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Gluten Free Fitness


Baked Chicken ideas


We eat a lot of poultry. I’ve mentioned before my fear of sprouting feathers and clucking.

There was recently a Twitter discussion about eating chicken-and Sandra of the Gluten Free Optimist (aka Maryland Celiac) mentioned her need for more ideas for baked chicken. And a dislike of Italian Dressing, BBQ, sour cream, and mushrooms. (Did I get them all? I hope so!)

So consider this the baked-chicken-with-none-of-those-ingredients “not really a recipe.”

Baked chicken

When it comes to baking (or roasting) chicken, there are 3 basic methods I use. The first is marinades, the second rubs, and the third just seasoning prior to tossing them in the oven. I generally use boneless skinless chicken breast, as I enjoy the lean protein and ease. I am also very fortunate to have a local market where I can get boneless skinless chicken breasts in a family pack size for $1.49/lb. You could of course always use skinless boneless chicken thighs as well, and I have a suggestion for bone-in and skin on chicken breast at the end of this post.


Marinades are time intensive, but not labor intensive. It does require a bit of pre-planning to allow to meat enough time to sit in the marinade, get tenderized and absorb all that flavor. Allow at least an hour to marinade, several hours would be better. I have even (accidentally) allowed chicken to marinade for almost 24 hours, and it was OK. I would not recommend that though, as the chicken can get very mushy and kind of gross as the acids in the marinade break it down more than you want it to. I tend to use zip-top plastic bags to make the marinade, then add the chicken and squish it all around so it is evenly distributed. Toss it back in the fridge and let it do it’s thing!

Ideas for marinades

(For all of these, you can add about 1/4 cup of olive or canola oil to the below combinations)

  • Lemon or lime juice, fresh peeled and cracked garlic cloves, cracked black pepper, sea salt
  • Red wine vinegar, oregano, garlic powder, sea salt
  • Apple cider vinegar, fresh chopped garlic, sea salt

You get the basic idea. You want something acidic (citrus juice, vinegar), some herbs/spices, and then a bit of oil. The only vinegar I don’t use with chicken is regular balsamic-because it makes the chicken an unappealing brown color. (although it tastes great.) I have used white balsamic which is very tasty. You can see that you can mix and match these to fit whatever you have on hand. If you have fresh herbs you can use those also. My favorite is lemon juice, garlic, salt/pepper, and chopped fresh rosemary and thyme. Very often I don’t have rosemary and thyme fresh, so I’ll use dried.


Rubs are exactly as it sounds-a spice mixture that you rub onto the chicken and let it infuse flavor. You can take any of
the ingredients you would use in a marinade (just use a tiny bit of the acid and the oil-just enough to make a paste) and chop/process the solids very small, and use that as a rub. If you can, allow these to sit about 10-15 minutes prior to cooking. Not as time intensive as a marinade.

Other ideas for rubs
  • Cumin, cayenne, and 1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce (these are found canned, usually in the ethnic food section-a great smoky flavor)
  • Cinnamon and cayenne. Sounds bizarre, I know-but it’s really, really good. You can also add a tiny bit of brown sugar.
  • Onion and garlic powder, sea salt, black pepper
  • Tarragon, garlic, lemon zest
Easy seasonings

This is the simplest-just pull out the jar/can, sprinkle, flip, sprinkle, and put into the oven. Here are a few I like:
(Remember-always check labels for hidden gluten in case a manufacturer changes their formula.)

  • Crazy Jane’s Mixed Up Salt
  • Lemon pepper
  • Lime pepper
  • Creole seasoning
  • Greek seasoning
  • Old Bay
  • Frank’s Red Hot Buffalo Wing Sauce-not quite a seasoning, but just as easy. Cover the chicken with sauce before cooking-viola! Healthier not-wings 🙂

If you are using skin-on versions, just make a slit in the skin, and put the rub mixture/seasonings inside the skin as well as on the outside. Really rub it in well, and make sure to cover as much surface area as you can. It gives a really nice flavor.

Hopefully this helped give you a few ideas for chicken.

