Monday, June 27, 2011

Rainbow Cookies - Go Ahead Honey, It's Gluten Free!

My dad is coming to town this week to visit. I'm so excited! Part of what I do to prepare for a visit from someone I love is bake. Yep. I make cookies, scones, cake, brownies...something delicious to wow them with! My dad, who has such a sweet tooth, is always pretty excited to sample what I've created.

I know I mentioned a little bit about my dad here, but I wanted to share a little more about the father I respect, honor and love. Our relationship hasn't always been perfect, but he has always loved me, and done what he thought was best for me.

Food has always been a big part of our family, and I remember spending time with my dad in the kitchen, out at the grill, and in the garden preparing food for us to eat. He taught me the importance of hard work, and the reward that comes from that labor (both with food, and in other areas of my life).

Mexican food has always been his favorite, and we ate it quite often growing up. I have fond memories of family vacations, eating out, and hanging out at home. We traveled a lot, but many of my fondest memories are of small things - canning homemade salsa, riding wave-runners out on the lake, yard work, beach camp-outs and kite flying, bike rides, birthday parties, sitting around the fire pit in the backyard, Bryce Canyon family reunions, watching movies and reading together.

My dad is a very smart, spiritual, patriotic man. He works with computers, and knows more about them than anyone I know! He loves sci-fi (I practically grew up on Star Trek), good movies, "classic" literature, See's chocolates, Red Vines, cinnamon candy, music from the 70's and 80's, and photography. He helped publish the local paper when he was younger, and did some of the paper's photography. Thanks to him (and our very own dark room!), I was able to develop my own passion for the art.

I know my dad is going to love these cookies! They are flavorful, yet light, and have a great combination of almondy-nuttiness, mixed with a light fruity taste from the jam. And they're chocolate coated, to boot! Who wouldn't love 'em?

Now, on to the cookies themselves:

When I first laid eyes on this post by Britt @ GF in the City, I knew I had to try it! I've now made these cookies twice. The recipe is a bit time consuming, but breaking it up into two parts helps it feel like it's not taking too long. She did a great job adapting from this Bon Apetit recipe.

Rainbow cookie

I keep forgetting to take a pic, so I borrowed this one from Britt! Yay for Mexican flag-resembling cookies for Dad!

Other than a few substitutions, I followed Britt's recipe pretty closely. Therefore, I am going to suggest you head over to her blog, and follow her well-written, detailed instructions on making these cookies.

My Substitutions/Notes

*I subbed 1/2 c sorghum flour for the millet flour.
*I then subbed 1/3 c millet flour for the brown rice flour.
*I used all tapioca starch instead of a tapioca/potato starch combo.
*I used 1 1/2 sticks of earth balance butter sub.
*I used room temperature eggs. My friend tried to make this recipe, and her eggs didn't stiffen. I think that was why.
*I forgot to buy marmalade both times I made this! So, I used strawberry jam w/ a splash of OJ the first time I made it and raspberry jam w/ a splash of OJ the second. So good!
*Also, I simmered the jam/juice combo a bit longer, to try and reduce the liquid. I ended up needing more than 1/3 c both times.
* I am pretty sure I used more than 2 oz chocolate both times (I used Enjoy Life Chocolate Chips). More like double that!
*Be really careful, and don't rush putting this cookie together. Especially the chocolate part. It seemed my chocolate didn't want to spread well, and I had to go slow, or it wrecked the coating.
*Also, I just used regular baking sheets to spread my dough on, since I didn't have three 8x8 pans and was impatient. They worked well. Try and spread the dough as evenly as you can.
*Cut the cookie up pretty quickly once you remove it from cooling the chocolate. I did 15 min in the fridge, instead of freezer, and the chocolate was a little too settled, and cracked in some places. Next time I'd try 10 min in the fridge.

This recipe is dedicated to my dad. I can't wait to share these cookies with him! I am also sharing this post over at Living Free, where Aubree Cherie is hosting a very special Dads' Celebration of Go Ahead Honey, It's Gluten Free!, the great monthly carnival coordinated by Naomi at Straight into Bed Cakefree and Dried.

New Reads

So excited to be reading these books! When I'm not caught up in the latest Orson Scott Card book, that is ;)

I bought The Primal Blueprint: Quick & Easy Meals and have found some amazing recipes so far! I have created quite a grocery list from this cookbook.

I won a copy of Salad as a Meal by Patricia Wells...but I can't remember who gave it to me! It's a lovely book, with some delicious-looking salads.

