Gluten and Casein Free Diet

My boring blog! My son is starting on the gfcf diet. I want to log all the foods and see if his behavior changes. Anyone who catches me feeding him stuff he shouldn't have or who has advice, feel free to comment.

Monday, November 01, 2010

The Final Choice

I mentioned in my prior post the fact that I had the chance to review "Gluten-Free Girl and the Chef" and I promised to share the recipe I chose.

It wasn't easy to choose just one recipe. There was a cracker recipe I was interested in. I am beyond tired of paying almost six dollars for a four-ounce package of gluten-free crackers.

The cracker recipe contains cornmeal for sprinkling on the pan. Shauna mentioned that not all cornmeal is gluten-free due to manufacturing practices. I immediately checked my bag of cornmeal and read the dreaded words "contains flour." Ugh. I've been cooking with that cornmeal for a while now. While I will probably cook the crackers next, they were not the recipe I chose.

I then eyeballed the recipe for millet tabouleh. My husband loves tabouleh. I made it for him once about twelve years ago, but it didn't come out right. So I was eager to try Shauna's recipe. But I didn't pick that one either.

The recipe I finally tried was pork paprika. My reason for choosing this dish was I wanted to cook something the whole family could enjoy. The recipe itself was for veal paprika but the directions said it was okay to use pork. Pork butt was on sale for ninety-seven cents a pound that week. I only had to buy fourteen pounds to get that deal! Have I mentioned how grateful I am for my freezer?

The recipe called for pork, kosher salt, pepper, EVOO, onion, carrot, celery, garlic, smoked or sweet paprika, Piment d'Espelette (optional), dry white wine, chicken or veal stock, mushrooms, sour cream and chives (optional).

Shauna recommended making your own stock. I haven't done this in a while because I have been sacrificing flavor for convenience. Homemade stock really is better. I usually use carrots, chicken, onion and salt in my broth. If I have celery I add it also. But I added fresh rosemary from my friend Lhia's garden this time. It added a complex and delicious flavor my stock had never had before. It was the best stock I had ever made.

My prior rosemary experience was not good. A friend had made mashed potatoes with rosemary in them and they were disgusting. So I had sworn off rosemary, assuming it was a vile spice. However, rosemary was mentioned a lot in this cookbook so I decided to give it one more try. I'm so grateful I did. Rosemary rocks as long as it isn't in potatoes! Thank you, Lhia!

I had a few missteps with the recipe. The first misstep was when I made my stock. I used my soup pot to make it. It cooked for two hours and I was left with two cups of stock. I needed a quart. So I started another batch and made two more cups.

However, my daughter was coming down with a cold and I thought some chicken stock would be just the thing. She loved it, but then I needed more stock. Finally the light bulb in my brain came on and I hauled the STOCK POT out of the dusty cupboard it had been relegated to. Amazing thing, that stock pot.

After I had my stock, I could start my recipe. Hooray!

I seasoned and seared the meat and removed it from the pan. I sauteed my vegetables, except for the mushrooms and green onions. Then I added the paprika. I used sweet paprika, not smoked, and I left out the Piment d'Espelette.

Then I poured in the wine, scraped the yummy goodness from the bottom of the pan and cooked until the wine was reduced by half.

Next the stock went in the pan. I heated it to a boil and added my meat. Then I simmered the stew until the meat was fork-tender, about two hours.

But it wasn't done yet. After the meat was tender, I threw out the vegetables and set the meat and liquid aside. Then I sauteed the mushrooms, more carrot, onion and garlic for about ten minutes, added the liquid back to the pot and brought it back to a boil. I was supposed to simmer it for another fifteen minutes to reduce it more, but I had been smelling the stock all day and I was too impatient to wait anymore! I know, it was only fifteen more minutes, but I was HUNGRY from those good smells all day.

Rather than whisking in the (tofutti) sour cream, we each put an individual dollop in our bowls with chopped chives sprinkled on top. We served it over mashed potatoes.

