Happy Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving has always been my favorite holiday - even as a little girl. I always thought Valentines day was silly for kids to celebrate - I thought it should just be for "Mommys and Daddys" (funny how kids think, huh?). The Easter Bunny scared me. Halloween was okay, I didn't like talking to strangers and I don't like spiders. 4th of July was great, except for all those darn mosquitoes that always bit me! My birthday was fun. Christmas was nice, I liked decorating, looking at the Christmas tree and of course getting presents, but I never really looked forward to it.

But Thanksgiving, now that was the best. I loved being surrounded by family and close friends. We got to all just hang out, watch movies, play board games, and just generally enjoy one another. The leaves falling outside and all the decorative pumpkins were so beautiful to look at. The food included all my favorite dishes. And the message was something that I could completely understand and get into - being thankful.

I loved Thanksgiving so much that I tried to make it come twice a year.

Growing up, I used to spend my summers in a tiny town in Minnesota with my Grandparents and Father. Every year, my Grandmother would ask me what I wanted her to make for dinner on my birthday. She said she would make anything that I wanted. Every year, I said the same thing - Thanksgiving food! It's only now, looking back, that I realize just what my poor Grandmother went through just to give me that wonderful meal.

When people think of Minnesota, they mostly think of snow and the super cold winters. Well, you may not realize it, but Minnesota also gets VERY HOT in the summer! It gets majorly humid, hot and muggy ... and there was no central air in my Grandparents house. The only refuge from the heat those summers was to either hide in the underground basement, or to sit out on the screened-in deck with a fan directly on you, being perfectly still. I can only imagine how hard it was for my poor Grandmother to get in front of the oven to bake a turkey for hours and cook a whole huge meal ... just for me. She would gather all my Aunts, Uncles and Cousins and make us all a huge meal that included all my favorites - turkey, mashed potatoes, LOTS of gravy, green beans, lettuce salad and we'd all have birthday cake for dessert. As a child, I really liked and enjoyed the meal and this time together, but as an adult, I am humbled, amazed and especially thankful.

My Grandmother is no longer with us, but I always think of her on my birthday and at Thanksgiving. In my mind, I still can clearly see her standing in front of the oven, sweating way and the stove covered with her beloved cast iron pans and littered with bits of food, gravy and grease.

I also think of year that my stepbrother and his family came up to my Moms house for Thanksgiving - my sister-in-laws stuffing is still the best that I've ever had. I remember the year that my first niece was born - arriving early, just in time to celebrate Thanksgiving with the family. I think of the year that I had Thanksgiving at my house - and made nearly everything from scratch.

I look forward to this year, with my newest little niece and making new, GDSYWP-free, dishes that are sure to become new favorites.

Thanksgiving has always been special to me, and will continue to remain so. It's about all the things that I find wonderful about this world - family, friends, food, kindness, sharing and appreciation.



I'm saddened that Thanksgiving has been squeezed out this year in favor of the store-and-consumer-friendly Christmas season. It seems like Christmas just keeps coming earlier and earlier every year, but even more so this year. Around where I live, Christmas stuff has been out since Halloween - completely skipping one of the most genuine and uniquely-American holidays. I could write on and on here about this subject, but I want to focus on the joys of this occasion besides, I think Andy Rooney summed it up quite nicely on his own.



Please take the time to really enjoy this holiday - to enjoy our food, one another and to be truly grateful for all that we have. I hope that everyone has a beautiful, memorable, wonderful and deliciously safe Thanksgiving.

Glutenized

I got glutenized!

Yup. And it was all my fault. I can admit it. I'm mad at myself, but hey, it happened, I can't take it back, but I can try to learn from it.


So, Hubby and I were having an errand day yesterday. I made a point to eat a large brunch before leaving. I made a point to bring snacks. I was really trying, seriously.

