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…

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