Friday, December 17, 2010

Indian Latkas

So this recipe was born out of a total KITCHENFAIL!!11!! but the end result was amazing none the less.  I had started out trying to make samosas, but as I've previously chronicled, baking and I were not on speaking terms when this recipe came about.  Gotta get creative.  These were the filling for samosas, revamped.

I have been told by several of my chosen friends that calling these latkas is a stretch, mostly because of the peas.  Whatevs. I do what I want.

Indian Latkas

3 sweet potatoes
1 onion, thinly sliced and diced
1 1/2 cups of frozen peas
1 tablespoon of butter
3 cloves of garlic
1 tablespoon curry powder
1 tablespoon mustard seed (start with a tsp if you don't want these to be spicy and keep tasting/adding)
1 tablespoon coriander / cilantro

Chop potatoes into small cubes.  Cover with water and bring to a boil, checking every 5 - 10 minutes to see if you can spear the potato easily with a fork.  When you can and the potato is just about falling apart, pour potatoes into a strainer.  Mash with the back of a large fork. and set aside.

Add butter and onion to a large skillet. After about 2 minutes, add garlic and sautee until fragrant.  Add all your seasonings.

While the onion finishes cooking, add in the peas to defrost (which takes under a minute) and sear a bit. When peas are thawed and onion is sufficiently softened, add the contents of the pan (scraping the yummy bits off the bottom) to your potato mixture and blend well.  Taste and continue to season until you get it right.  I added more coriander and curry at this point.

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.

Brush EVOO on two cookie sheets.  Add heaping (and I'm talking HEAPING) tablespoons to your greased cookie sheet. Flatten with the back of the spoon.  Drizzle with EVOO and bake until browning. Flip over to brown the other side, pushing down a bit with a spatula and drizzling again with EVOO when you flip.

Perfect global addition to any holiday party menu.  Serve with a blend of goat cheese and sour cream, sprinkled liberally with cilantro. Mmmmmmmm.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Baking: Revisited plus THREE cookie recipes

I write this triumphantly.  I give you... COOKIES !  Baked with gluten free flour (sweet rice flour or white rice flour, to be exact, I know the recipes say white rice flour, but I swear I had sweet rice flour. Whatever.).  That taste delicious.  In that mix we have peanut butter cookies, butter cookies and sugar cookies. All delightful and exactly what I've been craving of late.

Sugar Cookies (perfect for cutting out into pretty shapes!)

( I used the two egg whites that are left over from this to make coconut macaroons - recipe to follow)
1. Beat until creamy
            1 stick + 2 tablespoons of butter or margarine ( earth balance margarine works fine for dairy free)
            1/2 cup of white sugar
             teeny pinch of salt
2. Add and continue beating
             2 egg yolks
             1/2 teaspoon lemon peel
             1/2 teaspoon vanilla
3. Add 1 1/2 cup white rice flour and mix
Refrigerate dough for a little while so it firms and makes rolling easier. If you have it, roll this out on parchment paper sprinkled with white sugar.  
Bake at 350 degrees for 10-15 minutes and cool in the pan for five minutes before removing.
Basic Cookie Dough (you can do so much with these...)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees ( if your oven is as terrible as mine... 375 might suffice).
1 stick + 2 tablespoons of butter or margarine
1/2 cup white sugar
pinch of salt
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon of vanilla
1 1/2 cups of  white rice flour
You can make a drop type cookie by rolling the batter in sugar before baking - use  parchment paper.
You can sprinkle sugar on  parchment paper and roll the dough out and make cut outs that beg to be frosted.
You can add 1/2 cup of chocolate chips and mix in the batter. Then  drop by teaspoonfuls on parchment paper and bake.
Bake for about 10 minutes  and check.  I let them cool a minute or two before removing  from the parchment paper. 
Coconut Macaroons
Whip 2 egg whites and 1 teaspoon vanilla ( or almond if you have it) until frothy.
In a separate bowl mix 1 and 1/3 cup of coconut (flake or shredded), 1 cup sugar, a pinch of salt and 3 tablespoons of white rice flour.
Optional - add 1 and 1/3 cup of mini chocolate chips as you combine the two bowls.
Bake at 325 for about 20 minutes. 

Shout out to my cousin Lisa for dropping the peace sign in the above picture. Nothing more hood than baking with Grandma.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

UGH and other tales of gluten free baking.

I have had it, friends.

The holidays are practically here.  I need to bake some cookies.  Except the last three things I've baked have been capital A Awful. With my family's annual cookie baking fest happening at my Grandma's house this weekend, I feel resigned to watching them bake delectable treats while I pout.  I'll help, mostly because I find baking cathartic if nothing else. But I need to figure out GF baking and FAST.  Not even because of the holidays.

There are few things I love more than surprising someone I love with freshly baked cookies.  I recently started tackling cupcakes to great success too.  All of this has halted come August when my celiac diagnosis was revealed.

I did have ONE attempted recipe turn out great.  But it was formulated specifically for the Bob's Red Mill GF All Purpose Flour Mix that I keep on hand. Is this the only way to do things?  I see baking recipes that literally have 4 or 5 different types of flour.  Hiiiii - I live in New York City.  I barely have space to store wheat flour, GF flour and xanthan gum, let alone 5 different types of flour.

What is a city celiac to do?

To keep things from being totally bleak, I give you the ONE recipe that turned out well.  Not so sticky it adhered itself to my food processor. Not drier than a dessert despite how much liquid I dump in. This recipe yielded some delicious cookies.  Icing recipe follows.

Bob's Red Mill GF Sugar Cookies:
(for some reason the recipe won't copy/paste aaand I'm lazy.)

Perfect Sugar Cookie Icing:
(The amounts below should leave you a little extra making the above cookies.
For cupcakes or a cake - double it at least. More is less when it comes to frosting!)

  • 2 cups confectioners' sugar

  • 1/4 cup butter or shortening

  • 2 - 3 tablespoons milk or half and half

  • 1/2 - 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • food coloring if needed

  • Bust out your hand mixer and go to town. Voila.

    Saturday, November 27, 2010

    Italian Pussy.

