Friday, December 17, 2010

The Smell of Christmas ~

One of my brother and my most favorite memories at Christmas time has always been the weekend we would spend making and baking sugar cookies with our mom. It was always a joyful tradition in our home, fostered by my grandmother and mother's love of baking...especially, during the holidays.

It was always a thrill to put on comfy baking clothes while our mom would play our favorite Christmas music in the background, the oven would be warming and we would lay out all of our candy decorations; sprinkles, colored tube frosting and of course, our prized holiday cookie-cutters. Our mom had boxes of these things, and it was such a thrill to pull the gingerbread men, angels, snowmen and Christmas tree shapes out each year as we were preparing the dough, sipping hot cider and dreaming of the moment the dough was ready to eat...raw, that is! I can still taste that holiday goodness filled with gluten, and remember how my mom taught us to always roll the rolling pin with flour to keep the dough from sticking, ensuring our little characters would soon come to life inside the oven.

I still miss those warm and special cookie-baking weekends at Christmas time. Once I was diagnosed with Celiac, baking our lovely sugar cookies sort of took a back seat. Ten years ago it wasn't that easy (or tasty) to whip up a batch of gluten-free sugar cookies. My mom being the lovely woman that she is, never felt it was fair to continue baking those spongy, aroma-filled sugary treats, knowing that I could not fully partake in the fun.

With that said, there are now so many more options for baking delicious gluten-free cookies that actually rise and hold some form of softness. I've been experimenting a bit with some recipes, longing to reestablish this lovey family tradition once again for not only myself, but to share with my precious niece and nephew. It's just such a memorable gather family in a kitchen and create something delicious and filled with love...and lots of frosting!

Here's a new favorite that I really love from Gluten-Free Girl's site:

, adapted from The Joy of Cooking

- 1/2 cup sorghum flour

- 1/2 cup tapioca flour

- 1/2 cup potato starch

- 1/2 cup sweet rice flour

- 1/2 cup amaranth flour

- 1 teaspoon xanthan gum

- 2 teaspoons baking powder

- 1/2 teaspoon salt

- 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature

- 1/2 cup sugar

- 2 eggs

- 2 teaspoon vanilla extract

- Pinch fresh nutmeg

Combining the dry ingredients. Place all the flours in a medium-sized bowl. Whisk them together. Slowly, sift them through a fine-mesh sieve into another bowl. Add the xanthan gum, baking powder, and salt. Whisk together. Set aside.

Creaming the liquids. Stir the butter (or let the beater attachment of the stand mixer do it for you). Add the sugar and cream them together until they are just combined. Add the two eggs and vanilla extract and beat for a couple of minutes more. Throw in the pinch of nutmeg and stir one last time.

Making the dough. Sift the dry ingredients into the liquids, one cup at a time. When the entire mixture is combined and well integrated, you are done. It should be a thick batter, not entirely stick to the touch, but not as stiff as traditional rolled cookie dough. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate overnight.

Baking the cookies. Take the dough out of the refrigerator and let it come to room temperature. Don't let it reach complete pliability. The dough should still be rather stiff from the refrigeration. Preheat the oven to 375°.

Roll out the cookie dough between two pieces of parchment paper (saves on gluten-free flour on the board). This dough doesn't go paper thin, so you'll have cookie with a bite to them. Cut out with your favorite shapes.

Bake for 8 to 12 minutes, depending on your oven and how crisp you like them. Let them cool for 10 minutes before eating them. I know. Try.

Makes about 15 to 20 cookies, depending on the shapes.

A very Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to you and yours!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Abundantly Thankful ~

As the snow swirls about outside and the winter wind has let us know of its presence and persistence this week, if feels as though it's time to surrender to the season. I'm a skier and don't mind seeing the white fluffy stuff beginning to accumulate all around, though I have to say this year in particular, I'm just not thrilled about being cold! But as we all transition into winter we are reminded once again that Mother Nature is really in charge and the blessing of our region with a beautiful blanket of snow so white is inevitable and well-received.

With the hustle and bustle of Thanksgiving this week and many of us traveling to see family and friends, I feel that it's so important to take a breath and take stock in all of our blessings, big or small, with the best blessing of all being the gift of life. Before I subject myself to being groped at the airport tomorrow and face the thousands of other annoyed travelers crying, "just give me the x-ray machine," I'll try to adjust my attitude and be thankful somehow for the fortune of being able to fly...on a plane. I mean really, it's still amazing to me how we all take jumping on a machine that flies through the sky for granted, choosing to complain about a myriad of inconveniences that plague travel these domestic food service, lack of quality peanuts and hey, paying for an airplane blanket now! While these are all truly justified complaints (wink), when we take a step back from all the abundant conveniences we have come to know as "normal" I'm reminded of just how many souls there are living all around the planet, and in our very midst, who will never set foot on an airplane and whom are simply surviving in this beautiful, tough world we all share and call home.

Lately I've been in the mood to purge all of my belongings, rummaging through every closet, drawer and dresser realizing that I have too much - like way too much. It seemed like the perfect time of year to recognize all that I own and then share my abundance with others. As I compiled my clothes and shoes I was almost embarrassed by the volume of what I have accumulated over the years, somehow perhaps feeling "entitled" or "in need" of these material possessions - it's a farce folks. I've been blessed to have traveled a fair amount thus far in my life, and it's glaringly obvious to me that as Americans we are rich beyond our means. I don't mean money in the bank or fancy cars (though that's around us), I simply mean that we are taught to and able (more easily than other societies) to accumulate goods and products at every turn. Have you checked your mailbox lately? The ridiculous amount of catalogs, e-blasts, sale coupons, Black Friday goodness, it is insane to me. I've become increasingly aware that our society literally force-feeds all of us to spend, to need, to buy, to WANT. So as part of my purging process, I have also canceled catalogs and e-mails and decided to live more like the those I know from other countries - where the simple philosophy of, "less IS more" is now guiding my way. Perhaps it's my age or some small trinket of wisdom that's crept in on the journey, but living with less truly feels like the pathway to authenticity.

It's tough to transition from soulful cleansing to gluten-free gorging, but here goes...Not really. The same philosophy can also apply during a Thanksgiving feast. There's only so much food we can really consume in one day! My family has decided to pair down our gluten-free Thanksgiving dinner this year, focusing on quality food and time together vs. 20 appetizers and waaaaay too many desserts that we had grown accustomed to during the years when my dear grandmother/chef was still with us.

I love deviled eggs. This recipe that I found in this month's Sunset magazine is gluten-free and a winner. I'll be preparing this on Thanksgiving as part of my GF appetizers, sure to please everyone!

Mediterranean deviled eggs ~
Serves 8

- 8 Large eggs

- 3 Tbsp. mayonnaise (GF of course)

- 1 1/2 Tsp. Dijon mustard

- 1 1/2 Tsp. white balsamic vinegar

- 1 1/2 Tbsp. each coarsely chopped kalamata olives and capers

- 2 Tsp. chopped flat-leaf parsley

1. Put eggs in a large saucepan and cover with water. Cover pot and boil 12 minutes. Drain and rinse with very cold water to cool quickly.

2. Mix mayonnaise, mustard, and vinegar in a small bowl. Peel eggs, then slice in half. Separate yolks from whites and put whites on a serving plate. Stir yolks into mayonnaise mixture. Gently mix in olives and capers.

3. Fill whites with yolk mixture. Sprinkle tops with parsley.

4. Dash of smoked paprika optional.

I'm a huge fan of raw nuts of any kind - they are packed with so much goodness and make a perfect warm appetizer to serve for any holiday gathering. This one is a particular favorite.

Toasted herbed almonds ~

- Combine 2 cups raw almonds

- 2 Tbsp. sea salt

- 1 Tbsp. finely minced rosemary

- 2 Tsp. olive oil.

Roast all ingredients on a sheet pan for 10 to 12 minutes at 350°. Serve in bowl.

