Claras Fruit & Nut Blondies

Hubby and I really enjoy these, and apparently so do other non-allergen people! I took a pan of these with me over to my Sister's once when she had some people over and the whole pan got gobbled up! I told everyone that this was my first time making this recipe and I wanted to know how the flavor, texture, etc. was. 7 non-allergen all agreed that they were very good. When I told them that they were GDSYWP-free and that there were prunes in there, everyone was surprised. My Sister, probably the most honest of the bunch (since she is my sister and all!), admitted that they didn't taste like blondies to her, but that they were really good. She said they just tasted like a yummy dessert, but not necessarily blondies. I've thought of adding white chocolate chips to give them a more blondies taste, but Hubby and I are not fans of white chocolate, so I'm not sure if I will try that ... don't want to ruin a good thing and all. I might try dark chocolate chips though ... hhhmmmm ...

Anyway, onto the part you've been waiting for:

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Clara's Fruit & Nut Blondies
12-16 Servings

Ingredients:
1 pkg Namaste Foods Blondies Mix (you'll need water, eggs and oil for this)
Nonstick cooking spray
1 teaspoon coconut extract
1 teaspoon almond extract
6 cherry-flavored prunes, roughly chopped (Remember this post?)
1 handful slivered almonds (sorry, I'm not that good at measuring. Put in whatever you're comfortable with)
1 handful shredded coconut (ditto)

Directions:
Mix all the ingredients for Namaste Foods Blondies Mix and preheat oven as directed.

Add all other ingredients, mixing just until all the ingredients are incorporated and distributed evenly.

Pour into your pan and bake as directed.

Stick a toothpick in the center to check for doneness.

Eat warm as-is, with your favorite type of ice cream, or wait until completely cool and sprinkle top with powdered sugar!
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If you do try this recipe, please leave me a comment and let me know what you think! Oh, and if you try it with the white chocolate chips, definitely let me know how it turns out! Maybe you'll give me the courage to try it!

Blondies by Namaste Foods

Just as with the chocolate cake, Namaste Foods delivers!

This stuff was great! One package is supposed to yield 1 13'' x 9'' pan, but again, I split the mix and made 1 8"x8" for Hubby and myself. What can I say, with just the 2 of us, I don't want to waste! This mix had a good taste and texture, but the blondies alone were kind of plain. But, I will say that that very fact is what I love so much about Namaste Foods' products. Because they are so plain, you can jazz them up anyway you want - it leaves countless options! Not to mention, being so plain leaves a lot of the allergens out, allowing you to customize the mix not only to your taste preferences, but your allergen needs. I mean, they leave the eggs and oil up to you - so you can use real eggs or an egg substitute if you're allergic and with the oil out, it lets us soy-free people use soy free oils! I just LOVE this about their products. They really have tried to keep us food intolerant people in mind.

Anyway, like I said, this product was tasty, but really needed some "umph." So, I came up with a recipe for total yumminess that I will totally share with you ... tomorrow!

Chocolate Cake by Namaste Foods

After reading lots of great things about Namaste foods, I ran out to my local specialty food store to look for it. Boy, did they have so many great options! Muffins, spice cake, chocolate cake, vanilla cake, brownies, blondies, waffles/pancakes, cookies, pancake mix and some others that I'm sure I'm forgetting. I bought a few, but will eventually have to try them all.

I started first with the chocolate cake mix. All I can say is WOW! This stuff is AMAZING! This is seriously probably one of the best chocolate cakes that I have ever had - even in my previous GDSYWP-packed life! This cake is so moist and chocolatey, but not too rich. We have it just as it is - no frosting or anything - and it is so good.

1 package yields 2 9" rounds. However, since it's just the Hubby and me, I usually just make half of the mix and put it in an 8x8 pan. So, 1 package yields 2 cakes for us - even better! As such, I've made this twice now with perfect results. The first time, I didn't add anything, the second, I mixed in coconut and nuts - yum! I think next time I will add in some GDSYWP-free chocolate chips to make it even chocolatier and will let you know how it goes!

Another Constant: Cherry Essence Prunes by Sunsweet


I have never been a big dried fruit person, but since going GDSYWP-free, I have really been lacking in the fiber department. I knew that prunes had a decent amount of fiber, so I decided to try some. When I saw Cherry Essence Prunes by Sunsweet, I figured that I'd give them a try. Boy, am I glad that I did. Like I said, I've never had prunes before this, but had always heard that they were dry and tasted bad. Not with these! They are SO moist and really do taste like cherries! I enjoy munching on these as a part of my breakfast, as a mid-afternoon snack, even as my after-dinner dessert! I even have a very special use for them that I will share later in the week! I keep them in the house all the time. They actually refrigerate pretty well and last a while in there. As a bonus, I was able to find these at my local "regular" grocery store - that always makes life a bit easier.