    This post is dedicated to the person who found this blog today by googling "italian pussy." Love.

    Friday, November 26, 2010



    I had been dreading the holidays even more than usual.  And even more than my birthday, which must be a record of some kind. 

    I wasn't particularly concerned about Thanksgiving, though.  I don't really like stuffing. Give me my mashed taters and I'm a happy woman.  Italians must eat pasta before the meal on every holiday, naturally, which ups the ante on the dread, but Mom will make me some GF on the side. And then I realized that  OMGGREENBEANCASSEROLE is in no way, shape or form gluten free.  Not okay.  As I learned the hard way when attempting to make tuna casserole, gluten free, cream based soups pretty much don't exist. And French's fried onions aren't either. BOO.

    I did see an awesome recipe for green bean casserole on General Mills' Live Gluten Freely newsletter that pointed readers in the direction of a gluten free creamy mushroom soup from Progresso (Thanks Progresso!).

    But it lacked the fried onions.  What the hell is the point without fried onions? And then I thought to myself - "Hey dumbass, you have a food blog.  It's about time you learned how to fry."

    Yes, that's right.  I have never fried anything.  My mom is a dietitian after all.

    So, with some fat free half and half and Bob's Red Mill All Purpose GF Flour Mix, I went to town.  I tossed the shallots in the half and half and then put them in a bag, added 1/2 - 3/4 of a cup of the flour mix and shook it like a polaroid picture.

    We have the below, pre baking:

    Not bad for a first attempt at frying.  Recipe below!

    1 can (18 oz) Progresso® Vegetable Classics creamy mushroom soup
    1 teaspoon gluten free soy sauce
    Dash ground black pepper (or, if you're me - a small handful)
    24oz frozen cut green beans, thawed

    1.   Heat oven to 350°F. In ungreased 1 1/2-quart casserole, mix soup, soy sauce, pepper and green beans.
    2.   Bake about 40 minutes or until hot and bubbly.

         shallots, sliced as thinly as possible and broken up
         ~ 1/2 cup half and half/milk
        ~  1/2 - 3/4 cup GF flour mix

    1. Pour milk into bowl. Toss thinly diced shallots (I used three) well in liquid, letting them sit for 1 minute.
    2. Shake extra milk off shallots, adding them to a gallon sized ziploc bag.
    3. Add flour and shake it until shallots are coated well.

    Add to about 1/2 cup of oil and fry in batches, being sure not to overcrowd.


    Monday, November 15, 2010


    I am legit obsessed.  I warned you. MORE SQUASH.  I have one more squash recipe that I'm going to throw at you all and then I'll lay off. I swear.

    Squash Risotto

    1 squash skinned and diced (acorn or butternut, 1 prepped package from the supermarket is a-okay)
    1 cup arborio rice
    1 tablespoon unsalted butter
    1 tablespoon EVOO
    1/2 medium onion, thinly sliced and diced
    1/2 cup dry white wine (though I used red the first time I made this and it tasted amazing)
    1/2 cup grated parm + more for serving/garnish
    4 - 6 cups of GF vegetable or chicken stock, room temperature or slightly warmed if possible
    kosher salt
    ground sage

    Heat a medium sized saucepan over medium/high heat.  Add 1 tablespoon of EVOO and 1 tablespoon of butter.  When butter melts, sautee onion and squash for a few minutes, until onions are transluscent and squash are almost tender, poked easily with a fork.  Add rice and stir to coat in butter/oil.  Add a teaspoon of ground sage and wine and stir frequently until all liquid has evaporated (about 2 or 3 minutes). Reduce heat and add in stock, no more than a cup at a time.  As you begin to add stock, add a large pinch of nutmeg, another teaspoon of ground sage, a tablespoon of dried thyme and pepper per your taste. A pinch of salt is often needed to bring everything together. Stir frequently.  Add more stock once the rice has absorbed it all. After  about 25 minutes of this (aka when the rice is almost cooked), stir in parmesan.  All total, it should take the risotto 30 - 35 minutes of cooking.  Be sure to have extra stock on hand (water is fine if you run out), as arborio is some thirsty rice.

    Serves 4.

    Wednesday, November 10, 2010

    Awesome winter meal alert

    My name is Lauren, and I am addicted to squash from October - February every year.  And then I promptly forget about it, until I see it featured in a seasonal veggie display and get far too excited while meal planning in my head.

    There are so many great uses for spaghetti squash, my fave of the gourdy bunch.  I love it tender and tossed with fresh mint, cilantro, lemon juice and EVOO.  I also love the recipe I am about to share with you.  For spaghetti squash bolognese.  Its as if it was designed for gluten free italians like myself.  It has this great SNAP to it, like a super al dente noodle, that I can't get enough of.  It's really nature's gluten free pasta.

    I don't eat alot of meat.  I've been going back to it more now, just to give myself the illusion of more food options, but this is amazing with eggplant in the sauce instead of a meat. 

    To use eggplant, dice it into small squares, discarding the ends.  Toss eggplant with 2 tbls of kosher salt and place in a strainer with a plate and a 28oz can of tomatoes on top to weight it.  After 30 minutes, the bitter juices of the eggplant will have mostly drained out.  Preheat your oven to 375. Wipe off as much salt as you can and wring out the eggplant in a kitchen towel or paper towel. You'll be surprised by how much liquid comes out.  Then, put it on a greased baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes.  The eggplant should be browned.  Add it to the sauce when nearing completion to infuse it with the herbs and flavors of the sauce.

    Spaghetti Squash Bolognese

    1 lb ground turkey
    28oz can of crushed tomatoes
    1/2 medium onion, diced
    2 - 4 cloves of garlic
    1/2 cup red wine
    black pepper

    Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

    Slice the spaghetti squash in half lengthwise.  Try not to slice off a finger while doing this.  I came close multiple times, because my knives are le suck.  Remove the seeds.  Place both halves of spaghetti squash cut side down in ~ a cup of water in a pyrex/baking dish.  Poke holes in the sides now facing up.  Bake for about 35 minutes.  You can test if its done by poking it with a knife or fork.  If it punctures easily, you are good to go.

