Category Archives: Celiac

Fabulous Gluten-Free Pancake Recipe… Perfect to Dress Up for the Fourth!

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I can’t wait for tomorrow morning!  I love the Fourth of July!  Chris will spend most of the day out at a fireworks stand, raising money for Journey (plug here!  If you live in Idaho, there are three booths in the Hayden area where you can purchase fireworks and our church will get a bit of the profit!).  The three of us, however, will have our breakfast together.  I plan to have red pancakes with blueberries and fresh strawberry syrup.  And white milk, of course.  Yum!

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We usually have pancakes once or twice a week, but for the past while we have missed our pancakes mornings, for one reason or another.  Pancakes are by far one of Noah’s favorite foods.  He calls them “keeps” and gets super excited anytime he sees anything resembling one.  Then he starts frantically calling out for them.  I know he will absolutely love them in their festive dress.

Pancakes are simply a breakfast staple.  No person should go through a childhood without the satisfying taste of a warm, hardy pancakes covered in syrup, jam or applesauce.  No person should go through adulthood without them, for that matter.  A truly good pancake is great without the extras.

Let’s be honest, pancakes are truly a perfect family breakfast food.  You can color them to match a special holiday, fill them with goodies such as blueberries or chocolate chips, and shape them like Mickey Mouse for the kiddos.

Since going gluten-free I have tried quite a few pancake variations.  We’ve had a few pretty terrible recipes as well as some good ones.  After much trial and error, I finally feel like I’ve nailed down a delicious pancake.  My recipe is based on the gluten-filled one provided in “Joy of Cooking” – my absolute favorite go-to cookbook.  All it needed was a bit of tweaking and we have a perfect fluffy and filling pancake.  An absolutely satisfying breakfast treat.

Last weekend Chris and I enjoyed an anniversary breakfast at a local breakfast establishment (with delish food) and Chris told me that my pancakes are much better than the gluten-free ones he had there.  Talk about a huge boost to my self-esteem!

So just in case you would like to make a festive pancake breakfast for your family too, here is our staple recipe.

 

Fabulous Gluten-Free Pancakes

Combine in a large bowl:

  • ½ C. brown rice flour
  • ¼ C. white rice flour
  • ¼ C. millet or sorghum flour
  • ¼ C. tapioca or potato starch (tapioca flour is the same thing as tapioca starch)
  • ¼ C. ground flax seed
  • 3 TBSP organic sugar, sucanat or liquid sweetener, such as honey or pure maple syrup (add to the liquids if you use a liquid sweetener)
  • 1 ¾ TBSP baking powder
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • ¼ tsp xanthan gum

Combine in a separate bowl:

  • 1 ¼ C. organic milk
  • 2 fresh eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Add the liquids to the dry ingredients and mix together (it’s okay if the batter is a bit clumpy).

Melt 3 TBSP organic butter or coconut oil and add to the batter, mixing thoroughly.

Your batter should be a perfect consistency.  You can add some milk or rice flour to adjust, if needed.

Cook the pancakes just as you would any typical recipe.  Enjoy with your family!

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Eating on a Budget – The Simplicity of a Menu

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This last year has been a time of great change in our family lifestyle – at least as far as eating goes.  In July we found out that Chris likely had Celiac Disease and in August we fully removed gluten from our diet for a trial run to see if it would actually make a difference.  Within three weeks the results were absolutely life changing and we committed to a gluten-free lifestyle at home.  We’ll never go back.

Since then I have become more aware of whole-food (or clean) eating and we have slowly worked our way there.  It’s been a fairly simple transition, considering that gluten is in almost everything that is processed.  We have had to work hard to get where we are at and we certainly are not completely there.

I am fully convinced that (nutritionally) the best thing I can do for my family is provide an organic (non-GMO), gluten-free, whole food diet.

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For those of us who desire to tarry down this road there are two major roadblocks: Time and money.

Preparing whole foods can take much of the precious time that we would rather use in other areas, such as with our children, accomplishing tasks or even resting.  There is something to say about the simplicity of pancake mix and canned cream soups.

Then there is the financial obligation.  We have had to increase our food budget over the past year to accommodate our changes.  Let me tell you, gluten-free flours and foods are spendy!  And I’m bound and determined to ENJOY our food, not just get by with it.  So we have to get creative sometimes.

Aside from some small indulgences, such as tortilla chips, we are exempt from processed foods – and we try to keep processed foods to five ingredients or less.  Organic is another story.  Our greatest desire is to maintain an organic lifestyle, however each time I try to attempt it we don’t have enough food after all of the money is spent.  It’s easy to feel defeated and frustrated.  I’ve decided a different approach, though.  I have decided that we will attempt to eat as organic and local as possible, within our budget, where it is feasible.  Beyond that I will simply be THANKFUL that the Lord has given us the means to purchase food for my family.  I would much rather carry an attitude of gratitude than to sulk over what I think I do not have.  There is much more peace and thankfulness when I choose this outlook.