So, there is no need to be afraid - give these prunes a try!

Tweaked Spanish Rice

As promised in my last post, I will now give my Tweaked Spanish Rice recipe.

One of my Hubbys favorite childhood dishes is my Mother-in-Laws Spanish Rice. He just loves it. I made it a couple times and had to call her each time for the recipe! I would write it down and lose it or scribble it so poorly that I couldn't read my own writing later. Well, one day, I wanted to make it, couldn't find her recipe and couldn't get a hold of her (she and my Father-in-Law often go camping in places where they do not have cell reception). Anyway, I Googled "Spanish Rice" and came across this recipe from a lady named Elise. I really liked hers, but I tweaked it a bit to give it a bit more "umph" and switched around the cooking method a bit to work a bit better for me. Here is my take on her original recipe:

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Tweaked Spanish Rice
Originally by Elise, Tweaked by Clara
Serves 4 to 6

Ingredients:
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 sweet onion, chopped fine
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups of jasmine rice
3 cups chicken stock (if using different type of rice, check the rice to liquid ratio for your rice)
2 heaping tablespoons tomato paste
1 small can of sliced or chopped black olives, drained (I think this is a 4 or 6 oz can?)
Hearty sprinkle of Adobo powder (maybe half a teaspoon?)
Splash of lime
1 teaspoon salt
Optional: Cilantro, one quarter to half a bunch, chopped
Optional: Tomatoes, diced

Directions:
In a pot, add chicken stock, tomato paste, splash of lime juice, and salt, stir and bring stock to a boil.

In a separate large skillet, brown rice in olive oil, on medium/high heat. Add onions and garlic. Cook mixture, stirring frequently, about 4 minutes, or until onions are softened. Toss in black olives, a sprinkle of Adobo powder and optional cilantro and/or tomatoes, stir.

Turn heat in skillet off, wait for a minute or so.

Add boiling broth to rice mixture, give it a quick stir and cover the skillet (you have to turn the heat off and wait otherwise the boiling water into a super hot pan will cause the boiling water to boil even more and jump out of the pan onto your stovetop and burn your hand ... ask me how I know!).

Turn heat back on low, just to a simmer.

Cook about 20 minutes more or until all the liquid is absorbed.
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When I'm having this dish with the Tacos, I usually leave out the tomatoes. But, this also makes a great accompaniment to eggs in the morning for breakfast, in which case I sometimes add the tomatoes in to make it more hardy. I'll even add diced zucchini, asparagus or mushrooms if I have them on hand. The cilantro addition is something that adds A LOT of flavor. Personally, I really like it, but it was too strong for Hubby, so I don't usually put it in.

Oh, and if your not familar with Adobo powder, it is simply a mixture of Hispanic spices. I find it in the Hispanic section of the grocery store. It looks like this:
Now, look carefully when you are purchasing this. There are a lot of variations - with cumin, with lemon, with pepper, etc. I buy it just plain old Adobo, without pepper. It is also really good sprinkled in your salsa, guacamole, refried beans or on black beans. Just be light with it. It is pretty salty and very flavorful. A little goes a long way with this stuff!

As usual, if you try this recipe, leave me a comment and let me know what you think!

Claras Tacos

Along with the Chili, another dish that Hubby was THRILLED that was able to stay around in it's original form was my tacos. Some background information, Hubby is of Mexican decent and was born and raised in San Diego. He is used to authentic, *really* good Mexican food. However, when Hubby and I were dating, we were going to college in Alabama, and then returned there after we were married, so obviously, true, authentic Mexican food was hard to come by. We attempted to satisfy his cravings by sampling lots of different restaurants, and I even attempted a recipe or two. But, nothing was quite "right." Being of Thai decent, and I myself trying to find authentic Thai in Alabama, I could completely understand his missing real Mexican food and I searched for ways to do it right. Well, one night, in another attempt to do so, I decided to try a new marinade that I had spotted at the local grocery store. I tried it, and it turned out GREAT! Hubby was SO happy. This recipe has been in heavy rotation ever since (Fall of 2005) with no complaints! So, I am here to share the recipe with you. It is GDSYWP-free, is deemed fairly authentic by my Mexican-American Hubby and is SUPER easy to make! The most important ingredient is:

Mojo Criollo Marinade by Goya

All you have to do is marinade the steak in this sauce overnight and grill! Seriously! That's it! You can also use the oven and/or broiler, too, but I like having Hubby take care of the meat while I make home-made salsa, guacamole and whatever other sides we are having.

