My sweet celiac and youngest, Izzy

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Back to school

Going back to school is often exactly what mothers are looking forward to at the end of a busy summer and kids are dreading.  For some parents though, it is a scary and hectic time of year.  New teacher, new issues, new explaining  and hoping that your child's teacher can take care of them the way you would if they have a physical disability, health concern or food allergy. Yesterday I sent my two high schoolers off to the beginning of their junior and sophmore first days and was able to attend and meet most of their teachers. I flashed back to their first days of preschool and all of the subsequent years after when I had to go in and speak to Lana's teacher about her heart defect and go into detail about every little thing she could, or could not do.  I actually had a letter on my computer that I updated and printed off each year for them and the PE coach to keep in the classroom.  Well, this was the first year I did not have to explain anything about her or her heart condition.  Last year I was still going around and explaining that she had just had a heart transplant and would be absent quite a bit and so forth. This year, she has a parking spot and a car and a full class load preparing her for college.  WOW!

This year it also starts all over for me, Isabelle starts big girl preschool.  No more, Mother's Day Out where her teacher was a celiac and understood everything.  This year we go three days a week in a new school, with new teachers.  Preparing mentally is half the battle.  What I have learned through dealing with teachers the last 15 years is that, they err on the side of caution.  It is rare to not get a teacher that will stop and call you before they give your child something.  Gluten is a tricky one because although it is gaining in awareness, it's still misunderstood.  People do not understand all the things that contain gluten nor do they understand the impact of celiac's disease.  Most people are not anaphylactic but it doesn't mean it isn't serious.  SO, #1 prepare yourself mentally (meet the teacher, talk with the school and know you've done all you can and feel confident that you've taught them and YOUR CHILD well) , #2 talk to the teacher about the allergy in detail/educate her on the disease or allergy, what it means, write a letter if necessary with a list of things that have hidden gluten in it and #3 be prepared.  I've ordered Gfree animal cookies and graham crackers, cereals, crackers, anything that they might be serving for snacktime and I will bring that into the classroom the first day for the teacher to keep on hand.  I also will ask for a list of the birthdays in the classroom and stock the freezer with cupcakes so when there is a birthday celebration in the classroom, I will defrost the cupcake and decorate and bring it to class so that Isabelle can celebrate along with her classmates.  At this stage I still pack her lunch so that is all in my control.  I've also bought moon dough and gfree glue so that she can participate safely with crafts without becoming sick.  I've researched and bought gfree hand sanitzer for the classroom.  Yes there is an expense that goes along with being prepared but to keep her safe and help with the learning process it is well worth it for our family.

These are just some ideas to help you through the start of the school year.  I hope this helps with the little ones. 

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Read The Fine Print...

One thing many mom's of children with food allergies and people WITH food allergies learn to do very well and very quickly is read food labels.  But do you really know what you are reading?  For instance, did you know that things that read Autolyzed Yeast Extract and Modified Food Starch can both contain traces of wheat?  Yep they sure can....and there is nothing other than research or knowledge, or flat out a bad experience that would let you know that just by reading the label

Also, with the Gluten Free diet becoming a "trend setter" in the news and on more labels, it's getting more attention.  This is usually a good thing to raise awareness of things people don't even think about normally.  I mean, eveyone knows what having a peanut allergy if like these days and it can be a very good thing to raise awareness for all these life threatening allergies our children and other adults have but Gluten seems to be a puzzling thing.  People look at you as if they have no idea what you are talking about.  Oh, you mean seasoning can have Gluten in it?  Pudding, Candy, Chocolate, and so on.....No it's not just your everyday bread, crackers and pasta so the new awareness is a positive for the most part.  BUT there are also dangers to this new awareness.  For instance, many of the new pizza places like Dominos and Maggio's are advertising a Gluten Free Pizza Crust.  Great, that's awesome.  Glad to have another product in the community like this that naturally raises awareness but have you ever read the fine print on their commericals or adds?  They make their Gfree crust in the same kitchen as the other regular glutenous crust and put it in the same oven and on the same pans.  So their fine print states that if you have an allergy, verses living a gfree lifestyle/diet, you should NOT eat their gfree pizza.  To me, it means it truly isn't Gfree and doesn't help our lifestyle at all because Isabelle can get sick from standing in a facility that has flour in the air, much less something that has touched a pan that has had regular pizza crust on it.  So please, for those with celiac's or the more severe form of Gluten intolerance, stay away.

