Friday, January 27, 2012

Gluten Free We: Adventures in Breadmaking

We found a great deal on a breadmaker at Costco during one of our weekly trips - yes, I understand a weekly trip to Costco is a bit excessive for a family of two, but considering the amount of produce we're consuming, it's the best quality fruits and veggies (mostly organic!) for the money - and snatched it up right quick. 

I was surprised Ben was not only supportive of the purchase, but excited about it as well. 

This is our model, and it doesn't have a ton of bells or whistles, but it does have a gluten free setting, and I can throw my ingredients in and let it do it's magic. 

A few posts ago I recommended Amy's post on why her and her hubs went GF, and in it she recommended this bread mix, by Gluten Free Pantry (which is Glutino). So, with our brand new bread maker in the trunk, we headed to New Seasons to pick up a box because I had no clue where to start making my own bread. Brownies and cakes from scratch is as advanced I have gotten in the baking department, and I was feeling a bit intimidated. New Seasons didn't have the mix Amy likes, but they did have this, and the picture on the front had me salivating for a warm, chewy piece of french bread. 

I got the machine ready, added my ingredients in the specific order as directed and pressed go. Three hours later, we had this:

It was pretty to look at and yummy to eat! Not quite the french bread I was used to (I think doing this mix by hand instead of in the machine may help), but it was really quite good! Success! Unfortunately, it was quite late when it finished baking and we put it away warm, so it became a little stale seeming the next day. 

Lesson learned, let bread cool completely before putting away.

A few days later Ben and I ventured to Bob's Red Mill and I nabbed a bunch of ingredients for GF baking. I wish I had thought to take a picture of this store - it's amazing! I used my two new cookbooks (this and this) as references, I purchased a bunch of flours and ingredients I had never otherwise heard of.

GF All purpose flour mix, brown rice flour, tapioca starch, buckwheat flour, potato starch, corn bread mix, pizza dough mix, xantham gum, and more...

Last Sunday, I couldn't fall back asleep after a call from my work woke me up (I always panic that I forgot I was scheduled and they are calling to remind me to come in, but that was not the case this time, thankfully) so I decided to use my early morning wake up for good.

I brought up my new go-to site for recipies, Pinterest, and found a bunch of recipes for bread made by hand. I searched a little further and found this tutorial on how to convert a recipe to be used in a bread machine. I had most of the ingredients, and the original recipe had a bunch of positive comments, so I started my first bread from scratch. 

The only thing I didn't have was sorghum flour, and the best substitution for it was brown rice flour, which I was already using as a major ingredient. I decided to throw caution to the wind and use some buckwheat flour instead of sorghum or extra brown rice and just see how it came out. Well, it was also a success! You can definitely taste the heartier flavor from the buckwheat, but the rice flavor is really mellow in comparison. The bread is soft and chewy and toasts up really nicely. 

The only thing is, it's super ugly. My first bread mixed into a nice round ball in the machine, but this one didn't. It never smoothed out, and I didn't know (or think) to try to smooth it out before cooking it...on well. This may be a good recipe to mix by hand and then cook in the bread machine, but the most important thing is that it tastes good, and it does!

My ugly little lumpy loaf
That's all the bread I've made so far, and considering it's only been two weeks and we still have bread in the fridge, I'll take a little bit off, but this is a whole new world of baking and experimenting and I'm excited to do more!

Gluten Free We: Days 10 - 27...oops

OMG you guys, talk about lack of updates! I was really hoping to document how we were doing with this whole gluten free thing on a live, in-the-moment basis, but I guess I fell off that bandwagon right quick! So sorry!

Well, we're 27 days into this new lifestyle (we do not call this a diet, because we're really truly trying to change our lives) and we're rocking it! To recap, we gave up gluten, dairy (lactose) and processed sugars on January 2nd (because we were really feeling the effects of NYE on the 1st, ifyouknowwhatI'msaying) and this is how we've fared so far.

We are still totally gluten free! I haven't been as much of a stickler about processed sugars, but by eating more organic and plant-based in general our exposure to junk like has been drastically reduced. Dairy has been the kicker - giving it up is difficult! We're certainly not swimming in dairy like we used to, but it's been surprising seeing how much of what we eat or plan to eat has milk or cheese.

