Saturday, March 27, 2010

Caprese Salad & my purple thumb

I've always liked caprese salad and decided to try making it myself tonight. was really easy and I'm embarrassed that I never made it before.  The glops on the side are Hummus, yummy!
The catch to this not being cheap is the fresh basil. For a very small package of about 8 leaves and some stems $2.50.

Once up on a time, Princess Cocoa bought a basil and a mint plant at the store for $2.50 each.  She was excited to grow plants that were also edible (& it was cheaper than buying packages at the deli).  Cocoa took them home and put them in a sunny window and they grew and grew until they were huge! The fresh basil smelled better than any air-freshener and it had huge leaves that were used in all sorts of stuff.  Much fresh pasta sauce was made and some eggplant parmigiana too.  The mint was great for fresh Mojitos and sorbet (yes, she made lemon mint sorbet from scratch!)  Then, all of the sudden the basil shriveled up and died.  Cocoa couldn't tell if out grew itself or just died for no reason.  Regardless, she was very bummed out and vowed never to get a new plant again.
Shortly after, her mint plant contracted some kind of white flying bugs under the leaves.  It was so gross, there were millions of them, so she tossed it outside. And of course, that killed it.
She thought she was doomed to have a purple thumb for all eternity.

Poor Princess Cocoa, never adopted a new plant and thanks God that her cat is vocal so she isn't neglected to death too.

Tonight she saw those cute little herb plants at the store again (they keep them in the produce section) and almost bought one, but remembered the tragedy that were the last two and walked away.

The End

Friday, March 26, 2010

The Bullet and Nacho Combo

Yes, I'll admit it, I bought a "Magic Bullet".  You know, that blender-type thingy that British guy and his American "wife" advertise on Saturday morning infomercials! - Click that if you don't know.

It turns out it is really magical for making guacamole.  Tonight when I got home I just wanted something super easy.  So, I used the small cup, filled it half with salsa and half avocado and let it whir away.  In the mean time I tossed some cheese on chips and zapped 'em for a minute.  Dinner...DONE!

A little while later, due to random cravings I had to throw together one of my favorite snacks.  1 Tablespoon peanut butter (I use Skippy Natural) and some semi-sweet chocolate chips with a dash of salt for crunch.  Nuke it for a minute & stir it smooth. Frankly, I eat it with a spoon. It's also really nice with a plain rice cake and don't forget to chase it with a cup of soymilk.
Total: ~$3 today

Thursday, March 25, 2010

The cake! Betty Crocker GF

Here is my cake, yes I bake.  It is actually the Betty Crocker yellow gluten free cake mix.  So easy and fast, I make this all the time.  When I want it to be special I "frost" it with semi-sweet mini chocolate chips.  It's a trick to get them to stick all over, they like to roll off the top to the sides.
I'll just say it requires patience, a fast hand and a few toothpicks.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Celiac, you're always on my mind

I had coffee with a good friend the other day, at Starbuck's natch, and she was telling me about her son and how he isn't growing as fast as expected.  My first thought, of course, is to test him for Celiac, since that's when it's most likely to present itself.  I found myself having to hold back and ask a few questions first.  I don't want to be that lady, you know?

That lady thinks everything relates to her and everyone must be concerned with the same thing she is all the time.

So, I asked what the Dr. said and what not. Then, satisfied that her Dr. had not brought up Celiac or ran any tests on him, I apologetically offered up to her that she should consider a simple blood test for Celiac and simple skin tests for food allergies too.  I think it is important, I know that if I'd have known sooner my life would have been much less painful and I don't want anyone to go through that! At the same time I felt sheepish about bringing it up because then I feel like that lady!

Every day since, I want to ask if she's going to do it or if she just thinks I'm that silly lady.  I'm holding back!

I don't understand people who can just embrace not knowing.  They say ignorance is bliss, but I wasn't born with that gene. I have to know.  For instance, I knew there was no way on God's green earth that I could have HIV, but at my last annual checkup, I asked the Dr. to order the test anyway.  I figured, they were drawing blood and I had mysterious symptoms - might as well check everything!  There might be a slight chance that I was exposed helping coworkers apply bandaids or something.  Well, I didn't stress about it waiting for the test to come back but when it did *Negative*, thank you very much, I was still just a tiny bit relieved.  Putting your mind to rest is almost as good as knowing exactly what's wrong.

