Category Archives: gluten-free

sandwich

I know, if I want to just tell you what I’m eating, why not just say it on Twitter? (amiright? high five!)

But I’m telling you, it’s a revelation of a sandwich.

Tomato
Fresh basil
Goat cheese
Honey
Fresh-baked french bread (made with coconut oil, which makes an amazing flavor difference)
Sriracha, as needed

You try it and tell me it wasn’t blogworthy.

Grandma Shirley’s pecan pie filling

What you need:

1 cup corn syrup (I use light, as if that makes it all better)
1 cup sugar
1 t. flour (I use GF all-purpose flour)
3 eggs
1 t. vanilla
2 T. butter or margarine (I use vegan “margarine”, but I’ve used any number of buttery things)
1 cup pecans (whole or chopped, I usually use halves)
1 9-inch unbaked pie crust

What you do:

Preheat to 350. Beat eggs just a little. Add sugar & flour. Add corn syrup, vanilla, and buttery stuff. Add pecans, stir really well (I use a fork). Bake on bottom rack for 45-50 minutes. Keep checking your crust throughout, though, and if it starts to burn, put foil over the crust for the remainder of baking. It’s done when it’s nice and brown on top, and you can lightly push on the top with a fork, and it bounces a little but isn’t obviously still liquid underneath. I know you love my scientific instructions.

gluten-free beer-battered onion rings

My father-in-law had some onion rings the other night, and as soon as I smelled them, I knew I absolutely MUST have them. I no longer consider eating gluten-free a problem, so there is only one problem with battered things: I also can’t eat eggs. Eggs are easy to replace in baking–I use a flax seed / water combo for breads, crusts, pie filling, etc. I’ve used the flax combo once for frying chicken tenders, and it went okay, but the batter didn’t do the best job of clinging to the chicken once it was in the frying pan. Of course, I’ve never been great at frying things, even gluteny things. Green tomatoes, squash, zucchini, okra, yes. Meats, not so much.

I was going to use an egg recipe and use the flax combo, but I didn’t have any bread crumbs, so I found a beer batter recipe that didn’t require eggs or bread crumbs. Very simple, from allrecipes.com. Then I just adapted it gluten-free.

What you need:

1 cup gluten-free all-purpose flour (I used GF pantry)
1 cup gluten-free beer (or the allrecipes blurb says you can replace this with sparkling water) (I used Redbridge)
2 onions (or 1–I ended up frying 1 onion and freezing half of the batter for later)
salt to taste
pepper to taste
Tony Chachere’s cajun seasoning to taste
your choice of oil for frying (everything tastes better fried in extra-virgin, unrefined coconut oil)

What you do:

Heat the oil in a big frying pan. Slice the onion into rings (I did about 1/2 inch rings). Mix all the dry stuff (flour and seasonings). Add beer and stir until it’s smooth. You might try adding a little extra beer. My problem here is that I couldn’t just dip the onion rings in the batter and then throw them in the oil, because the batter was too thick and almost formed. Maybe I stirred too long? Anyway, I had to basically glob the batter on the rings haphazardly. They didn’t turn out pretty. Anyway, get the batter on, however you’re able to, and fry the onions over medium heat until the onions are soft and the batter is crispy. I usually start with the oil on medium-low to medium heat until whatever I’m frying is soft-ish, and then I turn the heat up to medium to get the batter crispy. I was never really taught how to properly fry anything, because we had a FryDaddy, and I wasn’t allowed to touch it, and we never fried anything in a frying pan other than chicken-fried pork chops, and I only watched. So I’ve just been kind of winging it. So fry your onions until the batter is crispy, then remove the onions and drain on paper towels.

Frank likes fry sauce on his onion rings, so I made him fry sauce using 1 part mayo and 2 parts ketchup. I don’t know if it was any good, because I can’t do mayo right now.

Enjoy. And if you have any tips on frying stuff, please share! These onion rings were ugly but tasted great.

Sunday’s dining adventure

Frank and I really don’t eat out very often. The main reason is money. We’re on a strict budget so I can stay home (that’s really important to both of us) and we can pay off the debt from our previous house, and any dining out has to come out of our grocery money. Since we’re gluten-free, our grocery budget is already huge, and I haven’t been inclined to make it any bigger, and I don’t want to eat beans and rice every day of every week.

This year, we’re going to be able to eat out a little more. I’ve added a few extra dollars to the grocery budget, and we’ve decided to stop just *saying* we’re going to try new restaurants and actually get out there and do it. We know we can get good gluten-free dining experiences at Chang’s and Outback and Epi’s and Cottonwood and a number of other pricey restaurants. We’re going to try some of those when money allows. But we also want to try decently-priced restaurants and see how their gluten-free experience is.

We tried to start that Sunday after worship. We drove to an Indian restaurant on State Street that we haven’t eaten at. It smelled wonderful when we walked in. But alas, it was lunch buffet time, and the place is tiny, so it was completely full, and we decided to try again later. Then we drove to a Santa Fe Mex kind of place I’ve seen a few times. Closed on Sundays. Argh. We went downtown, because we were already close, and decided to try the Indian restaurant down there. Also closed on Sundays. Across from it was a sushi place that is–can you guess? Closed on Sundays.

So we gave up and decided to just go to On The Border. We know the salsa doesn’t suck, and they have allergen-free menus available, so it’s easy to eat there, especially since I also have to be egg- and dairy-free right now (oh, and it’s going to get worse, because I’m going to cut way down on corn). On the way there from downtown, we passed by another “Mexican” restaurant we’ve never tried (see, we have tried very few restaurants), Cinco de Mayo, and decided to give it a shot. When we walked in and only white people were eating there, we should have turned around and walked out. We have yet to find good Mexican (or Tex Mex or Santa Fe Mex) here.

One trend we’ve noticed in Idaho is that the restaurants serve you bean dip as well as salsa while you’re waiting for your meal. That’s good, because the bean dip is usually good, while the salsa is horrific. Two of the Mexican restaurants I’ve eaten at here put basil in their salsa. Basil. I feel like Rachel Lucas, unable to find good Mexican food in my new home. It would make sense if Idaho didn’t have a Mexican population, but we do. The table guac was good, so I have to give them that. The mole wasn’t bad. But if you’re a Mexican restaurant and don’t have good salsa, it’s just not going to work out for us. It’s not me, it’s you.

Anyway, we’ve decided that Sunday is just the wrong day for our new eating adventures, so we’ll probably move it to Thursday evenings. You know, during Buttercup’s crankiest time of day. :)

Related: Susan has a great post on mainstream restaurants that cater to the gluten-free crowd. We don’t have a lot of those restaurants, but if you’re in the Metroplex, you do. Actually, most big cities have most of them. Go check it out.

Gluten-Free, Egg-Free, Dairy-Free Chocolate Pecan Pie

I adapted my recipe from here. I just now noticed that the recipe says it makes two pies, and I put all my filling in one pie. I don’t think I would have liked it as much if I’d followed that little instruction. The pies would have been small and shallow, so I’m glad I missed that. Anyway, here’s my take on it with the adaptations for our house full of food intolerances.

What you need:

*1 unbaked pie shell (I made up a Gluten-Free Pantry Perfect Pie Crust mix and used more than half of it for one pie, because I like my pie crust thick–the mix is supposed to make 4 pie crusts, but I’ve never gotten more than 2 out of one)
*6 Tbsp flax meal
*12 Tbsp water
*3/4 cup white sugar (I use organic evaporated cane juice, but I’m sure white sugar works)
*1/4 cup packed brown sugar
*1 Tbsp all purpose GF flour (I used the GF Pantry all-purpose flour mix)
*1/2 cup non-dairy butter substitute, softened (I used something called Vegan Buttery Sticks and wanted badly to tell the cashier when I bought them that I’m a total meat eater)
*1 cup light corn syrup
*1 tsp vanilla extract
*1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (just make sure they don’t contain milk or whey)
*1 cup chopped or halved pecans

What you do:

1. Preheat oven to 350. Get your pie crust ready and into the pie plate.
2. Measure out your flax meal into a bowl then measure the water into the bowl. Don’t mix yet–let it sit for a few minutes. Soften your buttery sticks while you’re waiting. When the water looks like it has seeped fully into the flax, agitate it a little with a fork. If it’s gummy, it’s ready. Beat the mixture a little, like you would beat eggs if the recipe called for eggs slightly beaten.
3. In a large bowl, blend the flax mixture, sugar, brown sugar, flour, fake butter, corn syrup, and vanilla.
4. Add the chocolate chips and pecans, and mix well.
5. Pour into the pie crust. Bake at 350 for at least 40-45 minutes. I say at least, because it took a while for this to set. After 45 minutes, I took it out of the oven, covered the edges in foil so I wouldn’t burn the crust, and put it back in for a while. I just shook it gently every 5 or 10 minutes to see if the middle had set up yet. I think it went a good hour and 15.

