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.