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Sunday, November 22, 2009

A well-fed Mikki is a happy Mikki

Just for kicks, I checked the label of my favorite granola bar again while I was at the grocery store. Lo and behold: no more wheat! I can eat my Nature Valley granola bars again!


(Of course you have to be willing to eat oats... and I am.)

I've had 2 of the 4 kinds already, and yum, yum, yum. I am happy.

It's so awesome when I get back one of my favorite foods.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Yummmmm. Chili.

It's Wednesday, and time for another recipe for my recipe group: What Can I Eat that's Gluten Free? hosted by Linda at the Gluten-Free Homemaker.

This week's recipe? Chili!


Olive oil
2 onions
1 head of garlic, chopped
4 bell peppers, various colors
1 large carrot, sliced

2 small cans green chilis
1 can dark kidney beans, drained
1 can light kidney beans, drained
1 can pinto beans, drained
2 cans tomato sauce
2 cans diced tomatoes

2T chili powder
1/2t cayenne
1t garlic powder
1T oregano
2T basil
1T cumin

1 to 1 1/2 lb ground beef

A note: This is NOT a spicy chili. If you want spicy, then add several different kinds of peppers of whatever heat level you like. You can also increase the amount of cayenne pepper as well.


1. In a large kettle, heat olive oil over medium heat.

2. When warmed, add onion and garlic. Saute until onions begin to clear.

3. Add diced peppers and sliced carrot. Stir occasionally.

4. Meanwhile, in a separate skillet, brown meat while veggies cook. Drain, if necessary.

5. Add seasoning to veggies and stir well.

6. Add canned items to veggies.

7. Add meat.

8. Stir well.

9. Simmer on low for an hour or two, at least, or transfer to crockpot.

Note: Chili is best if allowed to cook for at least 6-7 hours (overnight). Always best the second day.


(PS - Hats off to my mom-in-law for the original recipe. Which of course I lost. Three times. And then just made up again from memory. Thanks!)

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Pork loin with apple-raisin sauce

It's Wednesday! Time to find out what you can eat that's Gluten Free. Thanks, as always, to Linda for hosting: Check out her blog to see everybody's recipes.

Step One:
Slow roast a pork loin (or your favorite cut).
Season with: garlic, onion, salt, pepper, basil, and oregano
Top with: raisins and sliced green apple
Add a little moisture, if you like - a splash of water or broth, maybe

Step Two:
After meat is finished, remove roast and cover to rest.

Step Three:
With a hand blender (or whatever), blend the juices, apples, and raisins
Strain into a saucepan or skillet to remove excess pulp and meat bits
Heat to boiling and slightly thicken with a mix of cold water and corn starch
Season to taste

Step Four:
Slice meat and top with apple-raisin sauce

PS: Sauce is also good with potatoes, even when it's not really quite thick enough to be gravy.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009


Ok, so I forgot that this week was supposed to be an appetizer week! Grr. Well, here's a salad that I usually have as an appetizer. (Does that count?)

Check out Linda's blog carnival (What Can I Eat that's Gluten-Free) for the other appetizer recipes this week. She also just posted the August summary, in case you're looking for some variety.

Caprese - a summer salad

Fresh, vine-ripe tomatos, sliced, room-temperature
Fresh mozzarella, sliced
Fresh basil, torn into small pieces
Olive oil
Salt and Pepper

Optional ingredient: Balsamic vinegar (I always used to add this, but it is mostly an American addition, from what I've been told. I tried Caprese without, and it is better. The flavor balance changes dramatically. It's a very different dish if you add the vinegar.)
  1. Layer the tomato and mozzarella slices on a plate.
  2. Sprinkle with basil salt and pepper.
  3. When ready to serve, drizzle a little olive oil over the whole dish.
  4. If you're a vinegar person, you can sprinkle a little of the balsamic over the plate as well, but just before serving. The vinegar combined with the salt and tomatoes will turn everything mushy if left sitting.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Steak Ceasar

It's Wednesday, and time for "What can I Eat that's Gluten Free?"

Thin-sliced steaks, any cut. (I prefer strips or sirloins for this salad.)
Romaine lettuce
Cardini's original salad dressing
Parmesan and/or romano cheese
Thin-sliced red onion and tomato
GF croutons

I like to either marinade/glaze the meat with the salad dressing or season it with garlic powder, salt and pepper before grilling. After grilling, let the meat sit for a few minutes before slicing thin.

Prepare salad as usual.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Meatloaf and pan-fried potatoes

Well, it's Wednesday, and time for another recipe. This is the least random part of my blog, but I didn't pick the day, so it still feels sort of random to me!

This week: Meatloaf!

Ok, so it's just a link to an old post, but I don't think I've added it to my recipe circle before.... I hope.

I just made this yesterday, and for a side dish I briefly fried some thin-sliced potatoes and onions in olive oil - just enough to brown them up - then I added a little water, covered them and turned off the heat. Oh, if you're using a gas stove, you'll want to keep it on low.) The steam cooked them the rest of the way while we set the table and got drinks. Salt and pepper to taste.

Ta-da! Dinner!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Yet another reason to <3 Ben and Jerry's

What's for Dinner Wednesday has changed names again
and is now What Can I Eat that's Gluten Free?

This week, we are focusing on cold treats, and so I am featuring Ben & Jerry's. My birthday was Sunday, and I love ice cream cake, but I haven't been able to enjoy any for a while. Ben & Jerry's is my new hero. See, the Dairy Queen, Carvel, and Maggie Moo's cakes all have a cookie crumble or cake layer or both, but Ben & Jerry's allows you to have a gluten-free cake.

