Tuesday, March 30, 2010


I thought that tonight I would change up my blogging style a little and just give an example of my day today, including some fast and easy allergy-free (for us) meals that we had today.  I know that some of you who are new to eating gluten-free, dairy-free, or soy-free are struggling with meal ideas that will fit into your busy schedules, so I thought I would just start sharing some of what we eat on a regular basis that might help you or give you some ideas that will maybe make your lives a little easier (and it might help some of you who are friends or family of ours who might not need to adjust your own diets but are interested in learning how to better accommodate our food issues when we have gatherings or dinners).

Today was a busy day for me, as usual.  For breakfast I threw together some Mesa Sunrise flakes with some shredded coconut, raisins, craisins, sunflower seeds, and vanilla rice milk.  Then I had some errands to run.  (I always try to make sure I eat before I head out to do my shopping, otherwise I buy a lot of junk on impulse.)  The kids had their choice of the same cereal mix I ate or Wegman's store brand version of Rice Chex and a piece of fruit (tangerine or banana).

My plan was to go to the gym since the weather here hasn't been too great for walking outside, but I decided to stop at Kmart first to pick up a new pair of exercise pants (mine are all too big on me since I have lost  50 pounds), and I picked up a bunch of hats on clearance for Cassie's charity project that she has been working on since she started (and finished) her Girl Scout Silver Award.  (She is collecting hand-made or store-bought hats to donate to the Lourdes Hospital Oncology Department, something she has continued doing even after she completed all her required hours to receive her award.)

While at Kmart, I happened to see my mom and decided to go to lunch with her, instead of to the gym (nice trade-off, huh?).  So, we headed over to Uno's.  They have a decent gluten-free menu that has worked out well for me, and Mom can't have gluten, either, making it a safe choice.  We had a very nice time chatting and eating together.  (The kids had peanut butter and banana quesadillas for lunch, along with some more fruit.)

After lunch, I didn't have any time left to go to the gym because I still had shopping to do before going home to make dinner for my family.  Besides, Uno's is located in the same plaza as our Super Wal Mart, so it just worked out better for me to stop there since I was already at that plaza.  I spent a good couple of hours in the store.  I was all over the place, getting stuff for my garden (time to start getting ready), getting ingredients for making my own non-toxic and cheaper cleaning products (a venture I am starting this week), window shopping, searching for a white leotard for Moriah's dance performance Easter Sunday (anybody know where to find a WHITE one?), and searching the grocery aisles for new gluten-free and/or organic and natural offerings.  I am also working on making my own recipe storage system (recipe cards and file box aren't working for me), so I had to buy some office supplies.  Today's awesome Wal Mart find was the Soy-Free Earth Balance for just over $3!  That is way cheaper than I have found it elsewhere, and it is the only margarine that we can have since it is soy free, dairy free, and gluten free.  I was very excited to find it there.  Another recent great Wal Mart find was the Peanut Butter & Co. White Chocolate Wonderful peanut butter for way cheaper than I have found it anywhere else.  I'll tell you, Wal Mart is really paying attention to what people want because they are offering more and more all-natural or organic food products as well as allergy-friendly food products.  I know that it is good to support local businesses, and I try to do that when I can.  However, when finances are really tight, as ours usually are, sometimes we just have to get things where they are cheapest and just get the stuff at the local health food store that we can't find anywhere else.

By the time I was done at WM, I didn't have time to go to any of the other stores I had planned on going to.
I still didn't find the leotard I was looking for.  I am disappointed that all the department stores seem to have pink and/or black but no white.  I guess I will have to get one at a dance studio, where it will cost a lot more.

Dinner tonight was a big salad made with a mixture of iceberg and romaine lettuces with spinach, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, black olives, black beans, radishes, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, raisins, craisins, and Elijah's own salad dressing (a recipe that he is in the process of developing himself and won't tell his secrets to anyone, yet!).  I also made some of Averie's Vegan Slaw Dressing, which I had to tweak a little since I don't use Vegenaise (has soy protein).  (If you go to Averie's blog post, you'll see she has a lot of other stuff in her post besides the recipe.  Just scroll down the page until you come to it if you're not interested in everything else.  Her recipe is good.)  For dessert, I made a dairy-free chocolate pudding, the recipe to which I am still in the process of developing, though I am really close to being able to share it.

