Friday, June 26, 2009

Gluten Free Ice Cream Sandwiches

One thing Daniel really missed since going gluten free was ice cream sandwiches. There are plenty of gluten free foods available, but no one has put these on the market yet. So here we are, summer time again, and I thought I'd research making these guys from scratch. I found a recipe on Gluten Free Gobsmacked that looked so easy, and I gave it a try today. I also took her advice and bought some ice cream sandwich makers from I got standard rectangular ones, and fun shaped ones as well.

The recipe is simple:

Cookie ingredients:
7 tablespoons butter, melted
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powdered (or dark chocolate cocoa powder)
2/3 cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 eggs
3/4 cup gluten free flour mix (rice or bean based)
OR – in place of the GF flour mix use:
1/2 cup rice flour + 1/4 cup tapioca starch

I used the "Nearly Normal" brand of flour mix because that's what I had on hand, and it turned out fine. Nearly Normal has xanthan gum in it. I hoped that would be okay, because the recipe doesn't call for it, but it was no problem.


  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. Line a large cookie sheet or jelly roll pan with parchment paper. Butter the parchment or spritz with oil.
  3. Whisk melted butter and cocoa powder together until smooth.
  4. Add sugar and beat until smooth.
  5. Add vanilla and eggs. Beat again until smooth.
  6. Add gf flour (or flour/starch) and beat together for 2 minutes. Mixture will be like thick brownie dough but should not have any lumps.
  7. Using a spatula dipped in water, spread the cookie batter into a large rectangle (about 12″ by 10″ or larger). If the dough sticks to the spatula, dip the spatula into cool water and continue spreading. Try *not* to get the dough “wet” or have standing water on top. The original recipe says to spread it to a 1/2 inch thickness. Mine wasn't that thick, but it was thicker than normal ice cream sandwich cookies. I might try to do it a bit thinner next time on a larger cookie sheet.
  8. Bake the cookie at 350F for 15 – 18 minutes or until firm/set but not crusty on top. (It will harden as it cools.)
Now you have to either cut the cookie into smaller cookies, or follow the directions on the ice cream sandwich maker. You just stamp the cookies out with the ice cream sandwich maker, and wait until they are cool. Then put one cookie in the bottom of the form, fill with your favorite gluten free ice cream, put another cookie on top, and press.

I bought ice cream that was already in a rectangular shape to help with this process, but really, any kind will do if it is softened a little. Then the hard part is waiting for it to freeze up again nicely before eating! We didn't do that tonight. We just dove right in, so the ice cream was squishy. The kids had vanilla ice cream in theirs. I took the scraps that were left over and made a small ice cream sandwich with mint chocolate chip. YUM!

Based on the recipe plus 1/2 cup ice cream, The rectangular ice cream sandwich had 66 carbs.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Blueberry time!

Blueberries were on sale this week, and in our house that is cause for joy! We all love blueberries -- straight off the bush, tossed into salads, stirred into yogurt, or baked into many wonderful treats. I decided to make a blueberry pie for Father's Day.

I've made gluten free pies before, but haven't really had much success with the crusts. They were okay, but not great. I found the dough very difficult to work with, and the crusts have come out heavy and hard. They broke too easily. But, what the heck, try try again.

I looked at a few recipes and decided to make a couple of changes. This time, the crust was fantastic. Here's what I did:

I whisked together in a bowl:
2/3 cup sorghum flour
2/3 cup potato starch
2/3 cup tapioca starch
3 Tablespoons corn starch
1 tsp. xanthan gum
4 tsp sugar
1 tsp. baking powder

Then I used a pastry cutter to cut in 1/2 cup butter and 1/3 cup shortening until the mixture was crumbly.

Then I whisked together 2 eggs and 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar. I dumped this into the flour mixture, and stirred it with my hands until it held together. It was a little bit sticky, so I added about a tablespoon of sweet rice flour, which I had on hand because I was going to use that when I rolled out the dough. I divided the dough into 2 pieces, wrapped them in plastic wrap, and refrigerated them for a couple of hours.

