Saturday, October 27, 2012

One Week Down: Gluten-free

I am one week into my Gluten-Free (GF) diet; and just as a reminder, I am not doing this for fun, this is out of a need to heal my body. It hasn't been as hard as I originally thought it would be. I find that I am just eating more naturally GF products (with a few corn chips and GF pretzels thrown in.) I have stopped looking at this change as a bad and disappointing thing but more of a change for the better. I am already noticing that I am making better food choices and my body can tell the difference. I figure it will take a few more weeks to really notice a change but I know my mornings haven’t been as painful. I will still get an upset stomach after eating some things that I thought were GF or anything with too much dairy, but still it hasn’t been as bad. I know I have a lot more research to do to fully understand the GF lifestyle and I am prepared for the challenge adventure.  I am starting to see this as a life change, and not just a hump in the road, I have to admit it is a little scary but like I just said, I am prepared for this and having my family's support really helps.

I have been looking at different blogs, through different books, trying to get inspired for different food ideas. This past week, I ate a lot of salad with all my favorite add-ins, well except the croutons but nuts and seeds make up for the crunch. Some of the other foods I ate/made were: egg muffins with sautéed kale and mushrooms, that were great as a grab and go morning breakfast along with a banana; pumpkin and sweet potato soup, I froze some and the rest brought to work for lunch; tacos! {I love tacos} in corn shells of course and had left overs for lunch. I also snacked on grapes, multigrain corn chips, GF pretzels, hummus and vegetables like cauliflower and celery. I got to try Pamela’s Baking and Pancake Mix, for one evening we did breakfast for dinner. I personally really enjoyed them. It was a combination of different flours which included almond. There was a chocolate chip cookie recipe on the side of the bag that I would like to try at some point.

I have two parties to attend this weekend, the one I know that I will be bringing at least one dish (maybe two) but the other is a kids party and will probably not have too much for me to nibble on.  Both parties I will probably eat at least something before I go, just in case. [Side note: this wasn't posted until after the parties, I gave in and tried a piece of an awesome Mushroom Marsala Tart and I am not sure how much it did to me because I also drank too much wine and that usually bothers me, but either way my belly was NOT happy with me in the morning.]

Okay, so enough about that and now on to the recipes.  I mentioned this soup on an earlier post, it was originally from The Gluten-Free Goddess, I made a few changes due to what I had on hand.  The flavor was really good, not too sweet, not too spicy. I also try not to over puree soups because I like a little texture.  The egg muffins on the other hand were inspired by something I saw on Pinterest, I like having things I can just grab and go in the mornings.  And these freeze really well.

Pumpkin Sweet Potato Soup

(adapted from the Gluten-Free Goddess, see the original recipe here)

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
4 medium carrots, peeled, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
1/2 teaspoon fresh ginger, minced
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon curry powder
Dash of salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
1 15-oz. can pumpkin
2 small sweet potatoes, roasted, peeled, cubed
3 cups vegetable broth
3 cups chicken broth
2 tablespoons dry sherry

In a heavy soup pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat, and sauté the onion for about 5 minutes until softened. Add in the chopped carrots and celery, and stir in the spices. Lower heat and gently cook for about 10 minutes.

Add in the pumpkin, sweet potato, broth and sherry; stir together. Cover and bring to a slow simmer, cooking the soup for about 25-35 minutes until the vegetables are very tender.

Remove from heat, and puree the soup. (I used a my blender, and pureed it batches filling only about half way full. Put the pureed soup back into the pot and continue to cook on low. Taste and adjust the seasonings.  This made about 6 servings or so and seems to freeze well.

Read more:

Egg Muffins with Kale and Mushrooms

(makes 12 muffins)

2 cups Kale, chopped (spinach would work also)
1 cup mushrooms, sliced (use your favorite)
1 small onion, chopped fine
1 clove garlic, chopped fine
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
6 eggs
3 tbsp plain yogurt
pepper to taste

Heat the oil in a large pan over medium heat, add the onions and garlic and saute until translucent  Add the chopped kale and mushrooms toss to coat in the oil onion mixture, sprinkle with the salt and cover. Let cook until the kale had wilted and the mushrooms are tender.

