December, 2009

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Great Way to Start the Day!

Wednesday, December 30th, 2009

Well, the hectic pace of Christmas is behind us.  On one hand, it’s so depressing to think that wonderful time of year is now an entire year away again, but on the other, I’m tired from being so ridiculously busy for the last month that I almost welcome taking decorations down (except those lights outside…those puppies will hang, lightless, for at least another month).

One thing I really enjoyed this holiday was the food.  Having been diagnosed early this year, this was my first Christmas where I couldn’t eat any gluten, dairy or eggs.  And while there was a ton of food out on the table that I couldn’t eat on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, my wife did an amazing job of keeping a lot of delicious food in front of me - simply put, I ate like a pig and it was great. 

Ever since I was diagnosed this past January, I’ve battled with setbacks, possible issues with other foods and just trying to figure it all out.  Like a lot of other Celiacs, when I didn’t feel better in 2 days, I thought I was having other issues, but I think the healing process is just taking longer with me (I ate a ton of food this past week - and a lot of it was stuff that I didn’t think I could have (sugar, certain grains) - and I feel great).  I talk to people all the time that tell me how they gained 20 lbs as soon as they went GF, but so far, I’ve dropped about 25lbs.  Thankfully it was all weight I could stand to lose anyway - I’ve got abs!  - but I think the majority of the weight loss was because I just wasn’t eating.  I had felt so bad for so long, once I knew what the problem was I became so nervous about everything I was eating - I figured it was easier to feel good if I just didn’t eat much at all or was very selective about what I did eat.  Not going to gain much weight eating carrots, apples and spinach.  The thing is, I never stopped to think that in order to heal faster, I should have been eating - supplying my body with the nutrients it needs to fix itself.

Anyway, now that the holidays are behind us, I’ve actually got some leftovers…er…did have some leftovers (my body’s been loving the extra calories and I’ve since finished off every last bit of “extra” food we had).  One of the best breakfasts I put together from these leftovers was this great sandwich.  With a fresh smoothie to wash it down, I was in heaven.  What a way to start the day!

GF “Leftover” Breakfast Sandwich

2 slices The Celiac Maniac GF/Vegan Rosemary/Kalamata Olive bread
1 sml organic zucchini, diced
Organic yellow onion, diced
Leftover beef tenderloin, cut into small pieces
3-4 thin slices Daiya Cheddar Style Cheese

Heat a little olive oil in a pan over medium heat.  Add zucchini, cook for about 2 minutes, or until softened.  Add onion, cook for another 2 minutes, or until slightly opaque.  Add tenderloin and cook for another 1-2 minutes, or until heated through.  Toast bread.  Place one slice of bread on plate and add veggie/meat mixture.  Top with Daiya cheese and other slice of bread.

Smoothie

3/4 - 1 cup frozen blueberries
1 medium sized carrot
8oz organic unfiltered apple juice
4-6oz lite coconut milk
1 good tsp vanilla extract

Add everything to the blender and blend until smooth.  Enjoy!

Now go eat!

Almonds and an Apple…Simple.

Monday, December 21st, 2009

To me, Sunday’s are meant to do as little work as possible.  They are much better spent relaxing and spending some time with your family.

And what better way to do that than showing the kids how to make almond butter?  We all got a snack, they thought it was very cool and best of all we spent some time doing something together.  Side note: they thought making the butter was much less painful than having their Celiac tests done today at home.  Yeah, that’s right, we tested them for Celiac today, at home and it took 10 minutes…look for that story in the next couple days.

Anyway, back to the butter.  For those of you that haven’t tried whipping up your own almond (or peanut, hazelnut, pecan) butter, it’s about as easy as boiling water.  And yes, I know there are plenty of nut and seed butters at the store that have no other ingredients added, and it would be easier to just buy one, but you know what - I like making my own.  I like having full control over what nuts or seeds I’m going to use, what extra stuff, if any, is added and how thick or creamy it is.  For me, there’s something incredibly boring about grabbing the same old container of the same old butter everytime I feel like eating some.  I’m crazy man…gotta change it up!

So, the next time your kids want peanut butter and jelly or an apple with peanut butter, don’t go right for the container in the fridge.  Pull out the food processor, grab the bag of nuts or seeds from the pantry and have them make their own butter.  You’ll be amazed at how cool they’ll think it is.  And the extra time it takes you guys to make it will be time very well spent.

