Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Healthy Gluten Free

Last week I talked about all the unhealthy, but super-yummy, gluten free food we make during football games. Well, all that unhealthy food has its price, and since I really don't want muffin top in my cute little Bebe jeans, I try to make up for it during the week with healthier meals. (Note: we have a pretty high grocery budget... I wasn't really concerned with "eating on the cheap" here, but it's pretty indicative of what our usual grocery list looks like).

Hmm. I wonder I could get away with rationalizing designer jeans as weight management tools... but that's for another blog entry. ;-)

So, assuming Sunday is the "screw it, I'm eating anything I feel like" day, here's a sample menu for the rest of the week:

Since I have class on Wednesday evenings, I like to cook something that will provide at least one day of leftovers. A staple that I rely on is sauteed chicken. I'll sautee four chicken breasts (aka two nights for us) in a little bit of olive oil, fresh chopped garlic and white wine. I'll season the chicken with onion, pepper, and seasoned salt, and I'll throw in any veggies I have on hand -- peppers, onions, tomatoes, snow peas, you name it. Serve with a salad (make one big enough to store leftovers in the crisper, and you've got leftover veggies for Wednesday as well). I usually don't eat a starch with this meal but will make gluten free risotto or tagliatelle noodles with margarine for my husband.

Fish! I like to stop for fresh fish at the market the day that I cook it, but in a pinch I always keep frozen wild salmon fillets in the freezer. Thaw them by putting them in the fridge the night before (or soaking the vacuum-sealed pouches in cold water for about an hour). Sautee in olive oil, wine, and seasonings to taste. I like to keep wild salmon pretty simple - it tastes so good on its own - and just use garlic and black pepper. Serve with broccolini or yellow squash if it's in season, otherwise I'll usually do green beans or frozen broccoli florets. Baked potato with nonfat sour cream or plain greek yogurt for a starch.

And of course, pair with a nice riesling.

Heat up Monday's leftovers.


Asian stir-fry. I usually take the cheater's way out and do a little bit of sesame oil, a bag of frozen stir fry veggies, a can of baby corn, a can of bean sprouts, a can of peas, a can of corn, and a can of water chestnuts. Add brown rice, and for protein use some combination of shrimp, chicken, or scrambled egg (make it like fried rice).

I haven't found a good gluten free stir-fry sauce that I like, so I'll make gluten free teriyaki sauce or else just use a little bit of gluten free soy sauce -- I prefer it a little on the dry side and not drowning in sauce anyway.

TGIF! Who wants to cook!? Order in sushi! :-) We like tuna rolls, salmon rolls, and shrimp rolls.

And there's still that bottle of riesling from Tuesday. ;-)

Stir-fry leftovers.

I rarely eat carbs with dinner unless it's part of the meal, like stir-fry or sushi. But I always plan some kind of starch for my husband. We could probably be a little healthier and greener if we made more veggie-centric meals... it might be a good new years resolution to work on. But for now, that's a week of healthy meals for us.

So, readers: I'm always looking for more ideas! What are your go-to healthy meal options?

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Gluten Free during Football Season

Fall is officially here - and in our household that means football season has officially started! Sunday afternoon is now reserved for Giants games (with the occasional Patriots game thrown in as well). And, of course, with football comes snacks. Lots and lots of blissfully unhealthy snacks that taste amazing and, if eaten liberally, cause muffin top later on.

Most of the time we enjoy gluten free pizza and beer, sometimes with hot wings as well. We're partial to Bard's beers and frying hot wings with Frank's Red Hot. (Gluten free and one of my favorite foods). During 1 PM games, we'll do chips and Hel-uv-a Good French Onion dip or else salsa con queso.

Still, having the exact same thing every week gets old, so I've got some new ideas -- best of all, they're easy! You'll notice no measurements in here -- because no matter what you do, the chances are good that it'll come out well!

I found a great recipe for flatlander chili that I used at New Years. I'll brown some ground beef, and then toss everything else in the crockpot to cook for a few hours. Served with hot sauce, monterey jack cheese and chips on the side, it tastes amazing, makes great "football food" and if you make portions like I do, you'll have leftovers for the rest of the week so no more cooking!

