Our family has been living gluten-free due to Celiac Disease for over 6 years. Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye, barley, and very similar to the protein found in outs. This means that any food needs to be made specially – bread, pasta, cake, pizza crust, pretzels, cookies, etc. Finding the Betty Crocker gluten-free mixes was a wonderful surprise!
Over the past 6 years there has been a huge increase in availability of gluten-free products, but most of the GF products have been found in the health food aisle of the grocery store or in a specialty store.
However, gluten-free products are becoming more mainstream as the number of people diagnosed with celiac disease rises, as well as the number of people living gluten-free for other reasons. Last summer, General Mills introduced a new, gluten-free formulation of Rice Chex (they changed the sweetener from barley malt to another sweetener). In addition to becoming more mainstream, gluten-free products are becoming much more commonly available and found in most grocery stores.
One of my friends who is not on a restricted diet (and therefore actually looks at the boxed cake mixes) noticed the Betty Crocker GF mixes while doing her weekly shopping. So, the next time I was shopping, I picked up the Betty Crocker Gluten Free Devil’s Food Cake Mix. The ingredients* are free of gluten, dairy, and eggs, but they have a “may contain soy” warning, which is somewhat disappointing – there are a lot of people who are sensitive to gluten, dairy, and soy. However, the package is labelled gluten free, and the packages have also been labelled as being produced in a GF facility – which means it is unlikely that any gluten flour could end up in the gluten-free mix. The package is also labelled as Kosher pareve (no dairy or meat products per Jewish law)
I made our cake with real eggs (the instructions call for 3 eggs), 1 stick (1/2 cup) dairy-free margarine in place of butter, and water. I followed the directions for a 9″ round cake and ended up with a wonderful and moist cake.
The cake rose well and was moist, fluffy, and delicious. We frosted it with a delicious and fluffy chocolate frosting, and then sprinkled candied violets on top. We brought the cake to my Nana’s 87th birthday lunch, and none of the people there would have guessed it was gluten-free if nothing had been said. Unlike a lot of gluten free flours, the rice flour in the Betty Crocker Gluten Free Devil’s Food Cake Mix is not gritty.
My one criticism is that the folks at General Mills/Betty Crocker chose to use rice four rather than a more nutrient rich flour. However, a cake is a treat, not a dietary mainstay, so that’s a minor complaint. The price is in the $3.50-$4 range, higher than the gluten-containing mixes, but lower than many other gluten-free mixes.
Betty Crocker Gluten Free Devil’s Food Cake Mix Ingredients: sugar, rice flour, potato starch, cocoa processed with alkali, tapioca starch, leavening (baking soda, sodium acid pyrophosphate, monocalcium phosphate), salt, guar gum.
Betty Crocker Gluten Free Yellow Cake Mix Ingredients: sugar, rice flour, potato starch, leavening (baking soda, sodium acid pyrophosphate, monocalcium phosphate), xanthan gum, salt.
We’ll be trying the Betty Crocker Gluten Free Yellow Cake Mix soon, as I picked up a box of that too. General Mills is also selling Betty Crocker Gluten Free Brownie Mix and Betty Crocker Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Cookie Mix
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Product and book reviews are on hold for now. Life happens.
I am sorry for the inconvenience, but hope you will find an archived review useful.
If you are looking for more from us, we are updating A Gaggle of Girls main blog and Rachel’s Recipe box.
Mom Central is working with American Standard to run a contest for parents in the Boston area – you can win an American Standard heating & AC system with Accuclean.
Why, you ask? Because no matter how clean your house is, the air is recirculated, and indoor air is more polluted than outdoor air. If you’re in the greater Boston area, you could win a heating/ac system that would help clean the air inside your house, which could reduce indoor allergies and asthma issues. Without chemicals that could trigger other allergies, even!
What I really like about this giveaway is that the two companies are working together to create a Boston indoor air support site that will give you tips, tricks, and ideas on how to keep the air in your home clean. I’m really impressed with the work that went into the survey, site, and that they are running such a big give-away. We don’t have any indoor allergies nor any environmental allergies, but I would love to have central AC!
If you live in the greater Boston area, go enter the contest, and even if you don’t, go visit the Boston indoor air support site, and learn more about how to keep your house and kids safer from environmental and indoor allergens and pollution.
My reading choices vary by mood – some days I might want a suspenseful novel, and others a romance. Sometimes a mystery will hit the spot, and others a chick lit novel is more to my taste. If you are in the market for a novel that will lift your spirits without being saccharine sweet, pick up Earthly Pleasures, a new novel by Karen Neches. Earthly Pleasures will enchant you with its storyline about the inhabitants of heaven, but you’ll keep turning the pages to see how the romantic storyline unfolds.
