Monday, December 28, 2009

Health updates and more recipes!


I haven't posted for a couple of weeks because I've had a bad cold and have been grading final exams for my class. I'm still not over the cold....in fact, I think it's turning into bronchitis, but at least I've managed to turn in grades! :)

Also, I've had another blood test for Lyme disease (the Western Blot test) and I'm awaiting the results. I hope to know something within another week or two!

Anyway, it's been difficult to do a lot of cooking while sick, but I have managed to try a couple of new recipes that have turned out very well....they're now family favorites, in fact!

The luscious cake pictured above is my version of a Nigella Lawson recipe, Clementine Cake. Actually this recipe is all over the Internet in various forms, and was brought to the attention of the larger public by Starbucks, who sold a similar cupcake called the "Valencia Orange Cake" for several months. It was advertised as "gluten-free" so people didn't buy it often (unless they HAD to buy gluten free), so Starbucks decided it was unpopular and stopped selling it. :(

The great thing about this cake is that it's ALWAYS been gluten free, because it's traditionally made with almond flour. You can use oranges, clementines (which are a type of mandarin orange) or even a mix of oranges and lemons with extra sugar, but clementines are my preference because the little ones I buy at Trader Joe's have very thin skins. The thinner the skin, the better your chances are of having the cake turn out well, because thick skins contain more pith (the white part) and can make the cake bitter.

We had Clementine Cake for our dessert on Christmas Eve; it received rave reviews! Here is my version; as usual I used both almond and coconut flours:

Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, Grain-Free Clementine Cake

Ingredients:

Approximately 1 pound of clementines (for me that was 10 tiny clementines)
6 eggs
1 1/4 C sugar (yes, I used sugar....I do plan to try it with agave syrup)
2 C almond flour
3 T coconut flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder

Directions:

Remove any stem remnant from each clementine if necessary; place whole clementines into a pot with cold water to cover and bring to a boil. Lower heat to medium-low and cover pot, cook for 2 hours. Drain and, when cool, cut each clementine in half and remove the seeds, if any. Squeeze excess water out of each clementine half by hand. Then finely chop the clementines in a food processor until they achieve a sauce-like consistency.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Total bake time is about 40 - 50 minutes.

Grease and line an 8-inch cake pan with parchment paper.

Beat the eggs. Mix the sugar, almond flour, and baking powder together in a separate bowl, then add the beaten eggs. Mix well, adding the processed clementine "sauce" last.

Pour the cake mixture into the prepared pan and bake for 30 - 40 minutes; cover the cake with foil at that point to prevent the top from burning. Cook for 10 more minutes or so until a metal skewer inserted into the center comes out clean. It's normal for the outside of the cake to be dark golden brown; it's also normal for it to "puff" up above the pan and then settle back down towards the end of baking.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the pan on a rack. This cake is fabulous as soon as it cools, but is even better the next day after the flavors blend and mellow....it's moist, light and delectably citrus-y. Yum!!


*******************************************************************

Another recipe we've become fond of recently is a very tasty grain free flatbread originally posted by Liz (aka "lonewolf") in one of the forums on celiac.com.


Grain-Free Flatbread


Ingredients:

4 egg whites
2 - 4 egg yolks (note: original recipe calls for 2 yolks, but 4 works too)
1 tsp melted butter
1 tsp agave nectar or honey
1/2 C almond flour
dash salt

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Separate egg whites and yolks....


Beat egg whites until soft peaks form.


Beat yolks with melted butter, dash of salt, and agave or honey.


Sprinkle the almond flour over the egg whites and fold in gently along with egg yolk mixture.


Spread the batter onto the parchment paper into a 12" by 12" square (if using 2 yolks only) or a 12" by 14" rectangle (if using 4 yolks). Make sure the thickness is uniform over the square (or rectangle). Bake at 350 for 12 minutes; it should be turning golden brown on top when done.


This bread is so versatile! You can simply cut it into squares and use them for regular sandwiches, or into the right-sized rectangles to be wrapped around hot dogs as a bun-replacement. You can even take an entire sheet of bread and cover it with Dijon mustard, ham slices and Swiss cheese, roll it like a jelly roll, microwave it until the cheese starts to melt, slice and serve.


OK....it's not as flexible as wheat-based bread, so it does tend to crack a bit when you're rolling it up, but it's still AMAZING bread when you consider that it's entirely grain free!


Last minute health update: I just returned from Urgent Care with a diagnosis of bronchitis and a severe asthma attack. Have to increase my prednisone dose for a few days plus take antibiotics! Why do I get sick so often over the holidays? :(

I truly hope that all of you, my dear readers, are healthy right now, and that you and your families are blessed in every area and are enjoying this holiday season together!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Still no weekly menu, but a couple of good recipes!

It has been challenging to remain completely grain free.....I have to admit I've fallen off the wagon several times, because we continue to have corn chips and other grain-y snacks around for the kids. But I'm still trying! I think it's really helped my gastrointestinal system, because I was still having some gastro issues after I went gluten free, but now that I'm (mostly) grain free, those issues have disappeared!

I continue to have weird neurological symptoms, plus pain from the lupus-RA-rhupus and fibromyalgia, which keeps me in the wheelchair. But we may be on the track of a new diagnosis that might explain a few things.....I just found out that my blood test for Lyme disease was POSITIVE! I'm no expert on Lyme, but I have the impression that not only can it attack any system in your body, but it can both trigger autoimmune diseases and mimic them!

Wouldn't it be wonderful if I could just take an antibiotic and have some or all of my remaining health issues go into remission?!?!?!! Wow!!!

Well, more on that soon....

Here are the promised recipes; the first one was inspired by a recipe on Stephanie's website:

Crockpot Cranberry-Orange Roast

Ingredients:

3-5 lb beef roast (or pork roast or stew chunks)
1 package Lipton Onion Soup Mix (yes, it's gluten free!)
3 T gluten-free soy sauce
2/3 of a bag of fresh cranberries
1/2 - 1 C orange juice
1/4 - 1/2 C agave nectar

Directions:

First make a cranberry sauce using the fresh cranberries, orange juice and agave nectar. Put washed cranberries into a medium saucepan; add orange juice until the level of the juice is about 1/2 inch below the level of the cranberries...you don't want so much juice that it's covering the berries. Add agave nectar; start with 1/4 C and add a bit more if it's not sweet enough (or add a tiny bit of stevia). Place pan on stove over medium high heat and bring to a boil, then reduce heat. You want it to be higher than a simmer but not a fast boil. Stir often. The cranberries will begin to pop; after most are popped removed from heat.