The marinade can be found in the Hispanic food section of the grocery store, and is also available on several websites. It gives the most delicious citrusy/garlicy flavor without much spice. As for the meat, we usually use flank steak, but whatever you have on hand will do, even chicken! Just keep in mind if you decide to use beef, just be sure to cut the meat across the grain because this marinade doesn't really tenderize (or at least not on the type of meat we use), and so the meat can be super tough.

To keep things authentic, and GDSYWP-free, use soft corn tortillas like these to wrap your delicious meat. Actually, you're supposed to use 2 of these to wrap your meat, like Hubby does, but that is sometimes too much tortilla for me.
I usually have Hubby throw those on the grill too after the meat is done for just a minute or two to heat them up a bit. You could also do it on a skillet in the stove, but again, it's nice to have Hubby deal with it while I tend to the sides. And, the grill gives the tortillas a sort of smoky flavor.

One side item that I often make with this dish is Spanish Rice. I have finally found a great recipe and tweaked it to be just right for Hubby and me - and it is deliciously GDSYWP-free! I will share that recipe with ya'll in my next post!

If you try this recipe, leave me a comment and let me know what you think of it!

GDSYWP-free Lemon Cookies: A Comparison


When I first went GDSYWP-free, Nana's No Gluten Lemon Cookies were one of the first products that I tried. They were definitely more "crumbly" or "grainy" than traditional cookies, which was sort of hard to get used to at first, but the flavor was good, so I continued to keep them in the house. Now, I really love them. They are moist and have a perfect lemon sour/sweet balance. Recently, I noticed Enjoy Life's Lively Lemon Cookies at my local health food store (Roots Market) and decided to get them instead of the Nana's. What a mistake! They were dry compared to Nana's, didn't have as pleasant of a flavor and they had little hard bits of something (maybe dried lemon?) that were hard to chew and kept getting stuck in my teeth. I really tried to enjoy them, but just couldn't. From now on, I am sticking to Nana's!

Another Constant- Alexia French Fries


Another staple that Hubby and I always have in the house is Frozen French Fries by Alexia Foods. Like Fruit Leathers, this is also a previous-life-low-Weight-Watchers-points-favorite. Over the years, we have tried every kind we can get our hands on (except the Sweet Potato variety as I don't like sweet potatos). While they make 8 different varieties that are all organic, but only 4 are GDSYWP-free. The other 4 have dairy and/or yeast in them.

The Yukon Gold Julienne is probably our favorite, but the other safe options are the Olive Oil & Sea Salt Oven Fries, Olive Oil, Rosemary & Garlic Oven Fries and the Sweet Potato Julienne Fries. Again, I can't vouch for the Sweet Potato Julienne Fries, but the other 3 safe types are DELISH (and, actually, from my pre-food-lifestyle-change, I know the Olive Oil, Parmesan & Roasted Garlic Oven Reds are too!).

2 Constants in My Kitchen

With a GDSYWP-free diet, the idea of "fast food" or "convenient food" really goes out the window. There are very few places at which I can get a safe meal. So, I generally try to always have leftovers to take for lunch, to take with me when I'm going over to someones house, or just to have on hand for any other surprise situation.

There are several products that are "constants" in my kitchen. I try to always keep in the house just in case I don't have any leftovers in the fridge to eat. Today I am going to share 2 with you.

One is PJ's Chicken Tamale Meal frozen entrée.

All I can say is Yum, Yum, YUM!

I just LOVE this meal, which is saying a lot considering that I am not a huge fan of tamales. I mean, they're okay, but the ones I've had usually have a TON of cornmeal, just a bit of meat and the meat is usually really dry or spicy. But not this one! It's just so good! The meat is not too spicy, is nice and moist and the tamale has a nice meat to cornmeal ratio.

The only bad thing I have to say is that there are A LOT of beans with this meal. I usually don't finish them all. I wish that they had some Spanish rice with the beans or 2 tamales and less beans, but hey, beggars can't be choosers, right? The flavor is great, the size is decent, and it's GDSYWP free! :D

Another item I like to have on hand (and what I usually eat with the wonderful Chicken Tamale Meal) is a wonderfully dairy free Creamy Tomato Soup by Imagine.

This soup is AMAZING. It is GDSYWP free but it is so creamy! I just LOVE it!


RUN, don't walk, to your nearest health food store to find these 2 products! It is SO worth it!

