Gluten Free For Good


 

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Archive for October, 2007



Colorado sky & pharma rant

Last weekend there was three inches of snow on my picnic table (see 10-22 post), now it’s 75 degrees and bluebird skies. I love Colorado!

Just a quick update for the two of you following this blog. I’m in the process of changing everything over to WordPress and will be back in action soon. Don’t give up on me!

In the meantime, check out this video. It’s short and worth a look if you’re at all into preventive medicine and “alternative” approaches to health care.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rHXXTCc-IVg

I’ll be back!

In good health,
Melissa

cranberry sauce


I’m in the process of having my blog and website redone by real designer/tech people and have decided to wait until things are ironed out before tackling longer entries with multiple photos. I don’t have the capability and can’t link to other blogs right now, so things will be a little scant for the next week or two. Don’t give up on me though, I’ll be back in full force when things are redesigned and more functional and user friendly! But in the meantime, here’s a wonderful cranberry sauce I made yesterday that I added to an apple pie I created last night. I came out SO good. I’ll post the whole sequence and the pie recipe soon, but for now here’s a “taste” of the holidays.

what you need
• 1 12 ounce bag fresh or frozen cranberries
• 1 cup fresh orange juice (add up to 1/2 cup more if it looks like it is reducing to much)
• 1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
• 1 teaspoon orange zest
• 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
• 1/2 cup crushed pineapple
• 1/2 cup honey

what you do
• bring orange juice, ginger, zest, and cinnamon to a boil in medium saucepan
• rinse cranberries and add when liquid is boiling
• reduce heat and cook uncovered for about 15 to 20 minutes (until berries “pop” and liquid is reduced)
• add crushed pineapple and honey
• remove from heat and let cool
• makes 2 cups

nutritional profile
Cranberries are low in calories and high in nutritional value. With just 45 calories per cup of whole raw berries, they’re packed with vitamin C and are an excellent source of fiber, manganese, copper and an assortment of other goodies with long names like proanthocyanidins. They’ve been used to treat urinary tract infections for centuries and recent studies have backed up that claim. The substance that is thought to be protective is an anti-bacterial tannin found only in cranberries and blueberries. It also appears to be dose-specific, meaning 8 ounces of juice is twice as effective as 4 ounces. So, you can add cranberries to your list of health foods for a variety of reasons. Enjoy!

In good health,
Melissa

spicy autumn stew


It’s that time of year. Chilly evenings, crisp days, and October baseball (Go Rockies!). Time to make the transition from warm, lazy days to cool, shivery nights. It’s been snowing in the high country, even a little plastering here on Sunday (see my snow greeting from Colorado), so it’s a perfect time start in on soups and stews. This is an improv soup made from a few of the last tomatoes from my neighbor’s bountiful harvest (I saved a few to make a roasted tomato soup which is on the menu for later this week). This version has spicy sausage, roasted tomatoes and garlic, onions, green chiles, potatoes, corn, and chicken broth – a perfect blend of autumn flavors.

what you need
• a little creativity because there’s no “real” recipe
• 1 lb pork sausage (I used Wild Oat’s spicy Italian sausage; always ask to be sure it’s gluten-free and no fillers have been added)
• 2 to 4 tablespoons cooking oil*
• 3 red potatoes, boiled and cubed (you can multi-task and boil these while the tomatoes are roasting and the sausage is frying)
• 2 large tomatoes, sectioned and roasted
• 3 cloves garlic, slightly crushed and roasted with the tomatoes
• 1 small bag frozen corn
• green chiles (I used a bag of my own roasted, peeled, and frozen green chiles, but you can substitute a large can of whole green chiles – cut into random-sized pieces)
• 1 small onion, finely diced
• 1 carton Imagine Organic GF chicken broth
• sea salt and ground pepper

what you do
• quarter tomatoes and place in shallow baking dish
• peel and slightly crush garlic cloves (I use the handle of my knife) and mix in with tomatoes
• pour 1 tablespoon of oil over tomatoes and garlic and toss to coat
• sprinkle with sea salt and ground pepper
• roast in oven at 400º for 30 minutes, stir once or twice
• while the tomatoes and garlic are roasting, heat 1 or 2 tablespoons of oil in medium-sized skillet
• saute diced onion in skillet and place in soup pot
• crumble sausage in skillet and fry until cooked thoroughly, stirring frequently
• place all ingredients in soup pot (reserving 1/2 diced potato and half the tomatoes)
• blend potato and tomato with 1 cup water in blender (make sure it’s not too hot, the blender might revolt)
• add chicken broth and potato/tomato puree to soup pot and let simmer for a couple of hours to blend flavors
• season with salt and pepper and any other spices or herbs you might think of

*I often use grapeseed oil because of its neutral taste and smell and it’s high smoking point, but make sure it’s organic. It’s often made from grapes that have been highly sprayed with chemicals, so if you can’t find organic, go with something else. And stay tuned for a complete post on fats and oils (coming soon to a blog near you).

