Tuesday, December 27, 2011

It's Like I'm High-End Homeless...

I'm basically living out of a duffle bag this holiday week. I traveled across the country via plane, and am now traveling across a state via car. If you, like me, are spending a lot of time in transit this holiday season, here are a couple of quick, car- and plane- friendly snack ideas:

1. Annie's Gluten Free Bunny Cookies - Low-mess little treats that are great for snacking. 
2. Luna Protein Bars - I can't remember if I've recommended these before, but they're hearty and great for traveling. Not all flavors are gluten-free, though.
3. Popchips - Savory snacks that play well with upset tummies. I'm not sure if all flavors are gluten-free. 
4. Nature Valley Nut Crunch Bars - These tuck nicely into purses and backpacks. They may shatter, but they're basically just nuts so the bars maintain their taste and texture integrity even if they're in pieces. 

And if you're looking for some fast food, here are links to gluten-free options from Wendy's and Chipotle

Happy Travels!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Happy Holidays!

This week go away from me. As I am sitting at my desk, eating my late lunch, I realized that it is Thursday already. The winter solstice is here, Hanukkah is in full swing, Christmas is in a couple of days, and Kwanzaa is rapidly approaching, too. Where did 2011 go? I am not prepared for the End of Times in 2012... I only have one publication and haven't been to confession since high school. But before we go putting carts before horses with insert-a-geddon, take a moment this holiday season to appreciate whatever life has given you and to let the people who you care about know that you care. 

May your holiday season bring happy memories, glutard accommodations, and a break from work! Best wishes for the end of 2011 and the start of 2012!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Get That Outta Here! More Tips on Avoiding Cross-Contamination

I still don't have anything nice to say, but I'll point you in the direction of a post that came across my Google Reader* this morning about tips for avoiding cross-contamination: http://www.celiact.com/blog/2011/12/12/73-gluten-free-kitchen-avoid-cross-contamination A lot of it overlaps with tips and tricks I've mentioned before, but you get the point. You can see that I'm not making this (sometimes inconvenient) sh*t up. 

If you don't subscribe to the CeliAct blog, it might be worth checking out. BEWARE that they are trying to sell you supplements. Supplements are a good idea when you're missing a major food group, but DON'T feel obligated to buy their formulas. I'm healthy as an asthmatic horse** and I only take whatever multivitamin is cheapest plus a B vitamin blend since many gluten-free grains aren't fortified like wheat flour is. But they aren't just selling products on their blog. I don't always find the blog useful, but I do like seeing their headlines, which often point me toward good things to know. Its nice to see what's going on in the glutard world and they write about things I wouldn't have thought to look up on my own. As long as I'm making recommendations, Celiac.com has some blog posts worth perusing, too. 

*Google Reader is how I subscribe to blogs. Even though the Almighty Google recently overhauled Reader and removed some of my favorite features, it is a great free service that has a user-friendly Android interface. 
**It's not like their supplements can cure asthma anyway. This should be obvious, but I am still feeling a little stabby, which makes me skeptical of everyone's intelligence, even my own. 

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year...

Oh hey there. I'm in a bus, blogging on the run today thanks to my uber-busy schedule. 
Impending finals and holiday shopping stress have left me feeling kind of stabby. I have been told many times, "if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all," so I have no post for you this week. If there's anything you'd like to see me address on the blog, let me know. Maybe I'll write a post. Maybe I won't. Only way to find out is to submit a topic.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Going Gluten-Free at Sporting/Concert Venues

There's been a recent uptick in the number of concerts and sporting events I'm attending, which means I've spent more time than usual at arenas. Unfortunately, arenas are rarely good settings for gluten-free fare. 

As always, what you can eat depends on the willingness of the staff to accommodate you and your judgment of if you think said staff will be able to get it right. Be attentive. Don't be afraid to ask questions. But if you know you're going to have a lot of questions, I recommend waiting to search for food until lines die down. The last thing you need are a bunch of rabid sports fans upset with you because you stand between them and their beer and hot dog. 

So with the usual caveats about being careful, I recommend seeing if the concession stand can give you a 100% beef hotdog without a bun. No fillers = no problem! Explain that you have an allergy, aka that they can't just peel a lukewarm dog out of a bun -- it has to be a clean dog. They're usually able to wrap a naked dog in foil and send you on your way. If they don't have plastic forks and knives for you to use to devour with your dog, feel free to wander around to other stands. I've had to rely on spoons before from ice cream stands, but it isn't like I was cutting real meat. Or you could be manly and just eat the dog with your bare hands. I've done that before, too. Note that the "manly" option is not particularly attractive on dates. ...Unless you can eat a hotdog seductively in a stadium full of people? I dunno. Don't try it. Just eat your damn dog. 

Aside from the bunless-wonders, there isn't much for glutards to eat at typical arenas. Some arenas will offer higher-end concession options like salads, chicken sandwiches, or ice cream, which may or may not be glutard friendly or adaptable. If they have fries, you could ask if they're cooked in the same oil as chicken strips, onion rings, etc. You could also ask about the nachos, but be warned that nachos are a real heartbreaker. If the squirty nacho cheese is safe, then the chips will be unsafe; if the chips are safe, then further inspection will reveal that the cheese is not. Hopes raised; hopes dashed. Maybe you'll have better luck than I've had, though. Hopes raised! 

Otherwise you can drink a ton of soda and hope that fills you up. Spoiler alert: It probably won't. Or, and I am NOT advocating for this, you could try to stealthily sneak in a snack. This is probably against the rules, so don't do it unless you know the venue allows it. Or, even better, you could try to eat beforehand. Fill yourself up so you can sport out/rock out without having to worry about concession stand food. This last option gives you the extra advantage of not having to miss any of the game/concert waiting in line or reading ingredient lists. 

Game on!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Gluten-Free Chocolate-Covered Cherry Holiday Cookies!

I'm in the holiday spirit already, folks. It doesn't usually get me this early, but there's something special about being in love around the holidays. ...You can barf now if you need to. I still haven't found a great recipe for gluten-free sugar cookies, so today I am sharing a new favorite recipe from my mom to kick off the holiday treat season!

