Tuesday, December 29, 2009

End of the year

Hope everyone had a wonderful holiday season.  I was busy trekking all over the state for gigs, so I didn't get a chance to write anything here.  But I ate a lot of individually wrapped cheese and other snack-type gluten free foods during that time!  (Also ate at Posana Cafe in Asheville, NC--which was AMAZING!--review to come).

Anyway, the end of the year is a good time to think back and remember the positive things, as well as the things we'd like to improve upon in the upcoming year.

I've been thinking a great deal lately about my approach to eating out vs. at home.  I mean, how much of each should I do?  How can I make my life easier, as well as safer?

The bottom line, unfortunately, is that you can't really guarantee yourself that you won't be glutened by outside foods unless they are prepared in a true, exclusive, gluten-free facility.  And even then... 

That reminds me of a story.  When I had the opportunity to tour the Whole Foods Gluten Free Bakehouse, they were telling our group that they test every single ingredient that comes into the facility.  It has happened that they have received gluten-containing ingredients.  Some companies won't admit if a cross-contamination has occurred, or sometimes god forbid, they aren't aware of exactly what gluten-free means. Yikes.  Anyway, it's nice those guys are looking out for us with their testing.

What you can guarantee yourself is that non-gluten containing foods, such as vegetables, fruits, beans, etc. are still great, healthy, options.  I have started to take tons of celery, carrots, and apples to work every day to munch on at my desk.  Totally normal food, no one will suspect you're different.  They'll just think you're healthy and smart.  I can live with that!

Happy New Year!  Best wishes for a great start to your year.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Keep lookin for that Gluten!

I really enjoyed the North Raleigh Celiac Support Group (CSA Chapter 108) meeting we had last night.  It was fun to see everyone (I had to miss last month), and Moonlight Bakery had some great samples for us to try.

We were talking about recipes, and some ideas about how to eat for the holidays.

Most of us have figured out how to avoid cross-contamination in our own kitchens, but it was a good reminder for all of us about eating with family and friends--to watch out for shared or swapped spoons on the buffet, turkeys that have been cooked with stuffing inside, etc.

What was news to me was that we cannot always trust "tuna fish in water" products.  Apparently, a food label that says "in water" doesn't always literally mean "water."  So there are tuna fish products that are not Gluten-Free.  The culprit, apparently, is "vegetable broth".  Can't trust broth in anything, it might contain gluten.

Turkeys.  Many contain "natural flavoring," which may contain gluten.  Best to get a fresh turkey with no additives.

Why are so many things added to our foods?  Whose great idea was that?  Has our health improved or worsened since food production has changed in this way?

Sunday, November 8, 2009

What's for Breakfast?

I am not a cold cereal lover, never have been.  Sometimes I do enjoy hot cereal, but not that often.

So what can I eat that's gluten free and a great way to start my day?

One of my favorite breakfasts is fresh fruit with greek yogurt.  My cousin taught me this.  Put your fruit in a bowl, and then dollop a few spoonfuls of the yogurt on top, mix and enjoy.

What's great about greek yogurt is that it does not contain sugar, and especially doesn't contain HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP, which I try to avoid like the plague.  So it's easy.  The ingredients are usually just milk and cultures. 


If I feel like I need a bigger breakfast, then I might add a piece of gluten free toast.  Keep it simple.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Hash Browns (scattered, smothered, covered, etc)

The other day I found myself at Waffle House with some friends, and I got really hungry for some hash browns.


We gluten free folks can't opt for the waffles, or toast or anything like that, but hash browns are made of what--potatoes, grease, salt.  Right?

I was all ready to order up one of these heart attack-size platters of hash browns, when what did I see?  I saw them slice up two sandwiches diagonally, push the currently cooking hash browns off to the side, and slap down those sandwiches, crusts to the sky, right in the middle of all the cooking hash browns.  Aaack, the Celiac Nightmare.

No way, Waffle House!  With your poisoned grill!

So, what next?

Can't live without hash browns.  Here's how to make your own, which are probably less likely to kill you (though I can't guarantee it of course!):

  • Get 1 or 2 small to medium potatoes (per serving).  I like red potatoes.
  • Grate the potatoes.  Stop grating when you feel like you have as much as you want to eat.  
  • Spray skillet with Pam, or lightly butter or grease.  Heat skillet (medium heat).
  • Add potato shreds.  Salt lightly, if desired. Cover.  
  • Flip over when they start to brown.
  • Remove from pan and eat when 2nd side is brown.
I found that I didn't really need much oil.  The potatoes when fresh naturally have moisture, and they cook very well.

I'd rather sit at home and grate a couple potatoes than sit at home in agony from being glutened.  How 'bout you?

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Uno's Pizza

Where does the time go?  I'm sorry I haven't posted on here in a while.  Fall is in full swing!

A little while back, it was my birthday, and I celebrated with friends at Uno's in Raleigh.  I ordered a gluten free veggie pizza, and it was alright. 


The toppings tasted great, but the gluten free crust was just a little bit like pizza-crust-shaped bread.  Like I said though, it was alright.  I would definitely go there and hang out with friends and order it again.  I enjoyed a Redbridge beer with it as well.

My gluten free friend Wendy (from the Gluten Free Greenie Blog) ordered from the menu to try something different.  She got a grilled chicken breast, which I think was also good.


Here's a picture of that too. 

I am really glad that Uno's has decided to offer Gluten Free choices on their menu.  Now I know wherever I find one, I can get something there.  That is especially helpful when traveling.

Add it to the list of hangouts we can go to without having to eat beforehand, hooray!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Apple Brown Betty!



Hooray, it's Fall!

As the brown leaves are beginning to cover up my sidewalk outside, I remember those days when we raked them into piles for jumping!  Fall is the fun time when we start to wear sweatshirts and begin thinking about our Halloween costumes.  The harvest time that naturally is followed by one of my favorite holidays, Thanksgiving!

Anyway, this is one of the best recipes I have for you, it is a favorite in my family.  My dad has made this for years.


Here it is:

  • First, fill up a 9 X 13 pan with apple slices (I use a 5-lb bag of Granny Smith apples)
  • Drizzle with 1/3 cup orange juice.
Then, mix in a bowl:
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup rice flour + 1/2 cup potato flour (or 1 cup of any flour will do)
  • 1-1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/3 tsp. nutmeg
  • dash salt
  • 1/4-1/2 cup butter
I mix the above in a microwaveable bowl, and nuke it til the butter melts.  Mixture should be crumbly.  Sprinkle evenly over the top of the apples.

Bake for 45 minutes at 350 or 375.  Crumb topping should be slightly browned.

Enjoy!!!

Underground tip:  Tart apples taste the best.  A combination of different varieties of tart apples is even better.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Insurace Company cancels policy due to Celiac Diagnosis

I hope by now, everyone has heard of the practice of Rescission by health insurance companies.  They approve your coverage and accept your premium payments, only to later cancel your coverage when you get sick.  This is a horrible practice that must be stopped, in my opinion.  Here is a story of a young lady whose coverage was cancelled when she received a celiac diagnosis:

http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2009/9/20/784011/-A-Walking-Pre-Existing-Condition

Monday, September 7, 2009

Gluten Free Every Day Cookbook, by Robert Landolphi

Hey everyone!

A little while ago, I was sent a copy of Robert Landolphi's Gluten Free Every Day Cookbook, and I'd like to tell you why I'm really excited about it.

Cookbooks are a tricky thing, because they need to be interesting enough that you actually want to make things out of them, but not so complicated that they are impractical for people living regular lives (like too many ingredients, ingredients that are difficult to find, or too hard to make).

The story goes that Chef Robert Landolphi's wife was diagnosed with Celiac Disease. He started experimenting and creating gluten free dishes.

From the back cover, "Not just another gluten-free cookbook, the Gluten Free Every Day Cookbook is an essential lifestyle resource complete with informative ingredient glossaries, cooking tips and techniques, baking tutorials, and even advice for eating away from home."

