As we move closer to winter, one treat many people enjoy is a nice mug of hot chocolate. Unfortunately, proving the gluten-free status of many store brands is difficult to impossible, and even if they’re safe in that manner, most mixes these days are chock full of chemicals instead of actual ingredients. Cocoa may even be one of the last ingredients!
Several years ago, although I was able to confirm the safety of one local store brand, it was super sweet, and I couldn’t pronounce all of the ingredients (never a good sign!).
One box of hot chocolate (usually 6 packets) could also cost more than one box of unadulterated cocoa powder. I knew I could come up with a simple recipe for my beloved chocolate drink, and I did!
Here is my basic recipe, but everything is to taste and based on the size of your mug, so adjust accordingly!
You will need milk (or dairy free alternative), powdered sugar (it’s possible to get vegan, corn-free powdered sugar, but know that it will taste different), water, cocoa powder, and vanilla. Be sure you confirm the sugar, vanilla, and cocoa powder are gluten free.
For one 8oz mug you will need to heat just under 1 cup of milk. (I have tried this with almond milk, and while it worked fine, I didn’t care for the taste, but it does appear that a dairy alternative will work just fine.) Right now, I microwave my milk in a glass measuring cup for speed and ease of pouring after it’s heated. I plan to adjust my recipe for stovetop preparation, and will share my results when I do so.
Start heating your milk. Time will vary depending on how powerful your microwave is. I usually need 1 min 20 seconds. I like to get the milk nice and hot without coming to a full boil.
Now mix 1 TBSP of cocoa and 1 TBSP of powdered sugar in your mug. I use a 1:1 ratio, but if you like your chocolate more/less sweet, adjust accordingly. Stir carefully so the powder doesn’t come up in your face!
Add 1-2 TBSP water (I just eyeball it) to the mix, and stir carefully until you have a slurry in the bottom of the cup.
Add 1 tsp of Vanilla.
As soon as your milk is ready, pour it slowly into the mug with one hand, stirring slowly with the other. I like to pour in just enough milk to cover the chocolate, and mix the base of the drink thoroughly. Then finish pouring/stirring.
The marshmallows on top of this cup of cocoa were a special treat. They are from Kraft. They taste like the marshmallows in Lucky Charms, and as you can guess do not have stellar ingredients. But every now and then we like a little treat, so we got them. Usually I leave them off of my cocoa though.
Years ago I found a site selling marshmallows like these, but with far less ingredients. If I find them again, and they are still safe, I will update this post to include the link.
Let me know if you have any questions.
Hope you enjoy!
Apologies for the lack of updates for the last several weeks. I’ve been under the weather, among other things. I have a lot of posts coming for you, however, from the Central PA GF Expo we went to, to numerous product reviews, and some health info.
Over the weekend I learned that my blog is not displaying properly for mobile phone/device users! I am working on correcting this, but this is made difficult by the fact that I do not have a web-capable phone. (I actually prefer to avoid the phone as much as possible.) My Mom is currently helping me as I make changes to the mobile plugin I am using to make my blog friendly for you, but we may not catch everything. Also, we don’t live in the same town, so I can’t just look at her phone to see what she is seeing.
If you follow my blog via phone interface, and you see something that looks funny, weird, doesn’t work right, et cetera, please leave a comment on this post and let me know! If it is at all possible for you to send me a screenshot so that I can see exactly what you’re talking about, even better!
I really appreciate your feedback as I work to make this site accessible for as many people as possible!
Here is a screenshot of how my blog looks to me on my computer. The header is going to be different for mobile users, but it gives you an idea of what PC-users are seeing.
Click image to view at full size.
Around December 1, I am planning to temporarily take my blog off-line. I have a growing list of things that I need to fix, and I want to redesign it a bit to make it easier to find information, past reviews, etc., and to hopefully set-up some new sections for items I’ve been meaning to do reviews (and info) on, such as shampoo, body wash, cosmetics, pet food, and more.