And whatever you do, READ THE FINE PRINT. 

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Smart Flour Foods and a yummy, healthy chicken salad recipe

Ok, I have one heck of a chicken salad recipe for you guys that is healthy and omits mayo altogether!  What's that you say?  How can you have chicken salad without mayo?  Listen here my friends:)...

I have been quite obsessed with Pinterest and I've seen alot of pins that have been subbing avocado puree for mayo.  Even though we LOVE avocado and I can see the similarity in the textures I was still unsure of this.  Well no longer my friend!  I had 3/4 of a leftover rotisserrie chicken from a recipe I made earlier in the week and I shredded all the meat into a bowl, added 1/2 C of celery and if you like raw onion, 1/2 cup sweet onion both diced or for a little twist you could add 2 minced shallots.  In my food processor I put two HAAS avocados, seed and skin removed, 1 TBSP organic sour cream and a pinch of salt, garlic powder and cumin.  Combine in the food processor and stir into the chicken, celery and onion if using.  It was FANTASTIC!  I added some halved grape tomatoes and put it in a lettuce cup and had it like a lettuce wrap but you could also stuff it inside a gfree pita half or a Gfree tortilla with some arugula and cheese. 

Happy eating!

Now for some Gfree talk about a new company, ok well it's not new but it's new to me and this is ONE HAPPY MOMMA.  I found them by accident when I followed a gfree recipe link that ended me on their website and the opening line reads, " Many gluten free products lack essential vitamins & minerals. Smart Flour™ is a unique gluten free flour blend of ancient grains created by Smart Flour Foods." OK, you definately have my attention.  The whole website was filled with great information on their products and ancient grains.  They have products from their flour blends for bread, pizza, all purpose baking  to actual cookie dough and brownies, premade pizza crusts and so on.  The price of the products themselves were very reasonable, the shipping however was almost a deal breaker.  BUT, they offer if you have a $100 in products the shipping is THAT'S what I'm talking about.  It didn't take me long to rack up a $100 in products to try! I ordered a sampler pack as well as some other things and let me tell you, we love it ALL.  Everything we've tried, all I have made with their flour, it is amazingly good.  So here's a small plug for a wonderful Gfree company!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Garden...Sustainable Living

This year we have tried our hand at gardening.  We've always had herbs in pots but this year we decided to go all out and teach the kids about what healthy organic food is all about.  We live a healthy food lifestyle but growing it ourselves???? I thought no way can I keep anything else alive other than the kids and the dogs;). my surprise, we have had an entire garden all summer, including surviving in the worst heat we've ever seen.  This year we have grown  tomatoes, corn, summer squash, spaghetti squash, mint, sage, rosemary, basil, and now pumpkins and watermelon.  When we started it, it was an easy thought to run out and grab something to deal with aphids on the tomatoes.....I insisted that if we were doing this, doing this and teaching our children that we would use NOTHING that was not safe and healthy for the kids.  So I researched what the best way to treat Aphids naturally was....lets see: there are lady bugs, there is a couple of drops of dawn dish detergent in some water sprayed onto the aphids a few times and there is the 3 TBSP of minced garlic soaked in olive oil for 3 days and added to the same dawn water you have leftover. 

This is just the beginning of our amazing adventure in gardening:).  Stay tuned but how cool is it that we have a pumpkin patch in our back yard?????:)

Vacation, vacation, vacation....

Traveling is one of the most difficult things to do when you or your child has food allergies.  As a mom, I constantly plan and worry that the trip will go well and without incident.  Sometimes planning the route of travel, if we are driving, by where we can safely stop to eat.  Honestly, nothing makes me happier than hitting the Florida border and seeing that first Publix sign on the way back to our hometown.  I know the grocery stores there but Publix is by far the best for organic, gluten free and peanut fee items in a normal, regular grocery store.  You guys have to remember where I'm living and that our only grocery store is Walmart.  The first week of our trip we stayed in a condo on the beach with a full kitchen.  When we travel for lengthy times I like to have a full kitchen so that I know for sure I can feed my child if there are no other options for her there.  In big cities we have been lucky but so often in other places there is the risk of cross contamination and she has gotten sick due to this.  For other people who actually have celiacs, sometimes it's easier for them to "cheat" and eat the occasional gluten when traveling but for me, my children are my life and to think that I would give something to her that is not only unsafe for her but to know that it will make her sick, it's like a knife in my heart.  I would do anything to keep any of my children safe and healthy and we have had our fair share of health issues in our family over the last 16 years, some in my control and some not.  This is why it is so important for me to share the things we've learned, because I know how hard it is. 

