Gluten Free Travel

Jul 19, 2013 by


How do you plan gluten free travel?

What a busy week we have had! So much planning and preparation to send my son an a cross country trip with his gluten free and special dietary needs in mind.

So, how do you send a hungry 17 year old on a 2200 mile trip while still following his gluten free, non-GMO, nitrate free, food dye free, peanut free, cashew free and banana free diet. Wow, another challenge! I started this blog last year while planning his trip to the Boundary Waters with his new eating plan. All went well and this trip will also.

Kudos to the cook at the Boy Scout Salmon River High Adventure Camp for working with me on the menu planning. Jen came up with a great menu that works for my boy and likely no one will know it was specially planned with Austin in mind.

We tried to keep as close to his diet as possible with a few variations; non-GMO is not always available and he insisted on bringing along a case of Gatorade (uggghhh)…at least he picked the kind that didn’t have Red #40 in it.

My thought in posting this menu is to offer ideas to others struggling to plan a menu for camp or travel. I always tell my son that his diet should NEVER limit what he wants to do!

Here is the menu.

Day 1: 507 miles of travel

Lunch: Lettuce roll ups (organic romaine wrapped around Applegate Farms ham & turkey and Organic Creamery colby/jack cheese from Costco, Chebe cheese bread (made into small buns), Fruit cups(not organic), frozen organic green beans (Costco), almond flour brownie (froze them and shrink wrapped for freshness), Annie’s fruit snacks

Dinner: Steak, Rice & Corn (troop meal they planned with Austin’s diet in mind)

Day 2: 519 miles of travel

Breakfast: gluten free instant oatmeal, Enjoy Life cereal bars and fruit (also boiled eggs with the rest of the group)

Lunch: Lettuce roll ups, Chebe buns, fruit cups, green beans, brownie, fruit snacks (see description Day 1)

Dinner: premade gluten free pizza with Namaste pizza crust (froze and shrink wrapped on metal pizza tray)…the Pizza Hut that they are eating at said “no problem” to cooking his pizza for him

Day 3: 228 miles

Breakfast: gluten free instant oatmeal, Enjoy Life cereal bars and fruit

Lunch: Lettuce roll ups, Chebe buns, fruit cups, green beans, brownie, fruit snacks (see description Day 1)

Dinner: the group is eating MRE’s so he is enjoying Nature’s Earthly Choice quinoa pasta, (cooked ahead of time and in a bag), homemade pesto (from our garden…we froze for him to enjoy on trip), frozen organic green beans, fruit cups


Day 4,5,6,: Salmon River High Adv Base prepared by cook Jen

Monday Breakfast: Oatmeal, boiled eggs, apples, oranges, canned peaches

Monday Lunch: tuna, gluten free tortilla chips, watermelon & grapes

Monday Dinner: BBQ meatballs (no bread crumbs) over rice, homemade BBQ sauce, broccoli, green salad

Tuesday Breakfast: scrambled eggs, fresh fruit

Tuesday Lunch: turkey roll ups with fresh veggies, fruit, homemade pickles, and she is making up gluten free cookies especially for Austin from a King Arthur mix I am sending along

Tuesday Dinner: chicken breast, sweet potatoes, green salad, homemade apple sauce

Wednesday: Breakfast: scrambled eggs, fresh fruit

Wednesday Lunch: taco salad with tortilla chips


Day 6: 212 miles

Dinner: gluten free Pizza or Pasta at Pizza Pie Café in Rexburg, Idaho; yeah for restaurants with a gluten free menu!


Day 7: 126 miles (visiting sites in Yellowstone)

Breakfast: gluten free instant oatmeal, Enjoy Life cereal bars and fruit

Lunch: Pacific Foods Organic Chicken & Wild Rice Soup and fruit cups

Dinner: gluten free pizza at Scout camp (they are making it up special for him)


Day 8: 406 miles

Breakfast: gluten free instant oatmeal, Enjoy Life cereal bars and fruit

Lunch: Valley Fresh natural chicken pouches and whatever he has leftover

Dinner: Boil Nature’s Earthly Choice quinoa pasta with jar or organic tomato basil sauce from Aldi (he will cook at campsite)


Day 9: 654 miles to travel home!