Gluten-Free Chocolate-Covered Cherry Holiday Cookies!

1 1/2 cups flour (I like Gluten Free Pantry's all-purpose flour blend)
1/2 cup cocoa
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 1/2 tsp vanilla

10 oz jar maraschino cherries, drained (reserve juice)

1 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk

Mix the first chunk of ingredients into a dough. Shape dough into 1" balls and place on cookie sheet. Press down center with thumb & place cherry in the center of each cookie. 

In a small saucepan, combine chocolate chips & sweetened condensed milk. Melt together over low heat until smooth. Remove from heat and stir in 4 tbsp of the reserved cherry juice. Spoon about 1 tbsp of this frosting-like mixture over each cherry to cover cherry. If the frosting is too thick, you can thin it out with more cherry juice. 

Bake at 350 degrees for about 10 min or until done.


Friday, November 25, 2011

Turkey Leftovers?

If you, like I, have about 12 pounds of turkey in your refrigerator, consider converting your leftovers into one of my two favorite day-after-Thanksgiving-meals:

(1) open-faced hot turkey sandwiches with gravy and cold cranberry


(2) jambalaya

(1) is possibly my favorite meal of the year. Hot, juicy, satisfying. But one does not really need to eat 24-36 leftover turkey sandwiches. One will probably get sick of them. Plus, one does not want to go bankrupt purchasing gluten-free bread or rolls. Enter (2). 

(2) will blow one's mind. Yesterday, one had a tame little turkey that tasted like holidays. Today, that turkey has reincarnated as spicy, sassy, cajun turkey. The newly-saucy turkey (think Sandy from Grease) mingles with some hot sausage (Danny Zuko, naturally) in this reboot of a classic holiday tradition. This jambalaya recipe makes about 187 pounds, so either invite everyone over for Thanksgiving The Sequel: Friendsgiving or prepare your stomach/freezer for 24-36 servings of jambalaya. 

Either way, you won't be sorry. :)

PS: Every time I type "jambalaya" today, it comes out "jambalamba." I blame the tryptophan. 

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

Just like every other day, I am thankful for the many wonderful people in my life and all of the amazing opportunities I've had thus far. But tomorrow I get to be thankful and share a meal with a subset of my favorite people. YUM! I have discretely sewn elastic into the waistband of my jeans, so I am ready. Bring on the food, family, and friends!

Here are some of my favorite alternatives to glutenous Thanksgiving dishes:
Quinoa Stuffing with Leeks, Walnuts, and CherriesQuinoa is great, duh! Your traditional relatives may be suspicious, but encourage them to try it! Subbing in dried cranberries instead of cherries is a way to make this more consistent with the traditional cranberry-infused fare. Also, you can easily make this vegetarian by using vegetable broth instead of chicken broth.

Pumpkin Cheesecake with Gluten Free Crumb Crust. Ok, so this simple recipe isn't gluten-free, but it is easily modifiable. To make it friendly for us, I recommend making your own crust using 1.5 cups of crumbled Kinnikinnick's gluten free graham crackers or Trader Joe's gluten free ginger snaps mixed with 6 tbsp butter. The filling should be gluten free anyway, but be sure to check your labels!

You can make a mean gravy by using corn starch instead of regular flour as a thickener. 

Leftover turkey? Make a mean open-faced turkey and gravy sandwich on some slices of Udi's gluten free bread

Many other sides are either gluten free by nature (e.g., mashed potatoes) or can be modified (e.g., green bean casserole), so I hope everyone has a holiday full of happy eating! And if you're feeling generous and are able, consider making a donation to a food pantry or homeless shelter this holiday season. Everyone deserves a warm meal! 

Friday, November 18, 2011

This Has To Stop

I was getting ready to go to work this morning when I caught the end of a story about a 10 year old girl who committed suicide, possibly related to bullying. This is not an isolated incident. And we're not just talking about suicide. Bullying can also lead to violenceI just want to take a teeny bit of blog space to reiterate the message of the It Gets Better campaign and let y'all know that it doesn't only apply to LGBT bully-victims, but it is true for everyone. 

Social hierarchies are vicious. As a former bully-victim, I want everyone out there to know that it can get so much better. I was an ugly child, I was too skinny, I was a nerd who wore glasses, I dressed only for comfort, and my parents weren't sitting atop a pile of money. Kids noticed. I was teased pretty relentlessly throughout elementary school. But IT GOT BETTER. I am really grateful for those kids who were wise beyond their years and didn't just hop on the bullying bandwagon. I am also extremely grateful for my parents, who from a very early age told me that some people are just assholes, and that I shouldn't take their shit to heart. You, too, are important and can do or be anything you want to be -- anyone who thinks otherwise can 'take a flying ride on a rolling donut,' as my dad would say. I'm still too skinny, I am still a nerd who wears glasses, I still primarily dress for comfort, and no one in my family is sitting atop a pile of money yet. But I've managed to build a life surrounded by people who don't care about that stuff -- they care about me.   

If it doesn't get better on its own, you can make it better. Talk to your parents, siblings, cousins, aunts and uncles, teachers, sympathetic classmates, counselors -- anyone you trust. Find the people who support you and spend your time with them. Be strong. Know that you are not alone. Lots of us endure bullshit, and you, too, can come out on the other end with the power to break the chain. And remember, the minute you graduate, you can move. You'll be mobile enough to find the people who are mature and secure enough to accept you for who you are. Because we're out here and we're rooting for you! 

Monday, November 14, 2011

Aack! Aack! It's a Busy Bee

I didn't forget about you. I've just been traveling. And working. And night-working. And studying. You're getting this post a day early because I also have a friend coming to town tomorrow and more friends arriving later in the week. Because of that, this is going to function as both last week's and this week's post. 

Being a glutard on a busy schedule can be hard since there aren't nearly as many convenience options available for people following gluten-free diets. The options that are available tend to be expensive and I tend to feel guilty after a few days worth of Amy's/Trader Joe's finest glutard-friendly frozen meals and grocery store sushi. 