You have two options: all ice cream or you can bring in your own filling. You can bring in cookies or brownies, whichever you like, and then you place a special order. The Ben & Jerry's that I visited had a binder at the counter that listed all the gluten free ice creams. I chose Phish Food and Vanilla, chose my cake style, and handed over my brownies. The clerk wrote "GLUTEN FREE - USE CUSTOMER BROWNIES" in the special instructions. Even better: we got a discount for bringing in our own brownies.

I came back a day and a half later to pick it up, and it looked good and tasted good, too.

Check the Ben & Jerry's website for a location near you!

Friday, July 31, 2009

Got Celiac? Start Here

Recently I was contacted in regards to a new cookbook: gluten free every day by Chef Robert Landolphi.

Would I like a free preview copy? No strings attached. Feel free to write about it on your blog, but you don't have to.

um... ... ... YES!

Shortly thereafter, the book arrived, and I began to read. Turns out it's not just a cookbook.

The whole first chapter, "Gluten Free Basics", is informative. Each successive chapter begins with a quick breakdown of what you need to know to cook the type of food in that chapter. Some of these informational segments are just a few sentences, and others, such as chapter three "Entrees", for example, you get a two page list of possible coatings to replace the traditional flour breading. (THANK YOU!)

I wish I had had this book last year when I was first diagnosed. I didn't know which way to turn, and it seemed that almost the books I came across were either way too organic or too gourmet for my tastes and style. (Or they just had awful foods! Bleah.)

This book is excellent for someone who is just starting out. It's easy to read and it does not contain the words "for dummies" (for me this is super-important).

It's also a fairly versatile book. It has recipes that would appeal to a variety of people. Here's a short list of some of the items it contains:
  • Beer-battered onion rings (super yummy, btw, and a little spicy!)
  • Baked beans
  • Cranberry-Hazelnut Rice Stuffing
  • Shrimp and Vegetable Pad Thai
  • White Chicken Chili
  • Ricotta Cream Berry Trifle
  • Parmesean-Pesto Chicken with Pecans
I think that whether you're just starting out on your gluten free life or you've been at it a while and are just looking for something new and interesting, this is a good book. I hope you like it as much as I do.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

I think I'm in love with Bette Hagman

For those of you who don't know, Bette Hagman is one of THE people to buy a cookbook from if you have celiac disease. I have tried recipe after recipe from her book The Gluten-Free Gourmet Cooks Comfort Food and I have loved them all.

Today she saved me from a world with no pie. Yes, that's right, pie. I love pie. I spent years finding and perfecting the perfect pie crust, and then -poof!- no more pie for me! So very very very sad was I.

But take a look at this.

Isn't it just gorgeous?!

This is my deep dish strawberry rhubarb pie with a gluten-free crust. The crust was easy to work with, flaky, crisp, soft, and practically perfect. It's just going to take a little tweaking, and I think it will be just as good, if not better than, my original, wheat-filled crust!

Buy the book. Buy it. Now.

Here's my strawberry rhubarb pie recipe for you:
4 cups rhubarb
3 cups strawberry
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup corn starch

Place in your favorite pie shell. Brush top with beaten egg white and sprinkle with sugar, if desired.

Bake at 425 for 50 minutes. Put a cookie sheet on the rack below the pie to catch any drips. Loosely cover pie with foil part way through baking to keep crust from burning.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

What's for Dinner Wednesday - Dessert Week

Yum! Dessert! Be sure to check out all the yummies over at the Gluten-Free Homemaker today! And be sure to forgive the awful quality of these pictures. I am ashamed of myself for making you look at them. I will make it up to you my graciously accepting the new camera you buy for me for my birthday so that I no longer have to take pictures of things with my phone. You're welcome.

To the recipe!

This one is quick and easy and good luck fighting others off so you can get some yourself. And by quick, I mean, I had everything assembled, done and tidied up in the time it took my husband to go pick up the girl from youth group and come back again. I also had a nice surprise for them to come back to. Yay, me!

Chocolate-Dipped Strawberries and Whatnot

  1. Bowl
  2. Spoon
  3. Knife
  4. Wax paper

  1. Almond Bark
  2. Oil
  3. Berries

(Yup, that's it)

Suggested Optional Ingredients - for toppings: (double check for gluten-free-ness!)
  • Sprinkles
  • Coconut (Weird, but tasty!)
  • Crumbled cookies
  • Mini-chocolate chips (Nothing like chocolate topped chocolate!)

  1. Chop almond bark into smallish chunks and place in microwave-safe bowl with the oil. You want approx. 1 t of oil for every 4 oz. of chocolate.
  2. Microwave 30 seconds, remove, stir. Repeat as needed until chocolate is melted - smooth and silky. KEEP AWAY FROM ALL LIQUID! (If you've just washed your berries, pat them dry before dipping!)
  3. Grasp strawberry by top. Dip and roll in the chocolate.
  4. Dip and roll in topping, if desired.
  5. Place on wax paper to harden (takes only minutes - no need to refrigerate)
As you can see, I also dipped some fresh cherries. Super Yum.

Note: The Mrs. Fields recipe I based this on/hijaked this from uses actual chocolate, but my mother-in-law got me hooked on this almond bark, so that's what I use. You don't really NEED the oil when using the bark, but I liked how it changed the consistency, and I always use it now.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

It's a Celiac Miracle!

