The Peaceful Feast


Product Review: Outside the Breadbox’s Jalapeno-Cheddar Crackers
December 27, 2009, 1:50 pm
Filed under: gluten-free, Uncategorized, wheat-free | Tags:

I had heard of a gluten-free bakery called Outside The Breadbox but didn’t get a chance to try any of their products until last week, when I found the Jalapeno-Cheddar Crackers at Vitamin Cottage.

Oh! Was I ever surprised at how delicious they are! Each cracker so fresh and crunchy. The first thing you taste is cheddary goodness, and then the jalapenos which tingled in my mouth so delightfully afterward. These little babies not only hold their own against the typical supermarket gluteny fare, they far exceed any snack cracker I have ever tried.

Gluten-free crackers from southern Colorado

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Banana Chocolate Chip Bread

This week, my boss bought me a 5 lb. bag of Bob’s Red Mill gluten-free flour from Costco just … because. She’s a lovely person, and I thought I should repay her generosity by baking a treat.

Since she and I share a love of bananas combined with chocolate, and there just so happened to be a banana bread recipe on the back of the bag of flour, I decided to bake up a loaf of bannana-chocolate chip bread.

I’m still quite new to the gluten-free lifestyle and baking was never really my thing even when I ate wheat. Did I mention I live at a high altitude? Can you see where I am going with this? In other words, there was not much of a chance the evening would end with a decent loaf of banana bread. So my plan was not to say a word to anyone and just quietly throw the loaf away if my attempt to repay the boss-lady’s generosity turned out poorly.

The evening’s baking started inauspiciously when the pecans I was roasted to add to the batter ended up charred in the oven. Sorry, no pictures. 🙂

Things got better though. I followed the recipe on the back of the bag, except in one step where I substituted arrowroot for xanthan gum, which effectively replaces wheat gluten as a thickening agent in baked goods. Given my lack of high-altitude, gluten-free baking no-how, you may be wondering, “Peaceful, why go and complicate things?” And that’s a good question. Short answer: Xanthan gum has a laxative effect which I don’t need.

But, the main reason I went for the arrowroot is aesthetic: You know that black slimey goo that forms on vegetables when they start to go bad? That’s caused by the same bacterium that makes xanthan. Ick. No thanks.

On the other hand, arrowroot is a starch derived from a tropical tuber plant that is way thicker than wheat flour. No germs and no reported irritants to the bowel system here.

So how did my banana chocolate-chip bread turn out? Quite well, thank you! The recipe made one large loaf of bread that was quite dense yet somehow airy (i.e., did not resemble a brick). The bread was only slightly dryer and more crumbly than its wheat/gluten-full counterpart.

Next time, I’ll use real butter instead of oil and maybe add another mashed bannana to the mix. After eating a slice this morning, I decided that my banana chocolate-chip bread was good enough to bring to work. I’ll let y’all know what the boss-lady thinks! 😉 UPDATE: She liked it and was surprised at its moistness. 🙂

No Hassle Banana Bread
Contributed by Bob’s Red Mill Natural Foods
Adapted from Special Diet Solutions by Carol Fenster, PhD.
Ingredients

* 1/3 cup Canola Oil
* 2/3 cup Brown Sugar, packed
* 2 large Eggs
* 1 tsp. Vanilla
* 1-3/4 cups Gluten Free All Purpose Baking Flour
* 2 tsp. Baking Powder
* 1-1/4 tsp. Cinnamon
* 1 tsp. Xanthan Gum
* 1/2 tsp. Salt
* 1-1/2 cups Banana, mashed
* 1/2 cup Pecans or Walnuts, chopped
* 1/2 cup Raisins (Unsulfured)

Directions
Preheat oven to 350�F. Grease 9×5-inch non-stick loaf pan. Cream together oil, sugar, eggs, and vanilla in large bowl with eletric mixer. Add flour, xanthan gum, salt, baking powder and cinnamon to egg mixture, alternating with bananas. Beat until smooth. Stir in nuts and raisins. Batter will be somewhat soft. Transfer to pan. Bake for 1 hour.

Serves 10.

NUTRITIONAL INFORMATION:
(per serving)

Calories 310, Calories from Fat 120, Total Fat 13g, Saturated Fat 1.5g, Cholesterol 40mg, Sodium 230mg, Total Carbohydrate 46g, Dietary Fiber 4g, Sugars 19g, Protein 5g.



Peaceful Eating in and around Boulder

In addition to being cruelty free, VG Burgers offers gluten-free options on its vegan menu. I’ve been dining here for about 6 months and it’s definitely got a peaceful vibe going one. Matter of fact, on one wall is a drawing by a local school kid of a VG Burgers factory pumping out peace symbols and hearts. Peace and love factory indeed! VG Burgers is the most peaceful feasting establishment in Boulder!

Last week I was pouting because I couldn’t have some hand crafted Christmas cookies that were going around the office. This week, I’ve got a big grin on my face because Helping Hands Bakery put together some lovely gluten-free sugar cookies for the holidays. Did I mention that I love sugar cookies? Helping Hands is a non-profit organization aiming to “to help enhance the lives of children and adults with special needs in the greater Boulder and Denver communities.” Good cookies for a good cause. Helping Hands cookies are available at Whole Foods.



Tastes Great! What’s In There? Really? You Can’t Tell!

Yesterday, one of my wonderful co-workers sashayed around the office with a red tray in hand, offering each of us a homemade, fresh baked sugar cookie. One glance of the beautifully decorated (she’s one of those perfect people that is great at everything) creations was about all I could take. I quickly averted my gaze, feeling almost a little guilty for even thinking about consuming something so pretty and deadly. I’m sorry, I can’t, I said. Co-worker stared but then recovered, “Wow,” she said, “you are really good at resisting temptation.” She moved on to the next cubicle where her cookies were received with joy.

