Thursday, May 20, 2010

Traveling gluten free, continued - grain free muffin recipe!

One thing that helped us immensely on both of our long trips (mentioned in the previous post) was that we brought our own gluten free sandwiches made with the grain free flatbread recipe on my recipe blog site. Immediately prior to each trip, I baked two or three pieces of flatbread, then cut each piece into 6 squares to make three sandwiches. Having sandwiches and other gluten free foods along on the road in coolers was an absolute life saver! On both of our trips, there were frequently long stretches of highway where you either couldn't stop, or if you did, there were no safe restaurants in the vicinity, so having something in the car that's safe for a hungry husband and/or toddler to eat was very important.

For the Idaho trip I also made some scrumptious banana-sour cream-blackberry muffins (pictured above) to take along, also grain free! Here is the recipe:

This recipe makes approximately 24 muffins, if you fill the muffin cups about 1/2 - 2/3 full.


2 medium very ripe bananas, about 1 1/2 cups mashed
1/4 C melted coconut oil or grapeseed oil
3/4 C agave nectar
1/3 C sour cream
6 eggs
3/4 C coconut flour
1 1/3 C almond flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
48 - 72 fresh organic blackberries (about 2 cups? depending on size), washed and well dried!


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and grease muffin pans generously with shortening (I've used both Crisco and Spectrum).

In a large bowl mash the banana and beat until smooth; add the eggs, agave, sour cream, and oil and beat with a hand-held mixer or stand mixer until smooth and "emulsified" (meaning there should not be a skim of oil on top, but the oil should be completely incorporated). In a medium bowl, combine the flours, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Dump the dry ingredients into the banana mixture; mix together thoroughly, scraping down the sides of the bowl frequently.

Spoon muffin batter into greased muffin pans (I fill the cups about 1/2 - 2/3 full). Place 2 or 3 blackberries (depending on the size of the blackberries) on top of each muffin and press them gently into the batter.

Bake at 350 for approximately 18 - 22 minutes, depending on your oven, until beginning to brown on top. Allow the muffins to cool in the pans for 10 - 15 minutes, then remove them to wire racks to finish cooling.

NOTE: the muffins will be very fragile just out of the oven, and may feel overly moist, even oily on the bottoms. But as they cool, they firm up and absorb the excess moisture and oil. This is likely due to the absorbent properties of the coconut flour; it allows the muffins to stay moist and delicious (unrefrigerated!) for days.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

More on traveling while gluten free and chronically ill

I thought it was time to post again about traveling while gluten free (and while sick)....and it's important for me to share not only the pitfalls and perils, but also the pleasant surprises when a restaurant or hotel bends over backwards to accommodate your dietary and/or other physical needs. Indeed, I've promised a few people I met along the way that I would do so!

Over the past couple of months I have made two quick (but long-distance) trips by car. I live in Southern California; the first trip was to Northern California and Southern Oregon, the second to Idaho (by way of Utah) to the college graduation of my adult daughter Robin, seen here with her son Andrew....

She simultaneously earned a B.A. in Mathematics Education and a B.S. in pure Math from Boise State....cum laude! Go Robin and go Broncos! :)

In any case, due to my many diseases, my power wheelchair, plus the need to remain strictly gluten free, you can imagine that travel can be quite challenging!

For example, lupus can make one highly photosensitive....unfortunately it has done so for me. On top of that, some of my medications exacerbate my sensitivity to the sun and other bright light sources. For more info on lupus and light sensitivity, click here.

When I was still working at the office I would frequently turn off the overhead fluorescents and work with only a desk lamp on....or not, sometimes using just the glow of my computer screen(s) to see by.

These days, as I work part-time from home, I tend to spend my waking hours in front of my laptop in a dark room with perhaps one dim lamp on and drapes drawn. And yes, it's a major drag!

I have two pairs of prescription glasses: dark and darker. Here I am with my dark glasses:

Dark is for indoors, darker for outside. Unfortunately, darker isn't enough on a bright beautiful sunny day. In the car I keep a shiny white folder which I use as a sun shield. Sometimes I hold it over my face and head if the sun is hitting me directly (it can actually nauseate me and make me feel like I'm going to pass out); usually I have to at least cover my arms and hands to prevent nasty bumpy rashes and weird-looking sunburns on highly sensitive skin.

Lovely, isn't it? :(

My adult daughter Cheryl, who also has lupus, once told me she was tired of "feeling like some kind of vampire" because she couldn't safely go outside until dusk. I can relate!

During trip number one, up and down the coast of California, it was cloudy and even rainy most of the time. I still managed to burn my hand to a crisp (see above) through the car window.

But aside from that little problem, most of that first trip was absolutely wonderful. We had great places to stay, such as the Sheraton in Petaluma, mentioned in a previous travel post, plus the Portside Suites in Brookings, Oregon, and fabulous places to eat, like Steamers in Pismo, where, with no official gluten free menu, our waiter and the chefs racked their brains to come up with a dinner that wouldn't make us sick, and succeeded beyond expectations!

Steamers also boasts an unbelievably gorgeous view of the Pacific from the dining area....

Wow! That alone is a reason to eat there!! But they also have wonderful food! :)

Note: once again I have to say that the Triumph Dining Cards were incredibly helpful on both trips! If you have to stay gluten free and want to be able to eat out you should definitely get a set for yourself! There were quite a few restaurants which had no gluten free menus (including the aforementioned Steamers), but I was always able to pull out the appropriate card and let the waitperson take it to the chef to help him/her identify which dishes were OK for us.

I love the Northern California/Southern Oregon coastline, so I'd like to share a few pictures of the Redwood Highway with you:

A lovely rest stop along the way....

Tsunami hazard zone sign....

Oregon/California border...

Rain, rain....

A rainbow after the rain...

I'll plan to continue this soon....I have more pictures (the Utah/Idaho trip) and more recommended restaurants and hotels!