Saturday, February 19, 2011

Gluten Free Chinese Food?

My teen-aged daughter loves Chinese food. When I say she loves Chinese food, I don't mean that she likes to have it every so often. I mean that she has a passion for it. She was saddened to read that her beloved soy sauce contained gluten. It was a very sad moment in time for her. At that moment, I knew I had to find a way to give her a gluten free alternative to one of her favorite foods.

I began to research for options and learned that there is a gluten free, organic soy sauce available! Luckily, I was able to find it locally so I did not have to wait for shipping.

My daughter had also requested that we buy tofu and try that, so I read all the labels and found an acceptable tofu. Later that afternoon, my husband and I went on to prepare a beautiful meal for my daughter consisting of fried tofu, fried rice, and a nice green salad. She was thrilled!

The recipe I used is adapted from another website. The changes made were very simple, I read all of the labels to make sure there was no gluten in any of them, used gluten free soy sauce, and organic sugar instead of the agave nectar. We have stopped using agave because it appears to be no better for our health than high fructose corn syrup.

For the pork fried rice, we used a Food Network recipe to guide us. There really were not any substitutions needed for this recipe. I just made sure to double check all of my ingredients to ensure there is no gluten.

Even though I have been great about removing all gluten from our home, I am still super cautious about reading all labels not only when we make a purchase, but also again as I go to use the product. Maybe I am being overly dramatic here, but I am so terrified of being "glutened". I do not want to return to the physical state that I was in prior to removing the gluten from our diets. I guess I can never be too careful. Perhaps my being so diligent in reading labels will serve as a good reminder and help my daughter make better food choices when I am not there to guide her. I don't know, but it is what I do to feel confident that we are eating purely gluten free.

So, the meal was a complete success. I don't know how I feel about the tofu, I am still reading about soy products and trying to determine if we should avoid that as well. Additionally, it is one of the things that can potentially irritate the bladder, so I am not sure that I want to eat tofu often if we have it as a meal again in the future. Still thinking on that one. We shall see. I suppose Rome was not built in a day. I can take a little bit of time to evaluate things and get some more advice from my urologist.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Gluten Free Croutons

In trying to move towards eating healthier, I have gone back to trying to have at least one salad a day with our meal. Usually this is at dinner time. My mother used to have us eat salad each night with dinner. Many nights she would place hot peas and carrots over the salad with ranch dressing. It was something we knew would be there at almost every dinner meal. I had gotten out of the practice of eating salads, but the truth is, I love to eat them.

As an adult, I prefer to eat salads with spinach leaves, but I also enjoy other salad greens. I tend to avoid the iceberg lettuce of my youth and choose salad greens that contain more vitamins through darker leaves as well as a richer taste. We also try to add many different bright colors to our salads - bright red tomatoes and bell peppers, and orange carrots. My daughter loves to eat turnips and radishes on her salad. The more colors that are in my salad, the better it seems to taste. I love the crispness and the light crunch from the different vegetables as I chew them. It seems therapeutic to me to sit down and eat a nice leafy salad filled with vegetables. It is peaceful and tends to calm me.

Although, we have also taken to adding nuts and seeds to our salads, I still missed my croutons. Even though I have never been one to add a lot of them on my salad, I enjoyed adding a few or even taking a few saltines and crumbling them up on top of the salad for that extra little texture and flavor. But now, being gluten free, I felt deprived of that special little touch on my salad. For a while I simply told myself to quit complaining. My health is certainly much more important than a silly little crouton.

And then, today as I looked at the heels of bread from our fresh baked loaf of gluten free bread, I remembered making croutons each night when I worked as a waitress at the country club in Mississippi. I mentioned this to my husband who quickly took the crusts that are less than popular in our household and cut them into small squares. Then he melted a little butter in the microwave. Placing the gluten free bread cubes into a small glass casserole dish. Dabbing the melted butter onto the squares with a brush, before sprinkling a little garlic powder onto the bread crumbs was all that the bread crusts required before he placed them into the oven on 250° for about 15 - 20 minutes or until crunchy.

Tonight, our salads had beautiful, golden, buttery, garlic flavored croutons on top of our salad. And all was good.

NOTE: These croutons would also be wonderful on a nice hot soup.

Anasazi Beans

I believe I have mentioned previously that I love the flavor of beans. So naturally, when I came across a new type of bean that I had never eaten before, I became quite curious and had to try it. Anasazi Beans do not require soaking and cook in about 2/3 of the time that it takes for other beans to cook. These beans come from the Anasazi Indians who were cliff dwellers. The beans were discovered within the ruins in the early 1900's.

Anasazi Beans

2 1/2 cup Anasazi beans (rinsed)
6 cups water (make sure beans are well covered)
1 ham hock (smoked)
2 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 medium onion, diced (I used Walla Walla Sweet)
2 bay leaves
1/8 tsp. Cayenne Pepper (optional)
2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper


Saute onions in skillet until limp, translucent, and slightly brown along the edges. Place in crock pot along with beans, water, salt,pepper garlic powder, cayenne pepper, bay leaves, and ham hock.

Turn crock put on high. Cook for 3 hours checking regularly to ensure there is plenty of water (should always cover the beans by at least 1/2 inch of water).

Anasazi beans are delicious served with a slice of gluten free corn bread, a few gluten free tortillas, or rice.

Tonight, we ate our Anasazi beans over a bed of jasmine rice, sprinkled with hemp seeds. We also enjoyed eating a buttered slice of the gluten free potato, rosemary, garlic bread that we picked up last night at our local CSA. Delicious!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Local Foods, Fresh Eggs, GF Bread

One day my husband I were talking about the cost of cage free organic eggs in the grocery store. We had just paid $4.60 a dozen for those eggs. It seems because the word "organic" was printed on the egg carton, the price was nearly doubled. Reviewing our grocery purchases of late, nearly all of our grocery purchases had doubled or tripled what we were used to paying. Our budget was way overextended and we needed to find somethings that can be done to lower the costs of our foods.

As always, when I am looking for answers, I began to research. Finally, I came upon the answer. Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) is the best way to lower costs of foods without having your own little farm in your backyard. I reviewed the different farms in my area and came across one that is not too far from where we are currently living. They have fresh cage free, organic eggs for $2.35 a dozen. That would surely lower our egg costs I thought as I continued reading the list of foods offered through this program.

Cheese, milk, fruits, vegetables, and gluten free bakery products! A local bakery is offering gluten free products through the local CSA. I noticed that they even offered whole grains and beans. I was so excited. I simply had to place an order. Not all CSA's are set up to where you can choose your own supplies, many of them have a program where you pay a certain amount of money (your fair share) and receive a box each week of whatever the farmers are offering.

This particular program is not exactly like a CSA. It is more flexible. You simply review their offerings by Tuesday morning of each week and place your order, paying online. Then you go pick up your order each Thursday evening. This organization brings several farmers and local organic merchants together. The prices are much lower than what we would be paying in the store.

I am excited to say that we placed our first order and today was our first pick up day! When we arrived, we were presented with two reusable shopping bags of food. The person who was there distributing the food gave us a few extras because it was our first order, organic tuna, about a pound of brussel sprouts and a butternut squash. They were so pleasant to deal with and there was no standing in line. We are sold!

For this to work best for us economically (we still do need to drive about 35 miles each way), we have decided that we will only order every two weeks. Even so, we are predicting that we will be saving quite a bit on our groceries. Due to this, my grocery planning will need to be at least two weeks in advance so I can adequately account for our needs. We are looking forward to spring and summer when even more fresh organic and local fruits and vegetables will be available through our local CSA.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

GF Chicken Tetrazzini

Chicken Tetrazzini was one of the few foods I enjoyed eating in the school cafeteria at lunch time. I remember those nice cheesy bites of chicken, creamy sauce, and noodles were so delicious to me as a child. Growing up, my family did not eat a great deal of pasta. My father was strictly a meat and potatoes man. We did on occasion eat spaghetti, but not often. I believe that must be why I have such a love for pasta, it was something new to me, something special when I became an adult and moved out on my own.

