Monday, November 5, 2012

ultimate breakfast grilled cheese

        I love breakfast. I love eggs, I love bacon, I love grilled cheese. Some might think that being allergic to gluten and dairy would mean never getting to enjoy a grilled cheese again..but where there is a will, there is a way.
There are loaves of gluten free bread you can get at your specialty grocery store.
I toasted my bread, melted some Almond cheddar cheese on each side. 

Added my bacon and omelette style egg. Buttered the outside with this spread, sprinkled a little garlic powder and grilled it in a sautee pan.

Best breakfast ever.

And gluten-free & dairy-free.

You can't get that in a drive-thru.

Friday, November 2, 2012

poor man's stew

        This is an adaptation of a recipe my mom used to make when I was growing up. I added a few more vegetables, but it's still delicious and easy.

1 pound ground beef
3 to 4 medium sized whole carrots
6-8 medium russet potatoes
1/2 green bell pepper
1/4 cup frozen spinach
1/2 cup frozen corn kernels 
1 clove garlic, minced
garlic powder
italian seasonings
caldo de pollo

First I started by browning the ground beef with salt, pepper & garlic powder. Then I added the bell pepper, and diced make sure the potatoes get that meaty flavor.

Then I started boiling some water that I seasoned with caldo de pollo, (chicken bouillons, or chicken stock would also work). I added the carrots to that water. After the carrots boiled, I added the cooked meat, potatoes, bell pepper and frozen corn & spinach. I seasoned the broth to taste, and waited a few minutes for the flavors to all come together.

Delicious served as soup or with gluten-free corn tortillas & re-fried beans.
This is so easy and so worth a try. One of those home-y, rib sticking meals that nothing can compare to..

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

DIY: gluten-free lunchable

        Gluten-free living can be extremely rewarding though it definitely lacks convenience. Especially for those with Celiac disease or severe gluten allergies. I had a great idea to make my own gluten-free lunch-able type snack. 

Glutino crackers
Gluten-free pizza sauce*
Gluten-free pepperonis
String Cheese

I thought this would be the cutest lunch for a kid with a juice box and an apple.

& You could even pack dairy-free cheese & ham.

I love recipe ideas that are so versatile.

I miss lunchables and I am an adult..can't imagine what it would be like if I were 11. Food allergies are not fair, so I hope this helps anyone that feels left out.

*I used Ragu pizza sauce
& Hormel pepperonis

but ingredients change all the time so please double check your gluten-free products.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

copycat bottled 'frapp' recipe

        I used to love getting those super sweet iced coffee  bottled frappuccino drinks, being lactose intolerant I can't indulge anymore. I finally figured out how to make a dairy-free one that is just as good!

Dairy free iced coffee recipe
1/4 cup coffee
1 cup Original or Vanilla Almond milk
1 tablespoon of sugar
1 teaspoon gluten-free Caramel syrup

Stir sugar into coffee until it dissolves, add milk and ice. Top with caramel syrup.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

easy shredded beef-crockpot recipe

        One of my favorite crock-pot recipes is this shredded beef. It's so easy, great for entertaining, and so versatile. I use chuck roast, and it's as easy as setting it in the crock pot, seasoning liberally with salt, pepper and garlic powder. A little water and six to eight hours later (in my crockpot on low) a delicious meal! Pictured above, I added some red potatoes and carrots before the last hour. The corn, I steamed for another flavor & texture side dish. 
        The next day I reheated the leftover meat in a pan with a little oil, and water and seasoned with a little red pepper flakes and added some sliced bell pepper for shredded beef quesadillas.
Chuck Roast (Boneless or Bone-in)
Granulated garlic powder

Season your meat, put in slow cooker on low for 6-8 hours.

That's it!         This meal is as delicious as it is easy. I really recommend trying it. It's a great gluten-free meal, the meat can be used for tacos, served with rice and beans. Great filling for taquitos, enchiladas, even with BBQ sauce on a sandwich with some pickles. YUM. The best part, Chuck roast is a really inexpensive cut of meat so you can make this once a week!