I’ve got some yummy pretzels from Gratify, a gluten free expo (State College, PA) and another Central PA bakery to review and attend/review before I take my blog into maintenance mode though, hence the December date.
I’ve installed a plugin, which in theory, will display a very nice cover page for my blog while I work behind the scenes. I intend to leave contact information for you on that page since I don’t know how long it will take me to do what needs to be done. (And keeping my fingers crossed of course that I don’t break something and have to re-install the blog!)
I’d really love to hear from my readers, Twitter followers, FB fans, and so forth, and find out what sort of stuff you’d like to see on Gluten Free & Tasty! In addition to the non-food product reviews, I’ll be adding a ‘more’ section which will be on a sub site of this blog. There’s been many things I’ve wanted to share but which didn’t really fit in with why I started this blog.
Please let me hear from you! It really means a lot and makes a difference!
Presented by State College Celiac Support Group & Central PA Newspapers.
Central PA’s only Gluten Free Expo, featuring keynote speaker Alice Bast, founder of the National Foundation of Celiac Awareness.
When: Sunday, November 10, 2013, 12 – 5:30pm
Where: Ramada Conference Center, 1450 S Atherton St., State College, PA
Price: Advance tickets are $5.00, at the door $8.00. Youth 16 & under free
- Tickets will be mailed to your address
- $1.00 processing fee for online orders
- Tickets ordered online after 11/5 will be held at the door under your name
SCHEDULE OF EVENTS
Noon: Doors Open
First 500 attendees will receive a tote bag courtesy of sponsors Wegmans and Betsy’s Bakery!
1 p.m.: Alice Bast, Founder and President, National Foundation for Celiac Awareness: Shifting Focus: Being Proactive in Reclaiming Your Life
2 p.m.: Director of Nutritional Services Dr. Schar USA, Anne Roland Lee
3 p.m.: Celiac 101 Session
4:15 p.m.: Living Gluten Free with Wegmans, Marda Heuman, Nutritionist
This event will have samples, the chance to win prizes, and to learn (more) about living gluten free! There are over 30 vendors, included, but not limited to: Wegmans, Udi’s, Glutino, Kinnikinnick, Weis Markets, Namaste, Against the Grain, Tonya’s GF, Kitchen, and Betsy’s Bakery!
This event looks and sounds like it will be a lot of fun. Teresa and I are definitely looking forward to it!
Several months ago I was contacted by this tour asking if I wanted to be an official blogger for them. I was excited, as I had just been removed as a blogger for the GFAFExpo after questioning their anti-autistic-people sponsors. But it seems I traded one bad tour for another.
I made several posts for them, advertising their events. Shortly after the first one, I started to receive messages that this tour was prone to cancelling events at the last minute. I did some searching, and didn’t find anything at the time, so I decided to give them the benefit of the doubt. Sometimes things just happen.
But getting information (from the tour people) was a bit like pulling teeth, and then one of the stops I’d advertised cancelled last minute (Cincinnati, OH). On their FB page they said it was due to lack of interest. . . . You are an awareness tour, are you not? Perhaps there is low interest because that area needs awareness. At least one commenter told them that was the exact reason they shouldn’t have cancelled. Did this group lose sight of that along the way?
So I updated my post about the tour saying it was cancelled at the last minute, no reason or notification was provided to me. I’d posted the info on Sept 29th and updated the post about the cancellation as soon as I heard about it, which was the day of the event (October 5). I was one of the people that tried to get clarification about them cancelling.
I thought it was wrong on their part not to send out an email to their bloggers, because we’re trying to put helpful, accurate information out there. If you don’t tell us what’s going on, we end up misleading people; the last thing we want to do!
I never heard from anyone involved with the tour again. In the meantime I heard more about last minute cancellations from past tours, for various reasons, including vendors being told the tour didn’t get the right permits. Shouldn’t a vendor tour know about that?
