My sweet celiac and youngest, Izzy

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

My sister's AWESOME "Meatless Monday" go-to recipe - Black Beans and Rice

I tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped red or orange bell pepper
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup water
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp ground coriander
1/4 tsp ground red pepper
1 (15 oz) can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup hot cooked rice
1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
Heat oil in med saucepan over medium heat.  Add onion and bell pepper; cook 5 mins or until tender.  Add garlic; cook 1 min.  Add water and next 7 ingredients; bring to a boil.  Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 10 mins or until heated through.  Top rice with beans.  Sprinkle with cheese.
I usually omit the red pepper...and then sprinkle it directly on top of my dish...but it’s not overly spicy mixed in.
**I made this last week and it was so good!  I added some lime juice and cilantro to this as well and substituted the water for chicken strock because I was making grilled chicken with it. Her recipe is perfect the way it is but for a variation you can use any of my tips for a change.**

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Foodology, updates and such (includes Easter menu!)

First, I have not posted since our last trip to Little Rock and now we are leaving tomorrow to return.  The last couple of weeks were hectic - shocker I know;).  Lana's appointment at clinic went fine with some minor med changes (again) and the start of a conversation about possibly coming to Florida during the summer.  The next day we had Isabelle's dental surgery.  There are many different things that went into that but basically we found a great doctor down in Little Rock while we were waiting for Lana's heart and we decided we really wanted to keep that doctor for her surgery.  With celiac's there is a known issue with dental health since the body cannot absorb nutrients properly the teeth tend to have enamel and other issues.  Isabelle also had issues at birth that could have possibly contributed to her enamel and other dental issues....the dentist couldn't be sure but it doesn't matter now.  We went into the hospital due to the extensive amount of work needed to be done.  She had 3 baby root canals and crowns and 6 more caps put on.  Poor thing!  During her surgery she went into respiratory distress and started wheezing and had to have some intervention by the anesthesiologist...again - Poor thing!  So we got our butts in the car and headed back home after loading some more stuff from the apartment.  I know I've said this before but I have NO IDEA how we accumulated so much stuff in 3 or 4 months!  The weekend was a little rough and we were tired but things got back to normal fairly quickly. 

The last 5 days here in Arkansas went from spring to I don't know what.  Started Thursday afternoon after a nice outside lunch at Petit Bistro with friends to celebrate Lana being able to get out some to picking Noah up from preschool and needing 3 things from the grocery store and leaving the store in a HAIL storm....all I have to say is OUCH!  That started an onslaught of rain that has just now begun to stop yet there will be more tonight and tomorrow.  We had to hunt Easter eggs inside the house to have some fun on Sunday and it was such a weird was some system that just came and "parked" right over us for 5 days!  It was thunder and lightening then hail and tornados then all over again...I think we've had for than 30 inches of rain!  We live in the moutainous area so the flooding here has been mild compared to what it is in the rest of the the areas we will have to drive through tomorrow and Thursday to get to and from Little Rock. There was an entire town almost wiped out by a tornado with at least 8 deaths and possibly more.  Hopefully after this week things will get to a more "normal" weather pattern, whatever that is...less rain is preferable!

