Thursday, October 31, 2013

Meal Planning ~ Week 10-27-13

Last week was a blur. I don't even remember what we ate! It was a non-CSA week and there was a mix-up with my Winder Farms order, so I didn't get my organic produce box delivery. As a result, we didn't have much in the fridge or pantry.

This week, we made a trip to Costco for proteins and got our CSA box on Wednesday. A fully stocked kitchen makes my meal plan even more important.

Here is the game plan for the week:

  • Brunch - Out with girlfriends
    • Buckwheat pancakes from Early Bird Cafe This is pretty much the only gluten-sensitive item on their entire menu
Early Bird Cafe Buckwheat Pancakes
  • Dinner - Argentine BBQ Party at Ariel's
    • Asado steaks chorizo sausages from El Gaucho cooked to perfection by grill master Ariel
    • Choripan My non-NCGS friends ate the chorizo with French bread as a sandwich 
    • Grilled red onions You'd be amazed at how sweet and addicting these are. Just lightly salted and oiled, then grilled over Mesquite coals. 
    • Chimichurri I am known to bring fresh herb sauce to BBQs, especially South American ones. My original inspiration from chimichurri was from this recipe, but I make it so often now I just wing it each time. This time around, I made it with:
      • 3 small bunches flat leaf Italian parsley
      • 3 tbsp dried organic Oregano flakes (fresh dried from my herb garden)
      • 1/4 red wine vinegar
      • 3 cloves organic garlic
      • Juice from 1 lemon
      • A few sprinkles of red pepper flakes
      • Salt & pepper to taste
      • EVOO to desired consistency I like it as a thick dressing; between the viscosity of a paste and a runny mixture.
  • Dessert - Layer Cake Bakery
    • Mini cheesecake with gluten-free graham cracker crust Pretty good
    • Coconut macaroon cookie
My Plate
The Argentine Grill
Layer Cake's GF Cheesecake

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

South Coast Farms CSA Week 1

Fall Week 1

This Week's Basket
This is the first basket of Fall quarter. Here is what I got in my 3rd CSA organic basket:
  • 1 bunch Swisss Chard
  • 1 head romaine lettuce
  • 1 head red leaf lettuce
  • 2 cucumbers
  • 1 winter squash AKA butternut squash
  • 4 summer squash AKA green zucchinis
  • 3 eggplants
  • 1 bunch parsley
  • 1 bunch cilantro
  • 1 yellow onion
  • 1 grapefruit
  • 3 pears
  • 4 kiwis
  • 4 Fuyu persimmons
  • 2 Valencia oranges
  • 2 Garnet yams
  • 1 bunch black kale I traded in my bag of green beans for this

Stay tuned for my meal plan summary of how I will use all this amazing produce with main dishes.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Meal Planning ~ Week of 10-6-13 (Part 2)

Meal Plan

I never got around to posting this as I was dragging my heels on finding all the photos for these meals. I finally got around to it for some proper show-and-tell. This is for the latter half of the week. For the first part of the week, check out my earlier post

Wednesday CSA Pick Up Day
  • Dinner
    • Cauliflower soup (see photo above): Cauliflower and onions cooked in chicken stock, combined in blender, add seasoning to taste

  • Lunch
    • Thai Shrimp Salad at Tender Greens with co-workers
    • Modifications: No Thai dressing (due to fish sauce), sub with lemon vinaigrette; no peantus; no crostini
  • Dinner Lobster party at our friend's place! Our friend, Mike, caught these California lobsters (as opposed to Maine lobster) in Long Beach 
    • Lobster was prepared by baking with butter & garlic, as well as breaded & deep-fried for my non-GF friends
    • Organic Roasted Acorn Squash Salad - Roasted acorn squash, sliced persimmons, romaine lettuce, red onions in balsamic vinaigrette

Look at this HUGE tail! Doesn't it make your mouth just water? It was definitely a succulent meal.
Average vs. Extra Large Tail

Mini Me

Hope you enjoy these recipes!

