Monday, November 29, 2010

Gluten Free Turkey Stuffing- Pinch me, I must be dreaming!

For starters- my fellow celiac-ers... can I get a WOOOO HOOOOOO!?!  No Longer will we sit and stare longingly at other people's plates on the holidays! 

My genius Mother-in-law (or as I like to say, Mother-in-lucky) had the brilliant idea this year of subbing her normal Turkey Stuffing with a Gluten Free Stuffing.... she left it to me to assemble the g-free ingredients, while she re-thought her traditional recipe, and together we made Thanksgiving Miracles come true!

This Stuffing taste just like Grandma's! It's so wonderful that I felt guilty eating it... not because of how much I ate (which is what I should feel bad about)... but from it being so good, you'd think it had been made of nothing but gluten! 

Step 1- Getcha Cornbread Ready

Super Easy and Delicious Gluten Free Cornbread from Scratch (via the back of the Lamb's Package, which is the local brand I use
This recipe makes 1- 8x8 square or 9" cake pan- 
  • 1 Cup Lamb's Stone Ground Yellow Corn Meal (or your favorite corn meal)
  • 1 Cup White Rice Flour
  • 1 tsp of Salt
  • 1/2 Cup Vegetable Oil
  • 2 tsp of Baking Soda (I didn't have any so I used 6 tsp of Baking Powder) via
  • 1 Cup Milk (or your lactose free alternative)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Pour all ingredients in a bowl and mix with a fork until blended... or use a mixer...Pour batter into a greased 8x8 dish or 9 inch cake pan and cook in oven for 30-35 minutes. Watch for the cornbread to be slightly brown, firm to the touch, and cooked all the way through. 

Step 2- Stale 'tha' Breads
Udi's Gluten Free Bread is the Secret Ingredient
  • Lay the Udi's gluten free bread out on a large pan, and set it out on the counter for at least 2 days...(I don't have the exact reasoning behind this- I just was told to make sure it "got good n'stale" and I liked the idea of a pan for doing the job).
  • Leave the cornbread out on the counter to get stale as well.
Step 3- Assemble the Ingredients 
We made a big batch (which could happily overfeed 12) so, please feel free to adjust the measurements to your needs.
  • 2 Bags of stale Udi's Gluten Free Bread- torn into small pieces (I know it sounds like a waste of such good bread)
  • 2- 9inch pans full of Stale Gluten Free Cornbread- crumbled
  • 1 Large White Onion- Diced
  • 1 Small White Onion- Diced (make sure those white onions are good and hot)
  • 1 Small Sweet Yellow Onion- Diced
  • 1 Bunch of Celery- Diced
  • (here's where things get "questionable") 3 Palms full of Gluten Free Poultry Seasoning (my guess is the equivalent of 2 1/2 tablespoons)
  • 2 Sticks of Melted Butter (more or less to taste- which can be easily subbed for a lactose free option)
  • 1 tbsp of Dried Sage (use lightly, because sage can quickly over power the stuffing... we used sage leaves dried out from my mother-in-lucky's garden)
  • 3 Cans of Gluten Free Chicken Broth (or until the mix can be molded into a small ball in the palm of your hand)
  • Esther Williams' Million Dollar Mermaid- playing in the background (Okay, you caught me- this step isn't necessary but sure does make tearing up bread a whole lot more fun! Esther Williams is my favorite)
  • Large Pan for Baking in Oven
Step 4- "Get It Done"
  • Tear the Stale Gluten Free Udi's Bread into small chunks 
  • Crumble the Cornbread over the G-free bread chunks
  • Add your diced Vegetables and Seasoning
  • Mix
  • Add the Chicken Broth
  • Stir
  • After all the ingredients are good and mixed- (stuff your bird, if you're cookin' one) and put the rest in the oven.
Preheat oven to 350 and cook until golden brown, stirring occasionally... and remember not to pack the stuffing down into the pan, fluff it up- this is good for both its ego and ensuring it cooks evenly.

This video is a quick look at how we "assembled the pieces" while making the Gluten Free  Stuffing:

I hope you enjoy this recipe!!! 

Special Thanks to:

My wonder Mother-In-Lucky Rene'e 
Udi's for making my Stuffing Dreams Come True... Share the love @ and let them know how awesome they are for being a Celiac's very own Walt Disney World!!!

As always, please feel free to ask me any questions... and share your experiences and recipes! 

Monday, November 22, 2010

Sometimes life isn't just about food, (We have) Skin Matters too!

