Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Cuckoo for Corncakes

Making delicious gluten-free cornbread pancakes is easy using cornbread mix!
Before I had to adhere to a gluten-free diet (because of celiac disease), my family occasionally enjoyed corn pancakes—the kind you can whip up using the little blue boxes of Jiffy Cornbread Mix. Those pancakes were one of the things I was unhappy to part with—along with real cinnamon rolls, French bread, most Springfield cashew chicken, cheese enchiladas at Mexican Villa, and those wonderful biscuits they serve at Red Lobster. (Unfortunately, there is a host of other “delicacies” on my “Unhappy to Part With” list as well.)

During the Christmas holidays, however, I had an epiphany. (No, not the religious kind.) As I was checking out the gluten-free staples in my pantry to see if I had ingredients for pancakes, my eyes rested on a box of Krusteaz Gluten Free Honey Cornbread Mix that I had picked up on a whim from Big Lots (which actually carries many gluten-free food items, by the way). Most people probably figure this out much sooner than I (the mix was slightly beyond its expiration date), but—Eureka!—it suddenly occurred to me that I could use this mix to simulate the Jiffy Mix kind.

My poor, patient family indulged me in this experiment Christmas morning. Doug cheerfully took charge of the griddle, while I pulled out every topping I could scrounge up. (Jenna even added the dark chocolate M&Ms she had received in her stocking, which we normally might have frowned upon, but—hey—it was Christmas.) While the result was not exactly a religious experience, the pancakes weren’t half bad, and I’ll be using this recipe again.

Gluten-Free Corn Pancakes

1 15-oz. box GF cornbread mix
1 C. GF Bisquick mix (or other baking mix containing baking powder)
2 eggs
2 C milk
2 T. oil of choice (or leave it out)

  • Spray a skillet or griddle with cooking spray (if necessary) and preheat to medium high.
  • Whisk together cornbread mix, Bisquick, eggs, milk and oil until smooth.
  • Pour approximately ¼ C. batter into skillet and cook pancakes until bubbles form on top and bottom is browned. Flip the pancakes and cook until the other side becomes brown.

This recipe will feed 6 people—or, in our case, 4 people showing no restraint.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Pumped for Pumpkin

Pumpkin dip with gluten-free ginger molasses cookies:
Next best thing to Grandma's pumpkin pie!
Nothing says “Thanksgiving” like pumpkin pie. But if you have celiac disease, pumpkin pie, at least the kind that Grandma makes, is out of the question. Sure, you can make your own gluten-free pumpkin pie crusts or you can even purchase pre-made GF crusts in the frozen foods section of your local health food stores. Somehow, those crusts never “pan out” for me.

I’ve stumbled upon a great work-around for pumpkin pie, though. I was in Mama Jean’s (a lovely health food store in Springfield, MO) a few weeks ago, and a young woman was handing out samples of pumpkin dip with WOW Baking Company’s Ginger Molasses Wheat & Gluten Free Cookies (and these are like the kind of cookies Grandma makes). Oh, sweet mother of pearl! I don’t know if I was starving to death at the time or what, but when I tasted that combo, I thought I’d died and gone to heaven! I’ve made the dip twice since then, the first time with the recipe she gave me and the second time from my memory of the recipe, which I seem to have misplaced. (Yes, I’ve misplaced both my memory and the recipe, so read it how you will.)

Anyway, here’s the approximation to her recipe (which turned out to be mighty tasty, if I say so myself):

Wow Cookies are good
even without the dip!
Pumpkin Dip

1 8-oz. pkg. cream cheese (I used 1/3 less fat variety), softened
2 C. powdered sugar
1 15-oz. can of pure pumpkin (not pie filling)
1 T. cinnamon
1 T. pumpkin pie spice

Blend the cream cheese and powdered sugar together until smooth. Gradually mix in the pumpkin. Then add the cinnamon and pumpkin pie spice and mix well. (I like my dip with lots of spice, but don’t hesitate to cut back on the spices a bit, if you prefer.) Chill before serving (if you can wait that long). Serve with gluten-free ginger snap cookies or apple slices.

Enjoy! And have a Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Lessons learned

Almost any vegetable can be roasted.
Just coat them in a little olive oil, and
give them a little shake of seasoning.
Spread them on baking parchment and pop
them in the oven at 400 degrees. These kale
chips roast in about 5-6 minutes. Delicious!

Thirty days without dairy, sugar, grains, or alcohol—those foods one gives up on a Whole30 diet—was a good experience for me. Turns out, I didn’t lose a significant amount of weight, but my pants certainly fit better after thirty days of avoiding those foods. (I wasn’t dieting to lose weight, but rather to find out what things might be causing ongoing food issues; I didn’t really feel disappointed that the scales remained steady. Many people do testify to losing lots of weight on the diet, though.)

What the Whole30 did teach me was the following:
  • I am allergic to blueberries. And I’m not alone. Allergic reaction to blueberries—mine was a very obvious case of hives—is a Thing. Who knew? My theory is that I was eating so many blueberries and other fruits and vegetables high in salicylates that my system was saturated—and I reacted.
  • I also discovered that bell peppers cause me to spend a lot of time in the restroom. The same is true with an overload of leafy greens.
  • I don’t need sugar. Sugar cravings go away in a few days. In fact, my first taste of sugar after the diet was unpleasant. It felt like that time I overindulged on glazed donuts at an early-morning faculty meeting and to this day can no longer smell or look at them without becoming a little queasy. I’m not giving up sugar forever, but I will definitely be cutting back on it.
  • Besides being naturally gluten-free, whole foods taste wonderful! (My best tip: Roast your veggies.  All of them. It’s easy. It’s delicious. Just cut the vegetables to a uniform size, drizzle them with a little olive oil, sprinkle on some salt or other seasoning, and roast them on the top shelf of your oven at about 400 degrees. When they begin to blacken a bit, they're ready to eat! The time varies according to the vegetable.)
  • I will never again make processed food a staple of my diet.

The most important lesson I learned, which relates to celiac disease, is that there can be multiple causes for celiac-type symptoms. When you have celiac disease, you tend to believe that every little digestive issue is a result of being “glutenized.” (Consequently, you play the blame game every time you have an upset.) For me, accidental ingestion of gluten isn’t always the cause of my problems—and the Whole30 revealed that to me.

Whether or not you have celiac disease, you might want to give the Whole30 a try. You are guaranteed to learn lessons about your relationship with food--and you might even make some lasting positive changes.