Eliminate the negative..the elimination diet

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Watch my YouTube video on a step by step guide to doing the elimination diet here:

How to do an elimination diet

Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional, nor do I play one on TV.  Consult your doctor before making any serious decisions about your health. 

Every so often, I post something that really resonates with people.  A couple of days ago, a follower asked me how to find out if gluten was really his issue.  My post about getting sick when I went out to dinner prompted him to tell me he got sick the last couple of times he went out.  I replied to him that it might have been the pancakes he ate.  I told him about avoiding gluten and dairy, and he asked me how.

I told him about the elimination diet.  I gave him a brief overview, but I would like to give a bit more detail on how to go about it.

First, you want to ask yourself, do I really have symptoms of celiac or gluten intolerance, or am I just doing this because it’s “in” right now?  If the answer is the latter, then please read no further.  This is not for you.

This is how I did it.  Your mileage may vary.  If you are not sure, please consult a nutritionist, or  medical professional.

Continue reading

Gluten Free Gravy deconstructed

I have to admit, it has taken me most of my adult life to learn how to make plate-licking gravy.  For some reason, I never quite got the concept until very recently.

Making gluten-free gravy is the same as making regular gravy.  It is not any more difficult if you follow my method. 64ebd35771c869de4ddd018787617073.jpg If you have never been able to make amazing gravy before, I am going to break it down step-by-step for you.  I am also including a short video.

I used this method to make amazing gluten and dairy free applesauce gravy from my applesauce crockpot pork chops recipe.

There is only one thing you need to remember to make gravy: 1-1-1

One tablespoon fat- One Tablespoon flour-1 cup liquid

It’s easy to increase or decrease the amount of gravy, just add or divide by the cups of liquid.  So to make 2 cups, it would be 2-2-2 and so on.  Half a cup is 1/2-1/2-1/2.   DO NOT increase or decrease the amount of fat or flour.  They must be equal to make the roux.

Step 1

To make one cup of gravy, you will need:

1 Tablespoon of dairy free spread (if you want to, you can use butter or margarine if you are not dairy free)

1 Tablespoon of white or brown rice flour

1 cup of chicken or beef broth, or cooking liquid (this is optimum if you have it)

Salt, pepper and herbs of choice

1 large skillet or saucepan

wire whisk

large spoon or ladle

gravy boat (if desired)

Step 2

Heat your skillet on medium heat

Melt your fat of choice until it bubbles, but be careful not to burn it.

Sprinkle the rice flour evenly over the melted fat.

Whisk the flour and fat together, until there is no flour remaining.  You want to make a roux to thicken the gravy.   A roux is just a mixture of flour and fat used to make sauces and gravies.  Once you master making a roux, the possibilities are endless.  This is a key step, and absolutely necessary.  If the roux burns, throw it out and start over

If you want to incorporate onions or mushrooms, cook the onions or mushrooms in the fat first,  then sprinkle the rice flour over the cooked vegetables.  Proceed to Step 3.

Step 3

You want to measure out one cup of broth.  If the broth is not already warm, heat it in a glass measuring cup in the microwave for one minute.

Slowly pour the broth over the roux, about half at a time, and whisk, whisk, whisk.  This is really important.  You want to incorporate the broth into the roux and smooth any lumps.

Step 4

Slowly add the rest of the broth, and keep whisking.  The gravy will begin to thicken.  If the gravy is too thick, thin it out with water or broth, one teaspoon at a time.  If it is too thin, you can sprinkle additional rice flour into the gravy a teaspoon at a time, to thicken it.

At this stage, you want to add your herbs, spices and salt and pepper to your taste.

Simmer the gravy for a minute or two to remove the raw flour taste.

If you want to darken your gravy you can add Gravy Master

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GravyMaster® does not need to be refrigerated, store in a cool dry place.

INGREDIENTS:
CARAMELIZED SUGAR, CARAMEL COLOR, WATER, HYDROLYZED SOY & CORN PROTEIN, APPLE CIDER VINEGAR, SALT, SPICES (ONION, CELERY, PARSLEY AND GARLIC).
CONTAINS SOY.  PRODUCED WITH GENETIC ENGINEERING.
NO MEAT.  GLUTEN FREE.