Friday, August 3, 2012

gluten-free living

        I have been gluten-free for a year and one month now, and I am STILL learning. Changing to a gluten-free lifestyle was a little bit of a transition but the reward for how I feel is more than I could have imagined. When you feel bad for so long you forget what it's like to feel healthy. I now understand the phrase, 'you get back what you put in'. In regards to the food I am eating now and how I feel after.
       But I still make mistakes. I am lucky enough to have a gluten-free home, not in any danger of getting cross-contaminated with crumbs from my brother eating pop tarts or hamburger buns when we have a party. Our house is a no-gluten zone, even though I am the only one with allergies. And I have still gotten 'glutened' simply by being careless, or assuming that something is safe, even just checking the ingredients and thinking it's safe because it does not say "contains:wheat".
        Yesterday I changed my face wash, toothpaste and mouthwash. I was using St. Ives and the website says contains wheat protein. I always wash my face when I wake up and it's scary to think I could have had traces of that on my hands while making my breakfast. I had previously checked my toothpaste and the website said gluten-free but I had a closer look and it says cannot guarantee that there are no traces of gluten.
      My biggest piece of advice to people with gluten allergies, is to eat out as little as possible. I've worked in restaurants, and if the staff is ignorant of the severity of food allergies (I was), they may make small mistakes and you can EASILY get cross-contaminated. Nothing gross or anything, but if it's a busy night and they send the wrong food to the wrong table, it happens all the time. You might think you're eating gluten-free pasta but how would you know for sure?
      If you plan to eat at a restaurant, choose one with a gluten-free menu (the staff is a little more knowledgeable), don't pick a very busy night, and call ahead. You don't have to be specific about who you are, just talk to a manager and say you were planning on coming in soon and you want to make sure that they take food safety seriously, and are careful about cross contamination. The manager will probably have a talk with the staff that day and pay extra attention to make sure everything is handled properly.
        Then, there is the dreaded bread basket. The poison placed directly in front of you, and hopefully it's not warm and buttered because the smell makes it worse that you can't indulge. *Something to think about, even if you aren't eating it. Everyone else is, and probably all the people who have sat at the table before you. Of course, they clean the tables, but they don't clean the seats as often so be careful where you touch while you eat.
ribs, home-made fries, corn on the cob and spanish rice
     Sorry to share my paranoia about gluten germs being everywhere. But they really are, so be careful. Gluten-free living can be scary, but it can also be really great. So let's choose to make it a good thing. Enjoy our home-made bread, fresh fruit and vegetables, and our family dinners. It really is more of a lifestyle choice than a diet.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

summer garden cooking

        We went tomato crazy when we bought the plants for our garden. I love cherry tomatoes, and eat them like popcorn so at the time it seemed like a good idea, but now my vegetable drawer in my fridge is full of tomatoes. And I hate to waste veggies and let them go bad, so I've been making salsas and a lot of gluten-free pasta with chunky tomato sauce.
        Here is my cherry tomato chicken pasta, I added a little basil paste, pepper flakes, chopped spinach along with some diced tomatoes and the usual salt, pepper and garlic powder seasonings to the sauce. It was very good and very well received.
        Another chicken pasta I made with rigatoni noodles, basil, lemon and chopped spinach & of course our home-grown cherry tomatoes.
        A little bit of shredded Almond Mozzarella style cheese add that creamy delicious touch.

       I like to use a bag of frozen chopped spinach, it's so easy and it's the extra bit of veggies that make you feel less guilty about having a little, (or a lot) of pasta.

        The gluten-free pasta I've been using is Sam Mills corn pasta. It takes longer to cook than regular pasta but once you add the sauce and protein, I can't taste a difference. 

Thursday, July 5, 2012

breakfast: vegan cheesy chorizo potatoes

        This spicy Mexican inspired dish is a great change of pace to your traditional breakfast of oatmeal or pancakes.
I used Russet Potatoes, Soyrizo, Almond cheese "pepperjack style" so good and a little spicy. Served with a corn tortilla. Delicious.

About one medium russet potato per person, peeled and I slice them about the size and width of a quarter. The thinner the pieces, the faster they cook. Heat a large skillet, coat the bottom of the pan with oil, about a couple tablespoons. Once the oil is hot add the potatoes, season with garlic powder & pepper. When the potatoes are almost done, I squeeze a few tablespoons of chorizo. Usually I add three tablespoons for four potatoes. Finish with salt & top with shredded pepperjack style cheese. 
Breakfast is served.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

dinner tonight: taco salad

One of my staples and it's also great for entertaining; Taco Salad. People can add their own toppings and if kids are eating as well, they don't have to add the spicy salsa. My 9 year old cousin Isabel is disappointed if she and her sisters come over and we aren't having this for dinner.

