{a gluten-free thanksgiving}

This week I hosted our Gluten-Free Get Together event at Rochambo on Brady Street. (where they serve up goodies from Molly’s GF Bakery)

Mixed things up this month, instead of a dinner, we got together for dessert and after dinner drinks to talk all about the upcoming holidays and how to survive them gluten-free style.

It’s easier than you think. I promise.

But I don’t want anyone to miss out just because they couldn’t make it over to the east side, so I thought I’d share everything here with you.

A couple of years ago, I shared some of our family favorites— Grandma’s cooked rice, scalloped corn, and cranberry salad. Some of those will be served up again this year, but not everyone eats a traditional meal (which I kind of dig!) for Thanksgiving.

Maybe you’re serving things up paleo style. If you are, head over to see Paleo Parents (authors of Eat Like a Dinosaur) for a complete menu plan that includes vegan options.

Not cooking at your place? Here are some resources to help educate your family. They usually mean well, but who would every think you could get glutened at a table of mostly gluten-free food, when you were being SO careful? (happened to me last year at the in-law’s)

Whatever the case, I want you to have a safe, happy celebration — as I always say, we are in the golden age of gluten-freeness… more options than we know what to do with.

I took a peek around the web at some of my favorite bloggers’ sites and came up with a list of recipes for you to check out. (I know we’ll be making some of them at our family Thanksgiving!)

Recipe Round-Up from ‘Round the Web
  • A twist on pumpkin pie — these Creamy Pumpkin Bars from Joy the Baker are on my “I’m SO making these” list. (just have to substitute GF flour mix — remember 5 oz of gluten-free flour mix for each cup of all purpose flour called for — and some certified GF oats.
  • And if you’re on an apple kick, you could make this super simple apple struesel chex mix from my “GF 101” class this summer — the post is full of info you can use, if you’re a newbie.
  • TWENTY loaves of GF bread, a breadbasket of choices from Shirley at gfe.

To get things started, I pulled together (in 30 minutes) two simple recipes that you can make with pantry staples.

Gluten-Free Cinnamon & Sugar Pretzels

I got this idea from a new favorite blog, One Good Thing by Jillee — it’s in my Google Reader now, and you should add it too. It’s not just food, she posts something new everyday that is clever, time saving, or just plain fun for everyday life.

I adapted it to fit what I had, you will notice that her recipe uses oil, feel free to use that instead of the butter for a dairy-free version. And aren’t her cute printed bags the best? I might have to make some and give these as gifts. They were a hit at our GF Get Together.

Gluten-Free Cinnamon & Sugar Pretzels 

Adapted from One Good Thing By Jillee


  • 1 bag gluten-free pretzels (I used Glutino, but they seem to have changed their recipe… I’m missing the old one.) 
  • ¼ cup butter, melted
  • ⅓ cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

    Pre-heat the oven to 300 degrees. In a small bowl, combine the cinnamon and sugar. Add the bag of pretzels to a large bowl and pour melted butter over them. Gently stir to evenly coat all of the pretzels.

    Shake the cinnamon & sugar mixture over the pretzels and toss or gently stir to completely coat. Spread the pretzels out on a baking sheet and bake at 300 for 30 minutes, stirring at least twice during the bake time.

    Remove from oven and cool — or if you’re like me, taste test a few while they are still hot, but be careful. 🙂 They can be stored in an airtight container for several days.

    Thanksgiving Chex Mix


    Gluten-free snack mixes are a crowd pleaser at family events. Fun to make and familiar to all, (not to mention a cinch to prepare!) family and friends will be munching on this mix by the handful. Make a double batch so you have enough to eat on the car ride to grandma’s.

    gluten-free thanksgiving chex mix

    Adapted from chex.com

    2 cups honey nut chex                            ¼ cup coconut sugar (or brown sugar)

    2 cups cinnamon chex                            1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice

    2 cups corn or rice chex                          2 teaspoons vanilla extract

    1 cup mixed nuts                                      ¼ cup butter, melted

    In a small bowl, mix together the sugar and pumpkin pie spice and set aside. After melting the butter, (about 30 seconds or so, but watch it!) stir in the vanilla.