And now you know why my recipes aren’t in journals and cookbooks. That whole precision thing.

successful everything-free baking!

For Christmas, I made a pecan pie and a pumpkin pie, among other non-pie things. To update you on how difficult this can be, I am still gluten-free (don’t see that ever changing) and egg-free. I cut eggs out almost completely during pregnancy, and since my stomach has not been quite right since Buttercup’s birth, I eliminated them completely after I had her. And then there’s cow’s milk products. I suddenly became dairy-tolerant during pregnancy, which is good, because my only major cravings were potatoes and cheese, of which I ate vast quantities on myriad occasions. But now that Buttercup is on the outside, she who made dairy possible while on the inside has a problem with dairy. Her horrible reflux became almost nonexistent when I cut out dairy. So I’m also now cow’s dairy-free. Thank goodness for goat cheese.

Aaaaaaanyway. I said all that to say this. My gluten-, egg-, dairy-free pecan pie turned out great. The pumpkin… well, we called it Crusty Pumpkin Pudding, as it refused to set up for me. But still! Successful pecan pie! I was so proud.

Then on New Year’s Eve, I made a chocolate pecan pie. Sans gluten, eggs, dairy. In fact, I think it contained chocolate, pecans, soy lecithin, and air. But man, it was awesome. Frank was scared, because he just thinks you shouldn’t mess with pecan pie, since it is The Best Pie In the World, but he loved it. I was thrilled that it turned out so well (and insanely rich, due to all that sweetened condensed air), because I’ve wanted to make a chocolate pecan pie ever since I had it at the Stagecoach restaurant in Temple, TX.

So if you want the recipe, I’ll post it.

Hot date

Frank took me on a hot date Friday night (but first, he wrote this. I’ll pause while you awwwwww). I went dress shopping and came home with three options. This is the one I wore on the hot date:

Oh, and when I got home from dress shopping, Frank was home from work and had lilies waiting for me. Lilies are my favorites.

We had dinner reservations for Cottonwood Grille, a wonderful restaurant downtown next to the Boise River. Frank had specified when making the reservation that we would need to dine gluten-free. So when we got there, they handed us our 2-page gluten-free menu. We asked to sit outside. The patio is next to a big rock waterfall and pond–so pretty. The weather was nice and breezy, with just a little bit of a chill–if I hadn’t been pregnant, I would have been freezing.

We started looking at the menu, and I took forever to decide on what to eat. I’ve gotten used to having a maximum of ten choices at any given restaurant, so a full two-page menu was just options overload for me. Not to mention that they’d also given us a regular menu, and at least half of the items on that menu had gluten-free options available. Too many choices! :)

We shared a crab cocktail for our appetizer (I was starving when we got there), and then we both had the onion soup (without the crouton, of course). And when they brought us our soup, the waiter set down a basket of bread. “And here is some bread for you. It’s gluten-free.” !!! We never get to eat bread at a restaurant! So that was a very welcome surprise. I ate lots. And the onion soup was probably the best I’ve ever had.

It sprinkled on us a little while we finished our soup, and as soon as the family next to us moved inside due to the weather, it stopped sprinkling. There was only one other couple out there, and they were gone before our entrees arrived, so we had the whole patio to ourselves.

Frank had some scrumptious looking venison in a cabernet sauce, and if it had been a little more cooked, I would have tried it, but medium rare is just too raw for me. I had the stuffed prawns florentine with garlic mashed potatoes and some kind of squash. All was very good. The sun started setting while we ate our entrees, and it was gorgeous. We talked about lily pads and whether the ones on the pond were fake. We talked a lot about Buttercup, too, of course.

The waiter came and boxed up our leftovers and took our dessert orders. Frank had ordered a martini to go with his dinner and was only half finished with it when he got up to go to the bathroom. And as soon as he left the table, the wind picked up. I could hear it coming from across the river–the trees were LOUD–so I had a feeling. Sure enough, it was soon no longer breezy. More like mild hurricane-ish. The water started blowing off the waterfall and pond, Frank’s napkin went flying, I waddled over to get it and waited for him to get back so we could go inside.

The waiter brought our desserts before Frank was back, so I made an executive decision and just asked if we could finish up inside. So he took the dessert plates while I grabbed the boxed leftovers and Frank’s martini. I thought we’d just take one of the tables right inside the door, but I got to waddle all the way across the dining room, half-drunk martini in hand, six months pregnant. I avoided all eye contact with the other patrons.

Frank found me, and he wolfed down a yummy looking raspberry creme brulee while I had a yummy chocolate mousse, which he helped me finish off.

Dinner was gooooood. We decided it was too late to go anywhere else, so we went home, did some hot date stuff (IYKWIM), and watched half of the RiffTrax for Return of the King. Yes, we’re old, and our favorite thing to do on a Friday night is watch a movie with RiffTrax.

It was a great date. I wonder what we’ll do for our hot date next July, when we have a nine-month-old in the house. We’ll see!

Finagling

We’re planning to go to Texas for two weeks at Thanksgiving to… well, show off the baby and give the relatives ample holding time. We only get to go to Texas every other year or so, so we want to spend lots of time with the fam and also see some friends while we’re in town(s). We’ll spend a couple of days driving each way, so that really puts us down at 10 days in Texas. And we’ll need to spend multiple days in each of Amarillo, Big Spring, Fort Worth, and Abilene.

So I’m trying to figure out how I can finagle spending an entire day in Dallas. Close to Ft. Worth, yes, but that’s a WHOLE DAY to cut out of family/friends time.

I usually avoid Dallas as much as possible–I’ve always said it’s good only for sports teams and restaurants (yes, as a 25-year F-Dub resident, I’m firmly in the Ft. Worth camp in the ever-important question of Fort Worth or Dallas?). But see, that’s why I need to spend all day there–food.

I was browsing for gluten-free options in Ft. Worth (since the trip is only 5 1/2 months away) and came across a restaurant called Kozy Kitchen. I first looked at their breakfast menu. Gluten-free French toast. I’ve made it for Frank (quite successfully), but he’s never been able to order it at a restaurant. There’s just something about being able to order your (that is, his) favorite breakfast food at a restaurant that you can’t recreate at home. And of course, there are several things on the breakfast menu I would eat. GLUTEN-FREE PANCAKES, PEOPLE! Again, I can make them and have eaten them, but never have I been able to walk in and order them at a restaurant. Nevermind the Hangover Helper, which just looks YUM. I mean, I’d order it without the eggs, but YUM.

And then I went to the lunch menu. Um… buffalo burger! With a gluten-free option! There’s a bunless option, yes, but this is an option to have your buffalo burger on a gluten-free bun. Yes, yes, I make GF buns all the time, but again, it’s the whole restaurant thing. When you go gluten-free, your restaurant options severely dwindle. Even in the three years that I’ve been gluten-free, the options have expanded hugely, but there are still entire don’t-even-bother restaurants, some restaurants where you can eat maybe one thing unless you want only steamed veggies and boring chicken, and others where the gluten-free items might as well not even be listed, because the cross-contamination is so bad that you’ll be sick no matter what you order. And generally if you’re eating gluten-free, you’re eating expensive, or you’re at Qdoba, Pei Wei, or Chipotle (and in Boise, we have only Qdoba of those three). You can get into a rut where there are only four or five restaurants you’ll go to because you know you can safely eat at them without research (Chang’s, Outback, Chipotle, Qdoba, Five Guys, etc.). So to see a restaurant offering a buffalo burger (have I mentioned my love of buffalo burgers before? Because I would marry them.) with a bun I can eat is just… well, sigh. It gives me hope. And no, you can’t make me care (at least not 5 1/2 months in advance) that I would be paying $14 for a burger. You just can’t. This is the first time I’ve ever seen a gluten-free burger on a menu that isn’t just the meat and fixin’s. I’m sure that’s partially because I live under a rock and we don’t eat out much anyway (costs money), but hey. I just saw a gluten-free bun available for order at a restaurant, so I’m a little giddy.