So, we finally get to our final store, Ikea. Hubby spots their Pasta Marinara with Swedish Meatballs and really wants them. He also ate well before leaving, but we had been running around a bit and who knew how long we'd be in Ikea (I tend to get lost in there ... but that's a whole 'nother story!) Anyway, I decide to give in and let him eat there. He hates shopping with me, but does it because he knows that I like to have him there, to chat with, bounce ideas off of, give me his thoughts on items, etc. So, I thought the least I could do for him was to give in and let him eat what he wanted. At first, I wasn't going to eat anything. Everything on the menu looked bad - meatballs would have pork and/or breadcrumbs, the salmon had a glaze on it that was sure to have soy oil or butter in it, and the chicken was breaded. ALL their entree salads had cheese on them. I was just going to sit with Hubby while he ate and wait until I got home to fix myself a safe meal. Good girl!

But then ... ugh ... the fries. I watched them being dropped into the oil, saw where they were placed to drain and serve, I eyed them through the glass - they looked safe. So, I got fries. And, I took Hubby's side salad that came with his meal and put a tad of the safest looking dressing they had - Italian (sure to be filled with soy oil and who-knows-what-else). Oh, and a dark chocolate bar (that was only $0.99! How could I resist? :D)

So, we sit, and I start eating. Uh oh. I detected a grainy, crumbly substance on a few of the fries. I looked at them closer. They weren't dipped in flour, there weren't big chunks of crumblies. It could be salt ... or maybe tiny bits of fries? Even if it was flour, it was only a *little* bit ... I had had little bits of gluten when I've been out before ... and, at this point, I had already paid for them and I wanted them. I am a french fry fiend. They call to me ... I need them. So, I ate them.

Bad move. Bad girl!

Within 5 minutes of eating the dreaded fries, my stomach started rumbling, grumbling and then the sharp pokes started in. It didn't feel good. Within 10 minutes of eating, I started to feel grumpy, annoyed and irritable and felt gassy. Within 15 minutes of consumption, I had to run to the bathroom. Also not good. Within 20 minutes, I was tired and just wanted to go home. I was getting less and less calm/patient and more and more irritated.

So, we get home and I crawl into bed. The house was cold, the bed was warm, I could watch TV and best of all, I could lie down. Within another 20 minutes, I was passed out. But it was weird. Ya know when you take NyQuil's or some other sleep-inducing medicine and sometimes your body falls asleep before your brain does? Ya know how you can't move your arm, leg or other body part, even when you want to? And you're fully awake and aware of things you hear around you and what you're thinking? Well, that's how I felt. My body completely shut-down but my mind was still fully aware. It was a strange sensation.

As though it hasn't been proved enough times already, this is even further evidence that gluten is poison to my body.

The thing that really gets me is how it affects my mood. I mean, making my stomach hurt, making me need to use the restroom, making me sleepy - physical stuff - I can get food doing that to your body, but to affect your state of mind? To me, that is amazing. I mean, I've read plenty about it and have felt it, but each time, I am still amazed. I mean, I feel myself getting more and more irritable and I know, logically, that I'm being unreasonable or irrational, but I still feel the way I feel, ya know? I can't change my mood just by wanting to ... but gluten can change my mood. Just by eating it, I am a different person, someone that I don't like, thinking and acting in ways that I don't want. Seriously? I think that it's pure evil to affect someones mood or behavior against their will. Hubby and I discussed this at length after I woke from my gluten-induced coma. It's just not cool.

Gluten IS Evil!

Do you love your crockpot?


I don't know about you, but I've never really been *in love* with my crockpot. I mean, in theory, it sounds like an awesome thing - a meal that cooks itself, set it and forget it - sounds great, right? Well, it never really worked that way for me. The main factor in this is that between the time it takes to get to/from work, plus the time that I'm at work, I need a recipe that can sit in the crock pot for like 10 hours. That's a lot to expect from any one appliance, and of course, your food. A year or so ago, my Sister and I even tried making one recipe a week each to try out some different recipes and find out which ones could handle our schedules ... yea, that only lasted a few months. Everything we made in there comes out tasteless and boring. And all beef tasted like pot roast, no matter what we put in there! The only recipe that we tried during that time that came out really good was this one.

