Gluten Free Cereal Treats

Did you know that store bought rice cereal treats have malt or barley in the them?  Which is a problem for me. To learn more about this see why I’m barley free.

Rice cereals should be gluten free but many unfortunately are not. So I decided to make healthier gluten free cereal treats at home.

IMG_4783

Aldi’s has recently made new gluten free cereals so I combined two different types: brown rice and flax with chia.

IMG_4784

Also to change things up I  added dried apricots, blueberries, and cherries and white chocolate chips.

Here’s my recipe for Gluten Free Cereal Treats

IMG_4800

Ingredients:

1. 2 boxes of your choice of gluten free cereal; 9-10 oz. each or about 6-8 cups total

Note: make sure the cereal you buy is small and crunchy/hard in texture

2. 5-6 oz or about 2 cups of dried apricot

3. 5-6 oz or about 2 cups of dried blueberries/cherries or your choice of dried fruit

4. 1 1/2 -2 cups of while chocolate chips; depending how sweet you want it

Note: you can make this healthier by using yogurt chips

5. 2-3 cups mini marshmallows

6. 2 tsp salt

7. 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup butter

Note: you can exchange the butter for coconut oil for a healthier dessert

Instructions

1. Chop apricots, blueberries, and cherries

IMG_4787

2. Put dried fruit, cereal, and white chips into a large mixing bowl

IMG_4791

3. Grease two 9×11 pans

4. Heat butter in a small pot on low

5. Once the butter has softened add the marshmallows and salt

IMG_4795

6. Watch the marshmallow mixture on low and fold the butter/mallows together slowly with a spatula

7. Once the marshmallow mixture is completely melted pour into the cereal mixture

8. Mix with hand mixer or I used my kitchen aid mixer

IMG_4797

9. Once mixed, quickly place in pans, it is easiest to press down the gooey mix with greased hands or the back end of a large and wide spatula

10. Give the rice cereal treats time to cool in the fridge, once cool you can cut them into squares. Store the squares in a closed container in the fridge.

IMG_4802

My husband, who is not a huge fan of marshmallows thought these were much better then store bought or traditional rice cereal treats.

These were a perfect camping trip treat and easy summer snack boost.

Bread of the Month: English Muffins

This year I decided I am picking one new bread item per month to home-bake. If you have followed my blog for any length of time you will know that I love to bake but my baking had been mostly limited to desserts. It’s only within this past year I began to feel comfortable making dough items such as buns, rolls, pastries and our everyday lunch bread at home.

But Luke borrowed The Bread Bible from a co-worker and I was inspired. Although there are  many wonderful baked goodies out there many of them I cannot eat because of an allergy to barley for more see: Why I am barley free Part One . Much of the time I do not mind eating gluten-free even though I am not allergic to gluten. Still availability of gluten-free breads and baked goods is limited here in upstate NY and even if it is available I never know when/how I can get them.

This Bread Bible provides great fun new dessert to try but also includes easy recipes for basics I have not eaten in over a year like bagels, hamburger buns, sourdough bread, and english muffins.

IMG_2533

I have always loved english muffins they are so crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside. That is why they are great for toasting served with a little butter and jam or peanut butter and bananas. I  also think they make for great PB and J’s, breakfast sandwiches with fried eggs, or for eggs benedict. So for as you may have guess for January’s bread of the month I chose to make homemade English Muffins!

I was surprised at how easy the process was. Very similar in steps to our homemade bread recipe, all ingredients are combined after yeast has time to proof then the dough rises in a deep dished oiled pan for an hour.

IMG_2522

After the dough has had time to rise, it is rolled out to about a 1/2 in thick. To cut the muffin rounds I used one of our glasses.

IMG_2525IMG_2527

Once all the dough was cut into rounds I got out the large electric skillet and cooked/fried them on the oiled surface for about 10 minutes on each side then let them cool on a wire rack. I was surprised at how quickly the dough rose as it baked.

