Archive for the ‘Gluten Free Cooking’ Category

Today was day 22 of the 21 Day Sugar Detox Diet. At Kroger today my husband was gleefully picking up his beloved popcorn – not on the diet – and lots of breads and fruits while I just stood there thinking what I thought on my last significant birthday – ‘how in the heck did I get here?’ I was momentarily confused while I tried to assess what I can or should eat. Gluten free? Sugar free? Organic? Meat? Fruit? Ah, it’s a bit of a mess.

I mostly stuck to the 21DSD diet, breaking it 3 or 4 times – okay it was 4 – to have a diet coke but I limited it to caffeine-free [everything is -free] and smaller drinks. Other than that, I didn’t eat sweet but I had small sweet potatoes twice while eating out. I theoretically approve of reducing my carb load but truthfully, I was sick an awful lot on this diet. The other day I made some Buttermilk Buns from the official cookbook and had some mashed cauliflower and I was so sick I had to take lots of medicine and stay up all night. The buns tasted horrible by themselves but not too bad with mayo, sausage pattie and fried egg but it seemed to symbolize my efforts to eat paleo.

Here’s what I concluded. I will continue to eat meat, and more meat than I currently do, but I’m not beating myself up if I don’t eat meats I don’t like or cuts I don’t like, and I will eat a healthy vegetarian meal if I like. Also, I’m scaling way back on certain foods that are common in paleo but I still can’t handle. Sunday night I read a post from Paleohacks which listed foods that can trouble some people eating paleo and the list had my name all over it. Nuts/seeds? Even if I soak nuts, they are a problem. A half-dozen nuts every few days is a minor problem, a dozen nuts every day is a major problem. Seeds are out, especially sunflower seeds. Nut flours are acceptable in small quantities and not every day. Raw veggies are out, as are some cooked ones unless very small quantities, such as cauliflower or kale. Some fruits such as apples, especially tart ones such as Granny Smith, cooked or not, are out. I’m giving up on some spices, I don’t care how healthy, notably ginger and turmeric. Several recipes use a baking soda/vinegar combo that I simply hated, the baked product always seem to burn my tongue.

It’s clear to me that I’ve spent years using starchy carbs, e.g., potatoes, as a cushion for digestive issues, and used cola syrup in fountain cokes for the same purpose. I can be more careful of that but I cannot – at least not yet – toss them aside. I’m clinging to my full-fat dairy foods and soothing foods such as avocados. One thing I found very useful on the diet, simply giving up on the idea of having a sweet treat or pastry very often, no matter what the ingredients or how ‘healthy.’ My top criticism of the cookbooks is that they make allowances for certain dietary preferences but there’s no assistance  to those of us who can eat dairy, no suggestions to substitute real buttermilk for soda/vinegar in the “Buttermilk” Buns, e.g.

Did I lose weight? I don’t know, I don’t weigh myself, only getting weighed at doctor visits but I’m less bloated and that’s all to the good. I drank more water and that’s a good thing, too. Here’s some other recipes I tried, all from the official 21DSD cookbooks:

Chicken Pot Pie was quite good, with a tasty crust that made crunchy tidbts when it fell onto the baking sheet. It was a pain to make but then all pot pies are pretty much a pain. The Cinnamon Cookies were sweetened with only mashed green-tipped bananas but they were a good treat one night when my husband desperately needed a diet pick-me-up. The Apple Chai Scones? They were quite good to eat – my husband liked them very well – but the combo of almond and coconut flours plus diced apples, coconut butter, and heavy spice made me very sick. I  find paleo recipes use a lot of cinnamon to balance the blood sugar, but sometimes that’s all I can taste in recipes so I’m learning to cut back but not give it up.

21dsd apple scones

21dsd cinnamon cookies

21dsd chicken pot pie2

21dsd chicken pot pie

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Actually it’s not too bad so far and presumably the worst part is over. Presumably. To be honest, I only miss one thing: my daily fountain Diet Coke. I don’t like coffee and a lot of tea hurts my stomach -herbal or otherwise – and I like my daily fountain coke. Think it’s actually the soothing cola syrup because I don’t like coke in a can or plastic bottle.

We’re trying to expand our sights a little – we’re doing okay with sandwiches in lettuce wrap – but we’re  relying on things we like – roasted chicken, avocado, green beans, lemon vinaigrette, bacon, roasted cauliflower, eggs, turkey, some ground beef, tuna, salmon, mild white fish – for our basics. I’m making bone broth tomorrow to use in chicken soup, but no noodles.