Well, then came along the Crockpot Lady. She made a New Years Resolution to use the crockpot once a day everyday in 2008. What a daunting task! But boy, do I love her for it! I love how *she* does the testing for me! :D She inspired me to make Smoked Beef Brisket a while back. And lately, she has been inspiring me to make soup in the crockpot! Now, why didn't I think of that? I must confess that I LOVE soup. I'm not sure why, but it's so comforting to me. Hubby on the other hand? Well, he indulges me. But hey, it's a meal that's yummy, hearty and can withstand hours in the crockpot, what more can you ask for?! So far, I have tried her Pasta Fagioli and her Pizza Soup. Both came out beautifully. I think next, I will try her Tomato Soup, subbing coconut or hemp milk for the heavy cream, of course! :D

So, if you don't LOVE your crockpot, try out a soup recipe and see if you get that warm, fuzzy feeling like I did! Yes, Mr. Crockpot, this could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship! ;)

Lea &Perrins Worcestershire Sauce


Not all Worcestershire sauces are gluten free, but Lea & Perrins is! Well, at least in the US it is. I've heard that in Canada it has malt vinegar in it. So, as long as you're in the US, feel at ease and reach for that beautifully paper-wrapped goodness! :D

Heinz Ketchup




I remember a few months after I went GDSYWP-free, Hubby and I went to a gluten-free day at my local Roots Market. They had several vendors there giving out free samples and coupons. It was nice to speak with (fairly) educated people about gluten-free foods and we even discovered some new favorite foods. One funny thing happened, though. I was browsing one of the aisles and Hubby called me over to one of the sample booths. He was so excited that one of the vendors was serving french fries with ketchup. His eyes were all wide as he explained to me that this ketchup was gluten free! I ate it, kind of giggled to myself and told him that it was great and all, but good 'ol regular Heinz is gluten free too ... much to the chagrin of the vendor as several people were around at the time. I won't mention the brand name, I really do like that company and the ketchup really tasted fine, but was a bit on the expensive end. Why go to a special store and pay more for an item that I can easily and cheaply find at my regular grocery store, ya know?

So, if you've been buying special, more expensive gluten-free ketchup - there's no need! Plain 'ol, grew-up-with-it Heinz ketchup is gluten-free too! :D

A Well-Stocked Kitchen ...

... does wonders!

I have read in a few places about not knowing what to keep stocked in a food-intolerant-free kitchen (I say kitchen instead of pantry as there are several non-pantry items that I almost always have on hand to be able to whip up a quick meal in minutes). So, I thought I'd post what I personally always keep in-stock - with backups. I'll also link to any blog posts that I have on the items so you'll have my review and probably a link to the product website. I'm sure this list is bound to change with time as I discover new things, so I'll update it. I'll be sure to keep an updated date so you'll know how recent it is! So, here we go ...

Baking Items/Flours:
White Rice Flour
Brown Rice Flour
Sweet Rice Flour
Tapioca Starch
Corn Starch
Xanthum or Gar Gum
Buckwheat Flour
Millet Flour
Sorghum Flour
Flaxseed Meal
Almond Meal
Coconut Flour
GF Oat Flour
GF Rolled Oats
Enjoy Life Chocolate Chips
Slivered/Sliced Almonds
Chopped Pecans
Peanuts
Shredded Coconut
Cocoa Powder
Spectrum Shortening
Baking Powder
Baking Soda

