Some time ago, I made a conscious decision to further transform how I eat and to expose my children to more naturally gluten-free foods, like fresh vegetables. It’s amazing how a naturally gluten-free diet is so much easier on your pocketbook! Fruits and veggies have always been a part of our diet, but probably not enough or definitely the wrong kinds, like canned green beans! The BPA levels found in many in canned goods have been alarming to me.
The biggest problem I have had moving forward, has been my own personal taste preferences. If you have been reading my blog for long, you may recall the Great Brussels Sprouts Caper, or my reference to what I call the “dirt vegetables,” like beets. I am the product of the foods I grew up on, canned or boiled veggies, processed foods like Kraft Mac and Cheese, Chef Boyardee canned “stuff” (really, that’s what my sisters and I called it growing up, “Mom, can we have some canned stuff for lunch?”), bologna, chips, you name it. My mom did make us eat our vegetables mind you, but it was always a struggle to get us to eat them and I have a sneaking suspicion is was because how they were prepared. Those were the days before the internet or the Food Network though and if you do not know that things can be made better, why would it occur to you to try?
The journey to eating better has been a series of baby steps for us, but at least we are moving forward in the right direction. It started out with remaking popular convenience foods at home to be gluten-free (and by default, eliminating most of the chemicals, etc.). This step was valuable for two reasons, most importantly having foods that were familiar from my gluten-days allowed me to finally come to terms with my celiac diagnosis and quit cheating (remember, I do not have the “classic” symptoms of CD, like gastrointestinal issues, to serve as a physical reminder as to why one should not cheat! I presume that is due to the DH, which I strongly believe came first and I know showed up when I was about 15). Anyway, once I achieved the insurmountable goal of acceptance, and started blogging to share the copycat recipes I had discovered, I made many new blogger friends from all walks of life, who have taught me all sorts of great ways to prepare fresh vegetables and most importantly, they have encouraged me to at least try. So… why not?
A couple of months ago after watching Food, Inc. (Surprise! That movie has given me some sort of fever, I tell you), I discovered this thing called the CSA program. I genuinely had never heard of it before and my curious side took over… I had to try it. Each week, we get a box of fresh, organic, mostly-local produce delivered to our door. When I signed up for my local chapter, Los Poblanos Organics, I had the option to pick one item that I did not want to receive and the rest is whatever is in season. I also had to pay up front, which proved to be a big incentive for actually trying the vegetables that showed up on my doorstep each week.
An interesting thing started to happen, my kids started to look FORWARD to getting their “fruit and veggie present!” I kid you not, if I had purchased any number of the vegetables that we’ve received at the grocery store and simply prepared them… they would have fought me every step of the way (okay, Luke would have. Sam is much more open minded about trying new things… and he LOVES Brussels sprouts!). There is definitely something (at least with my brood) to seeing real vegetables and where they “should” come from, that has opened their minds to actually eating them!! Mike and I are so thrilled with what we have witnessed, we have taken the plunge into gardening!
Anyway, I have fallen head-over-heels for Swiss Chard, click here for some awesome health benefits of eating chard. I even eat it raw/plain (as in no fattening Ranch Dressing), in salads, and on sandwiches (instead of the usual lettuce). I am not sure if I would have always liked it (had I ever had it before a month or so ago), or if this is a result of my taste buds changing after removing many processed foods from my diet. Holy Moley, even Luke likes it!! Sam does too, but he also likes Brussels sprouts, so his opinion doesn’t count, LOL! One thing that I do with my kids at meal time, rather than force them to clean their plate (which I think can lead to overeating issues later in life), is to enforce my “one bite for each year of your age” rule. Sam must eat 7 (he’s only 6 1/2 but I “round up”) bites of each thing I put on his plate (Luke must have 3 bites) in order to get down from the table and qualify for dessert (which I have been sneaking veggies into!). This does two things for me, one, there is a lot less fighting to get them to try something (since they know they don’t have to eat it all in order to get dessert) and it ensures that they are consistently exposed to the healthy flavors of real foods, taste buds do evolve! Click here for an article on “How to get kids to love leafy greens”
One of the first recipes I tried (which left me wanting more) was a “recipe” (it’s really more of a method) that I found on Effortless Eating, the following is Elizabeth’s method, which I will try to break down into recipe format. I added a small twist to it at the end (fresh squeezed lemon juice).