So, in Jacksonville, I relied almost entirely on Publix and a few good restaurants during our stay.  I did bring two loaves of homemade bread sliced from home and some of her favorite snacks so we didn't have to search multiple stores for a few things.  We were hit with a tropical storm at the start of our trip and some time we needed to kill that we couldn't be at the beach or pool.  We ended up finding a really great restaurant in the Town Center area called BJ's Restaurant & Brewhouse.  I am shocked as I was very unsure about this place initially but they had an entire gluten free menu. It ended up being fabulous.  There was also Mellow Mushroom Pizza and Taco Lu's that offer Gluten free options.  The best part of the trip though was our second week.  We spent the second week at Disney.  We had researched and called and still had no clue what we were in for.  Disney does everything right, why I lost sight of that, I just don't know.  We had an amazing condo on Disney property with a kitchen yet I barely cooked that week at all, I think breakfast was the only thing I ended up making yet it wasn't necessary, just worked out with timing.  Literally, Isabelle could eat at any restaurant on the property or any restaurant at any of the parks comepletely safe.  The deal with Disney is you tell either your waiter or waitress you have a food allergy and the chef comes out of the kitchen and talks to you.  He gets an understanding of the allergy/ies, offers you options for the specific allergies and then goes to a seperate part of the kitchen, prepares the meal and hand delivers it back to the table.  EVERY. SINGLE. TIME.  It was the most amazing and fantastic part of our vacation and I was finally able to relax a little and enjoy the entire Disney experience.  It was pretty funny, Lana and Shelby said we should come back and live there after they head off to college so that Izzy could eat whatever she wanted. HAHAHAHA.  Isabelle was offered so many amazing options, I didn't even care about nutrition for a week, they had options for her that she NEVER gets unless I figure out a way to make it homemade or find a product I can trust that tastes good.  It was truly an amazing experience for everyone in the family.

free Food Allergy Webinar for Back to School

Food Allergies in School: What Parents Need to Know

Register for our Education webinar!
Many parents don't know where to start when they need to send their children off to school with food allergies. Attend this free webinar and you will learn the following from Michael Pistiner, MD, MMSc, pediatric allergist, parent of a child with food allergies, food allergy educator and chair of our Medical Advisory Team:
  1. Facts regarding food allergy and safety in the school setting
  2. Universal food allergy management strategies (preventing accidental exposures and preparing for allergy emergencies)
  3. Applying food allergy management strategies to the school setting
  4. Partnering with your school community

RSVP: Reserve your seat by registering
WHEN: Tuesday, July 31, 2012
TIME: 2-3pm Eastern (11am-12pm Pacific)
WHERE: Your computer or iOS device

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Things that I've been working on lately....

First and foremost, the last month has been crazy busy!  A girls trip with my baby sister to Chicago to scout places to live when she moves there in the fall plus a little fun.  We had an amazing food adventure while we were there and in turn I truly fell in love with that city.  It's like NYC with a midwest flare. being on Lake Michigan was cool, and nice this time of year but I can only imagine what winter will bring.  The seafood was spectacular everywhere we went though.  I got back and right after Memorial Day and my other sister, Justine arrived with her two beautiful kiddos for about a week and a half in between Maryland and her move to Oklahoma City.  We did some crafts with the kids, made homemade magic shell chocolate sauce for ice cream, made homemade blueberry sauce for pancakes/waffles/ice cream, made a sugar scrub for the shower and possible gifts later, and the supplies for some Father's Day presents and some other crafts.  Lots of swimming and eating and fun and then they left and have closed on their house.  We are headed out that way this week for a few days to help unpack!  Cannot wait! 

