Archives for posts with tag: gluten free

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I’ve spent a good portion of my life liking food.  Most of it is really great.  My body refuses to tolerate a whole lot of stuff (wheat, dairy, tyramine, and so on), but I know it still tastes fantastic, even when I’m not eating it – no sour grapes here.  And I love things that some people think of as…icky, like onions and mushrooms and goat and anchovies and clams and oxtail and oh just give me a little raw salmon and I blast off into a special culinary heaven that I’m sure exists only for me.

So I’m all about most food, and I’ll try almost anything once.  But there are two things I hate.  Two things that so offended my childhood palate, I gagged.  Repeatedly.   Kasha and eggplant. 

Now you won’t EVER find me backpedaling on kasha.  It’s never gonna happen.  But something miraculous did happen with eggplant today, and I thought it would be worth sharing.

I’d had my eye on the Johnson’s Backyard Garden CSA farm boxes for almost six months before I moved to the Austin area, and when it arrived on Friday, it did not disappoint.   Only…what were those?  I never would have bought those.  Was it a joke?  Sure, they’re cute, purple, relatively unassuming, but why did it have to be...eggplant.  And not one, but six of them. 

Now my daughter, almost three now, loves her vegetables.  When we laid this stuff out, you’d have thought we’d spread the contents of Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory on the table in front of her, the exclamations were that intense.  We’ve almost finished the entire thing – beets included.  But not the eggplant.  For four days now, she’s been asking me to make the eggplant.  They’re small and purple, and apparently delight her senses.  She wants to eat them raw.  I knew I’d have to do something.  And soon.

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Well, thank heavens I found this:  Adam Roberts’ Eggplant Dirty Rice on The Amateur Gourmet

It. is. so. delicious.

I made a few adjustments, three smallish eggplant instead of one medium, olive oil instead of canola, jasmine rice instead of white, only one green bell pepper (we’d eaten all the rest!), water instead of vegetable broth, slightly less cayenne, and I stuck with half teaspoons of the white and black pepper.  And then the biggest change:  I omitted the soy.  This worried me a little because soy is usually so dominant in a dish that it’s never really the same without it, but we don’t eat much soy for a variety of reasons, so I subbed two tablespoons of fish sauce in its place – and to my surprise,  it worked beautifully! 

(Disclaimer: It ceases to be vegan at this point, but I believe coconut aminos would work just as well as a non-soy sub too!)

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Only, now I can’t say I hate eggplant anymore.  And I’m sitting here hoping I’ll get more in my box next week. 

I just can’t believe it.

If you try it, let me know what you think!

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Okay, so I’m not a completely perfect Wheat Belly disciple, or Paleo, or Grain-free, etc., but I do most of my own cooking, avoiding processed foods and weird additives and preservatives and I very rarely use straight sugar for anything.  And most importantly, to me, I do choose to avoid wheat entirely and most of the food I make and eat really does fit within Wheat Belly and Paleo standards.

That said, these do not.  (Oats, chocolate chips, maple syrup…see where I’m going here?)

I decided to play with my own blend of no-bake “cookie” one day when I didn’t feel like breaking out the almond flour and dealing with the oven/toddler dynamics in my home this summer.  As it turned out, the almond flour made it in there anyway.

I’ve always found the idea of no-bake cookies icky.  It reminds me of the vegan stuff on the shelves of health food stores, big sticky cookies made mostly of flour (even before my wheat-free days, I was skeptical of too much of the stuff, even whole wheat, and always made my cookies nut-heavy so I could feel like they had some value).  But as it turns out, these things are actually pretty yum.  And my toddler loves them.

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You can pretty much add whatever you want to them, keeping your wet and dry ingredients about the same as you substitute.  Currants are nice, nuts are awesome although not toddler-friendly, and honey is good too even if it’s too sweet for my taste.

And they whip up fast.  So fast.

Here you go:

Oaty balls*

1 cup gluten-free oats
1/2 cup almond flour
1/2 cup natural peanut butter
2 Tbsp maple syrup
1 Tbsp mini chocolate chips (I use Enjoy Life semi sweet:  dairy- nut- and soy-free)

Dump all of these into a bowl in any order.  Mix until combined.  Let sit for just a minute as it sort of gels together and becomes slightly less sticky.  Roll into firm, approximately 1″ balls.  This is not an exact science.  Then, eat and/or refrigerate.  Makes about ten, depending on what you’ve added in.

I prefer them cold, especially because of the summer heat, and because they firm up a bit.  But do what you like!

Enjoy!

