Welcome to Ingredients We Choose

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Welcome to Ingredients We Choose

I am allergic to gluten (which is now thought to be in all grain). After challenging myself to go truly 100% gluten free, I have discovered that I am so sensitive I have to make sure there is absolutely no gluten cross contamination on even the most minute level (except rice). This currently means cooking every single meal in my own home and from scratch.  But I’ve come to realize it can be a great opportunity to be forced to slow down and think clearly what am I going to choose as my life?

Stay tuned for delicious gluten free recipes, tips on dealing with food allergies, and general musings on life and the struggle to choose the ingredients of my life more carefully.

Elimination Diet Part Two: Seven Years Later

Hippo quote

I have known for a very long time that I need to be completely gluten free, to the most minute degree. Although I was never diagnosed with Celiac disease, I have the same level of sensitivity. It now makes me obviously and incredibly sick, however for most of my life I had no idea that gluten was bad for me.

How is this possible? Well, according to some reading I’ve done, when you are first introduced to a substance that is bad for you then yes you get sick. But then you quickly climatize to it, although it is still doing a lot of damage. Like how cigarettes make you sick when you first start smoking them, but you get used to it, and although it is doing a ton of silent damage you don’t really notice. Symptoms gradually get worse and worse, until one day you body screams enough, and collapses. With cigarettes that may be increased sinus infections, allergies, headaches, leading eventually to emphysema and cancer.

With gluten, I had no idea the myriad of vague health issues I had was related to it. I thought everybody had headaches 4 or more days per week. I thought it wasn’t unusual to get migraines on a monthly or more basis, since there were several people in my family who had this. I was taking ibuprofin almost every day and had no idea that the chronic pain, mostly in my head, was not normal. A friend tried to tell me, but I just brushed them off and didn’t really think about it.

Although I could “write” on my skin, scratching with medium pressure would cause swollen red lines because of the high level of histamines in my system, I thought it was just some weird random fluke. I never connected it to the fact that it really hurt to get my teeth cleaned because they were so sensitive, nor to the fact that rain to me felt like little cold needles. Nor to the fact that I was always so cold, and that once cold it was in my bones and took forever to feel warm again. I thought it was just cold out or that other people didn’t like talking about how much teeth cleaning hurt.

I was tired all the time, but hey, I thought, who isn’t? I frequently got super cranky but I thought it was just because people were being especially stupid that day. I had a cold or the flu once or twice a month, which I knew was more than other people, but I thought I had just inherited a bad immune system from my mom who was also sick frequently. (Did I mention that food intolerances are hereditary?)

NONE of this is normal.

I know this because I finally got sick of being sick and was finally willing to do the elimination diet, found out that gluten is my kryptonite, and have been hypervigilant to keep it completely out of my life.

From what I have researched, the ONLY way to know for sure what you are allergic to is to do the elimination diet – it is the “gold standard” according to my doctor. The blood and skin scratch tests are not very accurate. I have read that they are now finding that there are antibodies (allergic response) that develop in the bowel that never make it into the blood. If you are serious about getting well, you must do an elimination diet. (And of course, consult your doctor first! And hopefully your doctor is one that actually understands elimination diets. If you don’t have one, get one)

I am doing much much MUCH better now that I have completely eliminated gluten, in even its tiniest forms (such as the evil maltodextrin and “natural flavors”). I only eat at places that understand celiacs and have strong protections in place against cross-contamination. And, of course, my own house! Most of the food I consume was prepared by me in my own house from scratch. No boxed food! Few canned or bottled either.

I NEVER get a headache or a migraine unless I have been “glutenized” (ingested some gluten). In a year, the three times I had a cold was when I was glutenized. My teeth don’t hurt now when they get cleaned! You can no longer write on my skin. Many other health problems have cleared up as well.

However, lately I have been feeling kinda tired and off. I know that I am also allergic to corn, sesame and chocolate (yes, chocolate). I have been wondering if there is something else that is slowly poisoning me. I have my suspicions about dairy and the nightshades, especially potatoes and tomatoes (sob!).

My spouse has been thinking that maybe she has allergies too and has been wanting to try the elimination diet. Her mom recently was confirmed with Crohn’s Disease and is thinking of doing one too.

So here we go, Elimination Diet round two!

Simple Gluten Free Pizza Toast

I love researching fancy new gluten free recipes and the latest Internet food blog trends, but lets face it, the vast majority of meals need to be fast and easy. I have a full time job, a family, and I try to have a bit of a social life. I don’t have time to make fancy gluten free meals, and I am too sensitive for most processed convenience foods (and they make me tired).

I need easy food but I still want tasty food. Enter the Gluten Free Pizza Toast!

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Take some gluten free bread. Toast first if you want it firmer, don’t if you prefer soft. Top with simple tomato sauce. You can use store bought, homemade, or quickly whip up a batch of delicious Fresh Pizza Sauce (it literally takes two minutes).

