Monday, March 17, 2014

Paleo Bread: It's all good!

Gluten-free, grain-free goodness!

If you’re on a gluten-free, grain-free diet, and bread is what you’re craving, here’s the solution to your problem:  Bake a loaf of Paleo Bread from (Check out Elana’s Pantry for lots of great gluten-free and grain-free recipes!)

While it took me three tries to finally make a perfect loaf—the temperature control on my oven is out of whack, so I had to figure out how to adjust—it was certainly worth the effort! Fortunately, even the failures—done on the outside, a bit gooey on the inside—were pretty darned tasty.

(The ingredients are much too expensive to waste, so I scooped the semi-viscous slices into a bowl and poured fresh honey-sweetened strawberries over them. They made a fine strawberry shortcake, I must say. I have since used this bread for strawberry shortcake on purpose!)

My magic line loaf pan.
Here’s Elana’s Paleo Bread recipe:

2 C. blanched almond flour
2 T. coconut flour
¼ C. golden flaxmeal
¼ t. celtic sea salt (I just used regular sea salt.)
½ t. baking soda
5 eggs
1 T. coconut oil
1 T. honey
1 T. apple cider vinegar

Place almond flour, coconut flour, flax*, salt and baking soda in a food processor.
Pulse ingredients together.
Pulse in eggs, oil, honey and vinegar.**
Pour batter into a greased 7.5 x 3.5 magic line loaf pan.***
Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. ****
Cool and serve.

*Flax is not on the SCD legal list, but I had been using it successfully on my gluten-free diet, so I made an exception.  Sherry Lipp, who writes another fine blog called “Specific Carbohydrate Diet for Life” (, has also added flax to her diet because of its health benefits.
**I add the vinegar separately as the very last ingredient to get the maximum chemical reaction with the baking soda before I pour it in the pan.
This recipe makes an outstanding panini!
* **“What is a magic line loaf pan?” you ask. Well, it’s a nice little pan that bakes evenly and releases breads easily, and it’s recommended for Elana’s breads. You can purchase it on Amazon for $16—but if you plan to stick to your guns on your diet, it is well worth the money. If its aluminum composition makes you uncomfortable, try the recipe in a different type of pan, but you may need to tinker with the time and temperature some.
****I bake mine at 375 degrees for 40 minutes. It becomes very dark on the outside, but it’s perfectly done inside.

Unlike many gluten-free breads, Elana’s Paleo Bread holds together nicely. It is easy to make, and it actually tastes good. (Really good--good enough to serve to your gluten-eating friends and relatives!)  It makes wonderful paninis (and, if you've read my previous blogs, you know how I love paninis), crispy toast, and great sandwiches. Come summertime grilling season, I will give it a go as a hamburger bun. It’s all good!

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Managing your (gluten-free, SCD, GAPS, Paleo) diet

Nobody said a special diet would be easy, but with determination
and a few little tricks, we can do it!
One of the biggest challenges of special diets, such as gluten-free, Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD), GAPS, and Paleo, is the amount of time it takes to prepare food. Without the ease of pre-packaged, pre-cooked, processed and canned ingredients, you must spend hours on such tasks as cleaning and chopping vegetables, grating cheese, reading recipes and washing dishes.

Now that my children have left the nest, and I’m no longer working full time, I have quite a bit of extra time to devote to cooking, researching, and grocery shopping. The whole diet thing is a new hobby that I look forward to and enjoy. But I frequently find myself wondering if I could have managed the diet, a career, and a busy household at the same time. Even now, when five o’clock rolls around and I haven’t at least gathered my ingredients, I begin to stress out.

From experience, though, I’ve picked up a few tricks to make all that extra work manageable:

Making a Crock Pot full of applesauce
is one of my weekend tasks. 
  • Plan your menus for the entire week ahead of time. That will cut down on emergency trips to the grocery store and eliminate the stress of coming up with a plan at the last minute.
  • Gather your groceries at one place (if possible) and at odd hours. When I was teaching school, coaching, and raising a family, I would often shop after everyone had gone to bed at night or pick up items before school in the morning. Because there are fewer customers, you don’t have to dodge other shoppers and you don’t waste time standing in line. (You also discover an interesting culture as you browse the grocery aisles at your local supermarket after midnight!)
  • Set aside time on the weekend--3-4 hours, maybe--to prepare casseroles and ingredients to use for the entire week. The few hours you spend on the weekend will free up precious time during the week.
  • Prepare large quantities of frequently-used ingredients at one time. Chop up an entire bag of onions at once, for example, and freeze them for use in weeks ahead. Clean and chop an entire head of celery, peel a whole bunch of carrots, and boil a dozen eggs to use for snacks and recipes. (If you’re shorter on time than money, you can even buy these ingredients already cleaned, chopped, peeled, and boiled.)
  • Use frozen vegetables and fruits. The nutritional value is usually as high as fresh (although you might sacrifice a bit of taste).
  • Double or triple the size of your recipes in order to have leftovers for lunch or for dinner on busy evenings. One night a week, you can “leftover night,” and prepare a smorgasbord of all the dishes that are crowding your refrigerator.
  • Plan your leftovers to use in subsequent meals. Early in the week, for example, throw a chicken (along with spices, onions, and celery) into the slow cooker with enough water to make a good broth. That evening serve chicken and a vegetable side dish. The next day, make chicken salad. On the third day, use the broth and any leftover vegetables and chicken to make vegetable soup. If you add a few new vegetables (and maybe an extra chicken breast or two) to the mix, you can even prepare enough soup to have leftover soup for lunch the next day. (One chicken=four days!)
  • Enlist the help of family members. Even your elementary-aged children can wash veggies, stir sauces, fetch ingredients, or load the dishwasher, for example. Your husband and older children can chop and peel and grate and measure. Family time in the kitchen can actually be fun and educational.
  • Use that slow cooker! Load it up with carrots, onions, and a roast before you head off for a busy day, and dinner will be waiting for you when you get home. (I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again: If I had to choose only one kitchen appliance, it would be my well-loved Crockpot.)
In Case of Emergency: Break Seal!
If you’re just starting out on the gluten-free, SCD, GAPS or Paleo odyssey, you are probably feeling completely overwhelmed. My most important piece of advice to newcomers would be to keep trying, to do your best, and to cut yourself some slack if you make mistakes. Take a deep breath and eat a Larabar. (They’re legal on most diets!) With a little time and practice, your new diet will definitely become easier—and your renewed health will be worth all the effort!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Not missing many meals ...

