Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Today's Gluten Free Eats

My last post was of my surprising results at GF baking, bread and brownies! That makes me so happy. But that wasn't all we ate of course. Here's our menu for the day:


Pumpkin Pie Millet and apple slices with "chia juice"

PUMPKIN PIE MILLET based on this great recipe at sugarfreemom.com
  • 2 cups water
  • 3/4 cup millet
  • 1/2 cup canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie mix)
  • 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • pinch of sea salt
  • 2 Tbs plain yogurt
  • generous splash of real vanilla
  • 1/4 cup real maple syrup

Cook 3/4 cup dry millet in 2 cups of boiling water until water is absorbed, about twenty minutes. Add canned pumpkin, pumpkin pie spice, a pinch of sea salt, plain yogurt and maple syrup and mix well.  Serve warm with fruit or vanilla yogurt if desired.

Pumpkin Pie Millet...yum!

"Chia Juice" is a scoop of chia seeds in some home made grape juice I canned this summer. Stir for one minute, then let sit for five. The seeds get kind of gelatinous. Mister loves his chia juice!


Carmelized Onion Burgers with Secret Sauce, Cottage Cheese, Monterrey Jack cheese slices, fresh broccoli

I had intended on eating tuna salad for lunch for some odd reason, just sounded good. My husband was home and requested a burger, and after making one for him I had a hankering for one myself.  His had Swiss cheese, but I like sharp Cheddar. The "Secret Sauce" started out with mayo and then I added a whole bunch of spices and some nutritional yeast. When I made mine, I kicked it up a notch with an extra dose of Emeril's Essense and a splash of Sweet Thai Chili Sauce. Mmmmm. 

"Dessert" was plain yogurt sweetened with honey, a splash of vanilla and a sprinkle of cinnamon. 


Chili and Sticky Rice, veggies and homemade ranch dip, GF Brownies

No recipe for this...I grabbed a frozen chunk of leftover chili out of the freezer, dumped it in the crockpot, added some great northern beans and a generous splash of tomato juice and set it on low to cook for a while. Sticky Rice is glutinous rice (but not the kind of gluten that causes problems) and is steamed in a bamboo rice steamer. It's like the rice they use in Sushi. We love to dip it in our chili or just eat it plain. Not really a low glycemic index food, so I don't eat a lot of it, but man is it ever good. The GF Brownies were so delicious! You can read about these yummy brownies here. Then go make some, you won't be disappointed!


One of the things that I mourned at the thought of HAVING to be gluten free (instead of just choosing...very different, you see...) was bread. There is nothing so comforting as the smell of a delicious, yeasty wheat bread baking in the oven and filling the house with wheaty, carbolicious joy. And, God has given me a gift with bread making...I can usually turn out a pretty mean loaf. Then there's cookies, pies, biscuits...sigh...

Of course, I have been searching online for easy, tasty GF recipes and the two I tried today did not disappoint. In fact, I was quite impressed with the GF Sandwich Bread from Serious Eats. Seriously. I read through all the comments and the only changes I made were adding a tablespoon of honey (there is no sugar in the recipe, and someone suggested it to make the gf-ness less obvious, especially for someone new to GF eating) and I used whole milk...not a big fan of powdered milk here. I used 1 cup of water and 3/4 cup whole milk. Be sure to read through the directions and comments before making this, if this is the first time you've tried a GF bread. There is a lot of great information there regarding GF baking. I half expected it to flop, since I don't really know what I'm doing when it comes to using GF flours, but it was definitely a success and a keeper as far as I'm concerned!

The taste and texture are slightly different than wheat bread, but not in an offensive way. Sister LOVES it, so you know it's good. Mister likes it too (and so does the dog...he dropped a chunk on the floor).  I'm happy that tomorrow, we can have sandwiches for lunch!  Doesn't it look delicious? It looks like real bread!

We were having my mom over this afternoon, and company for dinner so I decided we needed some brownies. I found a great recipe for Gluten, Casein and Soy Free Brownies at the Bob's Red Mill website. I didn't have unsweetened chocolate, so I used the old stand-by substitute of 3 Tbs cocoa and 1 Tbs oil (coconut) and they turned out great! I prefer a fudgey brownie over a cakey one, and this one was nice and fudgey.  The Teenager asked if I made them differently and when I told him I used a gluten free flour he didn't like them. Oh well, his loss...and more for the rest of us! This made a 9 x 13" pan and I cut it into 20-24 brownies, I should have counted but didn't, and only four were left when I cleaned up from supper.  Really now, do you think you could pass these up?

