Gluten free in real life
This week was my 24th wedding anniversary. I can’t believe it’s been that long! To celebrate we went to a Bed and Breakfast in Provo, and spent the evening walking around reminiscing about living there 24 years ago while attending BYU. We were just babies back then!
Ever sentimental (not!), I bought both of our anniversary presents. I purchased 12 glass bottles for fermenting kombucha for my husband, and I bought myself “The Big Book of Kombucha” recipe book - yes it’s called that! We are very weird around our house. If you don’t know what kombucha is, where have you been?? It’s a hippie-like fermented beverage made from sweet tea. It’s full of lots of happy probiotics for good gut health, which makes me happy too.
As I looked around my kitchen, trying to find room somewhere for these 12 really cool fermenting bottles, I realized I’m weird in multiple ways. I have three half gallon jars of kombucha in the making above the oven. I have goat milk kefir fermenting on the counter, ready for tomorrow’s smoothies. I have my sourdough starter in the fridge, after using it for seedy sourdough bread and sourdough crepes earlier in the week. Next to the starter is a jar of raw goat cheese, getting more and more fermented as the days go by.
But it doesn’t stop in the kitchen… Downstairs I have a huge crock of dilly pickles fermenting away, another few jars of fermenting Russian pickles, a big jar of kimchi, another of green sauerkraut and another of red. They sit next to big jar of fermented dilly beans and garlic. Yes, it looks very much like a mad scientist’s laboratory down there (see photo below). And the smell is a little off if you’re not used to it!
Remembering lost traditions
This is the way people have been preserving food for centuries. Long before refrigeration, canning or freezing, people fermented and dried the food if they wanted to store it for later. I call this time of year the “squirrel days”, because we are squirreling away food. Yes, I know there are supermarkets, but will they always be there, and even more importantly, do I really want to eat what they are selling?
I could go off on this subject for days, but I promised to follow up on the gluten free post last week. So, this long intro does serve a purpose. All of the foods I described above are gluten free. Isn’t that amazing. That’s one of my biggest pet peeves about this gluten free craze. All of a sudden people can’t figure out what to eat. I bet you can name 20 foods right now that don’t have gluten in them. Apples, oranges, watermelon, carrots, tomatoes, lettuce, cabbage, cheese, rice, meat, eggs, butter, beans, potatoes, sweet potatoes, oats, quinoa, cucumbers, chocolate, broccoli, peaches………. Why in the world have we forgotten how to eat when we are choosing not to eat gluten??
How we do it
I’m going to share some gluten free eating tips and recipes with you to make this dietary choice easier, and less expensive. You’ll notice I will not mention one single processed “gluten-free” product. All of these foods are naturally now and always gluten free. You’ll also notice most of these foods are whole foods. Yes, this does increase your prep time (slightly), but along with that it increases your nutritional value exponentially and your costs go down. Try to complain about either of those things.
I want to clarify something first - I do not have celiac disease, I am just very sensitive to the gluten protein found in some grains. So I can eat a fermented sourdough wheat bread on occasion, and I don’t have to make sure there isn’t a speck of the grain in anything. You may be like me, or more sensitive. It’s hard to figure that out unless you go very clean for awhile. I will teach you how to do that, and you can back off if you are able later.
Typical day in our gluten free home:
The Night Before… We always prepare for the coming day, because it makes our food choices easier.
- Smoothie prep- we put the dry smoothie ingredients in the blender - protein powder, chia seeds, etc. We leave the bottle on the blender ready to add the liquids and frozen to in the morning.
- Lunch making - we pack leftovers from dinner up for lunch the next day. Inexpensive and easy - just double the recipe for dinner.
- Make dinner - I prepare something in the crockpot and rice cooker at least 3 times a week (I’ll include some recipes). I make it all the night before, put it in the crock, and the whole crock goes in the fridge overnight. I start it in the morning and dinner is ready when I get home. This saves SOOO much money, and I can’t tell you how happy I am when driving home from a long day at work and I remember dinner is done on the counter at home.
