Showing posts from 2012

Product Reviews: A Bread Like Any Other, or Not

Breads are made for gluten -- at least, the spongy fluffy sliced kind are. I know naans and flatbreads and tortillas that are much better sans gluten, and I enjoy onigiri as much as the next. But loaves are a wheat-inspired dream. They rise and stick and stretch because of that indigestible protein, gluten.

That said, gluten free breads have come along. And I'm going to review two today.

Firstly, Udi's -- the current go-to for most gluten-free folk and celiacs.
Old packaging there.

Anyhow, Udi's has gotten a name for being the best in terms of quality, texture, taste, nutritional value, and surprising and often-unachievable lightness. (You may or may not have tried breads prior, but though distinct in flavour and seedcake chewy, rice breads were heavy-heavy-heavy. Rather like lead if it could be turned to grain, ground, and baked, with a nice sweet under-taste.)

Udi's is an excellent choice, though a bit too light and airy to replicate peanut butter and on honey on thi…

Recipes: Cranberry Almond Cookies

After an age of rushing around like a hare with its ears in a bee-hive, I've left this another month without a blink or quip.

I've had heaps of gluten free and celiac experiences, not to say recipes. But today, I'll keep it simple.

It is the holidays. Channakuh, Christmas, in particular. Cookies are huge, and so is baking. But these happy days are also hugely full of gluten; and the cookies plates at parties are the last place I want to be as a celiac. In fact, I tend to get fed up -- not literally -- with food this time of year, at least the festive sort, because it takes so much time to make something for all or any occasion, so much money to buy something (often sub-par), and an inescapable discomfort to explain to every acquaintance why I'm not stuffing cookies.

Do you know, it is NOT a fad diet. I cannot eat your cookie. Thank you. It might kill me.

Sometimes, more important than food, is friends. It's easy to mix food up with feelings -- food is surrounded by …

The Hiatus Unintended -- And Other Plans That Weren't


Before I go on about anything, accept my apologies for the unplanned disappearance of months. I was ill, and then travelling -- and my work keeps my scribbling at a pace that some times drowns all outside opportunities peck out even the slightest comments on gluten-free scavenging.

An unintended -- but more welcome -- consequence of the travelling side of my absence was picking up a bootload of brilliant gluten-free survival strategies. I am celiac, and there is no restaurant set up for me. Well, perhaps a few. (Chocolatree in Sedona, AZ, may be one of the very few, and Cloud 9 in San Juan Capistrano, CA.) Only they aren't dotted out on a map conveniently, nor half as available as the ubiquitous Starbucks, McDonalds, or if travelling in Japan or China, Singapore or Thailand, wheat-filled noodle-stands.

But I found two things that made two-weeks of wild-mayhem-sort-of-travel affordably, fairly peacefully, doable -- (er, without starving too. Excellent thing to avoid.)


Recipe: Thai-Style Quesadilla

As a quick and easy to assemble lunch or dinner--also delicious--this recipe has no equal. I recently made these thai-style quesadillas for friends, and everyone to the last and least gluten-free of the bunch devoured them and asked for more. It's a cheap meal, satisfying, and although not peanut-free, it can be nearly everything-else-free.

Fusion-food has gotten a leg-up recently, and this a perfect example of it at its best.

Thai-Style Quesadilla  [ gluten-free, corn-free, optionally dairy-free ]

(1 serving per tortilla; dbl all other ingredients for each added tortilla)

1 rice tortilla (Trader Joe's Brown Rice Tortillas; although Food For Life work as well)

For inside spread:

1 tbs crunchy peanut butter (TJ's Organic Crunchy PB with Sea Salt)
1 tbs. GF Tamari Soy Sauce
dash sugar / pinch stevia (I generally use stevia)
pinch lime zest OR 1 tbs. lime juice
1 tbs. chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 c. shredded carrot and zucchini
1/4 c. roughly chopped cashews
pinch ginger
pinch ch…

Recipes: Quick-Fix Granola

I miss granola. I grew up between States, between countries, noshing on Trader Joe's Orange Granola, and it brings to mind summer days, canvas bags, the Pacific ocean and sea-brine smell on the air.

But anyhow, that granola is out gluten-free-wise. And I think it may be out Trader Joe's-wise.