Spray the muffin pan with cooking spray, fill each cup about half way with the kale and mushroom mixture.  Let cool slightly.

Mean while, whisk the eggs and yogurt together. Fill the muffin cups with the egg mixture. Bake  at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes or so until the egg is firm to the touch.

*I didn't add cheese but you could easily add different ingredients. However, I do add a little bit of cheese on top when I heat them in the microwave. They only take about 30-45 seconds to heat through in the microwave from a frozen state.  You could also use a mini muffin pan to make little appetizers. The options are endless!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Wordless Wednesday: Compliments of Nic

(Late sorry.)

In case you have been wondering...

Fall. It is hands down my favorite season; it is also my least favorite. Go figure. It is funny how one can look forward to and dread something all at the same time, but I do. It is a struggle every year.

I love the crisp air, sweat shirts and jeans, bonfires, the color change, the smell in the air, the food...oh sweet warm and comforting food and fall produce, just to name a few.

I hate (and I don't like to use the word lightly) the short days, fall allergies, depression, my car (oh wait that isn't just because of the fall) and those sneaky winter like days. Granted this season is feeling a little worse due to my continuous flare up (yeah, yeah it may get to be a little TMI but it is my blog right? Right.) It is causing me to be a little more bummed then normal and is literally draining the life out of me. Not to mention it is also putting a damper on my personal and work life.  The mornings are hellish, and I must admit as cute as it is, it bothers me that my almost 3-yr old is concerned about me.

I have talked about changing up my diet before and I have gone through periods of time doing so. But this time is more of a need then a want. I don't like that I will need to give up certain foods or change at all but I am at a loss. Medication alone isn't helping enough. So with the support of my wonderful family I am going to eliminate things from my diet, and hopefully slowly introduce them back to see if and what may affect me. Worse case, I will be on a quest to make bland food not as bland. I know this isn't going to be easy, and will take a lot of planning on my part so I don't deprive my family of what they want.

Knowing I am going to struggle with this, I at least know I have great support; which I know is really important. Of course I am also doing this close to the holiday season, so temptation is going to be knocking all the time! But I need to listen to my husband and think before I just grab. "Think about what the effects will be, is it worth it?" the words of my wonderful husband.

So my plan for this weekend is to go through what we have in the house already. Make a "Catherine" spot, a place I can keep any special food, my snacks (in both the cabinets and fridge). Make some lists, and come up with substitutions for some of our regular dinners. I currently try my best to plan dinners but there are still days that we forget to take out meat from the freezer or just run out of time and opt for something quick and easy. Since my husband is the one who usually makes dinner {love him!}, I need to make sure whatever changes I make doesn’t affect his schedule and is or are easy to incorporate with whatever else he is making.

My mom told me she bought me a book, so hopefully it will be here soon and will have some other ideas to make the transition a little easier. By the way, if you are my friend…try not to offer me any food. I am really going to be working hard on not just giving in. I thank you in advance! I just needed to get this all off my chest and I am sure I will keep posting about my progress along with some of the recipes that I have tried or altered. But, for now I am going to end this with something that I look forward to trying!

Pumpkin-Sweet Potato Soup from The Gluten-free Goddess, see the recipe here.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Moms Meet: Stonyfield Organic Yogurt {recipes}

I can't believe it is already October, I need to start posting my wordless Wednesdays again, fall is such a great time of year for pictures.  Plus, my son has his camera so there are some great 2-year old pictures! It is already seems that it will be a busy month.  We are booked every weekend, between bocce and parties, plus I need to start thinking more about my son's 3rd birthday that will be here before I know it.  But the real reason for this post...

We ended the month with a Moms Meet, I say we because a fellow Mom Ambassador and I joined together this time.  We sampled Stonyfield Organic Yogurts, and my cohort handed out Ecover samples for everyone to take home and try. (Which so far, I really like! It left my clothes soft and for an unscented detergent, left my clothes smelling clean and fresh!) But I am here to talk about yogurt... 

A little about Stonyfield...Stonyfield is based in New Hampshire and started off making yogurt just to support their farming school. It has since expanded and now is sold in most large grocery chain stores. Stonyfield now also buys there milk from family farms, supporting the local farms. (How that came about is kind of interesting, I would suggest checking out their website.) The yogurts are all organic. Here is their mission statement: "We’re committed to healthy food, healthy people, a healthy planet and healthy business."

