Gluten Free Livin’- Again

It feels pretty weird to write a blog that is all about me… to be honest, I don’t really like doing it.  However uncomfortable though, I thought I would like to share a little of what’s been going on with me and give some background for you before I start sharing Gluten Free Recipes that left you wondering… what the heck?

About 7 years ago I was plagued with constant stomach pain and anxiety.  Even then I wasn’t quite sure which was a symptom of which.  Finally, through many, many doctor visits, including an intestinal biopsy, a visit to an allergist, a chiropractor, and multiple different restrictive diets, I came out with a very loose diagnosis saying that I was gluten intolerant or had a gluten sensitivity.  The prescription= a gluten free lifestyle and some mild intestinal muscle relaxers to help with some digestive issues (namely- IBS).  This gluten free diet was the only thing that seemed to alleviate my symptoms and so although I was very sad to leave many of the foods I loved,  I was SOLD.  After living this way for around 9 months my doctor recommend that I try to gradually add gluten and wheat products back into my diet and see what happened.  I was TERRIFIED!  If any of you struggle with gluten sensitivity you know that after being gluten free for a time the idea of introducing it back into your body is enough to give you a stomach ache.  But I did, and slowly but surely I was able to handle it and even eventually got back to my old “normal” diet.  In the back of my mind were always the words of my doctor saying that some people just don’t digest gluten as well as others and to be aware and sensitive to my body… I have definitely taken this precaution into consideration noting that when my life got a little high stress, my stomach was the first to go.  I would generally steer clear of wheat products until the stressful situation was taken care of and that seemed to help. This has been my general approach for the past 5 years and that gets us to the past few months.

After having a stomach ache every night for about a week followed by some brief episodes of heightened anxiety, I started to try to figure out what was going on.  The symptoms immediately transported me back to 5 years ago and I was almost positive I was dealing with a relapse of sorts.  Sure enough when I looked up gluten sensitivity/intolerance it said that symptoms can be exasperated by high stress, lack of sleep and pregnancy. AH HA!  My main symptoms tend to be anxiety, stomach issues and a hard time sleeping… what a catch 22!  Without looking back I have jumped into my old GF life again.  I need more than ever to be on my game to chase my 2 little ones around.  Now looking back over my pregnancy I can see that all of the normal signs were there, but due to being so hungry and having been so sick for the first half of the pregnancy, I had discounted the almost daily stomach aches and never steered clear of foods that I knew could be adding to the problem.   I think I could have caught this sooner, but was focusing so much on my drastically different life with 2 kids, a new house, and summer traveling that I overlooked it for months.

As I attempt to feel better both physically and emotionally I  will try to share I little of what I am finding to feed my body.  I know that more and more people are attempting a gluten free lifestyle due to the fact that stomach and head issues are so hard to diagnose.  It is amazing how diet can truly change everything about you.  The way you look, feel, your mental state, your energy level, how well you sleep,  the condition of your skin… the list goes on.  Here’s hoping this diet= HEALTH for me!  I know that many of my friends and family struggle with some or all of the same issues as me- as my form of moral support I’m going to try to share some yummy GF recipes that feed my soul and keep me feeling good!  Last time I was sick I lost so much weight because there wasn’t much out there in the form of Gluten Free products… this is SO NOT THE CASE NOW!  I do not doubt that a few extra pounds will find me as I taste test all of the wonderful products now available at Sunflower Market, Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, even the normal grocery store and a handful of restaurants in town.  If any of you have any experience in the Gluten Free life please feel free to pass on your favorite products and recipes!  This actually might be a little fun!

My Number 1 Gluten Free Dessert LOVE!

All flavors are Gluten Free *except English Toffee and Cookies and Cream

YO-KEVA… IF you haven’t ventured into a Keva Juice lately, you should.  We have recently added frozen yogurt that is WONDERFUL!  4 flavors are offered at a time (flavors change on Thursdays and Sundays) along with 20 different delicious toppings!  The yogurt is self serve, thirty nine cents an ounce AND after 7 p.m. it is half off!  Also, if you go in and ask for EXTRAS (the flavors that they have recently changed out that have been packaged and frozen) they are half off ALL THE TIME!

That said, here is my first GF dessert!:

1 Package of Glutino Chocolate Vanilla Creme Cookies (bought at Sunflower Market) – finely crushed

1/4 cup butter- melted

Mix and press into a 9 inch pie pan and cook on 350 degrees for 10 minutes. Let cool.

