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February 28, 2010

Classic PB&J

Going gluten free should never mean being deprived of your favorite classic comfort foods! Keep an eye out for future recipes on delicious homemade baked mac 'n cheese, grilled cheeseburgers, Sunday morning pancakes, and more. But today, please hop in my time machine with me as we travel back to 3rd grade brown bag worthy PB&J.

It's the kind of simple meal that really brings out the kid in you. It reminds you of trading snacks with friends, sucking down chocolate milk, or maybe sitting down for lunch on a lazy Saturday while watching Looney Tunes or Beakman's World. PB&J is nostalgia and comfort, bringing you back to a simpler time when maybe you didn't even have to prepare your own food (thanks, Mom!). I decided to revert back to this time on Friday. On Friday, I paired my PB&J with potato chips (Utz brand), chocolate milk, a snowstorm, snow-tubing, and hot cocoa with a good friend. Heaven!

One of the benefits of gluten free awareness is the expanded availability of brands to choose from for certain products. Importantly, bread is one of those things. Mr. GF prefers Kinnikinnik GF Brown Sandwich Bread, and I enjoy Food for Life Brown Rice Bread.

Sandwich Bread Tip: Due to the crumbly nature and consistency of gluten free bread products, keep loaves in the freezer and toast your bread slices as you make your sandwiches. The loaves will last longer and the frozen-to-toasted bread will not crumble as easily.

So don't be afraid to make your favorite classic PB&J and release your inner child for a day. It's delicious and good for the soul. And don't forget the chocolate milk!

Kinnikinnik Brown Sandwich Bread can be found in the healthfood aisle of Stop & Shop supermarkets in the freezer section. Food For Life Brown Rice Bread can be found in most Shaw's supermarkets in the healthfoods freezer section, or for a lower price at Trader Joe's grocery stores. 

February 26, 2010

The Diet Basics

Lets cover some basics. One of the most common questions I get when speaking with friends or family about the gluten free diet is "So...what can Mr. GF eat?" Well, he can eat a lot of things! I generally answer the question in 3 parts:

1) Au Naturale
You can eat any "au naturale" (in the natural state) fruits, vegetables, or meats, which you prepare at home. This is the healthiest aspect of the diet. It's much cleaner than buying pre-cooked or processed, and completely up to you to prepare foods as you like them!

2) Common Sense
The basics of what is off-limits: Any breads, pasta, cookies, cakes, cereals, crackers, chips or anything that obviously contains wheat or white flour. Stay away from "whole wheat" and "whole grain". These are healthy foods for most, but not if you're not tolerant to gluten! If you're not sure, check the ingredients or use my favorite research tool: Google. Which leads me to my next point...

Read Your Labels
A key element to living a gluten free lifestyle is finding products that exist that are gluten free and safe to eat. Obviously there are only so many options out there that are labeled "gluten free". So why not do some research next time you're at the grocery store? Do you have a favorite food that you think might be safe? Read the label! In fact, start making it a habit to read the label of everything you purchase. It's amazing how many foods we eat every day that contain ingredients that we don't even know what they are! We've learned some tricks in the past three years. There are ingredients that gluten can cleverly be disguised in, such as "modified food starch", which can be made from any number of grains. Modified food starch? How vague can you get?

Another common label phrase to look for: "Processed in a facility that also processes nuts/wheat/dairy/etc." If the ingredient listing does not show "gluten" or suspect ingredients, this could be another red flag to watch out for. Products that may seem safe by their contents could be cross-contaminated (more on that soon!) in the processing and packaging.

So when it comes to the basics of what you can and can't eat, keep it clean and natural, know what foods to always avoid, and when in doubt, read your labels!

February 25, 2010

Lemonpepper Tilapia

Lemonpepper Tilapia with Roasted Vegetables and Rice
Ingredients
2 lbs tilapia
1 tbsp olive oil
lemonpepper seasoning (recommendation: Trader Joe's)
1 lemon
1 small yellow squash, sliced
1 small zucchini, sliced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
handful of chopped fresh parsley
1 cup of rice, prepared

Prepare rice as directed. We prefer brown rice in general, but wanted to use up the rest of a bag of white rice.

