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March 27th… IT’S OUR WHEAT-FREE ANNIVERSARY! Thank you Dr. Davis!

March 27th… IT’S OUR WHEAT-FREE ANNIVERSARY! Thank you Dr. Davis!

March 27th… IT’S OUR WHEAT-FREE ANNIVERSARY!
Thank you Dr. Davis!

One year ago today, I posted THIS to Dr Davis’ Wheat Belly Blog to talk about the decision my family had made to go wheat-free. It has been an amazing year. I think my husband is more excited about our anniversary of being wheat-free than he ever has been about our wedding anniversary! Kinda sad, but true 😉  But who can blame him with all of the amazing changes that have taken place (and LASTED) over the past 365 days?! I can say though, to his credit, that he thanks me each and every day for changing his life forever.

And in turn, I thank Dr. Davis. So here we go again… THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU!

You have changed my life, my husband’s life, my son’s life, my parent’s lives, lives of people that we know here in the real world and the people I have been lucky enough to call my friends online. You have helped me to start a chapter of my life that has real meaning by being able to reach all the people who read my blog about delicious recipes and living this lifestyle more easily in a world that is still new to the idea that wheat is a common and powerful toxin.

For those who just look at the WB way of living as just a diet to lose weight, you are missing the point! Go ahead and do it to drop those extra 30+ lbs, because it’s a great plan for that, but it’s about MUCH more than a number on the scale. If you read the book and use the cookbook, and if you visit the Wheat Belly blog or the Wheat Belly page on Facebook, you will see that my story is NOT an exception. It is common to find people who have experienced the major improvements in health that we have, along with other benefits that I have not listed. In fact, the more time that passes, and the more testimonials I read,  the more I am convinced that there is very little in the way of health issues that is NOT related to chronic consumption of wheat, excess carbohydrates and sugars, along with food additives, GMOs and our live stock being hopped up on meds. Our food supply has been tampered with in ways too numerous to mention, and it DOES matter.

Now that we have a year under our belt, it’s time to look back and talk a bit about the major changes we have experienced in our health.

Here are some health highlights in OUR year of being free of wheat:

