Today I want to talk about something somewhat food related, though not entirely. Today I want to discuss affording the food that we need to buy for our special diets. We all know that it's not cheap. I've given lots of tips before on how to make it more affordable, but really, with the various flours, alternative products, and gas spent running to all the different stores (because it seems no one store can carry everything we need!), it's just an unavoidably expensive way of life. Aside from doing all the tips and tricks that I mentioned before, another way I make this life doable is through budgeting. Everyone has a different way, I'm sure. And, like with most things, one style may work for one person, it may not work for another. Today I want to share the way that works for my family.
First of all, a bit of background. My husband and I have debt. Most Americans have debt. You, reader, probably also have debt. Being a bit vulnerably honest here, we have quite a bit of debt. We have school loan debt, wedding debt, lived-off-the-credit-cards-when-we-had-no-income debt, and of course, some naive, what-was-I-thinking, stupid debt. In spite of that, Hubby and I have excellent credit. We always paid our bills even if it meant sacrificing other things, we've never missed a due date and we're always on time. However, when it came to the leftover money for our food, entertainment and household, we didn't always know how to manage the money. We did our best but really, we just didn't have a plan.
About 3 years ago, we decided to try budgeting. For the first few months, we tried several different techniques including writing down everything with pen and paper and then reviewing it, making a humble little spreadsheet and then the "envelope" technique. Everything sort of worked, but nothing gave us the organization we wanted, the ability to fix our mistakes and to plan ahead for those big "oh crap" once or twice a year bills. So, I set out to find such a program and luckily, it was out there.
That is when the program You Need A Budget (YNAB) entered our lives. This program addressed all our above issues and even went a step further. The program creator, Jesse Mecham, developed four practical rules to budget by (like "giving every dollar a job" and "live off last months income") and they're smartly built into the YNAB program. In the last 3 years and with the help from this program, we have been able to put literally thousands of dollars into the bank and have even been able to budget for some new, non-necessary things what we just wanted - like a Wii. This was all while still putting a good chunk of change towards our debt, paying for my expensive diet, and buying other things we needed. I can not imagine having done all of this before budget. It would have been pay the debt OR buy the Wii OR buy expensive gluten free flours, but now, those "ors" are "ands" - and we couldn't be happier about it.
Oh and let me add that A), I am in no way affiliated with YNAB (other than me and my now fuller bank account being very happy customers) and B) that this review was by no means solicited by the makers of YNAB or anyone affiliated with YNAB.
I have mentioned before that I'm not a big cereal person and that as such, I didn't want to pay more money for specialty cereal, that I would just get general store cereal that happened to be gluten free. Well, that has changed. Introducing Natures Path new whole grain, gluten free cereals, Crunchy Maple Sunrise and Crunchy Vanilla Sunrise.
Both contain an impressive ingredient list which contain corn, rice, flax, quinoa, buckwheat and amaranth. The cereals are organic, kosher, and a good source of fiber (3 grams per serving) and omega 3's (f0.15 grams per serving). They are also soy, nut and dairy free - score!
These cereals are not only good for you, but taste great too. As the name suggests, both are intensely crunchy and have great texture with the mixture of large corn puff balls, rice puff ovals, small crunchy balls that I think are quinoa or amaranth and multi-grain flakes. As the names also suggests, one has a maple flavor which I find is quite strong (which I like, it reminds me of the maple frosted doughnuts I used to get) and one has a vanilla flavor which is fairly mild but is great with vanilla flavored rice milk.
With the nutrition of the whole grain and the delightful flavor, these cereals are definitely winners. I found them locally for $3.99 each and they are worth every penny. Seriously, run out and by them ... Now ... They're that good. Yum!
One of the most asked questions from gluten free novices is "Can gluten free flours be substituted for wheat flour one-for-one"? The short answer is that gluten free flours do not substitute one for one with wheat - however, gluten free blends can. Let me explain.
Gluten is what gives wheat elasticity and thus provides that chewy, doughy texture. Gluten also retain gases during the baking process which enables dough to rise, makes it stronger and less likely to collapse. That combined with it's light crumb is what makes wheat the "perfect" grain and why many of those who came before us worked exclusively with it. No other flour combines all those properties into one the way wheat does. So, in order to recreate those properties, we must combine flours and make blends. By combining a grain (brown rice, sorghum, millet, etc) with a starch (corn, potato, tapioca, etc), we are able to imitate wheat by having the grain (flavor and nutrients) and the chew (from the starch). Better yet, if we combine multiple grains and multiple starches, we get even closer to wheat because each grain and starch has their own unique properties and "bring something to the table" so to speak. There are a plethora of other types of flours like bean flours, coconut flour and nut flours and those all have different properties that they can lend too. Finally, we can give flour blends a "stretch" factor and help them bind and emulsify together better by adding xanthan or guar gum. Very little is needed and it adds yet another wheat-like property to gluten free baked goods. So, a blend of flours and starches can mimic wheat and can be replaced one-for-one whereas a single gluten free flour (only brown rice or only sorghum, etc) does not have all the properties needed to replace wheat on its own.
While understanding and learning about all the different flours can be intimidating and difficult at first, the sheer variety provides numerous opportunities for creativity, an assortment of flavors, and ensures that there will be at least one blend that you will enjoy. Personally, my favorite all-purpose mix is this one, though I freely admit that I'm probably just a bit biased since I created taht mix myself! ;)
The chickpea miso tamari offered by the South River Miso Company offers the soy intolerant an exciting opportunity. Living soy free makes enjoying Asian cuisine a real challege. Although there are several other prepared Asian sauces that one can use, none the distinct flavor (which the Japanese call "umami") or versatility of soy sauce. However, chickpea miso tamari has a very similar flavor to soy sauce and is just as versitile.
According to their website,
In Japanese, tamari means "little puddle" and refers to the savory liquid that collects in a vat of miso. Our genuine tamari is similar to its cousin, soy sauce, but much sweeter and lighter in taste. Friends who buy directly from our shop come back year after year, declaring that there is no seasoning comparable to South River Miso Tamari. Gathered from the vats of chickpea miso -- Made from deep well water, organic brown rice, organic chickpeas, sun-dried sea salt, organic sea vegetables, and koji culture. Aged in wood for a minimum of 3 months.