I remember the first time I made Chicken Tetrazzini in my own home. A lady from church had provided me her recipe to use after I tried it at one of the church potluck dinners. I remember being so excited to be making this dish for myself. Back in those days, I could not afford the white wine and many of the other ingredients she suggested, but I enjoyed it nonetheless. Today, I am thankful to be able to make the recipe as she shared it with me, with only a few small adaptations I have made over the years such as the addition of both peas and spinach and converting it to gluten free. This recipe is very rich and uses a good bit of butter, but it is simply delicious.

Chicken Tetrazzini

1 whole chicken or 4 cups chicken cubed
3 cups chicken broth
1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
3 cups milk
1 stick butter
1 1/2 cups very dry white wine or sherry
Zest from one lemon
2 tsp. lemon juice
2 tsp. Sea Salt
1 tsp. Fresh Cracked Black Pepper
2 cups Fresh Spinach leaves, chopped
1 cup fresh or frozen baby peas
1 onion, diced (I prefer to use a sweet onion such as Walla Walla or Mayan)
8 oz. Sliced Brown Crimini Mushrooms
4 cloves garlic (minced)
1 tbsp Fresh Thyme, chopped
1 tbsp Fresh Rosemary leaves, crushed
1 bunch flat parsley leaves, finely chopped (about 1/3 cup)
2 tsp. Paprika
1 1/2 cup grated Asiago, Parmigiano-Reggiano, and Romano cheese blend
1/4 cup Gluten Free Bread Crumbs
1/3 cup Gluten Free All Purpose Flour (I used Bob's Red Mill All Purpose Flour)
1 pkg (12oz) Gluten Free Rice Spaghetti Noodles


1. Place whole chicken into large pot full of water on stove, boil until cooked, approximately 1 hour. Very carefully, remove chicken from water, reserving the water as it is now a wonderful homemade chicken broth. Place chicken on a glass pie plate with edges or other glass container to cool.

Once chicken has cooled, remove skin and bones. Chop up chicken into bite sized pieces. You will need 4 cups. Place the 4 cups of chopped chicken into a bowl and set aside.

Strain reserved chicken broth from above to remove fat and other particles. I usually strain mine through twice to remove all of the impurities from the broth. A paper coffee filter works nicely for this, as does this.

Note: If you buy larger chickens like I do, package up remaining chicken to be used for a different recipe and place in refrigerator.

2. Pre-heat oven to 425°. Place 2 tsp butter into a skillet and melt on medium-low heat. Place mushrooms in skillet to sweat, turning periodically. When the mushrooms turn a nice dark golden brown color, add the onions, thyme, rosemary, garlic, and an additional 2 tsp. butter to the skillet with the mushrooms and saute on medium heat until the onions become translucent.

3. Add the wine to the skillet and cook until the wine evaporates. Place the vegetable mixture into the bowl with the chicken. Set aside.

4. Using same skillet, place 2 tsp. butter into the skillet along with all of the spinach. Cover with glass lid. Let spinach wilt, lifting lid occasionally to turn the spinach leaves. The wilting process only takes a few minutes. Stir in wilted spinach in the bowl with the chicken mixture.

5. Place pot of water on to boil.

6. Melt 4 tsp. butter in same skillet. Add flour and whisk for a few minutes, then add milk, whipping cream, strained chicken broth, salt, and pepper. Increase heat to high and bring to a boil, continuing to whisk so the liquid will not scorch. Once at a boil, turn temperature down to a simmer. Continue to whisk. The liquid will start to thicken a bit. Cook on simmer for about 10-15 minutes. Add to chicken mixture, stir in well.

7. The pot of water should be boiling by now. Drizzle some olive oil into the pot (approx 4 tsp.). Drop in noodles (do not break in half). Set timer according to instructions on the box for al dente. Strain and rinse immediately with cold water.

8. Place noodles in a separate bowl and toss with olive oil (approx 2-3 tsp) to keep noodles from sticking.

9. Mix noodles and chicken mixture together with parsley flakes, and gluten free bread crumbs until all ingredients are well incorporated.

10. Grease a nice big casserole dish well. Pour chicken and noodle mixture into casserole dish. Top with grated cheese blend and then sprinkle with paprika.

11. Place casserole dish on top of a cookie sheet and into the oven. Bake for 20-30 minutes or until the cheese is a nice golden brown color.

We enjoy eating our Chicken Tetrazzini with a nice green salad drizzled with a fruity vinaigrette dressing, and some steamed broccoli with red bell peppers on the side.

Monday, February 14, 2011


Since we are not making dinner tonight, I decided I would go ahead and post the recipe from the Jambalaya that we made this weekend. This is my own recipe that has been altered just a tad to make it gluten friendly. I have used it for years. The changes made were minimal, so there is virtually no real difference in taste, but lots of difference to my health. For this I am thankful!

NOTE: Most people use celery in their Jambalaya, however, my sweet husband does not care for it in his food so I omit the celery. Instead I add extra bell peppers. You can raise the recipe to 1 whole green bell pepper plus 3-4 celery stalks if you prefer.


4 chicken breasts (skinned, bones removed, boiled, diced - reserve broth)
4 cups chicken broth (use packaged broth if needed)
1/2 pound Andouille sausage (sliced into bite sized pieces)
1 1/2 pound shrimp, medium (peeled and de-veined)
1 large can (28 oz) diced tomatoes
4 tsp butter
1 medium onion (medium diced)
1/2 bell pepper, green (seeds removed, diced)
1/2 bell pepper, red (seeds removed, diced)
1/2 bell pepper, yellow (seeds removed, diced)
4 cloves garlic (minced)
3 bay leaves
2 teaspoon Gluten Free Worcestershire sauce
2 tsp. Tony Chachere's Original Creole Seasoning
2 tsp. Sea Salt
1 tsp. Thyme
1/2 tsp. Oregano
4 cups cooked white or brown rice


1. Boil chicken. Reserve chicken broth. Remove chicken from pan and dice into bite sized pieces. Place chicken and broth into a large crock pot.

2. Cut Andouille sausage into bite sized slices. Place into skillet on medium. Cook until there is a slight char on the edges. Place cooked Andouille sausage into the crock pot with the chicken and broth.

3. In skillet, combine onions and bell peppers in skillet with 4 tsp butter. Saute until limp, translucent, and slightly brown along the edges. Add the garlic and cook for just a little bit longer, maybe 1-2 minutes. Dump into crock pot.

4. Add Gluten Free Worcestershire sauce, thyme, oregano, Tony Chachere's Original Creole Seasoning, sea salt, and bay leaves along with can of tomatoes to crock pot. Turn onto high. Cook for 4 hours checking to ensure it has not dried out. Keep water level just above ingredients by at least 1/2 inch. Add water as needed.

5. Remove bay leaves.

6. Serve over cooked rice.

Many people like to add hot sauce such as Tabasco to their jambalaya. I tend to season the meal lightly and allow each individual the opportunity to spice it a bit hotter in their own bowl. This way it works well for everyone.

Good to serve with corn bread. While I do not have a recipe for this yet, we have simply used the Bob's Red Mill Corn Bread Mix to make ours.

To make the rice, we use jasmine rice in a rice steamer. We substitute chicken broth in place of the water. You can use minute rice, boil in a bag rice if you prefer. I find the chicken broth adds a richer flavor for the beans and rice. You could use a vegetable broth instead if you are vegan or water if you are trying to lower the cost.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Fondu Night!

Our potluck get together with friends went really well last night. As luck would have it, we also have a fun night of fondue planned with a few couples for a pre-Valentine's Day celebration this evening. Luckily, fondue can be done gluten free.

Traditional Cheese Fondue

½ lb grated Gruyere cheese (rind removed)
1/2 lb grated Emmentaler cheese (rind removed)
1 clove garlic
1 cup dry white wine
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
3 ½ teaspoons cornstarch
1 tablespoon kirsch
pepper and nutmeg to taste


1. Grate the gruyere and Emmentaler cheeses. In a medium bowl, mix the Gruyere and Emmentaler cheese with the cornstarch and toss.

