Thursday, July 28, 2011

An Easy Snack

My Mom gave me the idea for this snack and I really like it right when I finish a workout. Its filling, replenishes you with energy, and takes almost no time to throw together. I find the taste of just plain rice cakes to be incredibly boring and dry. While they are low in calories, I would never eat one for the joy of it. The banana and peanut butter add a lot of great flavor. You could also try and drizzle a cake with honey or add some almond butter.

GF lightly salted rice cakes (Quaker now makes GF large rice cakes-check label)
1 tbsp peanut butter
1/2 banana

Spread peanut butter on rice cake and arrange banana on top. Enjoy with a glass of milk! Easy, right?

I usually eat 1/2 the banana for breakfast in my yogurt and save the other half for my snack :)

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Penne with Vodka Sauce

I use to work at an Italian restaurant called La Dolce Vita in Frankfort Illinois. They have the best Italian food I've ever had. If you think Olive Garden has good food, then you are seriously missing out. Unfortunately, I can't eat there anymore. My favorite recipe was cavatelli betolla. It was this bean-shaped noodle in a vodka, cream, and tomato sauce. I've tried several different vodka sauces from different restaurants but they don't even compare to how good this one is. I tried to replicate it and had a little luck. I can never find the noodle that they use which I believe adds to the dish so I had to settle on penne. This is a dish I would only make very occasionally and eat in moderation because it's definitely not too good for you.. but everyone has to treat themselves once in a while!

Serves: 4

1 tbsp butter
1/4 cup scallions, chopped
1/4 tsp rice flour
5 ounces GF tomato sauce (I used organic ragu)
1/4 cup vodka
3 tbsp heavy cream
3 tbsp grated Romano cheese
pepper, to taste
1 cup frozen spinach
2 cups GF penne

Prepare spinach according to package directions. I boiled mine in water for 3 minutes. Drain, set aside.

Cook penne according to directions.

In a sauce pan, melt butter over high heat and saute scallions until soft.  Stir in rice flour and vodka and let flame for 30 seconds. Add cream, tomato sauce, and cheese. Bring to boil then add spinach and simmer for another minute. Stir in pasta and sprinkle with cheese to serve.

Note: I made this dish just for me and saved the rest of the pasta for left overs. I've found that gluten-free pasta doesn't hold its form well once it's cooled off and stored over night. If you are only cooking for 1-2 people, I would recommend only making enough pasta for that night and reserving the sauce in a container. Leftovers would taste much better with freshly cooked GF pasta.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

It's almost like pasta..

The best thing that has happened to me since finding out I am celiac is learning about spaghetti squash. Italian food is probably the best thing that's ever happened to the world.. You could imagine my disappointment when I found out I couldn't eat regular pasta ever again.

Although they do make gluten free pastas, I don't think they taste that great. Also, now that I'm eating healthier than I ever have been, I almost feel bad about eating a ton of carbs. Celiac has made me change my entire lifestyle and way of eating to the point where I don't even want to eat unhealthy food. On occasion, I want some chocolate.. but loading up on carbs doesn't appeal to me anymore.

Spaghetti squash is an awesome alternative. It has a mild flavor and tastes great with any kind of Italian-style sauce.  I threw together this recipe last night and let me tell you, it's pretty freakin amazing. I didn't feel bad about eating a big serving either because it was just vegetables. Try it out, if you don't like it then we can't be friends. ;)

1 spaghetti squash
2 cups frozen spinach
1/2 yellow onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 tbsp olive oil
Sea salt, to taste
1/4 cup fresh parmesan
1/2 cup grated mozerella

Cook the spaghetti squash. The easiest way to do this would be to boil it in a large sauce pan for about 20 minutes. You have to make sure the water completely covers the squash. I don't have a large enough pot so this was not an option for me. Instead, I just cut the squash in half and removed the seeds. (This is very difficult. It's like cutting concrete and takes a lot of muscle, but I'm impatient so I suffered through it.) Then put it in the microwave for 12 minutes. Another method would be to bake it whole in the oven at 375 degrees for an hour.

Once the squash is cooked, remove seeds and  then take a fork and run it lengthwise down squash to remove strands from squash. It will look like spaghetti!

While squash is cooking, prepare the spinach according to package directions. (I boiled mine in water for 3 minutes)

Heat olive oil in skillet on medium heat. Add onion and garlic and saute until onions are soft. About 5 minutes. Drain spinach and add to skillet. Add salt and saute everything for another minute.

Combine squash, Parmesan, and spinach mixture in a baking dish. Sprinkle mozzarella on top and broil on high heat until cheese is melted.