I have a large (7 qt) Crockpot, and the roast I used was about 4 1/2 lbs, and SOLIDLY frozen. You don't have to use frozen but it works just fine if you do (add a little more time or cook on "High"). Put roast in Crockpot then sprinkle the onion soup mix and soy sauce over. Pour the cranberry-orange-agave sauce over the top. Do not add water. Cover and cook on low for 7-9 hours, or on high for 5-6. If you are cooking on high, you may want to break apart the meat into smaller chunks an hour or so before serving so that the juice penetrates more deeply into the meat.

We ate it over mashed potatoes, and with a green salad, per Stephanie's suggestion. What a fabulous meal for a cold night!!

The other meal is the Chicken and Dumplings recipe (also from Stephanie) that I've already published on my Gluten Free Recipe Archive site. The main difference is that I used my Grain-Free Biscuits to make the dumplings and they WORKED! I was really craving some Chicken and Dumplings and was so glad to find out that I can make it grain-free!

Chicken and Dumplings

Ingredients

2 T arrowroot
ThickenThin/NotStarch
1 cup almond milk
1 cup chicken broth
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 tsp poultry seasoning
3 pounds boneless, skinless chicken
1 yellow onion, chopped
1 cup mushrooms, chopped
16 ounces frozen vegetables

Plus one batch of drop biscuits: I used the grain-free biscuits recipe.

Directions

In a medium saucepan, mix the milk and broth with the arrowroot powder while whisking constantly, and cook until thickened; stir in the salt, pepper and poultry seasoning. If necessary, add the ThickenThin one teaspoon at a time (whisking well!!) until the sauce is thick enough.

Any Crockpot with a capacity of 4 quarts or more will work. Put the chicken and vegetables into the bottom of the Crockpot. Add the milk-broth mixture. Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours, or on high for 4-5. An hour before serving, shred chicken with two large forks, and mix up the biscuit dough. Drop the dough in large spoonfuls on top of the hot chicken stew and replace the lid.

Cover and cook on high for another 45 minutes - 1 hour. The dumplings are done when you can insert a knife and it comes out clean. They will be spongy but firm to the touch.

Serve in bowls, with a dumpling or two per person.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Further adventures in grain free baking: clementine-cranberry scones


I've managed to create a clementine-cranberry scone that is gluten, grain, soy, and dairy free! Well, OK.....the icing I put on top is not grain free because powdered sugar has cornstarch in it, but you can skip the icing if you desire.

Ingredients:

Scones:
4 eggs
1/4 C coconut oil, melted
3 T agave syrup
Several drops (8-10) of liquid stevia to taste
1 T clementine (or orange or tangerine) zest
Freshly squeezed juice from 2 clementines (about 3 T juice)
1 C fresh cranberries
1/4 tsp salt
1/3 C coconut flour
1/3 C almond flour**
1 T flax meal
1/2 tsp baking powder

Icing:
3/4 C powdered sugar
orange or clementine juice

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, coconut oil, and agave syrup until well mixed; add the clementine juice and zest. Coarsely chop the cranberries in a food processor, then add them to the egg mixture. Combine the salt, coconut and almond flours, flax meal and baking powder in a separate bowl, then stir into the egg-oil mixture, blending well. Add the stevia drop by drop to taste (scones aren't supposed to be very sweet), and mix thoroughly.

Drop by spoonfuls onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for approximately 16-20 minutes (start checking them at about 16 minutes), until beginning to develop golden-brown spots on tops. Makes 8 scones.

Optional icing: Let scones cool, then make clementine (or orange) icing by stirring a couple of teaspoons of juice at a time into the powdered sugar until it reaches the desired consistency. Drizzle icing over scones; let sit long enough for icing to harden a bit, then serve.

**Note: I am following Elana Amsterdam's suggestion and using ONLY finely ground blanched almond flour. Some almond flours on the market simply are not fine enough to give a good texture to baked goods. For example, Bob's Red Mill Almond Flour just doesn't work. The flour that I'm currently using is Honeyville's Blanched Almond Flour.

P.S. This is not the typical shortbread type of scone; it's a lot moister.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

A Day of Thanksgiving - looking back, looking ahead

If you've been reading my blog for any length of time at all, you know that I'm still having serious health problems, exactly one year after going gluten free. But (and this is an important "but"), my health is better than it was one year ago, even with my new diagnosis of rhupus and being in the midst of a rhupus "flare".

My gastric problems from celiac disease are gone (diarrhea, bloating, abdominal cramps), as are the mouth sores and the daily hideous migraines! What a blessing!!

Today is the day to count our blessings (although we should be counting them every day!). So I told myself that I was going to make a list of at least a few of the things that I'm thankful for (not in any particular order, and not a complete list by any means):
  • I am still here, still breathing!
  • I am better than I was a year ago; all of my conditions may go into remission eventually.
  • I have a wonderful husband and family who love me.
  • In this terrible economy, even with my health problems, I still have both of my jobs.
  • I love Jesus, and He is my life.
Of course, I don't know what the future holds, but I will continue down the dietary path I'm on. In the beginning I was just gluten free, now I'm trying to be grain free too. There are so many testimonies out there on the Web by people who experienced miraculous recoveries from various autoimmune diseases when they went grain free....I am still very hopeful.

Are you thankful for anything today? :)

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Links to other Thanksgiving menus and recipes

I've been getting some comments from readers with links to more recipes....thanks for those, I always love to read other people's recipes!

Just so you know....I do actually have LOTS of recipes! :)

I used to do an incredible amount of work during the holidays, back in the days before the wheelchair. I invited everyone over, and I did all the cooking.

For Thanksgiving I usually started cooking 3 days in advance, made my own whole wheat bread and cut it into cubes and dried them for the stuffing, then made pumpkin pie, cherry pie, apple pie...well you get the idea.

On Thanksgiving day I got up at 4am and cooked all day long: turkey and stuffing and homemade gravy, broccoli-cheese casserole, garlic mashed potatoes, mushrooms parmesan, homemade rolls and cranberry relish. I made everything from scratch.

Then on Christmas Day I would do Thanksgiving all over again, except that I also made homemade cinnamon rolls for breakfast! I used to make Christmas gifts for all my friends: homemade stollen or cookies or gingerbread.

It's so hard for me to believe now that I was able to do all of that!

I know that my adult kids miss the big feasts, but my theme now is "simplify". Fibromyalgia and rhupus and autoimmune hepatitis and everything else make it so that I have to conserve my energy, not spend it recklessly.

