough if you want the end result to be a little flatter, otherwise they will stay in the ball shape.  No natural spreading for these babies. :)

Now, here’s the tricky part. As I put these in the oven today the tornado sirens in my town started going off.  Considering the insane number of tornadoes Kansas has had recently, my mind went from baking to storm-mode.  I already have a hard time staying focused on one thing at a time (not to mention my horrible short-term memory, kudos to celiac) so this distraction wasn’t ideal.  Approximately 8-10 minutes later I remembered what I was previously doing and frantically pushed my dogs out of my way yelling, “Crap, crap, crap!”  Thankfully they turned out alright.

So my advice is to bake for 8-10 minutes or until the tops turn golden.

I had leftover “cream-cheese” frosting from making my carrot cake awhile back and used it as a delicious bath of sugar to dunk my cinnamon bites in. (You can find the recipe for the frosting HERE )

This recipe isn’t perfect yet.  I’ll probably experiment with it some more.  But this is a pretty good start.

I hope you’ll enjoy them as much as I am.  They’re the perfect match for my cup of green tea!

Rachel

“Submerged” by Dani Pettrey

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 Blurb from Dani Pettrey’s website:

A sabotaged flight. Two murdered divers. A single clue—a grainy image of sunken treasure.

Dive Rescue Captain Cole McKenna has never worked a case like this, but who he’s working with may prove more dangerous than the assignment. It’s been a lifetime since Bailey mangled his heart. Now she’s back in town and he needs her expertise to track down the illusive treasure.

Professor of Russian Studies Bailey Craig vowed never to set foot in Yancey again, but when her beloved aunt dies, she has no choice. Her plan of attack is simple: return for Agnes’s funeral, get the family business ready for a quick sale, and then put Yancey and all the heartbreaking memories wrapped up in it behind her for good.

Cole walking through her door, asking for her help on a murder investigation, wasn’t part of her plan, neither are the feelings he’s resurrecting—feelings best left dead.

Bailey agrees to help for the sake of the victims, and travels with Cole across Alaska’s rugged terrain and deep beneath is coastal waters. As the case escalates, so do their feelings for one another. Unfortunately, not everyone is willing to let go of the past and just when Bailey thinks she can’t take it any longer, the case shifts in a new and extremely personal direction, fastening her in for its duration.

Racing against the clock and a rising body count, Cole and Bailey fight to find the treasure and uncover the hidden history at the root of it all. But will they be too late?

 ————————————————-

I really, really enjoyed reading Submerged by Dani Pettrey. In fact, I stayed up until 7 in the morning just to finish it!

The 2 lead characters, Bailey and Cole, were both fantastic. Bailey is raw, broken, and desperately trying to rebuild her life, leaving behind the wild, promiscuous girl she once was. Her character (actually, all of the characters) were so well written it was easy to get “attached” to them. Cole was absolutely fantastic and had me grinning like silly most of the time. This may sound weird, but I liked how he dressed. Ha! I’ve never read a book where the characters wore sweatpants and t-shirts like many of the characters in this book did — I LOVED it! I suppose it is because it made the characters that much more relatable and realistic to me.

The scenery was beautifully written. I found myself wanting to go to Alaska for a dive!
The whole McKenna family was fabulous and, I have to say, I really, really hope we get to read Piper (Cole’s sister) and Landon’s story soon. I may have let out a few “awws” when reading all of their interactions (while the book is read mostly through Bailey and Cole’s perspectives, once in awhile you hear from Piper, Landon, and the antagonist). Really, I was desperately wanting to read more about those two when the book was over.

On another note, before I had even read the book summary, the cover totally drew me in.  It’s fabulous, don’t you think?  One of the best book covers I’ve seen this year, for sure.

All-in-all, an excellent first novel from Dani Pettrey! I love finding new authors to add to my “watch” shelf, and Dani is definitely on it now. I can’t wait to read the next installment in the Alaskan Courage series!

BTW – I really enjoyed looking at the “character dossiers” for Cole and Bailey on Dani Pettrey’s website. Check it out!

http://www.danipettrey.com/fun/

::Update:: ‘Shattered’ book 2 in the Alaskan Courage series is set to release in February and it is Piper’s story.

Tips Every Beginning Gluten Free’er Should Know

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I like to play with my food. The fries are Ore Ida: Extra Crispy Fast Food Fries. An awesome GF substitute for McDonalds!

Every once in awhile people ask me the “need to knows” about living gluten free.  On the surface it may seem simple and straightforward: Do not consume anything that contains gluten.  Unfortunately, like most things that appear simple, being a committed “gluten free’er” requires a lot of attention to detail and knowledge about what you are coming in contact with at all times!  So, after brainstorming a few nights ago, here is a list of things every gluten free’er should know.  Keep in mind, this isn’t everything!  Just what I thought of at the moment.  So to all of my fellow GF’er’s who’ve been at this for awhile, please comment with your own expert advice, horror glutening stories, etc…  I know we would all love to hear!