I link to the recipe from my New Years' blog.

Another great junk food, and so easy! I pick up (naturally gluten free) corn tortilla chips. Brown some ground beef, and add that, beans, black onions, jalapeno peppers, and tons of monterey jack cheese (I like using the monterey jack with jalapenos). Preheat the oven to 400 degrees, and cook them until the cheese is melted, then top with fresh tomatoes and iceburg lettuce. Serve with sour cream, and guacamole on the side. Yum!

Speaking of guacamole - it's super easy. Mash up avocadoes, add diced red onions, chopped tomatoes, garlic, and cilantro. Mix with lime juice and add lime slices as a garnish.

Red Beans and Rice
OK, I've got a confession to make. This is one of my staple potluck foods. It's easy, relatively healthy, everyone loves it, you can make it on the cheap, and you can throw almost anything into the recipe. It heats up well (I like leftovers better, the flavors have more of a chance to mix), and is always a big hit. It heats up well in the crockpot so is very transportable. I always use brown rice, dark red kidney beans, salsa, and then any veggies I have on hand or feel like: green pepper, red onion, corn, diced tomatoes, etc. etc. etc. Serve with sour cream and monterey jack cheese, and the piece de resistance to make it acceptable "football food?" Use Tostitos scoops instead of a spoon.

Loaded Fries
We haven't done this one for football season yet, but it's pretty simple in concept. Buy frozen steak fries and cook them in a deep fryer, add cheese and crumbled bacon, and melt in the oven. Serve with ranch dressing to dip on the side.

For something only slightly healthier, do a loaded baked potato. It's still junky enough to pass as gameday food.

Hot Dogs
OK - this is for those days when you don't want to cook. Get some gluten free hot dogs (I only buy kosher hot dogs, too -- like Hebrew National) and cut them up into small pieces. Heat up some BBQ sauce in the crockpot, and let the hot dog pieces heat up with the sauce. Let people serve themselves -- I usually serve them with toothpicks as utensils.

NOTE: Since this isn't filling, I'll usually put out cheese, pepperoni and gluten free crackers too.

Modified Rangoons
OK, the Honest Weight Co-Op sells asian rice paper rolls that are gluten free. A package of them contains something like 100 sheets and they'll last forever. Take those rolls and follow the instructions on the package wetting them and drying them out. While they're drying, mix up cream cheese, green onion, tiny canned shrimp, and a bit of gluten free soy sauce. Place the cream cheese mixture in the rice paper rolls and fry in canola oil. Use your judgment, but we do about 3-4 minutes per "rangoon." I serve with a dipping sauce made from honey, pineapple juice, ketchup, soy sauce and cornstarch. It sounds gross, but works well!

I don't think I need to explain any more here - ground beef, seasonings, gluten free bread crumbs optional, tomato sauce, and crockpot. Always a good hit. I like Gillian's Italian bread crumbs.

OK - So hopefully these ideas give you a couple of suggestions for when it's your turn to host game day. They're all very easily made gluten free.

Next week - I'll talk about all the healthy cooking I do the rest of the week to make up for unhealthy Sundays!!!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Gluten Free Class

Just a quick update:

The Spoon and Whisk is hosting a gluten free class this Wednesday. I know it's late notice but wanted to let you all know in case you were interested. I won't be attending (I have school on Wednesday evenings) but if anyone does go I'd love to hear about it!

Gluten Free: Taking the Fear out of Gluten Free
Wed, September 23rd, 7 PM

We will be learning some of the basics concerning what is and isn’t gluten free. Susan will help you understand the role gluten plays in baking and cooking and how to work around it. You will learn how to put together flour blends that will make it easier to bake breads, biscuits, muffins, etc. Gluten Free can be enjoyable and fun with a little patience.
Menu: Holiday Bundt Cake, Spiced Cabernet Chocolate Dessert, Cranberry Almond Muffins, Apple Pie and how to convert some of your favorite recipes into gluten free.
Instructor: Susan Shamulka, Nutritional Instructor (Biography)

