The Salad Challenge

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I’ll be the first to admit I’m not the biggest salad fan. My husband, on the other hand, could eat a salad every day and be happy. I know, weird. Here’s photo proof — Scott’s salad/BLT combo and my gluten free fish and chips. The few times we can eat out, there’s a wiring in my brain that says “You better splurge. Don’t waste this opportunity on a salad! Get something filling.”

Well, sad to say that this type of thinking has led to me pack on 8 of the 14 pounds I initially lost when I went gluten free in December of 2010. Ugghh.

In the past year and a half, I’ve explored all types of gluten free diet approaches, watched countless documentaries on food in America and become COMPLETELY overwhelmed. Grains or no grains? Meat or no meat? Dairy or no dairy?  I really don’t think it’s supposed to be this hard. What I know for sure is that I DO need to eat more vegetables and whole foods. Period. I remember thinking back to when the 14 pounds melted off me that it wasn’t so much what I was cutting out as what I was adding in. It was leafy greens. After awhile, laziness and lack of planning led me to forgo healthy choices in favor of quick, filler foods — albeit gluten free.

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One of our family’s favorite meals is steak salad with a balsamic vinaigrette. It’s one of the quickest meals for me to prepare and every single one of us loves it. That’s a good starting point. My next step comes from one of my favorite blogs that I follow. It’s a vegan blog called Oh She Glows. She’s put out a friendly salad challenge for the month of June that I plan to participate in.

Why don’t you give one of her salads a try? Maybe participate in the challenge too? I’m looking forward to having more energy this summer and experimenting with my own salad creations. It should be fun. So instead of trying to restrict myself to a certain way of eating (i.e. vegan/paleo/primal/etc…) I’m simply going to incorporate more veggies. Period. It will be delicious ; )

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Fruity Bruschetta

Most of us that have been gluten free for some length of time will find this familiar. In search of what we remember and love about traditional bread, we set off to find a GF equivalent. To start out we buy what’s ready-made. Either the cost or the disappointing texture steers us toward making our own religiously — weekly. Some experiments are more successful than others. The one or two that are decent get quickly worn out. Then comes a time where we just try to live without it altogether. But this phase too shall pass. A little more confidence and experience in the gluten free kitchen may propel us to try to replicate what is by now a distant, chewy, soul-satisfying memory.

Today was my eureka! moment. I saw a delicious photo of some fruity bruschetta on Pinterest and was disappointed to follow the link to a blog in a language I didn’t recognize in the least. So I rolled up my sleeves and created a treat that was exactly what I had hoped it would be.

I searched for a crusty bread recipe that delivered the goods. I followed it to a T including mixing up a big batch of all purpose GF flour that they list at the end of the recipe. This recipe makes 4 loaves of bread. That’s right, 4. Believe me, you’ll wish you’d have doubled it!

My trouble in the past was that I never got my dough to rise well enough. All of that ended today and after 2 hours of rising in the warm oven, I pulled out this light and fluffy piece of heaven. The recipe that follows is directly from epicurious.com submitted by GlutenFreeLove.

Crusty, Soft and Chewy Gluten Free Bread

6 c Gluten Free All Purpose Flour Mix (see recipe below)
1/2 c powdered milk
2 T yeast
1 1/2 T kosher salt
2 T Xanthan Gum
2 2/3 cups warm water
4 large eggs, beaten til frothy
1/3 c extra virgin olive oil
3 T honey

Preparation

Whisk together the flour, powdered milk, and xanthan gum in a large bowl. Combine the olive oil, honey, water and yeast in a small bowl and set aside.Pour the eggs into the dry ingredients. Slowly pour in about 1/3 of the oil mixture while stirring. Mix well, then add the 2nd 3rd. Mix well again. Add the salt, then add the last 3rd. Continue stirring until smooth.Cover loosely and allow to rise for about 2 hours.

At this point, the dough could be placed in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for up to one week. You may remove some at a time to continue with the next step.

Remove about 1/4 of the dough very gently (1/4 of dough will result in about a 1 lb loaf). Cradle the bread lightly and place on a piece of parchment paper. Dough will be wet, sticky and full of air bubbles you are trying not to condense.

