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I was recently contacted by Christi Silbaugh, one of the authors of “Gluten-Free Made Easy” and asked if I would review her new gluten-free cookbook. Just reading the title “Gluten-Free made easy” made me anxious to read it and give some of the recipes a try.

At First Glance.
This cookbook is a paperback book with at least a dozen gluten-free recipes in each category of Breakfast, Finger Foods, Pasta and Pizza, Main Dishes, Sides and Sauces, Soups and Salads, Breads, and Desserts. There are plenty of recipes to tempt your taste buds.

This book begins with lots of good information and resources about being gluten-free: answers to common questions, flour blends and cake mixes, easy ingredient substitutions, favorite products, where to shop, etc.

The cookbook is well-organized and features many recipes with full-page, 4-color photographs. Sometimes I receive cookbooks to review, and only find a few recipes that I really want to try. Not so with this cookbook. It is full of gluten-free recipes for everyday eating. Many of the recipes have few ingredients and simple instructions. Love that!

The Recipes.

  • The Mole Chicken was a nice change for our family. It wasn’t too spicy, and we enjoyed the chocolate flavor.
  • The Double Crunch Honey Garlic Chicken was deliciously crisp and moist.
  • Pollo Pasta Primavera and Linguine Carbonara are on our menu this week. Can’t wait to try them!
  • Simple Spanish Rice and Mexican Black Bean Chili will be on our menu next week.
  • My kids have requested Cinnamon and Sugar Donut Holes and Banana Snickerdoodle Muffins, so we’ll be making them soon, too!

There are several recipes in this cookbook that are similar to our own family favorites, so I know we’ll enjoy the many new ones we find in the book, too.

The Tips.
I love all the tips scattered through the book: Make Your Own Pancake Mix, Snacks in a Snap, Lunch Box ideas, Purchase or Prepare (tips for saving time and money), Making Treats for a Gluten-Free Friend, and more.

There are a lot of great gluten-free recipes in this book! It would be a great cookbook for anyone on a gluten-free diet. And, it gives a lot of information that would be helpful to someone new to the diet, as well as someone who wants to cook for their gluten-free friends and family members. The only downside for me, is that a lot of the recipes call for dairy — butter, cream, milk, etc. — which my body can’t tolerate anymore. Of course, I’ve gotten pretty good at making substitutions, but it would be nice to have recipes that had already been tested with dairy-free alternatives.

Where to Find It.


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BacktoSchoolBreakfastSince writing about Gluten-Free Breakfasts a few weeks ago, I’ve had a couple more ideas I wanted to share with you.

Don’t forget to take your vitamins!

I’m surprised I didn’t even think about vitamins when writing about Back-to-School Breakfast ideas. So many people take supplements or vitamins in the mornings, especially kids! I neglected to mention it, probably because we haven’t been taking vitamins at my house until recently. With my kids getting so busy in sports, I realize that I really need to make sure they are getting all the nutrition they need.

HKvitaminI was intrigued by Hakuna Matata, a chewable multivitamin and natural fruit and veggie supplement.   Healthy Pride Supplements was nice enough to send me some samples to try out on my kids. (I hate paying big bucks for vitamins, just to find out the kids won’t eat them!) I tried the vitamins, too. I prefer the chewable vitamins because I think they’re easier on my tummy.

The great thing about these vitamins is that they are gluten-free, wheat-free, and egg-free, with no artificial colors or sweeteners. They also do not contain meat, yeast, starch, or preservatives. And, check out the natural sources of all the vitamins and minerals:

  • FRUITS AND BERRIES: strawberry, banana, raspberry, melon, pineapple, black currant, apricot, cherry, tagerine, kiwi, grape, apple, tomato, peach, papaya, guava, and mango.
  • VEGATABLES: broccoli, carrot, spinach, beet greens, asparagus, onion, garlic, alfalfa, barley grass, artichoke, peas, and summer squash.
  • ALGAE: spiralina blue-green algae, klmath blue-green algae, chlorella, kombu green algae, and cytoseira green algae.
  • Other ingredients: Dextrose, orange juice flavored crystals, natural flavors, stearic acid, turmeric color, magnesium stearate, silica, citric acid, alfalfa juice and carmine color.