Fixing roast chicken is quite easy for this ex-vegetarian because you have to wear gloves for sanitary reasons and if I don’t want to stick my hand inside to get the gizzards, etc., then I just stand the chicken up and shake it a little. Yeh I know that’s cowardly but there it helps you transition. I will say the secrets to begin eating meat again are to stop paying attention to your feelings – after all you taught yourself to feel that way – and to quit visualizing animals as people – after all you taught yourself to visualize them that way. IOW, it’s all learned behavior so work to unlearn it.

The biggest lesson I’ve learned is this: When I put together a family cookbook several years ago, I humorously asked my dad about eating possum while growing up. He said he grew up in a rural hollow during the Depression and they ate what they could find, often wild game, greens, mushrooms, berries, acorns to make flour, teas from wild shrubs or whatever they could grow from seeds and were happy to eat it. He said that possum is not different from eating wild turkey or whatever, it’s just a little greasier. He said city people today make fun of him for eating possum but he looked me in the eye and said, “If you get hungry enough, you’ll eat just about anything. I hope you never get that hungry.”

My daughter has a ton of allergies and went on the 21DSD – The 21 Day Sugar Detox Diet – last summer to help resolve some problems. She was happy with the result but found it challenging at first to eat enough protein and calories to stay active, since she works out hard multiple times a week, often using her version of a Mark Rippetoe approach. [http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_c_0_11?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=mark+rippetoe&sprefix=mark+rippet%2Caps%2C311]. To succeed, she had to try new foods, new combos, new cooking methods, and new shopping methods. Once I followed her to stores so she could buy chicken feet – yes, just little chopped off chicken feet – so she could make a better bone broth. At the end of the diet, she said to me, “Well it is different with some different foods but if you get hungry enough, you’ll eat just about anything.”

There you  have it folks, we’ve come full-circle food in 3 generations.  She searches out quality lard, wild greens, dairy from grass-fed animals, free range chickens, veggies from heirloom seeds, wild game, raw local honey and sorghum, raw nuts, Gluten Free flours, raw aged cheeses, non-dairy milks, and she laments pasteurization. Her great-grandparents would be so proud.

From the 21DSD book, I made Salmon Salad with Capers and Tomatoes and Banana-Nut Mini Donuts, with mashed green-topped bananas as the sweetener. The salmon salad was good but honestly, we don’t ever eat cold /room temp salmon so it was a little weird. We typically only eat salmon as croquettes – okay we call them patties – so it was a bit of a learning curve but no biggie. Next up, Salmon Steaks, which Sissy and not-Sissy2 love but we don’t eat. I tried it once roasted with some kind of wood at a restaurant and didn’t like but we’re going to try again.

I first fixed the donuts w/o baking soda – put them into the oven and uh oh there was the baking soda on the counter- and they were edible but tried them the next night and they were much better. Think I liked them better than the ones I tried from Against the Grain. Although I used good-quality – Wilton – non stick donut pans and greased them with coconut oil, they stuck both times so fair warning. Walker’s donuts have never stuck. I spread good coconut butter over the tops, yum.

I also tried author Karen Kingsbury’s Low Carb Pizza recipe and thought it was delicious. It calls for an ungreased cookie sheet but I recommend a light greasing with olive oil. I topped mine with a homemade sugarfree tomato sauce, an olive mix, artichoke hearts, fresh basil, a little smoked Gouda and a drizzle of EEVO. It tasted like pizza. Here’s the easy recipe:

Karen Kingsbury Low Carb Pizza

7 eggs     7 c shredded mozzarella  1 tsp oregano     1 tsp basil

Mix and spread on cookie sheet. Bake 450 for 15 min.

Add toppings bake 10 min more

Here’s pics, pizza on top:

egg pizza2

salmon salad21dsd donuts

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For the last couple of months I’ve been avoiding serious exercise – I won’t whine with excuses because we each have 24 hours a day – and I’ve discovered lots and lots of Gluten Free packaged products. The yummy GF cupcakes, hamburger buns and cheese crackers are traps. I knew they were traps but I fell into the pit anyway. I’ve put on a few pounds but more importantly, I can tell a difference in the way I feel. So I’ve decided to start the Diane Sanfilippo 21-Day Sugar Detox Diet with my daughter our husbands. Daughter is on the toughest level, Level 3, while hub and I are midway at Level 2. The object is to break an addiction to sugar/carbs. I love potatoes and starchy chips while hubby craves popcorn. The biggest difference between 2 and 3 is the elimination of Dairy in 3; in Level 2, full-fat dairy is permitted.