Pour your gravy into a heated gravy boat (fill with hot water for about five minutes, then dump out the water)

Enjoy and pat yourself on the back!

That’s it!  It is not as complicated as you might think.  The next time you cook a pot roast in your Crock-Pot, don’t throw out that flavorful cooking liquid!  Make amazing gravy and surprise your family.

Please contact me with any questions.

 

 

 

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Aquafaba-cadabra

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Have you heard of aquafaba?

Aquafaba is the liquid left over after you drain a can of chickpeas.  So what can you do with it?

  • You can whip it using a hand or stand mixer.  It takes about 3-6 minutes for semi-stiff peaks.  Use cream of tartar to speed up the process
  • It can be used unwhipped as a vegan egg substitute
  • It can be whipped into vegan mayonnaise

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  • It can be used whipped to replace whipped eggwhite in recipes
  • It can be whipped into stiff peaks and made into a meringue

Surprisingly, it can also be made into butter.  Yes, you read that right!  And it is taking the web by storm!

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The recipe is called Nina’s aquafaba butter.  Here is the adapted recipe (This is a Danish website):  You can find more information on storage, etc, by clicking on the link to her website.

NINA’S VEGAN AQUAFABA BUTTER
Simple vegan butter with no special ingredients. If you sterilize your utensils with boiling water first, you prolong the shelf life of the butter – which should be about 7 days. You want the aquafaba to be slightly chilled and the oil to be around room temperature when you mix them.  It takes about five minutes to make.
Makes: 1/2 Cup
INGREDIENTS:
  • 3 tbs (45 ml) aquafaba(yes, it’s chickpea water)
  • 1/3 cup + 1 tbs (1 dl) coconut oil (I prefer virgin coconut oil but you can taste the coconut. Odourless coconut oil will make it VERY buttery)
  • 1tbs + 1tsp (20 ml) cold pressed rapeseed oil, canola or olive oil or a similar oil that you like the taste of. Or try a blend!
  • 2/3 tsp Apple cider vinegar or freshly squeezed lemon juice (or if you have, 1/8 tsp of lactic acid)
  • 1/3 tsp salt
METHOD:
  1. Let the coconut oil melt gently until it’s almost all liquid. Remove the pan from the heat and let the rest melt. Add your rapeseed or other preferred oil. Let the oil mixture cool to room temperature.
  2. Pour the (just under room temperature cold) aquafaba in a narrow container with the salt and vinegar. Start blending it with an immersion blender/stick blender.
  3. With the blender running, slowly pour the oils in, all while making sure all oil thoroughly incorporated before you add more. It should take a couple of minutes to add all the oil and achieve a thick mayo-like consistency. (If you live in a hot area I suggest you place the container on a bag of frozen peas when pouring in the oil, to help the process along)
  4. If you taste test it, know that it will taste pretty salty and tangy. This will be numbed a bit when it has chilled and remembered, that you normally eat butter WITH something and not on its own (right?) so it will be easier to make final judgments when spreading it on toast…mmm…
  5. Pour it in a suitable container – DO NOT COVER IT – and put it in the fridge (or maybe a short while in the freezer if you’re in a hurry). It will take some hours for the butter to solidify, I recommend leaving it one night in the fridge.

    Store it in the fridge, especially if you live in a hot area. Depending on what blend of oils you used (unrefined coconut is softer than the refined one) you should be able to spread it directly from the fridge. Leave it on the counter for 15 minutes to make it even softer.

There are mixed reviews about this butter and aquafaba in general.  I have not tried using aquafaba, but I wanted to share this versatile, dairy free ingredient with you all so you can judge for yourselves.

Have you used aquafaba?  Leave a comment and let me know what you think!

Could your Celiac Disease be silent?

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Most people with Celiac Disease have horrific symptoms, such as diarrhea, constipation and abdominal pain, due to their reaction to the gluten protein found in wheat, barley and rye.  If biopsied, they almost always have intestinal damage.

But there are some that are diagnosed with Celiac Disease, but they have no symptoms.  They may have been screened as part of routine blood work, or they may have been screened because it is recommended if you have a close relative that was diagnosed with the disease.

