Me, A Gardener?

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So for the past couple days I have been playing around with the idea if planting a small vegetable/kitchen garden this year. This would be a completely new experience for me. the only vegetable I have ever grown is tomatoes, and I consider tomatoes to be an every-man type of veggie. What I mean is, tomatoes seem to be the one vegetable that everyone can grow and a lot of people do grow them. So I don’t consider my tomato plants as gardening experience.

I’ve been doing a little bit of research, looking up zone hardiness and seed time lines. I didn’t even know what zone I’m in. haha  That’s how ignorant I am on the subject of gardening. But I have become very interested. I do know that I will need to make a decision fairly soon, especially if I am going to start them from seeds. I live in West Virginia, U.S., and it seems like most of the veggies I want to grow need the seeds to be started in March.

The veggies that I am most interested in growing are tomatoes, onions, cabbage, lettuce, celery and peppers(sweet and hot).  The ones I’m interested in, but don’t eat quite as much are cucumber, squash and zucchini.

I know it would be a lot of work, but I think it would be worth it in the long run. Especially the onions, I love onions and put them in everything, so money would be saved. I don’t want a huge garden, maybe a small-medium sized one. I need to do some more research before I make any decisions and go buy seeds. It was just an idea that I have been thinking about and building on. I just thought I would throw it out there. I’ll let you all know what I decide.

Any advice or thoughts would be much appreciated. 🙂

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A Crazy Day with Gluten-Free Burgers

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Yesterday was just weird. I don’t know what was going on, but my body refused to listen to me. It’s hard to describe.

I went to sleep at about 1130pm Thursday night and didn’t wake up until 4pm yesterday/Friday! I slept for 17 freakin’ hours, that’s just insane. It woke up 3 times for about 15-20 minutes at the most, just enough time to use the bathroom and let my dogs outside. It was so crazy, everyone knows the feeling of trying to wake up and just not being motivated enough to actually get out of bed, but this wasn’t like that. I literally could not make myself stay awake. Here is what my “wake up” experiences were like: I would initially feel like I was starting to become more alert, but then the progress would stop. Then, I would start to get a “high” type of feeling. I couldn’t think straight, and I felt like I was in a haze. The more I tried to fight it in attempt to stay awake, the worse it became. This went on until I finally just passed out.

That happened all three times. On the fourth time, when I finally woke up and stayed up, I still felt like I needed to take a nap, but I was able to fight it. I immediately went to the conclusion that I had somehow been glutened, but after thinking about it more I don’t think I was. When I have been glutened, I get abdominal pain in 30 minutes and bathroom trips in about an hour. Then, I get really sleepy. Usually a two-hour nap then and then a good nights sleep will suffice. When I wake up I have a hangover feeling and no energy, that feeling will last at least two days. This time none of this happened. I had no abdominal pain, no nap right after eating something, and when I finally woke up I had energy and my mental clarity was not diminished. I felt great. So I don’t understand what caused me to sleep like that. I’ve had times before that I couldn’t make myself wake up, but it’s usually only about 11 hours, not 17.

Anyway, the rest of the evening/night was kind of crazy. I had rushed around to get ready for a baby shower at 6:30. No one particularly likes baby showers, I don’t think, but I was so happy when she decided against playing the silly games. So that was good, but I still had to sit there for two hours and watch everyone enjoy the food that I couldn’t have. This wouldn’t have been too bad, but I didn’t have time to eat anything before I went, so I had not eaten anything all day. I was starved. I had looked for something quick and easy before I left the house with no luck. (note to self: find GF snacks to keep around the house.) I left the shower at about 8:30 and went straight to the hospital to see my dad, who had just came out of surgery. Stayed there until about 9:30 and then rushed to a pharmacy to try to get his prescription filled before the pharmacy closed. Then, I went back to give it to my mother. I stayed there a little while longer and finally went home. Once home, (about midnight) I managed to throw together some burgers and fries. Yay, food!

burgers: ground chuck with diced onions mixed in. (I was really in the mood for turkey burgers, but beef was all I had)  I put feta cheese, tomato and sautéed mushroom and onions on top and wrapped it up in a big piece of lettuce. I also fried some ore-ida french fries in my deep friar. Something so simple has never tasted so good, I was so hungry. I ate two of my burgers and a small handful of fries. Then, I went back to bed. What a crazy day! Here is my burger: Nothing spectacular, but definitely satisfying.

Gluten-Free Pizza!!