That's why I'm writing this.  I'm dying to know that a friend took my advice but I can't out and out ask her without bordering on crazy person so, um...if you're reading this and took my advice, let me know!  I'm dying here!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Steaks and Jessica Simpson are a good combo

Yep, George grilled up all 3 of the steaks in that package and I went to town with leftovers.
For lunch: the last of my Greek quinoa and leftover steak, so delish!  Read an article in Allure about Jessica Simpson at the same time.  I just can't help but like her, can you?  She's so real.  And the magazine was real old, that's the problem with subscriptions, they pile up in a corner until I get time to read them. Any hoo..

This is the rice and broccoli with ranch dressing I concocted to accompany my steak for dinner.  It was ok, not fab.  I guess you could say this meal got the job done, protein, green veggie, starches & that's about all I require from a meal.

I'm baking a cake as I write this so tune in later for some eye candy, gf style.

P.S. total: ~$5

Monday, March 22, 2010

Cinnamon Chex & Angus = Heavenly!

I just have to start by saying I love Cinnamon Chex with Very Vanilla Silk, morning, noon and night! It is one of those things that has made me very happy this week for $3/box.

Another happy event: beautiful beef at the store.  I can't help it, if they have some gorgeous steaks, I have to buy them no matter the price.  I got some nice Angus beef for about $8/pound, which is really a good price.

Today, George grilled one up for me, nothing on it but a dash of salt and pepper.  I nuked a potato and drizzled on some Catalina dressing (Kraft brand!), couple of carrots too.  It was a lovely dinner.  George never burns my steak, it's juicy and good.  Thanks George!

Daily total ~$5

Sunday, March 21, 2010

I can't remember what pasta tastes like

Yes, it is true.  I can't remember what wheat pasta tastes like, and I'm ok with that.  But, I can't give you a true comparison to quinoa pasta.  Eating the quinoa pasta, I have a feeling that it is more like wheat pasta than rice pasta though.
No matter what, I liked it!  Topped with Newman's Marinara (a definite fave from the F$) and some shredded parmesan that I got on manager special (saving $). By the way, you can heat the sauce in the microwave - in the jar! Throw a plastic lid on instead of the cap and shake it to "stir".
I have to say the texture was a little smoother, rice is a little heftier, I think. And it has an almost sweet taste to it.  It's definitely on my regular menu list.

*money saving tip from Mom* save the pasta water to make soup.  I did! This is what it looks like coming out of the fridge:

As it warmed up it got watery, don't worry!  Sadly, I haven't found a replacement broth yet, for soup.  I'll tell you what, the pasta water did just fine.  And the extra starch made my soup heartier. I just dumped in some Italian style frozen veggies, S&P, thyme and basil and it was lunch!

That's my food adventure du jour.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

I'm like an eccentric old lady about my Greek quinoa

I've mentioned Greek quinoa salad half a dozen times in the last month on this blog.  I'm like an old person who tells the grandkids about "back in the day" so many times they can recite it along with her. So I decided it's time to post my ode to the Greek Quinoa Salad so I can get over it. Ha.

Here it is...
I started with a cup of quinoa, 2 cups of water and a giant bowl in the microwave - 13 minutes, stirring once in the middle.

I chopped a cucumber, 1/3 of a large onion (wished it was red but yellow had to do), and cut up some poor baby tomatoes.  As you can see one was spared - it was just too cute with it's little stem on top.

Now it's all alone, the other vine dwellers' guts all over the cutting board...a moment please...Moving on!

Last night, I put cans of quartered artichoke hearts, chickpeas and of black olives in the fridge to chill because it helps lower the salad's temp faster (you know the quinoa will be hot when it exits the micro).

Once the quinoa was cooked, I dumped everything in plus the last of the red wine vinegar (which wasn't quite enough, boohoo), a sprinkle of basil (fresh would have been better but dried wasn't all that bad), a glug of Extra Virgin Olive Oil, a dash of S&P and stirred so carefully because the bowl was overflowing.

Chilled it for about 30 minutes and ate a ton.  I'll be eating it all week folks.  Don't forget to tip your waitress.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Even if you can't lick your elbow...go gf in the shower

 You've got the diet down but did you think about your soaps, lotions, hair products etc?  I've heard people say so many times "I didn't have to change those things, I'm fine." but continually think they are getting glutened.  Here's the connection...