That said, I improvised an easy muddle of ingredients a few weeks ago to take on my stint as a camp counselor. It is dairy-free, peanut-free, oat-free and corn-free.

Vanilla-Date Granola

1/2 cup shredded zuchini
1/8 cup toasted/puffed amaranth
1/4 cup teff flour
2-4 shredded/roughly chopped dates
1 tbs oil of choice (or, as I used the first time, the skimmings off the top of a newly opened Once Again Almond Butter)
1 tbs vanilla extract
1/4 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
1 tbs other GF flour (I used buckwheat the first time, amaranth the second: amaranth is a sweeter, nuttier taste)

Mix roughly until well-combined--all flour should be nicely lumped into balls and pieces. Spread flat on p…

Shoestringing It: Like a (GF) Boss

Most people trying to eat gluten-free know the cost--either in time or money, if not both--can be a bit more than eating with the rest of culture, gung-ho, unconscious, and full of whatever's thrown at them.

Personally, I would say that the cost in time more than repays the person taking it--to eat consciously and peacefully is a habit that pays out like anything. But the remainder of the coin shelled out doesn't have an immediate payback. After all, what do you get out of paying triple for hot dog buns, and spending an extra hour driving to the shop that sells them? (Er, perhaps character-building patience practice and acceptance of life-as-is?)
Then there's the question: Can I really afford $6 buns, when ordinary wheat ones cost $1.50, and I've got to buy sausages that are GF to stick in them?
In all honesty, I am DIRT POOR. I haven't got the cash to toss about on new-fangled faux-wheat GF baked goods, breads, new breeds of granola and tiny packages of specially …

It's Not My Life, It's My Life!

I skipped on to Facebook a week or so ago to find this: 

Udi's has done an extraordinary job getting gluten-free out of the mud-buckets of soggy, silty rice bread and peculiar co-op vegan groceries (though I haven't anything against the latter, and nothing against the former if it's in bread pudding or a joke)--but I had an immediate reaction to this banner.
Gluten-free is not my life.  Because  I have a life, I can be gluten-free, and because I can be gluten-free, my quality of life has improved tremendously. But my quality of life devolves with the rapidity of a pool party in a lighting storm when gluten-free--solely and inescapably--becomes my life.
This may sound a little odd--it would have sounded a little odd to me when I was first diagnosed with Celiac disease. At that point, I was so desperate and on-edge, being gluten-free struck me as the be-all and end-all. It drove  me to tears, and new recipes and new brands made me jig; and I planned happily--and sometimes no…

Fellow Bloggers: Spunky Coconut!

Beautiful blog for sweets, inventive flour combinations, and, well, spunk!

The Spunky Coconut

Breakfast, Lunch, Afternoon Tea? Dinner, Supper--

Pippin: "What aboutelevenses?Luncheon?Afternoontea? Dinner? Supper? He knows about them, doesn't he?" 

That was always a favourite quote of mine from The Fellowship of the Ring. And it is the perfect segueway into a recipe that can be a breakfast, elevenses, lunch, afternoon tea, snack--even a dinner or supper if one has the taste for it.

It is an Almond Butter Chocolate Quesadilla (sans cheese, unless one has a bit of cream cheese and can manage dairy).

It is gluten-free, dairy-free, peanut-free, and soy-free.

It makes an excellent easy-packed lunch, or a quick breakfast especially. I like using Trader Joe's rice tortillas, although Food For Life makes a comparable product. (Only be warned: Gluten Free Watchdog has tested various batches of FfL tortillas, and found three to be well over the 20ppm gluten levels.)

Almond Butter Chocolate Quesadillas

1 rice tortilla
1-2 tbs almond butter (Once Again or Maranatha Raw Crunchy)
1 tbs cocoa powder
dash stevia
1/2 tsp vanilla extract…

Pancake, Sandwhich, Fruit, Waffle or Cracker Toppings

I enjoy chocolate. I briefly fled it, as one of many things I feared might also contribute to my feeling ill-- in fact, I ran away from a lot of foods I had previously enjoyed even after diagnosis, with the vague idea that if I got all the foods I ate perfectly ordered, simple, GLUTEN FREE, and...some amorphous idea of SAFE, I'd be all right. Forever.

