Okay, so that title is a bit of sarcasm. I have been gluten free for about three years now and dairy free for about one year and it has not been all that fun or full of joy.
Going gluten and dairy free was a choice I made due to an auto-immune disease that I have called Ulcerative Colitis. I have had the disease for about 10-15 years. Let me tell you, I was in total denial about changing my diet. I really didn’t think it would help with my issues. And, I did not want to give up bread and pasta and pizza and any and all food I consider comfort food! It sounded way too constrictive!
I had read a number of books about my disease when I was first diagnosed and some suggested diet changes, one in particular was called “Breaking the Vicious Cycle” by Elaine Gottschall and she suggests going on her diet called “The Specific Carbohydrate Diet”. She points out in her book that the microvilli in the small intestine have been damaged and inhibits absorption of nutrients. By avoiding certain foods that aggravate this problem, the microvilli are able to heal and allow proper absorption.
Sounds easy enough right? Not!! At that time, you had to use mail order to get a lot of the gluten free products that are now easily available. It was expensive and certainly not convenient. I chose not to do it!
Fast forward to year 2010, I went on vacation and needed reading material. I picked up Elizabeth Hasselbeck’s book “The G Free Diet: A Gluten Free Survival Guide”. I thought I would see what she had to say, since her book had gotten really good reviews. Her book hit home with me, I could totally relate. Although she has celiac disease she suffers with a lot of the same issues I have with Ulcerative Colitis. I actually felt like I could do it, I was ready and willing to go gluten free!
Immediate results! Less bloating and less digestive issues! It was great and it was easier since the public was becoming more and more aware of gluten and offered more gluten free options!
Couple of years later, with the suggestion of my gastroenterologist and my nutritionist, I gave up dairy. Once again it was much easier now since there are more diary free options to choose from that actually taste good!
I don’t really feel very deprived and I really don’t miss too many of the old foods I use to eat. Knowing the adverse effects of eating those foods definitely keeps me in check!
So what do I eat? Besides a lot of fruits, vegetables and rice (love my rice) here are a few examples:
Grain Free Muffin
2 Tbs Almond Flour
1 ½ Tbs Coconut Flour
1 tsp melted butter
¼ tsp baking powder
2 Tbs water
Mix all ingredients together in a bowl. Pour in separate microwave safe bowl sprayed with nonstick spray. Microwave for 2-2.5 minutes. Cut in half and toast if you desire or just eat as is.
Chicken Breast cooked in coconut oil**also can use fish (cod or tilapia)
2 Boneless, skinless chicken breast
1 Tbs coconut oil
McCormick Chicken Seasoning
Rinse chicken breast and pat dry. Sprinkle each side with McCormick seasoning and salt. Melt coconut oil in a skillet and then add chicken, cooking chicken on each side for about 10 minutes or until done. The coconut oil gives a very nice browning to the chicken! Serve with veggies and brown rice.
Shredded Beef Chimichangas
2 pounds boneless beef chuck roast, trimmed of fat
1/4 cup water
1 1/2 cups beef broth (I use vegetable broth)
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
4 (8 inch) gluten free flour tortilla
3 tablespoons dairy free butter, melted
1 cup salsa
1/2 cup shredded Daiya Monterey Jack cheese
1/2 cup dairy free sour cream
1. Place beef in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Pour in water. Cover, and cook for 30 minutes. Remove cover, and cook until liquid has evaporated, and beef is well browned, about 10 minutes. In a medium bowl, combine beef broth, red wine vinegar, chili powder and cumin. Pour over beef. Cover, and cook until meat is very tender, and pulls apart easily, about 2 hours. Allow to cool, then shred and mix with pan juices.
2. Preheat oven to 500 degrees F
3. Brush both sides of each tortilla with melted butter. Spoon shredded beef filling down center of each tortilla. Fold ends over filling, and then fold sides to center to make a packet. Place chimichangas, seam side down, in a 9- by 13-inch baking pan.
4. Bake in preheated oven for 8 to 10 minutes, or until golden brown. Serve with shredded cheese, sour cream and salsa.
King Ranch Chicken Casserole
1 1/2 pounds of boneless skinless chicken
1/4 cup of olive oil
3 cloves of garlic, minced
4 tablespoons of dairy free butter
1/2 an onion, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 poblano or green pepper, diced (i use green)
2 10oz. can of Ro-Tel tomatoes (or you can use a can of regular diced tomatoes and a 4 oz. can of diced green chiles, or if tomatoes are in season, can use two cups of diced fresh tomatoes with 1/4 cup of diced green chiles, such as a jalapeno)
2 teaspoons chile powder
1 teaspoon of cumin
1 cup of chicken broth
3 tablespoons of rice flour
1/2 teaspoon of cayenne pepper
1/2 cup of half and half(dairy free if you can find it)
juice from 1 lime
1/3 cup of dairy free sour cream
1/2 cup of cilantro, chopped
3 cups of Daiya pepper jack and cheddar
10 -12 corn tortillas
Salt and pepper to taste.
1. Cook the chicken in the olive oil on medium. Sprinkle with 1/2 tsp of salt and a little pepper. (I have also cooked my chicken in the crock pot overnight with these seasonings added).
2. When chicken is done (after about 20 minutes), shred it with two forks and set aside. Should yield about 3 cups.
3. Melt the butter in a saucepan on medium, and add the onions, red bell pepper and green pepper. Cook for 10 minutes.
4. Add the garlic, flour, cumin, and cayenne pepper and cook for 1 minute.
5. Add the chicken broth and cook on low until mixture is thickened, a few minutes. Stir in the half-and-half, lime juice, and Ro-Tel. Cover the pot, and simmer for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
6. Uncover the pot, and add the sour cream and 1/4 cup of cilantro, and add salt and pepper to taste. Turn off heat.
7. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
8. Heat up the tortillas by wrapping them in between two moist paper towels for about 30 seconds.
9. Ladle 1/2 cup of the sauce onto the bottom of an 11 x 7 inch baking pan (you can also use a 9×13 pan but the casserole will be thinner)
10. Layer half the tortillas along the bottom of the pan (on top of the sauce). To make sure entire pan is evenly covered, you can rip some of the tortillas into strips to fill any gaps.
11. Add half the chicken, half the remaining sauce, half the remaining cilantro and 1 1/2 cups of grated cheese.
12. Repeat the layering, leaving the cheese layer on top.
13. Cook uncovered for 30 minutes or until brown and bubbling. Serves 6-12, depending on how big a portion you distribute. Goes great with sour cream and cilantro on top.