  • My husband and I have lost a combined 70lbs in the past year! (Him 38, Me 32)
    That’s more than 2 BIG bags of dog food! It makes hugging much nicer, by the way!
    Most weight was dropped in the first 4 months, and we have kept it off. He has reached his goal weight and feels better in his own skin and with his body than he EVER has in his lifetime. He is confident, excited, feels younger and has much more energy. He promotes this way of eating to everyone he knows, and they can see the proof by just looking at him!
    Being a mid-40’s female, I am still working towards my goal weight, but do so knowing that I have the tools to maintain where I am now, and from here on out I can tweak with exercise and fine-tune  the plan to fit what works for me. I’ve gone from a size 18 to a 12-14, and I’m feeling really good! I have noticed that most men on this plan ZOOM right down to where they need to be without too many bumps along the way, but some women do seem to encounter more plateaus. There are the complicated issues such as hormones, thyroid, and other metabolic challenges to work through, especially over 40, but this is still the BEST place to start in my opinion. All this while eating real, whole foods, and NOT being hungry.
    How much money would the people of this nation save on diet programs and pharmaceuticals if we just eliminated wheat?? How many lives would be saved because of decreased risk of heart disease and diabetes??
  • My chronic joint pain decreased by probably 90% in the FIRST WEEK.
    knee-pain-female
    I began having a lot of body pain in my late 30’s that grew increasingly annoying over the next 5+ years. I couldn’t understand why my elbows, knees, shoulders and hips hurt so much. Why getting up out of a chair at 40 yrs old took so much care, and why getting out of bed was always accompanied by pain as my feet hit the floor… not to mention the journey down the stairs with every step being measured and painful. People would say things like “Welcome to middle age!” or “That’s just part of getting older, sorry.” As it turns out, the strong inflammatory properties of wheat were the cause, period. As soon as I eliminated gluten, the pain was gone in a WEEK. This was well before losing any weight or going to an overall low-carb diet. So to those who say that the decreased pain was due to less weight stressing my body, WRONG. Now, the lighter Me certainly puts less strain on my joints, but the pain was due to INFLAMMATION, which in my opinion is the WORST effect of wheat consumption, and it takes many forms. How many patients would doctors lose if we no longer had to go in because of joint pain?? How many fewer prescription pain killers and anti-inflammatory medications would be needed?? How many people would not feel OLD for their age??
  • I was able to say goodbye to the SEVERE and CHRONIC (mysterious) HEADACHES that plagued me from the time I was probably 14 or 15.
    headache-triggers-woman-400x400
    If you are someone who suffers from headaches like this, where 3 or 4 times a week you get a headache so bad that you can barely think, and that each of those sometimes last for DAYS, you know what I’m talking about! I could hardly believe it when the headaches stopped. It wasn’t apparent immediately, a little time went by, a week or so, before I realized that my head didn’t hurt. I used to LIVE on Motrin and off-brand ibuprofen. I’m talking buying the industrial-sized bottles at Wal-Mart because I had a handful several times a day. It didn’t fix anything, but it took the edge off. Doctors had been no help over the years, even with brain scans to rule out tumor and the array of heavy drugs they had prescribed (that I wouldn’t take more than once because I felt disconnected from the world when I took them.) It had become my normal state to hurt and just deal with pain. Not anymore. I still get a headache now and then, probably sinus related, but NOTHING like they were before. More like a regular person now 🙂  I also attribute this to inflammation due to wheat. How much different would the world be for those who suffer from chronic headaches if they found that wheat was the problem?? How much pain and suffering is totally unnecessary?? How many take heavy drugs to combat a dietary toxin??
  • My husband’s acid reflux is GONE.
    He used to deal with painful reflux after most meals. As soon as we went wheat-free, this disappeared! In the beginning of our journey, he was willing to give up wheat in food, but didn’t want to commit to giving up his occasional beer. Then he noticed a couple weeks in, that the acid reflux would return as soon as he had a brew, but that it never happened with our food alone. Hmmm. Well, he decided that he’d had enough beer in his lifetime, and that he knew just what it tasted like; he didn’t need anymore! That was the end of his reflux, period. In the past he had blamed the reflux on rich foods, on red wine; on cheese… you name it. But it turned out it was one ingredient, WHEAT. Again, inflammation. Think of all the people who take meds for acid reflux on a daily basis and how many end up having medical procedures resulting from the long-term damage caused by it; how much pain and money would be saved?? How much money would the pharmaceutical companies lose out on if we no longer had to purchase their meds to combat the food we are eating??
  • Food cravings are gone; we’ve learned what actual hunger feels like.
    IMG-20130115-03488
    We now eat because we are fueling our bodies, not because of some phantom urge telling us we are hungry, when we clearly aren’t. This is a freedom that we are so thankful for, because we truly never knew the difference! Wheat is a powerful appetite stimulant, something that Dr. Davis talks about frequently. This is one example of how wheat consumption affects the brain. Dr. Davis says that wheat causes people on average to consume an additional 440 calories per day, every day! The kicker here is that once you go wheat-free, you realize how many products contain wheat that have nothing to do with breads, pastas, and cereals. It’s a cheap filler and it causes us to want to eat MORE carbohydrates. So glad to be liberated from this compulsion!  How many people would never have been overweight in the first place if it wasn’t for this notorious effect of wheat?? How many have spent their entire lives trying in vain to combat this appetite stimulant with low-fat or reduced calorie diets, only to be hungry all the time, and then give up??