Ground beef
Mexican rice
Pinto beans
Shredded lettuce
Diced tomatoes 
Tortilla chips*

Recipe for Guacamole:
5 ripe avocados
Juice of half a lemon
2 roasted jalapenos diced
Salt, 1 teaspoon
Pepper, 1 teaspoon
Garlic powder, 1 teaspoon

Peel & mash avocados, add spices, lemon juice & jalapenos. Stir to combine, leave one pit of an avocado to keep it green. You can take out the seeds of the jalapenos if you don't like it too spicy.

Recipe for ground beef:
1 pound ground beef
1 medium russet potato shredded
Diced green bell pepper
Garlic Powder 
Red pepper flakes
Taco Sauce**

Brown ground beef, season well with garlic powder, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes & about three tablespoons of gluten-free hot sauce of your choice. La Victoria sauces say gluten-free on the bottles and they have all kinds of red and green sauces in mild or hot. I also add diced green bell peppers once the meat is almost done, and even add a shredded russet potato, gives the meat great texture & stretches it out for a crowd.

Recipe for Mexican Rice:
1 cup of rice
1 8 ounce can of tomato sauce
Vegetable oil
2 1/2 cups of water
Salt, 1 teaspoon
Pepper, 1 teaspoon 
Garlic powder, 1 teaspoon
Caldo de pollo chicken bouillon***, 1 tablespoon

Heat oil in a shallow sauce pan that has a lid, add rice and brown the rice on high or medium heat. Once the rice starts to brown, turn off the stove. Add tomato sauce, water and spices, turn stove back on and bring to a boil, reduce to simmer. Cover for fifteen minutes. DO NOT OPEN the lid until the time is up. 
Perfect Mexican rice, my mom's recipe and probably my all-time favorite side-dish.
*Most tortilla chips are gluten-free, but always double check. I love Santitas White corn tortilla chips.

**Taco seasoning packets are usually full of sodium & may contain wheat, so using gluten-free taco sauce is a great way to get that flavor. 

***Bouillons are dangerous and can contain gluten. Always check ingredients. You can use gluten-free chicken broth instead of water.

Friday, June 15, 2012

pups in a blanket

         There is a common misconception that gluten-free automatically means healthy. That is not necessarily true. There are plenty of things that are gluten-free that are not good for you. Candy, for example. Eating only baby ruth, snickers and peanut butter cups is technically a gluten-free diet, but will definitely not help you lose weight or be healthy.
        Eating gluten-free means cutting out a lot of the preservatives and eating out less, which is a good thing and has had a positive impact on me and my family. Entertaining isn't easy when you are gluten-free. You can't stop and grab a few pizzas on the way home, or grab a few packages of hot dog buns and hot dogs. (We are a strict no gluten house, after a few cross contamination issues.)

        I was so happy to recreate pups in a blanket that are so dear to my heart, in a gluten-free version. This makes a great appetizer or little snack. The old way was a pack of hot dogs and pop open refrigerated biscuits. The gluten-free way is almost as easy and twice as good. 

Pack of hot dogs (Bar S are my favorite & gluten-free!)
Gluten-free dough (made from GF bread mix)

& then any sauce to dip!
I love spicy Brown mustard.

I've added a little drizzle of honey to the bread mix to give that little sweetness we are used to from corn dogs.

Make sure to let the dough rest for at least a half hour before you attempt to make them.
Usually I will put little spots of dough about the size of the hot dogs all over baking sheet, then place the pieces of hot dog on top and then one more bit of dough to form them into the pigs in a blanket.
In a preheated 375 degree oven for 12-15 minutes or until a little golden brown on top.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

quesadilla burgers

        Giving up bread was the hardest thing about going gluten-free. There are gluten-free breads, and hamburger buns available, but they may not be as affordable or as accessible.
Regular buns cost about $1 for an 8 pack, while gluten-free buns are around $7 for a pack of four. 
        Quesadilla burgers are an awesome way to still enjoy hamburgers at a barbecue, and even to entertain with. We really like white corn tortillas in my house, they have a milder flavor than regular yellow corn tortillas. I love the crunch of a pickle with my burger, so I added sliced pickles to mine. But corn salsa is really good in this, with pepperjack cheese, I use this dairy-free cheese

Even if you aren't gluten-free I recommend trying this out.

