Friday, March 30, 2012

Getting Started Gluten Free- Breakfast

A few people have recently asked for advice on getting started on a gluten free diet.  Where to begin?  First, let me tell you what NOT to do.  Don't go to the grocery store and read every label in the cereal aisle.  You might end up a pile of tears.  Clean up in aisle 3!  That's how I started, but that was a long time ago, back in 2003.  We've come a long way, my friends.  Gluten free is so easy!  Don't try gluten free recipes if you're not the kind of person to cook every meal from scratch. Make this diet functional for you!  I think there's just a few easy things to replace in your kitchen and in your life to make you go 100% gluten free from day one.  Let's start today with breakfast, the most important meal of the day!

Label Reading:  One thing to remember is that gluten free means no wheat gluten, wheat, barley, or rye.  The ingredients list should say at the end, "Contains:  wheat, milk, soy, nuts" or some combination of allergens in bold.  Let your eye go to this to start.  If this isn't there, curse the brand name for not following the law, then read all of the individual ingredients.  Watch for hidden gluten in malt (usually barley). 

  • Buy it--Cereal in your normal cereal aisle:
    • Gluten free General Mills Rice Chex (see photo below for other variations of flavors that are also gluten free)
    • Gluten free General Mills Rice Krispies (the box MUST SAY gluten free, the regular kind is not)
    • Fruity Pebbles (I still check the box every time to make sure nothing has changed)

  • Avoid it-- There are several organic cereals that you might find in a specialty aisle labeled gluten free.  They are gross.  Don't waste your time when you're starting out or you will just be depressed.
  • Milk is gluten free, but people who have a hard time digesting gluten are often lactose intolerant.  I put Lactaid milk or vanilla soy milk on my cereal and in my coffee. 
  • Coffee is gluten free-- go nuts!  Watch out for weird flavored creamers, but they are usually fine.
  • Latte fans should watch the extra fillers.  I avoid Starbucks mochas, but the white mochas (syrup) are okay.  Again, nix the regular milk.
Pancakes or Waffles or Muffins
  • Sometimes a Saturday morning requires something more exciting than more Rice Chex.  Go for the pancakes!  Pamela's Pancake Mix is insanely great.  Just add water, an egg, and oil, and you've got pancakes for two. Recipes for waffles, muffins, crepes included.
  • Udis gluten free bread is wonderful toasted!  I store mine in the fridge and it will last a month or two.  I actually prefer the kind in the green bag, which is more of a whole grain bread.  Butter and jam are safe!
  • Celiacs are traditionally told not to eat oats.  Recently, we decided it was that they were processed in a way that could include wheat, but that celiacs might not actually be intolerant to pure oats.  Bob's Red Mill carries oats that are specifically labeled gluten free.  I'll use these to make my oatmeal.
Things that are naturally gluten free:  eggs, bacon (unless it's super ghetto), potatoes, most spices you'd put on your potatoes, juice, fruit, cottage cheese, yogurt.

Stay tuned for my notes on other meals at home, simple pantry substitutes, what to drink, and what to do at restaurants.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Crock Pot Pork Green Chili

This is a recipe we made maybe two years ago in Alamosa, CO with Dave's family to bring to a chili party at the retirement home.  I took the recipe and made it easier by adjusting a few things, throwing it all in the crock pot, and letting it simmer all day.  Originally, we had fresh roasted Colorado green chilis to throw in, which would make the ultimate batch, but this turned out quite tasty using what was available at the grocery store.

The whole country is under a warm spell in March, but we had a cooler day on Monday, and were a little sick (Dave much more so than me), so I could reason making some soup.

I put this on high for 8 hours, but typically, people put crock pot recipes on low when they leave for work in the morning and they are ready when they get home.  (I'm on spring break, so working from home.)

1.5 lbs pork tenderloin (our store offers it for $4.50/lb in a tube about 8 inches long)-- leave whole
1 onion roughly chopped
1 cup chicken broth
2 cups water
14 oz. canned green chilis
1 jar La Victoria Salsa Verde
1 jalapeno, chopped
3 cloves garlic, cut in half
1 can gluten free cream of mushroom soup
Handful of fresh cilantro (more for later when serving) chopped
1 tsp celery salt
2 tsp oregano
1 Tbsp cumin
1 Tbsp green chili powder (Omit if you can't find this, the flavor will still be there!  I get ours at the Mexican grocer.)

Throw all of this in your crockpot and set on low for 8+ hours or high for 5+ hours.  When it is done cooking remove the pork tenderloin and shred it with your fork.  I had to cut mine up a bit as well, to avoid long strings of pork.  Throw it back in the pot and you're ready to serve!  I'd do a quick taste test for salt or anything else it might need.  Mine was perfect!  I served mine with a spoon full of sour cream, fresh cilantro, and cheddar cheese.