Before bed, the kids wanted a snack, so I made air-popped organic popcorn with Soy-Free Earth Balance, sea salt, and Red Star Nutritional Yeast to give it a cheesy flavor.

We all loved it.  The yeast really does taste like cheese, and it is very good for you.  You can't really see all the cheesy goodness in this photo, but it's there!

Overall, it was a pleasant day, even though I did not accomplish all I had set out to.

I didn't really make anything spectacularly special today, so no big new recipes to share from today's meals.  However, I will share my recipe for a great Citrus-Ade. 

We had some friends over for dinner the other night.  They all loved the Crock Pot Barbecued Beef, mashed potatoes, veggies, tossed salad, and Elana's Chocolate Chip Cookies that I made, but even with the great food, one of the most popular items of the evening was the Citrus-Ade that I made from scratch.  This is fast becoming my family's favorite refreshing drinks, besides water!  I do use a little sugar in this recipe, but if you can't have sugar you can certainly use more stevia or whatever sweetener you prefer.  Keep in mind that I have a large family, so this makes a whole gallon.  If you want to, you can cut it in half.  I don't know how long it will keep for because it never lasts more than a day or so around here, though there was some that I made a week ago that somehow got lost in the fridge and then found by Moriah, who drank it a week after being made.  She said it tasted great, and it's her favorite drink I make.

Lori's Citrus-Ade
juice from 4 juicing oranges
juice from 3 limes
juice from 2 lemons
1/2 c. evaporated cane juice*
3 dropperfuls lemon-flavored stevia (I used Now brand)
enough ice and water to make 1 gallon

Mix everything well in a large pitcher.  If you don't have ice and only use tap water to make this, make sure you chill it in the fridge for awhile.  It is good either way, but it is best cold (as most drinks are).  My kids tell me they like this drink even better the second day.  It could be because it is colder from being in the fridge, or maybe it has had time for all the flavors to really mix and mesh together.  I can tell we will be going through a lot of this in the summertime.  (I will include a picture of this next time I make it.  I just figured out how to upload pictures to my blog tonight, so I don't have any pictures of anything I've made prior to this point.)

*To make this recipe raw, you can add raw agave or extra stevia instead of the cane juice.  Many times I just use the stevia.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Sarah's GF Whole-Grain All-Purpose Flour Mix

This past week some of the kids and I went down to New Jersey to visit my sister, Sarah.  She and some of her kids have food allergies and intolerances, so it is nice to go down and share new recipes.  One recipe she shared with me was her flour mix.  We both feel that it is better to use whole grains than starches and have noticed that a lot of flour mixes use a huge amount of starch and white rice flour.  She has done a lot of experimenting with this flour mix, and it really is delicious.  There is still some starch, though it is much reduced in comparison to how many whole grain flours are in it. 

Sarah's GF Whole-Grain All-Purpose Flour Mix
4 c. brown rice flour
1 1/2 c. GF oat flour (I use GF teff flour--delicious)
3/4 c. GF oat bran (I use GF rice bran)
3/4 c. potato starch
3/4 c. tapioca starch
1/2 c. millet flour or sorghum flour
1/4 c. ground flaxseed

You can use this to substitute for regular flour in recipes.  Make sure that you add 1/2 t. xanthan gum per cup of this flour mix when substituting this flour in various recipes.  Because of the whole grain flours in this mix, you should store it in the refrigerator or freezer. 

I tried some of Sarah's buns that she makes with this flour mix, and they are very good.  I will share that recipe soon.  I also made pizza dough using this mix, and that was good, too.