  • Dramatic improvement in my IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) over time.
    This is one that has taken time; it wasn’t one of the immediate improvements. Long term ingestion of wheat causes all sorts of havoc within the digestive system, especially the small intestine that becomes irritated, inflamed, and permeable (leaky-gut.) It takes time for many of us to heal from the assault of wheat and grain products. Now that I have reached the year mark, I would say it is probably 70% better than it was. This is also something that I had been suffering with from the time I was a teenager. In this case, wheat and grains are not the only culprits for me, bad oils (hydrogenated and vegetable oils) also do a number on me, as does too much heavy cream. The gut needs a balance of good bacteria to be healthy, and between the consumption of wheat, handfuls of ibuprofen and too many antibiotics, mine needed serious healing. Taking a good pro-biotic can help, along with staying completely away from trigger foods. How many people have gone to the doctor time after time with these symptoms, only to be given a sad nod and a prescription for meds to take for the duration of their entire lives?? How much gluten intolerance is masquerading as IBS??
  • Speaking of antibiotics… my family of 3 has not had a prescription for antibiotics once in the past year or so.
    antibiotics460That may not seem like a big deal to some, but in my house, my son and I were prone to strep throat 2-3 times a year, a couple upper respiratory infections for all 3 of us, and I had UTIs probably 3 times per year as well. That’s a lot of penicillin and cephalaxin! To go from that, to ZERO is something that I wholly attribute to being wheat-free and not eating sugar. It is my belief that wheat puts such a powerful assault on our bodies that our immune systems are working full-time just to deal with the toxins that are coming from the foods we are eating, and that there is very little left to fight off infections and sickness. Take away the wheat and our immune systems function the way they were meant to. Add to that the acid state created within our bodies from eating too many carbs and sugars, and you have a breeding ground for the bad stuff. We still got sick a couple times, but a little home remedy of ACV (organic apple cider vinegar) and baking soda in water 3X a day was enough to knock it out.  How much of our overuse of antibiotics is due to wheat?? How much antibiotic resistance has been created because we are using them to battle on behalf of our compromised immune systems due to toxic food consumption??
  • My son’s bleeding eczema on his hands did not happen this winter, for the first time EVER.
    Like clockwork, every winter my son’s already some-what dry hands would get scaly, crack and bleed. I used medicated salves from the doctor that didn’t help; I made home remedies of shea butter, coconut oil and vitamin E that did help with constant use. But it wasn’t until we eliminated wheat that this problem just went away. This may sound like a small issue, but when it’s you or your child that suffers not only the pain, but the embarrassment of a skin condition like this, you know it’s a real concern. In our case wheat was the allergen causing this condition; how many others have eczema or long-term rashes that might be treated by omitting wheat?? How much money could be saved by not having to purchase all the expensive prescription salves that mostly end up being ineffective??
  • My son’s ADHD has much improved, as have his grades this school year.
    adhd
    It’s not the easiest thing to talk about when you have a child with real ADHD. It’s not an easy decision to make to medicate them. It’s not easy; in fact it can be downright heartbreaking. I wish I never would have had to medicate my son, but the truth is that it has made all the difference in the world to help us manage this condition that seems to be hitting an inordinately high number of children and adults in today’s society. The meds did help, but it was never enough, and every year there have been calls from teachers who thought he was a bright and wonderful child, but they struggled to teach him or struggled to get his distracted behavior in line in the classroom. When we decided to go off wheat, my son (then 13) made the decision to do it with us. I didn’t force him, I just educated him about the reasons I wanted to try it, and he jumped right on board. This past school year has been the first EVER that I haven’t had frantic calls, emails or requests for special meetings with teachers. EVER. What an unexpected blessing! Yes, he still has ADHD, and yes he is still on medication, but he has a much more balanced mental state and is able to think more clearly. He is less distracted and more able to focus.  He has an enhanced awareness about his condition and chooses to be proactive about it. He still has his challenges with certain classes, but he is excelling in others! He is educated about why we are wheat-free and he challenges the friends who would make fun of him, instead of giving into peer pressure to eat teen favorite wheat-containing foods like pizza. He does it for himself! If you asked him, he would tell you that it helps him manage his ADHD and that it also helps to get rid of the joint pain he had been experiencing in the past couple years (which we had attributed to growing pains.) I am so proud of my son for being capable of critical thinking and questioning the mantra of “healthy whole grains” that is taught in Science and Health classes. Proud of him for standing up to peer pressure, and instead telling others that wheat is no longer the plant it once was, and that it is now damaging to our bodies, so his family chooses not to eat it. To stand up when others tell him that he can’t “survive without wheat”!  I don’t know what causes ADHD in our society, but I have a gut feeling that our chronic consumption of cereal grains, sugars and carbohydrates along with overzealous vaccination protocols has a lot to do with it. Regardless of what causes it, I strongly suggest a whole food diet free from grains to combat the effects. If I had known, we would have been eating this way forever! How many children and adults with ADHD could be helped by elimination of wheat and adhering to a whole food diet??


