This is SO true. Especially for us food-intolerant/allergic people. We have to make the choice, one day at a time, everyday, to build health or produce disease in ourselves. We can eat safe, healthy foods and live well, or we can choose to eat unsafe, unhealthy foods and end up producing disease in our bodies.
I often think about the first 24.5 years of my life spent eating all the wrong things, being in constant pain and discomfort, just generally being unwell. In nearly a year, I've learned more about my food than I ever knew in the first 24.5 and I am so much more aware of my body now - I what I put in it, how it reacts, my energy level ... all of it.
I know I am better without gluten, dairy, soy, walnuts, yeast and pork. I know that though I may crave those foods and still taste them in my mind, that they are poison to my body. So, I make the choice, the commitment - everyday - one day at a time - to be healthy.
I don't know about you, but when I read that quote, I laughed out loud! In my house, garlic is a requirement in all savory dishes ... almost always accompanied by onions. Hubby often makes fun of me about it. I use minced garlic, granulated garlic, dried garlic, roasted garlic ... garlic anyway I can get it! In soup, stir-fry, casseroles, on veggies, meat, pasta ... garlic anywhere I can use it! In fact, there is only one non-sweet thing that I can think of that I don't like with garlic - Guacamole! I know that it is often sprinkled in there and something about the rich, creamy avocado just does not go with the savory, deep garlic flavor for me.
I remember having a conversation recently with my friend Carrie, aka Ginger Lemon Girl. She named herself that because those were 2 of her favorite flavors. I told her that if I were to do the same, I would have to name myself Garlic Onion Girl ... lol ... which doesn't have quite the same ring!
So ... garlic - love it, hate it? What's your favorite garlicy dish?
Last week, we were given a box of canned goods from someone who was moving. I rummaged through it to find things that would be safe for me to eat. One thing I found was some canned sardines in tomato sauce with red pepper. I have never had them, but hey, it was safe for me, and it was free! I did a quick Google search trying to figure out what to do with them and came up with this recipe. I thought it looked like a good place to start. But, as I was cooking it, it seemed a bit bland for my tastes. So, I doctored it up a bit! Here is what I came up with:
from Clara, http://sixfoodintolerance.blogspot.com
Makes 4 large servings
16 ounces brown rice pasta
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium sweet onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 (5.5 ounce) can sardines in tomato sauce with chili, not drained (I used this one)
2 (6.5 ounce) cans minced claims in clam juice (1 drained, 1 not drained)
1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained
6 baby Portobello mushrooms, sliced
2 tsp Italian Seasoning
Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add the pasta, and cook until tender.
While the pasta is cooking, heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, cook for a few minutes until soft, then add the garlic and cook until fragrant.
Add the sardines with their sauce, breaking up the sardines with your spoon a bit. Cook a bit to heat the sardines through.
Drain the diced tomatoes and add them to the pan and the Italian Seasoning.
Drain 1 can of the minced clams - put the clams in a bowl off to the side. With the second can, drain them over the pan, allowing the juice to go into the sauce, add the clams to the same bowl as the other. Do not add the minced clams yet.
Add the sliced mushrooms, stir and reduce heat to low.
Keep on a low simmer until the pasta is ready, allowing the sauce to thicken.
When the pasta is done, drain it and add it to the sauce.
Add the clams and the lemon juice.
Continue cooking just long enough to heat the clams through (if you cook them too long, they'll get chewy/rubbery).
Serve and enjoy!
This dish turned out pretty tasty. Hubby thought it was a bit too "fishy" but enjoyed it anyway. I think that next time, I will add some fresh basil. I think it would "brighten" the dish and maybe take away some of the fishiness.
The thing I like most about this dish is it is made from things that I can keep in my pantry. I love "pantry" meals because I can keep the ingredients on hand for a long time and just whip the dish up whenever I need it and quickly, too! Pantry food, and meals, have saved our budget lots of times when we were struggling.
This quote reminds me of a conversation that I had with my Hubby not too long after I was diagnosed with my food allergies. Back then, it was 9 food intolerances - the 6 that I follow now as well as shellfish, cinnamon and caffeine (since then, I have found that shellfish gives me no problems and that I tolerate cinnamon and caffeine fine as long as the doses are small and infrequent).
I had received the diagnoses a week or two prior to February 1st 2008, worked at it a bit and officially started February 1st. It had been a long, rough couple of weeks, but I was working at it. I had a few emotional breakdowns, but I was trying very hard not to let my emotions take over. I was running to every grocery store that I could think of to look for safe foods, I was researching my intolerances online, learning about hidden ingredients, scouring blogs for recipes and just generally trying to grasp all this.