We sampled all the types of yogurt that our local grocery store carries, I am sure the check out girl thought I was crazy buying so much yogurt!  The ones we tried; YoBaby, YoToddler, YoKids, Greek, Smoothies, Squeezer, and just regular fruit on the bottom.  Everyone really enjoyed them, we were all really happy that they weren't as sweet as some of the other kids yogurts out there and they weren't full of artificial colors (no neon pinks and purples here!) It took everything I had to keep my son from drinking all the smoothies before the sampling.  He loves his yogurt!  I know I will buy these from now on for him.  You can tell they don't have crazy stuff added, and that makes them really good.  They do have a Kids Greek also, but of course our local store didn't carry that.  It also didn't carry as many flavors as there are actually available which is also a bummer. 

The YoBaby, YoToddler and YoKids are made with your child's needs in mind. The baby and toddler are made with whole milk while the kids is low-fat.  All three have less sugar than the other brands.  The toddler also has added DHA I have nothing bad to say about them.

And of course, you can cook with yogurt so I made two different things using the yogurt. 

Lasagna Primavera
(adapted from Stonyfields recipe Lasagna Primavera)

2 c carrots, shredded
1 c finely chopped kale
2 c chopped mushrooms
1 q Stonyfield Organic Low Fat Plain Yogurt (to make 1 cup yogurt cheese)
2 tbsp Italian seasoning
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
2 eggs
2 1/2 c mozzarella cheese, shredded
1/2 c Parmesan cheese, shredded
12 lasagna noodles (I used no boil noodles)*
32 oz pasta sauce

1. For Yogurt Cheese: Using layered cheese cloth, strain the whey from 1 quart of yogurt overnight in the refrigerator. This should yield 1 cup of yogurt cheese. (I used a pitcher and a chop stick, put the yogurt in the cheese cloth and tie, like a hobo sack. Stick a chop stick or pencil throw the gathered cloth, not the yogurt part. The stick will keep it from falling in the drained whey.)

2.Preheat oven to 375°.

3.Using a large mixing bowl, fold the vegetables, 1 cup mozzarella cheese, herbs, salt, pepper and eggs into the yogurt cheese. In a 9"x13" pan place a couple of tablespoons of sauce on bottom, spreading evenly.

4.Place a layer of noodles in the pan, top with half of the vegetable filling, then half of the sauce, then some cheese. Repeat for the second layer. Finish with the remaining noodles and cheese. Bake covered with foil for 1 hour. Remove foil for the last 10 minutes for cheese to brown. Serve warm.

*For Gluten Free option: use gluten free lasagna noddles, or even zucchini thinly sliced long ways instead of noodles

Coffee Cake
(adapted from the Sour Cream Coffee Cake recipe from The Practical Encyclopedia of Baking by Martha Day)

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour*
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, room temperature
2/3 cups sugar
3 eggs, at room temperature
1 cup Stonyfield Organic French Vanilla Yogurt (plain or Greek would work, I just happened to use French Vanilla)

crumb (if you like a lot of crumb topping, feel free to add!)
1 cup brown sugar (I used just a little more)
1/2 cup pecans, chopped (you can use any nut combination, I just had these on hand)
1/2 cup almonds, chopped
4 tbsp (1/2 stick) butter, room temperature

1. Preheat oven to 375°, prepare a 9"x9" cake pan.

2. Make the crumb mixture, combine all ingredients until the butter is about the size of peas. Set aside.

3. Start the cake batter. Using a stand mixer, beat together the butter and sugar until smooth.  Slowly add one egg at a time until well combined.

4. In a medium size bowl, combine the dry ingredients.

5. Alternating between the dry ingredients and the yogurt, slowly add to the butter mixture. 

6. Pour half the batter into the prepared cake pan, followed by half the crumb mixture. Repeat. Bake for 60-70 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

*Gluten Free Option: use an all-purpose Gluten Free flour blend and add 1 tsp. xanthan gum. 

Label It Now – What You Need to Know About Genetically Engineered Foods