Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Gluten Frugality

Last weekend I mentioned spending $60 on flour/GF baking ingredients.

Then this past week, I was experimenting with what I can eat etc, and made a very yummy spaghetti dish.

*side note - after much hunting, I have finally found a GF spaghetti noodle substitute that I like! Actually, it's the same brand as all the other noodles that I like. Really, it's hard to tell the difference between these brown rice noodles and regular wheat-filled noodles. The brand is
Tinkyada Pasta, and I really enjoy all of them. For awhile I was despairing of ever being able to eat spaghetti again because all the spaghetti noodles were disgusting.

Back to the yummy spaghetti...well, it made me sick. So in looking back through the ingredients to figure out what set me off, I discovered that when things say "natural flavorings" that can oftentimes mean - you got it - GLUTEN! GRRRR. So it was the tomato sauce that made me sick.

So, my only option was to find an organic, basic tomato sauce (and pastes). So, off to the health food store again...and $9 later I walked away with - count them with me - 4 cans of sauce/paste.

I made it my mission this weekend to do some research and find a cheaper way to make this work. Otherwise we were going to be broke just trying to buy food that doesn't make me sick. After much hunting and price comparing, I think I have found that the cheapest way for me to order most of my gluten free food is actually going to be...........Amazon!

I never thought I would reach the day when I would be grocery shopping on amazon.com, but there you have it. I can buy, generally in bulk, the ingredients/pasta/foods I need for about half the price as the health food store. Are they still expensive? More so than regular store-bought stuff, but for half the price, I can deal with it.

Also, another friend of mine introduced me to this great flour from a company called
Domata. They make this great flour that basically I can use cup for cup in place of any regular all-purpose flour (not sure about when a recipe calls for bread flour - I have a recipe which combines different flour types that should work for that, but I don't think this flour would substitute). The key is that it already mixes things like Xantham gum (a vital ingredient for getting the gluten free flours to stick and taste like regular bread) all into the flour. So although it's still priciyish, it ends up being cheaper than buying 5 different kinds of flour/gum/etc and combining them myself. Xantham gum by itself costs $10 for 6 ounces, so this flour comes out as way cheaper.

So, guess I need to rearrange my cupboard because I need to bulk order some food for me.

Pizza by Scratching

Brownies and Pizza. What else can one ask for in life?

As I have had neither of those delectable substances for about three months now, I was especially appreciative. Basically I've been experimenting with just regular recipes but using the gluten free flours, etc. And I'm quite impressed. And it's definitely cheaper making it at home than buying the gluten free mix or actual dessert/bread from the store. Tastes better too.

I found a really easy pizza dough recipe that is absolutely amazing. Fluffy and tasty all rolled into one happy crust!

I think I'm finding though that too much sugar in anything does tend to bother me. Not like the gluten does but just upsets my stomach. A little bit in a day is fine, but if I have to many sugar laiden items, I can definitely feel it. Might start looking at using more sugar substitutes (no, not Splenda or anything half as killing as that) like rice syrup, etc. And, I've found that most recipes can actually take less sugar than is called for and be just fine. So combine the usage of less sweet amounts and no sugar and we'll see how that works out.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Bruised, Broke, and Bread

No, this is not a sermon or any such; although, I thought it would be a great title for one! That is the summary of my past couple weeks and my adventures in food.

So, two weekends ago, I managed to narrow down the wheat/gluten question to, sadly, gluten. And so, last Tuesday, I took the dive and voluntarily went to the doctor’s to get poked with a needle (very anti-needle). And of course they couldn’t do it right, and I’ve wound up with bruises on my arms, one of which is quite nasty looking!

Why did I volunteer to be poked with needles? Well, I’ve always know that if it came down to a gluten problem, I needed to be tested for celiac disease – the serious end of a gluten intolerance problem. And since it’s hard to test for celiac if you’re on a no-gluten diet (I had to hope that by eating gluten products a few times for a week previous that would be enough to indicate it on the blood work), I had to torture myself by continuing to eat gluten filled things for a few days.

Talk about making yourself ill!

Anyhoo…the test results have come back. Thankfully, celiac did not show up. However, gluten intolerance is still a problem that I now I have to learn to deal with on a regular basis.

So, after sulking and feeling sorry for myself for a week (had to get it out of my system!), I took the plunge on Sunday and spent an obscene amount of money at the health food store to buy myself flours and other gluten friendly baking products so I can start working on making myself breads, etc. I have lived without bread now for about two and a half months. And let me tell you, even though I’m not a big bread fan, I’ve missed it!

