Sunday, September 30, 2012

Gluten-Free Banana Cinnamon Almond Pancakes

Today was Sunday, which in our house means one thing: pancakes!  In my opinion very little beats a tasty pancake breakfast.  Lately I’ve just been doing plain pancakes with fresh berries on the side, but this morning I wanted to serve up something a little more special.

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093012 - 2I was introduced to banana pancakes on my first-ever vacation with Hubs way back in 2008, when I still ate gluten.  We stayed at his favorite surf camp in Costa Rica, and I finally got to taste the banana pancakes he’d been raving about every time we talked about the place.  They didn’t disappoint – at least one of us got them every morning!  Now banana pancakes are synonymous with tropical Costa Rican vacations, and I like to make them now and again to bring us back to those great memories. 

The concept is really simple – just make plain pancakes, and after pouring them out on the griddle put small pieces of bananas on top. 

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When you flip the pancake, the banana chunks will cook down into the cakes and get nice and caramelized.

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I decided to use almond milk and add cinnamon for a little fall flavor, and topped them with chopped almonds for some extra texture.  They came out great, nice and fluffy with little hidden pockets of gooey, sweet banana goodness throughout! 

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Serves 2

Ingredients

  • 1 cup gluten-free pancake mix (I use Pamela’s, it’s great)
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 tbsp butter, melted
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 fresh banana, chopped into small pieces
  • 1/2 oz raw almonds, chopped (about 12 nuts)
  • Maple syrup, for serving
  • Directions

    Preheat a griddle or skillet over medium heat, spray with cooking spray.  Whisk together all of the ingredients except for the banana and almonds.  Pour 1/4 servings of batter onto the hot griddle and dot the tops with the pieces of banana, 3-4 pieces per pancake.

    After a few minutes, once they fluff up and the edges start to look dry, flip the pancakes.  Let them cook a few more minutes on the second side until golden, then serve topped with the chopped almonds and maple syrup.

    Saturday, September 29, 2012

    Gluten-Free Cheesy Squash Casserole

    Lately there has been a steady stream of zucchini and squash in our crisper drawer – it’s just so cheap!  Normally we grill it, but I wanted to cook it indoors one night and I came up with this easy cheesy quick casserole-style dish.  This particular one was just squash, but I’ve also used a combination of squash and zucchini too with excellent results.

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    Serves 2

    Ingredients

    • 2 summer squash
    • 1 tbsp olive oil
    • 1 tbsp butter, cut into small cubes
    • 1/4 cup shredded Italian cheese
    • 1 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
    • 2 tbsp gluten-free breadcrumbs
    • Garlic Gold (optional, or use garlic powder)
    • Salt & pepper

    Directions

    Chop up the squash into small pieces and toss with the olive oil. 

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    Put in a baking dish (I used two Orka individual silicone steamer dishes) and season with salt, pepper and Garlic Gold, then top with the cheese, pieces of butter and the gluten-free breadcrumbs. 

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    Tip – find a GF bread you don’t like? Make breadcrumbs! I store mine in the freezer to keep fresh, and use them straight from the freezer with great results.

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    Bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes, until golden brown.

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    Let it rest for a few minutes and serve.

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    It’s really quick to put together and tastes fantastic – how can you go wrong with toasty golden cheese and crispy breadcrumbs on veggies?

    If you want to get fancy with it, try whipping out a mandoline and layering in the thinly sliced squash and zucchini with cheese and butter. 

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    So worth it, I promise! 

    Friday, September 28, 2012

    Gluten-Free Friday: Crunchmaster 7 Ancient Grains Crackers

    I’m already a big fan of the original Crunchmaster crackers, so when I spotted this opportunity to win a box of their new 7 Ancient Grains variety from Celiac Central I jumped at it.

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    I just happened to have great timing – we were killing time in the airport and I randomly decided to check my Twitter feed right after they posted it.  I was very pleasantly surprised to find a package in my mailbox today, just 5 days after winning!

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    They even included a cute little collapsible NFCA insulated lunch tote in the package, perfect for packing my GF food to go.

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    Anyway, on to the crackers.  They are pretty similar to the regular Crunchmasters in terms of ingredients, with the addition of sorghum flour and millet accounting for the “7 Ancient Grains” title - the others being quinoa, sesame, amaranth, flax and brown rice. 

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    They have a slightly lighter texture than the original, and the salt taste is much more mild.  The stats reflect the lightness – they have about the same amount of calories as the original, but only half the fat (also only half the fiber though, unfortunately)

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                        7 Ancient Grains                                           Regular

    They were good by themselves, but I knew they would be better with toppings.  I spotted a small tomato on the counter and decided to put together a few quick bruschetta bites. 

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    I put a slice of tomato on each cracker, topped with a bit of cheese and microwaved for 15 seconds, then garnished with fresh basil.  Delicious!

    I personally would likely opt for the regular Crunchmaster crackers since I often have crackers as a bread substitute at lunch and a little fat and fiber really helps the staying power.  But if you’re looking for a lighter alternative for snacking, consider picking up their new 7 Ancient Grains variety!

