Monday, January 30, 2012

Who are the people in your neighborhood?

In my previous post, I mentioned our cashier, Sarah. She can tell by the groceries in our cart whether or not our boys will be home, if we're trying out a new recipe AND that we follow a gluten free diet. She's not the only one at our local store to notice. Several of the managers and baggers ask about the products we buy, and why we buy them, too. This weekly "educational" opportunity has turned into a blessing for one of their co-workers who was recently diagnosed with Celiac. Now, everytime they see a new product in my cart, they ask about it. When Thanksgiving came around, they asked me what products they could stock in the store that would make it easier for me (and her) to enjoy our holidays.
She and I exchange recipe ideas and taste-test horror stories, and I have several new blog readers lurkers. *Shout out to all my WRPers*

Educational moments pop up all over my neighborhood. I work in a local theme park as a sign language interpreter and there are goodies and snacks in just about every break room on property. I always graciously decline the offer of a cookie or crackers and dip..."It's not you, I'm gluten free."
Now I've worked with some of these folks for nearly 10 years so they've seen my ups and downs over the years so of course they ask..."does that help you?"
And so the educational opportunity begins...we talk food, we talk poop, we talk pain-free living...and inevitably someone says..."that sounds like me."
I'm quick to remind I'm no doctor, I don't even play one on tv (although one of my co-workers does), but if they're experiencing symptoms, it's worth a talk with their doctor. More often, someone says,"Hey, I know someone who has to eat GF"...and another lurker is born :)

We visit some local restaurants as a fam and all the servers know I'll be grilling them about their grilling techniques and what is in their sauces. We've frequent our regular haunts often enough that now they come to me..."hey we just got this in...try this new sauce and let us know what you sister's kid was just diagnosed with celiac, what's your blog link again?"

Heh...I just realized I made my neighborhood sound kind of creepy with a buch of lurkers loitering about ;)

The moral of the story?
Wear your GFness on your never know who is lurking about :)

a sweet litle side note...
I'm a CODA and grew up just loving Linda Bove on Sesame Street because she is Deaf, like my parents are, and because she was on TV, my house didn't seem quite so weird to the other kids on the playground. I had the opportunity to meet Ms. Bove when I interpreted a conference in Philadelphia...definitely took the opportunity to thank her for influencing kids everywhere, hearing and Deaf, that the "people in your neighborhood" are ALL people, whether they can hear or not.

And I'm sorry you're all singing this silly song now
well...not really sorry, but you know what I mean :)

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Put some FUN in your Green Beans!

Anyone who knows us, knows we like to give thanks...with all the trimmings :)
Our favorite time to grocery shop is right after Thanksgiving when turkeys go on sale. We buy a few and put 'em in the deep freezer so we can give thanks all year long.

crunch em up so they sprinkle!
 Well you also know that you can't have turkey without the green bean casserole...turkey and green beans are soul mates :) In the past, we've made our own french fried onions which turned out great, but can be a bit of a time suck if you're just having a turkey feast on any old weekday after work. This year, we decided to have a little more fun...FUNYUNS are Gluten Free and a perfect quick topping for a scrumptious green bean casserole.

Now I understand, something you buy in the processed, crap food aisle may not be your number one choice to sprinkle on your green beans. Sarah, our regular cashier, noticed them in our cart and gave me a raised eyebrow...but sometimes concessions need to be made for convenience sake :)

I don't really follow any specific recipe for my casserole

Mix in your Funyuns, bake at 350 for 45 min to an hr

  • 1lb or 2 of fresh green beans, snapped and quick boiled
  • 1 can of progresso cream of mushroom soup
  • 10 sliced baby bella mushrooms
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • as many crushed funyuns as you deem necessary, half mixed in, half sprinkled on top

Another hit with the fam...but this MAY be because they had funyuns to snack on afterwards :)

Try it out...let me know what you think :)

Thursday, January 26, 2012

More Bang for your Butternut Buck

I lurve me some butternut squash...but I always pass it up in the grocery store unless it's pre-cubed.
Well fear the squash no more, I did a little research in my Madhur Jaffrey cook book, and they're much easier to handle than I thought and were the star of two meals I made this month.