South Coast Farms CSA Week 7

Summer Week 7 

Last Week's Basket

This is the last basket of Summer. Here is what I got in my 2nd CSA organic basket:
  • Veggies
    • 1 bunch of extra large rainbow chard
    • 1 bunch celery
    • 2 gold ball squash (round)
    • 2 yellow zuccini
    • 1 basket orange grape tomatoes So sweet, like candy. I loved these. 
  • Fruits
    • 1 bag of red grapes
    • 4 pluots
    • 1 pear
    • 2 grapefruits (1 from trade in)
    • 4 apples
    • 4 persimmons (2 from trade in)
  • Starches
    • 4 russet potatoes
    • 1 butternut squash
    • 1 large yam 
    • 2 small sweet potatoes
Note:  I traded 2 yellow squash and 2 pears.

Stay tuned for my meal plan summary of how I used all this amazing produce. 

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Buddha's Hand

Buddha's Hand

Frieda's Specialty Produce kindly sent me a Buddha's Hand fruit to try. Kind of timely around Halloween, right?

I actually first saw it in New York on vacation. I had no idea what it was. It looked like an alien fruit!

Contrary to what you may think, this fruit is not "new" or a hybrid; it's actually one of the oldest citron fruits originating from China. You can find them at speciality stores like Dean & Deluca and Whole Foods. If you see it, don't be scared! Give it a shot.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Winder Farms Delivery 10-15-13

Winder Farms Organic Produce Box

Last week, we received our first delivery from Winder Farms. Since it was my "off week" for CSA, I ordered the organic produce box. It was on my doorstep first thing on Tuesday morning inside a cardboard box. 

Here's what our box included:
  • Veggies
    • 3 large zucchini
    • 1 bunch broccolini
    • 1 bunch spinach
    • 1 bunch radishes
  • Fruits
    • 3 pears
    • 3 Fuji apples Small, but delicious
    • 1 pomegranate Reminds me of childhood 
  • Starches
    • 2 sweet potatoes
    • 1 extra large golden beet
  • Recipes for the beets & radishes

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Winder Farms Farm Delivery

When my husband and I visited the Brea farmer's market a couple weeks ago,  we came across the Winder Farms booth for farm delivery service. I was very excited to see produce boxes in their brochure as I'd been thinking about how to supplement my CSA, since it is only offered in my area every other week. This sounded like a great way to supplement the "off" weeks. Note: There are online organic grocers that ship, but it's not the same as local products.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Gluten-free Fish Sauce

It has been over 45 days since I've gone gluten free. Overall, I think the transition has been pretty smooth, but I have had my share of breakdowns especially when I tried to eat out with my family and friends at local Asian restaurants--the authentic, mom & pop shop kinds. Staff is not always knowledgeable, nor are they keen on being accommodating.  

My worst dining out experience was going to BCD with my in-law's. (I'll be writing a restaurant review later). Hence, my Instagram post saying that it sucks to be Asian & gluten-intolerant. 

While I quickly discovered gluten-free soy sauce (typically called Tamari), it took me much longer to find gluten-free fish sauce. I thought I wouldn't be able to enjoy Thai food again.

What is fish sauce anyway? 
It's a strong briny sauce made from fermenting anchovies, water, and salt. It's a key ingredient in East & Southeast Asian foods. 

  • Vietnamese - nuoc mam
  • Thai - nam pla 
  • Korean - aekjeot  
  • Philippines - isda

A few years ago, I saw a cool documentary on Extreme Cuisine hosted by Jeff Corwin on the making of fish sauce

Finding the right fish sauce
Prior to my G-free days, I bought the Viet Huong Three Crabs fish sauce based on my research for a Thai green papaya salad (som tum) recipe. I didn't realize that this brand was NOT gluten-free after the fact. Look for an inconspicuously labeled ingredient called "hydrolyzed vegetable protein," translated as wheat protein.

When I found out I was gluten intolerant, I purged my kitchen of all gluten-containing items including the incomparable condiment, fish sauce.

I haven't had much Asian food since my confirmed diagnosis. Unfortunately for me, my favorite Asian dishes almost always include fish sauce, which, in turn, contains gluten.

