Gluten-free tortillas

Simple. Delicious. Easy.

These are the best tortillas we have eaten since going gluten-free.  We actually prefer them over regular tortillas.  I got the recipe from the blog Art of Gluten-Free Baking and made a few substitutes and additions.  These will change your gluten-free life!

Ingredients:
2 cups Pamela’s Artisan Gluten-free Flour blend (you can find at Kroger and  Natural Grocer)
1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
2 teaspoons aluminum free baking powder
1-2 tablespoons of tomato powder (optional or your favorite spice)
5 tablespoons unsalted organic butter, cold and cut into 1 tablespoon pieces
3/4 cup warm water

Each batch makes about 8 tortillas – we usually double the recipe.

tortilla premixIn your food processor mix flour, salt, baking powder and tomato powder.

Add your butter pieces and mix until it looks like wet sand.tortilla wet sand

Then add the warm water and mix until a dough ball forms.

tortilla mixed

Place the dough ball in plastic wrap or in a container with a lid for 30 – 60 minutes at room temp. This will help distribute the water through the dough.  You can refrigerate the dough if you aren’t going to use it the same day.

When you are ready to make tortillas, roll the dough into 8-9 balls.

tortilla rounds

Then roll out the dough balls.  We use two pieces of parchment paper and a rolling pin unless you have a tortillas press.  Then place the tortilla in a pan heated to medium with oil (we use Grapeseed oil).  Cook for about 60 seconds while bubbles form on the top and then flip and cook the other side.rolled tortilla tortilla in pan

We love to use them as tortillas for homemade breakfast burritos.  We fill them with a mix of breakfast sausage, eggs, green chili, hash browns and spinach.  Then we roll them up in foil and freeze them for a super simple and delicious breakfast during the week.  Just stick them in the oven for 30-45 minutes while getting ready and then grab and go!

Burrito making burrito assembly finished burrito

 

 

 

 

 

We have also made them and then cut them into triangles for homemade tortillas chips and they were a HUGE hit.

There you have it…gluten-free tortillas that you will love.  Thank you to the Art of Gluten-Free Baking for figuring out this awesome recipe!

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Vanilla Extract

Now that the Christmas season has come and gone and we have given our gifts to our friends and family, I can post what we did and how we did it. This is a fabulous gift anytime of the year.  It is a gift that keeps on giving!

The idea came compliments of Sprinkles of Parsley 

Vanilla Extract

Making your own vanilla extract – did you know that all extract, if you have any in your cupboards look at the ingredients, is alcohol and the spice or flavoring such as almond or peppermint or vanilla?  So here’s what we did.

  1. We purchased little bottles from The Specialty Bottle Company
  2. We purchased Bourbon Vanilla Beans from Beanilla 
  3. We purchase a middle-of-the-line, unflavored vodka.
  4. We spread the bottles and vanilla beans out one evening in December on our table and had some fun making vanilla extract for our friends and family.
  5. We cut the vanilla beans in half length wise and then in half width wise as this exposes the seeds. We started by putting 2 strands in each bottle but had enough to put 4-6 in each bottle.
  6. Then we used a funnel and poured unflavored vodka over the vanilla beans until the bottle was almost full and placed the cap on.
  7. Once all bottles were completed we made labels. We used round labels and chose a font we liked and printed them on our computer. I then took distressed ink and colored them in a festive color and added a ribbon around the top of the bottle.
  8. Remember these must “sit” for 6 weeks prior to use so be sure to start early or include a date on the label that reads, “Use after”…

Ingredients needed:

  • 20-40 bottles, depending on how many you want to make
  • ¼ – ½ lbs of vanilla beans (they do have organic available on different sites)
  • Unflavored vodka – we went for a middle of the line, Sky Vodka
  • Ribbons in festive colors
  • Labels for front and back of the bottles

Label Lingo:

Front

Vanilla Extract, Use after _________________

Back

The vanilla beans must steep for 6 weeks. When your extract runs out fill your bottle with unflavored vodka and allow to steep again for 6 weeks. You will always have homemade vanilla extract.  Ingredients: Bourbon vanilla beans, vodka

Foot Scrubs

This post deviates a bit from what you normally see in the form of recipes, but I want to share with you other items that can optimize your health (the skin is one of our biggest organs and absorbs what you put on it into the body)…AND make fabulous Christmas gifts. This idea comes from one of my favorite blogs, Wellness Mama.  I took her recipe and picked out some bottles and went to work making some Christmas gifts.

The wonderful thing about this recipe is the simplicity and the fact that Epsom salt has magnesium which many of us do not get enough of in our diets. Magnesium is also a wonderful detoxifying agent.  The scrubs can be used on hands, feet and the body. The best part of making your own Christmas gifts…you know exactly what ingredients are included and can be sure there are no nasty chemicals that many of our beauty products contain.

Here are the ingredients you will need and then I encourage you to visit the Wellness Mama page above for her recipe on amounts and ideas on different combinations – we made Vanilla Lavender and Cinnamon Peppermint.  Love them!

Epsom salt
Almond oil or olive oil (we used almond oil)
Liquid castille soap (we used the unscented Dr. Bronner’s baby soap, found at Natural Grocers)
Lavender oil, vanilla, peppermint oil, cinnamon – depending on the scent you choose

Foot Scrub everything Vanilla Lavender Cinnamon Peppermint back

 

The Biology of Belief

In my most recent adventure into the nutrition world I have been learning about the world of Biochemistry. I just recently read The Biology of Belief by  Bruce Lipton. I chose a quote from Dr. Lipton that is crucial for all of us to know, remember and believe.