There is a debate as to whether or not Celiac's and people with Gluten sensitivities are able to absorb the wheat protein through their skin. The argument comes from some professional who believe that the protein is  too large to be passed topically, while those who have experienced it may carry different personal opinions. 

I am not suggesting that wheat glutens in my beauty products make me sick at my stomach. Mainly because I don't willingly eat my eye shadows (I would much rather snack on a butterfinger)Lip stick seems to be the most obvious contaminator because it goes straight onto the mouth... but there is always the risk of accidentally contaminating yourself. This could be as innocent as eating chips with your fingers, that happen to be moisturized with a wheat filled lotion. Or ingesting a small amount of shampoo that might unavoidably run into your face while showering. 

When something as "simple" as wheat can reek havoc on our bodies, it is of the up most importance to take all the measure to keep ourselves safe and healthy. This can be easily accomplished by paying attention to not only what we put into our bodies, but what is in the products that we slather on them.

During my process of eliminating possible contamination issues, I finally tracked down the source of my years of itchy eczema, random rashes, scabby scalp sores and those painful break outs that popped up on my hairline, face and  back (usually just in time for a nice event). The common factor in all my products was wheat, and wheat byproducts (with all their fancy names- see below for the list). When I eliminated the source I stopped having the painful/embarrassing issues. 

I decided to throw out everything I owned because it was all breaking me out. To clarify, my "throwing out" really just means that I put it all in bags and took it around to friends and family to pick through what they wanted. Starting over was okay at first, because all I really needed to replace were the basics- like: shampoo, face soap, and tooth paste. (I have an awesome system now, which I will blog after Thanksgiving!) 

I figured I should share the products I use, 'cause buying beauty products and cosmetics online without getting to smell them, or color match skin tones first, is not my idea of a good time! Plus experimenting can end up costing a lot... which isn't always an option on our wallets when faced with the possibility of constant failures.

This is the list I use when shopping to avoid all the tricky names for Wheat found in cosmetics and beauty products: 
  • hydrolyzed malt extract
  • hydrolyzed wheat protein
  • hydrolyzed vegetable protein
  • wheat germ
  • wheat protein
  • vitamin e (another name is tocopherol, avoid unless specified as being derived from corn)
  • cyclodextrin
  • barley extract
  • fermented grain extract
  • oat (avena sativa)
  • stearyldimoniumhydroxypropyl
  • samino peptide complex
  • phytosphingosine extract
  • triticum vulgare
  • dextrin
  • dextrin palmitate
  • maltodextrin
  • secale cereale
  • sodium C8-16 Isoalkylsuccinyl Wheat Protien Sulfonate
  • yeast extract
  • anything with the wheat name 
Copy paste the list into a word document, print it off, and carry it in your wallet. It is great to use when shopping for a new product. Be prepare to spend sometime looking at labels though! 

For shampoo and conditioner I love Nature's Gate Herbal Daily Shampoo, and Conditioner. (I buy this at Whole Foods). Check out their website for more info:
Nature's Gate Herbal Shampoo
Nature's Gate Herbal Daily Conditioner

For me, finding safe makeup was a wonderful treat... I think my soul sang that day... so much that I need to share a story:

There are gluten free make up brands online, as well as, X product that Y company sells that So-and-So heard about through Whatever it was... but while researching those companies, I found they ended up way out of my price range. I am talking 35+some odd dollars just for mascara... then shipping fees! 

With so much disappointment and the added lack of understanding/support on such a costly "investment" from my husband... who felt $300+ on makeup was a total waste of our money. (In his defense, his feelings were fair, because we were in the process of replacing everything in our house from food to shampoo). 
I felt destined to be "that plain girl, who eats gluten free". I had foreshadowed that for the rest of my life, I would look like old pictures of hard working farmer's wives during the depression... I was mentally struggling to accept the "Plain Jamie" when I ran into a huge problem.
I was asked to be in my best friend's wedding... standing next to all her beautiful friends and her gorgeous self, while lookin' like I'd rolled off of a farm in the 1920's and slapped on a bridesmaid dress. I couldn't ruin her wedding pictures that way! No one wants to look back at their memories and say, "Sure, she is my friend... but what was I thinking asking 'J-MEShort&Homely' to stand that close?".

I needed makeup... 

