Gluten-Free Birthday “Pizza” Cake

Posted on September 16th, 2015 by Alison | Read 3 Comments - Add Your Own »

The idea for this year’s cake design came from my 9 year old birthday girl herself, who knew exactly what she wanted because she saw it on a You Tube video from the popular Rosanna Pansino of Nerdy Nummies. Pizza Cake — a cake made to look like a pizza. I have to admit, this was a fun cake to make because I had my little helper by my side, cutting out and creating all the “pizza” toppings. We actually made two gluten-free pizza cakes (one of them was also egg-free so her egg-allergic sister could have some too).

Gluten-Free Pizza Cake

Because pizzas are flat, the cakes only needed to be one layer. We used a 10″ round cake pan (yes, I bought one since I did not have that size). We also bought a Cake Leveler(daughter insisted we needed it – it actually was pretty cool!)

Use any gluten-free vanilla cake mix (we used Pamela’s) — if you use a chocolate cake mix, it won’t look like pizza when you cut it. After baking and cooling your 10″ round cake, you can trim the rounded top with the cake leveler to make it completely flat.

While the cake is cooling, you can get the toppings ready (see below) and make frosting (like a basic buttercream) and color some of it with a yellow or tan food coloring for the pizza crust, and some of it with the reddest red you can get for the tomato sauce. (A note from me on food coloring — no, I don’t like it, as I am a natural foodie, but there are just some times, like when making pizza birthday cakes, that you just have to let it go! 🙂 ) Have all of the toppings ready before you frost the cake because you want them to stick in the fresh frosting.

TOPPINGS:

  • Grated white chocolate (Ghirardelli – found in baking aisle) for the cheese. It was kind of a pain to grate but the Nerdy Nummies tip. to keep in frig and use tin foil to hold it, helped.
  • Fruit rolls for the pepperoni (rather than fruit strips as shown in the video — either work fine. The fruit roll is stickier than the strip). My daughter free-form cut circles out instead of using a round cookie cutter because we didn’t have a round cookie cutter. Or maybe she traced circles onto the fruit roll with a knife and then cut them out. I wasn’t really paying attention.
  • Tootsie Rolls for the olives, but we couldn’t find regular size ones, so we used minis. My daughter cut a slice of it, smashed it down with the bottom of a glass and then used a decorating tip to cut a hole in it. Lot of work but she enjoyed it and she really enjoyed eating the tootsie olive holes along the way.
  • Milk Duds for sausages
  • Airheads Bites, cut up, for the green peppers — these are NOT gluten-free. She insisted on having them. (For a list of GF and allergen-free candies, please see my annual Halloween Candy List.)

We bought 12 inch cardboard rounds at a cake decorating shop to put the cakes on when we frosted them, and we asked a local pizza restaurant for 12 inch boxes. It made for a great presentation and a surprise for everyone because they thought we had ordered pizza!

Gluten-Free Pizza Cakes

Want to see past birthday treats? Here they are:

Happy Birthday to my girls and a surprise allergen-free dessert

Happy Birthday to my girls and Aloha! gluten-free cakes

Happy birthday to my girls and wow! gluten-free mermaid cakes!

Happy Birthday to my girls and fish cakes

A gluten-free dairy-free egg-free birthday menu


Gluten-Free in Hawaii (Maui and Kauai)

Posted on July 23rd, 2015 by Alison | ADD A COMMENT »

On a recent trip to Hawaii, I was so pleased to find that almost every restaurant we went to had a menu with a GF symbol next to each menu item, had a separate gluten-free menu, or had a knowledgeable person taking our order (never a blank stare). In general, the restaurants in Hawaii are expensive. I’m sure locals have places they go, but we didn’t really go off the beaten path this trip. What I was impressed with was the Keiki (children’s) menus. Many went beyond the usual chicken fingers and french fries to include fresh fish, steak, fresh fruit and other healthy options at a reasonable price.