“You can live a life of fear or live a life of love…It is not our genes but our beliefs that control our lives.”

Below comes from a handout I created based on Dr. Lipton’s book.

Doomed by Genes? 

  • “My mother had breast cancer at age 49. It is only 10 years until I too will have breast cancer”
  • “My brother just had a heart attack. I am next”
  • “My husband has diabetes and takes insulin shots daily. Our kids have no hope of a normal life”

Genetic determinism is the belief that genes “control” biology. It is a hypothesis, not a truth. We believe it is true because we have heard it over and over again when in fact it has NEVER been proven. The belief has actually been disproven many times.

Single gene disorders affect less than two percent of the population. In the realm of human diseases, defective genes acting alone only account for about 2% of our total disease load. (Strohman 2003) Diabetes, heart disease and cancer are not the result of a single gene but complex interactions among multiple genes AND environmental factors.

What is the truth?

Epigenetics is the study of changes in biology based on environmental factors. Also known as “control above genetics”.

Research confirms that DNA (gene) blueprints pass on hereditary information. Your blueprint may look just like your mother’s who had cancer. The good news is these blueprints are not set in stone. Just because you have the gene does not mean it will be turned “on”. Environmental influences such as stress, emotions and nutrition can modify your genes.

“Eminent scientist and physician Dean Ornish revealed that by just altering diet and lifestyle for 90 days, prostate cancer patients switched the activity of over 500 genes. Many of their gene changes inhibited biological processes critical in the formation of their tumors.”

Imagine an image on a television screen. The image has a “blueprint” but the dials on the television can fine-tune and alter this image by turning the television on or off, turning the volume up or down, changing the color hue, changing the contrast or changing the brightness.

The environment controls the “dials” on the genes in your body. There are over 2,000 variations the dials in your body can affect on your genetic blueprint.

Prove it – how is that possible?!!

US Department of Health and Human Services (2005) perceives that the nucleus is “basically the cell’s brain” because it contains the genetic material (genes), or DNA.  “DNA determines the cell’s identity, masterminds its activities and is the official cookbook for the body’s proteins.”

We are back where we started, with genes controlling destiny, BUT WAIT…

Experiments have been done to remove the nucleus of a cell.  Removing the DNA (genes) contained within the nucleus should automatically kill the cell, but that isn’t what happens. The cells without a nucleus still exhibit complex, coordinated, life-sustaining behaviors. DNA and genes do not control the cell.

Epigenetics has found DNA (genes) is simply a basic blueprint. Your body decides what its blueprint will ultimately create. Each of your genes is covered with protein sleeves like a sleeve covers your arm. If the protein sleeve is removed, the gene can be read. If it is not removed the gene stays silent. ENVIRONMENTAL SIGNALS cause the protein sleeve to be removed or to stay intact.  The better your environmental signals the more likely your healthy genes will be uncovered and your genes of disease will remain covered and silent.

Control is in your hands – Lower your stress level, calm your emotions, improve your nutrition and alter your gene activity and genetic destiny. 

Food rules

Here are two rules to live by when purchasing, eating and making food:

Great Grandmother Rule: If you showed this food to your great grandmother, would she know what it is? If you showed her a sweet potato she would most likely know what it is and how to cook it. If you showed her a deep fried Twinkie she would most likely ask you what it was and would not know how to make it.

Kitchen Counter Rule: When you purchase food ask yourself, “Could I reproduce this in my home/on my kitchen counter?” Say you are purchasing crackers – some have ingredients you have never heard of and don’t have in your kitchen, while others consistent of all ingredients you have heard of and could have in your kitchen. Purchase the ones you could make in your kitchen.

To be or not to be ORGANIC

We are bombarded by information about food. One of the most talked about subjects is what to purchase organic and why? Not many people have the ability to purchase everything organic and some may live in places where it is impossible  to purchase everything organic – so how do we choose wisely?

The first rule of thumb, especially for women, is to purchase all organic meat and dairy. Why? These items have more fat than most other things we eat. Not many people know that fat and cholesterol are a huge component of hormones. In fact two of women’s most important hormones, estrogen and progesterone, are made from cholesterol. Our bodies use whatever kind of fat we eat to make our hormones. The fat in non-organic meat and dairy most likely contain high levels of chemicals and toxins. Purchasing organic meat and dairy gives your hormones a better chance of being healthy and functioning optimally.

The second rule of thumb is to know the Dirty Dozen™ from the Clean 15™ (reference from Environmental Working Group). The Dirty Dozen™ are those foods that are essential to purchase organic because they have the most pesticides. The Clean 15™ are the best options to purchase non-organic as they have the least pesticides.

Here are the Dirty Dozen™ (the top three being the worst):

  1. Apples
  2. Celery
  3. Strawberries
  4. Peaches
  5. Spinach
  6. Nectarines – imported (not from US)
  7. Grapes – imported (not from US)
  8. Sweet bell peppers
  9. Potatoes
  10. Blueberries – domestic (from US)
  11. Lettuce
  12. Kale/Collard Greens

Here are the Clean 15™:

  1. Onions
  2. Sweet Corn
  3. Pineapples
  4. Avocado
  5. Asparagus
  6. Sweet peas
  7. Mangoes
  8. Eggplant
  9. Cantaloupe – domestic (from US)
  10. Kiwi
  11. Cabbage
  12. Water Melon
  13. Sweet potatoes
  14. Grapefruit
  15. Mushrooms

For more great information on these lists including the full list of all 53 fruits and vegetables, their research and findings please visit EWG.