Adventures in Gluten (and Sugar) Freedom from a southern blogger chick!

Sunday, February 28, 2010

A recipe for success!

This past weekend,   The Gluten-Free Gurlz -- Jennifer Harris, Lori Pocock and I -- went to the Knoxville Celi-ACT vendor fair. It was a new endeavor for us, as this time, we were representing several gluten-free vendors as part of the trip. My longtime friend Sandy, a registered dietician and diabetes educator, joined us there, as she helped represent at one table, and we had a chance to catch up. 

Jennifer went last year with her beautiful Heather, and this year, we braved I-75 to make it to the fair. Jennifer helped the group start their fair last year, and it is closely modeled after her awesome fall Vendor fair in Atlanta. And I could really see the similarities.

I had a tremendous time at the fair, first, because I felt like I was surrounded by gluten-free friends.  It's gotten to the point that I now know a lot of the vendors, either in person or by email or Twitter. For instance Shelley Ritchie, the beautiful baker behind Moondance Heavenly Desserts, have exchanged phone calls and emails for a long time, but we finally met in person this weekend! And we knew each other on sight.  And Leah McGrath, the Ingles Supermarket Dietician, was also there -- I met her at Jennifer's Vendor Fair last fall. I thought it was funny that while she didn't remember me, she remembered the products I approached her about there.

There was something about the folks at the fair -- they seemed to be literally STARVING for information about gluten-free foods and products. And this seemed to transcend to the products they sampled. Unlike the Atlanta show, food at this show was all but gone by a little after 2 p.m. Jennifer and Lori saw their samples disappear in a little more than two hours! My little stress balls were gone in about an hour and a half, and my friend Sandy's bread samples were gone.  The lines snaked down the hall and around the tables, and we barely had time for a break from 11 a.m. til close.

As part of this, though, I was a little bit taken aback. I think the Vendors were really generous at the fair, in that some people left with four and five bags full of samples. I know I always leave the Atlanta fair with lots of samples, but all of them come at the end of the day, when the vendors all trade products and the volunteers are rewarded with samples for working. I met two woman in the elevator who each had three bags of goodies. I asked which one of them was gluten-free, and they admitted they were there with a friend to help her get samples. Maybe this is a sign of the need for more gluten-free goodies in Knoxville -- and maybe, for that reason, it's a GREAT reason to have this great vendor fair.

When it was over, all of us got samples from various vendors to bring home, too. I won two door prizes near the end, and I gave almost all of both to the woman who helped staff the nearby Udi's booth with Sandy. (I did snag a nifty Bob's Red Mill bag! and some cornbread mix). She had an adorable gluten-free son, and he was so sweet -- he hugged my neck when I gave him one of Shelley's chocolate chip GF cheesecakes!  They went home with bread mix, flour, quinoa, steel cut oats, two kinds of brownie mixes, and two Udi's blueberry muffins -- all that was left).

One thing here felt especially strange to me -- I didn't see or sample a national product I'd not seen or sampled before. Because there were FIVE grocery store chains represented, their was a broad assortment of things I'm used to seeing on the shelves.  But I was pleased to see this as well, since three of the grocery chains are national, mainstream chains (two of them in my vicinity!) 

I just wanted to tip my hat to the folks in Knoxville for this event. I had fun. I learned a lot. And most of all, I left with new gluten-free friends. It was a winner all around.

Much love,

Tuesday, February 16, 2010


I love Migas. 

I had Migas the first time I spent time in Austin, Texas, on the trip I call the "seal of approval" tour of the state. My sweet Randy went to THE University of Texas, and we spent a couple of days doing "old home week" in Austin a few summers ago.

At a Mom and Pop diner, I wanted to order a "traditional" Tex-Mex breakfast. Randy suggested Migas. I was hooked.

All Migas is is corn tortillas (fresh or leftover), scrambled eggs, cheese, and salsa with chopped onions, chilis, and maybe some meat. And best of all, it's a sort of "scramble the fridge" contents kind of dish.

It can be served with refried beans, more corn tortillas, and of course, with a side of meat.

As I researched this post, I discovered that Migas is commonly eaten by Catholics during Lent (which starts tomorrow). It's especially good on Meatless Fridays -- and it's also good for dinner, which is when I had it. The Spanish version is similar, but it might also use bread crumbs instead. (And it's not far from a Spanish Tortilla, which is cooked potatoes with eggs -- again, a delicious, humble dish).

I adapted this recipe for Migas from Grandma's Cookbook, eliminating the items that aren't readily hanging around the kitchen. After all, Migas is a food that is a humble platform for leftovers. Sure, you can make it fresh and sassy, but why not make it with you have on hand?

Oh, one other very important thing: I used a very special Chimayo Red Chile corn tortilla flatbread in this recipe, and I think it made it absolutely delicious. You see, I had them on hand....jump on over to Ging Recommends! when you have a few and see more recipes using this amazing flatbread!