Wanna know what we've been eating? I'll tell you, but it's not super exciting:

We've really relied on a mixture of quinoa and brown rice. We were big rice eaters before, and that hasnt' changed now, except we mix quinoa in and it makes our meal a little lighter feeling but packs a bigger nutritional punch. We mix the two and cook them in our rice cooker with chicken broth and it works perfectly.

One of our favorite meals is "Mexican Goulash" and we've adapted it to now include our quinoa/rice base, black beans, chicken, fresh salsa, and some avocado and eat it with GF chips - we like Food Should Taste Good Multigrain, or some local corn tortilla chips (I make sure to buy the kind made with corn only, obviously). Gone are the days of our cheese saturated, Rice-A-Roni filled, Dorito garnished goulash. Bring on the healthy stuff!

We still make one of my favorites, Filipino breakfast: rice (brown or jasmine), with bacon and fried eggs,  only now we've substituted Soy Sauce for Mrs. Bragg's Liquid Aminos. There is some taste difference from soy sauce (it's a little more "earthy"), but it's good.

And no, I did not buy 128 oz, I do not like soy sauce that much.

We've made street tacos with delicious skirt steak and fresh salsa and fresh guacamole. Again, I bought corn tortillas made from only corn. We also tried our first dose of lactose free sour cream, and much to my surprise (especially considering it has a yellow tinge), it tasted just like sour cream.

I de-glutinized my very favorite Kale and Gnocci soup (have you made this yet? OMG please do - it's amazing!) by omitting the gnocci (which is made with wheat flour) and substituting red potatoes and rice pasta. This was an epic fail in my opinion (though my guests gobbled it up and helped themselves to seconds), but mostly because in trying to use a less spicy sausage I took the opinion of the butcher and bought a sweeter sausage and it tasted like breakfast in my savory soup. Blech. Next time, I'll stick to my regular Mild Italian sausage and omit the rice pasta (which didn't work well for a soup) and try some GF gnocci I found. My sweet hubby also bought me a potato ricer so I can try making my own gnocci. We'll see how that goes...

We also put our cast-iron skillet to good use (I don't know what we used before we had this!) and grill chicken or pork and serve it with roasted brussel sprouts or steamed broccoli and risotto. This is our favorite so far (but we try to limit it because it's not dairy free)

One thing we have been missing in this whole new lifestyle: breakfast. We are big breakfast eaters and have thoroughly enjoyed big breakfasts on our days off. Ben found the most amazing pancake and waffle mix and it seriously makes the best waffles! We've tried a GF waffle mix and making our own buckwheat waffles, both of which were not bad, but certainly not up to par with what we were accustomed. However, while perusing a kitchen shop on the coast the other day, I found a GF version of our favorite waffle mix! We haven't tried it yet, but I'm so excited for our next morning off together so we can!

Just for good measure, I'm gonna add that the non-GF version of this mix pairs extremely well with this syrup:

Do yourself a favor and buy this. It's worth the spendy price tag!

I got on a little brownie kick and did my first bit of GF baking, but I cheated by using a mix. Ben picked this up at his work and it was really good

This kick was spurred on by picking up a batch of brownies from Bob's Red Mill, which were quite tasty, but not as good as the Stonewall Kitchen.

*BTW, I didn't realize I loved Stonewall Kitchen so much, but they carry it at Ben's work and he gets a discount so he'll sometimes bring home something, and everything we've tried has been delicious!

We've also been doing a ton of juicing. We try to replace one meal a day with a juice and then be sure to have fresh fruits or veggies for snacks throughout the day. I'll have to do a more detailed post about our juicing, but we love it and I think it's single-handedly made the biggest difference in how we feel.

Lastly, we purchased a bread maker and I've done a little experimenting with GF bread. I've only made two loaves so far, but both have been edible, so I'm on a roll already! Ha!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Gluten Free We: Days 7, 8 & 9

One week down!

When we started this month, I was sure we'd be suffering and this would be so hard. How wrong I was! Seriously, this was so much easier than I anticipated. There are so many non-gluten options, many of which we already eat (rice especially) and I don't feel like we've suffered at all.

Well, I should say, I definitely did suffer when I was silly and decided to give up the goodness of coffee. Silly girl. But, after I let that magic nectar back into my life, it was smooth sailing!