If you do test positive for Celiac Disease, and you do not have symptoms, it is called “silent”, or asymptomatic Celiac Disease.  It is often found when someone tests positive for thyroid disease, and they are referred for further testing.

Even though you may not have symptoms, gluten can still do severe damage to your intestine.  There are reasons why you should go gluten free, even if you do not experience symptoms.

We all know how difficult it can be to stick to a gluten-free diet.  If you don’t have symptoms, you might be tempted to cheat.  There are reasons why you shouldn’t.

The first reason is to safeguard your long-term health.  Continuing to eat gluten can lead to osteoporosis, malnutrition, infertility, and even some cancers.   Cheating can prevent the intestine from healing properly.

You may also go on to develop other immune diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis and psoriasis.  It has been shown that staying gluten free might help to prevent these from occurring.

The other reason is you might actually feel better.  An excerpt from Very Well Health states:

In a study reported at the 2011 Digestive Diseases Week conference, a Finnish research team looked at 40 subjects who had no digestive symptoms but who tested positive for celiac disease on a very specific celiac disease blood test. All also had some intestinal damage.

The researchers split the group in two, assigning half of the patients to a gluten-free diet and the other half to a regular, gluten-containing diet. They then tracked them for a year through surveys designed to evaluate both gastrointestinal symptoms and health-related quality of life.

The study found that survey scores — both in symptoms and quality of life — improved in the group following the gluten-free diet, while scores stayed the same in the group on the regular diet. In addition, levels of folic acid and vitamin B12 improved in the gluten-free group, but stayed the same in the regular diet group.

Even though the group following the gluten-free diet hadn’t noticed symptoms before, they reported seeing some minor symptoms — including reflux, bloating, abdominal distention and flatulence — clear up when eating gluten-free.

The researchers also performed repeat biopsies in both groups, and noted improvements in intestinal damage in the group eating gluten-free.

Sticking to the gluten free diet may show benefits in the long run, not only to your health, but your overall well-being.

When you lose a beloved pet

 

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Our sweet girl

 

Today, I am taking a break from writing my usual gluten free posts.  I am sad to say that this morning, our beloved cat, Trina, crossed the Rainbow Bridge.

We adopted her, and her brother, Trevor nine years ago from Petfinder.  We had recently lost an elder cat, and were wanting to get two cats together.

My husband saw Trina’s picture first and fell in love with her.   She had beautiful and really unusual markings.   Her brother, Trevor, really reminded us of a another cat we had lost.  He looked really impish and that he had personality.  But she just looked like a really sweet cat.

They had both been abandoned as kittens in a cardboard box in front of a shelter.  They were running around in traffic before they were found.  When we first met them, they were really shy and didn’t trust people.  We adopted them a couple of weeks later.

When we first brought them home, they hid.  We then put them in a spare bedroom so they could feel safe.  It took a long time for them to trust us.  Trina was the first one to venture out and really take to us.

They moved with us from New Jersey all the way to Tennessee.  It was a harrowing trip for them as they had never really been on a long car trip.  We stopped at a motel overnight and Trina hid under the bed.  We could not get her out, and had to move the bed in order to get to her.  It was a stressful time for all of us.

Once they were here, they adjusted really well, and we settled into a life where they were spoiled every day.  We felt justified in doing so, since they had had a really rough early life.

About a month ago, she started showing signs of illness.  We had two cats previously, including the elder cat, who had developed kidney failure and she had that look about her.  She had lost weight, had stopped eating and grooming, and was very weak.  We made the very difficult decision to let her go, so that she would not suffer.

She was a sweet, loving girl who loved to sit with me on her favorite blanket, and insisted on being petted when she was eating. She would chatter away at us, and answer us back.

When you let a pet enter your life, you are not only taking on a responsibility, but you are letting that pet into your heart, where they will forever leave their footprints.

We will forever be changed, having had this wonderful girl in our lives.  We will miss her.

 

New Recipes Ebook coming soon….

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I’m working on my 2nd ebook full of my favorite recipes and cooking tips.  It will be available for download from this site in PDF and also through iBooks.

I will be sharing recipes for breakfast, main meals, side dishes, desserts and more!  I will be sharing tips on kitchen equipment, using your Crock Pot, using you Instant Pot, and more!

I am excited to share some of the best recipes I have found across the internet with you all.

