Sunday, May 16, 2010

Oatmeal buttermilk pancakes with balsamic strawberries or juicy peaches

A weekend tradition in our house is to have pancakes for brunch. Even before being gluten-free I worked weekly at perfecting the ultimate pancake recipe, and currently this is my favorite, the key being oatmeal. Our little family gobbles these up.

I like to serve them with fresh fruit and I tend use what I happen to have in my kitchen. Last week, I made these with juicy peaches. I sliced up 4 peaches and then added a tablespoon of brown sugar and a 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla and let these sit while I was making the pancakes. This resulted in very juicy peaches in their own syrup, so yummy!

Today, I sliced up a pint of strawberries and added a teaspoon of white balsamic vinegar and 2 teaspoons of raw sugar. The result was like having strawberry shortcake for breakfast.

In the winter sometimes I slice up bananas and then sauté them with some butter and brown sugar for a thick warm banana sauce to add on top.

And if you want to make these and you don't eat gluten-free, just use regular oats and whatever flour you would normally use to make pancakes.

For my basic oatmeal buttermilk pancakes that I use weekly:

1 cup gluten-free oats
1 1/2 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 tablespoons vegetable oil (I use grapeseed oil)
2 eggs
1 cup gluten-free flour (I used Pamela's Baking & Pancake Mix)
2 tablespoon raw sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda

Combine the oats with the buttermilk and let sit for at least an hour, or do the night before and leave overnight.

After sitting, blend in the eggs, vanilla and oil.

Add the sugar, flour, baking soda and baking powder. Mix until combined.

Let batter sit for 15 minutes.

Heat a lightly oiled griddle or frying pan over medium high heat. Ladle the batter onto the griddle, using approximately 1/4 cup for each pancake. Lightly brown on both sides and serve warm.

I like to keep the pancakes warm in the oven at 150' while I am finishing the batter.

Happy breakfast!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Felt like a princess at the ball!

Sesame encrusted crab cake by the Swissôtel

Last night was the 10th Annual Spring Flours Benefit hosted by the University of Chicago Celiac Disease Center. The event was held at the Swissôtel downtown Chicago, and wow was it do I even begin.

Unfortunately, M could not attend with me, because of is a very expensive ticket, so we decided I would go and enjoy the night of gourmet gluten-free food and he and Z would chill at the casa. There were actually several children there, and it made me miss Z. But to my great fortune, I was able to attend the event with two wonderful gluten-free friends, Gluten Free Betsy and Lisa Williams from Lisa Cooks Allergen Free who also organizes the monthly Safe & Sound Dinner. So, going with these two wonderful girls, I knew my night was off to a good start.

Once we got there, I truly felt like a princess at the ball...ok, I didn't have a big, bouffant formal dress, but it sure felt wonderful to be able to walk into a grand ballroom knowing that all the delicious looking food was safe for me! I once took for granted the ability to eat anything that was given to me, but now I realize just what a privilege it is, and it sure felt special.

Being that I am not much of a meat eater, I kind of gave myself a pass for the night. I told myself that I would not think too much, and just eat what looked good. I could not pass up this opportunity. I still stayed away from poultry, that is a tough one for me, but I sure had some nice beef dishes.

First and foremost the benefit is to raise money for the Celiac Disease Center to continue to promote awareness, educate other doctors and people affected with celiac, research and treatment. The Center operates entirely on private funding, so it makes this extremely important to a lot of us. It felt really amazing to be in such a large space where such as effort has been made, with so many lovely people all there for one cause. There were some pretty amazing silent and live auction items, and I really wanted to bring home the American Girl doll for Z, but unfortunately for me, but fortunately for the Center, the bids got too high for my poor self.

It was nice to bump into some people I knew there, I saw my doctor from the center, Dr. Kupfer and spoke to her a little bit about wheat starch; Jen Cafferty who puts together the Annual Gluten Free Cooking Expo in Lisle; and I even bumped into the owner of one of my favorite stores the Gluten Free Trading Company in Milwaukee and told her how much I loved the Cornito pasta they carry and she told me where I could find it in Atlanta.