The pork paprika was delicious, easily one of the best meals I have ever cooked. My husband commented on the fact he could taste how it had cooked all day, melding all the flavors together. I am excited to see if all the recipes taste this good. I will absolutely be making this dish again and I promise to let it finish the last fifteen minutes of cooking even if my husband has to restrain me with duct tape.

I recommend this cookbook if you are a foodie, gluten-free or not. If you had a dinner party, these are the recipes that would wow your friends. The only problem with a dinner party would be having to share. Thanks for reading!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Gluten-Free Girl and the Chef - A Preliminary Review

I was recently offered the chance to review a gluten-free cookbook and I jumped at it. The majority of the meals I cook are gluten-free and I have a serious cookbook addiction. So I was very excited to get the chance to review Gluten-Free Girl and the Chef.

Normally I wouldn’t review a cookbook prior to trying the recipes but Gluten-Free Girl and the Chef isn’t solely a cookbook. It is also a love story. Since food and love go hand and hand, at least in my opinion, a love story within a cookbook makes perfect sense.

Gluten-Free Girl’s name is Shauna James Ahern, and her chef, and husband, is Daniel Ahern. They met through a dating service just when Shauna had ever given up hope of meeting “the one.”

Shauna tells of their first meeting and how they clicked. She tells the tale of a most interesting proposal and she talks of how she and Daniel shop and cook together.

She tells the story of how Daniel accidentally served her gluten and how after that, he made every dish in his restaurant without gluten. He told her he didn’t want to cook anything he couldn’t share with her.

Imagine walking in a restaurant and not having to explain to the server what gluten is. Or imagine asking for a gluten-free menu and not being handed a single page that mostly consists of salads without their dressing or burgers without a bun. Just think what it would be like to be handed a menu for the whole restaurant with every single item being gluten-free. There would be no more staring longingly at the onion rings across the table while you ate your boring burger patty with no sides. That restaurant would earn my loyalty twenty times over.

I have only briefly touched on the love story. You will have to read it yourself. Now I want to touch lightly on the recipes and the cooking tips.

One of the first cooking tips was on the importance of mise en place. Mise en place translates to everything in place. Basically, it means all your ingredients should be chopped and ready to go before you start cooking. This is actually something I have always done but only because I have the land speed of a snail when I am chopping. I find this is the only way I can have all my ingredients ready to go at the right time.

Shauna also talks about the importance of cooking in season and the importance of fresh herbs. A friend of mine who has a garden very kindly shared some fresh herbs with me for my first recipe. I will share more on that in my recipe review.

This cookbook is definitely for foodies. You know who you are! These are not hurried recipes. These are recipes that will take a bit of time, especially for those snail- paced food-choppers like me. On a night when the kids are yelling they are hungry and hanging underfoot in the kitchen, these are not the recipes I will be cooking. But on weekends or other days when I have some extra time, I am going to enjoy the experience of trying out this book.

Some of the recipe titles sound intimidating. Roasted chicken roulade with goat cheese and arugula was one of the recipes that sounded pretty intimidating to me. However, I looked at the ingredients, none of which I would consider exotic. Then I read the instructions and said, “Ah, I can do this.”

That is not, however, the recipe I picked. Later this week I will tell which recipe I picked and why. For now, imagine how my kitchen smells with a chicken stock simmering on the back burner. I think the word Heaven definitely comes close to describing the scent. Are you jealous yet? You should be.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Shepherd's Pie

This is a dish that both kids like. My daughter likes every bit of it. My son doesn't like potatoes though. When I am assembling the dish, I leave the potatoes off his portion.

This is a New England style shepherd's pie with a tomato base. My mother used to use Campbell's tomato soup for the base. Since I can't do that, I make a mock tomato soup that tastes just as good. As an added bonus, it's cheaper.