Picture yourself (or someone else, whatever) in the shower, putting shampoo and conditioner on your head and the suds are running down across your lips.  You might not exactly slurp it up (unless you breathe through your mouth, like when you have a cold) but there will be residue on your lips to ingest.  Then you move on to your face wash, it has oat and wheat in it and you've just rubbed it all over your face, leaving that trail of contamination.  What about your body wash?  So you might not be getting the runoff like from your head and face, but there are studies that show gluten can irritate the skin as well - Hello Dermatitis Herpeteformis!  You get out, dry off and rub your favorite lotion all over - does it have gluten in it? Then you go grab your breakfast, lick your fingers and bing! You're contaminated.  You are eating gluten that is present in your shampoo, conditioner, lotion, body wash and makeup.

Speaking of makeup, this stuff is on your face, it should be a no-brainer. Even if you're not rubbing it on your lips, it flakes off during the day, you touch your face with your hands and then your food...make sure it's pure, maybe even nutritious, and for sure never buy any lip products that have any source of gluten!  I saw a statistic that the average woman eats 6 pounds of lipstick in a life time!  The average lipstick is 0.13 ounces (16 ounces to a pound).  And what if you're above average? Think about it...

I understand that the trace amounts may or may not be enough to bother you, depending on your sensitivity.  But, I also know that your exposure is cumulative and by the end of the day you may have come in contact with enough trace amounts to add up to a reaction in your system.  I'm just saying, eliminate any exposure you can.

Besides, there are so many wonderful products out there that are gluten free and do fabulous things for your body.  Shampoos and conditioners with silk protein are much nicer than wheat protein for glossing up those locks.  Aloe vera is the best greaseless and healing moisturizer there is and it's in many fabulous face washes, lotions and even hair products.  If you need styling aids, go for the silicone and lacquer based - that's what you want anyway, flexible hold, right?  Having wheat or oat protein in it will not help your hair, it's just a cheap marketing ploy, I say.

So, what do I use, you ask? I'll be honest, I use the cheap stuff.  To simplify my life I say, "If it's not at King Soopers or Walmart, I don't need it." I'll start at the top:


At the moment, I'm using VO5 tea therapy shampoo in blackberry and alternate with Pantene Color Revival 2-in-1 shampoo because I use "Brass free brunettes" by Clairol while I'm growing out my crazy highlights, which by-the-way comes with a super conditioner!  Every couple weeks I use Selsun Blue because I like to wear black tops.
I used to use Garnier curl control mousse but I've switched to Suave Healthy Curls mousse, I like it better (less build up, softer hold).


Neutrogena oil free acne wash redness soothing- it's green and has aloe in it.  Pure soothing, cool, refreshing facial in the morning.  LUV!
I luv luv luv my Loreal Skin Genesis serum!  It totally perfects my skin around my eyes.
Maybelline powder mineral makeup in fair and blush in soft mauve.  I also keep a compact of Covergirl simply powder in my purse. 

I have tried a million mascaras, it is the one thing I will not leave the house without unless I'm drugged and Covergirl Professional mascara is the one that I like the best, second to Maybelline Long and Lush.
I recently discovered Avon has a great online store.  They list ingredients for every product! I have an eyeliner, shadow and lip gloss from them in was a holiday special.  

Eyeshadows from Covergirl and Maybelline, Most recently I bought a "Shadow Blast" eyeshadow duo.  Wouldn't recommend due to the fact it broke on the first use - really soft!  The color creased instantly (and I do not have crepey eyelids yet so this has never happened before).  My powder shadows are great though!


Lever 2000 soap in Aloe and Suave or SoftSoap body washes and hand soap have so far all proven safe.
Suave Cocoa Butter with Shea body lotion and Vaseline petroleum jelly for the really rough patches
Schick Intuition razors (I'm a time saver that way)

& my Bonus Free gift set from Victoria's Secret - I figured this would be a spare gift for someone...but I kept it all! Everything has ingredients listed and I could use the Beauty Rush lip gloss in Cherry Bomb, Love Spell and Dream Angels perfumes too.  I have a Cotton Candy spray too (I don't care what you say, you're never too old to smell like candy!)