I still have found, however, that I can easily waste food.  Oftentimes I lose my vegetables because I pick ones that I think we’ll likely use rather than being sure we can utilize them in the two weeks between paychecks.  Or I buy four cans of corn and discover that I should have used the extra $1.50 to put toward canned olives.  You know the story – I’m sure the plague follows us all.  We finish the two weeks left with choices of strange concoctions, such as eggs, cheese, salmon, butter, broccoli, and sunflower seeds.  Sometimes you can come up with a wonderful new dish that becomes a staple and other times you find yourself praying that the meals pass quickly until payday arrives (I remember a particularly terrible meal early in our marriage that I created where I couldn’t stomach more than three bites when I got a call inviting us over for dinner.  God IS gracious).

Well, I have pondered all of this and have successfully entered a new phase of life – Menu Planning.  I have put it off for months, okay years, and finally broke down last month when I realized I needed to be more proactive with our budget.  We assign $350 each month to our grocery budget ($175 every two weeks).  I would love to get good enough with our menu to subtract some money from this amount, but for right now I found this to be a very workable budget with our dietary needs (no gluten).  I am playing with a few ideas to cut our budget, such as going meatless for one or two meals each week.  I think we can make this work!  If you are not gluten-free, I am sure that for a family of three or four you could easily feed on less… by at least fifty dollars.

I create our menu for every meal about a month in advance and purchase our food according to our needs, not what I think I may want to make over the next few days.  I’m still honing it all, but it’s wonderful to know that I can provide healthy, satisfying meals for my family, along with some diversity.  AND, what’s even better is waking up in the morning and not having to struggle with the age-old question, “What in the world am I going to make today?…”  I simply look at my handy-dandy menu and do what it says.  I am not, however, completely legalistic.  If one day I can’t manage to get the time to create a more time-consuming meal I can simply exchange it with another one later in the week.  We have the groceries for both.  I try not to do this except when I really feel it’s important because I create the menus with a plan.

All of this to say, I am very happy with the outcome and thought I would share my menu with you for the next month.  We’re halfway through the first week, but hopefully just seeing it will help encourage and inspire you to get creative, budget-friendly juices running.

Before I actually share the menu, I thought I would let you in on the “rules” with which I write my menu.  These are my lifesavers:

  • Everything is gluten-free
  • If you can make it from scratch, do so
  • We don’t do low-fat, fat-free, or items which alter the good nutrition that God created for our bodies to use as energy (this allows you to actually get full and avoid overeating.  Foods that have been altered mess with the way your body works and you end up eating more in the end.  (There are great articles on this at www.weedemandreap.com – love this blog!)
  • Plan according to the weather.  If it’s summer and hot, I will try to stick to as little baking as possible.  More grilling.  As winter comes, I foresee more casseroles in our dinners.
  • Eat according to the season.  Fresh, local produce is fabulous.  Especially if you happen to live in Spokane, Greenbluff is only a drive away.  Many farms (High Country Orchard is one of my favorites) carry extra veggies and fruits during the summer from local Washington farms that you may not be able to u-pick.  Better yet, grow it yourself and it’s even more cost-effective.  I’m looking forward to trying some squash/gourd-based meals this fall.  I recently found a great one for gnocchi that I can’t wait to try.
  • Use leftovers for lunch.  Simple as that.
  • You don’t have to have a full spread to have a satisfied body.  It’s okay to eat cheese, nuts and fruit for a meal.  I promise you’ll live.
  • We eat a lot of popcorn, as you will see.  I pop it fresh on the stove and store it in gallon-size baggies for snacks and dessert.  We don’t “dress it up” either.  Naked fresh popcorn is delicious!  No sodium (important to me while prego), only 20 calories per cup, and unprocessed.  Plus, it’s a whole grain.  Oh, and did I mention it’s super cheap?  A $2 bag lasts us two weeks.  Five stars!
  • Make a big meal ahead of time (usually on Sundays) to use throughout the week.  I will make a ham or turkey (we did a turkey two weeks ago) and freeze the meat to use throughout the week or month for meals.  Meal prep becomes much simpler this way.  Also, the special big meal makes it fun for family to enjoy together.
  • Never underestimate the potential of a full cut of meat.  Such as a whole turkey, chicken or ham.  Once you pull the meat off of that baby you can make stock.  I use chicken broth a ton for making creams and such and almost never purchase it anymore.  (I got seven quart-sized bags of turkey broth from the turkey – after using a bunch of it for a huge pot of it for turkey enchilada soup).  When we have bones, we make broth.
  • If there’s a busy day, plan for it.  We eat cereal on Thursday mornings because my mom keeps Noah for me on these days and I don’t want to worry about dishes.  Grilled pizza on Friday nights to celebrate the weekend (I’ll share the recipe later – you literally grill it outside for five minutes.  My favorite way to eat pizza).
  • Snack whole.  Fresh fruits and veggies are satisfying.  Nuts, seeds and raisins (which don’t have sugar or preservatives added like most other dried fruits) make great trail mix.  Add popcorn (see, there it is again), homemade granola, or other yummies to add variety.  Homemade popsicles made with fresh fruit, yogurt, and juices are delicious.  You get the idea.