You can leave a hamburger patty whole and use two corn tortillas with cheese on top and bottom, (YUM) or you can slice it like I did.
Fixings for my quesadilla burger, and my home-made onion rings!

Hamburger patty
White corn tortillas
Cheese of your choice
Toppings: Salsa, pickles, jalapenos, bacon

Onion Rings:
two medium white onions
1/2 cup corn starch
1 cup all purpose gf flour
Garlic powder
Chile powder
Sea salt 
1 cup tonic water
Grapeseed oil for frying

Happy barbecue season! I am definitely taking advantage of my grill this summer & encourage everyone to do the same.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

gluten-free chinese food

        I make this once a week, my interpretation of chicken fried rice. It's so easy and very good. And you can always have the ingredients on hand, the beauty of frozen vegetables.

        I start by cooking the rice. You can follow the instructions on the bag. I usually bring 1 cup of rice & 2 cups of water to boil, cover, and then turn it down to simmer for 15 minutes. This can be done hours ahead of time.
        Next is cutting up the chicken, I find small, thin pieces work best because it cooks faster and it stretches out the chicken and feeds more with less. About the size of a quarter works perfect for me.
        I like using the frozen vegetables. Prepare them with a microwaveable steamer, the easiest thing in the world. So I fill our quart size steamer with mixed veggies on the bottom and broccoli florets on top. Five minutes in the microwave is usually enough. If you don't have a steamer, no worries. The package usually has a couple of different instructions on how to prepare them.

Now the prep is done, time to get cooking.
        Heat about 3 tablespoons of oil in a fairly large non-stick skillet, (or wok) on medium to high heat. Add the chicken, season with garlic powder, salt, pepper and red pepper flakes. Once the chicken is no longer pink, add diced bell peppers, I love orange ones in my Chinese food. 

Take the chicken out. 
Add a little more oil.
Scramble two eggs over medium low heat in the same pan. 
Take the eggs out. 
Add the vegetables to the skillet with a few tablespoons of soy sauce. 
Turn off the stove. 
Slowly incorporate the cooked rice, mixing well. Add more soy sauce to taste if your rice is looking pale. 

Finally, add back in the cooked chicken & eggs.  
Once everything is incorporated, it’s ready! 

I like to top mine with sesame seeds and sunflower seeds for a little crunch. 

If I am feeling fancy or have fresh Zucchini* on hand I like to add them and cook them once the chicken is almost done.

This usually feeds 4 adults

2 boneless skinless chicken breast
1 cup cooked rice
2 cups frozen mixed veggies
1/2 cup frozen Broccoli florets
Gluten-free Soy sauce
Vegetable oil
Garlic powder
Red pepper flakes
2 eggs
Hulled sunflower seeds or sesame seeds
*1 medium zucchini cut into crescent shapes

Sunday, May 27, 2012

gluten-free, dairy-free ice-cream at home

        I recently received an ice-cream maker as a gift. And what a gift it has been. Since I have been dairy-free for close to 2 years it's been awhile since I have been able to enjoy ice-cream. Which hasn't been easy because I have a sweet tooth, so I would cheat anytime people were having ice-cream and eat a little, then regret it later.. Even sherberts & sorbets usually have skim milk in them. 
        I've been experimenting with all kinds of flavors and these are a few that have been hits with my family that have no allergies.

Mint & York peppermint patty  

3 cups of original almond milk
1/2 cup of sugar or sweetener
1 teaspoon peppermint extract 

Combine all ingredients, place in ice-cream maker for 25-30 minutes. Add 2 crushed york peppermint patties (or 1/4 cup of chocolate chips). I really like the peppermint patties because it adds another level to mint & chip.

1 1/2 cups original almond milk
1 cup unsweetened coconut milk
1/4 cup Orange juice
1/2 cup of sugar or sweetener
1 banana sliced 
1/4 cup of crushed pineapple or diced fresh pineapple

Mix juice, milks and sugar together well, incorporate the fruit and pour into machine.