*one last note* watch out for nail polishes.  I caught Sally Hansen putting wheat protein in some of hers and I don't know about you, but I'm prone to chippage and I don't want that in my cereal! Not that the other ingredients in nail polish are healthy eatin' but gluten is a big NO!NO!NO! in my house.

I think that covers it.  So if you need a shopping list so you can look and smell like me, there it is :)

P.S. I should be getting paid by sponsors for this, right?

Monday, March 15, 2010

Quinoa parade and the 1:00 am insomnia's 1 am on Monday morning and I can't sleep because it only feels like midnight. Please pardon me if this entry is a little goofy :)

This week, on my fill-in shopping trip, I found Ancient Harvest Quinoa on sale for $3.99/box at King Soopers, of course.  I was Sooper happy!  It's usually $7.99 - so of course I picked up 2 boxes.  Then, lo and behold, there was something new - Red Quinoa!  I've never tried the red kind before, so I picked up a box of that too.  I have a stockpile now.  
That little discovery sent me in search of artichoke hearts & black olives too, which were not on my list mind you. But, I think one of my favorite things in the world is a nice greek salad.  I keep feta on hand just in case I get a craving, it can turn almost anything greek instantly. Quinoa isn't Greek (obvs) but I do declare, makes a great greek salad!

Here's how I make it:
chopped fresh tomato
chopped cucumber
finely chopped red onion
red wine vinegar
artichoke hearts
black or kalamata olives
maybe a dash of Olive oil,salt and pepper

Don't ask me the measurements.  I just chop and dump and dress it until it tastes how I want it.  Sometimes I like more tang and sometimes I like more creamy - you just start with the chopped up cuke and toms, add a little of each of the rest till you're happy.

More excitement ensued the next day. I went with my dad to a different King Soopers (we just needed soda) but decided to take him on a tour of all things gf.  We stopped in the pasta aisle and I was so excited to see quinoa pasta there.  I'd heard it existed but if I don't find it at King Soopers or Walmart, I don't eat it.  It was at King Soopers (just not the one near me - must put in a request there).  They also had rice lasagna noodles - I've never in my life felt the urge to build a lasagna, but nice to know I have the option if I find a huge chunk of time to kill.

So, I grabbed the quinoa pasta and then we looked for the Amy's gf dinners.  Bonus!  They have the mac & cheese I've heard about too...ON SPECIAL! So of course I grabbed that.  

Finally made it to the soda stacks and another exciting find - throw back Pepsi made with real sugar. SUGAR! Not High Fructose Corn Syrup, which I think is evil.
I confess, I eat and drink stuff that contains it, but I still think it's evil and avoid it like the plague.  Nothing short of pure desperation will lead me to ingest that poisonous glop.

Mmm...then the cookie and cracker aisle.  I had to show him where to pick up gf crackers (well, the ones I like) and they had 4 kinds of Pamela's cookies there too!  Pecan Shortbread (my absolute favorite cookie in the whole world), ginger, chocolate and chocolate chip.  Well, we didn't pick anything up there - this was mostly an educational drive-by.  Somehow though, a package of those shortbread cookies ended up in the cart.  Dad said he couldn't forget the cookies, I thought he grabbed oreos.  I teared up a little (so proud!).

So, all in all, GREAT weekend for gf at King Soopers. I have enough quinoa to last 2-3 months and now, I have to go twitter to the Quinoa cookbook people for some recipes.  Maybe I'll go to bed and do it in the morning.

Sweet gf dreams!

p.s. can we give up Daylight Savings Time?  It just messes me up!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Things that make me happy

Every once in a while I come across something new that totally makes me happy and makes being gluten free so much fun.  It's like a secret game that you have to be a special member of the club to play.  It's called, "Gluten Free Treasure Hunt"and everyone gets a prize.

