Don’t forget – I have moved!!

Don’t forget to update your links, readers, etc. I have moved my blog to http://www.glutenfreeislife.com/

Hope to see you all there!

Beach Bumming

We are currently on vacation at the beach for 2 weeks! This is one of my favorite times of the year. Getting here is a little stressful, preparing all the stuff we bring along and food that I make sure that Jon & I have with us so that we don’t go without. I bake extra bread, buy extra goodies and pack toasters & coffee makers.

The stores in the area are usually well stocked, but I hate to be unprepared. It is not in my nature. I am a planner at heart. We don’t eat out for the most part, maybe one or 2 meals, tops. It is much less expensive to cook at home and you don’t have to try to get a group of 10+ people sat down at one time in a busy restaurant. Not to mention trying to get a safe, gluten-free meal after that. I will update on the local stores once I hit them tomorrow. We just arrived today, so we just have the necessities right now. I am on the hunt for Chocolate Chex & the Betty Crocker GF Mixes. I won’t stop until I find them!

Tonight we will go for a nice walk along the beach and then stop for ice cream on the way home. I love this place…you can walk everywhere and that means that you work off your dessert or at least feel better about indulging. ;) The great thing about this ice cream place is that since we have been coming here for so many years, the women that work there know that Jon & I have to eat GF and know to grab clean ice cream scoops as they see us walk in the door, even if it is the first time of the year! Love that!!!

As I sign off tonight, I am sitting on our porch looking out over the ocean with a nice glass of cabernet. Ahhhhh!!

Nut Butter Freak

That would be me. A freak. I can’t get enough of my nut butters. I really haven’t met one that I haven’t liked…yet. My favorite is Barney Butter, as I have said before. But, then you have peanut butters & the flavored peanut butters. My favorite plain peanut butter is Skippy Natural….creamy & super spreadable. My favorite flavored peanut butter is PB & Co’s Dark Chocolate Dreams, though the Smooth Operator is a great “normal” creamy PB. I have also tried the While Chocolate Wonderful (YUM) & Mighty Maple (another YUM). I think what sparked me to write this post was the fact that I actually deviated from my nut butter filled breakfast! GASP! What was I thinking? I was thinking that I have this yogurt & open cereal that I need to finish before we leave for 2 weeks. So, breakfast was a yogurt mess bowl made up of vanillia Oikos, Mesa Sunrise & Barbara’s Honey Puffins. Yummy, no doubt, but not nut butter. Guess what I will be needing for lunch or afternoon snack? LOL!

Speaking of peanut butter, Gliding Calm is holding her first ever giveaway and it involves peanut butter! WOOHOOO!! You can get the info needed to enter here. So, if you are a PB fan, like me, head on over & sign up! :)

Weekly Meal Plan ~ December 7, 2008

Phew….what a whirlwind the last week has been! The surprise party is over and I can relax! I talk to my Mom on the phone daily and it was SO hard to make sure that I didn’t spill the beans to her!

This week is busy, but not as busy as the last week. A couple of hockey practices and the last figure skating class of the year. Cookie baking and such. I have been wanting to make Mexican Pizzas for a couple of weeks, but can’t find any Tostada shells other than the massive package of 100 or so. Ortega & Old El Paso both used to make them, but I can’t find them anywhere! I have looked at 3 stores minimum. I don’t know what the deal is. I guess I will have to look online. We prefer these over tacos. I guess I could make my own…..

On the menu:

Sunday ~ Baked Salmon with Sweet Thai Chile Sauce, brown rice, sauteed zuchinni/mushroom/grape tomatoe medley and spinach salad

Monday ~ Spaghetti w/meat sauce, steamed broccoli, garlic english muffin halves & salad

Tuesday ~ Baked Chicken Fingers, Sweet Potato Fries and spinach salad

Wednesday ~ Dinner out after hockey & figure skating

Thursday ~ Roast Chicken, mashed Yukon Gold potatoes, roasted brussel sprouts & salad

Friday ~ Homemade pizza, steamed carrots and salad

Saturday ~ Breakfast for dinner (pancakes or French Toast) and bacon or eggs.

I have seen others include breakfast & lunch in their plans, but I do the same thing daily for myself…I am extremely OCD like that. ;) That would bore you to see it written out, so I will do it once…I eat brown rice cakes with Skippy Natural PB & fruit spread or Peanut Butter & Co.’s Dark Chocolate Dreams & Black Cherry Fruit Spread; egg whites, basil & grape tomatoes. Jon has cinnamon toast on Pamela’s bread or Instant Breaky. Hannah….who knows. It changes by the minute.

Lunches for me vary based on leftovers.