As a cook, mother and food lover we always strive to create the best, most perfect "glorious food" ever imagined.  I fell in love with food and cooking the perfect meal fairly young and watched and learned as my grandmothers both cooked their little hearts out and my mother began to expirament with recipes.  Having a celiac child or even a celiac in the family changes everything.  Suddenly your "go-to" recipes have to be reworked, your inspiration for menus has to be rethought out, there are trials and ALOT of errors!  The normal hour trip to the grocery store ends up becoming a 3 hour trip, whether you have kids with you or not, just by having to read every label and ingredient (even on the gluten free items since it's not regulated).  Making a fluffy biscuit or an decadent cupcake becomes a sort of obsession and an expirament in chemistry.  There are nights I want to throw my hands up and say lets just eat out after I've ruined something or what I have attempted to make -this beautiful, souful meal for EVERYONE to enjoy (not just my sweet 2 year old celiac) turns to utter dispair and disappointment...only to say that eating out would be worse than trying to salvage what is already there....
But don't tell me she can't eat!  There will be NO stone unturned for this child and for my family to come up with amazing recipes that everyone can enjoy even if it's gluten free.  I will arm this beautiful, curly headed child with more personality than I have in my pinky with the right tools of armor for not only what is needed in life, love and all I can give as a mother but also so she can eat!  One of my best friends, Henrietta, I have mentioned before found out she had celiacs as an adult and after so many years of living with gluten and being sick she and I ended up living in the same small town after several years apart.  Her with celiacs, Izzy with celiacs.....there are many collective thoughts I share on here that she and I have discovered together or she has researched and made and tried and then brought things to me to see if Isabelle likes.  Celiac's is not just a gender or age's real for everyone.  It affects everyone that knows someone.  And when the need to "just fit in" overtakes it can be dibilitating for them and for their families.  SO - Easter: the rain wouldn't let up which meant we couldn't have many people over due to Lana's immune system and we had to hide eggs inside so everyone had some sense of Easter normal away from family and we needed a menu. I struggled with what we would do to make things both delicious and gluten free. 

My families biggest major Easter menu tradition is lamb.  We ALWAYS have lamb for Easter.  No issue there with making that Gluten recipe already is...but sides...lordy what to do.....and here is what we did:
I had a 7 pound bone in leg of lamb from a local farm (Van Buren, AR) that I knew was antibiotic free and raised humanely.  Normally we get boneless but this time that is all we had to choose from.  I trim most of the fat, leaving some marbelization and make little pockets throughout the lamb.  I stuff each pocket, alternating with garlic and then rosemary and then rub olive oil, salt and pepper over the entire thing, place on a roasting rack and cover with foil.  Place in the oven at 375 or 400 for 1 hour and then check.  We prefer medium rare lamb so depending on the size, that could be long enough.  I baste with pan drippings and then uncover for 20 minutes or so to make a nice crust.  Then rest and sloce right before guests arrive. 
We had roasted potatoes (halve a pound of new potatoes, season with olice oil and salt/pepper and lemon zest if you'd like and you can even slice some fennel bulb too for some added yumminess), my grandmother's mustard greens for Lana ( clean the greens, take the tough stem off.  Put a hamhock or hambone in a large pot and fill with water and some salt, bring to boil and add greens, reduce heat to simmer and I simmer ours all day or two to three hours usually til tender and salty), Bobby Flay's corn salad with lime, chili powder and cojita cheese (, a Fresh Medditerranean Salad with homemade greek dressing to ensure it was Gluten free (romaine lettuce, red pepper slices, cherry tomatoes halved, hothouse cucumber slices, red onion, feta cheese and kalamata olives - dressing - red wine vinegar, dash of lemon juice, minced shallots, g-free dijon mustard and olive oil with some salt/pepper to taste).  We had a neighbor bring a Honeybaked Ham and Henrietta made the MOST AMAZING mini corn bread muffins and buttermilk bisuits (all g-free of course) and I had a veggie and fruit tray as well as making some Kale chips with a lemon dipping sauce ( take tough stems off the kale, chop into bite sized pieces and toss in olive oil and salt/pepper and bake at 350 for 7-10 min - lemon dipping sauce 1/2 C light mayo, 1/2 C light sour cream, zest and juice of one lemon and salt and pepper to taste....mix well) and then DESERT..........while on our last trip to Little Rock I got the Gluten Free Living magazine 1/2011 that had a whole section devoted to "Cupcake Craze" and in that section/article was an amazing Gluten free baker named, Krya Bussanich, who had a recipe for Creamsicle Cupcakes ( article) that turned out as the most amazing desert I have EVER made and the fact that they were Gluten free only sweetened the deal!  SO YUMMY as voted by everyone at the house!  WOOHOOO!