I'm excited, I'll be able to enjoy sweet treats on a hot I have to work on making a gluten-free waffle cone recipe.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

lunch today: gluten-free mini pizzas

        I'm not proud of it, but I have eaten a lot of frozen pizza in my life. I've never been a person that craved pizza. Until I gave up dairy, then cheesy pizza & cheesy bread always sounded good, just not good for me. Now, I make pizzas with Gluten-Free bread mix. I normally make the dough according to package instructions and add garlic powder & Italian seasonings. Roll out the dough and bake at the temperature on the box for like ten or fifteen minutes and then add toppings and put back in the oven.
Pizza I made for Valentine's day
        Today I used my gluten-free rolls, (GF english muffins or GF hamburger buns have also worked for me in the past). Ragu pizza sauce, Hormel Turkey Pepperonis, almond cheese alternative Mozzarella style. (You can use real cheese if you are not dairy-free). I cut the roll in half, add sauce, cheese & pepperonis and then put them in the toaster oven until the cheese is melted and the pepperonis are crisp. I love turkey pepperonis, they get really crisp and are so good. Plus they aren't as greasy as regular pepperonis. This is such an easy lunch & they taste so much better than regular gluten frozen bagel bites or frozen mini pizzas.
                         I love jalapenos on my pizza

I've done my own research and found that those brands are gluten-free, but remember to always double-check if you have a gluten-intolerance because ingredients change all the time.


Sunday, April 29, 2012

delicious veggie filled meat sauce

         Gluten Free Pasta with delicious home-made meat sauce

        My mom always made her own pasta sauce. I honestly didn't know pasta sauce came in a jar until I was an adult. Our meat sauce was made with ground beef and was usually served with macaroni noodles or spaghetti. It was always delicious. When I started cooking, I wanted to add vegetables to everything, simply because I love my veggies.
It started with bell peppers and it escalated to grated carrots and diced tomatoes as well. I've also added frozen peas or corn at the last few minutes, it all depends on what you like and what you have on hand.This is perfect for those who want to add more veggies to their diets. If you're not a big fan of vegetables, this is still perfect for you because the vegetables get great flavor from the sauce.
Ground beef
half of a green bell pepper
two cans of tomato sauce*
two tomatoes diced
one grated carrot
garlic powder
red pepper flakes
Italian seasoning

Start by seasoning and browning the meat, add diced bell peppers when meat is almost finished. When meat is cooked, add tomato sauce and veggies. Season again to taste. Add cooked gluten-free corn pasta or brown rice pasta to sauce. Mix well & serve.

I served it with a side of steamed Zucchini & tossed in some  shredded Almond Mozzarella.

*Be sure to use a natural tomato sauce, some are pre-seasoned and it gives it a different flavor

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

easy gluten-free lunch

        Figuring out what to eat for lunch once I started my gluten-free life was a bit of a challenge. I was used to eating out, or eating something easy like a sandwich or a frozen burrito.
        Good gluten-free corn tortillas are a staple in my diet. I use Guerrero white corn tortillas. I use them for Quesadillas with my dairy-free almond cheese alternative and whatever meat leftovers from dinner the night before as a great quick lunch. Or I heat up deli meat, like bologna or roast beef and eat that with a corn tortilla.
        This is a white corn tortilla with a few slices of Hillshire Farms roast beef that I heated in a skillet and seasoned with a little pepper. A few slices of avocado and jalapenos make this perfect and delicious. I highly recommend you give it a try if you're looking for an easy and tasty lunch.  

Sunday, April 22, 2012

sunday morning biscuits and gravy

        Sunday Morning breakfast. I made the mistake of watching food network's diners, drive-ins and dives on Saturday night. Seeing all that diner food gave me cravings for biscuits and gravy. Instead of being gloomy that I cannot simply go have that at a diner, I decided I would make a gluten-free, dairy free version. I made the bread dough, and let it rise in the fridge overnight.

       When I woke up, I made drop biscuits with my gluten-free bread mix. Then I started cooking my ground beef. I used hamburger meat instead of the traditional sausage gravy. 