The book is attractive and easy to use. Chapter One is "Gluten Free Basics" and includes a "Flours and Starches" section. I think this is very helpful--it describes properties of the flours and their nutritional information. It also offers tips on how long and where to store the flours (how long in the cupboard vs. the fridge vs. the freezer).

The chapters are:
  1. Gluten Free Basics
  2. Soups, Chowders, Chilis, and Bisques
  3. Entrees
  4. Side Dishes
  5. Pies and Cakes
  6. Quick Breads, Biscuits, Muffins, and Bread Sticks
  7. Cookies and Sweet Bars
  8. Puddings, Mousses, and Cobblers
  9. A Chef's Perspective on Eating Out
Also, at the end is a section of Resources, which lists Celiac Organizations, Gluten-Free Food Distributors, and Dining Information. I feel like these list are somewhat incomplete. (For example, Bard's Tale Beer is listed, but nothing about New Grist or Redbridge products). It would seem that these categories are expanding so much that a cookbook can't keep up (which I think is great!)

Anyway, the main dishes I made were the Chicken Piccata and the Beef Stroganoff. Both were amazing!

Here's a pic of the Chicken Piccata:



















I made this dish with my family this summer. (ha ha, don't you love the 70's plates?)

Yum--Everyone loved it! It was like eating out at home.

Some of the recipes are simple. Some of the recipes take time, and have more than a few ingredients. But good things take time. And this book was easy to understand and the directions were easy to follow. The recipes were DELICIOUS! Really good. Like you can count on them when company's coming over.

Anyway, I haven't felt this good about very many GF cookbooks! This one's a keeper.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Whole Foods Winston-Salem Gluten Free Fair!

Hey everyone,

My piano player Jay and I will be playing some Jazz standards this Saturday, August 29th, at Whole Foods in Winston-Salem, from 1-4, at their Gluten Free Fair.

If this is anything like the Gluten Free Fair they had at the Raleigh Whole Foods, you don't want to miss it. Lots of great GF items to sample.

It should be a great time! Please stop by if live in that neck of the woods.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

La Tortilla Smart & Delicious Wraps

...so, um, why aren't all the wraps made from Teff (and Millet)?

These are absolutely amazing--great tasting, pliable, wraps! And you can make any fajitas, wrap sandwiches, or burritos with them! Because they bend 1000% better than all the brown rice wraps.

I bought these for 3.69 at the Raisin Rack in Columbus, Ohio, on a recent trip.

Has anyone ever found these in NC? I would buy these all the time if I could find them.

I made a wrap sandwich--spread cream cheese on the wrap, and added fresh veggies (cucumbers, alfalfa sprouts, carrot shreds, orange pepper slices, and some fresh basil). I often will use hummus instead of the cream cheese.

This was one of my favorite lunches before my Celiac diagnosis. And I'm elated that I can have it again.

Three cheers for La Tortilla Factory!!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Hello, again! (and pizza)

I can't believe it's been so long since I've had a chance to post! Wow, thanks for your patience. It's been a little busy, and then I've been recently visiting family in Ohio.

All the while, though, I've been collecting ideas, products, and recipes to tell you about.

One thing I did this summer was go to the Whole Foods Gluten Free Bakehouse (WFGFB) tour, with our local North Raleigh Celiac Support Group. You can read about our tour here on Zach's Gluten Free Raleigh blog.

Check out the following pics, I tried the WFGFB's pizza crusts, and they were wonderful! They're a thick crust that is soft and pliable. They told us they have "pizza fridays" at the bakehouse and make all the crusts by hand. What wonderful work they are doing for us over there!


Sunday, August 2, 2009

Angel Food Cake, part 2

Here's my comment I entered on the Glutino/Gluten Free Pantry website:

"Many of us miss the Angel Food Cake mix terribly.

Here's a blog I posted about it, that includes links to many other people's comments about how they want it back:

http://celiacunderground.blogspot.com/2009/06/angel-food-cake.html

Your mixes are among the best. We all love them. This was a wonderful product. I can't understand why you would take it away. Please consider bringing it back. Nothing else compares to it.

Sincerely,
Emily"

I'll let you know how they respond, if they respond. Here's the link to the comment form, where you can leave your comment/suggestion to them as well: http://www.glutino.com/content/view/54/63/

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Brainstorming about Gluten Free Party Food Ideas

Well, I've been talked into hosting a party next week, and was looking for ideas of easy GF party food.

I am planning on some Perfect Nacho Dip, but undecided on what else...

Let's exchange Gluten Free Party Food Ideas!

Leave a comment and share yours. This will be fun!

Cheenies

This is a fun snack-y product that you might enjoy trying.

I'm talking about Cheenies Cheese Bite Rolls. "One bite - that's all it takes...and you'll understand why Cheenies have been the favorite snack in Brazil for the last 100 years."

I got this box over at Harris Teeter. I don't know how available the product is, I had never seen it before.

They're small rolls made mostly of tapioca starch. Ingredients: Tapioca Starch, Imported Parmesan Cheese, Homogenized Whole Eggs, Vegetable Oil, Whole Milk, Water and Salt.

The box has about 20 rolls that are pre-frozen, unbaked. You just set them out on a cookie sheet and bake them about 30 minutes.

The come out of the oven piping hot! Crusty on the outside and soft on the inside. I think they are wonderful. MMM.

I recommend you try them out. They're so easy, and taste amazing. You can eat them with soup, as dinner rolls, or just a snack by themselves. I just had some for breakfast. A great, versatile little food!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Celiac Spirits in a Gluten World

Well, I have a long list of topics to catch up on with you.

But even before I do that, I want to talk about our need to be vigilant in order to stay on the GF diet. For me, the better I do for myself at home and the more comfortable I feel relying on safe products and a growing number of GF items available in restaurants, the more I relax about asking questions when ordering and working to educate others on our Celiac needs.

For example, I went to Outback a few days ago, and asked for the Gluten Free menu. They brought out a large, laminated tri-fold menu, printed in color. It was the same size as the regular menu. They are really invested in this, I thought. How wonderful. I ordered a very simple chicken dish (grilled chicken on the Barbie, I think it was), and had a side of mashed potatoes. That might have been a mistake.

6 hours later, approx. 3 in the morning, I awoke to the uncontrollable scratching of a Dermititis Herpetiformis rash. The other food I had eaten that day was leftovers from home (I think I had grits, yogurt, coffee, maybe a leftover baked sweet potato or hamburger from my GF grill), and some Almondy Daim cake at IKEA. (which is totally amazing, more on that soon).

I have no idea where the gluten came from. But how easy would it be for a crumb to fall into the mashed potatoes? Or for a crumb to fall into the barbecue sauce I had on the side w/the chicken. Or maybe a crouton fell in there and they fished it out earlier that day. What I mean to say is that unless we are eating at a facility with a dedicated kitchen, we are still at risk of being glutened.

The week before, I went to my local tavern for dinner with my neighbor and ordered a salad with oil and vinegar, was assured by the waiter that the chicken was gluten free, after he double-checked, and then 2/3 of the way through the salad found a crouton.

In the past couple days I figured out that whatever days I was eating tostadas at home, while they do not contain specific gluten ingredients, must contain gluten in some way due to my DH reaction again. Or could it have been something else? Yes. But I don't know.

So I'm not saying I do not appreciate the efforts of the establishments like Outback and others who are trying to cater to our dietary needs. Of course I appreciate them! What I AM saying is that we still need to Trust No One to be caring about our diet as much as we should, and we need to remain attentive and vigilant. After all, it is our permanent health and well-being we're talking about here.

I want it to be easy. We all do. So these couple incidents are a bit of a wake-up call for Emily to get back on the wagon. Become vigilant again and look for more products for home that are made in a dedicated gluten-free facility. Ask questions. Eat at home as much as possible. Buy the more expensive, safe products. (but plan meals better so I don't buy things I don't really need).

I had the unique opportunity to tour the Whole Foods Gluten Free Bakehouse a couple weeks ago, and I was really impressed with their commitment to safety. They test every single batch of outside ingredients used in their products. They have found gluten sometimes in places it should not be. And they will tell their supplier and not use the product. They are looking out for us! Thanks, Lee and the bakehouse staff! (more on this later).

