Thursday, December 4, 2008

Pie in the Sky ~ Lemons in Hand

'Tis the ole season for pies, cakes, cookies, candy - you name it! This lovely pumpkin pie is mine all mine and I would love to claim that I baked it, however I did not. Last week, in my haste to get out of town for our family vacation over the Thanksgiving week, I managed to find a perfect gluten-free pie crust at Whole Foods and then convinced a local (Reno, NV) Austrian baker (Franz's Backstube Austrian Cafe) to whip up a safe pie for me to take with us to Palm Desert.

Very exciting. Very delicious!

There's still half a pie in my fridge. I've noticed as the years pass I truly crave less and less sweets and really a piece or two is all I need to feel sated. A far cry from my years before being diagnosed when my body had an insatiable craving for sugar. I've heard from other Celiacs that they too have experienced similar shifts, major shifts in their eating habits. It's a good thing, I believe! If you really listen, our bodies always tell us what they really need to be healthy and happy...well, almost always.

Digressing a bit to Thanksgiving, I hope it was a great one for you all. I have come to enjoy this holiday a little more each year since my diagnosis. I remember the first couple of years were much more daunting for my poor mother who was in charge of the Thanksgiving kitchen - and we both made plenty of mistakes along the way but have learned that it's quite simple to create a wholesome, delicious Thanksgiving meal that's gluten-free and the best's a FAR less filling menu than the traditional gluten-laden meal that leaves you in a coma for a few hours...and you thought it was the turkey!
One tip that I readily give out to newbie Celiacs is this - do yourself a BIG favor and don't eat from a turkey that was baked with stuffing - no matter if the meat did not touch the gluten stuffing. Don't eat it. People don't realize that there's a huge cross-contamination risk with eating a bird that's been cooking for hours stuffed with gluten.

A much simpler and safer idea is to simply purchase a small turkey breast, baste it with yummy butter and herbs and voila....your own Thanksgiving turkey that's perfectly gluten-free. You might even catch envious glances from across the table as you carve into your lean bird that's sans giblets!
Oh, and I would be remiss if I didn't once again, mention the wonderful Cliffhouse Restaurant in La Quinta, CA where we dined for Thanksgiving this year. I have eaten there several times since I became a Celiac and the chefs and staff completely understand gluten-free food preparation. My Thanksgiving dinner was absolutely perfect all the way down to the special sauce they used on my salmon dish - yes...I ate a divine plate of salmon vs. turkey this year. The sweet potatoes were heavenly and they even brought me a special desert that was double-checked by the chef...but honestly, I only ate a few bites because I had my pumpkin pie at home waiting for me. If you are ever in the Palm Springs area, I highly recommend this restaurant, and their manager Chris is terrific and so interested in making your meal perfect.

Since returning the other day from the Desert, I've been obsessed with lemons. I mean I'm squeezing lemon juice onto and into everything I'm eating and drinking and guess why...because I picked a bag full of little yellow beauties from one of the lemon trees outside of our townhouse - they are abundant in the Coachella Valley, as our the grapefruit trees.

You know that old saying, "when life gives you lemons...make lemonade." I was thinking about just how apropos that bit of advice is for Celiacs and how fitting it is for us all. I mean, we could come up with our own bit of advice..."when life gives you Celiac, enjoy the gluten-free flours"...or how about the lifestyle, the healthy eating, the kinship and support and life-changing lessons we learn. The abundance.

See what little lemons can help conjure up!

Continuing on the topic of lemons...did you know that as a world-class seasoning ingredient, the lemon is second only to salt and pepper?! I find that to be fascinating. The lemon also originated in India and may actually be a citron and lime hybrid - who knew? But this is my favorite a medicinal agent, the lemon is remarkable. Here are just a few highlights about the lovely little lemon:

- It has a cooking effect and is good for fevers

- It aids digestion and eases the work of the good old liver

- It can act as a laxative and a diuretic and has antiseptic and antimicrobial properties

- and it treats high blood pressure, cleanses the blood...oh, and can relieve sore throats AND hiccups...and many more things.

It's like a little powerball and the best part - it's naturally gluten-free!

And after allll of that Thanksgiving eating, here's a simple and easy way to cleanse your body and drink this every morning as your elixir - energy booster:

Morning Elixir

- 1 cup of boiling water

- 2 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
- Honey to taste

Simply stir the ingredients together, and sip away.

All this talk of lemons and pie has now inspired me to go make my own cup of tea with lemon juice and honey and a nice big slice of my remaining pumpkin pie.

Before I go, I would love to hear how some of you use lemons and what your favorite gluten-free recipe(s) might that calls for them.

Enjoy the goodness that the good 'ole earth provides us, and while you are at it, go pick a lemon or two ~

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