As this tamari takes so long to make and is only made in small amount, this sauce is often very limited. If you are interested in this sauce, please order as soon as possible. The South River Miso Company tries to ensure that there is enough to go around by rationing everyone to only one or two bottles per order. So if you're interested in trying some, be sure to order soon!
While both the words miso and tamari typically mean soy, the South River Miso Company uses chickpeas instead of soybeans to make a naturally soy free miso paste. They also make two additional soy free miso pastes - one from azuki beans and one from chickpeas and barley (though this flavor is not gluten free).
Whole Grain Blend Biscuits
by Clara Ogren, Six Food Intolerance Living
Makes 10 biscuits
1 cup dairy free buttermilk (I make mine by mixing 1 cup of unsweetened original flavored hemp milk mixed with 1 tbsp lemon juice, stir and let sit for 3 minutes)
1/4 cup Earth Balance dairy-free, soy-free butter
2 cups of my Whole Grain Blend
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp xanthan gum
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
As I am a big proponent of "practicing what you preach," I thought that I should provide allergen-free candy for Halloween. I figure that if I want others to provide allergen-free options for me and others, then I should provide the same to trick-or-treaters.
So, I made my sign (please realize that I'm not an artist! LOL) which said "ALLERGEN-FREE Candy Available. Please Ask." To my dismay, no one asked. Though, I only had about 20 kids come by. Regardless, I think that this is something that I will do every year and maybe one day, some one will ask! ;)
I don't know about you, but sometimes, I really need a quick meal - but not just any quick meal. It has to be safe for me, healthy, and tasty enough for my Hubby to eat. Store bought rotisserie chickens are my answer - many stores (I've found some at Costco and Giant) offer gluten free ones and are labeling them accordingly. There are several rotisserie eateries that are safe too (Chicken Out and Crisp and Juicy). At around $5 each, they can be the answer to healthy "fast food."
Below are my top 10 favorite things to do with a rotisserie chicken:
- For a super quick meal, pull pieces of the roasted chicken, place on a plate then make instant mashed potatoes or instant microwaveable brown rice then heat up a can of your favorite vegetables or use the frozen microwave steam ready ones.
- Make Spanish Skillet, using diced or shredded rotisserie chicken for the 1 cup of cooked chicken.
- Chicken sandwiches - shred the chicken, add mayonnaise, lettuce, tomato and onion to brown rice or corn tortillas and serve with chips
- Stir-fry asparagus or other vegetables(s) in sesame oil, toss in chicken until warmed through, sprinkle toasted sesame seeds on top
- Shred the chicken and use it to make a Cobb salad
- Make chicken salad (I like mine with mayonnaise, dijon mustard, finely diced celery and onions, lemon juice and dill relish) and serve that on brown rice or corn tortillas or on chips
- Shred the chicken and top pasta and your favorite pasta sauce
- Shred some chicken and put it in tacos with your favorite toppings
- Barbeque chicken - pull pieces of chicken off, place on a plate and top with barbeque sauce. This can be eatten off a plate or put inside a brown rice or corn tortilla. Serve french fries and a salad on the side.
- Then, after you've eaten chicken for a few nights and picked off all the meat you can, make fresh, homemade soup. Even if you think you'd gotten all the meat you can off the carcass, you'll be surprised at how much more comes out as you simmer it. Use this recipe to make homemade stock in the crockpot. Then, take out the skin, bones and other inedible things. Put the stock and any edible meat into the blender, blend until all the meat is pureed (and the broth is light). Pour back into the crockpot, put it on high and put in noodles, rice, vegetables or whatever you want until cooked through. This is my absolute favorite out of all of the meals. I always freeze a container or two for when I'm sick.
When I went gluten free, one food I missed dearly was onion rings. I've always loved the flavor of onions and anything crunchy so naturally, onion rings became one of my favorite guilty pleasures. Recently I decided to try to come up with a gluten free replacement. After some trial and error, I finally developed a recipe that I believe will rival any gluten-filled version.
Gluten Free Onion Rings
from Clara Ogren, http://www.sixfoodintolerance.com
1 quart peanut oil (or however much is needed to fill your pan)
1 cup brown rice flour
1/2 cup corn meal
2 teaspoons Lawrys Seasoning (or other all-purpose seasoning mix)
1 teaspoon garlic powder
2 cups dairy-free buttermilk (2 cups of your favorite dairy free milk, add 2 tablespoons of lemon juice, stir and let sit for 3 minutes)
2 sweet yellow onions (preferably Vidalias)
coarse Kosher salt
Pour peanut oil into a dutch oven or other deep frying pan and heat to medium high heat.
Measure brown rice flour, cornmeal, Lawrys and garlic powder into a mixing bowl. Wisk together well.
Pour dairy-free buttermilk into a separate, wide, large bowl.
Slice onions into rings.
Place one quarter of the sliced onions into the dairy-free buttermilk and let it sit for 1-2 minutes.
One at a time, take a ring out, cover in the flour mixture, shake off the excess, dip back into the dairy-free buttermilk, then recover in the flour mixture, shake off the excess again, then drop into the hot oil.
Repeat until there are 3-5 onion rings in the oil at a time. Let them sit in the oil for a few minutes until the outside is browned and onion is cooked.
Take out of the oil and place on a cooling rack. Sprinkle with coarse Kosher salt while the onion ring is still hot.
- These freeze and reheat (in the oven) well.
- White rice flour can be used in this recipe but the brown rice flour lends a nice brown color to the finished product and it more nutritious than white rice flour.
- Make sure not to get the oil too hot otherwise it will brown the flour before the onion is cooked.
- Shaking off as much of the flour as you can is very important. If you do not shake off most of the excess, it will gather in the milk causing a mess or in the oil and burn.
- Do not overcrowd the pan, doing so will lower the temperature of the oil.
- Try using this batter for breading other vegetables (zucchini, mushrooms, asparagus, etc) to make tempura.
Can you see what's wrong with this picture? (click on it to enlarge it)
Case and point for my number one recommendation for living gluten free.
Unsafe soy-free food list (unsafe ingredients and where soy often hides) *I've worked pretty hard to come up with a list of unsafe soy-free foods (like this one for gluten) and I think I have finally done it! If you see any mistakes or think something should be added, please leave me a comment and I'll look into the matter further. I hope that this list will help all the soy-free newbies and keep you safe!