    In a large bowl, (one that will fit in your microwave) combine all of the cereals and mixed nuts. Pour the melted butter and vanilla over the cereal mix and stir to coat entirely. Add the sugar & spice mixture to the cereal mix and stir gently to coat each little piece. Microwave on high for 4-5 minutes, stopping to stir after each minute. (I did mine 4 minutes, you want it to start browning, but NOT burning, that is not a good situation.)

    Spread out the mix onto a baking sheet and allow to cool. (again, you should taste test some while still warm, just because you can)


    After our GF Get Together, I decided to just mix the two (pretzels and chex mix) together — why didn’t I think of that BEFORE the event?

    I’ll be serving the two together from now on.

    I like to call it Cornucopia Chex Mix.

    Happy, happy Thanksgiving to you and your family from mine. Are you celebrating at home this year (safe!) or traveling for the holiday? Feel free to shout out ANY tips you have for other newbies to help them have a safe and happy Thanksgiving.

    I’ll try to sneak back over here soon and post the recipe for the pumpkin pie I’ll be making for my celiac sista this year — in the mean time, have a lovely weekend. I’m off to celebrate my 15 year “friendaversary” (and the bday) with my BFF, out in Denver.

    Go eat! 🙂


Q&A with my Celiac Sista

My sister and I talk about food pretty much everyday. No lie. We send each other food photos, share recipes, question the gluten-free status of products, and dream about the bakery we should just go ahead and open.

When I  asked her if she would mind stopping over here and letting me ask her all kinds of questions about her crazy-busy-supermom life and all things food, it was like a really long text message, so she was in.

So, here she is — family of 6 (FOUR little boys!) living in rural Minnesota, with two boys in school, and two in diapers (five month old twins — and those are cloth diapers, baby!) and a busy schedule that she somehow manages pretty perfectly with real food meals on the table, lunches packed, and she still makes time to sew costumes for “super hero day” at school. She’s amazing. Welcome, Celiac Sista!


Q&A with Celiac Sista

Do you prefer celiac sista or sister? (I think I’ve called you both) 

I go by celiac sista because sister was already taken when I first set up my twitter account a couple of years ago and it stuck.  I will be using celiac sista for my blog too (coming soon).  <– Yeah, buddy — she’s starting a blog! 🙂

Kiddos can be picky. You have 4 of them….how do you keep them happy with meals and still feed them healthy foods? I often hear parents struggle with getting their kids to try new foods and eat what the whole fam is eating, how do you deal with that? (and avoid feeding them only nuggets, pizza, mac n cheese, etc)

I like to know what my kids are hungry for.  When I am planning meals out for the week, I ask for requests.  If they ask for a traditionally non-healthy food, I find a way to convert it into something I feel good about feeding them.  When they feel like they had a choice in what is served for supper or packed in their lunch bags they are more likely to eat it.  

To get the kiddos to try new foods I introduce new foods along with foods that they know and love.  If I want them to try a new fruit or vegetable, I serve it along side something simple like bananas or corn.  We have a one bite rule at our house.  If they take one bite and don’t like it, I don’t make them finish.  I’ve learned from my 5 yr old, it’s easier to try a bite of something new when no one is watching.  It’s also easier to like new foods or to say you like new foods if your big brother likes them too.  

I involve my kids in the shopping at the store and farmer’s market or picking from our garden.  They get excited about helping with the prep and cooking in the kitchen too.  If it’s a new meal and they helped to make it, my kids are more likely to try it as opposed to me just serving up something new and putting it in front of them. 

How do you come up with family friendly meal ideas and keep things interesting?  

