Mini Gluten-Free Easter Baskets, Plus a Giveaway!

I just can’t seem to get this song out of my head…. Partly because my girls’ weekly piano lessons are today (and I’m thinking of teaching them a simpler version of this tune) and partly because I am so excited about these cute, little Easter basket treats we created a few days ago!  Gluten-free, of course!

One “replacement food” my family is thankful for is gluten-free ice cream cones, especially around holidays when it’s fun to create kid-friendly goodies with them. A local gourmet food shop owner started a gluten-free section in his store a few years ago, after he heard that my daughter and I were diagnosed with celiac. One of the products he started stocking (to my family’s delight) was Goldbaum’s gluten-free ice cream cones — both sugar cones and cake cones.

We’ve bought many boxes from his store — especially the sugar cones, which have always been our favorite. Besides just using them as normal ice cream cones, we often crush them up and mix them into our ice cream, along with chocolate sauce and nuts to get that “Nutty Buddy” flavor. We even gave two local ice cream shop owners the idea to buy a few boxes of Goldbaum’s cake cones to keep in stock in case of any gluten-free customers. To us, they literally taste just like regular ice cream cones. Goldbaum’s cones are just as tasty, crispy and sturdy as cones I remember eating when I was growing up. We wouldn’t change a thing about them…

Looking at the cake cone box (they call them “cups”) the other day, it just said “Easter baskets” to me. I could picture them in my mind, yet I had doubts about how I would pull off the handle. Thankfully everything came together just perfectly and it was a big success.

To make them, you will need:
– Goldbaum’s gluten-free cups (I call them cake cones)
– sugared gummy worms
– gluten-free frosting (we used Pillsbury)
– regular size marshmallows
– gluten-free jelly beans
– sweetened coconut
– food coloring

And here is how you make them…

The first thing you do (to make the shorter baskets shown above) is to take a sharp knife and cut off the top portion of the cone, so that it looks like the photo below. It doesn’t need to be perfect since the frosting and coconut will cover the edges… Then you pop a regular sized marshmallow inside the cone and tuck a sugared gummy worm in around the edges, as shown below. This gives you a surface to frost on and keeps the “handle” of the basket snugly in place…

After that, you just frost the top with vanilla frosting (plus a drop or two of food coloring) and then add coconut and three jelly beans. We made four different frosting colors and four matching coconut colors (sweetened coconut with a drop or two of food coloring mixed in) so they were coordinated.

We also discovered something fun afterwards, when we mixed the remaining coconut colors together: rainbow-colored coconut!  Here it is on a full-sized basket, without the top cut off, in case you choose to do it that way. (I just think the shorter ones look more proportional, plus you only need one marshmallow inside the cone). As you also may notice, the gummy worm’s pattern makes it look even more like a basket handle when the lined side is facing out like this:

Either way (short or tall) these Easter baskets are sure to be a hit — whether you make just a few for your family, or make a lot for a school party or church brunch. We kept them in an air-tight container and they tasted great even days later.

And now for the giveaway:  Goldbaum’s has generously agreed to send three, lucky, randomly-drawn winners the following prize: 1 box of sugar cones, 1 box of regular cone cups and a few other Goldbaum’s gluten-free products which will remain a mystery!

To enter, please leave a comment below, letting me know how you make Easter special for your g-free kid:  Do you re-make favorite recipes gluten-free? What special things do you put in their Easter baskets? How do you make sure they are included in the big family meal?  Any other ideas you can share?

Giveaway ends at midnight on Thursday, April 5th. Then the 3 winners have 48 hours to get back to me, otherwise new names will be chosen. U.S. Residents please. Good luck!

Now get out there and buy yourself some cones so you can make these baskets with your kids in time for Easter!  When you try them (you just have to — they are SO easy!) feel free to post a photo on my Facebook page. And in case you missed our Chocolate Peeps Eggshells and Muddy Bunnies, just click this link or see the post below this one.

Enjoy and Happy Easter everyone!  ~Katie

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Easter Treat Ideas: Super Simple and Gluten Free!