1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 6-inch corn tortillas, torn into small pieces
1/4 cup finely chopped white onion
4 large eggs
1/3 cup salsa (your favorite, but it should be gluten free, of course, and chunky -- at the heat level of your choice)
1 medium tomato, seeds and pulp removed, chopped
2/3 cup grated sharp cheddar, cheddar jack, pepper jack,  or plain old  jack cheese, or combination!  Also can use cubes of cream cheese (about two ounces). (I used a Mexican blend with jalepenos and cream cheese).
Four ounces of sausage, hot or mild, cooked and crumbled (optional)
chopped cilantro, crema or sour cream,  cup chopped avocado, sprinkled with a little lemon juice


If you're using meat, cook it and set it aside so it stays warm. (I used two microwave sausage patties in this and it was great).

In a small bowl, lightly beat together the eggs and salsa, and set aside.

Warm the butter and olive oil in a heavy skillet. Add the tortilla pieces and sauté until softened. Add the chopped onion and sauté until it is transparent. 

Pour the egg mixture into the pan and stir lightly to combine.  Cook until the eggs are soft scrambled, then add the cheese and stir briefly to melt. Don't let them cook too hard!

Serve at once with warm flour tortillas. Garnish with additional salsa and crema or sour cream. 

Supposed to serve two, but not if you're hungry!

Much love, and more MIGAS!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Lori's Beautiful Birthday Cake, and Gluten-Free Tea at the Four Seasons

I admit it. To quote the lovely birthday present my friends Marilyn Santulli and her beautiful daughter, Meredith Dahle gave me,

"Always Remember You are Loved and Blessed."

This post is a testimony to the goodness in the gluten-free world. I am surrounded and blessed by it. (Please note: this is in no way a paid endorsement. It's about the spirit of a celebration.)

I had a wonderful almost birthday weekend with my family and my gluten-free friends this past weekend. I met Marilyn and Meredith at the American Gra-Frutti headquarters (look for a tour post soon) and we went to lunch. They showered me with lovely American Gra-Frutti treats for my birthday, and I've been enjoying them all week! (more about that tour and the amazing refined sugar-free products by the amazing Marilyn in an upcoming post).

The highlight of my weekend was a long-anticipated lunch with the Gluten-free Gurlz, Jennifer D. Harris and Lori Pocock, at the Park 75 Restaurant in the Four Seasons Hotel Atlanta This is destination gluten-free dining at its best. I am sure this is available at any of this establishment's fine locations.

What I didn't know prior to the event was that Jennifer had made arrangements to have an entirely gluten-free tea service with sandwiches on Udi's Gluten Free Whole Grain Bread. And Lori and Jennifer had gotten together Friday night to bake me a marvelous gluten-free coconut cake.

I was so surprised, I was in tears.

Here's a pic of Jennifer with the tea service. Isn't it beautiful (so is she!) I honestly haven't had little tea sandwiches in almost three years -- and who could tell they were gluten-free? And what a magnificent person Chef Robert is, because he didn't mind using our bread at all. That's a credit to Jennifer's planning and thoughtfulness. The egg salad tasted just like my Mama's egg salad -- a dish and a memory of her I needed Saturday, when I was among caring friends. Curried Chicken Salad. Smoked Salmon. Cucumber Dill. I have to admit, I scarfed down a GF currant scone and a half and sandwiches, totally neglecting the bottom plate full of beautiful chocolate goodies (but I took a few pieces home. I also ordered some of their wonderful GF Lobster Chili to go.)

Here's Lori, enjoying her hamburger on Udi's. I was surprised Lori didn't have the Tea Service, but a few minutes later I knew why.

Our server brought out Lori's Beautiful Birthday Cake. Coconut. My favorite. Then I find out they'd consulted my sweet Randy for suggestions.

I asked Lori to write \ about the cake, it was so beautiful and delicious. I wanted you all to have the chance to make a Beautiful Birthday Cake.

Here’s the recipe for Ginger’s Yellow Cake with Coconut Frosting

My GF gal pal Ginger has a birthday this week so Ginger, Jennifer (JGF) and I met to celebrate at the Four Seasons Hotel Saturday. Of course, no birthday is complete without a birthday cake and candles so we brought one with us. Ginger’s husband suggested yellow cake with coconut icing as one of Ginger’s favorites. So here it goes for a semi-homemade cake. Oh – and because I liked Ginger so much, I did NOT sing for her – I keep my friends much better that way.


Bob’s Red Mill GF Yellow Cake Mix – prepare according to package directions for 2 8-or 9-inch layer pans. The only substitution was that I used light coconut milk in place of the water. I think next time I will add in ½ to 2/3 cup of coconut. Let the layers cool completely (which I have learned the hard way in life!!)


