Monday, June 30, 2008

Adopt a Gluten-Free Blogger: Melissa at Gluten Free for Good

Have you ever come upon someone's blog and thought to yourself "I could totally see myself being friends with this person if we knew each other in real life." Well, months ago, after just skimming the blog of Melissa over at Gluten Free For Good, I knew hers was going to be a favorite. Melissa has the unique perspective of being a gluten-free nutrition therapist and exercise physiologist. Not only does she have tasty recipes, but she goes into great detail about the foods that she cooks and bakes with and their attributes.

This is my first time participating in Book of Yum's Adopt a Gluten-Free Blogger, but I have always been a fan. In fact, I was honored to be "adopted" by Ginger Lemon Girl (another one of the blogs I frequent) during last event's round-up.

As you might be able to tell by the above photo (I was using my parents camera and didn't have it on the correct setting; please excuse the blurriness), I chose to make Melissa's most recently posted recipe: Melissa’s Strawberry Rhubarb Juicy Crumble Tart. Boy, am I glad I did. Sunday's are usually family day in the life of the Good Eatah, meaning I'll be having a large feast of some sort with my parents, grandma, sister, brother-in-law and niece, and this time I was in charge of dessert. So, after reading all of the wonderful nutritional benefits of the glorious rhubarb on Melissa's blog, I knew what I was going to whip up.

You can't get any more simple than this recipe: Melissa used fresh strawberries, rhubarb, sugar, gluten-free flour, vegan margarine and nutmeg and cinnamon to make up this delicious crumble. No xantham gum, no baking soda, no hard-to-find flours -- just your basic ingredients, combined and baked to perfection. The only change I made was that I used three stalks of rhubarb, instead of five -- and that was only because that's all that I had.

Like the quotes from film critics in a blockbuster movie trailer, my family's praise of the crumble was stellar.

My sister exclaimed "This is really good; I especially like how the crumble part stayed crispy"

My Mother, who eats gluten and dislikes the taste of many gluten-free desserts stated "Write on your blog that I have a discerning palette and that I really like it." Got it.

My brother-in-law, whose ultimate compliment is comparing something he likes to eat to pot roast noted "Yum. This tastes like pot roast" Okay, he really didn't say that, but there is a running joke that if he makes the statement that something tastes like pot roast -- it means he likes it.

And Grandma, the one who nicknamed me "The Good Eatah" cleaned her plate.

Oh, and I can't forget about Henry and Elsa; they usually spend their days together mouth-wrestling, trying to choke each other by grabbing the collars around their necks and batting one another in the face with their paw when they want attention (okay, that's only Henry), but once I took a bowl of the crisp in my hand and assumed the photography position they were calm. It was a false hope, they weren't getting any crumble, but it made for a cute photo opp.

Great work, Melissa! I will surely be making this again and again.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Photo Phriday: Save the Date?

My sister and her husband had the neat idea of using a photo of the two of them made into a magnet for their "save the date." We're thinking of using this one, taken at Pisgah National Park in North Carolina.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Cool & Spicy

There's some weird stuff going on at my condo complex. For the past month, there have been construction workers tearing apart balconies, roofing, fences and patios -- and just this week they got to me. So, grilling is now (and will be for the remainder of the summer -- err!) off limits because the patio that I do have is covered with tarp and plywood. I also no longer have a fence, which means that every person that walks by my unit can get a glance inside my first floor, which as you can imagine, freaks Henry out (I do pull my curtains most of the day, but little Henry is too smart for that and finagles his head next to the window). So, while trying to distract Henry from the contruction workers, neighbors and their dogs I needed to make some lunch, so I went with a couple of tried and true's: a blueberry banana smoothie and quick and simple curry rice.

Smoothies are personal, but this is my go-to mix when I need something to cool me off -- it's easily adaptable, so use your favorite flavor combo. Loaded with antioxidants from the blueberries and potassium from the banana, it's a good workout recovery drink too.

Blueberry Banana Smoothie (gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan)

1/4 cup fresh blueberries (you can definately use frozen here)
1 frozen, then slightly thawed banana
1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk
1 dash of cinnamon
1 sprig of mint for garnish (optional)

Place the first four ingredients in your blender or magic bullet and blend until desired consistency is reached; mine took about a minute. Enjoy post-workout or to cool off with the spicy dish below.

Oh, P.S. I sometimes add a tablespoon of peanut butter.

