Viewing entries tagged
gluten free

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Currently Obsessed With Turmeric

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I am not the only one who is currently obsessed with turmeric. You can tell it's kind of hot right now and it's popping up in a lot of health food stores as supplements and in juice and smoothies in cafes. I personally have been interested in trying turmeric out for it's wildly touted anti-inflammatory properties. The less I'm taking my medicine (which right now is much less, if at all) the more I'm interested in finding homeopathic ways to accomplish the same effects in the case that I do feel some symptoms. My naturopath recommended a supplement called Inflammatone and the number one ingredient? Turmeric. I've just started taking that daily and have noticed less morning stiffness for sure.

I went to the co-op and bought a big container of dry turmeric in the bulk aisle (they also had the real turmeric root if you're into that). I made quite a handful of failures trying to incorporate this insanely orange powder into my smoothies at first. I used too much and my green smoothies became brown and didn't taste good anymore.

I finally found a recipe though that works great to boost the turmeric on mornings when I feel extra tight or achy in my hands (mostly weekends after I've had a few drinks). Unfortunately this doesn't fill me up, so it's not a complete breakfast. I ate mine with an avocado after reading that turmeric's effects are triggered by eating good fats at the same time. 

In the Vitamix, measure two cups of cold water, 1 tablespoon maple syrup, 1 inch hunk of ginger, 1 carrot, the juice of an orange, black pepper and about a tablespoon of turmeric. You could do less the first time to see how you like the taste. Blend on high, pour, and add some ice.

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Recipe: Sunflower Hummus Collard Green Wraps

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I have never bought collard greens at the grocery store. I was totally intimated by them! So big! So stiff. I don't know... they just never seemed friendly. But I took my friend Karen's CSA for the week and in it? Collard greens. 

Thing is, I LOVE to eat collard green wraps at any vegan cafe that as them. I am only scared of them at home. So I knew this was the time to do it myself. No loss. I found this recipe online and personalized it. I had these for lunch every day last week and they were SO filling. One lunch sized serving is two large collard leafs wrapped up tight with goodness.

I made home sunflower seed hummus first. Buy roasted unsalted sunflower seeds, throw some in a Vitamix with plenty of olive oil, a couple spoonfuls of tahini, a little garlic, tons of lemon juice (this is the trick), and salt and pepper. Likely, you'll need some water in there too to make the blender go. Keep tasting and tweaking til its lemony and salty and smooth. The end result of mine was pretty thick, almost like peanut butter consistency. Next, wash your collard wraps and cut off just the tiny little hard stem at the bottom. Generously spread some of that sunflower hummus right down the spine of the leaves. Top it with very thinly sliced red pepper, carrots and avocado. If you have pea shoots, definitely add those too!

So these are pretty good just like this, but I had leftover marinated mushrooms from a taco recipe I'm currently obsessed with (I'll post that one soon too) so I add some of those in there too. They are simply baby bella mushrooms sliced, put in a skillet with tamari, balsamic vinegar, maple syrup and paprika until they're soft. Done.

Wrap the collard leaf up tight. Place the seam side down on a plate, and cut in the middle at a diagonal. So good.

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Recipe: Holy Blueberry Lavender Walnut Scones!

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Holy. Scones. I literally just ran to my computer to type this up I am so ecstatic. These scones have been out of the oven for 3 minutes and I have already housed 1.5 of them. I don't even like scones! These are amazing!

New cookbook inspiration: Thug Kitchen. If you like swearing vegan men, you will love this cookbook. I got it for Christmas and this is the first recipe I tried, which is odd because I really am not drawn to baked goods. However, something about blueberry lavender was calling to me and now here we are.

The recipe says the lavender is optional. It is not. It is what makes these scones fucking amazing. Go to your hippy-est grocery store (I went to Pittsburgh's East End Co-Op) and find dried lavender in the bulk section. It's about $50/lb but the stuff is light as air, so I got about 3 tablespoons for a few dollars. 

Here is the recipe, verbatim, from Thug Kitchen. It was not gluten free, so I gluten-freed-ized it, easily below. Eat these as they come out of the oven with some Smart Balance "butter." Baller.

For 8-12 scones (I only got 8), you'll need:

  • 2 3/4 cups gluten free (or regular if you want) all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons xanthum gum (only use if making with GF flour)
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 3 tablespoons white sugar, plus more for sprinkling
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup refined coconut oil
  • 2 teaspoons dried lavender*
  • 1 1/4 cups plain almond milk, plus more for brushing
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  1. Crank your oven to 425F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or foil.

  2. In a large bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, sugars, and salt. Cut the oil into the flour using your hands until it all looks kind of grainy and there are no large chunks left. Stir in the motherfucking lavender.