*Feel free to change the name to meet your family’s needs – I said it on a whim when I first made them, but my toddler asks for Oaty Balls all the time now, so we’re stuck with it!

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As I’ve mentioned before, wheat-free eating so quickly became a natural way of life for us, that I didn’t feel the need to chronicle the journey any more.  But that’s not to say there aren’t still hurdles along the way.

Breaking with old ideas about eating, ingrained for decades of our lives, is nearly impossible.  And bread subtitutes largely stink.

So I plan to visit from time to time to give a random recipe, and remind you of my pinterest board where I store a lot of other wheat-free ideas. 

And this morning, I made a wrap that was so yummy, my husband tried to eat it all up while my 1-year-old begged him for piece after piece, insisting “more!”

It’s a recipe from Dr. Davis, of Wheat Belly fame, that Prevention has made available online (from his new cookbook).  I include it for you here with the oil substitution I made, using what I had in the house. 

We used the wrap for an impromptu turkey-swiss-spinach melt.  The lasting impression for my husband was that it was crepe-like and had a lot of potential for other meals too. We decided that you could indeed substitute vegetable juices for the water, as suggested, or you could even make substitutions to make it sweet, like a crepe with berries and cream to top it. 

The point is that it is a quick, easy, low-carb, wheat- and gluten-free sandwich holder that holds together pretty well and has a good savory flavor and lots of potential.  And for the conventionally bread-free, what more could you ask for?

Enjoy!

Flaxseed Wrap

Makes 1 serving

3 tablespoons ground flaxseeds (can be purchased pre-ground)
1⁄4 teaspoon baking powder
1⁄4 teaspoon onion powder
1⁄4 teaspoon paprika
Pinch of salt
1 tablespoon coconut oil, melted, plus more for greasing the pans (I used olive)
1 tablespoon water
1 large egg

Mix together the ground flaxseeds, baking powder, onion powder, paprika, and salt in a small bowl.
Stir in the 1 tablespoon coconut oil.
Beat in the egg and 1 tablespoon water until blended. Grease a microwave-safe glass or plastic pie pan with coconut oil.
Pour in the batter and spread evenly over the bottom.
Microwave on high for 2 to 3 minutes until cooked.
Let cool about 5 minutes.
To remove, lift up an edge with a spatula.
If it sticks, use a pancake turner to gently loosen from the pan.
Flip the wrap over and top with desired ingredients.

P.S. The ad below belongs to WordPress. It is not mine.

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It has been almost five months since we first went wheat free.  Time is flying, and we’re still having fun.  It really hasn’t been a difficult change – perhaps if we’d cut out rice and potatoes from the start, it might have been more difficult.   As it stands we will still embrace the occasional potato, mound of jasmine rice, and bit of a wheat-free baked good with brown sugar, but only once or twice a month at most.  Our substitutions are turning out to be just as yummy as the originals, and in some cases, we enjoy them even more, for example, our spaghetti squash spaghetti, flourless peanut butter cookies, and cauliflower-topped shepherd’s pie.  Some are my own improvisations, others are adapted from the recipes of the growing numbers of fantastic wheat-free, gluten-free, and paleo cooks out there.  I have a pinterest board set up with several of the recipes I’ve found, if you need some ideas:  Wheat-free and easy

So far, I’ve lost 15 pounds, at a pretty steady average of 3 pounds lost each month, and Chris has lost 25 pounds.  Our little one, who I was sure had never eaten wheat before, has actually had wheat twice – once when she was about 5 months old and a nice Chinese woman presented her with a fortune cookie that she tasted the corner of, and some “toasted oats,” an old off-brand box of cereal I was getting rid of by taking it with us to feed the ducks.  She gobbled up the handful she grabbed, instead of throwing them into the pond.  She wasn’t impressed, just hungry.  But other than that, the whole family has been eating tons of whole unprocessed foods, and we’re feeling great as a result.

We’ve had our fair share of people expressing obvious irritation, or at minimum surprise, at our “lifestyle,” but thankfully my family isn’t really batting an eye.  They probably think it’s just another phase like my eight year reign as Vegetarian.  But I have to give them credit – my mom has already picked out a wheat free recipe and tried it, and my brother has suggested eating this way to one of his friends who has had such intestinal trouble that she had to have surgery.  I know that more than half of all people may not need to avoid wheat and gluten, but I think science will catch up to the idea soon that many of us are quite sensitive to it, and would benefit from its elimination, even if we don’t have celiac disease (Dr. Oz has even come around on this one recently).  Kind of like the misunderstanding that buying organic is about the nutrients (rather than the avoidance of pesticides) , I think there is a misunderstanding that living wheat free is about dieting and gluten-free foods.  I think the U.S. has strayed too far away from what the word “food” really means, and I hope our nation can get back to healthier notions in my lifetime.