Drizzle a little extra olive oil on top of the wet loaf and us your fingers to lightly spread the olive oil and shape and smooth out the surface of the loaf.

Cover loosely and (only if from out of the refrigerator), let rest for 1 1/2 more hours. 

30 minutes before baking, place a large enameled pot with top or other dutch oven with lid on in the cold oven. Preheat the oven with the pot in it to 500 degrees. 

Just before baking, use a razor to cut three slits across the top of the loaf. 

Carefully remove the hot pot and remove lid. Very gently and carefully pick up the parchment paper so that the dough is cradled in it. Place the paper and loaf, together, into the center of the pot.

Replace lid on the pot. Return pot to oven and bake for 20 minutes. Then, remove lid, and turn oven down to 425. Bake for an additional 15 minutes. Bread should sound hollow when tapped. 

Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly before removing bread from pot.

Baked bread may be frozen for up to one month.

GLUTEN FREE ALL PURPOSE FLOUR MIX: 6c.(32oz)FINE brown rice flour + 2c.(10.75oz) potato starch + 1c.(4oz) tapioca flour/starch

To make the fruity bruschetta, I spread the slices with chèvre and chives and topped it with raspberries (some still frozen — oops), a drizzle of honey and a few sprigs of lemon thyme. The balance of contrasting flavors was a nice surprise. Not too sweet and not too salty. It really was just right.
I was barely able to snap this pic of Kid Foodie finishing off his piece. Of the 4 loaves I baked today, there are 1.75 loaves left. I am seriously thinking of hiding the last intact loaf somewhere so I can use it for school lunches this week. The boys have come to regard bread the same way that most other kids regard a piece of cake. If it shows up in their lunch, they wonder what the occasion is. Score! What recipes are you ready to give another go?

Sticky Nut Crumble

As much as I try to cut down on sugar, I still have a major sweet tooth. Fortunately treats like these do satisfy and give a nice bit of energy as well. I found the original recipe for Sticky Nut Bars on this blog. The photography is gorgeous! So inspiring.

I decided to bake mine like the blog suggested for a less sticky treat. For the most part it held together, but I have a feeling I cut into it a bit too soon. They stayed together long enough for me to take this first shot. Then the more I messed with them, the more they started to crumble.

And that’s when I thought it might just make a great crumble for a morning granola-ish dish.

I personally like the chewy texture and could see topping this with some almond or coconut milk. Or you could layer it with some Greek yogurt and fruit topping.

Sticky Nut Crumble

10 dates chopped finely

2 Tbsp water

2/3 Cup almond butter

1 Cup mixed nuts/seeds (I used blanched almonds, pumpkin seeds coarsely chopped)

1/4 Cup shredded coconut

1/4 Cup sunflower seeds

1/2 Cup dried fruit (I didn’t have any on hand. But you could use raisins, dried cherries, craisins …)

1/2 tsp salt

Directions:

Coat a springform pan with parchment paper. In a small saucepan, stir together dates, water, almond butter over low heat. Add the rest of the ingredients and stir to coat. Pour the mixture into the springform pan and chill in refrigerator for about 1/2 hour. Cut them into squares before serving. If you don’t like them sticky, you could bake them at 350˚ for 20-25 minutes.

Split Pea Pesto Salad

Spinach was on sale this week. So I stocked up — 2 tubs for the price of 1. Now we have to use it up before it goes bad. Luckily, we all like spinach (although two out of the four of us would deny it. Any guesses as to who the two are??)

When I dished up this plate to photograph it, I got a couple of boos from the under 10 crowd. Yes, even Kid Foodie balked at the prospect of an entirely green dinner. But then he tasted it. Added a bit here, took away a bit there and he was s.a.t.i.s.f.i.e.d! I wolfed down this plate and loaded up another one. Dad came home and helped himself to two complete servings. And the kicker — after trying many avoidance tactics, Little Brother finally determined to choke his serving down. Imagine his surprise when after the first bite he realized he too liked it. His plate was CLEAN. It might have been a first.