Celiac Disease is still a medical condition; our diet is still a prescription. I'm disappointed in myself for allowing myself to be glutened because I just got a little complacent.

There is still a lot of educating others that we must do in order to make our world safer for us and our Celiac friends and family.

******************************************************
Keep talking, keep sharing. Keep telling your story.
The world is listening.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Tomato Basil Parmesan Bread

Hi!

I'm trying to catch up my entries on here. This was a quick and easy loaf of delicious bread that I made a while back.

I've settled into a routine of using the 365 Sandwich Bread or Gluten Free Pantry Sandwich Bread mixes in my bread machine. So now that I trust these mixes and know they are always reliable, I've been pushing the envelope.

Ta-dah!

Anyway, all you need for this sensational loaf is this:
  • one 365 Sandwich Bread Mix
  • a large handful of fresh basil from your garden, chopped
  • one medium/large tomato
  • about a cup of parmesan cheese
  • a bread machine. (or else, some real guts to bake bread the old fashioned way, and I say good for you if you do!)
How to do it:
  • chop the basil
  • slice the tomato, and discard the seeds. Rinse. Dry the slices. Then dice into pieces. (it's important to make sure it doesn't add too much extra water, so this is an important step)

  • Add the mix to the bread machine
  • Start the bake cycle
  • On the first knead, once the batter is mixed well, add the tomato, basil and half of the parmesan cheese
  • if needed, help the machine mix the ingredients well

  • Once the knead cycles complete, and the bread is ready to rise, sprinkle the rest of the parmesan cheese on top.
  • close the lid and leave it alone the rest of the cycle.
Voila, a homemade masterpiece. Fresh bread always tastes the best!

Underground tip: Because of the water in the tomato, I use about 1/4 cup less water that is called for in the mix's recipe. This worked superbly.

Monday, July 20, 2009

News Flash: Five Guys in Greensboro NC

Yep, you heard it here first. Five guys is coming to Greensboro:

http://www.news-record.com/content/2009/07/20/article/five_guys_to_open_greensboro_restaurant

It's a great burger joint, and you can read about their menu here, from a post by GF Road Warrior. Everything on the menu except the buns are GF.

Also, please stay tuned...I have fallen a little behind and have a few posts on deck that I hope to finish soon...

Hope everyone is doing well!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Taco Night for Celiacs!

It's been a while since I thought of making tacos--but they are so good! And doesn't Taco Night always feel like a party?

Anyway, one of the bummers of our manufactured food world is the presence of gluten hidden in items that have nothing to do with bread or flour. One of these things is meat seasoning. What in the world does meat need gluten for?

I guess the answer to that is with the manufacturers. So maybe we should ask them?

Anyway, enough Celiac-tivism for now. Onto food.

Unfortunately, most of your run-of-the-mill Taco Meat Seasoning packets contain gluten--in it's nefarious "Modified Food Starch" form. So, we have to dig a little deeper, search a little farther. Wendy, on her Gluten Free Greenie blog talks about trying her hand at a Celiac Family Blog recipe for chicken. That one calls for McCormick brand Taco Seasoning.

But I wanted to tell you all that I found another brand of Taco Seasoning that does not contain gluten ingredients--it's Wick Fowler's Famous Taco Seasoning Mix!

The ingredients: Ground Chili Peppers, Salt, Onion, Comino, Garlic, Oregano.

It was .79 at Fresh Market here in Raleigh.

Grab a pack of taco shells, shredded lettuce, a tomato, and a little shredded cheese, and you've got a Happy, Gluten Free Taco Night! Sure beats trying to ask the Spanish-speaking waitstaff at the Mexican restaurant if their items are gluten free!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Angel Food Cake!!!!

I enjoyed some pretty good gluten free cake today at a GF birthday party. All this cake made me think of one of the best gluten free items I've ever eaten.

It was Gluten Free Pantry's Angel Food Cake Mix. I say "was," because for some reason, they discontinued the product. When I googled the item I found this blog post here on the Gluten Free Food Reviews blog.

I am shocked and distressed that they've discontinued this product.

When I started the diet back in '05, this was one of my favorite GF items. It was so encouraging that you could still even have ANGEL FOOD cake! Hooray! I have never tried any other brand, because I knew after trying this one, I wouldn't need to try any other. It was that good.

So now I've got a hankerin' for Angel Food cake topped with a can of cherry pie filling and what's a girl to do...?

One of the comments on the above blog suggests asking glutenfree.com to reinstate the product. Click the email link or you can call their customer service line and ask them to bring it back (and/or why they lost their minds and discontinued this awesome product in the first place)! (800) 291-8386

Unfortunately, until we convince them, you'll have to take my word for it that this product was GREAT. It was THE BEST!

Check out the picture on the blog--doesn't it look good to you? I promise you, it is. Here's another 5 star rating, from amazon.com: http://www.amazon.com/review/R1ZCM8H89AASI5

more reviews: http://www.glutensmart.com/gfpangel.html#customer-reviews
(I also added a review to the above link)

Well, why don't we all try to get this back on the store shelves. The thing is, now we know they can make something so good.

So my only question is: why not give us what we want, if we are ready to pay for it??

Saturday, June 20, 2009

(The Frugal) Celiac Road Trip

Well, it's that time of year! Off to the Beach, the Mountains, or wherever for vacation fun!

I had a brief overnight at the Outer Banks (NC) this weekend, and I will fill you here in on the details of my gluten free eating while on this trip.

There is an essential item for every Celiac for any road trip, however brief. I can't think of anything more useful or more helpful.

Do you know what it is?

It's a COOLER!

Are you the type of person that hates to worry about tomorrow, hates to make food ahead, or loves to eat out?

Well, I want to encourage you to reinvent the way you think about food while traveling.

*****************************************

Almost everywhere I go for more than a day, I take a cooler. I even take a cooler on many day trips, with lunches and/or dinners. This not only ensures that you can know with 100% certainty that your food is safe to eat, but also saves you money by preventing you from buying food and beverage!

And it's not like it takes up that much room in the car.

*****************************************

What's in Emily's cooler?

You might be thinking: If it's a bunch of cold leftovers, I'll have to say, "no thanks."

Right. Well, I agree. Nothing like choking down that last piece of leftover chicken out of obligation (but you do have to do that now and then).

This overnight trip (noon Friday to noon Saturday) I filled my cooler with:
  • 4 water bottles
  • 3 diet coke bottles

  • 2 Larabars
  • 3 Attune probiotic white chocolate bars
  • 1 Envirokids crispy rice bar

  • 2 yogurt cups
  • 4 frozen Pamela's Lemon Shortbread cookies
  • 1 sliced tomato
  • 4 pcs. sliced mozzarella cheese and fresh basil leaves
  • 1 frozen Glutino plain bagel

  • Don't forget Ice Packs
That sounds like a lot, but it's just a few drinks, snacks and meal food.

So what did I eat?

On the 3 hour trip going, I drank one water and ate one Attune bar.

For dinner, I went out to eat, at the Full Moon Cafe in Manteo, NC. I had their nacho plate. The waitress checked and they use Utz corn chips, which only have corn, oil, and salt. (remember, some restaurants, especially if they make their own chips, have corn chips that are not gluten free). It was good, no reaction for me.

For after-concert snack back at the hotel, while unwinding with friends--I had the mozzarella, tomato, and basil. MMM.

For 2nd day's breakfast, I had hotel coffee, 2 hard boiled eggs from the hotel's continental breakfast, my rice bagel heated in my room's microwave (topped with cream cheese from the hotel).

For lunch the 2nd day, I lunched at Adrianna's Restaurant on the water in Manteo, NC. They didn't have too much to choose from, but I had a Kobe burger without bun, and a house salad. It was very filling, and tasted very good. On my receipt it said "GLUT ALLERGY", so whether or not they really know what to do, they at least have it in their computer that they should do something.

**********************************

So was I completely isolated and did I hide in my hotel eating cheese and crackers out of my cooler? (Oh, cheese and crackers are good!).
--no! I was out and about, eating and asking questions.