The dinner menu looks wonderful, but can we just skip right to dessert? All desserts are gluten-free. Ah, so… an assortment of sorbets, right? (I do love sorbet, but I’m not always wanting sorbet.) Listen to this. Italian Wedding Cake, Carrot Cake, Tres Leches. Gluten-free. Bunch of other stuff, too, but those are things I would actually consider ordering. Forget the egg thing. I’ll eat eggs on vacation. Not gluten, but eggs, yes.

So yeah. I have to make this happen for three different meals. Somehow.

Grandma Shirley’s Oatmeal Raisin Cookies (adapted gluten-free)

What you need:

1 cup Crisco
1 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1.5 cups Pamela’s baking mix (or 1.5 cups white flour if you eat gluten)
1 tsp salt
.5 tsp baking soda (1 tsp if you use white flour)
1 tsp vanilla
3 cups oatmeal (1 minute, but I used Bob’s certified GF oats and let the batch sit a while before baking)
.5 cup chopped nuts (I use pecans)
.5 cup raisins

What you do:

Preheat oven to 350. Cream sugars & Crisco. Add eggs & beat. Add salt, soda, vanilla. Mix. Add oatmeal, nuts, & raisins. Bake 12-15 minutes. Cool completely before removing from cookie sheet / baking stone, especially if you make them gluten-free. Wait till they firm up, or they’ll fall right apart on you. I used a baking stone, and they came out perfect after 14-16 minutes.

With friends like Cadet Happy…

Remember my petits fours?

Cadet Happy spilled the beans on my secret ingredient…
Read more »

Gluten-free petits fours

I haven’t made petits fours in at least five years–I’ve been involved with hardly any wedding or baby showers since then until the last two weeks and hadn’t been in a baking mood–and I’ve certainly never made them gluten-free. I’ve only ever made the Southern Living recipe for petits fours, so when I decided to try making gluten-free petits fours for a baby shower this past weekend, I just went back to that. I was lost on the question of how to adapt a white-flour, non-gravy, non-fried-food recipe to use gluten-free flour instead, and frankly, I’m a little lazy and haven’t researched what works best, so I decided to try it with Pamela’s baking mix and see if it was remotely close.

Elle was throwing the baby shower, and the mom-to-be had asked for something gluten-free, having had Pamela’s wonderful gluten-free chocolate chunk cookies at Elle’s wedding shower (also, Elle’s just nice and wants me to be able to eat). We went to Caldwell and looked for something at Cliff’s Country Market, which has a big selection of gluten-free items, including a lot of baked yummies in the freezer. We didn’t see what we were looking for (though I did take the opportunity to pick up a few things), so I started thinking that maybe, just maybe, I would give petits fours a shot.

I told Elle I would try to make them, and on Thursday I ordered a new beater for my Kitchenaid (you can’t leave those burnished beaters soaking, or the coating starts to come off in your batters thereafter). I told Elle the same day that I wasn’t sure if they’d come out, and I basically told her to have a backup plan ready. I figured they had a twenty-five percent chance of survival.

Well. They survived.

You may have noticed from the terrible picture (my kitchen lighting sucks, I have no kitchen windows, and I haven’t yet bought the flash for my camera) that my petits fours aren’t perfect little squares like you would see in the Southern Living book (I have the older version of that book). Yeah, well. I’m an amateur, and I kinda like how they’re all different sizes. They’re supposed to be individual cakes, so why should they conform? Also, mine aren’t always even, as you see. That’s because I’d rather have a slanted cake than no cake at all.

Okay, I’ll stop talking and give you the recipe.

Gluten-free petits fours: adapted Southern Living recipe

I measure out the first 6 ingredients before I ever get started:

1 cup shortening (it hurt to use Crisco for the first time in three years, but it tasted so good)
2 cups sugar
3 cups Pamela’s baking and pancake mix (one day I’ll learn to mix them myself, but for now, this works)
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup ice water

Beat shortening at medium speed until fluffy; gradually add 2 cups sugar, still beating.
Combine baking mix, baking powder, and salt while the shortening and sugar are beating; add to shortening mixture alternately with ice water, beginning and ending with the flour. Mix at low speed after each addition just until blended. After your last flour addition, dump the batter into a giant bowl.

1 1/2 tsp clear imitation butter flavor (I only had yellow–it does not matter)
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
3/4 tsp almond extract

Add the three flavorings to the batter, mix in well. Wash your mixer bowl. Taste the batter. Thank the Lord that anything so tasty exists.

4 egg whites
1/2 tsp cream of tartar

Beat egg whites and cream of tartar at high speed until stiff peaks form (I actually used my wire whip instead of the beater for this part). This takes a few minutes. If you’re not sure if your egg whites are stiff, they’re probably not. Gently fold one-third of the beaten egg whites into the batter, then fold in the remaining egg whites. Pour batter into two greased and floured 8-inch square pans. I always forget to flour them. You can use either rice flour or the baking mix–I used the baking mix.

Bake the cakes at 325 degrees for 40 to 43 minutes. The first batch, I went with 40; second batch, I baked for 40 and kept them in the turned-off oven for five more; the third batch, I baked for 43. They all came out pretty much the same. Just insert a toothpick in the center of each cake and make sure it comes out clean.

While the cakes are baking, sift ten cups of powdered sugar.

Cool cakes completely in pans on wire racks. (The first batch, I made the mistake of taking them out of the pans after ten minutes, and that doesn’t work so well in GF baking.) When the cakes are completely cool, remove them from the pans to the wire racks (this is a delicate process, be careful). Freeze cakes on the wire racks until firm.

Trim crusts from all surfaces, making sure the tops of the cakes are flat. Or do the best you can, because you can always cut a little here and there from each cake if you have to. Or you can have little slanted cakes like me! Oh, I sometimes flip the cakes and trim the bottom crust, and I sometimes don’t. That bottom crust just tastes heavenly, so I like to have it–but the picture in the SL book shows it without the bottom crust, so let’s call it baker’s choice. I find that my Pampered Chef bread knife works best for trimming the crusts and cutting the cake.

Cut each cake into 16 squares and brush away the loose crumbs. You can use a ruler for this, or you can do what I do, which is cut down the center, then cut each half down the center, then turn the cake and do the same thing. Place cake squares 2 inches apart on wire racks. Make sure you put the racks over cookie sheets (the kind with sides–I seem to have none of those anymore, so I used the bottom of my broiler pan), and do not try using just paper towels on top of your ceramic stove, because that would be bad and cause a giant candy mess all over the stove that is very hard to clean up. Not that I would know or anything.

10 cups sifted powdered sugar
1 cup water
3 Tbsp light corn syrup
1 tsp vanilla or almond extract (I use almond, because I love the flavor hard. I’ve also used peppermint extract in the past, and those are yummy too.)

Combine powdered sugar and next three ingredients in a large saucepan; warm over low heat, stirring constantly (I whisk) until smooth. Quickly spoon warm icing over the cake squares, completely covering the tops and sides. This takes a while, and your shoulder may hurt. Apply Tiger Balm and move on. To the shoulder, not the cakes.

Scrape/spoon up all the excess icing that fell through the wire racks and into your cookie sheet. Put it back in the pan and reheat until smooth. If necessary, add water to maintain the icing’s original consistency–I wish I’d seen this little instruction, because my icing just kept getting thicker. Continue pouring and reheating icing until all cakes have been iced twice. Let icing dry completely.

You can decorate these with frosting, or you can just throw little ornaments on top like I did. OR you can leave them plain, which I have done in the past. Instead of using decorator frosting, I decided to color the icing a pale baby pink. Except that I used a tad much food coloring (ya think?!) and turned them Pepto. It worked out anyway, because they matched the decorations, but next time I’ll either leave them white and throw on the ornaments or use a wee smidge of paste food coloring instead of four wee smidges.