    While the squash bakes, get your sauce going.  Add about a tbsp of EVOO to heated, medium sized sauce pan heated on medium-high heat. Add diced onions.  After 2 - 3 minutes, add garlic, chopped as finely as you prefer.  I have a garlic press that I adore.  Sautee garlic and onion for 1 minute.  If you are going to use eggplant, skip to the next paragraph. Add turkey, breaking up with a non wooden spoon.  Start stirring in your italian seasonings.  Turkey usually needs a pinch of salt and a liberal sprinkle of black pepper at minimum, but I like it tossed with thyme, oregano, basil and parsley.  A few shakes of each. Let the turkey begin to brown.

    Add tomatoes, red wine and more herbs - tsp of each plus more thyme.  Lower heat to medium low and simmer, stirring regularly.  Taste frequently and add herbs as you see fit.  I also like a pinch of nutmeg and a pinch of salt.  If the sauce is too bitter, add a pinch of sugar or a whole carrot that you can remove later to sweeten it up a bit.

    When the squash is done, the sauce should be too. (Once the squash is cool enough to handle...) With the cut side facing up, use a large fork and comb through the squash, making "spaghetti."  Scoop it directly into the sauce, stirring to evenly distribute the sauce.  A dash of parmesan, or even some goat cheese goes great on top too.

    One of the many reasons why Autumn is my favorite season.  Tasty.

    Friday, November 5, 2010

    15 Minute, Not Really At All Homemade Meal

    As a tribute to the semi-homemade new first lady of New York, Sandra Lee, I present to you a fifteen minute not really at all homemade meal.  I made this up in the aisles of the supermarket at 9:30pm while visualizing what was in my freezer/fridge.  Kind of pisses me off that Madam First Lady has an entire show (and a magazine, I think) dedicated to her creations of recipes like these, but whatever.

    I'm not doing so great with the tribute aspect of this post, but my intent to do so was clear, right?

    Sausage, Peppers and Polenta
    1 package pre cooked sausage (I used Aidell's Roasted Garlic and Gruyere Chicken Sausage)
    1 cooking spoon scoop of tomato paste
    1 freezer bag of mixed peppers
    1/2 onion
    1 pre cooked tube of polenta (should all be gluten free, but check to be sure, as always)
    4 - 6oz red wine
    italian seasonings (I used rosemary, thyme, basil and red pepper flakes)

    Grab a large skillet, preferably one with high sides.  Heat it on high.  Add EVOO after 30 seconds.  Let EVOO heat for 30 seconds and add sliced onions and frozen peppers.  Pour wine and seasonings over peppers and onions and allow to bubble and reduce a bit.  Stir to evenly distribute spices and wine.

    While the veggies simmer, cut the polenta into 1/2 inch thick slices.  Slice the sausage. 

    When these preparations are done, use whatever spoon you had been stirring with to scoop a slightly heaping spoonful of tomato paste and stir well.  This will thicken up nicely to form a sauce.  A pinch of sugar could be necessary to cut the bitterness of the tomato paste/wine.  When peppers are cooked (about 5-7 minutes more), add sausage. Pop the polenta in the microwave for 90 seconds.  When the microwave beeps, kill the heat and cover the pan.

    Place the polenta circles in the bottom of a casserole dish.  Top with sausage, pepper and onion mixture.  Sprinkle some parm for good measure.  I shit you not, This went from being stuff on the counter to on the table in 15 minutes flat. Makes 3 servings too!

    Welcome to politics, Sandy.

    Tuesday, November 2, 2010


    Subtle Barack Obama reference in the title. Booyah midterm elections.  The title also refers to how awesome Mexican food is for those of us with gluten allergies.  Most sauces aren't thickened with anything artificial.  Corn tortillas are in abundance in awesome dishes like nachos and enchiladas.  Win - Win.

    I like making enchiladas but am supremely lazy and get annoyed rolling them out and getting them to stay put.  The below is my favorite weeknight Mexican.  I whip this whole thing up in around 30 minutes, baked for 15 while I clean up the kitchen and voila, 6 servings of yum.

    Mexican Lasagna

    6 small corn tortillas
    16 oz crushed or diced tomatoes
    1 medium yellow onion, chopped
    10 oz mushrooms, washed and thinly sliced
    1 can black beans, rinsed
    1 lb ground chicken
    1 1/2 cups shredded Mexican cheese
    pinch of kosher salt
    cilantro (optional, if you are genetically mutated and don't like it. if you do, get these)
    brown sugar
    chili powder (more if you like spicy/smoky less if you are a pussy)
    garlic powder

    Get a large skillet HOT.  Add in some EVOO.  After it heats for 30 sec, add half of your chopped ion and 2 cilantro cubes (or 2 tsp fresh cilantro).  Once onions are transluscent, add mushrooms.  As mushrooms release water, add chicken, breaking up with a non wooden spoon so you don't die of a bacterial infection.  Add a tsp of cumin, tsp or two of chili powder and a teeny pinch of kosher salt.

    While the chicken browns, start your sauce.  Add EVOO to medium sized, heated sauce pan.  Add the remainder of your onions. Once those become transluscent, add tomatoes and seasonings.  I like to do a T of cumin, 3 T of chili powder, a T of garlic and 1 T of brown sugar.  Sometimes I will add 4 - 6 ounces of water to thin it out a bit, especially if I am using crushed tomatoes. Let this simmer and keep tasting to get the flavor you want, adding a pinch of salt if desired.  Usually by the time the chicken cooks, the sauce only needs a few minutes to gel.  I usually add dried cilantro toward the end too, because I am obsessed.

    Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  Grab a 13 x 9 pyrex/baking dish.

    When chicken is browned, add your rinsed black beans and allow the veggie and chicken mixture to come together.  After a minute or two on the heat, kill it.

    Add a few tablespoons of sauce to the bottom of the baking dish.  Place two corn tortillas at the bottom of your dish on top of the sauce.  Add 1/3 of your chicken and veggie mixture.  Ladle on a generous amount of sauce.  Sprinkle some cheese.  Place two more corn tortillas down, this time adding sauce on top of them.  Add meat/veggie mixture, cheese and repeat until done, reserving some extra cheese and sauce for the top.  End with corn tortillas on top, with sauce and cheese layered on top of that. 

