Sunday, March 29, 2009

Gluten Free Menu Plan For This Week

Well, DH went to Costco and Trader Joe's recently, so here is what I've come up with for this week:

Monday: Creamy Salmon Rotini, green salad

Tuesday: Crockpot Chili Verde, corn tortillas, rice, green salad

Wednesday: BBQ Chicken Pizza, baby carrots and celery sticks

Thursday: Sweet Potato Black Bean Enchiladas, steamed broccoli

Friday: Breakfast Dinner (ham, mushroom, and cheese omelettes, blueberry muffins, fresh fruit)

Saturday: leftovers

Sunday: Crockpot Chicken Parmesan, gluten-free pasta, peas with garlic and mushrooms

Thursday, March 26, 2009

How to feed a toddler who's gluten-free and/or allergic - link to a great blogsite!

I'd like to point anyone who's interested in the care and feeding of allergic/gluten free small children to my friend RissaRoo's blog, These Three Remain. Her post on this topic is extremely helpful to parents who are dealing with restricted diets and hungry little ones....please check it out!

She also has a lot of wonderful gluten free recipes and weekly menu plans as well.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

It's Wednesday Again! What's for Dinner?


We're having Shredded Beef and Black Bean Burritos for dinner with a nice green salad (baby spinach). The roast beef is leftover from a pot roast we had on Sunday, and the black beans are leftover from the beans I made in the Crockpot on Monday (see my Gluten Free Menu Plan for those and other dinner suggestions). I'm using Trader Joe's Gluten Free Brown Rice Tortillas to make the burritos tonight, but I've posted a recipe for homemade tortillas on my Recipe Archive blog. Please visit Linda, The Gluten-Free Homemaker, for more dinner ideas!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Gluten Free Menu Plan For This Week

This week I'm trying to use up what we already have in the pantry, the fridge, and the freezer (frugality is good!):

Monday: Chicken Quesadillas made with GF flour tortillas, Crockpot Black Beans, rice, green salad

Tuesday: Cheeseburgers with GF buns, Oven-baked "Fries", carrot and celery sticks

Wednesday: Shredded Beef (from Sunday's Pot Roast) and black bean burritos, green salad

Thursday: Mrs. Leeper's Tuna Casserole, peas with garlic and mushrooms

Friday: Chicken-Apple Sausages (Aidell's are GF), Parmesan Cottage Potatoes, steamed broccoli

Saturday: leftovers

Sunday: One-dish dinner: Cheesy Chicken and Rice with Broccoli

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Experimenting with gluten free yeast breads

As I mentioned before, I've been experimenting with bread recipes. I wanted to show you my latest successful loaf, which still needs tweaking. I've combined ideas from a few different breads published on the web, specifically Julie's White Bean Flour Bread, Karina's Sorghum and Millet Bread and Ginger Lemon Girl's Favorite Sandwich Bread.

Don't get me wrong, all of those are very good gluten free breads; Karina's tastes amazingly like whole wheat, but it crumbles badly after just a day or so.

I wanted a soft, flexible bread that tasted like Karina's but that held together and lasted like Julie's and GLG's.

The bread I finally came up with was soft and flexible and tasted pretty darn good!

I left it out on the counter for four days. I used it to make a sandwich to take to work on the third was still moist and flexible. I used it to make toast on the fourth day; still good. There were only 3 slices left after that and they were getting a little battered and crumble-y at that point so I froze them to make bread crumbs later.

There are two problems with my bread though: I'm using too many different flours and starches (not user friendly), and I think I need to sweeten it a little because I used GLG's trick of putting Sure Jell in the dough to make it hold together better. Sure Jell is not flavorless....I think it has some sort of acid (citric?) in it. So my bread was a tad too tangy. Some extra honey or brown sugar should take care of that, though.

So I'm still trying to perfect my bread; if I do, I'll definitely post the recipe. My husband REALLY liked the taste of the sorghum and millet flour bread (Karina's) so I want to try to duplicate that for him.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

What's for Dinner Wednesday?


I've joined a new blog carnival called "What's for Dinner Wednesday (gluten-free style)", hosted by the Gluten-Free Homemaker; tonight we have a chicken-and-mushrooms-with-pasta dinner, as you can see on the weekly menu: Chicken with Mushrooms in Sherry-Garlic Butter Sauce, gluten free pasta, green salad. If you are interested, follow the link to my Gluten Free Recipe Archive for the recipe.