Always or typically contains soy:
Abura-age (sliced deep-fried tofu)
Atsu-age (deep-fried tofu)
Bean curd (typically made from soybeans)
Chocolate (many contain soy lecithin) *
Curry pastes (many contain soy oil) * ~
Edamame (parboiled green soybeans)
Gan-modoki (a soy dumpling)
Hydrolyzed soy protein (HSP)
Isolated soy protein
Kinako (Japanese for soybean flour)
Koya tofu (freeze-dried bean curd)
Kyodofu (freeze-dried bean curd)
Mayonnaise (most contain soy oil) *
Margarine (most contain soy protein or soy oil - Earth Balance makes one that does not) *
Natto (fermented soybeans)
Nimame (stewed soybeans)
Okara (soybean pulp)
Pad Thai sauce (many contain soy protein or soy oil) * ~
Peanut butter (many contain soy oil) *
Soy-based meat alternatives
Soy fiber (can be found in baked goods, as well as processed meats, sausages, hamburgers, etc)
Soy ice cream
Soy infant formula
Soy isolate fiber
Soy lecithin *
Soy oil *
Soy protein concentrate
Soy protein isolates
Soy whipped topping
Textured soy flour (TSF)
Textured soy protein (TSP)
Tofu and tofu products
Uno-hana (soy pulp)
Vegetable oil (usually all or part soy oil) *
Vitamin E (a preservative typically derived from soy)
Worcestershire sauce (in the US, the Lea & Perrins brand is safe)
Yuba (tofu skin)
The following may contain soy. You'll have to read the ingredients and/or contact the manufacturer:
Canned tuna (may contain vegetable broth which may have soy)
Fish sauce ~
Hydrolyzed plant protein (HPP)
Hydrolyzed vegetable protein (HVP)
Ice cream (many contain soy lechithin) *
Imitation bacon bits
Imitation crab and lobster
Isolated vegetable protein
Mixed tocopheryls (a preservative often derived from soy)
Monosodium glutamate (MSG)
Oyster sauce ~
Textured vegetable protein (TVP)
* Soy oil and soy lechithin are non-protein forms of soy and may be tolerated by some soy-intolerant or soy-allergic people.
~ There are several Asian sauces listed, but there are several that are soy free.
^ Soy free miso made from beans and chickpeas can be purchased from South River Miso.
- Deboles - With the wide variety of styles and grains, this brand is quickly becoming a favorite.
- Dr. Schar - Their collection contains unique shapes of corn and rice based pasta and they also make a variety of other gluten free products.
- Ener-G Foods - These pastas are made literally with just white rice flour and water, so they accommodate a variety of allergy needs.
- Mrs. Leeper's - In addition to their corn and rice based pastas, Mrs. Leeper's also makes boxed dinners.
- Orgran - All their products are Gluten Free, Wheat Free, Dairy Free, Egg free, Yeast Free, GMO Free and Vegan.
- Quinoa - This brand sets itself apart by using the naturally gluten free and nutritious quinoa grain.
- Tinkyada - One of the most well known and well liked gluten free pastas, this past is rice based and comes in a variety of styles.
- Trader Joes - They may skimp on the price, but never on the flavor!
- Another source for gluten free, economical pastas are Asian markets. They have many white rice and mung bean based noodles that are naturally gluten free. Often, there are also buckwheat noodles, however, check carefully as many brands mix wheat flour in with the buckwheat, be sure to choose a brand that is 100% buckwheat. Furthermore, a word of caution to those with Celiac or who are highly sensitive - noodles found in the Asian market are not certified gluten free and are often not produced here in the United States so there is always potential for contamination.
Cooking gluten free pasta is quite different from cooking wheat pasta. While the flavor of gluten free pasta is comparable to wheat pasta, getting the texture right can be tricky. Some helpful hints to ensure delicious, perfect pasta every time are:
- The first tip to making good gluten free pasta is to read the directions. There are many different types of gluten free pasta and all are not created equal. Unlike wheat pasta, the directions are not always the same. Some cook better at a constant, rapid boil like traditional wheat pasta, some (especially the kind found in Asian stores) are best soaked in cool water overnight, while others are directed to be dumped into a pot of boiling water, then to turn the heat off, cover them and let them sit in the cooling water until soft. The directions for your brand should be your guide.
- Wheat pasta tends to be heartier and yields more servings than gluten free pasta so always make a little more than what you are used to.
- Cook only as much gluten free pasta as you need at the moment because it does not freeze or reheat well. It is best eaten immediately after cooking.
- Gluten free pasta is known to be very sticky. To combat this, there are two things you can do - add 2-3 teaspoons of oil to the water before dropping in the pasta and stir often. The oil will help coat each strand of pasta, ensuring they won't stick and stirring will agitate the pasta in case some pieces do begin to attach to one another.
- To add flavor, as with wheat pasta, generously salt the water as you bring it to a boil.
- Do not overcook gluten free pasta. Cooking the pasta too long will cause it to get too soft, mushy and it will disintegrate into very small pieces.
- When you drain pasta from hot water (so not with the kind you soak in cool water overnight), run very cold water over the pasta to stop the cooking and to keep it al dente.
- When adding noodles to a soup, only do so at the very end as the noodles will not hold up to long boiling or simmering.
Remember how I told you that I am writing for Examiner.com now? Well, a few weeks ago I wrote a series of my Top Ten Recommendations for Gluten Free Living. I know that once the decision is made to live gluten free, the lifestyle can be quite daunting. There are so many things to think about - what to eat, how to eat out, cross contamination, etc. In a culture saturated with wheat and gluten, one must learn to cook all over again - or for the first time. I created my top ten list in order to make the transition easier and less expensive. In order, here are my top ten recommendations for gluten free living (these links will take you to the Examiner.com article for each recommendation):
Recommendation #10: De-Gluten Your Kitchen
Recommendation #9: Equip Your Kitchen
Recommendation #8: Don’t Be Afraid to Contact the Company
Recommendation #7: Gather Information
Recommendation #6: Join Support Groups
Recommendation #5: Prepare, Prepare and Premix
Recommendation #4: Check Out Your Local Asian Store
Recommendation #3: Try All the Gluten Free Flours – and Then Try Them Again
Recommendation #2: Eat Naturally Gluten Free Foods
Recommendation #1: Learn to Read Ingredient Labels
I don't know about you, but I have heard nothing more talked about in the Gluten Free Community than the new Gluten Free Betty Crocker Mixes. Blogs, Twitter and forums have just been buzzing with news on these mixes - reviews, speculation, location and more. The one question that I have heard more than any other is what are the ingredients? Unforuntely, that information is not provided on their website nor on any other place on the internet that I have found. Today, however, that changes! I am most excited and happy to share with you screen shots of the packaging, including the ingredients!!! The images are courtesy General Mills.