That’s the main gist of it all.  I hope this is helpful for you.  If you want a recipe, let me know!  I’ll post it.  I don’t make anything I don’t love to eat, so it’s all good.

I am thankful for the opportunity to share this with you.  I have found myself more able to enjoy my family, stay within our budget, and having a more grateful heart to God for what He gives us through this process.  I hope you find the same.

6/23/13

Sunday

Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

Saturday

Breakfast

PB Toast, Fruit, Milk

Yogurt, Granola, Strawberries

LO Sour Cream Choc. Muffins, Fruit

Eggs, fruit, LO Muffins

Cereal

Eggs, Turkey Bacon, Fruit

Pancakes

Lunch

Cheese, Apples, Nuts

Leftover Roast

Leftover Chicken

Fruit, Nuts, Raisins

Cheese, Fruit, Nuts

Leftover Beef Bulgogi

Leftover Grilled Pizza

Dinner

Roast Beef, Mashed  Potatoes, Salad, Sour Cream and Chive Rolls

Rotisserie Chicken, Green Beans, LO Mashed Potatoes

Hot Roast Beef Sandwiches, Sweet Potato Fries

Beef Bulgogi, Rice, Lettuce

Salmon Patties, Quinoa, Green Beans

Grilled Pizza, Fruit

BBQ Chicken

Snacks

Raisins, Cheese Slices, Veggies and Dip, Popcorn, Nuts, Chex Cereal

Desserts

Stovetop-Popped Popcorn, Organic Ice Cream

6/30/13

Sunday

Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

Saturday

Breakfast

Sour Cream and Berry Muffins

Eggs, Turkey Bacon, Fruit

Yogurt, Granola, Fruit

Pancakes, Fruit (4th of July Theme)

Cereal

Eggs and Potatoes, Fruit

PB Toast, Fruit, Milk

Lunch

Cheese, Apples, Nuts

LO Pulled Pork

LO Taco Salad

LO Tostadas

LO Pasta Salad

LO Stuffed Bell Peppers

LO Grilled Pizza

Dinner

Pulled Pork, Buns, Salad

Taco Salad

Chicken Tostadas, Sweet Potato Fries

Pasta Salad

Stuffed Bell Peppers

Grilled Pizza, Fruit

Hamburgers, Sweet Potato Fries

Snacks

Raisins, Veggies and Dip, Popcorn, HM Applesauce, Chex Cereal, Nuts, HM Fruit Popcicles

Desserts

Stovetop-Popped Popcorn, Dipped Strawberries OR Strawberr-Meringue Shortcakes (TOH June/July) (for the 4th), HM Applesauce

7/7/13

Sunday

Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

Saturday

Breakfast

HM GF Donuts, Fruit

Eggs, Fruit

LO Donuts, Fruit

Yogurt, Granola, Fruit

Cereal

Pancakes, Fruit

Banana Bread

Lunch

Fruit, Nuts

LO Salmon

LO Grilled Veggie Salad

LO Sesame Salad

Ham and Cheese slices, Fruit

LO Peppers

LO Pizza

Dinner

Fresh, Wild Salmon, Corn, Rice

Grilled Vegetable Quinoa Salad (TOH April/May)

Sesame Noodle Salad (TOH June/July)

BBQ Chicken, Fruit, Corn

Chicken Salad Stuffed Peppers (w/ LO Grilled Chx) (TOH June/July)

Grilled Pizza, Fruit

Nachos (Tortilla Chips, Meat, Sour Cream, Cheese, Avocado, etc)

Snacks

HM Applesauce, Raisins, Veggies and Dip, Nuts, Popcorn, HM GF Graham Crackers

Desserts

Stovetop-Popped Popcorn, Lemon Bars OR Lemon-Berry Ice Cream Pie (w/ Organic Ice Cream and HM Graham Crackers) (TOH June/July)

