TBT-Lost in Translation, the foreign language of food allergens


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I originally wrote this post in June of 2015.  Since then, I have pretty much licked all of these issues.  Gluten and dairy free products were all a foreign language to me.  But now I speak fluent gluten and dairy free.  

I love to cook.  When I started this journey of being gluten and dairy free, I had no idea that I would face not only the thrill of victory, but also the agony of defeat.  Novice that I was, I naively thought, oh, how hard can it be to cook gluten and dairy free dishes?  I will just substitute gluten free flour and non-dairy milk.  Well, as they say, you can’t always get what you want.

There is a lot of trial and error; and a lot of wasted time and money.  There are several things I have tried more the once before throwing in the towel.  I try to give things a fair shake before I give up.  And being a Capricorn, I am very stubborn and tenacious.  But sometimes you just have to face facts and move on.

These are some of the things that I believe just don’t translate well:

Pancakes 

Hubby loves pancakes.   I could take or leave them but every once in awhile I get a craving.  My first attempt tasted like a cross between wallpaper paste and paint.  It would have been good if we wanted to redecorate.  I noticed that the batter was very thick.  I tried these with both rice flour and gluten free Bisquick.  After the second attempt was an utter failure I just gave up.   Oh well, there is always Denny’s.  At least for him.

I have since discovered the perfect gluten free pancake recipe, thanks to King Arthur Measure for Measure flour. 

French toast 

I may not love pancakes but I do love French toast.  I tried this a couple of times and it just disintegrated.  Gluten fee bread just doesn’t hold up.

I can make french toast; the key is to not soak the bread for too long.  I don’t make it often, but it can be done!

Grilled cheese 

Another favorite and something I really miss.  Dairy free cheese is just not the same.  And toasting the bread ahead of time just defeats the whole purpose.

I do make grilled cheese.  The biggest problem that I have is that the cheese does not melt.  

Cheesecake 

I think this was just my most epic fail.  Dairy free cream cheese in a word-yuck!   I dont want to talk about it.

I found an excellent no-bake dairy free cheesecake recipe.

Gluten free soups

I was so excited when Progresso came out with gluten free soups.  But when I went dairy free they had to be crossed off my list.  They all contain dairy.  At least the ones my local stores carry.   And since they are not separated from the regular soup, I don’t have an hour to stand there and read labels.

I still avoid canned gluten-free soups.  You can make gluten-free cream soups really easily on your own.  And chicken noodle soup with gluten free pasta is easy to make too.  

Pasta

Now don’t get me wrong, some of the gluten-free pastas are good.  But the texture leaves something to be desired.  And forget pasta salad.

Both Ronzoni and Barilla make really good gluten free kinds of pasta, but I still can’t make pasta salad.  

These are just a few of my experiences with gluten and dairy free disasters. If there is one lesson to be learned it is that you have to be able to let go and move on.   That is the hardest thing of all, not only in dealing with food intolerance but also in life.

My two year gluten free journey


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I cannot believe that I have been writing this blog for two years.  How time flies.  It seems just yesterday that I began this gluten free, dairy free journey.   I have learned a lot about not only living a gluten free lifestyle but also a lot about blogging.  I would like to share my insights with all of you.

ON BLOGGING:

  • Find your own writing style.  You will grow into it as time goes on.  Don’t try to emulate anyone else.  Your true self will shine through in time.
  • It takes time to grow your audience.  Wordpress has a wonderful community of bloggers who will support your efforts.
  • Once you have established your blog, you can grow your audience with Adwords.  I believe it is worth the small investment it takes to reach a wider, worldwide audience.
  • Don’t clog your blog up with ads.  Most people find them annoying.  If I land on a blog that has a lot of flash ads, I tend to leave that site.
  • On that same note, don’t expect to get rich.  Blog because you love it, and want to get your message out there.
  • You can blog about anything you wish.  You can make it public or private.  You don’t need experience, and you can have a free blog.  Don’t let anything stop you from expressing yourself.
  • Take some free WordPress classes.  There are numerous topics, and taking them will help you to learn about how WordPress works, and how you can get more comfortable using it.
  • If you are thinking of moving your blog to wordpress.org, do your homework. Most widgets cost extra.  You might lose subscribers.  You have to do your own website maintenance.  These are just some of the pitfalls.  But you will also maintain complete control of your content and will be able to grow.  It’s an individual decision.
  • I do believe WordPress premium is worth the $99 per year cost, if for no other reason than to be able to chat with experts when you have a problem or question.

