Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Allergy-Free Eating on a Budget: Tip 3 and Quick and Easy Buffalo Chicken Wraps/Quesadillas

     Tip #3 is to know your prices. I frequent my local health food stores and the Nature's Marketplace section of Wegman's often enough to know where to buy different things. I pay attention to the prices in the co-op catalog each month. I occasionally check my local WalMart Superstore to see if they have added any GF or DF (dairy-free) products. I know that the Rice Dream rice milk is cheapest at WalMart. I have searched and cannot find it cheaper anywhere else. (I know Rice Dream says it's GF, and other people say it's not. Nathan doesn't seem to react to it, so I use it when I'm not making my own rice milk or nut milks, though I feel a little nauseous if I drink too much (usually just have it on cereal a couple times a week). I know that it's cheapest to make my own rice milk and nut milks, so I try to do that when I'm not too rushed for time. Our favorite DF milk is cashew milk, and it's the easiest to make. Raw nuts and seeds are definitely cheapest through the co-op for me, but some of you might have a Trader Joe's nearby where you may find it cheaper.  Homemade nut milk is more nutritious than homemade rice milk, too.
     Keep a record in your planner, purse, or wallet of prices from different stores and mail order companies (or co-ops) where you buy things.  Compare prices.  After awhile you will have a pretty good idea where you want to purchase which foods.  Some places might be kind of out of the way for me to go to in order to get the best price.  I might handle that by going there once in awhile and buying the 1 or 2 things I get from that store in bulk, decreasing the amount of times I will have to go there.  Or, I might take a loss and purchase what I need at whatever store I am at if I really need to and don't have time to go to the other store.  In that situation, I have to weigh which is more important to me, time or money, and whether or not the price of the extra gas to get there would make up for the savings I would be getting.  For instance, we buy a large amount of sweet rice flour from an Asian store that is about 1/2 hour away from us, in an area where we rarely ever go.  It's not worth going there if it's just for 1 small bag, so we buy at least 5-10 lbs. at a time which lasts me quite awhile.
     One thing I noticed is that Betty Crocker has come out with a line of cake, brownie, and cookie mixes that are GF.  Our local grocery stores have finally started carrying this line of boxed mixes, which excited me tremendously when they first brought them out.  However, I started comparing prices as I noticed all the stores starting to carry them.  I found
that the prices on these products at my local Wal Mart superstore were higher than my local Weiss.  I also found, however, that it was cheaper for me to buy the Namaste brand products at my local health food store than it is for the BC brand at the grocery store.  Go figure!  I couldn't believe it, but it's true.  Namaste was around $6 for a bag of brownie mix that would make a 9x13 pan, and BC was $7 (more at WM) for 2 boxes that would make a 9x13 pan when combined.  I would much rather buy the Namaste because I feel the ingredients are a little healthier, but when the price is cheaper, too--it's a no brainer!  That being said, I totally prefer to make my own brownie and cake mixes from scratch with organic, all-natural ingredients.  However, I have friends who prefer to buy the mixes, so it's good information for me to know and pass along.  Sometimes my gluten-eating friends like to invite us over for dinner, and they like to show that they care by making an effort to provide things the kids and I can eat, like GF cake, etc.  Store bought mixes are perfect for them, and I so appreciate that they are thinking about me.

     Ok, so I'm not perfect.  I bought boneless, skinless chicken breasts the other day, non-organic.  I hate that, but I was in a hurry and very low on cash.  It was on sale, and so much faster to prepare and cook than the alternative.  I really had no time to spare.  Cassie had a birthday party in the morning (Saturday), a Girl Scout meeting and dinner in the afternoon and early evening, and a Girl Scout lock-in sleepover that night.  We had to take an Asian themed dish to pass to the dinner.  I was kind of at a loss because there was going to be soy and gluten in everything at the dinner.  Since I am co-leader of the troop, I had to be there and also go to the sleepover.  I knew I would be hungry if I didn't have enough to eat for dinner, so I decided to buy the chicken, which would add protein and bulk to my dish.  It was a large family pack.  I threw it all in 2 baking pans, put a small amount of water in the bottoms of the pans, sprinkled them with some Herbamare Asain blend seasoning and cracked black pepper, covered with tin foil, and baked at 350 F until done.  I had to rush to pick Cassie up from the birthday party, so I ran to get her while the chicken was in the oven.  It ended up taking me much longer than I had planned because I couldn't find a parking spot at the movie theater (where the party was), and there was a mile-long line of people going into the theater.  I ended up double parking, grabbing Moriah, and running into the theater to grab Cassie and running back out, hoping nobody was waiting for me to get back to my idling vehicle. 
     We rushed back home.  By the time we got back, the chicken had been in the oven for an hour, but it was still amazingly moist and good!  I made stir-fried vegetables with chicken (using some of the baked chicken) with brown rice for the GS dinner, and I finished up the batch of GF Chocolate Chip Cookies I was baking for dessert (ended up 45 minutes late to the GS meeting). 
     I still had a ton of chicken left, so I made these Quick and Easy Buffalo Chicken Wraps for lunch at a friend's house after church yesterday afternoon (great Sunday football game fare).  Incidentally, you can make 6 wraps with a package of Food For Life Rice Tortillas cheaper than 6 sandwiches made from store-bought GF bread.  I still had 3 chicken breast halves left after the party that I can use for chicken salad wraps or chicken noodle soup or whatever. 

Quick and Easy Buffalo Chicken Wraps/Quesadillas
Food For Life Rice Tortillas
romaine lettuce or other greens/lettuce
Frank's Hot Sauce
cooked boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
     (or use other chicken pieces, cooked and removed from bone)
cheddar cheese, shredded (optional for wraps)

Cut up the cooked chicken into bite-sized pieces or strips.  You can shred it if you want, or keep it in small chunks.  It's up to your individual tastes.  My chicken was seasoned with Herbamare when I baked it, but you could bread it with GF seasoned bread crumbs, blanched almond flour, Bob's Red Mill Delicious Hot Cereal, etc. if you would like.  Because of everyone's individual tastes at the football party, we each made our sandwiches how we wanted to.  Some of us just put the chicken with cheddar cheese on a roll (not GF).  Some smothered their chicken in hot sauce. 
When I make wraps or burritos, I lightly spray a griddle or frying pan with olive oil and put it on med. heat.  When the frying pan is heated up, I put in a tortilla.  As soon as it gets warmed up on one side, flip it over and warm it on the other side.  You want your tortilla hot and pliable, not crunchy.  If you don't heat up your tortillas first, they tend to rip and break apart when you use them.  For this wrap, I warmed one side of the tortilla then flipped it over.  I sprinkled on some shredded cheddar cheese on half of the warmed side.  Then I put on some chicken strips, Frank's hot sauce, and some more cheddar cheese on that same half.  I folded over the other half of the tortilla, making a half circle and flipped it over to make sure all the cheese got nice and melted inside the tortilla.  I did this as fast as possible, so the tortilla didn't get crunchy.  When I removed it from the heat, I gently opened it up and added some romaine lettuce, then folded it up again.  Very yummy, fast, and easy!  This method is more like a quesadilla, but you could make wraps by just heating up the tortillas, removing from heat, adding fillings, and rolling it up like you would any other wrap.

No comments: