Baking for Tita…

I am sure many of you have read of my love for my Grandmother, Tita. She is technically my husbands grandmother. But I don’t care about technicalities! When GF Guy and I got married, she became “our” grandmother! She is a wonderful, feisty little Cuban woman. At 83 years old, she still makes a big Cuban meal for the entire family, every Sunday. She has loving recreated all of her old family recipes to make them “Katrina Safe”. I have never gotten sick due to cross-contamination and have never been made to feel ostracized or like an inconvenience. I love her!
Well…. Tita has a health problem of her own. She and Pop (my grandfather) have diabetes. She has always cooked to accommodate my dietary restrictions. I wanted to do the same for her. This morning, before heading over for our usual Sunday afternoon lunch, I began experimenting. I started with a recipe I found on Elana’s Pantry. Since this was my first foray into Sugar Free baking, I decided to start slowly. A few changes were made due to ingredients I had on hand, but I stuck to the recipe for the most part… this time. (My next post will feature a Gidget Original!)
Both Pop & Tita LOVED these muffins and were thrilled to have a healthy dessert option! Don’t you just love cooking for people?

Banana Nut Muffins for Tita
– 3 Eggs
– 2 medium, frozen Bananas, defrosted
– 1/4 cup Coconut Oil
– 2 pitted Dates
– 1/8 cup Raisins
– 10 drops Vanilla Liquid Stevia
– 1/4 cup Coconut Flour
– 1/4 teaspoon Salt
– 1/2 teaspoon Baking Soda
– 1/2 cup Walnuts, lightly toasted and chopped
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
Spray a muffin pan with non-stick cooking spray.
While oven is preheating, toast Walnuts.
In a blender, combine the Eggs, Bananas, Dates, Raisins, & Stevia until smooth.
Add Flour, Salt, & Soda, blend until combined.
Gently fold in chopped, toasted Walnuts.
Using a measuring cup, scoop 1/4 portions into prepared muffin pan.
Bake 20-25 minutes until done. (Mine took 23 minutes, exactly, just like Elana’s)
Allow to cool on a wire rack.
These muffins are awfully dark in color, but moist and delicious in flavor!

Who is your favorite person to cook for? Do you have a favorite memory of your grandparents?

Sunny Ireland….

It is a cold, dreary day here in the Sunshine State. Don’t let the weather fool you. It is bright and cheery inside the Gidget house! I awoke this morning ready the embrace the day for the glorious thing it was… my day off! I went for a quick run on the treadmill and came home to bake up a little something new. I stumbled upon this recipe for Irish Soda Bread on The Gluten Free Goddess’s website this morning and was inspired to try it. Having never tasted Soda Bread, I didn’t really know what I was getting into. Well… it turned out to be a delicious surprise! I changed a few things, giving this recipe a decidedly tropical twist. GF Guy loved it, so I guess that makes this recipe a keeper. Enjoy!
Sunshine State Soda Bread

– 1 cup Millet Flour
– 1/2 cup Brown Rice Flour
– 1/2 cup Potato Starch
– 1 teaspoon Baking Soda
– 1 1/2 teaspoons Baking Powder
– 2 Tablespoons Sugar
– 1 teaspoon Salt
– 2 teaspoons Xanthum Gum
– 5 Tablespoons Coconut Oil (harder refrigerated consistency, NOT melted)
– 3/4 cup Unsweetened Almond Milk mixed w/ 1/2 teaspoon Mild Rice Vinegar
– 1 Tablespoon Egg Replacer whisked together w/ 1/4 cup Warm Water until frothy
– 1 Tablespoon Honey (local if possible)
– Zest of one Orange
– 1 cup Golden Raisins
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Prepare an 8x8m square baking pan, or an 8×9 round cake pan (the round pan is preferable, but I don’t have one!), by greasing it and gently dusting it w/ Brown Rice Flour.
In a medium bowl, whisk together dry ingredients.
Cut in Coconut Oil using a pastry cutter or two forks.
In a mall bowl, whisk together wet ingredients.
Create a well, in the center of the dry ingredients.
Slowly pour liquid ingredients into the well, stirring gently to combine with a rubber spatula.
Combine until mixture is evenly combined and the consistency of a  sticky biscuit mix.
Gently fold in the Orange Zest and Raisins.
Scrape dough into prepared baking pan.
Using wet hands shape dough into a slightly flattened smooth circle.
Using a sharp knife, score the dough w/ and “X” shape across the center.
Bake 30-35 minutes until a tooth pick comes out clean and the loaf makes a hollow noise when “thumped”.
Allow to cool in the pan 5 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
Feel free to enjoy while warm or to allow to cool completely. (If you can wait that long. We couldn’t!)