I am one full year into an entirely new way of eating, and a new, better phase of health. I continue to read, discuss and research about personal health responsibility, nutrition and ways to make this way of eating pleasurable as well as good for my body. I imagine that over time, there will be more benefits, some I may never see because they take place below the surface. I urge anyone who is considering this lifestyle to do the reading, ask the questions and make a real honest effort, because it IS WORTH IT. It has its challenges, but most anything worth doing, usually does.

We are pioneers of personal responsibility for our health in an age where profits and greed and convenience are taking precedence over what is right. No one can do this for you. Others can share their stories and their recipes, but only you can make the time to prepare healthy meals and find sources of healthy foods. Once you commit to this way of eating, it gets easier. Having peer support, whether in person or online makes this easier. It’s available to those who desire change. Can you lose weight on this diet? More than likely, yes! But please don’t overlook the vast array of other benefits to be found by eliminating this monster toxin from your diet.

Cheers to a lifetime free from Wheat!!!

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One Year Wheat-Free! A List of 45 Things I Have Learned Along the Way!

One Year Wheat-Free! A List of 45 Things I Have Learned Along the Way!

That’s right! It’s been one full year that my entire family has been eating wheat-free! Thanks to a friend who introduced me to the concept, and thank you to Dr. Davis, author of “Wheat Belly”, my life has changed for the better! A little later on today I will post an article I am writing about some of the biggest health benefits my family has experienced, but for now I want to post a list of 45 things I have learned during the past 365 days.

Before I do that, I’d like to thank YOU, my readers, who have helped to make this year an amazing one for me. Writing and blogging was completely new to me when I posted my first blurb last March, and it’s been a journey of sharing and learning that I could not have anticipated. So whether you are subscribed to my blog, post comments and banter with me about food, have shared your personal story, or just read quietly and scan the recipes, I am thankful you have been a part of it!

As of this morning:

  • I have 305 people following my blog!
  • I’ve had 74,807 page visits!
  • This is my 96th post!
  • I’ve had visitors from 124 countries!

So to continue with the numbers… here is a list of:
45 Things I Have Learned This Year