So what was our final analysis? We like them! They aren’t bitter, and don’t upset our tummies. I LOVE all the natural ingredients. I like to think that my family is eating healthy, but sometimes I worry that we aren’t getting enough of the good stuff.

Where can you buy them? You can order the vitamins online or through a select group of stores and pharmacies. For more vitamin options, check out the list of the Top 100 Children’s Vitamins, as reported by


Chex Gluten-Free Oatmeal

I happened to notice in the grocery store this month, a new arrival — Chex Gluten-Free Oatmeal. I grabbed a box to check it out, then noticed another shopper grabbing a box. She said it was really sweet and her kids loved it. So, I bought it, and took it home. My kids never did get to try it. My husband and I ate all of it.

The shopper was right: It is sweet. Maple Brown Sugar sweet. Just like the packages of instant oatmeal we used to eat when we were kids. Each box contains 6 individual packages. You simply pour the cereal into a bowl, add 2/3 cup water or milk, and microwave for 90 seconds. Yum!

I have only seen the Maple Brown Sugar variety in the stores. However, I found Apple Cinnamon and Original flavored varieties at Amazon, if you’re interested.  You may find them in the cereal aisles at your store. I’ll be watching ours to see if they arrive. A variety pack might be nice. :)

Ingredients: Whole Grain Oats, Sugar, Salt, Natural Flavor. Each pouch/serving: 170 calories, 0.5 g saturated fat, 180 mg sodium, 12 g sugars.

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Yes! There’s still time to order last-minute Christmas gifts!  All of these cookbooks are available on Amazon, and can be shipped in time for Christmas. In fact, if you are a Prime Member on Amazon* (as I have been for several years), you can get free two-day shipping and still get your packages there by Christmas. You just need to order your gifts by Sunday (Dec. 22, 2013)! So, on to the cookbooks….

The 163 Best Paleo Slow Cooker Recipes: 100% Gluten-Free
If you’ve been interested in trying a Paleo diet, but were worried about how much time and effort it would take to do it, this may be just the cookbook you need to get started. Who doesn’t love the convenience of a slow-cooker dinner? This cookbook has a variety of intriguing meals to try. Try recipes for Spicy Tamari Almonds, African-Style Chicken in Onion Gravy, Mussels in Lemongrass Tomato Broth, Chinese-Style Braised Pork, and Chocolate Flan with Toasted Almonds.

Easy Everyday Gluten-Free Cooking: Includes 250 Delicious Recipes
Heather Butt and Donna Washburn put together another fabulous gluten-free cookbook. This large, and very thick paperback cookbook is filled with 250 recipes including Breakfast, Quick Breads, Soups, Salads, Main Entrées, Bread Machine Recipes, and Desserts. I love the format of the book, with each recipe including tips and nutritional values per serving in the margin. I’m looking forward to trying the Almond Sponge Cake!

Gluten Free Goes Gourmet
In this beautiful hardback cookbook, author Vicky Pearl creates elegant recipes that are Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Corn Free, Low Glycemic, and Kosher. I LOVE that each recipe includes a full-page photo of the finished product. I love to see how a recipe is supposed to look, and also get ideas for a nice presentation. There’s nothing missing from this cookbook: Drinks, Salads, Soups, Meat & Poultry, Fish, Sides, Breads, and Desserts. I am personally excited to try out the  “Magnificent Mock Dairy” recipes.

Gluten-Free on a Shoestring Bakes Bread: (Biscuits, Bagels, Buns, and More)
This paperback book was written by Nicole Hunn, author of her first cookbook Gluten-Free on a Shoestring: 125 Easy Recipes for Eating Well on the Cheap and website blog of the same name. This cookbook gives great details to help you recreate the mouth-watering breads pictured in the book. It also includes information about different flours to use, and a whole chapter on what to expect from gluten-free bread. I just got a copy of this in the mail, and I can’t wait to give it a try!

