Let’s just face the truth, going gluten-free is a little stressful and a lot overwhelming. Many people not only have to go gluten-free, but dairy-free, corn-free, egg-free, soy-free… When someone receives that kind of news from their doctor, usually the first thing they experience is panic and they wonder if there is anything they can eat. First, my main piece of advice if you are new to this world, is to take it slow and easy for the first couple of weeks. Chances are, you’ve been feeling terrible for a long time and taking a week or so to get yourself organized and familiar with your new life is not going to kill you. Of course you’ll want to double-check that with your doctor first! So, if you can set aside an hour here and there to get your new diet organized over let’s say, a week’s period of time, you are going to cut down the stress of figuring this whole gluten-free thing out by at least 95%.
If you enjoy cooking and baking, you’re going to be shocked at how many things you’re eating now that you can actually make gluten-free. If your favorite place to be isn’t the kitchen and you’re only proficient at burning water, that’s OK, because there are products out there for you too. You’re not going to starve.
1. Go through all of the food in your fridge, cupboards, and pantry to determine what is OK for you to eat. (Basically, you cannot eat anything with wheat, barley, or rye. Also, you cannot eat oats that are not labeled gluten-free. (Google “gluten-free grains and flours” for more information.) Don’t forget your freezer. Unfortunately, many meat products like turkey bacon, sausage, chicken nuggets, hamburger patties, hot dogs, and lunch meats have gluten. Check the labels, and if in doubt, look it up on the internet. Sometimes when they list “natural ingredients”, that means there’s gluten somewhere in there.
2. Find a grocery store in your area that has a “health food” section. If you’re lucky, they’ll even have a gluten-free section. If you’re in a small town, it may be difficult. You might have to shop via the internet or take a day trip to a larger town to find what you need. Familiarize yourself with some of the things that you might like to try, and keep an eye out for things that you’ll need to replace at home like all purpose flour, pasta, breads, cookies, crackers, certain condiments, etc.
3. Remember, there are TONS of gluten free items in the regular isles as well. It’s becoming more common for manufacturers to label their products gluten-free or at least list the common allergens that are in them. And yes, gluten is becoming a common allergen. Google is another great tool for this. If I’m in doubt, I Google the product name to figure out if I can eat it. For example, Is Hunt’s Ketchup Gluten Free? Tons of people post things about gluten-free items so it’s easy to figure it out quickly.
4. Look up all of your favorite restaurant websites and check to see if they have gluten-free menus or options.
5. Start slowly. There’s still a lot of food that you can eat that didn’t have gluten to begin with, like fruits, vegetables, some meats, etc. Gluten-free and “specialty foods” can be quite pricey so just buy a few things at first and give them a try. I started with the basics – pasta, bread, cereal. Then moved on to bread mixes, different types of flour, xanthan gum, etc. You’ll learn quickly which items you would be willing to buy again and which items you can’t believe people will eat.
6. Once you’ve been on your gluten-free road for a couple of weeks and you understand more about your diet needs and where to find the items you like, you can start experimenting a little. Go to your local bookstore and look through their gluten-free cook books. There are tons of options! (I’m also beginning to review cook books for this blog, so stay tuned.)
7. Spend some time researching gluten-free blogs and recipes on the internet. There are literally thousands upon thousands. If you want to make gluten-free lasagna, Google it! You’ll have 20 different recipes in 3 seconds right at your fingertips. Tweak them to your liking or get really adventurous and make up your own recipes. It’s exciting and amazingly rewarding! Pretty much anything you need to know about living gluten-free and cooking gluten-free is available on the internet and in bookstores.
See, it’s all figured out – no worries! Broken down into manageable steps that don’t involve curse words or tears. Take it slowly, stay calm. This is a new beginning, a fresh start, an opportunity to fill your belly and nourish your body with things that don’t make you sick! Look forward to it, get excited about it! It’s Gluten Free Zen…
Oh yes, you heard me right, and they are mighty tasty. The funny thing is that I actually bought them by accident! I thought they were the soy vanilla bars that are covered in dairy free chocolate. Not only did I not notice when I was in the store, I didn’t even notice when I put them away in my own freezer. I’ll guess we’ll chalk that one up to a busy day. At first I was disappointed when I finally did realize what I had done. That is, until I opened one and had a bite. They are smooth and wonderfully chocolatey. Made from coconut milk and only four ingredients total. Coconut milk, agave syrup, fair trade cocoa, and vanilla. Completely vegan, organic, and gluten-free. When was the last time you picked up a carton of regular cow’s milk ice cream and looked at the ingredients? There are words on those cartons most people can’t even pronounce. And did you know that many manufacturers use wheat to thicken their ice cream? Coconut Bliss has an entire line of high quality, delicious ice cream in different flavors. They’ve set the bar high and have proven that you can make a gluten-free, vegan ice cream that not only tastes sinfully delicious, but also doesn’t leave you wishing you could have the “real” thing. They retire some of those flavors after they’ve been on the market for a while, so if I were you…I’d plan a shopping trip today.