Baked Goods for the Week

Chocolate Chip Cookies
Gingerbread
Remarkable Fudge

Okay, I am off. Have a great week!

Honey Baked Lentils

About a month or so ago, I bought a package of green lentils from Whole Foods. I didn’t buy them for any specific reason other than I wanted to give them a try in something other than a canned soup. I hadn’t really narrowed down a recipe until this week, when I was reminded of a recipe that a friend shared for Honey Baked Lentils. This sounded perfect! I even had a spaghetti squash in the fridge that I could use as a base for the lentils. The best thing about this recipe is that it is gluten-free in it’s natural state. I love running across recipes like this!

Honey Baked Lentils
**Original recipe courtesy of Kay, modified slightly by me

1 cup lentils
2 cups water (I used 1 cup chicken broth, 1 cup water)
2 TBSP Honey
2 TBSP Soy Sauce (I used La Choy Low-Sodium)
2 TBSP Olive Oil
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1 clove garlic (I used 1/4 tsp garlic powder)
1 small onion (I omitted this b/c I can’t eat onions)
salt & pepper

Preheat oven to 350. Mix all liquid ingredients in a bowl and whisk well. Add rinsed lentils and bake, covered, for an hour and a half or until tender. You can also saute and throw in veggies, or sub in a bit of rice for some of the lentils. **I threw in some steamed carrots to my bowl of spaghetti squash & lentils.

Top Ten Healthiest Foods on the Planet

I get a daily email update from Mind, Body & Spirit Fitness and one of the links in the email the other day was the Top Ten Healthiest Foods on the Planet. I was pleasantly surprised to see that all of these foods were gluten-free!!! YAY!! Not only that, but these were all foods that I eat on a very regular basis. I guess I am doing something right, huh??

Easy Enchilada Bake ~ Gluten-Free

This recipe is one that was passed onto me from my sister. I think my sister got it from her sister-in-law. I made a few changes, due to foods that I can’t eat and that my family won’t eat. This is a fan favorite in our house. It is easy to put together and reheats very well.

Whole Casserole:

My serving:

Easy Enchilada Bake

1 pound ground meat (I used turkey, but beef or chicken would work fine too)
Taco seasoning for the meat
1-2 cans refried beans (I used organic black refried beans)
2 cans Hormel Chili w/Beans (With Beans is Gluten-Free, I am not sure about the others)
10 – 12 corn tortillas
Cheddar Cheese (I used almost 2 cups)

1. Brown ground meat and add taco seasoning per directions on packet or container.
2. Preheat oven to 350 and warm up your beans and chili.
3. Warm your tortillas up in micro according to pkg. directions.
4. Spread a little chili (not too much, you need to top the whole casserole with chili at the end) in the bottom of a glass pyrex dish.
5. Start to assemble your enchiladas: tortilla, beans, meat, cheese…then roll up and place seam side down in pyrex dish. Repeat until you are done. I do 6-8 length wise, then I stuff the remainder in along the side.
6. Top with remaining chili and then cheese. Cover and bake for 30 – 45 minutes or until cheese is all melty and casserole is bubbly.
7. Let cool for 5-10 minutes; cut and serve.

YUM! Enjoy! You can add in onions, olives, tomatoes, green chiles, peppers, etc. I don’t b/c my peeps won’t eat them if they spot any of the above. Top with sour cream and/or salsa. I personally like to add lots of Frank’s Red Hot. ;)

Meal Plan Monday ~ October 27, 2008

Another busy week ahead. Hockey practice, ice skating, hockey games and I am having surgery on Friday, hopefully in the AM. It is an outpatient procedure, so I hope to be home before the kids get home from school. I have to have my left sub-mandibular salivary gland removed b/c I have a small cyst on it. Apparently the only way to tell if the cyst is malignant or not is to remove it. Nice. Anyway, enough about that. My focus this week is just on getting through the week. Tonight, Sunday, we had leftovers. :) There is no “main” ingredient this week. I am planning on 2 desserts/baked goods to have made before Friday. That way I have treats, along with candy from Halloween, to snack on while recovering. ;)

Sunday ~Leftovers (pork loin roast, creamy pumpkin brown rice & veggies)

Monday ~ Salmon (most likely grilled), sweet potatoes (probably baked), steamed green beans & salad

Tuesday ~ Filet Mignon on the grill, baked potatoes, sauteed zucchini & salad

Wednesday ~ Eating out after skating & hockey

Thursday ~ Roast chicken, garlic mashed potatoes, veggies & salad

Friday ~ Whatever my Mom makes or gets take out, maybe Pei Wei.

