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Lemon Raspberry Muffins – From Beth

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One year ago, Katie’s and my friend, Shea, delivered her third beautiful baby girl.  While I visited with her at the hospital, she mentioned that she was hungry and her husband offered to get her something from the hospital cafe.  He suggested several possibilities to her, among them different kinds of muffins.  I know, MUFFINS!  One of the kinds of muffins he mentioned was lemon-raspberry.  That was it!  My mind was fixated on the thought of lemon-raspberry muffins.  I had never had one before, in fact, I’d never even heard of that combination but the idea immediately captivated me.  So, after I got home, I set about creating a recipe for them.  I started with a lemon-poppyseed recipe from Gluten-Free Baking Classics, and tweaked and adjusted it to my tastes.  It is now my favorite muffin and, I have to add, my daughter who is not gluten-free is jealous of those muffins.  The gluten-free products in our home are reserved for Matthew and I, due to the cost and labor involved in keeping us supplied with food.  So, every now and then, I have to make up a batch of non-gluten-free muffins for her.

When I make these, I use frozen raspberries, because I found that fresh ones were to delicate to stir into the batter without breaking them to pieces.  Even with frozen ones, you have to be careful to stir gently so you don’t just end up with pink batter.

I hope you enjoy these as much as we do.  And happy birthday, Baby “A-B”!

Lemon-Raspberry Muffins

2 Cups Brown Rice Flour Mix
2 tsp. baking powder
¾ tsp. xanthan gum
½ tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. grated lemon peel (I use what I can get from one good-sized lemon)
1 Cup sugar
½ Cup + 2 Tbsp. canola oil
3 large eggs
1 tsp. lemon extract
¾ Cup milk
2 Cups frozen raspberries

1 Cup powdered sugar
Juice of one lemon

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray muffin tin with non-stick spray.
  2. Mix flour, baking powder, xanthan gum, salt, and lemon rind in bowl.
  3. In mixing bowl, combine sugar, oil, eggs, lemon extract then add milk.  Beat for 1 minute.  Add flour mixture to bowl and mix until blended.  Fold in raspberries by hand, just until mixed through batter.
  4. Divide batter between muffin cups and bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes, until toothpick comes out clean and muffins are slightly browned. With frozen berries, it could take a little longer.
  5. Remove from oven and allow to cool in tins.
  6. Mix powdered sugar and lemon juice and drizzle over muffins.  I allow the glaze to set, then wrap muffins individually in plastic wrap and place in a freezer bag in the freezer.

Breakfast – From Beth

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I don’t know about most of you, but when I had to make the switch to gluten-free, I found breakfast the most difficult meal to accommodate.  Maybe I should say instead that breakfast seemed to need far more gluten free changes or substitutions to what I used to eat.  Lunch and dinner either already had gluten free items or minor changes could be made to a recipe to make it gluten free.  But unless you’re on the Atkins diet or just love bacon and eggs every morning, breakfast seems to be made up of carbs.  You know, cold cereal, oatmeal, toast, pancakes, waffles, muffins, french toast, etc.  And I LOVE my carbs in the morning.  You know how some people need their morning coffee?  Well, make mine carbs!  As a matter of fact, I have always been a breakfast eater and for years, I started every day with a bowl of cereal.

So, my first and biggest challenge when I changed my diet was to find substitutions for regular breakfast items.  Of course, there are eggs and GF bacon or sausage, yogurt and such, but I needed substitutions for the carbs, and the items I could find at the store were either very expensive, not very good, or both.  Remember, I said we were food snobs.  That was probably the beginning of my baking craze.  I used to bake occasionally but now it’s a regular part of my housework.  And when I mix up a recipe of something for breakfast, I usually double it and freeze it.  My GF son doesn’t like to work too hard for his food, especially first thing in the morning, so having frozen items ready to be warmed up has been a lifesaver.  I should add though, in his defense, he is a really good cook and likes to find and make new recipes, but only when he has the time and is in the mood.

