Archive for February, 2009


Gluten-Free Children’s Vitamins

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This week, I was at the pharmacy looking for children’s vitamins. If you’re new to the gluten-free diet, you may not realize that vitamins and medications may contain gluten. I always check the labels, even if I had previously thought it to be gluten-free. You never know when the manufacturers are going to change their formulas or labels. And, even after carefully checking labels and making a purchase, I usually check the product websites to see what they have to say about the gluten content, too. Here’s what I found out about some:

Flintstone vitamins (all types) do not contain any gluten in the ingredients, and we have never had a problem with them. However, on their website, the company states: “We do not add gluten to any of our products, however we cannot guarantee that they are 100% gluten-free due to the fact that raw materials we receive from outside vendors are not certified as 100% gluten-free.”

Marvel Heroes The Amazing Spider-Man Gummies multiple vitamin and mineral supplement is also gluten-free. After looking online, I found an ingredient list and label that was slightly different from the package I had. It states it contains a “wheat extractive” right above another statement that reads: “Doest not Contain: Salt, Starch, Artificial Flavors, Colors, Preservatives, Yeast, Wheat, Soy, Milk, Fat Free.” So, to resolve my confusion, I called the manufacturer Sundown Naturals. After reading to them the number on the package, they confirmed for me that it is “wheat- and gluten-free.” My son was happy about that, and has had no problems from taking the vitamins. (Update: I was contacted by a representative from Sundown Naturals who pointed me to a page on their site that lists their Gluten and Wheat Free Supplements. No kiddie vitamins, but perhaps useful to the adults in the family.)

So we bought the Spider-Man Gummies for my son, but my daughter prefers the chewables. She is always disappointed that she can’t have the Centrum Kids Complete Dora vitamins. We keep checking the label every time we shop for vitamins, but the label clearly indicates that it contains wheat, milk, and soybean.

This time we bought CVS Pharmacy’s generic brand of Animal Shapes Children’s Chewable Complete. In very tiny, hard-to-read print on the label it states: “No yeast, wheat, gluten, milk, or milk derivatives, lactose, salt.” My daughter was very happy once we got home and opened the bottle to see that the viatmins were pink and purple (and orange, too). Whatever it takes to make them happy and healthy. :o)

For information about the gluten content of other medications, check out

Check out these more recent posts I’ve written about vitamins:

Wegmans WKids Plus Iron

Wegmans WKids Plus Iron

Disney Princess Chewables

Disney Princess Chewables


Hakuna Matata All-Natural


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Today is Pancake Day!

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In honor of Pancake Day, I thought I would share with you our favorite pancakes.

When we first started on a gluten-free diet, I tried several different recipes and mixes for pancakes. I finally decided that Pamela’s Pancake and Baking Mix works best for us. We make a large batch of these pancakes every week, with the intention of freezing the leftovers. I follow the directions on the package, but reduce the amount of water because we like the pancakes a little fluffier. Mix together 1 Cup Pamela’s Mix with 1 large egg (or equivalent egg replacer), 3/4 Cup water, and 1 TBSP oil. I usually get five pancakes out of one batch.

These are very moist pancakes and best eaten right away. After sitting too long, they tend to get a little soggy. But, it’s the moist texture that keeps us buying it. They are perfect for freezing and reheating: Just let them cool, then place them in an airtight container or zip-style plastic bag. I place wax paper between them, to keep from sticking together. When ready for eating, place individual frozen pancakes in the toaster. In just a couple minutes, they are perfect: a little crisp on the outside, and still moist in the middle. Once toasted, they don’t seem to get soggy.

Optional versions: Chocolate chip is our favorite. Pour about 1/3 Cup batter on the skillet and immediately drop mini-chocolate chips onto the pancake. Once the pancake edges have started cooking, give it a flip. We don’t usually add any syrup to these, they’re great as-is. As you might expect, these pancakes also taste great with added blueberries or sliced strawberries.

We use the same mix for waffles, too. We just add an extra egg to the recipe. And, just like the pancakes, they freeze and toast very well. Much better than the gluten-free frozen waffles you can buy at the store.