I believe that it is so important to be thankful for every meal and not simply to give thanks on Thanksgiving. Eating and cooking gluten-free over the years has truly taught me how to appreciate every bite of safe food I'm fortunate enough to eat and has made me so aware of the value of good nutrition.

I am constantly reminded of a story told to me in years past by a dear friend in Santa Barbara who is a Chinese/holistic healer. She had once seen an art exhibit on display in Paris of actual photographs of food that had been "blessed" or prayed over in some way prior to being ingested. The exhibit featured photographs of the chemical components and molecular structure of the food before it was prayed over (by no particular religion) but simply given thanks for by someone, and the same foods photographed after. I too, later saw the exhibit in Paris and upon viewing this incredible display of art and life before my eyes, was transformed by the power of giving thanks for even the smallest meal. You see, there was actual scientific proof of how the foods that were prayed over had been chemically transformed and manifested - It was simply astounding.

The power of gratefulness.

Happy Thanksgiving and blessings to you...and don't even think about sneaking a tiny peace of bread or pie that's NOT gluten-free!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Fall Feature ~

Now that Halloween has passed and everyone has recovered (hopefully) from their sugar high, it's time to stomp around in the crunchy, colorful fall leaves blanketing the ground and feast our eyes upon the day of feasting, Thanksgiving. I can't believe that I just wrote that - wow. Personally, I'm not thrilled about the holidays being right around the corner nor the fact that Daylight Savings pummels us this Sunday...can you say dark before we even leave work? Let's put it this Hawaiian tan that I worked very hard to achieve has faded as quickly as the passing daylight.

Speaking of topical islands...Here's some fun news...I'm the Featured Travel Review for the month of November on the Gluten Free Travel's web site and blog. It's an honor and always fun to write about safe places to eat, gathered while traveling and exploring new cities and restaurants. My reviews are about some of the wonderful restaurants we ate at in Hawaii waaaaay back in September - My's been two months already passed. Have a read and jump on a plane to try these wonderful restaurants. The Big Island of Hawaii is my favorite and truly rocks...literally, as in Lava Rocks everywhere!

I really like Karen Broussard's Gluten Free and Blog - it's a great way to read all about restaurants around the country and the world submitted by regular customers just searching for safe and delicious gluten-free dining. If you submit interesting and informative restaurant, hotel, cruise or resort review and yours are chosen to be featured, you'll also win great gift cards and discounts to a favorite restaurant.

Be sure to create an account and start submitting your reviews today!

Another bit of tasty news...I finally visited Haven on Earth Bread & Bakery Co. a.k.a...a Gluten-Free bakery in South Reno on Double R Blvd. It has that "real bakery" feel and it's loaded with all kinds of breads, muffins, doughnuts (Yes!), cookies and pastries. I picked up a couple of really yummy sweet rolls and two loaves of bread; focaccia cheese and whole grain. They also serve lunches now and I was pretty impressed with their menu. I'll be visiting again soon as I do my eating research in preparation for a gluten-free article I'm writing for the spring issue of Edible Reno-Tahoe magazine - very exciting, so stay tuned.

Say adios to those carved pumpkins folks, don your apron and get ready to start baking Pumpkin pies! And if anyone has a favorite recipe that's gluten-free and will be featured on your Thanksgiving table, please send it my way. We'll be posting our favorites!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Gluten-Free Halloween ~

The spookiest day of the year is just around the corner, Halloween - isn't that hard to believe? I have such fond memories of trick-o-treating through our Northern California neighborhood as a kid, buckets bursting over the top with candy as my friends and I safely made our way up and down every street in our neighborhood...ahh, the good old days.

That was long before I was diagnosed with Celiac and wouldn't have had the slightest clue about all of the ingredients wrapped up inside each piece of candy. At that time, it was our parent's job to search for opened wrappers or something that looked "suspicious"...but gluten, heck, that was the least of our worries. Come to think of it, I didn't even know what gluten was!

Oh how times have rapidly changed. Now Halloween for a Celiac child or even us big kids means diligently reading wrappers and ingredient listings to ensure that no trace amount of gluten sneaks in. I've found some fun and information articles about safe Halloween candies, some tips for enjoying this holiday safely and gluten-free, along with some fun homemade recipes sure to please the most particular goblin or Superman.

- Gluten-Free Safe Candy List

- Five Tips for Enjoying Halloween Safely

- Ten Gluten-Free Yummy Candy Recipes

- Fun Gluten-Free Halloween Foods

Have a safe and fun Halloween everyone!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Fresh Start...

I'm on my way back from the dark depths of gluten intoxication, having not eaten much for a solid week...but greatly looking forward to some solid and substantive nourishment. Slowly but surely, I'm reintroducing some protein back into the old diet and soon I hope to be eating some fresh veggies and salad, my main staple.

The sun is shining again this week (literally) after a deluge of rain that lasted for days giving the fauna and flora a greatly deserved and needed dose of moisture. It seemed that the darkened sky was reflecting my state of being and health, but honestly, I didn't mind the thunder and downpours...what I did mind was the debilitating brain fog, stomach pains and nausea. I'll be happy when all three decide to move, on like the passing of a storm.

The week before I dared sip a virgin Bloody Mary, I had ventured to my hometown of San Francisco for the weekend with my mom to hit the Farmer's Market and visit some dear friends. I was delighted to discover Mariposa's new kiosk in the market packed with delicious gluten-free sweets, cookies, and breads - Yeah! I bought some yummy Russian tea-type cookies and two loaves of their brown rice loafed bread that I had been using to make some bruschetta.

Flavorful Bruschetta -

- Just toast the sliced pieces of bread, drizzle with olive oil, toss on some baby Roma tomatoes, add fresh Basil, and drizzle some Balsamic vinegar...then it's mangia mangia time!

This other pretty salad is a fall staple for me - and I love throwing on some fresh walnuts, cranberries, pumpkin seeds and eating up this season's fantastic tomatoes - how lucky we are to taste such little morels of nature just bursting with flavor and zest.

If you are looking for a quick and nutritious lunch or addition to your dinner entree, whip up this fall salad and enjoy:

Fall Salad: Serves 2

- Red Butter lettuce, half head washed and separated

- Fresh-roasted Chicken - cut into pieces and use as desired

- Ripe avocado - I just use half for myself (serve amount desired)

- Feta Cheese - Sprinkle 1/2 cup over lettuce

- Baby Tomatoes - Halve, distribute over salad - I'm in love with the orange ones!

- Nuts - I like to sprinkle 1/2 cup of walnuts, pumpkin seeds or sunflower seeds on the salad for extra crunch and nutrition

- Dried Cranberries - Use 1/4 cup - sprinkle over lettuce

- 2 Tbsp. Olive oil - Drizzle over salad

- 4 Tbsp. Fig Balsamic - Drizzle over salad (I use this stuff on everything!)

- Salt and pepper to taste

- This is also a perfect time to slice a few pieces of your Mariposa bread, toast and drizzle with olive oil

Enjoy and keep an umbrella handy - it is fall, you know.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

The Struggle...

I'm definitely riding the ebb and flow of life's waves each and every day, bringing sunshine and brilliance at times, while other moments or days, struggle and darkness. This is one of those days. I could blame it on the rain and damp air, but that wouldn't be at all fair to Mother Nature who has gifted us with this abundance of moisture. No, it's the damn gluten's fault...and I'm angry and struggling to find the peace within that normally accompanies my daily journey as a Celiac - except on days like this one, when my body is fighting to make heads or tails of the enemy within.

Last night was one of excitement, laughter and joy. I haven't laughed as hard as I did in a long time during Anthony Bourdain's appearance at the Lake Tahoe Food and Wine event at Harrah's. It felt great to belly laugh, and being a huge fan of his, along with my good friend and mother who were also in attendance, it was such an exciting treat to see this man in person spouting out his true gift of lingo, humor and wit...along with his insane knowledge of travel and food.