  • Korean Kimchi - depending on brand of fish sauce used to season
  • Vietnamese Pho - broth & condiments 
  • Som Tum - salad dressing 

Gluten-free Brands
Below are some gluten-free brands I found online. While I feel comforted in knowing that I can try to replicate Asian dishes at home, I wish that I could still go out to eat like I used to. Now that I am more familiar with brands, I can ask restaurants what brands they use.

Squid (Thai)

According to my friend, Connie, this is the best fish sauce because its extra smelly.

Three Shrimp (Thai)

Lighter in taste compared to the above brand.

Red Boat (Vietnamese)

Check out this video tour hosted by Spike Mendelsohn (as seen on The Next Iron Chef & Top Chef).

Three Ladies (Vietnamese)

Rufina (Filipino)

Thai Kitchen (American)

I think Thai kitchen products are "Americanized," and probably not the most authentic. 

Where can you buy fish sauce?
  • Local American grocers depending on your neighborhood demographic 
    • My local Albertson's in Fullerton has a dedicated Korean section with soju, laver, kimchi, etc.
  • 99 Ranch
  • Vietnamese markets in Westminster, CA
  • Korean Markets: Han-Nam Chain, Zion, H-Mart, Arirang (AKA AR Mart)

Help me buy the best one. Please vote!
What is your favorite gluten-free fish sauce brand? free polls 

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Girls Night In

Last Saturday, my girlfriends and I got together for a Girls Night In (GNI). It's a mix between a Wine & Cheese soiree and Potluck party. It always turns out spectacular. and we all get stuffed with good food and great company. 

All my friends were very thoughtful in bringing some gluten-free options for me. Unfortunately, I have been on an even stricter diet for a gut repair program that doesn't allow me to consume dairy, grains, and alcohol. So, my options were limited. 

Note: A lot of the cute serveware you see below are owned my friend, Sue, who purchased them at Crate & Barrel.

Pictured: Parsley Pesto (prepared by me), Trader Joe's toasts, sliced peaches, Marscapone cheese, Parm-Gouda cheese.

The Mascarpone and fresh peach combo was to die for. I have not had dairy in three weeks, but I had to cheat a little bit to enjoy this.

The Parm-Gouda combo was a first for me. I had a sliver of a sliver to taste it. It has the creamy, smokey flavor of gouda with the saltiness of Parm. Yum!

Add caption

Pictured: Garlic-stuffed olives (these pack a punch of flavor), dark-chocolate nibs, and roasted almonds.
Pictured: Thinly sliced apples. They taste great with Brie.

Skilled knife work by my friend, Caroline.

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Pictured: Brie cheese, cheese torte (sun-dried tomatoes, olives, pesto, soft cheese), poppy-seed water crackers, and toasts.
Pictured: Roasted yellow zucchini with parsley pesto made by moi. Read simple recipe in my previous post.

*This is approved for the Repairvite diet.
Pictured: Chilled butternut squash and caramelized onion from Whole Foods deli.

My dear friend, Cathy, drove all the way to Long Beach from Fullerton to get a gourmet side dish that was gluten-free for our get together.

I slightly teared due to her thoughtfulness.

*This is approved for the Repairvite diet.
Pictured: Qunioa salad from Whole Foods.

I was a little sad that I couldn't eat this as it contains grains, soy, and tomatoes or peppers. Sorry, Cathy.

*This is gluten-free, but not approved on Repairvite diet.
Pictured: Selection of cured meats.

I wasn't 100% sure if this was OK for me to eat, but I did so anyway as it was the only source of protein other than cheese.

*Check label if gluten-free.

Note pictured: Fresh cured meat cuts from Claro's deli. My favorite was Alpino. It is a thinly sliced, circular meat that my friend described as a cross between salami & Proscuitto.
Picture: Organic green grapes from my CSA box.

*Not approved for Repairvite as it is a high glycemic index fruit (i.e., high in sugar).
Pictured: Sparkling blood orange soda. I watered it down with equal parts sparkling orange water.

Both myself and my friend, Joyce, could not partake in the drinking of alcohol. Joyce is pregnant and due in a couple weeks. Emma, Auntie can't wait to meet you! My lame excuse was my detox restrictions.
Pictured: My friend, Stella, brought faux Chardonnay for Joyce & I to drink.