This dish tastes great as it is but you can add a little bit of marinara sauce for an extra kick.

Roots- A Dining Experience

I've been to this restaurant before and after I found out I have celiac. Roots originally only served vegetarian food, but they just added salmon, shrimp, and seasonal fish to their menu. I really like this place. The atmosphere is wonderful, almost easy-going. It's a lot different than most restaurants. The service is kind of slow but not too awful. The ingredients are really fresh and you can tell that they spend time preparing the food.

The first time I went here my friend and I ordered spring rolls and pad thai noodles. Both were absolutely excellent. I've heard that their thai menu is a lot better than everything else listed, especially their Italian dishes, but I haven't tried for myself so don't take my word..

I went there about a month ago and asked if they had a gluten free menu. They brought me out this binder that listed all the food allergies and there were 4 dishes that I could choose from. (Let me remind you that this menu is absolutely huge) Not to be discouraged, I found this vegetable curry dish that looked interesting. I tried it and loved it.

My friend and I went back there a few days ago. I was looking forward to getting the curry dish again only to find out that the restaurant got new chefs and could no longer make that dish gluten free. I was not a happy camper. So I no only had 3 dishes to choose from. Garden wraps, the tofu plate, and fried tofu. I'm not a fan of tofu so I settled on the garden wraps. All the ingredients were incredibly fresh and the dipping sauce was to die for. I couldn't quite tell what it was made of. Maybe an orange marmalade? All the veggies were wrapped in rice paper to keep it all together. Although I couldn't get my curried vegetables, this dish was still delicious. Not to mention I felt a lot healthier after eating it.

To start, I ordered a Blue Moon smoothie. I had to ask them to make it gluten free. I believe they substituted soy milk with regular milk but it still tasted great. It was made with mango, banana, and blueberries. I hate super sweet drinks but this one was very mild in flavor. It was perfect for 100+ degree weather.

As we were waiting for our food, we noticed a couple that had a really weird looking drink at their table. I asked our waitress what they were drinking and she said it was coconut milk from a coconut! I've never tired coconut milk before so we decided to split one.

The milk was so refreshing. It was mild in flavor and was the same consistency as water but it tasted really good. Definitely not what I was expecting but I'll probably get this every time I go there now.

When you finish the milk, they take crack the coconut in half for your so you can eat the "meat." Not gonna lie, it was pretty gross. It didn't taste bad but the texture was really slimy and it had a purplish tint to it.. It just didn't look appetizing.

Here's a pic of my dish..
The white covering is rice paper to hold everything together. You couldn't even taste it.
Overall, it was a good dining out experience. Although my choices were extremely limited, I was still able to find something that I liked. If you are ever in the Bloomington area, I would definitely recommend this restaurant. If you don't have a gluten intolerance, try the spring rolls and pad thai noodles. Both are heavenly.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Double Choclate Brownie Dough Blizzard!!

Anything with the word "dough" in it is usually off limits to me unless I make it in a gluten free way. If you've ever had a brownie dough blizzard from Dairy Queen, this recipe is a spin off that. I found it on a vegan blog. It looked great but when I read the ingredients list I definitely questioned how good it would actually be.. I'm not gonna lie, I was very doubtful. (You'll see once you read the list) But hey, I can't eat brownie dough ever again so I had to at least give it a try. I was pleasantly surprised. It wasn't exactly like a brownie.. but it sure was good. My roommate and I loved this recipe. It forced me to spend a little extra time at the gym today but was totally worth it. But on the other hand... I'm going to take a wild guess and say that this recipe, which uses nuts and dates, is a heck of a lot healthier than one that uses butter and flour.. at least that's what I like to think ;)

Ingredients for brownie dough ball:
1/2 cup raw cashews
12 Medjool dates (1 cup packed & pitted)
2 tbsp cocoa powder
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 tbsp pure maple syrup
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup chocolate chips
1/4 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
1/4 cup chopped walnuts

Add all ingredients to food processor and pulse until a dough forms. (We didn't have a food processor on hand and this step worked just fine in a blender) Form into balls and store in fridge.

For the Icecream:
1 gallon of vanilla icecream
peanut butter and cocoa powder to taste

Put desired amount of icecream, cocoa powder, and peanut butter in blender and blend until combined.

Pour icecream in a bowl and serve with brownie dough balls. SO good. Hope you like it as much as we did :)

Note: Just like every recipe, I encourage you to read the labels on every ingredient listed if you are following a gluten free diet. Gluten can easily be hidden in a lot of these ingredients so you might have to spend extra time looking for the right brand.