There's an Indian dish that I really love: vegetable biryani. Most recipes that I have seen for the dish involve myriad, hard to find spices and a cooking time that I just didn't have today, so I go for my quick and simple version. I often cook up a batch of brown rice each week to use as I please, so this recipe assumes you have some sitting in the fridge too.

Lazy Eatah's Vegetable Biryani, or Quick and Simple Curry Rice (gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan)

serves 2 as a side dish, or 1 as a meal

1 cup of cooked brown rice
1/3 cup coconut milk
1-2 tablespoons red curry paste (I used Thai Kitchen, which says gluten-free on the label)
1 loosely packed cup of sliced yellow onion
1/2 cup frozen peas (or pretty much any vegetable you have on hand)

In a skillet on medium heat, add the coconut milk and the curry paste. Whisk together the two until they have thoroughly combined (the coconut milk will turn redish). Add the onions and simmer for a few minutes. Next, add the rice and stir until combined (the rice will now take on the color of the curry). Lastly, add the peas and cook for another minute or two.


Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Gluten-Free San Diego

I spent the weekend in the San Diego area visiting the A-man; he's there for some training. We had lots of good quality time which is what I crave because I get to see him so rarely: we hit the beach, played some tennis, caught a movie and ate at some great restaurants. Usually, I'm not too keen on restaurant dining, especially at places without gluten-free menus, but my goodness am I marrying the right guy -- he spent hours researching and calling and visiting local restaurants to make sure they could accommodate my dietary needs. We ate at three restaurants while there: Peohe's in Coronado for lunch, and Soliel K and Dussini in downtown San Diego for dinner. Basically, I'm writing this here in case someone decides to google "gluten-free san diego" and find restaurants with chefs and a waitstaff that get the whole "gluten-free thing." San Diego does have restaurants with gluten-free menus, but those are primarily chains; our goal here was to taste the local food (though we didn't venture to any Mexican restaurants which I remember being amazing when I lived there for a summer pre-gluten-free -- maybe next time).

Peohe's is a seafood restaurant with a gorgeous view of San Diego proper. We sat outside near a dock and were entertained by a dog swimming in the water below us and a pigeon sneaking into the restaurant through an open window. Our waiter checked with the chef on each order that we made and seemed to really "get" that I couldn't have a speck of gluten in any dish. We started with a crab, mango and avocado salad, which is normally served with a crouton-like bottom, but the waiter made sure we got it served sans-crouton and then we both got the seafood cobb salads. Both dishes were tasty and fresh and the food was served in good time.

Soliel K which is located at the Marriott, I would recommend to anyone, especially those with food allergies. Our waitress, Carrie (or Keri) truly cared and checked and double-checked on dishes that we ordered and she was pleasant and wonderful throughout. Not once, but twice some sort of manager stopped by to make sure our food allergy issues were taken care of, and most importantly -- the food was great. We started with oysters and I had a awesomely seasoned chicken dish with double vegetables and the A-man had... I think steak of some sort, but I remember he really liked his dish. This place cares.

Dussini has an awesome atmosphere with open wine cellars and a top floor with pool tables and a hip, yet inviting bar area. Their menu was full with typical Italian fare, but their rissoto of the day and paella struck our fancy. After talking briefly with our waiter, he was able to ask the chef if either dish contained gluten, and confirmed that neither did (but please, if you go here, ask anyway -- things can change). Both dishes were amazing -- the seafood paella was huge with lots of vegetables and the risotto was rich (definately had cheese in it) and served with lamb.

We were very lucky with each of these restaurants. The key to our success was

1. The A-man's research on finding which restaurants could accommodate.
2. Calling ahead and letting the restaurant know that someone with a food allergy was coming.
3. Visiting these establishments on off-hours, when chefs and waiters have the time to listen and answers questions you may have.

We did have breakfast each day, but that was in our hotel room which was on a military base (at 8AM each morning the military trumpet tune Reveille blasted outside our window which was a bit surreal for this civilian) that had a fridge and microwave. So, our breakfasts consisted of fresh fruits and peanut butter on honey nut rice cakes.

Which reminds me, I can't forget a quick review of Boney's Bayside Market in Coronado, CA. Not only did Boney's have a nice selection of fruits, vegetables and frozen gluten-free breads, waffles and wraps, but they had their own homemade gluten-free meatloaf! It was right there next to the prepared salads. We, of course, had to get it and had it for lunch one day and it was mighty tasty.