This is supposed to make 32 petits fours, but I was only able to get about 24 out of each batch. Because in each batch, one of the cakes would fall out in the middle when I removed it from the pan. It was a different pan each time, so I don’t know if it’s because my oven is tiny, or maybe it bakes unevenly, I don’t know. All I know is that I have never been able to get 32 by making only one batch of this recipe, even when I made it with gluten.

The baby cakes were a huge hit at the shower, at home, and in my belly.

See’s Candies – now with allergen info!

Word UP, See’s. I love you. I’ve loved you for many years, ever since I won two pounds of you as a prize playing Bunco at church on New Year’s Eve. And now I know which of you I can eat, which means that I no longer have to sigh when I see the store full of you in the mall.

Two years!

According to the gluten meter, today I’m two years gluten-free. !!!

ME: Wow, two years gluten-free!
HE: Wow. And you feel better?
ME: Yeah. Remember how bad I felt?
HE: I remember how bad I felt from all your whining!

It’s his loving support that’s gotten me through.

I’m not entirely healed, and I know I’m taking longer than a lot of people, but considering that I suffered all my life and had three horrible years before y’all diagnosed me (thank you thank you thank you), I expected it to take two to three years to be entirely well. Plus it took me too long to figure out that I’d developed intolerances to other foods. Live and learn, peeps.

Health update

My EEG is scheduled for this week. If it is clean (other than the slow left temporal lobe, which is most likely from a stroke I never knew about), I can wean the rest of the way off my seizure meds. I don’t have the tingles much except when I’ve forgotten to take my calcium and B-vitamins for several days in a row.

Garden of Life finally has a raw food multivitamin that is gluten-free. I bought a bottle to see if they’re any better than my Country Life raw food multi. Oh, and the ingredient list again had “malt diastase,” same as the horseshoe-zyme pills from the same company. So I looked it up, because the label says gluten-free. It turns out that malt diastase is an enzyme that helps you digest… wait for it… malt. So that’s apparently not what was making me sick when I was taking the horseshoe-zyme pills before.

I’ve started drinking two ounces of aloe vera juice every day. Sounds disgusting, but this particular brand (George’s, I think) tastes like water and is not slimy. It’s good for general healing, and since I would someday like to get over my lactose, egg, and corn sensitivities, I will try anything I can to quicken the healing.

Sprouts. The farmer’s market and supplement smorgasbord. I’d like one in Boise, plz kthx. Their papaya enzymes are better than the Now brand that I previously took (and will again someday take, because we do not have Sprouts, and I only bought two bottles). I also got a new probiotic for a specific issue there, but I can’t remember the name of it. It’s peachy, and I bought another general probiotic from the same brand. The Country Life probiotics weren’t doing it for me.

And here’s a piece of advice for you crazy kids out there: If you’re lactose intolerant, for the love of Pete, do not give in to your craving and eat a bowl of chocolate almond ice cream for dinner. I’m really glad I work at home in the afternoon.

Sweet beet

Here’s another boring juice recipe for you from your friendly neighborhood crunchy (certified gluten-free) granola muser. It’s a ripoff of Essay’s beet/carrot/grapefruit/celery juice that she made me at her house two weeks ago. I made it yesterday and would have drank (drunk?) two gallons if I’d had enough carrots.

5 large carrots, root end removed
1 pear (d’anjou), quartered, stem removed
1 grapefruit, peeled, quartered
1/2 large beet, with greens
1 stalk celery

Makes 24 ounces. This is very sweet and nigh perfect.

My poor sweetie

I went shopping after work, since I still have a job that could last two weeks, six months, or years. I went to Wal-Mart (forgot to get the thermal underwear, the specific reason I went to Wally World), Costco, and Fred Meyer. I came home and told Frank about the food I got for our trip.

SARAHK: I got a lot of snacks and food in case we get hungry and aren’t anywhere near a city. Even if we are near a city, we don’t know if it will be big enough to have food we can eat. So I got gluten-free crackers [Glutino -- they're good], goat cheese, smoked oysters, and cocktail sauce. I figured we could eat that if we got hungry…
FRANK J.:
SARAHK: I also got some sardines. I’ve never tried them before. I’ll probably hate them. They always look and smell gross to me.
FRANK J.: [Scrunching up his nose.] Did you get any normal food?

So then I told him about the fruit, chips and salsa, SPAM [I try not to eat pork, but during really busy weeks and travel, I'll eat it], beef Lil’ Smokies, summer sausage (I had to show it to him so he’d know what it was), trail mix, and roasted almonds. He was cheerier after that.

Of course, I’m thinking I’ll stick to the nitrite-free stuff. Lately I haven’t had so much trouble with nitrites, but I don’t like to bombard myself with them, because migraine scares me.

Pearcabbeet

I made this juice today, and it was super-yummy:

2 small beets, with greens (not peeled)
half a handful of watercress
1/2 inch horseradish root (I think the horseradish was too soft, so I didn’t get much juice out of this — no spice at all)
2 pears, stems removed
1 apple, stem removed
1/8 head of green cabbage
1/3 cucumber, peeled
2 cloves garlic, peeled
salt to taste

Makes about 18-20 oz. It was sweet and fresh with a mild garlic hint. Next time I’ll add a Meyer lemon, more horseradish, more watercress and more cabbage. Possibly also some dried red chilis. There was no spice to this at all.

Cranberry Orangetastic

Y’all may get annoyed with all my juice recipes, but so far I’ve just been winging it, playing around with the fruits and veggies (even though I have three juice books here and one on the way). Tonight I made this:

2 cups grapes
2 cups cranberries (wow, those suckers don’t have a lot of juice in them!)
1 mango, peeled and stoned
2 oranges, peeled

Simple and yummy.

I have already used the pulp:

Pulp from the above
1/4 cup turbinado sugar
Juice of 1 Meyer lemon (I am LOVING Meyer lemons)

Stir it all up, and it makes a sweet and tart cranberry dessert. Could also add coconut milk, goat cheese, goat’s milk yogurt for a different twist.

Have I mentioned how much I love juicing?

Juice!

It’s a short story that I managed to make into a long one in a different post, but the skinny is this: I got a juicer. I’d been pondering it for a couple of weeks, and after consulting my only whole/raw healthy fooded friend, Mensa, I went with this little beauty from Breville. Mensa has a fancier Breville, but I figured I’d start with a good yet modest juicer and move up to the juicinator types later if I’m actually using the juicer as much as I hope to.

I got the juicer Friday night, and I’ve juiced every day except yesterday — and I was all mopey and depressed today, though that could have something to do with the election. I will survive.

Anyway. I am loving my new toy. I make fruit juices for Frank, fruit and veggie juices (at which Frank sticks up his nose on account of them not being full of sugar) for myself, and nothing for the animals. My first juice was apple juice, and it tasted like cider. I saved the pulp for making applesauce.

Tonight I made two juices that were great hits. First, a tropical little fruity number:

2 kiwis, peeled
1 pear, cored
roughly 3 cups of white grapes, stems removed
half a pineapple (soft-cored, so I used the core), peeled
1 mango, peeled, stoned (okay, that’s funny right there)
1/2 inch of fresh ginger, peeled

Tossed it all in. Voila, juice. Frank loves it and seems to have declared it his favorite so far. Makes 24 ounces.

Next, I made a healthy and uber-yummy veggie drink for myself:

1 stalk celery, bottom cut off
2 carrots, trimmed, peeled (I made carrot juice with the peels on the other day, because I don’t peel my carrots anymore, but it was too bitter)
1 beet root, trimmed and peeled
2 big leaves collard greens (I would have used kale, but the grocery store hasn’t had it lately)
4 stalks asparagus, trimmed of hard bottom parts
5 stems of cilantro
5 roma tomatoes, tops trimmed off
1/2 red bell pepper, seeded and cored
1 clove garlic, peeled
2 dried red chilis

Tossed it all in, added a little Kosher salt (just enough to zing the garlic) before drinking. Makes 24 oz. This is my favorite juice yet, but it gave me a nasty migraine that lasted about twenty minutes. I drank a 12-oz. glass and had to really resist the urge to go back for that second glass. I let Frank taste it, and he said, “Nyeh. It tastes like dirt.” More for me.

