Wednesday, June 30, 2010

We Interrupt this Blog for an Important Announcement...

So, as I was tweeting about the little post I wrote below, I came across a tweet that led me to this article by the savvy celiac that talks about how the celiac industry is really coming into it's own in 2010, and how at a fancy food show lots of gluten free food vendors were present. Awesome, great, I'm so excited about that. However, the next sentence reveals that there is a gluten free version of this coming to shelves soon:

photo courtesy
What the? Have food manufacturers actually decided that mainstream gluten free products are worthwhile to produce and market nationwide! Yippee and hallelujah! I should mention that it's actually General Mills that is being so generous to us, and they're also introducing a gluten free version of...drum roll please...Hamburger Helper. That is all. I need to go lay down now.
Happy eating!

Fresh Salads with Fresh Dressings

What do you get when you take Dad's fresh homegrown lettuce, a simple mix of seasoning and a little avocado? Heaven in the summer, I tell you. It's no secret that my dad is a bona fide green thumb and grows the best vegetables in Davis County, but the simple fact that he will share with me is the real coup here. I've got nothing against store bought vegetables, but we all know that something about food grown on your own land is more satisfying and tastes a lot better for some reason. After I washed and dried the lettuce (an important step: you want the lettuce to be dry because then the vinaigrette will stick to the leaves and you can taste it) and sliced the buttery avocado, I whisked together the following:
2 tsp balsamic vinaigrette
1 clove minced garlic
pinch salt
pinch pepper
juice of 1/2 lemon
And then I whisked in about 2 T olive oil as I was pouring it into the bowl to emulsify the oil with the marinade. I poured it over the salad and gently tossed to coat the multicolored lettuce, which I tore instead of chopping so the leaves were nice and large on the plate. So easy and so delicious.
Another favorite summer salad of mine is coleslaw. Alright, I'll admit it, I like it in the winter too. Cabbage is just always available and it's always cheap. Watch, now that I've said that the bottom will fall out of the cabbage market for some freak reason and cabbage will be four dollars a pound. Knock on wood that cabbage stays cheap, because this is one of my mom's standbys that I'm always ready to eat year round, but eating it in the summer is so refreshing. I've had this with green and red cabbage, and I'm dying to try it with a good Napa cabbage one of these days. As you may have noticed by now, I'm a really picky person when it comes to certain vegetables and flavors. Let me list a few of my least favorites:
anise AND black licorice
sea bass
Now, there's only one of those flavors up there that would even remotely come close to being in contact with coleslaw. Celery only gets to come into my kitchen on Thanksgiving for stuffing, when I boil it into submission with a stick of butter. You can easily add some celery seed to this dish if you like to partake of it, but as for me, I really like the plain and simple slaw that lets the cabbage shine through in all of it's crunchiness.
Mom's Coleslaw
1/2 head cabbage, finely sliced or shredded
1/2 cup Best Foods light mayonnaise
1 tsp white vinegar
1 tsp sugar
pinch salt
pinch pepper
Place the cabbage in a large bowl. In a smaller bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, vinegar, sugar, pepper and salt. Pour over the cabbage and gently fold the sauce into the cabbage. Cover and let steep in the fridge for 1-2 hours so the flavors meld together.
That's it! Two easy summer salads. Perfect for hot muggy days when you are eating because you're bored. Hey, if you're going to eat mindlessly at least eat vegetables.
Happy eating!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Gluten Free Chicken Kebabs--Summertime and the Grillin' is Easy

You've gotta love summer. Not only do you not have to set the alarm clock (unless you have basketball camp and scout camp and pioneer trek, but who's counting), but you don't even have to turn on the oven for dinner unless you want to. I don't know about you, but I never want to, so we almost always have dinner on the grill in the summertime.
While perusing the butcher's section of the grocery store the other day, I noticed that they have premade kebabs with both chicken and steak on them that you can just plop onto the grill and bam, dinner's done. However, they come pre-marinated in a sauce that has no ingredients listed, so I'm always suspect of sauces like that. Chances are they're safe, but I never want to take chances. So I decided to make my own. Turns out they are one of my new favorite summer foods.
I waltzed right over to the produce section and picked out the cast of characters: red onion, yellow and green zucchini, red pepper, and huge mushrooms. I usually use my old favorite standby, Kraft Tuscan House Dressing, when I reach for a marinade, but I perused the ingredient lists and thought I'd give the Kraft Sun-Dried Tomato version a try. I got a package of chicken and went home ready to try out my kebab making skills.
All you need to know about kebabs is this: make sure your veggie cuts are chunky enough that they don't fall off the kebab into the fire during grilling. I slid everything onto a skewer and poured about 1/3 of a bottle of the dressing over the meat and veggies while they were resting in a 9x13 pan to soak in the flavor of the marinade. I turned them a couple of times during the half hour I let them soak in the refrigerator.
Then I heated up the grill and put them on over medium high heat for about 4 minutes per side. I think I turned them three times to other sides of the kebabs and every time I turned them I basted them with a little bit of the leftover sauce in the 9x13 pan. The first two times I turned them I shut the lid on the grill but the last turn I left it open so I could check to see if they were done. You can take them off when the chicken is cooked through and the juices run clear, and the zucchini is to your desired tenderness. It took about 12 minutes to cook them.
And wowee! What a meal! Grilling the vegetables really brings out a mellow sweetness to them, especially the onion and peppers. I could not get enough of this meal. I've actually had a dream about it a night or two since I made them. Now I know what to do with all my extra veggies from the garden this summer!
Oh, and the other good thing about summer? You get to spend it with your best buddies, whether in the movie theater or out. Less time cooking, more time best buddying. Worth every second.
Happy eating!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Gluten Free Pancakes and Waffles: A Matter of Taste

