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Posts from the ‘Gluten Free’ Category

Zoodles for your Face

I had ten minutes to make something to eat while the little Guy napped and before a slate of conference calls began, and the zucchinis sitting on my kitchen counter were judging me for not cooking them yet.  So I made zoodles.

I can’t cook.  And so can you!

INGREDIENTS

  • one large zucchini
  • garlic cloves
  • olive oil
  • sea salt
  • cherry tomatoes

DIRECTIONS

  • Take your frying pan, pick off little egg bits that didn’t fully come off when you washed it, and then heat it up on the stove top at a medium heat.  Put a little olive oil in that pan.
  • Press the garlic and add it to the pan.
  • While the frying pan is heating up, use the Veggetti that you bought months ago but don’t use often enough and laugh every time you say the name and send that zucchini through it like it’s a woodchipper.  It is a satisfying exercise, twisting a zucchini through and watching it become veggie ribbons on the other side. Like a Play-Doh spaghetti maker you’re actually encouraged to eat the efforts of.

  • Slice a few of those cherry tomatoes and keep them at the ready.  Their time is coming.
  • Once the pan is hot, add the zucchini noodles (ZOODLES!) to it.  Stir here and there so it cooks evenly.  Add some sea salt to taste.  Once the zoodles are cooked to your preferred texture (I like mine a little al dente, Chris likes his cooked well, Birdy hates them entirely, the little Guy will eat anything in any form), add the cherry tomatoes until they are warm and then pull the pan from the heat.

  • Pour the whole concoction into a bowl.  I like to drain the zoodles after they cook to get rid of some of the water that collects, but not too much.
  • Eat it with your face.

A medium zucchini nets out at about 7 carbs, and the tomatoes add a few more, so I ended up bolusing for 10 grams of carbs and don’t usually see any kind of BG bounce.  Your diabetes may vary, though.

The Vegetable Recipes That Didn’t Suck.

The battle remains uphill (couldn’t remember how to turn the stove on the other day, which is a testament to how scrambled my pregnant brain is becoming – add that to last week’s inability to use the gas pump on a car I’ve owned for over six years), but I’m still working diligently to cut more meat out of our diets and integrate more vegetable-based dishes.  Call it an experiment in vegebetes, if you will.

And I will.

There have been a few spectacular failures (undocumented) and a handful of poorly-photographed successes (documented and to follow), but we’re slowly making progress, and I’ve yet to burn the house down.  Pluses on all fronts.

Here are a few of the vegetable dishes that tasted nice, were Birdzone approved (for the most part), and didn’t kill anyone:

This eggplant from Jamie Oliver.  As mentioned, no one died.  And we’ve made it ten different times so far, with leftovers extending for a day or so, making it useful on several fronts.

I make it exactly as the recipe dictates, except I use gluten-free bread crumbs and I also add more garlic than should be humanly consumed.  We’ve eaten it on its own, served over quinoa, or over pasta.  Even Birdzone said it was “okay,” and the neighbor’s kid actually said it was “awesome!”  Everyone seemed surprised by this realization.

Eggplant. (Man, all my food pictures look mildly horrifying. Food blogger I am decidedly NOT.)

A photo posted by Kerri Sparling (@sixuntilme) on

I also took a crack at making falafel last night, which was surprisingly awesome (and the patties stayed together much more effectively than the quinoa and sweet potato ones that haunt my dreams).  Birdy really liked these, and they actually tasted like something instead of me wishing they tasted like something.  The recipe came from a Better Homes and Gardens 365 Vegetarian Meals cookbook, which was more than worth the purchase because most of the recipes seem really easy … even for a novice like me.

Falafel attempt (before they were tossed into the pan).

A photo posted by Kerri Sparling (@sixuntilme) on

Ingredients

For the falafel patties:
1 15 oz can of chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup shredded carrot
2 tablespoons gluten-free flour
2 tablespoons fresh parsley
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 cloves of garlic, halved
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper

Once these ingredients are measured out, put them all in a food processor and mess them up together. That’s kind of it; it took more time to measure things out then to obliterate them in the food processor.

Problem was I used a food processor that was a teeny bit too small for the project.  I had to blend things by the half portion, and then smash them together in a bigger bowl, which was kind of fun in a chickpea snowball sort of way, but really messy to clean up.

Once everything is mixed up, you split the contents into four sections and shape the mixture like giant cookie dough balls.  Then, in a large skillet, you heat up 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium-high heat, then put the patties in there.  The recipe called for the patties to cook for 6 minutes, but mine required more like 10.  Once they are brown on one side, flip them over and brown up the other side.  Then they are done.

(Note:  We liked the taste, but next time I make these, I’m splitting the mixture into smaller portions and making 8 patties, not 4.  That way, they’ll end up a little crispier and not be so gigantic.)

For the sauce:
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 clove minced garlic
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Once the patties are ready to go, put them on a bed of spinach, top with the mayonnaise mix and some cucumber slices, and eat them with your face.

