Monday Meals: Butternut Squash and Spinach Rice Bowl

This is a spin on last week’s Monday Meal (click here for Zucchini Noodles and Rice).

They say that necessity is the mother of invention. This is no less true than trying to cook for a road trip because of food intolerances. Happily, shredded butternut squash was on sale at Kroger last week, so I snagged a bowl, along with two pounds of beef and a bundle of spinach.

The following recipe makes 4 meals. I ate one as a freshly cooked dinner. The other 3 were simply 1/2 cup each of rice, beef, and shredded butternut squash layered and frozen for my on-the-road meals.

This recipe is great for making lunches or just having a homemade freezer meal to reheat on a busy night. The meals reheat beautifully without losing flavor or getting mushy.

*note: I do not use much added spices to flavor this meal. I relied on the caramelized flavor of the cooked squash and salt to round out the meal. The more I cook simply for my diet, the more I enjoy the distinct flavors of the food itself that can be otherwise masked with other flavors. The savory flavor of the beef with the hint of sweetness from the squash is a great combination.

1. Brown 2 lbs of lean hamburger meat, salted to taste. Save grease and set meat aside to drain/cool.

2. In the same skillet, sauté 2 cups shredded butternut squash in 2 Tbs. of hamburger grease. Season with salt (and ginger, if desired). Cook about 10 minutes on high heat so that the squash is cooked through (but not mushy), and getting some crispy-ness and caramelizad for extra flavor.

3. In a smaller skillet, sauté 1-2 cups of spinach on high heat with 1 Tbs. oil and some salt to taste. Cook about 2-3 minutes, or until desired done-ness.

4. Top 1/2 cup warm, cooked rice with desired amount of beef, squash, and spinach. Divide the remaining beef and squash with rice (see notes above) for freezer meals. Enjoy!

Monday Meal: Zucchini Noodles

1 cup zucchini noodles sautéed in 1tsp. grapeseed oil and 1-2 Tbs tamari sauce (gluten-free soy sauce). Allow noodles to caramelize a bit for extra flavor. (10-15 min)

Serve on top of 1/2 cup cooked white rice.

Delicious as a side dish or a quick lunch!

Monday Meals: Spin on Pot Roast

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The chill of winter is almost out of the air here… although I’m told that there is a cold snap coming back.

Pot roast is one of my favorite dishes. For me, it’s comfort food that’s perfect for chasing away a cold, grey day. Also, the flavors are deep and full, which is something I miss on my restricted diet.

As a single working girl it is great for easy meal prep — and cost effective if I can get the meat on sale!

White potatoes are off the menu, as is beef broth (gluten!), so I changed it up a bit:

Pot Roast:

  • 2-3 lb. roast salt and paprika to taste
  • 3 large sweet potatoes peeled and cubed
  • 6-8 carrots peeled and chunked (I really add until the pot is full)
  • 2 parsnips peeled and cubed/chunked

Cooke in a crock pot on low heat for 8-10 hours or high heat 4-6 hours until internal temperature is reached.

When cool, separate into 5-6 containers for lunches for the week. Comfort food at work — can’t say no to that! :)

 

 

Rainy Day Pancakes

Rainy mornings call for pancakes. I wanted to experiment with different flours… trying to get in more fiber, iron, and protein while reducing carbs. After comparing flours, I decided to go with Almond (low carb, good fiber and iron, high fat), oat, and sweet sorghum (higher carb, low fat, good fiber and iron).

Almond Flour Compared to…

General purpose gluten free flour (which is still great for cakes, but I’m trying for “cleaner” baking).

Here were the oh-so-very delicious and filling results.

The recipe:

To make these nut free, use either sorghum or oat flour in place of the almond meal and coconut milk for the almond milk. Also watch the consistency of the batter. Extra milk might be needed with the nut-free version.

I used slightly less than three cups milk for the above recipe.

They bake up so nice and thick, even without a lid on the skillet.

Recipe makes about 18 4-5 inch pancakes. Serving size is pancakes. If you put syrup on them, you might want to go for 2 to start. These are super filling!

Here you can see me trying to figure out the nutrition facts:

Best as I can tell… without factoring in the less than 1tsp. Honey for each pancake, here are some basic facts:

For 3 Pancakes:

419 cal.

15.25 g. fat

60.3 carbs (about 20%)

8.6 g. dietary fiber (about 33%)

13 g. protein

22.7% daily iron

Easy to whip up, even easier to eat! 😋 Enjoy!

Monday Meals: Butternut Squash and Brussel Sprouts

This new quick meal idea is definitely a keeper!

Ingredients:

  • One package shredded butternut squash (mine was one sale for 1.50… otherwise they can be pricy)
  • Cumin
  • Olive oil
  • Salt
  • 1 package frozen brussel sprouts

Directions:

  • Sauté butternut squash in olive oil. Add salt and cumin to taste. Start off at medium heat until the “noodles” start to get soft, then increase the heat to get it crunchy.
  • Microwave brussel sprouts according to package.

All should be done in 20 min or less. Add in a rotisserie chicken and you have a healthy meal for 2 in no time (or clean up)!

Saturday Happenings

Because rainy days are for baking.

Click here for the recipe from theprettybee.com. It’s my first gluten, dairy, egg, soy, and nut free cake. And it’s chocolate. I’m a fan!