2. Rub the inside of a medium saucepan with the peeled garlic clove. Throw away the garlic. Pour the wine and lemon juice into the garlic rubbed pan, and bring to a simmer over medium heat.

2. Stir the cheese mixture into the wine one small handful at a time. Make sure each handful is completely melted before adding another.

3. Season with the nutmeg and pepper. Stir in kirsch (be careful to only use amount given, does not taste very good if you toss in extra - I learned this the hard way once).

4. Using a plastic spatula, pour into a to a cheese fondue pot. To keep warm, place a few tea lights or a fondue burner underneath the fondue pot stand.

Things to Dip into the Cheese Fondue:

--apples cut into cubes
--pears cut into cubes
--GF Crusty bread cut into cubes
--cooked chicken cubes (I quick cooked mine in a skillet with just salt and pepper)
--Potato cubes - roasted ( I use fingerling potatoes roasted with olive oil, salt, pepper, and rosemary)
--Steamed broccoli, cauliflower, peppers
--Cooked pieces of ham and sausage

Provide each person with a fondue fork and a small plate. I also served a nice green salad with the meal so the participants were provided a regular fork as well. The wine that we used to make the fondue went really well with meal.

Chocolate Fondue

12 0z Baker's Chocolate - semi-sweet
3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
1 Tbsp. Brandy

Chop up the chocolate into tiny pieces. Over a medium heat carefully heat up the cream until it is simmering then lower the heat and add the chocolate. Stir until all chocolate is melted. Take off heat. Add Brandy and stir until smooth - no lumps of chocolate.

Using a silicone spatula pour into a fondue pot, keep warm with a few tea light candles, in my experience, the fuels are too hot so using a couple tea lights is better and does not burn the chocolate.

Things to dip into chocolate fondue:

--GF Pound Cake - we loved this recipe by Gluten Free Easily. It was easy to do and tasted just like a gluten one would in our opinion. Our non-gluten free friends did not even notice a difference!
--Banana slices
--Orange segments
--GF Muffins
--GF Cookies
--GF Marshmallows
--GF Cheesecake

While fondue night is fun and easy to do, it can be a mess to clean up. Do yourself a huge favor and remove the cheese from the pan and wash it immediately after the meal. Don't wait until the next morning to do this or you will have a mess to contend with.

Our Daily Bread

Happy Valentines Day!

After celebrating last night with friends, today is going to be a quiet day at home. Mostly a day of rest and left-overs. There has been a lot of cooking going on, and there are a few left overs that need to be eaten. I dislike it when there is food waste, so today is left over day. Having said this, we are out of bread so it is time to make a fresh loaf.

My husband and I decided to try a few gluten free bread recipes from around the web to learn more about the process of baking gluten free and gain a little more experience baking with different ingredients. This morning we chose to make a loaf of bread from the Gluten Free Cooking School, Finally, really good sandwich bread.

The recipe is really quite simple to make. My husband and I teamed up on it, but it really does not require a team effort, we just like to cook together. The clean up was simple, and the bread came out of the oven smelling awesome. It slid right out of the pan onto the baking rack with ease. And about 10 minutes later, we sampled our warm, fresh out of the oven bread with sweet, organic butter and pear jelly. Oh my gosh! This bread is so yummy! Almost tastes like the stuff we ate before going gluten free. We are pleased.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Red Beans and Rice

Living in the south, I learned to make a lot of southern recipes. Many of the recipes I learned were very economical and already gluten free. One of my families favorites is a recipe handed down to me from my dearly departed mother-in-law, Pat. She was a wonderful cook and beautiful woman. Over the years, I have adapted her recipe to make it my own. Red Beans and Rice is a hearty dish best served on a chilly day although you can eat it any time of year.

Tonight we have friends coming over for a potluck style meal. We are making both Red Beans and Rice and Jambalaya. I will post my personal recipe for my Jambalaya soon.

Red Beans and Rice

3 cups red beans (rinsed, sorted)
1 pound smoked beef sausage
2 tbsp butter (for vegetables)
2 tsp butter (for sausage)
1 onion chopped
1 bell pepper, green - chopped
3 celery sticks - chopped (*This is part of the original recipe but I omit it)
4 cloves garlic - minced
3 bunches green onion
2-3 bay leaves
1 tsp thyme
3 tsp Tony Chachere's Original Creole Seasoning
2 tsp Sea Salt
2 tsp GF Worcestershire Sauce


Place rinsed and sorted red beans (kidney beans) into large crock pot with plenty of water (about 3/4 full including beans). Turn on high. Cook for approximately 4 hours checking every hour or so to ensure there is enough water in the crock pot. Stir and keep covered.

Once beans are wrinkled and fairly soft - combine onions, bell peppers, green onion, celery, and butter in skillet. Saute until limp, translucent, and slightly brown along the edges. Add the garlic and cook for just a little bit longer, maybe 1-2 minutes. Dump into crock pot with the beans.

Chop smoked sausage into bite sized pieces and place into skillet with about 2 tsp butter. Cook on medium temperature. You want to brown the edges to get a nice char on both sides. Dump into crock pot with beans.

Season the beans with seasonings listed above. Stir. Cover. Cook until beans are tender (approx 2-3 hours) checking regularly to ensure there is plenty of water.

Serve over white rice with a side of GF Corn Bread. Some people like to have a hot sauce such as Tabasco handy to add to their own bowl. I tend to make my Red Beans milder and let those who like things more spicy add it themselves so all can enjoy.

For the GF Corn Bread, I do not have a recipe for this yet. We simply used the Bob's Red Mill Corn Bread Mix to make ours. Very delicious.

To make the rice, we use jasmine rice in a rice steamer. We substitute chicken broth in place of the water. You can use minute rice, boil in a bag rice if you prefer. I find the chicken broth adds a richer flavor for the beans and rice. You could use a vegetable broth instead if you are vegan or water if you are trying to lower the cost.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Gluten Free, Or Not?

I have been reading a great deal about the food my family eats for several years now, although my preoccupation with foods increased tremendously with my IC diagnosis, and even more so since we have removed gluten from our diet. What I am finding is that is can truly be so difficult to decipher the labels on the packages unless you know what you are reading.

Welcome to Label Reading 101! While I am not an expert in nutrition, I have learned from those who are in my opinion wonderful resources for label reading and understanding. Nothing is more frustrating than purchasing something only to find out there is poison lurking within the packaging. For me, gluten is a poison. I have to be careful or I become quite ill.

What is Gluten Free? How can I tell what I can eat and what I cannot? It seems that the food manufacturers hide so many things within that label. I have come to believe that learning to read an ingredients label is much like learning a foreign language. I have come across the following resources that have been very helpful:

My very first resource was located after a search around the internet yielded many different web sites with a lot of information, but the more I read, the more confused I became. Finally, I found Karina's site, The Gluten Free Goddess. On her website, she has something she refers to as a "cheat sheet" for those new to the gluten free lifestyle. This cheat sheet helped me to begin developing a good foundation for where to find gluten. The Gluten Free Goddess is packed with recipes both gluten free and vegan, as well as many tips on how to bake using gluten free ingredients.

Dr Vikki Petersen has become my new hero. She and her husband co-authored a book called "The Gluten Effect". I have been reading her blog, The Gluten Doctors and have found her to be a very compassionate woman who lives a gluten free life with her husband and children. Her posts are insightful and tend to challenge the main stream way of thought. She has a very thorough list of gluten foods and ingredients to avoid on her clinic site.

Lisa Lundy is a mother of children with multiple allergies including the need to avoid gluten. I was drawn to her website through a You Tube video which shared her story. She is quite a inspirational and talented lady! Lisa has a very informative website, The Super Allergy Girl (although it can be overwhelming at first because it does have SO MUCH information) and a cook book, The Super Allergy Girl Cookbook; Gluten-free Casein-free Nut-free..

