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I made this Skillet Ground Beef and Rice tonight and it was fantastic and much loved by my family. A ton of flavor, Gluten Free and healthy. The best part, made entirely from things I keep on hand in the pantry and the freezer. Give it a whirl!!
http://southernfood.about.com/od/skilletgroundbeef/r/r90625a.htm

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Brown RiceOn behalf of the gluten free community at large I feel that I must say…REALLY?  REALLY FDA?  REALLY EPA?  REALLY Organic  food producers.    So in case you haven’t heard, they have published a new study essentially saying that some brown rice, brown rice syrup and any products containing these things have unsafe levels of arsenic.   So if you are out of the loop, check out this story on Arsenic-Organics-Rice from ABC.    Historically, I hear a story like this and think “Eh, something is going to get me anyway. ”  Salt, Eggs, Plastic.  Most recently, wheat.   What is the number one substitute for wheat?  You guessed it…rice.  Most recently in fact, I switched from using white rice flour to brown rice flour in an effort to BE HEALTHIER.   Turns out that was perhaps not a great choice.   So here I sit wondering what actually IS safe for me to eat?   Should I even be all that worried for myself at this point?   Might I end up looking like the kids from Flowers in the Attic?    I don’t really know the answers to any of these questions but I do know this:  These kinds of studies just re-energize my commitment to eating whole, local and fresh foods.   As for everything else it really is kind of a crap shoot.   That is not to say I am going to run right out and by some rice formula for a baby, but for myself, I am quite certain that a bagel made of rice flour will still pass these lips and I am not about to alter the best gluten free baking mix ever for my sweet baked treats.   I will do some more in-depth research, but so far, the brown rice I buy, Bob’s Red Mill, has not been implicated in the arsenic explosion.  So at the end of the day, the lesson learned here is one we try to live by: Know what you eat and where it comes from.  Followed closely by: Something is going to get me.  I am happy to be informed and hope we continue to get this level of transparency when it comes to our food source, but am not going to sound the alarms and change my whole life.   Any other gfree folks or avid rice eaters?  Please share your thoughts or suggestions.  Happy Eating, Shopping and Ingredient reading.

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This is a great post from my friend Hannah.   If you are wanting some more honest facts about the ingredients in our food then this is a great article for you.  Now, I would not panic, I am fairly certain my daughter eats food with many of the ingredients listed here.  Like in all things, moderation is the key and at the very least, we all of the right to make fully informed decisions about the food we eat!!  For me, it’s another reason to go local and fresh as much as possible. Check out her blog and their farm’s website for more great info.  Top 15 Ingredients to Avoid

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Pictured below is a picture of one of my favorite go to dishes for dinner or brunch: Farmers Quiche. Essentially, it is a giant omelette fully loaded with whatever toppings make you happy. I adapted it from the plaid standard, Better Homes & Gardens. I start with some frozen shredded potatoes, shredded my own potatoes, and used tatertots , which I think are my favorite, and put them into a 9×13 baking dish. Cook up some toppings, bacon, Swiss chard, ham, sausage, onions, mushrooms, peppers, diced tomatoes, etc. Put the cooked toppings over the potatoes. Sprinkle about a cup of shredded cheese (whatever kind you like) then take a dozen eggs, beat them with some milk, salt and pepper. Pour it over the top of the casserole and bake uncovered in a 350 degree oven for 55 minutes or until firm and bubbly. Makes about 12 servings and at about 6 WW Points per serving it is a great dinner served with a salad and can become a great way to start the day in the morning. As clearly shown in my photo ( apparently the directions wait I have to take a picture fell in deaf ears) my family couldn’t wait to dig in. I haven’t tried it with egg whites replacing some of the whole eggs, but I imagine that would also be delicious!! Enjoy!!

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Today I made homemade Gluten Free bread in a bread machine. This is BIG news because there was a point in my Localvore/ homesteading career when I really believed that baking bread in a machine was cheating. I am not sure what contest I was in or who I thought was judging me, but I believed it nonetheless. Then I got the Gfree diagnosis. As it turns out Gfree bread dough is not the same. It’s sticky. It’s slimy and cannot be needed well by hand or dough hook. So when my hubs surprised me this Christmas with a breadmaker that has a Gluten Free setting I was excited but skeptical. I put the ingredients in looking over my shoulder for the French bread-bakers of Christmas past who might be rattling their whisks and rolling pins in anger. Surprisingly they did not show up, so I went on to hit the start button, do some laundry, talk to a friend, take a shower and pretty up for dinner at a friends’ house. Moments before we walked out the door the bread was done and on the cooling rack. Tomorrow, we will have fresh bread and clean laundry for breakfast which in the old ridiculous order would be impossible. The moral of this post? No-one is going to give you a medal for doing it by hand, so if you want fresh, delicious homemade bread, the bread-maker is the way to go, especially if you are gluten free!!

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This was our dinner tonight. Tomato sauce with spinach poured into a pan followed by some indentations for eggs and some microplaned cheddar. Baked at three fifty for 20 minutes and served over pasta or in a bowl with some lettuce. 5 WW points made with our local eggs and gluten free!! I meant to take a picture right out of the oven but was so hungry I forgot!! Happy Cooking!!

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Grades of Vermont maple syrup. From left to ri...

Image via Wikipedia

If you are one of those people who know maple syrup as the sticky thin stuff found in bottles featuring girls with braids or in the shape of a jolly looking grandmother, than you are missing out on North America’s Nectar of the Gods, pure Maple Syrup direct from the tree to the table.   And by “direct” I mean sap tapped from a tree, put through a rigorous and long boiling process to find it’s way onto my pancakes.  My yogurt.  My oatmeal.   Into my baked goods.  Into my tea and coffee.  Onto roasted carrots.  Into a glaze for bacon wrapped scallops and salmon.  Into a marinade for steak and chicken..well you get the picture.  In this house there is nothing a bottle of magical Maple Syrup cannot do.   It is worth EVERY PENNY.  Especially for this Farmgirl who has cut out all refined white sugar.   Without this gem of a sweetener I would be a very, very, very, sad and irrationally irritable panda.    The best thing about living in Vermont is that generally thinking you or someone you know will either produce or be related to someone who does produce this amazing sticky sweet goodness.  So whether you get your syrup fix from Vermont, NY, Maine, Canada or anywhere else that has the climate and the fauna for Maple production, if you have not tried the authentic product, there is no better time then the present.

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