Monday, August 24, 2015

Granola Bars Gluten Free

A feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore-Gluten-Free Traveling.

You wake to a feeling of pressure on your body, head tilted at an impossible angle. Screeching, grating sounds of metal on metal start your heart racing. Disoriented by pinpointed beams of lights in space, you glance around. A tightness around your waist prevents standing to search out the cause.  Ears full of pressure rapidly increasing, unable to hear, unable to move. Mouth feels cottony, tongue dry.
Swallowing, the pressure changes gradually diminishes, the swooshing sounds reach a crescendo.  Then a disembodied voice echos, “This is your captain speaking, the weather’s fine- 70 degrees and sunny.  We should be landing in 10 minutes, to your left is the skyline of New York.”
Glancing to my left, I see the array of tall buildings that make up the New York Skyline, so familiar even after a decade plus away, the Woolworth, Chrysler, Empire State, the gap in downtown of a couple no longer there.
Feeling a bit like Dorothy, there’s no place like home, I turn to wake my daughter to show her the view.  She is already mesmerized, starting to pepper me with questions.
“What’s that bridge?     The Bayonne.
And that one?     The Verrazano.
What is out in the distance?     Brooklyn.
So big, Mom, Didn’t you live there?      Yup, see that little steeple, down there to the right, just past the warehouses on the water front, that is Greenpoint.
I lived just down the street from that church. In the warehouse. Remember the story?
When you and Christopher lived downstairs from the air conditioning company and created a home from their loading dock? where your cat caught a mouse in the middle of your New Year’s Eve party?  I remember.
And over there, behind those Lego looking buildings, way out in the center. That is Bedford-Stuyvesant.  That is where we had the brownstone.
Where you were the only white family for blocks?      Yup, that’s the place, the safest neighborhood I ever lived in.  Never even had my car broken into.
Is that where you lived when he died? Yes, honey, but let’s not tell that story right now, OK?”
Sometimes you can return.
This isn’t my first visit back to New York City since I left to go to medical school.  Family lives here after all, with all the requirements of blood that demand appearances for holidays.
It is just the first time I’ve visited in spring since we left.  The first time our daughters can walk the streets without feeling that icy wind cut through their clothes.
The first time to expand where we go, walking the city, checking out museums, special sights, eating along the way. Guided by references from Percy Jackson and Pushcart Wars, books the girls have read in school, help set the itinerary.
Oh yeah, school.  You would think that school isn’t over yet for the year, so why are we yanking the girls out for a week?  Closing our clinic, putting the dog in a kennel and flying cross country.  Must be something important, right?
Well, if you have been following me on Facebook, you already know.

My sister got married! Thank you very much, 
To an amazing guy who makes her just glow, Manny.
So we get to come east, in good weather, for a visit culminating in a celebration of life, love and moving on.
The clan has gathered, from Bellingham, Seattle and Jacksonville, from New Jersey and Connecticut. Virtually from Virginia, darn those scheduling conflicts.
We will celebrate the marriage of two adults who have re-found love.
Visiting with Grandmom, too. Ed and I were lucky to meet in New York, get married ourselves here. Want to read about it? Just check out the wedding of the week circa 1995.
New York truly holds a big place in my heart, I want that for our daughters too.
I want them to experience just a bit of the joy I knew, living and thriving in the City that Never Sleeps.
They can skip the sorrows for a while.
The eating along the way does mean a bit of preparation.  What do you do for real food when you travel?  Even better, how do you protect yourself from exposure to gluten?
It starts with the choice of airplane food.  Since our flight was food-less, we packed our own.
Gluten-Free Granola Bars
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 48 bars 2x4 inches
  • ½ cup butter, melted (one stick)
  • ¾ cup brown sugar
  • ½ cup honey
  • 12 oz almond butter
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 5 ½ cups gluten-free rolled oats
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1½ cups dried fruits of your choice
  • 1½ cups chopped nuts
  • ½ cup coconut (optional)
  • 6 oz M&M’s (optional)
  1. Place melted butter in a large bowl. With wooden spoon, stir in brown sugar, honey and almond butter.
  2. Add one cup of oats and stir well. Stir in baking soda, fruits, nuts, coconut.
  3. Add eggs and stir until the batter is just mixed.
  4. Add the remaining oats, one cup at a time, stirring after each addition. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and chill overnight.
  5. Preheat oven to 300°F.
  6. Flatten onto 2 cookie sheets, well greased or lined with parchment paper. Make sure it is spread evenly.
  7. Bake for 10 minutes, rotate pans both up and down and around.
  8. Bake an additional 10 minutes. Watch the bars carefully, as they burn easily.
  9. Turn off oven and let the bars sit till cooled completely
allowing the dough to rest makes the granola bars stay together better. If I have room in my fridge, I just lay it out on the pans once the batter is mixed. Feel free to use coconut oil in place of the butter for dairy free bars