To prepare vegetables: Place sliced vegetables in a small baking dish. Spray evenly with olive oil (coats more evenly than oil from a bottle), sprinkle with salt, pepper, minced garlic, and parsley. Place in oven on low broil.

To prepare tilapia: Slice lemon in half. Set aside 1 half and slice the other into 5 pieces. Gently pat fish dry with a paper towel. In a saute pan, heat oil over medium high heat. Season tilapia with lemonpepper. Place tilapia and lemon slices in pan, saute for 4 minutes. Turn fish and lemon slices over and squeeze the other lemon half of juice over the pan. Season with a little more lemon pepper and saute. Cook 10 minutes or until fish flakes easily. Serve hot over rice with veggies on the side.

We enjoyed a glass of Smoking Loon Sauvingon Blanc, which had quite a buttery taste to it, which I felt paired will with the acidity of the lemon.

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes
Serves: 4

This meal is gluten free, dairy free, and insanely delicious.

February 24, 2010

Introduction: Going Gluten Free

Welcome to The Gluten Free Wife, a fun place to learn about living a gluten free lifestyle! I am going to tell you a little bit about myself and my background, and then we'll dive right in! I have a lot of fun and helpful things to share with you, so I'm very excited to begin! 
    I am twenty-six years old. I work in graphic design and photography in southern New England. I love cooking and hosting parties, hiking, singing, painting, and watching the Red Sox and Patriots. My honeymoon was the first truly relaxing vacation I took in 8 years. I am a Libra. I love dogs and hope to adopt a puppy someday soon from a local shelter. I am the youngest of three children, I have two nephews and a niece, and my parents have been happily married for 33 years this coming May! You'll learn more as we go...Now on to the nitty gritty! 
     Nearly three years ago, my boyfriend (now husband) was diagnosed with Celiac Disease, a digestive disorder that affects about 1 in 133 children and adults. For a long time leading up to that point, he had been feeling crummy after eating nearly every meal and snack. It had become kind of a joke that he made more frequent trips to the bathroom than me, the queen of overactive bladders, but it came to a point where I told him that food is supposed to be good for you. It's supposed to nourish you and give you energy. He agreed to see a specialist, and was relieved to find that it was something that could be diagnosed. 
     That feeling of relief was short-lived when he researched and came to realize what "going gluten-free" meant. Gluten is a protein found in all forms of wheat, and grains like rye, barley, and triticale. It's also found in some vitamins and medicines. When someone with Celiac Disease consumes anything with even a trace of gluten, "it creates an immune-mediated toxic reaction that causes damage to the small intestine and does not allow food to be properly absorbed." (celiac.org) 
     We realized the scope and seriousness of the disease very quickly. Mr. GF was not absorbing vital nutrients, so in a way, he was malnourished. It was difficult to find foods that did not have gluten in it, and when we did find them, boy were they expensive! It was hard to find restaurants that could prepare a meal "sans gluten". The idea of traveling was a nightmare! We thought he would be eating nothing but fruits, vegetables, and meat for the rest of his life. It was very troubling. We decided to do our best with preparing meals at home, trying new recipes so we could still have "our favorites". With some adjustment, we started finding it easier and easier to "go GF". Over the past three years since Mr. GF was diagnosed, the awareness of Celiac Disease has grown dramatically, as well as the availability of gluten free foods. 
     On January 16, 2010, we became Mr. and Mrs. GF. Yay! After 7 years of dating, 3 of which were gluten free, I have decided to fully devote myself to the lifestyle, awareness, and education of what it means to live a gluten free lifestyle. I do not have Celiac Disease, but recognize the healthful benefits of eliminating gluten from your diet. In this blog I will share recipes that we love, places to eat, resources, ideas, and anecdotes from our gluten-free experience. We have found that with a little adventure and openness to new things, life isn't perfect, but we do our best! 
Cheers! 
Mrs. GF