Pantry Items:
Canned Corn
Canned Carrots
Canned Green Beans
Canned Black Beans
Canned Pinto Beans
Canned Garbanzo Beans (also known as Chickpeas)
Diced Tomatoes
Tomato Sauce
Tomato Paste
Tomato Puree
Canned Tuna
Pureed Pumpkin
Canned Minced Clams
Clam Juice
Bushs Vegetarian Baked Beans
Hormel Corned Beef Hash (for a super quick, safe meal in a pinch)
Dinty Moore Beef Stew (ditto)
Orville Redenbachers Natural Popcorn - Simply Salted, 50% Reduced Fat
Masaman and Panang Curry Paste
Kitchen Basics Chicken and Beef Stock
GF Pasta
Jasmine Rice
Smuckers Natural Peanut Butter - Crunchy
Garden of Eden Black Bean Tortilla Chips
Wavy Lays Potato Chips
Sunsweet Cherry Essence Prunes
Stretch Island Fruit Leathers
Amy's Black Bean Vegetable Soup
Cocoa Pebbles, Fruit Pebbles, Rice Chex and/or Trix Cereal
Imagine Brand Soups (mainly creamy tomato and/or creamy mushroom)

Dairy-Like Items:
Hemp-Nut Milk
Almond Milk
Coconut Milk
Coconut Cream
Rice Milk
Yogurt - made with Coconut Milk

Frozen:
Alexia French Fries
Ice Cream - made with Coconut Milk
PJ's Chicken Tamale Meal (for a super quick, safe meal in a pinch)
Ian's Natural Frozen Foods - Popcorn Turkey Corn Dogs, Chicken Nuggets and/or Fish Sticks (Ditto)

Spices:
Adobo Powder
Cinnamon
Cumin
Chili Powder
Dry Mustard
Sesame Seeds
Italian Seasoning
Poultry Seasoning
Cloves
Nutmeg
Ginger
Rosemary
Thyme
Basil
Parsley
Garlic
Onion
Extracts (Vanilla, Coconut, Almond, Peppermint, etc)
Kosher Salt
Finely Ground Sea Salt
Pepper Mill

Condiments/Sauces:
Lemonaise
Heintz Ketchup
Frenches Mustard
Dill Relish
Sweet Relish
Oyster Sauce
Texas Pete Hot Sauce
Texas Pete Cocktail Sauce
Corn Oil
Olive Oil
Grapeseed Oil
Coconut Oil
Liquid Smoke
Goya Marinade
Lemon Juice
Lime Juice
Worcestershire sauce
Sesame Oil, Toasted is preferred

Fresh Produce(of course, some of these vary by season and by what I'm making that week, but these are HEAVILY rotated in my kitchen:
Zucchini
Roma Tomatoes
Lettuce - Romaine or Green Leaf
English Cucumber
Cilantro
Strawberries
Blueberries
Raspberries
Avocados
Bananas
Asparagus
Kale
Spinach
Carrots
Pineapple
Apples
Oranges
Mangoes
Mushrooms

Meats (Ditto Above):
Ground Meat - Beef or Turkey (I don't care for ground chicken)
Bacon - Beef or Turkey
Sausage - Beef, Turkey or Chicken
Eggs
Egg Whites
Lunch meat (usually smoked turkey, occasionally roast beef)
Hormel Turkey Pepperoni

Orville Redenbacher's Natural Gourmet Popping Corn, Simply Salted




Finally! A popcorn that I can actually eat! :D I love popcorn. On a plane, on a train, in a box, with a fox ... hahaha ...

Anyway, like I said, I've always loved popcorn. In fact, it was my go-to snack back on Weight Watchers . But, when I went GDSYWP-free, couldn't find one that was both dairy and soy free. Urg.

Until now! Orville Redenbacher came out with a "Naturals" line of popcorn and their Simply Salted flavor is both dairy and soy free! The ingredients are: Popping Corn, Palm Oil, Salt, Mixed Tocopherols (for Freshness). I'm not exactly sure what a Tocopherol is, but hey, no dairy, no soy, no gluten, (or yeast, walnuts or pork, for that matter! ;) ) so I guess I can't complain too much! And, it's delicious to boot! It's just sweet enough that you don't really miss the butter, but not so greasy to leave that film in your mouth! This is definitely going to become a new constant in my kitchen! :D


EDIT: In my excitement, I forgot to mention that while this is soy protein free, it is not completely soy free. It contains a form of vitamin E called Mixed Tocopherols which is usually derived from soy. As I am only soy protein free, I am able to consume this derivative of soy (as well as soy oil and soy lecithin), but if you are avoiding all soy or are highly allergic, please stay away from this product.

