Sunday, October 16, 2011

Chocolate Covered Everything

I love chocolate.  I'll eat just about any kind but I really love the way a good dark chocolate tastes.  I love chocolate ice cream, chocolate candy, chocolate milk.  I have a sugar addiction, so I work really hard to not buy candy all the time like I used to.  A typical lunch for me five years ago was a huge bag of peanut m&ms and a medium coke slurpee...  And yeh, that was right before I got really sick and figured out gluten is my enemy.

I'm really stringent with food labels, except for when it comes to chocolate and junk food.  I have yet to find a candy bar, that's not at whole foods, that is labeled gluten free.  The same goes for ice cream.  Only the fancy brands mention allergen precautions.  Since my move to Denver, I've taken to making my own ice cream.  It prevents gluten contamination, reduces how much ice cream I eat, and therefore my sugar intake.  I could write a whole series of posts on my ice cream adventures!

My last boss worked for a chocolate distributer and she endowed me with a huge bar of semi-sweet chocolate.  Part of it finally got put to use last night when a friend brought over a container of strawberries!  Here's the chocolate covered insanity that ensued...

Step 1: Using a double boiler, or a precarious two pot set up like mine,  melt the chopped chocolate or chocolate chips.  Melt it slowly on a medium heat, stirring frequently, especially once it really starts to melt.  The water needs to touch the bottom of the small pot but water should not get into the chocolate.  I used three chunks of chocolate from my huge bar.  I have no idea how much that was, but it looked like a good amount for the pot.

Step 2: Thoroughly wash and dry the strawberries.  We had one pint minus a few because they looked so good!

 Step 3: When the chocolate is thoroughly melted, remove it from the heat, dip those strawberries, and stir the chocolate as needed.

Step 4: Place the strawberries on parchment paper and put the in the in the fridge to set.  Try not to eat them yet!  They will taste even better when the chocolate has hardened.
Then, I added a big scoop of peanut butter to the chocolate and put it back on to melt.  Once it was melted and mixed, we dipped marshmallows in it!  I tried to set them upright but quickly gave up on that dream.
There was still chocolate left when we ran out of marshmallows!  My friend noticed the box of rice chex on top of my fridge and suggested we make muddy buddies, or as I grew up calling it, puppy chow.  We improvised based on the directions on the box.  It's almost gone already...

The strawberries and marshmallows are for a dinner party tonight.  It is so hard to ignore them every time I open my fridge!

Happy Chocolate Coating!

Friday, September 30, 2011

Stone Soup & Blog As You Go

My favorite ways to cook are to either plan the meal and purchase the ingredients the day that I need them or to invent something to eat from what I have in my fridge and cupboards.  Seeing as it is 10pm and I just got home from class where we talked about muscles and food and cells and food and disease and food,  I'm pretty hungry and I have to go with option B.

(There's also this really huge pressure in holistic nutrition school to appear to be as healthy as you can.  I'm sure I'm inventing the pressure and that my classmates really wouldn't judge me if they knew I had a big bag of peanut m&ms and a chocolate milk on my way to class...)

I decided during break halfway through class that I should base my meal off the frozen lentils that are left over from making a mushroom pilaf that turned into a casserole a few days later when I added a can of cream of mushroom soup.  Yeh, I'm thrifty.  So, Stone Soup it is.  I also know that the only way I'm going to write about this is if I do it as I'm cooking and load the pictures while it's simmering.

Step 1: Accumulate ingredients on the least appropriate surface.

My mess of ingredients: frozen lentils, canned garbanzo beans, 1/2 an onion, 1 1/2 carrots, yellow squash, fresh basil, banana peppers, garlic powder, cayenne, curry, spinach, Better Than Bouillon, olive oil. (Sesame oil got added in in the last minute.)

Step 2: Prep the vegetables and saute them in a pot with olive oil.  Don't forget the spices!

Step 3: Add beans, lentils, and water and cover for a while.  Bring to a simmer and stir when you feel moved to stir.  Add bouillon at this time if you feel like it.

Step 4: Clean and take pictures as you go!  Time to prep the fresh-but-dilapidated basil and the nearing-its-last-legs spinach.  I thought I'd cut them into strips and put them in towards the end.  So much for what I thought!  The basil much preferred to be mangled.