After chasing a lunch of grocery store sushi with my 25th consecutive dinner of poor-itos, I realized that I really ought to get better about feeding myself. Normally, I cook a big, well-balanced meal on Sunday and that is enough to cover lunch or dinner for half of the week. I supplement that meal by picking up simple things for the other meals, including salad fixings or sandwich materials. Between traveling, work, and housework, however, I haven't had time to cook anything, and there definitely hasn't been time to plan meals. I could eat pasta or stir fry, but those are not inspiring me. I could eat a bowl of broccoli, but that also isn't particularly inspiring. I could go to Wendy's or Chipotle, but I've been keeping odd hours. So how will I feed myself???

Here's my plan. I haven't field-tested it, so I don't know if it will work. This will be exciting, like an experiment or an adventure! We'll get some new data and analyze it and have some new tidbit of information that will teach us more about how to successfully feed me! 

The Plan:


I lied. I don't have a plan. I have nothing to test (and nothing to eat!). Sometimes I don't have energy to divert to cooking and I end up eating bowls of microwaved broccoli for dinner. Anyone want to come over and cook me dinner??? Anyone have any ideas for QUICK gluten-free meals that require little in the way of prep or ingredients? Please feel free to drop suggestions in the comments. 

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Opinions About Food: Udi's Gluten Free Sandwich Bread

Are you currently living in a tent due to the economic downturn? Are you currently living in a tent because you're occupying Wall St/Boston/Iowa City? If you're living in a tent for any reason, I've got great news for you! Udi's Gluten Free Breads are satisfying even without toasting!

Pros: Udi's breads taste good and they hold up slightly better than other breads. These breads don't have any of the weird beany, metallic, or odd flavors that some gluten-free baked goods have. These breads also lack the grainy texture of some gluten-free breads and bread-like products. I had a hamburger between two slices of their white sandwich bread and it crumbled/got soggy/disintegrated slower than typical gluten-free breads. I was able to eat about half of my burger before reverting to a knife and fork! Progress! It also makes a damn fine grilled cheese sandwich. This bread also freezes well, in case you don't eat a lot of bread.

Cons: The loaves are tiny. I felt like Gulliver eating  Lilliputian sandwiches. But the Glutenless Goddess don't care (That's a Honey Badger reference for those of you who aren't on top of old viral videos... NSFW). 

Go forth and fill your tent with Udi's bread. If you live in a high-end tent, go ahead and fill your breadbasket. 

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Dating Gluten-Free

Pretty much everyone I know who reads this blog is neither dating, nor a glutard, but I thought I'd throw two cents at this topic anyway. Dating can be particularly tricky since many dates involve food and you may or may not feel like talking to strangers about your dietary regimen. Remember, it is ALWAYS up to you if you want to tell others about your food allergy, and it is up to you if you trust other people to prepare food for you.

I usually tell dates about my gluten intolerance. This way they understand why I am so picky about restaurants and food. While this has generally worked well for me, I have encountered some guys who could not deal with it. One guy did not want to go on a second date with me because he did not want to be part of this lifestyle. Fine, I understand that it is both difficult and intimidating. A different guy asked me an inappropriate question that I won't repeat here. That was just weirdsies. Sometimes I just didn't feel like talking about it, so I didn't tell the guy and was just secretly vigilant about my food. Most guys just ask a lot of questions and look a little terrified. This is normal and shouldn't freak YOU out. ...After all, most guys exists on pizza and beer alone for the majority of their 20s. If nothing else, a gluten sensitivity gives you something to talk about and you can educate another person. The more people we educate, the more people may be equipped to feed us! 

If you don't want to disclose your food allergy but still want to eat, you have a few options: (1) Obviously, you could offer to pick the restaurant. I tend to do this, since I know more than novices do about gluten intolerance (and most things. I'm a Dr, you know :P). I've also been accidentally poisoned so many times that I am kind of a control freak about my food. (2) You could do some sleuthing in advance by calling a restaurant and asking them if they can accommodate you and what they recommend. Both strategies spare you some of the questioning that typically happens when trying a restaurant you know nothing about. (3) You could also do non-food stuff, like coffee, or bowling, or trampoline dodgeball (which is apparently a thing). (4) If you're feeling lucky (and I am not the type of person that is inclined to hit that Google button), you can arm your date with some info and let them choose. This is risky, but I've done this before and it has been okay. ...But usually after I've known someone for more than a date or two. 

Bottom line, because I have to rush to catch my bus: If anyone gives you shit about your allergy, they ain't worth your time. Find someone who is willing to learn and who'll learn to deal, because you're worth it. There are plenty of good guys (and gals!) out there. 

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

There's Nothing Scary About A Gluten-Free Halloween!

Well, well, well... Look who finally decided to show up. Yeah, it's me. The past two weeks have been jam-packed with laptop malfunctions, so my after-hours productivity has mostly ground to a screeching halt. The gabillionth trip to the Apple store has me feeling optimistic that it was the final trip. After all, we are running out of parts to replace. 

Let me take a moment to give MOUNDS OF PRAISE to the kind folks at the Apple Genius Bar. Unlike my customer service experiences with Windows products, the people at Apple have been nice and helpful and have been willing to try to solve my problems ASAP rather than routing me through a phone tree that leads to hell. They believe me when I tell them that I've already restarted my computer twice and it didn't fix things. They give me little troubleshooting tips so I can learn to fix things on my own. They've even tried to figure out what the problem is before checking to see if I'm still under warranty. It is great to see my customer service/repair person in person and watch them try to fix my compu-beast, and to see them bump me up to the front of the line because I've been there recently. But this isn't a post about my love for Apple. This isn't even a post about my love for apples, even though I've gone apple picking twice in the past three weeks. This is a post about the opposite of apples. Instead of keeping doctors away, today we're going to talk about keeping your dentist in business. 