Here are a few of my favorites this week: Has so many gf foods it makes my head spin! some are funny some are serious, everyone needs to cover their nakedness, why not? cracks me up!  If it weren't for my veg friends I'd be all over these. I've never really been a fan of beer but it's nice to know I can find some, made close to home!
Moorhead grocery store: I'd almost consider moving to MN for this, and the million relatives I never see who live w/in 3 hours or less.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

F$ Report Out aka my month on a food stamp budget

First off, thank you for joining me on my journey. I'm really glad to see that people can certainly live on food stamps, even if they have multiple exceptions to the "typical" American diet. I can only imagine it's difficult because there isn't room for sweets and a lot of pre-mades.
Quick credit where it's due, this is where I found the plan, please go and read it a little, I think it's interesting:

I'm happy to report that I didn't spend a penny over the initial $240 and have lots of leftovers. I barely made a dent in the spices (the $40 portion of that expense) . As for the leftovers in my freezer: 8 servings of chicken, 8 servings of soups and chilies, 2 stuffed bell peppers, mostly full boxes of grits, beans and rice, 1 lb of carrots and celery sticks, loaf of bread and miscellaneous leftover vegetables and fruit.
I don't foresee going to the store for a couple more weeks, at least.

So, what other interesting tidbits do I have to share? Let's start with the maybe, as in I might be persuaded to cook this again:

Meat Stuffed Zucchini
Why? Because it tasted good and would look prettier if I'd have followed the instructions
Why not? Because half of it is on the stove, half in the oven and that's a lot of dishes for me to wash

Then on to the definitelys:

Black Bean Chili
Why? It's always been a fave but the herbs and celery gave it a freshness I luv

Stir fried Rice
Why? because it was fast and tasted so good! Also, because it was better than my 1st and only other attempt

Why? Because they were fast and yummy. I'll have to use beef instead of poultry next time

Why? Do I have to answer that? Easy, healthy, tasty, good way to clean out the crisper...

Cream of Rice Cereal
Why? It grew on me. Truly comforting on a not-so-happy tummy and maple syrup made the difference in taste

Why? It's fun to say! It's so pretty! It's so fast! Num Num Num!

Why? mmm bacon...

Newman's Own Pasta Sauce
Why? Why not?

Then, sadly there are some meals I will have to give a big fat thumbs down.

Shepard's Pie
Why not? Too many dishes to wash and not enough yumminess for the bother

Why not? Personal preference, even though the rice made it bearable, I'm just not ok with ground meat

Why not? Sadly, because I found out I'm allergic to chicken, otherwise I luv soup and would eat it every single day

Stuffed Bell Peppers
Why not? Lots of dishes, work, time, effort and in the end, I just don't like bell peppers cooked, I only dig em raw

Peanut Butter & Jelly Sandwiches
Why not? So sad, the bread made my tummy hurt and I had flashbacks to my childhood filled with PB&J. Not all bad, I thought it was yummy - but I'm not a masochist

And that's my report in a nut shell. Don't forget the menu was filled with breakfasts of scrambled eggs and bacon, Rice Chex, pancakes, French toast and lunches accompanied by cornbread, gf croutons and potato chips. I didn't picture everything here, I mean you know what a hotdog and potato chips looks like, right? If not, leave me a comment and I'll send you a pic ;)

Now, I'm off to watch "Weekend @ Bernie's" with my BFF and have a little dinner. Probably leftover Ratatouille - it's even fun to type!

Monday, March 8, 2010

It's a Chili kind of day - Last of the F$!

Today is a cloudy, cold and dreary kind of day. The rain or snow hasn't started yet. This is the perfect day for a hot bowl of meat and bean chili- just like my mom makes. This recipe called for cumin- I used a little curry powder I had on hand instead. It added a nice twist. Now that my tummy is all full and warm, I feel like taking advantage of the cloudiness and take a nap.

I'm also a little bummed that this will be the last meal post for my F$ project. It was a fun experiment and I'm really glad I did it. Tomorrow, I have a recap planned, so check back to see the good the bad and the bearable.

I'm glad I didn't have to make the chicken nuggets. I just couldn't bear to get out the raw chicken, cut it up, swirl it in eggs and crumbs, and fry it in oil. I'm just too dangerous in the kitchen. The last time I tried frying, I splattered oil all over the ceiling, every appliance and myself. I had to put a cover on the fire and run to a cold shower so I didn't end up with 3rd degree burns!

I know it's a real let down for all of you, my faithful readers, since that was supposed to be the grand finale.

So I'm a bit of a drama queen. My F$ experiment has been completely do-able for any normal (gf) person. I tell you true, I'll finish out the next 5 days on leftovers and return happily to my plain, instant diet though. Even if it's terribly boring because I have a dozen other new projects planned in the coming weeks.