Will update more after our trip to Little Rock!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Traveling with a celiac can = chaos

Traveling anywhere long distaqnce and away from home with a celiac or other food allergy can be frustrating, upsetting, depressing and down right sickening.  Very few fast food places or "sit-down" restaurants you find on the road offer Gluten-free or allergy-free options and often if they do there can be cross contamination that will when you least expect it cause an illness.  There are things you'd never even think about the corn taco shells from taco bell in the grocery stores do NOT hve gluten in them yet the ones they serve in their restaurant do as well as the meat seasoning or a restaurant where you order grilled chicken or fish, they use the same grill to toast their buns.  Really?  I never even THOUGHT about most of those things in the past.  But alas, now everything is in question if I don't make it myself.  We have such a variety of dietary restrictions in the family right now...Gluten for Isabelle and heart healthy and no sugar for Lana post transplant.

SO, today is our today the whole family (minus Shelby-14- and the dogs) load up and head back to Little Rock for Lana's post-transplant check up, which is a two day event.  I've decided to try to plan the trip around meals, so we will eat lunch before getting on the road and hopefully get there before dinner.  In the meantime, I will pack a cooler of acceptable snacks and drinks to not only minimize time on the road but any allergy/dietary issues.  I try to always keep at least one loaf of G-free bread in the freezer for quick pack sandwiches, lots of fruits and veggies, G-free chips and hummus or salsa...I even have g-free silver dollar pancakes in the freezer I can pack for a quick, easy breakfast my husband can throw in the microwave for the babies while I'm at the appointment with Lana.  Having some children with dietary/food allergies is truly a family affair.  Although they are the ones that have to eat it for the reasons I've already discussed and I'm the one that does most of the cooking, planning, shopping, food label reading and now blogging/writing about it, it still has to be family tested AND approved by EVERYONE!  I cannot tell you how many times I would try a new g-free or sugar free recipe and it didn't work.  Dang, I am as close to a self taught gourmet chef as they come and use to have my own catering business before the babies for God's sake!  Why the heck can't I figure this out I'd say....but I have read so many amazing books and magazines with tips that I am slowly becoming an expert in natural and allergy-friendly cooking as well.  It takes patience by ALL in the family for sure!

For those who wanted the recipe I made last night and didn't see it on my FB page, here it is:
Grilled Lemon Chicken and easy Lemon, Zucchini rice -
 Ok, I had a bunch of people want this super easy dinner idea.  And for those of you with allergies/dietary restrictions - all is able to be substituted and I'll list some substitutes in the end.

Grilled Chicken is super easy - Most marinade have preservatives and gluten in them so I make my could either use your favorite citrus salad dressing or whip this one up:
4 skinless boneless chicken breast
1/4 c lemon juice
1/4 c olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
chopped rosemary (goes well with lemon and stands up to the heat of the grill better than most other herbs)
* sometimes I will add some Adobo seasoning or a pack of the Good Seasons Italian dressing mix just check for allergens
combine all ingredients and let sit about 10 minutes while you clean and start the grill then throw them on....or better yet - put your man or partner on this job while you work on the rice...just be sure to get them a beverage first!:)
(In the winter when we can't grill outside I pan sear it and pop it in the oven)

Lemon Rice Basic Recipe
2TBSP Butter
1 TBL Olive Oil
1 Small onion
1 C long grain rice
1 3/4 C chicken broth (low sodium/organic)
1/4 C lemon juice
1 1/2 tsp lemon zest
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
Preheat oven to 350 and grease a casserole dish.  Melt butter and heat oil in saute pan, add onion and saute gently until transparent,add rice and coat in butter/oil/onion then add remaining ingredients and bring to boil.  Remove from heat and pour into casserole dish, cover with foil and bake for about 25 minutes until the liquid is absorb and rice is tender.

*substitutions and additions: I rarely use butter unless necessary and of course if you have a dairy allergy you can use all olive oil or butter substitute but the butter does add a richness to this dish.  You can exchange the chicken broth for any broth you like (ie. vegetable broth for vegetarian). I also like to use 1/2C jasmine rice and 1/2 C long grain rice.

