Living GF and Surviving Summer Parties

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Let’s face it: even though you’ve made the commitment to be completely gluten-free (either from extreme necessity or just a healthy lifestyle choice), sometime this summer you’ll get invited to a party at a non-gluten-free household.  Relatives, neighbors, friends–no matter how well-meaning they are, they don’t always understand what it means to live COMPLETELY gluten-free.  At least, not at first.

Be patient with you relatives, neighbors, and friends–while they might not understand you this year, eventually they’ll come around the realization of your basic needs.  For now, you need to focus on surviving that party!

 

Here are some tips to get you started:

Appetizers

So many things can go wrong with appetizers–gluten lurks undetectable in sauces and condiments–so it’s hard to discern what’s good and what’s not.  One misstep can mean misery for the next week, leaving you wondering what went so wrong.

-Try tortilla chips and salsa.  While some brands might contain trace amounts of gluten, gluten is not necessary ingredient in corn chips.  More and more companies are becoming more sensitive to gluten intolerance–for extreme sensitivities, take a look a the packaging.

-Potato chips are also usually gluten-free–though some brands are not certified gluten-free.  However, you usually can’t trust the sauces or dips for the same reason of cross contamination or added gluten.  Again, look at the packaging to be certain.

-Fresh veggies or fruit platters are always a win–no embarrassment or confrontation of the cook necessary.  Just beware of sauces.

Sabra, a popular brand of hummus, is also gluten-free.

**Tip: Get to a party early and volunteer to help dish out the snacks–this allows you to get a look at the ingredients list, secretly, without offending your host/hostess.

Dinner

At summer picnics and BBQs, the most common fare is beer, brats, coleslaw, hamburgers, and pasta salad–and a host of other salads that may or may not have harmful ingredients for the gluten-sensitive person.

-Beer is not gluten-free (quite the opposite!)  However, there are some gluten-free options available, but not from traditional summer party favorites.  Try hard apple cider instead–if you’ve never had it before, you’re in for a real treat.  Wine is also gluten-free, but contains sulfites, which some people are sensitive to.  If no other alcoholic opportunity presents itself, go without.  There’s no shame in not drinking.

-Brats.  Forgo these unless you’ve read the packaging.  So many things could go wrong–don’t risk it.

-For hamburgers, get yours without the bun and stack it on some lettuce instead.  Surprisingly, this is a going trend (and it still tastes amazing).  Lucky for you, most condiments are left out in the original packaging for guests, so you can easily find toppings that work for you!  If a cheeseburger is offered, don’t take it– “cheese products” disguised as American cheese slices often contain all kinds of bad news.

-Stick with salads that you know what’s in it.  For potlucks, you can bring your own dish to share, meaning something that you can actually eat!  Usually the appetizers are left out to be eaten with dinner, so sneak back and grab a few carrot sticks to fill up your plate.  There’s nothing that distresses a host/hostess more than seeing their guests go hungry.

Dessert

Thankfully, you can usually forgo dessert (if no gluten-free options present themselves) because you’re too busy with small talk or haven’t finished dinner when they cut the cake, etc.

-Ice cream or frozen yogurt are usually good options (though not cookies and cream or cookie dough, sadly).  Most ice cream brands declare whether or not they have gluten in them.  Regular flavors, such as chocolate or vanilla are your best bet.

Overall

While going to summer parties as a newly professed gluten-free person can be a stressful experience (and perhaps embarrassing) there is nothing wrong with confronting your host/hostess about ingredients that will make you sick.  The best way to approach your host/hostess about your gluten sensitivities would be politely take them aside and quickly explain your recent diagnosis (without giving them a huge medical inventory–or as my dad would say: an organ recital) and ask to see the ingredients of a few things that will be served and ask them what you should avoid during dinner.  Get it over quickly and politely–next time, they’ll remember.

Gluten-free is becoming more widely accepted as more and more people are being diagnosed with gluten sensitivities.  The more nonchalant and comfortable you act when faced with public situations and having to decide what to eat, the more your friends will begin to understand you and try to help you.  Stand your ground and be confident in your lifestyle choices.

And for goodness sake, don’t let your new lifestyle get in between you and your enjoyment of summer fun!

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Day in the Sun // Decorative Fresh Mango Dessert

Mango Tutorial Intro

This past weekend was AMAZING.  In terms of weather, we couldn’t have asked for a more perfect day on Saturday.  We spent the day volunteering at a food giveaway in the city, then walking around looking at famous architecture, topping it off with our first round of Sushi–definitely trying that again!  Anyway, somehow or other we ended up with two bags of fresh mangoes, and I can’t think of a better way to kick off the month of May than with some fresh mango desserts!  (Well, maybe strawberry shortcake, or raspberries and coconut cream… or chocolate and pineapple… but I digress…)

How to Cut a Mango

Fresh fruit is naturally gluten-free (duh!), but we’ve all struggled with how to present it so that it looks like more than a necessary block on the food pyramid.  Here’s a quick and easy tutorial to get you started with Mangoes:

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1. Wash the mango.  With a sharp knife, cut the mango in half–as close to one side of the stone as possible.  Set half aside.

2. Very carefully remove other half of mango from stone, slicing as close to the stone as possible.

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3. With the tip of the knife, score two lines down the side of the mango (horizontally).  Be careful not to cut through the peel.

