Sunday, March 24, 2013

Iris in Bloom

Iris in Bloom
by Lisa M. Hamel
April 2011
Phoenix, Arizona

I chose this picture because it is very much in the painting style of Georgia O'Keefe, whom I adore.  It also seemed like the perfect choice for a fine spring day a week before Easter, especially since I took it my mom's backyard on Easter Sunday two years ago. I hope you like it as much as I do.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

GoPicnic Ready-to-Eat Meals

GoPicnic Ready-to-Eat Meals
think of them as the gluten-free answer to Lunchables

On a recent trip to CostCo, My husband and I were dawdling in the snack aisle, and I noticed a stack of these GoPicnic lunches. "Ready-to-eat? Shelf-stable? Wouldn't it be amazing if they were gluten-free as well?" I thought to myself. As I headed over to investigate, my husband pointed out the gluten-free label on the side of the box--I couldn't believe my eyes or my luck, and I knew then and there I would soon be blogging about this product.

What are they?
For about $10, you get a box containing 4 ready-to-eat meals--2 each of 2 varieties. The Hummus & Crackers lunches contain hummus dip, crackers, a fruit and nut mix, a seed mix, and a small piece of dark chocolate with sea salt. The Turkey Stick & Crunch lunches (which I seem to prefer) contain a turkey snack stick (similar to a Slim Jim, but better), barbeque Popchips, a seed and fruit mix, peel-a-part fruit, and a small piece of dark chocolate with rice crisps. Everything in the lunches is individually wrapped and free of gluten, high fructose corn syrup, trans fats, and added MSG. (Note: One fruit and nut mix includes peanuts.) As an added bonus, each lunch comes in its own small, cardboard box about the size of a good paperback, so they're highly portable.

Why do I care?
If your experience has been anything like mine, you probably recognize how amazing it is to have a cheap, portable, and complete gluten-free meal. At $2.50 a pop, these totally fit the bill.

Here is how I where I have utilized (and enjoyed) them so far:
  1. Quick, portable lunch for a crazy day at work High-stakes testing days are nightmares for educators like myself, so my friend and I took our lunches to a nearby hiking trail for some much-needed stress relief. My GoPicnic lunch was the perfect option for dining al fresco.
  2. A charitable lunch for two A week or two ago my friend Nicole and I decided to spend a few hours reorganizing the toy cupboards at our church (trust me, they needed it). I knew we would be at it for a while, so I brought two GoPicnic lunches, some fruit, and two water bottles. After a few hours of work, we had an impromptu picnic on the floor of our nursery classroom, and then got back to it.
  3. Road-trip insurance policy After 8 years of marriage, my husband finally managed to drag me into the wilderness to go camping. I initially brought several GoPicnic lunches for a back-up to campfire-cooking, and, although dinner went splendidly, I happily busted into a Hummus & Crackers lunch on the ride home. Mobile dining, anyone?
  4. Sure beats the mystery of a hospital cafeteria Yesterday, my husband and I spent the day at the hospital with my darling son, Brannon. Although he went in for a minor procedure, a scheduling delay lead to hours of waiting. By the time they took back to the surgery suite, I was exhausted, anxious, and ready for some easy-to-eat comfort food--enter GoPicnic Turkey Stick & Crunch! Man, I love these things.
Do they taste good? 
Yes, they taste good--whether you have celiac disease or not. I am personally delighted with them (obviously) but both Stephanie (anonymous friend mentioned in #1) and Nicole can attest to the deliciousness of these meals. Better yet, they leave you feeling satisified but not weighed down. Steph even plans to buy some to take hiking (she's very active and healthy that way). 

Are they nutritious?
I think they're pretty nutritious, too, but you can decide for yourself:
  • Turkey Stick & Crunch Ready-to-Eat Meal: 300 calories, 8 grams of protein, 3 grams (more nutritional info-scroll to the bottom)
  • Hummus & Crackers: 380 calories, 19 grams of protein (not a typo--19), 7 grams of fiber (more nutritional info-scroll to the bottom)
Where can I buy them?
I bought them in a pack of four (2 of each variety) at CostCo for about $10, which makes each lunch about $2.50. However, I couldn't find any information or links to the product on Costco website, so you'll need to check with your local store.

If there are no CostCo's nearby or your store doesn't carry it, check out the manufacturer's website, The prices are rather higher, but it offers a wide-variety of read-to-eat meals, including both gluten-containing and gluten-free options. Before you order, double-check that the items you're purchasing are gluten-free options.

Another option is using GoPicnic's store locator. Simply type in your zipcode, and the store locator will give you a list of stores nearby which sell GoPicnic products. Apparently, they are available in some Targets and in many airport gift shops!

If you find this product anywhere else--in-store or online--please post a comment and let us know!

Where would you take your GoPicnic lunch?
Share your answer in the comments area.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Don't mind me!

<a href="">Follow my blog with Bloglovin</a>

Just setting up a BlogLovin account--nothing to see here.

Monday, March 11, 2013


If you read any of the cross-contamination articles on my previous post, Keeping Your Kitchen Safe, you are probably as curious as I am about Toastabags. Essentially, they are a reusable, Teflon bag you slide your bread into before you put it in the toaster. The bread toasts as normal, but without coming in contact with all of those gluten-containing crumbs!

Here is a testimonial from the folks at Glutenfreeda

Here is a link to the US supplier's website (the bags are manufactured in the UK)

If you are brave enough to try it out--let me know how it goes. They aren't very expensive, so I may give them a whirl myself.

Keeping Your Kitchen Safe

Keeping Your Kitchen Safe
some easy tips to avoid cross-contamination at home

If your significant other is anything like my husband, he (or she) makes many sacrifices to help you stay gluten-free without losing all interest in eating. And if you are anything like me, the last thing you want to do is ask him (or her) to make one more sacrifice and make your kitchen entirely gluten-free. The good news? You may not have to. Implementing a few simple ideas may be enough to keep your kitchen safe and everyone in your house happy.