More experiments coming soon, but thank you guys for the recommendations and advice as I take a crack at this new way of cooking. I appreciate all the input, and should mail you all some cookies (like these cookies, because they are so damn good).

Gluten-Free … Still.

I don’t have celiac disease.  I don’t have gluten-sensitivity antibodies.  My endocrinologist ran a slate of tests to determine if my body was pro- or anti-gluten, and nothing came back weird.  As I mentioned last September, the basic gist is that my body seems to have no trouble at all with gluten.  Except that it totally does.

For a good, long time, I felt crummy.  To revisit last summer:

“I was exhausted – falling asleep on the couch and having trouble maintaining my normal vampire hours.  I was moody and grouchy, especially later in the day.  (And I’ll just offer this up because I know you’re thinking it:  I’m not pregnant.)  My hands, on some mornings, were tingly and pins-and-needlesish.  And my stomach was angry, but in a really passive-aggressive way.  I had sharp pains in my stomach, but not all the time.  I had wicked bloating, but not intensely all the time.  I just had a permanent belly ache, and it was becoming the norm.”

I’ve been entirely gluten-free since last August, and those symptoms up there are gone.  The bloating, tender belly pain is gone, as is the majority of the thick brain fog that had settled in for several months.  (Not all the brain fog, though.  I am still space shot in ways that will never repair themselves, but gluten isn’t to blame for that.  That’s all organically me.)  No more pain.

Overall, I haven’t included a new pile of gluten-free replacements for foods, but instead am just cutting out gluten sources.  I bake our bread, so that’s gluten-free, but I don’t often eat bread.  Or pasta.  Subbing in more vegetables, meat, and fruits works better for my personal diabetes crap and preferences than replacing my diet with a bunch of gluten-free specialty foods.  Again, this is easier for me because I don’t have a problem with foods that have come into contact with gluten (I can pick the croutons off a salad without having a belly ache afterwards) and also because my response to eating gluten isn’t an immediate gastrointestinal disaster but instead a sharp bloating that, all things considered, I can totally work through for a night.

I just don’t want to feel unwell; the change is worth the effort, for me.  So I am totally gluten free.  And I am still squeamish to talk about it because it seems like stupid trend-following witchcraft and food bandwagon’ing.  “Gluten-free!  It’s the modern MUST for foodies!”  I kind of feel like a tool requesting a gluten-free meal or asking a server if they have a gluten-free menu, but the handful of times that I’ve eaten gluten in the last year have left a now-predictable and very uncomfortable mark.  I feel lucky as fuck to have figured this out, because I felt like absolute garbage before cutting gluten.

Which is what I try to remember when I’m sheepishly asking someone about the gluten content of a meal.  I’m not doing this to be trendy or snobby.  I am doing this so I don’t feel terrible the majority of the time.  I’m doing this so my kid can hug me around the waist without me wincing from pain.  I’m doing this so Chris doesn’t think his wife is suddenly 98 years old.  Whether lab work proves a sensitivity or not, my body has spoken loud and clear, and I’m listening.

 

Chocolate Chip and Heath Bar Cookies OMG.

I can’t cook, but I can bake.  (Which is a bit ironic, because the things I create are best avoided, for my own, personal blood sugar reasons.  /digression)  And for our annual holiday dessert party, I worked with a cookie recipe from the How Can It Be Gluten Free Cookbook to bake up some delicious treats.

Here’s the low-down on how Birdy and I baked these up:

ingredients

1 3/4 cups Bob’s Red Mill gluten-free baking flour
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp xanathan gum
1/2 tsp salt
10 tablespoons salted butter, melted
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
2 tablespoons whole milk
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 cup chocolate chips
3/4 cup Heath Bar bits

The recipe in the How Can It Be Gluten Free Cookbook is pretty spot on, but we tweak it just a little bit.  The ingredients in the book call for unsalted butter, etc. but Birdzone and I made some changes based on preference.  (We like cookies that are chewy and soft, and this chart serves as a gorgeous guide.)

First, we combined the flour, baking soda, xanathan gum (the magic ingredient!), and salt together in one bowl.  Then we whisked together the melted butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar in another bowl, mixing until it was smooth.  To the butter, etc bowl we then added the egg, milk, and vanilla and beat the crap out of that mixture with a whisk until it was one smooth mixture.  Then we added the flour mixture to the butter bowl (Does this make sense?  Refer to the original recipe for accurate info.) with the intention of mixing it together slowly, but when Birdy helps, she dumps the whole bowl in at once, so it all went in at once.  (Oh my, run on sentence.)

Once the bowls are combined, we add in the chocolate chips and the Heath bar bits.  Then the dough sits, tightly covered, for 30 minutes.  Only we left ours for 45 minutes, which made it even easier to work with.  (I haven’t tried refrigerating the dough overnight, but that’s next on my list.)

After 30 – 45 minutes, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  The dough is ready to shape into tablespoon’ed balls (that sounds perverse, sorry) and spaced out on the cookie sheet.  Bake the cookies for about 12 minutes, or until the edges are golden and the middles don’t seem sludgy or weird.