This is one of those posts where I look back over my history of posting and wonder why I haven't written about this yet. Who do I think I am that I haven't talked about one of life's great indulgences? Pancakes and waffles were something I thought I would simply never eat again once I was diagnosed with celiac's disease, but I have actually been pleasantly surprised with the gluten free offerings by some of my favorite gluten free companies.
My all time favorite mix for pancakes is Gluten Free Pantry's Brown Rice Pancake and Waffle Mix. I grew up eating pancakes made from Bisquick and Krusteaz mixes, and so I like the flavor of these because they taste really similar, heavy on the baking powder and fairly light and fluffy. I usually only make pancakes with this mix and freeze the leftovers, reheating them in the microwave when I need a pancake fix, but the other night I made waffles with them and it was pretty great.

I also like the Grandpa's Kitchen Pancake Mix when I'm in the mood for old-fashioned style pancakes, like the ones your mom would make from scratch. They are more of a thick pancake and taste like homemade love in a skillet.

One of my other favorites for waffle batter is the Tree Street Grains 9-Grain Gluten Free Waffle and Pancake Mix. I love to eat these when I'm in the mood to feel healthy or I need something a little more chewy and substantial to get me through the morning. You can read all about how to order and my encounter with the owner here.
There are actually quite a few brands I have yet to try, among them Pamela's, Bob's Red Mill, and Gluten Free 1-2-3, and hopefully I'll get to them this summer and let you know what I think. What about you? What are your favorite gluten free pancake mixes? Leave a comment and let me know so I know which kinds to try. And the absence of pictures is SO not my fault. Believe me, I have delicious looking photos of all of these brands and I can't get Blogger to upload them. Anyone? Anyone?

Happy eating!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Another Gluten Free Sighting...

What should I find flipping through the pages of my Better Homes and Gardens July issue than a fairly accurate article on celiac's disease lurking somewhere in the middle. It is always always always a surprise to me when mainstream magazines report on gluten free eating. Even though it is becoming more and more common to meet people who either have celiac's themselves or have someone in their family who is afflicted, I find myself still feeling like I live on the fringe. Seven and a half years later, I still feel weird ordering a hamburger without a bun at Wendy's, and still get funny looks when I order my dinner salads without croutons.

I know this phenomenon is 75% mental. If I were completely comfortable and confident about how I have to eat then I would be saying "heck yes, Better Homes and Gardens should be reporting on this!" but instead I'm still a little shy and sometimes I'm surprised that people are taking interest in how we celiacs have to eat. I definitely have gained a lot more respect for other people like diabetics and folks with nut and dairy allergies, the others who have to be vigilant about what goes into their mouths.

It's not as though food is only fuel to me and I only eat what I can force down because it's non-toxic. I definitely enjoy life and enjoy the food that I cook. Some of it's actually really tasty and sometimes people even ask for my recipes when they don't have to eat gluten free. That's always a bonus. But I have learned that sometimes you can't judge the success or failure of an evening based on what you got to eat at a party. And sometimes you have to just eat a bowl of cereal for dinner. Food is not the enemy, but it's not the captain, either.

Happy eating!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Harvest the Crunchy, Enjoy the Friend

Oh, the joys of being friends with Mo. I have the good fortune of being friends with a fellow food blogger who also happens to be a fabulous photographer. And once you go over to her blog I know you will all come back here snickering at my photos, amateurish and semi-lame, but it's a chance I'm willing to take because you have to see this recipe she's come up with.

