Archive for ‘Just for Fun!’

October 10, 2017

Trick or Treat?

halloweenIf you offer something besides candy, will the little ones think it’s a trick or treat? Halloween is swiftly approaching. I love the costumes and watching the kids. I don’t love all the candy. It’s predicted that 2.7 billion dollars will be spent on candy in the US this Halloween. That’s a lot of sugar that none of us really need.

I not opposed to occasional candy or dessert and I don’t want to take the fun out of trick-or-treating, but this year I’m going to explore some edible candy alternatives rather than giving you lists of gluten-free candy or non-candy items. After all, getting something different to eat is fun too!

ghostsGarden Veggie Ghosts and Bats

If you’re a fan of Sensible Portions® Garden Veggie Straws (which I like because they’re actually straws that you can blow air through), you’ll love Garden Veggie Ghosts and Bats! They’re crispy, salty snacks shaped like, you got it, ghosts and bats. Packaged in .05 oz bags for Halloween, these crisps have less fat than potato chips.

Popchips® Galaxy Puff’s

Who doesn’t think Darth Vader is scary? Aged White Cheddar Popchips shaped like Star Wars ships and characters are now available in .8 ounce bags perfect for Halloween. These gluten-free chips have no cholesterol and no trans-fats.

Caramel Apple Chips

Seneca 100 calorie bags of Caramel Apple Chips are gluten-free, kosher and have 30% less fat than regular chips. I like the plain apple chips, but the caramel apple flavor is a great riff on retro Halloween treats.

Popcorn Mini Bags

These look just like regular bags of microwave popcorn, but are only 1.6 ounces. Some years you can find orange and black packages especially for Halloween. Other years, it’s only the smaller size that differentiates these from regular microwave popcorn. Several brands are available online and from brick and mortar retailers.

Already Popped Corn

Snack sized bags of SkinnyPop Popcorn are GMO and preservative free. Flavors include Sea Salt & Pepper, White Cheddar, Jalapeño, and Dusted Dark Chocolate in addition to regular. If you prefer SMARTFOOD® Popcorn, the White Cheddar Cheese, Theater Butter, and SMARTFOOD Delight® Sea Salt and White Cheddar Cheese flavors are gluten-free.

popcorn ballHalloween Popcorn Balls

While we’re talking about popcorn, you may like Kathy Kaye Foods’ Halloween Popcorn Balls. This option contains sugar in a retro presentation. Remember when these were homemade? Each ball is 110 calories and 18 g of sugar. That’s the same amount of sugar as a Snickers® Miniature, but with 60 less calories and a lot more novelty.

Go-Gurt

Individual yogurt servings in an easy to carry, easy to open, package. The packages have trivia, games, and jokes on them making them fun to unpack from your trick-or-treat bag. Although each flavor contains 8 grams of sugar, it also has probiotic cultures, calcium, Vitamin D, and protein.

raisinsRaisin Mini Snacks

Wouldn’t it be great if they packaged these as monster poop for Halloween? The size is good. The raisins are sweet and healthy. The only thing lacking is themed packaging. Nonetheless, this is a good gluten-free option.

Sunflower or Pumpkin Seeds

Although I love them, I hesitate to recommend nut mixes for Halloween. Seeds are an alternative to nuts. FritoLay® offers a variety pack of Spitz® Seeds in various flavors. Salted Sunflower Seeds, Chili Lime Sunflower Seeds, Cracked Pepper Sunflower Seeds, Dill Pickle Pumpkin Seeds, Dill Pickle Sunflower Seeds, Salted Caramel Sunflower Seeds, Seasoned Pumpkin Seeds, Seasoned Sunflower Seeds, Smoky BBQ Sunflower Seeds, and Spicy Sweet Chili Sunflower Seeds are all made without gluten-containing ingredients. Please note that these flavors are not made in a dedicated facility or on dedicated gluten-free equipment. Use appropriate caution.

