Archive for October, 2015

October 26, 2015

Booooooooo! Who…Has Gluten-Free Halloween Candy?

Booooooooo! Who…has gluten-free Halloween Candy? My family loves a Halloween party, Halloween costume, costume in general, party in general, treats in particular and fun…always!
cowboys

As the holiday approaches, it just so happens that I’ve been digitizing some of my old photos. If you look through a stack, you’d think every day was Halloween at our house. On regular days, Ben and James spent most of their time as cowboys, often in real leather chaps & vests, but sometimes they posed as army men, kings, and alien creatures in cardboard spaceships.
On Halloween the costume parade expanded to feature rodeo clowns, Native Americans, and Rambo.
beard
Rambo
Like the kids in my current neighborhood, the boys loved going door to door extorting candy from our friends. We would start early, stay out late, and then gleefully sort through the candy haul. Of course, way back then none of us worried about gluten in the candy; all we had to fear was the mythical razor blade.

Now we’re very gluten conscious. Every year, I review the information available from the Hershey’s, Jelly Belly, Just Born, Mars, NECCO, Nestle, Sweets and Tootsie Roll websites to make sure that items on the following list are still gluten-free. The past two years, all of the sites have been helpful. This year, there’s a change at Mars where the consumer is encouraged to read labels, and Nestle which vaguely talks about being responsive to the public’s request for gluten-free options.

I agree with Mars that reading labels is important, but in the dark, in a mask, on someone else’s porch may not be the best time to expect a child to read. And once the kids come home with a plastic pumpkin full of candy, you’re not going to want to take the time to read labels either. Besides that, the special Halloween candy bars may not contain all the information on each individual package. To prepare your children in advance so they can selectively grab from a candy tray, use the following list which contains candy identified as gluten-free by its manufacturer.

(While there may still be gluten-free options available from Mars and Nestle, I’ve removed those listings just to be safe and included only the items that should definitely be avoided. If you want to read the labels on their other products, make sure there’s no wheat, wheat starch, rye, barley, malt, malted milk, oats unless specified as GF, flour (unless made from a GF grain), graham flour, cookie chis, or cookie dough included. Avoid candy containing edible starch, edible coatings, edible film, maltose, stabilizers, flavors, natural flavoring, malt flavoring, glucose syrup, and brown rice syrup unless the specific components are listed and are all GF.)

Booooooooo! Who…has gluten-free Halloween Candy? They do:

From Hershey’s
Enjoy:
Almond Joy (except Almond Joy Pieces)
HERSHEY’s Milk Duds (all)
HERSHEY’s Nuggets
HERSHEY’s Nuggets Milk Chocolate with Almonds
HERSHEY’s SPECIAL DARK Dark Chocolate with Almonds
HERSHEY’s Nuggets Extras Creamy Milk Chocolate with Toffee and Almonds
HERSHEY’s Milk Chocolate Bar
HERSHEY’s Milk Chocolate Bar with Almonds
HERSHEY’s Air Delight
Heath Bar
Milk Chocolate Kisses
Mint Dark Chocolate Truffles Candy Kisses
SPECIAL DARK Mildly Sweet Chocolate Kisses
Pumpkin Spice Flavored Candy Kisses
Caramel Filled Chocolate Kisses
Cherry Cordial Creme Kisses
Vanilla Creme Chocolate Kisses
MOUNDS (all)
PAYDAY (all)
REESE’s Peanut Butter Cups (except for Unwrapped Minis and Seasonal Shapes)
REESE’s PIECES (all except REESE’s PIECES Eggs)
ROLO Caramels (all except ROLO Minis)
Scharffen Berger
Skor Toffee Bars (all)
YORK Peppermint Pattie (all except YORK PIECES, YORK Minis and YORK Shapes)