Like I mentioned, I asks my family what they are hungry for, myself included.  For me, food tastes better when it looks appealing.  This works for kids too.  Most kids like simple food.  No spices, no glazes, and always a sauce to dip it in.  To keep it simple for the kids and exciting for the adult taste buds, I’ve learned to season my food after it’s on my plate.   

If my kids have a dipping sauce, they will eat twice as much of anything I serve them.  What they think is “pizza sauce” is really just pureed tomatoes from the garden with onion, green pepper, carrots, cucumber and some italian seasoning. They think I’m being generous and giving them extra sauce, I’m smiling because they are dipping their foods in vegetables.  We both win. 

What do you pack them for lunch everyday?

I try to keep lunches exciting.  Some days its leftovers from the night before or earlier in the week, other days it’s a waffle sandwich with homemade jam or cream cheese in the middle.  With the help of our new lunch gear this year, our hot and cold lunch option are endless.  I have used the ideas from www.100daysofrealfood.com to come up with more things that I wouldn’t have thought of on my own.  She’s amazing! 

So you have celiac disease and your 5 yr old does too…so does the whole fam eat GF? How has CT’s experience been at school? How do you make sure he’s not left out?

Meals that we all eat together are all GF.  Lunches that are packed for work and school have “normal” bread for those not needing to eat gluten-free.  Everything else in the house is GF. 

Sending my little man off to kindergarten this year with celiac was harder on me than it was on him.  He has never once had a negative comment about his lunch.  I make sure to pack fun lunches that I know he will like.  I purchased some fun foogo food jars from Thermos so I can send warm lunches instead of the traditional sandwich everyday.  We also added homemade smoothie pop containers, reusable lunch bags from NanRae’s Niche, divider containers from Ziploc, mini cookie cutters to make fun shapes, and these awesome drink bottles.  The boys have been very excited about our cool new lunch gear.   

I don’t want CT to feel like he is the kid that’s “different” so I try my hardest to keep his food comparable.  I look at the school lunch menu and find something similar to send that day.  Today was traditional pizza Friday at school.  We found this great pizza bite recipe earlier this year and converted it to being GF by changing the flour to a GF mix.  Simple as that.  Along with his pizza bites, I sent Mom’s special “marinara” sauce, fresh fruit cut with our mini cookie cutters, carrot sticks, water, and a Carter’s Cashew bar.  <– And here is a recipe to make them yourself! 

With the bubbas (adorable, 5 month old, twin nephews)…will you wait to give them gluten?

I plan to wait as long as I can before introducing gluten to my twin baby boys.  Most doctors in our area will not test or diagnose children until the age of 5 (crazy I know!).  With all of us eating GF at home anyway, I don’t see the need to introduce them to gluten until I need to. 

You do mostly real foods, so how do you deal with all the treats from school? How will you handle Halloween? Are the boys on board with healthy food choices?

The amount of candy awarded to children at school is out of control.  I can’t change the way the school system works, but I can change the way my own children think.  To deal with treats given for good behavior, passing a spelling test, etc, I have a reward system of my own.  If the boys bring the treat home unopened, they can pick from an extra story at bedtime, playing a board game with Mom, or a prize from Mom’s special prize box. (stickers, tattoos, non food items).  

I’ve been thinking about ideas for Halloween.  The kids always have an item or two that they are saving up for, so I’ve thought about trading them a certain amount of money per pound of candy that they hand over.  There are also several non-treat Halloween themed activities going on in surrounding towns that day that we may participate in instead.


At first there was some hesitation from the boys about eating healthier.  After we did some cooking and baking together with alternatives to sugar with the same sweet results, they didn’t seem to mind the changes.

Earlier this summer you did the Whole30 challenge...how did it go? Would you recommend it to others?

