Welcome Friends!

Welcome Friends! I am so grateful for all who have shared their stories of food-related hurts and healings. It is an ever-evolving journey for me, and I have relied upon others who have held similar experiences for comfort, empathy, knowledge and support. In this blog, I share some of my personal experiences as well as some of my favorite foods. I am currently on a grain-free diet, very similar to the Paleo diet. Having multiple food sensitivities as well as hypoglycemia, I have taken liberties with the diet, such as using agave nectar instead of honey. I'm aware of the great agave debate, but keeping my blood sugar low takes priority. I use such small quantities, that it is a non-issue for me. In addition, I still use cream in my coffee as well as a few other dairy products sparingly. I have given up so many beloved foods, that I am stubborn when it comes to dairy. Also, when I am really craving a starch, I will eat quinoa, buckwheat, lentils or beans. Again, it isn't very often, and these foods have some very healthful benefits as well. However, I find I feel my best when following most closely to the Paleo diet, eating large quantities of vegetables and animal protein. It isn't a philisophical choice for me, but rather a choice to feed my body what it seems to need for optimum performance-pain free, clear-headed, energetic and balanced. I hope you find something here that looks delicious even though your diet may look quite different than mine. Good food transends across the boundries of "diet." Enjoy!


Gluten-Free Fettucine with Roasted Red Pepper Sauce

I just recently tested tomatoes on rotational basis and did not have a reaction: YAY! I am not brave enough to eat a marinara or red meat sauce yet, but an occasional tomato on a salad, with an egg, or on a sandwich is a beautiful thing! In its stead I developed a roasted red pepper sauce that is wonderfully rich on pasta or white fish. I think jarred peppers would work, but roasting your own peppers is so aromatic as well as simple.

To roast, heat up the grill or broiler to med-high (mine is about 400-450 degrees). Put peppers on and turn every 4 minutes or so, whenever the skin turns black. Once all sides are black, take off grill (or out from under broiler) and place in a glass or metal bowl and cover with a lid or foil to steam. After about 12-20 minutes, peel the charred skin off. It should come right off. Then pull the stem out which pulls out most of the seeds. Cut into fourths and scrape the seeds and veins off. They smell so good!

  • 1, 14 ounce package of Tinkyada fettucine, cooked and rinsed (or other favorite GF pasta)
  • 1/3 cup chopped white or yellow onion
  • 2 tbsp oil (olive, grapeseed, safflower or other oil of choice)
  • 1 jar or 4 roasted red peppers
  • 1/3 cup crumbled goat cheese
  • 1/3 cup chicken or vegetable broth
  • 2 tsp red wine vinegar
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tbsp slivered basil
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
Saute onion in oil over med-low heat, until soft but not brown. Add roasted red peppers, onion, vinegar, broth and goat cheese in blender or food processor and process until smooth. Season with salt and pepper. Place cooked and rinsed pasta and sauce in the same pan the pasta was cooked and heat until hot. Or heat sauce and pour over hot pasta. Serve in a pasta bowl and top with basil and toasted pine nuts.

 Toasted pine nuts: toast nuts in a dry skillet over med-high heat, shaking pan often to toast evenly
For fish: replace red wine vinegar with lemon juice



Lamb with Balsamic Rosemary Reduction

This dish is a favorite primarily because it is delish and easy, but also lamb is my favorite red meat, and spinach is one of my favorite vegetables. We put it in lasagna, omelettes, pasta stir-fries, salads, soups, wraps and dips. Spinach is a great source of Vitamins A, K, C, E, folate, iron and several others: A great way to "sneak" antioxidant-rich veggies into your family's diet. Sometimes red meat gets a bad wrap, but lamb has some wonderful benefits as well. It is a super source of zinc (responsible for growth, tissue repair and a sturdy immune system), Vitamin B12 and amino acid carnitine. It does a body good!