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As the recession spreads, more and more people are affected. Town budgets have been slashed, and just as teachers need to buy some of their own supplies when the town gives them a smaller budget, the same is true for police officers. LA Police Gear has clothing, high-powered flashlights, holsters, and even a closeouts section!
I laughed when I found out that the Supreme Court justices provided their own robes, but they are paid handsomely for their service to our country. It’s not funny to me that the people who protect us for much less pay have to buy their own clothing, such as tactical pants. I wish they could receive multiple uniforms from their department budget, but if that’s not possible, it’s great that there are companies out there who take their jobs seriously, and provide high-quality uniforms for less than the usual retail price.
If you’re in the market for police gear, whether it’s because your department’s budget has been cut or just because you like to wear police clothes to your civilian job, definitely check out the selections at LA Police Gear. If you are buying for your police department or the military, they are set up for purchase orders, too.
We have teamed up with the and the Parent Bloggers NetworkDiscovery Channel Store on two prior occasions, reviewing Paz’s liftoff rocket and the game Rapelli. Both products were big hits in this house, and continue to be well-loved. Our newest collaboration is for the Solar Science Lab, a kit for children which explores different methods of harnessing the sun’s energy.
My girls, like many other children today, are very interested in saving energy and keeping the earth clean. Solar energy is a renewable resource, and one that doesn’t pollute the earth; it’s something the girls and their friends want to learn more about. My daughters also have a love of science, so the Solar Science Lab is a perfect fit for our family. Add in that the Solar Science Lab includes all the scientific equipment you will need
When introducing solar energy to children, the Solar Science Lab discusses different sources of energy – renewable and non-renewable. Within the context of solar energy, they differentiate between direct solar energy, such as what will be used for experiments in this lab, and indirect solar energy, which uses energy collected in plants through photosynthesis (ie: burning wood and converted into ethanol).
While the Solar Science Lab is aimed at kids 8+ and 3rd grade +, our homeschooling coop of kids ages 4-11 really enjoyed the activities! There is a great mix of very quick and easy experiments, as well as more involved experiments – from looking at how light changes through colored lenses to burning feathers. Some experiments require more set-up time and household items that aren’t included in the box, but many are easy to set up with just the contents.
I am really happy with the Solar Science Lab, and found this to be a great way of mixing science and ecological awareness, and in a way that is fun and engaging. The girls and I had so much fun with this kit, as did their friends. My only complaint is that some of the paper and cardboard pieces aren’t as sturdy as I would like for long-term use. This is balanced by there being a solar cell, thermometer, and other very sturdy pieces, however. If you’re looking for a fun and affordable way of introducing your kids to solar energy, this is a must-buy.
This week marks my first trip away from my daughters. I have come to stay with my grandmother and her husband to help them as she starts recovering from her stroke. Her prognosis looks good, but every difference between “before” and “after” is difficult.
This is both one of the hardest things I’ve done and one of the easiest choices I’ve ever made. I am torn between my children and my grandmother, but being here feels very right. My heart is full.
Internet connectivity is spotty, as is email, but I’ll be back on Monday with book reviews, reviews of some new Gluten-Free/Dairy-Free products, recipes, a review of a Solar Science lab, and more random musings.
Meanwhile, if you’re looking to stock up on cool t-shirts for the summer, UneeTee is having a big sale, all t’s are $13 through June 1. The Summer-themed shirt.woot winners will be on sale Friday, Saturday, and Sunday starting at midnight Central time. You can get more than 20 shirts from their Reckoning List for $15, but the shirt of the day is $10 – shipped!
I’ve written several times about the fabulous books by Katie MacAlister. If you’ve been waiting for something great to read, don’t wait any longer – Katie has a started a new series! If you liked the Aisling Grey Guardian Series, starting with You Slay Me, the Silver Dragon series will pull you in quickly, as it is a spin-off of that. We’ve seen Gabriel, the leader (wyvern) Silver Dragons before, and we see him in new lights and shadows in Playing with Fire (Silver Dragons, Book 1).
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We are a family which loves to play games. Card games, board games, outside games, and other games that seem to defy description. When Parent Bloggers Network was looking for someone to test the Discovery Store game Rapelli, we were happy to give it a try. The Rapelli Game is a 15 minute game which is part of the Discovery Store’s new line of bamboo products, and is designed for kids ages 4+.