Hazelnut-Vanilla Pancakes from Recipes from the
Specific Carbohydrate Diet (Raman Prasad)
Early in our marriage, Doug and I spent a year in Dallas. On our frequent trips back home to Missouri, we always stopped off in Mounds, Oklahoma for a visit with Doug's grandparents, which always included a good dinner, a sinful number of Grandma's crispy little cinnamon cookies, and often a good night's rest. 

Upon our arrival at their farmhouse near Duck Creek, Grandpa Roller always greeted me the same way: "You haven't been missing many meals, have you?" Doug and I always got a chuckle out of his affectionate salutation, always directed at me, never at Doug. "Not many," I always had to admit.

Everyday Chicken and Baked Carrot Fries
from Mary Plunkett's future cookbook.

When I developed celiac disease a few years back, my answer to Grandpa's question would have changed, were he still alive to ask. Because I became so terribly sick every time I ate, I often had to choose between eating and living my life outside the confines of the bathroom. A diagnosis and a gluten-free diet made all the difference--for a while.

Unfortunately, my symptoms returned late last year, causing me to look for new solutions. As I've related in previous blogs, I’ve been on a strict Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD) for the past several weeks now. The objective of the SCD is to rest your digestive system and restock it with the healthy bacteria it needs to heal completely. While the SCD looks pretty grim for people who enjoy a normal diet with no problems—no sugar, no grains (including wheat, of course), no potatoes or corn, limited dairy—for folks with chronic digestive issues, the diet offers the hope of a return to health.

Mary's Spinach Turkey Frittata.
I have been thrilled with the results I’ve experienced as I’ve navigated my way through the SCD. I’m beginning to have more energy, I’ve learned a lot of new kitchen tricks and tried a lot of new dishes, and my symptoms have nearly disappeared. Sometimes, when Andy’s Frozen Custard or some other forbidden treat is calling my name, it’s hard to maintain a positive attitude.

I’m finding that instead of focusing on all of the foods I can’t have, though, it helps to think about those things I can have. I can usually talk myself into being satisfied with homemade yogurt and berries instead of that frozen custard. And who knew that mashed cauliflower could taste so much like mashed potatoes? It also helps to think about how much healthier my diet has become and what a relief it is not to have to be looking over my shoulder for a restroom every time I leave my house.

Zucchini Lasagna from Breaking the Vicious Cycle, 
the SCD "bible" by Elaine Gottschall.

And, really, I’m not suffering at all, as you can tell from these photos of meals I’ve cooked at home over the past few days. If you’re considering a gluten-free diet, paleo, SCD or GAPS, for whatever reason, I am here to tell you that it can be done. If you experience the same success I've had thus far, you might not have to miss many meals for long!

Monday, March 3, 2014

DO try this (20-Second Mayo) at home!

Chicken salad made with 20-Second Homemade Mayo.
In my Internet meanderings, I have stumbled upon an easy little recipe on a website called that has totally rocked my world—so if you never read another of my blogs again (or have never actually read one in the first place), please pay attention to this one! It’s called 20-Second Homemade Mayo—and it is awesome!

The only requirement is a stick blender and a few ingredients that you probably already have on hand. If you don’t have a stick blender, drop everything and run out and get one right this minute—or you can try using a food processor, blender, mixer, or good old elbow grease (but I can’t guarantee the 20-second prep time.) If you use mayo frequently, this trick will more than pay for the cost of your new stick blender in no time. And it tastes sooo much better!
It's true! It only takes 20 seconds! And then you can add it
to your fresh chicken salad.

Put these ingredients in the cup that comes with your stick blender:

1 egg
2 tsp. Dijon mustard
1 T. lemon juice
Pinch of salt
200 ml of oil (That’s about 7 oz., just under a cup.)

Put your stick blender to the bottom of the container and blend until thickened into mayo (approximately 20 seconds). Makes one cup. It will stay fresh in your fridge for a week or two (but it won’t last that long.)

Store your mayo for up to two weeks in the fridge.
I’ve always maintained that homemade mayo is better than store bought, but it’s a bit of a pain to make. I never use the word “never,” but since I have discovered this trick, I will NEVER buy the store bought stuff again!

If you’re following the gluten-free diet or the Specific Carbohydrate Diet, this mayo is perfect. I use light olive oil for my mayo, but canola or corn oil will work as well.

I have also recently discovered a recipe from for a very nice salad dressing made using homemade yogurt. Again, it’s gluten-free and SCD legal.

Honey, Mustard & Yogurt Dressing

1 C. SCD or other plain yogurt
¼ C. honey
2 T Dijon mustard (Use Annie’s Naturals to avoid sugar)
¼ tsp. celery seed

Whisk together the yogurt, honey, mustard, and celery seed in a small bowl. Refrigerate at least 1 hour before serving.

Your’re welcome!