international celiac awareness

October was formerly recognized as North American Celiac Awareness month. In order to be aligned with  the international celiac community, both Canada and the United States recently began recognizing May. It was viewed to be critical that celiac disease be higlighted internationally in May, a month in which other autoimmune diseases linked to celiac (like lupus, arthritis, diabetes, food allergies, etc.) are also noted.

In 2006, the United States Senate designated September 13 as “Celiac Awareness Day.”  Irrespective of when celiac awareness “day” or “month” takes place, it presents itself with an opportune moment to stop, and reflect about how we can spread the word about celiac disease, its symptoms, and how it affects so many unsuspecting Americans. There are a number of ways you can help: talk to your local grocer, media outlets, school districts, local leaders and doctors offices. There is a truly inspiring story about the difference one person can make here. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) recently launched a website for celiac awareness – a huge step toward promoting a source of information for those affected by the disease.  You’ll find the link here.  It’s good and straightforward information.


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We were at a wedding in Key West this past summer and upon entering the reception gardens, they served mangoritas. I admit that I was unfamiliar with them until that point. But, they were really delicious and very refreshing on such a hot day. This weekend, I threw my husband a surprise party – and I decided that it would be fitting to serve the Key West mangorita for our guests. Although it’s not exact, I came very close. I suspect the difference is using fresh mango puree versus using mango juice. Since mangoes are out of season, I chose to use juice instead. I prefer Ceres 100% juice.  It’s from South Africa and it’s amazing. I first tasted it on my premier journey to South Africa to visit my husband while we were dating.  It became available in the U.S. about 18 months ago. 

2 oz 100% agave tequila
1 oz Cointreau (orange flavored liqueur)
1 oz orange juice
1 oz freshly squeezed lime juice
4 oz mango juice (see headnote)

Mix all ingredients over ice in a shaker. Shake for 30 seconds. And pour into a glass. Garnish with lime wedge.

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banana pancakes

Where have all the fluffy, delicious pancakes gone?  I have tried most pancake mixes – and, to be honest, I think they have an interesting after-taste.  They also seem to produce really sad, flat pancakes. A while back, I discovered Arrowhead Mills Gluten Free Pancake & Baking Mix. And I have remained faithful to it.  My children requested pancakes this morning. There’s something about pancakes with bananas and a touch of agave nectar on top…it’s delicious.

1 cup Arrowhead Mills Mix
1 egg
1 tblsp coconut oil
1/4 cup non-dairy milk or water
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 banana, sliced into rounds
1-2 tblsps agave nectar

Mix egg, oil, milk (or water)  and cinnamon together. Add the dry mix to the wet ingredients. Let sit for 3-5 minutes while the skillet is pre-heating. Drop 2 tblsp dollops onto the warmed skillet, forming dollar size pancakes.

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taco bar

Throughout summer and early fall, we have taco bar at our house a few times a month. Everyone loves it because the ingredients are put out,  and we all get to pick and choose our toppings. In the end, everyone is happy. It’s great for a Friday night dinner when it’s too much to prepare an elaborate spread. From a seasonal perspective, I think this may be one of the last taco bars of the year, because tomato, corn and pepper seasons are coming to a close. Besides being delicious, I love this dish for the main reason that every color of the nutritional rainbow is represented – so it’s a home run. You can make these tacos with chicken, ground beef, ground buffalo or ground turkey. If you don’t want meat as your filler, you can always make this a vegetarian meal with some rice and beans on the side.

For the meat: 

1 one pound package organic white meat ground turkey
1/2 white onion, minced
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
pinch cayenne

For the (optional) toppings:

1 red pepper
1 orange pepper
1 green pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tblsp extra virgin olive oil
salt & pepper
1 14 oz can Amy’s Traditional Refried Beans
1 tomato, diced or gluten free salsa of your choice
1 jalapeno, chopped finely
2 avocados, cubed
corn chips
rice (Spanish or cilantro lime)
corn (cut from the cob)

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  2. While oven is heating, slice the 3 peppers into strips. Toss in a baking dish or shallow pan with olive oil, garlic and salt & pepper. Bake in the oven for 45 minutes.
  3. While the peppers are roasting, measure out spices and set aside in a glass bowl. Set a skillet over medium heat and add the spice mixture. Cook for about 3-5 minutes until the spices become fragrant. This is called “blooming” the spices. Remove spices from the skillet and set aside in a glass bowl. 
  4. Heat 2 tblsp olive oil in the skillet and add the onion. Saute for about 8 minutes. Add the meat. Stir occasionally to ensure all the pieces are broken up. 
  5. After about 5 minutes, sprinkle the spice mixture over the meat/onion mixture. Saute  for another 5 minutes.
  6. While the meat is simmering, prepare the toppings of your choice into small to medium size bowls in a “buffet style” set-up.

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rustic pear apple tart

Yesterday, I was at the market. Pears were everywhere. Which means: fall has officially arrived!!! I bought four 3-pound bags. I couldn’t help myself. I thought I would continue on my preserving streak. That is, if the pears even make it into the freezer before we eat them all.  This morning, I thought it would be really fun for the kids and me to hunker down and make something quintessential autumn: pears and apple together in a tart. Because gluten free tart crusts can be quite temperamental, I decided to draw on my time living in France and make a cross between a standard tart and a clafoutis (pronounce clah-foo-TEA). Clafoutis has a custard-like tendency. But, if you make it using less liquid and eggs, it resembles a tart. They are wonderful. And they can handle the juiciness of these two fall fruits. After this came out of the oven (and I tasted it), I decided that this dessert will hold a special place at Thanksgiving this year…with vanilla ice cream, of course….

