We are pizza fanatics.
I’m just going to be up front with you and say that my pizza…is my favorite.
We try gluten free pizza often when we go out. In Seattle, in Idaho, in our hometown…but honestly, nothing compares so far to what we make at home.
For some reason, restaurants can’t think out of the Udi’s pizza crust box. Every single time we spend $20 or more each on a gluten free pizza meal at a restaurant, I cannot wrap my mind around how a chef or restaurant owner would be OK grabbing an Udi’s pizza crust out of the freezer and serving it to their customers. Blows. My. Mind.
It’s dull. It’s flavorless. It is as exciting as cardboard on your plate. And don’t even get me started on the tasteless pepperoni, and overcooked sausage. Or the fact that none of these restaurants (even high end) understand that there is a readily available (even locally made!) vast assortment of goat and sheep’s milk cheeses other than the same old stand by, feta.
Every time we eat pizza out, my husband and I spend a large part of our mealtime talking about how we would run a restaurant. From the quality and type of food we would serve, how we would treat our staff, and most importantly, how we would treat our customers. We are serious about customer service and all it entails.
One can dream.
Last weekend we had high hopes for a little local restaurant we found. Outdoor seating (my favorite), smells of fabulous wood fired pizza…turns out, the server and the person making the pizza, weren’t educated about the ingredients in their gluten free crust, or in the pepperoni or their sausage…or even their sauce! We opted out of the meal. I choked down a really bad glass of Riesling and we moved on.
This time however, instead of just opting out, I explained to the server why we decided to eat elsewhere. I told her that it’s my opinion that the servers and the people preparing the food should be well versed with what’s actually in their food. As a person with food allergies, I take a chance every time I eat out. I know that’s my responsibility, but a restaurant with knowledgeable servers and staff, makes me a repeat customer. She ended up being very kind about it, apologetic, and said she would speak to the owner about the entire restaurant becoming better educated. I was happy with her response. We tipped her and left and who knows, maybe in a few months we’ll give them another chance.
Pizza doesn’t have to be complicated for it to taste amazing. I’m all about easy food! Easy or not though, it has to taste fabulous, be a treat for the eyes, and have high quality ingredients. You can use crust mixes or come up with your own crust recipe, but either way, make it unique with all of things you love.
I like to use Chebe Foccacia Bread mix as my base. I add a little of this and a little of that, and before you know it, it makes the perfect pizza crust. It’s soft like “regular” pizza crust with crispy crust edges, has great flavor, and gets rave reviews every single time I make it.
Chebe mixes are gluten free, soy free, corn free, rice free, potato free, yeast free, peanut free, tree nut free, egg free, lactose/casein free, iodine free, sugar free, non GMO, and kosher certified.
Grain Free Pizza
*Makes two 13″ pizzas
2 Boxes of Chebe Focaccia Mix
6 Tablespoons of Non Filtered Organic Olive Oil
4 Large Organic Eggs
1 Cup of Filtered Water
1 teaspoon of Sea Salt
1 Tablespoon of Organic Dried Oregano
1 Tablespoon of Organic Dried Basil
1 Tablespoon of Organic Garlic Powder
1 Can of Organic Tomato Paste
1/4 Cup of Vegan Pesto
1/2 Cup of Daiya Cheddar Style Cheese, grated
3 Other Types of Cow Free Cheeses About 1 1/2 to 2 Cups of Each (We used two types of goat mozzarella – low moisture and Brazilian Breakfast and a Dutch Style goat cheese that is similar to sharp white cheddar), grated
About 3 Handfuls of Organic Baby Spinach
1 Organic Yellow Bell Pepper, sliced thinly
About 1/3 of a Medium Organic Red Onion, sliced thinly
About 8-10 Large Organic Cremini Mushrooms, sliced
1/2 lb. of Gluten Free, Dairy Free Pepperoni (We have Applegate sliced at the deli)
4 Gluten Free, Dairy Free Hot Italian Sausages (also purchased at our deli)
1 Tablespoon of Organic Dried Oregano
Arrowroot or other GF flour for dusting hands, dough, and rolling pin.