Sanfilippo is the author of Practical Paleo – I’ve featured some of her foods here, e.g., her yummy and healthy Blueberry Pancakes – so the emphasis is on good-quality protein, fats, and non-starch veggies. Very limited lower-starch fruits. I have digestive issues with a lot of non-starch veggies such as kale and collards but like every program, you have to focus on what you can eat and ignore what you can’t.

The common way of entering the program is the first Monday but 21 days is any 21 days you choose. The only drawback is at her website and FB page, you can be a part of the group that starts today and thus get a sense of shared misery, er, community. My daughter’s already been on the program a few months ago and felt great afterward. Several months ago I bought the book and cookbook but you can buy them online and there’s plenty of advice and recipes there. I’m honestly not sure how easy it is to start w/o the book resources.

We ate at a Chinese restaurant last night before starting the diet and I was extremely sick with bloating and cramping early this morning – I’ve previously eaten the same food at the same restaurant w/o discomfort – so I skipped breakfast and slept late. I fixed Pumpkin Pancakes with Coconut Butter for lunch along with bacon. It was very filling and tasty, especially with the coconut butter, which I’ve never tried but my daughter loves.  I’m getting ready to fix Salmon Salad with Capers plated with tomatoes and avocado, and salad greens with Lemon Herb Vinaigrette, which is a cinch to make.

BTW, what helped with my digestive problems this morning was my time-tested habit of squeezing some fresh lemon juice into a mug of hot water, preferably on an empty stomach. For more than 30 years this has been my go-to help when nothing else – including my prescription drugs – works.

I couldn’t find any Macadamia or Walnut Oil locally to make the recommended mayo so I’m cheating – it’s only Day 1 so you know I’m a woman of low standards – by using a quite healthy Hellman’s Olive Oil Mayo with negligible sugar until I hit the big city of Huntington or maybe our very small local health food store.

I’ll let you know how it’s going for me, assuming I’m not too weak to type [heh], but here’s the website. http://21daysugardetox.com/


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Since I’ve been eating less almond flour – I find it difficult to digest anything but small amounts – I’ve searched for some dessert recipes that go lighter with nut flours. I noticed Danielle Walker’s new book discusses the same problem but I haven’t tried her dessert recipes yet. I did find one for Pecan Apple Crisp at Elana’s Pantry – permanently linked on my Blog Roll – and it was so good my husband asked me to fix it again soon. Since he doesn’t restrict himself to Gluten Free or Paleo, that’s quite a compliment.

I do have a couple of gripes. The recipe calls for palm shortening, which I cannot find locally and is expensive anywhere I buy it. I used some red palm oil I had on hand, which didn’t seem to affect the taste but does stain some dishes and my white food processor blade, plus it’s not especially attractive in the finished crisp. It’s easy to overspend and buy a lot of stuff when you go GF or paleo, so my advice is buy as little exotic stuff, such as red palm oil or cocao nibs, as possible, adding a little at a time. Grass fed meats, dairy, raw nuts, exotic chocolate, GF flours, and arrowroot powder are very expensive.

I love Elana Amsterdam’s recipes and own 2 of her cookbooks but she uses the food processor a lot, which I find annoying. I hate to clean a food processor plus mine is a heavy monster. I realize this isn’t Elana’s fault but nevertheless I hate using it for small pastry amounts or the like. Having said that, I was surprised to learn that pulsing the chopped pecans a bit for the crisp topping makes them much easier to digest. Here’s a pic – on the left side – of Pecan Apple Crisp with whipped topping; I think this is whipped cream but I sometimes use whipped coconut milk, which is more paleo.

There’s nothing easier or healthier than a quick Pumpkin Mousse. Using a  hand mixer, mix 8-oz pkg of softened full-fat cream cheese with a 15-oz can of pure pumpkin puree. Add about 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice and 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg with liquid stevia – I like to use toffee flavored or vanilla cream flavored stevia – to taste. Mix 1/2 c whipping cream or chilled full-fat coconut milk till stiff. Add half to mousse, use remaining as topping for the mousse. Adjust any of these amounts as desired. Less cream cheese works fine and the spices are all to taste. Adding toasted pecans is a nice touch. Pic on the right. I have also added orange curls for a little color.

