Sunday, February 1, 2015

BOO! I'm baack! (Plus a granola "recipe")

Why, yes, I am still alive...  I have toyed with several post ideas, including healthy gluten-free shopping at various places...   but self-promotion has obviously never been my big thing...  heh.   So I want to talk about the current state of affairs in being gluten-free, and in being healthy.  

I picked up America's Test Kitchen's gluten-free cookbook, which, while not doing everything I wanted it to (because I don't use flour blends) has helped me on my quest for a whole-grain gluten-free bread.     The secret is psyillium husk.  

For me, I need fiber in my diet, but it is one thing that most gluten-free baked goods lack.  There is too much sugar, fat, and tapioca flour in most gluten-free baked goods.    

Or they are HORRIBLE (certain gluten-free graham crackers come to mind).  And I am working on a recipe for those, too.

And that is what worries me about a tendency of doctors to tell people to "cut out gluten" to lose weight.  Doctors, if you suspect someone has a gluten issue, TEST them first.   They can always go off it, even if the test is negative, and see if it helps.  But if you do have a problem, and go off of it, you can't be tested unless you go back on.  

Now, yes, I know, I went off of it as an experiment.  But I kind of regret that.   I wish I had an official diagnosis, i really do.   But I refuse to go back on gluten and be sick (er).  

So I've been working on baking whole-grain bread, whole-grain treats, less stuff that comes in a bag or box...

I even made marshmallows the other day.   Yes, I know, not whole grain, or low sugar.  But easy.   And probably healthier than the junk in the grocery store, with dyes and whatnot.  

The thing is, being gluten-free does not mean you should not have treats.   But instead of the high-sugar, low-nutrient stuff from your grocer's freezer, play with your food.   Make granola.   Which is actually really easy, and you barely need a recipe, just a guideline.

Preheat oven to 350.

Take some butter and sugar, you can add honey as well...   heat it up until the sugar is melted, and it is all combined, but you don't want it caramelized.    You can add vanilla or almond extract if you want.

Put gluten-free oats (I buy mine from Trader Joes) in a big bowl, along with any additions you'd like.  Sometimes I use flaxseed, chia seed, sunflower seeds, any kind of nut, coconut...  you could add gluten-free oat bran or rice bran, up the fiber...   sometimes I'll even add cocoa powder or cacao nibs.    Pour the sugar syrup over the oat mixture, making sure to leave clumps as you mix.   Put on a cookie sheet and bake... until golden brown.  

Let cool, put into a jar or other container.  This is when you can add dried fruits, if you want, or chocolate chips...   enjoy on yogurt, with fruit, on ice cream....  

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Crackers, crackers, crackers...

Back when I was eating wheat, my favorite crackers were Wheat Thins.  (Those and Triscuit). Anyway, since today was rainy and cool, and I've been out of crackers for a while, I decided to experiment.  And ended up with these.
Two flavors here, plain and sundried tomato, although you could have infinite variation.  

Preheat the oven to 350.  Assemble ingredients and a food processor.  For the base flavor, you will need:
1 cup cooked steel cut oats with chia seed 
.5 cup cooked brown rice
1 tbsp coconut oil
.5 cup almond meal
.5 cup cornmeal 
.5 tsp salt

Place all ingredients in food processor and whirl until combined. The texture will look something like this.

Get a cup or small bowl of water, your cookie sheet with either a silpat or parchment paper, the water, and some coarse salt.  Dump about one third to half of the dough onto the pan, and use the water to help pat it out very thin.  Sprinkle with coarse salt and score with a pizza cutter into approximate squares.  Bake until GBD.  Pull out of oven and separate while still warm.

For the tomato, I added two tablespoons of sundried tomato to the rest of the batter, whirled it to combine, and did the same.   You could add dried basil, or those kale chips you made thinking they would be tasty, crumbled up....almost anything goes....

Friday, May 2, 2014

Things to watch out for if you are cooking for a celiac...

Gluten lurks in unlikely places.  It can lurk in a spice or coffee grinder, when someone uses stale bread to clean it out.   In the oil of a fryer.  In condiments, and not just soy sauce.  If you've ever dipped a knife in jam or mayo and then spread it on glutenous bread...  then contamination!  Bouillion cubes, puddings, boxed rice mixes... Even sugar, if you have been baking, and scoop the flour first.

It can be the crumbs on the counter, or hidden in the crevices of a cutting board.    A Measuring cup, a sieve, a pastry cutter (some people use them to chop eggs for egg salad).  

If someone eats a gluteny snack, then reaches into my gluten-free snacks...contamination!  

It is easy to avoid, though.  Wipe down, wash up.

Wash everything before using it.   If you are using a spice grinder, run rice through it a couple of times to clean it out before using it.

Have a dedicated gluten-free cutting board, maybe sieve, and colander.  

Open fresh condiments.   Fresh mayo, jam, etc. And maybe label them gluten-free.  Use a fresh spoon in them each time.

Cook simply.  Roast chicken.   Rice (just watch what you put in it, butter can also have crumbs!), simple salad with a vinegar dressing.

That being said.  With all these opportunities for contamination, I think I'll just stay home :)

What unlikely thing has gotten you with gluten?

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The Paranoia of the Gluten-free.

So, I'm on a message board where an innocuous-seeming thread was posted.   "How do you chop up your eggs for egg salad?"

One of the answers was genius, but also paranoia-inducing.  A pastry cutter.

AUGH!  Gluten! Nooooooooo.

It is the little ways that gluten can creep into a meal.   The baking powder where someone has used a measuring spoon in the flour, and then dipped in to the can.   Or just rinsed something off after using it for a gluten product.   Or multi-taskers.

