Saturday, April 20, 2013

Product Review - Immaculate Baking

I discovered this brand purely by accident.  My family loves carbs.

I needed a quick breakfast items.  While I was checking out the canned cinnamon rolls (yes, I know they're unhealthy) I found these.  The brand is Immaculate Baking.

I happily bought them when I saw the label.  No bleached flour, no high fructose corn syrup, organic and non GMO (genetically modified).  A convenience food that I could feel good about serving to my daughter.  Double bonus, she LOVED them.  We also blueberry and cinnamon rolls.

Triple bonus, I found out they have gluten free products as well.

I found this cookie dough when I was picking up some more breakfast food for the kiddo.  They had this Fudge Brownie and Chocolate chip.  The chocolate chip is OK, but these are just fantastic.  There is no way to tell they are gluten free.

It's so rare to find a brand that is healthy, convenient, and better yet, affordable.  Yes, they are pricier than other brands, but I'll pay the little bit extra to feed my family some healthy food.

Most of the time I do my own baking, but when I don't have time.  It's nice to know I have an alternative.

I found these in the refrigerator section at a Super Walmart.  I haven't really looked other places for them.  You can also like them on Facebook.

Dinner for the next 2 weeks

Whenever I post on Facebook that I'm doing my 2 week batch cooking, people ask what's for dinner.  Here's what we're having.  My total on checkout at Aldi was $120 and that included snacks and lunch items as well.  Some of the leftovers will be used for lunches as well.

So here's the menu

Mexican chicken - I traded kidney beans and used black beans instead

Cheesy Chicken & Rice - A family favorite.  However, if you're GF, you know that cream soup has gluten in it, and face it, it's really not all that good for you.

I found this homemade substitute online.  It has just a few simple ingredients.  I call it "Cream of No Crap Soup."  This is the first time I'm using it, so we'll see how it does.

Sausage and baked beans - Again, I made some substitutions.  I bought turkey polish sausage and used canned baked beans.  I don't really like beans, but I can suffer through baked beans.  The black beans in the Mexican Chicken is a stretch for me.  But you can use whatever beans you want.

Bacon Quiche - This is a versatile dish.  You can throw in any veggies you want.  Add ham or leave out the meat altogether if you want vegetarian.

Pork Chop Meal - A simple one dish meal.

Peach Pork Chops - Pork Chops, a bag of frozen peaches, some seasoning and a little bit of chicken broth to keep the moisture content correct.

I even got the 11 year old involved this time.  She enjoyed bagging up our meals and she did some chopping.

Our last slow cooker dish is Beef Stew.

I used a pound of stew meat, but I checked prices on other cuts.  Since it cooks long and slow, you can use different cuts.  Round steak, top sirloin or cube steaks work well.  Stew meat was the cheapest per pound this time, so that's what we're using.  Since there are three of us, we cubed three potatoes and sliced a bunch of carrots.  Add some seasoning and  some beef broth or bouillon and water and you're good to go.  

I make my own gravy.  I'll use the juice from the stew after it's done cooking.  Bring it to a boil, and add a slurry of corn starch and water.  No, I don't have measurements. I have done it this way for so long I just know by looking.  This also keeps it gluten free and doesn't lump like using flour does.  

My "just in case" meals, (in case we forget to put something in the slow cooker) are Ravioli and Poor Man's Stroganoff.  That's one pound ground turkey, the Cream of No Crap Soup mix and some rice. I also have a pizza for the hubby and kiddo when I'm not home.  

I have several containers of already cooked rice in the freezer.  I can thaw them as needed.  I'll mix them into the Mexican Chicken and the Chicken & Rice as well.  

We will also have leftovers, and some of the leftovers become lunch as well.  I use them for my lunches quite often.  

I love Pinterest for my recipes. I find things that are good and healthy and I can "keep" them all in one place and not have to dig for recipes.  

Happy Eating!!

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Product review - Enjoy Life not nuts!

I found this product at a local Festival Foods in the gluten free and health food section.

I don't like nuts, except peanut butter.  I don't like the taste or the texture.  So many trail mix blends contain nuts.  I don't want to pay for trail mix when I'm not going to eat half of it, and I don't want anything with carbs.

I was delighted when I found this, even more delighted when it tasted good!

For any of you out there with allergens, this product is free of wheat, tree nuts, fish, dairy, egg, shellfish, peanuts, soy, casein, potato, sesame and sulfites!  Even better it is made in a gluten free and nut free facility, so there is no cross contamination.

Here is the nutrition information.  6 oz bag contains 6 servings.  8 grams of fat, 1.5 grams of saturated fat.  13 grams of carbs with 2 grams of fiber and 4 grams of protein.  Not too bad.

There are two varieties of the seed and fruit mix.  You can view them here.

I don't remember the exact price, but I want to say it was around $3.  I used this as a snack on my way home from work.  I eat lunch at noon and don't get home until almost 6 PM.  This allows me a healthy snack that won't fill me up before dinner.

I think I'll be stocking up on these.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Gluten Free Lunches

I brown bag it, because I'm frugal.  My office is just a few blocks from a wonderful public market with gluten free and organic food, but I can't afford to eat there every day.  I wish I could.

Here are some things I pack for lunch.  If you are trying to cut carbs, these will help you since they are all gluten free.  I avoid using gluten free replacements.  They are expensive and quite frankly, most of them don't taste very good.  There are some good ones, but it takes a lot of trial and error, or the recommendation of friends, to find them.  So most of my lunches are naturally gluten free.

I found these great lunch containers at Wal-Mart. They were $4 each for a set of two and come with the  fork, and knife in the rectangular containers.  The salad containers have a separate cup for the dressing, so you can make salads up ahead of time.  These containers allow me to make lunch at one time instead of every day.