Add mozzarella cheese, or other/fake cheese of your choice. Then add toppings, like olives, mushrooms, onions, gluten free pepperoni, etc. Even cashews or jalapenos! Then sprinkle a bit more cheese, and some parmesan cheese to give it that pizza parlor flavor!

If you are REALLY short on time, put a bowl over it all and microwave for a couple minutes. Otherwise, pop in the oven under the broiler and broil on low until done.

Easy. Fast. Gluten free.

slow cooker swiss steak – great for hot summer days

ingredientswechoose:

Easy easy easy! And tasty! I really feel we need more gluten free recipes out there that are easy – both for new people that might be overwhelmed and confused on how to be gluten free and for us seasoned veterans who are busy with full lives and may be tired of cooking artesian gourmet meals everyday! This is real life, people! Those are good for weekends, but during the workweek I’d like to do more than work, cook and sleep! :)

This recipe would yield a nice lighter taste for summer. If you want it richer, add a teaspoon of soy sauce and a tablespoon or two or tomato paste (a la America’s Test Kitchen suggestions for more umami taste, especially when not browning meat like in a crock pot)

Originally posted on gf and me:

Braised in a garlic and onion tomato sauce that is fantastic served over rice or gluten free noodles, this steak is melt-in-your-mouth tender. AND it is prepared in the slow cooker which is great on those busy days – summer or winter. Throw everything in the pot in the morning, turn it on, and dinner is ready at five o’clock – right when the last thing you feel like doing is cooking a meal!

slow cooker swiss steak gluten free

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Fresh Pizza Sauce

This pizza sauce takes just two minutes to whip up. It is based off America’s Test Kitchen recipe. You can adjust the seasonings to your taste.

For the tomatoes, it is best to use organic. Tomatoes are the main flavor so they need to be of excellent flavor. Make sure to read the label and get tomatoes with no seasoning or flavorings added. I like CostCo’s organic diced tomatoes. I have never had any problems with them.

If you have a strong blender like a Vitamix, you don’t need to peel the garlic. If you don’t, use the flat side of a chefs knife to crush the garlic to easily remove the peel. Toss the garlic into the blender.

For the red wine vinegar and olive oil, because this is such a simple recipe the better quality you use the better the sauce will taste. Organic is usually the best tasting in my opinion.

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1 – 14 oz can diced tomatoes (no seasonings, organic is best), drained
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 – 1/4 teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper
2 medium garlic cloves
1/2 teaspoon red wine vinegar
1/2 Tablespoon olive oil

Toss all into a blender and blend on high.

Use to make pizza.

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Most Gluten Free Eating is Simple

There are so many fancy gluten free recipes and processed food, but most gluten free eat is simple. Or at least it should be. Who has time to do fancy cooking everyday? But convenience foods are highly processed and tend to make people tired or otherwise not feel good.

My simple gluten free breakfast:

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Ham with no additives from Costco, sliced and pan fried with a little oil. Two fried eggs with a little ketchup and hot sauce (I have never had a problem with Heinz, and I buy a gluten free siracha sauce from a local gluten free store). Two toasted slices of homemade gluten free bread (easy to make, or use a store bought).

Total time, less than 10 minutes.

Gluten-Free French Lemon Madeleines (and a boost of blogging confidence)

ingredientswechoose:

Great post on the realities of sometimes feeling like crap but keeping going anyway. xx

Originally posted on The Dusty Baker:

Lemon Madeleines - TheDustyBakerI am a mess of many things.

I bake. I write about famous people who make food. I research articles. I develop recipes. I review events. I take photos in professional people’s kitchens. I blog. I manage my family business’ books. I walk hundreds of miles for breast cancer awareness. I don’t eat gluten. I used to write plays. I grew up with Lyme Disease. Sometimes now that stays hidden. Sometimes it doesn’t.

I’ve been having a hard time figuring out how that all comes together here.

I used to feel like I had a “voice” on this blog, one that was quirky and fun and so focused around the joy that is throwing flour in the air and making a mess and being all scrappy in NYC and not letting the whole gluten-free thing be the thing that stops someone from baking and being all dusty in the kitchen…

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Best Buttermilk Pancakes

Best Buttermilk Pancakes
 
Ingredients
175 grams gluten free flour (like rice, oat, millet, etc)
75 grams gluten free starch (like potato, tapioca, corn, etc)
       (or if using a mix, just use 250 grams total)
1/4 cup chia seeds, ground
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3 TBSP dark brown sugar
2 eggs, beaten
1-2 cups buttermilk
4 TBSP unsalted butter, melted
Notes / Directions
Whisk together dry ingredients. Add wet ingredients to dry, only starting with 1 cup of buttermilk and adding until you have the consistency you like.

If you don’t have buttermilk, put 1 TBSP of lemon juice in a one cup measure, then add milk to the top. Let stand 5 minutes.