The basics to start

There are lots of strange ingredients to get used to like guar gum or xantham gum. Mostly those are used to replace the “binding” agent in wheat, barley, rye and malt which is the gluten. Rice, corn, potatoes will be your new friends.

Several things to do to start:
1. Go through all shampoos, conditioners, soaps, makeup and look for wheat. Best thing to do when you don’t know is go to google and put in the name of the product, like “mary kay cosmetics” and follow with “gluten free”. Mostly Dove soaps and products are wheat and gluten free. Salon hair care products generally are not. Wheat is used as a thickener in conditioners and volumizers and shampoos.
I’ve found a limited number of stuff without wheat or barley type ingredients. Regis has one set of their organic type shampoos that has no wheat in them but you have to read the labels. I have another salon brand at home, that I will look at tonight and send you.
Like I said, Dove shampoos are generally gluten free.
As for makeup, Bare Escentuals, Mary Kay and some Clinique are generally wheat/gluten free. It will depend on how sensitive she is.
The reason for this is that once she eliminates wheat, barley, rye and malt from her system, any of those products that contain it will dry her out, make her itch etc. Even some nail polish contains gluten. You’d be surprised. I broke off most of my hair, it got so dry, before I discovered the wheat in the conditioner. I ended up switching to men’s haircare products for a while, because they don’t need all that fluffy stuff women do, so their products are much simpler.

2. Food.
She needs to make a designated “gluten-free” area in her kitchen. Whether it’s a cabinet where she can keep her stuff and the counter space below, or however she chooses. If she has family and they are not following this program, she’ll need things like an additional toaster that can only be used for her breads and believe me, if she’s buying ready made GF bread, she’ll want to toast everything.
Good website to sign up is This is a gluten-free forum and full of good info. and are good places to look for products. Best ready-made bread is: Udi’s gluten free bread. Best bread mix (and it has consistency of cake batter you pour into pan) is Gluten-free pantry’s “favorite sandwich bread mix”
However, anything you make from scratch or a box has no preservatives so you have to eat it within that week.

For snacks, good brands are: Glutino, Gluten-free Pantry, Pamela’s… I’ll send more as I look at what I have.
Also, Bob’s Red Mill products are ok, but they use lots of bean flours and I don’t like the “bean” taste in my stuff.

Best recipe books are by Betty Hagman. (Gluten-free gourmet, etc.) She explains the ingredients and conversions.

My favorite flour mix substitute for the wheat flour is called “featherlight” flour mix. It uses 1 cup white rice flour, 1 cup cornstarch, 1 cup tapioca starch and 1 tablespoon potato flour (yellowish color). There is potato flour and potato starch. There are essentially 27 varieties of flours that can be used in different ways to replace certain things. King Arthur brand mixes are also good.
I’ve found that Pamela’s GF flour mix, basis of almond meal, is good, as is Gluten-free Pantry’s GF Flour blend. But it’s easier to get and mix my own. It’s a trial and error kind of thing.

I’ve taken my standard chocolate chip cookie recipe and had to substitute oatmeal for a lot of the flour, as rice flour is a bit gritty and coarse in some things.

Betty Crocker now has some gluten free stuff that is decent.

And recipes.

3. The basics: Stick as much to fruits, vegetables and meats, as possible. It’s good to find the substitutions for breads, pastas, etc. and the snacky stuff but it’s also way more dense so one GF cookie is about the equivalent calorie-wise to about 3 regular cookies. If you get caught up in all the gluten free cookies and snacks, you’ll find yourself gaining weight. However in the early stages when you suddenly get frustrated and think there is nothing left to eat, it’s good to know there are some good things out there. I went through a tootsie-roll stage. It seemed like the only “normal” thing I could find to eat at the time.

4. Cereals and Pastas: Rice pasta is good, but you have to cook it, then “set” it with cold water, then reheat to add your sauces, etc. Corn pasta cooks and acts like regular wheat pasta, if you can do corn, but if you have leftover and store it with sauce on it, it will become polenta (corn mush) the next day. Most Chex cereals are now gluten-free, labeled on box, which is a huge plus. There are lots of special brands of gluten-free cereals but they are not that good. Rice krispies are NOT gluten-free because they contain “malt” which is the sweetener on them. Until they choose to redo them… However Rice Chex are gluten-free and can be made into marshmallow treats, just not as pretty as rice krispies style but still good.
There are many specialized brands of these things but they can get expensive.