This pancake mix is made with almond meal, so you will see little brown flecks in the batter and the pancakes. Ingredients: Brown Rice Flour, White Rice Flour, Cultured Buttermilk, Natural Almond Meal, Tapioca Starch, Sweet Rice Flour, Potato Starch, Grainless & Aluminum-Free Baking Powder (Sodium Bicarbonate, Sodium Pyrophosphate, Potato Starch), Baking Soda, Sea Salt, Xanthan Gum. Allergen Information: Contains Tree Nuts and Milk. Produced on equipment that also makes products containg tree nuts, soy, eggs, and milk.

Categories : Product Advisory
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Gluten-Free King Cake!

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img_3014x[Update 3 Dec 2009: I’m linking this recipe to this week’s Party Food Theme at The Gluten-Free Homemaker’s “What Can I Eat That’s Gluten-Free?”

I first learned of King Cakes while living in Texas, though I think it’s more common to find around New Orleans, LA. It is a traditional pastry treat baked for Christmas and Mardi Gras, but other celebrations as well.

A fun tradition of the King Cake is the little toy baby (representing Jesus) that is baked inside (or slid in after baking). The person who gets a slice of the cake with the baby inside it is obliged to bring a King Cake to the next celebration. The tradition makes it a fun food item to offer at a party. The pastry itself also makes a great breakfast treat Christmas morning or New Year’s morning.]

I’ve been searching for a gluten-free king cake recipe for weeks now, and just couldn’t find one. With Mardi Gras only a few days away, I came to the conclusion that I was going to have to make my own recipe. I was a little nervous about making a gluten-free yeast bread, but I think I got lucky because it turned out better than I expected. That’s assuming I can still remember what a king cake is supposed to taste like. This is basically a breakfast pastry shaped into a ring. I made two small cakes out of this recipe and tried a different filling with each. Some king cakes have no filling at all, but I like the extra flavor of the fillings.

Gluten-Free King Cake


2 (.25 oz.) packages of active dry yeast
1/2 Cup warm water (100 – 110 degrees F)
1/2 Cup + 2 tsp white sugar
1 Cup milk
1/4 Cup butter
2 eggs
1-1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
2-1/2 Cups brown rice flour (super-finely ground)
1 Cup potato starch
1/2 Cup tapioca flour
2 tsp xanthan gum

Brown Sugar Filling (makes enough for two small king cakes):

1 Cup packed brown sugar
1 TBSP cinnamon
1/2 Cup melted butter
1/2 Cup pecans, chopped (optional)

Cream Cheese Filling (makes enough for two small king cakes):

1 (8 oz.) package of cream cheese
1/2 Cup powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract


2 Cups powdered sugar, sifted to remove lumps
1/4 Cup orange juice
1 tsp butter flavor
1 tsp almond flavor
1 tsp vanilla extract


  1. img_30012In a large mixing bowl, dissolve yeast in 1/2 Cup of warm water (100-110 degrees F/45 degrees C) with 2 tsp of sugar. Stir it lightly and let it stand for 10 minutes.
  2. In a small bowl, heat the milk in the microwave, so it’s hot but not boiling (1-2 minutes). Add in the butter and stir until it’s melted. Once the yeast has stood for 10 min. and foamed up, pour the milk mixture into the large mixing bowl with the yeast mixture. Mix in the eggs, 1/2 Cup sugar, salt and nutmeg.
  3. In a separate large bowl, mix the brown rice flour, the potato starch, tapioca flour and xanthan gum. Then, add the flour mixture to the yeast/milk mixture and mix thoroughly. The dough should start to pull together, but it will be sticky. img_3003
  4. Lightly oil a large bowl, place the dough in the bowl and turn it a few times to coat the dough with the oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a damp towel, and set in a warm place to rise for about 2 hours.
  5. To make fillings, simply combine ingredients and mix well.
  6. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
  7. Once the dough has risen, divide it into two equal portions and turn each half of the dough out onto its own sheet of parchment paper lightly dusted with a gluten-free flour.  img_3006
  8. Place a large piece of plastic wrap on top of one of the dough balls and start to roll it out to a large rectangle about 16 inches long. Place your filling of choice along one long side of the dough, then begin rolling it up like a jelly-roll.  Use the parchment paper to help lift and roll the dough until it is a long skinny roll. Turn the dough, so that the seam is on the bottom. Now shape the roll into a ring, pressing the ends together.
  9. Slide the parchment paper along with the dough onto a cookie sheet and place into the oven. (If  you don’t have parchment paper, use wax paper to roll out the dough, but place the ring of dough on a lightly greased cookie sheet.) Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until lightly browned. Let the cake cool slightly on a wire rack. img_30071If inserting a plastic baby or trinket, make a small cut on the top of the cake and place the baby inside. Press the cake back together. The cut in the cake should be covered up by the frosting and colored sugar.
  10. Repeat steps 8 and 9 for the second ball of dough.
  11. Make the frosting by combining the ingredients in a medium bowl. Pour the frosting over the slightly cooled cake and immediately decorate with colored sugar sprinkles (green, purple and gold!).img_3013img_3018
Categories : Holidays, Recipes
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Quick & Easy Red Beans and Rice