My recipe notes:

Apple cider vinegar instead of white vinegar (keep in mind some vinegars ate NOT gluten free)

Add 2 Tbs. strong dark roast coffee and as much extra GF flour. Trust me on this. 😍

Grapeseed oil instead of canola oil

Coconut sugar instead of cane sugar… not sure how much difference it makes. I just didn’t have any cane sugar.

I didn’t put in chocolate chips, because I was out. I have allergen-free chocolate icing to use instead.

Suddenly Gluten-Free: understanding the feelings

I recently had a conversation with a friend who was looking at going gluten-free for her husband’s health. Our conversation took me back to when I first realized that gluten — and some of my favorite foods — were off limits. At 27-years-old, I didn’t expect that I had eaten my favorite dessert for the last time.

Enter disappointment. 

After doing some research, I discovered that gluten is not so obvious. It can go by many names. It’s in soups, seasoning mixes, tortilla chips, chocolate, ice cream, spices, supplements, french fries (!)… even makeup.  And don’t get me started about restaurant food.

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I accidentally ate gluten — even small amounts — with painful and scary consequences. As a result, I became even more careful. And people did not always understand. Even community meals felt ostracizing. I had become that person. Ms. High-Maintenance at restaurants.

Enter frustration.

For people with gluten-sensitivity and Celiac Disease (an incureable auto immune disorder), gluten-free is the only option.  Popular opinion can see gluten-free people as high-maintenance, immature hipsters who could use the health benefits of wheat/barely/rye/spelt. People can question how gluten-free a person really needs to be.

Enter misunderstanding.

All of a sudden, two things I thought I understood — wheat and my body — were becoming more mysterious. Why did that rice mix (seasoning packet!) cause such searing pain in my abdomen?  Why do cookies and communion wafers make my mouth bleed? What was it doing to me? What would happen if I accidentally ate it again? If I stay away from it, could my gut start to heal again or had I caused irrevocable damage?

Enter fear.

Then I learned aboutcross-contamination.

Emotion level: overwhelmed.

I may have started crying one day at Kroger.

Still, looking back I also remembered what helped me get through that feeling of being overwhelmed. Here are 5 tips I learned about the feelings of going gluten-free.

1.) Accept the Feelings

This one has little to do with the actual gluten, but a lot to do with the mentality of changing your lifestyle so drastically.

Go ahead, feel frustrated. Feel sad, disappointed, and misunderstood. Feel uncertain. Feel scared. This is a change and it’s hard. You are probably saying farewell to a lot of things you like. It makes something difficult that used to be easy. It means that you will become that person at restaurants.

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Accept all those feelings, and then say, “I will not lose hope.”

As a Christian, I gained hope by remembering I was “fearfully and wonderfully made”. That God is sovereign, even thought it feels like my body is mutinying.

2.) Get support

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Explain your circumstances to a close friend. Chances are, you have a friend who has also had to go gluten-free. When I first went gluten-free, I didn’t understand how to do it. I suddenly didn’t understand my own body or how to take care of it. I needed help understanding this new lifestyle and the circumstances around it.

If you are the first of your friends to have to make this change, find a support group. Ask your doctor for recommendations. Read thesepersonal stories from the Celiac Foundation.

Know you are not alone.

3.) Change your mindset

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In the U.S. — as many other cultures in world — eating is an important part of being social. So, what happens when it’s suddenly more difficult (and hazardous) to eat out?

  • Invite your friends to explore possibilities that don’t involve eating — bowling, make art, museums, escape rooms, game nights, movies, nature walks, plays, music performances, have a photo shoot. Think about how much you would usually spend for a restaurant meal and spend it on making other types of memories.
  • Bring your own food. I’ve only ever been kicked out of one restaurant for bringing in outside food (I’m looking at you, London Pizza Hut) and that was in 2006. I bring my own food to church potlucks, out to eat, friends’ houses (or offer to cook with them), and conferences.

Think outside the box. Stay involved. You’ll find your experience getting bigger instead of smaller.

4.) Be patient

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As I mentioned before, becoming gluten-free is as sudden as the doctor’s pronouncement of a diagnosis. Becoming an expert in living gluten-free is not. So be patient with yourself. Ask for help. Keep learning.

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Be patient with others. Don’t roll your eyes when others don’t seem to understand that whole grain bread, graham crackers, and wheat germ all have gluten in them. You will need to educate those around you even as you learn about all the places gluten can hide.  One fun way is to invite people over for a gluten-free dessert night. Some of my friends have found they really enjoy some of my gluten-free goodies.

5.) Keep Going 

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Even when feelings of frustration and discouragement — even jealousy and anger resurface, keep going.

Remember it is not the end. Just like other changes, the gluten-free switch will allow for new experiences, new foods, new friends, and new opportunities that you wouldn’t have had otherwise.  So, accept the feelings. But don’t let them rule you. Remind them that you’re not saying just good-bye. You are also saying “hello”. This is not the end, it is a start of a new chapter.

It will get better.

And it will get easier.

My biggest encouragement and hope is remembering that life is not all about food. That I don’t have to worry because God still cares for me.  Yes, food is a blessing from God. Yes, He gives food for us to thrive and enjoy. Yes, some days I feel excluded from part of God’s blessing, but then I remember that I have an even bigger blessing — God himself. Maybe, for me at least, part of this new chapter is learning to say with the Psalmist, “You have put more joy in my heart than they have when their new grain and wine abounds.”

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