Ahh….Easter Sunday in the 70’s. Those were the days…Easter bonnets and dresses bought (or made) just for the big day — my whole family dressed in their finest duds. Even before church, my Dad would take home movies of us getting into our Easter baskets and devouring Peep after Peep, foil-wrapped chocolate eggs & jellybeans galore, without my Mom ever saying “That’s enough candy!” (That’s me on the right.) I can’t imagine letting my own kids get so sugared-up before church (for my own sanity) and I give my daughters a fraction of the candy my parents gave me for Easter, yet I still don’t see a problem with letting kids be kids and enjoying sugary treats once in a while. My family eats quite healthy most of the time, we get plenty of exercise, we take care of our teeth and we aren’t couch potatoes. Therefore, we don’t feel the least bit guilty indulging in making and eating these three yummy Easter treats together. And you shouldn’t either!  🙂 We call our first treat idea “Muddy Bunnies“. We’ve all seen chocolate-dipped Peeps, but we thought we’d take it a little further and have them sit in the middle of a pile of springtime mud (peanut clusters). All you do for this is melt chocolate in the microwave, mix in peanuts and drop clusters onto wax paper over a cookie sheet. Arrange the Peeps bunny in the middle and spoon some more chocolate around his bottom to make him part of the peanut cluster. Then add sprinkles and set the cookie sheet in the freezer to harden. We also thought they looked cute sitting in these cupcake liners: Our second idea we wanted to try was “Chocolate Peeps Eggshells“, which turned out to be our favorite. I originally saw the idea for chocolate ice cream shells here but I have no idea why it took me so long to try it. It was so easy! (Feel free to read that article for more details, but I simplified the process a lot, which I will explain below…)

To make these Chocolate Peeps Eggshells, you will need:
•  Melting chocolate
•  Peeps chicks
•  G-free sprinkles or nonpariels
•  Small balloons
•  Waxed paper

The first thing you do is to blow up & tie your balloons, rinse them with water, dry them and set aside. (We used water balloons without any problems, but I have read that a few other people have had issues with these and recommend small, regular balloons instead. It’s up to you.) Next, clear an area in your freezer to fit a small cookie sheet, then cover that cookie sheet with wax paper and set it back on your counter. In a small-to-medium sized microwaveable bowl (depending on how many of these you’re going to make) melt your chocolate. We aren’t big fans of white chocolate so we used milk chocolate melting disks. Clearly, white chocolate would make a more realistic-looking eggshell, if that is what you are after. We were just after taste! 🙂 Either way, you’ll want the melted chocolate to be a few inches deep so that you can cover your balloons up high enough. Once your chocolate is melted and cooled a bit, just dip each balloon in, tilting it around to cover the sides until you like how it looks. Then you just set it upright on the wax paper and toss some sprinkles on it. After they’re all dipped and sprinkled, just pop the cookie sheet into the freezer for a few minutes until they harden all the way. They will look something like this:

Then you can let your kids have fun popping the balloons! Below is Lindsey (with Morgan covering her ears) just before her needle popped the balloon… After it’s popped, you will find the shriveled up balloon in the bottom of the chocolate shell. Carefully peel the balloon away from the chocolate and you’ll be left with shells like this: Then all you do is pop a Peeps chick inside for your finished product. Another idea is to make these into birds’ nests by adding coconut underneath the chick. The third idea is very simple as well. We call these “Bunny Trail Pops” and we just felt like doing something different than our usual sprinkled chocolate marshmallows. We popped a stick into each marshmallow, dipped the bottom of it in chocolate, set it on waxed paper and stuck bunny candies into it, evenly with one of each color. Again, set it in the freezer to harden. These don’t even need sticks, and you can experiment with any type of g-free Easter candies… After they have all hardened in the freezer, all of these treats can be kept in airtight containers in your fridge til they’re gone — which won’t be long!    🙂  Enjoy!

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When gluten-free play (and dreams) become reality

“Welcome to the Chalmers Gluten Free Bakery and Restaurant. How can I help you?” was the most popular quote around our back yard playhouse this past fall. My daughters (both gluten-free) had set up their playhouse to play their pretend game, complete with menus, notebook & pen to take orders, and a whole slew of pretend plastic food and kitchenware.

One day I just had to take a break from my yard work to go play. I came to the “drive-thru” window around back, under the pine trees, and I asked, “Is everything here gluten-free?” and the both exclaimed,
“Of course!” like I was crazy or something for even asking.

In their pretend world, every luscious-looking baked good and “Happy Meal” is gluten-free — “where food always tastes good” as they wrote on their menu.

I love it. They came up with this game all on their own, which makes me love it even more. It’s so cool to see them having fun with gluten-free, and it’s great to see them taking pride in playing games like this. It is a wonderful sound to overhear your children just having fun imagining, creating, decorating, pretending…and dreaming — totally unplugged.

The first time I really remember them playing “gluten-free bakery” was Christmas 2010 when they received a bunch of pretend play food. The next day they had set up their play closet as a bakery (below) with a centerpiece, tables, menus and ice cream, too.