For the Zucchini Version I chop the zucchini the same size as the onion pieces (tip: if you use an onion chopper then chop the zucchini with the same chopper and it takes half the time!) after the onion has had a few minutes to saute first, then add zucchini and saute with the onion and follow the rest of the directions above.  You could really put any of your favorite vegetables that go good with lemon in there (artichoke, yellow squash, spinach.....possibilities are endless but I would avoid the harder vegetables that take longer to cook).  You could also drain and add a can of diced tomatoes or for added zing a can of Rotel tomatoes and chilis but I would drain the can unless you want to replace some of the broth with the juice from the can but most canned vegetables have alot of salt in the liquid they are in so I prefer to control my salt and drain them. 

Monday, April 11, 2011

New twist

Want a new twist on an old classic?  Try replacing Rice Crispy Cereal in Rice Crispy Treats with the also Gluten Free Fruity Pebbles Cereal!  It was SO yummy and a great new twist!  You could really taste the Fruity Pebbles and the kids LOVED the colors and flavor!

The recipe is the exact same!  Melt half a stick of butter in either the microwave or on the stovetop, add one bag (12 oz) mini marshmellows (microwave version requires you to coat with the butter and re-microwave to melt the marshmellows completely) stir until marshmellows have melted and are gooey and add the cereal.  Lay them out on a greased pan (little tip I learned is also grease the silicon spoon while spreading and also the knife when cutting into bars!)

I've also used the EnviroKids Organic and Gluten Free Koala Crisp which is chocolatey...YUM! And for added flare, melt a little extra marshmellow and drizle on top.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

The two headed monster...

Yesterday......isn't there a song that starts off like that? OH WAIT....Isabelle has been running around the house singing "Tomorrow" from Annie for the last two months.:)  Well yesterday started with a bang.  One of those teen moments started my day off when my 14 yr old, Shelby, decided it was my fault she couldn't find her ipod touch that she had ever so cleverly left on the desk in the kitchen and now wasn't there and then got another attitude in the car on the way to school.  She went off to school with me yelling at her, which I try to never do first thing in the morning as it makes everyone start their day badly and in a bad mood for sure - but there it was....I did it.  Left the Jr. High to head over to interview and tour a preschool....yes, this is the hilarious part of my life....I have one daughter in high school, one in Jr. high, one in a mother's day out program and one in Gymboree mommy and me....HAHAHA, how did I get here?:)  Anyway, I was interviewing a preschool for my son, who is 3.  I loved what they said, the curriculum but something wasn't right.  I couldn't put my finger on it...the lady touring me around the school seemed "creepy"?  Then I inquired if they had a 2 day a week program for Isabelle or something equivalent to the mother's day out program Noah is in.....oh yes, of course they do...great price, great school, great environment....I could go on for days....then I say, she has celiac's disease.  You could almost hear the brakes screeching inside her head, her face contorded into some weird slanted shape and she looked at me as if I was a two-headed monster.  Celia-what?  It's a gluten allergy and I'm happy to provide snacks for her but it's a pretty big deal...alot like a peanut allergy.  "Well we can't guarantee she won't come in contact with wheat while she is here".

I heard the words spiraling in my head of other articles I had read and mother's complaints about starting preschool/school, even playdates with their celiac child but I kept thinking - that would never happen here.  Why not?  Bentonville is like any other town in America.  Well, actually it's not.  We have only Walmart grocery stores and a couple of mom and pop places and one Natural Food store that I rely on for G-Free foods for her.  I have even found that I can order alot of her specialty food products online.  Still, I thought, she isn't a special needs child.  She has a FOOD allergy.  I left the preschool disheartened.  I know it's not a big deal for her to go to preschool, I guess I was having the "Big Picture" thought.  Is THIS really how it's going to be from here on out?  Will I always end up fighting for her right to be in a regular school environment because of a food allergy?  What's a momma to do?