Avoid:
Almond Joy Pieces
HERSHEY’s Extra Dark Chocolate
HERSHEY’s Cookies ‘N’ Creme Bar
HERSHEY’s Milk Chocolate Drops
HERSHEY’s Miniatures
HERSHEY’s Special Dark Bar
Mr. Goodbar
REESE’s Peanut Butter Cups unwrapped Minis and seasonal shapes,
REESE’s PIECES eggs
ROLO Minis
Symphony Bar
Kit Kat
YORK PIECES
YORK Minis and YORK Shapes

From Jelly Belly
Enjoy:
All jelly beans are gluten-free and dairy free
Jelly Belly Candy Corn

Avoid:
Any mix containing malt balls
Chocolate Bridge Mix
Licorice Bridge Mix
Chocolate Malt Balls
Licorice Buttons
Licorice Pastels

From Just Born
Enjoy:
Seasonal Peeps as noted on package
Mike and Ike’s – Berry Blast
Italian Ice
Jolly Joes
Lemonade Blends
Original Fruits
Redrageous
Tangy Twister
Tropical Typhoon
Zours
Hot Tamales
Goldenberg’s Vintage Peanut Chews

Avoid:
Any Peep not labeled GF

From Mars Chocolate
Avoid:
M&M pretzel flavor
Some packages of M&M White Chocolate, Mint, and M&M Coconut flavor
Maltesers
Mars Bar
Mars Combos
Milky Way Bar
Twix

From NECCO
Enjoy:

Candy Buttons
CANADA Mints
CANADA Wintergreen
Banana Splits Chews
Mint Julep Chews
Haviland Thin Mints
Haviland Wintergreen Patty
Mary Jane
Mary Jane Peanut Butter Kisses
NECCO Wafers
NECCO Chocolate Wafers
Sky Bar
Sweethearts

Avoid:
Clark Bars
Haviland Bridge Mix
Haviland Real Chocolate Covered Raisins
Haviland Real Chocolate Double Dipped Peanuts
Mighty Malts
Peach Blossoms
Red Hot Cinnamon Bat-Wing Wafers
Slap Stix
Squirrel Nut Zippers
Sweethearts Mummy Hearts
Zombie Hearts

From Nestle
Avoid
(some are processed in a facility that processes gluten containing items, read label):
100 Grand Bar
Butterfinger Crisp Bar
Butterfinger Giant Bar
Butterfinger Snackerz
Butterfinger Medallions
Butterfinger Jingles
Butterfinger Hearts
Butterfinger Pumpkins
Chewy Spree
Everlasting Gobstopper
Nestle Crunch Bar
Sweetarts
All flavors of Wonka Bars
Wonka Nerds
Wonka Gummies
Wonka Kazoozles

From Sweets
Enjoy:
Chocolate Jelly Sticks
Gummy Bears are all certified GF
Jelly Beans
Salt Water Taffy

Avoid:
Candies packaged by Sweets, but not made by Sweets. Read labels.

From Tootsie Roll Industries
Enjoy:
All Tootsie Rolls and Charms products with the exception of Andes cookies.
The following Tootsie Roll products are also peanut and nut product free:
Andes mints
Crows
Celia’s Milk or Dark Chocolate Covered Cherries
Charleston Chew
Charms Squares
Charms Sour Balls
Charms Candy Carnival
Frooties, Dots
Tropical Dots
Fluffy Stuff Cotton Candy
Junior Mints
Junior Caramels
Caramel Apple Pops
Fruit Smoothie Pops
Pops Galore
Tootsie Pops
Tootsie Peppermint Pops
Tropical Stormz Pops
Zip-A-Dee-Mini Pops
Child’s Play Tootsie Roll Assortment
Fruit Rolls
Tootsie Rolls
Sugar Babies
Sugar Daddy
Sugar Mama

Avoid:
Andes Cookies

From Mars Wrigley
Avoid:
Altoids Smalls Peppermint Mints
Altoids Chocolate Dipped Covered Mints

clown
There are enough choices to ensure your gluten-free kid can get a sugar high before the night is over so put the finishing touches on your costume and head out for some fun!