Eating more fish was particularly hard for me at first because it’s the healthiest and tastiest when it ‘s basically just fish with very little added. Tuna was the easiest because you can mix it with lots of ingredients for Tuna Salad or for a Nicoise Salad, which cover the taste plus don’t look like a fish. Salmon Croquettes work well for salmon. I’m trying to be less wimpy and am now eating more fish as filets, although I don’t see me eating shelled fish or trout with its head on. That’s okay. I’m eating white fishes with simple toppings and happy with that. Here’s a recipe I’ve eaten a few times that’s tasty and simple; I got the recipe from the package of frozen cod, Orca Bay Foods

Lemon Thyme Cod

1. Preheat oven 450

2. Spray non-stick cooking oil in baking dish.

3. Mix 1 minced garlic, 1 tsp fresh thyme [can substitute 1/2 tsp dried], 1 tsp grated lemon peel, salt and pepper to taste, 1 tsp minced green onion, 1/4 c [gluten free] bread crumbs.

4. Whisk in 1 T egg whites.

5. Pat dry cod filets.

6, Place in prepared baking dish. Brush with 2 T fresh lemon juice. Sprinkle bread crumb mixture on top filets,  press lightly to hold.

7. Drizzle with melted butter, about 1/4 cup.

8. Bake 15-20 minutes.

lemon thyme cod

elana pecan apple crisppumpkin mousse

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Vegetarian to paleo: Traps

I’ve been on my own more the past few weeks in the sense that I’ve not been using cookbooks but trying instead to adapt old cooking methods to new ways. Some success, lots of dangers.

I realized that the almond flour and other nut flours were still difficult for me to digest. I’ve tried soaking raw nuts in water then baking them but overall I’ve concluded that I have too many gut problems – still – to do much with nuts or seeds. Bummer, but I need more healing before I move to that step. The daughter is always whipping out an animal carcass to cook with veggies and telling me I need to do broth, and pushing not just GF but more paleo. I’m not sure I’m ready to cook that myself but I think I may try some canned broth from Amazon or wherever I can find the recommended brands.

Giving up on nut flours I wandered into bakeries and the GF foods at my local stores. Lots of good stuff. I like the stuff at GF Miracles in Lexington because they also have paleo offerings and I trust their homemade cookies and other baked goods. I’ve been happily using GF pasta and hamburger buns, congratulating myself for eating grass fed burgers or whatever. That’s true, and it is an excellent way to transition into eating meat when you’ve been a long-time vegetarian who’s averse to meat eating. But it’s murder on your blood sugar and I don’t think it’s particularly healthy on a daily basis. It would be an excellent way to get a younger, healthier person to eat meat or go GF but this GF ready-made food is a trap that keeps you from going to a higher level of eating Paleo. I’ve decided to cut way back on them for only occasional use. Such as the King Arthur GF Brownie Mix, which I bought yesterday at my local Kroger but only to support the GF cause and I swear I’ll only make it for a special occasion or when lots of people can share it.

Missing the nut flour baked treats, I fell into the trap of fruits as dessert, in smoothies, on GF pancake, everything. No matter the diet, too much sugary fruit is a common trap.

To make it easier for me, some food manufacturers have made truly lousy products, while some need quite a bit of tweaking. I had some lousy rotini that I used for a healthy pasta salad using lots of my homegrown veggies. Ugh. Going to try and adjust cooking times and recheck but the recommended times didn’t work.

The daughter had better results with the Pillsbury refrigerated crust  she used to make a chocolate pie but she had to tweak not only the baking times but the technique. She cooked the crust longer and kneading the crust a much longer time than the pkg recommended. It was well worth it. She used the filling from a cookbook called Mrs Rowe’s Pies, from a pie shop/restaurant in Staunton, Virginia. We don’t know Mrs Rowe from Adam but all her recipes are fabulous. A special treat we have a couple ties a year, so it was nice to adjust it to GF.

I did try a little dessert the other night, mostly to use Rome Beauty apples, which my husband loves but gives me cramps if I eat raw. I sliced 2 apples thinly then cooked in a grass fed butter in an iron skillet with just a teaspoon or so of raw brown sugar and 2 T pecans till nice and caramel-y, then added 3 T shredded unsweetened coconut. While  cooking that I nuked a large GF tortilla- made with teff and millet for a minute on each side then cooked them 4 minutes on each side in a dry cast iron skillet, which is quite a bit more cooking than the pkg recommends but it it works better.  Then I put the apple mixture inside the tortilla, added a little whipped coconut milk and wrapped it up. It had the taste of a decadent autumn treat but it’s not too unhealthy. Two tips: the apple mix turns to hard praline pretty quick so eat it before it cools and sets, it also helps to not toast it too long and use goodly amounts of butter. Also, I can’t get these tortillas to easily cut with a fork so wraps work well.