Admittedly, holidays in which it is customary for other people to give me food make me nervous as a glutard. I can never REALLY be certain that the people (who always mean well) didn't do something to accidentally poison me. Halloween is great, though, because treats typically come packaged. While each individual snack-size piece of candy may not have ingredients on it, the treats tend to be easily Google-able. Clearly, glutards want to avoid anything like Kit-Kats, Twix, or Take5's, which clearly contain cookies/pretzels and therefore are unsafe. There are tons of great glutard-friendly candies, though, so you won't even miss the mess that Twix make if you happen to sit on one that you left on your chair. For your Halloween-candy-binge convenience, I am linking to this list of Gluten Free Halloween candies. As always, I make absolutely no promises about the accuracy of the contents of this list. And as always, I am going to implore you to check every label of every food before you put it in your candy-hole. So don't sue me. But this list is a great place to start if you're looking for ideas. My personal favorite Halloween treats include Reese's Peanut Butter Cups (although if the special pumpkin-shaped ones are anything like the heart-shaped ones, keep your eyes peeled for wheat flour ::shrugs in disgust::), Almond Joys, Swedish Fish, and Hot Tamales. If you have higher-end Halloween tastes, Ghiradelli chocolates tend to be glutard-friendly, but beware that Lindor Truffes and Godiva chocolates usually are not. If you're a health nut, fresh fruits and veggies are gluten-free but not particularly exciting. At least not as exciting as candy websites try to be. 

Happy Halloween!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011


My computer is still broken, so I still can't post easily. I have a tumultuous history with electronics -- they have a tendency to be unreliable and leave me when I need them most, and I lean toward abusive tendencies. We recognize that it isn't ideal, but both technology and I try to embrace each others' faults so we can share in peaceful productivity and entertainment. I have an exciting post about Halloween treats bouncing around in the ol' noggin, so bear with me while I rebuild from the ashes of yet another technology snafu. 

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Whoa. No Bueno.

My brain and my hard drive might be malfunctioning, so no blog post this week. 

As a reminder to all y'all out there: Back up now, back up often. 

Monday, October 10, 2011

Happy Columbus Day!

In 1492 Columbus sailed the ocean blue...

To celebrate his accomplishment, I'm going to peruse the internet for nice blogs, then try to claim them as my own.

Hope you also got the day off!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Mmm... Beer...

Greetings, adult readers.
Non-adults: How about you play in a pile of beautiful fall foliage while I talk to the grown-ups.

Coast clear?

Sweet. I found a new gluten free beer that I like, Estrella Daura. It doesn't taste like regular beer, but it is better than most of the gluten free beers I've had. (Disclaimer: I haven't had a lot of gluten free beers. After I went gluten-free, I switched to wine and harder things.) It doesn't have the weird metallic, sorghum aftertaste that New Grist has. It doesn't have the weird rice-y skunky flavor that Redbridge has. It is refreshing and satisfying. Go try some if you're 21 years of age or older. 

Does anyone out there have recommendations for other gluten-free beers? Know of any good foreign brewskies that we can get stateside? If so, I'd love to get other recommendations!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

I'm Even More Famous Than I Was Yesterday! Thanks!

A while back, I had my 1000th page view. I was hesitant to declare my awesomeness again on the blog because 1/10th of those views were from myself before I figured out how to not track my own page views. But then I looked at my stats again and the number had increased and I had a few more international views. Clearly, it IS time that I discuss my awesomeness. But my awesomeness would not be possible without YOUR awesomeness. 

How awesome are you? Let me count the ways:
-I've received comments on my posts, which makes me feel like there may actually be a little community forming around my blog. 
-I've received support from you, which has helped me reflect and grow as a glutard and a person. 
-I've talked to people who have told me that my blog is helpful, which is pretty sweet. I like making things easier for others. I'm happy to answer questions. If you have something you want to ask or discuss, leave a comment on a post and I'll considering writing a post answering your question. 
-I've talked to people who have told me that I am entertaining them, which is pretty sweet, too. I don't think of myself as particularly funny, but I enjoy making people laugh. I'm not going to quit my day job to pursue a stand-up career, so don't hold back. Keep telling me how funny I am. 

So thank you, audience, for making this possible. You're the best! 

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Fall Comfort Food: Amaretto Roasted Pears

So you just ate a bunch of salty lasagna, and now you're craving something sweet... Amaretto Roasted Pears to the rescue! This recipe is really simple and is a boozy take on this recipe from Smitten Kitchen

Amaretto Roasted Pears
-Cut your slightly under-ripe pears in half and cut out the cores. Arrange in a glass baking dish cut-side up.

In a separate bowl, mix:
-1/8 cup sugar (use less for a less sweet version)
-2 T lemon juice
-1 t vanilla extract
-3 T amaretto liqueur 

-Preheat oven to 375.
-Divide your 2 T butter so that there's a little on each pear.
-Drizzle the sauce on the pears
-Roast 15-30 min on each side, depending on the ripeness of your pears. They'll be soft but not yet mooshy when they're done. Baste those little guys a couple of times while they're baking so that they get lots of opportunity to absorb the sauce. 

Serve warm and with some of the sauce from the pan. I drizzled a little extra amaretto on them before serving. They're great alone, and also pair well with vanilla ice cream. 

Kathleen from Perfect Recipe Project helped me perfect this recipe! I hope you enjoy it! It is a great warm dessert for fall, and is a light, sweet complement to heavy meals like lasagna. Plus, roasting pears sounds way more sophisticated than baking brownies :P

Fall Comfort Food: Gluten Free Lasagna

If you live somewhere in the Northern Hemisphere with seasons, you may have noticed the fall chill has crept into the air. One of my favorite cold weather foods is lasagna, so today I'll share my recipe for Lazy (Gluten Free) Lasagna, the perfect warm fall meal. 

Lazy (Gluten Free) Lasagna
-Sautee 1 medium onion and a clove or two of garlic with:
-Carnivore filling: brown 1 lb hamburger or Italian sausage 
-Herbivore filling: thaw, drain, then sautee 1 block frozen chopped spinach and 1 block frozen chopped broccoli (I think these packages are about 10oz each)
-Add approximately 26 oz of your favorite pasta sauce to your filling (you'll need to save a little sauce to put in the bottom of your baking dish) and let it simmer for a couple minutes so everything gets warm and toasty, like your innards will be after you eat some piping hot lasagna. I like Newman's Own Organic Tomato and Basil sauce. Last time I made this, I used nearly 2 jars of pasta sauce because I had one open and it was lonely. This works fine and makes for a saucier lasagna (duh). 
-Sometimes I like to add some red Tabasco sauce to my filling mixture to make a tangier lasagna, and sometimes I add red pepper flakes to give it some kick.