They invited their cousins over. They invited parents, grandparents and anyone else who visited our house. After a few weeks they moved on to something else, and the closet was transformed into some other kind of fort, but they sure enjoyed this game while it lasted.

Last month we were on vacation in the Orlando area and went, one day, to Downtown Disney, upon recommendations from some of the awesome Moms who have come together on my Facebook page. They had told me about BabyCakes being there — an all gluten-free bakery. (In fact, I believe most everything they offered was gluten-free, plus dairy-free, egg-free and soy-free). You can imagine how excited my girls were to see this place. I’ll admit: I had them expecting a little too much (I had said we’d be walking into a big bakery and they’d be able pick out whatever they wanted) but they were still super excited to even see a small all-gluten-free bakery in the corner of a restaurant.

We each picked out a dessert and took it “to go” to eat after our lunch at T-Rex Restaurant next door. It was hard to wait (and our to-go box was opened repeatedly for sniffing noses and sneaky licking fingers) but we thoroughly enjoyed everything. Morgan chose a lemon-frosted cupcake, Lindsey picked a mint-frosted brownie cupcake and I decided on a cookie sandwich (2 large, thin chocolate chip cookies with frosting in between). Besides the goodies shown below, there was another area with banana breads, donuts, and other sweet treats. They had never seen so many gluten-free goodies together in one place before and you could tell that they thought it was a very cool place.

Since that vacation, their gluten-free bakery has been re-established in the playhouse since we’ve been having an unseasonably warm Spring. It’s much the same except for a new sign, menu and decorations. It’s wonderful how some things just never get old!
Has your g-free kid had any gluten-free dreams become reality? Are you lucky enough to live near one of these all-gluten-free bakeries?  As always, feel free to post a picture on my Facebook page and/or comment below. Thanks!

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Raising Awareness with Team Gluten Free: Inspiration from a Fellow G-Free Mom

•  •  Team Gluten Free and How it Works  •  •

One of the best parts of starting this website is all of the amazing Moms I have met online so far. Many parents have already emailed me photos of their children for the online photo album of g-free kids, and, along the way, one-on-one conversations have sprung up between a handful of Moms and me. These women all have stories to tell about their child’s diagnosis and experience, and always seem inspired to help spread the word about gluten-free issues. You can just tell that they are wonderful advocates for their gluten-free kids and outspoken ambassadors of gluten-free living — which is the best kind of Mom a g-free kid can have!

One of these Moms is Kimberly Woody (pictured here on the left.) In one of her emails, she mentioned that she ran a race for Team Gluten Free, and, after hearing about her experience, I asked if she’d be willing to share.

What she had to say:

“Team Gluten Free: It’s REALLY cool and very easy to use. Since there are very few organized races dedicated solely to raising funds for Celiac disease (I only know of Making Tracks for Celiacs) this is a great way to organize small teams within other races. (Especially if you don’t live near a Making Tracks for Celiacs annual race.)

The process is so simple. You sign up ($25) and receive a t-shirt to wear on race day. I also purchased several more for family members, spectators and my running partner. Not every participant needs to buy a shirt, though. It just looks cohesive and the bright color attracts attention — plus all proceeds from
the shirts go towards fundraising. What is even better is that once you buy the shirt you are free to register for as many races as you like, at no additional charge. You simply email them and they will reset your fundraising goal and you’re off! (As long as you still have the shirt.)

In addition, you have access to this GREAT website – you can click my personal link to see how it looks. It’s VERY simple to set up and allows for secure credit card transactions. Online you can track donations, develop/organize mailing lists, etc. I think the site looks great and required little effort on my part!
You can either organize a team or just set it up as an individual. I did not register each person, as the bulk of the fundraising was done by me.

Our first Team Gluten Free experience:

The race we ran in was the Atlanta 13.1 on October 2nd, 2011. It was an incredible day.
My daughters and their grandmother competed
in the 5-K while I ran the half marathon. During
the run I was literally answering questions the whole race. I love this because the more we talk about Celiac the more the myths and misinformation subside. The shirt is a  real conversation piece. So even though I plan to raise money in one race per year, I always wear my shirt in other races.

I think the program is TERRIFIC and would love to see more people get involved. It’s wonderful bonding for the family, good exercise, and, great for awareness — since you will be bombarded with questions. Especially when people see the little runners! I really felt like we did some good that day. It’s so easy! AND it’s a great excuse to get out there and exercise with your family!”