        For the gravy I started with some unsweetened almond milk, gluten-free all purpose flour, (rice flour or instant mashed potatoes also work), and seasoned with salt, pepper, 1 minced garlic glove and a pinch of parsley.

       With a cup of coffee and a glass of Orange juice..there could not be a better start to the day.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

gluten-free pasta

        Lemon Chicken Pasta with Zucchini & "Mozzarella"

       I never thought much about pasta, until I knew I couldn't have it. I was very relieved to know that there are alternatives for people who must live gluten-free. Obviously eating a lot of pasta, even if it is gluten-free, will not help you lose weight..if you're trying out gluten-free living as an actual diet.
        So far, I've tried brown rice pasta, corn pasta, and quinoa pasta. Brown rice cooks the fastest, but the corn pasta is more accessible to me, and is available in more variations at my grocery store.

        Last night I browned some boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite sized pieces. Seasoned with garlic powder, salt, pepper, Italian seasoning, and red pepper flakes. Once the chicken is no longer pink, (I prefer it lightly browned), I add chicken stock and two large zucchini cut into crescent shapes. I usually season again with more garlic powder and Italian seasoning. Let the stock reduce down then add the cooked pasta once zucchini is tender. Squeeze the juice of one lemon and top with shredded "mozzarella".

boneless skinless chicken breast
garlic powder
Italian seasoning
red pepper flakes
rigatoni corn pasta
juice of one lemon
almond cheese alternative mozzarella style

Thursday, April 19, 2012

dinner tonight: Gorditas

Dinner tonight


        I made ground beef filling for my first attempt at Gorditas. I remember my grandmother making them but haven’t had them in about ten years. I made the dough using this recipe

        One shredded russet potato, and diced bell pepper add really good texture and make the ground beef filling really delicious. I seasoned the meat with salt, pepper, garlic powder, red pepper flakes, and a little taco sauce.

Toppings included my homemade corn salsa, 
shredded lettuce and cubed avocado
Served with a side of Spanish rice

        Full and feeling nostalgic, thinking about the last time I had Gorditas standing in my grandma’s kitchen. I think that having Mexican heritage really eased the transition to my Gluten-free life. The only thing I had to cut from our usual Mexican recipes was flour tortillas. Most corn tortillas are gluten-free, 
(always read the label, Guerrero white corn tortillas are clearly labeled Gluten-free)
Rice, beans, carne asada, chicken. A lot of the food from my childhood is naturally safe for me to eat, and that’s a good feeling.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

safe in the sun

        With the start of summer it's time for a new daily moisturizer with a high spf. It's no secret that I'm a little on the pale side. Before I started shopping I did a little research.. This is what I came up with.
Eucerin Daily Protection Moisturizing Face Lotion with SPF 30 sunscreen.

        Super lightweight, not greasy, really affordable. And did I mention, does not contain gluten ingredients? My new favorite moisturizer.

Monday, April 16, 2012

ode to breakfast

        Breakfast is one of the meals I have come to love. Growing up my parents always made special breakfasts on Sunday mornings because my dad would have the day off so we'd get to eat breakfast all together. So my brother and I would get a big brunch with our parents that we normally wouldn't get to have during the week before school. When my parents didn't have to drive me to school any more they'd occasionally go out to a restaurant on a breakfast date, and I'd tag along. Breakfast has a special place in my heart.
        As I started to recover once going gluten-free, and started gaining an appetite I'd wake up starving. My mom would make me eggs and bacon. Or pancakes, (Gluten-free Bisquick makes super delicious pancakes and waffles). We all love the gluten-free pancakes. My family gave up gluten when I had to, because they were worried about cross-contamination. So now our house & kitchen are gluten-free, even though I'm the only one that needs to be. I know, I'm very lucky. 
        Now I make gluten-free breakfast for all of us. I make my own bread which I use for French Toast, other times I use the same bread mix and form them into rolls which makes for great sandwiches. One of my new favorite breakfasts is my Gluten-free, and Dairy-free breakfast sandwich. I guarantee it's better than any fast food breakfast sandwich.

