Living with a Non-Gluten Free Family?

My G-free kitchen island. With foil covering the top for extra safety.

Sometimes I stay with my parents or sister while my husband is at sea. Every time I go over I find it more difficult to keep a gluten-free space. This made me wonder how mixed gluten and gluten-free families do it.

During a recent stay at my moms we started talking over what we can do to keep the kitchen safe for my use. And we came up with the idea of buying a kitchen island. My mom always wanted to buy one but never got around to doing it. I told her that I would buy the island if she would let me use it for my G-free items. She thought the idea was great and mentioned how handy my own cutting board space would be. And to keep it covered with foil or plastic wrap, while not in use, to prevent accidental gluten exposure. I would have a space for all my own pans, dishes, bowl, utensils, and any other goods.

I immediately jumped on the internet and started looking into kitchen islands. They can run from a hundred to thousands depending on what you are looking for. I was able to purchase one from Target for $224. It was originally around $300 but was on sale and matched her kitchen perfectly!

Now when I stay at my parent’s house I will have my own gluten-free spot. I am really lucky to have an amazingly supportive family. Thanks Mom.

2GOOD2B Bakery & Cafe

Photo taken at 2GOOD2B Bakery & Cafe in Encinitas, California

Searching the internet for gluten-free restaurants 2GOOD2B Bakery & Cafe popped up. Clicking on the link to see what G-free baked goods they offered I was unknowingly in for a real treat!

This special bakery is “always 100% gluten, corn, soy and peanut free”. Reading the bios about Mike Barbanti, Diana Mourato Benedek, and the conception of the bakery I knew I had to make a visit. Viewing their gallery and drooling over images of pizza, french toast, and cupcakes I couldn’t wait to visit. The weekend was fast approaching, my husband and I were looking forward to our upcoming visit to Encinitas where 2GOOD2B Bakery & Cafe is located.

Finally making our way up for breakfast on Saturday morning we pulled into the shopping center, parked, and jumped out with excitement.Walking into the bakery and looking right there was a display case full of cupcakes! Had I reached the G-free pride-lands? Maybe, but first a taste test. Their menu had plenty to offer including the french toast from the gallery. My husband ordered the breakfast panini and I the french toast. Both of us are fans of cinnamon rolls, so we added one to our selection.

We paid the cashier and took seat by the window. My husband and I had our eyes fixed on the cupcake display case. Feeling a little greedy we decided to pick out some mini cupcakes for home. The helpful cashier told us that if we check-in on facebook we could get a discounted price. After choosing red velvet, chocolate, white chocolate raspberry, and carrot cake our order was ready.

Having the memory of how good french toast use to taste I was ready to give this gluten-free one a try. After tasting my first bite (with my husband eagerly awaiting my reaction) I couldn’t help but smile. It was just like how I remember it… maybe even better! I happily took another bite and offered my husband a taste. After seeing how pleased I was he dove right into his breakfast panini.

Taking bites of each others meal has always been something we love doing. Each ordering a different item on the menu allowing us to taste different flavors. Since being diagnosed with gluten intolerance we have not been able to share. But not here, it was safe to share and not be afraid of my husbands fork contaminating my food. He did stop himself a few time out of habit.

Photo taken at 2GOOD2B Bakery & Cafe in Encinitas, California

Finishing most of our meal we moved on and tasted the cinnamon roll. I stuck my fork right in middle for a taste; it was so moist and delicious. Normally I expect the outside of the roll to be dry. That was not the case here, it was moist all the way through, my husband said it just might be the best cinnamon roll he had. Feeling stuffed we took the rest of our food, mini cupcakes, and half our cinnamon roll to go. Fully satisfied and with treats to go we got into the car and head back home.

After breakfast we meet up with my sister; I let my nephew and niece have the mini cupcakes. They ate them up enjoying each bite. On my next visit I will have to buy some for them and me too. Along with about a dozen of their delicious cinnamon rolls.

Visiting 2GOOG2B gave me a new outlook on eating gluten-free. I don’t have to sacrifice flavor to be gluten-free and healthy. I am lucky to have such a great bakery and cafe so close to me. I look forward to stopping by for their dinner menu!