  • Carry your own GF snack with you!  If you get hungry on the go, having a snack on your person, at all times, will help in overcoming the “ohmygoshimsohungry” or the “holycowthatpizzasmellslikeitwasdirectlysentfromheaven” stages that you are sure to experience.  Bring baggies of nuts, GF bars, some fruit…whatever you feel like!  If your working space has a desk, store a variety of things to satisfy every craving – sweet, salty, savory, or my personal favorite, chocolatey.
  • Stay away from gluten free bread substitutes for a month or two after starting your GF diet.  This advice was given to me when I first learned I had celiac disease and I am SO grateful for it.  Admittedly, GF breads (in spite the excellent baker) sometimes lack in flavor and texture.  They taste like cardboard, they’re crumbly and choke you on thick, course crumbs that will NOT move completely down your throat.  If you immediately switch to GF breads, you’re going to hate what you eat and get discouraged, never wanting to give ‘em a second chance.  Give yourself a few months of eating veggies, fruits, some lean meats/fish.  Not only will this give your palette a chance to “forget” the taste of wheat, it will also give your poor digestive system a break (depending on what you’re still eating)!  Your digestive system has been through the ringer.  It takes time to heal, so eat foods that will support that healing, not add more stress. Note: My favorite GF bread brand is Udi’s.  They’re really growing their product line, too.  Thanks to them, I can now find hot dog/hamburger buns, bagels, etc… in my local grocery store. Score! And added bonus: It tastes good, too!
  • Once you do start eating GF bread, buy your own toaster.  Yes, even the crumbs leftover in a toaster can trigger a glutening.  And trust me, you don’t want that to happen!
  • Label your food!  I have a mixed kitchen.  My family eats gluten containing foods, whereas I obviously cannot.  I stick labels on all of my foods and threaten death to anyone who goes near them.  My family complains that I’ve become stingier since I became gluten free, but really, they can eat EVERYTHING ELSE!  I don’t think I was being unreasonable when I accidentally poked my dad’s hand with a knife when he tried to eat one of my favorite olives…  It was MINE.  And to be fair, I warned him.
  • Keep your kitchen and eating areas clean!  Since I have a mixed kitchen I always worry about crumbs etc. making their way into my food.  Most of my family is really good about this, but whenever my dad is near I’m ALWAYS reminding him to use a plate and not let his crumbs fly all over the place.
  • Use your own butter, jams, peanut butter.  I guard these things with my life.  There will be NO crumby knives dipped into them!
  • Use separate utensils.  If I’m sharing a meal with my family and there are both GF and gluteny dishes available, make SURE your companions don’t use the spoon you scoop the GF mashed potatoes with to dish up the wheat filled gravy.  Cross contamination is one of the WORST things about eating GF.  It’s not as simple as merely avoiding the obvious glutenous foods.  It is about making sure that nowhere along the line your food came in contact with anything that touched gluten.
  • Avoid fast food restaurants like the plague!  They’re a breeding ground for cross contamination.  Fries in and of themselves are gluten free, however the grease they’re fried in usually isn’t.  Even if it is, when I think about all of the hands my food has been through by the time it gets to me, I’m very wary.  It’s not their job to know everything about celiac and being GF, it’s mine.  So I won’t eat there. I did eat fast food once last year when my family road tripped from our home in Kansas to Myrtle Beach.  I ate soft serve ice cream (since it doesn’t have to be scooped – some ice cream has gluten additives i.e. cookies, some candy and if they’ve all been dished out with the same scooper…).  At another stop I ordered a plain plain plain baked potato.  And then another time I ordered a salad that didn’t have any seasonings, croutons, chips, dressings, etc. on it.  I didn’t get sick from any of them, but trust me, I was nervous!  (Side Note: A perk about being GF.  Nowadays when I go on vacation I LOSE weight!)
  • When roadtripping, pack your own food.  People laugh at me when they see the stash of food I bring with me, but it’s a lifesaver!  You never know when you’ll find a “safe place” to eat and having food handy is a time saver.
  • Experiment with baking.  If you’ve never been comfortable in the kitchen, pick up a GF cookbook and start now!  There will be some failed experiments of epic proportions, but over time you’ll get the hang of it!  And you might surprise yourself with a great dish!
  • Become a label reading machine!  I remember the first day I walked into the grocery store after being told I had celiac disease and that I could never again eat gluten.  I remember feeling this huge wave of sadness and discouragement wash over me.  I stood by the car and looked up at the store like it was going to bite me, then, with trepidation, walked in the doors.  It seemed like everything in the store was something I couldn’t eat.  I’d pick up an item, scan the label, and with disgust toss it back on the shelf because I couldn’t eat it.  The labels looked like they were written in a foreign language.  What did it all mean?!  “mono- and dglycerides,” “dipotassium phospates,” “carrageenan.” Seriously, wtheck? Never fear, overtime you will master the skill of label reading.  Who knew label reading could be such a coveted talent!  Note: If a product that you know is GF and then changes their packaging, calling it a “new and improved recipe” make sure the ingredients haven’t changed and it is still GF.