  1. It’s not always easy to go against the grain (pun intended :)) but it IS worth it.
  2. My family is awesome, and I am very grateful that we all do this together!
  3. Wheat is a toxic, manipulated substance, and NOT a food fit for human consumption.
  4. Large corporations do NOT have your best interests in mind, so be proactive and educate yourself.
  5. Wheat Belly, Primal, and Paleo ways of eating have more in common than not.
  6. When in doubt, eat food without labels.
  7. Stay away from the Gluten-free aisle at the grocery store; it’s a Carbohydrate Hell Hole.
  8. Just because the USDA or the FDA approves something, does NOT mean it’s healthy.
  9. Men seem to lose weight more quickly on this diet (any diet?) than women.
  10. Brussels sprouts are an awesome food, and I am very sorry I hated them my whole life.
  11. The scale is a tool, not a God. Remember to use a tape measure too.
  12. It takes time for your body image to catch up with reality when you’ve lost weight.
  13. Almond flour is awesome, but for those trying to lose weight, moderation is the key.
  14. The friends I’ve made online who also eat grain-free are an invaluable source of support and information, and I am very thankful to know them!
  15. Conventional wisdom regarding nutrition is deeply flawed; many dieticians are brainwashed and many doctors care nothing at all about nutrition.
  16. I enjoy writing and blogging and think it’s one of the best things I have ever done!
  17. Weight loss doesn’t usually occur in straight line, and plateaus can be valuable for learning how to maintain.
  18. One size does not fit all; we need to tweak and experiment and be open-minded.
  19. Dark chocolate is one of the best things in the whole world. (OK I already knew that one ;))
  20. There will be people who are hungry for the message, so share freely.
  21. There will be people who need the message most who are not open to it. Move on.
  22. Learning the language of the body is an art, and it takes time to fully interpret what it has to say.
  23. Don’t be surprised if wheat isn’t the only thing that you need to eliminate to feel your best.
  24. Headaches and joint pain are NOT caused by a deficiency of Motrin.
  25. Chronic inflammation is the cause of MOST chronic complaints, and it’s mainly caused by diet.
  26. You will have good days and bad days, congratulate yourself and forgive yourself.
  27. What works for a friend may or may not work for you. We all arrive at today with different health backgrounds and genetics.
  28. There is wheat in places you would never think to look; avoiding all packages is best.
  29. There is no natural sweetener that tastes like sugar to me, but some do a decent job.
  30. My Ninja blender kicks butt and I use it nearly every day.
  31. Zucchini “noodles” are awesome.
  32. Sometimes losing weight makes wrinkles appear… smile so that they blend in!
  33. We go through more eggs now than I ever thought possible.
  34. Cholesterol is no more responsible for heart disease than a Band-Aid is responsible for the burn it covers.
  35. Coconut oil is one of the most versatile substances! For sautéing, for baking, for skin, for hair… it rocks.
  36. Avocadoes and cauliflower are able to be virtually neutral and can be used in ways I never thought of before.
  37. Having an ice cream maker is a GREAT thing.
  38. Thrift stores and consignment shops are a valuable source for clothing when you are dropping sizes and don’t want to spend a fortune.
  39. Giving up wheat didn’t cure my resistance to exercise (gasp!) I guess this year I will work on that!
  40. Enjoying dining out is possible, just be careful and ask a lot of questions. Most servers have no clue.
  41. It’s best to focus on all the great things you CAN eat, rather than what you can’t.
  42. Most recipes can be tweaked to be wheat-free and low-carb if you are creative enough.
  43. Parmesan cheese and almond flour as a “breading” is yummier than Panko ever was.
  44. Even dogs do better on a grain-free diet.
  45. There are some people who will think you are completely insane. That’s more than OK! 😀

I know I missed a bunch… so what would YOU add to this list?

 

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Smoothie Sailing into the Weekend!

Strawberries, Kefir, celery, apple and blackberries make a delicious light smoothie.

Just a quick breakfast post to start a weekend of light and healthy eating! We have always been fans of the smoothie at our house, with varying degrees of healthfulness (ice cream can be in a smoothie, right??), and since changing our eating style, I am going to be exploring raw food smoothies as a way to boost energy and health.

This particular mixture was based on making my son a strawberry smoothie for breakfast, but I wanted to add a few other things in there to help with nutrients and energy. This is not low carb with the fruits that are included, but strawberries and blackberries are among the healthiest fruits to eat on a low carb diet, so I’m not feeling too guilty! 

Saturday Breakfast Smoothie

  • 1 C fresh strawberries
  • 1 golden delicious apple, peeled and cored
  • 1 stalk celery, ribs removed
  • handful of frozen blackberries
  • 1/2 C Kefir
  • 1/4 C low sugar cranberry pomegranate juice
  • 4 ice cubes
  • 1 Tb honey

I started by blending the strawberries, apple and celery in my Ninja with the kefir until fairly smooth, then added all other ingredients except the honey. I blended this a good bit longer than usual to make sure that it was indeed, very smooth. I poured my glass without any honey or sweetener, but then added the honey into the remainder for my son, to help him ease a sore throat. 2 servings.

I know this is probably a lightweight in the smoothie category, and I do plan to explore the “green smoothies” in the future. It wasn’t until his drink was half gone that I told my son that there was celery in it, he had NO idea. He thought it was pretty cool, yay! Just wait til he starts drinking spinach, hehe.

