New logo design for LYLT vintage shop with hand drawn elements.
I’m finally getting around to posting a gluten-free update a few months late, but hopefully with some helpful thoughts about what I’ve learned these past few months. First I’d like to point out that for the most part, this past month I’ve NOT been gluten free. I’d love to say it was part of my experimentation with gluten – testing how my body reacts with and without gluten etc, but the honest answer is I’ve just slacked after a few special occasions presented themselves.
Overall, I’m pretty unhappy with my body when I am “gluten-full” as my son calls it, but I think the break I gave my body for the time I did go without gluten made my symptoms more manageable this time around. I think this is partly why it’s been so easy to slack on my commitment to staying gluten free. I’m not happy to think that I’m reversing any healing that took place in my gut, so even writing this out makes me kinda bummed.
As far as difficulty, I didn’t find it terribly hard to consistently eat gluten free. I’m comfortable experimenting in the kitchen and so it felt like a fun opportunity to try new foods, and converting some of my staple family recipes into gluten-free versions was a fun challenge as well. Also, since I am thankfully just experiencing a sensitivity to gluten and not a full on intolerance it really wasn’t a stressful situation for me to adjust/omit menu items when I went out to eat either. I wasn’t for example, too concerned about food prep and possible cross-contamination, so that also made it a little easier.
I often thought about what a nightmare it would be though and I highly sympathize with those who do have to navigate socially with any type of food allergy. Because, really for the most part I didn’t find much cooperation from the food service workers I encountered and I felt they had an overall lack of knowledge on food allergies. I was encountered with many shrugs and “you’ll have to look at our website / speak to our manager /call this 1800 number” etc. each time I did go out to eat. With the exception of my local Wegman’s Food Market I really didn’t find many places that catered to gluten-free living.
That said, my intention from here on out is to continue to eat gluten free 90% of the time and only indulge on special occasions here and there. I absolutely feel better when my diet is clean (I know, duh). The fact of the matter is I sleep better, I’m not constantly bloated and uncomfortable, my skin clears up, and the aches in my bones go away and that makes it worthwhile. I didn’t find that it made much difference to my weight after the initial few pounds I lost mostly due to the fact that I lost much interest in snacking.
- 4 chicken breasts, butterflied and pounded until about 1/2 inch thick
- 1 pckg of frozen spinach 16oz (thaw out before use, or defrost in microwave if pressed for time)
- 1 pckg of feta crumbles
- 1 tablespoon grill seasoning
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 1 tablespoon coriander
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 2 pinches ground cinnamon
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- the juice of half of a lemon
- pinch of salt
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees
- 1. in a small bowl combine grill seasoning, cumin, chili powder, coriander, oregano and cinnamon
- 2. season chicken breasts on both sides with dry seasonings and set aside
- 3. combine feta crumbles, minced garlic, salt and lemon juice with the spinach and saute with one tbsp olive oil until heated through and garlic is fragrant
- 4. stuff each breast with 1/4 of the spinach and feta mixture and roll up the breast onto itself laying on a baking tray lightly brushed with the other tbsp of olive oil seam side down
- 5. Bake for 30 minutes and serve with Greek salad and sauteed green beans (suggestion)
- 3 lb stew beef cut into bite size chunks
- 1/3 cup of gluten free flour ( I used Betty Crocker gluten-free rice flour blend and it thickened up the stew beautifully)
- about 1/4 of a cup (maybe less) of olive oil for browning beef and sauteing vegetables
- 1 to 1 1/2 cups of red dry wine
- a few splashes of Worcestershire Sauce (be sure it's a gluten free brand, I used Lea and Perrins)
- 2 cups of chopped mushrooms (I used baby bellas)
- 1 cup of frozen or fresh pearl onions
- 2 cups of baby carrots
- 2 stalks of celery, chopped
- 2 pounds of red new potatoes, cut into uniform sized chunks
- 4 oz (almost a whole sm can) of tomato paste
- 6 beef bouillon cubes (I used herb-ox brand because it's gluten-free)
- 12 cups of water
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 tbsp kosher salt
- 1 tsp dried thyme
- coat the beef chunks in the flour blend until completely coated
- in a large skillet, brown the beef in batches adding a few tablespoons of oil as needed. Transfer to a large dutch oven.
- Saute the pearl onions and mushrooms in the same skillet again adding a few tablespoons of oil as needed until onions are translucent and mushrooms are softened. Transfer these to the dutch over with the beef.
- Deglaze the skillet with the wine making sure to scrape up all the brown bits and add to the dutch oven.
- Add potatoes, carrots, celery, salt, thyme, tomato paste, bouillons, water, a few splashes of Worcestershire Sauce, and bay leaves to the dutch oven and stir to incorporate all the tomato paste with the ingredients. Cover and simmer for 3 hours stirring every hour or so.
