Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Gluten Free News From Israel

     Hey guys! This will be a quick posting - I'm a bit under the weather and I've got to work tomorrow so I'm trying to stay rested.

     I know that many people travel to and from Israel quite often for religious, travel, and family reasons so I decided to share this. Israel has recently put the gluten free cut off at 20 parts per million for products that are labeled gluten free. Many people here in the United States feel that 10 ppm or lower should be the cut off while Australia has adopted 5 ppm as their cut off for gluten free labeling.

     I hope everyone's holiday went well and a good new year is upon you!

     See you in 2011!

     I wanted to site the news article I read this information in. I've been a little out of it lately and I couldn't believe that I didn't include a link to the article I found this information in!

     The Jerusalem Post was the one to publish the article "Products with harmless levels to be labled ‘gluten-free'" on 28 December 2010. Read it here.

     Thanks again for reading and I'll see you guys (for real this time) next year!
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Tuesday, December 21, 2010

AiA Gluten & Dairy Free Cookbook

     Libraries offer information for free. There, you can browse subscription based periodicals, hundreds of variations of encyclopedias, and read about wars, heroes, and places you've never known before.

For free.

      internet offers the same experience - the experience of learning and knowledge. There is a big fuss right now over some people publishing information that some people feel should not be made public. This information tells of decades of lies, cover ups, and scandals. Before this, these people released videos of American soldiers gunning down innocent people - international workers - and the people who came to collect their bodies. The soldiers were begging their superiors to let them 'engage'. It was a horrific video to watch and I am ashamed to say that these people are representing me, not just my country.

     Because of this, I am wanting to also provide as much information to people as I possibly can. This information will be mostly relevant to this site in the form of cookbooks, magazines, and other periodicals. They will all be free to you and easy to use. If you have questions, please contact me and I'll help you navigate to the final product.

     I really hope you enjoy this new feature. My goal is to show you new information and new methods of getting it.

     Information, true or false, in any form, and from anyone should always be free. And we should work to keep it that way.

In saying all that, here's the first link: The AiA Gluten & Dairy Free Cookbook

     You will be redirected and end on a page with a picture of the book on it. Scroll down and you will see a bolded section that reads "Download". Under it you will find three different .com sites that are where the book is stored. Clicking on the third link, for example, will take you to a page with many options on it. The top of the page has the file name on it. (It's a .rar file, meaning it's archived and you'll need to un-pack it or un-zip it once downloaded.) About half way down the page you'll see a section that says "Choose download type - fast or slow" You'll want to click on the slow one and that will start your download. You might have to wait for a minute or enter a captcha to verify your human-ness, but your download should start right after that.

     This cookbook is really great and has lots of both carnivore and vegetarian friendly dishes in it. My only complaint is that it focuses on "the stuff we can't have and want to replace" like breads, cookies, pies, cakes, biscuits, and the like. It then goes on to soups, pastas, meats, veggie foods, snacks, candies, sides, and various random sections.

     However, some positive notes about this book is that it is largely allergen free or has the variations available to make it allergen free. It also has recipe notes for various English and Metric measurements making it really useful to Celiacs around the world.

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Saturday, December 18, 2010

All About Grains

      The other day on VisualEconomics, I came across a really interesting graphic of what the average American eats in a year. First, if you've never checked out VisualEconomics I suggest whole-heartedly that you do. The information there is presented in a very straight forward, easy to understand and share manner, and the also list their sources clearly with each representation. Secondly, the information was pretty surprising to me in the cereals / grains / wheat flour section. Check it out below:


     For a little background information, grains became a staple of human diets around 7,000 to 10,000 years ago, not terribly long ago considering the time line of human's existence on this planet. That has given evolution just enough time to begin to work magic on our intestinal tract allowing us to more readily digest them on a constant basis. This is good news for us humans who now consume, according to the data, an average of “192.3 lbs. of flour and cereal products, including 134.1 lbs. of wheat flour.” That's pretty astonishing that just a hair's breath under 70% of the grain consumption in America comes from wheat.

     For those with wheat intolerances or allergies, these numbers are a bit off, but it still demonstrates the importance of grains in our diets. I eat more now than I ever did before cutting out wheat, rye, and barley. Brown rice, millet, oats, flaxseed, quinoa, and teff are all included in my diet on a near regular basis.