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So I’ve been planning to make pizza all week and finally got around to it. I loved it. I love pizza, and I’m thrilled to have a recipe that I can enjoy and still keep to my GF diet. I actually wasn’t expecting much out of it. From all of the personal experiences I’ve read, most people seem to go through several different recipes or prepackaged versions before they find one they enjoy.

My crust was pretty easy, all I used was: Arrowhead Mills GF all-purpose baking mix, dry yeast, water, 3 eggs. olive oil, and apple cider vinegar. Then I spread it out on two greased pizza pans.

Then, I let it rise on top of my warm stove top for about 50 minutes.

I baked them at 400 for about 12 minutes. Then, I loaded them up with toppings! First, I made my own sauce(sour cream mixed with a little bit of parmesan cheese and ranch dressing). I cut a couple of Roma tomatoes and put them on after the sauce. Next, I put on some awesome italian sausage, onions and mushrooms that I had fried/sautéed earlier. Then came the sliced jalapenos, pineapple and feta cheese. Yum!

I turned the oven to broil and put them in for another 12 minutes while I chilled a bottle of Moscatto. It was so yummy, pizza and wine night might become a weekly event. 🙂

Gluten-Free Lasagna!

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I wish I could say this was non-dairy as well, but I can’t. Sorry. 😦

However, this turned out amazing! I was even able to win over 3 gluten-eaters with it, two of which were not told it was GF until half-way through the meal (hehehe). Like with everything else I have been making – this was the first time I have ever attempted to make lasagna. When I think of lasagna, I think of Stoffer’s frozen lasagna or lasagna you order at a restaurant. I never dreamed I would be making a homemade lasagna! But I had a craving, so I knew it had to be done.

I’ve noticed that when I get a craving for something “gluteny” that I use to eat, I need to delve into the “make it yourself & make it yours” world. I really think if I didn’t have this attitude that I would be purposefully glutening myself everyday and going crazy trying to eat all of my favorites one last time. Instead, when I think of something I use to love I try to figure out how to make it and then how to make it gluten-free. I’m all about experimenting, and it’s amazing how good of a cook and baker I have become just in the last couple of weeks. I think I was an ok cook to begin with, but now I’m so much better. Plus, I’m learning to cook GF and healthier. To me it’s an even greater challenge, so I’m that much more proud of myself when I’m able to do it.

Anyway, back to the lasagna…

….yum! This thing tastes so much better than this picture makes it look.

Anyone can make this, it’s really not very hard. I didn’t even use a recipe to get me started, I just went with it. Here’s what I did:

In a large skillet, fried 1 lb italian sausage, 1 small diced onion and about 6 diced mushrooms until the meat was done. I poured 1 & 1/2 cans of GF spaghetti sauce into the pan with the meat and stirred well. (Yes, I’ll admit that I was too lazy to make my own sauce.) Set that to the side.

I combined a large container of cottage cheese with about 2-3 cups shredded mozzarella cheese. set that to the side.

Then, I cooked my rice lasagna noodles until they were almost done, but still a little firm. (I made sure to rinse them after boiling them, I think the film they get is nasty, and rinsing them gets rid of it.)

Here’s the fun part: I sprayed a 9×13 glass baking dish with olive oil, then covered the bottom of the pan with a layer of noodles, covered them with some meat sauce, and covered that with some of the cheese mixture. I repeated : a layer of noodles, followed by a layer of meat sauce and then the cheese mixture. Next, I added another layer of noodles and another layer of sauce. That was the top, so I just covered it with shredded mozzarella cheese and grated parmesan cheese. To cook it, I covered it with aluminum foil(sprayed it with oil so the cheese didn’t stick), and baked it for an hour at 350 degrees. Once out of the oven, I let it stand for about 5-10 minutes.

Nom nom nom, Enjoy!

Gluten-Free & Dairy-Free Zucchini Bread

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I bought a loaf pan today and felt it neccessary to put it to use. I made zucchini bread…yummy! I will post the recipie the next time I make it, because I have to tweak it quite a bit. Don’t get me wrong, it’s really good. But I know I could make it better. I think next time I will put in less cinnamon, and more zucchini. But I promise to post a recipe later, I just thought it looked so yummy and needed to share the picture.

No measurements, but here is what I put in it:

GF baking mix, shredded zucchini, canola oil, eggs, cane sugar, walnuts, salt, cinnamon, vanilla, unsweetened applesauce

Sacrifices vs. Rewards

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Nothing spectacular to blog about today. I just kind of wanted to talk about my feelings after two weeks of my mandatory gluten-free diet.