I realize that my Thanksgiving recipes leave something to be desired this year....yes, they are very simple, super basic. But that's just because I need simple this year due to my health issues. For those of you who feel great and have TONS of energy and a desire to cook like maniacs, here are links to some fabulous gluten free recipes (some are even dairy free and/or grain free!):

Karina's Thanksgiving Recipes

Elana's Thanksgiving Recipes

Erica's Thanksgiving Recipes

Stephanie's Thanksgiving Recipes

Celiac.com Recipes and Thanksgiving Menus

My Very First Gluten Free Thanksgiving (2008)
(my suggestion is to substitute arrowroot or sweet rice flour for the thickeners I used....I made this meal only 3 days after I went gluten free, so I didn't know about other flours and used regular brown rice flour for pretty much everything!)

I hope that all of you have a WONDERFUL Thanksgiving!

P.S. Take a look at some of the blog links in my side bar for even more links to Thanksgiving recipes!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Thanksgiving Menu - Grain Free, Sugar Free

We have decided to do Thanksgiving completely grain and sugar free this year....and due to my current state of health (in the middle of a rhupus flare), I need it to be SIMPLE.

Here is my plan:

Turkey Breast in the Crockpot (from Stephanie)

Baked Sweet Potatoes

Garlic Mashed Potatoes

Whole Cranberry Sauce (sweetened with Stevia)

Steamed Broccoli

Mushrooms Parmesan (old family recipe: saute 1 lb mushrooms in butter until just wilted; make a parmesan cheese sauce from butter, arrowroot, cream and milk, pepper, nutmeg, plus 1/2 C or more grated parmesan; fold mushrooms into cheese sauce and pour into baking dish. Top with crumbs - can use crumbs from a grain-free biscuit - and more parmesan and bake at 350 until bubbly and top is beginning to brown.)

Grain Free Biscuits

Pumpkin Pie (sweetened with Stevia) with Almond Flour Crust (see Elana's Cookbook)

Whipped Cream sweetened with Stevia

NOTE: Since I usually tweak recipes a little I do plan to post my own versions on my Recipe Archive blog at some point, but wanted you (the reader) to have links to the sites that are my current inspirations, just in case this helps you plan your own Thanksgiving. Have a wonderful one!!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Gluten Free, Grain Free Menu Plan - Week of 11/16/09

Here is an attempt at a menu....let's see if I actually get to make all of these! :)

Monday: Breakfast dinner: scrambled eggs, bacon, grain-free banana blueberry muffins, fruit

Tuesday: Crockpot Thai Chicken Curry, Cauliflower "Rice"

Wednesday: Grain-free, potato-free version of Kay's Fish Pie (use Cauliflower "mashed faux-tatoes")

Thursday: Grain-free Chicken Enchiladas (recipe coming soon!)

Friday: Grain free pizza, green salad

Saturday: leftovers

Sunday: BBQ Chicken in the Crockpot, Cauliflower "Potato Salad"

Saturday, November 14, 2009

So what HAVE we been eating lately, anyway?

I didn't post a menu again, because we're still in a "flying by the seat of our pants" mode right now. We are not completely grain free but are getting closer all the time.

Recently for dinner we've had:

Crockpot Garlic Chicken, green salad, mashed potatoes
Salmon Kabayaki (from Elana, who got it from Jaden), steamed broccoli


Crockpot Chili, green salad, grain-free biscuits



Broiled steak with mushrooms and garlic in a red wine reduction, green salad

Breakfasts usually consist of eggs and fruit, or cottage cheese, or some of the grain free muffins I've been experimenting with....for lunch I've been recycling dinner leftovers a lot. For example, I used leftover Garlic Chicken to make a Clementine Chicken Salad with Trader Joe's Champagne Pear Vinaigrette dressing:


So we're eating healthier now....but with Thanksgiving and Christmas coming up I anticipate difficulties. Wow, I need to think about the Thanksgiving menu pretty soon now, don't I?

More on a gluten free Thanksgiving soon....

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Pumpkin Spice Muffins: grain, gluten, dairy free!


Yes! I have actually managed to do a little more experimenting in my kitchen recently, and successfully created a gluten free, grain free, dairy free muffin which exudes essence of pumpkin and spices like cinnamon and nutmeg....yum!!

Of course, there are many other gluten free recipes for pumpkin muffins, cookies, cakes, and breads out there on the Internet (please see Elana's, Karina's and Erica's latest pumpkin postings...and there are TONS more!), but this may be the only grain-free, dairy-free recipe that uses both coconut and almond flours. I've been using this combination a lot lately because it creates a great texture, retaining the good qualities of both flours without incorporating the negative ones (such as coconut flour's notorious tendency to make baked goods very dry).

These muffins are wonderfully moist and cake-like without being overly dense or oily, and have a nice "spring" to them if pressed lightly on top. I suspect they would be fabulous with additions such as pecans, chopped cranberries, or even chocolate chips....and I may be able to make iced pumpkin quick bread or pumpkin coffee cake without having to alter the recipe too much! More on that topic soon, I hope...


In any case, here is the recipe (makes approximately 21 muffins):

Ingredients:

1/4 C melted coconut oil or grapeseed oil
1 C agave nectar
1 15-oz can pumpkin (100% pure pumpkin, NOT pumpkin pie mix)
6 eggs
3/4 C coconut flour
1 C plus 3 T almond flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp (rounded) ginger
1/8 tsp cloves

NOTE: 1 15-oz can of pumpkin is approximately 1 3/4 C of pumpkin puree, at least for Libby's pumpkin!

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and grease muffin pans generously with shortening (I've used both Crisco and Spectrum).

In a large bowl combine the eggs, agave, oil, and canned pumpkin with a hand-held mixer until smooth and "emulsified" (meaning there should not be a skim of oil on top, but the oil should be completely incorporated). In a medium bowl, combine the flours, baking powder, baking soda and all the spices. Dump the dry ingredients into the pumpkin mixture; mix together thoroughly, scraping down the sides of the bowl frequently.

Spoon muffin batter into greased muffin pans. Bake at 350 for approximately 21 - 23 minutes, depending on your oven. Allow the muffins to cool in the pans for 10 - 15 minutes, then remove them to wire racks to finish cooling.

Addendum 11/19/09:
NOTE: the muffins will be very fragile just out of the oven, and will feel overly moist, even oily on the bottoms. But as they cool, they firm up and absorb the excess moisture and oil. This is likely due to the absorbent properties of the coconut flour; it allows the muffins to stay moist and delicious for days.

As I mentioned before, I made 21 muffins by filling the muffin cups about 2/3 full. If you fill yours with more batter, you will have larger (fewer) muffins and may have to bake them a bit longer.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Slowly going grain and sugar free

Why grain free? Well, the basis of many "healing diets" out there is the premise that you must rid your diet of all sugars and everything that turns to sugar in the body....of course that includes grains, alcohol, starchy veggies like potatoes and sweet potatoes, etc. Some of the diets I refer to are the Banting Diet (the original low carb diet), the Paleo Diet, the Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD), the Maximized Living "Healing Diet", etc. Some of these diets allow dairy foods, others do not.