In good health,
Melissa

cocoa pumpkin muffins


This is for Cindy, our stellar little supernova of gluten-free blogging (astrophysically speaking). Her recent craving for chocolate and pumpkin motivated me to do some experimenting and this is what I came up with. Rich, moist muffins. Next time I’m going to bake this in cake form and top it with cream cheese frosting. I’m thinking that may be a good GF addition at Thanksgiving.

what you need
• 1-3/4 cup Pamela’s baking mix
• 1/3 cup Dagoba cacao powder
• 1/4 cup Earth Balance vegan buttery spread
• 2 eggs, lightly beaten
• 1/4 cup agave honey
• 1 teaspoon vanilla
• 1 cup pumpkin (I used Farmer’s Market organic pumpkin pie mix from Wild Oats; it has good sweet spices mixed in)

what you do
•whisk together baking mix and cacao powder and set aside
•on medium speed, beat eggs, Earth balance, and vanilla together
•blend in agave and pumpkin until well combined
•spoon batter into prepared muffin cups
•bake in preheated 350º oven for 22 minutes or until inserted wooden toothpick or knife blade comes out clean
•makes 10 to 12 muffins

Enjoy!
Melissa

snowy greetings from Colorado


I took this photo yesterday while waiting for my cocoa pumpkin muffins to bake (see accompanying post for the recipe). I scribbled this in the falling snow on my backyard picnic table. Not exactly picnic weather yesterday, but there’s potential today. That’s what I love about Colorado. If you don’t like the weather, just bake something and wait 22 to 24 minutes. Chances are, things will look different when the buzzer goes off.

This morning the temperature was a cool 12 degrees when I got up (although it was 4:30 AM), but now the sun is shining and it looks to be a beautiful, fall day in Colorado. Hope it’s equally nice wherever you are!

no wheat, no worries

This past week has been, and still is, a crazy one for me. Although it may seem like I’m not doing much since I’ve hardly left my house in days, I’ve been chained to my computer and working long hours. My office is starting to look like a scene from that old movie, Hackers. Of course, the remains of the food littering my floor is all gluten-free. You won’t find any Dominoes boxes with half-eaten pizza around my desk and I’m not being chased by an evil computer genius and don’t have a cool nickname like Crash Overdrive or Acid Burn, but nonetheless, I’ve been frantically busy wearing off the letters on my keyboard (seriously, I’m not kidding). It’s a good thing I have that 21st century, Darwinian memory chip in my brain labeled “keyboard characters” or I’d be in big trouble.

Not that you’re probably interested, but I’ve been doing some high res scanning of old ski photos, then cleaning them up in Photoshop, then passing them along to the nice people at Alpenglow Magazine for a feature story they’re doing on vintage ski fashions. Things like that always take longer than you anticipate and there are often glitches along the way, but it was a fun project.

In between ski fashions and my regular life, which has been incredibly limited lately, I’ve been working away at two different Power Point presentations on celiac disease. Actually, I’m using Keynote instead of Power Point since I’m a Mac girl. It’s the same program Al Gore used to produce An Inconvenient Truth. Results may vary as my end-product won’t win any Academy Awards and villous atrophy, while microscopically fascinating, isn’t as on-screen dramatic as large coastal cities being engulfed by rising seas. So, no Emmys and no Academy Awards (not to mention Nobel Peace Prizes) for me, but I have been busy making slide after slide on the pathogenesis and treatment protocols for celiac disease. Once I’m finished, I’ll post a few of them on my blog for “educational purposes only.” It’s interesting stuff for sure and the increased awareness and advances being made in diagnostic testing and treatment are long overdue. More on all that later, but for now, I thought I’d post some alternative flour information from the “Nutrition Therapy” part of the presentation I’m creating.

These are all flours I use, although I haven’t tried the green pea flour yet. I plan to do that this weekend, so I’ll fill you in on how ground green peas taste in muffins. Or how muffins look tinted lime green. Viridian sounds more exotic than lime green. I’ll call them “viridian protein muffins” since peas have a good share of protein. Hmmm? Should be interesting. One thing I’ve learned about living gluten-free is not to make assumptions. Some of my best creations have come from combinations you would never except. Mesquite and sorghum flour; millet and quinoa; amaranth, almond, and teff. The abundance is actually a bit overwhelming!