Saturday ~ My Mom is making her homemade beef pot pie, gluten-free. I can’t wait!!! :)

Baked goods for the week:

Pumpkin Raisin Bread
Homemade Chocolate Pudding (recipe by GingerLemonGirl)
Pumpkin Pudidng (this is a Jell-O mix that I came across…..you all know I am a sucker for pumpkin!)

Menu Plan Monday ~ October 12, 2008 – October 18,2008

Okay, so my plan really starts on Sunday, so it really should be called “Menu Plan Sunday”. It just sounds so much better when you say “Menu Plan Monday”. Don’t you think? Whatever. Hockey is ramping up, fall is here, the busy season is among us. This usually means Mom runs around like a chicken with her head cut off. Jon had his first set of 2 scrimmages this morning beginning at 7:40 AM. Yes, I said AM. Yes, it is Sunday. 7:40 is actually not early when you are talking about hockey and ice time schedules. You want early? How about having to be at the rink at 5:30 AM? Thank goodness the rink is 5 minutes from our house and that is where we usually play or have practice.

Jon goes Wednesday morning to get this current cast off. Thank God. If you have any idea how bad hockey equipment smells, then you know what his cast smells like. No, I am not getting my nose up real close like and smelling it. I can smell it from the other side of the room. Okay, so it isn’t that bad. But, if you sit close enough to him on the couch you can detect an odd odor coming from his area. Hopefully he won’t have to get a new cast. That will all really depend on what the x-rays show. At the very least, if he does have to get a new cast, at least it won’t stink right away. Give him a few weeks to stink it up really good.

Somehow this chatter isn’t getting me any closer to my menu plan. Sorry. The 2 glasses of Cabernet I had probably aren’t helping matters. They did help me relax. :) So, simple is my theme this week. No complicated or “new” menu items. Can’t handle it this week. Will I bake? Proabably b/c I have to get my sweet fix and I ran out of my Trader Joe’s Chocolate Meringue Cookies and TJ’s is too far away. Also, my Edy’s Slow-Churned Pumpkin Ice Cream is almost gone. Yeah, I could get more. Wal-Mart up the street carries it. Do I really need it? Ask me tomorrow. Today my sweet treat was a Heath Bar. YUM! I haven’t had one since last Halloween. I had the full-size baby too! I considered having half after lunch and then half after dinner and then reasoned with myself that I deserved the whole thing (went to the gym this AM) and that if I ate all the calories right then after lunch, I had a better chance of burning them off the rest of the day. Like my reasoning? Works for me.

Here we go:

Sunday ~ Burgers (with mushroom, bacon & cheddar), sweet potato fries, broccoli & salad

Monday ~ Grilled Garlic & Dill Salmon, brown rice or quinoa, roasted brussel sprouts for moi, mixed veggies for the picky ones

Tuesday ~ Grilled BBQ Chicken Breasts, spaghetti squash, sauteed snow peas in sesame oil & salad

Wednesday ~ out with Inlaws for FIL’s b-day

Thursday ~ Apricot Glazed Pork Loin, Garlic Mashed Potatoes, Roasted Brussel Sprouts & Salad

Friday ~ Homemade Pizza with Fenster’s Crust (topped with veggies for me & pepperoni for the kids & DH), steamed carrots & salad.

Saturday ~ Sweet & Sour Chicken with broccoli & brown rice.

Baked Goodies

Work on creating a Cranberry Cream Cheese Bread or Muffin
Chocolate Crinkles
Some kind of Coffee Cake for Jon
bagels from Pamela’s Mix
Pamela’s Bread (baking right now..YUM)

Don’t forget to check out GF Goodness for more GF menu plans. Thanks Cheryl for hosting. :) Also, you can check out Org Junkie for even more menu plans, GF and not GF.

What Do You Eat?

This is usually the first thing out of peoples mouths when I tell them that I can’t eat any gluten. Actually, it is more like the 2nd thing, after they ask what exactly gluten is. I don’t usually run around telling everyone I meet that I can’t have gluten. It most often comes up in conversations pertaining to my son when his friend’s parents want to have him over or take him out to eat. Talk about a way to scare off new friends in a hurry! LOL! It has also come up at restaurants when servers or managers get curious and ask what I eat since I can’t have bread and pasta. I love to educate people on Celiac and the gluten-free diet. The more people that know about it, I feel, the better off all of us who have to follow a gluten-free diet will be. Not only that, but for those who ask about symptoms and how we figured out we had Celiac, they are now more aware of the disease and if it might be something that effects them or their friends & family. Now, my husband does not share my love of educating the public on Celiac and the gluten-free diet. He rolls his eyes and smiles (a little fake-like) when he detects me going into my spiel to the server, manager or parent of Jon’s friend. What can I say, I am passionate about things that involve myself or my family, and I like to help people.