Well, maybe miracle is too strong a word. Or maybe my food life has just been more sad than I'm willing to admit. Either way, today was a good day.

First, breakfast. I had Cocoa Pebbles. Yup. Apparently everybody and their sister (including Rachel Ray) knew this already, but I had heard that Post had changed the recipe for Pebbles and had added barley malt, thus rendering it inedible to me. That was only for the Fruity Pebbles, though.

Here's the great part: Jim bought Cocoa and Fruity Pebbles for breakfast, and I picked up the Fruity Pebbles box to longingly peruse the ingredient list, pining and wishing the barley malt would not be on the list. AND IT WAS NOT! This of course prompted me to rush right to the web and check for the possibility that Fruity Pebbles were again gluten free, which led to my discovery that Cocoa Pebbles were, which led to my investigation of polydextrose (labeled as "fiber source"), which led to the discovery that polydextrose really isn't a fiber, but just more of a sugar/lubricant/thingy, which led to me eating one of my favorite cereals of ALL TIME for breakfast!

Tomorrow: Fruity Pebbles

(That may not seem so great to some of you, but I stopped eating cereal several years ago. I thought that the high amount of cold milk in the morning was making my stomach hurt. Silly me. It's fanTAStic to be able to eat some of my favorite cereals again and not hurt a bit.)


And if that wasn't enough, we checked out a new restaurant for dinner: T-Rex. Think Rainforest Cafe meets dinosaurs. Pretty great.

When I asked if a gluten-free menu was available, the staff said they could do one better, and one of the chefs came out to talk to me and walk me through what I could eat. Fully half of the menu was available, and he said that there were also several things that he could alter for me if I really really wanted them.

He said he would be making my dinner, and once I had ordered, he would come talk to me if I accidentally ordered something I shouldn't have. This turned out to be a good thing as the server forgot to make a substitution and accidentally left the gluten-filled side on the order. Oops! The chef popped out right away to check with me what I wanted in its place.


And the food was good, too!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Steak and roasted potatoes - What's for Dinner Wednesday

Over at the Gluten Free Homemaker, Linda hosts a weekly recipe exchange. If you have to eat gluten-free, head on over and check it out!

This week, I'm posting an easy one: Steak and Taters!

I like to marinade my steaks, or at the very least, season them with some pepper and garlic. Then, to the grill! Yum.

One of my favorite sides, though, is today's recipe: grilled baby red potatoes. Now I probably have about a hundred different ways to cook potatoes, but this is one of my favorites.

  1. Half or quarter potatoes so that the pieces are about the same size as the pearl onions.
  2. Peel pearl onions and garlic cloves.
  3. Toss all three with olive oil and seal tightly in a long, flat tin foil package. The goal is to have a single layer of veggies in the packet, so you may need more than one packet if you're making a lot of potatoes.
  4. Put the packet on the grill about 10 minutes before the steaks. I usually throw them on first and then come back in and get everything together for the rest of the meal and then I take the steaks out to grill.
  5. Flip the packets when you put the steaks on. The potatoes should be done when your steaks are.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

What's for Dinner Wednesday

This week in our What's for Dinner recipe exchange over at the Gluten-Free Homemaker, we're doing lunch recipes. One of my favorite lunches is salads, so I'm sending everyone back in time to my hamburger salad recipes.


Be sure to jump on over and check out the rest of this week's recipes, too!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

What's for Dinner - Gluten Free style

Nothing too fancy this week, just one of my favorites... It's loosely based on a Carbonara recipe. Emphasis on loosely. And as always, my chicken-allergic peoples, feel free to substitute some lean pork or something else you like for the chicken.

Chicken & Bacon Alfredo
Amounts of ingredients should be based on how many people you're cooking for. I usually use 4-5 chicken thighs, a medium onion, 4-7 cloves of garlic, a handful of bacon, and two jars of sauce. This gets our family of 4 a full meal plus leftovers for the next day's lunch.

1. Saute chopped onion and garlic in some butter or olive oil until tender.
2. Add chopped bacon, and saute quickly. If not using pre-cooked bacon, be sure bacon is completely cooked/crispy before adding chicken.
3. Add chopped chicken and saute, stirring frequently, until chicken is nearly cooked through.
4. Add Alfredo sauce. My favorite is Classico: one jar of alfredo and one of 4 cheese alfredo. (So many of their sauces are GF, and they're soooooooo yummy, too!)
5. Reduce heat and simmer gently while you make pasta. Toss and serve.

This recipe is part of our recipe group. Come and join us at The Gluten Free Homemaker!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Accidental Soup

On Sunday morning I put some food in the crockpot for lunch. I meant to turn it down to low before we left, but I forgot, and so it sat on high heat for 6 hours. When we came home, my daughter took a look at it and exclaimed, "You made soup?! Yum!"

... I didn't mean to make soup. But it was super yummy as a soup/stew, so that's how we ate it. I pulled out the meat, stripped it off the bones, and stirred it back in.


approx. 2 lb chicken pieces
garlic powder
gf seasoned salt
dried onion flakes
2 cans tomato sauce
1 can each green beans and corn
4 carrots, peeled and thick-sliced
1 green pepper, chopped

1. layer chicken in crockpot, seasoning with the garlic, pepper, salt, oregano, and onion flakes
2. add chopped vegetables and pour tomato sauce over everything
3. accidentally cook on high for 6 hours :)
4. If needed, remove bones and skin
5. stir well to break up meat into small pieces
6. if sauce is too thick for your taste, add some gf chicken broth to thin

Like this recipe? Check out the other ones in our group this week: What's For Dinner Wednesday's

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Oriental chicken and broccoli cheese casserole-thingy

Look, don't EVER put me in charge of naming stuff in a cookbook, okay? Okay.