*Preheat oven to 375 degrees
My grain free, dairy free, Garlic & Kalamata Olive Bread was a big hit.
Also, surprisingly versatile.
We had it with the chicken dish I posted last week. We had it with salad, I had some for breakfast one day with some cold chicken, and then I used the last of it to make us these grilled chicken sandwiches.
They were SO good! All of the flavors together really made for a fabulous sandwich. Tony had sharp cheddar and Brazilian Breakfast sheep’s milk cheese on his. I had Daiya Cheddar Style Shreds on mine along with the Brazilian Breakfast. We dipped them in spicy mustard and I have to say, it was the best sandwich I’ve had in a long time.
The bread was sliced generously, so I ended up grilling on both sides twice to get the cheese to melt. Once with the lid on for both sides, and then again with the lid off on both sides to crisp the bread.
The combination of cheeses with the slices of garlic and olives in the bread, along with the chicken was so flavorful.
I also made a simple cucumber salad to go alongside our sandwiches. A crisp and clean salad works very well alongside a heavy sandwich.
A little chopped spinach, sliced cucumbers, sliced cherry tomatoes, red onion, white balsamic, unfiltered extra virgin olive oil, and a couple grinds of pepper. Easy!
It’s a real treat to have a grilled sandwich loaded with melting cheese when you’re gluten free or grain free, and dairy free.
I’ve found that I can indulge in sheep or goat’s milk cheese a couple of times a month with no issues at all. The Daiya cheese is a nice treat as well. It melts like “real” cheese, although takes a bit longer, and has a pleasant flavor. However, it’s rather unpleasant in its raw form. Combined with the sheep’s cheese, it was excellent!
If you’d like to make the Garlic & Kalamata Olive Bread, you can go here for my recipe.
Somehow, Monday is here again and our weekend flew right by us! My husband was gone the latter part of the week, had to travel through Saturday, and didn’t return home until after dinner. We made the most of Sunday though. It was a gorgeous day so we headed over to Idaho to the beautiful town of Coeur d’alene. We watched the sad ending of the Seahawk’s football game and had a cocktail in the Whispers Lounge at the resort, then walked along main street and looked in some of the shops. Not many are open on Sunday which I guess may be a blessing on the pocketbook. Once we worked up an appetite and decided against the posted menus on many of the restaurants on main street, we headed back to the resort for lunch.
Sadly, their gluten free menu was predictable, so we both settled with the salad bar. We do love a good salad bar with a large variety and they say their salad bar is 18 feet long. I would say more like maybe 10 if they’re lucky, but what do I know. It had a decent amount of choices and a variety of gluten free dressings, but only two were non dairy. Someone had slopped blue cheese dressing into the huckleberry vinaigrette. You would think if they were mindful enough to label dressings gluten free, they would have placed all of them together rather than among the other dressings. Blue cheese dressing is not gluten free. But again, what do I know?
I do dream of the day I can go into a restaurant that has both gluten free and dairy free choices on their menu. Exciting and innovative choices, not just meat, fish, vegetables and gluten free cake with dairy. I was disappointed they didn’t offer a gluten free bread basket or gluten free crackers to accompany the salads. There are many gluten free options for crackers and breads now, so I couldn’t come up with a good excuse for our missing bread basket.
With more and more people being diagnosed with food related health issues, it’s hopefully only a matter of time before we’ll be seeing more variety on allergen free menus. Something as simple as this gluten and dairy free Apple & Chicken Salad would have even been a nice change of pace from the same old predictable gluten free menu fare.
About 1 out of every 100 people are diagnosed with celiac and that doesn’t count the unbelievable number of those who are gluten sensitive. Not long ago I read a USA Today article that said that 60% of adults cannot digest dairy. More than half of adults cannot digest dairy. If a chef were to even Google “gluten free and dairy free”, he’d have hundreds of simple recipes right at his fingertips along with thousands and thousands of innovative blogs who post allergen free recipes all the time. I don’t expect a large allergen free menu or to be pampered and spoiled as this resort claims to do for their guests, but I do expect that they put a little elbow grease and innovative thinking into their dishes.
