Sunday, January 26, 2014

Black Bean Flourless Brownies

Yes, you read that correctly.  Beans and chocolate.  All right, all right, all right!  Bizarre combo...maybe.  Does it work..absolutely!  For the cynics....there will be no bean flavor in this chocolatey goodness.  My daughter gobbled these up, and when I tried to tell her I made them using black beans, she laughed and thought I was joking.

You might be skeptical, but I promise you, you will not be disappointed, and you will amaze your friends!  Just don't tell them until after they try them.

Black Bean Flourless Brownies

1 can of black beans (drained and rinsed)
2 eggs
3 tablespoon grapeseed oil (or other vegetable oil)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/3 cup raw sugar
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
handful of chocolate chips for topping

Preheat oven to 350F and lightly grease an 8x8 baking dish;

Place all ingredients, except the chocolate chips in a food processor, and blend until smooth;

Pour batter into greased baking dish, and top with chocolate chips;

Bake for 30 minutes or until a toothpick/knife comes out clean from the center;

Let cool on a cooling rack for 30 minutes before serving.

Don't say I didn't warn you. These brownies are yum!

Can you trust it?

Having celiac, trust is something I think about often.

Can I trust the local taqueria where I have eaten countless times, to get it right again?

Can I trust my friend who vowed they only used gluten-free ingredients?

Can I trust the gluten-free items sold at the local farmers market without a list of ingredients attached?

Can I trust the caterer who says he is knowledgeable in the gluten-free diet?

Hmm......this is a tough one.  After several years with celiac, I have decided the risk is not worth getting sick.  I will avoid most situations to avoid that horrible feeling that happens after I accidentally ingest gluten...or the vomit extravaganza that is sure to follow.  Not to mention the damage it is doing to my body.  Not worth it!

It can quickly become a sticky situation, because you don't want to offend people, yet your health has to come before other's feelings.  I am sure I have insulted friends and family who really tried to go out of their way for me, but at the end of the day.....I can deal with that. What I cannot deal with is getting sick, and then not being able to function for my family, or myself.

You may ask...."why would my friends be offended if they know I have celiac, they should be understanding, right?"  Yes, you would think this, and I really do hate to hurt someone's feelings or make them feel like their efforts were not worth it, but let's look at a few examples, and then you tell me how you would handle it...

1. Dinner at friend's house.  They talk to you beforehand about what you can/can't eat.  When you arrive, they tell you they researched it, and are so proud of the efforts they made so you could all eat the same thing.  You then ask the prerequisite questions about what ingredients were used down to the spices.  Unfortunately, you find out they missed one.  They used soy sauce.  They didn't know that was even a consideration for containing gluten.  You thank them profusely for trying, but politely decline the soy sauce laden item.  You know your friend feels awful, but what can you do?

2. Friend bakes special treat just for you.  You have a friend who is excited to try out the gluten-free diet themselves, so they start experimenting with new recipes and alternative flours.  They tell you they came up with this fabulous new treat, it only contains X flour.  It sounds safe.  But you also know this person handles a lot of gluten in their kitchen on a daily basis, and don't feel completely safe eating something made in that environment.  They are excited to try the gluten-free diet, but they won't suffer if they make a mistake. You will.  You are grateful for their effort, but again...what do you do?

3. Dinner party catered by a someone knowledgeable in allergies/gluten-free diet.  A close friend organizes a dinner party, and instead of cooking the food themselves, hires a caterer.  Friend knows there are various allergies and dietary needs, so feels this will be best solution  in handling that situation.  After arriving, you talk to caterer personally, and he tells you the ingredients in everything he made, and points out what is safe.  Seems to be knowledgable.  Then we get to desserts and caterer points out the gluten-free items...yet, they sit on the same plate as the gluten-filled items.  You try to just avoid the dessert area, but eventually the caterer brings them to you and asks you to try them. You tell caterer you don't feel comfortable about them being on the same plate.  Caterer tells you to take one from the middle of the gluten-free side.  You still don't feel comfortable.  If serving them was not handled properly, what else was not handled properly the kitchen when preparing them?  You continued to decline and the caterer was clearly annoyed.  What would you do?

I am sure the I could come up with endless examples, but these are some situations that stick out from recent months.

What sticky situations have you encountered?

Friday, November 22, 2013

Gluten-Free Hostility

A fellow gluten-free blogger, GlutenDude, wrote a very timely post that I just had to share.  I have to admit, I was never really a Jimmy Fallon fan, and now even less so.  And, I will also admit that many times when I see gluten-free mentioned in TV shows or movies, I think it is kind of funny too.....but not this time. It was just a stupid skit all around.

I have heard, before, of people speaking about the negative remarks they receive from people when they know they are gluten-free, but I have never personally experienced that...until yesterday.  Sure, I have had friends that are not really aware and are skeptical, but I have never come across someone with such clear hostility and anger toward me about it.  I was shocked, confused and mostly hurt.

I really don't like to write anything negative about anyone, especially someone in my real life, so to avoid any hurt feelings (though mine have been hurt), I will try to write this as anonymously and in general terms as possible.