Salads - I buy the bagged lettuce and spinach and mix them together.  You can add whatever vegetables you want.  For protein I use chicken breast, tuna, salmon, whatever I happen to have on hand.

Quesadillas - Corn tortillas, cheese and your choice of other ingredients.  Chicken, beef, spinach, beans, whatever you want.

Portabella mushrooms - Flip a mushroom cap upside down.  Top with spinach, marinara sauce, sliced tomato and mozzarella or provolone cheese.  Bake at 350 until the cheese is lightly brown.

Veggie lasagna - I made this veggie lasagna last week.  It makes a 9x13 pan and I'm the only one who will eat it, so I cut it into single serving pieces and froze it.  I can just take out a single serving and put it in my lunch container.

Breakfast - Eggs are good protein.  Scrambled with some veggies and you're good to go.

Egg salad is a good option.  Mix in a half of an avocado for extra protein.  Spread it on sandwich bread, put it in a lettuce wrap, or eat it plain.  Here I added some cottage cheese and I'll grab a pear for my fiber filled fruit.

Last week I experimented with a recipe.  I made a spaghetti squash. (If you want to save time, pierce the squash a bunch of times, then microwave it for about 15 minutes. )  I mixed the squash with some parmesan cheese, a wedge of Laughing Cow cheese and some canned salmon.

Wraps - Just because you're gluten free doesn't mean you can't do wraps.  Use corn tortillas or lettuce instead of bread.

Get creative with your meals.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Frugal Living - Gluten free batch cooking

I've been absent for several months.  Life has been just plain crazy.  I think things are getting back to normal, so I have several blogs planned.

In the last few weeks I have gone gluten free.  No, I have not been diagnosed with Celiac, but I am doing it because of arthritis in my knees.  When I talked to my wonderful friend, Ruth, she explained to me how going gluten free had helped her Rheumatoid Arthritis.  I suffer from arthritis in both knees, no cartilage in either knee, and my knee caps slide, bone on bone.  I am in pain on a regular basis.  So, I decided to give it a shot.  Within about a week, a lump on my left knee disappeared!

If you are gluten free, you know how expensive some of the products can be. I cook so that we are naturally gluten free, not adding expensive items to our budget.

Today I did my grocery shopping for the next two weeks.  I still use my slow cooker, especially since from the time I get up in the morning, until I get home, it's 12 hours.  I'm too tired to cook.

Here is what I bagged and froze for the next two weeks.  Just click on the title of the recipe to be directed to the recipe website.  These are not my creations, so I want to give credit where credit is due.  All of my meals come straight from the freezer and get dumped into the slow cooker.  They usually cook for about 8 hours on low.

BBQ Pork Chops - This one doesn't need a recipe.  Take some pork chops, put them in a plastic bag and pour on your favorite BBQ sauce.  Our family favorite is Sweet Baby Rays.

Pork Chops Cacciatore

Peach Chicken - I ditched the fresh peaches and used a bag of frozen peaches.  I'm all about saving time.

Cube Steak with Gravy - I ditched the packaged gravy mix and just added beef broth.  I'll add a little slurry of water and cornstarch to thicken it up.

Sweet Chicken Bacon Wraps - This is not a slow cooker recipe, so I don't know how it will turn out.  However, my husband is thrilled with recipe.  It has bacon, brown sugar and chili powder.  It is a bit messy to put together, but it sounds good.

Beef and Broccoli- This is a family favorite. I alternate between stew meat, sirloin, or top round steak.  Depending on what is on sale. They all work out fine.  Go with the cheapest.

Applesauce BBQ Chicken - I used chicken leg quarters because they were cheaper.

Crockpot Mexican Lasagna - I put this together in a dish lined with foil.  When it's frozen, I'll put in a bag, still in the foil.  Then it can be easily transferred to the crock pot.  My husband will put it in when he comes for lunch, since this one doesn't need to cook as long.

Edit:  I discovered if you are cooking this from frozen, it does need to cook for 8 hours.  If you're not freezing it, 4 hours is fine.  

I have some meetings this week and won't be home for dinner, so I have ingredients for spaghetti and pizza since the rest of the family doesn't have to be gluten free.

There are some things that I do to save time.  It doesn't affect my budget very much and the time savings is SO worth it to me.

1) I use slow cooker liners.  They are from Reynolds and they can be found in the aisle where you'd find bags and foil.  They are awesome.

2) I don't measure seasoning.  I have a blend from Costco that I love.  It's an organic no salt seasoning and I use it on everything.  The link is to Amazon if you don't have a Costco near you.  It's a little pricer than Costco, but it is so worth it.

3) I buy pre-sliced when I can, if it's not that much more.  At my favorite Aldi store, the pre-sliced mushrooms are reasonable and save me a bunch of time.  There is also a jar of chopped garlic.  It's only a couple of dollars and worth every bit of it.

The other thing that I love about Aldi is that they carry their own brand of food and most of it is naturally gluten free.  If you're gluten free, you know about hidden gluten.  Aldi's brands don't have it in the places you have been looking.  Not in the Teriyaki sauce, or the chicken broth, or the other hidden places.  It's such a treat to find a naturally gluten free item that you can afford!

4) I make a big batch of rice at one time.  I use long grain rice, so it has to cook for 45 minutes.  I make the entire package at one time, so I'm not spending 45 minutes each night making a small batch.  All I have to do is spice it up.  Some nights I add some diced garlic and a little bit of olive oil, other nights I add veggies, and some nights it goes into the dish I'm making.

I spent a good bit of time making breakfasts and lunches for the next week as well, and those will be coming in future posts.  Enjoy your meals.

If you're on Pinterest, follow me and you'll see some of the recipes I use.  Not all are gluten free.