Cheetos, Fritos, Doritos

Variety snack packs of mainstream chips are available everywhere. If you need to grab something at the last minute, this can be an easy option. Avoid Sun Chips and stick with the gluten-free flavors of Cheetos, Fritos, Doritos, and Lays Potato Chips.

I realize that some of these options may be more expensive than what you’re used to buying. Keep in mind that most of them are bulkier than mini candy bars, so children are less likely to grab a handful meaning you won’t need to buy as much to begin with.
food group
If you live in a neighborhood like mine where many children are food insecure, you can also think of this as a way to reduce hunger in your community. Spend a little more and give fruit and vegetable pouches or individual cups of applesauce, mandarin oranges, peaches, or pineapple. Put a box of raisins and an individual serving packet of peanut butter in a plastic bag (you may only want to give these to older children who can monitor their own allergies) for a do-it-yourself sandwich kit. Include individual cups of salsa along with corn chips. Give instant oatmeal cups, individual bowls of Cheerios, microwaveable brown rice, or pouches of tuna.

If you decide to give substantial food items, but don’t want kids to feel awkward about taking them, get some Halloween treat bags (Oriental Trading has a good selection) or create your own Boo Bags using brown paper bags, bag up the food and hand out the bags instead of individual items. The surprise factor will entice. Hungry kids will be appreciative. Any child who is disappointed will get plenty of candy from other homes.

Getting something different to eat is fun! Getting something gluten-free is special when you’re gluten intolerant. Getting something nutritious to eat is critical! I let this be my guide to trick or treat.

https://www.sensibleportions.com/en/products/ghosts-bats-garden-veggiechips/

http://www.sunmaid.com/products-details/raisins.html

http://shop.popchips.com/Galaxy-Puffs-Multipack/p/POP-218142&c=PopChips@GalaxyPuffs

https://www.amazon.com/Seneca-Apple-Chips-Caramel-Ounce/dp/B004981WJW/ref=sr_1_7_a_it?ie=UTF8&qid=1507647315&sr=8-7&keywords=seneca%2Bapple%2Bchips&th=1

https://www.skinnypop.com/our-popcorn/

http://www.smartfood.com/

https://kathykayefoods.com/collections/kathy-kaye-popcorn-balls/products/kathy-kaye-halloween-popcorn-ball

https://www.snickers.com/Nutritional-Info#SnickersMiniatures

https://www.gogurt.com/tube/

https://fritolayvarietypacks.com/home

http://www.fritolay.com/snacks/special-dietary-needs/us-gluten-free-products-and-products-not-containing-gluten-ingredients.htm

http://www.cooking2thrive.com/blog/booooooooo-gluten-free-halloween-candy/

http://www.cooking2thrive.com/blog/halloween-treats-dont-candy/

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.”

October 3, 2017

Fun with Food – Edible Books

farewell
You don’t need to have a food fight to have fun with food! This weekend, I checked out the local library’s Edible Book Contest. You may have one of these events near you. Ours was in conjunction with Banned Book Week.

Each entry in the contest is an edible representation of a book cover and is displayed along with a copy of the book. At our event, anyone who attended got to vote on the winner. Your local contest or festival may work differently, but what can be the same is having some fun with food!

Entering one of these contests can be a great family activity! The kids can choose a book, determine the materials, and help you cook and/or decorate. It’s a good way to learn that collaboration can make an end product even better than you could imagine on your own. Not to mention, it’s just fun to put a sword in the hand of a lemon to represent Lemonade Wars, or turn raisins into flies for Lord of the Flies.

Your entry doesn’t have to be a straightforward representation of the book. It can be a clever play on words. Think: Who Moved My Cheesecake (Who Moved my Cheese), War and Peas (War and Peace), The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank (hot dog), In Search of Scones (In Search of Stones), Hop on Pop (soda), Green Eggs and Spam (Green Eggs and Ham), Atlas Shrugged (a book of maps wearing a short sweater), or A Confederacy of Brunches (A Confederacy of Dunces) all made of food, or course.