Chris was picking on me though, at the store, because I had been really frustrated that morning for breakfast having absolutely no easy access foods I could grab (problem being compounded by the fact that I’m still testing out other foods as well as dealing with this issue). So we went to the store and bought some of those along with the baking supplies, and after all my hard work recently at saving money on shopping, etc, seeing the price for what we bought, was very disheartening. However, he informed me that I couldn’t have it both ways – I couldn’t be upset over having nothing to eat and be upset over the cost of getting food! I told him I’m a girl and I could if I wanted to.

Why is that argument never impresses him?

Any ways, I’m blessed with two very sensible friends who have had experiences in this area, and so quickly was given some helpful websites/recipes from them. I made a recipe titled “Sticky bread” first. And let me tell you, it’s sticky all right! However, it’s also fantastic. I would eat this bread even if I didn’t have too! So that cheered me up quite a bit.

And now, the time has come for me to work at getting my food/eating back to what will be for me, “normal”. It’s been pretty rough the last few months (blessings on a patient husband who’s put up with my lack of normal cooking and weird eating), and now that I know what one of the biggest problems is – it’s time to deal with it.

Friday, July 18, 2008


I never knew that fudge was a natural ingredient. However, as I was reading the list of ingredients on a package today, I glanced at the allergy warnings. Usually this will include things like "milk" "wheat" "soy" "nuts" etc. However, the only warning on this particular package was - "fudge".

Curioser and curioser.

Hee, hee

So, apparently my sister has known about this for years. However, I just discovered it. And I think it's hysterical! PRESS HERE.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Green Stuff

On a website I am a member of, there has been a discussion going on regarding environmentalism, etc. The following is my post on it. Just some thoughts I've had in watching the "green" movement.

As with any movement, extremes are going to be found. Even (dare I say it) in AG churches can you find some people with extreme beliefs. And for good or for bad, there are beliefs that our founders held that we don't follow today - card playing being a good example here!

My husband once told some rather gullible teenagers that he was so touched having heard a news-story on PETA claming having pets is animal-slavery, that he went home and threw our fish off the balcony proclaiming "you are free!" Naturally, the girls were horrified, but it did get them thinking. The point is, any idea, good or bad, can be taken in such a way as to represent an extreme.

Am I a fan of global warming and carbon footprints, etc? No. In my personal view and from personal study, I believe most of these ideas are being built on extremist views, guilt trips, fear mongering, and a determination to make humanity feel it is completely worthless in it's existence. I do believe that some of this is a beautiful tool that Satan uses to devalue humanity and therefore lead people into the questioning of the value of their existence.

However, the fact that in my experience the church has developed a reputation for being anti-green is not a positive thing either. I do believe that God created this world in a manner that exceeds scientist's understanding and that without His say-so, we cannot destroy His creation. BUT, I believe that we do hold a responsibility to care for what He has given us. And here, I'm talking about some of the more basic environmental ideas that oftentimes get tossed aside as people talk about some of the bigger ideas that are out there. What is wrong with trying to physically clean up/improve the environment around us? To share care for the world our Lord created? Yet so often we focus only on the extreme views without factoring in that maybe we do have a responsibility. And as a result, people can become isolated from the church because they don’t believe that the church values some of the ideas they hold near and dear.

And while I really am not "green" as defined by most people, I will admit to making my own cleaning supplies. I started doing so not because of the green aspect but because it is (a) way cheaper and (b) healthier as I'm not putting all those chemicals into my house/body/world.

And, through my own personal health issues, I am discovering how much what we as consumers say is acceptable for companies to put into the foods and products they manufacturer is actually hurting us. California is one of those states often mocked for a lot of their green laws, but I know people who can eat and drink products made under their laws who get sick eating/drinking the same products made under the less-strict regulations of other states.

Just my thoughts!

Monday, July 14, 2008

A New Fun Toy

Got some time to spare? Come play with this new website: SAND. To read about it, go here.

Be forwarned - potentially addicting!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

boo spaghetti

My adventure with food this month has been to start reintroducing foods to my diet, one by one, to find out what my body can handle without freaking out on me again!

I have found I can successfully have (drum roll please)...
  • eggs
  • soy sauce (in limited amounts)
  • shrimp

I have sadly found that I am extremely intolerant of

  • cow's milk
  • wheat or gluten (still determining which)
  • and strawberries.

The wheat/gluten issue is definitely the worst. All three gave me quick headaches and caused me to break out in little bumps everywhere; however, the spaghetti I ate on Monday flat out made me sick. Sick, sick, sick, sick, sick. My stomach's been upset, I immediately became bloated and gross feeling, and the worst is the muscle aching. It's like streaks of toxins form at my neck and run straight down both arms and down my legs making me so swollen, sore, and painful. The really interesting reaction though was the exhaustion. If you'll remember, I talked about how tired I've been for such a long time - crashing with weariness as soon as I get home at night, almost falling asleep at work, having a horrible time getting out of bed in teh morning. Well, in the last few months of limited eating, that exhaustion has really cleared up. However, the last few days, I've been extremely, abnormally tired again. Oh, and my allergies have promptly started acting up again.

