gluten free roundup 2

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yikes–one month in already!  Except for a slip of beer (I was so curious to know what J’s new brew tasted like, I forgot it had gluten in it…) and a decision to not be crazed about whether things like salad dressing or oatmeal have gluten in them, it hasn’t been very difficult at all.  Here are a few of my favorite things, now that I’m practically a pro:

1. butternut squash soup, above.

2. french toast – using udi’s bread, and if you forget to put the best part (the spices!) in the egg batter, sprinkle them in the syrup before you warm it up (everyone warms up their maple syrup, right?)  Warm up your non-stick skillet, combine 2 eggs & about 1/4-1/3 cup milk, 1/2 t cinnamon & 1/8 t nutmeg–if you remember to!, and whip them good.  Soak the bread for a few minutes on each side (mine came straight from the freezer, so it could use a healthy dose batter).  Then cook on medium heat for 2-4 minutes on each side.  It tastes just the same, at least to me!

3. oatmeal (five-minute oatmeal from A Beautiful Mess)- as the mornings get cooler, I relish a warm breakfast; oatmeal is my favorite, especially because the toppings are endless!  Of course, The Refectory’s Baked Oatmeal is a fave, too.

4. spaghetti squash carbonara – Jordan headed to North Dakota last week to see his family, and before he left I made a hot-dish to help him acclimate to the Upper Midwest.  Unfortunately, I liked it about as much as my camera did (if anyone knows how to make hot-dish photos look hot, let me know):IMG_0372

5. kale salad (Official version) – LIVING on this (my bastardized version).  Quinoa is the bomb.

IMG_03486. No-Bake Cookies  via A Beautiful Mess; a Midwestern classic & fave of mine since childhood.  What a chance that there isn’t any gluten in them–no substitutions needed!

IMG_03927. Roast Veggies & Polenta: chop up whatever’s in your fridge–broccoli, peppers, tomatoes (please don’t store them in your fridge!), onions, carrots, combine with olive oil, salt & pepper, and roast at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes.  In the meantime, prepare some polenta–hint: it’s just grits, yellow cornmeal in boiling water, stir in some cream cheese or goat cheese at the end, if you’re feeling fancy.

 

P.S. check out my gluten free roundup #1, and my new recipes page!

how to make: curried butternut squash soup

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About three years ago, I decided on a whim to become an expert soup-maker.  It seemed like both an attainable and a noble goal–aside from being super useful!  I would now call myself a soup-expert; blended soups, stewy-soups, broths, cold, hot, ramen-y, I’ve made ’em all, and can throw together some pretty great options with a reasonable amount of ease.  Thank goodness it’s turning cooler and there are lots of squashes and hardy veggies available and appetizing again–though my mom makes a mean gazpacho, but it’s never been my jam.

Here’s a recipe I use all the time with lots of flexibility; it’s “naturally” gluten-free and freezes so beautifully:

Melt some butter and olive oil in a pot (I use my 4-qt dutch oven); add one chopped onion and some garlic, if you like it.  If you’ve got some celery and/or carrots that need to be used up, throw them in with the onion (chopped, of course).  Let those “aromatics” get soft, and maybe even a little bit brown (i love the flavor when onions get burnt around the edges, so sweet!).

Depending on when you’ve finished chopping the butternut squash (could be 1-2 pounds, or larger–whatever you’ve got; could also be a sweet potato or a few, instead!), throw it in and let it get a little color, too.  If your other veggies are already pretty far gone, add 1/2 – 1 cup white wine and scrape up the delicious bits of veggie and juice stuck to the bottom of the pot, and then add the squash.

Once all the vegetables are in with the wine, add chicken broth (or vegetable broth–or whatever gluten-free broth you want–I make my own, so I know what’s in it) to cover the vegetables by about an inch.  Add salt & pepper, and if you’re feeling wild, about 1 tablespoon curry powder.  You could throw in thyme instead, or rosemary–especially if you’ve used sweet potatoes.  Let the soup simmer till the squash is tender (when you poke it with a knife, it easily yields), and then let it cool a bit.  Either use an immersion blender (highly recommended) or a usual blender (in batches, so that the top doesn’t fly off!) to make a smooth soup, and then serve with goat cheese & more S&P, or ladle into bags or tupperware (or ice cube trays!) to freeze (if you use ziploc bags, lay them on a cookie sheet–they’ll freeze flat and then you can stack them for efficient storage!).