Until then, there’s always home where we know we can order anything we want.
Apple Chicken Salad with Pumpkin Seeds & Raisins
Makes 2 Servings
3/4 Cup Chicken breast, cubed
1/2 of a Macoun Apple, diced
1 1/2 Tablespoons of Diced Red Onion
2 1/2 Tablespoons of Diced Celery
2 1/2 Tablespoons of Raisins
1 Tablespoons of Pumpkin Seeds
1 1/2 Tablespoons of Olive Oil Mayonnaise (or dairy free plain yogurt)
2 Tablespoons of Freshly Squeezed Lemon Juice
Freshly Ground Pepper
Chopped Romaine Lettuce
Place all ingredients except the lettuce in a bowl and stir to combine. Serve on a bed of romaine.
We were finally able to enjoy a great couple of days last weekend.
Tony and I had been sick for almost two weeks and then something went wonky with his hip joint. That led to a lot of pain, a lot of couch time, and several painful trips to the chiropractor.
It was a nice change of pace on Friday to realize we both at least felt decent enough to get out and have some fun.
We went to the county fair. I always look forward to it even though every year they’re pretty much the same. This year I was happy to see there were a couple of changes.
They had a large, free petting zoo which was fun to walk through. Along with a good excuse to eat an embarrassing amount of kettle caramel corn…the animals are my favorite part of the fair. I mean, who doesn’t just melt over a baby goat? Or the eye lashes on the Lamas? Or the cows that have shiny coats the color of corn silk?
There’s also a booth with Asian massage therapists who do the most incredible chair massages! I mean seriously. They have perfected the chair massage. We partake in one every year and it is heavenly.
The only picture I took at the fair was of this adorable baby zebra. We had just walked out of one of the animal barns and he was being led back to his stall. The owner wouldn’t let us get near him, but we were close enough to get a good picture. He was just stunning!
Saturday we packed up the truck and headed about an hour from here so we could meet up with my husband’s hang gliding group.
It was a gorgeous day so we took snacks and brought the dogs along.
I was able to get a lot of really good photos of the pilots and it was fun to watch all the different levels of experience.
My husband is the yellow and light blue glider.
Some of the pilots have been flying for more than 30 years! They started in the 70’s when it was pretty loosey goosey and quite dangerous.
Now pilots have to study and be trained and tested, and there are different levels of training that can be achieved. When a hang gliding pilot reaches the highest level of training, it’s the equivalent of a private pilot’s license.
The majority of people aren’t aware of what it takes to become a certified hang glider. It’s serious business. I’ve heard many people just assume that someone goes out and buys a glider, straps it on, and off the mountain they go! Only crazy people do that. And in fact, now it’s almost impossible to even purchase a glider without an OK from a certified instructor to the manufacturer.
This guy hangglides and paraglides.
This is him again. He flew at 7200 feet for well over an hour.
Even pilots who’ve been flying for 30 + years can occasionally misjudge and end up in trouble. It’s happened twice this summer with Tony’s group but thankfully, both the pilots came out of it relatively without injury.
Last flight of the day.
Regardless of risk, for those that have the flying bug, I’m sure there’s just nothing like soaring like a bird with your own set of wings. They all have radios on their gliders and it’s fun to hear them explain what they’re experiencing when they’re soaring at 7200 feet.
After a few hours at the fair on Friday, and several hours on top of a mountain on Saturday, by Sunday morning we were feeling pretty worn out. Especially after having that much activity after not feeling so hot the last few weeks. Even the dogs were beat.
So we lounged and had a slow morning. I made us vegetable quiche for breakfast and as we sat at the table and discussed our weekend. We both agreed that it was worthy of two thumbs up!
1/2 Red Onion, diced
1/2 Large Bell Pepper, diced
About 1/2 Cup Broccoli Florets
2 Cups Packed, Fresh Baby Spinach
2 Cloves of Garlic, minced
1/2 Cup of Hemp Milk
1/2 teaspoon of Sea Salt
A Few Grinds of Pepper
A Couple Sprinkles of Garlic Powder
Couple Pinches of Dried Oregano
1/4 Cup of Sheep’s Milk Parmesan
1/2 Cup of Sheep’s Milk Mozzarella
Freshly Chopped Tomatoes & Parsley For Garnish
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Roll out the crust and line pie plate. Place in the preheated oven for 20 minutes. Remove and set aside.