Stewart can’t decide if he wants to be a bidnessman or Elvis. Which do you think he should be?
BmanElvis
Happy Halloween!

If you require additional information, you can contact these candy companies at the following numbers:
Hershey’s 800-468-1714
Jelly Belly 800-522-3267
Just Born 888-645-3453
Mars Chocolate 800-627-7852
Necco 800-225-5508
Nestle USA 800-225-2270
Sweet’s 855-772-7720
Tootsie Roll Industries 773-838-3400
Mars Wrigley 800-974-4539

Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Additional resources:

http://www.necco.com/FAQs.aspx
http://www.tootsie.com/search/?q=gluten%20free
http://www.specialtyfood.com/organization/company/8077/

October 20, 2015

Feeling Inspired?

This week I’m feeling inspired, are you?

I was inspired by bunches of leftover celery, broccoli, chicken, and parsley to make soup.
Soup

I’m inspired by the incredibly blue sky and moderate temperatures to spend more time outside.
I’m inspired by my increasing strength and flexibility to continue adding weights to my yoga workout.
I feel inspired to create a new bread recipe because I can visualize the taste and texture I want it to have.
I feel inspired to continue to do work that I love rather than choosing a more traditional path.

Where does this inspiration originate?

I don’t really know the answer to that. I believe we all have the capacity within us to be inspired at any moment. I also know that I value the feeling so I am open to it. I put myself in environments that support it. I seek out lectures, poetry readings, concerts, movies, computer programming crash courses, waterfalls, meandering routes, good books, amazing coffee, and tasty morsels that have the potential to stimulate my mind and arouse my creativity.

Last week, I took a few hours away from work to attend a documentary film festival. I love that festival. It’s been providing me with incredible experiences for more than 20 years. This year, I fell in love with the movie, “The Man Who Saved Ben Hur”. I felt especially inspirited by the aliveness of 102-year-old Max in “Love at a Certain Age”, and I was fascinated by the audience patter throughout, “Mission Control Texas”. I appreciate the filmmakers desire to illuminate their subjects and share them with us.

It would have been easy to decide I was too busy to drive an hour to watch movies that most people have never heard of. With virtually no effort, I could have convinced myself that it would be more responsible to spend my time working. I could have squelched my happy anticipation, put my nose to the grindstone, and knocked out another project. But here’s the thing…the work would have felt like drudgery and I would have deprived myself of something that feeds me, and thereby, my work.

As I listened to a lecture a day or two later by Anne-Marie Slaughter regarding the need for family leave and flexible workplaces, I was struck by the truth that many people fear they will be penalized for acting as if they care about anything besides their career. That can’t be healthy for us, just as not caring about our jobs can’t be healthy for our businesses. But the quickest way to get us to stop caring about our jobs is to send us the message that we must sacrifice our family or ourselves to do so.

What is the balance point?

I don’t know that I have the answer to that either, but I am certain that filling a day with nothing but drudgery, fear, stress, obligation, and monotony does not yield the best quality product let alone the best life. Some people seem to inherently grasp this and find a way to play, enjoy, and transcend the environment, but many others do not feel as though they have the luxury.

If you feel stuck in nothing but drudgery and unable to see the possibilities that might inspire you…

Maybe you can begin to feel inspired by a tiny rebellion or two! Rebellion suits my contrarian nature. I’ll eat dessert first. Throw away (donate, or gift) something that I thought I just had to have. Follow the 5 second rule. Watch an episode of South Park. Read “Runny-Babbitt”. Walk backward for a block. Wear flowers and stripes together. Eat on paper plates for a week. Keep my fork in my left hand after I cut my meat and eat European style. Impersonate someone new every day. Tell the truth when someone asks how I am.

How does this help? These small acts remind me to challenge my own beliefs and not to take things so seriously. The world will not end if someone looks at me funny for wearing stripes and flowers together (really mom, see the world is still spinning). A sense of perspective helps me see past my immediate concerns to the greater possibilities.