7/14/13

Sunday

Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

Saturday

Breakfast

Quiche

Yogurt, Granola, Fruit

LO Banana Bread

LO Quiche

Cereal

Pancakes and Grapes

Oatmeal

Lunch

Fruit, Nuts

LO Ribs

LO Mac and Cheese

LO Ribs

LO Spaghetti

LO Sandwiches

LO Pizza

Dinner

Ribs, Coleslaw, Fruit

GF Mac and Cheese, Grilled Veggies

BBQ Chicken, Salad, Fruit

Spaghetti Squash Spaghetti

Tuna Salad Sandwiches

Grilled Pizza, Fruit, Grilled Veggies

Steaks, Sweet Potato Fries, Grilled Veggies

Snacks

Raisins, Veggies and Dip, Fresh-picked Cherries and Raspberries

Desserts

Stovetop-Popped Popcorn, Cherry Pie, Raspberry Sorbet (TOH June/July)

Delicious, Indulgent Banana Bread! Gluten-Free and Organic!

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There are moments in time when you get something in your mind and simply can’t let go.  It comes back over and over again, like neighbor kids who want you to come out and play.  But you’re not sure you can.  For me, in this case, it was particularly because my friendly visitor was banana bread and, well, we have a gluten-free home.

See, I do still make breads, desserts, and treats.  Lately I feel like I’m getting a great handle on GF baking, even a little gourmet you might say.  At least I do.  But when it comes to most-loved indulgences like savory, moist banana bread, I become gun-shy.  So many times when I try to convert a recipe from glutenous to gluten-free it takes at least a few tries to actually get it right, which I wasn’t sure I had the patience to endure.  Because I wanted to have my banana bread and guiltlessly, deliciously indulge in it too the very moment the loaf came out of the oven.  Last night I gave into my daydreaming and decided to take the plunge…

Voila!  Absolutely delicious banana bread!  Better yet, I feel even more guilt-free eating it because it was gluten-free and organic!  I had two thick pieces by myself last night after it had cooled.  Then another this morning for breakfast with the family.  Oh, and another with my mom when she stopped by this afternoon.  Indulgent eating always feels justified when you do it socially.

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The following recipe was given to me by my mom when I moved out of my parent’s home and off to college.  I’ve tweaked it now to meet our dietary wishes, but the bones of the recipe remain.  This recipe is super-moist, very much like zucchini or pumpkin bread.  I can’t guarantee that your recipe will turn out exactly the same if you happen to swap out any of the sweetener or flours, however if you’re familiar with gluten-free flour and feel confident in switching starches and the weight of various flours, then I say go for it!  I’m fairly certain the bread won’t be as moist if you use a granular sugar instead of a liquid one, so if you don’t have agave nectar on hand it would probably be wise to use honey (or maybe pure maple syrup – but be careful because syrup is sweeter!).  Also, you can assume that everything used in this recipe was organic in our home.  I know what tastes I enjoy in my baking now, so this recipe is based on our family’s personal preference.

For those who eat regular flour, you can simply use 1 ¾ C. All Purpose or Whole Wheat Flour in lieu of all of the ones I have listed.  However, you may want to leave some oatmeal and flax in your recipe for depth of flavor.  Also, leave out the xanthan gum or you’ll end up with a super chewy bread.  Not in a good way.

So, finally, here is my new favorite recipe!
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Best Ever Banana Bread  (Originally from the kitchen of Melody Slachter, converted and tweaked by me)

  • ½ C. oatmeal
  • 1 tbsp. coconut oil, melted
  • 1 tbsp. sweetener of choice
  • 1-2 tsp. cinnamon

In a small bowl, combine all above ingredients and set aside.  This is optional, but who doesn’t love a sweet topping on banana bread!

  • ½ C. brown rice flour
  • ¼ C. ground flax seeds
  • ¼ C. garbanzo/fava flour (don’t leave this out!  Garbanzo/fava flour tastes terrible when a recipe is in dough form, however it is one of the best flours to use in baked goods, for the consistency of the bread, and you won’t even taste it in the final product)
  • ¼ C. sorghum flour
  • ¼ C. tapioca starch
  • ¼ C. arrowroot starch
  • ¼ C. old-fashioned oats
  • 1 ½ tsp. xanthan gum
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • ½ tsp. kosher salt
  • 1-2 tsp. cinnamon (optional)
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 C. mashed ripe bananas (2-3 medium.  I used three)
  • ¾ C. agave nectar (honey or granular sugar would work too)
  • ½ C. extra virgin olive or coconut oil (melt the coconut oil prior to using)
  • ¼ C. PLUS 1 tbsp. buttermilk (you can add 1 tsp lemon juice to the milk to substitute for buttermilk.  This is what I always do – put it together before you start the recipe so it can sit for at least five minutes and curdle)
  • 1 ½ tsp. pure vanilla extract

In a large bowl, stir together flours, starches, flax, xanthan gum, oatmeal, baking soda, salt and cinnamon.  In another bowl, combine eggs, bananas, oil, buttermilk and vanilla.  Add the wet mixture to the flour mixture, stirring with a rubber spatula until moistened.  Pour into a 9x5x3 loaf pan, greased with coconut oil.  Sprinkle the top of the loaf with the oatmeal mixture you put together earlier.  Bake @ 325* for 1 hour 20 minutes, or until bread tests done.  Cool for 10 minutes in the pan prior to removing and indulging.