I haven't been able to find these in my area yet, so I can't provide you with a review right now. Once I have tried them, I will be sure to post my thoughts!
When it comes to baking, I am totally in love with Ginger Lemon Girl's Master Mix. I love that it is mostly whole grain (brown rice and certified gluten free oat) and that I can use it just like I used to use Bisquick in the days before going gluten free. And, it's easy to make dairy and soy free too. I just replace the powdered milk with Vance's Dari Free or I simply use more tapioca starch. And, I replace the shortening with Spectrum Spread.
Yes, it's an awesome mix if you haven't used it before. But, what I've been lacking is an awesome all-purpose mix. There are tons of recipes out there with lots of different uses, flours and from various sources. I have used several in the past, but have yet to really commit to one as my favorite for one main reason - whole grains. So many of them are based on a lot of white rice flour or on a lot of starches. I really wanted something that had more whole grains and was healthy.
Well, it is with great excitement and extreme pleasure that I present to you my new, very own, Gluten Free Whole Grain Blend. It is just a bit over 1/3 starch - giving you enough lift, but also contains plenty of grains for your health! So far, it has served me well, but if you do decide to try the mix, please leave me a comment with your results. I would really like to know how it is working for everyone.
Clara's Gluten Free Whole Grain Blend
from Clara Ogren, Six Food Intolerance Living
Makes 8.5 cups
2 1/2 cups brown rice flour
2 1/4 cups tapioca starch
2 cups sorghum flour
1/2 cup sweet rice flour
1/2 cup millet flour
1/2 cup certified gluten free oat flour (can replace with more sorghum or millet flour)
1/4 cup flaxseed meal
Hubby and I headed down to San Diego last week. It was his father's 50th birthday and we went to help him celebrate! We mostly ate at home (and his parents were very accommodating to my new lifestyle!), but we did go out a few times.
When we first arrived, Hubby HAD to have In-N-Out (which I have spoken of before). Although it is a fast food joint, they make things with fresh, natural ingredients so it's pretty easy to eat there. The fries are whole potatoes, cut straight in the store and fried in vegetable oil (so while safe for those avoiding only the soy protein, it is not safe for those avoiding all soy products). The burgers are made with 100% all beef with no preservatives, additives or fillers. They are topped with lettuce, tomato, onions (raw, fried or without) and their special spread. To order the burger without a bun you just order it "protein style" and it comes wrapped in lettuce as I have pictured below! YUM!
The other day we ate out, we went down to Little Italy. We started lunch with some DELISH gelato at Pappalecco - so good that I dug in and forgot to take a picture! Life's short, why not start with desert once in a while? ;) Most of the time, with gelato, all the fruit flavors are dairy free. But, I always ask to be sure. Anyway, then we went to a local restaurant called Cafe Zucchero and I ordered ... well, not this:
hahaha!! As much as I wanted to, I resisted the fabulous looking pizza. Hubby didn't help and ordered probably the most GDSYWP-filled thing on the menu! ;) Instead, I ordered this:
A spinach salad topped with carrots, tomatoes, olives, cucumbers, avocado and peppercorn-coated ahi tuna. Yum. The dressing was an orange vinaigrette. I just asked for it on the side and removed it. I'm not much for fruity dressings. Instead, I used the oil and vinegar that they brought to the table at the begining of the meal with the bread (which I also of course avoided). The salad was quite large, very satisfying and significantly healthier than what Hubby ordered. Who would have guessed that you could eat safely gluten and dairy free in Little Italy of all places? Just another example that living intolerant free doesn't have to be difficult!
I don't know about you, but I am always on the look-out for new crockpot recipes. I LOVE using my crockpot, but it's hard because between my workday and commute, I am gone from home for a minimum of 10 hours every day! Most crockpot recipes are for much less than that, even if I cook them on low instead of high. So far, I have only found 1 dish and 2 soups that are able to hold up to this timeframe. But then, I came across this recipe and saw that it could go 6-9 hours. I figured, I bet it could hold up a lot longer if it had just a bit more liquid and I tried it! Of course, I also had to tweak it! Here is my version:
Crockpot Salsa Chicken
from Clara Ogren, Six Food Intolerance Living
4 chicken breasts or thighs (can even use frozen)
1 can corn, drained
1 can black beans, drained
1 can diced tomatoes, NOT drained
1 jar salsa (chose the spiciness level that is right for your family)
2-3 tbsp lime juice
1-2 tsp of adobo powder
Half of a bunch of cilantro, chopped
Tortilla chips or soft corn tortillas
Place chicken, salsa, corn, beans, tomatoes (with juice), lime juice and adobo powder into crockpot, mix.
Cook on low for 10-12 hours.
Just before serving, sprinkle in the cilantro, mix in.
To eat, shred chicken (this can be done in the crockpot with a spoon) and serve with tortilla chips, over rice or inside soft corn tortillas.
A nice lettuce side salad is the perfect accompaniment to this meal or instead top the salad with the chicken mixture for a fiesta salad
Top with sliced avocado or with a dollop of guacamole
If you are able to have dairy, this dish would be great topped with sour cream and/or shredded cheese
And wouldn't you know it, it held up beautifully for 12 hours. I mixed it around a bit to evenly distribute the liquids and it was perfect as it stayed nice and moist! I took my lid off and on a lot the last 2 hours or so doing a lot of mixing. If yours is too liquidy, just take the lid off, turn the crockpot on high, watch it and mix occasionally. That'll help boil out the liquid. I don't know about you, but I'd rather it be too liquidy and moist than dry and hard! ;)
I ate this rolled up in soft corn tortillas with a side salad. Hubby ate it with tortilla chips and was plenty happy without the cheese (though I'm sure he would have prefered it!).
This dish was super easy - effortless, really and was quite tasty. And, it's pantry-friendly! What more could you ask for? :D
I have a big announcement to make!
No, we aren't moving.
No, I didn't win the lottery.