MAUI
Mama’s Fish House
When we arrived on Maui, our first stop was Mama’s Fish House, a longtime favorite spot of my husband’s family. Just as the name indicates, Mama’s serves fresh fish, brought daily to the restaurant by local fishermen. The menu can change during the day depending on what fish comes in. Even though they do not have a gluten-free menu, the staff is very knowledgeable about their dishes. Our server was also great about my daughter’s multiple food allergies and pointed out that the purple flower is on the plate to indicate that it is a special dietary accommodation. Two dishes I loved that were recommended by our server were:

Beef Polynesian — seared tenderloin in a grilled Hana papaya
Beef Polynesian

Ono (a local Hawaiian fish) marinated in Tahitian lime and coconut milk, served in a coconut
Ono in Coconut

Maui Whole Foods
From there we headed to Napili, on the northwest side of Maui, where we stayed in a condo with kitchen. On the way, we made a stop at the Maui Whole Foods to stock up on some basics like GF bread, rice cakes, cheese, fruit and other snacks. There are a few other natural foods markets in the area also that carry gluten-free foods.

Maui Sugar Shop
Maui Sugar Shop TreatsMaui Sugar Shop is an entirely gluten-free bakeshop on Maui! The owners, Zane and Cynthia (shown below with me in their shop), are so friendly and their baked goods are delicious. They use all natural, organic, locally-grown, non-GMO ingredients like liliko’i (passionfruit) in the muffin and banana in the mini banana and chocolate loaf shown in the picture. My daughter with multiple food allergies was able to get something also — an oatmeal cookie whoopie pie with cinnamon frosting!

Maui Sugar Shop

Gluten-Free Soy SauceSea House, Kimo’s, Hula Grill
We ate many meals at Sea House Restaurant, located on Napili Bay. They have a gluten-free menu for every meal with many options. Because we were staying there, kids (12 and under I think) ate free at every meal! The food was good and easy for us during the day on the beach when we didn’t feel like getting in a car. When we did venture out with the entire family (9 of us), we went to the well-known Hula Grill in Ka’anapali and Kimo’s in Lahaina, which both also had GF markings on their menu. It seemed that most places had gluten-free tamari if you asked (the common brand was Yamasa).

Tobi’s Shave Ice (and Ahi Poke!)
Shave Ice is naturally gluten-free and allergen-free and a common treat all over Hawaii. A friend recommended Tobi’s Shave Ice in Paia so we stopped in on a very hot day. The shave ice really was good — the texture of the ice was very light and the syrups were also light and flavorful (much lighter than some other shave ice places that have thick sugary sweet syrups like you put on a snow cone). I actually craved Tobi’s shave ice later in the trip! But the best part of Tobi’s was the fresh ahi poke that I was surprised to find there. Made to order, the poke is a combination of fresh, raw ahi tuna with a variety of additions, like tamari, sesame oil, seaweed, Maui onions, hot chili sauce, and roasted crushed kukui nut. Not all the combinations are gluten-free, but the woman making the poke was very knowledgeable and made me a GF version. She even packed it with ice packs for me to keep it as fresh since we had to drive about an hour back to the condo. My husband and I ate it for dinner that night with brown rice on the side and the GF crackers we had.

Tobi's Shave Ice

Hyatt-Island-Resorts-For-Kids-By-Kids-Menu-1KAUAI
Grand Hyatt Poipu

We were only in Kauai for a few days, and stayed on the south shore in Poipu.

At the Grand Hyatt, every menu is marked with “GF” – there is a great children’s menu on the Seaview Terrace and room service that includes gluten-free chicken tenders and gluten-free pasta that comes with a protein (my daughter chose grass-fed steak and it was delicious!)

Also at the Grand Hyatt is a restaurant called Tidepools, which was where my husband and I had our only date night of the trip. It is a pretty setting on the hotel’s “lagoon” which is filled with koi fish. The food was really good and our waiter was very knowledgeable, friendly and accommodating. They offered us GF bread at dinner, which was Udi’s and though I am not a huge fan of Udi’s and have gotten used to not eating bread before dinner, it did really hit the spot at that moment with the delicious butter they served with it!