Then, a day or two prior to Valentines day, Hubby came home with a beautiful robin's egg blue bag in his hand. He had gone to Tiffany's! He handed me the bag and told me to open it. I pulled off that satin white ribbon very gently, wanting to savor this moment. When I lifted off the carboard lid, I saw a beautiful lock necklace. He bought me the matching necklace to the lock bracelet that I had received from my Sister a few years prior. I was ecstatic. Hubby has always good with gifts, but we aren't rich or extravagant people, so this gift was a big one! I had been lusting over the matching necklace for a while, but never thought I'd actually get one! I loved it! But that wasn't the most touching part. That was definitely the speech that followed. My sweet Hubby told me that this was not a Valentines gift and I was confused. He said that he had watched me struggle with this new diet (uh ... lifestyle) and with some other medical issues that I had been dealing with for a while. He said that he was really proud of the way that I was handling it all and that through these experiences, he was able to see my inner strength and thought it was so beautiful. He said that he knew what I was going through wasn't easy, but he admired my will to go on and wanted me to know that he loved me no matter what. I was so touched. I felt so appreciated. I was surprised. It was all so moving.
Even now, 10 months later, I cherish that necklace. It is beautiful and perfect (and goes with all sorts of outfits! ;) ). But whenever I look at it, I look past it's physical beauty and remember the significance behind it - what I went through, how far I've come and just how wonderful my Husband is.
Boy do I love Google!
Last week, I had planned a Chicken Masaman Curry night. Well, when I actually went to make it, I didn't feel like curry! So I check my fridge - I had chicken thighs (that were supposed to go into the curry) and some spinach. I did a quick search (and that's why I love Google!) and I found this recipe. I'll also list it here in case the link dies or doesn't work for you or whatever. Here it is:
Chicken and Spinach Bake
from Diana Rattray, About.com
8 to 12 ounces fresh chopped or baby spinach, cleaned
salt and pepper
1/4 cup chicken broth
4 chicken breast halves, boneless, pounded slightly to even thickness
Creole or Cajun seasoning blend or other blend
salt and pepper
1 large tomato, diced
4 green onions, with green, sliced
Heat oven to 350°.
Lightly grease a 9x13-inch baking dish or spray with cooking spray.
Put spinach in the baking dish, sprinkle with salt and pepper. Add chicken broth.
Sprinkle chicken with seasoning blend, salt, and pepper; arrange over the spinach.
Sprinkle with the diced tomato and green onion.
Cover the baking dish with foil. Bake for 25 minutes.
Uncover and bake for 10 to 15 minutes longer, or until chicken is cooked through.
And wouldn't you know, it was delicious! :D I served it with brown rice and it was just lovely! I did make a few changes:
I used chicken thighs instead of breasts, and only 3 as that's all I had
I didn't weigh my spinach - I just used what I had, which was one large bunch
I didn't have green onions, so I used some red onion
I added a clove of garlic, sliced up ... just because I think every savory dish needs some garlic! ;)
I really did like it! It was super quick, easy, healthy, made with ingredients that I usually have on hand, and the best part ... Hubby even liked it! He doesn't really care much for spinach, but ate it anyway! It was sort of matted to the chicken, so he didn't really have a choice, but he said he didn't mind it at all! Whoa! He suggested that next time I use fish instead and I think that's a fabulous idea! I need another way to cook fish! :D
If you can have dairy, I think some feta sprinkled on top and allowed to heat/melt before serving would be just perfect!
Today is my Mom's birthday! So, in honor of her birthday, I thought I'd post a recipe that I learned from her. Fried Rice! It was a favorite dish of mine growing up and I ate it a lot when I left the nest. It was a "taste of home" and was pretty easy to make! What I'm about to share is really more of a method than a recipe (as usual!), but that's because I make it so often that I don't measure, also as usual!
Oh, and I should note that I have not made this dish since going soy free. Like I said, I grew up with this, so I'm very used to this dish tasting a certain way. I thought I'd give my taste buds a long break from it before attempting to make it again. Maybe then, they will forget and I'll be able to enjoy a new, soy-free version! And, it's totally possible. Instead of soy, you can use a bit of fish sauce (careful!!! It is extremely potent!), maybe a bit of oyster sauce, or try looking up a recipe for soy-free soy-like sauce. There are several recipes floating around out there consisting of Worcestershire sauce, beef broth, etc.
First things first, it is best to start with cold, hard rice. So, make it the day before and then refrigerate overnight. You can make this dish with fresh rice, but the rice will be a bit mushier/stickier.
Really, the hardest part of fried rice is dicing everything. I usually use shredded carrots, minced garlic, sliced mushrooms, sliced green onions, sliced beef (I use the cheapest I can find, then slice against the grain to make it tender) or you can use ground meat. Oh, and I add egg. You can totally customize this to your liking, leaving out some things, adding anything else you like - diced bell peppers, tomatoes, etc. And, I use a very large wok to cook this, but I think a dutch oven or deep skillet would work, too.
So, to start cooking, put some oil in the pan (vegetable, corn, or some other neutral flavored oil is best here - not olive oil, that's the wrong flavor for what you're doing here - you can even a bit of sesame oil in there - just not too much as it is very potent). When the oil is hot, add garlic. Let it sit for just a few seconds, then add in your meat. Cook until pink in the middle.