The idea sounds reasonable, and as an old hand at low carb diets, I'm willing to give it a shot. The basic gluten free diet has definitely helped me immensely, but apparently my body has sustained too much damage to heal just by going gluten free. So I'm going to be grain free and sugar free. Eventually.

I'm working on it, but I'm not there yet. :)

A very basic grain free dinner is broiled steak with sauteed garlic and mushrooms plus a green salad with a low carb gluten free dressing (preferably homemade). We've been eating a lot of meals like this lately....they're quick and easy.

I know, I didn't post a menu plan last week. I've been dealing with my newly diagnosed lupus and other issues, and simply didn't have much of a plan.

Last night we had oven "fried" chicken, which (in the grain free world) is chicken breaded with almond flour and baked in the oven.

Oven Fried Chicken:

Ingredients:

2 C almond flour (I used Bob's Red Mill because it's a bit chunky - good texture for breading)
1 C Parmesan Cheese, grated
2-3 tsp Old Bay Seasoning (to taste)
1 T garlic powder
2 tsp Herbes de Provence (or Italian Herb Mix)
4 eggs
3 - 3 1/2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 T each butter and olive oil for pan

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Put butter and olive oil in baking pan (should be large enough to accomodate all of the chicken in a single layer, leaving a bit of space between pieces if possible), and place the pan on a rack in the center of the oven. You want the pan and oil-butter mixture to be hot when the chicken goes in.

Mix all dry ingredients in a pie pan; beat the eggs in a separate pie pan. Immerse each chicken breast in the beaten eggs, coating well. Next, dredge the chicken in the almond flour mixture, pressing it in with your fingers....make sure each piece is well covered. Remove the hot baking pan from the oven and place the chicken pieces in the olive oil-butter mixture. Try to separate the chicken pieces from each other in the pan if possible.

Bake for about 20 minutes, then turn the chicken and bake for another 20 - 25 minutes depending on the size and thickness of your chicken breasts.

Enjoy!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Gluten Free Menu Plan - Week of October 26th

Hi there; yes, I have a menu (of sorts) to present. I say "of sorts" because these are my thoughts at the moment.....and these are the dinners for which I have all the ingredients. :)

My life is a bit turbulent right now; I don't feel well, being in the midst of a lupus flare. I'm having other symptoms which are almost certainly NOT lupus (but I don't really want to know what's causing them....not just yet). This makes it difficult to know what I might be able to make on any given day. If I'm having a good day, I can make the Beef Enchiladas, which are a bit work-intensive. If not, well.....I'll make the Crockpot Beef in Pomegranate Sauce.

So here are the dinners I have in mind for this week, but I don't know which day I will make what, nor do I know for certain I will actually be able to make all of them. Note that both Eggplant Parmesan and Kay's Fish Pie are in the list again, because I didn't actually make the Eggplant Parm last week, and my DH requested Fish Pie again this week, even though we had it less than two weeks ago:

Crockpot Beef in Pomegranate Sauce

Eggplant Parmesan

White Chicken Chili

Kay's Fish Pie

Beef Enchiladas with grain-free "tortillas"
(I will post the recipe in the very near future)

Breakfast Quiche, Elana's Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins

So what do I do if I feel REALLY bad one night and can't make any of these, you ask? Some of my "go-to" meals in that case involve super-easy quick meals or even meals involving boxes and cans (gluten free but with other grains, in most cases):

Scrambled eggs, bacon, homemade biscuits
Mrs. Leeper's Tuna Casserole, salad
Hot dogs and baked beans, salad
Hot dogs and Trader Joe's Macaroni and Cheese

OR.....in case of a real disaster (if I'm in bed or something), my DH can go out and get gluten free take out; Garlic Jim's gf pizza, or Old Spaghetti Factory's gf Baked Chicken and Pasta, or even a gf roasted chicken or two from Costco.

Well, sometimes we do that even if I'm NOT in bed! :)

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Comment on gluten-free baked goods

Just an FYI....for any of you who are new to gluten-free baking: 90% of gluten-free baked goods are best eaten as soon as they are out of the oven and cool enough so that you won't burn your mouth.

OK, they're good for the first day....at least the first several hours.

But by the second day, there is a definite tendency for breads and biscuits, etc., to be dryer and less tasty. Re-heating does help, particularly with bread, which can be toasted and restored to a semblance of the "first day" taste.

I say 90% because there are a few exceptions to this rule, notably Elana's Chocolate Chip Brownies, which we actually left out on the counter, uncovered, for more than two days. They stayed moist and luscious for the entire time....amazing!!

You should really try that recipe!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

More fun with grain free baking! (dairy-free too!)


As mentioned in the previous post, I'm experimenting with coconut and almond flours, attempting to replace all of the other gluten-free flours that I've become accustomed to using. Here is a very nice drop biscuit recipe (casein-free cousin to the garlic cheese biscuits) which uses both almond and coconut flours, as well as a bit of flax meal; my husband says they taste very much like Bisquick biscuits, only better.

I like the flavor and the texture of the almond-coconut flour combo.....I will continue to experiment! :)

Ingredients:
(updated 10/26/09 and again on 11/26/09)

4 eggs
1/4 C coconut oil, melted
1/4 tsp salt
1/3 C coconut flour
1/4 C almond flour**
1 1/2 T flax meal
1/2 tsp baking powder
1-2 T agave syrup (optional)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs and coconut oil (and agave if using) thoroughly. Combine the salt, coconut and almond flours, flax meal and baking powder in a separate bowl, then stir into the egg-oil mixture, blending well.

Drop by spoonfuls onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for approximately 16-20 minutes (start checking them around 16 minutes), until beginning to develop golden-brown spots on tops. Makes 8 biscuits.

**Note: I am following Elana Amsterdam's suggestion and using ONLY finely ground blanched almond flour. Some almond flours on the market simply are not fine enough to give a good texture to baked goods. For example, Bob's Red Mill Almond Flour just doesn't work. The flour that I'm currently using is Honeyville's Blanched Almond Flour.

Another recipe I made recently was Elana's Chocolate Chip Brownies; I followed her recipe exactly, so you can click on the link above as I don't plan to publish her recipe here. :)



My family LOVED them! As you can see from the pictures, they look like luscious and decadent chocolate treats....but they are actually very healthy compared to most brownies out there.

Grain-Less Garlic Cheese Biscuits


I have been experimenting with coconut and almond flours lately, and have been trying to see if combining them makes any sense. Here is one recipe that turned out well; my family loved them!