Anyway, in the course of expanding our breakfast options, I have started making my own granola (with GF oats and from my own recipe), several different kinds of muffins, Belgian waffles, and bread for toast or sometimes even breakfast casserole.  We have found Pamela’s to be our favorite store-bought mix for pancakes and Belgian waffles and as I said, when I make the waffles, I double the recipe and freeze the extras, which we pop into a toaster when we’re ready to eat them.  They’re actually even better after toasting them.  When I make pancakes, I usually add blueberries to them but my son likes cinnamon in his.  There are also several pretty good brands of GF bagels on the market but most of them are fairly expensive.  One brand I found that was good and not too expensive was “Forever Bagels”.

But of all the breakfast items I make, the one we eat the most of is muffins.  All kinds of muffins.  Funny story, when Matthew (my GF son) was five and went to school for the first time, I picked him up afterwards at the bus and he came right up to me in his typical enthusiastic fashion and told me that for a snack, they’d had muffins!  It was the highlight of the morning for him and we loved the story so much, that for years we called him “the Muffin Man”.  Little did we know that several years later, he really would be the muffin man!

Anyway, after a couple of years of making standard sized muffins and wrapping them individually, then freezing them in a freezer baggie and having Matthew go through a couple at a time (you know how teenage boys eat!) I decided to buy large muffin tins and so now I make giant muffins.  Usually, doubling the recipe makes the muffins too big for the cups, so I went to 1 ½ recipes per baking.  Now, I have less wrapping after baking and we eat only one larger muffin for breakfast.  I’ve already shared my blueberry muffin recipe and Katie has already shared the pumpkin muffin recipe, in which I always substitute honey for molasses.  In following posts, I’ll share some other recipes.

Blueberry Muffins – From Beth

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It’s blueberry season here in southwest Michigan. If you don’t live here, or some other place where blueberries are grown, you can’t imagine how big blueberries can be and how wonderful it is to be able to pick or buy fresh ones. Every summer, I buy 30-40 pounds of them, rinse them and let them dry, and then freeze them in quart-size baggies. This is one of the reasons I have a large chest freezer as well as two refrigerator/freezers. Canning produce isn’t something I’ve ever done, but I do freeze some fruits. My family goes through a lot of blueberries and strawberries (which we also freeze) throughout the year. We, and by we, I mean (usually) me, make blueberry cobbler, put blueberries and strawberries on Belgian waffles, but mostly, I make loads of blueberry muffins. It’s the first kind of muffin I started making when I went GF and is still one of our favorites. Some other time I’ll tell you the “muffin story” but for now, I’ll just share my recipe for blueberry muffins. If you can get a hold of fresh blueberries, I would highly recommend it. After eating and cooking with local berries, it’s hard to go back to the frozen ones you can buy in the store. They’re so puny!

I should start by saying here that the basis for this recipe comes from “Gluten-Free Baking Classics” by Annalise Roberts, but I have tweaked it to my tastes. When I refer to the “brown rice flour mix”, it is the same one that Katie has mentioned before. I REALLY believe in using the superfine ground brown rice flour that is made by Authentic Foods. The texture of the baked goods is just like non-GF products, not grainy like most rice flours are.

Blueberry Muffins

2 cups brown rice flour mix
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1 TBSP baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
¾ tsp xanthan gum
¼ tsp salt
1 ½ cups fresh or frozen blueberries (I use frozen right from the freezer since I wash them before freezing. It takes a bit longer for baking but when stirring them in, they don’t mush up in this very thick batter.)
½ cup milk
½ cup + 2 TBSP canola oil
2 large eggs
½ tsp pure vanilla extract

Streusel topping:
½ cup brown rice flour mix
½ cup brown sugar
½ tsp cinnamon
3-4 TBSP melted butter

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Spray muffin tins with non-stick spray.
  2. Mix flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, xanthan gum, and salt in mixing bowl.
  3. Add in milk, oil, eggs and vanilla and mix until blended.  Batter will be very thick.
  4. Stir in blueberries.
  5. Fill muffin tins 2/3 full.
  6. For streusel topping, mix ½ cup flour mix, brown sugar, and cinnamon.  Stir in melted butter and sprinkle over batter in muffin tins.  I like to press the streusel into the batter a bit so that after baking, it doesn’t flake off.
  7. Bake 18-25 minutes (longer if using frozen berries).  Test with toothpick to see if centers are done.
  8. Cool in pans then remove to cooling rack.