Registration and Policy Information

* Classes are $45.00 each, due at registration. You can register in store or by phone.
* Most classes are demonstration style. Each class includes recipes and a tasting session.
* Classes begin promptly at 7:00 PM, and will end at approximately 9:00 PM. Please arrive early.
* We recommend early registration since class size is limited.
* Students attending will receive a 10% discount on all purchases on the night of their class. (Some exclusions apply)
* Spoon & Whisk reserves the right to substitute instructors or menu items, without prior notice.
* In the event that a class is canceled by Spoon & Whisk, you will receive a full refund or transfer to another available class.
* Class fee is non-refundable, but you may give your seat away to a friend if for any reason you cannot attend.

For more information, click here.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Back from Summer Break

Well, we're gearing up for fall again. I've got to confess that the past few days, as cool as they've been, have me starting to say goodbye to summer, pack the capris and sandals away for the time being and start thinking of apples, pumpkins, and all sorts of other autumn things.

My hiatus this summer was due to several reasons. First and foremost, my husband and I have been enjoying the summer. And part of that involves me NOT cooking. We spent the majority of the summer grilling outside. A lot of the time it was nothing really special - grilled burgers or chicken for the most part, with variations of grilled veggies. Especially veggie kebabs and corn.

Some notes on quick after-work meals, though:
  • Perdue Perfect Portions chicken breasts have been a lifesaver this summer. They're vacuum-sealed chicken breasts that freeze very well. We usually get the plain ones or the Italian seasoned ones (which are great for the grill, because they're already pre-marinated and very yummy!) Best of all, the package says "gluten free!" I also found a significant price savings between Walmart and Price Chopper.
  • Kraft Free Italian dressing makes a great baste for veggie kebabs. We're partial to: mushrooms (either white or baby bella, but grilled mushrooms are a must), red pepper, vidalia onion, yellow squash, and cherry tomatoes.
  • There's no such thing as too many grilled veggies! Leftovers taste great stir-fried with rice. :-)

Anyway. Now that the weather is cooling, class has started (requiring leftovers on school nights), and winter is coming I'll be cooking quite a bit more!

Since this is my "Back from Summer Break" blog entry, I'll also add a few other updates. a.k.a. "What I did this summer since I didn't do much gluten free blogging:"
  • I had busted my knee training for a 5K race in the spring. I'm well aware of the fact that I'm the only person in existence who can require physical therapy after running. However, it's all better now and I've been happily biking and doing other sports all summer.
  • My husband and I went to Cape Cod on vacation, where I highly recommend visiting the Chatham Fish and Lobster Co. aka Marina Cuisine. Naturally gluten free fish fries, with gluten free breads and desserts. Amazing food, wonderful people, and definitely on our list of places to go the next time we visit!
  • We also attended a very nice wedding at the Links golf club in East Syracuse. They were very accommodating for my husband - while they served stations for the guests, they made up a special plate for him with chicken, veggies and a baked potato. They also pointed out all the stations that were safe for him - for example the turkey carving station. We had a great time!
  • Unfortunately, on the ride home from that wedding, we were in a car accident on the Thruway. Thankfully no one was hurt - only our car and dignity. My car chose the same week to die so we're now driving two new cars.
  • We also went to a bridal shower (well, Jack and Jill shower) at the Albany Pump Station. Again, my husband had a very nice steak cooked and delivered to him. Everyone else at our table was jealous! :-)
  • We finally checked out Yankees stadium. We had planned to tailgate in the parking lot before the game (cheaper, and easier to eat gluten free), but unfortunately, this was not meant to be! I went out of my way to pick up Bard's Beer at the Brew Crew (everyone else had Sam Adams) and forgot a bottle opener. (It was OK, someone else had one). Then the grill broke leaving us with approximately 7 lbs. of raw meat! No worries - I packed the gluten free hot dog buns in my purse and ordered two hot dogs without the buns. I got a weird look from the guy behind the counter, but we had gluten free lunch at the stadium! :-)

Anyway, that's been our summer. I look forward to getting back into gluten free blogging this fall!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Fiber One Yogurt Winners

Congratulations Tracy and Corinne!

Readers: What other products would you like to try out if possible?