IMG_2530IMG_2531

So there you have it: homemade english muffins. They are crispy on the outside and soft and buttery on the inside. If I was to make them again I may try to work the dough less to add more fluff or rise. I would also probably add 1/2 C cornmeal to the dough recipe.

IMG_2533

I made a double batch and put most of them in the freezer; the rest went in the fridge. They serve as a great breakfast option along side our Greene’s gluten-free granola bars.

IMG_2537

So what is your favorite carb? Do you have a love for baking?

Greene’s Gluten-free Granola Bars

IMG_1376

On weekday mornings it’s just easiest to grab a breakfast bar and a cup of coffee when starting the day. But because I have food allergies to barley and tree nuts, finding a breakfast/granola bar that I can eat can be a challenge. Usually gluten-free bars create texture with tree nuts and bars without tree-nuts often have barley in them.

Unknown

I got accustomed to buying Luke a box of Cliff bars and myself a box of (one of the few “safe” flavors) Luna bars once every  two-weeks. But then Luke realized his Cliff bars were almost 300 calories each and loaded with Caffinene. Plus these boxes could cost upward to 11-12 dollars for only 10 bars (that is more than a dollar a piece!)

Unknown-1

With all that in mind I decided it was time to experiment with my own homemade gluten, barley, and tree-nute free granola/breakfast bars. The first batch was a little sugary and too sticky but by round three I had adjusted the ingredients and felt confident this was worth the time.

IMG_1384

This recipe will make approximately 20 bars (depending how you cut them). If  your recipe yields 20 bars then they will be only around 150-160 calories each!! Plus a whole batch will cost you less than five dollars! That is 25 cents or less per bar versus my 1.25 each from before!! It does create a few sticky dishes but I have been finding it is well worth the mess.

Even better this is a good basic recipe with plenty of room for changes and subsitutions. In the ingredients list I will mention some potential changes you can make, but be aware that substitutions may not change your portions but they are apt to change your calorie count.

Here’s how:

IMG_1350

Ingredients:

½ C honey

IMG_1351

1/3 C peanut butter

substitute: (you can use coconut oil, sunflower oil etc. or add more honey and remove the peanut butter if necessary)

IMG_1354

1 and 1/4 C rolled oats

IMG_1356

1and 1/4 C rice cereal

substitute: (you can use flavored chex, corn chex, crispix, etc. based on your allergies or lack there of)

IMG_1358

3/4 C peanuts

substitute: (you can use different tree-nuts if you not allergic, or seeds)

IMG_1360

3/4 C dried cranberries

Subsitute: (you can use any wide variety of dried fruits)

1/2 C white chips

Substitute: (you can use carob, semi-sweet, peanut butter, butterscotch-you name it)

IMG_1375

Instructions:

IMG_1363

-Heat the honey and peanut butter (or other liquid ingredients) in a small saucepan until combined. Here also you can add any spices or powdered protein etc.

IMG_1360

-While the honey and peanut butter heat, put oats, nuts, cereal, & cranberries in a large mixing bowl.

-Remove saucepan from heat.

IMG_1366

-Slowly add the honey PB mixture to the dry ingredients and mix well. (It is easiest with a mixer but it can be done by hand).

IMG_1368

-Once all ingredients are incorporated and cooled a little mix in the chips.

IMG_1371IMG_1369

-Spread mixture evenly in an 9×11 square pan pressing it down with the back of a spoon or spatula.

IMG_1379IMG_1380

-Let it cool (fastest to clear room in the fridge to place the pan).

-When cooled it will harden, cut into squares or bars.

IMG_1382

-Store in fridge.  I layer them in tupperware with foil between layers.

Then Enjoy!

As I mentioned before there is plenty of room for variation. How about a fall recipe: replacing peanut butter with pureed pumpkin, tree nuts with pumpkin seeds, and cranberries for raisins? Or what about winter recipe: replace peanut butter with a little nutella or chocolate syrup and mint extract?