Did I save money by not having to go out for breakfast and evening snack (2nd dinner)?
--absolutely!

But this little bit of planning ahead helped fill in the cracks of snacks and incomplete meals (like hotel breakfast). I always had something I could eat, so I knew I wouldn't starve. I didn't eat everything I took, but I could have if I needed to. And I could mix-n-match my food with the food I found (like using the hotel cream cheese).

What came home with me in the cooler?
  • Yogurts
  • 2 Larabars
  • 1 Envirokids bar
  • 1 Attune bar
  • 3 Diet Cokes
  • 1 water
Had I been staying longer, I'd have done a little more to eat things frugally in my hotel room. But this was a short trip and I had a carpool friend (so eating out was the better choice for some meals).

Maybe you are wondering--How did I keep all that from spoiling?

---ICE PACKS! and the hotel had a fridge in my room.

Oh, no! you say. What if my hotel doesn't have a fridge? How can I be a happy celiac traveler then?

--Easy. Old traveling musician trick. Keep all items in cooler. Take along a couple gallon-size ziplock freezer bags. When you arrive at the hotel, take the bags to the ice machine, and fill up with ice. Voila-- you have instant ice packs. You can keep refilling them as long as you stay at the hotel.

Underground tip: Don't stress out. Pretty much you can take all kinds of stuff to eat on road trips. Just plan ahead and think of what you'll need beforehand.

***********************************************

Epilogue. The Pamela's Lemon Shortbread cookies. Did you notice they were unaccounted for? I don't know what happened, but they didn't make it home. Those cookies are missing in action. Where could they possibly have gone?? (read: my tummy says "mmm").

Monday, June 15, 2009

Dr. Peter Green, MD on The People's Pharmacy

Everyone go listen to the podcast of this week's radio program:

http://www.peoplespharmacy.com/2009/06/12/727-celiac-dise/


I heard part of this in the car yesterday, and I'm listening to the podcast right now!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

New bread experiment (Onion Dill Bread)

Direct from Breadman (my bread machine), I present to you: Onion Dill Bread!


Made from 365 Sandwich Bread Mix, Dill (fresh from outside), and a small chopped onion!

Taste: GREAT!

Texture: Like BREAD!

Difficulty: EASY!


I think next time I go to an Italian Restaurant I'll take some of this along to dip in the bread oil.


Here's a close-up of the texture. Next time, I will add much more Dill. Much more.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Why "Celiac Underground"?

So you may think my blog name is funny, or maybe you think it's strange, or maybe didn't even think about it for a second.

But I'd like to tell you how and why I thought of it.

Most all of us, after we find out we're gluten intolerant, and as our health improves exponentially as we start our gluten free journey through life, start to think and feel differently about the world. We lose our faith in the doctors who misdiagnosed us for years (or decades), we lose our faith in the nutritionists and magazine articles recommending whole grains and whole wheat bread, etc. etc.

So who do we have left? Blogs, I guess. Other people like us. People who actually believe us. (doesn't every Celiac have friends or family who think we're just crazy, like, bread can't kill anyone?)

So every time I go to any grocery store, every time I go to Whole Foods, Trader Joe's, or Earth Fare, and when I see people tossing a pack of gluten free bagels into their cart, a gluten free pizza box or GF cake mix, I think to myself, "Hi there, you're one of us!" or, "Now you're better too, hooray!"

You and I, we are part of a gluten-free movement: we are part of The Celiac Underground.

To the wheat-eaters I say: we work beside you in the next cubicle, we're behind you in line at the grocery store, we're driving in the car next to you on the highway. We blend right in. (That is, until you ask us why we aren't having any cake at the office birthday party...)

The following scenario is happening to me more and more:

I am standing at the Whole Foods GF freezer case and thinking about if I really need gluten free hamburger buns or not (probably not). Meanwhile, I see you (my fellow Celiac) grab the Kinnickinnick Donuts box or the Whole Foods GF Bakehouse Peach Pie, and think--"Oh, wonderful, you are cured too!"

I become very happy for you and almost want to exclaim, "Aren't you so glad you figured out how to become healthy?! Don't you feel great, like me?!"

Well, now, I am something of an introvert in real life, so I rarely speak up at times like these. But I think to myself, we're all in this together. We all are part of a growing force that will drive the market to bring us better GF products. We are part of a movement that is pushing to educate our healthcare providers to save people's lives by early testing for the disease.

I'm so glad we're in this together. And I think our voices are starting to be heard. It's exciting. Hooray!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Whole Foods GF Bakehouse Almond Cookies


I don't know if this item is nationally available, or if it's just local because the bakehouse is in NC.

Regardless, it's a great product and I hope it's something everyone has the pleasure of trying at some point.

These cookies are soft and melt in your mouth. They are a relatively new Gluten Free Bakehouse item, but Whole Foods in Raleigh used to have a similar cookie (which they don't have anymore) that was a "regular" (non-gluten free) bakery item.

I think they realized I was buying up all those cookies and decided to tap into the market potential of the Celiac World (Underworld?)--and now they are baked in a gluten free facility. Hooray!

Good thinking!

Ingredients:
  • Almond Paste (Sugar, Almonds, Natural Flavors)
  • Confectioners Sugar (Sugar, Cornstarch)
  • Egg Whites
  • Evaporated Cane Juice
  • Almond Meal
  • Rice Flour
  • Almond Emulsion
One fourth of the package is the serving size, and of 270 calories, there are 110 from fat, 20 mg sodium (that's low!), and 12 total grams of fat. Compared to a lot of other items, that's all pretty good, and it's just a special now-and-then kind of treat anyway.

Try them out! I was pleasantly surprised when I first did--and I continue to gobble them up!

Grilled Cheese (with Bread Machine Bread)





















Ingredients:Butter one side of a bread slice. Place face down in skillet or on griddle. Put a slice of cheese on the bread. Put a buttered slice on top of the cheese. Pan-fry until golden brown on both sides.

But you already knew that.

Mmm...delicious. Tomato soup, anyone?

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Call for Flour Tortillas

I haven't had a real burrito since 2005. When I say the word, "real," I am not referring to food containing gluten. My use of the word real is, "something (I actually want to eat) that doesn't malfunction or taste terrible."

I prefer to blog about gluten free things I enjoy eating, and have had success with. Unfortunately, I cannot say this for any burrito. And the problem I've found so far is the rice tortilla.

Two gluten free south-of-the-border items that I think are pretty easy to make are enchiladas and quesadillas. I actually improvise with corn tortillas and make something like a grilled cheese with them (I call it skillet enchiladas--if you douse them in salsa verde, then, "Salsa Verde Skillet Enchiladas"). Make the quesadilla with a flour tortilla and cheese. No problem.

The problem comes about when you try to wrap up anything with a rice flour tortilla. I think both Food for Life Brown Rice Tortillas and Trader Joe's Brown Rice Tortillas are both great tasting, but unfortunately both are too brittle to make into a burrito, or even a delicious wrap sandwich.

Pretty much, you make the first burrito fold, or the first turn of the wrap, and crack--it's broken into pieces. Mmm...(insert record scratch here)? Plate of tortilla pieces and wrap sandwich fillings?? eeh.

So my question for everyone out there is, do you know any good flour tortillas that are available that are more pliable? I wonder if some company is working on it...might be a good idea...

I wonder if Teff might be a good ingredient; perhaps a combination of flours. I think of this because of the flatbread I've had at Ethopian restaurants.

If you know about, or even manufacture a tortilla that is trying to be more versatile than those I mention here, I would be very interested in knowing about it!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Bread, from the Bread Machine

I still have yet to develop my own recipe for the bread machine. It's really a challenge! (But I'll keep trying and let you know...)

But here's a loaf I made today with the 365 Gluten Free Sandwich Bread Mix. (That's the Whole Foods store brand). It's almost the same mix as the Gluten Free Pantry Sandwich Bread Mix. They are the only two mixes that I have had any success with. And they both ALWAYS come out right.

Hello, Sandwich!