Curried Chickpeas with Tomato & Bok Choy

I saw a recipe in one of my cook books that incorporated bok choy and chickpeas, 2 ingredients I've never cooked with, so I decided to try something new. I had a lot of trouble finding the ingredients the recipe called for so I kind just made up my own recipe. It turned out to be pretty good. If your in to trying new and different things, give this recipe a go. It's definitely not something traditional that you would see very often, but it was a good change. Light yet filling, flavorful but not overpowering. 

1 can of cooked chickpeas
4 bok choy stems, cleaned, leaves separated and cut into pieces
1 small yellow onion, diced fine
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 tsp fresh minced ginger
handful grape tomatoes, cut in half
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp curry powder
large pinch red pepper flakes
1 tbsp olive oil
sea salt to taste

Drain the chickpeas and set aside. Saute the onions, garlic and ginger lightly in olive oil until softened. Add the dry spices and salt and saute for a couple of minutes. Add the chick peas and saute covered on low for a few minutes to let the beans pick up the flavor.

Increase heat to medium high, add the bok choy cook covered until the stems are soft. Once soft, add the cherry tomatoes and serve.

Note: If you can't find bok choy, fresh spinach would also work well in this recipe.

My Very First Meatloaf

Growing up, my family use to eat meat loaf pretty regularly. When I saw regularly, I really mean like maybe once every month or so. To me, that was way too often. I was never a fan of meatloaf. Actually.. that's a lie. I hated meatloaf with a passion. I am still questioning myself as to why I decided to try meatloaf again.. Has my pallet changed? Am I growing up? I don't have the answer. All I know is that for some reason I was craving red meat and decided to make this recipe that I found in a gluten free cook book. I know my Mom will be extremely surprised to see that I made this. So Mom, next time I'm home, I give you permission to make meatloaf. =)

It tastes like heaven. The fresh herbs add so much flavor. Everyone should try it. Seriously.

1/2 teaspoon canola oil to grease dish
2 1/2 lbs ground beef
1 medium yellow onion, diced finely
3 large eggs
1/2 cup GF breadcrumbs
3 tablespoons minced garlic
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh oregano
1 tablespoon finely chopped Italian parsley
1 tablespoon chiffonade fresh basil
4 dashes GF Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
sea salt and black pepper to taste
2 cups low sodium chicken stock
2 cups ketchup
5 cloves garlic, smashed and peeled
1 sprig fresh rosemary

Preheat oven to 425 degrees and grease a 9x11-inch loaf pan.

In a large mixing bowl, combine ground beef, onion, eggs, breadcrumbs, garlic, oregano, parsley, basil, Worcestershire sauce, and mustard. Season with salt an pepper. Stir everything together. (your hands work best) If you want to be sure everything is seasoned just right, take a small patty and cook it like a little hamburger. I was impatient and skipped this part in hopes that my loaf would taste great, and it did.

Put the meat in the pan and cover with aluminum foil and bake for 45 minutes.

As the meatloaf cooks, combine stock, ketchup, garlic, and rosemary in a large saucepan. Bring to boil then reduce the heat and simmer for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Strain the glaze. (the finished product should be the consistency of molasses)

Remove the foil from the meatloaf after 45 minutes and spread the glaze over the meat using a pastry brush. Brush the top every 15 minutes or so until it is done. (this should take another 45 minutes)

Once cooked through, allow the meat to rest for at least 10 minutes. Cut yourself a piece and use the extra sauce for dipping. Leftovers make great sandwiches!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Chicken Fajitas

This past weekend, my friend and I decided to cook for all our guy friends. I found a recipe for chicken fajitas and they were probably the best I've ever had. I'm definitely sticking to this recipe from now on. Fajitas are great for entertaining because they are easy to make and can feed a lot of people. This particular marinade gives a ton of flavor to the chicken. Marinate over night and it would taste even better!

2 tablespoon gluten free Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoon cider vinegar
2 tablespoon gluten free soy sauce
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon of chilli flakes
2 cloves garlic, minced
a large dash hot pepper sauce (make sure it's GF)
1 1/2 pounds chicken breasts, cut into strips
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, thinly sliced
1 green bell pepper, sliced
1 red bell pepper, sliced
1 lemon, juiced

For the toppings,
warmed tortillas*, sour cream, GF salsa, and shredded lettuce

*If you can't have gluten, buy a pack of corn tortillas. If you have gluten eaters, you should also buy flour tortillas. The chances that someone would want a corn tortilla over a flour one is unlikely. I personally do not like the flavor or texture of corn tortillas so I just make a salad out of all the ingredients for myself.