4-6 lamb chops
5 ounce pack of baby spinach
grapeseed oil
salt and pepper
3/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 tsp whole peppercorns
2 tbsp honey
6 inch sprig of rosemary
  • Bring balsamic vinegar, pepper corns, honey and rosemary to a simmer in a small saucepan. Simmer until reduced by 1/3
  • Season both sides of lamb chop with salt and pepper
  • Heat skillet and oil to med-hi
  • Add lamb to skillet and cook on both sides until internal temperature reaches 140-150 for med-rare or 150-160 for med
  • Pull from heat and let rest for 10 minutes so juices will redistribute through the meat (I cut my lamb too soon in the picture and the juices ran all over the plate)
  • Add spinach to hot lamb pan and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, for 2-3 minutes until just wilted
  • Place spinach and lamb on plate and drizzle with balsamic reduction

Costco has great prices for lamb and balsamic vinegar


Sweet Potato Fries

My family really likes these fries, especially my girls! We don't even need dipping sauce.Vitamin A with over 700% of your RDA in one serving. In addition, they have a respectable amount of Vitamin C, B6, Potassium and fiber.

These are almost as easy as opening a package of frozen ones, but much tastier! I especially like these with burgers or pork. Two large sweet potatoes serve as a side dish for about 4 people.

2 large sweet potatoes
salt, pepper, and cayenne (optional)
1-2 tbsp oil of choice (I used sunflower)
  • Scrub or peel potatoes (keeping the skin on adds to the fiber content-I peeled the ones in the picture because the skins weren't looking so tasty)
  • Cut into 1/2 inch by 3 inch sticks (1/3 inch if smaller fries are preferred)
  • Lightly coat with oil
  • Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and a small pinch of cayenne if you like spice
  • Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes, or until golden brown. Stir half way through to recoat with oil and to promote even browning.


Jalapeño Poppers Sans Gluten

My clever and beautiful sister-n-law, Ramona, created these gems using wonton wrappers. I replaced the gluten-containing wonton wrappers with rice-paper wrappers and rolled it "egg roll" style. Rice paper does not get quite as crispy as wonton wrappers, but it has a light crisp-chewy texture that works nicely with the creamy cheese and crunch of bacon. She also experimented with Cheddar, Smoked Gouda, and Montery Jack cheeses. All were tasty, but cream cheese won the "fave" status. The sauce shown is a mixture of raspberry jam thinned with a bit of cran-raspberry juice. Another awesome gluten-free appetizer, sure to please gluten eaters as well. I know my gluten-eating husband loves these! And I love not having to deal with messy batter and deep frying to have the great taste of Jalapeño Poppers. All I can say is YUM!

12 (8 inch) rice paper wrappers (purchased at a local asian market)
6 fresh jalapeño peppers
6-8 ounces of cream cheese (light or regular)
4 slices of bacon, cooked and crumbled (reserve drippings)
onion powder or garlic powder to rub on jalapeños before grilling
oil for sautéing peppers (about 1/4 cup) I used safflower oil
  • Preheat grill or broiler for peppers.
  • Rub whole peppers with oil and sprinkle with onion or garlic powder and salt
  • Grill until skin is slightly charred and blistered on all sides
  • Remove stems and seeds from peppers. Using gloves will keep the hot oils from irritating your skin (trust me... removing your contacts from your eyes is a torturous process after seeding peppers with your bare fingers-ouch!)
  • Cut each jalapeño lengthwise into 6 strips
  • Soak one rice paper at a time in cool water until soft (30 seconds or so). I just let the next paper soak while I was rolling one popper
  • Pat the excess water off of the soaked rice paper with a towel or paper towel. Lay it out on your work surface and place 2-3 strips of grilled pepper, about 1 tbsp bacon crumbles (or 1/3 of a full strip), and 1/2 ounceish chunk of cream cheese in the middle of the rice paper. Fold up the bottom half of paper over the filling. Fold in each of the sides and roll up "egg roll" or "burrito" style.

  • When all poppers are rolled, add enough oil to bacon drippings to evenly cover the bottom of the pan and heat to high

  • Sauté poppers until golden on all sides and cream cheese is threatening to ooze out the ends

Now you are ready to dip and pop!