But now, what was the best part of all....the fabulous food!! Over 30 restaurants, some of the top restaurants in Chicago all in one space with safe food! And they were not just giving out tiny samples, they were serving fancy good-portioned dishes, that easily made a 30-course plus meal. I had to be so careful not to actually finish any of my plates or I would never have been able to taste everything, and still I did not get to taste everything. Poultry and shrimp are out for me, but there was still so much available it would have been impossible to eat everything.

There were definitely a few that stick out in my mind as my favorites (get ready for some food porn):

Salmon terrine with saffron mayonnaise by the Swissôtel

Raspberry panna cotta from the Swissôtel

Fennel encrusted tuna from RL

House made sausage with braised lentils and velvety mashed potatoes

Ropa vieja with sweet plantains from Carnivale

Thai beef salad and chicken lettuce wraps from Ben Pao (I did not try the chicken)

This one was one of my absolute favs, mini barbacoa beef tacos from Foodlife

Unfortunately, I was not able to get pictures of all of my favorites which included the Vietnamese spring rolls from the Centered Chef Food Studios, the butterscotch custard creme from Mon Ami Gabi and Café Ba Ba Reeba, the smoked salmon on a pita from Rose's Wheat Free Bakery, the ahi tuna roll and pork tenderloin with tomato fennel from Roy's, the stuffed peppadew peppers from ZED 451 and of course the lemon macadamia toffee and chocolate twixie cup cakes from Swirlz. I really didn't taste anything that disappointed, but these were the ones that really stood out to me.

Overall, I had a wonderful time, met some great people, ate amazing food and really hope to be able to go again in the future.

Monday, my diet really starts!!!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Telling it like it is

Sometimes I need to post something that is not a review or a recipe, but about me and my personal struggle as a result of having celiac. Because this was definitely not something I would have had an issue with two years ago:

As I was looking in the mirror today, I am thinking...where the *%#@ did that come from???!!!! And when I say that, I am referring the part of my body that is my a$$. We don't have a very good full-length mirror in our house except for a very narrow cheap one we bought years ago at Lowe's for like $10. So, I am looking in the mirror while I have my jeans on and a sports bra and it is not pretty, and am a$$ cannot possibly be that big, how did that happen?

I always thought that if one was gaining weight one would know it and be able to stop it. Ok, well, I didn't know about that increasing mass of my butt! Seriously, have I been in denial or thinking it looked nice, or what??!! It looks like I spend way too much time sitting, which I probably do.

The icing on the cake (like I really need icing or cake at this point) is when I tried on a dress to wear for the Spring Flours Annual Benefit hosted by the University of Chicago Celiac Disease Center this Friday. I have really been looking forward to this, and now I am dreading it, because I have nothing to wear! The dress I assumed I would wear and never even imagined wouldn't fit me....doesn't FIT me! I wore it exactly a year ago, almost to the day, and it was too big at that time! I just want to bury my head in the corner. So what I am going to wear...I have no idea...maybe sweats and big ol' fleece. Will they let me in with that? But that is the least of my worries...I need to get this sh*t off!

And this was after a morning of Zumba and an hour gym workout. I am on my third month of going to Zumba twice a week, and I try to get to the gym 3 times a week, but it has been more like 2, so I can see I need to step that up to like 4. Add to that a 4-mile walk 3-4 times a week....I would have thought I would see some improvement by now....but nil, nul, nein, nada, zilch! How many pounds have come off???? ZERO!! Gosh, maybe that is an accomplishment in itself...maintaining your weight while adding in these extra efforts, but I don't want that prize!

I had the tests done...I know it is not my thyroid, not an issue with insulin, not an issue with my hormones....basically I am making bad food choices, and probably not getting enough sleep.

I always think to myself, I am a healthy eater. I eat fresh veg and/or fruit at every meal, I cook from scratch, I rarely eat candy (save for the occasional Swedish Fish), I have not had a soda in at least 10 years, and I drink maybe one alcoholic drink a month if I am lucky. I am trying to start paying closer attention to calories and what it is that I am eating that is the problem, and I think I have it pinpointed....carbs and sugar in way too many gluten-free substitutes.

First, I love rice...if I was given one last meal, it would be a creamy, warm risotto, heck actually my favorite quick comfort food at home is a bowl of rice (and hey, I often use I get points?) with some butter and parmesan cheese and I am in heaven. I could eat that But I don't, and I probably haven't had it in months.