Of course, I have adopted several gluten free websites through my research, however, these are my top picks for easy to read information that provided a clear cut guide to what I could and could not eat. It is nice to have resources to help navigate the mysterious food labels out there. For that I am thankful.

Tonight for super my family and I enjoyed a delicious, quick, and easy to prepare dish I found on The Gluten Free Goddess website, Sweet Potato and Black Bean Enchiladas! We absolutely loved them! No meat either. My husband and daughter were a bit cautious about trying this dish, but decided after trying my Mexican Stuffed Sweet Potatoes the other night that it would be okay to try. I am so glad they did. This recipe makes you feel SPOILED!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

A Beautiful Morning

I live in Tacoma, Washington which is not far from Seattle. It rains here A LOT. I had a nice little surprise when I woke up. My birds (sweet little parakeets) were happily singing away to the sunshine peeking in through the mini blinds. It was not raining, in fact it looks beautiful outside. Then I noticed that I am not hurting...anywhere. I am not tired. I do not have a headache. What a wonderful and welcome way to wake up.

I enjoyed a piece of toast from our homemade loaf of bread with a generous amount of almond butter spread on top of it along with a glass of freshly made carrot-apple juice. What more can I ask for in a morning? I am finding myself quite happy and content today. I believe I am going to get out of bed and enjoy the sunshine and my pain-free existence.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Mexi-Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

Tonight I was feeling very tired and wanting to rest, so I put together a quick and easy dinner for my family that was really yummy! Mexi-stuffed sweet potatoes are just that. I was able to quickly assemble this meal with very little time spent in the kitchen and clean up was a breeze. My family really enjoyed this unexpected adventure in sweet potatoes with a kick.

This recipe is a great way to use left over chicken.

Mexi-Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

4 Sweet Potatoes (Pre-baked)
2 cups Pre-cooked, Shredded chicken
2 tsp. Cumin
1 tsp. Mexican chili powder
1/2 tsp. Ground Coriander
1/2 tsp Salt
2 tsp. Cilantro (roughly minced)
1 15oz can black beans or cooked from dry beans(drained and rinsed)
1 small can mild green chilies (diced)
1 cup Spinach leaves (washed, patted dry, and cut chiffonade style)
1/2 cup tomatoes (diced)
1/2 cup purple onion (finely chopped/diced)
Sour cream (optional, we used homemade plain yogurt)
Shredded rice cheese
Gluten Free Corn Tortilla Chips


If you baked the sweet potato earlier, re-heat it in the microwave or oven.

Mix shredded chicken, cumin, chili powder, coriander, salt, black beans, and green chilies together well. Head on stove until hot.

Split potato and open it by simultaneously pushing the ends of the potato towards the center of the potato gently. Using a fork - dig around the insides of each sweet potato pulling it away from the skin until it is all fluffy.

Place a generous amount of the shredded chicken mixture (approx 1/2 cup) into the potato to fill and make a small hill on top of the potato.

Top the stuffed baked sweet potato with spinach, diced tomatoes, diced purple onion, and shredded cheese. Add a teaspoon full of sour cream or plain yogurt and sprinkle fresh cilantro over the top.

Serve with a small handful of gluten free corn tortilla chips and a small ramekin of salsa.

We washed our Mexican Stuffed Sweet Potatoes down with a freshly made juice made with those cute little seedless watermelon and blueberries.Frosty and delicious! I have got to remember to bring my camera to the kitchen so I can share some of the pictures from these creations.

The Price of Bread

Currently, we are shopping at 7 different grocery stores to get everything we need to support our gluten free diet. Luckily, all of the stores are rather close together. I am working to locate a better system in order to purchase all of the wonderful things our bodies need without spending so much time shopping.

I am also hoping to find a way to lower expenses. In reviewing my grocery budget, I have noticed that we are spending a lot more than normal due to our transition to a gluten free diet. I am accepting being over budget for now while we restock our pantry and learn a new way to eat. Hopefully, we will be able to bring the costs down to a reasonable amount in the very near future.

Gluten free shopping is so expensive. My husband and I bought a loaf of gluten free bread at a local bakery for $7.50 several days ago. That is for just one loaf of bread. It was delicious, but the expense was tremendous. We will not do well paying such high prices on unemployment. At this point, we either need to make our own gluten free bread, or go without bread altogether. After having a talk with my sweet husband, we went to the grocery store and picked up a package of Bob's Red Mill Bread Mix for almost $6.00. Of course this is not much less expensive than buying a ready-made loaf of bread from the bakery, but it is where we are starting today.

The bread turned out nice, it was much better than expected to be honest. I guess it is time to start doing more research on how to make gluten free bread so that we can afford to continue eating it. I am scared because I have read in a few places that it is very difficult or tricky to bake gluten free bread. I so badly want to make my families meals enjoyable for them. I do not want them to feel like they are being punished because of my special dietary restrictions.

So the journey begins...

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Juicing and Cookies

I have been reading a lot about food for the past several weeks. My goal is to find the best choices and information for my families dietary intake. Right now I feel as though my world is revolving around food because of the amount of research I am doing. If I am not reading about food, then I am reviewing potential recipes for meal ideas. From there, I am spending hours trying to shop for groceries while reading each and every ingredient label. Both my husband and I read each label and approve the package before it is placed into the buggy. Between the two of us, I believe we are doing quite well avoiding all traces of gluten.

After reviewing all of the benefits of a raw, whole foods diets, my family went shopping for a juicer. We searched high and low and finally decided on a Jack Lalanne's Power Juicer. I really liked how easy it appeared to be able to be taken apart to be cleaned. And, it seemed to be very user friendly. I am hoping that my daughter will be encouraged by this enough to make her own juiced beverages.

Of course, having purchased a juicer means we need to buy something to make juice with so we purchased a large bag of carrots. Upon arriving home, my husband unpacked the juicer for me to wash and dry. Then he washed the carrots and made us each a nice big glass of carrot juice. Now, as he is handing me the glass of carrot juice, my mind flashes back to a year ago when we bought some packaged carrot juice from Costco. I drank a few sips of it and gave it to my husband refusing to drink anymore. I gently reminded myself that carrots are full of good things, and that fresh is always better than store bought, pre-packaged foods. So, I cautiously took a drink of the freshly made carrot juice. It was pretty good! I was rather surprised.

While the carrot juice straight was rather good, I do believe I will prefer a blended carrot juice rather than straight carrot juice. So, my sweet husband agreed next time he will add other fruits and vegetables to my juice and experiment until we find ones we all enjoy. My daughter did not like straight carrot juice, but agreed to try a blended carrot juice later. My husband, of course, loved the straight carrot juice and finished his glass, along with my glass. Thankfully, the juice did not go to waste.

Later that evening we enjoyed fresh out of the oven Gluten Free Sunflower Butter Cookies. When I was a young girl, I was involved in a church group known as Missionette's which is very similar in many ways to a religious Girl Scout or Camp Fire Girl group,. One of the things that I needed to do in order to earn my cooking badge was to collect a lot of recipes (I am sure there was a particular number of recipes that I was to collect, but that information escapes me all these years later). One of the recipes that I collected was for Peanut Butter Cookies without flour. I remember thinking how odd it seemed to make cookies without flour, but the recipe was so simple, I kept it and used it often. My children have enjoyed these cookies for years.

Now that I am no longer able to eat foods with gluten, I am reminded of those peanut butter cookies that did not require flour. I decided to make them with my youngest daughter this evening because I had a touch of a sweet tooth and was feeling a bit gloomy about not being able to purchase many of my favorite things when we were shopping earlier today. It seemed as though everything I touched in the Costco had some form of gluten in it. I had managed to become slightly depressed. While I know it is not a good thing to feed depression with sugary foods, I decided it would be alright tonight.

I looked into the cabinet and was reminded that we now have several Nut Butters. Peanut butter, almond butter, and sunflower butter. The sunflower butter was the least expensive so I decided to try that one in this recipe.