In a large skillet, saute the bacon fat, onion, pepper, broccoli, garlic, and thyme until onions and broccoli are aldente. Add the spinach and saute until wilted. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside. Grate cheeses.
Whisk the eggs, milk, sea salt, pepper, garlic, and oregano in a bowl. Place the pre-baked crust on the middle rack of your oven and pour the egg mixture carefully into the crust. Sprinkle cheese on top.
Bake for 20 minutes.
According to Dr. Terry Wahls who healed her Progressive MS with a nutrient dense diet that she specifically designed for her mitochondria and her brain, we should be eating 6-9 cups of leafy greens and colorful vegetables per day. Per DAY. The largest part of our diet should be vegetables. Many people don’t eat 6-9 servings of vegetables in a week.
In fact, here’s a visual of what most American’s yearly diets look like. And don’t let the vegetable category fool you. The most highly consumed vegetables among most Americans are corn and potatoes, which are actually considered a starch, not a vegetable.
Dr. Wahls was diagnosed with MS in 2000, by 2003 she was at stage 2 on heavy duty drugs including chemotherapy to fight the MS. The medications and therapy didn’t help and she continued to get worse. Slowly, each night after seeing patients all day, she began to research and read everything she could get her hands on that involved MS. She started researching vitamins and nutrients that were important to the brain and overall health and began integrating them into her diet. Then, in 2007 she discovered functional medicine and redesigned her diet. She used the knowledge she had from medical school, what she had learned in medical literature, through functional medicine, and through her research of nutrients to design a specific diet where she could get the majority of the nutrients necessary for healing through food. This diet is now called the Wahls Protocol. She was in a reclining wheelchair and headed for a life in bed when she started that diet in 2007. Within one year, she was able to walk through the hospital where she was a physician without a cane, and even complete an 18 mile bicycle tour.
Why do we need such a nutrient dense diet? Why can’t we just pop a few vitamins and continue on with unhealthy eating or eating like “normal”? Well, let’s talk about our mitochondria. According to Harvard Medical School, “In some way, just about every cellular process is linked to mitochondria. Malfunctioning mitochondria have been implicated in neurodegenerative diseases, heart disease, diabetes, cancer and even resistance to radiation therapy. There’s also a set of rare, inborn metabolic diseases that stem from genetic changes that alter the function of mitochondrial proteins.”
Your mitochondria need a certain type and a certain amount of nutrients to function properly. If your mitochondria isn’t healthy and being fed what it needs to perform its job, then you aren’t healthy either. The mitochondria in your cells manage the energy supply for your cells. Dr. Wahls chooses to get the majority of her nutrients directly from the food she eats. She feels that although we know some things about the benefits of fruits and vegetables to our bodies, we don’t know about all of the benefits we’re getting from eating whole foods. Her theory was why take a supplement with one nutrient or a synthetic form, rather than eat the actual food and get all of the nutrients naturally?
If you haven’t read Dr. Wahls book, I would highly recommend it. Not only is her story quite amazing, it’s inspiring and you’ll learn valuable information about how to feed your body well and heal it naturally.
I have a few different ways I try to integrate as many vegetables as possible into my diet. My favorite routes are via smoothies, salads, and large batches of roasting. All are extremely simple and an excellent way to get multiple servings of vegetables in one meal. I also saute a lot of vegetables for our meals. If we’re eating something that can have a vegetable added, I add it. We eat vegetables with every lunch and every dinner and the majority of our breakfasts. If you’re new to eating large quantities of vegetables, I would start with 1-2 cups a day via salad. Then the next week add a cup and so on until you are able to consume 6-9 cups a day with no intestinal issues. Your body will adapt very quickly. Make big salads and trays of roasted vegetables to keep in the fridge for easy snacking. Keep fresh sliced carrots, celery, broccoli and other vegetables you like in small batches in baggies so they’re easy to grab on the go. 6-9 cups of vegetables may sound like a lot, but over time it will become habit and your body will crave them. In fact, you’ll find yourself on many days easily eating that amount without even a thought about it.