THE Best Chili

... and with one minor change, it's GDSYWP free, too!


Soon after Rob and I moved to the DC metro area, I discovered a great cooking show on PBS called Everyday Food. It has since become one of my favorite cooking shows. All the ingredients are simple and wholesome. Their recipes are pretty easy to follow and are sometimes adaptable to a GDSYWP free lifestyle.

The first recipe that I tried from them was Turkey Bean Chili. It was a HUGE hit with Hubby. Ever since then, it has been in heavy rotation. He was so glad when this recipe was able to stay on our menu after the big food lifestyle change.

The above link takes you to their recipe, but I will repost it here as theirs is not very printer-friendly:

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Turkey Bean Chili
from "Everyday Food"
Serves 8 | Prep time: 30 minutes | Total time: 1 hour and 30 minutes

Ingredients
4 strips bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces (I use beef bacon or turkey bacon to keep it Pork-Free)
3 pounds ground dark-meat (7% fat) turkey
4 cups chopped onions
1/4 cup minced garlic cloves
2 medium fresh jalapeño chiles (ribs and seeds removed for less heat, if desired), minced
3 tablespoons chili powder
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
4 teaspoons ground cumin
2 cans (28 ounces each) whole tomatoes in purée
2 tablespoons unsulfured molasses
Coarse Salt
3 cans (15.5 ounces each) pinto beans, drained and rinsed
Assorted Toppings (I usually have tortilla chips and chop up extra onions and cilantro and keep them off to the side to use as toppings)

Directions:
1. Heat a Dutch-oven (or other heavy 5-quart pot) over medium heat. Add bacon; cook until crisp brown, 6 to 8 minutes. Raise heat to high; add turkey. Cook, stirring and breaking up meat with a spoon, until no longer pink, 8 to 10 minutes.

2. Add onion, garlic, and jalapeno; cook until soft, stirring often, about 5 minutes. Stir in chili powder, cocoa powder, and cumin; cook, stirring, until fragrant, 1 minute.

3. Break up tomatoes with a spoon or your hands, and stir them in along with the puree. Add molasses, 1 cup water, and 4 teaspoons salt; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer; cook, partially covered, 30 minutes.

4. Add beans; continue cooking, uncovered, until meat and beans are very tender, and chili is thick, about 30 minutes more. Serve with toppings.

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Now, I'm not a big chili fan, but this is seriously like THE best chili I've ever had and it is certainly in Hubby's Top 3 Favorite Dishes that I make.

I usually leave the jalapeños out as Hubby does not do spicy and also I mix some black beans in with the pinto beans just for variation. Oh, and if you happen to be chocolate free (like I was for 3 or so months), you can leave out the cocoa powder and there isn't a real noticeable difference.

Enjoy!


Oh, if you try this recipe, leave me a comment and let me know what you think of it!

Chicken Pad Thai by Tandoor Chef


NOTE: This item is NOT Soy Free.
I make rare allowances for wheat-free soy sauce in my diet. As a part-Asian women who loves Asian food, it is nearly impossible to avoid soy sauce ALL the time as some foods are just not "right" without it (like sushi ... yum!), so to make it "safer" for myself, I stick with wheat-free brands and try to limit my intake as much as possible. And before you ask, yes, sometimes I do really pay for it!

I also feel that I must note that I am a half-Thai American. so, I have had A LOT of experience with Pad Thai from several different authentic sources. I myself have made this dish several times but the process is somewhat tedious (LOTS of prep-work) and I was hoping that "Tandoor Chef's" Chicken Pad Thai would be a quick lunch back-up for me. Unfortunately, I do not think that it will be able to serve this purpose.

Although this dish tasted ok, there were several key flaws with this product for me. 1) It totally missed the whole purpose of Pad Thai which is to be a mixture of sweet, salty, sour and tangy, 2) It was MUCH spicier than it needed to be and 3) It was MUCH oilier than it needed to be.

And actually, although I allowed for the wheat-free soy sauce in this case, true Pad Thai sauce does not require a single drop of soy sauce. And actually, real authentic Pad Thai is totally GDSYWP free with the exception of Tofu, which one can easily be leave out. All of the pre-made Pad Thai sauces that I found have had either soy sauce or soybean oil in them, but again, authentic Pad Thai sauce does not require this at all.

Anyway, like I said, this dish wasn't terrible, but to a person who has had MANY authentic versions of this dish, it really just missed the mark completely.

Do I have you now wondering what this wonderful dish *should* be like? Well, rather than explain all the ingredients and give you a recipe, I will point you to a lady who has already done so brilliantly. Why re-invent the wheel, right?