Ingredients:

4 eggs
1/4 C coconut oil, melted
1/4 tsp salt
1 T garlic powder
1/3 C coconut flour
2 tsp flax meal
2 tsp almond flour**
1/4 tsp baking powder
1 C grated sharp cheddar cheese

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs and coconut oil thoroughly. Combine the salt, garlic powder, coconut and almond flours, flax meal and baking powder in a separate bowl, then stir into the egg-oil mixture, blending well. Add approximately 3/4 of the grated cheese, reserving a little for the tops of the biscuits.

Drop by spoonfuls onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper; top with reserved cheese. Bake for approximately 20 minutes, until beginning to develop golden-brown spots on tops. Makes 8 biscuits.

**Note: I am following Elana Amsterdam's suggestion and using ONLY finely ground blanched almond flour. Some almond flours on the market simply are not fine enough to give a good texture to baked goods. For example, Bob's Red Mill Almond Flour just doesn't work. The flour that I'm currently using is Honeyville's Blanched Almond Flour.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Gluten Free Menu Plan - Week of October 19th

Yep, late again...sorry about that! Still trying to stay grain free though!

I've been dealing with a number of my own health issues lately, which have managed to complicate my life at work, of course. So I haven't been blogging much lately. :(

In any case, here is the menu for this week:

Monday: Eggplant Parmesan, green salad

Tuesday: Swiss Mushroom Omelettes, bacon, fruit

Wednesday: Salmon Croquettes (grain free version), green salad

Thursday: Crockpot Chicken and Dumplings (grain free version), steamed broccoli

Friday: Meatloaf (grain free version), mashed cauliflower "faux-tatoes", green beans w/ fresh dill

Saturday: leftovers

Sunday: Tilapia sauteed with mushrooms, garlic and white wine, green salad, Elana's chocolate chip cookies for dessert (from her cookbook).

Monday, October 12, 2009

Gluten Free Menu Plan - Week of October 12th


Here is the menu plan for this week; we'll see if I can follow it or not! :) It is basically grain-free; no rice or quinoa or any other gluten free grains. I'm trying to use only coconut and almond flour now, and Bruce Fife and Elana Amsterdam are my new gurus! The recipes with the asterisks (*) may be found in Elana's cookbook.

Cheryl at Gluten Free Goodness is hosting the Gluten-Free Menu Swap this week. Please check her blog for more wonderful gluten free menu plans!

Monday: Crockpot Chili, green salad

Tuesday: Roasted chicken, steamed broccoli, Elana's Pear Crisp* for dessert

Wednesday: Scrambled eggs, bacon, Elana's Almond Flour Drop Biscuits*, mixed fruit

Thursday: Broiled Steak with garlic and mushrooms in a red wine reduction, green salad

Friday: Grain free Pizza, green salad

Saturday: Leftovers

Sunday: Kay's Fish Pie, gluten free brownies for dessert

Friday, October 9, 2009

Fabulous Gluten Free, Grain Free Pizza!


I'm still exploring the low-carb/grain free diet (which is a lot more restrictive than the gluten free diet!). I fully intend to start posting my menu plans again very soon, but since DH and I are in the process of transitioning to the grain free lifestyle, I haven't been terribly organized....yet. :)

Anyway, the other day I ran across a great recipe for pizza crust that used just cheese, eggs, coconut flour, flax meal, and baking powder! Of course, this will not work for those of you who are casein free, unless rice cheese or some other substitute can be used in the crust.

Here are a few pictures I took as I assembled the pizza:


First sauce and parmesan on the baked crust....next mozzerella, veggies, chicken meatballs, and pepperoni.


This last picture was taken after the pizza was completely cooked and ready to serve; it shows a cross-section of the crust (easiest to see if you blow it up by clicking on the image) so that you can see what the texture is like.


Bottom line: this is the BEST!!! My husband told me the first time I made it that it was the best pizza I had ever made.....and he is a true pizza fanatic!

Grain free pizza crust
(based on the recipe from the Tropical Traditions website):

Ingredients:

4 cups whole milk organic mozzarella cheese, shredded
4 large organic eggs
1/4 C flax meal
1/4 C coconut flour
1 teaspoon baking powder

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Cut 1 piece of parchment paper out for baking sheet.

Mix cheese, eggs, flax, coconut flour, and baking powder together until a sticky wet dough is formed. Spread with a spatula to 1/4 inch thickness on a baking sheet lined with one piece of parchment paper.

Bake for 22 minutes in preheated oven.

Remove from oven. Top with sauce, pre-cooked veggies or meats, and cheese. Return to oven for approximately 5 minutes to bake at 350, then put crust with toppings under the broiler on high for a minute (or less) until cheese is melted and bubbly. Slice and serve.

Notes on the changes I made: the original recipe served 2-4 (about one medium round pizza). I doubled the recipe to make a rectangular pizza in my 15 x 10 jelly roll pan so we would have plenty of leftovers. The original recipe calls for turning over the pizza crust half way through the baking process; I didn't find that to be necessary. The original recipe said to bake for 30 minutes total....my crust was too brown by 25 minutes the first time I tried it.

ENJOY!!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Should YOU be gluten free?

OK everyone....time to talk a bit more about autoimmune diseases in general and celiac disease in particular. Of course, I've posted on this topic before, but now that I've been (almost) diagnosed with lupus, I've been thinking hard about all of my health issues and how they intertwine....and also about this gluten-free journey I've been on since last November.

So now I want to have a chat with you.

Of course, because of the lupus thing, I've been very discouraged and depressed for several days now, but I'm starting to pull out of it. Hey, I suppose things could be a lot worse, right?

One thing that's been really bothering me is that I thought the gluten-free diet would help me more quickly with all of my autoimmune diseases and associated problems like fibromyalgia. And now I have a NEW diagnosis (well, almost). So what's up with that???

But I have to face reality and realize that, if I do have lupus, I've almost certainly had it for quite a while, and just now noticed it during a flare-up. Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) has a lot of symptoms that overlap with many of my other medical conditions, including celiac disease and fibromyalgia. It usually takes people years to be diagnosed; it's not reasonable for me to think that I just woke up with lupus two weeks ago out of the blue.

So, now let's talk about how in the world I got to this place....how did I develop SO FRIGGIN' MANY AUTOIMMUNE DISEASES?? Just in case you don't know, I have Hashimoto's thyroiditis (autoimmune thyroid disease), psoriasis (autoimmune skin disease), rheumatoid arthritis, celiac disease, autoimmune hepatitis plus asthma and fibromyalgia. Asthma and fibro aren't technically considered to be autoimmune but they are certainly closely associated with autoimmune diseases.

BTW, I thought I might have Sjogren's Syndrome too (another autoimmune disease) but apparently not! Which is good news!! :)

And now I may (probably do) have SLE.