I also won a copy of by Cooking for Isaiah by Silvana Nardone. Thanks to Shirley @ Gluten Free Easily for the giveaway! I can't wait to try some of these mouth-watering gluten AND dairy free recipes!

What are you reading these days?

Sunday, June 19, 2011

My Dad

My dad and me (2009)

I wanted to take a minute to honor my dad on this Father's Day. I mentioned in this post that I was able to do some baking today, and even though I couldn't spend the day with my dad, I did make a couple of goodies in his honor. Well, not just in his honor...he's coming out to visit in a couple of weeks, so I'm stocking the freezer w/ gluten free goodies to share ;)

I have a great father! He's such a kind, caring man, and has always been a good example to me. We're both living very hectic lives, and don't get to see each other or talk often enough, but he is always in my heart. He's often encouraged me to follow my dreams, and pursue my passion for food. He's a great mentor. I'm so thankful to have him as my dad!

Stay tuned for a recipe dedicated to my dad, via Go Ahead Honey, It’s Gluten Free! hosted by Aubree Cherie at Living Free.

Giving in to (gluten-free) bread

Gluten free perfection a la Karina

Ever have one of those days? Where you try to think about everything and anything except for the one thing you're craving most?

Today was one of those days. I know in my last post, I talked about heading down a more grain free path. I've actually been doing pretty good so far. Not strictly Primal/Paleo, but I've been trying to reduce the number of carbs and actual grains consumed. The problem I've run into is being sick.

In the wee hours of the morning on Tuesday, I awoke with severe cramping. It wasn't just my stomach, or my usual food reaction or womanly cramping either. No, these cramps started just below my breasts, and traveled in waves down to my pelvis. This was the weirdest pain I have ever felt, with waves of pain traveling down my body every 5-10 seconds. I went downstairs and heated up my corn bag. I tried laying in different positions (lying on my right side seemed the least unbearable). I tried going to the bathroom, drinking water, stretching, everything I could think of. In the end, I just cried. And, yes, to answer my husband's favorite question, it helped!, not really.

Finally, after an excruciating hour, I woke my husband up, and asked him to go downstairs and get the Pepto (didn't feel like I could make it down and up again). I took it, but was still really worried. My husband got online and did some googling. We figured, whatever was going on, most serious stomach problems seem to develop over a period of 12-24 hours. So, we went back to bed, and made plans to call the doctor in the morning. The Pepto finally kicked in, and I was able to sleep again.

I got up for work a couple hours later, and the pain seemed to be at bay. I was hesitant to go to the doctor if the pain hadn't returned, considering I had a busy day ahead of me. So I waited. I wondered if it had been food related, so I trashed everything I'd eaten the day before that was out of the ordinary for my diet.

The lack of sleep caught up to me mid-morning and threw me into a headache. Which wasn't helped by the fact that starting around lunchtime, everything edible sounded repulsive to me. So I had a hard time choking down food. Then in the afternoon, I started feeling some cramping/aching. Not as severe as the nighttime episode, but also unlike cramps that I normally experience.

And I've felt like that ever since. Any time I bend over, turn to the side, basically move my core in any way, I feel the pain. Also when I'm just sitting, I can feel the ache. And the nausea/selective appetite has been pretty bad. I still don't know what's going on, but I plan on calling the doctor tomorrow morning.

So anyway, back to that mouth-watering photo above. What does all of this have to do with me and my plans for a grain free diet? Well, one of the only things that has been remotely appealing the past few days has been Corn Chex cereal with homemade almond milk. I've been eating that for breakfast (and even a dinner or two).

I have had a hard time eating breakfast over the last few years, dealing with some nausea, which my doctor believes to be related to my hypoglycemia. I love breakfast foods, and I generally eat within an hour of getting up, but some days it's a struggle. That's what this week has been, only it's been pretty much the same story with every meal of the day. So finding appealing foods has been difficult, especially when trying to eliminate one of the staples in my life - gluten free grains.

Ever since Karina, everyone's favorite Gluten Free Goddess, posted this recipe on Tuesday, I haven't been able to get it out of my head. Up until today though, I've been so busy, and haven't even had time to think about baking. But I woke up this morning, and it was pouring rain. What did this mean? Baking!!

Yes, having a day cool enough to bake in June in Utah is not common. If I plan on baking something during the summer, normally I will do it at the very end of the day, when I can open the windows to cool the rest of the house.

Luckily, I had a few recipes that needed making this week!

So, I gave in and made the bread. It turned out to be pretty good. It is denser than a lot of breads, but it's hearty. I loved the tang of the olives in it (would probably double them next time), and it made for a great dipping bread. I had it for dinner with some tomato soup.

