Monday, October 24, 2011

Once A Month Cooking

Despite all my efforts to maintain some semblance of organization, I admit defeat in being able to do it all. I just can't. But I made a discovery the last couple months that I think will make eating gluten, soy and sugar free immeasurably easier. It's called Once a Month Cooking. I dare you to Google it. There is a plethora of sites and recipes, literally at our fingertips. I tried it out just for two weeks and the last minute trips to the store for "such and such" were pared down to just one for the whole two weeks. This month I prepared a whole month's worth. I'm trying it out and so far am loving it. Here's the menu I started with:

Chicken Enchilada Casserole
Teriyaki Chicken Stir Fry
Salmon with Lemon, Rosemary and Capers
BBQ Pork Ribs
Greek Lemon Chicken Soup
Ground Turkey and Rice
Grilled Drumsticks
Baked Chicken
Pork Roast
Breakfast Mini Frittatas

I made two shopping trips. One at Sam's Club for everything in bulk, meat, bacon, cheese, eggs, etc. And the second for all the smaller things that go in the recipes that I didn't necessarily want or need in bulk.

Then I cooked about 30 lbs of chicken and pork, (separately) in the crockpot, shredded, and then bagged them in quart sized bags.  I made about 6 meals' worth of spaghetti sauce, let it cool and then bagged in quart sized bags for pasta meals. I put 6 drumsticks in each bag, with different homemade marinades. Since the chicken legs were on sale, I had 6 dinners of those. I made 5 lbs of meatloaf and froze them in 1 1/4 lb. sized loaves, unbaked. I made 3 dozen eggs' worth of mini frittatas for breakfasts. Since we are still using some of our frozen, previously purchased meats that cannot be refrozen, I took a bag of onions, three red bell peppers, and three green bell peppers, chopped them up real fine and then bagged them in snack sized bags. I also bought a 10 lb pork loin from Sam's Club and cut it up into 1 1/2 lb chunks for roasts. When all is said and done, I believe I prepared about 90 lbs of meat. I made two stir fry meals, which didn't pan out. I will have to do some research on how to not kill my veggies by freezing them. I think blanching is required first.

Anyways, because the sales and amount of meat we were able to prepare, this month is almost gone and we still have over 30 meals left. As I post the meals above, I will hyperlink the recipes and try to list all my recipes and steps each month. This process allows me to just pull a frozen meal out of the freezer each morning and it cuts my dinner prep time easily in half. I also have the peace of mind knowing that I put each and every ingredient into the meals myself. My family is eating better and feeling better. And I don't have that mad rush at 5pm when the day has somehow slipped away from me. Some people are gourmets. I am not. But eating gluten, sugar and soy free requires fresh ingredients all the time. This solution is a gift from heaven for me. Maybe it will be for you, too!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Taco Salad

Taco salad. So simple, yet full of pitfalls if you don't pay attention. Did you know that most pre-made taco
seasoning packets have gluten and soy in them? So do some salsas. Chips, it's almost unavoidable unless you make them yourself. Who has time for that? So, here is my rule of thumb. Gluten I avoid 100% where I know it is in something. (I'm still learning what has it and what doesn't.) Sugar I limit as much as humanly possible, but allow small tastes here and there to avoid binges. Soy, I use my discretion. I will eat something with soy twice a week. Which means I have to really be picky about what I'm willing to let slide. If something has all three offenders it is on the "absolutely not, ever" list. Since I seasoned my taco meat with single ingredients, and used soy and gluten free salsa, I'm willing to take the hit on soy for this meal. Herdez salsa is great. We like to drain a little of the juice to make it less runny and more chunky.

EDIT: Target sells tortilla chips that are soy free. Time to stock up. No more limiting how often I have Mexican tortilla chip-based meals. WOOT!

I used ground turkey for my meat and seasoned it with dried chives, salt, pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, and crushed red pepper flakes. And since it is green chile season down here in southern New Mexico, get ready for a lot of Mexican recipes. Coincidentally, I have found that Mexican cuisine is gluten free-friendly as long as you use corn tortillas. Flour tortillas (*sniff*) we have to stay away from.

Anyways, this salad was amazing. Here are my layers:
White corn chips
Chopped lettuce
Ground Turkey
Green chile
Mexican cheese blend
Sour cream
White onion
Diced avocado

Next time I think I'll add rice and black olives. Mmm!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Before and After

I've posted some of my progress as my body has gotten healthier, but sometimes it doesn't really sink in until you can really visualize it. The mental game seems to be the hardest part to change. I've spent the last eight years blaming my thyroid and not appreciating the wonderful gift my body truly is. What I never did was take accountability for my own choices, for the things I was allowing to enter my body. And I don't know, maybe eight years ago when I was diagnosed with Hashimoto's the information might not have been readily available, especially as far as gluten is concerned. But even though my body has changed and I have every reason to feel great about it, I still get caught up in seeing the flaws. But not today. Today, I will no long nit-pick at every little thing that isn't Hollywood-perfect. Because it's me-perfect. I have everything I started out with the goal to achieve, and have completely surpassed it. I'm still not regularly exercising. It's a tough habit for me to form. But I know I'll get there because changing my eating has been even harder and now it comes easier.

