Chili / Taco Salad

Chili is a well-loved meal at our house. Super simple, healthy, comfort food. We serve it with gluten free corn chips (like Fritos) or tortilla chips (like Tostidos).  Also fantastic paired with gluten free corn bread muffins.  Prepare a big pot, then freeze the leftovers.  We heat up that frozen chili another day for a quick meal “Wendy’s”-style taco salad: romaine lettuce, crushed tortilla chips, chili, shredded cheese, diced tomatoes and a little Ranch dressing (check labels). Both my kids love this!

Here’s my basic recipe:

  • 0.5-1 lbs ground beef
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced, seeds and ribs removed
  • 1 -15 oz can red kidney beans, drained
  • 1 -15 oz can black beans, drained
  • 1 -15 oz can garbanzo beans, drained
  • 2 -15 oz cans stewed tomatoes with juices
  • 1-2 TBSP chili powder (to taste)
  • 1-2 TBSP brown sugar (to taste)

In a large pot over medium heat, cook the ground beef and drain the fat.  Add the onion and green pepper and cook until soft, stirring often.  Add the beans, tomatoes, chili powder and brown sugar.  Stir together well, cover, turn heat to low and simmer for 1 hour, stirring occasionally.

Feel free to play around with the recipe… add corn or diced zucchini, more/less/different beans, more/less beef or ground turkey or pork, etc. Enjoy!

Gluten Free Freezer Meatballs

I found the original recipe in The “What’s for Dinner?” Solution by Kathi Lipp and adapted it applying some gluten-free magic.  Once you have these meatballs in your freezer, this becomes a quick go-to meal for any weekday dinner.

  • 1 lb lean ground beef
  • 1 cup gluten free bread crumbs (I save crusts and heels from my Udi’s Whole Grain Bread loafs and make fine crumbs with a coffee grinder)
  • 1 TBSP no-salt seasoning (I love the Kirkland Signature brand from Costco)
  • 2 eggs

Mix together all the ingredients. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Take heaping spoonfuls of beef mixture and roll into 1-inch diameter balls. Makes about 36 meatballs. Place on cookie sheet and cover with plastic wrap. Keep in freezer overnight, until frozen. Pack frozen meatballs into two 1-quart size freezer bags and store in freezer. To serve, brown meatballs in oil in a skillet, and cook until they are no longer pink in the middle. Use with your favorite spaghetti sauce and gluten-free spaghetti noodles, or try the recipe below.

 

SALISBURY MEATBALLS

  • 16 or so gluten free freezer meatballs (see recipe above)
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 8 oz fresh mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 TBSP butter
  • 1 TBSP sweet rice flour (or corn starch)
  • 1 cup gluten free beef stock (check labels, I like Better Than Boullion – just NOT the low sodium kind – it has barley malt!)
  • 2 TBSP red wine

Brown the meatballs in olive oil. Place browned meatballs on foil lined baking sheet, cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes (while you prepare the sauce). In the same skillet, saute chopped onions and sliced mushrooms until soft. Remove veggies and melt butter in the skillet. Stir in sweet rice flour, then add beef stock and wine. Simmer until slightly thickened, then add back onions, mushrooms and meatballs. Serve with mashed potatoes or gluten-free pasta, and a green vegetable. Super yummy!

Gluten Free Crepes

Gluten Free Crepes

Our little family has a tradition of serving crepes for breakfast on New Year’s Day… ever since we received an electric crepe maker as a Christmas gift many years ago.  Here is the recipe for my gluten-free version.  You can hardly tell the difference.  Hooray!  The tradition continues!  These also make a fun dessert for parties or entertaining.

Using a blender: Combine all ingredients in blender jar; blend for about 1 minute.  Scrape down sides with rubber spatula and blend for another 15 seconds or until smooth.  Refrigerate batter at least 1 hour.  Cook on upside-down crepe griddle or in traditional pan.  Makes about 20 to 25 crepes.

We like to fill our crepes with strawberries or other berries, banana slices, chocolate pudding, and whipped cream.  You can also go the savory route and fill with scrambled eggs, ham, cheese, etc.

Happy New Year!