I like to make the juice at night and drink one glass, save the rest in the refrigerator, and drink it when I get home from the office. It makes a delightful afternoon snack and fills me up.

I’m really happy with the purchase. I haven’t figured out what to do with all the pulp yet. I know I can work it into a food dish, like fruit chutneys or sauces for fish, but so far it’s all sitting in the fridge. I hate to throw out all those tasty nutrients.

Anyone else here juice? I know, it’s a long shot since I don’t have many hippies reading (phew!), but I thought I’d ask.

Chicken Noodle Soup

I don’t have time to write out all the instructions before bed, but I want to get the ingredients listed before I forget:

Meyer Lemon olive oil
coconut oil
several leaves basil
2 handfuls cilantro
1 stalk rosemary
fresh grated nutmeg
Old Bay (not too much)
2 Carrots
6 stalks Celery
1 medium yellow onion
cayenne pepper
kosher salt
fresh ground black pepper
2 chicken breasts (I used 3, and it was too much)
3 boxes GF free range chicken broth
GF noodles (lasagna noodles broken up worked well)

Doggone. I forgot to put cloves in it.

This was perhaps the best chicken noodle soup I’ve ever had. I’ve had one chicken soup (no noodles) that was maybe better, at a hotel buffet in Tel Aviv, of all places.

The Gluten-Free Dinner Menu volume 5

Or 6, I don’t know.

Monday
*Buffalo wings, with ranch dipping sauce. I know that some blue cheese is not made from bread mold, but I’m still not healed, so I’m not willing to risk it.
*Garbanzo bean salad. Canned garbanzo beans, drained, with olive oil, garlic, red onion, cilantro, a splash of balsamic vinegar, Kosher salt, and fresh ground black pepper.
*Fresh berries with goat cheese

Tuesday
*Avocado Salad with Orange-Wasabi Glazed Chicken.
*Fresh berries with goat cheese

Wednesday
*Grilled sole (I’m going to use the ingredients in this recipe)
*Boiled zucchini with salt & pepper. You can grill it or saute if you prefer, but I’ve always loved zucchini even boiled.
*Fresh berries with goat cheese (I’m kind of on a berries and goat cheese kick this week, can you tell?)

Thursday
*Chile garlic BBQ salmon (substitute Tamari for the soy sauce).
*Chebe, made flatbread style, topped with sliced tomatoes, fresh basil, olive oil, fresh garlic, balsamic vinegar, and probably goat cheese.
*Fresh berries with… goat cheese!

Friday
*Chicken tikka masala
*Brown basmati rice
*Garlic-cilantro gluten-free na’an. For garlic-cilantro na’an, I just add chopped fresh garlic and cilantro to the dough before rolling it into balls. Also, because of my too-much-dairy-makes-me-sick problem, I use coconut milk for both the milk and the yogurt. Also, we usually use egg replacer instead of eggs. Coconut or olive oil for the oil. It comes out very fluffy. It’s not going to have the same texture as all-purpose-flour na’an, but in my opinion it is even better.

Saturday
*Grilled salmon. I coat the salmon in Old Bay, a little bit of garlic powder, and a lot of Frank’s hot sauce.
*Roasted beet wedges. We had these Sunday night, and wow, they were good. Just roasted in olive oil with salt & pepper. Even Frank liked them. But don’t freak out when your poo is purple. I was expecting it, so I didn’t call an ambulance.
*Fresh berries and goat cheese

Sunday
*Spicy garlic salmon. I used more like five or six dried chiles. This was very yummy. (I go out of order on my menu depending on my mood, if you can’t tell.)
*Cabbage. I like to saute it with coconut oil, GF worcestershire sauce (not too much), salt & pepper.

Nectar of goat

Being gluten-free forces you to discover new tastes, because unless you want to eat a plain chicken breast with boiled carrots for every meal, you have to read cookbooks, stock your kitchen with ingredients you’ve never used, and basically re-learn how to cook (especially in the baking department). I don’t know how I would have handled having to be gluten-free if I didn’t love to cook and weren’t already pretty darned good at it at the time of semi-diagnosis.

I read a lot of cookbooks. I don’t skip over the science and how-to parts of the cookbooks either, because that is often where I find my inspiration. I use all kinds of cookbooks to figure out what in the world I’m going to cook in the coming days, weeks, months, and years. I also spend a lot of time at allrecipes.com. I’ll decide to try a new ingredient, such as a vegetable I’ve never used, or I’ll look for a way to make ground beef less mundane. When I make our menu for the week (on the weeks that I actually do that), I spend a good two hours or so determining the menu and making the grocery list.

This week, I was looking at The Maker’s Diet book (not a cookbook, more an overall health through food book) for inspiration. In the first phase of the diet, one of the things you’re allowed to eat is goat cheese. I’ve come across this several times looking for food inspiration. Cheese made from goat’s milk. I have quickly discarded it every time. Everything I’ve ever heard about goat cheese is, “Goat cheese? Eww. No,” or “Isn’t that make from goat’s milk? Eww. No.” So I’ve let that color my feelings about goat cheese without my ever having any. And I’m guessing that most of the people who have said, “Goat cheese? Eww. No,” to me have never had any either.

I decided to stop being a chicken and try goat cheese. It has less lactose than cow’s milk cheese, and even with the lactase pills, I’m still having problems with dairy, so lower lactose is a big plus. I bought a tiny thing of goat cheese Thursday (how can it be so tiny yet so expensive?), figuring I would try it, just to say I did, and then throw out what was sure to be a most disgusting bit of food.

Last night for dinner, since we’d had a big lunch of leftover chicken tikka masala, I made a Chebe flatbread with olive oil, fresh basil, a beautifully ripe garden tomato, and balsamic vinegar. I also put out a bowl of strawberries and blackberries and cut up some goat cheese.

So now I have a question. Why has no one ever told me that goat cheese tastes like cream cheese? Except it’s richer and denser and a little more tart, so a little pinch envelopes your tongue as if you just had an entire spoonful of cream cheese. I was putting little swipes and bits on top of individual berries, and I was in food heaven.

It’s my new favorite thing, and that’s saying something, because at lunch we had beets roasted in olive oil with salt and pepper. Yum.

The Celiac Dinner Menu volume 4

This was going to be our menu this week, but I worked late a few times and was just too done with the day to put a lot of effort into food, so very few of these things were actually made. Oh well.

Monday
*Crabcakes, or as we call it around here, crab mush. I still haven’t been able to make them stay together without using an egg or glutenous bread. I use gluten-free bread crumbs (made from gluten-free bread, not the brown rice crumbs you can buy), but so far they are not firming up. I saute them in coconut oil rather than baking them. Maybe next time I’ll try the oven. Anyway, I had leftover crab from when I made sushi last weekend, so I needed to use it up.
*Garlic broccoli
*Fruit

Tuesday
*The usual. Avocado Salad with Orange-Wasabi Glazed Chicken.

Wednesday
*Oyster Stew, made with coconut oil and coconut milk instead of cream. And even when we lived twenty minutes from the Atlantic Ocean, I used canned oysters, because I’ve never shucked an oyster. Three cans, with the juice. May require a little more salt because of the coconut milk, but if you can use half-n-half, then you don’t need to modify it. And obviously, it needs more than a pinch of cayenne if you love the fire in the belly. I’ve so far not been able to find GF oyster crackers and have thought of making my own. Anyone have a recipe or know who makes them? I’d love to hear suggestions.
*GF garlic bread
*Fruit

Thursday
*Red quinoa with a simple pasta sauce. I didn’t get a chance to make this, but I was going to use fresh garlic, green onions, mushrooms, white wine, a lot of lemon, shrimp, and either Worcestershire or coconut milk. With salt, crushed red pepper, and fresh ground white pepper to taste. Soak the quinoa for two to four hours before boiling it.
*Fruit

Friday
*Tilapia simmered in coconut milk, turmeric (or curry powder if you prefer), ginger, cinnamon, garlic, and shallots. Saute all of the spices and shallots in coconut oil before adding the coconut milk and fish, and salt to taste. I also usually add a pinch of cloves and a dash of cayenne. We love this fish, and I haven’t made it in a long time. Also goes well with green onions in place of the shallots.
*Roasted Garlic Potatoes
*Fruit

Saturday
*Steaks (make sure there is no gluten in your marinade — I make my own, and it’s different every time, and since there is no gluten in my kitchen, I’m sure there is none in my marinade)
*Grilled parsnips (never tried this, but it sounds like it could work…)
*Fruit

Sunday
*Chicken Tostadas with Super-Awesome Guacamole
*Fruit

Bone appiteet.