This may sound rather “Pollyanna-ish” but I feel blessed to have celiac disease. Post-celiac-syndrome is more like it since I don’t like the word “disease” and actually don’t have one at the moment, thank you very much. It’s not a big deal to me to give up wheat and without celiac disease, I never would have jumped into this silo of delightful and exotic alternative grains and flours. It’s a gift in my mind, not a burden, and with a little creativity and a flair for gusto, you can live much healthier than in your pre-celiac-diagnosis days.

Here’s a taste of some exotic flours to consider adding to your pantry. Unfortunately, non of this comes cheaply. “Alternative” flours are usually more expensive and often require special orders, but things are changing and more of these choices are hitting the shelves of natural food stores. Bug your local grocer to add some to their shelves. You can also order most of them on-line from Bob’s Red Mill, which is a wonderful source for GF flours, grains, and even recipes.

Wheat? Boorrring . . .

alternative flours to try
buckwheat
sweet Peruvian mesquite (yum, yum, yum, one of my favorites)
teff
millet
Italian chestnut
quinoa
pinto bean
almond
hazelnut
garbanzo bean
sorghum
coconut
green pea
navy bean
amaranth
fava bean

And there are more, but this is a good start. The world of gluten-free is a world of abundance. No whining!

In good health,

Melissa
P.S. My “oil crisis” post is in the works. Stay tuned.

cinnamon and spice and everything nice


How appropriate that my “punk-rock-gluten-free Betty Crocker” daughter keeps me well-stocked with high quality sweet spices. She’s more on the spicy side than the sweet side, but she definitely knows where to buy the best spices and herbs. And when and how to use them. I’m still waiting for a photo and post of her famous apple crisp (hint, hint).

So, what do you know about cinnamon? Other than you used to mix it with white sugar and sprinkle it over buttered white bread and broil it in the oven for a treat when you were little. Ugh, and to make matters worse, the bread was probably Rainbow Bread. A high gluten, low value treat. Well, if nothing else the cinnamon at least provided a boost to something that was totally devoid of nutritional value.

Cinnamon is one of the oldest spices known and is indigenous to Sri Lanka. It was treasured as a flavoring, sought-after as a medicinal herb, and even used as an embalming agent (probably limited to royal mummies). Legend has it that the Roman Emperor Nero burned a full year’s supply of cinnamon at the funeral of his wife in 65 AD. Sweet tribute. Cinnamon is also mentioned in many classical writings as well as several places in the Bible (don’t ask me where).

On to the nutritional benefits of cinnamon, which are numerous. I’ll list a few of the reasons I like it, other than the wonderful sweet – and even savory – taste.

• helps reduce fasting blood glucose levels in diabetics
• helps reduce triglycerides, LDLs, and total cholesterol
• works as a circulatory stimulant
• has antibiotic abilities
• is anti-ulcerative
• helps with digestion
• is a carminative (fancy word for helps relieve gas and bloating)
• is a diuretic

The healing abilities in cinnamon come from three essential oils found in the bark: cinnamaldehyde, cinnamyl acetate, and cinnamyl alcohol, along with some other good substances. So, use it in baking; sprinkle it on hot cereal; use in curries; and add it to smoothies, teas, and other beverages.

healthier cinnamon toast
• one piece gluten-free bread (millet, Montina, etc.)
• drizzle with flaxseed oil
• sprinkle with cinnamon and a touch of organic brown sugar
• broil until lightly browned

Here’s to a sweet and spicy life!
Melissa

turmeric and chicken curry


Turmeric is part of the ginger family and is one of the main curry spices. It is native to Asia and has been used as a flavoring, dye, and for medicinal purposes for thousands of years, especially in Ayurvedic medicine. India is the main producer of turmeric, where it’s used as a cooking spice, an antibacterial agent, and as a medicinal dietary supplement.

The potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent in turmeric is curcumin. Research involving curcumin is exploding and studies indicate it may be helpful in a variety of inflammatory diseases, including IBS, pancreatitis, liver disorders, colitis, rheumatoid arthritis, heart disease, and intestinal cancers. I decided to showcase this zippy little spice because these inflammatory conditions can be symptomatic of celiac disease and using food in healing is my interest and protocol for people with celiac (that includes me).

You’ll be hearing more about curcumin, as it’s the new super-star of antioxidants (new to the west, not to the east). There are clinical trials currently underway at the National Institutes of Health, Yale University, and UCLA (just to name a few) about the health benefits of the spice. Hundreds of research papers have appeared in the past few years, touting the medicinal properties of curcumin, the magic agent in turmeric and curry.