But enough soapbox now.  Let’s talk bananas.

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My father is from Jamaica which means that I am lucky enough to have a whole host of delicious food still within my wheat-free reach.  And what isn’t naturally so, is easily adaptable.   But banana fritters???  I was sure I was going to have to leave that flour-filled breakfast treat behind me for good.  Not so, my friends, not so.  As of this morning, my beloved banana fritters are back on the table!  Here is my contribution to the world of wheat-free recipes:

Jamaican Banana Fritters

2 relatively small, very ripe, organic bananas (see top photo for size)
1 large egg
4 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil (just trust me)
1.5 tsp coconut flour (I use Bob’s Red Mill)
1/2 tsp baking powder

Mash banana with a fork until quite mushy.  Sprinkle coconut flour on top and mix well.  Beat egg in separate dish and add to banana mixture.  Sprinkle baking powder over the top and mix thoroughly.

Heat 2 Tbsp olive oil on medium in a large nonstick pan (you’ll need a lot more oil in a regular pan).  Drop heaping tablespoons of batter into hot oil and allow to spread.  Watch for bubbles to form on top (like pancakes) and lift one slightly to check the bottom for a nice golden brown color – then it’s time to flip.  Flipping is a delicate process:  they should hold together well when it’s time to flip them, but it has all the intensity of flipping a thin fried egg, so lift carefully, and try to have it land flat, as there is a slight tendency to fold (it’s worth the effort!).  You may have to experiment with the heat setting and the pan you choose, in order to get them just right.  Add the last 2 Tbsp of olive oil, if needed, and remove from heat when bottom is golden brown.  Place on a paper towel-covered plate to remove a bit of oil just before serving warm.

Serve however you wish!  I’m a purist when it comes to my fritters, but I bet they’d be good with heavy whipping cream on top, or served as a dessert with some ice cream, or maybe even as banana pancakes with maple syrup! 

The olive oil really doesn’t affect the flavor, unless I’m so used to using it for everything that I’m just not noticing it anymore.  Experiment with other oils if the idea of olive oil and banana is unappealing (pun intended).

It is supposed to be mushy in the middle, but you can experiment with using less banana too, and that might make for a flatter fritter.

Did you try it?  Or do something different but better?  Let me know, I’d love to hear about it!

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I’m not sure if this photo translates the true colors as well as standing in the aisle yourself, but this gluten free manicotti and stuffed shells has a sickeningly corpse-like pallor, all pasty grey-white and clammy looking.  So to be fair, more like a fresh corpse, really.

I like rice noodles, but if that’s even what these are, a little photoshop is in order.

I decided to head out to the grocery store after my dentist appointment this morning, on Day 2 of my wheat-free adventure.  Day 1 was off to a pretty great start, but by the time early evening rolled around, both of us were texting each other our ailments, each sick as a dog (what does that even mean, anyway?).

He had just spent the morning singing the praises of wheat free life, his perpetual stomach burning, a serious presence in our daily life for the past eight years, literally stopped within the first few hours of kicking wheat. Foods that used to be triggers for him (coffee, cheese…) even when eating them without wheat, have just ceased to cause him the usual pain. And my intense and overwhelming daily food cravings hadn’t so much as greeted me a quiet hello. And I’m certain I felt strangely light on my feet.

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So even though I expected it to come, I was still surprised when, after eating my lovely little quiche (hey, I’m no food photographer) and my cut up pieces of uncured hot dog, I felt positively ill. I was a kind of nauseous that fell somewhere between my worst days of morning sickness and a fairly awful hangover. And my husband had it too, only his came with a headache, joint pain, and some odd foot pain too. But he didn’t even eat the .88 lbs of raw veggies dipped in several ounces of brie – see, that’s where I thought I’d gone wrong. But no, this was honest to goodness wheat withdrawal. And it was beastly.

Today was much better. I decided that I need some carb-y gluten free snacks and greek yogurt to get me through this first phase here. My husband said, “The first thing to go is the plan.” Maybe so, but I also picked up two huge salads, and I slow roasted a pile of chicken for our dinner tonight and lunch tomorrow. And tonight, I only had a brief bout of nausea. And he felt great. Stomach pain? “Not a lick,” he said, for a second day in a row.

It may take a while to sort out all the foods we plan to keep around, but we are certain, only two days in, we’re happy that we’ve given wheat the boot.