So Saturday was Isabelle's very first ballet recital and we had to get up very early for her dres rehearsal.  Once we finished with that, we headed for the Farmer's Market.  A meltdown from Noah and Dad later, Izzy and I were strolling with our fresh zucchini and peaches we had bought when my eye caught something that made me stop dead in my tracks.  The prize and coveted and never found in this little small town of mine....squash blossoms.  A WHOLE HUGE bag of them for $3!!!!!!!!!! I knew we were having friends over for dinner and that got my mind twirling with possibilities.  After Izzy's draining but adorable recital (any recital mom's out there know, you hurry up and wait, then wait in a crowded room with a bunch of 4 year olds, then finally in 2 minutes all the waiting is over and you tear up with how proud you are!) we rushed home to marinate the chicken and zucchini and prep the squash blossoms.  I made homemade GF tempura batter and put it in the fridge to rest for an hour and then stuffed the blossoms with a delicious herbed goat cheese mixture and set in the fridge for 30 minutes while out friends arrived, we chatted and caught up and let the kids play in the back yard.  I came back in while Jason was grilling the corn, zucchini and chicken (so this was my esaiest meal to prepare and cook EVER!:)) and took out the gorgeous blossoms, dipped in the tempura batter and added to the golden peanut oil and watched with baited breath.  To my surprise, they fried up beautifully and tasted absolutely AMAZING!

Tonight, I took the last of the zucchini and cut into 1/4 inch slices, tossed in olive oil and then with homemade italian gf bread crumbs and parmesan cheese I topped each zucchini round, popped in a preheadted 400 degree oven and watch them crisp up and taste like fried zucchini with half the fat. I took the remainder of the corn from our garden and took it off the cob and made creamed corn and then we had leftover grilled chicken from last night.  All the good recipes start NOW:

Magic shell:

1 1/4 C semi sweet chocolate chips (for GF, DF and Nut free I use the Enjoy Life semi sweet chips, you can also use Hershey's for just GF)
1/2 C solid coconut oil (it's like Crisco)

melt for 1 minute in microwave or stove top and let rest, stir until the oil melts the chips and then store in mason jar in refrigerator.  When time to serve, warm in microwave 1-2 minutes swirling in between until the solid melts and top on ice cream of choice.

Blueberry sauce:

4 1/2 C fresh blueberries, pulsed in food processor
2 TBSP lemon juice
7 C sugar for regular syrup recipe ( you can use juice with sugar free fruit pectin for lower sugar content)
2 pouches of fruit pectin

make as if you were doing a cooked jam recipe: add fruit to saucepot, stir lemon juice. Stir in sugar or juice into fruit, add 1/2 Tsp butter for no foam and bring mixture to a rolling boil. Quickly stir in pectin, and return to full rolling boil for 1 minute stirring constantly. Remove from heat.  You can either can the blueberry jam at this point or pour into mason jar and add to fridge.  I canned ours and it did not set completely so we used as syrup.  Once opened, we refrigerated it and then it set but when we wanted the syrup/sauce, we took some, added to microwave bowl and warmed for a minute or so until liquidy and syrup texture.

Sugar scrub:

Its 2 to 1 ratio of sugar to coconut oil with 4 or so drops of essential oil.  So depending on if you are making a large batch for gift giving or a small batch for home would depend on your measurements but we did 1 C cane sugar; 1/4 C coconut oil and 4 drops or til fragrance desired is reached of essential oil (we used lemon verbanum since it's summer but you can use lavender or at chirstmas use candy cane or gingerbread or vanilla with brown sugar instead of cane.)  Mix all ingredients in a bowl with hands until desired consistancy and store in mason jar or decorative container with cute fabric top if gift giving and little tag or hand written note.