For the fruit mixture:

4 small pears, sliced thinly
2 medium apples, sliced thinly
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground ginger
2 tblsp honey
juice of 1 lemon
1 1/2 tblsp gluten free flour (all-purpose flour blend)

For the tart mixture:

4 ounces (just over 2/3 cup packed) ground almonds
3 ounces white rice flour (need help measuring? Go here).
3 ounces sweet rice flour
2 eggs
1/3 cup agave nectar
3/4 cup non-dairy milk

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Peel pears and apples and slice thinly. Toss in a bowl with honey, spices and flour. Set aside and let flavors meld while you’re preparing the tart mixture.
  3. In the bowl of a food processor, grind almonds to a fine powder. Be careful not to grind too much or you end up with almond butter! Remove and set aside.
  4. Place eggs, milk, agave in the food processor bowl and pulse two times to combine. Add almonds and flours and pulse a few times more. The batter is a liquid – but it is on the thicker side. Transfer to a baking dish. (I used a piece of stoneware that had a lid).  Layer apple pear mixture over the batter. Using a knife, gently swirl the apples and pears into the batter (just so some pieces of fruit show through in the finished product).
  5. Bake 60 minutes covered. Remove lid. Bake an additional 10 minutes (so that the top browns). If you are using something without a lid – you may need to cover the tart with some foil to prevent too much browning on the top…

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banana peach smoothie

Organic peaches grow in the beautiful orchards out in Western Colorado and I bought a case of them. Which translates roughly into about 60 peaches. My goal was to preserve some so we could brighten a dreary winter day with some kind of peach treat. As such, last week I spent a few hours (ok more than a few) freezing peaches for the winter. I peeled them, cut them into thick slices,  placed them 2 inches apart on non-stick cookie sheets, covered them with Press n’ Seal – and into the freezer for about 2 hours.  Then from there , I divided the frozen peaches into about 6 gallon size “freezer guard” Ziploc bags. This morning, my children asked for a smoothie. Peaches and everything else into the blender and presto! Healthy and delicious breakfast. The avocado and banana really give this a creamy consistency, frozen peaches make it slightly chilled and you’re getting a big nutrition boost from all of it, especially the flax.  

2 cups of non-dairy milk
2 tblsp coconut milk
2 tblsp flax seed oil
1 banana
2 cups frozen peaches
1/2 avocado
2 tblsps raw honey
1/2 tsp cinnamon

Place all ingredients in the blender except the cinnamon. Blend for about 15 seconds. Pour in cinnamon. Blend again for about 5 seconds. Serve. This made 1 adult serving and 4 child servings.

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cherry scones

I have battled for quite some time to come up with a really good gluten free, dairy free scone. Let me just say, my success rate has been about 1 percent. This morning, I decided to put my frustration aside and give it another shot. And, boy, am I glad I did. Victory. Finally!  In gluten free baking, I think it’s really important to measure flour in ounces – which I have done here. Starches are notorious for being untrue-to-measure. If you choose not to use these cherries (which are high in both vitamin A and folic acid), you can opt for raisins, dates, nuts or some other kind of dried fruit. Just be careful to choose something 1.) unsulphured and 2.) unsweetened or fruit juice sweetened. In a perfect world, I’d choose to make these with brown rice flour because of its higher nutrition and fiber value – but I’ve found that it is much too crumbly for scones. So, I’ve added in some flax seed meal to get us back on track. Side note: a kitchen scale is one of the best tools in gluten free baking. For some help with measuring equivalents: see the “dry measure equivalents” chart here.

10 oz white rice flour
2 oz tapioca flour
4 tsp baking powder
2 tsp xanthan or guar gum
1/2 tsp salt
4 tblsp coconut sugar
2 tblsp golden flax seed meal
1/2 cup coconut butter
1/2 cup dried unsweetened tart cherries
2 eggs
2/3 cup unsweetened applesauce (if the dough is too dry you can add another 1-2 tblsp)

  1. Preheat oven to 500 degrees.
  2. In a separate bowl, whisk eggs with the applesauce. Set aside.
  3. Place the rice flour, tapioca, baking powder, gum, salt, sugar and flax in a large bowl. Stir to mix well.
  4. Add coconut butter, rubbing it into the flour mixture for several minutes until it begins to become a bit coarse. Add in the dried fruit so that it’s coated in flour.
  5. Pour the egg mixture into the flour mixture and mix well. Place the mixture on some Silpat or a nonstick surface and, using your hands, knead the dough to so that it is well combined. Using a rolling pin, roll the dough into a 1 inch thick round. Using a cookie cutter of your choice, cut the scones and place them on a cookie sheet lined with unbleached parchment (or a rice flour dusted cookie sheet).
  6. Before baking, brush the tops of the scones with non-dairy milk or a slightly beaten egg.
  7. Bake for 10 minutes.

Makes 10 large scones or about 18 small ones.

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