First, the prep.
Cut the stem from the bulb of the squash and peel.
Slice the peeled stem into 1/4 or 1/2 inch slices, then cube.
Scoop the seeds out of the bulb and peel and slice in the same manner.
*I did not peel and slice the bulbs as they inspired me to make a stuffed butternut squash bowl*

The cubed squash was used in a yummy winter curry I brought to a gathering of fellow staff from Ananda Yoga and Massage. Several of us follow a gluten-free diet and some are vegetarian and this was a great dish to share. It was also another excuse to use my tamarind concentrate and new mortar and pestle ~smile~

1 1/2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1/2 tsp black mustard seeds
1 1/2 cups chopped onion
3 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cayenne
4 cups cubed potatoes
4 cups peeled and cubed butternut squash
1 1/2 cups water or vegetable stock
1 Tbsp. tamarind concentrate
2 cups fresh chopped tomatoes
1 15-oz can chickpeas, drained
2 Tbsp chopped cilantro

Heat oil in a medium saucepan and add mustard seeds. Once the seeds pop, add the onions and saute until translucent.

In a small bowl, combine garlic, ginger, cumin, coriander, cardamom, salt and cayenne. When onions are translucent, add the spice mixture and cook 1 minute while stirring. Add potatoes, squash and stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and cook until veggies are barely tender (15 min).

In a small bowl, dissolve the tamarind in a few tablespoons of the hot cooking liquid then add to the vegetables. Add tomatoes, chickpeas and cilantro. Cover and simmer for 10 min.

Serve on rice if desired, add some plain yogurt or fresh cilantro to the top.

Now...what did I do with the squash bulbs?
Well I add this to my long list of "Mommy made it up" dinners.
I've been using this phrase, "Mommy made it up..." for years when I'm asked what's for dinner,  and my daughter will tell you, these MMIU recipes are the BEST dinners and she says I should write a book :)

Ingredients (to the best of my recollection)

3 squash bulbs, seeded (not peeled)
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
2 zucchini squash, cubed (not peeled)
1/2 cup chopped onions
1 Tbsp minced garlic
1 package shitaki mushrooms, chopped
1/4 c parmesean cheese

1 slice Muenster cheese
(check out these vegan cheese options)

Heat oil in medium sauce pan and saute onions and garlic until the house smells so good even the neighbors want dinner. Add zucchini and let cook for 1 minute, add mushrooms and parmesean cheese and stir to coat. Remove from heat.
before heading into the oven for an hour and half nap
Place 1/3 slice of Muenster cheese in the bottom of each squash bowl.
Stuff each bowl with mushroom mixture and cook at 350 degrees for 1 1/2 hour under ventilated tin-foil tent.

Let me tell you , this is UBER nom nom nom.
The squash cooks up just right and keeps all the other veggies moist during the cooking time. The whole fam enjoyed it and it's on the MTAL (make this again list)


Tuesday, January 24, 2012

An ode to Brinner, Pumpkin Pancakes

Today's post is en hommage to a friend and fellow blogger Jennifer. Several weeks back she posted a recipe for Pumpkin Pancakes that I just KNEW I had to convert to a gluten friendly version. They are super yum and although we had them for Breakfast on a special Sunday morning, they would definitely make a great Brinner (breakfast for dinner).

These are the ingredients from Jen's original recipe
  • 2 cups Bisquick
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 - 3/4 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup pureed pumpkin
  • 2 T sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1-2 dashes pumpkin pie spice
This is how I adjusted the recipe to be allergy friendly (not just gluten-free)
  • 2 cups Gluten Free Bisquick
  • 2 T ground flaxseed in 1/3 cup warm water
  • 1 1/2 - 3/4 cup Almond milk
  • 1/2 cup pureed pumpkin
  • 2 T sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1-2 dashes pumpkin pie spice

Blend all ingredients until well combined. note* I used more milk than the original recipe called for and this may be due to the nature of the GF bisquick,  but you can always start with less and add more as Jen suggested.