This is an illusion. Even if I control everything, I really don't control everything, and I lost my enjoyment of food, of life for a while in that fear. Because ultimately, it was fear that made me think there was ever a right way to eat, as opposed to a gluten free flexible and curious way to eat.

That's my opener. Now to the recipes. Home-made is often best-made especially when it comes to being celiac, because the ingredients are right there, and the kitchen is right there, and one knows what is going in, and what will come out (at least gluten-free-wise).

For the Pancakes I've posted, and Crackers, and Others, I like …

Recipe: Coconut-Teff Sweet Crackers ! (or breakfast flakes)

Coconut-Teff, and a new recipe!

I don't miss pancakes much because I always felt like I'd eaten lead and been hit in the back of skull after eating them, and then had a day of gut-scraping pain.

But one day I felt like experimenting, and I made the  the above. I thought I had posted my pancake recipe previously, I but I haven't--anyhow, if making pancakes, ignore the notes on how to make crackers. But in this one, I added extra zucchini after skilleting the first few (as shown), and water. When I had a nice smooth batter  - rather watery - I dolloped it on to wax paper in silver dollar-sized rounds, and set the oven for 400F.

They take 20mins to 1/2 an hour, and I let them sit another few in the oven with the heat off. They end up crispy and delicate, and if you don't want to use them as crackers, you can also crumble them into flakes. As flakes, they're sweetish-to-chewy (in milk) cold cereal, and satisfying.


Eating Out--After Three Years or So

I was gluten'ed horribly about a month or so ago, and it still feels uglier in my gut that I'm used to. The fact that I spent the worst week of it in denial, and terrible depression, didn't help much, but wasn't surprising all in all: I didn't want to think I'd been gluten'ed when I couldn't imagine where it happened.

All that aside--I'll post on cross-contaminants, house-sitting, and the myriad elses elsewhere--I got the chance to go out to eat this past weekend. As an emphatic note: I trust no one with my food. I do not trust Z Pizza and their half-cocked sometimes trained cooking staff, and shared ovens; I do not trust arbitrary little Mexican places; I don't trust the cafe staff not to dribble crumbs in tea or coffee (and I bloody well don't trust Domino's, all good intentions aside). But I had read Laura's post at Gluten Free Traveller that--in her meanderings a travers le monde--she had stopped in Santa Monica California, and b…

And How to Navigate the Family Food & Fun

Forgive my gap in posts. I had the ill-luck to run into pneumonia immediately following a bad mix-up of foodstuffs involving my roommate / landlady, and since I have no internet at home, I wasn't even able to blog from the semi-fog of gluten'ed and ill.
But that's an easy segue into an apt Celiac topic, especially this Easter Sunday: Sharing kitchen space, and holidays.
Holidays can be bloody fraught with anxiety when one has Celiac, or any food intolerance. Although I could go into detail like so many foxes in a log, I think the most salient point is simple: feelings aren't facts, but how we treat them are.
Acknowledge the worry, bad memories, weird family dynamics (of which there are often many), and once you've given yourself the affirmation, move on to what you can do.
In the past, I've made a list.
I can't control others' attitudes or actions; I can ask for what I need.I can't remove all possibility of gluten at a family/friend's/acquaintance…

Half-Second Coconut Cookies!

I've noticed gluten free baked goods often have hellishly harrowing recipes, full of three bowl sytems, dried ingredients here, other dried stuffs there, and then wet (which is also a chemistry experiment in timing and temperatures) are off over there, in a third bowl. Stuff you've never heard the name of before? Xanthan what? Arrowroot powder? Is it the same as tapioca? And then the moment where you squint at the fine print, and think, oh Thor and Odin, are there beans in my cookies?

I never saw the point of all that fuss. Gluten-filled cookies are lovely if they don't sear the villi out of your gut, but gluten-free cookies are just as good, and they don't have to be precisely the same sort of good, the same taste, or any of the aforementioned.
In fact, since I was diagnosed, I've found I make a lot better finished product by experimenting, and sticking to simple, whole, and GF ingredients.
These thumb-sized cookies are a perfect blend of flavour, lovely texture, …

I Simply Can't

...well, cook constantly and post it all.