Be creative! And let me know how your own recipes turn out!

What are your favorite granola bar ingredients? Flavors?

Barley-free living

Last month I shared with you my journey to discover I was allergic to barley. I also explained what it looks like to be married to a beer loving ex-bartender (See Barley-free means no beer right?)

IMG_2801

            When I shared about my allergy to my family, my grandmother told me her father is allergic to barley-Wow!  I didn’t know allergies went that far back genetically.

See the barley-allergy was probably always there, but latent until I was exposed to a large amount. On my trip to the Philippines in ’07 (see Part One) we drank something called Milo every morning instead of coffee. One of the main ingredients=barely. And while I was on prednisone and starting the new job (see The Conclusion) I was eating Cliff Bars every morning; their main grain=barley.

UnknownUnknown-1

My first step towards living barley-free was reading labels at the store for “barley”. I have grown up reading labels and asking questions because of my tree-nut allergy (that is a different story). But in addition to this, I also had to look  for “malt” or “malt flavoring”. This obviously includes malt based items like: beer, whoppers candy, malt shakes, or malt vinegar. But malt flavoring is common also in: soups,  protein/candy bars, cookies, brownies, and most cereals. Unlike my allergy to tree-nuts, I soon also learned my reaction to barley does not occur immediately. Three days after eating barley I will get a rash and/or itchy skin.

Unknownimages

If you remember Why I am barley free: The Conclusion the PA at the dermatologists said to me “Well fortunately barley is not in too many foods, so you should be ok” .  Boy was that misleading!

Because barley is in more foods than you know. The real shocker came a few months into barley-free living.

I went with Luke to the store to buy flour for homemade pizza (see Pizza a la Greene). Out of curiosity, I looked at the back of the all-purpose flour we picked up. Guess what?  Barley is a secondary ingredient to all-purpose flour! I proceeded to check every brand of flour in the store and even most of the organic flours contained organic barley!

images-3

That is when I realized this allergy would change my diet for life.  I began to eat gluten-free at all restaurants. And I now often fix gluten-free meals at home (as you know from some of my recipe posts).  So this means when I go out to eat I cannot have: hamburger/hot dog buns, pizza, sandwiches, croutons, or any other form of bread, (most) cookies, dough-nuts, anything breaded or fried, flour tortillas or pita bread, pies, or sauces or soups thicken with flour.

For all of my at-home baking I use Gold Medal Organic all-purpose flour or their whole wheat flour. As I left the grocery store that day with Luke I thought back to every Christmas season in which I felt sick to my stomach and got a headache. I now realize it wasn’t because I ate too many pieces of coffee cake or had too much sugar (although I probably did sometimes) but more so because of what I ate.

IMG_2570

What is  difficult about a barley-allergy is it not common.  I can have wheat and many other grains but it is a gamble to determine whether flour is safe or not.  If I am lucky ,when I read labels at the grocery store, the ingredients will say what the flour is enriched with. If it is enriched with chemicals and vitamins I’m fine, but often it is enriched with barley or it is not specifically labeled.

Still I have also found some wonderful exceptions.  Most pasta places use pure semolina, and cake flour doesn’t contain barley. So I was blessed at my wedding to be able to eat the same cake as everyone else.

IMG_0899

My wedding cake: bottom and top layer were chocolate with raspberries in a french creme and the middle layer was spice cake with a cream cheese filling

In the end, barley-free living has helped my skin cleared up. I’m not irritated, frustrated, distracted, or itchy (most of the time) and I can wear tank tops without a care. Healing from this has required time, prayer, sacrifice, and support from family and friends. You know who you are and thank you.

Have you been on a similar journey?
How have you learned to live with restrictions?
How have your family or friends helped you along the way?

Wait-barley free means no beer . . . Right? aka A Chemistry lesson for a Birthday present

So let me first answer the question:

Wait-barley free means no beer . . . Right?      