I try to keep track of all gluten free recipes that my family likes in the Recipe Archive....I've only been gluten free since November, so I don't have that many recipes yet! But I'm working on it! :)

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Gluten Free Menu Plan For This Week

Wow! Another week has just flown by....

This weekend I'm experimenting with more gluten free bread recipes. If I find another good one (like Julie's), I'll definitely post it. Remember that if you want any of the recipes below, click the link to go to the Recipe Archive, except for the corned beef and cabbage recipe link, which will take you to Elise's recipe blog. She has two different corned beef and cabbage recipes to choose from in the same post.

: Salmon sauteed with Mushrooms and Balsamic Vinegar, brown rice pilaf, steamed broccoli and carrots

Tuesday: Corned beef and cabbage, gluten free Irish Soda Bread, boiled new potatoes (in honor of Lá Fhéile Pádraig)

Wednesday: Chicken with Mushrooms in Sherry-Garlic Butter Sauce, gluten free pasta, green salad

Thursday: Thai Chicken Curry in the Crockpot, brown rice

Friday: Creamy White Chicken Chili, gluten free corn muffins, green salad

Saturday: leftovers

Sunday: Classic Pot Roast with vegetables, garlic mashed potatoes

Monday, March 9, 2009

The Gluten-Autoimmune Disease Connection (or why I'm gluten free)

Warning: LONG POST

I've posted a few comments here and there about my health, but it occurs to me that it's time to post again, for the possible benefit of those who may be new to this, or just exploring the idea of going gluten free.

I just spent a significant amount of time writing a lengthy email to my cousin who lives in another state about our family history of autoimmune diseases and why everyone in our family should probably be on the gluten free diet. The pertinent part of this email is posted below (I've deleted the names of my cousin and her other family members because I haven't asked her if it's OK to post any info about her family):

Dear ****,

Thanks for your reply....I did know about Aunt ####'s TB, but I didn't realize she had diabetes too. So Aunt #### was never formally diagnosed with lupus? Actually, I've read that people with lupus are much more likely to suffer from strokes than those without lupus.

Do you mean your mother had Reynaud's syndrome? Reynaud's syndrome is frequently associated with lupus, and lupus also can cause severe kidney damage, unfortunately.

Your mother $$$$ was the person who told me that she and #### both had lupus and Hashimoto's thyroiditis. We had a nice long phone conversation several months before she passed away.

I'm trying to remember exactly how she said it....I guess it's possible that what she was telling me was her own opinion about ####'s medical problems, and not a doctor's diagnosis. We were discussing our family's tendency to develop autoimmune diseases. That phone conversation was my first clue that we were all at risk for serious medical problems, but of course I didn't realize at that time that I would develop so many more autoimmune diseases later in life!

During that same phone call Aunt $$$$ also speculated about the possibility my father might have had lupus too (undiagnosed). My dad died of congestive heart failure. It's true that lupus can attack the heart, and that those who die of complications of lupus frequently die of congestive heart failure, but I think that a lot of his health problems were more due to the fact that he smoked three packs of cigarettes a day practically his entire life. It's rarer for men to develop lupus, although it can happen.

I'm so sorry to hear about your daughters' medical problems; I have RA too, so I know what that's like! And my daughter Robin has scoliosis.

****, have any of your family members ever had stomach problems or a "sensitive" digestive system or been diagnosed with IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome)? I need to share some more info with you about our autoimmune problems.

The reason I asked about stomach problems or IBS is that we've discovered that most of our family members are doing SO much better on a gluten free diet. Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley and rye and people who have a certain autoimmune disease called celiac disease have to avoid gluten.

According to the medical articles I've been reading, there are literally millions of people who have either celiac disease or some sort of gluten intolerance who have never been diagnosed....usually doctors tell them they have IBS (that's what they told me!). People who are the most likely to have celiac disease are those like us - with a family history of autoimmune diseases.

I just wanted to tell you about it because of the research that has linked celiac disease (which is an autoimmune disease of the lining of the small intestine) to the development of other autoimmune diseases. Without going into too much detail, the current theory is that celiac disease is the first autoimmune disease that a person usually develops...frequently in infancy or childhood.