    Thanks to @CeliacAwareness, @thehealthyapple & @LuvCrunchmaster for the giveaway Smile

    Wednesday, September 26, 2012

    Quick Dinner: Chicken Sausage

    Chicken sausage has been on my radar for awhile now, and I’ve been excited to see all the brands and flavors hitting the market.  They’re fast, flavorful, and I have yet to come across a variety that is not gluten free!

    I buy all different brands and flavors, from the spicy andouille-style for jambalaya to the sweet fruit flavors for stir fry.  One of our absolute favorites is the Aidell’s roasted garlic and gruyere variety.  It’s savory, juicy, and full of delicious garlicky, cheesy flavor.

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    I used to always slice them up before cooking them in a skillet, but realized that on the ones with cheese the cheesy bits were melting out.  So I decided to try just throwing them into the skillet whole instead.  After about 5 or 6 minutes, they were golden brown and ready to go (they’re fully cooked, so no worries regarding doneness).

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    What a difference!  The slices always get good color, but tend to dry out.  Keeping it whole retained all that delicious juiciness, plus the cheesy pockets of course.  Definitely my go-to method from now on – not only tastier, but less effort in dinner prep, win-win.

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    I served up the sausage with roasted potatoes and steamed broccoli for a simple, tasty dinner.  Paired with leftover or microwave rice/potatoes, it the whole thing could come together in about 10 minutes flat.  Definitely my new favorite quick meal Smile

    Tuesday, September 25, 2012

    Saying Goodbye

    We’ve all dealt with saying goodbye, it’s a part of life.  When those goodbyes are unexpected and unexplainable, it hits hard. 

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    We had a difficult homecoming from our trip as we sadly ended up saying goodbye to our cat, Black, shortly after arriving home.  He was purring oddly when we came in, and within a few hours was panting and having lots of difficulty breathing.  We took him to an emergency vet where they discovered his lungs were filled with fluid and were unable to stabilize him.  It was sudden, but we are thankful that at least we made it home to spend a few hours with him.

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    He was a sweet, funny cat who loved everybody and definitely lived a very cushy life –

    He loved to eat…

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    And lounge around on blankets with his toys…

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    Check out what was on the TV on occasion…

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    And keep an eye on the neighborhood. 

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    It’s sad to say goodbye to him, but at least he’s with his brother again.

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    You were a good cat, Black, and we will never forget you.

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    Back to the food tomorrow, I promise!  I’m going to share my new favorite quick and easy meal – exactly what I needed after this past week.

    Sunday, September 23, 2012

    Scenes from Fire Island

    Every time I have visited Fire Island with Hubs in the past, I have forgotten to take pictures. This time, I was determined to remember, so I took my iPhone along on a run and took dozens. I might not have set a great pace on my run because I kept stopping, but I ended up with some beautiful shots!

    Couldn't have asked for more beautiful weather, and because the summer season has ended it was also nice and peaceful. I really enjoyed our visit, although will admit I am eagerly looking forward to seeing the kitties and sleeping in my own bed tonight :)

    Thursday, September 20, 2012

    Gluten-Free on the Go

    Yesterday we flew up to New York for a quick trip to visit my in-laws and go to a wedding. It's like a mini-vacation because my in-laws happen to live on the always-stunning Fire Island.
    For those of you not familiar with it (I wasn't until I met my husband), Fire Island is a tiny barrier island off the coast of Long Island in New York.

    I actually meant to post this yesterday, but was too busy enjoying this gorgeous sunset on my in-laws' deck to sit down with my iPad!

    Traveling gluten free can be quite a challenge, unless you make sure you are prepared. Why stress about finding gluten-free food in the airport or on the road when you can just bring along food you know is safe? Not only that, it's a lot less expensive, especially considering what they charge at airports these days. We were traveling at lunchtime, so I packed up a sack with snacks and a light meal to take on the plane.


    The gopicnic meals are great, although you do have to be careful when it comes to cross contamination - I had to give the trail mix to Hubs because it was processed on the same equipment as wheat. But the rest of it was fine. I had a mini pack of Crunchmaster crackers with a lemon-pepper tuna spread, a cup of unsweetened applesauce, and a piece of dark chocolate. It was pretty good, although the tuna spread had a little more pepper flavor than I would have liked. They're priced on the website at $4.99, but I found them on sale at my Target recently for just $3.50, so keep an eye out!

    I also like to pack a bag in my suitcase with my favorite GF-friendly snacks since many come from specialty stores and aren't the easiest to find, plus it's reassuring to know that I will always be able to grab something to keep the hangries at bay.


    Here's a list of my favorite easily portable gluten-free eats:
    • Packets of crackers (I had a bunch of samples left over from the expo, normally I just bag them myself)
    • Oats - breakfast can be one of the hardest meals to find something suitable
    • Nut butter packets - for the crackers and to stir into oatmeal to up their staying power
    • Bars - I brought along Rise bars, plus Envirokidz peanut-choco drizzle bars as a treat
    • Almonds - quick, easy and filling
    I also packed one more gopicnic meal for the trip home, as it's also scheduled during a mealtime.

    Not only am I saving money, it's a lot less stressful and easier to just plan ahead and pack some food.

    Do you bring your own gluten-free food along on trips? What are your favorite things to bring?

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