Having said, that, here's a yummy recipe. If you haven't discovered it yet, I cook like a grandma, so expect no measurements!

Here we go.


Oriental Chicken:
1. Mix Sesame oil, oriental curry, and ginger together. Brush on chicken while it bakes, basting occasionally. TIP: for more intense flavors, marinate chicken with the mixture in a ziploc for a while (30 minutes to a day). I use a ziploc because then you can use less marinade.

2. Put chicken in oven to cook and start broccoli dish.

Broccoli Cheese Casserole-Thingy:
1. You need fresh broccoli, cream sauce mix, and cheese.

2. Make cream sauce. (See previous recipe for instructions if you don't have your own. The sauce instructions are at the end of the post.)
3. While sauce cooks, chop broccoli. I used I head from the produce section: stems and pieces. Put in a small baking dish.

4. Add cheese over top of broccoli.
5. Finally, pour sauce over broccoli and cheese. Toss in oven with chicken to cook. They should finish up about the same time.

6. Top with more cheese once casserole is cooked, if you wish. (I did.) This small dish served average-sized side portions for 2 adults and 2 children.


Friday, February 27, 2009

Ugh - here we go again!

Yesterday, I missed my celiac post. Guess why?

Nope. No alien invasion.

Nope. No sick kids.

Nope. No good TV.

YES! Because I am dumb. I got glutinized. (whee) Back when I first was diagnosed, I was afraid to eat ANYTHING I didn't make myself. Even then, sometimes, I wasn't too sure. As I've come along these 9 months, I've become braver and started eating out again. Turns out that a dish I thought I had verified as safe is really not safe.

Wednesday night, I ate one of my favorites from the local Chinese place. It was SO good that I had two servings. I got a full 8 hours sleep, but woke exhausted the next AM. Weird, but whatever, right? I took the rest of the Chinese with me for lunch. After dinner, I crashed. I completely missed the rest of Thursday night. I slept, and slept, and slept. I slept so hard that I missed Jim leaving, coming home, leaving again, coming home again, working on video editing, Annie running a remote control toy, Jimmy coming in and out of the room.... I was asleep, face down in a pillow. According to Jim, he's never seen anyone actually sleep face down before.

I woke up long enough to watch a movie with Jim, and then went to bed. I woke up today feeling logy and I couldn't concentrate and I had trouble following complicated thoughts (aka brain fog) and my face was red and itchy and my insides ache and I'm having an acne breakout.


...and I was so happy that I didn't have a breakout this month, too.


Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Oh, my -- It all makes so much sense now.

I was reading one of the gluten-free blogs I follow: Gluten Free Homemaker. Linda wrote a post called "How Gluten Affects Me Mentally," and I swear it gave me chills because it reminded me SO much of problems I have had. (and sometimes still have! maybe I'm still getting gluten, even though I don't think I am?!?)

The part that got me the most was this:
"When gluten is carried by the blood to the brain, it causes problems. Dr. Fasano explained that the gluten molecule is similar to endorphins which, along with other things, give us a sense of well-being. The gluten molecules will dock where endorphins are supposed to dock. In effect, the gluten blocks endorphins and the positive feelings they can give us."

Translation: Gluten leaking into your system can turn you into an angry, moody, unhappy beast! Whoa. No wonder I felt so out of control.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

My Celiac Journey -- Part IV -- Changes

Just beginning the series? Here’s what you’ve missed.


Thanks for being understanding about my taking a break last week. I hope you’re enjoying my story. This episode picks up where Part III left off: I had just received my diagnosis after a series of Thursday appointments with my doctor. In the face of the unknown, my husband was comforting and encouraging. I was scared.


From fear to uncertainty.

Once the initial trauma of a confirmed diagnosis passed, I had to face the fact that I really had no idea what to do to deal with my new requirements in life.
Celiac disease (if you don’t know already) is an autoimmune disorder. People with celiac are gluten intolerant. If we ingest anything made with wheat, rye, barley, or one of its derivatives, our bodies react by attacking the gluten. This attack occurs in the digestive system - the small intestine to be exact. For more info, visit the National Institutes of Health’s Celiac Awareness page.
I had to start my very own awareness campaign, reading web pages, books (thanks to my mom-in-law!), recipes, a listserve, blogs… anything and everything I could get my hands on. I had never heard of Celiac, much less met anyone else with it. I had no one to turn to, no one who had been there. I forged my own way through information towards knowledge.
(Need info? Email me! I’ll send you whatever you need.)

From uncertainty to training
I tried to approach this new phase of my life much like I approached being an athlete when in high school. I set aside time every day to work on this problem. I adjusted what I ate immediately, focusing on pure, whole, simple foods. I made it a priority, and strove to become the best -- the best cook, baker, shopper, experimenter, and researcher.

One of the first things I did was purge and sort my pantry. I gave away much of what I could no longer eat. Jim voluntarily gave up much of his gluten-filled foods to help me through the transition. It helped so much to have it almost completely out of the house for a while. For my favorite items, I went to the websites and looked them up. They were sorted into keep and don’t keep piles.