But this does mean I can post a list of excellent other internet resources. Though I cook and bake GF on a shoe-string, a few of these fellow bloggers have the time, as well as the funding, to use less Lenten ingredients.

Try Fine Cooks Mum Cooks GF>, who posts up a whirlwind of all-kinds of various in recipes, breakfast, lunches, dinners, etc. I believe she's based in the San Diego area, and thus, not too fare from my current location.

Another excellent resource is Carol at Simply Gluten Free, who also adds constant gluten-free giveaways to her content.

(More to be added.)

Recipe: In Need of Cinnamon and Sweet

( and possessing a passal of pears )

Sometimes, a part of me really misses sticky buns. Mostly, no, because I never felt well after eating them, but there is something naturally wonderful and warming about cinnamon, and chewy pastry.

Well, it's true, Udi's makes a fairly good cinnamon roll, and there are other local businesses that bake purely gluten-free baked goods (Cloud 9 located off of Rancho Viejo Rd. in San Juan Capistrano is one). But as a freelance writer and student, I don't carry the coin to afford the prices of pre-made GF sweets, and I like them in small amounts.

That being said, I began experimenting one morning. It was the usual sort of experiment: necessity based. I had run out of my homemade frozen waffles, and was looking at a single egg, and a drawer full of pears for breakfast. But I also had some Udi's burger buns stuffed into the back of the freezer from the JOY MISSION promotion and donations drive the company had right before Christmas.


The Breakfast Portable, Da?

[ re-blogged, from 2011 ]
[...] this is a recipe post. Sometimes, a portable breakfast is fairly necessary. But I don’t like how I feel when I rake myself along the edge of short-time, rushing. And as I need to eat gluten-free, eating out is nearly impossible safely and affordably.
Anyhow, this is an excellent solution to needing something quick, gluten-free, and good.
CORN BREAKFAST QUESADILLAS …sans cheese, so mansanadillas
2 corn tortillas ( Food for Life makes the most excellent sprouted corn tortillas) 1 tsp honey 1/2 banana 1/2 apple vanilla extract (optional)
Spread one tortilla with nut butter, and slice apple and banana over it. Spread the other with honey. Drip a bit of vanilla over the fruit side, if you want. Then comes the convenient multiple-prep options: either 1) cook in a frying pan a few minutes, or until browned, each side or 2) place in a toaster oven, and set to mid-high toasting range, flip about half-way through.
It makes an excellent, non-spillable, eat-with-one-hand s…

In the Hole: Dulcitas Gluten-Free Desserts

About a week ago, out shopping at Hanson's Market and I had the luck to run into a woman, arms bundled full of berry-bright, brightly packaged tarts. Now, usually this wouldn't be such a joy. In fact, occasionally those sort of run-ins are downers, as I glance at labels and note the first ingredient: UNBLEACHED WHEAT FLOUR.
To my surprise, these little buggers were pasted prominently with GLUTEN FREE stickers. We had a brief talk, as I told her my background, and she told me she was the mother of gluten-free tart-baker, whose business-beginning with cupcakes and catering of a Latin flavour--was moving into the gluten-free market.
"Are they baked in a dedicated gluten-free kitchen?" I asked, after hearing that the cupcakes were conventionally wheat-full and celiac-unsafe.
No, she said, but apparently the gluten-free products were baked on a set aside date, and after the entire kitchen had been cleaned out the day before.
(Being on the sensitive side to any contamination o…

A Beginning from Old Ends

Ciao a tutti!

I am a Celiac student and freelance writer, currently living in the Southern California region of the United States. I've been through a longhaul of a journey with Gluten-freeing myself. I can tell you, it is a longhual. I've re-learned how to eat, and reprogrammed my fear-responses in the brain not to fizz-out at any crumb, meal, or eating situation--which they did for quite a while.

A curious aspect I've found in the gluten-freeing is the identity facet: being ill, having one's meals utterly wiped out, learning a new way to live--all of this seems to change a person's self concept. Whether one is diagnosed gluten sensitive, celiac, or wheat allergic, the label sticks like GIG seal on GF bread, and I personally felt at times that I was reduced to a puddle, dribbling CERTIFIED GLUTEN FREE all over the floor. I couldn't go out for pizza; I couldn't join a friend's family for dinner--I always had to ask, before snacking: 'Is it glut…