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


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.


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. 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.


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...


  • 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!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Cool GF company--news to me

Hey, everyone check out this supplier I just learned about:

They have OATS and other flours, mixes, etc.  It looks good.  I like that their mixes have chick pea flour in them.  That's a great addition to any flour blend, in my opinion.  Once I order up some items and try them, I'll let you know how it is.