My daughter said today "Well, maybe this gluten free thing won't be so bad after all." Yeah, I think she's right. I don't know why I had my knickers in a bunch now...

Feeding the Kids While Mom and Dad are Away

It hit me yesterday that someone is going to have to feed the kids while hubby and I are in Phoenix. Normally, that wouldn't concern me too much (the grandparents have been warned not to feed Mister anything with MSG in it...if they do, well, it's their own fault.) because my parents and my in-laws are well experienced in feeding children.  But, when you throw in Special Dietary Needs, well it gets a little more complicated. So, I decided to make some meals and freeze them as well as round up or make some GF snacks to make it as simple as possible for those caring for the kids while we're away for a few days.

The kids and I brainstormed over lunch, and here is the menu plan...which, of course, is subject to change.


  • eggs and fruit (starting to be our go-to breakfast meal...)
  • GF oatmeal (twice, they LOVE oatmeal)
  • yogurt and fruit
  • Pumpkin Pie Quinoa Breakfast Bake (FINALLY!...only I won't get to try it...boo!)
  • GF quesadillas and veggies/fruit (assuming I can pull off making GF tortillas)
  • GF sandwiches, either grilled cheese or PB&J (assuming I can pull off GF bread)
  • Celery and peanut butter, GF crackers, string cheese and fruit
  • Homemade vegetable soup and GF sandwiches or crackers
  • Scrambled eggs and fruit or yogurt (my kids LOVE eggs!)
  • Spaghetti and meatballs
  • Chicken, broccoli and rice casserole
  • Meatloaf, mashed potatoes and broccoli
  • Millet casserole (containing some kind of meat and most likely broccoli. They love broccoli, too!)
  • Noodley beef and mashed potatoes. This is essentially Beef & Noodles, but with ground beef instead of chunks of beef. One of those quick, budget-friendly things I whipped up one day that was a big hit. 
Snacks and beverages:
  • Lots of water, some juice
  • GF crackers with peanut butter or cheese
  • Veggies and fruit
  • GF cookies
  • Yogurt
This may be a tad ambitious, I don't know. Looks good on paper though, and since the kids had input they are more likely to not have a problem eating "special meals" when everyone else is eating something that might contain gluten. 

This is definitely new territory for me...for one, I've never been away from the kids for five whole days, several states away and for two, we've never really had to deal with a special diet before (aside from NEVER, EVER, EVER GIVE MISTER MSG OR RED DYE. EVER.). 

How about you? How do you handle travel, other people caring for your kids, relatives and the gluten-free thing?

Monday, October 29, 2012

Our Gluten-Free Table Today

I have to admit I have not planned well for meals this week...I've gotten lazy over the last several days weeks months to be honest. And I surely wasn't prepared for planning gluten-free meals! What a blessing kind and generous friends are, let me tell you. Each day, I'm kind of "flying by the seat of my pants" and trying to pray about what to make, but it is so easy to just slip into "well, what sounds  good right now?" (along with the new "and how do I substitute the gluten ingredients in it?"). It's a process. 

Today, I am quite certain gluten should not be a part of my diet, and my son's for sure, and most likely my daughter's. I accidentally consumed something with gluten in it last night and I have felt terrible all day...the same way I felt after absentmindedly eating Hidden Valley Ranch - tired and hung-over-ish, no motivation aside from a strong desire to crawl back into bed and sleep. Blech. I don't think there's much gluten-containing foods worth feeling like that. Well, except for cheesecake, maybe. And my mom's Old Fashioned Cream Pie....

Other clues are that my son was, although active and boyish, not "spastic" and driving me out of my gourd all day. His BM today looked more like a normal one, his face looks less bumpy. And, for my daughter, the doctor's office called and said her TSH test was a little elevated and they want to recheck in eight weeks. I so want to save her from ending up like me so if her diet is contributing to the elevated TSH, tiredness, brain fog, etc. then I want to fix it now while she is young! I also need to really watch for soy, although we don't eat as much soy as we used to. Just something else I need to be vigilant in watching for when reading labels.