IMG_2801    

 This is the first thing people ask me when they find out about my allergy. It was hard news for my ex-bartender boyfriend (now husband) from the micro-brewing region of Oregon. Suddenly I could no longer enjoy a dark cold brew with him at a local pub.

When we go out to pubs now I am lucky if they serve hard cider. (My favorite by the way is Woodchuck) because sometimes wine just doesn’t pair as well with pub food.  Fortunately the gluten-free fad has grown like a wildfire.

Unfortunately many gluten-free beers taste like the cheap light stuff you might encounter at a college party.

One of the only gluten-free beers I have liked was at the Deschutes Brewery and Public House in Portland. We went there on our honeymoon and they have an amazing gluten-free menu (trust me and check it out!)

images

Inside the Portland Public House

Inside the Portland Public House

But getting that beer across the country is a little tough. The only other options widely available are Redbridge (Budwieser and I don’t like there regular beer so . ..  yea) or Omission.

images 2

On our honeymoon we also went to the Windmer Bros. Gasthaus Pub  because they listed two gluten-free beers (called Omission) and a gluten-free menu (the buffalo wings were pretty good). When they brought my beer to the table I read the label-it had barley in it! See they played with the chemicals and came up  a low gluten beer so it will not upset the stomach of someone with celliac’s disease.

images 1

So now what? Well I do have some half decent gluten-free beers at our local grocery store (all ambers) or  . . . someone can start a new hobby (now I’m getting to the birthday part)

My allergy is actually a good excuse for Luke to start a hobby one of his best friends had been doing for years: home brewing. So two Christmas’ ago Luke got a beer-making kit with plans to make homemade barley-free porters and stouts. But with a wedding, new job, and moving Luke hasn’t started up home brewing. . . yet.

Here we are: A chemistry lesson for a Birthday present:

So I took Luke for his birthday to Rohrbachs brewery and taproom in Rochester NY hoping it might help jumpstart his creativity.  We started our tour watching a video explaning the history of the brewery meanwhile Luke enjoying a few samples on tap (5 bucks for tour and 6 samples 🙂 ).

images 7

The taproom

The taproom

Then we were taken back to the brewery.  The tour was a full on chemistry lesson! I followed along as they explained the steps for making different beers the best I could, after the 5th step my mind began to drift-but not Luke. He was fully engaged-raising his hand as if back in chemistry class to ask specific questions. It was informal, informative, and best of all Luke loved it.

The tour

The tour

We then took some time to drive (I drove) around finding where the science museum,  parks, auditoriums, observatory etc. were since it was our first time downtown.

After we went to Rohrbach’s brewpub across town for dinner.

rorh2 image.cgi

We ordered off their traditional German Menu : Luke ate the sample plate of juicy sausages and sauerkraut while I had crispy potato pancakes with applesauce (can you say yum!). To drink I ordered their homemade root-beer. It was dark delicious dessert in a cup and amazingly I could taste the sasporilla!

And Luke, well he got another sampler of beer, this time of their speciality dark brews only on tap at their microbrewery.

And boy was he one happy birthday boy can you tell?

And boy was he one happy birthday boy can you tell?

Hopefully now that Luke has been inspired, the home-brewing will start soon . Don’t worry I’ll fill you as we go along.

Why I am Barley-free: The Conclusion

images

This is the conclusion to a three part blog about how I discovered my barley allergy. If you need to get caught up click on : Part One or Part Two.

I was discouraged and tired of the games by the fall of 2011. I didn’t feel the dermatologist and his team were listening to me .

In one meeting they explained to me that “dermatitis” was a generic term for some internal irritation causing an external reaction. That got my mom and I thinking. We asked if an allergy could be included in this list? They said yes.

So we requested another blood test-this time for allergies. Allergies run rampant in my family so why couldn’t it be an undiagnosed allergy resulting in a rash?

