Gluten-Free, Grain-Free Sourdough Blueberry Muffins

It may be hard for an egg to turn into a bird: it would be a jolly sight harder for it to learn to fly while remaining an egg. We are like eggs at present. And you cannot go on indefinitely being just an ordinary, decent egg. We must be hatched or go bad. (C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity)

IMG_3981At midnight last night, June 29, 2016, gave way to June 30th, 2016. In a continuing cycle set forth from time’s beginning, one day gave way to the next. Today, like the the day before, and the day before that, and so on, is a blessing. Each day teems with life and where life exists, hope exists, and in this hope resides blessing. Always. Remembering the blessing every morning is an important way to begin the day, even during times of negative stress (as opposed to the positive stress caused by such things as getting married, having a baby, getting a promotion). I once heard a priest refer to the burden of hope. Hope contains the idea that one’s life can be better, and the improvement may require action on one’s part. Introducing a recipe for gluten-free sourdough blueberry muffins by referencing such transcendent notions as blessings and hope may seem strange; however, these things are tangentially related. Continue reading

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Home-Made Gluten-Free, Grain-Free Bars

August in Texas is hot. Just plain hot. At times when I run and see the

image of Texas from wikepedia.com

image of Texas from wikepedia.com

brown, dead or dying grass, parched plants, and cracked earth, I think of the words the narrator in Browning’s “Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Comes” imagines spoken by Nature:

No! penury, inertness and grimace,
In the strange sort, were the land’s portion. “See
Or shut your eyes,” said Nature peevishly,
“It nothing skills: I cannot help my case:
’T is the Last Judgment’s fire must cure this place,
Calcine its clods and set my prisoners free.”

Without trying to minimize the tone of despair expressed by the unnamed narrator in Browning’s poem, I do feel a sort of despair at the over-whelming energy, life-sapping heat of August. To get ourselves through the often steamy, always sweltering days of August, Phillip and I plan an October race somewhere in a cooler region outside of Texas. We plan this yearly October trip for two reasons: October is our anniversary month, so our fall race in a less taxing climate doubles as our anniversary celebration, and planning for the autumn trip and race throughout the summer adds purpose to the miserable runs we must endure throughout the scorching summer months. This year, on October 18th, Phillip and I will be in Bar Harbor, ME, running the Mount Desert Island Marathon. Whoo-hoo! The date is quickly approaching! Relief from the heat is in sight! We will feel very sad for our friends and family in Texas, who will still be suffering temperatures in the 90s as we are enjoying a much cooler climate in beautifulMaine!

Image from mountdesertislandmarathon.com

Image from mountdesertislandmarathon.com

In the meantime, Phillip and I are ramping up our miles and the distance of our runs. Continue reading

Say It Ain’t So, Joe!!!! No More Cashew Meal @ Trader Joe’s????

Today I went on my usual replenishing-the-cupboard trek: Trader Joe’s for the things I can’t get at Whole Foods, then on trader joe'sto Whole Foods for the things I can’t get at HEB, etc, etc, etc. On my list to replenish (because I’m down to 1.5 lbs in inventory) was Trader Joe’s Just Cashew Meal. I love cashew meal. It tastes sweet and flavorful. It’s full of healthy oil and nutrients. And at Trader Joe’s, it’s a veritable steal (or at least it was . . . . ) at $4.99 per pound. On the shelf where the tag read Cashew Meal were packages of gluten-free flour. The packages of almond meal were right next to that spot, right where it was supposed to be, in plentiful number. No cashew meal, though. I looked behind the gluten-free baking mix. No straggler packages of cashew meal. Thinking I might find it in another spot in the store,  I strolled over to the shelves that hold all the packages of dried fruit, nuts, seeds, and what have you. No cashew meal. I was dismayed, but continued my shopping. As the cashier rang up my purchases, I asked him about the cashew meal. I could not believe my ears, nor contain my emotion, when he explained to me that Trader Joe’s has discontinued carrying cashew meal. While I cried out my fervent devotion to the product, he further explained that the cashew meal didn’t sell well and the shelf space was needed for products that would sell better. Having trouble processing the information that few people desire the product, for just about every cooking / baking resource I read includes recipes in which cashew flour is used, I asked whether it is discontinued at this one particular Trader Joe’s, or at all Trader Joe’s location. He affirmed my worst fear. Cashew meal has been discontinued at all Trader Joe’s, everywhere. Continue reading

Dark Chocolate Chips + Matcha = Yummy Healthy Cookies

This past weekend, my son gifted me with some  Japanese matcha that he bought on a recent business trip to matcha cookiesJapan. I’ve long been interested in using matcha in smoothies, cooking, and baking; with this gift I have no more reason to put off experimenting with it.  Matcha, green tea leaves that have been ground into a fine powder, is a popular superfood. Although it has ceremonial, religious value in Japan, people in general  value it because it is an antioxidant that also contains vitamin C, selenium, chromium, zinc and magnesium. Additionally, matcha contains L-theanine, an amino acid that naturally occurs in tea plants. This amino acid has a dual calming and energizing effect on people who ingest the tea.

