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.