Leading up to this fun night out, we ladies met for dinner before the show. As my friend and I bellied up to the bar before our meal, our drink of choice turned out to be virgin Bloody Mary's. My dear friend is pregnant, so I decided to accompany her choice of beverage, not ever being able to drink a Bloody Mary before due to its main, non-virgin ingredient, Vodka. We discussed the ingredients of a Bloody Mary sans alcohol, and some tomato juice, Tabasco sauce, salt and pepper with a twist of lime, some olive and an onion seemed harmless enough and a welcome treat. This is the part where I can plead no-contest, or fall back on my naivety, seriously not realizing or knowing that Bloody Mary's most likely consist of and come from a MIX in a fricken bottle that's well, full of crap ingredients. So after about four sips of this tasty drink I started to worry, believing for a moment that "this tastes too good and flavorful to be safe, is this possible?" Little did I know that 15 minutes into my non-alcoholic drink the damage had already been done. We asked the bartender at that point to clarify what was in this drink - As he handed me the bottle my eyes were immediately transfixed on the list of over 20 ingredients (and not all good, let me tell you) with the second to last being "wheat - soy" and immediately below that, an allergy listing calling out "wheat." In an instant, my heart sank far below my bar stool and a wave of panic reverberated throughout my body as I began to pray that the large amount of ice in the glass had diluted or aided my gut in some way. I immediately slid the drink away and could see the fright in the bar tender's eyes as I politely demanded a glass of red wine, which in the past has at least tempered the immediate affects of the gluten's drastic hold on my innards.

Here's where my anger has entered in today - What the hell? I mean, they put gluten/soy sauce in a simple tomato mix and after only a few sips, I loose yet another day on the calendar to being holed up in my house, reeling from an accident. This is not my pity party, it's just me being really pissed off about the pathetic lack of education in our country regarding additives and adding wheat to every product known to man, and we the Celiacs having to fight the good fight each and every second, still being accidentally poisoned while constantly on-guard. I'm just really tired of the basic garbage that is added, filled, mixed and used in the vast majority of American food products and the obscene lack of knowledge that every restaurant in this great country possesses when it comes to not killing a Celiac!

Okay, I'm ranting and allowing my emotions to write the majority of this post, but come on, aren't any of you out there feeling a similar level of disdain?! The other issue coming in to play here is that I'm frightened. After a record 14 months of zero gluten poisoning incidents, my streak has sadly ended and I am again reminded that it only takes a tiny amount of ingested gluten to send my body into a state of confusion and pain. God forbid I even encounter a large accidental dose. I'm pretty sure that would equal lights out for me.

I could summarize some thoughtful anecdote about how at least I don't have cancer or have to deal with a myriad of other horrible illnesses and that is very true, but today I'm not going there. I'm just mad. I hope you understand.

At this point I'm thinking of taking Tony Bourdain's advice...and just doing shots!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Summer Light, It Is a Fadin'...

As the last days of summer quietly slip away like sand through toes on a beach, I have stopped to notice the change in the light and temperature that has subtlety come upon us - oh summer, why do you leave us so soon?

Even the air is changing from the "smell of summer" to the transition of crisp, fresh morning breezes and cool evenings that still carry that hint of warmth left behind from the sun's rays that heated the earth during the daylight. Fall is my favorite time of year, though I'm never in a rush for it to arrive, as I've learned to live each day to the fullest and in the moment, never looking too far ahead any longer to what "might be"...

With the thoughts of hunkering down and lighting candles during upcoming fall evenings, as darkness befalls my little home at a much earlier time now, I'm very anxious to read more and more and COOK more and more...and, to purchase Shauna Ahern and her hubby's (The Chef)new cook book that just came out titled, "Gluten-Free Girl and The Chef." Shauna, aka...Gluten Free-Girl is a great writer. I love her blog and really enjoyed her first book. At times, I felt as though I was reading my own life-story and struggles with Celiac Disease before my diagnosis. I've been lucky enough to "friend" her on Facebook and we've chatted a few times. She really seems like a quality person doing a lot for the advancement of Celiac Disease, while making many tummies very happy along the way.

Enjoy the last few hours of summertime and be sure to look UP! The change of light is too beautiful to miss.

Blessings ~

Friday, September 17, 2010

Vacation recovery time...


Bowl of Soul will return from vacation next week. Please visit soon!

Mahalo ~

Friday, August 27, 2010

Camping, Gluten-free Style...

So, I don't camp. I mean until a recent camping excursion to McCall, Idaho I had not been camping since I was a kid...unless one night of car-camping in Yosemite while in my late 20's counts? No, not really. I'm more of a dare I say...hotel snob. I just love hotel rooms and fluffy beds with high thread count sheets, and super cool bathrooms with the awesome take-home swag that certain hotels leave for you each morning - I can't help it. I think it's a genetic flaw (or not).

Regardless, I was excited to camp again and give this outdoor activity a whole-hearted try! I'm an outdoor gal, really truly...just never felt that comfortable sleeping in a tent in the great outdoors with the impending doom of a bear attack...but that was before our excursion. Another little issue that's held me back from strapping on a backpack with all my wears, was the fear of wondering what on earth I would eat if I was camping in some remote wilderness, solely left to survive on Lara Bars and trail mix...okay, I digress. Drama aside, our weekend trip to McCall was a lot of fun and a chance to put my silly concerns aside, enjoy my very handsome and capable "camping guide extraordinaire," and a gorgeous spot on the map...and the opportunity to grill up some tasty and simple meals that were perfectly gluten-free under the beauty of the stars, while breathing in that wonderful mountain air.

If you've never been to McCall, ID it's worth a trip - just 2 hours outside of Boise and sitting on the gorgeous Payette Lake; it's a wonderful town. There's so much to do - hiking, biking, golf, tennis, boating, swimming...there was even a triathlon taking place the morning we were there. The town is quaint with a new beach/park area for kids and adults. I was impressed, as I hadn't been back in several years and the community improvements were noticable. Sun Valley, ID is my favorite place to spend time...but I have to say that having the Lake to look at and the beach to lounge on, while listening to the waves lapping on shore, was tempting me to spend more time in McCall.

Cooking on this stove was a fun challenge and my handsome guide assured me that it would do the trick. We packed coolers and bags of food picked up at the organic Coop in Boise, ensuring that I would be safe and not stranded with only nuts to the squirrels camping with us. Our dinner menu consisted of fresh corn (grilled, sort of), fresh asparagus cooked with olive oil and sea salt, and some delicious Aidells organic chicken apple sausages grilled over the stove, not the fire. Though not all of their sausages and products are gluten-free, this particular variety is free of gluten and soy. I've always had good luck with this brand...and they are very delicious. We also popped open a nice bottle of an Idaho wine, Ste. Chapelle Soft Red, and did I mention the yummy plate of appetizers we threw together? Even when camping I've learned that a lovely plate of sliced salami, a nice Monterey Jack and some freshly made guacamole go a long way. As I was preparing the plate, while channeling my minimalist self, it dawned on me how refreshing it is sometimes to be completely out of your element and have to make-do, improvise or be creative - in this case, with basic cooking utensils, a propane stove, and some good old plastic plates. A refreshing change and the finished product was quite tasty.

And seriously, what camping trip is complete without the historic S'more?! Not ours! Gluten-free marshmallows, a good old Hershey's chocolate bar and some very creative thinking to replace the traditional graham cracker, taaa daaaa...Enjoy Life, Eat Freely's soft baked snickerdoodle cookies, were the perfect partner to melt that gooey s'more goodness into.

I'll spare you the details of the rabid, wild animal that forged through our campsite early the next morning and thundered by the tent with such force that...okay, well perhaps I was exaggerating a tinsey bit but honestly, something wild did gallop by our tent leaving me frozen in fear and praying I would have another shot at roasting marshmallows over the campfire in this lifetime. What a wonderful and rustic treat that truly is (the roasting, not the wild beast) - to sit close to a roaring fire, cuddled and warm with nothing between you and your delicate dance with marshmallow and nature's incinerator. There's a real art to the perfect "roast" no? After a few ignited 'mallows (rookie move), the fire temperature was understood and spears were bravely thrust back into the flames for another attempt at creating that perfect, just toasted, crusted on the outside, smoldering on the inside bite...hungry yet?