2 sticks salted butter
2 pounds powdered sugar
Light Coconut Milk (this makes it dairy free – you can alsouse any variety milk or cream that you have)
About ¼ teaspoon salt (this cuts the sweetness a bit)
About 1 ½ teaspoon Vanilla (to taste)

Flaked Coconut

Soften the butter, then mix on medium for about a minute. Stop the mixer, put in the powdered sugar, vanilla and salt. Add milk about 2 tablespoons of milk / coconut milk and put the mixer on the slowest speed. Gradually add milk until the frosting is a spreadable consistency. If you want chocolate frosting, add cocoa powder to make it aschocolately as you want. This frosting will nicely ice a 2 layer cake. It can also be easily made into peppermint, lemon, orange or whatever flavor is needed.

Set the first layer on the plate and frost the top. Put the second layer on, and start frosting the sides, then finish with the top of the cake. While the frosting is still wet, press the flaked coconut around the sides of the cake. Decorate the top as you like, or just sprinkle more coconut on top.

I like to make this the day before or early in the morning if it is being served at night so that the icing has time to set up in the fridge – especially if I have to take the cake with me. Enjoy with friends.

and we did. Look at this!

There was delicious tea, fun conversation, plans for the future, and presents -- GLEE Season One, a beautiful loaf of gluten-free bread and a beautiful scarf. We ended the afternoon with a shopping excursion and vitamin samples.

Special shoutout and thanks to Marvin Booker, the assistant manager of the restaurant, who took exquisite care of us. We had a thoughtful, attentive server, but how lucky we were to have the manager at our side! Imagine.

I know we're going to have a lot of fun at our next Gluten-Free Gurlz birthday gathering next month, when Jennifer turns a birthday with a zero in it.

That night, as I shared another birthday dinner with my Daddy, Mary and Jeffrey, we had a second slice of that luscious cake. And I had to freeze the rest, lest my blood sugar climb to the stratosphere.

But you know what? It was worth every bite.

Much love, and much love to the Gurlz!

Monday, February 8, 2010

News from The Gluten Free Certification Program

This is NOT a product endorsement blog. Instead, it is my way of saying THANK YOU to the companies that care enough about the Gluten-Free community to pursue this Gluten Free Certification Program through the GFCO.

This is not a paid endorsement, either. But Thank you GOD that there are companies out there who care.

For Immediate Release

Gluten Free Certification Organization Announces biggest week in history.

What a week for the Gluten Free Certification Organization!!
We are thrilled to announce the recent certification of the following brands from just this week!
Fage Dairy USA
Wellshire Farms
Conte's Pasta
Mary's Gone Crackers
Nana's Cookie Company
Fresh and Ready Foods

The Gluten Free Certification Organization (GFCO) was begun with the intentof making gluten free foods easy to identify for shoppers in grocery stores. Using our motto "Gluten Free That You Can Easily See," we have branched intothe industrial
ingredient market as well. In January, GFCO celebrated theCertification of our 100th company as our Certified Product List grew toover 4,000 products in the USA, Canada, Mexico, Switzerland, Thailand,England, Japan, Israel and Germany combined.

Strict standards and regulation of the Gluten Free CertificationOrganization have kept our program at the top in the gluten free market andhas brought the reputation of our program to the attention of the FDA, Supermarket Guru, national and local news groups and reporting agencies andmost importantly, gluten free consumers.

We are proud to announce the recent certification of these companies and look forward to presenting more new companies in the near future.For more information on the Gluten Free Certification Organization or the companies and products we certify, please visit

Channon Quinn
Director of Industry Programs
Gluten Intolerance Group
(253) 218-2957

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Spinach Dip the Gluten-Free Way

(don't look for a picture. You know what spinach dip looks like!)

I got this recipe for Spinach Dip before Spinach Dip was cool -- in 1985! I served gallons of it at an auction where I was the volunteer kitchen help -- and I HAD to have the recipe. Of course, years later, we discovered a way with Knorr Soup, and no one made it FreSH way any more.

But I do.

I think it's so good, I submitted it the other day to a request from Little did I know it was a contest....But yes, this is the dip referred to at the end of the Chicken Wings video on (click on the video...I'm mentioned way at the end....)

Anyway. With Super Bowl Sunday coming up, not to mention all those spring and summer occasions, try this. You do not have to use the packaged GF soup mix any more.

Spinach Dip

No soup mix for me!

2 boxes of frozen spinach thawed and well drained (squeezed dry.)
Even the Barefoot Contessa uses boxed spinach, folks!

2 cup sour cream (light OK) (Dairy Substitute OK)

1 cup mayonnaise (regular is better, I use Duke's)

½ tsp lemon juice

½ small onion, shredded ( I use 3 T. (or more) Penzeys freeze fried shallots)

2T finely chopped fresh flat leaf parsley

2T chopped chives

2 green onions, chopped (I forgot this in my recipe submission!)

2 T. chopped tarragon

2T fresh dill

salt, pepper TO TASTE

1 T. garlic powder ( I use Mrs. Dash Garlic and herb, which is GF)

I can water chestnuts drained and coarsely chopped

Mix in advance, and let sit at least two hours.

Much love, and Happy Super Bowl!