Friday, October 30, 2009

Photo Phriday: A TJ's Package

The closest Trader Joe's to here is a good 2 1/2 hour drive without traffic. My mother is well aware of this and my longing for Trader Joe's (how lucky I was in Boston with two within a half hour drive...) and sent me an amazingly awesome package full of Trader Joe's gluten-free goodies and a few other things not in the photo. She's pretty much the best mom ever.
Henry thinks so too.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

What's Cookin'

This is when I complain about how busy I've been and how I need to post more on my blog. And I know how annoying that must be to readers; there are plenty of you out there who are much busier than me. Those of you with kids. Or those of you working full-time and going to school full-time. Or those with sixty hour work weeks.
I've got graduate school. And I've got work. And I've got a dog. I also have a husband, but he's deployed right now. I'm lucky that I have my sister, brother-in-law and niece next door. So when I feel that urge to make for others -- they get fed. First up: Elana's Pantry zucchini muffins, only these are made with chocolate chips.
Then a kale salad that I whipped up.
Sweet potato and zucchini pancakes that I pan fried.
And stuffed peppers, in honor of my beloved Grandma.
And my niece eating the kale salad right out of the serving bowl. I see another "good eatah!"

Balsamic-Pomegranate Kale Salad (gluten-free, dairy-free)
serves 4

4 cups of loosely chopped fresh kale
1 carrot's worth of peels
1/2 cup cranberries
1 small bell pepper, julienned

2 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
2 1/2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon agave nectar
2 teaspoons pomegranate molasses
salt and pepper to taste
(FYI -- these are "eyeball" measurements -- taste while your making for best results)

Add all of the vegetables together in a large bowl. In a smaller bowl whisk together the dressing ingredients. Toss the dressing with the veggies and massage the dressing in to the kale if you don't mind getting your hands dirty.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

FYI: Dairy Free Giveaway

Head on over to Alisa's awesome dairy-free blog for a chance to win an awesome gift basket from the new online store: Dairy Free Market.

The drawing is Wednesday and it looks like there are some good gluten-free goodies in there too.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Photo Phriday: Anti-Rain Photo

It's pouring here and has been since yesterday morning. So in order to cheer myself up (oh, and I use my HappyLite too!) I will share a photo taken recently on a nice day... one of the last one's of the year I'm afraid. That's my niece and of course, Henry. He almost looks angelic. Though, I'm pretty sure shortly after the photo was taken he decided to chase a squirrel up a tree and bark his head off.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Top Three: Best Dairy Free Beverages

(Disclaimer: I do not get paid nor am I affiliated with any company or product. I do sometimes get products sent to me to sample, but I am honest in my opinion of them. Also, in terms of eating healthy: packaged products are not the way to go. However, I am like most Americans and I do buy my share of non-whole foods. These top three posts will be ranking those.)

It's been close to three years since I discovered my gluten and dairy sensitivity and I've probably spent over one thousand dollars since then on food that just didn't taste good. I was so overwhelmed by eating this new way that when I did see "Gluten Free" and "Dairy Free" on the label of a product, I often bought it.

Fortunately as the years have passed I've discovered some great products out there, both for the gluten free and dairy free. In an effort to save other people money, I'm creating a new feature here: Top Three. This is by no means a scientific taste test where I polled a variety of individuals on their reaction to different food products. It's merely my opinion.

So, for the first "Top Three" post, I will review my top three favorite gluten-free, dairy-free beverages.

1) In the top spot is Turtle Mountain's So Delicious Coconut Milk Beverage

This milk-like product is so darn delicious that even when I don't feel like eating cereal for breakfast, I will. Just so I can eat it drenched in this milk. It's pretty new and I only discovered it about five or six months ago, but by far, it comes to closest to milk in terms of consistency (it's close to 2%) and taste, especially if you drink it cold. You can taste a hint of coconut however, so if you don't like coconut flavored things, this probably isn't your drink. I've made hot chocolate, ice cream and even soup with this stuff, all with good results. You can buy it in Original, Vanilla or Unsweetened. I tend to stick with the Unsweetened, but do indulge in the Vanilla quite often.

2) In second place is Living Harvest's Hemp Milk

My first hemp milk experience wasn't a good one. I don't even remember the brand name, but I remember the taste: it was chalky and well, gross. Living Harvest, on the other hand, knows what they're doing. You feel like you're doing something healthy (and you are -- you can find out all of the reasons why hemp is good for you here) when you're drinking it, but it also tastes good. It's slightly nutty and another nice addition to cereal. I've also used it when cooking with good results. You can get it in Original, Vanilla, Chocolate, Unsweetened Vanilla and Unsweetened Original. My favorite is the unsweetened vanilla (though the chocolate is a great indulgence too).

3) And in the number three spot is Blue Diamond Almond Breeze Milk

Almond Breeze seems to be the easiest dairy free beverage to find, whereas the top two I have only been able to find at health food and specialty stores. Almond Breeze was my go-to beverage for years and is great in coffee and tea (though be sure to shake it well first or else it looks like it curdles -- but doesn't -- it's still very drinkable). I have also had it in cereal, though it's not quite as "creamy" as the So Delicious product. The taste is good and slightly nutty like you'd expect. It's high in protein too, which makes it a great post-workout drink.

My next Top Three post will be on a related topic: Gluten-free, Dairy-Free Cereals.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Butternut Squash Polenta

The Farmers Markets here in Illinois are quite awesome. Don't get me wrong, I love my New England ones, but the sheer amount of food you can purchase here is almost overwhelming. And everyone's so darn friendly!

This weekend I picked up a butternut squash, but I was looking for something to do with it other than roasting or pureeing. So after a little search on epicurious, I discovered this. It is a great, hearty side dish that's even good as a breakfast porridge! I adapted mine from theirs, making it dairy free and using fresh butternut squash, so here it is:

Butternut Squash Polenta

(gluten-free, dairy-free)

1 medium sized butternut squash, cut in half and roasted at 375 for about an hour, then pureed
1 medium sized onion, chopped
3 T Earth Balance (or butter)
2 1/2 cups water
2 cups dairy free beverage (I use So Delicious Coconut Milk)
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 cup cornmeal
fresh sage to garnish
( 3/4 cup of Parmesan cheese is optional)

Saute the onion in the Earth Balance for at least five minutes. Add the squash and saute for another few minutes. Add both the "milk" and water in a large sauce pot and bring to a boil. Add the cornmeal slowly, salt and pepper and whisk as you go. Turn the heat to a simmer and cook about fifteen minutes, or until most of the liquid is absorbed. Then, add the squash mixture, nutmeg and cinnamon and combine. Cook another five to ten minutes and serve.