Now all I need to figure out is how to get around the language barrier and cultural faux pas' of gluten-free travel in Taiwan. I'll be there in August for ten days on a media tour; it will certainly be interesting!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Chocolate-Chip Banana Cookies

I needed to celebrate this morning -- the A-man and I have booked a venue for our wedding! I was getting worried because after looking at many venues, dates were starting to go fast; apparently a one-year engagement isn't that long anymore. I really love the place that we booked: it's a historical estate run by an ecological organization on nintey acres of farmland and there are sheep and llama there. Yes, sheep and llama! I love them both! And because the wedding will be in the spring, there's a chance that there will be lambs there, and because they are the cutest animal ever, I hope to have a picture with a baby lamb (baby lamb -- repetitative, yes, but it helps describe how darn cute they are) on the wedding day. And not with a lamb lollipop -- something I am sure the A-man will insist upon having as an appetizer at the wedding since he loves to eat the animal that I adore so much... with mint jelly.

But I digress. I had a hankering for a "treat" this morning and had two ingredients that I wanted to use -- almond meal and the overly ripe bananas sitting on the counter; mix in some chocolate and you've got a winner. The only sugar in these cookies is found in the chocolate chips and the two tablespoons of agave nectar, so they're certainly not sweet. If you omit the chocolate chips even, these cake-like cookies would make a tasty breakfast-type cookie. Ooh! And they're even low carb!

Chocolate-Chip Banana Cookies (gluten-free, dairy-free, vegetarian)

2 1/2 cups almond meal
2 overly ripe bananas (makes about one cup)
1/2 cup organic shortening or vegan margarine
2 tablespoons agave nectar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg
3/4 cup chocolate chips (I used Enjoy Life)
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon xantham gum
1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat your oven to 350 F and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Using an electric mixer, combine the shortening, banana, egg, vanilla, and agave nectar. Then mix in half of the almond meal and the baking powder and xantham gum. When that is combined add the rest of the almond meal, scraping down the sides until thoroughly combined. Mix in the chocolate chips by hand. The dough will be somewhat sticky. Form into heaping tablespoons and place one inch apart on cookie sheet. Bake these for 18-22 minutes, depending on your oven.

*not a banana fan (ahem, Kate) go ahead and omit them

Friday, June 13, 2008

Photo Phriday: Sleepy Henry

I didn't put the sheets that way, I swear.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Deconstructed Veggie Roll & PB Banana Sorbet

Due to the hot weather I was debating whether I should do my run outside today or at the gym. I chose the gym because of the air conditioning, and boy am I glad. It's not as hot outside as it has been in the past few days, but running five miles in this heat would have probably done more bad than good in the short term. This past Saturday I raced a 5k with my sister (who gave birth a little over two months ago -- blows my mind too, I want to be like her) and we both went our separate ways after the race. Well, we both later realized that we had killer headaches for the rest of the day (which made me Debbie Downer for a bit since I was at a graduation party). We drank tons of water after the race and were peeing clear (TMI, sorry) but still had horrible, horrible headaches. We realized later it was the nutrients that we were missing, so the next day when we had an outdoor soccer game in the 94 degree heat we loaded up on the electrolytes, care of Gatorade. This just reminded me how important keeping your nutrients in check is when you're working out.

So, after my run and core workout today, I chugged my water, had some Gatorade and scarfed down these two dishes:

Deconstructed Veggie Roll (gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan)

Wild rice, which is actually a grass is relatively high in protein. It's the most nutritious rice I've discovered, too.

1 1/2 cups cooked wild rice (sushi rice or brown rice would work well too if you're not a fan of wild rice on its own)
1/2 English cucumber, seeded and sliced
1 carrot (or 5 baby carrots) julienned
3/4 cup chopped cabbage
1/2 sliced avocado

3 tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 1/2 tablespoons wheat-free soy sauce
1 1/2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 teaspoon agave nectar
1 tablspoon grapeseed oil

Put all of the salad ingredient, except the avocado, together in a bowl and combine. Whisk together the dressing and add to the salad. Serve immediately, or chill and serve later. Garnish with the avocado.

Peanut Butter Banana Sorbet (gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan)

This dessert really hit the spot. Bananas are loaded with potassium which, in addition to sodium, you can lose a lot of during workouts, so eat up!