Celiac disease is almost certainly to blame for all of these.

Why do I say that?

As I've mentioned before, researchers have discovered that during active celiac disease, an overabundance of a cytokine called zonulin is released. Cytokines are in a category of "signaling molecules" that are used to help communicate and coordinate activities between cells.

Zonulin regulates the permeability of the intestine, which means that when the levels of zonulin are too high, as in celiac disease, it literally causes the intestine to "leak". (Ewww!!)

Foreign substances such as gluten and other allergens can get from the intestines into the bloodstream during periods of excess zonulin, and this apparently can cause the immune system to go into high gear and even become confused as it begins to attack the foreign invaders. Eventually it's so confused it starts to attack vital organs instead, and *boom*, you have an autoimmune disease!

Well, so I have another diagnosis. I'm still committed to the gluten free diet, now more than ever!

I truly believe that if I had known I had celiac disease 30 years ago, and had been on the gluten free diet ever since, I would not have developed most of my current autoimmune diseases. But I wasn't diagnosed with celiac until I was 52! :(

(30 years ago I was told I had IBS.....yeah, right!)

Some researchers believe that even if you've begun to have organ-specific auto-antibodies circulating in your bloodstream (for example, my daughter Robin has the Hashimoto's anti-thyroid antibodies although her thyroid is not yet damaged), if you go gluten free you may reduce or eliminate those auto-antibodies.

So I'm posting this in the hope that I might make a difference to someone else somewhere in the world....if you or any members of your family suffer from an autoimmune disease and/or any of the diseases and disorders listed below (particularly if you have more than a couple of these!), you should seriously consider going gluten free too!

A List of Diseases/Disorders Probably Associated With Celiac Disease:

* Addison's Disease
* Alopecia
* Anxiety and Depression
* Ataxia
* Attention Deficit Disorder/ADHD
* Autism
* Autoimmune hepatitis/Chronic Active Hepatitis
* Bird Fancier's Lung
* White-Matter Lesions of the Brain
* Cerebellar atrophy
* Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
* Crohns Disease
* Congenital Heart Disease
* Cystic Fibrosis
* Dental-enamel hypoplasia
* Dyspepsia
* Epilepsy (with or without cerebral calcification)
* Farmer's Lung
* Fibromyalgia
* Fibrosing Alveolitis
* Follicular Keratosis
* Gall Bladder Disease
* Gastroparesis
* Head Aches (Migraine)
* IBD - Irritable bowel Disease
* Impotency
* Infertility
* Inflammatory Bowel Disease
* Lung Cavities
* Multiple sclerosis
* Myasthenia Gravis
* Pancreatic Disorders/Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency
* Peripheral neuropathy
* Polymyositis
* Polyneuropathy
* Primary biliary cirrhosis
* Pulmonary Hemosiderosis
* Recurrent Pericarditis
* Sarcoidosis
* Schizophrenia/Mental Problems
* Scleroderma
* Short Stature, Delayed Puberty
* Small-intestinal Adenocarcinomas
* Spontaneous Abortion and Fetal Growth Retardation
* Systemic Lupus Erythematosus
* Thrombocytosis (Hyposplenism)
* Thrombocytopenic Purpura (ITP)
* Thyrotoxicosis
* Vasculitis
* Vitamin K Deficiency

A List of Diseases/Disorders Definitely Associated With Celiac Disease:

* Abdominal Distention
* Abdominal Pain, Steatorrhea
* Anemia - Folate-Deficiency/Iron Deficiency/Pernicious
* Arthralgia or Arthropathy
* Arthritis - Rheumatoid
* Carcinoma of the Oropharynx, Esophagus, and Small bowel
* Collagenous Sprue
* Dermatitis Herpetiformis
* Diabetes (Type 1)
* Diarrhea
* Down Syndrome
* Enteropathy-Associated T-cell Lymphoma
* Failure to Thrive (children)
* Hypertransaminasemia
* IBS - irritable bowel syndrome
* IgA Deficiency
* IgA Nephropathy
* Kidney Disease
* Liver Disease
* Microscopic colitis/Collagenous Colitis
* Nerve Disease
* osteomalacia, osteoporosis and osteopenia
* Recurrent Aphthous Stomatitis, Recurrent
* Refractory Sprue
* Sjogrens Syndrome
* Thyroid Disease (autoimmune)
* Ulcerative Jejunoileitis

Note: these lists came from this website.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

True confessions.....

Well, no menu plan for this week. Sorry about that, but I have been under the weather lately.

I share my health info here because it's pertinent to the topic of this blog....the reason I'm gluten free is not just because of my celiac disease, but also in the hope that ALL of my autoimmune diseases and associated disorders will improve or go into remission. According to many of the forum members at celiac.com, this is definitely possible.

But I'm a bit discouraged at the moment.

My rheumatologist did some blood work recently which showed a high level of anti-double-stranded DNA antibodies. He told me that it was one of the indicators for lupus, but that he didn't think I had lupus. Which was good news, of course!

However, a few nights ago I showed up with a blazing red malar rash (the so-called "butterfly" rash):


I emailed a picture of it to my doctor, who said to come see him as soon as possible. He's doing more bloodwork on me, but in the meantime has started me on Plaquenil, which was originally an anti-malarial medication, but is now frequently prescribed for lupus.

How can I be developing lupus now?? It really blows my mind that my immune system can be going haywire like that when I'm on so much Imuran and prednisone!! Those meds are supposed to suppress the immune system!

Plus I'm on the gluten free diet, and that's supposed to help, too.....?

Well, speaking of the diet, I've been so exhausted and feeling so bad lately it's been difficult to cook. My husband has made a few dinners of Trader Joe's gluten free mini tacos, and we've eaten a lot of Garlic Jim's gluten free pizza.

I actually only made about half the dinners last week that I planned to. In fact, today I'm making the Crockpot Orange Chicken....I'll post a bit later on how it comes out!

More soon....

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Gluten Free Menu Plan - Week of September 14th

I'm late again..... :(

Better late than never, though!

Monday: Crockpot Obama Family Chili, green salad

Tuesday: Crockpot Orange Chicken, rice, steamed broccoli

Wednesday: Easy Fish Tacos, green salad

Thursday: Elana's Savory Vegetable Quiche

Friday: Beef Enchiladas with Homemade Gluten Free Sauce, green salad

Saturday: leftovers

Sunday: Garlic Jim's Gluten Free Pizza!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Gluten Free Menu Plan - Week of September 7th

I've been gone for a while due to vacation and then recovery from vacation....but now I'm back! :)

Sorry this is a bit late....yesterday was a holiday here in the USA, so I made baby back ribs in the Crockpot. Yum!!