     Whole grains are little tiny balls of wonder – in my world at least. I know that people will swing from the rafters to shout about the dangers of grains while watching or reducing the waist line, but I say shoot 'em down! They don't know what they say!

     There is a HUGE difference between whole grains and refined grains. Whole grains are truly the Holy Grail of grains. It's what you want and what your body needs.

     Around the turn of the 20th century, when production and demand levels began to skyrocket, manufacturers started doing things a little different so foodstuffs would not spoil as quick as they normally would. This allowed food to be shipped further and stored longer, a convenience for both supplier and buyer. In the end, however, the detriment is to the health of the consumer.

     A whole grain contains a germ (think of this as the yolk of an egg; it would provide nutrients to the seed if it were to sprout), an endosperm (this would be like the white of an egg; provides some energy for the plant should it grow), and a bran (this is the protective outer covering that holds it all together). Because the germ contains oils that go rancid over time, they were removed to help prolong shelf life. To get to this little control center of the grain the bran must be removed, as well. The end result is just the endosperm of the grain. Soon enough, manufacturers realized that this practice was stripping the grain of nearly all of it's nutritional value and began adding various vitamins and minerals back to the grains to help make up for this deficiency.

     The difference between whole and refined grain comes down to the digestion of the two.

     When a whole grain is ingested – this is whole grain like a bowl of oatmeal, not a slice of bread (more on that later) – your body has to work to break down the bran, the endosperm, and the germ allowing the proteins and carbohydrates and nutrients to be released from the grain slowly over a period of time. Your body is able to produce the insulin and other chemicals it needs to aid the digestion gradually.

     When a refined grain is ingested – this is a grain such as enriched white rice – the only thing that needs to be broken down is the endosperm. Because digestion occurs so quickly, your body is left with too much sugar in the blood because the body has not had the chance to produce enough insulin to properly deal with the sugar. This is where many dieters' belief that grains cause a spike in blood sugar and should be avoided come from.

     Products that are made from flours of whole grains are nutritionally better for you than the same product made from enriched or refined flour. However, if you are watching your grain intake to help regulate your blood sugar levels avoiding flours would be optimal. Because flours have been ground down to powder, the body can digest them faster than if the entire grain was ingested whole. The nutritional value is still there, but the digestion occurs faster. This causes similar results as eating a refined grain; digestion releases all the goodies into the blood stream before the body has a chance to use them properly. When these goodies go through your filters – liver and kidneys – those filters absorb some of the goodies and over time can become blocked.

     Whole grains provide so much more than a refined grain, even an enriched one, ever could. Whole grains help to regulate blood sugar when eaten properly, they are great sources of fiber, minerals, vitamins, oils, and healthy carbohydrates. Refined grains have been stripped of everything that makes them nutritionally dense and valuable for the sake of longer shelf life.

     Eat your grains with pride! Don't shy away from oatmeal or granolas, embrace a wild rice mix over enriched minute rice (check the Asian section to find some un-enriched white rice!), try millet or quinoa out when you make stuffed peppers or pork chops, find ways to eat whole grains more often. They help your body do what it does best!
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Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Cookbook Review: Vegan on the Cheap

     Vegan on the Cheap is a great book to add to your collection. While this book is a bit skimp on the amount of recipes, the quality and variety of the recipes more than makes up for it.

     Eating on a budget can be challenging enough, but add some kind of food aversion and it can get even more difficult to stay on budget and keep everyone satisfied. Beans and rice get old soon enough and one soup begins to run into another after a while. Keeping the weekly menus mixed up with varying textures and flavors help keep you interested in your food and finding new ways to eat your basic stand-by's.

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Saturday, November 13, 2010

This Quesadilla Brought to You by Daiya

The tiny town in Texas that I grew up in had a stellar Mexican food restaurant that was ran by a local family. Being the creature of habit I am, I ordered the same thing every time our family ate there – cheese enchiladas. The dish came three to a plate with a side of refried beans and Mexican rice. Add sweet tea and it was one of my favorite eats in town.

I'm still a fan of cheesy goodness of any kind, but the whole dairy-free thing can really hinder that for me, as you could imagine.

A couple years ago I posted about casein-free cheese and my experiments with them. It wasn't that good. In 2009 Daiya took the vegan cheese market by storm and has been picked up as the vegan cheese standard by hundreds of pizza outlets, frozen dinner brands, and restaurants across the country. It's still a bit pricey at around $4 and some change for a standard sized bag of shredded goodness, but it's worth it every once in a while to change up the meal plan around here.

