Monday, June 23, 2014

Crock Pot crackpot

"Clean Out the Vegetable Drawer" Day at the Rollers'. Add  some spice
and a little stew meat and supper's ready in about eight hours. Yum!
Almost weekly someone asks me what I do with all of my time, now that I’m retired. That’s a tough question to answer. I usually say I’m busy traveling, volunteering, spending time with my grown children, or playing tennis. Those activities do take up a lot of my time.

But to be perfectly honest, I spend most of my time these days thinking about, preparing, researching, reading about, writing about, and eating FOOD! I guess I’m lucky that my celiac disease symptoms didn’t manifest themselves (in a manner that I couldn’t ignore, that is) until the summer after I taught my last class and coached my last tennis match and sent my last child out into the world.

I can’t imagine how overwhelming it would be to manage a job, a family, extra activities, and a gluten-free diet all at the same time. My heart goes out to those who find themselves in such a position.

My best piece of advice for busy families on gluten-free diets is to USE A SLOW COOKER to prepare your evening meals. It’s easy to throw veggies, meat, a few seasonings, and a little liquid into your Crock Pot in the morning before you start your day. You can’t really make a mistake—and you will thank yourself at the end of the day when you don’t have to figure out what to cook. If possible, double your recipes so that you will have great gluten-free leftovers for another meal—and you’ll be thanking yourself again the next day.

If you don’t like to go “freestyle” as I did just this morning, there are a number of gluten-free cookbooks, websites, and Pinterest boards out there where you can find great slow cooker recipes—or you can easily modify almost any recipe from your favorite slow cooker cookbook to be gluten-free. Here are just a few of the dozens of good slow cooker sources:

Chrissy Gower, Paleo Slow Cooking
Ellen Brown, Gluten Free Slow Cooking
Carrie S. Forbes, The Everything Gluten-Free Slow Cooker Cookbook
Lisa Stewart and Jeremy L., Gluten-Free Slow Cooker Cookbook: Gluten Free Diet Made Easy (This one I bought for my Kindle for $.99 on Amazon—and there are lots of $.99-ers available.)

I use my slow cooker year-round, but I’ve found that summer is the perfect time to create slow cooker meals, because a Crock Pot won’t heat up the house the way an oven or stove will. Your slow cooker will also afford you the flexibility to play another set of tennis, work a little longer in your garden, or stay an extra hour at the pool on these wonderful summer afternoons.