Tuesday, May 26, 2009

NC Triangle Race fo the Cure 2009

Hi Everyone!

Hope everyone had a great holiday weekend!

I just wanted to share with everyone (if you have not already heard). Zach from the Gluten Free Raleigh Blog has set up a team for the NC Triangle Race for the Cure. What a great cause, and what a great way to bring fellow GF people together in service to the community.

If you live in the Triangle area and would like to join up, you have just a few minutes left, today is the deadline! You can sign up here.

If you'd like to donate to help out our team, we would appreciate it!

Two things you can donate to:
  • To raise funds for Gluten Free Week at Camp Kanata (through Zach's blog)
  • To donate directly to the Komen Race (through the GF team)
Thanks to Zach for putting this together and see you at the race!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Happy, Healthy Fruit Smoothies

One of the ways I reward myself when I actually go to the gym is by making myself a refreshing smoothie to enjoy afterward.

A cool treat on hot evenings. And can be pretty good for you too.

So, to celebrate today's gym night, I made a smoothie batch and will share it here with you!

**************************
Smoothie Q & A

What's in a smoothie?
  • Whatever you want to put into it--fruit, juice, yogurt, flaxseed, etc. etc.
What do I need to make one?
  • A Blender
  • A Spatula
  • Another Spatula (a backup for when you chop up the first one by accident)
Specific Ingredients?
  • Bags of Frozen Fruit
  • Fruit Juice, Milk, Soy Milk, Rice Milk--any liquid you prefer
  • A Banana?
  • Yogurt?
  • FLAXSEED meal--(provides Omega-3's, yea!)
*****************************

As you can see, I have filled my blender with frozen fruit (peaches, pineapple, mixed berry blend), Pomegranate juice, and 2 Tbsp. Flaxseed Meal

Put the lid on the blender.
Turn it on.

And...voila! ...Wait!--your smoothie is not blended. (What??)

Now comes the most important part of the directions. The rest of making your smoothie is completed by the very scientific process that I like to call, "Trial and Error". Most likely, you will need to add more liquid, if your smoothie started out like mine looks.

But if it gets too watery, then you'll need to throw in some more frozen fruits or a banana. I use a spatula to push the chunky fruit at the top down to the mixing blades. I have killed about 4 spatulas this way. (Always keep a spare around! That must be why they often come in 2-packs.)

In the end, it should look something like this:

















Today, I enjoyed a half glass smoothie, and made SMOOTHIE POPS! Check out my new toy that I just got on amazon.com--homemade popsicle molds. You probably already know this, but when I was growing up in Ohio, your mom didn't love you if she didn't make you homemade pops! (We never even knew what store-bought pops were.) Underground Thought of the Day:
It is so true, now more than ever: Homemade IS Better. It's a delicious fruity treat--WITHOUT high fructose corn syrup--woohoo!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

What's to eat Underground?

Here in the Underground, life gets a little busy.  I saw someone put up a tweet the other day asking for ideas of GF things to eat that are "quick, easy and not Amy's".  I love Amy's.  I found some great prices on Amy's frozen dinners at Kroger this afternoon.  The Rice Mac'N'Cheese was 2.89 (the best price I've found in Raleigh), and the Rice Lasagna was 2/7.00 (3.50 each). 

That said, what else is there to eat?

Well, lots of things.  This weekend I had Singapore Noodles from a chinese restaurant (one of the few dishes without SOY SAUCE).  Corn Chips.  Yogurt.  Jello.  Fruit Smoothie.  The other day I had a Glutino Pizza Crust pizza.  Today I've got some bread in the machine for the upcoming week.

My little brother thinks a gluten free blog is a little bit silly.  Because he doesn't really feel like he goes out of his way to find GF things to eat in his life.  He said, "come on, just have your corn chips, grits, and eat plain other stuff like meat, vegetables, rice and potatoes."  You know, he's right.  There are times that I think to myself, there's no need to blog any of this stuff, it's so obvious.  

Ten GF things that are amazingly easy to find/make/eat:
  1. Corn Chips (I dip in salsa, guacamole, plain greek yogurt, or hummus)
  2. Rice. It only takes 20 minutes to cook rice.  Serve with butter, or Mrs Dash, or other seasoning.  Combine with any vegetables and it's a great side or light meal.  Put extra in the fridge for later.  Sometimes I'll eat plain rice with butter, even for breakfast.
  3. Tuna Salad. Mix a can or pouch with real mayonnaise (check label to make sure it doesn't have modified food starch) and relish.  Spread tuna salad on GF bread for a sandwich, or onto gf rice crackers.  Nut Thins are awesome crackers for this.
  4. Personal Pizza.  Use either a Glutino Pizza Crust* (see note below), piece of GF bread, half a GF French Roll or English Muffin from Trader Joe's, or your choice any other bread product.  Spoon spaghetti or pizza sauce onto bread or crust, sprinkle with shredded mozzarella cheese.  Bake in oven @ 400 until all cheese melts.  Broil about another minute, to make the cheese bubble, if desired.  Also easy to make in a toaster oven, or even a microwave (careful in the micro, though, it will prob. turn out mushier).
  5. Fresh fruits and vegetables.  This week I had a bag of oranges that I was enjoying one a day.  Apples are very good anytime.  Celery and carrots.  Melon.  If you're not eating enough of these, go out and find a cool new vegetable/fruit cutting board and big knife.  Then you'll want to use it--and just from excitement you'll be bringing home all kinds of pretty new produce.  You can throw these into recipes too.  Have them both ways. 
  6. Hummus.  Anything goes with hummus.  These days, they have all kinds of amazing flavors, such as:  roasted garlic, red pepper, basil, cilantro, white bean, etc.  I eat it with corn chips, baby carrots, any other veggie or chip.
  7. Yogurt.  Just double check the ingredients to make sure they don't have modified food starch.  I think Breyers used to be OK, but now it isn't.  (anyone know?)  But I've been trying to move to the organic yogurts more and more, and lower sugar ones.  Most of the time, I've just been getting plain greek yogurt.  You can add any fruit, fresh or frozen (I esp. like fresh apple pieces, frozen raspberries or cherries).  Honey too, if you are into that.  It's wonderful stuff, and very good for you (lots of probiotics).
  8. Soup (homemade).  I don't know anyone who can't get a carton of GF organic/low sodium broth, a bag of frozen vegetables, a chopped onion (also available frozen), a couple cut up potatoes, a can of tomatoes (and leftover meat, or a ham bone, etc).  Put everything into a big pot and cook for an hour or so.  Vary with whatever's in season or make with any variety of beans or lentils.
  9. Salad (oh, yeah!) Any to-go salad or bag of greens will do.  Some ideas: add fresh grilled chicken, salmon or veggies--mushrooms, grape tomatoes, cucumber slices, julienne carrots, etc. (**Just watch out for the dressing.  Assume that all dressing is EVIL (GLUTEN) unless proven otherwise--esp. watch for Modified Food Starch.  Read the ingredients.  I usually enjoy Maple Grove Farms dressings). 
  10. Any cut of meat, poultry or fish.  Seasoned any way you like, just without CARAMEL COLOR or MODIFIED FOOD STARCH or SOY SAUCE (also found in TERIYAKI).  Grilled, broiled, baked, etc. etc.  Of course!  So simple, yet so good.
There you have it. Mix and match any of them for a delicious meal.  It doesn't have to be hard.  Just leave the pre-made foods out of it.  Simplify.  It's easier than it sounds.

*Glutino Pizza Crusts.  A few years ago when I first tried these, I was very disappointed in them.  I felt that they came out very DRY from the oven.  They seemed flavorful enough (they have tons of sodium, so they must taste good), but just dry.  I hate dry foods...so I discovered this Underground Tip: Rinse the crust (both sides) in warm/hot water when you take it out of the freezer, for about a minute.  Then, turn the crust upside down and douse it in water, set it on your cookie sheet/pizza pan.  Soak like this for about 5 minutes, until the water seems absorbed.  No longer or it will be soggy.  Flip over, cover with sauce, cheese, toppings.  Bake until cheese melted all over (about 12-15 min) @ 400.  Tell me if this works for you!  It's really good to me.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Onion Pepper Confetti Basmati Pilaf

Today, I was out in my driveway cleaning up a new (used) dresser with some Murphy Oil Soap, and my neighbor friend stopped by with some vino!  Yay!