For the pie filling, I mixed 3 pints of blueberries, 2 tablespoons lemon juice, 1/4 cup corn starch, 1/2 cup sugar, 1/4 tsp. cinnamon, and stirred it all around.

To roll out the pie crust, I sprinkled a piece of parchment paper with some sweet rice flour, put the dough on the parchment paper, sprinkled some more rice flour, and covered it with another piece of parchment paper. I rolled the dough between the parchment papers until it was a little larger than the pie plate. Then I peeled off the top layer and flipped the dough onto the pie plate. It rolled out and held together beautifully, which had never happened before when I made a GF pie crust. So I had hope!

I filled the crust with the blueberry filling, and dotted it with about 2 T of butter. Then I rolled out the second crust in the same way as the first. But instead of rolling it flat and putting the whole thing on top, I cut stars out with a cookie cutter. I made an egg wash with a beaten egg and a Tbsp. of milk, and brushed the edge of the pie crust with it. The I started layering stars on top, brushing with the egg wash so they would stick together.

It went into the oven at 4oo degrees for 20 minutes, then I lowered the temperature to 350 and cooked it for another 30 minutes.

I had a little bit of extra dough, so my daughter and I made a couple of extra stars and I baked them in the toaster oven with a little cinnamon and sugar on top until they were toasty. They were a yummy treat!

The pie turned out great. My husband said that there was no way anyone could tell that this was a gluten free crust. It was tender and flaky, just right. The blueberries cooked up beautifully, and the pie wasn't runny at all. We served it with some vanilla ice cream on the side. It was a wonderful father's day treat!

I tried to work out the carbs per piece of pie, and thought that an eighth of the pie was about 70 carbs. It was hard to figure because I had to add flour to roll the dough, and I wasn't sure how much I had shaken on. But when Daniel tested his blood sugar just now, he was at 215, but there was no correction, so I think he's not going to go wacky high. Ice cream can also do funky things to his blood sugar, but he only had 1/2 cup.

Happy Father's Day to all the wonderful dads out there. And I hope you get to enjoy blueberry season, too!

(NOTE: I made the pie again on 6/27, and this time took pictures of the dough making process. It really helps to have someone there to take pictures with you or your camera gets all smeary!!!)

I'm also posting this recipe on!! Great site, and a wonderful place for sharing recipes.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Non-sleep over

Daniel had a couple of friends over last night for an end of school, watch movies, play video games, eat pizza kind of sleepover. Luckily we have a basement *and* an upstairs so I can't hear them (unless they are REALLY loud, which has happened in the past) when they are talking trash at the video games and sneaking upstairs for cookies. One of Daniels' friends, during a past sleepover, ate an entire batch of chocolate chip cookies in the middle of the night... that didn't happen last night.

But at 3 a.m. or so my husband got out of bed and I heard him negotiating with the boys. Apparently the phone rang -- oops, I missed that -- so they were sternly told that enough was enough and GO TO SLEEP.

Phones ringing in the middle of the night always set me off thinking about emergencies. So as Matt settled quickly into dreamland (HOW DOES HE DO THAT???) after grumbling, "no more @*%*$ sleepovers!! -- I stayed awake and day?dreamed scenarios. Then I thought about the movie I saw with Dominic & Nora (Night at the Museum), the salad I had for dinner that I would like to make at home (insalata d'oro, which was a huge pile of diced golden yellow tomatoes with olive oil, basil, goat cheese, and pine nuts and two slices of a delicious, fresh Italian bread) and the list of things to do today, lists for the upcoming vacation..

Basically, I thought my way to 6:30, tossed and turned for 45 minutes, then gave up.

Good morning.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Morning Quiet

Throughout the school year mornings are highly choreographed. I wake up at 5:20 and get ready for the day, then wake each child in time to get ready & get on the bus. 3 kids, 3 different schools, 3 different schedules. I have a rigid routine, and feel very much like a drill sergeant as I move the sleepyheads through the motions of breakfast and backpacks.