I'm pretty pooped from working, but I thought I'd just pop in with an update saying we're still going strong and I feel so empowered by these past 9 days! I am usually one to throw in the towel early on in the game, but not with this. This feels right and I feel so good! I do know that we will eventually slip and will eventually put some processed junk into our bodies, but I really hope (and believe) this is the start of a lifelong journey of health and good choices for our family.

I'll check back again in a few days. Until then, eat some veggies - I sure will!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Gluten Free We: Day 6

First day all on my own. I've gotta say, I felt the boredom cravings this afternoon, but I didn't give in!

This was breakfast:

Which made for a two full glasses of juice (I usually only have one)

I did some laundry as I caught up on Gossip Girl and then had my new favorite for lunch

Seriously, these are delish!

I had leftovers for early dinner and then another juice a few hours after that.

This one wasn't my favorite, but it was definitely packed with healthy stuff (tomato, carrot, celery, kale, apple, cucumber).

I went for a swim after dinner and had to force myself to not stop somewhere and get something to eat. Seriously, I had such a craving for something bad, but I couldn't let myself do it! I came home and had some mixed nuts and tried out my new gadget:

This was my first time using it, and I wasn't sure how'd it work, but it was great! Just fill the bottom with a layer of kernels and add a little butter on the lid and in 2.5 mins you have a perfectly popped batch of popcorn without any chemicals or grossness! I love me some popcorn, so this is perfect!

This is more than a "Diet"

Hi, my name is Stephanie and I really want to have a baby.

Did you know that? Ha!

I think within a few minutes of knowing me (or reading my blog) you'd easily see my desire to be a mommy. I've always wanted to, and if I'd be a mom was never the question, it was when. In a plan that was different from my own, but perfect for me, God gave me a man whose desire to have a children was not nearly as strong as mine. Ben is practical and responsible about having children, and his realistic view on our bearing offspring has been healthy to my "they're so cute and cuddly and squishy and they smell so good, let's have four now!" view.

When we got married we decided five years was a good time to wait before trying to get pregnant. We figured we'd have life figured out by then. Our money would be plentiful (ha!) and our saving strong. We'd own a home and our marriage would be rock solid, then we'd be "ready" for babies. Well, here we are, four and a half years later, knocking on the door of our timeline, and wouldn't you know it, life has kicked in and we have accomplished any of these goals! Well, that's not exactly true, our marriage is pretty stinkin' strong. Yes, we still fight about stupid things and we sometimes struggle with communication, but we're HUMAN and that will probably never change. We're still in love, in fact, we're more in love - in real love - than we were when we became man and wife.

Ok, so I've gotten off track a little bit, I wanted to write this post because on Thursday our life transitioned from a season of waiting to a season of preparation. I had my IUD removed. Sometime in the next year, (Lord willing) we will get pregnant. My body will house our unborn baby. Wow! Seriously, typing that just gave me goosebumps. By a season of preparation I mean, I need to prepare my body for such a feat. There is a huge responsibility to give my baby, my body and my life the best chance at success by getting ready for such a big thing.

It's a scary thing to start looking into our bodies are exposed to. So many things we put on and into our bodies are chemically altered and not at all natural. We unknowingly poison our bodies with products that have been regulated as safe. Sure, that specific piece of food won't kill me, but a lifetime of additives and byproducts may! We've embarked on a change in our diet this past week, and no, it's not necessarily the gluten-free thing that will help make me healthy, it's consciously choosing products that are as close to their natural, organic form as possible. We were not made to eat chemicals and toxins!

The simple fact is, I want by body to be strong and healthy.

I want to go into our pregnancy knowing I have done everything I can to make my body as safe and healthy for our unborn baby. I want to have confidence in my strength. I want to know I didn't go into this amazingly huge thing half-assed and unprepared. I don't want to have to worry about pregnancy weight onto of my starting weight. I want to be proud of the body I had before having a baby, and then proud of the body I have when I am pregnant, and then even after.

This is not just about weight. To be honest, I care little about the numbers on the scale (obviously, I think most chubby people don't really care, or they'd do something about it!). I care about what my body can do. I want to be able to run up stairs without being winded. I want to see an add for a particularly bad-for-you-food and not feel like I need one right now. I want to crave veggies and fruit, not hamburgers! I want to eat when I'm hungry, and say no when I'm not. I want to feel stifled and yucky if I don't work out. I'd love to look hot in a pair of designer jeans, but more than that I want to be healthy, as evidenced by my actions.