At an event yesterday which centered around food (don't they all), my friend, who I will call H, offered to bring a gluten-free version of what he was bringing.  He works in the food industry and knew the people cooking would prepare it properly.  When the food arrived and I saw it, I was so excited, because honestly, I never expect to eat at events that center around food, because it usually isn't safe.  I would rather eat before, or after and do without...because the consequences of getting just a little bit of gluten would ruin my night and have me puking for hours.  Not really a run way to spend the evening.

I suggested that I would take some of the food before others handled it because I didn't want to worry about cross-contamination from shared utensils.  And you know how sketchy things can get in a buffet situation, which is usually a scenario I steer clear of....unless it is an Indian buffet!  H hands me a serving spoon, which I saw was just used on something fried and not gluten-free.  I told H I was going to go get a fork, because I couldn't use the same serving spoon.  Well, the reaction I received was overwhelming....H told me that he had no other serving utensil and rolled his eyes like I had asked for a bag full of crisp hundred dollar bills.. I said, that was OK, I was going to get a fork....and I did!  But, while I did, I overheard H talking to a mutual friend standing next to him about how this was all bullshit and ridiculous.  I didn't know what to do.....part of me was so hurt I was near tears, and part of me was so angry at someone being so insensitive.  Someone who I thought I knew well.  If I had a peanut allergy would he of reacted the same way?

I always try to be super polite about my needs and any accommodations someone makes for me, and I never go into a social situation assuming there will be something for me.  After almost 5 years, I am fine with going to a social event and not eating.  It was difficult at first, but I am fine now.  I know my comfort level, and I know what will happen if I take chances...never worth it!

At the end of the night H asks me to take the plate of gluten-free food he brought. It was quite a lot of food, so I asked if maybe some other people would want to bring some home as well.  He rolled his eyes and told me no one wants the gluten-free food.  What?? This is food that is naturally gluten-free unless you add something why would someone not want it?  There was no flour in it, nothing in it to make it taste different, and he was just so sure no one would want this food.  In the end, I found plenty of takers.  No one cared if it was gluten-free or not.

Would this person of been so hurtful if someone with a peanut allergy told him they could not use the same spoon.  Why do people have to be so negative?

Have you had an experience like this?  Do you think awareness will help, or are some people just forever closed off to thinking it is a big deal?

Monday, November 18, 2013

Giveaway: Glutino Peppermint Yogurt Covered Pretzels

First, let me say, I love all things peppermint, and I love the holidays!  I am one of those people that want to put my decorations up right now!  When I feel a chill in the air, I am ready to snuggle up to Love Actually, and a mug of Mexican hot chocolate with a sprinkling of crushed peppermint on top.

I even bought extra candy canes last year, just so I could crush them in my food processor and enjoy "peppermint sugar" year round.  So, when these babies arrived in the mail today from Glutino, I almost could not not contain myself. It took major self control to wait the hour I had, to pick my daughter up at school, so we could enjoy the first bite together.

Glutino yogurt covered pretzels are already one of my favorite snacks...add peppermint to them, and I will follow you anywhere.  They were even better than I could have imagined, a total treat! You cannot eat just 1, or 20!  My daughter loved them just as much, and I have had to put a couple away in the corner out of reach, just so my husband can try them when he gets home from work.  But really, I am the one with celiac in my family, so I am allowed to inhale all of the gluten-free goodies that come my way, right?

So, because I am so enamored with this savory, sweet minty treat, I asked Glutino if I could give some away to a fellow gluten-free eater out there.  To enter this giveaway of 2 bags of gluten-free Glutino Peppermint Yogurt Covered Pretzels please leave a comment below about your favorite holiday treat with your email (or how else will I be able to get these sent to you), and tweet about this giveaway on Twitter, with a link to this post.

I will draw a winner, at random, on Friday, November 22nd at 10pm.

Good luck, you will not be disappointed!

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Giveaway: Glutino Corn Bread Stuffing

A fun, new giveaway!

Who doesn't like free stuff, and really...who doesn't like stuffing...especially corn bread stuffing! It doesn't need to be a holiday, stuffing can be a fun side anytime. Gosh, I could probably eat an entire bowl of it for lunch, or who am I kidding, I could eat an entire bowl just because any time of the day, any time of the year.

So, when Glutino sent me a box of their gluten-free corn bread to sample, I made it immediately.  The stuffing is already formed into bread crumbs, and includes all of the herbs and seasonings needed. All you need to add is oil, onion, celery, broth and 2 eggs.  I served it as a side with our dinner and gravy, it has a great homemade flavor, and was hit with my family

Corn bread stuffing makes a perfect side for the holidays, especially when you don't have time to make corn bread from scratch. This is a quick and tasty solution, and you can easily serve this to your friends and family that don't eat gluten-free, and I bet they won't know the difference.

This also makes a great solution if you are traveling for the holidays, or spending the holidays at someone's who is not gluten-free, and you want to be able to prepare something away from home without making a mess or needing many ingredients, or having to look for gluten-free flours in a place where you are not familiar.

The stuffing is only available seasonally, so supplies are limited, and is available anywhere Glutino is sold.

Glutino and I would love to give 2 winners a box of their very own cornbread stuffing to try.

Please leave a comment below and tell about your favorite side at Thanksgiving.  Also, and very important, please leave your email (this is important, otherwise, I an unable to contact you and let you know that you won).

This giveaway will be open until Friday, November 8th, and I will draw 2 random winners and announce them that night.

Good luck!