Tasty

Wednesday I had to stop on my way to work to get something for lunch, because we had no bread and no leftovers. Amy’s Organics haven’t been doing it for me lately, mainly because I can’t eat the cheesy Mataar Paneer, and the GF/DF enchiladas contain lots of corn (which I’m trying to avoid, except that I’ve cheated heavily this week by eating a most heavenly sinful snack more than once). So I went to the organic section at Fred Meyer looking for a can of GF soup (Pacific Foods has several flavors I can eat). On my way to the soups, I saw Tasty Bites. I found a couple of varieties that I could eat — gluten-free, Kosher, vegan. Yay, because vegan means, among other things, no dairy. I decided to pick up two boxes and try them out. Wednesday I had the Bengal Lentils, and they were exactly what the name said: tasty. Today I did bring myself a peanut butter and pickle sandwich, but I’m meeting my MIL and SIL for sandwiches, Jamba Juice, and Mamma Mia after work, so I decided to save that sandwich for then. Which gave me a chance to try the other tasty dish I’d bought: Bombay Potatoes. I took one bite, and my tastebuds were mighty happy.

So I immediately found that Amazon sells many flavors, so I ordered a 12-pack of each of the flavors I have already tried. They’ll be great as last-minute lunches and also alone or over rice as a quick side dish when I make jalapeno chicken, which has a nice Indian-ish zing to it. There are several more flavors out there that I can eat, but I want to try them each before I commit to 12-packs.

I take back everything I ever said about chick doctors.

Which will make Kimmy happy, since she is one… or is going to be one… I never know what they’re called when they’re doing rotations.

Anyway, this isn’t about Kimmy, it’s about ME (isn’t everything?) and about my awesome new girl doctor. It’s no secret around here that I do not see chick doctors. Yep, I’m prejudiced against them because all of the girl medical professionals I’ve ever met were of the “well, I made it through med school with the big boys so here, have a harsher-than-necessary pap and a smile” variety. That and because when I finally got over myself and went to a female doctor, she turned out to be an appointment-missing quack who put me on unnecessary hormone shots for six months.

But again I decided to get over myself; after all, most everyone is nice in Boise, so maybe there’s hope for the girl doctors. Plus, you should see my insurance list. 4000 girl doctors to every 1 guy doctor, it seems.

I finally asked my church peeps for a recommendation, and one of the girls gave me a couple. The first one she mentioned is Dr. Ashley Davis, hereafter to be known as Dr… Crap. No, she’ll not be known as Dr. Crap. I mean, crap. I’ve already used Dr. Wonderful and Dr. Awesome… Oh! I know. Dr. Super-Fantastico. Anyway, my friend at church told me that she’s big into the celiac thing and really gets gluten intolerance. Done a lot of studying on it, celiac is her BFF, all that. So I figured she’s my best shot at an understanding doctor.

I knew I was going to like her before I ever met her. Walking down the hall toward her office, there was a big old Texas Longhorns poster right next to the sign pointing people to her office. Being that the majority of transplants here are from California, a Longhorn was a welcome warm fuzzy.

Her nurse weighed me (that reminds me, I really do need to tell y’all about the falling out I had with Mr. Wii Fit a few weeks ago, but that’s another sad sad story for another time), and that was depressing, but I already knew it was coming because my neuro’s office weighed me last week. 164. Yes, I know, I’m supposed to be in the 140s now, but there’s a story behind it, really. Okay, so fine, whatever, I’m a cow. Blood pressure high for me (128/86, I think, and I’m normally 96/68).

The waiting for her to come in and see me seemed interminable. Normally I am totally cool with the waiting at the doctor’s office, because hey, I’m not the only sick person in the world, and plus, it’s quiet, and you can put me anywhere with an iPod and a book, and I’m good. But knowing that she’s big on the celiac kick, I could not *wait* to meet Dr. Super-Fantastico. I was so antsy and hopefully anticipatory.

She finally came in, and I knew I would adore her. She was in long shorts and a tank top. No stuffy lab coat, no pretense, just hey, what’s up, I’m your new doctor. Sweet. She ignored that the main reason for my appointment was to get a referral to an endo (you have to put down your #1 reason, and if she can get to your #2 reason in your allotted time, consider yourself lucky, so I had to choose, and being that my meds are almost out, I put down the referral as #1) and skipped right to where I put down that I have the tinglies. She said, “I already have one blood test I want to run for you.” Coolio. She asked how I found out about her, and blah blah blah, since you’re big with the celiac, I think you’ll be the doctor who will understand me best. She perked up. “Why? Are you celiac?” Well, it’s complicated, innit? I explained the negative bloodwork, negative biopsy, and all of my symptoms (actually, I think I missed mentioning several symptoms, because I didn’t feel the need to prove to her that yes, I do have celiac or gluten intolerance, because she was already taking me seriously, and I wasn’t on the defensive). By the time we’d even gotten to the possibly-misdiagnosed epilepsy, she told me she thinks I’m celiac. I told her about the negative DQ2/DQ8, which technically doesn’t rule out celiac, just gives me a <1% chance of being true celiac. So she said that at the very least I’m gluten intolerant. I agree! She also asked if I’d considered having my poo tested. I have considered it, yes; studied Enterolab‘s whole website a while back. In fact, if I’d known about them pre-gluten challenge, I would have sent them my poo first instead of making myself sick on sweet, sweet Totino’s pizzas. We talked about Dr. Ford, one of the big experts in gluten intolerance and celiac, and she pointed me to his two-minute YouTube video about how gluten makes people sick. That video is wacky, you should watch it. Gave me a good morning laugh. Everything he says is true, but it is way oversimplified so doctors can understand it ;-) and the prop demonstrations are comedy gold.

About the tinglies and the electrical shocks. It sounds like she thinks my electrical shocks are due to the pinched nerve in my low back (L4-L5), and now that I’ve read more about it, I can agree with that. It’s just that my electrical shocks never happen when I’m not having the major tinglies in other parts of the body. But that can be coincidence. I don’t buy that my hoo-hah tinglies have anything to do with my back. I just can’t see that, because the electric shocks in my right leg are one-sided, and my hoo-hah is right in the center. I know, that’s dumb logic there, but who wants to believe that they get random tinglies in The Hah because they somehow jammed up their lower back? Not me.

The tinglies are a different affair. She went straight to vitamin deficiencies first and decided to take a gallon of blood to run several different vitamin serums, and I was so hoping she would do that. She asked me more about symptoms, and — this was my favorite part — she asked if I have Reynaud’s. She didn’t ask, “Do your fingers lose their circulation and turn colors when you get too hot or cold?” She asked, “Do you have Reynaud’s?” Just totally assumed I’d know what that meant, and I did. “No… I don’t think so. I mean, sometimes when it’s really cold, I kinda think my fingernails are a little blue, but then I realize that’s just because I know it’s out there, and I’m imagining that I have it, but I’m pretty sure I don’t.” “Your fingers would turn white first, then blue, and go numb.” “Nope, I don’t have that one.” I LOVE when doctors respect that you’ve done your research and talk to you as if you have.

She talked about B-12 levels. My mom will love this, because she used to torture me when I’d visit relatives by making me get B-12 shots, and I would hate her and all of my aunts for it. And then I became an adult and was allowed to say “Get that needle away from me, or I will jam it in your eye.” Anyway, low B-12 can cause neuropathies and paresthesias, so she’s checking that. And because of the gluten intolerance and lactose intolerance and the fact that most fortified foods are off my list, she said I need to have vitamin levels checked regularly, because it’s harder for me to get everything I need from my food. I agree, and I feel like an idiot for not having it done sooner. And then she amplified her celiac cred even more. She has patients who have celiac with normal B-12 levels, but they still have the tinglies. So she just called up Dr. Green and asked him how that was possible. I was like, “Oh, I’ve read his book twice!” and she was all, “I’m thinking I’m going to read it again myself!” Anyway, Dr. Green pointed out that gluten can cause nerve damage in celiac patients. That part kind of sucked, because if my B-12 is normal, then that means the tinglies could be permanent. But it also makes complete sense, because your gut is basically your other brain. Then again, I had the nerve conduction studies last year, and at least in my arms and legs, they found that my nerves were really good at feeling the pain of electroshock therapy. But again, they didn’t shock me in my face, head, tongue, or Hah.