Mix together in a bowl
-12 oz of cottage cheese (I like to use low fat, and I also like to disregard my own recipe and add the entire 16 oz container)
-1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
-2 eggs, beaten
-2 T parsley
-pepper, to taste

-2-4 cups mozzarella, depending on how cheesy you like things. I always err on the side of 4 cups. I also like mozzarella parmesan blends. You could probably use reduced fat cheese in this recipe, since there's lots of moisture to mask the weird way that stuff 'melts.'

In a 9x13 pan that has been sprayed with nonstick cooking spray:
-Add that little bit of pasta sauce you saved to the bottom of pan. This moisture is crucial for the gluten free noodles to cook.
-Put down a layer of gluten free lasagna noodles. I like DeBoles Gluten Free Rice Lasagna. No boil! 
-Use half of the filling mixture to make a layer
-Add half of the cheese mixture on top of that
-Add 2 cups mozzarella
-Add another layer of noodles
-Add the other half of the filling
-Add the other half of the cheese mixture
-Add another 2 cups mozzarella

-If you hate non-useful amounts of leftover ingredients like I do, you can add another layer of noodles to the top layer, since the box contains approx 9-10 noodles but we've only used 6ish so far. If you do this, you MUST add some more pasta sauce to the top, or else the noodles will stay hard. Add some more mozzarella on top, too, because guests like a nice golden cheese crust. Or you can break up the extra noodles and jam them in wherever there's space. Or you can save them for next time. Whatever suits your fancy. 

-Bake at 350 for 45 minutes. Remove from oven to set and cool, or else you will burn your mouth. Enjoy!

Note: This recipe is resilient! I tend to throw whatever I have around into it, in whatever quantities I have, because of my aforementioned annoyance with leftover ingredients that I don't use often. 
Second note: This is my mom's recipe. She makes so many delicious dishes! Thanks, mom!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Cross-contamination: The silent killer

Whoa. Apparently the lack of sleep has led me to take a sensationalist, 24-hour-news-station approach to this week's post title. Of course cross-contamination doesn't really kill many glutards (although some people can have an anaphylaxis-type reaction to wheat), it is a real issue. I've written a few times about how to navigate this at restaurants; today's post will be about minimizing cross-contamination in the home. This has become second nature for me, but after the sudden announcement from a roommate that he is moving, I decided it was time I think about what it means explicitly to minimize cross-contamination. I have roommates, but the same tips apply if you're living with a family or convicts or a pack of dogs or whoever. 

Depending on your level of sensitivity, you may not need to implement extreme versions of these tips. I like living XTREME, so I am vigilant about some of them (especially #2). 

1. Wipe food prep surfaces and wash dishes well. 
I like to wipe countertops before I begin cooking just in case a roommate accidentally left contaminants behind. If you're super sensitive, it might be a good idea to have separate rags, sponges, and towels for cleaning glutenous messes vs nonglutenous messes. I also like to visually check dishes before I use them to make sure there's no food remnants stuck to them. I had a roommate once who loved baking bread. She'd "wash" the dishes, but leave clumps of bread dough in the bowl. Disgusting, but also frustrating because I get sick from cross-contamination and there were gobs of dough our dishes. 

2. Store gluten-free food separate from glutenous food. 
I keep my flours, oatmeal, and treats in a location separate from the shared baking goods in my apartment. This helps ensure that my special stuff doesn't intermingle with wheat flour or regular oats or crumbly cookies and breads. This also dissuades roommates from helping themselves to my expensive gluten-free foods. I'm like sharing, but not when my food is easily 2-3 times the cost of their food. 

3. Separate tools for hard-to-clean surfaces.
I have my own cutting board that has never had bread sliced on it. Breadcrumbs get everywhere, and their favorite place to vacation is in the crevices that knives leave behind in cutting boards. Similarly, I don't bother using their bread knives for anything. I have a few other "special" dishes that I am sure have never marinated in soy sauce or had gluteny things in them. More than anything else, these other special dishes provide peace of mind if I do accidentally ingest gluten because I know that my special tools won't make me sicker than I already am. ...I like to feel in control :)

4. Communication.
Recurring theme, right? I know. Right. If people are slacking on the cleanliness front, remind them that your health is a cooperative effort. People have responded well when I have gently reminded them cleanliness isn't just an obsession for me (it is, though), but that it is vital to maintaining my health since I am very sensitive to gluten. People haven't responded well when I have accused them of trying to kill me with their gluten. I also find it is better to ask about ingredients used in foods left out to share than to assume that they're safe. The issue is not lack of trust, but rather the pervasiveness of gluten in the modern diet. 

Do you have other strategies for avoiding cross-contamination at home? If so, feel free to share them in the comments. But for now, I am off to bed. Gotta get me some ZZZ's, stat!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Happy Belated Labor Day!

In the spirit of Labor Day (and because I am particularly busy right now), there is no real post this week. Instead, I leave you with this thought:

I can't imagine doing anything else for work because work has beaten the imagination out of me.

Hope you got a chance to rest on Labor Day!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Thoughts-a about gluten-free pasta

Today's post was inspired by this post on glutenous vs gluten-free soba. It is a thorough comparison of the two, so if you're interested in learning more about soba, or just want to see an academic type apply precision to food comparisons, check it out!

I love pasta, but not all gluten-free pasta is lovable. There's some really good stuff out there, and the pasta you prefer may depend on the dish you're making. The great thing about gluten free pasta is that there is so much to experiment with! I'm no Martha Stewart, but here's what I've learned about gluten-free pasta based on my [limited] cooking experience.

1. Don't be surprised if your pasta tries some textural tricks. Some pastas might harden if you save leftovers. I don't know why, but you can cook pretty some gluten-free pasta within an inch of its life and it will re-harden in the fridge. Its a hard-knock life for g-free pasta. Either that, or g-free goes totally softy. Don't be surprised if other pasta goes in the complete other direction and absorbs every liquid around it, including those in other containers in the fridge. It may inflate and get soggy, which will leave you with some pasta-like mush. FYI: Gluten-free pasta is especially prone to bloat in soups. Play around with different types of pasta, like corn, quinoa, multigrain, and rice to figure out what works for you.