I cooked these in our cast iron skillet with a bit of butter to give them a nice crispy outside and they were a hit with the fam. Very tasty with a bit of syrup or agave nectar, and savory with a sprinkle of salt and they go either way and are a nice alternative to potato pancakes.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Everybody Poops

Everybody poops right?
At what age to we stop talking about poop? I mean, when you're born your mom talks about your poop all the time, heck your momma probably cheered for your poop...somewhere around the 22 month mark,  the word poop becomes taboo in conversation.

If you're anything like my family, scatological humor sneaks in to dinner conversation (or sneaks out as it were) sometimes and rather than chastise, I play along and heck, we have happy dinners.

Perhaps THAT's what made me less afraid to talk about poop when it came to my symptoms. My poop was the one thing doctors just couldn't "fix" when they tried their barrage of treatments for my symptoms. "Maybe that's your normal," they'd say.

Back to our regularly scheduled font.
So its come as no suprise to me these past few months that poop is a common theme in other people's symptoms too. People close to me, WHO KNOW ABOUT MY POOP...  and they never thought to ask if gluten could be an issue.

I declare 2012 TALK ABOUT YOUR POOP year.
If everybody does it, then it's not weird right
who may just learn something
maybe you'll learn too much...and I apologize for that...but on the premise of "erring on the side of WOO HOO I had a good poop"...I say talk about it and just do your best to forget the mental images that don't serve you.

If you've been living with abnormal poop
this may be diarrhea, this may be funky color, foul odor, weird consistency, texture, timing...whatever doesn't fall into an eat - poop cycle...then start talking about it.

The stool should be one, long smooth evacuation if the colon is not spastic, impacted, constipated or dehydrated. Each bowel movement should be in one piece, about the shape of a well-formed log, tapered at the end. Some websites say it should be of the size of a banana. From my experience, the product of a good, cleansing bowel movement is much longer, almost as long as two bananas end by end. This makes perfect sense because the stool should be an exact replica of the internal space of your colon.

You can talk to me about it...I'll keep it quiet email me.
talk to your doctor about it
talk to your walking buddy about it, your co workers, your spouse, your best friend
talk about poop

it's important
and it could just change the way you feel!

It's not Delivery, It's ...

What do you in your house when family has a hunkerin' for pizza and you're gluten intolerant?
I've finally found a make at home, frozen, gluten free pizza that fits the bill perfectly and satisfies my craving for a soft pretzel.

I think next time I'll add mushrooms :)
Against the Grain Gourmet frozen pizza comes in 12 inch sizes in 2 different flavors, Three Cheese and Pesto, or you can buy the crust and add your favorite toppings. The use fresh grated parmesean and mozarella and the sauces are very tasty. Put it in a pre-heated oven for 12 - 15 minutes and voila...your pizza is done before the delivery guy knocks on the door.

I sprinkle mine with a little salt and some curry powder all know how I feel about curry ;)

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Sometimes, you gotta have a smoothie

The hubs and I have developed a nice little smoothie addiction as of late. We've been Planet Smoothie fans for years and they have several gluten free options...but it's not always convenient to head out to our local smoothie place and NONE of them are open early enough for us to have them in the we experiment with our own.

We have a personal blender by Hamilton Beach that works better than ANY full size blender I've ever owned for crushing frozen fruit and giving a nice smoothie consistency.

Our recipe:
1 cup Naked Juice (check the label for gluten free options)
2/3 cup frozen fruit
1 banana
1 scoop RAW Meal


We were using Mila's chia seeds in place of the RAW Meal, but honestly the were a bit pricey and we like all the ingredients in the Garden of Life product and it's readily available at our local WFM. It does add some substance to the smoothie though, so I may switch to skim milk or a lighter juice to balance things out.

