Tuesday, August 27, 2013

GF Diaries | Are You a Celiac?

Gluten intolerance is not the same as celiac disease, an auto-immune disorder attacking the small intestines. 

I came across the below infographic that might help potential sufferers investigating if they are a "Celiac" or not, based on symptoms. 

Note: Of course, you should get diagnosed officially through a medical professional through biopsy and/or blood tests. 

Friday, August 23, 2013

GF Diaries | Gluten Intolerance Symptoms

Photo Credit: QSR Magazine
This is going to be a long one...

I am going to start a new series on gluten intolerance and gluten-free eating. Long story short, I've had chronic migraines, tension headaches, and muscular tension in my neck and shoulders since I was a teenager. I started experiencing severe numbness in my left arm six years ago (though it has improved significantly with treatment). About four weeks ago, I started feeling mild numbness in my torso and I am now starting to feel a little bit in my left leg as well.

I've explored many tests and treatments over the years from acupuncture, Chinese herbal medicine, chiropractic care, MRI of brain and cervical spine, sound echo of brain, EMG of left arm, physical therapy, various prescription drugs, night guard (for teeth grinding), trigger point injections, facet joint injections in the cervical spine, and plasma rich platelet injections in cervical spine - to name a few [sarcastic]. 

Suffice to say, nothing has "cured" me. And, I am still planning on seeing a TMJ specialist and proceeding with Botox treatment with my new neurologist (medical, not cosmetic).

A couple weeks ago, I was casually text messaging my friend and colleague, Anha. The topic of gluten intolerance came up (as she is now gluten-free to manage chronic pain she had for two years straight). She suggested that I get tested.

After some initial research, I was shocked at how many of my existing symptoms, and additional ones, are associated with gluten intolerance. My chiropractor (who also practices functional, holistic medicine) had mentioned nutrition on a few occasions since I have been receiving nerve and spinal treatment from him for the last four years.

So, with the very recent encouragement of Anha and my doctor, I decided to proceed with the blood test (which is not cheap, by the way).

Two days ago, I got the results. I tested positive. So, I am officially gluten intolerant.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

How to Build Soil Sieves

Al's Soil Sieves
As you know, succulents require well-draining soil to thrive. I learned about a homemade gritty soil mix for container gardening (future post to come soon). The materials in the mix, however, need to be screened to filter out large (chunks) and small (fine or powdery) particles. 

In order to do so, you need some type of soil sieve (AKA soil filters, sifters, or screens). You may or may not find them at your local big box or speciality nursery, or major hardware store. Lowe's, Home Depot, and Armstong Garden Centers did not carry them (or claimed they didn't when I called). 

After doing tons of research and competitive cost comparing, I concluded that building my own would work best. 

My handy and gracious husband agreed to help me build them. Special thanks to David for making these for me and leaving me to my succulent obsession. 

  • Wood 
  • Hardware cloth (1/8", 1/4")
  • Insect screen (1/16")

  • Hammer & nails
  • Staple gun & staples
  • Utility sheers
  • Working gloves

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Fruit Syrups

Unsweetened Blueberry Syrup

Unsweetened Blueberry Syrup 

Source: Whipped
  • 2 cups fresh blueberries
  • 1/4 cup
Put blueberries and water in a medium sauce pan and crush the berries with a potato masher. Bring to a boil and then lower to medium heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Strain the berries and return the syrup to the pan and cook for another 10 minutes to reduce and thicken the syrup. Remove from heat and cool.
Note: This recipe did not include any sugar since I used it in a cocktail with simple syrup. You can also enjoy this syrup over pancakes or yogurt. 

Whiskey Sour with Thyme and Blueberry

Credit: http://whippedtheblog.com

I made cocktails when our friend, Mike, came over last week to hang out with my husband and me. I knew I wanted to make a whiskey sour with thyme simple syrup.

I started Googling and came across this interesting recipe for a Bourbon Blueberry Thyme Cooler. I had bourbon in my pantry and fresh thyme from my herb garden on hand. And, luckily, I had just bought a large container of fresh blueberries, so it was the perfect opportunity to use the excess.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Whiskey Sour

My husband and I like to host and entertain, so we always have a minimum stock of red, white, and sparking wines; beer (including his favorite IPAs); and hard liquor. 

Our spirit of choice is brown. Our favorites include Jameson Irish Whiskey & Bulleit Bourbon.

My simple go to cocktail is a whiskey sour. It's refreshing and slightly sweet, which can enjoyable for even those without an "old man" palette.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Simple Syrups, Simplified

Thyme-infused Simple Syrup
Note: Brownish color from raw sugar.