The first time that I went to the grocery store, my shopping time more than doubled: from one hour to about two and a half. I armed myself with lists of acceptable, questionable, and forbidden ingredients and additives. I took my kids with me for moral support. I took my cell phone. I took a cart full of patience.

Produce section: EASY! Woohoo!

Gluten free shelves! Hooray!

Gluten free macandcheese?!? AWESOME! ($4.25 a serving?!? SO WORTH IT.)

Dressings, marinades, and sauces. Oh, crap. From that spot forward, until I got to meats and dairy at the end, I was in super-slow crawl mode.

Many items I could quickly decide yes or no. All of the rest of the items I called the 800 number on the packaging. I asked for verification of gluten or no gluten. The customer service people -- ALL OF THEM -- were super helpful and most of them took my email address and sent full gf product lists to me.

That last paragraph doesn’t really capture the drudgery of this first trip. So many of my absolute favorite items went back on the shelf. So, so many. By the third aisle, I was in tears. Often, this scene was played:
One of the kids would bring me an item.
I would read the label while they stood in front of me, their little eyes fixed on my face, waiting.
Sometimes the wheat or barley was clearly labeled, sometimes I double checked my lists.
Then once of them would ask, “Well?” so hopefully.
My throat would close up, I would shake my head.
“Put it back,” I would whisper. “Put it back.”

Read, sort, repeat
Read, sort, repeat
Read, sort, repeat

From training to toddling
It wasn’t long - a week, maybe two - before I felt more in control. I started cooking with more confidence, ruined fewer dishes, started finding a little variety in my meals.

It WAS long before I was willing to try any sort of processed food, junk food, multiple-ingredient food, or mixed beverages. I was a purist for a long, long time.

It was hard, but it tasted good.
I felt good.
I looked good.
My skin was good.
My hair was shiny.
The shadows under my eyes faded.
The swelling in my gut disappeared.

I cheated once: when Little Ceasar’s pizza opened nearby. It was NOT worth it. I haven’t cheated since. It doesn’t matter how good something tastes: if it’s going to rip apart your digestive system, it’s NOT worth it.

Once I was comfortable with maintaining my new lifestyle, it was time to change again: from toddling to running. It was time to start experimenting. Oh, yes. Time indeed.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Celiac Disease has gone to my head (and wallet)

Just beginning the series? Here’s what you’ve missed.

Part I -- The Diet Contest


Thanks for the comments last week. I'm glad you’re enjoying my story. This week, I don't have the next episode ready: It's been a crazy week. Instead, I'm going to share with you a current snippet of my life with celiac sprue.


I went to the grocery store today, and like I always do, I looked for new gluten-free products in the freezer case. I didn't really expect to find any; I don't shop at a specialty store or anything, so I usually just make do with what I can find or simply do without.

Today, I found two - TWO - technically FOUR if you count variants - new products! Oh, happy happy happy day. I almost did a little dance right there in the freezer section. I mean I would have, but I kinda forgot how joyful I felt in the midst of the shock. Three of the four items WERE ON SALE! $2.99 for a box of gluten free Van's toaster waffles! Oh, happy day!


I bought these.

$6.95. Not on sale. TOTALLY worth it. I haven't had doughnuts since last spring.

And these.

And these.

This, my friends, is what we call "stocking up". Did I mention they were on sale?

Happy day.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Check out this new GF Magazine (and a recipe)

Ooo! I love cooking. Don't you?

I made Chicken and Rice last night, and was all proud of myself for finding a gf soup base so that I could make a cream of chicken soup and actually eat the same dinner as my family. (Whoo!) It was awesome.

But, as often happens, with a small victory comes a reminder of how things used to be. I used to be able to flip randomly and happily through cookbooks and magazines, and simply stop at what caught my eye. Then, I would just make it. So long as I knew what the ingredients were, I was golden.

I feel that I am taking a step back in that direction today. Today, Linda over at The Gluten-Free Homemaker posted some interesting links, one of which was about a new magazine: Delight GF Magazine. I looked at the pages they had available online, and I bought a subscription. I cannot WAIT for the first one to come, especially since one of the editors is the Celiac Princess.

I'll tell you how it is once I get a copy! For now, here's the recipe I promised you:

Chicken and Rice, traditional (NON-GF: see below for GF soup mix.)

1 stick butter
1 can cream of chicken
1 can cream of mushroom
1 can cream of celery
2 cans water
1 package boneless chicken, 6-8 pieces (white or dark meat)
1 cup of rice

1. Mix together the first 5 ingredients in a saucepan, heat until bubbly.
2. Pour a little soup into a 13x9 baking pan, just enough to cover the bottom. Lay the chicken evenly in next, then sprinkle the rice evenly over top of the chicken. Finally, pour the remaining soup in, taking care to completely cover the rice. (If any rice is sticking out the top of the soup, it will dry out and become crunchy instead of absorbing the soup.)
3. Bake at 350 for about an 40 minutes - hour; bake longer if you want the soup to be more completely absorbed. The top will brown up and get bubbly.

**For my non-chicken eating friends: feel free to substitute! Use boneless pork (tenderloin or sirloin chops), and replace the cream of chicken with a second can of the cream of mushroom or the cream of celery soup.