 

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Orange Stir Fry Veggies and Quinoa (keen-wa)… no msg or gluten in sight

Use any mixture of veggies and meat that you prefer!

Tonight was one of those nights that I didn’t really feel like cooking (yes, it happens), but wanted more than just a salad. I decided to gather up a bunch of veggies and do a GF version of my typical stir fry. The changes that I’ve made are mostly to use gluten-free Tamari instead of soy sauce, and to substitute for the higher carb rice with healthy quinoa.

I will admit that quinoa is a grain that I knew virtually nothing about until deleting the wheat from my diet a few weeks ago. I knew it existed (although in my head I was pronouncing it wrong!), but that was about the extent of it. It was a sacred seed in the ancient Inca civilization, and it turns out that quinoa is a gem in any diet, not just for those going without gluten. It is a complete protein, and a good source of Magnesium, Manganese and Phosphorus. It has a glycemic load of only 18, and is not inflammatory. Low in cholesterol, it is an important source of plant-derived calcium, and it has a pleasing nutty flavor to boot!

Kept in the freezer, fresh ginger root is easy to grate as needed for recipes.

Kitchen Tip: In this recipe, I also use fresh grated ginger. I have a trick for ginger that I learned from my Mom; I keep the whole root in the freezer in a ziploc, and just pull it out and grate it when I want to add it to a dish. If you are like me, even though you use ginger, you may not get through the whole root before it molds, and keeping it in the freezer is a great way to store it, and it is even easier to grate when it’s frozen.

Here you see my handy zesting tool, but you can also use a sharp knife.

 

The orange zest adds a little extra flavor boost as well, and I use a zesting tool that I picked up in a kitchen shop to do this task. In general I am not a gadgety person, mostly preferring sharp knives, but this is a nice inexpensive tool that I bought back when I was doing lots of zesting for holiday biscottis and baked goods. I will definitely be changing my holiday routine this season, and exploring new treats!

 

Orange Stir Fry Veggies and Quinoa:

  •  2 C cooked Quinoa 
  • 1.5 lbs boneless chicken breast, cut into 1″ chunks (beef, pork or shrimp works too)
  • 2-3 Tb Olive oil

Veggies: (feel free to use my mix, or whatever you happen to have on hand)Veggies for stir fry

  • 3 Tb Olive oil
  • 1 C chopped Napa cabbage
  • 1 C chopped Broccoli rabe (or regular broccoli)
  • 1 carrot, peeled and sliced into rounds
  • 1/2 Sweet onion, slivered
  • 1 stalk celery, chopped
  • 1/2 C Crimini mushrooms, coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 of an orange Bell pepper, diced
  • 1/4 C slivered Almonds
  • 2 cloves Garlic, minced
  • Zest of 1 Orange
  • 1/4 C frozen or fresh peas, thawed

Sauce:

  • 3 Tb Olive oil
  • Juice of one orange (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1/4 C Tamari GF Soy sauce
  • 2 tsp honey
  • dash of Cayenne pepper
  • 1 Tb fresh grated ginger
  • dash of Red pepper flakes
  • 1 Tb Apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 C coconut milk mixed with 1 Tb arrowroot powder (for thickening)

Combine all sauce ingredients in a bowl, except coconut milk and arrowroot. Set aside. Using a large heavy skillet (or wok if you prefer), heat 2-3 Tb olive oil and stir fry the chicken until just cooked through, about 5-6 minutes. Remove to a plate and set aside. Heat remaining olive oil and add all “Veggies” except peas. Stir fry about 5-8 minutes or until veggies are tender. Add cooked chicken, peas and sauce ingredients, heat through. Add the coconut milk and arrowroot, stir to thicken. Dish over warm quinoa and serve.  Makes about 4 servings.

 

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SIMPLE Cilantro Salmon and Almond Feta Green Beans

Ooops we were hungry and I forgot to take a picture once it was cooked!