  3. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and pour in the almond milk and vanilla. Mix it together until it is almost all the way combined but stop short. Fold in the berries and walnuts but be careful not to overmix.
  4. Scoop out the dough in 1/2-cup measurements and plop onto the baking sheet. Brush with almond milk and sprinkle with white sugar. Bake until they look a little golden around on the bottom, 12 to 15 minutes.

    *Can't find dried lavender? Don't trek all over town. Just leave it out and add an extra 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract. We just wanted to give you a chance to be extra fancy.

 

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How I Won Gluten-Free-Vegan Christmas...

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It is no secret that I'm currently obsessed with Oh She Glows. It is also no secret that I'm typically a pretty terrible baker. Last year on Christmas Eve I ruined two attempts at homemade chocolate pudding (at least the second was edible, I just called it chocolatey-fudge-mousse-in-a-cup). Since then I've ruined box brownies at least twice... Maybe it's my oven?

So this year, I decided to try something with less emphasis on actually using the oven and from a source I already trusted. Enter, Chilled Chocolate-Espresso Torte with Toasted Hazelnut Crust and Whipped Coconut Cream. So freakin' easy. So insanely delicious. And it satisfied my non-vegan and gluten-loving family as well as my vegetarian step mom. The only less than exemplary comment I received was from Nanna... she thought it was "interesting." Anyway...

I was hesitant about the coconut whipped cream, but it honestly just tasted like vanilla. My dad licked the freakin' bowl when we were finished and my sister had no clue it was mostly coconut (and she's picky, so there's really no getting past her)! So if you make this, whatever you do, don't skip the whipped cream.

Here's the recipe and some fancier pictures from another blogger featuring this Oh She Glows masterpiece. This is my new go-to dessert. Next year, I won't even dare to try something new.

 

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Recipe: Smoked Salmon Salad w/ Lemon Dill Dressing

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Ok guys, I was off the blogging train for a hot second but I am back. Sorry for the radio silence. Things got a bit crazy at work (good crazy!) for a few months and this space lost all the energy I was giving it. I have, however, been trying a TON of different recipes, all gluten free and mostly vegan and now sadly (not really), I am going to have to remake all of them to document and share with you!

This recipe is (sort of) made up based on a salad I had at brunch a few weeks ago at Pittsburgh's Bistro 19 in Mt. Lebanon. My take on this salad is my obsession for lunch this week. It's so easy to pack each morning and since it does have salmon on it, I feel like it's pretty hearty and yet light. Sorry this one doesn't fall in the vegan / veg category.

All you need for this is:

Spinach, arugula, red onion and smoked salmon lox (I got mine from Trader Joes for $8). For the dressing, I mixed some olive oil, juice of one lemon, seedy brown mustard, salt,  and pepper together. I add a bit of dill to the salad and also to the dressing right before I mix the salad. If you're not opposed to sour cream, dob some of that into the salad (or mix that with the lemon and dill) for a richer taste. Done.

The restaurant where I had this originally also served with a hard boiled egg and croutons. Have at it if you're into that!

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Recipe: Mango Thai Lettuce Wraps (V, GF)

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These lettuce wraps are not only vegan, insanely flavorful and easy to make, but they are also incredibly filling. I found this recipe for Mango & Zucchini Lettuce Wraps by Love and Lemons on Pinterest and thought I'd give it a try. 

I followed her recipe almost exactly with a few tweaks. I used butter lettuce instead of romaine, because it's softer and makes the perfect sized cup for the veggies. I sliced up some zucchini and carrots, cut mango into long thin stripes, added some bean sprouts (love the crunch!), diced a serrano pepper, mint, green onion, and lime.

The sauce is also really easy. Mix tamari, rice vinegar, honey, sesame oil, toasted sesame oil (optional), fresh ginger, and red pepper flakes together for dipping/pouring.

On the side, I simply opened a package of Trader Joe's precooked lentils and served cold. I had never tried lentils before (seriously, I know) and these are great! A bit bland alone, but mixed with the residual sauce from the wraps and some lime... delish! I guess I have a new grain to experiment with and love now, sorry quinoa.

These made a great post-yoga dinner. I filled up on two easily and took leftovers for lunch the next two days. 

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It's My One Year Gluten Free Anniversary!

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It's My One Year Gluten Free Anniversary!