Gluten Free Restaurants – From Beth

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Today is my birthday!  I won’t tell you how old I am.  Let’s just say, old enough.  The reason I even mention my birthday is that I went out for “birthday lunch” with my husband and kids.  This was the best time to get all of us together, with everyone’s work schedules.  We don’t go out to eat very often as a whole family for a few reasons, one of which is that feeding a family of six with four teenagers is not cheap!  But probably the biggest reason is the whole “gluten-free” thing.  It’s just harder to find restaurants that offer something Matthew and I can eat or that understand what gluten-free is and about cross-contamination.  This is one of the reasons I have become so busy developing special dishes and meals at home.  Not that I didn’t love food and cooking before becoming gluten-free.  I just have a greater need and incentive now.  If there is some restaurant meal I used to love that isn’t a GF item, I have tried to create a substitute at home.  As you can see, I really don’t like to “go without”.

So, back to “going out”.  I thought I’d share what we do about eating out now.  First, I’ve discovered that the nicer the restaurant, especially if they have an actual chef, the better my chances are of having  them not only understand the GF diet but also how to accommodate it.  Many of them “cook to order” so they can alter the preparation of some of the dishes to make them GF.  And with the increasing awareness of the GF diet in the public, many have GF pasta available to substitute in pasta dishes, as well as other GF options.  One of my favorite local restaurants in the Kalamazoo area is Bravo.  They have several menu items that are GF, can adapt others and carry GF pasta.  They also have the BEST mushroom soup in the world!  GF, of course!  A few others that we’ve eaten at locally are Oakwood BistroMartell’s and hopefully soon, Mangia Mangia (who I’ve contacted and they also have GF pasta).

Family restaurants are a little harder because they are often chain restaurants with untrained cooks in the kitchen, but we’ve had good success with Carrabbas and Outback, which are owned by the same company and are on the gluten free registry of restaurants.  They both offer a separate GF menu.  Yay for them!!  Also, Applebee’s now has a list of GF menu items available online but I haven’t tried them so I’m not sure how reliable or “clean” they are.

Fast food took the biggest hit for us, since it was the cheapest way to feed our hungry family when we wanted something easy.  McDonalds is out, Taco Bell too, but Wendy’s has several items that are GF and Arby’s has a few too.  We do get tired of the same things all the time though.  As Katie has already mentioned, Qdoba is a GF option and is a big favorite in our family, especially with Matthew, who thankfully, loves Mexican and never gets tired of it.  And recently, we’ve begun frequenting Noodles and Co., which has an allergen chart in the restaurants and online, with GF options and rice noodles to substitute for other pastas.  And though I haven’t tried them since being GF, Subway also posts GF dining options.

One other local place that has recently impressed and encouraged me was Big Joe’s Pizza and Subs.  The owner makes his own sausage (it’s GF), all the other meats are GF, he carries GF pizza crusts and his chicken salad is GF and quite good!  He talked with me for a while recently and he understands GF meal preparation.  The sausage was good and so was the pizza and I’m pretty picky about pizza!

It’s definitely easier now to eat out than it was even 3 ½ years ago when I first started this journey.  Let us know other places you’ve found to eat GF.

New Contributor – Beth

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BethFriends, I am so excited to introduce you to Beth! Beth is what I will call my “Gluten Free Mentor” and a huge blessing to my life. I am so pleased that she will be sharing her knowledge and delicious recipes with all of us on Embracing Gluten Free. I have learned so much from Beth and I know you will too!