Green Smoothies for Every Season: A Year of Farmers Market–Fresh Super Drinks
This small hardcover book would be a great gift for someone who likes to detox after the holidays and make healthy New Year Resolutions. The book begins with an introduction to drinking green smoothies, the health benefits, and the importance of rotating the greens you eat. The variety of recipes is incredible, and is organized by the season you can find the produce. Try the Strawberry Fields or Star Fruit smoothie in the Spring or the Pomegranate Pop in the Fall. There are also recipes for the Stomach Soother, Brain Booster, Honeymoon Healer, Lemon Liver Cleanser, Heart Starter, Bone Builder, and some many more!

Naturally Sweet & Gluten-Free: Allergy-Friendly Vegan Desserts: 100 Recipes Without Gluten, Dairy, Eggs, or Refined Sugar
This paperback cookbook is comprised entirely of sweet treats made without gluten, eggs, dairy, or refined sugar. Author Ricki Heller also shares recipes at (formerly Diet, Dessert and Dogs) and in her last cookbook called Sweet Freedom: Desserts You’ll Love without Wheat, Eggs, Dairy or Refined Sugar.

Paleo Cooking from Elana’s Pantry: Gluten-Free, Grain-Free, Dairy-Free Recipes
Elana Amsterdam has created another wonderful cookbook for the gluten-free community. And this one is also grain-free, dairy-free, and perfect for a paleo diet. Like her past cookbooks, it is a smaller paperback book, but full of wonderful recipes. You’ll find a variety of recipes for Breads and Breakfast, Vegetables, Entrées, Desserts including pastries and cookies, and drinks. The Rosemary Lemon Chicken has been a winner at our house, and we’ve even modified it to make Cilantro Lime Chicken.

Sweet Cravings: 50 Seductive Desserts for a Gluten-Free Lifestyle
Author Kyra Bussanich is a pastry chef and owner of the gluten-free bakery, Kyra’s Bake Shop. She was also the first gluten-free contestant and winner of Cupcake Wars on the Food Network. This hardback cookbook begins with a guide to the ingredients, and discusses possible egg and dairy substitutions in her recipes. It also reviews the different gluten-free flours, and offers some baking tips. Besides all the wonderfully sweet recipes, I appreciate how this cookbook  labels each recipe as one of three different levels of difficulty: easy, intermediate, and advanced. Most of the recipes are either easy or intermediate, so you’ll have plenty of practice time to work up to the advanced recipes. :)

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FallcornsnacksI love eating popcorn for snacks in the fall (or anytime of year, actually). We know that popcorn is naturally gluten-free, so it’s also great to serve to friends and family who aren’t on a gluten-free diet. Isn’t nice when we can all eat the same things? Unfortunately, we do still need to be cautious because some popcorn products have added flavorings that have gluten, or become contaminated due to processing.

popcornsnacksHere are some yummy popcorn products we’ve safely eaten at home lately. Some of the products were purchased by me, some were given to us, and one (Cosmos) was sent to us by the company to sample. All of the products clearly state “Gluten Free” on the packaging. Love that! It makes it so nice for people who are not gluten free, but want to buy something gluten-free to offer friends and family who are. (Sometimes I think reading nutrition labels can be a difficult skill to learn.)

Angie’s Popcorn

Angie's Cinnamon Sugar Kettle Corn

Angie’s Cinnamon Sugar

Angie’s is a great popcorn product. I first saw Angie’s kettle corn at Target. You can buy it in a large bag, or a package of single-serving size bags. I think it’s a nice combination of salty and sweet. Angie’s also makes other flavors: Salted Caramel, Movie Pop, White Cheddar, Sweet & Spicy, Boom Chicka Pop Sea Salt, as well as some seasonal flavors. My son loves the cinnamon flavor we bought to give out at Halloween. “Ingredients: Popcorn, Sunflower Oil, Evaporated Cane Crystals, Sea Salt. Vegan. Certified Gluten-Free”