Homemade Nut/Seed Butter

Bag of your choice of nuts or seeds (almonds, cashews, pecans, hazelnuts, sunflower seeds, peanuts)
Canola or Flaxseed Oil

Add enough nuts/seeds to the food processor to cover the bottom about 1″ deep.  Put lid on processor and grind away.  When the nuts/seeds look like a coarse flour, about 1-2 minutes, pour in a little oil through the feed tube while processing.  Slowly add oil until butter reaches desired consistency.  Note about oil:  I like using flaxseed oil, but it does change the taste of the butter.  If you don’t like the taste of flaxseed oil, or want your butter to just taste like the nuts/seeds you used, stick with the canola oil.

EnviroKidz Organic Peanut Butter Panda Puffs

Sunday, December 13th, 2009

If you are looking for a great, delicious, gluten-free, organic breakfast cereal, look no further.  Panda Puffs, by Nature’s Path, are so good I wish they’d come out with a bigger box…a much bigger box.

Don’t let the fact that the name of the cereal is “EnviroKidz” or let all the games, puzzles and fun kid facts that are all over the packaging fool you.  This cereal is great for adults too.  I’ll admit that we first started buying this for our kids, but now I have a hard time sharing any that I bought for me.  I mean isnt’ that the beauty of being an adult - I don’t have to share anymore if I don’t want to.  So, nyah…

For me, one of the best things about this cereal (other than the great taste, the fact that it’s organic and gluten free) is that there are only 6 ingredients!  That’s right, 6 - Organic Corn Meal, Organic Evaporated Cane Juice, Organic Peanut Butter, Organic Soy Oil, Sea Salt, Tocopherols (Natural Vit E).  And I can even pronounce each one and I know exactly what each one is…amazing!

For anyone with tree nut allergies (especially peanuts) or soy issues you’ll want to steer clear of this one.  The label states “Contains peanuts.  Produced in a facility that uses tree nuts and soy.”  Interesting though, I just noticed that it doesn’t state “Contains Soy” when soy oil is listed as the 4th ingredient.  Huh.

Assuming you have no issues with peanuts or soy, grab a box of these the next time you’re at the grocery store.  If it makes you feel better, you can pretend to be buying them for your kids.  But we both know you don’t really need to share when you get home.  Afterall, you’re the grown up right?

Blue Diamond Almond Nut Thins

Sunday, December 13th, 2009

These look good don’t they?  Very cheesy and crispy.  Of course I have no idea how they taste…

The front of the box proudly states “Wheat & Gluten Free” and the nutrition panel notes that they “Are Proud to Support the Celiac Disease Foundation” and lists the website www.celiac.org.  However, even with those comforting notations and graphics, I still refuse to try them.

Listed on the nutrition panel, between the ingredients list and the support information it says:

“Produced in a facility that also makes products containing: Wheat, Pecans and Hazelnuts.  Each production run is sampled and tested to confirm gluten levels do not exceed 20 PPM.”

This is what I have an issue with.  As a lot of you know, I am a firm believer in the “Gluten Free means ZERO gluten” mentality.  I’m sorry but 19 PPM may pass the GF test as far as the FDA and Blue Diamond is concerned, but not for me.  Call me crazy, but shouldn’t gluten FREE mean FREE from gluten?  Can someone please explain to me how a product that is supposed to be free of something can still have a measurable amount of that substance in it?  That’s like putting a free sample out, then when someone takes one saying “whoah, whoah whoah…you can’t just take that!  I know it says free, but that’ll be 19-cents.”  While that 19-cents may seem insignificant, I still have to dig in my pocket for some change - it’s not truly free.

And please correct me if I’m wrong, but if a product is “Peanut Free”, doesn’t that mean there is absolutely NO peanuts or even traces of peanuts in it?  Something can’t be labeled “Peanut Free” and still contain 20 ppm of peanuts right?  Then why aren’t GF products required to be 100% GF too?  I may not go into anaphylactic shock when I eat gluten, but there is most certainly potentially life threatening damage being done if I have Celiac Disease and continue to eat it.

Now, I don’t mean to beat up on Blue Diamond by any means.  I know that they are supporters of Celiac organizations and I appreciate that.  However, these companies, and the wonderful FDA, need to fully recognize that those of us with Celiac Disease are not following some fad diet (which I’ve been hearing quite a bit lately), but that we can actually develop life threatening issues as a result of digesting gluten and so have to avoid it completely.  If you legitimately want to support us, give us food that is truly gluten free - which means zero ppm.

Oh yeah, and if you’re still wondering how the crackers tasted, I had Tammy try them.  She said “they have a nice cheesy flavor, but they still have the underlying rice cracker taste/texture.”

Let me know if you decide to try them.

Cold Outside? Treat Yourself.