Help! There’s a Girl Scout in my Bowl!….

Whats Green, Minty, and Brown all over? 
My breakfast, that’s what!
Breakfast has been utterly uninspired, as of late. It has been such a rush to get out the door for the past few weeks that I have been inhaling Corn Flakes & Almond Milk like a mini Hoover while putting on my shoes and packing my lunchbox. Yesterday, however, I decided to take a moment, breathe, and actually make a little something different for breakfast. It wasn’t pretty so I didn’t take a picture. However, it was delicious and a welcome change! It was a simple bowl of Gluten Free Oatmeal with mix-ins inspired by my favorite Girl Scout Cookie, the Thin Mint. 
We may not be able to eat the real thing, but we can eat plenty of healthier substitutes, right?! (Check out my Mint Fudgie Babies!!!) My breakfast contained antioxidant packed Green Tea & Calcium power house Carob Powder. Talk about a healthy alternative to stuffing your face with an entire sleeve of Thin Mints! (…who does that… I’ve certainly never done that…. Okay… maybe one time…. or twenty….) 
So, take a moment, whip up a bowl of Green Minty Goodness, and savor your morning! You deserve it!
Girl Scout Oatmeal
– 3/4 cup brewed Candy Cane Lane Green Tea
– 1/3 cup Cream Hill Estates Gluten Free Rolled Oats
– 1 1/2 teaspoons Carob Powder
– 1/4 cup Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Milk
Combine Brewed Tea, Oats, and Carob & cook according to microwave instructions.
Stir in Almond Milk and enjoy!
What is your favorite Girl Scout Cookie? Have you come up with a gluten free version or substitute?
Have a wonderful weekend!

I Am Officially A Snob….

I have been called a snob my entire life. I blame it on being an introverted bookworm who likes ballet, opera, & art. 
Those darn books gave me a large vocabulary! – 
I have been known to say, “I will go outside and check when there is a respite from the rain.” Who says “respite” anymore?! Me… that’s who! 
That darn ballet gave me ruler straight posture! – 
I often forget to lean against the backs of chairs when seated, causing others to think I am tense.
That darn opera gave me a love of languages! – 
Yes, I am that pretentious twit that actually says foreign words & names with the appropriate accent. (ie- Georges Seurat is not “George Sir-at”, but “Jorge Seurah”… I guess that’s how you would spell it phonetically. You get the idea.)
That darn art gave me a love of French Neo-Impressionism!
Do you know how dorky you look choosing to do a high-school class project on French Neo-Impressionistic art with an emphasis on Pointillism? 
Until now, I have staunchly denied any claims of apparent snobbery. I am shy & enjoy nerdy things! Embrace it people! However, tonight something happened. This something was beautiful, wonderful, and utterly snobby… AND I LOVED IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!
It has been a long time coming. In fact, Snobby Joes have been on my “to make” list for about 6 months. I hesitated because I was unsure as to how GF Guy would react. But, based on his latest reactions to the “strange” foods I have placed in front of him, I drew up the courage and forged ahead. I need not have worried. This recipe is a sure fire winner for Veg-Heads & Meat-Eaters, alike. I can’t wait to try it out on my carnivorous, hockey playing, “pull my finger”, little brother! These “Joes” may be the snobby kind, but they are sure to be loved by all!
Gidget’s Unpretentiously Snobby Joes
– 1 cup Lentils
– 4 cups Water
– 1 Tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil
– 1/2 Yellow Onion, diced
– 1 large Carrot, chopped
– 2 stalks Celery, chopped
– 2 cloves Garlic, minced
– 1 can (8oz.) Muir Glen Tomato Sauce
– 2 oz. Tomato Paste
– 1 teaspoon dry Mustard
– 2 teaspoons Oregano
– 1 teaspoon Herbamare
– 3 Tablespoons Chili Powder
– 1/2 teaspoon Curry Powder
– 1/4 teaspoon Paprika
– 1/4 teaspoon Cumin
– dash Liquid Smoke
– 3 Tablespoons pure Maple Syrup
In a small, covered saucepan, bring water and lentils to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes. Drain and set aside.
In a medium soup pot, heat oil over medium heat.
Saute the onion, carrots, & celery until soft, about 6-7 minutes. Add the garlic and continue to saute about 2 minutes, until fragrant.
Add the cooked lentils and remaining ingredients.
Heat through, then cover and remove from heat. 
Allow to sit for at least 10 minutes in order to meld the flavors.
I ate my “Joes” on a bed of steamed spinach and broccoli while, GF Guy enjoyed his portion atop a bed of spinach and baked polenta slices (left over from last night’s dinner). For a side dish, I made more “Kabocha Fries”. (We are now obsessed!)
This recipe made plenty for dinner and enough leftovers for another meal for both of us! High in fiber, vegan, AND delicious? YES, PLEASE! 
Are you, or were you, ever accused of being a snob? Why? Was it true?