Put 1 full 24 ounce container of Yo Keva Extra’s (in this case Irish Mint) into your Kitchen Aid Mixer along with mini-chocolate chips (or candy of your choice) and mix until smooth.  Then spoon into your crust, cover with Cool Whip or Whip Cream and freeze for about 3 hours until set!

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Summer Orzo Antipasto Salad

Now that it’s officially BBQ Season it’s time to break out the fresh, light side dishes. This salad combines all of my favorite antipasto ingredients in an easy to eat pasta salad that goes great alongside a juicy burger or brat! It is easy to make, can be served chilled or room temperature and tastes just as good (if not better) the second day! I think olives, red onion and garbanzo beans would be good additions to this recipe as well.

Summer Orzo Antipasto Salad:

  • 2 cups Orzo prepared according to package instructions then chilled (makes about 5 cups cooked pasta)
  • 1 (8.5 oz.) can artichoke hearts, drained and sliced
  • 1 stick pepperoni or salami, diced
  • 1 c. Monterey Jack or Provolone cheese, diced
  • 1 pt. cherry or grape tomatoes cut in half
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • ½ cup toasted pine nuts

Toss all ingredients (except dressing) in a large bowl. Add dressing and toss. Transfer all to a large bowl. Refrigerate for at least one hour

ANTIPASTO DRESSING:

  • 3 med. cloves garlic, crushed or grated
  • 3 tbsp. chopped fresh basil
  • 1/2 tsp. oregano
  • 1 tbsp. fresh parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
  • pepper to taste
  • 1/4 c. balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 c. red wine vinegar
  • 1 c. olive oil

Check out this and more yummy recipes at Chow City!


March 26, 1989

Happy 21st Uncle Kev!  We were so excited to FINALLY initiate our baby brother into the 21 club!  Wow- makes me feel really old… Here are a few pictures from the before (Vegas that is) party!  Tugger took all his guys to Las Vegas for the weekend to really ring in the 22 year… we are all anxiously awaiting those pictures and hoping they are family friendly enough to post!

Kev and Mom

Kay, Kev, Ava and Bernie

Awww…

Kev’s birthday cake request was for something resembling the old ‘dirt and worms’ dessert… anyone remember that one from like first grade?  Chocolate pudding, worms, whipped cream and oreo crumbs???

Kev didn’t really think through the whole blow as hard as you can to get all of your candles out… the table and photographer (me) were covered in those cookie crumbs 🙂

I wasn’t sure if everyone would be as enthusiastic about the gummy worm part of the pie as KT, so they just  hung out on top 🙂

When it comes to dessert I have a really hard time not improvising— so here’s my (grown-up) version of ‘dirt and worms’:

Wormy Pie

  • 1 package (8 oz) mini oreos, crushed
  • ½ sleeve graham crackers, crushed (set aside one ½ to one cup of the cookie crumbs to top pie with)
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Combine crushed cookie wafers with melted butter and press onto bottom and up sides of a greased 9-inch pie pan. Bake in oven for 10 minutes. Let cool.

Layer 1

  • 1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 cup frozen whipped topping, thawed (save the rest of the container to top the pie with)

In a bowl, beat cream cheese and confectioners’ sugar and cocoa until smooth. Fold in 1 cup whipped topping. Spread over crust. Put in fridge to set while you make the next layer.

Layer 2

  • 2 cups cold milk
  • 2 package (3.9 ounces each) instant chocolate pudding mix

In another bowl, whisk milk and pudding mix for 2 minutes. Spoon over cream cheese layer. Refrigerate for 15 minutes or until set.

Layer 3

(I think for next time I would do this layer closer to the crust- maybe after the cream cheese layer- because it sets up much firmer than the pudding)

  • 1 bar (4 oz) dark chocolate -I used Dove
  • Equal amount of Heavy Whipping Cream (about a third cup)

Put cream in a microwave safe glass bowl and heat on high for 2-3 minutes, until just about to boil.

Put chocolate in a medium sized glass bowl and pour hot cream over.

Let sit for a minute or two then stir until completely smooth.

Just freeze the ganache for a few hours until very firm, then whip in your electric mixer, about 5 minutes, until fluffy. Be careful not to over-whip the ganache, however, or you’ll end up with chocolate butter!

Refrigerate until set.

Layer 4

Spread remaining whipped topping over entire pie

Top with reserved cookie crumbs and (if you are making this for a child) Gummy Worms!