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Some eggcellent facts about eggs


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Eggs are the perfect food.  They are full of protein, vitamins and minerals.  They are easy to make in a thousand different ways.  But eggs get a bad rap.  I am here to set you straight on some egg myths, courtesy of Eat this, not that!

I want to say here that if you can find a local farm that pasture raises their chickens, seek it out and get your eggs from them exclusively.  I realize this is not always an option.  But I can tell you from experience, once you taste the difference, you will never go back. Pasture raised eggs are lower in cholesterol saturated fat and contain higher levels of vitamin A, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin E, beta-carotene, and vitamins B9, C, and D.

Cage-free eggs may not be from cage-free hens

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Many consumers assume the “cage-free” label on egg cartons means the chickens laying these eggs have the ability to roam around a field. Unfortunately, that’s far from the truth. “Cage Free” only means hens are required to have a minimum of 120 square inches per bird, which is not even double the area of conventional battery cages. Hens often still exclusively live indoors, either in large barns known as aviaries or crammed into bigger “enriched” cages that allow for some natural habits.  

“Free-range” hens also often never step outside.  They are often provided a “small door” with limited access to the outside, and that door is often not large enough to accommodate a large flock.

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Take my advice…or don’t


 

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I often get emails from people all over the world asking for my advice.  This is one of the great things about writing a blog about gluten free living.  I feel confident that I have been gluten and dairy free long enough to help others overcome their struggle.  But there is one aspect of this give and take that puzzles me.

People often tell me they have signs of celiac disease.  Yet when I tell them is they need to get tested, they brush me off.  Celiac disease is an immune disease.  It’s not just gluten intolerance.  It can destroy your intestines if not treated.   I tell people not to do an elimination diet before getting tested, or it will skew the results.  Yet I go ignored.

I have been at this for a long time.  I do my research and my due diligence.  When I try to advise people to do the same, they want a quick fix.  Just give me the recipes.  Just tell me what to eat and what not to eat.  It just boggles my mind.

There is a local group that goes to “gluten-free” restaurants in Nashville.  I thought about joining them.  Wouldn’t it be great to go out to dinner with people in a similar situation? Then I thought about it.  How careful are they really?  Are they taking the restaurant’s word for it?  Do they know enough how to read menus and what to look for?  I highly doubt it.  Knowing it would just frustrate me, I gave up on the idea.

I was once a member of a couple of Facebook groups on being gluten free.  One lady kept posting that she was having shortness of breath and chest pain.  Everyone put their two cents in, saying that she had “gluten intolerance” or “gluten allergies”.  I said she might be having a heart attack.  Turns out I was right.  Luckily she survived.  People can’t see the forest for the trees.  I no longer belong to any of those groups.

Everyone is an expert.  Everyone thinks they know better.  But they often don’t.  And it can end badly.

Don’t get me wrong; I am happy to help in any way I can.  But why ask me if you are just going to do what you want anyway?

I have some tips for those who have gluten intolerance symptoms and need help:

  • Consider your source
  • Do your homework
  • learn how to read labels
  • Don’t rely on just one opinion
  • Work with a nutritionist or your doctor
  • get tested for celiac disease
  • No one is right all of the time
  • You don’t know better than the person you are asking for advice

I will continue to help those who ask me.  But I hope that they will go beyond asking for recipes and perhaps take the advice that is given to them into consideration.  It comes from the heart.

Review of Enjoy life Plentils and two other new products


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One of the best things about writing a blog about gluten and dairy free living is the opportunity to try new products, and to share my reviews with all of you.  This past week, I ordered a few new items to try from Amazon.

I want to start by reviewing Enjoy life Plentils.  I am a big fan of Enjoy life foods; especially their chocolate chips.  A few months back, I reviewed another similar type of snack food, Beanfields, which are made of beans. You can see my review of those here.

Plentils are made from lentils.  They are crunchy, savory and slightly salty.  I ordered the Margherita pizza flavor from Amazon, as they are not available in my area.

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I can’t say they really remind me of pizza, per se.  The first thing you get when you open the bag is a strong whiff of parmesan; not that that’s a bad thing!.  There is no dairy in these.  I’m not sure how they pull that off, but I am really impressed.  They do not taste like lentils at all.  In fact, they really remind me of pork rinds.  They are delicious!