    Bake for 15 minutes.  Enjoy!

    Serves 6

    Nutritional Info: 372 calories, 17g of fat, 103mg cholesterol, 600mg sodium, 29g carbs, 6.4g fiber, 8g sugar, 26g protein.

    Sunday, October 24, 2010

    Sunday Vegetable Soup

    If my apartment wasn't 89 degrees right now, despite a box fan and an air conditioner fan running on high, I'd be eating this soup. I hope this post redeems me in some of your eyes.

    This came about in a fit of laziness.  I had always been afraid of soups, or turned them into weird KITCHENFAILS!!!111!! so this was a pleasant surprise when it actually turned out well.  I made this with the veggies I had in the house, but you could substitute broccoli, cauliflower or even two mixed freezer bags.

    3 cups fat free, low sodium, gluten free chicken or vegetable stock (I like Imagine brand)
    1 cup skim milk
    2 tablespoons smart balance spread
    1 1/2 tablespoons corn starch
    28 ounces diced tomatoes with liquids, if canned
    2 bunches or about 4 cups chopped broccolette
    1 cup finely diced onion
    3 cloves of garlic, minced
    4 wedges laughing cow light swiss spreadable cheese
    2 tablespoons thyme
    black pepper

    Chop all your veggies.  Turn the heat on under a large sauce pot and measure out your tomatoes, seasonings and liquids so everything is ready to go. Add smart balance to the pot, stirring to melt evenly.  Whisk in corn starch, continuing to whisk until mixture (roux) is perfectly smooth and starting to brown slightly and bubble.  Slowly whisk in milk and stock until the mixture starts to bubble and steam.  Add chopped veggies, tomatoes, garlic and seasonings.  Stir and bring to strong simmer.  Add laughing cow.  Allow mixture to simmer on medium heat and reduce by at least a third.  Season more as needed.  Pinch of salt could be good too, but be wary that laughing cow wedges are high in sodium, which is why I omitted it.

    The total will end up being 8 - 9 cups, 6 servings of 1 1/3 cups.

    Each serving has 186 calories, 3.8 grams of fat (1.3 saturated), 10mg cholesterol, 274 mg sodium, 27g of carbohydrates, 4g of fiber, 12g of sugar and 12g of protein.

    Friday, October 22, 2010


    Oh, man.  I was working on comfort food posts this week.  There's nothing I like more than something hearty thats still healthy.  But as you may have guessed from the title of this here post, most of them were gigantic KITCHENFAILS.

    I have been having the kitchen month from hell, save for two meals I prepared last week for my boyfriend and I.  One of which was great. The other okay. There will be posts to follow.

    I had been harassing my mother for her tuna casserole recipe, figuring it would be a snap to get it gluten free.  Except then I couldn't find any condensed cream based soups that didn't have wheat (certainly none that were low fat).  Since it was 9:30pm and I was starving after working and having class, I decided to just improvise.  Bad move when you're tired, hungry, and in a crappy grocery store full of invalids.

    I end up purchasing a store brand light alfredo sauce in a jar to substitute. Already, this is is a disaster.  Then, I get home and realize that I didn't have celery or celery seasoning.  Aaaaand I didn't feel like putting anything in the oven or actually cooking.  So I decided that I could create a microwave version of a tuna casserole.  Which consisted of a can of tuna, half a jar of this light alfredo sauce, shredded cheese, left over cooked gluten free pasta (that was in EVOO and tarragon) that had been in the fridge for about a week and some chopped raw white onion.

    *Cue screams of horror/stomach cramps*

    I would have taken a picture but it closely resembled vomit.  Which is pretty much what I wanted to do after I ate it.  Though I ate all of it.  Ugh. KITCHENFAIL. It was seriously the worst thing I have ever prepared.  I won't even say cooked, because that would be a total exaggeration.

    Friday, October 15, 2010

    I'm working on a Yelp list of gluten free restaurants!

    Will continue to update that!  I am starting with those that are more blatantly gluten free and will work back toward editing places I go back to that can accommodate my allergy.  Going to eventually move some of those reviews here on a separate page but that will likely wait until all of my patients stop showing up once it gets cold out and I am bored stupid at work. Sweeeet.

    Wednesday, October 13, 2010

    On Dreams...

    Because this post is as monumental as Freud's seminal work of the same title. Duh.

    Gluten is invading my dreams. I have had a few nightmares where I've woken up panicky since going gluten free ABOUT going gluten free. Literally waking up in a cold sweat that I ingested some wheat. Last night it was pretzels.

    Scene: The living room. Our author and boyfriend are in their usual position.  Feet up on the ottoman, huddled together, giggling and making sarcastic comments about whatever is on the tee vee.  The room is brighter than it ever is in actuality thanks to ridiculous NYC apartment layouts that the author dares ne'er bitch about due to her apartment being very under market (yet still insanely priced) for her posh zipcode.

    In this particular dream, I was cuddled up, watching football with Frank (and we were wearing matching navy blue velour sweatsuits, thank you subconscious) munching mindlessly and happily on some cheesy pretzels. 

    All of a sudden, I realize that I'm eating pretzels. I run to the kitchen to read the bag and see that it says WHEATY PRETZELS on the front and still scan for the allergen warning as if it won't confirm what I already know.  I start spitting out what's left in my mouth and crumbs come pouring out, seemingly from deep in my gut.  I start to panic and choke on the crumbs but they stop with no warning as Frank runs toward me.  We hug.


    Psychoanalysis in the comments? Heh.

    Wednesday, October 6, 2010

    An easy midweek recipe makes for a very easy midweek post.

    I. love. to. cook.  What? I really do.

    Except when I get home from work/therapy/class at 9pm or its 95 degrees outside.  Or I am just flat out feeling lazy.  And that is when having recipes like this one on hand bails me out.  The below is about enough for you and leftovers or you and a lucky second person. Check out both links for shirataki noodles in the post to be introduced to these wonders.