If rebellion doesn’t work for you, try safety and comfort to get you started. I like to dig out my favorite afghan or microwaveable pillow and get snuggly warm. I’ll drink hot tea, repot my houseplants, carry a book with me, cook biscuits, say no, and binge watch a TV show with a strong leading character who makes me feel safe.

The point of all this is to remind myself that I can change my internal environment by making very small changes to my external environment and that I am always in charge of my choices. From this position, it is much easier to shift into better balance in my life. It’s like placing ball bearings in a tall building in earthquake prone California. I give myself the ability to shift with outside forces without threat to the structure of my well-being.

That is the point from which I’m most open to embracing life and all of its incredible inspiration.
Speaking of, I just watched the most beautiful sunrise! What inspires you?
sunrise

http://www.manwhosavedbenhur.com/

http://loveatacertainage.com/

https://www.facebook.com/missioncontroltexasen

October 12, 2015

Cake Pops – Things Aren’t Always What They Seem!

cake popsThings aren’t always what they seem – no matter how many kits exist, you don’t need any specialized equipment to make cake pops even when they’re gluten-free! This weekend, I hosted a party that featured gourmet ice lollies. In keeping with the treat-on-a-stick theme, I also served gluten-free chocolate dipped chocolate cake pops.

Now I’ve seen lots of special cake pop baking kits in department stores, drug stores, and online. Usually, they include two pans with half-moon shaped indentions that fit together to shape your batter into a sphere while it bakes. I had the idea that these were a necessity and I was a bit worried about my gluten-free batter filling out the cups and holding together once I placed it on a stick.

All that worry was for nothing. You don’t need special pans to make a rich, delicious cake pop that holds together beautifully even when your batter is gluten-free. I was delighted to learn that the traditional pop is made using a cake that has been baked, cooled, and crumbled. The crumbs then have butter, cream cheese and confectioner’s sugar added to them to create a moist, sticky batter ball that easily holds to a stick.

I creamed together 4 tbsp softened butter, 8 oz softened cream cheese, and two cups of confectioner’s sugar to add to the crumbs from a 9 x 12 inch sheet cake. In addition to these ingredients, I used lollipop sticks, meltable chocolate candy coating, and edible confetti to finish the pops.
sticks
Once a lollipop stick is inserted into a small ball of the sticky batter, a quick dip in melted candy coating and a sprinkle of confetti, sanding sugar, sprinkles, or other decorative topping renders a fun or sophisticated finished pop. Placing the pops in the freezer for 15 – 20 minutes prior to adding the coating will help them hold onto the stick while they are dipped in warm candy coating.

Not only can the look of cake pops be adapted to any party theme, the pops can be made in advance and stored uncoated in the refrigerator or coated and decorated in the freezer until the day of an event. I always prep as many items as I can in advance for a party, so having an item that can be easily stored makes me really happy.

If, like me, you’ve avoided tackling cake pops because the whole process seemed like it would be difficult, you’ll be relieved to know that making this fun treat is much easier than it seems and there’s no special equipment required!

October 6, 2015

Is Bigger Always Better or Should I Channel My Inner Goldilocks?

Here’s what I’ve been pondering: Is bigger always better or should I channel my inner Goldilocks and learn to be satisfied with just right. I know, it seems obvious that just right is just right and therefore the obvious choice, but I’m surrounded by images, ads, attitudes, messages, and the occasional TEDx talk that imply, or outright state, that just right is somehow failure; that if I do not reach the absolute pinnacle of wealth, status, expertise, or achievement in my field, I will have failed to have a great career or a great life.
Versailles USA
And it seems to be no secret that I’m supposed to feel happiest when I buy a bigger house, fancier car, more expensive TV, computer, phone, coffee maker, iron, and larger lips, boobs, and these days, perhaps even booty. But I know plenty of people who have bought a bigger house or a high end car and now talk as if they’re more stressed than they were before. I have numerous friends who own the latest and greatest everything, look fabulous, and feel anxious, so anxious in fact, that they use daily medication or alcohol to take the edge off. Working in a service business for 25 years, I am also no stranger to the conversation that includes an expression of dissatisfaction with a job or spouse.