Savory Mango Chutney Pork Chops

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We have been dining like kings and queens lately.  The meals have been gorgeous and intensely savory, works of culinary art.  Chicken Parmesan, Pork Chops with Mango Chutney, Tomato Soup with Grilled Cheese, and so it goes.  Not to mention the yummy treats!  Every ounce made from scratch.  My husband is one stinkin’ lucky guy!

Honestly, we are extremely blessed in how the Lord allows us to provide for our family with fresh, nutritious meals.  I have thought about this more and more lately as we have been making an effort to eat “cleaner.”  It’s been some hard work and a change in mental attitude, but so very worth it.  I’m getting inspiration from a few new favorite websites and revisiting some old recipes.  I’m also using the “Taste of Home” magazine subscription that my mom gifted to me (Thanks, Momma!).

We’re cutting out the junk (processed foods) and eating simpler, closer to whatever can be produced from nature.

I’m excited to share some of the delish recipes we try!  I love new recipes, so I’m supposing you may too.

Last night we had the Pork Chops with Mango Chutney with Sweet Potato Fries as our side.  Yum!  This dish is absolutely stunning.  There are a few wonderful unexpected twists of flavor, with just the right amount of “kick” in the Chutney.  It’s also fairly quick and simple to prepare – throw the chutney in the pot and let the flavors meld while you pan-sear the chops.  I found the recipe in the Taste of Home magazine from this week.

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Mango Chutney Pork Chops

  • 1 TBSP butter
  • 4 pork chops (or 1 boneless pork loin roast – 2 to 3 lbs) – I made pork chops… this was originally written for a roast
  • 1/2 tsp each salt, pepper, and ground ginger
  • 2 medium mangoes, peeled and cubed
  • 1/4 C. finely chopped red onion
  • 1/4 C. finely chopped sweet red pepper
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced (I didn’t have this)
  • 2 TBSP white vinegar
  • 1 TBSP grated fresh gingeroot
  • 1/8 tsp each salt, ground turmeric, and ground cloves
  1. In a large skillet, heat butter over medium-high heat.  Brown pork on all sides.  Sprinkle with the salt, pepper, and ginger.
  2. Place on a rack in a shallow pan.  Bake at 350* for about 20 minutes minutes for the chops or 1-1 1/2 hours for the roast, or until a thermometer reads 145*.  Remove from oven.
  3. Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, combine all remaining (chutney) ingredients.  Cook, uncovered, over medium heat for 10 minutes to allow flavors to blend, stirring occasionally.  Serve over or alongside pork.

We loved it!  Like I mentioned, I served a side of homemade Sweet Potato Fries along with this, however a nice salad, rice, quinoa, or bread would be great too.  In the meantime, Chris finished off the leftovers for lunch and I’m thinking we may need this again soon!

 

Tasty Granola Recipe ~ Deliciousness!

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Yesterday Noah and I decided to make some granola.  Again.  We love granola in our home! It’s hearty, healthy, gluten-free. It’s wonderful as a snack or breakfast in your yogurt.  I’ve been working on my recipe for a while, tweaking, adding, and adjusting to make it just perfect.  I think we struck gold.

This recipe is much healthier than your typical granola, packed chuck-full of delicious goodies.  It’s completely clean.  I cut the sugar down and anteed up the flavor.  Enjoy!

Here are all of your ingredients.  Pretty simple.  I love simple.

Everything you need!

Everything you need!

First, place the coconut oil, honey, vanilla, orange zest, and orange juice (from the orange) in a small sauce pan and turn on the heat.

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While your liquids are heating up combine the dry ingredients, including oatmeal (we use gluten-free), cinnamon, almonds, sunflower seeds, flax seeds (or meal), and salt.  I usually add just a pinch extra salt so that there is a true salty-sweet flavor.

Noah recommends the double-spoon stirring method, demonstrated here.

Noah recommends the double-spoon stirring method, demonstrated here.

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Pour the warm, melted liquids over the oat mixture and combine until it’s full coated.