Have I fallen off the wagon? Only once. There have been times I've been dragged behind the wagon and pulled myself back up instead of letting go. But I admit to falling off and enjoying flying through the air. But when I hit the ground, it hurt. The stomachaches and tiredness were not worth it. So then I felt like the kid who missed the bus and ran after it knowing he might not make it, but everyone on the bus was cheering for him to run faster so the bus driver HAD to stop at the next stop sign to let him on. I have a great support team of family and friends. My husband is my biggest cheerleader and supporter as well as my children. I have great friends who are even making changes with me. I fell off the radar when my husband was away working for the summer, but I didn't fall off until right at the end of the summer. It's taken me a month to recover and feel good again. Anyways, here are my "Before" pictures. The top was taken at the end of March, and the second about mid-May.

And now, my after. 

This pic was taken just a few days ago, August 26th. 
We had an incredible downpour, so after the raining stopped I went out to celebrate in the river going down our street. It's still a little bit of a shock to walk past a full length mirror, but definitely a pleasant shock. This is the best I've felt in decades. I honestly can't remember a time where I wasn't tired. Maybe middle school? And it's the best I've looked since I started dating my husband 8 1/2 years ago. Bread and candy are worth the sacrifice. Getting rid of processed food is worth it. The extra time spent preparing natural food is worth it. I feel amazing!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Creamy Green Chile Enchiladas

I don't have a picture for this post, but the recipe is so good, I don't think it needs one. I've been trying to find a good recipe for enchiladas since canned cream of chicken and enchilada sauce both have gluten in them. I couldn't find a recipe that didn't call for something or other that I didn't have so I went with what I did.

24 corn tortillas
2 lbs chicken breast
1 cup free range chicken broth
3 cups cheddar cheese
1 chopped onion
1 cup chopped green chiles. (Fresh are best.)
8 oz. heavy whipping cream
1 cup sour cream
3 tbsp olive or coconut oil
2/3 cup milk
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp salt and pepper


In crockpot: cook your chicken breasts and onions in the broth for 4 hours on high. When it's easily shredded with a spoon, season to taste and reduce to low for 2 hours. Toss and continue to lightly shred chicken every 15-20 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350*

Heat oil in a frying pan on medium. Quickly coat tortillas with oil, then stack between napkins/paper towels.   Spread one spoonful of chicken mix on a tortilla, leaving about 1 inch from an edge. Sprinkle with a little cheese and roll. Lay rolled enchilada seam down in your casserole dish. Continue with rest of tortillas.

In a separate bowl, mix sour cream, whipping cream, milk, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Mix well, until smooth. Add in cheese and green chiles. Pour over the top of your enchiladas. Sprinkle remaining cheese on top. Bake for 30 minutes. Buena suerte!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Mango Walnut Salad

The great thing about changing your diet is that it forces you to be open to new culinary ideas. I don't usually think of putting fruit in my salads, but it is so worth a try. This is my new favorite salad! I may be making it once a week. I am not even kidding. This was a collaborative effort. My friend brought the salad part, I provided the grilled chicken and feta cheese. Here's what you need: 1 mango, about 1/2 cup chopped walnuts, grilled chicken, and feta cheese. Y-U-M!
If you live by a Dion's, it went perfectly with a drizzle of Dion's ranch dressing. Ok, I'm going to go wipe the drool off my chin now. Eat up!

Quinoa Tabouli

I guess tabouli is a traditional mid-eastern wheat based meal. It's a cold salad, so it works best if you cook your quinoa the day before and use the refrigerated leftovers. (Hint: quinoa has really good flavor if you cook it in gluten free vegetable broth instead of just water.) I found a recipe at and then used what I had.

2 cups chilled quinoa
1 can black olives
2 Tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup shredded carrots
1 sliced cucumber
2 chopped tomatoes
1 cup chopped spinach
1/4 cup chopped pecans
1/8 tsp cumin

Add all ingredients in a bowl and mix well. It is on the sour side. So use less juice if you don't like sour flavors as much. This was a great dinner for a hot day!

Hootin' Annies with Homemade Salsa

My sister-in-law makes this amazing breakfast, also called German pancakes, when we all get together. I finally asked her for the recipe and we love it. I have to admit, this gluten free version is not quite as satisfying, but it certainly is enjoyable and still a hit with the kiddos. 99% of the family eats these with syrup. I'm the 1% who enjoys salsa with it. And in an effort to cut out as much sugar as possible, I think salsa is a great substitute. Anyways, you'll get a fun surprise when you pull these out of the oven. They puff up on the sides!