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img_3000-copyWith Mardi Gras only a few days away (Tues., Feb. 24), I’ve been thinking about traditional New Orleans food. This is another naturally gluten-free recipe. It’s quick and easy, but delicious. It’s moderately spicy, so adjust the spices to your liking. Enjoy!

Quick & Easy Red Beans and Rice


2 TBSP olive oil
3 celery ribs, chopped (1 Cup)
1 small onion, chopped (1 Cup)
6 green onions, thinly sliced (1/4 Cup)
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 Cups water
2 (15.5 oz.) cans of kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp Cajun seasoning
1 lb. andouille sausage* fully cooked, sliced (or leave it whole on the side)
4 Cups hot cooked rice


  1. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Saute celery, onion, and garlic until tender.
  2. Add water, beans, oregano, thyme, red pepper flakes, black pepper, cayenne pepper, and Cajun seasoning. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat. Simmer, uncovered for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. Using a fork or potato masher, mash about 1/3 of the mixture. This gives the dish a thicker consistency, but still leaves plenty of beans whole. Add sausage to heat through. Continue to simmer for another 10- 20 minutes or until beans reach desired thickness.
  4. Serve over rice. Makes 4 servings.

*Be sure to check ingredients. Some companies use wheat flour or starch for fillers in sausage.

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Gluten-Free Cornbread

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This was one of the first gluten-free recipes I made that tasted like I thought it should. The recipe comes from “The Gluten-Free Kitchen” by Roben Ryberg. It was the first gluten-free cookbook I bought. I chose it because the author didn’t use a lot of specialty ingredients and flours. In this book she uses potato starch, cornstarch and cornmeal, all of which are pretty easy to find at any grocery store. Unlike other cookbooks, I didn’t have to buy 5 different types of special flours, additives, etc. that I may have to order online and pay shipping costs.  This cookbook was a perfect introduction to the gluten-free diet. I now have 10 different types of flour in my pantry that I use for various other recipes, but this recipe still tastes good with just the basics.

Cornbread (Version I)


1 Cup milk
1 egg
1/4 Cup oil
1/4 tsp vinegar
1/3 Cup potato starch
1/2 Cup cornstarch
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 TBSP baking powder
3/4 Cup cornmeal
1/2 Cup sugar
1/2 tsp xanthan gum


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. In medium bowl, combine milk, egg, oil and vinegar. Mix well.
  3. Add all other ingredients and mix well, being sure to remove any lumps. Batter will be thin.
  4. Pour batter into greased 8 x 8 baking pan. Bake 28-32 minutes, until cornbread tests done with a toothpick and top is lightly browned.

Makes 9 servings.

My notes:

  • I also like to add a small can of mexican fiesta corn and sometimes finely chopped jalapenos. Be sure to drain all liquid before adding it to the batter. Cook it at the same temperature for the same length of time.
  • I often mix the dry ingredients in advance and seal in a bag. Then when I’m making dinner, I can pull out my own cornbread mix and add it to the wet ingredients. It’s a great time-saver.
Categories : Recipes
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