It was hard. No lie. I LOVE sugar.  There, I said it.  Of all the things that are not allowed on the Whole30 challenge, sugar was the hardest thing for me.  After the first week however, I wasn’t really missing anything.  There were days when I really wanted a piece of bread or a handful of pretzels to fill me up, but I made it through.  I am much more aware of what is in all of the foods that we are eating, and it was the turning point for me to do a full overhaul to whole foods. 


I would recommend the challenge to anyone wanting to detox, be more aware of what they are putting into their bodies, and as an added bonus lose a few pounds. 

What are your go-to snacks for the kids? Any fave recipes or websites to share with other mamas?

We like to make our own trail mixes.  I give each kiddo a bag or container, and they can pick from nuts, dried fruit, dry cereal and seeds.  Any kind of easy to eat fruit always goes over well too. One of our new favorites, from the Eat Like A Dinosaur book, are the homemade Lara bars.  I’ve made them into fun shapes with cookie cutters.  


Another favorite is any kind of muffin. I’ve been using Pamela’s GF baking mix and replacing the oil and sugar with applesauce, mashed bananas and carrots.  The kids have no idea and I feel better knowing they are getting extra fruit and veg in their breakfast muffins. 

I often refer to you as a super mom (you totally are) so how do you do it? What advice can you give to other parents who are trying to curb all the sugar, get real food on the table, and still find time to shower? 

There are easy days, and there are days when I want to call everyone I know to come help me out.  Four little boys IS A LOT of work, I’m not going to sugar coat that one for you or try to make you think I roll through my days with ease.  There are several days when I’m feeling light headed around 2pm and I realize that I’m still in my yoga pants and I have only eaten the food I’ve licked off of my fingers as I made meals for the kiddos.  We are a work in progress.

Like I mentioned earlier, I did the whole30 challenge this summer as a detox.  It really opened my eyes to some of the junk we had hiding in the pantry.  Since the challenge, I’ve slowly replaced items with large amounts of sugar with something healthier.  Not everything we eat is free of added sugar, but we are getting there.  I read an article recently that said a healthy amount of added sugar to our diet would be 12g a day.  While my ultimate goal is NO added sugar, 12g is our current goal.   If you read the labels on everything you eat and drink for one day, you might be surprised at how much sugar we consume everyday without realizing it. 

The best advice I have, that is working for us, go back to the basics.  Pick meals that contain naturally healthy and in many cases GF foods.  Meat, vegetables, and fruit.  This is even easier when using a slow cooker (my favorite kitchen appliance). Supper cooks all day, the house smells amazing, and a whole healthy meal is on the table and ready all at once.  

Speaking of easy-peasy recipes for the slow cooker — here is her recent, super simple recipe for applesauce! 

Celiac Sista’s Slow Cooker Applesauce

12 apples (hers were fresh picked from a friend’s tree!)

1 cup 100% apple juice

1. Peel and core apples, roughly chop

2. Add apples and apple juice to slow cooker and cook on low for 6 hours.

3. Fill your home with the aroma of fall. (this is done for you — just have a cup of coffee and relax)

4. Serve it up warm, with a little cinnamon on top. Store the rest in the fridge. (it won’t last long… it’s THAT good!)


Isn’t she the coolest? I could not be more proud of her — she inspires me to be a good mama someday. I have no doubt I’ll be calling/texting her daily. (and not just for food!) I’ll keep you posted when her blog goes up, you won’t want to miss it! 

{10 Days of Real Food — Day 4 & 5}

Just tuning in? I’m doing the 10 Days of Real Food Pledge from 9/19-9/28. Feel free to join me at any time — but check out their website first for all the details like what the 10 day pledge is all about, what you can/can’t eat, and recipe/food ideas. (keep in mind that Lisa and her family are not gluten-free… so some of the recipes need to be converted — give a shout if you need ANY help!) 


I’m currently taking name suggestions for these bars.

When I first made them, I sent a text to my celiac sister and said, “omg. come quick…I made Almond Joy Larabars.”