Monday: Crockpot Baby Back Ribs with Homemade GF BBQ Sauce (version 2), garlic mashed potatoes, green salad

Tuesday: Tuna Casserole, green salad

Wednesday: Crockpot Brown Sugar Chicken, rice, steamed broccoli

Thursday: Polenta Lasagna, gluten free Italian bread, green salad

Friday: Juicy Lucy Cheeseburgers on Liz's GF Microwave Buns, Oven Fries, carrot and celery sticks

Saturday: leftovers

Sunday: Gluten Free Pizza (Pepperoni, ham, sausage, red and green bell peppers, mushrooms, carmelized onions, and LOTS of cheese!), green salad

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Staying Gluten Free While Traveling


Traveling, staying at hotels, eating out, and staying gluten free while doing it...shall we say it requires a bit of planning ahead?

You betcha!! At least it does if you're both paranoid and a super-sensitive celiac! :)

This is my topic today because I just went on vacation with my family for the first time since going gluten free.....wow. We returned about a week ago from a trip to Oregon to visit my mom, who celebrated her 83rd birthday on September 1st:


That's a gluten free cake in front of my mother, by the way, made with the new Betty Crocker Gluten Free Yellow Cake mix (two boxes, actually, because each box only makes one layer).

My mom's been a knockout all her life....and has hardly changed since age 16! :)

Happy Birthday, Mom!!

Aside from how cute my mom was at 16, and still is at 83, the really astonishing thing is that none of us were glutened during our vacation!! I'm SO glad I did take time to plan, and call restaurants, and talk to managers...well, let me tell you the whole story from the beginning.

Before we started our trip, I sat in front of my laptop for hours, tracing and re-tracing our probable routes and looking for safe places for four gluten-intolerant people to eat. I also purchased the complete set of Triumph Dining Cards, which has information for cooks, chefs, waitresses, etc., printed in multiple languages for many many different types of restaurants from American cuisine to Greek to Mexican to French....well, you get the idea.

On the way up, we planned to see my adult son Stephen, wife Ashley, and adorable son Cian, who will be two years old in January. They live about half way up to Oregon from my house, on the loooooooooong drive north from Southern California. I hadn't seen them in quite a while, so we just had to stop briefly and visit with them.

We decided to stop overnight in Modesto, which is about two hours from Stephen's house (they live far back in the Sierra Foothills in Calaveras County), and meet them in the morning for brunch. I found an Outback Steakhouse there in town, which of course has a gluten free dinner menu, but no obvious place to eat breakfast. In desperation I called a Denny's and found that they do actually have a pamphlet for people with allergies to help plan meals. The manager was very nice over the phone and assured me that they could work with us.

The breakfast worked out well; when we arrived I asked to speak to the Denny's manager (a different one on duty than I spoke to on the phone). She confirmed that they would do their best to accommodate and I handed her the Triumph Dining Card for American cuisine, so that the kitchen staff could read it. She started to brush it aside, saying that most of them only spoke Spanish, but I turned it over and showed her that it was in Spanish on the back.

We all ate well and had a very nice visit with my son and his family! I'll post some pics of them a bit later....still waiting for Stephen to send them! I stupidly didn't bring a camera with me to the restaurant, but they did.

The next day we continued our drive up to Oregon...


Mt. Shasta and the surrounding area is my favorite part of the trip up the 5!



As you know, I had decided our best bet was to simply rent a house for a week so we could have a full kitchen. I knew that it would be too nerve-racking to be eating out three meals a day just waiting to be glutened....not to mention expensive! As mentioned in the previous post, we were able to rent a 3-bedroom, 2-bath house the dates we wanted....it was great! Here I have to give a shout out to Tina Hughes and her beautiful home in Grants Pass. Thanks again, Tina!!

And yes, we really did bring along a couple of our own pots and pans, our toaster, and one of my Crockpots, as well as cooking utensils, etc. Even though the house came with such things already in the kitchen, we were very concerned about hidden gluten in cutting boards or pans. Also, since there are no Trader Joe's or Whole Foods Markets in Southern Oregon, we had to bring some non-perishable foods such as Pamela's Baking Mix for pancakes, and of course the Betty Crocker Gluten Free Cake Mix for my mom's cake.

In addition, we packed a couple of coolers with: two loaves of Pamela's Amazing Wheat Free bread (made in my beautiful new Zojirushi bread machine), 2 dozen gluten free banana-blueberry muffins, plus sandwiches, drinks, and gluten free snacks. I even packed bags of spices so I could make the kid's favorite chili up there in the Crockpot.

The sandwiches and blueberry muffins really helped during the drive!

OK, I know that the idea of vacation doesn't really mesh with cooking. But (as mentioned in previous post) I planned meals that wouldn't take much time, and would make lots of leftovers for lunches, etc. We did eat out a few times, mostly at McGrath's, and once had ice cream at Dairy Queen in Brookings, which is on the Oregon coast. Dairy Queen has a gluten free menu, too!

The road home posed potential problems too. Once again I was on the Internet and the phone before we left to make sure we could find places to eat (we came back a different way than we went up, down the 101). Why did we do that, you ask? Because of redwoods, rivers, and the gorgeous coast:






Well, we also ended up finding a WONDERFUL gluten free pizza at Mary's Pizza Shack in Petaluma, CA. We bought two of the pizzas on our way to the Sheraton there, and still had enough for lunch the next day.

The Sheraton in Petaluma was another incredible gluten-free experience! We stopped there for one night. The next morning was Sunday, and we wanted to eat a safe breakfast in the on-site restaurant, Tolay. I spoke to the manager and showed him a Triumph Dining Card.

He promptly asked if he could photocopy it...he said this would be helpful for his staff in the future!

Next he showed me where the restaurant wheelchair ramp was (I'm in a wheelchair) and promised to tell the hostess all about us.

By the time we were seated, both the hostess and our waitress had told us that they had read the gluten info from the Dining Card. Our waitress was AMAZING! I explained that our eggs etc. should be cooked on a part of the grill not used for wheat products such as French toast and she said she would tell the chef to use a clean pan for everything. She also told us that she washed her hands before touching our plates!!!

I just cannot praise them highly enough....needless to say we did not get sick! :)

The last half of the homeward journey was relatively uneventful, since we had plenty of food to sustain us without risking any more restaurants. We enjoyed the drive through San Francisco but it was foggy, of course!


The only thing of note is that on the date of our return (8/30/09), the Station Fire in Southern CA had burned within a few hundred yards of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, which is closely tied to the California Institute of Technology and the project I work for, and was also threatening hundreds if not thousands of homes.

This is a picture of a pyrocumulus cloud, caused by the intense firestorm:


Here is the fire itself; you can see the hot spots glowing in the dusk....