Gluten is like Raw Chicken

One of the biggest problems I deal with is cross contamination. It seems like it can happen everywhere and anyone can cause it. I am so picky when it comes to making my meal. And going into restaurants is like walking into one of those spooky haunted mazes during Halloween. You are scared and a bit reluctant because you don’t know what is going to pop out and get you.

I started think about how to explain to family, friends, and restaurants servers about how important it is for me to stay away from gluten contamination. I mean just telling someone I can’t have gluten isn’t always taken so serious. Some people think that I am on a fad diet to cut out carbs and lose weight. I could go into a long explanation about how gluten is a protein found in wheat, malt, barley, and it makes me blah blah and so on for days. I really don’t mind talking about being gluten free with anyone. But sometimes there is no time for a long explanation. If I am having dinner with new friends having a quick explanation would be great. So I thought up a quick and easy way to explain how serious it is to keep from getting contaminated.

During a  conversation about cross contanimation with my mom the light bulb in my brain went off. She was telling me how she cleans the counter tops after raw chicken touches them. And that is when it hit me! Raw chicken is just like gluten! We all know the dangers of uncooked chicken and how it can make you sick as a dog on Sunday. And how you have to be extra careful to clean your cooking station to prevent illness. Not just wipe the counters but CLEAN them. And that you can’t let raw chicken touch everything because it could infect other areas. That is exactly how I see bread crumbs or reading gluten on a label. It’s like little pieces of raw chicken just waiting to jump inside my gluten free dish. Especially after myself or family members have worked so hard to keep my food away from gluten. And that’s it… how to quickly explain the importance of staying way from cross contamination. Just how raw chicken can make one sick gluten will make me sick. I know that they don’t have the same symptoms but it does give a quick understanding. So the next time I need a quick explanation I will say… think of gluten like it’s raw chicken.

Chicken Lime Cilantro Soup

 

During a late night market trip my husband and I wondered into the Mexican isle. We were looking at the ingredients of canned menudo for gluten. While I was picking up different cans my husband was amazed by a huge can of  hominy. After deciding not to buy any menudo I headed off to the ice cream isle leaving my husband and his hominy can. Picking up some Breyer’s ice cream I turned to see my husband still holding the can of hominy. He really wanted to buy this large can of  hominy; so I decided to try to make a dinner out of it.

Once home I talked with my sister about putting together a chicken lime hominy soup. We tossed some ideas at each about garlic, vegetable broth, and spinach. After speaking with her I jotted down a few ideas from our conversation to give me an outline when cooking.

And here is our creation; a  yummy bowl of fresh chicken lime cilantro soup!  I loved the fresh lime flavor with the hominy and chicken. I added the red pepper flakes for a little heat without changing the flavor of the soup. My husband and I were both really happy at how yummy this soup came out. This soup was great even during the heat of a California summer. I can only imagine how good it would taste during the winter.  I don’t know why my husband wanted that big can of hominy but I am sure glad he did!

Ingredients:

3 Chicken Breasts
1 ½ cups of Vegetable Broth
3 Cans Chicken Broth (low sodium)
1 Teaspoons. Olive oil
4 Garlic Cloves
5 Fresh Limes
2 ½ Large Onions
3 Tablespoons Dried Cilantro
1 Large can White Hominy
1 Package Frozen Spinach
Season salt
Sea Salt and Pepper to Taste
Garlic Salt to taste
1 Bundle Fresh Cilantro as Garnish
Red pepper flakes

Directions:

  1. Boil chicken in a pot and let cook until chicken reached a temperature of 160.
  2. While the chicken is cooking chop onions in chunks, finely chop garlic, and fresh cilantro.
  3. Prepare frozen spinach as directed on package.
  4. When chicken has reached 160 degrees remove from pot.
  5. After cooled shred and season chicken with pepper and season salt.
  6. Remove the chicken broth from pot into a separate container to be used later.
  7. Taking the pot used to boil the chicken bring it back to a medium heat.
  8. Add olive oil to the pot after heated add chopped garlic and chopped onions (1/2 cup to serve uncooked with meal). Let onions sweat for a bit.
  9. Before adding the shredded chicken squeeze the juice of 3 limes into the garlic onion mix.
  10. Add seasoned chicken into pot and stir coating the chicken.
  11. Combine hominy, spinach, dried cilantro, vegetable broth, cans of chicken broth, and 2 cups fresh chicken broth to the pot. (the chicken broth made while boiling came out a bit watery. That is why I had to open some cans of chicken broth.)
  12. Add garlic and sea salt to taste
  13. Let cook on medium heat for 30 min. Taste and season while cooking.
  14. When the soup is ready to serve slice the remaining 2 limes in halves. Place limes, chopped fresh cilantro, chopped onions, and red pepper flakes into small bowls and placing on table.