DF Chocolate Coconut Banana Protein Shake

My son, Nathan, is very small and underweight for his age (in the 5th percentile).  This has raised some concern, and our doctor has suggested to increase the protein he is getting in his diet.  Since we already eat a ton of beans and whole grains, lentils, and various meats, I decided to get some Manitoba Harvest Hemp Pro 50 protein powder and start making him shakes.  I am also trying to increase the healthy fats in his diet as well as add more calories in general.  Since he cannot have dairy, gluten, or soy it was difficult for me to find a protein powder that he could have. Most of the hemp protein powders out there have large amounts of fiber, which he doesn't need at this time.  This shake recipe is a variation of the other one I have already shared. 

DF Chocolate Coconut Banana Protein Shake
1/2 can of Thai Kitchens Coconut Milk
enough water to fill the blender pitcher to 2 c.
5-6 pitted dates
2 Tbs. cocoa powder
4 Tbs. hemp protein powder
1-2 Tbs. coconut oil, if desired
1-2 frozen bananas
ice, if desired

Blend the coconut milk, water, dates, cocoa powder, and protein powder until the dates are completely pulverized and the oil doesn't have a grainy consistency anymore.  This can take up to 2 minutes in a regular blender.  Add the frozen bananas and process until blended in.  You can blend in some ice if you like your shake to be really cold and thick.  Sometimes we add the coconut oil, and sometimes we don't.  Coconut oil is actually really good for you, and the coconut milk and coconut oil add more healthy fat and calories to my son's diet.  This makes more than what he likes to drink in one sitting, so he will usually divide it in half and drink one half immediately and the other half later in the day.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Black Bean and Lentil Soup (Taco Soup)

My family loves this soup.  It tastes kind of like tacos.  You can add ground beef if you like, but it tastes great without it, too.  I serve this soup with tortilla chips that we like to break up and sprinkle on top of the soup in our bowls.  You could also serve it with corn bread and/or some shredded cheddar cheese and sliced jalapenos.

Black Bean and Lentil Soup
2 c. dry black beans
splash apple cider vinegar
6 c. cold water
1 Tbs. olive oil
6+c. additional water
2 bay leaves
1 c. dry French green lentils
5 cloves garlic, chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
2 jalapenos, chopped OR a can or 2 of chopped green chilies
6 carrots, sliced
1 (28 oz.) diced tomatoes in juice
2 c. GF vegetable broth (we like Wegmans brand)
1/4 c. + 2 Tbs. Mexican Seasoning
3 Tbs. raw Apple Cider Vinegar (plus a splash in the bean soaking water)
1/4 c. Frank's Red Hot
1 lb. frozen corn
juice of 1 lime (about 3-4 Tbs.)
additional water as needed (I added about 4 c.)
2 c. raw rice, cooked separately
     (will yield about 5 1/2 - 6 cups cooked rice)

Sort and rinse dry black beans.  Soak in 6 c. cold water with a splash of raw apple cider vinegar overnight.  When ready to make soup the next day, drain and rinse the soaked beans.  Cook them in enough fresh water to cover the beans 4" deep with the 2 bay leaves (in a large stock pot with a heavy bottom to help prevent sticking and burning--and add the olive oil to cut down on foaming and boil-overs).  After about 45 minutes, add lentils.  Also add garlic, onion, bell pepper, jalapenos, carrots, tomatoes and juice, vegetable broth, Mexican Seasoning, lime juice, vinegar, hot sauce, and frozen corn.  Add additional water as needed.  Cook the soup until vegetables and beans are tender.  Add the cooked rice at the end.  You don't need to add all the rice, it's up to your individual preference.  Some may decide to put the rice in each person's bowl and ladle the soup over it.  I sometimes like to do the latter since it seems like the rice soaks up a lot of the broth as it sits in the pot.  Remember to remove the bay leaves before eating, storing, and/or freezing the soup.  If freezing the soup, I recommend freezing the rice separately or making the rice fresh on the day you will be serving the soup.