Step 6: Stir it and smell it and decide if it's done or needs a few more minutes.  Take the opinion of your grumbling stomach and serve it up with (a measuring cup because you don't have a ladle) the remnants of a bag of tortilla chips!

PS- My pictures from my last Avotacos were blurring because I took them on an actual digital camera and not my phone.  I am not out of avocados so pictures will have to wait.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Everything on a Corn Tortilla

When I first realized I needed to avoid gluten, I was pretty poor and there weren't many gluten free alternatives in the grocery stores.  Baking was pretty much impossible in my tiny studio kitchen and the cookbooks and recipes that were around were intimidating and called for a dozen obscure flours before you could even get started.  I was a carb junkie and had to have something besides white and brown rice!

I discovered that corn tortillas were naturally gluten free and found a local Chicago company that sold a dozen for 35 cents.  I ate corn tortillas constantly.  I spread them with Miracle Whip (which was not technically gluten free at the time) and rolled lunch meat and cheese up in them.  I made cheese quesadillas to dip in salsa.  I made tacos, fajitas, and even enchiladas when I got more adventurous.  For a snack when I'd get home late, I'd toast tortillas right on the burner, slather them with hummus and add some cucumber slices.  I've even eaten a corn tortilla burger and used a corn tortilla to wrap around a hot dog.

I quickly tired of corn tortillas and craved the soft consistency of wheat flour ones.  At about this time, grocery stores expanded their selections and I became a lot better at reading labels.  A good kitchen was a priority for me now and I started baking, but mostly from mixes.  With added variety in my diet, I enjoyed the occasional corn tortilla but no longer felt that I was torturing myself with them.

I just recently moved to Denver, forcing me to look into different brands of tortillas.  Oh, and I'm really poor again so I can't afford to buy fancy pre-made breads.  While shopping with a friend, we decided to split a huge pack of tortillas.  She insisted on white corn which I had never heard of before.  I have been hooked ever since!  They have a smoother texture and toast up more like the forbidden wheat flour kind.  Or at least what I think I remember they were like...

I have been slowly eating my way through a bag of 50 corn tortillas and loving every bite!  I made chicken fajitas using only the spices I had on hand from this recipe.  But my favorite new use is for Avotacos.  Simply put, I toast two or three tortillas, smear on cream cheese, add slices of avocados, and a dash of salt and pepper.  It makes a fantastic breakfast or snack and I am thoroughly addicted.  I was going to take a picture of this mornings Avotacos but I over cooked the tortillas and they broke when I folded them in half.  It wouldn't have made a pretty picture but I will try again tomorrow to get a nice shot.

Any corn tortilla suggestions?  I still have 27 to go!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

The Random Things I find

I was putzing around online last night and came across this cartoon.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

3 months pregnant!

Ok, not really. I just ate one bite of spring roll made with egg roll wrapper and some pad thai that had soy sauce in it. Who makes spring rolls with egg roll wrapper!?

It isn't rare for me to have a "gluten belly" after risky dining but today's is pretty extreme. I sometimes joke that I look 3 months pregnant when I eat gluten so I took some pregnant belly shots! I was so uncomfortable that I changed into pajama pants right after the pictures. When I first started getting gluten bellies I often noticed them only because my shirt and pants would get tight to the point that my shirt would ride up. I started measureing before and after I ate and compared gluten and non-gluten bellies. I measure right below my belly button and it's usually 28 inches and puffs up to 30 after I eat gluten. This time, I only recently started measuring again, it's 31 inches! I've never seen the lines on the sides that are in the first picture. That makes me look even more pregnant!

Speaking of pregnancy and gluten, Celiac Disease can cause infertility. It has been found to be (at least part of) the cause in 3% of women with unexplained infertility (explained infertility would be things like PCOS, endometriosis, tubal blockages). It seems to be caused by the abnormal amount of swelling associated with Celiac Disease. It would also make sense that the nutritional deficiencies and weight changes are also part of the problem.  I think I read this on the University of Chicago Celiac Disease site.  I also read that they are pushing for Celiac Disease screening to become part of routine infertility treatment.  Now if only those blood tests were more accurate...

Wednesday, June 8, 2011