Archive for Product Advisory
You’ve probably tried Pepper Jelly over Cream Cheese with crackers, right? When we get together with my husband’s family, we almost always have it for an appetizer. My mother-in-law makes a wonderful pepper jelly every year. Sorry, I don’t have that recipe to share with you. Simply Recipes has a good recipe for it. But you can also find it in the stores or on Amazon. Just be sure to check the labels to make sure they’re gluten-free.
Here’s the very simple non-recipe: Place your cream cheese on a plate or serving dish and pour the jelly over the top. Then, spread gluten-free chips or crackers around it, for a nice presentation. How easy is that?! Now check out my notes and my new twist on it below.
Additional Notes and Ideas:
- I like to use whipped cream cheese (or whip it myself) because it’s a little easier to dig into with crackers.
- If you’re like me, and don’t tolerate dairy well, then try Toffutti’s non-dairy cream cheese. I buy the Non-Hydrogenated Plain variety in the yellow tub. With the jelly on top, you won’t notice the difference. OK, maybe you will, but it still tastes really good.
- Another fun option is to buy the blocks of cream cheese (Tofutti’s works, too) and cut them into holiday shapes with cookie cutters. You can make a whole tray of cream cheese Christmas trees, stars, holly leaves, etc.
- Use any favorite gluten-free crackers or chips that don’t break too easily. Gluten-free rice crackers, Crunchmaster Multi-Grain Crackers, and FoodShouldTasteGood Multigrain Tortilla Chips (in the photo above) are my favorites for this.
- Sometimes I get jelly or jam that is too solid, and doesn’t want to pour or spread easily. In this case, I usually just put the jelly into the microwave for 20-30 seconds and stir well. Then, pour/spread it over the cream cheese.
- For a festive holiday look, use both green and red pepper jelly. Add sweet pepper slices, cranberries, or raspberries for garnish.
- Use any kind of jelly. Pepper jellies have a nice spice and flavor that complements the cream cheese, but you can use any favorite jelly. In fact, that’s just what I did by combining two flavors that always taste good together: chocolate and raspberry.
Chocolate and Raspberry Variation. When I received a sample of FoodShouldTasteGood’s Chocolate Tortilla Chips, I knew what I wanted to try: Cream Cheese and Raspberry Jelly served with the Chocolate Tortilla Chips. Delicious treat! (It looks nice with a couple fresh raspberries on top, but I didn’t have the raspberries or the raspberry jam for the photo. Fortunately, the triple-berry jam I used in the photo turned out just as tasty.)
If you haven’t tried the Chocolate tortilla chips, you really should. They have a rich cocoa flavor, and are just lightly sweetened. The flavor really works well with the creaminess of Tofutti, and the tart, sweetness of the jelly.
I’ve got more gift ideas to give to friends and family who are following a gluten-free diet. I told you last month about some new ideas for gluten-fee cooks: cookbooks, calendar, and magazines. Now, I’m thinking about food gifts. This is something that is not always easy to find for people who are gluten-free. In the past, you’d have to make it yourself, package it, and deliver/ship it. But now there are some options to make your holiday shopping a little easier. Here are some that I found online.
Gluten-Free Food Packages
Gluten-Free Palace has a variety of gift boxes and baskets with gluten-free cookies.
Gourmet Gift Baskets has a selection of gift baskets with gluten-free food products — cookies, crackers, chips, dips, etc.
I Can Have That! offers gift baskets that are tailored to your special diet needs. You can order, Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, Nut-Free, or free from any of the other major allergens. And right now they’re offering free shipping on orders over $65. Enter coupon code “Holiday 2012″ at checkout now through Dec. 19.
Jules GlutenFree. In addition to her books, and the occasional cooking class, Jules also sells gluten-free baking mixes online. She has a great variety of products that would be a wonderful gift for someone new to the gluten-free diet or a seasoned baker. Some of the product packages change with special deals being offered. But, you can’t go wrong with the Starter Pack. If you purchase quickly (because supplies are limited), you may even be able to purchase the Cookie Tree Building Kit.