So, here I am, a few days in, and I am excited. I have never entered a "diet" so strong, but maybe because this isn't a diet, it's truly a lifestyle change. I am changing my life. We are changing our lives.

And, I'll do my best to document it all here!

Friday, January 6, 2012

Gluten Free We: Day 5

I'm starting to dig this new diet!

I don't feel deprived of anything. Sure, I'd like an ice cream, but not any more than I do on a usual night, ha! Seriously though, I feel really good and my temptations have been super minimal compared to other restrictive diets I've done in the past (when I was on Medifast I was pretty sure I was going to rip someone's head off if I didn't get a freaking Saltine, NOW!).

Ben and I have been eating really well! I don't think we feel so good necessarily because of the lack of gluten, but because of the amount of fresh, good food. We never eat this much fruit or vegetables, nor do we have them be such a major part of our meals. We've always been good Americans whose meals center around a nice piece of meat, some starch on the side and a little bit of veggies to round things out. Not this past week though. I love having so much produce and good-for-you food in our diet, I am already starting to feel the effects of such good choices!

I asked Ben what he has noticed most about these past five days, and his answered echoed mine: I have so much energy! Now, we're not running marathons or massively spring cleaning or anything, but waking up in the morning has been less of a chore, and after running around all day, I didn't feel the need to lay down on the couch and take a nap, and neither did Ben when he got off of work! This is big stuff people! We usually love our naps!

Ben is recording with his buddies all weekend, and I think I'll try to up my juice intake even more and experiment a little more with veggies juices (fruit seems more logical to me) and try to get three a day in instead of two.

For breakfast this morning, I had some green juice


1/2 Pear
1/2 Granny Smith Apple
1/2 Cucumber
3 stalks Celery
1 cup Spinach

We've been experimenting with different types of fruits and vegetable for juicing and a few things we've learned are: spinach and kale produce very little juice, cucumber and celery produce a lot of juice and have strong flavors, pears add a nice, gentle sweetness, and apples just a bit of tartness, which is really refreshing. Regular tomatoes are not too strong flavor-wise, but adding a few cherry ones really ups the sweetness factor. Carrots are perfects for sweet or savory juices. And, pineapple makes a delicious juice!

After running around all morning with my to-do list still keeping me away from home for a few more hours, I stopped at Jamba Juice for a two all-fruit smoothies, one for me, and one to surprise my hubby with while he was at work. I'm such a good wife! ha!

I stopped by New Seasons on the way home (having one right in our backyard is amazing!) and picked up a splurge for my weekend:

They're pretty good!

When Ben got off work I made my favorite juice yet:

2 slices Pineapple
handful mixed Berries
3 Carrots
1 Cucumber
1 Tangerine

To which my husband said, "This is delicious, but did you put anything healthy in here?" Ummm...hello? It's fruit and veggies, of course it's healthy! I probably should have added some spinach in order to boost the veggie portion, but it was pretty stinkin' good!

I made dinner while Ben packed for his weekend, and considering I made it up on the fly, it was pretty good too! I did a 2/3 mixture of brown rice to quinoa (cooked in chicken stock in the rice cooker) and browned some Mild Italian Sausage from New Seasons (all natural, btw). I sauteed that with some red peppers and onion, mixed in the rice/quinoa when it was done and added a little aged parmesan cheese (lactose free) and cilantro at the end.


Now, I'm gonna run to the gym (before I lose my motivation and start watching Gossip Girl) and maybe go to work tonight (I'm on-call).

Here's to more good stuff and less junk!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Gluten Free We: Days 3 & 4

I didn't do a ton of research specifically about going gluten free, but I did do some. I found the Gluten Free Goddess's posts on getting started and how to go gluten free were super helpful, as was Amy's post about why her and her DH went gluten free.