Zucchini Blossoms: (adapted recipe from Wolfgang Puck:

Tempura Batter:

  • 1/4 cup super fine white rice flour
  • 2 cups GF all purpose flour of choice ( I used the GF Jeanne’s Gluten-Free All-Purpose Flour Mix (mix together and store in a cool, dark place, or in fridge for long-term storage). 1 C of this mix equals 140g. Use this mix cup-for-cup or gram-for-gram in all of your recipes:
    1 1/4 C (170 g) brown rice flour
    1 1/4 C (205 g) white rice flour
    1 C (120 g) tapioca flour
    1 C (165 g) sweet rice flour (also known as glutinous rice flour or under the brand name, Mochiko)
    2 scant tsp. xanthan gum

  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 cup cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 3 cups soda water

Goat Cheese Filling:

I had a huge bag of squash blossoms (20-25) and I used a 16 ounce log of already herbed goat cheese, softened and added the olive oil for some time savings as well as money savings and it was FABULOUS!
  • 1 (8-ounce) log mild goat cheese, softened
  • 5 sprigs thyme, leaves removed and chopped
  • 2 tablespoons chopped chervil
  • 2 tablespoons chopped chives
  • 1 teaspoon chopped rosemary leaves
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 16 squash blossoms
Tempura Batter:
Sift together all of the dry ingredients. Whisk in the soda water, a little at a time (about a cup at a time), until the right consistency is achieved. The batter should coat the back of a spoon, but some excess batter should run off the spoon. Allow to rest in the refrigerator at least 1 hour before use.
Goat Cheese Filling:
Combine all of the ingredients and mix well. or if using already herbed goat cheese that's softened, add olive oil and mix together.  For easy filling put into a ziploc or piping bag and cut tip, add about I TBSP each blossom into base of blossom. Cover with the petals and pinch the top to seal. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Preheat a fryer or a deep pot halfway filled with peanut oil to 375 degrees F.
Hold the squash blossoms by the stem. Dip each into the tempura batter, making sure to coat completely. Let any excess batter drip off. Place the blossom in the oil and fry until golden brown, about 1 to 2 minutes, turning often to brown evenly. Remove to a paper towel lined plate.

Zucchini Crisps: (adapted from Elie Kreiger's recipe)

  • 1 lb. zucchini or squash (about 2 medium-sized)
  • 1/4 cup shredded parmesan (heaping)
  • 1/4 cup Glutino parmesan and garlic bagel chips, ground in food processor
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line two baking sheets with foil and spray lightly with vegetable spray.
    Slice zucchini or squash into 1/4 inch-thick rounds. Toss rounds with oil, coating well.
    In a wide bowl or plate, combine breadcrumbs, parmesan, salt and pepper.
    Place rounds in parmesan-breadcrumb mixture, coating both sides of each round, pressing to adhere. The mixture will not completely cover each round, but provides a light coating on each side.
    Place rounds in a single layer on baking sheets. Sprinkle any remaining breadcrumb mixture over the rounds.
    Bake for about 22 to 27 minutes, until golden brown.

    Friday, May 18, 2012

    My crazy, crazy life....

    It has felt like a century since I last posted!  I cannot believe how quickly this entire year is flying by and how grown all my sweet angels are getting. Life has truly been so hectic since our mild winter entered into an early spring and an earlier summer here in NWA.  We have been back and forth sick, visited Tulsa and Oklahoma City and I'm now prepping to meet my baby sister (26) in Chicago for my first ever girls trip and house hunting trip for her (she was recently accepted for her PhD at NorthWestern).  As soon as I'm back, the house is being painted; my sweet sister, Justine and family are coming for their amazing move to a MUCH closer place (OKC). Then they close on their house, followed by me and 3 kids heading to help the transition/move and Jason and Shelby heading to Kansas City the same week for Gymnastics camp. All this fun and excitement brings me much joy and happiness for I know that I will completely miss this in a few years once my beautiful older girls head off for college ( 2 and 3 years away) and then as my sweet babies (not babies anymore at 3 and 4) grow into the amazing children, teens and adults I know they will.  BUT with all that said, I have totally neglected this blog and it's purpose.  I have talked with many people on FB and via email who have had questions and need help and then....there was Pinterest....OH MY GOODNESS!  What a fabulous site with amazing recipes that people pull together.  Some work fantasically, some are ok but I have been able to convert so many new recipes to GF as well as DF and ALWAYS PF it has just been amazing.  I have a treasure trove of recipes to share and some new things to talk about as well: like"What's a safe suncreen to use;? How do you know sunscreen, lotions, make up, self tanners, vitamins and other things are safe?; What is Ataxia? ; Celiacs and Diabetes AND How to entertain GF , as well as how to organize your "month at a glance" menu planning like the pros yet GF."  So, trust that I have not abandoned you....just taken some well needed time off for some super important times in my life with family and kids. 