So my goal next week is focus more on paleo. I may be going in that direction: Yesterday we ate at Moe’s, a regional fast food Tex Mex place my husband likes but I like less now that I don’t eat gluten. Yesterday I ordered a salad with tofu chunks,  which I used to often eat there. Yesterday I kept rolling the pieces in my  mouth, couldn’t stand the…. texture. I left in the bottom of the bowl.  My daughter says I’m becoming a meateater.  Maybe. Have a good day and enjoy your food.



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I’m no longer vegan, though. I eat eggs, dairy and meat these days.

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Still wavering between simply gluten-free and hard-core paleo. I have developed a stumbling block to emphasize GF at the expense of paleo. It’s possible to be GF and have some treats, some cookies or cakes or brownies or well, you get the pic. I’ve been baking quite a few treats and had some recent bouts of IBS. I went on my annual camping trip to a music festival and took lots of goodies but came back sick and cramping. Almond flour is the main culprit. Yes it’s GF. It’s also ground-up nuts. I don’t eat nuts. Occasionally I go the route of soaking raw nuts and cooking with them but they are still irritating in larger amounts. I’ve been eating too much lovely almond flour biscuits and treats. I’m not calling it quits completely because well, I’m not giving up all those chocolate chip cookies but I do intend to go more of the “clean” route. My daughter goes this cleaner approach and she says it helps a lot. Gulp, can’t believe I need to go more strict but it reminds me of eating as a kid. We simply didn’t eat treats very often. Most other families didn’t either and when you did eat treats, it was small and limited in quantity. You had one small slice of cake, often without frosting. You didn’t eat 2 pieces. You didn’t have huge pieces. You made it yourself along with a modest home-cooked supper of simple meat, simple vegetables, simple bread. Going back to my childhood, I guess.

Here’s some recent foods:

I’ve tried some hearty salads because we still have a garden and main dish salads are a way to eat lots of veggies while going meatless or having small quantities of meat. It’s easy to skip the non-GF croutons and the like. Here’s an English Pea Salad from the March 2014 issue of Country Living Magazine. It was a little too bland for our tastes so I added coarse-ground Dijon mustard and toasted almonds [!]. I didn’t like the canned peas – you just open the cans without cooking the peas – so I’d use lightly steamed or frozen peas the next time for more crispness. The other is a delicious but simple Cucumber Salad with feta cheese in a lemon vinaigrette. We had lots of cucumbers from the garden this year and I made this salad many times. It’s from the Taste of Homes 2002 Quick Cooking Annual Recipes [Reiman Publishers, 2001], page 73. I’m enclosing the recipe because it will be difficult to find the book, which is full of wonderful recipes.

summer salads                                        Cucumber Salad

2 medium cucumbers     1/2 tsp salt

1/4 cup chopped green onions     2 T lemon juice

1 T olive oil      1/8 to 1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper

1 c [4 oz] feta or blue cheese, crumbled

Cut cukes in half lengthwise. Using a s. poon, remove seeds and discard. Cut cukes into 1/2 ” cubes, put in bowl. Sprinkle with salt. Stir in onions. Combine remaining ingredients and gently stir into bowl of cukes. Serves 4-5

It’s excellent to chill these for a while before serving.




I’ve made this Peach Crisp a couple of times using fresh peaches but canned or frozen fruit always work well in crisps. It’s from the Elana’s Pantry link  on my blogroll. I own a couple of her cookbooks and I’ve noticed that she’s cut back on sweeteners in her more recent recipes. This does use 1-1/2 c almond flour, not a lot for a big crisp, and it only uses 1/4 c honey or agave so it’s excellent for those watching their blood sugar. Very nice with some healthy whipped coconut cream on top. The best thing is just keep some chilled cans of coconut milk in the fridge.

peach crisp elana

I’m trying to eat heartier breakfasts since I’m not much of a breakfast person. Here’s some Danielle Walker Banana Pancakes – she makes them in the shape of Mickey Mouse head so she calls them Mouse Pancakes – from her Against All Grain cookbook. It’s an excellent cookbook to own, a new one is planned for September release, I think. This one is a basic in GF cooking so I’m curious about the changes in her new one.

banana pancakesI also made several jars of Diane’s Homemade Refrigerator Pickles but I can’t find the pic right now. I’ll add it later if I find it. The recipe is at the link of Tasty Kitchen, which you can easily get to from The Pioneer Woman link on my blogroll or you can go direct at http://tastykitchen.com/recipes


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