Breakfast: Oatmeal, cereal bars and fruit

Lunch: leftover pasta & sauce




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Party Food…Naturally!

Feb 20, 2013 by

My husband loves a party.

Since changing our diets, it can be hard sometimes to figure out what to serve at a party. I don’t make food I can’t eat. Finally, after a year of eating with a restricted diet, I am comfortable entertaining and making things my way.

We recently had a party with good friends. It was a great night of food, conversation and a funny round of the “Not so Newlywed Game.”

Since, I like to write about food, I will skip the details of the game…except to say that my husband still doesn’t pay attention to details about me. Last year he didn’t know what color eyes I have (really?) this year, he didn’t know what my favorite kind of chocolate is (it is milk chocolate for anyone keeping track.)

OK, back to the food…

I made bacon wrapped water chestnuts.


if you have never made these bite size treasures, what are you waiting for? Who doesn’t like LOVE a bacon wrapped water chestnut? My friend was so funny, as Lent started just after the party, and the priest was talking about being glutenous, and how it is a sin, anyway, she asked if eating 16 bacon wrapped water chestnuts was glutenous…YES! but they sure were good! I know, I know…that was a major run-on sentence.

I started with Costco’s Coleman bacon; all natural, vegetarian fed and no nitrates. Often, I buy bacon from the farmer’s market, but the Coleman is great when I don’t have the local stuff available.

Bacon wrapped chestnuts before being dipped in sauce

Bacon wrapped chestnuts before being dipped in sauce and baked for the final time

Bacon Wrapped Water Chestnuts
(recipe from my Mom)

  • 1# plus a bit more of bacon, cut into 1/3 strips
    (I base how much bacon I need on how many chestnuts are in the can)
  • 3 cans whole water chestnuts
  • wrap bacon around chestnut and secure with toothpick
  • bake at 350 on parchment lined pan until bacon is cooked, but not crispy
  • I transfer them to a new parchment lined pan so I don’t have all the bacon grease stuck to them
  • Heat & boil: 1 cup organic ketchup and 1- 1/2 cups organic brown sugar
  • Dip chestnuts in sauce and wrap on tray until ready to bake
  • 30 minutes before serving, pop in oven and bake until crispy

The other recipe I LOVE for parties are Pickle Wraps. While I didn’t make them this time, because I found out someone else was bringing them, I had all the ingredients ready to go.

Did you know that regular pickles have food dyes in them? Why is that? Do we really need them a more vivid green color? Trader Joe’s sells delicious pickles without food dyes. I am addicted to their sweet & sour pickle chips, but for this recipe, use their dill pickles. I also use organic cream cheese and Applegate Farms  nitrate free deli ham (sold at Trader Joe’s for $3.99/pack.) Yum! I am hungry just thinking about these delicious morsels.

Tomorrow, I will share an amazing dessert I made…


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My love for oatmeal

Feb 4, 2013 by

I have always enjoyed oatmeal. The oatmeal of my past was loaded with brown sugar and raisins…so sweet, it was like dessert. It was so creamy and delicious.

A few years ago, I tried oatmeal without the sugar and it didn’t make me excited to eat it. Somewhere along the line, I heard of mixing ripe bananas into the oatmeal. This addition added the perfect amount of sweetness to the oatmeal that I now can enjoy without brown sugar!

My favorite version of oatmeal is cooking Trader Joe’s rolled oats, 1 teaspoon Penzey’s China Tung Hing Cinnamon, and organic 1% milk. I cook for 10-15 minutes, then add to a whole mashed ripe banana, walnuts, organic blueberries, and dried cherries. Amazing!

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Just before Christmas, I saw on another blog an oatmeal spoon on Etsy. I had to buy it!

My Mom loves oatmeal (is that where I got my love for it?) So, I ordered her a spoon and one for myself. Wrapped it up and opened it on Christmas Eve. What a surprise! Now, anytime I have oatmeal for breakfast, I have my special spoon to go with my cute snowman bowl.

Oatmeal is so comforting on a cold, winter morning…and, good for me too!

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Namaste Products are Awesome!