No, I don't have a book deal (yet! anyone wanna give me one? ;) )
No, I'm not pregnant! Why does everyone always ask me that when I say I have an announcement? You trying to tell me I'm fat? ;)
I am the new Baltimore Gluten Free Examiner!
Woo hoo! I'm seriously excited about this. I will be posting 3-4 articles a week dealing not only with gluten intolerance, but other intolerances/allergies too! There will be some subject overlap in posts here and articles there, but the content will be different. I was actually accepted for the position a couple weeks ago, but I wanted to get the page all set up and a few articles published before sending you all over there. It's all set up now so feel free to head over there and check out some nice GDSYWP-free information! Also, be sure to subscribe so you will get an email notification when I upload new articles! :D
Five Guys has always been known for their simple menu, good food and their fresh, never frozen philosophy. They have received several awards and are even Zagat rated. Because of their dedication to fresh, natural foods, they are very understanding of and willing to cater to food intolerances.
In the FAQ section of their website, they specifically address several food allergies. Because of all the information that they provide, I can easily to see how to eat there GDSYWP-free! According to their website, their buns contain gluten, dairy and soy and of course, their cheese contains dairy. Therefore, if I simply avoids the bun, cheese and pork bacon, I can easily to dine there safely! (If you have intolerances to egg, also avoid the bun and if you have intolerances to peanuts - stay out of the restaurant!! Not only is peanut oil the only oil to be found in this restaurant, but shell-on peanuts are also served openly as an appetizer.)
But don't think because I can't have the spongy bun or the melty cheese that I'm missing out! I have the choice of an all-beef hot dog or a burger with one or two patties. And, there are plenty of delicious toppings to choose from to flavor my humble burger. I can chose from: mayonnaise, mustard, ketchup, relish, tomato, lettuce, pickles, raw or grilled onions, grilled mushrooms, green bell peppers, fresh jalapeños, and three sauces - A-1, hot and barbeque. The food is served wrapped in a piece of foil and is placed on a plastic tray or in a signature grease-stained brown paper bag.
As a side, they offer fresh french fries - cut in the store from real potatoes. There is even a white-board in every store telling you from where the potatoes being served that day came! The fries are available in regular or large size - though either is more than enough for two people to share. The styrofoam cup that they are served in is often overflowing with those crisp-outside yet soft-inside potatoy goodness. There is also an option to have the fries Cajun style where they come sprinkled in a delightful mixture of spices. Yum! I complete my meal with a cold Coca-Cola brand fountain soda, iced tea or bottled water.
While there is always a risk of cross contamination, the staff there is very willing to accommodate when given clear instructions. When I order, I let the cashier know that I have a wheat and a dairy allergy and that I would like my hamburger or hot dog served with no bun and no cheese. I also request that the assembler of my meal put on new plastic gloves. What I receive is a foil-wrapped burger or hot dog, then the toppings and sauces will be in separate foil or plastic cups, ready for me to assemble to my liking. They do have plastic forks and knives there, though I have yet to find one that has plates, but the unwrapped piece of foil works well enough (Five Guys - if you're reading, some nice sturdy cardboard plates would be greatly appreciated!! :D).
When I tell people about all my food intolerances and explain that I cook almost completely from my home, I often get asked what exactly CAN I eat and if it's hard. Well, it's not hard per se, but is more time consuming. As for the food, well, it's tasty! Here is a run-down of just a few options that I have:
Rice Chex, Honey Nut Chex. Corn Chex, Trix or Honey Kix with Hemp, Rice or Almond Milk and Fruit
Fried Eggs with Beef or Turkey Bacon and Grits or Home Fries
Gluten/Dairy/Soy Free Pancakes or Waffles with Beef Bacon and Fruit
Gluten/Dairy/Soy/Yeast Free Toast with Peanut Butter
Hormel Canned Corned Beef Hash with Fried Eggs and Fruit
Any dinner leftovers
Gluten/Dairy/Soy/Yeast Free Flour Wrap, Toast, Corn Tortilla or Rice Paper Wrap filled with turkey, lettuce, tomato, onion and avocado served with potato chips on the side
Hormel Dinty Moore Beef Stew with side salad and homemade dressing
Imagine Brand soups - some are safe
Glutino Brand Gluten Free Chicken Ranchero with Brown Rice Frozen Meal
PJ's Chicken Tamale Frozen Meal
Amys Brand soups - some are safe
Egg/Tuna/Chicken Salad with Gluten/Dairy/Soy/Yeast Free Crackers and Fruit
Chicken, Vegetable and Rice Soup
Green Salad topped with Grilled Chicken and homemade dressing
Grilled Chicken, Lamb or Steak, Baked Potato and Steamed Veggies
Gluten Free Brown Rice Pasta topped with Tomato Sauce and Ground Beef
Chicken and Veggie Stirfry with Gluten/Soy Free Oyster Sauce over plain White Rice
Roast Turkey/Chicken/Beef with Roasted Veggies and Side Salad and homemade dressing.
Taco Salad - romaine lettuce, tomatoes, onions, avocado topped with grilled meat, black beans and safe tortilla chips
Bunless Hamburgers or Hot Dogs with Potato Salad, Side Salad and homemade dressing
Turkey and Bean Chili
Gluten/Dairy/Soy Free Cobbler
Gluten/Dairy/Soy Free Cake
Gluten/Dairy/Soy Free Cookies
Coconut Milk Ice Cream
Dairy Free Gelato
Dairy Free Sorbet
Mixed Nuts (minus Walnuts)
Plain Potato Chips
Gluten/Soy Free Beef Jerky
Rice Cereal Bars
Hummus and Carrot Sticks
As you can see, I do not have to go hungry or sacrifice taste just to eat well!
Back when I was doing Weight Watchers, I was looking for a lot of meat alternatives. I had already used a lot of turkey breakfast meats and ground turkey in place of ground beef in hamburgers, spaghetti, etc, but ground turkey just did not cut it for a real hamburger. One day, when I was shopping with my Hubby, he saw this:
Buffalo? Ground buffalo? Huh. Then I flipped it over and looked at the nutritional information:
Hm. Not too shabby. So, we took it home, tried it and loved it! It tasted just like beef - but was healthier and thus less WW points. It went straight into rotation! Though, recently, it has not been. I see it at the stores, but we really just don't eat much ground meat much anymore and when we do, it's always turkey.