Playin’ With Polenta….

Mornin’! I don’t get it. It was 83 degrees here on Tuesday. I wore a short sleeve shirt & capri pants. Why is it 64 degrees again?! Dude! So, not cool…. (Well, it’s cool, but not in the way I would like it to be…) Moving on…..
Last night was another thrown together experimental pantry dinner. We had broccoli & cauliflower. We had Pre-made Polenta. We had Marinara Sauce. = DINNER! I threw everything together, seeing as it was 9:00 PM and we dined like starved children!
Quick Vegetable Polenta Stacks
– 1 tube pre-made Polenta
– 1to 2 cups Marinara Sauce (depending on how much you prefer)
– a splash of Red Wine
– sprinkles of Garlic Powder, Oregano, Basil, Thyme, & Rosemary
– Broccoli & Cauliflower
– a few handfuls of Spinach
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
Slice the polenta into 1/4″ thick slices, place on a baking sheet lined with foil and sprayed w/ non-stick cooking spray.
Bake for 15 minutes, flip them over and bake for another 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a small saucepan over low heat combine the Marinara, Wine, Herbs & Spices, & a bit of Spinach. 
Cover and allow to heat through and wilt the Spinach.
Steam the vegetables to your desired consistency.
I placed a slice of polenta on a bed of baby spinach, topped the polenta slice with a steamed veggies and a bit of marinara, put another slice of polenta and more marinara on top, et voila!
…Who am I kidding?! After the “beauty shot”, I dumped everything into a bowl along with more veggies and marinara, mixed it all up, and noshed away! HAHAHAHA!!!
Oh well! So much for an elegant dinner.
When it comes to your meals, do you prefer to throw everything into a bowl, or are you all about the presentation?

Pizza Pie Oh Me, Oh My….

You all know how rare it is to find a decent pre-made gluten free pizza crust. Your best bet is normally to simply make your own, be it from scratch or from a mix. That is, until now….. I have discovered a revolutionary new pre-made pizza crust! The good news is, not only is it delicious, it contains an amazing amount of protein & fiber! The bad news… you can only get it in Tampa, FL. (That just means you will have to come visit!) Who makes this miracle crust, you ask? None other than the brilliant Ivan of Viitals Gluten Free Bakery & Cafe
I took my mom out to lunch at Viitals on Sunday. We both enjoyed delicious Gluten Free Sandwiches. She ordered the Mediterranean: Traditional Hummus, Feta Cheese, Tomatoes, Cucumbers, Kalamata Olives and Red Onions drizzled w/ the House Dressing. I enjoyed the Vegan Delight Panini: Avocado, Tomatoes, and Red Onion moistened w/ Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Oregano, Thyme, and Black Pepper. Ivan and his wife sat with us while we ate. We enjoyed a lovely chat. It is always fun visiting with them.
After our meal, Ivan presented me with a gift, his newest creation, a GF, Vegan Pizza Crust.
GF Guy and I prepared it for dinner tonight. WOW…. it was unbelievably delicious. The thin crust had the perfect texture with just the right crunch and crispness. The subtle undertones of Italian spices were the perfect compliment to the flavor of the crust. Not only was it delicious, it was simple to prepare.
I topped our crust with Muir Glen Pizza Sauce, Spinach, Broccoli, Pineapple, & Vegan Mozzarella Cheese. I then baked it, on a piece of foil placed directly on the rack, in a 350 degree oven for about 10 minutes. Then, I turned the oven to broil for 3 minutes to melt the cheese. 
Perfection! Delicious & nutritious!
If you are ever in the Tampa area, you MUST take the time to visit Viitals! Have a sandwich & buy a pizza crust to go!
Thanks again, Ivan for your delicious creations!

Sooo…. wants to meet me for lunch at Viitals?