    Lemon, Tarragon, Goat Cheese and Chive pasta

    6oz dry gluten free pasta or 2 bag of shirataki noodles
    1/4 - 1/2 cup reserved pasta water or hot water
    1 teaspoon EVOO
    ~ 2 oz soft goat cheese
    zest and juice of one large lemon
    ~ 1 tablespoon of dried tarragon (I like a little more. Go by your taste.)
    ~ 1/3 cup tablespoons of chopped chives
    2 tablespoons gluten free grated parmesan cheese
    black pepper

    If using gluten free pasta (I LOVE bionaturae!) throw on some water to boil with a pinch of salt. No need to waste the oil that most gluten free chefs will tell you is necessary, just stir it frequently to avoid sticking.  If using shirataki, rinse very very very thoroughly under cold water and squeeze out excess.

    While water is boiling for the pasta, do all your chopping.  Combine all ingredients (except for goat cheese) in a large bowl.  Crumble goat cheese over ingredients, not combining.

    After pasta is done, pour it on top of sauce components and let sit for 30 seconds.  Add a little bit of reserved pasta/hot water at a time to help combine and evenly distribute sauce components.  Mix well, adding additional grated parm if desired.

    Nutritional breakdown (using shirataki noodles):

    195 calories, 13.5g fat, 20.25mg cholesterol, 273mg sodium, 14g carbohydrates, 6.5g fiber, 1.25g sugar,11g of protein

    Monday, October 4, 2010


    Peanut butter chocolate chip cookies. And they are naturally gluten free, no substituting or involvement of 12 separate types of flour which do not fit into my Upper West Side kitchen. Golden brown. Chewy. Mmmmmm.  

    Straight from my Mom's kitchen to mine.  Except I added chocolate.  Which is kind of a no brainer, since I can't think of anything that isn't better with some chocolate.  I think this would also be tasty with some toasted shredded coconut thrown in.

    1 c peanut butter
    1/2 tsp vanilla extract
    1 c brown sugar
    1 egg
    1 c chocolate chips

    Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
    *Grease that cookie sheet.  Or, preferably, get thee some parchment paper. 

    *Mix peanut butter, brown sugar, vanilla and egg.
    *Once you have that all combined, fold in the chocolate chips.
    *Roll into small balls, flatten slightly (I like to press them with a fork and get the hash marks like my Mom always did though I clearly forgot that in the above picture, whoops), and put on greased cookie sheet. They don't spread much, so feel free to cram them in within reason.
    *Bake 10 - 12 minutes.

    This dough freezes really well too.  All in all, the dough makes 24 small cookies.  I like to bake half at once this way nobody in my house overdoes it and the next time I'm craving something sweet (read: cranky), I am 10 minutes away from cookies.

    Per cookie, the nutritional info as follows:
    127 calories,6.3g of fat (2.3 saturated), 9mg cholesterol, 93mg sodium, 15g carbohydrates, 1g dietary fiber, 10g sugar, 3.6g protein

    Saturday, October 2, 2010

    The One About Making Out... (and other cross contamination).

    When I was first diagnosed, my super supportive boyfriend said that he would gladly give up gluten with me.  Until he realized that there was gluten in beer. Heh.

    This brings me to two weekends ago.  My man and I were hosting a my friend Michael at our place.  Michael and Frank were enjoying some beer and pizza. I was being well behaved and having some gluten free noshes of my own. As is the usual for Frank and I, there were kisses stolen here and there throughout the night.  Not to go totally TMI (I'll leave that for Vittoria...) but when we got a moment alone, we took advantage.

    Toward the end of the night, I started to feel some all too familiar rumblings in my celiac tummy.  Then came the nausea, the stomach pain and cramping, the mild headache.  I was racking my brain.  I knew I had been careful. Running over the list of everything I ate that day, I came up empty.  Then it hit me:  Making out with Frank post beer guzzling and pizza eating.  I refused to believe it so I did some intense googling (what else does one do in these situations?)  finding vague reports similar to my experience.  Poor boyfriend felt so horrible, that "he" had made me sick.  I emphasized that it was the wheat/gluten and NOT his lips. Thankfully I have no allergies to sexy brown men.  Only a seductive brown grain and its friends.

    Since then I've been even bitchier than normal and anytime he eats or drinks anything questionable, I make him brush his teeth and rinse.  No cross contamination since then, so even though I was unsure as to whether or not toothpaste would kill the allergen, I have been a-okay.

    The implications this has for dating are ridiculous.  Thankfully my man loves me. And we've been together like two years.  I couldn't imagine meeting someone, really liking them and then as the moment turns intimate screaming STOP STOP CROSS CONTAMINATION STOOOOOP. A scary consideration.  So who is going to start an allergy friendly dating website?

    Tangentially on the subject of cross contamination, the only slip ups I've had (after my first failed attempt that I documented here) have been CC (cross contamination) related.  Once, while I out I dipped my gluten free bread in the communal EVOO bowl.    Rookie move, Lauren.  The other incident was getting my salad chopped  (that sounds dirty, yet isn't...) through a machine at a chain salad restaurant.  Grr.  CC is definitely the hardest factor to consider.  Most places seem to be able to figure out gluten free food, but if its not made in a gluten free kitchen or area of the kitchen, even, it can still carry some risk.  Even when the gluten free kitchen in question is actually your boyfriends mouth.  Noted.

    I feel like this could be a good place for notes on storage and avoiding cross contamination. Voila. I give you... bullet points:

    • Wheat flour should be kept in an airtight container.
    • Gluten free flours should be stored above gluten containing flours. Go figure.
    • Preferably have a designated gluten free cabinet/shelf which has been cleaned prior to storing gluten free products.
    • Strainers should be cleaned thoroughly, in a dishwasher if possible, if it is necessary that they are shared between wheat pasta/starches and gluten free ones/food.
    • If cooking gluten free and not gluten free foods simultaneously: GF food goes above wheat containing food in the oven. Use separate utensils for stovetop. Make sure GF food does not touch wheat containing food on grills.
    • If possible, purchase a separate toaster, blender and food processor as residue is difficult to remove.  This is the same rationale that warrants investing in separate colanders. 
    • Make your significant other brush his teeth when he gets done boozing with his friends.