  • Read LOTS of books, online article, email newsletters, discussion boards on living gluten free, etc.  There are such GREAT resources available now.  There are now SO much more products/resources available nowadays than when I was diagnosed even.  In that first trip to the store there was virtually NOTHING specifically GF on the shelves.  When I did find something it was nasty!  Now our grocery store has a huge organic section with special tags to label if something is GF.  SO convenient (but I still read the labels, just to be sure).  I love love love celiac.com.  They have an awesome email newsletter that keeps me up to date with new products available, surveys to take, new books, etc… I highly recommend you get it and THIS ONE by Triumph Dining.  Another good beginners reference is Elisabeth Hasselbeck’s book, “The G-Free Diet: A Gluten-Free Survival Guide.
  • Get plugged in with other people living gluten free!  A support group, if you will.  I don’t know if I can express just how therapeutic it is for me to talk to other people going through the same thing I am!  I’m naturally a bit of an introvert.  I don’t just talk to strangers in the grocery store, but I did!  A couple months after I was diagnosed I was in Walmart looking at their teeny tiny GF section when I bumped into another lady who was buying GF pasta.  Outwardly I was calm and cool, maturely talking to her about the woes of GF living like an adult.  Inside, however, I was jumping up and down squealing! “There’s someone like me! There’s someone like me! We’re going to be such great friends!”  Unfortunately she was from Texas. Ha!  But that was the first person I had met (in person) who had celiac like me and it was SO refreshing.  It was like a load was taken off of my shoulders.  Connect with people!
  • Watch out for beauty products.  Research has shown that gluten is too large to be absorbed through the skin, however if your lotion has gluten in it and later on you grab a handful of chips… well you just transferred that to your mouth.  Same with lipstick, hairspray/shampoos.  So yes, I read labels even on items that are not food products.  If there is a chance it could end up being ingested fairly easily, I won’t get it.
  • Plan your nights out in advance.  It kind of kills spontaneity, but it eliminates a lot (if not all) of the hassle of eating out.  Call restaurants in advance to see if they offer a GF menu, speak to the head chef about what ingredients are used to marinate the meat, if their grill is clean and doesn’t have leftover gluten on it, to have a special salad pre-made for you without croutons.  If you just show up to a restaurant and expect your waiter/waitress to know all about gluten, that is not cool.  Not only that, but it makes for very hectic and awkward mealtime conversations when your grilling your server on every single ingredient/cooking procedure your food is undergoing.  So, plan ahead.  Call ahead!  Google.  I eat out a LOT less than before.  My town doesn’t offer many GF alternatives and the times I have tried, I got sick afterwards.  Now I stick to PF Changs – their staff is SO knowledgeable about gluten free eating. I never worry there.
  • Be forewarned, if you have celiac disease, it is autoimmune — which means the gateway has been opened to getting more autoimmune diseases.  I’m currently undergoing more testing to find out what else is wrong with me! Ha!  I now have a lot of neurological problems, and some big gastro problems I’m dealing with.  My last batch of testing came back clear, so I’m off to see specialist now.  It kind of reminds me of my celiac diagnosis experience… “You’re tests came back clear!  Your fine!”  So, we shall see…
  • Don’t cheat on your diet!!  Please please please, don’t give in to the ever strong desire to just eat that donut and eat it good!  It will hurt you in the end.  Not only are your immediate symptoms horrible, but your causing so much more further damage to your body AND increasing your chances of getting more diseases (even cancer) the longer you keep gluten in your system.  There is NO CURE.  The only treatment is YOU caring enough about your body and life to not cause it harm.
  • It’s easy to get discouraged, but in those moments think about all of the healthy things you’re doing for your body now!  I eat astronomically better now than I did pre-diagnosis.  That, in and of itself, makes me happy whenever I feel like pouting because everyone around me is eating tasty cakes.
  • Lastly, all I have to say is: when in doubt, go without!  If you’re not sure something is GF, don’t eat it.

Sorry, y’all!  This ended up being a bit longer than I expected but I didn’t want to leave anything out.  And as I said previously, this isn’t even all of the “need to knows” you should know.  To all you seasoned GF’ers, please please please comment with your own tips and advice.  If you have any questions, comment here, hit me up on Facebook or find me on Twitter.

Rachel