Nov 8, 2012 by

Well, we found out recently, in addition to the long list of food items we can’t eat, potatoes are now part of that list. Apparently, they are part of the night shade family which can often cause problems with asthma and arthritis. When you pare down the foods you eat, it doesn’t take much to figure out what continues to cause problems. So, of course our pantry is full of gluten free items that contain potato flour or potato starch. I had to purge the cabinets and freezer of many of our new favorite items…bummer! So, what do you do? Well, luckily, we had just previously found Namaste products and they are free of wheat, gluten, corn, soy, potato, dairy, casein, tree nuts or peanuts. In addition, their ingredients are non-GMO…everything we look for in food products!

I was curious about the name Namaste (I was pronouncing it wrong for weeks.) Per their web site, the word “Namaste” (pronounced “Naa-Maa-Stay”) is an ancient Sanskrit word with no literal translation. They chose this translation…”The Spirit within me honors and respects the Spirit within you.” The word ‘Spirit’ in this context has no particular religious connotation. You could substitute the word ‘Heart’ or ‘Soul’ if you like. The essence of the phrase is simply that the best part of me wishes you well – in every way. In seeking to offer you delicious gluten and allergen-free foods, we nourish the body. In nourishing the body, we hope to help nourish the mind and the spirit so you can enjoy optimum health.



Namaste Apple Spice Mix Muffins

I like what this company stands for and it meets our needs…now, I had to find out how I liked the products. Will they work for our family? Will they work for Cafe Cravings gluten free menu?

Since I already had the Spice Cake Mix, I thought I would try again as cupcakes, as when I made it in the 9×13 pan, it was a bit gummy. The cupcake/muffin format was the winner. I made the apple variation featured on the package and made18 cupcakes out of the bag. It probably could have made more had I not filled my tins so high. By the way, I use sunflower oil now with all my mixes, etc to stay away from the GMO oils. I buy at Trader Joe’s and the price is reasonable. The cupcakes were fantastic. In fact, next time I am going to try them with pear and add some ginger and I think they will taste exactly like Cafe Cravings low-fat ginger pear muffins. They were gone quickly!


20121103-202823.jpg Intrigued about the products, I went to Amazon and ordered the pancake/waffle mix. Since I have Amazon Prime, the mix was at my house in 2 days. Excited, we gave them a try. Now, I had read online that when making them as pancakes they got too dark and crispy but people really liked the waffle version. We liked them too! They do brown up much quicker than my old recipe. They also aren’t terribly sweet, but once you add pure maple syrup or fruit, you won’t even notice or need any extra sweetness. I have since ordered another case of 6 bags, we liked it so much. Nothing like waffles and farmer’s market bacon on a weekend morning!

The next products I ordered were the chocolate cake and Blondies. I made the chocolate cake as cupcakes and they were terrific. My niece, nephew and parents stopped over the day before Halloween and gobbled up the cupcakes. My Mom, who is the baker at Cafe Cravings thought they were wonderful and could easily be served at the restaurant. I did find that the taste of the cupcakes got even better after being refrigerated overnight. Next time I make them, I am going to try with an old recipe adding a dollop of a cream cheese/chocolate chip mix in the middle…my son’s favorite cupcakes from before our dietary changes.

The other day I made up the Blondies. The bars remind me of a cookie bar. I added some chocolate chips and the pan disappeared quickly. I think next time I make them I will add white chocolate chips and macadamia nuts. Once again, I am thrilled to have these mixes available that meet all of our dietary requirements and taste delicious. Sure, I could make everything homemade, but the ratio and expenses of the flour varieties just aren’t appealing when I have found these mixes so readily available.

The brownies are OK…gluten free brownies just don’t come close to their gluten filled counterparts. BUT, they do fill the chocolate cravings void.

We made up the muffin mix the other day and my son was very happy with the consistency and texture. They look and bake up just like gluten muffins. I made the mix with apple juice instead of the water, per the suggestion on the package. I added some wild blueberries and raw sugar on top. They do have that subtle gluten-free taste, that makes them taste a little different than muffins from our past, but they are good and will be our “got to” muffin mix going forward.

Namaste Blueberry Muffins

The package directions for the Namaste products are easy to follow and the baking times are accurate. I still have a cookie mix to try and plan on trying the pizza crust, flour mix and pie crust in the coming weeks. I have heard about their coating mixes, but haven’t seen them at the store yet.