In an attempt to live “healthier” I’m trying to add more fish into our family meals. I’m not a fish lover. When we go out to eat, typically I will order a nice, bloody, Rib-eye steak with potatoes and a veggie. (Enter a day-dreamy look and a big sigh here…) I was raised in a comfort food, meat and potatoes kind of family. My husband on the other hand, loves fish. He’ll even order it when we go out to eat. Every time he does that I just can’t really wrap my mind around it. A piece of white fish, tuna, or salmon, with a sprig of parsley and maybe some sautéed vegetables is not a “real” meal in my mind. Our son, who gets excited when I make soups, stews, roasts, and who will eat half a loaf of artisan bread on the way home from the grocery store, is constantly trying to convince me that he’s allergic to salmon and the only fish he’s not allergic to is breaded. Luckily, I’ve found a good middle ground that will satisfy the fish lovers in your life as well as the people who are not so excited when they see fish hit the dinner table. Tonight I’m making an Asian inspired fish dinner. This isn’t your typical fish dish. It’s filled with bold, intense flavors that will liven up your palette and satisfy the need for that “something more” that some of us look for when we eat fish.
Spicy Salmon Marinade & Sauce
1/2 cup gluten-free soy sauce
1/4 cup gluten-free San-J teriyaki sauce
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1/2 Tbsp. Sriracha Hot Chili Sauce (it’s gluten-free)
1 Tbsp. Sun Luck sweet chili sauce (it’s gluten-free)
2 Tbsp. gluten-free BBQ sauce (I used Sweet Baby Ray’s)
2 tsp. honey
4 green onions, diced
2 Tbsp. cilantro, chopped
1 Tbsp. grated, fresh ginger
3 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
1/2 tsp. grated clementine rind
Measure all liquid ingredients. Chop and grate the next five ingredients and place in a medium size glass bowl with liquids. Stir. Place Salmon steaks (you can use any cut of salmon for this recipe, I did steaks because I had a whole salmon and it was the easiest way to cut it) in a plastic zipper bag. Pour marinade over salmon (reserving 3/4 cup), seal and marinate for 30 minutes in the refrigerator, turning a couple of times. Place the reserved 3/4 cup marinade on stove and reduce slightly, keeping warm until your salmon comes off the grill. If you taste the marinade while it’s on the stove it will taste very spicy and strong. Once it reduces and you place it on your salmon and Quinoa, it balances perfectly.
While the salmon is marinating get your fresh green beans ready. The Quinoa will take about 15 minutes to cook (I buy the Ancient Harvest Organic quinoa), so you will also want to have your water on the stove and the Quinoa close by to start at the same time you start the green beans.
Garlic & Ginger Green Beans
4 cups fresh green beans, ends trimmed
3 cloves garlic, peeled and diced
1 Tbsp. grated, fresh ginger
about 3 Tbsp. olive oil (if you’re not using a non-stick pan, you’ll need to add a little more during the cooking process)
sea salt to taste, I added about a teaspoon
Begin sauteing the above ingredients in a large skillet on medium heat about 5 minutes before you’re ready to put your fish on the grill. Cook to al dente. I didn’t use a non-stick skillet because I like the garlic and ginger to caramelize a little in the bottom of the pan. When the green beans were at the al dente stage, I deglazed my pan with a couple of splashes of chicken broth.
There’s a lot of flavor in the salmon with the sauce and the garlic ginger green beans. You don’t need to do much to the Quinoa, the salmon sauce will add delicious flavor.
Cook Quinoa according to package directions, except replace water with chicken broth.
Once your green beans and Quinoa are going, place your salmon on a hot grill. I like to heat mine up on high to about 450 degrees and then turn it down to medium when I place the salmon on it. My salmon steaks were a good 3 1/2 to 4 inches thick and only took 10 minutes. Start with 4 minutes or so per side, check them and then add a couple of minutes if necessary. Salmon should be moist and pull apart easily, just barely over the lip of under-done.
Statistics show that 1 out of every 100 people in America suffer from Celiac disease. About.com and several Celiac websites say that researchers believe that there are more than 2 million people in the United States with Celiac disease who live every day feeling miserable and are undiagnosed. On top of that, doctor’s and researchers don’t even bother keeping track of the people who are gluten intolerant. So that means that the 1 out of every 100 statistic is made up only of people who have had a positive diagnosis for Celiac disease. Add on another 2 million that are living undiagnosed, thousands, possibly hundreds of thousands more who may not have Celiac disease but are still gluten intolerant…it’s not as uncommon as people think.
