Sunday, November 30, 2008

Thanksgiving menu and recipes

As promised, here is the complete menu for our gluten-free Thanksgiving meal; I made everything myself (except for the rolls which were gluten free cream biscuits from Whole Foods Market), with a little help from DH, Paul, who sliced mushrooms, grated cheese, and generally helped to reach things on the top shelves (I'm 5'3" and he's 6'2"). I have a wheelchair with a seat that elevates several inches, which enabled me to cook while sitting down (still necessary, unfortunately).
  • Turkey, slow-roasted with bacon (recipe is in post #10 in this thread on, see picture of bird about to go into the oven, below)
  • Turkey gravy, made with pan drippings, brown rice flour, and chicken broth. Seasoned with salt, pepper, thyme, rosemary, and sage. Note: next time use potato starch instead of brown rice flour.
  • Mushrooms Parmesan (one of my all-time favorite holiday dishes, converted to be gluten-free, recipe below)
  • Broccoli-Cheese Casserole (one of my all-time favorite holiday dishes, converted to be gluten-free, recipe below)
  • Sweet Potato Casserole with Marshmallow Topping (gluten free, casein free, egg free, soy free, recipe below)
  • Homemade Whole Berry Cranberry Sauce (recipe on the bag of cranberries)
  • Jellied Cranberry Sauce from a can (for DH)
  • Stephanie's Crockpot Mashed Potatos
  • Erica's Sausage Apple Stuffing, with ~2 Cups chicken broth added, baked in a crockpot.
  • Cream Biscuits (gluten free, purchased from Whole Foods Market)
  • Stephanie's Pumpkin Cheesecake
  • Cherry Streusel Pie (used Erica's gluten free piecrust from her apple tart recipe and the cornstarch streusel topping from Roben Ryberg's book "You Won't Believe It's Gluten Free" (page 432), see pictures below of the cherry streusel pie and the pumpkin cheesecake cooling in crockpot before I added the sour cream topping).

Mushrooms Parmesan

3 T. butter
1 1/2 lbs mushrooms
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup milk
3 T. butter
3 T. brown rice flour
1 cup grated Parmesan
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
salt, pepper to taste
gluten free bread crumbs

Clean and slice the mushrooms (I like the slices fairly thick myself). Melt the first 3 T. butter in a large skillet and saute the mushrooms until wilted. Drain.

Make a roux with the second 3 T. of butter and brown rice flour by melting the butter in a saucepan over medium heat and quickly blending in the flour to form a paste; cook briefly, do not burn it! Add the heavy cream and whisk to ensure no lumps; simmer and stir until it thickens, slowly add the milk and simmer and stir again until thick. If too thick add a bit more milk. Lastly add most of the Parmesan cheese (reserve a bit to put on top) and the nutmeg. The sauce should be quite thick at this point, almost like a thick batter, because the mushrooms will still retain and release some liquid, even though they've been drained, which will thin out the sauce when they are added.

Add the mushrooms to the sauce, stir well, pour into a casserole dish and top with reserved Parmesan, gluten free bread crumbs (we used gluten free pretzel crumbs) and a sprinkle of nutmeg. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-30 minutes, until bubbly and starting to brown slightly on top.

Broccoli Cheese Casserole

2 lbs broccoli florets or 3 large heads of broccoli, cut up and steamed until tender
1 1/2 cups cream of mushroom soup, gluten free (not condensed)
2 T. cornstarch
1 1/2 lbs of cheddar cheese, grated
2 jars Kraft Old English Cheese Spread
1 cup diced chives or diced green onions
2 cloves garlic, minced
garlic powder (1-2 tsp)
dill weed (a few pinches)
rosemary (a few pinches)
thyme (a few pinches)
1 tsp dry mustard

Whisk the cornstarch into the mushroom soup in a medium sized saucepan, heat and stir until it thickens. Add most of the grated cheese (reserve a bit for topping), the Kraft spread, the diced veggies and seasonings to taste. Cheese sauce should be thick; if not, take out a small amount of sauce, add more cornstarch to it then add it back to the saucepan. Whisk and stir until thick.

Combine steamed broccoli with the cheese sauce mixture, add salt and pepper to taste. Pour into a casserole dish, top with cheese and crushed potato chips. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-30 minutes, until bubbly around the edges.

Sweet Potato Casserole

Use two large cans of yams or sweet potatos, drain and reserve juice. Mash the yams in a large bowl, add brown sugar to taste, beginning with 1/2 cup. Add a shake or two of cinnamon and ginger, plus small amounts of juice from the can until it is the proper consistency (smooth but very thick). Scrape into a casserole dish; bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes, then add marshmallows and bake until golden brown on top.

Vacation is nearly over!

I have to go back to work tomorrow! I'm planning to make some gluten free meals in advance to make it easier on myself.

I woke up with a headache this morning. I suspect it may be due to the accidental glutening last night when I ate a bite of a red beans and rice dish that had gluten in it. Or maybe it's because we're having a mild Santa Ana condition right now and my nasal passages and sinuses are reacting to it.