Friday, August 20, 2010

In the News...

So it's been one of those crazy weeks with too much going on at work and outside of work - all good stuff, but enough going on to have pulled me away from cooking much or being creative in the kitchen - darn. I did throw together a yummy pasta, turkey, veggie casserole that I've been noshing on most of the week, but other than that it's been greens, some salads and hmmmm, what else? Oh, Lara Bars and yogurt.

After this weekend is over, I'm determined to get my good old fridge and pantry stocked again with my favorite gluten-free staples and get to cooking! I have so many dishes I want to create and sample, and as the air outside slowly creeps towards cooler evenings and mornings it's becoming clear that....gulp, fall is right around the corner. This could be the shortest summer ever. I still have visions of dining on tapas on my new patio and throwing a Paella party before the season for patio dining comes to a close. After eating the most amazing Paella at the Jaialdi festival in Boise last month, I'm definitely inspired to cook up my own batch, so stay tuned for that photo essay and recipe.

There have been a couple of Celiac news stories that crossed my computer screen this week that I thought were worth sharing - there's so much information "out there" and so much research finally being done on Celiac Disease that we all need to keep the information flowing and sharing with all who will listen.

Because I already have the beginning stages of Osteoporosis (due to Celiac) I'm always curious to read more about the connection and what is being learned and done to thwart this serious issue for those of us who were unable to absorb nutrients for so many years. This article titled, "Cause of Osteoporosis in Celiac patients?" and is worth the read, especially if you have it.

I Tweeted this article about Celiac Disease and the reproductive connection, during the week given that I've also suffered from Endometriosis, due to my Celiac Disease and I'm always curious to learn more about fertility issues and how I might be effected or not.

This article about a man's hospital stay in Canada was particularly startling, especially if you have ever spent any time in a hospital (which I have). It becomes clear very quickly after being admitted that you are at the mercy of hospital staff whom most....and I'm generalizing here but seriously, most...don't have a clue about Celiac Disease and eating in a hospital, as I've always said (as a Celiac) like taking your life in your hands. As astonishing as this fact is to write, I can attest that it's true. If you are ever admitted for anything, BE SURE to have a thorough (and if you are incapacitated, a family member or friend can fill in) conversation with nurses, doctors, staff about the specifics of exactly what you can and cannot eat, and I mean down to the gnat's eye lash. I'm not trying to sound paranoid...but I am. It's your life.

And finally, just a good article I found in the Calgary Herald that gives some basic facts about choosing to eat a gluten-free diet. Basic reminders are always a good thing.

As I venture off into the weekend I'm banking on coming back restored and full of cooking ideas that I'm certain to share.

Stay informed and healthy...and enjoy the day!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Pasta, Pasta!!

I love pasta. I always have, but I love it even more now because of all the varieties of actual gluten-free pastas on the market. Thinking back to ten years ago I recall there was uhhh...nothing. I didn't eat pasta for several years after my diagnosis of Celiac Disease because, well...there weren't any on the market. Those were the early days when brown riced ruled my world and I would create an impressive variety of dishes solely encompassing boiled brown rice, veggies, hard boiled eggs and maybe some cheese. Good times.

I also remember back to just seven or eight years ago being on vacation in Rio de Janiero, Brazil. Walking through some of the grocery stores in Impanema, I was in awe of allllll the gluten-free products on the shelves - and not only where they on the shelves, they were clearly marked with a gluten-free logo denoting that even someone who wasn't fluent in Portuguese could figure out. So, on both of my trips to Brazil I loaded up on crackers, pasta and other products that could not be found in the States at that time and brought them home with me. But what was the most eye-opening and astounding part of those fond memories was the fact that I discovered these products in a country (at that time) that was still considered a developing nation, even though it is South America's most influential country, an economic giant and one of the world's biggest democracies. I would love to visit again and peruse the local grocery aisles to see what kind of products are available now and how the restaurants and vendors' awareness of Celiac Disease have been elevated.

Another favorite stop on my map for gluten-free pastas and products has always been Italy - however, now we (as in the U.S.) carry more gluten-free products than I've recently found in Europe, so it's a real momentum swing in our favor, especially in the last five years. You can still find terrific GF products overseas and hands-down, certain western European countries have a greater understanding and awareness of preparing foods properly, but product for product, the U.S. seems to be on a roll.

In my product research and collection of favorite food sites, I really enjoy Market Hall Foods of Oakland, and their effort to stock some authentic, Italian GF pastas which I have ordered and cooked with. Their GF pasta brand is Rustichella d'Abruzzo, who recently introduced their gluten-free pasta line. These artisanal pastas are made from freshly-milled, non-GMO Italian corn and rice and are 100% gluten-free. I found them to be quite tasty and held their form well, but honestly, my favorite GF pastas which are more affordable and easier to find, are Tinkyada rice pastas.

The photo and recipe in this post includes Tinkyada's brown rice penne pasta. I'm just a big fan of how well the pasta holds its shape and texture...and flavor. And when you eat the leftovers the next day, their pasta is still fresh and never soggy. You can find this brand at Whole Foods and some mainstream grocery stores now, as well.

The Gluten-free Mall also offers a large selection of GF pastas that you order on line and have delivered to your front door. Another company that's been leading the way for gluten-free products in Europe for decades is now in the States, Schar. I first bought some of their products in Italy, as they have been the premier GF supplier there for years. The company has a very interesting history and in 2007 they opened their first U.S. headquarters in Lyndhurst, New Jersey. Schar USA now provides high quality gluten free products to many of the U.S. major chains. If you've ever ordered an gluten-free meal on an international flight, you were eating some of their products...with that said, you might be inclined to give Schar another try, post-flight. In my opinion there's really just no delicious way to eat on a airplane unless you pack the food yourself...or sit in first-class! Schar also offers an on-line store that sells quite a variety of their own pasta brands. I have not personally tried their pasta, but they are on my list to check out and review.

There are two other online companies worth mentioning, one who also sells homemade gluten-free pastas, DePuma's Gluten Free Pasta in Connecticut and will ship to your door. As well as, Olive Nation, out of Italy via the States. I was so excited to find they carry my favorite corn pasta that I have only been able to find in Rome, Le Veneziane Corn Pasta. Needless to say, I'll be stocking up.

With so many delicious, authentic choices available to us just got a bit sweeter, non?

Summer Pasta Primavera
(okay, with sausage!)

Serves 4

- 1 Bag of Tinkyada brown rice pasta (2.5 cups)

- 3-4 Gluten-free sausages, sun-dried tomato (pick your favorite), Sliced

- 1 Cup baby red tomatoes (halved)

- 2 Zucchini (medium), sliced thinly

- 1 Shallot (small), diced

- 1 Yellow onion (small), chopped

- Fresh Basil leaves

- 1/2 Cup fresh shredded cheese (Asiago and Parmigiana are best)

- 3 Tbsp. Olive oil

- Salt and pepper to taste

- Dash of fig balsamic vinegar

Saute chopped onions and shallot in pan with olive oil. When they are translucent, add zucchini slices and saute until they are al dente, then add baby tomatoes and sliced sausage and simmer together on low heat for 5-8 minutes. On another burner, time out the cooking of your pasta so it's ready when your saute is cooked. With most GF pastas, they require between 12-15 minutes at a boil. Once the pasta is cooked, drain and add a tsp. of olive oil and stir. Then add your vegetable saute and mix together. Salt and pepper to taste. Top each bowl with a handful of fresh cheese and basil leaves, along with a drizzle of fig balsamic.

Mangia mangia!!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

A Mix of Cultural Flavors ~

Summertime brings forth so many amazing fresh fruits and veggies that we really have no excuse for not eating well right now, and enjoying the flavors that nature has so generously given to us. I've been frequenting my local farmer's market that's close to my house, every Saturday morning when I'm in town. Last Saturday, I loaded up on some delicious peaches, baby tomatoes, zucchini, kale, you name it...and I love how Mother Nature considered all of us Celiacs when she was creating these foods that taste perfect straight out of the ground/garden or picked from a tree...just as she intended.