She asked if I have symptoms of low vitamin K. I explained some of my low K symptoms, with the bruising and all that — it’s much better now than it was, but I still bruise easier than I should. “Do you get nosebleeds?” “Well, my nose bleeds every time I blow it.” “Oh, just every time?” And when we talked about A and D, I was like, “Which one is it that gives you bumps on your upper arms if you’re low? I have that. And also, before gluten-free, I had lots of bladder and kidney infections, but those cleared up with going gluten-free and taking a vitamin A every day.” She listened to everything and wrote it all down.

What else… We talked about autoimmunes and the increased risk for others once you have one…

Anyway. She’s running panels for A, D, E, K, B-12, kidney functions (to see if the anticonvulsants are affecting my kidneys), and some other stuff. And she said she can handle my thyroid stuff as long as it’s just hypothyroid, so she wrote my scrip for that and is running the thyroid bloodwork to see how my thyroid is doing.

She’s on vacation next week (I said, “What is it with doctors thinking they need to take vacations like real people?”), but at least she told me so. I see her again in two weeks to go over my results. She stood to leave, and I refrained from saying what I was thinking. “You’re the only girl doctor I’ve ever liked! I’m so glad you were recommended to me! Do you wanna be BFFs? You complete me!” Instead I thanked her and shook her hand.

Her nurse came in to drain me like Angelus after pure bliss — took five tubes of blood right there in the office. That was nice, because in Florida, you always had to go to the blood labs for blood. My doc in the Metroplex had a lab right in his office, but I hadn’t seen it like that since then — I guess Boise is just more advanced than Florida.

Oh, you know what? That needle sticking in your vein hurts more if you watch. It’s like magic, the way the pain intensifies.

The Celiac Dinner Menu, volume 2

This week I’m bringing back a couple of oldies-but-goodies. By oldies, I mean we haven’t had them in a while. We haven’t had the fish tacos since before we went gluten-free, so it should be interesting…

Monday
*Most Excellent Potato Soup (a note on that — I usually use more than 2 cans of coconut milk now. If it is a little on the sweet side, salt balances it out nicely. Also, you can use heavy cream if you prefer.)
*Garlic bread (I used one of the leftover muffins from the hamburgers. Try it with coconut oil instead of butter — it’s killer)
*Fruit

Tuesday
*Avocado Salad with Orange-Wasabi Glazed Chicken.

Wednesday
*Brown rice pasta with this pasta sauce (also added GF Worcestershire, shrimp, mushrooms, and spinach)
*Fruit

Thursday
*Well, it was going to be BBQ chicken in the oven and roasted garlic potatoes, but I got glutened HARD at Louie’s at lunch. So Frank had a frozen Amy’s meal (Mattar Paneer), and I had Colby Jack cheese (not much, just a little) and Jennie’s macaroons.

Friday
*California rolls
*Smoked salmon rolls
*Shrimp sushi
*Wasabi & reduced-sodium tamari, a wonderful couple they are

Saturday
*Fish tacos. I, of course, have to change this one up. I’ll use either the all-purpose mix from Gluten-Free Pantry or the one from Bob’s. I use Bob’s to make gravy, so I imagine it will work fine here. Beer obviously contains gluten (barley malt), so I’ll use Redbridge gluten-free beer (made from sorghum instead of barley). On the sauce, I’ll leave out the mayo because I’m not doing much in the way of eggs right now, and I’ll replace the yogurt with coconut milk. I’ve made this sauce several times with coconut milk (I love the sauce for crab cakes), and it is fantastic. We have trout onhand that my FIL caught, so I’ll use that, and as much as I love corn tortillas, I’ll have to forego those for dark teff tortillas.
*Guacamole
*Fruit

Sunday
*Brown rice pasta with meat sauce
*Garlic bread made from the leftover muffins
*Fruit

Kind of a carb-filled week, but whatevs. Next week I’ll probably be all about fish and veggies.

Missing Chex Mix?

Occasionally I do. Can’t have it. Gluten and whatnot. I don’t miss it much, but the other day, Frank and I were walking through the grocery store, and we saw these giant bags of Chex Mix. Frank said, “Ooh! Chex Mix!” He’s gluten-free for my health, so my immediate response was, “I’m sorry.”

Well. Rice Chex has gone gluten-free.

I’m going to have to do what Shauna did and get myself a box. So many snacks I can make with Rice Chex!

Avocado salad with orange-wasabi glazed chicken

This meal is one of our weekly staples, but I modify it to make it even better. Here’s how.

First, the ingredients. I leave all of the measurements the same for the sauce, but I drop the meat down to two chicken breasts, since there are only two of us. I don’t do mixed salad greens much, and I love spinach, so I replace the mixed greens with spinach. I also use Thai Chili sauce where it calls for hot sauce — gives it that extra zing. If you are GF/DF, check your wasabi paste — I bought one once that had either wheat or dairy in it, so now I buy wasabi powder and make up my own paste with a little bit of coconut milk (works better than water for wasabi purposes, makes the wasabi creamier). If I’ve recently made something that calls for port wine (I have exactly one recipe that calls for that), I’ll use the port instead of red wine and cut out some of the sugar. If you don’t like sweet food, cut back on the sugar anyway, because this sauce is sweet. I leave out the tomatoes, because Frank just pushes them to the side anyway. The recipe doesn’t call for it, but I sprinkle garlic powder over the spinach leaves before topping the spinach with anything else; with that modification, this meal has all of the ingredients of my guac.

I don’t follow the directions with this one at all, really. I don’t bake the chicken. I make the sauce as it requires, and after I’ve added the orange juice and wasabi, I saute the chicken in the sauce until done. While the chicken is sauteeing, I fill up the plates. First the spinach, then garlic powder. Red onion next. Kosher salt. Fresh ground pepper. Thai chile sauce. Lime juice (I use half a lime for each plate). Avocado (sometimes 1/2 an avocado for each salad, and sometimes a whole avocado for each). When the chicken is done, I put that on the salads, and I spoon on liberal amounts of the sauce. Sometimes I add colby jack cheese (if I think I’ll tolerate it).

It’s really a great salad, and even the vegetable-hatin’ Frank loves it when I make this.

Roasted Garlic Potatoes

Ok, this one is super-easy and ready in about 30-45 minutes.

What you need:

*5 large red potatoes (with skins, they’re the healthiest part!)
*3 or 4 heaping Tbsp extra-virgin, unrefined coconut oil
*2 or 3 tsp extra-virgin, unrefined red palm oil
Note: You can use olive oil instead of coconut and palm if you prefer, but I’d use less of the olive oil. The reason I use the palm at all is for the olive oil flavor. But you have to use palm oil very sparingly, or the olivey flavor overpowers everything else. So I use mostly coconut with the palm thrown in for flavor. I wouldn’t use canola or another flavorless oil.
*2 to 4 cloves garlic to taste (I use 4), chopped roughly – not too small
*3 serrano peppers, cut up but not too small or they burn (optional)
*3 shallots (optional)
*Kosher salt to taste (remember if you normally cook with table salt, you will use less of the Kosher salt, because it’s more vibrant in flavor)
*Fresh ground or cracked black pepper to taste
*Any other spices you want to use — I used dried dill this week, and they were even yummier, but they are perfectly yummy with just the salt & pepper. Old Bay would probably be good, too. Basil. Chili powder. Curry. Whatevs.

What you do:

This is the part I never do the same: heating the oven. I can never remember whether to do 325 or 375, so lately I’ve just been setting it to 350. That works fine. I put about half of the coconut oil on the bottom of the baking dish (9×13-ish), and I don’t melt it first — that would just be one more dish to wash. Add the potatoes, garlic, serranos, shallots — I kind of layer. Potatoes, then the other stuff, then potatoes. Top with globs of the rest of the coconut oil & the palm oil (spread out the globs). Top with salt, pepper, and spices.