4. Score two more lines, perpendicular to the first set–creating a tic-tac-toe board 🙂

5. Very carefully invert the side of mango so that the chunks are more easily accessible.  Garnish with berries or other exotic fruits.  Enjoy!

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Guiltless Chocolate Cake // Happy Birthday Dad!

My dad is a chocoholic.  End of story.  He would eat just about anything if it were covered in chocolate–so we have to watch him 😀

For his birthday, we whipped up a flour-free, dairy-free, sugar-free chocolate cake.  With so much “missing” from this cake (as compared to a traditional cake recipe), we were genuinely surprised as to the quality and richness of the texture.  This cake is hearty enough to be eaten at a tea party, coffeehouse, or evening snack.  Its rich, moist, chocolate, fudge-like qualities will romance your taste buds and make them ask for more!

Flourless Chocolate Cake

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8 oz baking chocolate

1/2 cup cocoa powder

1 cup dates

1/2 cup hot water

3 eggs

1 tsp vanilla

3 tbsp coconut oil

In a food processor, blend dates until smooth.  Add cocoa powder, eggs, vanilla, and coconut oil.  Melt the chocolate squares and add to mixture–be careful not to let the warm chocolate cook the eggs!  Pour batter into greased round cake pan.

Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean from the center.

Serve warm or at room temperature with coffee, espresso, coconut ice cream, or just on its own!

Spring Cleaning // Frankly French lamps

We’ve been slowly adding France-themed accents to our room.

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This lamp is from World Market (we have to be careful in that store!  So much cute stuff!) While we thought it added enough charm by itself, Mary made a “pull cord” out of one of the corks from the wines that we bought in Burgundy.  Just the thing!

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And, of course, life would not be complete without an Eiffel Tower lamp as well (also from World Market).

Happy Friday!

3 Days ’til Christmas!

In our family, Christmas baking is a royal affair–I mean, it really isn’t Christmas unless you’re celebrating with at least 8 different kinds of cookies, right?  With an unfortunate bout of flu that hit our house, we didn’t start baking until 2 days ago–but now we have 6 kinds of cookies so far!

In France I got a new appreciation for Spritz Cookies–especially the rich almond flavored Alsatian Spritz Cookies!  They’re super easy to form and make a nice accompaniment to coffee or mulled wine.

At all the Christmas markets in Eastern France (marché de noël) you will find two kinds of mulled wine-red and white (vin chaud rouge et vin chaud blanc) and at the counter, you’ll find little dishes filled with spritz cookies because the French never drink alcohol by itself.  Vin chaud blanc is my personal favorite, but the rouge is good as well (though unfortunately, Christmas Markets in America have no idea you can make mulled wine with white wine…alas!)

But you can still enjoy a warm plate of spritz cookies!

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Get your recipe today and enjoy a European treat just in time for the holidays!

Merry Christmas! Joyeux Noël! Bonne Fête!

New to Kindle?  Get your free kindle reading app here!

Stumped on Christmas Presents?

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Ebooks make great Christmas gifts–no wrapping or nerve-wracking shipping!  When you send an ebook as a gift through Amazon, you purchase the book and then have a link emailed to the intended recipient on a specific date, or you can email it to your loved ones yourself.  It’s that easy!

Click on the picture to get your copy of The Twins’ Guide to Gluten-Free Holiday Baking and start out your gluten-free holiday season with confidence and good cheer!

New to Kindle? Get your free reading app here

Happy Baking!

Free Recipe: GF, Dairy Free Rice Pudding

*Check out our Chocolate pudding recipe in our free ebook: The Twins' Guide to Going Gluten-Free

*Check out our Chocolate pudding recipe in our free ebook: The Twins’ Guide to Going Gluten-Free

We hope everyone is having a great time getting ready for Thanksgiving!  Hopefully our new cookbook with recipes for GF yummy pies and cakes is enough to get you started so that you can celebrate this holiday with ease.

We whipped up the following rice pudding recipe a few weeks ago for a potluck at a friend’s house.  It was such a hit that we didn’t bring any home!

We found that when making rice pudding, it’s easier to cook the rice first. Sorry there aren’t any pictures…the pudding was gone before we had a chance to take any!

Rice Pudding

Serves: 10 or more

3 cups cooked rice

3 eggs

3 3/4 cup coconut milk (either canned, which is creamier, or from a box.  We liked a mix of both)

1/2 cup sugar (or agave, or honey)

2 tsp pure vanilla extract

1/2 tsp cinnamon (to sprinkle on the top)

In a pot with the cooked rice, heat the coconut milk until the milk/rice mixture is near boiling. Add the vanilla extract and the sugar.

Beat eggs until frothy in a bowl.  Take about a 1/2 cup of the milk/rice mixture and mix it with the eggs, stirring constantly (you don’t wan’t hardboiled eggs in your pudding). Keep adding cupfuls of milk/rice until the eggs are well incorporated.  Add to pot on the stove.

Cook for a couple of minutes until the eggs are cooked.  Pour into a serving dish and sprinkle with cinnamon. Let cool until warm to the touch.  Chill in the refrigerator for serving. Enjoy!

Since Thanksgiving is all about saying what we’re thankful for, we thought we might list a few things.

We’re thankful for:

-awesome family and friends who support us in our cooking and writing endeavors

-the great reviews we’ve been getting on our books (thanks, folks.  You’re amazing.  You make us want to write another book).

What are you thankful for this year?

And with that, we’d like to wish you and your families a very happy and wonderful Thanksgiving!

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