On one hand, I am depressed. I can’t help but think of all the amazing food that I can no longer enjoy, most of which is at restaurants. There is also some awesome family recipes that I’ll miss. Let’s just say, I’m glad I have almost a year to get use to this lifestyle before Turkey day and Christmas come along. But these awful thoughts seem to be decreasing each day.

On the other hand, I can see my mental attitude toward food changing. I’ve noticed that I am eating a lot healthier. Not only am I gluten-free but I am using better quality of food. Examples: I was making my sweet bread  and it was time to add the sugar, and I couldn’t bring myself to put nasty refined sugar in my precious muffins. So I ended up going out and buying pure cane sugar to put in instead. Also, when I went to the supermarket to buy this week’s grocerys, I bought stuff to make my first GF pizza. I was standing in the store staring at the pepperoni and could not allow myself to buy them, the ingredient list literally made me a little nauseous. So instead I bought some awesome italian sausage(with fresh,amazing ingredients, no chems) and lots of fresh veggies to put on my pizza. I’m also not eating out as much, which is always a good thing.

Another aspect of my new diet that I’m thrilled about is my appetite. Before my diagnosis I was always hungry. I felt like my life was the same process over and over again. Eat, feel horrible, start to feel better, eat, feel horrible, start to feel better, eat…etc. I was never satisfied and getting the nutrients I needed. So I was constantly hungry and always tired. (If you haven’t come to the conclusion yet: Yes, I am a Celiac that gained weight instead of lost weight, unfortunately.) However, on my new diet I have energy and I feel nourished after I eat. I’m not constantly hungry and my mental state is so much better. I can concentrate and think clearly again. It’s remarkable, and it keeps getting better with each day that I’m not glutened. I had a couple of days where I was glutened and felt horrible. but I’m getting back to my new normal.

Speaking of normal, I think my new-found energy and mental clarity is what amazes me the most about my diet so far. For the past three years I have felt horrible mentally, always tired and generally weak. I became so use to feeling that way that I considered it normal and forgot the way I should feel. So now that I’m starting to feel better, I can actually remember that this is how I SHOULD feel. I love it!

So my mind and body are starting to reap the benefits of GF….I can easily give up gluten if I concentrate on how I feel vs. how I felt. 🙂

Gluten-Free Curry and Jasmine Rice

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I have one word – – yum!

So, I have been wanting Indian food for about 3 weeks now and didn’t make it in to the local restaurant before my Celiac (Coeliac) diagnosis. This past week I have been adjusting to the GF diet and craving all of my favorites. Of course, Indian has been at the top of my list. I thought about going to my local Indian restaurant, but I’m worried that they might use wheat flour as a thickener. I know I could always call and ask…but I’m just not ready to do stuff like that yet. (I’ll write a separate post on that subject later) Anyway, I couldn’t deny my taste buds any longer.

I have never made curry before, but I decided it was time to try. So, I picked up some mild curry powder at the store, came home and got creative. I really wish I could tell you guys the recipe for this awesome dish, but I was just throwing things in randomly. I can tell you what I put in it, but not the amounts/measurements. I can also give you all some advice: – be playful when cooking it, don’t take it too seriously  – check all your spices to make sure they are GF. Most single spices seem to be fine. However, you should watch out for the cheaper brands and the store name brands. I’ve noticed store brands (ex. Wal-Mart & Aldis) are made in the same factory as other products, so worry about cross-contamination. I didn’t pay any attention to my spices until my mom accidentally glutened me with cheap chilli powder the other day. Bless her heart, she tried so hard, she even made her own BBQ sauce to keep from it….it just didn’t work out so well. 😦 Her brand of chilli powder actually had wheat in the ingredients, not just as a CC warning. Crazy.

Here is what I put in my curry:*Chicken Breast  *diced onions  *broccoli   *mild curry powder  *paprika  *coriander  *cayenne pepper  *pepper  *cummin  *extra-virgin olive oil  *tomato sauce  *water  *tiny bit of heavy whipping cream (I think coconut milk would work great too)

Even when I make this dish again, I doubt that I will be able to give you guys the recipe. For me, it is just one of those dishes that can’t be measured out…I just have to go on intuition. During the process of making it I will add things, add more things, correct a mistake by adding something else, then add even more things. haha. I’m kind of crazy when I cook.

Good Luck Guys! Hope you can spice up your life a little with this dish, after you figure out the ingredient puzzle that is.