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• Want to learn more?     • Where does all the money go?

(From their website):
Team Gluten-Free™ is a fundraising program that provides a simple way for runners, walkers, cyclists and triathletes to raise awareness and funds for Celiac disease.
The money raised by Team Gluten-Free™ participants goes directly towards summer camp scholarships for children on the gluten-free diet as well as Celiac disease research, support and awareness programs. Team Gluten-Free™ is a fundraising arm of the Celiac Disease Foundation, a 501 (c)(3) non-profit, public benefit corporation dedicated to the education of patients, families and health care professionals.

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Help inspire others!  This is the first post (Thanks Kimberly!) in a new series called “Inspiration from a Fellow G-Free Mom”, although I’d love to receive information from Dads and other supporters as well.  🙂  If you would like to submit an article and photos of how YOU spread awareness, please email me at kachalmers2@gmail.com.  It’s up to you which information you would like to be made public, and I can send a preview for you to check before I post anything online.


As we like to say,
“Celiac disease isn’t contagious,
but awareness is.
Please help spread it!”

Come back soon to learn how to get involved in Making Tracks for Celiacs. Thanks! ~Katie

Cupcake templates: a mini giveaway for your gluten-free kid, plus a fun awareness idea!

A few months ago I picked up a handful of “baking templates” which I had found at a local Michael’s store. Since most of us are making gluten-free cupcakes for our g-free kids, I figured we could all use something new to decorate them with…

Does your g-free kid love cupcakes? Are you looking for a way to help spread awareness? Then here is the perfect answer: host a cupcake party!  The National Foundation for Celiac Awareness (NFCA) and Pamela’s Products have collaborated on this idea, so find out more, be inspired and get out there and make a difference!

Decorating cupcakes with these templates is something your g-free kid can definitely help with. She can begin by holding the template flat while you show her how to sprinkle in the sugar (or nonpariels) evenly to fill up the template. Then, once she understands how it works, you can hold the template while she does the sprinkling. Wait until you see her pride and excitement when you take the template off and show her the final shape!

Tips: these templates work best on flat frosted surfaces, so if your cupcake it too rounded on top, slice off some of the cake part to make it flatter. Then put your frosting on as flat as you can, with more around the edges to build a more even surface. Also,
try these on frosted brownies, cookie cakes or regular cakes.

7 lucky winners will receive (for their g-free kids) a set of 3 different cupcake templates as shown in the first photo above, along with a personalized note from a children’s book author and illustrator. (me)  🙂

I like to keep my giveaways simple by just requiring a comment below (instead of making you “like” me on Facebook and twitter for extra entries). However, I would appreciate more followers on social media (this will only help this site get bigger and better) and for you to help me spread the word about gfreekid.com. So, if you like what you see here, please tell people about it. Thanks!  🙂

That being said, this giveaway is still simple:  All you have to do is comment below, answering these questions: What does your family do to help spread awareness, and which cupcake or cake mix/brand/recipe is your favorite?

Giveaway will end Monday, March 19th at midnight. Winners will be randomly chosen and emailed with notification. If I don’t hear back within 48 hours, other winners will be chosen to replace them. GOOD LUCK!  🙂   -Katie

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Dublin Dragonflies, County Cork Cake Pops, Lil’ Leprechauns and Emerald Isle Cakes

It’s St. Patrick’s Day week….a busy one for families like mine who have Irish dancers jigging their way through shows well past the upcoming weekend. But as the luck of
the Irish may have it — there’s still time to make some festive green treats with your
g-free kids!

In my previous post, I shared some healthier ideas such as a veggie platter in the shape/colors of the Irish flag, and shamrock-shaped pizzas. Before I get to the naughty treats, let me share one more, which my girls call “Dublin Dragonflies.” They aren’t big raisin fans (think “ants on a log”) so I used Snyder’s gluten-free mini pretzels for wings and peanut m&m’s for eyes. If your celery is too narrow, just use plain m&m’s.

My girls enjoy being able to help make these (I just spread the PB as they aren’t very adept at that yet) and they add the other stuff. Those with nut allergies can just substitute Sunbutter and use chocolate chips for eyes.