Bake the granola in the oven at 300* for forty minutes, stirring every eight to ten minutes to prevent burning.  I usually add the dry fruit (if desired) in the last ten minute stretch prior to pulling everything out.

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If you leave the granola alone after taking it out of the oven it’s more likely to have some clusters.  Let the goodies cool and enjoy!  My mouth is watering all over again.

Delish!

Delish!

Of course, you can customize the recipe completely to your family’s taste buds.  Add or subtract according to your hearts desire!

Granola Recipe

  • 4 C. Oatmeal
  • 1/2 C. sliced almonds
  • 1/2 C. Sesame seeds
  • 1/4 C. Flax seeds
  • 1 tsp. Cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. Salt
  • 1/2 C. Honey
  • 1/4 C. Coconut oil
  • 1 tsp. Vanilla
  • Orange zest from one orange
  • Orange juice from half an orange
  • 1/4-1/2 C. Dried cranberries or blueberries
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 300*
  2. Melt together honey, coconut oil, vanilla, orange juice, and orange zest in a sauce pan.
  3. Combine all dry ingredients, not including the fruit
  4. Pour liquids over the dry ingredient mixture and fully coat
  5. Spread the granola over two cookie sheets – you can use wax or parchment paper to line them if you like
  6. Bake the granola for 40 minutes, mixing every 8-10 minutes to prevent burning
  7. In the last ten minutes add the dried fruit
  8. Let the granola cool about 15 minutes
  9. Enjoy!

I did figure the calories, and a 1/4 cup serving is about 200 calories.  You should probably enjoy in moderation.

Newbie GF Tips of Encouragement

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About five months ago Chris visited our dental office for a cleaning, during which our hygienist, whom we love, was doing her regular torture routine on Chris.  During the cleaning they got to talking about his history of gum and other health issues.  Thankfully, that day she recommended that Chris be tested for Celiac Disease.  Long-story-short, we have since taken all gluten out of our diet.  The results have been amazing… Life-changing!  Chris is no longer in constant pain after eating (and in-between), he has a lot more energy, and he’s just happier all around.

One out of approximately 133 people in the U.S. is estimated to have Celiac Disease (which is an autoimmune disease).  In addition, one in seven have some sort of gluten intolerance.  I hear of many people trying to cut back on their gluten intake to help out stomach and health issues, but when it comes to Celiac cutting back doesn’t cut it.  You have to completely eliminate any gluten from the diet.  For instance, I used to keep some fish crackers around the house so that I could give them to Noah as a snack (since he and I aren’t absolutely gluten free – now we only occasionally “cheat” outside our home).  We quickly found out that we couldn’t keep them at all, though.  If I gave Noah a few fishies and then made something for Chris he would get just as sick as if he had eaten a full piece of toast because of the cross-contamination on my fingers.

Gluten is the binding agent found in wheat, barley, and rye.  It’s hiding absolutely everywhere!  Soy sauce, twizzlers candy, and cooking sprays have it – random, I know.  So you can imagine that it feels like you’re traveling uncharted territory as you enter into a no-gluten lifestyle.  I have wished so many times along the way that someone would write me a step-by-step instruction on where to start and what to do.  Four months into this now, I feel like I’m finally getting a handle on things.  Whew!

Considering the current statistics, many of you are going gluten free now, may need to do it in the future (for yourself or a family member), or know someone who is gluten free.  If I was given the opportunity to help a GF novice, these are the 15 notes of encouragement I would choose – the ones I wish I had known from the get-go.