Rainbow Chard Sauteed with Mushrooms
1 “bundle” of Rainbow Chard, leaves stripped from the stem and roughly chopped. Elizabeth also cut and sauteed the stems, which I didn’t do in the photos below but I do now. (If this is a new veggie for you or your child, I definitely recommend chopping into smaller pieces, about 1-inch, to avoid any “texture” issues)
3 fresh Garlic Cloves, minced (I used 4 because I anticipated needing the strong flavor to “hide” the bitter flavor of green leafy vegetables. Not necessary but garlic also has some great health benefits, so go for it! I recently saw a great blog post on Simply Sugar and Gluten Free about how to make and freeze your own garlic paste! I am all over that great tip!!)
1 small package Fresh Mushrooms, cleaned and stems trimmed (or however you like to prepare them, click here for more info on cleaning and preparing fresh mushrooms. I left mine whole, but you can also slice them.).
Olive Oil for sauteeing
Salt and Pepper, to taste (Elizabeth also added freshly grated Nutmeg)
Grated Parmesan Cheese, to taste
Fresh Squeeze Lemon Juice (I used the juice of 1/2 Lemon)
- If you are new to cooking fresh mushrooms, click here for another good guide.
- Personally, I clean my mushrooms by spritzing them with an organic fruit and veggie wash, then rinse in cold water. Then, I trim the woody ends off of the stems.
- In a saute pan, set to medium heat, add some olive oil (I used about a tablespoon).
- If you are using the chard stems, start sauteing these first as they will take longer to soften up. I didn’t use them, so I added the mushrooms first.
- Once the mushrooms were ready, I added the garlic. I don’t like to add the garlic with the mushrooms in the beginning because the garlic can get bitter if overcooked. This is also where I added a sprinkle of Kosher Salt.
- Add the leaves of the chard and allow to wilt.
- Once the chard wilts, add fresh squeezed lemon juice.
- Top with Parmesan cheese (to taste, I probably add a couple of tablespoons)
Did you know that King Arthur Flour now has a gluten-free line of mixes? Check out Kim’s (a.k.a. my “GF CNN”) review over at Gluten-Free Is Life.
I want to try something new today and share with you some of my favorite gluten-free blogs and the recipes I have on my “list” to try!
Like Pound Cake? Check out Jeanne’s post on the Four Chickens blog, “Coffee Cake Friday: Honey Vanilla Pound Cake, Gluten-Free.” And while you’re there, look at her Gluten-Free Puff Pastry (including a tutorial!).
One of my favorite blogs is “Tasty Eats at Home.” Check out Alta’s Gluten-Free Fried Ice Cream! Yummy… I must make that! Another recipe of Alta’s that I want to try is for her Gluten-Free Churros, I live in New Mexico and Churros are everywhere. Sam used to love them and those have been one of the things he misses most from his gluten days.
Maggie over at She Let Them Eat Cake, made a recent post that included a recipe for homemade (and super healthy) Spaghetti Sauce. Maggie even offers up a lot of great ideas to try in homemade pasta sauce, like sneaking in added veggies. Right up my alley!
Looking for homemade gluten-free pasta inspiration? Check out this post from Shirley over at Gluten-Free Easily! I made GF pasta for the first time back in October to use in a Bob Evan’s Style Chicken and Noodles Recipe, it was surprisingly easy!
One last thing, tomorrow, April 14th, 2010 HSN will be premiering the Cricut Cake! I have been saving up for this for a few months now because I am not a professional cake decorator by any means and I don’t have a gluten-free bakery in my town to buy my boys birthdays cake from! So, I thought I would share:
Starting at 12 am on April 14th creative people everywhere will be able to get Cricut Cake in the world launch at HSN. And we’ll be online to celebrate. If you’ve not attended one of our all-night launch events you’ll want to get online and join. There are plenty of ways to play with us. The Cricut Community will be a fun place as always. We’ll be spending time in the Cricut Cake forums so look for us there. Join the conversation on Twitter. Just tweet in and follow us, www.twitter.com/provocraft. Or, come by our Facebook page and join in the fun www.facebook.com/cricutcake.
Why can’t I make a short post?
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