Split Pea Pesto Salad

Ingredients:

1½ cups dried split peas, rinsed and picked over

1 teaspoon fine sea salt, divided

1 cup sunflower seeds (raw), divided

1 cup lightly packed cilantro leaves and stems

⅓ cup freshly grated Parmesan Cheese

3 garlic cloves, peeled

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

⅔ cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided

2 cups spinach

 Directions:

1. In a large saucepan, bring 5 cups water to boil. Add split peas and simmer, uncovered, about 25 – 30 minutes until tender. Drain and season with 3/4 teaspoon salt.

2. Make the cilantro pesto: In a blender or food processor, combine ⅓ cup of the sunflower seeds, the cilantro, Parmesan, garlic, lemon juice, ¼ teaspoon salt and a splash of olive oil and puree until smooth. Continue blending while gradually drizzling in the remaining olive oil until the pesto becomes a vibrant green sauce (makes about 1 cup).

3. Make the salad: In a large bowl, toss the cooked split peas and the remaining ⅔ cup of sunflower seeds with two-thirds of the pesto. Continue tossing until everything is well coated. Lay down a bed of spinach on a serving plate, top with split pea mixture, drizzle with some of the additional pesto to taste and sprinkle more Parmesan to taste. Serve immediately.

This recipe was based on this one I found via Pinterest.

For my second serving, I crumbled a bit of gorgonzola over my greens and warmed it up just a tad. It tasted truly decadent. Not sure what the nutritional value is when you start adding rich cheeses, but I figure I’m eating an enormous amount of greens so that’s got to count for something right? In all seriousness, though, this was a highly satisfying meal and very quick and easy to make. It may make another appearance this week or next — depending on how quickly we can go through my stockpile of spinach. I don’t think I’ll hear any complaining the next time I make this dish!

Sweet Potato Flatbread Pizza

I had a strong urge to incorporate flatbread into dinner tonight. It started off this morning, stayed with me all day and hung on through TWO, count them, TWO rounds of flatbread trials. Last week I roasted 3 or 4 sweet potatoes (like I’ve been getting into the habit of doing. It’s nice to have already-roasted ingredients ready to throw into an impromptu recipe.) So I was feeling like I really needed to use them up today. I did a search for sweet potato flatbread and couldn’t really find anything that incorporated the potatoes into the actual dough. Most just had slices topping the flatbread. My solution was to combine two recipes from my tried and true GF cookbooks and make up something entirely new.

The first round was only a marginal success. I rolled out about 8 smaller discs thinking we’d have personal size flatbread pizzas tonight. The only problem was I let them go a bit too long in an oven that was a bit too hot. They’re edible and they look really cute, but it’s not what I was really going for.

After eating 3 little ones (remember, I DID say they were edible ; ) I still had the energy and enough sweet potato puree to give it another go. This time I kept it simple. I used the recipe from the Sweet Potato Biscuits. That’s it. The only thing I did differently was instead of rolling and cutting out rounds, I smoothed it out onto a pizza pan. Oh, and instead of butter, I used olive oil.

Sweet Potato Flatbread

2 cups all-purpose gf flour (I used my most common mix – 1 cup brown rice flour, 2/3 cup sorghum flour, 1/3 cup tapioca flour)

1 teaspoon xanthan gum

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

2 tablespoons sugar

1 teaspoon kosher salt

3 Tablespoons olive oil

3/4 cup pureed baked sweet potatoes (about 2 medium potatoes)

1/3 cup sour cream 

1/4 cup milk (I used almond milk)

1. Preheat oven to 375˚F. Grease a round pizza pan.

2. In a large bowl, place flour, xanthan, baking powder, baking soda, sugar and salt. Whisk to combine. 

3. In a separate bowl mix together olive oil, sweet potatoes, sour cream and milk. Add these ingredients to the large bowl and mix with spoon until dough begins to come together. 

4. On the greased pizza pan, smooth out the dough with a wet spatula.

5. Place in the preheated oven for about 15 – 20 minutes.

6. Top with assorted toppings, place back into oven for another 10 minutes or so.

This second time around was a resounding success! So much so, I almost forgot to document it. I managed to get the last few slices though. Topping our flatbread pizza tonight, were spinach, shredded carrots, caramelized onions with finely chopped rosemary and gorgonzola. Quite tasty! Kid Foodie agreed.