From the Garden of Life Website:
Containing 26 superfoods from RAW organic seeds, sprouts and greens, RAW Meal provides 34 grams of protein, 9 grams of fiber and a healthy 2.5 grams of fat making it an excellent choice for “weight conscious” individuals. RAW Meal also offers 20 Vitamin Code vitamins and minerals providing at least 100% of the Daily Value of 16 key nutrients.

Just as important is what’s NOT included in RAW Meal.  It is gluten-free, dairy-free and lactose-free. It has no fillers, no isolates, no synthetic nutrients, no artificial sweeteners and no preservatives.

We've decided, it's good stuff!
I've been reading some intriguing smoothie recipes lately...we have basil that needs to be harvested before it gets too cold here (yes it gets cold in Florida, last night it was 28 degrees!) So next week's menu includes a strawberry basil smoothie...I can't wait.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Yummy Hash and Perfectly Poached Eggs

If you follow my other blog, you've heard me rave about this recipe before...but I never actually posted the recipe. So, since it's what is for dinner tonight...and I have to wait for the water to boil...I'll catch you up to speed and you can add the ingredients to your shopping list!

Once again, another recipe from my favorite cookbook (are you seeing a pattern here?)
Potato and Asparagus Hash


5 cups peeled diced potatoes (1/2 inch cubes)
2 cups chopped fresh asparagus
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 cups diced onions (I use one cup of green onions and one cup of yellow onion)
2 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 tablespoon fresh dill
3 cups fresh spinach (this is a Popoff family addition to the recipe)

Bring 6 cups of water to a boil
Add the potatoes and cook for 5 minutes until tender but still underdone
Reserve the water and transfer potatoes to a large bowl.
Add asparagus to the still boiling water, cook for 2 to 3 minutes maintaining bright green color
Drain and add to the bowl of potatoes.

Add 1 Tbsp of the oil to a skillet and warm over medium heat
Saute onions, garlic salt and pepper until onions are golden
Add sauteed onions and dill to potatoes and asparagus, stir well

In a large nonstick pan, heat remaining tablespoon of oil.
Fry potato mixture in two batches for 5 to 10 minutes each until potatoes are golden brown.
Toss in spinach for final 1 or two minutes to wilt.

This was our first version...before we added the spinach to wilt
still yum!
Super yum topped with a perfectly poached egg!*

*reserve the water you used to boil the potatoes and asparagus and you won't have to wait to poach your eggs!

New Year's Black-Eyed Peas -- LOUDER!

so fresh you can still see it steaming
I wanted to make something other than our traditional Hoppin John and Cornbread so our family rang in 2012 with a kicked up version of a Black-Eyed Pea dish. Once again I turned to my favorite cook book  and opted for an Indian skillet with tantalizing spices that danced in the air as it cooked and had us all anticipating not only a good start to the year, but a GOOD dinner.

The recipe calls for tamarind concentrate, which I found at Whole Foods Market, but if you can't find it where you are, 1 to 2 teaspoons of fresh lemon juice can be used instead.

To save some time, you can use a good brand of canned black-eyed peas with no preservatives, I stumbled across some pre-soaked peas in the produce section of our local grocer that only required a 10 minute boil to be just the right consistency.

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 cup chopped onions
1 garlic clove, minced or pressed
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger root
1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne (we went with 1/4)
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup water
1 teaspoon tamarind concentrate
3 cups cooked black-eyed peas (rinsed and drained)
1/2 cup chopped fresh tomatoes
2 cups rinsed and chopped fresh spinach (we used whole baby spinach leaves)
The newest addition to our kitchen,
just in time to grind the coriander seeds
from last summer's cilantro plants.

Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat.
Add onions and garlic and saute until onions start to brown.
Add the ginger, cayenne, cinnamon, cardamom, coriander and salt and mix well.
~It starts to smell REALLY yummy right about now~
Stir in water, tamarind and black-eyed peas, cover and simmer for 10 minutes.
Add tomatoes and spinach, cook until spinach wilts.

Serve immediately over rice or on it's own.
We added a dollop of sour cream for a nice texture and cooling complement to the spices.