 

gluten-free roundup number 1

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(a little reminder to help me in my first week)

1. gluten-free gnocchi & 2. spicy pork ragu  the latter is a fail-safe favorite, first made for a cold, dark, windy Valentine’s Day in St. Louis; the gluten-free gnocchi, at least this recipe, wasn’t super successful (as in, keeping it stuck-together), but I’m curious to try this one next time.

3. veggie pasta a favorite from pre-gluten-free days, because it’s so veggie-rich.IMG_0280-2

4. apple and raspberry crumble (I subbed oat flour for the regular flour, and made about 1/2 recipe–just 4 apples, etc, for a smaller batch)

5. raspberry oat muffins I used oat flour instead of regular flour in the recipe, and put the batter in a muffin tin (baked for 20 minutes) instead of a loaf pan.  Though the muffins were more delicate, they firmed up enough to handle as they cooled down, and I love the oat-y texture.

6. chocolate meringues a naturally gluten-free dessert, a la Manger, my favorite French cooking & lifestyle blog.

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7. vegan brownies another pre-gluten-free favorite that has made the jump naturally–an easy, easy use for languishing bananas.

this morning

as I spent Monday morning sleeping the weekend off (in a facilitating-a-junior-high-retreat way, not in a Duke-girl-socialite way), my dear husband ran to CVS to buy more Allegra-D (the only way to survive autumn in South Carolina) and then sat in the next room, reading “his friend” (we use this phrase very liberally in the Hylden household) Rod Dreher’s blog.  When I awoke at noon (maybe I’m becoming the junior-highers with whom I spent the weekend…), I checked my email and found this excerpt:

“I started it on Sunday September 3. Here’s why I bring it up now: I found that after doing without wheat, corn, rice, and potatoes, the mono symptoms had dramatically declined. Not gone away, but gotten a lot better. Normally I have constant inflammation in my nasal passages, and feel worn down, as if my body were doing all it could to fight off an invader. That still happens, but not nearly as often. Every day I was having to take a nap several hours long, in the middle of the day. I’ve only had to do that once since I began this diet. I even noticed that symptoms of Raynaud’s Syndrome, an autoimmune condition with which I was diagnosed six or seven years ago, have become milder.”

While his wife was starting up the seasonal sudafed regimen and sleeping several hours in the middle of the day (of course, those two alone are probably related), Jordan stumbled upon the witness that broke the camel’s back.

IMG_0203I’ve been wondering about the relationship between gluten and autoimmune diseases for years (having activated my Rheumatoid Arthritis about this time of year 13 years ago), and toyed with going gluten-free two or three years ago.  In the end, my passion for baked goods, pasta, pizza, and all the good things in life (even a burgeoning affinity for beer) won out over trying a lifestyle without wheat.

The voices in my head of my doctor-father and my common-sense-filled (child-of-a-farmer) Midwestern husband, had helped my rationalization, along with colloquial witnesses that attested at least a six-month cleanse period before any effect was noticeable.

With the shift of Jordan’s vote and my generally-antsy feeling at this seasonal shift, I’m ready to try it.  Maybe not for six months, but if changes are noticed in a mere 5 days (as in Rod’s case), surely a few weeks is a reasonable goal.  Starting today (for better or worse, I didn’t have a croissant or any gluten this morning before my resolution), till the end of October (coincidentally, the anniversary of the day my RA went full tilt), I’m giving up gluten.

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As last November dawned, I remember thinking to myself, “Good lord, where did September and October go?!”  Trinity had hosted the former Archbishop, Lord Carey, I’d started up with the Canterbury College Ministry at USC, launched a monthly Drinks & Discussion, and I turned around, and autumn was gone almost without a mention or moment of reflection.

May this intentional and somewhat terrifying commitment demand a bit more attention to the present this season.

How are you mindful about what you eat and how it affects your general well-being?

how to make: berry tea loaf

They can sort of pass for quick bread, but they’re really more like cake–tea loaves are the best.  They’re the perfect thing to enjoy with an afternoon cup of tea.

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Without fail, I use this recipe.

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Though, this one, full of chocolate, is a major fave, too (From BAKED EXPLORATIONS).

And PUMPKIN BREAD, from a few years ago, on this blog (originally inspired by a Greek teacher of mine from college–he’d make it for us on test days).

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It’s one of those simple pleasures.