    Yesterday was the last day of preschool for the regular school year and today is the last day for both teens.  I am super excited about sharing some great summer recipes and safe tips for traveling.  If you guys need any help reorganizing a pantry, starting the GF diet or converting recipes, shoot me an email or comment on my post. I will be updating some things on my blog and some new pics and sharing in the coming weeks but will always answer questions or things you'd like to hear about, so drop me a line anytime!

    Friday, February 3, 2012

    Chicken Pad Thai

    Ok, it's been a while since I posted last.  Since the last time we went to Little Rock for Lana's biopsy, celebrated her amazing 1 year heart day of her transplant, and I somehow hurt my shoulder and have been a little out of commision lately.  BUT, you know I haven't stopped cooking AND I am happy to say that I have some great recipes to share over the next few days.  So Sunday, I sat down and organized myself, menu planned and made my shopping list and while everyone was napping I headed to the store and got everything I needed to feed us for an entire week to try and cut down on my stopping and ending up with unnecessary things!  IT worked!  I didn't make but that one trip to the store this week and my stress level was so much better.  You know how I am always telling you to plan ahead and it will prevent slipping up and eating something that will make you sick.  SO, this weeks menu was Spaghetti and meatballs; Tilapia pouches with broccoli and zucchini with rice, Pasta with white beans and broccoli pesto, Shepards Pie, Chicken and vegetable Pad Thai, and chicken tortilla soup.  As always all of this is GF and almost always DF and definately Peanut free (yes that means even the Pad Thai).  So this post I will highlight the Pad Thai as well as the pasta with white beans and broccoli pesto at the request of several friends of FB.

    Chicken and Vegetable Pad Thai or Tofu and Vegetable Pad Thai:
    (Thai Kitchen makes a whole kit even that has the Thai sauce GF together with the noodles for an even faster version BUT, we eat very few processed foods where I can control the salt/sauce so I made mine from scratch)

    8 oz dried wide flat rice noodles (the Thai ones can be found a natural food stores or Whole Foods (most of you know we don't have WF here and re really challenged to find some things that are GF here but our natural store did have them in the GF soy area.  LOVE LOVE LOVE these noodles for any type of stir fry or lo mein and they make the super thing ones as well)

    1/4 C fresh lime juice plus lime wedges for serving
    3 TBSP GF Tamari soy sauce
    1 TBSP GF chili sauce (like sriracha)
    1 TBSP packed brown sugar
    2 TBSP Vegetable oil (I only use olive oil but you can use your choice)
    2 large eggs, lightly beaten
    1 pkg firm tofu (drained, thinkly sliced and patted dry) OR 4 oz cubed cooked chicken breast
    2 medium carrots, peeled and shredded (for a quicker version I buy the organic already shredded carrots)
    8 scallions, white and green parts thinkly sliced ( 1 tso green part reserved)
    kosher salt
    2 TBSP roasted salted and chopped cashews (or peanuts if you are not allergic)
    1/4 C cilantro leaves chopped roughly

    Boil 4 C water in a saucepan, remove from heat and soak noodles for 4-8 minutes until tender but aldente (still firm to the bite).  Meanwhile, in a small bowl wisk together lime juice, soy sauce, chili sauce and brown sugar and set aside. 

    In a large skillet or wok heat 1/2 tsp oil over medium high heat tilting to coat pan.  Add eggs and swir in a crepe type fashion to coat bottom of pan and cok until just set.  Remove to cutting board, loosely roll up and cut into thin strips.  Add 4 tsp of oilto skillet or wok and add tofu in single layer or if using uncooked chicken cubes salt and pepper well and add to pan.  Cook tofu until brown on each side (abt 7 minutes) or on medium high heat brown chicken until cooked through and sprinkle with a little lime juice and transfer to a bowl.  Add 1 1/2 tsp of oil to skillet/wok and add carrots, garlic and scallionsand cook until soft (about 5 min) and add lime juice mixture, bring to simmer and add noodles, stirring to combine.  Add egg, chicken/tofu and toss one last time.  Season with salt to taste. Garnish with cilatro, lime wedges and a tsp of the green part of the scallions.