Aloha Aina Juice Bar
Acai Bowls, Juices and Smoothies can be found at the Aloha Aina Juice Bar located inside the Kukui’ula Grocery Store in Koloa.

Da Crack
If you are craving Mexican food in Hawaii, then make a pit stop at Da Crack. I am pretty spoiled when it comes to Mexican food so I thought the food was average, but if you are really hungry and looking for a fast casual meal, which is what we were looking for after a morning at Waimea Canyon, then I would say try it out. You order at the counter which is pretty much a crack in the wall, and there is only a nearby bench to sit on… we ate in the car. I got a bowl with pork, my husband and daughter got tacos and my other daughter requested quesadillas made with corn tortillas. Everything was gluten-free except the flour tortillas for the burritos.

The Beach House Restaurant
Although I wasn’t terribly impressed with the lunch at The Beach House (am I hard to please, or what?), they did have a separate gluten-free menu and the view of surfers was really fun. Right next to the restaurant is a good snorkeling spot, so it was a convenient place to eat before we ventured out to peer at the fish. There is supposed to be a very nice view of the sunset at dinnertime. I have a feeling the gluten-y things on the menu might be better than the gluten-free items… at least that’s what our server told me many times. I would probably go back and give this place another chance.

Have you been to Hawaii? Where did you eat? Please share your recommendations!

 


Orgain Nutrition Shake, a healthy alternative to Ensure

Posted on May 14th, 2015 by Alison | Read 6 Comments - Add Your Own »

OrgainMy younger daughter (8 years old) recently had a piece of food get stuck in her throat. She was shaken by the event more than I realized, and she had trouble eating. I thought that her anxiety would pass more quickly than it did and that she would begin eating normally, but a day turned into three, and the doctors found ketones in her urine.

I learned that ketones in urine can indicate that a person isn’t getting enough calories or nutrition. I knew she needed more calories, but she was refusing to eat foods with any texture at all. The doctor recommended that she drink Ensure, the most popular brand of nutrition shakes. I headed to the pharmacy, read the ingredients on the cans of Ensure, and thought to myself, “I am not putting this crap in my baby.”

A trip to Whole Foods and a talk with the employee in the vitamin aisle led me to Orgain, a brand of a nutrition shakes with all natural, organic ingredients. I was so relieved to find this product and over the next few days, these shakes were a life-saver for my daughter. These got her through the psychological hump from only being able to drink liquids and eat soft foods, to introducing foods with texture back into her diet. It has been three weeks since she choked, and she is still not back to eating all the foods she used to. She still likes to occasionally drink the “chocolate milk” (Orgain Creamy Chocolate Fudge nutritional shake) and now I use the vanilla Orgain as a base in smoothies for both of my children.

I have no personal stake in this brand — I just thought I would share this information in case someone else is ever advised to drink Ensure. There is a healthier alternative! Once I read about the founder, a cancer survivor and doctor, I felt even better about my choice.

Compare the ingredients…

Ensure Original Milk Chocolate:

Water, Corn Maltodextrin, Sugar, Milk Protein Concentrate, Soy Oil, Soy Protein Isolate, Sucromalt, Cocoa Powder (Processed with Alkali), Canola Oil. Less than 0.5% of the Following: Corn Oil, Magnesium Phosphate, Potassium Citrate, Cellulose Gel, Natural & Artificial Flavor, Potassium Chloride, Sodium Citrate, Calcium Phosphate, Calcium Carbonate, Salt, Choline Chloride, Ascorbic Acid, Cellulose Gum, Monoglycerides, Soy Lecithin, Carrageenan, Potassium Hydroxide, Liquid Sucralose, Ferric Orthophosphate, dl-Alpha-Tocopheryl Acetate, Acesulfame Potassium, Zinc Sulfate, Niacinamide, Manganese Sulfate, Calcium Pantothenate, Cupric Sulfate, Vitamin A Palmitate, Thiamine Chloride Hydrochloride, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Riboflavin, Folic Acid, Chromium Chloride, Biotin, Sodium Molybdate, Sodium Selenate, Potassium Iodide, Cyanocobalamin, Phylloquinone, and Vitamin D3.