And some things you can clean adequately.   And some things you cannot.

I went to a restaurant where they deep-fried the baked potato to warm it up.  In the same fryer with breaded fried things.

It isn't worth it to go out and eat.  To go to people's houses and eat.

Gluten is an evil, evil, insidious substance to those of us who avoid it.

It limits my life so much.

I have not dated, in part because of it.

I'm an adventurous eater, but not when it involves gluten.

And man, I HATE sounding like Meg Ryan when I order.   And I hate that that stereotype exists enough that everyone knows exactly which character I mean.  

I'm not picky, I'm paranoid.  

I just hate that I have to read every single label, every single time.  Cheese, bread, chips, coffee, tea (yes, herbal tea can have gluten)

I hate that in a shared home, I feel like I have to have my own kitchen.  I hide my gluten-free cutting boards in a closet.   I have notes and sharpie over various jars "gluten-free" "Do NOT TOUCH" "use clean knife only".  If someone reaches into a gluteny snack and then into my bag of chips, you just glutened me.

Most of the time, I don't say anything, if I see a transgression.  I just avoid the food.  Or throw it out.


I do comment on boards and things with a hey! great idea, but!  One friend, on FB has banned me from "glutening" up his threads for a month, though.

I just wish this was easier.   Because I feel like a pariah.  But I cannot turn off the voices in my head.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Deconstructed Sushi Salad...

So, this was born out of necessity.   The CSA is giving us cukes, cukes, and more cukes.

No quantities, just however much you want to serve people...  (I'm a casual cook)

I cooked up some black rice.

While that was cooking, I diced (medium dice) up two cukes, a scallion (you could use two) and some green garlic (or just use a little microplaned garlic in the dressing).  I cubed up an avocado, and tossed it with a dressing of rice wine vinegar and tamari, combined everything, including the cooked rice, added a handful of crumbled nori and some pine nuts, and voila!  dinner!

(No pic, I was hungry enough that I inhaled the whole thing, and then went for seconds)

You could add shrimp or salmon, if you wanted some protein, but if not, this makes a lovely vegan lunch/light dinner.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Soup and salad, fennel and carrots.

Ah, csa season...  Fennel, carrots, scallions....  Today I have created a lovely carrot and fennel salad, and a carrot top ( note the LACK of capitalization here) soup.

These use most of the same ingredients, as you see in the picture.  Fennel, carrots, scallions.  The chicken broth and V-8 are for the soup, as is the yogurt.  (Chicken broth and V-8 are in a later pic...oops)

So we start with the salad/slaw.  
Scallions, fennel, some of the fronds of the fennel, carrots, golden raisins, candied ginger if you have it.  Shred the veggies using the slicing blade on your food processor.  Chop the fennel fronds coarsely, chop the candied ginger finely.  Toss everything in a bowl, along with a lovely vinaigrette.  

I just made a simple, slightly sweet one with vinegar, honey, olive oil, mustard.  You could throw in a little lemon or fresh dill if you wanted to!

And voila!

Now the soup is equally easy as well as delicious .

You will need a large pot, more scallions, a few carrots, fennel fronds, carrot greens, chicken broth (or veg broth, or water, in which case I would add some garlic in with the scallions), a small can of V-8, and yogurt.  And a little olive oil. 

Chop up the scallions,  sauté in a little olive oil in the pot.  Slice up the carrots, add those.  Chop up the carrot greens (feathery part only), and the fennel fronds, throw them in and sauté.  Add the chicken broth and V-8, and simmer.  Add more water if needed.
Stir yogurt in right before serving or chilling.  Top with a little scallion. 

Note: you can add potato or brown rice to this soup.  You can also purée it for a smoother texture...

Thursday, May 23, 2013

A Gluten-free Memorial Day Weekend.

Ahhh, summer is almost upon us.   The feel of sand under our feet, ticks in our hair,  road construction delays... and BBQs/cookouts.   A new way for hidden gluten sources to reach out and throttle us!   Time with family!  (Hopefully NOT followed by a glutening!)

So, you say, how can I have a fun gluten-free cookout for family and friends?   I'm here to tell you!

1) Make sure any BBQ sauce you use is gluten-free.  You can even make your own by cooking together tomatoes (canned are fine), brown sugar, a bit of chopped onion, garlic, a splash of vinegar, and worcestershire sauce.
2) Toast the rolls in the oven.   Not the grill for the hamburgs/hotdogs/lamb/etc.   There are gluten-free hotdog/hamburg rolls out there which are quite's a way to win some:

Udi's parties down.

Quinoa substitutes wonderfully for bulgur.   Make a quinoa "tabbouli" instead of potato salad.

Cook the quinoa according to package directions.  Mix with chopped parsley, mint, onion, and tomato.  Add salt to taste and a squeeeeeeeeeeeze of lemon.   And voila.   (you can also add feta chunks too)

Or instead of hamburgers, how about a leg of lamb?  

With potato salad, just check your ingredients.  

And what about strawberry shortcake for dessert?   Trader Joes has these "French Rolls" which make excellent shortcake bases.   Just top with whipped cream and strawberries....

Or make a pavlova (if the weather ever clears up..since you can only make meringue when it is clear and dry).   Make two large disks of meringue, and flop fruit and whipped cream between and on top.

You can also buy meringue cookies and layer them with fruit and whipped cream to make a trifle-type dessert.

(or replace the whipped cream with a thick Greek yogurt, if you are watching your fat)

Or what I will be having, hopefully, which is watermelon!

If you are serving gluten-foods with gluten-free foods, make sure everything has its own spoon/serving utensil.   And keep the gluten-free foods isolated!

Is there something you would like to know how to cook gluten-free?  Ask me in the comments!