Add goodies from bowls on soup with a little fresh squeeze of lime into soup. Be careful when adding the red pepper flakes they are hot… and enjoy!

Portobello Mushroom Pizza

Mushroom Pizza with Sauce

It’s another hot day here in sunny California and the question is what to make for dinner?

On days when it reaches 109 degreese I don’t feel like eating anything to heavy. I decided to try a portobello mushroom pizza after being inspired from A Food Centric Life’s Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms With Roast Tomatoes and Goat Cheese. Since I have never cooked portobello mushroom before I needed some help with how to season the mushroom and cooking time. I went ahead and added my own toppings to the mushroom with what I had handy. For the original recipe refer to  A Food Centric Life and check out  Sally Cameron’s wonderful creations!

Ingredients:

Fresh Mushroom Pizza

4 Portobello Mushrooms

3 Tablespoons Olive Oil

1 Tablespoon Lemon Juice

1 Large garlic clove, finely chopped

Salt and Pepper, to Taste

Toppings:

1 Mozzarella Ball

1 Pack of Pepperonis

1 Can of Black Olives Drained

1/2 Onion

1 Fresh Tomato Sliced

1 Jar of Gluten Free Pizza Sauce

Few leaves of Basil

Directions:

The first part of this recipe is straight from A Food Centric Life.

  1. Clean the mushrooms by gently wiping the outside of the caps with a damp paper towel or brushing any dirt off with a soft brush. Next, pop out the stems by pushing them from side to side until the snap out. Then with a teaspoon, scrape the gills out until the underside is mostly clean. Place them on a foil lined rimmed baking sheet. (view A Food Centric Life for how to photos.)
  2. Whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, shallot and garlic.  Brush mushroom caps inside and out with the olive oil mixture (or plain olive oil). Sprinkle each cap with salt and pepper.
  3. Pre-heat the broiler. With the oven rack on the second to the top level, broil the mushrooms for 3-5 minutes until they are hot and the edges are starting to brown. They will start to release moisture and get juicy. Remove from the oven.
  4. Pre-heat the oven to 375

Here is where I added my own pizza twist. I decided to make a fresh style pizza and a pizza sauce one.

  1. Fresh Pizza- After removing the mushrooms from the oven I layered it with a slice of tomato, mozzeralla, balck olives, sliced onion, and another tomato. (don’t forget to salt and pepper your tomato.)
  2. Pizza Sauce- I put one tablespoon of pizza sauce, mozzarella, pepperonis, black olives, and sliced onions on the mushroom.
  3. (Now this part was an experiment) I put the tray back in the oven until I saw the cheese melting. This took about 15 minutes.
  4. After removing them from the oven I added a few pieces of fresh basil to the tops and they were ready to serve.

I made this dish for my mom and sister and they were in love with it. The fresh pizza and pizza sauce mushrooms had two unique flavors. My mom preferred the pizza sauce one and my sister was torn between the two. They both agreed that the fresh one was light and not to filling. But they were really taken with the pizza sauce one. They said that it tasted just like having all goodies of a pizza without the bread. It was a little heavier but full of flavor.

I really enjoyed the flavor of the portobello mushroom recipe from A Food Centric Life. You could really taste the garlic and it complemented the other ingredients nicely. It was so juicy! This will be a recipe I make again and again.  I love pizza and this just might keep me satisfied.

 

Beware of Bread Crumbs!

If you are living in a household of G-free and non G-free people BEWARE OUT FOR BREAD CRUMBS! I know sounds totally not so scary. But a few little bread crumbs on the table, counter, or anywhere can really mess you up.

With that being said my brother-in-law sent me this really great link to a blog that informs you how to set up a gluten free pantry and kitchen. It has some really great tips for those living in a mixed gluten household. Here is the link below and enjoy!

http://elegantlyglutenfree.com/how-i-set-up-my-gluten-free-diet-pantry-and-kitchen