Have a meltdown:).....Quite honestly I spent the rest of the day calling other preschools and checking out other programs only to get the same response....SO, I did what every other normal mother does when she thinks her child is getting the short end of the stick - meltdown.  Then, I picked myself up and dusted myself off and did the next thing mother's do on a stressful weeknight that they just can't bare to be in the kitchen - order take out.  Not even thinking, I ordered PIZZA....really? Are the days of just ordering an easy, quick take out meal over? 

Doorbell rings, kids all run to the door, pizza man hands the pizzas to my 15 yr old, Lana, and Izzy turns around and said "OH Pizza! Wana (ie. Lana) is it Gwuten fwee (gluten free)?  Insert sigh and pouty lip from Izzy and momma.  "Hang on Izzy, I'll make you a tostada".  And, I cook anyway..LOL. Just sorta how the whole day went.  Nothing major, I mean - who the heck cares if she gets into preschool for God's sake - she'll live!  I think it was a big part, just having made it home from a 3 month stay in Little Rock and dealing with Lana's heart transplant, being locked up in a 2 bedroom apartment and then less than a week of getting back into the normal routine and life.  I was in sensory overload.  Overwhelmed with the day to day and what the future holds. 

For those of you that saw, witnessed or heard the meltdown...I am sooooo sorry:)

I am so happy to report that today was a MUCH better day.  I woke up to my sister sending another blog that had a great link I like to go to for advice and recipes called The Gluten Free Girl and The Chef.  Treated myself to a much needed mani/pedi and catching up with a friend and tonight's menu???

Self created: Pork or Turkey Tenderloin Stir-fry with G-Free Brownies for dessert
Recipe is as follows:
2 TBSP grape seed oil
1 pork or turkey tenderloin (no marrinades or breading unless you've checked the label), sliced into stir-fry sized strips
1 bag favorite frozen stir-fry vegetables
1/2 to 1 C gluten free stir-fry sauce (I prefer the San-J G free sauces)
Optional side - mix of Jasmine and long grain rice or (out favorite) stir-fry rice noodles

1st step - Pour momma a beverage (ie. wine/beer/whatever your poison) then begin the rest:
Salt and Pepper the meat and put grape seed oil (or other high heat oil) in the bottom of the WOK and heat on medium heat, add meat to oil and brown slightly.  Boil water for rice noodles or follow directions for rice.  Add frozen vegetables and turn heat down to medium and cover.  Once vegetables and meat are cooked through (about 5 min) add the rice or rice noodles to the WOK so as in italian dishes it will have time to arbsorb some of the stir-fry sauce. 

While things are browning in the WOK, take a package of Pamela's G-free brownies and follow directions for the butter recipe unless you are also dairy intolerant.

ALL this took 18 minutes to make!  Seriously?  Couldn't have ordered and got the pizza that fast!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

mommy4livingwithout: Introduction

mommy4livingwithout: Introduction: "Well, this is the first mommy4livingwithout blog so I'll update on who I am and why I'm blogging. I am a 36 year old mom of 4&nbs..."


Well, this is the first mommy4livingwithout blog so I'll update on who I am and why I'm blogging.  I am a 36 year old mom of 4 from Jacksonville, FL that after 34 years of living in Florida moved to Northwest Arkansas.  I traded the beach for mountains and this will be our second year here.  I have a 15 year old daughter who underwent a heart transplant on January 25th, 2011, a 14 year old daughter who is a competitive gymnast, a 3 year old boy we adopted through the state of FL who is Haitian, and lastly our 2 year old daughter who we also adopted through the state of Florida who was born positive for cocaine and has been diagnosed with celiac's disease. 

This is our journey, it's complicated and hilarious at times and there are days I am wondering how the heck I make it through the day.  But there is mothering advice, food allergy advice, natural parenting and bonding advice, adoption and just culinary journies that equal some amazing thing from organ donation and recipiants to dealing with how to get your child into preschool with celiac's disease when everyone looks at you like a two headed monster....

In a nutshell this is MY life...