Wednesday, December 9th, 2009

Winter has officially arrived in Central Oregon…well, more like kicked the door in, grabbed me by the shirt and started slapping me in the face.  Sunday we had about 8″ of snow and the high was barely 20-degrees.  Yesterday the high was about 15-degrees and I’m not positive, but I don’t think we got out of the single digits today (as I type this, weather.com says it’s -4 and feels like -17).  Now look, I like winter as much as the next guy, but come on!

When it gets this cold, I don’t care who you are, nothing hits the spot like a warm mug of hot chocolate.  I’m not talking about that powdery crap in a box either, I’m talking about homemade, real hot chocolate - the kind you melt and use actual chocolate to make.

Weather.com is also telling me that pretty much the entire country is feeling the bitter cold of December right now.  So wherever you are, put on some good Christmas music, get into some comfy clothes and sit down with a warm mug of delicious hot chocolate.  Go ahead, treat yourself - it’s ok.

The Line Up

1 can coconut milk (we used full fat, and it was very rich.  Lite coconut milk would be good too).
2 cups rice milk
1 cup almond milk

1/2 vanilla bean, sliced and insides scooped out into the mixture
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
5 oz semisweet chocolate (we used Enjoy Life chocolate chips)

The Game Plan

Heat the milks, vanilla bean insides and the bean itself in a saucepan over medium heat until the mixture bubbles slightly around the edges of the pan.  Add chocolate and vanilla extract.  Whisk until smooth and well combined.  Serve hot with gluten free mini marshmallows (we used Elyon’s).  Enjoy!

Even More Ideas

This would be great mixed in your coffee!

Freeze leftovers and reheat another time!

Garnish with cinnamon sticks for a festive look!

Add 1/2 tsp of peppermint extract and garnish with GF candy canes for a yummy “peppermint patty”!

The coolest coupon I’ve ever seen!

Monday, December 7th, 2009

Yesterday, as I was flipping through the Sunday paper, I stumbled on the coupon “ads”.  Normally I don’t look at these at all.  I mean, why would I?  There is never anything in them that I want or need.  This weekend alone there were coupons for various gluten filled foods, discounts at Denny’s, the Ab Circle (the treadmill for your abs!), a deluxe coupon organizer , a set of 3 geniune lambskin change purses and some Pepper Defense Spray (with a quickfire safety grip holster in 3 designer colors!)  Yeah…like I said, I’m good.

But wait!  As I turned one of the last pages, wondering what new ridiculous items I would see I saw a coupon I have never seen in this flyer - ever.  I stared at it and tried to think of a time when I’d seen a coupon for something like this and I couldn’t think of one…nothing…I asked Tammy if she remembered seeing one like this…she hadn’t either.  As a matter of fact, I’m still looking at it in awe even as I type this up.

The ad and coupon are for Cuties Seedless Clementines - $1 off a 5lb box and $0.55 off a 3lb bag!  Can you believe it??  An actual coupon for produce…fruit no less!  I was so impressed with this coupon, I checked out the website for Paramount Citrus (the parent company of Cuties).  They’ve got tons of information on their products, health information on various citrus fruits, games that kids can play and information on their products from grove to store (growing, harvesting, packing & shipping).

In this day and age, when kids are bombarded with ads from fast food places and we are seeing wacked out health claims on sugary cereals, it gives me a sense of hope when I see a coupon ad like this.  Everyone, and I mean every single person reading this, needs to visit the Cuties website, register with them (upper right hand corner of their mainpage), print out these coupons and go buy some!  These coupons expire 1/6/10, so hurry and get them before you get too busy with the holidays.

Do it for the kids.

Spaghetti Squash

Tuesday, December 1st, 2009

I haven’t had regular spaghetti since I started eating these.  They’re healthier, taste better and don’t take any longer or require any more effort than regular old pasta.

Trust me, try one of these and you may just swear off pasta for good!

The Line Up

1 spaghetti squash
1/2 green, red, yellow or orange pepper
Diced onion
Olive oil

1/2 cup or so pasta sauce
Hamburger, sausage or steak (cook meat ahead to save time)

The Game Plan
The Line Up and Game Plan assumes you are making just one half of the spaghetti squash.

Cut the squash in half, length-wise and clean out the seeds of both halves.  If you’re making this for one person, wrap one half with plastic wrap and put in the fridge for later.  Pour a little olive oil at each end of the hollowed out area in the half you’re going to eat.  Dice up your pepper and onion and place them in the hollowed out area.  Put in a microwave safe dish, cover and microwave on high for 15-20 mins.

When squash is done, pour sauce into microwave safe bowl, add pre-cooked meat and heat up in microwave (about 1-2 minutes).  Scrape inside of spaghetti squash with fork to remove the squash strands, spoon strands onto plate (or do what I do and leave them in the shell to eat - much more fun!)  Pour sauce over squash, stir to combine and enjoy!