Besides rice, I know I am eating way too many carbs in general and this is a problem. I feel like I have had to prove to myself and everyone I know that gluten-free baked goods (breads, cookies, brownies, cakes, etc...) takes just as good if not better than gluten-filled items. And sure, I may have proved it, but I also gained about 20 pounds in the process, and that is not worth it.

It doesn't help that I write articles reviewing gluten-free foods, because most of those cake mixes, breads, muffins, bagels, and are wonderful and I am so grateful to receive samples to taste, but it is definitely not helping me physically. Last week, I received some samples and I had such restraint, I took a couple bites of each item, and then put them in the freezer or took them out when I had friends over.

If there are a plate of brownies sitting the kitchen...I will eat them. Four brownies for breakfast...sure, sounds good to me! 2pm and I am bored walking through the kitchen...grab one.....walk back the other direction, grab another...and before I know it...I have inhaled over a years worth of calories!

So in trying to control my intake of carbs I am thinking I need more protein to fill me up and not feel the need to snack endlessly, I thought about putting some meat in my diet. This is a huge step for me. And I always seem to crave it when it is that time of the month. It is so difficult for me to eat meat without thinking about it over and over again, and then by that time I am convinced I can't do it. But, I found myself at Whole Foods over the weekend and thought..if I am going to buy meat, this is where I should buy it. So I bought some 'happy' pork and I make grilled pork tacos last night, and WOW, it was yummy. Not to mention, I have never seen Z eat so much at dinner! I also grilled veggies which is usually how we have our tacos with a side of rice that I steam with lime and cilantro and homemade cuban black beans. M didn't touch the meat, but Z and I enjoyed it, and true enough, I barely had any rice, because the meat was so filling. Maybe it was in my head, but it worked for that meal. Am I going to become a regular meat eater? No way. But I am indulge once a month.

And on a totally separate note, Z is increasingly wanting meat, and I am worried that if I don't provide her good quality meat at home, she is going to gorge herself on bad, fast-food meat when she is older. I mean, this is a girl that when we go to a friends house and they are serving meat, she is like a little crack addict begging for more. This from a girl who lives on air most of the time.

I apologize for the stream of consciousness here, so back to weight loss...I feel like I am fighting a battle I cannot win, like I am going to have to starve myself. But of course now when I go too long without eating, I start getting shaky and irritable and then I want to eat everything in sight.

I know I also need to eat earlier (we used to eat dinner as late as 9:30), tonight we ate at 6:30, and get more sleep. I think right now I average 7 1/2 hours sleep a night, I need more. And no dessert! When I feel hungry at 10pm I am going to have a cup of chamomile tea with no sugar and forgo the Coconut Bliss ice cream that I love so much.

I have 5 months until I am a bridesmaid...I remember when I started going to the gym and I had 8 months...but 3 months went by and nothing happened, I cannot have that happen in the next 5 months. It makes me so unhappy I don't even want to see people, and have people see me look like I look now. And to think I thought that last year when that dress was big that I needed to loose weight, so this really has me feeling down. I am hoping that by writing this will give me more motivation and will power against food.

Back to being hungry.

ps - It doesn't help that parsnips have been my new favorite vegetable. I have been making parsnip fries, mashed parsnips, and adding them to stews only to find out on the glycemic index they are like 98! I would have been better off just making regular mashed potatoes and fries...ugh or having a spoonful of sugar. Good thing I like sweet potatoes and broccoli.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

GFIW: Nueva Cocina Mexican Rice, May 10

This is one of my favorite sides when making grilled vegetable tacos. Many of the rice mixes, soups and seasoning mixes from Nueva Cocina are labeled gluten-free, these include:

Rice Mixes
Arroz on Pollo
Arroz a la Mexicana

Sopa de Frijoles Negros (Cuban Black Bean Soup)
Sopa de Frijoles Colorados (Red Bean Soup)
Sopa de Frijoles Negros con Chipotle Chile

Taco Fresco -taco seasoning
Chipotle Taco

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

GFIW: Cîroc vodka, May 3

I know studies show that distilled alcohol is gluten-free, because gluten does not get through the distillation process, but if you don't want to risk it, this French gem, Cîroc, is made from grapes. Vodka has always been my drink of choice, so it is nice to know there are options. I enjoyed a glass with soda and a lime last night at the PIL show at the House of Blues. Excellent all around.