**For my non-gluten eating friends: You only need to change out the soup. Baking time is the same. The soup recipe that I used was super simple, and comes from The Gluten Free Gourmet Cooks Comfort Foods book.
Cream soup base: (p.277)
1 cup milk powder (or milk powder substitute)
1 cup white rice flour
2 T dried minced onions
1/2 t pepper
1/2 t salt
3 T powdered soup base

To make the soup (makes 1 cup soup):
1. In a small saucepan, blend 3 T of the base with 1/4 cup cold water.
2. Add 1 cup water or chicken stock and cook over medium heat, stirring, until soup thickens.

NOTE: I could not find a powdered soup base, what I found was more of a paste, and I simply added 1 t of the base for each cup of soup that I was making. This particular base says "gluten free" on the front left of the label and does not require refrigeration. I found it near the spaghetti sauces. It took me forever to find it because I had no idea what I was looking for, so I thought I'd include a picture for you.

Enjoy your chicken and rice!

Friday, February 6, 2009

Shameless Self-Centered Moment!

My Uno Chicago Grill review is up now on Gluten Free in Baltimore, in case you were waiting for it....... (like me!)

Thursday, February 5, 2009

My Celiac Journey -- Part III -- It was Thursday

Just beginning the series? Here’s what you’ve missed.

Part I -- The Diet Contest

Part II -- “You look allergic.”


Thanks for the comments last week. I hope you’re enjoying my story. This episode picks up where Part II left off: Tests and more tests. What was wrong with me, anyway?


How is it possible for life to move too fast and too slow all at the same time? It was about a month from that first Thursday visit when I met Dr. Schultz before I knew for sure what was going on with my body. The time dragged endlessly before me, but now, remembering, I can’t recall having had the time to do a thing. Where did the time go?

I had returned for my follow-up appointment. The tests had come back negative, just like they always had. Dr. Schultz was sure I that I was experiencing problems from something in my diet, and based on our conversations he decided that it was wheat that was bothering me. However, he was not sure that the wheat problem was actually an allergy.

He decided to let me try eating wheat, to judge my reaction to it. It was quite awful - all the ickiness I had been experiencing returned after just a day and a half of eating wheat. So Dr. Schultz tested me for Celiac Disease: a simple blood test would check for the two antibodies produced by those with celiac disease. It would just take a little while to run the tests. I went to the lab. The technician drew more vials of blood. It was a Thursday.

One week later, I was standing near the phone, talking with my husband, debating how long it would be before the test results came back. I had spent the week researching Celiac Disease and its effects, and I was stressed. I didn’t WANT to have an incurable auto-immune disease. (Who does, right?) At the same time, I couldn’t deny that I had many of the symptoms.

I think I was hoping for a simple allergy. We have some weird dietary allergies in my family - what was one more? I could picture us all, sitting around the table, trying to one-up each other’s allergies. Yeah.

The phone rang.

We tensed.

It was the doctor. The tests for both antibodies were positive. VERY positive. I hadn’t eaten wheat for weeks, except for two days when I added it back it to see if it would affect how I felt. Two days, and the results were super high.

I don’t know what I said on the phone. I remember the sunshine in the windows. I remember the look on Jim’s face. I remember hanging up the phone and saying, “Well! … I guess … Aw, crap.” And then I cried. I don’t remember him moving, but suddenly Jim was there and hugging me. It was going to be Ok. It was. We could do it. We could do it together. We could.

There are very few moments that are frozen in my memory. This added one more to my list.

It was Thursday.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Gluten Free pizza CAN be yummy. (Who knew?)

Apparently UNOs Chicago Grill knew. They did a trial run of a gf thin crust pizza. Everybody cheered. --yay!-- They took it nationwide. Everybody cheered louder. --YAY-- My mom told me about it. I cheered. --Huzzah!--

Yup. That's me.

So, here's a picture:

Two words: Yum.My. Go get you some.

I wrote a review for Gluten Free in Baltimore, but it's not up yet. Should be there next week! Oo! and there's a new contributor there, too. She's all sorts of smart, has been studying Celiac Disease and is even a published author on the gluten-y subjects, so go get you some of her knowledge, too.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

My Celiac Journey -- Part II -- “You look allergic.”

Just beginning the series? Here’s what you’ve missed.

Part I - The Weight Loss Competition


Thanks for the kudos last week. I hope you’re enjoying my story. This episode picks up where Part I left off: Was I being a hypochondriac or was something actually wrong with me?


I couldn’t stop thinking about how, 2 years earlier, I had done some research and realized that I was showing symptoms of Bi-Polar Disorder. I had taken my fears to a psychiatrist, and he agreed with me. He started me on Lithium, which I hated, hated, hated. But it seemed to help. It was bad enough learning to cope with that. I wasn’t sure that I wanted to find out something else was wrong with me.

I lived in denial for as long as I could, making excuses for myself. Eventually, I could stand it no longer. That night I bit the bullet: I pulled up to my laptop and typed in I started searching by symptoms:

  1. Fatigue - slept about 9-10 hours a night and still needed an afternoon nap. Check.
  2. Achy joints - even on warm days now, and can't write for very long anymore either. Check.
  3. Strange, triangular flush/rash on my cheeks - and it's spreading now, too. Check.
  4. Tenderness in my skin. Check.
  5. Easily bruised. Check.
  6. Blood sugar irregularities. Check.

WebMD came back with a variety of results: Rheumatoid arthritis, Cronic Fatigue Syndrome, Lupus. Wait. Lupus?! I pulled up the symptom checksheet for lupus. It wasn't a perfect fit, but it was really really close. I was terrified, but I just couldn’t bring myself to face another diagnosis like that. I kept talking myself out of going to see a doctor.