She has started by sharing her Celiac and gluten free journey in Your Stories. I hope you will read her story and get to know her a bit! She is a lady full of knowledge and is an exceptional baker and cook. You can trust her tastebuds and I LOVE how she calls herself a “food snob” – I knew I could trust her recipes and advice from the get-go! 🙂

You can look forward to hearing from Beth monthly on Embracing Gluten Free. I can’t wait for you to see the first recipe she is planning to share with us! YUM!

Beth, I am so glad you are a contributor on the site and very happy to have you as my mentor and friend. Welcome!

Your Story – Beth

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Hi, my name is Beth and I’ve been GF for 3 ½ years.  I am married to a wonderful, supportive husband, Gary.  We have four children, two sons in college and a daughter and son in high school.  Unlike many  people who have celiac, I did not suffer digestive problems most of my life.  In fact, I could be classified as a “silent” celiac.  I still do not have pain when I accidentally get into gluten.  My story began about five years ago when I noticed that I was experiencing increasing “gassiness”.  It was gradual, and as I was getting older, I just attributed it to aging, with so many other things that happen as we age.  I had been diagnosed with osteoporosis two years earlier, while I was still in my early 40’s and premenopausal.  But the gassiness was becoming annoying, so I made an appointment with the only female GI doctor in town, who also happened to be my mother’s specialist.  This doctor is wonderful, accounting for the four month wait I had before I could see her.

Let me interject here, that I have a cousin on my father’s side who had sent a note to family members a few years earlier informing us that he had been diagnosed with celiac disease.  I had never heard of it (in spite of the fact that I was a retired nurse) and just out of curiosity at the time, I looked it up to find out about it.  So when I saw the specialist and was giving her a history, I mentioned having a cousin with celiac and asked if maybe I should be checked for it.  She told me that with my osteoporosis, celiac was the first thing she would check for, even if I didn’t have a relative with it.  My bloodwork came back positive for celiac and we went ahead and scheduled the endoscopy to confirm the diagnosis.

At that time, I told my mother about my testing and diagnosis and suggested she also be tested.  She’d had osteoporosis for several years and had recently had issues with low blood levels of Vitamin D.   She had the blood tests done and was also positive.  We had our endoscopies with duodenal biopsies two days apart the week of Thanksgiving, confirming celiac in both of us.  My mother-in -law was great about accommodating my new diet for Thanksgiving.  She made the gravy with corn starch instead of flour and the only things I couldn’t eat were the stuffing and dinner rolls!

The next step, according to my GI doctor, was to have my four children tested to see if they carried the gene(s) for celiac.  Those tests were done and sent off to California (at a fair expense) and the results came back that they ALL carried the gene.  On to the next round of tests, much to the chagrin of my daughter who was NOT happy about a second blood draw!  Anyway, they all had celiac panels done and the results showed that my second son, who was sixteen at the time, had celiac.  So, in the course of three months, I and two family members who were diagnosed with celiac disease.  And possibly more surprisingly, we were all “silent”, or in other words, didn’t exhibit the classic gastric distress that many celiacs spend years suffering from.

By the time my son was diagnosed, I had spent three months learning the ropes of the gluten-free diet for myself.  Well, that may be a little too optimistic.  I had, at least, become somewhat comfortable with shopping for gluten-free food and had begun my new life as an active baker of most things gluten-free.  Anyone who has been in the same place knows the incredible learning curve you face when you need to begin looking for gluten in everything you buy, cook and eat.  I think it helped him make the unwelcome adjustment of giving up many things he enjoyed, to have me cooking good substitutions.  I should mention that we are avowed food snobs, my son and I.  The rest of the family is too, to a certain degree, but of all my children, Matthew is the snobbiest.  So, he wasn’t happy with the frozen breads and waffles available at the local groceries and health food stores.  I have spent the last 3 ½ years adapting my old recipes, finding new GF recipes to replace beloved baked goods and experimenting with some of them to make them acceptable to us.  I hope that my experiences and accumulated knowledge can help some of you.