This quesadilla, for instance, was made with Daiya. Delicious and quick breakfast for one this morning when I was up before my boyfriend and room mate.

Quick Quesadilla for One
(vegan & gluten-free)

2 corn tortillas
baby spinach
½ small onion, chopped
1 baby portobello, chopped
shredded carrots

Place small skillet over medium heat. While heating, place one tortilla in skillet, add Daiya, and top with half of the spinach. Add onions, mushrooms, and carrots then top with remaining spinach. Sprinkle liberally with Daiya and place final tortilla on top. Once cheese on the bottom is beginning to melt flip the quesadilla and brown the other side.

If you would prefer the stuffing cooked a bit more, you can brown the vegetables together and then assemble the quesadilla to prevent burning the tortillas from continued cooking.
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Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Bulk Up!

     I posted an Amazon Listmania list this past weekend that included budget gluten free items. I found pancake mix for $2.55 per box, bags of oatmeal under $4.50, and cornbread mix for $2.27 per bag! I was so impressed with the prices there. I know the overall price of a bulk purchase is more than what is normally budgeted for a particular item, but doing one purchase every two weeks or every month is still a great way to save a few dollars on your grocery budget.

     There are so many ways to save money on the monthly grocery budget, but so few options are regularly taken advantage of. Not everyone clips coupons and not everyone has access to larger grocers or specialty stores. For these people, and many others, finding discounts online is becoming a more popular and mainstream option. Colleges are encouraging students to order foods online now in bulk to help save money on their meal plans, and households are turning to online bargains to shave dollars off the monthly food budget.

     Dig around and you'll be surprised at what you can find. Be ware, however, of those home delivery services. Several of our friends were thinking how neat it would be to have fresh produce and groceries delivered to your door, but after the company tacks on fees for fuel and delivery it makes the services too expensive to remotely consider.

     A step down from the grocery delivery is the food share program or CSA programs available in most parts of the country. Check out www.localharvest.org for CSAs near your location as well as a myriad of other farm goods that are deliverable to your door. CSAs consist of a specified amount of vegetables each week or every other week for a certain amount of time. Pick ups are the general rule and little supplementation is needed to get you through a week filled with produce. These can be a bit more expensive than just buying produce, especially if you do not use all of the produce each week.

     Buying larger amounts of an item is generally a sure-fire way to get a discount. Whole Foods regularly offers a 10% discount for buying a case of an item. It may seem silly to buy an entire case of canned Indian food, but when you eat it at least once a week and can save .47c per can – that's a $5.64 savings on your groceries just by purchasing one item in bulk.
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Saturday, October 23, 2010

Commitment Free Lasagna

      Making traditional lasagna is a commitment of at least three hours. I don't know about you, but I don't even have kids running around, unless my cats and rabbit count, and I find it hard to come up with three hours to make dinner on most days. Sure, there are some lazy Sundays with afternoons just begging to be used by the oven, but most days are full of better things to do than stand over a counter and stove for the good part of an afternoon.

     Now there comes a problem into sight: I love lasagna.

     I have always loved lasagna. I was not raised in an Italian family with tables filled with foods and family, so it's not that kind of love, but my family would rock the frozen lasagna from the grocery store. Plate it up with salad and garlic bread, and you have one of my absolute favorite meals in the galaxy. That lasagna was the epitome of Italian for me. Rich tomato-y sauce, firm, frilly noodles with four or five kinds of cheese, and slightly well done to make the cheese extra crispy on the top layer.

     After I went gluten and dairy free my cravings for lasagna did not subside. My food tastes have developed a bit since the days of frozen-in-box and I still long for deliciously rich lasagna. 98% of the time when I'm converting a recipe to suit our food habits I do not have a problem, but once in a blue moon I will have a bit of a challenge put before me when I'm trying to figure something out. Lasagna was one of those moments for me. Most of you know that my household is vegetarian, so meat and meat sauce are both out, and I can't do dairy, so cheese is also out.

      “So what's left” I would tell myself; I pretty much gave up on the idea before I even tried it and went lasagna-less for about a year and a half or so.