Shepherd's Pie

Meat mixture

1 1/2 lbs. ground beef (chicken or turkey is fine also)
1/2 onion diced
1 can corn, drained
Salt and pepper to taste

Mock Tomato Soup

2 TBS Earth Balance margarine
2 TBS corn starch
1 8 oz can tomato sauce
1 8 oz can water
1 tsp sugar or to taste
Salt to taste

Potato layer

2 2/3 cups potato buds
3 1/3 cups gf chicken broth
1/4 cup earth balance
1 tsp salt
Paprika to taste

Heat oven to 350. Set out a 9x13 pan.

Brown your meat, adding salt and pepper to taste. Drain fat. Add diced onion and cook until translucent. Remove pan from heat. Drain the corn. Stir it in and set the pan aside.

Now make the tomato soup. Melt two tablespoons Earth balance in a pan. Whisk in the two tablespoons corn starch. Let cook about a minute. Sprinkle with salt. Then whisk in the can of tomato sauce, the can of water and a tsp of sugar. Let heat through and taste. Add more sugar if necessary. Some brands of tomato sauce are less sweet than others so the amount of necessary sugar is usually anywhere from a teaspoon to a tablespoon. After the tomato soup is done, mix it in with the meat mixture.

Get a new pan. Bring the gf chicken broth, salt and Earth Balance to a boil. Turn it off and put in your potato buds. Let sit a minute and fluff with a fork. If it seems too dry, add a bit more broth or even some water. You can always make potatoes from scratch with chicken broth. Potato Buds are great for when you are in a hurry though.

Place your meat mixture in an even layer in the bottom of the 9x13 pan. Then put the potato layer on top of the meat. Sprinkle the potato mixture with paprika, if desired. Bake at 350 about 20 minutes or until browned.


Thursday, July 23, 2009

Mushroom Stuffed Squash

I wanted to make some stuffed zucchini tonight so I went to the store to get the ingredients. I ended up getting a kind of grayish squash that was next to the zucchini since it was bigger and looked "stuffing worthy".

I've never stuffed a squash before, but it seems to be one of those recipes that can be played with depending on your favorite ingredients. I do wish I had doubled the mushrooms, but my husband and son both ate it. It goes under my file of recipes to keep, unlike the truly horrid crab cakes I made last night. Blech.

Stuffed Squash

5-6 zucchini or summer squash
2 tsp cooking oil
4 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1/2 minced onion
8 ozs of sliced and washed mushrooms - I always buy them pre-sliced, easier - You may want to double the mushrooms.
1 can Italian style diced tomatoes
1 cup cooked rice, basmati preferred
1 to 4 splashes of Worcestershire sauce - I used Lea & Perrins. It is gluten-free in the U.S. - If you want your dish to be vegetarian, leave it out.
Salt and pepper to taste
Basil to taste
Onion powder to taste - probably optional. I had a kitchen "helper" who wanted to sprinkle stuff in the pan.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
Cut off the knobby ends of the washed squash and trim off any blemishes on the skin with a knife.
Place squash in boiling water. Be careful not to splash.
Boil for 10 minutes or until a fork easily pierces the squash.
While it is boiling, heat some oil. Toss in your onions and garlic. Salt and pepper to taste. Stir a few minutes. Toss in the Worcestershire, basil and onion powder. Cook until softened. Remember the vegetables will cook in the oven also. Throw in the tomatoes and stir.
Set aside the pan and wait for the squash to be ready.
When the squash is done, remove from the water and let cool. Once it cools, slice it lengthwise and take out the insides. Place the insides in a bowl. Place the squash skins in a greased 9 x 13 pan.
Now is a good time to heat your oven to 350.
Mash the squash insides in a bowl. Drain off the excess liquid in a colander.
After the insides are drained, put them in the pan with the mushrooms and onions. Then add 1 cup of rice. Taste and adjust seasonings.
Put your stuffing inside your squash. Bake at 350 for 15 minutes.
Serve with rice on the side, if desired. Enjoy!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

You Scream, I Scream, We Scream For Vegan Ice Cream


My very first try at casein-free ice cream was an utter disaster. So I stuck to buying the So Delicious brand for my son. While my son enjoyed it, it wasn't cheap. Plus it didn't have the creaminess of real ice cream.