Fried egg
Almond cheddar cheese alternative
Breakfast meat of your choice; ham, bacon, sausage, fried bologna, pepper turkey*
Gluten-free roll**
Ore-Ida tots make a great easy side of 'hashbrowns'

*You have to be cautious when buying prepared meat, especially sausage, because it may not be gluten-free. I really liked using deli sliced ham or pepper turkey from Hillshire farms. I heat a few thin slices in a sautee pan, for one sandwich. Oscar Meyer Bacon & Bologna are also good options that work for me. The big companies are more likely to say on their websites if the products are safe. Always double check to be safe.

**You can buy gluten-free sandwich rolls, they are usually in the freezer of specialty food stores. I like to use Gluten-free Pantry Favorite Sandwich bread mix, I mix according to package instructions. Let the dough rise for an hour, then make drop biscuits. The box says the oven setting for 375 degrees, then I let the biscuits cook for 15-18 minutes.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

introduction to my gluten-free tale

In 2009, I was at community college, and a waitress in a fast casual restaurant. I was constantly eating chicken fingers, sandwiches & drinking soda without a care. Until I got food poisoned. I’m not exactly sure what the culprit was. But I did notice that things weren’t quite the same after that. Unbeknownst to me, it had triggered gluten-intolerance. I noticed I couldn’t continue the way I was eating. I cut out fried foods, and stopped drinking soda. From then on, I was a “water with lemon” girl and I was munching on ice cubes & lemon wedges in our restaurant kitchen, instead of french fries & mozzarella sticks.
2009 & 2010
I gradually started losing weight, I was always in the 140-150 weight range as an adult, I even got to 160. I then cut lactose from my diet, I was lactose intolerant and tired of not feeling good. I just wanted some normalcy. I tried to eat healthy even though I was still eating out quite a bit. So I would get sandwiches, between classes and Chinese food with white rice and mixed veggies before work, thinking I was making good choices. I noticed I was still shrinking and had very little energy. My knees & my heels would hurt after work..but I thought it was just from constantly being on my feet, working in restaurants for a few years now.
July 2011

It wasn’t until June of 2011 that my body decided it had had enough. I thought I got food poisoned again. For a week I had to call in to work, because I was so incredibly weak and no food that I ate would stay down. I was sleeping from 9pm to 9am and then still took a nap during the day. I finally overcame my fear and went to the doctor. My stomach was constantly in pain, my ankles were swollen, and the pain in my knees was unbearable. I was tired of being sick. Blood tests were coming back normal, with the exception of a mild case of anemia. I was then referred to a gastroenterologist. After many embarrassing and bothersome tests, all coming back fairly normal, they scheduled a colonoscopy and endoscopy. I cried but it was a month away, enough time for me to wrap my mind around it, or to make myself sick with worry. I tried to stop weighing myself once I got to 110 lbs,(pictured above) it was too scary to think that I could weigh that little, since the healthy weight range for my height starts at 115. It looked like the scary invasive tests were my only option to find answers.
That night my dad was on the computer googling my symptoms, something we hadn’t previously done out of fear. On the internet, a headache and a cough can lead to a scary response that can make you think you are dying. I wanted no part of it. I hid in the other room, and he asked if it could be gluten-intolerance. I had no idea what that was. He rephrased, could you be allergic to wheat? I thought no…I had eaten a lot of sandwiches on wheat bread and felt fairly fine..but when I read it was not like other intolerances that you notice within a few hours I said I would try it, I was willing to try anything.
April 2012
July 1st, 2011 was the first day of my gluten-free life. I stopped eating my Cream of Wheat for breakfast, and chicken noodle soup and crackers for lunch.  After a week, I knew but waited to say it out loud. I wanted to be sure, I had felt so terrible for so long.  After two weeks, my knees felt fine, no more sore joints, no more stomach pain and no more swollen ankles. It was finally safe to say that I had found my cure. When the gastroenterologist called to reschedule the invasive tests for another month later, because they had overbooked me, I said no thank you. I never got officially diagnosed Celiac, because you are supposed to get tested before you start your gluten-free diet.  But I didn’t need a diagnosis when I had finally started to feel good again. It has not been easy because I had gotten so weak and my stomach was so incredibly sensitive. But now I am in a good place. I am fortunate that I inherited my mother’s creativity and having her teach me the foundations of making food taste amazing. I love trying new recipes and making delicious gluten-free food for my family and friends. I want to share my successful recipes with people who'd like to try gluten-free living.