Usually when I make white chicken chili, I add potatoes.  I think a couple of cubed potatoes might be a nice touch to this soup.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Food, alcohol, a flower, and a bird

 Here's a photo tour through the last few weeks of, well, nothing really.  We've been working too hard, sneezing too much, and spending a little too much time at home, working, but we'll get through it. 

I made cottage cheese from scratch and strawberries were buy one get one at King Soopers.

We ate hamburgers with Gorgonzola cheese, pear slices, arugula, and a balsamic-brown sugar drizzle.  I put these same ingredients on a pizza and it was fabulous.

Spinach Artichoke dip.  Yum!

I went to the liquor store and invested in gluten free beverages.  Thus far I only have the Julian and Mead left.
I made mozzarella cheese from scratch, this time getting my curd right!  Hurray!  You can see how it makes a clean cut.
A gallon of milk makes a huge amount of cheese.  This fresh moz was excellent. 
Dave baked braided Zopf bread.  This has more gluten in it than I care to describe.
We ate pepper steak, a recipe that reminds Dave of home.
Dave made a sani-snake when kegging his latest bear, a chocolate mint stout. 
Spring sprung.  Things are dry around here.  March is our snow month and we won't have any this year.
Meet Harold.  Harold is a sick bird that we've been nursing back to health by feeding him, giving him water, and protecting him from cats in our yard. 

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Couch to 10k

One of the things on my 30-during-30 list is to run the Bolder Boulder.  A few of us gals are going to run it.  It's the largest non-marathon road race in the world, which just happens to be in our home town on Memorial Day.  It's a 10k race and people come from all over the world to run in it.  Now, I am not a runner.  I played soccer in high school and remember during my prime athletic shape, my fastest mile was only 7 minutes.  I attended daily aerobics classes in college, and used the elliptical machine daily in graduate school.  Since becoming a professor three years ago, though, I work a solid 8 hours a day with occasional 14 hour days thrown in there, commute an hour to work and another hour home, and just haven't figured out how to fit cardio into my life besides my short walk to work from the bus (1 mile a day?).  I've been good at trying to keep up with Dave on hikes, backpacking trips, and skiing, but my body seems to be slowly drifting into an unhealthy state.  I spend more time gasping for air during these activities than I care to admit.

I guess I don't get overweight like some people.  I can't eat a lot of the things that most people get chubby from like beer, pizza, white bread, cookies, baked goods in general.  In fact, if I did eat these things, I'd get diarrhea from the gluten and probably loose weight (but risk small intestine cancer, a foggy brain, and really painful stomach aches).  I'm very careful about what I'll buy at the grocery store so I'm not tempted.  You see the extent of my sweets and carbs on this blog and usually I am making them for get-togethers. So, the scale has never been my enemy.

The mirror, however, is a new enemy.  Even though I don't gain weight, I do loose muscle and gain flab like no other!  At 30 years old, there's no excuse for this!  I should look the best I ever have/will in life!  Of course I also want to be healthy!  From my celiac (leaky gut) and another health problem I have, I have high cholesterol.  I think it's time to take my health back into my own hands! 
This is my before picture.  ;)
With the encouragement of a few friends who are doing this with me, I started a Couch to 10k program that builds you to running/jogging a 10k in 13 weeks.  I've got 12 weeks, so I skipped week one on the list.  As I started the workout, I thought to myself, "I'm not a couch potato, this will be so easy!"  The workout was just right, though.  I wouldn't have wanted a bigger work out for my first day with 30mph gusts in my face on my return trip.  I also live on a huge ridge, so I have two choices:  1.  run downhill on sidewalks for the first half of my work out, then run uphill for the last half or 2.  Trail run up hill for the first half and trail run down hill on the return trip.  Neither of these are ideal, but I'll probably do a little of each depending on trail conditions during our wet season, which starts soon.  (And by wet, I mean 2 feet of snow at a time.)  Also, the trails are jam packed on weekends with hikers, dogs, and dog poop.  I'll stick to the sidewalk on Sundays.

Below is the training schedule.  I imagine inserting a 4th or 5th run during weeks with cooperating weather.  I bought a $5.00 app for my ipod touch called Run 10k, which will tell me when to run, when to walk, by coming in over my workout music and telling me what to do.  I'm also working on figuring out my Nike + system so I can see how many miles I'm actually covering during these timed runs.

Who wants to join me on this challenge?  (Friends--I can't house you that weekend, though, because Dave is hosting a bachelor party!  Maybe there's a 10k in your area?)  I have to admit, I'm one workout down and I feel as energetic as I did when I was 18! 

I started with workout 2.1 today, which was a 51 minute workout:  run 1, walk 4, 9 times.