- I happen to not dig peas, so I used mushrooms in my recipe instead. But if you like, you can stir a bag of frozen peas 30 minutes before serving in addition to mushrooms, or in lieu of.
- Serve over white rice, or alone.
The theme this week unfortunately, is confusion. I’ve noticed that some of my symptoms have started coming back again, including the small rash I had on my chest. It’s much smaller than it was at it’s worst, but still, it’s there again in the same spot. I’ve not experienced much change in the brain fog/depression area, thankfully. Also, my joints and back are still ok. I’m still doing great with that.
I’m having trouble sleeping again (not sure if I mentioned that this was an issue before). Weight loss has halted and I’m feeling bloated again. Ugh. I’m paying close attention to what my body is trying to tell me, and I’m thinking that rice isn’t my friend anymore. I’ve had 2 occasions that I had rice and have experienced some discomfort, although I didn’t seem to have an issue with the rice pasta. I did have dairy creamer with my coffee on both of those occasions, but that didn’t seem to be an issue week one. Perplexing.
My energy level has tapered off and I’m feeling a little weak at times. I’m convinced that I am having some nutritional malabsorption issues. The only thing I can compare it to is when I was pregnant with my second child and I had low iron. I’m going to probably try going off all grains for a week and see if that helps any but if my weak spells continue I’m going to have to do what I loathe and head to the dr. for some testing to see what is going on there. Frustrating week, but onward.
- 2 cloves of garlic minced or crushed
- 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
- 2-3 tbsp olive oil
- 1/4 yellow or red onion minced
- 1 tsp minced parsley (optional, it just makes it pretty)
- 2 tbsp tomato sauce
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1/2 a package of rice noodles ( I used and loved Peacock brand)
- Soften noodles like regular pasta with salted water until they are "al dente" I boiled mine for about 5 minutes. I recommend breaking the noodles in half since they are very long.
- While they are softening, add minced garlic, onions and red pepper flakes to a pan and saute in the olive oil until onions are translucent. Drain and add the noodles into the pan. Stir in and continue heating through for around 2 minutes then add tomato sauce, salt and pepper to taste, and parsley. Serve and enjoy!
- A simple, and delicious way to curb a pasta craving! Source for rice pasta: Peacock Rice Spaghetti
I’m thinking I may start a separate blog for my gluten-free thoughts and recipes. Maybe later on at some point, for now this is all I can handle. My apologies for the sudden change in direction over here. It’s not permanent, just a new and exciting thing for me. Anyways, this past week has been interesting. Here are some thoughts and changes I’ve experienced one week into going gluten-free.
Rash on my chest that I’d started developing months ago is completely gone. (Kicking myself for not having taken a before picture!) I honestly thought it was from spraying my body spray onto that area of my body after showering daily and I even tried spraying over my clothes to see if it helped and it never went away or improved. So it’s so nice to see it completely disappear. This wasn’t a major concern for me, but it’s pretty impressive and one of the more outwardly noticeable changes I’ve experienced so far.
Cravings. The salty/sweet cravings are gone! My daily routine of heading to the pantry and refrigerator mindlessly throughout the day snacking on cheez-its, cookies, and all types of processed snacks has been almost TOO easy to kick. I swear I’m not even trying. I thought this would be much much harder since I have two daughters who both work in the food industry and are constantly bringing home food and pastries and snacks. When I tried to stay away in the past I really felt like I didn’t have a chance. I’m so pleased with how it’s going.
Depression. Ugh. I loathe to talk about my struggles with this demon but this has been the most amazing change that going gluten-free has brought and because I’m only a week in, I want to be very cautious about discussing my results thus far. I don’t know if it’s for fear of “jinxing” something or just that it’s too hard to talk about where I was before, but I’ve 100% experienced relief in this area. I’m hopeful and very grateful.
General Mind-Fog is the only way I can think of calling it. I’m experiencing great improvements in my ability to organize my thoughts. Just the fact that I’ve been able to sit and jot down a few recipes I’ve been trying out (like I always mean to do but usually never got around to) is cause for a mini celebration to me. I can’t tell you how many little things I didn’t get around doing because I just felt sluggish and just cobweb-in-the-brain all the time. Again, cautiously happy about my results.
Joint pain. Holy wow. I feel like I need to formally apologize to my mattress for all the blame I was placing on it for my daily back pain. My shoulders, my knees even my wrists feel so much better. I can compare it to the morning after my last gluten binge that I “treated” myself to before starting out on Oct. 11. I had a deli sub, I had noodles, I had cheez its, I just went nuts because I really thought I was going to say goodbye to an old friend and was bracing myself for something really difficult.