Simple Roasted Vegetable Lunch
Organic Red Cabbage
Organic Carrots, unpeeled
Organic Garlic Cloves, smashed and peeled
Organic Ginger, peeled and sliced
Organic Olive Oil
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
The quantity will depend on how many people you’re serving. But know that if this is my entire lunch meal, I can eat at least 1/3 of a baking sheet of roasted veggies! So if you have people with a big appetite for veggies, it’s always better to make more than you think you’ll need. They refrigerate and re-heat nicely and are also good cold.
Slice vegetables so that they are all relatively the same size. Cover a baking sheet with parchment. Load with the veggies, ginger, and garlic cloves. Drizzle with a generous amount of olive oil and sea salt and toss.
Roast for about 30-40 minutes until aldente and fork tender, stirring once . Don’t cook them too much!
When I hear someone say they “hate” to garden, the hair on the back of my neck stands up. I have to seriously question whether we are going to be able to be friends.
What’s next…they’re going to tell me they don’t like to read either? Or they hate the sun? Or kittens and puppies are ugly? Chocolate is bad for you? Massages are horrible?
But seriously, in my world, gardening is a privilege, a blessing, and an inexpensive form of mental health therapy that keeps my head from exploding and reminds me there is so much beauty to experience even right in my own back yard.
My mom is retired now and is really embracing gardening since she has some free time on her hands. We’ve been out and about searching for flowers for our yards, containers, and window boxes, picking up little items here and there.
We both get equally excited over an interesting plant or flower we’ve never seen.
My Grandma, my mother’s mom, was an amazing gardener. Some of my fondest memories are of her garden or me stopping by and finding her digging in her garden with a big floppy sun hat. I can still smell and feel her garden when I think about it. So many gorgeous flowers and neat little surprises tucked here and there.
Surprises that people who “hate” gardening would never notice or appreciate, sadly. My heart aches for them. Picking fresh vegetables out of her garden and eating them right on the spot and snacking on raspberries off of her bushes was a true treat.
I was never ever told “no” if I wanted to pick something or discouraged from digging or poking around. And to this day, I have never been able to find a plum or apricot that tasted like the ones on her trees. Just being in her garden was a pure blessing in itself.
The house we’re in now doesn’t have a lot of ideal gardening space. Tony wanted low maintenance “flower” beds that are full of rock, so I’ve had to improvise with raised bed containers for my vegetables and herbs. The downside is that I can’t plant as much as I’d like, but the upside is that with it all contained, there will be less weeding, if any.
For the last couple of days I’ve been planting things here and there.
We are having a very rare for us, early spring. I planted my vegetable seedlings 2 weeks ago and now each day new sprouts are coming up. I’m going to try something different this year. Every time I pull something to eat, I’m going to plop another seed in. If we continue to have a long growing season, then that should give us veggies clear into late Fall. We’ll see how it works.
Spending a day in the garden is my all around, heal everything salve. The birds are chirping, the sun is shining, the breeze is blowing, the smell of fresh earth… Deer are milling around in the hills. Robins are hunting for worms in the grass. Abigail is sunning herself. That peaceful feeling…there’s nothing like it. And as if those things aren’t reward enough, you get to watch things grow and change. It’s extremely satisfying.
Add a grilled, relaxing lunch out on the patio to a gardening day, and you really can’t get much closer to a perfect day.
Grilled Chicken Legs
5-6 Chicken legs. Place them in a plastic bag with about 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar, about 1/2 cup of your favorite BBQ sauce, a good amount of Sriracha, about 1 Tablespoon of coconut sugar, about 1 teaspoon of sea salt, about 1 Tablespoon of dried oregano (or fresh)…and marinate for 2 hours before grilling on medium.
Grilled Yellow Squash
1 Squash cut in half lengthwise, drizzle with olive oil, season with garlic powder and sea salt. Sprinkle with fresh herbs. I used rosemary and thyme. Grill to aldente.