Ahhhh, summer.

I am still up before the kids - I have an internal alarm clock that won't quit. But it let me get past my initial 5 a.m. clock check the last few mornings to a glorious 6:30 or 7. Now I have my steaming coffee, a nice warm computer, and lists of things to take care of during the day.

I am almost over yesterday's frustration at the Motor Vehicle Administration. After waiting for an hour for our number to be called, we found that Daniel could not get his learner's permit right away because of his diabetes. We had to call the Driver Wellness and Safety Division (DWSD) and give them our info, and wait for them to send us some forms. These forms need to be filled out by us and Daniel's doctor, then sent back to the DWSD. Then we wait for their approval before he can get his permit.

Of course, Daniel is already in driver's ed. But now he can't go on the road with them to complete the course. My fault, I know, because I should have found all this out before I signed him up for the course. Although, I knew this was going to happen. But in my research, and from what people have said, I understood that we would have to go through this rigmarole when getting the actual license, not the learner's permit.

Today when I drop Daniel off at Driver's ed, I'm going to see if he can defer the 2nd week of the class until we get all our paperwork completed. What a pain.

Yuck, I'm getting stressed just writing about it. Moving on!

I've been making lists for our upcoming travels. The trip to our in-laws is a snap; we've got a routine for traveling with diabetes & gluten free on car trips. But later this summer we'll do our first air travel with these conditions. From everything I've read, it's very difficult to find GF foods in airports (anyone interested in starting a new business? There's definitely a need!). I will pack power bars, peanut butter, crackers, and other easy to carry snacks. Instead of staying at a hotel, we're staying in a rental house so I can cook GF meals. We'll stop at a whole foods on the way to the rental to stock up. Cooking at home away from home is a great way to save money while traveling. Although I'm sure we will find some places that are safe to eat, I'd rather not blow the budget on food.

Time to eat some breakfast and start the day!

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Gaming Risks

Daniel is off with friends to the Pokemon Video Game Regional Championships today. Up at the crack of dawn to drive a couple of hours to register for the gaming, and hope to be selected at random to play. Daniel's friend E. asked him to go, E's mom was driving, so it was set. He left a few minutes ago. The sun is now up, and the early dog walkers are making their way down the street. I have my first cup of coffee after a cough-y night of little sleep, and am listening to the birds twittering their morning greetings.

I'm always a little nervous about letting Daniel go on overnights, or on longer trips, because we've had trips to the emergency room because of diabetes/celiac complications when he's been far from home or at a sleepover. So I get jumpy. But I read a wonderful article on Health Central by Dr. Fran Cogen about preparing your diabetic teen for college. She talks about using the time while your teen is home to GO on those sleepovers, GO on those little trips. Take the smaller risks while still relatively close to home, while mom and dad are still nearby. These small, independent steps will help your child build confidence and experience to handle difficult health situations when he is on his own. With Dr. Cogen's article in mind, I gave Daniel my blessing to go.

I know when the starting time of the competition is, but have no idea when these boys will be headed home. We packed a rather large lunch box, because traveling gluten-free is always chancy at best, especially when the most likely food stops will be fast food establishments. Daniel made a large sub sandwich with an Against the Grain baguette. These are a staple in our house, for both sandwiches and "french bread pizzas." Daniel loves these guys sliced in half lengthwise, slathered in tomato sauce, and topped with mozzarella and pepperoni slices! But for this trip he made an Italian sub. We sliced the sub into 3 pieces, and sliced tomatoes and put them in a container so that he could layer them into his sandwich later (to avoid super soggy sub syndrome). He also packed Glutino vegetable crackers, which are one of his new favorite snack foods. I made chocolate chip cookies the other night from the recipe on the Pamela's Flour Mix bag, and there were a few left to put into the lunch bag. There was just enough room for a couple of cans of diet coke, some Sunbutter crunch bars, and a giant banana. That should hold my hungry teenager through mid afternoon!