Gluten Free Nut Butter Cookies

One cup peanut butter, almond butter, sunflower butter, or other nut butter
One cup sugar (I used organic pure cane sugar)
One teaspoon baking powder (aluminum free)
One egg (I use cage free)

Pre-heat the Oven to 350°.

Mix all ingredients together until creamy and well blended. Once all ingredients are mixed together well, put a little butter or cooking spray on your hands (this is to keep the dough from sticking to you - ICKY). Roll dough into balls about 1 1/2" to 2" across. Place on greased cookie sheet two finger widths apart. Once you have an entire cookie sheet filled, take a fork and mash down gently twice to make "#" on each cookie. Place in oven and bake for approx 8-10 minutes. Remove from oven and cool on baking rack.

I am so happy to be able to keep a recipe from my past and continue using it. Although there was no conversion needed for this recipe, I am hopeful my other tried and true recipes will be easily converted to gluten free.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Gluten Free Diet - Day 7

Today is the end of our first full week of eating gluten free. We made it. I was worried that it would be difficult to remove the gluten from our diet, but am starting to realize that with just a little thought and advanced preparation, eating gluten free is not all that difficult.

For breakfast this morning, we had gluten free boxed cold cereal with Rice Dream rice milk. Breakfast was very late, almost at lunch time because of yesterdays late night homework-a-thon. This caused me to have breakfast for lunch.

For dinner, I decided to try my hand at baking fresh hot buttermilk biscuits to go with my husbands tasty omelets. I decided to use my normal recipe but simply to substitute the wheat flour with GF All Purpose flour. I noticed that the consistency reminded me of sugar cookies. The dough was not super sticky like I was accustomed to with wheat flour. I baked them for the same amount of time. The only change was that I used gf flour and that the biscuits were baked 25 degrees lower.

My family has decided that these gf biscuits are actually more light and tender than the ones made with the wheat flour. They were very yummy! What a wonderful way to end our first full week of living gluten free!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Gluten Free Diet - Day 6

Another day free from pain. I want so badly to believe that this new diet is what is making me not hurt. I want to believe that I have found the answer to why I have been so sick. I am also scared to believe. I am so afraid that it is just a coincidence and that I am going to wake up in a day or two back in pain. But I realize that fear won't get me anywhere so I keep pressing forward.

This morning, I started with a small glass of cold almond milk, sunflower butter on the last of the cinnamon bread, and thin slices of a Fuji apple. I have a school project that I am working on, so I have been rather preoccupied trying to get that done.

At lunch, my husband put together beautiful taco salads using left over ground chicken, white beans, spinach, organic corn chips from Trader Joe's, and rice cheese. I have really grown to enjoy the taco salads my husband makes me for lunch, but for some reason this one really hit the spot. Maybe because I was so hungry from all of that homework.

As the day continued, it became apparent that my homework was going to take the entire day and night. Thankfully, I had made plenty of salmon croquettes the night before so we were able to have left over salmon croquettes with a spinach and pear salad my daughter prepared and spiral sliced sweet potato fries my husband was craving. Dinner was delicious, and my homework was taking forever to complete.

Finally, at 4:30am on Day 7, I was finally finished with my school homework and able to go to sleep. It had been a very long day.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Gluten Free Diet - Day 5

I woke up feeling absolutely fabulous this morning! I am not in any pain, my head is clear, my tummy is not upset, my joints and muscles are behaving themselves and not screaming in pain. Life is good. I still am not ready to count my chickens and say it is due to a gf diet, however, I am very thankful to have a day free from pain.

I noticed something else this morning. My sweet daughter was cheerful as she woke up for school this morning. She used to be sweet in the mornings, but several years ago, she turned into a very unfriendly and angry monster every morning. Mid-day that monster would be replaced by my sweet angel, only to have a mean monster return before bedtime. I learned recently that she was skipping not only breakfast, but also skipping lunch on most days. If I packed a lunch for her, she was simply not eating it.

This weekend, she worked hard with me to make sure she was eating every meal and even snacks throughout the day. Her attitude became sweeter and she even was happy to help with chores around the house. Yes, I heard sirens going off screaming "Danger Will Robinson... Danger!" but she was chipper and pleasant.

After dinner last night, she went in and began assembling her lunch for today in her brand new Tiffin. She decided to take left over falafel, wild rice, raw cauliflower, radishes, and turnips, along with some corn chips and salsa. she then helped me finish the dishes and cleaning up the kitchen. She went to bed on time without argument. I was thrilled.

My daughter is also embracing this new way of eating happily. She has asked that I make her favorite salmon croquettes for dinner tonight. I promised I would. So that is what I will be doing. Finding a way to turn what is normally a non-gluten friendly meal into a gf meal. Today I am spending time researching methods to change recipes to gf friendly so I can keep my promise to my daughter.

For breakfast this morning, my husband and I enjoyed more of that yummy cinnamon bread with sunflower nut butter and slices of Fuji apple on top with a nice 1/2 glass of cold almond milk. My husband also enjoyed some of the left over quinoa breakfast with apples and cinnamon that was in the fridge.

The day was rather quiet as I worked on a school assignment which is due later today. My husband spent most of his day reviewing job listings. We both were laid off of our jobs earlier this month so we are both looking for employment again. Not necessarily a fun place to be, but it is where we are at this moment in time.

For lunch today, my husband and I realized that our refrigerator is full of left overs, so we happily ate a combination of things from the past several days. I actually enjoy eating left overs, especially if I enjoyed the food the first time around. I drank a little bit of apple juice mid afternoon while I worked on my paper for school to give me a little boost.

When my daughter came home from school, she was in a great mood. She was laughing and enjoyable to talk with. She had a quick snack of apple juice, corn chips and salsa. Later she happily picked up her bedroom, started a load of her laundry, and then took her dog for a nice walk. I am still amazed at how my child is behaving. Her demeanor has not been this pleasant for quite some time now, so I am thankfully accepting her being so compliant, sweet, and helpful.

For our dinner tonight, we enjoyed GF Salmon Croquettes with GF Dill Sauce, with brown rice, and sauteed zucchini, red bell pepper, and walla walla sweet onion.

I am pleased to say that I actually like my adaptations even better than what I was doing before. I crushed GF cereal until I had crunchy bread crumbs and used extra GF All Purpose Flour, however, what I ended up with was a nice and firm salmon patty that did not break up on the griddle. This I loved. I have a serious dislike for having the salmon croquettes break up all over the hot stove, so this is a good thing. Not a single one of my croquettes were harmed in creating this dinner. I am happy.

GF Salmon Croquettes

I first learned of salmon croquettes when I moved to Mississippi in the summer of 1991. My mother-in-law, shared many of her southern recipes with me before she passed away. Although I have made this recipe my own with a few small adaptations, it is originally from my late mother-in-law's recipes that she handed down to me. Of course the most recent change to the recipe was to remove all gluten. I am happy to be able to continue this southern family tradition.

One of the changes I have made in Pat's original recipe was to buy the salmon fresh, not to use canned salmon. Living in Seattle, fresh salmon is fairly inexpensive and readily available so this change made good sense. I believe in trying to buy as many of my ingredients fresh and local as possible. I don't like to buy things that have been trucked in or imported. I also try to avoid processed foods. Additives and preservatives are not always necessary. By using fresh salmon, not canned salmon, I am improving the quality of the food I am feeding to my family and keeping it environmentally friendly.

Another change I have made to the original recipe is to remove celery. I just don't find it necessary. Some people do. This is not something that I feel makes a big difference to the final flavor. I did find an improvement in the flavor by adding shallots along with bell pepper to the recipe.

Originally, this recipe contained Ritz crackers and flour. Although it would be easy to make the recipe with gf versions of these items, I see dollar signs when I review the different gf crackers for sale in the grocery store. My goal with converting this recipe is to keep the recipe economically friendly.

