Why Gluten Free Cheerios Matter to Me

The call from the doctor was short but devastating: “We think you have cancer, we just can’t find it.” My soon-to-be husband was getting sicker and sicker and no one could figure out the cause.

Months passed and he continued to lose weight, becoming weaker and more anemic. Finally, a simple test revealed that he had Celiac Disease, an autoimmune disorder where gluten attacks the lining of the stomach. It would soon be discovered that the thing that was so hard to diagnose was the simplest to treat: Eliminate gluten – a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye – and you’ll get better.

The idea was simple, but this was 14-years-ago and there were so few gluten free products on the market that finding something to eat was difficult. Crackers tasted like cardboard, cookies crumbled, and it was almost impossible to find cereal or bread.

I’m Mexican American and my way of solving problems and making people happy is to feed them. After my husband was diagnosed, I bought up all the flour I could find that had no gluten and started experimenting with recipes. (This also works well now that I have 2 boys who are very picky eaters). The first dessert I ever made was a gluten free raspberry cheesecake with those crumbly cookies soaked in butter as the crust. It was delicious, but didn’t taste quite right. I tried a few more versions until it was perfect then started making cookies, cakes, pies, and bread.

Baking became my favorite hobby and after having kids I even made it into a business (short lived) and incorporated gluten free living into my blogs. One thing that has been amazing is to see the many tasty and great quality products that have come on the market since I sat at my booth at the Farmers’ Market explaining what it means to be gluten free.

Gluten_Free_Cheerios2_Yvonne_CondesNow, even products that have been around for years are becoming gluten free including one of our favorites. Cheerios – Yellow Box, Honey Nut, Apple Cinnamon, Frosted, and Multigrain – are now gluten free. We’ve had the Honey Nut and Yellow Box Cheerios and they taste just as good always. They were mostly gluten free before. General Mills simply used a new process to remove stray wheat, barley, and rye from the oats (there’s no gluten in oats, FYI). They’ve also added sorghum and millet to Multigrain Cheerios, which are gluten free.

We have such an active lifestyle in our family that it’s important that we have products we can trust. There have been times when there’s just nothing for my husband to eat. He has another autoimmune disease so not eating or risking gluten contamination isn’t an option. When we’re out hiking for hours or just out of town, it’s good to know there’s food that’s safe to eat. And also food that you grew up with, want to eat, and that’s easily found in a grocery store.

So much has changed since that call from the doctor. And short of a cure, it’s great to know that companies are seeing the value in offering good quality, flavorful gluten free food.

This sponsored post also appeared on MomsLA. My story was also included in a mailer called Gluten Free Cheerios Matter to Us that came with a personalized box of Gluten Free Cheerios.


Gluten-Free Cutout Cookie Recipe with Cookin' Kids

Frosted Gluten-Free Christmas Tree Cookies (photo by Yvonne Condes)

I have two boys who are growing up way too fast. They’re getting to the age where very soon they won’t want to hang out with me at all. So I’m cherishing the activities that we do together. One of them is baking, which is why I gladly said yes when asked to review the Cookin’ Kids Collection cooking set – an apron, cooking utensils designed for 8-years-old and up, and holiday cookie cutters. My younger son was more than willing to help.

The utensils are smaller than standard whisks and spoons and have special grips on them so kids can hold them more easily.


We made the cookies gluten-free so my husband, who has Celiac, will have cookies over the holidays. This is a simple recipe I’ve been making for years and it works well for frosted cutout cookies or sugar cookies. The main ingredient is my favorite (and most economical) gluten-free all-purpose flour mix from Trader Joe’s.

First, we mixed the flour, baking powder, xantham gum*, and salt in a small bowl.

Gluten-Free Flour mixture Then my son used a hand mixer to beat the butter and sugar in a bowl. Once he was done, I added vanilla.

Mixing Butter and Sugar for Gluten-Free Cookies

We combined the butter mixture to the flour and mixed until combined (I didn’t chill the dough. It worked fine, but it requires more dusting flour). Then I generously floured a cookie mat and a rolling pin with gluten-free flour.

Rolling gluten-free dough

Then my son used the cookie cutter to cut the shapes. The Cookin’ Kids cutter had a removable piece that makes the details of the cookies.


Cutting cookies

Once he did that, we used a spatula to place them on a parchment paper-lined cookie sheet.

Cut cookies

After cooking for about 10 minutes and cooling for 20, I frosted the cookies with a powdered sugar glaze.