PROBLEM: Keeping gluten-free and traditional pasta separate Look at the picture below. Can you tell which pasta is gluten-free and which is made from traditional wheat flour? Neither can I.

Two are gluten-free, but which two?

SOLUTIONS: 1) Buy gluten-free pasta in unique shapes or colors For a unique shape, try penne (shown above), shells or fusili. For a stand-out color, look for spinach- or squash-flavored pastas, which will be naturally tinted green or orange. A new shape or unusual color may not impact taste, but it will give you confidence the next time you serve spaghetti. 2) Use an easy labeling system To help tell our pasta jars apart, I simply tied a colored ribbon to the ones containing gluten-free pasta. Simple, elegant, and easy.

An orange ribbon indicates "gluten-free,"
while clear glass containers keep me organized 

PROBLEM: Gluten sticks to my colander when I drain gluten-containing pasta

SOLUTIONS: 1) Always drain the gluten-free pasta first & scrub thoroughly I drain my gluten-free pasta and plate it up, and then I drain the gluten-containing stuff for my husband and son. When it is time to clean up, I submerge the colander in a pot or sinkful of hot water, and then scrub and rinse repeatedly. 2) Buy a gluten-free-only colander and make sure the rest of the family knows it's off-limits While you are at it, you may also want to consider buying a dedicated toaster and try to stick to non-porous utensils, like plastic. 

PROBLEM: Gluten-containing crumbs in my otherwise gluten-free margarine or jam

Which one would you dip your knife into?

SOLUTION: Buy one brand (or flavor) of margarine and jam for yourself and one for your gluten-eating loved ones When it comes to cross-contamination, it is always best to play it safe. While the above problem could also be solved by teaching every member of the household how to butter their toast without smearing whole-wheat crumbs into the container, it is a lot easier to say, "This is mine. Don't touch it." 

This seems to work best when the "hands-on" product is something the rest of the family loves (e.g. I eat peach and apricot jam, while my husband and sun revel in strawberry). As an added perk, I get to experiment with different flavors, and my husband never has a reason to complain.

Who says you have to share?

Hungry for More?
Check out these links to gluten-free cross-contamination articles

Keeping a Safe Gluten-Free Kitchen (Suzy Schurr, Celiac Central)
Cross-Contamination (Canadian Celiac Association)
Cross Contamination (Coeliac UK)
Ask the Celiac Expert: Q & A (Shelley Case, RD, Gluten Free Diet)

Have a great cross-contamination prevention tip? Leave a comment and pass it on!

Concerned about cross-contamination and looking for advice? Leave a comment and let me know how I can help. I'm here for you!

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Gluten-Free Cake-Mix Cookies

original recipe source

Gluten-Free Cake-Mix Cookies
makes approximately 2 1/2 dozen cookies

My crafty friend, Desiree, shared this wonderful recipe on her blog, Your Crafty Friend. The ingredients include 1 box of cake mix, 2 eggs, 1/2 cup of vegetable oil, and a small amount of sugar. Using just those four ingredients you can make up to three dozen cookies! I decided to be brave and tried the recipe using a gluten-free cake mix. It was a rousing success!

Ready to try it yourself? Make sure you follow the directions below, not the directions on the cake-mix box!

Start by collecting your ingredients:
  1. 1 box of gluten-free cake mix (I used Betty Crocker Devil's Food Cake Mix, Gluten-Free)
  2. 2 eggs
  3. 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  4. sugar to roll the cookies in (Desiree@YourCraftyFriend suggests about 1/4 cup)
(pint-size sous chef optional)

Next, combine the cake mix, eggs, and oil in a large mixing bowl. Stir thoroughly until all ingredients are combined. At this point, start preheating your oven to 350 degrees.

(make sure your sous chef doesn't get distracted)

At this point, my dough resembled very dark, gritty, wet soil.

For the next step, you will need a small bowl of sugar and one or two greased cookie sheets. Now, roll the dough into one-inch balls. For the gluten-free mix, you will probably need to "pat" it into shape more than roll it. Also, if the dough seems hard to work with, you may want to chill it in the refrigerator for a few minutes. Roll each ball in sugar and place it on a greased cookie sheet. Space the cookies about two inches apart.

Finally, bake the cookies at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes or until the center is firm. As Desiree explains on her blog, the cookies will probably look a little puffy when they first come out, but they will settle as they cool.

Ding! The sound of success!

Make sure you let the cookies cool completely before you gobble them up. Gluten-free baked-goods tend to be crumbly, so letting them cool first can make a big difference.

(waiting is the hardest part) 

At last--time to dig in and enjoy!

This kitchen (mis)adventure was a definite success!

Feeling adventurous? Try the recipe and let me know how it goes.

Ready to experiment? Desiree recommends different combinations, such as rolling the cookies in chopped-up Andes mints instead of sugar. What creative combinations can you come up with? Share your ideas here or on Desiree's original recipe post.


I am linking to Gluten-Free Fridays hosted by Vegetarian Mama. Pop on over and check it out!

Ready to blog!

Welcome to (GF)2: The Everyday Celiac. After nearly a week of staring at my laptop and staying up too late on "school nights" (a.k.a. weeknights, for those of you who don't work in education), this blog is finally ready for the public. I declare it officially OPEN FOR BUSINESS.

Take a look around, click on a few links, read some content. Hopefully, you'll find something helpful. Also, consider sharing the link with anyone you know who has celiac disease or is on a strict gluten-free diet. The goal of this blog is to help others in my situation--but I can't do that unless I get the word out!