    Wednesday, September 29, 2010


    Aaaaand I haven't updated in weeks.  Thanks life!

    Anyway... on to the salad talk.  I try to be a good girl and bring my lunch from home.  Living in a fabulous city in a really fabulous zipcode takes its toll on my wallet.  The restaurants nearby can also take a toll on the waistline.  For that reason, on the days when I decide getting back in bed for a nap after I take a shower is a smart decision, I end up buying lunch a few times per month.

    My standby choice, considering both wallet and waistline, is usually a salad. Usually with popchips or riceworks chips on the side so I feel like I'm cheating but totally okay and within my daily allowances for calories. 

    However, salads are no longer the conflict free choice given the complexities of salad dressings. Some chains (I'm looking at you Pax... You don't even get a link.  There's your punishment.) have zero information on food allergies on their websites.  When I stopped into a location, I was told to just go for a dry salad.  I can think of few things that are less appetizing. I even said - what about oil and vinegar? But they wouldn't guarantee that the containers didn't have a wheat based or containing dressing before the oil or vinegar so that was a no. Which is disgusting when you think about it, allergies or no allergies.

    A few salad commandments that I've learned:
    1. Do not get your salads chopped through a machine as this frequently leads to cross contamination from wheat products and dressings being chopped in the same machine.
    2. No crunchy stuff.
    3. Asian dressings are rarely okay, as they tend to contain soy sauce.
    4. Many vinaigrettes are unsafe due to use of wheat containing thickeners.

    Here are the big chains in NYC, from worst to best.  Pax doesn't even need a detailed listing because they pretend allergies don't exist on their website.  The next time I have a bad day, they may get a grandma-style bitchy letter from me.

    Pret a Manger has information on their website. By clicking specific links on their menu you can read the nutritional content with concise allergy warnings below.  Yeehaw. But if you plan on stopping in, you best check the website because the employees were clueless.  Along side the They seemed more terrified of me having a bad reaction to the food than anything, though, which I prefer to those who could care less.

    Chopt has some pretty amazing details on their websites.  And they have this handy dandy chart, which I stole.  They recommend printing it out to bring into their locations, though they state clearly that all staff, especially managers should be knowledgable on allergy friendly choices.  Below you will see that they clearly list "the big eight" components in all their dressings to avoid any confusion.

    My gold medal in gluten free salad choices definitely goes to Hale and Hearty.  First of all, they have a pdf list of all their gluten free soups!  Of course, the caveat at the end of interesting, though it is at least commendable that they are aware of the cross contamination factor.  The manager that I spoke with explained that the salad chefs now only add ingredients to the bowls, so the counter is not cross contaminated.  She also mentioned that allergic peeps can request that a separate tong for salad ingredients be used to avoid THAT cross contamination.  Thoughtful! I like it.  What was best of all was that I was able to walk into a random H&H location and locate their allergen lists with no questions asked.  On the top of all counters for sandwiches, soups and salads, there is a stand with the day's specials.  On the back of those print outs are the allergen information for each station.  Bravo, H&H! You've won a customer here. 

    Your prize is my continued laziness that results in my patronage to your fine establishment.  Especially the one in Chelsea Market with the ridiculously efficent checkout lines.

    Saturday, September 11, 2010

    Nizza should be called Stupefacente.

    For the non eye-talians in the crowd, Nizza translates to nice.  And stupefacente is somewhat close to amazing (Vittoria, correct me...). Which the restaurant in question, Nizza, certainly was.

    Nizza served up my best gluten free experience so far.  They have a separate gluten free menu that you can request after being seated which was fairly extensive. Several pasta dishes, composed mains, lots of appetizers and soups all GF. And they take great care to avoid cross contamination. Yayyyy.

    We started with an amazing thing called a socca which is essentially a patty of chickpea and olive oil that is thin and baked up to a crisp, topped with prosciutto, gorgonzola, arugula and a balsamic reduction. In a word, amazing.  Hence the title of this post. I honestly fought myself to not go down there the next night to get another one.  It was the perfect size for two to split for an app, too.  As a hint, even to the non GFers, Nizza has many more varietals of socca listed on the gluten free menu. Booyah, wheat eaters. We hold the key. My main was a delightful fettucine (corn pasta, which was super al dente and yummy) in a creamy pesto sauce. Perrrrrfection. The service was great and despite being in 9th avenue wayyy too close to Times Square, there is something romantic and cozy about this place.

    I will most definitely be back. Probably to an embarrassing degree.

    Wednesday, September 8, 2010

    Sambuca - More than your Grandma's Hooch of Choice

    ... If your Grandma is anything like mine, that is.

     I have walked past Sambuca pretty much every day in the two and a half years I have lived in my totally awesome Upper West Side pre-war elevator having apartment.  You might think I'm bragging, but you would definitely not say that if you knew how much rent my broke social worker ass is spending to live in said apartment.  Anystupid, I have walked past Sambuca literally every day.  Most of those days, if I happened to look in the general direction, I'd think to myself - Hey! I should take my cousin here! She is, after all, the family's pioneer of the gluten allergies.  Since her diagnosis a few years back, myself, and several of our second cousins have followed suit.

    A month ago, that thought changed from a casual "hmm, I should go here with Amy" to "EFF a place that serves gluten free pasta and southern italian food that I don't have to go near a stove during this summer of the perpetual 95 degree heat wave to enjoy? sign me up!" My parents were in the city after lending a helping hand and a dozen mouse traps for my darling pre-war and it was our destination of choice.

    They accomodate gluten, dairy and soy allergies with relative ease.  They had gluten free bread, pastas and all sorts of delectable southern Italian composed main and appetizer courses.  They even put allergy safe food on different color plates to guard against dreaded cross contamination.  And they deliver!  I was in the mood for a super rich Carbonara that day, which even after family style sharing it with three (though they had their own gluteny pasta dish that I wasn't jealous of) I got two additional meals out of.  And quite happily.  Damn good.