Orgain Organic Nutrition Shake Creamy Chocolate Fudge:

Water, Orgain Organic Protein Blend (Organic Whey Protein Concentrate, Organic Grass Fed Milk Protein Concentrate), Orgain Organic Carbohydrate Blend (Organic Evaporated Cane Juice, Organic Brown Rice Syrup, Organic Rice Syrup Solids), Organic High Oleic Sunflower Oil, Organic Cocoa, Organic Inulin, Organic Guar Gum, Organic Arabic Gum, Xanthan Gum, Organic Rice Bran Extract, Sodium Phosphate, Tricalcium Phosphate, Potassium Citrate, Potassium Chloride, Carrageenan Gum, Sea Salt, Organic Stevia
Orgain Vitamin Blend: Tocopherol Acetate, Sodium Ascorbate, Zinc Gluconate, Niacinamide, Calcium Pantothenate, Copper Gluconate, Vitamin A Palmitate, Thiamine Hydrochloride, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Riboflavin, Folic Acid, Biotin, Potassium Iodide, Cholecacalciferol, Cyanocobalamin, Magnesium Sulfate
Orgain Organic Veggie Blend: (Organic Kale, Organic Beet, Organic Spinach, Organic Carrot, Organic Tomato) 50mg.
Orgain Organic Fruit Blend: (Organic Blueberry, Organic Banana, Organic Acai, Organic Apple, Organic Raspberry) 50mg.

All Orgain products are gluten-free, soy-free, organic, and non-GMO. The regular shakes have dairy, but there is a line of vegan shakes also.


Increased rates of pregnancy complications in women with celiac disease

Posted on April 22nd, 2015 by Alison | ADD A COMMENT »

Pregnancy Photo by Ben EarwickerI have always felt lucky that I began a gluten-free diet two years before I became pregnant with my children. Although it wasn’t easy for me to get pregnant, by the time I did, my body had healed significantly from the effects of gluten that could have led to serious complications like miscarriage, premature delivery, low birth weight or even stillbirth.

Important nutritional deficiencies (of zinc, selenium, iron and folate) associated with undiagnosed celiac disease may be partially to blame for complications in pregnancy. I was severely anemic before my celiac diagnosis and shudder to think how the lack of iron would have affected my baby.

A new study published in the Annals of Gastroenterology confirms prior research on how celiac disease affects pregnancy by concluding that compared with women in the general population, women with undiagnosed celiac disease have significant increases in spontaneous abortions (miscarriage), preterm delivery and delayed menarche (beginning of menstruation), resulting in fewer successful pregnancies.

Here are the points made by the researchers of this study:

  • Significantly fewer women with celiac disease who tried to become pregnant had successful delivery of one or more pregnancies, suggesting that women with celiac may have a significantly lower rate of fertility.
  • A significantly higher number of spontaneous abortions (miscarriages) occurred in women with celiac compared to controls, with 85% of them occurring before beginning a gluten-free diet.
  • Women with untreated celiac disease are at an increased risk of pregnancy complications.
  • Women with celiac disease have a higher prevalence of preterm deliveries (premature babies).
  • Undiagnosed celiac disease should be considered in patients with recurrent complications of pregnancy, and these women should be given blood tests to detect celiac disease.
  • (This is my point I am adding: even if negative for celiac disease, consider getting tested for gluten sensitivity or go on a gluten-free diet — gluten sensitivity can cause a myriad of health problems.)

As I mentioned above, these findings are not necessarily new — the study mentions much prior research conducted in this area. Alice Bast, the founder of the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness (NFCA) has been sharing this information for years. By the time she discovered she had celiac, she had suffered through the trauma of delivering a full-term stillbirth, multiple miscarriages and a baby born at only 3 pounds. You can read more about Alice’s story here and here.

I encourage you to read the full study I have summarized above: Increased rates of pregnancy complications in women with celiac disease and please pass it along to anyone you know who is having complications with fertility or pregnancy. Feel free to share your own stories here to help others.