Next, add in your rice, stir around until warm. Then, add in your veggies. Stir in. Then, add in your sauces. This can be whatever you have on hand. I used to use soy sauce, a small dash of fish sauce and a mushroom soy sauce - check to make sure it's GF!!!! Most are not. But you can use whatever sauce you can find - a bit of teriyaki is good too. I don't have an exact amount as I've been making it so long, I just eyeball it. But, start small - less is more with soy sauce. And, of course, you can always add more, but not take out. You just want enough to flavor the dish, not to coat the rice or to make the dish soupy. Anyway, stir some more. Add any spices that you want to add. I love garlic, so I usually add a bit of garlic powder and I also add some ground pepper. You probably will not need any salt as the soy sauce is salty enough. Also, this is where many restaurants add in A LOT of butter. Probably like 1/4 cup - seriously. I sometimes add in a tablespoon or so, sometimes none. That's why mine never tastes as good as the restaurants - but is much healthier! ;) If you want that restaurant flavor though, add A LOT of butter and that'll probably do it! Stir some more.
For the egg, I break 1 or 2 into a bowl, scramble it with just a touch of the soy and some garlic powder for flavor.
After the sauce, veggies, rice and meat have all been stirred a bit and allowed to sort of mesh together, make a big well in the middle of the fried rice, exposing the bottom of the pan. Then, pour in the egg. Stir just the egg around (like you would normally scramble it in a pan) until it's about 2/3 cooked, then mix it in with the rice and stir it all around some more (notice a pattern here? ;) ). This is how you get tiny streaks of egg throughout the fried rice rather than chunks of it.
Keep stirring intermittently until the egg is all cooked and everything is mixed well.
Add sesame seeds for garnish, if you'd like.
All done! I promise this sounds like it's hard, but it's not. It just takes some time to prep all the meat and veggies and then everything is sort of layered in when you cook.
As a child and a teenager, I was really into reading. Books, magazines, short stories, whatever I could find! Reading was really 2 things to me: 1) A way to get away - to transport myself from my life into something different, new and exciting and 2) Reassuring myself that someone else had been through what I was going through. I guess I figured that if I could find just one other person who got through it alright, then it meant that I would too, eventually.
I especially loved quotes. They really helped me with that whole reassuring bit. I don't know why, but they spoke to me. I guess it's because they were short and to-the-point. I liked them so much that I had this special book and whenever I heard a quote that "spoke" to me, I'd write it down. That book soon turned into 2, which then turned into 3 ... and I think I'm still on that third one! I sort of slowed down in college and only write them in every once in a while now. It's something that I've been meaning to get back to, but life just sort of gets in the way, as I know you understand.
Anyway, as a way to sort of get back into it, and because I think it would be fun to share and discuss, I thought I'd start posting a quote here once a week. And what better day than today? So, introducing ...
Quote Tuesdays! :D
The first one I'm going to share is one that I read somewhere recently that really stuck with me.
Don't we food intolerant people know ALL about that? In the beginning, this new diet ... new lifestyle ... seemed so shocking, overwhelming, difficult and tedious. I was NOT alright. I was totally freaked out, mad, annoyed, confused, frustrated, tired and lost. But, here I am, 10 months later, and I'm alright. I mean, don't get me wrong, I still feel all those same feelings from time to time. But the difference is that now, I know things will be okay, life will go on ... I will survive!
I know it's not the end, in fact, my journey has just begun, but I know that in the end, as now, I'll be alright!
I made a super quick, easy, healthy and naturally GDSYWP-free side dish this past Thanksgiving that everyone loved! It's so super simple, they didn't believe it! I've been making it for years, but never thought to share it! It's really more of a method than a recipe, but here it is:
Simple Garlic Asparagus
1 bunch asparagus
Olive Oil, about 1 tablespoon
1-2 cloves of garlic
Take the asparagus and snap off the ends (it will naturally snap where the "woody" part ends) and lay flat onto a baking sheet.
Thinly slice the garlic, place that randomly on top of the asparagus.
Drizzle the asparagus with a bit of olive oil (drizzle with real olive oil, don't use the spray, it will burn the asparagus ... ask me how I know! ;) ).
Place under the broiler until as tender as you like (I like mine with a bit of crunch still, so it only takes around 10 minutes. If you like yours softer, it may take a bit more time).
You could also salt/pepper/spice it, but I love to taste the asparagus, olives and garlic all by themselves.
As a bonus, if you like garlic as much as I do, the garlic will also be sort of roasted and is yummy to eat, too! You can eat it straight with the asparagus (since it has been broiled too, it is pretty mild ... at least to me, it is!), or pull it out and throw it in with mashed potatoes or however else you would normally use roasted garlic!
And who knew asparagus was so good for you on top of tasting so yummy? Yeah for good yet tasty foods! :D