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. ūüėć

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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Pumpkin Scone Recipe: gluten, dairy, and egg free

Since it’s Thanksgiving break, I decided to experiment with my scone recipe. The first attempt was not a complete success, but edible. The second attempt was much more satisfactory. So, without further ado, here is the recipe:

1C. General Purpose Gluten-Free flour

1/2 c. Brown Rice flour

1/2 + c. Sweet Sorghum flour

1 Tbs. baking powder

1/4 tsp. Baking soda

1Tbs. Coconut flour

1 c. Coconut cream (just the thick top from a can that’s separated… don’t shake the can to mix)

1/2 c. Vanilla almond yogurt

1/4 c. French vanilla coconut coffee creamer

1/3 c. Pumpkin puree (soak up as much extra moisture with paper towels as possible… the puree should be maleable much like soft play dough.)

1/2 Tbs. pumpkin pie spice (more, if desired)

1/4 tsp. Salt

1 Tbs. raw sugar

Mix ingredients. You may need to add a splash of creamer/ almond milk. Kneed on floured surface (I used brown rice flour.) Flour a small cup to cut out circles – about 2 1/2 inches. Pat dough out to 1/2-3/4 inch thick and cut out scones. Place in greased, round metal baking pans. Brush tops with coconut coffee creamer and sprinkle turbino sugar on top of scones. Bake 25-30 minutes at 390 F. Let sit 5 minutes before removing from pans.

*Tip: to make nut-free, use coconut milk yogurt instead of almond milk yogurt.

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Roasted Sweet Potatoes

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Roasted Sweet Potatoes

The sweet potato is an amazing food.¬† I’ve developed a new appreciation for it over the past year. (I hear they can even be made into doughnuts!) Anyway, here is my recipe for oven roasted sweet potatoes:

 

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Dice potatoes as shown

Sweet potatoes are much stouter than their russet potato cousins.¬† I’ve found that cutting the sweet potato across the midsection instead of lengthwise makes for a much easier time of it.

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Spices give this dish a full, savory flavor

I don’t measure my spices when I’m cooking.¬† I usually make 4-5 sweet potatoes at a time.¬† Add about 1/2 – 1 teaspoon salt for 4 potatoes.¬† More salt can be added after cooking according to taste.¬† My favorite spice mix is Mrs. Dash’s Southwest Extra Spicy (about 1 teaspoon) with 1/2 teaspoon of cumin.

However, nightshades (including cumin and peppers) have been eliminated (and I have to reluctantly admit that it has helped), so I use 1 teaspoon ginger, instead.  Ginger gives a nice, savory flavor to the potatoes.

Add 1-2 Tablespoons grapeseed oil to the potatoes and spices and mix until everything is fairly evenly coated.

 

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This is 4-5 sweet potatoes

Bake in a preheated oven at 400 degress F for 40 minutes.¬† I’ve found two good-sized sweet potatoes fill a glass 9×13.¬† If the potato cubes are more than about 2 deep in the dish, you will need to increase the cooking time.

Enjoy!

No-mato Spaghetti Sauce

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Summer vacation means extra time to try cooking new dishes.¬† This week’s experiment was no-mato sauce for spaghetti squash spaghetti.¬† I love spaghetti, but tomatoes are not on the friend list.¬† Just for good measure, I wanted to leave out garlic and onions, because they’re a little suspect at the moment.¬† I can’t say much for how the squash itself turned out — I think I need more practice on that one — but the sauce is very tasty.¬† Of course, this is coming from someone who hasn’t had spaghetti in 10 months. ;)

Just a word of caution, this recipe contains a beet.¬† Beets stain everything — including hands and face (don’t ask).¬† So, wear all black and don’t stir too vigorously.

Ingredients:

1 medium-size beet, peeled and diced

11 small-medium carrots, peeled and sliced (a little over 2 cups)

2 teaspoons ground oregano

2 teaspoons ground basil

1-2 cups water

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Water should cover most of the vegetables.

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Because of the staining power of beets, this color spoon is recommended.