In any case, I will be posting some more recipes as I make various meals, so that I have an archive of gluten free recipes that work. I should post my Thanksgiving recipes that I adapted, too, for posterity.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Learning as I go

Well, I've been gluten free for 4 days now, and I'm starting to get the hang of it already. Lessons learned thus far:

  1. Nearly ANYTHING can be made gluten free!
  2. Try to minimize cooking and serving foods with gluten in them because it's too easy to gluten yourself. I glutened myself tonight when I absent-mindedly took a small bite of red beans and rice that I was preparing for Paul and the kids from a pre-packaged mix. Beans and rice do NOT contain gluten, of course, but the seasonings in the package had wheat products in them. I suppose I can cook things like that, but it's safer to make them gluten free myself from scratch, that way I can eat them too!
  3. Don't use brown rice flour to make gravy (too gritty); use potato starch or something like that.
  4. When making broccoli-cheese casserole, if you must use cream of mushroom soup rather than condensed cream of mushroom soup, be sure to thicken the soup with cornstarch first.
  5. Gluten free foods can make you gain weight, too. Try to go low carb as well as gluten free to lose weight (lean meat and poultry, veggies, omelettes, etc.).
Anyway, it's been fun to try different things, and to look products up on the Internet and find out that they're gluten free, or not, as the case may be.

Tonight I made turkey enchilada casserole, New Mexico style (meaning layered, not rolled up). I cut up leftover turkey into cubes (about 3 or more cups of turkey), and shredded cheddar cheese (about 4-5 cups of cheese total). I used La Victoria (one large can) and La Palma (one small can) Green Enchildada sauces, because they both seem to be gluten free, from what I could find out on the Internet and from the ingredients. Plus that's what I happened to have in the pantry! :)

Green Turkey Enchilada Casserole

Mix in medium bowl:
Cubed leftover turkey (at least 3 cups)
2/3 of the shredded cheese (4-5 cups total)
most of a drained can of sliced olives (save some for on top)
1 1/2 cups green enchilada sauce

In a 13 x 9 pan, sprayed with non-stick spray:
Coat the bottom with 3/4 cup enchilada sauce, then lay corn tortillas on the bottom, overlapping. Tear a couple of the tortillas in half so that they have straight edges to go against the sides of the pan.

Put half of the turkey cheese mixture on the layer of tortillas and spread evenly all the way to the edges. Place another layer of corn tortillas on top, pour half the remaining sauce on the tortillas. Put the remainder of the turkey cheese mix on top and cover with another layer of corn tortillas. Pour the rest of the enchilada sauce over the top, garnish with remaining cheese and sliced olives. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes, until the edges are bubbling and cheese is melted on top. Makes 8 servings.

It's great that so many Mexican dishes are naturally gluten free!! :)

First post

I begin this blog with high hopes, not just because of the testimonials of so many people who have found relief and improved health with the gluten free diet, but because, in my limited previous experience with living GF, I too felt better!

Here's a list of the health problems that led me to try the gluten free diet: celiac disease, autoimmune hepatitis, Hashimoto's Thyroiditis, rheumatoid arthritis, asthma, and psoriasis. I also have severe fibromyalgia (with allodynia). Currently I need a wheelchair to be able to go to work (and have been using one since Memorial Day 2008), because I can't walk very far anymore due to pain issues. Also (although I was overweight before being diagnosed with some of these diseases), since June, when I started taking Prednisone and Imuran, I've managed to gain about 30 pounds (much of it in my face - the famous prednisone "moon face"). Note that the picture of me in my profile is before prednisone!!

So despite the fact that it is the holiday season, I decided to go gluten free now after all, particularly since my GI doctor ordered me to do so. I began the GF diet on November 25th, just 4 days ago. Right before Thanksgiving!!

Nevertheless, I actually managed to make a completely GF Thanksgiving dinner, and my family enjoyed it, and I had a hard time telling that everything was gluten free! I'm proud of myself and really happy that I was able to do it so easily, using recipes from various blogs and GF forums on I adapted some of my favorite Thanksgiving recipes to be gluten-free, but I also used Erica's recipe for sausage-apple stuffing (except I added chicken broth and cooked it in the crockpot a la Stephanie), and I used Stephanie's recipe for crockpot mashed potatoes.

I made a pumpkin cheesecake in the crockpot too (recipe from Stephanie) and it was FANTASTIC!! Below is a picture of the cheesecake while it was cooling in the crockpot, before I added the sour cream topping. See the picture on Stephanie's site for the finished product.

I adapted a recipe for cherry streusel pie to be GF, by using Erica's piecrust for her apple tart and the cornstarch streusel recipe from Roben Ryberg's book "You Won't Believe It's Gluten Free" (page 432).

The good news is that I'm actually feeling a little bit better already! My vertigo is (almost) gone, my hands don't tremble anymore, and my blurry vision seems to have gone away too. Not only that, but my overall pain levels have been noticeably less most of the time. I've only had a couple of fairly mild headaches, instead of the kind that feel like my head is going to blow apart.

So it seems that the neurological symptoms are starting to clear up on the GF diet. Which is VERY interesting; it probably means that the celiac disease is responsible directly for the neuro symptoms.

My fibro symptoms, like the lower back pain and stiff muscles that prevent me from walking or standing for any length of time are still with me. But I hope and pray that they will diminish.