I'll definitely still cook some of these meals, Ratatouille and meat stuffed zucchini were really good and the Newman's pasta sauce was so yummy, it might be worth making the rice pasta to go with it. But others, mostly the poultry, will never see my kitchen again.

30 days of service

I'm doing something special this month. I've dedicated myself to b
eing of service to others for 30 days!

Yesterday was day 1.
I brainstormed ideas to get me started, found a great website that gave me tons of ideas and got started by signing up with the Make a Wish foundation to donate my time to make dreams of seriously ill kids come true.

My energy is humming!

So, my basic plan is to do something specific each day for the next 30 days (and beyond!) to help someone near me.
This week I'm going to start with friends and family and make a conscious effort to identify something they need, that they wouldn't normally ask for help with, and help them! Now, if you're reading this and you think you're one of them, know that I would always help in any way I could, just ask :) But I want the people around me to know I care enough to do without being asked.
I was sharing this goal with my mom today, and she is my ultimate cheerleader. She reminded me that I do help people every day and this is nothing new to her! LOL
It's true, I always help someone who is struggling to open a door and give encouragement when ever I can. The intention of this blog is to help anyone who stumbles across it with gluten free issues. And I find myself sharing information constantly to help people educate themselves about important issues affecting them daily.
It was good for me to be reminded that I'm not completely self centered, yet I still feel moved to do more. I want to actively seek out new opportunities to help people around me.

So, please let me know if you have any thoughts or great ideas on service projects for me.
How do you serve others? Where do you see needs?

I'll keep you posted on my journey. Now, I'm off to send some encouragement to an old friend who could really use a boost.

Over and out :)


Sunday, March 7, 2010

Shepard's Pie - Day 21

I promise, it's not burned!! It just looks darker than the nice toastiness that it was.
As far as Shepard's Pie goes, this was not too bad. I dock points because you have to start it on the stove then move it to a baking dish and make the mashed potatoes separately. Then I had much leftover that went into freezer containers for future meals. Too many dishes, so I'm thinking this one hits the cutting room floor as far as future menu planning.

My thoughts:
1. Use instant potatoes for the shepard's pie and leftover meats and veggies to keep the dirty dish count down.
2. I'm going to stock celery more often, it goes so good in things!

One more meal left for me to make - Chili. Do I have to? I don't like regular chili, maybe if I can get some eaters to come over and finish it off for me?
I'm going to go call the parents right now. They like chili and cornbread, I'll just have to invite them over!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

I forgot to post the Meatloaf! & my food burning returned

I can't believe I forgot to post the meatloaf! I made this when my cousin was in town and fed it to the family. We all thought it was great! I'm not big on's usually squishy. This recipe was really tasty though. I subbed out an equal measure of cooked rice for the breadcrumbs (remember the bad bread experience from week 1?). I think the rice was what made it. There was more lightness to it and chewy rather than mushy.

This recipe is definitely going on my favorite list. I had to wear rubber gloves to do the hand-mixing so I didn't get it all under my nails, but that made for quick clean up! Also, I didn't get much in the line of leftovers, very disappointing, so I suggest making a double batch and freeze some for later.

I hesitate to tell you about the sausage with onions and peppers because I have to admit I completely charred the onions and peppers and had to shove them in the trash. I considered not mentioning it, but I think the picture gives me away.

I still fed the sausages to my family though and they loved 'em. I wasn't completely psyched about them myself. I hate caraway seeds and they were plentiful, and usually are, in Italian sausage. That's all I have to say about that.

But, there is more...

Looking ahead to next week's menu, I'm afraid I'll have to peter out on this F$. Since chicken is off my plate, so to speak (yeah, I'm witty baby!) and the next week is poultry heavy, I'd have to substitute (more) and somehow it just doesn't feel right. So... I'll try to finish off with what's left and I have a fabulous wrap-up post planned to share about the entire experiment. Stay tuned :)

I'll be back...

Friday, March 5, 2010

Where can I get good Alligator broth?

I went for Allergy testing this week and out of 300+ foods that they tested me for, I'm allergic to one. A single food. Chicken. I thought the Dr. was teasing me, but no, it's true.

My sweet friend Sarah offered up a solution, which of course made me laugh right out loud - Alligator broth :) Of course, she's kidding (I think). But really, what will I use for soup now?