Please go to "Pad Thai for Beginners" by Chez Pim.

If you have access to the ingredients and the time to make it ,I would HIGHLY recommend it. It is one of the most popular Thai dishes and, when made correctly, is DELICIOUS!

Cereal


When I first found out about my GDSYWP intolerances, many foods that I would never be able to have again ran through my mind. Cheese, bread, pasta, pizza, milkshakes and ice cream all came to mind. But, one thing that I didn't think of was cereal. I have never been a big cereal fan. Hubby, on the other hand, is. He LOVES cereal. I honestly think if I gave him cereal for breakfast, lunch and dinner, he would be a happy man. Especially if I gave him a couple choices and even better if I mixed them together. Ick. Anyway, back to the subject at hand. When traveling (and this subject deserves several posts all to itself, which it will get later), cereal is probably the easiest breakfast option to not only consume safely, but also to find in local grocery stores. There were some surprising cereals that I thought would be GDSYWP free, but were not. This is a reoccurring theme in this lifestyle (again, a subject which needs its own post). In addition to the fact that I've never been a big fan of cereal, I also have a strong aversion to anything that tastes too "ricey" (I think I just made that word up, but if you are gluten free, you probably know what I'm talking about). Certain rice milks, Rice Dream ice cream, certain flour mixes and certain breads have too strong of a rice flavor for me and it is really gross to me. It kinda makes the gluten free part of this lifestyle difficult, but it is what it is. So, here is a list of not too "ricey" cereals from a GDSYWP free, non-fan-of-cereal.

Cocoa and Fruity Pebbles
I was so happy about this because although I've never been a big fan of cereal, I did always like both Cocoa and Fruit Pebbles. This is often my go-to cereal.


Rice Chex Cereal
Now, be VERY careful with this one. Rice Chex only recently became gluten free (as of July 2008, I believe), so there are still gluten packed boxes floating around. PLEASE read your box and make sure that it is indeed gluten free. It is labeled right on the front of the box. The previous recipe contained malt barley. Actually, when I was first diagnosed with all this back in February 2008, the very 2 first cereals I reached for (thanks to my Hubbys extensive knowledge of all things cereal), were Rice and Corn Chex. I was very surprised to find that they both had malt barley in them. I mean, they seemed like easy cereals to make allergen free. But alas, they were not. Until now! So, I've stocked up on Rice Chex and am crossing my fingers that they will soon make their Corn Chex gluten free as well!


Trix
I don't ever remember having Trix prior to this lifestyle change, but I really like it. Since it is corn based, it doesn't have that strong "ricey" flavor, which I am happy about. It also holds up to milk and stays nice and crunchy - I can't stand mushy cereal! Ick!


Some cereals that I was surprised to learn were NOT GDSYWP free: Cocoa Krispies (Malt Flavoring and possible use of Soybean Oil). I figure if Cocoa Pebbles is safe, Cocoa Krispies should be too, right? Nope!, Rice Krispies (Malt Flavoring), I just thought this one should be easy enough to make gluten free, Corn Pops (possible use of Soybean Oil and some other unmentioned wheat product, but allergen information says the cereal contains wheat - maybe manufactured on equipment that processes wheat?), Honey Comb (made with non-GF Oat flour and is manufactured on equipment that processes wheat).


Now, I know that there are companies that make specially designed gluten and other allergen free cereals. I have tried a couple of them, but I just did not like them, either the taste or texture was off. I know that I could experiment more with them, but they are usually more expensive than the "regular" brands and since I am not much of a cereal person to begin with, I just haven't devoted much energy into it. Besides, I only occasionally eat cereal at home. One box would last ages in my house (well, if Hubby didn't get into it!). It is really only when I travel that I make cereal my safe breakfast, and if it's a specialty cereal, I may not be able to find it where I am going. If I stick to big store brand-names, I am sure to find at least one of these. I usually just pack some rice or almond milk (double or triple Zip-Loc bagged in my suitcase if flying, or just thrown in the trunk if driving) and then find the cereal at a local grocery store when I get to where I'm going.

And that's all I have to say about that!

Fruit Leathers


One of my favorite products of all time is Fruit Leathers by the Stretch Island Fruit Company. My Hubby and I discovered these back n 2004 when I was on Weight Watchers before our wedding. They were low points and portable, which was all I needed to hear. Unlike most of our other Weight-Watchers-Friendly favorite foods, this one is still in our pantry. Fruit Leathers are not only healthy and portable, but quite tasty. Imagine a really thick, natural, yummy Fruit Roll-Up. And I do mean pretty darn natural, at least as prepackaged food goes. All they have in them is fruit puree and/or concentrate and some fruit flavoring ... that's it! Also, they last a really long time. I mean, they do get a bit stiffer and stickier with time (and heat), but munching on a couple sticky somewhat stiff fruit leathers is healthier than stopping at a fast food joint - and is tastier and food-intolerant-safer, too! I always keep a few in my safe-food drawer at work and usually a couple in my purse, too.