GF Salmon Croquettes

3 pounds fresh salmon
2 large eggs, beaten well
1 shallot, minced tiny
3-4 cloves garlic, grated
1 red bell pepper, minced tiny
1/2 cup gf bread crumbs (I used crushed gf cereal)
4 tablespoons Bob's Red Mill All-Purpose Gluten-Free Baking Flour
4 teaspoons Old Bay Seasoning
2 teaspoons thyme

Yields: Approximately 16 patties (4 inch wide/1 inch thick)

Serve with my GF Homemade Dill Sauce.

Step 1: Carefully remove skin and bones from salmon.

Step 2: Cut Salmon into 2 inch squares and place in food processor.

Step 3: Using pulse on food processor, give a rough grind to the salmon until it is in a hamburger like consistency.

Step 4: Place ground salmon into very large bowl. Add ingredients. Mix well.

Step 5: Grease cast iron griddle and bring to nice hot temperature. If it is smoking, it is too hot, turn the temperature down a little bit.

Step 6: Form patties from the salmon mixture and place them onto hot griddle. Wash hands. Pour olive oil around outside of patties mid-way through cooking on one side to help keep patties from sticking. When there are nice brown charred marks on salmon patty, flip to cook the other side. Immediately add more olive oil to the griddle around the patties to help keep patties from sticking. This also adds a nice flavor to the croquettes.

Step 7: One by one, remove salmon patties from the grill and place onto a plate lined with paper towel to absorb any extra oil.

GF Salmon Croquettes

I first learned of salmon croquettes when I moved to Mississippi in the summer of 1991. My mother-in-law, shared many of her southern recipes with me before she passed away. Although I have made this recipe my own with a few small adaptations, it is originally from my late mother-in-law's recipes that she handed down to me. Of course the most recent change to the recipe was to remove all gluten. I am happy to be able to continue this southern family tradition.

One of the changes I have made in Pat's original recipe was to buy the salmon fresh, not to use canned salmon. Living in Seattle, fresh salmon is fairly inexpensive and readily available so this change made good sense. I believe in trying to buy as many of my ingredients fresh and local as possible. I don't like to buy things that have been trucked in or imported. I also try to avoid processed foods. Additives and preservatives are not always necessary. By using fresh salmon, not canned salmon, I am improving the quality of the food I am feeding to my family and keeping it environmentally friendly.

Another change I have made to the original recipe is to remove celery. I just don't find it necessary. Some people do. This is not something that I feel makes a big difference to the final flavor. I did find an improvement in the flavor by adding shallots along with bell pepper to the recipe.

Originally, this recipe contained Ritz crackers and flour. Although it would be easy to make the recipe with gf versions of these items, I see dollar signs when I review the different gf crackers for sale in the grocery store. My goal with converting this recipe is to keep the recipe economically friendly.

GF Salmon Croquettes

3 pounds fresh salmon
2 large eggs, beaten well
1 shallot, minced tiny
3-4 cloves garlic, grated
1 red bell pepper, minced tiny
1/2 cup gf bread crumbs (I used crushed gf cereal)
4 tablespoons Bob's Red Mill All-Purpose Gluten-Free Baking Flour
4 teaspoons Old Bay Seasoning
2 teaspoons thyme

Yields: Approximately 16 patties (4 inch wide/1 inch thick)

Serve with my GF Homemade Dill Sauce.

Step 1: Carefully remove skin and bones from salmon.

Step 2: Cut Salmon into 2 inch squares and place in food processor.

Step 3: Using pulse on food processor, give a rough grind to the salmon until it is in a hamburger like consistency.

Step 4: Place ground salmon into very large bowl. Add ingredients. Mix well.

Step 5: Grease cast iron griddle and bring to nice hot temperature. If it is smoking, it is too hot, turn the temperature down a little bit.

Step 6: Form patties from the salmon mixture and place them onto hot griddle. Wash hands. Pour olive oil around outside of patties mid-way through cooking on one side to help keep patties from sticking. When there are nice brown charred marks on salmon patty, flip to cook the other side. Immediately add more olive oil to the griddle around the patties to help keep patties from sticking. This also adds a nice flavor to the croquettes.

Step 7: One by one, remove salmon patties from the grill and place onto a plate lined with paper towel to absorb any extra oil.

Almond Milk

As we begin this journey through removing gluten and dairy from our household diets, we are learning new tricks. Having always been foodies, my husband and I immediately began to research what we could eat and how to cook with our new dietary restrictions. We read several recipes on how to make almond milk, but finally adapted several different versions to better suit our taste preferences.

The almond milk is absolutely wonderful in homemade hot cocoa and in cereals. I personally have taken to drinking this yummy milk several times a day. It is the exact pick me up I seem to need periodically throughout out the day.

Almond Milk

2/3 cup Raw Almonds (blanched with skins removed)
4 cups water
1 vanilla bean or 2 teaspoons vanilla
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
6 - 7 dates (optional: to sweeten the almond milk)

Yields: 4 1/2 cups Almond Milk

Step 1: Blanch the almonds.
Place almonds in a shallow skillet with about 1 to 2 cups water and boil for approximately 3 minutes to blanch the almonds. Drain water and allow almonds to cool.

Step 2: Remove the almond skin.
Once cool enough to touch bare handed, gently remove almond skins with your fingers. The skins will just rub off rather easily at this point.

Step 3: Make the almond milk.
Place the blanched and naked almonds into the blender with 4 cups water and the salt. Blend on high for about 2 - 3 minutes. Blend until all of the almonds are broken down into a fine paste.

Step 4: Add dates to sweeten milk.
Remove seeds from dates and then drop into blender with the almond milk. We prefer to use 6 to 7 dates per batch, however, your preference might be different. Blend on high until dates are fully incorporated (1 - 2 minutes).

Step 5: Strain the almond milk.
Using a fine mesh strainer lined with cheese cloth, strain the almond milk through the strainer. We strain our milk twice to get a very clean milk without almond pulp floating in it. Reserve almond pulp.

Step 6: Place almond milk in fridge.
Place almond milk in a nice covered pitcher or jar that is easy to pour from. The almond milk should be fine in the fridge for 3-4 days, although ours has not made it past 2 days. We love it!

Step 7: Store the almond pulp.
Place almond pulp in a covered container in the fridge. We use the almond pulp in our cereal, but this just as easily could be used in cookies or a dip.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Gluten Free Diet - Day 4

As I opened my eyes this morning, I heard my parakeets singing away. The sun was peeking in through the blinds through our bedroom window above my vanity. And as I moved to sit up, I noticed that my knees and ankles were not feeling stiff, sore, or swollen. My shoulders are not hurting. I don't have a headache. My lower back is a bit spastic and stiff, but otherwise, I am not in pain. I also noticed something else rather strange...I was so hungry. I am not normally hungry when I wake up in the mornings. In fact, I am one to skip breakfast much of the time. Now in my defense, I have taken to having smoothies for breakfast since June of last year. So eating breakfast daily is not something totally new. I just usually have to force feed myself that smoothie each morning.

As my husband woke up, I announced I was starving to death. I simply laughed and made his way to the kitchen to make his coffee and start breakfast. He is the one that insisted that I start eating breakfast daily. This morning, he prepared Creamy Rice Hot Cereal for breakfast with Organic Raw Blue Agave Syrup and a half glass of cold almond milk.

I was a little disappointed I must admit. The cream of rice has a consistency similar to grits. I had so truly hoped that it would be almost the same as having cream of wheat. I grew up eating cream of wheat for breakfast and it has always been a comfort food for me. I ate it daily during pregnancy with all three of my children. I even ate it when I was in labor with the oldest child.

How am I going to get past not having my cream of wheat cereal if I cannot find a good substitute for it? I wanted to panic, but at the same time quietly told myself to get a grip. Life is not about cream of wheat. I will find other thing to enjoy. I might even find foods that I enjoy even more than cream of wheat. More than cream of wheat?

Later in the day, I realized that I was hungry again, so my husband spread almond butter on the cinnamon bread and sliced Fuji apples very thin to place on top of the peanut butter. Lunch is served! I drank a full glass of water with it, but it was delicious and just what I needed.