In a medium bowl, combine Worcestershire sauce, vinegar, soy sauce, chili powder, chili flakes, garlic, and hot pepper sauce. Place chicken in sauce, and turn once to coat. Marinate for 30 minutes at room temperature, or cover and refrigerate for several hours or overnight.

Heat olive oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken to pan and saute for about 5 minutes. Make sure you don't over crowd the skillet otherwise the chicken will steam instead of brown.

Meanwhile, heat a wok on medium heat and add all the veggies. Once the chicken is done, take remaining juices left from skillet and poor over the vegetables. Cook until soft.

Squeeze the juice of one lemon over chicken and toss. Serve with cheese, salsa, sour cream, and lettuce.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Chicken and Balsamic Peppers

I didn't start cooking with peppers until I got my own apartment in college. My roommate and I have come up with so many different ways to cook them. We put them in salads, pasta, and stir frys. They are so versatile. When I saw this recipe on a gluten free website, it was a no brainer to try. It was super simple and pretty tasty. I wasn't a huge fan of the chicken. I didn't think it had to much flavor, unlike the peppers. Next time I will probably just make this as a side dish or throw the peppers on some pasta.

4 large ripe bell peppers: red, green, orange, yellow; cored and sliced thin
1 large sweet onion, sliced thin
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons gluten-free worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup chicken broth
6 fresh cloves of garlic, chopped
1 tablespoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1/2 teaspoon rosemary
4 fresh split chicken breasts
Sea salt and ground pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Toss the pepper and onion slices in a large bowl. Fork-stir the sauce using: balsamic vinegar, worcestershire, olive oil, broth, chopped garlic, and herbs. Pour the sauce over the sliced peppers and onions and toss well to coat.

Place the split chicken breasts in the bottom of a baking pan sprayed with olive oil. Season with sea salt and pepper, to taste. Pour the balsamic pepper mixture over the chicken and arrange them evenly.

Loosely cover the pan with a piece of foil and place in the center of a pre-heated oven. Bake for 45 minutes to an an hour or so (the time depends on how thick the chicken is. when it's done, the chicken should no longer be pink and the peppers should be soft)

Serve with quinoa or a side of brown rice pasta coated in garlic salt and fresh parmesan.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

A Great Surprise!

This past weekend my cousin got married. It was an absolutely beautiful wedding and such a great time! They had their rehearsal dinner catered and unfortunately the chefs were not able to cook a gluten free meal for me so I just packed my own.

One of my cousins surprised me with a gluten free cake. I love her. She is an angel. Here's what it looked like..

It was a gluten free Betty Crocker cake mix with vanilla cake and chocolate icing. I was pleasantly surprised at how good it tasted. Actually, it barely tasted any different than a regular cake mix. You can bet I will be baking this cake again.

Thanks Chelsea, love you!

Pizza Fail

I was home for just one night this past weekend and my parents wanted pizza. I had tried gluten free pizza at a place called Aurelios. The first time I got it it was way too salty and the second time I got it the crust was burnt. So this time, we ordered from Lou Malnati's. On the menu, is says the offer a "crustless" deep dish pizza for those who are gluten free. So I tried it. I ordered it with green peppers, onions, spinach, and tomato.

Two words: Epic fail.

First of all, this was not a deep dish pizza by any means. Second of all, it cost $17 for a small. Third of all, the crust was made out of sausage!!!!! After trying one peice I already felt disgusting. I know pizza isn't considered healthy.. but a crust made out of sausage?! It was just plain gross. I like sausage, but not that much. I guess if you are a huge sausage lover then you might like something like this.. To me, it didn't even taste like a pizza. Disappointing..

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Italian "Sandwich"

I've tried several different kinds of gluten free bread and just do not like it. I love sandwiches but if the bread tastes bad, then there's no way I'm going to eat one. My mom gave me the idea to make a lettuce wrap instead. I took random ingredients I had on hand and it turned out to be really good. Even if you're not allergic to gluten, this is a carb free dish which makes it a healthier alternative to a real sandwich :)

Hearts of romaine lettuce
4 slices fresh mozzarella
drizzle of balsamic vinegar
handful of cherry tomatoes cut in half
4 slices of salami (make sure it's gluten free- I found some at Trader Joe's)

Lay out a piece of lettuce. Put two slices of mozzarella on top and drizzle with vinegar. (The mozzarella will soak it up) Stack 2 slices of salami and a few cherry tomatoes and place other piece of lettuce on top to make it a sandwich. (makes 2 lettuce wraps)

Note: Next time I make this, I'll probably use a head of lettuce instead. That way, you can roll all the ingredients up like a taco which would make it easier to eat.