rich in almonds, dried fruit, and some dark chocolate M&Ms,homemade organic beef jerky(which just doesn’t photograph well), canned dolmas (rice stuffed grape leaves with lemon sauce) and organic apples.
Simple, not to hard to do and stable. No need for refrigeration.  A meal on the go.
So nice to not have to settle for airport food, although in a pinch a baked potato and side salad from Wendy’s will do to quench those hunger pangs.  Just avoid the silly margarine.  Wendy’s never puts croutons on the side salads.
Once we got through security, we all filled our metal water bottles from the fountain to bring on the plane.  You never seem to get enough water on the plane to prevent dehydration unless you pack your own. For lots more travel tips, check out my Packing Light post.
Southwest is a fabulous airline for gluten-free people. you get 2 bags of checked luggage per person without baggage fees.  That means you can bring along foods that you know are gluten-free without having to find them when you get there.
In our family’s case, we were traveling for a week, staying with my brother and Grandmom before ending up with my sister for the night before the wedding.
I controlled myself well, only bringing along my sourdough makings since I promised to make the wedding morning breakfast.  I wanted to give the sourdough culture to my brother and sister as well. They aren’t completely gluten-free but want to try it out.
I know many of you readers would like to volunteer as well to try it out.
I am in the midst of talking to one of the large flour producers. They have expressed interest in the sourdough flour mixture so I just can’t release the recipe yet.
Watch my facebook page or here and I will let you know when I teach gluten-free sourdough classes.
Since I didn’t pack food, what did we do?
We punted, making our best choices from what was available, searching for real foods as we experienced the cacophony of NYC.
Our visit to the Guggenheim on a rainy day meant searching for a snack from street vendors.  Lucky for us, there was a candied nut maker nearby.  Almonds and sugar are pretty basic, maybe not as nutritious as I might otherwise desire but fun all the same.
Wish they could use organic cane sugar but the cost difference is still too great. Warm right from the pan, scrumptious!
Then we rode the #6 train downtown to Spring Street.  We wandered down Mulberry Street into the heart of Little Italy.  Lots of options for real food there as our noses told us, from scallopine to cannolis but very little gluten-free food.
So we wandered and enjoyed the street fun, listened to the peculiar accent of New York crossed with Italian, getting wetter by the step since the rain had changed from drizzle to downpour.  The girls enjoyed buying umbrellas from a lovely Chinese woman on the street, enthusiastic about seeing everything, even if it meant squishy shoes.
We crossed Canal Street and entered Chinatown.  Loved how the sights became vast spreads of fish, fruits and street signs in Chinese and English. The scents morphed to lychees, mango, and exotic durian.
Up ahead, one of our favorite signs. Pho! In this case it was Pho Tai Bo.
Steaming bowls of fine rice noodles, topped with thinly shaved raw slices of eye round, then clear hot beef broth seasoned with cinnamon sticks, cloves, coriander pods, star anise and cardamom poured over the whole thing.  The beef cooked gently from the boiling broth, releasing all its meaty juices into the mix.
On the table were crunchy bean sprouts, Thai basil and lemon to pile and squeeze on top. The lemon was a bit different,  lime far more common, but it added a nuance of heightened acidity. Fish sauce can adjust the depth of saltiness without concern about gluten.
We have never been glutened by Vietnamese food when we’ve asked about whether they use regular soy sauce.  Traditional soup recipes like this one use fish sauce for seasoning. The rest of the soup is naturally gluten-free, perfect for when you’re soaking wet and want warm nourishment.
Like any other meal eaten out, we finished it off with Glutenzyme.  We use glutenzyme any time we have done our due diligence, checking with the kitchen about gluten exposures and avoiding all gluten-full items.  This is our insurance policy.  It breaks down the gluten protein in the stomach preventing the intact protein from reaching the intestine.
We never use it to enable an indiscretion, just as backup against cross contamination
This was such a fun time, we even dried out a bit.  Then we had a fabulous time walking over to Economy Candy on Rivington for a sweet treat. It is an old store (1937) that has candy reaching from floor to 20 foot ceilings.
Every kind of candies stretching from almost floor height to the ceiling, ranging through the textures of hard to chocolates that are gluten-free, just watch out for barley malt syrup and wheat starch.  The concerns that are batted about concerning maltodextrin and glucose syrup have been disproven at least for domestically sourced. Our girls got a real kick out of this sign in the window.

Then it was time to take the bus back uptown to our car, and on to Grandmom.

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