Cosmos Creations Baked Corn

Cosmos Salted Caramel Puffed Corn

Cosmos Salted Caramel

Cosmos is not actually popcorn. It’s a puffy, baked corn product. So, there are no kernels or hulls to worry about getting stuck in your teeth. I tried the sea salt and butter, and loved the strong buttery flavor. However, it doesn’t have the crunchy popcorn texture I like. The Salted Caramel flavor definitely has the crunch I was missing. The wonderful sweet, buttery caramel coating gave it a delicious crunch and a wonderful aroma. My kids were not as crazy about the Salted Caramel, but it was my husband’s favorite. Since it is made with dairy, I only took a small sample and let him enjoy the rest with his co-workers, who also loved it. My son preferred the Cinnamon Crunch, and my daughter preferred the Sea Salt & Butter. Salted Caramel Ingredients: Cane Sugar, Butter (cream, milk, salt), Corn Syrup, Degerminated Yellow Corn Meal, Sea Salt, Molasses, Vanilla Extract, Baking Soda.”

Skinny Pop Popcorn

Skinny Pop Popcorn

Skinny Pop Popcorn

There is nothing fancy about Skinny Pop, but that’s what I like about it. Nothing added but oil and salt. Free of gluten, dairy, and nuts. I can buy a big bag at Sam’s or find individual-sized bags at Sprouts. I like to pop my own popcorn at home, but this is really convenient when I need to grab a quick snack for the kids. Great for after-school snacks and to pack in lunches. No need to add lots of butter, my kids love as it is. However, it would also work great in some of the recipes listed below. “Ingredients: All Natural Popcorn Sunflower Oil and Salt.”

Redenbacher Kettle Corn

Orville Redenbacher’s new Kettle Corn

Orville Redenbacher’s Kettle Corn

This Orville Redenbacher product is a lightly sweetened kettle corn. A nice snack as is, or with other snacks stirred in: chocolate candies, nuts, etc. Just what you would expect from a kettle corn. Other OR popcorn flavors available: Sharp White Cheddar, Farmhouse Cheddar, and BBQ. “Ingredients for the Kettle Corn: Popcorn, Sugar, Sunflower Oil, contains less that 2% of: Salt, Soy Lecithin. Contains: Soy. Gluten Free”

Looking for Recipes to Make Your Own Popcorn Snacks?
Use some of the products above, or simply pop your own at home to make these snacks.

Caramel Corn Puffs Recipe -- gluten-free, dairy-free

Caramel Corn Puffs Recipe — gluten-free, dairy-free

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If you’re looking for a more complete list of Gluten-Free Halloween Candy, check out the updated Gluten-Free Halloween Candy list, which also includes a list of unsafe candies. These are just a few new gluten-free products I thought deserved a little more explanation:

candycornStarburst Fruit-Flavored Candy CornEvery year I’m on the hunt for gluten-free candy corn. The usual brands I find in the stores (Brach’s, for example) are exposed to gluten through cross-contamination. And with our systems already being stressed by the increased amount of sugar in our bodies, I don’t want to risk consuming even traces of gluten. This year, I ran across these fruit-flavored candy corn from Starburst. It doesn’t have the flavor I was looking for, but it certainly has the shape and texture. My kids love the fruity flavors: Cherry, Strawberry, Lemon, and Orange. For that expected candy corn flavor, try the Jelly Belly brand.

suncupsSun Cups are a great option for gluten-free friends who are also peanut/nut-free. Sun Cups are made with a sunflower butter instead of peanut butter and are produced in a gluten-free and nut-free facility. It’s great for those with nut allergies, but it does contain dairy. Sun Cups sent me some samples so I could try the different flavor varieties I’ve had trouble finding in the stores: Milk Chocolate Sunflower Butter Cups, Dark Chocolate Sunflower Butter Cups, Milk Chocolate Caramel Cups (which my kids love!), and Dark Chocolate Mint Cups.

sixletsSweet Works is a great resource for gluten-free candy. I was recently introduced to their website where I found a wide array of gluten-free candies: SixletsGumJawbreakers, and more. Click on any of the candy products on their site to find a complete ingredient list, as well as notations about allergens. Be sure to look for the “Allergen Info.”, as well as the “Gluten Free and Made in a nut free facility” notation in “Additional Info.” in the details on each product.

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