      I dabbled in lasagna for a while before I came up with this recipe that I follow pretty closely now. It's right at an hour start to finish for me to prepare, cook, and serve. This cut in time made it a very accessible recipe for me to incorporate into the rotation of meals. With most of my cooking I do not use recipes for exact instructions but for ideas and inspirations. With that theory, I hope that you use this recipe as a base for you to spring from.

Commitment Free Lasagna
6 lasagna noodles
½ pound baby spinach
1 onion, finely chopped
1 jar artichoke hearts, chopped
½ C water + stock cube or ½ C liquid stock
tomato sauce to taste
shredded basil

Bring large pot of water to a boil and add lasagna noodles one or two at a time until al dente. When the noodles are done, lay them out on a plate to cool. While this process is going, heat skillet over medium heat and add artichoke hearts and onions, cooking until onions are translucent. Add stock, tomato sauce, and basil to onions and mix well. Place spinach on top of onions and place lid on pan until spinach has wilted and can be easily incorporated into the onion mix.
Once the spinach is incorporated, the stove can be turned off and the oven preheated to 350*F. Using a spoon or fork and starting about half an inch from the start, line the center of a noodle with a small amount of filling. Roll the noodle up starting from the end with no filling and place into a baking dish. Continue in this manner until all the noodles have been used and top the dish with the remainder of the filling.

Bake for about 20 minutes, or until filling and noodles are hot and any cheese added has melted.

Served with garlic bread and a salad, this will generously serve two or three people, depending on appetites.

      For variations, try making a white sauce or pesto sauce to use in place of the tomato sauce, adding zucchini or mushrooms, experimenting with shredded carrots, or using vegan cheese to give it some extra body.

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Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Checking In

     I made it to Portland okay and am slowly finding my way around the transit system and the university campus. I'm pretty excited about everything starting up at the same time for me. I've even been on a job interview that looks promising. I did have a bit of a hiccup when I first arrived here – the apartment that I had arranged was not suitable (I'm very easy going, so for me to say that... well... you get the idea) so I moved into a new place just a few days later. I'm safe, happy, and eating like a typical college student now.

The transition has been a bit of a shock to me. The plants around here are 100% different than what we have in Texas. I'm constantly in awe of all the roses (it is the Rose City, after all), lavender, shrubbery, and other flora that is new to me. The flowers are blooming, which is odd to me. In Texas at this time of year, things are pretty much scorched and dried up. Blooming happens around mid April and lasts about 6 to 8 weeks if we're lucky, but here it's just now getting to the full show. I'm so impressed.

People are constantly out and about biking, skateboarding, roller blading, walking, and running. People love their animals around here and I'm always seeing people walking their dogs when they're out and about. I'm still very amazed about the landscape here. It is so gorgeous!

My mom came to visit me for orientation at the school this past weekend and we took a day trip out to Mt. Hood. I've lived on the east coast before and I thought that I had seen mountains before, but this is just spectacular. I know I'm barely seeing any mountains, but wow – this is great. We got out at Timberline Lodge and it was snowing! People were in shorts and skis! So great.

I cannot wait until I am able to move the rest of my family up here and take them around to see what I've already been able to experience. I'm so lucky and so happy that I stuck things out those first few days when I was really considering going home.

My diet has taken a turn, that's for sure. My cabinet right now holds panda puff cereal, peanut butter, rice cakes, Progresso Lentil and Vegetable soups, rice sticks, hot cereal, and some bulk rice. I have some frozen veg, Van's GF Waffles – blueberry, yum!, pasta sauce, potatoes and onions. I need to grab some more soy milk soon. That's pretty much been my diet; lots of pasta and vegetables. I do miss cooking for other people and while others might still eat with me, it's just not the same when you know you're cooking for someone you love and their health, too.

On that note, I really don't know when I'll be able to see the boyfriend again, things are so tight with money after that second move I had to make, so we'll see how things turn out. I will be going to see him for the holidays, but as far as him moving up, I don't know when that will happen. I'm going to try and find a very cheap apartment for us to rent, even if it's only a 1 bedroom and get us on our feet long enough to get something else lined up. I'm so excited for this time in our life and I really want to make this work. Just have to bust my butt for it to work. On the good side of that, he did just get a raise at work and hopefully that will help a bit for our savings.