I’m just now realizing how many recipes I’ve posted using sweet potatoes! But hey, they are a superfood right? My only regret from this dinner experiment was that I didn’t make enough to have leftovers. That pizza went fast! Now . . . what to have for dinner tomorrow night?

 

Fish Tacos

Growing up along the banks of a salmon stream that fed into the mighty Columbia River and being related to my brother who fishes as naturally and as often as a person can, you’d think I’d be a seafood person. Not true. In fact, I think I’ve only begun eating salmon within the past 10 years or so. I’ve never eaten shrimp and the one time I tried lobster, I couldn’t see what the fuss was about. However, since we’ve overhauled our diet and are enjoying tons of new foods, seafood is back on the list of things to incorporate. I have always been able to eat white fish since it’s so mild. So a couple weeks ago while at the grocery store, I picked up a package of frozen tilapia with one thing on my mind: Fish Tacos!

Kid Foodie begged me to take him to a local place called Diego’s last summer. I knew they were known for their killer fish tacos and that’s where I tried them for the first time. They were pretty darn good. But as we’ve been learning lately, even though commercial places offer foods that are naturally gluten free, there’s still a lot of cross contamination going on through the sharing of grills and such. Sadly, we’ve had to all but avoid any restaurants since Kid Foodie was showing signs of being gluten contaminated lately.

This recipe even includes cornmeal tortillas that I made earlier today. I have to say, I’m getting better at rolling out my tortillas and I was pleasantly surprised at how well the cornmeal tortillas came out. The cornmeal is something I added on a whim and wasn’t sure what to expect. They played nice and rolled out beautifully.

Cornmeal Tortillas:

1 Cup brown rice flour

2/3 Cup cornmeal

1/3 Cup tapioca flour

1 teaspoon xanthan gum

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 Tablespoons vegetable oil

1 Cup water (100 F)

Mix flours, xanthan and salt together. Add vegetable oil and combine. Slowly add water until sticky dough forms. Divide dough into 6 equal balls. Between two sheets of plastic wrap, roll out each dough ball to 1/8″ thick. Peel the top sheet of plastic off carefully and sprinkle top lightly with a bit of flour. Heat a skillet on a medium high heat stovetop. With the floured side of the tortilla flipped onto your palm, carefully peel off the second sheet of plastic and drop the disc onto the skillet. Careful to let it drop flat — this may take some practice! Cook each side 45-60 seconds or so. It’s better to have these underdone as opposed to overdone.

Fish Taco Ingredients:
1 pound tilapia
3 limes
1/2 Cup mayonnaise
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/3 all purpose GF flour (Bob’s Redmill or custom mix)
8 GF cornmeal tortillas
1 Cup shredded cabbage
2 carrots, peeled and shredded
1 serrano pepper, thinly sliced (or small red pepper if that’s what you have)
Instructions:
1. Cut fish into small cubes.
2. For the lime sauce, juice 2 limes into a bowl, stir in mayonnaise and chili powder. Reserve 1/3 Cup sauce and coat fish cubes in remaining sauce.
3. In a large skillet, heat 2 Tablespoons of cooking oil over medium heat. In a shallow dish, combine flour and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Toss fish in flour mix and add to hot oil. Cook 4-6 minutes or until fish starts to flake. Try to turn fish so they brown evenly. Drain on paper towels.
4. Top tortillas with reserved chili-lime sauce, fish, cabbage mix and pepper. Slice remaining lime into wedges and serve with tacos. 
Serves 4.
This meal earned 4 thumbs up tonight. It’s something that I think will find its way into a regular rotation. Not a bad entry into the seafood world I might say.

Mmmmm Savory Pies

There’s a restaurant in our town called Man Pies and they sell both savory and sweet pot pies. Since we found out they offer gluten free options, we gave them a try and MAN are they good! I could seriously eat there every day. Or figure out how to make my own at home. So that’s what I’m bringing you today! Homemade gluten free meat pies. And — bonus — they’re pretty easy!