Katz GlutenFree is a gluten-free bakery that ships delicious gluten-free goodies: Breads, Muffins, Cookies, Cakes, Pies, Doughnuts, etc. Everything is baked in a dedicated facility that is gluten-free, dairy-free, and nut-free. They have also put together some gluten-free gift packages that I’m sure would be appreciated by celiacs and others eating gluten free. With their wide variety of tasty treats, you’re sure to find something to send to your loved ones.
Nuts.com - Assuming there are no nut allergies in the house, these are a great option. This site sells a lot more than just nuts: sweet treats, dried fruit, snacks, and baking supplies. Check out their gluten-free page of products to get started.
Saratoga Gift Basket Company offers several gift baskets with gluten-free treats, snacks, dessert items, etc.
So Lucky is an online business that prepares and ships gluten-free food and gift packages. The gluten-free food products are thoughtfully put together in fun themes. The So It’s Time to Entertain Holiday Box includes Emily G’s Cabernet Sauvignon jam, Bob’s Red Mill Cornbread Mix, 2 Turkey Gravy Mixes, 2 Suss Cinnamon Apple Caramels, Namaste Spice Cake Mix, Glutino Multigrain Crackers, and a seasonal dish towel. Check out all of their products at SoLuckyGifts.com.
Other Food Packages that may be Gluten-Free – Check labels and/or with Customer Service before purchasing.
Harry and David – They offer a variety of food gift packages and many include gluten, so I recommend that you order their delicious fruit. They have a variety of fruit presentations from which to choose. Some of the baskets in their holiday fruit gift collection do come with products that contain gluten, so order carefully.
Hickory Farms – We’ve eaten products from Hickory Farms in the past with no problems from gluten. However, they don’t claim that all their products are gluten-free. So make sure you confirm with the company that what you’re ordering is gluten-free. Or, to be on the safe side, you can’t go wrong with a fruit and nut basket.
Wines – Most people in the gluten-free community consider wine to be gluten-free.
Wines Country Gift Baskets – To avoid gluten, I would stick with ordering just the wine. They ship wine to most states, but check before you spend too much time placing an order. They also sell holiday wreaths and decor, which make nice gifts.
Wine.com – Another site that ships wine, champagne, and gift products. Check out the holiday wine sets, but avoid the food and candy products that may contain gluten. They sell a group of “green wines” that use sustainable, organic and/or biodynamic practices. They also sell accessories for wine and entertaining.
Thanksgiving is over and it’s time to start thinking about Christmas. Here are some fun ideas for gifts to give to those who cook and live gluten-free. Great for someone new to the gluten-free diet, but also good for the seasoned gluten-free cook because I’ve included cookbooks and products that are new this year!
Calendar with Gluten-Free Recipes
Diane at The W.H.O.L.E. Gang created this fabulous monthly calendar with gluten-free recipes for 2013. There is a wonderful recipe printed on each calendar card with beautiful full-color photos. On the back of each card is easy-to-follow directions for making the gluten-free and dairy-free recipe, along with suggestions for making it vegetarian, vegan, and paleo.
I love the small size of it (a CD case). Perfect for stockings or easy shipping! You can order it directly from Diane’s website, where you’ll also find a list of the recipes and more details about it.
Cookbooks for a Busy Gluten-Free Family
The The Everything Gluten-Free Slow Cooker Cookbook by Carrie Forbes was just recently released. I haven’t seen the book myself, but I’ve tried many of Carrie’s recipes from GingerLemonGirl.com, and I’ve always had good results with them. What busy family couldn’t use a good slow-cooker recipe to help them manage a week filled with a myriad of activities? You can order the cookbook directly from GingerLemonGirl, or on Amazon.