Bamboo is a renewable resource which has become popular for creating everything from sheets to flooring. Bamboo grows and matures quickly, making it easy to harvest and then plant another crop, unlike slow-growing trees. Bamboo’s versatility is well-utilized in Rapelli, the pieces are multi-sectioned caterpillars, dice, and a cylinder, all of which look just like wood. Discovery has a pop-up window which explains more about their eco-friendly products, the natural materials, and environmental sustainability. Usually the consumer is torn between wood, which is natural but requires cutting down trees, and plastic, which could contain any number of chemicals, but doesn’t use up the forests. Bamboo offers a third choice which combines the benefits of both, without the negatives of either. Bamboo grows well in China, and the Discovery Store collection of bamboo toys are made in China in conjunction with several agencies.
The set-up for Rapelli takes only a few moments, the two halves of the cylinder snap together, and then the 18 caterpillars get stuck into the cylinder. The directions are easily understood – choose 2 or 3 caterpillar colors (2 if 4-6 players, 3 if the game has 2 players) to be yours for the game, then roll the dice, and follow the directions on the dice. First, find a caterpillar that matches the color on the first die, then either pull it out or push it in 1-3 segments based on the arrows on the second die. Your goal is to collect as many caterpillars of “your” colors as possible. If having players choose colors and sharing colors becomes confusing for some children, you can instead play with the goal of collecting the most caterpillars regardless of color.
We brought Rapelli to our homeschooling coop a few times, and it was enjoyed by the pack of 4-5 year olds there, in addition to being enjoyed by our family. When our family played, we followed the original directions, and while that was fun, there were certain individuals who had a hard time with the idea that their chosen color was someone else’s chosen color as well. So, when there were four 4-5 year olds playing, I tried using a variation on the directions, just collecting whichever caterpillars you could pull out. This worked much better for that age group, and while no one was happy to lose, there were fewer tears.
I am very impressed with the quality of the materials used in Rapelli, as well as the thought behind the choice of using bamboo. The game itself is fun, but several kids were confused by “pick a color” and then rolling the dice and having a color they didn’t choose appear on the die. However, once we made “house rules”, the game went smoothly, and was chosen frequently. There are 22 pieces in Rapelli, and 20 of them are relatively small, so it isn’t a game for chewers, babies, or people who always lose pieces.
I knew Rapelli was a hit when there was a chorus of “not fair!” when we had to start picking up at the end of coop. While the box says ages 4-99, it was enjoyed most by the 4-6 year olds, and they enjoyed it a lot. A combination of eco-friendly, well-made, lovely, and fun make Rapelli a winner here!
We thank Parent Bloggers Network for the opportunity to review the Discovery Store game Rapelli, We give it 4 spotlights out of 5, as the original directions were very brief and confusing to the kids, though the game was lovely enough to inspire creating “house rules”.
(This entry would usually have some great pictures of the kids playing the game, but unfortunately my camera broke)
Spring and Summer have arrived, so it’s time to break out the outdoor games! Gamewright has been our favorite source for games for the past year and a half, and with its new releases, it looks like that trend will continue. (and not just because they send us games for review!) We spend the winter (and evenings) playing games from Gamewright, so it is only fitting that we are playing one of their new games, Boochie, outside!
Boochie is a game that reminds me a bit of horseshoes, a bit of bocce, and a bit of Calvinball (games with rules made up on the spot by kids). The game is designed for children 8 and up, but my 4 1/2 year old was able to play it reasonably well, and it was fun for all of us. Unfortunately, the game is designed for four players andwe have 5 people in our family, but you can play in teams, or have one person be the judge/scorer.
The rules of Boochie are pretty simple. Every player has a wrist counter, a ball, and a hoop of the same color. Someone tosses the large, multi-faceted ball, then each player tosses their ring and their ball towards the multi-faceted ball.
For scoring, there are points awarded for being closest to the Boochie ball, and for being farthest away. The ball itself has scoring that changes each time you toss it – you never know what bonus scoring you’ll get! Once you’ve noted your points on your wrist counter, you go back to the line to toss again. Only now the wrist counter has some new trick for you – can you throw laying down? on your knees? under your leg? with the opposite hand? Everyone will be challenged!
Our family has really enjoyed our games of Boochie. They were fun, and competitive in a way that continued the fun rather than making someone thing they weren’t going to win, so they should give up. Boochie will be a great beach game this summer, and it’s a great game for spring when you’re starting to enjoy going outside again. We give it 5 spotlights out of 5, and are looking forward to playing it again soon (after Daddy mows the lawn).