Cook the rice according to package directions.  I usually use long grain brown rice.  If making 2 c. brown rice, I add 3 1/2 c. water and cook it in my rice cooker.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Crock Pot Barbecued Beef

     My son, Nathan, and I went for a check-up and blood work last week.  There is some concern that Nate does not have enough nutrients and is not growing enough.  He is always tired and sometimes needs to take naps during the day.  He has fallen to the 5th percentile for growth/size.  (He had stopped growing for awhile, but since going gluten-free this past July, he has grown about 3" although he has not gained any weight.)  He actually would have been lower than the 5th percentile if he hadn't recently started growing again.  The doctor feels that he may still have time to catch back up, but he needs a lot of protein in his diet. We do eat a lot of protein between all the nuts, beans and whole grains, seeds, chicken, and some grass-fed beef that we eat.  I even do most of my baking with blanched almond flour and coconut flour instead of all the starches traditionally used in gluten-free baking.  Our chiropractor told me that the best source of protein is beef, so I am making an effort to add some more beef into his diet to see if that helps.  So, tonight I made a delicious crock pot barbecued beef.  We had baked potatoes and green beans with it. 
     Incidentally, the nurse called last night with the test results.  She said that everything for both of us is normal except that we are both very low on vitamin D.  I guess that was to be expected since we don't drink fortified milk or eat fortified foods.  We also live in NY, so we don't get a lot of sun for at least half the year.  So, we are both adding a D3 supplement to our diet.  I did a little research and found some interesting information on D deficiency and celiac disease by doing a google search.  It's fairly common for people with gluten intolerance to have low levels of vitamin D.  I also found that symptoms of deficiency in adults can mimic fibromyalgia, which is also a common issue in people with gluten intolerance.  I highly recommend that if you have an issue with gluten and have not been checked for nutritional deficiencies that you have your doctor order some tests.  We will be getting rechecked in 3 months, so hopefully the supplements will help raise our levels.

Crock Pot Barbecued Beef
4 lbs. beef roast
1 3/4 c. ketchup
1/4 c. dijon mustard
1/4 c. pure maple syrup
2 Tbs. honey
1/4 c. + 2 Tbs. raw apple cider vinegar
2 Tbs. worcestershire sauce
1/4 c. Frank's Red Hot
1 t. salt
1/2 t. ground black pepper
1/2 t. onion powder
1/2 t. garlic powder

Trim the fat off the meat and put in the crock pot.  Whisk all the other ingredients together in a medium mixing bowl and pour over the meat in the crock pot.  Cover and cook on low 8-10 hours or high 4-5 hours until the meat is tender.  Take the meat out of the crock pot and shred it with 2 forks.  Add it back to the crock pot.  Note:  I check my meat about an hour before we expect to eat.  If it is not tender enough to shred yet, I will sometimes cut the roast into several smaller pieces to ensure that it will be done in time.

You can serve this on gluten free buns (recipe should be coming soon), or with rice or potatoes.  You might like to warm up some rice tortillas, add a little shredded cheddar while the tortilla is heating up in order to get the cheese melty, then add some beef and roll it up. 

This recipe makes just enough for 2 meals for my family of 6 and freezes well.  Enjoy!

Note:  I use gluten free/dairy free/soy free/high fructose corn syrup free ingredients when making this.  I made a slight exception tonight since I have had a hard time finding Worcestershire Sauce that fits all these criteria.  I used the regular Lea and Perrins Worcestershire Sauce that I found at Wegmans.  It was GF, DF, SF but had high fructose corn syrup.  I have found a recipe online to make my own sauce, but I haven't had a chance to try it, yet.  Use whatever you need to.  I also get my grass-fed beef from a local farmer friend.

3/28/10 Edit--We had this last night with some friends, and one of them felt that it would be even better with some Louisiana Hot Sauce, but he likes things very hot and spicy. The Frank's Red Hot in this recipe is more for flavor than spice. If you like hot, spicy foods, you might like to add some hot sauce to this. Also, if you find that the juices from your meat make this sauce a little too runny, you could take a little cornstarch or arrowroot, mix it with a small amount of water to make a slurry, and add it to your sauce/juices when you take your meat out to shred it up. As you are shredding your meat, put the lid on the crock pot, and allow the sauce to simmer and thicken. It really is your choice. My husband assures me this is the best barbecue beef he has had, and he thinks it's perfect just as it is.