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In honor of my one year anniversary as a gluten-free-mother-fucking-goddess (Sorry, had to. I'm proud!), I'm posting a little hindsight of what I've learned in the last 365 days. So, here we go:

5 Things I've Learned After 365 Days Without Gluten:

1. It's not as hard as you think.
I was terrified. I figured I was putting myself in culinary exhile for the rest of my life (how dramatic). But honestly, I quickly learned to shop and cook differently and I barely notice the gluten is even gone. Instead, I've devoured gluten free bread, rice pasta, copious amounts of quinoa, fancy san-gluten Bisquick, flour, crackers, pretzels, bagel chips, cookies, brownies, muffins, etc. There is not one food that I find myself missing that I cannot find a gluten free replacement. So when you put it that way, what am I really giving up? The way I see it now, not much. 

2. Cheating is acceptable and a must (if you're able).
I have not gone 365 days without gluten. My goal for the upcoming year is to cheat less while remaining sane. This year I probably (and this is a big generalization) had about 8 donuts, a dozen (or more) office cookies, one bowl of regular wheat-y pasta at my favorite italian restaurant, and traces of gluten in things you would not expect like soy sauce, among other things. This seems like a lot of gluten, but if you think about it in the span of a whole year, it's nothing. My rules for cheating are these: 1. "Will you regret it after?" and 2. "Does the occasion warrant it?" If the answers are "No" and "Yes," respectively, then by all means, go for it.

3. When I cheat, I feel it...
But I don't get a stomachache. Instead, my physical reaction may not be what you'd expect. I get a foggy brain, fatigue or drowsiness, tightness between my shoulder blades and a feeling similar to a caffeine withdrawal. When I think about it, I was always experiencing these things when I used to eat gluten all the time, now it's far more apparent how much better I feel without all these symptoms hanging around on a daily basis.

4. My RA flare ups have severely lessened.
In a previous post, I explain gluten and its relation to leaky gut syndrome, and leaky gut syndrome's relation to auto immune diseases. Well, I'll say it again and 100 more times, I fully believe that gluten is a cause (not the only, but a big one) of my RA. Two months ago my doctor did RA blood tests we hadn't done in two years. My RA factor is in the negative range (!!!! - that doesn't mean it's gone, but still! ... !!!!) and my inflammatory markers are weak positive down from moderate positive (again, !!!!). Sure, this could have to do with my medication working, but holy shit, do I notice the swollenness in my hands the morning after I've had gluten? YEP. Remember that cheat criteria, "Will you regret it?" Yeah, the more I see the obvious shift in decreased swelling, the more it is not worth indulging.

5. It's been totally worth it.
A year and a week ago, I rolled my eyes when someone told me they were gluten free by choice. I literally thought it was just a made up, bandwagon fad in food. I understood that those with Celiac do not get that choice and wow, do I admire what those who have it must do to eat safely! Having Celiac requires so much more restraint, attention and caution, when even trace amounts of gluten can cause upheaval in the gut. I am so lucky that I get to choose this diet and that I get to choose to cheat if I wish. But that's a whole other story. Overall, I see the difference. I no longer feel so bloated and tired after a big meal that I just want to sleep (apologies to those who I've made rub my belly after too much pasta — not kidding, wish I was). I no longer wake up with insanely puffy knuckles and inflamed feet. My knees hurt rarely. I don't have afternoon tiredness or brain fog and I feel more productive at work. My skin is clearer and more even. So is it worth the overhaul at the beginning and the extra effort, time, money to upkeep? Yep, every bit.

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Recipe: Raw Tomato Sauce with GF Pasta

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I wanted to do a light tomato sauce with some pasta recently when I was craving a fresh but satisfying dinner. Something about light tomatoes, olive oil and some lemon just makes summer feel right. For this recipe, I consulted good old Martha Stewart for my sauce. It's raw and ready in minutes. Perfect for a quick, painless meal. 

I used four roma tomatoes. I diced two of them by hand into small cubes and ever-so-gently pulsed the other two in a blender until close to pureed by still pretty chunky.  Mix with some chopped basil, parsley and garlic. Combine with olive oil and the juice of one small lemon (Martha didn't use lemon, I went rogue). After some salt and pepper, I felt it still needed a bit of flavor so I added about a teaspoon of balsamic vinegar. Mix with your favorite GF pasta and you're set for dinner and leftovers for lunch!

 

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Zoodles for Days

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Check out my lunch, you guys. Vegan zucchini bolognese that literally tastes just like a gigantic heap of meaty gluteny spaghetti that is... not. This plate should be famous, it's literally that good. And I think word is getting around Pittsburgh that the zoodles at the Amazing Cafe are to. die. for. I could eat this every day, I think. If you live in PGH, go do yourself a favor and get some (17th & Carson St.).