Common complaint...I’m too tired! Do this for me. Prepare for the next day for one week, and I think you will see the time you save the next day, the yummy nutritious food you enjoy, and the stress that is relieved is worth any energy you expend at night. Try it. You just might like it:)
- Eggs - we have eggs for breakfast at least 4-5 days per week. At a few dollars a dozen, this is inexpensive, and it will keep you and your kids full for much longer during the day.
- Oatmeal - Are oats gluten free?? Yes, they are. However, sometimes they are grown in fields that have also grown wheat, or are processed in facilities that have also processed wheat. So if you have celiac you will want to avoid oats. If not, they are a very inexpensive, filling breakfast.
- Smoothies - we freeze fruit all fall so we can make smoothies all year. Ours are simple - fruits and veggies, goat milk kefir, protein powder and chia seeds if we want a little boost.
- Extras - on weekends we will make french toast or pancakes (sourdough are to die for), or German pancakes. All can be easily made gluten free.
Common complaint...It takes too long to make breakfast! Cereal is all I can do. (PLEASE don’t just buy gluten-free versions of cereal. It’s is so expensive, and it’s about as nutritious as the cardboard box they sell it to you in.) We have not had cereal in our home in at least 5 years. So here’s how we do it. First, we just don’t have it, so we don’t have that option. Second, everyone helps in our home. From toddler age up, everyone is involved in making meals. One kid is in charge of making eggs or oatmeal for breakfast, so it frees me up to make smoothies. Eggs take 4 minutes to cook. You can find 4 minutes!
- Like I said above, weekday and weekend lunches are leftovers from dinner the night before.
- One of our greatest investments was some good, spill proof tupperware-type containers. We bought three sizes for each person and we write their initial in the corner of the lid and the container. If they used it today, they hand wash it before filling it for tomorrow. Saves on dishwasher space and using disposable baggies. We love the “Lock and Lock” brand of containers because they hold up to being tossed around in lunch bags, and they DO NOT spill!
- I know some kids and adults don’t have a way to heat up food, so here are some non-heat lunch ideas:
- Boiled eggs
- Sliced veggies - carrots, cucumbers, celery, cherry tomatoes, etc
- Sliced or whole fruit - orange, apples, kiwi, grapes, strawberries, other berries, etc
- Dried fruit - apricots, bananas, etc
- Olives, artichoke hearts, pickles
- Yogurt, string cheese, cottage cheese (PLEASE don’t get the sugar full yogurt. Buy plain and add fruit)
- Leftover cooked veggies - I love cold beans and broccoli
- Lunch meat and cheese roll ups (you don’t need the bread or tortilla!) Add lettuce for a crunch.
- Hummus or peanut butter for dipping with veggies or nut thin crackers
- Trail mix, nuts
Common Complaint...I don’t want the same thing every day! Great - so mix and match the list above for a different lunch every day for months!!
- My biggest complaint with “american” food is that it doesn’t have much flavor. So we rotate through ethnic meals (see below). You’ll get a lot of “this is SOOO Good” comments!
- I believe in meals that have few ingredients, short prep times, and are big on nutrition. Sounds heavenly doesn’t it?? Here is a sample week and the recipes below:
- Monday: Burrito Bowls
- Tuesday: Sausage, Potato Soup (Zuppa Tuscano from Olive Garden), green salad
- Wednesday: Crockpot spaghetti sauce with rice noodle pasta (this is one processed food we eat some of), cooked or sliced veggies
- Thursday: Korean Bibimbop
- Friday: Cowboy Stew, corn chips, fruit salad
- We bought some giant soup bowls at an Asian market, so all you need for a lot of these meals is that big bowl for each person.
Common complaint...I don’t have time to make a from scratch meal. My answer. It takes no more time than trying to figure out what to make, searching your cupboards, running to the store, even going out to eat. I plan my menu on Sunday night and shop Monday if I need anything. I always can make something in 30 minutes or less.
Pile the beans and rice in a bowl. Top with your choice of lettuce, tomatoes, other veggies, salsa, cheese, etc. Cabbage salsa makes it all the more yummy if you have the time to make it.
Soak 2-3 cups of black beans overnight. Cover them with at least 2 inches of water.
In the morning, drain and rinse beans. Put in crockpot with a piece of Kombu seaweed (helps with gas - optional). Cover with 2 inches of water. Cook on low for 8-10 hours. Dip off the liquid and mash with potato masher. Add salt to taste – will want to add 1 t then taste for more.