 

Add the above in ingredients and simmer covered for 45-50 min in a small pan.¬† Let cool.¬† During the cooling process, most of the water will be absorbed by the vegetables.¬† Add in 1 cup diced roasted sweet potatoes.¬† (*Note: I almost always have roasted sweet potatoes on hand.¬† I cook them with ginger, salt, and grapeseed oil.¬† I thought it would taste good to add to the sauce — and it did — but it’s not necessary to add them.¬† Just put in less seasoning in the next step if you choose to omit the sweet potato.¬† I’ve also seen recommendations for adding canned pumpkin puree.) Blend in a food processor. I have a small processor, so I had to blend in two batches.¬† For each batch, I added 2 Tablespoons water.

Pour blended sauce in a bowl and stir in the following:

3/4-1 cup water (broth might also taste good here, but the water has worked great)

3 teaspoons ground basil

1 teaspoon honey

1 teaspoon salt

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Add honey and basil

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Stir together — and it’s done!

 

And that’s it! You should have about 3 cups of sauce.¬† It will be thick, so it can be used for pizza or baked pasta dishes as well.

More or less seasoning can be added according to taste.  If a more oregano taste is desired, you could add some more here as well.  The dominant spice in this recipe is basil.

Let the sauce sit overnight to let all the flavors blend together. (If you tasted it at this point, you probably noticed a dominant carrot flavor.)

Tip: Add cooked ground beef before heating to serve.

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Ready to eat with spaghetti squash

 

 

 

Curry-less Curry Sauce

The basic sauce

The basic sauce

This recipe was an attempt to make an AIP-friendly sauce for hot pot. So far, I’ve used this sauce to cook bok choy, nappa cabbage, shrimp, lamb, and sweet potatoes.¬† All of these have tasted wonderful.¬† This sauce is as close to curry as I’ve been able to get for a while.

See, I love spicy food.¬† And curry.¬† Especially spicy curry.¬† However, about 6 months ago, due to circumstances beyond my control, I found that I could not eat spicy food (or a lot of other foods, for that matter). Long story short, I’ve come a long way in adding food back into my diet, but I’m still on a hybrid anti-inflammatory/autoimmune/whatever-doesn’t-hurt-my-stomach-and-give-me-heartburn diet.

I had been eating sweet potatoes with some spice because I didn’t want to give up my cumin.¬† Or red pepper flakes.¬† Or curry.¬† Seriously.¬† However, thanks to the company and prompting of sweet friends in my life (and the prompting of my stomach), I gave up the spices — mostly nightshades not allowed on AIP (autoimmune protocol diet).¬† Curry is not allowed.¬† However, I have found that ginger, tumeric, and garlic make quiet the trio. So, here it is…

Curry-less Curry Sauce

Ingredients:

3 1/2  cups Chicken broth (I used homemade that I had in the freezer.  The taste was not strong at all, and it contained no soy, dairy, gluten, or msg)

2 Tablespoons fresh grated ginger root

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

4 cloves garlic (I used 2 teaspoons minced garlic)

2 teaspoons tumeric

1 teaspoon dehydrated onion

1 Tablespoon tapioca flour (to thicken the sauce)

Salt to taste.

5-6 chopped green onions

1/3-1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Combine all ingredients except cilantro and green onions in a medium pot.¬† Non-stick is the easiest to clean afterward… and the sweet potatoes might not burn. :)

Heat on medium and stir until the tapioca flour is dissolved.  When the sauce starts to simmer add the meat and vegetables along with the cilantro and green onions.  These picture, I just used some sweet potatoes cut into wedges and then again into thirds as they cooked.  Lamb was still my favorite meat.  This is also a great sauce for nappa cabbage and bok choy.

Simmer/low boil until the meat and vegetables are cooked.  I would recommend adding the potatoes first.  The potatoes took about 15 minutes to cook.  After about 5 minutes, I added the meat.  The cabbage only needs about 5 minutes to cook, so I might add it slightly before the potatoes are done.

*Notes:

– The sauce gets thicker the longer it simmers.

– This sauce is enough to cook about 2 1/2 large sweet potatoes.

РDo not cook carrots in this.  The sweetness of the carrots did not mingle well with the flavors.

– I imagine cauliflower would taste good with this sauce.¬† We’re not on speaking terms, presently, though, so I don’t know for sure.

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Add the cilantro and potatoes. I ran out of green onions for this batch… and I missed them.

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“Curried” sweet potatoes. Comfort food, right here.