Recently I did more research. I found an excellent vegan ice cream blog at

This gave me a guideline for how to make vegan ice cream.

I then decided to convert my old dairy-filled ice cream recipe. It called for whipping cream and half and half. Since those ingredients weren't an option, I picked coconut milk for the fat content.

The ice cream doesn't taste like coconut milk. There is just enough coconut milk in it to give it a creamy texture.

I also added some soy margarine for extra fat. For those who can't have soy, I would replace the margarine with 1/4 cup safflower oil or 1/4 cup canola or an additional 1/4 cup of your milk sub.

My milk sub was vanilla almond milk which also contains soy. Any vanilla milk sub would be good. We are big fans of almond milk and it was on sale. So that's what we used.

So without further ado, here is the ice cream recipe.

Carolyn’s World Famous Vanilla Ice Cream

1 can coconut milk
2 cartons vanilla almond milk (You won’t use all the almond milk)
¼ cup Earth Balance margarine
1 ¾ cups sugar
½ tsp salt
1 TBS vanilla
6 TBS corn starch or 4 TBS arrowroot starch

Mix the coconut milk with enough vanilla milk to make 7 ¾ cups total. Reserve half a cup and pour the rest into a large saucepan.

Add the Earth Balance, sugar and salt to the saucepan with the milk.

Heat just until it starts to boil.

While the saucepan is heating, whisk the corn starch into the reserved half cup of milk.

As soon as the saucepan starts to boil, remove from heat. Add the corn starch/milk mixture and stir until dispersed throughout. The mixture should begin to thicken.

Add the vanilla.

Pour the ingredients into your ice cream freezer. Let cool completely before making ice cream according to your ice cream maker’s directions. It is very important to let it cool completely so you don’t end up with ice cream sludge.

Good luck keeping the rest of the family out of it.

Let me know if you enjoy it as much as we did.

Monday, June 09, 2008

An Excellent IEP!

Sammy had his IEP last week.

It was the biggest one ever. He is transitioning from pre-school to kindergarten so his old team was there to hand him off to his new team.

Developmentally, he has made some huge strides. His physical development was last tested in February 2006. Before he tested at 28 months. Now he tests at 54 months. His self-help skills have gone from 22 months to 53 months. His social/emotional skills have gone from 26 months to 46 months. His cognitive skills have improved from 26 months to 53 months. His communication has progressed from 28 months to 43 months.

He will be going in a mainstream kindergarten class. Our local school offers a charter Montessori class and we were lucky enough to get a spot. Since Montessori consists of so much visual and hands on learning, I feel it is the perfect placement.

The school is going to send in an aide for an hour a day. If they feel an hour isn't enough they are going to offer more individual time with him. I didn't have to fight for this. It was offered! I was flabbergasted but in a good way.

He is going in a brand new socialization program this summer thanks to our local regional center. It is a Montessori based social program. His new kindergarten teacher is very interested in attending so he will get to know her and she can observe the program.

It has taken a village to get to this point; it honestly has.

His pre-school has been wonderful. He's had ST and OT at the pre-school and all the other teachers have been awesome.

He has been receiving ABA at home for six months. Within a few months of starting ABA, his teacher was sending home notes stating that he was blossoming at school.

There is, of course, the diet which has allowed him to focus on the ABA and all the other things he needs to know. Without the diet, we would not have come as far as we have.

If you see my son in public, you see a normal five-year old. He is catching up rapidly. His behaviors are so improved.

Give us ten years or less and we will beat this autism label. Just watch us. The sky is the limit.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Offline For a While

To the lovely lady I was corresponding with,

I downloaded your last e-mail. But then my kids wanted the computer. My monitor died while they were on it.

I can't answer your e-mail!

Currently I am on my husband's computer so while I can check e-mail online, I can't get to any of my old ones!