5. Other: Hidden stuff is in things like soy sauce, marinades, spices, shampoos, conditioners, makeup, etc. you have to consider those if you have to eliminate from your diet. Also eat only cheese that is white. the yellow food coloring is called annatto and is derived from wheat. Also anything with MSG. Chinese food is mostly out but Thai food is ok.

Eating soup for the first time in 5 years!

So, over the weekend, my husband and I went down to his parents in Tennessee for the weekend (and a Super Bowl party of course). On the way, we were informed that his parents were eating out so we decided to stop at Chili’s in Gallatin, TN. Now I know they have a gluten-free listing of items. As a matter of fact, they have lists of foods for multiple allergies, so if you need dairy- free, egg-free, etc, they  probably have a list to suit your diet. Anyhow, I found out they have changed their menu and added some new items. I was delighted to find out they have a new soup, Chicken and Green Chile, that is not only gluten-free, but dairy-free as well. Most of the time gluten-free soups out in restaurants have a creme base and I am limited to making my own soups at home. I have to say it was excellent and even if you’re not full of allergies, as I am, it’s a wonderful and flavorful soup.

Of course as you know it’s the little things in life when you’re gluten-free that make it a blessing. The service was great and we enjoyed out chat with the manager. So if you’re eating gluten-free, dairy-free, be sure to stop by Chili’s Restaurants. Download allergy information from this page, bottom left section.

Gluten-free Fried Catfish for Dinner?

Last night I had the pleasure of dining with some friends. Of course they’d chosen a restaurant I’d never eaten in before and once again, I thought, oh no, I’m going to have to ask questions. One thing I hate to do is ask questions in restaurants. I’ve always had food allergies, and sometimes I find it embarrassing to ask and ask and ask. So, fortunately I was with a couple of friends who knew about my dietary restrictions, so I didnt feel too bad asking.

Great thing is, the server had been asked that very question a week or so before so she was already aware of what they had. Can you believe they had fried catfish? It was breaded only in cornmeal. So that was my very first experience with fried catfish. Unfortunately I couldn’t have the homemade tartar sauce (dairy) but it was good regardless. They were very good about checking ingredients and making recommendations for sides and such also. I had a really good dinner. When you’re gluten-free, sometimes it’s just the little things that matter.

The restaurant was The White Oak, 620 East Market Street, Louisville, KY (at the Artemisia art gallery). Their menu changes often but they are working to make sure there are several gluten-free choices available, don’t be afraid to ask.

Tuscan Lemon Chicken

Courtesy of cookingmalaysiagirl

Using chicken pieces is easier when having guests over so you are not making a mess carving the chicken. I also roast it in the oven, convection roast at 375 degrees. This makes a beautiful variation that can be enjoyed all year-round. It also captures the delicious sauce. We typically serve it over Basmati Rice for a nice fusion experience.


* Chicken Thighs (with the skin)
* Salt
* 1.3 cup Olive Oil
* 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
* 2 – 3 tablespoon Fresh, crushed garlic
* Fresh Rosemary


- Line the chicken in a casserole dish – careful not to crowd the chicken

- salt the chicken (both sides)

- Mix the olive oil together with the garlic, 2 tablespoons fresh chopped rosemary and the lemon juice. Pour over the chicken. sprinkle some pepper over the chicken.

Note: Make certain to thoroughly salt the chicken. It is very important not to skip this step because of the lemon juice. Marinade the chicken overnight (or even for a few hours) make a real difference in the taste! Enjoy. Hope you like it as much as I did.

Restaurants I’ve found that will work with allergies.

Ok now that we’ve gotten the more expensive restaurants listed, here are some more affordable alternatives.

For more restaurant ideas in the Louisville area, visit

Snickerdoodles – Gluten-Free!

Old-fashioned Snickerdoodles (buttery cookie dough rolled into balls, then rolled in cinnamon sugar and baked).