  1. Food will probably never taste exactly the same.  Be willing to accept that although it is different, it is completely worth it for your health.  You obtain a new taste, though.  Trust me.  This is good.
  2. Don’t ever buy a loaf of GF (gluten free) bread from the grocery store.  It’s disgusting.  You pay $7 for a tiny, awful-tasting loaf of staleness.  If you have the resources, there are many great fresh GF bakeries or you can order it online.  Better yet, you can make it yourself!  It IS possible to make great-tasting soft bread.  You just need the right recipes!2012 Fruit-10
  3. Everything will take longer to make. You now have to make your own cream of _____ or just about anything else you want.  Don’t worry.  It will become easier and you’ll work around it.  Just be patient and give yourself grace.
  4. If you ever plan to bake again, do yourself a favor.  Buy a good quality food scale.  I purchased a Kitchen Aid scale and I may just love it more than Chris.  A good scale will cost you about $50, but if you are making a lifestyle change it is fully worth the investment (and the lower blood pressure from having your baked goods actually turn out).  When baking/cooking gluten free you have to use multiple flours and you can’t trade flours on a 1:1 ratio – for instance, brown rice flour weighs a lot more than tapioca flour.  So if your recipe calls for 1 cup of all-purpose wheat flour you can’t just expect to pour in 2/3 cup of brown rice flour and 1/3 of cup tapioca flour.  It’s not the same.  BUT, if you use your scale and match the weight of all-purpose flour with your other flours you’ve got a winner! You can actually use your old recipes again!
  5. One cup of all-purpose flour weighs .125 kilograms.  Now you know how much GF flour to use when transferring your recipes!  You’re welcome.
  6. When making any recipe, to create a quality, workable GF flour you want to combine 2/3 flour to 1/3 starch (the three main starches are tapioca, corn, and potato starch).
  7. Tapioca starch is the same thing as tapioca flour, however potato starch is not the same thing as potato flour.  I don’t get it, but that’s exactly how it is.
  8. Xanthan gum is the craziest thing I have ever had to work with in baking.  It is a terrible substance and it is wildly expensive.  It costs $14 for a tiny bag – we’re talking just a few ounces – but you need it.  Thankfully, it lasts a very long time because you only use a teaspoon or two for any recipe.  Although it looks like any other floury substance, it doesn’t act like it.  It has a sneaky way of escaping its bag and getting all over the counter or lightly coating any surface that happens to be nearby.  Whenever water so much as touches it, it becomes this awful, gummy, sticky stuff that is impossible to remove (and it only comes off of a washcloth if you put in the laundry… but the washcloth won’t ever completely get it off of the counter).  Because of this, I started storing my xanthan gum in a plastic storage container in our cabinet.  A much better compromise.
  9. Don’t leave the xanthan gum out of your recipes.  I decided to simply abandon it because although it’s supposed to be the replacement binding agent for gluten it didn’t seem to make a difference in my pancakes.  And I hate (yes, a strong word, but appropriate) having to deal with the mess it makes (see above).  Life was wonderful.  Until my breads were failing because when I let them rise they acted like a waterfall, flowing over the edges of the pan.  You should see the disgusting mess in the bottom of my oven from the time I tried to bake a loaf.  It tasted awful too. Apparently the xanthan gum contains the air bubbles created by the yeast and baking powder and keeps your bread in one pretty loaf.  It’s worth the effort.2012 Fruit-11
  10.  Buy a baking mix and supplement as-needed.  This cuts out a TON of time and effort in mixing your own flours.  Cup-for-Cup is the best thing I have tried yet, but it’s crazy-expensive.  We were very blessed a while ago when our friends gave us a big bag of Pamela’s baking and pancake mix.  All I have to do is add a couple other flours, depending on what I’m making (I do this because of flavor preference – you don’t have to), throw in some dried non-fat milk (secret ingredient), and a little xanthan gum, and I’m set!  Easy as pie.  Simpler, actually.
  11. Nothing in GF baking looks or feels quite the same as regular baking.  Because of the consistencies of the flour it’s just. different.  Instead of appearing soft and floury, bread dough will be wet and sticky.  It’s surprising and appalling at first, however you’ll get used to your new normal
  12. If you need to use bread crumbs, use corn flakes.  I buy a big bag and thrown them in the blender to substitute.  You need a lot of flakes to make only a couple cups of “crumbs.
  13. GF Pasta tastes great!  It’s just like the “real” stuff.  What a relief – something into which you don’t have to put any effort.  Both quinoa and brown rice pastas work well.  My only word of caution – make sure your water is at a rolling boil before you add the noodles.  I have made many balls of mush by adding them just a couple minutes too early.
  14. There are a lot of great recipes that naturally don’t have gluten.  Think hard shell tacos, chicken salad, or stir fry (yes, you can find GF soy sauce – you just have to look for it).  I think I spent my first month or so mostly cooking naturally GF meals because I was pretty nervous to change over my recipes.  You can ease your way into it.
  15. If you are not GF yourself and want to host someone who is, just ask them to bring whatever is needed.  We completely understand that GF cooking can be overwhelming and are not expecting you to go out, buy the (expensive) ingredients, and make delicious rolls.  And we know it’s confusing to know what you’re looking for when you go out to buyWe have no problem bringing our own sides or going without.  We also don’t mind making the main dish and bringing it over.  No pressure.  (Although Aldo’s take-and-bake in Spokane has delicious GF pizzas – easy on all sides!).

As I have read, researched, and applied the helpful hints from all sorts of sites and blogs I finally feel like I’m mastering this.  I’m beginning to feel comfortable in my kitchen again.  Finally. Thanksgiving dinner was a huge step – rolls, cake, piecrust, and all.  In trying and tweaking, I have gathered personal arsenal of GF recipes for daily life and some special occasions that suit our taste buds.  If you want them, I would be happy to share them.2012 Fruit-12

I hope this is helpful for you and your family.  There have been weeks where I have completely given up trying to bake for my family because I was so overwhelmed.  Which is alright, except that we really want rolls with our nice family dinners.  Yes, we do substitute with a lot more rice, quinoa, and potatoes/sweet potatoes now.  But when you go GF you don’t want to give up everything you love.  I really do want my son to grow up knowing the pleasure of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.  I am proud to say he will.