It's a pain to have to carry all your food around all the time, especially when you are a kid. Celiac kids can't just stop for pizza or a burger with their friends. Some restaurant people GET IT when we explain about celiac, and requiring separate prep areas, etc. etc. Some restaurant people are clueless. In their cluelessness they smile and say they can try to accommodate us, but we have learned not to trust these places. Daniel has been accidentally glutened before, and he goes through too much misery to make these risks worth it.

I was happy to see an endeavor by the Celiac Chicks to create a gluten-free map of the world. Here celiac people everywhere can sign in and add their favorite gluten-free restaurant/store locations to the map, and can benefit from the knowledge of others. The map is here. I've added Lilit Cafe in Bethesda, and will add more places like Roots Market, and My Organic Market, where I frequently shop for gluten free foods. I love the idea of the map. I can access it from my iTouch, it's free, and it is growing all the time. Please add to it if you know of some great gluten-free places.

It's still early; no one else in the house is awake, so I'm going to go add to the map. The sun is shining and it looks like it is going to be a beautiful day!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

RRRRIIIIppppppp... OUCH!

Pump tubing and kitchen cabinet handles. Need I say more?

Daniel often walks around with his pump tubing dangling out of his pockets. Parents yell, "TUBING!" Daniel rolls eyes. Halfheartedly stuffs the tubing back in his pocket. A couple of times at school kids have tried yanking it, thinking the tubing is iPod headphones. More often, however, the kitchen cabinet handles grab it and pull HARD.

Daniel thinks we should replace the cabinet handles, or just get rid of them. I told him I was going to get him one of those pump bands that go around the belly so he can zip the tubing into that (again, I get the teenage eye-roll). Actually, what I'm going to do is order shorter tubing so that when he has the pump attached to his stomach or hips, he won't have so much dangling out.

I wish there was a way to adjust it! Like if the pumps had a cleat on the side to wrap the extra cord around...

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Sounds of Silence

I'm home for the 2nd day with a sick child. Dominic has had a fever and upset stomach, and hasn't eaten in 2 days, except for 1 1/4 banana. Oh, and a few sips of ginger ale and glasses of water. He's exhausted. It crossed my mind that I should test his blood sugar, but he's not going to the bathroom all the time or thirsty ALL the time. But he is thirsty. But tummy bugs can dehydrate you. And he did just catch this bug from me, and I was exhausted & thirsty, too. I will try to quiet the worry monkey part of my brain. Listen to the silence of this house as he is napping, enjoy the moments of calm that have been few and far between.

I'm amazed that I've made it through the first year of teaching. It was both more difficult and more delightful than I expected. I am so happy to have the support of a wonderful team of educators & mentors. I also think that with this first year behind me, I'll have a supply of strategies in my pocket that I can turn to in coming years, when I'm looking for help. That supply will continue to grow as my experience grows.

Daniel has an endo visit this week, and I'm hoping his A1c will be better than the last time. His numbers have been pretty good, actually, with the exception of a spike last week when he caught this bug that's going through our family. I also want to talk to the endo about pump breaks, because we will be going to the beach a few times and we have to figure out how to deal with that. I don't think going to the pool will be a problem. Daniel can unhook from the pump for a while, swim, and check back every so often. I've read up on that enough that I think we can work that out. But it doesn't seem to be a good idea to be connected to the pump if we know we're going to spend a whole day at the beach, where he tends to be in the water for long periods of time... or digging around in the sand.

We also have to make sure we're up to speed about changing time zones, as we'll be travelling this summer. Lots to plan for, but all very exciting and fun.

The warm summer-like day is calling, but I can't leave the house. While Dominic was awake, I watered the garden, and took our potato experiments out of their small pots and put them into the ground. I don't know if we'll actually get potatoes, or if the squirrels/deer/bunnies will get to them first, but it's fun to try. The potatoes, one tomato plant, a couple of basil, parsley, thyme, chocolate mint, and rosemary - that's the extent of my summer garden. As it is, I could spend all my time weeding, and I don't want to do that.

Life's too short to weed.