I harvested my first radishes of the year out of my garden, and I immediately knew what recipe I was going to use them for: Radish Chop Salad from Mo's blog, Fare to Remember. It's a great recipe that could easily take the place of a coleslaw side dish (perfect for those summer barbecues) and there's only one ingredient you would need to use a substitute for: soy sauce. I would use either San-J's Tamari sauce or LaChoy Soy Sauce, both are gluten free. So, not even a substitution, just a brand preference I guess. Try to make your diced vegetables all about the same size so that the salad looks appealing. Too many different sizes can make the food look like a mish-mash. You'll notice that my salad is missing the celery component because I think raw celery is the devil. I also left out the fish sauce, simply because I didn't have any, and it was still super delish. Mmm, she's so good with the flavors. Check out all of Mo's photos, and you'll be hungry by 10 a.m. for sure!
Happy eating!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Chef Carl's Quinoa and Cranberry Salad

Remember when you used to go with your dad to the store before a barbecue to get the hot dog buns that mom forgot to buy and some extra charcoal and you'd always stop by the deli and get a few "extras" from the deli, like that jell-o parfait and potato salad? If not, you missed out. Those were some of my favorite little jaunts with my dad. We'd always come home with some little treat in a plastic lidded container that would round out the meal perfectly. Those trips can get a little scary these days, as you know with celiac's disease you must be extra precise in reading the labels of the foods you eat, and sometimes, at a deli, you can't read the labels because chefs protect their recipes. Unless you shop at Harmon's.

I was at the deli the other day buying lunchmeat, and since I always buy the same kinds of lunchmeat that I know are gluten free, I never really ask about other foods. But they had samples of a cranberry-quinoa salad there and I asked if it was gluten free. The deli man started telling me all about this salad and it's nutritional benefits, and I must say, I was blown away. First of all, it's made with red and white quinoa, cranberries, bell peppers, red onion, corn, black beans, red wine vinegar, and honey. It's a super food or a super snack, whichever way you eat it. It's got a ton of protein in it as well as vegetables and complex carbohydrates. It provides as much energy as two cups of coffee in a 4 oz. serving, and it also has a complete amino acid protein profile. It's definitely a super food, right? It's got a great, unexpected taste, and of course I bought my own little container of Chef Carl's creation and ate some with my lunchmeat and fruit that day. It just fills you up right and you feel healthier eating these lovely foods all mixed together. I wish I could say I had come up with this fabulous recipe on my own and that I had a recipe to pass on to everyone for it, but I'd rather tell you to run over to Harmon's in Draper and buy from Chef Carl. Any chef that will concoct something delicious and then tell you exactly what's in it deserves some praise! And the jaunts for the perfect salad to complement the barbecue can resume.

Happy eating!

Friday, June 4, 2010

Fish on Fridays, Part 2: Baked Orange Roughy with Lemon

Don't worry, I haven't forgotten about y'all! The problem with being a blogger is sometimes the guilt that comes from not writing as much as you want to because of a little thing called life that gets in the way. I need to work on that. Anyways, it's time for Episode 2 of Fish on Fridays, my foray into cooking one of America's favorite healthy foods. My disclaimer here is that I am by no means a professional fish chef, and apparently not a professional fish photographer, so all of these recipes are going to be easy, fast, and possibly idiot-proof. This week's recipe is for a gluten free baked Orange Roughy.

Orange roughy is a mild, white fish that is easy and delicious when baked. When I was in college my friend Jake taught me how to make this dish, although back then we used flour. I remembered how easy and tasty this was, so I tweaked the recipe just a bit and still got the great taste I've always remembered. First, I breaded a filet of orange roughy in cornstarch mixed with a little bit of salt and pepper. I placed it into a baking dish sprayed with Pam and drizzled the fish with a little bit of melted butter (about 2 T) and a squeeze of 1/2 a lemon. I baked it in the oven at 350 degrees for about 20-25 minutes, or until it flakes easily. (Remember, flaky is good with fish.)
Then I served it up and was actually impressed with the texture of the breading and the overall flavor of the fish. Cornstarch will make things have a little bit more crispy coating, and I liked it with the roughy. Voila! Fish in a flash, I should say.

Happy eating!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Goodbye to KJZZ in the Morning...You Were a Good Time

I was notified last week that the a.m. news show that I cook on monthly was cancelled. (This is me on the set in the picture above.) I'm sad to see the show go because it was a fun, casual way to get the word out about gluten free ingredients and recipes, and the people I worked with were, for lack of a better word, hilar-ee-ous. I've posted links on the sidebar for my television appearances in the past, and I have to honestly say I don't know if the links will stay or go. Since the links are with the Channel 2 website partner, I think they will stay, but if not, I do apologize for the resource loss. What I've learned is that sometimes you can read a recipe fourteen times and not understand it, but if you can watch someone make it, it becomes far more familiar and easy to make on your own. For those of you who watched my gluten-free cooking segment the first Wednesday of every month here in Utah, don't give up hope. I'm going to be on Channel 4's Good Things Utah on July 14, and hopefully if my recipes stay up to par I can work with them a few times a year to keep spreading the word about celiac's disease and gluten free eating. The fun thing about cooking at KJZZ was that one of the producers, Todd, was also a celiac, and he would get so excited about the food I brought in. It's great to cook for people who appreciate what you're doing, isn't it? I felt like Florence Nightingale bringing him non-toxic casseroles and whoopie pies. But the people I will miss seeing the most at KJZZ? The cameramen/women. Television's unsung heroes. We really got to know each other well and I will miss the extendo-fork and the grabbing hands and the extreme close-ups. Cheers to you all!

Happy eating!
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