These babies come in 10 (yes, TEN) different flavors, are found at nearly any health food store (and some "normal" stores in the health food section), online at their website as well as Amazon.com, and I've even seem them at Costco from time-to-time.

If you should come across these, you should absolutely give them a try!

SCORE!

Sorry about yesterday. Yes, I know it was A LOT of information. I always like to hear the stories of how people come to their diet (whether choosing to be vegan, vegetarian, soy free, etc) and therefore felt like I should share my story, lest I be accused of asking without telling!

Today's post will be shorter ... maybe. More interesting? Definitely! I have come to share with you the KINGS of all dairy AND soy free products. Yes, if you are dairy and soy free and haven't heard of these products yet, you will want to kiss me once you taste it. Yes, really, you will! Just you wait and see ...

The guests of honor are ...




COCONUT MILK ICE CREAM AND ...

YOGURT!!!




SCORE!

Get Out!

Shut Up!

For Real!

... right?


Anyway, the dairy free experts, Turtle Mountain, have recently released these beauties onto the market and I, for one, am seeing big things in their future.

I'll be honest, when I made this life change back in February, I was very surprised to see that nearly all dairy substitutes were made with soy. The only exception that I found was Rice Dream and Galaxy's Rice Cheese, but to a less-than-a-week GDSYWP-free person, this ice cream and cheese was NOT cutting it (and actually still doesn't at 6 months free). I truly applaud their efforts in offering something to us poor souls, but after 24 years of creamy, melty, flavorful dairy products, this stuff just plain sucked (sorry Rice Dream and Galaxy!).

Being of half-Thai decent and using a lot of coconut milk in various recipes, I asked myself (and complained to Hubby) why this couldn't be used to make dairy products. I mean, it was creamy and flavorful, and most importantly - dairy and soy free! (And actually, I had often thought of using it as a substitute for milk in my previously-dairy-filled-life recipes, but I just never got around to it ... ya know how that goes) And actually, if I had only pursued those thoughts, bought a food making business and knew how to make dairy products, well, then I could be the one reaping all these benefits right now ...

okay, that's a whole different dream ...

So, um, yeah, my current dream is rolling around in this beautifully creamy stuff for the rest of my life! :D


The Coconut Milk Ice Cream comes in 6 flavors: Vanilla Bean, Chocolate, Mint Chocolate Chip (contains soy lecithin), Cookie Dough (soy lecithin) and Coconut.
Chocolate was creamy, with a slight hint of coconut while on the tongue, but definitely finishes with a pleasant, rich chocolate flavor.
The Vanilla Bean flavor was the complete opposite of the Chocolate flavor. Vanilla started with a crisp, bright vanilla flavor on your tongue that morphed into, and finished with, coconut. My coconut-disliking Hubby did not like this flavor. He also thought the Vanilla Beans were too strong, though I liked that. I really loved the initial crisp, strong vanilla flavor, but be warned that it doesn't last long before morphing into coconut.
Mint Chocolate Chip is definitely minty, maybe even is a bit too crisp, but doesn't taste like coconut at all. The only thing that disappointed me is that the chocolate is not in flakes like I prefer. It's sort of flaky, but is in a ribbon swirled around throughout the mint ice cream. This flavor is really good, but I still miss my all time favorite ice cream ever - Blue Bell Mint Chocolate Chip. Maybe that's why I'm so critical of mint chip flavored ice cream.
Cookie Dough ... oh. my. I can't tell you just how THRILLED I was when I found out that the cookie dough is gluten free. Wow! Gluten, dairy and soy free ... AND delicious! It seriously is super good. Probably my favorite of the six, which is saying a lot considering that Iwas never a big fan of this flavor prior to going GDSYWP-free. The ice cream itself is either cookie dough flavored or a very, very mild vanilla (not like their sharp vanilla bean) and the cookie dough is in balls - whichout chocolate chips. The chocolate is in flakes throughout the ice cream, separate from the dough. I think that's why I like it so much. Another bonus, the cookie dough isn't super hard, which is part of why I never liked it before. Way to go Turtle Mountain - you hit this one on the nose!
Finally, the Coconut flavor was also creamy, rich and had tiny pieces of coconut floating around in it. Can you just imagine - a dairy and soy free ice cream that is rich AND creamy? Oh, I think I'm in love!