Recently, I've realized that I tend to cook foods that I have eaten and learned about while traveling abroad and have then become favorites of mine over time. Another thing I have realized about myself, I rarely use recipes. I should dust off some of these amazing cookbooks that are lining the top shelf in my kitchen and put them to use more often, so now I have another project to add to my never ending, "To-do" list. If I had the luxury of being independently can guess where you would find me most of the time...yes, in my sweet kitchen cooking away and creating delicious (I hope) meals for all of my friends and loved ones. In the meantime, I do my best to always try new dishes that come to mind or heart, remembering along the way, tastes from some of my favorite cultures and stops on the map.

In another part of my adult life, I used to spend a lot of time in Italy - what an amazing country. Just say the word "Italy" to most avid travelers and they start drooling and going on and on about a favorite restaurant they dined in, or a villa they stayed at and...the pasta, of course. I have a very fond memory of the last real pasta dish that I ate (full of gluten) before surrendering to my new life as a Celiac. It was in September of 2000 - I was staying at a friend's villa she owns and runs with her family, Villa di Piazzano in Cortona, a most magical location on this earth. My friend and her mother prepared the most delicious, authentic and special meal for my birthday. I can still smell and taste the ravioli with walnut sauce they handmade for me. At that moment, I was keenly aware that dish would be the final authentic, Italian, gluten-filled ravioli I would ever eat...let's just say, I scrapped every morsel off of my plate that night.

The other evening as I was assessing all of the fresh veggies in my fridge, I decided to create a lovely Insalata Caprese, a true favorite of mine and garnish it with the basil I'm growing, along with a fabulous fig-vinegar.

It's the perfect summer dish filled with such robust old-world flavors, grown close at hand and locally. Pair it with a crisp bottle of Pinot Grigio, some additional antipasti, and you have a lovely dinner to share or eat all by yourself!

Jumping across the Mediterranean, here's truly my favorite dish/meal that I literally live on whenever I'm in Spain or the Basque Country, Tortilla Espanola. Mmmmmmm

Last night, I was thoroughly inspired to cook up my own Tortilla because earlier in the day I had been influenced by all the social media chatting taking place about this week/weekend's Jaialdi celebration in Boise, ID. Jaialdi in Euskera (Basque language) means "party time" and boy won't it be. Every five years, thousands of us Bascos ascend upon the city of Boise to celebrate in grand style for five days of eating, drinking, dancing, socializing and oh yeah, there's some cultural activities going on, as well. Bar Gernika in Boise has rockin' Tortilla and I really can't wait to sink my teeth into a large pie-shaped piece...pieces throughout the last night's dish was just getting me geared up for my staple that I shall be eating for the next few days, along with several...many Kalimotxos...and really, how great is it that "Kalimotxo" has it's own Wikipedia address?!

The Tortilla that I created last night was traditional in the sense that it included potato, onion and eggs, but I spruced it up a bit with some fresh zucchini slices, chorizo slices and Basque cheese. When it fluffs up in the pan, you can't help but start snapping photos. I use a great tortilla pan that I purchased from the La Tienda...William Sonoma carries one, as well...but mine was much more economical and works like a charm over and over again. If you are so inspired to pick one up for yourself, I promise you will not be disappointed. It makes the flipping of the tortilla a dream and if you have every tried to flip with a flat plate on the bottom, over the sink, fearing running eggness dripping all over your kitchen or suffering from 3rd degree burns, this is the pan for you.

On our last trip to visit family and friends in Euskadi (Basque Country), daily trips to the bar on the beach in San Sebastian for our Tortilla fix were quite common, and having to say "agur" (goodbye) to that little ritual and assimilate back in to my present life, was a bit challenging. Though we can recreate amazing dishes or simple peasant food we've tasted in far off lands, I think the missing ingredients of culture that can rarely be emulated is the fresh, salty ocean air, or the echo-ing of clanking silverware and dishes being washed down a cobblestone alley somewhere in Toscana...or perhaps, it's really just that they grow amazing tomatoes across the Pond.

Insalata Caprese

Serves 2-4

- 3 Heirloom tomatoes - medium size, sliced

- 2 Cups chopped
red leaf lettuce

- 1/2 Large avocado, sliced

- Fresh Basil leaves

- 1/2 Cup of fresh mozzarella cheese (small ball-size)

- 3 Tbsp. Olive oil

- 4 Tbsp. Fig vinegar

- Salt and pepper to taste

Chop lettuce and place in a narrow strip down center of serving plate. Slice all tomatoes and layer them on top of the lettuce. Layer avocado slices on top of tomatoes, garnish with fresh Basil. Place mozzarella around plate as desired. Drizzle olive oil and fig vinegar over the salad. Salt and pepper to taste.


Tortilla Espanola (con queso y chorizo)
Serves 4

- 5 large eggs

- 2 large potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced

- 3 to 4 tablespoons olive oil

- 1 onion, peeled and finely chopped

- 2 Chorizo (sausages) medium sliced

- 1 Small zucchini, thinly sliced (optional)

- 2-4 oz. of sliced Basque or Spanish cheese (white)


Crack the eggs into a bowl. Whisk with a fork and add a pinch of salt. Heat some oil in a frying pan (not one with a heavy base as this will prove to be a hindrance when preparing to do the flip). This is why the tortilla pan is great. Add the potato and fry for a couple of minutes. Add the onion and saute together until onions become translucent.

When the potato starts to brown a little on the edges and is mashed up with the onion in a lumpy fashion then add the zucchini (optional)and eggs. Make sure the potato and onions are fully submerged by the eggs. Poke the potato to allow some of the egg to seep into the mashed mixture. Layer the cheese on top of the dish, lightly submerging the cheese into the egg mixture.

Cover pan and fry this gently on a low heat. While cooking shake the pan to loosen the tortilla from the base and tidy the edges up with a wooden spoon. Do not over cook. The middle is meant to remain runny and gooey...well, sort of.

The egg will start setting, as this happens place a plate over the pan, a large enough plate to cover the pan substantially, and with a quick coordinated movement of both wrists, flip the tortilla over onto the plate and slide back into the pan to cook the underside. If you are using a tortilla pan, simply secure the top lid to the bottom, hold handle firmly and flip in a quick motion. Keep shaking the pan lightly so the tortilla does not stick to the bottom.

Once it feels firm on the edges and soft in the middle (after about 2 minutes) then slide the tortilla back onto the plate. For the brave heart you can do the flip again if you wish. Let the tortilla rest for about 5 to 10 minutes before serving. Cut into cake slices or cubes.

Janaritu! Coma!

If you have any favorite cultural dishes that are meaningful to heart and belly, please send them my way. I would love to post some other dishes to share.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Summer Salmon and Salad ~

Now that we are sweltering in the summer heat cooking inside the house is just not a real option on a hot evening, so I've reclaimed my BBQ and loving it all over again. I could really spend every day of the year (granted, I'd be cooking 6 mos. of the it in snow boots) outside on my patio, BBQ-ing and enjoying my yard. I love eating outside - there's something so free and spontaneous about setting the patio table for dinner, placing some fresh-cut flowers on the table and snipping off fresh basil from my little garden to garnish any dish. I'm just an outdoor gal - that's all there is to it.

I'm also a big fan of Sunset Magazine and I've noticed more recently that many of their wonderful recipes are gluten-free, or can easily be adapted to be gluten-free. So when I invited my lovely mother over for dinner last week, I decided to try out a new salmon recipe from Sunset. It's mix of hot and cool just called out to me and it seemed so healthy and fresh...oh, it was. It was pretty simple to prepare and very low-fat and packed with great Omega 3's and protein.