Matcha differs from conventional green tea in that farmers deprive the tea plants of light by covering them the last three weeks or so before the leaves are harvested. The light deprivation causes the plants to grow larger, thinner, more flavorful leaves. At harvest time, the leaves of the tea plants are hand-picked; only the youngest leaves are chosen to be dried and ground into matcha. The care taken to grow and harvest the best quality matcha is reflected in this product’s high price. Continue reading

Open For Business: ATX Ultra Eats Gluten-Free, Grain-Free Muffin Mixes

We’re finally ready to sell our delicious muffin mixes! We’ve been working toward this goal for a long time, but we have cacao orange spicefinally arrived. Please visit the ATX Ultra Eats website and see what we have to offer!

For those of you who follow this blog, to whom I am so grateful, please keep visiting this blog site. I will keep this blog going as a separate interest of mine. It will remain a blog devoted to the gluten-free lifestyle. It will not turn into a vehicle for ATX Ultra Eats business. Our business website has its own blog, and its own Facebook page, for such purpose. Now that we have our business started, I hope to return to a more normal routine in which I can get back into the kitchen to cook dishes for which I can share the recipes on this blog. I do miss being in my kitchen!

Whoo-Hoo! Going Bananas Over Banana Flour

For a long period of time I have been waiting for banana flour to become available in the United States. I’ve followed banana flourWEDO’s (Women Entrepreneurs Development Organization) progress toward marketing the flour in the USA, and I’ve also followed Stawi’s progress. Stawi, the company guided by an impressive young Kenyan entrepreneur, offers porridge in the USA, but banana flour only in weights much too large for individual use. WEDO’s banana flour, however, is now available in one pound packages! I have not been asked to write about this flour; I’m doing so because I’m excited about the prospect of a new flour with which to experiment, and I’m excited about the vision of both companies that currently market banana flour. Both WEDO and Stawi are companies formed to help disadvantaged communities grow successful businesses; buying from either company benefits people far beyond those directly involved with the respective businesses. In addition to the positive social impact my purchasing banana flour may have, I am excited about the nutritional aspect of using this grain-free, gluten-free flour in my baking. The flour is made from green bananas, so it is full of potassium. It’s also a resistant starch, which means it is also a prebiotic. Furthermore, as a resistant starch it doesn’t break down into sugar as do regular starches. A note on the WEDO banana flour website states that the resistant starch property breaks down once the flour is heated about 140 degrees F; thus, the banana flour best used in smoothies if one wants to use for its resistant starch benefit. Banana flour can and does work well, however, as a grain-free, gluten-free substitute for wheat in baked products. Since I just received my banana flour today (magically delivered onto our front porch, on a Sunday morning????), I’ve yet to find out how it tastes; however, the WEDO website explains that the green bananas from which its made give it an earthy, rather than a banana-like, flavor. I will be experimenting with this flour this week. The Freescale Austin Marathon is next weekend; my son and I are running it. He and I will need some nutritious, high-protein, potassium-rich foods to fuel our respective runs (I’ll probably need it more than he – I’ll be on the course much longer than he!). Look for a follow-up blog with ideas for ways to use this exciting newly available gluten-free flour!

Variations On Coconut Flour Snack Cakes

Coconut flour is a wonderful, but unusual, substance. It’s wonderful in that it is a very nutritious, high protein food. In addition to its high coconut flour snack cake 6protein content, it’s an excellent source of copper, magnesium, calcium, iron, zinc, and manganese. It also provides a respectable amount of folates, riboflavin, niacin, thiamin, pyridoxine, and potassium. It’s fibrous nature provides makes it a suitable replacement for the gluten in wheat flour; in fact, I use a little in all my baked goods as a replacement for the usual gluten-gluten substitutes xanthan and guar gums. Moreover, coconut flour is an excellent substitute for gluten-free grains, for those gluten-free eaters who want to remove gluten-free grains from their diets. Coconut flour is strange, however, in that it is so fibrous and absorbent that baking with it one to forget for a moment what she’s learned about baking in general, and about baking with gluten-free flours specifically, and approach coconut flour on its own terms. Because of its nature, a little coconut flour goes a long way. One cannot use it in the same amount she uses more commonly utilized gluten-free flours. When coconut flour is included in a recipe, depending upon the amount used, the success of that final baked product depends upon an increased number of eggs, and possibly liquid as well. Continue reading