Stir-fry Obsession…

I don’t know what it, but lately I have been craving stir-fry! It has been my dinner vote for the past week. (I’ve only made it twice, though. I don’t want to be too boring.) Last night, however, was a stir-fry kind of night again. I love them because you can throw whatever strikes your fancy into the wok and somehow it all seems to meld together! (That… and who doesn’t love a giant bowl of veggie goodness?)
Stir-fry du Jour
– Non-stick Cooking Spray
– 1/2 Yellow Onion, chopped
– 1 large Carrot, chopped
– 2 stalks Celery, chopped
– 6 boneless, skinless Chicken Tenderloins, cubed
– 1″ piece fresh Ginger, finely minced
– 1/2 teaspoon Toasted Sesame Oil
– 1/4 teaspoon Garlic Powder
– 1/2 teaspoon Curry Powder
– Black Pepper and Herbamare
– 1 small can Water Chestnuts, drained
– Bragg’s Liquid Aminos
– 12 oz. Stir-fry Vegetable Medley (ours had Broccoli, Snap Peas, Broccoli Slaw, and Carrots)
– Pineapple Chunks
– splash Low Sodium Chicken Stock
– splash dry White Wine
– 3 big handfuls Spinach
Spray a wok with Non-stick Cooking Spray.
Saute onion, carrots, & celery until soft, about 5 minutes.
Add chicken and toasted sesame oil and continue cooking about 5 minutes.
Sprinkle in spices, ginger, Water Chestnuts, and a drizzle of Bragg’s. Cook about 2 minutes.
Add Veg. Medley, pineapple, stock, and wine. Cook about 7 minutes.
Add spinach and a bit more Bragg’s, cover, and let cook 3-5 minutes, until broccoli is tender and spinach is wilted.
Serve on a bed of Quinoa and fresh Spinach.
(Not very photogenic, but comfort food rarely is….)
Now who can resist that much veggie goodness? Certainly not me or GF Guy! I’m thinking about adding sweet potato to the mix next time. 
What is the strangest ingredient you have ever tossed into a stir-fry? How did it turn out?

Full of Falafel….

Wow! This week has been one of the most hectic yet satisfying of my life! I was put in charge of planning a Health Fair for work. This was my first big assignment in my new job and was sort of my “rite of passage.” Guess what! It was a success! 
Carol Kicinski, from Simply… Gluten Free  
came and taught a cooking class. 
(Her desserts were unbelievable! You MUST check out her blog!) She and her husband are absolutely delightful. I loved meeting them and we hope we can “hang out” again soon! The participants LOVED the class! In fact, they could not stop raving and asking when Carol would be coming back!
We also had NY Times Best Selling Author, Brenda Watson, come and give a lecture on Probiotics. We were very lucky to have her. 
In addition to these special events, we held a drawing for prizes and had all sorts of product demonstrations and samples. (Tinkyada pasta, Henry & Lisa’s Salmon, Coconut Bliss Ice Cream, Organic Oriental Sweet Potatoes, Organic Oranges…..) It was quite an affair! Here are a few of my amateur photos:

That night, I attended a Great Gatsby Themed function for work. (a little PR work) My mom was my date and we had a grand old time! After the party, we stopped at a local tea shop for a little “tea talk”, browsed a few art shops, got a parking ticket…. (oops!)
All in all…. sigh of relief….
Amidst the chaos of my week, there was a glimmer of foodie goodness courtesy of my little sister in-law, an aspiring foodie in her own rite. I “facebook-ed” her a recipe. She made it. (with a few minor changes) I ate it! AWESOME! 
The meal was a first for all of us… Baked Sweet Potato Falafel w/ Yogurt-Tahini Sauce. The recipe can be found here at FatFreeVegan .
None of us had ever had a normal Falafel, much less a Baked, Sweet Potato one! All I can say DE-LICIOUS! And the sauce? Perfection! I know it sounds and looks strange, 
 but it is delicious. 
Our Falafel Balls spread were a bit “special” looking, 
 but it’s the taste that matters! Here are the changes we made to the recipe.
Our tweaks:
– We used Paprika instead of Coriander in the Falafel.
– We used 3 Sweet Potatoes… just because! 😉
– We used Tofutti Better N’ Sour Cream instead of soy yogurt in the Sauce.
We served the Falafel in French Meadow Bakery Gluten Free Flour Tortillas with Romaine Lettuce, Diced Cucumber, and Diced Tomato.
I highly recommend this recipe to any and everyone!
Other than that, our meals this week have been thrown together stir-frys, spiralized zucchini “pasta”, and leftover Tomato Soup . Let’s see what next week brings! I feel like I can take on the world!!!!!… and the kitchen, too! 😉
Daily Dose of Dickens:
Dickens has a girlfriend! Oo la la!