So, After a very long day of reading the back of every cosmetic at Target with a list of  "No, No" ingredients in my hand, I finally found my jewel! I even called the manufacture and the rep I spoke with was so sweet, she went through all their products with me! It was amazing! So, from when I called in June 2010, the Boots Botanics line was confirmed to be gluten free. The No.7 had a few items in their line that contained gluten, so instead of remembering which ones, I decided to stay away from all No.7's line

How did the wedding you ask? It was beautiful, she looked amazingly gorgeous and I got to wear makeup! Hahaha! It was a good day! Best parts of Boots Botanics, (beyond being wheat/gluten free) it is all really affordable, and I can run to target to see the products before I buy them- which means, no online guessing game!
Boots Botanics Foundation
Boots Botanics Lip Gloss
Boots Botanics Mascara

For face soap I use Clean and Clean's Sensitive Skin Foaming Cleaner, which I found matches Purpose's Sensitive Skin Foaming Cleaners with the same ingredients and manufacturer. Only with one "clear" difference, the price- Clean and Clear is cheaper. (Good to find out because I had been buying Purpose- both of which I have found at pretty much any store). 

Toothpaste: Colgate (any one), I hear that Toms of Maine is gluten free as well, if you want a more natural option. 

D.O. for the B.O.- well, I am a really stinky, greasy, part Italian girl, that sweats like a over weight mule trying to go up hill in the dessert. A lot. So, I use Burt's Bees Herbal Deodorant , and it works great for me. (I buy it at Whole Foods)
Burt's Bees Herbal Deodorant

I haven't found a body wash that I'm happy with just yet- so I am curious what brands you have tried and love... And always remember to check the ingredients list because production changes for companies all the time.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Eating Gluten Free- If you don't have Celiac but want the health benefits

My Husband started eating gluten free out of respect and understanding for me... mainly so his kisses would be safe. However, after taking a work health assessment test, the assessors asked him if he was on any cholesterol lowering medication, and commented on his ridiculously good blood pressure. His response, "Nope no meds, I just eat gluten free". 

I wrote this up for my Dad who is having some issues in the high cholesterol and blood pressure areas, and made him up a modified g-free food list after doing some research on dietary aid suggestions I found online. Not to alleviate medications, but in hopes to help ease the need of higher dosage. I figured I would share my information with others who wanted to try something natural as well.

Before you get shopping:

You don't have to be totally gluten free... but you need to rethink the way you eat and what you are putting into your body to make it run properly.

Manufacturers use fillers like wheat flours to make food production cheaper.  If you are filling your body up with foods that are over processed, odds are good your body is going to run like a car on cheap gas... with a check engine light always on!

“Everything is Bigger in Texas” does not need to apply to how much food you pack away at meals. Remember your stomach is only the size of your fist. Don't make your body work harder than it is made too by over filling it.

Eat smaller portions, but more frequently throughout the day. Eating around 6 times a day will keep your body properly fueled all day long, and is said to help rebuild your metabolism.

Stick to the perimeter of the the grocery store... The aisles are just full of fillers... the nutrient rich foods are around the edges. I suggest taking a "Running in the Rain" approach to the aisles. Go in for what you need, and retreat. The less time you spend there the less likely you are to make processed choices. 

Why the Gluten Free Diet works in our house:

  • For Starters, for us it isn't a diet but a lifestyle change. Remembering this will make all your choices more long term.
  • When you start to watch what ingredients you are putting in your body, you realize how much waste you are eating on a daily basis.
  • We rarely eat out... the benefits of eating in... what is cooked is made in my kitchen,  I can control the amount and types of oils used.
  • We KISS- Keep It Simple Stupid... the closer to the way God created it to look and taste, the safer it is for our bodies. Delicious and Simple meals don't have to come from a box, or the freezer section.

What Not to Buy:

Don't go crazy with the gluten free goods... a gluten free cookie is going to be just the same as a regular cookie for your body. The real difference comes from how you eat the cookie. 1 or 2 cookies a week as dessert is okay in my book... but 1 to 2 cookies a day or after every meal is maybe not the best choice for your body. Try a fruit for dessert instead.

For Me, finding a way to enjoy the process of eating fruit as much as eating ice cream was a dietary life savor. 

What you can get away with:

I don't see why eating whole grain breads or whole wheat is bad if you aren't Celiac (in which case it can have horrible side effects). If your body can digest it in a healthy way, don't cut out something that could be good for you... but like anything else, just watch how much of it is going into your body.

Wheat flours and fillers can be found in the ingredients of almost everything you buy from lunch meat to gummy bears. This is why buying less processed foods can be beneficial to how often you overload your body with one type of filler.

When you do buy something processed look for the “gluten free” stuff... by sticking with products that clearly label if they contain wheat.