As I was preparing this meal with my mom I declared..."okay, I want to win the lotto and go to cooking school and spend my days creating amazing food in my kitchen"...I'll keep dreaming big...and it would help if I actually purchased a lotto ticket. In the meantime, there are a thousand recipes I would like to try. Speaking of - I subscribe to a blog called, GOOP.
It's the brain-child of super-star mom, cook, soon-to-be cookbook author, Gwyneth Paltrow. Her latest post was filled with amazing cookbook suggestions for summer reading. I was so excited that I filled up my Amazon shopping cart...I have yet to hit the "purchase" button, however. Take a look at her suggestions - some real winners. I'm definitely purchasing the "Urban Pantry"...the cover itself is just so appealing to me.

Grilled salmon with cucumber salad ~ (Gluten-free)
Serves 4/35 minutes

- 1 Cup plain whole-milk yogurt (I used non-fat plain Siggi's Skyr)
- 1 Tbsp. each chopped from dill and extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 Tsp. lemon juice
- About 1/4 tsp. kosher salt
- 1/8 Tsp. pepper

Cucumber salad:
- 1/2 lb. Persian or English cucumbers (2 large)
- 2 Tsp. each chopped chives and flat-leaf parsley
- 1 1/2 Tsp. minced shallot
- 2 Tsp. extra-virgin olive oil
- 3/4 Tsp. lemon juice
- 1/8 Tsp. each kosher salt and pepper

Salmon and serving:
- 4 sockeye salmon fillets (each 5 - 6 oz., 1/2 to 1 in. thick), with skin
- 1 Tbsp. olive oil
- 1/4 Tsp. each salt and pepper
- Fresh dill sprigs

Make sauce:
Combine yogurt, dill, oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper in a bowl
Cover and chill until used.

Heat grill to medium-high (about 450)

Make salad:
Cut cucumbers lengthwise into paper-thin strips, preferably with a mandoline (I used a knife). Put in a bowl with herbs and shallot; chill until used. In another bowl, mix oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper; set aside dressing.

Prepare salmon:
Rub all over with oil and sprinkle all over with salt and pepper. Fold a 12 x 20 sheet of heavy foil in half, crosswise. With knife tip, pike dime-size holes through foil about 2 in. apart. Oil one side of foil.

Set foil with oiled side up on cooking grate (BBQ). Set fillets slightly separated, skin side down, on foil. Grill, covered, until fish is cooked through, or to desired liking. Carefully remove skin with spatula and discard.

Discard any liquid from cucumber mixture in bowl, then quickly toss mixture (yogurt) with dressing and immediately mound on fish. Garnish with fresh dill sprigs. Serve.

Fresh Salad with egg:

In getting back to my Euro-roots, I whipped up a yummy salad that I ate last summer in Geneva - mmmmmm The photo is missing the "egg on top" shot but try to envision.

I really enjoyed the mix of textures, fresh veggies, topped with two pan-fried eggs, then drizzled with your favorite balsamic. So light and fresh and yes...French.

Simply mix your favorite lettuce in a bowl, chop a perfectly ripe Heirloom tomato into quarters, toss in feta cheese, salt and pepper to taste.

In a small frying pan, add 1 Tbsp. olive oil, then fry two organic eggs. When they are cooked to your liking, slide them on top of the salad. They will lightly melt the feta. Then drizzle balsamic on top - Delicious - I promise.

Enjoy life - food, wine, family and friends...

they fill up our tummies and our souls!

Friday, July 9, 2010

Gluten-Free Pizza - Yum ~

After our Triathlon last weekend, my body was longing for some carbs. I had been told by someone at the Whole Foods deli counter last week that they were now making gluten-free pizza dough (rice) and pizzas made-to-order. Wow. My world just became a little bit brighter.

We decided to give this pizza a try, so I went to the Whole Foods pizza counter and spoke at length with one of their employees. He told me that the dough is made of rice flour and is 100% gluten-free. They are creating 10" rounds that come standard with mozzarella, and then you have three pizza sauces to choose from. The pizzas are custom made-to-order at the counter, and can either be baked at WF or you can take it home to bake in your own oven, which I did. The dough can also be sold separately, so customers can simply take it home, roll it, dress it with toppings and bake on their own. I was told that they keep the dough in a separate area and went to another kitchen in WF to prepare the pizza. I opted to take the pizza home and bake it in my oven which I know is 100% gluten-free. Our WF here in Reno is doing a great job stocking a lot of gluten-free items, however, they state right up front that they are NOT a gluten-free facility, so you always have to keep cross-contamination in mind.

I would like to further-research where they are baking the GF pizzas; are they in the same oven as the regular flour-dough pizzas, or have they designated a separate oven? So until I have that answer clear in my head, I'll keep baking them at home. And the price - it was very reasonable. Surprisingly, our 10" with three toppings (artichoke hearts, sun-dried tomatoes, and ham) and the choice of garlic/tomato sauce with mozzarella was only $15.00. I've purchased GF pizzas in San Diego that were only 8" and ran somewhere in the $20-something this was also a pleasant surprise, and dangerous...I have to ration my pizza runs now!

The pizza was quite delicious and I enjoyed the crust - I bake my own pizzas, creating the dough at home via an easy recipe I posted last year, but this crust had a lovely crispness to it - and held it's form quite nicely. The toppings were fresh, healthy and I really liked the taste of their mozzarella cheese and the way it bubbled and cooked to a yummy "real pizza" consistency, especially around the crust. So yeah, it was a little bit of Heaven and felt like a real treat to go order a pizza at the counter, shop for 20 minutes and pick it up...dare I say, it kind of felt "normal"...

I would like to hear from those of you who give this Whole Foods pizza a try and hear what you think about the quality, consistency, toppings and price.

If this weekend's heat and lazy summer attitude prevents you from whipping up a storm in the kitchen, you now have the option of a quick and delish pizza - all you really need to do is pick some fresh lettuce and veggies from your backyard garden and drizzle on some olive oil and balsamic!

Happy Summer eating~

Friday, July 2, 2010

Quinoa Salad for your 4th Picnic ~

Happy July 4th weekend!

Wow, seems strange even writing that date, but given how fast the year seems to be flying by I guess the holiday is already upon us, along with some warm weather - finally!

I attended a friend's BBQ this week and had whipped up a tasty Quinoa dish to share that you can serve either warm or cold, which makes it perfect for picnics and outdoor dining. After our Triathlon in Graeagle, CA this Sunday, I'll be serving this dish at our picnic and scarfing it up for some much needed post-race nourishment, and because it's the highest protein of all grains!

I was always a huge brown rice fan, but now that I've leaned about the joy of quinoa and it's healthful benefits and yummy, nutty flavor, I'm hooked. Sorry brown rice.

Give this dish a try. It's simple, delicious and gluten-free.

Quinoa Veggie/Feta dish~

Serves 6

- 1 Full cup of Quinoa (I love Ancient Harvest Traditional Quinoa - found at Trader Joe's or Whole Foods)

- 1 Large zucchini or 2 small sliced (more on the thin side)

- 1/2 Large yellow onion chopped

- 1/2 Cup baby tomatoes (colored variety)halved

- 1/2 Cup of fresh Feta cheese

- 1/4 Cup of chopped walnuts

- 1 Tbsp. organic garlic salt

- 2 Tbsp. olive oil

- Salt and pepper to taste

Follow directions on quinoa box, but after you bring to a boil, let simmer for 12-15 minutes until all the moisture has cooked out. While quinoa is cooking, saute chopped onion in olive oil and garlic salt. Add zucchini slices and saute until cooked and onions are transparent. After they are cooked, set aside. Chop baby tomatoes in half and place in large serving bowl. Then add the quinoa and stir together. Then add onions and zucchini and feta cheese. Mix together to blend all ingredients. Dress top of dish with walnuts and another tablespoon of feta. Serve and enjoy!

Happy 4th of July!!

Be safe and celebrate being the joys of being an American!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Gluten Free Reflections ~

Life is funny, isn't it? Unexpected challenges appear overnight, followed by dark days and then the light shines through when you least expect it. It's a true journey and to be told otherwise, is well, a bunch of baloney I have learned. Nothing is perfect, no ONE is perfect, least of all myself, but as we grow and stretch and push through and keep moving forward, it's the little moments of awareness and special gifts along the way that make each and every day truly "a gift."