Only You, Fellow Food Intolerant People ...

.. will understand!

So, I was at Costco over the weekend stocking up on canned goods when I decided to go down the spice/baking aisle, just to see what spices they had. I do that from time to time ... how else would I have found my gargantuan container of my beloved Old Bay?! :D

Anyway, I came across a very large bottle of Kirklands (Costco's brand) Bourbon Vanilla Extract (a pint, I think?) for only $6. Whoa! I thought that was a pretty good price (I usually pay around $3 for my small McCormicks bottle). I thought about getting it, but then I figured that it probably wasn't gluten free, and if it was, how would I know since it's usually not labeled. But, I picked it up anyway and turned it around - and you know what? It WAS labeled as Gluten Free! Get out, right! I was SO excited, I called my Hubby and was telling him, but he was just like, "Oh, that's good." He just didn't*really* get it! But I know you guys do!

It looks like people are becoming more and more aware of gluten! :D

My Favorite Salad Dressing

When I first when GDSYWP-free, I was looking high and low for a salad dressing that I could have. ALL of them had soybean oil in them or even wheat (for a thickener, I guess?). Urg. Later, I found plenty of options in my local specialty store but, until I found those, I made my own salad dressing. I had previously had a Cobb salad dressing that I had used a couple times, but not being able to have Cobb Salad, and because it's what I dol, I tweaked it a bit! This is now probably my favorite salad dressing.

It's a mixture of tangy/sweet and just a tad sour. The sesame seeds/oil do give it a bit of an Asian flair (or is it flare?), but it's not too Asian flavored. I usually make up a batch and just keep it in the fridge in a jar. It does tend to separate after a while, but I just shake it up and it's good to go!

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Clara’s Salad Dressing

Ingredients:
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
pinch of sugar
pinch of kosher salt
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon dry mustard powder
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds
1-2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil

Directions:
Combine all of the ingredients except the oils in a bowl and whisk together.

Whisk in the oils slowly.

This recipe is highly adaptable. Adjust it to your liking - you can add more/less vinegar for a tang/sour flavor, more/less sugar for a sweeter flavor. Also, toasted sesame oil added a stronger

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I just realized that I've never noticed how much this actually makes! Oops ... well, next time I make it, I'll pay attention. If you make it before I do, though, be sure to leave me a comment with approximately how much it made! Thanks!

I hope you enjoy this dressing as much as I do!

An Awesome GDSYWP-Free Sandwich Option!

Last night, I decided to finally try the Savory Waffles from Karina's Kitchen. I found them a while ago and they looked good, but I just never got around to trying them. But boy am I glad that I finally did!

I made these last night and they turned out pretty good! Since I am not Vegan, I decided to use 2 eggs rather than the replacer, and I think that in combination with a few other facts created a more chewy waffle, but it still worked! If I use eggs again next time, I will probably reduce the xanthan gum just to see if that helps a bit. Also, we only have a Belgian waffle maker, so the waffles were more soft/gooey than crispy and were super tall/thick, but the flavor was really good, and they didn't break apart or crumble as I was eating, so I was a SUPER happy camper! I imagine that if/when I toast them, they may be a bit crispier. Yum. I will totally make these again!

So, if you've got the terrible gluten/dairy/soy/yeast intolerant combination like me, you've GOT to try these. They are a quick and easy option and worked perfectly for sandwiches!


Disclaimer

The opinions and thoughts expressed here are purely my own and are not coerced, swayed or influenced by a company, organization or other person. The information contained here is to the best of my knowledge at the date posted. I am NOT an expert and am NOT responsible for anything that you do with this information. Please do your own research, seek out professionals and read all ingredients yourself in order to ensure that the choices you make are right for your lifestyle.

Comments on this website may not represent the views of the blog owner and their claims, advice, etc. are the sole responsibility of their original writers, NOT the blog owner.

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