    Don't be fooled by their ghetto, lackluster website.  Sambuca is g-o-o-d for the gluten allergic and gluten friendly in your posse.  Makes for happy, conflict free allergic tummies all across the Upper West Side.  Only strike against it?  I prefer my carbs separate from my disruptive yet adorable babies.

    Tuesday, September 7, 2010

    Take me out to the (gluten free!) ball game.

    I've had quite a few gluten free adventures since my last post.  My, oh, my do I have some blogging to do.

    The first of which that is notable enough to mention (and rave about) was my experience at Yankee Stadium.  Yes, the new address of greatness (Thank you for that gem, Michael Kay.) is quite surprisingly well equipped to deal with food allergies.  Down in section 125, Famiglia Pizzeria offers gluten free pizza which is actually cooked on its own tray in the oven to avoid cross contamination.  Had we not been late, I totally would have hung out and waited the 15 minutes for the pizza.  Of course, it was already the middle of the 1st inning and 125 was literally across the stadium and on a different level from our seats, so that wouldn't happen.

    To my surprise, all food vendors have nutritional information lists of all the ingredients and allergens for menu items at their station or know who to ask/what was in the food us allergic folk need to ask about.  NY NY Grill fixed me a killer sausage and pepper plate (even if it did soak through its container by the time my doting boyfriend tracked down a fork for me to eat it with). Just like the ballgames from my childhood.  Only thing missing was the bun, which as it turns out, I didn't miss at all.

    Only one thing separated this experience from the baseball games of my youth: the Yankees won!

    Start spreading the news...

    Monday, August 23, 2010

    5 Napkin Burger, I think I love you... for helping me not crumble under the pressure of emotional eating impulses.

    I have happy news to report on the restaurant front.  Another great place to add to proverbial gluten free lists! And a burger joint, no doubt.  More on that...

    My mission is to find at least one good GF friendly restaurant within every cuisine I love (which is pretty much every cuisine in existence) so that no matter the craving, there's no need for a caving in to wheat to follow.

    I keep saying to friends and family when they inevitably ask how I'm adjusting to this change that I'm doing really well BUT (HUGE BUT) I am worried that I am going to have a really bad day and it will all unravel.  And by bad day I don't mean bad eating day.  I mean bad emotional day.  For me, food and emotions have always been somewhat linked.  And when I have a bad emotional day, I feel entitled to eat whatever the hell I want.  Generally this translates to macaroni and cheese from a box or takeout. 

    This attitude runs deep in my veins.  I actually didn't know that not everyone understood the first day of their menstrual cycle as a caloric free for all until college.  And I never felt a smidgen of guilt about it until then either.  Thankfully my parents weren't big on food as punishment (though dessert was withheld if we were particularly obnoxious during dinner).  But they were huuuge proponents of food as reward, celebration, solace, grief counselor, medicine and psychotropic drug.  Food is the center of every family get together, birthday and holiday.  We eat as a family when we're sad (a binge-y trip to Friendly's (which my spell check keeps correcting to Friendless. Heh.) after my Aunt's funeral comes to mind) and when we're happy (uh, the rest of the time).  So naturally, my fear that I'll have a terrible day at work, a fight with a friend etc has been building.  Fearing that I won't have something to satisfy that urge to feel better has been nagging at me*.  A good cheeseburger is high on that list.

    That cheeseburger has been found.  I give you... 5 Napkin Burger. Ground chuck, gruyere and comte cheese and caramelized onions make this thing gawgeous for burger lovers like myself. My boyfriend adores 5 Napkin Burger.  I figured I could make do with some modifications on the Burger Salad, assuming that the french fries would be cross contaminated.  But my server, Christopher, had many surprises up his sleeve.  1. THEY OFFER A GLUTEN FREE BUN (I just about fainted out of joy) 2. All items are fried in separate oil, making the french fries good to go.  The rosemary aioli on the burger had to be nixed, but all the other components were there and amazing. Booyah! Thanks 5N!

    *Author's Note: Hi.  This paragraph makes me sound like I have the makings of an eating disorder.  But fear not, my devoted reader(s?).  I'm mostly exaggerating/referring to the rare occasion that I still want to be mentally prepared for.  These days, I am more want to pick up the phone and bother my boyfriend rather than going for an indulgent fork. Lucky him!! Also, I'd like to take this time to shout out Moishe Gold, my most hard-assed English professor at Fordham who would obviously be thrilled to see my love of parentheticals (and parenthesis within parenthesis!) is still very much surviving. And to see that I'm still making up words. And using parenthesis in the very sentence that I use to be self deprecating about their usage.  Sigh.

    Saturday, August 21, 2010


    I MADE BREAD! See? The little teeny bit I tasted was delicious too.  Recipe to come later.


    Me Vs. The Server

    What I learned this week? I hate asking questions at restaurants.  I've always despised people that made servers' lives hellish, despite the fact that a good friend of mine is infamous for this very behavior. For those of you who don't know about "the shrimps incident" consider yourself blessed.

    I prepare most of my meals at home.  Most weeks I don't buy lunch at all.  And if my boyfriend is traveling or in Florida with his kids, I don't usually eat at restaurants at all.  We spend at least every other weekend together, which is always when I tend to indulge the most (usually on his dime *cough*), even though cooking together is one of our favorite activities.  But recently, the weekends (and weekdays!) between have been full of restaurant outings as pretty much all of my friends are summer babies. On top of that, after a difficult month of May largely spent mourning the ending of a friendship, I had really recommitted to some old friendships that hadn't been on my radar in quite some time. Which quite happily meant reunions over wine and food in restaurants. Which translated to me scouring menus and ordering many salads with oil and vinegar dressing because I felt strange asking questions.  Don't get me wrong, I love a good salad but I love going to restaurants and trying new things/recommendations. It's time to speak up, fo sheez.

    It just feels strange telling my server, friends of friends and others with me when out and about that I have this allergy.  Which is really an autoimmune condition rather than an allergy.  I've always been pretty private about health struggles and this feels no different.  But unlike other troubles, I have to get used to wearing this one on my sleeve so that I'm not sitting at birthday dinners half moping. And reconcile with myself that it isn't weakness or overdramatic to show others that I'm committed to this while turning down their good intentions.