A good friend of mine just posted this on Facebook today, "when life gives you lemons, make lemon cupcakes." it- and of course she really meant to say, "gluten-free lemon cupcakes!" You see, I've been more introspective and reflective in the past year and a half than ever before in my life. I love being in my (late - gulp) 30's and being able to consciously see positive changes that I'm making in my life and have made, thus far. I feel more "awake" than every before and I owe much of this awareness to having Celiac Disease. I think back to just ten short years ago when I was diagnosed and 1) wonder where on earth the time has flown to, and 2) feel as though I've lived ten different lives along this journey though this past decade. All moments, experiences and pieces of my puzzle that have put me exactly where I am in this moment.

Time is a funny thing - it's also a trap, to some degree.

I built this zen/meditation garden (above) in my backyard last week. I've felt really compelled to have a special place to sit and meditate, while being in the beauty of the outdoors and my backyard...the location in my home. I built this just for me. To give myself a place to go whenever the moment calls, through good days and tough days; a place to reflect and be still and say, "thank you."

Living with disease is an interesting part of one's life. I decided long ago it would not define my existence, yet Celiac Disease has opened up an entirely new life and world to me, lending perspective that I would never have, if not for an intolerance to gluten. I also know that the emotions and challenges in my younger life were the catalyst for this disease finally surfacing, so with that is yet another journey in itself to wade though - but I put my waders on, so I'm in the water and feeling safe and dry. I have a dear friend who has been ill for almost two years now - struggling with so many autoimmune issues that hit her very suddenly. She barely knows what to eat at this point and her poor stomach is completely on defense, practically rejecting every food-source she tries to get down. Having Celiac Disease has allowed me the gift of huge compassion and empathy for her, and many others who are struggling. It's the least I can do.

Along my new zen-like path I see the magic that shows up sometimes when the right kind of positive intentions and energy are set-forth. This past week I must have had, "I'm gluten-free" written on my forehead because the Universe kept bombarding me with just that topic and people looking for assistance, advise or answers. Pretty cool. One such call came from a local health reporter with the Reno Gazette Journal. She had heard from another reporter I work with that I am a Celiac advocate and write a blog about it. Not only did I get to assist with some of the facts in the article that ran this week titled, "Goodbye Gluten," but I got a little press about my Celiac work and she ran one of my recipes! It was exciting and I was honored to contribute. I always am!

In other GF news, I stumbled upon this story that I found interesting titled, Eating and Thriving on a Restricted Diet. Many of us can strongly relate to this author's story and the challenges of receiving the correct diagnosis before it's too late.

And here's yet another informative research study posted by an Italian scientific research team studying Kids with Celiac Disease Show Distinctive Microbial Signature.

Next week's blog post will have a yummy pasta dish included and a few other surprises. I hope you all ran out and bought some Siggi's Skyr since last week! I know I've been eating it every morning and loving my way through each delicious bite, while chanting my "ohhhmmmmms" in front of the fountain.

Have a terrific weekend and share your compassion with the world!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Race News and Skyr ~

I'm very happy to report that my first half-marathon was a success and a wonderfully challenging experience! It's already been a week + since the race and I'm feeling the itch to sign up for more next up, the Graeagle Triathlon on July 4th! I think I've got the "get stronger" bug and it's bittin' away.

I've been relearning through all this running and training just how valuable the right foods can truly be for our bodies, and how it is the fuel that keeps the fire burning. Not only have I not been eating enough protein for a long time now, but I've also discovered how beneficial the right foods are at just the right times, when it comes to sustaining my energy and stamina. It's such a learning curve and definitely a work in progress. The night before the race, we cooked a yummy pasta, chicken, veggie dish that was perfect and served as good racing fuel. The morning of, (after not sleeping well at all, darn it) I ate a delish cup of my new favorite food, Siggi's Icelandic Style Skyr Strained Non-fat yogurt that I discovered while in Seattle with my Aunt, along with berries and peanut butter! The Skyr-style yogurt is non-fat and loaded with protein - 16 grams in just 170 grams or a small cup. It's my favorite breakfast and also a real treat when you sprinkle raw nuts and cranberries on top - give it a try for your next breakfast.

The race is all a bit of a blur, but boy was I nervous at the starting line - as the starter's gun was fired I was surprised at how quickly everyone took off - setting a pretty fast pace from the get-go...oh, and I did I mention that the first mile was a long climb up a hill? Yes, it was. Lots of huffing and puffing at more that 1,000 feet higher than had I trained at. The course was gorgeous and in those moments when the pain set in or I was tired, I continually reminded myself to look around at the majestic beauty that was surrounding all of us runners, and to remember why I was doing this...for myself, for my spirit and for purely the gift of having two legs to take me on this journey. So at mile 12, another big hill (can you believe that?!), followed by more rolling hills...I kept saying to myself, "I did it - almost there!"...and let me tell you, I don't' even remember the last 1/4 mile - all I could hear was the announcer, the pounding of my heart and the joy of hearing people cheering us as I crossed the finish line. The last two minutes of the race I gave all I had and suddenly, nothing hurt, my legs were with me and there was a smile on my face to replace the grimace I was most likely carrying with me for the last 8 miles. The best part, aside from my running partner sticking with me, seriously...the super cool medals that every one of us racers received at the finish line. It's my little gold medal.

Now that I'm home and have backed off on the running for a week I've been focused on refueling my engine and that's where Sigg's Skyr comes have to try this yogurt. Little background - so I did some research on their company recently and their story is great. Their packaging did not specifically list any mention of gluten-free, though the ingredients seemed safe to me (but we never know), so I emailed the company and asked them. I received an email back from their marketing gal letting me know that they are in the process of receiving their gluten free certification and soon it will be "reflected on our labels in these upcoming months, so keep an eye out!"...I will. Not only did they respond quickly, but the other day in my mail box I received a package from Siggi's with coupons for their delicious Skyr. I was duly impressed with their customer service and the thoughtful gift of sending me such a valuable little package - I'm an even bigger fan now! And they are so green - their packaging is so simple and easy to recycle. Siggi's Skyr yogurts come in eight delicious flavors and are loaded with probiotics - always a necessity for a Celiac stomach.

Speaking of, there's an interesting article that just came out this week about just that - Celiacs and probiotics, discussing new research that could eventually result in a probiotic treatment for celiacs. The article is focused around some of the work that Italian doctor Alessio Fasano, M.D. of the University of Maryland is researching on an ongoing basis. Though I can't give you the scientific specifics or research behind my probiotic experimenting, I can say without a doubt that they help my stomach tremendously and I swear by them. I take a great achidophilus capsule ever day of my life and am really hooked on Synergy Kombucha - they have settled my stomach many times and brought it back to life, on occasion.

Another fun food/news item I wanted to mention was a great article that Tia's Sweet Treats received in the Summer 2010 issue of Edible Reno-Tahoe. We so appreciate the great coverage and are baking away and taking orders.

For those of you in the Reno/Tahoe vicinity or perhaps coming to this area soon, BJ's Restaurant and Brewhouse in south Reno is now serving gluten-free thin crust pizza. I have not tried this pizza yet, but I've heard through our Celiac group that another member tried it and the BJ's manager came out to discuss the details with her. BJ's does note on their menu, "With the exception of our meatballs, all of BJs Classic ingredients listed on the pizza page in our menu are gluten-free."
If any of you do try it, please write in and let me know what you think, and I'll be sure to do the same.

It's great to see that mainstream restaurants are recognizing and trying new items on their menus, but as always, our job is to make sure their staff, chefs and managers really KNOW what it means to be cooking ASK lots of questions and be your own best advocate.

If you give Siggi's Skyr a try, please let me know. Whomever submits the most tasty and creative way to eat Skyr yogurt will win a little prize that will sure to delight, and I'll post your delicious recipe here on Bowl of Soul.

Be creative and eat well~

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

The Good Race...

As you might have noticed, I haven't been keeping to my regular weekly blog posts - sorry! You see, I've been training for a half-marathon race that's taking place this Saturday in Sun Valley, Idaho and therefore, I've been a bit focused on my daily training regime in preparation for this exciting challenge!