Share your favorite way to prepare the bird of honor in the comments below! You can never have too many ways to cook chicken….

Birthdays and Gluten Free Chocolate Cupcakes-Heaven on Earth (Kind of a Recipe)

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Some of you may have already heard that yesterday was my birthday. Life is good-I received many birthday wishes on Facebook, Twitter, and my friend Kim at Gluten Free is Life, gave me a birthday shout out on her blog. Yesterday was Kim’s (and her mom’s!) birthday as well. I had a wonderful day, and I thank everyone for all their good wishes. It means so much to me that you took the time to wish me well. Here’s to another year!

Earlier this week Heidi at Adventures of a Gluten Free Mom (my brussel sprout buddy) had posted an amazing recipe for Sour Cream Chocolate Cupcakes. When I saaw it, I thought to myself “Self-you should make these for your birthday!” And so I did. And they were good. Really good.

Please check out Heidi’s blog for the original recipe, as I did make some changes according to what I had on hand. A definite part of my cooking philosophy is that if I want to make something and I don’t quite have the ingredients as listed-do I have something I can substitute? I am a firm believer that you need to make your cooking work for you, and not have to run out every time you don’t have something. Hence my affection for the “method” way of cooking instead of strict recipes. That is why now I’m titling my “recipes” as “not really a recipe” or “kind of a recipe.” Consider it a guideline as opposed to-written in stone you must do this or you will explode!

On to the good stuff!

Gluten Free Chocolate Cupcakes


– 2 TBSP Butter

-.5 cup water

-.25 cup cocoa/cacao powder

-1 cup sugar or sugar substitute (I used .5 cups Splenda Brown Sugar and .5 cup Splenda granular)

-.75 cups oat flour and .75 cup coconut flour (the original recipe called for 1.25 c quinoa flour, which I didn’t have. I had coconut flour, and I had my Creamhill gluten free oatmeal which I love, so I threw some oatmeal into the Magic Bullet and processed it into flour. Viola! Multi-functional ingredients. I chose the oat flour to give a little texture and nutrition.)

-.5 tsp baking powder

-.5 tsp baking soda

-2 eggs separated

-1 tsp vanilla

-1/2 cup greek yogurt

-1 container of baby food puree apples/prunes (I like to use this to add moisture without fat, and also because in chocolate items it’s brown and doesn’t disturb the rich chocolate color.)


  • Preheat oven to 375 deg F
  • Melt butter and water in small saucepan over medium heat, remove from heat and whisk in cocoa.
  • Combine in a bowl the sugar/substitute, flours, baking powder/soda, and salt. Whisk to combine. I didn’t sift because I’m lazy like that.
  • Add the egg yolk, vanilla, yogurt and fruit puree to the dry ingredients along with the cocoa/butter/water mixture.
  • Combine well, I did by hand. Beat egg white to stiff-ish and fold in. I got impatient so they weren’t quite stiff.
  • Spoon into 12 cupcake molds.
  • Bake for 15-20 minutes. (Mine was 15 m in a convection oven.)Here’s the cupcake sans icing.


    But a cupcake without icing isn’t so “treat”-like. So-I used Elena’s at Elena’s Pantry Vegan Chocolate Icing recipe for inspiration. Again, I didn’t have exactly what the recipe called for so I improvised! Check out her blog for the original recipe. Here’s my riff on it.

    Chocolate Icing

    -3/4 cup of coarsely chopped whatever chocolate you have in the house (I had a little bit of 70% cacao, a couple squares of 88% cacao, and made up the remainder with Baker’s semisweet at 54% cacao. Worked great.)

    -1 TBSP agave nectar (I dropped the amount of agave since the semi-sweet chocolate had a bit more sugar.)

    -1/4 c Enova oil. (I didn’t have grapeseed.)

    -pinch sea salt

    From Elena’s directions:
    1-In a small saucepan over very low heat, melt chocolate and oil
    2- Stir in agave, vanilla and salt
    3- Place frosting in freezer for 15 minutes to chill and thicken (This seemed too long for me-the frosting was frozen when I took it out, and I had to re-melt a little bit to be able to blend it.)
    4- Remove from freezer and whip frosting with a hand blender until it is thick and fluffy

    Here is the finished product!