So, to help you add some spice to your healing power, here’s a simple chicken curry recipe that’s therapeutic, tasty, and a good “starter” recipe if you haven’t cooked with curry before or aren’t used to Indian food.

chicken curry (recipe from Penzeys Spices)

what you need
• 1 lb chicken breast meat, boned and cubed
• 2 – 3 tablespoons grapeseed oil
• 1 medium onion, chopped
• 4 inch section of fresh ginger, peeled and grated
• 2 cloves garlic, minced
• 1 teaspoon sweet curry powder
• 1 teaspoon hot curry powder
• 1 teaspoon garam masala
• 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons water (divided)
• 2 ripe tomatoes, good-sized, washed, cored and chopped into large chunks
• 1 cup plain yogurt

what you do
• place all spices in small bowl, cover with 2 tablespoons water, let stand while preparing chicken and other ingredients
• heat oil over medium heat
• add onion, then ginger and garlic; stir frequently and saute for about 3 minutes (good smells!)
• spoon in curry/water mixture and stir quickly; the mix will become quite dry; keep stirring until everything is a smooth paste, about 2 minutes
• add chicken pieces, saute quickly for a few minutes until well-coated
• add water and chopped tomatoes, stir well
• reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes or so, stirring often
• add yogurt, stir well and simmer until sauce is thick and golden (about 10 more minutes)
• taste and add a touch of salt if desired
• serve with basmati rice

serves 4

*curry spice is wonderful in homemade chicken or turkey salad

Enjoy!
Melissa

spiced carrot bread


I’ve probably gained a good 5 pounds this week and may need a new wardrobe if I keep this frenetic style of baking up. But aside from that, it’s been a great week of testing GF mixes and creating yummy baked goods, many of which I did “improv” style, as our sweet friend at Gluten Free Bay says.

This carrot bread turned out wonderful and will definitely be part of my basic cache of easy GF recipes. This one’s a keeper!

spiced carrot bread

what you need
• 1/4 cup oil (I used grapeseed oil because it has a neutral taste and smell)
• 1/2 cup agave honey
• 1 egg, beaten
• 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
• 1 cup grated carrots
• 1-1/4 cup Pamela’s Baking Mix
• 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
• 1/4 teaspoon allspice or something similar (cloves, nutmeg)
• 1/4 cup raisins
• 1/4 cup pecans

what you do
• beat oil, eggs, and honey together
• add vanilla
• mix in remaining ingredients (except raisins and nuts) and mix well
• fold in raisins and nuts
• pour into well greased loaf pan (I use glass loaf pans)
• bake in preheated 350º oven for 45 to 50 minutes (inserted toothpick or knife should come out clean; don’t over bake; you may need to put a sheet of tinfoil on top to prevent over-browning)

Yum!

From the test kitchen,
Melissa

orange marmalade cupcakes


Testing, testing, retesting. Oh my gosh! I’m in serious trouble. I just emerged from a what may have been a mild sugar coma and I’m already at it again. Baking treats, that is. What has come over me? Must be a hormonal meltdown. What else could explain my sudden obsession with sweets. I’m out to single-handedly prove that gluten-free desserts rival the best that wheat has to offer. Better even!

So here’s another one, and quite tasty I might add.

what you need
• 1-3/4 cup Pamela’s Baking Mix
• 1 teaspoon cinnamon
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 2 eggs, beaten
• 4 tablespoons Earth Balance vegan butter spread, melted
• 1 teaspoon orange extract
• 3/4 cup orange marmalade jam (I used almost a whole jar of St. Dalfour Orange Marmalade, which is 10 ounces. I reserved a small amount, maybe 2 tablespoons, for the frosting.*)
• 1/4 cup light coconut milk
• 1/3 cup nuts, optional (pecans, walnuts, or sliced almonds)

what you do
• whisk flour, salt, and cinnamon together; set aside
• beat together butter, eggs, and orange extract
• add orange marmalade and coconut milk and mix well
• add dry ingredients and mix well (don’t over-mix, just until blended)
• fold in nuts
• bake in preheated 350º oven for 18 to 22 minutes, or until a knife inserted in the middle comes out smooth

*St. Dalfour Orange Marmalade isn’t too sweet and is full of chunky pieces of fruit. The jar says, “All natural 100% fruit conserves, sweetened only with grape juice concentrate. No added sugar.”

frosting (optional)
• 3/4 cup powdered sugar
• 2 tablespoons Earth Balance vegan butter spread, melted
• 1 to 2 tablespoons orange zest (microplane the orange peel, skip this if you don’t have an orange)
• the rest of the orange marmalade (about 2 tablespoons)
• 1 or 2 tablespoons hot water if needed
• mix all ingredients well and frost cupcakes

Next week’s posts will be all about whole, nutrient-dense foods; healthy herbs and spices; and NO baked goods, sweets, or sugar!

Signing off from the kitchen test center,
Melissa

Disclaimer: All material on this website is provided for informational and educational use only and should not be used for diagnostic purposes. Consult with your physician regarding any health or medical concerns you may have.
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(co-written with Pete Bronski)



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