Have you recently been told you’re gluten intolerant or have Celiac disease? Or maybe you’re just trying to improve your diet, overall health, and energy levels. Either way, there’s actually a lot of grains and flours that don’t contain gluten. According to the Celiac Sprue Association and Triumph Dining – The Essential Gluten Free Blog, there are 102 flours and grains that those of us with gluten intolerance or Celiac disease can eat and only 19 flours and grains that we can’t. We may not be able to eat gluten, but there’s a whole host of things out there that we can eat that most of us have probably never tried or even heard of. Living gluten-free doesn’t have to be a prison sentence, it can be exciting and adventurous! As in most areas of life, it’s all in the way you look at it.
I worked in a Naturopathic medical office for years and I cannot tell you how many times we had to convince patients after they had been told that they needed to change their diets that it definitely is possible to do. They would come out of the Dr.’s office like deer in the headlights! We had lists of restaurants and all kinds of information to give them, but it’s still pretty overwhelming. I had a great sense of satisfaction when I could convince a patient that living a gluten-free or allergen free life really isn’t as difficult as it sounds. I could speak from experience and I knew exactly what they were feeling. When we found something we liked, we made sure we shared it with the patients, and they did the same for us. If you’re newly gluten-free, make sure you’re looking at other gluten-free sites, blogs, etc. Ask around at work, church, and your child’s school if anyone else is gluten-free. Chances are there are at least a few people and they’ve probably been gluten-free longer than you have and can give you tons of tips and ideas. I’ve had many conversations with other gluten intolerant people in the specialty isles at grocery stores! There are gluten-free magazines, books, cook books, and support groups. I would also recommend adding a Naturopath to your list of physicians. Learning how to live gluten-free takes time and a lot of patience, along with a willingness to step out and try new things. And let’s not forget the most important part of going gluten-free and taking control of your health…the silver lining to all of this is that YOU WILL FEEL BETTER!
Coconut milk yogurt is surprisingly good. This particular brand has several different flavors, my favorites are blueberry and raspberry. I’ve used this yogurt in all kinds of recipes that call for cow’s milk yogurt and I’ve even used it in place of cow’s milk sour cream in a couple of baking recipes with great success. I sometimes have it for breakfast with granola and nuts or fruit sprinkled with oatmeal. It’s not so good that it makes me want to do cartwheels, but if you’ve ever tasted goat’s milk yogurt…this would definitely get 5 stars over that! My one request to them and other dairy free yogurt makers would be to make it creamier. More like a full fat yogurt. This is creamy but not that thick, luscious, creamy I remember about cow’s milk yogurt. But all in all, still a great product that is worth buying.
Unexpected gifts sometimes turn out to be the best gifts! My aunt Judy bought me this cook book and surprised me with it several months ago. Some of its pages are dog eared, it is filled with sticky notes, there are food stains on it,I write notes in it next to the recipes I’ve tried…true signs that it is a great cook book. Honestly, I can’t say enough good things about it. Silvana Nardone owned a bakery for years and was the editor in chief for Everyday With Rachel Ray magazine. It’s safe to say she knows her stuff. Her son was diagnosed with gluten and dairy intolerance and she had to figure out a completely different way of doing things than she was used to. Sound familiar?
Silvana is a foodie like a lot of us. So you know that when a mother sets out to find a way to comfort and love her son with food and then write a cook book about it, it’s going to be good. Another cool thing on the long list of things I love about this cook book is that she has 2 simple flour mixtures. Easy flours to find, nothing fancy or scary. The recipes aren’t too complicated, you don’t need special tools, and best of all, every single recipe I’ve tried has been delicious. Perfect for the newbie. Perfect for the seasoned gluten free/dairy free cook.
I have made numerous recipes out of this cook book and have loved every single thing I’ve made. I’ve served them to my family, to guests, to neighborhood kids…everyone was impressed and loved what they were eating. I could post an entire page just on how mouth watering her doughnut recipes are. By the way, the picture of the doughnuts is my picture. Yep, they came out of my oven and I decorated them. Fancy, huh? They are simple…and simply delicious.
Her Corn-Shrimp fritters – heavenly. Isaiah’s Pumpkin Muffins with Crumble Topping – scrumptious and soothing. Her Chocolate Mousse Cloud Pie with Chocolate Cookie Crust – to die for. And can you believe she came up with all kinds of sweet and savory waffle mixes that allow you to create sandwich breads in your waffle iron? You need this cook book.
Simply put, I love this product. Chebe has an entire line of mixes. So far, I’m stuck on this one. I can’t get it out of my head. I’ve made focaccia bread with it, numerous pizzas, snacks for parties…the things you can add to this and put on top of it are endless. And you just have to love the logo, Slightly Unusual, Unusually Good. They’re right, it is slightly unusual. When you pour it out of the bag it’s very light and soft, due to the tapioca flour and manioc starch (don’t pour it out too quickly or you’ll have a cloud hovering over your counter). It truly is, unusually good. I think what makes it that way is that it’s unusually diverse. I rarely follow recipes completely, so I really like a product that I can tinker with. Tonight I’ll be making a vegetable flat bread pizza with it for dinner. I’ll post step by step instructions, ingredients, and pictures…so stay tuned!