For dinner we had a nice and quick meal. Organic Polenta covered with ground chicken and Classico Tomato and Basil pasta sauce along with a salad made with spinach, red bell peppers, zucchini, and sliced almonds for dinner. Super quick and easy, but it was nice to have a quiet evening with a super quick and easy meal.

Just a note about eating tomatoes with IC, I have found that if I eat tomatoes with certain brands and not a large quantity of it, I still need to take Prelief to keep the foods acidity from causing me harm. This is a wonderful little aid to help me be able to enjoy a small amount of lemon or tomatoes in my foods. I certainly cannot overdue it, but it does allow me to eat a little bit of the things I enjoy without causing further damage to myself.

We had a snack later in the evening consisting of hummus and Boulder Canyon Chipotle Cheese Snack Chips. We found these chips at our local Costco on our shopping adventure. They are delicious! The flavor is not spicy hot like you might imagine. The hummus was a wonderful dip to complement our snack.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Gluten Free Diet - Day 3

This morning began with a nice glass of delicious cold almond milk. I am finding that I look forward to my morning almond milk and that I feel better after drinking it. I am trying not to read too much into these seemingly small things, but simply taking note of them for now. Yes, I am a very skeptical person, I don't like to jump to conclusions quickly. As my husband went downstairs to start breakfast, I began working on some school work on my laptop.

For breakfast we enjoyed gf cinnamon bread (purchased fresh from a local bakery) with Organic Almond Butter spread on top of it, scrambled eggs, and 1/2 cup of blueberries. Normally, I nibble at my breakfast and don't eat much because I get nauseous, however, I managed to eat nearly the whole plate (minus a small corner of my cinnamon bread).

Today was a fairly lazy day as I worked on school work and watched a few movies on Netflix. We have found ourselves taken with a mini-series called, Undercover Bosses. We do not generally watch reality type shows and do not subscribe to cable televisions. Well...let me back up. Our cable provider charges us $15 less on our internet if we subscribe to basic cable, so even with basic cable, the grand total bill is $15.00 less than it would be without the basic cable. So, yes, technically we do subscribe to cable. However, our televisions are not plugged into the cable. We use the internet. Even our teen-aged daughter is not concerned with what is on the television. We do watch movies via Netflix or our Blockbuster DVD's that we receive in the mail each week, but we don't simply watch television.

Mid-morning, we noticed we were feeling a little hungry so my husband brought up IC friendly Fuji apples for us to snack on along with the last Pumpkin Pesto cracker from Marlene's Market Deli for us to split. He also brought me a small glass of cold almond milk. Isn't he amazing?!

I took a nap not long after our morning snack as I was still exhausted from all of the activity yesterday. I did notice that even though I was exhausted, I still felt as though I had more energy than normal. Again, I am waiting to count any chickens or admit that this gf diet might be helping. I want to see more evidence in my health before I let myself get too excited. I guess I am afraid of being disappointed and finding that it did not help me at all. I am so hoping that this will fix my health issues and I won't be in bed so much of the time, hurting, and tired. I don't want to get my hopes up.

After my nap, my husband made our lunch. Although I am not supposed to have tomatoes, we have found that I generally do not have trouble with the Classico Pasta Sauce Tomato & Basil so we do use that in moderation from time to time. He used Trader Joe's Organic Brown Rice Pasta Fusilli noodles with browned ground chicken meat, topped with a rice mozzarella cheese, and sauteed zucchini and red bell pepper together for a yummy side dish to go with it. We were very pleased with the Fusilli noodles. We were afraid that we would not care for them. The one thing that we did notice is that they do not have the rich flavor that whole wheat noodles had, however, with a good sauce, these noodles will be wonderful. Although it was a very quick and simple meal, it was exactly what was needed.

I found my energy levels were soaring (well for me they were). I got up and cleaned the entire kitchen and did dishes. I then made dinner for the family. I made Falafelhummus, corn tortillas, wild rice, green salad with spinach  zucchini, red bell peppers, and almond slices. The salad dressing was a gf blue cheese that we already had in the fridge prior to the diet change. My husband came in just before I finished preparing dinner and put together a dip for the falafel made from a Walla Walla Sweet Onion and Poppy Seed salad dressing in the fridge that is made here locally, some roasted red bell peppers, water, shallots, olive oil, salt, and Bob's Red Mill All-Purpose GF Flour. Dinner was really good. Both my husband and I were pleased with the outcome. I was pleasantly surprised when my daughter who is a very picky eater looked at me and said, "Mom, may I please have more falafel?" That just made my day!

After dinner, we watched a movie together and had vanilla bean ice cream. Again, I became immediately aware of a reaction taking place. The mucus, the wheezing, the nausea. I also managed to get a headache not long afterward. Now, I am trying to be cautious and not jump to conclusions, but I am really starting to feel that this is isolated to dairy in my diet. My husband and I are going to talk about this more tomorrow, but for now, I am exhausted and ready to get some well deserved sleep. It has been a good day.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Gluten Free Diet - Day 2

Today started out rather well. My joints were not quite as sore as the past several weeks and my head was not pounding nearly as bad either. I don't know why for sure, but I'll take it. I quickly unloaded the dishwasher and re-loaded it with last nights dishes. Then I "rebooted" the laundry (meaning I put the wet towels into the dryer and a comforter into the washer).

My sweet husband prepared our breakfast, Cinnamon/Apple Quinoa breakfast cereal. It smells great! We had tried Quinoa on a different occasion and decided we did not care for it, however, it is quite possible that we needed to prepare it differently in order to appreciate the grain properly so we are trying it again. This time around, we both found it to be enjoyable and we will be eating this one again. I am excited to try other new Quinoa recipes in the future.

We had errands to run today, including another dental appointment for my husband, so the day was filled with activity. I still had trouble keeping up and knew I was over doing it. We picked up some fresh vegetables from a local fruit market and found some wonderful deals. The red bell peppers were 2 for $1.00 so of course I picked up several. The sweet potatoes were also on sale. By this time, I was in need of a nap, so we headed home.

For lunch we had a beautiful taco salad with organic corn chips, homemade white chicken chili, spinach lettuce, homemade yogurt (as sour cream), and a Monterrey Jack cheese. My husband topped his with tomato and salsa as well. Very yummy. I love homemade chili. This was a mild chili with no tomatoes or hot spices so my IC will hopefully stay quiet as well. I do miss my tomatoes. We have read that home grown tomatoes might be okay for some IC individuals because it will contain less acidity. We have a greenhouse in the back yard, so we are growing tomato plants. We hope it will work for me. I miss my tomatoes badly.

In our greenhouse, we are also growing herbs, zucchini, bell peppers, radishes, spinach, and baby Parisian carrots. We have growth but no fruit yet. We are hoping to keep a healthy supply of vegetables on hand while lowering our overall budget for organic foods. My husband is wonderful about keeping up with the day to day watering and care of the garden. I am not always able to go outside to tend to the garden. I hope that soon I will be able to work in the garden with him. We have a nice back yard that will certainly need tending this spring.

I had forgotten my daughter had an appointment early afternoon so I did not get a nap. After her appointment, we decided to go on a gf field trip of sorts with my daughter to show her what gf means, how to look for gf friendly foods,  and what to look for when reading a label. She was a real trooper. She got in there and read labels with us and checked everything she thought was okay with my husband and I for final approval. She did become discouraged before the shopping trip was complete because most of her favorite foods were no longer something that would be brought into the house.

She did help us locate a good juicer so that we would not spend so much on fresh juices. The prices for fresh organic juice will break our bank quickly if we are not careful. So, we make our own juice.  We discussed the prices for the foods that we will be able to eat and how juicing is actually more healthy especially if the juice is drank immediately after it is juiced. My daughter is excited to be able to help us come up with new juice ideas. We plan to involve her in as much of the planning and tasting as possible. We let her know this was a family effort and all members have to be involved in the taste testing process for it to work. She seemed very happy that we were including her in this, and smiled big throughout the store.