We got a chance to visit, I asked her if she'd eaten--she said no--so I said, "Stay for dinner!"  

I have a giant bag (10 lbs., I think it was originally) of Basmati rice from the Indian grocery store, purchased on 7/14/07.  I know that because I dated the bag, to track how long it takes to eat it all (just for fun).  When I finish it some day (a long time from now?), I think I'll have a party.  

Anyway, what would I make for dinner?  I had one red and one orange pepper in the fridge...um...starting to shrivel up (whoops, didn't cut up for hummus soon enough!)...so this is what I was able to come up with:  Onion Pepper Confetti Basmati Pilaf, in my large stock pot. 

The simple ingredients:
  • two peppers (I like red, orange or yellow)
  • one medium onion
  • a couple Tbsps. Olive Oil or Butter
  • 2/3 box of low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth (I like Pacific Foods or Trader Joe's)
  • 3 cups basmati rice
  • water
  • parsley flakes
  • 1-1/2 tsp. celery salt
Directions:

Invite friends into kitchen and talk with them.  Simultaneously:  chop peppers and onions. Share stories about bad dates (optional).  Saute onions and peppers in oil or butter.  When onions are clear, add the broth, rice, parsley and celery salt.  Add maybe about a cup of water.  Bring to boil.  Simmer on low until rice is cooked.  Taste the broth.  If it is bland, add a little more celery salt.  

Stir the rice occasionally.  If all the water cooks off before the rice is fully cooked, add some more.  (I'm sorry I don't measure exactly.  You can do it.  Be courageous.)

This makes a large pot that you can keep in the fridge for the next couple days.  I served with a fresh salad with chopped tomatoes and balsamic vinegrette, and some vino.  Then an orange for dessert?

*******************************************************

Part of the wonderful conversation I had with this friend of mine was about how we remember our mid-western grandmothers made very simple foods with very few ingredients.  No MSG, modified food starch, high-fructose corn syrup, or anything.  Just 3 or 4 ingredients!  

We also were talking about how many of our mothers and grandmothers never used recipes, they just cooked "by ear."  Whatever you've got on hand, put something together, and make it work. 

Um...you can BE CREATIVE.  (I just love it when people tell me that).

Many of us are feeling a little stressed about money these days, but I think if we get psyched about being creative cooks, and enjoying the experimentation that we can come up with new recipes and even enjoy the journey of trying them out.  

This recipe cost:

2 peppers:  $2 from a 6-pack from Costco ($6)
3 cups Basmati:  maybe $0.72 from my $5 10-lb bag?
1 onion: maybe $0.37 from my 3-lb yellow onion bag that cost $2.49
1 box low-sodium chicken broth (70mg per cup): $2.29 at Trader Joe's
parsley flakes: 1 Tbsp from a package, maybe $0.12's worth?
celery salt: maybe $0.15's worth?

I didn't calculate the exact numbers...but isn't it about $6 for several days worth?  You can serve this as a main dish, or just a fancy side.  

*********************************************************

So you might want to try it.  I can't upload photos for the time being, so you'll have to use your imagination (I'll try to add them later).  But I promise you will enjoy this.  It tastes even better if you share, so invite that neighbor or friend over.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Hey Blue Cross, You're Welcome!

So there's been a little stir since my post Let's Do Free Lunch. The question I meant to raise was this: "If there are so many drug reps constantly encouraging MD's to prescribe their products to their patients, why aren't we making a clamour ourselves, educating and encouraging the medical community to consider symptoms as possibly indicating Celiac Disease (DH, or gluten sensitivity, et. al.)?"

My foremost thought when composing that short piece was that MD's could really be more aware of the wide spectrum of associated symptoms w/CD because so often people are misdiagnosed (and treated with unnecessary drug therapies).

I was undiagnosed probably about 12-15 years (prob. since middle school). Over all those years I was told:
  • "Here, take these Iron pills"
  • "You should work out more"
  • "I don't want to diagnose you with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome because it's not a real illness"
  • "Let's try Prozac."
  • "You have 9 cavities."
  • "Here's an extra antibiotic for your next (chronic) sinus infection"
The list goes on, but that gives you an idea. So I just accepted the fact that I was unable to stay awake an entire day, I could never feel energetic and happy, I was always sick all winter, I destroyed my teeth because I'm a jerk, I'm lazy and that's why I don't work out more, and so on. But I forged on, graduated from college with honors, and just worked as hard as I possibly could in life, trying to ignore how terrible I felt. Lots of caffeine consumption!

When I was in grad school, my mom mentioned offhand that a 2nd cousin of ours had received a Celiac Disease diagnosis after being very ill for many years. My response? Ok, whatever, mom, that's nice.

To back up a little bit, my mother had ovarian cancer in the early 1990's, and thankfully survived. After she had a year of chemotherapy, she saw a holistic MD, who prescribed that she follow a yeast-free, gluten-free diet. For many years (I think 5-7), she religiously stuck to this diet. We all thought she was crazy.

One day in 2005, I was at a Borders or B & N, and found a "Gluten Free Recipes" book on the sale table and picked it up for my mom, thinking it had to do with her crazy diet. Next time I was on the phone with her, I told her about it. She said, "Oh, that's what our one cousin has."

Celiac.

What is this "Celiac Disease"? (No doctor had ever told me!)

So because my life was boring, I started reading. And reading. And asking my mom about her problems, other problems in our family. (BTW, it's our Dutch lineage). Anyway, I made lists of my symptoms, her symptoms, autoimmune diseases that were rampant in our family (all thyroid, goiter, Hashimoto's, Sjogren's, Lupus, Cancer, skin rashes, chronic fatigue, depression, etc. etc.)

I'd try anything to stop being so tired.

I made an appointment w/the university clinic to get a lab test. They had no idea what I was talking about. I was prepared--had my lists and some printed literature. I was excited. It could be an answer, I'm not just a lazy jerk!

A few days beforehand I'd piled up on the gluten. Birthday cake (had the test a few days after my birthday), Lofthouse cookies, crepes.

I convinced the practitioner to give me the test. I had it drawn that day. She said, "this is amazing. Wow, I never really knew about this. Of course I can order this for you."

Right after the test, I immediately stopped eating gluten, but had to wait over a week for the result. By the 4th day, I felt better than I'd felt my whole life. So I made a batch of wheat flour crepes. To see if it was all in my mind, or what.

Wretched misery! I felt absolutely terrible--I couldn't think, I got all hot and feverish feeling, started scratching all over my body, and had to lay down I was so exhausted.

The result you know already: POS.

Gluten was killing me! I felt so betrayed.

*****************************************************
That's my story. I'm pretty sure my insurance is aware of my diagnosis.

But I've needed fewer office visits, drugs, and I've been much healthier overall. And it's possible (or probable) that I'm going to avoid the mid-life cancers that many folks in my family have faced. Compared to cancer surgery, chemotherapy and all that, eating some GF pita bread is way cheap!

*****************************************************

I told you all that to tell you this. My Let's do Free Lunch post started much discussion (by accident--but an important discussion nonetheless) about whether or not you ought to be diagnosed. And there is a problem that insurance companies consider this a liability, a "Pre-Existing" condition.

To that, I say, we must spread the word--our stories and the research. (I don't feel like it needs to be political in any way, just sharing the information...)

Check out this article:

The insurance companies could save big by encouraging diagnosis of this condition. The classification of this CD, DH (Dermatitis Herpetiformis), and gluten sensitivity as "Pre-Existing" conditions is just plain nonsense. We who are diagnosed want to be healthy, and strive to maintain our own wellness (the act of even finding out our diagnosis in the first place is a testament to that).

I think the best thing we can do is keep talking. Keep discussing. Share our stories. Get the word out. Help others live better lives.