***Edited to add: They've now released 3 new flavors - Mocha Almond Fudge, Passionate Mango and Chocolate Peanut Butter Swirl.
Mocha Almond Fudge is my new favorite! It's delish! Mocha ice cream with bits of toasted almonds and plenty - but not too much - of fudgy goodness!
Passionate Mango - I tried this again, but didn't expect to like it since I didn't like the yogurt. I didn't like it. I will put it in smoothies though. I'm just not a fan of passion fruit. I love mango, but all I can taste here is the passion fruit.


The Coconut Milk Yogurt also comes in 6 flavors: Plain, Vanilla, Blueberry, Passionate Mango, Strawberry Banana and Raspberry.
The Passionate Mango, to me, was gross. But then again, I don't care for passion fruit and that was all I could taste while eating this. I LOVE coconut and I LOVE mango, so I thought I would be able to work past the passion fruit, but I couldn't. If you do like passion fruit, however, maybe this would be good.
The Vanilla was DIVINE! It was smooth and creamy and didn't taste like coconut at all - not even a hint. I thought this, and my coconut-hating husband thought so, too! I can see myself using this one a lot, just for eating, and in my previous-dairy-filled-life recipes involving vanilla yogurt. SCORE!
The Raspberry was interesting. It was definitely tangy like raspberries, but I don't think it tasted quite like raspberries, but it didn't taste quite like coconut, either. I guess the melding of the two created this whole other flavor. It also has a medicinal after-taste. It kind of reminds me of flavored cough syrup that tries to cover the medicine taste with a fruity flavor that just doesn't quite cut it. With that said though, the flavor isn't AS bad as that. It's just not anything that I recognized easily. I think I'm going to have to give it another try to be sure.
The Strawberry Banana flavor to me was just o-k. I didn't love it, didn't hate it. It barely tasted of bananas or coconut, did have a more prominent strawberry flavor, but still nothing really went *pow* in my mouth.
I really liked the Blueberry flavor. It definitely tasted like blueberry, but the coconut flavor took the tarty edge off of them. I think it had a bit of a coconut aftertaste, but not much in my coconut loving opinion. (sorry, coconut-disliking Hubby was not around to taste).
The Plain, well, it tasted plain! JUST like regular 'ol plain yogurt. Tart yet creamy. I haven't eaten it by itself much, but have used it frequently in recipes calling for plain yogurt and it works just beautifully!

Okay, that's my story and I'm sticking to it. If you've had the pleasure of trying any of these, please leave me a message letting me know what you think! Are you as excited about this stuff as I am?

The Beginning

I guess it's always best to start at the beginning ... if I knew where that was!

I can't exactly tell you the beginning because I have always had "stomach issues," as my parents called it. My stomach was often upset or uncomfortable and I have always had (prepare for graphic information) toggling severe constipation/diarrhea and mucous in my stool.

So, I don't know exactly when the symptoms began, but I can tell you how I started to heal.

Like I said, I had always experienced discomfort, but when I was 14, I began to experience digestive issues and severe pain. It was August of 1997 and I was about to start my very first day of High School. I was under a lot of stress, I felt like I was carrying the world. I was starting at a new school and had recently been accepted into Honors courses. I had never had summer homework in my life and didn't know if what I was doing was correct, but I had done my best. I was stressed at learning a new building, trying to navigate my way around, having to meet new people (which I have never been good at), having to be judged by new people, having to take 2 different buses to school and 3 back since I was going to a magnet school in another area of town, having to submit work to teachers I'd never met and possibly be embarrassed by having everything I did over the summer be wrong. The first day was a huge blur - I was just trying to make it. What I do remember, though, is the pain. I felt like I had a cheese grater scraping the insides of my stomach. I remember coming home and just falling onto my bed and forcing myself to go to sleep. I was exhausted from not getting enough sleep, from the craziness from the day, and from fighting the pain. I just wanted to be in an unconscious state so I didn't have to feel it for a while.

I still think that to this day (I'm now 25), that was the worst that I've ever felt.

I had good days, bad days, and worse days. I was always afraid of having to get up and run to the bathroom in the middle of class, or worst, a test. How to explain to a teacher that this was an emergency when I wasn't bleeding, vomiting, or even breaking out into hives? It was the day-to-day unknowns that were the worst.