    The cupcakes were a HUGE hit! They tasted fantastic, were nice and moist, and received rave reviews from Jeff. Being a non-celiac he has a very recent memory of glutinous cakes, and he said that they were really good. I have to admit that I made these midday yesterday, and by midnight we had each eaten 6-and they were gone. Birthday splurge!

    My tweaks did make these a bit more “diet-friendly” but I would consider them a treat nonetheless.

    Enjoy-let me know if you try them and what you think in the comments!

Not Really a Recipe: Balsamic Turkey Breast


Cooking is not rocket surgery.

I know many people are intimidated by the idea of cooking for themselves, and in my opinion this is why many people rely on pre-packaged, take out or out-to-dinner meals. I am all for the idea of making your life easier and more time efficient, and I think that some just don’t realize that cooking can be really easy.

You don’t have to use a complicated recipe with a list of ingredients longer than your arm. Heck no. That IS intimidating! I love cookbooks, and I have a bunch, and I love to look thru them. And that’s how I get ideas. But I don’t use them to cook. How is that, you ask? Well….

You don’t always need a recipe

With the exception of baking, it’s rare that I use a recipe per se. (And admittedly, since I mostly cook quick breads/protein bars and brownies I don’t always use recipes for those either. It’s more of a “hmmm…this batter is a bit runny…add some more protein powder/oat flour/cocoa! approach) I read a recipe, or see something prepared on TV, and then use/modify that recipe to make something that works for me.

I use and teach more of a “method” approach to cooking-learn a way to do something, then you can make modifications and make that method work a bunch of ways for a bunch of applications.

If you cook chicken a particular way, chances are good you can do a similar thing with turkey, or pork. See where I’m going with this? If you make a sauce (as I mentioned in my eating flavorfully gluten free post) you can change it up by changing just a few flavors, but use the same ideas.

Thanksgiving turkey

OK. Here’s the deal.

Shirley over at Gluten Free Easily had posted her Special Turkey Breast recipe around Thanksgiving. I can never have too much turkey, and turkey breast is easily a staple in our house. It’s generally a big piece of protein that can be cooked once and eaten for days. (Very important as I referenced in the planning ahead for eating success post.)

Since we had a big crowd at Thanksgiving and not enough leftovers, I made Shirley’s recipe the weekend after Thanksgiving. And boy was it yummy!

Turkey breast has a very mild flavor, and using the vinegar gave it a great “pop” of flavor. I had never used vinegar in the crock pot before, for reasons of which I haven’t a clue. I use vinegars all the time for pretty much everything. It was such a great method, that I used it again this week-with a riff. So thanks to Shirley for the original idea!

Before getting to the good stuff-just think about the possibilities! You can use this method/idea with chicken, turkey, pork, really anything you would stick in the crock pot. You can mix it up with any seasonings/vinegars that sound good. The possibilities are endless! (OK-maybe not endless. But pretty close.)

Balsamic Pepper Turkey Breast

  1. Take a big honking turkey breast. Stick said turkey breast into crock pot.
  2. Throw in some peeled cracked garlic cloves
  3. Mix in a measuring cup about a cup of balsamic vinegar, about 1/4 cup of olive oil, about 2 tsp of mustard powder, about 1 TBSP of lemon pepper seasoning, and some sea salt. (Yes, I am this precise-I’m not gonna lie.) Pour over the turkey about as evenly as you can.
  4. Cook on high about 4 hrs or low about 8.
  5. Try not to burn yourself getting it out, and don’t let the dog tackle you as you carry the crock over to the sink to wash it. (OK-that may not apply to you.)
  6. Enjoy!!!

Please let me know how it goes! Check out more gluten free recipes here.

Are you a method cook, a recipe cook, or a “I’m too scared to try” cook? Would more method ideas like this be helpful? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below, or shoot me a message on the contact page!