I hear that HomeGoods (particularly the one in Oakdale) often has Namaste products on clearance…I will definitely have to check them out!



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Life Moves Forward

Oct 11, 2012 by

Wow, time has flown by since my last post. I have thought of lots of stuff to say, but got out of the habit of writing them down. This blogging thing just doesn’t come naturally to me.

We are still moving forward on our quest to change eating habits. My intentions have gained ground after seeing this video. I informed my family last night that we would slowly add an additional cup of vegetables to our daily diets each week. I know you can’t make changes like that overnight, so hopefully, a slow and purposeful change will make it easier. I recommend watching the video and considering a change. It is amazing what this woman with MS did to take control of her life. I imagine this is possible with most any chronic illness.

In the last week or so, Austin and I came to the realization that we aren’t tolerating potatoes well. It appeared that anytime we ate potatoes, we would not feel great and have some asthmatic symptoms. Austin noticed that he had an increase in inflammation whenever he ate food that contains potato flour or potato starch. After doing some research, I found that there is a link to night shade vegetables and many medical ailments. If you are interested in more information about this intolerance here are two articles I found interesting Nightshade Foods and Eliminating Nightshade Vegetables May Improve Your Health. I do miss potatoes, but I like that I feel better. Another night shade veggie is tomatoes. I don’t eat many tomatoes (other than what is in ketchup or BBQ sauce) but I was in a mood for tomato soup the other day and enjoyed a wonderful bowl of Trader Joe’s organic tomato and roasted red pepper soup. The soup was delicious and fresh tasting. In fact, Austin commented that it tasted like real tomato soup (not like Campbells at all.) I recommend it! BUT, I had terrible breathing trouble and extreme pain in my chest area for almost 24 hours after eating it. I am going to be more careful about my food choices. Although, sometimes it might be worth a little discomfort. I just think it is so interesting how you can really identify what foods are causing trouble when you simplify your diet.

I typically eat oatmeal every morning. I mash a banana in the bowl for sweetness, add some yummy dried cherries and fresh berries along with a full teaspoon of Penzey’s China Tung Hing Cinnamon. The cinnamon has an incredible taste. A friend told me to add cinnamon to the diet for the wonderful health benefits, plus it tastes good.

Anyway, for variety, I wanted to enjoy some yogurt and granola with fruit on occasional mornings. I purchased some Bliss Gourmet Foods granola, made in small batches in St. Paul, MN and it was incredible. But, also quite expensive. So, I made my own using similar ingredients. I LOVE IT! I want to have yogurt and granola more than ever now (I enjoy Trader Joe’s organic french vanilla yogurt.) Here is my recipe if you want to try it. I took the main recipe from Stephanie Hansen’s Food blog and made it my own. Let me know if you give it a try and how you like it.



Granola Ingredients:

6 cups rolled oats (I used Trader Joe’s gluten free oats)

1 bag of Trader Joe’s raw pecan pieces (8 oz bag)…I might add more next time, you can never have enough pecans!

1/4 + cup Trader Joe’s organic brown sugar (the original recipe calls for double this amount, but I thought it was too sweet…decide for yourself)

1/4 + cup plus tablespoons real maple syrup (again, the recipe called for double this amount, so use your best judgement)…I get my Three Rivers Farm syrup from the farmer’s market and it is awesome

1/2 cup olive oil

2 teaspoon Penzey’s sea salt

1 -2 teaspoon cinnamon (based on preference, I use 2 tsp)

1 cup dried cherries (or your favorite dried fruit)

1/2 cup sunflower seeds


Preheat oven to 250 degrees F.

In a large bowl, combine the oats, cinnamon, nuts, seeds, and brown sugar.

In a separate bowl, combine real maple syrup, olive oil, and salt. Combine both mixtures and pour onto 3 parchment lined sheet pans.

Cook low and slow for 1 hour and 15 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes to achieve an even color.

Remove from oven and transfer into a large bowl. Add dried fruit and mix until evenly distributed.

Feel free to add coconut, almonds, walnuts, other dried fruit as desired. Yum!

Store in a tightly sealed glass jar or package as gifts for those you like 🙂

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