We saw the simplest of simple – A Raisin in the Sun represented by a sun made of stacked sunflower seeds outlined with a bead of bright yellow icing with a single raisin sitting on it — to a lavishly constructed fondant rendition of Atlas Shrugged. While I appreciate the skill that went into the pulled sugar ice forms on A Song of Fire and Ice and the variety of materials used to illustrate Matilda, I preferred the simplicity of ham on top of an omelet for Hamlet, and the cleverness of a full pan of cheesecake next to an empty pan with a mouse asking who moved his cheesecake for Who Moved My Cheese. In the end, Who Moved My Cheesecake got my vote.

I don’t know who won the contest. I got distracted by the chocolate samples in the next room. Besides that, it wasn’t about choosing a winner as much as enjoying the creativity and coming up with ideas I might want to try.

There was a moment when I saw a book on a pedestal without an edible entry. I think the participant hadn’t shown up, but it made me wish I’d entered the contest with the book The Emperor’s New Clothes and nothing at all to represent it.

I guess that’s the point of all of this anyway. I like to laugh. I want more laughter in the kitchen, in my home, and in my social activities. If fun with food can make me laugh, then I’m all for it!

https://www.pinterest.com/staleylibrary/edible-book-festivals/

https://www.library.illinois.edu/ediblebooks/

http://swpaf.org/projects/edible-book-festival/

http://hendersonlibraries.com/edible-book-contest

http://news.lib.berkeley.edu/2017/04/19/edible-book-festival-results/

http://wnybookarts.org/5th-annual-edible-book-festival/

http://www.shorelinearts.net/event-program/edible-book-festival/

http://ncn21.com/state-news/edible-book-festival-arrives-at-the-kearney-library/

https://www.rochesterpubliclibrary.org/my-rpl/edible-book-festival#ad-image-0

June 20, 2016

Summer is For Ice Cream

There’s no doubt about it, summer is for ice cream! It’s barely summer and we’ve already had heat warnings because it feels 108º outside. To me this means it is important to stay cool. That means lots of icy beverages and a steady diet of cold food.
pour over ice
I love ice cold honeydew, watermelon, steamed asparagus, and gazpacho, but there are days when I think I could eat nothing but ice cream all summer. Of course ice cream comes in many forms with vastly different quality, taste, and calorie counts. My favorite flavors always seem to have the most fat and calories so I’ve been looking for ways to enjoy the cold, but cut the fat and calories.

For instance, I like Häagen-Dazs® Chocolate Chocolate Chip Ice Cream. One half cup serving has 300 calories, 19g of fat and 22g of sugar. I also like Talenti® Sea Salt Caramel Gelato. It’s a better calorie choice with 11g of fat and 240 calories per half cup serving, but it contains even more sugar – a whopping 36 grams.

This is a common problem in American convenience foods. Fat is often replaced with additional sugar. While weight loss diets may measure the desirability of a food based on calories, fewer calories doesn’t necessarily mean healthier. The lower fat gelato also contains gum and natural flavors which I prefer to avoid.

Does this mean there are no good choices other than making my own sorbet or freezing a banana? I hate frozen bananas and I don’t want to make sorbet. I just want to grab something cold that’s waiting for me in the freezer when I happen to be hot and hungry.

I’m in luck! I have frozen yogurt bars in my freezer. They’re not perfect. They contain gum and natural flavors, but they’re only 90 calories with 2 grams of fat, 11 grams of sugar and active probiotic cultures.

There are many brands of frozen yogurt bars. My current favorite is Blueberry Outshine® Simply Yogurt Bars. Yasso® offers a similar blueberry bar with no fat content, 80 calories and 13 grams of sugar. There are additional gluten-free flavors available in the Outshine and Yasso brands, and a variety made by Stonyfield, Yoplait® and Häagen-Dazs®.
yogurt bar
And I’m sure there are more depending on where you buy your groceries. You can choose your best match by reading the ingredient and nutrition profile then sampling the product. Hmmm, sounds a lot like dating these days, but I digress.