A Treat For My Sweet…

Today has been a wonderful day! This morning, I was given the opportunity to film a spot for local news show that really raised awareness for Celiac Disease & Gluten Intolerance. It was so much fun! Let me back up a little… 
My store, Rollin’ Oats Market & Cafe , is participating in a wonderful charity fundraiser for The Abilities Foundation , the 21st Annual Abilities Wine Tasting & Silent Auction. This event is a huge, black-tie affair with booths hosted by local 5 star restaurants, wine bars, and… a locally owned health food store, Rollin’ Oats! Each booth serves up samplings of appetizers, wines, & desserts that represent their company. Rollin’ Oats will be taking an entirely new and exciting approach and is serving up a variety of Gluten Free foods, wines, and beers! The theme of our booth really ties in with the mission of The Abilities Foundation, which provides programs for people with disabilities that help them find jobs, buy homes, and lead fairly “normal” lives. As many of you may know, a gluten free diet is most commonly used to treat Celiac Disease and Gluten Intolerance. However, it is also used to combat the symptoms of a variety of disabilities, ranging from Autism to Rheumatoid Arthritis.
I, along with the “media marketing mogul” for The Abilities Foundation, was interviewed about the event and about the interesting theme of our booth. I was able to share about about Celiac Disease, Rollin’ Oats, and my work on “Gluten Free Gidget”. It was a wonderful experience that I hope will educate a lot of people. 
Now on to the food….
I already posted the GF Gidget household Valentine’s Day “Love Menu”. BUT….. I left something out. DESSERT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Don’t worry! I won’t hold out on you guys! 
This year I created one of GF Guys favorite things, Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Ice Cream. His two favorites are Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough and Cookies N’ Cream. I have already made a few variations of GF/DF Cookies N’ Cream (ie Cookies N’ Dream  & Mint Cookies N’ Dream 
), but had yet to tackle the Cookie Dough flavor.. until now…. I did cheat a little and use a cookie mix, but I didn’t want to spend our Valentines Day slaving away in the kitchen. So sue me! GF Guy loved it, and didn’t mind that I cheated. That’s what really counts. After all, it was a “Treat For My Sweet”. 
GF/DF Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Ice Cream
PS- GF Guy took the photo. Don’t judge… just embrace it…
– 1 recipe Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough
– 2 cans full fat Coconut Milk
– 2/3 cup Sugar
– 1/4 teaspoon Xanthum Gum
– 2 teaspoons Vanilla Extract
Prepare Cookie Dough, roll into little balls, and freeze.
In a blender, combine remaining ingredients and chill about 45 minutes.
Pour chilled mixture into your ice cream maker and process about 20 minutes.
Add frozen Cookie Dough Balls and continue processing about 5 minutes.
Scoop Ice Cream into a glass, freezer safe container. 
Allow to harden at 2-5 hours before eating.
What is your all time favorite ice cream flavor? 
I like vanilla because it is so versatile! Just think of the endless mix-in possibilities!

Tomato In My Tummy = Yummy, Yummy, Yummy….

Wow… I fell asleep last night at 9:15! Who does that?! It’s a good thing though. I’m resetting my body clock to wake up early. Yesterday, I accomplished a few things on the list. We have a plaza wide Health Fair scheduled for this Saturday at the store and somehow, I have been put in charge of the whole thing! We have a GF/DF cooking class set up with Carol Kicinski , a bunch of product demonstrations and samples, a lecture with Brenda Watson, & much more! Sounds exciting = a lot of work. I’ve never done anything like this before, so I’m a bit worried. Also, we didn’t have much time to prepare (think about 3 weeks) so it feels rather hap-hazard and thrown together. Oh well… In the words of Tim Gunn, “Make it work!” I also have to do a TV interview for another store event tomorrow AM, a music video is being shot in the store all day Thursday, plus there are the usual meetings and normal duties to accomplish. (whew!) I’m not complaining, merely talking out my nervous energy.
For dinner last night, I made a Rachel Ray recipe, Tomato-Broccolini Soup
I didn’t have Broccolini, so I just used regular Broccoli. I also used Nutritional Yeast instead of Parm. 
 Paired with a Grilled Cheese Sandwich (made with GF/DF French Meadow Bakery Multigrain Bread & Vegan Cheddar Cheese), this meal was comfort food fo’ sho’! 
 French Meadow Bakery Bread is awesome, btw!
Then…. I fell asleep and left GF Guy to clean up the kitchen! He did a fabulous job! This morning, the kitchen was spotless! I love him!
How is your week panning out? Are you in the Tampa area? You should come to our Health Fair!