I was supposed to be blogging for the Mount Laurel, NJ, stop on November 9th, which, by my understanding, was the replacement for the abruptly cancelled (“relocated”) Philly tour from earlier this year. As it is getting closer to our departure day, I thought I’d better ask them if they were mailing out the blogger tickets or would the people manning the door know what blog names to admit free?
I sent an email asking about this, allowing for about two weeks for them to drop tickets in the mail and for the tickets to arrive, as we were planning to leave a few days ahead of time. Didn’t get a response. (Not through email. Not through Twitter. Not through Facebook.)
Didn’t get any information about advertising for the NJ stop either, which seemed suspicious.
So on the 25th, I called the hotel it’s supposed to be held at. Sales team told me the tour had been cancelled a week ago.
A WEEK AGO.
The tour is still advertised on their website. There’s no hint that it has been cancelled (or ‘relocated’ again). Were they planning to spring this on vendors and attendees at the last minute too, even though they’ve known for awhile? That’s bad business, folks.
So I e-mailed the tour again. Two different people this time. Asked if it was true.
If someone contacted you about an event you were putting on, hearing that it had been cancelled and whether it was true or not, wouldn’t you make an effort to get right back to them and confirm or deny? Immediately?
Maybe their other tours weren’t cancelled last minute either. Just announced last minute.
At 11:22 this morning (EST), I received a reply to the message I sent the tour on FB, asking about tickets. This is what followed:
Celiac Awareness Tour Hi Amanda. I just saw your message. Did you already get your answer?
Amanda Yeah, I think so. I called the hotel that the event in NJ is supposed to be at and their sales department told me you all cancelled about a week ago.
Amanda What do you mean what area? Virginia. Blogger. What? As far as I know there’s only one New Jersey.
Celiac Awareness Tour We work with bloggers in different cities and since I am not familiar with your blog or location I just wanted to find out what stop you were near so I can help you.
Amanda I’m not near any stop. I registered as an official tour blogger through Megan Taylor to come up to the Philly one which then became the New Jersey (in Mount Laurel) tour stop. Either way, the hotel says you all cancelled the stop. No one seems to want to confirm or deny that. I had submitted my question about tickets on here, Twitter, and in email. I called the hotel after not getting a response at any point.
And you guys invited me to be a blogger in the first place.
The FB people seemed to know who I was prior to today, so have they changed staff (which I hear has happened before)? What difference does it matter where I live if that’s the tour I registered to attend?
And why, still, are they refusing to confirm or deny that the event stop in Mount Laurel, NJ, was cancelled a week (more, now) ago?
It’s about an hour since I sent my last message to them. Still waiting on a response. Will update as I can.
The Mount Laurel, NJ stop is NO LONGER listed on the Celiac Awareness Tour website. (10/30/2013)
Later on 10/31, I took a screenshot from their FB page:
Sent it to them in email, asked them to tell me again why they don’t know who I am.
Celiac Awareness Tour
I just sent you a message via your Facebook page.
No, I don’t believe that you did. Neither of my FB pages have any new messages, and my personal timeline is private so you couldn’t post there. What’s wrong with sending a reply here?
I don’t know where you sent your message, but it wasn’t to me.
What I didn’t realize at the time, was that the message I’d received from a Lou Reyes that morning was from the tour. He didn’t bother to tell me who he was, and seeing that the only person I’d dealt with was Megan Taylor, how was I to know?
11/1 Lou Reyes I read your post on the celiac awareness tour Facebook page and would like to call you to discuss your questions. May I have your phone number?
11/1, 12:26pm Amanda
I’m sorry, but telephone is very hard for me. Is there any way we can do it over IM (I have Yahoo IM but also Pidgin that’s supposed to let me chat with people on many different programs) or e-mail? Would be happy to talk with you though!
Although which message are you referring to? The last thing I remember posting *on* the Celiac Awareness Tour page was asking why they cancelled Cincinnati. Or are you referring to what I wrote on my blog?