Don't I have the sweetest, supportive friends, ever?!
Picture: Us ladies love our bubbly. I had a sip when we had the first of many cheers.

*Red wine is not gluten-free, but white wine is. Alcohol is not approved on the detox program.
Pictured: The star of the night was this sparkling pink moscato.

*I cheated on my diet and drank 1/3 of a flute of this lovely bubbly.

Do you have any food ideas for our next GNI?

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Community Supported Agriculture

Bon Appetit
When I used to live in South County, Gelson's and Sprouts were only a few minutes away. Now that I live in North OC, I have to drive around 15-20 minutes to get to Sprouts, Mother's Market, or Trader Joe's. 

In order to prevent waste, I have become accustomed to shopping 2-3 times a week for fresh organic groceries. So, making the relatively longer drive to Brea has been inconvenient to say the least. I still shop at Albertsons, Vons, and Costco, but not as frequently.

On top of that, my husband and I have been going to the farmer's market in Brea every week to get fresh organic produce. 

Ever since I found out about my non-Celiac sensitivity and have been doing the Repairvite gut repair program, I have decided to consume more raw and organic foods. .

All of this gave me the push to finally sign up for CSA. My friend, Geno, told me about this program last year when he read it in Bon Appetit magazine. 

What is CSA?

Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) is a program where you partner with a local farm. Every week, the farm compiles a box for you with items from its seasonal harvest. You usually pick it up at designated drop off locations or the farm stand. You pay upfront and commit for a minimum of a quarter (approximately 14 baskets). 

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Citrus Herb Roasted Chicken

Citrus Herb Roasted Chicken Thighs
I have been cooking organic chicken thighs once a week lately. The easiest way to cook them is to roast them in the oven. I winged a recipe today based on my vague memory of something I cooked back in February.

Earlier this year, I made this whole roasted chicken to celebrate birthdays for our friends, Ariel & Josh, based on this recipe.


I've grown tired of the usual savory marinades including Herbs de Provence, sweet & spicy, and lemon garlic. I wanted something brighter for my skin-on, bone-in organic chicken thighs on Sunday night. It just so happened that I had an organic tangelo, fresh mint, and Italian parsley on hand. 

Monday, October 7, 2013

Meal Planning ~ Week of 10-6-13

We finished almost everything in our first CSA basket in less than a week! So, my husband and I went to Sprout's for a Sunday morning grocery run.

Here's my meal plan for the next few days:

  • Breakfast - Creamy Carrot Smoothie 
  • Lunch - Gluten-free mild Italian pork sausage with caramelized organic onions atop bed of organic spinach 
  • Dinner 
    • Citrus herb roasted organic chicken, roasted organic green beans, and organic spinach (Recipe to come later this week)
    • Salad dressing - Organic shallots, white balsamic vinegar, champagne vinegar, and EVOO
    • Roasted green beans - Toss beans in salt, pepper, EVOO. Roast in oven at 450F for 15-20 minutes.
Citrus Herb Roasted Chicken Thigh (uncooked)

Sunday, October 6, 2013

South Coast Farms CSA Week 6 & Meal Planning

CSA Summer Basket - Week 6

Last week, we got our first CSA box. How exciting! I was pleasantly surprised at the amount of organic produce we got in the bushel. We finished almost everything in less than a week! 

Here's what our basket included:
  • Veggies
    • 1 bag green beans
    • 1 bunch flat leaf parsley
    • 1 bunch basil
    • 1 large bunch Swiss chard
    • 1 bunch red leaf lettuce
    • 1 bunch romaine lettuce
    • 2 eggplants
    • 4 small yellow squash
  • Fruits
    • 2 cucumbers
    • 2 plums
    • 1 grapefruit
    • 2 persimmons
    • 3 apples
  • Starches
    • 1 yam
    • 1 acorn squash
  • 2 caterpillars :)
Note: I was stuck at work, so my friend (thanks, Caroline) graciously picked up the basket for me. I gave her the tomatoes and eggplants since these nightshade items are not approved on my Repairvite detox program.