If there is anything you would like to see included in this book, please let me know!

Free Baking Tips Ebook

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I am starting a series of ebooks with my best tips for free download.

My first ebook is full of my best gluten free baking tips.  I have learned a lot about gluten free baking through trial and error, and I want to share my expertise with you.   Click here for the link.

My ebook covers these topics:

  • the different types of gluten free flour and how to use them
  • cutting the sugar in gluten-free baked goods
  • substitutions for oil and sugar
  • how to convert bake pan sizes
  • holiday baking tips
  • how to  make mug cakes
  • and much, much more

If you’ve never baked gluten free before, I’ve got you covered!

Please share!

 

A Northern girl nails gluten free Southern biscuits (almost)

 

 

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I have tried numerous times to make decent Southern biscuits.  I am beginning to believe that it is a talent born in the South.  After many failures, I have almost nailed making decent Southern Biscuits, with the help of a recipe from Spinach Tiger.  You can find the recipe and video here.

In her video, she really explains step by step how to make really great gluten free biscuits.  After watching her video a couple of times, and contacting her on Instagram with some questions, I decided to give it a whirl.

I found that other recipes were really hard to work with.  Not so with this one.  I used the same flour, Bob’s Red Mill 1-1 gluten free flour, and also golden flax meal, which gives some texture and structure to the biscuits.  You can buy the Bob’s Red mill flour here.  Since I am dairy free, I had to leave out the ricotta cheese she uses in the recipe, but she says that the flax meal will make up for that.

I did weigh my flour as she suggested, and froze my dairy free butter for 15 minutes, after I cut it into cubes.  I mixed together one cup of coconut milk and one teaspoon of white wine vinegar to make dairy free buttermilk.  I mixed in one egg, and made sure the milk mixture was cold.  This is really important in biscuit making.

I mixed the dairy free butter in with my fingers.  I usually use a pastry blender, but in this case, I decided to try it the way she does.  It felt interesting.  The texture of the flour was really soft.  Besides, you can feel that the butter is cut in correctly.

She advised that the dough should be sticky.  Once I added all the liquid to the dough, it was really sticky.  Once I sprinkled flour over it, it was remarkably easy to pat out into a disk.  I used a biscuit cutter for the first time and cut out ten biscuits.  I admit I am a little lacking in biscuit cutting knowledge as some of them turned out a little wonky.  She did say to make sure they were all the same size, but at that point, I was focused on just having biscuits that looked and tasted like biscuits.  I brushed them with a little coconut milk to help in browning, then popped them into a 450 degree oven.

I baked the biscuits for 15 minutes.  I think they could have baked a little bit longer.  Unfortunately, the smaller biscuits were done before the larger ones.  They could have browned a bit more.  I also think I need to replace my baking powder as they didn’t rise as much as they should have.  But all in all, they turned out better than any other recipe I have tried.

She says to let them sit at least 15 minutes before eating them as they are gummy straight out of the oven.  I was anxious to try one, but I waited.  I have to say they are the closest I have come to real biscuits.  Yes, I need a bit of practice.  But I have a good foundation in this recipe.

She worked really hard perfecting this recipe, and I want to do it justice.  I will keep practicing cutting the biscuits.  The dough itself seems right to me.  I am tired of gluten free dough that is impossible to work with.  This dough isn’t.

I suggest you visit her site and try these for yourself.

 

 

My Instant Pot Pasta Adventure

Search online or on Youtube, and you will find a million recipes for pasta in the Instant Pot.   I have been avoiding making gluten-free pasta in the Instant Pot because as anyone who has eaten it knows it’s a whole different thing from regular pasta.  It can become mushy, and if cooked too long,  it can completely disintegrate.

I usually make a sausage bolognese in my crockpot, but last night I took a shortcut and made the entire thing in the instant pot, including gluten-free pasta.

I had a can of crushed tomatoes and a can of tomato paste on hand. Most of the recipes for pasta in the Instant Pot call for a jarred sauce, but I love a homemade sauce.  Canned tomatoes need to be cooked for a long time to mellow the acidity, but I didn’t want to spend all day cooking a sauce.  I came up with an easy stovetop sauce.  You can find the recipe here.