I substituted a couple of things - sorghum flour instead of brown rice, buckwheat instead of rice bran (I couldn't find anything online for a good sub for rice bran, so I just guessed).

I will keep you all up to date on my stomach issues. If anyone has any suggestions, please send them my way!

And if you feel like baking on a cool summer's eve, make this bread!

Monday, June 13, 2011

No Grain, No Pain - the 5 year anniversary - and changes

I started this blog 5 years ago, right after I was diagnosed with Celiac Disease. The world as I knew it had been transformed. I was starting out on a new adventure - to conquer gluten free eating!

It seems only natural that within a 5 year period, the average person would have developed and changed in many ways. I know that I have.

Physically - here's what I looked like in 2006:

And here's how I look today (well, okay...last week):

Most of the changes to my body I attribute to how I eat, as well as correcting a hormonal imbalance. More details on my body's (40-50 lb!) roller coaster ride here.

Where I am in my life has also changed. I've been working at the same place for longer than I was in high school. I love my job, but the past couple of years have been harder and filled with more challenges and responsibilities than anything I have undertaken, other than marriage ;)

It's been an incredible growing experience!

My marriage has definitely transformed, too! I'm pretty sure I can finally say I've grown up (mostly). It only took 8 years of being married to do so.

Five years ago, we were buying our first house. We were living paycheck to paycheck. Everything we did was looking forward to the future.

Today, we still live in that house (and pay less on our mortgage then when we were renting!). We've bought and paid off two new cars. We're working harder, but we're having more fun, and the rewards are better.

Other than this chronic pain in my lower back/tailbone, I'm feeling pretty well health-wise. So long as I avoid certain foods...obviously.

Since 2006, my reasons for keeping up this blog have also changed. I started the blog to help myself and others have a resource for good gluten free recipes. The name of my blog has been a source of much chuckling these days in my house. What was initially a play on words to describe my attitude towards gluten - No Grain, No Pain - has turned into something more in depth. I don't know if the universe has had a hand involved in the road my life has taken me since starting the blog, or if the path I am on is one that many people dealing with food intolerances visit.

I have gotten many emails over the years asking if I am grain free, due to the name of my blog, and I've had to apologize and explain that this was pretty much just a gluten free site (and then dairy free, and then coconut free, and so on and so on). But over the last year, a seed has been planted in my mind, and it has continued to grow. What is that persisting thought, you ask?

Going grain free.

No grain, no pain.

I've been searching for answers to my continual digestive issues for awhile now. I've always known my body has a hard time with sugars and sweets, so I already tend to avoid them.

In the midst of my studying, I stumbled across an amazing lifestyle. I'm talking about the primal/paleo way of living. No grain, no sugar, and fresh-from-the-earth kinda foods.

Photo courtesy of Mark's Daily Apple.

Check out this great link w/ tons of fantastic resources! And watch the video at the end - Paleo in a Nutshell. It's the perfect summary to what paleo eating is.

Paleo makes sense to me. And so I've dabbled. And read. And read even more! Yet...I haven't been able to take the plunge. Why?

*I'm scared of change/the cost involved/the work involved/cleaning out my pantry/having to give up a lot of my comfort foods.

*I'm lazy.

*I work full-time.

*I have a family and a home to take care of (well, a very overworked husband and spoiled cat).

*But mostly I think I'm lazy.

Here's the deal. It's going to happen. I am determined to at least try this thing for 30 days, and see how I feel. I even stocked up on 10 lbs of grass-fed hamburger that was on sale at the health food store last week!

Those of you who know me know that I am not a jump-in-with-both-feet-first kind of girl. I first test the waters, I work up my nerve, I prepare myself mentally before I make the plunge. That's what I am doing now.

But for those of you seeking grain free foods on my blog, yes, you will be seeing more recipes/advice here on eating and enjoying life, grain free.

Some of my favorite paleo/primal resources have been:

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Easy Dairy Free Chocolate Mousse

The other day, a friend and I went on a hike at Sundance Resort. I wanted to test out my very out-of-shape body, and see how I handled a climb.

It was a beautiful day, and we had a blast!

On our way out of the parking lot, guess what we spotted:

A moose! This guy cracked me up! I've always wanted to see a moose up close. Thankfully, I was safe behind the wheel of my jeep, but I did manage to get a few good shots.

I keep thinking about that moose, and how he was just chilling in the parking lot. I've been to the tops of mountains. I've hiked miles into the wilderness. And all this time, my moose was just waiting for me at the bottom of a mountain, in a parking lot :)

I think I love moose.