That's all for now, I'll keep you guys updated. I have a few recipes that I tested out before I left Texas that turned out really well. I'll be posting those soon!
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Monday, August 2, 2010

Casein Free Milk and Butter - Part II

     In my previous post on casein free milk and butter I cleared up exactly what casein was, why so many folks with Celiac also react to casein, and suggested a few casein free alternatives to traditional animal products. If you haven’t checked that out yet, be sure to pop over there before you leave!
     I still get asked plenty of questions about what exactly is casein free in the dairy isle and I want to address some of those more common ones here today. Many of the questions that come in regarding casein are wondering if their favorite diary product has casein in it. Does butter have casein? Does being dairy free really mean no casein? Is there casein in soy products? What about skim milk or reduced fat milk? Does sheep or goats milk have casein? What cheeses are casein free or have low casein amounts?
     To give a brief run down on casein, it is one of the proteins that make up all animal milk usually contributing around 80% of the total proteins. Casein is often used in protein powders and meal supplement bars to help boost nutrition and give the consumer a full feeling thanks to the wonderful coagulation properties of the protein which allow for long-term digestion and absorption of the protein.
     This sticky coagulation property is one of the reasons folks with Celiac will have a problem digesting it – the protein is strikingly similar to the gluten molecule and the body will react very similarly to it.
     Now for a brief run down on what is and what is not safe in your dairy isle…
     All animal milk is off limits. I have yet to find one that says “casein free” on the label. There are plenty of lactose free milks available, but lactose is not casein, it is another protein entirely so be sure not to confuse these two. Skim milk has a higher concentration of protein - including casein - than full fat milk does, so don’t make this mistake either. The higher protein in skim milk is caused from taking the milk, spinning off the fat and using the remaining liquid as the final product. So this has the same protein content as before, with a smaller overall volume, thus the higher protein concentration. Boiling or heating milk does not remove the casein, either.
     Rice, soy, hemp, cashew, almond, and coconut are all popular replacement milks for those of us who find animal based milks off limits. You might find that you prefer one over the other or even one brand over another, so shop around and see what you like and what works best for your kitchen. Everyone’s preferences are going to be different.
     Just as all animal milk is off limits, so is all animal based cheeses. Remember how casein is a great coagulator and kind of sticky? Sadly, this is how cheeses come out so deliciously solid making it off limits for us, as well.
     There are many cheese alternatives available on the market today, but a good bit of them still contain casein, so this is where label reading skills come in especially important (you are reading those labels, right?). Some good brands that I look for include Daiya, HeidiHo, and Tofutti. They all look, act, and taste like the real thing. I’ve been away from cheese for a good bit now, but the spouse, who is a devoted dairy consumer, seems to enjoy them all the same. I’ve also heard good things about Follow Your Heart, and Teese Vegan Cheese. Check around your local grocers and see what they have. If you can’t find something for you, ask the manager to order a product for you. Chances are if you want it, someone else does too.
     Butter also falls into the same off-limit category as the above animal-based milks and cheeses. Anything that is made with animal milk needs to be avoided 100% to be sure of a fully casein free diet.
     There are several alternatives on the market that are very tasty and act just the same for cooking and baking. I’ve enjoyed using Earth Balance Vegan Buttery Sticks and Spread for several years now and haven’t had any issues with it. I enjoy the flavor and the fact that I can bake and cook with it. Coconut oil is another popular alternative that many folks turn to. I’m not a huge fan because of the smell, but it’s wildly popular nonetheless. Country Crock might work for you, but it does contain whey and lactic acid in some of their varieties, so proceed with caution here. Check around your dairy isle and see what products they have for you.
     Ghee is the last category that I want to cover. Ghee is tricky. In theory, it should be safe for those of us with a casein allergy. Ghee, or clarified butter as it is sometimes referred to, is made by simmering pure butter until it separates into layers. The top layer is whey and becomes foamy and is removed during cooking with a spoon or other method. The very bottom layer is the milk solids where the casein resides. The middle section is the ghee. The ghee is very carefully poured off the solids and usually strained through a sieve or cheesecloth to ensure all solids are removed from the ghee. This process should leave the end result with no casein, but there is a high chance of cross contamination and left over solids, so this is where caution comes in. I still indulge in Indian food and most of the time I do not have any issues. Use your own judgment on this one.
     I hope this clears up any questions you might have regarding a casein free diet. Feel free to comment below or email me any additional questions you might have or issues you would like me to address.
- Patricia
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Saturday, July 24, 2010

Happy Weekend!