Anyway, back to the question. What do you eat? When I first started my blog, I came up with a list of favorites for Jon & I. This shares more of the foods we use to replace the gluten-filled ones we can’t have. It doesn’t really show what we eat day-to-day. So, I thought that I would share a menu and some photos of what I eat day-to-day.

First up, breakfast. Breakfast for me is usually the same every day. What can I say, I am a creature of habit and I don’t like change. I typically have 2 brown rice cakes topped with either Skippy Natural Peanut Butter or Almond butter and some kind of 100% fruit spread. This picture shows me also having a bowl of fresh fruit with it, I have stopped that b/c the fruit was bothering my stomach for some reason. I now have 2-3 egg whites and grape tomatoes topped with fresh basil.

Jon usually has pancakes or cinnamon toast. Here are a picture of some pancakes. I usually make these once a week and package into individual ziplocks, 3 per bag, and freeze.

Snacks for me are usually one in the AM and one in the late afternoon. I usually eat every 3 hours or so. 3 bigger meals and 2 snacks. I find this helps keep my blood sugar stable and I don’t end up absolutely starving by my next meal. I also find that I need the energy to keep going. I usually go to the gym 6 days a week and I have to keep refueling throughout the day. Snacks vary day-to-day. I like cereal (Rice Chex, Envirokidz Gluten-Free Cereals, GF Oatmeal), Lara Bars, Cheese & Crackers (Diamond Nut Thins and Laughing Cow Swiss is my fav) or Enjoy Life Snack Bars. Jon will have cereal, Lara Bars, cookies, Nabisco Fruit Snacks or Carnation Instant Breakfast.

Cream Hill Estates GF Oats with Enjoy Life Granola & Blueberries

Lunches also vary day-to-day, but most times consist of sandwiches, veggies, salads and maybe some chips of some sort. If we have leftovers, sometimes I will eat those. I make my sandwiches on Pamela’s Amazing Wheat Free Bread most of the time. If I have bagels or GF French Rolls from Trader Joe’s, I will use those for melts or a bigger sandwich. Here is an example of what I had yesterday. I made a sandwich on Pamela’s Bread with cream cheese, Hillshire Farm Ultra Thin sliced Cracked Pepper Turkey and fresh spinach; on the side I had a veggie medley of okra, zucchini, yellow squash & grape tomatoes; I also sliced up a garden tomato and topped with fresh grated parmesan and fresh basil and completed my meal with some Smart Puffs, Wisconsin Cheddar, made by Robert’s American Gourmet.

Afternoon snacks are much like the ones in the AM. Sometimes I will get a non-fat Latte from Starbucks or Caribou as my “snack”. Like now, they have the seasonal Pumpkin Spice Latte.

Dinners obviously vary day to day. There are so many options out there that I never get bored and often find myself faced with too many choices and recipes when I do my weekly meal planning. I try to plan out meals on Sundays (watch for the weekly posts on Mondays) and then go shopping for the week. I start by seeing what meats I have in my freezer or what meats are on sale and build my menu around those. This helps me from buying too much food or letting things go bad b/c I forget they are there. We eat lots of brown rice (jasmine, short grain and basmati), potatoes (baked, mashed, sweet, roasted) and veggies. I make corn bread, foccacia or rolls to go with our meals if needed. I try to serve a meat or meat substitute, 1 -2 veggies and/or rice/potato. One staple that doesn’t change is salad. I will eat a salad with dinner 9 times out of 10. It is a great way to get a good 2-3 servings of fresh veggies for me and I love them! I use spinach mixed with other darker salad greens or romaine and add in all kinds of fresh veggies like mushrooms, tomatoes or grape tomatoes, zucchini, carrots, cucumber, green beans, black beans and occasionally cheese. I switch up my dressings to keep it interesting. I really like Kraft’s Light French dressing. I also use T. Marzetti’s Light Honey French (YUM), Kraft’s Light Ranch, Balsamic Vinaigrette and Ken’s Steakhouse Raspberry Walnut Spray. Here is a shot of a typical salad with the Light French dressing:

Desserts are not every night treats, but we do have something several times per week. I like Trader Joe’s Meringue Cookies or Edy’s Slow Churned Ice Creams (Pumpkin is a current fav). If I have been a baking fool, we will eat those goodies for dessert.

So, as can be seen here, there is plenty for those who have to follow a gluten-free diet to eat. I don’t miss many (read: any) meals. When I was first on the gluten-free diet, I easily got discouraged and frustrated when it came to eating and found myself eating the same thing every day….brown rice, black beans, cheese and tortilla chips. I quickly realized that I couldn’t live on that forever and embraced the opportunity to concentrate on all of the foods I could have. :)

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