But something feels wrong to me. I understand that most of us are our own greatest limiters, so trying to inspire us to be more isn’t a bad thing on it’s own. The hard thing with all the messages encouraging excess is to determine when more becomes too much. Without tools for discernment or a different measure of enough, it’s easy to fall prey to the lure of too much and too many. Once we get on that roller coaster, nothing is enough and we certainly can’t be enough or produce enough or ever live up to our expectations. How can our spouse, our kids, our boss, or anyone, ever measure up? In this environment, how can we help but feel anxious and fearful?
Rev Run
Last fall I went to see Joseph Simmons (Rev Run) speak at a college nearby. He described a scene early in his career when he was experiencing the kind of success we’re told to strive for. Run DMC’s albums had just gone gold, platinum and then double platinum. At that point, Run’s goal became to top LL Cool J, so, his plan was to go to LA, get a presidential suite with a huge Jacuzzi tub, order French toast and smoke some weed. Then one day, he’s in LA in a presidential suite, in the Jacuzzi eating French toast and smoking weed just like he planned. As he described it, syrup was falling in the tub and ashes were falling in the tub. A guy that ordered him a Rolls Royce to rent was at the door. “Rolling Stone” magazine was at the door with a girl for him, and the hair cut guy was on the way. He had everything he had imagined as “winning”.

Then, Rev said, he had a moment of clarity. He realized that he was trying to have everything at once. He was trying to win like we’re told to win and it did not come with the good feeling he expected. That point was the beginning of his bottom, or as he said it when I saw him, his top was his bottom. To quote the way he said it on another occasion to CNN, “At that moment I took a deep breath and realized that there`s more to life than just being No. 1, pushing the other rappers down.” It was the beginning of a journey that led Rev Run to become a real reverend with a real ministry.

When I was reading “Fearless Living” by Rhonda Britten, the book instructed me to choose a list of heroes. In various versions of this list, I chose Burt Rutan, Steve Jobs, Elon Musk, Ben Vereen, Theodor Seuss Geisel, and Ron Clark. In the beginning, I noticed that most of my lists were full of men and none included anyone I actually knew. Was it possible that the idea of bigger is better had caused me to believe that no everyday person could possibly qualify as a hero? Even more frightening, did I believe that only men could achieve the level of hero?

By the time I’m consciously asking a question, I know I’ve already shifted my subconscious beliefs enough that I can entertain a new point of view. Today my hero list includes Michelle Knight, Elizabeth Smart, and Michelle Wilkins – all women who endured the unspeakable and emerged with a bright, sweet spirit intact. It’s that spirit that inspires me. You can’t buy it. You can’t get a degree in it. You can have it no matter what you look like. It’s available within each of us and it can be cultivated, nourished, and shared. It is a piece of wholeness.

We all have different paths to healing and wholeness. Along the way, some of us will enjoy accolades, win prizes and garner fame as the foremost achievers in our field. Some of us will receive recognition for our contributions as parents or patrons of the arts. For some of us, there will be no overt recognition. We will only know we are having a positive effect during brief moments when we feel it in another’s response to us.

No matter what my job, my social status, or my financial situation, the more whole I am, the more contentment, satisfaction, beauty, and joy I’ll be poised to experience. That sounds to me like the underpinning of a great career and a great life!
coweta
Wholeness does not require wealth, a bigger house, a high end car, a Nobel prize, a larger TV, plastic surgery, a ticket to the Super Bowl, or French toast in a presidential suite. If I am whole, I can be a hero in my life. It seems quite simple, perhaps obvious, that bigger is only bigger and better is only better when it’s just right. Now that we cleared that up, I’ll just sign off – as Goldilocks, of course!

http://www.ted.com/talks/larry_smith_why_you_will_fail_to_have_a_great_career?language=en

http://www.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/0810/10/gb.01.html