This vegan delight is a good depiction of how I've been eating recently. I had a freak out about six months ago when I was presented with an onslaught of information about why someone with RA or any other autoimmune disease should absolutely become a vegan. I'm already gluten free so the thought of this kind of threw me into a total tizzy (I mean like, tears at the Whole Foods cafe with my best friend on a Tuesday night kinda thing).

So I just ignored the issue and pushed it off. But sure enough, within a few months I was kind of slowly just adapting vegan recipes into my week without even putting that much energy or recognition into what I was doing.

I asked a friend the other day if she was vegan and her response was, "You know I don't like labels." I love that answer! It's now my new answer. I eat what I eat. Rules and regulations and labels are the worst when it comes to this kind thing. I want to feel free to do what I want to do. But I'm pretty proud that right now I'm having vegetarian or vegan breakfast and lunch everyday while dinner is mostly a win but let's be real. I still like a hot dog, piece of chicken or shrimp on the grill, and steak on my Chipotle burrito bowl every now and then. I'm not planning to cut that out entirely.

So go be whatever you want to be, diet-wise. Pescatarian one day, vegan the next? Fine. Eat what makes your body feel good. 

 

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Leaky Freakin' Gut: Explained

Alright, time for me to break it down. I've mentioned leaky gut before and the concept of it is pretty simple once you can visualize it. When I first read about it in It Starts With Food, I realized right away I probably had it. I am (was) a bagel, pasta, fresh crunchy baguette loving woman, especially in college, so grain was pretty much my number one food group. I asked a doctor friend of mine if real MDs acknowledge leaky gut as a real thing or if it's just some crazy holistic idea and I was surprised by the answer. Doctors definitely acknowledge that leaky gut (also commonly know as intestinal hyper-permeability) is a problem, but they are just now learning more about how it relates to disease and auto-immune disorders.

The best and shortest way to describe leaky gut is this: 

70% of your immune system is located in your belly, which is hard to imagine since we typically think of our immune system as being, well, everywhere. But think about it, you bring in food, toxins, germs and more through your mouth and into your gut every day, so the immune system is there to fight off those invaders at the front door. If you think of your intestinal lining as a brick wall there are cells and mortar. In a normally functioning gut, the mortar is strong and nothing can pass through the wall, but if a gut in attacked over and over again by things like yeast, parasites, bad bacteria, viruses, alcohol, antibiotics, NSAIDS (Advil / ibuprofen) the mortar starts to weaken and gets leaky causing these invaders and other non-digested particles of food into the bloodstream where they are not supposed to be. 

Think of your intestine like you think of the outside of your body. You put unprocessed food in it to be broken down. So anything that starts on the outside of our body that goes through your mouth and into your intestines is technically still on the outside of your body until digested properly. When the lining of your gut is permeated, those things that belong on the outside seep to the inside.

Let's take gluten as an example since removing it from my diet is what confirmed to me that I had leaky gut. When undigested gluten leaks into your bloodstream over and over again, your immune system recognizes it as bad and attacks it. What happens next is crazy. The gluten DNA looks a whole lot like human joint DNA and overtime, your exhausted immune system confuses the two and starts attacking your joints. In my case, this is why when I eat gluten, my RA symptoms flare up. My immune system thinks my joints are bad foreign invaders. For me, those are the only symptoms of leaky gut I had so removing the gluten improved my joint pain and helped me realize my gut was leaky.

For many though, there are no signs or symptoms of leaky gut. A recent study mentioned in Dr. Blum's book The Immune System Recovery Plan says that the majority of people with an auto-immune diseases also have leaky gut. This is a huge statement that would be basically impossible to prove, but I think it sheds light on how many people are most likely sick because of leaky gut and don't even know it.

The reason why functional doctors like Dr. Blum say they can reverse auto-immune disorders is that once you remove the gluten and heal the gut lining, your immune system should restore itself and stop attacking your body in whatever way it has manifested. It's a long process that I'm working on over time, but I've noticed that the absence of gluten in my diet is helping me more than any other medicine I've taken. That is enough to believe food has a major impact on our health.

I know that being gluten free is seen as very trendy right now. A year ago, I too thought it was a stupid fad that everyone was jumping on, but now I see the benefits. There are a lot of books out there that talk about why wheat and other sources of gluten are not native to human bodies and why they're suddenly making our bodies go nuts. If you want more info and don't want to read the books I've listed above, check out these articles that I think illustrate leaky gut pretty well:

New Research Shows Poorly Understood Leaky Gut Syndrome May Be The Cause Of Several Diseases | The Daily Beast

9 Signs You Have Leaky Gut | Mind Body Green

5 Symptoms Of Gluten Sensitivity You Probably Don't Know About | Mind Body Green

 

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