Well, the next morning I woke up really feeling the pain. My joints were KILLING me. I took an aleve as soon as I woke up because I didn’t think I’d be able to function. I couldn’t even fathom exercise. I felt like an old lady! Today I woke up, stretched and realized just how much better I’m feeling and I no longer blame my mattress for all the aches and pains. Sorry comfy bed!
Last but not least, this week I lost 4 pounds without even trying. NICE!
- 1/3 green pepper diced
- 1/2 yellow onion diced
- 1 tsp oregano
- 1tbsp olive oil
- 1/3 cup of white vinegar
- 2 chicken breasts, cut into 1 inch pieces
- 2 cups of white long grain rice
- 2 packets of Sazon Goya Natural Seasonings
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp adobo seasoning
- 1 tsp cilantro, minced
- 2 garlic cloves crushed
- 1/4 cup of tomato sauce
- 2 1/2 cups of water
- Season chicken with vinegar, oregano, garlic, and adobo. Saute in olive oil until golden brown on the outsides. Chicken will continue to cook in the rice so no need to make sure it's fully cooked at this point, just nicely browned.
- Add green pepper, onion, rice, tomato sauce, cilantro, seasoning packets, salt and water and bring to a boil. Continue boiling on med high heat until almost all the liquid is absorbed then cover and reduce heat to low for 20 minutes.
- 2 chicken breasts, poached in water seasoned with 1 tbsp of salt (or gluten free chicken bouillon cubes if you prefer. Hormel has a gluten free option)
- 1/2 cup of seedless red grapes, diced
- 1 golden delicious apple cored and diced
- 1/2 stalk of celery minced
- 1/2 cup of chopped pecans
- 1/4 cup chopped yellow onion
- 1 tsp curry powder
- 1/2 tsp paprika
- 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1/2 cup of Kraft brand classic Mayonnaise (gluten-free verified, but other brands may be as well)
- Pulse the poached chicken breasts in a food processor or blender until shredded. I had to pulse mine in smaller batches to ensure that all the chicken was chopped evenly. In a large bowl, mix all the ingredients and refrigerate for at LEAST an hour, but it's best the next day. Serve over a bed of lettuce, as lettuce wrap filling, or eat alone like I did- it's SO yummy!
- For the Chicken
- 2 chicken breasts, cut into small bite size chunks
- 1/2 cup of distilled white vinegar
- 1 tbsp adobo seasoning
- 1 tsp oregano
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- 1 tbsp of olive oil for sauteing
- In a large bowl, season chicken with vinegar, adobo, garlic and oregano. Mix well and saute in heated pan with tablespoon of olive oil. Cook until all the vinegar in the chicken is gone and chicken is lightly brown.
- For the Beans
- 2 cans of Goya brand black beans strained (this brand is gluten free)
- 1 large or 2 small cloves of garlic, crushed
- 1 tbsp minced cilantro
- juice of one large lemon
- 1/2 can of corn (most brands are gluten free, but be sure to check! I used Del Monte brand)
- pinch of salt to taste (optional)
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- Saute cloves of garlic and cilantro in olive oil until heated through and aromatic. Add cans of beans, 1/2 can of corn (reserve the other half for the rice) and lemon juice. On med high heat, cook the beans for about 10 minutes occasionally stirring. Add salt at the end, if needed. (The goya brand of beans I used really didn't need the salt, so I omitted but you may want to add it.
- For the Rice
- 2 cups of Uncle Ben's Natural Whole Grain Brown Rice
- 2 cups of water
- 2 Hormel Brand Herb-Ox Chicken Bouillon Cubes (this brand is gluten free)
- 1 packet of Sazon Goya Natural and Complete seasoning packets (optional)
- 1/2 can of corn
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1/4 green pepper, minced
- 1/4 yellow onion, minced
- 1 tbsp minced cilantro
- In a sauce pan with lid saute the onion, pepper, cilantro and corn in the olive oil. When onions and peppers are slightly softened add the 2 cups of rice, water, seasoning packet and bouillon cubes. When almost all the liquid is evaporated, cover the rice set the heat to low and cook for 20 minutes.
- For the Avocado and Tomato topping
- 1 avocado, crushed
- 1 tomato diced
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1/4 onion minced
- juice of one lemon
- 1 tbsp cilantro, minced
- salt to taste
- Combine all ingredients.
- Assembling your bowl
- Add a layer of rice, a layer of beans, a handful of your favorite lettuce mix (I used spring mix) a layer of the chicken, and top with a generous dollop of your avocado and tomato topping. Dig in!
I really need to re-shoot that picture. That’s a sad looking cantina bowl.