Seen on 4:05pm
He has yet to reply. Because of this blog post, I’d assumed he was a vendor or attendee until I looked into it further. Why couldn’t he tell me who he was to start off with? Now, knowing who he is, I’m not sure “happy” is the right word, but I would be very interested to speak with him!
Were you a vendor or attendee at a canceled event?
I’d love to hear from you.
(You can stay anonymous in my posts.)
To my followers on Networked Blogs:
This will be my last post using the Networked Blogs application.
Although this was initially a wonderful app for auto-posting to Facebook, I am going to have to stop using it. I am having numerous problems with it, and it looks like support won’t help me unless I sign-up for a pro (pay) account. But I don’t want to pay for something that isn’t working!
Among various issues, most annoyingly (to me, at least) is that:
(1) if I don’t make enough posts with close dates, I have to reconfigure all my settings. It seems to vary how many days it takes each time to undo itself.
(2) NB is continuously posting the wrong image with my posts, even though I have specified the Featured Image before I post. Since it was an image I no longer needed, I deleted it out of my media library. Over a month later, it is still pulling that deleted image and ignoring the featured image. The main point of using a featured image is to help draw your attention to the product or company I am reviewing. If NB is going to make that choice for me, it’s become a problem not a help.
I am trying out a few new plugins to help push my posts out to Facebook. The first was great but just did pages, so I’ve added a second to add them to my timeline as well as my gluten free group. If anyone knows a plugin to integrate Google+ Pages, that information would be most appreciated as I haven’t been able to find anything yet.
I hope that you will continue to follow me off of Networked Blogs.
Aside from the actual site, http://glutenfreeandtastyblog.com, you can find me here:
(Keep in mind that I’m still learning to use the last 4 for this sort of thing. I’ve used Del.ici.ous for years in the past, but just for personal use, not blogging. If anyone would like to help me learn how to make the most of those 4 sites, I’m all ears!)
I’ve also configured my blog to allow you to login to comment using a variety of social media network sites, and I would love to read feedback, comments, questions, ideas, and so forth, on my blog! Receiving those right on my own site really makes my day and really lets me know who (and how many people) I’m really reaching!
Please let me know if you have any questions.
Stay tuned for some more gluten-free goodness coming soon!
Pumpkin Spice, Lemon w/Buttercream, and Vegan Chocolate cupcakes! (click to view at full size)
On October 9, T and I headed up to PA for a brief vacation in the Pocono Mountains. On the way, we made a quick detour to check out Betsy’s Bakery, in Camp Hill, PA. This bakery is just minutes from the split on I-81, that diverts to Harrisburg one way, Camp Hill the other. Since we were coming from Abingdon, VA, we were a little worried that we wouldn’t make it before they closed for the evening, but luck was on our side! Shortly after arriving, I was asked, “are you the food blogger that was coming?” and Betsy told me she’d been asking people that day if they were the blogger that was coming . I have to tell you that this made my day! It’s the little things, you know?
Betsy immediately offered us two slices of bread to sample — their white bread, and their high fiber Quinoa bread. Both were amazing. Their breads are soft and springy, with the air holes you expect to see in sandwich bread, and each piece was also rich with flavor. We ended up buying a loaf of the white bread, but I would definitely buy a loaf of the Quinoa bread in the future for a hearty toast! I did love the white bread though, and I’d get it again. Loved it at breakfast with an over easy egg!
White bread, toasted w/soy free Earth Balance (click to view at full size)
White Bread, not toasted (click to view at full size)
The top image (in this post) shows the amazing cupcakes we purchased. Chocolate is my favorite treat, so I always buy at least one chocolate item when given the chance. Since I wasn’t going to be the only tasting these, I looked for flavors I thought would appeal to others too, and ended up with Pumpkin Spice and Lemon w/Buttercream. I shared them with T and our good friend Vanessa.
Vegan Chocolate Cupcake
You’ll never know it’s vegan.
Vanessa: The texture is good. Dense, rich, not too sweet by itself (without the frosting). Not too sweet with the frosting either, like many cupcakes which give you a sugar headache. I could even do more chocolate, like sprinkles or morsels. Overall, great for someone who loves chocolate but not a lot of sweetness. I’d buy it.