Then I got the Headache.

It wouldn't go away. It didn't matter what I took, it got worse and worse and worse. My co-workers and students questioned my health, I shrugged it off. One night I got a glass of wine to try to relax, not knowing that the tannins in red wine can actually cause headaches.

The pain in my head exploded exponentially, and I ended up in the urgent care, thrashing in the worst agony I had ever felt. I missed 2 days of work before it faded back to a steady ache. I had that headache for 2 weeks before I dragged myself to a doctor.

I needed a new doctor, so I searched for an office that had an endocrinologist on staff, just in case I did have Lupus (God forbid). I made the appointment, left a little early from work, and went to see Dr. Shultz.

Dr. Shultz looked like he should be a jolly old grandpa, sitting on a front porch somewhere, drinking lemonade and telling stories. His eyes were twinkly, and he had a very friendly smile, and I knew, just looking at him that he was really, really, really smart.

He took one look at me, cocked his head to the side, and said, "I think this is a visit that I need to sit down for." He sat, crossed his legs, and waited. “What’s wrong with you?” was all he asked, and then he let me talk.

I poured it out to him: everything EXCEPT my trip to WebMD. Would he say lupus? I didn't know. All I knew was that I didn’t want to say that word. I had always wondered in the back of my head what the psychiatrist would have said if I hadn’t gone in biased towards a diagnosis. I didn’t want to influence this doctor, too.

When I stopped, Dr. Shultz just made a grunting noise, as if in agreement with what I had said, then he did a quick examination. He touched the hot patches on my cheeks, looked at my cold, cold hands, felt my neck, checked my reflexes and the joints in my wrists and fingers. And then came the questions:

  1. Did my hands, feet, or face fall asleep? .....yes
  2. Hmm. Did the cold make my hands hurt? .....yes
  3. Hmm. How long had I had that acne? (And here I began to wonder where he was headed) ...since my pregnancy - my son was born 9 years ago
  4. MmHmm. Did I get gassy a lot? Belching? Passing gas? .....I guess so.
  5. More than I used to? ......yeah, but I'm starting to get older. (Here he gave me a fairly dirty look over the top of his glasses. I grinned sheepishly.)
  6. MmHmm. Diarrhea? (Now I was really confused) .....I guess so, sometimes.
  7. What's your favorite food? (I stared at him blankly.)

He sat down again, licked his lips, and smiled. He didn’t seem to care that I hadn’t answered that last one. He just looked at me over the top of his glasses again, and said:

"You look allergic."

Those three words changed my life forever. He took me off of all wheat, corn, and dairy products, as well as all artificial flavors and preservatives. It would clean out my system, he said. You’ll lose some weight this week, he said, and that’s ok. Just be sure to keep eating balanced meals.

In addition, he told me that I have Renaud's phenomenon - that was the cold hands and feet.

Finally, (just in case) he was having me tested for rheumatoid arthritis and lupus, and he ordered a broad blood test which would look for other, similar issues. Then he sent me home and told me to come back in two weeks.

Those were the longest two weeks of my life. All I could hear, over and over was the word "lupus". He had said it. He had really said it.

On the bright side, I won the weight-loss contest for the first time in forever: that first week I dropped 10 pounds.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

To my gluten-free readers

Well, I've made the big(ger) time! I've been accepted as an associate writer on another blog: Gluten Free in Baltimore.

I don't live in Baltimore, but I found the site when I was looking to visit there with my family in December. There are restaurant reviews, product reviews, and so forth. Feel free to come on over and check it out.

The introductory post: A Warm Welcome to our Newest Associate Contributor
My self-introductory post: From the Desk of Mikki Black

Thursday, January 22, 2009

My Celiac Journey - Part I: The weight loss competition

This begins a series of weekly posts chronicling my journey through my diagnosis with celiac disease. I began my blog with the intention of doing a celiac entry each Thursday (the day of my diagnosis), but I wasn't ready. I didn't know enough about what was happening to me.

The first several weeks will be a look back to the first months of 2008. Eventually I will catch up to the present. Perhaps then I will return to a weekly journal of my current life with Celiac Disease. Until then, I hope you enjoy reading my story.

(I know I say in the catchline that "predictability's for chumps", but I guess I can make ONE exception, right?)


Part I: The Weight Loss Competition

I teach high school, not the most active of trades, and in January 2008, the beginning of second semester, my friends and I formed a weight loss group. $5 to get in, $1 a week from each losing competitor. Whoever saw the most improvement in their BMI would win the kitty. We decided pounds off was not just unhealthy, but unfair, as we were all coming from different starting points.

We locked the door to the bookroom, took our "before" pictures, and broke out the measuring tape. We brought in a communal scale for our weekly weigh-ins. We set BMI and weight loss goals. We swapped exercise stories and favorite workout class info and changed to healthier eating habits.

I found a great website called TOPS: Taking off Pounds Sensibly, joined up, and started following it as closely as possible. I was working out and eating right and drinking lots of water. And I got GREAT results, at first. I started to feel better and trim down, but then...

Something strange started happening to me.

I started feeling really sluggish, for starters. It got harder and harder to make it to the gym because I was so sleepy, just bone tired. I've always been able to sleep at the drop of a hat, but I lost the need for the hat. I would often come home from work and crash on the couch for a nap. Eventually, I'd have to drag myself to the kitchen to make dinner, and then I'd go back to the couch. I usually was able to stay up past the kids' bedtime of 8:30, but often I'd fall asleep while watching TV with Jim. I'd sleep for 8-9 hours before getting up the next day and starting all over again. This pattern became more and more normal for me.