Hope everyone has a great weekend. Here's how I got mine started this morning:

Looks delish, right? It was.

The boyfrined and I whiped up a batch of Maple Grove Farms' gluten free pancake mix and threw a handfull of pecans in with the dry mix. I also substituted 1/2 cup of water with 3 tsp of flaxmeal mixed in to replace the eggs they call for. Topped with blueberries, bananas, and maple syrup. Great way to start the weekend.
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Friday, July 23, 2010

No Fuss Hashbrowns For One

*Vegan and gluten free.
This is an easy-as-it-gets recipe. I would let a 12 or 13 year old do this on their own, with limited supervision – not that I have children or know any 12 or 13 year olds. Seriously, though, it's a fast and easy recipe that calls for very few ingredients, quick prep, and instant gratification.

What you need:
1 medium potato½ sweet onion
3 or 4 sprigs of thyme
Fresh ground pepper
Dash of saltOil for cooking
(You can easily adjust the ingredients for more than one serving)

(I'm eating this as I write the recipe!)
How to do it:
Chop up the onion into smallish pieces. They don't have to be perfect and uniform, just smallish so they'll soften up while cooking. Bag the other ½ of the onion and throw it in the fridge for a later use. Dump the onions into the bottom of a small mixing bowl.

Take your handy-dandy grater and grate that potato, baby! Only after you've washed it and picked off the bad spots with a knife, of course! I prefer to just stick the grater in the bowl so I don't have to transfer it over later, but if you do it elsewhere, put the potato in with the onion.
Pick the thyme off the sprigs and do your best to chop those little guys up a bit. Nothing fancy, just get the job done. Dump that in with the onion and potato and add some fresh ground pepper and some salt to the top before digging your hand in and mixing it all up. You could use a fork to do the mixing, but what's the fun in that?

Coat the bottom of a medium or large skillet with olive oil (use a spray bottle or a paper towel moist with olive oil) and heat it up to medium heat. Once hot, dump in the potato mix and scoot around to form to potato blobs. Again, nothing fancy, just makes it easier to turn two smallish hashbrowns than one large hashbrown. Cook for about 3 or 4 minutes per side, or until your desired crispiness is achieved. I topped mine with Daiya and Braggs and flipped them over, Daiya side down, to help melt the cheese. The cheese doesn't stick too bad in the skillet, so just about 30 seconds should do the trick.

Eat and enjoy. Sharing optional.

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Thursday, July 22, 2010

A Book Review and Other Updates

Sorry to have been overloading you with all the meal plans, but I wanted to catch up on the back stock I've gathered. On to more important things.....

…..like The Flavor Bible!
Holy crap, I finally ordered my very own, shiny and new copy of The Flavor Bible. I'd been searching for it's illegitimate child in the bowels of the internet and kept turning up with empty hands. I'd check every few months for it, but each time there was still nothing to be found. This, I'm telling you, is a little odd for the internet now-a-days.

Not to worry, however, as I have procured a fully legal copy through Amazon, a hardcover, at that, and am learning about new concepts and off and running with ideas on how to mix up the everyday foods that we eat around here. I'm really excited about this book and hope it'll make meal planning and dinner time a bit easier.

…..and moving to Portland!

Less than three weeks and I will be in a state I've never visited, a city I've only seen maps of, and sharing an apartment with a roommate I've never met in person. It's fair to say that most of the reasons that I'm excited to go for are also the reasons why I'm a bit anxious about going: meeting new people, getting around in a new city, going to a large campus, finding a job, etc.

I'm giving it about two weeks before I'm semi-comfortable with getting around there, but I'm hoping that I don't get lost too much in the beginning. I have a horrible sense of direction. The boyfriend and I have a running joke about the place we're going to being 8 blocks the other way that springs from early in our relationship, maybe one of our dates, when I insisted that where we were going was, you guessed, 8 blocks the other way.

…..enjoying my last few weeks in Texas!

While I'm very excited about going to Oregon, I will miss Texas – I grew up here and it will always be my home. I'm enjoying the hot weather and cool rivers while I can. Getting out in the sun and enjoying the days with the boyfriend. Visiting family soon in another part of the state, taking lots of pictures, and enjoying all the time with the boyfriend and cats as I can. I don't know how long it will be before I see them again. Hopefully not too long, but it's all up in the air and will be for a while. That's okay though, we'll see how things land and take it from there.