After a couple of months of listening to my complaining, my parents finally took me to see our general doctor about my issue. He was stumped and said he had to go check on something. He did some research, came back into the office and asked me a lot of questions about my symptoms and about my lifestyle (did I get good grades, what type of stuff did I eat for lunch, did I have many friends, etc.). He finally told me I had Irritable Bowl Syndrome. He said that it was a fairly new disorder having been known previously as Spastic Colon. He said that there was no cure, but that all I had to do was identify the triggers, then avoid them. It seemed easy enough ... or so I thought! I tried for years to figure it out. I got in several fights with my father who thought I should have figured them out by now and was still dealing with constant discomfort, pain and embarrassment. But it wasn't that easy. I really did try to figure it out, but the only food I could pinpoint was pork. Whenever I had bacon or a ham sandwich or a BLT (mmmmm .... my favorite! er, WAS my favorite ...), I would immediately have what I called "Stomach Grumbling." So, when I went to college, I slowly started to phase it out. In a year or two, I was completely pork free, but still having issues. I knew pork was one of the triggers, but there had to be others, that I couldn't quite pinpoint. As the years moved on, I started to develop more issues. In 2005, I started getting severe fatigue episodes. It was again a stressful time in my life. I was graduating from college, planning a wedding and was on Weight Watchers to try to loose a bit of weight for that beautiful white satin gown. My soon-to-be husband pointed out that the fatigue was probably from a quick drop in calories, and I just brushed it off thinking my body would eventually "adjust." The fatigue did lessen over time, but I would still get "shut downs" where I would just get so tired and just sort of involuntarily go into a deep sleep. I would be slightly woken to a semi-conscious state, but not really able to wake up fully for a few hours (like 2-5). I talked to my doctor about it, who also chalked it up to stress, "that time of the month" and other non-worrying things. Then, in early 2007, I started to develop a rash on my elbows. My general doctor as well as an allergist and dermatologist said it was just plain non-allergic eczema and to just put some cream on it and I'd be fine.

Then, in January 2008. I decide to talk to a Naturopath. Since July 2007, I had been experience extreme pressure and a "full" feeling in my ear. This Naturopath had cured a friend of mine from a parasite after 2 years of seeing lots of doctors who couldn't identify what was wrong with him. I figured that if she could cure him, maybe she could help me with my ear. (My ear is a whole different story that is irrelevant to this blog, but lets just say that my ear to this day, August 2008, it is still not quite right, but is much better.) Anyway, my Naturopath asked me to write down every and any "not normal" symptom I was experiencing. I asked her to define normal because I knew that I had some issues that were not normal to others, but that had always been "normal" to my body. She asked me to write down anything and everything I could think of because any of it could tell her a bit more about my body. So, I tell her everything. My ear, my stomach, the fatigue, the rash, my bowel issues, everything ... in great detail ... in detail that I probably won't gross you out with. So, in the midst of running tests to discover what was wrong with my ear, my Naturopath discovered that I had several food intolerances. She said Gluten, Dairy, Soy, Yeast, Walnuts and Pork (she also said chocolate, but I've since gone back to it ... I am a woman, after all!) were all very bad for my body. She wanted me to immediately cut these foods out of my diet for a month to see how I would feel. I agreed to do so and that is how this all started ...

I'm not going to lie, the whole process was very, very difficult - for me and my gluten and dairy loving husband. I was so upset that I actually cried the first night (which, to those who know me, that means something as I am NOT a crier!) ... but I'll save all that for another post. The emotions, the shock ... those alone could take up a whole blog. I will share them with you, but not now.

What I want to convey right now is that after 24 years of pain, discomfort, embarrassment, confusion, explanations (albeit wrong ones!), lack of explanations, wonder and anxiety were all cleared up by simply removing 6 foods from my diet. Okay maybe "simply" wasn't the right word ... nothing about this is simple. But, I feel more "normal" than I have in my whole life, so I'm thinking that it is all worth it!

My goal with this blog is to share this transition with you. I have learned so much in the past 6 months of this journey - about food, about my body, and about myself. I want to encourage those going through similar experiences, share my knowledge and lessons, and maybe even provide a little bit of comfort.

This is my Six Food Intolerance Life!


Disclaimer

The opinions and thoughts expressed here are purely my own and are not coerced, swayed or influenced by a company, organization or other person. The information contained here is to the best of my knowledge at the date posted. I am NOT an expert and am NOT responsible for anything that you do with this information. Please do your own research, seek out professionals and read all ingredients yourself in order to ensure that the choices you make are right for your lifestyle.

Comments on this website may not represent the views of the blog owner and their claims, advice, etc. are the sole responsibility of their original writers, NOT the blog owner.

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