Gluten Free School Lunches

One convenience I’ll never enjoy as a gluten-free mom, is letting my kid buy his lunch from the school cafeteria.  He will forever have to “brown bag” it.  In his preschool, I was able to send dinner leftovers, which his teachers could microwave for him.  But in elementary school, I need to send him meals that will keep well and don’t need to be reheated.  Here is the standard lunch I send with my son to school (along with my own tricks/tips that help make it easier):

  • Peanut butter and jelly sandwich on Udi’s bread
    • My son likes his sandwiches sans crust, so I cut off the crusts first, and save them to make bread crumbs or bread cubes for stuffing/croutons.
    • If your school is a Nut-Free Zone, use sunflower seed butter instead.
    • For the jelly, try to buy a squeeze bottle to avoid contaminating the jar with crumbs.  Or perfect the “glob drop” technique (Drop globs of jelly onto the bread before you use that knife to spread the jelly out).  Or have a dedicated jar just for gluten-free sandwiches.
    • I actually use an idea inspired by those gluten-full Smucker’s “Uncrustables” freezer sandwiches.  I take a whole loaf of Udi’s bread to make 6 or 7 sandwiches at the beginning of the week, and keep them in the freezer.  Then they’re ready to grab in the mornings as I throw my son’s lunch together.
  • Carrots and dip
    • I’m a carrot stick snob.  I peel and cut up my own carrot sticks from whole carrots.  These just taste SO MUCH better than processed “baby” carrots.  Once, in a pinch, I sent the processed carrots in his school lunch, and my son complained how they didn’t taste very good.
    • I use plain yogurt to make the ranch dip.  Usually I take a 32 oz container of plain yogurt and mix in one package of Hidden Valley Ranch Dips Mix.  This makes a much healthier dip than using the suggested 16 oz of sour cream.  Then I can send in a little portion of dip in something like a 1/2 cup GladWare container.
  • Fresh fruit
    • Apple slices (To prevent browning in the hours before lunch time, I dip slices into a bowl of ice water plus a few splashes of lemon juice.)
    • Grapes
    • Cantaloupe
    • Pineapple chunks
    • Pear
    • Peach
    • Banana
    • Clementine
    • If I’m low on fresh produce, I can send in an applesauce or fruit cup (preferably one packed in JUICE, not syrup!)

I also send in a gluten free SNACK.

Of course there are LOTS of other gluten free LUNCH or SNACK options to do… this is just what works for us.

You may also want to try:

I’d love to hear about your healthy school lunch strategies for keeping your child happily eating gluten free.  Please share with us!

Bakery On Main Instant Oatmeal

I just discovered a new brand of gluten free instant oatmealBakery on Main makes three fantastic kid-friendly flavors:  Apple Pie, Strawberry Shortcake, and Maple Multigrain Muffin.  All are made with certified gluten free oats, plus chia seeds, flax meal, quinoa and amaranth… giving it 5 grams of fiber per serving!  This is the new power breakfast I’ll be serving my son in the mornings before school.

Keep those great new gluten free products coming!  We love them!

Eggplant Parmesan

I received a bounty of eggplants from my CSA share last summer, so I had ample opportunity to perfect this recipe.

  • 1 large eggplant, peeled and sliced into 1/2 inch thick rounds
  • 2 cups gluten free bread crumbs (I use Udi’s bread, which is truly the best.  My trick: Cut off the crusts from my son’s bread before I make his PB&J, grind the crusts into fine crumbs using a coffee grinder, and keep them in a ziplock bag in the freezer.  Gotta be frugal when a small loaf of GF bread costs $5, right?)
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese (check labels)
  • 2 TBSP Italian seasoning
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • small jar of marinara sauce
  • shredded mozzarella cheese (check labels)

Line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil and coat with non-stick spray or a light rub of olive oil.  Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  In a pie plate or other wide shallow bowl, mix together the bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, and Italian seasoning.  In another small bowl, whisk together the eggs and the olive oil.  Dip an eggplant slice into the egg/olive oil and place it in the crumb mixture.  Use a spoon to scoop crumbs onto the top of the eggplant and press down gently across the top of the slice to help the coating to stick.  Gently shake off excess crumbs and place coated eggplant on the cookie sheet.  Repeat with the rest of the eggplant slices and arrange in a single layer on the cookie sheet.  Bake in 350 degree oven for about 40 minutes.  Remove the eggplant from the oven and spoon some marinara sauce over each slice.  Sprinkle with mozzarella cheese.  Put back in the oven for 10 minutes, or until cheese is melted.  Serve with gluten free penne pasta and extra marinara sauce, if you like.  Wonderful as leftovers, too.  Mm-mmmm!

DeBoles Rice Lasagna

Think you need to give up lasagna, now that you’re cooking gluten-free?  Not so!  DeBoles makes these great rice lasagna noodles.  Even better?  You don’t need to boil them first!  Just assemble your favorite lasagna recipe, pop your dish in the oven, and let your family enjoy some comfort food.  I’ve found these available at most grocery stores or “natural foods” markets.  Buon appetito!

Glutino Chocolate Vanilla Creme Cookies

Who doesn’t love Oreo cookies?  These “Oreo” style gluten free cookies from Glutino maybe aren’t so healthy, but as a special treat, they definitely make my son happy :-)  And as far as “imitation” Oreos go, these taste pretty dang close to the original. I actually wish they didn’t taste as good as they do, so I wouldn’t eat so many myself!