Simple syrup, quite simply, is liquid sugar. It's great to use in cocktails, iced tea, or coffee drinks. It dissolves easily; giving you blendable sweetness, without the granular texture of sugar.

You can buy it, but it's easy to make at home (and, cheaper). Just remember the 1:1 ratio - equal parts sugar & water. It lasts up to 2-4 weeks in the fridge. I make just enough for each time I need it, but you can always make more and store it for future use. 

Basic Recipe

1/2 cup
1/2 granulated sugar

Combine ingredients in small saucepan and bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes until mixture thickens, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat to cool. Strain, if desired.
Tip: I like to put the finished syrup in a mason jar (since these containers can tolerate hot temps) and stick in fridge or freezer to speed up chilling time. 

Now that you know the basics, let's add some interesting flavors...

Friday, August 2, 2013

Homemade Hot Sauce

Homemade Hot Sauce

Another employee sale from from Frieda's. Thanks, Hanna! The last time my friend let me shop with her friends & family discount, I made some healthy, fresh recipes from the specialty produce.

Hanna dropped off a 10 pound box of Fresno chili peppers. That weighs as much as my dog! What do with them?!

I don't typically use fresh peppers in my cooking. Not because I am against heat; I just don't find the need to use them. For kick, I frequently use crushed red pepper or cayenne.

The peppers were not very fresh (hence the flash sale), so I Googled food blog recipes for applications that would not be successful with semi-fresh ones. 

I came across a recipe for homemade hot sauce. Since, we were grilling meat for dinner, it was the perfect opportunity to multi-task the grill.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Oven-Roasted & Herbed: Portobello Mushrooms & Potatoes

Oven-roasted Portobello mushrooms, oven-roasted herb potatoes, and sautéed kale

On Tuesday, I stuck to my meal plan. I wanted to oven-roast the organic produce I brought from Sprouts. I made multiple sides to eat as a small, healthy meal.

Recipe: Oven-roasted Portobello Mushrooms

  • Organic Portobello mushrooms caps (2) You can fit up to six large caps on a sheet tray
  • EVOO
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Fresh thyme sprigs
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • Pre-heat oven to 400 F.
  • Place mushroom caps on sheet tray. Drizzle generous amounts of EVOO on both sides.
  • Finely chop (2) sprigs of time and sprinkle on caps. Add garlic.
  • Lightly salt & pepper.
  • Optional: Place any remaining sprigs of thyme directly over the caps to infuse flavor. I also lightly sprinkled Herbes de Provence.
  • Cook in oven for 15 minutes.  

Recipe: Oven-roasted Herb Potatoes
  • 12 small roasting potatoes (Tip: Use Yukon Gold potatoes for roasting. The ones I bought were labeled "small yellow potatoes")
  • EVOO
  • Salt & Pepper
  • 2-3 fresh rosemary sprigs, leaves removed & roughly chopped
  • 3-4 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • Optional: Fennel seeds

  • Pre-heat oven to 400 F.
  • Slice potatoes into quarters. If some pieces are larger, you can cut again into eights. Add to sheet tray.
  • Sprinkle chopped rosemary & chopped garlic onto potatoes. 
  • Drizzle very generous amounts of EVOO. Season with salt & pepper. Add any other additional herbs you like. 
  • Cook for one hour in middle rack. After 30 minutes, toss the potatoes around. 
Note: The garlic burned in this recipe, so you can lower heat to 375 F, sauté the garlic separately and add to potatoes later, or add crushed gloves with skin on for aroma. 

Recipe: Sautéed Kale
  • Organic Lacinato Kale This is the flat one, not the curly one that looks like parsley. 
  • EVOO
  • Salt & Pepper
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1-2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
Credit: Inspiration recipe by Bobby Flay

  • Heat olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Meanwhile, take the kale greens off the center stalks. 
  • Add the garlic to pan and cook until soft, but not colored. I omitted this from my recipe since my other two oven-roasted veggie dishes were using garlic. 
  • Raise heat to high, add the stock and kale and toss to combine. Cover and cook for 5 minutes. Remove cover and continue to cook, stirring until all the liquid has evaporated. Season with salt and pepper to taste and add vinegar.
  • Optional: Add toasted, roughly chopped nuts. For added protein and a textural component, I used Marcona Almonds.

Note: The portions of the entire meal (picture at top) were small, so I made a small bowl of gluten-free pasta for my husband and myself afterwards.

What are your favorite vegetarian sides?