2. Some gluten-free pastas make the water milky as they boil. It doesn't really affect your enjoyment aside from having to look at an oozing pasta porridge during the preparation process, but it happens sometimes. Try not to overcook gluten-free pasta because that will make the disintegration worse. 

3. Cooking times vary quite a bit depending on the blend and the shape, so be sure to read the box. Some multigrain blends cook in as little as 5 minutes, other rice types can take as long as 18. Some boxes' directions are just lies, though, so be sure to check on your gluten free pasta a few times during cooking. Gluten-free pasta can be a finicky little beast, but it is worth the effort!

4. Rice pasta tends to be mushy. I don't mean Asian-type rice noodles, but rather noodles that are designed to be like Italian pasta. There are some notable exceptions to this rule, like Tinkyada, but in general if you're going to be baking or simmering in a sauce or soup, or doing some other extensive cooking, I wouldn't recommend pure rice pasta. 

5. Corn pastas tend to be rubbery. This works out great if you're making something like baked ziti or mac & cheese or soup, but can be a little chewy if you plan to make a cold pasta salad or just want buttered noodles. 

Here are some of my favorite pastas, which have been kitchen-tested for satisfying texture and taste.
For general use:

For lasagna:

For your multigrain cravings:

For baked dishes:

Do you have pasta that you like or dislike? Do you have a favorite spaghetti or pasta that holds up well in soup? Any tips, tricks, or observations? If so, drop a comment at the bottom of this post! I'm always looking to improve my familiarity with the growing g-free options on the market!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Opinions about Food: Kinnikinnick Chocolate Dipped Gluten Free Donuts

I found Kinnikinnick's gluten-free chocolate-dipped donuts at Target this weekend. Sweet mother of donuts! Oh merciful provider of sugary and fatty foods! Oh heaven of the heavens! Sweet diabetic coma! These donuts are A-MA-ZING. 

Pros: Holy shit. It is a gluten-free donut. It looks like a donut, it tastes like a donut, it has frosting. They have so much frosting that you can't stare at someone through the hole. Good frozen or warm out of the microwave. They come frozen, so you don't feel obligated to eat them all in one sitting. 

Cons: They'll make you fat. They don't have sprinkles. They are smaller and a little denser than I remember regular donuts being, but I don't care. My life is complete now. 

If these become available on Amazon, I'm going to buy them all. Then eat them all, get a tummy ache, barf them out, and start all over again. 

Obesity epidemic, here I come. 

Friday, August 26, 2011

Get to Know Your Glutard Blogger: The Big Reveal

I think I've left you in suspense long enough. As someone who values sleep very highly, I don't want any of you to lose any more sleep. 

Here's the lie:

2. I crushed my fear of crushes.

Here's the corresponding truth:
It is true that I am a weird blend of introverted, extraverted, and shy. However, I did not have some a glorious triumph over my awkwardness that included attending prom with my secret crush. In real life, I was not willing to risk the humiliation of rejection, so I didn't go with a date. At least not in the traditional sense. Prior to prom, my mischievous group of friends and I had purchased a blowup doll for another friend's birthday. (He was anatomically incorrect, in case you were wondering.) Charlie Stud, as he came to be known, was languishing in a closet somewhere, so my friend _____ [name omitted to protect her identity] and I went to a thrift store, got him a tacky suit (which would now be considered vintage, I guess), and brought him to prom as our date. He was the most popular guy at prom -- everyone wanted pictures with him. Typical of prom nights, Charlie had a hard time keeping his clothes on, but we were good dates and kept the fun age-appropriate. ;-) 

So there ya have it. Did you guess correctly??? What did you think of the Get to Know Your Glutard Blogger feature? 

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Get to Know Your Glutard Blogger!

I don't have any important to say about living gluten free this week (but honestly, do I ever?), so I thought I'd try out a new feature, Get to Know Your Glutard Blogger. Since my identity is multifaceted, but only the glutard part gets the spotlight on this blog, it might be fun for you to learn a little bit more about me. This may or may not be a recurring feature. Here's how it will go: I'll tell you three stories/tidbits about myself, only two of which will be true. Later in the week, I'll let you know which one is false. Lets try this out.

1. Wheels are hard for me.
It started young. I spent a lot of my childhood summers with some sort of bandage(s) over my elbows or knees. It started when I was learning to bike, then continued onto when I was learning to rollerskate, then rollerblade. I was better at crashing than coasting. When I upgraded to motorized wheels, my luck wasn't much better. One of the first times I drove my parents' ATV, I slammed into the side of a shed. One of the first times I drove a golf cart, I slammed into my mom's car. One of the first times I drove a car, I slammed into a snowbank. When I play Mario Kart, I spend most of my time either slamming into barriers or driving off of edges. Luckily, after years of practice, I am not longer such a threat to person or property. 

2. I crushed my fear of crushes.
I've always been some weird blend of introverted, extraverted, and shy. This means that when I develop crushes on boys, I don't tend to act on them. In high school, I spent a not-insignificant amount of time daydreaming about _____ [his name has been omitted for his protection]. However, _____ and I had no classes together. I rarely saw _____ except for when his friends and my friends merged to create a superfriend group (think Damn Yankees or Them Crooked Vultures, but with high school nerds). I spent weeks agonizing over whether to ask him to be my prom date. Never being content to let fate handle things for me, I finally asked him after a superfriend group meeting. He said yes and we had age-appropriate fun.

3. I hung around a rough crowd in college.
Gigantic state schools are a blessing and a curse. They offer reasonably affordable education to many people and can provide opportunities that other types of schools can't. However, they may also attract more riff-raff than more selective schools. My second year of college, I got involved with a gang of rowdy dorm residents. Our shenanigans always started off being cheeky and fun, like the watergun fight. People were targeting each other with little squirt guns and small super soakers, while using dorm furniture for cover.  What fun! Until someone grabbed the dishwashing hose from the kitchenette sink and retaliated. At that point, the shenanigans turned to cruel and tragic. A lake developed.  This wasn't the first time we got in trouble for destruction of property, nor was it the last. 