    Pasta with white beans and broccoli pesto:

    I personally LOVE the Quinoa Fusili or rotelle pasta for this dish but the Schar penne is also good.  Use the GF pasta that you like best.

    1 head Broccoli, cut into 1 inch peices
    10 oz GF pasta of choice, preferrable short like fusili or penne
    5 tsp olive oil
    kosher salt and pepper
    1/2 ouce Parmesan (this is not DF, Diya makes a shredded version but some people who are DF can tollerate parm in small amounts but this portion is even optional altogether), finely grated plus more for serving
    1 tsp grated lemon zest, 1 TBSP lemon juice
    1/2 c chopped parsely (Italian flat leaf)
    1 clove garlic
    1 can cannelini beans (BPA free can) rinsed and drained

    In a large pot of boiling, salted water, cook broccoli just until tender and bright green (about 4 min) and remove with slotted spoon.  Transfer to food processor and return water to boil, add pasta.  Reserve 2 C pasta water and drain pasta when it's aldente.  Add oil, parmesan (if using), zest, lemon juice, parsley and garlic and puree until smooth.  Transfer pesto to pot with pasta adn stir to coat, adding enough reserved pasta water to make a creamy sauce.  Stir in cannelini beans and heat until warmed through.  season with salt and pepper and sprinkle with more parm if desired.

    Both of these recipes are great, kid approved and take 20-25 minutes to make! 

    Friday, January 6, 2012

    First week of the New Year menu, Epiphany and one year ago....

    This week of the new year has been one of alot of reflection.  1/4/11 I packed up my car with 3 of my 4 kids and all the supplies we would need for a few weeks and drove to Little Rock (3 hours away) and admitted my oldest daughter into the cardiac ICU unit at Arkansas Children's Hospital to awat a heart transplant.  We had no idea how long the wait would be, she was hooked up to a medication to preserve what was left of her heart function, and we had no idea the outcome.  Luckily God brought us back from what can only be described as close to hell as it comes and on 1/25/11 she received a new heart.  This week has been an emotional journey for us as will the next few weeks will be.  The good news is, we are not there anymore, and we can focus on more amazing things going on in our family.  THANKS BE TO GOD!
    Today as I right this, it is the Epiphany. The day the wise men reached the birthplace of Jesus and brought him amazing gifts.  Some countries call it the celebrations of lights given that the north star is what led them to the littel child in the manger. Most people do not take their Christmas trees down until after the Epiphany but alas, I had to.  Everyone was having allergy attacks and asthma type symptoms and the clutter almost drove me batty so away it went...Oh well, at least I waited til after the new year:). 
    As I prepared my menu for the week, I tried to focus on healthy eating since most people do that in the new year.  We typically eat as "clean" and healthy all year round with a few exceptions but I really wanted some new material as it's been more like spring here than January.  With no snow and temps in the 60's it's almost a Florida January and closer to bikini season than usual:).  So, here is a list of my weeks' menu:

    Tuesday I made my asian lettuce wraps:
    1 pd ground turkey
    1 onion diced
    1 red bell pepper chopped
    2 cloves garlic minced
    1 bag deluxe stir fry mix (frozen food section)\
    1/4 C of GF San J terryiaki stir fry sauce
    1/4 C of GF San J Orange Sauce
    1 head butter living lettuce or boston lettuce

    In a medium skillet saute onion and bell pepper ( adding 1 TBSP olive oil if necessary) for about 5 minutes and add ground turkey and brown together.  At end of browning add in garlic and cook for another minute or so.  Add in the frozen stir fry veggies, thawed or frozen.  Cook about 10 minutes until veggies are warmed through yet still firm.  My kids like the texture small so I add this mixture to my food processor and pulse briefly to make it more of a crumbly mixture and add back to saute pan but this step is not necessary.  Add the stiry fry sauces and lightly cook on medium low until more of a carmelized texture.  Break the lettuce leaves apart to make cup sized wraps and set aside, add beef/veggie mixture to bowl and serve.  You add about 1 heaping TBSP to the small leaves and maybe two to the larger leaves and wrap to eat like a taco wrap. 