Several months ago, I did a review on NOwhey mini chocolate peanut butter cups.  I was not impressed with them.  They had no discernable peanut butter taste.  I thought that maybe because they were so small, that the lack of filling precluded me from giving them a fair review.  So I ordered the regular size cups.

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Forget about “losing your cravings for Reese’s”.  They don’t even come close.  The filling is lacking any sort of flavor.  They use sunflower seed butter, but don’t add anything resembling the filling of a Reese’s peanut butter cup.   The chocolate is okay, but nothing to write home about.

I do want to say that I give them kudos for providing allergen-free Easter chocolates.  I have not tried them, but kids and parents will be thanking them when the Easter Bunny visits.

My last review is of Udi’s Rye bread.  I have been trying to find this bread for months; I had to order it from the glutenfree shop.   It’s really hard to find.  I miss rye bread, and this comes pretty close, caraway seeds and all.

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Udi’s is a pretty reliable brand.  The only issue I have is with the big holes in their bread, which they can’t seem to fix.  But it is one of the few brands that doesn’t have honey,  agave or inulin, all of which I have to avoid.

So there you have it;  three new products for you to try.  Please share your reviews!

Delicious crock pot Spring leg of lamb


 

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Picture courtesy of All recipes

 

 

Spring is in the air, and with it, lamb.  We have a local farm that produces the best lamb I have eaten since my trip to Ireland.

The crockpot is my favorite cooking method for large cuts of meat. You can be assured that it is cooked through, and won’t be overcooked.

This recipe is easy and results in tender, fall off the bone lamb.

Ingredients:

1 2-3 lb leg of lamb, bone in
1 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup red wine
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoon honey or maple syrup
2 tablespoons dijon mustard
1-3 cloves garlic, to taste
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon dried rosemary
1 tablespoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon salt or to taste
1/2 teaspoon pepper or to taste
1 tablespoon Mrs. Dash original (or your favorite seasoning)

Directions:

Combine broth and wine and pour into a lined crock pot. Place lamb in the crockpot. Mix together remaining ingredients and pour over lamb. Cook 30 minutes on high. Reduce to low and cook and additional five hours, turning lamb every 2 hours for even cooking (if possible), until meat is falling off the bone and is fork tender.

Slice lamb and make gravy with the cooking liquid using white rice flour.

Serve with noodles or potatoes.

This makes an easy weeknight dinner. I did not have rosemary, so I left it out. You can use any herbs or spices that you like. I did not add additional salt; the chicken broth is plenty salty. The cooking juices made a delicious gravy.

Please share your thoughts and outcome when trying this recipe.

Carrot cake mishap


 

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Looks great, probably has glass in it

I’ve been wanting to make a gluten free carrot cake for some time.  I just never got around to it until today.  So with my trusty King Arthur recipe,  I got out all of my ingredients, and spread them out over my incredibly small kitchen counter.

I had already measured out and mixed all of the dry ingredients and moved the bowl over to the counter on the other side of my stove.  I had my old pyrex glass measuring cup at the front of the counter, and was just about to measure the grapeseed oil when the oil bottle tipped over, slid into my mixing bowl, and pushed my pyrex cup right onto the floor. The oil bottle broke my mixing bowl as well.

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It shattered into about a million pieces.  Luckily my husband was there to help with the cleanup.  There was glass everywhere. It had skittered into my living room and under my utility room and pantry door.  Big shards and glass dust.  It took a good half hour with a broom, dustpan, and vacuum to get it up. Luckily, I did not get cut, and my cats were not in the vicinity.  But what about my carrot cake?

I decided to go ahead with the recipe, thinking that I might be ok.  Then my husband found some shards of glass in the sink, right next to where my shredded carrots were. And since the glass had literally flown into the air, and had vaporized,  I realized that it just wouldn’t be safe to eat this cake, so I baked it and tossed it in the trash.

You do not want to eat glass dust.  It might be microscopic enough to not be seen, but it will rip up your insides.

It was just not meant to be.  I will probably bake another one next week.  I wanted to do a video on how to make cream cheese frosting, but that will have to wait.

Oh well, better safe than sorry. I will be shopping for a new measuring cup, and a new bowl as well.