And I think I really love chocolate mousse!

I stumbled upon this great recipe after checking out a recent post by Elana from Elana's Pantry. She made a beautiful mousse, which I was so excited to try! Unfortunately, I can't have coconut foods, so I was out of luck on her 'licious looking recipe.

However, she did have a few links to other mousse recipes, one of which was Kelly's over at Celiac Chicks. She got her inspiration from Rhee at Pioneer Woman.

This mousse is amazing! I haven't had mousse since I was a kid and visited my great grandma at her nursing home. I think I ate three little cups of mousse in one sitting. It was love at first bite.

Well anyway, check out the recipe, and make it! And if you're more patient than I am, you can let your mousse refrigerate for the alloted time, and it will look more like Kelly's pictures, and less like mine. But if you're not as patient as some (that would be me), chill your dish in the freezer for 20 minutes, stir, and it will still be divine!

My adaptations:
I halved the recipe, and it worked fine in my Vita-Mix blender.
I subbed half of the eggs for carton egg whites (due to lack of eggs in the fridge).
I didn't quite have enough chocolate, so I added a scoop of cocoa and a splash of oil. The chocolate I did use was 1 bar of Green & Black's dark chocolate (so I suppose there was a little bit of dairy in there) and a few ounces of Enjoy Life chocolate chips.

I wanted to share this great find, because it is a new favorite. I will be playing with this recipe more. I want to make it sugar free, if possible. Stay tuned!

For those of you who have been following my health situation, I am still dealing with the pain. My 2nd round of physical therapy went really well, and we made some great improvements. However, everything plateaued about a month into the treatment, so now I'm doing home-care for now, and just dealing with the pain. It's less intense, but still definitely there. BUT!! (no pun intended) The hike went well, with no adverse side effects! This gives me hope!

Mt. Timpanogos, here I come :D

Recipe shared @ Linda's GF Wednesdays and Amy's Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays. Head to these great sites for other amazing recipes!

Monday, June 06, 2011

Father's Day

Father's Day is just around the corner, and amidst the scrambling to find gifts for my dad and my FIL, I keep thinking about Aubree Cherie's challenge this month for Go Ahead Honey, It's Gluten Free.

I don't participate in the monthly events often enough these days, due to my (and my husband's) hectic schedule. But this one, I'm going to. Why? Because I'm a girl who loves good food. Because my boss is going to a conference this weekend, so I have a *little* extra time. Mostly, because I'm a daddy's girl. I've got a big ol' soft spot in my heart for my father. I get misty-eyed every time I shop for cards for him. I know that every card he gets from me will bring a tear to his eye as well. And hopefully a smile :)

I have a lot of food-related memories involving my dad.

We canned homemade salsa and applesauce in the summers from our garden crops. We planted and worked in that dang garden too!

He was the family grill master (and to this day, I still don't know how to use one of those things).

He loved Mexican food (except for onions), and we ate it frequently.

His favorite cake was German chocolate.

He once ate Ritz "sandwiches" made by my little sister, which consisted of two crackers, stuck together with peanut butter and a little lick of her tongue :P

He loved candy and usually had something stashed in his den - hot tamales, jelly belly's, old fashioned root beer, salt water taffy, and truffles.

I have so many great memories of my dad, and I am so thankful to have him in my life!

Instant Gratification Gardening

Isn't this the cutest little guy you ever saw?

Each night as I water and inspect my garden, I come in the house and report to my husband on my new findings. Dill growing! Lots of lettuce popping up. I see my first bean stalks peeking through the soil. And just last night, I discovered 10 mini bunches of grapes on my vine. That is 7 more than I've ever had produced in a year! I'm so excited!!

My husband is so great, listening and pretending to care about my little garden.

I'll admit, I get to feeling a little frustrated by the lack of growth of some of my crops. I planted them weeks and weeks ago! Where are they???

If you're at all like me, it can be helpful to have something to get you through the slow months as the plants are taking root and gaining strength.

Check out Karen's easy how-to on growing your own sprouts! It only takes 4 days (by day 2, I was jumping up and down as the sproutlings had grown right before my eyes!), and you have great, delicious sprouts ready to eat!

I know she mentions using a fancy little lid that she made, but I was lazy, so I just used a folded paper towel and a hair band to keep it in place. I poked holes in the the towel w/ a tooth pick, and replaced it each day. It worked, as far as I know...

We've been trying to find creative ways to consume the sprouts the last couple of days.

Note to self: 2 tbsp of sprouted sprouts is far more than we need in our house at one time :)

Anyone have any good suggestions for how to enjoy sprouts?