One of my favorite easy, healthy recipes is baked salmon (Omega-3’s baby!), or really any kind of fish. I think a lot of people assume that fish is tough to prepare well, due to numerous restaurant experiences of dried out, deflated, tough, tasteless and otherwise ill-prepared salmon, tuna or whitefish (and the list goes on), that probably cost you between $12 and $20! I cringe every time a plate of ruined fish is brought out, and I have become much less shy about sending it back. Why is it so rare to get a tender, moist and delicious piece of salmon at a restaurant? I have no idea other than maybe a tendency to overcook, or preparation by someone who doesn’t care for fish themselves. My husband and I split the filet you see here, which I bought on sale for under $5.

Fish is very easy to prepare, and baking it is a great way to skip the breading (carbs) and make use of fresh herbs and lovely oils. As a rule of thumb, for a thick piece of fish like salmon, I roast in a 400 degree oven for 15 minutes. That’s it. No flipping, turning, fussing, just bake it and check it. If it is still a little translucent in the middle, give it a few more min, but generally not more than 20 minutes total. If the variety of fish you use is thinner, start with a shorter cook time. Prep time is under 5 minutes 😉

SIMPLE Cilantro Salmon

  • Salmon filet (I used Atlantic salmon because of the rich flavor)
  • 1-2 TB fresh lemon juice (or lime)
  • 1 TB Olive oil (butter, coconut or walnut oil work well too)
  • 1/4 C finely chopped fresh cilantro (try fresh fresh dill )
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400. Spread the olive oil in a baking dish, or in this case, I lined the dish with parchment to make clean-up easier. Rub the salmon face-down in the oil, then turn face-up and rub the skin side around to distribute oil and place in center of pan leaving skin side down. Cover in lemon juice, salt and pepper and cilantro. Bake for about 15 minutes or until desired doneness. Remove from oven and allow to rest for a few minutes before dividing and serving.

I use this method as a base and change around the seasonings as the mood strikes or depending on what I have on hand. Try minced garlic, thinly sliced sweet onion, lemon zest, fresh dill or parsley, cumin, cayenne pepper… the list is only limited by what you enjoy, so experiment!

Almond Feta Green Beans

Another favorite at our house is green beans, in just about any form, we all love them! Add the crunch of slivered almonds and the tang of feta and lemon, and you have a flavorful and versatile side dish.

Almond Feta Green Beans

  • 1 lb fresh green beans, washed and trimmed
  • 2-3 TB olive oil
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1/4 C slivered almonds
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 C crumbled feta

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Combine first 5 ingredients on baking sheet or dish and bake for about 15 minutes, turning beans with a spatula half-way through. Add crumbled feta and cook for 2-3 minutes more until cheese begins to soften. Remove and serve. About 2-3 servings.

I am sure you can tell by the temp and the cook times that I was able to cook the salmon and beans at the same time, and whip up a healthy and delicious dinner in about 30 minutes. It tastes first-rate, looks pretty, and is of course, gluten-free!!

 

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Southwest Style Chicken Veggie Soup (GF of course)

So last night for dinner, we grilled a whole chicken with some smoker chunks thrown in, and afterward made a homemade chicken stock (kitchen tip to follow). Tonight I wanted to take advantage of the fresh stock and make some kind of chicken-based soup. I have already admitted that I don’t use recipes to cook most of the time, especially when it comes to food that I am comfortable with, but tonight I did make note of the ingredients that I used (just for you!) This has a nice Southwest flavor without the carbs from tortillas.

GF Southwest Style Chicken Veggie Soup

  • 2-3 TB olive oil
  • 4 leaves napa cabbage, chopped
  • 3 stalks celery, chopped
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 1 medium sweet onion, chopped
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 red sweet pepper, finely diced
  • 3 quarts homemade chicken stock (or GF canned broth, or GF chicken base and water)
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 3 TB chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 tsp arrowroot powder dissolved in a couple TB water (optional for body)
  • 1 C diced cooked chicken breast
  • 1 can cannelini or black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 can Rotel tomatoes and peppers
  • Cumin, paprika and oregano to taste
  • Sour cream and fresh cilantro as garnish (optional)