Celiac disease not easy to diagnose, because the symptoms from person to person can be very different: one person may have diarrhea while another may have chronic constipation. One person may be very thin while another may be obese. One person may have skin problems and break out all over in an itchy rash with little blisters (this is called dermatitis herpetiformis), and another may have neurological sympoms (almost like multiple sclerosis or something) such as vertigo, headaches, blurry vision, hand tremors and difficulty speaking and walking. And many people have no symptoms at all, which is called "silent" celiac disease. Since celiac disease interferes with the absorption of vitamins and minerals, celiacs frequently have vitamin deficiencies and problems like osteopenia or osteoporosis.

In any case, the only treatment for celiac disease is to avoid gluten. If left untreated, current research says that celiac disease literally causes the intestines to start "leaking" foreign material (like gluten, or viruses or bacteria) into the bloodstream. Your body reacts to these foreign invaders by kicking the immune system into high gear, so to speak. The immune system begins by attacking the invaders but can become confused and start attacking your organs, like the thyroid, liver, heart, kidneys, even the brain....this is essentially how celiac disease creates the conditions that lead to the development of other autoimmune diseases.

All of this makes so much sense to me....I remember having gastrointestinal problems my whole life, so I've probably had celiac disease since I was a kid. And I developed asthma, psoriasis, and Hashimoto's thyroiditis by the time I was in my twenties, and then recently (I'm 53) I've been diagnosed with autoimmune hepatitis, rheumatoid arthritis, and fibromyalgia.

I don't know if you've ever heard any of this before, and I'm definitely NOT trying to tell you what you or your family should be doing, but I wanted to share what we've learned and how we've been dealing with our medical problems.

I'm feeling better and my adopted daughter Emma (my biological grandbaby) has had her eczema clear up completely after just a few weeks without gluten.....I've only been gluten free since November 25, 2008 and Emma since January of this year.

My daughter Cheryl (who has lupus) is also feeling much better gluten free, and Robin and her whole family are on the gluten free diet because her daughter Carly has been diagnosed with celiac disease. I told Robin that her level of thyroid antibodies could go down if she was gluten free, according to the latest research; so the diet could actually save her thyroid from being damaged. Robin has the Hashimoto's antibodies in her bloodstream but her thyroid hasn't been seriously injured yet.

Of course we continue to see doctors and take the medicines that they prescribe for us; I see my hepatologist, rheumatologist, gastroenterologist, neurologist, and my primary care physician, but they have ALL encouraged me to go gluten free....they too believe it's the way to go for people with autoimmune diseases.

Plus I have a friend who has rheumatoid arthritis who is gluten free and her RA went into remission on the diet! She doesn't need to take medication anymore....which is very exciting! I have heard that it can take a year or two for RA and fibromyalgia to go into remission on the gluten free diet, so I have to be patient.

I should warn you that the blood tests and biopsy for celiac disease frequently give negative results, even when the person being tested does have celiac disease. The best way to tell if you have a problem with gluten is to stop eating it for a few weeks, then try eating gluten again. If you feel better without gluten and then have a bad reaction when you try it again....well, then you know (unless you are one of those people with silent celiac).

We just discovered, completely by accident, that my husband Paul has a gluten problem. We had absolutely no idea that he was gluten sensitive before this. Since I put the entire family on a gluten free diet, he hadn't had any gluten for several weeks before Superbowl weekend. Anyway, he decided to buy a six-pack of beer for that weekend, and he finished it by drinking one or two bottles per day for a few days. Beer is made with barley, so it has gluten in it and celiacs can't drink it (they do make gluten free beer, by the way, but Paul didn't know he had a problem).

A few days after drinking the beer, Paul broke out all over in the nastiest painful itchy rash which his doctor diagnosed as psoriasis but to me looks more like dermatitis herpetiformis (the celiac-related blistery rash). It's been slowly getting better but we ate some take-out food a few days ago that was supposedly gluten free but must have been contaminated by small amounts of gluten because I developed headaches, vertigo and diarrhea (always a sure sign that I've accidently eaten something with gluten in it) and Paul's rash started to flare up again. So now we're sure that he should completely avoid gluten.