At the appointment I told the Dr. "No, I don't eat chicken, I don't really like it." Then I thought about it and I had been using cans and cans of broth for soup lately, almost every day for months. When I got home I pulled open the fridge and right there in front of me was a package of Hormel pre-cooked chicken breast. Oh. Now I remember, I discovered that a couple months ago and thought it was a little miracle in a box.

See, I hate raw chicken. It gives me the heebie jeebies and I can't cook it unless I'm wearing disposable rubber gloves and it's garbage day so I can get rid of all the wrappers right away. Then I flood the kitchen with Lysol (remember how I said I was not loving the raw poultry on my F$ experiment?).

Until now, I thought it was just some weird irrational quirk. Yesterday, I decided it was my subconscious keeping me from something I was allergic to. It was successful until Hormel invented that yummy cooked stuff so I could rationalize eating it. Darn.

It's kind of like gluten to me. I never really liked pasta or bread, in fact I would eat the toppings off the pizza and leave the crust, I'd douse on twice the pasta sauce to gag down the spaghetti and I'd eat the insides out of sandwiches and leave the bread. In college we had a joke about how I ate chocolate chip cookies - that you might as well just give me the chocolate without all the icky cookie bits. Needless to say, I got scolded for wasting food and laughed at for that "quirkiness" that was part of my charm. Mom felt really guilty for that when I was diagnosed with Celiac.

The moral of the story is, if you don't want to eat something and it gives you the heebie jeebies just tell people you're allergic to it - it's probably true.

Also, go do allergy testing if you can. It gave me great peace of mind about what was causing me issues and also what's not!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Black Bean Chili - Day 18

Oh boy, am I a sucker for black bean chili. I usually slack off and just dump a can of beans and some salsa together with a side of warm corn tortillas. I'm a simple chef, remember? :)

This recipe was a little more complicated than that and called for actual spices and celery of all things. WOW! What a difference! It tasted fresh and bright instead of my warm and muddled concoction I've known and loved for so long. Will I be able to go back or will I always keep a stalk of celery in my fridge just for those black bean chili days?

P.S. this is the black bean chili mentioned on the menu from 2 weeks ago that has been calling to me all day long. I'm so happy right now!!

P.P.S. would the chili be even better slow simmered on the stove or in the crock pot (I used the microwave)?

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Adventuring in Dining out - I dream of non-contamination

I've been looking for restaurants to go to lately. I want to eat out once in a while, especially when I have company so I don't have to cook and clean!

I dream of restaurants that are truly gluten free and I wonder why they aren't popping up. I mean, it's not like people without gluten intolerance couldn't eat there...

Anyway, here's my report out from good to bad:

Chipotle: I can't sing the praises of Chipotle enough. Their allergen statement is short and sweet - like I like it! All of their food is gf except the flour tortillas and they do that "fwap" with the stuff so crosscontamination hardly even concerns me. I ask them to put on clean gloves before they make mine and I'm happy. Extra kudos on the Organic options! Unnatural food chemicals will be the demise of us.

Jason's Deli - has an allergen report online: and the staff was very helpful. Luv them! I ordered a build-your-own sandwich, w/o bread of course, and it's great. Where else can you get pastrami, corned beef, sauerkraut, mustard, organic spinach, lettuce, tomato in a box - hot meat, cold veggies. MMMMM!!!
True story: I ordered meals to be delivered to my office by 5:00 pm so I could take them home to my family for dinner. The guy that delivered told me he specifically reviewed the book for me too and took out a dressing I'd ordered that isn't safe and replaced with with gf ranch. So, I luv him too. I'm happy to report one time/life saving discovery for me!! Plus, if you order online you get deli dollars to redeem for free food (Yay!)

Outback: Duh! I think anyone stepping into a gf website probably got tipped off that Outback has a gf menu, and has to some extent for a while. I luv me a fat juicy steak and a cheesy baked potato. Hold the bread!! We ordered ‘Take Away’ on a Saturday night for the fam and I’m happy to report it was ok. They forgot one of our sides, which seems to happen often when you order takeout from anywhere, but the food was good. We tried the gf brownie dessert and it was addictive.