Thoughts?

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Mexican Rice


I said I had some recipes up my sleeve.  You will love this.  When I make this recipe, I usually double it (approximately), and never freeze any.  That's because I can count on myself eating it all up right away.  Pretty much, I just use large portions as meals, often with sides of plain frozen veggies (broccoli, mixed vegs, peas, green beans, etc).

Mexican Rice
  • 1 cup rice
  • 1 cup broth (usually chicken)
  • 1 cup tomatoes--chopped, diced, whole, whatever, & juice (canned or fresh)
  • chopped onion (1/3 cup or more, about 1 medium onion)
  • oil--3Tbsps?
Heat oil in skillet or saucepan.
Add rice and stir until white (be careful not to burn--keep stirring).
Add onion, broth and tomatoes.
Bring to a boil. 
Turn heat down to simmer.
Cover and don't lift lid for 1/2 hour.

Enjoy!

This recipe is from my Aunt Loretta, who got it from her friend of Mexican heritage.  It's so simple, yet so good.  I hope you like it as much as I do.  

Underground tip:  I usually go heavy on the onions.  MMMM, flavor!

Let's Do Free Lunch

Tonight there are going to be Zpizza samples at the Greater North Raleigh Celiac Support Group.  That's pretty cool; I do believe I will stop by.

However, I've had Zpizza a few times since I originally tried it, which you can read about here.  Mostly it's been at the place where I work (my day job!), a physician's office.  Maybe you've heard about this?  Every single day, drug reps bring lunch to every single doctor in America, it seems.  Each lunch is a presentation, in which the drug (SALES) rep goes over the selling points of each drug, clinical trial data, etc.

I have been very flattered that many times these very nice people remember I am celiac and bring me gluten free lunch items, including Zpizza and Whole Foods baked goods.  This is so cool.  But then I keep having this thought:

WHO IS GIVING PRESENTATIONS TO DOCTORS TO ENCOURAGE THEM TO DIAGNOSE CELIAC PATIENTS?  WHO IS REMINDING THEM OF THIS WIDESPREAD CONDITION, THAT IS NOT TREATED WITH DRUGS?

I was absolutely appalled when at her Raleigh presentation Jules Shepard said medical providers she'd spoken with had told their patients "you don't want to be diagnosed if you're celiac."  So why aren't we taking them our best GF items, so they will have the courage and frequent reminders to screen our undiagnosed brothers and sisters?  

Which of our awareness organizations might want to get a program started, do you think? Does anyone know of people doing this or any current programs in place?  Please comment or email me thoughts on this.  I just hate it that people are suffering unnecessarily.  

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

News brief from The Underground

Hello there!

What's happening at The Underground?  

I have a bunch of posts saved up w/pics to add here, which I should be able to accomplish in the next few days, so please stop back.  Mexican Rice, a recipe for stellar Mexican Chicken, beans and rice salad, Z pizza, and more.  

Yesterday I went to Rosie's Plate in Raleigh, and got some Fresh Cheese Ravioli.  It was pretty good!  I also ordered some Pita Bread for later.

I realized they are next door to Marsh Woodwinds, one of the coolest music shops ever.  Be sure to stop by there if you are stopping by Rosie's!

Off to work, just wanted to post something here so you know I'm still alive and thinking about ya!  Happy Tax Day!  

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Easy, good things

Busy times here.

So, some quick and easy things:
  • Amy's Rice Mac N' Cheese! Quite good. Maybe a little high in sodium/fat. But it's not like we'd eat it every day. It's pretty rich, reminds me of Stouffers.

  • Pamela's Lemon Shortbread cookies! These are a little hard to find (I find them at Kroger). Apparently chocolate chunk is a much more popular flavor... These are OK room temperature, and AMAZING when frozen.
  • Individual packs of hummus (Tribe brand, comes in a box of 16 packs at Costco, for about 5 bucks). Mix with a bag of baby carrots, or other treats (corn chips, peppers, etc.)

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Bahama Rice Burgers

I picked up a box of these the other day at my local Earth Fare. I chose the "Jerkin' Spicy" variety. I haven't had a veggie burger for probably about 3 years.

These are great!! Two of my friends came over last night to carpool with me to go watch a concert, and I asked them if they'd eaten--NO. So I said, you guys want a Bahama rice burger? Some veggies? Quesadilla?

I had 2 takers on the Bahama Burgers, so that was 3 including me.

Both of these friends were meat-eatin, wheat-eatin guys. And they both said they like the burgers (served on Trader Joe's Gluten Free French Rolls) very much! One asked me for directions to Earth Fare, so he could go get some. So 3 taste testers agree. And even though I cooked these on the stove inside, it tasted like a cookout at Emily's.

I also cut up a few red/yellow pepper slices. It was a great night, and we attended a very good concert afterward!

Monday, March 30, 2009

Black Beans and Rice

I am adding this post to The Gluten Free Homemaker's "What's for Dinner Wednesday" --Hope everyone enjoys some Beans-n-Rice!

One of my favorite GF recipes is one that I had been making long before I knew that gluten was killing me. One of my friends got a crock pot in college, and made this for a party--actually, a Jazz party. Anyway, it was amazing and I was hooked.

I make this in a 2-quart crock pot.


  • 1-lb dry black beans (one bag), or 2 (16 oz.) cans beans
  • 4 cloves minced garlic (or 5-6 tsp. from a jar)
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 stalks celery
  • 3 medium carrots
  • 1 can tomatoes (14-16 oz.) diced or stewed
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • 1 tsp. basil
  • 1 tsp. oregano
  • 1/2 tsp. paprika
  • 1 Tbsp. chili powder
  • 1 tsp. Hot Sauce (Tabasco, Texas Pete, etc.)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/8 tsp. baking soda, if you have hard water (when using dry beans)
  • 4 c. vegetable or chicken broth
  • enough water to fill up the crock pot
  • 2 or 3 cups cooked rice
Chop the vegetables, rinse the beans, then put everything (except the rice!) in the crockpot and cook on low 8-10 hours or high 5-6 hours, until beans are tender. The beans will never get soft enough in hard (city) water if you don't add the baking soda, I have learned.

Feel free to skip one or two ingredients that you don't have around--I often skip the celery or carrots, depending on what's in the fridge. You could probably add stuff like green peppers, too. Good luck.

Anyway, once the beans are soft, it's time for the rice. The first serving, I serve the beans over the rice (as in photo), but after that I mix all the remaining rice into the bean mixture and freeze individual portions for lunches.

*****
Underground tips: Use the baking soda, seriously. Also, while cooking in the crock pot, the bean stew will seem pretty spicy to taste (and I usually overdo the spices on purpose). You want that, because when you add the rice, it will dull the flavor somewhat.

Serve with Tabasco, shredded cheese or sour cream. Maybe even a little fresh cilantro. Mmm.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Raleigh GF Vendor Fair

I had such a fun time today at the Gluten Free Vendor Fair at Whole Foods!

There were tables set up all over the store with samples, and Zach who writes the Gluten Free Raleigh blog had an information table, as well as the Cel-Kids group. I met some neat folks, and enjoyed hearing everyone's stories. Some recently diagnosed, some diagnosed for quite some time.

One of the things that was really nice about them having food samples was that you could try a variety of the Whole Foods brand GF items. It would be pretty expensive to purchase all the different products individually. Surprisingly, though, I realized that I have already tried a majority of them!

Pretty much everything from the Whole Foods Gluten Free Bakehouse is delicious. I got to meet Lee Tobin, the head baker and founding baker of the Bakehouse, who was serving up delicious baked treats!

My personal WF Bakehouse favorites are: Sandwich Bread, Honey Oat Bread, Cheddar Biscuits, Blueberry Muffins, Molasses Ginger Cookies and Nutmeal Raisin Cookies!

I also met representatives from Rosie's Plate, and they had some amazing PITA BREAD to try, and I liked their trail mix a lot, too.

Trevor from Bella Monica Flatbread Company was there, who I have met before, and it was nice to talk with him a little while. (And the flatbread pizzas still taste great!)

