Friday, June 22, 2007

Growin' up greens

There are so many things that I love about summer: the warm weather, the days off (it is good to be a teacher), iced tea, grilling on the patio, and fresh produce. Not the pale, plastic-y imitations of produce that you find in the winter, but the off the vine/plant, fragrant, flavorful summer variety. This is when I am happy I live in a big city. Huh? What? Fresh grown veggies in the city? How does that work? Easy! There are over a dozen farmers' markets that I can frequent every week. This past Sunday I checked out two markets close to my apartment. The first was small. Super small. I did pick up some lovely greens. While a pain to prep them for cooking, they were worth it. After cooking they still had body, didn't turn to mush. I sauteed the stems with olive oil, kosher salt, and fresh cracked pepper. After 5-10 minutes I tossed in the leaves, garlic, and some frozen cooked shrimp. At the very end I added a splash of balsamic and it was done. So good.

Yes, the city is a fabulous place during the summer. My favorite culinary experience of late, though, has occurred out in the burbs. A year or so ago my parents transplanted some raspberry clippings from my aunt's garden. For the first time they have berries. Sun warmed, ripe, juicy berries. I love standing in the garden in bare feet picking berries. Eat them alone, with cream, or atop a Van's GF waffle. So lovely. My taste buds rejoice at the explosion of summer flavor. Now I just have to figure out how to convince me parents to let me pick all of the ripe berries on Sunday to take on the road to Atlanta. Mmmm...

Tuesday, June 19, 2007


Crap crap crapity CRAP!!!

I have cut out all commercially available baked goods, I read labels, my grocery bills have skyrocketed. All for what? To be gluten free, to be healthy, because I have Celiac. It takes thought and attention to detail. You can't slack, you can't cheat. I thought I had been doing pretty good. Sure the last month and a half have been less than healthy. I'm an emotional eater. When life gets stressful I eat whatever I crave. Ice cream. Cheese and crackers (GF, of course). Candy. See! I keep telling people that you can eat super unhealthy on a GF diet. I am proof. My diet has been wretched. Balanced nutrition? Heck no. BUT, I thought I was being careful about gluten. Apparently not. My doctor's office called me yesterday. I had my 6 (ok, really 7 or 8) month blood work done. My Dr. just got back from vacation and discovered that my blood levels HAVE NOT CHANGED. What the..??!!?!!??! But I have been eating GF! I swear!!! Crap! I knew I had been having tummy issues again, but they felt different. I thought it was strictly IBS problems. Damn. So now I have to keep a food diary again (for real this time). 6-8 weeks. Yikes. Then I go back to the doctor. The thing is, I was not happy with my doctor. He is very old school. Does not communicate well. What are my blood levels? "Abnormal" What number is it and what is the range it should fall into? "It is abnormal." uh-huh. So I called the office where my dietitian is located and made an appointment with the GI she works with for Celiac.

It just figures that I need to start this food diary just as I am about to leave for vacation. Grrr! So now I am brainstorming a list of items to bring along for the drive (11 hours!) and for lunches during the week. I am planning to make some Chebe flatbread for sandwiches. Cheese, cold cuts, fruit, veggies, hummus, lots of Larabars and ThinkThin and ThinkOrganic bars. (Those things are CRACK!) What else should I bring along? What do you have to bring with whenever you travel?

Friday, June 15, 2007


School! Is!! Over!!!!!

Summer break has officially begun. Thank God! It has been a...stressful two months. It felt as though the end was never going to arrive. What now? Relaxation. Some organizational stuff (yes, this requires going in to school, but no kids.) Summer book club. More cooking! Job interviews (hopefully). And vacation. An actual trip! In about a week I will be hopping in the car and driving to Atlanta. I'm pretty excited about this. I have never been to Georgia. I have heard wonderful things. The only anxiety inducing thing is that this is my first real trip since going GF. Where will I eat? Eek! Have any of you been to Atlanta? Any suggestions?

Wednesday, June 06, 2007


There is something not right with my stomach. I don't think this is gluten. It doesn't feel like gluten. This is weird. For the past 4 days I have felt bloated (not entirely new) with a kind of burning nausea. Not full blown heartburn. Not the threat of praying to the porcelain god. Just uncomfortable. When I am not feeling like that I am absolutely starving. I will eat, and in half an hour I am starving again. The only time my stomach does not feel off is while I am eating. Maybe I ate something a few days ago and am having long lasting low-grade symptoms. It just does not feel like glutening. Last night I ate a TON of red meat. This is very strange for me. As a former vegetarian I am not a huge meat eater. This was the first thing I have eaten that seemed to stave off the discomfort and hunger for at least a couple of hours. Maybe I am lacking protein or iron? Eh? Any suggestions?

I think I am going to start logging my food again. I haven't done that in a very long time. Time to start paying close attention again.

Friday, June 01, 2007

A big impression

Ah, holiday food traditions. Turkey at Thanksgiving, cookies at Christmas, the Easter ham. And for Memorial Day? The family and/or friend BBQ. There is nothing like lighting a big fire and roasting meat. Now in my family, grilling has taken on new meaning over the last 5 years. Long gone are the days of hot dogs and burgers. Oh no. We grill veggie kabobs, pineapple, salmon, bananas, pizza, shrimp, rosemary name it. We like to experiment, try new things. We watch a lot of Bobby Flay. (Dad is addicted to the Food Network.)

So it was quite the nostalgic treat this past Monday when I attended a burger and brat BBQ. No, my family was not revisiting the past. It was someone else's family. The new boy's family. (I don't want to say much about him. Don't want to jinx things. Let's just say he is interested, he's sticking around and I have met his whole family. It is good.) He knows about and understands my dietary needs. Monday was a big deal. Not only was I seeing his whole family congregated in one place, but they were cooking. I was eating. A bit nerve wracking.

Now, my momma taught me that you bring food to a party. It is polite and you just do it. These days I make sure to bring a couple of dishes so that I know I can eat food and the host does not feel the full burden of making a GF meal. Anyhow, they kindly set aside a brat for me (did not soak it in beer.) There were potato chips. I brought along a large fruit salad. Watermelon, grapes, raspberries, pineapple, and bananas. Yum! While the fruit salad is nice, it is the dressing I want to share.

I'm not sure when I started doing this, but if I make a fruit salad there must be a yogurt or sour cream dressing. Put it on the side, mix it in...I don't care. It began as sour cream and powdered sugar. Simple and tasty. This has since evolved. I have realized, though, that I have a bad habit of cooking and not measuring my ingredients. I mix things together and adjust to taste. For those of you interested, here is a rough sketch of what I made:

Ginger Lime Fruit Salad

plain yogurt
juice of one lime
ginger (powdered, paste, or a combination of both)
a mix of fresh seasonal fruits

Mix the first four ingredients in a bowl. Start with a little bit of the honey (1 T) and ginger (1 t), adding more to taste. Serve with salad.

Wow, not exactly specific. Mainly I just wanted to share the ingredients/flavor combination. Unfortunately, I do not have a photo. I assembled some of the fruit at their house. They might have thought it a bit strange if I started photographing the food the first time I ate with them.

The cool thing is that nearly every person in his family had a friend or co-worker who is gluten free. We are everywhere! After tasting the salad and (later) the GF cookies I baked, I was told I was invited back for dinner again since I brought such wonderful dishes. Yay! Don't worry I will share the GF cookies soon.