We ate fairly well today, I think:

  • Breakfast was scrambled eggs and fresh apple slices. I like sharp cheddar melted on top and smothered in homemade salsa and sour cream (the eggs, of course!)
  • Lunch was Millet Meatballs in Quinoa Rotini Pasta and homemade spaghetti sauce, sprinkled with freshly grated parmesan cheese and a side of fresh veggies. Very tasty! I was a little unsure if I'd like the Qunioa/corn pasta, but it was practically like "real" pasta. I love that it is made with Quinoa!
  • Supper is in the oven right now:  A hybrid Tater Tot Casserole. I quit buying canned soups ages ago, so it was a cornstarch-thickened gravy made with beef broth, sour cream  and nutritional yeast, browned ground beef, and green beans.  I am not sure if Tater Tots are safe yet (and I don't have any in the house, anyway), so I made mashed potatoes to put on top. All in one lovely, cast iron skillet too. Love those one-dish meals!
Here's how I made the Millet Meatballs (I just threw it together, so measurements are not guaranteed to be accurate!)

Millet Meatballs

  • one free range egg
  • 1/4-1/3 cup of leftover cooked, seasoned millet
  • 1/4 pound or so of ground beef
  • Miss Tink's House Seasoning
  • 1-2 Tbs nutritional yeast
  • 1-2 Tbs olive oil or fat of choice
Whisk together egg, Miss Tink's, and nutritional yeast. Add millet and mix well, then add ground beef and mix very well. Form into meatballs. Gently heat olive oil in a cast iron skillet and brown meatballs on all sides until cooked through, or brown all sides then finish cooking in a 350 degree oven until cooked through, about 20 minutes. These can be seasoned however you like, of course...more garlic, some spicy hot pepper, even add shredded vegetables like carrot or zucchini. The kids and I loved them and there were none left over! I forgot to count how many it made, but my best guess is about 15 walnut-sized meatballs.

I can't think of anything to go with our supper tonight, and honestly don't really care to make anything else. I just want to get done with the day and crawl into bed, into my nice, fragrant, freshly laundered flannel sheeties. I just love Fall!

Good Gluten-Free Eats to you!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Gluten Free? What Can We Eat, Then?

pantryMy initial response to the Go Gluten-Free directive from on high was not a very becoming one. All I could think about was what I couldn’t eat, how expensive GF products are, and how tight my grocery budget already is. It’s just not fair and it sucks. Fortunately, God has blessed me with wonderful friends who are encouraging and helpful. And, after a few days of not checking my blood sugar, since it was upsetting me too much, I felt a little better about the situation and started trying to look at what I can eat instead. Here’s what we’ve eaten for the last few days…

Our first, official gluten-free meal was...

BEEF STROGANOFF I chose this because my wonderful friend, The Homesteading Hippy, listened to me whine and cry and did her very best to get me to put my BGPs on (Big Girl Panties). Then she stopped by bearing gifts of delicious free range eggs, gf Tinkyada pasta, bone broth, two different Bob’s Red Mill gf flours, millet, quinoa, flax seeds,  and a fun Funky Monkey treat. She is a great monkey. The best. I didn’t make this recipe PRECISELY, and I can’t quite remember what I did that was different, but it was a matter of time…and I already had the stew meat cooked in the crockpot so that eliminated the whole flouring/browning the meat part. It was really good, and I was very impressed with the pasta! I can’t stand whole wheat pasta anyway, the texture is just all wrong. But the brown rice pasta was practically the same as regular pasta, it just took a little longer to cook. The flavor was great and it made me feel a bit better because I LOVE me some pasta and the thought of eschewing noodley goodness forever was quite upsetting.

I also had made some gf Pumpkin Honey Spice cookies to take to my mom’s group at church that evening. They were really good. I highly recommend using xanthan gum for gf baking, as these cookies turned out very nicely, like “real” cookies. I added chopped pecans and they were very delicious.

I had planned on making this yummy-sounding Pumpkin Pie Quinoa Breakfast Bake for breakfast the next day, but when I was out riding on the Harley with my wonderful husband, bless his heart, who hated seeing me so upset but just didn’t know what to do about it (nothing really, unless he’s hiding a magic wand somewhere…) and thought a nice ride on what was probably the last nice day of the year would help, I had a profound…and humbling…thought. For most of my life, I’ve been making my own choices as to what I eat. It obviously has not been working out so well – I’m overweight, have high blood pressure and high blood sugar. Food is integrally connected to all of those issues. So, maybe, I should ask The Big Guy what I should eat instead of relying on “what sounds good.” After all, He created this body of mine and knows better than I do what it needs to work well. As I laid down to sleep that night, I prayed about breakfast and unfortunately, it was not that yummy sounding quinoa dish. It was a fried egg and apple slices. Not what I wanted but it was completely satisfying anyway. I also had some chia seeds and bee pollen (courtesy of another wonderful friend, who has been gf for over 15 years. I had called her too and she gave me great advice and ideas, then also gave me a bunch of stuff that she felt God wanted her to give me. What a blessing!)