GlutenFree Tree Cookies

They came out great! (At least the ones pictured here! Our gingerbread men looked pretty scary.) These cookies were delicious and are my boys holiday favorites even though they can both eat gluten. The recipe is below.

I was not compensated for this post, but I did receive the Cookin’ Kids Collection for review. All opinions are my own.

*You can find Xantham Gum at Sprouts, Whole Foods, and some Ralph’s.

Roast Chicken with Carrots and Potatoes

Roast Chicken with Potatoes and Rainbow Carrots


I’ve always wanted a Le Creuset caste iron pot and finally got one for my birthday earlier this month (my husband got it at an outlet for half the price!). I’m in love with it. The first thing I cooked was this roast chicken and it came out incredibly tender and delicious. I bought the chicken at Trader Joe’s and it was brined, which made it even better in my opinion. So did the Cravon frozen potatoes and rainbow carrots that were cooked in the pot with the chicken. Here is the very easy recipe.

Easy Gluten Free Lemon Cake Recipe


lemon cake

We decided to stay in and watch the Oscars on Sunday so I made a roast chicken with rainbow carrots and broccoli on the side. It seemed wrong not to follow a lovely dinner like that with a special dessert. I had a bag of Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Vanilla Cake mix and a couple of lemons and came up with this delightful lemon bundt cake. It was easy and delicious.

Photo Friday; Tar & Roses in Santa Monica

Whole Fried Snapper for 2 at Tar & Roses

I haven’t posted anything here in quite a while because most of my content is going to MomsLA.com. But I’m going to change that. I’m starting with Photo Friday.

Whole Fried Snapper for 2 at Tar & Roses


This picture was taken at Tar & Roses in Santa Monica last weekend. My husband and I had a date night and I have been dying to try this restaurant. Our meal was fantastic and it was so worth waiting months for a date night to have it. The fish above was a Whole Fried Snapper for 2 with cold soba noodles and chili dipping sauce. We also had baby broccoli with parmesan pudding and king trumpet mushrooms with a soft egg and chili de arbol. Amazing.

Two Good Eggs and Melissa's Produce

mom blogger los angeles yvonne condes melissa's produce

Two MomsLA bloggers, Nicole Presley of Presley’s Pantry and Ericka Sanchez of Nibbles and Feasts, started a breakfast blog called Two Good Eggs. It’s fabulous with beautiful pictures and great recipes. They have been working with Los Angeles company, Melissa’s Produce, and invited bloggers to brunch recently.

Here are my pictures from the day.


mom blogger los angeles yvonne condes melissa's produce
This is a rambutan, similar to a lychee, which tastes like a grape.
melissa's produce yvonne condes
The dark red grapes were the best I’ve ever had
Brunch prepared by a Melissa’s Produce chef that included a pork tamale, roasted butternut squash, and potatoes with soyriso.
melissa's produce squash mom blogger los angeles yvonne condes
Roasted butternut squash
Products from Melissa’s Produce
new mexican green chiles mom blogger los angeles
The Hatch chile season is on August and they only grow in from New Mexico

Summer of Feminista, Downton Abbey, and the Difficulty of Being a Mother

gluten free cherry pie yvonne condes mom blogger los angeles

My relatives have been asking me why I haven’t posted here as much. That’s because I’ve been over at MomsLA, where I am editor and co-founder, writing up a storm and making videos. Plus I had a post on Viva La Feminista today and a post on Tiki Tiki Blog a few weeks ago.

Here’s what I’ve been up to –

Where Is My Money Going?  on Viva La Feminista –

Downton Abbey; Me and Mr. Bates on MomsLA

Motherhood is Hard; From the Aurora Colorado Shooting to Everyday Life  on MomsLA

To The Mexican Beach on Tiki Tiki Blog

A Recipe – Gluten Free Cherry Blueberry Pie  on MomsLA

Video – Sprinkles Cupcakes ATM  on YouTube


How to Make a Rock Climbing Birthday Cake

rock climbing cake mom food blogger los angeles


rock climbing cake mom food blogger los angeles

This Rock climbing cake was a big hit at my son’s 8th birthday at the rock climbing gym, Rockreation. It was so easy to make and so easy to make look good. (And I’m not crafty and I’m definitely no artist.) I started with this Vanilla cake recipe from Martha Stewart except I used about half white whole wheat flour and half white flour, and I substituted low fat plain yogurt instead of the buttermilk. (You can easily substitute a gluten-free cake.) I made this Vanilla Frosting Recipe, which uses way more butter and vanilla than I normally use, which explains why it tasted so great.