I cooked my sausage in advance.  I found that when I just put it raw into the Instant Pot, it just was too greasy.  You could brown it in the Instant pot, and pour off the grease if you like.

So with the sauce and sausage ready, I took a deep breath and proceeded to make Instant Pot spaghetti with sausage.  The most intelligent instructions I found on this was to use the same amount of water as crushed tomatoes ( a 28 oz can in this case) and cook the pasta half the time suggested on the box.  The Instant Pot cooks pasta much faster.  These were the instructions I followed.

To assemble the dish, I first put the cooked sausage in the bottom of the Instant Pot.

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cooked sausage in Instant Pot

Then I topped it with the sauce

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Homemade sauce in the Instant Pot

Next came the pasta, which I broke in half, per most recipes.  I used a whole box.

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Breaking up the pasta in the Instant Pot

Then,  I poured a can of water over it all.

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Pouring water over pasta in the Instant Pot

I pushed all of the pasta down into the liquid, making sure it was all covered.

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Submerging pasta in the Instant Pot

I then covered the instant pot, set it to sealing, and set the timer for five minutes.

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Setting the Instant Pot to sealing

After the five minutes were up, I let the steam release naturally for about five minutes, then vented the rest of the steam with a quick release.  This is what it looked like:

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Spaghetti and sauce

The sauce was really watery.  After stirring it all up, it looked like this:

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Spaghetti in the Instant Pot

Unfortunately, not all of the pasta was cooked.   I had clumps of uncooked pasta, which I removed.

Here is the final dish:

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So what do I think of Instant Pot pasta?  It was actually pretty tasty, but I had to remove a lot of uncooked pasta.  I think using less, maybe half a box, would work better.  I don’t think gluten free pasta works as well as regular pasta would.  The sauce was really watery.  I actually let it simmer for a few minutes to thicken it up.  Of course, the starch from the pasta thickened it the longer it sat.  But all in all, it was better than I expected

Would I try this again?  Maybe……maybe not.  Let me know what you think.

 

Super Fluffy Omelette — Flavor Smasher

Super fluffy omelet shared from one of my favorite blogs, Flavor Smasher.  I have to try this!   Click on the link to her site to play the video, and to read more.

 

 

 

Happy Thursday everybody 😀 and today is a breakfast kind of day! I decided to surprise my husband with a delicious breakfast, so I found this fluffy omelette video and wanted to share it with you guys. Oh my gosh it was so yummy. 😛 We shopped up turkey bacon and filled it with that […]

via Super Fluffy Omelette — Flavor Smasher

You know you’re in the South when it’s fried, smothered or swimming

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We love living in Tennesse.  Rolling green hills, peepers chirping, birds singing…..it’s a peaceful, amazingly beautiful place.  We live right near the woods, so we see a lot of wildlife.  But when it comes to dining out, it can be a gluten and dairy intolerant person’s nightmare.

I noticed this on our first visit here, when we were thinking of relocating from the Northeast.  We went out to lunch and dinner at Cracker Barrel, Waffle House, and a few other places well known to the South.  I found it challenging to find something safe to eat, because it was either fried, smothered in cheese, swimming in butter or a combination of the three.

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Cracker Barrel

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Once you remove the cheese, butter and breading, there is little left to titillate the taste buds.  Even if I could get something grilled, like chicken or salmon, it was often accompanied by vegetables drowning in butter.  Although I would stress that I wanted everything cooked or served with olive oil, it often came buttered anyway.  It’s hard to tell butter from olive oil on the plate, and I admit I got sick a few times.

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Waffle House Texas Bacon Cheesesteak Melt

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Cracker Barrel Southern Bowl

It’s not easy finding something to eat at these restaurants.  Looking over the allergen menus for gluten and dairy, there is not much left once you remove both allergens from the food list.  Wheat is in everything my friends.  Even things it shouldn’t be in.  Dairy is not only cheese.  Milk is hidden as well.   Cross-contamination is always a possibility.

Looking at the menus, you can see what I mean:

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Cracker Barrel menu

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Waffle House menu

Breakfast is easier than lunch.  Eggs are always a possibility.  But lunch is almost impossible, and dinner is just plain to be avoided at all costs.

There is a lot to love about living in the South.  I just can’t eat here.