The past two years were so grueling on my body due to numerous gluten poisonings and I lost a lot of my athletic ability and strength, which was not sitting well with me at all. Once and athlete, always an athlete in your heart and in February, continuing with the commitment of 2010 that I made to myself to be my own best advocate, to inspire myself to greater fitness and safe, healthy eating, signing up for this race and committing to a training program felt like my calling.
So I did just that - signed up, just for me.

As my weekly miles have increased, I've paid close attention to my growing hunger pangs and what I have been fueling my body with. I've noticed that my metabolism has sped up, which hasn't happened in years and after loosing so much muscle last year, I've been determined to eat more protein, try more gluten-free grains (like more Quinoa -yum!), cut back on sugar even more and limit my alcohol intake, which is never that much to start. As my body has been adjusting to the demands I've been placing on it, I wasn't sure how this would go - I mean, would I be strong enough to run 13 miles? So adding more healthy, gluten-free calories and good fats has been a priority and a fun challenge to keep feeding myself tasty, different foods that are loaded with nutrition. Kale is also still a favorite and a super-green!

I came across an interesting article today via my e-blasts that arrive each morning, re-inspiring me to run faster, father, and keep up the good fight for fitness! The article, Eat Like a Pro with a Low Gluten Diet, is out of Canyon Ranch, and written by nutritionist, Hana A. Feeney, MS, RD, CSSD. It is a rather inclusive article and even discusses Celiac Disease and gives healthy menu tips. She speaks about the 2009 Le Tour de France team and how they limited gluten in their race diet due to gluten being an inflammatory food in the racers' diet. "Removing gluten helped to promote optimal recovery from grueling climbs and muscle-burning time trials. Included on the list of inflammatory foods were items containing gluten, a protein in wheat, barley and rye."

After reading this article I was reminded once again, that eating the Celiac, non-gluten diet truly has so many nutritional benefits to a healthier overall body. It offers less food-related complications that can arise from eating foods that tend to inflame the gut, are over processed and can misguide a body.

In preparation for Saturday's big race, I've been eating a lot of Quinoa and really loving it - however, our meal of choice for the pre-race night will probably consist of some kind of delicious gluten-free pasta, grilled chicken and lots of fresh veggies...with cheese, of course!

I'm so looking forward to this great challenge and as I cross the finish line and am proudly presented with my race metal (yes, we all get one!) I will be thinking about all the other Celiacs in the world who are perhaps struggling to find a diagnosis, or just learning about the disease and feel overwhelmed. The truth is, living as a Celiac can be a huge challenge but it also comes with many little/big joys and triumphs.

Saturday's race will be one of those little/big triumphs for me and my body.

We are so looking forward to the challenge!

Be well and take care of your body ~

Monday, May 17, 2010

Gluten-free Seattle ~

I had not been to Seattle in almost two years to visit with my dear Aunt who lives there. Time flies - so when she asked me to fly up for a weekend to spend time together and talk a little PR business, I jumped for joy and on a plane headed north. Though I've never lived in Seattle (at least not yet!) I have spent many wonderful weekends there during the past 10 years with my Aunt, as she was transitioning her life to that new I've been blessed to share in her interesting and creative journey that for now, ends in the Emerald City.

I'm an ocean person, no question. I grew up in San Francisco and the Bay Area where I have spent most all of my life and I can honestly say that there's a true energy, calling, power, (insert your adjective here) that I connect with when it comes to being near an ocean. Therefore, Seattle calls to me in that moisture-filled, close to the water, artistic-creative, gluten-free kind of way that it, in it's entirety, offers to me. Did I mention the lush green foliage everywhere, as well? Sigh.....

When I'm in Seattle it's fun to observe how Celiac/gluten-free-friendly the city or area is, in general. They have always been a step ahead the Bay Area, no doubt when it comes to gluten-free knowledge and restaurant preparation...and far ahead most other cities and towns on the west coast, so it's exciting and interesting to eat out in Seattle. This last trip certainly lived up to that last statement...oh, and the views from almost any vantage point aren't bad, either!

When I'm with my Aunt the days fly by and we are always viewing beautiful art, sharing amazing conversation, sipping aromatic teas, and eating delicious's what we do when we are together. Isn't that nice. So after she picked me at the new(ish) Light Rail station at Mt. Baker, it was off to brunch at Hi-Spot Cafe in at quaint and cozy little spot in her Madrona neighborhood that offers a plate of gluten-free huevos rancheros that make your mouth water - delicious!

The next stop was dangerous...I mean it. Have you ever been to a Glassybaby shop? Enter one of their shops or web site at your own risk because I'm telling you, once you've seen these "babys" in person, watched the glass blowers in action behind the glassed garage doors and squinted your eyes in the direction of 20 illuminated Glassybaby's, all in varying shades of beauty, you are done for...just like I was. I'll take three please! And the names...they are pretty magical and well...go visit and see for yourself. They are wonderful and the story behind the warm glow is really special. So if you crave the glow of candles as I do, this is the place for you.

We also had to make our usual museum if you're a modern art fan, don't miss the Bellevue Arts Museum. There are some really amazing exhibits being shown right now...and I love their gift shop. Really great gifts and collectibles that won't break the bank. Very well done.

My taste bud's favorite part of my first day in Seattle was the much-anticipated dinner reservation at Tilth. I had heard about this restaurant for two years and was so excited to experience what it was all about...owned by Maria Hines, a James Beard Award winner for Best Chef of the Northwest, as well as one of Food & Wine Magazine’s 10 Best New Chefs of 2005.

Tilth's angle is featuring New American cuisine prepared with certified-organic or wild ingredients sourced from as many local farmers as they are able to support. Pretty great philosophy, right? Yeah, so ordering gluten-free wasn't really an issue at Tilth...wink. They rock.

Let's start with my aperitif...Dark & Stormy Goslings Rum, Fresh Lime Ginger Ale. They are like mixologists...quite the cocktail menu.

Starter plate - French Breakfast Radish Salad mache, hazelnut, red wine vinaigrette

Chilled Local Asparagus truffle dressing, chive blossom, asparagus peeling

Pan Seared Wild Alaskan Halibut artichoke barigoule, preserve lemon, fregola
Carrot Carnaroli Risotto thumbelina carrot, parmesan, stinging nettle

Seared Broccoli extra virgin olive oil, garlic, chili flake

Avocado Mousse candied ginger, cilantro syrup, lime...Amazing!

So, it's all gluten-free - hungry yet? It's a must-visit restaurant the next time you are in Seattle, or better yet, plan a weekend to Seattle just to eat at Tilth.

You would think that being hungry the next day wouldn't have been possible after a meal like that right? Think was time to get back to my Basque roots so we headed to Harvest Vine Basque Restaurant. I really like this restaurant and it was the first Sunday they started serving brunch, so lucky us.

Tortilla Espanola is my favorite food - seriously. When I'm in the Basque Country I basically exist on this one food item! Harvest Vine's version was very authentic and delicious.

Okay, we non-wheat eaters can't have these little buns, but I just had to show them to you...not fair not fair!

Last stop that Celiacs and gluten-free eaters will not want to miss is a vegan, gluten-free, wheat-free bakery I've written about a while ago, the Flying Apron. They have a new cookbook now that I noticed on display in the bakery, but really my eyes were immediately drawn to the beautifully-prepared and numerous gluten-free baked goods. It's always a little overwhelming as a Celiac, to have that many choices for dessert, considering that it's such a treat and doesn't happen that often. So I stood at the counter for what seemed like an eternity to the bakery's employee I'm sure, as I debated just what to choose!

But we can eat this! Yummy PBJ cupcake...don't let the interesting name fool you.

Eating in Seattle for Celiacs is really gratifying and reassuring. You can enjoy so many different foods, prepared by many different chefs and be safe and healthy.

If you have a favorite Seattle eatery that you want to share, please send it over. I would love to collect the names of more great restaurants to share and learn about.

Eat well ~