Dreamy Gluten-Free Vegan Brownies

Okay, it is 8 degrees outside. I was supposed to do our weekly shopping today, but brrrr! I really don't want to leave the house, dragging my 3 year old to several grocery stores (of course we can't find everything my special diet requires at one store!). All I really want to do is stay in my jammies, clutching my steamy cup of coffee and bake, warming my kitchen and my spirits. In fact, that is what I did-sorry girls, we are out of milk, eggs, and lunch fixins...but we have brownies! And I must say, THESE BROWNIES ROCK! Whenever I take them to school or NCL functions, no one has a clue that they are gluten-free, let alone dairy free. Admittedly, I still prefer the taste of butter over shortening, but when dairy has to go-these brownies more than satisfy the chocolate monster in us all. Stay warm and enjoy!

4 ounces Ghirardelli 100% unsweetened chocolate baking bar, roughly chopped
1/4 cup Spectrum Organic Shortening (or butter if not vegan)
1 tbsp Ener-G egg replacer (or 2 eggs-omit water if using eggs)
1/4 cup warm water
3/4 cup Raw Blue Agave Nectar
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup Sorghum Mix
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup walnut meal (I chop them in my small food processor and store them in the freezer)
1/4 cup Enjoy Life brand chocolate chips (optional)
1/4 nuts (optional)
  • Melt chocolate in shortening or butter over low heat
  • Mix sorghum flour mix, soda, salt, and walnut meal in a small bowl
  • In a separate bowl, beat or whisk egg replacer and water until frothy, about 1 minute
  • Add agave nectar and vanilla to egg replacer mixture and beat well
  • Mix dry mixture into wet and beat until well combined
  • Stir in chocolate chips and nuts if using and pour into a prepared 8x8 pan. I line my glass pan with parchment to prevent sticking and to make clean up easier. Using oil or shortening will also work
  • Bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes
Product Information:
I buy the Ghirardelli bars at Wal-Mart. They are 100% chocolate without soy, milk, or sugar. I order Enjoy Life chocolate chips by the case through Vitamin Cottage-Natural Grocers to save 10%, I used Wholesome brand Blue Agave to give the brownies more of a brown sugar taste, which I buy at Amazon


Jalapeno Chicken Dip

We love appetizers! We have them Christmas Eve, New Year's Eve, and of course for the Super Bowl, which is just around the corner. I will share some of our family faves with you. Not all of them work well with my rotation diet (or anyone's New Year diet for that matter), but they are all gluten-free and guaranteed crowd pleasers!

This one is great with veggies or tortilla chips. It was inspired by a recipe from The Junior League at Home. I've added quite a few additional ingredients and spiced it up. We are not afraid of the heat at our house. So feel free to tame the spice or ramp it up, depending on your family's preference. Either way, everyone always loves this one!

3-4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2-3 tsp garlic powder (not garlic salt) use onion powder if you are sensitive to garlic
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground black pepper
dash of cayenne
2 (8 ounce) packages of cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup minced red bell pepper (roasted reds are yummy as well)
1/2 cup sliced scallions
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
2-3 jalapeno peppers, seeded and minced
1 roasted green chile, chopped (Slim Jims are my personal fave) or a 4 ounce can of chopped green chiles
3 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp salt
2 tsp Tobasco sauce
  • Sprinkle garlic powder, salt and pepper onto chicken. That sounds like a lot of garlic powder, but it really makes the dish tasty. Grill until just done (or saute in a skillet with oil if preferred)
  • Finely chop the chicken
  • In a larger bowl mix cream cheese with milk until well incorporated
  • Add in all the rest of the ingredients (including chicken) until well mixed
  • Spread into a greased 8 inch square baking dish (or any shallow 1 1/2 to 2 quart baking dish) and bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes, until bubbly
  • Serve with fresh veggies and/or tortilla chips and collect the praise!