2 ripe, frozen bananas, slightly thawed
2 tablespoons almond milk
1 1/2 tablespoons peanut butter
1 teaspoon agave nectar

Place all of the ingredients in a mini food processor, blender, or Magic Bullet and blend until smooth. You may need to scrape down the sides to evenly incorporate the ingredients. Serve immediately or place in the freezer until ready to serve.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Quick & Simple Chickpea Patties

I had an epiphany the other day -- I don't need meat at every meal. That statement may seem silly to a lot of you, but I always thought that in order to feel adequetly full at the end of a meal, a meat-based protein was needed. You see, I was doing it all wrong before. I would create a vegetarian or vegan meal, usually some sort of large salad and I would still be hungry by the time my plate was clean. The problem was that I didn't replace my meat protein with a non-meat protein -- I just ate your typical salad vegetables. Solely eating veggies can certainly work, but for me, I would need a lot. And a lot of filling, dense veggies and so I turn to beans.

Chickpeas, also known as garbanzo beans are a big favorite of mine and my goodness are they versatile. I often use them to make homemade hummus and baked, spiced chickpeas and now I have a new favorite: chickpea patties. These little gems are so quick to put together and are quite filling. And the recipe is easy to tweak; use whatever savory spice you're craving. I wanted a little kick to mine, so red pepper and garlic powder were my spices of choice, but curry would be a nice addition as well. This basic recipe would work well with most types of beans, so I'll be trying black bean patties soon, too.

Quick & Simple Chickpea Patties, serves 2 (gluten-free, dairy-free, vegetarian)

Adapted from a recipe found in Hannaford Supermarket's magazine

1 15 oz can of rinsed, drained chickpeas
3/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon chopped, fresh chives
1 tablespoon gluten-free flour (I used brown rice flour)
1 egg, or egg substitute
1 1/2 tablespoon olive oil

Put the first six ingredients in a small food processor and blend until a paste forms. Put the olive oil in a skillet on medium-high heat, meanwhile, form the paste into patties and cook on both sides (should make four), about five minutes on each side.

Enjoy in a sandwich, top with salsa, chutney; they're even good plain.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Photo Phriday: The Moment

Almost as exciting as the sky-dive proposal is the fact that I was wearing a one-piece purple jumpsuit.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Chicken Satay My Way

So, the appetite's back and all it took was writing about cake and browsing through my favorite food blogs. Just in case you want your mouth to water too, here are some of my recent drool inducing favorites: Ricki, over at Diet, Dessert and Dogs made some carob and date pancakes that cured my impotent appetite and that could easily be converted gluten-free. Kate, at Gluten-Free Gobsmacked created my all-time favorite Chinese dish, chicken potstickers -- and I thought I would never be able to eat them again. She's a gluten-free Gobsmacked Godsend, that's for sure. Book of Yum got my imagination going with her corn flour pizza; I can't wait to make that one! And Carrie, aka the Ginger Lemon Girl really knows how to get the saliva going with her post on gluten-free chocolate chip cookies, a step-by-step guide. And even though Tiffany at Life After Gluten has been on vacation recently, she still managed to create hunger pangs with photos of her birthday cake and some of the awesome meals she had in Mexico.

Now that I've wiped the drool off of my keyboard (I'm only half-kidding) I can tell you about the chicken satay I made today. Pad Thai is certainly my all time favorite Thai dish, but coming in a close second is the amazingly simple and delicious: chicken satay. Usually served with a dipping sauce, this grilled, or broiled chicken dish can be a tasty appetizer, or made into a meal. So, instead of whipping out the dough to buy some Thai takeout (and I certainly do my share, my local joint is amazing with the friendliest staff ever) try these little gems. Though I haven't tried it yet, I imagine this recipe would work well with extra firm tofu as well.

Chicken Satay My Way (gluten-free, dairy-free), inspired by recipes found here and here

serves two, or one hungry Good Eatah

1 lb chicken tenders
1/4 cup natural, creamy peanut butter
1/3 cup lite coconut milk
1 1/2 tablespoons gluten-free soy sauce
1 tablspoon agave nectar, or dark brown sugar
3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tablespoon sweet red chili sauce (can omit)
1/2 teaspoon red chili powder

In a medium sized bowl, combine the peanut butter, coconut milk, soy sauce, agave nectar, ground ginger, garlic, sweet chili sauce and chili powder until smooth. Reserve half of the sauce and put the rest in a zip-loc bag with the chicken. Let the chicken marinate in the refridgerator for at least an hour, overnight is best. Heat up your grill or broiler and cook until done. On my grill it took about five minutes total. Serve with your reserved sauce and a wedge of lime if you'd like.

Sorry Henry, showing off your downward dog won't get you any chicken satay. There's garlic in the marinade.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008


In an attempt to get my appetite back I'm going to write about cake. Glorious, sweet, moist, gluten-free cake. None of which was made by me, but all of which was delicious.