Well, a few weeks ago, I went into the doctor for a general checkup. Verdict - I have a Vitamin D deficiency (which, if you want to know, I am trying to solve with a good multivitamin and this which has 2,000 IUs of vitamin D in 1 tsp! Wow!) and my cholesterol was high. The over-all cholesterol wasn't so bad, but my triglycerides were way bad ... like nearly double what it should be. Eek! So, anyway, I need to bring it down badly. The doctor prescribed more exercise, less sugars, less carbs and less/better meat (and, surprisingly, the fish oil that I suggested taking helps lower triglycerides too! Score!). Anyway, I started doing some research on sugar alternatives (will discuss this more later) and on meat. I thought - what meats are better for you, which ones have less calories and fat? Then I thought again of that lovely ground buffalo that I used to eat back on Weight Watchers and I dove into the research.
Among other places, I turned to the USDA website for information. Did you know they have a search tool to help you find out what nutrients are in the foods you eat? Pretty cool. So, I looked up all the various meats that I eat to get a better idea and I put together a table.
First, some notes and disclaimers before I share this table. First of all, I am not a nutritionist, I just compiled the information that I found on what I think is an unbiased, trustworthy site. Please do your own research and consult with your own doctors/nutritionists before deciding what is best for you. Anyway, notes - you will notice this table does not include pork. I am intolerant to pork, therefore don't eat it, and didn't include it in this list. I only included meats that I eat, but the USDA link that I gave above should give you information on pork should you want it. I kept all the amounts the same - 1 cup cooked. I tried to pick all ground meats. Buffalo (Bison) only had one listing on the USDA site. I'm not sure if it's ground or steak or what, but it's all I had, so I used it. I also wanted to use all lean ground meats, like I did in the instance of the beef, but ground chicken and ground turkey only had one listing. I'm not sure what percentage these would be or what, but I only had one option so I had to take what I could get! ;) Finally, I rounded. I hate all those decimals, so I used the typical rounding methods - .5 and up got rounded up, .4 and down got rounded down. Easy peasy, right?
So, here are my results based on the information found with the nutrients search on the USDA Website.
|Bison, cooked||Ground beef, 85% - 89% lean, cooked||Lamb, ground or patty, cooked||Turkey, ground||Ground Chicken|
|Serving Size||1 cup, cooked||1 cup, cooked||1 cup, cooked||1 cup, cooked||1 cup, cooked|
|Fat, total (g)||3||18||24||17||17|
|Saturated fatty acids, total (g)||1||7||10||4||5|
|Monounaturated fatty acids, total (g)||1||8||10||6||7|
|Polyunaturated fatty acids, total (g)||0||1||2||4||4|
|Vitamin B-12 (mcg)||4||3||3||0||0|
|Folate, total (mcg)||4||3||23||0||0|
So, as you can see, buffalo has much fewer calories, slightly more protein, significantly less fat, less calcium, slightly more iron and much less sodium than all the other meats. And it tastes great? Pretty cool!
Another interesting thing I found out from this table - I had no idea just how high in calories and fat lamb was! Yikes! Good thing I only eat it a few times a year. I mean, I really love it, but my Hubby does not, so I only make it when he is out of town or my parents make it when we visit sometimes (and a steak for my Hubby). It is surprising high in magnesium and folate though.
For me, I think what I'm going to do is stick to turkey for my bacon, sausage and hot dogs and use buffalo in any recipe calling for ground meat and limit beef to the occasional steak and occasionally get beef bacon (which I much prefer, but I gotta get those triglycerides down) instead of turkey bacon. Of course, I will start trying to incorporate more seafood/fish and vegetarian meals.
Now, how to sneak a meatless meal by Hubby? ;)
Everyone in my various GF networks have been raving about the new Starbucks Valencia Orange GF Cake! I quickly checked out the ingredients and was pleasantly surprised with it being DF/SF too! Yay! The ingredients are:
Whole Eggs, Valencia Orange Pulp, Almonds, Sugar, Orange Peel, Gluten Free Baking Powder, and Orange Oil.
Isn't it grand when life is nice and simple! And, it looks like they really know what they're doing! They even disclosed how they are manufacturing these little beauties and I have to admit that I am impressed! It's SO nice to have a mainstream company really looking out for us GF!
After searching around for it for a few days, I finally found a store that had them. I purchased 3 - 1 for myself, 1 for my husband, and 1 for later. Hubby and I had one that night for dessert.
For the first one, I thought it was VERY moist, it was not crumbly or dry or grainy, the flavor was pretty good and the serving size was great - not too big, not too small. Now for the bad - only that I thought that it was very orangy. It's okay but a bit strong by itself, but would probably be better with coffee - which I'm sure was the intention. But I couldn't order any because I can't drink coffee black and Starbucks does carry a DF/SF milk (Starbucks, if you are reading, could you please carry a DF/SF milk? Hemp or hazelnut milk would be divine, but I'll settle for almond or rice milk).
Well, fast forward 5 days after purchasing them, I opened up the third one. Short version - not good. The cake had a faintly moldy smell and it was super sticky and stringy. In fact, in my first bite, there was a string hanging from my lip and I thought it was a hair or something. Nope. It was from the cake. It seriously looked like a cobweb. Maybe excess sugar? It's sort of like the strings from Rice Krispie treats or something, but they were tougher - sounds funny, I know, but it's true. I tried taking a picture of it, but it just didn't come out. Anyway, I tried breaking the strings by pulling the bite further from the cake - nope - the strings grew longer. I tried breaking it with my finger. It worked, but I had to pull far and I got a sticky finger. The only other way to deal with them was to spin the cake around until the strings broke. I don't know what all that stringiness was, but it completely turned my stomach. Just to make sure, I pulled a few more bites off with my fork, and sure enough, other bites did it too, so it was not just a fluke. Yuck. I do notice though that there are no preservatives listed in the ingredients, that might be it. The other thing is I see printed "10909 17:34" so I am guessing a manufacturing date of January 9, 2009 at 5:34pm. So maybe it has just been too long? I have seen this before though. When I first started baking from scratch, I made a pumpkin pie. I left it out at room temperature thinking that like store-bought ones, it would be fine. Well, within a week, it was not! The top was super glossy, the pie smelled faintly of mold and it was stringy. I'm thinking whatever happened to the pie has now happened to this cupcake.