Ben and I have been talking about buying a juicer for a long time, but I've always thought they were too expensive and too big for us to store when we eventually jumped off the juicing band wagon. However, considering 2012 is the year for actually getting in shape (and for making a baby, but more on that later), I thought it would be a great tool for our overall health. So, Ben lucked out and got one at his store. On Sunday we took this sucker home:

On Sunday night, while floating on a healthy high after a produce filled, gluten free shopping trip at Whole Foods we decided to check out the documentary "Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead" which had been popping up all over my Facebook feed for weeks. It's all about juicing! Ha! Go figure, we jump on a big trend without even meaning to! It was a very well done documentary and really interesting and eye opening. We're not going to juice fast for 30 days or anything, but we may do a modified juice cleanse next week. However, the health benefits of consuming a plate full of vegetables in one sitting are amazing and I'm excited we have this fun new tool!

Ok, now onto day three: I still had to work, but was ready for some yummy juice and my new favorite treat: my buckwheat waffle! I was feeling my third day of work in a row, and where I would usually treat myself to a latte or mocha, I decided to change it up with a trip to the whole food market at work and got some local blackberry juice and some "Food Should Taste Good" sweet potato chips. Such a yummy treat!

It was more GF chicken noodle soup and some tangerines for lunch, with a brown rice cake and a piece of lactose-free cheese for a late snack. I also snagged a "Kind" bar from Starbucks when I was getting a gift card for a coworker, it was yummy! 

That night we had to pick Ben's sister up from the airport and we decided to attempt our first meal out. We choose mexican, knowing we could have corn tortillas and just skip the cheese and sour cream. Unfortunately, the restaurant we choose was a big, fat failure and we were considerably underwhelmed with our dinner - but it had nothing to do with the lack of cheese or gluten!

Today was day four and it has been my favorite yet, but mostly because I was off work and got to spend the whole day with this guy:

Ben is having a recording weekend with his band this weekend, and I was bummed to not get to spend a whole day with him, so he sweetly offered to go with me to my two appointments this morning. I love this guy! 

He even made me breakfast and it was my favorite juice yet:

1/2 Naval orange
2 Cutie Tangerines
1/2 Granny Smith Apple
1 cup Spinach


Instead of a date night, we had a date lunch and had some delicious sushi! This proved to be a bit difficult however, because soy sauce has wheat in it, and my go-to roll (Tempura shrimp roll) is coated with flour! Oh well, we improvised and thoroughly enjoyed our meal!

After a little shopping and driving through the country we made it home just in time for another juice. This one was a little more savory, but still very good!

1/2 Beefsteak Tomato
3 Cherry Tomatoes
3 stalks Celery
3 Carrots
1/4 Red Bell Pepper
1/2 cup Spinach
1/2 cup Kale
few sprigs Cilantro

We had honey-mustard chicken with broccoli and sauteed kale for dinner while we watched "Forks over Knives" which was good, but not as well done as "Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead."

I had a pretty strong hankering for some dessert tonight, but I think it was out of habit more than anything. I've also noticed a more hollow (not hungry) feeling after a dinner without carbs, which must be my body just being in shock but that's just something I've got to get used to!

Gluten Free We: Days 1 & 2

Yesterday Ben and I started the New Year off well: we went gluten free. Not just gluten free, but dairy (lactose) and processed sugar free as well.

My husband has a very sensitive stomach and many foods cause him all sorts of drama in his gut. He is often in pain and feels miserable because of something he ate. It hasn't been easy to pinpoint what is causing his system stress, and on the advice of his doctor, we're trying an elimination diet. I've suspected gluten for a long time, but Ben's thought carbonation, beer, and some types of dairy have been the culprets. Though he's had these issues for years, he's never wanted to risk missing out on his favorite foods for the sake of his stomach. Well, now, considering his pain is getting worse and more frequent as well as a general desire to clean up our diet, we're finally embarking on the elimination diet train, with a few tweaks.

It may be that Ben is officially Celiac and allergic to all kinds of things, but this month is about identifying some key triggers and cutting them out, mainly gluten and dairy, specifically, lactose. The processed sugar thing is just something I've been wanting to do for a while and now finally have the gusto to actually go for it.

We decided to be totally original and start our diet on January 1st, but the effects of the night before lingered a bit longer than we hoped and we decided to start on the 2nd.

The game plan was simple: no gluten, no processed sugars, no lactose (and minimal other dairy products) and for me, no coffee.