During all this, the dermatologists recognized my frustration and pulled a last resort move: putting me on prednisone. Prednisone it is a steroid (with a lot of side effects) and my type A personality doesn’t do well on steroids.

images

To add to this, October of 2011, I started my first career job teaching and substituting at a private English Language Institute. I was under a lot of stress and my skin began to break out on my neck and face. I was concerned about my students reaction to my appearance even though I tried to hide marks with make-up.

I scheduled an appointment, sooner than my check-up not only because the my skin had gotten worse but also  because the prednisone was making it impossible to sleep.

After assuring me the rash was not related to the prednisone they shared the results of my allergy test. As  they read the results I nodded: She said you are aware you are allergic to: mold?-yes, grass?-yes, cats?-yet, tree-nuts?-yes dust?-yes you have had hay-fever?-yes.

Then she said “barley?” and I said “excuse me?” I told her that was a new one. And her response: “Well fortunately barley is not in too many foods so you should be ok” (boy was that misleading! But that is another blog).

After announcing this, she looked at my charts and got very upset. I asked why? The person in charge of writing out my prescription had made a huge mistake: I was on more than double the prednisone I was supposed to be!!! No wonder I couldn’t sleep! After that appointment I never went back.

I began to wean myself off the steroid as they had instructed and started the journey to remove barley from my diet. As I did I discovered: it was the barley causing the skin problem all along! Such a simple issue that cost so much time, money, and frustration.

images 7

I am now barley-free it has required some adjustments to my diet, label reading at the grocery store, and limited the foods I eat out, but is well worth it-the puzzle was finally complete.

Any of you discover that final puzzle piece for yourself or with a family member?

Still in the middle of a frustrating puzzle?

Anyone else have similar accounts to share?

Why I am Barley-free: Part One

Everyone has their own stories on how they discovered a health issue or allergy. To me it is like a puzzle; some issues are short and quickly resolved like children’s puzzles. But for most people discovering a health issue or allergy it is like an advance jigsaw requiring many doctor’s visits and patient time.

Puzzle

This was true for discovering my Barley-allergy.

My puzzle began summer 2007. I went on an intensive 7-week global internship in which I lived out of a backpack. Although I faced many bug bites while in Guatemala I didn’t deal with skin problems until I went to the Philippines.  Almost over-night my legs were covered in bug bites.  These bites were more painful and itchy then any mosquito bite I had encountered. It was near impossible to get enough band-aids to cover them all-and I had no long pants with me.  I tried to avoid scratching them but would find myself tearing at them in my sleep.

Coral beach in the Philippines

Coral beach in the Philippines

The bites kept me from focusing, made me easily frustrated, and irritated. It wasn’t long before my legs began to feel warm and swollen. By the time we arrived a week later in Hong Kong my left foot had swollen to an unusual size and both ankles had become stiff. Movement such as the vibration of an escalator would cause shooting pain up my legs. The places where the bug bites had been became red and inflamed. Those on the team with medical experience did what they could to provide me with advice, some basic pain meds., and hydrogen peroxide.

Hong Kong skyline

Hong Kong skyline

On the trip back to the states I struggled to not limp, my legs were warm, and circulation was bad. On top of this I was running a fever.  I called my mom when we landed in Chicago and calmly told her she needed to schedule a Doctors appointment ASAP. I got the rest of my luggage and was bandaged up again before heading to Las Vegas where my parent’s would picked me up.

After a drive back home we went to the doctors. I was unsure what they would do considering I had been in a foreign country with different medical issues than most American Doctors see. He said I had a staff infection which was secondary to the bites. I was put on a 3 day steroid and then on antibiotics. The swelling went away and the bites marks became scars which eventually faded.

I thought that was the end of my health issues but it in reality it was just the beginning. . . .

To be continued-sorry for the suspense but this is a three parter.

Anyone else have fun-bug encounters while traveling?