By the way, I’m not at all good at resisting temptation. In fact, for the rest of the day, all I wanted was one of those cookies.

Later, I explained to her that I can’t have gluten for health reasons in order to alleviate any hurt feelings. I felt good about my decision, but the desire for cookies lingered and so I went to my local Vitamin Cottage and grabbed a bag of gluten-free cookie dough by IMO the best grain company in the world, Bob’s Red Mill. Unfortunately, the cookie dough mix is not featured on its website, but that doesn’t mean you can’t order it online. Go for it!

The mix looked authentic but was a little short on chocolate chips so I added some gluten-free chips that I had on hand. I mixed up the dough according to the directions on the back of the bag but things looked a little dry so I added a sprinkle of almond milk to get things sticking.

I plopped the cookie batter down in rounded lumps on a greased cookie sheet and they turned out great. In fact, better than great! They were actually cookies. Like, real cookies. Like the ones I grew up baking and eating. Oh yum.

(This would be a good place to insert a photo of the finished product, however, I am image-free until Christmas when one of santa’s elves will bring me a digital camera, according to sources.)

The cookies were still soft the next day when I brought them into work. I passed them around to my colleagues: Gluten-free cookie? It was funny to see the way their faces initially pinched up as they politely took the smallest piece possible. Moments later they would be singing praises.

Wow! What did you put in here?

Really? You can’t tell it’s gluten-free!

These are fantastic.


MMMMMMMMMMMMM!!



Gluten-Free First Fruits At A Food Bank
December 3, 2009, 12:07 pm
Filed under: food allergies, food allergy, food sensitivities, gluten-free, wheat-free | Tags: ,

This morning on my way in to work, I was listening to an interview on a local NPR station with the founder of a company that aims to promote urban farming. The interviewee spoke repeatedly about the need to make urban farming — including fish farms — profitable.

I wasn’t listening closely to the interview, so I am not sure if I am describing the company or the interviewee accurately, but bothered by all the talk of business, I turned to my car pool companion and said that urban farming should help the poor as part of its mission. In my church, I said, there used to be boxes and boxes of fresh fruits and vegetables dropped off by food producers at the church office for the hungry to take as needed. I don’t know what happened to these boxes. For all I know, since I don’t go to the church during the week, these fresh fruit and vegetable offerings to the poor, first fruits, may still be around.

Now that the whole nation has been hit by a recession, this compassionate sense of mission is needed especially now. A bad economy coupled with needing to follow a gluten-free diet for health reasons takes a massive toll on one’s budget. I’ve seen my food bill shoot up dramatically since adopting a gluten-free diet two months ago. Luckily, I have a job and with a little simplicity I can afford this diet.

But not everybody can. There’s a lot of hungry people out there who can’t have gluten. Which is why I am really thrilled to learn that a food bank not too far from me is collecting gluten-free food for needy families. Which leads me to wondering if there’s some room at the pantry for boxes of fresh produce for an urban farmer to donate. No need to label these fruits and vegetables. After all, they’re naturally gluten-free!*

*Thanks to Gluten Free Dee for taking the initiative on this and tweeting it. 🙂



Is Paleo gluten-free?
November 24, 2009, 2:08 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: ,

I sure hope it is! The food pictured here makes paleo look really
inviting.



To Eat In Peace
November 18, 2009, 7:03 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , ,

What to eat when food hurts? I mean achey joints, gassy, runny, bowel movements,  weight that won’t come on or off,  the collateral damage in the war being waged against your body.

I’m talking food allergies.  These are what sends you off into the bathroom for a little alone time with the toilet after eating bread, or tomatoes, or ice cream, or other allergens.

Your doctor may have told you that you have celiac, or non-celiac gluten sensitivity, gluten intolerance, lactose intolerance, or an allergy to some common, or not so common, foods.

The most common food allergens are: wheat, soy, fish, corn, eggs, yeast, nightshades, dairy, and tree nuts. Chances are, if you are allergic, you are sensitive to one or more of these foods.

I was diagnosed with gluten sensitivity through blood tests about a month ago, and adopted a wheat and gluten-free diet immediately. I quickly learned that gluten and dairy sensitivity goes hand in hand.  I am about 90 percent dairy free and find that my stomach and bowels are much calmer without it. Same with tomatoes, which belong to the nightshade family. I eliminated that and find that there is less drama in the bathroom these days.

Oh yeah: I have painful bladder syndrome, too, which means both #1 and #2 elimination routes are under seige.  PBS means chocolate, coffee, citrus, tomatoes, and alcohol are all no nos. Not saying that I adhere strictly to this — just that these are not allowed.

So, you may be asking after all this information (almost too much), why blog? Well, why not? I need to learn how to join the clean plate club without killing myself.  I can read other allergy blogs and food sites,  but without a place to put everything I find, all that helpful information goes out the old memory hole. Besides, my family, friends and co-workers get bored real fast with my sharing news of gluten-free this and dairy-free that. Never mind my bladder and my bowels, all this food talk leads them to think I got some kind of  problem, which I do, but they don’t, and frankly, they can do without hearing about it.

So, all who have stumbled upon this blog, if you’re still reading … welcome.  Please be at home here. Drop me a line about what brought you to my blog. Pull up a chair. Consider this a neutral zone in the food wars — I don’t advocate a vegetarian diet, or a low-carb diet, or this diet or that.  I’m not a nutrition counselor or a medical doctor. I’m just trying to find food that doesn’t hurt. If that’s what you want, cool, let us then help each other feast in peace! 🙂