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Monday, July 19, 2010

Vegan & Gluten Free Meal Plan for 19 July – 24 July

     I try to create a meal plan each week.

     This is much easier said than done, however. Between the boyfriend and I, there is no dairy, egg, or gluten in 99% of what we eat for dinner. We also avoid processed foods and aim to only eat real foods or prepared dishes that only incorporate real, whole foods in them. We lean towards organic when we can to help avoid GMOs and for the less environmental impact their conventionally grown counterparts. He doesn't like tofu or pasta all that much, either, and we rarely eat out – like five times a year. We do this for about $80 to $120 each week and manage to get plenty to eat for dinner, lunches, breakfasts, snacks, coffee, and juice.

     When Friday night rolls around, it means meal planning night. The boyfriend usually has the guys over for game night on Fridays and I usually get a bit of time to myself to read or piddle around on the internet. Nothing too serious gets done as the noise level is not conducive to studying or creating, but it is an enjoyable time for me. Almost forces me to just veg out for a bit, something I do not like to do normally. Early Saturday mornings or late evenings are usually our time to ride down to the farmers market and grocery store, so it is imperative that I meal plan on Friday night or at least before we go.

     When meal planning does not occur, the grocery store trip is a bit disorganized and we often buy things that we do not use right away. No meal plan also means me stressing out when it comes time to start making dinner during the week. Me and stress do not go well together. No meal plan also means tater-tot tacos for two or three days a week, lots of chips, salsa, and guacamole, and random vegetable risotto.

     Meal planning is the way to go, folks. Keep your sanity and help keep your dinner time as stress free as possible. You're making food to nourish your body with and the better that you feel about what you're making and how you're making it, the better the dish will be for you and your dinner mates to enjoy. This being said, here is the meal plan for this coming week:

Potato and Onion Soup
Burgers with Lemon Pepper Quinoa
Chili & Cornbread
Stir Fry
Spaghetti & Garlic Bread with Salads

Grocery List:
Curry Paste
Onions x3
Chips Lemon x1
Rice Noodles
Cabbage & Parsley (for the rabbit)
Chili Mix
Diced Tomatoes
Potatoes ~ 1.5lbs
Ice Cream
Daiya - White
Burgers (We buy Sunshine, check them out – best veg burgers you can find, hands down!)
Pasta Sauce
GF Bread
GF Spaghetti
Soups for Work Lunches
Bell Pepper x1
Flavored Salt (almost out!)

     I will be doing an ongoing series of posts about these meal plans as I create them, but I will also be posting older meal plans that I have created as well. While I have been meal planning regularly for about eight months now, I only begin to keep track of them after I realized that there were almost no vegan, vegetarian, or gluten free meal plans available that I really could use and enjoy. Too much crispy tofu and grilled vegetables. Or if they were semi do-able for me, like the one over at Vegan Health, they were too short at only three days. Regardless, I hope that this makes it a bit easier for someone out there searching for a decent veg friendly and low allergy meal plans that aren't too boring.
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Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The Gluten-Free Assistant Goes To Portland

     The Gluten Free Assistant is headed 2,298 miles away to Portland, Oregon.

     I have been accepted into one of Portland's universities and will be starting classes at the end of September. The big move is scheduled for August 11 – just under thirty days away! I will be taking a one way flight and renting a room until I can get a place of my own and move the rest of my family up to join me. I am very excited about the new state and new city, neither of which I have been to before. Because I am changing my area of study I will be entering as a freshman despite my previous classes. However, making the switch from accounting to community health is a great change for me and more in sync with my interests. A minor in anthropology is also on the horizon.

     My family is very much supportive of me and my mother will be coming to visit me about a week after I arrive and attend a few events at the university with me. After that, I probably won't see a familiar face for about two or three months. Not a huge deal, but I'm sure going to miss my cats that cuddle with me in bed, my own apartment, and my boyfriend among a long list of other things I'll miss about Austin.

     My rabbit is coming with me for the move, so I will not be without at least one companion until I can get to know a few people around town. I've been applying at jobs in the area as well and am expecting to get a call back from one soon. I will be renting a room until I can afford a decent place of my own that is big enough for the boyfriend and the cats to come up as well. We also need to have the cash to move up, so a couple more months of savings and I'm hoping that we'll be able to make the move then.