The good news is, that as of this date, the fire is now burning in a wilderness area away from homes and is over 67% contained. And JPL survived!

And of course, we made it home safe and sound and un-glutened.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Notes from Oregon

Well, I didn't expect to be able to post anything during our vacation, but here I am, posting! :)

We arrived here Sunday evening, and went to eat at McGrath's Fish House in Medford because they have a gluten free menu. Really good food, very reasonable prices!

We've rented a three-bedroom home for a week so that we can be comfortable and cook gluten free. Had to bring some of our own utensils and pots and pans to avoid being glutened; I even brought one of my Crockpots.

I'm currently making a HUGE batch of the Obama Family Chili in the Crockpot, and I plan to make Kay's Fish Pie, Kay's Pasta Gratin, and Garlic Chicken for other dinners later in the week. We may go out to Outback once as they also have a gluten free menu, but they are more expensive than McGrath's.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Gluten Free Menu Plan - Week of August 17th

OK. Time to post another menu plan. This is a short week of meals because we'll be on vacation in Oregon beginning Saturday August 22nd, and I won't post anything while we're gone. Should be back home by sometime Monday, August 31st.

I plan to cook a couple of extra meals and freeze them to take with us on the road (in a large cooler), plus I'll make extra loaves of Pamela's Amazing Wheat Free Bread to freeze and take as well. There are no Trader Joe's nor Whole Foods Markets in Southern Oregon where we're going.....scary! :(

And yes, I'm making Kay's Fish Pie again, even though we had it recently....can't resist! For anyone who loves both seafood and Shepherd's Pie, it's fantastic!

Monday: Creamy Tuscan Chicken, rice, steamed broccoli

Tuesday: Grilled Steaks, Parmesan Cottage Potatoes, green salad

Wednesday: GF Spaghetti and Meatballs (same meatballs as in Meatball Subs), green salad

Thursday: Kay's Fish Pie, green salad, GF Brownies for dessert

Friday: Grilled Tuna and Swiss Sandwiches on GF Bread, carrot and celery sticks, Trader Joe's GF Potato Chips

Saturday: on the road (vacation) - Outback Steak House (has gluten free menu)

Sunday: on the road (vacation) - ?? play it by ear

Monday, August 10, 2009

Gluten Free Menu Plan - Week of August 10th

Well, we did have the Pasta Gratin yesterday for Matthew's birthday party. Although I didn't manage to snap a picture before my family inhaled it, here is what was left after the first go-round:


We also had a gluten free birthday cake made with the new Betty Crocker's Gluten Free Yellow Cake Mix; yes, I decorated it....stop laughing!!


Well, I tried.... :)

So here is this week's menu!

Monday: Leftover Kay's Pasta Gratin (GF), green salad, leftover Betty Crocker birthday cake for dessert (yum!!)

Tuesday: Perfect (Gluten Free) Meatloaf, baked potatoes, green beans with dill

Wednesday: GF Pasta with Shrimp, steamed broccoli


Thursday: Beef Mole (resurrected from the freezer), warm corn tortillas, rice, green salad


Friday: Kay's Fish Pie (one-dish meal)

Saturday: Leftovers

Sunday: Crockpot Garlic Chicken, brown rice, green salad

Saturday, August 8, 2009

A Gluten Free Birthday Party Tomorrow

Matthew will be 4 years old on Monday, so we'll be having a small family party for him tomorrow.

I didn't manage to make Kay's wonderful Pasta Gratin yet this week (was supposed to make it on Friday) so I've decided to make it tomorrow for Matthew's birthday party dinner. Instead of the breakfast dinner listed on this week's menu.

Also, I've bought 6 boxes of the new Betty Crocker Gluten Free Yellow Cake mix from Amazon; they just arrived a couple of days ago. Each box only makes one layer or 12 cupcakes, so you have to use two boxes if you want a two-layer cake. I made a batch of 12 cupcakes last night just to try it. My husband and I were both surprised by how good the cupcakes were! I'm definitely using the cake mix for Matthew's birthday cake!

Friday, August 7, 2009

P.S.

Because of my previous post, I should probably explain why I expected to be gaining weight (or at least not losing).

As you may know, I started this blog to record my journey through the land of gluten free foods after finding out in 2008 that I have the following autoimmune disorders: rheumatoid arthritis, autoimmune hepatitis, and celiac disease. I was also diagnosed with fibromyalgia at the same time, which may or may not be an autoimmune disease itself, but is frequently associated with AI diseases.

This is in addition to the AI diseases that I already knew I had: asthma, psoriasis, and Hashimoto's thyroiditis.

Then I found out a few weeks ago that I've now developed Sjogren's Syndrome. Another AI disease!!

Well, as the links near the top will tell you (under FAQ), celiac disease apparently causes many people to develop other autoimmune diseases. Since I have celiac disease, it's not surprising I have other AI diseases. I'm on a gluten free diet in hopes that all of them will improve.

Some people have reported that their RA and fibro have gone into remission on a gf diet.

So, because of all of these nasty health issues, I'm currently on about a BAZILLION medications, and at least two of them (probably more) are known to cause weight gain: prednisone and Lyrica. The prednisone has already helped me gain more than 50 pounds in the past year! :(

My prednisone dosage was recently raised, and I started to take Lyrica about a month ago. I was warned by the doctor that it would probably cause me to gain weight.

Consequently, I am so relieved to see even the small weight loss reported in my previous post! I'm sure you understand!!

OMG!

I stepped on the scales for the first time in over two weeks, expecting to be upset by either a gain or (at the very least) staying basically the same. Instead the scale registered a six-pound loss!!

Wahoo!! :)

Ok, so why exactly have I lost weight? That is, what have I been doing differently?

Mainly I've been concentrating on protein foods/fruits/veggies for breakfast and lunch. I frequently eat cottage cheese and fruit for breakfast (a low carb fruit like berries). And I eat leftover proteins from dinner for lunch (leftover pesto chicken is great for lunch!). Salads are a good choice too!

Dinners have not been low carb in general, but apparently that's OK! I seem to be following the low carb diet made popular by Drs. Richard and Rachel Heller, who wrote the book called "The Carbohydrate Addict's Diet". The premise is that as long as you eat low carb for most of the day, you can have one hour per day during which you can eat "normal food"....in other words, pasta, pizza, even dessert. Of course, they suggest that you make the meal that you eat during this time a balanced one, with protein, starch, veggies, etc.

Frankly, I never thought this approach would work....I've always been more of an Atkins dieter myself. Now that's a REAL low carb diet!

I may end up on Atkins again eventually (when this stops working), but for now I'm enjoying having some carbs with dinner!