Cook Kindly

Adventures in cooking and navigating a gluten-free life.


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Get ’em while they’re hot! 

We have pancakes nearly every weekend at our house, and sometimes for dinner. Depending on where you shop, there isn’t always a large selection of gluten free pancake mixes to choose from, not to mention how pricey they can be. A few months ago, I thought I had hit the pancake jackpot when Costco was selling a mammoth club-sized bag of Krusteaz gluten free pancake mix. The pancakes were exactly what you’d expect from the Krusteaz brand: moist, fluffy, and delicious. Plus, the price was very reasonable. Sadness set in when I haven’t been able to find the mix in store since (insert sad music here).  

Weekend pancake breakfasts shall live on! I have found that Target carries a good selection of gf pancake mixes at reasonable (gf reasonable, that is) prices. I was pretty excited when I came across gluten free mix from another well-known brand in the pancake world. Hungry Jack gluten free pancake mix…wait for it… Funfetti! Being a mama to a toddler, I felt like this was a whole family WIN! Ryan gets pancakes (win), Max gets colorful sprinkles in pancakes (win), and for me, they are gluten free (triple double word score win)! I literally buy several boxes at a time. 

  
I prefer my pancakes with butter and sugar sprinkled on top, rather than syrup. (Don’t judge, syrup is pretty darn sugary, so I figure it’s a wash.)

  
Ryan, on the other hand, tops his pancakes with crunchy peanut butter and syrup. Totally not healthy, but sometimes you just can’t teach an old dog new tricks. At least it’s got protein, right?!?! 

  
No matter how you top ’em, Hungry Jack pancakes are an excellent gluten free option, for breakfast or anytime. 

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When I was pregnant with Max (my oldest), I developed an aversion to yogurt. Didn’t matter what flavor, yogurt was disgusting, but peach was the worst. My like of yogurt improved after having him, but again dissipated while I was pregnant with Harry. I definitely prefer the thick creamy texture of Greek yogurt, but at nearly double the price of regular yogurt, I consider Greek to be a treat. That’s where the toppings come in. While pregnant with Harry, I began a love affair…with toasted coconut. The sweet crunch mended my relationship with yogurt. 

  
One of my new favorite snacks is vanilla yogurt parfaits. Top with fruit, mini chocolate chips, gluten free granola, and toasted coconut. So delicious, the combinations are endless. 

   
 
This versatile sweet-treat snack is pretty easy to pack and take with you, too. Just one word to the wise: put down a layer of fruit and top with granola or toasted coconut, the fruit will act as a barrier to keep the crunchy toppings from getting soggy. 

Could you hand me a spoon? Holy yum!


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Chicken Wild Rice Hot Dish

I’m from Minnesota, so I say hot dish, you might call it a casserole, depending on where you’re from. A hot creamy dish by any other name tastes just as delicious. This recipe is easy to prep ahead of time and have in the fridge, so you can just pop it in the oven after work. We actually had some decent weather the other day, so I asked Ryan to grill up some chicken breasts. We have 3 adult-food eaters in my house (my youngest is only 4 months old – not yet gumming adult-food), naturally I had Ryan grill up 10 chicken breasts (gulp). Throughout the course of the week, we put them to good use – between a grilled chicken dinner, salads for lunches, and this dish. Having grilled, chopped chicken in the fridge helped make this dish a cinch to pull together. The rice cooker made cooking the wild rice a set-it and forget-it breeze. PSA: I love having a rice cooker, we use it a couple of times a week. Perfect rice every time, without having to babysit the pot.

I made 2 cups of wild rice on Sunday, plus the grilled chicken, and kept both in the fridge until I was ready to prep this dish Tuesday evening. In a large bowl, I mixed all of my ingredients (listed below) and spread into a prepped baking dish, topped with tinfoil and put it in the fridge for the next night. It took me about 6 minutes.

The key ingredient in this dish, for my gluten free friends, is Progresso’s Cream of Mushroom Soup. Hooray! This isn’t your condensed cream of chicken soup of yesteryear, so if you’re using it in other dishes, take into consideration that you wont need as much liquid. I can’t tell you how excited I was to find GF cream of anything soup. This soup makes it possible to put together a comforting dinner perfect for a mid-winter night.

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This recipe is pretty flexible, you could add or omit various vegetables, or even top it with cheese.

Chicken Wild Rice Hot Dish

2 cups wild rice cooked
3 chicken breasts cooked & diced
2 cans cream of mushroom soup (*be sure it’s gluten free)
1/2 cup diced celery
1/4 cup diced onion
1/4 – 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup frozen peas
1 tsp salt OR season salt
1/2 tsp black pepper

combine all ingredients and spread into a sprayed13 x 9 or larger baking dish. (This makes a pretty big recipe.) Bake, covered with tinfoil, at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes, until hot and bubbly. This recipe refrigerates well for a couple of days prior to baking, you can also freeze it for later.

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Convenience

One of the hardest adjustments when going gluten free is the lack of convenience foods. There are some options, but by-and-large they either are not that great or they cost a small fortune. There are nights when you just don’t feel like cooking and want to throw a frozen pizza in the oven. Or nights where you need a quick meal on the table before heading out the door again. Those nights can be tough for a gf-er. On those nights, we do a lot of eggs in my house. My almost 3-year old prefers them scrambled with cheese, please.

Even canned soups often contain gluten, but stay tuned for my secret weapon in my Chicken Wild Rice hot dish, coming soon.

We do have a go-to meal that never fails to please. A meal that comes together quickly, without planning ahead. Drum roll, please… Spaghetti & meatballs. Yep, frozen, pre-made meatballs – gluten free. Taa daa!  Sam’s Club sells a 6 pound bag of Daily Chef meatballs (double check that they are gf, because they carry more than one kind), and I guarantee you there is always, always a bag in my freezer.

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Simmer a few (or a dozen) meatballs in spaghetti sauce, while boiling up your noodles. I love Trader Joe’s brown rice pasta noodles. They taste great and are reasonably priced, plus they come in a 16 oz bag (most gf noodles come in 12 oz packages). Once  the noodles are cooked al dente (literally meaning “with tooth” or having a bite still), drain the noodles and mix with the sauce. The starch in brown rice noodles is different than traditional wheat flour noodles, they tend to clump together & get hard. My secret, always toss your pasta with the sauce, the noodles maintain their texture better.

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Spaghetti & meatballs is a fast and convenient meal that’ll please the whole family.


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30 Day Challenge

I started this blog nearly 3 years ago, after being diagnosed with non-Celiac gluten sensitivity. After doing a ton of research and struggling to adjust to my new way of eating, I wanted to be a resource for others, which led me to the world of blogging. However, like everyone else, I’m busy. Slowly, my contributions to the blogging world dwindled and then stopped completely. I do have two very good reasons, my time and attention have been focused on my two sons, Max & Harry.

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Now, as the mother of two, I find that I get basically no “me” time, which has been throwing me off balance lately. As difficult as it is to take time for myself, I know that it’s important for my well being and will allow me to be a better mom and wife. So, today I am making a commitment to spend a little more time on myself, doing the things I enjoy. For me, that means cooking, sharing recipes, yoga, and walks. For the next 30 days, I will do at least one thing for myself each day.

My motivation to find more balance in my life comes from my two little guys. My motivation to get back into blogging comes from my love of cooking and my sister, who started a health blog, check her out at busyhealthymom.com.

I’m hoping this blog serves as a recipe resource – whether you’re gluten free or not. I also hope to offer some tips and tricks for being gluten free and living a more balanced life. I say “more” balanced” because I believe it’s an ever-evolving task.