Snickerdoodles cookies

  • 1/2 cup butter, or margarine, softened
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 1-1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 3-¾ cups featherlight flour mix
  • 3/4 tsp xantham gum
  • 2 teaspoons cream of tartar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Mix thoroughly butter, shortening, 1-1/2 cups sugar and the eggs. Blend in flour, cream of tartar, soda and salt. Dough should be tacky but not stick to your hands, easy to roll. Shape dough by rounded teaspoonfuls into balls.

Mix 2 tablespoons sugar and the cinnamon; roll balls in mixture. Place 2 inches apart on ungreased baking sheet. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until set. Immediately remove from baking sheet. (Photo to come)

Some of my favorite things.

If youre looking for pre-packaged mixes, here are some of the ones I’ve used successfully. Note: this list is subject to grow as I remember things.

Other favorite things (add-ons as I remember):

  • General Mills Chex Cereals–Corn, Rice, Strawberry, Chocolate and Honey Nut are all now posted as Gluten-free. Be sure to always check your boxes, labels and ingredients as manufacturers change often and sometimes stores have older products on the shelf.

Here is my story.

How did I find out being gluten-free was in my future? Well, I could go back to when I was little and we first discovered milk congested me so I constantly had a “cold”. Or we could go back to the time I was allergy tested the first time and reacted to absolutely everything (can you say bubble?). But essentially I discovered it by chance about 5 years ago. It all started with a tiny pinprick on my arm that I thought was due to a cat scratch. That teeny tiny little bump turned into a tiny little blister that was the itchiest thing in the world. Unfortunately scratching that little pinprick made it spread into a round little circle. I would have sworn I had ringworm from my cat. Only the little pinprick bumps started popping up in other places, arms, legs, chests, other areas you don’t want to mention. It mirrored itself on either side of my body like a rash. My daughter started getting a few too (to this day she still won’t admit to a gluten intolerance). So we proceeded to be examined by allergists who thought it was a rash, then dermatologists who thought it was scabies?? (really), then general practitioners and rheumatologists who thought it was hives and stress and a bacterial infection like strep on the skin. Believe me this was nuts. It lasted for 8 months before i went to my 9th doctor, a dermatologist, who made the suggestion that my cigarrette burn-like sores that were crazy itchy could be Dermatitis Herpetiformis (DH) a symptom of gluten-intolerance. Thus started blood tests and biopsies which were not definitely conclusive but not definitely ruling it out. Talk about frustration. Unfortunately I’d already started to eliminate most sources of gluten from my diet which in turn caused my body to start healing, thereby givng me inconclusive results.
The next step was an endoscopy to check the intestines for any damage and to see what was happening. That procedure was performed the last weekend in August. The doctore came right out of the procedure and told my mother that I needed to start on a gluten-free diet immediately. So there began my trip down the gluten-free lane.
Since then I have learned many things, made many mistakes, eaten the wrong things, cooked good and bad, accidentally ingested contaminated items and learned that even though those fresh homemade yeast rolls or sticky buns smell good, the payoff is not worth that bite.

This is my story. Feel free to share yours or email me your story if you don’t want to post it yourself. Send pictures and recipes or anything you have learned or tried that would help someone else just becoming gluten-free to ease their transition. Thanks!

Holidays with my family. My mom’s job is never easy.

So a nice simple holiday dinner in my family… nothing normal or simple about it!  

When it comes to food allergies, my family ranks top in the line up.  My brother is allergic to poultry, nuts and sugar.  My niece, his oldest daughter, is allergic to nuts and hates peanuts. 

Then there’s me.  I’m allergic to milk, gluten and intolerant to many other things.  So a simple holiday dinner at our house consists of turkey for the majority of the family and me without stuffing, stuffed pork chops or ham for my brother, 3 different stuffings–one gluten-free, one poultry free, one regular, normal everyday stuffing– and then gravies — one gluten-free, one poultry-free and one with all the trimmings.  We also have pumpkin pie- dairy and gluten-free, pumkin pie – regular and sugar-free pumpkin or apple pie.

Needless to say keeping everything separated is a chore and then trying to label it is even more fun.  Can you say my mom is almost a saint having to learn and apply this to holiday meals?