Don't believe me? Well, sadly, I'm not the only one with this experience. Ginger Lemon Girl said the same thing happened to her poor cupcake - and what's worse is hers were like that from the day she bought them! She did not the chance to experience them when they were actually decent! :( But, she did really enjoy their Passion Tea Lemonade!
I'm not mad at you, Starbucks. I was and am thrilled, excited and hopeful about your efforts - and especially thankful for your trying to cater to us poor food intolerant people. Unfortunately, this product falls way short of just how good GF/DF/SF can be! If you want some help, I know plenty of recipes that would be better suited for this application! ;)
I just love Asian Pears (also known as Apple Pears, Taiwanese Pears, African Pears, Korean Pears, Japanese Pears, etc - see, they're so good everyone wants to claim them!). When ripe, these babies are very sweet and juicy yet crisp. They are low in calories and yet a good source of both Vitamin C and Fiber.
Wanna know to pick them? They are in season from roughly July to October. Quality Asian pears are best selected by smell rather than by softness. Unlike most pears that give in to a bit of pressure when ripe, Asian pears can be ripe even when they are still firm. So, look for a sweet aroma (though they might not smell as strongly if they're cold) and of course, stay away from pears that are real soft, wrinkled, have scuff marks or are bruised.
Asian Pears are one of the few fruits that I enjoy plain/raw - I just wash, slice, remove the core and eat - skins and all. They are just so refreshing! However, I also enjoy them in smoothies. They are great way to sweeten up smoothies and are neutral enough in flavor that they go with just about everything!
I have also read lately that they are quite good cooked/baked - something I never even thought about doing!. This recipe sounds especially yummy. I also found this recipe and these. Now that I'm thinking about it, these pears are neutral enough that they may be good on salads too! mmmmm ... these ideas are definitely something that I need to try - and soon!
If you haven't tried Asian Pears before, you really must - you can't go wrong!
I'm going to share a little secret with you all today. Ready?
I don't enjoy baking.
Seriously. I only bake because what I can bake at home is both cheaper and MUCH more tasty than an baked goods that I can buy in the store. But do I enjoy it? Heck no. I am a cook at heart, not a baker. I like to mix different meats or veggies together or mix different spices in or use different techniques or adjust things on the fly, that kind of stuff. Things that can not be done with baking.
But, I've also come to the realization that baking will now forever be a part of my life, whether I like it or not. Thus far, I have stuck to following other peoples baking recipes perfectly - very little adjustments (maybe subbing one fruit puree for another or swapping out chocolate chips for raisins, that kind of thing - minor stuff) because I've been too much of a novice to attempt coming up with my own recipe. What ratios to use? What helps with rising? How much rise do I need? lol. I am still confused sometimes! Baking is so hard for me because once it goes in that pan, I can't adjust it anymore! Eek! So, I've been afraid. Until now! I figure, what the worst that can happen? I develop something yucky, toss it and it's over. Or, develop something yummy and delicious! So, a few days ago, I got brave! I decided to try coming up with my very own baking recipe. Here's what I came up with:
Pumpkin Soft Muffins
from Clara, http://www.sixfoodintolerance.com
Makes 18 muffins
2 1/2 cups Ginger Lemon Girls Master Mix
3/4 cup coconut flour
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp salt
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup unsweetened original flavored hemp milk
1 (15 ounce) can unseasoned pumpkin puree
1 tsp vanilla
3/4 cup grapeseed oil
4-5 tsp turbinado sugar (optional)
Combine all the dry ingredients in a medium bowl
In a separate, large bowl, mix together all the wet ingredients
Slowly incorporate the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients, until well combined
Preheat the oven to 350°F
Take 2 12-muffin tins, line 18 with paper liners
Spray the inside of all the liners with 1 squirt of oil spray. Also spray the inside of a 1/4 cup measuring cup.
With the 1/4 measuring cup, take a heaping scoop of the mix, place into one of the muffin liners, continue until all are full.
Sprinkle some turbinado sugar on top of each muffin - about 1/4 tsp each. This gives the muffins a nice crunchy/crisp top.
Bake 30-35 minutes until done.
If you decide to try these, please be sure to let me know what you think of them! I'd love to hear what you think!
I just love hummus. It's good for you, it's easy to make, it's naturally GDSYWP-free and it's so delicious. And better yet? It's Vita-Mix friendly!
My base recipe can be seen here. That is what I made today. But the recipe is super easy to adjust. Sometimes I add artichokes, black olives, pine nuts, roasted garlic (my personal fav) or whatever sounds good at the time.
What do I dip with now that I'm GF? My favorite is carrots. I love the slightly sweet flavor, the crunch and of course how healthy it is! Sometimes I make rice flour wraps and use that to dip. I also love to use hummus on a sandwich wrap instead of mayo or other condiments.
Basically, you can't go wrong!
Trader Joe's is like THE place to go! Their foods are yummy, cheap and they clearly list all ingredients - thanks, TJs! :D
Some of my favorite things there are:
Almond meal. All Natural. Yum. Not the blanched kind, but still yummy and at a great price! In case you can't see, each bag is 16 oz, 1 pound - for only $3.99! It says right on the bag, great for baking and breading - and they're right! I often use this to bread some chicken breasts for faux fried chicken and it's delicious in my Almond Torte ... which reminds me ... I haven't made that in a while! Why not! Oh, I need to get on that!
Orange Peach Mango Juice. Need I say more? Delish! Half a gallon for $2.69.
Orange Juice. Hubby wanted me to post this. He loves this orange juice. Me? I think it's a bit too sweet and still prefer Simply Orange. But, I guess I gotta give in on some things as long as they're safe! ;) Anyway, this is only $1.99 for half a gallon.
Ridge Cut Potato Chips. These are AWESOME!! The ingredients - unpeeled potatoes, oil (sunflower or safflower) and salt. How cool is that?! The taste great and are really good for lots of different applications - munching on, with sandwiches, oh and GREAT for dipping - we particularly love them with tuna salad. I get a 1 pound bag for $3.29.
Pound Plus Chocolate Need I say more? hahaha These are 500 grams, which is over a pound, thus "Pound Plus." And for only $3.99? Super score! They have 72% and 61%. I actually usually get the 61% because I think it tastes less bitter. But then, I'm still getting used to non-milk chocolate! ;) Anyway, I think that one comes in a brown wrapper? I'll get a photo of that one next time. Just stay away from the blue wrapper one. That one is milk chocolate!