Packaging for ATX Ultra Eats Grain-Free, Gluten-Free Muffin Mix Finalized: All Three Flavors

cloudsplitter

Although I run barefoot on pavement, I decided to wear my Luna Leadville huaraches and some lightweight Injinji toe socks for this race. The Cloudsplitter website described the course as very rocky, and cold, wet weather was predicted for the day of the race.

We’re getting closer to having our delicious, healthy gluten-free, grain-free muffin mix available for sale! The packaging for all three flavors of our mixes is finally complete and ready to send off to the printer! I had to put the process on hold for a little while so that I could concentrate on training for and running the Cloudsplitter 50k, which was held October 4th in Elkhorn City, KY. What a wonderful experience that race turned out to be! Susan Howard, the race director, did a wonderful job organizing the event (which also included distances of 100 miles, 100k, and 25k). The volunteers were awesome! Although the course was extremely challenging, it was beautiful and the weather was perfect. I would definitely run it again! Finding gluten-free options for meals on this particular trip, however, was very difficult, but that’s fodder for another post.

For this post, I want to present the beautiful packaging for ATX Ultra Eats Chocolate Chip Muffin Mix:

new packaging 1

new packaging 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And for our Cacao Orange Spice Muffin Mix:

new packaging 3

new packaging 4And for our Sunburst Muffin Mix:

new packaging 5

new packaging 6

Work on the official ATX Ultra Eats website is currently underway, and soon we will be up and running. Our muffins are SO delicious; I can’t wait to make them available for everyone to try!

Easy and Delicious Gluten-Free, Grain-Free Pasta

While perusing some of my favorite blogs one day, I happened across this post about a gadget that turnszuchini pasta 4 zucchini into spaghetti. Now, skads of kitchen gadgets exist for imaginative use in the kitchen, and I’m usually wary of being seduced by photos and descriptive writing into purchasing gadgets that, no matter how clever or charming, will end up stealing valuable space in my so-small kitchen after having been used only once or twice. This particular gadget, however, can help me to lower the amount of carbs I eat daily. Here I need to mention that I do not mean demonize carbs in themselves. The only foods I truly demonize are industrialized or manufactured processed foods. I have never understood the appeal of food products such as Cool Whip, a non-dairy whipped topping, or those processed shakes or shake powders people ingest instead of food so that they can lose weight or work out harder, or whatever the case may be. If half and half can be made fat-free, how can it still be half and half? (Hint: It can’t be – the fat is replaced by less desirable ingredients much more hazardous to one’s health than fat.) Every once in a while, one may choose to eat queso made with Velveeta processed cheese or drink a soft drink, but in general, industrialized foods shouldn’t make up a large portion of anyone’s diet. I follow this rule for myself and my family; however, I won’t press the issue with others who choose to ingest the foods I generally avoid. Continue reading

Coming Soon: ATX Ultra Eats Grain-Free, Gluten-Free Muffin Mix

I’ve been working to get my gluten-free, grain-free muffin mix out on the market, and I am getting closer to that day! I decided to market a muffin mix rather than a prepared, frozen muffin; people have more control over the ingredients when they mix the muffins themselves. People who choose a vegan lifestyle will be able to use a milk and egg substitute (such as almond milk and flax or chia seed gel); people who are lactose-intolerant will be able to use a milk substitute, and people who follow a gluten-free, grain-free diet but eat dairy and eggs can use milk and eggs in their muffins.

Currently I am putting my business on hold while I help welcome our third grandson into the world, a very exciting and important event in our lives! In the meantime, I want to share my business logo.

ATXUltraEats

I am very excited about the way my logo turned out, and I am grateful to the people at Envision-Creative Group, specifically Stephanie and Sarah, for designing a logo that perfectly reflects the values of my business.Soon after we welcome little Tristan into this world, I will focus on making the muffin mix available in retail stores in the Austin / San Antonio area and online. I am very joyful about sharing this high-protein, nutrient-rich mix with people who have special dietary needs, as well as with people who choose to put only the most healthy foods into their bodies.