- 2 C brown rice
- 3 ½ C water
- 1 small can tomato sauce
- 1 t spices (either Mexican spice mix or cumin, chili powder, garlic powder and oregano)\
- 1t salt
Put all into rice cooker in the evening and start in the morning. Cook on brown rice setting.
- 1 small head cabbage, shredded
- 2 tomatoes, chopped
- ¼ C cilantro, chopped
- 1-2 carrots, chopped
- 2 green onions, chopped
- 1 lime, juiced
- 1 t olive oil
- 1 T rice vinegar or white vinegar
- Salt and pepper to taste
Mix all together and let sit to blend flavors for a few minutes
Slow Cooker Zuppa Toscana
- 1 pound Italian sausage (I’ve made it without meat and it tastes great too)
- 3 russet potatoes, chopped into bite sized chunks
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 large white onion, finely chopped
- 4 cups chicken broth
- 2 cups kale or Swiss chard, rinsed and chopped
- 1 cup cream or milk - non dairy is okay
- salt and pepper, to taste
Brown Italian sausage in skillet. Drain and discard fat.Combine all ingredients except cream and kale in slow cooker. Cook on low 7-8 hours, or on high for 4-5.
Add cream and kale to slow cooker, stir, and cook until leaves are wilted and warmed through, 20-30 minutes. Ladle into bowls, serve immediately and enjoy!
Slow Cooker Spaghetti Sauce
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 28 ounce can tomato sauce
- 6 ounce can tomato paste
- 29 ounce diced tomatoes
- 2 bay leaves
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
- 3/4 teaspoon dried oregano
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Optional - chopped carrot, green pepper, mushrooms, celery
Heat olive oil in a skillet and saute onion until softened. Add garlic and cook a few minutes longer. If you added additional veggies, add them now and saute for a few minutes. Put the veggies and all the other ingredients into a crock pot.
Cook on low for 7-8 hours. Shortly before serving, remove the bay leaves and taste the sauce. If there’s a slight bitterness, add 1 tablespoon sweetener which will eliminate the bitterness. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Bibimbop (this is basically a Korean version of burrito bowl!)
Cook brown rice in the rice cooker.
In the bowl top the rice with veggies of your choice - put each into small pile on top and it looks pretty!
Carrots, cut into thin strips
Cucumber, cut into strips
Cooked bean sprouts, sauteed in a little sesame oil and seasoned with salt
Cooked spinach, sauteed in a little sesame oil and seasoned with salt
Mushrooms, thinly sliced and sauteed in peanut oil and seasoned with salt
Put an over-easy egg on the top of the rice and veggies. Then top with either gluten free soy sauce (called Tamari) or the Bibimbop sauce (recipe below)
Bibimbop sauce (I make extra and keep it in the fridge)
4 tablespoons gochuchang chili paste (available at Korean grocers)
1 T sugar
1 T sesame seeds
1 T cider vinegar
2 t sesame oil
1 clove garlic, minced
Combine all ingredients in a small bowl. Mix well.
- 1 pound browned hamburger (can use turkey)
- 2 cloves chopped garlic
- 1 can tomato sauce
- 1 can diced Italian seasoned tomatoes
- 1 can tomatoes with green chilies
- 1 can corn, drained
- 2 cans whole baby potatoes, drained
- 1 can Ranch Style beans (with the baked beans in the grocery store)
- 1 cup water
- sliced jalapeno peppers for garnish (optional)
Brown the hamburger with the chopped garlic. Drain the fat. Dump all cans into the crockpot. Drain the corn and the potatoes, but add the rest of the can liquid to the crockpot. Add the browned meat and a cup of water. Stir with a spoon to mix a bit.
Cover and cook on low for 8-10 hours, or on high for 4-5. Garnish with sliced jalapeno peppers, if desired.
Can't Find Ranch Beans at your grocery store? No Problem!! simply mix together:
1 (15-ounce) can pinto beans (plus the goop!)
1/2 teaspoon brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon vinegar (white or apple cider)
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon cumin
Enjoy!Dr. Michelle Jorgensen