Gluten-Free Pancake and Waffle Mix - 18 ounces for $2.99. This stuff tastes pretty good, but to be honest, I still prefer Ginger Lemon Girls Master Mix Pancakes (except I use 1 full cup of hemp milk), but what I really love is that TJs offers this. I LOVE that I can tell people that there is a commercially available gluten free product that is easy to use and tastes good!
Gluten Free Brownie Mix. 1 pound for $2.99. Again, I like these brownies but I don't find this mix as good as brownies that I can make myself (especially Elanas Brownies), but again, like the Pancakes & Waffles Mix, I LOVE that I can tell people that there is a commercially available gluten free product that is easy to use and tastes good!
Ahi Tuna. Hubby and I love this stuff. It comes pre-marinaded so it has instant flavor, and it's so easy to cook! Just thaw and cook! In the summer, Hubby will throw it on the grill (I especially like when the ends get a bit crunchy) and in the winter, I just broil it in the oven. At $5.49 a pound, we're happy campers!
Almond butter! I usually get crunchy, unsalted for general eating and for this recipe but sometimes I also get smooth unsalted and make these. It's all natural and only $4.99 for a 16 ounce jar - can't ask for much more than that! :)
Other great things they have are:
- I have seen that some Trader Joes carry GF breads, but so far, all the ones I've seen have yeast in them. So, I can't comment on them!
- I have heard that Trader Joes makes a brown rice pasta that is supposed to be pretty good (though not as good as Tinyaka by some reviews), but the TJs that we go to doesn't seem to carry it, so I can comment on those either.
- Vitamins/Suppliments - Again, I haven't purchased any of these, but several are listed as GF.
- A GF Flourless Chocolate Cake - This has dairy in it, so I haven't tried it, but it looks awesome!
- Rice Drink. I forgot to ask for a picture of this. This is the first non-dairy milk that I actually liked. This is NOT the Rice Dream rice milk. This is in the refrigerated section and comes in 1/2 gallon containers. It is TJs brand and the vanilla container is beige and purple. This milk is thinner than the other drinks in my opinion which, for me, makes it easier to actually drink straight. I get unsweetened vanilla and it's great on cereal too or in recipes and bonus - it's cheaper. Can't remember the price right now but I know it comes out cheaper than the quart boxes and I think it tastes much better! :) I'll take a pic at a later date so you'll know what I'm talking about!
*** Many thanks to my darling Husband for these photos. Lately, he's been doing all the TJ runs and he took all these nice photos with his camera phone just so I could do this blog post. Yup, he's a keeper! ;)
Believe it or not, Costco is a great place for people with food intolerances! Seriously! I will show you some of my favorite Costco finds:
Remember this post? Well, here is a picture of this awesome stuff! 1 whole pint of Pure Vanilla Extract for only $5.99!!! Woo Hoo! Love it!
When I saw this, I was so excited! It says gluten free, wheat free, dairy free right on it! And, it's soy free too! Woo hoo! I picked up this beauty - 20 ounces for $8.99!! It's great to leave at work to munch on or even grab a handful when I'm running out the door!
Warning: These chips do contain SOYBEAN OIL
Yum! What's not to love about this? It is GF/DF/SF and is delicious! My Costco sells these in packs of 3-16 ounce containers for only $8.69!! Wholly is right! ;)
Generic Zyrtec! 300 tablets for $14.99!!! Note, this isn't completely dairy free. It does have lactose in it. However, I've been taking these for months with no side affects, so there must not be too much in there.
Other great things they have are:
- Meat in bulk (sometimes a good buy, sometimes not!). I found a leg of lamb there before for $3.99 a pound!
- Fresh fruits and veggies - also sometimes a good buy, sometimes not.
- Juice - if they have a kind you like, their juices usually come in pack of 2 for a reasonable price.
- Vitamins - several of which are labeled GF (and DF or SF)! Nice!
- Contact Lens Cleaner - I don't remember the price exactly on this, but it's CHEAP. I get 3 huge bottles and then I am set for a LONG time (hence why I can't remember how much I paid. I think like $10 for all 3 bottles - but don't quote me on that!)
Growing up with a Thai mother and an Australian step-father made meals at our house interesting. There was a large variety of different foods and actually. For dinner, one night we'd have stir fry and the next we'd have roast lamb and veggies. It was great. There was usually something different and new to look forward to. For breakfast, there was also a big difference.
Here is what one version of a traditional Thai breakfast looks like:
This is just a plain egg with white rice ... that was topped with just a couple splashes of fish sauce (start with 2 or 3, taste, and work your way up - this stuff is potent!). I know that this might sound strong and salty and unappealing to some of you - but it's not! I promise. Don't believe me? Ginger Lemon Girl tried it and liked it!! ;) It's so simple, so naturally GDSYWP-free, and so delicious. Something about the rich egg yolk with the salty fish sauce is just heavenly and comforting. There are two tricks - 1) The egg must be over easy - you want to try to get a really crispy egg white and yet keep a runny egg yolk and 2) Your fish sauce must be fresh. If it's a translucent light brown color (sort of like tea) with a light fishy odor, then you're good. If it's dark brown or even black and very strong smelling - toss it now!!! It's old and yucky.
And here is one version of an Australian Breakfast:
Just a bit more food than the Thai breakfast, huh? :) This is just fried eggs over toasted bread with bacon, baked beans and grilled (well, mine were fried) tomatoes on the side. With one change, this is easily gluten free, and with a few other tweaks, it's pork free! To make this gluten free, just use gluten free bread and to make pork free, use turkey or beef bacon and use vegetarian baked beans (these are my favorite). What I love about this is the mixture of the rich yolk with the sweet baked beans and the crunch of the toast and then a few salty meaty bites of bacon. I actually usually forgo the tomatoes, but thought I'd include it here to be true-to-the-food.
I know that for some of you, these dishes might be stepping out of your comfort zone, but trust me, it's worth it! They're pretty quick, tasty, and with just a few minor tweaks, GDSYWP-free - what more could you ask for? :)
I'm sorry I've been a little MIA lately! Things have just been nuts around here. Two weeks ago, a big project at work dropped into my lap and I'm only just now getting a handle on things, I had Salmonella poisoning all last week, Hubby had a business trip, been doing a bit of spring clearing-out and ya know, just general life getting in the way of things!
But - I've come up with a couple of good post ideas and even a few recipes to share, so stay tuned! :)