Here are the directions:

Bake the cake in two 9 inch pans lined with parchment paper. Don’t try to make the paper lay flat. You want the edges to be jagged.

Cool the cake completely on a wire rack and then cut in half.

Make the frosting per the directions. Set aside 2 tablespoons. Add a few drops of black food coloring to the rest of the frosting until the color is gray. Dab some frosting on the cake round and place half of one cake near the edge of the round (don’t put it in the center). Frost the top and built up from there leaving one side flat and the other rounded. Cut the other three layers to make each one slightly smaller than the one before it – place frosting between each layer – and use the extra cake for the top. Frost the entire cake using half of the frosting. Try not to make it look smooth, it should look like rock. Don’t worry if the cake doesn’t look perfect or if you have bits of cake showing.

rock climbing cake mom food blogger los angeles food

Let the cake frosting set, I let it set overnight. Frost the cake again making sure to leave the edges imperfect like rock. Place jelly beans cut in half or rock candy on the front of the cake to make the rock steps. Take your reserved frosting and color it blue, green, or brown for the ground around the rock wall. Frost a layer around the cake and to the edge of the cake round.

Insert any toys to serve as rock climbers. You can use licorice or string as the rope.

rock climbing cake mom food blogger los angeles

El Paso Positivo Block Party

mom blogger los angeles toma leche

mom blogger los angeles


This is the summer of getting fit and what better way to get fit than to dance? My boys are always asking me when we’re going to have a party so thanks to Latina Mom Bloggers and the California Milk Advisory Board, we started the first day of summer with a dance party. An “El Paso Positivo” dance party that is.

As the video explains, we started out with made-to-order milk shakes. We had vanilla, chocolate, and coffee ice cream and Real California Milk. We added chocolate syrup, fresh strawberries, and mango.

milk shake mom blogger los angeles

They were delightful and gave us a lot of energy to dance. This was the dance they had tried to learn, or should I say the girls tried to learn.

Teaching 4 to 6-year-olds a dance is not the easiest thing in the world. The girls were troopers and tried to follow the dance moves as the boys slam danced around them. There was a lot of jumping up and down so I think they definitely got a workout. In the end, it turned into El Paso Positivo freeze dance.

Every child went home with this adorable tshirt and El Paso Positivo song stuck in their head, which you can download and listen to while you exercise (I do!).

mom blogger los angeles toma leche

If you’re looking for a little Positivismo, stay connected with El Maestro del Vaso Medio Lleno on Facebook and Twitter.

This is part of a sponsored campaign with the California Milk Processor Board and Latina Mom Bloggers. However, all opinions expressed are my own.


Mango Flan Video on MomPulse

flan mom blogger los angeles

flan mom blogger los angeles

MomsLA is now part of the MomPulse Community on Youtube and we couldn’t be more thrilled. Every week MomPulse asks a question of the week and last week it was “What is your favorite recipe.”

My favorite dessert to serve to guests is flan. It’s impressive, it’s easy, and it’s delicious. It’s also naturally gluten-free. Here is my how-to video on making Mango Flan.

El Paso Positivo – The Summer of Getting Fit

This is the summer of getting fit for me. In March, 2011 I ran the LA marathon and gained about 10 pounds during the training. It didn’t help that I was injured and stopped running for months. My muscle turned soft and I was tired from not exercising as much. I’ve lost a few pounds and I’m determined to get back to my pre marathon fitness level and then some.

I had already made that decision and  changed my exercise habits and my diet when I was contacted by the Latina Mom Bloggers. I will once again be a Positivity Ambassador for the California Milk Processor Board. And what a great coincidence, the theme is Shape Up For Summer! The campaign is encouraging families to get on a bike, go for a walk, or do a little dance.

This is the theme song for the campaign (that is strangely catchy) and the dance.

When you’re done learning the steps, make sure to drink your milk. The steps are definitely a workout and milk, especially chocolate milk, can help your muscles recover.

1)    Milk contains proteins like casein and whey that can help muscles rebuild after physical activity.

2)    Milk also has minerals that are important in preventing muscle cramping.

3)    Chocolate milk can be a smart alternative to sports drinks for cooling off after a good workout. – California Milk Processor’s Board

Hope you can join me in getting fit this summer. For more information, please visit El Maestro Del Vaso Medio Lleno on Facebook or Twitter  

mom blogger los angeles fitness healthy milk

This is part of a sponsored campaign with the California Milk Processor Board and Latina Mom Bloggers. However, all opinions expressed are my own.