It's incredable how much food can completely affect you.

My current goal is to figure out if it's the gluten or the wheat that bothers me. With that knowledge, my life will be changing a lot.

Oh, I also tried vanilla rice milk with cocoa powder mixed in. Not bad, and the cocoa doesn't seem to affect me. I'll keep trying that for a few days and see how I do. If the chocoalte doesn't seem to bother me, then I'll have a good jumping spot from which to test SUGAR!

Ah the joys of my current crazy life!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Monday, July 7, 2008


So, I've been writing a lot of financial stuff lately. However, I've had a lot of other thoughts teeming through my brain. The problem is that most of my thoughts come to me at the most inconvenient of times - as I drive, in the bath, other such places. I've written some of the absolute best blogs - in my head. It's the transferring them to actuality that the rest of the world can read that I struggle with! I think I need to buy a microphone recorder of some sort. Maybe that would help?

In the meantime, I really will try to get some of this down.

Shopping Stuffs - Week of July 7

Highway robbery, that's what it is!

Staples - If you checked your deals at Staples this week, you probably smiled as I did. $2.61 bought me:
  • 12 mechanical pencils (yes, yes, I know that pencils you sharpen are cheaper but, frankly, I despise them and for $1.99 or $0.17 a piece, these make me much happier!)
  • 2 mini bottles of Purrell - $0.02 total
  • 10 paper file folders - $0.10 total
  • 1 pack of loose-leaf college ruled paper (not the annoying cardboardie recycled kind that has holes riped into it the second you try to write on it) - $0.50

Walgreens - $11.71 total - 4.71 out of pocket (I had $7.00 of register rewards from last week's purchases)

  • 4 boxes of 12 assorted cards each (birthday, general, etc) - $0.99 each or $0.08 per card! Minor difference between $2+ dollars for a single card bought otherwise. Don't get me wrong, cards can be fun. But I really do balk at spending that much money on a piece of cardboard that is probably going to be tossed within a couple of days. If it's the sentiments you want to express, they can be written on a much less expensive piece of paper. Granted, sometimes there is a card out there that is absolutely perfect for the occasion, but for the most part, I've spent way too long pouring over racks of cards to settle on a half-way decent one that I only sort of like.

OK, off my soapbox!

  • 6 bubble-wrap envelopes at 3/$1.
  • 6 packs of 24 pieces of white tissues paper - 3/$1
  • 2 boxes of Ziplock brand plastic bags - $1.50 apiece. This was supposed to be about $1.00 cheaper, but my own miscalculation tacked on the extra amount.
CVS - $25.39 total (there's a mistake in part of that - should be about $6.00 cheaper); used $10.50 in ECBs and spent $14.89 out of pocket - got $11.98 back in ECBS for future trips
  • Pringles - 2 for $2 with a $1.00 ECB back
  • CVS Pantiliners - 2 for $0.99 each ($1.98 total) with $1.98 in ECBs back
  • 1 box of Playtext tampons $4.99 - $1.00 coupon and I got $3.00 of ECBS back
  • Dawn dishwashing liquid - 2 for $2 with a $1.00 ECB back
  • 4 bottles of Fabreeze - $12.98 total - 2 B1G1 coupons - $6.40 total with $5.00 ECBs back
  • And the mistake (store's mistake, not mine!). They were advertising 2 bottles of Pert shampoo for $5.00. I had 2 $2.00 coupons off one bottle, so my total should have been $1.00 or $0.50 each. However, in checking my receipt later (I go over my lunch hour so have limited time and have to check this after the fact), I discovered that they had charged me $5.69 EACH. Thus the unexpected $6.38 addition to the bill.

One way of looking at the whole thing (not counting the opps) is through using my ECBs to pay and then ones I earned for next trip, I technically got paid $3.00 for shopping there today!

There were also several other deals that I wanted which I had to get a raincheck for:

  • $7.99 mascara with a $7.99 ECB back
  • $4.99 hairbrush with $5.00 ECB back
  • 2 deoderants at $2.79 each - 2 $1 off 1 coupon. Get $3.00 ECBs back for a grand total of $0.68 cents. Plus, there's a B1G1 free rebate that I can send in for on one of the deoderants!
  • CVS tampons at $1.49 with a $1.49 ECB back

Ah the joys of working the system! As I've been looking over our supplies, I'm finding we're needing fewer and fewer things which means I'm getting pickier and pickier on what I buy. And that's the kind of picky I want to be!

One Year Ago Today

On this day, one year ago, we completely changed our lives. We drove away from jobs and home and loved ones to a new adventure of the very m...