The final product is a chewy, delicious cookie that doesn’t have any gluten in it and will make everything other than your blood sugars happy.  (The photo up at the top of this post is of our first attempt at these cookies, without Heath Bar and without extra butter or salt.  They were good, but not nearly as good as the ones we didn’t snap pictures of … mostly because the cookies didn’t last long enough to photograph.  They were that good.)

Happy baking and for Pete’s sake, BOLUS.

 

Pros and Cons of Going Gluten-Free. (and a brief lament about the smooshed banana)

It’s been about seven weeks on this “no way, gluten!” lifestyle, and I’m starting to find my footing.  But there are still many pros and cons to balance, so I’m listing them here.  That way, I can look back at this post in a few months and be all, “Pfffft.  Whiner.  You’re in the zone now.”

Here we go – PROS and CONS of Going Gluten-Free in ALL CAPS at times because that’s the only way my brain can operate this morning.

CON:  It’s a pain in the ass, doing this.  Reading food labels for carbohydrate content and grams of sugar in pursuit of better blood sugar control is second nature to me by this point.  After 28 years with type 1 diabetes, I’m comfortable with the carbs.  But trolling labels for that bright, shiny GF logo, or reading through each ingredient to ensure that I’m not inadvertently eating gluten is a new adventure, and one that I find very intrusive.

PRO:  As a result, weight management has been easier lately.  Which I guess is a plus but at the same time, I’m hungry, so I can’t call this a total pro.

CON:  I’m hungry.  (See above.)  All the time.  Mostly because I’m unsure of what to eat, and that insecurity leads me to eat the same things all the time.  Staples like hard boiled eggs, grilled chicken, spinach salad, yogurt, almonds, and every fruit I can get my paws on dominate my days.  Menu items like gluten-free pizza, butternut squash (done with GF ingredients), and chicken soup are being explored, but my natural inclination to be a lazy chef makes this sort of exploration tougher.

PRO:  Eating the same things all the time makes me very familiar with how they map out, blood sugar wise.  So I’m best able to pre-bolus with precision and my post-prandials aren’t gross.  This is boring as eff, but effective for diabetes management.

CON:  Low blood sugars have been really weird lately, especially the ones that follow a visit to the gym.  Before going gluten-free, I’d eat froast or some other glutened up snack to keep my blood sugar steady through cardio (yes, there are other options, but I can’t pretend to have chomped on kale during a run – that would be a big, fat lie and kale hates lies).  Now, I’m erring on the side of fruit and sometimes those sugars get in and out of my system too quickly to hold me for an entire workout.  I’m still figuring out what foods work best to deal with during- and post-exercise hypoglycemia.

PRO:  Glucolift Wildberry tabs are gluten-free.

CON:  Traveling is weird now, too, keeping gluten off my plate.  Airports are not designed for people with dietary needs or preferences, especially little airports like the one I frequent here in Providence.  Finding foods that are gluten-free while on the road is tough, with little exception.  Once I land somewhere, I’m fine, but while in transit, I keep my bag stashed with snacks.

PRO:  I’m learning a lot about what foods travel well.  These gf bars are among my favorites to toss in a backpack, and while they are not as healthy as something fresh, they can stand up to traveling with me and they are more filling than the Southwest pretzels that I can’t eat.

CON:  Bananas do not keep well in backpacks.  They turn brown quickly and often end up smeared on … oh, let’s say the lid of a laptop.

PRO:  I wash my backpack more often than I ever have before, and now it permanently smells like dryer sheets.  Which is a nice contrast to my computer, which smells permanently like bananas now.

CON:  I hate being “that girl.”  The one who asks waitstaff if certain menu options can be made without gluten.  The one who reads labels before taking a bite of anything.  The one who might be mistakenly marked as someone following a “trend diet” instead of someone who is unhappily-but-smartly following through on feedback from her body.  As good as I feel off gluten, I wish I could still eat the stuff and not make waves.

PRO:  I’m learning not to care about feeling slightly embarrassed because DUDE I feel so much better.

“You’re more … you.  The change between then and now is significant,” Chris said the other day.

He’s right.  My mood/disposition/health/everything since kicking gluten out of my diet has been ten steps in the best direction.  All of the non-celiac gluten sensitivity symptoms are gone.  The “head fog” where I would forget what I was doing or what I was about to say has receded.  The numbness and tingling in my hands and wrists is gone.  The ache in my hip joints after running is gone.  I don’t want to spend the afternoon taking a nap on the couch.  My energy is back.  My face is less puffy.  I can chase Birdy without feeling like my feet are in lead boots.  It took months to tune in to how poorly I felt, but now that I’m feeling better, the change is undeniable.

As much as I miss being more carefree about food, a gluten-free diet is the best fit for me.  And after almost three decades of type 1 diabetes, what’s one more food constraint?  So long as coffee and wine remain in the mix, I’m good.

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