Gluten-Free on a Shoestring, Quick and Easy: 100 Recipes for the Food You Love–Fast! is another cookbook designed to help busy families manage a gluten-free diet. The author, Nicole Hunn, includes tips for advance meal prep, kitchen shortcuts, and make-your-own mixes to get meals on the table fast. And like her first cookbook, this one also provides inexpensive solutions for a complete gluten-free meal. But what really gets my attention is those gluten-free glazed chocolate doughnuts on the cover! Must try soon.
Gluten-Free and Dairy-Free Cookbooks
The Dairy-Free & Gluten-Free Kitchen written by Denise Jardine provides recipes that are dairy-free, as well as gluten-free. It has a nice variety of recipes for cheese and sauces including a Creamy Macadamia and Pine Nut Cheese, a Mustard Cream Sauce, and a Spicy Peanut Sauce. A few more recipes that got my attention, but I haven’t tried yet, are Crispy Pizza Crust, Chocolate Orange Pudding and Pumpkin Cheesecake.
The Spunky Coconut Dairy-Free Ice Cream Cookbook: Soy-Free, Sugar-Free, Vegan Written by Kelly Brozyna, also author of the blog The Spunky Coconut. These recipes are made with coconut milk, cashew nut milk, and/or hemp milk using a blender or an ice cream maker. What a variety of flavors: Blueberry Lavender, Roasted Banana, Spiced Apple Tea, as well as the classics Chocolate and Vanilla. Order this and other cookbooks at The Spunky Coconut Bake Shop or on Amazon.
This year, I’ve been trying to include more Paleo-friendly meals into my diet. The paleo diet is free of all grains, so it is also gluten free. My husband and I both felt great after being on the diet for just a week. We aren’t ready to commit to it full-time, but I am making some small changes to our meals to make more of them paleo-friendly. You, too, may be interested in some of these cookbooks.
I purchased Eat Like a Dinosaur: Recipe & Guidebook for Gluten-free Kids this year. It was written and created for families with young kids. My daughter loves the story in the front of the cookbook that tells about how the author’s family transformed their health and lives by learning to “eat like a dinosaur.” It embraces the paleo diet and has lots of fun recipes to get the kids engaged in the diet, too.
Practical Paleo: A Customized Approach to Health and a Whole-Foods Lifestyle This author also has a blog at Balanced Bites. She is a certified nutrition consultant who writes in this book about how good food can improve your health. This is not just a cookbook. It is a guide to the paleo diet that explains it in detail, including foods to eat and foods to avoid. It gives instructions for grocery shopping, gives tips for eating out, explains how to regulate your blood sugar with food, and provides lots of great recipes.
Everyday Paleo Family Cookbook: Real Food for Real Life This is a follow-up to her first cookbook Everyday Paleo and her children’s book Paleo Pals: Jimmy and the Carrot Rocket Ship. Like so many paleo books, this book focuses on how to improve your health by making good food choices and staying active with your family. There are lots of full-color photos of the recipes. And, I love that she’s included recipes great for families with kids — slow-cooker recipes and “fruity creations and treats.”
You didn’t know there were magazines specific to the gluten-free diet? Yep, in fact, there are several now! When buying a subscription for a friend, why not order one for yourself, too?
Simply Gluten Free Magazine is the newest of the gluten-free magazines, just being released this fall, in time for the holidays. It’s a bi-monthly publication created by the multi-talented Carol at Simply…Gluten-Free, this magazine is sure to include her delicious recipes and beautiful photographs that are always tempting. Must get a subscription to this one! You may also be interested in her cookbooks: Simply . . . Gluten-free Desserts and Simply . . . Gluten-free Quick Meals.
Delight Gluten Free Magazine does a great job of keeping its readers up to date on the latest news and trends for the gluten-free lifestyle. It publishes six times a year and provides gluten-free recipes, articles and tips for living gluten free. With editors and writers that continue to be engaged in the gluten-free community, it is sure to have information relevant to anyone eating gluten free.
Living Without Magazine, a bi-monthly magazine, addresses a variety of food allergies and sensitivities, including gluten-free and dairy-free. It provides delicious new recipes in every issue, as well as articles and tips about living with food allergies. You’ll read about new studies and topics to address with your doctor.