    Wednesday was Lime in the Coconut Chicken drumsticks with avocado and tomato salad and roasted broccoli:
    Rachel Ray's recipe for the chicken is both gluten and dairy free and was good, although the marinade did not sink into the chicken as much as I thought it would.  I would reccomend poking more slits in the chicken and letting is marinate longer with possibly even more lime juice:

    For the chicken:
    3 cloves Garlic, crushed
    1 c chopped scallions, whites and greens
    1 c cilantro
    1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
    1/3 c honey
    1 c coconut milk
    1/3 c lime juice
    10 skin on chicken drumsticks

    In a blender combine all ingredients but chicken and puree.  Cut 2 deep slits in each drumstick and marinate in coconut mixture at least an hour.  transfer chicken to a rack placed on a foil lines cookie sheet and season.  bake at 450 for 20 minutes, flip and bake 10 more minutes.

    1 bunch broccoli florets
    3 Tbsp butter
    2 cloves garlic minced

    preheat oven to 450, spread broccoli in  a single layer in a baking sheet or casserole pan.  Melt butter in microwave and stir in garlic.  Drizzle butter mixture over broccoli and season with salt/pepper and roast about 10 minutes until tender.

    Avocado/tomato salad:
    2 avocados
    1 pint cherry tomatoes
    4 Tbsp lime or lemon juice and salt/pepper to taste

    Halve, unpit and score both avocados and scoop our into small bowl.  Slice or halve the cherry tomatoes, add juice and seasoning and toss.

    Thursday was -GF Penne with turkey ragu:
    1 Tbsp olive oil
    2 leeks, white and light green parts finely chopped
    2 ckives garlic minced
    1 pd ground turkey
    1 28 ounce can crushed tomatoes
    14 c fresh basil chopped
    3 Tbsp grated parmesan cheese
    12 ounces GF penne (I prefer Schar Penne or Quinoa Rotelle)
    2 Tbsp half and half

    Bring a pot of salted water to boil and add pasta.  Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a saute pan over medium heat.  Add leeks, garlic and turkey and cook, stirring until turkey browns, abut 5 minutes.  Add tomatoes and season with salt and pepper.  Bring sauce to boil and cook 5 minutes.  Reduce heat to medium and add half the basil and parmesan.  Simmer stirring occasionally until thickened, about 10 more minutes.  Stir and cook pasta until al dente then drain.  Reserve 1/2 c cooking liquid and empty pasta directly into saute pan and stir.  Add half and half and toss to coat, adding some of the cooking liquid to loosen if necessary.  Serve warm with additional parmesan if wanted.

    Finally Friday: Enchilada casserole and black bean salad:

    1 pd ground sirloin or 1 pd ground turkey
    1 c chopped onion
    1 Tbsp butter
    1 Tbsp garlilc minced
    1 1/2 Tbsp GF flour blend
    1 C reduced sodium, GF beef broth
    1 Tbsp 40% less sodium, GF taco seasoning mix (Old Elpaso)
    1 8 oz can no salt added tomato sauce or homemade tomato sauce canned
    1 small can chopped green chilis
    12 small GF corn tortillas or 4 8 inch brown rice tortillas
    1/3 C Weight Watchers Fiesta Blend shredded cheese or 1/3 C shredded Jalepeno jack cheese

    Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium high heat.  Add beef/turkey and onion to pan.  Cook 6 minutes stirring to a crumble mixture.  Preheat over to 400.  Melt butter in small saute pan.  Add garlic, saute 1 minute.  Sprinkle with flour and cook for about 30 secondsstirring constantly until lumps are gone. Add broth, taco seasoning, and tomato sauce to pan and bring to a boil, cook for 2 minutes.  Add 1 1/2 C of tomato mixture to beef mixture and stir to combine.  Place 1 brown rice tortilla or overlapping 4 corn tortillas in the bottom of a 9 inch pie pan.  Top with 1 C beef mixture and spread around, top with 1 Tbsp cheese and layer accordingly ending with tortillas and top with leftover sauce and then leftover cheese and bake for 10 minutes or until cheese melts. 

    Black bean Salad:
    1 can whole balck beans drained and rinsed
    1 can corn, drained and rinsed
    1/2 pint cherry tomatoes halved
    1 avocado, halved, seed removed and scored then scooped
    1 head romaine, chopped
    lime juice

    Add first 5 ingredients to bowl and toss with lime juice and season to taste.