To make the soup: Heat olive oil in stock pot and add next 6 ingredients (fresh veggies). Feel free to add or omit anything that you choose, however if you add a tender vegetable like zucchini, you’ll want to wait until later in the cooking process so that it does not dissolve completely. Cook over medium heat, stirring often, until vegetables are tender. Slowly add chicken stock, followed by lime juice and cilantro, and simmer for 15 minutes or until the vegetables are as tender as you wish them to be. We prefer them a little al dente’, so I use the shorter cooking time. Slowly stir in the arrowroot and water if you choose to use it. Add chicken, beans, Rotel and spices to taste, heat through. Serve as is, or garnish with a dollop of sour cream and cilantro.

I have always had a tendency to favor fresh ingredients and clean flavors, which has translated well to a gluten-free diet so far. If you are vegetarian, simply substitute vegetable broth and skip the chicken. Likewise, if you are avoiding legumes, skip the beans. I feel that every recipe is merely a source of ideas, and encourage everyone to get comfortable with their ingredients and experiment freely.

Homemade Chicken Stock: No need to be intimidated by this task, it is very simple. Also, I tend to be frugal in the kitchen and like to make complete use of every ingredient. I can’t imagine just tossing the chicken carcass into the garbage, when I know how delish real stock is! This works just as well whether you have cooked your own whole chicken (or turkey), or if you have picked up a rotisserie chicken at the market for the sake of convenience.

To make the stock, simply collect all the bones, skin, and waste pieces from the chicken and throw them into a stock pot. Cover with water. Add a couple roughly chopped onions and cloves of garlic if you wish. Bring to a boil and cook at a medium heat (low boil), stirring occasionally, until the liquid is reduced by at least half. I usually add more water at this point and continue cooking to reduce again, to get as much flavor as possible. Place a colander into a large bowl or pot and strain stock. This can be used immediately, or refrigerated or even frozen for later use. If you would like to remove the fat, simply refrigerate until the fat rises and becomes firm, then remove it with a spoon. Homemade stock takes a little time, but the effort is truly minimal, and you will be rewarded with a richness that you can’t get from a can or powder!

 
 

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Sometimes You Feel Like a Nut! GF Walnut Butter

Walnut butter on apple slices is a great mid-day snack.

In researching the wheat-free and gluten-free way of eating, nut butters are frequently mentioned. I love the taste of nuts and the jolt of protein that they provide, but I have to be cautious when eating them because they can trigger flare-ups with IBS for me (sorry if that’s TMI, but this blog is written for health reasons!) Peanut butter is good, but gets boring pretty quickly, so I decided to try my hand at making Walnut butter. I was inspired by a visit to Nuts.com  (this is where I ordered my almond flour, which will hopefully arrive today!) and is a good source if you don’t want to go to the trouble of making it yourself, though I promise it’s easy-peasy!

Walnut Butter

  • 2 cups walnut halves, soaked overnight in water to reduce any bitterness
  • 1 TB organic honey
  • 1 TB walnut oil
  • pinch of kosher salt
  • ground cinnamon to taste

Rinse and drain the walnuts, and then roast them in a 400 degree oven for about 7 minutes, turning them over halfway through. Allow to cool completely. Using a food processor, blend the walnuts until they form a fine meal and begin to stick to the sides of the bowl. It is at this point that I added the honey and oil, and continue to process until the nuts become a bit of a paste, scraping the bowl occasionally. This will take several minutes altogether. Finally add the salt and cinnamon to taste and process to incorporate. Yields about 1 cup. Refrigerate.

I am sure that there are other methods that will result in a good nut butter, and in the future, I will try different variations. One that comes to mind is adding a dash of cayenne pepper and maybe chili powder for a spicy twist to the spread. I do adhere to a low carb diet, but I feel that adding sugars judiciously is within my personal guidelines, however if you prefer to get your carbs from another source, omit the honey. This recipe yields a butter that is not as smooth as commercial peanut butter, but is easily spreadable. Try it on apple slices, celery sticks and as an ingredient in place of peanut butter in some recipes.

 

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