     I normally do not make personal posts on this blog, but this is a major step in my life and I felt it was important enough to share with you. Portland is a town that, like Austin, loves it's food and I'm hoping that passion for food will bring me great blog fodder for you guys! I should get a few more posts in before I go and hopefully be posting soon after I arrive and get set up a bit. If anyone has any favorite places Portland, let me know!
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Tuesday, June 29, 2010

DC Schools Remove Chocolate & Strawberry Milk, Nix Sugary Cereals

     I was happy to read early this afternoon that Jeffrey Mills, food service director, announced that the Washington DC school system would be pulling all flavored milk, chocolate included, as well as sugary cereals beginning with the fall 2010 school year. This is a huge step towards increasing the general health of our nation's population. A bonus to this is the fact that purchasing only regular milk will save the school district money as the flavored milks are a bit pricier.

To pull a few figures from the article, an eight ounce serving of low fat milk will contain around 12 grams of sugar found in the form of lactose, the chocolate equivalent contains 24 grams, and the strawberry flavor contains 28 grams (seven teaspoons).

When the point is made to parents and non-parents that companies are trying to grab a customer for life when they market towards children, they often dismiss the idea. Companies like Pizza Hut, Gatorade, Nike, Reebok, Kellogg's, and others pay school districts to carry their products and their brand. Period. When a child is given a choice of Pizza Hut (did you know they had these in some high school cafeterias?) or the regular Salisbury steak from the cafeteria line, what do you think they will choose?

A child learns what they grow up with, and Pizza Hut everyday is not an option any child should have on school grounds. If a child is given a plate at lunch everyday that is filled with whole, recognizable foods (chicken nuggets are not a food), nutritious options like fruit, yogurt, or cheese on the side, and bread or grains of some sort, a person will learn to love them as much as a child who grows up on McDonald's will love Big Macs when they grow up.
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Monday, May 24, 2010

Vegan & Gluten Free Meal Plan for 24 May - 29 May

Here's this week's meal plan:

Pizza Night! (I bought Udi's gluten-free pizza crusts – pre-made and frozen, delish! He used Naan bread out of the package to make pizzas on.) Toppings: artichoke hearts, spinach, black olives, potatoes, pizza sauce (Mur Glen's), and Daiya.

Cornbread Stuffing
Potato Wedgies

Indian Food

Lasagna Rolls

Lentils of Doom

Tacos (probably potato and onion, but we'll throw in whatever we've got laying around)

Grocery List for the week:
Indian food
pizza crusts
tomato & pizza sauce
quinoa (bulk)
white potatoes
pablano peppers
cornbread mix
frozen corn
spray oil
spinach (bulk)
black pepper
artichoke hearts
baking potato
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Sunday, May 16, 2010

Vegan & Gluten Free Meal Plan for 16 May - 22 May

     Here's an old week's meal plan. We spent about $83 at Whole Foods. That's really good for a week's worth of organic, whole foods for breakfast, lunch, snacks, and dinner. We also ate a lot of potatos this week. A lot.

Burgers w/ Quinoa & lemon pepper broccoli
Canned Indian Food
Roasted vegetable pasta w/ Potato wedges
Risotto & Polenta
Potato & Leek Soup
Potato, bean, and onion curry
Potato & Onion Tacos

Grocery List
Sunshine Burgers
Yellow Onions (2)
Zucchini (2)
99c herbs (I got lemon thyme)
Toaster pastries
Poultry seasoning
Lunch for work (soups & rolls)
Salad dressing
Baking potato (1)
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Monday, May 3, 2010

Vegan & Gluten Free Meal Plan for 03 May - 08 May

     Here is another week long meal plan that I made back in May of this year. I no longer do it by the day as it seems that I begin to feeled obligated and tied down, even guilty if I do not follow the meal for the day.

Risotto with Mushroom and Kale Polenta

Mexican Baked Potatoes with Broccoli and Cheese (Daiya)

Canned Indian Food

Potato Soup

Fetuccini Alfredo with Vegetables

Red Lentil Curry

Grocery List:
Baking Potatoes
Green Onions
White rice – bulk
Salad Dressing
Indian Food
Red Potatoes
Zucchini (1 large)
Carrots (2 bunches/$3)
Coconut Milk (small can)
Mushrooms (4 or 5 buttons and Shiitake)
Onions (2 large)
Silken Tofu
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