Eating Gluten Free to help ease High Blood Pressure and High Cholesterol:

Top Foods to Stay Away From:
  • Soft Drinks, and Diet Sodas
  • Coffee
  • Hydrogenated Vegetable Oils
  • Bacon and other Processed Meats
  • Fried Food
  • Salt
  • Sugar and Artificial Sweeteners
Replace it with:
  • Water- Ugh I know it's boring...
  • Tea- Iced or Hot- Green Tea is Awesome for you!
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Turkey and Lean Meats (that are still shaped like the animal they came from)
  • Grilled Foods
  • Garlic and Spices (basil, black pepper, ginger)
  • Honey and/or Agave Nectar

Foods that Help Lower Blood Pressure:
  • Bananas
  • Mangoes
  • Oily Fish
  • Garlic
  • Grapes
  • Asparagus
  • Celery
  • Prunes
Foods that Help Lower Cholesterol:
  • Fruits- Apples, Citrus
  • Olives
  • Nuts- almond, soy, walnut, pecans, hazelnuts, peanuts, pine nuts, pistachios
  • Lean Meats- Turkey, Chicken
  • Beans
  • Salad (use nuts instead of croutons and cheese)
  • Fish High in Omega 3's- Salmon, Trout, Tuna
  • Olive Oil and Canola Oil
  • Peas, and Lentils
  • Vegetables- Leafy Greens (the darker the better), spinach, broccoli, leeks, onions, carrots, avocados, brussel sprouts, califlower

SuperFoods- that are good for everybody:
  • Pomegranate (Fruit, Juice or Tea) (I like the seeds on my salad and in my cereal)
  • Blueberries
  • Seeds- Flaxseed (high in Omega 3) and Pumpkin (an anti-inflammatory)
  • Nuts
  • Organic Eggs (not pumped full of hormones)
  • Wild Alaskan Salmon
  • Coconut Butter
  • Yogurt
  • Brown Rice
  • Steamed New Potatoes
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Cucumber
  • Fresh Garlic, ginger, black pepper, basil, tarragon (all good for hypertension)
  • Green Tea

Fish High In Omega 3's:

  • Mackerel
  • Lake Trout
  • Herring
  • Sardines
  • Albacore Tuna
  • Salmon
  • Halibut

How to rethink your Meals:

Go back to the basics of building a meal: a meat, a starch and two colors of vegetables... (this is how my mom taught me to prepare dinner, but it's good to apply to both lunch and dinner).

Rethink it now (with a simple word upgrade): a protein, a starch, and two colors of vegetables...

Protein can be:
  • Fish
  • Lean Meats
  • Beans
  • etc.
Starch can be:
  • Rice
  • Potatoes (regular, sweet, new)
  • Quinoa
  • etc.
Two colors can be:
  • Broccoli and Carrots
  • Spinach Salad with Tomatoes
  • Grilled Asparagus and Grilled Corn on the Cob

The biggest portions on your plate should be the vegetables; they will help fill you up and are mostly made up of water and fiber, which allow the body to digest. The starch and protein should be small portions, as these are heavy and filled with more fats. Yes, your body needs them, but not in large amounts... and these are good digestible fats, not valve clogging trans fats.

Think of your plate as a Peace Sign... and you are making peace with your body- The largest portion needs to be vegetables, the two smaller portions are your protein and starch.  

Remember- Moderation, Moderation, Moderation!

Please note: I am not a doctor, and have no medical background... nor proof that a gluten free diet made my Husband have super human results at his health assessment test (he had been on the diet a year prior to the assessment)... but we both have felt the amazing results from the power of making healthy food choices for our bodies to preform the way they were intended.  I encourage you to do your own research and explore the world of good food options. 

Share your experiences with me! I want to hear how food has changed your life as much as it has mine! 

Thursday, August 5, 2010

What to Expect on this blog...

Not only will I be adding recipes, and better quality photos (please forgive these from my cell phone) I would like your input on how the recipe worked for you, or alterations you made that taste delicious! 
I will show my easy ways to make things like Mexican rice, refried beans (my way) and guacamole on corn tortillas 

and Homemade- pepper free- Salsa Verde

Not every recipe will have a Mexican Inspiration:

Grilled Potato's covered in Aioli Sauce (or as I say A-oly)

With Grilled Parmesan Asparagus

And Peaches and Cream Cake

Easy meals, with name brands!

Gluten Free Cupcakes 
We will explore areas like: Battered Fish, Homemade 'taters and corn on the cob
Learn from my mistakes and victories... on how I prepared things like...
Ginger Broccoli Chicken


This is officially my first blog- kind of scary, I am not a writer, I don't spell check, or reread things-once again scary! 