Which one do you think is false??? Check back in a couple of days to find out!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

I am Human, Shit Happens

I like to think of myself as cool as a cucumber when it comes to being a glutard. You want to accommodate me? Fantastic. You don't want to? That's cool too. Years of experience have taught me to roll with the punches. There'll be wins and there'll be losses, but the losses don't get any better if you have a temper tantrum. That said, I had a bit of a glutard meltdown in Montreal. I can't eat gluten, but I also don't like to eat a lot of meat and I still hate mushrooms. If you're traveling to Montreal (and I'm guessing the same is true for France) and want the French food experience, prepare yourself for meat, cheese, and bread. The combination of my allergy and my pickiness made it hard for my boyfriend and I to find a restaurant that would please us both. Knowing that I was difficult on many levels made me feel even worse because I didn't want to be a pain, but I also didn't want to spend money on a meal that I knew I wouldn't enjoy. I didn't want to deprive him of his French cuisine experience, but I also didn't want to watch him eat a mind-blowing meal while I nibbled on a side of air. I was already hungry and I hate being hungry. Insert meltdown here. Lucky for me, my boyfriend is a champ and handled it like a pro. 

Food is an emotionally-charged subject for me. I have loved sharing food with people my entire life -- from birthday cakes to holiday meals to take-out with my friends. I have made it a point to not let my gluten allergy prevent me from connecting with people over food. Usually that means being upfront about my allergy so people are armed with the information they need to decide if they want to accommodate me or not. Sometimes that means making a couple of dishes to share at a potluck if I want a main course and a dessert. Sometimes that means sneaking food into weddings or dissertation defense parties so I don't have to awkwardly watch everyone eat while I remain hungry. But sometimes it is hard. Sometimes I just cannot partake in something no matter how hard I try. Traditional poutine is not something I could share. Steak is not something I want to share. Navigating a gluten allergy is a continuous process -- things can vary from day to day. I am not proud of my meltdown, but it happened. As hard as it is to believe, I am imperfect. And that is okay. I can strive to be better, but I won't let me beat myself up over an occasional hiccup. The best thing to do is figure out what led to the meltdown, then figure out how to prevent that from happening again. 

Live, learn, repeat. 

ADDENDUM: The boyfriend wanted me to mention that all ended well. I freaked out about my dietary needs and preferences, but that didn't prevent us from having a great meal that satisfied both of us. Thank goodness for places like Zero8 that make it easy for everyone to eat! :)

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Opinions about Food: Yoplait Greek Yogurt

I just downed a bottle of haterade, so here we go.

Yoplait's Greek yogurt is the worst Greek yogurt I've ever eaten. 

Pros: Labeled as gluten free. Did not make me sick. Contains vital calcium and protein calories. 

Cons: The flavors taste terrible and the texture is like regular yogurt. The blueberry one was not awful, but not even chocolate chips could save the honey or strawberry ones I had. The honey one tasted slightly rancid. The strawberry one tasted like I licked a homeless man's winter parka on a summer day, but with a note of bad strawberry jelly.

If you like your yogurt to taste vaguely of cardboard, this is the yogurt for you. Otherwise, there are other glutard-friendly Greek yogurt options out there that you might find more satisfying, like Chobani, Fage, Stonyfield Farms, or Dannon. Be sure to check ingredients, though, since companies change their formulas at their whim. 

I am sorry, Yoplait. Seriously, please don't sue me for defamation or something. Your other yogurts are among my favorites -- lots of satisfying original and light flavor options, most of which are gluten free and clearly labeled as such! I'm just not sure how this Greek yogurt train de-railed so catastrophically. Kudos for trying, but I'll just stick to what you know best. 

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

International Adventure Recap

In case you were wondering (and I know you were), I survived my first international food adventure. Montreal was friendly about gluten free accommodations -- I even had dinner at a hypoallergenic restaurant, Zero8. What is a hypoallergenic restaurant? The restaurant didn't serve food with any of the major allergens in it. No wheat, dairy, soy, fish/shellfish, peanuts, nuts, eggs, or sesame seeds. There may not have been allergens, but there were flavors and options! I had a ginger mojito, gluten free poutine (which had smoked duck instead of cheese <-- allergen), a big meal, and even dessert! Yep, more food during one meal that most restaurants even offer. 

Other Montreal highlights:
-Canadian coke, which is made with real sugar, not high fructose corn syrup
-Got to watch my boyfriend eat a Coffee Crisp, which is like a ginormous Kit Kat with coffee creme... chock full of Canadian gluten
-A valet was asked to move a Rolls Royce to make room for my car
-Road signs in French
-LOTS of car time. Lots. 

Since my boyfriend is here, that's all you get from me. See you next week, sportsfans.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Excuse me. I am very busy and important. Hold on. Is that cheese on my shirt?

Life is real busy right now. I am heading off for some business travel this week, then I am off for my international adventure. I've also been busy with roommate moves and the cleaning that those entail. That means you don't get a real blog post this week. I'm sorry. I'm very busy and important, which means sometimes I have to drop a ball or two so I can hold the others. Hmm... that doesn't sound quite right. 

In lieu of a real post, I'm gonna link to the recipe for Alton Brown's baked macaroni and cheese. I love this recipe. To make it g-free, I use gluten free noodles and gluten free breadcrumbs. If you're going to make it with glutard noodles, I'd recommend a corn or quinoa blend pasta. They'll hold up better than rice noodles, since you'll be boiling the noodles, then baking them. The other thing you should know is that gluten free noodles tend to soak up all of the liquids in a dish. When it comes time to reheat your leftovers, I recommend adding a splash of milk to soften and rehydrate the block of dry, cheesy pasta.
Don't be afraid to add some extra cheese to this recipe. Support America's dairy farmers!

When I made this recipe for my friends over the weekend, I omitted the bread crumbs, baked some tater tots, then put the tots atop the mac and cheese after it was done baking. I got the idea from Q Restaurant in San Francisco in my previous life as a glutevore*. It was a carb-splosion, and it was amazing. I ate a few token slices of cucumbers and also had plenty of heart-healthy red wine to offset the dairy bonanza. 