T: Good chocolate flavor. Sprinkles added a nice touch. Agrees with Vanessa that it is not overly sweet.
Me: Frosting is very creamy and rich, but not overpowering. I LOVED the heart sprinkles; great touch! Mmmmmmmmmmmmmm! Smooth, rich, decadent, but not too sweet. I actually bought two of the chocolate, and ate the second one 4 days after we bought it, and it still tasted and felt fresh (kept in the box they were packaged in, and set out on the kitchen table, not in the refrigerator). Neither the icing nor the cake were dried out, nor hardened after all that time, which is quite an accomplishment for any cupcake, gluten free or not!
Vanessa: Oh! Smells very good. Lots of cinnamon and pumpkin. Icing tastes like cream cheese icing + cinnamon. Cake itself is good. Not too dry. Icing and cake together is REALLY good. Definitely not as sweet as a regular cupcake. Really like this one. Cream cheese icing does a lot. This one is my favorite (but then, I do LOVE pumpkin)!
T: Frosting is sweet but it is a great contrast to the cupcake. They work well together. Definitely my favorite of the two (not a lemon fan, so she didn’t try the third).
Me: I agreed with Vanessa’s initial statement, and with T about the frosting and cupcake working well together. I also love pumpkin, but there was an aftertaste in this flavor for me that I didn’t care for (I was the only one who noticed), but it may simply be the spice blend used. Some pumpkin pie/pumpkin spice flavors I love, others not so much, but not sure what (spice) does it. Overall, though, great holiday flavor.
Vanessa: Sprinkles are awesome; aesthetically pleasing. Definitely can smell the lemon. Icing first: Interesting (good). Not sweet at all, but a real, pure lemon flavor. If you’re into lemon, this is definitely it. Together: Yes, that’s good. Not an overbearing lemon flavor; very subtle when altogether. It’s lovely. Second favorite, but sort of tied with chocolate. Lemon is least sweet of three flavors. Just a hint of it. I don’t feel like I’m going to die of a sugar headache like you often find with cupcakes. For the lemon lover!
Me: I concur with Vanessa’s assessment of this cupcake. I love lemon (as long as it isn’t sour lemon), and if I hadn’t gotten chocolate, this would probably be my favorite. It reminded me of a delicate and creamy lemon meringue pie!
We also purchased coffee cake, but I didn’t get a chance to photograph it. But we agree that it smelled and tasted marvelous! T adds that it definitely had that “distinct coffee cake taste and I’d definitely get it again.” And that’s coming from someone who isn’t really even a fan of sweets!
I’ve been to several gluten free bakeries, and most of them are small. One in NYC was only a bit wider than two doors side-by-side; they had bar stools and a counter, but boy was it crowded!
We were pleasantly surprised to discover that Betsy’s Bakery is so much more. Not only can you fill up on all the baked goods and breads you’ve been craving, but you can have a sit-down meal too in a nicely spaced dining room! Betsy’s offers Boar’s Head products — including (I just learned this yesterday) hummus, which I didn’t even know Boar’s Head made!
This makes Betsy’s an even better place in our eyes, because it is on route to the place we vacation in the Poconos, as well as T’s Mom’s up in NY. Now, unless we’re travelling on Monday (when their website says they’re closed), we have a place we can stop for an actual meal on the road, instead of relying on snacks or cold travel foods (yes, it is possible to have way too many PBJs!). We have a trip coming up next month and I know where we’re stopping for a late lunch/early dinner!
I knew going to Betsy’s that the bakery was 100% gluten free, but she can also cater to a variety of allergies. There are vegan options in addition to the cupcake we tried, dairy free, egg free, sugar free, and soy free! Betsy told us that she’s very careful about how everything is prepared, and color codes kitchenware to ensure there is no cross contamination. They have products which are nut free, but they do use nuts, so given how serious a nut allergy can be, each customer would need to make the decision for themselves.