The next supper was hamburger patties in a gf brown gravy, cooked millet, and broccoli. I toasted the millet first before cooking it in beef broth, and felt like I should have invited The Road Runner for supper. It was, after all, a big pile of bird seed there in my skillet. I had the urge to put a sign in it and wait to drop an anvil from the cliff nearby.

I didn’t think my daughter would like it, as I found it to be so-so, definitely something to get used to, but she LOVED it. Mister liked it well enough to have two helpings. And, the best part of feeding Mister millet is that millet contains…TRYPTOPHAN!!!! That’s the stuff in turkey that makes you sleepy. Anything to calm Mister down is definitely a plus in my book! I seasoned the millet (which took longer than it said to cook, and I kept adding more broth to it) with my favorite all-purpose seasoning mix, Miss Tink’s House Seasoning, a little extra paprika, some nutritional yeast and parsley. Maybe some other things too, but I can’t remember now. It was good with the brown gravy over it, and the leftovers I plan to use to make meatloaf or meatballs. I cooked the hamburger patties in my big ole cast iron skillet, which left nice browned bits on the bottom, and not gobs of grease since I got them from the local butcher and it’s really good meat. To this, I added beef broth and thickened with a spoonful of cornstarch and a spoonful of the gf all-purpose flour. I had seasoned the burgers with Miss Tink’s, and was delighted to find that I didn’t need to add any other seasoning to this gravy, which thickened up nicely and had a great, browned flavor. Just what I was going for! We also had cottage cheese (read labels!! Apparently anything that says “modified food starch” can be a problem) and cucumbers with homemade ranch dressing. Very delish.

I really wish we could have chickens, we’ll be eating a LOT of eggs, I think. I need to start my day out with mostly protein and a little carbs, so anything that is grainy of any kind probably won’t be a good idea. Scrambled eggs with cheese, salsa and sour cream for breakfast the next day. Lunch was leftover beef stroganoff and fresh veggies for me, leftover millet and a fried duck egg for the little kids with fresh fruit for dessert. Supper was oven baked french fries, fresh carrots, broccoli, celery and cucumbers with ranch dressing, cheese cubes of colby and monterrey jack.

We (the kids and I) observe the Sabbath on Saturday, so that is a no-cooking day for me, unless it’s in the crockpot. We munched on leftover veggies, cheese, and some very tasty fresh pears from a local farmer’s market. I had no idea what to do for supper for most of the day, but then had an inspiration. In my crockpot, I put about 24 oz of already cooked great northern beans and juice, about a cup of beef broth, sliced up a few baby carrots and some onion, and about a quarter of a pound of raw ground beef. Seasoned with a bit of Miss Tink’s and set it on high. It turned out to be a very tasty, hearty bean soup. My family is not as crazy about beans as I am, but we all thought it was pretty good. The fact that my husband said it was “really good” means it was exceptionally tasty. Before serving, I stirred in about two tablespoons of nutritional yeast, some more paprika, a touch more salt and some smoked black pepper. Served with cottage cheese, applesauce and some bbq potato chips that I’m relatively certain do not contain any gluten.

Today, it’s been munchies and leftovers and my best Monkey has invited us over for supper. I’m quite happy to not have to think about what to make, although I was planning a Pizza Pasta casserole with Quinoa/corn pasta that I’ve been wanting to try anyway for a while. 

The best advice I’ve gotten about gf cooking is from my friend who’s been gf for 15 years: “Just think about what you want to make for a meal, then find ways to replace the things that have gluten in the recipe.” Simple, although I’m sure there will be challenges. Like pizza, for example. And tortillas. I found a great recipe for thin pizza crust that is just absolutely my favorite pizza crust now, but I don’t know how using gf flour will work in it. There’s only one way to find out though, roll up my sleeves and give it a shot.

It’s still frustrating though, because I just want to eat without thinking about what I’m eating. I have so many other things to manage, I don’t want one more on my plate…especially one that is expensive, time consuming, and may require eating odd things. But, if our health improves then it is all worth it in the end. It’s the “in the middle of it” part that I don’t enjoy.

I still need to pray about our meals, because left to my taste buds, I’m sure I’ll still make poor food choices. But it is nice to know that a gf diet is not a Death (to enjoying food) Sentence. There is a whole, wide world of foods out there that don’t have gluten, why should I be content to sit in my little SAD box (Standard American Diet…which I have mostly walked away from, but still have a bit of that lingering mentality to cast off)? I should not. And so, here we go…