I do follow my heart and my heart says blog.
Why am I blogging if I am scared, you ask?
         (We are preteneding you asked)... I am starting this for fellow Celiac-ers or Gluten Free-ers like myself. People who are lost in a new world of food. It is scary to address personal issues, especially issues that cause a great deal of personal pain (i.e. embarrassment, frustration/anger, and self pity-the last one is the worst!).

However, I know I am not alone... there are tons of other people in this world that are struggling with these same issues and I want to share how I am feeling, what I am eating, and get feed back from you on your journey, so that together, we can share in each others victories over food.

What do you mean "New World of Food"?
     (The trend of me speaking for you is clearly going to continue for a while so please, allow me this small joy)... After having been diagnosed with Celiac in November-ish of 2009 (I can't remember when it was exactly, the process was a nightmare...I am pretty sure that I bumped into Freddy Kruger along the way), I realized there is a whole new world of food opened up to me... as well as shut out.

I can no longer swing into a Taco Casa when I am hungry and order carefree on a whim... to be honest I can no longer eat anything on a whim, at least not outside of my house. Not without the fear of cross contamination, or full frontal contamination for that matter...Getting sick for two weeks sucks, and knowing I am depleting my body of nutrients that could one day lead to cancer(s) sucks even more!

Thus, meals now take lots of planning, and prep work. I have to fully research the facilities my food was processed on, or actually be concerned about how my food was handled (this is a very big deal for me, I used to be happy with eating tamales and meat pies out of gas stations and stopping at taco places built into a trailer on the side of the road...Celiac forums even suggest "to be safe", call up manufactures and make sure they are keeping up with their claims of "gluten free". 
Only one big problem, I am way to passive to call (mainly because I don't want to make people feel uncomfortable for having to accommodate to me... I know it's stupid, but it is what it is) so in my worry-when I have called, I get confused on how to address wheat and gluten... I have done it once or twice, and hated it... so now if I don't know... I don't eat it....

The whole mess of food is like multiple blisters, that my shoes keeps rubbing... and I am at a really nice event so I can't take off the shoes... so I have to just suck it up and walk around with multi-blister pain. But it doesn't have to be that way... the perk is, I have a spare dress shoes in the car that don't rub! They're called creativity and perseverance... 

(Let's go on another visual journey) Which means- I can now explore a new world of grains and recipes that I would have never known about. I feel like Percy H. Fawcett, and food is my own South American Amazon. I have new flours to investigate... like rice flour, which I love... and grains like quinoa- which are super good for my body... and the best part... when I cook at home, I know what goes into my food. I am able to regulate the amount of oils and fats used, so I don't end up with cholesterol and blood pressure problems. What a blessing!

Why Do I feel I should have been a "Tex-Mexican"?

  1. I am born and raised Texan.
  2. I love Mexican food... tex-mexican to be exact... if you have had it... you understand what I mean... if you haven't... try it and you will know...
  3. I am in love with Mexican Folk Art. There is a soul in their work that captivates my creativity and heart. It inspires me, and I constantly want to surround myself with all things it the colors, the plants, the foods, the dances, the music, the revolutionary spirit, and even the afternoon naps!  
To sum it up... I live for Mexican food, and long to have a culture identity so rich in flavor. 

Only I have found one major set back after being diagnosed with Celiac... even worse than no longer being able to eat bread... I am allergic to peppers... I am talking anaphylactic, drive me to the emergency room, allergic. Best case scenario I swell up and get a migraine for two days. Worst case... well... I swell up and don't have anymore days. Luckily the latter has not happened... I ate them fine before, or so I thought... but then I have always had migraines, but there was never the swelling. There has been enough swelling that now my Husband (who is also my very kind and supportive food police) will tell me to "Step away from the jalapeƱos". 

"Soooo", you ask me (this is where we pretend you are (A) still reading and (B) asking questions) "How can you Eat Mexican Food without Peppers?!" Well, it isn't easy... and doesn't happen outside of my home very often. Which means, I am now learning to cook my favorite food gluten and pepper free! 

What I will be doing on this blog:
(Pressure is off, I phrased it as my own statement... not your question) I will be putting up new recipes we (My husband and I) have tried out, along with pictures... So, if they look good, you can try them too. Odds are good that if I make it... it will be easy and cheap. I don't like to spend a lot of money on my groceries and I really don't like cooking things I cannot pronounce. If unpronounceables happen to slip in, I promise to rename them. 

My hope is to inspire your kitchen, and learn about your journey. Gluten free is a road that doesn't have to be scary. We can make the most of our adventure!