My awesome family threw the A-man and I an engagement party over Memorial Day weekend. It was a beautiful, wonderful day filled with really tasty gluten-free food and time with dear friends and family. On the menu were marinated steak kebobs, chicken kebobs and lamb kebobs, pasta salad (Mom, I need that recipe, seriously it's the best pasta salad EVER), Greek-style green beans, an amazing quinoa salad my sister made (Kate, please post the recipe to share this deliciousness with the world!), and so many other foods that I just can't remember at this moment, but that I enjoyed immensley. My family worked so hard to put this together and I can't thank them enough. My dear Dad, who was sick with the illness that I am getting over right now even managed to do manual labor the day of the event and be the charming host to guests while maintaining a 101 temperature. Dear family -- I love you and you are amazing. The fiance is a lucky guy to be gaining in-laws like you.

On to the cake! My mom ordered two cakes from a specialty gluten-free cake-maker in the Boston area called, Celia Cakes. We have ordered her cakes once before for Thanksgiving and really enjoyed them, so I was psyched to hear we were getting them for the engagement party. In the above photo, they are the first and last cakes in the photo. Seriously, they rival any gluten-filled cake that I have eaten. Judging solely on their aesthetics, they could sit in the cake case of any high-end bakery. You can really tell that Vita (the baker and owner) must be a perfectionist with the percision of the frosting application. And the taste? Sugary, but not too sweet, just the right texture and absolutely hit the spot. I couldn't get enough of this cake. In fact, we will certainly be contacting Celia Cakes for our wedding cake. Bravo to Vita! Thank goodness for businesses like yours.

Now on to the cake above, which is from the bakery called The World's Best Carrot Cake. And it's name is right on. Seriously folks, this stuff is dangerous. You will be talking about it for days. You will be craving it minutes after you finish a slice. You, if you have zero self-control like me... will even have a slice for breakfast. I might even compare it's addictive qualities to crack. Okay, maybe I'm a bit obsessed. Or, maybe I think it's okay to talk about carrot cake like this because, well, it has carrots in it. It has to have some nutrition! Either way, this cake rocks. The store is located in Asheville, North Carolina and they can send their cakes to anywhere in the U.S. The A-man and I found them when I did a search for "gluten-free Asheville, NC" when we were visiting there recently on vacation. We visited the store, spoke to a super-friendly and helpful person at the counter and bought a gluten-free carrot cake -- just for the two of us. When we decided to have a little party to celebrate our engagement I knew I had to order one of those cakes, but this time we went with chocolate. Did you hear that? Chocolate, gluten-free carrot cake! Oh. My. God. I really can't compare the two: normal carrot cake versus chocolate because they're both just amazing.

I could go on, but I think you all get the idea. *World's Best Carrot Cake = gluten-free crack.

And that's me and the A-man digging in. Notice the grin on my face -- that's the grin of a Good Eatah.

I'm baaaaaaaaaaaaaack!

*I didn't inquire to see if they made dairy-free, gluten-free carrot cake, but since I have been able to handle small amounts of dairy recently I enjoyed it with all of it's cream-cheese goodness.

Monday, June 2, 2008

The Good Eatah?

The past week has me questioning the nickname that my Grandmother gave me (and the title of this blog). You see, I've been sick. Flu-like symptoms, one-hundred and one temperature, and... no appetite. Zero! Zilch! Nada! It's coming back, kind of, but I'm beginning to force-feed myself.

This is really strange for a few reasons. You see, I'm not one of those people who forgets to eat a meal. Only once before have I been sick enough to lose my appetite. And rare is the day I don't get excited about what I'm going to make myself for lunch. The weirdest thing? Forty-eight hours went by without me eating. That is just unheard of for me. Really, it's mind-blowing. Even at my sickest I'm usually able to gain an appetite by turning on the food network for a minute, or peaking at a cooking magazine. But not this time.

So, blog readers -- forgive my lack of posts. I blame it on the sickness (I should add I was also attached to the couch and unable to bring myself to shower even, for most of those 48 hours). I know! I'll try watching Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives -- that will get my mouth watering again and I'll be back with a vengence. If that doesn't work, I'll just keep looking at the photo at the top of this post of my niece while singing the L.L. Cool J song "I'm gonna knock you out. Mama said knock you out" because it makes me laugh. And I think she looks like a mini-boxer warming up for a fight in this photo.
Or it could just be the lack of food has gotten to my head and I'm halucinating...