Just to let you know, the gluten free diet seems very hard at first...but it's really not that bad. People hate the thought of giving up wheat breads and pastas, etc, but the nice thing is that Whole Foods Market sells all kinds of gluten free foods like rice pastas which taste very good, and I've learned to make wonderful gluten free bread. I think now I can make almost anything gluten free, so we don't feel deprived. And many foods are naturally gluten free anyway: meats, poultry, eggs, fish, vegetables, a steak, baked potato, and green salad can be an easy gluten free meal (no croutons on the salad and use gluten free dressing). Also, we love Mexican food, and corn chips and corn tortillas are usually gluten free (we read the labels though).

The hardest part is going through your kitchen and throwing away gluten foods and then scrubbing the cupboards and buying new cookie sheets, cutting boards, wooden spoons, plastic containers, toaster, etc., etc. Anything that could have the smallest amount of gluten hiding in a crack, crevice or scratch has to be replaced. Also, shampoos, soaps, and even medications can have hidden gluten in them; you have to research it on the Internet but luckily there are people who are way ahead of us who have already done most of the work...if you decide you want to know more about it, please check out the forum on

It's a great place to ask questions and find out more about being gluten free.

Well, this email is now WAY too long! I apologize for being so verbose, and rattling on and on, but I really wanted to share this with you. I hope you don't mind! :)

Well, take care.....I hope to hear from you again soon!

Your cousin,

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Gluten Free Menu Plan For This Week

Here we go....this week may be a bit calmer for me than last week. At least I hope so!

Monday: Homemade Chicken Soup, gluten free french rolls

Tuesday: Gluten Free Pasta with Shrimp, green salad

Wednesday: Steak, Scalloped Potatoes, green beans with dill

Thursday: Chicken and black bean tostadas, green salad

Friday: Gluten Free Orange Chicken, rice, steamed broccoli

Saturday: leftovers

Sunday: Cheese-stuffed Meatloaf, baked potatoes, grilled asparagus

Thursday, March 5, 2009


As I've mentioned before, I recently decided that our entire household would have to be gluten free after I was accidentally glutened several times by crumbs. My husband didn't really mind because I've been doing my best to come up with nice meals, including dinners with gluten free pasta and pizza, plus I've made bread and muffins, etc.

One thing we noticed was that Emma's eczema cleared up after just a few weeks on the diet. So she definitely has a gluten sensitivity, if not full blown celiac disease.

We had assumed all along that my husband had no problems with gluten until recently, when (during Superbowl Sunday and for a few days afterwards) he consumed some products containing gluten for the first time since we had gone gluten free. He ended up with a horrible skin condition/rash all over the place that the dermatologist has diagnosed as psoriasis. I've looked at pictures of psoriasis and pictures of dermatitis herpetiformis (aka DH) from the Internet and I think it looks more like DH. DH is associated with celiac disease, and if someone is diagnosed with DH, that automatically means that he or she also has celiac disease. There are a couple of spots that look like blisters had formed and popped....that would definitely indicate DH, not psoriasis.

But whether it's psoriasis or DH doesn't really matter, because the gluten-free diet is recommended for both.

This was an unexpected thing....really a big surprise to us, but I'm so glad we found out that he's gluten sensitive and/or celiac too, because undiagnosed celiac disease is very can lead to cancer.

So don't feel bad about putting your family members on the gluten free diet. It may even save them from medical problems in the future.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Gluten Free Menu Plan For This Week

I'm posting this a day late because over the weekend we had an emergency at my work, so I had to work on Sunday; yesterday (Monday) was also insane. I work for a NASA mission and the spacecraft was in standby mode and I had to help get it back to normal. I'm exhausted!!!

I will follow my own advice and use at least one of my containers of frozen leftovers this week, just to give myself a break!

Monday: Fish Tacos, mixed veggies

Tuesday: Crockpot Beef Mole (leftovers from the freezer), corn tortillas, green salad

Wednesday: Broiled lamb chops, mashed potatoes, peas with garlic and mushrooms

Thursday: Crockpot Chicken Parmesan, gluten free pasta, green salad

Friday: Gluten free pizza (pepperoni, ham, and shrimp, plus lots of veggies!)

Saturday: leftovers

Sunday: Crockpot Honey Lentils, brown rice, steamed broccoli