Hootin' Annies
6 eggs
6 TBSP Butter
1 cup milk
1 cup gluten free flour mix 
1/2 tsp xanthan gum (if not included in mix)

1 can whole tomatoes
1 onion, quartered
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp thyme leaves
1 tsp dried parsley
1/2 tsp cilantro
1/4 tsp cumin
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp salt

1. Preheat oven to 450*. Place butter in large glass casserole dish and put in oven on middle rack. Make sure there aren't any racks above the dish. Mix the rest of the ingredients in a bowl until there are no lumps.

2. When you pull out the melted butter in the casserole dish, just pour the batter in the dish. Don't mix. Just leave it and put back in the oven. Bake for 15-20 minutes. 

3. While Hootin' Annies are baking, mix your salsa. Dump all ingredients in your blender and pulse for 1-2 seconds until all chopped and mixed. Add roasted green chile if you have it. Fresh is best!

Zippy Twist- if you wanted to do them sweet, with syrup, I recommend trying unsweetened almond milk instead of regular milk for these. My girls loved the added flavor with their maple syrup!

Bell Pepper Stuffers

It's summer, and it's hot.
I don't know about you, but the thought of using a stove when it is above 95 degrees out makes me start roasting just thinking about it. So baking a snack is really not an option in this heat.
Bell peppers are one of those veggies that I forget I like until I have it. 
I went to the Commissary last week and saw some beautiful peppers I had to have.
Slice them up and serve with this cream cheese spread.

1 small container whipped cream cheese
1 tsp basil
1 tsp parsley
1 tsp freeze dried chives
1 tsp dill
1 tsp thyme leaves
1/2 tsp minced garlic
1/2 tsp onion powder
1 dash oregano

Mix well. Spread generously. Enjoy!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Do You Eat to Live Or Live to Eat?

Since I started this experiment in changing my family's eating habits, I have had the expected ups and downs. The ups are fantastic. To date, I have maintained my clarity and energy. I have lost 14 pounds and 5 inches around my belly. I've lost 2 inches around my waist and hips and 1.5" around my thighs. And it doesn't show signs of stopping. I might finally have a fit and healthy body -soon! The implications of the weight loss and other benefits are what really astound me. My body is healing enough to function properly! I have shed tears of joy at the thought. 

My downs have luckily not been as drastic, but are still difficult. I admit that I am not 100% on the sugar yet. I'm doing my best, but I have figured small treats once a week could be ok. It's the binges that are dangerous. I've only had two since I started, but I felt so drained and sluggish afterwards that they served as good reminders of why I am doing this. I had a hot dog at Target the other day. The pain the next day was excruciating. And it's funny, because it was the same feeling I'd just lived with before, but having been free of it for two months, I was a lot less tolerant of it. 

I've also had a rough time with snacks. I was a snacking fiend before I had my epiphany. Like eat a whole pack of double stuft oreos in a few days snacking fiend. Snacking now without hardly any junk has got me thinking in a new way. Because I don't buy junk food anymore, I'm forced to consider veggies, nuts and fruits (basically everything it's not my natural impulse to reach for), a snack. I did find these awesome gluten free veggie dipping chips at Sam's Club. With my favorite french onion dip, they are incredible. By themselves, not so much. But as I look for an evening snack I'm always reminded of why I am eating. 
Our bodies are such precious gifts that God has given us. And they are hardy and delicate at the very same time. They require equilibrium. They require constant care. They house our spirits, who we really are with limitless potential. Is how I am eating helping me reach my potential or holding me back from achieving it?  Am I using and appreciating food as fuel for my body, or am I abusing it and giving in to selfish impulses? My relationship with food and my body is changing, and I have to count my blessings that it is happening now. My self-esteem used to be a lot more dependent on how my body looked. Eating right for my body, eating what it needs and removing what it can't tolerate, has shifted my focus. I feel good about myself because I know I am making good choices. I feel good about myself because I feel so good physically. The weight loss is now a byproduct of the main goal- health! And with three daughters, that is the image of self-esteem I want them to have. I want them to love their bodies and make good choices for their health. I want them to focus on being healthy, not thin. It's a happier way to live. And when you are attractive to yourself, you are attractive to others. 

Food can be a blessing or a curse. We have the power to choose which one it will be for us. Good food, and food that your body can tolerate is the key. Regular, not obsessive, exercise is important, too. If you're like me and snacking is the difficult part, I'm working on it. I'm working on finding good summer snacks and yummy popsicle recipes. So, keep your eyes peeled!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Turkey Spinach Stackers

It's a salad on a toothpick. Fun, right? Grab a handful of pistachios or pecans and go nuts. These were awesome for our family picnic. Since we were out of bread, this was our next option. And having the spinach wrapped inside the turkey kind of "hid" it from the little ones. And muenster cheese was perfect with the grapes.