It was just a great day all-around.


Why don't we do this every Saturday?? :)

Friday, March 27, 2009

Sugarland!

I became a fan of Sugarland last summer, while playing an opera in Chapel Hill. One of my music colleagues kept turning up there every day for Gelato--and soon I discovered that I really enjoy some Gelato myself. mmm...

But what is very cool is that I also found out from the baker/manager that they special order gluten free cakes and specialties. I'm not sure why they don't seem to mention that on their website. (some restaurants are concerned about liability?)

But in any case, everyone should check them out. I guess it's not a dedicated facility, but I have every reason to believe they take every precaution to prevent cross contamination. They really sounded like they got it when I talked with them.

Mmm--sugarland--gelato--cakes---mmm!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Brownie Sundae Extraordinaire

One of my friends gave me a bag of Namaste Foods Brownie Mix (in the brown bag). That was really a cool gift.

But...what is a girl--who can't make enough time to go to the gym--going to do with an entire pan of brownies?

Get creative.

I made the brownies. They were
delicious. I couldn't eat them all myself, of course. So in order to solve this dilemma, I had a party! A few brownies were eaten, but mostly everyone at my party that night was busy destroying the nacho bean dip. So...now what?

Freeze them. Maybe give away?

A week or so ago, I met someone newly gluten free. To inspire and encourage her, I took her coffee cake, brownies, and a Whole Foods Bakehouse Cupcake I had laying around (long story).

That took me down to about 6 small brownies.
I can handle 6, probably, I thought.

We celiacs never get to order them in restaurants, so I never think of it. But--Eureka! It dawned on me--and here's a pic of my brownie sundae! It was pretty good!

Ingredients: Brownie, Breyers Natural Vanilla ice cream and a drizzle of carmel syrup.
Directions: Heat the brownie for about 15-20 seconds. Stack like the photo.

Enjoy!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Taste of Thai Coconut Ginger Noodles, in the box

Here is a great standby quick dinner or lunch, on the go.  Taste of Thai Coconut Ginger Noodles.  I have been eating these on the road for years now.  At one point, all the varieties were Gluten Free, but I think this has changed, so be sure to read the box.
I have seen 4 flavors of these, but hands down, the Coconut Ginger Noodles is the best flavor.  What is great about this box is that all you need is a microwave, tap water, and sharp knife or scissors to open the seasoning packets.  It cooks right in the box.  

Pretty much, you could make this anywhere, I'd say even a boxcar, if you had those three things.  And a fork to stir/eat with.

and...voila!  These retail anywhere from 2.50-3.50.

Supplement with some carrot sticks or fresh grapes and you have a quick, easy meal on the go.  If you're really hungry, maybe even add a ziplock of Glutino GF pretzels or Envirokids Gorilla Munch.  Life is good, get out there and go live it!

Pancakes at home


My car is getting fixed this weekend, and I have been needing rides from friends to get to gigs this weekend. This also means I have had to make due with eating what I've got on hand. I'd like to share with you a recipe for pancakes I came up with yesterday. It was quite good.

I have noticed lately that a lot of bloggers are saying they hate using rice flour, due to its grittiness. I agree that Bob's Red Mill rice flour is gritty and ruins a lot of recipes. But I think it is because they do not grind theirs finely enough, not because there's something inherently wrong with rice flour. It is possible to get flours that are finer, and I usually buy big bags of rice flour at the Indian market. Yeah, it's from a foreign country, but so are a lot of other foods, and how do we really know how much "cleaner" or "safer" food from the USA really is (think of the peanut plant in Georgia). So at this point, I am working with this flour and hoping American producers and suppliers improve their products and prices (step up production, to lower prices). And for the time being, this flour is a lot cheaper than Bob's...

Pancakes:

  • 1 cup flour (this time I used 2/3 c. Rice, 1/3 c. Teff)
  • 1 tsp. xantham gum
  • 1 Tbsp. sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1-1/3 cup almond milk (you can use dairy milk, soymilk, whatever)
  • 2 Tbsp. oil
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
Mix dry ingredients together, mix wet ingredients together, then combine.

The vanilla makes all the difference.

Pour into pan and cook on medium heat for a few minutes until they start to dry on top, then flip. Serve warm.

I added some frozen blueberries to the second half of the mix, so I had both plain and blueberry. This made about 9 medium size pancakes. I froze the extras in individual bags of 2 or 3, which I'll heat up for early morning breakfasts this coming week.

Friday, March 20, 2009

GF Italian in Wilmington, NC

Hello, blogland!  Where to begin?  I have been on the road lately and working a lot.  Not much time for cooking, or blogging.  But that's why I've got quantities of food frozen ahead and Glutino bagels.  Trader Joe's frozen Enchiladas.  Brown rice flour tortillas and corn tortillas to make quesadillas (AKA mexican grilled cheese).  Bags of frozen veggies to cook up in the microwave, in a hurry.  These types of things.

Wilmington, NC

While I was there, I did an internet search for gluten free dining, and
 found a really great place to get some GF Italian food!  I hadn't eaten out for pasta/Italian for about 3 years until I went to Bella Monica in Raleigh a few weeks ago with the Gluten Free Greenie Blogger (Wendy).  But now, it seems that new opportunities are surfacing all over for GF dining.  This is so amazing compared to even just a couple years ago!

I was able to talk a carpool friend of mine into going with me to Toscana Cafe in Wilmington.  I could hardly contain my excitement--you always feel like such a wet blanket when you say, "no, I can't eat out Italian."  I asked this friend if Italian was OK, and he said, "I love Italian!"  So I felt like way less of a buzzkill...  


Toscana Cafe.  I had the Penne (Tinkyada) w/Grilled Shrimp, mushrooms, and sundried tomatoes in a tomato cream sauce.  It was amazing, and I was so delighted.  I haven't had good Italian food in so long (not counting Bella Monica).  It was very simple for them to just substitute the GF pasta with their sauce and ingredients.  But it was so far beyond anything I ever make for myself at home, and such a treat.  I hope more independent (mom & pop) restaurants realize they can substantially grow their customer base by offering safe GF choices!  If they cook it, we will come!

I met the manager, and the owner, and they both were very nice.  They explained they have more and more people, of all ages (even 60s, they mentioned, many recently diagnosed) who are ordering GF pastas all the time.  I thanked  them for providing the option for us.  They were very careful and I think they understand how to minimize the chance of cross-contamination.

I was very pleased, and hope you are, on your next vacation to Wilmington when you drop in for some Penne!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Tasty GF Eatin!

Hey Blog Readers!  So sorry it's been a while since I got a chance to post!  I've missed you!

A few weeks ago, my laptop and camera were stolen, so I was unable to blog properly for a while.  But I got that straightened out, and now--armed with a new camera and borrowed laptop, I am ready to tell you about the great stuff I've been cookin' up!

Here's a pic of the coffee cake I made, which was from a recipe right out of the Better Homes and Gardens cookbook, substituted with Whole Foods GF flour blend.  It worked very well!  









Also, I have made homemade mushroom soup, which I have been enjoying with toasted Trader Joe's Gluten Free French Rolls.

Tonight I experimented with a pizza/flatbread crust, but I didn't get it exactly right.  I will have to try again (bake it a little longer before adding toppings, and/or modify the ingredients a little).  But the toppings were so good--fresh mushrooms, fresh tomatoes, fresh basil, and a drizzle of italian sauce, topped with a light covering of mozzarella cheese, that I enjoyed it thoroughly anyway.






I am on the road for a couple days, so I am packing the cooler with yogurt cups, carrots and Trader Joe's White Bean and Basil hummus, coffee cake, and pizza.  Pretty sure I won't have to eat out, which is nice because I know 100% that I will not be glutened!  And...think of all the dough that will stay in my pocket!



See you on the highway!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Bella Monica

I went to Bella Monica tonight with my friend Wendy, and she beat me to writing a review!  Please check it out:


They were very nice and accommodating.  What a treat that this is a part of our local scene and what an excellent example they are to other establishments--your restaurant too can be gluten free!

Thanks, Bella Monica!