Corn Chowder with Chicken

I found this recipe on a blog called Gluten-Free Goddess and just had to try it. (I didn't follow it exactly) I'm leaving for the weekend for my wonderful cousins wedding (can't wait!) and I have to pack some food since I'll be gone until Monday. This soup is perfect to travel with and absolutely delicous! Its creamy with a little kick of spice. Next time I make it, I will probably add some fresh green peppers and more spices to make it a little spicier.

2 chicken breasts

2 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
3 ears of corn
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon curry 
1/2 teaspon chili powder
5 cloves fresh garlic, chopped
1 medium sweet onion, diced
1 large sweet potato, peeled, diced
1 14-oz can Muir Glen Organic Fire Roasted Diced Tomatoes
2 seeded, chopped fresh heirloom tomatoes
4 oz. chopped roasted green chiles
1 quart light vegetable broth
1 14-oz can unsweetened coconut milk
Sea salt and ground pepper, to taste
A quick drizzle of organic raw agave, to taste

To serve:
Fresh lime juice from 2 juicy limes

Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in skillet over medium heat. Pound chicken breasts, sprinkle with salt and pepper on both sides and saute in skillet until cooked. Remove from heat.

Remove corn from cob. Heat skillet over medium heat and add butter. Saute corn until cooked.

Heat the rest of the olive oil in a large soup pot over medium heat and stir in the cumin and curry and chili powder; cook for one minute to infuse the oil with spice.

Add the chopped garlic and onion. Stir and cook for five minutes. Add the corn, sweet potato, canned fire roasted tomatoes, fresh tomatoes, green chiles; stir for a minute. Add in the broth.

Cover and bring to a high simmer. Lower the heat and simmer gently, until the sweet potatoes are tender, about twenty minutes or so.
While broth simmers, shred the chicken breasts.

Add the coconut milk and cooked chicken pieces. Stir and season with sea salt and ground pepper; and add a drizzle of organic raw agave to taste. Heat through gently but don't boil.

Before serving, add cilantro and lime juice. Adjust seasoning as needed. (The lime juice brightens the taste and accents the spices and the agave cools the hotness)

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

A Gluten Free BBQ Sauce

We had bbq ribs for dinner one night while I was home but I couldn't have the sauce we usually make them with because it contained gluten. My dad was kind enough to look around a bunch of stores to see if he could find one without gluten, but no such luck. Not eating ribs wasn't an option so I made my own! I got the recipe offline. It's just as good as the bbq sauce I use to have except it's home made and takes no time at all to throw together. Use this sauce for ribs, chicken, pulled pork, or burgers.

1/2 cup ketchup
1/2 cup tomato sauce
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup pineapple juice
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup gluten-free Worcestershire sauce (Lea and Perrins made in U.S. is GF)
1/4 cup water
1 medium chopped onion
1/4 teaspoon celery powder

Combine the ingrediants in a medium sauce pan and bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about 10 minutes to let sauce thicken. Use immediately or let it cool and store in the refrigerator.

Home Made Chips

I had a bunch of left over tortillas from the lime chicken recipe, so I decided to make chips. They were super easy to make and quite tasty. My family and friends really enjoyed them. Serve them with a fresh salsa and you have the perfect summer snack!

5 corn tortillas
2 cups grated cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Stack tortillas on top of one another and slice into four sections (like you would a pizza) Lay out each chip on a cookie sheet. Make sure none of them are overlapping or touching because they won't cook right. Sprinkle tortillas with salt and place a small amount of cheddar cheese over each chip. Put in over for 8-12 minutes or until chips are crispy. (If you keep them in longer that 8 minutes, make sure you check them every minute or so to prevent burning)

Lime Chicken Tacos

I went back to my home in Chicago for 4th of July weekend and it was perfect! Beautiful weather, friends, family, my dog.. nothing better. After a hot day by the pool, I made this dish for my family. It was easy to make and delicious!
Sorry for the poor picture quality..

4 split chicken breasts
4 cloves of fresh garlic, chopped
1/4 cup fresh squeezed lime juice
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons agave
A large pinch of cumin
Fresh ground pepper

For the toppings:
10 corn tortillas
2 limes cut into wedges
1 avocado
2 cups shredded lettuce
1 cup cherry tomatoes
1 cup cheddar cheese

Combine garlic, lime juice, olive oil, agave, cumin, and pepper in a bowl and whisk together. Pour over and under chicken and marinate for at least 1 hour. (over night would be better)

Preheat grill on medium high heat and grill chicken until done.

Assemble the toppings.

Place chicken on cutting board and slice thin.

Have everyone assemble their own tacos and dig in!