Okay, on to the naughty treat ideas…

I attempted to make “County Cork Cake Pops” for the first time last week. (What can I say? Part of the fun of making new things is coming up with fun names for them!)  Here are some finished examples:

Allow me to give you the following tips, as cake pops are not quite as simple as they say…
(1) Don’t make the balls too big. Once you dip them in the candy coating, it makes them heavy. The weight makes the whole ball slide down the stick so that the stick pops right through the top. Go for a small, super-ball size.
(2) Melt a lot of candy coating…don’t skimp or you’ll be melting it again halfway through the dipping process.
(3) Improvise. If all else fails, make something up. After too many sticks poked up through the top, I tried “blocking” the sticks with these mint nonpariel candies I had. My girls
said they looked like hats so we stuck a few other candies on and called them our
“Lil’ Leprechauns”…

(“Lil” as in “too little to grow beards” even though the truth was “mommy didn’t feel like making beards.”) For those of you Moms out there who are willing to take these leprechauns a lot further than I did: go for it — I could see someone adding candy hair, a beard, more detailed features, etc. I, personally, don’t have the patience or motivation. Especially since my girls thought they were cute enough even at this stage.  🙂

In fact, for those extra-motivated Moms: I was about to post this when I saw other “leprechaun pops” come across Facebook: much fancier than mine, from the ultra-creative Jill over at Kitchen Fun With My 3 Sons. So, knock yourselves out!

(4) Another idea is to try them without sticks. They’re easier to make and eat that way anyhow! We’re calling them “Emerald Isle Cakes” but it’s another thing you can take further than I did…

Can’t you see them as leprechauns’ pots of gold?  Maybe yellow m&m’s for the gold or rainbow nonpariels for the treasure? And shape the cake a little more so it looks like a pot? See what ideas your child comes up with for these little cuties…

These cake balls also easier for kids to help with than cake pops. After these had hardened, I called my girls back down to hold them so you could see their size here.
(They were playing “rock star” or something at the time so excuse the get-ups.)

For both the cake pops and cake balls, all I did was to mush together what was left of a frosted vanilla cake (about 2/3 of it) from a party the day before. The cake was made with Betty Crocker Gluten Free Yellow Cake mix and Pillsbury vanilla frosting. I didn’t add anything else. Let your kids mush up the cake, roll into tight little balls, then cover with candy coating. I used Make n’ Mold candy wafers for the coating.

If you would like to follow more detailed instructions & tips, here are a few helpful links, which I didn’t see until after I had already “winged it”:

Last, but not least, I want to share (again) this gluten-free coloring page I created for your g-free kid to enjoy. (Print from the link — not from the preview below.)Have you tried anything from my three St. Patty’s Day posts?  If so, please feel free to upload a picture of your child with his or her finished product on my Facebook wall!
I would love to see it!

In case you missed it, check out these sweet & salty treats for St. Patty’s Day,
and be sure you see the photo album of g-free kids and g-free kids’ stuff page.
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Simple St. Patrick’s Day ideas and coloring page for gluten-free kids

March is always a busy month for our family — especially since my daughters are Irish dancers. So far they are scheduled for 13 shows this month, on top of everything else life brings. Thankfully we all love it and seeing them do their 2-hand reel never ceases to bring tears to my eyes…

Despite the crazy schedule, we like to scatter little St. Patrick’s Day treats and symbols throughout the month, just like we do for Valentine’s Day in February. There are far too many fun things to do with those holidays, than to limit it all to just one day each month.

With this first idea (which is nothing original, I’m sure) I just arranged green, white and orange veggies in the shape and color order of the Irish flag. I used snap peas, broccoli, cauliflower, orange peppers and baby carrots. The subtlety of this idea may be lost on little ones, so a mini Irish flag (we made this one w/ markers, paper and a toothpick) helps make the connection.

Another simple idea just involves cutting already-baked, g-free pizza (we use Chebe for the crust) into shamrock shapes with a cookie cutter… what could be easier?

For the pizza below, I arranged Hormel mini pepperoni in the shapes of shamrocks all over the top of the (Chebe crust) pizza. Just watch that your cheese doesn’t get too over-cooked and dark, or your shamrocks won’t stand out enough.

Next I’ve created a gluten-free coloring page for your g-free kid to enjoy. Please fee free to post a picture of your child with his or her finished coloring page on my Facebook wall!

Here are some other crafty, fun things to do for St. Patrick’s Day:

And to close, here is an Irish blessing — heavily modified, by me, from one found here

“May you have gluten-free bread to do you good,
Gluten-free bread to sweeten your blood,
Gluten-free bread to do you no harm
And gluten-free bread to strengthen your arm.”

Happy St. Patrick’s Day everyone!
More sweet, green ideas coming very soon!

In case you missed it, check out these sweet & salty treats for St. Patty’s Day,
and be sure you see the photo album of g-free kids and g-free kids’ stuff page.
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