These ones are stuffed with beef, carrots and parsnips — a British spin, I suppose. This is comfort food at its best. They’re made from super basic ingredients, they can be portable for lunch on the run and they feel so indulgent. I had extra filling leftover so as an added bonus I’ll get another dish out of my time spent in the kitchen.

Wanna give it a try? Thought so. I started with the flour mix. I generally have the ingredients to mix up a batch of all-purpose flour and this is the ratio I use: 1 part white rice flour, 2/3 part sorghum flour, 1/3 part tapioca flour. As usual, I almost had everything, but I did make one substitution — I didn’t have sorghum flour like I thought, but used coconut flour instead. It still totally worked but I added a bit more water than it called for. No biggie. If you already have all-purpose flour then you’re one step ahead.

To make the crust I used the Savory Olive Oil Crust recipe on page 42 of my new favorite cookbook Gluten Free On A Shoestring.

SavoryOliveOilCrust This is a link to a pdf of the crust recipe. I’m still learning the ins and outs of WordPress, so bear with me.

Here’s a link to a little video I put together on rolling out the dough. Sorry, I can’t embed videos on this free blog I guess : (

dough video

Once you’re confident with rolling dough, the sky’s the limit on fillings. My second batch of pies had the filling you saw in the video — mushrooms, butternut squash and goat cheese. Technically, these aren’t meat pies are they now? How about we call them savory pies? Ok that settles it. Savory Pies. I like it. I hope you try them and let me know how it goes!

Pear Pancakes

Kid Foodie is the only one in our household that likes to eat pears plain. I remember as a kid that I liked them for awhile but then the texture started to become an issue. So while I like the flavor of pears, the idea of biting into a mealy fruit still isn’t so appealing. With it essentially being pear season right now (our produce bin contains different varieties each week) even Kid Foodie is starting to wane a bit in his enthusiasm for them. So my fruit bowl is overflowing with no less than 3 varieties of pears as we speak.

I was trolling the internet for recipes that contain pears when I happened upon this Pear Pancake recipe at Martha Stewart’s site. Although this recipe does require a bit more prep than whipping up pancakes from scratch it’s still pretty darn easy and gives regular ole pancakes a bit of flair. Again, to make this version gluten free, I turn to my good friend Bob:

I usually try to keep this mix on hand. We’re not super big pancake eaters around here, but every once in awhile it’s nice to be able to mix this up quick. Now here’s where the pears come in. Years back at a Pampered Chef party I bought this apple peeler slicer corer. It sat unused for YEARS. Until . . . one day . . . I decided to try it out. It’s pretty awesome. It really does all 3 things in one fell swoop. So I put it to work last night on peeling, slicing and coring my pears. It did not fail me. If you have one of these, use it for this recipe.

Once you run your pears through, you’ll end up with long spirals. I forgot to take a picture last night, but here’s a shorter bit of what they’ll look like:

I only used the Martha Stewart recipe as a guide. So from here on out, here’s what you do:

Mix up the Bob’s GF Pancake Mix. Following the directions on the back for one serving.

After you peel, slice and core your pears (1 or 2), create separate rounds if they are spiraled. Soak them in a small dish with about 1/4 Cup maple syrup and 1 tsp. cinnamon.

Heat up your griddle with a bit of oil and place individual rounds of pears on the surface (I did 5 at a time). Let them heat through about a minute.

Spoon the pancake mix into the middle of the pear round and gently guide the rest to slightly spill over the sides. Flip when the mix’s shine dulls.

That’s it. Not much more effort than regular pancake mix but they look and taste extra special. I made a bunch and put them in the fridge. Heated up the next morning, they are still quite tasty. If you’re hosting a brunch, these would go over very well I’m sure.

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  • About This Blog’s Authors

    Even before his diagnosis of Celiac Disease in 2010, Kid Foodie was passionate about food. Although the diagnosis brought some restrictions, his appreciation and appetite for good, healthy food has only skyrocketed.

    For me, his diagnosis of Celiac opened up a world of food possibilities and a new way of thinking about what we eat. It has absolutely been a joy to overhaul our family's food choices and we all continue to benefit from it. We write this blog to help our family and friends understand how to cook gluten free and to provide them recipes to try out themselves.

    Kid Foodie now has his own blog:
    heykidfoodie.com

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