We did go by Marlene's Market Deli and picked up a Tiffin and Reusable Bamboo Utensil Set for my daughter to take her lunch to school. She is very excited about the shiny new bento style lunch box. I am thinking I will make a custom carrying bag for her Tiffin. The ones at Marlene's Market Deli were $40 and I am simply too frugal to pay that much for a small fabric bag. I will post once I make the Tiffin bag. This will require a trip to the fabric store (not that I am complaining at all).

When we arrived back home late afternoon I was simply exhausted. I had overdone it and was hurting. We put away the groceries and then enjoyed a nice glass of organic carrot juice from Trader Joe's along with these really yummy gf crackers we purchased from Marlene's Market Deli. They have Pumpkin seeds and pesto in them and have such wonderful flavor. Even my teen-aged daughter loved the crackers. We were surprised about that but also thankful.

My daughter tried the carrot juice, she does not like it straight. She has agreed to try it mixed with perhaps apple juice or some thing else. She has not given up on carrot juice, just in drinking it straight. This is a good thing as well. My husband and I however, enjoy the flavor in straight carrot juice. It is going to be interesting to see how things progress and what juices she will like. I am trying to get her away from sugar drinks. She has accepted the removal of soda and sugar drinks rather well. I am encouraged.

For dinner, my husband prepared a lovely dinner for us consisting of red snapper (pan seared), wild rice, sweet potato cubes,and Sesame-Garlic Mochi by Grainaissance. Dinner was delicious. The mochi was okay, we might try it again. It is very different than bread we have been accustomed to in the past so of course things that are new are strange to our taste buds at times. We didn't dislike the mochi like we did the other day with the rice bread, so that is a plus.

Later that evening, we each had a few scoops of vanilla bean ice cream. I immediately noticed that I was possibly experiencing a reaction to the dairy. My sinuses went into over drive and I became very nauseous. I have felt like this frequently after eating, but always attributed it to the weight loss surgery I had in March 2000. I had always felt like this was something I had to simply deal with to have the weight loss surgery. Tonight, I have decided to question that belief. I am going to test a few more nights with dairy ice cream to see if I only have that reaction when I eat the ice cream. Then I will try it with a glass of milk. If that is the only time I am experiencing this reaction, I will remove the dairy from my diet as well. We had already discussed that dairy needs to be avoided as it is an inflammation causing food, but I was going to wait before removing it completely until we could grow more accustomed to our gf diet. Now, I find myself questioning the logic in that.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Gluten Free Diet - Day 1

This morning, I woke up to a small glass of fresh, homemade almond milk that my sweet husband made for me last night. It was super yummy. The dates added just enough sweetness (it was NOT yummy without the dates). Breakfast was a basic scrambled egg with mushrooms and onions and Monterrey Jack cheese. I also drank a full glass of water. Bleh.

Water. This is a new thing. I know I should have been drinking more water with my IC, I just really dislike the taste of water. We have a nice water dispenser that provides either nice cool water or hot water with the push of a button but I still don't care for the taste of water. Because my husband was giving up both cokes and beer and will be giving up caffeinated coffee once he runs out of the beans he currently has, I agreed to give up root beer - the one last thing I was allowed (in moderation of course) on my IC diet that I held on to tightly.

Although I was only supposed to be drinking it in moderation, I was mostly drinking root beers due to my severe dislike of water.  Thankfully, my daughter and my husband love water. This is going to be an adjustment period for me. I am sure after a few weeks to a month, I will not have such a dislike for water. For now, I will just get past it and deal.

Today we need to run a few errands and take my husband to the dentist, however, when we get home we plan to clean out the kitchen cabinets. I am giving a friend my gluten-based foods. By cleaning the kitchen out of any of the dangerous gluten, I am preventing the opportunity to  forget or become lazy in this journey. My health is too important to allow myself to backslide or take this like another "diet" plan to lose weight. This is so much more.

After the dentist and before going home for lunch, we stopped by Trader Joe's to do a little GF shopping adventure. We managed to pick up several things to try. Reading labels in the store was quite discouraging, but together as a team, we still made it a fun time for both of us. Next door to the Trader Joe's was a bakery that has one different loaf of GF bread in stock each day. Today's bread was a cinnamon chip bread. I tasted it and it was really good. The taste and texture was much like bread should be. We bought the loaf. I am hoping my daughter will enjoy this with her breakfast tomorrow.

On our way home, we shared a white chocolate hot cocoa from Starbucks after reading the packaging to ensure it was GF. It was a nice treat and gave me a little energy as I was starting to feel just a tad run down and hungry. I did not want to eat out for fear of eating something not GF friendly, so the hot cocoa was a nice little pick me up. Reminder to self: Take GF friendly snack foods along when leaving house.

Immediately upon returning home, my husband carried in the groceries while I got started on the cabinets. We went through each and every cabinet bagging up anything that was not completely GF friendly. If the label mentioned even a trace or possibility of a trace of gluten, it was bagged. Several bags later, the pantry was cleaned out and only GF friendly foods remained. Next on the agenda was lunch. We were both quite hungry. I was out of energy and very fatigued. I knew I needed to eat but I wanted to sleep even more. I went upstairs and got into bed while my husband made us both a sandwich. We had a GF Turkey Sandwich with Ener-G Foods Light Tapioca Loaf made by Ener G, spinach and almond cheddar cheese with Vegenaisefor lunch. The bread was gross. We decided that maybe the bread was useful for croutons or toast, but definitely not for sandwiches. It was dry and tasted stale. I did not care for the smell either.

I managed to force half of the sandwich down and then picked the meat off of the second half of the sandwich and ate it as well for added protein. I drank an entire glass of water down because the bread felt stuck in my throat. It was really gross. By this time, I was dozing off, so I cuddled up in the pillows and pulled the comforter up over me and took a nice nap. I woke up to my husband bringing me dinner in bed. He is so good to me! Dinner smelled so wonderful, that is the first thought that came to my mind when I smelled our dinner. While I slept, my sweet husband had went downstairs, cleaned up the house a bit, and prepared dinner for my daughter and me. Because we had planned out the menu, I was a bit excited to try this new recipe. I know we would never have considered trying this recipe prior to deciding to go GF, but I am so glad we did.

For dinner, we had sweet potato and black bean enchiladas with homemade black refried beans. To drink, we each had 3/4 glass of 100% organic carrot juice that we picked up at Trader Joe's. I was really concerned about this, so I waited to try it until after my dinner was over, I drank the water instead. When I tasted the carrot juice, I expected it to be quite nasty, instead, I was pleasantly surprised with the nice flavor, the texture, and the smell. It was delicious and was a nice addition to the meal.

I was disappointed when I went through the cabinet today and read all the labels that were in my pantry. The brand of refried black beans I was accustomed to contained wheat. Thankfully, the cans of whole black bean in the cabinet were free of any wheat so we were able to use that for our dinner this evening. In the future, we will simply soak beans the day before as an additional cost savings. We noticed that GF foods are very high in price. We are looking at making most everything from scratch to keep costs down. I don't want our dietary restrictions to change our budget in a negative way. I have already determined that this new lifestyle will take a lot of research and understanding if our budget is to survive.

Tonight I have begun researching GF product manufacturers. I am looking for the best quality as well as the best price I can find for those foods. I am a bit disappointed with the bread because I was hopeful due to it being made here locally in the Seattle area. I prefer to purchase locally if at all possible. I believe I will call the company and inquire a bit more about their products. Even still I fear we will be making our own breads. I am very unhappy with the prices for GF bread. Although the cinnamon chip bread I purchased today is super yummy, I cannot afford $7 a loaf for bread. That simply does not work with our budget.

I have been told life is about change. Well, here we are, in the midst of change. Day 1 is nearly complete and it has been a success. As I finish my research for the night, and prepare to post this blog, I am sipping on more of that yummy almond milk my husband made. He promises hot cocoa with it very soon. I am looking forward to it. Life is good.