I was SO tired. The tired-ness started affecting my work habits, my dress, my attention span, everything.

Imagine you're a teen-ager for a minute. You go to English class, and your teacher is pushing papers around, shuffling through different stacks. Then she picks up an attendance sheet and proceeds to take attendance for the last 3 days. This is then followed by the question, "Alright, what did we do in here yesterday?" and once in a while this one, "I didn't give you homework, did I? No? Good."

We made it work, somehow. My students still had about a 98% pass rate on their state tests that year, and most of them passed the class, too. I had no trouble teaching or grading, but my memory of what was happening day to day was shot.

I lost everything: keys, glasses, papers, homework, my purse, my phone... you name it. Most of those things were found later. Most.

After a while, I started noticing changes in my digestive system, too. I started getting really gassy, especially if I ate fast food, but for the most part I was eating well, so I didn't know what was up with that.

To make matters worse, even though I was still going to the gym once or twice a week, and only eating about 1,000-1,300 calories a day, I wasn't losing weight. I was gaining.

I blamed it on stress. I blamed it on my busy schedule: I had the school newspaper to revive, a college level class to teach, a regular level class - I was the anime club sponsor and the lead teacher for the 11th grade English as well. I blamed it on getting old, I was 30 after all. I blamed the weather. I blamed my lack of a work-out buddy. I blamed my lack of sleep.

It didn't matter what I blamed it on. The longer we dieted together, the less I could keep up. My friends were all losing weight, slimming down. They were looking better and getting bouncier. I was getting slower. My initial weight losses reversed. My measurements were going up. All my health problems were getting worse instead of better. And then, I started developing new problems.

I was scared.

My friends were confused. I was eating so well! Lots of whole grains, nice balanced meals, fruits and vegetables, too. I was working out. It was so strange. “Was I cheating at home?” they wondered. No. No, I was not.

I told myself it was nothing. It was just me being a hypochondriac again. But a little voice inside me pointed to the last time I thought I was being a hypochondriac.

I ended up with a bipolar disorder diagnosis.

See you next week for Part II: “You look allergic”

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Spoonbread is my hero

I was in desperate need of a replacement dinner to one that I lost last spring with my celiac diagnosis, and flipping through my GF cookbooks' chicken recipes, I came across spoon bread.

I have heard of spoon bread, but I had no idea what it was. I especially had no idea that it was a type of chicken casserole. Say it with me, people: YUM! The nice thing is that this is a GF recipe, but my family LOVED it. Even Jim, who has a picky palette, said, "Put it on the list!" YAY!

So here it is... I forgot to take a picture, but here's a picture of a jalapeno spoon bread from Lisa's Kitchen that looks almost exactly like mine did before we attacked.... :)

Nifty fact: her recipe is also GF.

Nifty Fact 2: This is a really good leftover recipe because you just need chopped up chunks of chicken.

Chicken Spoon Bread (recipe from Bette Hagman's The Gluten-Free Gourmet Cooks Comfort Foods)

375 degrees, 40 minutes (or until done)

3/4C cornmeal
2T GF flour mix *
1t salt
4C GF chicken broth
1/4C butter or margerine
4 eggs, separated
3C chopped cooked chicken

  1. In a large saucepan, combine cornmeal, flour mix, and salt. Stir in the broth. Cook over medium-high heat until thickened.
  2. Add butter and beaten egg yolks.
  3. Stir in the chicken.
  4. Beat the egg whites until stiff. Fold into the mixture.
  5. Spoon into a greased 2.5 quart casserole and bake.
Super yum!

*If you don't have a flour mix, you can use 4t rice flour, 1/2t tapioca flour, and 3/4t potato starch.
*Also, if gluten is not a problem for you, you can always substitute 2T wheat flour.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Wow. I'm famous.

Check it out, guests and followers! I got my first guest appearance invite over at One Weigh at a Time. Ciara and Clara (aka Mommy!) run the website, and they invited me over to share some of my story.

Go and check it out, sillies! Hope you like it.

Friday, January 2, 2009

A Celiac Christmas - The End

Thanks to everyone who was so supportive - especially my kids; my amazing husband who didn't bat an eye when I ate a cookie, cried because it was bad, and then ate another cookie; and my moms and dads - during this first holiday adventure with Celiac Disease lurking behind me like the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come.

I gained much knowledge. I dealt with my losses. I made new blog contacts. All in all, a good season.

Some things that I gained:
  • The knowledge that brown rice flour makes cookies gritty
  • Excitement that cream cheese cookies and holly cookies are still good without gluten
  • Encouragement
  • Support
  • A chance to spread knowledge
  • Health and energy
  • New traditions and foods
  • A box of microwave popcorn that my mom forgot to take home with her. (Thanks, mom!)
  • A chance to recreate an old favorite with new flours (I'll let you know how the honey oatmeal bread turns out, Aunt Syl!)

Some things that I lost:
  • A favorite recipe or two
  • Pre-suppositions on what has to be
  • The fun of beater-licking and taste-testing
  • My fear of standing out because of food
  • Momentarily and at different times: My temper, my sense of humor, and my composure (Yes, I am emotionally attached to my cookies)
  • A sock

New blog contacts:
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