    Monday, August 16, 2010

    Gluten Free Banana Walnut Muffins

    This is generally more calorically dense than what I would choose for breakfast, even with the substitutions, but these should freeze well and served me well on days like today where I was craving a hearty, chewy break from the usual breakfast routine.

    I adapted this recipe from Bob's Red Mill. 

    Prep Time: 10 minutes

    Cooking Time: < 60 minutes
    Serves: 10
    Yield 11 muffins (love when this doesn't add up. thankfully sites like this do the calculations for me.)

    1 3/4 cups Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free All Purpose Baking Flour
    1/6 cup Canola Oil
    1/6 cup unsweetened applesauce
    1/2 cup Brown Sugar Blend
    1/2 cup Egg Beaters
    1 tbsp Pure Vanilla Extract
    2 tsp Baking Powder
    1 tbsp Cinnamon
    1/2 tsp Salt
    1 1/2 cups Bananas
    1/2 cup walnuts

    Nutritional information per muffin:

    Calories 226
    Calories from Fat 68.8
    Total Fat 7.64g
    Saturated Fat 0.57g
    Cholesterol 0mg
    Sodium 163.93mg
    Total Carbohydrate 34.71g
    Dietary Fiber 3.6g
    Sugars 16.82g
    Protein 4.33g

    On the newfound joy/rage of eating gluten free in restaurants

    Saturday night was my first experience eating in an unfamilliar restaurant since taking the gluten free plunge.

    My little brother turned 23 this week, so the family was headed out to our annual celebration at Ruth's Chris Steak House.  A little googling brought me to this site: which left me super excited, figuring this would be no different than my typical restaurant experience pre-GF, since the menu seemed so straight forward and with plenty of options.

    Not sure if it was just my server, but they weren't able to make many accomodations.  As he explained, many items are pre-made or shipped from facilities where things were cross contaminated.  I could take risks with the things on the menu I had seen, but the restaurant "wasn't guaranteeing" anything. Charming! None of their desserts were GF, with exception of the chocolate sin cake.  Except you need to call at least 3 days in advance to order that. Greeeeeeat.  So I sat at the table, pouting, as my family and my brother's girlfriend dug into their respective desserts.

    Used all that angry "I WANT CHOCOLATE" energy to bake my first batch of GF cookies with chickpea flour and xanthan gum when I got back to my apartment. Of course I managed to undercook the first batch and burn the second, but that I think that is more the fun of having an ancient oven in an old building in NYC than it is my error. Or that's what I'd like to think, anyway.

    My awesome friends have been sending me restaurants which cater extensively to gluten free eating.  While I am not a pizza fanatic, I do like to indulge from time to time.  It's such a specific craving that it is difficult to satisfy with much else.  Thankfully my good friend Laura (THANK YOU!) got me this list of NYC pizza joints with gluten free options that a friend of hers who eats GF compiled.

    Mozzarelli's (also boasting gluten free desserts!)
    Risotteria (ditto on the desserts)

    Woohoo! Start your lists!  I am also super excited to share that approximately 75% of Rosa Mexicano's regular menu is gluten free.  In comparison to other restaurants, they are delightfully straight forward, listing separate gluten free menus on the main menu page of their website, found here.

    It doesn't HAVE to be so freaking difficult to eat gluten free and still enjoy dining out.

    Wednesday, August 11, 2010

    Day One... Part Deux?

    So, as you probably guessed from the title of this post, yesterday was supposed to be day one. Note the italics...

    I learned a valuable lesson, which is that gluten is in many things aside from the obvious that resemble grains.

    After excessively patting myself on the back for ordering my favorite sandwich from Bottino's (#11 - marinated eggplant, roasted red peppers, goat cheese and arugula on focaccia!) as a salad over arugula instead, I failed to realize that balsamic vinaigrette likely contains either thickeners or colorants which contain gluten. Greeeeat.  Then, looking back I realize that the honey roasted peanuts I ate as a morning snack "may contain trace amounts of wheat" after consulting with the label. and THEN I notice that the random brand of cottage cheese I got at the bodega because I was too lazy and tired to go to Fairway after work yesterday contained "modified food starch" with a disclaimer at the bottom that it also "may contain trace amounts of wheat." Effffffffff.

    Now, the prudent thing to do would have been to just be to accept that it will likely take time for my thinking to get in line with this new lifestyle, and that even though day one wasn't perfection, it was a vast improvement.  But instead, I ordered Turkish for dinner on lavash bread... with baklava for dessert. Had to get that pissy attitude out of my system, I suppose.

    But, I started going through labels in my pantry and learned that there is gluten in soy sauce (!), pretty much all of my favorite salad dressings and in many, many boxed/packaged goods.  Thankfully, I had long ago pledged to have no more than one packaged item per day, in an effort to control sodium and reduce my exposure to processed shit that can also contain synthetic hormones. Plus, I've been dieting for years off and on to combat weight gain related to a hormonal disorder and love to cook/bake.  So I'm better prepared than most would be diving into a lifestyle change of this magnitude.  I am also blessed to live in NYC, within walking distance of Whole Foods and Fairway, which both have dedicated gluten free sections. Aaaaand my mother is a dietician, who will be amused by the many "CAN I EAT THIS?" phone calls that she will definitely be getting in the coming weeks and months during the big adjustment.

    I can so do this.

    Tuesday, August 10, 2010

    And away we go...

    Here we are. Let's start with the basics. I'm going gluten free for the wellness of my body, mind and soul.

    Or because my allergist told me that I have to, for the sake of my digestive tract and immune functioning...

    As a southern Italian who is very much in touch with her culture's roots (particularly through their starchy foods) the prospect of living gluten free is extremely daunting. What I hope to do with this blog is share the challenges (and hopefully successes) of my transition to gluten free living as well as recipes, gluten free friendly restaurants and dishes in NYC, and touch on the emotional part of the changes that I need to make for my health and well being.

    My hope is that by blogging about my experience, I won't feel alone and that just maybe, someone else struggling with this same change in lifestyle can join with me to make their own gluten free journey a little more okay.