Pop the dish into the oven, and stir every five or ten minutes. Make sure you stir the stuff at the bottom of the dish, too, or the garlic and peppers like to stick and burn. Potatoes are done in 30-45 minutes. We like them plain or dipped in Maull’s BBQ sauce.

Oh. Funny story. The other night Frank was helping with dinner, and I had emailed him very specific instructions, because I was working late. I even said in the email, “When you open the oven to stir the potatoes, don’t stick your face right in it, because you’ll burn your face off. Open the oven, back off, and then move closer after a few seconds.” Our oven really hits you in the face if you open it while it’s on. So I got home and helped him get everything into the oven. Then I went to Wiirk Out (update on that tomorrow). While I was working out, I reminded him to stir the potatoes. This happened:

FRANK: Ow.
SARAHK: Did you burn your face off?
FRANK: Oven hot.
SARAHK: I told you.
FRANK: I didn’t hear you. Oven hot.
SARAHK: I told you in the email. You read the email, right?
FRANK: It was long.

He’s so cute.

The Celiac Dinner Menu volume 1

Congratulations, y’all are the blessed recipients of my new blog series (over/under on how long it will last? And can someone tell me what over/under means?). It starts today and will probably be erratic and happen on whichever day I remember to do it. I’ve wanted to do this for a while to help out newly diagnosed celiacs (like Kate, who I’m sure does not need my help, kitchen queen that she is) and/or bored old hat celiacs. Anyway, it’s my gluten-free menu for the week. You’ll notice several menu items that will pop in almost every week and sometimes twice a week (I’m looking at you, roasted garlic potatoes and avocado chicken salad). This isn’t because gluten-free limits you on variety (on the contrary, I eat a bigger variety of foods than I ever did when I was on gluten) but because we love these dishes.

The other reason I want to do this (besides the helping people) is so people can rid themselves of the notion that gluten-free means eating naked (with no seasonings, breading, sauces, gravies) and choking down a plain chicken breast with a couple of lettuce leaves every night.

You may thank Kate for inspiring to get off my butt and do this and another series I’ve been planning. More on that one later. See, sometimes I just need motivation and something to talk about.

Alright, so I’ll give you my menu (planned or unplanned, depending on the week) each week and then try to include recipes once or twice a week for some of the items on the menu.

Keep in mind that I’m gluten-free, dairy-free, corn-limited, and egg-limited. People out there who are gluten-free only have it even better.

This week’s menu:

Monday
*Baked BBQ Chicken
*Roasted Garlic Potatoes
*Fresh fruit

Okay, I know that sounds boring, but it’s not. This is one of my standby meals for when I just don’t feel like cooking or I work late or whatever. I use Wal-mart brand chicken and keep a couple of bags of it in the freezer. Wal-mart is really good about marking their food gluten-free if it is, and their holding solution doesn’t contain wheat (as of today), so it’s safe for me. I also bought a case of Maull’s barbecue sauce a couple of months ago, because all of their sauce is GF except the beer sauce, and because Lou went out of his way to verify his sauces are GF. We’re big fans of the Jalapeno (it is our favorite so far) sauce. We also like the Sweet & Smoky and the Kansas City Style (not so much the Genuine, and we haven’t yet tried the Sweet & Mild or the Onion & Garlic). Once we have a grill, I’ll do this on the grill, but for now, I slather the chicken in the sauce and bake it on the broiling pan. I like to make this with the potatoes, because I can do both in the oven at the same time, and dinner is ready in about 45 minutes — also because we like to dip the potatoes in the BBQ sauce. I’ll post the recipe for the potatoes this week.

Tuesday
*Avocado Salad with Orange-Wasabi Glazed Chicken, with modifications. This is one of the meals that Frank considers a “special” meal, even though I make it every week. I’ll post all of my modifications soon, because I make several.
*Fresh fruit

Wednesday
*Hamburgers – yes, we can eat hamburgers, and the buns taste so much better! I made buns (giant muffins, really) from Pamela’s bread mix this weekend, so last night we ate hamburgers (or muffinburgers, as Frank calls them).
*Broccoli (for my calcium)
*Fresh fruit (see a pattern here?)

Thursday
*Sushi – California rolls and shrimp sushi
*Wasabi (powder mixed with coconut milk)
*Tamari (most soy sauce contains wheat. La Choy doesn’t. I buy reduced-sodium Tamari, because the fully loaded stuff is way too salty)

Friday
*Chicken Tikka Masala
*Basmati Rice

Saturday
*Chicken chimichangas (make sure your enchilada sauce is wheat-free — the old standbys are not). I fry mine in Nutiva coconut oil and leave out the cheese. I also top each chimi with La Costena salsa verde before topping with the guac. And instead of the guac mixture called for in the recipe, I top it with SarahK’s Super-Awesome Guacamole.
*Fresh fruit

Sunday
*Some kind of salmon
*And we’re going to have parsnips. I’ve never had them. Ever. Suggestions are welcome.

So many

Oh yes, this will be WTMI. It’s one of those dumb health posts y’all hate, but this is where I track my small intestine’s progress, so what can you do? If you want something more interesting and less graphic, you can jump over to SRM! and see my thoughts on sci-fi and fantasy.

So many rants are fully formed in my head. The news is making my noggin bleed purple fury. Supreme Court says child molestation isn’t all that bad (how much do I love Scalia and his scathing dissensions? Let me count the heart flutters.). Morons say it’s okay to poke fun at presidential candidates as long as they’re not black, which is totally retarded. And I have a ton of pictures to post and lots of thoughts on how World War II would have been a disastrous loss if we’d have had it today with our anti-American media.

But you know what keeps me from doing all of that?

Celiac. No, no, I’m not blaming celiac for my lack of blogging, and I’m not all woe is me for having celiac (it was actually the best diagnosis I could have wished for, honestly). I’m blaming the IBS that comes along with celiac, that comes along with identifying even more things besides wheat that apparently constipate you for years on end until you think that there’s no way you will ever be able to poo again. For pete’s sake, all you really want is to be able to drop the kids off in the pool, but they’re just hanging out in your most un-motile small intestine, waiting for you to drink a whole carton of heavy cream so they can skate on down.

So I’ve been listening to my body more lately. I know that wheat stops me up, and dairy runs right through me, taking everything else along with it. Corn has the same effect as dairy. I didn’t think I had much, if any, of an egg sensitivity, but yeah, I’ve noticed that when I have eggs, whether boiled or scrambled or baked in a loaf of bread, I’m at least as constipated as when I eat wheat. But so far that’s the only symptom I’ve noticed with eggs — no seizures, no migraines that I’ve picked up on, no whole-body inflammation, no skin that screams when you touch it. Like comes with the wheat, dairy, and corn. But after three days of no-going, I’m staying as far away from eggs as I can, at least until my intestine is healed.

You know, they say it can take six months to heal. It can also take two to three years. I’m guessing I’ll fall in somewhere around the three years. I had the migraines and diarrhea for three years before going gluten-free, and two years in was when I developed the epilepsy, muscle pain, nerve pain, and skin tenderness. So I think I’m still in for a long haul before I can even try dairy again (have I mentioned how much I crave cheese now? Much.). That is, except when the discomfort and pain of not being able to doooo anything makes me resort to drastic measures, as I did today. Yep. I know that tomorrow I will have seizures, migraine, inflamed body, etc., but if I’m able to get a little relief, it will be worth it. I ate cheese on my avocado chicken wasabi orange salad tonight. A decent helping of cheese, at that. Colby Jack. It was so good. My only regret is that I didn’t have shredded parmesan on hand when I resorted to my drastic poo-helping measures.

I know I’ve said it before, but I’ve missed cheese more than anything I’ve given up. All other dairy is replaceable with something that tastes better. But cheese can only be replaced by more cheese. Pizza? Bah. Give me a broccoli salad topped with parmesan, Chebe rolls with parmesan baked inside… cheese inside a chicken chimichanga…

Ok, I have to stop now, because I made myself promise that the cheese tonight was for emergency purposes only and that I wouldn’t have any more. And there’s a giant block of it in the fridge calling my name.