*I just made up a new word! It is pronounced 'glute-a-vore,' and means someone who eats gluten. I'm explaining it in far too much detail down here because I am quite tired and I am not sure I'll understand my faux-cabulary** after I sleep. 
**Faux-cabulary, another word-vention of mine. Clearly I do not have a command of real English vocabulary. 

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Bonus Post: More Food Blogs to Check Out!

This week I am posting twice because there are two recipe blogs I want to bring to your attention.

The first is Yet Another Useless Food Blog, which is a new recipe blog started by one of my friends. Despite it's name, it is not actually useless. YAUFB contains satisfying vegetarian recipes, most of which are gluten free. 

The second is The Existential Chef, which is by another one of my friends. EC's posts are often chock full o' gluten, but look delectable. Non-glutards: enjoy! Glutards: enjoy the challenge of adapting these to fit the g-free diet. 

Both blogs offer clear directions, so you can easily recreate their masterpieces in your own home. 

PS: If you haven't checked it out yet, here's another link to The Perfect Recipe Project, a go-to for amazingly simple, yet healthy meals. You guessed it, PRP also belongs to one of my friends! I seem to be surrounding myself with people who like to cook delicious meals. I recommend that you do the same ;-)

Go forth in foodiness!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011


This week I am taking aim at people who take aim at gluten sensitivity.  This mama grizzly got you in her METAPHORICAL crosshairs... since I don't advocate actually shooting anything. Sorry, Dick Cheney. 

A recent article on Slate, Throwing Out The Wheat: Are We Being Too Tolerant Of Gluten-Intolerance?, focuses on the glutards of the world. The author suggests that we call shenanigans on this whole g-free thing, since more people adhere to a gluten free diet than just those with Celiac disease.

Here's the relatively innocuous passage that annoyed me most from this article:

"According to Alessio Fasano, director of the Center for Celiac Research at the University of Maryland and a leading expert on the disease, almost half the people who show up at his clinic are on the gluten-free diet before they've even been tested for celiac. For every patient whose intestinal biopsy turns up positive, he says, nine or 10 more test clean but commit to going G-free all the same."
Here's a timeline for ya: In my experience, doctors generally suggest exclusion diets before they suggest biopsies. Exclusion diets = free; biopsies = $$$. After all, what is the point of doing a biopsy ($$$) if you try the exclusion diet (free) and it doesn't make any difference? At that point, you'd be testing for something that doesn't seem to be related to your presenting symptoms. People with great insurance can be tested for long shots; people with shitty insurance don't generally get that luxury. As for the biopsy procedure, you have to consume gluten in order for the test to be accurate. Its like a two-for-one! Risk getting sick AND get intestinal biopsy! 

The author goes on: 
"These patients are described as having "gluten intolerance," a nebulous condition that amounts to something like celiac-lite: They feel pain or discomfort after eating wheat, rye, or barley but lack the hallmark signs of intestinal deterioration. The notion that you can have the symptoms of celiac but not the full-blown disorder is based on the idea, first proposed in 1992, that a person's reaction to gluten can be plotted along a sensitivity spectrum—with celiac patients falling at the most vulnerable extreme. Since there's no way to "prove" a case of gluten-intolerance in the lab, the diagnostic criteria are rather lax. To qualify for the condition, you need only discover (with or without medical supervision) that going "G-free" makes you feel better—in body or mind or spirit." 
The author also suggests that some people on a g-free diet feel better simply due a placebo effect, that self-fulfilling prophecies might be involved, and that the g-free diet can actually be bad for people who are not Celiac. While I agree that the world of non-Celiac gluten sensitivity is a bit "nebulous," that doesn't mean that the sensitivity doesn't exist. Let me drop some more knowledge on ya: Lots of things occur on spectrums, like psychological disorders, and (gasp!) even other allergies, food or otherwise. Also, there aren't tests for every disorder. Some things, like Parkinson's disease, are diagnosed by trying out different treatments or by exclusion. 

No one seems to take issue with people with peanut or shellfish or soy or other food allergies. Why is the gluten free diet perceived as such a threat to people? 

Here's my theory:
1. Moreso than other any other food sensitivity I can think of (and I've spent 15 seconds thinking of other food sensitivities), as noted below, g-free is marketed as a lifestyle. Unlike shellfish or nut allergies, some people opt into the g-free diet in hopes of losing weight, relieving Autism, and a bunch of other reasons that don't relate to sensitivity. 
"The fact that "going G-free" means eating fewer cupcakes and less pasta suggests another source of relief. It is, after all, an elaborate diet—and so delivers all the psychological benefits of controlled eating and self-denial. "Once G-free, you are no longer simply robot-eating bag after bag of pretzels," writes Hasselbeck, in a chapter of her book titled "G-Free and Slim as Can Be!" Gluten intolerance may be a medical condition, but according to Hasselbeck, it's also an approach to eating—like South Beach or Skinny Bitch—that's supposed to make you lose weight and feel good about your body."
Lactards and eggtards (people with dairy and egg sensitivities, respectively), don't bear hatred because of feelings toward vegans, though. And yet glutards deal with anti-g-free sentiment. You may dislike the prominent people who choose this diet for themselves, but that is not a good reason to be rude to me or anyone else who falls along the gluten sensitivity  spectrum. 

2. Moreso than other any other food sensitivity I can think of, our diet is a pain in the ass. Staple foods and many favorites are out of the question for us. There's hidden gluten all over. It is effortful to truly live g-free. I get it. But we appreciate the effort. We really do.

I could go on and on, but let me end with this: Don't let a bad apple or two ruin the barrel. You may find Elisabeth Hasselbeck (see mention of The Drop technique in the article) and Jenny McCarthy annoying, but for plenty of us gluten sensitivity is a reality. I am personally enjoying the explosion of awareness and gluten free accommodations, and the opportunity to discuss all things g-free with you on the interwebs. As long as we try to be honest, patient, and considerate of each other, whether pertaining to diet issues or anything else, I think we can all get along fine.