Earlier this month, I mentioned in my review of Mi-Del cookies that I give my kids’ teachers a small care package of gluten-free snacks at the beginning of the year for them to store in the classroom for my kids. These are not meant to be the snacks that my kids get to eat everyday. (I send my kids to school each day with gluten-free snacks and lunch.) The snacks in this care package are there for backup reasons because sometimes snacks and treats are offered in the classroom that aren’t gluten-free. And having these in the classroom makes sure that my kids are not left out of any last-minute activities involving gluten. For example:
- Probably the most common situation: A classmate brings in cupcakes, cookies, or treats to share with the class for their birthday. My son chooses a package of cookies out of his gluten-free package.
- The class earns a reward (popcorn) for good behavior or reaching a class goal, but the teacher isn’t sure if it’s gluten-free. My son gets a bag of popcorn or chips out of the gluten-free package.
- The teacher creates a project that involves building something with pretzels or crackers, but forgets to tell us in advance. My daughter gets out her gluten-free pretzels or crackers to use instead.
- My daughter’s snack or lunch didn’t make it to school and the cafeteria doesn’t offer anything gluten-free. My daughter can eat from her GF care package if I’m unable to bring it to school.
- It is perhaps unlikely, but should an emergency situation arise and the school is on lock-down, I know my kids will have something they can eat without getting sick.
What’s in a Gluten-Free Care Package? I like to choose self-contained, single-serve, small packages of gluten-free items that won’t spoil in the teacher’s cabinet or desk. I also try to present it to the teacher in a small container that is easy for them to store. A large zip-style bag, or medium size plastic container clearly labeled Gluten-Free for my son or daughter seems to work well. Here are some items that we have used for this purpose:
- Midel, S’mores cookies
- Pamela’s 2-Count Cookie Packs: Chocolate Chunk Pecan Shortbread and Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip
- Pebbles Treats Fruity Pebbles variety and Cocoa Pebbles variety
- Schar Chocolate Hazelnut Bars
- Schar Sandwich Creme Cookies (2 cookies in each package) Vanilla Creme variety and Chocolate Creme variety
- Surf Sweets Gummy Bear Snack Packs
- Ener-G Foods Pretzel Rings
- FoodShouldTasteGood Multigrain Tortilla Chips
- Glutino Pretzel Twists Snack Packs
- Pirate’s Booty
- Schar Gluten Free Snack Crackers These come in a box of 6 individual packs. Each pack contains 8 crackers.
- Smartfood White Cheddar Popcorn (Be careful! We have not experienced any problems with this product, however it is not guaranteed gluten-free. According to Frito-Lay, there are no gluten ingredients in this product. Unfortunately, they do no currently test these for traces of gluten.)
- Annie’s Homegrown Bunny Fruit Snacks
- Ocean Spray Craisins 100-calorie Packs
- Simply Fruit Fruit Rollups
Rice, Granola, or Energy Bars:
- Bakery On Main Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Granola Bars
- Can Do Kid Bars
- EnviroKidz Peanut Choco Drizzle Crispy Rice Bars
Communicate with the teacher! It’s been my experience that most teachers are familiar and comfortable with this arrangement. However, I strongly suggest that you discuss it with the teacher before sending a small care package of food to school. This may not work in all classrooms or for all teachers. Along with the package of food that I provide to the teacher, I like to attach a brief note to remind the teacher what it is for, and to please let me know if at any time during the year it needs to be replenished.
Make it easy on yourself. Our family is fortunate to live in an area with gluten-free snack items available at our grocery stores. If this isn’t the case for you, you can order some items online. A single box of the Schar sandwich cookies with your student’s name clearly written on it would do the trick. Or, perhaps a small bag of your child’s favorite candy would work for you.
More occasions to use a gluten-free care package. All of these items would also be great gluten-free additions for a gluten-free lunch, a gift to send to college students, and for a travel pack.
Do you do something similar? Please feel free to add any other ideas in the comments.