The Dinner Delimma – with Recipe!

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Lately it seems like I make it through the day to about 4 pm and all of a sudden it hits me.  People in this house are going to expect food.  Tonight.  And not just “breakfast for dinner” or an assortment of snacks or leftovers.  They want a real hot dish.

I’ll admit it: I’m in a rut.

Over the last few weeks whenever I realize I need to start preparing dinner I ask Chris the same question: “What sounds good to you tonight?”  And every time he gives me some variation of the same response:  “Food.”  Absolutely uninspiring.

We do almost everything from scratch in our home.  Much of this is by choice, however now that we’re gluten free a lot of it is also by necessity. For instance, when a recipe calls for a can of cream of mushroom or chicken soup I instantly add about 15 minutes to my cook time because we can’t use a can of creamed soup (it has flour), which means that I make it myself.  I think I’m going to start canning my own in bulk so that we just have it on hand.  Much simpler… And I. Desire. Simple.

Therefore, this morning I decided that my dinner predicament has to end.  Simplicity in life and dinner-decision-making must commence.

I have begun putting together a list of all of the dishes that we seem to rotate in our home.  Most of them I’ve already transitioned to be gluten free, but I need to buckle down and play with the rest of them.  I’m also going to begin reviewing my cookbooks for some more savory options.  I want to love cooking and baking again, the way I did before we were sans gluten.

I know this list will help.  I’ve decided to share it with you, too, so that perhaps you’ll catch a little inspiration.  If you see a recipe you think sounds tasty, let me know.  I’ll get it over to you.

Also, I thought I would give you one of our favorite “staple” recipes to try tonight.  It’s delicious!  Best of all, you just put everything in one bowl, mix it together, dump it in the pan, and bake for an hour.  Love it. (well, there is a glaze to go on top.  But really, we’re talking easy here).

It’s Rosemary Turkey Meatloaf.  If you happen to be turned off by meatloaf, have no fear.  I am too and I love this stuff.  It has balsamic vinegar in it.  And rosemary.  It’s amazing, trust me.  Your kids will love it too!

Rosemary Turkey Meatloaf

  • 1.5 pounds ground turkey
  • 2 cups dry bread crumbs (If you are GF use cornflakes “pureed” in the blender.  Works like a charm)
  • 1 onion, finely chopped  (I would use more like half an onion)
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 cup milk
  • ½ cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1 ½ TBSP chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 cup canned tomato sauce
  • ¾ cup brown sugar (I use more like 1/3 cup)
  • 1 TBSP Dijon mustard
  1. Preheat your oven to 350*.  Lightly grease a 9×5” loaf pan.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, mix together everything from the turkey to the rosemary.  Press into the pan.
  3. Blend together the tomato sauce, brown sugar, and mustard.  Pour evenly over the loaf.
  4. Bake for 1 hour or until the juices run clear when pricked with a fork (I think it takes a little longer when you cook GF).

And voila!  That’s it!  While it’s baking you quickly clean up your two dishes (throw them in the dishwasher) and then you rest.  Or better yet, play with your kids.  Then you enjoy your simple, savory, nutritious meal.  Throw a green salad in the mix and you look amazing!

I hope you have a wonderful winter day with your family!

Here is my list (so far) of main dish options.  If you have a great one to share I would LOVE it too!

  • Rosemary Turkey Meatloaf (of course)
  • Stuffed Bell Peppers
  • Tuna Noodle Casserole
  • Pasta Salad
  • Sauteed Salmon Patties
  • Stir Fry
  • Taco Salad
  • Bruschetta Chicken
  • Beef Stroganoff
  • “Clean” Chicken Nuggets with Baked Sweet Potato Fries
  • Chicken Noodle Soup
  • Beef Stew
  • White Bean Turkey Chili
  • Crisp Potato Chicken
  • Shepherd’s Pie
  • Best Chicken Salad Ever
  • White Wine Chicken Pasta
  • Hard Tacos (we don’t do soft anymore…)
  • Orange Chicken
  • Enchilada Casserole
  • Pot Roast
  • Spaghetti
  • Spaghetti Pie
  • Chicken Sausage Sautee
  • Savory Crust Chicken Bake
  • Grilled Pizza
  • French Onion Soup
  • Thai Chicken Spring Rolls with Peanut Sauce