On the morning of day 1, I was pumped and ready to do this thing. I had to go to work, making my normal dash out the door with a cup of yogurt or a piece of toast a no-go, so I prepared some green tea and some gluten free oatmeal. The oatmeal was not what I hoped it would be! I had to doctor the oatmeal up with a little raw sugar and a bit more water, and even then, I felt like I was munching on the ground as I ate. Oh well, I hopped in the car and finished it on the go.

The rest of the day consisted of fruits and veggies, as well as my first can of gluten free chicken noodle soup. The broth was a little thick for my taste, but it wasn't bad. I was excited to be doing something positive with my diet and I thought the headache I had coming on was bearable and probably to be expected. I trudged through the rest of my day with some more veggies and lots of water.

When I got home I was famished and my headache was getting worse. Ben made a delicious dinner of brown rice and quinoa with black beans, ground turkey and fresh salsa. We even had some "Food Should Tast Good" multigrain chips to complement the meal. It was so yummy and I was starving, I had to literally force myself to stop "tasting" my food before I finally sat down to eat. I devoured my dinner and settled onto the couch for some TV.

All of a sudden, the fatigue I had been ignoring all day crept up with a vengence. My head began to pound and it was all I could do to get myself upstairs and ready for bed. I started to really question what exactly I had been eating before today. How was it that one day of clean eating could effect me so drastically? How horrible was my diet that 16 hours without gluten, dairy and sugar would make me feel like a truck was doing circles on top of my head? I pondered this as my head hit the pillow and I slept like a rock.

5:45 am on day 2 came quickly, but I felt refreshed after my sleep. I can't say I had a ton of energy, but I wasn't as sluggish as I normally am, but that could be because I went to bed at a descent hour the night before. Anyway, onto breakfast: We had invested in a juicer the day before we started this diet and Ben was going to make me my first one for breakfast. I was a bit skeptical, but excited. Ben made me a pear, green apple, cucumber and spinach juice and I toasted us each one Wildberry Buckwheat frozen waffle. This breakfast was much more palatable than day one's was! I quite enjoyed my juice and noted that the cucumber has a very strong, refreshing flavor, and the waffles (I am a die-hard Eggo lover, btw) were quite delicious, if only a bit mushier than regular (processed) frozen waffles. Not to shabby for day two!

I went onto work enjoyed a Cherry Pie Lara bar while I charted. This was a crazy day at work, but I didn't cheat or steal any crackers out of the pantry (I am a big fan of Saltines, especially when I'm slammed and I just need something to fill my stomach). I was super excited for my lunch of leftovers and snacked on some tangerines in the hours between my morning snack and lunch (which was around 3 pm because we were really, really busy).

I was feeling pretty good energy-wise, and still proud that I didn't bend at all - nor did I feel super tempted to - even when someone broke out donuts and chocolate bars, but I could not shake my headache. It was killer. I noticed I started to get snippy and impatient. People were irritating for things that should not have been irritating. I needed some coffee.

Now, I should explain my coffee addiction to everyone. It's not bad, in fact, considering I have one cup of black coffee or espresso a day (sometimes we go crazy and steam milk with our espresso) and an additional latte 2 or 3 times a week, it's quite mild. However, these two days of no coffee sure put my statements of "Coffee doesn't really effect me, I only drink it because I like it, I don't need it" to rest once and for all: I NEED MY COFFEE!

Around 3pm I couldn't bear my headache and my trusty self-indulgent and destructive thoughts started to kick in full-force and I caved:

And, as if God himself sanctioned my coffee splurge, Starbucks was brewing their final bag of Christmas blend. I couldn't even get this stuff at Christmas! I dived into that black, miracle liquid and all was right with my world. About 10 sips in, my headache was gone and my smile was back. I floated through the rest of my day and chose not to think about what a powerful drug caffeine truly is.

Though I felt a bit bad I couldn't even make my restrictions last two whole days, I felt OK with my decision that one black coffee a day really wasn't so bad.

Dinner was one of my favorites, "Filipino Breakfast" but modified. We used brown rice fresh from the rice cooker, not fried, and Amino Acid soy sauce instead of traditional soy sauce, which contains wheat. It was super delicious and though the new sauce was a bit more "earthy" it was a delicious meal!

Ok, so that wraps up day #2 (and it's currently day #4) and I've got to get this published and move'm just gonna go...