But that doesn’t have a nice ring to it. In my post the other day I called them, “I-Miss-Almond-Joy Bars,” even though I haven’t really been craving or even thinking of those yummy little candy bars this week — so they are going to need a new name, any ideas?

While you think about — how about the recipe?


10 Days of Real Food (Take 2)

It’s time for some real food.

As much as I have been loving our anniversary cake, plenty of White Russians, and all the other goodies I’ve indulged in lately… there comes a time when you need to get back on track.

Curb the sugar.

Get back to real food.


Friday Photos: a week with my best buddies

Welcome to Friday Photos, a weekly feature here on Celiac in the City — you can read how it all started by clicking HERE.

Gooooooooood morning!

I have about 13 minutes before one of these two cutie pies comes into the kitchen and says, “I’m hungwee” or “Where are we going today?”

So I’ll type as fast as I possibly can and then I’ll catch up with you guys when I have a few more minutes to breathe.

I’ll preface the photos by saying we have had THE best week together — I sometimes look at them and feel like there is no possible way I could love them any more than I do at that moment… and then they say something funny, shoot me a smile from across the room at Discovery World, or snuggle up during movie night, and I know my heart can expand even more.

I can’t wait to be a mama someday.

I’ll also say it has been a special week for them — filled with more treats than we’re used to, (we had pizza three times — what the what!?) trying foods they didn’t think they’d like, (mmm… dates ARE good in cookies and make-you-own Larabars) and staying up waaaaaay past bedtime for a good campfire s’more. (sorry, mom)

Okay, we’re down to 11 minutes, so here it is, our week in photos. (and food)

We learned the flip. We picnicked. We introduced Chef Carter to Jungle Jim’s (gluten-free style) up north — and then we had ice cream on the way home. 🙂

North Ave Grill rocked our gluten-free world. They closed down the place Tuesday night for our GF Get Together dinner — rave reviews from everyone, including Tayden telling them that they had THE best gluten-free buns he’s ever tasted (they’re from Molly’s GF Bakery) and Carter chiming in with, “you have GOT to try this (burger) you would never believe it is gluten-free!”

Pizza at The Bar in Wausau, on the way to the cottage. Pizza at Pizzeria Piccola, with their bread knots — Carter is still talking about them. And pizza at VIA. (and a beer for Auntie Sarah) Oh, and there was plenty of fruit this week, don’t worry, we just don’t take as many pictures of that. 😉

We’ve also been eating like dinosaurs this week thanks to Paleo Parents’ book, Eat Like a Dinosaur — more photos to come, but I’ll leave you with our late night baking adventure from last night… chocolate chip cookies. (I had to hide them in the freezer to keep little hands out)

Like I said on Facebook, don’t wait for my review — the bottom line is, this book is worth clicking over and buying right now. Seriously. The boys have absolutely loved it… the photos of each recipe, the easy to follow ingredients, the tasty treats they made, all of it!

We’re off on another road trip today — sadly our week has come to an end and we’re taking the boys back to MN this weekend. And then it’s off to Denver for me next week, flying straight out from MN to CO… and sister Laura already has a new GF place she wants to try out!

Before I go, I have to give a shout out to ALL the mamas out there — I honestly have no idea how you do it… those mamas that stay at home (which in my opinion is more than a full time job) or the ones who juggle work and time with your little ones, I have nothing but respect for you. I learned this week that planning is key — you can’t just wing it for lunch or dinner when you have kids, you need to have something planned and the groceries purchased BEFORE there is a hungry kiddo.

Live and learn.

Do you cook with your kiddos? Or is the kitchen off limits? How do you get your kids interested in trying new foods — and are you a fibber when it comes to the actual ingredients in a recipe? My little Chef Carter wants nothing to do with spices or little pieces of anything in his food… yesterday I fibbed and told him that the pieces of peach skin in his banana-peach smoothie were really pieces of apple skin (because he “doesn’t like” peaches) and he loved the smoothie. Tell me you do this too.