Their website also notes that, “Not every item on our menu is available every day – if you know that you would like something specific call 717-730-9900 to place a special order.”
If you’re in the Camp Hill area, you may be able to find Betsy’s products in some grocery stores, cafes, and even some colleges (which I think is especially awesome). Go here for the list.
And, not only is this a 100% gluten free bakery with sit-down table and meal options, it is owned by two of the nicest people you’ll ever meet. I can’t wait to go back next month!
I’ve started to get creative in the kitchen again, and it’s a great feeling! I’ve been experimenting with foods, flavors, you name it, since I was in 7th grade. Maybe earlier, but I definitely remember making my own chocolate peanut butter cups, all on my own, that year.
When I started getting really sick, and then really itchy, I strayed from the kitchen. I was too tired, or my hands hurt and/or itched too badly, and I wasn’t able to work the way I used to, and it was depressing. So I got out of the habit of cooking and baking, and I didn’t realize until recently how much I’d missed it.
Lately, I’ve been experimenting with breads. When I worked at the Blue Ridge Institute & Farm Museum in Ferrum, Virginia, we made bread by hand. Huge bowls of it, with wheat flour, of course. But there was no bread machine involved. For one, we were in period costume for the 1800′s, so a bread machine would have really stood out! One thing I really loved to make then, and since, was corn bread.
A couple of months ago, I decided to surprise Teresa with one of my pans of gourmet corn bread, but I couldn’t find the cornmeal anywhere! Undeterred, I made my bread, but with teff flour, and a little bit of molasses, and dusted in golden flaxseed meal. I’ve since made a few variations of this bread. I’ve also made baking powder/teff/golden flaxseed biscuits, and figured out how to make my baking powder biscuits plain and gluten free. It wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be.
I’ve been reading this story where cooking is a big part, and there’s a lot of experimenting going on with the characters doing the cooking. And herb breads and nut breads get mentioned a lot. I thought herb bread would go well with tonight’s dinner (roasted/baked okra, edamame, and Brussels sprouts.
So I went into the kitchen, and pulled out an array of flours. Tasted them, mixed some together, figured out what blended well and what didn’t, and got to work. I ended up with a fragrant, delicious gluten and egg free pan herb bread. A little denser than usual. I don’t know if it’s because I left the egg out or not (I do usually use them, but we only had 1 and I need it for breakfast tomorrow).
Once I have the photos processed, I will share them, along with my recipe for the bread, and for the veggies. Everything was delicious!
And I was thrilled to know that I still had my, “this should taste good together,” skill, and that I pulled off a great meal.
THIS EVENT WAS CANCELLED AT THE LAST MINUTE. NO REASON OR NOTIFICATION PROVIDED TO ME.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Debbie Goulding, Kroger Executive Chef.
Gluten-Free Awareness Tour Heads to the Queen City
Kroger Executive Chef Debbie Goulding to present at Cincinnati stop
CINCINNATI, OH – Debbie Goulding, Executive Chef with Kroger Company, will be presenting at the Gluten-Free Awareness Tour stop in Cincinnati on Saturday, October 5th at 11:00 am.
Debbie has earned a BA in Therapeutic Dietetics from The University of Iowa, an AAS degree at the Culinary Institute of America, a BS degree in Horticulture from the University of New Hampshire, and a Master Gardener Certification in Herbs and Specialty Produce. Debbie is also the President of The American Culinary Federation of Greater Cincinnati and serves on the board of directors.
Chef Goulding will give a cooking demonstration at the Gluten-Free Awareness Tour stop in Cincinnati on October 5th at Cintas Center/Schiff Conference & Banquet Center at Xavier University. Goulding’s presentation will be geared specifically to gluten-free cooking.
The event will be held from 9 am-2 pm. Adult admission is $10 and children under 12 are admitted free.
Megan Taylor, Marketing Coordinator
Dave Sarkies, Marketing Coordinator
Gluten-Free Awareness Tour