Back in our pre-diagnosis days, I hosted a bug-themed party for my son’s 3rd birthday.  One of the games we played was “Put the Spots on the Ladybug” which involved the kids opening Oreo cookies, licking the cream filling, and sticking it to a red poster board with a simple lady bug drawing, like so:

A little bit gross, but lots of fun.  Now that we have an acceptable gluten free alternative, I’m planning to use this game again at my daughter’s upcoming birthday party.

I have also used the Glutino Chocolate Vanilla Creme Cookies for making the “Cookies and Cream Cake” from my “The Cake Mix Doctor Bakes Gluten-Free” cookbook.  This cake turned out AMAZING and is definitely my new favorite.  It was easy to make look good too, with sprinkled cookie crumbs on top of the frosting (I have a pretty disastrous track record with cake decorating).  Now I just need an occasion to celebrate, so I have an excuse to make this again :-)

Easy Massaman Curry

My most favorite Thai dish is Massaman Curry… it is so good you want to lick your bowl afterwards!  However when I tried to replicate the Thai take-out magic at home, most recipes I found called for lots of exotic ingredients that I had trouble finding or working with.  So this is the version I came up with that still tastes delicious and is quick and easy to throw together for dinner.

  • 1 bottle (11 oz) Thai Yellow Curry Sauce from Trader Joe’s
  • 1 can (14 oz) coconut milk
  • 2 chicken breasts, cut into thin pieces (uncooked)
  • 1 onion, coarsely chopped
  • 2-3 potatoes, peeled and diced into small cubes
  • 2-3 carrots, peeled and sliced thin
  • 1/2 cup cashews or peanuts

In a large skillet, heat some oil and saute the onions until soft.  Add in the potatoes and carrots and cover to steam until slightly tender.  Stir in the Yellow Curry Sauce and then the chicken pieces.  Cover and simmer until the chicken is cooked through.  Stir in the coconut milk and simmer for at least another 15-20 minutes.  Add the cashews and serve over rice.

I served this recently at a church pot luck… just omit the potatoes and serve over gluten free penne pasta.  A big hit with both kids and adults!  This dish is the kind that tastes better the next day, allowing time for the flavors to mingle.  So it works well to make the sauce a day ahead and then reheat in a sauce pan or crock pot.  I also want to try adding in a little something sweet next time too, like mangoes or pineapple.

Green Soup

… or you could call it “cream of vegetable soup”… or “I-had-A-LOT-of-fresh-vegetables-to-use-up soup”… whatever you call it, it turned out delicious.

This year I finally signed up for a CSA share (community supported agriculture – find one near you!) where I paid some cash up front and then I get a box of fresh, locally grown vegetables and fruits delivered in town to pick up each week through the end of October.  Ever since reading Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver, Michael Pollan’s In Defense of Food and Mark Bittman’s Food Matters, I’ve tried to buy more locally grown produce in season… and in general to eat less meat and more plants.  So the CSA box comes full of an assortment of vegetables, many of which I would never buy on my own from the grocery store, and that I have never cooked with before either: bok choy, fresh beets, garlic scrapes, etc.   So far, I am enjoying the challenge of figuring out how to use everything in the CSA box each week.

This week we had zucchini and fresh peas!  Some of my favorites.  I loved helping my son discover the joy of cracking open a pod and eating the sweet raw peas inside.  But we also got fresh radishes and arugula.  I’m not a huge fan of arugula in salads, plus one can only eat so much salad each week… so I figured out this alternative way to use the nutrient-packed arugula, the radish greens AND a bunch of leftover veggies.

This soup should work equally well with beet greens, spinach, and whatever other green vegetables you have on hand.  I use Mark Bittman’s general ratios for cream of vegetable soups: 2 cups veggies to 3 cups chicken stock to 1 cup cream.  Go ahead and play.  It’s a very forgiving recipe.

  • butter
  • onion, chopped
  • garlic, minced
  • arugula leaves, washed well
  • radish greens, washed well
  • green onions, sliced
  • potatoes, peeled and diced
  • other veggies (I used some zucchini, spinach, peas, broccoli and cauliflower)
  • chicken broth (check labels - I use Better Than Bouillon)
  • cream or milk

Melt the butter in a large pot.  Saute the onions and garlic.  Add the leafy greens and wilt.  Stir in the potatoes, other vegetables and chicken broth.  Cover and simmer for about an hour.  Let cool slightly and puree the soup in batches in a blender.  Add cream and warm soup, but do not boil.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

We enjoyed this for dinner today with toasted Against the Grain baguette slices.  My son said it was the yummiest soup ever and asked for seconds.  I plan to make some version of this many times this summer with my CSA bounty and freeze the puree (without the cream) for enjoying this winter.

Arugula in soup!  Who knew?