Starbuck's: Ok, so they don't exactly qualify as a dinner type place but, their drinks can have as many calories and protein (if you get soy milk) as a meal...and now they have gf cookies, fruit snacks and some of their packaged foods are potentially safe like the fruit and cheese platter. You have to call their customer service line to find out about allergens, but the employees in the store will let you read the ingredients on everything including the syrups & milk. Yes, I asked to read the ingredients on the soy milk before I'd drink it!

Boston Market: Nice Allergen List online: I like what I see and have had 2 good experiences with them. I say Yes! It helps that I LUV creamed spinach and their poultry gravy is gf - hard to find gf gravy!

Chili's: posts Allergen Info: I'm encouraged, the entree warning says "w/o sides" but they list the safe sides, so I'm thinking you could make a decent choice. This goes on my list of places to try on a Friday night. p.s. there's one really close to my house - bonus!

Wendy's: has a gluten free list: It's mostly condiments but I was happy to see that I can have Frosties. And the salads are pre-made, that makes me feel safer since the croutons etc are in separate packages. I'll go there in a pinch.

And the bad…

Burger King: Has a Gluten Sensitive List: So if all you are hungry for is packets of sauce… Me? Nix! Sorry BK isn't doing it my way.

Carrabbas: Publishes a gf menu: but the catch is you have to ask them to make your food without "grill baste". I nixed them based on the fact they have no dedicated gf grill. My logic is that if everything is basted with some gluteny goop and cooked on the same grill as my food, even if they don't add extra goop, I'm getting contaminated. The only things on the menu mostly ok are 3 salads and I'm sorry, as good as the Fiorucci sounds, if my dinner mates are eating Sirloin Marsala, I'm going to be a very grumpy girl unless I have several glasses of wine. Neither will turn out well.
I did try them for take out a couple months ago and it did not settle well with me – now I have an idea why.

Macaroni Grill: A friend of mine who has Muniere's disease suggested this to me based on her experience there. They accommodated her special requests (none of which include Gluten btw) so I decided to check out their menus. Surprise! They have an allergen report too:

Nixed! When I saw all the "w/o" notes, I just couldn't imagine trying to make that all clear to a waitperson that's paid $2/hour on a busy Saturday night and expect any kind of success. I'm not that lucky. I mean, if they can't make risotto and goat cheese gf (these things are naturally gf!) I'm not eating there.

McDonalds: They may have best intentions but, NIXED! Online you can look at ingredients lists galore but I'm not that desperate or have enough time in my life to work it out!

Johnny Carinos: GF Menu: but the items on it describe angel hair pasta...Umm - what? I called and confirmed - they do not serve gf pasta - it's a hoax y'all!

Applebee's: My Mom loves Applebees (at least while she was in Oklahoma). Sorry Mom, they don't post allergens on line. They are falling to the bottom of my list.

TGIFridays: posts no allergen info online or even a FAQ statement. nix.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Pasta and Navy Bean soup- day 16

It's nice to have pasta on the menu, although it can be a little pricey. I like Tinkyada rice pasta because I can get it at the grocery store. I've heard about corn pastas but haven't tried them yet because I don't really go out of my way to find stuff. Also, I try to limit corn because I heard it's one of the highest GMOs and is in everything so I really don't want to O.D.
Once again, Newman's marinara. I am really diggin this stuff!

So, we are a smidge over halfway in this month on F$ and I have to say. I haven't been hungry once, there's been a nice variety of foods and it's been super relaxing to be told what to eat every day. This has been a little dream come true for me.

I have found a few foods that don't agree with me and has led me to make an appointment with an allergy specialist. I'm hoping that will help me solve some seemingly random issues. Scary to think I'll have to give up more foods but hopeful that I may have perfect health again soon.

On to the real story today though. Navy Bean soup with ham. Soup is good, I luv soup! I cheated and made this in the microwave and used canned beans. I couldn't imagine making 12 servings of this, simmering for hours...I really don't have the time. Sorry if you're disappointed in me, but it would have been much less frugal for me to have to toss half of this soup in the trash, no?

As it was, I had LOTS of leftover anyway!!
My last confession - I used Bacon instead of ham hocks (once again frugality on my part).

Once I'm done with this experiment, I'm going to have a nice pan of gf brownies, or maybe cupcakes. I have been missing sweets! Not dying without them, but it is one of those things I enjoy from time to time.