I suppose there are other options, but since the obsolescence of Banana Fudgecicles, I really prefer ice cream as my summer staple. On the other hand, I hate feeling guilty about consuming all those calories. I’m thrilled that Greek yogurt bars limit my portion size, provide probiotics, reduce calories, fat, and sugar, and still have the soft satisfying feel of ice cream. It’s my 2016 summer bonus!


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.”

http://www.outshinesnacks.com/products/bars/

http://www.yasso.com/

http://www.stonyfield.com/products/frozen-yogurt

https://www.generalmills.com/Brands/yogurt/Yoplait/brand-product-list

https://www.haagendazs.us/Products/frozen-yogurt/

March 21, 2016

Our Easter Bunny is Gluten-Free AND Fun!

Our Easter Bunny is gluten-free and fun! Who doesn’t love an Easter basket? The Easter Bunny’s gifts are so much more exciting than the average under-pillow cash left by the Tooth Fairy. When I was little, the Easter Bunny sometimes brought me a dress or a necklace along with a basket of brightly colored candy treats.
eggs
When my kids were small, we had a regular pre-Easter party with some friends who had no children, but loved to dye Easter eggs. We’d don bunny ears, eat some egg shaped jello shots, decorate the eggs, hide them, and let the kids hunt them. It was a regular tradition.

Sometimes it’s tradition that becomes a stumbling block on a gluten-free journey. We feel so attached to the specifics of the tradition that we forget that in reality all traditions evolve and change. Sometimes we inflate the importance of how things have always been over our current schedule restrictions, financial concerns, or health needs. And sometimes our family members pressure us to toe the traditional line in both subtle and overt ways.

One way to prevent a fear of loss, fear of change, or fear of being blackballed from leading you to make unhealthy decisions for you or your children is to get inspired and excited by the additional possibilities. I say additional because you don’t have to give up every single piece of a tradition. You can start with some comfortable, familiar elements and add new, exciting things to them. Think of it as upgrading from a flip phone to a smart phone or watching your favorite TV show online instead of on cable. You can still make phone calls on a smart phone, but you can also swipe your way through photos, use your phone as a TV remote, ask an electronic assistant for directions, voice text, and stream that TV show you now watch online. Additional features enhance the experience.
basket
A gluten-free Easter can still include dyeing Easter eggs, hiding them and hunting them. It can include bunny ears. It can also include an Easter basket filled with Dove chocolate Easter bunnies, Peeps marshmallow chicks, Hershey’s plain milk chocolate kisses wrapped in bright colored foil, Jelly Belly jelly beans, many M&M candy products. You’ll have to leave out my favorite malted milk chocolate Easter eggs, and read all the labels to make sure the ingredients haven’t changed, but the resulting basket will still feel familiar.
color me
If you want to reduce sugar consumption, there are fun Peeps socks, hats, and shirts available. https://www.peepsandcompany.com/brand/candy/gluten-free Etsy has a huge variety of Easter jewelry. https://www.etsy.com/market/easter_jewelry For puzzle lovers, Puzzle Warehouse offers Easter puzzles from 36 to 1000 pieces. http://www.puzzlewarehouse.com/Easter-and-Spring-Puzzles/?aid=360592,147&cid=0&budget_from=&budget_to=&sort=mostPopular&show=15&stock=1 HearthSong® has a Color Me Bunny that I’d love to color right now, Hatch ‘Em Eggs with baby animals inside, and about 20 other things I want to play with! http://www.hearthsong.com/easter/easter.htm Now I feel inspired to play!
earrings
Everything seems easier when you’re excited about the possibilities rather than worried about the changes. It can be especially true when you choose a healthy path that means eliminating a food you love. So, find something that excites and inspires you and your gluten-free Easter Bunny will be fun too!
chillin
Have an inspiration you want to share? We’d love to hear it!


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.”